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Curious Faet in the History of the common Mole, by Arthur Bruce, Esq;
Ode to Mirth
  (199) 
HE character of a nation, both with respect to morals and literature, is commonly found to vary with that of its rulers. Morals and literature are indeed in many respects closely connected; and science will not in general flourish without cultivation. The writers, therefore, in many departments of what are termed the belles lettres, in particular, will assume a cast and character from the manners of the times; and, though individuals may casually arise eminent in particular brariches of science, yet; those which are most encouraged will in general occupy inost the attention
We are now arrived at a period which, in character and manners, afforded a remarkable contrast to that which it im. inediately succeeded. Indeed it is difficult to conceive how, in so short a lapse of time, the genius and pursuits of a peob
ple should undergo so complete an alteration. That severity of manners, which is a general characteristic of sectaries, and which is inseparable from a state of adversity and oppression, still attached to the presbyterian party after the attainment of power, and the independents and other sectaries who were the immediate supporters of Cromwell, affected, if possible, still greater austerity. Men in office assumed a grave and even sanctified appearance : their favourite study (if they studied at all) was theology; and their literature was the sacred writings, and the more enthusiastic description of commentators on the Bible. The imitative passion, which is strongly predominant in the inferior classes of society, introduced a sobriety of demeanour even among the lowest of the vulgar; and their taste, as far as they aspired to intellectual improvement, was congenial to that of their superiors. The royalists were essentially different in almost every respect. Opposition in interests commonly produces opposition in habits and conduct, since men will seldom adopt the manners of those by whom they are persecuted. Charles, too, and most of his near connexions, had spent their latter years in the contaminated atmosphere of the French court; a country where vice and immorality seemed congenial to the national character, or, to speak more correctly, perhaps, to the character of its despoticgovernment. In such a school, where every species of moral depravity that can easily be imagined was taught and practised, this worthless monarch was found an apt scholar. He is characterized by Burnet, as “one who had great vices, but scarcely any virtues to correct them;" and the character, though severe, is but too well justified by his conduct. He was destitute of every feeling of humanity, of every principle of honour; and was only restrained from the most wicked excesses of tyranny by his sloth, bis debauchery, and cowardice. Charles, it is well known, was an infidel with respect to all religion, natural and revealed ; and such a profession only could suit the profligate life in which he was engaged. Few however, have the courage to die in the hopeless state in ,which unbelief involves them; and, at his latter moments, he caught eagerly at that delusive support which popery extends to the despairing sinner. His example, however, rendered infidelity and even atheism popular. The bishop of Salisbury says,
“ that, when he saw young men of quality who had something more than ordinary in them, he drew them about hiin, and set himself to corrupt them both in religion and morality ; in which he proved so unhappily successful, that he left England much changed at his death from what he it found at his restoration.'
That contemptible fabulist, Hume, who loses no opportunity of applauding vice, profligacy, and irreligion, whereever they occur, makes it a question, whether the nation were much losers in point of morals in the main by the Restoration ? though he allows, “ that licentiousness and debauchery became prevalent in the nation. The pleasures of the table were much pursued. Love was treated more as an appetite than a passion. The one sex began to abate of the national character of chastity without being able to inspire the other with sentiment or delicacy."-Admire, Christian Reader, the pure ethics of an unbeliever! The destestable and profligate Charles is represented by the same author as one whose conduct "in the duties of private life, though not free from exception, was in the main laudable !"
Under such a monarch science and sound literature could scarcely be expected to flourish, and of all departments theology was most likely to be left in a neglected state. Under the temperate and judicious guidance of Clarendon, however, the first years of Charles passed with some credit to himself, and some advantage to the nation. Clarendon, with some faults, which were rather those of temper than of principle, was a sound statesman and an excellent man. He was zealously attached to the ancient form of governments and the constitutional liberties of his country. resolved,” says Burnet, “ not to stretch the prerogative beyond what it was before the wars, and would neither set aside the Petition of Right, nor endeavour to raise the courts of the star chamber or the high commission again.” A do