« PreviousContinue »
John to be the fondling of a tender mother. John looked ruddy and plump, with a pair of cheeks like a trumpeter; miss looked pale and wan, as if she had the greensickness; and no wonder, for John was the darling; he had all the good bits, was crammed with good pullet, chicken, pig, goose, and capon, while miss had only a little oatmeal and water, or a dry crust without butter. John had his golden pippins, peaches, and nectarines; poor miss a crab-apple, Bloe, or a blackberry..
Master lay in the best apartment, with his bed-chamber towards the south sun; miss lodged in a garret, exposed to the north wind, which shrivelled her countenance. However, this usage though it stunted the girl in her growth, gave her a hardy constitution; she had life and spirit in abundance, and knew when she was ill-used: now and then she would seize upon John's commons, snatch a leg of a pallet, or a bit of good beef, for which they were sure to go to fisticuffs. Master was indeed too strong for her; but miss would not yield in the least point, but even when master had got her down, she would scratch and bite like a tiger; when he gave her a cuff on the ear, she would prick him with her knitting-needle. John brought a great chain one day to tie her to the bed-post, for which affront miss aimed a penknife at his heart.* In short, these quarrels grew up to rooted aversions; they gave one another nicknames; she called him Gundy-guts, and he called her Lousey Peg, though the girl was a tight clever wench as any was; and through her pale looks you might discern spirit and vivacity, which made her not, indeed, a perfect beauty, but something that was agreeable. It was barbarous in parents not to take notice of these early quarrels, and make them live better together, such domestic feuds proving afterwards the occasion of misfortunes to them both. Peg had, indeed, some odd humours and comical antipathy, for which John would jeer her. • What think you of my sister Peg.' says hē, 'that faints at the sound of an organ, and yet will dance and frisk at the noise of a bag-pipe ?' • What's that to you, Gundy-guts ?' quoth Peg; everybody's to choose their own music.' Then Peg had taken a fancy not to say her paternoster, which made people imagine strange things of her. Of the three brothers that have made such a clutter in the world, Lord'Peter, Martin, and Jack, Jackt had of late been her inclination: Lord Peter she detested; nor did Martin stand much better in her good graces; but Jack had found the way to her heart.
The Celerity and Duration of Lies, and How to Contradict them.
As to the celerity of their motion, the author says it is almost incredible. He gives several instances of lies that have gone faster than a man can ride post. Your terrifying lie travels at a prodigious rate, above ten miles an hour. Your whispers move in a narrow vortex, but very swiftly. The author says it is impossible to explain several phenomena in relation to the celerity of lies, without the supposition of synchronism and combination. As to the duration of lies, he says they are of all sorts, from hours and days to ages ; that there are some which, like insects, die and revive again in a different form; that good artists, like people who build upon a short lease, will calculate the daration of a lie surely to answer their purpose; to last just as long, and no longer than the turn is served.
The properest contradiction to a lie is another lie. For example, if it sho’ld be reported that the Pretender was in London, one would not contradict it by saying he never was in England; but you must prove by eye-witnesses that he came no further than Greenwich, and then went back again. Thus, if it be spread about that a great person were dying of some disease, you must not say the truth, that they are in health and never had such a disease, but that they are slowly recovering of it. So there was not long ago a gentleman who affirmed that the treaty with France, for bringing popery and slavery into England, was signed the 15th of September; to which another answered very judiciously, not, by opposing truth to his líe, that there was no such treaty; but that, to his certain knowledge, there were many things in that treaty not yet adjusted.
The following extract will serve as a specimen of Dr. Arbuthnot's serious composition. It is taken from an essay on the
* Henry VIII, to unite the two kingdoms under one sovereign, offered his daughter Mary to James V. of Scotland : this offer was rejected, and followed by a war: to this event probably the author alludes.
+ The Pope, Luther, and Calvin.
Usefulness of Mathematical Learning. The advantages which accrue to the mind by mathematical studies consist chiefly in these things: 18t, In accustoming it to attention. 2d, In giving it a habit of close and demonstrative reasoning. 3d, In freeing it from prejudice, credulity, and superstition.
First, the mathematics make the mind attentive to the objects which it considers. This they do by entertaining it with a great variety of truths, which are delightful and evident, but not obvious. Truth is the same thing to the understanding as music to the ear and beauty to the eye. The pursuit of it does really as much gratify a natural faculty implanted in us by cur wise Creator, as the pleasing of our senses ; on in the former case, as the object and faculty are more spiritual, the delight is the more pure, free from the regret, turpitude, lassitude, aud intemperance that commonly attend sensual pleasures. The most part of other sciences consisting only of probable reasonings, the mind has not where to fix, and wanting sufficient principies to pursue its searches upon, gives them over as impossible. Again, as in mathematical investigations, truth may be found, so it is not always obvious. This spurg the mind, and makes it diligent and attentive.
The second advantage which the mind reaps from mathematical knowledge is a habit of clear, demonstrative, and methodical reasoning. We are contrived by nature to learn by imitation more than by precept; and I believe in that respect reasoning is much like other inferior arts—as dancing, singing, &c.—acquired by practice. By accustoming ourselves to reason closely about quantity, we acquire a habit of doing so in other things. Logical precepts are more useful, nay, they are absolutely necessary, for a rule of formal arguing in public disputations, and confounding an obstinate and perverse adversary, and exposing him to the audience or readers. But, in the search of truth, an imitation of the method of the geometers will carry a man further than all the dialectical rules. Their analysis is the proper model we ought to form ourselves upon, and imitate in the regular disposition and progress of our inquiries; and even he who is ignorant of the nature of mathematical analysis, uses a method somewhat analogous to it.
Thirdly, mathematical knowledge adds vigour to the mind, frees it from prejudice, credulity, and superstition. This it does in two ways : 1st, By accustoming us to examine, and not to take things upon trust. 2d. By giving is a clear and extensive knowledge of the system of the world, which, as it creates in us the most profound reverence of the Almighty and wise Creator, so it frees us from the mean and narrow thoughts which ignorance and superstition are apt to beget. .
The mathematics are friends to religion, inasmuch as they charm the passions, restrain the impetuosity of imagination, and purge the mind from error and prejudice. Vice is error, confusion, and false reasoning ; and all truth is more or less opposite to it. Besides, mathematical studies may serve for a pleasant entertainment for those hours which young men are apt to throw away upon their vices; the delightfulness of them being such as to make solitude not only easy, but desirable.
LORD BOLINGBROKE. HENRY ST. JOHN VISCOUNT BOLINGBROKE was in his own day the most conspicuous and illustrious of that friendly band of Tory wits and poets who adorned the reigns of Anne and George I. He is now the least popular of the whole. St. John was descended from an ancient family, and was born at Battersea, in Surrey, in 1678. He was educated at Eton and Oxford. After some years of dissipation, he entered parliament, and was successively secretary at war and secretary of state. He was elevated to the peerage in 1712. On the death of Queen Anne, the seals of office were taken from him, and he was threatened with impeachment for the share he had taken in negotiating the Treaty of Utrecht. Bolingbroke retired to France, and entered into the Pretender's service as secretary. Here, also, In became unpopular, and was accused of neglect and incapacity. Dis-, missed from his second secretaryship, he had recourse to literature, and produced bis ‘Reflections on Exile,' and a letter to Sir William Wyndbam, containing a defence of his conduct. In 1723, he obtained a full pardon, and returned to England; his family inheritance was restored to him, but he was excluded from the House of Lords. He commenced an active opposition to Walpole, and wrote a number of political tracts against the Whig ministry. In 1735, he retired again to France, and resided there seven years, during which time he produced his ' Letters on the Study of History,' and a ' Letter on the True Use of Retirement.' The last ten years of bis life were spent at Battersea.
In 1749, appeared his ' Letters on the Spirit of Patriotism,' and Idea of a Patriot King,' with a preface believed to be by Mallet, but in reality written by Bolingbroke, in a strain of coarse invective, and which led to a bitter and acrimonious war of pamphlets. Bolingbroke's treatise had been put into the hands of Pope, that he might have a few copies printed for private circulation. After the death of Pope, it was found that an impression of 1500 had been printed, and this Bolingbroke affected to consider a heinous breach of trust. The transaction was the most venial of all the poet's stratagems. The anger of Bolingbroke is more justly considered to have been only a pretext, the real ground of offense being the poet's preference of Warburton, to whom he left the valuable property in his printed works. Bolingbroke died in 1751, and Mallet–io whom he left all his manuscripts-published a complete edition of his works in five volumes. A series of essays on religion and philosophy, first published in this collection, disclosed the noble author as an opponent of Christianity: Of lofty irregular views and character, vain, ambitious, and vindictive, yet eloquent and imaginative, we may admire, but cannot love Bolingbroke. The friendship of Pope was the brightest gem in his coronet ; yet by one ungrateful and unfeeling act he sullied its lustre, and,
Like the base Judean, threw a pearl away
Richer than all his tribe.
The writings of Bolingbroke are animated by momentary or factious feeling, rather than by any fixed principle or philosophical views. In expression he is often vivid and felicitous, with a rambling yet lively style, more resembling spoken than written eloquence, and with a power of moral painting, that presents pictures to the mind. In one of his letters to Świft, we find him thus finely moralising:
The Decline of Life. We are both in the decline of life, my dear dean, and have been some years going down the bill ; let.us make the passage as smooth as we can. Let us fence against physical evil by care, and the use of those means which experience must have pointed out to us; let us fence against moral evil by philosophy. We may, nay--if we will follow nature and do not work up imagination against her plainest dictates-we shall, of course, grow every year more indifferent to life, and to the affairs and inte
rests of a system out of which we are soon to go. This is much better than stupidity. The decay of passion strengthens philosophy, for passion may decay, and stupidity not succeed. Passions-says Pope, our divine, as you will see one time or eiherare the gales of life ; let us not complain that they do not blow a storm. What hurt does age do us in subduing what we toil to subdue all our lives? It is now six in the inorning; I recall the time and am glad it is over-when about this hour I used to be going to bed surfeited with pleasure, or jaded with business; my head often full of schemes, and my heart as often full of anxiety. Is it a misfortune, think you, that I rise at this hour refreshed, serene, and calm; that the past and even the present affairs of life stand like objects at a distance from me, where I can keep off the disagreeable, so as not to be strongly affected by them, and from whence I can draw the others nearer to me? Passions, in their force, would bring all these, Day, even future contingencies, about my ears at once, and reason would ill defend me in the scuffle.
A loftier spirit of philosophy pervades the following eloquent sentence on the independence of the mind with respect to external circumstances and situation.
The Order of Providence. Believe me, the providence of God has established such an order in the world, that of all which belongs to us, the least valuable parts can alone fall under the will of others. Whatever is best is safest, lies most out of the reach of human power, can neither be given nor taken away. Such is this great and beautiful work of nature—the world. Such is the mind of man, which contemplates and admires the world, where it makes the noblest part. These are inseparably ours; and as long as we remain in one, we shall enjoy the other. Let us march, therefore, intrepidly, wherever we are led by the course of human accidents. Wherever they lead us, on what coast soever we are thrown by them, we shall not find ourselves absolutely strangers. We shall meet with men and women, creatures of the same figure, endowed with the same faculties, and born under the same laws of nature. We shall see the same virtues and vices flowing from the same general principles, but varied in a thousand different and contrary modes, according to that infinite variety of laws and customs which is established for the same universal end-the preservation of society. We shall feel the same revolutions of seasons; and the same sun and moon will guide the course of our year. The same azure vault, bespangled with stars, will be everywhere spread over our heads. There is no part of the world from whence we may not admire those planets, which roll, like oui's, in different orbits round the same central sun; from whence we may not discover an object still more stupendous, that army of fixed stars hung up in the immense space of the universe, innumerable suns, whose beams enlighten and cherish the unknown worlds which roll around them; and whilst I am ravished by such contemplations as these, whilst my soul is thus raised up to heaven, it imports me little what ground I tread upon.
National Partiality and Prejudice. There is scarce any folly or vice more epidemical among the sons of men than that ridiculous and hurtful vanity þy which the people of each country are apt to prefer themselves to those of every other; and to make their own customs, and manners, and opinions, the standards of right and wrong, of true and false. The Chinese Mandarins were strangely surprised, and almost incredulous, when the Jesuits shewed them how small a figure their empire made in the general map of the world.. Now, nothing can contribute more to prevent us from being tainted with this vanity, than to accustom ourselves early. to contemplate the different nations of the earth, in that vast map which history spreads before us, in their rise and their fall, in their barbarous and civilised states, in the likeness and unlikeness of them all to one another, and of each to itself. By frequently renewing this prospect to the mind, the Mexican with his cap and coat of feathers, sacrificing a human victim to his god, will not appear more savage to our eyes than the Spaniard with a hat on his head, and a gonilla round his neck, sacrificing whole nations to his ambition, his avarice, and even the waptonness of his cruelty. I might shew, by a multitude of other examples, how history prepares us for experience, and guides ns in it ; and many of these would be both curious and important. I might likewise bring several other instances, wherein history serves to purge the mind of those national partialities and prejudices that we are apt to contract in our education, and that experience for the most part rather confirms than removes ; hecause it is for the most part confined, like our education. But I apprehend growing too prolix, and shall therefore conclude this head by observing, that though an early and proper application to the study of history will contribute extremely to keep our minds free from a ridiculous partiality in favour of our own country, and a vicious prejudice against others, yet the same study will create in us a preference of affection to our own country. There is a story told of Abgarus. He brought several beasts taken in different places to Rome, they say, and let them loose before Augustus; every beast ran immediately to that part of the circus where a parcel of earth taken from his native soil had been laid. Credat Judæus A pella. This tale might pass on Josephus; for in him, I believe, I read it; but surely the love of our country is a lesson of reason, not an institution of nature. Education and habit, obligation and interest attach us to it, not instinct. It is, however, so necessary to be cultivated, and the prosperity of all societies, as well as the grandeur of some, depends upon it so much, that orators by their eloquence, and poets by their enthusiasm, have endeavoured to work up this precept of morality into a principle of passion. But the examples which we find in history, improved by the lively descriptions and the just applauses or censures of historians, will have a much better and more permanent effect than declamation, or song, or the dry ethics of mere philosophy.
Unreasonableness of Complaints of the Shortness of Human Life.
I think very differently from most men of the time we have to pass, and the business we have to do, in this world. I think we have more of one, and less of the other, than is commonly supposed. Our want of time, and the shortness of human life, are some of the principal common-place complaints which we prefer against the established order of things; they are the grumblings of the vulgar, and the pathetic lamentations of the philosopher; but they are impertinent and impious în both. The man of business despises the man of pleasure for squandering his time away; the man of pleasure pities or laughs
at the man of business for the same thing; and yot both concur superciliously and absurdly to find fault with the Supreme Being for having given them so little time. The philosopher, who misspends it very often as much as the others, joins in the same cry, and authorises this impiety. Theophrastus thought it extremely hard to die at ninety, and to go out of the world when he had just learned how to live in it. His master Aristotle found fault with nature for treating man in this respect worse than several other animals; both very unphilosophically! and I love Seneca the better for his quarrel with the Stagirite on this head. We see, in so many instances, a just proportion of things, according to their several relations to one another, that philosophy should lead us to conclude this proportion preserved, even where we cannot discern it; instead of leading us to conclude that it is not preserved where we do not discern it, or where we think that we see the contrary. 'Io conclude otherwise is shocking presumption. It is to presume that the system of the universe would have been more wisely contrived, if creatures of our low rank among intellectual natures had been called to the councils of the Most High; or that the Creator ought to mend his work by the advice of the creature. That life which seems to our self-love so short, when we compare it with the ideas we frame of eternity, or even with the duration of some other beings, will appear sufficient, upon a less partial view, to all the ends of the creation, and of a just proportion in the successive course of generations. The term itself is long; we render it short; and the want we complain of flows from our profusion, not from our doverty. Let
us leave the men of pleasure and of business, who are often candid enough to own that they throw away their time, and thereby to confess that they complain of the Supreme Being for no other reason than this, that he has not proportioned his bounty to their extravagance. Let us consider the scholar and philosopher, who, far from owning that he throws any time away, reproves others for doing it; that solemn mortal who abstains from the pleasures, and declines the business of the world, that he may dedicate his whole tíme to the search of truth and the improve