Front Page Titles (by Subject) ADVICE, &c. - Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, vol. 1
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
ADVICE, &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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Sect. 1.SECTION I
I HAVE often thought how ill-natur’d a Maxim it was, which, on many occasions, I have heard from People of good understanding; “That, as to what related to private Conduct, No-one was ever the better forAdvice.’’ But upon farther Examination, I have resolv’d with my-self, that the Maxim might be admitted without any violent prejudice to Mankind. For in the manner Advice was generally given, there was no reason, I thought, to wonder it shou’d be so ill receiv’d. Something there was which strangely inverted the Case, and made the Giver to be the only Gainer. For by what I cou’d observe in many Occurrences of our Lives, That which we call’d giving Advice, was properly, taking an occasion to shew our own Wisdom, at another’s expence. On the other side, to be instructed, or to receive Advice on the terms usually prescrib’d to us, was little better than tamely to afford another the Occasion of raising himself a Character from our Defects.
In reality, however able or willing a Man may be to advise, ’tis no easy matter to make Advicea free Gift. For to make a Gift free indeed, there must be nothing in it which takes from Another, to add to Our-self. In all other respects, to give, and to dispense, is Generosity, and Good-will: but to bestow Wisdom, is to gain a Mastery which can’t so easily be allow’d us. Men willingly learn whatever else is taught ’em. They can bear a Master in Mathematicks, in Musick, or in any other Science; but not in Understanding and Good Sense.
’Tis the hardest thing imaginable for an Author not to appear assuming in this respect. For all Authors at large are, in a manner, profess’d Masters of Understanding to the Age. And for this reason, in early days, Poets were look’d upon as authentick Sages, for dictating Rules of Life, and teaching Manners and good Sense. How they may have lost their Pretension, I can’t say. ’Tis their peculiar Happiness and Advantage, not to be oblig’d to lay their Claim openly. And if whilst they profess only to please, they secretly advise, and give Instruction; they may now perhaps, as well as formerly, be esteem’d, with justice, the best and most honourable among Authors.
Mean while: “If dictating and prescribing be of so dangerous a nature, in other Authors; what must his Case be, who dictates to Authors themselves?”
To this I answer; That my Pretension is not so much to give Advice, as to consider of the Way and Manner of advising. My Science, if it be any, is no better than that of a Language-Master, or a Logician. For I have taken it strongly into my head, that there is a certain Knack or Leger-demain in Argument, by which we may safely proceed to the dangerous part of advising, and make sure of the good fortune to have our Advice accepted, if it be any thing worth.
My Proposal is to consider of this Affair, as a Case of Surgery. ’Tis Practice, we all allow, which makes a Hand. “But who, on this occasion, will be practis’d on? Who will willingly be the first to try our Hand, and afford us the requisite Experience?” Here lies the Difficulty. For supposing we had Hospitals for this sort of Surgery, and there were always in readiness certain meek Patients who wou’d bear any Incisions, and be prob’d or tented at our pleasure; the advantage no doubt wou’d be considerable in this way of Practice. Some Insight must needs be obtain’d. In time a Hand too might be acquir’d; but in all likelihood a very rough-one: which wou’d by no means serve the purpose of this latter Surgery. For here, a Tenderness of Hand is principally requisite. No Surgeon will be call’d, who has not Feeling and Compassion. And where to find a Subject in which the Operator is likely to preserve the highest Tenderness, and yet act with the greatest Resolution and Boldness, is certainly a matter of no slight Consideration.
I am sensible there is in all considerable Projects, at first appearance, a certain Air of chimerical Fancy and Conceit, which is apt to render the Projectors somewhat liable to ridicule. I wou’d therefore prepare my Reader against this Prejudice; by assuring him, that in the Operation propos’d, there is nothing which can justly excite his Laughter; or if there be, the Laugh perhaps may turn against him, by his own consent, and with his own concurrence: Which is a Specimen of that very Art or Science we are about to illustrate.
Accordingly, if it be objected against the above-mention’d Practice, and Art of Surgery, “That we can no-where find such a meek Patient, with whom we can in reality make bold, and for whom nevertheless we are sure to preserve the greatest Tenderness and Regard”: I assert the contrary; and say, for instance, That we have each of usOur Selvesto practise on. “Mere Quibble! (you’ll say:) For who can thus multiply himself into two Persons, and be his own Subject? Who can properly laugh at himself, or find in his heart to be either merry or severe on such an occasion?” Go to the Poets, and they will present you with many Instances. Nothing is more common with them, than this sort of Soliloquy. A Person of profound Parts, or perhaps of ordinary Capacity, happens, on some occasion, to commit a Fault. He is concern’d for it. He comes alone upon the Stage; looks about him, to see if any body be near; then takes himself to task, without sparing himself in the least. You wou’d wonder to hear how close he pushes matters, and how thorowly he carrys on the business of Self-dissection. By virtue of this Soliloquy he becomes two distinct Persons. He is Pupil and Preceptor. He teaches, and he learns. And in good earnest, had I nothing else to plead in behalf of the Morals of our modern Dramatick Poets, I shou’d defend ’em still against their Accusers for the sake of this very Practice, which they have taken care to keep up in its full force. For whether the Practice be natural or no, in respect of common Custom and Usage; I take upon me to assert, that it is an honest and laudable Practice; and that if already it be not natural to us, we ought however to make it so, by Study and Application.
“Are we to go therefore to the Stage for Edification? Must we learn our Catechism from the Poets? And, like the Players, speak aloud, what we debate any time with our-selves alone?” Not absolutely so, perhaps. Tho where the harm wou’d be, of spending some Discourse, and bestowing a little Breath and clear Voice purely upon our-selves, I can’t see. We might peradventure be less noisy and more profitable in Company, if at convenient times we discharg’d some of our articulate Sound, and spoke to ourselves vivâ voce when alone. For Company is an extreme Provocative to Fancy; and, like a hot Bed in Gardening, is apt to make our Imaginations sprout too fast. But by this anticipating Remedy of Soliloquy, we may effectually provide against the Inconvenience.
WE HAVE an account in History of a certain Nation, who seem to have been extremely apprehensive of the Effects of this Frothiness or Ventosity in Speech, and were accordingly resolv’d to provide thorowly against the Evil. They carry’d this Remedy of ours so far, that it was not only their Custom, but their Religion and Law, to speak, laugh, use Action, gesticulate, and do all in the same manner when by themselves, as when they were in Company. If you had stol’n upon ’em unawares at any time, when they had been alone, you might have found ’em in high Dispute, arguing with themselves, reproving, counselling, haranguing themselves, and in the most florid manner accosting their own Persons. In all likelihood they had been once a People remarkably fluent in Expression, much pester’d with Orators and Preachers, and mightily subject to that Disease which has been since call’d the Leprosy of Eloquence; till some sage Legislator arose amongst ’em, who when he cou’d not oppose the Torrent of Words, and stop the Flux of Speech, by any immediate Application, found means to give a vent to the loquacious Humour, and broke the force of the Distemper by eluding it.
Our present Manners, I must own, are not so well calculated for this Method of Soliloquy, as to suffer it to become a national Practice. ’Tis but a small Portion of this Regimen, which I wou’d willingly borrow, and apply to private use; especially in the case of Authors. I am sensible how fatal it might prove to many honourable Persons, shou’d they acquire such a Habit as this, or offer to practice such an Art, within reach of any mortal Ear. For ’tis well known, we are not many of us like that Roman, who wish’d for Windows to his Breast, that all might be as conspicuous there as in his House, which for that very reason he had built as open as was possible. I wou’d therefore advise our Probationer, upon his first Exercise, to retire into some thick Wood, or rather take the Point of some high Hill; where, besides the Advantage of looking about him for Security, he wou’d find the Air perhaps more rarefy’d, and sutable to the Perspiration requir’d, especially in the case of a Poetical Genius.
* The whole band of authors loves a wood and shuns a city.
’Tis remarkable in all great Wits, that they have own’d this Practice of ours, and generally describ’d themselves as a People liable to sufficient Ridicule, for their great Loquacity by themselves, and their profound Taciturnity in Company. Not only the Poet and Philosopher, but the Orator himself was wont to have recourse to our Method. And the Prince of this latter Tribe may be prov’d to have been a great Frequenter of the Woods and River-Banks; where he consum’d abundance of his Breath, suffer’d his Fancy to evaporate, and reduc’d the vehemence both of his Spirit and Voice. If other Authors find nothing which invites ’em to these Recesses, ’tis because their Genius is not of force enough: Or tho it be, their Character, they may imagine, will hardly bear ’em out. For to be surpriz’d in the odd Actions, Gestures, or Tones, which are proper to such Asceticks, I must own wou’d be an ill Adventure for a Man of the World. But with Poets and Philosophers ’tis a known Case:
* The man is either raving or composing.
Composing and Raving must necessarily, we see, bear a resemblance. And for those Composers who deal in Systems, and airy Speculations, they have vulgarly pass’d for a sort of Prose-Poets. Their secret Practice and Habit has been as frequently noted:
† They chew over mumbles with themselves and rabid silences.
Both these sorts are happily indulg’d in this Method of Evacuation. They are thought to act naturally, and in their proper way, when they assume these odd Manners. But of other Authors ’tis expected they shou’d be better bred. They are oblig’d to preserve a more conversible Habit; which is no small misfortune to ’em. For if their Meditation and Resvery be obstructed by the fear of a nonconforming Mein in Conversation, they may happen to be so much the worse Authors for being finer Gentlemen. Their Fervency of Imagination may possibly be as strong as either the Philosopher’s or the Poet’s. But being deny’d an equal Benefit of Discharge, and with-held from the wholesom manner of Relief in private; ’tis no wonder if they appear with so much Froth and Scum in publick.
’Tis observable, that the Writers of Memoirs and Essays are chiefly subject to this frothy Distemper. Nor can it be doubted that this is the true Reason why these Gentlemen entertain the World so lavishly with what relates to themselves. For having had no opportunity of privately conversing with themselves, or exercising their own Genius, so as to make Acquaintance with it, or prove its Strength; they immediately fall to work in a wrong place, and exhibit on the Stage of the World that Practice, which they shou’d have kept to themselves; if they design’d that either they, or the World, shou’d be the better for their Moralitys. Who indeed can endure to hear an Empirick talk of his own Constitution, how he governs and manages it, what Diet agrees best with it, and what his Practice is with himself? The Proverb, no doubt, is very just, Physician cure thy-self. Yet methinks one shou’d have but an ill time, to be present at these bodily Operations. Nor is the Reader in truth any better entertain’d, when he is oblig’d to assist at the experimental Discussions of his practising Author, who all the while is in reality doing no better, than taking his Physick in publick.
For this reason, I hold it very indecent for any one to publish his Meditations, Occasional Reflections, Solitary Thoughts, or other such Exercises as come under the notion of this self-discoursing Practice. And the modestest Title I can conceive for such Works, wou’d be that of a certain Author, who call’d them his Cruditys. ’Tis the Unhappiness of those Wits, who conceive suddenly, but without being able to go out their full time, that after many Miscarriages and Abortions, they can bring nothing well-shapen or perfect into the World. They are not however the less fond of their Off-spring, which in a manner they beget in publick. For so publick-spirited they are, that they can never afford themselves the least time to think in private, for their own particular benefit and use. For this reason, tho they are often retir’d, they are never by themselves. The World is ever of the Party. They have their Author-Character in view, and are always considering how this or that Thought wou’d serve to compleat some Set of Contemplations, or furnish out the Common-Place-Book, from whence these treasur’d Riches are to flow in plenty on the necessitous World.
But if our Candidates for Authorship happen to be of the sanctify’d kind; ’tis not be imagin’d how much farther still their Charity is apt to extend. So exceeding great is their Indulgence and Tenderness for Mankind, that they are unwilling the least Sample of their devout Exercise shou’d be lost. Tho there are already so many Formularys and Rituals appointed for this Species of Soliloquy; they can allow nothing to lie conceal’d, which passes in this religious Commerce and way of Dialogue between them and their Soul.
These may be term’d a sort of Pseudo-Asceticks, who can have no real Converse either with themselves, or with Heaven; whilst they look thus a-squint upon the World, and carry Titles and Editions along with ’em in their Meditations. And altho the Books of this sort, by a common Idiom, are call’d good Books; the Authors, for certain, are a sorry Race: For religious Cruditys are undoubtedly the worst of any. * A Saint-Author of all Men least values Politeness. He scorns to confine that Spirit, in which he writes, to Rules of Criticism and profane Learning. Nor is he inclin’d in any respect to play the Critick on himself, or regulate his Style or Language by the Standard of good Company, and People of the better sort. He is above the Consideration of that which in a narrow sense we call Manners. Nor is he apt to examine any other Faults than those which he calls Sins: Tho a Sinner against Good-Breeding, and the Laws of Decency, will no more be esteem’d a good Author, than will a Sinner against Grammar, good Argument, or good Sense. And if Moderation and Temper are not of the Party with a Writer; let his Cause be ever so good, I doubt whether he will be able to recommend it with great advantage to the World.
On this account, I wou’d principally recommend our Exercise of Self-Converse to all such Persons as are addicted to write after the manner of holy Advisers; especially if they lie under an indispensible Necessity of being Talkers or Haranguers in the same kind. For to discharge frequently and vehemently in publick, is a great hindrance to the way of private Exercise; which consists chiefly in Controul. But where, instead of Controul, Debate or Argument, the chief Exercise of the Wit consists in uncontroulable Harangues and Reasonings, which must neither be question’d nor contradicted; there is great danger, lest the Party, thro’ this Habit, shou’d suffer much by Cruditys, Indigestions, Choler, Bile, and particularly by a certain Tumour or Flatulency, which renders him of all Men the least able to apply the wholesom Regimen of Self-Practice. ’Tis no wonder if such quaint Practitioners grow to an enormous Size of Absurdity, whilst they continue in the reverse of that Practice, by which alone we correct the Redundancy of Humours, and chasten the Exuberance of Conceit and Fancy.
A remarkable Instance of the want of this sovereign Remedy may be drawn from our common great Talkers, who engross the greatest part of the Conversations of the World, and are the forwardest to speak in publick Assemblys. Many of these have a sprightly Genius, attended with a mighty Heat and Ebullition of Fancy. But ’tis a certain Observation in our Science, that they who are great Talkers in Company, have never been any Talkers by themselves, nor us’d to these private Discussions of our home Regimen. For which reason their Froth abounds. Nor can they discharge any thing without some mixture of it. But when they carry their Attempts beyond ordinary Discourse, and wou’d rise to the Capacity of Authors, the Case grows worse with ’em. Their Page can carry none of the Advantages of their Person. They can no-way bring into Paper those Airs they give themselves in Discourse. The Turns of Voice and Action, with which they help out many a lame Thought and incoherent Sentence, must here be laid aside; and the Speech taken to pieces, compar’d together, and examin’d from head to foot. So that unless the Party has been us’d to play the Critick thorowly upon himself, he will hardly be found proof against the Criticisms of others. His Thoughts can never appear very correct; unless they have been us’d to sound Correction by themselves, and been well form’d and disciplin’d before they are brought into the Field. ’Tis the hardest thing in the world to be a good Thinker, without being a strong Self-Examiner, and thorow-pac’d Dialogist, in this solitary way.
Sect. 2.SECTION II
BUT to bring our Case a little closer still to Morals. I might perhaps very justifiably take occasion here to enter into a spacious Field of Learning, to shew the Antiquity of that Opinion, “That we have each of us a Daemon, Genius, Angel, or Guardian-Spirit, to whom we were strictly join’d, and committed, from our earliest Dawn of Reason, or Moment of our Birth.” This Opinion, were it literally true, might be highly serviceable, no doubt, towards the Establishment of our System and Doctrine. For it wou’d infallibly be prov’d a kind of Sacrilege or Impiety to slight the Company of so Divine a Guest, and in a manner banish him our Breast, by refusing to enter with him into those secret Conferences, by which alone he cou’d be enabled to become our Adviser and Guide. But I shou’d esteem it unfair to proceed upon such an Hypothesis as this: when the very utmost the wise Antients ever meant by this Daemon-Companion, I conceive to have been no more than enigmatically to declare, “That we had each of us a Patient in our-self; that we were properly our own Subjects of Practice; and that we then became due Practitioners, when by virtue of an intimate Recess we cou’d discover a certain Duplicity of Soul, and divide our-selves into two Partys.” One of these, as they suppos’d, wou’d immediately approve himself a venerable Sage; and with an air of Authority erect himself our Counsellor and Governor; whilst the other Party, who had nothing in him besides what was base and servile, wou’d be contented to follow and obey.
According therefore as this Recess was deep and intimate, and the Dual Number practically form’d in Us, we were suppos’d to advance in Morals and true Wisdom. This, they thought, was the only way of composing Matters in our Breast, and establishing that Subordinacy, which alone cou’d make Us agree with our-selves, and be of a-piece within. They esteem’d this a more religious Work than any Prayers, or other Duty in the Temple. And this they advis’d Us to carry thither, as the best Offering which cou’d be made:
* Duty to God and man well blended in the mind, purity in the shrine of the heart.
This was, among the Antients, that celebrated Delphick Inscription, Recognize Your-self: which was as much as to say, Divide your-self, or BeTwo. For if the Division were rightly made, all within wou’d of course, they thought, be rightly understood, and prudently manag’d. Such Confidence they had in this Home-Dialect of Soliloquy. For it was accounted the peculiar of Philosophers and wise Men, to be able to hold themselves in Talk. And it was their Boast on this account, “That they were never less alone, than when by themselves.” A Knave, they thought, cou’d never be by himself. Not that his Conscience was always sure of giving him disturbance; but he had not, they suppos’d, so much Interest with himself, as to exert this generous Faculty, and raise himself a Companion; who being fairly admitted into Partnership, wou’d quickly mend his Partner, and set his Affairs on a right foot.
One wou’d think, there was nothing easier for us, than to know our own Minds, and understand what our main Scope was; what we plainly drove at, and what we propos’d to our-selves, as our End, in every Occurrence of our Lives. But our Thoughts have generally such an obscure implicit Language, that ’tis the hardest thing in the world to make ’em speak out distinctly. For this reason, the right Method is to give ’em Voice and Accent. And this, in our default, is what the Moralists or Philosophers endeavour to do, to our hand; when, as is usual, they hold us out a kind of vocal Looking-Glass, draw Sound out of our Breast, and instruct us to personate our-selves, in the plainest manner.
* The prayer which a man utters within and secretly, when he has prayed aloud for sound mind and credit, is for the speedy death of a rich uncle.
A certain Air of Pleasantry and Humour, which prevails now-a-days in the fashionable World, gives a Son the assurance to tell a Father, he has liv’d too long; and a Husband the privilege of talking of his Second Wife before his First. But let the airy Gentleman, who makes thus bold with others, retire a-while out of Company; and he scarce dares tell himself his Wishes. Much less can he endure to carry on his Thought, as he necessarily must, if he enters once thorowly into Himself, and proceeds by Interrogatorys to form the Home-Acquaintance and Familiarity requir’d. For thus, after some struggle, we may suppose him to accost himself. “Tell me now, my honest Heart! Am I really honest, and of some worth? or do I only make a fair show, and am intrinsecally no better than a Rascal? As good a Friend, a Country-man, or a Relation, as I appear outwardly to the World, or as I wou’d willingly perhaps think my-self to be; shou’d I not in reality be glad they were hang’d, any of them, or broke their Necks, who happen’d to stand between Me and the least portion of an Estate? Why not? since ’tis my Interest. Shou’d I not be glad therefore to help this matter forwards, and promote my Interest, if it lay fairly in my power? No doubt; provided I were sure not to be punish’d for it. And what reason has the greatest Rogue in Nature for not doing thus? The same reason, and no other. Am I not then, at the bottom, the same as he? The same: an arrant Villain; tho perhaps more a Coward, and not so perfect in my kind. If Interest therefore points me out this Road; whither would Humanity and Compassion lead me? Quite contrary. Why therefore do I cherish such Weaknesses? Why do I sympathize with others? Why please myself in the Conceit of Worth and Honour? a Character, a Memory, an Issue, or a Name? What else are these but Scruples in my way? Wherefore do I thus bely my own Interest, and by keeping my-self half Knave, approve myself a thorow Fool?”
This is a Language we can by no means endure to hold with our-selves; whatever Raillery we may use with others. We may defend Villany, or cry up Folly, before the World: But to appear Fools, Mad-men, or Varlets, to our-selves; and prove it to our own faces, that we are really such, is insupportable. For so true a Reverence has every-one for himself, when he comes clearly to appear before his close Companion, that he had rather profess the vilest things of himself in open Company, than hear his Character privately from his own Mouth. So that we may readily from hence conclude, That the chief Interest of Ambition, Avarice, Corruption, and every sly insinuating Vice, is to prevent this Interview and Familiarity of Discourse which is consequent upon close Retirement and inward Recess. ’Tis the grand Artifice of Villany and Leudness, as well as of Superstition and Bigotry, to put us upon Terms of greater Distance and Formality with our-selves, and evade our proving Method of Soliloquy. And for this reason, how specious soever may be the Instruction and Doctrine of Formalists; their very Manner it-self is a sufficient Blind, or Remora in the way of Honesty and good Sense.
I am sensible, that shou’d my Reader be peradventure a Lover, after the more profound and solemn way of Love, he wou’d be apt to conclude, that he was no Stranger to our propos’d Method of Practice; being conscious to himself of having often made vigorous Excursions into those solitary Regions above-mention’d; where Soliloquy is upheld with most advantage. He may chance to remember how he has many times address’d the Woods and Rocks in audible articulate Sounds, and seemingly expostulated with himself in such a manner, as if he had really form’d the requisite Distinction, and had the Power to entertain himself in due form. But it is very apparent, that tho all were true we have here suppos’d, it can no way reach the Case before us. For a passionate Lover, whatever Solitude he may affect, can never be truly by himself. His Case is like the Author’s who has begun his Courtship to the Publick, and is embark’d in an Intrigue which sufficiently amuses, and takes him out of himself. Whatever he meditates alone, is interrupted still by the imagin’d Presence of the Mistress he pursues. Not a Thought, not an Expression, not a Sigh, which is purely for himself. All is appropriated, and all devoutly tender’d to the Object of his Passion. Insomuch that there is nothing ever so trivial or accidental of this kind, which he is not desirous shou’d be witness’d by the Party, whose Grace and Favour he sollicits.
’Tis the same Reason which keeps the imaginary Saint, or Mystick, from being capable of this Entertainment. Instead of looking narrowly into his own Nature and Mind, that he may be no longer a Mystery to himself, he is taken up with the Contemplation of other mysterious Natures, which he can never explain or comprehend. He has the Specters of his Zeal before his Eyes; and is as familiar with his Modes, Essences, Personages, and Exhibitions of Deity, as the Conjurer with his different Forms, Species, and Orders of Genii or Daemons. So that we make no doubt to assert, that not so much as a recluse Religionist, a Votary, or Hermit, was ever truly by himself. And thus since neither Lover, Author, Mystick, or Conjurer, (who are the only Claimants) can truly or justly be entitled to a Share in this Self-entertainment; it remains that the only Person intitled, is the Man of Sense, the Sage, or Philosopher. However, since of all other Characters we are generally the most inclin’d to favour that of a Lover; it may not, we hope, be impertinent, on this occasion, to recite the Story of an Amour.
A VIRTUOUS young Prince of a heroick Soul, capable of Love and Friendship, made war upon a Tyrant, who was in every respect his Reverse. ’Twas the Happiness of our Prince to be as great a Conqueror by his Clemency and Bounty, as by his Arms and military Virtue. Already he had won over to his Party several Potentates and Princes, who before had been subject to the Tyrant. Among those who adher’d still to the Enemy, there was a Prince, who having all the advantage of Person and Merit, had lately been made happy in the Possession and mutual Love of the most beautiful Princess in the world. It happen’d that the Occasions of the War call’d the new-marry’d Prince to a distance from his belov’d Princess. He left her secure, as he thought, in a strong Castle, far within the Country: but in his absence the Place was taken by surprize, and the Princess brought a Captive to the Quarters of our heroick Prince.
There was in the Camp a young Nobleman, Favourite of the Prince; one who had been educated with him, and was still treated by him with perfect Familiarity. Him he immediately sent for, and with strict Injunctions committed the captive Princess to his charge; resolving she shou’d be treated with that Respect which was due to her high Rank and Merit. ’Twas the same young Lord, who had discover’d her disguis’d among the Prisoners, and learnt her Story; the particulars of which he now related to the Prince. He spoke in extasy on this occasion; telling the Prince how beautiful she appear’d, even in the midst of Sorrow; and tho disguis’d under the meanest Habit, yet how distinguishable, by her Air and Manner, from every other Beauty of her Sex. But what appear’d strange to our young Nobleman, was, that the Prince, during this whole relation, discover’d not the least Intention of seeing the Lady, or satisfying that Curiosity, which seem’d so natural on such an occasion. He press’d him; but without success. “Not see her, Sir!” (said he, wondring) “when she is so handsom, beyond what you have ever seen!”
“For that very reason,” reply’d the Prince, “I wou’d the rather decline the Interview. For shou’d I, upon the bare Report of her Beauty, be so charm’d as to make the first Visit at this urgent time of Business; I may upon sight, with better reason, be induc’d perhaps to visit her when I am more at leisure: and so again and again; till at last I may have no leisure left for my Affairs.”
“Wou’d you, Sir! persuade me then,” said the young Nobleman, smiling, “that a fair Face can have such Power as to force the Will it-self, and constrain a Man in any respect to act contrary to what he thinks becoming him? Are we to hearken to the Poets in what they tell us of that Incendiary Love, and his irresistible Flames? A real Flame, we see, burns all alike. But that imaginary one of Beauty hurts only those who are consenting. It affects no otherwise, than as we ourselves are pleas’d to allow it. In many Cases we absolutely command it: as where Relation and Consanguinity are in the nearest degree. Authority and Law, we see, can master it. But ’twou’d be vain as well as unjust, for any Law to intermeddle or prescribe, were not the Case voluntary, and our Will entirely free.”
“How comes it then,” reply’d the Prince, “that if we are thus Masters of our Choice, and free at first to admire and love where we approve, we cannot afterwards as well cease to love whenever we see cause? This latter Liberty you will hardly defend. For I doubt not, you have heard of many, who tho they were us’d to set the highest value upon Liberty before they lov’d, yet afterwards were necessitated to serve in the most abject manner: finding themselves constrain’d and bound by a stronger Chain than any of Iron, or Adamant.”
“Such Wretches,” reply’d the Youth, “I have often heard complain; who, if you will believe ’em, are wretched indeed, without Means or Power to help themselves. You may hear ’em in the same manner complain grievously of Life it-self. But tho there are Doors enow to go out of Life, they find it convenient to keep still where they are. They are the very same Pretenders, who thro’ this Plea of irresistible Necessity make bold with what is another’s, and attempt unlawful Beds. But the Law, I perceive, makes bold with them in its turn, as with other Invaders of Property. Neither is it your Custom, Sir, to pardon such Offences. So that Beauty it-self, you must allow, is innocent and harmless, and can compel no-one to do any thing amiss. The Debauch’d compel themselves, and unjustly charge their Guilt on Love. They who are honest and just, can admire and love whatever is beautiful; without offering at any-thing beyond what is allow’d. How then is it possible, Sir, that one of your Virtue shou’d be in pain on any such account, or fear such a Temptation? You see, Sir, I am sound and whole, after having beheld the Princess. I have convers’d with her; I have admir’d her in the highest degree: yet am my-self still, and in my Duty; and shall be ever in the same manner at your command.”
“’Tis well” (reply’d the Prince): “keep your-self so. Be ever the same Man: and look to your Charge carefully, as becomes you. For it may so happen in the present posture of the War, that this Fair Captive may stand us in good stead.”
With this the young Nobleman departed to execute his Commission: and immediately took such care of the captive Princess and her Houshold, that she seem’d as perfectly obey’d, and had every thing which belong’d to her in as great Splendor now, as in her Principality, and in the height of Fortune. He found her in every respect deserving, and saw in her a Generosity of Soul which was beyond her other Charms. His Study to oblige her, and soften her Distress, made her in return desirous to express a Gratitude; which he easily perceiv’d. She shew’d on every occasion a real Concern for his Interest; and when he happen’d to fall ill, she took such tender care of him her-self, and by her Servants, that he seem’d to owe his Recovery to her Friendship.
From these Beginnings, insensibly, and by natural degrees (as may easily be conceiv’d) the Youth fell desperately in love. At first he offer’d not to make the least mention of his Passion to the Princess. For he scarce dar’d tell it to himself. But afterwards he grew bolder. She receiv’d his Declaration with an unaffected Trouble and Concern, spoke to him as a Friend, to dissuade him as much as possible from such an extravagant Attempt. But when he talk’d to her of Force, she immediately sent away one of her faithful Domesticks to the Prince, to implore his Protection. The Prince receiv’d the Message with the appearance of more than ordinary Concern: sent instantly for one of his first Ministers; and bid him go with that Domestick to the young Nobleman, and let him understand, “That Force was not to be offer’d to such a Lady; Persuasion he might use, if he thought fit.”
The Minister, who was no Friend to the young Nobleman, fail’d not to aggravate the Message, inveigh’d publickly against him on this occasion, and to his face reproach’d him as a Traitor and Dishonourer of his Prince and Nation: with all else which cou’d be said against him, as guilty of the highest Sacrilege, Perfidiousness, and Breach of Trust. So that in reality, the Youth look’d upon his Case as desperate, fell into the deepest Melancholy, and prepar’d himself for that Fate, which he thought he well deserv’d.
In this Condition the Prince sent to speak with him alone: and when he saw him in the utmost Confusion, “I find,” said he, “my Friend, I am now become dreadful to you indeed; since you can neither see me without Shame, nor imagine me to be without Resentment. But away with all those Thoughts from this time forwards. I know how much you have suffer’d on this occasion. I know the Power of Love, and am no otherwise safe my-self, than by keeping out of the way of Beauty. ’Twas I who was in fault; ’twas I who unhappily match’d you with that unequal Adversary, and gave you that impracticable Task and hard Adventure, which no-one yet was ever strong enough to accomplish.”
“In this, Sir,” reply’d the Youth, “as in all else, you express that Goodness which is so natural to you. You have Compassion, and can allow for human Frailty; but the rest of Mankind will never cease to upbraid me. Nor shall I ever be forgiven, were I able ever to forgive my-self. I am reproach’d by my nearest Friends. I must be odious to all Mankind, wherever I am known. The least Punishment I can think due to me, is Banishment for ever from your Presence.”
“Think not of such a thing for ever,” said the Prince, “but trust me: if you retire only for a while, I shall so order it, that you shall soon return again with the Applause, even of those who are now your Enemys, when they find what a considerable Service you shall have render’d both to them and Me.”
Such a Hint was sufficient to revive the Spirits of our despairing Youth. He was transported to think, that his Misfortune cou’d be turn’d any way to the Advantage of his Prince; he enter’d with Joy into the Scheme the Prince had laid for him, and appear’d eager to depart and execute what was appointed him. “Can you then,” said the Prince, “resolve to quit the charming Princess?”
“O Sir!” reply’d the Youth, “well am I now satisfy’d, that I have in reality within me two distinct separate Souls. This Lesson of Philosophy I have learnt from that villanous Sophister Love. For ’tis impossible to believe, that having one and the same Soul, it shou’d be actually both Good and Bad, passionate for Virtue and Vice, desirous of Contrarys. No. There must of necessity be Two: and when the Good prevails, ’tis then we act handsomly; when the Ill, then basely and villanously. Such was my Case. For lately the Ill Soul was wholly Master. But now the Good prevails, by your assistance; and I am plainly a new Creature, with quite another Apprehension, another Reason, another Will.’’
THUS it may appear how far a Lover by his own natural Strength may reach the chief Principle of Philosophy, and understand our Doctrine of Two Persons in one individual Self. Not that our Courtier, we suppose, was able, of himself, to form this Distinction justly and according to Art. For cou’d he have effected this, he wou’d have been able to cure himself, without the assistance of his Prince. However, he was wise enough to see in the issue, that his Independency and Freedom were mere Glosses, and Resolution a Nose of Wax. For let Will be ever so free, Humour and Fancy, we see, govern it. And these, as free as we suppose ’em, are often chang’d we know not how, without asking our consent, or giving us any account. If *Opinion be that which governs, and makes the change; ’tis it-self as liable to be govern’d, and vary’d in its turn. And by what I can observe of the World, Fancy and Opinion stand pretty much upon the same bottom. So that if there be no certain Inspector or Auditor establish’d within us, to take account of these Opinions and Fancys in due form, and minutely to animadvert upon their several Growths and Habits, we are as little like to continue a Day in the same Will, as a Tree, during a Summer, in the same Shape, without the Gard’ner’s Assistance, and the vigorous Application of the Sheers and Pruning-Knife.
As cruel a Court as the Inquisition appears; there must, it seems, be full as formidable a one, erected in our-selves; if we wou’d pretend to that Uniformity of Opinion which is necessary to hold us to one Will, and preserve us in the same mind, from one day to another. Philosophy, at this rate, will be thought perhaps little better than Persecution: And a Supreme Judg in matters of Inclination and Appetite, must needs go exceedingly against the Heart. Every pretty Fancy is disturb’d by it: Every Pleasure interrupted by it. The Course of good Humour will hardly allow it: And the Pleasantry of Wit almost absolutely rejects it. It appears, besides, like a kind of Pedantry, to be thus magisterial with our-selves; thus strict over our Imaginations, and with all the airs of a real Pedagogue to be sollicitously taken up in the sour Care and Tutorage of so many boyish Fancys, unlucky Appetites and Desires, which are perpetually playing truant, and need Correction.
We hope, however, that by our Method of Practice, and the help of the grand Arcanum, which we have profess’d to reveal, this Regimen or Discipline of theFancys may not in the end prove so severe or mortifying as is imagin’d. We hope also that our Patient (for such we naturally suppose our Reader) will consider duly with himself, that what he endures in this Operation is for no inconsiderable End: since ’tis to gain him a Will, and insure him a certain Resolution; by which he shall know where to find himself; be sure of his own Meaning and Design; and as to all his Desires, Opinions, and Inclinations, be warranted one and the same Person to day as yesterday, and to morrow as to day.
This, perhaps, will be thought a Miracle by one who well considers the Nature of Mankind, and the Growth, Variation, and Inflection of Appetite and Humour. For Appetite, which is elder Brother to Reason, being the Lad of stronger growth, is sure, on every Contest, to take the advantage of drawing all to his own side. And Will, so highly boasted, is, at best, merely a Top or Foot-Ball between these Youngsters, who prove very unfortunately match’d; till the youngest, instead of now and then a Kick or Lash bestow’d to little purpose, forsakes the Ball or Top it-self, and begins to lay about his elder Brother. ’Tis then that the Scene changes. For the elder, like an arrant Coward, upon this Treatment, presently grows civil, and affords the younger as fair Play afterwards as he can desire.
And here it is that our Sovereign Remedy and Gymnastick Method of Soliloquy takes its rise: when by a certain powerful Figure of inward Rhetorick, the Mind apostrophizes its own Fancys, raises ’em in their proper Shapes and Personages, and addresses ’em familiarly, without the least Ceremony or Respect. By this means it will soon happen, that Two form’d Partys will erect themselves within. For the Imaginations or Fancys being thus roundly treated, are forc’d to declare themselves, and take party. Those on the side of the elder Brother Appetite, are strangely subtle and insinuating. They have always the Faculty to speak by Nods and Winks. By this practice they conceal half their meaning, and, like modern Politicians, pass for deeply wise, and adorn themselves with the finest Pretext and most specious Glosses imaginable; till being confronted with their Fellows of a plainer Language and Expression, they are forc’d to quit their mysterious Manner, and discover themselves mere Sophisters and Impostors, who have not the least to do with the Party of Reason and good Sense.
Accordingly we might now proceed to exhibit distinctly, and in due method, the Form and Manner of this Probation, or Exercise, as it regards all Men in general. But the Case of Authors, in particular, being, as we apprehend, the most urgent; we shall apply our Rule in the first place to these Gentlemen, whom it so highly imports to know themselves, and understand the natural Strength and Powers, as well as the Weaknesses of a human Mind. For without this Understanding, the Historian’s Judgment will be very defective; the Politician’s Views very narrow, and chimerical; and the Poet’s Brain, however stock’d with Fiction, will be but poorly furnish’d; as in the sequel we shall make appear. He who deals in Characters, must of necessity know his own; or he will know nothing. And he who wou’d give the World a profitable Entertainment of this sort, shou’d be sure to profit, first, by himself. For in this sense, Wisdom as well as Charity may be honestly said to begin at home. There is no way of estimating Manners, or apprizing the different Humours, Fancys, Passions and Apprehensions of others, without first taking an Inventory of the same kind of Goods within ourselves, and surveying our domestick Fund. A little of this Home-Practice will serve to make great Discoverys.
Live at home and learn how slenderly furnished your apartments are.1
Sect. 3.SECTION III
WHOEVER has been an Observer of Action and Grace in human Bodys, must of necessity have discover’d the great difference in this respect between such Persons as have been taught by Nature only, and such as by Reflection, and the assistance of Art, have learnt to form those Motions, which on experience are found the easiest and most natural. Of the former kind are either those good Rusticks, who have been bred remote from the form’d Societys of Men; or those plain Artizans, and People of lower Rank, who living in Citys and Places of resort, have been necessitated however to follow mean Imployments, and wanted the Opportunity and Means to form themselves after the better Models. There are some Persons indeed so happily form’d by Nature her-self, that with the greatest Simplicity or Rudeness of Education, they have still something of a natural Grace and Comeliness in their Action: And there are others of a better Education, who by a wrong Aim and injudicious Affectation of Grace, are of all People the farthest remov’d from it. ’Tis undeniable however, that the Perfection of Grace and Comeliness in Action and Behaviour, can be found only among the People of a liberal Education. And even among the graceful of this kind, those still are found the gracefullest, who early in their Youth have learnt their Exercises, and form’d their Motions under the best Masters.
Now such as these Masters and their Lessons are to a fine Gentleman, such are Philosophers, and Philosophy, to an Author. The Case is the same in the fashionable, and in the literate World. In the former of these ’tis remark’d, that by the help of good Company, and the force of Example merely, a decent Carriage is acquir’d, with such apt Motions and such a Freedom of Limbs, as on all ordinary occasions may enable the Party to demean himself like a Gentleman. But when upon further occasion, trial is made in an extraordinary way; when Exercises of the genteeler kind are to be perform’d in publick, ’twill easily appear who of the Pretenders have been form’d by Rudiments, and had Masters in private; and who, on the other side, have contented themselves with bare Imitation, and learnt their Part casually and by rote. The Parallel is easily made on the side of Writers. They have at least as much need of learning the several Motions, Counterpoises and Balances of the Mind and Passions, as the other Students those of the Body and Limbs.
* Sound knowledge is the first requisite for writing well; the books of Socrates’ school will yield you the matter.
The Galant, no doubt, may pen a Letter to his Mistress, as the Courtier may a Compliment to the Minister, or the Minister to the Favourite above him, without going such vast Depths into Learning or Philosophy. But for these privileg’d Gentlemen, tho they set Fashions and prescribe Rules in other Cases, they are no Controulers in the Commonwealth of Letters. Nor are they presum’d to write to the Age, or for remote Posterity. Their Works are not of a nature to intitle ’em to hold the Rank of Authors, or be styl’d Writers by way of Excellence in the kind. Shou’d their Ambition lead ’em into such a Field, they wou’d be oblig’d to come otherwise equip’d. They who enter the publick Lists, must come duly train’d, and exercis’d, like well appointed Cavaliers, expert in Arms, and well instructed in the Use of their Weapon, and Management of their Steed. For to be well accouter’d, and well mounted, is not sufficient. The Horse alone can never make the Horseman; nor Limbs the Wrestler or the Dancer. No more can a Genius alone make a Poet; or good Parts a Writer, in any considerable kind. The Skill and Grace of Writing is founded, as our wise Poet tells us, in Knowledg and good Sense: and not barely in that Knowledg, which is to be learnt from common Authors, or the general Conversation of the World; but from those particular Rules of Art, which Philosophy alone exhibits.
The Philosophical Writings, to which our Poet in his Art of Poetry refers, were in themselves a kind of Poetry, like the *Mimes, or personated Pieces of early times, before Philosophy was in vogue, and when as yet Dramatical Imitation was scarce form’d; or at least, in many Parts, not brought to due perfection. They were Pieces which, besides their force of Style, and hidden Numbers, carry’d a sort of Action and Imitation, the same as the Epick and Dramatick kinds. They were either real Dialogues, or Recitals of such personated Discourses; where the Persons themselves had their Characters preserv’d thro’out; their Manners, Humours, and distinct Turns of Temper and Understanding maintain’d, according to the most exact poetical Truth. ’Twas not enough that these Pieces treated fundamentally of Morals, and in consequence pointed out real Characters and Manners: They exhibited ’em alive, and set the Countenances and Complexions of Men plainly in view. And by this means they not only taught Us to know Others; but, what was principal and of highest virtue in ’em, they taught us to know Our-selves.
The Philosophical Hero of these Poems, whose Name they carry’d both in their Body and Front, and whose Genius and Manner they were made to represent, was in himself a perfect Character; yet, in some respects, so veil’d, and in a Cloud, that to the unattentive Surveyor he seem’d often to be very different from what he really was: and this chiefly by reason of a certain exquisite and refin’d Raillery which belong’d to his Manner, and by virtue of which he cou’d treat the highest Subjects, and those of the commonest Capacity both together, and render ’em explanatory of each other. So that in this Genius of writing, there appear’d both the heroick and the simple, the tragick, and the comick Vein. However, it was so order’d, that notwithstanding the Oddness or Mysteriousness of the principal Character, the Under-parts or second Characters shew’d human Nature more distinctly, and to the Life. We might here, therefore, as in a Looking-Glass, discover our-selves, and see our minutest Features nicely delineated, and suted to our own Apprehension and Cognizance. No-one who was ever so little a-while an Inspector, cou’d fail of becoming acquainted with his own Heart. And, what was of singular note in these magical Glasses, it wou’d happen, that by constant and long Inspection, the Partys accustom’d to the Practice, wou’d acquire a peculiar speculative Habit; so as virtually to carry about with ’em a sort of Pocket-Mirrour, always ready, and in use. In this, there were Two Faces which wou’d naturally present themselves to our view: One of them, like the commanding Genius, the Leader and Chief above-mention’d; the other like that rude, undisciplin’d and headstrong Creature, whom we our-selves in our natural Capacity most exactly resembled. Whatever we were employ’d in, whatever we set about; if once we had acquir’d the habit of this Mirrour; we shou’d, by virtue of the double Reflection, distinguish our-selves into two different Partys. And in this Dramatick Method, the Work of Self-Inspection wou’d proceed with admirable Success.
’Tis no wonder that the primitive Poets were esteem’d such Sages in their Times; since it appears, they were such well-practis’d Dialogists, and accustom’d to this improving Method, before ever Philosophy had adopted it. Their Mimes or characteriz’d Discourses were as much relish’d, as their most regular Poems; and were the Occasion perhaps that so many of these latter were form’d in such perfection. For Poetry it-self was defin’d an Imitation chiefly of Men and Manners: and was that in an exalted and noble degree, which in a low one we call Mimickry. ’Tis in this that the great *Mimographer, the Father and Prince of Poets, excels so highly; his Characters being wrought to a Likeness beyond what any succeeding Masters were ever able to describe. Nor are his Works, which are so full of Action, any other than an artful Series or Chain of Dialogues, which turn upon one remarkable Catastrophe or Event. He describes no Qualitys or Virtues; censures no Manners: makes no Encomiums, nor gives Characters himself; but brings his Actors still in view. ’Tis they who shew themselves. ’Tis they who speak in such a manner, as distinguishes ’em in all things from all others, and makes ’em ever like themselves. Their different Compositions and Allays so justly made, and equally carry’d on, thro’ every particle of the Action, give more Instruction than all the Comments or Glosses in the world. The Poet, instead of giving himself those dictating and masterly Airs of Wisdom, makes hardly any figure at all, and is scarce discoverable in his Poem. This is being truly a Master. He paints so as to need no Inscription over his Figures, to tell us what they are, or what he intends by ’em. A few words let fall, on any slight occasion, from any of the Partys he introduces, are sufficient to denote their Manners and distinct Character. From a Finger or a Toe, he can represent to our Thoughts the Frame and Fashion of a whole Body. He wants no other help of Art, to personate his Heroes, and make ’em living. There was no more left for Tragedy to do after him, than to erect a Stage, and draw his Dialogues and Characters into Scenes; turning, in the same manner, upon one principal Action or Event, with that regard to Place and Time which was sutable to a real Spectacle. Even *Comedy it-self was adjudg’d to this great Master; it being deriv’d from those Parodys or Mock-Humours, of which he had given the † Specimen in a conceal’d sort of Raillery intermix’d with the Sublime.—A dangerous Stroke of Art! and which requir’d a masterly Hand, like that of the philosophical Hero, whose Character was represented in the Dialogue-Writings above-mention’d.
From hence possibly we may form a Notion of that Resemblance, which on so many occasions was heretofore remark’d between the Prince of Poets, and the Divine Philosopher, who was said to rival him, and who together with his Contemporarys of the same School, writ wholly in that manner of Dialogue above-describ’d. From hence too we may comprehend perhaps, why the Study of Dialogue was heretofore thought so advantageous to Writers, and why this manner of Writing was judg’d so difficult, which at first sight, it must be own’d, appears the easiest of any.
I have formerly wonder’d indeed why a Manner, which was familiarly us’d in Treatises upon most Subjects, with so much Success among the Antients, shou’d be so insipid and of little esteem with us Moderns. But I afterwards perceiv’d, that besides the difficulty of the Manner it-self, and that Mirrour-Faculty, which we have observ’d it to carry in respect of our-selves, it proves also of necessity a kind of Mirrour or Looking-Glass to the Age. If so; it shou’d of consequence (you’ll say) be the more agreeable and entertaining.
True; if the real View of our-selves be not perhaps displeasing to us. But why more displeasing to Us than to the Antients? Because perhaps they cou’d with just reason bear to see their natural Countenances represented. And why not We the same? What shou’d discourage us? For are we not as handsom, at least in our own eyes? Perhaps not: as we shall see, when we have consider’d a little further what the force is of this Mirrour-Writing, and how it differs from that more complaisant modish way, in which an Author, instead of presenting us with other natural Characters, sets off his own with the utmost Art, and purchases his Reader’s Favour by all imaginable Compliances and Condescensions.
AN AUTHOR who writes in his own Person, has the advantage of beingwho or what he pleases. He is no certain Man, nor has any certain or genuine Character: but sutes himself, on every occasion, to the Fancy of his Reader, whom, as the fashion is now-a-days, he constantly caresses and cajoles. All turns upon their two Persons. And as in an Amour, or Commerce of Love-Letters; so here the Author has the Privilege of talking eternally of himself, dressing and sprucing himself up; whilst he is making diligent court, and working upon the Humour of the Party to whom he addresses. This is the Coquetry of a modern Author; whose Epistles Dedicatory, Prefaces, and Addresses to the Reader, are so many affected Graces, design’d to draw the Attention from the Subject, towards Himself; and make it be generally observ’d, not so much what he says, as what he appears, or is, and what figure he already makes, or hopes to make, in the fashionable World.
These are the Airs which a neighbouring Nation give themselves, more particularly in what they call their Memoirs. Their very Essays on Politicks, their Philosophical and Critical Works, their Comments upon antient and modern Authors, all their Treatises are Memoirs. The whole Writing of this Age is become indeed a sort of Memoir-Writing. Tho in the real Memoirs of the Antients, even when they writ at any time concerning themselves, there was neither the I nor Thou thro’out the whole Work. So that all this pretty Amour and Intercourse of Caresses between the Author and Reader was thus intirely taken away.
Much more is this the Case in Dialogue. For here the Author is annihilated; and the Reader being no way apply’d to, stands for No-body. The self-interesting Partys both vanish at once. The Scene presents it-self, as by chance, and undesign’d. You are not only left to judg coolly, and with indifference, of the Sense deliver’d; but of the Character, Genius, Elocution, and Manner of the Persons who deliver it. These two are mere Strangers, in whose favour you are no way engag’d. Nor is it enough that the Persons introduc’d speak pertinent and good Sense, at every turn. It must be seen from what Bottom they speak; from what Principle, what Stock or Fund of Knowledg they draw; and what Kind or Species of Understanding they possess. For the Understanding here must have its Mark, its characteristick Note, by which it may be distinguish’d. It must be such and such an Understanding; as when we say, for instance, such or such a Face: since Nature has characteriz’d Tempers and Minds as peculiarly as Faces. And for an Artist who draws naturally, ’tis not enough to shew us merely Faces which may be call’d Men’s: Every Face must be a certain Man’s.
Now as a Painter who draws Battels or other Actions of Christians, Turks, Indians, or any distinct and peculiar People, must of necessity draw the several Figures of his Piece in their proper and real Proportions, Gestures, Habits, Arms, or at least with as fair resemblance as possible; so in the same manner that Writer, whoever he be, among us Moderns, who shall venture to bring his Fellow-Moderns into Dialogue, must introduce ’em in their proper Manners, Genius, Behaviour and Humour. And this is the Mirrour or Looking-Glass above describ’d.
For instance, a Dialogue, we will suppose, is fram’d, after the manner of our antient Authors. In it, a poor Philosopher, of a mean figure, accosts one of the powerfullest, wittiest, handsomest, and richest Noblemen of the time, as he is walking leisurely towards the Temple. “You are going then,” says he, (calling him by his plain name) “to pay your Devotions yonder at the Temple?” “I am so.” “But with an Air methinks, as if some Thought perplex’d you.” “What is there in the Case which shou’d perplex one?” “The Thought perhaps of your Petitions, and the Consideration what Vows you had best offer to the Deity.” “Is that so difficult? Can any one be so foolish as to ask of Heaven what is not for his Good?” “Not, if he understands what his Good is.” “Who can mistake it, if he has common Sense, and knows the difference between Prosperity and Adversity?” “’Tis Prosperity therefore you wou’d pray for.” “Undoubtedly.” “For instance, that absolute Sovereign, who commands all things by virtue of his immense Treasures, and governs by his sole Will and Pleasure, him you think prosperous, and his State happy.”
Whilst I am copying this, (for ’tis no more indeed than a borrow’d Sketch from one of those Originals before-mention’d) I see a thousand Ridicules arising from the Manner, the Circumstances and Action it-self, compar’d with modern Breeding and Civility.—Let us therefore mend the matter, if possible, and introduce the same Philosopher, addressing himself in a more obsequious manner, to his Grace, his Excellency, or his Honour; without failing in the least tittle of the Ceremonial. Or let us put the Case more favourably still for our Man of Letters. Let us suppose him to be incognito, without the least appearance of a Character, which in our Age is so little recommending. Let his Garb and Action be of the more modish sort, in order to introduce him better, and gain him Audience. And with these Advantages and Precautions, imagine still in what manner he must accost this Pageant of State, if at any time he finds him at leisure, walking in the Fields alone, and without his Equipage. Consider how many Bows, and simpering Faces! how many Preludes, Excuses, Compliments!—Now put Compliments, put Ceremony into a Dialogue, and see what will be the Effect!
This is the plain Dilemma against that antient manner of Writing, which we can neither well imitate, nor translate; whatever Pleasure or Profit we may find in reading those Originals. For what shall we do in such a Circumstance? What if the Fancy takes us, and we resolve to try the Experiment in modern Subjects? See the Consequence!—If we avoid Ceremony, we are unnatural: if we use it, and appear as we naturally are, as we salute, and meet, and treat one another, we hate the Sight.—What’s this but hating our own Faces? Is it the Painter’s Fault? Shou’d he paint falsly, or affectedly; mix Modern with Antient, join Shapes preposterously, and betray his Art? If not; what Medium is there? What remains for him, but to throw away the Pencil?—No more designing after the Life: no more Mirrour-Writing, or personal Representation of any kind whatever.
THUS Dialogue is at an end. The Antients cou’d see their own Faces; but we can’t. And why this? Why, but because we have less Beauty: for so our Looking-Glass can inform us.—Ugly Instrument! And for this reason to be hated.—Our Commerce and manner of Conversation, which we think the politest imaginable, is such, it seems, as we our-selves can’t endure to see represented to the Life. ’Tis here, as in our real Portraitures, particularly those at full Length, where the poor Pencil-man is put to a thousand shifts, whilst he strives to dress us in affected Habits, such as we never wore; because shou’d he paint us in those we really wear, they wou’d of necessity make the Piece to be so much more ridiculous, as it was more natural, and resembling.
Thus much for Antiquity, and those Rules of Art, those Philosophical Sea-Cards, by which the adventurous Genius’s of the Times were wont to steer their Courses, and govern their impetuous Muse. These were the Chartae of our Roman Master-Poet, and these the Pieces of Art, theMirrours, the Exemplars he bids us place before our Eyes.
* Thumb your Greek patterns by night and by day.
And thus Poetry and the Writer’s Art, as in many respects it resembles the Statuary’s and the Painter’s, so in this more particularly, that it has its original Draughts and Models for Study and Practice; not for Ostentation, to be shown abroad, or copy’d for publick view. These are the antient Busts; the Trunks of Statues; the Pieces of Anatomy; the masterly rough Drawings which are kept within; as the secret Learning, the Mystery, and fundamental Knowledg of the Art. There is this essential difference however between the Artists of each kind; that they who design merely after Bodys, and form the Graces of this sort, can never with all their Accuracy, or Correctness of Design, be able to reform themselves, or grow a jot more shapely in their Persons. But for those Artists who copy from another Life, who study the Graces and Perfections of Minds, and are real Masters of those Rules which constitute this latter Science; ’tis impossible they shou’d fail of being themselves improv’d, and amended in their better Part.
I must confess there is hardly any where to be found a more insipid Race of Mortals, than those whom we Moderns are contented to call Poets, for having attain’d the chiming Faculty of a Language, with an injudicious random use of Wit and Fancy. But for the Man, who truly and in a just sense deserves the Name of Poet, and who as a real Master, or Architect in the kind, can describe both Men and Manners, and give to an Action its just Body and Proportions; he will be found, if I mistake not, a very different Creature. Such a Poet is indeed a second Maker; a just Prometheus, under Jove. Like that Sovereign Artist or universal Plastick Nature, he forms a Whole, coherent and proportion’d in it-self, with due Subjection and Subordinacy of constituent Parts. He notes the Boundarys of the Passions, and knows their exact Tones and Measures; by which he justly represents them, marks the Sublime of Sentiments and Action, and distinguishes the Beautiful from the Deform’d, the Amiable from the Odious. The moral Artist, who can thus imitate the Creator, and is thus knowing in the inward Form and Structure of his Fellow-Creature, will hardly, I presume, be found unknowing in Himself, or at a loss in those Numbers which make the Harmony of a Mind. For Knavery is mere Dissonance and Disproportion. And tho Villains may have strong Tones and natural Capacitys of Action; ’tis impossible that * true Judgment and Ingenuity shou’d reside, where Harmony and Honesty have no being.
BUT having enter’d thus seriously into the Concerns of Authors, and shewn their chief Foundation and Strength, their preparatory Discipline, and qualifying Method of Self-Examination; ’tis fit, ere we disclose this Mystery any further, we shou’d consider the Advantages or Disadvantages our Authors may possibly meet with, from abroad: and how far their Genius may be depress’d or rais’d by any external Causes, arising from the Humour or Judgment of the World.
Whatever it be which influences in this respect, must proceed either from the Grandees and Men in Power, the Criticks and Men of Art, or the People themselves, the common Audience, and mere Vulgar. We shall begin therefore with the Grandees, and pretended Masters of the World: taking the liberty, in favour of Authors, to bestow some Advice also on these high Persons; if possibly they are dispos’d to receive it in such a familiar way as this.
Sect. 1.SECTION I
AS usual as it is with Mankind to act absolutely by Will and Pleasure, without regard to Counsel, or the rigid Method of Rule and Precept; it must be acknowledg’d nevertheless, that the good and laudable Custom of asking Advice, is still upheld, and kept in fashion, as a matter of fair Repute, and honourable Appearance: Insomuch that even Monarchs, and absolute Princes themselves, disdain not, we see, to make profession of the Practice.
’Tis, I presume, on this account, that the Royal Persons are pleas’d, on publick Occasions, to make use of the noted Style of WE and US. Not that they are suppos’d to have any Converse with Themselves, as being endow’d with the Privilege of becoming Plural, and enlarging their Capacity, in the manner above describ’d. Single and absolute Persons in Government, I’m sensible, can hardly be consider’d as any other than single and absolute in Morals. They have no Inmate-Controuler to cavil with ’em, or dispute their Pleasure. Nor have they, from any Practice abroad, been able at any time to learn the way of being free and familiar with themselves, at home.Inclination and Will in such as these, admit as little Restraint or Check in private Meditation as in publick Company. The World, which serves as a Tutor to Persons of an inferior rank, is submissive to these Royal Pupils; who from their earliest days are us’d to see even their Instructors bend before ’em, and hear every thing applauded which they themselves perform.
For fear therefore, lest their Humour merely, or the Caprice of some Favourite, shou’d be presum’d to influence ’em, when they come to years of princely Discretion, and are advanc’d to the Helm of Government; it has been esteem’d a necessary Decency to summon certain Advisers by Profession, to assist as Attendants to the single Person, and be join’d with him in his written Edicts, Proclamations, Letters-Patent, and other Instruments of Regal Power. For this use, Privy-Counsellors have been erected; who being Persons of considerable Figure and wise Aspect, cannot be suppos’d to stand as Statues or mere Cyphers in the Government, and leave the Royal Acts erroneously and falsly describ’d to us in the Plural Number; when, at the bottom, a single Will or Fancy was the sole Spring and Motive.
Foreign Princes indeed have most of ’em that unhappy Prerogative of acting unadvisedly and wilfully in their national Affairs: But ’tis known to be far otherwise with the legal and just Princes of our Island. They are surrounded with the best of Counsellors, the Laws. They administer Civil Affairs by Legal Officers, who have the Direction of their Publick Will and Conscience: and they annually receive Advice and Aid, in the most effectual manner, from their good People. To this wise Genius of our Constitution we may be justly said to owe our wisest and best Princes; whose High Birth or Royal Education cou’d not alone be suppos’d to have given ’em that happy Turn: since by experience we find, that those very Princes, from whose Conduct the World abroad, as well as We at home, have reap’d the greatest Advantages, were such as had the most controverted Titles; and in their youth had stood in the remoter Prospects of Regal Power, and liv’d the nearest to a private Life.
Other Princes we have had, who tho difficult perhaps in receiving Counsel, have been eminent in the Practice of applying it to others. They have listed themselves Advisers in form; and by publishing their admonitory Works, have added to the number of those, whom in this Treatise we have presum’d to criticize. But our Criticism being withal an Apology for Authors, and a Defense of the literate Tribe; it cannot be thought amiss in us, to join the Royal with the Plebeian Penmen, in this common Cause.
’Twou’d be a hard Case indeed, shou’d the Princes of our Nation refuse to countenance the industrious Race of Authors; since their Royal Ancestors, and Predecessors, have had such Honour deriv’d to ’em from this Profession. ’Tis to this they owe that bright Jewel of their Crown, purchas’d by a warlike Prince; who having assum’d the Author, and essay’d his Strength in the polemick Writings of the School-Divines, thought it an Honour on this account to retain the Title of Defender of the Faith.
Another Prince, of a more pacifick Nature and fluent Thought, submitting Arms and martial Discipline to the Gown; and confiding in his princely Science and profound Learning, made his Style and Speech the Nerve and Sinew of his Government. He gave us his Works full of wise Exhortation and Advice to his Royal Son, as well as of Instruction to his good People; who cou’d not without admiration observe their Author-Sovereign, thus studious and contemplative in their behalf. ’Twas then, one might have seen our Nation growing young and docile, with that Simplicity of Heart, which qualify’d ’em to profit like a Scholar-People under their Royal Preceptor. For with abundant Eloquence he graciously gave Lessons to his Parliament, tutor’d his Ministers, and edify’d the greatest Churchmen and Divines themselves; by whose Suffrage he obtain’d the highest Appellations which cou’d be merited by the acutest Wit, and truest Understanding. From hence the British Nations were taught to own in common a Solomon for their joint Sovereign, the Founder of their late compleated Union. Nor can it be doubted that the pious Treatise of Self-Discourse ascrib’d to the succeeding Monarch, contributed in a great measure to his glorious and never-fading Titles of Saint, and Martyr.
However it be, I wou’d not willingly take upon me to recommend this Author-Character to our future Princes. Whatever Crowns or Laurels their renown’d Predecessors may have gather’d in this Field of Honour; I shou’d think that for the future, the speculative Province might more properly be committed to private Heads. ’Twou’d be a sufficient Encouragement to the learned World, and a sure Earnest of the Increase and Flourishing of Letters in our Nation, if its Sovereigns wou’d be contented to be the Patrons of Wit, and vouchsafe to look graciously on the ingenious Pupils of Art. Or were it the Custom of their Prime-Ministers, to have any such regard; it wou’d of it-self be sufficient to change the Face of Affairs. A small degree of Favour wou’d insure the Fortunes of a distress’d and ruinous Tribe, whose forlorn Condition has help’d to draw Disgrace upon Arts and Sciences, and kept them far off from that Politeness and Beauty, in which they wou’d soon appear, if the aspiring Genius of our Nation were forwarded by the least Care or Culture.
There shou’d not, one wou’d think, be any need of Courtship or Persuasion to engage our Grandees in the Patronage of Arts and Letters. For in our Nation, upon the foot Things stand, and as they are likely to continue; ’tis not difficult to foresee that Improvements will be made in every Art and Science. The Muses will have their Turn; and with or without their Maecenas’s will grow in Credit and Esteem; as they arrive to greater Perfection, and excel in every kind. There will arise such Spirits as wou’d have credited their Court-Patrons, had they found any so wise as to have fought ’em out betimes, and contributed to their rising Greatness.
’Tis scarce a quarter of an Age since such a happy Balance of Power was settled between our Prince and People, as has firmly secur’d our hitherto precarious Libertys, and remov’d from us the Fear of civil Commotions, Wars and Violence, either on account of Religion and Worship, the Property of the Subject, or the contending Titles of the Crown. But as the greatest Advantages of this World are not to be bought at easy Prices; we are still at this moment expending both our Blood and Treasure, to secure to our-selves this inestimable Purchase of our Free Government and National Constitution. And as happy as we are in this Establishment at home; we are still held in a perpetual Alarm by the Aspect of Affairs abroad, and by the Terror of that Power, which ere Mankind had well recover’d the Misery of those barbarous Ages consequent to the Roman Yoke, has again threaten’d the World with a Universal Monarchy, and a new Abyss of Ignorance and Superstition.
The British Muses, in this Dinn of Arms, may well lie abject and obscure; especially being as yet in their mere Infant-State. They have hitherto scarce arriv’d to any-thing of Shapeliness or Person. They lisp as in their Cradles: and their stammering Tongues, which nothing besides their Youth and Rawness can excuse, have hitherto spoken in wretched Pun and Quibble. Our DramatickShakespear, our Fletcher, Johnson, and our EpickMilton preserve this Style. And even a latter Race, scarce free of this Infirmity, and aiming at a false Sublime, with crouded Simile, and mix’d Metaphor, (the Hobby-Horse, and Rattle of the Muses) entertain our raw Fancy, and unpractis’d Ear; which has not as yet had leisure to form it-self, and become * truly musical.
But those reverend Bards, rude as they were, according to their Time and Age, have provided us however with the richest Ore. To their eternal Honour they have withal been the first of Euro-peans, who since the GothickModel of Poetry, attempted to throw off the horrid Discord of jingling Rhyme. They have asserted antient Poetick Liberty, and have happily broken the Ice for those who are to follow ’em; and who treading in their Footsteps, may at leisure polish our Language, lead our Ear to finer Pleasure, and find out the true Rhythmus, and harmonious Numbers, which alone can satisfy a just Judgment, and Muse-like Apprehension.
’Tis evident, our natural Genius shines above that airy neighbouring Nation; of whom, however, it must be confess’d, that with truer Pains and Industry, they have sought Politeness, and study’d to give the Muses their due Body and Proportion, as well as the natural Ornaments of Correctness, Chastity, and Grace of Style. From the plain Model of the Antients, they have rais’d a noble *Satirist. In the Epick Kind their Attempts have been less successful. In the Dramatick they have been so happy, as to raise their Stage to as great Perfection, as the Genius of their Nation will permit. But the high Spirit of Tragedy can ill subsist where the Spirit of Liberty is wanting. The Genius of this Poetry consists in the lively Representation of the Disorders and Misery of the Great; to the end that the People and those of a lower Condition may be taught the better to content themselves with Privacy, enjoy their safer State, and prize the Equality and Justice of their GuardianLaws. If this be found agreeable to the just Tragick Model, which the Antients have deliver’d to us; ’twill easily be conceiv’d how little such a Model is proportion’d to the Capacity or Taste of those, who in a long Series of Degrees, from the lowest Peasant to the high Slave of Royal Blood, are taught to idolize the next in Power above ’em, and think nothing so adorable as that unlimited Greatness, and tyrannick Power, which is rais’d at their own Expence, and exercis’d over themselves.
’Tis easy, on the other hand, to apprehend the Advantages of our Britain in this particular; and what effect its establish’d Liberty will produce in every thing which relates to Art, when Peace returns to us on these happy Conditions. ’Twas the Fate of Rome to have scarce an intermediate Age, or single Period of Time, between the Rise of Arts and Fall of Liberty. No sooner had that Nation begun to lose the Roughness and Barbarity of their Manners, and learn of Greece to form their Heroes, their Orators and Poets on a right Model, than by their unjust Attempt upon the Liberty of the World, they justly lost their own. With their Liberty they lost not only their Force of Eloquence, but even their Style and Language it-self. The Poets who afterwards arose among them, were mere unnatural and forc’d Plants. Their Two most accomplish’d, who came last, and clos’d the Scene, were plainly such as had seen the Days of Liberty, and felt the sad Effects of its Departure. Nor had these been ever brought in play, otherwise than thro’ the Friendship of the fam’d Maecenas, who turn’d a * Prince naturally cruel and barbarous to the Love and Courtship of the Muses. These Tutoresses form’d in their Royal Pupil a new Nature. They taught him how to charm Mankind. They were more to him than his Arms or military Virtue; and, more than Fortune her-self, assisted him in his Greatness, and made his usurp’d Dominion so inchanting to the World, that it cou’d see without regret its Chains of Bondage firmly riveted. The corrupting Sweets of such a poisonous Government were not indeed long-liv’d. The Bitter soon succeeded. And, in the issue, the World was forc’d to bear with patience those natural and genuine Tyrants, who succeeded to this specious Machine of Arbitrary and Universal Power.
And now that I am fall’n unawares into such profound Reflections on the Periods of Government, and the Flourishing and Decay of Liberty and Letters; I can’t be contented to consider merely of the Inchantment which wrought so powerfully upon Mankind, when first this Universal Monarchy was establish’d. I must wonder still more, when I consider how after the Extinction of this Caesarean and Claudian Family, and a short Interval of Princes rais’d and destroy’d with much Disorder and publick Ruin, the Romans shou’d regain their perishing Dominion, and retrieve their sinking State, by an after-Race of wise and able Princes successively adopted, and taken from a private State to rule the Empire of the World. They were Men who not only possess’d the military Virtues, and supported that sort of Discipline in the highest degree; but as they sought the Interest of the World, they did what was in their power to restore Liberty, and raise again the perishing Arts, and decay’d Virtue of Mankind. But the Season was now past! The fatal Form of Government was become too natural: And the World, which had bent under it, and was become slavish and dependent, had neither Power nor Will to help it-self. The only Deliverance it cou’d expect, was from the merciless hands of the Barbarians, and a total Dissolution of that enormous Empire and despotick Power, which the best Hands cou’d not preserve from being destructive to human Nature. For even Barbarity and Gothicism were already enter’d into Arts, ere the Savages had made any Impression on the Empire. All the advantage which a fortuitous and almost miraculous Succession of good Princes cou’d procure their highly favour’d Arts and Sciences, was no more than to preserve during their own time those * perishing Remains, which had for a-while with difficulty subsisted, after the Decline of Liberty. Not a Statue, not a Medal, not a tolerable Piece of Architecture cou’d shew it-self afterwards. Philosophy, Wit and Learning, in which some of those good Princes had themselves been so renown’d, fell with them: and Ignorance and Darkness overspread the World, and fitted it for the Chaos and Ruin which ensu’d.
WE ARE now in an Age when Liberty is once again in its Ascendent. And we are our-selves the happy Nation, who not only enjoy it at home, but by our Greatness and Power give Life and Vigour to it abroad; and are the Head and Chief of the EuropeanLeague, founded on this Common Cause. Nor can it, I presume, be justly fear’d that we shou’d lose this noble Ardour, or faint under the glorious Toil; tho, like antient Greece, we shou’d for succeeding Ages be contending with a foreign Power, and endeavouring to reduce the Exorbitancy of a Grand Monarch. ’Tis with us at present, as with the Roman People in those * early Days, when they wanted only repose from Arms to apply themselves to the Improvement of Arts and Studys. We shou’d, in this case, need no ambitious Monarch to be allur’d, by hope of Fame or secret views of Power, to give Pensions abroad, as well as at home, and purchase Flattery from every Profession and Science. We shou’d find a better Fund within ourselves; and might, without such Assistance, be able to excel, by our own Virtue and Emulation.
Well it wou’d be indeed, and much to the Honour of our Nobles and Princes, wou’d they freely help in this Affair; and by a judicious Application of their Bounty, facilitate this happy Birth, of which I have ventur’d to speak in a prophetick Style. ’Twou’d be of no small advantage to ’em during their Life; and wou’d more than all their other Labours procure ’em an immortal Memory. For they must remember that their Fame is in the hands of Penmen; and that the greatest Actions lose their Force, and perish in the custody of unable and mean Writers.
Let a Nation remain ever so rude or barbarous, it must have its Poets, Rhapsoders, Historiographers, Antiquarys of some kind or other; whose business it will be to recount its remarkable Transactions, and record the Atchievements of its Civil and Military Heroes. And tho the Military Kind may happen to be the furthest remov’d from any acquaintance with Letters, or the Muses; they are yet, in reality, the most interested in the Cause and Party of these Remembrancers. The greatest share of Fame and Admiration falls naturally on the arm’d Worthys. The Great in Council are second in the Muses Favour. But if worthy poetick Genius’s are not found, nor able Penmen rais’d, to rehearse the Lives, and celebrate the high Actions of great Men, they must be traduc’d by such Recorders as Chance presents. We have few modern Heroes, who like Xenophon or Caesar can write their own Commentarys. And the raw Memoir-Writings and unform’d Pieces of modern Statesmen, full of their interested and private Views, will in another Age be of little service to support their Memory or Name; since already the World begins to sicken with the Kind. ’Tis the learn’d, the able, and disinterested Historian, who takes place at last. And when the signal Poet, or Herald of Fame is once heard, the inferior Trumpets sink in Silence and Oblivion.
But supposing it were possible for the Hero, or Statesman, to be absolutely unconcern’d for his Memory, or what came after him; yet for the present merely, and during his own time, it must be of importance to him to stand fair with the Men of Letters and Ingenuity, and to have the Character and Repute of being favourable to their Art. Be the illustrious Person ever so high or awful in his Station; he must have Descriptions made of him, in Verse, and Prose, under feign’d, or real Appellations. If he be omitted in sound Ode, or lofty Epick; he must be sung at least in Doggrel and plain Ballad. The People will needs have his Effigies; tho they see his Person ever so rarely: And if he refuses to sit to the good Painter, there are others who, to oblige the Publick, will take the Design in hand. We shall take up with what presents; and rather than be without the illustrious Physiognomy of our great Man, shall be contented to see him portraitur’d by the Artist who serves to illustrate Prodigys in Fairs, and adorn heroick Sign-Posts. The ill Paint of this kind cannot, it’s true, disgrace his Excellency; whose Privilege it is, in common with the Royal Issue, to be rais’d to this degree of Honour, and to invite the Passenger or Traveller by his signal Representative. ’Tis suppos’d in this Case, that there are better Pictures current of the Hero; and that such as these, are no true or favourable Representations. But, in another sort of Limning, there is great danger lest the Hand shou’d disgrace the Subject. Vile Encomiums, and wretched Panegyricks are the worst of Satirs: And when sordid and low Genius’s make their Court successfully in one way, the generous and able are aptest to revenge it in another.
ALL THINGS consider’d, as to the Interest of our Potentates and Grandees, they appear to have only this Choice left ’em; either wholly, if possible, to suppress Letters; or give a helping hand towards their Support. Wherever the Author-Practice and Liberty of the Pen has in the least prevail’d, the Governors of the State must be either considerable Gainers, or Sufferers by its means. So that ’twou’d become them either, by a right Turkish Policy, to strike directly at the Profession, and overthrow the very Art and Mystery it-self, or with Alacrity to support and encourage it, in the right manner, by a generous and impartial regard to Merit. To act narrowly, or by halves; or with indifference and coolness; or fantastically, and by humour merely; will scarce be found to turn to their account. They must do Justice; that Justice may be done them, in return. ’Twill be in vain for our Alexanders to give orders that none besides a Lysippus shou’d make their Statue, nor any besides an Apelles shou’d draw their Picture. Insolent Intruders will do themselves the honour to practice on the Features of these Heroes. And a vile Chaerilus, after all, shall, with their own Consent perhaps, supply the room of a deserving and noble Artist.
In a Government where the People are Sharers in Power, but no Distributers or Dispensers of Rewards, they expect it of their Princes and Great Men, that they shou’d supply the generous Part; and bestow Honour and Advantages on those from whom the Nation it-self may receive Honour and Advantage. ’Tis expected that they who are high and eminent in the State, shou’d not only provide for its necessary Safety and Subsistence, but omit nothing which may contribute to its Dignity and Honour. The Arts and Sciences must not be left Patron-less. The Publick it-self will join with the good Wits and Judges, in the resentment of such a Neglect. ’Tis no small advantage, even in an absolute Government, for a Ministry to have Wit on their side, and engage the Men of Merit in this kind to be their Well-wishers and Friends. And in those States where ambitious Leaders often contend for the supreme Authority, ’tis a considerable advantage to the ill Cause of such Pretenders, when they can obtain a Name and Interest with the Men of Letters. The good Emperor Trajan, tho himself no mighty Scholar, had his due as well as an Augustus; and was as highly celebrated for his Munificence, and just Encouragement of every Art and Virtue. And Caesar, who cou’d write so well himself, and maintain’d his Cause by Wit as well as Arms, knew experimentally what it was to have even a Catullus his Enemy: and tho lash’d so often in his Lampoons, continu’d to forgive and court him. The Traitor knew the Importance of this Mildness. May none who have the same Designs, understand so well the advantages of such a Conduct! I wou’d have requir’d only this one Defect in Caesar’s Generosity, to have been secure of his never rising to Greatness, or enslaving his native Country. Let him have shewn a Ruggedness and Austerity towards free Genius’s, or a Neglect or Contempt towards Men of Wit; let him have trusted to his Arms, and declar’d against Arts andLetters; and he wou’d have prov’d a second Marius, or a Catiline of meaner Fame, and Character.
’Tis, I know, the Imagination of some who are call’d Great Men, that in regard of their high Stations they may be esteem’d to pay a sufficient Tribute to Letters, and discharge themselves as to their own part in particular; if they chuse indifferently any Subject for their Bounty, and are pleas’d to confer their Favour either on some one Pretender to Art, or promiscuously to such of the Tribe of Writers, whose chief Ability has lain in making their court well, and obtaining to be introduc’d to their Acquaintance. This they think sufficient to instal them Patrons of Wit, and Masters of the literate Order. But this Method will of any other the least serve their Interest or Design. The ill placing of Rewards is a double Injury to Merit; and in every Cause or Interest, passes for worse than mere Indifference or Neutrality. There can be no Excuse for making an ill Choice. Merit in every kind is easily discover’d, when sought. The Publick it-self fails not to give sufficient indication; and points out those Genius’s who want only Countenance and Encouragement to become considerable. An ingenious Man never starves unknown: and Great Men must wink hard, or ’twou’d be impossible for ’em to miss such advantageous Opportunitys of shewing their Generosity, and acquiring the universal Esteem, Acknowledgments, and good Wishes of the ingenious and learned part of Mankind.
Sect. 2.SECTION II
WHAT Judgment therefore we are to form, concerning the Influence of our Grandees in matters of Art, and Letters, will easily be gather’d from the Reflections already made. It may appear from the very Freedom we have taken in censuring these Men of Power, what little reason Authors have to plead ’em as their Excuse for any Failure in the Improvement of their Art and Talent. For in a free Country, such as ours, there is not any Order or Rank of Men, more free than that of Writers: who if they have real Ability and Merit, can fully right themselves when injur’d; and are ready furnish’d with Means, sufficient to make themselves consider’d by the Men in highest Power.
Nor shou’d I suspect the Genius of our Writers, or charge ’em with Meanness and Insufficiency on the account of this Low-spiritedness which they discover; were it not for another sort of Fear, by which they more plainly betray themselves, and seem conscious of their own Defect. The Criticks, it seems, are formidable to ’em. The Criticks are the dreadful Specters, the Giants, the Enchanters, who traverse and disturb ’em in their Works. These are the Persecutors, for whose sake they are ready to hide their heads; begging rescue and protection of all good People; and flying in particular to the Great, by whose Favour they hope to be defended from this merciless examining Race. “For what can be more cruel, than to be forc’d to submit to the rigorous Laws of Wit, and write under such severe Judges as are deaf to all Courtship, and can be wrought upon by no Insinuation or Flattery to pass by Faults, and pardon any Transgression of Art?”
To judg indeed of the Circumstances of a modern Author, by the Pattern of his *Prefaces, Dedications, and Introductions, one wou’d think that at the moment when a Piece of his was in hand, some Conjuration was forming against him, some diabolical Powers drawing together to blast his Work, and cross his generous Design. He therefore rouzes his Indignation, hardens his Forehead, and with many furious Defiances and Avant-Satans! enters on his Business; not with the least regard to what may justly be objected to him in a way of Criticism; but with an absolute Contempt of the Manner and Art it-self.
Avaunt, ye uninitiated crowd,2 was in its time, no doubt, a generous Defiance. The Avant! was natural and proper in its place; especially where Religion and Virtue were the Poet’s Theme. But with our Moderns the Case is generally the very Reverse. And accordingly the Defiance or Avant shou’d run much after this manner: “As for you vulgar Souls, mere Naturals, who know no Art, were never admitted into the Temple of Wisdom, nor ever visited the Sanctuarys of Wit or Learning, gather your-selves together from all Parts, and hearken to the Song or Tale I am about to utter. But for you Men of Science and Understanding, who have Ears and Judgment, and can weigh Sense, scan Syllables, and measure Sounds; You who by a certain Art distinguish false Thought from true, Correctness from Rudeness, and Bombast and Chaos from Order and the Sublime; Away hence! or stand aloof! whilst I practise upon the Easiness of those mean Capacitys and Apprehensions, who make the most numerous Audience, and are the only competent Judges of my Labours.”
’Tis strange to see how differently the Vanity of Mankind runs, in different Times and Seasons. ’Tis at present the Boast of almost every Enterprizer in the Muses Art, “That by his Genius alone, and a natural Rapidity of Style and Thought, he is able to carry all before him; that he plays with his Business, does things in passing, at a venture, and in the quickest period of Time.” In the days of AttickElegance, as Works were then truly of another Form and Turn, so Workmen were of another Humour, and had their Vanity of a quite contrary kind. They became rather affected in endeavouring to discover the pains they had taken to be correct. They were glad to insinuate how laboriously, and with what expence of Time, they had brought the smallest Work of theirs (as perhaps a single Ode or Satir, an Oration or Panegyrick) to its perfection. When they had so polish’d their Piece, and render’d it so natural and easy, that it seem’d only a lucky Flight, a Hit of Thought, or flowing Vein of Humour; they were then chiefly concern’d lest it shou’d in reality pass for such, and their Artifice remain undiscover’d. They were willing it shou’d be known how serious their Play was; and how elaborate their Freedom and Facility: that they might say as the agreeable and polite Poet, glancing on himself,
* He will seem in sport, yet really be toiling. . . .
† So that any man may hope the same success, toil greatly, and work in vain at the same task,—so great is the might of the sequence and connection in writing.
Such Accuracy of Workmanship requires a Critick’s Eye. ’Tis lost upon a vulgar Judgment. Nothing grieves a real Artist more than that indifference of the Publick, which suffers Work to pass uncriticiz’d. Nothing, on the other side, rejoices him more than the nice View and Inspection of the accurate Examiner and Judg of Work. ’Tis the mean Genius, the slovenly Performer, who knowing nothing of true Workmanship, endeavours by the best outward Gloss and dazling Shew, to turn the Eye from a direct and steddy Survey of his Piece.
What is there which an expert Musician more earnestly desires, than to perform his part in the presence of those who are knowing in his Art? ’Tis to the Ear alone he applies himself; the critical, the nice Ear. Let his Hearers be of what Character they please: Be they naturally austere, morose, or rigid; no matter, so they are Criticks, able to censure, remark, and sound every Accord and Symphony. What is there mortifies the good Painter more, than when amidst his admiring Spectators there is not one present, who has been us’d to compare the Hands of different Masters, or has an Eye to distinguish the Advantages or Defects of every Style? Thro’ all the inferior Orders of Mechanicks, the Rule is found to hold the same. In every Science, every Art, the real Masters, or Proficients, rejoice in nothing more, than in the thorow Search and Examination of their Performances, by all the Rules of Art and nicest Criticism. Why therefore (in the Muses name!) is it not the same with our Pretenders to the Writing Art, our Poets, and Prose-Authors in every kind? Why in this Profession are we found such Critick-Haters, and indulg’d in this unlearned Aversion; unless it be taken for granted, that as Wit and Learning stand at present in our Nation, we are still upon the foot of Empiricks and Mountebanks?
From these Considerations, I take upon me absolutely to condemn the fashionable and prevailing Custom of inveighing against Criticks, as the common Enemys, the Pests, and Incendiarys of the Commonwealth of Wit and Letters. I assert, on the contrary, that they are the Props and Pillars of this Building; and that without the Encouragement and Propagation of such a Race, we shou’d remain as GothickArchitects as ever.
* IN THE weaker and more imperfect Societys of Mankind, such as those compos’d of federate Tribes, or mix’d Colonys, scarce settled in their new Seats, it might pass for sufficient Good-fortune, if the People prov’d only so far Masters of Language, as to be able to understand one another, in order to confer about their Wants, and provide for their common Necessitys. Their expos’d and indigent State cou’d not be presum’d to afford ’em either that full Leisure, or easy Disposition which was requisite to raise ’em to any Curiosity of Speculation. They who were neither safe from Violence, nor secure of Plenty, were unlikely to engage in unnecessary Arts. Nor cou’d it be expected they shou’d turn their Attention towards the Numbers of their Language, and the harmonious Sounds which they accidentally emitted. But when, in process of time, the Affairs of the Society were settled on an easy and secure Foundation; when Debates and Discourses on these Subjects of common Interest, and publick Good, were grown familiar; and the Speeches of prime Men, and Leaders, were consider’d, and compar’d together: there wou’d naturally be observ’d not only a more agreeable Measure of Sound, but a happier and more easy Rangement of Thoughts, in one Speaker, than in another.
It may be easily perceiv’d from hence, that the GoddessPersuasion must have been in a manner the Mother of Poetry, Rhetorick, Musick, and the other kindred Arts. For ’tis apparent, that where chief Men, and Leaders had the strongest Interest to persuade; they us’d the highest endeavours to please. So that in such a State or Polity as has been describ’d, not only the best Order of Thought, and Turn of Fancy, but the most soft and inviting Numbers must have been employ’d, to charm the Publick Ear, and to incline the Heart, by the Agreeableness of Expression.
Almost all the antient Masters of this sort were said to have been Musicians. And Tradition, which soon grew fabulous, cou’d not better represent the first Founders or Establishers of these larger Societys, than as real Songsters, who by the power of their Voice and Lyre, cou’d charm the wildest Beasts, and draw the rude Forests and Rocks into the Form of fairest Citys. Nor can it be doubted that the same Artists, who so industriously apply’d themselves to study the Numbers of Speech, must have made proportionable Improvements in the Study of mere Sounds and natural Harmony; which, of it-self, must have considerably contributed towards the softning the rude Manners and harsh Temper of their new People.
If therefore it so happen’d in these free Communitys, made by Consent and voluntary Association, that after a-while, the Power of One, or of a Few, grew prevalent over the rest; if Force took place, and the Affairs of the Society were administer’d without their Concurrence, by the influence of Awe and Terror: it follow’d, that these pathetick Sciences and Arts of Speech were little cultivated, since they were of little use. But where Persuasion was the chief means of guiding the Society; where the People were to be convinc’d before they acted; there Elocution became considerable; there Orators and Bards were heard; and the chief Genius’s and Sages of the Nation betook themselves to the Study of those Arts, by which the People were render’d more treatable in a way of Reason and Understanding, and more subject to be led by Men of Science and Erudition. The more these Artists courted the Publick, the more they instructed it. In such Constitutions as these, ’twas the Interest of the Wise and Able, that the Community shou’d be Judges of Ability and Wisdom. The high Esteem of Ingenuity was what advanc’d the Ingenious to the greatest Honours. And they who rose by Science, and Politeness in the higher Arts, cou’d not fail to promote that Taste and Relish to which they ow’d their personal Distinction and Pre-eminence.
Hence it is that those Arts have been deliver’d to us in such perfection, by free Nations; who from the Nature of their Government, as from a proper Soil, produc’d the generous Plants: whilst the mightiest Bodys and vastest Empires, govern’d by Force, and a despotick Power, cou’d, after Ages of Peace and Leisure, produce no other than what was deform’d and barbarous of the kind.
When the persuasive Arts were grown thus into repute, and the Power of moving the Affections become the Study and Emulation of the forward Wits and aspiring Genius’s of the Times; it wou’d necessarily happen that many Genius’s of equal size and strength, tho less covetous of publick Applause, of Power, or of Influence over Mankind, wou’d content them-selves with the Contemplation merely of these enchanting Arts. These they wou’d the better enjoy, the more they refin’d their Taste, and cultivated their Ear. For to all Musick there must be an Ear proportionable. There must be an Art of Hearing found, ere the performing Arts can have their due effect, or any thing exquisite in the kind be felt or comprehended. The just Performers therefore in each Art wou’d naturally be the most desirous of improving and refining the publick Ear; which they cou’d no way so well effect as by the help of those latter Genius’s, who were in a manner their Interpreters to the People; and who by their Example taught the Publick to discover what was just and excellent in each Performance.
Hence was the Origin of Criticks; who, as Arts and Sciences advanc’d, wou’d necessarily come withal into repute; and being heard with satisfaction in their turn, were at length tempted to become Authors, and appear in publick. These were honour’d with the Name of Sophists: A Character which in early times was highly respected. Nor did the gravest Philosophers, who were Censors of Manners, and Criticks of a higher degree, disdain to exert their Criticism in the inferior Arts; especially in those relating to Speech, and the power of Argument and Persuasion.
When such a Race as this was once risen, ’twas no longer possible to impose on Mankind, by what was specious and pretending. The Publick wou’d be paid in no false Wit, or jingling Eloquence. Where the learnedCriticks were so well receiv’d, and Philosophers themselves disdain’d not to be of the number; there cou’d not fail to arise Criticks of an inferior Order, who wou’d subdivide the several Provinces of this Empire. Etymologists, Philologists, Grammarians,Rhetoricians, and others of considerable note, and eminent in their degree, wou’d every where appear, and vindicate the Truth and Justice of their Art, by revealing the hidden Beautys which lay in the Works of just Performers; and by exposing the weak Sides, false Ornaments, and affected Graces of mere Pretenders. Nothing of what we call Sophistry in Argument, or Bombast in Style; nothing of the effeminate Kind, or of the false Tender, the pointed Witticism, the disjointed Thought, the crouded Simile, or the mix’d Metaphor, cou’d pass even on the common Ear: whilst the Notarys, the Expositors, and Prompters above-mention’d, were every where at hand, and ready to explode the unnatural Manner.
’Tis easy to imagine, that amidst the several Styles and Manners of Discourse or Writing, the easiest attain’d, and earliest practis’d, was the Miraculous, the Pompous, or what we generally call the Sublime.Astonishment is of all other Passions the easiest rais’d in raw and unexperienc’d Mankind. Children in their earliest Infancy are entertain’d in this manner: And the known way of pleasing such as these, is to make ’em wonder, and lead the way for ’em in this Passion, by a feign’d surprize at the miraculous Objects we set before ’em. The best Musick of Barbarians is hideous and astonishing Sounds. And the fine Sights of Indians are enormous Figures, various odd and glaring Colours, and whatever of that sort is amazingly beheld, with a kind of Horror and Consternation.
In Poetry, and study’d Prose, the astonishing Part, or what commonly passes for Sublime, is form’d by the variety of Figures, the multiplicity of * Metaphors, and by quitting as much as possible the natural and easy way of Expression, for that which is most unlike to Humanity, or ordinary Use. This the Prince of Criticks assures us to have been the Manner of the earliest Poets, before the Age of Homer; or till such time as this Father-Poet came into Repute, who depos’d that spurious Race, and gave rise to a legitimate and genuine Kind. He retain’d only what was decent of the figurative or metaphorick Style, introduc’d the natural and simple; and turn’d his thoughts towards the real Beauty of Composition, the Unity of Design, the Truth of Characters, and the just Imitation of Nature in each particular.
The Manner of this Father-Poet was afterwards variously imitated, and divided into several Shares; especially when it came to be copy’d in Dramatick.Tragedy came first; and took what was most solemn and sublime. In this part the Poets succeeded sooner than in Comedy or the facetious Kind; as was natural indeed to suppose, since this was in reality the easiest Manner of the two, and capable of being brought the soonest to perfection. For so the same Prince of Criticks * sufficiently informs us. And ’tis highly worth remarking, what this mighty Genius and Judg of Art declares concerning Tragedy; that whatever Idea might be form’d of the utmost Perfection of this kind of Poem, it cou’d in practice rise no higher than it had been already carry’d in his time; † “Having at length (says he) attain’d its Ends, and being apparently consummate in it-self”: But for Comedy, it seems, ’twas still in hand. It had been already in some manner reduc’d: but, as he plainly insinuates, it lay yet unfinish’d; notwithstanding the witty Labours of an Aristophanes, and the other comick Poets of the first Manner, who had flourish’d a whole Age before this Critick. As perfect as were those Wits in Style and Language; and as fertile in all the Varietys and Turns of Humour; yet the Truth of Characters, the Beauty of Order, and the simple Imitation of Nature, were in a manner wholly unknown to ’em; or thro’ Petulancy, or Debauch of Humour, were, it seems, neglected and set aside. A Menander had not as yet appear’d; who arose soon after, to accomplish the Prophecy of our grand Master of Art, and consummate Philologist.
Comedy * had at this time done little more than what the antient †Parodys had done before it. ’Twas of admirable use to explode the false Sublime of early Poets, and such as in its own Age were on every occasion ready to relapse into that vicious Manner. The good Tragedians themselves cou’d hardly escape its Lashes. The pompous Orators were its never-failing Subjects. Every thing which might be imposing, by a false Gravity or Solemnity, was forc’d to endure the Trial of this Touchstone. Manners and Characters, as well as Speech and Writings, were discuss’d with the greatest freedom. Nothing cou’d be better fitted than this Genius of Wit, to unmask the face of things, and remove those Larvae naturally form’d from the Tragick Manner, and pompous Style, which had preceded:
* (Aeschylus) taught how to use high-flown language and to strut in the buskin. After them (Aeschylus and Thespis) came the Old Comedy.
’Twas not by chance that this Succession happen’d in Greece, after the manner describ’d; but rather thro’ Necessity, and from the Reason and † Nature of Things. For in healthy Bodys, Nature dictates Remedys of her own, and provides for the Cure of what has happen’d amiss in the Growth and Progress of a Constitution. The Affairs of this free People being in the Increase; and their Ability and Judgment every day improving, as Letters and Arts advanc’d; they wou’d of course find in themselves a Strength of Nature, which by the help of good Ferments, and a wholesom opposition of Humours, wou’d correct in one way whatever was excessive, or peccant (as Physicians say) in another. Thus the florid and over-sanguine Humour of the high Style was allay’d by something of a contrary nature. The Comick Genius was apply’d, as a kind of Caustick, to those Exuberances and Fungus’s of the swoln Dialect, and magnificent manner of Speech. But after a-while, even this Remedy it-self was found to turn into a Disease: as Medicines, we know, grow corrosive, when the fouler Matters on which they wrought are sufficiently purg’d, and the Obstructions remov’d.
’Tis a great Error to suppose, as some have done, that the restraining this licentious manner of Wit, by Law, was a Violation of the Liberty of the Athenian State, or an Effect merely of the Power of Foreigners; whom it little concern’d after what manner those Citizens treated one another in their Comedys; or what sort of Wit or Humour they made choice of, for their ordinary Diversions. If upon a Change of Government, as during the Usurpation of the Thirty, or when that Nation was humbled at any time, either by a Philip, an Alexander, or an Antipater, they had been forc’d against their Wills, to enact such Laws as these; ’tis certain they wou’d have soon repeal’d ’em, when those Terrors were remov’d, as they soon were, and the People restor’d to their former Libertys. For notwithstanding what this Nation suffer’d outwardly, by several shocks receiv’d from foreign States; notwithstanding the Dominion and Power they lost abroad, they preserv’d the same Government at home. And how passionately interested they were in what concern’d their Diversions and publick Spectacles; how jealous and full of Emulation in what related to their Poetry, Wit, Musick, and other Arts, in which they excel’d all other Nations; is well known to Persons who have any comprehension of antient Manners, or been the least conversant in History.
Nothing therefore cou’d have been the Cause of these publick Decrees, and of this gradual Reform in the Commonwealth of Wit, beside the real Reform of Taste and Humour in the Commonwealth or Government it-self. Instead of any Abridgment, ’twas in reality an Increase of Liberty, an Enlargement of the Security of Property, and an Advancement of private Ease and personal Safety, to provide against what was injurious to the good Name and Reputation of every Citizen. As this Intelligence in Life and Manners grew greater in that experienc’d People, so the Relish of Wit and Humour wou’d naturally in proportion be more refin’d. Thus Greece in general grew more and more polite; and as it advanc’d in this respect, was more averse to the obscene buffooning manner. The Athenians still went before the rest, and led the way in Elegance of every kind. For even their first Comedy was a Refinement upon some irregular Attempts which had been made in that dramatick way. And the grand * Critick shews us, that in his own time the Phallica, or scurrilous and obscene Farce, prevail’d still, and had the Countenance of the Magistrate, in some Citys of Greece, who were behind the rest in this Reform of Taste and Manners.
But what is yet a more undeniable Evidence of this natural and gradual Refinement of Styles and Manners among the Antients, particularly in what concern’d their Stage, is, that this very Case of Prohibition and Restraint happen’d among the Romans themselves; where no Effects of foreign Power, or of a home Tyranny can be pretended. Their Fescennin, and Atellan way of Wit, was in early days prohibited, and Laws made against it, for the Publick’s sake, and in regard to the Welfare of the Community: such Licentiousness having been found in reality contrary to the just Liberty of the People.
* Men were vexed when bitten by its bloody teeth; the unbitten too were anxious for the common weal; and even a law and penalty were enacted against libelling any one in verse.
In defense of what I have here advanc’d, I cou’d, besides the Authority of grave † Historians and Chronologists, produce the Testimony of one of the wisest, and most serious of antient Authors; whose single Authority wou’d be acknowledg’d to have equal force with that of many concurring Writers. He shews us that this ‡first-form’dComedy and Scheme of ludicrous Wit, was introduc’d upon the neck of theSublime. The familiar airy Muse was privileg’d as a sort of Counter-Pedagogue, against the Pomp and Formality of the more solemn Writers. And what is highly remarkable, our Author shews us, that in Philosophy it-self there happen’d, almost at the very same time, a like Succession of Wit and Humour; when in opposition to the sublime Philosopher, and afterwards to his * grave Disciple and Successor in the Academy, there arose a Comick Philosophy, in the Person of another Master and other Disciples; who personally, as well as in their Writings, were set in direct opposition to the former: not as differing in † Opinions or Maxims, but in their Style and Manner; in the Turn of Humour, and method of Instruction.
’TIS PLEASANT enough to consider how exact the resemblance was between the Lineage of Philosophy and that of Poetry; as deriv’d from their two chief Founders or Patriarchs; in whose Loins the several Races lay as it were inclos’d. For as the*grand poetickSire was, by the consent of all Antiquity, allow’d to have furnish’d Subject both to the Tragick, the Comick, and every other kind of genuine Poetry; so the philosophicalPatriarch, in the same manner, containing within himself the several Genius’s of Philosophy, gave rise to all those several Manners in which that Science was deliver’d.
His Disciple of noble Birth and lofty Genius, who aspir’d to † Poetry and Rhetorick, took the Sublime part, and shone above his other Condisciples. He of mean Birth, and poorest Circumstances, whose Constitution as well as Condition inclin’d him most to the way we call Satirick, took the reproving part, which in his better-humour’d and more agreeable Successor, turn’d into the Comick kind, and went upon the Model of that ‡ antient Comedy which was then prevalent. But another noble Disciple, whose Genius was towards Action, and who prov’d afterwards the greatest Hero of his time took the genteeler Part, and softer Manner. He join’d what was deepest and most solid in Philosophy, with what was easiest and most refin’d in Breeding, and in the Character and Manner of a Gentleman. Nothing cou’d be remoter than his Genius was, from the scholastick, the rhetorical, or mere poetick kind. He was as distant, on one hand, from the sonorous, high, and pompous Strain; as, on the other hand, from the ludicrous, mimical, or satirick.
This * was that natural and simple Genius of Antiquity, comprehended by so few, and so little relish’d by the Vulgar. This was that philosophical Menander of earlier Time, whose Works one may wonder to see preserv’d from the same Fate; since in the darker Ages thro’ which they pass’d, they might probably be alike neglected, on the account of their like Simplicity of Style and Composition.
There is, besides the several Manners of Writing above describ’d, another of considerable Authority and Weight, which had its rise chiefly from the critical Art itself, and from the more accurate Inspection into the Works of preceding Masters. The grand Critick, of whom we have already spoken, was a Chief and Leader in this Order of Pen-men. For tho the Sophists of elder time had treated many Subjects methodically, and in form; yet this Writer was the first who gain’d Repute in the methodick kind. As the Talent of this great Man was more towards polite Learning, and the Arts, than towards the deep and solid parts of Philosophy, it happen’d that in his School there was more care taken of other Sciences, than of Ethicks, Dialect, or Logick; which Provinces were chiefly cultivated by the Successors of the Academy and Porch.
It has been observ’d of this methodick or scholastick Manner, that it naturally befitted an Author, who, tho endow’d with a comprehensive and strong Genius, was not in himself of a refin’d Temper, bless’d by the Graces, or favour’d by any Muse; one who was not of a fruitful Imagination, but rather dry and rigid; yet withal acute and piercing, accurate and distinct. For the chief Nerve and Sinew of this Style consists in the clear Division and Partition of the Subjects. Tho there is nothing exalting in the Manner, ’tis naturally powerful and commanding; and, more than any other, subdues the Mind, and strengthens its Determinations. ’Tis from this Genius that firm Conclusions and steddy Maxims are best form’d: which, if solidly built, and on sure ground, are the shortest and best Guides towards Wisdom and Ability, in every kind; but if defective, or unsound, in the least part, must of necessity lead us to the grossest Absurditys, and stiffest Pedantry and Conceit.
Now tho every other Style and genuine Manner of Composition has its Order and Method, as well as this which, in a peculiar sense, we call the Methodick; yet it is this Manner alone which professes Method, dissects it-self in Parts, and makes its own Anatomy. The Sublime can no way condescend thus, or bear to be suspended in its impetuous Course. The Comick, or derisory Manner, is further still from making shew of Method. ’Tis then, if ever, that it presumes to give it-self this wise Air, when its Design is to expose the Thing it-self, and ridicule the Formality and Sophistry so often shelter’d beneath it. The Simple Manner, which being the strictest Imitation of Nature, shou’d of right be the completest, in the Distribution of its Parts, and Symmetry of its Whole, is yet so far from making any ostentation of Method, that it conceals the Artifice as much as possible: endeavouring only to express the effect of Art, under the appearance of the greatest Ease and Negligence. And even when it assumes the censuring or reproving part, it does it in the most conceal’d and gentle way.
The Authors indeed of our Age are as little capable of receiving, as of giving Advice, in such a way as this: So little is the general Palat form’d, as yet, to a Taste of real Simplicity. As for theSublime, tho it be often the Subject of Criticism; it can never be the Manner, or afford the Means. The Way of Form and Method, the didactive or preceptive Manner, as it has been usually practis’d amongst us, and as our Ears have been long accustom’d, has so little force towards the winning our Attention, that it is apter to tire us, than the Metre of an old Ballad. We no sooner hear the Theme propounded, the Subject divided and subdivided, (with first of the first, and so forth, as Order requires) than instantly we begin a Strife with Nature, who otherwise might surprize us in the soft Fetters of Sleep; to the great Disgrace of the Orator, and Scandal of the Audience. The only Manner left, in which Criticism can have its just Force amongst us, is the antientComick; of which kind were the first Roman Miscellanys, or Satirick Pieces: a sort of original Writing of their own, refin’d afterwards by the best Genius, and politest Poet of that Nation; who, notwithstanding, owns the Manner to have been taken from the Greek Comedy above-mention’d. And if our Home-Wits wou’d refine upon this Pattern, they might perhaps meet with considerable Success.
In effect, we may observe, that in our own Nation, the most successful Criticism, or Method of Refutation, is that which borders most on the manner of the earliest Greek Comedy. The highly-rated * burlesque Poem, written on the Subject of our religious Controversys in the last Age, is a sufficient Token of this kind. And that justly-admir’d Piece of † Comick Wit, given us some time after by an Author of the highest Quality, has furnish’d our best Wits in all their Controversys, even in Religion and Politicks, as well as in the Affairs of Wit and Learning, with the most effectual and entertaining Method of exposing Folly, Pedantry, false Reason, and ill Writing. And without some such tolerated manner of Criticism as this, how grosly we might have been impos’d on, and shou’d continue to be, for the future, by many Pieces of dogmatical Rhetorick, and pedantick Wit, may easily be apprehended by those who know any thing of the State of Letters in our Nation, or are in the least fitted to judg of the Manner of the common Poets, or formal Authors of the Times.
In what Form, or Manner soever, Criticism may appear amongst us, or Criticks chuse to exert their Talent; it can become none besides the grosly superstitious, or ignorant, to be alarm’d at this Spirit. For if it be ill manag’d, and with little Wit; it will be destroy’d by something wittier in the kind: If it be witty it-self, it must of necessity advance Wit.
And thus from the Consideration of antient as well as modern Time, it appears that the Cause and Interest of Criticks is the same with that of Wit, Learning, and good Sense.
Sect. 3.SECTION III
THUS we have survey’d the State of Authors, as they are influenc’d from without; either by the Frowns or Favour of the Great, or by the Applause or Censure of the Criticks. It remains only to consider, how the People, or World, in general, stand affected towards our modern Pen-men; and what occasion these Adventurers may have of Complaint, or Boast, from their Encounter with the Publick.
There is nothing more certain, than that a real Genius, and thorow Artist, in whatever kind, can never, without the greatest unwillingness and shame, be induc’d to act below his Character, and for mere Interest be prevail’d with to prostitute his Art or Science, by performing contrary to its known Rules. Whoever has heard any thing of the Lives of famous Statuarys, Architects, or Painters, will call to mind many Instances of this nature. Or whoever has made any acquaintance with the better sort of Mechanicks, such as are real Lovers of their Art, and Masters in it, must have observ’d their natural Fidelity in this respect. Be they ever so idle, dissolute, or debauch’d; how regardless soever of other Rules; they abhor any Transgression in their Art, and wou’d chuse to lose Customers and starve, rather than by a base Compliance with theWorld, to act contrary to what they call the Justness and Truth of Work.
“Sir,” (says a poor Fellow of this kind, to his rich Customer) “you are mistaken in coming to me, for such a piece of Workmanship. Let who will make it for you, as you fansy; I know it to be wrong. Whatever I have made hitherto, has been true Work. And neither for your sake or any body’s else, shall I put my hand to any other.”
This is Virtue! real Virtue, and Love of Truth; independent of Opinion, and above theWorld. This Disposition transfer’d to the whole of Life, perfects a Character, and makes that Probity and Worth which the Learned are often at such a loss to explain. For is there not a Workmanship and a Truth in Actions? Or is the Workmanship of this kind less becoming, or less worthy our notice; that we shou’d not in this case be as surly at least as the honest Artizan, who has no other Philosophy, than what Nature and his Trade have taught him?
When one considers this Zeal and Honesty of inferiour Artists, one wou’d wonder to see those who pretend to Skill and Science in a higher kind, have so little regard to Truth, and the Perfection of their Art. One wou’d expect it of our Writers, that if they had real Ability, they shou’d draw theWorld to them; and not meanly sute themselves to theWorld, in its weak State. We may justly indeed make allowances for the Simplicity of those early Genius’s of our Nation, who after so many barbarous Ages, when Letters lay yet in their Ruins, made bold Excursions into a vacant Field, to seize the Posts of Honour, and attain the Stations which were yet unpossess’d by the Wits of their own Country. But since the Age is now so far advanc’d; Learning establish’d; the Rules of Writing stated; and the Truth of Art so well apprehended, and every where confess’d and own’d: ’tis strange to see our Writers as unshapen still and monstrous in their Works, as heretofore. There can be nothing more ridiculous than to hear our Poets, in their Prefaces, talk of Art and Structure; whilst in their Pieces they perform as ill as ever, and with as little regard to those profess’d Rules of Art, as the honest Bards, their Predecessors, who had never heard of any such Rules, or at least had never own’d their Justice or Validity.
Had the early Poets of Greece thus complimented their Nation, by complying with its first Relish and Appetite; they had not done their Countrymen such Service, nor themselves such Honour as we find they did, by conforming to Truth and Nature. The generous Spirits who first essay’d the Way, had not always theWorld on their side: but soon drew after ’em the best Judgments; and soon afterwards the World it-self. They forc’d their way into it, and by weight of Merit turn’d its Judgment on their side. They form’d their Audience; polish’d the Age; refin’d the publick Ear, and fram’d it right; that in return they might be rightly and lastingly applauded. Nor were they disappointed in their Hope. The Applause soon came, and was lasting; for it was found. They have Justice done them at this day. They have surviv’d their Nation; and live, tho in a dead Language. The more the Age is enlighten’d, the more they shine. Their Fame must necessarily last as long as Letters; and Posterity will ever own their Merit.
Our modern Authors, on the contrary, are turn’d and model’d (as themselves confess) by the publick Relish, and current Humour of the Times. They regulate themselves by the irregular Fancy of the World; and frankly own they are preposterous and absurd, in order to accommodate themselves to the Genius of the Age. In our Days the Audience makes the Poet; and the Bookseller the Author: with what Profit to the Publick, or what Prospect of lasting Fame and Honour to the Writer, let any one who has Judgment imagine.
But tho our Writers charge their Faults thus freely on thePublick; it will, I doubt, appear from many Instances, that this Practice is mere Imposture: since those Absurditys, which they are aptest to commit, are far from being delightful or entertaining. We are glad to take up with what our Language can afford us; and by a sort of Emulation with other Nations, are forc’d to cry up such Writers of our own, as may best serve us for Comparison. But when we are out of this Spirit, it must be own’d, we are not apt to discover any great Fondness or Admiration of our Authors. Nor have we any, whom by mutual Consent we make to be our Standard. We go to Plays, or to other Shows; and frequent the Theater, as the Booth. We read Epicks and Dramaticks, as we do Satirs and Lampoons. For we must of necessity know what Wit as well as what Scandal is stirring. Read we must; let Writers be ever so indifferent. And this perhaps may be some occasion of the Laziness and Negligence of our Authors; who observing this Need, which our Curiosity brings on us, and making an exact Calculation in the way of Trade, to know justly the Quality and Quantity of the publick Demand, feed us thus from hand to mouth; resolving not to over-stock the Market, or be at the pains of more Correctness or Wit than is absolutely necessary to carry on the Traffick.
Our Satir therefore is scurrilous, buffooning, and without Morals or Instruction, which is the Majesty and Life of this kind of writing. Our Encomium or Panegyrick is as fulsom and displeasing, by its prostitute and abandon’d manner of Praise. The worthy Persons who are the Subjects of it, may well be esteem’d Sufferers by the Manner. And the Publick, whether it will or no, is forc’d to make untoward Reflections, when led to it by such satirizing Panegyrists. For in reality the Nerve and Sinew of modern Panegyrick lies in a dull kind of Satir; which the Author, it’s true, intends shou’d turn to the advantage of his Subject; but which, if I mistake not, will appear to have a very contrary Effect.
The usual Method, which our Authors take, when they wou’d commend either a Brother-Author, a Wit, a Hero, a Philosopher, or a Statesman, is to look abroad, to find within the narrow compass of their Learning, some eminent Names of Persons, who answer’d to these Characters in a former time. These they are sure to lash, as they imagine, with some sharp stroke of Satir. And when they have stripp’d these reverend Personages of all their share of Merit, they think to clothe their Hero with the Spoils. Such is the Sterility of these Encomiasts! They know not how to praise, but by Detraction. If a Fair-One is to be celebrated, Helen must in comparison be deform’d; Venus her-self degraded. That a Modern may be honour’d, some Antient must be sacrific’d. If a Poet is to be extol’d; down with a Homer or a Pindar. If an Orator, or Philosopher; down with Demosthenes, Tully, Plato. If a General of our Army; down with any Hero whatever of Time past. “The Romans knew no Discipline! The Grecians never learnt the Art of War!”
Were there an Art of Writing to be form’d upon the modern Practice; this Method we have describ’d might perhaps be styl’d the Rule of Dispatch, or theHerculeanLaw; by which Encomiasts, with no other Weapon than their single Club, may silence all other Fame, and place their Hero in the vacant Throne of Honour. I wou’d willingly however advise these Celebrators to be a little more moderate in the use of this Club-method. Not that I pretend to ask quarter for the Antients. But for the sake merely of those Moderns, whom our Panegyrists undertake to praise, I wou’d wish ’em to be a little cautious of comparing Characters. There is no need to call up a Publicola, or a Scipio, an Aristides, or a Cato, to serve as Foils. These were Patriots and good Generals in their time, and did their Country honest service. No offence to any who at present do the same. The Fabricius’s, the AEmilius’s, the Cincinnatus’s (poor Men!) may be suffer’d to rest quietly: or if their Ghosts shou’d, by this unlucky kind of Inchantment, be rais’d in Mockery and Contempt; they may perhaps prove troublesom in earnest, and cast such Reflections on our Panegyrists, and their modern Patrons, as may be no-way for the advantage of either. The well-deserving Antients will have always a strong Party among the Wise and Learned of every Age. And the Memory of foreign Worthys, as well as those of our own Nation, will with gratitude be cherish’d by the nobler Spirits of Mankind. The Interest of the Dead is not so disregarded, but that in case of violence offer’d ’em, thro’ partiality to the Living, there are Hands ready prepar’d to make sufficient Reprisals.
’Twas in times when Flattery grew much in fashion, that the Title of Panegyrick was appropriated to such Pieces as contain’d only a profuse and unlimited Praise of some single Person. The antient Panegyricks were no other than merely such Writings, as Authors of every kind recited at the solemn Assemblys of the People. They were the Exercises of the Wits, and Men of Letters, who, as well as the Men of bodily Dexterity, bore their part at the Olympick, and other National and Panegyrick Games.
The British Nation, tho they have nothing of this kind ordain’d or establish’d by their Laws, are yet by Nature wonderfully inclin’d to the same Panegyrick Exercises. At their Fairs, and during the time of publick Festivals, they perform their rude Olympicks, and shew an Activity, and Address, beyond any other modern People whatever. Their Trials of Skill, it’s true, are wholly of the Body, not of the Brain. Nor is it to be wonder’d at, if being left to themselves, and no way assisted by the Laws or Magistrate, their bodily Exercises retain something of the Barbarian Character, or, at least, shew their * Manners to hold more of †Rome than Greece. The Gladiatorian, and other sanguinary Sports, which we allow our People, discover sufficiently our National Taste. And the Baitings and Slaughter of so many sorts of Creatures, tame as well as wild, for Diversion merely, may witness the extraordinary Inclination we have for Amphitheatrical Spectacles.
I know not whether it be from this killing Disposition, remark’d in us, that our Satirists prove such very Slaughter-men; and even our Panegyrick Authors, or Encomiasts, delight so much in the dispatching Method above describ’d: But sure I am, that our *dramatick Poets stand violently affected this way; and delight to make Havock and Destruction of every kind.
’Tis alledg’d indeed by our Stage-Poets, in excuse for vile Ribaldry and other gross Irregularitys, both in the Fable and Language of their Pieces; that their Success, which depends chiefly on the Ladys, is never so fortunate, as when this Havock is made on Virtue and good Sense, and their Pieces are exhibited publickly in this monstrous Form. I know not how they can answer it to the Fair Sex, to speak (as they pretend) experimentally, and with such nice distinction of their Audience. How far this Excuse may serve ’em in relation to common Amours and Love-Adventures, I will not take upon me to pronounce. But I must own, I have often wonder’d to see our fighting Plays become so much the Entertainment of that tender Sex.
They who have no help from Learning to observe the wider Periods or Revolutions of human Kind, the Alterations which happen in Manners, and the Flux and Reflux of Politeness, Wit, and Art; are apt at every turn to make the present Age their Standard, and imagine nothing barbarous or savage, but what is contrary to the Manners of their own Time. The same pretended Judges, had they flourish’d in our Britain at the time when Caesar made his first Descent, wou’d have condemn’d, as a whimsical Critick, the Man who shou’d have made bold to censure our deficiency of Clothing, and laugh at the blue Cheeks and party-colour’d Skins which were then in fashion with our Ancestors. Such must of necessity be the Judgment of those who are only Criticks by fashion. But to a just Naturalist or Humanist, who knows the Creature Man, and judges of his Growth and Improvement in Society, it appears evidently that we British Men were as barbarous and unciviliz’d in respect of the Romans under a Caesar, as the Romans themselves were in respect of the Grecians, when they invaded that Nation under a Mummius.
The noble Wits of a Court-Education, who can go no farther back into Antiquity than their Pedegree will carry ’em, are able however to call to mind the different State of Manners in some few Reigns past, when Chivalry was in such repute. The Ladys were then Spectators not only of feign’d Combats and martial Exercises, but of real Duels and bloody Feats of Arms. They sat as Umpires and Judges of the doughty Frays. These were the Saint-Protectrices, to whom the Champions chiefly paid their Vows, and to whom they recommended themselves by these galante Quarrels, and elegant Decisions of Right and Justice. Nor is this Spirit so entirely lost amongst us, but that even at this hour the Fair Sex inspire us still with the Fancy of like Gallantrys. They are the chief Subject of many such civil Turmoils, and remain still the secret influencing Constellation by which we are engag’d to give and ask that Satisfaction, which is peculiar to the fine Gentlemen of the Age. For thus a certain Galante of our Court express’d the Case very naturally, when being ask’d by his Friends, why one of his establish’d Character for Courage and good Sense, wou’d answer the Challenge of a Coxcomb; he confess’d, “That for his own Sex, he cou’d safely trust their Judgment: But how shou’d he appear at night before the Maids of Honour?”
Such is the different Genius of Nations; and of the same Nation in different Times and Seasons. For so among the Antients, some have been known tender of the * Sex to such a degree, as not to suffer ’em to expose their Modesty, by the View of Masculine Games, or Theatrical Representations of any kind whatever. Others, on the contrary, have introduc’d them into their Amphitheaters, and made ’em Sharers in the cruellest Spectacles.
But let our Authors or Poets complain ever so much of the Genius of our People, ’tis evident, we are not altogether so Barbarous or Gothick as they pretend. We are naturally no ill Soil; and have musical Parts which might be cultivated with great advantage, if these Gentlemen wou’d use the Art of Masters in their Composition. They have power to work upon our better Inclinations, and may know by certain Tokens, that their Audience is dispos’d to receive nobler Subjects, and taste a better Manner, than that which, thro’ indulgence to themselves more than to the World, they are generally pleas’d to make their choice.
Besides some laudable Attempts which have been made with tolerable Success, of late years, towards a just manner of Writing, both in the heroick and familiar Style; we have older Proofs of a right Disposition in our People towards the moral and instructive Way. Our * old dramatick Poet may witness for our good Ear and manly Relish. Notwithstanding his natural Rudeness, his unpolish’d Style, his antiquated Phrase and Wit, his want of Method and Coherence, and his Deficiency in almost all the Graces and Ornaments of this kind of Writings; yet by the Justness of his Moral, the Aptness of many of his Descriptions, and the plain and natural Turn of several of his Characters, he pleases his Audience, and often gains their Ear, without a single Bribe from Luxury or Vice. That † Piece of his, which appears to have most affected English Hearts, and has perhaps been oftnest acted of any which have come upon our Stage, is almost one continu’d Moral; a Series of deep Reflections, drawn from one Mouth, upon the Subject of one single Accident and Calamity, naturally fitted to move Horror and Compassion. It may be properly said of this Play, if I mistake not, that it has only OneCharacter or principal Part. It contains no Adoration or Flattery of the Sex: no ranting at the Gods: no blustring Heroism: nor any thing of that curious mixture of the Fierce and Tender, which makes the hinge of modern Tragedy, and nicely varies it between the Points of Love and Honour.
Upon the whole: since in the two great poetick Stations, the Epick and Dramatick, we may observe the moral Genius so naturally prevalent: since our ‡ most approv’d heroick Poem has neither the Softness of Language, nor the fashionable Turn of Wit; but merely solid Thought, strong Reasoning, noble Passion, and a continu’d Thred of moral Doctrine, Piety, and Virtue to recommend it; we may justly infer, that it is not so much the publick Ear, as the ill Hand and vitious Manner of our Poets, which need redress.
AND thus, at last, we are return’d to our old Article of Advice; that main Preliminary of Self-study and inward Converse, which we have found so much wanting in the Authors of our Time. They shou’d add the Wisdom of the Heart to the Task and Exercise of the Brain, in order to bring Proportion and Beauty into their Works. That their Composition and Vein of Writing may be natural and free, they shou’d settle matters, in the first place, with themselves. And having gain’d a Mastery here; they may easily, with the help of their Genius, and a right use of Art, command their Audience, and establish a good Taste.
’Tis on Themselves, that all depends. We have consider’d their other Subjects of Excuse. We have acquitted the Great Men, their presumptive Patrons; whom we have left to their own Discretion. We have prov’d the Criticks not only an inoffensive, but highly useful Race. And for the Audience, we have found it not so bad as might perhaps at first be apprehended.
It remains that we pass Sentence on our Authors; after having precluded ’em their last Refuge. Nor do we condemn ’em on their want of Wit or Fancy; but of Judgment and Correctness; which can only be attain’d by thorow Diligence, Study, and impartial Censure of themselves. ’Tis*Manners which is wanting, ’Tis a due Sentiment of Morals which alone can make us knowing in Order and Proportion, and give us the just Tone and Measure of human Passion.
So much the Poet must necessarily borrow of the Philosopher, as to be Master of the commonTopicks of Morality. He must at least be speciously honest, and in all appearance a Friend to Virtue, thro’out his Poem. The Good and Wise will abate him nothing in this kind. And the People, tho corrupt, are, in the main, best satisfy’d with this Conduct.
Sometimes a play if it is embellished with sentiments and welldrawn as to its characters, though it has no grace, no weight of language, no art, delights the people more and keeps their attention better than verses with little in them and well-rounded trifles.3
Sect. 1.SECTION I
’TIS esteem’d the highest Compliment which can be paid a Writer, on the occasion of some new Work he has made publick, to tell him, “That he has undoubtedly surpass’dHimself.’’ And indeed when one observes how well this Compliment is receiv’d, one wou’d imagine it to contain some wonderful Hyperbole of Praise. For according to the Strain of modern Politeness; ’tis not an ordinary Violation of Truth, which can afford a Tribute sufficient to answer any common degree of Merit. Now ’tis well known that the Gentlemen whose Merit lies towards Authorship, are unwilling to make the least abatement on the foot of this Ceremonial. One wou’d wonder therefore to find ’em so entirely satisfy’d with a Form of Praise, which in plain sense amounts to no more than a bare Affirmative, “That they have in some manner differ’d from themselves, and are become somewhat worse or better, than their common rate.” For if the vilest Writer grows viler than ordinary, or exceeds his natural pitch on either side, he is justly said to exceed, or go beyond himself.
We find in the same manner, that there is no expression more generally us’d in a way of Compliment to great Men and Princes, than that plain one, which is so often verify’d, and may be safely pronounc’d for Truth, on most occasions; “That they have acted like themselves, and sutably to their own Genius and Character.” The Compliment, it must be own’d, sounds well. No one suspects it. For what Person is there who in his Imagination joins not something worthy and deserving with his true and native Self, as oft as he is refer’d to it, and made to consider, Who he is? Such is the natural Affection of all Mankind towards moral Beauty and Perfection, that they never fail in making this Presumption in behalf of themselves: “That by Nature they have something estimable and worthy in respect of others of their Kind; and that their genuine, true, and naturalSelf, is, as it ought to be, of real value in Society, and justly honourable for the sake of its Merit, and good Qualitys.” They conclude therefore they have the height of Praise allotted ’em, when they are assur’d by any-one, that they have done nothing below themselves, or that in some particular Action, they have exceeded the ordinary Tenor of their Character.
Thus is every-one convinc’d of the Reality of a betterSelf, and of the Cult or Homage which is due to It. The misfortune is, we are seldom taught to comprehend this Self, by placing it in a distinct View from its Representative or Counterfeit. In our holy Religion, which for the greatest part is adapted to the very meanest Capacitys, ’tis not to be expected that a Speculation of this kind shou’d be openly advanc’d. ’Tis enough that we have Hints given us of a nobler Self, than that which is commonly suppos’d the Basis and Foundation of our Actions. Self-Interest is there taken, as it is vulgarly conceiv’d. Tho on the other side there are, in the most * sacred Characters, Examples given us of the highest Contempt of all such interested Views, of a Willingness to suffer without recompence for the sake of others, and of a desire to part even with Life and Being it-self, on account of what is generous and worthy. But in the same manner as the celestialPhaenomena are in the Sacred Volumes generally treated according to common Imagination, and the then current System of Astronomy and natural Science; so the moral Appearances are in many places preserv’d without Alteration, according to vulgar Prejudice, and the general Conception of Interest and Self-good. Our real and genuineSelf is sometimes suppos’d that ambitious one which is fond of Power and Glory; sometimes that childish one which is taken with vain Shew, and is to be invited to Obedience by promise of finer Habitations, precious Stones and Metals, shining Garments, Crowns, and other such dazling Beautys, by which another Earth, or material City, is represented.
It must be own’d, that even at that time, when a greater and purer Light disclos’d it-self in the chosen Nation; their natural * Gloominess appear’d still, by the great difficulty they had to know themselves, or learn their real Interest, after such long Tutorage and Instruction from above. The Simplicity of that People must certainly have been very great; when the best Doctrine cou’d not go down without a Treat, and the best Disciples had their Heads so running upon their Loaves, that they were apt to construe every divine Saying in a †Belly-Sense, and thought nothing more self-constituent than that inferior Receptacle. Their Taste in Morals cou’d not fail of being sutable to this extraordinary Estimation of themselves. No wonder if the better and noblerSelf was left as a Mystery to a People, who of all human Kind were the most grosly selfish, crooked and perverse. So that it must necessarily be confess’d, in honour of their divine Legislators, Patriots, and Instructors; that they exceeded all others in Goodness and Generosity; since they cou’d so truly love their Nation and Brethren, such as they were; and cou’d have so generous and disinterested Regards for those, who were in themselves so sordidly interested and undeserving.
But whatever may be the proper Effect or Operation of Religion, ’tis the known Province of Philosophy to teach us our-selves, keep us the self-same Persons, and so regulate our governing Fancys, Passions, and Humours, as to make us comprehensible to our selves, and knowable by other Features than those of a bare Countenance. For ’tis not certainly by virtue of our Face merely, that we are our-selves. ’Tis not WE who change, when our Complexion or Shape changes. But there is that, which being wholly metamorphos’d and converted, WE are thereby in reality transform’d and lost.
Shou’d an intimate Friend of ours, who had endur’d many Sicknesses, and run many ill Adventures while he travel’d thro’ the remotest parts of the East, and hottest Countrys of the South, return to us so alter’d in his whole outward Figure, that till we had for a time convers’d with him, we cou’d not know him again to be the same Person; the matter wou’d not seem so very strange, nor wou’d our concern on this account be very great. But shou’d a like Face and Figure of a Friend return to us with Thoughts and Humours of a strange and foreign Turn, with Passions, Affections, and Opinions wholly different from any thing we had formerly known; we shou’d say in earnest, and with the greatest Amazement and Concern, that this was another Creature, and not the Friend whom we once knew familiarly. Nor shou’d we in reality attempt any renewal of Acquaintance or Correspondence with such a Person, tho perhaps he might preserve in his Memory the faint Marks or Tokens of former Transactions which had pass’d between us.
When a Revolution of this kind, tho not so total, happens at any time in a Character; when the Passion or Humour of a known Person changes remarkably from what it once was; ’tis to Philosophy we then appeal. ’Tis either the Want or Weakness of this Principle, which is charg’d on the Delinquent. And on this bottom it is, that we often challenge our-selves, when we find such variation in our Manners; and observe that it is not always the same Self, nor the same Interest we have in view; but often a direct contrary-one, which we serve still with the same Passion and Ardour. When from a noted Liberality we change perhaps to as remarkable a Parsimony; when from Indolence and Love of Rest we plunge into Business; or from a busy and severe Character, abhorrent from the tender Converse of the fair Sex, we turn on a sudden to a contrary Passion, and become amorous or uxorious: we acknowledg the Weakness; and charging our Defect on the general want of Philosophy, we say (sighing) “That, indeed, we none of us truly know ourselves.” And thus we recognize the Authority and proper Object of Philosophy; so far at least, that tho we pretend not to be compleat Philosophers, we confess, “That as we have more or less of this Intelligence or Comprehension of our-selves, we are accordingly more or less trulyMen, and either more or less to be depended on, in Friendship, Society, and the Commerce of Life.”
The Fruits of this Science are indeed the fairest imaginable; and, upon due trial, are found to be as well relish’d, and of as good savour with Mankind. But when invited to the Speculation, we turn our Eyes on that which we suppose the Tree, ’tis no wonder if we slight the Gardenership, and think the manner of Culture a very contemptible Mystery. “Grapes, ’tis said, are not gather’d from Thorns; nor Figs from Thistles.” Now if in the literate World there be any choking Weed, any thing purely Thorn or Thistle, ’tis in all likelihood that very kind of Plant which stands for *Philosophy in some famous Schools. There can be nothing more ridiculous than to expect that Manners or Understanding shou’d sprout from such a Stock. It pretends indeed some relation to Manners, as being definitive of the Natures, Essences, and Propertys of Spirits; and some relation to Reason, as describing the Shapes and Forms of certain Instruments imploy’d in the reasoning Art. But had the craftiest of Men, for many Ages together, been imploy’d in finding out a method to confound Reason, and degrade the Understanding of Mankind; they cou’d not perhaps have succeeded better, than by the Establishment of such a Mock-Science.
I knew once a notable Enthusiast of the itinerant kind, who being upon a high Spiritual Adventure in a Country where prophetick Missions are treated as no Jest, was, as he told me, committed a close Prisoner, and kept for several months where he saw no manner of Light. In this Banishment from Letters and Discourse, the Man very wittily invented an Amusement much to his purpose, and highly preservative both of Health and Humour. It may be thought perhaps, that of all Seasons or Circumstances here was one the most sutable to our oft-mention’d practice of Soliloquy; especially since the Prisoner was one of those whom in this Age we usually call Philosophers, a Successor of Paracelsus, and a Master in the occult Sciences. But as to Moral Science, or any thing relating to Self-converse, he was a mere Novice. To work therefore he went, after a different method. He tun’d his natural Pipes not after the manner of a Musician, to practice what was melodious and agreeable in Sounds, but to fashion and form all sorts of articulate Voices the most distinctly that was possible. This he perform’d by strenuously exalting his Voice, and essaying it in all the several Dispositions and Configurations of his Throat and Mouth. And thus bellowing, roaring, snarling, and otherwise variously exerting his Organs of Sound, he endeavour’d to discover what Letters of the Alphabet cou’d best design each Species, or what new Letters were to be invented, to mark the undiscover’d Modifications. He found, for instance, the Letter A to be a most genuine Character, an original and pure Vowel, and justly plac’d as principal in the front of the alphabetick Order. For having duly extended his under Jaw to its utmost distance from the upper; and by a proper Insertion of his Fingers provided against the Contraction of either Corner of his Mouth; he experimentally discover’d it impossible for human Tongue under these Circumstances to emit any other Modification of Sound than that which was describ’d by this primitive Character. The Vowel O was form’d by an orbicular Disposition of the Mouth; as was aptly delineated in the Character it-self. The Vowel U by a parallel Protrusion of the Lips. The other Vowels and Consonants by other various Collisions of the Mouth, and Operations of the active Tongue upon the passive Gum or Palat. The Result of this profound Speculation and long Exercise of our Prisoner, was a Philosophical Treatise, which he compos’d when he was set at liberty. He esteem’d himself the only Master of Voice and Language on the account of this his radical Science, and fundamental Knowledg of Sounds. But whoever had taken him to improve their Voice, or teach ’em an agreeable or just manner of Accent or Delivery, wou’d, I believe, have found themselves considerably deluded.
’Tis not that I wou’d condemn as useless this speculative Science of Articulation. It has its place, no doubt, among the other Sciences, and may serve to Grammar, as Grammar serves to Rhetorick, and to other Arts of Speech and Writing. The Solidity of Mathematicks, and its Advantage to Mankind, is prov’d by many effects in those beneficial Arts and Sciences which depend on it: tho Astrologers, Horoscopers, and other such, are pleas’d to honour themselves with the Title of Mathematicians. As for Metaphysicks, and that which in the Schools is taught for Logick or for Ethicks; I shall willingly allow it to pass for Philosophy, when by any real effects it is prov’d capable to refine our Spirits, improve our Understandings, or mend our Manners. But if the defining material and immaterial Substances, and distinguishing their Propertys and Modes, is recommended to us, as the right manner of proceeding in the Discovery of our own Natures, I shall be apt to suspect such a Study as the more delusive and infatuating, on account of its magnificent Pretension.
The Study of Triangles and Circles interferes not with the Study of Minds. Nor does the Student in the mean while suppose himself advancing in Wisdom, or the Knowledg of Himself or Mankind. All he desires, is to keep his Head sound, as it was before. And well, he thinks indeed, he has come off, if by good fortune there be no Crack made in it. As for other Ability or Improvement in the Knowledg of human Nature or the World; he refers himself to other Studys and Practice. Such is the Mathematician’s Modesty and good Sense. But for the Philosopher, who pretends to be wholly taken up in considering his higher Facultys, and examining the Powers and Principles of his Understanding; if in reality his Philosophy be foreign to the Matter profess’d; if it goes beside the mark, and reaches nothing we can truly call our Interest or Concern; it must be somewhat worse than mere Ignorance or Idiotism. The most ingenious way of becoming foolish, is by a System. And the surest Method to prevent good Sense, is to set up something in the room of it. The liker any thing is to Wisdom, if it be not plainlythe thing it-self, the more directly it becomes its opposite.
One wou’d expect it of these Physiologists and Searchers of Modes and Substances, that being so exalted in their Understandings, and inrich’d with Science above other Men, they shou’d be as much above ’em in their Passions and Sentiments. The Consciousness of being admitted into the secret Recesses of Nature, and the inward Resources of a human Heart, shou’d, one wou’d think, create in these Gentlemen a sort of Magnanimity, which might distinguish ’em from the ordinary Race of Mortals. But if their pretended Knowledg of the Machine of this World, and of their own Frame, is able to produce nothing beneficial either to the one or to the other; I know not to what purpose such a Philosophy can serve, except only to shut the door against better Knowledg, and introduce Impertinence and Conceit with the best Countenance of Authority.
’Tis hardly possible for a Student, but more especially an Author, who has dealt in Ideas, and treated formally of the Passions, in a way of natural Philosophy, not to imagine himself more wise on this account, and more knowing in his own Character, and the Genius of Mankind. But that he is mistaken in his Calculation, Experience generally convinces us: none being found more impotent in themselves, of less command over their Passions, less free from Superstition and vain Fears, or less safe from common Imposture and Delusion, than the noted Head-pieces of this stamp. Nor is this a wonder. The Speculation in a manner bespeaks the Practice. There needs no formal Deduction to make this evident. A small Help from our familiar Method of Soliloquy may serve turn: and we may perhaps decide this matter in a more diverting way; by confronting this super-speculative Philosophy with a more practical sort, which relates chiefly to our Acquaintance, Friendship, and good Correspondence with our-selves.
On this account, it may not be to my Reader’s disadvantage, if forgetting him for a-while, I apply chiefly to my-self; and, as occasion offers, assume that self-conversant Practice, which I have pretended to disclose. ’Tis hop’d therefore, he will not esteem it as ill Breeding, if I lose the usual regard to his Presence. And shou’d I fall insensibly into one of the Paroxysms describ’d; and as in a sort of Phrenzy, enter into high Expostulation with my-self; he will not surely be offended with the free Language, or even with the Reproaches he hears from a Person who only makes bold with whom he may.
IF A Passenger shou’d turn by chance into a Watchmaker’s Shop, and thinking to inform himself concerning Watches, shou’d inquire, of what Metal, or what Matter, each Part was compos’d; what gave the Colours, or what made the Sounds; without examining what the real Use was of such an Instrument; or by what Movements its End was best attain’d, and its Perfection acquir’d: ’tis plain that such an Examiner as this, wou’d come short of any Understanding in the real Nature of the Instrument. Shou’d a Philosopher, after the same manner, employing himself in the Study of human Nature, discover only, what Effects each Passion wrought upon the Body; what change of Aspect or Feature they produc’d; and in what different manner they affected the Limbs and Muscles; this might possibly qualify him to give Advice to an Anatomist or a Limner, but not to Mankind or to Himself: Since according to this Survey he consider’d not the real Operation or Energy of his Subject, nor contemplated the Man, as realMan, and as a human Agent; but as a Watch or common Machine.
“The Passion of Fear (as a * modern Philosopher informs me) determines the Spirits to the Muscles of the Knees, which are instantly ready to perform their Motion; by taking up the Legs with incomparable Celerity, in order to remove the Body out of harm’s way.”—Excellent Mechanism! But whether the knocking together of the Knees be any more the cowardly Symptom of Flight, than the chattering of the Teeth is the stout Symptom of Resistance, I shall not take upon me to determine. In this whole Subject of Inquiry I shall find nothing of the least Self-concernment. And I may depend upon it, that by the most refin’d Speculation of this kind, I shall neither learn to diminish my Fears, or raise my Courage. This, however, I may be assur’d of, that ’tis the Nature of Fear, as well as of other Passions, to have its Increase and Decrease, as it is fed by Opinion, and influenc’d by Custom and Practice.
These Passions, according as they have the Ascendency in me, and differ in proportion with one another, affect my Character, and make me different with respect to my-self and others. I must, therefore, of necessity find Redress and Improvement in this case, by reflecting justly on the manner of my own Motion, as guided by Affections which depend so much on Apprehension and Conceit. By examining the various Turns, Inflections, Declensions, and inward Revolutions of the Passions, I must undoubtedly come the better to understand a human Breast, and judg the better both of others and my-self. ’Tis impossible to make the least advancement in such a Study, without acquiring some Advantage, from the Regulation and Government of those Passions, on which the Conduct of a Life depends.
For instance, if Superstition be the sort of Fear which most oppresses; ’tis not very material to inquire, on this occasion, to what Parts or Districts the Blood or Spirits are immediately detach’d, or where they are made to rendevouz. For this no more imports me to understand, than it depends on me to regulate or change. But when the Grounds of this superstitious Fear are consider’d to be from Opinion, and the Subjects of it come to be thorowly search’d and examin’d; the Passion it-self must necessarily diminish, as I discover more and more the Imposture which belongs to it.
In the same manner, if Vanity be from Opinion, and I consider how Vanity is conceiv’d, from what imaginary Advantages, and inconsiderable Grounds; if I view it in its excessive height, as well as in its contrary depression; ’tis impossible I shou’d not in some measure be reliev’d of this Distemper.
* Are you swollen up with the love of praise? There are sure remedies. . . . There are spells and charms by which you may ease this pain and throw off a great part of your complaint.
The same must happen in respect of Anger, Ambition, Love, Desire, and the other Passions from whence I frame the different Notion I have of Interest. For as these Passions veer, my Interest veers, my Steerage varys; and I make alternately, now this, now that, to be my Course and Harbour. The Man in Anger, has a different Happiness from the Man in Love. And the Man lately become covetous, has a different Notion of Satisfaction from what he had before, when he was liberal. Even the Man in Humour, has another Thought of Interest and Advantage than the Man out of Humour, or in the least disturb’d. The Examination, therefore, of my Humours, and the †Inquiry after my Passions, must necessarily draw along with it the Search and Scrutiny of my Opinions, and the sincere Consideration of my Scope and End. And thus the Study of human Affection cannot fail of leading me towards the Knowledg of human Nature, and of My-self.
This is the Philosophy, which, by Nature, has the Pre-eminence above all other Science or Knowledg. Nor can this surely be of the sort call’d *vain or deceitful; since it is the only means by which I can discover Vanity and Deceit. This is not of that kind which depends on Genealogys or Traditions, and ministers Questions and vain Jangling. It has not its Name, as other Philosophys, from the mere Subtlety and Nicety of the Speculation; but, by way of Excellence, from its being superior to all other Speculations; from its presiding over all other Sciences and Occupations; teaching the Measure of each, and assigning the just Value of everything in Life. By this Science Religion it-self is judg’d, Spirits are search’d, Prophecys prov’d, Miracles distinguish’d: the sole Measure and Standard being taken from moral Rectitude, and from the Discernment of what is sound and just in the Affections. For if the †Tree is known only by its Fruits; my first Endeavour must be to distinguish the true Taste of Fruits, refine my Palat, and establish a just Relish in the kind. So that to bid me judg Authority by Morals, whilst the Rule of Morals is suppos’d ‡ dependent on mere Authority and Will; is the same in reality as to bid me see with my Eyes shut, measure without a Standard, and count without Arithmetick.
And thus Philosophy, which judges both of her-self, and of every thing besides; discovers her own Province, and chief Command; teaches me to distinguish between her Person and her Likeness; and shews me her immediate and real self, by that sole Privilege of teaching me to know my-self, and what belongs to me. She gives to every inferior Science its just rank; leaves some to measure Sounds; others to scan Syllables; others to weigh Vacuums, and define Spaces, and Extensions: but reserves to her-self her due Authority, and Majesty; keeps her State, and antient Title, of Guide of life, investigator of virtue,4 and the rest of those just Appellations which of old belong’d to her; when she merited to be apostrophiz’d, as she was, by the * Orator: “Thou didst find out laws, thou wast the teacher of character and method. . . . One day spent well and under thy rules is better than an eternity of error.” Excellent Mistress! but easy to be mistaken! whilst so many Handmaids wear as illustrious Apparel; and some are made to outshine her far, in Dress, and Ornament.
In reality, how specious a Study, how solemn an Amusement is rais’d from what we call Philosophical Speculations!—the Formation of Ideas!—their Compositions, Comparisons, Agreement, and Disagreement!—What can have a better Appearance, or bid fairer for genuine and truePhilosophy? Come on then. Let me philosophize in this manner; if this be indeed the way I am to grow wise. Let me examine my Ideas of Space and Substance: Let me look well into Matter and its Modes; if this be looking into My-self; if this be to improve my Understanding, and enlarge my Mind. For of this I may soon be satisfy’d. Let me observe therefore, with diligence, what passes here; what Connexion and Consistency, what Agreement or Disagreement I find within: “Whether, according to my present Ideas, that which I approve this Hour, I am like to approve as well the next: And in case it be otherwise with me; how or after what manner, I shall relieve myself; how ascertain my Ideas, and keep my Opinion, Liking, and Esteem of things, the same.” If this remains unsolv’d; if I am still the same Mystery to my-self as ever: to what purpose is all this reasoning and acuteness? Wherefore do I admire my Philosopher, or study to become such a one, my-self?
To-day things have succeeded well with me; consequently my Ideas are rais’d: “’Tis a fine World! All is glorious! Every thing delightful and entertaining! Mankind, Conversation, Company, Society; What can be more desirable?” To-morrow comes Disappointment, Crosses, Disgrace. And what follows? “O miserable Mankind! Wretched State! Who wou’d live out of Solitude? Who wou’d write or act for such a World?” Philosopher! where are thy Ideas? Where is Truth, Certainty, Evidence, so much talk’d of? ’Tis here surely they are to be maintain’d, if any where. ’Tis here I am to preserve some just Distinctions, and adequate Ideas; which if I cannot do a jot the more, by what such a Philosophy can teach me, the Philosophy is in this respect imposing, and delusive. For whatever its other Virtues are; it relates not to Me my-self, it concerns not the Man, nor any otherwise affects the Mind than by the conceit of Knowledg, and the false Assurance rais’d from a suppos’d Improvement.
Again. What are my Ideas of the World, of Pleasure, Riches, Fame, Life? What Judgment am I to make of Mankind and human Affairs? What Sentiments am I to frame? What Opinions? What Maxims? If none at all; why do I concern my-self in Speculations about my Ideas? What is it to me, for instance, to know what kind of Idea I can form of Space? “Divide a solid Body of whatever Dimension,” (says a renown’d modern Philosopher): “And ’twill be impossible for the Parts to move within the bounds of its Superficies; if there be not left in it * a void Space, as big as the least part into which the said Body is divided.”—
Thus the Atomist, or Epicurean, pleading for a Vacuum. The Plenitudinarian, on the other side, brings his Fluid in play, and joins the Idea of Body and Extension. “Of this, says one, I have clear Ideas.” “Of this, says the other, I can be certain.” “And what, say I, if in the whole matter there be no certainty at all?” For Mathematicians are divided: and Mechanicks proceed as well on one Hypothesis as on the other. My Mind, I am satisfy’d, will proceed either way alike: For it is concern’d on neither side.—“Philosopher! Let me hear concerning what is of some moment to me. Let me hear concerning Life; what the right Notion is; and what I am to stand to, upon occasion: that I may not, when Life seems retiring, or has run it-self out to the very Dregs, cry Vanity! condemn the World, and at the same time complain, that Life is short and passing!” For why so short, indeed, if not found sweet? Why do I complain both ways? Is Vanity, mere Vanity, a Happiness? Or can Misery pass away too soon?
This is of moment to me to examine. This is worth my while. If, on the other side, I cannot find the Agreement or Disagreement of my Ideas in this place; if I can come to nothing certain here; what is all the rest to me? What signifys it how I come by my Ideas, or how compound ’em; which are simple, and which complex? If I have a right Idea of Life, now when perhaps I think slightly of it, and resolve with my-self, “That it may easily be laid down on any honourable occasion of Service to my Friends, or Country”; teach me how I may preserve this Idea: or, at least, how I may get safely rid of it; that it may trouble me no more, nor lead me into ill Adventures. Teach me how I came by such an Opinion of Worth and Virtue; what it is, which at one time raises it so high, and at another time reduces it to nothing; how these Disturbances and Fluctuations happen; “By what Innovation, what Composition, what Intervention of other Ideas.” If this be the Subject of the Philosophical Art; I readily apply to it, and embrace the Study. If there be nothing of this in the Case; I have no occasion for this sort of Learning; and am no more desirous of knowing how I form or compound those Ideas which are mark’d by Words, than I am of knowing how, and by what Motions of my Tongue or Palat, I form those articulate Sounds, which I can full as well pronounce, without any such Science or Speculation.
Sect. 2.SECTION II
BUT here it may be convenient for me to quit my-self a-while, in favour of my Reader; lest if he prove one of the uncourteous sort, he shou’d raise a considerable Objection in this place. He may ask perhaps, “Why a Writer for Self-entertainment shou’d not keep his Writings to himself, without appearing in Publick, or before the World.”
In answer to this I shall only say, that for appearing in Publick, or before the World, I do not readily conceive what our worthy Objector may understand by it. I can call to mind, indeed, among my Acquaintance, certain Merchant-Adventurers in the Letter-Trade, who in correspondence with their Factor-Bookseller, are enter’d into a notable Commerce with the World. They have directly, and in due Form of Preface, and Epistle Dedicatory, sollicited the Publick, and made Interest with Friends for Favour and Protection on this account. They have ventur’d, perhaps, to join some great Man’s Reputation with their own; having obtain’d his Permission to address a Work to him, on presumption of its passing for something considerable in the eyes of Mankind. One may easily imagine that such patroniz’d and avow’d Authors as these, wou’d be shreudly disappointed if the Publick took no notice of their Labours. But for my own part, ’tis of no concern to me, what regard the Publick bestows on my Amusements; or after what manner it comes acquainted with what I write for my private Entertainment, or by way of Advice to such of my Acquaintance as are thus desperately embark’d.
’Tis requisite, that my Friends, who peruse these Advices, shou’d read ’em in better Characters than those of my own Hand-writing. And by good luck I have a very fair Hand offer’d, which may save me the trouble of re-copying, and can readily furnish me with as many handsom Copys as I wou’d desire, for my own and Friends Service. I have not, indeed, forbid my Amanuensis the making as many as he pleases for his own Benefit. What I write is not worth being made a Mystery. And if it be worth any one’s purchasing; much good may do the Purchaser. ’Tis a Traffick I have no share in; tho I accidentally furnish the Subject-matter.
And thus am I no-wise more an Author, for being in Print. I am conscious of no additional Virtue, or dangerous Quality, from having lain at any time under the weight of that alphabetick Engine call’d the Press. I know no Conjuration in it, either with respect to Church, or State. Nor can I imagine why the Machine shou’d appear so formidable to Scholars, and renown’d Clerks; whose very Mystery and Foundation depends on the Letter-Manufacture. To allow Benefit of Clergy, and to restrain the Press, seems to me to have something of Cross-purpose in it. I can hardly think that the Quality of what is written can be alter’d by the Manner of Writing; or that there can be any harm in a quick way of copying fair, and keeping Copys alike. Why a Man may not be permitted to write with Iron as well as Quill, I can’t conceive; or how a Writer changes his Capacity, by this new Dress, any more than by the wear of Wove-Stockins, after having worn no other Manufacture than the Knit.
SO MUCH for my Reader; if perchance I have any besides the Friend or two above-mention’d. For being engag’d in Morals, and induc’d to treat so rigorous a Subject as that of Self-examination; I naturally call to mind the extreme Delicacy and Tenderness of modern Appetites, in respect of the Philosophy of this kind. What Distaste possibly may have arisen from some medicinal Doses of a like nature, administer’d to raw Stomachs, at a very early Age, I will not pretend to examine. But whatever Manner in Philosophy happens to bear the least resemblance to that of Catechism, cannot, I’m persuaded, of it-self, prove very inviting. Such a smart way of questioning our-selves in our Youth, has made our Manhood more averse to the expostulatory Discipline. And tho the metaphysical Points of our Belief are by this method, with admirable Care and Caution, instill’d into tender Minds; yet the manner of this anticipating Philosophy, may make the After-work of Reason, and the inward Exercise of the Mind, at a riper Age, proceed the more heavily, and with greater reluctance.
It must needs be a hard Case with us, after having pass’d so learned a Childhood, and been instructed in our own and other higher Natures, Essences, incorporeal Substances, Personalitys, and the like; to condescend at riper Years to ruminate and con over this Lesson a second time. ’Tis hard, after having, by so many pertinent Interrogatorys, and decisive Sentences, declar’d Who and What we are; to come leisurely, in another view, to inquire concerning our real Self, and End, the Judgment we are to make of Interest, and the Opinion we shou’d have ofAdvantageandGood: which is what must necessarily determine us in our Conduct, and prove the leading Principle of our Lives.
Can we bear looking a-new into these Mysterys? Can we endure a new Schooling, after having once learnt our Lesson from the World? Hardly, I presume. For by the Lesson of this latter School, and according to the Sense I acquire in Converse with prime Men; shou’d I at any time ask my-self, What govern’d me? I shou’d answer readily, My Interest. “But what is Interest? And how govern’d?” “By Opinion and Fancy.” “Is every thing therefore my Interest which I fansy such? Or may my Fancy possibly be wrong?” “It may.” “If my Fancy of Interest therefore be wrong; can my Pursuit or Aim be right?” “Hardly so.” “Can I then be suppos’d to hit, when I know not, in reality, so much as how to aim?”
My chief Interest, it seems therefore, must be to get an Aim; and know certainly where my Happiness and Advantage lies. “Where else can it lie, than in my Pleasure; since my Advantage and Good must ever be pleasing: and what is pleasing, can never be other than my Advantage and Good?” “Excellent! Let Fancy therefore govern, and Interest be what we please. For if that which pleases us be our Good, *because it pleases us; any-thing may be our Interest or Good. Nothing can come amiss. That which we fondly make our Happiness at one time, we may as readily un-make at another. No-one can learn what realGood is. Nor can anyone upon this foot be said to understand hisInterest.’’
Here, we see, are strange Embroils!—But let us try to deal more candidly with our-selves, and frankly own that †Pleasure is no rule of Good; since when we follow Pleasure merely, we are disgusted, and change from one sort to another: condemning that at one time, which at another we earnestly approve; and never judging equally of Happiness, whilst we follow Passion and mere Humour.
A Lover, for instance, when struck with the Idea or Fancy of his Enjoyment, promises himself the highest Felicity, if he succeeds in his new Amour.—He succeeds in it; finds not the Felicity he expected: but promises himself the same again in some other.—The same thing happens: He is disappointed as before; but still has Faith.—Weary’d with this Game, he quits the Chace; renounces the way of Courtship and Intrigue, and detests the Ceremony and Difficulty of the Pleasure.—A new Species of Amours invites him. Here too he meets the same Inquietude and Inconstancy.—Scorning to grow sottish, and plunge in the lowest Sink of Vice, he shakes off his Intemperance; despises Gluttony and Riot; and hearkens to Ambition. He grows a Man of Business, and seeks Authority and Fame.—
* With what chain can I bind the ever-changing figure of Proteus?
Lest this therefore shou’d be my own case; let me see whether I can controul my Fancy, and fix it, if possible, on something which may hold good.—When I exercise my Reason in moral Subjects; when I employ my Affection in friendly and social Actions, I find I can sincerely enjoy my-self. If there be a Pleasure therefore of this kind; why not indulge it? Or what harm wou’d there be, supposing it shou’d grow greater by Indulgence? If I am lazy, and indulge my-self in the languid Pleasure; I know the harm, and can foresee the Drone. If I am luxurious, I know the harm of this also, and have the plain prospect of the Sot. If Avarice be my Pleasure; the End, I know, is being a Miser. But if Honesty be my Delight, I know no other consequence from indulging such a Passion, than that of growing better natur’d, and enjoying more and more the Pleasures of Society. On the other hand, if this honest Pleasure be lost, by knavish Indulgence, and Immorality, there can hardly be a Satisfaction left of any kind; since Good-nature and * social Affection are so essential even to the Pleasures of a Debauch.
If therefore the only Pleasure I can freely and without reserve indulge, be that of the honest and moral kind; if the rational and social Enjoyment be so constant in it-self, and so essential to Happiness; why shou’d I not bring my other Pleasures to correspond and be Friends with it, rather than raise my-self other Pleasures, which are destructive of this Foundation, and have no manner of Correspondency with one another?
Upon this bottom let me try how I can bear the Assault of Fancy, and maintain my-self in my moral Fortress, against the Attacks which are rais’d on the side of corrupt Interest and a wrong Self. When the Idea of Pleasure strikes, I ask my-self: “Before I was thus struck by the Idea, was any thing amiss with me?” “No.” “Therefore remove the Idea, and I am well.” “But having this Idea such as I now have, I cannot want the Thing, without regret.” “See, therefore, which is best: either to suffer under this Want, till the Idea be remov’d; or by satisfying the Want, confirm not only this Idea, but all of the same stamp!”
In reality, has not everyFancy a like Privilege of passing; if any single one be admitted upon its own Authority? And what must be the Issue of such an OEconomy, if the whole fantastick Crew be introduc’d, and the Door refus’d to none? What else is it than this Management which leads to the most dissolute and profligate of Characters? What is it, on the contrary, which raises us to any degree of Worth or Steddiness, besides a direct contrary Practice and Conduct? Can there be Strength of Mind; can there be Command over one’s self; If the Ideas of Pleasure, the Suggestions of Fancy, and the strong Pleadings of Appetite and Desire are not often withstood, and the Imaginations soundly reprimanded, and brought under subjection?
Thus it appears that the Method of examining our Ideas is no pedantick Practice. Nor is there any thing un-galante in the manner of thus questioning the Lady-Fancys, which present themselves as charmingly dress’d as possible to sollicit their Cause, and obtain a Judgment, by favour of that worse Part, and corrupt Self, to whom they make their Application.
It may be justly said of these, that they are very powerful Sollicitresses. They never seem to importune us; tho they are ever in our eye, and meet us which-ever way we turn. They understand better how to manage their Appearance, than by always throwing up their Veil, and shewing their Faces openly in a broad Light, to run the danger of cloying our Sight, or exposing their Features to a strict Examination. So far are they from such forwardness, that they often stand as at a distance; suffering us to make the first advance, and contenting themselves with discovering a Side-face, or bestowing now and then a glance in a mysterious manner, as if they endeavour’d to conceal their Persons.
One of the most dangerous of these Enchantresses appears in a sort of dismal Weed, with the most mournful Countenance imaginable; often casting up her Eyes, and wringing her Hands; so that ’tis impossible not to be mov’d by her, till her Meaning be consider’d, and her Imposture fully known. The Airs she borrows, are from the tragick Muse Melpomene. Nor is she in her own Person any way amiable or attractive. Far from it. Her Art is to render her-self as forbidding as possible; that her Sisters may by her means be the more alluring. And if by her tragick Aspect, and melancholy Looks, she can persuade us that Death (whom she represents) is such a hideous Form; she conquers in behalf of the whole fantastick Tribe of wanton, gay, and fond Desires. Effeminacy and Cowardice instantly prevail. The poorest Means of Life grow in repute, when the Ends and just Conditions of it are so little known, and the Dread of parting with it, rais’d to so high a degree. The more eagerly we grasp at Life, the more impotent we are in the Enjoyment of it. By this Avidity, its very Lees and Dregs are swallow’d. The Ideas of sordid Pleasure are advanc’d. Worth, Manhood, Generosity, and all the nobler Opinions and Sentiments of honestGood, and virtuous Pleasure, disappear, and fly before this Queen of Terrors.
’Tis a mighty Delight which a sort of Counter-Philosophers take in seconding this Phantom, and playing her upon our Understandings, whenever they wou’d take occasion to confound ’em. The vicious Poets employ this Specter too on their side; tho after a different manner. By the help of this tragick Actress, they gain a fairer Audience for the luxurious Fancys; and give their Erato’s, and other playsom Muses a fuller Scope in the support of Riot and Debauch. The gloomy Prospect of Death becomes the Incentive to Pleasures of the lowest Order. Ashes and Shade, the Tomb and Cypress, are made to serve as Foils to Luxury. The Abhorrence of an insensible State makes mere Vitality and Animal-Sensation highly cherish’d.
* Give your genius play; let us take our pleasures; your life (alone) is ours; you will (soon) be but dust, a ghost, a name.
’Tis no wonder if Luxury profits by the Deformity of this Specter-Opinion. She supports her Interest by this childish Bugbear; and, like a Mother by her Infant, is hugg’d so much the closer by her Votary, as the Fear presses him, and grows importunate. She invites him to live fast, according to her best measure of Life. And well she may. Who wou’d not willingly make Life pass away as quickly as was possible; when the nobler Pleasures of it were already lost or corrupted by a wretched Fear of Death? The intense Selfishness and Meanness which accompanys this Fear, must reduce us to a low ebb of Enjoyment; and in a manner bring to nothing that main Sum of satisfactory Sensations, by which we vulgarly rate the Happiness of our private Condition and Fortune.
But see! A lovely Form advances to our Assistance, introduc’d by the prime Muse, the beauteous Calliope! She shews us what real Beauty is, and what thoseNumbers are, which make Life perfect, and bestow the chief Enjoyment. She sets Virtue before our Eyes, and teaches us how to rate Life, from the Experience of the most heroick Spirits. She brings her Sisters Clio and Urania to support her. From the former she borrows whatever is memorable in History, and antient Time, to confront the tragick Specter, and shew the fix’d Contempt which the happiest and freest Nations, as well as single Heroes, and private Men worthy of any Note, have ever express’d for that Impostress. From the latter she borrows what is sublimest in Philosophy, to explain the Laws of Nature, the Order of the Universe, and represent to us the Justice of accompanying this amiable Administration. She shews us, that by this just Compliance we are made happiest: and that the measure of a happy Life is not from the fewer or more Suns we behold, the fewer or more Breaths we draw, or Meals we repeat; but from the having once liv’d well, acted our Part handsomly, and made our Exit chearfully, and as became us.
Thus we retain on Virtue’s side the noblest Party of the Muses. Whatever is august amongst those Sisters, appears readily in our behalf. Nor are the more jocund Ladys wanting in their Assistance, when they act in the Perfection of their Art, and inspire some better Genius’s in this kind of Poetry. Such were the nobler Lyricks, and those of the latter, and more refin’d Comedy of the Antients. The Thalia’s, the Polyhymnia’s, the Terpsychore’s, the Euterpe’s willingly join their Parts; and being alike interested in the Cause of Numbers, are with regret employ’d another way, in favour of Disorder. Instead of being made Syrens to serve the Purposes of Vice, they wou’d with more delight accompany their elder Sisters, and add their Graces and attractive Charms to what is most harmonious, Muse-like, and Divine in human Life. There is this difference only between these and the more heroick Dames; that they can more easily be perverted, and take the vicious Form. For what Person of any Genius or masterly Command in the poetick Art, cou’d think of bringing the Epick or Tragick Muse to act the Pandar, or be subservient to Effeminacy and Cowardice? ’Tis not against Death, Hazards or Toils, that Tragedy and the heroick Fable are pointed. ’Tis not mere Life which is here exalted, or has its Price enhanc’d. On the contrary, its Calamitys are expos’d: the Disorders of the Passions set to view: Fortitude recommended: Honour advanc’d: the Contempt of Death plac’d as the peculiar Note of every generous and happy Soul; and the tenacious Love of Life, as the truest Character of an abject Wretch.
* Is it so hard to die?
’Tis not to be imagin’d how easily we deal with the deluding Apparitions and false Ideas of Happiness and Good; when this frightful Specter of Misery and Ill, is after this manner well laid, and by honest Magick conjur’d down; so as not to give the least assistance to the other tempting Forms. This is that occult Science, or sort of Counter-Necromancy, which instead of Ghastliness and Horror, inspires only what is gentle and humane, and dispels the imposing Phantoms of every kind. He may pass, undoubtedly, for no mean Conjurer, who can deal with Spirits of this sort.—But hold!—Let us try the Experiment in due form, and draw the magick Circle. Let us observe how the inferior Imps appear; when the Head-Goblin is securely laid!—
See! The EnchantressIndolence presents her-self, in all the Pomp of Ease and lazy Luxury. She promises the sweetest Life, and invites us to her Pillow: injoins us to expose our-selves to no adventurous Attempt; and forbids us any Engagement which may bring us into Action. “Where, then, are the Pleasures which Ambition promises, and Love affords? How is the gay World enjoy’d? Or are those to be esteem’d no Pleasures, which are lost by Dulness and Inaction?” “But Indolence is the highest Pleasure.” “To live, and not to feel!” “To feel no Trouble.” “What Good then?” “Life it-self.” “And is this properly to live? Is sleeping, Life? Is this what I shou’d study to prolong?”—Here the fantastick Tribe it-self seems scandaliz’d. A Civil War begins. The major part of the capricious Dames range themselves on Reason’s side, and declare against the languid Syren.Ambition blushes at the offer’d Sweet. Conceit and Vanity take superior Airs. Even Luxury her-self, in her polite and elegant Humour, reproves the Apostate-Sister, and marks her as an Alien to true Pleasure—“Away, thou drousy Phantom! Haunt me no more. For I have learn’d from better than thy Sisterhood, that Life and Happiness consist in Action and Employment.”
But here a busy Form sollicits us; active, industrious, watchful, and despising Pains and Labour. She wears the serious Countenance of Virtue, but with Features of Anxiety and Disquiet. What is it she mutters? What looks she on, with such Admiration and Astonishment?—Bags! Coffers! Heaps of shining Metal! “What! for the Service of Luxury? For her these Preparations? Art thou then her Friend (grave Fancy!) is it for her thou toil’st?” “No, but for Provision against Want.” “But, Luxury apart, tell me now, hast thou not already a Competence?” “’Tis good to be secure against the fear of Starving.” “Is there then no Death beside this? No other Passage out of Life? Are other Doors secur’d, if this be barr’d? Say, Avarice! (thou emptiest of Phantoms) is it not vile Cowardice thou serv’st? What further have I then to do with thee (thou doubly vile Dependent!) when once I have dismiss’d thy Patroness, and despis’d her Threats?”
Thus I contend with Fancy and *Opinion; and search the Mint and Foundery of Imagination. For here the Appetites and Desires are fabricated. Hence they derive their Privilege and Currency. If I can stop the Mischief here, and prevent false Coinage; I am safe. “Idea! wait a-while till I have examin’d thee, whence thou art, and to whom thou retain’st. Art thou of Ambition’s Train? Or dost thou promise only Pleasure? Say! what am I to sacrifice for thy sake? What Honour? What Truth? What Manhood?—What Bribe is it thou bring’st along with thee? Describe the flattering Object; but without Flattery; plain, as the thing is; without addition, without sparing or reserve. Is it Wealth? is it a Report? a Title? or a Female? Come not in a Troop, (ye Fancys!) Bring not your Objects crouding, to confound the Sight. But let me examine your Worth and Weight distinctly. Think not to raise accumulative Happiness. For if separately, you contribute nothing; in conjunction, you can only amuse.”
WHILST I am thus penning a Soliloquy in form, I can’t forbear reflecting on my Work. And when I view the Manner of it with a familiar Eye; I am readier, I find, to make my-self Diversion on this occasion, than to suppose I am in good earnest about a Work of consequence. “What! Am I to be thus fantastical? Must I busy my-self with Phantoms? fight with Apparitions and Chimeras?” “For certain: Or the Chimeras will be before-hand with me, and busy themselves so as to get the better of my Understanding.” “What! Talk to my-self like some Madman, in different Persons, and under different Characters?” “Undoubtedly: or ’twill be soon seen who is a real Madman, and changes Character in earnest, without knowing how to help it.”
This indeed is but too certain; That as long as we enjoy a Mind, as long as we have Appetites and Sense, the Fancys of all kinds will be hard at work; and whether we are in company, or alone, they must range still, and be active. They must have their Field. The Question is, Whether they shall have it wholly to themselves; or whether they shall acknowledg some Controuler or Manager. If none; ’tis this, I fear, which leads to Madness. ’Tis this, and nothing else, which can be call’d Madness, or Loss of Reason. For if Fancy be left Judg of any thing, she must be Judg of all. Every-thing is right, if anything be so, because I fansy it. “The House turns round. The Prospect turns.” “No, but my Head turns indeed: I have a Giddiness; that’s all. Fancy wou’d persuade me thus and thus: but I know better.” ’Tis by means therefore of a Controuler and Corrector of Fancy, that I am sav’d from being mad. Otherwise, ’tis the House turns, when I am giddy. ’Tis Things which change (for so I must suppose) when my Passion merely, or Temper changes. “But I was out of order. I dreamt.” “Who tells me this?” “Who besides the Correctrice, by whose means I am in my Wits, and without whom I am no longer my-self?”
Every Man indeed who is not absolutely beside himself, must of necessity hold his Fancys under some kind of Discipline and Management. The stricter this Discipline is, the more the Man is rational and in his Wits. The looser it is, the more fantastical he must be, and the nearer to the Madman’s State. This is a Business which can never stand still. I must always be Winner or Loser at the Game. Either I work upon my Fancys, or They on Me. If I give Quarter, They won’t. There can be no Truce, no Suspension of Arms between us. The one or the other must be superior, and have the Command. For if the Fancys are left to themselves, the Government must of course be theirs. And then, what difference between such a State and Madness?
The Question therefore is the same here, as in a Family, or Houshold, when ’tis ask’d, “Who rules? or Who is Master?”
Learn by the Voices. Observe who speaks aloud, in a commanding Tone: Who talks, who questions; or who is talk’d with, and who question’d. For if the Servants take the former part; they are the Masters, and the Government of the House will be found such as naturally may be expected in these Circumstances.
How stands it therefore, in my own OEconomy, my principal Province and Command? How stand my Fancys? How deal they with me? Or do I take upon me rather to deal with Them? Do I talk, question, arraign? Or am I talk’d with, arraign’d, and contented to hear, without giving a Reply? If I vote with Fancy, resign my *Opinion to her Command, and judg of Happiness and Misery as she judges; how am I my-self?”
He who in a Plain imagines Precipices at his Feet, impending Rocks over his Head; fears bursting Clouds in a clear Sky; cries Fire! Deluge! Earthquake, or Thunder! when all is quiet: does he not rave? But one whose Eyes seemingly strike fire, by a Blow; one whose Head is giddy from the Motion of a Ship, after having been newly set ashore; or one who from a Distemper in his Ear hears thundring Noises; can readily redress these several Apprehensions, and is by this means sav’d from Madness.
A Distemper in my Eye may make me see the strangest kind of Figures: And when Cataracts and other Impuritys are gathering in that Organ; Flies, Insects, and other various Forms, seem playing in the Air before me. But let my Senses err ever so widely; I am not on this account beside my-self: Nor am I out of my own Possession, whilst there is a Person left within; who has Power to dispute the Appearances, and redress the Imagination.
I am accosted by Ideas and striking Apprehensions: But I take nothing on their Report. I hear their Story, and return ’em Answer, as they deserve. Fancy and I are not all one. The Disagreement makes me my own. When, on the contrary, I have no Debate with her, no Controversy; but take for Happiness and Misery, for Good and Ill, whatever she presents as such; I must then join Voices with her, and cry Precipice! Fire!Cerberus!Elyzium!—
A Grecian Prince, who had the same Madness as Alexander, and was deeply struck with the Fancy of conquering Worlds, was ingeniously shewn the Method of expostulating with his Lady-Governess; when by a discreet Friend, and at an easy Hour, he was ask’d little by little concerning his Design, and the final Purpose, and promis’d Good which the flattering Dame propos’d to him. The Story is sufficiently noted. All the Artifice employ’d against the Prince was a well-manag’d Interrogatory of what next? Lady-Fancy was not aware of the Design upon her; but let her-self be worm’d out, by degrees. At first, she said the Prince’s design was only upon a Tract of Land, which stood out like a Promontory before him, and seem’d to eclipse his Glory. A fair rich Island, which was close by, presented it-self next, and as it were naturally invited Conquest. The opposite Coast came next in view. Then the Continent on each side the larger Sea. And then (what was easiest of all, and wou’d follow of course) the Dominion both of Sea and Land. “And What next? reply’d the Friend. What shall we do, when we are become thus happy, and have obtain’d our highest Wish?” “Why then, we’ll sit down peaceably, and be good Company over a Bottle.” “Alas, Sir! What hinders us from doing the same, where we now are? Will our Humour, or our Wine grow better? Shall we be more secure, or at Heart’s Ease? What you may possibly lose by these Attempts, is easy to conceive. But which way you will be a Gainer, your own Fancy (you see) cannot so much as suggest.” Fancy in the mean while carry’d her point: for she was absolute over the Monarch; and had been too little talk’d to by her-self, to bear being reprov’d in Company. The Prince grew sullen; turn’d the Discourse; abhor’d the Profanation offer’d to his Sovereign-Empress; deliver’d up his Thoughts to her again with deep Devotion, and fell to conquering with all his Might. The Sound of Victory rung in his Ears. Laurels and Crowns play’d before his Eyes.—What was this beside Giddiness and Dream? Appearances uncorrected? “Worlds dancing? Phantoms playing?”
“Seas of Milk, and Ships of Amber!”
’Tis easy to bring the Hero’s Case home to our-selves; and see, in the ordinary Circumstances of Life, how Love, Ambition, and the gayer Tribe of Fancys (as well as the gloomy and dark Specters of another sort) prevail over our Mind. ’Tis easy to observe how they work on us, when we refuse to be before-hand with ’em, and bestow repeated Lessons on the encroaching Sorceresses. On this it is, that our offer’d Advice, and Method of Soliloquy depends. And whether this be of any use towards making us either wiser, or happier; I am confident, it must help to make us wittier and politer. It must, beyond any other Science, teach us the Turns of Humour and Passion, the Variety of Manners, the Justness of Characters, and Truth of Things; which when we rightly understand, we may naturally describe. And on this depends chiefly the Skill and Art of a good Writer. So that if to write well be a just pretence to Merit; ’tis plain, that Writers, who are apt to set no small Value on their Art, must confess there is something valuable in this self-examining Practice, and Method of inward Colloquy.
As for the Writer of these Papers (as modern Authors are pleas’d modestly to style themselves) he is contented, for his part, to take up with this Practice, barely for his own proper Benefit; without regard to the high Function or Capacity of Author. It may be allow’d him, in this particular, to imitate the best Genius and most Gentleman-like of Roman Poets. And tho by an Excess of Dulness, it shou’d be his misfortune to learn nothing of this Poet’s Wit, he is persuaded he may learn something of his Honesty and good Humour.
* For I do not fail when my study-couch or a colonnade has received me. “This is more right; if I do thus, I shall live better; so my friends will be glad to meet me.” . . . These are my silent reflections with myself.†
Sect. 3.SECTION III
WE are now arriv’d to that part of our Performance, where it becomes us to cast our Eye back, on what has already pass’d. The Observers of Method generally make this the place of Recapitulation. Other Artists have substituted the Practice of Apology, or Extenuation. For the anticipating Manner of prefatory Discourse, is too well known, to work any surprizing effect in the Author’s behalf: Preface being become only another word to signify Excuse. Besides that the Author is generally the most straiten’d in that preliminary Part, which on other accounts is too apt to grow voluminous. He therefore takes the advantage of his Corollary or Winding-up; and ends pathetically, by endeavouring in the softest manner to reconcile his Reader to those Faults which he chuses rather to excuse than to amend.
General Practice has made this a necessary Part of Elegance, hardly to be pass’d over by any Writer. ’Tis the chief Stratagem by which he engages in personal Conference with his Reader; and can talk immoderately of Himself, with all the seeming Modesty of one who is the furthest from any selfish Views, or conceited Thoughts of his own Merit. There appears such a peculiar Grace and Ingenuity in the method of confessing Laziness, Precipitancy, Carelessness, or whatever other Vices have been the occasion of the Author’s Deficiency; that it wou’d seem a Pity, had the Work it-self been brought to such Perfection, as to have left no room for the penitent Party to enlarge on his own Demerits. For from the multiplicity of these, he finds Subject to ingratiate himself with his Reader; who doubtless is not a little rais’d by this Submission of a confessing Author; and is ready, on these terms, to give him Absolution, and receive him into his good Grace and Humour.
In the galante World, indeed, we easily find how far a Humility of this kind prevails. They who hope to rise by Merit, are likeliest to be disappointed in their Pretensions. The confessing Lover, who ascribes all to the Bounty of the Fair-one, meets his Reward the sooner, for having study’d less how to deserve it. For Merit is generally thought presumptuous, and suppos’d to carry with it a certain Assurance and Ease, with which a Mistress is not so well contented. The Claim of well-deserving seems to derogate from the pure Grace and Favour of the Benefactrice; who then appears to her-self most sovereign in Power, and likeliest to be obey’d without reserve, when she bestows her Bounty, where there is least Title, or Pretension.
Thus a certain Adoration of the Sex, which passes in our Age without the least Charge of Profaneness, or Idolatry, may, according to vulgar Imagination, serve to justify these galante Votarys, in the imitation of the real Religious and Devout. The method of * Self-abasement may perhaps be thought the properest to make Approaches to the sacred Shrines: And the intire Resignation of Merit, in each Case, may be esteem’d the only ground of well-deserving. But what we allow to Heaven, or to the Fair, shou’d not, methinks, be made a Precedent, in favour of the World. Whatever Deference is due to that Body of Men whom we call Readers; we may be suppos’d to treat ’em with sufficient Honour, if with thorow Diligence, and Pains, we endeavour to render our Works perfect; and leave ’em to judg of the Performance, as they are able.
However difficult or desperate it may appear in any Artist to endeavour to bring Perfection into his Work; if he has not at least the Idea ofPerfection to give him Aim, he will be found very defective and mean in his Performance. Tho his Intention be to please the World, he must nevertheless be, in a manner, above it; and fix his Eye upon that consummate Grace, that Beauty of Nature, and that Perfection of Numbers, which the rest of Mankind, feeling only by the Effect, whilst ignorant of the Cause, term the Je-ne-sçay-quoy, the unintelligible, or the I know not what; and suppose to be a kind of Charm, or Inchantment, of which the Artist himself can give no account.
BUT HERE, I find, I am tempted to do what I have my-self condemn’d. Hardly can I forbear making some Apology for my frequent Recourse to the Rules of common Artists, to the Masters of Exercise, to the Academys of Painters, Statuarys, and to the rest of the Virtuoso-Tribe. But in this I am so fully satisfy’d I have Reason on my side, that let Custom be ever so strong against me, I had rather repair to these inferior Schools, to search for Truth, and Nature; than to some other Places, where higher Arts and Sciences are profess’d.
I am persuaded that to be a Virtuoso (so far as befits a Gentleman) is a higher step towards the becoming a Man of Virtue and good Sense, than the being what in this Age we call *a Scholar. For even rude Nature it-self, in its primitive Simplicity, is a better Guide to Judgment, than improv’d Sophistry, and pedantick Learning. The Faciunt, nae, intellegendo, ut nihil intellegant, will be ever apply’d by Men of Discernment and free Thought to such Logick, such Principles, such Forms and Rudiments of Knowledg, as are establish’d in certain Schools of Literature and Science. The case is sufficiently understood even by those who are unwilling to confess the Truth of it. Effects betray their Causes. And the known Turn and Figure of those Understandings, which sprout from Nurserys of this kind, give a plain Idea of what is judg’d on this occasion. ’Tis no wonder, if after so wrong a ground of Education, there appears to be such need of Redress, and Amendment, from that excellent School which we call the World. The mere Amusements of Gentlemen are found more improving than the profound Researches of Pedants. And in the Management of our Youth, we are forc’d to have recourse to the former; as an Antidote against the Genius peculiar to the latter. If the Formalists of this sort were erected into Patentees, with a sole Commission of Authorship; we shou’d undoubtedly see such Writing in our days, as wou’d either wholly wean us from all Books in general, or at least from all such as were the product of our own Nation, under such a subordinate and conforming Government.
However this may prove, there can be no kind of Writing which relates to Men and Manners, where it is not necessary for the Author * to understand Poetical and MoralTruth,the Beauty of Sentiments, the Sublime of Characters; and carry in his Eye the Model or Exemplar of that natural Grace, which gives to every Action its attractive Charm. If he has naturally no Eye, or Ear, for these interior Numbers; ’tis not likely he shou’d be able to judg better of that exterior Proportion and Symmetry of Composition, which constitutes a legitimate Piece.
Cou’d we once convince our-selves of what is in it-self so evident; * “That in the very nature of Things there must of necessity be the Foundation of a right and wrong Taste, as well in respect of inward Characters and Features, as of outward Person, Behaviour, and Action”; we shou’d be far more asham’d of Ignorance and wrong Judgment in the former, than in the latter of these Subjects. Even in the Arts, which are mere Imitations of that outward Grace and Beauty, we not only confess a Taste; but make it a part of refin’d Breeding, to discover, amidst the many false Manners and ill Styles, the true and natural one, which represents the real Beauty and †Venus of the kind. ’Tis the like moralGrace, and Venus, which discovering it-self in the Turns of Character, and the variety of human Affection, is copy’d by the writing Artist. If he knows not this Venus, these Graces, nor was ever struck with the Beauty, the Decorum of this inward kind, he can neither paint advantageously after the Life, nor in a feign’d Subject, where he has full scope. For ‡ never can he, on these Terms, represent Merit and Virtue, or mark Deformity and Blemish. Never can he with Justice and true Proportion assign the Boundarys of either Part, or separate the distant Characters. The Schemes must be defective, and the Draughts confus’d, where the Standard is weakly establish’d, and the Measure out of use. Such a Designer, who has so little Feeling of these Proportions, so little Consciousness of this Excellence, or these Perfections, will never be found able to describe a perfect Character; or, what is more according to Art, ** “express the Effect and Force of this Perfection, from the Result of various and mixt Characters of Life.” And thus the Sense of inward Numbers, the Knowledg and Practice of the social Virtues, and the Familiarity and Favour of the moralGraces, are essential to the Character of a deserving Artist, and just Favourite of the Muses. Thus are the Arts and Virtues mutually Friends: and thus the Science of Virtuoso’s, and that of Virtue it-self, become, in a manner, one and the same.
One who aspires to the Character of a Man of Breeding and Politeness, is careful to form his Judgment of Arts and Sciences upon right Models of Perfection. If he travels to Rome, he inquires which are the truest Pieces of Architecture, the best Remains of Statues, the best Paintings of a Raphael, or a Carache. However antiquated, rough, or dismal they may appear to him, at first sight; he resolves to view ’em over and over, till he has brought himself to relish ’em, and finds their hidden Graces and Perfections. He takes particular care to turn his Eye from every thing which is gaudy, luscious, and of a false Taste. Nor is he less careful to turn his Ear from every sort of Musick, besides that which is of the best Manner, and truest Harmony.
’Twere to be wish’d we had the same regard to a rightTaste in Life and Manners. What Mortal, being once convinc’d of a difference in inward Character, and of a Preference due to one Kind above another; wou’d not be concern’d to make his own the best? If Civility and Humanity be a Taste; if Brutality, Insolence, Riot, be in the same manner a Taste; who, if he cou’d reflect, wou’d not chuse to form himself on the amiable and agreeable, rather than the odious and perverse Model? Who wou’d not endeavour to forceNature as well in this respect, as in what relates to a Taste or Judgment in other Arts and Sciences? For in each place the Force onNature is us’d only for its Redress. If a natural goodTaste be not already form’d in us; why shou’d not we endeavour to form it, and become natural?—
“I like! I fansy! I admire!” “How?” “By accident: or as I please.” “No. But I learn to fansy, to admire, to please, as the Subjects themselves are deserving, and can bear me out. Otherwise, I like at this hour, but dislike the next. I shall be weary of my Pursuit, and, upon experience, find little *Pleasure in the main, if my Choice and Judgment in it be from no other Rule than that single one, becauseI please. Grotesque and monstrous Figures often please. Cruel Spectacles, and Barbaritys are also found to please, and, in some Tempers, to please beyond all other Subjects. But is this Pleasure right? And shall I follow it, if it presents? Not strive with it, or endeavour to prevent its growth or prevalency in my Temper?—How stands the case in a more soft and flattering kind of Pleasure?—Effeminacy pleases me. The Indian Figures, the Japan-Work, the Enamel strikes my Eye. The luscious Colours and glossy Paint gain upon my Fancy. A French or Flemish Style is highly lik’d by me, at first sight; and I pursue my liking. But what ensues?—Do I not for ever forfeit my good Relish? How is it possible I shou’d thus come to taste the Beautys of an Italian Master, or of a Hand happily form’d on Nature and the Antients? ’Tis not by Wantonness and Humour that I shall attain my End, and arrive at the Enjoyment I propose. The Art it-self is * severe: the Rules rigid. And if I expect the Knowledg shou’d come to me by accident, or in play; I shall be grosly deluded, and prove my-self, at best, a Mock-Virtuoso, or mere Pedant of the kind.”
HERE therefore we have once again exhibited our moral Science in the same Method and Manner of Soliloquy as above. To this Correction of Humour and Formation of a Taste, our Reading, if it be of the right sort, must principally contribute. Whatever Company we keep; or however polite and agreeable their Characters may be, with whom we converse, or correspond: if the Authors we read are of another kind, we shall find our Palat strangely turn’d their way. We are the unhappier in this respect, for being Scholars; if our Studys be ill chosen. Nor can I, for this reason, think it proper to call a Man well-read who reads many Authors; since he must of necessity have more ill Models, than good; and be more stuff’d with Bombast, ill Fancy, and wry Thought; than fill’d with solid Sense, and just Imagination.
But notwithstanding this hazard of our Taste, from a Multiplicity of Reading; we are not, it seems, the least scrupulous in our choice of Subject. We read whatever comes next us. What was first put into our hand, when we were young, serves us afterwards for serious Study, and wise Research, when we are old. We are many of us, indeed, so grave as to continue this Exercise of Youth thro’ our remaining Life. The exercising-Authors of this kind have been above * describ’d, in the beginning of this Treatise. The Manner of Exercise is call’d Meditation, and is of a sort so solemn and profound, that we dare not so much as thorowly examine the Subject on which we are bid to meditate. This is a sort of Task-Reading, in which a Taste is not permitted. How little soever we take of this Diet; ’tis sufficient to give full Exercise to our grave Humour, and allay the Appetite towards further Research and solid Contemplation. The rest is Holiday, Diversion, Play, and Fancy. We reject all Rule; as thinking it an Injury to our Diversions, to have regard to Truth or Nature: without which, however, nothing can be truly agreeable, or entertaining; much less, instructive, or improving. Thro’ a certain † Surfeit taken in a wrong kind of serious Reading, we apply our-selves, with full content, to the most ridiculous. The more remote our Pattern is from any thing moral or profitable; the more Freedom and Satisfaction we find in it. We care not how Gothick or Barbarous our Models are; what ill-design’d or monstrous Figures we view; or what false Proportions we trace, or see describ’d in History, Romance, or Fiction. And thus our Eye and Ear is lost. Our Relish or Taste must of necessity grow barbarous, whilst Barbarian Customs, Savage Manners, Indian Wars, and Wonders of the Terra Incognita, employ our leisure Hours, and are the chief Materials to furnish out a Library.
These are in our present Days, what Books of Chivalry were, in those of our Forefathers. I know not what Faith our valiant Ancestors may have had in the Storys of their Giants, their Dragons, and St. George’s. But for our Faith indeed, as well as our Taste, in this other way of reading; I must confess I can’t consider it, without Astonishment.
It must certainly be something else than Incredulity, which fashions the Taste and Judgment of many Gentlemen, whom we hear censur’d as Atheists, for attempting to philosophize after a newer manner than any known of late. For my own part, I have ever thought this sort of Men to be in general more credulous, tho after another manner, than the mere Vulgar. Besides what I have observ’d in Conversation with the Men of this Character, I can produce many anathematiz’d Authors, who if they want a true Israelitish Faith, can make amends by a Chinese or Indian one. If they are short in Syria, or the Palestine; they have their full measure in America, or Japan. Historys of Incas or Iroquois, written by Fryers and Missionarys, Pirates and Renegades, Sea-Captains and trusty Travellers, pass for authentick Records, and are canonical, with the Virtuoso’s of this sort. Tho Christian Miracles may not so well satisfy ’em; they dwell with the highest Contentment on the Prodigys of Moorish and Pagan Countrys. They have far more Pleasure in hearing the monstrous Accounts of monstrous Men, and Manners; than the politest and best Narrations of the Affairs, the Governments, and Lives of the wisest and most polish’d People.
’Tis the same Taste which makes us prefer a Turkish History to a Grecian, or a Roman; an Ariosto to a Virgil; and a Romance, or Novel, to an Iliad. We have no regard to the Character or Genius of our Author: nor are so far curious, as to observe how able he is in the Judgment of Facts, or how ingenious in the Texture of his Lyes. For Facts unably related, tho with the greatest Sincerity, and good Faith, may prove the worst sort of Deceit: And mere Lyes, judiciously compos’d, can teach us the * Truth of Things, beyond any other manner. But to amuse our-selves with such Authors as neither know how to lye, nor tell truth, discovers a Taste, which methinks one shou’d not be apt to envy. Yet so enchanted we are with the travelling Memoirs of any casual Adventurer; that be his Character, or Genius, what it will, we have no sooner turn’d over a Page or two, than we begin to interest our-selves highly in his Affairs. No sooner has he taken Shipping at the Mouth of the Thames, or sent his Baggage before him to Gravesend, or Buoy in the Nore, than strait our Attention is earnestly taken up. If in order to his more distant Travels, he takes some Part of Europe in his way; we can with patience hear of Inns and Ordinarys, Passage-Boats and Ferrys, foul and fair Weather; with all the Particulars of the Author’s Diet, Habit of Body, his personal Dangers and Mischances, on Land, and Sea. And thus, full of desire and hope, we accompany him, till he enters on his great Scene of Action, and begins by the Description of some enormous Fish, or Beast. From monstrous Brutes he proceeds to yet more monstrous Men. For in this Race of Authors, he is ever compleatest, and of the first Rank, who is able to speak of Things the most unnatural and monstrous.
This Humour our * old Tragick Poet seems to have discover’d. He hit our Taste in giving us a Moorish Hero, full fraught with Prodigy: a wondrous Story-teller! But for the attentive Part, the Poet chose to give it to Woman-kind. What passionate Reader of Travels, or Student in the prodigious Sciences, can refuse to pity that fair Lady, who fell in Love with the miraculousMoor; especially considering with what sutable grace such a Lover cou’d relate the most monstrous Adventures, and satisfy the wondring Appetite with the most wondrous Tales; Wherein (says the Hero-Traveller)
Seriously, ’twas a woful Tale! unfit, one wou’d think, to win a tender Fair-one. It’s true, the Poet sufficiently condemns her Fancy; and makes her (poor Lady!) pay dearly for it, in the end. But why, amongst his Greek Names, he shou’d have chosen one which denoted the Lady Superstitious, I can’t imagine: unless, as Poets are sometimes Prophets too, he shou’d figuratively, under this dark Type, have represented to us, That about a hundred Years after his Time, the Fair Sex of this Island shou’d, by other monstrous Tales, be so seduc’d, as to turn their Favour chiefly on the Persons of the Tale-tellers; and change their natural Inclination for fair, candid, and courteous Knights, into a Passion for a mysterious Race of black Enchanters: such as of old were said to creep into Houses, and lead captive silly Women.
’Tis certain there is a very great Affinity between the Passion of Superstition, and that of Tales. The Love of strange Narrations, and the ardent Appetite towards unnatural Objects, has a near Alliance with the like Appetite towards the supernatural kind, such as are call’d prodigious, and of dire Omen. For so the Mind forebodes, on every such unusual Sight or Hearing. Fate, Destiny, or the Anger of Heaven, seems denoted, and as it were delineated, by the monstrous Birth, the horrid Fact, or dire Event. For this reason the very Persons of such Relators or Tale-tellers, with a small help of dismal Habit, sutable Countenance and Tone, become sacred and tremendous in the Eyes of Mortals, who are thus addicted from their Youth. The tender Virgins, losing their natural Softness, assume this tragick Passion, of which they are highly susceptible, especially when a sutable kind of Eloquence and Action attends the Character of the Narrator. A thousand Desdemona’s are then ready to present themselves, and wou’d frankly resign Fathers, Relations, Country-men, and Country it-self, to follow the Fortunes of a Hero of the black Tribe.
But whatever monstrous Zeal, or superstitious Passion, the Poet might foretel, either in the Gentlemen, Ladys, or common People, of an after Age; ’tis certain that as to Books, the same Moorish Fancy, in its plain and literal sense, prevails strongly at this present time. Monsters and Monster-Lands were never more in request: And we may often see a Philosopher, or a Wit, run a Tale-gathering in those idle Desarts, as familiarly as the silliest Woman, or merest Boy.
ONE WOU’D imagine, that * our Philosophical Writers, who pretend to treat of Morals, shou’d far out-do mere Poets, in recommending Virtue, and representing what was fair and amiable in human Actions. One wou’d imagine, that if they turn’d their Eye towards remote Countrys, (of which they affect so much to speak) they shou’d search for that Simplicity of Manners, and Innocence of Behaviour, which has been often known among mere Savages; ere they were corrupted by our Commerce, and, by sad Example, instructed in all kinds of Treachery and Inhumanity. ’Twou’d be of advantage to us, to hear the Causes of this strange Corruption in our-selves, and be made to consider of our Deviation from Nature, and from that just Purity of Manners which might be expected, especially from a People so assisted and enlighten’d by Religion. For who wou’d not naturally expect more Justice, Fidelity, Temperance, and Honesty, from Christians, than from Mahometans, or mere Pagans? But so far are our modern Moralists from condemning any unnatural Vices, or corrupt Manners, whether in our own or foreign Climates, that they wou’d have Vice it-self appear as natural as Virtue; and from the worst Examples, wou’d represent to us, “That all Actions are naturally indifferent; that they have no Note or Character of Good, or Ill, in themselves; but are distinguish’d by mere Fashion, Law, or arbitraryDecree.’’ Wonderful Philosophy! rais’d from the Dregs of an illiterate mean kind, which was ever despis’d among the great Antients, and rejected by all Men of Action, or sound Erudition; but, in these Ages, imperfectly copy’d from the Original, and, with much Disadvantage, imitated and assum’d, in common, both by devout and indevout Attempters in the moral kind.
Shou’d a Writer upon Musick, addressing himself to the Students and Lovers of the Art, declare to ’em, “That the Measure or Rule of Harmony was Caprice or Will, Humour or Fashion”; ’tis not very likely he shou’d be heard with great Attention, or treated with real Gravity. For Harmony is Harmony by Nature, let Men judg ever so ridiculously of Musick. So is Symmetry and Proportion founded still in Nature, let Mens Fancy prove ever so barbarous, or their Fashions ever so Gothick in their Architecture, Sculpture, or whatever other designing Art. ’Tis the same case, where Life and Manners are concern’d. Virtue has the same fix’d Standard. The same Numbers, Harmony, and Proportion will have place in Morals; and are discoverable in the Characters and Affections of Mankind; in which are laid the just Foundations of an Art and Science, superior to every other of human Practice and Comprehension.
This, I suppose therefore, is highly necessary, that a Writer shou’d comprehend. For Things are stubborn, and will not be as we fansy ’em, or as the Fashion varys, but as they stand in Nature. Now whether the Writer be Poet, Philosopher, or of whatever kind; he is in truth no other than a Copist afterNature. His Style may be differently suted to the different Times he lives in, or to the different Humour of his Age or Nation: His Manner, his Dress, his Colouring may vary. But if his Drawing be uncorrect, or his Design contrary to Nature; his Piece will be found ridiculous, when it comes thorowly to be examin’d. For Nature will not be mock’d. The Prepossession against her can never be very lasting. Her Decrees and Instincts are powerful; and her Sentiments in-bred. She has a strong Party abroad; and as strong a one within our-selves: And when any Slight is put upon her, she can soon turn the Reproach, and make large Reprisals on the Taste and Judgment of her Antagonists.
Whatever Philosopher, Critick, or Author is convinc’d of this Prerogative of Nature, will easily be persuaded to apply himself to the great Work of reforming hisTaste; which he will have reason to suspect, if he be not such a one as has deliberately endeavour’d to frame it by the justStandard of Nature. Whether this be his Case, he will easily discover, by appealing to his Memory. For Custom and Fashion are powerful Seducers: And he must of necessity have fought hard against these, to have attain’d that Justness of Taste, which is requir’d in one who pretends to follow Nature. But if no such Conflict can be call’d to mind; ’tis a certain token that the Party has his Taste very little different from the Vulgar. And on this account he shou’d instantly betake himself to the wholesom Practice recommended in this Treatise. He shou’d set afoot the powerfullest Facultys of his Mind, and assemble the best Forces of his Wit and Judgment, in order to make a formal Descent on the Territorys of the Heart: resolving to decline no Combat, nor hearken to any Terms, till he had pierc’d into its inmost Provinces, and reach’d the Seat of Empire. No Treatys shou’d amuse him; no Advantages lead him aside. All other Speculations shou’d be suspended, all other Mysterys resign’d; till this necessary Campaign was made, and these inward Conflicts learnt; by which he wou’d be able to gain at least some tolerable insight into himself, and Knowledg of his own natural Principles.
IT MAY here perhaps be thought, that notwithstanding the particular Advice we have given, in relation to the forming of a Taste in natural Characters and Manners; we are still defective in our Performance, whilst we are silent on super-natural Cases, and bring not into our consideration the Manners and Characters deliver’d us in Holy Writ. But this Objection will soon vanish, when we consider, that there can be no Rules given by human Wit, to that which was never humanly conceiv’d, but divinely dictated, and inspir’d.
For this Reason, ’twou’d be in vain for any * Poet, or ingenious Author, to form his Characters, after the Models of our sacred Penmen. And whatever certain Criticks may have advanc’d concerning the Structure of a heroick Poem of this kind; I will be bold to prophesy, that the Success will never be answerable to Expectation.
It must be own’d, that in our sacred History we have both Leaders, Conquerors, Founders of Nations, Deliverers, and Patriots, who, even in a human Sense, are noway behind the chief of those so much celebrated by the Antients. There is nothing in the Story of AEneas, which is not equal’d or exceeded by a Joshua or a Moses. But as illustrious as are the Acts of these sacred Chiefs, ’twou’d be hard to copy them in just Heroick. ’Twou’d be hard to give to many of ’em that grateful Air, which is necessary to render ’em naturally pleasing to Mankind; according to the Idea Men are universally found to have of Heroism, and Generosity.
Notwithstanding the pious Endeavours which, as devout Christians, we may have us’d in order to separate ourselves from the Interests of mere Heathens, and Infidels; notwithstanding the true pains we may have taken, to arm our Hearts in behalf of a chosen People, against their neighbouring Nations, of a false Religion, and Worship; there will be still found such a Partiality remaining in us, towards Creatures of the same Make and Figure with our-selves, as will hinder us from viewing with Satisfaction the Punishments inflicted by human Hands on such Aliens and Idolaters.
In mere Poetry, and the Pieces of Wit and Literature, there is a Liberty of Thought and Easiness of Humour indulg’d to us, in which perhaps we are not so well able to contemplate the Divine Judgments, and see clearly into the Justice of those Ways, which are declared to be so far from our Ways, and above our highest Thoughts or Understandings. In such a Situation of Mind, we can hardly endure to see Heathen treated as Heathen, and the Faithful made the Executioners of the Divine Wrath. There is a certain perverse Humanity in us, which inwardly resists the Divine Commission, tho ever so plainly reveal’d. The Wit of the best Poet is not sufficient to reconcile us to the Campaign of a Joshua, or the Retreat of a Moses, by the assistance of an EgyptianLoan. Nor will it be possible, by the Muses Art, to make that Royal Hero appear amiable in human Eyes, who found such Favour in the Eye of Heaven. Such are mere human Hearts; that they can hardly find the least Sympathy with that only one which had the Character of being after the Pattern of the Almighty’s.
’Tis apparent therefore that the Manners, Actions, and Characters of Sacred Writ, are in no wise the proper Subject of other Authors than Divines themselves. They are Matters incomprehensible in Philosophy: They are above the pitch of the mere human Historian, the Politician, or the Moralist; and are too sacred to be submitted to the Poet’s Fancy, when inspir’d by no other Spirit than that of his profane Mistresses, theMuses.
I shou’d be unwilling to examine rigorously the Performance of our great * Poet, who sung so piously the Fall of Man. The War in Heaven, and the Catastrophe of that original Pair from whom the Generations of Mankind were propagated, are Matters so abstrusely reveal’d, and with such a resemblance of Mythology, that they can more easily bear what figurative Construction or fantastick Turn the Poet may think fit to give ’em. But shou’d he venture farther, into the Lives and Characters of the Patriarchs, the holy Matrons, Heroes and Heroines of the chosen Seed; shou’d he employ the sacred Machine, the Exhibitions and Interventions of Divinity, according to Holy Writ, to support the Action of his Piece; he wou’d soon find the Weakness of his pretended OrthodoxMuse, and prove how little those Divine Patterns were capable of human Imitation, or of being rais’d to any other Majesty, or Sublime, than that in which they originally appear.
The Theology, or Theogony, of the Heathens cou’d admit of such different Turns and figurative Expressions, as suted the Fancy and Judgment of each Philosopher or Poet. But the Purity of our Faith will admit of no such Variation. The ChristianTheology; the Birth, Procedure, Generation, and personal Distinction of the Divinity, are Mysterys only to be determin’d by the initiated, or ordain’d; to whom the State has assign’d the Guardianship and Promulgation of the Divine Oracles. It becomes not those who are un-inspir’d from Heaven, and un-commission’d from Earth, to search with Curiosity into the Original of those holy Rites and Records, by Law establish’d. Should we make such an Attempt, we should in probability find the less Satisfaction, the further we presum’d to carry our Speculations. Having dar’d once to quit the Authority and Direction of the Law, we shou’d easily be subject to Heterodoxy and Error, when we had no better Warrant left us for the Authority of our sacred Symbols, than the Integrity, Candour, and Disinterestedness of their Compilers, and Registers. How great that Candour and Disinterestedness may have been, we have no other Historys to inform us, than those of their own licensing or composing. But busy Persons, who officiously search into these Records, are ready even from hence to draw Proofs very disadvantageous to the Fame and Character of this Succession of Men. And Persons moderately read in these Historys, are apt to judg no otherwise of the Temper of antient Councils, than by that of later Synods and modern Convocations.
When we add to this the melancholy Consideration of what Disturbances have been rais’d from the Disputes of this kind; what Effusion of Blood, what Devastations of Provinces, what Shock and Ruin of Empires have been occasion’d by Controversys, founded on the nicest Distinction of an Article relating to these Mysterys; ’twill be judg’d vain in any Poet, or polite Author, to think of rendring himself agreeable, or entertaining, whilst he makes such Subjects as these to be his Theme.
But tho the Explanation of such deep Mysterys, and religious Dutys, be allotted as the peculiar Province of the sacred Order; ’tis presum’d, nevertheless, that it may be lawful for other Authors to retain their antient Privilege of instructing Mankind, in a way of Pleasure, and Entertainment. Poets may be allow’d their Fictions, and Philosophers their Systems. ’Twou’d go hard with Mankind, shou’d the Patentees for Religion be commission’d for all Instruction and Advice, relating to Manners, or Conversation. The Stage may be allow’d to instruct, as well as the Pulpit. The way of Wit and Humour may be serviceable, as well as that of Gravity and Seriousness: And the way of plain Reason as well as that of exalted Revelation. The main matter is to keep these Provinces distinct, and settle their just Boundarys. And on this account it is that we have endeavour’d to represent to modern Authors the necessity of making this Separation justly, and in due form.
’Twould be somewhat hard, methinks, if Religion,as by Law*establish’d, were not allow’d the same Privilege as Heraldry. ’Tis agreed on all hands, that particular Persons may design or paint, in their private Capacity, after what manner they think fit: But they must blazon only as the Publick directs. Their Lion or Bear must be figur’d as the Science appoints; and their Supporters and Crest must be such as their wise and gallant Ancestors have procur’d for ’em. No matter whether the Shapes of these Animals hold just Proportion with Nature. No matter tho different or contrary Forms are join’d in one. That which is deny’d to Painters, or Poets, is permitted to Heralds.Naturalists may, in their separate and distinct Capacity, inquire, as they think fit, into the real Existence and natural Truth of Things: But they must by no means dispute the authoriz’d Forms. Mermaids and Griffins were the Wonder of our Forefathers; and, as such, deliver’d down to us by the authentick Traditions and Delineations above-mention’d. We ought not so much as to criticize the Features or Dimensions of a Saracen’s Face, brought by our conquering Ancestors from the holy Wars; nor pretend to call in question the Figure or Size of a Dragon, on which the History of our national Champion, and the Establishment of a high Order, and Dignity of the Realm, depends.
But as worshipful as are the Persons of the illustrious Heralds Clarencieux, Garter, and the rest of those eminent Sustainers of British Honour, and Antiquity; ’tis to be hop’d that in a more civiliz’d Age, such as at present we have the good fortune to live in, they will not attempt to strain their Privileges to the same height as formerly. Having been reduc’d by Law, or settled Practice, from the Power they once enjoy’d, they will not, ’tis presum’d, in defiance of the Magistrate and Civil Power, erect anew their Stages, and Lists, introduce the manner of civil Combat, set us to Tilt and Turnament, and raise again those Defiances, and mortal Frays, of which their Order were once the chief Managers, and Promoters.
TO CONCLUDE: The only Method which can justly qualify us for this high Privilege of giving Advice, is, in the first place, to receive it, our-selves, with due Submission; where the Publick has vouchsaf’d to give it us, by Authority. And if in our private Capacity, we can have Resolution enough to criticize ourselves, and call in question our high Imaginations, florid Desires, and specious Sentiments, according to the manner of Soliloquy above prescrib’d; we shall, by the natural course of things, as we grow wiser, prove less conceited; and introduce into our Character that Modesty, Condescension, and just Humanity which is essential to the Success of all friendly Counsel and Admonition. An honest Home-Philosophy must teach us the wholesom Practice within our-selves. Polite Reading, and Converse with Mankind of the better sort, will qualify us for what remains.
The End of the First Volume.
This book is set in Adobe Garamond. Robert Slimbach modeled his design of Claude Garamond’s type on sixteenth-century original manuscripts. The companion italic was drawn from the types of Robert Granjon, a contemporary of Garamond.
This book is printed on paper that is acid-free and meets the requirements of the American National Standard for Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, z39.48-1992. (archival)
Book design by Louise OFarrell,
Typography by Tseng Information Systems, Inc.,
Durham, North Carolina
Printed and bound by Edwards Brothers, Inc.,
Ann Arbor, Michigan
[* ]Scriptorum chorus omnis amat nemus, & fugit urbes.Hor. Epist. 2. lib. 2.
[* ]Aut insanit Homo, aut versus facit—Hor. Sat. 7. lib. 2.
[† ]Murmura cùm secum & rabiosa silentia rodunt.Pers. Sat. 3.
[* ] VOL. III. p. 239, 240, 241 in the Notes.
[* ]Infra, p. 324. And VOL. III. p. 198, 199.
[1 ]Tecum habita, & nôris quàm sit tibi curta supellex.Pers. Sat. 4.
[* ] See even the dissolute Petronius’s Judgment of a Writer.
[* ]Infra, pag. 254 in the Notes.
[* ] Ὅμηρος δὲ ἄλλα τε πολλὰ ἄξιος ἐπαινει̑σθαι, καὶ δὴ καὶ ὅτι μόνος τω̑ν ποιητω̑ν, οὐκ ἀγνοει̑ ὃ δει̑ ποιει̑ν αὐτὸν. αὐτὸν γὰρ δει̑ τὸν ποιητὴν ἐλάχιστα λέγειν· οὐ γάρ ἐστι κατὰ ταυ̑τα μιμητὴς· οἱ μὲν οὐ̑ν ἄλλοι, αὐτοὶ μὲν δἰ ὅλου ἀγωνίζονται, μιμου̑νται δὲ ὀλίγα καὶ ὀλιγάκις. [Homer, excellent in many other respects, is specially so because he is the only poet who knows what part to take himself. For the poet in his own person should speak as little as may be, for it is not his speaking which makes him an imitator. Now, other poets are on the stage themselves all the time, but their imitations are short and few.] Arist. de Poet. cap. 24.
[* ]Infra, pag. 246, 253 in the Notes.
[† ] Not only in his Margites, but even in his Iliad and Odyssee.
[* ] The Maxim will hardly be disprov’d by Fact or History, either in respect of Philosophers themselves, or others who were the great Genius’s or Masters in the liberal Arts. The Characters of the two best Roman Poets are well known. Those of the antient Tragedians no less. And the great Epick Master, tho of an obscurer and remoter Age, was ever presum’d to be far enough from a vile or knavish Character. The Roman as well as the Grecian Orator was true to his Country; and died in like manner a Martyr for its Liberty. And those Historians who are of highest value, were either in a private Life approv’d good Men, or noted such by their Actions in the Publick. As for Poets in particular, says the learned and wise Strabo, “Can we possibly imagine, that the Genius, Power, and Excellence of a real Poet consists in aught else than the just Imitation of Life, in form’d Discourse and Numbers? But how shou’d he be that just Imitator of Life, whilst he himself knows not its Measures, nor how to guide himself by Judgment and Understanding? For we have not surely the same Notion of the Poet’s Excellence as of the ordinary Craftsman’s, the Subject of whose Art is sensless Stone or Timber, without Life, Dignity, or Beauty: whilst the Poet’s Art turning principally on Men and Manners, he has his Virtue and Excellence, as Poet, naturally annex’d to human Excellence, and to the Worth and Dignity of Man. Insomuch that ’tis impossible he shou’d be a great and worthy Poet, who is not first a worthy and good Man.” οὐ γάρ οὕτω φαμὲν τὴν τω̑ν ποιητω̑ν ἀρετὴν ὡς ἢ τεκτόνων ἢ χαλκέων, &c. ἡ δὲ ποιητου̑ συνέζευκται τῃ̑ του̑ ἀνθρώπου. καὶ οὐχ οι̑όν τὲ ἀγαθὸν γενέσθαι ποιητὴν, μὴ πρότερον γενηθέντα ἄνδρα ἀγαθόν—. [For, we do not say that the virtue of the poets is like that of carpenters or blacksmiths, etc. Rather, the poet’s virtue yokes itself to human virtue. And it is not possible to become a good poet, unless one first has become a good man.] Lib. 1. See below, pag. 278, 337 and 350, 351 in the Notes. And VOL. III. pag. 247, 248, 249, 273, 282.
[* ] VOL. III. p. 263, 264.
[* ]Infra, p. 269, 270 in the Notes.
[* ]Infra, p. 239, 341, 342 in the Notes.
[* ] [Not till late did the Roman apply his shrewdness to the books of Greece; and it was when resting after the Punic Wars that he began to inquire what useful thing Sophocles and Thespis and Aeschylus offered.]
[* ]Infra, p. 329, 330. And VOL. III. p. 259, 277 in the Notes.
[2 ] Odi profanum vulgus & arceo. Hor. Odes, I. iii. 1.
[* ]Ludentis speciem dabit & torquebitur—Hor. Epist. 2. lib. 2.
[* ] As to this, and what remains of the Section, see VOL. III. p. 136, &c.
[* ] Λέξεως δὲ ἀρετὴ, σαφη̑ καὶ μὴ ταπεινὴν εἰ̑ναι. Σαφεστάτη μὲν οὐ̑ν ἐστιν ἡ ἐκ τω̑ν κυρίων ὀνομάτων, ἀλλὰ ταπεινή. . . . Σεμνὴ δὲ καὶ ἐξαλλάττουσα τὸ ἰδιωτικὸν, ἡ τοι̑ς ξενικοι̑ς κεχρημένη. ξενικὸν δὲ λέγω, γλω̑τταν, καὶ μεταφορὰν, καὶ ἐπέκτασιν, καὶ πα̑ν τὸ παρὰ τὸ κύριον. Ἀλλ’ ἄν τις ἅμα ἅπαντα τὰ τοιαυ̑τα ποιήσῃ, ἢ αἴνιγμα ἔσται, ἢ βαρβαρισμός. Ἂν μεν οὐ̑ν ἐκ μεταφορω̑ν, αἴνιγμα, ἐὰν δὲ ἐκ γλωττω̑ν, βαρβαρισμός. Arist. de Poet. cap. 22. [The excellence of diction is to be clear without being mean. Clearest is the diction which is made up of usual words, but it is mean. . . . That is majestic and free from commonplace which uses strange words. By strange I mean out-of-the-way words, or metaphorical, or extended in usage; in fact all which are unusual. But if a man compose in such words only, his composition will be either a riddle or gibberish: if he compose in metaphors, a riddle; if in out-of-the-way words, gibberish too.] This the same Master-Critick explains further in his Rhetoricks, Lib. 3. cap. 1. where he refers to these Passages of his Poeticks. Ἐπεὶ δὲ οἱ Ποιηταὶ λέγοντες εὐήθη, διὰ τὴν λέξιν ἐδόκουν πορίσασθαι τήνδε τὴν δόξαν, διὰ του̑το ποιητικὴ πρώτη ἐγένετο λέξις. * * * καὶ νυ̑ν ἔτι οἱ πολλοὶ τω̑ν ἀπαιδεύτων τοὺς τοιούτους οἴονται διαλέγεσθαι κάλλιστα. του̑το δ’ οὐκ ἔστιν. * * * οὐδὲ γὰρ οἱ τὰς τραγῳδίας ποιου̑ντες ἔτι χρω̑νται τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον. Ἀλλ’ ὥσπερ καὶ ἐκ ὠ̑ν τετραμέτρων εἰς τὸ ἰαμβει̑ον μετέβησαν, διὰ τὸ τῳ̑ λόγῳ του̑το τω̑ν μέτρων ὁμοιότατον ει̑ναι τω̑ν ἄλλων· οὕτω καὶ τω̑ν ὀνομάτων ἀφείκασιν, ὅσα παρὰ τὴν διάλεκτόν ἐστιν. * * * καὶ ἔτι νυ̑ν οἱ τὰ ἑξάμετρα ποιου̑ντες ἀφήκασι. Διὸ γελοι̑ον μιμει̑σθαι τούτους, οἱ αὐτοὶ οὐκ ἔτι χρω̑νται ἐκείνῳ τῳ τρόπῳ. [But as the poets, while uttering simple things, were thought to have acquired a reputation through their style, the first (rhetorical) style was poetic in character . . . ; and even now most uneducated men think that speakers of that sort speak best. But this is not so. . . . For not even writers of tragedy use it any longer in the same way, but, just as they changed from tetrameter to iambic metre because the latter is the metre most like prose, so too they have abandoned such terms as are alien to the style of conversation . . . and even the writers of hexameters have abandoned them. So it is absurd to copy men who themselves no longer follow this fashion.] That among the early Reformers of this Bombastick Manner, he places Homer as the Chief, we may see easily in his Poeticks: as particularly in that Passage, cap. 24. Ἔτι τὰς διανοίας καὶ τὴν λέξιν ἔχειν καλω̑ς, οι̑ς ἅπασιν Ὅμηρος κέχρηται, καὶ πρω̑τος καὶ ἱκανω̑ς. * * * Πρὸς δὲ τούτοις λέξει καὶ διανοίᾳ πάντας ὑπερβέβληκε. [Further, the thoughts and the diction must be well chosen. In all these points Homer set, and well set, the example. . . . Moreover he exceeds all in diction and thought.]
[* ] Γενομένης οὐ̑ν ἀπ’ ἀρχη̑ς αὐτοσχεδιαστικη̑ς, καὶ αὐτὴ καὶ ἡ Κωμῳδια, &c. [Both Tragedy and Comedy were at first improvisations merely.] De Poet. cap. 4. When he has compar’d both this and Tragedy together, he recapitulates in his next Chapter, Αἱ μὲν οὐ̑ν τη̑ς Τραγῳδίας μεταβάσεις, καὶ δἰ ών ἐγένοντο, οὐ λελήθασιν. Ἡ δὲ Κωμῳδία, διὰ τὸ μὴ σποθδάζεσθαι ἐξ ἀρχη̑ς, ἔλαθεν. Καὶ γὰρ χορὸν Κομῳδω̑ν ὀψέ ποτε ὁ Ἄρχων ἔδωκεν, &c. [The changes which passed over Tragedy, and the authors of them, are known; but Comedy, because it was not at first taken seriously, passed unnoticed. For only late did the Archon grant a comic chorus, etc.] Cap. 5. See VOL. III. p. 139 in the Notes.
[† ] Καὶ πολλὰς μεταβολὰς μεταβαλου̑σα ἡ Τραγῳδία ἐπαύσατο, ἐπεὶ ἔσχε τὴν ἑαυτη̑ς φύσιν, &c. [And tragedy ceased making many changes since it had its own nature.] Cap. 4. So true a Prophet as well as Critick was this great Man. For by the Event it appear’d that Tragedy being rais’d to its height by Sophocles and Euripides, and no room left for further Excellence or Emulation; there were no more tragick Poets besides these endur’d, after the Author’s time. Whilst Comedy went on, improving still to the second and third degree; Tragedy finish’d its course under Euripides: whom, tho our great Author criticizes with the utmost Severity in his Poeticks, yet he plainly enough confesses to have carry’d the Style of Tragedy to its full Height and Dignity. For as to the Reformation which that Poet made in the use of the sublime and figurative Speech, in general; see what our discerning Author says in his Rhetoricks: where he strives to shew the Impertinence and Nauseousness of the florid Speakers, and such as understood not the Use of the simple and natural Manner. “The just Masters and right Managers of the Poetick or High Style, shou’d learn (says he) how to conceal the Manner as much as possible.” Διὸ δει̑ λανθάνειν ποιου̑ντας, καὶ μὴ δοκει̑ν λέγειν πεπλασμένως, ἀλλὰ πεφυκότως. του̑το γὰρ πιθανόν, ἐκει̑νο δὲ τοὐναντίον. Ὡς γὰρ πρὸς ἐπιβουλεύοντα διαβάλλονται, καθάπερ πρὸς τοὺς οἴνους τοὺς μεμιγμένους. Καὶ οἱ̑ον ἡ Θεοδώρου φωνὴ πέπονθε πρὸς τὴν τω̑ν ἄλλων ὑποκριτω̑ν, ἡ μὲν γὰρ του̑ λέγοντος ἔοικεν ει̑ναι, αἱ δ’ ἀλλότριαι. κλέπτεται δ’ εὐ̑, ἐάν τις ἐκ τη̑ς εἰωθυίας διαλέκτου ἐκλέγων συντιθῃ̑· ὅπερ ἘΥΡΙΠΙ’ΔΗΣ ποιει̑, και̑ ὑπέδειξε πρω̑τος. [So we must do it unobserved and have the appearance of speaking not in an affected, but in a natural way; for the one carries conviction, the other the reverse. For (with the latter) men are on their guard, suspecting deceit, as they would be against adulterated wines. Your style should be like the voice of Theodorus as compared with that of other actors; for his seemed the very voice of the character, theirs foreign to it. The trick is successfully performed if a man make up his diction by choosing from ordinary conversation. Euripedes does this, and first gave the suggestion.] Rhet. Lib. 3. cap. 2.
[* ] Ὥσπερ δὲ καὶ τὰ σπουδαι̑α μάλιστα ποιητὴς Ὅμηρος ἠ̑ν (μόνος γὰρ οὐχ ὅτι εὐ̑, ἀλλ’ ὅτι καὶ μιμήσεις δραματικὰς ἐποίησε) οὕτω καὶ τὰ τη̑ς Κωμῳδίας σχήματα πρω̑τος ὑπέδειξεν. [And, just as Homer is especially a poet in the serious vein (for he composed his imitations not only well, but also in dramatic form), so too he first sketched the outline of Comedy.] Arist. Poet. cap. 4. No wonder if, in this Descent, Comedy came late. See below, p. 253. in the Notes. And above, p. 198.
[† ] The PARODYS were very antient: but they were in reality no other than mere Burlesque or Farce. COMEDY, which borrow’d something from those Humours, as well as from the Phallica below-mention’d, was not, however, rais’d to any Form or Shape of Art (as said above) till about the time of Aristophanes, who was of the first model, and a Beginner of the kind; at the same time that TRAGEDY had undergone all its Changes, and was already come to its last perfection; as the grand Critick has shewn us, and as our other Authoritys plainly evince.
[* ] The immediate preceding Verses of Horace, after his having spoken of the first Tragedy under Thespis, are;
[After him (Thespis) Aeschylus, inventor of the mask and the becoming robe, laid his stage upon beams of moderate height, etc.] Before the time of Thespis, Tragedy indeed was said to be, as Horace calls it here (in a concise way) ignotum genus. It lay in a kind of Chaos intermix’d with other Kinds, and hardly distinguishable by its Gravity and Pomp from the Humours which gave rise afterwards to Comedy. But in a strict historical Sense, as we find Plato speaking in his Minos, Tragedy was of antienter date, and even of the very antientest with the Athenians. His words are, Ἡ δὲ Τραγῳδία ἐστι παλαιὸν ἐνθάδε, οὐχ, ὡς οἴονται, ἀπὸ Θέσπιδος ἀρξαμένη οὐδ’ ἀπὸ Φρυνίχου. Ἀλλ’ εἰ θέλεις ἐννοη̑σαι, πάνυ παλαιὸν αὐτὸ ἑυρήσεις ὂν τη̑σδε τη̑ς πόλεως ἕυρημα. [But Tragedy is quite old here and did not, as people think, begin with Thespis or Phrynichus. But if you choose to consider, you will find it a very old invention of this city.—Plato (?), Minos, 320 e.]
[† ] Of this Subject see more in VOL. III. pag. 136, 7, 8, &c.
[† ] [The law was submitted to, and the chorus fell scandalously silent, because it might not sting.]
[* ] Lib. de Poet. cap. 4. de Tragoediâ & Comoediâ, scilicet, Καὶ ἡ μὲν ἀπὸ τω̑ν ἐξαρχόντων τὸν διθύραμβον, ἡ δὲ ἀπὸ τω̑ν τὰ φαλλικά, ἃ ἔτι καὶ νυ̑ν ἐν πολλαι̑ς τω̑ν πόλεων δαιμένει νομιζόμενα, κατὰ μικρὸν ἠυξήθη, &c. [Tragedy began with the leaders of the dithyrambic songs; Comedy with the leaders of the Phallic songs which are still customary in many cities, [and little by little have been expanded].—Arist. Poet. IV.]
[† ] To confirm what is said of this natural Succession of Wit and Style, according to the several Authoritys above-cited in the immediate preceding Notes; see Strabo, Lib. 1. Ὡς δ’ εἰπει̑ν, ὁ πεζὸς λόγος, ὅ γε κατεσκευασμένος, μίμημα του̑ ποιητικου̑ ἐστι· πρώτιστα γὰρ ἡ ποιητικὴ κατασκευὴ παρη̑λθεν εἰς τὸ μέσον καὶ εὐδοκίμησεν. Ει̑τα ἐκείνην μιμούμενοι, λύσαντες τὸ μέτρον, τ’ ἄλλα δὲ φυλάξαντες τὰ ποιητικὰ, συνέγραψαν οἱ περὶ Κάδμον, καὶ Φερεκύδην, καὶ Ἑκαται̑ον· εἰτα οἱ ὕστερον, ἀφαιρου̑ντες ἀεί τι τω̑ν τοιούτων, εἰς τὸ νυ̑ν εἰ̑δος κατήγαγον, ὡς ἃν ἀπὸ ὕψους τινός. Καθάπερ ἄν τις καὶ τὴν Κωμῳδίαν φαίη λαβει̑ν τὴν σύστασιν ἀπὸ τη̑ς Τραγῳδίας, καὶ του̑ κατ’ αὐτὴν ὕψους καταβιβασθει̑σαν εἰς τὸ λογοειδὲς νυνὶ καλούμενον. [In fact, prose speech when carefully wrought is an imitation of poetic. For in the first instance poetic style came forward and gained a name, and then Cadmus, Pherecydes, or Hecataeus wrote in imitation thereof, giving up the metre, but keeping other poetic features. Later writers afterwards, dropping these point by point, brought the style down as if from a height to the present form, just as we might say that Comedy sprang from Tragedy by being brought down from Tragedy and its elevation to what is now called prosaic.—Strabo, i. p. 18.]
[‡ ] Πρω̑τον αἱ Τραγῳδίαι παρήχθησαν ὑπομνηστικαὶ τω̑ν συμβαινόντων, καὶ ὅτι ταυ̑τα ου̑τω πέφυκε γίνεσθαι, καὶ ὅτι οἱ̑ς ἐπὶ τη̑ς σκηνη̑ς ψυχαγωγει̑σθε, τούτοις μὴ ἄχθεσθε ἐπὶ τη̑ς μείζονος σκηνη̑ς. * * * * Μετὰ δὲ τὴν Τραγῳδίαν ἡ ἀρχαία Κωμῳδία παρήχθη, παιδαγωγικὴν παῤῥησίαν ἔχουσα, καὶ τη̑ς ἀτυφίας οὐκ ἀχρήστως δι’ αὐτη̑ς τη̑ς εὐθυῤῥημοσύνης ὑπομιμνήσκουσα· πρὸς οἱ̑όν τι καὶ Διογένης ταυτὶ παρελάμβανε. μετὰ ταυ̑τα τίς ἡ μέση Κωμῳδία, καὶ λοιπὸν ἡ νέα, &c. Μαρ. Αντ. Βιβ. ια. [First, tragedies were brought out to remind you of what happens, and to remind you that events naturally happen thus, and that when a thing has amused you on the stage, you must not be shocked at it on the larger stage. . . . And after Tragedy the Old Comedy was brought out, using the freedom of a teacher, and usefully warning us by its plain speech against pride. (For some such purpose used Diogenes to borrow these points.) After this, observe what was the Middle Comedy and the New, etc.—Marcus Aurelius, xi. 6.]
οὔτως δει̑ παρ’ ὅλον τὸν βίον ποιει̑ν, καὶ ὅπου λίαν ἀξιοπιστότα τα πράγματα φαντάζηται, ἀπογυμνου̑ν αὐτά, καὶ τὴν εὐτέλειαν αὐτω̑ν καθορα̑ν, καὶ τὴν ἱστορίαν, ὑφ’ ᾐ̑ σεμνύνεταί, περιαιρει̑ν. δεινὸς γὰρ ὁ τυ̑φος παραλογιστής. Καὶ ὅτε δοκει̑ς μάλιστα περὶ τὰ σπουδαι̑α καταγίνεσθαι, τότε μάλιστα καταγοητεύει. ὅρα γου̑ν ὁ Κράτης, τί περὶ αὐτου̑ του̑ Ξενοκράτους λέγει. Id. Βιβ. ς. [In this way we must act all through life, and where things seem most worthy of trust we must strip them and see their poorness, and get rid of the claptrap of which they are so proud. For pride is a great deceiver, and when you think you are most occupied with serious things, then it takes you in most. See at all events what Crates says even of Xenocrates.—Mar. Aur. vi. 13.]
[* ] See the Citations immediately preceding.
[† ]Tunicâ distantia—Juv. Sat. 13. ver. 222. [The difference being one of dress only.]
[* ] See above page 246. in the Notes. According to this Homerical Lineage of Poetry, Comedy wou’d naturally prove the Drama of latest Birth. For tho Aristotle, in the same place, cites Homer’s Margites as analogous to Comedy, yet the Iliad and Odyssee, in which the heroick Style prevails, having been ever highest in esteem, were likeliest to be first wrought and cultivated.
[† ] His Dialogues were real POEMS (as has been shewn above, pag. 193, &c.). This may easily be collected from the Poeticks of the grand Master. We may add what is cited by Athenaeus from another Treatise of that Author. ὁ τοὺς ἄλλους ἁπαξ ἁπλω̑ς κακολογήσας, ἐν μὲν τῃ̑ πολιτείᾳ Ὅμηρον ἐκβάλλων, καὶ τὴν μιμητικὴν ποίησιν, αὐτὸς δὲ [Πλάτων] τοὺς διαλόγους μιμητικω̑ς γράψας, ὡ̑ν τη̑ς ἰδέας οὐδ’ αὐτὸς εὑρετής ἐστιν. Πρὸ γὰρ αὐτου̑ του̑θ’ εὐ̑ρε τὸ εἰ̑δος τω̑ν λόγων ὁ Τήιος Ἀλεξάμενος ὡς Νικίας ὁ Νικαεὺς ἱστορει̑ καὶ Σωτηρίων. [Σωτιων is how it reads in Athenaeus’s actual text, as found in the Loeb edition.—ES] Ἀριστοτέλης δὲ ἐν τῳ̑ περὶ Ποιητω̑ν οὕτως γράφει· “Ὀυκου̑ν οὐδὲ ἐμμέτρους τοὺς καλουμένους Σώφρονος Μίμους, μὴ φω̑μεν εἰ̑ναι λόγους καὶ μιμήσεις, ἢ τοὺς Ἀλεξαμενου του̑ Τηΐου τοὺς πρω̑τους γραφέντας τω̑ν Σωκρατικω̑ν διαλόγων;” Ἄντικρυς φάσκων ὁ πολυμαθέστατος Ἀριστοτέλης πρὸ Πλάτωνος Διαλόγους γεγραφέναι τὸν Ἀλεξαμενὸν. Athen. Lib. 11. [(Plato) the man who vilified others in general, who while in his Republic he rejected Homer and imitative poetry, himself wrote dialogues in imitative style. Yet he did not invent that style. For Alexamenos of Teos thought of it before him, as Nicias of Nicaea and Sotion say. Aristotle too writes thus in his book on Poets: “Therefore we must not say that the so-called mimes of Sophron are metrical dialogues or imitations, or the dialogues of Alexamenos of Teos, which were the earliest written of the Socratic dialogues.”]
[‡ ] According to the two last Citations, pag. 252.
[* ] VOL. III. p. 248.
[† ] The Rehearsal. See VOL. III. p. 277. in the Notes, and Ibid. p. 281.
[* ] Whoever has a thorow Taste of the Wit and Manner of Horace, if he only compares his Epistle to Augustus (lib. 2.) with the secret Character of that Prince from Suetonius and other Authors, will easily find what Judgment that Poet made of the Roman Taste, even in the Person of his sovereign and admir’d Roman Prince; whose natural Love of Amphitheatrical Spectacles, and other Entertainments (little accommodated to the Interest of the Muses) is there sufficiently insinuated. The Prince indeed was (as ’tis said above, p. 220.) oblig’d in the highest degree to his poetical and witty Friends, for guiding his Taste, and forming his Manners; as they really did, with good effect, and great advantage to his Interest. Witness what even that flattering Court-Historian, Dion, relates of the frank Treatment which that Prince receiv’d from his Friend Maecenas; who was forc’d to draw him from his bloody Tribunal, and murderous Delight, with the Reproach of Surge verò tandem, Carnifex! [Rise up at last, Death-dealer!] But Horace, according to his Character and Circumstances, was oblig’d to take a finer and more conceal’d Manner, both with the Prince and Favourite.
[Roguish Horace makes his friend laugh, yet probes every fault, and, never refused admission, plays about his inmost feelings.] See below, VOL. III. p. 249. in the Notes.
[† ] We may add to this Note what Tacitus or Quintilian remarks on the Subject of the Roman Taste: Jam verò propria & peculiaria hujus Urbis vitia poenè in utero matris concipi mihi videntur, histrionalis favor, & gladiatorum equorumque studia: quibus occupatus & obsessus animus quantulum loci bonis artibus relinquit? [Now the particular and characteristic vices of our city seem to me to be taken up almost in our mother’s womb, the enthusiasm for actors and the eagerness for gladiators and horse races.] Dial. de Oratoribus, cap. 29.
[* ] VOL. III. p. 256.
[* ]Contra, ea pleraque nostris moribus sunt decora, quae apud illos turpia putantur. Quem enimRomanorumpudet uxorem ducere in convivium? Aut cujus materfamilias non primum locum tenet aedium, atque in celebritate versatur? quod multo fit aliter inGraecia.Nam neque in convivium adhibetur, nisi propinquorum, neque sedet, nisi in interiore parte aedium, quae gynaeconitis appellatur: quo nemo accedit, nisi propinquâ cognatione conjunctus. [Whereas many things are respectable according to our customs which the Greeks think disreputable. For what Roman is ashamed to take his wife to a dinner-party? or who is there whose wife does not occupy the first place in the house and go into society? Things are very different in Greece. For a lady does not appear at a dinner-party except at a dinner of relations, nor does she sit anywhere but in the back of the house, in what is called the gynaeconitis, to which none but relations have admission.] Corn. Nep. in Praefat. See also AElian, Cap. 1. Lib. 10. and the Law in Pausanias, Lib. 5. Cap. 6. and the Story of AElian better related, as to the Circumstances. Hinc de saxo Foeminas dejicere Lex jubet, quae ad Olympicos Ludos penetrasse deprehensae fuerint, vel quae omnino Alpheum transmiserint, quibus est eis interdictum diebus: Non tamen deprehensam esse ullam perhibent praeter unam Callipatiram, quam alii Pherenicem nominant. Haec, viro mortuo, cum virili ornatu exercitationum se Magistrum simulans, Pisidorum filium in certamen deduxit; jamque eo vincente, sepimentum id, quo Magistros seclusos habent, transiluit veste amissâ. Inde Foeminam agnitam omni crimine liberârunt. Datum hoc ex Judicum aequitate Patris, Fratrum, & Filii gloriae; qui omnes ex Olympicis Ludis victores abierant. Ex eo lege sancitum, ut nudati adessent ludis ipsi etiam Magistri. [Therefore the Elean law bids hurl from a rock women who are caught at the Olympic Games, or who have even crossed the river Alphaeus on the forbidden days. Yet they say no one was ever caught except a certain Callipatira or Pherenice. She, after the death of her husband, took her son Pisidorus to the games, dressed as a man and pretending to be his trainer; and when he won, she jumped the rope which shuts off trainers and dropped her cloak. Then when she was seen to be a woman, she was acquitted by the indulgence of the stewards in honour of her father, her brothers, and her son, all of whom had won prizes at the Olympic Games. But after that a law was passed that trainers too must attend the games uncloaked.—Shaftesbury has chosen to quote Pausanias in a Latin version.]
[† ] The Tragedy of Hamlet.
[‡ ]Milton’s Paradise Lost.
[* ]Supra, pag. 208. & Infra, p. 337, 350, 351. in the Notes. And VOL. III. p. 247, 248, 249, 273, 282.
[* ]Exod. Ch. xxxii. ver. 31, 32, &c. and Rom. Ch. ix. ver. 1, 2, 3, &c.
[* ]Supra, p. 29. & VOL. III. p. 53–56. & 115, &c.
[† ]Mat. Ch. xvi. ver. 6, 7, 8, &c.
[* ]Infra, p. 333, 334, 335. and VOL. III. p. 184, 185, 186.
[* ] Monsieur Des Cartes, in his Treatise of the Passions.
[† ] See Inquiry,viz. Treatise IV. of these Volumes.
[* ]Coloss. Ch. ii. ver. 8.; Tit. Ch. iii. ver. 9.; 1 Tim. Ch. i. ver. 4, & 6. and Ch. vi. ver. 20.
[† ]Luke, Ch. vi. ver. 43, 44. and Mat. Ch. vii. ver. 16. See VOL. II. p. 269, 334.
[‡ ]Supra, pag. 107.
[4 ]Vitae Dux, Virtutis Indagatrix.
[* ] “Tu Inventrix Legum, tu Magistra morum & disciplinae. * * * Est autem unus dies bene & ex praeceptis tuis actus, peccanti immortalitati anteponendus.” Cicero,Tusc. Quaest. lib. 5.
[* ] These are the Words of the particular Author cited.
[* ] VOL. II. p. 227. and VOL. III. p. 200.
[† ]Infra, p. 339.
[* ]Quo teneam vultus mutantemProteanodo?Hor. Epist. 1. lib. 1.
[* ] VOL. II. p. 127.
[* ]Usque adeone mori miserum est?—Virg. AEneid. Lib. 12.
[* ] VOL. III. p. 198, 199, &c.
[* ] VOL. III. pag. 199, &c.
[† ] And again:
[And so I speak as follows to myself and try to remember in silence:—“If no abundance of water ended your thirst, you would tell the doctors; seeing that the more money you have, the more you want, dare you tell no one? . . . You are not avaricious. Very good. But have other faults gone too? Is your heart free from unsatisfying ambition? from the fear of death? from anger?”]
[* ]Supra, p. 38.
[* ] It seems indeed somewhat improbable, that according to modern Erudition, and as Science is now distributed, our ingenious and noble Youths shou’d obtain the full advantage of a just and liberal Education, by uniting the Scholar-part with that of the real Gentleman and Man of Breeding. Academys for Exercises, so useful to the Publick, and essential in the Formation of a genteel and liberal Character, are unfortunately neglected. Letters are indeed banish’d, I know not where, in distant Cloisters and unpractis’d Cells, as our Poet has it, confin’d to the Commerce and mean Fellowship of bearded Boys. The sprightly Arts and Sciences are sever’d from Philosophy, which consequently must grow dronish, insipid, pedantick, useless, and directly opposite to the real Knowledg and Practice of the World and Mankind. Our Youth accordingly seem to have their only Chance between two widely different Roads; either that of Pedantry and School-Learning, which lies amidst the Dregs and most corrupt part of antient Literature; or that of the fashionable illiterate World, which aims merely at the Character of the fine Gentleman, and takes up with the Foppery of modern Languages and foreign Wit. The frightful Aspect of the former of these Roads makes the Journey appear desperate and impracticable. Hence that Aversion so generally conceiv’d against a learned Character, wrong turn’d, and hideously set out, under such Difficultys, and in such seeming Labyrinths, and mysterious Forms. As if a Homer or a Xenophon imperfectly learnt, in raw Years, might not afterwards, in a riper Age, be study’d, as well in a Capital City and amidst the World, as at a College, or Country-Town! Or as if a Plutarch, a Tully, or a Horace cou’d not accompany a young Man in his Travels, at a Court, or (if occasion were) even in a Camp! The Case is not without Precedent. Leisure is found sufficient for other Reading of numerous modern Translations, and worse Originals, of Italian or French Authors, who are read merely for Amusement. The French indeed may boast of some legitimate Authors of a just Relish, correct, and without any mixture of the affected or spurious kinds; the false Tender, or the false Sublime; the conceited Jingle, or the ridiculous Point. They are such Genius’s as have been form’d upon the natural Model of the Antients, and willingly own their Debt to those great Masters. But for the rest, who draw from another Fountain, as the Italian Authors in particular; they may be reckon’d no better than the Corrupters of true Learning and Erudition; and can indeed be relish’d by those alone, whose Education has unfortunately deny’d ’em the Familiarity of the noble Antients, and the Practice of a better and more natural Taste. See above, p. 286, &c. and VOL. II. p. 184, 185, 186.
[* ]Supra, p. 208.
[* ] VOL. III. p. 164, 179, &c.
[† ]Supra, p. 130, &c. and VOL. III. p. 182, 3, 4, 5, 6. in the Notes.
[‡ ]Supra, p. 208.
[** ] VOL. III. p. 260, 261, 2, 3. in the Notes.
[* ]Supra, p. 309. and VOL. II. p. 227, &c.
[* ] Thus Pliny, speaking with a masterly Judgment of the Dignity of the then declining Art of Painting, (de Dignitate Artis morientis) shews it to be not only severe in respect of the Discipline, Style, Design, but of the Characters and Lives of the noble Masters: not only in the Effect, but even in the very Materials of the Art, the Colours, Ornaments, and particular Circumstances belonging to the Profession.—EuphranorisDiscipulusAntidotus,diligentior quàm numerosior, & in coloribus severus.—Niciaecomparatur, & aliquanto praeferturAthenionMaronites,GlaucionisCorinthii Discipulus, & austerior colore, & in austeritate jucundior, ut in ipsâ picturâ Eruditio eluceat. * * * Quòd nisi in juventâ obiisset, nemo ei compararetur.—Pausiae& Filius & DiscipulusAristolausè severissimis pictoribus fuit.—Fuit & nuper gravis ac severus pictorAmulius. * * * Paucis diei horis pingebat, id quoque cum gravitate, quod semper togatus, quamquam in machinis. [Antidotus, a pupil of Euphranor, was more painstaking than prolific, and was austere in his colouring. . . . Athenion of Maronea is compared with Nicias, but greatly preferred to him. He was a pupil of Glaucion the Corinthian, rather gloomy in colouring, yet pleasant in his gloom, so that his cultivation comes out in his very painting. . . . Had he not died young, no one could be compared with him. . . . Aristolaus, son and pupil of Pausias, was one of the most austere of painters. . . . Lately too we had Amulius, a severe and serious painter. . . . He used only to paint a few hours a day, but that very seriously, for he always wore full dress, even on his scaffolding.—Pliny, H. N. xxxv. (cc. 37, 40) 119–137.] One of the mortal Symptoms upon which Pliny pronounces the sure Death of this noble Art, not long survivor to him, was what belong’d in common to all the other perishing Arts after the Fall of Liberty; I mean the Luxury of the Roman Court, and the Change of Taste and Manners naturally consequent to such a Change of Government and Dominion. This excellent, learned, and polite Critick represents to us the false Taste springing from the Court it-self, and from that Opulence, Splendor, and Affectation of Magnificence and Expence proper to the Place. Thus in the Statuary and Architecture then in vogue, nothing cou’d be admir’d beside what was costly in the mere Matter or Substance of the Work. Precious Rock, rich Metal, glittering Stones, and other luscious Ware, poisonous to Art, came every day more into request; and were impos’d, as necessary Materials, on the best Masters. ’Twas in favour of these Court-Beautys and gaudy Appearances, that all good Drawing, just Design, and Truth of Work began to be despis’d. Care was taken to procure from distant Parts, the most gorgeous splendid Colours, of the most costly Growth or Composition: not such as had been us’d by Apelles and the great Masters, who are justly severe, loyal, and faithful to their Art. This newer Colouring our Critick calls the florid kind. The Materials were too rich to be furnish’d by the Painter, but were bespoke or furnish’d at the cost of the Person who employ’d him; (quos Dominus pingenti praestat.) The other he calls the austere kind. And thus, says he, “Rerum, non Animi pretiis excubatur: The Cost, and not the Life, and Art, is study’d.” He shews, on the contrary, what care Apelles took to subdue the florid Colours, by a darkening Varnish; ut eadem res, says he, nimis floridis coloribus Austeritatem occultè daret. And he says just before, of some of the finest Pieces of Apelles, “That they were wrought in four Colours only.” So great and venerable was SIMPLICITY held among the Antients, and so certain was the Ruin of all true Elegance in Life or Art, where this Mistress was once quitted or contemn’d! See Pliny,Lib. 35. See also, above, p. 144. in the Notes; and p. 222.
[* ] Pag. 164, 165, &c.
[† ]Supra, p. 71, 72.
[* ] The greatest of Criticks says of the greatest Poet, when he extols him the highest, “That above all others he understood how TO LYE: Δεδίδαχε δὲ μάλιστα Ὅμηρος καὶ τοὺς ἅλλους ψευδη̑ λέγειν ὡς δει̑.” Arist. de Poet. cap. 24.—See VOL. III. p. 260. in the Notes.
[* ] Considering what has been so often said on this Subject of Philosophy, Learning and the Sister-Arts, after that antient Model which has since been so much corrupted; it may not be amiss perhaps to hear the Confession of one of the greatest and most learned of Moderns, upon this Head. “Scilicet assensuri isti sunt veteribus Sapientibus, Poeticam τη̑ς σεμνοτάτης φιλοσοφίας εἰ̑ναι σύνναον, severissimae Philosophiae contubernalem esse; quos videmus omni curâ morum posthabitâ, quae vera Philosophia est, in nescio quibus argumentatiunculis, in nugis sophisticis, in puerilibus argutiolis, λωβοι̑ς denique ῥηματίοις τη̑ς διαλεκτικη̑ς, quod suâ jam aetate Euphrades Themistius conquerebatur, summam sapientiam ponere! Scilicet facundiaePersiivirile robur, aut recondita illa eruditio eos capiet, quibus pristinam barbariem mordicùs retinere, & in Antiquitatis totius ignoratione versari, potius videtur esse ac melius, quàm possessionem literarum, olim simili socordiâ extinctarum, memoriâ verò patrum magno Dei immortalis beneficio in lucem revocatarum ex altâ hominum oblivione, sibi vindicare, & pro suâ quemque virili posteris asserere! * * * * * * * Scribit veroArrianus,sapientissimum senem illumEpictetum,impietatis in Deum eos insimulâsse, qui in Philosophiae studiis τὴν ἀπαγγελτικὴν δύναμιν sive Sermonis curam tanquam rem levem aspernarentur: quoniam quidem, aiebat vir divinus, ἀσεβου̑ς ἐστιν ἀνθρώπου τὰς παρὰ του̑ θεου̑ χάριτας ἀτιμάζειν. En Germanum Philosophum! En vocem auream! Nec minus memorabile Synesii Philosophi praestantissimi vaticinium tristi eventu confirmatum, quod multò antè ab ipso est editum, cum rationem studiorum similiter perverti ab aequalibus suis cerneret. Disputans enim contra eos qui ad sanctissimae Theologiae studia Infantiam & Sophisticen pro solidâ eruditione afferrent, fatidicam hanc quasi sortem edidit. Κίνδυνος, inquit, εἰς ἄβυσσόν τινα φλυαρίας ἐμπεσόντας τούτους διαφθαρη̑ναι. Periculum est ne ejusmodi homines in abyssum quamdam ineptiarum delapsi penitus corrumpantur. Utinam defuisset huic Oraculo fides. Sed profectò, depravationi illi, & hujus Scientiarum Reginae, & omnium aliarum, quae posteà accidit, occasionem quidem Gotthorum & Alanorum invasiones praebuerunt: at causa illius propior ac vera est, ratio studiorum perversa, & in liberalibus Disciplinis prava Institutio, ac Linguarum simul & universae literaturae melioris ignoratio. * * * * * Atqui non in eum certè finem viri magni & praecepta & exempla virtutum memoriae commendata ad posteros transmiserunt, ut ad inanem aurium oblectationem, vel jactationem vanam inutilis eruditionis, ea cognosceremus: verùm ut suis nos lucubrationibus excitarent ad effodienda & in actum producenda RECTI HONESTIque semina; quae cùm à Naturâ accepissemus, vitiis tamen circumfusa, & tantùm non obruta, sic in nosiris animis, nisi cultura melior accedat, latent, quasi in altum quendam scrobem penitus defossa. Huc spectant tot illa Volumina quae de Morali Disciplinâ Philosophi confecerunt. Tendit eodem & Graecorum Latinorumque Poetarum pleraque manus; sed itineribus diversis. Quot sunt enim Poetarum genera (sunt autem quamplurima) tot ferè diverticula & viarum ambages eò ducentium.” [Of course those authors are going to agree with the sensible old tradition that poetry (is the shrine of the most august philosophy) is the close companion of the most serious philosophy; we see that those authors who have neglected every case of manners make claim to the greatest wisdom which is true philosophy in who knows what pathetic little arguments, in sophistic jests, in juvenile quibbles, finally dishonorable . . . pet phrases of dialectics which even in their own age Euphrades and Themistius deplored. Of course, the solid hardwood of the eloquence of Persius or that profound scholarship will overtake them to whom it seems more important and better to preserve unspoiled barbarity with biting words and to remain in ignorance of the whole of antiquity than that the possession of a liberal education, formerly destroyed by the same kind of negligence and restored into the light from the deep oblivion of men by the memory of our ancestors with the great kindness of immortal God, should free them and sow something for future generations in the place of their own characters. Arrian writes that the very old wise man Epictetus has accused of impiety against the gods men who in their study of philosophy the narrating capacity, disdained the care of speech as a trivial thing: whereas indeed that inspired man was saying that it is characteristic of an ungodly human being to dishonor the things that come from the grace of god. See the German philosopher! Hear the golden voice! Not less remarkable was the prophecy of the very distinguished philosopher Synesius proven by a sad event which much earlier was announced by that very man when he saw that the science of these studies was being undermined in a similar way by his own contemporaries. He announced this prophecy just as if it were fate, opposing the sort of men who would bring to the study of the most sacred theology silliness and sophistry in the place of genuine scholarship. The danger is that, having fallen into an abyss of nonsense, they are utterly destroyed. There is a danger lest men of this sort, having sunk deeply into an abyss one might say of absurdities, might mislead. Would this prophecy had failed to be creditable! But certainly the invasions of the Goths and Scythians indeed offered an occasion for this corruption of both the queen of sciences which come to pass later: But the cause of this is more recent and is the true one, the perverted system of studies both in a distorted education in the liberal disciplines and the ignorance of languages and at the same time of the whole body of better literature. But certainly great men have not to this end transmitted both the precepts and examples of virtues committed to memory so that we would learn these things for the vain delight of ears or the empty boasting of useless pedantry. Doubtless the seeds of moral goodness and honor which, although we had received them from nature but nevertheless surrounded by vices and very nearly obscured, lie hidden in our minds just as if remotely buried in a deep ditch, unless a better cultivation should occur so that they might stir us in our night labors to excavate them and present them in public actions. For this purpose so many men scrutinize those volumes which the philosophers have made about moral training. The majority of Greek and Latin poets stretch their hands to the same place but by different paths. For how many kinds of poets there are (moreover there are very many) just so many are the branches and labyrinths of paths leading there.] Is. Casaub. in Praefatione Commentarii ad Pers. See above, pag. 190, 191, &c. and 207, 208, 286. and 298, 299, and 333, &c. and 338, &c. And VOL. III. p. 61, 78, 79, &c. and 239, 240, 241. in the Notes.
[* ] VOL. III. p. 240, 241. in the Notes.
[* ] VOL. III. p. 71, 231, 337.