Page images
PDF

pe to

my bosom ; but then sleep went from my eyes. Oh, most violently; then I began to think I had not so the weight of human care! I, a poor beggar boy, much as a halfpenny of it left for a balfpenny roll, could not sleep, so soon as I had but a little money and I was hungry, and then I cried again: then I to keep, who, before that, could have slept upon a came away in despair, crying and roaring like a little heap of brick-bats, stones, or cinders, or anywhere, as boy that had been whipped ; then I went back again sound as a rich man does on his down bed, and to the tree, and up the tree again, and thus I did sounder too.

several times, Every now and then dropping asleep, I should The last time I had gotten up the tree, I happened dream that my money was lost, and start like one to come down not on the same side that I went up frightened ; then, finding it fast in my hand, try to and came down before, but on the other side of the go to sleep again, but could not for a long while; then tree, and on the other side of the bank also; and drop and start again. At last a fancy came into my behold, the tree had a great open place in the side of head, that if I fell asleep, I should dream of the it close to the ground, as old hollow trees often have; money, and talk of it in my sleep, and tell that I had and looking in the open place, to my inexpressible money; which, if I should do, and one of the rogues joy there lay my money and my linen rag, all wrapped should hear me, they would pick it out of my bosom, up just as I had put it into the hole: for the tree beand of my hand too, without waking me; and after ing hollow all the way up, there had been some moss or that thought I could not sleep a wink more ; so I light stuff, which I had not judgment enough to know passed that night over in care and anxiety enough, was not firm, that had given way whe and this, I may safely say, was the first night's rest | drop out of my hand, and so it had slipped quite that I lost by the cares of this life, and the deceitful-| down at once. ness of riches.

I was but a child, and I rejoiced like a child, for I As soon as it was day, I got out of the hole we lay hollowed quite out aloud when I saw it; then I ran in, and rambled abroad in the fields towards Stepney, to it and snatched it up, hugged and kissed the dirty and there I mused and considered what I should do rag a hundred times; then danced and jumped about, with this money, and many a time I wished that I ran from one end of the field to the other, and, in had not had it; for, after all my ruminating upon it, short, I knew not what, much less do I know now and what course I should take with it, or where I what I did, though I shall never forget the thing; should put it, I could not hit upon any one thing, or either what a sinking grief it was to my heart when I any possible method to secure it; and it perplexed me thought I had lost it, or what a flood of joy overso, that at last, as I said just now, I sat down and whelmed me when I had got it again. cried heartily.

| While I was in the first transport of my joy, as I When my crying was over, the case was the same; have said, I ran about, and knew not what I did : I had the money still, and what to do with it I could but when that was over, I sat down, opened the foul not tell: at last it came into my head that I should clout the money was in, looked at it, told it, found it look out for some hole in a tree, and see to hide it was all there, and then I fell a-crying as violently as there, till I should have occasion for it. Big with this I did before, when I thought I had lost it. discovery, as I then thought it, I began to look about me for a tree; but there were no trees in the fields

[Adrice to a Youth of Rambling Disposition.) about Stepney or Mile-end that looked fit for my purpose ; and if there were any, that I began to look nar

(From Robinson Crusoe.'] rowly at, the fields were so full of people, that they Being the third son of the family, and not bred to would see if I went to hide anything there, and I any trade, my head began to be filled very early with thought the people eyed me, as it were, and that two rambling thoughts. My father, who was very ancient, men in particular followed me to see what I intended bad given me a competent share of learning, as far as to do.

house education and a country free school generally This drove me further off, and I crossed the road at go, and designed me for the law: but I would be Mile-end, and in the middle of the town went down satisfied with nothing but going to sea ; and my ina lane that goes away to the Blind Beggar's at Beth-clination to this led me so strongly against the will nal Green. When I got a little way in the lane, Inay, the commands of my father, and against all found a footpath over the fields, and in those fields the intreaties and persuasions of my mother and other several trees for my turn, as I thought; at last, one friends, that there seemed to be something fatal in tree had a little hole in it, pretty high out of my that propension of nature, tending directly to the life reach, and I climbed up the tree to get it, and when of misery which was to befall me. I came there, I put my hand in, and found, as I My father, a wise and grave man, gave me serious thought, a place very fit; so I placed my treasure and excellent counsel against what he foresaw was my there, and was mighty well satisfied with it; but design. He called me one morning into his chamber, behold, putting my hand in again, to lay it more where he was confined by the gout, and expostulated commodiously, as I thought, of a sudden it slipped very warmly with me upon this subject. He asked away from me, and I found the tree was hollow, and me what reasons, more than a mere wandering incli. my little parcel was fallen in out of my reach, and how nation, I had for leaving my father's house and my far it might go in I knew not; so that, in a word, my native country, where I might be well introduced, and money was quite gone, irrecoverably lost; there could had a prospect of raising my fortune by application be no room so much as to hope ever to see it again, and industry, with a life of ease and pleasure. He for 'twas a vast great tree.

told me it was only men of desperate fortunes on one As young as I was, I was now sensible what a fool hand, or of aspiring superior fortunes on the other, I was before, that I could not think of ways to keep who went abroad upon adventures, to rise by entermy money, but I must come thus far to throw it into prise, and make themselves famous in undertakings a hole where I could not reach it: well, I thrust my of a nature out of the common road ; that these hand quite up to my elbow, but no bottom was to be things were all either too far above me, or too far found, nor any end of the hole or cavity; I got a stick below me; that mine was the middle state, or what of the tree, and thrust it in a great way, but all was might be called the upper station of low life, which one; then I cried, nay, roared out, I was in such a he had found, by long experience, was the best state passion; then I got down the tree again, then up in the world-the most suited to human happiness ; again, and thrust in my hand again till I scratched not exposed to the miseries and hardships, the labour my arm and made it bleed, and cried all the while I and sufferings, of the mechanic part of mankind, and not embarrassed with the pride, luxury, ambition, novelist or essayist. He was born in Holland in 1670, and envy, of the upper part of mankind. He told but seems early to have come to England, where me I might judge of the happiness of this state by he practised as a physician. After some obscure this one thing, namely, that this was the state of life works, Mandeville produced, in 1723, his celebrated which all other people envied ; that kings have fre-Fable of The Bees, or Private Vices Made Public quently lamented the miserable consequences of being Benefits, which was soon rendered conspicuous by born to great things, and wished they had been placed being presented by the grand jury of Middlesex, on in the middle of the two extremes, between the mean account of its immoral and pernicious tendency. and the great ; that the wise man gave his testimony | Bishop Berkeley answered the arguments of the to this, as the just standard of true felicity, when he Fable, and Mandeville replied in Letters to Dion. He prayed to have neither poverty nor riches.

also published Free Thoughts on Religion, and An IRHe bade me observe it, and I should always findquiry into the Origin of Honour, and the Usefulness of that the calamities of life were shared among the Christianity in War, both of which, like his Fable, upper and lower part of mankind; but that the middle were of questionable tendency. He died in 1733. station had the fewest disasters, and was not exposed The satire of Mandeville is general, not individual; to so many vicissitudes as the higher or lower part of vet his examples are strong and lively pictures. He mankind; nay, they were not subjected to so many describes the faults and corruptions of different prodistempers and uneasinesses, either of body or mind,

fessions and forms of society, and then attempts to as those were who, by vicious living, luxury, and ex

show that they are subservient to the grandeur and travagances on one hand, or by hard labour, want of

worldly happiness of the whole. If mankind, he necessaries, and mean or insufhcient diet on the other

says, could be cured of the failings they are naturally hand, bring distempers upon themselves by the natural|

guilty of, they would cease to be capable of forming consequences of their way of living; that the middle

vast, potent, and polite societies. His object was station of life was calculated for all kind of virtues, labie

es: chiefly to divert the reader, being conscious that and all kind of enjoyments; that peace and plenty manki

ind plenty mankind are not easily reasoned out of their follies. were the handmaids of a middle fortune; that tem

| Another of the paradoxes of Mandeville is, that perance, moderation, quietness, "health, society, all

charity schools, and all sorts of education, are injuagreeable diversions, and all desirable pleasures, were rion

te rious to the lower classes. The view which he takes the blessings attending the niiddle station of life;

of human nature is low and degrading enough to that this way men went silently and smoothly through

have been worthy the adoption of Swift; and some the world, and comfortably out of it; not embarrassed

of his descriptions are not inferior to those of the with the labours of the hands or of the head; not sold

dean. For example: to a life of slavery for daily bread, or harassed with perplexed circumstances, which rob the soul of peace

[Flattery of the Great.] and the body of rest; not enraged with the passion of envy, or the secret burning lust of ambition for If you ask me where to look for those beautiful great things — but in easy circumstances, sliding shining qualities of prime ministers, and the great gently through the world, and sensibly tasting the favourites of princes, that are so finely painted in sweets of living without the bitter ; feeling that they dedications, addresses, epitaphs, funeral sermons, and are happy, and learning, by every day's experience, inscriptions, I answer, There, and nowhere else. Where to know it more sensibly.

would you look for the excellency of a statue but in After this he pressed me earnestly, and in the most that part which you see of it i' 'Tis the polished affectionate manner, not to play the young man, or to outside only that has the skill and labour of the precipitate myself into miseries, which nature, and sculptor to boast of; what is out of sight is untouched. the station of life I was born in, seem to have pro Would you break the head or cut open the breast to vided against ; that I was under no necessity of seek look for the brains or the heart, you would only show ing my bread ; that he would do well for me, and your ignorance, and destroy the workmanship. This endeavour to enter me fairly into the station of life has often made me compare the virtues of great men which he had been just recommending to me; and to your large China jars: they make a fine show, that, if I was not very easy and happy in the world, and are ornamental even to a chimney. One would, it must be my mere fate, or fault, that must hinder by the bulk they appear in, and the value that is set it; and that he should have nothing to answer for, upon them, think they might be very useful ; but having thus discharged his duty, in warning me look into a thousand of them, and you will find noagainst measures which he knew would be to my thing in them but dust and cobwebs. hurt. In a word, that as he would do very kind things for me, if I would stay and settle at home as

[Society Compared to a Bowl of Punch.] he directed, so he would not have so much hand in my misfortunes as to give me any encouragement to Abundance of moderate men I know that are ene. go away; and, to close all, he told me I had my mies to extremes will tell me that frugality might hapelder brother for my example, to whom he had used pily supply the place of the two vices, prodigality and the same earnest persuasions to keep him from going avarice; that if men had not so many profuse ways into the Low Country wars, but could not prevail, his of spending wealth, they would not be tempted to so young desires prompting him to run into the army, many evil practices to scrape it together, and consewhere he was killed ; and though he said he would quently that the same number of men, by equally not cease to pray for me, yet he would venture to say avoiding both extremes, might render themselves to me, that if i did take this foolish step, God would more happy, and be less vicious without than they not bless meand I would have leisure hereafter to could with them. Whoever argues thus, shows him. reflect upon having neglected his counsel, when there self a better man than he is a politician. Frugality might be none to assist in my recovery.

is like honesty, a mean starving virtue, that is only

fit for small societies of good peaceable men, who are BERNARD MANDEVILLE.

contented to be poor so they may be easy ; but in &

large stirring nation, you may have soon enough of BERNARD MANDEVILLE, author of The Fable of it.“ 'Tis an idle dreaming virtue that employs no The Bees, was a nervous and graphic writer, who hands, and therefore very useless in a trading country, squandered upon useless and lax speculations powers where there are vast numbers that one way or other that would have fitted him admirably for being a must be all set to work. Prodigality has a thousand

inventions to keep people from sitting still, that Westminster; or that humility is $0 ponderous a frugality would never think of; and as this must virtue, that it requires six horses to draw it. consume a prodigious wealth, so avarice again knows innumerable tricks to rake it together, which frugality would scorn to make use of.

ANDREW FLETCHER OF SALTOUN. Authors are always allowed to compare small things Andrew FLETCHER, born in 1653, the son of a to great ones, especially if they ask leave first ; but to Scottish knight, succeeded early to the family estate conipare great things to mean trivial ones is unsuffer. of Saltoun, and represented the shire of Lothian in able, unless it be in burlesque ; otherwise, I would the Scottish parliament in the reign of Charles II. compare the body politic (I confess the simile is very He opposed the arbitrary designs of the Duke of low) to a bowl of punch. Avarice should be the York, afterwards James II., and retired to Holland. souring, and prodigality the sweetening of it. The lis estate was confiscated; but he returned to Eng. water I would call the ignorance, folly, and credulity land with the Duke of Monmouth in 1685. Hapof the floating insipid multitude; whilst wisdom, pening, in a personal scuffle, to kill the mayor of honour, fortitude, and the rest of the sublime qualities Lynn, Fletcher again went abroad, and travelled in of men, which, separated by art from the dregs of Spain. He returned at the period of the Revolution, nature, the fire of glory has exalted and refined into and took an active part in Scottish affairs. His a spiritual essence, should be an equivalent to brandy. opinions were republican, and he was of a haughty I don't doubt but a Westphalian, Laplander, or any unbending temper ; brave as the sword he wore,' other dull stranger that is unacquainted with the according to a contemporary, .and bold as a lion: a wholesome composition, if he was to taste the several

sure friend, and an irreconcilable enemy: would lose ingredients apart, would think it impossible they his life readily to serve his country, and would not should make any tolerable liquor. The lemons would |

do a base thing to save it.' Fletcher opposed the be too sour, the sugar too luscious, the brandy, he union of Scotland with England in 1707, believing. will say, is too strong ever to be drunk in any quan

with many zealous but narrow-sighted patriots of tity, and the water he will call a tasteless liquor, only that day, that it would eclipse the glory of ancient fit for cows and horses; yet experience teaches us that

| Caledonia. He died in 1716. Fletcher wrote several the ingredients I named, judiciously mixed, will

political discourses. One of these, entitled An Ac. make an excellent liquor, liked of and admired by

count of a Conversation concerning a Right Regulation men of exquisite palates.*

of Governments for the Common Good of Mankind, in a

Letter to the Marquis of Montrose, the Earls of Rothes, [Pomp and Superfluity.]

Roxburgh, and Naddington, from London, the first of If the great ones of the clergy, as well as the laity, | December, 1703, is forcibly written, and contains of any country whatever, had no value for earthly some strong appeals in favour of Scottish independpleasures, and did not endeavour to gratify their

ence, as well as some just and manly sentiments. In appetites, why are envy and revenge, so raging among this letter occurs a saying often quoted, and which them, and all the other passions, improved and refined has been (by Lord Brougham and others) erroneously upon in courts of princes more than anywhere else: 1 ascribed to the Earl of Chatham : I knew a very and why are their repasts, their recreations, and whole

wise man that believed that if a man were permitted to manner of living, always such as are approved of, make all the ballads, he need not care who should make coveted, and imitated by the most sensual people of the laws of a nation. The newspaper may now be the same country? If, despising all visible decora- said to have supplanted the ballad ; yet, during the tions, they were only in love with the embellishments late war, the naval songs of Dibdin fanned the flame of the mind, why should they borrow so many of the of national courage and patriotism. An excessive implements, and make use of the most darling toys, admiration of the Grecian and Roman republics led of the luxurious ? Why should a lord treasurer, or a Fletcher to eulogise even the slavery that prevailed bishop, or even the Grand Signior, or the Pope of in those states. He represents their condition as Rome, to be good and virtuous, and endeavour the happy and useful; and, as a contrast to it, he paints conquest of his passions, have occasion for greater the state of the lowest class in Scotland in colours revenues, richier furniture, or a more numerous attend ! that, if true, show how frightfully disorganised the ance as to personal service, than a private man? country was at that period. In his Second Discourse What virtue is it the exercise of which requires so on the Affairs of Scotland, 1698, there occurs the folmuch pomp and superfluity as are to be seen by all | lowing sketch : men in power? A man has as much opportunity to • There are at this day in Scotland (besides a practise temperance that has but one dish at a meal, great many poor families very meanly provided for as he that is constantly served with three courses and by the church boxes, with others who, by living on a dozen dishes in each. One may exercise as much bad food, fall into various diseases) two hundred thoupatience and be as full of self-denial on a few flocks, sand people begging from door to door. These are not without curtains or tester, as in a velvet bed that is only no way advantageous, but a very grievous sixteen foot high. The virtuous possessions of the burden to so poor a country. And though the nummind are neither charge nor burden: a man may ber of them be perhaps double to what it was forbear misfortunes with fortitude in a garret, forgive merly, by reason of this present great distress, yet injuries a-foot, and be chaste, though he has not a in all times there have been about one hundred thoushirt to his back; and therefore I shall never believe sand of those vagabonds, who have lived without but that an indifferent skuller, if he was intrusted any regard or subjection either to the laws of the with it, might carry all the learning and religion that land, or even those of God and nature. No magisone man can contain, as well as a barge with six oars, frate could ever be informed, or discover, which especially if it was but to cross from Lambeth to way one in a hundred of these wretches died,

or that ever they were baptised. Many murders * This simile of Mandeville may have suggested the very

have been discovered among them: and they are humorous one in the Rejected Addresses, where Cobhere

not only a most unspeakable oppression to poor made to say-England is a large earthenware pipkin. John Bull is the beef thrown into it. Taxes are the hot water he

tenants (who, if they give not bread, or some kind boils in. Rotten boroughs are the fuel that blazes under this of provision, to perhaps forty such villains in one samne pipkin. Parliament is the ladle that stirs the hodge- day, are sure to be insulted by them), but they podge.

| rob many poor people who live in houses distant 1 from any neighbourhood. In years of plenty, many and Government, his Letters on the Sacramental Test,

thousands of them meet together in the mountains, Argument against the Abolition of Christianity, and where they feast and riot for many days; and at Predictions for the Year 1708, by Isaac Bickerstaff, country weddings, markets, burials, and the like Esq. Various political tracts followed, the most public occasions, they are to be seen, both men and conspicuous of which are, The Conduct of the Allies, women, perpetually drunk, cursing, blaspheming, and published in 1712, and The Public Spirit of the Whigs, fighting together. These are such outrageous dis- in 1714. The latter incensed the Duke of Argyle orders, that it were better for the nation they were and other peers so much, that a proclamation offer. sold to the galleys or West Indies, than that they ing a reward of £300 was issued for the discovery of should continue any longer to be a burden and curse the author. In 1713, Swift was rewarded with the upon us.'

deanery of St Patrick's in Dublin; but the destruc.

tion of all his hopes of further preferment followed JONATHAN SWIFT.

soon after, on the accession of the House of Hanover

to the throne, and the return of the Whig party The most powerful and original prose writer of to power. He withdrew to Ireland, a disappointed this period was DR SWIFT, the celebrated dean of man, full of bitterness against many of the men and St Patrick's. We have already noticed his poetry, things of his age. His feelings partly found vent which formed only a sort of interlude in the strangely in several works which he published on national mingled drama of his life. None of his works were subjects, and which rendered him exceedingly powritten for mere fame or solitary gratification. His pular-A Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish restless and insatiate ambition prompted him to Manufactures, and Letters by M. B. Drapier against wield his pen as a means of advancing his interests, Wood's patent for supplying Ireland with a copper or expressing his personal feelings, caprices, or re-coinage. His talents were in full vigour, and his sentment. In a letter to Bolingbroke, he says- mind, ever active, poured forth a vast number of * All my endeavours, from a boy, to distinguish my- slight pieces on the topics of the day. In 1726 apself, were only for want of a great title and fortune, peared Gulliver's Travels, the most original and that I might be used like a lord by those who have extraordinary of all his productions. A few of his an opinion of my parts—whether right or wrong, it friends-Pope, Bolingbroke, Gay, and Arbuthnotis no great matter, and so the reputation of wit or were in the secret as to the authorship of this sati. great learning does the office of a blue ribbon, or of rical romance; but it puzzled the world in no ordia coach and six horses.' This was but a poor and nary degree, and this uncertainty tended to increase sordid ambition, and it is surprising that it bore the interest and attraction of the work. While such fruit. The first work of any importance by courtiers and politicians recognised in the adventures Swift was a political tract, written in 1701, to vin- of Gulliver many satirical allusions to the court and dicate the Whig patriots, Somers, Halifax, and politics of England-to Walpole, Bolingbroke, the Portland, who had been impeached by the House of | Prince of Wales, the two contending parties in the Commons. The author was then of the ripe age of state, and various matters of secret history--the thirty-four; for Swift, unlike his friend Pope, came great mass of ordinary readers saw and felt only the but slowly to the maturity of his powers. The wonder and fascination of the narrative. The aptreatise was entitled A Discourse of the Contests and pearance, occupations, wars, and pursuits of the tiny Dissensions between the Nobles and Commons of Athens | Lilliputians the gigantic Brobdingnagians - the and Rome. It is plainly written, without irony or fearful, misanthropic picture of the Yahoos—with eloquence. One sentence (the last in the fourth the philosophic researches at Laputa-all possessed chapter) closes with a fine simile. Although,' he novelty and attraction for the mere unlearned reader, says, 'most revolutions of government in Greece who was alternately agitated with emotions of surand Rome began with the tyranny of the people, prise, delight, astonishment, pity, and reprobation. yet they generally concluded in that of a single per- | The charm of Swift's style, so simple, pure, and unson: so that an usurping populace is its own dupe; a affected, and the apparent earnestness and sincerity mere underworker, and a purchaser in trust for with which he dwells on the most improbable cirsome single tyrant, whose state and power may ad-cumstances, are displayed in full perfection in Gul. vance to their own ruin, with as blind an instinct liver, which was the most carefully finished of all as those worms that die with weaving magnificent his works. Some tracts on ecclesiastical questions, habits for beings of a superior nature to their own.' and the best of his poetry, were afterwards produced. Swift's next work was his Battle of the Books, written His other prose works were, A History of the Four to support his patron, Sir William Temple, in his Last Years of Queen Anne (not published till long dispute as to the relative merits of ancient and after his death), Polite Conversation, a happy satire modern learning. The Battle of the Books' exhi- on the frivolities of fashionable life, and Directions bits all the characteristics of Swift's style, its per- for Servants, a fragment which also appeared after sonal satire, and strong racy humour. These qualities his death, and on which he bestowed considerable were further displayed in his Tale of a Tub, written pains. It exemplifies the habit of minute observaabout the same time, and first published in 1704. tion which distinguished Swift, and which someThe object of his powerful satire. was here of a times rendered him no very agreeable inmate of a higher cast; it was to ridicule the Roman Catholics house. Various editions of Swift's works have been and Presbyterians, with a view of exalting the High published, but the best and most complete is that by Church of England party. His three heroes, Peter, Sir Walter Scott, in nineteen volumes. His rank as Martin, and Jack, represent Popery, the Church of a writer has long since been established. In origiEngland, and the Protestant dissenters; and their nality and strength he has no superior, and in wit adventures, if not very decorous, are at least irre- and irony-the latter of which sistibly ludicrous. How any clergyman could write

- he was born to introduce, and publish in such a strain on religious subjects, must ever remain a marvel. But Swift published

Refined it first, and showed its use anonymously. He soon grew dissatisfied with the he shines equally pre-eminent. He was deficient in Whigs, and his next publications united him with purity of taste and loftiness of imagination. The the Tory party. In 1708 appeared his Sentiments frequency with which he dwells on gross and disof a Church of England Man, in Respect to Religion gusting images, betrays a callousness of feeling that wholly debarred him from the purer regions of at least put the genate to the trouble of another securromance. He could

|ing vote. I desire I may not be misunderstood : I

am far from presuming to affirm or think that the Laugh and shake in Rabelais' easy chair ;

church is in danger at present, or as things now stand, though it was still, as Coleridge has remarked, but we know not how soon it may be so, when the * the soul of Rabelais dwelling in a dry place.' | Christian religion is repealed. As plausible as this Of the serious air' of Cervantes, which Pope has project seems, there may a dangerous design lurk also bestowed on his friend, the traces are less fre under it. - Nothing can be more notorious than that quent and distinct. We can scarcely conceive him the atheists, deists, socinians, anti-trinitarians, and to have ever read the 'Faery Queen'or• Midsummer other subdivisions of free-thinkers, are persons of little Night's Dream. The palpable and familiar objects zeal for the present ecclesiastical establishment. of life were the sources of his inspiration; and in Their declared opinion is for repealing the sacramenfictitious narrative, he excels, like Richardson and tal test; they are very indifferent with regard to Defoe, by painting and grouping minute particu ceremonies ; nor do they hold the jus divinum of epislars, that impart to his most extravagant conceptions copacy. Therefore this may be intended as one polian air of sober truth and reality. Always full of tic step towards altering the constitution of the church thought and observation, his clear perspicuous style established, and setting up presbytery in its stead ; never tires in the perusal. When exhausted by the which I leave to be farther considered by those at the works of imaginative writers, or the ornate periods | helm. of statesmen and philosophers, the plain, earnest, I. And therefore if, notwithstanding all I have said, and manly pages of Swift, his strong sense, keen it shall still be thought necessary to have a bill observation, and caustic wit. are felt to be a legacy brought in for repcaling Christianity, I would humbly of inestimable value. He was emphatically a master offer an amendment, that, instead of the word Chrisin English literature, and as such, with all his faults, tianity, may be put religion in general ; which I conis entitled to our reverence.

ceive will much better answer all the good ends proThe satirical vein of Swift is well exemplified in

posed by the projectors of it. For as long as we leave his . Argument against Abolishing Christianity,' the

in being a God and his Providence, with all the nevery title of which is a specimen of grave irony. It

cessary consequences which curious and inquisitire runs as follows:-'An Argument to prove that the

men will be apt to draw from such premises, we do Abolishing of Christianity in England may, as

not strike at the root of the evil, although we should things now stand, be attended with some incon

ever so effectually annihilate the present scheme of veniences, and perhaps not produce those many good | |

he Gospel. For of what use is freedom of thought, effects proposed thereby;' Two specimens of this

if it will not produce freedom of action, which is the tract are presented.

sole end, how remote scerer in appearance, of all

objections against Christianity? And therefore the [Inconveniences from a Proposed Abolition of

free-thinkers consider it a sort of editice, wherein all Christianity.]

the parts have such a mutual dependence on each

other, that if you happen to pull out one single nail, I am very sensible how much the gentlemen of wit the whole fabric must fall to the ground. and pleasure are apt to murmur and be shocked at the sight of so many daggle-tail parsons, who bappen

[Arguments for the Abolition of Christianity Treated.] to fall in their way, and offend their eyes ; but, at the same time, those wise reformers do not consider It is likewise urged, that there are by computation what an advantage and felicity it is for great wits to in this kingdom above ten thousand parsons, whose be always provided with objects of scorn and contempt, revenues, added to those of my lords the bishops, in order to exercise and improve their talents, and would suffice to maintain at least two hundred young divert their spleen from falling on each other, or on gentlemen of wit and pleasure, and free-thinking, themselves; especially when all this may be done enemies to priestcraft, narrow principles, pedantry, without the least imaginable danger to their persons. and prejudices, who might be an ornament to the And to urge another argument of a parallel nature : court and town; and then, again, so great a number if Christianity were once abolished, how could the of able [bodicd] divines might be a recruit to our free-thinkers, the strong reasoners, and the men of feet and arinies. This, indeed, appears to be a conprofound learning, be able to find another subject so sideration of some weight; but then, on the other calculated in all points whereon to display their side, several things deserve to be considered likewise : abilities? What wonderful productions of wit should as, first, whether it may not be thought necessary that we be deprived of from those whose genius, by con- in certain tracts of country, like what we call parishes, tinual practice, hath been wholly turned upon raillery there should be one man at least of abilities to read and invectives against religion, and would, therefore, and write. Then it seems a wrong computation, that be never able to shine or distinguish themselves on the revenues of the church throughout this island any other subject? We are daily complaining of the would be large enough to maintain two hundred: great decline of wit among us, and would we take young gentlemen, or even half that number, after away the greatest, perhaps the only topic we have the present refined way of living, that is, to allow left? Who would ever have suspected Asgill for a each of them such a rent as, in the modern form of wit or Toland for a philosopher, if the inexhaustible speech, would make them easy. * stock of Christianity had not been at hand to provide Another advantage proposed by the abolishing of: them with materials? What other subject through Christianity, is the clear gain of one day in seven, all art or nature could have produced Tindal for a which is now entirely lost, and consequently the profound author, or furnished him with readers? It kingdom one-seventh less considerable in trade, busiis the wise choice of the subject that alone adorneth ness, and pleasure ; besides the loss to the public of i and distinguisheth the writer. For had a hundred so many stately structures now in the hands of the such pens as these been employed on the side of clergy, which might be converted into play-houses, religion, they would immediately have sunk into market-houses, exchanges, common dormitories, and silence and oblivion.

other public edifices. Nor do I think it wholly groundless, or my fears I hope I shall be forgiven a hard word if I call this altogether imaginary, that the abolishing of Christi- a cavil. I readily own there hath been an old cusanity may, perhaps, bring the church in danger, or | tom, time out of mind, for people to assemble in the

« PreviousContinue »