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governments are rival powers, who stand in competition with one another, who have different interests, and must of course have different views; that the rights and privileges of the people are so many spoils taken from the right and prerogative of the crown; and that the rules and laws, made for the exercise and security of the former, are so many diminutions of their dignity, and restraints on their power.
A patriot king will see all this in a far different and much truer light. The constitution will be considered by him as one law, consisting of two tables, containing the rule of his government, and the measure of his subjects' obedience; or as one system, composed of different parts and powers, but all duly proportioned to one another, and conspiring by their harmony to the perfection of the whole.
He will make one, and but one, distinction between his rights, and those of his people ; he will look on his to be a trust, and theirs a property. He will discern, that he can have a right to no more than is trusted to him by the constitution : and that his people, who had an original right to the whole by the law of nature, can have the sole indefeasible right to any part : and really have such a right to that part which they have reserved to themselves. In fine, the constitution will be reverenced by him as the law of God and of man; the force of which binds the king as much as the meanest subjects, and the reason of which binds him much more.
Thus he will think, and on these principles he will act, whether he come to the throne by immediate or remote election. I say remote ; for in hereditary monarchies, where men are not elected, families are: and therefore some authors would have it believed, that when a family has been once admitted, and an hereditary right to the crown recognised in it, that right cannot be forfeited, nor that throne become vacant, as long as any heir of the family remains.
How much more agreeably to truth and to common sense would these authors have written, if they had maintained that every prince who comes to a crown in the course of succession, were he the last of five hundred, comes to it under the same conditions under which the first took it, whether expressed or implied, as well as under those, if any such there be, which have been since made by legal authority: and that royal blood can give no right, nor length of succession any prescription, against the constitution of a government! The first and the last hold by the same tenure.
ALEXANDER POPE: 1688-1744.
Pope was the greatest poet of the period. His prose writings consist of a
volume of Letters, a few contributions to periodicals, and the prefaces to his works.
DESCRIPTION OF AN ANCIENT ENGLISH COUNTRY-SEAT.1
From A Letter to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. You must expect nothing regular in my description of a house that seems to be built before rules were in fashion : the whole is so disjointed, and the parts so detached from each other, and yet so joining again, one cannot tell how, that-in a poetical fit-you would imagine it had been a village in Amphion's time, where twenty cottages had taken a dance together, were all out, and stood still in amazement ever since. A stranger would be grievously disappointed who should ever think to get into this house the right way. One would expect, after entering through the porch, to be let into the hall ; alas! nothing less, you find yourself in a brewhouse. From the parlour you think to step into the drawing-room; but, upon opening the iron-nailed door, you are convinced, by a flight of birds about your ears, and a cloud of dust in your eyes, that it is the pigeon-house. On each side our porch are two chimneys, that wear their greens on the outside, which would do as well within, for whenever we make a fire, we let the smoke out of the windows. Over the parlour window hangs a sloping balcony, which time has turned to a very convenient penthouse. The top is crowned with a very venerable tower, so like that of the church just by, that the jackdaws build in it as if it were the true steeple.
The great hall is high and spacious, flanked with long tables, images of ancient hospitality; ornamented with monstrous horns, about twenty broken pikes, and a matchlock musket or two, which they say were used in the civil wars. Here is one vast arched window, beautifully darkened with divers scutcheons of painted glass. There seems to be great propriety in this old manner of blazoning upon glass, ancient families being like ancient windows, in the course of generations seldom free from cracks. One shining
1 Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire.
The city of Thebes, according to a fable, was founded by Amphion, who so excelled in music that by its power he collected the stones for the building of the city, and made them move into their proper places.
pane bears date 1286. The youthful face of Dame Elinor owes more to this single piece than to all the glasses she ever consulted in her life. Who can say after this that glass is frail, when it is not half so perishable as human beauty or glory ? For in another pane you see the memory of a knight preserved, whose marble nose is mouldered from his monument in the church adjoining. And yet, must not one sigh to reflect that the most authentic record of so ancient a family should lie at the mercy of every boy that throws a stone? In this hall, in former days, have dined gartered knights and courtly dames, with ushers, sewers, and seneschals ; and yet it was but the other night that an owl flew in hither and mistook it for a barn.
This hall lets you up (and down) over a very high threshold, into the parlour. It is furnished with historical tapestry, whose marginal fringes do confess the moisture of the air. The other contents of this room are a broken-bellied virginal, a couple of crippled velvet chairs, with two or three mildewed pictures of mouldy ancestors. These are carefully set at the further corner; for the windows being everywhere broken, make it so convenient a place to dry poppies and mustard-seed in, that the room is appropriated to that use.
Next this parlour lies, as I said before, the pigeon-house, by the side of which runs an entry that leads, on one hand and the other, into a bed-chamber, a buttery, and a small hole called the chaplain's study. Then follow a brew-house, a little green and gilt parlour, and the great stairs, under which is the dairy. A little further on the right, the servants' hall; and by the side of it, up six steps, the old lady's closet, which has a lattice into the said hall, that, while she said her prayers, she might cast an eye on the men and maids. There are upon this ground-floor in all twenty-four apartments, hard to be distinguished by particular names ; among which I must not forget a chamber that has in it a large antiquity of timber, which seems to have been either a bedstead or a cider-press.
Our best room above is very long and low, of the exact proportion of a bandbox; it has hangings of the finest work in the world; those, I mean, which Arachnel spins out of her own bowels : indeed, the roof is so decayed, that after a favourable shower of rain, we may, with God's blessing, expect a crop of mushrooms between the chinks of the floors.
1 A woman so well skilled in needle-work that she challenged competition with Minerva, and, being defeated, hanged herself, on which the goddess changed her to a spider.
All this upper story has for many years had no other inhabitants than certain rats, whose very age renders them worthy of this venerable mansion, for the very rats of this ancient seat are gray. Since these had not quitted it, we hope at least this house may stand during the small remainder of days these poor animals have to live, who are now too infirm to remove to another: they have still a small subsistence left them in the few remaining books of the library.
I had never seen half what I have described, but for an old starched gray-headed steward, who is as much an antiquity as any in the place, and looks like an old family picture walked out of its frame. He failed not, as we passed from room to room, to relate several memoirs of the family ; but his observations were particularly curious in the cellar: he shewed where stood the triple rows of butts of sack, and where were ranged the bottles of tent for toasts in the morning: he pointed to the stands that supported the iron-hooped hogsheads of strong beer; then stepping to a corner, he lugged out the tattered fragment of an unframed picture: This,' says he, with tears in his eyes, was poor Sir Thomas, once master of the drink I told you of: he had two sons (poor young masters !) that never arrived to the age of this beer; they both fell ill in this very cellar, and never went out upon their own legs.' He could not pass by a broken bottle without taking it up to shew us the arms of the family on it. He then led me up the tower, by dark winding stone-steps, which landed us into several little rooms, one above another; one of these was nailed up, and my guide whispered to me the occasion of it. The ghost of Lady Frances is supposed to walk here: some prying maids of the family formerly reported that they saw a lady in a fardingale through the key-hole ; but this matter was hushed up, and the servants forbid to talk of it.
I must needs have tired you with this long letter; but what engaged me in the description was, a generous principle to preserve the memory of a thing that must itself soon fall to ruin ; nay, perhaps, some part of it before this reaches your hands. Indeed, I owe this old house the same gratitude that we do to an old friend that harbours us in his declining condition, nay, even in his last extremities. I have found this an excellent place for retirement and study, where no one who passes by can dream there is an inhabitant, and even anybody that would visit me dares not venture under my roof.
GEORGE BERKELEY: 1684–1753,
Dr Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, was the greatest philosophical writer of the
period. His chief works are The Theory of Vision, The Principles of Human Knowledge, and The Minute Philosopher. The style of Berkeley has been generally admired; it is clear and unaffected, with the easy grace of the polished philosopher.
PREJUDICES AND OPINIONS.
Prejudices are notions or opinions which the mind entertains without knowing the grounds and reasons of them, and which are assented to without examination. The first notions which take possession of the minds of men, with regard to duties social, moral, and civil, may therefore be justly styled prejudices. The mind of a young creature cannot remain empty; if you do not put into it that which is good, it will be sure to receive that which is bad.
Do what you can, there will still be a bias from education; and if so, is it not better this bias should lie towards things laudable and useful to society? This bias still operates, although it may not always prevail. The notions first instilled have the earliest influence, take the deepest root, and generally are found to give a colour and complexion to the subsequent lives of men, inasmuch as they are in truth the great source of human actions. It is not gold, or honour, or power, that moves men to act, but the opinions they entertain of those things. Hence it follows, that if a magistrate should say: 'No matter what notions men embrace, I will take heed to their actions,' therein he shews his weakness ; for, such as are men’s notions, such will be their deeds.
For a man to do as he would be done by, to love his neighbour as himself, to honour his superiors, to believe that God scans all his actions, and will reward or punish them, and to think that he who is guilty of falsehood or injustice hurts himself more than any one else; are not these such notions and principles as every wise governor or legislator would covet above all things to have firmly rooted in the mind of every individual under his care? This is allowed even by the enemies of religion, who would fain have it