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out of scruple of conscience, very hastily threw up their pensions, as imagining a pension was only an annual retaining bribe. All the other great pensioners, I was told, had their scruples quieted by a clergyman or two of distinction, whom they happily consulted.
It was remarkable, that several of our very richest tradesmen of the city, in common charity, gave away shillings and sixpences to the beggars, who plied about the church doors ; and at a particular church in the city, a wealthy churchwarden with his own hands distributed fifty twelvepenny loaves to the poor, by way of restitution for the many great and costly feasts, which he had eaten of at their expense.
Three great ladies, a valet de chambre, two lords a customhouse officer, five half-pay captains, and a baronet (all noted gamesters) caine publickly into a church at Westminster, and deposited a very considerable sum of money in the minister's hands; the parties, whom they had defrauded, being either out of town, or not to be found. But so great is the hardness of heart of this fraternity, that among either the noble, or vulgar gamesters (though the profession is so general) I did not hear of any other restitution of this sort. At the same time I must observe that (in comparison of these) through all parts of the town, the justice and penitence of the highwaymen, housebreakers, and common pickpockets, was very remarkable.
The directors of our publick companies were in such dreadful apprehensions, that one would have thought a parliamentary inquiry was at hand; yet so great was their presence of mind, that all the Thursday
morning was taken up in private transfers, which by malicious people was thought to be done with design to conceal their effects.
I forbear mentioning the private confessions of particular ladies to their husbands ; for as their children were born in wedlock, and of consequence are legitimate, it would be an invidious task to record them as bastards ; and particularly after their several husbands have so charitably forgiven them.
The evening and night through the whole town were spent in devotions both publick and private ; the churches for this one day were so crowded by the nobility and gentry, that thousands of common people were seen praying in the publick streets. In short, one would have thought the whole town had been really and seriously religious. But what was very remarkable, all the different persuasions kept by themselves, for as each thought the other would be damned, not one would join in prayer with the other.
At length Friday came, and the people covered all the streets; expecting, watching and praying. But as the day wore away, their fears first began to abate, then lessened every hour, at night they were almost extinct, till the total darkness, that hitherto used to terrify, now comforted every freethinker and atheist. Great numbers went together to the taverns, bespoke suppers, and broke up whole hogsheads for joy. The subject of all wit and conversation was to ridicule the prophecy, and rally each other. All the quality and gentry were perfectly ashamed, nay, some utterly disowned that they had manifested any signs of religion. But the next day even the common people, as well
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as their betters, appeared in their usual state of indifference. They drank, they whored, they swore, they lied, they cheated, they quarrelled, they murdered. In short, the world went on in the old channel.
I need not give any instances of what will so easily be credited, but I cannot omit relating, that Mr. Woolston advertised in that very Saturday's Evening Post a new treatise against the miracles of our Saviour; and that the few, who had given up their pensions the day before, solicited to have them continued : which, as they had not been thrown up upon any ministerial point, I am informed was readily granted.
PARTY is the madness of many, for the gain of
There never was any party, faction, sect, or cabal whatsoever, in which the most ignorant were not the most violent; for a bee is not a busier animal than a blockhead. However, such instruments are necessary to politicians; and perhaps it may be with states as with clocks, which must have some dead weight hanging at them to help and regulate the motion of the finer and more useful parts.
To endeavour to work upon the vulgar with fine sense, is like attempting to hew blocks with a razor.
IV. Fine sense and exalted sense are not half so useful as common sense : there are forty men of wit to one man of sense ; and he that will carry nothing about him but gold, will be every day at a loss for want of readier change. в в 3
Learning is like mercury, one of the most powerful and excellent things in the world in skilful hands : in unskilful, the most mischievous.
The nicest constitutions of government are often like the finest pieces of clockwork ; which depending on so many motions, are therefore more subject to be out of order.
VII Every man has just as much vanity as he wants understanding.
Modesty, if it were to be recommended for nothing else, this were enough, that the pretending to little, leaves a man at ease ; whereas boasting requires a perpetual labour to appear what he is not. If we have sense, modesty best proves it to others; if we have none, it best hides our want of it. For, as blushing will sometimes make a whore pass for a virtuous woman, so modesty may make a fool seem a man of sense.
IX. It is not so much the being exempt from faults, as the having overcome them, that is an advantage to us : it being with the follies of the mind, as with the weeds of a field, which, if destroyed and consumed upon the place of their birth, enrich and improve it more, than if none had ever sprung there.