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Miscellaneous Reflections - Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury, Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, vol. 3 
Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, ed. Douglas den Uyl (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001). 3 vols. Vol. 3.
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Of course he was favorable to Virtue only
and to her friends.*
Horat. Sat. I. Lib. 2.
Printed first in the Year M.DCC.XIV.
Chap. 1.CHAPTER I
Of the Nature, Rise, and Establishment ofMiscellanys.——The Subject of these which follow.——Intention of the Writer.
PEACE be with the Soul of that charitable and courteous Author, who for the common Benefit of his Fellow-Authors, introduc’d the ingenious way of MiscellaneousWriting!—It must be own’d that since this happy Method was establish’d, the Harvest of Wit has been more plentiful, and the Labourers more in number than heretofore. ’Tis well known to the able Practitioners in the writing Art; “That as easy as it is to conceive Wit, ’tis the hardest thing imaginable to be deliver’d of It, upon certain Terms.” Nothing cou’d be more severe or rigid than the Conditions formerly prescrib’d to Writers; when Criticism took place, and Regularity and Order were thought essential in a Treatise. The Notion of a genuine Work, a legitimate and just Piece, has certainly been the Occasion of great Timidity and Backwardness among the Adventurers in Wit: And the Imposition of such strict Laws and Rules of Composition, has set heavy on the free Spirits and forward Genius’s of Mankind. ’Twas a Yoke, it seems, which our Forefathers bore; but which, for our parts, we have generously thrown off. In effect, the invidious Distinctions of Bastardy and Legitimacy being at length remov’d; the natural and lawful Issue of the Brain comes with like advantage into the World: And Wit (mereWit) is well receiv’d; without examination of the Kind, or censure of the Form.
This the MiscellaneousManner of Writing, it must be own’d, has happily effected. It has render’d almost every Soil productive. It has disclos’d those various Seeds of Wit, which lay suppress’d in many a Bosom; and has rear’d numberless Conceits and curious Fancys, which the natural Rudeness and Asperity of their native Soil wou’d have with-held, or at least not have permitted to rise above the ground. From every Field, from every Hedge or Hillock, we now gather as delicious Fruits and fragrant Flowers, as of old from the richest and best-cultivated Gardens. Miserable were those antient Planters, who understanding not how to conform themselves to the rude Taste of unpolish’d Mankind, made it so difficult a Task to serve the World with intellectual Entertainments, and furnish out the Repasts of Literature and Science.
There was certainly a time when the Name of Author stood for something considerable in the World. To succeed happily in such a Labour as that of writing a Treatise or a Poem, was taken as a sure mark of Understanding and Good Sense. The Task was painful: But, it seems, ’twas honourable. How the Case happen’d, in process of time, to be so much revers’d, is hard to say. The primitive Authors perhaps being few in number, and highly respected for their Art, fell under the weight of Envy. Being sensible of their Misfortune in this respect, and being excited, as ’tis probable, by the Example of some popular Genius; they quitted their regular Schemes and accurate Forms of Workmanship, in favour of those Wits who could not possibly be receiv’d as Authors upon such difficult Terms. ’Twas necessary, it seems, that the Bottom of Wit shou’d be enlarg’d. ’Twas advisable that more Hands shou’d be taken into the Work. And nothing cou’d better serve this popular purpose, than the way of Miscellany, or commonEssay; in which the most confus’d Head, if fraught with a little Invention, and provided with Common-place-Book Learning, might exert itself to as much advantage, as the most orderly and well-settled Judgment.
To explain the better how this Revolution in Letters has been effected, it may not perhaps be indecent, shou’d we offer to compare our Writing-Artists, to the Manufacturers in Stuff or Silk. For among These ’tis esteem’d a principal piece of Skill, to frame a Pattern, or Plan of Workmanship, in which the several Colours are agreeably dispos’d; with such proportionable Adjustment of the various Figures and Devices, as may, in the whole, create a kind of Harmony to the Eye. According to this Method, each Piece must be, in reality, an Original. For to copy what has gone before, can be of no use. The Fraud wou’d easily be perceiv’d. On the other side, to work originally, and in a manner create each time anew, must be a matter of pressing weight, and fitted to the Strength and Capacity of none besides the choicest Workmen.
A Manner therefore is invented to confound this Simplicity and Conformity of Design. Patch-work is substituted. Cuttings and Shreds of Learning, with various Fragments, and Points of Wit, are drawn together, and tack’d in any fantastick form. If they chance to cast a Luster, and spread a sort of sprightly Glare; the Miscellany is approv’d, and the complex Form and Texture of the Work admir’d. The Eye, which before was to be won by Regularity, and had kept true to Measure and strict Proportion, is by this means pleasingly drawn aside, to commit a kind of Debauch, and amuse it-self in gaudy Colours, and disfigur’d Shapes of things. Custom, in the mean while, has not only tolerated this Licentiousness, but render’d it even commendable, and brought it into the highest repute. The Wild and Whimsical, under the name of the Odd and Pretty, succeed in the room of the Graceful and the Beautiful. Justness and Accuracy of Thought are set aside, as too constraining, and of too painful an aspect, to be endur’d in the agreeable and more easy Commerce of Gallantry, and modern Wit.
Now since it has been thought convenient, in these latter Ages, to distinguish the Provinces of Wit and Wisdom, and set apart the agreeable from the useful; ’tis evident there cou’d be nothing devis’d more sutable to the distinct and separate Interest of the former of these Provinces, than this complex manner of Performance which we call Miscellany. For whatever is capricious and odd, is sure to create Diversion, to those who look no further. And where there is nothing like Nature, there is no room for the troublesom part of Thought or Contemplation. ’Tis the Perfection of certain Grotesque-Painters, to keep as far from Nature as possible. To find a Likeness in their Works, is to find the greatest Fault imaginable. A natural Connexion is a Slur. A Coherence, a Design, a Meaning, is against their purpose, and destroys the very Spirit and Genius of their Workmanship.
I remember formerly when I was a Spectator in the French Theater, I found it the Custom, at the end of every grave and solemn Tragedy, to introduce a comick Farce, or Miscellany, which they call’d the little Piece. We have indeed a Method still more extraordinary upon our own Stage. For we think it agreeable and just, to mix the Little Piece or Farce with the main Plot or Fable, thro’ every Act. This perhaps may be the rather chosen, because our Tragedy is so much deeper and bloodier than that of the French, and therefore needs more immediate Refreshment from the elegant way of Drollery, and Burlesque-wit; which being thus closely interwoven with its opposite, makes that most accomplish’d kind of theatricalMiscellany, call’d by our Poets a Tragi-comedy.
I cou’d go further perhaps, and demonstrate from the Writings of many of our grave Divines, the Speeches of our Senators, and other principal Models of our national Erudition, “That the MiscellaneousManner is at present in the highest esteem.” But since my chief Intention in the following Sheets is to descant cursorily upon some late Pieces of a British Author; I will presume, That what I have said already on this Head is sufficient; and That it will not be judg’d improper or absurd in me, as I proceed, to take advantage of this miscellaneous Taste which now evidently prevails. According to this Method, whilst I serve as Critick or Interpreter to this new Writer, I may the better correct his Flegm, and give him more of the fashionable Air and Manner of the World; especially in what relates to the Subject and Manner of his two last Pieces, which are contain’d in his second Volume. For these being of the more regular and formal kind, may easily be oppressive to the airy Reader; and may therefore with the same assurance as Tragedy claim the necessary Relief of the little Piece or Farce above-mention’d.
Nor ought the Title of a MiscellaneousWriter to be deny’d me, on the account that I have grounded my Miscellanys upon a certain Set of Treatises already publish’d. Grounds and Foundations are of no moment in a kind of Work, which, according to modern Establishment, has properly neither Top nor Bottom, Beginning nor End. Besides, that I shall no-way confine myself to the precise Contents of these Treatises; but, like my Fellow-Miscellanarians, shall take occasion to vary often from my propos’d Subject, and make what Deviations or Excursions I shall think fit, as I proceed in my randomEssays.
Chap. 2.CHAPTER II
Of Controversial Writings: Answers: Replies.—Polemick Divinity; or the Writing Church-Militant.—Philosophers, and Bear-Garden.—Authors pair’d and match’d.—The Match-makers.—Foot-Ball.—A Dialogue between our Author and his Bookseller.
AMONG the many Improvements daily made in the Art of Writing, there is none perhaps which can be said to have attain’d a greater Height than that of Controversy, or the Method of Answer and Refutation. ’Tis true indeed, that antiently the Wits of Men were for the most part taken up in other Employment. If Authors writ ill, they were despis’d: If well, they were by some Party or other espous’d. For Partys there wou’d necessarily be, and Sects of every kind, in Learning and Philosophy. Every one sided with whom he lik’d; and having the liberty of hearing each side speak for it-self, stood in no need of express Warning-Pieces against pretended Sophistry, or dangerous Reasoning. Particular Answers to single Treatises, were thought to be of little use. And it was esteem’d no Compliment to a Reader, to help him so carefully in the Judgment of every Piece which came abroad. Whatever Sects there were in those days, the Zeal of Party-causes ran not so high as to give the Reader a Taste of those personal Reproaches, which might pass in a Debate between the different Partymen.
Thus Matters stood of old; when as yet the Method of writing Controversy was not rais’d into an Art, nor the Feuds of contending Authors become the chief Amusement of the learned World. But we have at present so high a Relish of this kind, that the Writings of the Learned are never truly gustful till they are come to what we may properly enough call their due Ripeness, and have begot a Fray. When the Answer and Reply is once form’d, our Curiosity is excited: We begin then, for the first time, to whet our Attention, and apply our Ear.
For example: Let a zealous Divine and flaming Champion of our Faith, when inclin’d to shew himself in Print, make choice of some tremendous Mystery of Religion, oppos’d heretofore by some damnable Heresiarch; whom having vehemently refuted, he turns himself towards the orthodox Opinion, and supports the true Belief, with the highest Eloquence and profoundest Erudition; he shall, notwithstanding this, remain perhaps in deep Obscurity, to the great affliction of his Bookseller, and the regret of all who bear a just Veneration for Church-history, and the antient Purity of the Christian Faith. But let it so happen that in this Prosecution of his deceas’d Adversary, our Doctor raises up some living Antagonist; who, on the same foot of Orthodoxy with himself, pretends to arraign his Expositions, and refute the Refuter upon every Article he has advanc’d; from this moment the Writing gathers Life, the Publick listens, the Bookseller takes heart; and when Issue is well join’d, the Repartees grown smart, and the Contention vigorous between the learned Partys, a Ring is made, and Readers gather in abundance. Every one takes party, and encourages his own Side. “This shall be my Champion!—This Man for my Money!—Well hit, on our side!—Again, a good Stroke!—There he was even with him!—Have at him the next Bout!”—Excellent Sport! And when the Combatants are for a-while drawn off, and each retir’d with his own Companions; What Praises, and Congratulations! What Applauses of the suppos’d Victor! And how honourably is he saluted by his Favourers, and complimented even to the disturbance of his Modesty! “Nay, but Gentlemen!—Good Gentlemen! Do you really think thus?—Are you sincere with me?—Have I treated my Adversary as he deserves?” “Never was Man so maul’d. Why you have kill’d him downright.” “O, Sirs! you flatter me.” “He can never rise more.” “Think ye so indeed?” “Or if he shou’d; ’twou’d be a Pleasure to see how you wou’d handle him.”
These are the Triumphs. This what sets sharp: This gives the Author his Edge, and excites the Reader’s Attention; when the Trumpets are thus sounded to the Croud, and a kind of Amphitheatrical Entertainment exhibited to the Multitude, by these Gladiatorian Pen-men.
The Author of the preceding Treatises being by profession a nice Inspector into the Ridicule of Things, must in all probability have rais’d to himself some such Views as these, which hinder’d him from engaging in the way of Controversy. For when, by accident, the * First of these Treatises (a private Letter, and in the Writer’s Esteem, little worthy of the Publick’s notice) came to be read abroad in Copys, and afterwards in Print; the smartest Answers which came out against it, cou’d not, it seems, move our Author to form any Reply. All he was heard to say in return, was, “That he thought whoever had taken upon him to publish a Book in answer to that casual Piece, had certainly made either a very high Compliment to the Author, or a very ill one to the Publick.”
It must be own’d, that when a Writer of any kind is so considerable as to deserve the Labour and Pains of some shreud Heads to refute him in publick, he may, in the quality of an Author, be justly congratulated on that occasion. ’Tis suppos’d necessarily that he must have writ with some kind of Ability or Wit. But if his original Performance be in truth no better than ordinary; his Answerer’s Task must certainly be very mean. He must be very indifferently imploy’d, who wou’d take upon him to answer Nonsense in form, ridicule what is of it-self a Jest, and put it upon the World to read a second Book for the sake of the Impertinencys of a former.
Taking it, however, for granted, “That a sorry Treatise may be the foundation of a considerable Answer;” aReply still must certainly be ridiculous, which-ever way we take it. For either the Author, in his original Piece, has been truly refuted, or not. If refuted; why does he defend? If not refuted; why trouble himself? What has the Publick to do with his private Quarrels, or his Adversary’s Impertinence? Or supposing the World out of curiosity may delight to see a Pedant expos’d by a Man of better Wit, and a Controversy thus unequally carry’d on between two such opposite Partys; How long is this Diversion likely to hold good? And what will become of these polemick Writings a few Years hence? What is already become of those mighty Controversys, with which some of the most eminent Authors amus’d the World within the memory of the youngest Scholar? An original Work or two may perhaps remain: But for the subsequent Defenses, the Answers, Rejoinders, and Replications; they have been long since paying their attendance to the Pastry-cooks. Mankind perhaps were heated at that time, when first those Matters were debated: But they are now cool again. They laugh’d: They carry’d on the Humour: They blew the Coals: They teaz’d, and set on, maliciously, and to create themselves diversion. But the Jest is now over. No-one so much as inquires Where the Wit was; or Where possibly the Sting shou’d lie of those notable Reflections and satirical Hints, which were once found so pungent, and gave the Readers such high Delight.—Notable Philosophers and Divines, who can be contented to make sport, and write in learned Billingsgate, to divert the Coffee-house, and entertain the Assemblys at Booksellers Shops, or the more airy Stalls of inferior Book-retailers!
It must be allow’d, That in this respect, controversial Writing is not so wholly unprofitable; and that for Book-Merchants, of whatever Kind or Degree, they undoubtedly receive no small Advantage from a right Improvement of a learned Scuffle. Nothing revives ’em more, or makes a quicker Trade, than a Pair of substantial Divines or grave Philosophers, well match’d, and soundly back’d; till by long worrying one another, they are grown out of breath, and have almost lost their Force of Biting.—“So have I known a crafty Glazier, in time of Frost, procure a Football, to draw into the Street the emulous Chiefs of the robust Youth. The tumid Bladder bounds at every Kick, bursts the withstanding Casements, the Chassys, Lanterns, and all the brittle vitrious Ware. The Noise of Blows and Out-cries fills the whole Neighbourhood; and Ruins of Glass cover the stony Pavements; till the bloated battering Engine, subdu’d by force of Foot and Fist, and yielding up its Breath at many a fatal Cranny, becomes lank and harmless, sinks in its Flight, and can no longer uphold the Spirit of the contending Partys.”
This our Author supposes to have been the occasion of his being so often and zealously complimented by his Amanuensis (for so he calls * his Bookseller or Printer) on the Fame of his first Piece. The obliging Crafts-man has at times presented him with many a handsom Book, set off with Titles of Remarks, Reflections, and the like, which, as he assur’d him, were Answers to his small Treatise. “Here Sir! (says he) you have a considerable Hand has undertaken you!——This Sir, is a Reverend—This a Right Reverend——This a noted Author——Will you not reply, Sir?——O’ my word, Sir, the World is in expectation.” “Pity they shou’d be disappointed!” “A dozen Sheets, Sir, wou’d be sufficient.—You might dispatch it presently.” “Think you so?” “I have my Paper ready—And a good Letter.—Take my word for it—You shall see, Sir!” “Enough. But hark ye (Mr. A, a, a, a) my worthy Engineer, and Manager of the War of Letters! Ere you prepare your Artillery, or engage me in Acts of Hostility, let me hear, I intreat you, Whether or no my Adversary be taken notice of.—Wait for his Second Edition. And if by next Year, or Year or two after, it be known in good Company that there is such a Book in being, I shall then perhaps think it time to consider of a Reply.”
Chap. 3.CHAPTER III
Of the Letter concerning Enthusiasm.—Foreign Criticks.—Of Letters in general; and of the Epistolary Style.—Addresses to great Men.—Authors and Horsemanship.—The modern Amble.—Further Explanation of theMiscellaneous Manner.
AS resolute as our Author may have shewn himself in refusing to take notice of the smart Writings publish’d against him by certain Zealots of his own Country, he cou’d not, it seems, but out of curiosity observe what the foreign and more impartial Criticks might object to his small Treatise, which he was surpriz’d to hear had been translated into foreign Languages, soon after it had been publish’d here at home. The first Censure of this kind which came to our Author’s sight, was that of the Paris*Journal des Savans. Considering how little favourable the Author of the Letter had shewn himself towards the Romish Church, and Policy of France, it must be own’d those Journalists have treated him with sufficient Candor: tho they fail’d not to take what Advantages they well cou’d against the Writing, and particularly arraign’d it for the want † of Order and Method.
The Protestant Writers, such as live in a free Country, and can deliver their Sentiments without Constraint, have certainly ‡ done our Author more Honour than he ever presum’d to think he cou’d deserve. His Translator indeed, who had done him the previous Honour of introducing him to the Acquaintance of the foreign World, represents particularly, by the Turn given to the latter end of the Letter, that the Writer of it was, as to his Condition and Rank, little better than an inferior Dependent on the noble Lord to whom he had address’d himself. And in reality the Original has so much of that air; that I wonder not, if what the Author left ambiguous, the Translator has determin’d to the side of Clientship and Dependency.
But whatever may have been the Circumstance or Character of our Author himself; that of his great Friend ought in justice to have been consider’d by those former Criticks above-mention’d. So much, at least, shou’d have been taken notice of, that there was a realgreat Man characteriz’d, and sutable Measures of Address and Style preserv’d. But they who wou’d neither observe this, nor apprehend the Letter it-self to be real, were insufficient Criticks, and unqualify’d to judg of the Turn or Humour of a Piece, which they had never consider’d in a proper light.
’Tis become indeed so common a Practice among Authors, to feign a Correspondency, and give the Title of a private Letter to a Piece address’d solely to thePublick, that it wou’d not be strange to see other Journalists and Criticks, as well as the Gentlemen of Paris, pass over such Particularitys, as things of Form. This Prejudice however cou’d not misguide a chief Critick of the Protestant side; when * mentioning this Letter concerning Enthusiasm, he speaks of it as a real Letter, (such as in truth it was) not a precise and formal †Treatise, design’d for publick View.
It will be own’d surely, by those who have learnt to judg of Elegancy and Wit by the help merely of modern Languages, That we cou’d have little Relish of the best Letters of a Balsac or Voiture, were we wholly ignorant of the Characters of the principal Persons to whom those Letters were actually written. But much less cou’d we find pleasure in this reading, shou’d we take it into our heads, that both the Personages and Correspondency it-self were merely fictitious. Let the best of Tully’s Epistles be read in such a narrow View as this, and they will certainly prove very insipid. If a real Brutus, a real Atticus be not suppos’d, there will be no real Cicero. The elegant Writer will disappear: as will the vast Labour and Art with which this eloquent Roman writ those Letters to his illustrious Friends. There was no kind of Composition in which this great Author prided or pleas’d himself more than in this; where he endeavour’d to throw off the Mein of the Philosopher and Orator, whilst in effect he employ’d both his Rhetorick and Philosophy with the greatest Force. They who can read an Epistle or Satir of Horace in somewhat better than a mere scholastick Relish, will comprehend that the Concealment of Order and Method, in this manner of Writing, makes the chief Beauty of the Work. They will own, that unless a Reader be in some measure appriz’d of the Characters of an Augustus, a Maecenas, a Florus, or a Trebatius, there will be little Relish in those Satirs or Epistles address’d in particular to the Courtiers, Ministers, and Great Men of the Times. Even the Satirick, or MiscellaneousManner of the polite Antients, requir’d as much Order as the most regular Pieces. But the Art was to destroy every such Token or Appearance, give an extemporary Air to what was writ, and make the Effect of Art be felt, without discovering the Artifice. There needs no further Explanation on this Head. Our Author himself has said enough in his *Advice to an Author, particularly where he treats of the simple Style, in contra-distinction to the learned, the formal, or methodick.
’Tis a different Case indeed, when the Title of Epistle is improperly given to such Works as were never writ in any other view than that of being made publick, or to serve as Exercises or Specimens of the Wit of their Composer. Such were those infinite Numbers of Greek and Latin Epistles, writ by the antient Sophists, Grammarians, or Rhetoricians; where we find the real Character of the Epistle, the genuine Style and Manners of the corresponding Partys sometimes imitated; but at other times not so much as aim’d at, nor any Measures of historical Truth preserv’d. Such perhaps we may esteem even the Letters of a †Seneca to his Friend Lucilius. Or supposing that philosophical Courtier had really such a Correspondency; and, at several times, had sent so many fair Epistles, honestly sign’d and seal’d, to his Country-friend at a distance; it appears however by the Epistles themselves, in their proper Order, (if they may be said to have any) that after a few Attempts at the beginning, the Author by degrees loses sight of his Correspondent, and takes the World in general for his Reader or Disciple. He falls into the random way of Miscellaneous Writing; says every-where great and noble Things, in and out of the way, accidentally as Words led him (for with these he plays perpetually); with infinite Wit, but with little or no Coherence; without a Shape or Body to his Work; without a real *Beginning, a Middle, or an End. Of a hundred and twenty four Epistles, you may, if you please, make five Hundred, or half a Score. A great-one, for instance, you may divide into five or six. A little-one you may tack to another; and that to another; and so on. The Unity of the Writing will be the same: The Life and Spirit full as well preserv’d. ’Tis not only whole Letters or Pages you may change and manage thus at pleasure: Every Period, every Sentence almost, is independent; and may be taken asunder, transpos’d, postpon’d, anticipated, or set in any new Order, as you fansy.
This is the Manner of Writing so much admir’d and imitated in our Age, that we have scarce the Idea of any other Model. We know little, indeed, of the Difference between one Model or Character of writing and another. All runs to the same Tune, and beats exactly one and the same Measure. Nothing, one wou’d think, cou’d be more tedious than this uniform Pace. The common Amble or Canterbury is not, I am persuaded, more tiresom to a good Rider, than this see-saw of Essay-Writers is to an able Reader. The just Composer of a legitimate Piece is like an able Traveller, who exactly measures his Journey, considers his Ground, premeditates his Stages, and Intervals of Relaxation and Intention, to the very Conclusion of his Undertaking, that he happily arrives where he first propos’d when he set out. He is not presently upon the Spur, or in his full Career; but walks his Steed leisurely out of his Stable, settles himself in his Stirrups, and when fair Road and Season offer, puts on perhaps to a round Trot; thence into a Gallop, and after a while takes up. As Down, or Meadow, or shady Lane present themselves, he accordingly sutes his Pace, favours his Palfry; and is sure not to bring him puffing, and in a heat, into his last Inn. But the Post-way is become highly fashionable with modern Authors. The very same stroke sets you out, and brings you in. Nothing stays, or interrupts. Hill or Valley; rough or smooth; thick or thin: No Difference; no Variation. When an Author sits down to write, he knows no other Business he has, than to be witty, and take care that his Periods be well turn’d, or (as they commonly say) run smooth. In this manner, he doubts not to gain the Character of bright. When he has writ as many Pages as he likes, or as his Run of Fancy wou’d permit; he then perhaps considers what Name he had best give to his new Writing: whether he shou’d call it Letter, Essay, Miscellany, or aught else. The Bookseller perhaps is to determine this at last, when all, besides the Preface, Epistle Dedicatory, and Title-page, is dispatch’d.
[Hesitating whether he should make a bench or a Priapus. . . . So I am a God!] Horat. Sat. 8. Lib. i. ver. 2.
Chap. 1.CHAPTER I
Review ofEnthusiasm.—Its Defense, Praise:—Use in Business as well as Pleasure:—Operation by Fear, Love.—Modifications of Enthusiasm: Magnanimity; Heroick Virtue; Honour; Publick Zeal; Religion; Superstition; Persecution; Martyrdom.—Energy of the extatick Devotion in the Tender Sex.—Account of antient Priesthood.—Religious War.—Reference to a succeeding Chapter.
WHETHER in fact there be any real Enchantment, any Influence of Stars, any Power of Daemons or of foreign Natures over our own Minds, is thought questionable by many. Some there are who assert the Negative, and endeavour to solve the Appearances of this kind by the natural Operation of our Passions, and the common Course of outward Things. For my own part, I cannot but at this present apprehend a kind of Enchantment or Magick in that which we call Enthusiasm; since I find, that having touch’d slightly on this Subject, I cannot so easily part with it at pleasure.
After having made some cursory Reflections on our Author’s *Letter, I thought I might have sufficiently acquitted my-self on this head; till passing to his next Treatise, I found my-self still further ingag’d. I perceiv’d plainly that I had as yet scarce enter’d into our Author’s Humour, or felt any thing of that Passion, which, as he informs us, is so easily communicable and naturally engaging. But what I had pass’d over in my first Reflections, I found naturally rising in me, upon second thoughts. So that by experience I prov’d it true what our Author says,† “That we all of us know something of this Principle.” And now that I find I have in reality so much of it imparted to me, I may with better reason be pardon’d, if, after our Author’s example, I am led to write on such Subjects as these, with Caution, at different Reprises; and not singly, in one Breath.
I have heard indeed that the very reading of Treatises and Accounts of Melancholy, has been apt to generate that Passion in the over-diligent and attentive Reader. And this perhaps may have been the reason, why our Author himself (as he seems to intimate towards the Conclusion of his first *Letter) car’d not in reality to grapple closely with his Subject, or give us, at once, the precise Definition of Enthusiasm. This however we may, with our Author, presume to infer, from the coolest of all Studys, even from Criticism it-self, (of which we have been lately treating) † “That there is a Power in Numbers, Harmony, Proportion, and Beauty of every kind, which naturally captivates the Heart, and raises the Imagination to an Opinion or Conceit of something majestick and divine.”
Whatever this Subject may be in it-self; we cannot help being transported with the thought of it. It inspires us with something more than ordinary, and raises us above our-selves. Without this Imagination or Conceit, the World wou’d be but a dull Circumstance, and Life a sorry Pass-time. Scarce cou’d we be said to live. The animal Functions might in their course be carry’d on; but nothing further sought for, or regarded. The gallant Sentiments, the elegant Fancys, the Belle-passions, which have, all of them, this Beauty in view, wou’d be set aside, and leave us probably no other Employment than that of satisfying our coarsest Appetites at the cheapest rate; in order to the attainment of a supine State of Indolence and Inactivity.
Slender wou’d be the Enjoyments of the Lover, the ambitious Man, the Warrior, or the Virtuoso, (as our Author has ‡ elsewhere intimated) if in the Beautys which they admire, and passionately pursue, there were no reference or regard to any higher Majesty or Grandure, than what simply results from the particular Objects of their pursuit. I know not, in reality, what we shou’d do to find a seasoning to most of our Pleasures in Life, were it not for the Taste or Relish, which is owing to this particular Passion, and the Conceit or Imagination which supports it. Without this, we cou’d not so much as admire a Poem, or a Picture; a Garden, or a Palace; a charming Shape, or a fair Face.Love it-self wou’d appear the lowest thing in Nature, when thus anticipated, and treated according to the Anti-enthusiastick Poet’s method:
* And to indulge lust with whoever is at hand.
How Heroism or Magnanimity must stand in this Hypothesis, is easy to imagine. The Muses themselves must make a very indifferent figure in this philosophical Draught. Even the Prince of † Poets wou’d prove a most insipid Writer, if he were thus reduc’d. Nor cou’d there, according to this Scheme, be yet a place of Honour left even for our ‡Latin Poet, the great Disciple of this un-polite Philosophy, who dares with so little Equity employ the Muses Art in favour of such a System. But in spite of his Philosophy, he everywhere gives way to Admiration, and rapturous Views of Nature. He is transported with the several Beautys of the World, even whilst he arraigns the Order of it, and destroys the Principle ofBeauty, from whence in antient Languages the **World it-self was nam’d.
This is what our Author advances; when in behalf of Enthusiasm he quotes its formal Enemys, and shews That they are as capable of it as its greatest Confessors and Assertors. So far is he from degrading Enthusiasm, or disclaiming it in himself; that he looks on this Passion, simply consider’d, as the most natural, and its Object as the justest in the World. Even Virtue it-self he takes to be no other than a noble Enthusiasm justly directed, and regulated by that high Standard which he supposes in the Nature of Things.
He seems to assert, * “That there are certain moral Species or Appearances so striking, and of such force over our Natures, that when they present themselves, they bear down all contrary Opinion or Conceit, all opposite Passion, Sensation, or mere bodily Affection.” Of this kind he makes Virtue it-self to be the chief: since of all Views or Contemplations, this, in his account, is the most naturally and strongly affecting. The exalted part of Love is only borrow’d hence. That of pure Friendship is its immediate Self. He who yields his Life a Sacrifice to his Prince or Country; the Lover who for his Paramour performs as much; the heroick, the amorous, the religious Martyrs, who draw their Views, whether visionary or real, from this Pattern and Exemplar of Divinity: all these, according to our Author’s Sentiment, are alike actuated by this Passion, and prove themselves in effect so many different Enthusiasts.
Nor is thorow Honesty, in his Hypothesis, any other than this Zeal, or Passion, moving strongly upon the Species or View of the Decorum, and Sublime of Actions. Others may pursue † different Forms, and fix their Eye on different Species, (as all Men do on one or other): The real honest Man, however plain or simple he appears, has that highest Species, ‡Honesty it-self, in view; and instead of outward Forms or Symmetrys, is struck with that of inward Character, the Harmony and Numbers of the Heart, and Beauty of the Affections, which form the Manners and Conduct of a truly social Life.
’Tis indeed peculiar to the Genius of that cool Philosophy * above describ’d; that as it denies the Order or Harmony of Things in general, so by a just Consequence and Truth of Reasoning, it rejects the Habit of admiring or being charm’d with whatever is call’d Beautiful in particular. According to the Regimen prescrib’d by this Philosophy, it must be acknowledg’d that the Evils of Love, Ambition, Vanity, Luxury, with other Disturbances deriv’d from the florid, high, and elegant Ideas of Things, must in appearance be set in a fair way of being radically cur’d.
It need not be thought surprizing, that Religion it-self shou’d in the account of these Philosophers be reckon’d among those Vices and Disturbances, which it concerns us after this manner to extirpate. If the Idea of Majesty and Beauty in other inferior Subjects be in reality distracting; it must chiefly prove so, in that principal Subject, the Basis and Foundation of this Conceit. Now if the Subject it-self be not in Nature, neither the Idea nor the Passion grounded on it can be properly esteem’d natural: And thus all Admiration ceases; and Enthusiasm is at an end. But if there be naturally such a Passion; ’tis evident that Religion it-self is of the kind, and must be therefore natural to Man.
We can admire nothing profoundly, without a certain religious Veneration. And because this borders so much on Fear, and raises a certain Tremor or Horror of like appearance; ’tis easy to give that Turn to the Affection, and represent all Enthusiasm and religious Extasy as the Product or mere Effect of Fear:
The first fear fashioned the gods on earth.1
But the original Passion, as appears plainly, is of another kind, and in effect is so confess’d by those who are the greatest Opposers of Religion, and who, as our Author observes, have shewn themselves sufficiently convinc’d, * “That altho these Ideas of Divinity and Beauty were vain; they were yet in a manner innate, or such as Men were really born to, and cou’d hardly by any means avoid.”
Now as all Affections have their Excess, and require Judgment and Discretion to moderate and govern them; so this high and noble Affection, which raises Man to Action, and is his Guide in Business as well as Pleasure, requires a steddy Rein and strict Hand over it. All Moralists, worthy of any Name, have recogniz’d the Passion; tho among these the wisest have prescrib’d Restraint, press’d Moderation, and to all Tyro’s in Philosophy forbid the forward Use of Admiration, Rapture, or Extasy, even in the Subjects they esteem’d the highest, and most divine. They knew very well that the first Motion, Appetite, and Ardour of the Youth in general towards † Philosophy and Knowledg, depended chiefly on this Turn of Temper: Yet were they well appriz’d, withal, That in the Progress of this Study, as well as in the affairs of Life, the florid Ideas and exalted Fancy of this kind became the Fuel of many incendiary Passions; and that, in religious Concerns particularly, the Habit of Admiration and contemplative Delight, wou’d, by over-Indulgence, too easily mount into high Fanaticism, or degenerate into abject Superstition.
Upon the whole therefore, according to our Author, Enthusiasm is, in it-self, a very natural honest Passion; and has properly nothing for its Object but what is ‡Good and Honest. ’Tis apt indeed, he confesses, to run astray. And by modern example we know, perhaps yet better than by any antient, that, in Religion, the Enthusiasm which works by Love, is subject to many strange Irregularitys; and that which works by Fear, to many monstrous and horrible Superstitions. Mysticks and Fanaticks are known to abound as well in our Reform’d, as in the Romish Churches. The pretended Floods of Grace pour’d into the Bosoms of the Quietists, Pietists, and those who favour the extatick way of Devotion, raise such Transports, as by their own Proselytes are confess’d to have something strangely agreeable, and in common with what ordinary Lovers are us’d to feel. And it has been remark’d by many, That the Female Saints have been the greatest Improvers of this soft part of Religion. What truth there may be in the related Operations of this pretended Grace and amorous Zeal, or in the Accounts of what has usually past between the Saints of each Sex, in these devout Extasys, I shall leave the Reader to examine: supposing he will find credible Accounts, sufficient to convince him of the dangerous progress of Enthusiasm in this amorous Lineage.
There are many Branches indeed more vulgar, as that of Fear, Melancholy, Consternation, Suspicion, Despair. And when the Passion turns more towards the astonishing and frightful, than the amiable and delightful side, it creates rather what we call Superstition than Enthusiasm. I must confess withal, that what we commonly style Zeal in matters of Religion, is seldom without a mixture of both these Extravagancys. The extatick Motions of Love and Admiration, are seldom un-accompany’d with the Horrors and Consternations of a lower sort of Devotion. These Paroxysms of Zeal are in reality as the hot and cold Fits of an Ague, and depend on the different and occasional Views or Aspects of the Divinity; according as the Worshiper is * guided from without, or affected from within, by his particular Constitution. Seldom are those Aspects so determinate and fix’d, as to excite constantly one and the same Spirit of Devotion. In Religions therefore, which hold most of Love, there is generally room left for Terrors of the deepest kind. Nor is there any Religion so diabolical, as, in its representation of Divinity, to leave no room for Admiration and Esteem. Whatever Personage orSpecter of Divinity is worship’d; a certain Esteem and Love is generally affected by his Worshipers. Or if, in the Devotion paid him, there be in truth no real or absolute Esteem; there is however a certain astonishing Delight or Ravishment excited.
This Passion is experienc’d, in common, by every Worshiper of the Zealot-kind. The Motion, when un-guided, and left wholly to it-self, is in its nature turbulent and incentive. It disjoints the natural Frame, and relaxes the ordinary Tone or Tenor of the Mind. In this Disposition the Reins are let loose to all Passion which arises: And the Mind, as far as it is able to act or think in such a State, approves the Riot, and justifies the wild Effects, by the suppos’d Sacredness of the Cause. Every Dream and Frenzy is made Inspiration; every Affection, Zeal. And in this Persuasion the Zealots, no longer self-govern’d, but set adrift to the wide Sea of Passion, can in one and the same Spirit of Devotion, exert the opposite Passions of Love and Hatred; unite affectionately, and abhor furiously; curse, bless, sing, mourn, exult, tremble, caress, assassinate, inflict and suffer*Martyrdom, with a thousand other the most vehement Efforts of variable and contrary Affection.
THE common Heathen Religion, especially in its latter Age, when adorn’d with the most beautiful Temples, and render’d more illustrious by the Munificence of the Roman Senate and succeeding Emperors, ran wholly into Pomp, and was supported chiefly by that sort of Enthusiasm, which is rais’d from the * external Objects of Grandure, Majesty, and what we call August. On the other side, the Egyptian or Syrian Religions, which lay more in Mystery and conceal’d Rites; having less Dependence on the Magistrate, and less of that Decorum of Art, Politeness, and Magnificence, ran into a more pusillanimous, frivolous, and mean kind of Superstition; “The Observation of Days, the Forbearance of Meats, and the Contention about Traditions, Seniority of Laws, and † Priority of Godships.”
Hence a raging madness is abroad on both sides, because each place hates its neighbours’ deities, since it believes that only its own objects of worship are Gods.2
History, withal, informs us of a certain Establishment in Egypt, which was very extraordinary, and must needs have had a very uncommon effect; no way advantageous to that Nation in particular, or to the general Society of Mankind. We know very well, that nothing is more injurious to the Police, or municipal Constitution of any City or Colony, than the forcing of a particular Trade: Nothing more dangerous than the over-peopling any Manufacture, or multiplying the Traders, or Dealers, of whatever Vocation, beyond their natural Proportion, and the publick Demand. Now it happen’d of old, in this Mother-Land of Superstition, that ‡ the Sons of certain Artists were by Law oblig’d always to follow the same Calling with their Fathers. Thus the Son of a Priest was always a Priest by Birth, as was the whole Lineage after him, without interruption. Nor was it a Custom with this Nation, as with others, to have only *one single Priest or Priestess to a Temple: but as the Number of Gods and Temples was infinite; so was that of the Priests. The Religious Foundations were without Restriction: and to one single Worship or Temple, as many of the Holy Order might be Retainers, as cou’d raise a Maintenance from the Office.
Whatever happen’d to other Races or Professions, that of the Priest, in all likelihood, must, by this Regulation, have propagated the most of any. ’Tis a tempting Circumstance; to have so easy a Mastery over the World; to subdue by Wit instead of Force; to practise on the Passions, and triumph over the Judgment of Mankind; to influence private Familys, and publick Councils; conquer Conquerors; controul the Magistrate himself, and govern without the Envy which attends all other Government or Superiority. No wonder if such a Profession was apt to multiply: especially when we consider the easy Living and Security of the Professors, their Exemption from all Labour, and Hazard; the suppos’d Sacredness of their Character; and their free Possession of Wealth, Grandure, Estates, and Women.
There was no need to invest such a Body as this, with rich Lands and ample Territorys, as it happen’d in Egypt. The Generation or Tribe being once set apart as sacred, wou’d, without further encouragement, be able, no doubt, in process of time, to establish themselves a plentiful and growing Fund, or religious Land-Bank. ’Twas a sufficient Donative, to have had only that single Privilege from the * Law; “That they might retain what they cou’d get; and that it might be lawful for their Order to receive such Estates by voluntary Contribution, as cou’d never afterwards be converted to other Uses.”
Now if, besides the Method of Propagation by Descent, other Methods of Increase were allow’d in this Order of Men; if Volunteers were also admitted at pleasure, without any Stint or Confinement to a certain Number; ’tis not difficult to imagine how enormous the Growth wou’d be of such a Science or Profession, thus recogniz’d by the Magistrate, thus invested with Lands and Power, and thus intitled to whatever extent of Riches or Possession cou’d be acquir’d by Practice and Influence over the superstitious part of Mankind.
There were, besides, in Egypt some natural Causes of Superstition, beyond those which were common to other Regions. This Nation might well abound in Prodigys, when even their Country and Soil it-self was a kind of Prodigy in Nature. Their solitary idle Life, whilst shut up in their Houses by the regular Inundations of the Nile; the unwholesom Vapours arising from the new Mud, and slimy Relicts of their River, expos’d to the hot Suns; their various Meteors and Phaenomena; with the long Vacancy they had to observe and comment on them; the necessity, withal, which, on the account of their Navigation, and the Measure of their yearly drowned Lands, compell’d them to promote the Studys of Astronomy and other Sciences, of which their Priesthood cou’d make good advantages: All these may be reckon’d, perhaps, as additional Causes of the immense Growth of Superstition, and the enormous Increase of the Priesthood in this fertile Land.
’Twill however, as I conceive, be found unquestionably true, according to political Arithmetick, in every Nation whatsoever; “That the Quantity of Superstition (if I may so speak) will, in proportion, nearly answer the Number of Priests, Diviners, Soothsayers, Prophets, or such who gain their Livelihood, or receive Advantages by officiating in religious Affairs.” For if these Dealers are numerous, they will force a Trade. And as the liberal Hand of the Magistrate can easily raise Swarms of this kind, where they are already but in a moderate proportion; so where, thro’ any other cause, the Number of these increasing still, by degrees, is suffer’d to grow beyond a certain measure, they will soon raise such a Ferment in Mens Minds, as will at least compel the Magistrate, however sensible of the Grievance, to be cautious in proceeding to a Reform.
We may observe in other necessary Professions, rais’d on the Infirmitys and Defects of Mankind, (as for instance, in Law and Physick) “That with the least help from the Bounty or Beneficence of the Magistrate, the Number of the Professors, and the Subject-matter of the Profession, is found over and above increasing.” New Difficultys are started: New Subjects of Contention: Deeds and Instruments of Law grow more numerous and prolix: Hypotheses, Methods, Regimens, more various; and the Materia Medica more extensive and abundant. What, in process of time, must therefore naturally have happen’d in the case of Religion, among the Egyptians, may easily be gather’d.
Nor is it strange that we shou’d find the *Property and Power of the Egyptian Priesthood, in antient days, arriv’d to such a height, as in a manner to have swallow’d up the State and Monarchy. A worse Accident befel the Persian Crown, of which the Hierarchy having got absolute possession, had once a fair Chance for Universal Empire. Now that the Persian or Babylonian Hierarchy was much after the Model of the Egyptian, tho different perhaps in Rites and Ceremonys, we may well judg; not only from the History of the †Magi, but from what is recorded of antient Colonys sent long before by the Egyptians into ‡Chaldea and the adjacent Countrys. And whether the Ethiopian Model was from that of Egypt, or the Egyptian from that of Ethiopia, (for ** each Nation had its pretence) we know by remarkable † Effects, that the Ethiopian Empire was once in the same Condition: the State having been wholly swallow’d in the exorbitant Power of their landed Hierarchy. So true it is, “That Dominion must naturally follow Property.” Nor is it possible, as I conceive, for any State or Monarchy to withstand the Encroachments of a growing Hierarchy, founded on the Model of these Egyptian and Asiatick Priesthoods. No Superstition will ever be wanting among the Ignorant and Vulgar, whilst the Able and Crafty have a power to gain Inheritances and Possessions by working on this human Weakness. This is a Fund which, by these Allowances, will prove inexhaustible. New Modes of Worship, new Miracles, new Heroes, Saints, Divinitys (which, serve as new Occasions for sacredDonatives) will be easily supply’d on the part of the religious Orders; whilst the Civil Magistrate authorizes the accumulative Donation, and neither restrains the Number or Possessions of the Sacred Body.
We find, withal, that in the early days of this antient Priestly Nation of whom we have been speaking, ’twas thought expedient also, for the increase of Devotion, to enlarge their System of Deity; and either by mystical Genealogy, Consecration, or Canonization, to multiply their reveal’d Objects of Worship, and raise new Personages of Divinity in their Religion. They proceeded, it seems, in process of time, to increase the * Number of their Gods, so far that, at last, they became in a manner numberless. What odd Shapes, Species, and Forms of Deity were in latter times exhibited, is well known. Scarce an Animal or Plant but was adopted into some share of Divinity.
† O pious nation, for whom Gods like these grow in the garden!
No wonder if by a Nation so abounding in religious Orders, spiritual Conquests were sought in foreign Countrys, ‡ Colonys led abroad, and Missionarys detach’d, on Expeditions, in this prosperous Service. ’Twas thus a Zealot-People, influenc’d of old by their very Region and Climate, and who thro’ a long Tract of Time, under a peculiar Policy, had been rais’d both by Art and Nature to an immense Growth in religious Science and Mystery; came by degrees to spread their variety of Rites and Ceremonys, their distinguishing Marks of separate Worships and secrete Communitys, thro’ the distant World; but chiefly thro’ their neighbouring and dependent Countrys.
We understand from History, that even when the EgyptianState was least powerful in Arms, it was still respected for its Religion and Mysterys. It drew Strangers from all Parts to behold its Wonders. And the Fertility of its Soil forc’d the adjacent People, and wandring Nations, who liv’d dispers’d in single Tribes, to visit them, court their Alliance, and sollicit a Trade and Commerce with them, on whatsoever Terms. The Strangers, no doubt, might well receive religious Rites and Doctrines from those, to whom they ow’d their Maintenance and Bread.
Before the time that Israel was constrain’d to go down to Egypt, and sue for Maintenance to these powerful Dynastys or Low-Land States, the Holy Patriarch*Abraham himself had been necessitated to this Compliance on the same account. He apply’d in the same manner to the EgyptianCourt. He was at first well receiv’d, and handsomly presented; but afterwards ill us’d, and out of favour with the Prince, yet suffer’d to depart the Kingdom, and retire with his Effects; without any attempt of recalling him again by force, as it happen’d in the case of his Posterity. ’Tis certain that if this holy Patriarch, who first instituted the sacred Rite of Circumcision within his own Family or Tribe, had no regard to any Policy or Religion of the Egyptians; yet he had formerly been a Guest and Inhabitant in Egypt (where † Historians mention this to have been a national Rite); long * ere he had receiv’d any divine Notice or Revelation, concerning this Affair. Nor was it in Religion merely that this reverend Guest was said to have deriv’d Knowledg and Learning from the Egyptians. ’Twas from this Parent-Country of occult Sciences, that he was presum’d, together with other Wisdom, to have learnt that of †judicial Astrology; as his Successors did afterwards other prophetical and miraculous Arts, proper to the Magi, or Priesthood of this Land.
One cannot indeed but observe, in after times, the strange Adherence and servile Dependency of the whole Hebrew Race on the Egyptian Nation. It appears that tho they were of old abus’d in the Person of their grand Patriarch; tho afterwards held in bondage, and treated as the most abject Slaves; tho twice expel’d, or necessitated to save themselves by flight, out of this oppressive Region; yet in the very instant of their last Retreat, whilst they were yet on their March, conducted by visible Divinity, supply’d and fed from Heaven, and supported by continual Miracles; they notwithstanding inclin’d so strongly to the Manners, the Religion, Rites, Diet, Customs, Laws, and Constitutions of their tyrannical Masters, that it was with the utmost difficulty they could be with-held from ‡ returning again into the same Subjection. Nor could their great Captains and Legislators prevent their * relapsing perpetually into the same Worship to which they had been so long accustom’d.
How far the divine Providence might have indulg’d the stubborn Habit and stupid Humour of this People, by giving them Laws (as the † Prophet says) which he himself approv’d not, I have no Intention to examine. This only I pretend to infer from what has been advanc’d; “That the Manners, Opinions, Rites and Customs of the Egyptians, had, in the earliest times, and from Generation to Generation, strongly influenc’d the Hebrew People (their Guests, and Subjects) and had undoubtedly gain’d a powerful Ascendency over their Natures.”
How extravagant soever the multitude of the EgyptianSuperstitions may appear, ’tis certain that their Doctrine and Wisdom were in high repute; since it is taken notice of in Holy Scripture, as no small Advantage even to Moses himself, * “That he had imbib’d the Wisdom of this Nation”; which, as is well known, lay chiefly among their Priests and Magi.
Before the Time that the great Hebrew Legislator receiv’d his Education among these Sages, a †Hebrew Slave, who came a Youth into the Egyptian Court, had already grown so powerful in this kind of Wisdom, as to outdo the chief Diviners, Prognosticators, and Interpreters of Egypt. He rais’d himself to be chief Minister to a Prince, who, following his Advice, obtain’d in a manner the whole Property, and consequently the absolute Dominion of that Land. But to what height of Power the establish’d Priesthood was arriv’d even at that time, may be conjectur’d hence; “That the Crown (to speak in a modern Style) offer’d not to meddle with the Church-Lands”; and that in this great Revolution nothing was attempted, so much as by way of Purchase or Exchange,* in prejudice of this Landed Clergy: The prime Minister himself having join’d his Interest with theirs, and enter’d † by Marriage into their Alliance. And in this he was follow’d by the great Founder of the Hebrew-State; for he also ‡ match’d himself with the Priesthood of some of the neighbouring Nations, and Traders ** into Egypt, long ere his Establishment of the Hebrew Religion and Commonwealth. Nor had he perfected his Model, till he consulted the foreign Priest his †† Father-in-law, to whose Advice he paid such remarkable Deference.
BUT TO resume the Subject of our Speculation, concerning the wide Diffusion of the Priestly Science or Function; it appears from what has been said, that notwithstanding the Egyptian Priesthood was, by antient Establishment, hereditary; the Skill of Divining, Soothsaying, and Magick was communicated to others besides their national sacred Body: and that the Wisdom of the Magicians, the Power of Miracles, their Interpretation of Dreams and Visions, and their Art of administring in Divine Affairs, were entrusted even to Foreigners who resided amongst them.
It appears, withal, from these Considerations, how apt the religious Profession was to spread it-self widely in this Region of the World; and what Efforts wou’d naturally be made by the more necessitous of these unlimited Professors, towards a Fortune, or Maintenance, for themselves and their Successors.
Common Arithmetick will, in this Case, demonstrate to us, “That as the Proportion of so many Lay-men to each Priest grew every day less and less, so the Wants and Necessitys of each Priest must grow more and more.” The Magistrate too, who according to this Egyptian Regulation had resign’d his Title or share of Right in sacred Things, cou’d no longer govern, as he pleas’d, in these Affairs, or check the growing Number of these Professors. The spiritual Generations were left to prey on others, and (like Fish of Prey) even on themselves, when destitute of other Capture, and confin’d within too narrow Limits. What Method, therefore, was there left to heighten the Zeal of Worshipers, and augment their Liberality, but “to foment their Emulation, prefer Worship to Worship, Faith to Faith; and turn the Spirit of Enthusiasm to the side of sacred Horror, religious Antipathy, and mutual Discord between Worshipers?”
Thus Provinces and Nations were divided by the most contrary Rites and Customs which cou’d be devis’d, in order to create the strongest Aversion possible between Creatures of a like Species. For when all other Animositys are allay’d, and Anger of the fiercest kind appeas’d, the religious Hatred, we find, continues still, as it began, without Provocation or voluntary Offence. The presum’d Misbeliever and Blasphemer, as one rejected and abhor’d of God, is thro’ a pious Imitation, abhor’d by the adverse Worshiper, whose Enmity must naturally increase as his religious Zeal increases.
From hence the Opposition rose of Temple against Temple, Proselyte against Proselyte. The most zealous Worship of oneGod, was best express’d (as they conceiv’d) by the open defiance of another.Sir-Names and Titles of Divinity pass’d as Watch-words. He who had not the Symbol, nor cou’d give the Word, receiv’d the Knock.
Down with him! Kill him! Merit Heaven thereby;
As our * Poet has it, in his American Tragedy.
Nor did †Philosophy, when introduc’d into Religion, extinguish, but rather inflame this Zeal: as we may shew perhaps in our following Chapter more particularly; if we return again, as is likely, to this Subject. For this, we perceive, is of a kind apt enough to grow upon our hands. We shall here, therefore, observe only what is obvious to every Student in sacred Antiquitys, That from the contentious Learning and Sophistry of the antient Schools (when true Science, Philosophy, and Arts were already deep in their * Decline) religious Problems of a like contentious Form sprang up; and certain DoctrinalTests were fram’d, by which religious Partys were ingag’d and lifted against one another, with more Animosity than in any other Cause or Quarrel had been ever known. Thus religious Massacres began, and were carry’d on; Temples were demolish’d; holy Utensils destroy’d; the sacred Pomp trodden under-foot, insulted; and the Insulters in their turn expos’d to the same Treatment, in their Persons as well as in their Worship. Thus Madness and Confusion were brought upon the World, like that Chaos, which the Poet miraculously describes in the mouth of his mad Hero: When even in Celestial Places, Disorder and Blindness reign’d:—“No Dawn of Light”;
Chap. 2.CHAPTER II
Judgment of Divines and grave Authors concerning Enthusiasm.—Reflections upon Scepticism.—A Sceptick-Christian.—Judgment of the Inspir’d concerning their own Inspirations.—Knowledg and Belief.—History of Religion resum’d.—ZealOffensive and Defensive.—A Church in Danger.—Persecution.—Policy of the Church ofRome.
WHAT I had to remark of my own concerning Enthusiasm, I have thus dispatch’d: What Others have remark’d on the same Subject, I may, as an Apologist to another Author, be allow’d to cite; especially if I take notice only of what has been dropt very naturally by some of our most approv’d Authors, and ablest Divines.
It has been thought an odd kind of Temerity, in our Author, to assert, * “That even Atheism it-self was not wholly exempt from Enthusiasm; That there have been in reality Enthusiastical Atheists; and That even the Spirit of Martyrdom cou’d, upon occasion, exert it-self as well in this Cause, as in any other.” Now, besides what has been intimated in the preceding Chapter, and what in fact may be demonstrated from the Examples of Vaninus and other Martyrs of a like Principle, we may hear an † excellent and learned Divine, of highest Authority at home, and Fame abroad; who after having describ’d an Enthusiastical Atheist and one atheistically inspir’d, says of this very sort of Men, “That they are Fanaticks too; however that word seem to have a more peculiar respect to something of aDeity: All Atheists being that blind Goddess-Nature’sFanaticks.”
And again: “All Atheists (says he) are possess’d with a certain kind of Madness, that may be call’d ‡Pneumatophobia, that makes them have an irrational but desperate Abhorrence from Spirits or incorporal Substances; they being acted also, at the same time, with an Hylomania, whereby they madly dote upon Matter, and devoutly worship it, as the only Numen.”
What the Power of Extasy is, whether thro’ Melancholy, Wine, Love, or other natural Causes, another learned * Divine of our Church, in a Discourse upon Enthusiasm, sets forth: bringing an Example from Aristotle, “of a Syracusean Poet, who never versify’d so well, as when he was in his distracted Fits.” But as to Poets in general, compar’d with thereligious Enthusiasts, he says: There is this Difference; “That a Poet is an Enthusiast in jest: and an Enthusiast is a Poet in good earnest.”
“’Tis a strong Temptation † (says the Doctor) with a Melancholist, when he feels a Storm of Devotion and Zeal come upon him like a mighty Wind; his Heart being full of Affection, his Head pregnant with clear and sensible Representations, and his Mouth flowing and streaming with fit and powerful Expressions, such as would astonish an ordinary ‡ Auditory; ’tis, I say, a shreud Temptation to him, to think it the very Spirit of God that then moves supernaturally in him; whenas all that Excess of Zeal and Affection, and Fluency of Words, is most palpably to be resolv’d into the power of Melancholy, which is a kind of natural Inebriation.”
The learned Doctor, with much pains afterwards, and by help of the Peripatetick Philosophy, explains this Enthusiastick Inebriation, and shews in particular,** “How the Vapours and Fumes of Melancholy partake of the nature of Wine.”
One might conjecture from hence, that the malicious Opposers of early Christianity were not unvers’d in this Philosophy; when they sophistically objected against the apparent Force of the Divine Spirit speaking in divers Languages, and attributed it “To the Power of new*Wine.”
But our devout and zealous Doctor seems to go yet further. For besides what he says of the †Enthusiastick Power of Fancy in Atheists, he calls Melancholy‡a pertinacious and religious Complexion; and asserts, “That there is not any true spiritual Grace from God, but this mere natural Constitution, according to the several Tempers and Workings of it, will not only resemble, but sometimes seem to outstrip.” And after speaking of **PropheticalEnthusiasm, and establishing (as our Author †† does) a Legitimate and a Bastard-sort, he asserts and justifies the ‡‡DevotionalEnthusiasm (as he calls it) of holy and sincere Souls, and ascribes this also to Melancholy.
He allows, “That the Soul may sink so far into Phantasms, as not to recover the use of her free Facultys; and that this enormous Strength of Imagination does not only beget the Belief of mad internal Apprehensions, but is able to assure us of the Presence of external Objects which are not.” He adds, “That what Custom and Education do by degrees, distemper’d Fancy may do in a shorter time.” And speaking (a) of Extasy and the Power of Melancholy in Extatick Fancys, he says, “That what the Imagination then puts forth, of herself, is as clear as broad day; and the Perception of the Soul at least as strong and vigorous, as at any time in beholding things awake.”
From whence the Doctor infers, “That the Strength of Perception is no sure Ground of Truth.”
Had any other than a reverend Father of our Church express’d himself in this manner, he must have been contented perhaps to bear a sufficient Charge of Scepticism.
’Twas good fortune in my Lord Bacon’s Case, that he shou’d have escap’d being call’d an Atheist, or a Sceptick, when speaking in a solemn manner of the religious Passion, the Ground of Superstition, or Enthusiasm, (which he also terms *a Panick) he derives it from an Imperfection in the Creation, Make, or natural Constitution of Man. How far the Author of the†Letter differs from this Author in his Opinion both of the End and Foundation of this Passion, may appear from what has been said above. And, in general, from what we read in the other succeeding Treatises of our Author, we may venture to say of him with Assurance, “That he is as little a Sceptick (according to the vulgar Sense of that word) as he is Epicurean, or Atheist.” This may be prov’d sufficiently from his Philosophy: And for any thing higher, ’tis what he no-where presumes to treat; having forborn in particular to mention any Holy Mysterys of our Religion, or Sacred Article of our Belief.
As for what relates to *Revelation in general, if I mistake not our Author’s meaning, he professes to believe, as far as is possible for any one who himself had never experienc’d any Divine Communication, whether by Dream, Vision, Apparition, or other supernatural Operation; nor was ever present as Eye-witness of any Sign, Prodigy, or Miracle whatsoever. Many of these, † he observes, are at this day pretendedly exhibited in the World, with an Endeavour of giving them the perfect Air and exact Resemblance of those recorded in Holy Writ. He speaks indeed with Contempt of the Mockery of modern Miracles and Inspiration. And as to all Pretences to things of this kind in ourpresent Age; he seems inclin’d to look upon ’em as no better than mere Imposture or Delusion. But for what is recorded of Ages heretofore, he seems to resign his Judgment, with intire Condescension, to his Superiors. He pretends not to frame any certain or positive Opinion of his own, notwithstanding his best Searches into Antiquity, and the Nature of religious Record and Tradition: but on all occasions submits most willingly, and with full Confidence and Trust, to the ‡ Opinions by Law establish’d. And if this be not sufficient to free him from the Reproach of Scepticism, he must, for ought I see, be content to undergo it.
To say truth, I have often wonder’d to find such a Disturbance rais’d about the simple name of **Sceptick. ’Tis certain that, in its original and plain signification, the word imports no more than barely, “That State or Frame of Mind in which every one remains, on every Subject of which he is not certain.” He who is certain, or presumes to say he knows, is in that particular, whether he be mistaken or in the right, a Dogmatist. Between these two States or Situations of Mind, there can be no medium. For he who says, “That he believes for certain, or is assur’d of what he believes”; either speaks ridiculously, or says in effect, “That he believes strongly, but is not sure.” So that whoever is not conscious of Revelation, nor has certain Knowledg of any Miracle or Sign, can be no more than Sceptick in the Case: And the best Christian in the World, who being destitute of the means of Certainty, depends only on History and Tradition for his Belief in these Particulars, is at best but a Sceptick-Christian. He has no more than a nicely critical *Historical Faith, subject to various Speculations, and a thousand different Criticisms of Languages and Literature.
This he will naturally find to be the Case, if he attempts to search into Originals, in order to be his own Judg, and proceed on the bottom of his own Discernment, and Understanding. If, on the other hand, he is no Critick, nor competently learned in these Originals; ’tis plain he can have no original Judgment of his own; but must rely still on the Opinion of those who have opportunity to examine such matters, and whom he takes to be the unbias’d and disinterested Judges of these religious Narratives. His Faith is not in antient Facts or Persons, nor in the antient Writ, or Primitive Recorders; nor in the successive Collators or Conservators of these Records (for of these he is unable to take cognizance): But his Confidence and Trust must be in those modern Men, or Societys of Men, to whom the Publick, or He himself, ascribes the Right to judg of these Records, and commits the Determination of sacred Writ and genuine Story.
Let the Person seem ever so positive or dogmatical in these high Points of Learning; he is yet in reality no Dogmatist, nor can any way free himself from a certain kind of Scepticism. He must know himself still capable of Doubting: Or if, for fear of it, he strives to banish every opposite Thought, and resolves not so much as to deliberate on the Case; this still will not acquit him. So far are we from being able to be sure when we have a mind; that indeed we can never be thorowly sure, but then only when we can’t help it, and find of necessity we must be so, whether we will or not. Even the highest implicit Faith is in reality no more than a kind of passiveScepticism; “A Resolution to examine, recollect, consider, or hear, as little as possible to the prejudice of that Belief, which having once espous’d we are ever afterwards afraid to lose.”
If I might be allow’d to imitate our Author, in daring to touch now and then upon the Characters of our Divine Worthys, I shou’d, upon this Subject of Belief, observe how fair and generous the great Christian Convert, and learnedApostle, has shewn himself in his Sacred Writings. Notwithstanding he had himself an original Testimony and Revelation from Heaven, on which he grounded his Conversion; notwithstanding he had in his own Person the Experience of outward Miracles and inward Communications; he condescended still, on many occasions, to speak sceptically, and with some Hesitation and Reserve, as to the Certainty of these Divine Exhibitions. In his account of some Transactions of this kind, himself being the Witness, and speaking (as we may presume) of his own Person, and proper Vision, * he says only that “He knew a Man: whether in the Body or out of it, he cannot tell. But such a one caught up to the third Heaven, he knew formerly (he says) above fourteen years before his then Writing.” And when in another Capacity the same inspir’d Writer, giving Precepts to his Disciples, distinguishes what † he writes by Divine Commission from what he delivers as his own Judgment and private Opinion, he condescends nevertheless to speak as one no way positive, or Master of any absolute Criterion in the Case. And in several subsequent ‡ Passages, he expresses himself as under some kind of Doubt how to judg or determine certainly, “Whether he writes by Inspiration or otherwise.” He only “thinks he has the Spirit.” He “is not sure,” nor wou’d have us to depend on him as positive or certain in a matter of so nice Discernment.
The holy Founders and inspir’d Authors of our Religion requir’d not, it seems, so strict an Assent, or such implicit Faith in behalf of their original Writings and Revelations, as later un-inspir’d Doctors, without the help of Divine Testimony, or any Miracle on their side, have requir’d in behalf of their own Comments and Interpretations. The earliest and worst of Hereticks, ’tis said, were those call’d Gnosticks, who took their name from an audacious Pretence to certain Knowledg and Comprehension of the greatest Mysterys of Faith. If the most dangerous State of Opinion was this dogmatical and presumptuous sort; the safest, in all likelihood, must be the sceptical and modest.
There is nothing more evident than that our HolyReligion, in its original Constitution, was set so far apart from all Philosophy or refin’d Speculation, that it seem’d in a manner diametrically oppos’d to it. A Man might have been not only a Sceptick in all the controverted Points of the Academys, or Schools of Learning, but even a perfect Stranger to all of this kind; and yet compleat in his Religion, Faith, and Worship.
Among the polite Heathens of the antient World, these different Provinces of Religion and Philosophy were upheld, we know, without the least interfering with each other. If in some barbarous Nations the Philosopher and Priest were join’d in one, ’tis observable that the Mysterys, whatever they were, which sprang from this extraordinary Conjunction, were kept secret and undivulg’d. ’Twas Satisfaction enough to the Priest-Philosopher, if the initiated Party preserv’d his Respect and Veneration for the Tradition and Worship of the Temple, by complying in every respect with the requisite Performances and Rites of Worship. No Account was afterwards taken of the Philosophick Faith of the Proselyte, or Worshiper. His Opinions were left to himself, and he might philosophize according to what foreign School or Sect he fansy’d. Even amongst the Jews themselves, the Sadducee (a Materialist, and Denyer of the Soul’s Immortality) was as well admitted as the Pharisee; who from the Schools of Pythagoras, Plato, or other latter Philosophers of Greece, had learnt to reason upon immaterial Substances, and the natural Immortality of Souls.
’Tis no astonishing Reflection to observe how fast the World declin’d in * Wit and Sense, in Manhood, Reason, Science, and in every Art, when once the Roman Empire had prevail’d, and spread an universal Tyranny and Oppression over Mankind. Even the Romans themselves, after the early Sweets of one peaceful and long Reign, began to groan under that Yoke, of which they had been themselves the Imposers. How much more must other Nations, and mighty Citys, at a far distance, have abhor’d this Tyranny, and detested their common Servitude under a People, who were themselves no better than mere Slaves?
It may be look’d upon, no doubt, as providential, that at this time, and in these Circumstances of the World, there shou’d arise so high an expectation of a divine Deliverer; and that from the Eastern Parts and Confines of Judea the Opinion shou’d spread it-self of such a Deliverer to come, with Strength from Heaven sufficient to break that Empire, which no earthly Power remaining cou’d be thought sufficient to encounter. Nothing cou’d have better dispos’d the generality of Mankind, to receive the Evangelical Advice; whilst they mistook the News, as many of the first Christians plainly did, and understood the Promises of a Messias in this temporal Sense, with respect to his second Coming, and sudden Reign here upon Earth.
†Superstition, in the mean while, cou’d not but naturally prevail, as Misery and Ignorance increas’d. The Roman Emperors, as they grew more barbarous, grew so much the more superstitious. The Lands and Revenues, as well as the Numbers of the Heathen Priests grew daily. And when the season came, that by means of a Convert-Emperor, the Heathen ‡Church-Lands, with an Increase of Power, became transfer’d to the Christian Clergy, ’twas no wonder if by such Riches and Authority they were in no small measure influenc’d and corrupted; as may be gather’d even from the Accounts given us of these matters by themselves.
When, together with this, the Schools of the antient * Philosophers, which had been long in their Decline, came now to be dissolv’d, and their sophistick Teachers became Ecclesiastical Instructors; the unnatural Union of Religion and Philosophy was compleated, and the monstrous Product of this Match appear’d soon in the World. The odd exterior Shapes of Deitys, Temples, and holy Utensils, which by the †Egyptian Sects had been formerly set in battel against each other, were now metamorphos’d into philosophical Forms and Phantoms; and, like Flags and Banners, display’d in hostile manner, and borne offensively, by one Party against another. In former times those barbarous Nations above mention’d were the sole Warriors in these religious Causes; but now the whole World became engag’d: when instead of Storks and Crocodiles, other Ensigns were erected; when sophistical Chimeras, crabbed Notions, bombastick Phrases, Solecisms, Absurditys, and a thousand Monsters of a scholastick Brood, were set on foot, and made the Subject of vulgar Animosity and Dispute.
Here first began that Spirit of Bigotry, which broke out in a more raging manner than had been ever known before, and was less capable of Temper or Moderation than any Species, Form, or Mixture of Religion in the antient World.Mysterys, which were heretofore treated with profound respect, and lay unexpos’d to vulgar Eyes, became publick and prostitute; being enforc’d with Terrors, and urg’d with Compulsion and Violence, on the unfitted Capacitys and Apprehensions of Mankind. The very Jewish Traditions, and Cabalistick Learning underwent this Fate. That which was naturally the Subject of profound Speculation and Inquiry, was made the necessary Subject of a strict and absolute Assent. The allegorical, mythological Account of Sacred Things, was wholly inverted: Liberty of Judgment and Exposition taken away: No Ground left for Inquiry, Search, or Meditation: No Refuge from the dogmatical Spirit let loose. Every Quarter was taken up; every Portion prepossess’d. All was reduc’d to *Article and Proposition.
Thus a sort of philosophicalEnthusiasm overspread the World. And Bigotry (a † Species of Superstition hardly known before) took place in Mens Affections, and arm’d ’em with a new Jealousy against each other. Barbarous Terms and Idioms were every day introduc’d: Monstrous Definitions invented and impos’d: New Schemes of Faith erected from time to time; and Hostilitys, the fiercest imaginable, exercis’d on these occasions. So that the Enthusiasm or Zeal, which was usually shewn by Mankind in behalf of their particular Worships, and which for the most part had been hitherto defensive only, grew now to be universally of the offensive kind.
IT MAY be expected of me perhaps, that being fallen thus from remote Antiquity to later Periods, I shou’d speak on this occasion with more than ordinary Exactness and Regularity. It may be urg’d against me, that I talk here, as at random, and without-book: neglecting to produce my Authoritys, or continue my Quotations, according to the profess’d Style and Manner in which I began this present Chapter. But as there are many greater Privileges by way of Variation, Interruption, and Digression, allow’d to us Writers ofMiscellany; and especially to such as are Commentators upon other Authors; I shall be content to remain mysterious in this respect, and explain my-self no further than by a noted Story; which seems to sute our Author’s purpose, and the present Argument.
’Tis observable from Holy Writ, that the antient Ephesian Worshipers, however zealous or enthusiastick they appear’d, had only a defensive kind of Zeal in behalf of their * Temple; whenever they thought in earnest, it was brought in danger. In the † Tumult which happen’d in that City near the time of the holy Apostle’s Retreat, we have a remarkable instance of what our Author calls a religious Panick. As little Bigots as the People were, and as far from any offensive Zeal, yet when their establish’d Church came to be call’d in question, we see in what a manner their Zeal began to operate. ‡ “All with one voice, about the space of two hours, cried out, saying, Great isDianaof the Ephesians.” At the same time this Assembly was so confus’d, that *the greater part knew not wherefore they were come together; and consequently cou’d not understand why their Church was in any Danger. But the Enthusiasm was got up, and a PanickFear for the Church had struck the Multitude. It ran into a popular Rage or epidemical Phrenzy, and was communicated (as our † Author expresses it) “by Aspect, or, as it were, by Contact, or Sympathy.”
It must be confess’d, that there was, besides these Motives, a secret Spring which forwarded this Enthusiasm. For certain Partys concern’d, Men of Craft, and strictly united in Interest, had been secretly call’d together, and told, “Gentlemen! ‡ (or Sirs!) Ye know that by this Mystery, or Craft, we have our Wealth. Ye see withal, and have heard, that not only here at Ephesus, but almost thro’out all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turn’d away many People, by telling them, They are no real Gods who are figur’d, or wrought with hands: so that not only this our Craft is in danger; but also the Temple it-self.”
Nothing cou’d be more moderate and wise, nothing more agreeable to that magisterial Science or Policy, which our Author ** recommends, than the Behaviour of the Town-Clerk or Recorder of the City, as he is represented on this occasion, in Holy Writ. I must confess indeed, he went pretty far in the use of this moderating Art. He ventur’d to assure the People, “That every one acquiesc’d in their antient Worship of the great Goddess, and in their Tradition of the Image, which fell down from Jupiter: That these were Facts undeniable: and That the new Sect neither meant the pulling down of their Church, nor so much as offer’d to blaspheme or speak amiss of their Goddess.”
This, no doubt, was stretching the point sufficiently; as may be understood by the Event, in after time. One might perhaps have suspected this Recorder to have been himself a Dissenter, or at least an Occasional Conformist, who cou’d answer so roundly for the new Sect, and warrant the Church in Being secure of Damage, and out of all Danger for the future. Mean while the Tumult was appeas’d: No harm befel the Temple for that time. The new Sect acquiesc’d in what had been spoken on their behalf. They allow’d the Apology of the Recorder. Accordingly the Zeal of the Heathen Church, which was only defensive, gave way: And the new Religionists were prosecuted no further.
Hitherto, it seems, the Face of Persecution had not openly shewn it-self in the wide World. ’Twas sufficient Security for every Man, that he gave no disturbance to what was publickly establish’d. But when offensive Zeal came to be discover’d in one Party, the rest became in a manner necessitated to be Aggressors in their turn. They who observ’d, or had once experienc’d this intolerating Spirit, cou’d no longer tolerate on their part.* And they who had once exerted it over others, cou’d expect no better Quarter for themselves. So that nothing less than mutual Extirpation became the Aim, and almost open Profession of each religious Society.
In this extremity, it might well perhaps have been esteem’d the happiest Wish for Mankind, That one of these contending Partys of incompatible Religionists shou’d at last prevail over the rest; so as by an universal and absolute Power to * determine Orthodoxy, and make that Opinion effectually Catholick, which in their particular Judgment had the best right to that Denomination. And thus by force of Massacre and Desolation, Peace in Worship, and Civil Unity by help of the Spiritual, might be presum’d in a fair way of being restor’d to Mankind.
I shall conclude with observing how ably the Roman-Christian, and once Catholick Church, by the assistance of their converted * Emperors, proceeded in the Establishment of their growing Hierarchy. They consider’d wisely the various Superstitions and Enthusiasms of Mankind; and prov’d the different Kinds and Force of each. All these seeming Contrarietys of human Passion they knew how to comprehend in their political Model and subservient System of Divinity. They knew how to make advantage both from the high Speculations of Philosophy, and the grossest Ideas of vulgar Ignorance. They saw there was nothing more different than thatEnthusiasm which ran upon Spirituals, according to the † simpler Views of the divine Existence, and that which ran upon ‡ external Proportions, Magnificence of Structures, Ceremonys, Processions, Quires, and those other Harmonys which captivate the Eye and Ear. On this account they even added to this latter kind, and display’d Religion in a yet more gorgeous Habit of Temples, Statues, Paintings, Vestments, Copes, Miters, Purple, and the Cathedral Pomp. With these Arms they cou’d subdue the victorious Goths, and secure themselves an Attila,** when their Caesars fail’d them.
The truth is, ’tis but a vulgar Species of Enthusiasm, which is mov’d chiefly by Shew and Ceremony, and wrought upon by Chalices and Candles, Robes, and figur’d Dances. Yet this, we may believe, was lookt upon as no slight Ingredient of Devotion in those Days; since, at this hour, the Manner is found to be of considerable Efficacy with some of the Devout amongst our-selves, who pass the least for superstitious, and are reckon’d in the Number of the polite World. This the wise Hierarchy duly preponderating; but being satisfy’d withal that there were other Tempers and Hearts which cou’d not so easily be captivated by this exterior Allurement, they assign’d another Part of Religion to Proselytes of another Character and Complexion, who were allow’d to proceed on a quite different bottom; by the inward way of Contemplation, and Divine Love.
They are indeed so far from being jealous of mere Enthusiasm, or the extatick manner of Devotion, that they allow their Mysticks to write and preach in the most rapturous and seraphick Strains. They suffer them, in a manner, to supersede all external Worship, and triumph over outward Forms; till the refin’d Religionists proceed so far as either expresly or seemingly to dissuade the Practice of the vulgar and establish’d Ceremonial Dutys. And then, indeed,* they check the suppos’d exorbitantEnthusiasm, which wou’d prove dangerous to their Hierarchal State.
If modern Visions, Prophecys, and Dreams, Charms, Miracles, Exorcisms, and the rest of this kind, be comprehended in that which we call Fanaticism or Superstition; to this Spirit they allow a full Career; whilst to ingenuous Writers they afford the Liberty, on the other side, in a civil manner, to call in question these spiritual Feats perform’d in Monasterys, or up and down by their mendicant or itinerant Priests, and ghostly Missionarys.
This is that antient Hierarchy, which in respect of its first Foundation, its Policy, and the Consistency of its whole Frame and Constitution, cannot but appear in some respect august and venerable, even in such as we do not usually esteem weak Eyes. These are the spiritual Conquerors, who, like the first Caesars, from small Beginnings, establish’d the Foundations of an almost Universal Monarchy. No wonder if at this day the immediate View of this Hierarchal Residence, the City and Court of Rome, be found to have an extraordinary Effect on Foreigners of other latter Churches. No wonder if the amaz’d Surveyors are for the future so apt either to conceive the horridest Aversion to all Priestly Government; or, on the contrary, to admire it, so far as even to wish a Coalescence or Re-union with this antient Mother-Church.
In reality, the Exercise of Power, however arbitrary or despotick, seems less intolerable under such a spiritual Sovereignty, so extensive, antient, and of such a long Succession, than under the petty Tyrannys and mimical Politys of some new Pretenders. The former may even *persecute with a tolerable Grace: The latter, who wou’d willingly derive their Authority from the former, and graft on their successive Right, must necessarily make a very aukard Figure. And whilst they strive to give themselves the same Air of Independency on the Civil Magistrate; whilst they affect the same Authority in Government, the same Grandure, Magnificence, and Pomp in Worship, they raise the highest Ridicule, in the Eyes of those who have real Discernment, and can distinguish Originals from Copys:
† O imitators, a slavish herd!
Chap. 3.CHAPTER III
Of the Force of Humour in Religion.—Support of our Author’s Argument in his Essay on the Freedom of Wit and Raillery.—Zealdiscuss’d. Spiritual Surgeons: Executioners: Carvers.—Original of human Sacrifice.—Exhilaration of Religion.—Various Aspects, from outward Causes.
THE celebrated Wits of the Miscellanarian Race, the Essay-Writers, casual Discoursers, Reflection-Coiners, Meditation-Founders, and others of the irregular kind of Writers, may plead it as their peculiar Advantage, “That they follow the Variety of Nature.” And in such a Climate as ours, their Plea, no doubt, may be very just. We Islanders, fam’d for other Mutabilitys, are particularly noted for the Variableness and Inconstancy of our Weather. And if our Taste in Letters be found answerable to this Temperature of our Climate; ’tis certain a Writer must, in our Account, be the more valuable in his kind, as he can agreeably surprize his Reader, by sudden Changes, and Transports, from one Extreme to another.
Were it not for the known Prevalency of this Relish, and the apparent Deference paid to those Genius’s who are said to elevate and surprize; the Author of these Miscellanys might, in all probability, be afraid to entertain his Reader with this multifarious, complex, and desultory kind of Reading. ’Tis certain, that if we consider the Beginning and Process of our present Work, we shall find sufficient Variation in it. From a profess’d Levity, we are laps’d into a sort of Gravity unsutable to our manner of setting out. We have steer’d an adventurous Course, and seem newly come out of a stormy and rough Sea. ’Tis time indeed we shou’d enjoy a Calm, and instead of expanding our Sails before the swelling Gusts, it befits us to retire under the Lee-shore, and ply our Oars in a smooth Water.
’Tis the Philosopher, the Orator, or the Poet, whom we may compare to some First-Rate Vessel, which launches out into the wide Sea, and with a proud Motion insults the encountering Surges. WeEssay-Writers are of the Small-Craft, or Galley-kind. We move chiefly by Starts and Bounds; according as our Motion is by frequent Intervals renew’d. We have no great Adventure in view; nor can tell certainly Whither we are bound. We undertake no mighty Voyage, by help of Stars or Compass; but row from Creek to Creek, keep up a coasting Trade, and are fitted only for fair Weather and the Summer Season.
Happy therefore it is for us in particular, that having finish’d our Course of Enthusiasm, and pursu’d our Author into his *second Treatise, we are now, at last, oblig’d to turn towards pleasanter Reflections, and have such Subjects in view as must naturally reduce us to a more familiar Style. Wit and Humour (the profess’d Subject of the Treatise now before us) will hardly bear to be examin’d in ponderous Sentences and pois’d Discourse. We might now perhaps do best, to lay aside the Gravity of strict Argument, and resume the way of Chat; which, thro’ Aversion to a contrary formal manner, is generally relish’d with more than ordinary Satisfaction. For excess of Physick, we know, has often made Men hate the name of wholesom. And an abundancy of forc’d Instruction, and solemn Counsel, may have made Men full as averse to any thing deliver’d with an Air of high Wisdom and Science; especially if it be so high as to be set above all human Art of Reasoning, and even above Reason it-self, in the account of its sublime Dispensers.
However, since it may be objected to us by certain Formalists of this sort, “That we can prove nothing duly without proving it in form”: we may for once condescend to their Demand; state our Case formally; and divide our Subject into Parts, after the precise manner, and according to just Rule and Method.
Our purpose, therefore, being to defend an Author, who has been charg’d as too presumptuous for introducing the way of Wit and Humour into religious Searches; we shall endeavour to make appear:
1st, That Wit and Humour are corroborative of Religion, and promotive of true Faith.
2ly, That they are us’d as proper Means of this kind by the holy Founders of Religion.
3ly, That notwithstanding the dark Complexion and sour Humour of some religious Teachers, we may be justly said to have in the main, A witty and good-humour’d Religion.
Among the earliest Acquaintance of my Youth, I remember, in particular, a Club of three or four merry Gentlemen, who had long kept Company with one another, and were seldom separate in any Party of Pleasure or Diversion. They happen’d once to be upon a travelling Adventure, and came to a Country, where they were told for certain, they should find the worst Entertainment, as well as the worst Roads imaginable. One of the Gentlemen, who seem’d the least concern’d for this Disaster, said slightly and without any seeming Design, “That the best Expedient for them in this Extremity wou’d be to keep themselves in high Humour, and endeavour to commend every thing which the Place afforded.” The other Gentlemen immediately took the hint; but, as it happen’d, kept silence, pass’d the Subject over, and took no further notice of what had been propos’d.
Being enter’d into the dismal Country, in which they proceeded without the least Complaint; ’twas remarkable, that if by great chance they came to any tolerable Bit of Road, or any ordinary Prospect, they fail’d not to say something or other in its praise, and wou’d light often on such pleasant Fancys and Representations, as made the Objects in reality agreeable.
When the greatest part of the Day was thus spent, and our Gentlemen arriv’d where they intended to take their Quarters, the first of ’em who made trial of the Fare, or tasted either Glass or Dish, recommended it with such an air of Assurance, and in such lively Expressions of Approbation, that the others came instantly over to his Opinion, and confirm’d his Relish with many additional Encomiums of their own.
Many ingenious Reasons were given for the several odd Tastes and Looks of Things, which were presented to ’em at Table. “Some Meats were wholesom: Others of a high Taste: Others according to the manner of eating in this or that foreign Country.” Every Dish had the flavour of some celebrated Receit in Cookery; and the Wine, and other Liquors, had, in their turn, the advantage of being treated in the same elegant strain. In short, our Gentlemen eat and drank heartily, and took up with their indifferent Fare so well, that ’twas apparent they had wrought upon themselves to believe they were tolerably well serv’d.
Their Servants, in the mean time, having laid no such Plot as this against themselves, kept to their Senses, and stood it out, “That their Masters had certainly lost theirs. For how else cou’d they swallow so contentedly, and take all for good which was set before ’em?”—
Had I to deal with a malicious Reader; he might perhaps pretend to infer from this Story of my travelling Friends, that I intended to represent it as an easy matter for People to persuade themselves into what Opinion or Belief they pleas’d. But it can never surely be thought, that Men of true Judgment and Understanding shou’d set about such a Task as that of perverting their own Judgment, and giving a wrong Bias to their Reason. They must easily foresee that an Attempt of this kind, shou’d it have the least Success, wou’d prove of far worse Consequence to them than any Perversion of their Taste, Appetite, or ordinary Senses.
I must confess it, however, to be my Imagination, that where fit Circumstances concur, and many inviting Occasions offer from the side of Mens Interest, their Humour, or their Passion; ’tis no extraordinary Case to see ’em enter into such a Plot as this against their own Understandings, and endeavour by all possible means to persuade both themselves and others of what they think convenient and useful to believe.
If in many particular Cases, where Favour and Affection prevail, it be found so easy a thing with us, to impose upon ourselves; it cannot surely be very hard to do it, where we take for granted, our highest Interest is concern’d. Now it is certainly no small Interest or Concern with Men, to believe what is by Authority establish’d; since in the Case of Disbelief there can be no Choice left but either to live a Hypocrite, or be esteem’d profane. Even where Men are left to themselves, and allow’d the Freedom of their Choice, they are still forward enough in believing; and can officiously endeavour to persuade themselves of the Truth of any flattering Imposture.
Nor is it unusual to find Men successful in this Endeavour: As, among other Instances, may appear by the many religious Faiths or Opinions, however preposterous or contradictory, which, Age after Age, we know to have been rais’d on the Foundation of Miracles and pretended Commissions from Heaven. These have been as generally espous’d and passionately cherish’d as the greatest Truths and most certain Revelations. ’Tis hardly to be suppos’d that such Combinations shou’d be form’d, and Forgerys erected with such Success and Prevalency over the Understandings of Men, did not they themselves co-operate, of their own accord, towards the Imposture, and shew, “That by a good-Will and hearty Desire of believing, they had in reality a considerable Hand in the Deceit.”
’Tis certain that in a Country, where Faith has, for a long time, gone by Inheritance, and Opinions are entail’d by Law, there is little room left for the Vulgar to alter their Persuasion, or deliberate on the Choice of their religious Belief. Whensoever a Government thinks fit to concern it-self with Mens Opinions, and by its absolute Authority impose any particular Belief, there is none perhaps ever so ridiculous or monstrous in which it needs doubt of having good Success. This we may see thorowly effected in certain Countrys, by a steddy Policy, and sound Application of Punishment and Reward: with the Assistance of particular Courts erected to this end; peculiar Methods of Justice; peculiar Magistrates and Officers; proper Inquests, and certain wholesom Severitys, not slightly administer’d, and play’d with, (as certain Triflers propose) but duly and properly inforc’d; as is absolutely requisite to this end of strict Conformity, and Unity in one and the same Profession, and manner of Worship.
But shou’d it happen to be theTruth it-self which was thus effectually propagated by the Means we have describ’d; the very Nature of such Means can, however, allow but little Honour to the Propagators, and little Merit to the Disciples and Believers. ’Tis certain that Mahometism, Paganism, Judaism, or any otherBelief may stand, as well as the truest, upon this Foundation. He who is now an OrthodoxChristian, wou’d by virtue of such a Discipline have been infallibly as true a Mussulman, or as errant a Heretick; had his Birth happen’d in another place.
For this reason there can be no rational Belief but where Comparison is allow’d, Examination permitted, and a sincere Toleration establish’d. And in this case, I will presume to say, “That WhateverBelief is once espous’d or countenanc’d by the Magistrate, it will have a sufficient advantage; without any help from Force or Menaces on one hand, or extraordinary Favour and partial Treatment on the other.” If theBelief be in any measure consonant to Truth and Reason, it will find as much favour in the Eyes of Mankind, as Truth and Reason need desire. Whatever Difficultys there may be in any particular Speculations or Mysterys belonging to it; the better sort of Men will endeavour to pass ’em over. They will believe (as our * Author says) to the full stretch of theirReason, and add Spurs to their Faith, in order to be the more sociable; and conform the better with what their Interest, in conjunction with their Good-Humour, inclines them to receive as credible, and observe as their religious Duty and devotional Task.
Here it is that Good Humour will naturally take place, and the Hospitable Disposition of our travelling Friends above-recited will easily transfer it-self into Religion, and operate in the same manner with respect to the establish’d Faith (however miraculous or incomprehensible) under a tolerating, mild, and gentle Government.
Every one knows, indeed, That by Heresy is understood a Stubbornness in the Will, not a Defect merely in the Understanding. On this account ’tis impossible that an honest and good-humour’d Man shou’d be a Schismatick or Heretick, and affect to separate from his national Worship on slight Reason, or without severe Provocation.
To be pursu’d by pettyInquisitors; to be threatned with Punishment, or penal Laws; to be mark’d out as dangerous and suspected; to be rail’d at in high Places, with all the study’d Wit and Art of Calumny; are indeed sufficient Provocations to ill Humour, and may force People to divide, who at first had never any such Intention. But the Virtue of Good-Humour in Religion is such, that it can even reconcile Persons to a Belief, in which they were never bred, or to which they had conceiv’d a former Prejudice.
From these Considerations we cannot but of course conclude, “That there is nothing so ridiculous in respect of Policy, or so wrong and odious in respect of common Humanity, as a moderate and half-wayPersecution.” It only frets the Sore; it raises the Ill-humour of Mankind; excites the keener Spirits; moves Indignation in Beholders; and sows the very Seeds of Schism in Mens bosoms. A resolute and bold-fac’dPersecution leaves no time or scope for these engendring Distempers, or gathering Ill-humours. It does the work at once; by Extirpation, Banishment, or Massacre; and like a bold Stroke in Surgery, dispatches by one short Amputation, what a bungling Hand wou’d make worse and worse, to the perpetual Sufferance and Misery of the Patient.
If there be on earth a proper way to render the most sacred Truth suspected, ’tis by supporting it with Threats, and pretending to terrify People into the Belief of it. This is a sort of daring Mankind in a Cause, where they know themselves superior, and out of reach. The weakest Mortal finds within himself, that tho he may be out-witted and deluded, he can never be forc’d in what relates to his Opinion or Assent. And there are few Men so ignorant of human Nature, and of what they hold in common with their Kind, as not to comprehend, “That where great Vehemence is express’d by any-one in what relates solely to another, ’tis seldom without some private Interest of his own.”
In common Matters of Dispute, the angry Disputant makes the best Cause to appear the worst. A Clown once took a fancy to hear the Latin Disputes of Doctors at a University. He was ask’d what pleasure he could take in viewing such Combatants, when he could never know so much as which of the Partys had the better. “For that matter,” reply’d the Clown, “I a’n’t such a Fool neither, but I can see who’s the first that puts t’other into a Passion.” Nature her-self dictated this Lesson to the Clown; “That he who had the better of the Argument, wou’d be easy and well-humour’d: But he who was unable to support his Cause by Reason, wou’d naturally lose his Temper, and grow violent.”
Were two Travellers agreed to tell their Story separate in publick: the one being a Man of Sincerity, but positive and dogmatical; the other less sincere, but easy and good-humour’d: tho it happen’d that the Accounts of this latter Gentleman were of the more miraculous sort; they wou’d yet sooner gain Belief, and be more favourably receiv’d by Mankind, than the strongly asserted Relations and vehement Narratives of the other fierce Defender of the Truth.
That GOOD HUMOUR is a chief Cause of Compliance, or Acquiescence in matters of Faith, may be prov’d from the very Spirit of those, whom we commonly call Criticks. ’Tis a known Prevention against the Gentlemen of this Character; “That they are generally ill-humour’d, and splenetick.” The World will needs have it, That their Spleen disturbs ’em. And I must confess I think the World in general to be so far right in this Conceit, That tho all Criticks perhaps are not necessarily splenetick; all splenetick People (whether naturally such, or made so by ill Usage) have a necessary Propensity to Criticism and Satir. When Men are easy in themselves, they let others remain so; and can readily comply with what seems plausible, and is thought conducing to the Quiet or good Correspondence of Mankind. They study to raise no Difficultys or Doubts. And in religious Affairs, ’tis seldom that they are known forward to entertain ill Thoughts or Surmises, whilst they are unmolested. But if disturb’d by groundless Arraignments and Suspicions, by unnecessary Invectives, and bitter Declamations, and by a contentious quarrelsom Aspect of Religion; they naturally turn Criticks, and begin to question every thing. The Spirit of Satir rises with the ill Mood: and the chief Passion of Men thus diseas’d and thrown out of Good Humour, is to find fault, censure, unravel, confound, and leave nothing without exception and controversy.
These are the Scepticks or Scrupulists, against whom there is such a Clamor rais’d. ’Tis evident, in the mean while, that the very Clamor it-self, join’d with the usual Menaces and Shew of Force, is that which chiefly raises this sceptical Spirit, and helps to multiply the number of these inquisitive and ill-humour’dCriticks. Mere Threats, without power of Execution, are only exasperating and provocative. They * who are Masters of the carnal as well as spiritual Weapon, may apply each at their pleasure, and in what proportion they think necessary. But where the Magistrate resolves steddily to reserve his Fasces for his own proper Province, and keep the Edg-Tools and deadly Instruments out of other Hands, ’tis in vain for spiritual Pretenders to take such magisterial Airs. It can then only become them to brandish such Arms, when they have strength enough to make the Magistrate resign his Office, and become Provost or Executioner in their service.—
Shou’d any one who happens to read these Lines, perceive in himself a rising Animosity against the Author, for asserting thus zealously the Notion of a religious Liberty, and mutual Toleration; ’tis wish’d that he wou’d maturely deliberate on the Cause of his Disturbance and Ill-humour. Wou’d he deign to look narrowly into himself, he wou’d undoubtedly find that it is not Zeal for Religion or the Truth, which moves him on this occasion. For had he happen’d to be in a Nation where he was no Conformist, nor had any Hope or Expectation of obtaining the Precedency for his own Manner of Worship, he wou’d have found nothing preposterous in this our Doctrine of Indulgence. ’Tis a Fact indisputable, that whatever Sect or Religion is undermost, tho it may have persecuted at any time before; yet as soon as it begins to suffer Persecution in its turn, it recurs instantly to the Principles of Moderation, and maintains this our Plea for Complacency, Sociableness, and Good Humourin Religion. The Mystery therefore of this Animosity, or rising Indignation of my devout and zealous Reader, is only this; “That being devoted to the Interest of a Party already in possession or expectation of the temporal Advantages annex’d to a particular Belief; he fails not, as a zealous Party-Man, to look with jealousy on every unconformable Opinion, and is sure to justify those Means which he thinks proper to prevent its growth.” He knows that if in Matters of Religion any one believes amiss, ’tis at his own peril. If Opinion damns; Vice certainly does as much. Yet will our Gentleman easily find, if he inquires the least into himself, that he has no such furious Concern for the Security of Mens Morals, nor any such violent Resentment of their Vices, when they are such as no-way incommode him. And from hence it will be easy for him to infer, “That the Passion he feels on this occasion, is not from pure Zeal, but privateInterest, and worldlyEmulation.”
COME we now (as authentick Rhetoricians express themselves) to our second Head: which we shou’d again subdivide into Firsts and Seconds, but that this manner of carving is of late days grown much out of fashion.
’Twas the Custom of our Ancestors, perhaps as long since as the days of our hospitable KingArthur, to have nothing serv’d at Table but what was intire and substantial. ’Twas a whole Boar, or solid Ox which made the Feast. The Figure of the Animal was preserv’d intire, and the Dissection made in form by the appointed Carver, a Man of Might as well as profound Craft and notable Dexterity; who was seen erect, with goodly Mein and Action, displaying Heads and Members, dividing according to Art, and distributing his Subject-matter into proper Parts, sutable to the Stomachs of those he serv’d. In latter days ’tis become the Fashion to eat with less Ceremony and Method. Every-one chuses to carve for himself. The learned Manner of Dissection is out of request; and a certain Method of Cookery has been introduc’d; by which the anatomical Science of the Table is intirely set aside. Ragouts and Fricassees are the reigning Dishes, in which every thing is so dismember’d and thrown out of all Order and Form, that no Part of the Mass can properly be divided, or distinguish’d from another.
Fashion is indeed a powerful Mistress, and by her single Authority has so far degraded the carving Method and Use of Solids, even in Discourse and Writing, that our religious Pastors themselves have many of ’em chang’d their Manner of distributing to us their spiritual Food. They have quitted their substantial Service, and uniform Division into Parts and Under-Parts; and in order to become fashionable, they have run into the more savoury way of learned Ragout and Medley. ’Tis the unbred rustick Orator alone, who presents his clownish Audience with a divisible Discourse. The elegant Court-Divine exhorts in Miscellany, and is asham’d to bring his Two’s and Three’s before a fashionable Assembly.
Shou’d I therefore, as a mere Miscellanarian or Essay-Writer, forgetting what I had premis’d, be found to drop a Head, and lose the connecting Thred of my present Discourse; the Case perhaps wou’d not be so preposterous. For fear however lest I shou’d be charg’d for being worse than my word, I shall endeavour to satisfy my Reader, by pursuing my Method propos’d: if peradventure he can call to mind, what that Method was. Or if he cannot, the matter is not so very important, but he may safely pursue his reading, without further trouble.
To proceed, therefore. Whatever Means or Methods may be employ’d at any time in maintaining or propagating a religious Belief already current and establish’d, ’tis evident that the first Beginnings must have been founded in that natural Complacency, and Good Humour, which inclines to Trust and Confidence in Mankind. Terrors alone, tho accompany’d with Miracles and Prodigys of whatever kind, are not capable of raising that sincere Faith and absolute Reliance which is requir’d in favour of the divinely authoriz’d Instructor, and spiritual Chief. The Affection and Love which procures a true Adherence to the new religious Foundation, must depend either on a real or counterfeit *Goodness in the religious Founder. Whatever ambitious Spirit may inspire him; whatever savage Zeal or persecuting Principle may lie in reserve, ready to disclose it-self when Authority and Power is once obtain’d; the First Scene of Doctrine, however, fails not to present us with the agreeable Views of Joy, Love, Meekness, Gentleness, and Moderation.
In this respect, Religion, according to the common Practice in many Sects, may be compar’d to that sort of Courtship, of which the Fair Sex are known often to complain. In the Beginning of an Amour, when these innocent Charmers are first accosted, they hear of nothing but tender Vows, Submission, Service, Love. But soon afterwards, when won by this Appearance of Gentleness and Humility, they have resign’d themselves, and are no longer their own, they hear a different Note, and are taught to understand Submission and Service in a sense they little expected. Charity and Brotherly Love are very engaging Sounds: But who wou’d dream that out of abundant Charity and Brotherly Love shou’d come Steel, Fire, Gibbets, Rods, and such a sound and hearty Application of these Remedys as shou’d at once advance the worldly Greatness of religious Pastors, and the particular Interest of private Souls, for which they are so charitably concern’d?
It has been observ’d by our * Author, “That the Jews were naturally a very cloudy People.” That they had certainly in Religion, as in every thing else, the least Good-Humour of any People in the World, is very apparent. Had it been otherwise, their holy Legislator and Deliverer, who was declar’d †the meekest Man on Earth, and who for many years together had by the most popular and kind Acts endeavour’d to gain their Love and Affection, wou’d in all probability have treated them afterwards with more Sweetness, and been able with ‡ less Blood and Massacre to retain them in their religious Duty. This however we may observe, That if the first Jewish Princes and celebrated Kings acted in reality according to the Institutions of their great Founder, not only Musick, but even Play and Dance, were of holy Appointment, and divine Right. The first Monarch of this Nation, tho of a melancholy Complexion, join’d Musick with his spiritual Exercises, and even us’d it as a Remedy under that darkEnthusiasm or **evil Spirit; which how far it might resemble that of Prophecy, experienc’d by him †† even after his Apostacy, our ‡‡ Author pretends not to determine. ’Tis certain that the Successor of this Prince was a hearty Espouser of the merry Devotion, and by his example has shewn it to have been fundamental in the religious Constitution of his People. (a) The famous Entry or high Dance perform’d by him, after so conspicuous a manner, in the Procession of the sacred Coffer, shews that he was not asham’d of expressing any Extasy of Joy or * playsom Humour, which was practis’d by the † meanest of the Priests or People on such an occasion.
Besides the many Songs and Hymns dispers’d in Holy Writ, the Book of Psalms it-self, Job, Proverbs, Canticles, and other intire Volumes of the sacred Collection, which are plainly Poetry, and full of humorous Images, and jocular Wit, may sufficiently shew how readily the inspir’d Authors had recourse to Humour and Diversion, as a proper Means to promote Religion, and strengthen the establish’d Faith.
When the Affairs of the Jewish Nation grew desperate, and every thing seem’d tending to a total Conquest and Captivity, the Style of their holy Writers and Prophets might well vary from that of earlier days, in the Rise and Vigor of their Common-wealth, or during the first Splendor of their Monarchy, when the Princes themselves prophesy’d, and potent Kings were of the number of the Sacred Pen-men. This still we may be assur’d of; That however melancholy or ill-humour’d any of the Prophets may appear at any time, ’was not that kind of Spirit, which God was wont to encourage in them. Witness the Case of the Prophet Jonah; whose Character is so naturally describ’d in Holy Writ.
Pettish as this Prophet was, unlike a Man, and resembling rather some refractory boyish Pupil; it may be said that God, as a kind Tutor, was pleas’d to humour him, bear with his Anger, and in a lusory manner, expose his childish Frowardness, and shew him to himself.
* “Arise (said his gracious Lord) and go toNinive.” “No such matter,” says our Prophet to himself; but away over-Sea for Tarshish. He fairly plays the Truant, like an arch School-Boy; hoping to hide out of the way. But his Tutor had good Eyes, and a long Reach. He overtook him at Sea; where a Storm was ready prepar’d for his Exercise, and a Fish’s Belly for his Lodging. The Renegade found himself in harder Durance than any at Land. He was sufficiently mortify’d: He grew good, pray’d, moraliz’d, and spoke mightily against †Lying Vanitys.
Again, ‡ the Prophet is taken into favour, and bid go toNinive, to foretel Destruction. He foretels it. Ninive repents: God pardons: and the Prophet is angry.
** “Lord!—Did I not foresee what this wou’d come to? Was not this my Saying, when I was safe and quiet at home?—What else shou’d I have run away for?—As if I knew not how little dependence there was on the Resolution of those, who are always so ready to forgive, and repent of what they have determin’d.—No!—Strike me dead!—Take my Life, this moment. ’Tis better for me.—If ever I prophesy again.” * * * * * *
†† “And Dost thou well then to be thus angry,Jonah? Consider with thy-self.—Come!—Since thou wilt needs retire out of the City, to see at a distance what will come of it; here, Take a better Fence than thy own Booth against the hot Sun which incommodes Thee. Take this tall Plant as a shady Covering for thy Head. Cool thy-self, and be deliver’d from thy Grief.”
When the Almighty had shown this Indulgence to the Prophet, he grew better-humour’d, and pass’d a tolerable Night. But the * next morning the Worm came, and an East-Wind: the Arbor was nip’d: the Sun shone vehemently, and the Prophet’s Head was heated, as before. Presently the ill Mood returns, and the Prophet is at the old pass. “Better die, than live at this rate.—Death, Death alone can satisfy me. Let me hear no longer of Living.—No!—’Tis in vain to talk of it.”—
Again † GOD expostulates; but is taken up short, and answer’d churlishly, by the testy Prophet. “Angry he is; angry he ought to be, and angry he will be, to his Death.” But the Almighty, with the utmost pity towards him, in this melancholy and froward Temper, lays open the Folly of it; and exhorts to Mildness, and Good Humour, in the most tender manner, and under the most familiar and pleasant Images; whilst he shews ‡expressly more Regard and Tenderness to the very Cattel and Brute-Beasts, than the Prophet to his own Human Kind, and to those very Disciples whom by his Preaching he had converted.
In the antienter Parts of Sacred Story, where the Beginning of things, and Origin of human Race are represented to us, there are sufficient Instances of this Familiarity of Style, this popular pleasant Intercourse, and Manner of Dialogue between **God and Man: I might add even between ††Man and Beast; and what is still more extraordinary, between God and ‡‡Satan.
Whatsoever of this kind may be allegorically understood, or in the way of Parable or Fable; this I am sure of, That the Accounts, Descriptions, Narrations, Expressions, and Phrases are in themselves many times exceedingly pleasant, entertaining, and facetious. But fearing lest I might be mis-interpreted, shou’d I offer to set these Passages in their proper Light, (which however has been perform’d by undoubted good Christians, and most learned and * eminent Divines of our own Church) I forbear to go any further into the Examination or Criticism of this sort.
As for our Saviour’s Style, ’tis not more vehement and majestick in his gravest Animadversions or declamatory Discourses; than it is sharp, humorous, and witty in his Repartees, Reflections, fabulous Narrations, or Parables, Similes, Comparisons, and other Methods of milder Censure and Reproof. His Exhortations to his Disciples; his particular Designation of their Manners; the pleasant Images under which he often couches his Morals and prudential Rules; even his Miracles themselves (especially the † first he ever wrought) carry with them a certain Festivity, Alacrity, and Good Humour so remarkable, that I shou’d look upon it as impossible not to be mov’d in a pleasant manner at their Recital.
Now, if what I have here asserted in behalf of Pleasantry and Humour, be found just and real in respect of the Jewish and Christian Religions; I doubt not, it will be yielded to me, in respect of the antient Heathen Establishments; that the highest Care was taken by their original Founders, and following Reformers, to exhilarate Religion, and correct that Melancholy and Gloominess to which it is subject; according to those different Modifications of ‡Enthusiasm above specify’d.
Our Author, as I take it, has ** elsewhere shewn that these Founders were real Musicians, and Improvers of Poetry, Musick, and the entertaining Arts; which they in a manner incorporated with Religion: Not without good reason; as I am apt to imagine. For to me it plainly appears, That in the early times of all Religions, when Nations were yet barbarous and savage, there was ever an Aptness or Tendency towards the dark part of Superstition, which among many other Horrors produc’d that of human Sacrifice. Something of this nature might possibly be deduc’d even from * Holy Writ. And in other Historys we are inform’d of it more at large.
Every one knows how great a Part of the old Heathen Worship consisted in Play, Poetry, and Dance. And tho some of the more melancholy and superstitious Votarys might approach the Shrines of their Divinitys with mean Grimaces, Crouchings, and other fawning Actions, betraying the low Thoughts they had of the Divine Nature; yet ’tis well known, that in those times the illiberal†sycophantick manner of Devotion was by the wiser sort contemn’d, and oft suspected, ‡ as knavish and indirect.
How different an Air and Aspect the good and virtuous were presum’d to carry with them to the Temple, let Plutarch singly, instead of many others, witness, in his excellent Treatise of *Superstition; and in another against the Epicurean Atheism, where it will plainly enough appear * what a share Good Humour had in that which the politer Antients esteem’d as Piety, and true Religion.
BUT NOW, methinks, I have been sufficiently grave and serious, in defense of what is directly contrary to Seriousness and Gravity. I have very solemnly pleaded for Gaity and Good Humour: I have declaim’d against Pedantry in learned Language, and oppos’d Formality in Form. I now find my-self somewhat impatient to get loose from the Constraint of Method: And I pretend lawfully to exercise the Privilege which I have asserted, of rambling from Subject to Subject, from Style to Style, in my Miscellaneous manner, according to my present Profession and Character.
I may, in the mean while, be censur’d probably for passing over my Third Head. But the methodical Reader, if he be scrupulous about it, may content himself with looking back: And if possibly he can pick it out of my Second, he will forgive this Anticipation, in a Writing which is govern’d less by Form than Humour. I had indeed resolv’d with my-self to make a large Collection of Passages from our most eminent and learned Divines, in order to have set forth this Latter Head of my Chapter; and by better Authority than my own to have evinc’d, “That we had in the main a good-humour’d Religion.” But after considering a little while, I came to this short Issue with my-self: “That it was better not to cite at all, than to cite partially.” Now if I cited fairly what was said as well on the melancholy as the chearful side of our Religion, the Matter, I found, wou’d be pretty doubtfully balanc’d: And the Result at last wou’d be this; “That, generally speaking, as oft as a Divine was in good Humour, we shou’d find Religionthe sweetest and best-humour’d thing in Nature: But at other times (and that, pretty often) we shou’d find a very different Face of Matters.”
Thus are we alternately exalted and humbled, chear’d and dejected, according as our spiritual * Director is himself influenc’d: And this, peradventure, for our Edification and Advantage; “That by these Contrarietys and Changes we may be render’d more supple and compliant.” If we are very low, and down; we are taken up. If we are up, and high; we are taken down.—This is Discipline. This is Authority and Command.—Did Religion carry constantly one and the same Face, and were it always represented to us alike in every respect; we might perhaps be overbold, and make Acquaintance with it, in too familiar a manner: We might think our-selves fully knowing in it, and assur’d of its true Character and Genius. From whence perhaps we might become more refractory towards the Ghostly Teachers of it, and be apt to submit our-selves the less to those who, by Appointment and Authority, represent it to us, in such Lights, as they esteem most proper and convenient.
I shall therefore not only conclude abruptly, but even sceptically on this my last Head: referring my Reader to what has been said already, on my preceding Heads, for the bare probability “of our having, in the main, a witty and good-humour’dReligion.”
This, however, I may presume to assert; That there are undoubtedly some Countenances or Aspects of our Religion, which are humorous and pleasant in them-selves; and that the sadder Representations of it are many times so over-sad and dismal, that they are apt to excite a very contrary Passion to what is intended by the Representers.
Chap. 1.CHAPTER I
Further Remarks on the Author of the Treatises.—His Order and Design.—His Remarks on theSuccessionof Wit, and Progress of Letters, and Philosophy.—Of Words, Relations, Affections.—Country-Men and Country.—OldEngland.—Patriots of the Soil.—Virtuosi, and Philosophers.—ATaste.
HAVING already asserted my Privilege, as a Miscellaneous or Essay-Writer of the modern Establishment; to write on every Subject, and in every Method, as I fansy; to use Order, or lay it aside, as I think fit; and to treat of Order and Method in other Works, tho free perhaps and unconfin’d as to my own: I shall presume, in this place, to consider the present Method and Order of my Author’s Treatises, as in this joint-Edition they are rang’d.
Notwithstanding the high Airs of Scepticism which our Author assumes in his first Piece; I cannot, after all, but imagine that even there he proves himself, at the bottom, a realDogmatist, and shews plainly that he has his private Opinion, Belief, or Faith, as strong as any Devotee or Religionist of ’em all. Tho he affects perhaps to strike at other Hypotheses and Schemes; he has something of his own still in reserve, and holds a certain Plan or System peculiar to him-self, or such, at least, in which he has at present but few Companions or Followers.
On this account I look upon his Management to have been much after the rate of some ambitiousArchitect; who being call’d perhaps to prop a Roof, redress a leaning Wall, or add to some particular Apartment, is not contented with this small Specimen of his Mastership: but pretending to demonstrate the Un-serviceableness and Inconvenience of the old Fabrick, forms the Design of a new Building, and longs to shew his Skill in the principal Parts of Architecture and Mechanicks.
’Tis certain that in matters of Learning and Philosophy, the Practice of pulling down is far pleasanter, and affords more Entertainment, than that of building and setting up. Many have succeeded, to a miracle, in the first, who have miserably fail’d in the latter of these Attempts. We may find a thousand Engineers, who can sap, undermine, and blow up, with admirable Dexterity, for one single-one, who can build a Fort, or lay the Plat-form of a Citadel. And tho Compassion in real War may make the ruinous Practice less delightful, ’tis certain that in the literate warring-World, the springing of Mines, the blowing up of Towers, Bastions, and Ramparts of Philosophy, with Systems, Hypotheses, Opinions, and Doctrines into the Air, is a Spectacle of all other, the most naturally rejoicing.
Our Author, we suppose, might have done well to consider this. We have fairly conducted him thro’ his first and secondLetter, and have brought him, as we see here, into his third Piece. He has hitherto, methinks, kept up his sapping Method, and unravelling Humour, with tolerable good Grace. He has given only some few, and very slender * Hints of going further, or attempting to erect any Scheme or Model, which may discover his Pretence to a real Architect-Capacity. Even in this his Third Piece he carrys with him the same sceptical Mein: and what he offers by way of Project or Hypothesis, is very faint, hardly spoken aloud; but mutter’d to himself, in a kind of dubious Whisper, or feign’d Soliloquy. What he discovers of Form and Method, is indeed so accompany’d with the random Miscellaneous Air, that it may pass for Raillery, rather than good Earnest. ’Tis in his following * Treatise that he discovers himself openly, as a plain Dogmatist, a Formalist, and Man of Method; with his Hypotheses tack’d to him, and his Opinions so close-sticking, as wou’d force one to call to mind the Figure of some precise and strait-lac’d Professor in a University.
What may be justly pleaded in his behalf, when we come in company with him, to inquire into such solemn and profound Subjects, seems very doubtful. Mean while, as his Affairs stand hitherto in this his Treatise of Advice, I shall be contented to yoke with him, and proceed, in my miscellaneous Manner, to give my Advice also to Men of Note; whether they are Authors or Politicians, Virtuosi or Fine-Gentlemen; comprehending Him, the said Author, as one of the Number of the Advis’d, and My-self too (if occasion be) after his own example of Self-Admonition and private Address.
BUT FIRST as to our Author’s Dissertation in this †third Treatise, where his Reflections upon Authors in general, and the Rise and Progress of Arts, make the Inlet or Introduction to his Philosophy; we may observe, That it is not without some appearance of Reason that he has advanc’d this Method. It must be acknowledg’d, that tho, in the earliest times, there may have been divine Men of a transcending Genius, who have given Laws both in Religion and Government, to the great Advantage and Improvement of Mankind; yet Philosophy it-self, as a Science and known Profession worthy of that name, cannot with any probability be suppos’d to have risen (as our Author shews) till otherArts had been rais’d, and, in a certain proportion, advanc’d before it. As this was of the greatest Dignity and Weight, so it came last into Form. It was long clearing it-self from the affected Dress of Sophists, or Enthusiastick Air of Poets; and appear’d late in its genuine, simple, and just Beauty.
The Reader perhaps may justly excuse our Author for having * in this place so over-loaded his Margin with those weighty Authoritys and antient Citations, when he knows that there are many grave Professors in Humanity and Letters among the Moderns, who are puzzled in this Search, and write both repugnantly to one another, and to the plain and natural Evidence of the Case. The real Lineage and Successionof Wit, is indeed plainly founded in Nature: as our Author has endeavour’d to make appear both from History and Fact. The GreekNation, as it is Original to us, in respect to these polite Arts and Sciences, so it was in reality original to it-self. For whether the Egyptians, Phenicians, Thracians, or Barbarians of any kind, may have hit fortunately on this or that particular Invention, either in Agriculture, Building, Navigation, or Letters; which-ever may have introduc’d this Rite of Worship, this Title of a Deity, this or that Instrument of Musick, this or that Festival, Game, or Dance, (for on this matter there are high Debates among the Learned) ’tis evident, beyond a doubt, that the Arts and Sciences were form’d in Greece it-self. ’Twas there that Musick, Poetry, and the rest came to receive some kind of shape, and be distinguish’d into their several Orders and Degrees. Whatever flourish’d, or was rais’d to any degree of Correctness, or real Perfection in the kind, was by means of Greece alone, and in the hand of that sole polite, most civiliz’d, and accomplish’d Nation.
Nor can this appear strange, when we consider the fortunate Constitution of that People. For tho compos’d of different Nations, distinct in Laws and Governments, divided by Seas and Continents, dispers’d in distant Islands; yet being originally of the same Extract, united by one single Language, and animated by that social, publick and free Spirit, which notwithstanding the Animosity of their several warring States, induc’d them to erect such heroick Congresses and Powers as those which constituted the AmphictonianCouncils, the Olympick, Isthmian, and other Games; they cou’d not but naturally polish and refine each other. ’Twas thus they brought their beautiful and comprehensive Language to a just Standard, leaving only such Variety in the Dialects as render’d their Poetry, in particular, so much the more agreeable. The Standard was in the same proportion carry’d into other Arts. The Secretion was made. The several Species found, and set apart. The Performers and Masters in every kind, honour’d and admir’d. And, last of all, even Criticks themselves acknowledg’d and receiv’d as Masters over all the rest. From Musick, Poetry, Rhetorick, down to the simple Prose of History, thro’ all the plastick Arts of Sculpture, Statuary, Painting, Architecture, and the rest; every thing Muse-like, graceful and exquisite, was rewarded with the highest Honours, and carry’d on with the utmost Ardor and Emulation. Thus Greece, tho she exported Arts to other Nations, had properly for her own share no Import of the kind. The utmost which cou’d be nam’d, wou’d amount to no more than raw Materials, of a rude and barbarous form. And thus the Nation was evidently Original in Art; and with them every noble Study and Science was (as the great Master, so often cited by our Author, says of certain kinds of Poetry) *self-form’d, wrought out of Nature, and drawn from the necessary Operation and Course of things, working, as it were, of their own accord, and proper inclination. Now according to this natural Growth of Arts, peculiar to Greece, it wou’d necessarily happen; That at the beginning, when the Force of Language came to be first prov’d; when the admiring World made their first Judgment, and essay’d their Taste in the Elegancys of this sort; the Lofty, the Sublime, the Astonishing and Amazing wou’d be the most in fashion, and prefer’d. Metaphorical Speech, Multiplicity of Figures and high-sounding Words wou’d naturally prevail. Tho in the Common-wealth it-self, and in the Affairs of Government, Men were us’d originally to plain and direct Speech; yet when Speaking became an Art, and was taught by Sophists, and other pretended Masters, the high-poetick, and the figurative Way began to prevail, even at the Bar, and in the Publick Assemblys: Insomuch that the Grand-Master, in the * above-cited part of his Rhetoricks, where he extols the Tragick Poet Euripides, upbraids the Rhetoricians of his own Age, who retain’d that very bombastick Style, which even Poets, and those too of the tragick kind, had already thrown off, or at least considerably mitigated. But the Taste of Greece was now polishing. A better Judgment was soon form’d, when a Demosthenes was heard, and had found success. The People themselves (as our Author has shewn) came now to reform their Comedy, and familiar Manner, after Tragedy, and the higher Style, had been brought to its perfection under the last hand of an Euripides. And now in all the principal Works of Ingenuity and Art,Simplicity and Nature began chiefly to be sought: And this was the Taste which lasted thro’ so many Ages, till the Ruin of all things, under a Universal Monarchy.
If the Reader shou’d peradventure be led by his Curiosity to seek some kind of Comparison between this antient Growth of Taste, and that which we have experienc’d in modern days, and within our own Nation; he may look back to the Speeches of our Ancestors in Parliament. He will find ’em generally speaking, to have been very short and plain, but coarse, and what we properly call home-spun; till Learning came in vogue, and Science was known amongst us. When our Princes and Senators became Scholars, they spoke scholastically. And the pedantick Style was prevalent, from the first Dawn of Letters, about the Age of the Reformation, till long afterwards. Witness the best written Discourses, the admir’d Speeches, Orations, or Sermons, thro’ several Reigns, down to these latter, which we compute within the present Age. ’Twill undoubtedly be found, That till very late days, the Fashion of speaking, and the Turn of Wit, was after the figurative and florid Manner. Nothing was so acceptable as the high-sounding Phrase, the far-fetch’d Comparison, the capricious Point, and Play of Words; and nothing so despicable as what was merely of the plain or natural kind. So that it must either be confess’d, that in respect of the preceding Age, we are fallen very low in Taste; or that, if we are in reality improv’d, the natural and simple Manner which conceals and coversArt, is the most truly artful, and of the genteelest, truest, and best-study’d Taste: as has * above been treated more at large.
NOW, THEREFORE, as to our Author’s Philosophy it-self, as it lies conceal’d in †this Treatise, but more profess’d and formal in his ‡next; we shall proceed gradually according to his own Method: since it becomes not one who has undertaken the part of his airy Assistant and humorous Paraphrast, to enter suddenly, without good preparation, into his dry Reasonings and moral Researches about the social Passions and natural Affections, of which he is such a punctilious Examiner.
Of all human Affections, the noblest and most becoming human Nature, is that of Loveto one’s Country. This, perhaps, will easily be allow’d by all Men, who have really a Country, and are of the number of those who may be call’d **a People, as enjoying the Happiness of a real Constitution and Polity, by which they are free and independent. There are few such Country-men or Free-men so degenerate, as directly to discountenance or condemn this Passion of Love to their Community and national Brotherhood. The indirect Manner of opposing this Principle, is the most usual. We hear it commonly, as a Complaint, “That there is little of this Love extant in the World.” From whence ’tis hastily concluded, “That there is little or nothing of friendly or social Affection inherent in our Nature, or proper to our Species.” ’Tis however apparent, That there is scarce a Creature of human Kind, who is not possess’d at least with some inferior degree or meaner sort of this natural Affection to a Country.
* Our own country charms and draws us with a certain sweetness.
’Tis a wretched Aspect of Humanity which we figure to our-selves, when we wou’d endeavour to resolve the very Essence and Foundation of this generous Passion into a Relation to mere Clay and Dust, exclusively of any thing sensible, intelligent, or moral. ’Tis, I must own, on certain †Relations, or respective Proportions, that all natural Affection does in some measure depend. And in this View it cannot, I confess, be deny’d, that we have each of us a certain Relation to the mere Earth it-self, the very Mould or Surface of that Planet, in which, with other Animals of various sorts, We (poor Reptiles!) were also bred and nourish’d. But had it happen’d to one of us British-Men to have been born at Sea, cou’d we not therefore properly be call’d British-Men? Cou’d we be allow’d Country-Men of no sort, as having no distinct relation to any certain Soil or Region; no original Neighbourhood but with the watry Inhabitants and Sea-Monsters? Surely, if we were born of lawful Parents, lawfully employ’d, and under the Protection of Law; wherever they might be then detain’d, to whatever Colonys sent, or whither-soever driven by any Accident, or in Expeditions or Adventures in the Publick Service, or that of Mankind, we shou’d still find we had a Home, and Country, ready to lay claim to us. We shou’d be oblig’d still to consider our-selves as Fellow-Citizens, and might be allow’d to love our Country or Nation as honestly and heartily as the most inland Inhabitant or Native of the Soil. Our political and social Capacity wou’d undoubtedly come in view, and be acknowledg’d full as natural and essential in our Species, as the parental and filial kind, which gives rise to what we peculiarly call natural Affection. Or supposing that both our Birth and Parents had been unknown, and that in this respect we were in a manner younger Brothers in Society to the rest of Mankind; yet from our Nurture and Education we shou’d surely espouse some Country or other; and joyfully embracing the Protection of a Magistracy, shou’d of necessity and by force of Nature join our-selves to the general Society of Mankind, and those in particular, with whom we had enter’d into a nearer Communication of Benefits, and closer Sympathy of Affections. It may therefore be esteem’d no better than a mean Subterfuge of narrow Minds, to assign this natural Passion for Society and a Country, to such a Relation as that of a mere Fungus or common Excrescence, to its Parent-Mould, or nursing Dung-hill.
The Relation of Country-man, if it be allow’d any thing at all, must imply something moral and social. The Notion it-self pre-supposes a naturally civil and political State of Mankind, and has reference to that particular part of Society, to which we owe our chief Advantages as Men, and rational Creatures, such as are *naturally and necessarily united for each other’s Happiness and Support, and for the highest of all Happiness and Enjoyments; “The Intercourse of Minds, the free Use of our Reason, and the Exercise of mutual Love and Friendship.”
An ingenious Physician among the Moderns, having in view the natural Dependency of the vegetable and animal Kinds on their common Mother-Earth, and observing that both the one and the other draw from her their continual Sustenance, (some rooted and fix’d down to their first abodes, others unconfin’d, and wandring from place to place to suck their Nourishment): He accordingly, as I remember, styles this latter animal-Race, her releas’d Sons; Filios Terrae emancipatos. Now if this be our only way of reckoning for Mankind, we may call our-selves indeed, The Sons ofEarth,at large; but not of any particularSoil, or District. The Division of Climates and Regions is fantastick and artificial: much more the Limits of particular Countrys, Citys or Provinces. Our Natale Solum, or Mother-Earth, must by this account be the realGlobe it-self which bears us, and in respect of which we must allow the common Animals, and even the Plants of all degrees, to claim an equal Brotherhood with us, under this common Parent.
According to this Calculation we must of necessity carry our Relation as far as to the whole material World or Universe; where alone it can prove compleat. But for the particular District or Tract of Earth, which in a vulgar sense we call ourCountry, however bounded or geographically divided, we can never, at this rate, frame any accountable Relation to it, nor consequently assign any natural or proper Affection towards it.
If unhappily a Man had been born either at an Inn, or in some dirty Village; he wou’d hardly, I think, circumscribe himself so narrowly as to accept a Denomination or Character from those nearest Appendices, or local Circumstances of his Nativity. So far shou’d one be from making the Hamlet or Parish to be characteristical in the Case, that hardly wou’d the Shire it-self, or County, however rich or flourishing, be taken into the honorary Term or Appellation of one’sCountry. “What, then, shall we presume to call ourCountry? Is it England it-self?” “But what of Scotland? Is it therefore Britain?” “But what of the other Islands, the Northern Orcades, and the Southern Jersey and Guernsey? What of the Plantations, and poor Ireland?”—Behold, here, a very dubious Circumscription!
But what, after all, if there be a Conquest or Captivity in the case? a Migration? a national Secession, or Abandonment of our native Seats for some other Soil or Climate? This has happen’d, we know, to our Forefathers. And as great and powerful a People as we have been of late, and have ever shewn our-selves under the influence of free Councils, and a tolerable Ministry; shou’d we relapse again into slavish Principles, or be administer’d long under such Heads as having no Thought of Liberty for themselves, can have much less for Europe or their Neighbours; we may at last feel a War at home, become the Seat of it, and in the end a Conquest. We might then gladly embrace the hard Condition of our Predecessors, and exchange our beloved native Soil for that of some remote and uninhabited part of the World. Now shou’d this possibly be our Fate; shou’d some considerable Colony or Body be form’d afterwards out of our Remains, or meet, as it were by Miracle, in some distant Climate; wou’d there be, for the future, no English-man remaining? No common Bond of Alliance and Friendship, by which we cou’d still call Country-men, as before? How came we, I pray, by our antient name of English-men? Did it not travel with us over Land and Sea? Did we not, indeed, bring it with us heretofore from as far as the remoter Parts of Germany to this Island?
I MUST confess, I have been apt sometimes to be very angry with our Language, for having deny’d us the use of the word Patria, and afforded us no other name to express our native Community, than that of Country; which already bore * two different Significations, abstracted from Mankind or Society. Reigning words are many times of such force, as to influence us considerably in our Apprehension of things. Whether it be from any such Cause as this, I know not: but certain it is, that in the Idea of a CivilState or Nation, we English-men are apt to mix somewhat more than ordinary gross and earthy. No People who ow’d so much to a Constitution, and so little to a Soil or Climate, were ever known so indifferent towards one, and so passionately fond of the other. One wou’d imagine from the common Discourse of our Country-men, that the finest Lands near the Euphrates, the Babylonian or PersianParadises, the rich Plains of Egypt, the GrecianTempe, the RomanCampania, Lombardy, Provence, the SpanishAndalusia, or the most delicious Tracts in the Eastern or WesternIndies, were contemptible Countrys in respect of Old England.
Now by the good leave of these worthy Patriots of the Soil, I must take the liberty to say, I think Old England to have been in every respect a very indifferent Country: and that LateEngland, of an Age or two old, even since Queen Bess’s days, is indeed very much mended for the better. We were, in the beginning of her Grandfather’s Reign, under a sort of Polish Nobility; and had no other Libertys, than what were in common to us with the then fashionable Monarchys and Gothick Lordships of Europe. For Religion, indeed, we were highly fam’d, above all Nations; by being the most subject to our Ecclesiasticks at home, and the best Tributarys and Servants to the Holy See abroad.
I must go further yet, and own, that I think LateEngland, since the Revolution, to be better still than OldEngland, by many degrees; and that, in the main, we make somewhat a better Figure in Europe, than we did a few Reigns before. But however our People may of late have flourish’d, our Name, or Credit have risen; our Trade, and Navigation, our Manufactures, or our Husbandry been improv’d; ’tis certain that our Region, Climate, and Soil, is, in its own nature, still one and the same. And to whatever Politeness we may suppose our-selves already arriv’d; we must confess, that we are the latest barbarous, the last civiliz’d or polish’d People of Europe. We must allow that our first Conquest by the Romans brought us out of a State hardly equal to the Indian Tribes; and that our last Conquest by the Normans brought us only into the capacity of receiving Arts and civil Accomplishments from abroad. They came to us by degrees, from remote distances, at second or third hand; from other Courts, States, Academys, and foreign Nurserys of Wit and Manners.
Notwithstanding this, we have as over-weaning an Opinion of our-selves, as if we had a claim to be Original and Earth-born. As oft as we have chang’d Masters, and mix’d Races with our several successive Conquerors, we still pretend to be as legitimate and genuine Possessors of our Soil, as the antient Athenians accounted themselves to have been of theirs. ’Tis remarkable however in that truly antient, wise, and witty People, That as fine Territorys and noble Countrys as they possess’d, as indisputable Masters and Superiors as they were in all Science, Wit, Politeness, and Manners; they were yet so far from a conceited, selfish, and ridiculous Contempt of others, that they were even, in a contrary Extreme, “Admirers of whatever was in the least degree ingenious or curious in foreign Nations.” Their Great Men were constant Travellers. Their Legislators and Philosophers made their Voyages into Egypt, pass’d into Chaldea, and Persia; and fail’d not to visit most of the dispers’d Grecian Governments and Colonys thro’ the Islands of the AEgean, in Italy, and on the Coasts of Asia and Africa. ’Twas mention’d as a Prodigy, in the case of a great Philosopher, tho known to have been always poor; “That he shou’d never have travel’d, nor had ever gone out of Athens for his Improvement.” How modest a Reflection in those who were themselvesAthenians!
For our part, we neither care that *Foreigners shou’d travel to us, nor any of ours shou’d travel into foreign Countrys. Our best Policy and Breeding is, it seems, “To look abroad as little as possible; contract our Views within the narrowest Compass; and despise all Knowledg, Learning, or Manners, which are not of a Home Growth.” For hardly will the Antients themselves be regarded by those, who have so resolute a Contempt of what the politest Moderns of any Nation, besides their own, may have advanc’d in the way of Literature, Politeness, or Philosophy.
THIS Disposition of our Country-men, from whatever Causes it may possibly be deriv’d, is, I fear, a very prepossessing Circumstance against our Author; whose Design is to advance something new, or at least something different from what is commonly current in Philosophy and Morals. To support this Design of his, he seems intent chiefly on this single Point; “To discover, how we may, to best advantage, form within our-selves what in the polite World is call’d a Relish, or GoodTaste.”
He begins, it’s true, as near home as possible, and sends us to the narrowest of all Conversations, that of Soliloquy or Self-discourse. But this Correspondence, according to his Computation, is wholly impracticable, without a previous Commerce with the World: And the larger this Commerce is, the more practicable and improving the other, he thinks, is likely to prove. The Sources of this improving Art of Self-correspondence he derives from the highest Politeness and Elegance of antient Dialogue, and Debate, in matters of Wit, Knowledg, and Ingenuity. And nothing, according to our Author, can so well revive this self-corresponding Practice, as the same Search and Study of the highest Politeness in modern Conversation. For this, we must necessarily be at the pains of going further abroad than the Province we call Home. And, by this Account, it appears that our Author has little hopes of being either relish’d or comprehended by any other of his Country-men, than those who delight in the open and free Commerce of the World, and are rejoic’d to gather Views, and receive Light from every Quarter; in order to judg the best of what is perfect, and according to a just Standard, and true Taste in every kind.
It may be proper for us to remark in favour of our Author, that the sort of Ridicule or Raillery, which is apt to fall upon Philosophers, is of the same kind with that which falls commonly on the Virtuosi, or refin’d Wits of the Age. In this latter general Denomination we include the real fine Gentlemen, the Lovers of Art and Ingenuity; such as have seen the World, and inform’d themselves of the Manners and Customs of the several Nations of Europe, search’d into their Antiquitys, and Records; consider’d their Police, Laws, and Constitutions; observ’d the Situation, Strength, and Ornaments of their Citys, their principal Arts, Studys, and Amusements; their Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Musick, and their Taste in Poetry, Learning, Language, and Conversation.
Hitherto there can lie no Ridicule, nor the least Scope for Satirick Wit or Raillery. But when we push this Virtuoso-Character a little further, and lead our polish’d Gentleman into more nice Researches; when from the view of Mankind and their Affairs, our speculative Genius, and minute Examiner of Nature’s Works, proceeds with equal or perhaps superior Zeal in the Contemplation of the Insect-Life, the Conveniencys, Habitations and OEconomy of a Race of Shell-Fish; when he has erected a Cabinet in due form, and made it the real Pattern of his Mind, replete with the same Trash and Trumpery of correspondent empty Notions, and chimerical Conceits; he then indeed becomes the Subject of sufficient Raillery, and is made the Jest of common Conversations.
A worse thing than this happens commonly to these inferiorVirtuosi. In seeking so earnestly for Raritys, they fall in love with Rarityfor Rareness-sake. Now the greatest Raritys in the World are Monsters. So that the Study and Relish of these Gentlemen, thus assiduously imploy’d, becomes at last in reality monstrous: And their whole Delight is found to consist in selecting and contemplating whatever is most monstrous, disagreeing, out of the way, and to the least purpose of any thing in Nature.
In Philosophy, Matters answer exactly to this Virtuoso-Scheme. Let us suppose a Man, who having this Resolution merely, how to employ his Understanding to the best purpose, considers “Who or What he is; Whence he arose, or had his Being; to what End he was design’d; and to what Course of Action he is by his natural Frame and Constitution destin’d:” shou’d he descend on this account into himself, and examine his inward Powers and Facultys; or shou’d he ascend beyond his own immediate Species, City, or Community, to discover and recognize his higher Polity, or Community, (that common and universal-one, of which he is born a Member); nothing, surely, of this kind, cou’d reasonably draw upon him the least Contempt or Mockery. On the contrary, the finest Gentleman must after all be consider’d but as an Idiot, who talking much of the knowledg of the World and Mankind, has never so much as thought of the Study or Knowledg of himself, or of the Nature and Government of that real Publick and World, from whence he holds his Being.
* What are we and for what kind of life are we born?
“Where are we? Under what Roof? Or on board what Vessel? Whither bound? On what Business? Under whose Pilotship, Government, or Protection?” are Questions which every sensible Man wou’d naturally ask, if he were on a sudden transported into a new Scene of Life. ’Tis admirable, indeed, to consider, That a Man shou’d have been long come into a World, carry’d his Reason and Sense about with him, and yet have never seriously ask’d himself this single Question, “Wheream I? orWhat?” but, on the contrary, shou’d proceed regularly to every other Study and Inquiry, postponing this alone, as the least considerable; or leaving the Examination of it to others, commission’d, as he supposes, to understand and think for him, upon this Head. To be bubbled, or put upon by any sham-Advices in this Affair, is, it seems, of no consequence! We take care to examine accurately, by our own Judgment, the Affairs of other People, and the Concerns of the World which least belong to us: But what relates more immediately to our-selves, and is our chief Self-Interest, we charitably leave to others to examine for us, and readily take up with the first Comers; on whose Honesty and good Faith ’tis presum’d we may safely rely.
Here, methinks, the Ridicule turns more against the Philosophy-Haters than the Virtuosi or Philosophers. Whilst Philosophy is taken (as in its prime Sense it ought) for Mastership inLife and Manners, ’tis like to make no ill Figure in the World, whatever Impertinencys may reign, or however extravagant the Times may prove. But let us view Philosophy, like mere Virtuoso-ship, in its usual Career, and we shall find the Ridicule rising full as strongly against the Professors of the higher as the lower kind. Cockleshell abounds with each. Many things exterior, and without our-selves, of no relation to our real Interests or to those of Society and Mankind, are diligently investigated: Nature’s remotest Operations, deepest Mysterys, and most difficult Phaenomena discuss’d, and whimsically explain’d; Hypotheses and fantastick Systems erected; a Universe anatomiz’d; and by some * notable Scheme so solv’d and reduc’d, as to appear an easy Knack or Secret to those who have the Clew. Creation it-self can, upon occasion, be exhibited; Transmutations, Projections, and other PhilosophicalArcana, such as in the corporeal World can accomplish all things; whilst in the intellectual, a set Frame of metaphysical Phrases and Distinctions can serve to solve whatever Difficultys may be propounded either in Logicks, Ethicks, or any real Science, of whatever kind.
It appears from hence, that the Defects of Philosophy, and those of Virtuoso-ship are of the same nature. Nothing can be more dangerous than a wrong Choice, or Misapplication in these Affairs. But as ridiculous as these Studys are render’d by their sensless Managers; it appears, however, that each of ’em are, in their nature, essential to the Character of a Fine Gentleman and Man of Sense.
To philosophize, in a just Signification, is but to carry Good-breeding a step higher. For the Accomplishment of Breeding is, To learn whatever is decent in Company, or beautiful in Arts; and the Sum of Philosophy is, To learn what is just in Society, and beautiful in Nature, and the Order of the World.
’Tis not Wit merely, but a Temper which must form the Well-bred Man. In the same manner, ’tis not a Head merely, but a Heart and Resolution which must compleat the realPhilosopher. Both Characters aim at what is excellent, aspire to a just Taste, and carry in view the Model of what is beautiful and becoming. Accordingly, the respective Conduct and distinct Manners of each Party are regulated; The one according to the perfectest Ease, and good Entertainment of Company;the other according to the strictest Interest of Mankind and Society:The one according to a Man’s Rank and Quality in his private Nation; the other according to his Rank and Dignity in Nature.
Whether each of these Offices, of social Parts, are in themselves as convenient as becoming, is the great Question which must some-way be decided. The Well-bred Man has already decided this, in his own Case, and declar’d on the side of what is Handsom: For whatever he practises in this kind,* he accounts no more than what he owes purely to himself; without regard to any further Advantage. The Pretender toPhilosophy, who either knows not how to determine this Affair, or if he has determin’d, knows not how to pursue his Point, with Constancy, and Firmness, remains in respect of Philosophy, what a Clown or Coxcomb is in respect of Breeding and Behaviour. Thus, according to our Author, the Taste of Beauty, and the Relish of what is decent, just, and amiable, perfects the Character of the Gentleman, and the Philosopher. And the Study of such a Taste or Relish will, as we suppose, be ever the great Employment and Concern of him, who covets as well to be wise and good, as agreeable and polite.
* I care about and I ask what is true and fitting and I am completely occupied in this.
Chap. 2.CHAPTER II
Explanation of aTastecontinu’d.—Ridiculers of it.—Their Wit, and Sincerity.—Application of the Taste to Affairs of Government and Politicks.—ImaginaryCharactersin the State.—Young Nobility, and Gentry.—Pursuit ofBeauty.—Preparation for Philosophy.
BY this time, surely, I must have prov’d my-self sufficiently engag’d in the Project and Design of our Self-discoursingAuthor, whose Defence I have undertaken. His Pretension, as plainly appears in this third Treatise, is to † recommend Morals on the same foot, with what in a lower sense is call’d Manners; and to advance Philosophy (as harsh a Subject as it may appear) on the very Foundation of what is call’d agreeable and polite. And ’tis in this Method and Management that, as his Interpreter, or Paraphrast, I have propos’d to imitate and accompany him, as far as my MiscellaneousCharacter will permit.
Our joint Endeavour, therefore, must appear this: To shew, * “That nothing which is found charming or delightful in the polite World, nothing which is adopted as Pleasure, or Entertainment, of whatever kind, can any way be accounted for, supported, or establish’d, without the Pre-establishment or Supposition of a certainTaste.” Now a Taste or Judgment, ’tis suppos’d, can hardly come ready form’d with us into the World. Whatever Principles or Materials of this kind we may possibly bring with us; whatever good Facultys, Senses, or anticipating Sensations, and Imaginations, may be of Nature’s Growth, and arise properly, of themselves, without our Art, Promotion, or Assistance; the general Idea which is form’d of all this Management, and the clear Notion we attain of what is preferable and principal in all these Subjects of Choice and Estimation, will not, as I imagine, by any Person, be taken for in-nate. Use, Practice and Culture must precede the Understanding and Wit of such an advanc’d Size and Growth as this. A legitimate and just Taste can neither be begotten, made, conceiv’d, or produc’d, without the antecedent Labour and Pains of Criticism.
For this reason we presume not only to defend the Cause of Criticks; but to declare open War against those indolent supine Authors, Performers, Readers, Auditors, Actors, or Spectators; who making their Humour alone the Rule of what is beautiful and agreeable, and having no account to give of such their Humour or odd Fancy, reject the criticizing or examining Art, by which alone they are able to discover the trueBeauty and Worth of every Object.
According to that affected Ridicule which these insipid Remarkers pretend to throw upon just Criticks, the Enjoyment of all real Arts or natural Beautys wou’d be intirely lost: Even in Behaviour and Manners, we shou’d at this rate become in time as barbarous, as in our Pleasures and Diversions. I wou’d presume it, however, of these Critick-Haters, that they are not yet so unciviliz’d, or void of all social Sense, as to maintain, “That the most barbarous Life, or brutish Pleasure, is as desirable as the most polish’d or refin’d.”
For my own part, when I have sometimes heard Men of reputed Ability join in with that effeminate plantive Tone of Invective against Criticks, I have really thought they had it in their Fancy, to keep down the growing Genius’s of the Youth, their Rivals, by turning them aside from that Examination and Search, on which all good Performance as well as good Judgment depends. I have seen many a time a well-bred Man, who had him-self a real goodTaste, give way, with a malicious Complaisance, to the Humour of a Company, where, in favour chiefly of the tender Sex, this soft languishing Contempt of Criticks, and their Labours, has been the Subject set a-foot. “Wretched Creatures! (says one) impertinent Things, these Criticks, as ye call ’em!—As if one cou’dn’t know what was agreeable or pretty, without their help.—’Tis fine indeed, that one shou’dn’t be allow’d to fansy for one’s-self.—Now shou’d a thousand Criticks tell me that Mr. A——’s new Play wan’t the wittiest in the World, I wou’dn’t mind ’em one bit.”
This our real Man of Wit hears patiently; and adds, perhaps of his own, “That he thinks it, truly, somewhat hard, in what relates to People’s Diversion and Entertainment, that they shou’d be oblig’d to chuse what pleas’d others, and not themselves.” Soon after this he goes himself to the Play, finds one of his effeminate Companions commending or admiring at a wrong place. He turns to the next Person who sits by him, and asks privately, “What he thinks of his Companion’s Relish.”
Such is the Malice of the World! They who by Pains and Industry have acquir’d a realTaste in Arts, rejoice in their Advantage over others, who have either none at all, or such as renders ’em ridiculous. At an Auction of Books, or Pictures, you shall hear these Gentlemen persuading every one “To bid for what he fansys.” But, at the same time, they wou’d be soundly mortify’d themselves, if by such as they esteem’d good Judges, they shou’d be found to have purchas’d by a wrong Fancy, or illTaste. The same Gentleman who commends his Neighbour for ordering his Garden or Apartment, as hisHumour leads him, takes care his own shou’d be so order’d as the best Judgments wou’d advise. Being once a Judg himself, or but tolerably knowing in these Affairs, his Aim is not “To change the Being of Things, and bring Truth and Nature to his Humour: but, leaving Nature and Truth just as he found ’em, to accommodate his Humour and Fancy to theirStandard.” Wou’d he do this in a yet higher Case, he might in reality become as wise and great a Man, as he is already a refin’d and polish’dGentleman. By one of these Tastes he understands how to lay out his Garden, model his House, fansy his Equipage, appoint his Table: By the other he learns of what Value these Amusements are in Life, and of what Importance to a Man’s Freedom, Happiness, and Self-enjoyment. For if he wou’d try effectually to acquire the real Science or Taste of Life; he wou’d certainly discover, “That a right Mind, and generous Affection, had more Beauty and Charm, than all other Symmetrys in the World besides”: And, “That a Grain of Honesty and native Worth, was of more value than all the adventitious Ornaments, Estates, or Preferments; for the sake of which some of the better sort so oft turn Knaves; forsaking their Principles, and quitting their Honour and Freedom, for a mean, timorous, shifting State of gaudy Servitude.”
A LITTLE better Taste (were it a very little) in the Affair of Life it-self, wou’d, if I mistake not, mend the Manners, and secure the Happiness of some of our noble Countrymen, who come with high Advantage and a worthy Character into the Publick. But ere they have long engag’d in it, their Worth unhappily becomes venal. Equipages, Titles, Precedencys, Staffs, Ribbons, and other such glittering Ware, are taken in exchange for inwardMerit, Honour, and a Character.
This they may account perhaps a shreud Bargain. But there will be found very untoward Abatements in it, when the matter comes to be experienc’d. They may have descended in reality from ever so glorious Ancestors, Patriots, and Sufferers for their Country’s Liberty and Welfare: They may have made their Entrance into the World upon this bottom of anticipated Fame and Honour: They may have been advanc’d on this account to Dignitys, which they were thought to have deserv’d. But when induc’d to change their honest Measures, and sacrifice their Cause and Friends to an imaginary private Interest; they will soon find, by Experience, that they have lost the Relish and Taste of Life; and for insipid wretched Honours, of a deceitful kind, have unhappily exchang’d an amiable and sweet Honour, of a sincere and lasting Relish, and good Savour. They may, after this, act Farces, as they think fit; and hear Qualitys and Virtues assign’d to ’em, under the Titles of Graces, Excellencys, Honours, and the rest of this mock-Praise and mimical Appellation. They may even with serious Looks be told of Honour and Worth, theirPrinciple, and theirCountry: But they know better within themselves; and have occasion to find, That, after all, the World too knows better; and that their few Friends and Admirers have either a very shallow Wit, or a very profound Hypocrisy.
’Tis not in one Party alone that these Purchases and Sales of Honour are carry’d on. I can represent to my-self a noted Patriot, and reputed Pillar of the religious Part of our Constitution, who having by many and long Services, and a steddy Conduct, gain’d the Reputation of thorow Zeal with his own Party, and of Sincerity and Honour with his very Enemys, on a sudden (the time being come that the Fulness of his Reward was set before him) submits complacently to the propos’d Bargain, and sells himself for what he is worth, in a vile detestable Old-Age, to which he has reserv’d the Infamy of betraying both his Friends and Country.
I can imagine, on the other side, one of a contrary Party; a noted Friend to Liberty in Church and State; an Abhorrer of the slavish Dependency on Courts, and of the narrow Principles of Bigots: Such a one, after many publick Services of note, I can see wrought upon, by degrees, to seek Court-Preferment; and this too under a Patriot-Character. But having perhaps try’d this way with less success, he is oblig’d to change his Character, and become a royal Flatterer, a Courtier against his Nature; submitting himself, and suing, in so much the meaner degree, as his inherent Principles are well known at Court, and to his new-adopted Party, to whom he feigns himself a Proselyte.
The greater the Genius or Character is of such a Person, the greater is his Slavery, and heavier his Load. Better had it been that he had never discover’d such a Zeal for publick Good, or signaliz’d him-self in that Party; which can with least grace make Sacrifices of national Interests to a Crown, or to the private Will, Appetite, or Pleasure of a Prince. For supposing such a Genius as this had been to act his Part of Courtship in some foreign and absolute Court; how much less infamous wou’d his Part have prov’d? How much less slavish, admist a People who were All Slaves? Had he peradventure been one of that forlorn begging Troop of Gentry extant in Denmark, or Sweden, since the time that those Nations lost their Libertys; had he liv’d out of a free Nation, and happily-balanc’d Constitution; had he been either conscious of no Talent in the Affairs of Government, or of no Opportunity to exert any such, to the advantage of Mankind: Where had been the mighty shame, if perhaps he had employ’d some of his Abilitys in flattering like others, and paying the necessary Homage requir’d for Safety’s sake, and Self-preservation, in absolute and despotick Governments? The Taste, perhaps, in strictness, might still be wrong, even in this hard Circumstance: But how inexcusable in a quite contrary one! For let us suppose our Courtier not only an Englishman, but of the Rank and Stem of those old English Patriots, who were wont to curb the Licentiousness of our Court, arraign its Flatterers, and purge away those Poisons from the Ear of Princes; let us suppose him of a competent Fortune and moderate Appetites, without any apparent Luxury or Lavishment in his Manners: What shall we, after this, bring in Excuse, or as an Apology, for such a Choice as his? How shall we explain this preposterous Relish, this odd Preference of Subtlety and Indirectness, to true Wisdom, open Honesty, and Uprightness?
’Tis easier, I confess, to give account of this Corruption ofTaste in some noble Youth of a more sumptuous gay Fancy; supposing him born truly Great, and of honourable Descent; with a generous freeMind, as well as ample Fortune. Even these Circumstances themselves may be the very Causes perhaps of his being thus ensnar’d. The * Elegance of his Fancy in outward things, may have made him overlook the Worth of inward Character and Proportion: And the Love of Grandure and Magnificence, wrong turn’d, may have possess’d his Imagination over-strongly with such things as Frontispieces, Parterres, Equipages, trim Valets in party-colour’d Clothes; and others in Gentlemens Apparel.—Magnanimous Exhibitions of Honour and Generosity!—“In Town, a Palace and sutable Furniture! In the Country the same; with the addition of such Edifices and Gardens as were unknown to our Ancestors, and are unnatural to such a Climate as Great Britain!”
Mean while the Year runs on; but the Year’s Income answers not its Expence. For “Which of these Articles can be retrench’d? Which way take up, after having thus set out?” A Princely Fancy has begot all this; and a Princely Slavery, and Court-Dependence must maintain it.
The young Gentleman is now led into a Chace, in which he will have slender Capture, tho Toil sufficient. He is him-self taken. Nor will he so easily get out of that Labyrinth, to which he chose to commit his steps, rather than to the more direct and plainer Paths in which he trod before. “Farewel that generous proud Spirit, which was wont to speak only what it approv’d, commend only whom it thought worthy, and act only what it thought right! Favourites must be now observ’d, little Engines of Power attended on, and loathsomly caress’d: an honest Man dreaded, and every free Tongue or Pen abhor’d as dangerous and reproachful.” For till our Gentleman is become wholly prostitute and shameless; till he is brought to laugh at publick Virtue, and the very Notion of common Good; till he has openly renounc’d all Principles of Honour and Honesty, he must in good Policy avoid those to whom he lies so much expos’d, and shun that Commerce and Familiarity which was once his chief Delight.
Such is the Sacrifice made to a wrong Pride, and ignorant Self-esteem; by one whose inward Character must necessarily, after this manner, become as mean and abject, as his outward Behaviour insolent and intolerable.
There are another sort of Suitors to Power, and Traffickers of inwardWorthandLiberty for outward Gain, whom one wou’d be naturally drawn to compassionate. They are themselves of a humane, compassionate, and friendly nature, Well-wishers to their Country and Mankind. They cou’d, perhaps, even embrace Poverty contentedly, rather than submit to any thing diminutive either of their inward Freedom or national Liberty. But what they can bear in their own Persons, they cannot bring themselves to bear in the Persons of such as are to come after them. Here the best and noblest of Affections are borne down by the Excess of the next best, those of Tenderness for Relations and near Friends.
Such Captives as these wou’d disdain, however, to devote themselves to any Prince or Ministry, whose Ends were wholly tyrannical, and irreconcilable with the true Interest of their Nation. In other cases of a less Degeneracy, they may bow down perhaps in the Temple ofRimmon, support the Weight of their supineLords, and prop the Steps and ruining Credit of their corrupt Patrons.
This is Drudgery sufficient for such honest Natures; such as by hard Fate alone cou’d have been made dishonest. But as for Pride or Insolence on the account of their outward Advancement and seeming Elevation; they are so far from any thing resembling it, that one may often observe what is very contrary in these fairer Characters of Men. For tho perhaps they were known somewhat rigid and severe before; you see ’em now grown in reality submissive and obliging. Tho in Conversation formerly dogmatical and over-bearing, on the Points of State and Government; they are now the patientest to hear, the least forward to dictate, and the readiest to embrace any entertaining Subject of Discourse, rather than that of the Publick, and their own personal Advancement.
Nothing is so near Virtue as this Behaviour; and nothing so remote from it, nothing so sure a Token of the most profligate Manners, as the contrary. In a free Government, ’tis so much the Interest of every one in Place, who profits by the Publick, to demean himself with Modesty and Submission; that to appear immediately the more insolent and haughty on such an Advancement, is the mark only of a contemptible Genius, and of a want of true Understanding, even in the narrow Sense of Interest and private Good.
Thus we see, after all, that ’tis not merely what we call Principle, but a Taste, which governs Men. They may think for certain “This is right, or that wrong”: They may believe “This a Crime, or that a Sin; This punishable by Man, or that by God!” Yet if the Savor of things lies cross to Honesty; if the Fancy be florid, and the Appetite high towards the subaltern Beautys and lower Order of worldly Symmetrys and Proportions; the Conduct will infallibly turn this latter way.
Even Conscience, I fear, such as is owing to religious Discipline, will make but a slight Figure, where this Taste is set amiss. Among the Vulgar perhaps it may do wonders. A Devil and a Hell may prevail, where a Jail and Gallows are thought insufficient. But such is the Nature of the liberal, polish’d, and refin’d part of Mankind; so far are they from the mere Simplicity of Babes and Sucklings; that, instead of applying the Notion of a future Reward or Punishment to their immediate Behaviour in Society, they are apt, much rather, thro’ the whole Course of their Lives, to shew evidently that they look on the pious Narrations to be indeed no better than Childrens Tales, or the Amusement of the mere Vulgar:
* That our ghosts exist and realms below the earth . . . not even children believe, except those who are too young to pay at the baths.
Something therefore shou’d, methinks, be further thought of, in behalf of our generous Youths, towards the correcting of their Taste, or Relish in the Concerns of Life. For this at last is what will influence. And in this respect the Youth alone are to be regarded. Some hopes there may be still conceiv’d of These. The rest are confirm’d and harden’d in their way. A middle-ag’d Knave (however devout or orthodox) is but a common Wonder: An old-one is no Wonder at all: But a young-one is still (thank Heaven!) somewhat extraordinary. And I can never enough admire what was said once by a worthy Man at the first appearance of one of these young able Prostitutes, “That he even trembled at the sight, to find Nature capable of being turn’d so soon: and That he boded greater Calamity to his Country from this single Example of young Villany, than from the Practices and Arts of all the old Knaves in being.”
Let us therefore proceed in this view, addressing our-selves to the grown Youth of our polite World. Let the Appeal be to these, whose Relish is retrievable, and whose Taste may yet be form’d in Morals; as it seems to be, already, in exterior Manners and Behaviour.
THAT there is really a Standard of this latter kind, will immediately, and on the first view, be acknowledg’d. The Contest is only, “Which is right:—Which the un-affected Carriage, and just Demeanour: And Which the affected and false.” Scarce is there any-one, who pretends not to know and to decide What is well-bred and handsom. There are few so affectedly clownish, as absolutely to disown Good-breeding, and renounce the Notion of a Beauty in outward Manners and Deportment. With such as these, wherever they shou’d be found, I must confess, I cou’d scarce be tempted to bestow the least Pains or Labour, towards convincing ’em of a Beauty in inward Sentiments and Principles.
Whoever has any Impression of what we call Gentility or Politeness, is already so acquainted with the Decorum and Grace of things, that he will readily confess a Pleasure and Enjoyment in the very Survey and Contemplation of this kind. Now if in the way of polite Pleasure, the Study and Love ofBeauty be essential; the Study and Love ofSymmetry and Order, on which Beauty depends, must also be essential, in the same respect.
’Tis impossible we can advance the least in any Relish or Taste of outward Symmetry and Order; without acknowledging that the proportionate and regular State is the truly prosperous and natural in every Subject. The same Features which make Deformity, create Incommodiousness and Disease. And the same Shapes and Proportions which make Beauty, afford Advantage, by adapting to Activity and Use. Even in the imitative or designing Arts, (to which our Author so often refers) the Truth or Beauty of every Figure or Statue is measur’d from the Perfection of Nature, in her just adapting of every Limb and Proportion to the Activity, Strength, Dexterity, Life and Vigor of the particular Species or Animal design’d.
Thus Beauty and *Truth are plainly join’d with the Notion of Utility andConvenience, even in the Apprehension of every ingenious Artist, the †Architect, the Statuary, or the Painter. ’Tis the same in the Physician’s way. Natural Health is the just Proportion, Truth, and regular Course of things, in a Constitution. ’Tis the inward Beauty of theBody. And when the Harmony and just Measures of the rising Pulses, the circulating Humours, and the moving Airs or Spirits are disturb’d or lost, Deformity enters, and with it, Calamity and Ruin.
Shou’d not this, one wou’d imagine, be still the same Case, and hold equally as to theMind? Is there nothing there which tends to Disturbance and Dissolution? Is there no natural Tenour, Tone, or Order of the Passions or Affections? No Beauty, or Deformity in this moral kind? Or allowing that there really is; must it not, of consequence, in the same manner imply Health or Sickliness, Prosperity or Disaster? Will it not be found in this respect, above all, “That what is *beautiful is harmonious and proportionable; what is harmonious and proportionable, is true; and what is at once both beautiful and true, is, of consequence, agreeable and good?”
Where then is this Beauty or Harmony to be found? How is this Symmetry to be discover’d and apply’d? Is it any other Art than that of Philosophy, or the Study of inward Numbers and Proportions, which can exhibit this in Life? If no other; Who, then, can possibly have a Taste of this kind, without being beholden to Philosophy? Who can admire the outward Beautys, and not recur instantly to the inward, which are the most real and essential, the most naturally affecting, and of the highest Pleasure, as well as Profit and Advantage?
In so short a compass does that Learning and Knowledge lie, on which Manners and Life depend. ’Tis We our-selves create and form our Taste. If we resolve to have it just; ’tis in our power. We may esteem and value, approve and disapprove, as we wou’d wish. For who wou’d not rejoice to be always equal and consonant to himself, and have constantly that Opinion of things which is natural and proportionable? But who dares search Opinion to the bottom, or call in question his early and prepossessingTaste? Who is so just to himself, as to recal his Fancy from the power of Fashion and Education, to that of Reason? Cou’d we, however, be thus courageous; we shou’d soon settle in our-selves such an Opinion of Good as wou’d secure to us an invariable, agreeable, and justTaste in Life and Manners.
THUS HAVE I endeavour’d to tread in my Author’s steps, and prepare the Reader for the serious and downright Philosophy, which even in this * last commented Treatise, our Author keeps still as a Mystery, and dares not formally profess. His Pretence has been to advise Authors, and polish Styles; but his Aim has been to correct Manners, and regulate Lives. He has affected Soliloquy, as pretending only to censure Himself; but he has taken occasion to bring others into his Company, and make bold with Personages and Characters of no inferior Rank. He has given scope enough to Raillery and Humour; and has intrench’d very largely on the Province of us Miscellanarian Writers. But the Reader is † now about to see him in a new aspect, “a formal and profess’d Philosopher, a System-Writer, a Dogmatist, and Expounder.”—Habes consitentem reum.
So to his Philosophy I commit him. Tho, according as my Genius and present Disposition will permit, I intend still to accompany him at a distance, keep him in sight, and convoy him, the best I am able, thro’ the dangerous Seas he is about to pass.
Chap. 1.CHAPTER I
Connexion and Union of the Subject-Treatises.—Philosophyin form.—Metaphysicks.—Ego-ity. Identity.—Moral Footing.—Proof and Discipline of the Fancys. Settlement ofOpinion.—Anatomy of the Mind.—A Fable.
WE have already, in the beginning of our preceding Miscellany, taken notice of our Author’s Plan, and the Connection and Dependency of his *Joint-Tracts, comprehended in two preceding Volumes. We are now, in our Commentator-Capacity, arriv’d at length to his second Volume, to which the three Pieces of his first appear preparatory. That they were really so design’d, the Advertisement to the first Edition of his Soliloquy is a sufficient Proof. He took occasion there, in a line or two, under the Name of his Printer, or (as he otherwise calls him) his Amanuensis, to prepare us for a more elaborate and methodical Piece which was to follow. We have this System now before us. Nor need we wonder, such as it is, that it came so hardly into the World, and that our Author has been deliver’d of it with so much difficulty, and after so long a time. His Amanuensis and he, were not, it seems, heretofore upon such good Terms of Correspondence. Otherwise such an unshapen Foetus, or false Birth, as that of which our Author in his † Title-page complains, had not formerly appear’d abroad. Nor had it ever risen again in its more decent Form, but for the accidental Publication of our Author’s First ‡ Letter, which, by a necessary Train of Consequences, occasion’d the revival of this abortive Piece, and gave usherance to its Companions.
It will appear therefore in this Joint-Edition of our Author’s Five Treatises, that the Three former are preparatory to the Fourth, on which we are now enter’d; and the Fifth (with which he concludes) a kind of Apology for this reviv’d Treatise concerning Virtue and Religion.
As for his Apology (particularly in what relates to reveal’d Religion, and a World to come) I commit the Reader to the disputant Divines, and Gentlemen, whom our Author has introduc’d in that concluding Piece of Dialogue-Writing, or rhapsodical Philosophy. Mean while, we have here no other part left us, than to enter into the dryPhilosophy, and rigid Manner of our Author; without any Excursions into various Literature; without help from the Comick or TragickMuse, or from the Flowers of Poetry or Rhetorick.
Such is our present Pattern, and strict moral Task; which our more humorous Reader fore-knowing, may immediately, if he pleases, turn over; skipping (as is usual in many grave Works) a Chapter or two, as he proceeds. We shall, to make amends, endeavour afterwards, in our following Miscellany, to entertain him again with more chearful Fare, and afford him a Dessert, to rectify his Palat, and leave his Mouth at last in good relish.
To the patient and graveReader, therefore, who in order to moralize, can afford to retire into his Closet, as to some religious or devout Exercise, we presume thus to offer a few Reflections, in the support of our Author’s profound Inquiry. And accordingly, we are to imagine our Author speaking, as follows.
HOW LITTLE regard soever may be shewn to that moral Speculation or Inquiry, which we call the Study of our-selves; it must, in strictness, be yielded, That all Knowledg whatsoever depends upon this previous-one: “And that we can in reality be assur’d of nothing, till we are first assur’d of What we areOur-selves.” For by this alone we can know what Certainty and Assurance is.
That there is something undoubtedly which thinks, our very Doubt it-self and scrupulous Thought evinces. But in what Subject that Thought resides, and how that Subject is continu’d one and the same, so as to answer constantly to the suppos’d Train of Thoughts or Reflections which seem to run so harmoniously thro’ a long Course of Life, with the same relation still to one single and self-samePerson; this is not a Matter so easily or hastily decided, by those who are nice Self-Examiners, or Searchers after Truth and Certainty.
’Twill not, in this respect, be sufficient for us to use the seeming Logick of a famous * Modern, and say “We think: therefore We are.” Which is a notably invented Saying, after the Model of that like philosophical Proposition; That “What is, is.”—Miraculously argu’d! “If I am; I am.”—Nothing more certain! For the Ego or I, being establish’d in the first part of the Proposition, the Ergo, no doubt, must hold it good in the latter. But the Question is, “What constitutes the We or I?” And, “Whether the I of this instant, be the same with that of any instant preceding, or to come.” For we have nothing but Memory to warrant us: and Memory may be false. We may believe we have thought and reflected thus or thus: but we may be mistaken. We may be conscious of that, as Truth; which perhaps was no more than Dream: and we may be conscious of that as a past Dream, which perhaps was never before so much as dreamt of.
This is what Metaphysicians mean, when they say, “That Identity can be prov’d only by Consciousness; but that Consciousness, withal, may be as well false as real, in respect of what is past.” So that the same successional We or I must remain still, on this account, undecided.
To the force of this Reasoning I confess I must so far submit, as to declare that for my own part, I take my Being upon Trust. Let others philosophize as they are able: I shall admire their strength, when, upon this Topick, they have refuted what able Metaphysicians object, and Pyrrhonists plead in their own behalf.
Mean while, there is no Impediment, Hinderance, or Suspension of Action, on account of these wonderfully refin’d Speculations. Argument and Debate go on still. Conduct is settled. Rules and Measures are given out, and receiv’d. Nor do we scruple to act as resolutely upon the mere Supposition that we are, as if we had effectually prov’d it a thousand times, to the full satisfaction of our Metaphysical or Pyrrhonean Antagonist.
This to me appears sufficient Ground for a Moralist. Nor do I ask more, when I undertake to prove the reality of Virtue and Morals.
If it be certain that I am; ’tis certain and demonstrable Who and WhatI ought to be, even on my own account, and for the sake of my own private Happiness and Success. For thus I take the liberty to proceed.
The Affections, of which I am conscious, are either Grief, or Joy; Desire, or Aversion. For whatever mere Sensation I may experience; if it amounts to neither of these, ’tis indifferent, and no way affects me.
That which causes Joy and Satisfaction when present, causes Grief and Disturbance when absent: And that which causes Grief and Disturbance when present, does when absent, by the same necessity occasion Joy and Satisfaction.
Thus Love (which implies Desire, with Hope of Good) must afford occasion to Grief and Disturbance, when it acquires not what it earnestly seeks. And Hatred (which implies Aversion, and Fear of Ill) must, in the same manner, occasion Grief and Calamity, when that which it earnestly shun’d, or wou’d have escap’d, remains present, or is altogether unavoidable.
That which being present can never leave the Mind at rest, but must of necessity cause Aversion, is its Ill. But that which can be sustain’d without any necessary Abhorrence, or Aversion, is not its Ill; but remains indifferent in its own nature; the Ill being in the Affection only, which wants redress.
In the same manner, that which being absent, can never leave the Mind at rest, or without Disturbance and Regret, is of necessity its Good. But that which can be absent, without any present or future Disturbance to the Mind, is not its Good, but remains indifferent in its own nature. From whence it must follow, That the Affection towards it, as suppos’dGood, is an ill Affection, and creative only of Disturbance and Disease. So that the Affections of Love and Hatred,Liking and Dislike, on which the Happiness or Prosperity of the Person so much depends, being influenc’d and govern’d by Opinion; the highest Good or Happiness must depend on right Opinion, and the highest Misery be deriv’d from wrong.
To explain this, I consider, for instance, the Fancy or Imagination I have of Death, according as I find this Subject naturally passing in my Mind. To this Fancy, perhaps, I find united an Opinion or Apprehension of Evil and Calamity. Now the more my Apprehension of this Evil increases; the greater, I find, my Disturbance proves, not only at the approach of the suppos’d Evil, but at the very distant Thought of it. Besides that, the Thought it-self will of necessity so much the oftner recur, as the Aversion or Fear is violent, and increasing.
From this suppos’d Evil I must, however, fly with so much the more earnestness, as the Opinion of the Evil increases. Now if the Increase of the Aversion can be no Cause of the Decrease or Diminution of the Evil it-self, but rather the contrary; then the Increase of the Aversion must necessarily prove the Increase of Disappointment and Disturbance. And so on the other hand, the Diminution or Decrease of the Aversion (if this may any way be effected) must of necessity prove the Diminution of inward Disturbance, and the better Establishment of inward Quiet and Satisfaction.
Again, I consider with my-self, That I have the *Imagination of something beautiful, great, and becoming in Things. This Imagination I apply perhaps to such Subjects as Plate, Jewels, Apartments, Coronets, Patents of Honour, Titles, or Precedencys. I must therefore naturally seek these, not as mere Conveniencys, Means, or Helps in Life, (for as such my Passion cou’d not be so excessive towards ’em) but as excellent in them-selves, necessarily attractive of my Admiration, and directly and immediately causing my Happiness, and giving me Satisfaction. Now if thePassion rais’d on this Opinion (call it Avarice, Pride, Vanity, or Ambition) be indeed incapable of any real Satisfaction, even under the most successful Course of Fortune; and then too, attended with perpetual Fears of Disappointment and Loss: how can the Mind be other than miserable, when possess’d by it? But if instead of forming thus the Opinion ofGood; if instead of placing Worth or Excellence in these outward Subjects, we place it, where it is truest, in the Affections or Sentiments, in the governing Part and inward Character; we have then the full Enjoyment of it within our power: The Imagination or Opinion remains steddy and irreversible: And the Love, Desire and Appetite is answer’d; without Apprehension of Loss or Disappointment.
Here therefore arises Work and Employment for us Within: “To regulateFancy, and rectify *Opinion, on which all depends.” For if our Loves, Desires, Hatreds and Aversions are left to themselves; we are necessarily expos’d to endless Vexation and Calamity: but if these are found capable of Amendment, or in any measure flexible or variable by Opinion; we ought, methinks, to make trial, at least, how far we might by this means acquire Felicity and Content.
Accordingly, if we find it evident, on one hand, that by indulging any wrong Appetite (as either Debauch, Malice, or Revenge) the Opinion of the false Good increases; and the Appetite, which is a real Ill, grows so much the stronger: we may be as fully assur’d, on the other hand, that by restraining this Affection, and nourishing a contrary sort in opposition to it; we cannot fail to diminish what is Ill, and increase what is properly our Happiness and Good.
On this account, a Man may reasonably conclude, “That it becomes him, by working upon his own Mind, to withdraw the Fancy or Opinion of Good or Ill from that to which justly and by necessity it is not join’d; and apply it, with the strongest Resolution, to that with which it naturally agrees.” For if the Fancy or Opinion of Good be join’d to what is not durable, nor in my power either to acquire or to retain; the more such an Opinion prevails, the more I must be subject to Disappointment and Distress. But if there be that to which, whenever I apply the Opinion or Fancy of Good, I find the Fancy more consistent, and the Good more durable, solid, and within my Power and Command; then the more such an Opinion prevails in me, the more Satisfaction and Happiness I must experience.
Now, if I join the Opinion of Good to the Possessions of the Mind; if it be in the Affections themselves that I place my highest Joy, and in those Objects, whatever they are, of inward Worth and Beauty, (such as Honesty, Faith, Integrity, Friendship, Honour) ’tis evident I can never possibly, in this respect, rejoice amiss, or indulge my-self too far in the Enjoyment. The greater my Indulgence is, the less I have reason to fear either Reverse or Disappointment.
This, I know, is far contrary in another Regimen of Life. The Tutorage of Fancy and Pleasure, and the easy Philosophy of taking that for Good which *pleases me, or which I fansy merely, will, in time, give me Uneasiness sufficient. ’Tis plain, from what has been debated, That the less fanciful I am, in what relates to my Content and Happiness, the more powerful and absolute I must be, in Self-enjoyment, and the Possession of my Good. And since ’tis Fancy merely, which gives the force of Good, or power of passing as such, to Things of Chance and outward Dependency; ’tis evident, that the more I take from Fancy in this respect, the more I confer upon my-self. As I am less led or betray’d by Fancy to an Esteem of what depends on others; I am the more fix’d in the Esteem of what depends on myself alone. And if I have once gain’d the Taste of *Liberty, I shall easily understand the force of this Reasoning, and know both my trueSelf and Interest.
The Method therefore requir’d in this my inward OEconomy, is, to make those Fancys themselves the Objects of my Aversion which justly deserve it; by being the Cause of a wrong Estimation and Measure of Good and Ill, and consequently the Cause of my Unhappiness and Disturbance.
Accordingly (as the learned Masters in this Science advise) we are to begin rather † by the averse, than by the prone and forward Disposition. We are to work rather by the weaning than the ingaging Passions: since if we give way chiefly to Inclination, by loving, applauding and admiring what is Great and Good, we may possibly, it seems, in some high Objects of that kind, be so amus’d and extasy’d, as to lose our-selves, and miss our proper Mark, for want of a steddy and settled Aim. But being more sure and infallible in what relates to our Ill, we shou’d begin, they tell us, by applying our Aversion, on that side, and raising our Indignation against those Meannesses of Opinion and Sentiment, which are the Causes of our Subjection, and Perplexity.
Thus the covetous Fancy, if consider’d as the Cause of Misery, (and consequently detested as a real Ill) must of necessity abate: And the ambitious Fancy, if oppos’d in the same manner, with Resolution, by better Thought, must resign it-self, and leave the Mind free, and disincumber’d in the pursuit of its better Objects.
Nor is the Case different in the Passion of Cowardice, or Fear of Death. For if we leave this Passion to it-self, (or to certain Tutors to manage for us) it may lead us to the most anxious and tormenting State of Life. But if it be oppos’d by sounder Opinion, and a just Estimation of things, it must diminish of course: And the natural Result of such a Practice must be, the Rescue of the Mind from numberless Fears, and Miserys of other kinds.
Thus at last a Mind, by knowing it-self, and its own proper Powers and Virtues, becomes free, and independent. It sees its Hindrances and Obstructions, and finds they are wholly from it-self, and from Opinions wrong-conceiv’d. The more it conquers in this respect, (be it in the least particular) the more it is its own Master, feels its own naturalLiberty, and congratulates with it-self on its own Advancement and Prosperity.
Whether some who are call’d Philosophers have so apply’d their Meditations, as to understand any thing of this Language, I know not. But well I am assur’d that many an honest and free-hearted Fellow, among the vulgar Rank of People, has naturally some kind of Feeling or Apprehension of this Self-enjoyment; when refusing to act for Lucre or outward Profit, the Thing which from his Soul he abhors, and thinks below him; he goes on, with harder Labour, but more Content, in his direct plain Path. He is secure within; free of what the World calls Policy, or Design; and sings, according to the old Ballad,
My Mind to me a Kingdom is, &c.
Which in Latin we may translate,
BUT I FORGET, it seems, that I am now speaking in the Person of our graveInquirer. I shou’d consider I have no Right to vary from the Pattern he has set; and that whilst I accompany him in this particular Treatise, I ought not to make the least Escape out of the high Road of Demonstration, into the diverting Paths of Poetry, or Humour.
As grave however as Morals are presum’d in their own nature, I look upon it as an essential matter in their Delivery, to take now and then the natural Air of Pleasantry. The first Morals which were ever deliver’d in the World, were in Parables, Tales, or Fables. And the latter and most consummate Distributers of Morals, in the very politest times, were great Tale-Tellers, and Retainers to honest AEsop.
After all the regular Demonstrations and Deductions of our grave Author, I dare say ’twou’d be a high Relief and Satisfaction to his Reader, to hear an Apologue, or Fable, well told, and with such humour as to need no sententious Moral at the end, to make the application.
As an Experiment in this case, let us at this instant imagine our grave Inquirer taking pains to shew us, at full length, the unnatural and unhappy Excursions, Rovings, or Expeditions of our ungovern’d Fancys and Opinions over a World of Riches, Honours, and other ebbing and flowing Goods. He performs this, we will suppose, with great Sagacity, to the full measure and scope of our Attention. Mean while, as full or satiated as we might find our-selves of serious and solid Demonstration, ’tis odds but we might find Vacancy still sufficient to receive Instruction by another Method. And I dare answer for success, shou’d a merrier Moralist of the AEsopaean-School present himself; and, hearing of this Chace describ’d by our Philosopher, beg leave to represent it to the life, by a homely Cur or two, of his Master’s ordinary breed.
“Two of this Race” (he wou’d tell us) “having been daintily bred, and in high thoughts of what they call’d Pleasure and good Living, travel’d once in quest of Game and Raritys, till they came by accident to the Sea-side. They saw there, at a distance from the shore, some floating pieces of a Wreck, which they took a fancy to believe some wonderful rich Dainty, richer than Amber-greese, or the richest Product of the Ocean. They cou’d prove it, by their Appetite and Longing, to be no less than Quintessence of the Main, ambrosial Substance, the Repast of marine Deitys, surpassing all which Earth afforded.—By these rhetorical Arguments, after long Reasoning with one another in this florid Vein, they proceeded from one Extravagance of Fancy to another; till they came at last to this issue. Being unaccustom’d to Swimming, they wou’d not, it seems, in prudence, venture so far out of their Depth as was necessary to reach their imagin’d Prize: But being stout Drinkers, they thought with themselves, they might compass to drink all which lay in their way; even TheSea it-self; and that by this method they might shortly bring their Goods safe to dry Land. To work therefore they went; and drank till they were both burst.”
For my own part, I am fully satisfy’d that there are more Sea-drinkers than one or two, to be found among the principal Personages of Mankind; and that if these Dogs of ours were silly Curs, many who pass for wise in our own Race are little wiser; and may properly enough be said to have the Sea to drink.
’Tis pretty evident that they who live in the highest Sphere of human Affairs, have a very uncertain View of the thing call’d Happiness or Good. It lies out at Sea, far distant, in the Offin; where those Gentlemen ken it but very imperfectly: And the means they employ in order to come up with it, are very wide of the matter, and far short of their propos’d End.—“First a general Acquaintance.—Visits, Levees.—Attendance upon the Great and Little.—Popularity.—A Place in Parliament.—Then another at Court.—Then Intrigue, Corruption, Prostitution.—Then a higher Place.—Then a Title.—Then a Remove.—A newMinister!—Fractions at Court.—Ship-wreck of Ministrys—The new: The old.—Engage with one: piece up with t’other.—Bargains; Losses; After-Games; Retrievals.”—Is not this, the Sea to drink?
* But if riches could make you wise, if they could make you less lustful, less easily frightened, of course you would blush to have any one alive more avaricious than you.
But lest I shou’d be tempted to fall into a manner I have been oblig’d to disclaim in this part of my Miscellaneous Performance; I shall here set a Period to this Discourse, and renew my attempt of serious Reflection and grave Thought, by taking up my Clew in a fresh Chapter.
Chap. 2.CHAPTER II
Passage from Terra Incognita to the visible World.—Mistress-ship ofNature.—Animal-Confederacy, Degrees, Subordination.—Master-Animal Man. Privilege of his Birth.—Serious Countenance of the Author.
AS heavily as it went with us, in the deep philosophical part of our preceding Chapter; and as necessarily engag’d as we still are to prosecute the same serious Inquiry, and Search, into those dark Sources; ’tis hop’d, That our remaining Philosophy may flow in a more easy Vein; and the second Running be found somewhat clearer than the first. However it be; we may, at least, congratulate with our-selves for having thus briefly pass’d over that Metaphysical part, to which we have paid sufficient deference. Nor shall we scruple to declare our Opinion, “That it is, in a manner, necessary for one who wou’d usefully philosophize, to have a Knowledg in this part of Philosophy, sufficient to satisfy him that there is no Knowledg or Wisdom to be learnt from it.” For of this Truth nothing besides Experience and Study will be able fully to convince him.
When we are even past these empty Regions and Shadows of Philosophy; ’twill still perhaps appear an uncomfortable kind of travelling thro’ those other invisible Ideal Worlds: such as the Study of Morals, we see, engages us to visit. Men must acquire a very peculiar and strong Habit of turning their Eye inwards, in order to explore the interior Regions and Recesses of the Mind, the hollow Caverns of deep Thought, the private Seats of Fancy, and the Wastes and Wildernesses, as well as the more fruitful and cultivated Tracts of this obscure Climate.
But what can one do? Or how dispense with these darker Disquisitions and Moon-light Voyages, when we have to deal with a sort of Moon-blindWits, who tho very acute and able in their kind, may be said to renounce Day-light, and extinguish, in a manner, the bright visible outward World, by allowing us to know nothing beside what we can prove, by strict and formal Demonstration?
’Tis therefore to satisfy such rigid Inquirers as these, that we have been necessitated to proceed by the inward way; and that in our preceding Chapter we have built only on such foundations as are taken from our very Perceptions, Fancys, Appearances, Affections, and Opinions themselves, without regard to any thing of an exteriorWorld, and even on the supposition that there is no such World in being.
Such has been our late dry Task. No wonder if it carrys, indeed, a meagre and raw Appearance. It may be look’d on, in Philosophy, as worse than a mere EgyptianImposition. For to make Brick without Straw or Stubble, is perhaps an easier labour, than to prove Morals without a World, and establish a Conduct of Life without the Supposition of any thing living or extant besides our immediate Fancy, and Worldof Imagination.
But having finished this mysterious Work, we come now to open Day, and Sunshine: And, as a Poet perhaps might express himself, we are now ready to quit
We are, henceforward, to trust our Eyes, and take for real the whole Creation, andthe fair Forms which lie before us. We are to believe the Anatomy of our own Body, and in proportionable Order, the Shapes, Forms, Habits, and Constitutions of other Animal-Races. Without demurring on the profound modern Hypothesis of animal Insensibility, we are to believe firmly and resolutely, “That other Creatures have their Sense and Feeling, their mere Passions and Affections, as well as our-selves.” And in this manner we proceed accordingly, on our Author’s Scheme, “To inquire what is truly natural to each Creature: And Whether that which is natural to each, and is its Perfection, be not withal its Happiness, or Good.”
To deny there is any thing properly natural, (after the Concessions already made) wou’d be undoubtedly very preposterous and absurd. Nature and the outward World being own’d existent, the rest must of necessity follow. The Anatomy of Bodys, the Order of the Spheres, the proper Mechanisms of a thousand kinds, and the infinite Ends and sutable Means establish’d in the general Constitution and Order of Things; all this being once admitted, and allow’d to pass as certain and unquestionable, ’tis as vain afterwards to except against the Phrase of natural and unnatural, and question the Propriety of this Speech apply’d to the particular Forms and Beings in the World, as it wou’d be to except against the common Appellations of Vigour and Decay in Plants, Health or Sickness in Bodys, Sobriety or Distraction in Minds, Prosperity or Degeneracy in any variable part of the known Creation.
We may, perhaps, for Humour sake, or after the known way of disputant Hostility, in the support of any odd Hypothesis, pretend to deny this natural and unnatural in Things. ’Tis evident, however, that tho our Humour or Taste be, by such Affectation, ever so much deprav’d; we cannot resist our natural *Anticipation in behalf ofNature; according to whose suppos’d Standard we perpetually approve and disapprove, and to whom in all natural Appearances, all moral Actions (whatever we contemplate, whatever we have in debate) we inevitably appeal, and pay our constant Homage, with the most apparent Zeal and Passion.
’Tis here, above all other places, that we say with strict Justice,
* You may turn out nature with a pitchfork, yet back she will keep coming.
The airy Gentlemen, who have never had it in their thoughts to studyNature in their own Species; but being taken with other Loves, have apply’d their Parts and Genius to the same Study in a Horse, a Dog, a Game-Cock, a Hawk, or any other † Animal of that degree; know very well, that to each Species there belongs a several Humour, Temper, and Turn of inward Disposition, as real and peculiar as the Figure and outward Shape, which is with so much Curiosity beheld and admir’d. If there be any thing ever so little amiss or wrong in the inward Frame, the Humour or Temper of the Creature, ’tis readily call’d vicious; and when more than ordinarily wrong, unnatural. The Humours of the Creatures, in order to their redress, are attentively observ’d; sometimes indulg’d and flatter’d; at other times controul’d and check’d with proper Severitys. In short, their Affections, Passions, Appetites, and Antipathys, are as duly regarded as those in Human Kind, under the strictest Discipline of Education. Such is theSenseof inward Proportion and Regularity of Affections, even in our Noble Youths them-selves; who in this respect are often known expert and able Masters of Education, tho not so susceptible of Discipline and Culture in their own case, after those early Indulgences to which their Greatness has intitled ’em.
As little favourable however as these sportly Gentlemen are presum’d to show themselves towards the Care or Culture of their own Species; as remote as their Contemplations are thought to lie from Nature and Philosophy; they confirm plainly and establish our philosophical Foundation of the natural Ranks, Orders, interior and exterior Proportions of the several distinct Species and Forms of Animal Beings. Ask one of these Gentlemen, unawares, when sollicitously careful and busy’d in the great Concerns of his Stable, or Kennel, “Whether his Hound or Greyhound-Bitch who eats her Puppys, is as natural as the other who nurses ’em?” and he will think you frantick. Ask him again, “Whether he thinks the unnatural Creature who acts thus, or the natural-one who does otherwise, is best in its kind, and enjoys it-self the most?” And he will be inclin’d to think still as strangely of you. Or if perhaps he esteems you worthy of better Information; he will tell you, “That his best-bred Creatures, and of the truest Race, are ever the noblest and most generous in their Natures: That it is this chiefly which makes the difference between the Horse of good Blood, and the errant Jade of a base Breed; between the Game-Cock, and the Dunghil-Craven; between the true Hawk, and the mere Kite or Buzzard; and between the right Mastiff, Hound, or Spaniel, and the very Mungrel.” He might, withal, tell you perhaps with a masterly Air in this Brute-Science, “That the timorous, poor-spirited, lazy and gluttonous of his Dogs, were those whom he either suspected to be of a spurious Race, or who had been by some accident spoil’d in their Nursing and Management: for that this was not natural to ’em. That in every Kind, they were still the miserablest Creatures who were thus spoil’d: And that having each of ’em their proper Chace or Business, if they lay resty and out of their Game, chamber’d, and idle, they were the same as if taken out of their Element. That the saddest Curs in the world, were those who took the Kitchin-Chimney and Dripping-pan for their Delight; and that the only happyDog (were one to be a DogOne’s-Self) was he, who in his proper Sport and Exercise, his natural Pursuit and Game, endur’d all Hardships, and had so much delight in Exercise and in the Field, as to forget Home and his Reward.”
Thus the natural Habits and Affections of the inferior Creatures are known; and their unnatural and degenerate part discover’d. Depravity and Corruption is acknowledg’d as real in their Affections, as when any thing is mishapen, wrong, or monstrous in their outward Make. And notwithstanding much of this inward Depravity is discoverable in the Creatures tam’d by Man, and, for his Service or Pleasure merely, turn’d from their natural Course into a contrary Life and Habit; notwithstanding that, by this means, the Creatures who naturally herd with one another, lose their associating Humour, and they who naturally pair and are constant to each other, lose their kind of conjugal Alliance and Affection; yet when releas’d from human Servitude, and return’d again to their natural Wilds, and rural Liberty, they instantly resume their natural and regular Habits, such as are conducing to the Increase and Prosperity of their own Species.
Well it is perhaps for Mankind, that tho there are so many Animals who naturally herd for Company’s sake, and mutual Affection, there are so few who for Conveniency, and by Necessity are oblig’d to a strict Union, and kind of confederate State. The Creatures who, according to the OEconomy of their Kind, are oblig’d to make themselves Habitations of Defense against the Seasons and other Incidents; they who in some parts of the Year are depriv’d of all Subsistence, and are therefore necessitated to accumulate in another, and to provide withal for the Safety of their collected Stores, are by their Nature indeed as strictly join’d, and with as proper Affections towards their Publick and Community, as the looser Kind, of a more easy Subsistence and Support, are united in what relates merely to their Offspring, and the Propagation of their Species. Of these thorowly associating and confederate-Animals, there are none I have ever heard of, who in Bulk or Strength exceed theBeaver. The major part of these political Animals, and Creatures of a joint Stock, are as inconsiderable as the Race of Ants or Bees. But had Nature assign’d such an OEconomy as this to so puissant an Animal, for instance, as theElephant, and made him withal as prolifick as those smaller Creatures commonly are; it might have gone hard perhaps with Mankind: And a single Animal, who by his proper Might and Prowess has often decided the Fate of the greatest Battels which have been fought by Human Race, shou’d he have grown up into a Society, with a Genius for Architecture and Mechanicks proportionable to what we observe in those smaller Creatures; we shou’d, with all our invented Machines, have found it hard to dispute with him the Dominion of the Continent.
Were we in a disinterested View, or with somewhat less Selfishness than ordinary, to consider the OEconomys, Parts, Interests, Conditions, and Terms of Life, which Nature has distributed and assign’d to the several Species of Creatures round us, we shou’d not be apt to think our-selves so hardly dealt with. But Whether our Lot in this respect be just, or equal, is not the Question with us, at present. ’Tis enough that we know “There is certainly an Assignment and Distribution: That each OEconomy or Part so distributed, is in it-self uniform, fix’d, and invariable: and That if any thing in the Creature be accidentally impair’d; if any thing in the inward Form, the Disposition, Temper or Affections, be contrary or unsutable to the distinct OEconomy or Part, the Creature is wretched and unnatural.”
The social or natural Affections, which our Author considers as essential to the Health, Wholeness, or Integrity of the particular Creature, are such as contribute to the Welfare and Prosperity of that Whole or Species, to which he is by Nature join’d. All the Affections of this kind our Author comprehends in that single name of natural. But as the Design or End of Nature in each Animal-System, is exhibited chiefly in the Support and Propagation of the particular Species; it happens, of consequence, that those Affections of earliest Alliance and mutual Kindness between the Parent and the Offspring, are known more particularly by the name of *natural Affection. However, since it is evident that all Defect or Depravity of Affection, which counterworks or opposes the original Constitution and OEconomy of the Creature, is unnatural; it follows, “That in Creatures who by their particular OEconomy are fitted to the strictest Society and Rule of common Good, the most unnatural of all Affections are those which separate from this Community; and the mosttruly natural, generous and noble, are those which tend towards Publick Service, and the Interest of theSocietyat large.”
This is the main Problem which our Author in more philosophical Terms demonstrates, * in this Treatise, “That for a Creature whose natural End is Society, to operate as is by Nature appointed him towards the Good of such hisSociety,orWhole, is in reality to pursue his own natural and properGood.” And “That to operate contrary-wise, or by such Affections as sever from that common Good, or publick Interest, is, in reality, to work towards his own natural and properIll.” Now if Man, as has been prov’d, be justly rank’d in the number of those Creatures whose OEconomy is according to a joint-Stock and publick-Weal; if it be understood, withal, that the only State of his Affections which answers rightly to this publick-Weal, is the regular, orderly, or virtuous State; it necessarily follows, “That Virtue is his natural Good, and Vice his Misery and Ill.”
As for that further Consideration, “Whether Nature has orderly and justly distributed the several OEconomys or Parts; and Whether the Defects, Failures, or Calamitys of particular Systems are to the advantage of all in general, and contribute to the Perfection of the one common and universal System”; we must refer to our Author’s profounder Speculations in this his Inquiry, and in his following PhilosophickDialogue. But if what he advances in this respect be real, or at least the most probable by far of any Scheme or Representation which can be made of the Universal Nature and Cause of things; it will follow, “That since Man has been so constituted, by means of his rational Part, as to be conscious of this his more immediate Relation to the Universal System, and Principle of Order and Intelligence; he is not only by Nature sociable, within the Limits of his own Species, or Kind; but in a yet more generous and extensive manner. He is not only born toVirtue,Friendship, Honesty, and Faith; but to Religion,Piety, Adoration, and * a generous Surrender of his Mind to whatever happens from that SupremeCause, or Order of Things, which he acknowledges intirely just, and perfect.”
THESE ARE our Author’s formal and grave Sentiments; which if they were not truly his, and sincerely espous’d by him, as the real Result of his best Judgment and Understanding, he wou’d be guilty of a more than common degree of imposture. For, according to his own † Rule, an affected Gravity, and feign’d Seriousness carry’d on, thro’ any Subject, in such a manner as to leave no Insight into the Fiction or intended Raillery; is in truth no Raillery, or Wit, at all; but a gross, immoral, and illiberal way of Abuse, foreign to the Character of a good Writer, a Gentleman, or Man ofWorth.
But since we have thus acquitted our-selves of that serious Part, of which our Reader was before-hand well appriz’d; let him now expect us again in our original Miscellaneous Manner and Capacity. ’Tis here, as has been explain’d to him, that Raillery and Humour are permitted: and Flights, Sallys, and Excursions of every kind are found agreeable and requisite. Without this, there might be less Safety found, perhaps, in Thinking. Every light Reflection might run us up to the dangerous State of Meditation. And in reality, profound Thinking is many times the Cause of shallow Thought. To prevent this contemplative Habit and Character, of which we see so little good effect in the World, we have reason perhaps to be fond of the diverting Manner in Writing, and Discourse, especially if the Subject be of a solemn kind. There is more need, in this case, to interrupt the long-spun Thred of Reasoning, and bring into the Mind, by many different Glances and broken Views, what cannot so easily be introduc’d by one steddy Bent, or continu’d Stretch of Sight.
Chap. 1.CHAPTER I
Ceremonial adjusted, betweenAuthorandReader.—Affectation of Precedency in the former.—Various Claim to Inspiration.—Bards; Prophets: Sibylline Scripture.—Written Oracles; in Verse and Prose.—Common Interest of antient Letters, and Christianity.—State of Wit, Elegance, and Correctness.—Poetick Truth.—Preparation for Criticism on our Author, in his concluding Treatise.
OF all the artificial Relations, form’d between Mankind, the most capricious and variable is that of Author and Reader. Our Author, for his part, has declar’d his Opinion of this, where * he gives his Advice to modern Authors. And tho he supposes that every Author in Form, is, in respect of the particular matter he explains, superior in Understanding to his Reader; yet he allows not that any Author shou’d assume the upper hand, or pretend to withdraw himself from that necessary Subjection to foreign Judgment and Criticism, which must determine the Place of Honour on the Reader’s side.
’Tis evident that an Author’s Art and Labour are for his Reader’s sake alone. ’Tis to his Reader he makes his application, if not openly and avowedly, yet, at least, with implicit Courtship. Poets indeed, and especially those of a modern kind, have a peculiar manner of treating this Affair with a high hand. They pretend to set themselves above Mankind. “Their Pens are sacred: Their Style and Utterance divine.” They write, often, as in a Language foreign to human Kind; and wou’d disdain to be reminded of those poor Elements of Speech, their Alphabet and Grammar.
But here inferior Mortals presume often to intercept their Flight, and remind them of their fallible and human part. Had those first Poets who began this Pretence to Inspiration, been taught a manner of communicating their rapturous Thoughts and high Ideas by some other Medium than that of Style and Language; the Case might have stood otherwise. But the inspiringDivinity or Muse having, in the Explanation of her-self, submitted her Wit and Sense to the mechanick Rules of human arbitrary Composition; she must, in consequence, and by necessity, submit her-self to human Arbitration, and the Judgment of the literate World. And thus the Reader is still superior, and keeps the upper hand.
’Tis indeed no small Absurdity, to assert a Work or Treatise, written in human Language, to be above human Criticism, or Censure. For if the Art of Writing be from the grammatical Rules of human Invention and Determination; if even these Rules are form’d on casual Practice and various Use: there can be no Scripture but what must of necessity be subject to the Reader’s narrow Scrutiny and strict Judgment; unless a Language and Grammar, different from any of human Structure, were deliver’d down from Heaven, and miraculously accommodated to human Service and Capacity.
’Tis no otherwise in the grammatical Art of Characters, and painted Speech, than in the Art of Painting it-self. I have seen, in certain Christian Churches, an antient Piece or two, affirm’d, on the solemn Faith of Priestly Tradition, “to have been Angelically and Divinely wrought, by a supernatural Hand, and sacred Pencil.” Had the Piece happen’d to be of a Hand like Raphael’s, I cou’d have found nothing certain to oppose to this Tradition. But having observ’d the whole Style and Manner of the pretended heavenly Workmanship to be so indifferent as to vary in many Particulars from the Truth of Art, I presum’d within my-self to beg pardon of the Tradition, and assert confidently, “That if the Pencil had been Heaven-guided, it cou’d never have been so lame in its performance”: It being a mere contradiction to all Divine and Moral Truth, that a Celestial Hand, submitting it-self to the Rudiments of a human Art, shou’d sin against theArtit-self, and express Falshood and Error, instead of Justness and Proportion.
It may be alledg’d perhaps, “That there are, however, certain Authors in the World, who tho, of themselves, they neither boldly claim the Privilege of Divine Inspiration, nor carry indeed the least resemblance of Perfection in their Style or Composition; yet they subdue theReader, gain the ascendent over his Thought and Judgment, and force from him a certain implicit Veneration and Esteem.” To this I can only answer, “That if there be neither Spell nor Inchantment in the Case; this can plainly be no other than mere Enthusiasm”; except, perhaps, where the supreme Powers have given their Sanction to any religious Record, or pious Writ: And in this Case, indeed, it becomes immoral and profane in any one, to deny absolutely, or dispute the sacred Authority of the least Line or Syllable contain’d in it. But shou’d the Record, instead of being single, short and uniform, appear to be multifarious, voluminous, and of the most difficult Interpretation; it wou’d be somewhat hard, if not wholly impracticable in the Magistrate, to suffer this Record to be universally current, and at the same time prevent its being variously apprehended and descanted on, by the several differing Genius’s and contrary Judgments of Mankind.
’Tis remarkable, that in the politest of all Nations, the Writings look’d upon as most sacred, were those of their great Poets; whose Works indeed were truly divine, in respect of Art, and the Perfection of their Frame and Composition. But there was yet more *Divinity ascrib’d to them, than what is comprehended in this latter Sense. The Notions of vulgar Religion were built on their miraculous Narrations. The wiser and better sort themselves paid a regard to them in this respect; tho they interpreted them indeed more allegorically. Even the Philosophers who criticiz’d ’em with most Severity, were not their least Admirers; when they * ascrib’d to ’em that divine Inspiration, or sublimeEnthusiasm, of which our Author has largely treated † elsewhere.
It wou’d, indeed, ill become any Pretender to Divine Writing, to publish his Work under a Character of Divinity; if, after all his Endeavours, he came short of a consummate and just Performance. In this respect the CumeanSibyl was not so indiscreet or frantick, as she might appear, perhaps, by writing her Prophetick Warnings and pretended Inspirations upon Joint-Leaves; which, immediately after their elaborate Superscription, were torn in pieces, and scatter’d by the Wind.
‡ You will see an inspired prophetess, who chants destiny at the foot of her rock and entrusts her marks and words to leaves. Whatever lines the maid has written on the leaves, she sorts into order and shuts them within her cave. There they remain unmoved nor shift from their order. Yet when the hinge turns and a breath of wind has stirred them, and the door has disordered the light leaves, never thereafter does she trouble to capture them as they flutter in her cavern or to restore their order or join the leaves. Away men go without advice and hate the Sibyl’s home.
’Twas impossible to disprove the Divinity of such Writings, whilst they cou’d be perus’d only in Fragments. Had the Sister-Priestess of Delphos, who deliver’d her-self in audible plain Metre, been found at any time to have transgress’d the Rule of Verse, it wou’d have been difficult in those days to father the lame Poetry upon Apollo himself. But where the Invention of the Leaves prevented the reading of a single Line intire; whatever Interpretations might have been made of this fragil and volatil Scripture, no Imperfection cou’d be charg’d on the OriginalText it-self.
What those * Volumes may have been, which the disdainful Sibyl or Prophetess committed to the Flames; or what the remainder was, which the Roman Prince receiv’d and consecrated; I will not pretend to judg: Tho it has been admitted for Truth by the antient Christian Fathers, That these Writings were so far sacred and divine, as to have prophesy’d of the Birth of our religious Founder, and bore testimony to that holy Writ which has preserv’d his Memory, and is justly held, in the highest degree, sacred among Christians.
The Policy however of OldRome was such, as not absolutely to rest the Authority of their Religion on any Composition of Literature. The SibyllineVolumes were kept safely lock’d, and inspected only by such as were ordain’d, or deputed for that purpose. And in this Policy the NewRome has follow’d their Example; in scrupling to annex the supreme Authority and sacred Character of Infallibility toScriptureit-self; and in refusing to submit that Scripture to publick Judgment, or to any Eye or Ear but what they qualify for the Inspection of such sacred Mysterys.
The Mahometan Clergy seem to have a different Policy. They boldly rest the Foundation of their Religion on a Book: Such a one as (according to their Pretension) is not only perfect, but inimitable. Were a real Man of Letters, and a just Critick permitted to examine this Scripture by the known Rules of Art; he wou’d soon perhaps refute this Plea. But so barbarous is the accompanying Policy and Temper of these Eastern Religionists, that they discourage, and in effect extinguish all true Learning, Science, and the politer Arts, in company with the antient Authors and Languages, which they set aside; and by this infallible Method, leave their Sacred Writthe sole Standard of literate Performance. For being compar’d to nothing besides it-self, or what is of an inferior kind, it must undoubtedly be thought incomparable.
’Twill be yielded, surely, to the Honour of the Christian World, that theirFaith (especially that of the Protestant Churches) stands on a more generous Foundation. They not only allow Comparison of Authors, but are content to derive their Proofs of the Validity of their sacred Record and Revelation, even from those Authors call’d Profane; as being well appriz’d, according to the Maxim of * our Divine Master, “That in what we bear witness only to our-selves, our Witness cannot be establish’d as a Truth.” So that there being at present no immediate Testimony of Miracle or Sign in behalf of holy Writ; and there being in its own particular Composition or Style nothing miraculous, or self-convincing; if the collateral Testimony of other antient Records, Historians, and foreign Authors, were destroy’d, or wholly lost; there wou’d be less Argument or Plea remaining against that natural Suspicion of those who are call’d Sceptical, “That the holy Records them-selves were no other than the pure Invention or artificial Compilement of an interested Party, in behalf of the richest Corporation and most profitable Monopoly which cou’d be erected in the World.”
Thus, in reality, the Interest of our pious Clergy is necessarily join’d with that of antient Letters, and polite Learning. By this they perpetually refute the crafty Arguments of those Objectors. When they abandon this; they resign their Cause. When they strike at it; they strike even at the Root and Foundation of our holy Faith, and weaken that Pillar on which the whole Fabrick of our Religion depends.
It belongs to mere Enthusiasts and Fanaticks to plead the Sufficiency of a reiterate translated Text, deriv’d to ’em thro’ so many Channels, and subjected to so many Variations, of which they are wholly ignorant. Yet wou’d they persuade us, it seems, that from hence alone they can recognize the Divine Spirit, and receive it in themselves, un-subject (as they imagine) to any Rule, and superior to what they themselves often call the dead Letter, and unprofitable Science.—This, any one may see, is building Castles in the Air, and demolishing them again at pleasure; as the exercise of an aerial Fancy, or heated Imagination.
But the judicious Divines of the establish’d Christian Churches, have sufficiently condemn’d this Manner. They are far from resting their Religion on the common Aspect, or obvious Form of their vulgarBible, as it presents it-self in the printed Copy, or modern Version. Neither do they in the Original it-self represent it to us as a very Master-piece of Writing, or as absolutely perfect in the Purity and Justness either of Style, or Composition. They allow the Holy Authors to have written according to their best Facultys, and the Strength of their natural Genius: “A Shepherd like a Shepherd; and a Prince like a Prince: A Man of reading, and advanc’d in Letters, like a Proficient in the kind; and a Man of meaner Capacity and Reading, like one of the ordinary sort, in his own common Idiom, and imperfect manner of Narration.”
’Tis the Substance only of the Narrative, and the principal Facts confirming the Authority of the Revelation, which our Divines think themselves concern’d to prove, according to the best Evidence of which the Matter it-self is capable. And whilst the Sacred Authors themselves allude not only to the Annals and Historys of the HeathenWorld, but even to the philosophical Works, the regular *Poems, the very Plays and †Comedys of the learned and polite Antients; it must be own’d, that as those antient Writings are impair’d, or lost, not only the Light and Clearness of holy Writ, but even the Evidence it-self of its main Facts, must in proportion be diminish’d and brought in question. So ill advis’d were * those devout Churchmen heretofore, who in the height of Zeal did their utmost to destroy all Footsteps of Heathen Literature, and consequently all further use of Learning or Antiquity.
But happily the Zeal of this kind is now left as proper only to those despis’d and ignorant modern Enthusiasts we have describ’d. The RomanChurch it-self is so recover’d from this primitive Fanaticism, that their Great Men, and even their *Pontiffs, are found ready to give their helping Hand, and confer their Bounty liberally towards the advancement of all antient and polite Learning. They justly observe, that their very Traditions stand in need of some collateral Proof. The Conservation of these other antient and disinterested Authors, they wisely judg essential to the Credibility of those principal Facts, on which the whole religious History and Tradition depend.
’Twou’d indeed be in vain for us, to bring a Pontius Pilate into our Creed, and recite what happen’d under him, in Judea, if we knew not, “Under whom he himself govern’d, whose Authority he had, or what Character he bore, in that remote Country, and amidst a foreign People.” In the same manner, ’twou’d be in vain for a RomanPontiff to derive his Title to spiritual Sovereignty from the Seat, Influence, Power, and Donation of the RomanCaesars, and their Successors; if it appear’d not by any History, or collateral Testimony, “Who the first Caesars were; and how they came possess’d of that universal Power, and long Residence of Dominion.”
MY READER doubtless, by this time, must begin to wonder thro’ what Labyrinth of Speculation, and odd Texture of capricious Reflections, I am offering to conduct him. But he will not, I presume, be altogether displeas’d with me, when I give him to understand, that being now come into my last Miscellany, and being sensible of the little Courtship I have paid him, comparatively with what is practis’d in that kind by other modern Authors; I am willing, by way of Compensation, to express my Loyalty or Homage towards him, and shew, by my natural Sentiments, and Principles, “What particular Deference and high Respect I think to be his Due.”
The Issue therefore of this long Deduction is, in the first place, with due Compliments, in my Capacity of Author, and in the name of all modest Work-men willingly joining with me in this Representation, to congratulate our EnglishReader on the Establishment of what is so advantageous to himself; I mean, that mutual Relation between him and our-selves, which naturally turns so much to his Advantage, and makes us to be in reality the subservient Party. And in this respect ’tis to be hop’d he will long enjoy his just Superiority and Privilege over his humble Servants, who compose and labour for his sake. The Relation in all likelihood must still continue, and be improv’d. Our common Religion and Christianity, founded on Letters and Scripture, promises thus much. Nor is this Hope likely to fail us, whilst Readers are really allow’d the Liberty to read; that is to say, to examine, construe, and remark with Understanding.Learning and Science must of necessity flourish, whilst the Language of the wisest and most learned of Nations is acknowledg’d to contain the principal and essential part of our holy Revelation. And Criticism,Examinations, Judgments, literate Labours and Inquirys must still be in Repute and Practice; whilst Antient Authors, so necessary to the Support of the Sacred Volumes, are in request, and afford Imployment of such infinite Extent to us Moderns of whatever degree, who are desirous to signalize our-selves by any Atchievement in Letters, and be consider’d as the Investigators of Knowledg and Politeness.
I may undoubtedly, by virtue of my preceding Argument in behalf of Criticism, be allow’d, without suspicion of Flattery or mere Courtship, to assert the Reader’s Privilege above the Author; and assign to him, as I have done, the upper Hand, and Place of Honour. As to Fact, we know for certain, that the greatest of Philosophers, the very Founder of Philosophy it-self, was no Author. Nor did the Divine Author, and Founder of our Religion, condescend to be an Author in this other respect. He who cou’d best have given us the History of his own Life, with the intire Sermons and divine Discourses which he made in publick, was pleas’d to leave itto others,* “To take in hand”: As there were many, it seems, long afterwards, who did; and undertook accordingly “to write in order, and as seem’d good to them, for the better Information of particular Persons, what was then believ’d among the Initiated or Catechiz’d, from Tradition, and early Instruction in their Youth; or what had been transmitted, by Report, from such as were the presum’d Auditors, and Eye-witnesses of those things in former time.”
Whether those sacred Books ascrib’d to the Divine Legislator of the Jews, and which treat of his * Death, Burial, and Succession, as well as of his Life and Actions, are strictly to be understood as coming from the immediate Pen of that holy Founder, or rather from some other inspir’d Hand, guided by the same influencing Spirit; I will not presume so much as to examine or enquire. But in general we find, That both as to publick Concerns, in Religion, and in Philosophy, the great and eminent Actors were of a Rank superior to the Writing-Worthys. The great Athenian Legislator, tho noted as a poetical Genius, cannot be esteem’d an Author, for the sake of some few Verses he may occasionally have made. Nor was the great SpartanFounder, a Poet himself, tho Author or Redeemer (if I may so express it) to the greatest and best of Poets; who ow’d in a manner his Form and Being to the accurate Searches and Collections of that greatPatron. The Politicians and civilSages, who were fitted in all respects for the great Scene of Business, cou’d not, it seems, be well taken out of it, to attend the slender and minute Affairs of Letters, and Scholastick Science.
’Tis true, indeed, that without a Capacity for Action, and a Knowledg of the World and Mankind, there can be no Author naturally qualify’d to write with Dignity, or execute any noble or great Design. But there are many, who with the highest Capacity for Business, are by their Fortune deny’d the Privilege of that higher Sphere. As there are others, who having once mov’d in it, have been afterwards, by many Impediments and Obstructions, necessitated to retire, and exert their Genius in this lower degree.
’Tis to some Catastrophe of this kind that we owe the noblest Historians (even the two Princes and Fathers of History) as well as the greatest Philosophical Writers, the Founder of the Academy, and others, who were also noble in respect of their Birth, and fitted for the highest Stations in the Publick; but discourag’d from engaging in it, on account of some Misfortunes, experienc’d either in their own Persons, or that of their near Friends.
’Tis to the early Banishment and long Retirement of a heroick Youth out of his native Country, that we owe an original System of Works, the politest, wisest, usefullest, and (to those who can understand the Divineness of a just Simplicity) the most *amiable, and even the most elevating and exalting of all un-inspir’d and merely human Authors.
To this Fortune we owe some of the greatest of the antient Poets. ’Twas this Chance which produc’d the Muse of an exalted Grecian†Lyrick, and of his Follower ‡Horace; whose Character, tho easy to be gather’d from History, and his own Works, is little observ’d by any of his Commentators: The general Idea, conceiv’d of him, being drawn chiefly from his precarious and low Circumstances at Court, after the forfeiture of his Estate, under the Usurpation and Conquest of an Octavius, and the Ministry of a Maecenas; not from his better Condition, and nobler Employments in earlier days, under the Favour and Friendship of greater and better Men, whilst the Roman State and Liberty subsisted. For of this Change he himself, as great a Courtier as he seem’d afterwards, gives sufficient ** Intimation.
Let Authors therefore know them-selves; and tho conscious of Worth, Virtue, and a Genius, such as may justly place them above Flattery or mean Courtship to their Reader; yet let them reflect, that as Authors merely, they are but of the second Rank of Men. And let theReader withal consider, “That when he unworthily resigns the place of Honour, and surrenders his Taste, or Judgment, to an Author of ever so great a Name, or venerable Antiquity, and not to Reason, and Truth, at whatever hazard; he not only betrays himself, but withal the common Cause of Author and Reader, the Interest of Letters and Knowledg, and the chief Liberty, Privilege, and Prerogative of the rational part of Mankind.”
’Tis related in History of the Cappadocians, That being offer’d their Liberty by the Romans, and permitted to govern themselves by their own Laws and Constitutions, they were much terrify’d at the Proposal; and as if some sore harm had been intended ’em, humbly made it their Request, “That they might be govern’d by arbitrary Power, and that an absolute Governour might without delay be appointed over ’em at the discretion of the Romans.” For such was their Disposition towards mere Slavery and Subjection; that they dar’d not pretend so much as to chuse their own Master. So essential they thought Slavery, and so divine a thing the Right ofMastership, that they dar’d not be so free even as to presume to give themselves that Blessing, which they chose to leave rather to Providence, Fortune, or a Conqueror, to bestow upon them. They dar’d not make a King; but wou’d rather take one from their powerful Neighbours. Had they been necessitated to come to an Election, the Horror of such a Use of Liberty in Government, wou’d perhaps have determin’d ’em to chuse blindfold, or leave it to the Decision of the commonest Lot, Cast of Dye, Cross or Pile, or whatever it were which might best enable them to clear themselves of the heinous Charge of using the least Foresight, Choice, or Prudence in such an Affair.
I shou’d think it a great Misfortune, were my Reader of the number of those, who in a kind of Cappadocian Spirit, cou’d easily be terrify’d with the Proposal of giving him his Liberty, and making him his own Judg. My Endeavour, I must confess, has been to shew him his just Prerogative in this respect, and to give him the sharpest Eye over his Author, invite him to criticize honestly, without favour or affection, and with the utmost Bent of his Parts and Judgment. On this account it may be objected to me, perhaps, “That I am not a little vain and presumptuous, in my own as well as in my Author’s behalf, who can thus, as it were, challenge my Reader to a Trial of his keenest Wit.”
But to this I answer, That shou’d I have the good fortune to raise the masterly Spirit of justCriticism in my Readers, and exalt them ever so little above the lazy, timorous, over-modest, or resign’d State, in which the generality of them remain; tho by this very Spirit, I my-self might possibly meet my Doom: I shou’d however abundantly congratulate with my-self on these my low Flights, be proud of having plum’d the Arrows of better Wits, and furnish’d Artillery, or Ammunition of any kind, to those Powers, to which I my-self had fall’n a Victim.
* I will play the part of a whetstone.
I cou’d reconcile my Ambition in this respect to what I call my Loyalty to theReader; and say of his Elevation in Criticism and Judgment, what a Roman Princess said of her Son’s Advancement to Empire, * “Let him kill me, so long as he comes to the throne.”
Had I been a SpanishCervantes, and with success equal to that comick Author, had destroy’d the reigning Taste of Gothick or MoorishChivalry, I cou’d afterwards contentedly have seen my Burlesque-Work it-self despis’d, and set aside; when it had wrought its intended effect, and destroy’d those Giants and Monsters of the Brain, against which it was originally design’d. Without regard, therefore, to the prevailing Relish or Taste which, in my own Person, I may unhappily experience, when these my Miscellaneous Works are leisurely examin’d; I shall proceed still in my Endeavour to refine my Reader’sPalate;whetting and sharpening it, the best I can, for Use, and Practice, in the lower Subjects: that by this Exercise it may acquire the greater Keenness, and be of so much the better effect in Subjects of a higher kind, which relate to his chief Happiness, his Liberty and Manhood.
SUPPOSING me therefore a mere comick Humourist, in respect of those inferior Subjects, which after the manner of my familiar Prose-Satir I presume to criticize; May not I be allow’d to ask, “Whether there remains not still among us noble Britons, something of that original Barbarous and Gothick Relish, not wholly purg’d away; when, even at this hour, Romances and Gallantrys of like sort, together with Works as monstrous of other kinds, are current, and in vogue, even with the People who constitute our reputed polite World?” Need I on this account refer again to our † Author, where he treats in general of the Style and Manner of our modern Authors, from the Divine to the Comedian? What Person is there of the least Judgment or Understanding, who cannot easily, and without the help of a Divine, or rigid Moralist, observe the lame Condition of our EnglishStage; which nevertheless is found the Rendevouz and chief Entertainment of our best Company, and from whence in all probability our Youth will continue to draw their Notion of Manners, and their Taste of Life, more directly and naturally, than from the Rehearsals and Declamations of a graverTheater?
Let those whose business it is, advance, as they best can, the Benefit of that sacred Oratory, which we have lately seen and are still like to see employ’d to various purposes, and further designs than that of instructing us in Religion or Manners. Let ’em in that high Scene endeavour to refine our Taste and Judgment in sacred Matters. ’Tis the good Critick’s Task to amend our commonStage; nor ought this Dramatick Performance to be decry’d or sentenc’d by those Criticks of a higher Sphere. The Practice and Art is honest, in it-self. Our Foundations are well laid. And in the main, our EnglishStage (as * has been remark’d) is capable of the highest Improvement; as well from the present Genius of our Nation, as from the rich Oar of our early Poets in this kind. But Faults are easier imitated than Beautys.
We find, indeed, our Theater become of late the Subject of a growing Criticism. We hear it openly complain’d, “That in our newer Plays as well as in our older, in Comedy as well as Tragedy, the Stage presents a proper Scene of Uproar;—Duels fought; Swords drawn, many of a side; Wounds given, and sometimes dress’d too; the Surgeon call’d, and the Patient prob’d and tented upon the Spot. That in our Tragedy, nothing is so common as Wheels, Racks, and Gibbets properly adorn’d; Executions decently perform’d; Headless Bodys and Bodiless Heads, expos’d to view: Battels fought: Murders committed: and the Dead carry’d off in great Numbers.”—Such is our Politeness!
Nor are these Plays, on this account, the less frequented by either of the Sexes: Which inclines me to favour the Conceit our † Author has suggested concerning the mutual Correspondence and Relation between our RoyalTheater, and PopularCircus or Bear-Garden. For in the former of these Assemblys, ’tis undeniable that at least the two upper Regions or Gallerys contain such Spectators, as indifferently frequent each Place of Sport. So that ’tis no wonder we hear such Applause resounded on the Victorys of an Almanzor; when the same Partys had possibly, no later than the Day before, bestow’d their Applause as freely on the victorious Butcher, the Hero of another Stage: where amidst various Frays, bestial and human Blood, promiscuous Wounds and Slaughter; one Sex are observ’d as frequent and as pleas’d Spectators as the other, and sometimes not Spectators only, but Actors in the Gladiatorian Parts.—These Congregations, which we may be apt to call Heathenish,* (tho in reality never known among the politer Heathens) are, in our Christian Nation, unconcernedly allow’d and tolerated, as no way injurious to religious Interests; whatever effect they may be found to have on national Manners, Humanity, and Civil Life. Of such Indulgencys as these, we hear no Complaints. Nor are any Assemblys, tho of the most barbarous and enormous kind, so offensive, it seems, to Men of Zeal, as religious Assemblys of a different Fashion or Habit from their own.
I am sorry to say, that, tho in the many parts of Poetry our Attempts have been high and noble, yet in general theTaste of Wit and Letters lies much upon a level with what relates to our Stage.
I can readily allow to our BritishGenius what was allow’d to the Roman heretofore:
† By nature full of elevation and passion; for he has tragic inspiration enough and happy boldness.
But then I must add too, that the excessive Indulgence and Favour shown to our Authors on account of what their mere Genius and flowing Vein afford, has render’d them intolerably supine, conceited, and Admirers of themselves. The Publick having once suffer’d ’em to take the ascendent, they become, like flatter’d Princes, impatient of Contradiction or Advice. They think it a disgrace to be criticiz’d, even by a Friend; or to reform, at his desire, what they them-selves are fully convinc’d is negligent, and uncorrect.
The †Limae Labor is the great Grievance, with our Country-men. An EnglishAuthor wou’d be allGenius. He wou’d reap the Fruits of Art; but without Study, Pains, or Application. He thinks it necessary, indeed, (lest his Learning shou’d be call’d in question) to show the World that he errs knowingly against the Rules of Art. And for this reason, whatever Piece he publishes at any time, he seldom fails, in some prefix’d Apology, to speak in such a manner of Criticism and Art, as may confound the ordinary Reader, and prevent him from taking up a Part, which, shou’d he once assume, wou’d prove fatal to the impotent and mean Performance.
’Twere to be wish’d, that when once our Authors had consider’d of a Model or Plan, and attain’d the Knowledg of a ‡Whole and Parts; when from this beginning they had proceeded to Morals, and the Knowledg of what is call’d *Poetick Manners, and Truth; when they had learnt to reject false Thought, embarassing and mix’d Metaphors, the ridiculous Paint in Comedy, and the false Sublime, and Bombast in Heroick; they wou’d at last have some regard to Numbers, Harmony, and an*Ear; and correct, as far as possible, the harsh Sounds of our Language, in Poetry at least, if not in Prose.
But so much are our British Poets taken up, in seeking out that monstrous Ornament which we call †Rhyme, that ’tis no wonder if other Ornaments, and real Graces are unthought of, and left un-attempted. However, since in some Parts of Poetry, especially in the Dramatick, we have been so happy as to triumph over this barbarous Taste; ’tis unaccountable that our Poets, who from this Privilege ought to undertake some further Refinements, shou’d remain still upon the same level as before. ’Tis a shame to our Authors, that in their elegant Style and metred Prose there shou’d not be found a peculiar Grace and Harmony, resulting from a more natural and easy Disengagement of their Periods, and from a careful avoiding the Encounter of the shocking Consonants and jarring Sounds to which our Language is so unfortunately subject.
They have of late, ’tis true, reform’d in some measure the gouty Joints and Darning-work of Whereunto’s, Whereby’s, Thereof’s, Therewith’s, and the rest of this kind; by which, complicated Periods are so curiously strung, or hook’d on, one to another, after the long-spun manner of the Bar, or Pulpit. But to take into consideration no real Accent, or Cadency of Words, no Sound or Measure of Syllables; to put together, at one time, a Set of Compounds, of the longest Greek or Latin Termination; and at another, to let whole Verses, and those too of our heroick and longest sort, pass currently in Monosyllables; is, methinks, no slender Negligence. If single Verses at the head, or in the most emphatical places, of the most considerable Works, can admit of such a Structure, and pass for truly harmonious and poetical in this negligent form; I see no reason why more Verses than one or two, of the same formation, shou’d not be as well admitted; or why an un-interrupted Succession of these well-strung Monosyllables might not be allow’d to clatter after one another, like the Hammers of a Paper-Mill, without any breach of Musick, or prejudice to the Harmony of our Language. But if Persons who have gone no farther than a Smith’s Anvil to gain an Ear, are yet likely, on fair trial, to find a plain defect in these Ten-Monosyllable Heroicks; it wou’d follow, methinks, that even a Prose-Author, who attempts to write politely, shou’d endeavour to confine himself within those Bounds, which can never, without breach of Harmony, be exceeded in any just Metre, or agreeable Pronunciation.
THUS HAVE I ventur’d to arraign the Authority of those self-privileg’d Writers, who wou’d exempt themselves from Criticism, and save their ill-acquir’d Reputation, by the Decrial of an Art, on which the Cause and Interest of Wit and Letters absolutely depend. Be it they themselves, or their great Patrons in their behalf, who wou’d thus arbitrarily support the Credit of ill Writings; the Attempt, I hope, will prove unsuccessful. Be they Moderns or Antients, Foreigners or Natives, ponderous and austere Writers, or airy and of the humorous kind: Whoever takes refuge here, or seeks Protection hence; whoever joins his Party or Interest to this Cause; it appears from the very Fact and Endeavour alone, that there is just ground to suspect some Insufficiency or Imposture at the bottom. And on this account the Reader, if he be wise, will the rather redouble his Application and Industry, to examine the Merit of his assuming Author. If, as Reader, and Judg, he dares once assert that Liberty to which we have shewn him justly intitled; he will not easily be threaten’d or ridicul’d out of the use of his examining Capacity, and native Privilege of Criticism.
’Twas to this Art, so well understood and practis’d heretofore, that the wise Antients ow’d whatever was consummate and perfect in their Productions. ’Tis to the same Art we owe the Recovery of Letters in these latter Ages. To this alone we must ascribe the Recognition of antient Manuscripts, the Discovery of what is spurious, and the Discernment of whatever is genuine of those venerable Remains which have pass’d thro’ such dark Periods of Ignorance, and rais’d us to the Improvements we now make in every Science. ’Tis to this Art, that even the Sacred Authors themselves owe their highest Purity and Correctness. So sacred ought the Art it-self to be esteem’d; when from its Supplies alone is form’d that judicious and learned Strength, by which the Defenders of our Holy Religion are able so successfully to refute the Heathens, Jews, Sectarians, Hereticks, and other Enemys or Opposers of our primitive and antient Faith.
But having thus, after our Author’s example, asserted the Use of Criticism, in all literate Works, from the main Frame, or Plan of every Writing, down to the minutest Particle; we may now proceed to exercise this Art upon our Author himself, and by his own Rules examine him in this his last Treatise; reserving still to our-selves the same Privilege of Variation, and Excursion into other Subjects, the same Episodick Liberty, and Right of wandering, which we have maintain’d in the preceding Chapters.
Chap. 2.CHAPTER II
Generation and Succession of our national and modern Wit.—Manners of the Proprietors.—Corporation and Joint-Stock—Statute against Criticism. A Coffee-House Committee.—Mr.Bays.—OtherBays’s in Divinity.—Censure of our Author’s Dialogue-Piece; and of the Manner of Dialogue-Writing, us’d by Reverend Wits.
ACCORDING to the common Course of Practice in our Age, we seldom see the Character of Writer and that of Critick united in the same Person. There is, I know, a certain Species of Authors, who subsist wholly by the criticizing or commenting Practice upon others, and can appear in no other Form besides what this Employment authorizes them to assume. They have no original Character, or first Part; but wait for something which may be call’d a Work, in order to graft upon it, and come in, for Sharers, at second hand.
The Pen-men of this Capacity and Degree are, from their Function and Employment, distinguish’d by the Title of Answerers. For it happens in the World, that there are Readers of a Genius and Size just fitted to these answering Authors. These, if they teach ’em nothing else, will teach ’em, they think, to criticize. And tho the new practising Criticks are of a sort unlikely ever to understand any original Book or Writing; they can understand, or at least remember, and quote the subsequent Reflections, Flouts, and Jeers, which may accidentally be made on such a Piece. Where-ever a Gentleman of this sort happens, at any time, to be in company, you shall no sooner hear a new Book spoken of, than ’twill be ask’d, “Who has answer’d it?” or “When is there an Answer to come out?”—Now the Answer, as our Gentleman knows, must needs be newer than the Book. And the newer a thing is, the more fashionable still, and the genteeler the Subject of Discourse. For this the Bookseller knows how to fit our Gentleman to a nicety: For he has commonly an Answer ready bespoke, and perhaps finish’d, by the time his new Book comes abroad. And ’tis odds but our fashionable Gentleman, who takes both together, may read the latter first, and drop the other for good and all.
But of these answeringWits, and the manner of Rejoinders, and reiterate Replies, we have said what is sufficient * in a former Miscellany. We need only remark in general, “That ’tis necessary a writingCritick shou’d understand how to write. And tho every Writer is not bound to shew himself in the capacity of Critick, every writing Critick is bound to shew himself capable of being a Writer. For if he be apparently impotent in this latter kind, he is to be deny’d all Title or Character in the other.”
To censure merely what another Person writes; to twitch, snap, snub up, or banter; to torture Sentences and Phrases, turn a few Expressions into Ridicule, or write what is now-a-days call’d an Answer to any Piece, is not sufficient to constitute what is properly esteem’d a Writer, or Author, in due form. For this reason, tho there are many Answerers seen abroad, there are few or no Criticks or Satirists. But whatever may be the State of Controversy in our Religion, or politick Concerns; ’tis certain that in the mere literate World, Affairs are manag’d with a better Understanding between the principal Partys concern’d. The Writers or Authorsin possession have an easier time than any Ministry, or religious Party, which is uppermost. They have found a way, by decrying allCriticismin general, to get rid of their Dissenters, and prevent all Pretences to further Reformation in their State. TheCritick is made to appear distinct, and of another Species; wholly different from the Writer. None who have a Genius for Writing, and can perform with any Success, are presum’d so ill-natur’d or illiberal as to endeavour to signalize themselves in Criticism.
’Tis not difficult, however, to imagine why this practical Difference between Writer and Critick has been so generally establish’d amongst us, as to make the Provinces seem wholly distinct, and irreconcilable. The forwardWits, who without waiting their due time, or performing their requisite Studys, start up in the World as Authors, having with little Pains or Judgment, and by the strength of Fancy merely, acquir’d a Name with Mankind, can on no account afterwards submit to a Decrial or Disparagement of those raw Works, to which they ow’d their early Character and Distinction. Ill wou’d it fare with ’em, indeed, if on these tenacious Terms they shou’d venture upon Criticism, or offer to move that Spirit which wou’d infallibly give such Disturbance to their establish’d Title.
Now we may consider, That in our Nation, and especially in our present Age, whilst Wars, Debates, and publick Convulsions turn our Minds so wholly upon Business and Affairs; the better Genius’s being in a manner necessarily involv’d in the active Sphere, on which the general Eye of Mankind is so strongly fixt; there must remain in the Theatre of Wit a sufficient Vacancy of Place: and the quality of Actor upon that Stage must of consequence be very easily attainable, and at a low Price of Ingenuity or Understanding.
The Persons therefore who are in possession of the prime Parts in this deserted Theatre, being suffer’d to maintain their Ranks and Stations in full Ease, have naturally a good Agreement and Understanding with their Fellow-Wits. Being indebted to the Times for this Happiness, that with so little Industry or Capacity they have been able to serve the Nation with Wit, and supply the Place of real Dispensers and Ministers of the MusesTreasures; they must, necessarily, as they have any Love for themselves, or fatherly Affection for their Works, conspire with one another to preserve their common Interest of Indolence, and justify their Remisness, Uncorrectness, Insipidness, and downright Ignorance of all literate Art, or just poetick Beauty.
* Great is the unity of the effeminate.
For this reason you see ’em mutually courteous, and benevolent; gracious and obliging, beyond measure; complimenting one another interchangeably, at the head of their Works, in recommendatory Verses, or in separate Panegyricks, Essays, and Fragments of Poetry; such as in the Miscellaneous Collections (our yearly Retail of Wit) we see curiously compacted, and accommodated to the Relish of the World. Here the Tyrocinium of Genius’s is annually display’d. Here, if you think fit, you may make acquaintance with the young Offspring of Wits, as they come up gradually under the old; with due Courtship, and Homage, paid to those high Predecessors of Fame, in hope of being one day admitted, by turn, into the noble Order, and made Wits by Patent and Authority.
This is the young Fry which you may see busily surrounding the grown Poet, or chief Play-house-Author, at a Coffee-House. They are his Guards; ready to take up Arms for him; if by some presumptuous Critick he is at any time attack’d. They are indeed the very Shadows of their immediate Predecessor, and represent the same Features, with some small Alteration perhaps for the worse. They are sure to aim at nothing above or beyond their Master; and wou’d on no account give him the least Jealousy of their aspiring to any Degree or Order of writing above him. From hence that Harmony and reciprocal Esteem, which, on such a bottom as this, cannot fail of being perfectly well establish’d among our Poets: The Age, mean while, being after this manner hopefully provided, and secure of a constant and like Succession of meritorious Wits, in every kind!
If by chance a Man of Sense, un-appriz’d of the Authority of these high Powers, shou’d venture to accost the Gentlemen of this Fraternity, at some Coffee-house Committee, whilst they were taken up, in mutual Admiration, and the usual Praise of their national and co-temporary Wits; ’tis possible he might be treated with some Civility, whilst he inquir’d, for Satisfaction sake, into the Beautys of those particular Works so unanimously extoll’d. But shou’d he presume to ask, in general, “Why is our Epick or Dramatick, our Essay, or common Prose no better executed?” Or, “Why in particular does such or such a reputed Wit write so incorrectly, and with so little regard to Justness of Thought or Language?” The Answer wou’d presently be given, “That we Englishmen are not ty’d up to such rigid Rules as those of the antient Grecian, or modern French Criticks.”
“Be it so (Gentlemen!) ’Tis your good Pleasure. Nor ought any one to dispute it with you. You are Masters, no doubt, in your own Country. But (Gentlemen!) the Question here, is not What your Authority may be over your own Writers. You may have them of what Fashion or Size of Wit you please; and allow them to entertain you at the rate you think sufficient, and satisfactory. But can you, by your good Pleasure, or the Approbation of your highest Patrons, make that to be either Wit, or Sense, which wou’d otherwise have been Bombast and Contradiction? If your Poets are still * Mr. Bays’s, and your Prose-Authors Sir Rogers, without offering at a better Manner; must it follow that the Manner it-self is good, or the Wit genuine?—What say you (Gentlemen!) to this new Piece?—Let us examine these Lines which you call shining! This String of Sentences which you call clever! This Pile of Metaphors which you call sublime!—Are you unwilling (Gentlemen!) to stand the Test? Do you despise the Examination?
“Sir!—Since you are pleas’d to take this Liberty with us; May we presume to ask you a Question?” “O Gentlemen! as many as you please: I shall be highly honour’d.” “Why then (pray Sir!) inform us, Whether you have ever writ?” “Very often (Gentlemen!) especially on a Post-night.” “But have you writ (for instance, Sir!) a Play, a Song, an Essay, or a Paper, as, by way of Eminence, the current Pieces of our Weekly Wits are generally styl’d?” “Something of this kind I may perhaps (Gentlemen!) have attempted, tho without publishing my Work. But pray (Gentlemen!) what is my writing, or not writing to the question in hand?” “Only this, (Sir!) and you may fairly take our words for it: That, whenever you publish, you will find the Town against you. Your Piece will infallibly be condemn’d.” “So let it. But for what reason, Gentlemen? I am sure, you never saw the Piece.” “No, Sir. But you are a Critick. And we know by certain Experience, that, when a Critick writes according to Rule and Method, he is sure never to hit the English Taste. Did not Mr. R——, who criticiz’d our English Tragedy, write a sorry one of his own?” “If he did (Gentlemen!) ’twas his own fault, not to know his Genius better. But is his Criticism the less just on this account? If a Musician performs his Part well in the hardest Symphonys, he must necessarily know the Notes, and understand the Rules of Harmony and Musick. But must a Man, therefore, who has an Ear, and has study’d the Rules of Musick, of necessity have a Voice or Hand? Can no one possibly judg a Fiddle, but who is himself a Fiddler? Can no one judg a Picture, but who is himself a Layer of Colours?”—
Thus far our rational Gentleman perhaps might venture, before his Coffee-house Audience. Had I been at his Elbow to prompt him as a Friend, I shou’d hardly have thought fit to remind him of any thing further. On the contrary, I shou’d have rather taken him aside, to inform him of this Cabal, and establish’d Corporation of Wit; of their declar’d Aversion to Criticism, and of their known Laws and Statutes in that Case made and provided. I shou’d have told him, in short, that learned Arguments wou’d be mispent on such as these: And that he wou’d find little Success, tho he shou’d ever so plainly demonstrate to the Gentlemen of this Size of Wit and Understanding, “That the greatest Masters of Art, in every kind of Writing, were eminent in the critical Practice.” But that they really were so, witness, among the Antients, their greatest *Philosophers, whose critical Pieces lie intermixt with their profound philosophical Works, and other politer Tracts ornamentally writ, † for publick use. Witness in History and Rhetorick,Isocrates, Dionysius Halicarnasseus, Plutarch, and the corrupt Lucian himself; the only one perhaps of these Authors, whom our Gentlemen may, in some modern Translation, have look’d into, with any Curiosity or Delight. To these among the Romans we may add Cicero, Varro, Horace, Quintilian, Pliny, and many more.
Among the Moderns, a Boileau and a Corneille are sufficient Precedents in the Case before us. They apply’d their Criticism with just Severity, even to their own Works. This indeed is a Manner hardly practicable with the Poets of our own Nation. It wou’d be unreasonable to expect of ’em that they shou’d bring such Measures in use, as being apply’d to their Works, wou’d discover ’em to be wholly deform’d and disproportionable. ’Tis no wonder therefore if we have so little of this critical Genius extant, to guide us in our Taste. ’Tis no wonder if what is generally current in this kind, lies in a manner bury’d, and in disguise under Burlesque, as particularly in the ‡ witty Comedy of a noble Author of this last Age. To the Shame, however, of our profess’d Wits and Enterprizers in the higher Spheres of Poetry, it may be observ’d, that they have not wanted good Advice and Instruction of the graver kind, from as high a Hand in respect of Quality and Character: Since one of the justest of our modern Poems, and so confess’d even by our Poets themselves, is a short Criticism, An ArtofPoetry; by which, if they themselves were to be judg’d, they must in general appear no better than mere Bunglers, and void of all true Sense and Knowledg in their Art. But if in reality both Critick and Poet, confessing the Justice of these Rules of Art, can afterwards, in Practice, condemn and approve, perform and judg, in a quite different manner from what they acknowledg just and true: it plainly shews, That, tho perhaps we are not indigent in Wit; we want what is of more consequence, and can alone raise Wit to any Dignity or Worth; even plainHonesty, Manners, and a Sense of that Moral Truth, on which (as has been often express’d in these * Volumes) poetickTruth and Beauty must naturally depend.
† The man who has learned what are his duties to his fatherland or to his friends; what affection is due to a father, a brother, or a guest; what is the duty of a senator, what of a juryman, . . . he to be sure knows how to find suitable language for each character.
As for this Species of Morality which distinguishes the Civil Offices of Life, and describes each becoming Personage or Character in this Scene; so necessary it is for the Poet and polite Author to be appriz’d of it, that even the Divine himself may with juster pretence be exempted from the knowledg of this sort. The Composer of religious Discourses has the advantage of that higher Scene of Mystery, which is above the level of human Commerce. ’Tis not so much his Concern, or Business, to beagreeable. And often when he wou’d endeavour it, he becomes more than ordinarily displeasing. His Theater, and that of the polite World, are very different: Insomuch that in a ReverendAuthor, or Declaimer of this sort, we naturally excuse the Ignorance of ordinary Decorum, in what relates to the Affairs of our inferior temporal World. But for thePoet or genteelWriter, who is of this World merely, ’tis a different Case. He must be perfect in this moral Science. We can easily bear the loss of indifferentPoetry or Essay. A good Bargain it were, cou’d we get rid of every moderate Performance in this kind. But were we oblig’d to hear only excellentSermons, and to read nothing, in the way of Devotion, which was not well writ; it might possibly go hard with many Christian People, who are at present such attentive Auditors and Readers. Establish’d Pastors have a right to be indifferent. But voluntary Discourses and Attempters in Wit or Poetry, are as intolerable, when they are indifferent, as either Fiddlers or Painters:
* Because a dinner could be carried on without them.
Other Bays’s and Poetasters may be lawfully baited; tho we patiently submit to our Bays’s in Divinity.
Had the Author of our †Subject-Treatises consider’d thorowly of these literate Affairs, and found how the Interest of Wit stood at present in our Nation, he wou’d have had so much regard surely to his own Interest, as never to have writ unless either in the single Capacity of mere Critick, or that of Authorin form. If he had resolv’d never to produce a regular or legitimate Piece, he might pretty safely have writ on still after the rate of his first Volume, and mixt manner. He might have been as critical, as satirical, or as full of Raillery as he had pleas’d. But to come afterwards as a grave Actor upon the Stage, and expose himself to Criticism in his turn, by giving us a Work or two in form, after the regular manner of Composition, as we see in his second Volume; this, I think, was no extraordinary Proof of his Judgment or Ability, in what related to his own Credit and Advantage.
One of these formal Pieces (the Inquiry already examin’d) we have found to be wholly after the Manner, which in one of his critical Pieces he calls the Methodick. But his next Piece (the Moralists, which we have now before us) must, according to his own * Rules, be reckon’d as an Undertaking of greater weight. ’Tis not only at the bottom, as systematical, didactick and preceptive, as that other Piece of formal Structure; but it assumes withal another Garb, and more fashionable Turn of Wit. It conceals what is scholastical, under the appearance of a polite Work. It aspires to Dialogue, and carrys with it not only those poetick Features of the Pieces antiently call’d Mimes; but it attempts to unite the several Personages and Characters in OneAction, or Story, within a determinate Compass of Time, regularly divided, and drawn into different and proportion’d Scenes: And this, too, with variety of Style; the simple, comick, rhetorical, and even the poetick or sublime; such as is the aptest to run into Enthusiasm and Extravagance. So much is our Author, by virtue of this Piece,†aPoetin due form, and by a more apparent claim, than if he had writ a Play, or dramatick Piece, in as regular a manner, at least, as any known at present on our Stage.
It appears, indeed, that as high as our Author, in his critical Capacity, wou’d pretend to carry the refin’d Manner and accurate Simplicity of the Antients; he dares not, in his own Model and principal Performance, attempt to unite his Philosophy in one solid and uniform Body, nor carry on his Argument in one continu’d Chain or Thred. Here our Author’s Timorousness is visible. In the very Plan or Model of his Work, he is apparently put to a hard shift, to contrive how or with what probability he might introduce Men of any Note or Fashion, * reasoning expresly and purposely, without play or trifling, for two or three hours together, on mere Philosophy and Morals. He finds these Subjects (as he confesses) so wide of common Conversation, and, by long Custom, so appropriated to the School, the University-Chair, or Pulpit, that he thinks it hardly safe or practicable to treat of them elsewhere, or in a different Tone. He is forc’d therefore to raise particular Machines, and constrain his principal Characters, in order to carry a better Face, and bear himself out, against the appearance of Pedantry. Thus his Gentleman-Philosopher Theocles, before he enters into his real Character, becomes a feign’d Preacher. And even when his real Character comes on, he hardly dares stand it out; but to deal the better with his Sceptick-Friend, he falls again to personating, and takes up the Humour of the Poet and Enthusiast.Palemon the Man of Quality, and who is first introduc’d as Speaker in the Piece, must, for fashion-sake, appear in Love, and under a kind of Melancholy, produc’d by some Mis-adventures in the World. How else shou’d he be suppos’d so serious? Philocles his Friend (an airy Gentleman of the World, and a thorow Raillier) must have a home Charge upon him, and feel the Anger of his grave Friend, before he can be suppos’d grave enough to enter into a philosophical Discourse. A quarter of an hour’s reading must serve to represent an hour or two’s Debate. And a new Scene presenting it self, ever and anon, must give Refreshment, it seems, to the faint Reader, and remind him of the Characters and Business going on.
’Tis in the same view that we Miscellanarian Authors, being fearful of the natural Lassitude and Satiety of our indolent Reader, have prudently betaken ourselves to the way of Chapters and Contents; that as the Reader proceeds, by frequent Intervals of Repose, contriv’d on purpose for him, he may from time to time be advertis’d of what is yet to come, and be tempted thus to renew his Application.
Thus in our modern Plays we see, almost in every other Leaf, Descriptions or Illustrations of the Action, not in the Poem it-self, or in the mouth of the Actors; but by the Poet, in his own Person; in order, as appears, to help out a Defect of the Text, by a kind of marginal Note, or Comment: which renders these Pieces of a mix’d kind between the narrative and dramatick. ’Tis in this fashionable Style, or manner of dumb Shew, that the Reader finds the Action of the Piece more amazingly express’d, than he possibly cou’d by the Lines of the Drama it-self; where the Partys alone are suffer’d to be Speakers.
’Tis out of the same regard to Ease, both in respect of Writer and Reader, that we see long Characters and Descriptions at the head of most dramatick Pieces, to inform us of the Relations, Kindred, Interests, and Designs of the Dramatis Personae: This being of the highest importance to the Reader, that he may the better understand the Plot, and find out the principal Characters and Incidents of the Piece; which otherways cou’d not possibly discover themselves, as they are read in their due order. And to do justice to our Play-Readers, they seldom fail to humour our Poets in this respect, and read over the Characters with strict application, as a sort of Grammar, or Key, before they enter on the Piece it-self. I know not whether they wou’d do so much for any philosophical Piece in the world. Our Author seems very much to question it; and has therefore made that part easy enough, which relates to the distinction of his Characters, by making use of the narrative Manner. Tho he had done, as well, perhaps, not to have gone out of the natural plain way, on this account. For with those to whom such philosophical Subjects are agreeable, it cou’d be thought no laborious Task to give the same attention to Characters in Dialogue, as is given at the first entrance by every Reader to the easiest Play, compos’d of fewest and plainest Personages. But for those who read these Subjects with mere Supineness, and Indifference; they will as much begrudg the pains of attending to the Characters thus particularly pointed out, as if they had only been discernible by Inference and Deduction from the mouth of the speaking Partys themselves.
MORE REASONS are given by our * Author himself, for his avoiding the direct way of Dialogue; which at present lies so low, and is us’d only now and then, in our Party-Pamphlets, or new-fashion’d theological Essays. For of late, it seems, the Manner has been introduc’d into Church-Controversy, with an Attempt of Raillery and Humour, as a more successful Method of dealing with Heresy and Infidelity. The Burlesque-Divinity grows mightily in vogue. And the cry’d-up Answers to heterodox Discourses are generally such as are written in Drollery, or with resemblance of the facetious and humorous Language of Conversation.
Joy to the reverend Authors, who can afford to be thus gay, and condescend to correct us, in this Lay-Wit. The Advances they make in behalf of Piety and Manners, by such a popular Style, are doubtless found, upon experience, to be very considerable. As these Reformers are nicely qualify’d to hit the Air of Breeding and Gentility, they will in time, no doubt, refine their Manner, and improve this jocular Method, to the Edification of the polite World; who have been so long seduc’d by the way of Raillery and Wit. They may do wonders by their comickMuse, and may thus, perhaps, find means to laugh Gentlemen into their Religion, who have unfortunately been laugh’d out of it. For what reason is there to suppose that Orthodoxy shou’d not be able to laugh as agreeably, and with as much Refinedness, as Heresy or Infidelity?
At present, it must be own’d, the Characters, or Personages, employ’d by our new orthodox Dialogists, carry with ’em little Proportion or Coherence; and in this respect may be said to sute perfectly with that figurative metaphorical Style and rhetorical Manner, in which their Logick and Arguments are generally couch’d. Nothing can be more complex or multiform than their moral Draughts or Sketches of Humanity. These, indeed, are so far from representing any particularMan, or Order ofMen, that they scarce resemble any thing of the Kind. ’Tis by their Names only that these Characters are figur’d. Tho they bear different Titles, and are set up to maintain contrary Points; they are found, at the bottom, to be all of the same side; and, notwithstanding their seeming Variance, to co-operate in the most officious manner with the Author, towards the display of his own proper Wit, and the establishment of his private Opinion and Maxims. They are indeed his very legitimate and obsequious Puppets; as like real Men in Voice, Action, and Manners, as those wooden or wire Engines of the lower Stage. Philotheus and Philatheus, Philautus and Philalethes are of one and the same Order: Just Tallys to one another: Questioning and Answering in concert, and with such a sort of Alternative as is known in a vulgar Play, where one Person lies down blindfold, and presents himself, as fair as may be, to another, who by favour of the Company, or the assistance of his Good-fortune, deals his Companion many a sound Blow, without being once challeng’d, or brought into his Turn of lying down.
There is the same curious Mixture of Chance, and elegant Vicissitude, in the Style of these Mock-Personages of our new Theological Drama: with this difference only, “That after the poor Phantom or Shadow of an Adversary has said as little for his Cause as can be imagin’d, and given as many Opens and Advantages as cou’d be desir’d, he lies down for good and all, and passively submits to the killing Strokes of his unmerciful Conqueror.”
Hardly, as I conceive, will it be objected to our Moralist, (the Author of the philosophick Dialogue above) “That the Personages who sustain the sceptical or objecting Parts, are over-tame and tractable in their Disposition.” Did I perceive any such foul dealing in his Piece; I shou’d scarce think it worthy of the Criticism here bestow’d. For in this sort of Writing, where Personages are exhibited, and natural Conversation set in view; if Characters are neither tolerably preserv’d, nor Manners with any just Similitude describ’d; there remains nothing but what is too gross and monstrous for Criticism or Examination.
’Twill be alledg’d, perhaps, in answer to what is here advanc’d, “That shou’d a Dialogue be wrought up to the Exactness of these Rules; it ought to be condemn’d, as the worse Piece, for affording the Infidel or Sceptick such good quarter, and giving him the full advantage of his Argument and Wit.”
But to this I reply, That either Dialogue shou’d never be attempted; or, if it be, the Partys shou’d appear natural, and such as they really are. If we paint at all; we shou’d endeavour to paint like Life, and draw Creatures as they are knowable, in their proper Shapes and better Features; not in Metamorphosis, not mangled, lame, distorted, aukard Forms, and impotent Chimeras. Atheists have their Sense and Wits, as other Men; or why is Atheism so often challeng’d in those of the better Rank? Why charg’d so often to the account of Wit and subtle Reasoning?
Were I to advise these Authors, towards whom I am extremely well-affected on account of their good-humour’d Zeal, and the seeming Sociableness of their Religion; I shou’d say to ’em, “Gentlemen! Be not so cautious of furnishing your representativeSceptick with too good Arguments, or too shreud a Turn of Wit or Humour. Be no so fearful of giving quarter. Allow your Adversary his full Reason, his Ingenuity, Sense, and Art. Trust to the chief Character or Heroof your Piece. Make him as dazling bright, as you are able. He will undoubtedly overcome the utmost Force of his Opponent, and dispel the Darkness or Cloud, which the Adversary may unluckily have rais’d. But if when you have fairly wrought up your Antagonist to his due Strength and cognizable Proportion, your chief Character cannot afterwards prove a match for him, or shine with a superior Brightness; Whose Fault is it?—The Subject’s?—This, I hope, you will never allow.—Whose, therefore, beside your own?—Beware then; and consider well your Strength and Mastership in this manner of Writing, and in the qualifying Practice of the polite World, ere you attempt these accurate and refin’d Limnings or Portraitures of Mankind, or offer to bring Gentlemen on the Stage. For if real Gentlemen, seduc’d, as you pretend, and made erroneous in their Religion or Philosophy, discover not the least Feature of their real Faces in your Looking-glass, nor know themselves, in the least, by your Description; they will hardly be apt to think they are refuted. How wittily soever your Comedy may be wrought up, they will scarce apprehend any of that Wit to fall upon themselves. They may laugh indeed at the Diversion you are pleas’d to give ’em: But the Laugh perhaps may be different from what you intend. They may smile secretly to see themselves thus encounter’d; when they find, at last, your Authority laid by, and your scholastick Weapons quitted, in favour of this weak Attempt, To master them by their own Arms, and proper Ability.”
THUS WE have perform’d our critical Task, and try’d our Strength, both on our Author, and those of his Order, who attempt to write in Dialogue, after the active dramatick, *mimical, or personating Way; according to which a Writer is properly poetical.
What remains, we shall examine in our succeeding and last Chapter.
Chap. 3.CHAPTER III
Of Extent or Latitude of Thought.—Free-Thinkers.—Their Cause, and Character.—Dishonesty, a Half-Thought.—Short-Thinking, Cause of Vice and Bigotry.—Agreement of Slavery and Superstition.—Liberty,civil, moral, spiritual.—Free-thinking Divines.—Representatives incognito.—Embassadors from the Moon.—Effectual Determination of Christian Controversy and Religious Belief.
BEING now come to the Conclusion of my Work; after having defended the Cause of Criticks in general, and employ’d what Strength I had in that Science upon our adventurous Author in particular; I may, according to Equity, and with the better grace, attempt a line or two, in defense of that Freedom of Thought which our Author has us’d, particularly in one of the Personages of his last Dialogue-Treatise.
There is good reason to suppose, that however equally fram’d, or near alike, the Race of Mankind may appear in other respects, they are not always equal Thinkers, or of a like Ability in the management of this natural Talent which we call Thought. The Race, on this account, may therefore justly be distinguish’d, as they often are, by the Appellation of the Thinking, and the Unthinking sort. The mere Unthinking are such as have not yet arriv’d to that happy Thought, by which they shou’d observe, “How necessary Thinking is, and how fatal the want of it must prove to ’em.” The Thinking part of Mankind, on the other side, having discover’d the Assiduity and Industry requisite to right-Thinking, and being already commenc’dThinkers upon this Foundation; are, in the progress of the Affair, convinc’d of the necessity of thinking to good purpose, and carrying the Work to a thorow Issue. They know that if they refrain or stop once, upon this Road, they had done as well never to have set out. They are not so supine as to be with-held by mere Laziness; when nothing lies in the way to interrupt the free Course and Progress of their Thought.
Some Obstacles, ’tis true, may, on this occasion, be pretended. Specters may come a-cross; and Shadows of Reason rise up against Reasonit-self. But if Men have once heartily espous’d the reasoning or thinking Habit; they will not easily be induc’d to lay the Practice down; they will not at an instant be arrested, or made to stand, and yield themselves, when they come to such a certain Boundary, Land-Mark, Post, or Pillar, erected here or there (for what reason may probably be guess’d) with the Inscription of a Ne plus ultrà.
’Tis not, indeed, any Authority on Earth, as we are well assur’d, can stop us on this Road, unless we please to make the Arrest, or Restriction, of our own accord. ’Tis our own Thought which must restrain our Thinking. And whether the restraining Thought be just, how shall we ever judge, without examining it freely, and out of all constraint? How shall we be sure that we have justly quitted Reason, as too high and dangerous, too aspiring or presumptive; if thro’ Fear of any kind, or submitting to mere Command, we quit our very examining Thought, and in the moment stop short, so as to put an end to further Thinking on the matter? Is there much difference between this Case, and that of the obedient Beasts of Burden, who stop precisely at their appointed Inn, or at whatever Point the Charioteer, orGovernour of the Reins, thinks fit to give the signal for a Halt?
I cannot but from hence conclude, That of all Species of Creatures said commonly to have Brains; the most insipid, wretched and preposterous are those, whom in just Propriety of Speech, we call Half-thinkers.
I have often known Pretenders toWit break out into admiration, on the sight of some raw, heedless, unthinking Gentleman; declaring on this occasion, That they esteem’d it the happiest Case in the World, “Never to think, or trouble one’s Head with Study or Consideration.” This I have always look’d upon as one of the highest Airs of Distinction, which the self-admiring Wits are us’d to give them-selves, in publick Company. Now the Echo or Antiphony which these elegant Exclaimers hope, by this Reflection, to draw necessarily from their Audience, is, “That they themselves are over-fraighted with this Merchandize of Thought; and have not only enough for Ballast, but such a Cargo over and above, as is enough to sink ’em by its Weight.” I am apt however to imagine of these Gentlemen, That it was never their over-thinking which oppress’d them; and that if their Thought had ever really become oppressive to ’em, they might thank themselves, for having under-thought, or reason’d short, so as to rest satisfy’d with a very superficial Search into Matters of the first and highest Importance.
If, for example, they over-look’d the chief Enjoyments of Life, which are founded in Honesty and a good Mind; if they presum’d mere Life to be fully worth what its tenacious Lovers are pleas’d to rate it at; if they thought publick Distinction, Fame, Power, an Estate, or Title, to be of the same value as is vulgarly conceiv’d, or as they concluded, on a first Thought, without further Scepticism or After-deliberation; ’tis no wonder, if being in time become such mature Dogmatists, and well-practis’d Dealers in the Affairs of what they call a Settlement or Fortune, they are so hardly put to it, to find ease or rest within themselves.
These are the deeply-loaded and over-pensive Gentlemen, who esteeming it the truest Wit to pursue what they call their Interest, wonder to find they are still as little at ease when they have succeeded, as when they first attempted to advance.
There can never be less Self-enjoyment than in these suppos’d wise Characters, these selfish Computers of Happiness and private Good; whose Pursuits of Interest, whether for this World or another, are attended with the same steddy Vein of cunning and low Thought, sordid Deliberations, perverse and crooked Fancys, ill Dispositions, and false Relishes of Life and Manners. The most negligent undesigning thoughtless Rake has not only more of Sociableness, Ease, Tranquillity, and Freedom from worldly Cares, but in reality more of Worth, Virtue, and Merit, than such grave Plodders, and thoughtful Gentlemen as these.
If it happens, therefore, that these graver, more circumspect, and deeply interested Gentlemen, have, for their Soul’s sake, and thro’ a careful Provision for Hereafter, engag’d in certain Speculations of Religion; their Taste of Virtue, and Relish of Life is not the more improv’d, on this account. The Thoughts they have on these new Subjects of Divinity are so biass’d, and perplex’d, by those Half-Thoughts and raw Imaginations of Interest, and worldly Affairs; that they are still disabled in the rational Pursuit of Happiness and Good: And being necessitated thus to remain Short-Thinkers, they have the Power to go no further than they are led by those to whom, under such Disturbances and Perplexitys, they apply themselves for Cure and Comfort.
IT HAS been the main Scope and principal End of these Volumes, “To assert the Reality of a Beauty and Charm in moral as well as natural Subjects; and to demonstrate the Reasonableness of a proportionateTaste, and determinateChoice, in Life and Manners.” The Standard of this kind, and the noted Character of MoralTruth appear so firmly establish’d in Nature it-self, and so widely display’d thro’ the intelligent World, that there is no Genius, Mind, or thinking Principle, which (if I may say so) is not really conscious in the case. Even the most refractory and obstinate Understandings are by certain Reprises or Returns of Thought, on every occasion, convinc’d of this Existence, and necessitated, in common with others, to acknowledg the actual Right and Wrong.
’Tis evident that whensoever the Mind, influenc’d by Passion or Humour, consents to any Action, Measure, or Rule of Life, contrary to this governingStandard and primaryMeasure of Intelligence, it can only be thro’ a weak Thought, a Scantiness of Judgment, and a Defect in the application of that unavoidable Impression and first natural Rule of Honesty and Worth; against which, whatever is advanc’d, will be of no other moment than to render a Life distracted, incoherent, full of Irresolution, Repentance, and Self-disapprobation.
Thus every Immorality and Enormity of Life can only happen from a partial and narrow View of Happiness and Good. Whatever takes from the Largeness or Freedom of Thought, must of necessity detract from that first Relish, or Taste, on which Virtue and Worth depend.
For instance, when the Eye or Appetite is eagerly fix’d on Treasure, and the money’d Bliss of Bags and Coffers; ’tis plain there is a kind of Fascination in the case. The Sight is instantly diverted from all other Views of Excellence or Worth. And here, even the Vulgar, as well as the more liberal part of Mankind, discover the contracted Genius, and acknowledg the Narrowness of such a Mind.
In Luxury and Intemperance we easily apprehend how far Thought is oppress’d, and the Mind debar’d from just Reflection, and from the free Examination and Censure of its own Opinions or Maxims, on which the Conduct of a Life is form’d.
Even in that complicated Good of vulgar kind, which we commonly call Interest, in which we comprehend both Pleasure, Riches, Power, and other exterior Advantages; we may discern how a fascinated Sight contracts a Genius, and by shortning the View even of that very Interest which it seeks, betrays the Knave, and necessitates the ablest and wittiest Proselyte of the kind, to expose himself on every Emergency and sudden Turn.
But above all other enslaving Vices, and Restrainers of Reason and just Thought, the most evidently ruinous and fatal to the Understanding is that of Superstition, Bigotry, and vulgarEnthusiasm. This Passion, not contented like other Vices to deceive, and tacitly supplant our Reason, professes open War, holds up the intended Chains and Fetters, and declares its Resolution to enslave.
The artificial Managers of this human Frailty declaim against Free-Thought, and Latitude of Understanding. To go beyond those Bounds of thinking which they have prescrib’d, is by them declar’d a Sacrilege. To them, Freedomof Mind, aMasteryof Sense, and aLiberty in Thought and Action, imply Debauch, Corruption, and Depravity.
In consequence of their moral Maxims, and political Establishments, they can indeed advance no better Notion of human Happiness and Enjoyment, than that which is in every respect the most opposite to Liberty. ’Tis to them doubtless that we owe the Opprobriousness and Abuse of those naturally honest Appellations of Free-Livers, Free-Thinkers, Latitudinarians, or whatever other Character implies a Largeness of Mind, and generous Use of Understanding. Fain wou’d they confound Licentiousness in Morals, with Liberty in Thought and Action; and make the Libertine, who has the least Mastery of himself, resemble his direct Opposite. For such indeed is the Man of resolute Purpose and immovable Adherence to Reason, against every thing which Passion, Prepossession, Craft, or Fashion can advance in favour of ought else. But here, it seems, the Grievance lies. ’Tis thought dangerous for us to be over-rational, or too much Masters of our-selves, in what we draw, by just Conclusions, from Reason only. Seldom therefore do these Expositors fail of bringing the Thought of Liberty into disgrace. Even at the expence of Virtue, and of that very Idea of Goodness on which they build the Mysterys of their profitable Science, they derogate from Morals, and reverse all true Philosophy; they refine on Selfishness, and explode Generosity; promote a slavish Obedience in the room of voluntary Duty, and free Service; exalt blind Ignorance for Devotion, recommend low Thought, decry Reason, extol *Voluptuousness, Wilfulness, Vindicativeness, Arbitrariness, Vain-Glory; and even † deify those weak Passions which are the Disgrace rather than Ornament of human Nature.
But so far is it from the Nature of ‡Liberty to indulge such Passions as these, that whoever acts at any time under the power of any single-one, may be said to have already provided for himself an absolute Master. And he who lives under the power of a whole Race, (since ’tis scarce possible to obey one without the other) must of necessity undergo the worst of Servitudes, under the most capricious and domineering Lords.
That this is no Paradox, even the Writers for Entertainment can inform us; however others may moralize, who discourse or write, as they pretend, for Profit and Instruction. The Poets even of the wanton sort, give ample Testimony of this Slavery and Wretchedness of Vice. They may extol Voluptuousness to the Skies, and point their Wit as sharply as they are able against a virtuous State. But when they come afterwards to pay the necessary Tribute to their commanding Pleasures; we hear their pathetick Moans, and find the inward Discord and Calamity of their Lives. Their Example is the best of Precepts; since they conceal nothing, are sincere, and speak their Passion out aloud. And ’tis in this that the very worst of Poets may justly be prefer’d to the generality of modern Philosophers, or other formal Writers of a yet more specious name. The MusesPupils never fail to express their Passions, and write just as they feel. ’Tis not, indeed, in their nature to do otherwise; whilst they indulge their Vein, and are under the power of that natural Enthusiasm which leads ’em to what is highest in their Performance. They follow Nature. They move chiefly as she moves in ’em; without thought of disguising her free Motions, and genuine Operations, for the sake of any Scheme or Hypothesis, which they have form’d at leisure, and in particular narrow Views. On this account, tho at one time they quarrel perhaps with Virtue, for restraining ’em in their forbidden Loves, they can at another time make her sufficient amends; when with indignation they complain, “That Merit is neglected, and their * worthless Rival prefer’d before them.”
† To think that the honest heart of a poor man should have no weight against gold!
And thus even in common Elegiack, in Song, Ode, or Epigram, consecrated to Pleasure it-self, we may often read the dolorous Confession in behalf of Virtue, and see, at the bottom, how the Case stands:
For then and then only are the words of truth drawn from the bottom of a man’s heart.3
The airy Poets, in these Fits, can, as freely as the Tragedian, condole with Virtue, and bemoan the case of sufferingMerit;
The Poetick Chiefs may give what reason they think fit for their Humour of representing our mad Appetites (especially that of Love) under the shape of Urchins and wanton Boys, scarce out of their State of Infancy. The original Design, and Moral of this Fiction, I am persuaded, was to shew us, how little there was of great and heroick in the Government of these Pretenders, how truly weak and childish they were in themselves, and how much lower than mere Children we then became, when we submitted our-selves to their blind Tutorage. There was no fear left in this Fiction the boyish Nature shou’d be misconstru’d as innocent and gentle. The Storms of Passion, so well known in every kind, kept the tyrannick Quality of this wanton Race sufficiently in view. Nor cou’d the poetical Description fail to bring to mind their mischievous and malignant Play. But when the Image of imperious Threatning, and absolute Command, was join’d to that of Ignorance, Puerility, and Folly; the Notion was compleated, of that wretched slavish State, which modern Libertines, in conjunction with some of a graver Character, admire, and represent, as the most eligible of any.—“Happy Condition! (says one) “Happy Life, that of the indulg’dPassions; might we pursue it!—Miserable Condition! Miserable Life, that of Reason and Virtue, which we are * bid pursue!”
’Tis the same, it seems, with Men, in Morals, as in Politicks. When they have been unhappily born and bred to Slavery, they are so far from being sensible of their slavish Course of Life, or of that ill Usage, Indignity and Misery they sustain; that they even admire their own Condition: and being us’d to think short, and carry their Views no further than those Bounds which were early prescrib’d to ’em; they look upon Tyranny as a natural Case, and think Mankind in a sort of dangerous and degenerate State, when under the power of Laws, and in the possession of a free Government.
We may by these Reflections come easily to apprehend What Men they were who first brought Reason and Free-Thought under disgrace, and made the noblest of Characters, that of a Free-Thinker, to become invidious. ’Tis no wonder if the same Interpreters wou’d have those also to be esteem’d free in their Lives, and Masters of good Living, who are the least Masters of themselves, and the most impotent in Passion and Humour, of all their Fellow-Creatures. But far be it, and far surely will it ever be, from any worthy Genius, to be consenting to such a treacherous Language, and Abuse of Words. For my own part, I thorowly confide in the good Powers of Reason, “That Liberty and Freedom shall never, by any Artifice or Delusion, be made to pass with me as frightful Sounds, or as reproachful, or invidious, in any sense.”
I can no more allow that to be Free-living, where unlimited Passion, and unexamin’d Fancy govern, than I can allow that to be a Free Government, where the mere People govern, and not the Laws. For no People in a Civil State can possibly be free, when they are otherwise govern’d than by such Laws as they themselves have constituted, or to which they have freely given consent. Now to be releas’d from these, so as to govern themselves by each Day’s Will or Fancy, and to vary on every Turn the Rule and Measure of Government, without respect to any antient Constitutions or Establishments, or to the stated and fix’d Rules of Equity and Justice; is as certain Slavery, as it is Violence, Distraction, and Misery; such as in the Issue must prove the Establishment of an irretrievable State of Tyranny, and absolute Dominion.
In the Determinations of Life, and in the Choice and Government of Actions, he alone is free who has within himself no Hindrance, or Controul, in acting what he himself, by his best Judgment, and most deliberate Choice, approves. Cou’d Vice agree possibly with it-self; or cou’d the vicious any way reconcile the various Judgments of their inward Counsellors; they might with Justice perhaps assert their Liberty and Independency. But whilst they are necessitated to follow least, what, in their sedate hours, they most approve; whilst they are passively assign’d, and made over from one Possessor to * another, in contrary Extremes, and to different Ends and Purposes, of which they are them-selves wholly ignorant; ’tis evident, That the more they turn † their Eyes (as many times they are oblig’d) towards Virtue and a free Life, the more they must confess their Misery and Subjection. They discern their own Captivity, but not with Force and Resolution sufficient to redeem themselves, and become their own. Such is the real Tragick State, as the old ‡Tragedian represents it:
4 I see and I esteem the better course, I follow the worse.
And thus the highest Spirits, and most refractory Wills, contribute to the lowest Servitude and most submissive State. Reason and Virtue alone can bestow Liberty.Vice is unworthy, and unhappy, on this account only, “That it is slavish and debasing.”
THUS HAVE we pleaded the Cause of Liberty in general; and vindicated, withal, our Author’s particular Freedom, in taking the Person of a Sceptick, as he has done in this * last Treatise, on which we have so largely paraphras’d. We may now perhaps, in compliance with general Cusstom, justly presume to add something in defense of the same kind of Freedom we our-selves have assum’d in these latter Miscellaneous Comments; since it wou’d doubtless be very unreasonable and unjust, for those who had so freely play’d the Critick, to expect any thing less than the same free Treatment, and thorow Criticism in return.
As for the Style or Language us’d in these Comments; ’tis very different, we find; and varys in proportion with the Author commented, and with the different Characters and Persons frequently introduc’d in the original Treatises. So that there will undoubtedly be Scope sufficient for Censure and Correction.
As for the Observations on Antiquity; we have in most Passages, except the very common and obvious, produc’d our Vouchers and Authoritys in our own behalf. What may be thought of our Judgment or Sense in the Application of these Authoritys, and in the Deductions and Reasonings we have form’d from such learned Topicks, must be submitted to the Opinion of the Wise and Learned.
In Morals, of which the very Force lies in a love of Discipline, and in a willingness to redress and rectify false Thought, and erring Views; we cannot but patiently wait Redress and amicable Censure from the sole competent Judges, the Wise and Good; whose Interest it has been our whole Endeavour to advance.
The only Subject on which we are perfectly secure, and without fear of any just Censure or Reproach, is that of Faith, and OrthodoxBelief. For in the first place, it will appear, that thro’ a profound Respect, and religious Veneration, we have forborn so much as to name any of the sacred and solemn Mysterys of *Revelation. And, in the next place, as we can with confidence declare, that we have never in any Writing, publick or private, attempted such high Researches, nor have ever in Practice acquitted our-selves otherwise than as just Conformists to the lawful Church; so we may, in a proper Sense, be said faithfully and dutifully to embrace those holy Mysterys, even in their minutest Particulars, and without the least Exception on account of their amazing Depth. And tho we are sensible that it wou’d be no small hardship to deprive others of a liberty of examining and searching, with due Modesty and Submission, into the nature of those Subjects; yet as for our-selves, who have not the least scruple whatsoever, we pray not any such Grace or Favour in our behalf: being fully assur’d of our own steddy Orthodoxy, Resignation, and intire Submission to the truly Christian and Catholick Doctrines of our Holy Church, as by Law establish’d.
’Tis true, indeed, that as to †CriticalLearning, and the Examination of Originals, Texts, Glosses, various Readings, Styles, Compositions, Manuscripts, Compilements, Editions, Publications, and other Circumstances, such as are common to the Sacred Books with all other Writings and Literature; this we have confidently asserted to be a just and lawful Study. We have even represented this Species of Criticism as necessary to the Preservation and Purity of Scripture; that Sacred Scripture, which has been so miraculously preserv’d in its successive Copys and Transcriptions, under the Eye (as we must needs suppose) of holy and learned Criticks, thro’ so many dark Ages of Christianity, to these latter Times; in which Learning has been happily reviv’d.
But if this critical Liberty raises any jealousy against us, we shall beg leave of our offended Reader to lay before him our Case, at the very worst: That if on such a naked Exposition, it be found criminal, we may be absolutely condemn’d; if otherwise, acquitted, and with the same favour indulg’d, as others in the same Circumstances have been before us.
On this occasion therefore, we may be allow’d to borrow something from the Form or Manner of our Dialogue Author, and represent a Conversation of the same free nature as that recited by him in his *Night-Scene; where the suppos’d Sceptick, or Free-Thinker, delivers his Thoughts, and reigns in the Discourse.
’TWAS IN a more considerable Company, and before a more numerous Audience, that not long since, a Gentleman of some Rank, (one who was generally esteem’d to carry a sufficient Caution and Reserve in religious Subjects of Discourse, as well as an apparent Deference to Religion, and in particular to the national and establish’d Church) having been provok’d by an impertinent Attack of a certain violent bigotted Party, was drawn into an open and free Vindication not only of Free-Thinking, but Free-Professing, and Discoursing, in Matters relating to Religion and Faith.
Some of the Company, it seems, after having made bold with him, as to what they fansy’d to be his Principle, began to urge “The Necessity of reducing Men to one Profession and Belief.” And several Gentlemen, even of those who pass’d for moderate in their way, seem’d so far to give into this Zealot-Opinion as to agree, “That notwithstanding the right Method was not yet found, ’twas highly requisite that some way shou’d be thought on, to reconcile Differences in Opinion; since so long as this Variety shou’d last, Religion, they thought, cou’d never be successfully advanc’d.”
To this our Gentleman, at first, answer’d coldly, That “What was impossible to be done, cou’d not, he thought, be properly pursu’d, as necessary to be done.” But the Raillery being ill taken, he was forc’d at last to defend himself the best he cou’d, upon this Point; “That Variety of Opinions was not to be cur’d.” And “That ’twas impossible All shou’d be of one Mind.”
I well know, said he, “That many pious Men, seeing the Inconveniences which the Dis-union of Persuasions and Opinions accidentally produces, have thought themselves oblig’d to stop this Inundation of Mischiefs, and have made Attempts accordingly. Some have endeavour’d to unite these Fractions, by propounding such a Guide, as they were all bound to follow; hoping that the Unity of a Guide wou’d have produc’d Unity of Minds. But who this Guide shou’d be, after all, became such a Question, that ’twas made part of that Fire it-self which was to be extinguish’d. Others thought of a Rule.—This was to be the effectual Means of Union! This was to do the Work, or nothing cou’d!—But supposing all the World had been agreed on this Rule, yet the Interpretation of it was so full of Variety, that this also became part of the Disease.”
The Company, upon this Preamble of our Gentleman, press’d harder upon him than before; objecting the Authority of Holy Scripture against him, and affirming this to be of it-self a sufficient Guide and Rule. They urg’d again and again that known Saying of a fam’d Controversial Divine of our Church against the Divines of another, “That the Scripture, the Scripture was the Religion of Protestants.”
To this our Gentleman, at first, reply’d only, by desiring them to explain their word Scripture, and by inquiring into the Original of this Collection of antienter and later Tracts, which in general they comprehended under that Title: Whether it were the apocryphalScripture, or the more canonical? The full or the half-authoriz’d? The doubtful, or the certain? The controverted, or uncontroverted? The singly-read, or that of various Reading? The Text of these Manuscripts, or of those? The Transcripts, Copys, Titles, Catalogues of this Church and Nation, or of that other? of this Sect and Party, or of another? of those in one Age call’d Orthodox, and in possession of Power, or of those who in another overthrew their Predecessors Authority, and in their turn also assum’d the Guardianship and Power of holy Things? For how these sacred Records were guarded in those Ages, might easily, he said, be imagin’d by any one who had the least Insight into the History of those Times which we call’d primitive, and the Characters of those Men, whom we styl’d Fathers of the Church.
“It must be confess’d, continu’d he, ’twas a strange Industry and unlucky Diligence which was us’d, in this respect, by these Ecclesiastical Fore-Fathers. Of all those Heresys which gave them Imployment, we have absolutely no Record, or Monument, but what them-selves who were Adversarys have transmitted to us; and we know that Adversarys, especially such who observe all Opportunitys to discredit both the Persons and Doctrines of their Enemys, are not always the best Recorders or Witnesses of such Transactions.” We see it (continu’d he, in a very emphatical, but somewhat embarass’d Style) “We see it now in this very Age, in the present Dis-temperatures, that Partys are no good Registers of the Actions of the adverse Side: And if we cannot be confident of the Truth of a Story now, (now, I say, that it is possible for any Man, especially for the interested Adversary, to discover the Imposture) it is far more unlikely, that After-Ages shou’d know any other Truth than such as serves the ends of the Representers.”
Our Gentleman by these Expressions had already given considerable Offense to his Zealot-Auditors. They ply’d him faster with passionate Reproaches, than with Arguments or rational Answers. This, however, serv’d only to animate him the more, and made him proceed the more boldly, with the same assum’d Formality, and air of Declamation, in his general Criticism of Holy Literature.
“There are, said he, innumerable Places that contain (no doubt) great Mysterys, but so wrap’d in Clouds, or hid in Umbrages, so heighten’d with Expressions, or so cover’d with Allegorys and Garments of Rhetorick; so profound in the matter, or so alter’d and made intricate in the manner; that they may seem to have been left as Trials of our Industry, and as Occasions and Opportunitys for the exercise of mutual Charity and Toleration, rather than as the Repositorys of Faith, and Furniture of Creeds. For when there are found in the Explications of these Writings, so many Commentarys; so many Senses and Interpretations; so many Volumes in all Ages, and all like Mens Faces, no one exactly like another: either this Difference is absolutely no fault at all; or if it be, it is excusable. There are, besides, so many thousands of Copys that were writ by Persons of several Interests and Persuasions, such different Understandings and Tempers, such distinct Abilitys and Weaknesses, that ’tis no wonder there is so great variety of Readings:—whole Verses in one, that are not in another:—whole Books admitted by one Church or Communion, which are rejected by another: and whole Storys and Relations admitted by some Fathers, and rejected by others.—I consider withal, that there have been many Designs and Views in expounding these Writings; many Senses in which they are expounded: and when the Grammatical Sense is found out, we are many times never the nearer. Now there being such variety of Senses in Scripture, and but few Places so mark’d out, as not to be capable of more than one; if Men will write Commentarys by Fancy, what infallible Criterion will be left to judg of the certain Sense of such Places as have been the matter of Question? I consider again, that there are indeed divers Places in these sacred Volumes containing in them Mysterys and Questions of great Concernment; yet such is the Fabrick and Constitution of the Whole, that there is no certain Mark to determine whether the Sense of these Passages shou’d be taken as literal or figurative. There is nothing in the nature of the thing to determine the Sense or Meaning: but it must be gotten out as it can. And therefore ’tis unreasonably requir’d, That what is of it-self ambiguous, shou’d be understood in its own prime Sense and Intention, under the pain of either a Sin, or an Anathema. Very wise Men, even the antient Fathers, have expounded things allegorically, when they shou’d have expounded them literally. Others expound things literally, when they shou’d understand them in Allegory. If such great Spirits cou’d be deceiv’d in finding out what kind of Senses were to be given to Scriptures, it may well be endur’d that we, who sit at their Feet, shou’d be subject at least to equal Failure. If we follow any OneTranslation, or any One Man’s Commentary, what Rule or Direction shall we have, by which to chuse that One aright? Or is there any one Man, that hath translated perfectly, or expounded infallibly? If we resolve to follow any one as far only as we like, or fansy; we shall then only do wrong or right by Chance. If we resolve absolutely to follow any-one, whither-soever he leads, we shall probably come at last, where, if we have any Eyes left, we shall see our-selves become sufficiently ridiculous.”
The Reader may here perhaps, by his natural Sagacity, remark a certain air of study’d Discourse and Declamation, not so very proper or natural in the mouth of a mere Gentleman, nor sutable to a Company where alternate Discourse is carry’d on, in un-concerted Measure, and un-premeditated Language. Something there was so very emphatical, withal, in the delivery of these words, by the sceptical Gentleman; that some of the Company who were still more incens’d against him for these Expressions, began to charge him as a Preacher of pernicious Doctrines, one who attack’d Religion in form, and carry’d his Lessons or Lectures about with him, to repeat by rote, at any time, to the Ignorant and Vulgar, in order to seduce them.
’Tis true indeed, said he, Gentlemen! that what I have here ventur’d to repeat, is address’d chiefly to those you call Ignorant; such, I mean, as being otherwise engag’d in the World, have had little time perhaps to bestow upon Inquirys into Divinity-Matters. As for you, Gentlemen! in particular, who are so much displeas’d with my Freedom; I am well assur’d, you are in effect so able and knowing, that the Truth of every Assertion I have advanc’d is sufficiently understood and acknowledg’d by you; however it may happen, that, in your great Wisdom, you think it proper to conceal these Matters from such Persons as you are pleas’d to style the Vulgar.
’Tis true, withal, Gentlemen! continu’d he, I will confess to you, That the words you have heard repeated, are not my own. They are no other than what have been publickly and solemnly deliver’d, even by * one of the Episcopal Order, a celebrated Churchman, and one of the highest sort; as appears by his many devotional Works, which carry the Rites, Ceremonys and Pomp of Worship, with the Honour and Dignity of the Priestly and Episcopal Order, to the highest Degree. In effect, we see the Reverend Doctor’s Treatises standing, as it were, in the Front of this Order of Authors, and as the foremost of those Good-Books us’d by the politest and most refin’d Devotees of either Sex. They maintain the principal Place in the Study of almost every elegant and high Divine. They stand in Folio’s and other Volumes, adorn’d with variety of Pictures, Gildings, and other Decorations, on the advanc’d Shelves or Glass-Cupboards of the Ladys Closets. They are in use at all Seasons, and for all Places, as well for Church-Service as Closet-Preparation; and, in short, may vie with any devotional Books in British Christendom. And for the Life and Character of the Man himself; I leave it to you, Gentlemen, (you, I mean, of the Zealot-kind) to except against it, if you think proper. ’Tis your Manner, I know, and what you never fail to have recourse to, when any Authority is produc’d against you. Personal Reflection is always seasonable, and at hand, on such an occasion. No matter what Virtue, Honesty, or Sanctity may lie in the Character of the Person cited. No matter tho he be ever so much, in other respects, of your own Party, and devoted to your Interest. If he has indiscreetly spoken some Home-Truth, or discover’d some Secret which strikes at the temporal Interests of certain spiritual Societys; he is quickly doom’d to Calumny and Defamation.
I shall try this Experiment, however, once more, (continu’d our Gentleman) and as a Conclusion to this Discourse, will venture to produce to you a further Authority of the same kind. You shall have it before you, in the exact Phrase and Words of the great Author, in his theological Capacity; since I have now no further occasion to conceal my Citations, and accommodate them to the more familiar Style and Language of Conversation.
Our excellent * Archbishop, and late Father of our Church, when expresly treating that very Subject of a Rulein matters of Belief, in opposition to Mr. S . . . and Mr. R . . . . . his Romish Antagonists, shews plainly how great a shame it is, for us Protestants at least, (whatever the Case may be with Romanists) to disallow Difference of Opinions, and forbid private Examination, and Search into matters of antientRecord, and scripturalTradition; when, at the same time, we have no pretence to oral or verbal; no Claim to any absolute superior Judg, or decisive Judgment in the Case; no Polity, Church, or Community; no particular Man, or number of Men, who are not, even by our own Confession, plainly fallible, and subject to Error and Mistake.
“The Protestants” (says his Grace, speaking in the Person of Mr. S . . . and the Romanists) “cannot know how many the Books of Scripture ought to be; and Which of the many controverted ones may be securely put in that Catalogue; Which not.—But I shall tell him, replies his Grace, That we know that just so many ought to be receiv’d as un-controverted Books, concerning which it cannot be shewn there was ever any Controversy.” It was not incumbent perhaps on my Lord Archbishop to help Mr. S . . . . . so far in his Objection, as to add, That in reality the burning, suppressing, and interpolating Method, so early in fashion, and so tightly practis’d on the Epistles, Comments, Historys, and Writings of the Orthodox and Hereticks of old, made it impossible to say with any kind of Assurance, “What Books, Copys, or Transcripts those were, concerning which there was never any Controversy at all.” This indeed wou’d be a Point not so easily to be demonstrated. But his Grace proceeds, in shewing the Weakness of the Romish Pillar, Tradition. “For it must either,” says he, “acknowledg some Books to have been controverted, or not. Ifnot, why doth he make a Supposition of controverted Books? If Oral Tradition acknowledges some Books to have been controverted; then it cannot assure us that they have not been controverted; nor consequently that they ought to be receiv’d as never having been controverted; but only as such, concerning which those Churches who did once raise a Controversy about them, have been since satisfy’d that they are*Canonical.—Where is then the Infallibility of Oral Tradition? How does the living Voice of the present Church assure us, that what Books are now receiv’d by Her, were ever receiv’d by Her? And if it cannot do this, but the matter must come to be try’d by the best Records of former Ages, (which the Protestants are willing to have the Catalogue try’d by) then it seems the Protestants have a better way to know what Books are Canonical, than is the infallible way of Oral Tradition. And so long as ’tis better, no matter tho it be not call’d Infallible.”—
Thus the free and generous Archbishop. For, indeed, what greater Generosity is there, than in owning Truth frankly and openly, even where the greatest Advantages may be taken by an Adversary? Accordingly, our worthy Archbishop, speaking again immediately in the Person of his Adversary, “The Protestants,” says † he, “cannot know that the very Original, or a perfectly true Copy of these Books, hath been preserv’d.” “Nor is it necessary,” replies the Archbishop, “that they shou’d know either of these. It is sufficient that they know that those Copys which they have, are not materially corrupted.—But how do the Church of Rome know that they have perfectly true Copys of the Scriptures in the original Languages? They do not pretend to know this. The learned Men of that Church acknowledg the various Readings as well as we, and do not pretend to know, otherwise than by probable Conjecture, (as we also may do) Which of those Readings is the true-one.”* —
And thus, continu’d our Lay-Gentleman, I have finish’d my Quotations, which I have been necessitated to bring in my own Defense; to prove to you That I have asserted nothing on this Head of Religion, Faith, or the Sacred Mysterys, which has not been justify’d and confirm’d by the most celebrated Church-Men and respected Divines. You may now proceed in your Invectives; bestowing as free Language of that kind, as your Charity and Breeding will permit. And You, ReverendSirs! who have assum’d a Character which sets you above that of the mere Gentleman, and releases you from those Decorums, and constraining Measures of Behaviour to which we of an inferior sort are bound; You may liberally deal your religious Compliments and Salutations in what Dialect you think fit; since for my own part, neither the Names of Heterodox, Schismatick, Heretick, Sceptick, nor even Infidel, or Atheist it-self, will in the least scandalize me, whilst the Sentence comes only from your mouths. On the contrary, I rather strive with my-self to suppress whatever Vanity might naturally arise in me, from such Favour bestow’d. For whatever may, in the bottom, be intended me, by such a Treatment; ’tis impossible for me to term it other than Favour; since there are certain Enmitys, which it will be ever esteem’d a real Honour to have merited.
If, contrary to the Rule and Measure of Conversation, I have drawn the Company’s Attention towards me thus long, without affording them an Intermission, during my Recital; they will, I hope, excuse me, the rather, because they heard the other Recitals, and were Witnesses to the heavy Charge and personal Reflection, which without any real Provocation was made upon me in publick, by these Zealot-Gentlemen, to whom I have thus reply’d. And notwithstanding they may, after such Breaches of Charity as are usual with them, presume me equally out of Charity, on my own side; I will take upon me however to give them this good Advice, at parting: “That since they have of late been so elated by some seeming Advantages, and a Prosperity, which they are ill fitted to bear; they wou’d at least beware of accumulating too hastily those high Characters, Appellations, Titles, and Ensigns of Power, which may be Tokens, perhaps, of what they expect hereafter, but which, as yet, do not answer the real Power and Authority bestow’d on them.” The Garb and Countenance will be more graceful, when the Thing it-self is secur’d to ’em, and in their actual possession. Mean while, the Anticipation of high Titles, Honours, and nominal Dignitys, beyond the common Style and antient Usage; tho it may be highly fashionable at present, may not prove beneficial or advantageous in the end.
I wou’d, in particular, advise my elegant Antagonists of this Zealot-kind; That among the many Titles they assume to themselves, they wou’d be rather more sparing in that high-one of Embassador, till such time as they have just Means and Foundation to join that of Plenipotentiary together with it. For as matters stand hitherto in our British World, neither their Commission from the Sovereign, nor that which they pretend from Heaven, amounts to any absolute or determining Power.
The first holy Messengers (for That I take to be the highest apostolick Name) brought with them their proper Testimonials, in their Lives, their Manners and Behaviour; as well as in powerful Works,Miracles, and Signs from Heaven. And tho indeed it might well be esteem’d a Miracle in the kind, shou’d our presentMessengers go about to represent their Predecessors in any part of their Demeanour or Conversation; yet there are further Miracles remaining for ’em to perform, ere they can in modesty plead the Apostolick or Messenger-Authority. For tho, in the torrent of a sublime and figurative Style, a holy Apostle may have made use, perhaps, of such a Phrase as that of Embassy or Embassador, to express the Dignity of his Errand; ’twere to be wish’d that some who were never sent of any Errand or Message at all from Godhimself, wou’d use a modester Title to express their voluntary Negotiation between Us and Heaven.
I must confess, for my own part, that I think the Notion of an Embassy from thence to be at best somewhat high-strain’d, in the metaphorical way of Speech. But certain I am, that if there be any such Residentship or Agentship now establish’d; ’tis not immediately from Godhimself, but thro’ the Magistrate, and by the Prince or Sovereign Power here on Earth, that these Gentlemen-Agents are appointed, distinguish’d, and set over us. They have undoubtedly a * legal Charter, and Character, legal Titles, and Precedencys, legal Habits, Coats of Arms, Colours, Badges. But they may do well to consider, That a thousand Badges or Liverys bestow’d by Men merely, can never be sufficient to entitle ’em to the same Authority as Theirs, who bore the immediate Testimony and Miraculous Signs of Power, from Above. For in this case, there was need only of Eyes, and ordinary Senses, to distinguish the Commission, and acknowledg the Embassy or Message as divine.
But allowing it ever so certain a Truth, “That there has been a thousand or near two thousand Years Succession in this Commission of Embassy”: Where shall we find this Commission to have lain?—How has it been supply’d still, or renew’d?—How often dormant?—How often divided, even in one and the same Species of Claimants?—What Party are they, among Moderns, who by virtue of any immediate Testimonial from Heaven are thus intitled?—Where are the Letters-Patent?TheCredentials? For these shou’d, in the nature of the thing, be open, visible, and apparent.
A certain Indian of the Train of the Embassador-Princes sent to us lately from some of those Pagan Nations, being engag’d, one Sunday, in visiting our Churches, and happening to ask his Interpreter, “Who the eminent Persons were whom he observ’d haranguing so long, with such Authority from a high Place?” was answer’d, “They were Embassadors from the Almighty, or (according to the Indian Language) from the Sun.” Whether the Indian took this seriously or in raillery, did not appear. But having afterwards call’d in, as he went along, at the Chapels of some of his Brother-Embassadors, of the Romish Religion, and at some other Christian Dissenting Congregations, where Matters, as he perceiv’d, were transacted with greater Privacy, and inferior State; he ask’d, “Whether These also were Embassadors from the same Place.” He was answer’d, “That they had indeed been heretofore of the Embassy, and had Possession of the same chief Places he had seen: But they were now succeeded there, by Others.” “If those therefore,” reply’d the Indian, “were Embassadors from theSun;these, I take for granted, are from theMoon.”
Supposing, indeed, one had been no Pagan, but a good Christian; conversant in the original Holy Scriptures, but unacquainted with the Rites, Titles, Habits and Ceremonials, of which there is no mention in those Writings: Might one not have inquir’d, with humble Submission, into this Affair? Might one not have softly, and at a distance, apply’d for information concerning this highEmbassy; and addressing perhaps to some inferior Officer or Livery-Man of the Train, ask’d modestly, “How and Whence they came? Whose Equipage they appear’d in? At Whose Charges they were entertain’d? and by Whose Suffrage or Command appointed and authoriz’d?—Is it true, pray Sirs! that their Excellencys of the present Establishment, are the sole-commission’d? Or are there as many real Commissioners as there are Pretenders? If so; there can be no great danger for us, which-ever way we apply our-selves. We have ample Choice, and may adhere to whichCommissionwe like best. If there be only One single True-one; we have then, it seems, good reason to look about us, search narrowly into the Affair, be scrupulous in our Choice, and (as the current Physick-Bills admonish us) beware of Counterfeits; since there are so many of these abroad, with earthly Powers, and temporalCommissions, to back their spiritual Pretenses.”—
’Tis to be fear’d, in good earnest, that the Discernment of this kind will prove pretty difficult; especially amidst this universal Contention, Embroil, and Fury of religious Challengers, these high Defiances of contrary Believers, this zealous Opposition of Commission to Commission; and this Din of Hell, Anathema’s, and Damnations, rais’d every where by one religious Party against another.
So far are the pretendedly commission’d Partys from producing their Commission openly, or proving it from the original Record, or Court-Rolls of Heaven, that they deny us inspection into these very Records they plead, and refuse to submit their Title to human Judgment or Examination.
A Poet of our Nation insinuates indeed in their behalf, That they are fair enough in this respect. For when the murmuring People, speaking by their chosen Orator, or Spokes-man, to the Priests, says to ’em,
The Apologist afterwards excusing this Boldness of the People, and soothing the incens’d Priests with fairer Words, says to ’em, on a foot of Moderation, which he presumes to be their Character:
The Poet, it seems, never dreamt of a time when the very Countenance of Moderation shou’d be out of fashion with the Gentlemen of this Order, and the Word it-self exploded as unworthy of their Profession. And, indeed, so far are they at present from bearing with any Sceptick, or Inquirer, ever so modest or discreet, that to hear an Argument on a contrary side to theirs, or read whatever may be writ in answer to their particular Assertions, is made the highest Crime. Whilst they have among themselves such Differences, and sharp Debates, about their heavenlyCommission, and are even in one and the same Community or Establishment, divided into different Sects and Headships; they will allow no particular Survey or Inspection into the Foundations of their controverted Title. They wou’d have us inferior passive Mortals, amaz’d as we are, and beholding with astonishment from afar these tremendous Subjects of Dispute, wait blindfold the Event and final Decision of the Controversy. Nor is it enough that we are merely passive. ’Tis requir’d of us, That in the midst of this irreconcilable Debate concerning heavenly Authoritys and Powers, we shou’d be as confident of the Veracity of some one, as of the Imposture and Cheat of all the other Pretenders: and that believing firmly there is still A realCommission at the bottom, we shou’d endure the Misery of these Conflicts, and engage on one side or the other, as we happen to have our Birth or Education; till by Fire and Sword, Execution, Massacre, and a kind of Depopulation of this Earth, it be * determin’d at last amongst us, “Which is the trueCommission,exclusive of all others, and superior to the rest.”
HERE our secularGentleman, who in the latter end of his Discourse had already made several Motions and Gestures which betoken’d a Retreat, made his final Bow in form, and quitted the Place and Company for that time; till (as he told his Auditors) he had another Opportunity, and fresh Leisure to hear, in his turn, whatever his Antagonists might anew object to him, in a Manner more favourable and moderate; or, if they so approv’d, in the same Temper, and with the same Zeal as they had done before.
A Notion of the
Historical Draught or Tablature
of the Judgment of Hercules,
According to Prodicus,Lib. II. Xen. de Mem. Soc.
With a Letter concerning
Find more important Herculean tasks, hard labors,
than all the loves, the banquets, and the featherly
comforts of Sardanapolus.* Juv. Sat. 10.
Printed first in the Year M.DCC.XIII.
[* ] Scilicet uni aequus Virtuti, atque ejus Amicis.
[* ]Viz. The Letter concerning ENTHUSIASM.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 305.
[* ]Du 25 Mars, 1709.
[† ]Ses pensées ne semblent occuper dans son Ouvrage, que la place que le hazard leur a donnée. Ibid. pag. 181.
[‡ ] (1.) Bibliotheque Choisie, année 1709. Tome XIX. pag. 427.
(2.) Histoire des Ouvrages des Savans, Mois d’ Octobre, Novembre & Decembre, 1708. pag. 514.
(3.) Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres, Mois de Mars, 1710.
[* ]Ceux qui l’ont luë ont pû voir en général, que l’Auteur ne s’y est pas proposé un certain plan, pour traiter sa matiere methodiquement; parceque c’est une Lettre, & non un Traité. [Those who have read it have been able to see in general that the Author has not proposed there any particular plan, for the purpose of treating his material methodically; because it is a Letter and not a Treatise.] Bibliotheque Choisie. Ibid. pag. 428.
[† ] If in this joint Edition, with other Works, the Letter be made to pass under that general Name of Treatise; ’tis the Bookseller must account for it. For the Author’s part, he considers it as no other than what it originally was.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 233, 257, 258.
[† ] †’Tis not the Person, Character, or Genius, but the Style and Manner of this great Man, which we presume to censure. We acknowledg his noble Sentiments and worthy Actions. We own the Patriot, and good Minister: But we reject the Writer. He was the first of any Note or Worth who gave credit to that false Style and Manner here spoken of. He might, on this account, be call’d in reality The Corrupter ofRomanEloquence. This indeed cou’d not but naturally, and of it-self, become relax and dissolute, after such a Relaxation and Dissolution of Manners, consequent to the Change of Government, and to the horrid Luxury and Effeminacy of the Roman Court, even before the time of a Claudius, or a Nero. There was no more possibility of making a Stand for Language, than for Liberty. As the World now stood, the highest Glory which cou’d be attain’d by mortal Man, was to be Mitigator or Moderator of that universal Tyranny already establish’d. To this I must add, That in every City, Principality, or smaller Nation, where single WILL prevails, and Court-power, instead of Laws or Constitutions, guides the State; ’tis of the highest difficulty for the best Minister to procure a just, or even a tolerable Administration. Where such a Minister is found, who can but moderately influence the petty Tyranny, he deserves considerable Applause and Honour. But in the Case we have mention’d, where a universal Monarchy was actually establish’d, and the Interest of a whole World concern’d; He surely must have been esteem’d a Guardian-Angel, who, as a prime Minister, cou’d, for several Years, turn the very worst of Courts, and worst-condition’d of all Princes, to the fatherly Care and just Government of Mankind. Such a Minister was Seneca under an Agrippina and a Nero. And such he was acknowledg’d by the antient and never-sparing Satirists, who cou’d not forbear to celebrate, withal, his Generosity and Friendship in a private Life:
[No one asks for what used to be sent to his clients by Seneca, or what good-natured Piso or Cotta used to give; for the glory of liberality was once reckoned greater than inscriptions recording your high office.] Juvenal. Sat. v. ver. 108.
[Who is so abandoned as to hesitate to set Seneca above Nero?] Id. Sat. viii. ver. 211.
This Remark is what I have been tempted to make by the way, on the Character of this Roman Author, more mistaken (if I am not very much so my-self) than any other so generally study’d. As for the philosophick Character or Function imputed to him, ’twas foreign, and no-way proper or peculiar to one who never assum’d so much as that of Sophist, or Pensionary Teacher of Philosophy. He was far wide of any such Order, or Profession. There is great difference between a Courtier who takes a Fancy for Philosophy, and a Philosopher who shou’d take a Fancy for a Court. Now Seneca was born a Courtier; being Son of a Court-Rhetor: himself bred in the same manner, and taken into favour for his Wit and Genius, his admir’d Style and Eloquence; not for his Learning in the Books of Philosophy and the Antients. For this indeed was not very profound in him. In short, he was a Man of wonderful Wit, Fluency of Thought and Language, an able Minister, and honest Courtier. And what has been deliver’d down to his prejudice, is by the common Enemy of all the free and generous Romans, that apish shallow Historian, and Court-Flatterer, Dion Cassius, of a low Age, when Barbarism (as may be easily seen in his own Work) came on apace, and the very Traces and Features of Virtue, Science and Knowledg, were wearing out of the World.
[* ]Infra, p. 259, 260 in the Notes. And VOL. I. p. 146.
[* ]Viz. Letter concerning Enthusiasm, above. VOL. I. Treatise I.
[† ] VOL. I. pag. 54.
[* ]Viz. Treatise I. (Letter ofEnthusiasm) VOL. I. pag. 55. lin. 7.
[† ] VOL. II. p. 75, 105, 400, &c.
[‡ ] VOL. II. pag. 400.
[† ] ουδὲν μέρος Ὁμήρῳ ἄθεον, οὐδὲ δυνάστου ἄπορον, οὐδὲ ἀρχη̑ς ἔρημον, ἀλλὰ πάντα μεστὰ θείων ὀνομάτων καὶ θείων λόγων, καὶ θείας τέχνης. [No part in Homer is devoid of Gods, or bare of princes, or destitute of magistrates; but all is full of names and speeches and art of Gods.] Maximus Tyr. Dissert. xvi.
[‡ ]Viz.Lucretius. As above, VOL. I. p. 52.
[** ] κόσμος, Mundus. From whence that Expostulation, έν σοὶ μέν τις κόσμος ὑφίστασθαι δύναται, ἐν δὲ τῳ̑ παντὶ ἀκοσμία; M. Ant. Lib. iv. 27. [We might with correct etymology call the universe an order, but not a disorder.] And that other Allusion to the same word, κόσμον δ’ ἐτύμως τὸ σύμπαν, ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἀκοσμίαν ὀνομάσαις ἄν. [Or can a certain order subsist within thee, and none in the universe?] Below, pag. 264. in the Notes.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 138, 139, &c. VOL. II. pag. 100, 104, 5, 6.
[† ] VOL. II. pag. 429, 430.
[‡ ]The Honestum, Pulchrum, τὸ καλόν, πρέπον [the beautiful, the fitting]. Infra, pag. 182, &c.
[* ]Supra, pag. 32. And VOL. I. pag. 48, 49, 117, &c.
[1 ]Primus in orbe deos fecit timor.
[* ] Letter of Enthusiasm, VOL. I. pag. 49.
[† ] So The Stagirite: διὰ γὰρ τὸ θαυμὰζειν οἱ ἄνθρωτοι καὶ νυ̑ν καὶ τὸ πρω̑τον ἤρξαντο φιλοσοφει̑ν. [For it was through wonder that men first began, and do still begin, to philosophise.] Metaph. Lib. i. Cap. 2. See below, pag. 202, 203 in the Notes.
[‡ ] τὸ καλὸν καὶ ἀγαθόν [the beautiful and good].
[* ]Infra, pag. 130.
[* ] A Passage of History comes to my mind, as it is cited by an eminent Divine of our own Church, with regard to that Spirit of MARTYRDOM which furnishes, it seems, such solid Matter for the Opinion and Faith of many Zealots. The Story, in the words of our Divine, and with his own Reflections on it, is as follows: “Two Franciscans offer’d themselves to the Fire to prove Savanorola to be a Heretick. But a certain Jacobine offer’d himself to the Fire to prove that Savanorola had true Revelations, and was no Heretick. In the mean time Savanorola preach’d; but made no such confident Offer, nor durst he venture at that new kind of Fire-Ordeal. And put Case, all four had pass’d thro’ the Fire, and died in the flames; What wou’d that have prov’d? Had he been a Heretick, or no Heretick, the more, or the less, for the Confidence of these zealous Idiots? If we mark it, a great many Arguments whereon many Sects rely, are no better Probation than this comes to.” Bishop Taylor in his dedicatory Discourse, before his Liberty of Prophesying. See Letter of Enthusiasm, VOL. I. pag. 26, &c.
[* ]Infra, p. 90, 91.
[† ] Juvenal. Sat. xv. ver. 35. See VOL. II. p. 387, 388.
[‡ ] ἔστι δὲ Αἰγυπτίων έπτὰ γένεα· καὶ τούτων οἱ μέν, ἱρέες, οἱ δέ, μάχιμοι κεκλέαται.—οὐδὲ τούτοισιν ἔξεστι τέχνην ἐπασκη̑σαι οὐδεμίην, ἀλλὰ τὰ ἐς πόλε- μον ἐπασκέουσι μου̑να, παι̑ς παρὰ πατρὸς ἐκδεκόμενος. [The Egyptians are divided into seven classes—one of priests, one of warriors, etc. . . . The warriors may not practise any craft, but only that of war, which they inherit by birth.] Herodot. L. ii. §. 164.
ἱρα̑ται δὲ οὐκ εἱ̑ς ἑκάστου τω̑ν θεω̑ν, ἀλλὰ πολλοὶ . . ἐπεὰν δέ τις ἀποθάνῃ, τούτου ὁ παι̑ς ἀντικατίσταται. [Not one priest, but a whole college of priests, is consecrated to each god, . . . and when one priest dies his son is consecrated in his place.] Ibid. §. 37.
[* ] τη̑ς δὲ χώρας ἁπάσης εἰς τρία μέρη διῃρημένης, &c. Cum tota regio in tres partes divisa sit, primam sibi portionem vendicat ordo sacerdotum, magnâ apud indigenas auctoritate pollens, tum ob pietatem in deos, tum quod multam ex eruditione scientiam ejusmodi homines asserunt. Ex reditibus autem suis cuncta per AEgyptum sacrificia procurant, ministros alunt; & propriis commoditatibus ancillantur, ται̑ς ἰδίαις χρείαις χορηγου̑σιν. Non enim (AEgyptii) existimant fas esse deorum honores mutari, sed semper ab eisdem eodem ritu peragi, neque eos necessariorum copiâ destituti qui in commune omnibus consulunt. In universum namque de maximis rebus consulentes, indesinenter Regi praestò sunt, in nonnullis tanquam participes imperii, in aliis reges, duces & magistri (συνεργοί, εἰσηγηταί, διδάσκαλοι) existentes. Ex astrologia quoque & sacrorum inspectione, futura praedicunt, atque è sacrorum librorum scriptis res gestas cum utilitate conjunctas praelegunt. Non enim, ut apud Graecos, unus tantummodo vir, aut foemina una, sacerdotio fungitur; sed complures sacrificia & honores deûm obeuntes, liberis suis candem vitae rationem quasi per manus tradunt. Hi autem cunctis oneribus sunt immunes, & primos post Regem honoris & potestatis gradus obtinent. [The whole country being divided into three parts, the order of priests claims the first part. It enjoys great authority among the people, both for its piety toward the Gods and for its profound learning. Out of their revenues the priests find all the sacrifices for Egypt, pay their servants, and meet their own expenses. For the Egyptians do not think it lawful to change the rites of the Gods, but hold that they must be carried on unchanged by the same class of persons, and that those who watch for all must not lack bread. For the priests, perpetually watching for the general good, are ever by the king’s side; and in some matters they share his power, in some they act as fellow-workers, advisers, teachers. They also foretell the future from astronomy and from the examination of victims, and from their sacred books they give useful teaching in history. For it is not as with the Greeks, among whom one man or one woman holds a priesthood, but several Egyptian priests attend to sacrifices and ritual, and they pass on the same way of life by inheritance to their children. They are exempted from all taxes, and they enjoy the first rank and dignity after the king. (This text was originally written in Greek; Shaftesbury quotes the opening lines from the Greek, then proceeds to supply the entire passage in Latin.)] Diod. Sic. lib. i. pag. 66.
[* ]Infra, p. 79.
[* ] Which was one Third. βουλομένην δὲ τὴν Ἴσιν, &c. Sed cumIsislucro etiam Sacerdotes invitare vellet ad cultus istos, (nempeOsiridis,mariti fato functi) tertiam eis terrae partem εἰς προσόδους, ad Deorum ministeria & sacra munia, fruendam donavit. [But as Isis wished to encourage the priests by gain also to the worship of her dead husband Osiris, she granted them one-third of the country, to employ its revenues for divine duties and sacrifices. (Again, Shaftesbury quotes the introductory words in Greek, then quotes the entire passage in Latin.)] Diod. Sic. lib. i. A remarkable Effect of Female Superstition! See also the Passage of the same Historian, cited above, pag. 43. in the Notes.
[† ] See Treatise II. viz. Sensus Communis, (VOL. I.) pag. 85, &c. Herodotus gives us the History at length in his third Book.
[‡ ] Diod. Sic. lib. i. p. 17, & 73.
[** ] Herodot. Euterpe; & Diod. Sic. lib. iii.
[† ] κατὰ τὴν Μερόην οἱ περὶ τὰς τω̑ν θεω̑ν θεραπείας τε καὶ τιμὰς διατρίβοντες ἱερει̑ς, &c. Qui in Meroe (urbe, & insula primaria AEthiopum) Deorum cultus & honores administrant sacerdotes, (ordo autem hic maximâ pollet auctoritate) quandocumque ipsis in mentem venerit, misso ad Regem nuncio, vitâ se illum abdicare jubent. Oraculis enim Deorum hoc edici: nec fas esse ab ullo mortalium, quod Dii immortales jusserint, contemni. [The priests who look after the ritual and worship of the Gods at Meröe (and very great is the authority of this order) send word to the king, whenever they think fit, that he must die; for so (they say) the oracles of the Gods enjoin, and what Gods command no mortal must disobey.—Diod. Sic. iii. 6.]—So much for their Kings. For as to Subjects, the Manner was related a little before. Unus ex lictoribus ad reum mittitur, signum mortis praeferens: quo ille viso, domum abiens sibi mortem consciscit. [One of their attendants is sent to the accused, bearing a sign of death; whereupon the accused goes home and kills himself.—Diod. Sic. iii. 5.] This, the People of our days wou’d call Passive-Obedience and Priest-craft, with a witness. But our Historian proceeds—Et per superiores quidem aetates, non armis aut vi coacti, sed merae superstitionis, ὑπ ’αὐτη̑ς τη̑ς δεισιδαιμονίας fascino, mente capti reges sacerdotibus morem gesserunt: donecErgamenes,AEthiopum rex, (Ptolomaeosecundo rerum potiente) Graecorum disciplinae & philosophiae particeps, mandata illa primus adspernari ausus fuit. Nam hic animo, qui regem deceret, sumto, cum militum manu in locum inaccessum, ubi aureum fuit templum AEthiopum, profectus; omnes illos sacrificos jugulavit, & abolito more pristino, sacra pro arbitrio suo instauravit. [In former generations the kings, not forced by arms, but simply bewitched by superstition, obeyed the priests. But Ergamenes, king of the Ethiopians in the time of Ptolemy II., who was initiated into Greek philosophy, was the first to despise their orders. With kingly courage he marched his soldiers upon the inaccessible spot where stood the golden temple of the Ethiopians, cut down all the priests, abolished the old usage, and rearranged the ritual to his own liking. (In each of these Greek and Latin references, Shaftesbury opens the quotation in Greek and completes it in Latin.)] Diod. Sic. lib. iii.
[* ] ὡς δὲ αὐτοὶ λέγουσι, ἔτεά ἐστι ἑπτακισχίλια καὶ μύρια ἐσ Ἄμασιν βασιλεύ- σαντα, ἐπεί τε ἐκ τω̑ν ὀκτὼ θεω̑ν οἱ δυώδεκα θεοὶ ἐγένοντο. [By the Egyptians’ own story it is 17,000 years from the time when the eight Gods grew into twelve down to the reign of Amasis.] Herodot. lib. ii. sect. 43.
[‡ ] οἱ δὲ οὐ̑ν Αἰγύπτιοι, &c. AEgyptii plurimas colonias ex AEgypto in orbem terrarum disseminatas fuisse dicunt. In Babylonem colonos deduxit Belus, qui Neptuni & Libyae filius habetur: & positâ ad Euphratem sede, instituit sacerdotes ad morem AEgyptiorum exemptos impensis & oneribus publicis, quos Babylonii vocant Chaldaeos, qui, exemplo Sacerdotum & Physicorum, Astrologorumque in AEgypto, observant stellas. [The Egyptians say that very many colonies were scattered over the world from Egypt. Belus, who is reputed son of Poseidon and Libya, led colonists to Babylon. After planting his town on the Euphrates, he instituted priests after the Egyptian fashion, exempt from taxes and public burdens; these, whom the Babylonians call Chaldeans, like the priests and the men of science and the astronomers in Egypt, watch the stars. (Again, the passage is introduced with the Greek, then offered in its entirety in Latin.)] Diod. Sic. lib. i. p. 17. Ibid. p. 73.
[* ] Gen. cap. xii. ver. 10, &c.
[† ]Abramus, quando AEgyptum ingressus est, nondum circumcisus erat, neque per annos amplius viginti post reditum.—Illius posteri circumcisi sunt, & ante introitum, & dum in AEgypto commorati sunt: post exitum verò non sunt circumcisi, quamdiu vixit Moses.—Fecit itaque Josue cultros lapideos, & circumcidit filios Israel in Colle Praeputiorum. Factum Deus ratum habuit, dixitque, Hodie ἀφει̑λον τὸν ὀνειδισμὸν Αἰλύπτου ἀφ’ ὑμω̑ν, abstuli opprobrium AEgypti à vobis. Josue cap. 5. ver. 3. Tam AEgyptiis quàm Judaeis opprobrio erant incircumcisi.—Apud AEgyptios circumcidendi ritus vetustissimus fuit, & ἀπ’ ἀρχη̑ς ab ipso initio institutus. Illi nullorum aliorum hominum institutis uti volunt. [Abram, when he went into Egypt, had not yet been circumcised nor for more than twenty years after his return. . . . His descendants were not circumcised as long as Moses lived. Thus Joshua made polished stones and Israel circumcised its sons on the Hill of Foreskins. God held the deed valid and he said, Today I have taken away the censure of Egypt from you. Joshua ch. 5, v. 3. So they were uncircumcised as a disgrace to the Egyptians rather than the Judeans. Among the Egyptians the rite of circumcision was very long standing and they were willing to use the practices no other men use.] Herodot. lib. 2. cap. 91. τὰ αἰδοι̑α ᾠ̑ ἄλλοι μὲν ἐω̑σι ὡς ἐλένοντο, πλὴν ὅσοι ἀπὸ τούτων ἔμαθον· Αἰγύπτιοι δὲ περιτάμνονται. [The Egyptians practise circumcision, but no other people do so except those who have learned it from the Egyptians.] Herod. lib. ii. cap. 36. Marshami Chronicus Canon, p. 72.
[* ] Gen. cap. xvii.
[† ] Julius Firmicus, apud Marshamum, p. 452, 453.
[‡ ] It can scarce be said in reality, from what appears in Holy Writ, that their Retreat was voluntary: And for the Historians of other Nations, they have presum’d to assert that this People was actually expel’d Egypt on account of their Leprosy; to which the Jewish Laws appear to have so great a Reference. Thus Tacitus:Plurimi auctores consentiunt, ortâ per AEgyptum tabe, quae corpora foedaret, regem Occhorim, adito Hammonis oraculo, remedium petentem, purgare regnum, & id genus hominum ut invisum Deis, alias in terras avehere jussum. Sic conquisitum collectumque vulgus,—Mosen unum monuisse, &c. [Several authors agree that when a disfiguring disease spread among the Egyptians, king Bocchoris consulted the oracle of Hammon, and was bidden to purge the kingdom and remove from it that class of men (the sick) as offensive to the Gods. So when the mob was hunted up and got together . . . Moses alone advised.] Hist. lib. v. c. 3. AEgyptii, quum scabiem & vitiliginem paterentur, responso moniti eum (Mosen) cum aegris, ne pestis ad plures serperet, terminis AEgypti pellunt. Dux igitur exulum factus, sacra AEgyptiorum furto abstulit: quae repetentes armis AEgyptii, domum redire tempestatibus compulsi sunt. [When the Egyptians were suffering from leprosy they were warned by an oracle to expel Moses and the sick from Egypt, lest the disease should spread further. Becoming therefore leader of the exiles, Moses stole the sacred objects of the Egyptians; and when the Egyptians tried to recapture these, they were driven home by storms.] Justin. lib. xxxvi. c. 2. And in Marsham we find this remarkable Citation from Manetho: Amenophin regem affectasse θεω̑ν γενέσθαι θεατήν, ὤσπερ Ω̑̓ρ εἰ̑ς τω̑ν πρὸ αὐτου̑ βεβασιλευκότων, Deorum esse contemplatorem, sicut Orum quendam Regum priorum. Cui responsum est, ὅτι δυνήσεται θεοὺς ἰδει̑ν, quòd posset videre Deos, si Regionem à leprosis & immundis hominibus purgaret. [That king Amenophis desired to see the Gods, like Orus, an earlier king, and received the answer from an oracle that he might see the Gods if he cleared the country of filthy lepers.] Chronicus Canon, p. 52.
[* ] See what is cited above (p. 52. in the Notes from Marsham) of the Jews returning to Circumcision under Joshua, after a Generation’s Intermission: This being approv’d by God, for the reason given, “That it was taking from them the Reproach of the Egyptians, or what render’d them odious and impious in the eyes of that People.” Compare with this the Passage concerning Moses himself, Exod. iv. 18, 25, 26. (together with Acts vii. 30, 34.) where in regard to the Egyptians, to whom he was now returning when fourscore years of Age, he appears to have circumcis’d his Children, and taken off this National Reproach:Zipporah his Wife, nevertheless, reproaching him with the Bloodiness of the Deed; to which she appears to have been a Party only thro’ Necessity, and in fear rather of her Husband, than of GOD.
[† ] Ezek. xx. 25. Acts xv. 10. Of these AEgyptian Institutions receiv’d amongst the Jews, see our Spencer.Cum morum quorundam antiquorum toleratio vi magnâ polleret, ad Hebraeorum animos Dei legi & cultui conciliandus, & à reformatione Mosaicâ invidiam omnem amoliretur; maximè conveniebat, ut Deus ritus aliquos antiquitùs usitatos in sacrorum suorum numerum assumeret, & lex à Mose data speciem aliquam cultus olim recepti ferret.—Ita nempe nati factique erant Israelitae, ex AEgypto recens egressi, quod Deo penè necesse esset (humanitùs loqui fas sit) rituum aliquorum veterum usum iis indulgere, & illius instituta ad eorum morem & modulum accommodare. Nam populus erat à teneris AEgypti moribus assuetus, & in iis multorum annorum usu confirmatus.—Hebraei, non tantum AEgypti moribus assueti, sed etiam refractarii fuerunt.—Quemadmodum cujusque regionis & terrae populo sua sunt ingenia, moresque proprii, ita natura gentem Hebraeorum, praeter caeteres orbis incolas, ingenio moroso, difficili, & ad infamiam usque pertinaci, finxit.—Cum itaque veteres Hebraei moribus essent asperis & efferatis adeò, populi conditio postulavit, ut Deus ritus aliquos usu veteri firmatos iis concederet, & νομικὴν λατρείαν τῃ̑ ἑαυτω̑ν ἀσθενείᾳ συμβαίνουσαν (uti loquitur Theodoretus) cultum legalem eorum infirmitati accommodatum instituerit.—Hebraei superstitiosa gens erant, & omni pene literaturá destituti. Quam altè Gentium superstitionibus immergebantur, è legibus intelligere licet, quae populo tanquam remedia superstitionis imponebantur. Contumax autem bellua superstitio, si praesertim ab ignorantiae tenebris novam ferociam & contumaciam hauserit. Facilè verò credi potest, Israelitas, nuper è servorum domo liberatos, artium humaniorum rudes fuisse, & vix quicquam supra lateres atque allium AEgypti sapuisse. Quando itaque Deo jam negotium esset, cum populo tam barbaro, & superstitioni tam impensè dedito; penè necesse fuit, ut aliquid eorum infirmitati daret, eosque dolo quodam (non argumentis) ad scripsum alliceret. Nullum animal superstitioso, rudi praecipuè, morosius est, aut majori arte tractandum. [When the acceptance of the old-fashioned morals was prevailing with great strength to reconcile the minds of the Hebrews to the laws and sacrificial rites of God and was removing all the ill-will from the Mosaic reformation, it was especially appropriate that God received some rites customary in former times into the number of his own sacred rituals and that the law given by Moses carried some aspect of these assimilated practices. Certainly the Israelites had been so born and reared, having departed from Egypt only recently, that it was almost necessary to God (it is right to say humane) to indulge them in the practice of some of their former rituals and to adapt his laws to their habit and standard. For they were a people habituated from childhood to the customs of the Egyptians and confirmed in them by the practice of many years. . . . The Hebrews were accustomed not only to the manners of the Egyptians but also to their obstinacies. . . . Just as a people from whatever locale and country have their own distinct character and habits peculiar to them, so nature fashioned the race of the Hebrews in distinction from the rest of the inhabitants of the world in disposition: capricious, difficult and stubborn even to the point of disgrace. . . . Therefore since the old Hebrews had such harsh and savage manners, the character of the people demanded that God would allow them some rituals of long-standing usage and a lawful servitude happened to them due to their own weakness; (just as Theodorus says) he established the ritual law suited to their weaknesses. . . . The Hebrews were a race full of superstitions and were almost destitute of all writing. How deeply they were immersed in the superstitions of the race you may understand from the laws which were being imposed on the people as if they were antidotes for superstitions. Moreover stiff-necked superstition is a monster, especially if from blind ignorance it will have drunk in a new ferocity and obstinacy. In truth it can easily be believed that the Israelites recently freed from slavery were untutored in civilized arts and scarcely had a taste for anything beyond the bricks and garlic of the Egyptians. And so since now God had a duty to people so barbarous and so thoroughly dedicated to superstition it was almost necessary that he give something to the inconstancy of those weak men and would draw them to himself by a certain trick (not by arguments). No animal is more full of dread, so especially ignorant, more wayward or in need of being taken in hand with greater skill.] Spencerus de Leg. Hebr. pag. 627, 628, 629.
[* ] (1.) καὶ ἐπαιδεύθη Μωση̑ς πάσῃ σοφίᾳ Αἰλυπτίων· ἠ̑ν δὲ δυνατὸς ἐν λόγοις καὶ ἐν ἔργοις. Act. Apost. cap. vii. ver. 22. [(εν is in the Loeb edition, but not in Shaftesbury’s.—ES) And Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. And he was powerful in speeches and in deeds. (Loosely paraphrased/translated by Shaftesbury in the main text.)]
(2.) Exod. cap. vii. ver. 11, & 22.
(3.) Ibid. cap. viii. ver. 7.
(4.) Justin. lib. xxxvi. cap. 2.
[† ] Gen. cap. xxxix, &c. Minimus aetate inter fratres Joseph fuit, cujus excellens ingenium veriti fratres clam interceptum peregrinis mercatoribus vendiderunt. A quibus deportatus in AEgyptum, cùm magicas ibi artes solerti ingenio percepisset, brevi ipsi Regi percarus fuit [Joseph was the youngest of the brothers, and they, fearing his cleverness, kidnapped him and sold him to foreign merchants. These men carried him to Egypt, where he quickly learned magic and rose to high favour even with the king.] Justin. lib. xxxvi. c. 2.
[* ] Gen. xlvii. ver. 22, 26.
[† ] Gen. xli. ver. 45.
[‡ ] Exod. chap. iii. ver. 1. and chap. xviii. ver. 1, &c.
[** ] Such were the Midianites, Gen. xxxvii. ver. 28, 36.
[†† ] Exod. xviii. ver. 17–24.
[* ]Dryden, Indian Emperor, Act v. Scene 2.
[† ]Infra, pag. 81.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 221, 222, & 350. in the Notes. And Infra, pag. 79, 80, 1, 2, &c.
[† ]OEDIPUS of Dryden and Lee.
[* ]Viz. In his Letter concerning Enthusiasm, VOL. I.
[† ] Dr. Cudworth’s Intellectual System, pag. 134.
[‡ ] The good Doctor makes use, here, of a Stroke of Raillery against the over-frighted anti-superstitious Gentlemen, with whom our Author reasons at large in his second Treatise (viz. VOL. I. pag. 85, 86, &c. and 88, 89, &c.). ’Tis indeed the Nature of Fear, as of all other Passions, when excessive, to defeat its own End, and prevent us in the execution of what we naturally propose to our-selves as our Advantage. Superstition it-self is but a certain kind of Fear, which possessing us strongly with the apprehended Wrath or Displeasure of Divine Powers, hinders us from judging what those Powers are in themselves, or what Conduct of ours may, with best reason, be thought sutable to such highly rational and superior Natures. Now if from the Experience of many gross Delusions of a superstitious kind, the Course of this Fear begins to turn; ’tis natural for it to run, with equal violence, a contrary way. The extreme Passion for religious Objects passes into an Aversion. And a certain Horror and Dread of Imposture causes as great a Disturbance as even Imposture it-self had done before. In such a Situation as this, the Mind may easily be blinded; as well in one respect, as in the other. ’Tis plain, both these Disorders carry something with them which discover us to be in some manner beside our Reason, and out of the right use of Judgment and Understanding. For how can we be said to intrust or use our Reason, if in any case we fear to be convinc’d? How are we Masters of our-selves, when we have acquir’d the Habit of bringing Horror, Aversion, Favour, Fondness, or any other Temper than that of mere Indifference and Impartiality, into the Judgment of Opinions, and Search of Truth?
[* ] Dr. More, §. 11, 19, 20, and so on.
[† ] §. 16.
[‡ ] It appears from hence, that in the Notion which this learned Divine gives us of Enthusiasm, he comprehends the social or popular Genius of the Passion; agreeably with what our Author in his Letter concerning Enthusiasm (p. 15, 16, 44, 45.) has said of the Influence and Power of the Assembly and Auditory it-self, and of the communicative Force and rapid Progress of this extatick Fervor, once kindled, and set in action.
[** ] §. 20, 21, 23, 26.
[* ] Acts ii. 13.
[† ] §. 1.
[‡ ] §. 15.
[** ] §. 30, & 57.
[†† ] VOL. I. p. 53.
[‡‡ ] §. 63.
[(a) ] §. 28.
[* ]NATURA RERUM omnibus viventibus indidit metum & formidinem, vitae atque essentiae suae conservatricem, ac mala ingruentia vitantem & depellentem. Veruntamen eadem Natura modum tenere nescia est, sed timoribus salutaribus semper vanos & inanes admiscet: adeò ut omnia (si intus conspici darentur) Panicis Terroribus plenissima sint, praesertim humana; & maximè omnium apud vulgum, qui superstitione (quae verè nihil aliud quàm Panicus Terror est) in immensum laborat & agitatur; praecipuè temporibus duris & trepidis, & adversis. Franciscus Bacon de Augment. Scient. lib. ii. c. 13. [The nature of things, she who defends life and her own being, avoiding evil attacks and repelling them, gives to all living creatures dread and awe. Nevertheless the same nature does not know how to keep within a limit but mixes vain and empty alarms with advantageous ones to such an extent that all creatures, especially human beings are very full of panicky fears (if they were allowed to be seen within ourselves) and especially in the mind of the common crowd, the sort who of all men struggle and are troubled exceedingly by superstition (which is actually nothing other than panic) principally in harsh times and in anxious and unfortunate moments.]
The Author of the Letter, I dare say, wou’d have expected no quarter from his Criticks, had he express’d himself as this celebrated Author here quoted; who, by his Natura Rerum, can mean nothing less than the Universal Dispensing Nature, erring blindly in the very first Design, Contrivance, or original Frame of Things; according to the Opinion of Epicurus himself, whom this Author, immediately after, cites with Praise.
[† ]Viz. The Letter concerning Enthusiasm, above, VOL. I.
[* ]Infra, pag. 315.
[† ] VOL. I. pag. 44, 45, &c. And VOL. II. pag. 322, 323, &c.
[‡ ] VOL. I. pag. 360, 1, 2, &c. And Infra, pag. 103, 231, 315, 316.
[** ] VOL. II. pag. 205, 206, & 323, &c. And Infra, pag. 317, 318, &c.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 146, 147. And Infra, pag. 316, 317, 320, &c.
[* ] 2 Cor. xii, ver. 2, 3.
[† ] 1 Cor. vii. 10, 12.
[‡ ] 1 Cor. vii. 40.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 220, &c. And in the preceding Chapter, pag. 61.
[† ] VOL. I. pag. 133. And below, pag. 90.
[‡ ] How rich and vast these were, especially in the latter times of that Empire, may be judg’d from what belong’d to the single Order of the Vestals, and what we read of the Revenues belonging to the Temples of the Sun, (as in the time of the Monster Heliogabalus) and of other Donations by other Emperors. But what may give us yet a greater Idea of these Riches, is, That in the latter Heathen Times, which grew more and more superstitious, the restraining Laws (or Statues of Mort-main) by which Men had formerly been with-held from giving away Estates by Will, or otherwise, to Religious Uses, were repeal’d; and the Heathen-Church left, in this manner, as a bottomless Gulph and devouring Receptacle of Land and Treasure. Senatûs-consulto, & Constitutionibus Principum, Haeredes instituere concessum est Apollinem Didymaeum, Dianam Ephesiam, Matrem Deorum, &c. [By decree of the Senate and by the imperial orders of the Emperor it is granted to establish as heirs Didymean Apollo, Ephesian Diana, mother of the gods, etc.]
This answers not amiss to the modern Practice and Expression of Making our Soul our Heir: Giving to God what has been taken sometimes with freedom enough from Man; and conveying Estates in such a manner in this World, as to make good Interest of them in another. The Reproach of the antient Satirist is at present out of doors. ’Tis no affront to Religion now-a-days to compute its Profits. And a Man might well be accounted dull, who, in our present Age, shou’d ask the Question, Dicite, Pontifices, in sacro quid facit Aurum? Pers. Sat. ii. ver. 69. [Reverend pontiffs, tell us what good gold can do in a holy place?] See below, pag. 90, and 125. in the Notes, and 88. ibid.
[* ] As above, pag. 61.
[† ]Supra, pag. 42, 46, 47, 60. And VOL. I. pag. 350. in the Notes.
[* ]Infra, pag. 323, 3, 4. in the Notes. Et supra, p. 61.
[† ] Let any one who considers distinctly the Meaning and Force of the word BIGOTRY, endeavour to render it in either of the antient Languages, and he will find how peculiar a Passion it implies; and how different from the mere Affection of Enthusiasm or Superstition.
[* ] The Magnificence and Beauty of that Temple is well known to all who have form’d any Idea of the antient Grecian Arts and Workmanship. It seems to me to be remarkable in our learned and elegant Apostle, that tho an Enemy to this mechanical Spirit of Religion in the Ephesians; yet according to his known Character, he accommodates himself to their Humour, and the natural Turn of their Enthusiasm; by writing to his Converts in a kind of Architect-Style, and almost with a perpetual Allusion to Building, and to that Majesty, Order, and Beauty, of which their Temple was a Master-piece. ἐποικοδομηθέντες ἐπὶ τῳ̑ θεμελίῳ τω̑ν ἀποστόλων καὶ προφητω̑ν, ὄντος ἀκογωνιαίου αὐτου̑ Ἰησου̑ Χριστου̑ ἐν ᾠ̑ πα̑σα ἡ οἰκοδομὴ συναρμολγουμένη αὔξει εἰς ναὸν ἅγιον ἐν Κυρίῳ, ἐν ᾠ̑ καὶ ὑμει̑ς συνοικοδομει̑σθε εἰς κατοικητήριον του̑ Θεου̑ ἐν πνεύματι. [You are built upon the foundations of the apostles and the prophets, with Jesus Christ himself being the cornerstone on which the entire framed-together structure grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In this, even you will be built in together into a dwelling place for God in spirit.]—Eph. ch. ii. ver. 20, 21, 22. And so Ch. iii. ver. 17, 18, &c. And Ch. iv. ver. 16, 29.
[† ] Act. Apost. chap. xix. ver. 23.
[‡ ] Ibid. ver. 28, & 34.
[* ] Act. Apost. chap. xix. ver. 32.
[† ] Letter of Enthusiasm, VOL. I. pag. 15.
[‡ ] Act. Apost. chap. xix. ver. 25, &c.
[** ] *Letter of Enthusiasm, VOL. I. pag. 16, &c.
[* ] Thus the Controversy stood before the Time of the Emperor Julian, when Blood had been so freely drawn, and Crueltys so frequently exchang’d not only between Christian and Heathen, but between Christian and Christian; after the most barbarous manner. What the Zeal was of many early Christians against the Idolatry of the old Heathen Church (at that time the establish’d one) may be comprehended by any Person who is ever so slenderly vers’d in the History of those Times. Nor can it be said indeed of us Moderns, that in the quality of good Christians (as that Character is generally understood) we are found either backward or scrupulous in assigning to Perdition such Wretches as we pronounce guilty of Idolatry. The name Idolater is sufficient Excuse for almost any kind of Insult against the Person, and much more against the Worship of such a Mis-Believer. The very word Christian is in common Language us’d for Man, in opposition to Brute-Beast, without leaving so much as a middle place for the poor Heathen or Pagan: who, as the greater Beast of the two, is naturally doom’d to Massacre, and his Gods and Temples to Fracture and Demolishment. Nor are we masters of this Passion, even in our best humour. The French Poets, we see, can with great Success, and general Applause, exhibit this primitive Zeal even on the publick Stage: Polyeucte, Act II. Sc. 6.
I shou’d scarce have mention’d this, but that it came into my mind how ill a Construction some People have endeavour’d to make of what our Author, stating the Case of Heathen and Christian Persecution, in his Letter of Enthusiasm, has said concerning the Emperor Julian. It was no more indeed than had been said of that virtuous and gallant Emperor by his greatest Enemys; even by those who, to the shame of Christianity, boasted of his having been most insolently affronted on all occasions, and even treacherously assassinated by one of his Christian Soldiers. As for such Authors as these, shou’d I cite them in their proper invective Style and Saint-like Phrase, they wou’d make no very agreeable appearance, especially in Miscellanys of the kind we have here undertaken. But a Letter of that elegant and witty Emperor, may not be improperly plac’d amongst our Citations, as a Pattern of his Humour and Genius, as well as of his Principle and Sentiments, on this occasion. Julian’s Epistles, Numb. 52.
Julian to the Bostrens.
“I should have thought, indeed, that the Galilaean Leaders wou’d have esteem’d themselves more indebted to me, than to him who preceded me in the Administration of the Empire. For in his time, many of them suffer’d Exile, Persecution, and Imprisonment. Multitudes of those whom in their Religion they term Hereticks, were put to the sword. Insomuch that in Samosata, Cyzicum, Paphlagonia, Bithynia, Galatia, and many other Countrys, whole Towns were level’d with the Earth. The just Reverse of this has been observ’d in my time. The Exiles have been recall’d; and the Proscrib’d restor’d to the lawful Possession of their Estates. But to that height of Fury and Distraction are this People arriv’d, that being no longer allow’d the Privilege to tyrannize over one another, or persecute either their own Sectarys, or the Religious of the lawful Church, they swell with rage, and leave no stone unturn’d, no opportunity unimploy’d, of raising Tumult and Sedition. So little regard have they to true Piety; so little Obedience to our Laws and Constitutions; however humane and tolerating. For still do we determine and steddily resolve, never to suffer one of them to be drawn involuntarily to our Altars. * * * As for the mere People, indeed, they appear driven to these Riots and Seditions by those amongst them whom they call CLERICKS: who are now enrag’d to find themselves restrain’d in the use of their former Power and intemperate Rule. * * * They can no longer act the Magistrate or Civil Judg, nor assume Authority to make Peoples Wills, supplant Relations, possess themselves of other Mens Patrimonys, and by specious Pretences transfer all into their own possession. * * * For this reason I have thought fit, by this Publick EDICT, to forewarn the People of this sort, that they raise no more Commotions, nor gather in a riotous manner about their seditious CLERICKS, in defiance of the Magistrate, who has been insulted and in danger of being ston’d by these incited Rabbles. In their Congregations they may, notwithstanding, assemble as they please, and croud about their Leaders, performing Worship, receiving Doctrine, and praying, according as they are by them taught and conducted: But if with any Tendency to Sedition; let them beware how they hearken, or give assent; and remember, ’tis at their peril, if by these means they are secretly wrought up to Mutiny and Insurrection. * * * Live, therefore, in Peace and Quietness! neither spitefully opposing, or injuriously treating one another. You misguided People of the new way, Beware, on your side! And you of the antient and establish’d Church, injure not your Neighbours and Fellow-Citizens, who are enthusiastically led away, in Ignorance and Mistake, rather than with Design or Malice! ’Tis by DISCOURSE and REASON, not by Blows, Insults, or Violence, that Men are to be inform’d of Truth, and convinc’d of Error. Again therefore and again I enjoin and charge the zealous Followers of the true Religion, no way to injure, molest, or affront the Galilaean People.”
Thus the generous and mild Emperor; whom we may indeed call Heathen, but not so justly Apostate: since being, at different times of his Youth, transfer’d to different Schools or Universitys, and bred under Tutors of each Religion, as well Heathen as Christian; he happen’d, when of full age, to make his choice (tho very unfortunately) in the former kind, and adher’d to the antient Religion of his Country and Forefathers. See the same Emperor’s Letters to Artabius, Numb. 7. and to Hecebolus, Numb. 43. and to the People of Alexandria, Numb. 10. See VOL. I. pag. 25.
[* ]Infra, pag. 343.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 133. Supra, 78, 79.
[† ] VOL. II. pag. 270, 271.
[‡ ]Supra, pag. 41.
[** ] When this victorious Ravager was in full March to Rome, St. Leo (the then Pope) went out to meet him in solemn Pomp. The Goth was struck with the Appearance, obey’d the Priest, and retir’d instantly with his whole Army in a panick Fear; alledging that among the rest of the Pontifical Train, he had seen one of an extraordinary Form, who threaten’d him with Death, if he did not instantly retire. Of this important Encounter there are in St. Peter’s Church, in the Vatican, and elsewhere, at Rome, many fine Sculptures, Paintings, and Representations, deservingly made, in honour of the Miracle.
[* ] Witness the Case of Molinos, and of the pious, worthy and ingenious AbbéFenelon, now Archbishop of Cambray.
[* ]Infra, pag. 110.
[† ]O Imitatores, servum pecus! Horat. Lib. i. Ep. 19. ver. 19.
[* ]Viz. Essay on the Freedom of Wit and Humour, VOL. I.
[* ] Letter of Enthusiasm, VOL. I. pag. 34.
[* ]Supra, pag. 94.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 94. and VOL. II. pag. 334.
[* ] Letter of Enthusiasm, VOL. I. pag. 29. And above, pag. 55, 56.
[† ] Numb. Ch. xii. ver. 3.
[‡ ] Exod. Ch. xxxii. ver. 27, &c. And Numb. Ch. xvi. ver. 41.
[** ] 1 Sam. Ch. xviii. ver. 10. And Ch. xix. ver. 9.
[†† ] Ibid. ver. 23, 24.
[‡‡ ] Letter of Enthusiasm, VOL. I. pag. 45.
[(a) ] 2 Sam. Ch. vi. ver. 5, 14, & 16.
[* ] Ibid. ver. 22.
[† ] Tho this Dance was not perform’d quite naked, the Dancers, it seems, were so slightly cloth’d, that in respect of Modesty, they might as well have wore nothing: their Nakedness appearing still by means of their high Caperings, Leaps, and violent Attitudes, which were proper to this Dance. The Reader, if he be curious, may examine what relation this religious Extasy and naked Dance had to the naked and processional Prophecy; (1 Sam. Ch. xix. ver. 23, & 24.) where Prince, Priest, and People prophesy’d in conjunction: the Prince himself being both of the itinerant and naked Party. It appears that even before he was yet advanc’d to the Throne, he had been seiz’d with this prophesying Spirit errant, processional, and saltant, attended, as we find, with a sort of Martial Dance perform’d in Troops or Companys, with Pipe and Tabret accompanying the March, together with Psaltry, Harp, Cornets, Timbrels, and other variety of Musick. See 1 Sam. Ch. x. ver. 5. and Ch. xix. ver. 23, 24, &c. and 2 Sam. Ch. vi. ver. 5. And above, Letter of Enthusiasm, VOL. I. pag. 45.
[* ] Jonah, Ch. i, &c.
[† ] Ibid. Ch. ii. ver. 8.
[‡ ] Ch. iii. ver. 1, &c.
[** ] Jonah, Ch. iv. ver. 1, 2, 3.
[†† ] Ver. 4, 5, 6.
[* ] Ver. 7, 8.
[† ] Ver. 9.
[‡ ] See the last Verse of this Prophet.
[** ] Gen. Ch. iii. ver. 9, &c.
[†† ] Numb. Ch. xxii. ver. 28, &c.
[‡‡ ] (1.) Job, Ch. i, & ii.
(2.) 2 Chron. Ch. xviii. ver. 18, 19, &c.
[* ] See Burnet,Archaeol. cap. 7. p. 280, &c.
[† ] St John, Chap. ii. ver. 11.
[‡ ] Above, Chap. i, ii.
[** ] VOL. I. pag. 237.
[* ] Gen. chap. xxii. ver. 1, 2, &c. and Judg. chap. xi. ver. 30, 31, &c.
These Places relating to Abraham and Jephthah, are cited only with respect to the Notion which these Primitive Warriors may be said to have entertain’d concerning this horrid Enormity, so common among the Inhabitants of the Palestine and other neighbouring Nations. It appears that even the elder of these Hebrew Princes was under no extreme Surprize on this trying Revelation. Nor did he think of expostulating, in the least, on this occasion; when at another time he cou’d be so importunate for the Pardon of an inhospitable, murderous, impious and incestuous City; Gen. xviii. 23, &c. See Marsham’s Citations, pag. 76, 77. Ex istis satius est colligere hanc Abrahami Tentationem non fuisse κεκαινουργημένην πράξιν, actionem innovatam; non recens excogitatam, sed ad pristinos Cananaeorum mores designatam. [From these facts it is preferable to deduce that the trial of Abraham was not a new action, not a new action, not a recent invention but one chosen in accordance with the former customs of the Canaanites.] See the learned Capel’s Dissertation upon Jephthah; “Ex hujus voti Lege (Lev. xxvii. ver. 28, 29.) JEPHTE Filiam omnino videtur immolasse, hoc est, morte affecisse, & executus est in eâ votum quod ipse voyerat, Jud. xi. 39.” [From the law of this hold promise Jephthah is understood to have sacrificed his daughter completely, that is, to have bound her by death, and the pledge was carried out against her which he himself had vowed.]
[† ] See VOL. I. pag. 35.
[‡ ] [You are not the man to make higgling prayers. . . . It is not everyone who is ready to do away with muttering and whispering from our temples. . . . What is your view of Jupiter? May I assume that you would think of putting him above—‘above whom?’ . . . What is the price you pay for the ears of the Gods? . . . O ye souls that cleave to earth and have nothing heavenly in you! How can it answer to introduce the spirit of the age into the temple-service, and infer what the Gods like from this sinful pampered flesh of ours?]
[It is not for me to betake myself to pitiful entreaties if my mast roar with the south-west wind.]
[* ] ὡ̑ βάρβαρ’ ἐξευρόντες Ἕλληνες κατὰ [Note: In the Loeb edition of Plutarch’s Moralia, vol. 2, “On Superstition,” this reads κακα, not κατα], τῃ̑ δεισιδαιμονίᾳ, πηλώσεις, καταβαρβαρώσεις, σαββατισμούς, ῥίψεις ἐπὶ πρόσωπον αἰσχράς, προ- σκαθίσεις, ἀλλοκότους προσκυνήσεις, &c.† [Note: In the Loeb edition, “wicked” (αισχρας) is preceded by a comma, rather than being followed by a comma.] “O wretchedGreeks!” (says he, speaking to his then declining Countrymen) “who in a way of Superstition run so easily into the Relish of barbarous Nations, and bring into Religion that frightful Mein of sordid and vilifying Devotion, ill-favour’d Humiliation and Contrition, abject Looks and Countenances, Consternations, Prostrations, Disfigurations, and, in the Act of Worship, Distortions, constrain’d and painful Postures of the Body, wry Faces, beggerly Tones, Mumpings, Grimaces, Cringings, and the rest of this kind—A shame indeed to us Grecians!—For to us, we know, ’tis prescrib’d from of old by our peculiar Laws concerning Musick, and the publick Chorus’s, that we shou’d perform in the handsomest manner, and with a just and manly Countenance, avoiding those Grimaces and Contortions of which some Singers contract a Habit. And shall we not in the more immediate Worship of the DEITY preserve this liberal Air and manly Appearance? Or, on the contrary, whilst we are nicely observant of other Forms and Decencys in the Temple, shall we neglect this greater Decency in Voice, Words, and Manners; and with vile Cries, Fawnings, and prostitute Behaviour, betray the natural Dignity and Majesty of that Divine Religion and National Worship deliver’d down to us by our Forefathers, and purg’d from every thing of a barbarous and savage kind?”
What Plutarch mentions here, of the just Countenance or liberal Air, the στόμα δίκαιον, of the Musical Performer, is agreeably illustrated in his Alcibiades. ’Twas that heroick Youth, who, as appears by this Historian, first gave occasion to the Athenians of the higher Rank wholly to abandon the use of Flutes; which had before been highly in favour with them. The Reason given, was “the illiberal Air which attended such Performers, and the unmanly Disfiguration of their Looks and Countenance, which this Piping-work produc’d.” As for the real Figure or Plight of the superstitious Mind, our Author thus describes it: “Gladly wou’d the poor comfortless Mind, by whiles, keep Festival and rejoice: But such as its Religion is, there can be no free Mirth or Joy belonging to it. Publick Thanksgivings are but private Mournings. Sighs and Sorrows accompany its Praises. Fears and Horrors corrupt its best Affections. When it assumes the outward Ornaments of best Apparel for the Temple, it even then strikes Melancholy, and appears in Paleness and ghastly Looks. While it worships, it trembles. It sends up Vows in faint and feeble Voices, with eager Hopes, Desires, and Passions, discoverable in the whole Disorder of the outward Frame: and, in the main, it evinces plainly by Practice, that the Notion ofPythagoraswas but vain, who dar’d assert, That we were then in the best State, and carry’d our most becoming Looks with us, when we approach’d the Gods. For then, above all other Seasons, are the Superstitious found in the most abject miserable State of Mind, and with the meanest Presence and Behaviour; approaching the Sacred Shrines of the Divine Powers in the same manner as they wou’d the Dens of Bears or Lions, the Caves of Basilisks or Dragons, or other hideous Recesses of wild Beasts or raging Monsters. To me therefore it appears wonderful, that we shou’d arraign Atheism as impious; whilst Superstition escapes the Charge. Shall he who holds there are no Divine Powers, be esteem’d impious; and shall not he be esteem’d far more impious, who holds the Divine Beings such in their Nature as the Superstitious believe and represent? For my own part, I had rather Men shou’d say of me, &c.” See VOL. I. pag. 41. in the Notes. Nothing can be more remarkable than what our Author says again, a little below.† “The Atheist believes there is no Deity; the Religionist, or superstitious Believer, wishes there were none. If he believes, ’tis against his Will: mistrust he dares not, nor call his Thought in question. But cou’d he with Security, at once, throw off that oppressive Fear, which like the Rock ofTantalusimpends, and presses over him, he wou’d with equal Joy spurn his inslaving Thought, and embrace the Atheist’s State and Opinion as his happiest Deliverance. Atheists are free of Superstition, but the Superstitious are ever willing Atheists, tho impotent in their Thought, and unable to believe of the Divine Being as they gladly wou’d. νυνὶ δὲ τῳ̑ μὲν ἀθέῳ δεισιδαιμονίας οὐδὲν μέτεστιν, ὁ δὲ δεισιδαίμων τῃ̑ προαιρέσει ἄθεος ὤν, ἀσθενέστερός ἐστιν ἢ του̑ δοξάζειν περὶ θεω̑ν ὃ βούλεται” See VOL. I. pag. 35, 36, 40, 41.
[† ] Plutarchi Oper. T. II. pag. 166. Ed. Fran.
[† ] Ibid. 170.
[* ] Where speaking of Religion, as it stood in the Heathen Church, and in his own time; he confesses, “That as to the vulgar Disposition, there was no Remedy. Many even of the better sort wou’d be found, of course, to intermix with their Veneration and Esteem something of Terror or Fear in their religious Worship, which might give it perhaps the Character of SUPERSTITION: But that this Evil was a thousand times over-balanc’d by the Satisfaction, Hope, Joy, and Delight which attended religious Worship. This, says he, is plain and evident from the most demonstrable Testimonys. For neither the Societys, or Publick Meetings in the Temples, nor the Festivals themselves, nor any other diverting Partys, Sights, or Entertainments, are more delightful or rejoicing than what we our-selves behold, and act in the Divine Worship, and in the Holy Sacrifices and Mysterys which belong to it. Our Disposition and Temper is not, on this occasion, as if we were in the Presence of worldly Potentates, dread Sovereigns, and despotick Princes. Nor are we here found meanly humbling our-selves, crouching in Fear and Awe, and full of Anxiety and Confusion, as wou’d be natural to us in such a Case. But where the Divinity is esteem’d the nearest, and most immediately present, there Horrors and Amazements are the furthest banish’d; there the Heart, we find, gives freest way to Pleasure, to Entertainment, to Play, Mirth, Humour, and Diversion; and this even to an Excess.”
[* ]Supra, pag. 39.
[* ]Viz. In the Letter of Enthusiasm, which makes Treatise I. See VOL. I. pag. 41, 43, 44, 49. at the end.—And 54. concerning the previous Knowledg.—So again, Treatise II. VOL. I. pag. 81, and 116.—And again, Treatise III. VOL. I. pag. 294, 295, 297. where the INQUIRY is propos’d, and the System and Genealogy of the Affections previously treated; with an Apology (pag. 312.) for the examining Practice, and seeming Pedantry of the Method.—And afterwards the Apology for Treatise IV. in Treatise V. VOL. II. pag. 263, 264. Concerning this Series and Dependency of these joint Treatises, see more particularly below, pag. 189, 190, 191, 284, &c.
[* ]Viz. Treatise V. The INQUIRY concerning Virtue, VOL. II.
[† ] VOL. I. pag. 236, 7, 8, 9, &c.
[* ]Viz. VOL. I. pag. 242, &c.
[* ] αὐτοσχεδιαστική [the art of improvisation]. VOL. I. pag. 244. ’Tis in this sense of the natural Production, and Self-Formation of the Arts, in this Free State of antient Greece, that the same great Master uses this Word a little before, in the same Chapter of his Poeticks, (viz. the 4th) speaking in general of the Poets: κατὰ μικρὸν προάγοντες, ἐγέννησαν τὴν ποίησιν, ἐκ τω̑ν αὐτοσχεδιασμάτων. [Advancing step by step they produced poetry out of their improvisations.—Arist. Poet. iv. 6.] And presently after, λέξεως δὲ λενομένης, αὐτὴ ἡ φύσις τὸ οἰκει̑ον μέτρον εὑ̑ρε. [When dialogue was introduced, Nature herself found out the appropriate metre.—Ib. iv. 14.]
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 245. in the Notes.
[* ] Page 21. and VOL. I. pag. 257, 258.
[† ] Viz. Soliloquy, or Advice to an Author: Treatise III. VOL. I.
[‡ ] Viz. INQUIRY, &c. Treatise IV. VOL. II.
[** ] A Multitude held together by Force, tho under one and the same Head, is not properly united: Nor does such a Body make a People. ’Tis the social Ligue, Confederacy, and mutual Consent, founded in some common Good or Interest, which joins the Members of a Community, and makes a People One. Absolute Power annuls the Publick: And where there is no Publick, or Constitution, there is in reality no Mother-Country, or Nation. See VOL. I. pag. 105, 6, 7.
[† ] τὰ καθήκοντα ται̑ς οχέσεσι παραμετρει̑ται. [The circumstances are measured according to their nature.]
[* ] VOL. I. p. 109, &c. and VOL. II. p. 310, &c.
[* ]Rus & Regio. In French Campagne & Païs.
[* ] An ill Token of our being thorowly civiliz’d: since in the Judgment of the Polite and Wise, this inhospitable Disposition was ever reckon’d among the principal Marks of Barbarism. So Strabo, from other preceding Authors, κοινὸν μὲν εἱ̑ναι τοι̑ς βαρβάροις πα̑σιν ἔθος τὴν ξενηλασίαν, L.xvii. p. 802. [The expulsion of foreigners is a common measure with all barbarians.]
The Ζεύς Ξένιος [Zeus, god of strangers] of the Antients was one of the solemn Characters of Divinity: the peculiar Attribute of the supreme DEITY, benign to Mankind, and recommending universal Love, mutual Kindness, and Benignity between the remotest and most unlike of human Race. Thus their Divine Poet in Harmony with their Sacred Oracles, which were known frequently to confirm this Doctrine.
[My guest, I may not slight a stranger, even if he were a meaner man than thou art; for from Zeus are all strangers.”—Homer, Odyssey, xiv, 56, 58.] Again,—
[And no other mortals hold intercourse with us. But this is some luckless man who has come hither in his wanderings, and we must tend him well, for from Zeus are all strangers.—Odyssey, vi. 205–208.] And again,—
[Rich he was, and beloved among men, for he lived by the roadside and entertained all.”—Homer, Iliad, vi. 14, 15.]
See also Odys. lib. iii. ver. 34, &c. and 67, &c. lib. iv. ver. 30, &c. and 60.
Such was antient Heathen CHARITY, and pious Duty towards the Whole of Mankind; both those of different Nations, and different Worships. See VOL. II. pag. 165, 166.
[* ]Quid sumus, & quidnam victuri gignimur?—— Pers. Sat. iii. ver. 67.
[* ] VOL. II. pag. 184, 185.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 129, 130.
[† ] VOL. I. pag. 336, &c.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 336, &c.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 139.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 142, &c.
[† ]In GRAECIS Operibus, nemo sub mutulo denticulos constituit, &c. Quod ergo supra Cantherios & Templa in Veritate debet esse collocatum, id in Imaginibus, si infrà constitutum fuerit, mendosam habebit operis rationem. Etiamque ANTIQUI non probaverunt, neque instituerunt, &c. Ita quod non potest in Veritate fieri, id non putaverunt in Imaginibus factum, posse certam rationem habere. Omnia enim certâ proprietate, & à veris NATURAE deductis Moribus, traduxerunt in Operum perfectiones: & ea probaverunt quorum explicationes in Disputationibus rationem possunt habere VERITATIS. Itaque ex eis Originibus Symmetrias & Proportiones uniuscujusque generis constitutas reliquerunt. [In Greek buildings no one placed denticules under mutules. . . . What therefore ought in reality to be put above beams and small timbers will, if in imitations it be put below, be faulty in theory: and so the ancients did not approve of this or practise it. . . . Thus they thought that what cannot be done in reality cannot be correct if done in a copy thereof. For they transferred everything to their perfect works with exact accuracy and attention to the true laws of Nature, and approved only those points the explanation of which can, when discussed, show truthfulness. And so from this beginning they left us proportions and canons ready established in every kind.] Vitruvius,lib. iv. cap. 2. whose Commentator Philander may be also read on this place. See above, VOL. I. pag. 208, 336, &c. 340, 350, &c. And below, pag. 259, 260.
[* ] This is the HONESTUM, the PULCHRUM, τὸ καλόν [the Beautiful], on which our Author lays the stress of VIRTUE, and the Merits of this Cause; as well in his other Treatises, as in this of Soliloquy here commented. This Beauty the RomanOrator, in his rhetorical way, and in the Majesty of Style, cou’d express no otherwise than as A Mystery.† “HONESTUM igitur id intelligimus, quod tale est, ut, detractâ omni utilitate, sine ullis praemiis fructibusve, per seipsum possit jure laudari. Quod quale sit, non tam definitione quâ sum usus intelligi potest (quanquam aliquantum potest) quam COMMUNI omnium JUDICIO, & optimi cujusque studiis, atque factis a qui permulta ob eam unam causam faciunt, quia decet, quia rectum, quia honestum est; etsi nullum consecuturum emolumentum vident.” [By right therefore I understand what is such that, apart from expediency, without any reward or profit, it can properly be praised on its own account. What sort of thing, that is, may be understood, not so much from the definition I have given (though to some extent it may be so understood) as from the general agreement of all, and from the enthusiasm and acts of the best men; they do many a thing for this one reason, that it is becoming, is proper, is right, even though they see no gain likely to follow.] Our Author, on the other side, having little of the Orator, and less of the Constraint of Formality belonging to some graver Characters, can be more familiar on this occasion: and accordingly descending, without the least scruple, into whatever Style, or Humour; he refuses to make the least Difficulty or Mystery of this matter. He pretends, on this head, to claim the Assent not only of Orators, Poets, and the higher Virtuosi, but even of the Beaux themselves, and such as go no farther than the Dancing-Master to seek for Grace and Beauty. He pretends, we see, to fetch this natural Idea from as familiar Amusements as Dress, Equipage, the Tiring-Room, or Toy-shop. And thus in his proper manner of SOLILOQUY, or Self-Discourse, we may imagine him running on: beginning perhaps with some particular Scheme or fansy’d Scale of BEAUTY, which, according to his Philosophy, he strives to erect; by distinguishing, sorting, and dividing into Things animate, in-animate, and mixt: as thus.
In the IN-ANIMATE; beginning from those regular Figures and Symmetrys with which Children are delighted; and proceeding gradually to the Proportions of Architecture and the other Arts.—The same in respect of Sounds and MUSICK. From beautiful Stones, Rocks, Minerals; to Vegetables, Woods, aggregate Parts of the World, Seas, Rivers, Mountains, Vales.—The Globe.—Celestial Bodys, and their Order. The higher Architecture of Nature.—NATURE her-self, consider’d as in-animate and passive.
In the ANIMATE; from Animals, and their several Kinds, Tempers, Sagacitys, to Men.—And from single Persons of Men, their private Characters, Understandings, Genius’s, Dispositions, Manners; to Publick Societys, Communitys, or Commonwealths.—From Flocks, Herds, and other natural Assemblages or Groups of living Creatures, to human Intelligencys and Correspondencys, or whatever is higher in the kind. The Correspondence, Union and Harmony of NATURE her-self, consider’d as animate and intelligent.
In the MIXT; as in a single Person, (a Body and a Mind) the Union and Harmony of this kind, which constitutes the real Person: and the Friendship, Love, or whatever other Affection is form’d on such an Object. A Houshold, a City, or Nation, with certain Lands, Buildings, and other Appendices, or local Ornaments, which jointly form that agreeable Idea of Home, Family, Country.—
‘‘And what of this?” (says an airy Spark, no Friend to Meditation or deep Thought) “What means this Catalogue, or Scale, as you are pleas’d to call it?” “Only, Sir, to satisfy my-self, That I am not alone, or single in a certain Fancy I have of a thing call’d BEAUTY; That I have almost the whole World for my Companions; and That each of us Admirers and earnest Pursuers of BEAUTY (such as in a manner we All are) if peradventure we take not a certain Sagacity along with us, we must err widely, range extravagantly, and run ever upon a false Scent. We may, in the Sportsman’s Phrase, have many Hares afoot, but shall stick to no real Game, nor be fortunate in any Capture which may content us.
‘‘See with what Ardour and Vehemence, the young Man, neglecting his proper Race and Fellow-Creatures, and forgetting what is decent, handsom, or becoming in human Affairs, pursues these SPECIES in those common Objects of his Affection, a Horse, a Hound, a Hawk!—What doting on these Beautys!—What Admiration of the Kind it-self! And of the particular Animal, what Care, and in a manner Idolatry and Consecration; when the Beast beloved is (as often happens) even set apart from use, and only kept to gaze on, and feed the enamour’d Fancy with highest Delight!—See! in another Youth, not so forgetful of Human Kind, but remembring it still in a wrong way! a φιλόκαλος [a lover of the beautiful] of another sort, a CHAEREA. Quàm elegans formarum Spectator!—See as to other Beautys, where there is no Possession, no Enjoyment or Reward, but barely seeing and admiring: as in the Virtuoso-Passion, the Love of Painting, and the Designing Arts of every kind, so often observ’d.—How fares it with our princely Genius, our Grandee who assembles all these Beautys, and within the Bounds of his sumptuous Palace incloses all these Graces of a thousand kinds?—What Pains! Study! Science!—Behold the Disposition and Order of these finer sorts of Apartments, Gardens, Villas!—The kind of Harmony to the Eye, from the various Shapes and Colours agreeably mixt, and rang’d in Lines, intercrossing without confusion, and fortunately co-incident.—A Parterre, Cypresses, Groves, Wildernesses.—Statues, here and there, of Virtue, Fortitude, Temperance.—Heroes-Busts, Philosophers-Heads; with sutable Mottos and Inscriptions.—Solemn Representations of things deeply natural.—Caves, Grottos, Rocks.—Urns and Obelisks in retir’d places, and dispos’d at proper distances and points of Sight: with all those Symmetrys which silently express a reigning Order, Peace, Harmony, and Beauty!—But what is there answerable to this, in the MINDS of the Possessors?—What Possession or Propriety is theirs? What Constancy or Security of Enjoyment? What Peace, what Harmony WITHIN.”—
Thus our MONOLOGIST, or self-discoursing Author, in his usual Strain; when incited to the Search of BEAUTY and the DECORUM, by vulgar Admiration, and the universal Acknowledgment of the SPECIES in outward Things, and in the meaner and subordinate Subjects. By this inferior Species, it seems, our strict Inspector disdains to be allur’d: And refusing to be captivated by any thing less than the superior, original, and genuine Kind; he walks at leisure, without Emotion, in deep philosophical Reserve, thro’ all these pompous Scenes; passes unconcernedly by those Court-Pageants, the illustrious and much-envy’d Potentates of the Place; overlooks the Rich, the Great, and even the Fair: feeling no other Astonishment than what is accidentally rais’d in him, by the View of these Impostures, and of this specious Snare. For here he observes those Gentlemen chiefly to be caught and fastest held, who are the highest Ridiculers of such Reflections as his own; and who in the very height of this Ridicule prove themselves the impotent Contemners of a SPECIES, which, whether they will or no, they ardently pursue: Some, in a Face, and certain regular Lines, or Features: Others, in a Palace and Apartments: Others, in an Equipage and Dress.—“O EFFEMINACY! EFFEMINACY! Who wou’d imagine this cou’d be the Vice of such as appear no inconsiderable Men?—But Person is a Subject of Flattery which reaches beyond the Bloom of Youth. The experienc’d Senator and aged General, can, in our days, dispense with a Toilet, and take his outward Form into a very extraordinary Adjustment and Regulation.—All Embellishments are affected, besides the true. And thus, led by Example, whilst we run in search of Elegancy and Neatness; pursuing BEAUTY; and adding, as we imagine, more Lustre, and Value to our own Person; we grow, in our real Character and truer SELF, deform’d and monstrous, servile and abject; stooping to the lowest Terms of Courtship; and sacrificing all internal Proportion, all intrinsick and real BEAUTY and WORTH, for the sake of Things which carry scarce a Shadow of the Kind.” Supra, VOL. II. pag. 394, &c. and VOL. I. pag. 138, &c. and pag. 337.
[† ] Cic. de Fin. Bon. & Mal. lib. ii. sect. 14.
[* ]Viz. Treatise III. (ADVICE to an Author) VOL. I.
[† ]Viz. In Treatise IV. (The INQUIRY, &c.) Vol. II.
[* ] Above, pag. 135. Again below, 284, 285, &c.
[† ]Viz. To the INQUIRY (Treatise IV.) VOL. II.
[‡ ]Viz. Letter of Enthusiasm, VOL. I.
[* ] Monsieur Des Cartes.
[* ] Of the necessary Being and Prevalency of some such IMAGINATION or SENSE (natural and common to all Men, irresistible, of original Growth in the Mind, the Guide of our Affections, and the Ground of our Admiration, Contempt, Shame, Honour, Disdain, and other natural and unavoidable Impressions) see VOL. I. pag. 138, 139, 336, 337. VOL. II. pag. 28, 29, 30, 394, 420, 421, 429, 430. And above, p. 30, 31, 2, 3, &c. 182, 3, 4, 5, 6. in the Notes.
[* ] ὅτι πάντα ἡ ὑπόληψις, καὶ αὐτὴ ἐπὶ σοί. ἀ̑ρον οὐ̑ν ὅτε θέλεις τὴν ὑπόληψιν, καὶ ὥσπερ κάμψαντι τὴν ἄκραν γαλήνη, σταθερὰ πάντα καὶ κόλπος ἀκύμων. [What view you take is everything, and your view is in your power. Remove it then when you choose, and then, as if you had rounded the cape, come calm serenity, a waveless bay.] M. Ant. Lib. xii. 22.
οἱ̑όν ἐοτιν ἡ λεκάνη του̑ ὕδατος, τοιου̑τον ἡ ψυχή. οἱ̑ον ἡ αὐγὴ ἡ προσπίπτουσα τῳ̑ ὕδατι, τοιου̑τον αἱ φαντασίαι. ὅταν οὐ̑ν τὸ ὕδωρ κινηθῃ̑, δοκει̑ μὲν καὶ ἡ αὐγὴ κινει̑σθαι. οὐ μέντοι κινει̑ται· καὶ ὅταν τοίνυν σκοτωθῃ̑ τίς, οὐχ αἱ τέχναι καὶ αἱ ἀρεταὶ συγχέονται, ἀλλὰ τὸ πνευ̑μα ἐφ’ οὑ̑ εἰσί· καταστάντος δὲ, καθίσταται κἀκει̑να. [As is the water-dish, so is the soul; as is the ray which falls on the water, so are the appearances. When then the water is moved the ray too seems to be moved, yet is not. And when, accordingly, a man is giddy, it is not the arts and the virtues which are thrown into confusion, but the spirit to which they belong; and when he is recovered so are they.] Arrian. Lib. iii. cap. 3. See VOL. I. pag. 185, &c. 294, 5, 6, 324, &c. And VOL. II. pag. 437.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 308. VOL. II. pag. 227.
[* ] VOL. II. pag. 432. And below, pag. 307, &c.
[† ] ἁ̑ρον οὐ̑ν τὴω ἔκκλισιν ἀπὸ πάντων τω̑ν οὐκ ἐφ’ ἡμι̑ν, καὶ μετάθες ἐπὶ τὰ παρὰ φύσιν τω̑ν ἐφ’ ἡμι̑ν. [Give up then aversion from all things which are not in our power; transfer it to the things contrary to nature which are in our power.] Epictet. Enchirid. cap. vii.
ὄρεξιν ἀ̑ραί σε δει̑ παντελω̑ς, ἔκκλισιν ἐπὶ μόνα νεταθει̑ναι τὰ προαιρετικά. [You must do away with desire altogether, and transfer aversion to those things only which are within the scope of the will.] Arrian. Lib. iii. cap. 22. This subdu’d or moderated Admiration or Zeal in the highest Subjects of Virtue and Divinity, the Philosopher calls σύμμετρον καὶ καθισταμένην τὴν ὄρεξιν [Desire settled and proportioned to its objects.]; the contrary Disposition, τὸ ἄλογον καὶ ὠστικόν. [Unreasonable and pushing.] Lib. ii. cap. 26. The Reason why this over-forward Ardor and Pursuit of high Subjects runs naturally into Enthusiasm and Disorder, is shewn in what succeeds the first of the Passages here cited; viz. τω̑ν δὲ ἐφ ἡμι̑ν, ὅσαν ὀρέγεσθαι καλὸν ἄν, οὐδὲν οὐδέτω σοι πάρεστι. [And of things in our power, such as it would be well to desire, no one is yet set before you.] And hence the repeated Injunction, ἀπόσχου ποτὲ παντάποσιν ὀρέξεως, ἵνα ποτὲ καὶ εὐλόγως ὀρεχθη̑ςῃ εἰ δ’ εὐλόγως, ὅταν ἔχῃς τί ἐν σεαυτῳ̑ ἀγαθὸν εὐ̑ ὀρεχθήση. [Keep away altogether from desire, in order that you may some day have a desire with good reason; and if with good reason, when you have anything good in you, you will desire well.] Lib. iii. cap. 13. To this Horace, in one of his latest Epistles of the deeply philosophical kind, alludes.
[The wise man must be called mad, the fair man unfair, if he seek even virtue too keenly.]
And in the beginning of the Epistle:
[Not to admire is all the art I know,
To make men happy and to keep them so.—Pope’s version.]
For tho these first Lines (as many other of Horace’s on the Subject of Philosophy) have the Air of the EpicureanDiscipline and Lucretian Style; yet by the whole taken together, it appears evidently on what System of antient Philosophy this Epistle was form’d. Nor was this Prohibition of the wondering or admiring Habit, in early Students, peculiar to one kind of Philosophy alone. It was common to many; however the Reason and Account of it might differ, in one Sect from the other. The Pythagoreans sufficiently check’d their Tyro’s, by silencing them so long on their first Courtship to Philosophy. And tho Admiration, in the Peripatetick Sense, as above-mention’d, may be justly call’d the inclining Principle or first Motive to PHILOSOPHY; yet this Mistress, when once espous’d, teaches us to admire, after a different manner from what we did before. See above, pag. 37. And VOL. I. pag. 41.
[* ] I wrap myself in my own merits and seek as my bride honest poverty, undowered. Horat. Lib. iii. Od. xxix. ver. 54.
[* ] See what is said above on the word Sensus Communis, in that second Treatise, VOL. I. pag. 103, &c. and pag. 110, 138, 139, 140. And in the same VOL. p. 336, &c. and 352, 353, &c. And in VOL. II. p. 307, 411, 412, &c. concerning the natural Ideas, and the Pre-conceptions or Pre-sensations of this kind; the προλήψεις [anticipations], of which a learned Critick and Master in all Philosophy, modern and antient, takes notice, in his lately publish’d Volume of Socratick Dialogues; where he adds this Reflection, with respect to some Philosophical Notions much in vogue amongst us, of late, here in England.Obiter dumtaxat addemus, Socraticam, quam exposuimus, Doctrinam magno usui esse posse, si probè expendatur, dirimendae inter viros doctos controversiae, ante paucos annos, inBritanniapraesertim, exortae, de Ideis Innatis, quas dicerc possis ἐμφύτους ἐννοίας. Quamvis enim nullae sint, si adcuratè loquamur, notiones à natura animis nostris infixae; attamen nemo negárit ita esse facultates Animorum nostrorum naturâ adfectas, ut quàm primùm ratione uti incipimus, Verum à Falso, Malum à Bono aliquo modo distinguere incipiamus. Species Veritatis nobis semper placet; displicet contra Mendacii: Imo & HONESTUM INHONESTO praeferimus; ob Semina nobis indita, quae tum demum in lucem prodeunt, cum ratiocinari possumus, eoque uberiores fructus proferunt, quo melius ratiocinamur, adcuratioreque institutione adjuvamur. [Incidentally let us add, precisely speaking, that the Socratic teaching which we have presented can be of great use, if it should be rightly estimated, to the divisive controversies among learned men having arisen a few years ago chiefly in Britain about innate conceptions which you can call [innate ideas]. For although, if we should speak accurately, there may be no conceptions imprinted on our minds by nature, nevertheless no one would deny that the faculties of our minds have been shaped by nature so that as soon as we start to use reason we begin to distinguish in some fashion truth from falsity, evil from good. The appearance of truth is always pleasing to us; on the other hand that of mendacity is displeasing and certainly we prefer honor to disgrace on account of the seeds planted in us which eventually spring up into the light at a time when we are able to reason; and then when the richer fruits mature by which we reason better, we are guided for public duty and education.] AEsch. Dial. cum Silvis Philol. Jo. Cler. ann. 1711. pag. 176. They seem indeed to be but weak Philosophers, tho able Sophists, and artful Confounders of Words and Notions, who wou’d refute Nature and Common Sense. But NATURE will be able still to shift for her-self, and get the better of those Schemes, which need no other Force against them, than that of Horace’s single Verse:
[The wolf bites, the bull tosses you: how did they learn it, but by instinct?]
An ASS (as an English Author says) never butts with his Ears; tho a Creature born to an arm’d Forehead, exercises his butting Faculty long ere his Horns are come to him. And perhaps if the Philosopher wou’d accordingly examine himself, and consider his natural Passions, he wou’d find there were such belong’d to him as Nature had premeditated in his behalf, and for which she had furnish’d him with Ideas long before any particular Practice or Experience of his own. Nor wou’d he need be scandaliz’d with the Comparison of a Goat, or Boar, or other of Horace’s premeditating Animals, who have more natural Wit, it seems, than our Philosopher; if we may judg of him by his own Hypothesis, which denies the same implanted SENSE and natural Ideas to his own Kind.
[To-morrow a kid shall be sacrificed to you, a kid whose brow just sprouting with horns promises him a life of love and fighting.]
[The boar who practises his side-long slash.]
[† ] VOL. II. pag. 92, 93, &c. and 131, &c. and pag. 307, &c.
[* ] στοργή [love of parents and children]; for which we have no particular Name in our Language.
[* ]Viz. The INQUIRY concerning Virtue, VOL. II.
[* ] VOL. II. pag. 72, 73, &c.
[† ] VOL. I. pag. 63.
[* ]Viz. Treatise III. VOL. I.
[* ] Supra, pag. 153, 154. in the Notes.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 53, 54.
[† ]Viz. Letter of Enthusiasm, VOL. I. And above, MISC. II. chap. 1, 2.
[* ]Libri tres in Sacrarium conditi, Sibyllini appellati. Ad eos quasi ad Oraculum Quindecimviri adeunt, cum Dii immortales publicè consulendi sunt. Aul. Gell. lib. i. c. 19. & Plin. lib. xiii. c. 13. [The three books were placed in a shrine and called the Sibyl’s books. The College of Fifteen consults them, like an oracle, whenever the Gods have to be consulted by the state.] But of this first Sibylline Scripture, and of other canoniz’d Books and additional Sacred Writ among the Romans; see what Dionysius Halicarnasseus cites (from Varro’s Roman Theologicks) in his History, lib. iv. c. 62.
[* ] John, chap. v. ver. 31.
[* ]Aratus, Acts ch. xvii. ver. 28. And Epimenides, Titus ch. i. ver. 12. Even one of their own PROPHETS. For so the holy Apostle deign’d to speak of a Heathen Poet, a Physiologist, and Divine: who prophesy’d of Events, wrought Miracles, and was receiv’d as an inspir’d Writer, and Author of Revelations, in the chief Citys and States of Greece.
[† ]Menander, 1 Cor. ch. xv. ver. 33.
[* ] Even in the sixth Century, the fam’d Gregorius Bishop of Rome, who is so highly celebrated for having planted the Christian Religion, by his Missionary Monks, in our English Nation of Heathen Saxons, was so far from being a Cultivater or Supporter of Arts or Letters, that he carry’d on a kind of general Massacre upon every Product of human Wit. His own Words in a Letter to one of the French Bishops, a Man of the highest Consideration and Merit, (as a noted modern Critick, and satirical Genius of that Nation acknowledges) are as follow. Pervenit ad nos quod sine verecundiâ memorare non possumus, fraternitatem tuam GRAMMATICAM quibusdam exponere. Quam rem ita molestè suscepimus, ac sumus vehementiùs aspernati, ut ea quae prius dicta fuerunt, in gemitum & tristitiam verteremus, quia in uno se ore cumJovislaudibusChristilaudes non capiunt. * * * * * Unde si post hoc evidenter ea quae ad nos perlata sunt, falsa esse claruerint, nec vos NUGIS & SECULARIBUS LITERIS studere contigerit, Deo nostro gratias agimus, qui cor vestrum maculari blasphemis nefandorum laudibus non permisit. [A story has reached me which I am ashamed to mention, that your brotherhood teaches certain pupils grammar! This news I received with such grief and rejected with such scorn that I turned what was said before into groans and lamentations; for one mouth cannot hold the praise of Jupiter and of Christ too. . . . So if hereafter the news proves false, and you have not spent your time upon trifles and worldly literature, I return thanks to God, who would not have your hearts stained with the blasphemous praise of the wicked.] Gregorii Opera, Epist. 48. lib. ix. Paris. Ann. 1533. And in his Dedication, or first Preface to his Morals, after some very insipid Rhetorick, and figurative Dialect imploy’d against the Study and Art of Speech, he has another Fling at the Classick Authors and Discipline; betraying his inveterate Hatred to antient Learning, as well as the natural Effect of this Zealot-Passion, in his own Barbarity both of Style and Manners. His words are, Unde & ipsam artem loquendi, quam Magisteria Disciplinae exterioris insinuant, servare despexi. Nam sicut hujus quoque Epistolae tenor enunciat, non Metacismi collisionem fugio: non Barbarismi confusionem devito, situs motusque praepositionum casusque servare contemno: quia indignum vehementer existimo, ut verba coelestis oraculi restringam sub regulisDonati. [So I think scorn of observing even the art of speech, which the wider education is bringing in upon us. For, as the course of this letter shows, I do not avoid the frequent use of M; I do not shun barbarisms; I despise rules about the position or the changing or the cases of prepositions: for I strongly hold it to be unfitting to bind the words of heaven by the rules of Donatus.] That he carry’d this savage Zeal of his so far as to destroy (what in him lay) the whole Body of Learning, with all the Classick Authors then in being, was generally believ’d. And (what was yet more notorious and unnatural in a RomanPontiff) the Destruction of the Statues, Sculptures, and finest Pieces of Antiquity in Rome, was charg’d on him by his Successor in the SEE; as, besides Platina, another Writer of his Life, without the least Apology, confesses. See in the above-cited Edition of St. Gregory’s Works, at the beginning, viz. Vita D. Gregorii ex Joan. Laxiardo Coelestino. ’Tis no wonder, therefore, if other Writers have given account of that Sally of the Prelate’s Zeal against the Books and Learning of the Antients, for which the Reason alledg’d was very extraordinary; “That the holy Scriptures wou’d be the better relish’d, and receive a considerable Advantage by the Destruction of these Rivals.” It seems they had no very high Idea of the holy Scriptures, when they suppos’d them such Losers by a Comparison. However, ’twas thought advisable by other Fathers (who had a like view) to frame new Pieces of Literature, after the Model of these condemn’d Antients. Hence those ridiculous Attempts of new heroick Poems, new Epicks and Dramaticks, new Homers, Euripides’s, Menanders, which were with so much Pains and so little Effect industriously set afoot by the zealous Priesthood; when Ignorance prevail’d, and the Hierarchal Dominion was so universal. But tho their Power had well nigh compass’d the Destruction of those great Originals, they were far from being able to procure any Reception for their puny Imitations. The Mock-Works have lain in their deserv’d Obscurity; as will all other Attempts of that kind, concerning which our Author has already given his Opinion, VOL. I. pag. 356, 357, &c. But as to the ill Policy as well as Barbarity of this Zealot-Enmity against the Works of the Antients, a foreign Protestant Divine, and most learned Defender of Religion, making the best Excuse he can for the Greek-Fathers, and endeavouring to clear them from this general Charge of Havock and Massacre committed upon Science and Erudition, has these words: “Si cela est, voilà encore un nouveau Sujet de mépriser les Patriarches deConstantinoplequi n’étoient d’ailleurs rien moins que gens de bien; mais j’ai de la poine à le croire, parce qu’il nous est resté de Poetes infiniment plus sales que ceux qui se sont perdus. Personne ne doute qu’Aristophanene soit beaucoup plus sale, que n’etoitMenander. Plutarqueen est un bon témoin, dans la Comparaison qu’il a faite de ces deux Poetes. Il peuvoit être neanmoins arrivé, que quelquesEcclesiastiquesennemis des Belles Lettres, en eussent usé comme ditChalcondyle,sans penser qu’en conservant toute l’Antiquité Grecque, ils conserveroient la Langue de leurs Prédecesseurs, & une infinité de Faits qui servoient beaucoup à l’intelligence & à la confirmation de l’Histoire Sacrée, & même de la Religion Chretienne. Ces gens-là devoient au moins nous conserver les Histoires Anciennes des Orientaux, comme des Chaldéens, des Tyriens, & des Egyptiens; mais ils agissoient plus par ignorance & par negligence, que par raison.” [If that is (true), behold yet again a new reason to disdain the Patriarchs of Constantinople, who moreover were nothing less than good men; but I have difficulty believing it, because there has survived to us Poets infinitely more bawdy than those who were lost. No one doubts that Aristophanes was not much more dirty than Menander. Plutarch testifies well to this in the comparison he made of the two Poets. It could have happened nonetheless that certain Clerics, foes to Belles-Lettres, could have used them as Chalcondyle says, without thinking that by conserving all of Greek Antiquity they would conserve the language of their Predecessors, and an infinity of facts that would aid greatly in the understanding and confirmation of Sacred History and even of the Christian Religion. Those men at least ought to conserve for us the Ancient Histories of the Orientals, such as the Chaldeans, the Tyrians, and the Egyptians, but they acted more from ignorance and negligence than by reason.] BIBL. CHOIS. Tom. XIV. pag. 131, 132, 133.
[* ] Such a one is the present Prince, Clement XI. an Incourager of all Arts and Sciences.
[* ] So Luke, chap. i. ver. 1, 2, 3, 4. “(1) For as much as MANY have taken in hand to set forth, in order, a Declaration (Exposition or Narrative, διήγησιν) of those things which are most surely believ’d among (or were fulfill’d in, or among) us; (2) Even as they deliver’d them unto us, which from the beginning were Eyewitnesses and Ministers of the Word: (3) It seem’d good to ME also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, (or having look’d back, and search’d accurately into all Matters from the beginning, or highest time, παρηκοκονθηκότι ἄνωθεν πα̑σιν ἀκριβω̑ς) to write unto Thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, (4) That Thou mightest know the Certainty (or Validity, sound Discussion, ἀσφάλειαν) of those things wherein THOU hast been instructed (or catechiz’d) περὶ ὠ̑ν κατηχήθης.” Whether the words πεπληρφορημένων ἐν ἡμι̑ν, in the first Verse, shou’d be render’d believ’d among, or fulfill’d in, or among us, may depend on the different reading of the Original. For in some Copys, the ἐν next following is left out. However, the exact Interpreters or verbal Translators render it fulfill’d, Vid. Ar. Montan. Edit. Plantin. 1584. In Ver. 4. the word CERTAINTY, ἀσφάλειαν, is interpreted ἀκρίβειαν, Validity, Soundness, good Foundation, from the Sense of the preceding Verse. See the late Edition of our learned Dr. Mill,ex recensioneKusteri, Rot. 1710. For the word Catechiz’d, κατηχήθης, (the last of the fourth Verse) Rob. Constantine has this Explanation of it: “Priscis Theologis apudAEgyptiosmos crat, ut Mysteria voce tantùm, veluti per manus, posteris relinquerent. Apud Christianos, qui Baptismatis erant candidati, iis, vivâ voce, tradebantur fidei Christianae Mysieria, sine scriptis: quod Paulus & Lucas κατηχει̑ν vocant. Unde qui docebantur, Catechumeni vocabantur; qui docebant, Catechistae.” [Among the Egyptians it was the custom of ancient worship that mysteries were left to future generations with the voice alone, just as if written by hands. Among the Christians who were candidates for baptism, to these with the living voice, the mysteries were being handed down to the Christian believers without written instructions, a practice which Paul and Luke called to instruct. Thus those who were being taught were called the catechumen; those who were teaching, the catechists.]
[* ] Deut. ch. xxxiv. ver. 5, 6, 7, &c.
[* ] τὸν ἥδιστον καὶ χαριέστατον Ξενοφω̑ντα, [loosely translated by Shaftesbury in the text] as Athenaeus calls him, lib. xi. See VOL. I. pag. 255.
[† ] [And thou, Alcaeus, who tellest in a fuller tone on a lyre of gold the hardships of the sea, of exile, and of war.]
[‡ ] [Come, my lyre, utter for me a Latin song, though thou wert first tuned by a citizen of Lesbos, etc.]
[** ] [But the cruel times tore me away from that pleasant spot, and civil strife hurried me, with all my ignorance of war, to take up those arms which were to be no match for the might of Augustus Caesar. As soon as Philippi set me free from arms, humbled, my wings clipped, my father’s house and estate lost, the fearlessness of a poor man drove me to write verses.]
[A legion of Roman soldiers obeyed me as its officer.]
Viz. under Brutus. Whence again that natural Boast:
[I pleased the first men of the city in war and peace.]
[Envy shall confess against her will that I have ever lived with the great.]
Where the vixisse shews plainly whom he principally meant by his MAGNI, his early Patrons and Great Men in the State: His Apology and Defense here (as well as in his fourth and sixth Satirs of his first Book, and his 2d Epistle of his second, and elsewhere) being supported still by the open and bold Assertion of his good Education, (equal to the highest Senators, and under the best Masters) his Employments at home and abroad, and his early Commerce and Familiarity with former Great Men, before these his new Friendships, and this latter Court-Acquaintance, which was now envy’d him by his Adversarys.
[Now they envy me because I live familiarly with thee, Maecenas, but formerly because a legion of Roman soldiers obeyed me as officer.]
The Reproach now was with respect to a Maecenas or Augustus. ’Twas the same formerly with respect to a Brutus, and those who were then the principal and leading Men. The Complaint or Murmur against him on account of his being an Upstart or Favourite under a Maecenas and Augustus, cou’d not be answer’d, by a Vixisse relating to the same Persons; any more than his Placuisse, join’d with his BELLI Domique, cou’d relate to those under whom he never went to War, nor wou’d ever consent to bear any Honours. For so he himself distinguishes (Sat. vi. to Maecenas)
[The two reasons are unlike because, though perhaps a man might fairly grudge me my commission, yet he cannot fairly grudge me your friendship too.]
He was formerly an Actor, and in the Ministry of Affairs: Now only a FRIEND to a Minister: Himself still a private and retir’d Man. That he refus’d Augustus’s Offer of the Secretary-ship, is well known. But in these Circumstances, the Politeness as well as Artifice of Horace is admirable; in making Futurity or Posterity to be the speaking Party in both those places, where he suggests his Intimacy and Favour with the Great, that there might, in some measure, be room left (tho in strictness there was scarce any) for an Octavius and a Maecenas to be included. See VOL. I. pag. 269, 270. in the Notes.
[* ] ——Fungar vice Cotis.—— Horat. de Arte Poet. ver. 304.
[* ] “Occidat, dum imperet.” Tacit. Annal. lib. xiv. cap. 9.
[† ]Viz. In his Advice to Authors, Treatise III. VOL. I.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 217, &c. 223, 259, 275, 276.
[† ] VOL. I. pag. 270, &c.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 269, &c.
[† ] Ars Poet.
[‡ ] ὅλον δ’ ἐστι τὸ ἔχον ἀρχὴν καὶ μέσον καὶ τελευτήν. ἀρχὴ δέ ἐστιν ὃ αὐτὸ μὲν μὴ ἐξ ἀνάγκης μετ’ ἄλλο ἐστί, μετ’ ἐκει̑νο δ’ ἕτερον πέφυκεν εἰ̑ναι ἢ γίνεσθαι. τίλευτὴ δὲ τοὐναντίον ὃ αὐτὸ μετ’ ἄλλο πέφυκεν εἰ̑ναι ἢ ἑξ ἀνάγκης ἢ ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πολύ, μετὰ δὲ του̑το ἄλλο οὐδέν. μέσον δὲ ὃ καὶ αὐτὸ μετ’ ἄλλο καὶ μετ’ ἐκει̑νο ἕτερον. Arist. de Poet. cap. 7. [A whole is that which has beginning, middle, and end. A beginning is that which does not itself follow on anything by necessity, but after which something else naturally is or arises. On the contrary, an end is that which naturally follows on something else, either of necessity or as a rule, while it is followed by nothing. A middle is that which itself follows on something else, and has something following on it.] And in the following Chapter, μυ̑θος δ’ ἐστὶν εἱ̑ς οὐχ ὥσπερ τινὲς οἴονται ἐὰν περὶ ἕνα ᾐ̑, &c. [Unity of plot is not, as some people think, secured by having unity of hero.]
[Let it be what you will, provided only it be consistent and uniform.] See VOL. I. p. 145, 146.
’Tis an infallible proof of the want of just Integrity in every Writing, from the Epopee or Heroick-Poem, down to the familiar Epistle, or slightest Essay either in Verse or Prose, if each several Part or Portion fits not its proper place so exactly, that the least Transposition wou’d be impracticable. Whatever is Episodick, tho perhaps it be a Whole, and in itself intire, yet being inserted, as a Part, in a Work of greater length, it must appear only in its due Place. And that Place alone can be call’d its due-one, which alone befits it. If there be any Passage in the Middle or End, which might have stood in the Beginning; or any in the Beginning, which might have stood as well in the Middle or End; there is properly in such a Piece neither Beginning, Middle, nor End. ’Tis a mere Rhapsody; not a Work. And the more it assumes the Air or Appearance of a real Work, the more ridiculous it becomes. See above, pag. 25. And VOL. I. pag. 145, 146.
[* ] [I shall bid the well-trained imitator to look to the pattern which life presents, and there learn the language of reality.]
The Chief of antient Criticks, we know, extols Homer, above all things, for understanding how “To LYE in perfection”: as the Passage shews which we have cited above, VOL. I. pag. 346. His LYES, according to that Master’s Opinion, and the Judgment of many of the gravest and most venerable Writers, were, in themselves, the justest Moral Truths, and exhibitive of the best Doctrine and Instruction in Life and Manners. It may be ask’d perhaps, “How comes the Poet, then, to draw no single Pattern of the kind, no perfect Character, in either of his Heroick Pieces?” I answer, that shou’d he attempt to do it, he wou’d, as a Poet, be preposterous and false. ’Tis not the Possible, but the Probable and Likely, which must be the Poet’s Guide in Manners. By this he wins Attention, and moves the conscious Reader or Spectator; who judges best from within, by what he naturally feels and experiences in his own Heart. The Perfection of Virtue is from long Art and Management, Self-controul, and, as it were, Force on Nature. But the common Auditor or Spectator, who seeks Pleasure only, and loves to engage his Passion, by view of other Passion and Emotion, comprehends little of the Restraints, Allays and Corrections, which form this new and artificial Creature. For such indeed is the truly virtuous Man; whose ART, tho ever so natural in it-self, or justly founded in Reason and Nature, is an Improvement far beyond the common Stamp, or known Character of Human Kind. And thus the compleatly virtuous and perfect Character is unpoetical and false. Effects must not appear, where Causes must necessarily remain unknown and incomprehensible. A HERO without Passion, is, in Poetry, as absurd as a HERO without Life or Action. Now if Passion be allow’d, passionate Action must ensue. The same Heroick Genius and seeming Magnanimity which transport us when beheld, are naturally transporting in the Lives and Manners of the Great, who are describ’d to us. And thus the able Designer, who feigns in behalf of Truth, and draws his Characters after the Moral Rule, fails not to discover Nature’s Propensity; and assigns to these high Spirits their proper Exorbitancy, and Inclination to exceed in that Tone or Species of Passion, which constitutes the eminent or shining part of each poetical Character. The Passion of an Achilles is towards that Glory which is acquir’d by Arms and personal Valour. In favour of this Character, we forgive the generous Youth his Excess of Ardor in the Field, and his Resentment when injur’d and provok’d in Council, and by his Allies. The Passion of an Ulysses is towards that Glory which is acquir’d by Prudence, Wisdom, and Ability in Affairs. ’Tis in favour of this Character that we forgive him his subtle, crafty, and deceitful Air: since the intriguing Spirit, the over-reaching Manner, and Over-refinement of Art and Policy, are as naturally incident to the experienc’d and thorow Politician, as sudden Resentment, indiscreet and rash Behaviour, to the open undesigning Character of a warlike Youth. The gigantick Force and military Toil of an Ajax wou’d not be so easily credible, or engaging, but for the honest Simplicity of his Nature, and the Heaviness of his Parts and Genius. For Strength of Body being so often noted by us, as un-attended with equal Parts and Strength of Mind; when we see this natural Effect express’d, and find our secret and malicious kind of Reasoning confirm’d, on this hand; we yield to any Hyperbole of our Poet, on the other. He has afterwards his full Scope, and Liberty of enlarging, and exceeding, in the peculiar Virtue and Excellence of his Hero. He may lye splendidly, raise wonder, and be as astonishing as he pleases. Every thing will be allow’d him in return for this frank Allowance. Thus the Tongue of a Nestor may work Prodigys, whilst the accompanying Allays of a rhetorical Fluency, and aged Experience, are kept in view. An Agamemnon may be admir’d as a noble and wise Chief, whilst a certain princely Haughtiness, a Stiffness, and stately Carriage natural to the Character, are represented in his Person, and noted in their ill Effects. For thus the Excesses of every Character are by the Poet redress’d. And the Misfortunes naturally attending such Excesses, being justly apply’d; our Passions, whilst in the strongest manner engag’d and mov’d, are in the wholesomest and most effectual manner corrected and purg’d. Were a Man to form himself by one single Pattern or Original, however perfect; he wou’d himself be a mere Copy. But whilst he draws from various Models, he is original, natural, and unaffected. We see in outward Carriage and Behaviour, how ridiculous any one becomes who imitates another, be he ever so graceful. They are mean Spirits who love to copy merely. Nothing is agreeable or natural, but what is original. Our Manners, like our Faces, tho ever so beautiful, must differ in their Beauty. An Over-regularity is next to a Deformity. And in a Poem, whether Epick or Dramatick, a compleat and perfect Character is the greatest Monster; and of all poetick Fictions not only the least engaging, but the least moral and improving.—Thus much by way of Remark upon poetical TRUTH, and the just Fiction, or artful Lying of the able Poet; according to the Judgment of the Master-Critick. What Horace expresses of the same Lying Virtue, is of an easier sense, and needs no explanation.
[Such is his use of fiction, such his combination of true and false, that the middle does not clash with the beginning or the end with the middle.]
The same may be observ’d not only in Heroick Draughts, but in the inferior Characters of Comedy.
[How like himself each man acts!]
See VOL. I. pag. 4, 142, 143, 337, & 351. in the Notes, at the end.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 217.
[† ] The Reader, if curious in these matters, may see Is. Vossiusde viribus Rhythmi; and what he says, withal, of antient Musick, and the degrees by which they surpass us Moderns, (as has been demonstrated by late Mathematicians of our Nation) contrary to a ridiculous Notion some have had, that because in this, as in all other Arts, the Antients study’d Simplicity, and affected it as the highest Perfection in their Performances, they were therefore ignorant of Parts and Symphony. Against this, Is. Vossius, amongst other Authors, cites the antient Peripatetick περὶ κόσμον [On the Cosmos] at the beginning of his fifth Chapter. To which he might have added another Passage in Chap. 6. The Sutableness of this antient Author’s Thought to what has been often advanc’d in the philosophical Parts of these Volumes, concerning the universal Symmetry, or Union of the Whole, may make it excusable if we add here the two Passages together, in their inimitable Original. ἴσως δὲ καὶ τω̑ν ἐναντίων ἡ φύσις γλίχεται, καὶ ἐκ τούτων ἀποτελει̑ν τὸ σύμφωνον, οὐκ ἐκ τω̑ν ὁμοίων, ὤσπερ ἀμέλει τὸ ἄρρεν συνήγαγε πρὸς τὸ θη̑λν, καὶ οὐχ ἑκάτεπον πρὸς τὸ ὁμόφυλον, καὶ τὴν πρώτην ὁμόνοιαν διὰ τω̑ν ἐναντίων συνη̑ψεν, οὐ διὰ τω̑ν ὁμοίων. ἔοικε δὲ καὶ ἡ τέχνη τὴν φύσιν μιμουμένη του̑το ποιει̑ν. ζωγραφία μὲν γάρ, λευκω̑ν τε καὶ μελάνων, ὠχρω̑ν τε καὶ ἐρυθρω̑ν χρωμάτων ἐγκερασαμένη φύσεις, τὰς εἰκόνας τοι̑ς προηγουμένοις ἀπετέλεσε συμφώνους. μουσικὴ δέ, ὀξει̑ς ἅμα καὶ βαρει̑ς, μακρούς τε καὶ βραχει̑ς φθόγγους μίξασα, ἐν διαφόροις φωναι̑ς, μίαν ἀπετέλεσεν ἁρμονίαν. γραμματικὴ δέ, ἐκ φωνηέντων καὶ ἀφώνων γραμμάτων κράσιν ποιησαμένη, τὴν ὅλην τέχνην ἀτ’ αὐτω̑ν συνεστήσατο. ταὐτὸ δὲ του̑το ἠ̑ν καὶ τὸ παρὰ τῳ̑ σκοτεινῳ̑ λεγόμενον ‘Ηρακλείτῳ. συνάψειας οὐ̑λα καὶ οὐχὶ οὐ̑λα, συμφερόμενον καὶ διαφερόμενον, συνᾳ̑δον καὶ διᾳ̑δον, καὶ ἐκ πάντων ἕν, καὶ ἐξ ἑνὸς πάντα. And in the following Passage, μία δὲ ἐκ πάντων ἁρμονία συνᾳδόντων καὶ χορευόντων κατὰ τὸν οὐρανόν, ἐξ ἑνός τε γίνεται, καὶ εἰς ἕν ἀπολήγει. κόσμον δ’ ἐτύμως τὸ σύμπαν, ἀλλ’ οὐχ ἀκοσμίαν ὀνομάσαις ἄν. καθάπερ δὲ ἐν χορῳ̑ κορυ-φαίου κατάρξαντος, συνεπηχει̑ πα̑ς ὁ χορὸς ἀνδρω̑ν, ἔσθ’ ὅτε καὶ γυναικω̑ν, ἐν διαφόροις φωναι̑ς ὀξυτέραις καὶ βαρυτέραις, μίαν ἀρμονίαν ἐμμελη̑ κεραννύντων, οὕτως ἔχει καὶ ἐπὶ του̑ τὸ σύμπαν διέποντος Θεου̑. [And perhaps Nature wants opposites too, and wants to make harmony out of them, not out of similars; as, for instance, she brings the male to the female and not each of these to one of his or her own sex; and she made the first concord by means of opposites, not similars. Art too seems to do this in imitation of nature. For painting, by combining the natures of black and white, yellow and red, makes its representations correspond with their types. Music, uniting sharp and grave notes, and long and short syllables, makes one harmony among different sounds. Grammar too, bringing together vowels and consonants, builds her whole art upon them. This is the very point which was given forth by Heraclitus the Obscure, who said, “combine wholes and parts, that which is dispersed and that which is united, that which makes discord and that which is in unison, and out of all comes one and out of one comes all.” . . . There is one harmony arising from all the bodies which sound together and circle in the sky, and it springs from one thing and ends in one. We might with correct etymology call the universe an order, but not a disorder. And, just as in a chorus, when the leader has led off, all the band of men (and sometimes women) joins in, making by combination of different voices, higher and lower, one harmony in unison, so it is also in the case of the Deity who controls the universe.] See VOL. II. pag. 214. And above, pag. 182, 3, 4, 5. in the Notes.
[* ]Viz. Supra, MISC. I. chap. 2.
[* ]Magna inter molles Concordia. Juven. Sat. ii. ver. 47.
[* ] To see the Incorrigibleness of our Poets in their pedantick Manner, their Vanity, Defiance of Criticism, their Rhodomontade, and poetical Bravado; we need only turn to our famous Poet-Laureat (the very Mr. Bays himself) in one of his latest and most valu’d Pieces, writ many years after the ingenious Author of the Rehearsal had drawn his Picture. “I have been listening” (says our Poet, in his Preface to Don Sebastian) “what Objections had been made against the Conduct of the Play, but found them all so trivial, that if I shou’d name them, a true Critick wou’d imagine that I plaid booty—Some are pleas’d to say the Writing is dull. But aetatem habet, de se loquatur. [But he is mature, let him speak for himself.] Others, that the double Poison is unnatural. Let the common receiv’d Opinion, and Ausonius’s famous Epigram answer that. Lastly, a more ignorant sort of Creatures than either of the former, maintain that the Character of Dorax is not only unnatural, but inconsistent with it-self. Let them read the Play, and think again.—A longer Reply is what those Cavillers deserve not. But I will give them and their Fellows to understand, that the Earl of * * * was pleas’d to read the Tragedy twice over before it was acted, and did me the favour to send me word, that I had written beyond any of my former Plays, and that he was displeas’d any thing shou’d be cut away. If I have not reason to prefer his single Judgment to a whole Faction, let the World be judge: For the Opposition is the same with that of Lucan’s Hero against an Army, concurrere Bellum atque Virum [they run together the war and the man.] I think I may modestly conclude, &c.”
Thus he goes on, to the very end, in the self-same Strain. Who, after this, can ever say of the Rehearsal-Author, that his Picture of our Poet was over-charg’d, or the national Humour wrong describ’d?”
[* ]Viz.Plato, Aristotle. See, in particular, the Phaedrus of the former; where an entire Piece of the Orator Lysias is criticiz’d in form.
[† ] The distinction of Treatises was into the ἀκροαματικοί and ἐξωτερικοί [esoteric . . . [versus] . . . exoteric].
[‡ ] The Rehearsal. See VOL. I. pag. 259. and just above, pag. 277. in the Notes.
[* ]Viz. VOL. I. pag. 207, 208. and 277, 278. and 336, &c. So above, pag. 260. and in the Notes.
[* ] ——Poterat duci quia Coena sine istis. Hor. Ars Poet. ver. 376.
[† ]Supra, p. 135, 189.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 193, &c. and pag. 257.
[† ] That he is conscious of this, we may gather from that Line or two of Advertisement, which stands at the beginning of his first Edition. “As for the Characters, and Incidents, they are neither wholly feign’d (says he) nor wholly true: but according to the Liberty allow’d in the way of DIALOGUE, the principal Matters are founded upon Truth; and the rest as near resembling as may be. ’Tis a Sceptick recites: and the Hero of the Piece passes for an Enthusiast. If a perfect Character be wanting; ’tis the same Case here, as with the Poets in some of their best Pieces. And this surely is a sufficient Warrant for the Author of a PHILOSOPHICAL ROMANCE.”—Thus our Author himself; who to conceal, however, his strict Imitation of the antient poetick DIALOGUE, has prefix’d an auxiliary Title to his Work, and given it the Sirname of RHAPSODY: As if it were merely of that Essay or mix’d kind of Works, which come abroad with an affected Air of Negligence and Irregularity. But whatever our Author may have affected in his Title-Page, ’twas so little his Intention to write after that Model of incoherent Workmanship, that it appears to be sorely against his Will, if this Dialogue-Piece of his has not the just Character, and correct Form of those antient Poems describ’d. He wou’d gladly have constituted ONE single Action and Time, sutable to the just Simplicity of those Dramatick Works. And this, one wou’d think, was easy enough for him to have done. He needed only to have brought his first Speakers immediately into Action, and sav’d the narrative or recitative Part of PhiloclestoPalemon, by producing them as speaking Personages upon his Stage. The Scene all along might have been the Park. From the early Evening to the late Hour of Night, that the two Galants withdrew to their Town-Apartments, there was sufficient time for the Narrator Philocles, to have recited the whole Transaction of the second and third Part; which wou’d have stood thro’out as it now does: only at the Conclusion, when the narrative or recitative Part had ceas’d, the simple and direct DIALOGUE wou’d have again return’d, to grace the Exit. By this means the temporal as well as local Unity of the Piece had been preserv’d. Nor had our Author been necessitated to commit that Anachronism, of making his first Part, in order, to be last in time.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 202, &c.
[* ] VOL. II. pag. 187, 188.
[* ]See VOL. I. pag. 193, &c.
[* ] VOL. II. pag. 256. And below, pag. 310.
[† ] VOL. I. pag. 38.
[‡ ] VOL. II. pag. 252, 432.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 141.
[3 ]Nam verae Voces tum demum pectore ab imo Eliciuntur.
[* ] VOL. II. pag. 256.
[* ] [Are you for following this hook or that? You must submit to each master in turn, with wavering allegiance.]
See VOL. I. pag. 285, 309, 323, &c.
[† ] [Great father of the Gods, condescend to punish the cruelty of tyrants in no other way, when fierce passion dipped in fiery poison has stirred their souls. Let them look upon virtue and pine to think that they have abandoned her.]
[‡ ] καὶ μανθάνω μὲν οἱ̑α τολμήσω κακά· θυμὸς δὲ κρείσσων τω̑ν ἐμω̑ν βουλευ-μάτων. Eurip. Med. Act. iv. 1078. [And well I know the crime I shall commit, yet rage is stronger than all counsel.]
[4 ] ——Video meliora proboque, Deteriora sequor.
[* ]Viz. The Moralists, or Philosophick Dialogue, recited in the Person of a Sceptick, under the name of Philocles. See Treatise V. VOL. II. pag. 206, 207, &c.
[* ]Supra, pag. 70, 71.
[† ] VOL. I. pag. 146, 147.
[* ] VOL. II. pag. 321, 2, 3, 4, &c.
[* ] The pious and learned BishopTaylor, in his Treatise on the Liberty of Prophesying, printed in his Collection of Polemical and Moral Discourses, Anno 1657. The Pages answering to the Places above-cited are 401, 402, (and in the Epistle-Dedicatory, three or four Leaves before) 438, 439–444, 451, 452. After which, in the succeeding Page, he sums up his Sense on this Subject of sacred Literature, and the Liberty of Criticism, and of private Judgment and Opinion in these Matters, in the following words: “Since there are so many Copys, with infinite Varietys of Reading; since a various Interpunction, a Parenthesis, a Letter, an Accent may much alter the Sense; since some Places have divers literal Senses, many have spiritual, mystical, and allegorical Meanings; since there are so many Tropes, Metonymys, Ironys, Hyperboles, Proprietys and Improprietys of Language, whose understanding depends upon such Circumstances, that it is almost impossible to know the proper Interpretation, now that the knowledg of such Circumstances and particular Storys is irrecoverably lost: since there are some Mysterys, which at the best Advantage of Expression, are not easy to be apprehended, and whose Explication, by reason of our Imperfections, must needs be dark, sometimes weak, sometimes unintelligible: And lastly, since those ordinary means of expounding Scripture, as searching the Originals, Conference of Places, Parity of Reason, and Analogy of Faith, are all dubious, uncertain, and very fallible; he that is the wisest, and by consequence the likeliest to expound truest, in all probability of Reason, will be very far from Confidence; because every one of these, and many more, are like so many degrees of Improbability and Incertainty, all depressing our Certainty of finding out Truth, in such Mysterys, and amidst so many Difficultys. And therefore a wise Man that considers this, wou’d not willingly be prescrib’d to by others; for it is best every Man shou’d be left in that liberty, from which no Man can justly take him, unless he cou’d secure him from Error.” The Reverend Prelate had but a few Pages before (viz. pag. 427.) acknowledg’d, indeed, “That we had an Apostolical Warrant to contend earnestly for the Faith.” But then, (says the good Bishop, very candidly and ingenuously) “As these Things recede farther from the Foundation, our Certainty is the less.—And therefore it were very fit that our Confidence shou’d be according to our Evidence, and our Zeal according to our Confidence.” He adds, pag. 507. “All these Disputes concerning Tradition, Councils, Fathers, &c. are not Arguments against or besides Reason, but Contestations and Pretenses of the best Arguments, and the most certain Satisfaction of our Reason. But then all these coming into question, submit themselves to Reason, that is, to be judg’d by human Understanding, upon the best Grounds and Information it can receive. So that Scripture, Tradition, Councils, and Fathers, are the Evidence in a Question, but Reason is the Judg: That is, we being the Persons that are to be persuaded, we must see that we be persuaded reasonably; and it is unreasonable to assent to a lesser Evidence, when a greater and clearer is propounded: but of that every Man for himself is to take cognizance, if he be able to judg; if he be not, he is not bound under the tie of necessity to know any thing of it.”
[* ]Viz. Archbishop Tillotson in his Rule of Faith, pag. 677.
[* ] His Grace subjoins immediately: “The Traditionary Church now, receives the Epistle to the Hebrews as Canonical. I ask, Do they receive it as ever deliver’d for such? That they must, if they receive it from Oral Tradition, which conveys things to them under this Notion as ever deliver’d; and yet St. Hierom (speaking not as a Speculator, but a Testifier) says expressly of it, That the Custom of the Latin Church doth not receive it among the Canonical Scriptures. What saith Mr. S . . . . to this? It is clear from this Testimony, that the Roman Church in St. Hierom’s time did not acknowledg this Epistle for Canonical; and ’tis as plain, that the present Roman Church doth receive it for Canonical.”
[† ] Pag. 678.
[* ] The Reader perhaps may find it worth while to read after this, what the Archbishop represents (pag. 716, &c.) of the plausible Introduction of the grossest Article of Belief, in the times when the Habit of making Creeds came in fashion. And accordingly it may be understood, of what effect the dogmatizing Practice in Divinity has ever been. “We will suppose then, that about the time, when universal Ignorance, and the genuine Daughter of it, (call her Devotion or Superstition) had over-spread the World, and the generality of People were strongly inclin’d to believe strange things; and even the greatest Contradictions were recommended to them under the notion of MYSTERYS, being told by their Priests and Guides, That the more contradictious any thing is to Reason, the greater merit there is in believing it: I say, let us suppose, that in this state of things, one or more of the most Eminent then in the Church, either out of Design, or out of superstitious Ignorance and Mistake of the Sense of our Saviour’s Words used in the Consecration of the Sacrament, shou’d advance this new Doctrine, that the words of Consecration, &c. * * * Such a Doctrine as this was very likely to be advanc’d by the ambitious Clergy of that time, as a probable means to draw in the People to a greater Veneration of them. * * * Nor was such a Doctrine less likely to take and prevail among the People, in an Age prodigiously ignorant and strongly inclin’d to Superstition, and thereby well-prepar’d to receive the grossest Absurdities under the notion of Mysterys. * * * Now supposing such a Doctrine as this, so fitted to the Humour and Temper of the Age, to be once asserted either by chance or out of design, it wou’d take like Wild-fire; especially if by some one or more who bore sway in the Church, it were but recommended with convenient Gravity and Solemnity. * * * * And for the Contradictions contain’d in this Doctrine, it was but telling the People then, (as they do in effect now) That Contradictions ought to be no Scruple in the way of Faith; That the more impossible any thing is, ’tis the fitter to be believ’d; That it is not praise-worthy to believe plain Possibilitys, but this is the Gallantry and heroical Power of Faith, this is the way to oblige God Almighty for ever to us, to believe flat and downright Contradictions. * * * The more absurd and unreasonable any thing is, it is for that very reason the more proper matter for an Article of Faith. And if any of these Innovations be objected against, as contrary to former Belief and Practice, it is but putting forth a lusty Act of Faith, and believing another Contradiction, That tho they be contrary, yet they are the same.” Above, pag. 80, 1, 2.
[* ] VOL. I. pag. 362.
[* ]Gondibert, Book ii. Canto 1.
[* ]Supra, pag. 89.