Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

novelist or essayist. He was born in Holland in 1670, but seems early to have come to England, where he practised as a physician. After some obscure works, Mandeville produced, in 1723, his celebrated Fable of The Bees, or Private Vices Made Public Benefits, which was soon rendered conspicuous by being presented by the grand jury of Middlesex, on account of its immoral and pernicious tendency. Bishop Berkeley answered the arguments of the Fable, and Mandeville replied in Letters to Dion. He also published Free Thoughts on Religion, and An Inquiry into the Origin of Honour, and the Usefulness of Christianity in War, both of which, like his Fable, were of questionable tendency. He died in 1733.

The satire of Mandeville is general, not individual; yet his examples are strong and lively pictures. He describes the faults and corruptions of different professions and forms of society, and then attempts to ex-show that they are subservient to the grandeur and worldly happiness of the whole. If mankind, he says, could be cured of the failings they are naturally guilty of, they would cease to be capable of forming vast, potent, and polite societies. His object was chiefly to divert the reader, being conscious that mankind are not easily reasoned out of their follies. Another of the paradoxes of Mandeville is, that charity schools, and all sorts of education, are injurious to the lower classes. The view which he takes of human nature is low and degrading enough to have been worthy the adoption of Swift; and some of his descriptions are not inferior to those of the dean. For example:

not embarrassed with the pride, luxury, ambition, and envy, of the upper part of mankind. He told me I might judge of the happiness of this state by this one thing, namely, that this was the state of life which all other people envied; that kings have frequently lamented the miserable consequences of being born to great things, and wished they had been placed in the middle of the two extremes, between the mean and the great; that the wise man gave his testimony to this, as the just standard of true felicity, when he prayed to have neither poverty nor riches.

He bade me observe it, and I should always find that the calamities of life were shared among the upper and lower part of mankind; but that the middle station had the fewest disasters, and was not exposed to so many vicissitudes as the higher or lower part of mankind; nay, they were not subjected to so many distempers and uneasinesses, either of body or mind, as those were who, by vicious living, luxury, and travagances on one hand, or by hard labour, want of necessaries, and mean or insufficient diet on the other hand, bring distempers upon themselves by the natural consequences of their way of living; that the middle station of life was calculated for all kind of virtues, and all kind of enjoyments; that peace and plenty were the handmaids of a middle fortune; that tem

perance, moderation, quietness, health, society, all agreeable diversions, and all desirable pleasures, were the blessings attending the middle station of life; that this way men went silently and smoothly through the world, and comfortably out of it; not embarrassed with the labours of the hands or of the head; not sold to a life of slavery for daily bread, or harassed with perplexed circumstances, which rob the soul of peace and the body of rest; not enraged with the passion of envy, or the secret burning lust of ambition for great things but in casy circumstances, sliding gently through the world, and sensibly tasting the sweets of living without the bitter; feeling that they are happy, and learning, by every day's experience, to know it more sensibly.

After this he pressed me earnestly, and in the most affectionate manner, not to play the young man, or to precipitate myself into miseries, which nature, and the station of life I was born in, seem to have provided against; that I was under no necessity of seeking my bread; that he would do well for me, and endeavour to enter me fairly into the station of life which he had been just recommending to me; and that, if I was not very easy and happy in the world, it must be my mere fate, or fault, that must hinder it; and that he should have nothing to answer for, having thus discharged his duty, in warning me against measures which he knew would be to my hurt. In a word, that as he would do very kind things for me, if I would stay and settle at home as he directed, so he would not have so much hand in my misfortunes as to give me any encouragement to go away; and, to close all, he told me I had my elder brother for my example, to whom he had used the same earnest persuasions to keep him from going into the Low Country wars, but could not prevail, his young desires prompting him to run into the army, where he was killed; and though he said he would not cease to pray for me, yet he would venture to say to me, that if I did take this foolish step, God would not bless me--and I would have leisure hereafter to reflect upon having neglected his counsel, when there might be none to assist in my recovery.


BERNARD MANDEVILLE, author of The Fable of The Bees, was a nervous and graphic writer, who squandered upon useless and lax speculations powers that would have fitted him admirably for being a

[Flattery of the Great.]

If you ask me where to look for those beautiful shining qualities of prime ministers, and the great favourites of princes, that are so finely painted in dedications, addresses, epitaphs, funeral sermons, and inscriptions, I answer, There, and nowhere else. Where would you look for the excellency of a statue but in that part which you see of it? 'Tis the polished outside only that has the skill and labour of the sculptor to boast of; what is out of sight is untouched. Would you break the head or cut open the breast to look for the brains or the heart, you would only show your ignorance, and destroy the workmanship. This has often made me compare the virtues of great men to your large China jars: they make a fine show, and are ornamental even to a chimney. One would, by the bulk they appear in, and the value that is set upon them, think they might be very useful; but look into a thousand of them, and you will find nothing in them but dust and cobwebs.

[Society Compared to a Bowl of Punch.] Abundance of moderate men I know that are enemies to extremes will tell me that frugality might happily supply the place of the two vices, prodigality and avarice; that if men had not so many profuse ways of spending wealth, they would not be tempted to so many evil practices to scrape it together, and consequently that the same number of men, by equally avoiding both extremes, might render themselves | more happy, and be less vicious without than they could with them. Whoever argues thus, shows himself a better man than he is a politician. Frugality is like honesty, a mean starving virtue, that is only fit for small societies of good peaceable men, who are contented to be poor so they may be easy; but in a large stirring nation, you may have soon enough of it. 'Tis an idle dreaming virtue that employs no hands, and therefore very useless in a trading country, where there are vast numbers that one way or other must be all set to work. Prodigality has a thousand

inventions to keep people from sitting still, that frugality would never think of; and as this must consume a prodigious wealth, so avarice again knows innumerable tricks to rake it together, which frugality would scorn to make use of.

Authors are always allowed to compare small things to great ones, especially if they ask leave first; but to compare great things to mean trivial ones is unsufferable, unless it be in burlesque; otherwise, I would compare the body politic (I confess the simile is very low) to a bowl of punch. Avarice should be the souring, and prodigality the sweetening of it. The water I would call the ignorance, folly, and credulity of the floating insipid multitude; whilst wisdom, honour, fortitude, and the rest of the sublime qualities of men, which, separated by art from the dregs of nature, the fire of glory has exalted and refined into a spiritual essence, should be an equivalent to brandy. I don't doubt but a Westphalian, Laplander, or any other dull stranger that is unacquainted with the wholesome composition, if he was to taste the several ingredients apart, would think it impossible they should make any tolerable liquor. The lemons would be too sour, the sugar too luscious, the brandy, he will say, is too strong ever to be drunk in any quantity, and the water he will call a tasteless liquor, only fit for cows and horses; yet experience teaches us that the ingredients I named, judiciously mixed, will make an excellent liquor, liked of and admired by men of exquisite palates.*

[Pomp and Superfluity.]

If the great ones of the clergy, as well as the laity, of any country whatever, had no value for earthly pleasures, and did not endeavour to gratify their appetites, why are envy and revenge, so raging among them, and all the other passions, improved and refined upon in courts of princes more than anywhere else; and why are their repasts, their recreations, and whole manner of living, always such as are approved of, coveted, and imitated by the most sensual people of the same country? If, despising all visible decorations, they were only in love with the embellishments of the mind, why should they borrow so many of the implements, and make use of the most darling toys, of the luxurious? Why should a lord treasurer, or a bishop, or even the Grand Signior, or the Pope of Rome, to be good and virtuous, and endeavour the conquest of his passions, have occasion for greater revenues, richer furniture, or a more numerous attendance as to personal service, than a private man? What virtue is it the exercise of which requires so much pomp and superfluity as are to be seen by all men in power? A man has as much opportunity to practise temperance that has but one dish at a meal, as he that is constantly served with three courses and a dozen dishes in each. One may exercise as much patience and be as full of self-denial on a few flocks, without curtains or tester, as in a velvet bed that is sixteen foot high. The virtuous possessions of the mind are neither charge nor burden: a man may bear misfortunes with fortitude in a garret, forgive injuries a-foot, and be chaste, though he has not a shirt to his back; and therefore I shall never believe but that an indifferent skuller, if he was intrusted with it, might carry all the learning and religion that one man can contain, as well as a barge with six oars, especially if it was but to cross from Lambeth to

* This simile of Mandeville may have suggested the very humorous one in the Rejected Addresses,' where Cobbett is made to say-England is a large earthenware pipkin. John Bull is the beef thrown into it. Taxes are the hot water he boils in. Rotten boroughs are the fuel that blazes under this same pipkin. Parliament is the ladle that stirs the hodgepodge.'


Westminster; or that humility is so ponderous a virtue, that it requires six horses to draw it.


ANDREW FLETCHER, born in 1653, the son of a Scottish knight, succeeded early to the family estate of Saltoun, and represented the shire of Lothian in the Scottish parliament in the reign of Charles II. He opposed the arbitrary designs of the Duke of York, afterwards James II., and retired to Holland. His estate was confiscated; but he returned to England with the Duke of Monmouth in 1685. Happening, in a personal scuffle, to kill the mayor of Lynn, Fletcher again went abroad, and travelled in Spain. He returned at the period of the Revolution, and took an active part in Scottish affairs. His opinions were republican, and he was of a haughty unbending temper; brave as the sword he wore,' according to a contemporary, and bold as a lion: a sure friend, and an irreconcilable enemy: would lose his life readily to serve his country, and would not do a base thing to save it.' Fletcher opposed the union of Scotland with England in 1707, believing, with many zealous but narrow-sighted patriots of that day, that it would eclipse the glory of ancient Caledonia. He died in 1716. Fletcher wrote several political discourses. One of these, entitled An Account of a Conversation concerning a Right Regulation of Governments for the Common Good of Mankind, in a Letter to the Marquis of Montrose, the Earls of Rothes, Roxburgh, and Haddington, from London, the first of December, 1703, is forcibly written, and contains some strong appeals in favour of Scottish independence, as well as some just and manly sentiments. In this letter occurs a saying often quoted, and which has been (by Lord Brougham and others) erroneously ascribed to the Earl of Chatham: I knew a very wise man that believed that if a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation.' The newspaper may now be said to have supplanted the ballad; yet, during the late war, the naval songs of Dibdin fanned the flame of national courage and patriotism. An excessive admiration of the Grecian and Roman republics led Fletcher to eulogise even the slavery that prevailed in those states. He represents their condition as happy and useful; and, as a contrast to it, he paints the state of the lowest class in Scotland in colours that, if true, show how frightfully disorganised the country was at that period. In his Second Discourse on the Affairs of Scotland, 1698, there occurs the following sketch:

There are at this day in Scotland (besides a great many poor families very meanly provided for by the church boxes, with others who, by living on bad food, fall into various diseases) two hundred thousand people begging from door to door. These are not only no way advantageous, but a very grievous burden to so poor a country. And though the number of them be perhaps double to what it was formerly, by reason of this present great distress, yet in all times there have been about one hundred thousand of those vagabonds, who have lived without any regard or subjection either to the laws of the land, or even those of God and nature. No magistrate could ever be informed, or discover, which way one in a hundred of these wretches died, have been discovered among them; and they are or that ever they were baptised. Many murders not only a most unspeakable oppression to poor tenants (who, if they give not bread, or some kind of provision, to perhaps forty such villains in one day, are sure to be insulted by them), but they rob many poor people who live in houses distant

from any neighbourhood. In years of plenty, many thousands of them meet together in the mountains, where they feast and riot for many days; and at country weddings, markets, burials, and the like public occasions, they are to be seen, both men and women, perpetually drunk, cursing, blaspheming, and fighting together. These are such outrageous disorders, that it were better for the nation they were sold to the galleys or West Indies, than that they should continue any longer to be a burden and curse upon us.'

and Government, his Letters on the Sacramental Test, Argument against the Abolition of Christianity, and Predictions for the Year 1708, by Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq. Various political tracts followed, the most conspicuous of which are, The Conduct of the Allies, published in 1712, and The Public Spirit of the Whigs, in 1714. The latter incensed the Duke of Argyle and other peers so much, that a proclamation offering a reward of £300 was issued for the discovery of the author. In 1713, Swift was rewarded with the deanery of St Patrick's in Dublin; but the destruction of all his hopes of further preferment followed soon after, on the accession of the House of Hanover to the throne, and the return of the Whig party to power. He withdrew to Ireland, a disappointed man, full of bitterness against many of the men and things of his age. His feelings partly found vent in several works which he published on national subjects, and which rendered him exceedingly_popular-A Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufactures, and Letters by M. B. Drapier against Wood's patent for supplying Ireland with a copper coinage. His talents were in full vigour, and his mind, ever active, poured forth a vast number of slight pieces on the topics of the day. In 1726 appeared Gulliver's Travels, the most original and extraordinary of all his productions. A few of his friends-Pope, Bolingbroke, Gay, and Arbuthnotwere in the secret as to the authorship of this satirical romance; but it puzzled the world in no ordinary degree, and this uncertainty tended to increase the interest and attraction of the work. While courtiers and politicians recognised in the adventures of Gulliver many satirical allusions to the court and politics of England-to Walpole, Bolingbroke, the Prince of Wales, the two contending parties in the state, and various matters of secret history-the great mass of ordinary readers saw and felt only the wonder and fascination of the narrative. The appearance, occupations, wars, and pursuits of the tiny Lilliputians-the gigantic Brobdingnagians-the fearful, misanthropic picture of the Yahoos-with the philosophic researches at Laputa--all possessed novelty and attraction for the mere unlearned reader, who was alternately agitated with emotions of surprise, delight, astonishment, pity, and reprobation. The charm of Swift's style, so simple, pure, and unaffected, and the apparent earnestness and sincerity with which he dwells on the most improbable circumstances, are displayed in full perfection in Gulliver, which was the most carefully finished of all his works. Some tracts on ecclesiastical questions, and the best of his poetry, were afterwards produced. His other prose works were, A History of the Four Last Years of Queen Anne (not published till long after his death), Polite Conversation, a happy satire on the frivolities of fashionable life, and Directions for Servants, a fragment which also appeared after his death, and on which he bestowed considerable pains. It exemplifies the habit of minute observation which distinguished Swift, and which sometimes rendered him no very agreeable inmate of a house. Various editions of Swift's works have been published, but the best and most complete is that by Sir Walter Scott, in nineteen volumes. His rank as a writer has long since been established. In originality and strength he has no superior, and in wit and irony-the latter of which



The most powerful and original prose writer of this period was DR SWIFT, the celebrated dean of St Patrick's. We have already noticed his poetry, which formed only a sort of interlude in the strangely mingled drama of his life. None of his works were written for mere fame or solitary gratification. His restless and insatiate ambition prompted him to wield his pen as a means of advancing his interests, or expressing his personal feelings, caprices, or resentment. In a letter to Bolingbroke, he says'All my endeavours, from a boy, to distinguish myself, were only for want of a great title and fortune, that I might be used like a lord by those who have an opinion of my parts-whether right or wrong, it is no great matter; and so the reputation of wit or great learning does the office of a blue ribbon, or of a coach and six horses.' This was but a poor and sordid ambition, and it is surprising that it bore such fruit. The first work of any importance by Swift was a political tract, written in 1701, to vindicate the Whig patriots, Somers, Halifax, and Portland, who had been impeached by the House of Commons. The author was then of the ripe age of thirty-four; for Swift, unlike his friend Pope, came but slowly to the maturity of his powers. treatise was entitled A Discourse of the Contests and Dissensions between the Nobles and Commons of Athens and Rome. It is plainly written, without irony or eloquence. One sentence (the last in the fourth chapter) closes with a fine simile. Although,' he says, most revolutions of government in Greece and Rome began with the tyranny of the people, yet they generally concluded in that of a single person: so that an usurping populace is its own dupe; a mere underworker, and a purchaser in trust for some single tyrant, whose state and power may advance to their own ruin, with as blind an instinct as those worms that die with weaving magnificent habits for beings of a superior nature to their own.' Swift's next work was his Battle of the Books, written to support his patron, Sir William Temple, in his dispute as to the relative merits of ancient and modern learning. The Battle of the Books' exhibits all the characteristics of Swift's style, its personal satire, and strong racy humour. These qualities were further displayed in his Tale of a Tub, written about the same time, and first published in 1704. The object of his powerful satire was here of a higher cast; it was to ridicule the Roman Catholics and Presbyterians, with a view of exalting the High Church of England party. His three heroes, Peter, Martin, and Jack, represent Popery, the Church of England, and the Protestant dissenters; and their adventures, if not very decorous, are at least irresistibly ludicrous. How any clergyman could write and publish in such a strain on religious subjects, must ever remain a marvel. But Swift published anonymously. He soon grew dissatisfied with the Whigs, and his next publications united him with the Tory party. In 1708 appeared his Sentiments of a Church of England Man, in Respect to Religion

he was born to introduce, Refined it first, and showed its use

he shines equally pre-eminent. He was deficient in purity of taste and loftiness of imagination. The frequency with which he dwells on gross and disgusting images, betrays a callousness of feeling that

wholly debarred him from the purer regions of at least put the senate to the trouble of another securromance. He could

Laugh and shake in Rabelais' easy chair; though it was still, as Coleridge has remarked, the soul of Rabelais dwelling in a dry place.' Of the serious air' of Cervantes, which Pope has also bestowed on his friend, the traces are less frequent and distinct. We can scarcely conceive him to have ever read the 'Faery Queen' or ' Midsummer Night's Dream.' The palpable and familiar objects of life were the sources of his inspiration; and in fictitious narrative, he excels, like Richardson and Defoe, by painting and grouping minute particulars, that impart to his most extravagant conceptions an air of sober truth and reality. Always full of thought and observation, his clear perspicuous style never tires in the perusal. When exhausted by the works of imaginative writers, or the ornate periods of statesmen and philosophers, the plain, earnest, and manly pages of Swift, his strong sense, keen observation, and caustic wit, are felt to be a legacy of inestimable value. He was emphatically a master in English literature, and as such, with all his faults, is entitled to our reverence.

The satirical vein of Swift is well exemplified in his 'Argument against Abolishing Christianity,' the very title of which is a specimen of grave irony. It runs as follows:-'An Argument to prove that the Abolishing of Christianity in England may, as things now stand, be attended with some inconveniences, and perhaps not produce those many good effects proposed thereby.' Two specimens of this tract are presented.

[Inconveniences from a Proposed Abolition of Christianity.]

I am very sensible how much the gentlemen of wit and pleasure are apt to murmur and be shocked at the sight of so many daggle-tail parsons, who happen to fall in their way, and offend their eyes; but, at the same time, those wise reformers do not consider what an advantage and felicity it is for great wits to be always provided with objects of scorn and contempt, in order to exercise and improve their talents, and divert their spleen from falling on each other, or on themselves; especially when all this may be done without the least imaginable danger to their persons. And to urge another argument of a parallel nature: if Christianity were once abolished, how could the free-thinkers, the strong reasoners, and the men of profound learning, be able to find another subject so calculated in all points whereon to display their abilities? What wonderful productions of wit should we be deprived of from those whose genius, by continual practice, hath been wholly turned upon raillery and invectives against religion, and would, therefore, be never able to shine or distinguish themselves on any other subject? We are daily complaining of the great decline of wit among us, and would we take away the greatest, perhaps the only topic we have left? Who would ever have suspected Asgill for a wit or Toland for a philosopher, if the inexhaustible stock of Christianity had not been at hand to provide them with materials? What other subject through all art or nature could have produced Tindal for a profound author, or furnished him with readers? It is the wise choice of the subject that alone adorneth and distinguisheth the writer. For had a hundred such pens as these been employed on the side of religion, they would immediately have sunk into

silence and oblivion.

Nor do I think it wholly groundless, or my fears altogether imaginary, that the abolishing of Christianity may, perhaps, bring the church in danger, or

ing vote. I desire I may not be misunderstood; I am far from presuming to affirm or think that the church is in danger at present, or as things now stand, but we know not how soon it may be so, when the Christian religion is repealed. As plausible as this project seems, there may a dangerous design lurk under it. Nothing can be more notorious than that the atheists, deists, socinians, anti-trinitarians, and other subdivisions of free-thinkers, are persons of little zeal for the present ecclesiastical establishment. Their declared opinion is for repealing the sacramental test; they are very indifferent with regard to ceremonies; nor do they hold the jus divinum of episcopacy. Therefore this may be intended as one politic step towards altering the constitution of the church established, and setting up presbytery in its stead; which I leave to be farther considered by those at the helm.

And therefore if, notwithstanding all I have said, it shall still be thought necessary to have a bill brought in for repealing Christianity, I would humbly offer an amendment, that, instead of the word Christianity, may be put religion in general; which I conceive will much better answer all the good ends proposed by the projectors of it. For as long as we leave in being a God and his Providence, with all the necessary consequences which curious and inquisitive men will be apt to draw from such premises, we do not strike at the root of the evil, although we should ever so effectually annihilate the present scheme of the Gospel. For of what use is freedom of thought, if it will not produce freedom of action, which is the sole end, how remote soever in appearance, of all objections against Christianity? And therefore the free-thinkers consider it a sort of edifice, wherein all the parts have such a mutual dependence on each other, that if you happen to pull out one single nail, the whole fabric must fall to the ground.

[Arguments for the Abolition of Christianity Treated.]

It is likewise urged, that there are by computation in this kingdom above ten thousand parsons, whose revenues, added to those of my lords the bishops, would suffice to maintain at least two hundred young gentlemen of wit and pleasure, and free-thinking, enemies to priestcraft, narrow principles, pedantry, and prejudices, who might be an ornament to the court and town; and then, again, so great a number of able [bodied] divines might be a recruit to our fleet and armies. This, indeed, appears to be a consideration of some weight; but then, on the other side, several things deserve to be considered likewise: as, first, whether it may not be thought necessary that in certain tracts of country, like what we call parishes, there should be one man at least of abilities to read and write. Then it seems a wrong computation, that the revenues of the church throughout this island would be large enough to maintain two hundred young gentlemen, or even half that number, after the present refined way of living, that is, to allow each of them such a rent as, in the modern form of speech, would make them easy.



Another advantage proposed by the abolishing of Christianity, is the clear gain of one day in seven, which is now entirely lost, and consequently the kingdom one-seventh less considerable in trade, business, and pleasure; besides the loss to the public of so many stately structures now in the hands of the clergy, which might be converted into play-houses, market-houses, exchanges, common dormitories, and other public edifices.

I hope I shall be forgiven a hard word if I call this a cavil. I readily own there hath been an old custom, time out of mind, for people to assemble in the

churches every Sunday, and that shops are still fre- which are the constant practice of all men alive. quently shut up, in order, as it is conceived, to pre- But this objection is, I think, a little unworthy so serve the memory of that ancient practice; but how refined an age as ours. Let us argue this matter this can prove a hindrance to business or pleasure, is calmly: I appeal to the breast of any polite freehard to imagine. What if the men of pleasure are thinker, whether, in the pursuit of gratifying a preforced, one day in the week, to game at home instead dominant passion, he hath not always felt a wonderof the chocolate house? are not the taverns and cof- ful incitement by reflecting it was a thing forbidden; feehouses open? can there be a more convenient sea- and therefore we see, in order to cultivate this taste, son for taking a dose of physic? is not Sunday the the wisdom of the nation hath taken special care that chief day for traders to sum up the accounts of the the ladies should be furnished with prohibited silks, week, and for lawyers to prepare their briefs? But I and the men with prohibited wine. And indeed it would fain know how it can be pretended that the were to be wished that some other prohibitions were churches are misapplied? where are more appoint- promoted, in order to improve the pleasures of the ments and rendezvouses of gallantry? where more town; which, for want of such expedients, begin alcare to appear in the foremost box with greater ad-ready, as I am told, to flag and grow languid, giving vantage of dress? where more meetings for business? way daily to cruel inroads from the spleen. where more bargains driven of all sorts? and where so many conveniences or incitements to sleep?

There is one advantage, greater than any of the foregoing, proposed by the abolishing of Christianity: that it will utterly extinguish parties among us, by removing those factious distinctions of high and low church, of Whig and Tory, Presbyterian and Church of England, which are now so many grievous clogs upon public proceedings, and are apt to dispose men to prefer the gratifying themselves, or depressing their adversaries, before the most important interest of the


I confess, if it were certain that so great an advantage would redound to the nation by this expedient, I would submit, and be silent; but will any man say, that if the words drinking, cheating, lying, stealing, were by act of parliament ejected out of the English tongue and dictionaries, we should all awake next morning chaste and temperate, honest and just, and lovers of truth? Is this a fair consequence? Or if the physicians would forbid us to pronounce the words gout, rheumatism, and stone, would that expedient serve like so many talismans to destroy the diseases themselves? Are party and faction rooted in men's hearts no deeper than phrases borrowed from religion, or founded upon no firmer principles ? and is our own language so poor, that we cannot find other terms to express them? Are envy, pride, avarice, and ambition, such ill nomenclators, that they cannot furnish appellations for their owners? Will not heydukes and mamalukes, mandarines and pashaws, or any other words formed at pleasure, serve to distinguish those who are in the ministry from others who would be in it if they could? What, for instance, is easier than to vary the form of speech, and, instead of the word church, make it a question in politics, whether the Monument be in danger? Because religion was nearest at hand to furnish a few convenient phrases, is our invention so barren we can find no other? Suppose, for argument sake, that the Tories favoured Margarita, the Whigs Mrs Tofts, and the Trimmers Valentini, would not Margaritians, Toftians, and Valentinians be very tolerable marks of distinction? The Prasini and Veniti, two most virulent factions in Italy, began (if I remember right) by a distinction of colours in ribbons; and we might contend with as good a grace about the dignity of the blue and the green, which would serve as properly to divide the court, the parliament, and the kingdom between them, as any terms of art whatsoever borrowed from religion. And therefore I think there is little force in this objection against Christianity, or prospect of so great an advantage as is proposed in the abolishing of it.

It is again objected, as a very absurd ridiculous custom, that a set of men should be suffered, much less employed and hired, to bawl one day in seven against the lawfulness of those methods most in use towards the pursuit of greatness, riches, and pleasure,

1 Singers then in vogue.

[Ludicrous Image of Fanaticism.]

[From a Discourse on the Operation of the Spirit."] It is recorded of Mahomet, that upon a visit he was going to pay in Paradise, he had an offer of several vehicles to conduct him upwards; as, fiery chariots, winged horses, and celestial sedans; but he refused them all, and would be borne to heaven on nothing but his ass. Now, this inclination of Mahomet, as singular as it seems, hath since been taken up by a great number of devout Christians, and doubtless with good reason. For, since that Arabian is known to have borrowed a moiety of his religious system from the Christian faith, it is but just he should pay reprisals to such as would challenge them; wherein the good people of England, to do them all right, have not been backward. For though there is not any other nation in the world so plentifully provided with carriages for that journey, either as to safety or ease, yet there are abundance of us who will not be satisfied with any other machine besides this of Mahomet.


Meditation upon a Broomstick, according to the style and manner of the Hon. Robert Boyle's Meditations.

This single stick, which you now behold ingloriously lying in that neglected corner, I once knew in a flourishing state in a forest; it was full of sap, full of leaves, and full of boughs; but now in vain does the busy art of man pretend to vie with nature, by tying that withered bundle of twigs to its sapless trunk; it is now at best but the reverse of what it was, a tree turned upside down, the branches on the earth, and the root in the air; it is now handled by every dirty wench, condemned to do her drudgery, and, by a capricious kind of fate, destined to make her things clean, and be nasty itself; at length, worn out to the stumps in the service of the maids, it is either thrown out of doors, or condemned to the last use of kindling a fire. When I beheld this, I sighed, and said within myself, Surely mortal man is a broomstick! nature sent him into the world strong and lusty, in a thriving condition, wearing his own hair on his head, the proper branches of this reasoning vegetable, until the axe of intemperance has lopped off his green boughs, and left him a withered trunk; he then flies to art, and puts on a periwig, valuing himself upon an unnatural bundle of hairs, all covered with powder, that never grew on his head; but now, should this our broomstick pretend to enter the scene, proud of those birchen spoils it never bore, and all covered with dust, though the sweepings of the finest lady's chamber, we should be apt to ridicule and despise its vanity. Partial judges that we are of our own excellences, and other men's defaults!

But a broomstick, perhaps you will say, is an emblem of a tree standing on its head: and pray, what is man but a topsy-turvy creature, his animal

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »