- Project Runeberg -  Letters written during a short residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark /
160

(1889) [MARC] Author: Mary Wollstonecraft With: Henry Morley
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160 LETTERS ON SWEDEN,
simplicity of manners, are the concomitants of ignor-
ance.
What, for example, has piety, under the heathen or
Christian system, been, but a blind faitli in things con-
trary to the principles of reason ? And could poor
reason make considerable advances when it was reck-
oned the highest degree of virtue to do violence to its
dictates ? Lutherans, preaching reformation, have
built a reputation for sanctity on the same foundation
as the Catholics; yet I do not perceive that a regular
attendance on public worship, and their other observ-
ances, make them a whit more true in their affections,
or honest in their private transactions. It seems, in-
deed, quite as easy to prevaricate with religious injunc-
tions as human laws, when the exercise of their reason
does not lead people to acquire principles for themselves
to be the criterion of all those they receive from others.
If travelling, as the completion of a liberal educa-
tion, were to be adopted on rational grounds, the
northern states ought to be visited before the more
polished parts of Europe, to serve as the elements
even of the knowledge of manners, only to be acquired
by tracing the various shades in different countries.
But, when visiting distant climes, a momentary social
sympathy should not be allowed to influence the con-
clusions of the understanding, for hospitality too fre-
quently leads travellers, especially those who travel in
search of pleasure, to make a false estimate of the
virtues of a nation, which, I am now couvinc3d, bear
an exact proportion to their scientific improvements.
Adieu.

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