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AN ESSAY, &c. - Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury, Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, vol. 1 
Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, ed. Douglas den Uyl (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001). 3 vols. Vol. 1.
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AN ESSAY, &c.
Sect. 1.SECTION I
I HAVE been considering (my Friend!) what your Fancy was, to express such a surprize as you did the other day, when I happen’d to speak to you in commendation of Raillery. Was it possible you shou’d suppose me so grave a Man, as to dislike all Conversation of this kind? Or were you afraid I shou’d not stand the trial, if you put me to it, by making the experiment in my own Case?
I must confess, you had reason enough for your Caution; if you cou’d imagine me at the bottom so true a Zealot, as not to bear the least Raillery on my own Opinions. ’Tis the Case, I know, with many. Whatever they think grave or solemn, they suppose must never be treated out of a grave and solemn way: Tho what Another thinks so, they can be contented to treat otherwise; and are forward to try the Edge of Ridicule against any Opinions besides their own.
The Question is, Whether this be fair or no? and, Whether it be not just and reasonable, to make as free with our own Opinions, as with those of other People? For to be sparing in this case, may be look’d upon as a piece of Selfishness. We may be charg’d perhaps with wilful Ignorance and blind Idolatry, for having taken Opinions upon Trust, and consecrated in our-selves certain Idol-Notions, which we will never suffer to be unveil’d, or seen in open light. They may perhaps be Monsters, and not Divinitys, or Sacred Truths, which are kept thus choicely, in some dark Corner of our Minds: The Specters may impose on us, whilst we refuse to turn ’em every way, and view their Shapes and Complexions in every light. For that which can be shewn only in a certain Light, is questionable. Truth, ’tis suppos’d, may bear all Lights: and one of those principal Lights or natural Mediums, by which Things are to be view’d, in order to a thorow Recognition, is Ridicule it-self, or that Manner of Proof by which we discern whatever is liable to just Raillery in any Subject. So much, at least, is allow’d by All, who at any time appeal to this Criterion. The gravest Gentlemen, even in the gravest Subjects, are suppos’d to acknowledg this: and can have no Right, ’tis thought, to deny others the Freedom of this Appeal; whilst they are free to censure like other Men, and in their gravest Arguments make no scruple to ask, Is it not Ridiculous?
Of this Affair, therefore, I design you shou’d know fully what my Sentiments are. And by this means you will be able to judg of me; whether I was sincere the other day in the Defence of Raillery, and can continue still to plead for those ingenious Friends of ours, who are often censur’d for their Humour of this kind, and for the Freedom they take in such an airy way of Conversation and Writing.
Sect. 2.SECTION II
IN GOOD earnest, when one considers what use is sometimes made of this Species of Wit, and to what an excess it has risen of late, in some Characters of the Age; one may be startled a little, and in doubt, what to think of the Practice, or whither this rallying Humour will at length carry us. It has pass’d from the Men of Pleasure to the Men of Business. Politicians have been infected with it: and the grave Affairs of State have been treated with an Air of Irony and Banter. The ablest Negotiators have been known the notablest Buffoons: the most celebrated Authors, the greatest Masters of Burlesque.
There is indeed a kind of defensive Raillery (if I may so call it) which I am willing enough to allow in Affairs of whatever kind; when the Spirit of Curiosity wou’d force a Discovery of more Truth than can conveniently be told. For we can never do more Injury to Truth, than by discovering too much of it, on some occasions. ’Tis the same with Understandings as with Eyes: To such a certain Size and Make just so much Light is necessary, and no more. Whatever is beyond, brings Darkness and Confusion.
’Tis real Humanity and Kindness, to hide strong Truths from tender Eyes. And to do this by a pleasant Amusement, is easier and civiller, than by a harsh Denial, or remarkable Reserve. But to go about industriously to confound Men, in a mysterious manner, and to make advantage or draw pleasure from that Perplexity they are thrown into, by such uncertain Talk; is as unhandsom in a way of Raillery, as when done with the greatest Seriousness, or in the most solemn way of Deceit. It may be necessary, as well now as heretofore, for wise Men to speak in Parables, and with a double Meaning, that the Enemy may be amus’d, and they only who have Ears to hear, may hear. But ’tis certainly a mean, impotent, and dull sort of Wit, which amuses all alike, and leaves the most sensible Man, and even a Friend, equally in doubt, and at a loss to understand what one’s real Mind is, upon any Subject.
This is that gross sort of Raillery, which is so offensive in good Company. And indeed there is as much difference between one sort and another, as between Fair-dealing and Hypocrisy; or between the genteelest Wit, and the most scurrilous Buffoonery. But by Freedom of Conversation this illiberal kind of Wit will lose its Credit. For Wit is its own Remedy. Liberty and Commerce bring it to its true Standard. The only danger is, the laying an Embargo. The same thing happens here, as in the Case of Trade. Impositions and Restrictions reduce it to a low Ebb: Nothing is so advantageous to it as a Free-Port.
We have seen in our own time the Decline and Ruin of a false sort of Wit, which so much delighted our Ancestors, that their Poems and Plays, as well as Sermons, were full of it. All Humour had something of the Quibble. The very Language of the Court was Punning. But ’tis now banish’d the Town, and all good Company: There are only some few Footsteps of it in the Country; and it seems at last confin’d to the Nurserys of Youth, as the chief Entertainment of Pedants and their Pupils. And thus in other respects Wit will mend upon our hands, and Humour will refine it-self; if we take care not to tamper with it, and bring it under Constraint, by severe Usage and rigorous Prescriptions. All Politeness is owing to Liberty. We polish one another, and rub off our Corners and rough Sides by a sort of amicable Collision. To restrain this, is inevitably to bring a Rust upon Mens Understandings. ’Tis a destroying of Civility, Good Breeding, and even Charity it-self, under pretence of maintaining it.
Sect. 3.SECTION III
TO describe true Raillery wou’d be as hard a matter, and perhaps as little to the purpose, as to define Good Breeding. None can understand the Speculation, besides those who have the Practice. Yet every-one thinks himself well-bred: and the formallest Pedant imagines he can railly with a good Grace and Humour. I have known some of those grave Gentlemen undertake to correct an Author for defending the Use of Raillery, who at the same time have upon every turn made use of that Weapon, tho they were naturally so very aukard at it. And this I believe may be observ’d in the Case of many Zealots, who have taken upon ’em to answer our modern Free-Writers. The Tragical Gentlemen, with the grim Aspect and Mein of true Inquisitors, have but an ill Grace when they vouchsafe to quit their Austerity, and be jocose and pleasant with an Adversary, whom they wou’d chuse to treat in a very different manner. For to do ’em Justice, had they their Wills, I doubt not but their Conduct and Mein wou’d be pretty much of a-piece. They wou’d, in all probability, soon quit their Farce, and make a thorow Tragedy. But at present there is nothing so ridiculous as this Janus-Face of Writers, who with one Countenance force a Smile, and with another show nothing beside Rage and Fury. Having enter’d the Lists, and agreed to the fair Laws of Combat by Wit and Argument, they have no sooner prov’d their Weapon, than you hear ’em crying aloud for help, and delivering over to the Secular Arm.
There can’t be a more preposterous Sight than an Executioner and a Merry-Andrew acting their Part upon the same Stage. Yet I am persuaded any-one will find this to be the real Picture of certain modern Zealots in their Controversial Writings. they are no more Masters of Gravity, than they are of Good Humour. The first always runs into harsh Severity, and the latter into an aukard Buffoonery. And thus between Anger and Pleasure, Zeal and Drollery, their Writing has much such a Grace as the Play of humoursom Children, who, at the same instant, are both peevish and wanton, and can laugh and cry almost in one and the same breath.
How agreeable such Writings are like to prove, and of what effect towards the winning over or convincing those who are suppos’d to be in Error, I need not go about to explain. Nor can I wonder, on this account, to hear those publick Lamentations of Zealots, that whilst the Books of their Adversarys are so current, their Answers to ’em can hardly make their way into the World, or be taken the least notice of. Pedantry and Bigotry are Mill-stones able to sink the best Book, which carries the least part of their dead weight. The Temper of the Pedagogue sutes not with the Age. And the World, however it may be taught, will not be tutor’d. If a Philosopher speaks, Men hear him willingly, while he keeps to his Philosophy. So is a Christian heard, while he keeps to his profess’d Charity and Meekness. In a Gentleman we allow of Pleasantry and Raillery, as being manag’d always with good Breeding, and never gross or clownish. But if a mere Scholastick, intrenching upon all these Characters, and writing as it were by Starts and Rebounds from one of these to another, appears upon the whole as little able to keep the Temper of Christianity, as to use the Reason of a Philosopher, or the Raillery of a Man of Breeding; what wonder is it, if the monstrous Product of such a jumbled Brain be ridiculous to the World?
If you think (my Friend!) that by this Description I have done wrong to these Zealot-Writers in religious Controversy; read only a few Pages in any one of ’em, (even where the Contest is not Abroad, but within their own Pale) and then pronounce.
Sect. 4.SECTION IV
BUT now that I have said thus much concerning Authors and Writings, you shall hear my Thoughts, as you have desir’d, upon the Subject of Conversation, and particularly a late One of a free kind, which you remember I was present at, with some Friends of yours, whom you fansy’d I shou’d in great Gravity have condemn’d.
’Twas, I must own, a very diverting one, and perhaps not the less so, for ending as abruptly as it did, and in such a sort of Confusion, as almost brought to nothing whatever had been advanc’d in the Discourse before. Some Particulars of this Conversation may not perhaps be so proper to commit to Paper. ’Tis enough that I put you in mind of the Conversation in general. A great many fine Schemes, ’tis true, were destroy’d; many grave Reasonings overturn’d: but this being done without offence to the Partys concern’d, and with improvement to the good Humour of the Company, it set the Appetite the keener to such Conversations. And I am persuaded, that had Reason herself been to judg of her own Interest, she wou’d have thought she receiv’d more advantage in the main from that easy and familiar way, than from the usual stiff Adherence to a particular Opinion.
But perhaps you may still be in the same humour of not believing me in earnest. You may continue to tell me, I affect to be paradoxical, in commending a Conversation as advantageous to Reason, which ended in such a total Uncertainty of what Reason had seemingly so well establish’d.
To this I answer, That according to the Notion I have of Reason, neither the written Treatises of the Learned, nor the set Discourses of the Eloquent, are able of themselves to teach the use of it. ’Tis the Habit alone of Reasoning, which can make a Reasoner. And Men can never be better invited to the Habit, than when they find Pleasure in it. A Freedom of Raillery, a Liberty in decent Language to question every thing, and an Allowance of unravelling or refuting any Argument, without offence to the Arguer, are the only Terms which can render such speculative Conversations any way agreeable. For to say truth, they have been render’d burdensom to Mankind by the Strictness of the Laws prescrib’d to ’em, and by the prevailing Pedantry and Bigotry of those who reign in ’em, and assume to themselves to be Dictators in these Provinces.
* Must I always be listener only? is as natural a Case of Complaint in Divinity, in Morals, and in Philosophy, as it was of old, the Satirist’s, in Poetry. Vicissitude is a mighty Law of Discourse, and mightily long’d for by Mankind. In matter of Reason, more is done in a minute or two, by way of Question and Reply, than by a continu’d Discourse of whole Hours. Orations are fit only to move the Passions: And the Power of Declamation is to terrify, exalt, ravish, or delight, rather than satisfy or instruct. A free Conference is a close Fight. The other way, in comparison to it, is merely a Brandishing, or Beating the Air. To be obstructed therefore and manacled in Conferences, and to be confin’d to hear Orations on certain Subjects, must needs give us a Distaste, and render the Subjects so manag’d, as disagreeable as the Managers. Men had rather reason upon Trifles, so they may reason freely, and without the Imposition of Authority, than on the usefullest and best Subjects in the world, where they are held under a Restraint and Fear.
Nor is it a wonder that Men are generally such faint Reasoners, and care so little to argue strictly on any trivial Subject in Company; when they dare so little exert their Reason in greater matters, and are forc’d to argue lamely, where they have need of the greatest Activity and Strength. The same thing therefore happens here as in strong and healthy Bodys, which are debar’d their natural Exercise, and confin’d in a narrow Space. They are forc’d to use odd Gestures and Contortions. They have a sort of Action, and move still, tho with the worst Grace imaginable. For the animal Spirits in such sound and active Limbs cannot lie dead, or without Employment. And thus the natural free Spirits of ingenious Men, if imprison’d and controul’d, will find out other ways of Motion to relieve themselves in their Constraint: and whether it be in Burlesque, Mimickry or Buffoonery, they will be glad at any rate to vent themselves, and be reveng’d on their Constrainers.
If Men are forbid to speak their minds seriously on certain Subjects, they will do it ironically. If they are forbid to speak at all upon such Subjects, or if they find it really dangerous to do so; they will then redouble their Disguise, involve themselves in Mysteriousness, and talk so as hardly to be understood, or at least not plainly interpreted, by those who are dispos’d to do ’em a mischief. And thus Raillery is brought more in fashion, and runs into an Extreme. ’Tis the persecuting Spirit has rais’d the bantering one: And want of Liberty may account for want of a true Politeness, and for the Corruption or wrong Use of Pleasantry and Humour.
If in this respect we strain the just measure of what we call Urbanity, and are apt sometimes to take a Buffooning Rustick Air, we may thank the ridiculous Solemnity and sour Humour of our Pedagogues: or rather, they may thank themselves, if they in particular meet with the heaviest of this kind of Treatment. For it will naturally fall heaviest, where the Constraint has been the severest. The greater the Weight is, the bitterer will be the Satir. The higher the Slavery, the more exquisite the Buffoonery.
That this is really so, may appear by looking on those Countrys where the spiritual Tyranny is highest. For the greatest of Buffoons are the Italians: and in their Writings, in their freer sort of Conversations, on their Theatres, and in their Streets, Buffoonery and Burlesque are in the highest vogue. ’Tis the only manner in which the poor cramp’d Wretches can discharge a free Thought. We must yield to ’em the Superiority in this sort of Wit. For what wonder is it if we, who have more of Liberty, have less Dexterity in that egregious way of Raillery and Ridicule?
Sect. 5.SECTION V
’TIS for this reason, I verily believe, that the Antients discover so little of this Spirit, and that there is hardly such a thing found as mere Burlesque in any Authors of the politer Ages. The manner indeed in which they treated the very gravest Subjects, was somewhat different from that of our days. Their Treatises were generally in a free and familiar Style. They chose to give us the Representation of real Discourse and Converse, by treating their Subjects in the way of *Dialogue and free Debate. The Scene was commonly laid at Table, or in the publick Walks or Meeting-places; and the usual Wit and Humour of their real Discourses appear’d in those of their own composing. And this was fair. For without Wit and Humour, Reason can hardly have its proof, or be distinguish’d. The Magisterial Voice and high Strain of the Pedagogue, commands Reverence and Awe. ’Tis of admirable use to keep Understandings at a distance, and out of reach. The other Manner, on the contrary, gives the fairest hold, and suffers an Antagonist to use his full Strength hand to hand, upon even ground.
’Tis not to be imagin’d what advantage the Reader has, when he can thus cope with his Author, who is willing to come on a fair Stage with him, and exchange the Tragick Buskin for an easier and more natural Gate and Habit. Grimace and Tone are mighty Helps to Imposture. And many a formal Piece of Sophistry holds proof under a severe Brow, which wou’d not pass under an easy one. ’Twas the Saying of * an antient Sage, “That Humour was the only Test of Gravity; and Gravity, of Humour. For a Subject which wou’d not bear Raillery, was suspicious; and a Jest which wou’d not bear a serious Examination, was certainly false Wit.”
But some Gentlemen there are so full of the Spirit of Bigotry, and false Zeal, that when they hear Principles examin’d, Sciences and Arts inquir’d into, and Matters of Importance treated with this frankness of Humour, they imagine presently that all Professions must fall to the ground, all Establishments come to ruin, and nothing orderly or decent be left standing in the world. They fear, or pretend to fear, that Religion it-self will be endanger’d by this free way; and are therefore as much alarm’d at this Liberty in private Conversation, and under prudent Management, as if it were grossly us’d in publick Company, or before the solemnest Assembly. But the Case, as I apprehend it, is far different. For you are to remember (my Friend!) that I am writing to you in defence only of the Liberty of the Club, and of that sort of Freedom which is taken amongst Gentlemen and Friends, who know one another perfectly well. And that ’tis natural for me to defend Liberty with this restriction, you may infer from the very Notion I have of Liberty it-self.
’Tis surely a Violation of the Freedom of publick Assemblys, for any one to take the Chair, who is neither call’d nor invited to it. To start Questions, or manage Debates, which offend the publick Ear, is to be wanting in that Respect which is due to common Society. Such Subjects shou’d either not be treated at all in publick, or in such a manner as to occasion no Scandal or Disturbance. The Publick is not, on any account, to be laugh’d at, to its face; or so reprehended for its Follys, as to make it think it-self contemn’d. And what is contrary to good Breeding, is in this respect as contrary to Liberty. It belongs to Men of slavish Principles, to affect a Superiority over the Vulgar, and to despise the Multitude. The Lovers of Mankind respect and honour Conventions and Societys of Men. And in mix’d Company, and Places where Men are met promiscuously on account of Diversion or Affairs, ’tis an Imposition and Hardship to force ’em to hear what they dislike, and to treat of Matters in a Dialect, which many who are present have perhaps been never us’d to. ’Tis a breach of the Harmony of publick Conversation, to take things in such a Key, as is above the common Reach, puts others to silence, and robs them of their Privilege of Turn. But as to private Society, and what passes in select Companys, where Friends meet knowingly, and with that very design of exercising their Wit, and looking freely into all Subjects; I see no pretence for any one to be offended at the way of Raillery and Humour, which is the very Life of such Conversations; the only thing which makes good Company, and frees it from the Formality of Business, and the Tutorage and Dogmaticalness of the Schools.
Sect. 6.SECTION VI
TO return therefore to our Argument. If the best of our modern Conversations are apt to run chiefly upon Trifles; if rational Discourses (especially those of a deeper Speculation) have lost their credit, and are in disgrace because of their Formality; there is reason for more allowance in the way of Humour and Gaiety. An easier Method of treating these Subjects, will make ’em more agreeable and familiar. To dispute about ’em, will be the same as about other Matters. They need not spoil good Company, or take from the Ease or Pleasure of a polite Conversation. And the oftner these Conversations are renew’d, the better will be their Effect. We shall grow better Reasoners, by reasoning pleasantly, and at our ease; taking up, or laying down these Subjects, as we fansy. So that, upon the whole, I must own to you, I cannot be scandaliz’d at the Raillery you took notice of, nor at the Effect it had upon our Company. The Humour was agreeable, and the pleasant Confusion which the Conversation ended in, is at this time as pleasant to me upon Reflection; when I consider, that instead of being discourag’d from resuming the Debate, we were so much the readier to meet again at any time, and dispute upon the same Subjects, even with more ease and satisfaction than before.
We had been a long while entertain’d, you know, upon the Subject of Morality and Religion. And amidst the different Opinions started and maintain’d by several of the Partys with great Life and Ingenuity; one or other wou’d every now and then take the liberty to appeal to Common Sense. Every-one allow’d the Appeal, and was willing to stand the trial. No-one but was assur’d Common Sense wou’d justify him. But when Issue was join’d, and the Cause examin’d at the Bar, there cou’d be no Judgment given. The Partys however were not less forward in renewing their Appeal, on the very next occasion which presented. No-one wou’d offer to call the Authority of the Court in question; till a Gentleman, whose good Understanding was never yet brought in doubt, desir’d the Company, very gravely, that they wou’d tell him what Common Sense was.
“If by the word Sense we were to understand Opinion and Judgment, and by the word common the Generality or any considerable part of Mankind; ’twou’d be hard, he said, to discover where the Subject of common Sense cou’d lie. For that which was according to the Sense of one part of Mankind, was against the Sense of another. And if the Majority were to determine common Sense, it wou’d change as often as Men chang’d. That which was according to common Sense to day, wou’d be the contrary to morrow, or soon after.”
But notwithstanding the different Judgments of Mankind in most Subjects, there were some however in which ’twas suppos’d they all agreed, and had the same Thoughts in common.—The Question was ask’d still, Where? “For whatever was of any moment, ’twas suppos’d, might be reduc’d under the head of Religion, Policy, or Morals.
“Of the Differences in Religion there was no occasion to speak; the Case was so fully known to all, and so feelingly understood by Christians, in particular, among themselves. They had made sound Experiment upon one another; each Party in their turn. No Endeavours had been wanting on the side of any particular Sect. Which-ever chanc’d to have the Power, fail’d not of putting all means in execution, to make their private Sense the publick one. But all in vain. Common Sense was as hard still to determine as Catholick or Orthodox. What with one was inconceivable Mystery, to another was of easy Comprehension. What to one was Absurdity, to another was Demonstration.
“As for Policy; What Sense or whose cou’d be call’d common, was equally a question. If plain British or Dutch Sense were right, Turkish and French Sense must certainly be very wrong. And as mere Nonsense as Passive-Obedience seem’d; we found it to be the common Sense of a great Party amongst our-selves, a greater Party in Europe, and perhaps the greatest Part of all the World besides.
“As for Morals; The difference, if possible, was still wider. For without considering the Opinions and Customs of the many barbarous and illiterate Nations; we saw that even the few who had attain’d to riper Letters, and to Philosophy, cou’d never as yet agree on one and the same System, or acknowledg the same moral Principles. And some even of our most admir’d modern Philosophers had fairly told us, that Virtue and Vice had, after all, no other Law or Measure, than mere Fashion and Vogue.”
It might have appear’d perhaps unfair in our Friends, had they treated only the graver Subjects in this manner; and suffer’d the lighter to escape. For in the gayer Part of Life, our Follys are as solemn as in the most serious. The fault is, we carry the Laugh but half-way. The false Earnest is ridicul’d, but the false Jest passes secure, and becomes as errant Deceit as the other. Our Diversions, our Plays, our Amusements become solemn. We dream of Happinesses, and Possessions, and Enjoyments, in which we have no Understanding, no Certainty; and yet we pursue these as the best known and most certain things in the World. There is nothing so foolish and deluding as a *partial Scepticism. For whilst the Doubt is cast only on one side, the Certainty grows so much stronger on the other. Whilst only one Face of Folly appears ridiculous, the other grows more solemn and deceiving.
But ’twas not thus with our Friends. They seem’d better Criticks, and more ingenious, and fair in their way of questioning receiv’d Opinions, and exposing the Ridicule of Things. And if you will allow me to carry on their Humour, I will venture to make the Experiment thro’out; and try what certain Knowledg or Assurance of things may be recover’d, in that very way, by which all Certainty, you thought, was lost, and an endless Scepticism introduc’d.
Sect. 1.SECTION I
IF a Native of Ethiopia were on a sudden transported into Europe, and placed either at Paris or Venice at a time of Carnival, when the general Face of Mankind was disguis’d, and almost every Creature wore a Mask; ’tis probable he wou’d for some time be at a stand, before he discover’d the Cheat: not imagining that a whole People cou’d be so fantastical, as upon Agreement, at an appointed time, to transform themselves by a Variety of Habits, and make it a solemn Practice to impose on one another, by this universal Confusion of Characters and Persons. Tho he might at first perhaps have look’d on this with a serious eye, it wou’d be hardly possible for him to hold his Countenance, when he had perceiv’d what was carrying on. The Europeans, on their side, might laugh perhaps at this Simplicity. But our Ethiopian wou’d certainly laugh with better reason. ’Tis easy to see which of the two wou’d be ridiculous. For he who laughs, and is himself ridiculous, bears a double share of Ridicule. However, shou’d it so happen, that in the Transport of Ridicule, our Ethiopian, having his Head still running upon Masks, and knowing nothing of the fair Complexion and common Dress of the Europeans, shou’d upon the sight of a natural Face and Habit, laugh just as heartily as before; wou’d not he in his turn become ridiculous, by carrying the Jest too far; when by a silly Presumption he took Nature for mere Art, and mistook perhaps a Man of Sobriety and Sense for one of those ridiculous Mummers?
There was a time when Men were accountable only for their Actions and Behaviour. Their Opinions were left to themselves. They had liberty to differ in these, as in their Faces. Every one took the Air and Look which was natural to him. But in process of time, it was thought decent to mend Mens Countenances, and render their intellectual Complexions uniform and of a sort. Thus the Magistrate became a Dresser, and in his turn wasdress’d too, as he deserv’d; when he had given up his Power to a new Order of Tire-Men. But tho in this extraordinary conjuncture ’twas agreed that there was only one certain and true Dress, one single peculiar Air, to which it was necessary all People shou’d conform; yet the misery was, that neither the Magistrate nor the Tire-Men themselves, cou’d resolve, which of the various Modes was the exact true-one. Imagine now, what the Effect of this must needs be; when Men became persecuted thus on every side about their Air and Feature, and were put to their shifts how to adjust and compose their Mein, according to the right Mode; when a thousand Models, a thousand Patterns of Dress were current, and alter’d every now and then, upon occasion, according to Fashion and the Humour of the Times. Judg whether Mens Countenances were not like to grow constrain’d, and the natural Visage of Mankind, by this Habit, distorted, convuls’d, and render’d hardly knowable.
But as unnatural or artificial as the general Face of Things may have been render’d by this unhappy Care of Dress, and Over-Tenderness for the Safety of Complexions; we must not therefore imagine that all Faces are alike besmear’d or plaister’d. All is not Fucus, or mere Varnish. Nor is the Face of Truth less fair and beautiful, for all the counterfeit Vizards which have been put upon her. We must remember the Carnival, and what the Occasion has been of this wild Concourse and Medley; who were the Institutors of it; and to what purpose Men were thus set a-work and amus’d. We may laugh sufficiently at the original Cheat; and, if pity will suffer us, may make our-selves diversion enough with the Folly and Madness of those who are thus caught, and practis’d on, by these Impostures. But we must remember withal our Ethiopian, and beware, lest by taking plain Nature for a Vizard, we become more ridiculous than the People whom we ridicule. Now if a Jest or Ridicule thus strain’d, be capable of leading the Judgment so far astray; ’tis probable that an Excess of Fear or Horror may work the same Effect.
Had it been your fortune (my Friend!) to have liv’d in Asia at the time when the *Magi by an egregious Imposture got possession of the Empire; no doubt you wou’d have had a detestation of the Act: And perhaps the very Persons of the Men might have grown so odious to you, that after all the Cheats and Abuses they had committed, you might have seen ’em dispatch’d with as relentless an eye as our later European Ancestors saw the Destruction of a like politick Body of Conjurers, the Knights Templars; who were almost become an Over-Match for the civil Sovereign. Your Indignation perhaps might have carry’d you to propose the razing all Monuments and Memorials of these Magicians. You might have resolv’d not to leave so much as their Houses standing. But if it had happen’d that these Magicians, in the time of their Dominion, had made any Collection of Books, or compil’d any themselves, in which they had treated of Philosophy, or Morals, or any other Science, or Part of Learning; wou’d you have carry’d your Resentment so far as to have extirpated these also, and condemn’d every Opinion or Doctrine they had espous’d, for no other reason than merely because they had espous’d it? Hardly a Scythian, a Tartar, or a Goth, wou’d act or reason so absurdly. Much less wou’d you (my Friend!) have carry’d on this Magophony, or Priest-Massacre, with such a barbarous Zeal. For, in good earnest, to destroy a Philosophy in hatred to a Man, implies as errant a Tartar-Notion, as to destroy or murder a Man in order to plunder him of his Wit, and get the inheritance of his Understanding.
I must confess indeed, that had all the Institutions, Statutes, and Regulations of this antient Hierarchy, resembled the fundamental * one, of the Order it-self, they might with a great deal of Justice have been suppress’d: For one can’t without some abhorrence read that Law of theirs;
† For a Magus must be born of a mother and her son.
But the Conjurers (as we’ll rather suppose) having consider’d that they ought in their Principle to appear as fair as possible to the World, the better to conceal their Practice, found it highly for their Interest to espouse some excellent moral Rules, and establish the very best Maxims of this kind. They thought it for their advantage perhaps, on their first setting out, to recommend the greatest Purity of Religion, the greatest Integrity of Life and Manners. They may perhaps too, in general, have preach’d up Charity and Good-will. They may have set to view the fairest Face of human Nature; and, together with their By-Laws, and political Institutions, have interwove the honestest Morals and best Doctrine in the World.
How therefore shou’d we have behav’d our-selves in this Affair? How shou’d we have carry’d our-selves towards this Order of Men, at the time of the Discovery of their Cheat, and Ruin of their Empire? Shou’d we have fall’n to work instantly with their Systems, struck at their Opinions and Doctrines without distinction, and erected a contrary Philosophy in their teeth? Shou’d we have flown at every religious and moral Principle, deny’d every natural and social Affection, and render’d Men as much *Wolves as was possible to one another, whilst we describ’d ’em such; and endeavour’d to make them see themselves by far more monstrous and corrupt, than with the worst Intentions it was ever possible for the worst of ’em to become?—This, you’ll say, doubtless wou’d have been a very preposterous Part, and cou’d never have been acted by other than mean Spirits, such as had been held in awe, and overfrighted † by the Magi.
And yet an ‡ able and witty Philosopher of our Nation was, we know, of late Years, so possess’d with a Horror of this kind, that both with respect to Politicks and Morals, he directly acted in this Spirit of Massacre. The Fright he took upon the Sight of the then governing Powers, who unjustly assum’d the Authority of the People, gave him such an Abhorrence of all popular Government, and of the very Notion of Liberty it-self; that to extinguish it for ever, he recommends the very extinguishing of Letters, and exhorts Princes not to spare so much as an antient Roman or Greek Historian.—Is not this in truth somewhat Gothick? And has not our Philosopher, in appearance, something of the Savage, that he shou’d use Philosophy and Learning as the Scythians are said to have us’d Anacharsis and others, for having visited the Wise of Greece, and learnt the Manners of a polite People?
His Quarrel with Religion was the same as with Liberty. The same Times gave him the same Terror in this other kind. He had nothing before his Eyes beside the Ravage of Enthusiasm, and the Artifice of those who rais’d and conducted that Spirit. And the good sociable Man, as savage and unsociable as he wou’d make himself and all Mankind appear by his Philosophy, expos’d himself during his Life, and took the utmost pains, that after his Death we might be deliver’d from the occasion of these Terrors. He did his utmost to shew us, “That both in Religion and Morals we were impos’d on by our Governors; that there was nothing which by Nature inclin’d us either way; nothing which naturally drew us to the Love of what was without, or beyond *our-selves”: Tho the Love of such great Truths and sovereign Maxims as he imagin’d these to be, made him the most laborious of all Men in composing Systems of this kind for our Use; and forc’d him, notwithstanding his natural Fear, to run continually the highest risk of being a Martyr for our Deliverance.
Give me leave therefore (my Friend!) on this occasion, to prevent your Seriousness, and assure you, that there is no such mighty Danger as we are apt to imagine from these fierce Prosecutors of Superstition, who are so jealous of every religious or moral Principle. Whatever Savages they may appear in Philosophy, they are in their common Capacity as Civil Persons, as one can wish. Their free communicating of their Principles may witness for them. ’Tis the height of Sociableness to be thus friendly and communicative.
If the Principles, indeed, were conceal’d from us, and made a Mystery, they might become considerable. Things are often made so, by being kept as Secrets of a Sect or Party; and nothing helps this more than the Antipathy and Shyness of a contrary Party. If we fall presently into Horrors, and Consternation, upon the hearing Maxims which are thought poisonous; we are in no disposition to use that familiar and easy part of Reason, which is the best Antidote. The only Poison to Reason, is Passion. For false Reasoning is soon redress’d, where Passion is remov’d. But if the very hearing certain Propositions of Philosophy be sufficient to move our Passion; ’tis plain, the Poison has already gain’d on us, and we are effectually prevented in the use of our reasoning Faculty.
Were it not for the Prejudices of this kind; what shou’d hinder us from diverting our-selves with the Fancy of one of these modern Reformers we have been speaking of? What shou’d we say to one of these Anti-zealots, who, in the Zeal of such a cool Philosophy, shou’d assure us faithfully, “That we were the most mistaken Men in the world, to imagine there was any such thing as natural Faith or Justice? for that it was only Force and Power which constituted Right. That there was no such thing in reality as Virtue; no Principle of Order in things above, or below; no secret Charm or Force of Nature, by which every-one was made to operate willingly or unwillingly towards publick Good, and punish’d and tormented if he did otherwise.”—Is not this the very Charm it-self? Is not the Gentleman at this instant under the power of it?—“Sir! The Philosophy you have condescended to reveal to us, is most extraordinary. We are beholden to you for your Instruction. But, pray, whence is this Zeal in our behalf? What are We to You? Are You our Father? Or if You were, why this Concern for Us? Is there then such a thing as natural Affection? If not; why all this Pains, why all this Danger on our account? Why not keep this Secret to Your-self? Of what advantage is it to You, to deliver us from the Cheat? The more are taken in it, the better. ’Tis directly against your Interest to undeceive Us, and let us know that only private Interest governs You; and that nothing nobler, or of a larger kind, shou’d govern us, whom you converse with. Leave us to our-selves, and to that notable Art by which we are happily tam’d, and render’d thus mild and sheepish. ’Tis not fit we shou’d know that by Nature we are all Wolves. Is it possible that one who has really discover’d himself such, shou’d take pains to communicate such a Discovery?”
Sect. 2.SECTION II
IN reality (my Friend!) a severe Brow may well be spar’d on this occasion; when we are put thus upon the Defense of common Honesty, by such fair honest Gentlemen, who are in Practice so different from what they wou’d appear in Speculation. Knaves I know there are in Notion and Principle, as well as in Practice: who think all Honesty as well as Religion a mere Cheat; and by a very consistent reasoning, have resolv’d deliberately to do whatever by Power or Art they are able, for their private Advantage. But such as these never open themselves in Friendship to others. They have no such Passion for Truth, or Love for Mankind. They have no Quarrel with Religion or Morals; but know what use to make of both, upon occasion. If they ever discover their Principles, ’tis only at unawares. They are sure to preach Honesty, and go to Church.
On the other side, the Gentlemen for whom I am apologizing, cannot however be call’d Hypocrites. They speak as ill of themselves as they possibly can. If they have hard thoughts of human Nature; ’tis a Proof still of their Humanity, that they give such warning to the World. If they represent Men by Nature treacherous and wild, ’tis out of care for Mankind; lest by being too tame and trusting, they shou’d easily be caught.
Impostors naturally speak the best of human Nature, that they may the easier abuse it. These Gentlemen, on the contrary, speak the worst; and had rather they themselves shou’d be censur’d with the rest, than that a Few shou’d by Imposture prevail over the Many. For ’tis Opinion of Goodness* which creates Easiness of Trust: and by Trust we are betray’d to Power; our very Reason being thus captivated by those in whom we come insensibly to have an implicit Faith. But supposing one another to be by Nature such very Savages, we shall take care to come less in one another’s power: and apprehending Power to be insatiably coveted by all, we shall the better fence against the Evil; not by giving all into one Hand (as the Champion of this Cause wou’d have us) but, on the contrary, by a right Division and Balance of Power, and by the Restraint of good Laws and Limitations, which may secure the publick Liberty.
Shou’d you therefore ask me, whether I really thought these Gentlemen were fully persuaded of the Principles they so often advance in Company? I shou’d tell you, That tho I wou’d not absolutely arraign the Gentlemens Sincerity; yet there was something of Mystery in the Case, more than was imagin’d. The Reason, perhaps, why Men of Wit delight so much to espouse these paradoxical Systems, is not in truth that they are so fully satisfy’d with ’em; but in a view the better to oppose some other Systems, which by their fair appearance have help’d, they think, to bring Mankind under Subjection. They imagine that by this general Scepticism, which they wou’d introduce, they shall better deal with the dogmatical Spirit which prevails in some particular Subjects. And when they have accustom’d Men to bear Contradiction in the main, and hear the Nature of Things disputed, at large; it may be safer, they conclude, to argue separately, upon certain nice Points in which they are not altogether so well satisfy’d. So that from hence, perhaps, you may still better apprehend why, in Conversation,the Spirit of Raillery prevails so much, and Notions are taken up for no reason besides their being odd, and out of the way.
Sect. 3.SECTION III
BUT let who will condemn the Humour thus describ’d; for my part, I am in no such apprehension from this sceptical kind of Wit. Men indeed may, in a serious way, be so wrought on, and confounded, by different Modes of Opinion, different Systems and Schemes impos’d by Authority, that they may wholly lose all Notion or Comprehension of Truth. I can easily apprehend what Effect Awe has over Mens Understandings. I can very well suppose Men may be frighted out of their Wits: but I have no apprehension they shou’d be laugh’d out of ’em. I can hardly imagine that in a pleasant way they shou’d ever be talk’d out of their Love for Society, or reason’d out of Humanity and common Sense. A mannerly Wit can hurt no Cause or Interest for which I am in the least concern’d: And philosophical Speculations, politely manag’d, can never surely render Mankind more un-sociable or un-civiliz’d. This is not the Quarter from whence I can possibly expect an Inroad of Savageness and Barbarity. And by the best of my Observation, I have learnt, that Virtue is never such a Sufferer, by being contested, as by being betray’d. My Fear is not so much from its witty Antagonists, who give it Exercise, and put it on its Defense, as from its tender Nurses, who are apt to over-lay it, and kill it, with Excess of Care and Cherishing.
I Have known a Building, which by the Officiousness of the Workmen has been so shor’d, and screw’d up, on the side where they pretended it had a Leaning, that it has at last been turn’d the contrary way, and overthrown. There has something, perhaps, of this kind happen’d in Morals. Men have not been contented to shew the natural Advantages of Honesty and Virtue. They have rather lessen’d these, the better, as they thought, to advance another Foundation. They have made Virtue so mercenary a thing, and have talk’d so much of its Rewards, that one can hardly tell what there is in it, after all, which can be worth rewarding. For to be brib’d only or terrify’d into an honest Practice, bespeaks little of real Honesty or Worth. We may make, ’tis true, whatever Bargain we think fit; and may bestow in favour what Overplus we please. But there can be no Excellence or Wisdom in voluntarily rewarding what is neither estimable, nor deserving. And if Virtue be not really estimable in it-self, I can see nothing estimable in following it for the sake of a Bargain.
If the Love of doing good, be not, of it-self, a good and right Inclination; I know not how there can possibly be such a thing as Goodness or Virtue. If the Inclination be right; ’tis a perverting of it, to apply it solely to the Reward, and make us conceive such Wonders of the Grace and Favour which is to attend Virtue; when there is so little shewn of the intrinsick Worth or Value of the Thing it-self.
I cou’d be almost tempted to think, that the true Reason why some of the most heroick Virtues have so little notice taken of ’em in our holy Religion, is, because there wou’d have been no room left for Disinterestedness, had they been intitled to a share of that infinite Reward, which Providence has by Revelation assign’d to other Dutys. *Private Friendship, andZeal for the Publick, and ourCountry, are Virtues purely voluntary in a Christian. They are no essential Parts of his Charity. He is not so ty’d to the Affairs of this Life; nor is he oblig’d to enter into such Engagements with this lower World, as are of no help to him in acquiring a better. His Conversation is in Heaven. Nor has he occasion for such supernumerary Cares or Embarassments here on Earth, as may obstruct his way thither, or retard him in the careful Task of working out his own Salvation. If nevertheless any Portion of Reward be reserv’d hereafter for the generous Part of a Patriot, or that of a thorow Friend; this is still behind the Curtain, and happily conceal’d from us; that we may be the more deserving of it, when it comes.
It appears indeed under the Jewish Dispensation, that each of these Virtues had their illustrious Examples, and were in some manner recommended to us as honourable, and worthy our Imitation. Even Saul himself, as ill a Prince as he is represented, appears both living and dying to have been respected and prais’d for the Love he bore his native Country. And the Love which was so remarkable between his Son and his Successor, gives us a noble View of a disinterested Friendship, at least on one side. But the heroick Virtue of these Persons had only the common Reward of Praise attributed to it, and cou’d not claim a future Recompence under a Religion which taught no future State, nor exhibited any Rewards or Punishments, besides such as were Temporal, and had respect to the written Law.
And thus the Jews as well as Heathens were left to their Philosophy, to be instructed in the sublime part of Virtue, and induc’d by Reason to that which was never injoin’d ’em by Command. No Premium or Penalty being inforc’d in these Cases, the disinterested Part subsisted, the Virtue was a free Choice, and the Magnanimity of the Act was left intire. He who wou’d be generous, had the Means. He who wou’d frankly serve his Friend, or Country, at the * expence even of his Life, might do it on fair terms. †Dulce et decorum est was his sole Reason. ’Twas Inviting and Becoming. ’Twas Good and Honest. And that this is still a good Reason, and according to Common Sense, I will endeavour to satisfy you. For I shou’d think my-self very ridiculous to be angry with any-one for thinking me dishonest; if I cou’d give no account of my Honesty, nor shew upon what Principle I differ’d from ‡a Knave.
Sect. 1.SECTION I
THE Roman Satirist may be thought more than ordinarily satirical, when speaking of the Nobility and Court, he is so far from allowing them to be the Standard of Politeness and good Sense, that he makes ’em in a manner the Reverse.
* Rare is common sense in men of that rank.
Some of the † most ingenious Commentators, however, interpret this very differently from what is generally apprehended. They make this Common Sense of the Poet, by a Greek Derivation, to signify Sense of Publick Weal, and of the Common Interest; Love of the Community or Society, natural Affection, Humanity, Obligingness, or that sort of Civility which rises from a just Sense of the common Rights of Mankind, and the natural Equality there is among those of the same Species.
And indeed if we consider the thing nicely, it must seem somewhat hard in the Poet, to have deny’d Wit or Ability to a Court such as that of Rome, even under a Tiberius or a Nero. But for Humanity or Sense of Publick Good, and the common Interest of Mankind, ’twas no such deep Satir to question whether this was properly the Spirit of a Court. ’Twas difficult to apprehend what Community subsisted among Courtiers; or what Publick between an absolute Prince and his Slave-Subjects. And for real Society, there cou’d be none between such as had no other Sense than that of private Good.
Our Poet therefore seems not so immoderate in his Censure; if we consider it is the Heart, rather than the Head, he takes to task: when reflecting on a Court-Education, he thinks it unapt to raise any Affection towards a Country; and looks upon young Princes, and Lords, as the young Masters of the World; who being indulg’d in all their Passions, and train’d up in all manner of Licentiousness, have that thorow Contempt and Disregard of Mankind, which Mankind in a manner deserves, where Arbitrary Power is permitted, and a Tyranny ador’d.
* So much for the young man whom fame gives out as proud and puffed-up, and full of his relationship to Nero.
A publick Spirit can come only from a social Feeling or Sense of Partnership with human Kind. Now there are none so far from being Partners in this Sense, or Sharers in this common Affection, as they who scarcely know an Equal, nor consider themselves as subject to any Law of Fellowship or Community. And thus Morality and good Government go together. There is no real Love of Virtue, without the knowledg of Publick Good. And where absolute Power is, there is no Publick.
They who live under a Tyranny, and have learnt to admire its Power as Sacred and Divine, are debauch’d as much in their Religion, as in their Morals. Publick Good, according to their apprehension, is as little the Measure or Rule of Government in the Universe, as in the State. They have scarce a Notion of what is good or just, other than as mere Will and Power have determin’d. Omnipotence, they think, wou’d hardly be it-self, were it not at liberty to * dispense with the Laws of Equity, and change at pleasure the Standard of moral Rectitude.
But notwithstanding the Prejudices and Corruptions of this kind, ’tis plain there is something still of a publick Principle, even where it is most perverted and depress’d. The worst of Magistracys, the mere Despotick kind, can shew sufficient Instances of Zeal and Affection towards it. Where no other Government is known, it seldom fails of having that Allegiance and Duty paid it, which is owing to a better Form. The Eastern Countrys, and many barbarous Nations, have been and still are Examples of this kind. The personal Love they bear their Prince, however severe towards them, may shew, how natural an Affection there is towards Government and Order among Mankind. If Men have really no publick Parent, no Magistrate in common to cherish and protect ’em, they will still imagine they have such a one; and, like new-born Creatures who have never seen their Dam, will fansy one for themselves, and apply (as by Nature prompted) to some like Form, for Favour and Protection. In the room of a true Foster-Father, and Chief, they will take after a false one; and in the room of a legal Government and just Prince, obey even a Tyrant, and endure a whole Lineage and Succession of such.
As for us Britons, thank Heaven, we have a better Sense of Government deliver’d to us from our Ancestors. We have the Notion of a Publick, and a Constitution; how a Legislative, and how an Executive is model’d. We understand Weight and Measure in this kind, and can reason justly on the Balance of Power and Property. The Maxims we draw from hence, are as evident as those in Mathematicks. Our increasing Knowledg shews us every day, more and more, what Common Sense is in Politicks: And this must of necessity lead us to understand a like Sense in Morals; which is the Foundation.
’Tis ridiculous to say, there is any Obligation on Man to act sociably, or honestly, in a form’d Government; and not in that which is commonly call’d *the State of Nature. For, to speak in the fashionable Language of our modern Philosophy: “Society being founded on a Compact; the Surrender made of every Man’s private unlimited Right, into the hands of the Majority, or such as the Majority shou’d appoint, was of free Choice, and by a Promise.” Now the Promise it-self was made in the State of Nature: And that which cou’d make a Promise obligatory in the State of Nature, must make all other Acts of Humanity as much our real Duty, and natural Part. Thus Faith, Justice, Honesty, and Virtue, must have been as early as the State of Nature, or they cou’d never have been at all. The Civil Union, or Confederacy, cou’d never make Right or Wrong; if they subsisted not before. He who was free to any Villany before his Contract, will, and ought to make as free with his Contract, when he thinks fit. The Natural Knave has the same reason to be a Civil one; and may dispense with his politick Capacity as oft as he sees occasion: ’Tis only his Word stands in his way.—A Man is oblig’d to keep his Word. Why? Because he has given hisWord to keep it.—Is not this a notable Account of the Original of moral Justice, and the Rise of Civil Government and Allegiance!
Sect. 2.SECTION II
BUT to pass by these Cavils of a Philosophy, which speaks so much of Nature with so little meaning; we may with justice surely place it as a Principle, “That if any thing be natural, in any Creature, or any Kind; ’tis that which is preservative of the Kind it-self, and conducing to its Welfare and Support.” If in original and pure Nature, it be wrong to break a Promise, or be treacherous; ’tis as truly wrong to be in any respect inhuman, or any way wanting in our natural part towards human Kind. If Eating and Drinking be natural, Herding is so too. If any Appetite or Sense be natural, the Sense of Fellowship is the same. If there be any thing of Nature in that Affection which is between the Sexes, the Affection is certainly as natural towards the consequent Offspring; and so again between the Offspring themselves, as Kindred and Companions, bred under the same Discipline and Oeconomy. And thus a Clan or Tribe is gradually form’d; a Publick is recogniz’d: and besides the Pleasure found in social Entertainment, Language, and Discourse, there is so apparent a Necessity for continuing this good Correspondency and Union, that to have no Sense or Feeling of this kind, no Love of Country, Community, or any thing in common, wou’d be the same as to be insensible even of the plainest Means of Self-Preservation, and most necessary Condition of Self-Enjoyment.
How the Wit of Man shou’d so puzzle this Cause, as to make Civil Government and Society appear a kind of Invention, and Creature of Art, I know not. For my own part, methinks, this herding Principle, and associating Inclination, is seen so natural and strong in most Men, that one might readily affirm, ’twas even from the Violence of this Passion that so much Disorder arose in the general Society of Mankind.
Universal Good, or the Interest of the World in general, is a kind of remote philosophical Object. That greater Community falls not easily under the Eye. Nor is a National Interest, or that of a whole People, or Body Politick, so readily apprehended. In less Partys, Men may be intimately conversant and acquainted with one another. They can there better taste Society, and enjoy the common Good and Interest of a more contracted Publick. They view the whole Compass and Extent of their Community; and see, and know particularly whom they serve, and to what end they associate and conspire. All Men have naturally their share of this combining Principle: and they who are of the sprightliest and most active Facultys, have so large a share of it, that unless it be happily directed by right Reason, it can never find Exercise for it-self in so remote a Sphere as that of the Body Politick at large. For here perhaps the thousandth part of those whose Interests are concern’d, are scarce so much as known by sight. No visible Band is form’d; no strict Alliance: but the Conjunction is made with different Persons, Orders, and Ranks of Men; not sensibly, but in Idea; according to that general View or Notion of a State or Commonwealth.
Thus the social Aim is disturb’d, for want of certain Scope. The close Sympathy and conspiring Virtue is apt to lose it-self, for want of Direction, in so wide a Field. Nor is the Passion any-where so strongly felt, or vigorously exerted, as in actual Conspiracy or War; in which the highest Genius’s are often known the forwardest to employ themselves. For the most generous Spirits are the most combining. They delight most to move in Concert; and feel (if I may so say) in the strongest manner, the force of the confederating Charm.
’Tis strange to imagine that War, which of all things appears the most savage, shou’d be the Passion of the most heroick Spirits. But ’tis in War that the Knot of Fellowship is closest drawn. ’Tis in War that mutual Succour is most given, mutual Danger run, and common Affection most exerted and employ’d. For Heroism and Philanthropy are almost one and the same. Yet by a small mis-guidance of the Affection, a Lover of Mankind becomes a Ravager: A Hero and Deliverer becomes an Oppressor and Destroyer.
Hence other Divisions amongst Men. Hence, in the way of Peace and Civil Government, that Love of Party, and Subdivision by Cabal. For Sedition is a kind of cantonizing already begun within the State. To cantonize is natural; when the Society grows vast and bulky: And powerful States have found other Advantages in sending Colonys abroad, than merely that of having Elbow-room at home, or extending their Dominion into distant Countrys. Vast Empires are in many respects unnatural: but particularly in this, That be they ever so well constituted, the Affairs of many must, in such Governments, turn upon a very few; and the Relation be less sensible, and in a manner lost, between the Magistrate and People, in a Body so unwieldy in its Limbs, and whose Members lie so remote from one another, and distant from the Head.
’Tis in such Bodys as these that strong Factions are aptest to engender. The associating Spirits, for want of Exercise, form new Movements, and seek a narrower Sphere of Activity, when they want Action in a greater. Thus we have Wheels within Wheels. And in some National Constitutions, notwithstanding the Absurdity in Politicks, we have one Empire within another. Nothing is so delightful as to incorporate. Distinctions of many kinds are invented. Religious Societys are form’d. Orders are erected; and their Interests espous’d, and serv’d, with the utmost Zeal and Passion. Founders and Patrons of this sort are never wanting. Wonders are perform’d, in this wrong social Spirit, by those Members of separate Societys. And the associating Genius of Man is never better prov’d, than in those very Societys, which are form’d in opposition to the general one of Mankind, and to the real Interest of the State.
In short, the very Spirit of Faction, for the greatest part, seems to be no other than the Abuse or Irregularity of that social Love, and common Affection, which is natural to Mankind. For the Opposite of Sociableness is Selfishness. And of all Characters, the thorow-selfish one is the least forward in taking Party. The Men of this sort are, in this respect, true Men of Moderation. They are secure of their Temper; and possess themselves too well, to be in danger of entering warmly into any Cause, or engaging deeply with any Side or Faction.
Sect. 3.SECTION III
YOU have heard it (my Friend!) as a common Saying, that Interest governs the World. But, I believe, whoever looks narrowly into the Affairs of it, will find, that Passion, Humour, Caprice, Zeal, Faction, and a thousand other Springs, which are counter to Self-Interest, have as considerable a part in the Movements of this Machine. There are more Wheels and Counter-Poises in this Engine than are easily imagin’d. ’Tis of too complex a kind, to fall under one simple View, or be explain’d thus briefly in a word or two. The Studiers of this Mechanism must have a very partial Eye, to overlook all other Motions besides those of the lowest and narrowest compass. ’Tis hard, that in the Plan or Description of this Clock-work, no Wheel or Balance shou’d be allow’d on the side of the better and more enlarg’d Affections; that nothing shou’d be understood to be done in Kindness, or Generosity; nothing in pure Good-Nature or Friendship, or thro’ any social or natural Affection of any kind: when, perhaps, the main Springs of this Machine will be found to be either these very natural Affections themselves, or a compound kind deriv’d from them, and retaining more than one half of their Nature.
But here (my Friend!) you must not expect that I shou’d draw you up a formal *Scheme of the Passions, or pretend to shew you their Genealogy and Relation; how they are interwoven with one another, or interfere with our Happiness and Interest. ’Twou’d be out of the Genius and Compass of such a Letter as this, to frame a just Plan or Model; by which you might, with an accurate View, observe what Proportion the friendly and natural Affections seem to bear in this Order of Architecture.
Modern Projectors, I know, wou’d willingly rid their hands of these natural Materials; and wou’d fain build after a more uniform way. They wou’d new-frame the human Heart; and have a mighty fancy to reduce all its Motions, Balances and Weights, to that one Principle and Foundation of a cool and deliberate Selfishness. Men, it seems, are unwilling to think they can be so outwitted, and impos’d on by Nature, as to be made to serve her Purposes, rather than their own. They are asham’d to be drawn thus out of themselves, and forc’d from what they esteem their true Interest.
There has been in all times a sort of narrow-minded Philosophers, who have thought to set this Difference to rights, by conquering Nature in themselves. A primitive Father and Founder among these, saw well this Power of †Nature, and understood it so far, that he earnestly exhorted his Followers neither to beget Children, nor serve their Country. There was no dealing with Nature, it seems, while these alluring Objects stood in the way. Relations, Friends, Countrymen, Laws, Politick Constitutions, the Beauty of Order and Government, and the Interest of Society and Mankind, were Objects which, he well saw, wou’d naturally raise a stronger Affection than any which was grounded upon the narrow bottom of mere Self. His Advice, therefore, not to marry, nor engage at all in the Publick, was wise, and sutable to his Design. There was no way to be truly a Disciple of this Philosophy, but to leave Family, Friends, Country, and Society, to cleave to it.—And, in good earnest, who wou’d not, if it were Happiness to do so?—The Philosopher, however, was kind, in telling us his Thought. ’Twas a Token of his fatherly Love of Mankind.
* Thou, Father, art [es is the revised reading] discoverer of things; thou givest us fatherly precepts.
But the Revivers of this Philosophy in latter Days, appear to be of a lower Genius. They seem to have understood less of this force of Nature, and thought to alter the Thing, by shifting a Name. They wou’d so explain all the social Passions, and natural Affections, as to denominate ’em of†the selfish kind. Thus Civility, Hospitality, Humanity towards Strangers or People in distress, is only a more deliberate Selfishness. An honest Heart is only a more cunning one: and Honesty and Good-Nature, a more deliberate, or better-regulated Self-Love. The Love of Kindred, Children and Posterity, is purely Love of Self, and of one’s own immediate Blood: As if, by this Reckoning, all Mankind were not included; All being of one Blood, and join’d by Inter-Marriages and Alliances; as they have been transplanted in Colonys, and mix’d one with another. And thus Love of one’s Country, and Love of Mankind, must also be Self-Love.Magnanimity and Courage, no doubt, are Modifications of this universal Self-Love! For *Courage (says our modern Philosopher) is constant Anger. And all Men (says † a witty Poet) wou’d be Cowards if they durst.
That the Poet, and the Philosopher both, were Cowards, may be yielded perhaps without dispute. They may have spoken the best of their Knowledg. But for true Courage, it has so little to do with Anger, that there lies always the strongest Suspicion against it, where this Passion is highest. The true Courage is the cool and calm. The bravest of Men have the least of a brutal bullying Insolence; and in the very time of Danger are found the most serene, pleasant, and free. Rage, we know, can make a Coward forget himself and fight. But what is done in Fury or Anger, can never be plac’d to the account of Courage. Were it otherwise, Womankind might claim to be the stoutest Sex: for their Hatred and Anger have ever been allow’d the strongest and most lasting.
Other Authors there have been of a yet inferior kind: a sort of ‡ Distributers and petty Retailers of this Wit; who have run Changes, and Divisions, without end, upon this Article of Self-Love. You have the very same Thought spun out a hundred ways, and drawn into Motto’s, and Devises, to set forth this Riddle; That “act as disinterestedly or generously as you please, Self still is at the bottom, and nothing else.” Now if these Gentlemen, who delight so much in the Play of Words, but are cautious how they grapple closely with Definitions, wou’d tell us only what **Self-Interest was, and determine Happiness and Good, there wou’d be an end of this enigmatical Wit. For in this we shou’d all agree, that Happiness was to be pursu’d, and in fact was always sought after: but whether found in following Nature, and giving way to common Affection; or in suppressing it, and turning every Passion towards private Advantage, a narrow Self-End, or the Preservation of mere Life; this wou’d be the matter in debate between us. The Question wou’d not be, “Who lov’d himself, or Who not”; but “Who lov’d and serv’d himself the rightest, and after the truest manner.”
’Tis the height of Wisdom, no doubt, to be rightly selfish. And to value Life, as far as Life is good, belongs as much to Courage as to Discretion. But a wretched Life is no wise Man’s wish. To be without Honesty, is, in effect, to be without natural Affection or Sociableness of any kind. And a Life without natural Affection, Friendship, or Sociableness, wou’d be found a wretched one, were it to be try’d. ’Tis as these Feelings and Affections are intrinsecally valuable and worthy, that Self-Interest is to be rated and esteem’d. A Man is by nothing so much himself, as by his Temper, and the Character of his Passions and Affections. If he loses what is manly and worthy in these, he is as much lost to himself as when he loses his Memory and Understanding. The least step into Villany or Baseness, changes the Character and Value of a Life. He who wou’d preserve Life at any rate, must abuse himself more than any-one can abuse him. And if Life be not a dear thing indeed, he who has refus’d to live a Villain, and has prefer’d Death to a base Action, has been a Gainer by the bargain.
Sect. 4.SECTION IV
’TIS well for you (my Friend!) that in your Education you have had little to do with the *Philosophy, or Philosophers of our days. A good Poet, and an honest Historian, may afford Learning enough for a Gentleman. And such a one, whilst he reads these Authors as his Diversion, will have a truer relish of their Sense, and understand ’em better than a Pedant, with all his Labours, and the assistance of his Volumes of Commentators. I am sensible, that of old ’twas the custom to send the Youth of highest Quality to Philosophers to be form’d. ’Twas in their Schools, in their Company, and by their Precepts and Example, that the illustrious Pupils were inur’d to Hardship, and exercis’d in the severest Courses of Temperance and Self-denial. By such an early Discipline, they were fitted for the Command of others; to maintain their Country’s Honour in War, rule wisely in the State, and fight against Luxury and Corruption in times of Prosperity and Peace. If any of these Arts are comprehended in University-Learning, ’tis well. But as some Universitys in the World are now model’d, they seem not so very effectual to these Purposes, nor so fortunate in preparing for a right Practice of the World, or a just Knowledg of Men and Things. Had you been thorow-pac’d in the Ethicks or Politicks of the Schools, I shou’d never have thought of writing a word to you upon Common Sense, or the Love of Mankind. I shou’d not have cited * the Poet’s Dulce & Decorum. Nor, if I had made a Character for you, as he for his noble Friend, shou’d I have crown’d it with his
† He fears not to die for his dear friends and fatherland.
Our Philosophy now-a-days runs after the manner of that able Sophister, who said, ‡ “Skin for Skin: All that a Man has will he give for his Life.” ’Tis orthodox Divinity, as well as sound Philosophy, with some Men, to rate Life by the Number and Exquisiteness of the pleasing Sensations. These they constantly set in opposition to dry Virtue and Honesty. And upon this foot, they think it proper to call all Men Fools, who wou’d hazard a Life, or part with any of these pleasing Sensations; except on the condition of being repaid in the same Coin, and with good Interest into the bargain. Thus, it seems, we are to learn Virtue by Usury; and inhance the Value of Life, and of the Pleasures of Sense, in order to be wise, and to live well.
But you (my Friend!) are stubborn in this Point: and instead of being brought to think mournfully of Death, or to repine at the Loss of what you may sometimes hazard by your Honesty, you can laugh at such Maxims as these; and divert your-self with the improv’d Selfishness, and philosophical Cowardice of these fashionable Moralists. You will not be taught to value Life at their rate, or degrade Honesty as they do, who make it only a Name. You are persuaded there is something more in the Thing than Fashion or Applause; that Worth and Merit are substantial, and no way variable by Fancy or Will; and that Honour is as much it-self, when acting by it-self, and unseen, as when seen, and applauded by all the World.
Shou’d one, who had the Countenance of a Gentleman, ask me “Why I wou’d avoid being nasty, when nobody was present?” In the first place I shou’d be fully satisfy’d that he himself was a very nasty Gentleman who cou’d ask this Question; and that it wou’d be a hard matter for me to make him ever conceive what true Cleanliness was. However, I might, notwithstanding this, be contented to give him a slight Answer, and say, “’Twas because I had a Nose.”
Shou’d he trouble me further, and ask again, “What if I had a Cold? Or what if naturally I had no such nice Smell?” I might answer perhaps, “That I car’d as little to see my-self nasty, as that others shou’d see me in that condition.” “But what if it were in the dark?” Why even then, tho I had neither Nose, nor Eyes, my Sense of the matter wou’d still be the same; my Nature wou’d rise at the Thought of what was sordid: or if it did not, I shou’d have a wretched Nature indeed, and hate my-self for a Beast. Honour my-self I never cou’d; whilst I had no better a sense of what, in reality, I ow’d my-self, and what became me, as a human Creature.
Much in the same manner have I heard it ask’d, “Why shou’d a Man be honest in the dark?” What a Man must be to ask this Question, I won’t say. But for those who have no better a Reason for being honest than the fear of a Gibbet or a Jail; I shou’d not, I confess, much covet their Company, or Acquaintance. And if any Guardian of mine who had kept his Trust, and given me back my Estate when I came of Age, had been discover’d to have acted thus, thro’ Fear only of what might happen to him; I shou’d for my own part, undoubtedly, continue civil and respectful to him: but for my Opinion of his Worth, it wou’d be such as the Pythian God had of his Votary, who devoutly fear’d him, and therefore restor’d to a Friend what had been deposited in his hands.
* So he paid it back, from fear, not from principle. Yet still he proved the oracle true and fit to be God’s voice, for he and his house perished root and branch.
I know very well that many Services to the Publick are done merely for the sake of a Gratuity; and that Informers in particular are to be taken care of, and sometimes made Pensioners of State. But I must beg pardon for the particular Thoughts I may have of these Gentlemens Merit; and shall never bestow my Esteem on any other than the voluntary Discoverers of Villany, and hearty Prosecutors of their Country’s Interest. And in this respect, I know nothing greater or nobler than the undertaking and managing some important Accusation; by which some high Criminal of State, or some form’d Body of Conspirators against the Publick, may be arraign’d and brought to Punishment, thro’ the honest Zeal and publick Affection of a private Man.
I know too, that the mere Vulgar of Mankind often stand in need of such a rectifying Object as the Gallows before their Eyes. Yet I have no belief, that any Man of a liberal Education, or common Honesty, ever needed to have recourse to this Idea in his Mind, the better to restrain him from playing the Knave. And if a Saint had no other Virtue than what was rais’d in him by the same Objects of Reward and Punishment, in a more distant State; I know not whose Love or Esteem he might gain besides: but for my own part, I shou’d never think him worthy of mine.
If my slave tells me, “I have not stolen, nor run away,” I answer, “You have your reward, you are not flogged.” “I have not killed a man!” “The crows do not devour you on the cross.” “I am good and honest!” My Sabine bailiff shakes his head and denies it.1
Sect. 1.SECTION I
BY this time (my Friend!) you may possibly, I hope, be satisfy’d, that as I am in earnest in defending Raillery, so I can be sober too in the Use of it. ’Tis in reality a serious Study, to learn to temper and regulate that Humour which Nature has given us, as a more lenitive Remedy against Vice, and a kind of Specifick against Superstition and melancholy Delusion. There is a great difference between seeking how to raise a Laugh from every thing; and seeking, in every thing, what justly may be laugh’d at. For nothing is ridiculous except what is deform’d: Nor is any thing proof against Raillery, except what is handsom and just. And therefore ’tis the hardest thing in the World, to deny fairHonesty the use of this Weapon, which can never bear an Edge against her-self, and bears against every thing contrary.
If the very Italian Buffoons were to give us the Rule in these cases, we shou’d learn by them, that in their lowest and most scurrilous way of Wit, there was nothing so successfully to be play’d upon, as the Passions of Cowardice and Avarice. One may defy the World to turn real Bravery or Generosity into Ridicule. A Glutton or mere Sensualist is as ridiculous as the other two Characters. Nor can an unaffected Temperance be made the Subject of Contempt to any besides the grossest and most contemptible of Mankind. Now these three Ingredients make up a virtuous Character: as the contrary three a vicious one. How therefore can we possibly make a Jest of Honesty?—To laugh both ways, is nonsensical. And if the Ridicule lie against Sottishness, Avarice, and Cowardice; you see the Consequence. A Man must be soundly ridiculous, who, with all the Wit imaginable, wou’d go about to ridicule Wisdom, or laugh at Honesty, or Good Manners.
A Man of thorow *Good-Breeding, whatever else he be, is incapable of doing a rude or brutal Action. He never deliberates in this case, or considers of the matter by prudential Rules of Self-Interest and Advantage. He acts from his Nature, in a manner necessarily, and without Reflection: and if he did not, it were impossible for him to answer his Character, or be found that truly well-bred Man, on every occasion. ’Tis the same with the honest Man. He can’t deliberate in the Case of a plain Villany. A Plum is no Temptation to him. He likes and loves himself too well, to change Hearts with one of those corrupt Miscreants, who amongst ’em gave that name to a round Sum of Mony gain’d by Rapine and Plunder of the Commonwealth. He who wou’d enjoy a Freedom of Mind, and be truly Possessor of himself, must be above the thought of stooping to what is villanous or base. He, on the other side, who has a Heart to stoop, must necessarily quit the thought of Manliness, Resolution, Friendship, Merit, and a Character with himself and others: But to affect these Enjoyments and Advantages, together with the Privileges of a licentious Principle; to pretend to enjoy Society, and a free Mind, in company with a knavish Heart, is as ridiculous as the way of Children, who eat their Cake, and afterwards cry for it. When Men begin to deliberate about Dishonesty, and finding it go less against their Stomach, ask slily, “Why they shou’d stick at a good Piece of Knavery, for a good Sum?” They shou’d be told, as Children, that They can’t eat their Cake, and have it.
When Men, indeed, are become accomplish’d Knaves, they are past crying for their Cake. They know themselves, and are known by Mankind. ’Tis not these who are so much envy’d or admir’d. The moderate Kind are the more taking with us. Yet had we Sense, we should consider ’tis in reality the thorow profligate Knave, the very compleat unnatural Villain alone, who can any way bid for Happiness with the honest Man. True Interest is wholly on one side, or the other. All between is * Inconsistency, Irresolution, Remorse, Vexation, and an Ague-Fit: from hot to cold; from one Passion to another quite contrary; a perpetual Discord of Life; and an alternate Disquiet and Self-dislike. The only Rest or Repose must be thro’ one, determin’d, considerate Resolution: which when once taken, must be courageously kept; and the Passions and Affections brought under obedience to it; the Temper steel’d and harden’d to the Mind; the Disposition to the Judgment. Both must agree; else all must be Disturbance and Confusion. So that to think with one’s self, in good earnest, “Why may not one do this little Villany, or commit this one Treachery, and but for once”; is the most ridiculous Imagination in the world, and contrary to Common Sense. For a common honest Man, whilst left to himself, and undisturb’d by Philosophy and subtle Reasonings about his Interest, gives no other Answer to the thought of Villany, than that he can’t possibly find in his heart to set about it, or conquer the natural Aversion he has to it. And this is natural and just.
The truth is; as Notions stand now in the world, with respect to Morals, Honesty is like to gain little by Philosophy, or deep Speculations of any kind. In the main, ’tis best to stick to Common Sense, and go no further. Mens first Thoughts, in this matter, are generally better than their second: their natural Notions better than those refin’d by Study, or Consultation with Casuists. According to common Speech, as well as common Sense, Honesty is the best Policy: But according to refin’d Sense, the only well-advis’d Persons, as to this World, are errant Knaves; and they alone are thought to serve themselves, who serve their Passions, and indulge their loosest Appetites and Desires.—Such, it seems, are the Wise, and such the Wisdom of this World!
An ordinary Man talking of a vile Action, in a way of Common Sense, says naturally and heartily, “He wou’d not be guilty of such a thing for the whole World.” But speculative Men find great Modifications in the case; many ways of Evasion; many Remedys; many Alleviations. A good Gift rightly apply’d; a right Method of suing out a Pardon; good Alms-Houses, and charitable Foundations erected for right Worshippers; and a good Zeal shewn for the right Belief, may sufficiently atone for one wrong Practice; especially when it is such as raises a Man to a considerable power (as they say) of doing good, and serving the true Cause.
Many a good Estate, many a high Station has been gain’d upon such a bottom as this. Some Crowns too may have been purchas’d on these terms: and some great *Emperors (if I mistake not) there have been of old, who were much assisted by these or the like Principles; and in return were not ingrateful to the Cause and Party which had assisted ’em. The Forgers of such Morals have been amply endow’d: and the World has paid roundly for its Philosophy; since the original plain Principles of Humanity, and the simple honest Precepts of Peace and mutual Love, have, by a sort of spiritual Chymists, been so sublimated, as to become the highest Corrosives; and passing thro’ their Limbecks, have yielded the strongest Spirit of mutual Hatred and malignant Persecution.
Sect. 2.SECTION II
BUT our Humours (my Friend!) incline us not to melancholy Reflections. Let the solemn Reprovers of Vice proceed in the manner most sutable to their Genius and Character. I am ready to congratulate with ’em on the Success of their Labours, in that authoritative way which is allow’d ’em. I know not, in the mean while, why others may not be allow’d to ridicule Folly, and recommend Wisdom and Virtue (if possibly they can) in a way of Pleasantry and Mirth. I know not why Poets, or such as write chiefly for the Entertainment of themselves and others, may not be allow’d this Privilege. And if it be the Complaint of our standing Reformers, that they are not heard so well by the Gentlemen of Fashion; if they exclaim against those airy Wits who fly to Ridicule as a Protection, and make successful Sallys from that Quarter; why shou’d it be deny’d one, who is only a Volunteer in this Cause, to engage the Adversary on his own terms, and expose himself willingly to such Attacks, on the single condition of being allow’d fair Play in the same kind?
By Gentlemen of Fashion, I understand those to whom a natural good Genius, or the Force of good Education, has given a Sense of what is naturally graceful and becoming. Some by mere Nature, others by Art and Practice, are Masters of an Ear in Musick, an Eye in Painting, a Fancy in the ordinary things of Ornament and Grace, a Judgment in Proportions of all kinds, and a general good Taste in most of those Subjects which make the Amusement and Delight of the ingenious People of the World. Let such Gentlemen as these be as extravagant as they please, or as irregular in their Morals; they must at the same time discover their Inconsistency, live at variance with themselves, and in contradiction to that Principle, on which they ground their highest Pleasure and Entertainment.
Of all other Beautys which Virtuosos pursue, Poets celebrate, Musicians sing, and Architects or Artists, of whatever kind, describe or form; the most delightful, the most engaging and pathetick, is that which is drawn from real Life, and from the Passions. Nothing affects the Heart like that which is purely from it-self, and of its own nature; such as the Beauty of Sentiments,the Grace of Actions, the Turn of Characters, and the Proportions and Features of a human Mind. This Lesson of Philosophy, even a Romance, a Poem, or a Play may teach us; whilst the fabulous Author leads us with such pleasure thro’ the Labyrinth of the Affections, and interests us, whether we will or no, in the Passions of his Heroes and Heroines:
* Like a Mage, he tortures, enrages, soothes, fills us with false terrors.
Let Poets, or the Men of Harmony, deny, if they can, this Force of Nature, or withstand this moral Magick. They, for their parts, carry a double portion of this Charm about ’em. For in the first place, the very Passion which inspires ’em, is it-self the Love of Numbers, Decency and Proportion; and this too, not in a narrow sense, or after a selfish way, (for who of them composes for himself?) but in a friendly social View; for the Pleasure and Good of others; even down to Posterity, and future Ages. And in the next place, ’tis evident in these Performers, that their chief Theme and Subject, that which raises their Genius the most, and by which they so effectually move others, is purely Manners, and the moral Part. For this is the Effect, and this the Beauty of their Art; “in vocal Measures of Syllables, and Sounds, to express the Harmony and Numbers of an inward kind; and represent the Beautys of a human Soul, by proper Foils, and Contrarietys, which serve as Graces in this Limning, and render this Musick of the Passions more powerful and enchanting.”
The Admirers of Beauty in the Fair Sex wou’d laugh, perhaps, to hear of a moral Part in their Amours. Yet, what a stir is made about a Heart! What curious search of Sentiments, and tender Thoughts! What praises of a Humour, a Sense, a je-ne-sçai-quoi of Wit, and all those Graces of a Mind which these Virtuoso-Lovers delight to celebrate! Let them settle this matter among themselves; and regulate, as they think fit, the Proportions which these different Beautys hold one to another: They must allow still, there is a Beauty of the Mind; and such as is essential in the Case. Why else is the very Air of Foolishness enough to cloy a Lover, at first sight? Why does an Idiot-Look and Manner destroy the Effect of all those outward Charms, and rob the Fair-One of her Power; tho regularly arm’d, in all the Exactness of Features and Complexion? We may imagine what we please of a substantial solid part of Beauty: but were the Subject to be well criticiz’d, we shou’d find, perhaps, that what we most admir’d, even in the turn of outward Features, was only a mysterious Expression, and a kind of Shadow of something inward in the Temper: and that when we were struck with a majestick Air, a sprightly Look, an Amazon bold Grace, or a contrary soft and gentle one; ’twas chiefly the Fancy of these Characters or Qualitys which wrought on us: our Imagination being busy’d in forming beauteous Shapes and Images of this rational kind, which entertain’d the Mind, and held it in admiration; whilst other Passions of a lower Species were employ’d another way. The preliminary Addresses, the Declarations, the Explanations, Confidences, Clearings; the Dependence on something mutual, something felt by way of return; the Spes animi credula mutui: all these become necessary Ingredients in the Affair of Love, and are authentically establish’d by the Men of Elegance and Art in this way of Passion.
Nor can the Men of cooler Passions, and more deliberate Pursuits, withstand the Force of Beauty, in other Subjects. Every-one is a Virtuoso, of a higher or lower degree: Every-one pursues a Grace, and courts a *Venus of one kind or another. The Venustum, the Honestum, theDecorum of Things, will force its way. They who refuse to give it scope in the nobler Subjects of a rational and moral kind, will find its Prevalency elsewhere, in an † inferior Order of Things. They who overlook the main Springs of Action, and despise the Thought of Numbers and Proportion in a Life at large, will in the mean Particulars of it, be no less taken up, and engag’d; as either in the Study of common Arts, or in the Care and Culture of mere mechanick Beautys. The Models of Houses, Buildings, and their accompanying Ornaments; the Plans of Gardens, and their Compartments; the ordering of Walks, Plantations, Avenues; and a thousand other Symmetrys, will succeed in the room of that happier and higher Symmetry and Order of a Mind. The ‡Species of Fair, Noble, Handsom, will discover it-self on a thousand Occasions, and in a thousand Subjects. The Specter still will haunt us, in some shape or other: and when driven from our cool Thoughts, and frighted from the Closet, will meet us even at Court, and fill our Heads with Dreams of Grandure, Titles, Honours, and a false Magnificence and Beauty; to which we are ready to sacrifice our highest Pleasure and Ease; and for the sake of which, we become the merest Drudges, and most abject Slaves.
The Men of Pleasure, who seem the greatest Contemners of this philosophical Beauty, are forc’d often to confess her Charms. They can as heartily as others commend Honesty; and are as much struck with the Beauty of a generous Part. They admire the Thing it-self, tho not the Means. And, if possible, they wou’d so order it, as to make Probity and Luxury agree. But the Rules of Harmony will not permit it. The Dissonancys are too strong. However, the Attempts of this kind are not unpleasant to observe. For tho some of the voluptuous are found sordid Pleaders for Baseness and Corruption of every sort: yet others, more generous, endeavour to keep measures with Honesty; and understanding Pleasure better, are for bringing it under some Rule. They condemn this manner: they praise the other. “So far was right: but further, wrong. Such a Case was allowable: but such a one not to be admitted.” They introduce a Justice, and an Order in their Pleasures. They wou’d bring Reason to be of their Party, account in some manner for their Lives, and form themselves to some kind of Consonancy, and Agreement: Or shou’d they find this impracticable on certain terms, they wou’d chuse to sacrifice their own Pleasures to those which arise from a generous Behaviour, a Regularity of Conduct, and a Consistency of Life and Manners:
* To learn the measures and rules of the true life.
Other Occasions will put us upon this Thought: but chiefly a strong View of Merit, in a generous Character, oppos’d to some detestably vile one. Hence it is that among Poets, the Satirists seldom fail in doing Justice to Virtue. Nor are any of the nobler Poets false to this Cause. Even modern Wits, whose Turn is all towards Gallantry and Pleasure, when bare-fac’d Villany stands in their way, and brings the contrary Species in view, can sing in passionate strains the Praises of plain Honesty.
When we are highly Friends with the World, successful with the Fair, and prosperous in the possession of other Beautys; we may perchance, as is usual, despise this sober Mistress. But when we see, in the issue, what Riot and Excess naturally produce in the World; when we find that by Luxury’s means, and for the service of vile Interests, Knaves are advanc’d above us, and the † vilest of Men prefer’d before the honestest; we then behold Virtue in a new Light, and by the assistance of such a Foil, can discern the Beauty of Honesty, and the reality of those Charms, which before we understood not to be either natural or powerful.
Sect. 3.SECTION III
AND thus, after all, the most natural Beauty in the World is Honesty, and moral Truth. For all Beauty isTruth.True Features make the Beauty of a Face; and true Proportions the Beauty of Architecture; as true Measures that of Harmony and Musick. In Poetry, which is all Fable, Truth still is the Perfection. And whoever is Scholar enough to read the antient Philosopher, or his * modern Copists, upon the nature of a Dramatick and Epick Poem, will easily understand † this account of Truth.
A Painter, if he has any Genius, understands the Truth and Unity of Design; and knows he is even then unnatural, when he follows Nature too close, and strictly copys Life. For his Art allows him not to bring All Nature into his Piece, but a Part only. However, his Piece, if it be beautiful, and carrys Truth, must be a Whole, by it-self, compleat, independent, and withal as great and comprehensive as he can make it. So that Particulars, on this occasion, must yield to the general Design; and all things be subservient to that which is principal: in order to form a certain Easiness of Sight; a simple, clear, and ‡united View, which wou’d be broken and disturb’d by the Expression of any thing peculiar or distinct.
Now the Variety of Nature is such as to distinguish every thing she forms, by a peculiar original Character; which, if strictly observ’d, will make the Subject appear unlike to any thing extant in the World besides. But this Effect the good Poet and Painter seek industriously to prevent. They hate Minuteness, and are afraid of Singularity; which wou’d make their Images, or Characters, appear capricious and fantastical. The mere Face-Painter, indeed, has little in common with the Poet; but, like the mere Historian, copys what he sees, and minutely traces every Feature, and odd Mark. ’Tis otherwise with the Men of Invention and Design. ’Tis from the many Objects of Nature, and not from a particular-one, that those Genius’s form the Idea of their Work. Thus the best Artists are said to have been indefatigable in studying the best Statues: as esteeming them a better Rule, than the perfectest human Bodys cou’d afford. And thus some * considerable Wits have recommended the best Poems, as preferable to the best of Historys; and better teaching the Truth of Characters, and Nature of Mankind.
Nor can this Criticism be thought high-strain’d. Tho few confine themselves to these Rules, few are insensible of ’em. Whatever quarter we may give to our vicious Poets, or other Composers of irregular and short-liv’d Works; we know very well that the standing Pieces of good Artists must be form’d after a more uniform way. Every just Work of theirs comes under those natural Rules of Proportion and Truth. The Creature of their Brain must be like one of Nature’s Formation. It must have a Body and Parts proportionable: or the very Vulgar will not fail to criticize the Work, when it has neither†Head nor Tail. For so Common Sense, according to just Philosophy, judges of those Works which want the Justness of a Whole, and shew their Author, however curious and exact in Particulars, to be in the main a very Bungler.
‡ Unhappy in the sum total of his work because he will be unable to explain the whole.
Such is poetical, and such (if I may so call it) graphical or plastick Truth. Narrative, or historical Truth, must needs be highly estimable; especially when we consider how Mankind, who are become so deeply interested in the Subject, have suffer’d by the want of Clearness in it. ’Tis it-self a part of moral Truth. To be a Judg in one, requires a Judgment in the other. The Morals, the Character, and Genius of an Author must be thorowly consider’d: And the Historian or Relater of Things important to Mankind, must, whoever he be, approve himself many ways to us; both in respect of his Judgment, Candor, and Disinterestedness; e’er we are bound to take any thing on his Authority. And as for *critical Truth, or the Judgment and Determination of what Commentators, Translators, Paraphrasts, Grammarians, and others have, on this occasion, deliver’d to us; in the midst of such variety of Style, such different Readings, such Interpolations, and Corruptions in the Originals; such Mistakes of Copists, Transcribers, Editors, and a hundred such Accidents, to which antient Books are subject: it becomes, upon the whole, a Matter of nice Speculation; considering, withal, that the Reader, tho an able Linguist, must be supported by so many other Helps from Chronology, natural Philosophy, Geography, and other Sciences.
And thus many previous Truths are to be examin’d, and understood, in order to judg rightly of historical Truth, and of the past Actions and Circumstances of Mankind, as deliver’d to us by antient Authors of different Nations, Ages, Times, and different in their Characters and Interests. Some moral and philosophical Truths there are withal so evident in themselves, that ’twou’d be easier to imagine half Mankind to have run mad, and join’d precisely in one and the same Species of Folly, than to admit any thing as Truth, which shou’d be advanc’d against such natural Knowledg, fundamental Reason, and common Sense.
This I have mention’d the rather, because some modern Zealots appear to have no better knowledg of Truth, nor better manner of judging it, than by counting Noses. By this Rule, if they can poll an indifferent Number out of a Mob; if they can produce a Set of Lancashire Noddles, remote provincial Head-pieces, or visionary Assemblers, to attest a Story of a Witch upon a Broomstick, and a Flight in the Air; they triumph in the solid Proof of their new Prodigy, and cry, Great is truth and it will prevail.2
Religion, no doubt, is much indebted to these Men of Prodigy; who, in such a discerning Age, wou’d set her on the foot of popular Tradition; and venture her on the same bottom with Parish-Tales, and gossiping Storys of Imps, Goblins, and Demoniacal Pranks, invented to fright Children, or make Practice for common Exorcists, and Cunning-Men! For by that Name, you know, Country People are us’d to call those Dealers in Mystery, who are thought to conjure in an honest way, and foil the Devil at his own Weapon.
And now (my Friend!) I can perceive ’tis time to put an end to these Reflections; left by endeavouring to expound things any further, I shou’d be drawn from my way of Humour, to harangue profoundly on these Subjects. But shou’d you find I had moraliz’d in any tolerable manner, according to Common Sense, and without Canting; I cou’d be satisfy’d with my Performance, such as it is, without fearing what disturbance I might possibly give to some formal Censors of the Age; whose Discourses and Writings are of another strain. I have taken the liberty, you see, to laugh, upon some occasions: And if I have either laugh’d wrong, or been impertinently serious; I can be content to be laugh’d at, in my turn. If contrariwise I am rail’d at, I can laugh still, as before; and with fresh advantage to my Cause. For tho, in reality, there cou’d be nothing less a laughing matter, than the provok’d Rage, Ill-will, and Fury of certain zealous Gentlemen, were they arm’d as lately they have been known; yet as the Magistrate has since taken care to pare their Talons, there is nothing very terrible in their Encounter. On the contrary, there is something comical in the case. It brings to one’s mind the Fancy of those Grotesque Figures, and Dragon-Faces, which are seen often in the Frontispiece, and on the Corner-Stones of old Buildings. They seem plac’d there, as the Defenders and Supporters of the Edifice; but with all their Grimace, are as harmless to People without, as they are useless to the Building within. Great Efforts of Anger to little purpose, serve for Pleasantry and Farce. Exceeding Fierceness, with perfect Inability and Impotence, makes the highest Ridicule.
I am, Dear Friend,
Affectionately Your’s, &c.
OR, ADVICE TO
*And you need not have looked beyond yourself.
Pers. Sat. 1.
Printed first in the Year M.DCC.X.
[* ]Semperego Auditor tantum!Juv. Sat. 1.
[* ] See the following Treatise, viz. Soliloquy, Part I. Sect. 3.
[* ]Gorgias Leontinus,apud Arist. Rhetor. lib. 3. cap. 18. τὴν μὲν σπουδὴν διαφθείρειν γέλωτι τὸν δέ γέλωτα σπουδῃ̑; which the Translator renders, Seria Risu, Risum Seriis discutere. [To dispel serious matters with laughter, laughter with serious matters.]
[* ] VOL. II. pag. 230, 231.
[* ] VOL. III. p. 48, 49.
[* ] Πέρσαι δὲ καὶ μάλιστα αὐτω̑ν οἱ σοφίαν ἀσκει̑ν δοκου̑ντες οἱ Μάγοι, γαμου̑σι τὰς μητέρας. [The Persians, and especially those of them who pretend to exercise wisdom, the Magi, marry their mothers.] Sext. Empir. Pyr. Lib. 3. cap. 24.
[† ] Catull. 87. Nam Magus et Matre & Gnato gignatur oportet.
[* ]Infra, p. 118. and VOL. II. p. 320.
[† ] VOL. III. p. 64, 65. in the Notes.
[‡ ] Mr. Hobbes, who thus expresses himself: By reading of these Greek and Latin Authors, Men from their Childhood have gotten a Habit (under a false shew of Liberty) of favouring Tumults, and of licentious controlling the Actions of their Sovereigns. Leviathan, Part 2. ch. 21. p. 111. By this reasoning of Mr. Hobbes it shou’d follow, that there can never be any Tumults or deposing of Sovereigns at Constantinople, or in Mogol. See again, p. 171 and 377 and what he intimates to his Prince (p. 193.) concerning this Extirpation of antient Literature, in favour of his Leviathan-Hypothesis, and new Philosophy.
[* ] VOL. II. p. 80.
[* ] VOL. II. p. 334 and VOL. III. p. 114.
[* ] By Private Friendship no fair Reader can here suppose is meant that common Benevolence and Charity which every Christian is oblig’d to shew towards all Men, and in particular towards his Fellow-Christians, his Neighbour, Brother, and Kindred, of whatever degree; but that peculiar Relation which is form’d by a Consent and Harmony of Minds, by mutual Esteem, and reciprocal Tenderness and Affection; and which we emphatically call a FRIENDSHIP. Such was that between the two Jewish Heroes after-mention’d, whose Love and Tenderness was surpassing that of Women, (2 Samuel, ch. 1.) Such were those Friendships describ’d so frequently by Poets, between Pylades and Orestes, Theseus and Pirithous, with many others. Such were those between Philosophers, Heroes, and the greatest of Men; between Socrates and Antisthenes, Plato and Dion, Epaminondas and Pelopidas, Scipio and Laelius, Cato and Brutus, Thrasea and Helvidius. And such there may have lately been, and are still perhaps in our own Age; tho Envy suffers not the few Examples of this kind to be remark’d in publick. The Author’s Meaning is indeed so plain of it-self, that it needs no explanatory Apology to satisfy an impartial Reader. As for others who object the Singularity of the Assertion, as differing, they suppose, from what our Reverend Doctors in Religion commonly maintain, they may read what the learned and pious Bishop Taylor says in his Treatise of Friendship. “You inquire,” says he, “how far a dear and a perfect Friendship is authoriz’d by the Principles of Christianity?” To this I answer, “That the word Friendship in the sense we commonly mean by it, is not so much as nam’d in the New Testament; and our Religion takes no notice of it.” “You think it strange; but read on, before you spend so much as the beginning of a Passion or a Wonder upon it.” “There is mention of Friendship of the World; and it is said to be Enmity with God: but the Word is no where else nam’d, or to any other purpose, in all the New Testament.” “It speaks of Friends often; but by Friends are meant our Acquaintance, or our Kindred, the Relatives of our Family, or our Fortune, or our Sect, &c.—And I think I have reason to be confident, that the word Friend (speaking of human Intercourse) is no otherways us’d in the Gospels, or Epistles, or Acts of the Apostles.” And afterwards, “Christian Charity” (says he) “is Friendship to all the World; and when Friendships were the noblest things in the World, Charity was little, like the Sun drawn in at a Chink, or his Beams drawn into the Center of a Burning-glass: But Christian Charity is Friendship expanded like the Face of the Sun, when it mounts above the Eastern Hills.” In reality the good Bishop draws all his Notions as well as Examples of private Friendship from the Heathen World, or from the Times preceding Christianity. And after citing a Greek Author, he immediately adds: “Of such immortal, abstracted, pure Friendships, indeed there is no great plenty; but they who are the same to their Friend ἀπόπροθεν [at a distance], when he is in another Country, or in another World, are fit to preserve the sacred Fire for eternal Sacrifices, and to perpetuate the Memory of those exemplary Friendships of the best Men, which have fill’d the World with History and Wonder: for in no other sense but this can it be true, that Friendships are pure Loves, regarding to do good more than to receive it. He that is a Friend after Death, hopes not for a Recompence from his Friend, and makes no bargain either for Fame or Love; but is rewarded with the Conscience and Satisfaction of doing bravely.”
[* ]Peradventure, says the holy Apostle, for a good Man one wou’d even dare to die, τάχα τὶς καὶ τολμᾳ̑, &c. Rom. ch. 5. v. 7. This the Apostle judiciously supposes to belong to human Nature: tho he is so far from founding any Precept on it, that he ushers his private Opinion with a very dubious Peradventure.
[† ] HORAT. Lib. 3. Od. 2.
[‡ ] Inf. p. 130, 131, &c. 172.
[† ]Viz. The two Casaubons, Is. and Mer. Salmasius, and our English Gataker: See the first in Capitolinus, Vit. M. Ant. sub finem. The second in his Comment on M. Ant. lib. 1. sect. 13, & 16. Gataker on the same place; and Salmasius in the same Life of Capitolinus, at the end of his Annotations. The Greek word is Κοινονοημοσύνη [common sensibility], which Salmasius interprets, “moderatam, usitatam & ordinariam hominis mentem quae in commune quodammodo consulit, nec omnia ad commodum suum refert, respectumque etiam habet eorum cum quibus versatur, modestè, modicéque de se sentiens. At contra inflati & superbi omnes se sibi tantùm suisque commodis natos arbitrantur, & prae se caeteros contemnunt & negligunt; & hi sunt qui Sensum Communem non habere rectè dici possunt. Nam ita Sensum Communem accipit Juvenalis, Sat. 8. Rarus enim fermè SENSUS COMMUNIS, &c. φιλανθρωπίαν & χρηστότητα Galenus vocat, quam Marcus de se loquens κοινονοημοσύνην; & alibi, ubi de eadem re loquitur, Μετριότητα καὶ Εὐγνωμοσύνην, qua gratiam illi fecerit Marcus simul eundi ad Germanicum Bellum ac sequendi se.” [the moderate, customary and ordinary disposition of a man who in some measure has regard for the common good and does not refer all things to his personal advantage and also has consideration for those with whom he is engaged, temperately and modestly confident of himself. But on the other hand all those men, swollen and proud, think that they have been born only for themselves and for their own interests and they little value all other men in comparison with themselves and are indifferent to them. And these are such men who can be said rightly not to have common sense. For so Juvenal Sat. viii understood sensum communem, For quite rare is common sense, etc. Galen calls it Philanthropy and Kindness whereas Marcus coins it common sensibility, and in another place where he employs similar terms for measuredness and kindness in accord with which Marcus did the favor for the man of going to the German war and at the same time of attending him.] In the same manner Isaac Casaubon: Herodianus, says he, calls this the τὸ μέτριον καὶ ἰσόμετρον. “Subjicit verò Antoninus quasi hanc vocem interpretans, καὶ τὸ ἐφει̑σθαι τοὶς φίλοις μήτε συνδειπνει̑ν αὐτῳ̑ πάντως, μήτε συναποδημει̑ν ἐπάναγκες.” [Herodian calls this the mean and equal. Antoninus suggests, as if interpreting this thought, it is necessary that he never permit his friends either to dine with him or to go abroad with him.] This, I am persuaded, is the Sensus Communis of Horace, Sat. 3. lib. 1. which has been unobserv’d, as far as I can learn, by any of his Commentators: it being remarkable withal, that in this early Satir of Horace, before his latter days, and when his Philosophy as yet inclin’d to the less rigid Assertors of Virtue, he puts this Expression (as may be seen by the whole Satir taken together) into the Mouth of a Crispinus, or some ridiculous Mimick of that severe Philosophy, to which the Coinage of the word κοινονοημοσύνη [common sensibility] properly belong’d. For so the Poet again (Sat. 4. v. 77.) uses the word SENSUS, speaking of those who without Sense of Manners, or common Society, without the least respect or deference to others, press rudely upon their Friends, and upon all Company in general, without regard to Time or Place, or any thing besides their selfish and brutish Humour:
[They do something without asking whether it is senseless or at an inconvenient time——imperceptibly]
as old Lambin interprets it, tho without any other Explanation; referring only to the Sensus Communis of Horace in that other Satir. Thus Seneca, Epist. 105. Odium autem ex offensa sic vitabis, neminem lacessendo gratuitò: à quo te SENSUS COMMUNIS tuebitur. [Moreover, you will avoid hatred from offenses by provoking no one unnecessarily: from which common sense will protect you.] And Cicero accordingly, Justitiae partes sunt, non violare homines: Verecundiae, non offendere. Lib. 1. de Off. [The function of justice is not to harm men, that of respect not to offend them.] It may be objected possibly by some, particularly vers’d in the Philosophy above-mention’d, that the κοίνος νοὺς [common understanding], to which the Κοινονοημοσύνη [common sensibility] seems to have relation, is of a different meaning. But they will consider withal how small the distinction was in that Philosophy, between the ὑπόληψις [conjecture], and the vulgar αἴσθησις [perception]; how generally Passion was by those Philosophers brought under the Head of Opinion. And when they consider, besides this, the very Formation of the word Κοινονοημοσύνη [common sensibility] upon the Model of the other femaliz’d Virtues, the Εὐγνωμοσύνη, Σωφροσύνη, Δικαιοσύνη, [kindness, moderation, justice,] &c. they will no longer hesitate on this Interpretation.—The Reader may perhaps by this Note see better why the Latin Title of Sensus Communis has been given to this second Treatise. He may observe, withal, how the same Poet Juvenal uses the word Sensus, in Sat. 15. Haec nostri pars optima Sensûs. [This quality of gentleness is the best part of our sense.]
[* ]Inf. pag. 298.
[* ] VOL. II. p. 306, 310, &c.
[* ] See the fourth Treatise, viz. Inquiry concerning Virtue: VOL. II.
[† ]Supra, pag. 49. And VOL. II. 80. VOL. III. 32, 35, &c.
[† ]Supra, p. 88. And VOL. II. p. 320.
[* ]Sudden Courage (says Mr. Hobbes,Lev. chap. 6.) is Anger. Therefore Courage consider’d as constant, and belonging to a Character, must, in his account, be defin’d constant Anger, or Anger constantly returning.
[† ] Lord Rochester.Satir against Man.
[‡ ] The French Translator supposes with good reason, That our Author, in this Passage, had an eye to those Sentences, or Maxims, which pass under the name of the Duke de La Rochefoucault. He has added, withal, the Censure of this kind of Wit, and of these Maxims in particular, by some Authors of the same Nation. The Passages are too long to insert here: tho they are otherwise very just and entertaining. That which he has cited of old Montaigne, is from the first Chapter of his second Essay.
[** ] VOL. II. p. 22, 23, &c. 78, 79, 80, &c. 87, &c. 139, 140, &c.
[* ] Our Author, it seems, writes at present as to a young Gentleman chiefly of a Court-Breeding. See, however, his further Sentiments more particularly in Treatise 3. (viz. SOLILOQUYinfra, pag. 333, &c. in the Notes.
[* ] Sup. pag. 102.
[‡ ] Job, ch. ii. ver. 4.
[* ] VOL. III. p. 161, 162.
[* ] Our Author’s French Translator cites, on this occasion, very aptly those Verses of Horace,Sat. 7. Lib. 2.
[At any rate he was so much the more consistent in vice, and so far less miserable than that other, who pulls now on a loose and now on a tight cord.]
[* ] VOL. III. p. 78, 79, 90, 91.
[* ]Infra, pag. 337.
[† ] VOL. III. p. 173.
[‡ ] VOL. III. p. 33. 182–186.
[* ]Et verae numerosque modosque ediscere vitae.Hor. Epist. 2. lib. 2.
[† ] VOL. III. p. 308, 309.
[* ] The French Translator, no doubt, has justly hit our Author’s Thought, by naming in his Margin the excellent Bossudu Poeme Epique; who in that admirable Comment and Explanation of Aristotle, has perhaps not only shewn himself the greatest of the French Criticks, but presented the World with a View of antient Literature and just Writing, beyond any other Modern of whatever Nation.
[† ] VOL. III. p. 180, 181, 182, 183, 260, &c.
[‡ ] The τὸ Εὐσύνοπτον [What is easily taken in at a glance]; as the great Master of Arts calls it, in his Poeticks, ch. 23. but particularly ch. 7. where he shews, “That the τὸ Καλὸν, the Beautiful, or the Sublime, in these above-mention’d Arts, is from the Expression of Greatness with Order: that is to say, exhibiting the Principal or Main of what is design’d, in the very largest Proportions in which it is capable of being view’d. For when it is gigantick, ’tis in a manner out of sight, and can be no way comprehended in that simple and united View. As, on the contrary, when a Piece is of the Miniature-kind; when it runs into the Detail, and nice Delineation of every little Particular; ’tis, as it were, invisible, for the same reason; because the summary Beauty, the WHOLE it-self, cannot be comprehended in that ONE united View; which is broken and lost by the necessary attraction of the Eye to every small and subordinate Part. In a poetick System, the same regard must be had to the Memory, as in Painting to the Eye. The Dramatick kind is confin’d within the convenient and proper time of a Spectacle. The Epick is left more at large. Each Work, however, must aim at Vastness, and be as great, and of as long duration as possible; but so as to be comprehended, as to the main of it, by one easy Glance or Retrospect of Memory. And this the Philosopher calls, accordingly, the τὸ Εὐμνημόνευτον [the Beautiful].” I cannot better translate the Passage than as I have done in these explanatory Lines. For besides what relates to mere Art, the philosophical Sense of the Original is so majestick, and the whole Treatise so masterly, that when I find even the Latin Interpreters come so short, I shou’d be vain to attempt any thing in our own Language. I wou’d only add a small Remark of my own, which may perhaps be notic’d by the Studiers of Statuary and Painting: That the greatest of the antient as well as modern Artists, were ever inclin’d to follow this Rule of the Philosopher; and when they err’d in their Designs, or Draughts, it was on the side of Greatness, by running into the unsizable and gigantick, rather than into the minute and delicate. Of this, Mich. Angelo, the great Beginner and Founder among the Moderns, and Zeuxis the same among the Antients, may serve as Instances. See Pliny,lib. 35. cap. 9. concerning Zeuxis, and the Notes of Father Harduin in his Edition in usum Delphini, p. 200. on the words, Deprehenditur tamen Zeuxis, &c. And again Pliny himself upon Euphranor, in the same Book, cap. 11. p. 226. Docilis, ac laboriosus, ante omnes, & in quocumque genere excellens, ac sibi aequalis. Hic primus videtur expressisse Dignitates Heroum, & usurpâsse Symmetriam. Sed fuit universitate corporum exilior, capitibus articulisque grandior. Volumina quoque composuit de Symmetria & Coloribus, &c. Vid. infra, p. 340, 341, 342. in the Notes. [A good learner and painstaking, uniformly excellent in every branch. He is thought to have first done justice to the majesty of heroes and first mastered proportion, but his bodies were over-slender, his heads and limbs over-large. He wrote too on proportion and colouring.]
[* ] Thus the great Master himself in his Poeticks, above cited: Διὸ καὶ φιλοσοφώτερον καὶ σπουδαιότερον Ποίησις ἱστορίας ἐστιν· ἡ μὲν γὰρ Ποίησις μα̑λλον τὰ καθόλου, ἡ δ’ ἱστορία τὰ καθ’ ἕκαστον λέγει. [Poetry is both a more philosophic and a more real (weightier) thing than history; for poetry tells rather the universal, history the particular. —Aristotle, Poetics chap. 9, 1451b.]
[† ] VOL. III. p. 25, 259, 260.
[* ] VOL. III. p. 316, 320, 321. &c.
[2 ]Magna est Veritas & praevalebit!
[* ] Nec TE quaesiveris extrà.