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are above such sordia willing to spare bimo verstocked with them the three Furies
tian, no prince has been so great a benefactor to hell as yourself; and as much a master of eloquence as I was once thought to be at Paris, I want words to tell you how much you are commended here for so heroically trampling under foot the treaty of Ryswick (1697), and opening a new scene of war in your great climacteric, at which age most of the princes before you were such recreants as to think of making up their scores with Heaven, and leaving their neighbours in peace. But you, they say, are above such sordid precedents; and rather than Pluto should want men to people his dominions, are willing to spare him half a million of your own subjects, and that at a juncture, too, when you are not overstocked with them.
This has gained you a universal applause in these regions; the three Furies sing your praises in every street; Bellona swears there's never a prince in Christendom worth hanging besides yourself; and Charon bustles for you in all companies. He desired me about a week ago to present his most humble respects to you; adding, that if it had not been for your majesty, he, with his wife and children, must long ago been quartered upon the parish; for which reason he duly drinks your health every morning in a cup of cold Styx next his conscience.
Last week, as I was sitting with some of my acquaintance in a public-house, after a great deal of impertinent chat about the affairs of the Milanese and the intended seige of Mantua, the whole company fell a-talking of your majesty, and what glorious exploits you had performed in your time. Why, gentlemen,' says an ill-looked rascal, who proved to be Herostratus, ‘for Pluto's sake, let not the Grand Monarch run away with all your praises. I have done something memorable in my time too: 'twas I who, out of the gaieté de coeur, and to perpetuate my name, fired the famous temple of the Ephesian Diana, and in two hours consumed that magnificent structure. which was two hundred years a-building; therefore, gentlemen, lavish not away all your praises, I beseech you, upon one man, but allow others their share. Why, thou diminutive, inconsiderable wretch,' said I in a great passion to him—thou worthless idle loggerhead-thou pigmy in sin-thou Tom Thumb in iniquity, how dares such a puny insect as thou art have the impudence to enter the lists with Louis le Grand ? Thou valuest thyself upon firing a church, but how? when the mistress of the house was gone out to assist Olympias. 'Twas plain, thou hadst not the courage to do it when the goddess was present, and upon the spot. But what is this to what my royal master can boast of, that had destroyed a hundred and a hundred such foolish fabrics in bis time?'
He had no sooner made his exit, bnt, cries an odd sort of spark, with his hat buttoned up before, like a country scraper : . Under favour, sir, what do you think of me?' Why, who are you ?' replied I to him. “Who am I?' answered he; why Nero, the sixth emperor of Rome, that murdered my!
Come,' said I to him, • to stop your prating, I know your history as well as yourself-that murdered your mother, kicked your wife down-stairs, despatched two apostles out of the world, begun the first persecution against the Christians, and, lastly, put your master Seneca to death. These actions are made light of, and the sarcastic shade proceeds • Whereas, his most Christian majesty, whose advocate I am resolved to be against all opposers whatever, has bravely and generously starved a million of poor Huguenots at home, and sent t'other million of them a-grazing into foreign countries, contrary to solemn edicts and repeated promises, for no other provocation, that I know of, but because they were such coxcombs as to place him upon the throne. In short, friend Nero, thou mayst pass for a rogue of the third or fourth class ; but be advised by a stranger, and never shew thyself such a fool as to dispute the pre-eminence with Louis le Grand, who has murdered more men in his reign, let me tell thee, than thou hast murdered tunes, for all thou art the vilest thrummer upon catgut the sy beheld. However, to give the devil his due, I will say it before thy face and behind thly back, that if thou hadst reigned as many years as my gracious master has done, and hadst had, instead of Tigellinus, a Jesuit or two to have governed thy conscience, thon mightest, in all probability, have made a much more magnificent figure, and been inferior to none but the mighty monarch I have been talking of.'
An Indian's Account of a London Gaming-house. The English pretend that they worship but one God, but for my part, I don't believe what they say; for besides several living divinities, to which we may see them
r vows, they have several other inanimate ones to whom they pay sac
rifices, as I have observed at one of their public meetings, where I happened once to be.
In this place there is a great altar to be seen, built round and covered with a green wachum, lighted in the midst, and encompassed by several persons in a sitting posture, as we do at our domestic sacrifices. At the very moment I came into the room, one of those, who I supposed was the priest, spread upon the altar certain leaves which he took out of a little book that he held in his hand. Upon these leaves were represented certain figures very awkwardly painted; however, they must needs be the images of some divinities; for, in proportion as they were distributed round, each one of the assistants made an offering to it, greater or less, according to his devotion. I observed that these offerings were more considerable than those they make in their other temples.
After the aforesaid ceremony is over, the priest lays his hand in a trembling manner, as it were, upon the rest of the book, and continues some time in this posture, seized with fear, and without any action at all. All the rest of the company, attentive to what he does, are in suspense all the while, and the unmovable assistants are all of them in their turn possessed by different agitations, according to the spirit which happens to seize them. One joins his hands together, and blesses Heaven; another, very earnestly looking upon his image, grinds his teeth; a third bites his fingers, and stamps upon the ground with his feet. Every one of them, in short, makes such extraordinary postures and contortions, that they seem to be no longer rational creatures. But scarce has the priest returned a certain leaf, but he is likewise seized by the same fury with the rest. He tears the book, and devours it in his rage, throws down the altar, and curses the sacrifice. Nothing now is to be heard but complaints and groans, cries and imprecations. Seeing them so transported and so furions, I judge that the God that they worship is a jealous deity, who, to punish them for what they sacrifice to others, sends to each of them an evil demon to possess them.
Laconics, or Nero Maxims of State and Conversation. Though a soldier in time of peace is like a chimney in summer, yet what wise man would pluck down his chimney because his almanac tells him it is the middle of Junc.
If your friend is in want, don't carry him to the tavern, where you treat yourself as well as him, and entail a thirst and headache upon him next morning. To treat a poor wretch with a bottle of Burgundy, or fill his snuff-box, is like giving a pair of face ruffles to a man that has never a shirt on his back. Put something into his pocket. F What is dance for a goose is sauce for a gander. When any calamities befell the Roman empire, the pagans used to lay it to the charge of the Christians: when Christianity became the imperial religion, the Christians returned the same compliment to the pagans.
That which passes for current doctrine at one juncture and in one climate, won't do so in another. The cavaliers, in the beginning of the troubles, used to trump up the 12th of the Romans' upon the parliament; the parliament trumped it upon the army, when they would not disband; the army back again upon the parl:ament, when they disputed their orders. Never was poor chapter so unmercifully tossed to and fro again.
Not to flatter ourselves, we English are none of the most constant and easy people in the world. When the late war pinched us-Oh! when shall we have a peace and trade again? We had no sooner a peace, but-Huzza, boys, for a new warl and that we shall soon be sick of.
It may be no scandal for us to imitate one good quality of a neighbouring nation, who are like the turf they burn, slow in kindling, but, when once thoroughly lighted, keep their fire.
What a fine thing it is to be well-mannered upon occasion. In the reign of King Charles II. a certain worthy divine at Whitehall thus addressed himself to the audi tory at the conclusion of his sermon: 'In short, if you don't live up to the precepts of the gospel, but abandon yourselves to your irregular appetites, you must expect to receive your reward in a certain place which ’tis not good manners to mention here."
Some divines make the same use of fathers and councils as our beans do of their canes, not for support or defence, but mere ornament or show; and cover themselves with fine cobweb distinctions, as Homer's gods did with a cloud.
Some books, like the city of London, fare the better for being burnt.
'Twas a merry saying of Rabelais, that a man ought to buy all the bad books that come out, because they will never be printed again.
A widow and a government are ready, upon all occasions, to tax the new husband and the new prince with the merits of their predecessors, unless the former husband was hanged, and the former king sent to grass; and then they bid them take fair warning by their destiny.
For å king to engage his people in war, to carry off every little ill humour of state, is like a physician's ordering his patient a flux for every pimple.
The surest way of governing, both in a private family and a kingdom, is for a husband and a prince sometimes to drop their prerogative.
All parties blame persecution when they feel the smart on 't, and all practise it when they have the rod in their hands. “For all his pretended meekness, Calvin made roast-meat of Servetus at Geneva, for his unorthodoxy.
GEORGE II. AND GEORGE III.
TIE reign of George II. was not prolific of original genius. There was no rich patronage from the crown or from ministers of state to encourage or reward authors. The magnificence of Dorset and Halifax found no imitators. Sir Robert Walpole, the great minister of the period, is said to have spent in ten years—from 1731 to 1742– above £50,000 on public writers; but his liberality was extended only to obscure and unscrupulous partisans, the supporters of his government, whose names would have passed into oblivion but for the satire of Pope. And Pope himself, by his ridicule of poor authors and their Grub-street productions, helped to accelerate that downfall of the literary character which he charged upon the throne and the ministry. The tone of public morality also was low; and authors had to contend with the neglect and difficulties incident to a transition period between the loss of patronage and the growth of a reading public numerous and enlightened enough to appreciate and support sound literature. These disadvantages, however, were only partial. The novels of Richardson, Fielding, and Smollett render the reign of the second George the brigbtest epoch in English fiction. Lume and Robertson had also commenced as historians. In theology and mental philosophy, the names of Bishop Butler and Jonathan Edwards stand out prominently. Literary periodicals abounded, and monthly magazines were then first established.
In poetry, the name of Pope continued to be the greatest. His Moral Essays and Imitations of Horace—the happiest of his works were produced in this period. The most distinguished of his contemporaries, however, adopted styles of their own, or at least departed widely from that of their illustrious master. Thomson-who survived Pope only four years—made no attempt to enter the school of polished satire and pungent wit. His enthusiastic descriptions of nature, and bis warm poetical feeling, seemed to revive the spirit of the elder muse, and to assert the dignity of genuine inspiration. Young in his best performances—bis startling denunciations of death and judgment, his solemn appeals, his piety, and his epigram-was equally an original. Gray and Collins aimed at the dazzling imagery and magnificence of lyrical poetry—the direct antipodes of Pope. Akenside descanted on the operations of the mind, and the associated charms of taste and genius, in a strain of melodious and original blank verse. And the best of the secondary poets, as Shenstone, Dyer, and Mason, had each a distinct and independent poetical character. Johnson alone, of all the eminent authors of this period, seems to have directly copied the style of Pope and Dryden. It is true that few. or none of the poets we have named had much immediate influence on literature: Gray was ridiculed, and Collins was neglected, because both public taste and criticism had been vitiated and reduced to a low ebb. The spirit of true poetry, however, was not dead; the seed was sown, and in the next generation Cowper and Burns completed what Thomson had begun. The conventional style was destined to fall, leaving only that taste for correct language and polished versification which was established by the example of Pope, and found to be quite compatible with the utmost freedom and originality of conception and expression.
In the early part of the reign of George III. Johnson was still the great literary dictator, and he had yet to produce bis best work, the
Lives of the Poets.' The exquisite poetry of Goldsmith, and the writings of Burke—that ‘resplendent, far-sighted rhetorician'-are perbaps the most precious products of the period. In fiction, Sterne was triumphantly successful, and he found many imitators, the best of whom was William Mackenzie. Several female writers--as Miss Burney, Mrs. Inchbald, Charlotte Smith, and Mrs. Radcliffe—also enjoyed great popularity, though they are now comparatively little read. The more solid departments of literature were well supported. Hume' and Robertson completed their historical works, and a fitting rival or associate appeared in Gibbon, the great historian of the Roman Empire. In theological literature we have the names of Paley, and Campbell, and Blair--the latter bighly popular, if not profound. In metaphysics or mental philosophy, the writings of Reid formed a sort of epoch; and Smith's' Wealth of Nations' first explained to the world, fully and systematically, the principles upon which the wealth and prosperity of states must ever rest.
One remarkable peculiarity of the period is, that it comprises the two most memorable of literary frauds or forgeries- those of Macpherson and Chatterton. Macpherson had some foundation for his Ossianic poems, though assuredly he discovered no epic in the Hebrides; and Chatterton, while yet a boy, possessed the genius of a true poet, combined with the taste and acquirements of the antiquary. It is some apology for these literary felonies or misdemeanours, that the oldest of the culprits was barely of age when he entered on his perilous and discreditable enterprise, and was encouraged and cheered on his course by popular applause. And as for the younger, bis premature and tragic death-one of the saddest pages in literary history -must ever disarm criticism.