Page images
PDF
EPUB

the streets of London and of Paris are crowd- faculties, and born under the same laws of ed. Call over those millions by name, and nature, ak them one by one, of what country they We shall see the fame virtues and vices, are: how many will you find, who from Aowing from the same principles, but varied different parts of the earth come to inhabit in a thousand different and contrary modes, these great cities, which afford the largeit according to that infinite variety of laws opportunitics and the largest encourage- and customs which is established for the ment to virtue and vice? Some are drawn same universal end, the preservation of so. by ambition, and some are sent by duty; ciety. We shall feel the same revolution many resort thither to improve their minds, of seasons, and the fame sun and moon will and many to improve their fortunes; others guide the course of our year. The same bring their beauty, and others their elo azure vault, bespangled with stars, will be quence to market. Remove from hence, every where spread over our heads. There and go to the utmost extremities of the is no partof the world from whence we may East or Welt: visit the barbarous nations not admire those planets which roll, like of Africa, or the inhospitable regions of ours, in different orbits round the same centhe North; you will find no climate so bad, tral fun; from whence we may not discover no country so savage, as not to have some an object ițill more ftupendous, that army people who come from abroad, and inhabit of fixed Itars hung up in the immense space thole by choice.

of the universe; innumerable suns, whole Among numberless extravagances which beams enlighten and cherish the unknown pass through the minds of men, we may worlds which roll around them : and whilit jułtly reckon for one that notion of a secret I am ravished by such contemplations as affection, independent of our reason, and these, whilst my soul is thus raised up to superior to our reason, which we are sup- heaven, it imports me little what ground posed to have for our country; as if there I tread upon.

Bolingbroke. were some physical virtue in every spot of ground, which necessarily produced this § 49. The Love of Fame. effect in every one born upon it.

I can by no means agree with you in Amor patriæ ratione valentior omni. thinking that the love of fame is a passion,

which either reason or religion condemns. This notion may have contributed to the I confess, indeed, there are some who have fecurity and grandeur of states. It has represented it as inconsistent with both; therefore been not unartfuliy cultivated, and I remember, in particular, the excellent and the prejudice of education has been author of The Religion of Nature deliwith care put on its fide. Men have come neated, has treated it as highly irrational in this case, as in many others, from be- and absurd. As the passage falls in so lieving that it ought to be so, to persuade thoroughly with your own turn of thought, others, and even to believe themselves that you will have no objection, I imagine, to it is so.

my quoting it at large and I give it you,

at the same time, as a very great authority Cannot birt a reflefling Man.

on your side. “In reality,” says that writer, Whatever is best is fafest; lies out of the the man is not known ever the more reach of human power; can neither be “ to posterity, because his name is transgiven nor taken away. Such is this great !! mitted to them: He doth not live because and beautiful work of nature, the world. « his name does. When it is said, Julius Such is the mind of man, which contem « Cæsar subdued Gaul, conquered Pompey, plates and admires the world, whereof it “ &c. it is the same thing as to say, the makes the noblest part. These are inse conqueror of Pompey was Julius Cæsar, parably ours, and as long as we remain in «i.e. Cæsar and the conqueror of Pompey one, we ihall enjoy the other. Let us " is the same thing; Cæsar is as much march therefore intrepidly wherever we “ known by one designation as by the are led by the course of human accidents. “ other. The amount then is only this: Wherever they lead us, on what coast ro. " that the conqueror of Pompey conquerever we are thrown by them, we shall not “ed Pompey; or rather, since Pompey is find ourselves absolutely strangers. We as little known now as Cæsar, somebody shall meet with men and women, creatures conquered somebody. Such a poor butiof the same figure, endowed with the same “ ness" is this boasted immortality! and

« such

« such is the thing called glory among us! birth, is herself represented as rejoicing that “ To discerning men this fame is mere air, all generations should call her ble sed, “ and what they despise, if not fhun.” To be convinced of the great advantage

But surely “ 'twere to consider too cu of cherishing this high regard to posterity, ^ riously,” as Horatio says to Hamlet, this noble delire of an after-life in the “ to consider thus.” For though fame breath of others, one need only look back with posterity should be, in the strict upon the history of the ancient Greeks and analysis of it, no other than what it is here Romans. What other principle was it, described, a mere uninteresting proposition, which produced that exalted strain of viramounting to nothing more than that some- tue in those days, that may well serve as a body acted meritoriously; yet it would not model to these? Was it not the consentiens necessarily follow, that true philosophy laus bonorum, the incorrupta vox bene judiwould banish the desire of it from the hu- cantum (as Tully calls it) the concurrent man breatt. For this passion may be (as approbation of the good, the uncorrupted most certainly it is) wisely implanted in our applause of the wise, that animated their species, notwithstanding the corresponding most generous pursuits ? object should in reality be very different To confess the truth, I have been ever from what it appears in imagination. Do inclined to think it a very dangerous atnot many of our most refined and even tempt, to endeavour to lessen the motives contemplative pleasures owe their existence of right conduct, or to raise any suspicion to our mistakes? It is but extending (1 concerning their folidity. The tempers will not say, improving) some of our senses and dispositions of mankind are so extrene. to a higher degree of acuteness than we ly different, that it seems necessary they now polless them, to make the fairelt views Mould be called into action by a variety of of nature, or the nobleft productions of incitements. Thus, while some are wilart, appear horrid and deformed. To feeling to wed virtue for her personal charms, things as they truly and in themselves are, others are engaged to take her for the sake would not always, perhaps, be of advan- of her expected dowry: and fince her foltage to us in the intellectual world, any lowers and admirers have so little hopes more than in the natural. But, after all, from her in present, it were pity, mewho shall certainly assure us, that the plea- thinks, to reason them out of any imaginsure of virtuous fame dies with its poffeffor, ed advantage in reversion. and reaches not to a farther scene of ex

Fitzofborne's Letters. ittence? There is nothing, it should seem, either abfurd or unphilolophical in suppor

$ 50. Ent bufalm. ing it possible at lealt, that the praises of Though I rejoice in the hope of seeing the good and the judicious, that sweetest enthusiaim expelled from her religious domusic to an honest ear in this world, may minions, let me intreat you to leave her in be echoed back to the mansions of the the undisturbed enjoyment of her civil posnext: that the poet's description of fame sessions. To own the truth, I look upon may be literally true, and though Me walks enthusiasm, in all other points but that of upon earth, she may yet lift her head into religion, to be a very necessary torn of heaven.

mind; as indeed it is a vein which nature But can it be reasonable to extinguish a seems to have marked with more or less paffion which nature has universally lighted strength in the tempers of most men. No up in the human breast, and which we con matter what the object is, whether busi. stantly find to burn with most strength and ness, pleasures, or the fine arts; whoever brightness in the nobleft and best formed pursues them to any purpose must do so bosoms? Accordingly revelation is so far con amore: and inamoratos, you know, of from endeavouring (as you suppose), to every kind, are all enthusiasts. There is eradicate the seed which 'nature hath thus indeed a certain heightening faculty which deeply planted, that the rather seems, on universally prevails through our ípecies; the contrary, to cherish and forward its and we are all of us, perhaps in our leve. growth. To be exalted with honour, and ral favourite pursuits, pretty much in the to be had in everlasting remembrance, are in circumstances of the renowned knight of the number of those encouragements which La Mancha, when he attacked the barthe Jewish dispensation offered to the vir- ber's brazen bason, for Mambrino’s golden tuous; as the person from whom the sacred helmet. author of the Christian system received his What is Tully's aliquid immenfum in

finitumque,

finitumque, which he professes to aspire after about religion, in order to model our faith in oratory, but a piece of true rhetorical to the fashion of his lordihip’s system. We Quixotism? Yet never, I will venture to have now nothing to do, but to throw away atürm, would he have glowed with so much our bibles, turn the churches into theatres, eloquence, had he been warmed with less and rejoice that an act of parliament now enthusiasm. I am persuaded indeed, that in force gives us an opportunity of getting nothing great or glorious was ever per- rid of the clergy by traniportation. I was formed, where this quality had not a prin. in hopes the extraordinary price of these cipal concern; and as our passions add vi- volumes would have confined their influgour to our a&tions, enthusiasm gives spirit ence to persons of quality. As they are to our passions. I might add too, that it placed above extreme indigence and abro. even opens and enlarges our capacities. lute want of bread, their loole notions would Accordingly I have been informed, that have carried them no further than cheating one of the great lights of the present age at cards, or perhaps plundering their counnever fits down to study, till he has raised try: but if these opinions spread among his imagination by the power of music. the vulgar, we shall be knocked down at For this purpose he has a band of instru- noon-day in our streets, and nothing will ments placed near his library, which play go forward but robberies and murders. till he finds himielf elevated to a proper The instances I have lately seen of free. height; upon which he gives a signal, and thinking in the lower part of the world, they inftantly cease.

make me fear, they are going to be as But those high conceits which are sug- fashionable and as wicked as their betters. gested by enthusiasm, contribute not only I went the other night to the Robin Hood, to the pleasure and perfection of the fine where it is usual for the advocates against arts, but to most other effects of our action religion to allemble, and openly avow their and industry. To ftrike this spirit there- infidelity. One of the questions for the fore out of the human constitution, to re- night was, “ Whether lord Bolingbroke duce things to their precise philosophical had not done greater service to mankind {tandard, would be to check some of the by his writings, than the apostles or evanmain wheels of society, and to fix half the gelists ?”. As this society is chiefly comworld in an useless apathy. For if enthu- posed of lawyers clerks, petty tradesmen, fjafm did not add an imaginary value to and the lowest mechanics, I was at first surmolt of the objects of our pursuit; if fancy prized at such amazing erudition among did not give them their brightest colours, them. Toland, Tindal, Collins, Chubb, they would generally perhaps, wear an and Mandeville, they seemed to have got appearance to contemptible to excite de. by heart. A shoe-maker harangued his fire:

five minutes upon the excellence of the

tenets maintained by lord Bolingbroke: Weary'd we should lie down in death, This cheat of life would take no more,

but I soon found that his reading had not If you thought fame an emp:y breath,

been extended beyond the idea of a Patriot i Phillis but a perjur'd whore. PRIOR. King, which he had mistaken for a glorious In a word, this enthusiasm for which I finiling at another of the company, who

fyftem of free-thinking. I could not help am pleading, is a beneficent enchantress, took pains to thew his disbelief of the gol, who never excrts her magic but to our ad. pel, by unfainting the apostles, and calling vantage, and only deals about her friendly them by no other title than plain Paul or spells in order to raise imaginary beauties, plain Peter. The proceedings of this foor to improve real ones. can be said of her is, that the is a kind deciety have indeed almost induced me to

wish that (like the Roman Catholics) they ceiver, and an obliging llatitrer.

were not permitted to read the bible, rather Fitzosborne's Letr.

than they should read it only to abuse it. $51. Free-thinking, t'e verious Ahujescom- tradesmen festling the most important ar

I have frequently heard many wise mitted by the bulgar in this point,

ticles of our faith over a pint of beer. A The publication of lord Bolingbroke's baker took occafion from Canning's affair posthumous works has given new life and to maintain, in opposition to the scriptures

, spirit to free-thinking. We seem at present that man might live by bread alone, at To be endeavouring to unlearn our cate least that woman might; “ for else,” said chirin, with all that we have been taught be, « how could the girl have been fup;

pored

« ported for a whole month by a few hard matter is God, and God is matter; and “ crusts?” In answer to this, a barber- that it is no matter whether there is any furgeon set forth the improbability of that God or no. story; and thence inferred, that it was im I believe also, that the world was not possible for our Saviour to have fasted forty made; that the world made itself; that it days in the wilderness. I lately heard a had no beginning; that it will last for ever, midshipman swear that the bible was all a world without end. lie: for he had failed round the world with I believe that a man is a beast, that the lord Anson, and if there had been any Red soul is the body, and the body is the soul; Sea, he must have met with it. I know a and that after death there is neither body bricklayer, who while he was working by nor soul. line and rule, and carefully laying one brick I believe that there is no religion ; that upon another, would argue with a fellow- nutural religion is the only religion ; and labourer that the world was made by chance; that all religion is unnatural. and a cook, who thought more of his trade I believe not in Moses; I believe in the than his bible, in a dispute concerning the first philosophy ; I believe not the evangemiracles, made a pleasant mistake about lifts; I believe in Chubb, Collins, Toland, the nature of the first, and gravely asked Tindal, Morgan, Mandeville, Wooliton, his antagonist what he thought of the fup- Hobbes, Shaftesbury; I believe in lord Boper at Cana.

lingbroke; I believe not St. Paul. This affectation of free-thinking among Ī believe not revelation ; I believe in the lower class of people, is at present hap- tradition ; I believe in the talmud ; I bepily confined to the men. On Sundays, lieve in the alcoran; I believe not the bi. while the husbands are toping at the ale- ble; I believe in Socrates; I believe in house, the good women their wives think Confucius; I believe in Sanconiaihon; I it their duty to go to church, say their believe in Mahomet; I believe not in prayers, bring home the text, and hear the Christ. children their chatechism. But our polite Laftly; I believe in all unbelief. ladies are, I fear, in their lives and conver

Connoiffeur. sations, little better than free-thinkers. Going to church, since it is now no longer

$ 52. Fortune not 10 be trusted. the fashion to carry on intrigues there, is

The sudden invasion of an enemy overalmost wholly laid aside: And I verily be- throws such as are not on their guard; but lieve, that nothing but another earthquake they who foresee the war, and prepare can fill the churches with people of quality. themselves for it before it breaks out, stand The fair sex in general are too thoughtless without difficulty the firit and the fierceit to concern themselves in deep enquiries onset. I learned this important lesson long into matters of religion. It is sufficient, ago, and never trusted to fortune even that they are taught to believe themselves while she seemed to be at peace with me. angels. It would therefore be an ill com

The riches, the honours, the reputation, pliment, while we talk of the heaven they and all the advantages which her treachebeltow, to persuade them into the Maho- rous indulgence poured upon me, I placed metan notion, that they have no souls: so that she might snatch them away withthough perhaps our fine gentlemen may out giving me any disturbance. I kept a imagine, that by convincing a lady that great interval between me and them. She she has no foul, she will be less fcrupulous took them, but she could not tear them about the disposal of her body.

No man suffers by bad fortune, The ridiculous notions maintained by but he who has been deceived by good. free-thinkers in their writings, scarce de- If we grow fond of her gifts, fancy that serve a serious refutation; and perhaps the they belong to us, and are perpetually to best method of answering them would be remain with us; if we lean upon them, and to select from their works all the absurd expect to be considered for them; we shall and impracticable notions which they so fink into all the bitterness of grief, as soon Niftly maintain in order to evade the belief as these false and transitory benefits pass of the Christian religion. I shall here away, as soon as our vain and childish throw together a few of their principal te minds, unfraught with solid pleasures, benets, under the contradictory title of come destitute even of those which are

imaginary. But, if we do not suffer our. The Unbeliever's Creed.

selves to be transported with prosperity, I believe that there is no God, but that neither shall we be reduced by adversity.

from me.

Our souls will be proof against the dangers and gives them a lively joy upon every of both these states: and having explored prosperous event, as well as a piercing our strength, we shall be sure of it ; for in grief, when they meet with crosses and ad. the midst of felicity, we shall have tried versity. Favours and good offices easily how we can bear misfortune.

engage their friend thip, while the finalles

injury provokes their resentment. Any hoHer evils dijarmed by Pasience.

nour or mark of distinction elevates them Banishment, with all its train of evils, above measure; but they are as sensibly is so far from being the cause of contempt, touched with contempt. People of this that he who bears up with an undaunted character have, no doubt, much more live{pirit against them, while so many are de- ly enjoyments, as well as more pungent jected by thein, erects on his very misfor- sorrows, than men of cool and sedate tem. tune a trophy to his honour: for such is pers: but I believe, when every thing is the frame and temper of our minds, that balanced, there is no one, who would not nothing Atrikes us with greater admiration rather chuse to be of the latter character, than a man intrepid in the midit of mil were he entirely master of his own dispofortunes. Of all ignominies, an ignomi- fition. Good or ill fortune is

very

little nious death must be allowed to be the at our own disposal: and when a person greatest; and yet where is the blasphemer who has this sensibility of temper meets who will presume to defame the death of with any misfortune, his sorrow or releniSocrates ! This saint entered the prison ment takes entire poffeffion of him, and with the same countenance with which he deprives him of all relish in the common reduced thirty tyrants, and he took off ig- occurrences of life; the right enjoyment nominy from the place; for how could it of which forms the greatert part of our be deemed a prison when Socrates was happiness. Great pleasures are much less there? Aristides was led to execution in frequent than great pains; fo that a fenfithe same city; all those who met the fad ble temper cannot meet with fewer trials procession, cast their eyes to the ground, in the former way than in the latter: pot and with throbbing hearts bewailed, not to mention, that men of such lively passions the innocent man, but Justice herself, who are apt to be traníported beyond all bounds was in him condemned. Yet there was a of prudence and discretion, and to take wretch found, for monsters are sometimes false steps in the conduct of life, which are produced in contradiction to the ordinary often irretrievable. rules of nature, who spit in his face as he passed along. Aristides wiped his cheek,

Delicacy of Taste desirable. smiled, turned to the magistrate, and said, There is a delicacy of taste observable « Admonish this man not to be so nafty for in some men, which very much resembles “ the future.

this delicacy of passion, and produces the Ignominy then can take no hold on vir. fame fenfibility to beauty and deformity of tue; for virtue is in every condition the every kind, as that does to prosperity and fame, and challenges the same respect. We adversity, obligations and injuries. When applaud the world when the prospers; and you present a poem or a picture to a man when the falls into adversity we applaud possessed of this talent, the delicacy of his her. Like the temples of the gods, she is feelings makes him to be touched very fenvenerable even in her ruins. After this, Sibly with every part of it; nor are the mut it not appear a degree of madness to maiterly strokes perceived with more exdefer one moment acquiring the only arms quisite relish and fatisfa&ion, than the neg: capable of defending us against attacks, ligencies or absurdities with disgust and which at every moment we are exposed to uneasiness. A polite and judicious convere Our being miserable, or not miserable, fation affords him the highest entertainwhen we fall into misfortunes, depends on ment; rudeness or impertinence is as great the manner in which we have enjoyed prof- a punishment to him. In short, delicacy perity.

Bolingbroke. of taste has the same effect as delicacy of $53. Delicacy conftitutional, and often

passion: it enlarges the sphere both of our

happiness and misery, and makes us fenfidangerous.

ble to pains as well as pleasures which efSome people are subject to a certain de- cape the rest of mankind. licacy of passion, which makes them ex I believe, however, there is no one, who tremely fenfible to all the accidents of life, will not agree with me, that, notwithkand

ing

}

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »