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Title: The Fable of the Bees
       Or, Private Vices Public Benefits

Author: Bernard Mandeville (1670-1733)

Release Date: June 4, 2018 [EBook #57260]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by Jeroen Hellingman and the Online Distributed
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Newly Designed Front Cover.

Original Title Page.

Edinburgh, printed by Mundell and Son.





Laws and government are to the political bodies of civil societies, what the vital spirits and life itself are to the natural bodies of animated creatures; and as those that study the anatomy of dead carcases may see, that the chief organs and nicest springs more immediately required to continue the motion of our machine, are not hard bones, strong muscles and nerves, nor the smooth white skin, that so beautifully covers them, but small trifling films, and little pipes, that are either overlooked or else seem inconsiderable to vulgar eyes; so they that examine into the nature of man, abstract from art and education, may observe, that what renders him a sociable animal, consists not in his desire of company, good nature, pity, affability, and other graces of a fair outside; but that his vilest and most hateful qualities are the most necessary accomplishments to fit him for the largest, and, according to the world, the happiest and most flourishing societies.

The following Fable, in which what I have said is set forth at large, was printed above eight years ago1, in a six penny pamphlet, called, The Grumbling Hive, or Knaves turn’d Honest; and being soon after pirated, cried about the streets in a halfpenny sheet. Since the first publishing of it, I have met with several that, either wilfully or ignorantly mistaking the design, would have it, that the scope of it was a satire upon virtue and morality, and the whole wrote for the encouragement of vice. This made me resolve, whenever it should be reprinted, some way or other to inform the reader of the real intent this little poem was wrote with. I do not dignify these few loose lines with the name of Poem, that I would have the reader expect any poetry in them, but barely because they are rhyme, and I am in reality puzzled what name to give them; for they are neither heroic nor pastoral, satire, burlesque, nor heroi-comic; to be a tale they want probability, and the whole is rather too long for a fable. All I can say of them is, that they are a story told in doggerel, which, without the least design of being witty, I have endeavoured to do in as easy and familiar a manner as I was able: the reader shall be welcome to call them what he pleases. It [vi]was said of Montaigne, that he was pretty well versed in the defects of mankind, but unacquainted with the excellencies of human nature: if I fare no worse, I shall think myself well used.

What country soever in the universe is to be understood by the Bee-Hive represented here, it is evident, from what is said of the laws and constitution of it, the glory, wealth, power, and industry of its inhabitants, that it must be a large, rich and warlike nation, that is happily governed by a limited monarchy. The satire, therefore, to be met with in the following lines, upon the several professions and callings, and almost every degree and station of people, was not made to injure and point to particular persons, but only to show the vileness of the ingredients that altogether compose the wholesome mixture of a well-ordered society; in order to extol the wonderful power of political wisdom, by the help of which so beautiful a machine is raised from the most contemptible branches. For the main design of the Fable (as it is briefly explained in the Moral), is to show the impossibility of enjoying all the most elegant comforts of life, that are to be met with in an industrious, wealthy and powerful nation, and at the same time, be blessed with all the virtue and innocence that can be wished for in a golden age; from thence to expose the unreasonableness and folly of those, that desirous of being an opulent and flourishing people, and wonderfully greedy after all the benefits they can receive as such, are yet always murmuring at and exclaiming against those vices and inconveniences, that from the beginning of the world to this present day, have been inseparable from all kingdoms and states, that ever were famed, for strength, riches, and politeness, at the same time.

To do this, I first slightly touch upon some of the faults and corruptions the several professions and callings are generally charged with. After that I show that those very vices, of every particular person, by skilful management, were made subservient to the grandeur and worldly happiness of the whole. Lastly, by setting forth what of necessity must be the consequence of general honesty and virtue, and national temperance, innocence and content, I demonstrate that if mankind could be cured of the failings they are naturally guilty of, they would cease to be capable of being raised into such vast potent and polite societies, as they have [vii]been under the several great commonwealths and monarchies that have flourished since the creation.

If you ask me, why I have done all this, cui bono? and what good these notions will produce? truly, besides the reader’s diversion, I believe none at all; but if I was asked what naturally ought to be expected from them, I would answer, that, in the first place, the people who continually find fault with others, by reading them, would be taught to look at home, and examining their own consciences, be made ashamed of always railing at what they are more or less guilty of themselves; and that, in the next, those who are so fond of the ease and comforts, and reap all the benefits that are the consequence of a great and flourishing nation, would learn more patiently to submit to those inconveniences, which no government upon earth can remedy, when they should see the impossibility of enjoying any great share of the first, without partaking likewise of the latter.

This, I say, ought naturally to be expected from the publishing of these notions, if people were to be made better by any thing that could be said to them; but mankind having for so many ages remained still the same, notwithstanding the many instructive and elaborate writings, by which their amendment has been endeavoured, I am not so vain as to hope for better success from so inconsiderable a trifle.

Having allowed the small advantage this little whim is likely to produce, I think myself obliged to show that it cannot be prejudicial to any; for what is published, if it does no good, ought at least to do no harm: in order to this, I have made some explanatory notes, to which the reader will find himself referred in those passages that seem to be most liable to exceptions.

The censorious, that never saw the Grumbling Hive, will tell me, that whatever I may talk of the Fable, it not taking up a tenth part of the book, was only contrived to introduce the Remarks; that instead of clearing up the doubtful or obscure places, I have only pitched upon such as I had a mind to expatiate upon; and that far from striving to extenuate the errors committed before, I have made bad worse, and shown myself a more barefaced champion for vice, in the rambling digressions, than I had done in the Fable itself.

I shall spend no time in answering these accusations: where men are prejudiced, the best apologies are lost; and I know that those who think it criminal to suppose a necessity of [viii]vice in any case whatever, will never be reconciled to any part of the performance; but if this be thoroughly examined, all the offence it can give must result from the wrong inferences that may perhaps be drawn from it, and which I desire nobody to make. When I assert that vices are inseparable from great and potent societies, and that it is impossible their wealth and grandeur should subsist without, I do not say that the particular members of them who are guilty of any should not be continually reproved, or not be punished for them when they grow into crimes.

There are, I believe, few people in London, of those that are at any time forced to go a-foot, but what could wish the streets of it much cleaner than generally they are; while they regard nothing but their own clothes and private conveniency; but when once they come to consider, that what offends them, is the result of the plenty, great traffic, and opulency of that mighty city, if they have any concern in its welfare, they will hardly ever wish to see the streets of it less dirty. For if we mind the materials of all sorts that must supply such an infinite number of trades and handicrafts, as are always going forward; the vast quantity of victuals, drink, and fuel, that are daily consumed in it; the waste and superfluities that must be produced from them; the multitudes of horses, and other cattle, that are always dawbing the streets; the carts, coaches, and more heavy carriages that are perpetually wearing and breaking the pavement of them; and, above all, the numberless swarms of people that are continually harassing and trampling through every part of them: If, I say, we mind all these, we shall find, that every moment must produce new filth; and, considering how far distant the great streets are from the river side, what cost and care soever be bestowed to remove the nastiness almost as fast as it is made, it is impossible London should be more cleanly before it is less flourishing. Now would I ask, if a good citizen, in consideration of what has been said, might not assert, that dirty streets are a necessary evil, inseparable from the felicity of London, without being the least hinderance to the cleaning of shoes, or sweeping of streets, and consequently without any prejudice either to the blackguard or the scavingers.

But if, without any regard to the interest or happiness of the city, the question was put, What place I thought most pleasant to walk in? Nobody can doubt, but before the [ix]stinking streets of London, I would esteem a fragrant garden, or a shady grove in the country. In the same manner, if laying aside all worldly greatness and vain glory, I should be asked where I thought it was most probable that men might enjoy true happiness, I would prefer a small peaceable society, in which men, neither envied nor esteemed by neighbours, should be contented to live upon the natural product of the spot they inhabit, to a vast multitude abounding in wealth and power, that should always be conquering others by their arms abroad, and debauching themselves by foreign luxury at home.

Thus much I had said to the reader in the first edition; and have added nothing by way of preface in the second. But since that, a violent outcry has been made against the book, exactly answering the expectation I always had of the justice, the wisdom, the charity, and fair-dealing of those whose good will I despaired of. It has been presented by the Grand Jury, and condemned by thousands who never saw a word of it. It has been preached against before my Lord Mayor; and an utter refutation of it is daily expected from a reverend divine, who has called me names in the advertisements, and threatened to answer me in two months time for above five months together. What I have to say for myself, the reader will see in my Vindication at the end of the book, where he will likewise find the Grand Jury’s Presentment, and a letter to the Right Honourable Lord C. which is very rhetorical beyond argument or connection. The author shows a fine talent for invectives, and great sagacity in discovering atheism, where others can find none. He is zealous against wicked books, points at the Fable of the Bees, and is very angry with the author: He bestows four strong epithets on the enormity of his guilt, and by several elegant innuendos to the multitude, as the danger there is in suffering such authors to live, and the vengeance of Heaven upon a whole nation, very charitably recommends him to their care.

Considering the length of this epistle, and that it is not wholly levelled at me only, I thought at first to have made some extracts from it of what related to myself; but finding, on a nearer inquiry, that what concerned me was so blended and interwoven with what did not, I was obliged to trouble the reader with it entire, not without hopes that, prolix as it is, the extravagancy of it will be entertaining to those who have perused the treatise it condemns with so much horror. [1]

1 This was wrote in 1714. 



A spacious hive well stock’d with bees,

That liv’d in luxury and ease;

And yet as fam’d for laws and arms,

As yielding large and early swarms;

Was counted the great nursery 5

Of sciences and industry.

No bees had better government,

More fickleness, or less content:

They were not slaves to tyranny.

Nor rul’d by wild democracy; 10

But kings, that could not wrong, because

Their power was circumscrib’d by laws.

These insects liv’d like men, and all

Our actions they performed in small:

They did whatever’s done in town, 15

And what belongs to sword or gown:

Though th’ artful works, by nimble slight

Of minute limbs, ’scap’d human sight;

Yet we’ve no engines, labourers,

Ships, castles, arms, artificers, 20

Craft, science, shop, or instrument,

But they had an equivalent:

Which, since their language is unknown,

Must be call’d, as we do our own.

As grant, that among other things, 25

They wanted dice, yet they had kings;

And those had guards; from whence we may

Justly conclude, they had some play; [2]

Unless a regiment be shown

Of soldiers, that make use of none. 30

Vast numbers throng’d the fruitful hive;

Yet those vast numbers made ’em thrive;

Millions endeavouring to supply

Each other’s lust and vanity;

While other millions were employ’d, 35

To see their handy-works destroy’d;

They furnish’d half the universe;

Yet had more work than labourers.

Some with vast flocks, and little pains,

Jump’d into business of great gains; 40

And some were damn’d to scythes and spades,

And all those hard laborious trades;

Where willing wretches daily sweat,

And wear out strength and limbs to eat:

While others follow’d mysteries, 45

To which few folks binds ’prentices;

That want no stock, but that of brass,

And may set up without a cross;

As sharpers, parasites, pimps, players,

Pickpockets, coiners, quacks, soothsayers, 50

And all those, that in enmity,

With downright working, cunningly

Convert to their own use the labour

Of their good-natur’d heedless neighbour.

These were call’d Knaves, but bar the name, 55

The grave industrious were the same:

All trades and places knew some cheat,

No calling was without deceit.

The lawyers, of whose art the basis

Was raising feuds and splitting cases, 60

Oppos’d all registers, that cheats

Might make more work with dipt estates;

As were’t unlawful, that one’s own,

Without a law-suit, should be known.

They kept off hearings wilfully, 65

To finger the refreshing fee;

And to defend a wicked cause,

Examin’d and survey’d the laws,

As burglar’s shops and houses do,

To find out where they’d best break through. 70 [3]

Physicians valu’d fame and wealth

Above the drooping patient’s health,

Or their own skill: the greatest part

Study’d, instead of rules of art,

Grave pensive looks and dull behaviour, 75

To gain th’ apothecary’s favour;

The praise of midwives, priests, and all

That serv’d at birth or funeral.

To bear with th’ ever-talking tribe,

And hear my lady’s aunt prescribe; 80

With formal smile, and kind how d’ye,

To fawn on all the family;

And, which of all the greatest curse is,

T’ endure th’ impertinence of nurses.

Among the many priests of Jove, 85

Hir’d to draw blessings from above,

Some few were learn’d and eloquent,

But thousands hot and ignorant:

Yet all pass’d muster that could hide

Their sloth, lust, avarice and pride; 90

For which they were as fam’d as tailors

For cabbage, or for brandy sailors,

Some, meagre-look’d, and meanly clad,

Would mystically pray for bread,

Meaning by that an ample store, 95

Yet lit’rally received no more;

And, while these holy drudges starv’d,

The lazy ones, for which they serv’d,

Indulg’d their ease, with all the graces

Of health and plenty in their faces. 100

The soldiers, that were forc’d to fight,

If they surviv’d, got honour by’t;

Though some, that shunn’d the bloody fray,

Had limbs shot off, that ran away:

Some valiant gen’rals fought the foe; 105

Others took bribes to let them go:

Some ventur’d always where ’twas warm,

Lost now a leg, and then an arm;

Till quite disabled, and put by,

They liv’d on half their salary; 110

While others never came in play,

And staid at home for double pay. [4]

Their kings were serv’d, but knavishly,

Cheated by their own ministry;

Many, that for their welfare slaved, 115

Robbing the very crown they saved:

Pensions were small, and they liv’d high,

Yet boasted of their honesty.

Calling, whene’er they strain’d their right,

The slipp’ry trick a perquisite; 120

And when folks understood their cant,

They chang’d that for emolument;

Unwilling to be short or plain,

In any thing concerning gain;

For there was not a bee but would 125

Get more, I won’t say, than he should;

But than he dar’d to let them know,

That pay’d for’t; as your gamesters do,

That, though at fair play, ne’er will own

Before the losers that they’ve won. 130

But who can all their frauds repeat?

The very stuff which in the street

They sold for dirt t’ enrich the ground,

Was often by the buyers found

Sophisticated with a quarter 135

Of good-for-nothing stones and mortar;

Though Flail had little cause to mutter.

Who sold the other salt for butter.

Justice herself, fam’d for fair dealing,

By blindness had not lost her feeling; 140

Her left hand, which the scales should hold,

Had often dropt ’em, brib’d with gold;

And, though she seem’d impartial,

Where punishment was corporal,

Pretended to a reg’lar course, 145

In murder, and all crimes of force;

Though some first pillory’d for cheating,

Were hang’d in hemp of their own beating;

Yet, it was thought, the sword she bore

Check’d but the desp’rate and the poor; 150

That, urg’d by mere necessity,

Were ty’d up to the wretched tree

For crimes, which not deserv’d that fate,

But to secure the rich and great. [5]

Thus every part was full of vice, 155

Yet the whole mass a paradise;

Flatter’d in peace, and fear’d in wars

They were th’ esteem of foreigners,

And lavish of their wealth and lives,

The balance of all other hives. 160

Such were the blessings of that state;

Their crimes conspir’d to make them great:

And virtue, who from politics

Has learn’d a thousand cunning tricks,

Was, by their happy influence, 165

Made friends with vice: And ever since,

The worst of all the multitude

Did something for the common good.

This was the state’s craft, that maintain’d

The whole of which each part complain’d: 170

This, as in music harmony

Made jarrings in the main agree,

Parties directly opposite,

Assist each other, as ’twere for spite;

And temp’rance with sobriety, 175

Serve drunkenness and gluttony.

The root of evil, avarice,

That damn’d ill-natur’d baneful vice,

Was slave to prodigality,

That noble sin; whilst luxury 180

Employ’d a million of the poor,

And odious pride a million more:

Envy itself, and vanity,

Were ministers of industry;

Their darling folly, fickleness, 185

In diet, furniture, and dress,

That strange ridic’lous vice, was made

The very wheel that turn’d the trade.

Their laws and clothes were equally

Objects of mutability! 190

For, what was well done for a time,

In half a year became a crime;

Yet while they altered thus their laws,

Still finding and correcting flaws,

They mended by inconstancy 195

Faults, which no prudence could foresee. [6]

Thus vice nurs’d ingenuity,

Which join’d the time and industry,

Had carry’d life’s conveniences,

Its real pleasures, comforts, ease, 200

To such a height, the very poor }

Liv’d better than the rich before.

And nothing could be added more.

How vain is mortal happiness!

Had they but known the bounds of bliss; 205

And that perfection here below

Is more than gods can well bestow;

The grumbling brutes had been content

With ministers and government.

But they, at every ill success, 210

Like creatures lost without redress,

Curs’d politicians, armies, fleets;

While every one cry’d, damn the cheats,

And would, though conscious of his own,

In others barb’rously bear none. 215

One, that had got a princely store,

By cheating master, king, and poor,

Dar’d cry aloud, the land must sink

For all its fraud; and whom d’ye think

The sermonizing rascal chid? 220

A glover that sold lamb for kid.

The least thing was not done amiss,

Or cross’d the public business;

But all the rogues cry’d brazenly,

Good gods, had we but honesty! 225

Merc’ry smil’d at th’ impudence,

And others call’d it want of sense,

Always to rail at what they lov’d:

But Jove with indignation mov’d,

At last in anger swore, he’d rid 230

The bawling hive of fraud; and did.

The very moment it departs,

And honesty fills all their hearts;

There shows ’em, like th’ instructive tree,

Those crimes which they’re asham’d to see; 235

Which now in silence they confess,

By blushing at their ugliness: [7]

Like children, that would hide their faults,

And by their colour own their thoughts:

Imag’ning, when they’re look’d upon, 240

That others see what they have done.

But, O ye gods! what consternation,

How vast and sudden was th’ alteration!

In half an hour, the nation round,

Meat fell a penny in the pound. 245

The mask hypocrisy’s sitting down,

From the great statesman to the clown:

And in some borrow’d looks well known,

Appear’d like strangers in their own.

The bar was silent from that day; 250

For now the willing debtors pay,

Ev’n what’s by creditors forgot;

Who quitted them that had it not.

Those that were in the wrong, stood mute,

And dropt the patch’d vexatious suit: 255

On which since nothing else can thrive,

Than lawyers in an honest hive,

All, except those that got enough,

With inkhorns by their sides troop’d off.

Justice hang’d some, set others free; 260

And after gaol delivery,

Her presence being no more requir’d,

With all her train and pomp retir’d.

First march’d some smiths with locks and grates,

Fetters, and doors with iron plates: 265

Next gaolers, turnkeys and assistants:

Before the goddess, at some distance,

Her chief and faithful minister,

’Squire Catch, the law’s great finisher,

Bore not th’ imaginary sword, 270

But his own tools, an ax and cord:

Then on a cloud the hood-wink’d fair,

Justice herself was push’d by air:

About her chariot, and behind,

Were serjeants, bums of every kind, 275

Tip-staffs, and all those officers,

That squeeze a living out of tears.

Though physic liv’d, while folks were ill,

None would prescribe, but bees of skill, [8]

Which through the hive dispers’d so wide, 280

That none of them had need to ride;

Wav’d vain disputes, and strove to free

The patients of their misery;

Left drugs in cheating countries grown,

And us’d the product of their own; 285

Knowing the gods sent no disease,

To nations without remedies.

Their clergy rous’d from laziness,

Laid not their charge on journey-bees;

But serv’d themselves, exempt from vice, 290

The gods with pray’r and sacrifice;

All those, that were unfit, or knew,

Their service might be spar’d, withdrew:

Nor was their business for so many,

(If th’ honest stand in need of any,) 295

Few only with the high-priest staid,

To whom the rest obedience paid:

Himself employ’d in holy cares;

Resign’d to others state-affairs.

He chas’d no starv’ling from his door, 300

Nor pinch’d the wages of the poor:

But at his house the hungry’s fed, }

The hireling finds unmeasur’d bread,

The needy trav’ller board and bed.

Among the king’s great ministers, 305

And all th’ inferior officers,

The change was great; for frugally

They now liv’d on their salary:

That a poor bee should ten times come

To ask his due, a trifling sum, 310

And by some well-hir’d clerk be made

To give a crown, or ne’er be paid,

Would now be call’d a downright cheat,

Though formerly a perquisite.

All places manag’d first by three, 315

Who watch’d each other’s knavery

And often for a fellow-feeling,

Promoted one another’s stealing,

Are happily supply’d by one,

By which some thousands more are gone. 320

No honour now could be content,

To live and owe for what was spent; [9]

Liv’ries in brokers shops are hung,

They part with coaches for a song;

Sell stately horses by whole sets; 325

And country-houses, to pay debts.

Vain cost is shunn’d as much as fraud;

They have no forces kept abroad;

Laugh at th’ esteem of foreigners,

And empty glory got by wars; 330

They fight but for their country’s sake,

When right or liberty’s at stake.

Now mind the glorious hive, and see

How honesty and trade agree.

The show is gone, it thins apace; 335

And looks with quite another face.

For ’twas not only that they went,

By whom vast sums were yearly spent;

But multitudes that liv’d on them,

Were daily forc’d to do the same. 340

In vain to other trades they’d fly;

All were o’er-stock’d accordingly.

The price of land and houses falls;

Mirac’lous palaces, whose walls,

Like those of Thebes, were rais’d by play, 345

Are to be let; while the once gay,

Well-seated household gods would be

More pleas’d to expire in flames, than see

The mean inscription on the door

Smile at the lofty ones they bore. 350

The building trade is quite destroy’d,

Artificers are not employ’d;

No limner for his art is fam’d,

Stone-cutters, carvers are not nam’d.

Those, that remain’d, grown temp’rate, strive, 355

Not how to spend, but how to live;

And, when they paid their tavern score,

Resolv’d to enter it no more:

No vintner’s jilt in all the hive

Could wear now cloth of gold, and thrive; 360

Nor Torcol such vast sums advance,

For Burgundy and Ortolans;

The courtier’s gone that with his miss

Supp’d at his house on Christmas peas; [10]

Spending as much in two hours stay, 365

As keeps a troop of horse a day.

The haughty Chloe, to live great,

Had made her husband rob the state:

But now she sells her furniture,

Which th’ Indies had been ransack’d for; 370

Contracts the expensive bill of fare,

And wears her strong suit a whole year:

The slight and fickle age is past;

And clothes, as well as fashions, last.

Weavers, that join’d rich silk with plate, 375

And all the trades subordinate,

Are gone; still peace and plenty reign,

And every thing is cheap, though plain:

Kind nature, free from gard’ners force,

Allows all fruits in her own course; 380

But rarities cannot be had,

Where pains to get them are not paid.

As pride and luxury decrease,

So by degrees they leave the seas.

Not merchants now, but companies 385

Remove whole manufactories.

All arts and crafts neglected lie;

Content, the bane of industry,

Makes ’em admire their homely store,

And neither seek nor covet more. 390

So few in the vast hive remain,

The hundredth part they can’t maintain

Against th’ insults of numerous foes;

Whom yet they valiantly oppose:

’Till some well fenc’d retreat is found, 395

And here they die or stand their ground.

No hireling in their army’s known;

But bravely fighting for their own,

Their courage and integrity

At last were crown’d with victory. 400

They triumph’d not without their cost,

For many thousand bees were lost.

Harden’d with toils and exercise,

They counted ease itself a vice;

Which so improv’d their temperance; 405

That, to avoid extravagance, [11]

They flew into a hollow tree,

Blest with content and honesty.



Then leave complaints: fools only strive

To make a great an honest hive. 410

T’ enjoy the world’s conveniences,

Be fam’d in war, yet live in ease,

Without great vices, is a vain

Eutopia seated in the brain.

Fraud, luxury, and pride must live, 415

While we the benefits receive:

Hunger’s a dreadful plague, no doubt,

Yet who digests or thrives without?

Do we not owe the growth of wine

To the dry shabby crooked vine? 420

Which, while its shoots neglected stood,

Chok’d other plants, and ran to wood;

But blest us with its noble fruit,

As soon as it was ty’d and cut:

So vice is beneficial found, 425

When it’s by justice lopp’d and bound;

Nay, where the people would be great, }

As necessary to the state,

As hunger is to make ’em eat.

Bare virtue can’t make nations live 430

In splendor; they, that would revive

A golden age, must be as free,

For acorns as for honesty. 433




One of the greatest reasons why so few people understand themselves, is, that most writers are always teaching men what they should be, and hardly ever trouble their heads with telling them what they really are. As for my part, without any compliment to the courteous reader, or myself, I believe man (besides skin, flesh, bones, &c. that are obvious to the eye) to be a compound of various passions; that all of them, as they are provoked and come uppermost, govern him by turns, whether he will or no. To show that these qualifications, which we all pretend to be ashamed of, are the great support of a flourishing society, has been the subject of the foregoing poem. But there being some passages in it seemingly paradoxical, I have in the preface promised some explanatory remarks on it; which, to render more useful, I have thought fit to inquire, how man, no better qualified, might yet by his own imperfections be taught to distinguish between virtue and vice: and here I must desire the reader once for all to take notice, that when I say men, I mean neither Jews nor Christians; but mere man, in the state of nature and ignorance of the true Deity. [13]



All untaught animals are only solicitous of pleasing themselves, and naturally follow the bent of their own inclinations, without considering the good or harm that, from their being pleased, will accrue to others. This is the reason that, in the wild state of nature, those creatures are fittest to live peaceably together in great numbers, that discover the least of understanding, and have the fewest appetites to gratify; and consequently no species of animals is, without the curb of government, less capable of agreeing long together in multitudes, than that of man; yet such are his qualities, whether good or bad I shall not determine, that no creature besides himself can ever be made sociable: but being an extraordinary selfish and headstrong, as well as cunning animal, however he may be subdued by superior strength, it is impossible by force alone to make him tractable, and receive the improvements he is capable of.

The chief thing, therefore, which lawgivers, and other wise men that have laboured for the establishment of society, have endeavoured, has been to make the people they were to govern, believe, that it was more beneficial for every body to conquer than indulge his appetites, and much better to mind the public than what seemed his private interest. As this has always been a very difficult task, so no wit or eloquence has been left untried to compass it; and the moralists and philosophers of all ages employed their utmost skill to prove the truth of so useful an assertion. But whether mankind would have ever believed it or not, it is not likely that any body could have persuaded them to disapprove of their natural inclinations, or prefer the good of others to their own, if, at the same time, he had not showed them an equivalent to be enjoyed as a reward for the violence, which, by so doing, they of necessity must commit upon themselves. Those that have undertaken to civilize mankind, were not ignorant of this; but being unable to give so many real rewards [14]as would satisfy all persons for every individual action, they were forced to contrive an imaginary one, that, as a general equivalent for the trouble of self-denial, should serve on all occasions, and without costing any thing either to themselves or others, be yet a most acceptable recompence to the receivers.

They thoroughly examined all the strength and frailties of our nature, and observing that none were either so savage as not to be charmed with praise, or so despicable as patiently to bear contempt, justly concluded, that flattery must be the most powerful argument that could be used to human creatures. Making use of this bewitching engine, they extolled the excellency of our nature above other animals, and setting forth with unbounded praises the wonders of our sagacity and vastness of understanding, bestowed a thousand encomiums on the rationality of our souls, by the help of which we were capable of performing the most noble achievements. Having, by this artful way of flattery, insinuated themselves into the hearts of men, they began to instruct them in the notions of honour and shame; representing the one as the worst of all evils, and the other as the highest good to which mortals could aspire: which being done, they laid before them how unbecoming it was the dignity of such sublime creatures to be solicitous about gratifying those appetites, which they had in common with brutes, and at the same time unmindful of those higher qualities that gave them the pre-eminence over all visible beings. They indeed confessed, that those impulses of nature were very pressing; that it was troublesome to resist, and very difficult wholly to subdue them. But this they only used as an argument to demonstrate, how glorious the conquest of them was on the one hand, and how scandalous on the other not to attempt it.

To introduce, moreover, an emulation amongst men, they divided the whole species into two classes, vastly differing from one another: the one consisted of abject, low-minded people, that always hunting after immediate enjoyment, were wholly incapable of self-denial, and without regard to the good of others, had no higher aim than their private advantage; such as being enslaved by voluptuousness, yielded without resistance to every gross desire, and make no use of their rational faculties but to heighten their sensual pleasure. These wild grovelling wretches, they said, were the dross of their kind, and having only the shape of men, differed from [15]brutes in nothing but their outward figure. But the other class was made up of lofty high-spirited creatures, that, free from sordid selfishness, esteemed the improvements of the mind to be their fairest possessions; and, setting a true value upon themselves, took no delight but in embellishing that part in which their excellency consisted; such as despising whatever they had in common with irrational creatures, opposed by the help of reason their most violent inclinations; and making a continual war with themselves, to promote the peace of others, aimed at no less than the public welfare, and the conquest of their own passion.

Fortior est qui se quàm qui fortissima Vincit

Mœnia —— ——

These they called the true representatives of their sublime species, exceeding in worth the first class by more degrees, than that itself was superior to the beasts of the field.

As in all animals that are not too imperfect to discover pride, we find, that the finest, and such as are the most beautiful and valuable of their kind, have generally the greatest share of it; so in man, the most perfect of animals, it is so inseparable from his very essence (how cunningly soever some may learn to hide or disguise it), that without it the compound he is made of would want one of the chiefest ingredients: which, if we consider, it is hardly to be doubted but lessons and remonstrances, so skilfully adapted to the good opinion man has of himself, as those I have mentioned, must, if scattered amongst a multitude, not only gain the assent of most of them, as to the speculative part, but likewise induce several, especially the fiercest, most resolute, and best among them, to endure a thousand inconveniences, and undergo as many hardships, that they may have the pleasure of counting themselves men of the second class, and consequently appropriating to themselves all the excellencies they have heard of it.

From what has been said, we ought to expect, in the first place, that the heroes who took such extraordinary pains to master some of their natural appetites, and preferred the good of others to any visible interest of their own, would not recede an inch from the fine notions they had received concerning the dignity of rational creatures; and having ever the authority of the government on their side, with all imaginable vigour assert the esteem that was due to those of the [16]second class, as well as their superiority over the rest of their kind. In the second, that those who wanted a sufficient stock of either pride or resolution, to buoy them up in mortifying of what was dearest to them, followed the sensual dictates of nature, would yet be ashamed of confessing themselves to be those despicable wretches that belonged to the inferior class, and were generally reckoned to be so little removed from brutes; and that therefore, in their own defence, they would say, as others did, and hiding their own imperfections as well as they could, cry up self-denial and public spiritedness as much as any: for it is highly probable, that some of them, convinced by the real proofs of fortitude and self-conquest they had seen, would admire in others what they found wanting in themselves; others be afraid of the resolution and prowess of those of the second class, and that all of them were kept in awe by the power of their rulers; wherefore is it reasonable to think, that none of them (whatever they thought in themselves) would dare openly contradict, what by every body else was thought criminal to doubt of.

This was (or at least might have been) the manner after which savage man was broke; from whence it is evident, that the first rudiments of morality, broached by skilful politicians, to render men useful to each other, as well as tractable, were chiefly contrived, that the ambitious might reap the more benefit from, and govern vast numbers of them with the greater ease and security. This foundation of politics being once laid, it is impossible that man should long remain uncivilized: for even those who only strove to gratify their appetites, being continually crossed by others of the same stamp, could not but observe, that whenever they checked their inclinations or but followed them with more circumspection, they avoided a world of troubles, and often escaped many of the calamities that generally attended the too eager pursuit after pleasure.

First, they received, as well as others, the benefit of those actions that were done for the good of the whole society, and consequently could not forbear wishing well to those of the superior class that performed them. Secondly, the more intent they were in seeking their own advantage, without regard to others, the more they were hourly convinced, that none stood so much in their way as those that were most like themselves. [17]

It being the interest then of the very worst of them, more than any, to preach up public-spiritedness, that they might reap the fruits of the labour and self-denial of others, and at the same time indulge their own appetites with less disturbance, they agreed with the rest, to call every thing, which, without regard to the public, man should commit to gratify any of his appetites, vice; if in that action there could be observed the least prospect, that it might either be injurious to any of the society, or ever render himself less serviceable to others: and to give the name of virtue to every performance, by which man, contrary to the impulse of nature, should endeavour the benefit of others, or the conquest of his own passions, out of a rational ambition of being good.

It shall be objected, that no society was ever any ways civilized before the major part had agreed upon some worship or other of an over-ruling power, and consequently that the notions of good and evil, and the distinction between virtue and vice, were never the contrivance of politicians, but the pure effect of religion. Before I answer this objection, I must repeat what I have said already, that in this inquiry into the origin of moral virtue, I speak neither of Jews or Christians, but man in his state of nature and ignorance of the true Deity; and then I affirm, that the idolatrous superstitions of all other nations, and the pitiful notions they had of the Supreme Being, were incapable of exciting man to virtue, and good for nothing but to awe and amuse a rude and unthinking multitude. It is evident from history, that in all considerable societies, how stupid or ridiculous soever people’s received notions have been, as to the deities they worshipped, human nature has ever exerted itself in all its branches, and that there is no earthly wisdom or moral virtue, but at one time or other men have excelled in it in all monarchies and commonwealths, that for riches and power have been any ways remarkable.

The Egyptians, not satisfied with having deified all the ugly monsters they could think on, were so silly as to adore the onions of their own sowing; yet at the same time their country was the most famous nursery of arts and sciences in the world, and themselves more eminently skilled in the deepest mysteries of nature than any nation has been since.

No states or kingdoms under heaven have yielded more or greater patterns in all sorts of moral virtues, than the Greek [18]and Roman empires, more especially the latter; and yet how loose, absurd and ridiculous were their sentiments as to sacred matters? For without reflecting on the extravagant number of their deities, if we only consider the infamous stories they fathered upon them, it is not to be denied but that their religion, far from teaching men the conquest of their passions, and the way to virtue, seemed rather contrived to justify their appetites, and encourage their vices. But if we would know what made them excel in fortitude, courage, and magnanimity, we must cast our eyes on the pomp of their triumphs, the magnificence of their monuments and arches; their trophies, statues, and inscriptions; the variety of their military crowns, their honours decreed to the dead, public encomiums on the living, and other imaginary rewards they bestowed on men of merit; and we shall find, that what carried so many of them to the utmost pitch of self-denial, was nothing but their policy in making use of the most effectual means that human pride could be flattered with.

It is visible, then, that it was not any heathen religion, or other idolatrous superstition, that first put man upon crossing his appetites and subduing his dearest inclinations, but the skilful management of wary politicians; and the nearer we search into human nature, the more we shall be convinced, that the moral virtues are the political offspring which flattery begot upon pride.

There is no man, of what capacity or penetration soever, that is wholly proof against the witchcraft of flattery, if artfully performed, and suited to his abilities. Children and fools will swallow personal praise, but those that are more cunning, must be managed with much greater circumspection; and the more general the flattery is, the less it is suspected by those it is levelled at. What you say in commendation of a whole town is received with pleasure by all the inhabitants: speak in commendation of letters in general, and every man of learning will think himself in particular obliged to you. You may safely praise the employment a man is of, or the country he was born in; because you give him an opportunity of screening the joy he feels upon his own account, under the esteem which he pretends to have for others.

It is common among cunning men, that understand the power which flattery has upon pride, when they are afraid they shall be imposed upon, to enlarge, though much against [19]their conscience, upon the honour, fair dealing, and integrity of the family, country, or sometimes the profession of him they suspect; because they know that men often will change their resolution, and act against their inclination, that they may have the pleasure of continuing to appear in the opinion of some, what they are conscious not to be in reality. Thus sagacious moralists draw men like angels, in hopes that the pride at least of some will put them upon copying after the beautiful originals which they are represented to be.

When the incomparable Sir Richard Steele, in the usual elegance of his easy style, dwells on the praises of his sublime species, and with all the embellishments of rhetoric, sets forth the excellency of human nature, it is impossible not to be charmed with his happy turns of thought, and the politeness of his expressions. But though I have been often moved by the force of his eloquence, and ready to swallow the ingenious sophistry with pleasure, yet I could, never be so serious, but, reflecting on his artful encomiums, I thought on the tricks made use of by the women that would teach children to be mannerly. When an awkward girl before she can either speak or go, begins after many entreaties to make the first rude essays of curtseying, the nurse falls in an ecstacy of praise; “There is a delicate curtsey! O fine Miss! there is a pretty lady! Mamma! Miss can make a better curtsey than her sister Molly!” The same is echoed over by the maids, whilst Mamma almost hugs the child to pieces; only Miss Molly, who being four years older, knows how to make a very handsome curtsey, wonders at the perverseness of their judgment, and swelling with indignation, is ready to cry at the injustice that is done her, till, being whispered in the ear that it is only to please the baby, and that she is a woman, she grows proud at being let into the secret, and rejoicing at the superiority of her understanding, repeats what has been said with large additions, and insults over the weakness of her sister, whom all this while she fancies to be the only bubble among them. These extravagant praises would by any one, above the capacity of an infant, be called fulsome flatteries, and, if you will, abominable lies; yet experience teaches us, that by the help of such gross encomiums, young misses will be brought to make pretty curtesies, and behave themselves womanly much sooner, and with less trouble, than they would without them. It is the same with boys, whom they will strive to persuade, that all fine gentlemen do as they are [20]bid, and that none but beggar boys are rude, or dirty their clothes; nay, as soon as the wild brat with his untaught fist begins to fumble for his hat, the mother, to make him pull it off, tells him before he is two years old, that he is a man; and if he repeats that action when she desires him, he is presently a captain, a lord mayor, a king, or something higher if she can think of it, till edged on by the force of praise, the little urchin endeavours to imitate man as well as he can, and strains all his faculties to appear what his shallow noddle imagines he is believed to be.

The meanest wretch puts an inestimable value upon himself, and the highest wish of the ambitious man is to have all the world, as to that particular, of his opinion: so that the most insatiable thirst after fame that ever heroe was inspired with, was never more than an ungovernable greediness to engross the esteem and admiration of others in future ages as well as his own; and (what mortification soever this truth might be to the second thoughts of an Alexander or a Cæsar) the great recompense in view, for which the most exalted minds have with so much alacrity sacrificed their quiet, health, sensual pleasures, and every inch of themselves, has never been any thing else but the breath of man, the aerial coin of praise. Who can forbear laughing when he thinks on all the great men that have been so serious on the subject of that Macedonian madman, his capacious soul, that mighty heart, in one corner of which, according to Lorenzo Gratian, the world was so commodiously lodged, that in the whole there was room for six more? Who can forbear laughing, I say, when he compares the fine things that have been said of Alexander, with the end he proposed to himself from his vast exploits, to be proved from his own mouth; when the vast pains he took to pass the Hydaspes forced him to cry out? Oh ye Athenians, could you believe what dangers I expose myself to, to be praised by you! To define then, the reward of glory in the amplest manner, the most that can be said of it, is, that it consists in a superlative felicity which a man, who is conscious of having performed a noble action, enjoys in self-love, whilst he is thinking on the applause he expects of others.

But here I shall be told, that besides the noisy toils of war and public bustle of the ambitious, there are noble and generous actions that are performed in silence; that virtue being its own reward, those who are really good, have a satisfaction [21]in their consciousness of being so, which is all the recompence they expect from the most worthy performances; that among the heathens there have been men, who, when they did good to others, were so far from coveting thanks and applause, that they took all imaginable care to be for ever concealed from those on whom they bestowed their benefits, and consequently that pride has no hand in spurring man on to the highest pitch of self-denial.

In answer to this, I say, that it is impossible to judge of a man’s performance, unless we are thoroughly acquainted with the principle and motive from which he acts. Pity, though it is the most gentle and the least mischievous of all our passions, is yet as much a frailty of our nature, as anger, pride, or fear. The weakest minds have generally the greatest share of it, for which reason none are more compassionate than women and children. It must be owned, that of all our weaknesses, it is the most amiable, and bears the greatest resemblance to virtue; nay, without a considerable mixture of it, the society could hardly subsist: but as it is an impulse of nature, that consults neither the public interest nor our own reason, it may produce evil as well as good. It has helped to destroy the honour of virgins, and corrupted the integrity of judges; and whoever acts from it as a principle, what good soever he may bring to the society, has nothing to boast of, but that he has indulged a passion that has happened to be beneficial to the public. There is no merit in saving an innocent babe ready to drop into the fire: the action is neither good nor bad, and what benefit soever the infant received, we only obliged ourselves; for to have seen it fall, and not strove to hinder it, would have caused a pain, which self preservation compelled us to prevent: Nor has a rich prodigal, that happens to be of a commiserating temper, and loves to gratify his passions, greater virtue to boast of, when he relieves an object of compassion with what to himself is a trifle.

But such men, as without complying with any weakness of their own, can part from what they value themselves, and, from no other motive but there love to goodness, perform a worthy action in silence: such men, I confess, have acquired more refined notions of virtue than those I have hitherto spoke of; yet even in these (with which the world has yet never swarmed) we may discover no small symptoms of pride, and the humblest man alive must confess, that the reward of a virtuous action, which is the satisfaction that ensues upon it, [22]consists in a certain pleasure he procures to himself by contemplating on his own worth: which pleasure, together with the occasion of it, are as certain signs of pride, as looking pale and trembling at any imminent danger, are the symptoms of fear.

If the too scrupulous reader should at first view condemn these notions concerning the origin of moral virtue, and think them perhaps offensive to Christianity, I hope he will forbear his censures, when he shall consider, that nothing can render the unsearchable depth of the Divine Wisdom more conspicuous, than that man, whom Providence had designed for society, should not only by his own frailties and imperfections, be led into the road to temporal happiness, but likewise receive, from a seeming necessity of natural causes, a tincture of that knowledge, in which he was afterwards to be made perfect by the true religion, to his eternal welfare. [23]




Line 45. Whilst others follow’d mysteries,

To which few folks bind ’prentices.

In the education of youth, in order to their getting of a livelihood when they shall be arrived at maturity, most people look out for some warrantable employment or other, of which there are whole bodies or companies, in every large society of men. By this means, all arts and sciences, as well as trades and handicrafts, are perpetuated in the commonwealth, as long as they are found useful; the young ones that are daily brought up to them, continually supplying the loss of the old ones that die. But some of these employments being vastly more creditable than others, according to the great difference of the charges required to set up in each of them, all prudent parents, in the choice of them, chiefly consult their own abilities, and the circumstances they are in. A man that gives three or four hundred pounds with his son to a great merchant, and has not two or three thousand pounds to spare against he is out of his time to begin business with, is much to blame not to have brought his child up to something that might be followed with less money.

There are abundance of men of a genteel education, that have but very small revenues, and yet are forced, by their reputable callings, to make a greater figure than ordinary people of twice their income. If these have any children, it often happens, that as their indigence renders them incapable of bringing them up to creditable occupations, so their pride makes them unwilling to put them out to any of the mean laborious trades, and then, in hopes either of an alteration in their fortune, or that some friends, or favourable opportunity shall offer, they from time to time put off the disposing of them, until insensibly they come to be of age, and are at last brought up to nothing. Whether this neglect be more barbarous to the children, or prejudicial to the society, I shall not determine. At Athens all children were forced to assist their parents, if they came to want: But Solon made a law, that no son should be obliged to relieve his father, who had not bred him up to any calling.

Some parents put out their sons to good trades very suitable [24]to their then present abilities, but happen to die, or fail in the world, before their children have finished their apprenticeships, or are made fit for the business they are to follow: A great many young men again, on the other hand, are handsomely provided for and set up for themselves, that yet (some for want of industry, or else a sufficient knowledge in their callings, others by indulging their pleasures, and some few by misfortunes) are reduced to poverty, and altogether unable to maintain themselves by the business they were brought up to. It is impossible but that the neglects, mismanagements, and misfortunes I named, must very frequently happen in populous places, and consequently great numbers of people be daily flung unprovided for into the wide world, how rich and potent a commonwealth may be, or what care soever a government may take to hinder it. How must these people be disposed of? The sea, I know, and armies, which the world is seldom without, will take off some. Those that are honest drudges, and of a laborious temper, will become journeymen to the trades they are of, or enter into some other service: such of them as studied and were sent to the university, may become schoolmasters, tutors, and some few of them get into some office or other: But what must become of the lazy, that care for no manner of working, and the fickle, that hate to be confined to any thing?

Those that ever took delight in plays and romances, and have a spice of gentility, will, in all probability, throw their eyes upon the stage, and if they have a good elocution, with tolerable mien, turn actors. Some that love their bellies above any thing else, if they have a good palate, and a little knack at cookery, will strive to get in with gluttons and epicures, learn to cringe and bear all manner of usage, and so turn parasites, ever flattering the master, and making mischief among the rest of the family. Others, who by their own and companions lewdness, judge of people’s incontinence, will naturally fall to intriguing, and endeavour to live by pimping for such as either want leisure or address to speak for themselves. Those of the most abandoned principles of all, if they are sly and dexterous, turn sharpers, pick-pockets, or coiners, if their skill and ingenuity give them leave. Others again, that have observed the credulity of simple women, and other foolish people, if they have impudence and a little cunning, either set up for doctors, or else pretend to [25]tell fortunes; and every one turning the vices and frailties of others to his own advantage, endeavours to pick up a living the easiest and shortest way his talents and abilities will let him.

These are certainly the bane of civil society; but they are fools, who, not considering what has been said, storm at the remissness of the laws that suffer them to live, while wise men content themselves with taking all imaginable care not to be circumvented by them, without quarrelling at what no human prudence can prevent.


Line 55. These we call’d Knaves, but bar the name,

The grave industrious were the same.

This, I confess, is but a very indifferent compliment to all the trading part of the people. But if the word Knave may be understood in its full latitude, and comprehend every body that is not sincerely honest, and does to others what he would dislike to have done to himself, I do not question but I shall make good the charge. To pass by the innumerable artifices, by which buyers and sellers outwit one another, that are daily allowed of and practised among the fairest of dealers, show me the tradesmen that has always discovered the defects of his goods to those that cheapened them; nay, where will you find one that has not at one time or other industriously concealed them, to the detriment of the buyer? Where is the merchant that has never, against his conscience, extolled his wares beyond their worth, to make them go off the better.

Decio, a man of great figure, that had large commissions for sugar from several parts beyond sea, treats about a considerable parcel of that commodity with Alcander, an eminent West India merchant; both understood the market very well, but could not agree: Decio was a man of substance, and thought no body ought to buy cheaper than himself; Alcander was the same, and not wanting money, stood for his price. While they were driving their bargain at a tavern near the exchange, Alcander’s man brought his master a letter from the West Indies, that informed him of a much greater quantity of sugars coming for England than was expected. Alcander now wished for nothing more than to sell at Decio’s price, before the news was public; but being a cunning fox, that he might not seem too precipitant, [26]nor yet lose his customer, he drops the discourse they were upon, and putting on a jovial humour, commends the agreeableness of the weather, from whence falling upon the delight he took in his gardens, invites Decio to go along with him to his country house, that was not above twelve miles from London. It was in the month of May, and, as it happened, upon a Saturday in the afternoon: Decio, who was a single man, and would have no business in town before Tuesday, accepts of the other’s civility, and away they go in Alcander’s coach. Decio was splendidly entertained that night and the day following; the Monday morning, to get himself an appetite, he goes to take the air upon a pad of Alcander’s, and coming back meets with a gentleman of his acquaintance, who tells him news was come the night before that the Barbadoes fleet was destroyed by a storm, and adds, that before he came out it had been confirmed at Lloyd’s coffee house, where it was thought sugars would rise 25 per cent, by change-time. Decio returns to his friend, and immediately resumes the discourse they had broke off at the tavern: Alcander, who thinking himself sure of his chap, did not design to have moved it till after dinner, was very glad to see himself so happily prevented; but how desirous soever he was to sell, the other was yet more eager to buy; yet both of them afraid of one another, for a considerable time counterfeited all the indifference imaginable; until at last, Decio fired with what he had heard, thought delays might prove dangerous, and throwing a guinea upon the table, struck the bargain at Alcander’s price. The next day they went to London; the news proved true, and Decio got five hundred pounds by his sugars, Alcander, whilst he had strove to over-reach the other, was paid in his own coin: yet all this is called fair dealing; but I am sure neither of them would have desired to be done by, as they did to each other.


Line 101. The soldiers that were forc’d to fight,

If they surviv’d got honour by’t.

So unaccountable is the desire to be thought well of in men, that though they are dragged into the war against their will, and some of them for their crimes, and are compelled to fight with threats, and often blows, yet they would be esteemed for what they would have avoided, if it had been in their [27]power: whereas, if reason in man was of equal weight with his pride, he could never be pleased with praises, which he is conscious he does not deserve.

By honour, in its proper and genuine signification, we mean nothing else but the good opinion of others, which is counted more or less substantial, the more or less noise or bustle there is made about the demonstration of it; and when we say the sovereign is the fountain of honour, it signifies that he has the power, by titles or ceremonies, or both together, to stamp a mark upon whom he pleases, that shall be as current as his coin, and procure the owner the good opinion of every body, whether he deserves it or not.

The reverse of honour is dishonour, or ignominy, which consists in the bad opinion and contempt of others; and as the first is counted a reward for good actions, so this is esteemed a punishment for bad ones; and the more or less public or heinous the manner is in which this contempt of others is shown, the more or less the person so suffering is degraded by it. This ignominy is likewise called shame, from the effect it produces; for though the good and evil of honour and dishonour are imaginary, yet there is a reality in shame, as it signifies a passion, that has its proper symptoms, over-rules our reason, and requires as much labour and self-denial to be subdued, as any of the rest; and since the most important actions of life often are regulated according to the influence this passion has upon us, a thorough understanding of it must help to illustrate the notions the world has of honour and ignominy. I shall therefore describe it at large.

First, to define the passion of shame, I think it may be called a sorrowful reflection on our own unworthiness, proceeding from an apprehension that others either do, or might, if they knew all, deservedly despise us. The only objection of weight that can be raised against this definition is, that innocent virgins are often ashamed, and blush when they are guilty of no crime, and can give no manner of reason for this frailty: and that men are often ashamed for others, for, or with whom, they have neither friendship or affinity, and consequently that there may be a thousand instances of shame given, to which the words of the definition are not applicable. To answer this, I would have it first considered, that the modesty of women is the result of custom and education, by [28]which all unfashionable denudations and filthy expressions are rendered frightful and abominable to them, and that notwithstanding this, the most virtuous young woman alive will often, in spite of her teeth, have thoughts and confused ideas of things arise in her imagination, which she would not reveal to some people for a thousand worlds. Then, I say, that when obscene words are spoken in the presence of an unexperienced virgin, she is afraid that some body will reckon her to understand what they mean, and consequently that she understands this, and that, and several things, which she desires to be thought ignorant of. The reflecting on this, and that thoughts are forming to her disadvantage, brings upon her that passion which we call shame; and whatever can sting her, though never so remote from lewdness, upon that set of thoughts I hinted, and which she thinks criminal, will have the same effect, especially before men, as long as her modesty lasts.

To try the truth of this, let them talk as much bawdy as they please in the room next to the same virtuous young woman, where she is sure that she is undiscovered, and she will hear, if not hearken to it, without blushing at all, because then she looks upon herself as no party concerned; and if the discourse should stain her cheeks with red, whatever her innocence may imagine, it is certain that what occasions her colour, is a passion not half so mortifying as that of shame; but if, in the same place, she hears something said of herself that must tend to her disgrace, or any thing is named, of which she is secretly guilty, then it is ten to one but she will be ashamed and blush, though nobody sees her; because she has room to fear, that she is, or, if all was known, should be thought of contemptibly.

That we are often ashamed, and blush for others, which was the second part of the objection, is nothing else but that sometimes we make the case of others too nearly our own; so people shriek out when they see others in danger: Whilst we are reflecting with too much earnest on the effect which such a blameable action, if it was ours, would produce in us, the spirits, and consequently the blood, are insensibly moved, after the same manner as if the action was our own, and so the same symptoms must appear.

The shame that raw, ignorant, and ill-bred people, though seemingly without a cause, discover before their betters, is always accompanied with, and proceeds from a consciousness [29]of their weakness and inabilities; and the most modest man, how virtuous, knowing, and accomplished soever he might be, was never yet ashamed without some guilt or diffidence. Such as out of rusticity, and want of education are unreasonably subject to, and at every turn overcome by this passion, we call bashful; and those who out of disrespect to others, and a false opinion of their own sufficiency, have learned not to be affected with it, when they should be, are called impudent or shameless. What strange contradictions man is made of! The reverse of shame is pride, (see Remark on l. 182) yet no body can be touched with the first, that never felt any thing of the latter; for that we have such an extraordinary concern in what others think of us, can proceed from nothing but the vast esteem we have of ourselves.

That these two passions, in which the seeds of most virtues are contained, are realities in our frame, and not imaginary qualities, is demonstrable from the plain and different effects, that, in spite of our reason, are produced in us as soon as we are affected with either.

When a man is overwhelmed with shame, he observes a sinking of the spirits! the heart feels cold and condensed, and the blood flies from it to the circumference of the body; the face glows, the neck and part of the breast partake of the fire: he is heavy as lead; the head is hung down, and the eyes through a mist of confusion are fixed on the ground: no injuries can move him; he is weary of his being, and heartily wishes he could make himself invisible: but when, gratifying his vanity, he exults in his pride, he discovers quite contrary symptoms; his spirits swell and fan the arterial blood; a more than ordinary warmth strengthens and dilates the heart; the extremities are cool; he feels light to himself, and imagines he could tread on air; his head is held up, his eyes rolled about with sprightliness; he rejoices at his being, is prone to anger, and would be glad that all the world could take notice of him.

It is incredible how necessary an ingredient shame is to make us sociable; it is a frailty in our nature; all the world, whenever it affects them, submit to it with regret, and would prevent it if they could; yet the happiness of conversation depends upon it, and no society could be polished, if the generality of mankind were not subject to it. As, therefore, the sense of shame is troublesome, and all creatures are ever labouring for their own defence, it is probable, that man [30]striving to avoid this uneasiness, would, in a great measure, conquer his shame by that he was grown up; but this would be detrimental to the society, and therefore from his infancy, throughout his education, we endeavour to increase, instead of lessening or destroying this sense of shame; and the only remedy prescribed, is a strict observance of certain rules, to avoid those things that might bring this troublesome sense of shame upon him. But as to rid or cure him of it, the politician would sooner take away his life.

The rules I speak of, consist in a dextrous management of ourselves, a stifling of our appetites, and hiding the real sentiments of our hearts before others. Those who are not instructed in these rules long before they come to years of maturity, seldom make any progress in them afterwards. To acquire and bring to perfection the accomplishment I hint at, nothing is more assisting than pride and good sense. The greediness we have after the esteem of others, and the raptures we enjoy in the thoughts of being liked, and perhaps admired, are equivalents that over-pay the conquest of the strongest passions, and consequently keep us at a great distance from all such words or actions that can bring shame upon us. The passions we chiefly ought to hide, for the happiness and embellishment of the society, are lust, pride, and selfishness; therefore the word modesty has three different acceptations, that vary with the passions it conceals.

As to the first, I mean the branch of modesty, that has a general pretension to chastity for its object, it consists in a sincere and painful endeavour, with all our faculties, to stifle and conceal before others, that inclination which nature has given us to propagate our species. The lessons of it, like those of grammar, are taught us long before we have occasion for, or understand the usefulness of them; for this reason children often are ashamed, and blush out of modesty, before the impulse of nature I hint at makes any impression upon them. A girl who is modestly educated, may, before she is two years old, begin to observe how careful the women she converses with, are of covering themselves before men; and the same caution being inculcated to her by precept, as well as example, it is very probable that at six she will be ashamed of showing her leg, without knowing any reason why such an act is blameable, or what the tendency of it is.

To be modest, we ought, in the first place, to avoid all unfashionable denudations: a woman is not to be found fault [31]with for going with her neck bare, if the custom of the country allows of it; and when the mode orders the stays to be cut very low, a blooming virgin may, without fear of rational censure, show all the world:

How firm her pouting breasts, that white as snow,

On th’ ample chest at mighty distance grow.

But to suffer her ancle to be seen, where it is the fashion for women to hide their very feet, is a breach of modesty; and she is impudent, who shows half her face in a country where decency bids her to be veiled. In the second, our language must be chaste, and not only free, but remote from obscenities, that is, whatever belongs to the multiplication of our species is not to be spoke of, and the least word or expression, that, though at a great distance, has any relation to that performance, ought never to come from our lips. Thirdly, all postures and motions that can any ways sully the imagination, that is, put us in mind of what I have called obscenities, are to be forbore with great caution.

A young woman, moreover, that would be thought well-bred, ought to be circumspect before men in all her behaviour, and never known to receive from, much less to bestow favours upon them, unless the great age of the man, near consanguinity, or a vast superiority on either side, plead her excuse. A young lady of refined education keeps a strict guard over her looks, as well as actions, and in her eyes we may read a consciousness that she has a treasure about her, not out of danger of being lost, and which yet she is resolved not to part with at any terms. Thousand satires have been made against prudes, and as many encomiums to extol the careless graces, and negligent air of virtuous beauty. But the wiser sort of mankind are well assured, that the free and open countenance of the smiling fair, is more inviting, and yields greater hopes to the seducer, than the ever-watchful look of a forbidding eye.

This strict reservedness is to be complied with by all young women, especially virgins, if they value the esteem of the polite and knowing world; men may take greater liberty, because in them the appetite is more violent and ungovernable. Had equal harshness of discipline been imposed upon both, neither of them could have made the first advances, and propagation must have stood still among all the fashionable people: which being far from the politician’s aim, it was advisable [32]to ease and indulge the sex that suffered most by the severity, and make the rules abate of their rigour, where the passion was the strongest, and the burden of a strict restraint would have been the most intolerable.

For this reason, the man is allowed openly to profess the veneration and great esteem he has for women, and show greater satisfaction, more mirth and gaiety in their company, than he is used to do out of it. He may not only be complaisant and serviceable to them on all occasions, but it is reckoned his duty to protect and defend them. He may praise the good qualities they are possessed of, and extol their merit with as many exaggerations as his invention will let him, and are consistent with good sense. He may talk of love, he may sigh and complain of the rigours of the fair, and what his tongue must not utter he has the privilege to speak with his eyes, and in that language to say what he pleases; so it be done with decency, and short abrupted glances: but too closely to pursue a woman, and fasten upon her with ones eyes, is counted very unmannerly; the reason is plain, it makes her uneasy, and, if she be not sufficiently fortified by art and dissimulation, often throws her into visible disorders. As the eyes are the windows of the soul, so this staring impudence flings a raw, unexperienced woman, into panic fears, that she may be seen through; and that the man will discover, or has already betrayed, what passes within her: it keeps her on a perpetual rack, that commands her to reveal her secret wishes, and seems designed to extort from her the grand truth, which modesty bids her with all her faculties to deny.

The multitude will hardly believe the excessive force of education, and in the difference of modesty between men and women, ascribe that to nature which is altogether owing to early instruction: Miss is scarce three years old, but she is spoke to every day to hide her leg, and rebuked in good earnest if she shows it; while little Master at the same age is bid to take up his coats, and piss like a man. It is shame and education that contains the seeds of all politeness, and he that has neither, and offers to speak the truth of his heart, and what he feels within, is the most contemptible creature upon earth, though he committed no other fault. If a man should tell a woman, that he could like no body so well to propagate his species upon, as herself, and that he found a violent desire that moment to go about it, and accordingly offered to lay hold of her for that purpose; the consequence [33]would be, that he would be called a brute, the woman would run away, and himself be never admitted in any civil company. There is no body that has any sense of shame, but would conquer the strongest passion rather than be so served. But a man need not conquer his passions, it is sufficient that he conceals them. Virtue bids us subdue, but good breeding only requires we should hide our appetites. A fashionable gentleman may have as violent an inclination to a woman as the brutish fellow; but then he behaves himself quite otherwise; he first addresses the lady’s father, and demonstrates his ability splendidly to maintain his daughter; upon this he is admitted into her company, where, by flattery, submission, presents, and assiduity, he endeavours to procure her liking to his person, which if he can compass, the lady in a little while resigns herself to him before witnesses in a most solemn manner; at night they go to bed together, where the most reserved virgin very tamely suffers him to do what he pleases, and the upshot is, that he obtains what he wanted without ever having asked for it.

The next day they receive visits, and no body laughs at them, or speaks a word of what they have been doing. As to the young couple themselves, they take no more notice of one another, I speak of well-bred people, than they did the day before; they eat and drink, divert themselves as usually, and having done nothing to be ashamed of, are looked upon as, what in reality they may be, the most modest people upon earth. What I mean by this, is to demonstrate, that by being well-bred, we suffer no abridgement in our sensual pleasures, but only labour for our mutual happiness, and assist each other in the luxurious enjoyment of all worldly comforts. The fine gentleman I spoke of need not practise any greater self-denial than the savage, and the latter acted more according to the laws of nature and sincerity than the first. The man that gratifies his appetites after the manner the custom of the country allows of, has no censure to fear. If he is hotter than goats or bulls, as soon as the ceremony is over, let him sate and fatigue himself with joy and ecstacies of pleasure, raise and indulge his appetites by turns, as extravagantly as his strength and manhood will give him leave, he may with safety laugh at the wise men that should reprove him: all the women, and above nine in ten of the men are of his side; nay, he has the liberty of valuing himself upon the fury of his unbridled passion, and the more he wallows [34]in lust, and strains every faculty to be abandonedly voluptuous, the sooner he shall have the good-will and gain the affection of the women, not the young, vain, and lascivious only, but the prudent, grave, and most sober matrons.

Because impudence is a vice, it does not follow that modesty is a virtue; it is built upon shame, a passion in our nature, and may be either good or bad according to the actions performed from that motive. Shame may hinder a prostitute from yielding to a man before company, and the same shame may cause a bashful good-natured creature, that has been overcome by frailty, to make away with her infant. Passions may do good by chance, but there can be no merit but in the conquest of them.

Was there virtue in modesty, it would be of the same force in the dark as it is in the light, which it is not. This the men of pleasure know very well, who never trouble their heads with a woman’s virtue, so they can but conquer her modesty; seducers, therefore, do not make their attacks at noon-day, but cut their trenches at night.

Illa verecundis lux est præbenda puellis,

Qua timidus latebras sperat habere pudor.

People of substance may sin without being exposed for their stolen pleasure; but servants, and the poorer sort of women, have seldom the opportunity of concealing a big belly, or at least the consequences of it. It is impossible that an unfortunate girl of good parentage may be left destitute, and know no shift for a livelihood than to become a nursery, or a chambermaid: she may be diligent, faithful, and obliging, have abundance of modesty, and if you will, be religious: she may resist temptations, and preserve her chastity for years together, and yet at last meet with an unhappy moment in which she gives up her honour to a powerful deceiver, who afterwards neglects her. If she proves with child, her sorrows are unspeakable, and she cannot be reconciled with the wretchedness of her condition; the fear of shame attacks her so lively, that every thought distracts her. All the family she lives in have a great opinion of her virtue, and her last mistress took her for a saint. How will her enemies, that envied her character, rejoice! How will her relations detest her! The more modest she is now, and the more violently the dread of coming to shame hurries her away, the more wicked and more cruel her resolutions will be, either against herself or what she bears. [35]

It is commonly imagined, that she who can destroy her child, her own flesh and blood, must have a vast stock of barbarity, and be a savage monster, different from other women; but this is likewise a mistake, which we commit for the want of understanding nature and the force of passions. The same woman that murders her bastard in the most execrable manner, if she is married afterwards, may take care of, cherish, and feel all the tenderness for her infant that the fondest mother can be capable of. All mothers naturally love their children: but as this is a passion, and all passions centre in self-love, so it may be subdued by any superior passion, to sooth that same self-love, which if nothing had intervened, would have bid her fondle her offspring. Common whores, whom all the world knows to be such, hardly ever destroy their children; nay, even those who assist in robberies and murders seldom are guilty of this crime; not because they are less cruel or more virtuous, but because they have lost their modesty to a greater degree, and the fear of shame makes hardly any impression upon them.

Our love to what never was within the reach of our senses is but poor and inconsiderable, and therefore women have no natural love to what they bear; their affection begins after the birth: what they feel before is the result of reason, education, and the thoughts of duty. Even when children first are born, the mother’s love is but weak, and increases with the sensibility of the child, and grows up to a prodigious height, when by signs it begins to express his sorrows and joys, makes his wants known, and discovers his love to novelty and the multiplicity of his desires. What labours and hazards have not women undergone to maintain and save their children, what force and fortitude beyond their sex have they not shown in their behalf! but the vilest women have exerted themselves on this head as violently as the best. All are prompted to it by a natural drift and inclination, without any consideration of the injury or benefit the society receives from it. There is no merit in pleasing ourselves, and the very offspring is often irreparably ruined by the excessive fondness of parents: for though infants, for two or three years, may be the better for this indulging care of mothers, yet afterwards, if not moderated, it may totally spoil them, and many it has brought to the gallows.

If the reader thinks I have been too tedious on that branch of modesty, by the help of which we endeavour to appear [36]chaste, I shall make him amends in the brevity with which I design to treat of the remaining part, by which we would make others believe, that the esteem we have for them exceeds the value we have for ourselves, and that we have no disregard so great to any interest as we have to our own. This laudable quality is commonly known by the name of Manners and Good-breeding, and consists in a fashionable habit, acquired by precept and example, of flattering the pride and selfishness of others, and concealing our own with judgment and dexterity. This must be only understood of our commerce with our equals and superiors, and whilst we are in peace and amity with them; for our complaisance must never interfere with the rules of honour, nor the homage that is due to us from servants and others that depend upon us.

With this caution, I believe, that the definition will quadrate with every thing that can be alleged as a piece, or an example of either good-breeding or ill manners; and it will be very difficult throughout the various accidents of human life and conversation, to find out an instance of modesty or impudence that is not comprehended in, and illustrated by it, in all countries and in all ages. A man that asks considerable favours of one who is a stranger to him, without consideration, is called impudent, because he shows openly his selfishness, without having any regard to the selfishness of the other. We may see in it, likewise, the reason why a man ought to speak of his wife and children, and every thing that is dear to him, as sparing as is possible, and hardly ever of himself, especially in commendation of them. A well-bred man may be desirous, and even greedy after praise and the esteem of others, but to be praised to his face offends his modesty: the reason is this; all human creatures, before they are yet polished, receive an extraordinary pleasure in hearing themselves praised: this we are all conscious of, and therefore when we see a man openly enjoy and feast on this delight, in which we have no share, it rouses our selfishness, and immediately we begin to envy and hate him. For this reason, the well-bred man conceals his joy, and utterly denies that he feels any, and by this means consulting and soothing our selfishness, he averts that envy and hatred, which otherwise he would have justly to fear. When from our childhood we observe how those are ridiculed who calmly can hear their own praises, it is possible that we may strenuously endeavour [37]to avoid that pleasure, that in tract of time we grow uneasy at the approach of it: but this is not following the dictates of nature, but warping her by education and custom; for if the generality of mankind took no delight in being praised, there could be no modesty in refusing to hear it.

The man of manners picks not the best, but rather takes the worst out of the dish, and gets of every thing, unless it be forced upon him, always the most indifferent share. By this civility the best remains for others, which being a compliment to all that are present, every body is pleased with it: the more they love themselves, the more they are forced to approve of his behaviour, and gratitude stepping in, they are obliged almost, whether they will or not, to think favourably of him. After this manner, it is the well-bred man insinuates himself in the esteem of all the companies he comes in, and if he gets nothing else by it, the pleasure he receives in reflecting on the applause which he knows is secretly given him, is to a proud man more than an equivalent for his former self-denial, and overpays to self-love with interest, the loss it sustained in his complaisance to others.

If there are seven or eight apples or peaches among six people of ceremony, that are pretty near equal, he who is prevailed upon to choose first, will take that, which, if there be any considerable difference, a child would know to be the worst: this he does to insinuate, that he looks upon those he is with to be of superior merit, and that there is not one whom he wishes not better to than he does to himself. It is custom and a general practice that makes this modish deceit familiar to us, without being shocked at the absurdity of it; for if people had been used to speak from the sincerity of their hearts, and act according to the natural sentiments they felt within, until they were three or four and twenty, it would be impossible for them to assist at this comedy of manners, without either loud laughter or indignation; and yet it is certain, that such behaviour makes us more tolerable to one another, than we could be otherwise.

It is very advantageous to the knowledge of ourselves, to be able well to distinguish between good qualities and virtues. The bond of society exacts from every member a certain regard for others, which the highest is not exempt from in the presence of the meanest even in an empire: but when we are by ourselves, and so far removed from company, as to be beyond the reach of their senses, the words modesty and impudence [38]lose their meaning; a person may be wicked, but he cannot be immodest while he is alone, and no thought can be impudent that never was communicated to another. A man of exalted pride may so hide it, that no body shall be able to discover that he has any; and yet receive greater satisfaction from that passion than another, who indulges himself in the declaration of it before all the world. Good manners having nothing to do with virtue or religion; instead of extinguishing, they rather inflame the passions. The man of sense and education never exults more in his pride than when he hides it with the greatest dexterity; and in feasting on the applause, which he is sure all good judges will pay to his behaviour, he enjoys a pleasure altogether unknown to the short-sighted surly alderman, that shows his haughtiness glaringly in his face, pulls off his hat to nobody, and hardly deigns to speak to an inferior.

A man may carefully avoid every thing that in the eye of the world, is esteemed to be the result of pride, without mortifying himself, or making the least conquest of his passion. It is possible that he only sacrifices the insipid outward part of his pride, which none but silly ignorant people take delight in, to that part we all feel within, and which the men of the highest spirit and most exalted genius feed on with so much ecstacy in silence. The pride of great and polite men is no where more conspicuous than in the debates about ceremony and precedency, where they have an opportunity of giving their vices the appearance of virtues, and can make the world believe that it is their care, their tenderness for the dignity of their office, or the honour of their masters, what is the result of their own personal pride and vanity. This is most manifest in all negotiations of ambassadors and plenipotentiaries, and must be known by all that observe what is transacted at public treaties; and it will ever be true, that men of the best taste have no relish in their pride, as long as any mortal can find out that they are proud.


Line 125. For there was not a bee but would

Get more, I won’t say, than he should;

But than, &c.

The vast esteem we have of ourselves, and the small value we have for others, make us all very unfair judges in our own [39]cases. Few men can be persuaded that they get too much by those they sell to, how extraordinary soever their gains are, when, at the same time, there is hardly a profit so inconsiderable, but they will grudge it to those they buy from; for this reason the smallest of the seller’s advantage being the greatest persuasive to the buyer; tradesmen are generally forced to tell lies in their own defence, and invent a thousand improbable stories, rather than discover what they really get by their commodities. Some old standers, indeed, that pretend to more honesty (or what is more likely, have more pride), than their neighbours, are used to make but few words with their customers, and refuse to sell at a lower price than what they ask at first. But these are commonly cunning foxes that are above the world, and know that those who have money, get often more by being surly, than others by being obliging. The vulgar imagine they can find more sincerity in the sour looks of a grave old fellow, than there appears in the submissive air and inviting complacency of a young beginner. But this is a grand mistake; and if they are mercers, drapers, or others, that have many sorts of the same commodity, you may soon be satisfied; look upon their goods and you will find each of them have their private marks, which is a certain sign that both are equally careful in concealing the prime cost of what they sell.


Line 128. ————As your gamesters do,

That, though at fair play ne’er will own

Before the losers what they’ve won.

This being a general practice, which no body can be ignorant of, that has ever seen any play, there must be something in the make of man that is the occasion of it: but as the searching into this will seem very trifling to many, I desire the reader to skip this remark, unless he be in perfect good humour, and has nothing at all to do.

That gamesters generally endeavour to conceal their gains before the losers, seems to me to proceed from a mixture of gratitude, pity, and self-preservation. All men are naturally grateful while they receive a benefit, and what they say or do, while it affects and feels warm about them, is real, and comes from the heart; but when that is over, the returns we make generally proceed from virtue, good manners, reason, [40]and the thoughts of duty, but not from gratitude, which is a motive of the inclination. If we consider, how tyrannically the immoderate love we bear to ourselves, obliges us to esteem every body that with or without design acts in our favour, and how often we extend our affection to things inanimate, when we imagine them to contribute to our present advantage: if, I say, we consider this, it will not be difficult to find out which way our being pleased with those whose money we win is owing to a principle of gratitude. The next motive is our pity, which proceeds from our consciousness of the vexation there is in losing; and as we love the esteem of every body, we are afraid of forfeiting theirs by being the cause of their loss. Lastly, we apprehend their envy, and so self-preservation makes that we strive to extenuate first the obligation, then the reason why we ought to pity, in hopes that we shall have less of their ill-will and envy. When the passions show themselves in their full strength, they are known by every body: When a man in power gives a great place to one that did him a small kindness in his youth, we call it gratitude: When a woman howls and wrings her hands at the loss of her child, the prevalent passion is grief; and the uneasiness we feel at the sight of great misfortunes, as a man’s breaking his legs, or dashing his brains out, is every where called pity. But the gentle strokes, the slight touches of the passions, are generally overlooked or mistaken.

To prove my assertion, we have but to observe what generally passes between the winner and the loser. The first is always complaisant, and if the other will but keep his temper, more than ordinary obliging; he is ever ready to humour the loser, and willing to rectify his mistakes with precaution, and the height of good manners. The loser is uneasy, captious, morose, and perhaps swears and storms; yet as long as he says or does nothing designedly affronting, the winner takes all in good part, without offending, disturbing, or contradicting him. Losers, says the proverb, must have leave to rail: All which shows that the loser is thought in the right to complain, and for that very reason pitied. That we are afraid of the loser’s ill-will, is plain from our being conscious that we are displeased with those we lose to, and envy we always dread when we think ourselves happier than others: From whence it follows, that when the winner endeavours to conceal his gains, his design is to avert the mischiefs he apprehends, and this is self-preservation; the cares [41]of which continue to affect us as long as the motives that first produced them remain.

But a month, a week, or perhaps a much shorter time after, when the thoughts of the obligation, and consequently the winner’s gratitude, are worn off, when the loser has recovered his temper, laughs at his loss, and the reason of the winner’s pity ceases; when the winner’s apprehension of drawing upon him the ill-will and envy of the loser is gone; that is to say, as soon as all the passions are over, and the cares of self-preservation employ the winner’s thoughts no longer, he will not only make no scruple of owning what he has won, but will, if his vanity steps in, likewise, with pleasure, brag off, if not exaggerate his gains.

It is possible, that when people play together who are at enmity, and perhaps desirous of picking a quarrel, or where men playing for trifles contend for superiority of skill, and aim chiefly at the glory of conquest, nothing shall happen of what I have been talking of. Different passions oblige us to take different measures; what I have said I would have understood of ordinary play for money, at which men endeavour to get, and venture to lose what they value: And even here I know it will be objected by many, that though they have been guilty of concealing their gains, yet they never observed those passions which I allege as the causes of that frailty; which is no wonder, because few men will give themselves leisure, and fewer yet take the right method of examining themselves as they should do. It is with the passions in men, as it is with colours in cloth: It is easy to know a red, a green, a blue, a yellow, a black, &c. in as many different places; but it must be an artist that can unravel all the various colours and their proportions, that make up the compound of a well-mixed cloth. In the same manner, may the passions be discovered by every body whilst they are distinct, and a single one employs the whole man; but it is very difficult to trace every motive of those actions that are the result of a mixture of passions.


Line 163. And virtue, who from politics

Has learn’d a thousand cunning tricks,

Was, by their happy influence,

Made friends with vice.——

It may be said, that virtue is made friends with vice, when industrious good people, who maintain their families, and [42]bring up their children handsomely, pay taxes, and are several ways useful members of the society, get a livelihood by something that chiefly depends on, or is very much influenced by the vices of others, without being themselves guilty of, or accessary to them, any otherwise than by way of trade, as a druggist may be to poisoning, or a sword-cutler to blood-shed.

Thus the merchant, that sends corn or cloth into foreign parts to purchase wines and brandies, encourages the growth or manufactory of his own country; he is a benefactor to navigation, increases the customs, and is many ways beneficial to the public; yet it is not to be denied, but that his greatest dependence is lavishness and drunkenness: For, if none were to drink wine but such only as stand in need of it, nor any body more than his health required, that multitude of wine-merchants, vintners, coopers, &c. that make such a considerable show in this flourishing city, would be in a miserable condition. The same may be said not only of card and dice-makers, that are the immediate ministers to a legion of vices; but that of mercers, upholsterers, tailors, and many others, that would be starved in half a year’s time, if pride and luxury were at once to be banished the nation.


Line 167. The worst of all the multitude

Did something for the common good.

This, I know, will seem to be a strange paradox to many; and I shall be asked what benefit the public receives from thieves and house-breakers. They are, I own, very pernicious to human society, and every government ought to take all imaginable care to root out and destroy them; yet if all people were strictly honest, and nobody would meddle with, or pry into any thing but his own, half the smiths of the nation would want employment; and abundance of workmanship (which now serves for ornament as well as defence) is to be seen every where both in town and country, that would never have been thought of, but to secure us against the attempts of pilferers and robbers.

If what I have said be thought far fetched, and my assertion seems still a paradox, I desire the reader to look upon the consumption of things, and he will find that the laziest and most unactive, the profligate and most mischievous, are all forced to do something for the common good, and [43]whilst their mouths are not sowed up, and they continue to wear and otherwise destroy what the industrious are daily employed about to make, fetch and procure, in spite of their teeth obliged to help, maintain the poor and the public charges. The labour of millions would soon be at an end, if there were not other millions, as I say, in the fable.


To see their handy-works destroy’d.

But men are not to be judged by the consequences that may succeed their actions, but the facts themselves, and the motives which it shall appear they acted from. If an ill-natured miser, who is almost a plumb, and spends but fifty pounds a-year, though he has no relation to inherit his wealth, should be robbed of five hundred or a thousand guineas, it is certain, that as soon as this money should come to circulate, the nation would be the better for the robbery, and receive the same, and as real a benefit from it, as if an archbishop had left the same sum to the public; yet justice, and the peace of society, require that he or they who robbed the miser should be hanged, though there were half a dozen of them concerned.

Thieves and pick-pockets steal for a livelihood, and either what they can get honestly is not sufficient to keep them, or else they have an aversion to constant working: they want to gratify their senses, have victuals, strong drink, lewd women, and to be idle when they please. The victualler, who entertains them, and takes their money, knowing which way they come at it, is very near as great a villain as his guests. But if he fleeces them well, minds his business, and is a prudent man, he may get money, and be punctual with them he deals with: The trusty out-clerk, whose chief aim is his master’s profit, sends him in what beer he wants, and takes care not to lose his custom; while the man’s money is good, he thinks it no business of his to examine whom he gets it by. In the mean time, the wealthy brewer, who leaves all the management to his servants, knows nothing of the matter, but keeps his coach, treats his friends, and enjoys his pleasure with ease and a good conscience; he gets an estate; builds houses, and educates his children in plenty, without ever thinking on the labour which wretches perform, the shifts fools make, and the tricks knaves play to come at the commodity, by the vast sale of which he amasses his great riches.

A highwayman having met with a considerable booty, [44]gives a poor common harlot, he fancies, ten pounds to new-rig her from top to toe; is there a spruce mercer so conscientious that he will refuse to sell her a thread sattin, though he knew who she was? She must have shoes and stockings, gloves, the stay and mantua maker, the sempstress, the linen-draper, all must get something by her, and a hundred different tradesmen dependent on those she laid her money out with, may touch part of it before a month is at an end. The generous gentleman, in the mean time, his money being near spent, ventured again on the road, but the second day having committed a robbery near Highgate, he was taken with one of his accomplices, and the next sessions both were condemned, and suffered the law. The money due on their conviction fell to three country fellows, on whom it was admirably well bestowed. One was an honest farmer, a sober pains-taking man, but reduced by misfortunes: The summer before, by the mortality among the cattle, he had lost six cows out of ten, and now his landlord, to whom he owed thirty pounds, had seized on all his stock. The other was a day-labourer, who struggled hard with the world, had a sick wife at home, and several small children to provide for. The third was a gentleman’s gardener, who maintained his father in prison, where, being bound for a neighbour, he had lain for twelve pounds almost a year and a half; this act of filial duty was the more meritorious, because he had for some time been engaged to a young woman, whose parents lived in good circumstances, but would not give their consent before our gardener had fifty guineas of his own to show. They received above fourscore pounds each, which extricated every one of them out of the difficulties they laboured under, and made them, in their opinion, the happiest people in the world.

Nothing is more destructive, either in regard to the health or the vigilance and industry of the poor, than the infamous liquor, the name of which, derived from Juniper in Dutch, is now, by frequent use, and the laconic spirit of the nation, from a word of middling length, shrunk into a monosyllable, intoxicating gin, that charms the unactive, the desperate and crazy of either sex, and makes the starving sot behold his rags and nakedness with stupid indolence, or banter both in senseless laughter, and more insipid jests! It is a fiery lake that sets the brain in flame, burns up the entrails, and scorches every part within; and, at the same time, a Lethe of oblivion, in which the wretch immersed drowns his most pinching [45]cares, and with his reason, all anxious reflection on brats that cry for food, hard winters frosts, and horrid empty home.

In hot and adust tempers it makes men quarrelsome, renders them brutes and savages, sets them on to fight for nothing, and has often been the cause of murder. It has broke and destroyed the strongest constitutions, thrown them into consumptions, and been the fatal and immediate occasion of apoplexies, phrenzies, and sudden death. But, as these latter mischiefs happen but seldom, they might be overlooked and connived at: but this cannot be said of the many diseases that are familiar to the liquor, and which are daily and hourly produced by it; such as loss of appetite, fevers, black and yellow jaundice, convulsions, stone and gravel, dropsies, and leucophlegmacies.

Among the doting admirers of this liquid poison, many of the meanest rank, from a sincere affection to the commodity itself, become dealers in it, and take delight to help others to what they love themselves, as whores commence bawds to make the profits of one trade subservient to the pleasures of the other. But as these starvelings commonly drink more than their gains, they seldom, by selling, mend the wretchedness of condition they laboured under while they were only buyers. In the fag-end and outskirts of the town, and all places of the vilest resort, it is sold in some part or other of almost every house, frequently in cellars, and sometimes in the garret. The petty traders in this Stygian comfort, are supplied by others in somewhat higher station, that keep professed brandy shops, and are as little to be envied as the former; and among the middling people, I know not a more miserable shift for a livelihood than their calling; whoever would thrive in it must, in the first place, be of a watchful and suspicious, as well as a bold and resolute temper, that he may not be imposed upon by cheats and sharpers, nor out-bullied by the oaths and imprecations of hackney coachmen and foot soldiers: in the second, he ought to be a dabster at gross jokes and loud laughter, and have all the winning ways to allure customers and draw out their money, and be well versed in the low jests and raileries the mob make use of to banter prudence and frugality. He must be affable and obsequious to the most despicable; always ready and officious to help a porter down with his load, shake hands with a basket woman, pull off his hat to an oyster wench, and be familiar with a beggar; with patience and good humour he [46]must be able to endure the filthy actions and viler language of nasty drabs, and the lewdest rakehells, and without a frown, or the least aversion, bear with all the stench and squalor, noise and impertinence, that the utmost indigence, laziness, and ebriety, can produce in the most shameless and abandoned vulgar.

The vast number of the shops I speak of throughout the city and suburbs, are an astonishing evidence of the many seducers, that, in a lawful occupation, are accessary to the introduction and increase of all the sloth, sottishness, want, and misery, which the abuse of strong waters is the immediate cause of, to lift above mediocrity perhaps half a score men that deal in the same commodity by wholesale, while, among the retailers, though qualified as I required, a much greater number are broke and ruined, for not abstaining from the Circean cup they hold out to others, and the more fortunate are their whole lifetime obliged to take the uncommon pains, endure the hardships, and swallow all the ungrateful and shocking things I named, for little or nothing beyond a bare sustenance, and their daily bread.

The short-sighted vulgar in the chain of causes seldom can see further than one link; but those who can enlarge their view, and will give themselves the leisure of gazing on the prospect of concatenated events, may, in a hundred places, see good spring up and pullulate from evil, as naturally as chickens do from eggs. The money that arises from the duties upon malt is a considerable part of the national revenue, and should no spirits be distilled from it, the public treasure would prodigiously suffer on that head. But if we would set in a true light the many advantages, and large catalogue of solid blessings that accrue from, and are owing to the evil I treat of, we are to consider the rents that are received, the ground that is tilled, the tools that are made, the cattle that are employed, and above all, the multitude of poor that are maintained, by the variety of labour, requited in husbandry, in malting, in carriage and distillation, before we can have the product of malt, which we call low wines, and is but the beginning from which the various spirits are afterwards to be made.

Besides this, a sharp-sighted good-humoured man might pick up abundance of good from the rubbish, which I have all flung away for evil. He would tell me, that whatever sloth and sottishness might be occasioned by the abuse of [47]malt-spirits, the moderate use of it was of inestimable benefit to the poor, who could purchase no cordials of higher prices, that it was an universal comfort, not only in cold and weariness, but most of the afflictions that are peculiar to the necessitous, and had often to the most destitute supplied the places of meat, drink, clothes, and lodging. That the stupid indolence in the most wretched condition occasioned by those composing draughts, which I complained of, was a blessing to thousands, for that certainly those were the happiest, who felt the least pain. As to diseases, he would say, that, as it caused some, so it cured others, and that if the excess in those liquors had been sudden death to some few, the habit of drinking them daily prolonged the lives of many, whom once it agreed with; that for the loss sustained from the insignificant quarrels it created at home, we were overpaid in the advantage we received from it abroad, by upholding the courage of soldiers, and animating the sailors to the combat; and that in the two last wars no considerable victory had been obtained without.

To the dismal account I have given of the retailers, and what they are forced to submit to, he would answer, that not many acquired more than middling riches in any trade, and that what I had counted so offensive and intolerable in the calling, was trifling to those who were used to it; that what seemed irksome and calamitous to some, was delightful and often ravishing to others; as men differed in circumstances and education. He would put me in mind, that the profit of an employment ever made amends for the toil and labour that belonged to it, nor forget, Dulcis odor lucri e re qualibet; or to tell me, that the smell of gain was fragrant even to night-workers.

If I should ever urge to him, that to have here and there one great and eminent distiller, was a poor equivalent for the vile means, the certain want, and lasting misery of so many thousand wretches, as were necessary to raise them, he would answer, that of this I could be no judge, because I do not know what vast benefit they might afterwards be of to the commonwealth. Perhaps, would he say, the man thus raised will exert himself in the commission of the peace, or other station, with vigilance and zeal against the dissolute and disaffected, and retaining his stirring temper, be as industrious in spreading loyalty, and the reformation of manners, throughout every cranny of the wide populous town, as [48]once he was in filling it with spirits; till he becomes at last the scourge of whores, of vagabonds and beggars, the terror of rioters and discontented rabbles, and constant plague to sabbath-breaking butchers. Here my good-humoured antagonist would exult and triumph over me, especially if he could instance to me such a bright example, what an uncommon blessing, would he cry out, is this man to his country! how shining and illustrious his virtue!

To justify his exclamation, he would demonstrate to me, that it was impossible to give a fuller evidence of self-denial in a grateful mind, than to see him at the expence of his quiet and hazard of his life and limbs, be always harassing, and even for trifles, persecuting that very class of men to whom he owes his fortune, from no other motive than his aversion to idleness, and great concern for religion and the public welfare.


Line 173. Parties directly opposite,

Assist each other, as ’twere for spite.

Nothing was more instrumental in forwarding the Reformation, than the sloth and stupidity of the Roman clergy; yet the same reformation has roused them from the laziness and ignorance they then laboured under; and the followers of Luther, Calvin, and others, may be said to have reformed not only those whom they drew into their sentiment, but likewise those who remained their greatest opposers. The clergy of England, by being severe upon the Schismatics, and upbraiding them with want of learning, have raised themselves such formidable enemies as are not easily answered; and again, the Dissenters by prying into the lives, and diligently watching all the actions of their powerful antagonists, render those of the Established Church more cautious of giving offence, than in all probability they would, if they had no malicious over-lookers to fear. It is very much owing to the great number of Huguenots that have always been in France, since the late utter extirpation of them, that that kingdom has a less dissolute and more learned clergy to boast of than any other Roman Catholic country. The clergy of that church are no where more sovereign than in Italy, and therefore no where more debauched; nor any where more ignorant than they are in Spain, because their doctrine is nowhere less opposed. [49]

Who would imagine, that virtuous women, unknowingly, should be instrumental in promoting the advantage of prostitutes? Or (what still seems the greater paradox) that incontinence should be made serviceable to the preservation of chastity? and yet nothing is more true. A vicious young fellow, after having been an hour or two at church, a ball, or any other assembly, where there is a great parcel of handsome women dressed to the best advantage, will have his imagination more fired, than if he had the same time been poling at Guildhall, or walking in the country among a flock of sheep. The consequence of this is, that he will strive to satisfy the appetite that is raised in him; and when he finds honest women obstinate and uncomatable, it is very natural to think, that he will hasten to others that are more compliable. Who would so much as surmise, that this is the fault of the virtuous women? They have no thoughts of men in dressing themselves, poor souls, and endeavour only to appear clean and decent, every one according to her quality.

I am far from encouraging vice, and think it would be an unspeakable felicity to a state, if the sin of uncleanness could be utterly banished from it; but I am afraid it is impossible: The passions of some people are too violent to be curbed by any law or precept; and it is wisdom in all governments to bear with lesser inconveniencies to prevent greater. If courtezans and strumpets were to be prosecuted with as much rigour as some silly people would have it, what locks or bars would be sufficient to preserve the honour of our wives and daughters? For it is not only that the women in general would meet with far greater temptations, and the attempts to ensnare the innocence of virgins would seem more excusable, even to the sober part of mankind, than they do now: but some men would grow outrageous, and ravishing would become a common crime. Where six or seven thousand sailors arrive at once, as it often happens, at Amsterdam, that have seen none but their own sex for many months together, how is it to be supposed that honest women should walk the streets unmolested, if there were no harlots to be had at reasonable prices? for which reason, the wise rulers of that well-ordered city always tolerate an uncertain number of houses, in which women are hired as publicly as horses at a livery stable; and there being in this toleration a great deal of prudence and economy to be seen, a short account of it will be no tiresome digression. [50]

In the first place, the houses I speak of are allowed to be no where but in the most slovenly and unpolished part of the town, where seamen and strangers of no repute chiefly lodge and resort. The street in which most of them stand is counted scandalous, and the infamy is extended to all the neighbourhood round it. In the second, they are only places to meet and bargain in, to make appointments in order to promote interviews of greater secrecy, and no manner of lewdness is ever suffered to be transacted in them: which order is so strictly observed, that bar the ill manners and noise of the company that frequent them, you will meet with no more indecency, and generally less lasciviousness there, than with us are to be seen at a playhouse.

Thirdly, the female traders that come to these evening exchanges are always the scum of the people, and generally such as in the day time carry fruit and other eatables about in wheel-barrows. The habits, indeed, they appear in at night are very different from their ordinary ones; yet they are commonly so ridiculously gay, that they look more like the Roman dresses of strolling actresses than gentlewomen’s clothes: if to this you add the awkwardness, the hard hands, and coarse breeding of the damsels that wear them, there is no great reason to fear, that many of the better sort of people will be tempted by them.

The music in these temples of Venus is performed by organs, not out of respect to the deity that is worshipped in them, but the frugality of the owners, whose business it is to procure as much sound for as little money as they can, and the policy of the government, who endeavour, as little as is possible to encourage the breed of pipers and scrapers. All seafaring men, especially the Dutch, are like the element they belong to, much given to loudness and roaring, and the noise of half-a-dozen of them, when they call themselves merry, is sufficient to drown twice the number of flutes or violins; whereas, with one pair of organs, they can make the whole house ring, and are at no other charge than the keeping of one scurvy musician, which can cost them but little: yet notwithstanding the good rules and strict discipline that are observed in these markets of love, the schout and his officers are always vexing, mulcting, and, upon the least complaint, removing the miserable keepers of them: which policy is of two great uses; first, it gives an opportunity to a large parcel of officers, the magistrates make use of [51]on many occasions, and which they could not be without, to squeeze a living out of the immoderate gains accruing from the worst of employments, and, at the same time, punish those necessary profligates, the bawds and panders, which, though they abominate, they desire yet not wholly to destroy. Secondly, as on several accounts it might be dangerous to let the multitude into the secret, that those houses and the trade that is drove in them are connived at, so by this means appearing unblameable, the wary magistrates preserve themselves in the good opinion of the weaker sort of people, who imagine that the government is always endeavouring, though unable, to suppress what it actually tolerates: whereas, if they had a mind to root them out, their power in the administration of justice is so sovereign and extensive, and they know so well how to have it executed, that one week, nay, one night might send them all a packing.

In Italy, the toleration of strumpets is yet more barefaced, as is evident from their public stews. At Venice and Naples, impurity is a kind of merchandise and traffic; the courtezans at Rome, and the cantoneras in Spain, compose a body in the state, and are under a legal tax and impost. It is well known, that the reason why so many good politicians as these tolerate lewd houses, is not their irreligion, but to prevent a worse evil, an impurity of a more execrable kind, and to provide for the safety of women of honour. “About two hundred and fifty years ago,” says Monsieur de St. Didier, Venice being in want of courtezans, the republic was obliged to procure a great number from foreign parts.” Doglioni, who has written the memorable affairs of Venice, highly extols the wisdom of the republic in this point, which secured the chastity of women of honour, daily exposed to public violences, the churches and consecrated places not being a sufficient asylum for their chastity.

Our universities in England are much belied, if in some colleges there was not a monthly allowance ad expurgandos renes: and time was when monks and priests in Germany were allowed concubines on paying a certain yearly duty to their prelate. “It is generally believed” says Monsieur Bayle, (to whom I owe the last paragraph) “that avarice was the cause of this shameful indulgence; but it is more probable their design was to prevent their tempting modest women, and to quiet the uneasiness of husbands, whose resentments the clergy do well to avoid. From [52]what has been said, it is manifest that there is a necessity of sacrificing one part of womankind to preserve the other, and prevent a filthiness of a more heinous nature. From whence I think I may justly conclude (what was the seeming paradox I went about to prove) that chastity may be supported by incontinence, and the best of virtues want the assistance of the worst of vices.


Line 177. The root of evil, avarice,

That damn’d ill-natur’d baneful vice,

Was slave to prodigality.

I have joined so many odious epithets to the word avarice, in compliance to the vogue of mankind, who generally bestow more ill language upon this than upon any other vice, and indeed not undeservedly; for there is hardly a mischief to be named which it has not produced at one time or other: but the true reason why every body exclaims so much against it, is, that almost every body suffers by it; for the more the money is hoarded up by some, the scarcer it must grow among the rest, and therefore when men rail very much at misers, there is generally self-interest at bottom.

As there is no living without money, so those that are unprovided, and have nobody to give them any, are obliged to do some service or other to the society, before they can come at it; but every body esteeming his labour as he does himself, which is generally not under the value, most people that want money only to spend it again presently, imagine they do more for it than it is worth. Men cannot forbear looking upon the necessaries of life as their due, whether they work or not; because they find that nature, without consulting whether they have victuals or not, bids them eat whenever they are hungry; for which reason, every body endeavours to get what he wants with as much ease as he can; and therefore when men find that the trouble they are put to in getting money is either more or less, according as those they would have it from are more or less tenacious, it is very natural for them to be angry at covetousness in general; for it obliges them either to go without what they have occasion for, or else to take greater pains for it than they are willing.

Avarice, notwithstanding it is the occasion of so many evils, is yet very necessary to the society, to glean and gather what [53]has been dropt and scattered by the contrary vice. Was it not for avarice, spendthrifts would soon want materials; and if none would lay up and get faster than they spend, very few could spend faster than they get. That it is a slave to prodigality, as I have called it, is evident from so many misers as we daily see toil and labour, pinch and starve themselves, to enrich a lavish heir. Though these two vices appear very opposite, yet they often assist each other. Florio is an extravagant young blade, of a very profuse temper; as he is the only son of a very rich father, he wants to live high, keep horses and dogs, and throw his money about, as he sees some of his companions do; but the old hunks will part with no money, and hardly allows him necessaries. Florio would have borrowed money upon his own credit long ago; but as all would be lost, if he died before his father, no prudent man would lend him any. At last he has met with the greedy Cornaro, who lets him have money at thirty per cent. and now Florio thinks himself happy, and spends a thousand a-year. Where would Cornaro ever have got such a prodigious interest, if it was not for such a fool as Florio, who will give so great a price for money to fling it away? And how would Florio get it to spend, if he had not lit of such a greedy usurer as Cornaro, whose excessive covetousness makes him overlook the great risk he runs in venturing such great sums upon the life of a wild debauchee.

Avarice is no longer the reverse of profuseness, than while it signifies that sordid love of money, and narrowness of soul that hinders misers from parting with what they have, and makes them covet it only to hoard up. But there is a sort of avarice which consists in a greedy desire of riches, in order to spend them, and this often meets with prodigality in the same persons, as is evident in most courtiers and great officers, both civil and military. In their buildings and furniture, equipages and entertainments, their gallantry is displayed with the greatest profusion; while the base actions they submit to for lucre, and the many frauds and impositions they are guilty of, discover the utmost avarice. This mixture of contrary vices, comes up exactly to the character of Catiline, of whom it is said, that he was appetens alieni & sui profusus, greedy after the goods of others, and lavish of his own. [54]


Line 180. That noble sin——

The prodigality, I call a noble sin, is not that which has avarice for its companion, and makes men unreasonably profuse to some of what they unjustly extort from others, but that agreeable good-natured vice that makes the chimney smoke, and all the tradesmen smile; I mean the unmixed prodigality of heedless and voluptuous men, that being educated in plenty, abhor the vile thoughts of lucre, and lavish away only what others took pains to scrape together; such as indulge their inclinations at their own expence, that have the continual satisfaction of bartering old gold for new pleasures, and from the excessive largeness of a diffusive soul, are made guilty of despising too much what most people overvalue.

When I speak thus honourably of this vice, and treat it with so much tenderness and good manners as I do, I have the same thing at heart that made me give so many ill names to the reverse of it, viz. the interest of the public; for as the avaricious does no good to himself, and is injurious to all the world besides, except his heir, so the prodigal is a blessing to the whole society, and injures no body but himself. It is true, that as most of the first are knaves, so the latter are all fools; yet they are delicious morsels for the public to feast on, and may with as much justice, as the French call the monks the patridges of the women, be styled the woodcocks of the society. Was it not for prodigality, nothing could make us amends for the rapine and extortion of avarice in power. When a covetous statesman is gone, who spent his whole life in fattening himself with the spoils of the nation, and had by pinching and plundering heaped up an immense treasure, it ought to fill every good member of the society with joy, to behold the uncommon profuseness of his son. This is refunding to the public what was robbed from it. Resuming of grants is a barbarous way of stripping, and it is ignoble to ruin a man faster than he does it himself, when he sets about it in such good earnest. Does he not feed an infinite number of dogs of all sorts and sizes, though he never hunts; keep more horses than any nobleman in the kingdom, though he never rides them; and give as large an allowance to an ill-favoured whore as would keep a dutchess, though he never lies with her? Is he not still more extravagant in those things he makes use of? Therefore let him alone, or praise him, call him public-spirited [55]lord, nobly bountiful and magnificently generous, and in a few years he will suffer himself to be stript his own way. As long as the nation has its own back again, we ought not to quarrel with the manner in which the plunder is repaid.

Abundance of moderate men, I know, that are enemies to extremes, will tell me, that frugality might happily supply the place of the two vices I speak of, that if men had not so many profuse ways of spending wealth, they would not be tempted to so many evil practices to scrape it together, and consequently that the same number of men, by equally avoiding both extremes, might render themselves more happy, and be less vicious without, than they could with them. Whoever argues thus, shows himself a better man than he is a politician. Frugality is like honesty, a mean starving virtue, that is only fit for small societies of good peaceable men, who are contented to be poor, so they may be easy; but, in a large stirring nation, you may have soon enough of it. It is an idle dreaming virtue that employs no hands, and therefore very useless in a trading country, where there are vast numbers that one way or other must be all set to work. Prodigality has a thousand inventions to keep people from sitting still, that frugality would never think of; and as this must consume a prodigious wealth, so avarice again knows innumerable tricks to raise it together, which frugality would scorn to make use of.

Authors are always allowed to compare small things to great ones, especially if they ask leave first. Si licit exemplis, &c. but to compare great things to mean trivial ones, is unsufferable, unless it be in burlesque; otherwise I would compare the body politic (I confess the simile is very low) to a bowl of punch. Avarice should be the souring, and prodigality the sweetening of it. The water I would call the ignorance, folly, and credulity of the floating insipid multitude; while wisdom, honour, fortitude, and the rest of the sublime qualities of men, which separated by art from the dregs of nature, the fire of glory has exalted and refined into a spiritual essence, should be an equivalent to brandy. I do not doubt but a Westphalian, Laplander, or any other dull stranger that is unacquainted with the wholesome composition, if he was to sell the several ingredients apart, would think it impossible they should make any tolerable liquor. The lemons would be too sour, the sugar too luscious, the brandy he will say is too strong ever to be drank in any quantity, and the water he [56]will call a tasteless liquor, only fit for cows and horses: yet experience teaches us, that the ingredients I named, judiciously mixed, will make an excellent liquor, liked of, and admired by men of exquisite palates.

As to our vices in particular, I could compare avarice, that causes so much mischief, and is complained of by every body who is not a miser, to a griping acid that sets our teeth on edge, and is unpleasant to every palate that is not debauched: I could compare the gaudy trimming and splendid equipage of a profuse beau, to the glistening brightness of the finest loaf sugar; for as the one, by correcting the sharpness, prevent the injuries which a gnawing sour might do to the bowels, so the other is a pleasing balsam that heals and makes amends for the smart, which the multitude always suffers from the gripes of the avaricious; while the substances of both melt away alike, and they consume themselves by being beneficial to the several compositions they belong to. I could carry on the simile as to proportions, and the exact nicety to be observed in them, which would make it appear how little any of the ingredients could be spared in either of the mixtures; but I will not tire my reader by pursuing too far a ludicrous comparison, when I have other matters to entertain him with of greater importance; and to sum up what I have said in this and the foregoing remark, shall only add, that I look upon avarice and prodigality in the society, as I do upon two contrary poisons in physic, of which it is certain that the noxious qualities being by mutual mischief corrected in both, they may assist each other, and often make a good medicine between them.


Line 180. ————Whilst luxury

Employ’d a million of the poor, &c.

If every thing is to be luxury (as in strictness it ought) that is not immediately necessary to make man subsist as he is a living creature, there is nothing else to be found in the world, no not even among the naked savages; of which it is not probable that there are any but what by this time have made some improvements upon their former manner of living; and either in the preparation of their eatables, the ordering of their huts, or otherwise, added something to what once sufficed them. This definition every body will say is too rigorous: [57]I am of the same opinion; but if we are to abate one inch of this severity, I am afraid we shall not know where to stop. When people tell us they only desire to keep themselves sweet and clean, there is no understanding what they would be at: if they made use of these words in their genuine proper literal sense, they might be soon satisfied without much cost or trouble, if they did not want water: but these two little adjectives are so comprehensive, especially in the dialect of some ladies, that nobody can guess how far they may be stretched. The comforts of life are likewise so various and extensive, that nobody can tell what people mean by them, except he knows what sort of life they lead. The same obscurity I observe in the words decency and conveniency, and I never understand them, unless I am acquainted with the quality of the persons that make use of them. People may go to church together, and be all of one mind as much as they please, I am apt to believe that when they pray for their daily bread, the bishop includes several things in that petition which the sexton does not think on.

By what I have said hitherto I would only show, that if once we depart from calling every thing luxury that is not absolutely necessary to keep a man alive, that then there is no luxury at all; for if the wants of men are innumerable, then what ought to supply them has no bounds; what is called superfluous, to some degree of people, will be thought requisite to those of higher quality; and neither the world, nor the skill of man can produce any thing so curious or extravagant, but some most gracious sovereign or other, if it either eases or diverts him, will reckon it among the necessaries of life; not meaning every body’s life, but that of his sacred person.

It is a received notion, that luxury is as destructive to the wealth of the whole body politic, as it is to that of every individual person who is guilty of it, and that a national frugality enriches a country in the same manner, as that which is less general increases the estates of private families. I confess, that though I have found men of much better understanding than myself of this opinion, I cannot help dissenting from them in this point. They argue thus: We send, say they, for example, to Turkey of woollen manufactury, and other things of our own growth, a million’s worth every year; for this we bring back silk, mohair, drugs, &c. to the value of twelve hundred thousand pounds, that are all spent in our own country. By this, say they, we get nothing; but if most [58]of us would be content with our own growth, and so consume but half the quantity of those foreign commodities, then those in Turkey, who would still want the same quantity of our manufactures, would be forced to pay ready money for the rest, and so by the balance of that trade only, the nation should get six hundred thousand pounds per annum.

To examine the force of this argument, we will suppose (what they would have) that but half the silk, &c. shall be consumed in England of what there is now; we will suppose likewise, that those in Turkey, though we refuse to buy above half as much of their commodities as we used to do, either can or will not be without the same quantity of our manufactures they had before, and that they will pay the balance in money; that is to say, that they shall give us as much gold or silver, as the value of what they buy from us, exceeds the value of what we buy from them. Though what we suppose might perhaps be done for one year, it is impossible it should last: Buying is bartering; and no nation can buy goods of others, that has none of her own to purchase them with. Spain and Portugal, that are yearly supplied with new gold and silver from their mines, may for ever buy for ready money, as long as their yearly increase of gold or silver continues; but then money is their growth, and the commodity of the country. We know that we could not continue long to purchase the goods of other nations, if they would not take our manufactures in payment for them; and why should we judge otherwise of other nations? If those in Turkey, then, had no more money fall from the skies than we, let us see what would be the consequence of what we supposed. The six hundred thousand pounds in silk, mohair, &c. that are left upon their hands the first year, must make those commodities fall considerably: Of this the Dutch and French will reap the benefit as much as ourselves; and if we continue to refuse taking their commodities in payment for our manufactures, they can trade no longer with us, but must content themselves with buying what they want of such nations as are willing to take what we refuse, though their goods are much worse than ours; and thus our commerce with Turkey must in few years be infallibly lost.

But they will say, perhaps, that to prevent the ill consequence I have showed, we shall take the Turkish merchandise as formerly, and only be so frugal as to consume but half the quantity of them ourselves, and send the rest abroad [59]to be sold to others. Let us see what this will do, and whether it will enrich the nation by the balance of that trade with six hundred thousand pounds. In the first place, I will grant them that our people at home making use of so much more of our own manufactures, those who were employed in silk, mohair, &c. will get a living by the various preparations of woollen goods. But, in the second, I cannot allow that the goods can be sold as formerly; for suppose the half that is wore at home to be sold at the same rate as before, certainly the other half that is sent abroad will want very much of it: For we must send those goods to markets already supplied; and besides that, there must be freight, insurance, provision, and all other charges deducted, and the merchants in general must lose much more by this half that is reshipped, than they got by the half that is consumed here. For, though the woollen manufactures are our own product, yet they stand the merchant that ships them off to foreign countries, in as much as they do the shopkeeper here that retails them: so that if the returns for what he sends abroad repay him not what his goods cost him here, with all other charges, till he has the money and a good interest for it in cash, the merchant must run out, and the upshot would be, that the merchants in general, finding they lost by the Turkish commodities they sent abroad, would ship no more of our manufactures, than what would pay for as much silk, mohair, &c. as would be consumed here. Other nations would soon find ways to supply them with as much as we should send short, and some where or other to dispose of the goods we should refuse: So that all we should get by this frugality, would be, that those in Turkey would take but half the quantity of our manufactures of what they do now, while we encourage and wear their merchandises, without which they are not able to purchase ours.

As I have had the mortification, for several years, to meet with abundance of sensible people against this opinion, and who always thought me wrong in this calculation, so I had the pleasure at last to see the wisdom of the nation fall into the same sentiments, as is so manifest from an act of parliament made in the year 1721, where the legislature disobliges a powerful and valuable company, and overlooks very weighty inconveniences at home, to promote the interest of the Turkey trade, and not only encourages the consumption [60]of silk and mohair, but forces the subjects, on penalties, to make use of them whether they will or not.

What is laid to the charge of luxury besides, is, that it increases avarice and rapine: And where they are reigning vices, offices of the greatest trust are bought and sold; the ministers that should serve the public, both great and small, corrupted, and the countries every moment in danger of being betrayed to the highest bidders: And, lastly, that it effeminates and enervates the people, by which the nations become an easy prey to the first invaders. These are indeed terrible things; but what is put to the account of luxury belongs to male-administration, and is the fault of bad politics. Every government ought to be thoroughly acquainted with, and stedfastly to pursue the interest of the country. Good politicians, by dexterous management, laying heavy impositions on some goods, or totally prohibiting them, and lowering the duties on others, may always turn and divert the course of trade which way they please; and as they will ever prefer, if it be equally considerable, the commerce with such countries as can pay with money as well as goods, to those that can make no returns for what they buy, but in the commodities of their own growth and manufactures, so they will always carefully prevent the traffic with such nations as refuse the goods of others, and will take nothing but money for their own. But, above all, they will keep a watchful eye over the balance of trade in general, and never suffer that all the foreign commodities together, that are imported in one year, shall exceed in value what of their own growth or manufacture is in the same imported to others. Note, That I speak now of the interest of those nations that have no gold or silver of their own growth, otherwise this maxim need not to be so much insisted on.

If what I urged last, be but diligently looked after, and the imports are never allowed to be superior to the exports, no nation can ever be impoverished by foreign luxury; and they may improve it as much as they please, if they can but in proportion raise the fund of their own that is to purchase it.

Trade is the principal, but not the only requisite to aggrandize a nation: there are other things to be taken care of besides. The meum and tuum must be secured, crimes punished, and all other laws concerning the administration of justice, wisely contrived, and strictly executed. Foreign affairs [61]must be likewise prudently managed, and the ministry of every nation ought to have a good intelligence abroad, and be well acquainted with the public transactions of all those countries, that either by their neighbourhood, strength, or interest, may be hurtful or beneficial to them, to take the necessary measures accordingly, of crossing some, and assisting others, as policy, and the balance of power direct. The multitude must be awed, no man’s conscience forced, and the clergy allowed no greater share in state affairs, than our Saviour has bequeathed in his testament. These are the arts that lead to worldly greatness: What sovereign power soever makes a good use of them, that has any considerable nation to govern, whether it be a monarchy, a commonwealth, or a mixture of both, can never fail of making it flourish in spite of all the other powers upon earth, and no luxury, or other vice, is ever able to shake their constitution.——But here I expect a full-mouthed cry against me; What! has God never punished and destroyed great nations for their sins? Yes, but not without means, by infatuating their governors, and suffering them to depart from either all or some of those general maxims I have mentioned; and of all the famous states and empires the world has had to boast of hitherto, none ever came to ruin, whose destruction was not principally owing to the bad politics, neglects, or mismanagements of the rulers.

There is no doubt, but more health and vigour is expected among the people, and their offspring, from temperance and sobriety, than there is from gluttony and drunkenness; yet I confess, that as to luxury’s effeminating and enervating a nation, I have not such frightful notions now, as I have had formerly. When we hear or read of things which we are altogether strangers to, they commonly bring to our imagination such ideas of what we have seen, as (according to our apprehension) must come the nearest to them: And I remember, that when I have read of the luxury of Persia, Egypt, and other countries where it has been a reigning vice, and that were effeminated and enervated by it, it has sometimes put me in mind of the cramming and swilling of ordinary tradesmen at a city feast, and the beastliness their overgorging themselves is often attended with; at other times, it has made me think on the distraction of dissolute sailors, as I had seen them in company of half a dozen lewd women, roaring along with fiddles before them; and was I [62]to have been carried into any of their great cities, I would have expected to have found one third of the people sick a-bed with surfeits; another laid up with the gout, or crippled by a more ignominious distemper; and the rest, that could go without leading, walk along the streets in petticoats.

It is happy for us to have fear for a keeper, as long as our reason is not strong enough to govern our appetites: And I believe, that the great dread I had more particularly against the word, to enervate, and some consequent thoughts on the etymology of it, did me abundance of good when I was a school boy: But since I have seen something in the world, the consequences of luxury to a nation seem not so dreadful to me as they did. As long as men have the same appetites, the same vices will remain. In all large societies, some will love whoring, and others drinking. The lustful that can get no handsome clean women, will content themselves with dirty drabs: and those that cannot purchase true Hermitage or Pontack, will be glad of more ordinary French claret. Those that cannot reach wine, take up with most liquors, and a foot soldier or a beggar may make himself as drunk with stale beer or malt spirits, as a lord with Burgundy, Champaign, or Tockay. The cheapest and most slovenly way of indulging our passions, does as much mischief to a man’s constitution, as the most elegant and expensive.

The greatest excesses of luxury are shown in buildings, furniture, equipages, and clothes: Clean linen weakens a man no more than flannel; tapestry, fine painting, or good wainscot, are no more unwholesome than bare walls; and a rich couch, or a gilt chariot, are no more enervating than the cold floor, or a country cart. The refined pleasures of men of sense are seldom injurious to their constitution, and there are many great epicures that will refuse to eat or drink more than their heads or stomachs can bear. Sensual people may take as great care of themselves as any: and the errors of the most viciously luxurious, do not so much consist in the frequent repetitions of their lewdness, and their eating and drinking too much (which are the things which would most enervate them), as they do in the operose contrivances, the profuseness and nicety they are served with, and the vast expence they are at in their tables and amours.

But let us once suppose, that the ease and pleasures, the grandees, and the rich people of every nation live in, render them unfit to endure hardships, and undergo the toils of [63]war. I will allow that most of the common council of the city would make but very indifferent foot soldiers; and I believe heartily, that if your horse was to be composed of aldermen, and such as most of them are, a small artillery of squibs would be sufficient to route them. But what have the aldermen, the common council, or indeed all people of any substance to do with the war, but to pay taxes? The hardships and fatigues of war that are personally suffered, fall upon them that bear the brunt of every thing, the meanest indigent part of the nation, the working slaving people: For how excessive soever the plenty and luxury of a nation may be, some body must do the work, houses and ships must be built, merchandises must be removed, and the ground tilled. Such a variety of labours in every great nation, require a vast multitude, in which there are always loose, idle, extravagant fellows enough to spare for an army; and those that are robust enough to hedge and ditch, plow and thrash, or else not too much enervated to be smiths, carpenters, sawyers, cloth-workers, porters or carmen, will always be strong and hardy enough in a campaign or two to make good soldiers, who, where good orders are kept, have seldom so much plenty and superfluity come to their share, as to do them any hurt.

The mischief, then, to be feared from luxury among the people of war, cannot extend itself beyond the officers. The greatest of them are either men of a very high birth and princely education, or else extraordinary parts, and no less experience; and whoever is made choice of by a wise government to command an army en chef, should have a consummate knowledge in martial affairs, intrepidity to keep him calm in the midst of danger, and many other qualifications that must be the work of time and application, on men of a quick penetration, a distinguished genius, and a world of honour. Strong sinews and supple joints are trifling advantages, not regarded in persons of their reach and grandeur, that can destroy cities a-bed, and ruin whole countries while they are at dinner. As they are most commonly men of great age, it would be ridiculous to expect a hale constitution and agility of limbs from them: So their heads be but active and well furnished, it is no great matter what the rest of their bodies are. If they cannot bear the fatigue of being on horseback, they may ride in coaches, or be carried in litters. Mens conduct and sagacity are never the less for their being [64]cripples, and the best general the king of France has now, can hardly crawl along. Those that are immediately under the chief commanders must be very nigh of the same abilities, and are generally men that have raised themselves to those posts by their merit. The other officers are all of them in their several stations obliged to lay out so large a share of their pay in fine clothes, accoutrements, and other things, by the luxury of the times called necessary, that they can spare but little money for debauches; for, as they are advanced, and their salaries raised, so they are likewise forced to increase their expences and their equipages, which, as well as every thing else, must still be proportionable to their quality: by which means, the greatest part of them are in a manner hindered from those excesses that might be destructive to health; while their luxury thus turned another way, serves, moreover, to heighten their pride and vanity, the greatest motives to make them behave themselves like what they would be thought to be (See Remark on l. 321).

There is nothing refines mankind more than love and honour. Those two passions are equivalent to many virtues, and therefore the greatest schools of breeding and good manners, are courts and armies; the first to accomplish the women, the other to polish the men. What the generality of officers among civilized nations affect, is a perfect knowledge of the world and the rules of honour; an air of frankness, and humanity peculiar to military men of experience, and such a mixture of modesty and undauntedness, as may bespeak them both courteous and valiant. Where good sense is fashionable, and a genteel behaviour is in esteem, gluttony and drunkenness can be no reigning vices. What officers of distinction chiefly aim at, is not a beastly, but a splendid way of living, and the wishes of the most luxurious, in their several degrees of quality, are to appear handsomely, and excel each other in finery of equipage, politeness of entertainments, and the reputation of a judicious fancy in every thing about them.

But if there should be more dissolute reprobates among officers, than there are among men of other professions, which is not true, yet the most debauched of them may be very serviceable, if they have but a great share of honour. It is this that covers and makes up for a multitude of defects in them, and it is this that none (how abandoned soever they are to pleasure) dare pretend to be without. But as there is no argument [65]so convincing as matter of fact, let us look back on what so lately happened in our two last wars with France. How many puny young striplings have we had in our armies, tenderly educated, nice in their dress, and curious in their diet, that underwent all manner of duties with gallantry and cheerfulness?

Those that have such dismal apprehensions of luxury’s enervating and effeminating people, might, in Flanders and Spain have seen embroidered beaux with fine laced shirts and powdered wigs stand as much fire, and lead up to the mouth of a cannon, with as little concern as it was possible for the most stinking slovens to have done in their own hair, though it had not been combed in a month, and met with abundance of wild rakes, who had actually impaired their healths, and broke their constitutions with excesses of wine and women, that yet behaved themselves with conduct and bravery against their enemies. Robustness is the least thing required in an officer, and if sometimes strength is of use, a firm resolution of mind, which the hopes of preferment, emulation, and the love of glory inspire them with, will at a push supply the place of bodily force.

Those that understand their business, and have a sufficient sense of honour, as soon as they are used to danger will always be capable officers: and their luxury, as long as they spend nobody’s money but their own, will never be prejudicial to a nation.

By all which, I think, I have proved what I designed in this remark on luxury. First, that in one sense every thing may be called so, and in another there is no such thing. Secondly, that with a wise administration all people may swim in as much foreign luxury as their product can purchase, without being impoverished by it. And, lastly, that where military affairs are taken care of as they ought, and the soldiers well paid and kept in good discipline, a wealthy nation may live in all the ease and plenty imaginable; and in many parts of it, show as much pomp and delicacy, as human wit can invent, and at the same time be formidable to their neighbours, and come up to the character of the bees in the fable, of which I said, that

Flatter’d in peace, and fear’d in wars,

They were th’ esteem of foreigners;

And lavish of their wealth and lives,

The balance of all other hives.


(See what is farther said concerning luxury in the Remarks on line 182 and 307.)


Line 182. And odious pride a million more.

Pride is that natural faculty by which every mortal that has any understanding over-values, and imagines better things of himself than any impartial judge, thoroughly acquainted with all his qualities and circumstances, could allow him. We are possessed of no other quality so beneficial to society, and so necessary to render it wealthy and flourishing as this, yet it is that which is most generally detested. What is very peculiar to this faculty of ours, is, that those who are the fullest of it, are the least willing to connive at it in others; whereas the heinousness of other vices is the most extenuated by those who are guilty of them themselves. The chaste man hates fornication, and drunkenness is most abhorred by the temperate; but none are so much offended at their neighbour’s pride, as the proudest of all; and if any one can pardon it, it is the most humble: from which, I think, we may justly infer, that it being odious to all the world, is a certain sign that all the world is troubled with it. This all men of sense are ready to confess, and nobody denies but that he has pride in general. But, if you come to particulars, you will meet with few that will own any action you can name of theirs to have proceeded from that principle. There are likewise many who will allow, that among the sinful nations of the times, pride and luxury are the great promoters of trade, but they refuse to own the necessity there is, that in a more virtuous age (such a one as should be free from pride), trade would in a great measure decay.

The Almighty, they say, has endowed us with the dominion over all things which the earth and sea produce or contain; there is nothing to be found in either, but what was made for the use of man; and his skill and industry above other animals were given him, that he might render both them and every thing else within the reach of his senses, more serviceable to him. Upon this consideration they think it impious to imagine, that humility, temperance, and other virtues should debar people from the enjoyment of those comforts of life, which are not denied to the most wicked nations; and so conclude, that without pride or luxury, the same things might be eat, wore, and consumed; the [67]same number of handicrafts and artificers employed, and a nation be every way as flourishing as where those vices are the most predominant.

As to wearing apparel in particular, they will tell you, that pride, which sticks much nearer to us than our clothes, is only lodged in the heart, and that rags often conceal a greater portion of it than the most pompous attire; and that as it cannot be denied but that there have always been virtuous princes, who, with humble hearts, have wore their splendid diadems, and swayed their envied sceptres, void of ambition, for the good of others; so it is very probable, that silver and gold brocades, and the richest embroideries may, without a thought of pride, be wore by many whose quality and fortune are suitable to them. May not (say they) a good man of extraordinary revenues, make every year a greater variety of suits than it is possible he should wear out, and yet have no other ends than to set the poor at work, to encourage trade, and by employing many, to promote the welfare of his country? And considering food and raiment to be necessaries, and the two chief articles to which all our worldly cares are extended, why may not all mankind set aside a considerable part of their income for the one as well as the other, without the least tincture of pride? Nay, is not every member of the society in a manner obliged, according to his ability, to contribute toward the maintenance of that branch of trade on which the whole has so great a dependence? Besides that, to appear decently is a civility, and often a duty, which, without any regard to ourselves, we owe to those we converse with.

These are the objections generally made use of by haughty moralists, who cannot endure to hear the dignity of their species arraigned; but if we look narrowly into them, they may soon be answered.

If we had vices, I cannot see why any man should ever make more suits than he has occasion for, though he was never so desirous of promoting the good of the nation: for, though in the wearing of a well-wrought silk, rather than a slight stuff, and the preferring curious fine cloth to coarse, he had no other view but the setting of more people to work, and consequently the public welfare, yet he could consider clothes no otherwise than lovers of their country do taxes now; they may pay them with alacrity, but nobody gives more than his due; especially where all are justly rated according [68]to their abilities, as it could no otherwise be expected in a very virtuous age. Besides, that in such golden times nobody would dress above his condition, nobody pinch his family, cheat or over reach his neighbour to purchase finery, and consequently there would not be half the consumption, nor a third part of the people employed as now there are. But, to make this more plain, and demonstrate, that for the support of trade there can be nothing equivalent to pride, I shall examine the several views men have in outward apparel, and set forth what daily experience may teach every body as to dress.

Clothes were originally made for two ends, to hide our nakedness, and to fence our bodies against the weather, and other outward injuries: to these our boundless pride has added a third, which is ornament; for what else but an excess of stupid vanity, could have prevailed upon our reason to fancy that ornamental, which must continually put us in mind of our wants and misery, beyond all other animals that are ready clothed by nature herself? It is indeed to be admired how so sensible a creature as man, that pretends to so many fine qualities of his own, should condescend to value himself upon what is robbed from so innocent and defenceless an animal as a sheep, or what he is beholden for to the most insignificant thing upon earth, a dying worm; yet while he is proud of such trifling depredations, he has the folly to laugh at the Hottentots on the furthest promontory of Afric, who adorn themselves with the guts of their dead enemies, without considering that they are the ensigns of their valour those barbarians are fine with, the true spolia opima, and that if their pride be more savage than ours, it is certainly less ridiculous, because they wear the spoils of the more noble animal.

But whatever reflections may be made on this head, the world has long since decided the matter; handsome apparel is a main point, fine feathers make fine birds, and people, where they are not known, are generally honoured according to their clothes and other accoutrements they have about them; from the richness of them we judge of their wealth, and by their ordering of them we guess at their understanding. It is this which encourages every body, who is conscious of his little merit, if he is any ways able to wear clothes above his rank, especially in large and populous cities, where obscure men may hourly meet with fifty strangers [69]to one acquaintance, and consequently have the pleasure of being esteemed by a vast majority, not as what they are, but what they appear to be: which is a greater temptation than most people want to be vain.

Whoever takes delight in viewing the various scenes of low life, may, on Easter, Whitsun, and other great holidays, meet with scores of people, especially women, of almost the lowest rank, that wear good and fashionable clothes: if coming to talk with them, you treat them more courteously and with greater respect than what they are conscious they deserve, they will commonly be ashamed of owning what they are; and often you may, if you are a little inquisitive, discover in them a most anxious care to conceal the business they follow, and the place they live in. The reason is plain; while they receive those civilities that are not usually paid them, and which they think only due to their betters, they have the satisfaction to imagine, that they appear what they would be, which, to weak minds, is a pleasure almost as substantial as they could reap from the very accomplishments of their wishes: this golden dream they are unwilling to be disturbed in, and being sure that the meanness of their condition, if it is known, must sink them very low in your opinion, they hug themselves in their disguise, and take all imaginable precaution not to forfeit, by a useless discovery, the esteem which they flatter themselves that their good clothes have drawn from you.

Though every body allows, that as to apparel and manner of living, we ought to behave ourselves suitable to our conditions, and follow the examples of the most sensible, and prudent among our equals in rank and fortune: yet how few, that are not either miserably covetous, or else proud of singularity, have this discretion to boast of? We all look above ourselves, and, as fast as we can, strive to imitate those that some way or other are superior to us.

The poorest labourer’s wife in the parish, who scorns to wear a strong wholesome frize, as she might, will half starve herself and her husband to purchase a second-hand gown and petticoat, that cannot do her half the service; because, forsooth, it is more genteel. The weaver, the shoemaker, the tailor, the barber, and every mean working fellow, that can set up with little, has the impudence, with the first money he gets, to dress himself like a tradesman of substance: the ordinary retailer in the clothing of his wife, takes pattern from [70]his neighbour, that deals in the same commodity by wholesale, and the reason he gives for it is, that twelve years ago the other had not a bigger shop than himself. The druggist, mercer, draper, and other creditable shopkeepers, can find no difference between themselves and merchants, and therefore dress and live like them. The merchant’s lady, who cannot bear the assurance of those mechanics, flies for refuge to the other end of the town, and scorns to follow any fashion but what she takes from thence; this haughtiness alarms the court, the women of quality are frightened to see merchants wives and daughters dressed like themselves: this impudence of the city, they cry, is intolerable; mantua-makers are sent for, and the contrivance of fashions becomes all their study, that they may have always new modes ready to take up, as soon as those saucy cits shall begin to imitate those in being. The same emulation is continued through the several degrees of quality, to an incredible expence, till at last the prince’s great favourites and those of the first rank of all, having nothing left to outstrip some of their inferiors, are forced to lay out vast estates in pompous equipages, magnificent furniture, sumptuous gardens, and princely palaces.

To this emulation and continual striving to out-do one another it is owing, that after so many various shiftings and changes of modes, in trumping up new ones, and renewing of old ones, there is still a plus ultra left for the ingenious; it is this, or at least the consequence of it, that sets the poor to work, adds spurs to industry, and encourages the skilful artificer to search after further improvements.

It may be objected, that many people of good fashion, who have been used to be well dressed, out of custom, wear rich clothes with all the indifferency imaginable, and that the benefit to trade accruing from them cannot be ascribed to emulation or pride. To this I answer, that it is impossible, that those who trouble their heads so little with their dress, could ever have wore those rich clothes, if both the stuffs and fashions had not been first invented to gratify the vanity of others, who took greater delight in fine apparel, than they; besides that every body is not without pride that appears to be so; all the symptoms of that vice are not easily discovered; they are manifold, and vary according to the age, humour, circumstances, and often constitution of the people.

The choleric city captain seems impatient to come to action, and expressing his warlike genius by the firmness of his [71]steps, makes his pike, for want of enemies, tremble at the valour of his arm: his martial finery, as he marches along, inspires him with an unusual elevation of mind, by which, endeavouring to forget his shop as well as himself, he looks up at the balconies with the fierceness of a Saracen conqueror: while the phlegmatic alderman, now become venerable both for his age and his authority, contents himself with being thought a considerable man; and knowing no easier way to express his vanity, looks big in his coach, where being known by his paultry livery, he receives, in sullen state, the homage that is paid him by the meaner sort of people.

The beardless ensign counterfeits a gravity above his years, and with ridiculous assurance strives to imitate the stern countenance of his colonel, flattering himself, all the while, that by his daring mien you will judge of his prowess. The youthful fair, in a vast concern of being overlooked, by the continual changing of her posture, betrays a violent desire of being observed, and catching, as it were, at every body’s eyes, courts with obliging looks the admiration of her beholders. The conceited coxcomb, on the contrary, displaying an air of sufficiency, is wholly taken up with the contemplation of his own perfections, and in public places discovers such a disregard to others, that the ignorant must imagine, he thinks himself to be alone.

These, and such like, are all manifest, though different tokens of pride, that are obvious to all the world; but man’s vanity is not always so soon found out. When we perceive an air of humanity, and men seem not to be employed in admiring themselves, nor altogether unmindful of others, we are apt to pronounce them void of pride, when, perhaps, they are only fatigued with gratifying their vanity, and become languid from a satiety of enjoyments. That outward show of peace within, and drowsy composure of careless negligence, with which a great man is often seen in his plain chariot to loll at ease, are not always so free from art, as they may seem to be. Nothing is more ravishing to the proud, than to be thought happy.

The well-bred gentleman places his greatest pride in the skill he has of covering it with dexterity, and some are so expert in concealing this frailty, that when they are the most guilty of it, the vulgar think them the most exempt from it. Thus the dissembling courtier, when he appears in state, assumes an air of modesty and good humour; and while he is [72]ready to burst with vanity, seems to be wholly ignorant of his greatness; well knowing, that those lovely qualities must heighten him in the esteem of others, and be an addition to that grandeur, which the coronets about his coach and harnesses, with the rest of his equipage, cannot fail to proclaim without his assistance.

And as in these, pride is overlooked, because industriously concealed, so in others again, it is denied that they have any, when they show (or at least seem to show) it in the most public manner. The wealthy parson being, as well as the rest of his profession, debarred from the gaiety of laymen, makes it his business to look out for an admirable black, and the finest cloth that money can purchase, and distinguishes himself by the fullness of his noble and spotless garment; his wigs are as fashionable as that form he is forced to comply with will admit of; but as he is only stinted in their shape, so he takes care that for goodness of hair, and colour, few noblemen shall be able to match him; his body is ever clean, as well as his clothes, his sleek face is kept constantly shaved, and his handsome nails are diligently pared; his smooth white hand, and a brilliant of the first water, mutually becoming, honour each other with double graces; what linen he discovers is transparently curious, and he scorns ever to be seen abroad with a worse beaver than what a rich banker would be proud of on his wedding-day; to all these niceties in dress he adds a majestic gait, and expresses a commanding loftiness in his carriage; yet common civility, notwithstanding, the evidence of so many concurring symptoms, will not allow us to suspect any of his actions to be the result of pride: considering the dignity of his office, it is only decency in him, what would be vanity in others; and in good manners to his calling we ought to believe, that the worthy gentleman, without any regard to his reverend person, puts himself to all this trouble and expence, merely out of a respect which is due to the divine order he belongs to, and a religious zeal to preserve his holy function from the contempt of scoffers. With all my heart; nothing of all this shall be called pride, let me only be allowed to say, that to our human capacities it looks very like it.

But if at last I should grant, that there are men who enjoy all the fineries of equipage and furniture, as well as clothes, and yet have no pride in them; it is certain, that if all should be such, that emulation I spoke of before must [73]cease, and consequently trade, which has so great a dependence upon it, suffer in every branch. For to say, that if all men were truly virtuous, they might, without any regard to themselves, consume as much out of zeal to serve their neighbours and promote the public good, as they do now out of self-love and emulation, is a miserable shift, and an unreasonable supposition. As there have been good people in all ages, so, without doubt, we are not destitute of them in this; but let us inquire of the periwig-makers and tailors, in what gentlemen, even of the greatest wealth and highest quality, they ever could discover such public-spirited views. Ask the lacemen, the mercers, and the linen-drapers, whether the richest, and if you will, the most virtuous ladies, if they buy with ready money, or intend to pay in any reasonable time, will not drive from shop to shop, to try the market, make as many words, and stand as hard with them to save a groat or sixpence in a yard, as the most necessitous jilts in town. If it be urged, that if there are not, it is possible there might be such people; I answer that it is as possible that cats, instead of killing rats and mice, should feed them, and go about the house to suckle and nurse their young ones; or that a kite should call the hens to their meat, as the cock does, and sit brooding over their chickens instead of devouring them; but if they should all do so, they would cease to be cats and kites; it is inconsistent with their natures, and the species of creatures which now we mean, when we name cats and kites, would be extinct as soon as that could come to pass.


Line 183. Envy itself, and vanity,

Were ministers of industry.

Envy is that baseness in our nature, which makes us grieve and pine at what we conceive to be a happiness in others. I do not believe there is a human creature in his senses arrived to maturity, that at one time or other has not been carried away by this passion in good earnest; and yet I never met with any one that dared own he was guilty of it, but in jest. That we are so generally ashamed of this vice, is owing to that strong habit of hypocrisy, by the help of which, we have learned from our cradle to hide even from ourselves the vast extent of self-love, and all its different branches. It is impossible man should wish better for another than he [74]does for himself, unless where he supposes an impossibility that himself should attain to those wishes; and from hence we may easily learn after what manner this passion is raised in us. In order to it, we are to consider first, that as well as we think of ourselves, so ill we think of our neighbour with equal injustice; and when we apprehend, that others do or will enjoy what we think they do not deserve, it afflicts and makes us angry with the cause of that disturbance. Secondly, That we are employed in wishing well for ourselves, every one according to his judgment and inclinations, and when we observe something we like, and yet are destitute of, in the possession of others; it occasions first sorrow in us for not having the thing we like. This sorrow is incurable, while we continue our esteem for the thing we want: but as self-defence is restless, and never suffers us to leave any means untried how to remove evil from us, as far and as well as we are able; experience teaches us, that nothing in nature more alleviates this sorrow, than our anger against those who are possessed of what we esteem and want. This latter passion, therefore, we cherish and cultivate to save or relieve ourselves, at least in part, from the uneasiness we felt from the first.

Envy, then, is a compound of grief and anger; the degrees of this passion depend chiefly on the nearness or remoteness of the objects, as to circumstances. If one, who is forced to walk on foot envies a great man for keeping a coach and six, it will never be with that violence, or give him that disturbance which it may to a man, who keeps a coach himself, but can only afford to drive with four horses. The symptoms of envy are as various, and as hard to describe, as those of the plague; at some time it appears in one shape, at others in another quite different. Among the fair, the disease is very common, and the signs of it very conspicuous in their opinions and censures of one another. In beautiful young women, you may often discover this faculty to a high degree; they frequently will hate one another mortally at first sight, from no other principle than envy; and you may read this scorn, and unreasonable aversion, in their very countenances, if they have not a great deal of art, and well learned to dissemble.

In the rude and unpolished multitude, this passion is very bare-faced; especially when they envy others for the goods of fortune: They rail at their betters, rip up their faults, and [75]take pains to misconstrue their most commendable actions: They murmur at Providence, and loudly complain, that the good things of this world are chiefly enjoyed by those who do not deserve them. The grosser sort of them it often affects so violently, that if they were not withheld by the fear of the laws, they would go directly and beat those their envy is levelled at, from no other provocation than what that passion suggests to them.

The men of letters, labouring under this distemper, discover quite different symptoms. When they envy a person for his parts and erudition, their chief care is industriously to conceal their frailty, which generally is attempted by denying and depreciating the good qualities they envy: They carefully peruse his works, and are displeased with every fine passage they meet with; they look for nothing but his errors, and wish for no greater feast than a gross mistake: In their censures they are captious, as well as severe, make mountains of mole-hills, and will not pardon the least shadow of a fault, but exaggerate the most trifling omission into a capital blunder.

Envy is visible in brute-beasts; horses show it in their endeavours of outstripping one another; and the best spirited will run themselves to death, before they will suffer another before them. In dogs, this passion is likewise plainly to be seen, those who are used to be caressed will never tamely bear that felicity in others. I have seen a lap-dog that would choke himself with victuals, rather than leave any thing for a competitor of his own kind; and we may often observe the same behaviour in those creatures which we daily see in infants that are froward, and by being over-fondled made humoursome. If out of caprice they at any time refuse to eat what they have asked for, and we can but make them believe that some body else, nay, even the cat or the dog is going to take it from them, they will make an end of their oughts with pleasure, and feed even against their appetite.

If envy was not rivetted in human nature, it would not be so common in children, and youth would not be so generally spurred on by emulation. Those who would derive every thing that is beneficial to the society from a good principle, ascribe the effects of emulation in school-boys to a virtue of the mind; as it requires labour and pains, so it is evident, that they commit a self-denial, who act from that disposition; but if we look narrowly into it, we shall find, that this sacrifice [76]of ease and pleasure is only made to envy, and the love of glory. If there was not something very like this passion, mixed with that pretended virtue, it would be impossible to raise and increase it by the same means that create envy. The boy, who receives a reward for the superiority of his performance, is conscious of the vexation it would have been to him, if he should have fallen short of it: This reflection makes him exert himself, not to be outdone by those whom he looks upon as his inferiors, and the greater his pride is, the more self-denial he will practise to maintain his conquest. The other, who, in spite of the pains he took to do well, has missed of the prize, is sorry, and consequently angry with him whom he must look upon as the cause of his grief: But to show this anger, would be ridiculous, and of no service to him, so that he must either be contented to be less esteemed than the other boy; or, by renewing his endeavours, become a greater proficient: and it is ten to one, but the disinterested, good-humoured, and peaceable lad, will choose the first, and so become indolent and inactive, while the covetous, peevish, and quarrelsome rascal, shall take incredible pains, and make himself a conqueror in his turn.

Envy, as it is very common among painters, so it is of great use for their improvement: I do not mean, that little dawbers envy great masters, but most of them are tainted with this vice against those immediately above them. If the pupil of a famous artist is of a bright genius, and uncommon application, he first adores his master; but as his own skill increases, he begins insensibly to envy what he admired before. To learn the nature of this passion, and that it consists in what I have named, we are but to observe, that, if a painter, by exerting himself, comes not only to equal, but to exceed the man he envied, his sorrow is gone, and all his anger disarmed; and if he hated him before, he is now glad to be friends with him, if the other will condescend to it.

Married women, who are guilty of this vice, which few are not, are always endeavouring to raise the same passion in their spouses; and where they have prevailed, envy and emulation have kept more men in bounds, and reformed more ill husbands from sloth, from drinking, and other evil courses, than all the sermons that have been preached since the time of the Apostles.

As every body would be happy, enjoy pleasure, and, [77]avoid pain, if he could, so self-love bids us look on every creature that seems satisfied, as a rival in happiness; and the satisfaction we have in seeing that felicity disturbed, without any advantage to ourselves, but what springs from the pleasure we have in beholding it, is called loving mischief for mischief’s sake; and the motive of which that frailty is the result, malice, another offspring derived from the same original; for if there was no envy, there could be no malice. When the passions lie dormant, we have no apprehension of them, and often people think they have not such a frailty in their nature, because that moment they are not affected with it.

A gentleman well dressed, who happens to be dirtied all over by a coach or a cart, is laughed at, and by his inferiors much more than his equals, because they envy him more: they know he is vexed at it, and, imagining him to be happier than themselves, they are glad to see him meet with displeasures in his turn! But a young lady, if she be in a serious mood, instead of laughing at, pities him, because a clean man is a sight she takes delight in, and there is no room for envy. At disasters, we either laugh, or pity those that befal them, according to the stock we are possessed of either malice or compassion. If a man falls or hurts himself so slightly, that it moves not the latter, we laugh, and here our pity and malice shake us alternately: Indeed, Sir, I am very sorry for it, I beg your pardon for laughing, I am the silliest creature in the world, then laugh again; and again, I am indeed very sorry, and so on. Some are so malicious, they would laugh if a man broke his leg, and others are so compassionate, that they can heartily pity a man for the least spot in his clothes; but nobody is so savage that no compassion can touch him, nor any man so good-natured, as never to be affected with any malicious pleasure. How strangely our passions govern us! We envy a man for being rich, and then perfectly hate him: But if we come to be his equals, we are calm, and the least condescension in him makes us friends; but if we become visibly superior to him, we can pity his misfortunes. The reason why men of true good sense envy less than others, is because they admire themselves with less hesitation than fools and silly people; for, though they do not show this to others, yet the solidity of their thinking gives them an assurance of their real worth, [78]which men of weak understanding can never feel within, though they often counterfeit it.

The ostracism of the Greeks was a sacrifice of valuable men made to epidemic envy, and often applied as an infallible remedy to cure and prevent the mischiefs of popular spleen and rancour. A victim of state often appeases the murmurs of a whole nation, and after-ages frequently wonder at barbarities of this nature, which, under the same circumstances, they would have committed themselves. They are compliments to the people’s malice, which is never better gratified, than when they can see a great man humbled. We believe that we love justice, and to see merit rewarded; but if men continue long in the first posts of honour, half of us grow weary of them, look for their faults, and, if we can find none, we suppose they hide them, and it is much if the greatest part of us do not wish them discarded. This foul play, the best of men ought ever to apprehend from all who are not their immediate friends or acquaintance, because nothing is more tiresome to us, than the repetition of praises we have no manner of share in.

The more a passion is a compound of many others, the more difficult it is to define it; and the more it is tormenting to those that labour under it, the greater cruelty it is capable of inspiring them with against others: Therefore nothing is more whimsical or mischievous than jealousy, which is made up of love, hope, fear, and a great deal of envy: The last has been sufficiently treated of already; and what I have to say of fear, the reader will find under Remark on l. 321. So that the better to explain and illustrate this odd mixture, the ingredients I shall further speak of in this place, are hope and love.

Hoping is wishing with some degree of confidence, that the thing wished for will come to pass. The firmness and imbecility of our hope depend entirely on the greater or lesser degree of our confidence, and all hope includes doubt; for when our confidence is arrived to that height, as to exclude all doubts, it becomes a certainty, and we take for granted what we only hoped for before. A silver inkhorn may pass in speech, because every body knows what we mean by it, but a certain hope cannot: For a man who makes use of an epithet that destroys the essence of the substantive he joins it to, can have no meaning at all; and the more clearly we understand the force of the epithet, and the [79]nature of the substantive, the more palpable is the nonsense of the heterogeneous compound. The reason, therefore, why it is not so shocking to some to hear a man speak of certain hope, as if he should talk of hot ice, or liquid oak, is not because there is less nonsense contained in the first, than there is in either of the latter; but because the word hope, I mean the essence of it, is not so clearly understood by the generality of the people, as the words and essence of ice and oak are.

Love, in the first place, signifies affection, such as parents and nurses bear to children, and friends to one another; it consists in a liking and well-wishing to the person beloved. We give an easy construction to his words and actions, and feel a proneness to excuse and forgive his faults, if we see any; his interest we make on all accounts our own, even to our prejudice, and receive an inward satisfaction for sympathising with him in his sorrows, as well as joys. What I said last is not impossible, whatever it may seem to be; for, when we are sincere in sharing with one another in his misfortunes, self-love makes us believe, that the sufferings we feel must alleviate and lessen those of our friend; and while this fond reflection is soothing our pain, a secret pleasure arises from our grieving for the person we love.

Secondly, by love we understand a strong inclination, in its nature distinct from all other affections of friendship, gratitude, and consanguinity, that persons of different sexes, after liking, bear to one another: it is in this signification, that love enters into the compound of jealousy, and is the effect as well as happy disguise of that passion that prompts us to labour for the preservation of our species. This latter appetite is innate both in men and women, who are not defective in their formation, as much as hunger or thirst, though they are seldom affected with it before the years of puberty. Could we undress nature, and pry into her deepest recesses, we should discover the seeds of this passion before it exerts itself, as plainly as we see the teeth in an embryo, before the gums are formed. There are few healthy people of either sex, whom it has made no impression on before twenty: yet, as the peace and happiness of the civil society require that this should be kept a secret, never to be talked of in public; so, among well-bred people, it is counted highly criminal to mention, before company, any thing in plain words, that is, relating to this mystery of succession: by which means, [80]the very name of the appetite, though the most necessary for the continuance of mankind, is become odious, and the proper epithets commonly joined to lust, are filthy and abominable.

This impulse of nature in people of strict morals, and rigid modesty, often disturbs the body for a considerable time before it is understood or known to be what it is, and it is remarkable, that the most polished, and best instructed, are generally the most ignorant as to this affair; and here I can but observe the difference between man in the wild state of nature, and the same creature in the civil society. In the first, men and women, if left rude and untaught in the sciences of modes and manners, would quickly find out the cause of that disturbance, and be at a loss no more than other animals for a present remedy: besides, that it is not probable they would want either precept or example from the more experienced. But, in the second, where the rules of religion, law, and decency, are to be followed, and obeyed, before any dictates of nature, the youth of both sexes are to be armed and fortified against this impulse, and from their infancy artfully frightened from the most remote approaches of it. The appetite itself, and all the symptoms of it, though they are plainly felt and understood, are to be stifled with care and severity, and, in women, flatly disowned, and if there be occasion, with obstinacy denied, even when themselves are affected by them. If it throws them into distempers, they must be cured by physic, or else patiently bear them in silence; and it is the interest of the society to preserve decency and politeness; that women should linger, waste, and die, rather than relieve themselves in an unlawful manner; and among the fashionable part of mankind, the people of birth and fortune, it is expected that matrimony should never be entered upon without a curious regard to family, estate, and reputation, and, in the making of matches, the call of nature be the very last consideration.

Those, then, who would make love and lust synonymous, confound the effect with the cause of it: yet such is the force of education, and a habit of thinking, as we are taught, that sometimes persons of either sex are actually in love without feeling any carnal desires, or penetrating into the intentions of nature, the end proposed by her, without which they could never have been affected with that sort of passion. That there are such is certain, but many more whose pretences [81]to those refined notions are only upheld by art and dissimulation. Those, who are really such Platonic lovers, are commonly the pale-faced weakly people, of cold and phlegmatic constitutions in either sex; the hale and robust, of bilious temperament, and a sanguine complexion, never entertain any love so spiritual as to exclude all thoughts and wishes that relate to the body; but if the most seraphic lovers would know the original of their inclination, let them but suppose that another should have the corporal enjoyment of the person beloved, and by the tortures they will suffer from that reflection they will soon discover the nature of their passions: whereas, on the contrary, parents and friends receive a satisfaction in reflecting on the joys and comforts of a happy marriage, to be tasted by those they wish well to.

The curious, that are skilled in anatomizing the invisible part of man, will observe that the more sublime and exempt this love is from all thoughts of sensuality, the more spurious it is, and the more it degenerates from its honest original and primitive simplicity. The power and sagacity as well as labour and care of the politician in civilizing the society, has been no where more conspicuous, than in the happy contrivance of playing our passions against one another. By flattering our pride, and still increasing the good opinion we have of ourselves on the one hand, and inspiring us on the other with a superlative dread and mortal aversion against shame, the artful moralists have taught us cheerfully to encounter ourselves, and if not subdue, at least, so to conceal and disguise our darling passion, lust, that we scarce know it when we meet with it in our breasts: Oh! the mighty prize we have in view for all our self-denial! can any man be so serious as to abstain from laughter, when he considers, that for so much deceit and insincerity practiced upon ourselves as well as others, we have no other recompense than the vain satisfaction of making our species appear more exalted and remote from that of other animals, than it really is; and we, in our consciences, know it to be? yet this is fact, and in it we plainly perceive the reason why it was necessary to render odious every word or action by which we might discover the innate desire we feel to perpetuate our kind; and why tamely to submit to the violence of a furious appetite (which is painful to resist) and innocently to obey the most pressing demand of nature without guile or hypocrisy, [82]like other creatures, should be branded with the ignominious name of brutality.

What we call love, then, is not a genuine, but an adulterated appetite, or rather a compound, a heap of several contradictory passions blended in one. As it is a product of nature warped by custom and education, so the true origin and first motive of it, as I have hinted already, is stifled in well-bred people, and concealed from themselves: all which is the reason, that, as those affected with it, vary in age, strength, resolution, temper, circumstances, and manners, the effects of it are so different, whimsical, surprising, and unaccountable.

It is this passion that makes jealousy so troublesome, and the envy of it often so fatal: those who imagine that there may be jealousy without love, do not understand that passion. Men may not have the least affection for their wives, and yet be angry with them for their conduct, and suspicious of them either with or without a cause: but what in such cases affects them is their pride, the concern for their reputation. They feel a hatred against them without remorse; when they are outrageous, they can beat them and go to sleep contentedly: such husbands may watch their dames themselves, and have them observed by others; but their vigilance is not so intense; they are not so inquisitive or industrious in their searches, neither do they feel that anxiety of heart at the fear of a discovery, as when love is mixed with the passions.

What confirms me in this opinion is, that we never observe this behaviour between a man and his mistress; for when his love is gone and he suspects her to be false, he leaves her, and troubles his head no more about her: whereas, it is the greatest difficulty imaginable, even to a man of sense, to part with his mistress as long as he loves her, whatever faults she may be guilty of. If in his anger he strikes her, he is uneasy after it; his love makes him reflect on the hurt he has done her, and he wants to be reconciled to her again. He may talk of hating her, and many times from his heart wish her hanged, but if he cannot get entirely rid of his frailty, he can never disentangle himself from her: though she is represented in the most monstrous guilt to his imagination, and he has resolved and swore a thousand times never to come near her again, there is no trusting him, even when he is fully convinced of her infidelity, if his love continues, [83]his despair is never so lasting, but between the blackest fits of it he relents, and finds lucid intervals of hope; he forms excuses for her, thinks of pardoning, and in order to it racks his invention for possibilities that may make her appear less criminal.


Line 200. Real pleasures, comforts, ease.

That the highest good consisted in pleasure, was the doctrine of Epicurus, who yet led a life exemplary for continence, sobriety, and other virtues, which made people of the succeeding ages quarrel about the signification of pleasure. Those who argued from the temperance of the philosopher, said, That the delight Epicurus meant, was being virtuous; so Erasmus in his Colloquies tells us, that there are no greater Epicures than pious Christians. Others that reflected on the dissolute manners of the greatest part of his followers, would have it, that by pleasures he could have understood nothing but sensual ones, and the gratification of our passions. I shall not decide their quarrel, but am of opinion, that whether men be good or bad, what they take delight in is their pleasure; and not to look out for any further etymology from the learned languages, I believe an Englishman may justly call everything a pleasure that pleases him, and according to this definition, we ought to dispute no more about men’s pleasures than their tastes: Trahit sua quemque voluptas.

The worldly-minded, voluptuous, and ambitious man, notwithstanding he is void of merit, covets precedence every where, and desires to be dignified above his betters: he aims at spacious palaces, and delicious gardens; his chief delight is in excelling others in stately horses, magnificent coaches, a numerous attendance, and dear-bought furniture. To gratify his lust, he wishes for genteel, young, beautiful women of different charms and complexions, that shall adore his greatness, and be really in love with his person: his cellars he would have stored with the flower of every country that produces excellent wines: his tables he desires may be served with many courses, and each of them contain a choice variety of dainties not easily purchased, and ample evidences of elaborate and judicious cookery; while harmonious music, and well-couched flattery, entertain his hearing by turns. He employs [84]even in the meanest trifles, none but the ablest and most ingenious workmen, that his judgment and fancy may as evidently appear in the least things that belong to him as his wealth and quality are manifested in those of greater value. He desires to have several sets of witty, facetious, and polite people to converse with, and among them he would have some famous for learning and universal knowledge: for his serious affairs, he wishes to find men of parts and experience, that should be diligent and faithful. Those that are to wait on him he would have handy, mannerly, and discreet, of comely aspect, and a graceful mien: what he requires in them besides, is a respectful care of every thing that is his, nimbleness without hurry, dispatch without noise, and an unlimited obedience to his orders: nothing he thinks more troublesome than speaking to servants; wherefore he will only be attended by such, as by observing his looks have learned to interpret his will from the slightest motions. He loves to see an elegant nicety in every thing that approaches him, and in what is to be employed about his person, he desires a superlative cleanliness to be religiously observed. The chief officers of his household he would have to be men of birth, honour and distinction, as well as order, contrivance, and economy; for though he loves to be honoured by every body, and receives the respects of the common people with joy, yet the homage that is paid him by persons of quality is ravishing to him in a more transcendent manner.

While thus wallowing in a sea of lust and vanity, he is wholly employed in provoking and indulging his appetites, he desires the world should think him altogether free from pride and sensuality, and put a favourable construction upon his most glaring vices: nay, if his authority can purchase it, he covets to be thought wise, brave, generous, good-natured, and endued with the virtues he thinks worth having. He would have us believe that the pomp and luxury he is served with are as many tiresome plagues to him; and all the grandeur he appears in is an ungrateful burden, which, to his sorrow, is inseparable from the high sphere he moves in; that his noble mind, so much exalted above vulgar capacities, aims at higher ends, and cannot relish such worthless enjoyments; that the highest of his ambition is to promote the public welfare, and his greatest pleasure to see his country flourish, and every body in it made happy. These are called real pleasures by the vicious and earthly-minded, and whoever [85]is able, either by his skill or fortune, after this refined manner at once to enjoy the world, and the good opinion of it, is counted extremely happy by all the most fashionable part of the people.

But, on the other side, most of the ancient philosophers and grave moralists, especially the Stoics, would not allow any thing to be a real good that was liable to be taken from them by others. They wisely considered the instability of fortune, and the favour of princes; the vanity of honour, and popular applause; the precariousness of riches, and all earthly possessions; and therefore placed true happiness in the calm serenity of a contented mind, free from guilt and ambition; a mind that, having subdued every sensual appetite, despises the smiles as well as frowns of fortune, and taking no delight but in contemplation, desires nothing but what every body is able to give to himself: a mind that, armed with fortitude and resolution, has learned to sustain the greatest losses without concern, to endure pain without affliction, and to bear injuries without resentment. Many have owned themselves arrived to this height of self-denial, and then, if we may believe them, they were raised above common mortals, and their strength extended vastly beyond the pitch of their first nature: they could behold the anger of threatening tyrants and the most imminent dangers without terror, and preserved their tranquillity in the midst of torments: death itself they could meet with intrepidity, and left the world with no greater reluctance than they had showed fondness at their entrance into it.

These among the ancients have always bore the greatest sway; yet others that were no fools neither, have exploded those precepts as impracticable, called their notions romantic, and endeavoured to prove, that what these Stoics asserted of themselves, exceeded all human force and possibility; and that therefore the virtues they boasted of could be nothing but haughty pretence, full of arrogance and hypocrisy; yet notwithstanding these censures, the serious part of the world, and the generality of wise men that have lived ever since to this day, agree with the Stoics in the most material points; as that there can be no true felicity in what depends on things perishable; that peace within is the greatest blessing, and no conquest like that of our passions; that knowledge, temperance, fortitude, humility, and other embellishments of the mind are the most valuable acquisitions; that no man [86]can be happy but he that is good: and that the virtuous are only capable of enjoying real pleasures.

I expect to be asked, why in the fable I have called those pleasures real, that are directly opposite to those which I own the wise men of all ages have extolled as the most valuable? My answer is, because I do not call things pleasures which men say are best, but such as they seem to be most pleased with; how can I believe that a mans chief delight is in the embellishment of the mind, when I see him ever employed about, and daily pursue the pleasures that are contrary to them? John never cuts any pudding, but just enough that you cannot say he took none: this little bit, after much chomping and chewing, you see goes down with him like chopped hay; after that he falls upon the beef with a voracious appetite, and crams himself up to his throat. Is it not provoking, to hear John cry every day that pudding is all his delight, and that he does not value the beef of a farthing.

I could swagger about fortitude and the contempt of riches as much as Seneca himself, and would undertake to write twice as much in behalf of poverty as ever he did; for the tenth part of his estate, I could teach the way to his summum bonum as exactly as I know my way home: I could tell people to extricate themselves from all worldly engagements, and to purify the mind, they must divest themselves of their passions, as men take out the furniture when they would clean a room thoroughly; and I am clearly of the opinion, that the malice and most severe strokes of fortune, can do no more injury to a mind thus stripped of all fears, wishes, and inclinations, than a blind horse can do in an empty barn. In the theory of all this I am very perfect, but the practice is very difficult; and if you went about picking my pocket, offered to take the victuals from before me when I am hungry, or made but the least motion of spitting in my face, I dare not promise how philosophically I should behave myself. But that I am forced to submit to every caprice of my unruly nature, you will say, is no argument, that others are as little masters of theirs, and therefore, I am willing to pay adoration to virtue wherever I can meet with it, with a proviso that I shall not be obliged to admit any as such, where I can see no self-denial, or to judge of mens sentiments from their words, where I have their lives before me.

I have searched through every degree and station of men, and confess, that I have found no where more austerity of [87]manners, or greater contempt of earthly pleasures, than in some religious houses, where people freely resigning and retiring from the world to combat themselves, have no other business but subdue their appetites. What can be a greater evidence of perfect chastity, and a superlative love, to immaculate purity in men and women, than that in the prime of their age, when lust is most raging, they should actually seclude themselves from each others company, and by a voluntary renunciation debar themselves for life, not only from uncleanness, but even the most lawful embraces? those that abstain from flesh, and often all manner of food, one would think in the right way, to conquer all carnal desires; and I could almost swear, that he does not consult his ease, who daily mauls his bare back and shoulders with unconscionable stripes, and constantly roused at night from his sleep, leaves his bed for his devotion. Who can despise riches more, or show himself less avaricious than he, who will not so much as touch gold or silver, no not with his feet? Or can any mortal show himself less luxurious or more humble than the man, that making poverty his choice, contents himself with scraps and fragments, and refuses to eat any bread but what is bestowed upon him by the charity of others.

Such fair instances of self-denial, would make me bow down to virtue, if I was not deterred and warned from it by so many persons of eminence and learning, who unanimously tell me that I am mistaken, and all I have seen is farce and hypocrisy; that what seraphic love they may pretend to, there is nothing but discord among them; and that how penitential the nuns and friars may appear in their several convents, they none of them sacrifice their darling lusts: that among the women, they are not all virgins that pass for such, and that if I was to be let into their secrets, and examine some of their subterraneous privacies, I should soon be convinced by scenes of horror, that some of them must have been mothers. That among the men I should find calumny, envy, and ill nature, in the highest degree, or else gluttony, drunkenness, and impurities of a more execrable kind than adultery itself: and as for the mendicant orders, that they fer in nothing but their habits from other sturdy beggars, who deceive people with a pitiful tone, and an outward show of misery, and as soon as they are out of sight, lay by their cant, indulge their appetites, and enjoy one another.

If the strict rules, and so many outward signs of devotion [88]observed among those religious orders, deserve such harsh censures, we may well despair of meeting with virtue any where else; for if we look into the actions of the antagonists and greatest accusers of those votaries, we shall not find so much as the appearance of self-denial. The reverend divines of all sects, even of the most reformed churches in all countries, take care with the Cyclops Evangeliphorus first; ut ventri bene sit, and afterwards, ne quid desit iis quæ sub ventre sunt. To these they will desire you to add convenient houses, handsome furniture, good fires in winter, pleasant gardens in summer, neat clothes, and money enough to bring up their children; precedency in all companies, respect from every body, and then as much religion as you please. The things I have named are the necessary comforts of life, which the most modest are not ashamed to claim, and which they are very uneasy without. They are, it is true, made of the same mould, and have the same corrupt nature with other men, born with the same infirmities, subject to the same passions, and liable to the same temptations, and therefore if they are diligent in their calling, and can but abstain from murder, adultery, swearing, drunkenness, and other heinous vices, their lives are all called unblemished, and their reputations unspotted; their function renders them holy, and the gratification of so many carnal appetites, and the enjoyment of so much luxurious ease notwithstanding, they may set upon themselves what value their pride and parts will allow them.

All this I have nothing against, but I see no self-denial, without which there can be no virtue. Is it such a mortification not to desire a greater share of worldly blessings, than what every reasonable man ought to be satisfied with? Or, is there any mighty merit in not being flagitious, and forbearing indecencies that are repugnant to good manners, and which no prudent man would be guilty of, though he had no religion at all?

I know I shall be told, that the reason why the clergy are so violent in their resentments, when at any time they are but in the least affronted, and show themselves so void of all patience when their rights are invaded, is their great care to preserve their calling, their profession from contempt, not for their own sakes, but to be more serviceable to others. It is the same reason that makes them solicitous about the comforts and conveniences of life; for should they suffer themselves to be insulted over, be content with a coarser diet, and [89]wear more ordinary clothes than other people, the multitude, who judge from outward appearances, would be apt to think that the clergy was no more the immediate care of Providence than other folks, and so not only undervalue their persons, but despise likewise all the reproofs and instructions that came from them. This is an admirable plea, and as it is much made use of, I will try the worth of it.

I am not of the learned Dr. Echard’s opinion, that poverty is one of those things that bring the clergy into contempt, any further than as it may be an occasion of discovering their blind side: for when men are always struggling with their low condition, and are unable to bear the burden of it without reluctancy, it is then they show how uneasy their poverty sits upon them, how glad they would be to have their circumstances meliorated, and what a real value they have for the good things of this world. He that harangues on the contempt of riches, and the vanity of earthly enjoyments, in a rusty threadbare gown, because he has no other, and would wear his old greasy hat no longer if any body would give him a better; that drinks small beer at home with a heavy countenance, but leaps at a glass of wine if he can catch it abroad; that with little appetite feeds upon his own coarse mess, but falls to greedily where he can please his palate, and expresses an uncommon joy at an invitation to a splendid dinner: it is he that is despised, not because he is poor, but because he knows not how to be so, with that content and resignation which he preaches to others, and so discovers his inclinations to be contrary to his doctrine. But, when a man from the greatness of his soul (or an obstinate vanity, which will do as well) resolving to subdue his appetites in good earnest, refuses all the offers of ease and luxury that can be made to him, and embracing a voluntary poverty with cheerfulness, rejects whatever may gratify the senses, and actually sacrifices all his passions to his pride, in acting this part, the vulgar, far from contemning, will be ready to deify and adore him. How famous have the Cynic philosophers made themselves, only by refusing to dissimulate and make use of superfluities? Did not the most ambitious monarch the world ever bore, condescend to visit Diogenes in his tub, and return to a studied incivility, the highest compliment a man of his pride was able to make?

Mankind are very willing to take one another’s word, when they see some circumstances that corroborate what is told [90]them; but when our actions directly contradict what we say, it is counted impudence to desire belief. If a jolly hale fellow, with glowing cheeks and warm hands, newly returned from some smart exercise, or else the cold bath, tells us in frosty weather, that he cares not for the fire, we are easily induced to believe him, especially if he actually turns from it, and we know by his circumstances, that he wants neither fuel nor clothes: but if we should hear the same from the mouth of a poor starved wretch, with swelled hands, and a livid countenance, in a thin ragged garment, we should not believe a word of what he said, especially if we saw him shaking and shivering, creep toward the sunny bank; and we would conclude, let him say what he could, that warm clothes, and a good fire, would be very acceptable to him. The application is easy, and therefore if there be any clergy upon earth that would be thought not to care for the world, and to value the soul above the body, let them only forbear showing a greater concern for their sensual pleasures than they generally do for their spiritual ones, and they may rest satisfied, that no poverty, while they bear it with fortitude, will ever bring them into contempt, how mean soever their circumstances may be.

Let us suppose a pastor that has a little flock intrusted to him, of which he is very careful: He preaches, visits, exhorts, reproves among his people with zeal and prudence, and does them all the kind offices that lie in his power to make them happy. There is no doubt but those under his care must be very much obliged to him. Now, we shall suppose once more, that this good man, by the help of a little self-denial, is contented to live upon half his income, accepting only of twenty pounds a-year instead of forty, which he could claim; and moreover, that he loves his parishioners so well, that he will never leave them for any preferment whatever, no not a bishoprick, though it be offered. I cannot see but all this might be an easy task to a man who professes mortification, and has no value for worldly pleasures; yet such a disinterested divine, I dare promise, notwithstanding the degeneracy of mankind, will be loved, esteemed, and have every body’s good word; nay, I would swear, that though he should yet further exert himself, give above half of his small revenue to the poor, live upon nothing but oatmeal and water, lie upon straw, and wear the coarsest cloth that could be made, his mean way of living [91]would never be reflected on, or be a disparagement either to himself or the order he belonged to; but that on the contrary his poverty would never be mentioned but to his glory, as long as his memory should last.

But (says a charitable young gentlewoman) though you have the heart to starve your parson, have you no bowels of compassion for his wife and children? pray what must remain of forty pounds a year, after it has been twice so unmercifully split? or would you have the poor woman and the innocent babes likewise live upon oatmeal and water, and lie upon straw, you unconscionable wretch, with all your suppositions and self-denials; nay, is it possible, though they should all live at your own murdering rate, that less than ten pounds a-year could maintain a family?——Do not be in a passion, good Mrs. Abigail, I have a greater regard for your sex than to prescribe such a lean diet to married men; but I confess I forgot the wives and children: The main reason was, because I thought poor priests could have no occasion for them. Who could imagine, that the parson who is to teach others by example as well as precept, was not able to withstand those desires which the wicked world itself calls unreasonable? What is the reason when an apprentice marries before he is out of his time, that unless he meets with a good fortune, all his relations are angry with him, and every body blames him? Nothing else, but because at that time he has no money at his disposal, and being bound to his master’s service, has no leisure, and perhaps little capacity to provide for a family. What must we say to a parson that has twenty, or, if you will, forty pounds a-year, that being bound more strictly to all the services a parish and his duty require, has little time, and generally much less ability to get any more? Is it not very reasonable he should marry? But why should a sober young man, who is guilty of no vice, be debarred from lawful enjoyments? Right; marriage is lawful, and so is a coach; but what is that to people that have not money enough to keep one? If he must have a wife, let him look out for money, or wait for a greater benefice, or something else to maintain her handsomely, and bear all incident charges. But nobody that has any thing herself will have him, and he cannot stay: He has a very good stomach, and all the symptoms of health; it is not every body that can live without a woman; it is better to marry than burn.——What a world of self-denial [92]is here? The sober young man is very willing to be virtuous, but you must not cross his inclinations; he promises never to be a deer-stealer, upon condition that he shall have venison of his own, and no body must doubt, but that if it come to the push, he is qualified to suffer martyrdom, though he owns that he has not strength enough, patiently to bear a scratched finger.

When we see so many of the clergy, to indulge their lust, a brutish appetite, run themselves after this manner upon an inevitable poverty, which, unless they could bear it with greater fortitude, than they discover in all their actions, must of necessity make them contemptible to all the world, what credit must we give them, when they pretend that they conform themselves to the world, not because they take delight in the several decencies, conveniences, and ornaments of it, but only to preserve their function from contempt, in order to be more useful to others? Have we not reason to believe, that what they say is full of hypocrisy and falsehood, and that concupiscence is not the only appetite they want to gratify; that the haughty airs and quick sense of injuries, the curious elegance in dress, and niceness of palate, to be observed in most of them that are able to show them, are the results of pride and luxury in them, as they are in other people, and that the clergy are not possessed of more intrinsic virtue than any other profession?

I am afraid, by this time I have given many of my readers a real displeasure, by dwelling so long upon the reality of pleasure; but I cannot help it, there is one thing comes into my head to corroborate what I have urged already, which I cannot forbear mentioning: It is this: Those who govern others throughout the world, are at least as wise as the people that are governed by them, generally speaking: If, for this reason, we would take pattern from our superiors, we have but to cast our eyes on all the courts and governments in the universe, and we shall soon perceive from the actions of the great ones, which opinion they side with, and what pleasures those in the highest stations of all seem to be most fond of: For, if it be allowable at all to judge of people’s inclinations, from their manner of living, none can be less injured by it, than those who are the most at liberty to do as they please.

If the great ones of the clergy, as well as the laity of any country whatever, had no value for earthly pleasures, and did not endeavour to gratify their appetites, why are envy [93]and revenge so raging among them, and all the other passions improved and refined upon in courts of princes more than any where else, and why are their repasts, their recreations, and whole manner of living always such as are approved of, coveted, and imitated by the most sensual people of that same country? If despising all visible decorations they were only in love with the embellishments of the mind, why should they borrow so many of the implements, and make use of the most darling toys of the luxurious? Why should a lord treasurer, or a bishop, or even the grand signior, or the pope of Rome, to be good and virtuous, and endeavour the conquest of his passions, have occasion for greater revenues, richer furniture, or a more numerous attention, as to personal service, than a private man? What virtue is it the exercise of which requires so much pomp and superfluity, as are to be seen by all men in power? A man has as much opportunity to practise temperance, that has but one dish at a meal, as he that is constantly served with three courses, and a dozen dishes in each: One may exercise as much patience, and be as full of self-denial on a few flocks, without curtains or tester, as in a velvet bed that is sixteen foot high. The virtuous possessions of the mind are neither charge nor burden: A man may bear misfortunes with fortitude in a garret, forgive injuries a-foot, and be chaste, though he has not a shirt to his back: and therefore I shall never believe, but that an indifferent sculler, if he was intrusted with it, might carry all the learning and religion that one man can contain, as well as a barge with six oars, especially if it was but to cross from Lambeth to Westminster; or that humility is so ponderous a virtue, that it requires six horses to draw it.

To say that men not being so easily governed by their equals as by their superiors, it is necessary, that to keep the multitude in awe, those who rule over us should excel others in outward appearance, and consequently, that all in high stations should have badges of honour, and ensigns of power to be distinguished from the vulgar, is a frivolous objection. This, in the first place, can only be of use to poor princes, and weak and precarious governments, that being actually unable to maintain the public peace, are obliged with a pageant show to make up what they want in real power: so the governor of Batavia, in the East Indies, is forced to keep up a grandeur, and live in a magnificence above his quality, to strike a terror in the natives [94]of Java, who, if they had skill and conduct, are strong enough to destroy ten times the number of their masters; but great princes and states that keep large fleets at sea, and numerous armies in the field, have no occasion for such stratagems; for what makes them formidable abroad, will never fail to be their security at home. Secondly, what must protect the lives and wealth of people from the attempts of wicked men in all societies, is the severity of the laws, and diligent administration of impartial justice. Theft, house-breaking, and murder, are not to be prevented by the scarlet gowns of the aldermen, the gold chains of the sheriffs, the fine trappings of their horses, or any gaudy show whatever: Those pageant ornaments are beneficial another way; they are eloquent lectures to apprentices, and the use of them is to animate, not to deter: but men of abandoned principles must be awed by rugged officers, strong prisons, watchful jailors, the hangman, and the gallows. If London was to be one week destitute of constables and watchmen to guard the houses a-nights, half the bankers would be ruined in that time, and if my lord mayor had nothing to defend himself but his great two handed sword, the huge cap of maintenance, and his gilded mace, he would soon be stripped, in the very streets to the city, of all his finery in his stately coach.

But let us grant that the eyes of the mobility are to be dazzled with a gaudy outside; if virtue was the chief delight of great men, why should their extravagance be extended to things not understood by the mob, and wholly removed from public view, I mean their private diversions, the pomp and luxury of the dining-room and the bed-chamber, and the curiosities of the closet? few of the vulgar know that there is wine of a guinea the bottle, that birds, no bigger than larks, are often sold for half-a-guinea a-piece, or that a single picture may be worth several thousand pounds: besides, is it to be imagined, that unless it was to please their own appetites, men should put themselves to such vast expences for a political show, and be so solicitous to gain the esteem of those whom they so much despise in every thing else? if we allow that the splendor and all the elegancy of a court insipid, and only tiresome to the prince himself, and are altogether made use of to preserve royal majesty from contempt, can we say the same of half a dozen illegitimate children, most of them the offspring of adultery, by the same majesty, got, educated, and made princes at the expence of [95]the nation! therefore, it is evident, that this awing of the multitude, by a distinguished manner of living, is only a cloak and pretence, under which, great men would shelter their vanity, and indulge every appetite about them without reproach.

A burgomaster of Amsterdam, in his plain black suit, followed perhaps by one footman, is fully as much respected, and better obeyed, than a lord mayor of London, with all his splendid equipage, and great train of attendance. Where there is a real power, it is ridiculous to think that any temperance or austerity of life should ever render the person, in whom that power is lodged, contemptible in his office, from an emperor to the beadle of a parish. Cato, in his government of Spain, in which he acquitted himself with so much glory, had only three servants to attend him; do we hear that any of his orders were ever slighted for this, notwithstanding that he loved his bottle? and when that great man marched on foot through the scorching sands of Libya, and parched up with thirst, refused to touch the water that was brought him, before all his soldiers had drank, do we ever read that this heroic forbearance weakened his authority, or lessened him in the esteem of his army? but what need we go so far off? there has not, for these many ages, been a prince less inclined to pomp and luxury than the1 present king of Sweden, who, enamoured with the title of hero, has not only sacrificed the lives of his subjects, and welfare of his dominions, but (what is more uncommon in sovereigns) his own ease, and all the comforts of life, to an implacable spirit of revenge; yet he is obeyed to the ruin of his people, in obstinately maintaining a war that has almost utterly destroyed his kingdom.

Thus I have proved, that the real pleasures of all men in nature are worldly and sensual, if we judge from their practice; I say all men in nature, because devout Christians, who alone are to be excepted here, being regenerated, and preternaturally assisted by the Divine grace, cannot be said to be in nature. How strange it is, that they should all so unanimously deny it! ask not only the divines and moralists of every nation, but likewise all that are rich and powerful, about real pleasure, and they will tell you, with the Stoics, that there can be no true felicity in things mundane and [96]corruptible: but then look upon their lives, and you will find they take delight in no other.

What must we do in this dilemma? shall we be so uncharitable, as judging from mens actions, to say, that all the world prevaricates, and that this is not their opinion, let them talk what they will? or shall we be so silly, as relying on what they say, to think them sincere in their sentiments, and so not believe our own eyes? or shall we rather endeavour to believe ourselves and them too, and say with Montaigne, that they imagine, and are fully persuaded, that they believe what they do not believe? these are his words: “some impose on the world, and would be thought to believe what they really do not: but much the greater number impose upon themselves, not considering, nor thoroughly apprehending what it is to believe.” But this is making all mankind either fools or impostors, which, to avoid, there is nothing left us, but to say what Mr. Bayle has endeavoured to prove at large in his Reflections on Comets: “that man is so unaccountable a creature as to act most commonly against his principle;” and this is so far from being injurious, that it is a compliment to human nature, for we must see either this or worse.

This contradiction in the frame of man is the reason that the theory of virtue is so well understood, and the practice of it so rarely to be met with. If you ask me where to look for those beautiful shining qualities of prime ministers, and the great favourites of princes that are so finely painted in dedications, addresses, epitaphs, funeral sermons, and inscriptions, I answer, there, and no where else. Where would you look for the excellency of a statue, but in that part which you see of it? It is the polished outside only that has the skill and labour of the sculptor to boast of; what is out of sight is untouched. Would you break the head, or cut open the breast to look for the brains or the heart, you would only show your ignorance, and destroy the workmanship. This has often made me compare the virtues of great men to your large China jars: they make a fine show, and are ornamental even to a chimney; one would, by the bulk they appear in, and the value that is set upon them, think they might be very useful, but look into a thousand of them, and you will find nothing in them but dust and cobwebs. [97]


Line 201. ——The very poor

Liv’d better than the rich before.

If we trace the most flourishing nations in their origin, we shall find, that in the remote beginnings of every society, the richest and most considerable men among them were a great while destitute of a great many comforts of life that are now enjoyed by the meanest and most humble wretches: so that many things which were once looked upon as the invention of luxury, are now allowed, even to those that are so miserably poor as to become the objects of public charity, nay, counted so necessary, that we think no human creature ought to want them.

In the first ages, man, without doubt, fed on the fruits of the earth, without any previous preparation, and reposed himself naked like other animals on the lap of their common parent: whatever has contributed since to make life more comfortable, as it must have been the result of thought, experience, and some labour, so it more or less deserves the name of luxury, the more or less trouble it required, and deviated from the primitive simplicity. Our admiration is extended no farther than to what is new to us, and we all overlook the excellency of things we are used to, be they never so curious. A man would be laughed at, that should discover luxury in the plain dress of a poor creature, that walks along in a thick parish gown, and a coarse shirt underneath it; and yet what a number of people, how many different trades, and what a variety of skill and tools must be employed to have the most ordinary Yorkshire cloth? What depth of thought and ingenuity, what toil and labour, and what length of time must it have cost, before man could learn from a seed, to raise and prepare so useful a product as linen.

Must that society not be vainly curious, among whom this admirable commodity, after it is made, shall not be thought fit to be used even by the poorest of all, before it is brought to a perfect whiteness, which is not to be procured but by the assistance of all the elements, joined to a world of industry and patience? I have not done yet: can we reflect not only on the cost laid out upon this luxurious invention, but likewise on the little time the whiteness of it continues, in which part of its beauty consists, that every six or seven days at farthest it wants cleaning, and while it lasts is a continual [98]charge to the wearer; can we, I say, reflect on all this, and not think it an extravagant piece of nicety, that even those who receive alms of the parish, should not only have whole garments made of this operose manufacture, but likewise that as soon as they are soiled, to restore them to their pristine purity, they should make use of one of the most judicious as well as difficult compositions that chemistry can boast of; with which, dissolved in water by the help of fire, the most detersive, and yet innocent lixivium is prepared that human industry has hitherto been able to invent?

It is certain, time was that the things I speak of would have bore those lofty expressions, and in which every body would have reasoned after the same manner; but the age we live in would call a man fool, who should talk of extravagance and nicety, if he saw a poor woman, after having wore her crown cloth smock a whole week, wash it with a bit of stinking soap of a groat a pound.

The arts of brewing, and making bread, have by slow degrees been brought to the perfection they now are in, but to have invented them at once, and à priori, would have required more knowledge and a deeper insight into the nature of fermentation, than the greatest philosopher has hitherto been endowed with; yet the fruits of both are now enjoyed by the meanest of our species, and a starving wretch knows not how to make a more humble, or a more modest petition, than by asking for a bit of bread, or a draught of small beer.

Man has learned by experience, that nothing was softer than the small plumes and down of birds, and found that heaped together, they would by their elasticity, gently resist any incumbent weight, and heave up again of themselves as soon as the pressure is over. To make use of them to sleep upon was, no doubt, first invented to compliment the vanity as well as ease of the wealthy and potent; but they are long since become so common, that almost every body lies upon featherbeds, and to substitute flocks in the room of them is counted a miserable shift of the most necessitous. What a vast height must luxury have been arrived to, before it could be reckoned a hardship to repose upon the soft wool of animals!

From caves, huts, hovels, tents, and barracks, with which mankind took up at first, we are come to warm and well-wrought houses, and the meanest habitations to be seen in cities, are regular buildings, contrived by persons skilled in [99]proportions and architecture. If the ancient Britons and Gauls should come out of their graves, with what amazement would they gaze on the mighty structures every where raised for the poor! Should they behold the magnificence of a Chelsey-College, a Greenwich-Hospital, or what surpasses all them, a Des Invalides at Paris, and see the care, the plenty, the superfluities and pomp, which people that have no possessions at all are treated with in those stately palaces, those who were once the greatest and richest of the land would have reason to envy the most reduced of our species now.

Another piece of luxury the poor enjoy, that is not looked upon as such, and which there is no doubt but the wealthiest in a golden age would abstain from, is their making use of the flesh of animals to eat. In what concerns the fashions and manners of the ages men live in, they never examine into the real worth or merit of the cause, and generally judge of things not as their reason, but custom direct them. Time was when the funeral rites in the disposing of the dead, were performed by fire, and the cadavers of the greatest emperors were burnt to ashes. Then burying the corps in the ground was a funeral for slaves, or made a punishment for the worst of malefactors. Now nothing is decent or honourable but interring; and burning the body is reserved for crimes of the blackest dye. At some times we look upon trifles with horror, at other times we can behold enormities without concern. If we see a man walk with his hat on in a church, though out of service time, it shocks us; but if on a Sunday night we meet half a dozen fellows drunk in the street, the sight makes little or no impression upon us. If a woman at a merry-making dresses in man’s clothes, it is reckoned a frolic amongst friends, and he that finds too much fault with it is counted censorious: upon the stage it is done without reproach, and the most virtuous ladies will dispense with it in an actress, though every body has a full view of her legs and thighs; but if the same woman, as soon as she has petticoats on again, should show her leg to a man as high as her knee, it would be a very immodest action, and every body will call her impudent for it.

I have often thought, if it was not for this tyranny which custom usurps over us, that men of any tolerable good-nature could never be reconciled to the killing of so many animals, for their daily food, as long as the bountiful earth so plentifully [100]provides them with varieties of vegetable dainties. I know that reason excites our compassion but faintly, and therefore I would not wonder how men should so little commiserate such imperfect creatures as crayfish, oysters, cockles, and indeed all fish in general: as they are mute, and their inward formation, as well as outward figure, vastly different from ours, they express themselves unintelligibly to us, and therefore it is not strange that their grief should not affect our understanding which it cannot reach; for nothing stirs us to pity so effectually, as when the symptoms of misery strike immediately upon our senses, and I have seen people moved at the noise a live lobster makes upon the spit, that could have killed half a dozen fowls with pleasure. But in such perfect animals as sheep and oxen, in whom the heart, the brain and nerves differ so little from ours, and in whom the separation of the spirits from the blood, the organs of sense, and consequently feeling itself, are the same as they are in human creatures; I cannot imagine how a man not hardened in blood and massacre, is able to see a violent death, and the pangs of it, without concern.

In answer to this, most people will think it sufficient to say, that all things being allowed to be made for the service of man, there can be no cruelty in putting creatures to the use they were designed for; but I have heard men make this reply, while their nature within them has reproached them with the falsehood of the assertion. There is of all the multitude not one man in ten but what will own (if he was not brought up in a slaughter-house), that of all trades he could never have been a butcher; and I question whether ever any body so much as killed a chicken without reluctancy the first time. Some people are not to be persuaded to taste of any creatures they have daily seen and been acquainted with, while they were alive; others extend their scruple no further than to their own poultry, and refuse to eat what they fed and took care of themselves; yet all of them will feed heartily and without remorse on beef, mutton, and fowls, when they are bought in the market. In this behaviour, methinks, there appears something like a consciousness of guilt, it looks as if they endeavoured to save themselves from the imputation of a crime (which they know sticks somewhere) by removing the cause of it as far as they can from themselves; and I can discover in it some strong remains of primitive pity and innocence, which all the arbitrary power [101]of custom, and the violence of luxury, have not yet been able to conquer.

What I build upon I shall be told is a folly that wise men are not guilty of: I own it; but while it proceeds from a real passion inherent in our nature, it is sufficient to demonstrate, that we are born with a repugnancy to the killing, and consequently the eating of animals; for it is impossible that a natural appetite should ever prompt us to act, or desire others to do, what we have an aversion to, be it as foolish as it will.

Every body knows, that surgeons, in the cure of dangerous wounds and fractures, the extirpations of limbs, and other dreadful operations, are often compelled to put their patients to extraordinary torments, and that the more desperate and calamitous cases occur to them, the more the outcries and bodily sufferings of others must become familiar to them; for this reason, our English law, out of a most affectionate regard to the lives of the subject, allows them not to be of any jury upon life and death, as supposing that their practice itself is sufficient to harden and extinguish in them that tenderness, without which no man is capable of setting a true value upon the lives of his fellow-creatures. Now, if we ought to have no concern for what we do to brute beasts, and there was not imagined to be any cruelty in killing them, why should of all callings butchers, and only they, jointly with surgeons, be excluded from being jurymen by the same law?

I shall urge nothing of what Pythagoras and many other wise men have said concerning this barbarity of eating flesh; I have gone too much out of my way already, and shall therefore beg the reader, if he would have any more of this, to run over the following fable, or else, if he be tired, to let it alone, with an assurance that in doing of either he shall equally oblige me.

A Roman merchant, in one of the Carthaginian wars, was cast away upon the coast of Afric: himself and his slave with great difficulty got safe ashore; but going in quest of relief, were met by a lion of a mighty size. It happened to be one of the breed that ranged in Æsop’s days, and one that could not only speak several languages, but seemed, moreover, very well acquainted with human affairs. The slave got upon a tree, but his master not thinking himself safe there, and having heard much of the generosity of lions, fell down prostrate before [102]him, with all the signs of fear and submission. The lion who had lately filled his belly, bids him rise, and for a while lay by his fears, assuring him withal, that he should not be touched, if he could give him any tolerable reasons why he should not be devoured. The merchant obeyed; and having now received some glimmering hopes of safety, gave a dismal account of the shipwreck he had suffered, and endeavouring from thence to raise the lion’s pity, pleaded his cause with abundance of good rhetoric; but observing by the countenance of the beast, that flattery and fine words made very little impression, he betook himself to arguments of greater solidity, and reasoning from the excellency of man’s nature and abilities, remonstrated how improbable it was that the gods should not have designed him for a better use, than to be eat by savage beasts. Upon this the lion became more attentive, and vouchsafed now and then a reply, till at last the following dialogue ensued between them.

Oh vain and covetous animal (said the lion), whose pride and avarice can make him leave his native soil, where his natural wants might be plentifully supplied, and try rough seas and dangerous mountains to find out superfluities, why should you esteem your species above ours? And if the gods have given you a superiority over all creatures, then why beg you of an inferior? Our superiority (answered the merchant) consists not in bodily force, but strength of understanding; the gods have endued us with a rational soul, which, though invisible, is much the better part of us. I desire to touch nothing of you but what is good to eat; but why do you value yourself so much upon that part which is invisible? Because it is immortal, and shall meet with rewards after death for the actions of this life, and the just shall enjoy eternal bliss and tranquillity with the heroes and demi-gods in the Elysian fields. What life have you led? I have honoured the gods, and studied to be beneficial to man. Then why do you fear death, if you think the gods as just as you have been? I have a wife and five small children that must come to want if they lose me. I have two whelps that are not big enough to shift for themselves, that are in want now, and must actually be starved if I can provide nothing for them: Your children will be provided for one way or other; at least as well when I have eat you, as if you had been drowned.

As to the excellency of either species, the value of things [103]among you has ever increased with the scarcity of them, and to a million of men there is hardly one lion; besides that, in the great veneration man pretends to have for his kind, there is little sincerity farther than it concerns the share which every one’s pride has in it for himself; it is a folly to boast of the tenderness shown, and attendance given to your young ones, or the excessive and lasting trouble bestowed in the education of them: Man being born the most necessitous and most helpless animal, this is only an instinct of nature, which, in all creatures, has ever proportioned the care of the parents to the wants and imbecilities of the offspring. But if a man had a real value for his kind, how is it possible that often ten thousand of them, and sometimes ten times as many, should be destroyed in few hours, for the caprice of two? All degrees of men despise those that are inferior to them, and if you could enter into the hearts of kings and princes, you would hardly find any but what have less value for the greatest part of the multitudes they rule over, than those have for the cattle that belong to them. Why should so many pretend to derive their race, though but spuriously, from the immortal gods; why should all of them suffer others to kneel down before them, and more or less take delight in having divine honours paid them, but to insinuate that themselves are of a more exalted nature, and a species superior to that of their subjects?

Savage I am, but no creature can be called cruel, but what either by malice or insensibility extinguishes his natural pity: The lion was born without compassion; we follow the instinct of our nature; the gods have appointed us to live upon the waste and spoil of other animals, and as long as we can meet with dead ones, we never hunt after the living. It is only man, mischievous man, that can make death a sport. Nature taught your stomach to crave nothing but vegetables; but your violent fondness to change, and great eagerness after novelties, have prompted you to the destruction of animals without justice or necessity, perverted your nature, and warped your appetites which way soever your pride or luxury have called them. The lion has a ferment within him that consumes the toughest skin and hardest bones, as well as the flesh of all animals without exception: Your squeamish stomach, in which the digestive heat is weak and inconsiderable, will not so much as admit of the most tender parts of them, unless above half the concoction [104]has been performed by artificial fire before hand; and yet what animal have you spared to satisfy the caprices of a languid appetite? Languid I say; for what is man’s hunger, if compared to the lion’s? Yours, when it is at the worst, makes you faint, mine makes me mad: Oft have I tried with roots and herbs to allay the violence of it, but in vain; nothing but large quantities of flesh can anywise appease it.

Yet the fierceness of our hunger notwithstanding, lions have often requited benefits received; but ungrateful and perfidious man feeds on the sheep that clothes him, and spares not her innocent young ones, whom he has taken into his care and custody. If you tell me the gods made man master over all other creatures, what tyranny was it then to destroy them out of wantonness? No, fickle, timorous animal, the gods have made you for society, and designed that millions of you, when well joined together, should compose the strong Leviathan. A single lion bears some sway in the creation, but what is single man? A small and inconsiderable part, a trifling atom of one great beast. What nature designs, she executes; and it is not safe to judge of what she purposed, but from the effects she shows: If she had intended that man, as man from a superiority of species, should lord it over all other animals, the tiger, nay, the whale and eagle would have obeyed his voice.

But if your wit and understanding exceeds ours, ought not the lion, in deference to that superiority, to follow the maxims of men, with whom nothing is more sacred, than that the reason of the strongest is ever the most prevalent? Whole multitudes of you have conspired and compassed the destruction of one, after they had owned the gods had made him their superior; and one has often ruined and cut off whole multitudes, whom, by the same gods, he had sworn to defend and maintain. Man never acknowledged superiority without power, and why should I? The excellence I boast of is visible, all animals tremble at the sight of the lion, not out of panic fear. The gods have given me swiftness to overtake, and strength to conquer whatever comes near me. Where is there a creature that has teeth and claws like mine, behold the thickness of these massy jaw-bones, consider the width of them, and feel the firmness of this brawny neck. The nimblest deer, the wildest boar, the stoutest horse, and [105]strongest bull, are my prey wherever I meet them. Thus spoke the lion, and the merchant fainted away.

The lion, in my opinion, has stretched the point too far; yet, when to soften the flesh of male animals, we have by castration prevented the firmness their tendons, and every fibre would have come to, without it, I confess, I think it ought to move a human creature, when he reflects upon the cruel care with which they are fattened for destruction. When a large and gentle bullock, after having resisted a ten times greater force of blows than would have killed his murderer, falls stunned at last, and his armed head is fastened to the ground with cords; as soon as the wide wound is made, and the jugulars are cut asunder, what mortal can, without compassion, hear the painful bellowings intercepted by his blood, the bitter sighs that speak the sharpness of his anguish, and the deep sounding groans, with loud anxiety, fetched from the bottom of his strong and palpitating heart; look on the trembling and violent convulsions of his limbs; see, while his reeking gore streams from him, his eyes become dim and languid, and behold his strugglings, gasps, and last efforts for life, the certain signs of his approaching fate? When a creature has given such convincing and undeniable proofs of the terrors upon him, and the pains and agonies he feels, is there a follower of Descartes so inured to blood, as not to refute, by his commiseration, the philosophy of that vain reasoner?


Line 307. ——For frugally

They now liv’d ’on their salary.

When people have small comings in, and are honest withal, it is then that the generality of them begin to be frugal, and not before. Frugality in ethics is called that virtue, from the principle of which men abstain from superfluities, and, despising the operose contrivances of art to procure either ease or pleasure, content themselves with the natural simplicity of things, and are carefully temperate in the enjoyment of them, without any tincture of covetousness. Frugality thus limited, is perhaps scarcer than many may imagine; but what is generally understood by it, is a quality more often to be met with, and consists in a medium between profuseness and avarice, rather leaning to the latter. As this prudent economy, which some people call saving [106]is in private families the most certain method to increase an estate. So some imagine, that whether a country be barren or fruitful, the same method, if generally pursued (which they think practicable), will have the same effect upon a whole nation, and that, for example, the English might be much richer than they are, if they would be as frugal as some of their neighbours. This, I think, is an error, which to prove, I shall first refer the reader to what has been said upon this head in Remark on l. 180. and then go on thus.

Experience teaches us first, that as people differ in their views and perceptions of things, so they vary in their inclinations; one man is given to covetousness, another to prodigality, and a third is only saving. Secondly, that men are never, or at least very seldom, reclaimed from their darling passions, either by reason or precept, and that if any thing ever draws them from what they are naturally propense to, it must be a change in their circumstances or their fortunes. If we reflect upon these observations, we shall find, that to render the generality of a nation lavish, the product of the country must be considerable, in proportion to the inhabitants, and what they are profuse of cheap; that, on the contrary, to make a nation generally frugal, the necessaries of life must be scarce, and consequently dear; and that, therefore, let the best politician do what he can, the profuseness or frugality of a people in general, must always depend upon, and will, in spite of his teeth, be ever proportioned to the fruitfulness and product of the country, the number of inhabitants, and the taxes they are to bear. If any body would refute what I have said, let them only prove from history, that there ever was in any country a national frugality without a national necessity.

Let us examine then what things are requisite to aggrandize and enrich a nation. The first desirable blessings for any society of men, are a fertile soil, and a happy climate, a mild government, and more land than people. These things will render man easy, loving, honest, and sincere. In this condition they may be as virtuous as they can, without the least injury to the public, and consequently as happy as they please themselves. But they shall have no arts or sciences, or be quiet longer than their neighbours will let them; they must be poor, ignorant, and almost wholly destitute of what we call the comforts of life, and all the cardinal virtues together would not so much as procure a tolerable coat [107]or a porridge-pot among them: for in this state of slothful ease and stupid innocence, as you need not fear great vices, so you must not expect any considerable virtues. Man never exerts himself but when he is roused by his desires: while they lie dormant, and there is nothing to raise them, his excellence and abilities will be for ever undiscovered, and the lumpish machine, without the influence of his passions, may be justly compared to a huge wind-mill without a breath of air.

Would you render a society of men strong and powerful, you must touch their passions. Divide the land, though there be never so much to spare, and their possessions will make them covetous: rouse them, though but in jest, from their idleness with praises, and pride will set them to work in earnest: teach them trades and handicrafts, and you will bring envy and emulation among them: to increase their numbers, set up a variety of manufactures, and leave no ground uncultivated; let property be inviolably secured, and privileges equal to all men; suffer nobody to act but what is lawful, and every body to think what he pleases; for a country where every body may be maintained that will be employed, and the other maxims are observed, must always be thronged, and can never want people, as long as there is any in the world. Would you have them bold and warlike, turn to military discipline, make good use of their fear, and flatter their vanity with art and assiduity: but would you, moreover, render them an opulent, knowing, and polite nation, teach them commerce with foreign countries, and, if possible, get into the sea, which to compass spare no labour nor industry, and let no difficulty deter you from it; then promote navigation, cherish the merchant, and encourage trade in every branch of it; this will bring riches, and where they are, arts and sciences will soon follow: and by the help of what I have named and good management, it is that politicians can make a people potent, renowned, and flourishing.

But would you have a frugal and honest society, the best policy is to preserve men in their native simplicity, strive not to increase their numbers; let them never be acquainted with strangers or superfluities, but remove, and keep from them every thing that might raise their desires, or improve their understanding. [108]

Great wealth, and foreign treasure, will ever scorn to come among men, unless you will admit their inseparable companions, avarice and luxury: where trade is considerable, fraud will intrude. To be at once well-bred and sincere, is no less than a contradiction; and, therefore, while man advances in knowledge, and his manners are polished, we must expect to see, at the same time, his desires enlarged, his appetites refined, and his vices increased.

The Dutch may ascribe their present grandeur to the virtue and frugality of their ancestors as they please; but what made that contemptible spot of ground so considerable among the principal powers of Europe, has been their political wisdom in postponing every thing to merchandise and navigation, the unlimited liberty of conscience that is enjoyed among them, and the unwearied application with which they have always made use of the most effectual means to encourage and increase trade in general.

They never were noted for frugality before Philip II. of Spain began to rage over them with that unheard of tyranny. Their laws were trampled upon, their rights and large immunities taken from them, and their constitution torn to pieces. Several of their chief nobles were condemned and executed without legal form of process. Complaints and remonstrances were punished as severely as resistance, and those that escaped being massacred, were plundered by ravenous soldiers. As this was intolerable to a people that had always been used to the mildest of governments, and enjoyed greater privileges than any of the neighbouring nations, so they chose rather to die in arms than perish by cruel executioners. If we consider the strength Spain had then, and the low circumstances those distressed states were in, there never was heard of a more unequal strife; yet, such was their fortitude and resolution, that only seven of those provinces, uniting themselves together, maintained against the greatest and best disciplined nation in Europe, the most tedious and bloody war, that is to be met with in ancient or modern history.

Rather than to become a victim to the Spanish fury, they were contented to live upon a third part of their revenues, and lay out far the greatest part of their income in defending themselves against their merciless enemies. These hardships and calamities of a war within their bowels, first put them upon that extraordinary frugality; and the continuance under the same difficulties for above fourscore years, [109]could not but render it customary and habitual to them. But all their arts of saving, and penurious way of living, could never have enabled them to make head against so potent an enemy, if their industry in promoting their fishery and navigation in general, had not helped to supply the natural wants and disadvantages they laboured under.

The country is so small and so populous, that there is not land enough (though hardly an inch of it is unimproved) to feed the tenth part of the inhabitants. Holland itself is full of large rivers, and lies lower than the sea, which would run over it every tide, and wash it away in one winter, if it was not kept out by vast banks and huge walls: the repairs of those, as well as their sluices, quays, mills, and other necessaries they are forced to make use of to keep themselves from being drowned, are a greater expence to them, one year with another, than could be raised by a general land tax of four shillings in the pound, if to be deducted from the neat produce of the landlord’s revenue.

Is it a wonder, that people, under such circumstances, and loaden with greater taxes, besides, than any other nation, should be obliged to be saving? but why must they be a pattern to others, who, besides, that they are more happily situated, are much richer within themselves, and have, to the same number of people, above ten times the extent of ground? The Dutch and we often buy and sell at the same markets, and so far our views may be said to be the same: otherwise the interests and political reasons of the two nations, as to the private economy of either, are very different. It is their interest to be frugal, and spend little; because they must have every thing from abroad, except butter, cheese, and fish, and therefore of them, especially the latter, they consume three times the quantity, which the same number of people do here. It is our interest to eat plenty of beef and mutton to maintain the farmer, and further improve our land, of which we have enough to feed ourselves, and as many more, if it was better cultivated. The Dutch perhaps have more shipping, and more ready money than we, but then those are only to be considered as the tools they work with. So a carrier may have more horses than a man of ten times his worth, and a banker that has not above fifteen or sixteen hundred pounds in the world, may have generally more ready cash by him, than a gentleman of two thousand a-year. He that keeps three or four stage-coaches to get his bread, is to a gentleman that keeps [110]a coach for his pleasure, what the Dutch are in comparison to us; having nothing of their own but fish, they are carriers and freighters to the rest of the world, while the basis of our trade chiefly depends upon our own product.

Another instance, that what makes the bulk of the people saving, are heavy taxes, scarcity of land, and such things that occasion a dearth of provisions, may be given from what is observable among the Dutch themselves. In the province of Holland there is a vast trade, and an unconceivable treasure of money. The land is almost as rich as dung itself, and (as I have said once already) not an inch of it unimproved. In Gelderland, and Overyssel, there is hardly any trade, and very little money: the soil is very indifferent, and abundance of ground lies waste. Then, what is the reason that the same Dutch, in the two latter provinces, though poorer than the first, are yet less stingy and more hospitable? Nothing but that their taxes in most things are less extravagant, and in proportion to the number of people, they have a great deal more ground. What they save in Holland, they save out of their bellies; it is eatables, drinkables, and fuel, that their heaviest taxes are upon, but they wear better clothes, and have richer furniture, than you will find in the other provinces.

Those that are frugal by principle, are so in every thing; but in Holland the people are only sparing in such things as are daily wanted, and soon consumed; in what is lasting they are quite otherwise: in pictures and marble they are profuse; in their buildings and gardens they are extravagant to folly. In other countries, you may meet with stately courts and palaces of great extent, that belong to princes, which nobody can expect in a commonwealth, where so much equality is observed as there is in this; but in all Europe you shall find no private buildings so sumptuously magnificent, as a great many of the merchants and other gentlemen’s houses are in Amsterdam, and some other great cities of that small province; and the generality of those that build there, lay out a greater proportion of their estates on houses they dwell in, than any people upon the earth.

The nation I speak of was never in greater straits, nor their affairs in a more dismal posture since they were a republic, than in the year 1671, and the beginning of 1672. What we know of their economy and constitution with any certainty, has been chiefly owing to Sir William Temple, whose [111]observations upon their manners and government, it is evident from several passages in his memoirs, were made about that time. The Dutch, indeed, were then very frugal; but since those days, and that their calamities have not been so pressing (though the common people, on whom the principal burden of all excises and impositions lies, are perhaps much as they were), a great alteration has been made among the better sort of people in their equipages, entertainments, and whole manner of living.

Those who would have it, that the frugality of that nation flows not so much from necessity, as a general aversion to vice and luxury, will put us in mind of their public administration, and smallness of salaries, their prudence in bargaining for, and buying stores and other necessaries, the great care they take not to be imposed upon by those that serve them, and their severity against them that break their contracts. But what they would ascribe to the virtue and honesty of ministers, is wholly due to their strict regulations, concerning the management of the public treasure, from which their admirable form of government will not suffer them to depart; and indeed one good man may take another’s word, if they so agree, but a whole nation ought never to trust to any honesty, but what is built upon necessity; for unhappy is the people, and their constitution will be ever precarious, whose welfare must depend upon the virtues and consciences of ministers and politicians.

The Dutch generally endeavour to promote as much frugality among their subjects as it is possible, not because it is a virtue, but because it is, generally speaking, their interest, as I have shown before; for, as this latter changes, so they alter their maxims, as will be plain in the following instance.

As soon as their East India ships come home, the Company pays off the men, and many of them receive the greatest part of what they have been earning in seven or eight, or some fifteen or sixteen years time. These poor fellows are encouraged to spend their money with all profuseness imaginable; and considering that most of them, when they set out first, were reprobates, that under the tuition of a strict discipline, and a miserable diet, have been so long kept at hard labour without money, in the midst of danger, it cannot be difficult to make them lavish, as soon as they have plenty.

They squander away in wine, women, and music, as much [112]as people of their taste and education are well capable of, and are suffered (so they but abstain from doing of mischief), to revel and riot with greater licentiousness than is customary to be allowed to others. You may in some cities see them accompanied with three or four lewd women, few of them sober, run roaring through the streets by broad day-light with a fiddler before them: And if the money, to their thinking, goes not fast enough these ways, they will find out others, and sometimes fling it among the mob by handfuls. This madness continues in most of them while they have any thing left, which never lasts long, and for this reason, by a nick-name, they are called, Lords of six Weeks, that being generally the time by which the Company has other ships ready to depart; where these infatuated wretches (their money being gone) are forced to enter themselves again, and may have leisure to repent their folly.

In this stratagem there is a double policy: First, if the sailors that have been inured to the hot climates and unwholesome air and diet, should be frugal, and stay in their own country, the Company would be continually obliged to employ fresh men, of which (besides that they are not so fit for their business), hardly one in two ever lives in some places of the East Indies, which often would prove great charge as well as disappointment to them. The second is, that the large sums so often distributed among those sailors, are by this means made immediately to circulate throughout the country, from whence, by heavy excises, and other impositions, the greatest part of it is soon drawn back into the public treasure.

To convince the champions for national frugality by another argument, that what they urge is impracticable, we will suppose that I am mistaken in every thing which in Remark, l. 180, I have said in behalf of luxury, and the necessity of it to maintain trade: after that let us examine what a general frugality, if it was by art and management to be forced upon people whether they have occasion for it or not, would produce in such a nation as ours. We will grant, then, that all the people in Great Britain shall consume but four-fifths of what they do now, and so lay by one-fifth part of their income; I shall not speak of what influence this would have upon almost every trade, as well as the farmer, the grazier, and the landlord, but favourably suppose (what is yet impossible), that the same work shall be done, and consequently [113]the same handicrafts be employed as there are now. The consequence would be, that unless money should all at once fall prodigiously in value, and every thing else, contrary to reason, grow very dear, at the five years end all the working people, and the poorest of labourers (for I would not meddle with any of the rest), would be worth in ready cash as much as they now spend in a whole year; which, by the bye, would be more money than ever the nation had at once.

Let us now, overjoyed with this increase of wealth, take a view of the condition the working people would be in, and, reasoning from experience, and what we daily observe of them, judge what their behaviour would be in such a case. Every body knows that there is a vast number of journeymen weavers, tailors, clothworkers, and twenty other handicrafts, who, if by four days labour in a week they can maintain themselves, will hardly be persuaded to work the fifth; and that there are thousands of labouring men of all sorts, who will, though they can hardly subsist, put themselves to fifty inconveniences, disoblige their masters, pinch their bellies, and run in debt to make holidays. When men show such an extraordinary proclivity to idleness and pleasure, what reason have we to think that they would ever work, unless they were obliged to it by immediate necessity? When we see an artificer that cannot be drove to his work before Tuesday, because the Monday morning he has two shillings left of his last week’s pay; why should we imagine he would go to it at all, if he had fifteen or twenty pounds in his pocket?

What would, at this rate, become of our manufactures? If the merchant would send cloth abroad, he must make it himself, for the clothier cannot get one man out of twelve that used to work for him. If what I speak of was only to befal the journeymen shoemakers, and nobody else, in less than a twelvemonth, half of us would go barefoot. The chief and most pressing use there is for money in a nation, is to pay the labour of the poor, and when there is a real scarcity of it, those who have a great many workmen to pay, will always feel it first; yet notwithstanding this great necessity of coin, it would be easier, where property was well secured, to live without money, than without poor; for who would do the work? For this reason the quantity of circulating coin in a country, ought always to be proportioned to the number of [114]hands that are employed; and the wages of labourers to the price of provisions. From whence it is demonstrable, that whatever procures plenty, makes labourers cheap, where the poor are well managed; who as they ought to be kept from starving, so they should receive nothing worth saving. If here and there one of the lowest class by uncommon industry, and pinching his belly, lifts himself above the condition he was brought up in, nobody ought to hinder him; nay, it is undeniably the wisest course for every person in the society, and for every private family to be frugal; but it is the interest of all rich nations, that the greatest part of the poor should almost never be idle, and yet continually spend what they get.

All men, as Sir William Temple observes very well, are more prone to ease and pleasure than they are to labour, when they are not prompted to it by pride and avarice, and those that get their living by their daily labour, are seldom powerfully influenced by either: so that they have nothing to stir them up to be serviceable but their wants, which it is prudence to relieve, but folly to cure. The only thing, then, that can render the labouring man industrious, is a moderate quantity of money; for as too little will, according as his temper is, either dispirit or make him desperate, so too much will make him insolent and lazy.

A man would be laughed at by most people, who should maintain that too much money could undo a nation: yet this has been the fate of Spain; to this the learned Don Diego Savedra ascribes the ruin of his country. The fruits of the earth in former ages had made Spain so rich, that King Lewis XI. of France being come to the court of Toledo, was astonished at its splendour, and said, that he had never seen any thing to be compared to it, either in Europe or Asia; he that in his travels to the Holy Land had run through every province of them. In the kingdom of Castile alone (if we may believe some writers), there were for the holy war, from all parts of the world got together one hundred thousand foot, ten thousand horse, and sixty thousand carriages for baggage, which Alonso III. maintained at his own charge, and paid every day, as well soldiers as officers and princes, every one according to his rank and dignity: nay, down to the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella (who equipped Columbus), and some time after, Spain was a fertile country, where trade and manufactures flourished, and had a [115]knowing industrious people to boast of. But as soon as that mighty treasure, that was obtained with more hazard and cruelty than the world until then had known, and which to come at, by the Spaniard’s own confession, had cost the lives of twenty millions of Indians; as soon, I say, as that ocean of treasure came rolling in upon them, it took away their senses, and their industry forsook them. The farmer left his plough, the mechanic his tools, the merchant his compting-house, and every body scorning to work, took his pleasure and turned gentleman. They thought they had reason to value themselves above all their neighbours, and now nothing but the conquest of the world would serve them.

The consequence of this has been, that other nations have supplied what their own sloth and pride denied them; and when every body saw, that notwithstanding all the prohibitions the government could make against the exportation of bullion, the Spaniard would part with his money, and bring it you aboard himself at the hazard of his neck, all the world endeavoured to work for Spain. Gold and silver being by this means yearly divided and shared among all the trading countries, have made all things dear, and most nations of Europe industrious, except their owners, who, ever since their mighty acquisitions, sit with their arms across, and wait every year with impatience and anxiety, the arrival of their revenues from abroad, to pay others for what they have spent already: and thus by too much money, the making of colonies and other mismanagements, of which it was the occasion, Spain is, from a fruitful and well-peopled country, with all its mighty titles and possessions, made a barren and empty thoroughfare through which gold and silver pass from America to the rest of the world; and the nation, from a rich, acute, diligent, and laborious, become a slow, idle, proud, and beggarly people: So much for Spain. The next country where money is called the product, is Portugal, and the figure which that kingdom with all its gold makes in Europe, I think is not much to be envied.

The great art then to make a nation happy, and what we call flourishing, consists in giving every body an opportunity of being employed; which to compass, let a government’s first care be to promote as great a variety of manufactures, arts, and handicrafts, as human wit can invent; and the second, to encourage agriculture and fishery in all their branches, that the whole earth may be forced to exert itself [116]as well as man; for as the one is an infallible maxim to draw vast multitudes of people into a nation, so the other is the only method to maintain them.

It is from this policy, and not the trifling regulations of lavishness and frugality (which will ever take their own course, according to the circumstances of the people), that the greatness and felicity of nations must be expected; for let the value of gold and silver either rise or fall, the enjoyment of all societies will ever depend upon the fruits of the earth, and the labour of the people; both which joined together are a more certain, a more inexhaustible, and a more real treasure, than the gold of Brazil, or the silver of Potosi.


Line 321. No honour now, &c.

Honour, in its figurative sense, is a chimera without truth or being, an invention of moralists and politicians, and signifies a certain principle of virtue not related to religion, found in some men that keeps them close to their duty and engagements whatever they be; as for example, a man of honour enters into a conspiracy with others to murder a king; he is obliged to go thorough stitch with it; and if overcome by remorse or good nature, he startles at the enormity of his purpose, discovers the plot, and turns a witness against his accomplices, he then forfeits his honour, at least among the party he belonged to. The excellency of this principle is, that the vulgar are destitute of it, and it is only to be met with in people of the better sort, as some oranges have kernels, and others not, though the outside be the same. In great families it is like the gout, generally counted hereditary, and all the lords children are born with it. In some that never felt any thing of it, it is acquired by conversation and reading (especially of romances), in others by preferment; but there is nothing that encourages the growth of it more than a sword, and upon the first wearing of one, some people have felt considerable shoots of it in four and twenty hours.

The chief and most important care a man of honour ought to have, is the preservation of this principle, and rather than forfeit it, he must lose his employments and estate, nay, life itself; for which reason, whatever humility he may show by way of good-breeding, he is allowed to put an inestimable value upon himself, as a possessor of this invisible ornament. [117]The only method to preserve this principle, is to live up to the rules of honour, which are laws he is to walk by: himself is obliged always to be faithful to his trust, to prefer the public interest to his own, not to tell lies, nor defraud or wrong any body, and from others to suffer no affront, which is a term of art for every action designedly done to undervalue him.

The men of ancient honour, of which I reckon Don Quixote to have been the last upon record, were very nice observers of all these laws, and a great many more than I have named; but the moderns seem to be more remiss: they have a profound veneration for the last of them, but they pay not an equal obedience to any of the other; and whoever will but strictly comply with that I hint at, shall have abundance of trespasses against all the rest connived at.

A man of honour is always counted impartial, and a man of sense of course; for nobody never heard of a man of honour that was a fool: for this reason, he has nothing to do with the law, and is always allowed to be a judge in his own case; and if the least injury be done either to himself or his friend, his relation, his servant, his dog, or any thing which he is pleased to take under his honourable protection, satisfaction must be forthwith demanded; and if it proves an affront, and he that gave it like wise a man of honour, a battle must ensue. From all this it is evident, that a man of honour must be possessed of courage, and that without it his other principle would be no more than a sword without a point. Let us, therefore, examine what courage consists in, and whether it be, as most people will have it, a real something that valiant men have in their nature distinct from all their other qualities or not.

There is nothing so universally sincere upon earth, as the love which all creatures, that are capable of any, bear to themselves; and as there is no love but what implies a care to preserve the thing beloved, so there is nothing more sincere in any creature than his will, wishes, and endeavours, to preserve himself. This is the law of nature, by which no creature is endued with any appetite or passion, but what either directly or indirectly tends to the preservation either of himself or his species.

The means by which nature obliges every creature continually to stir in this business of self-preservation, are grafted in him, and, in man, called desires, which either compel [118]him to crave what he thinks will sustain or please him, or command him to avoid what he imagines might displease, hurt, or destroy him. These desires or passions have all their different symptoms by which they manifest themselves to those they disturb, and from that variety of disturbances they make within us, their various denominations have been given them, as has been shown already in pride and shame.

The passion that is raised in us when we apprehend that mischief is approaching us, is called fear: the disturbance it makes within us is always more or less violent in proportion, not of the danger, but our apprehension of the mischief dreaded, whether real or imaginary. Our fear then being always proportioned to the apprehension we have of the danger, it follows, that while that apprehension lasts, a man can no more shake off his fear than he can a leg or an arm. In a fright, it is true, the apprehension of danger is so sudden, and attacks us so lively (as sometimes to take away reason and senses), that when it is over we often do not remember we had any apprehension at all; but, from the event, it is plain we had it, for how could we have been frightened if we had not apprehended that some evil or other was coming upon us?

Most people are of opinion, that this apprehension is to be conquered by reason, but I confess I am not: Those that have been frightened will tell you, that as soon as they could recollect themselves, that is, make use of their reason, their apprehension was conquered. But this is no conquest at all, for in a fright the danger was either altogether imaginary, or else it is past by that time they can make use of their reason; and therefore if they find there is no danger, it is no wonder that they should not apprehend any: but, when the danger is permanent, let them then make use of their reason, and they will find that it may serve them to examine the greatness and reality of the danger, and that, if they find it less than they imagined, the apprehension will be lessened accordingly; but, if the danger proves real, and the same in every circumstance as they took it to be at first, then their reason, instead of diminishing, will rather increase their apprehension. While this fear lasts, no creature can fight offensively; and yet we see brutes daily fight obstinately, and worry one another to death; so that some other passion must be able to overcome this fear, and the most contrary to it is [119]anger: which, to trace to the bottom, I must beg leave to make another digression.

No creature can subsist without food, nor any species of them (I speak of the more perfect animals) continue long unless young ones are continually born as fast as the old ones die. Therefore the first and fiercest appetite that nature has given them is hunger, the next is lust; the one prompting them to procreate, as the other bids them eat. Now, if we observe that anger is that passion which is raised in us when we are crossed or disturbed in our desires, and that, as it sums up all the strength in creatures, so it was given them, that by it they might exert themselves more vigorously in endeavouring to remove, overcome, or destroy whatever obstructs them in the pursuit of self preservation; we shall find that brutes, unless themselves or what they love, or the liberty of either are threatened or attacked, have nothing worth notice that can move them to anger, but hunger or lust. It is they that make them more fierce, for we must observe, that the appetites of creatures are as actually crossed, while they want and cannot meet with what they desire (though perhaps with less violence) as when hindered from enjoying what they have in view. What I have said will appear more plainly, if we but mind what nobody can be ignorant of, which is this: all creatures upon earth live either upon the fruits and product of it, or else the flesh of other animals, their fellow-creatures. The latter, which we call beasts of prey, nature has armed accordingly, and given them weapons and strength to overcome and tear asunder those whom she has designed for their food, and likewise a much keener appetite than to other animals that live upon herbs, &c. For, as to the first, if a cow loved mutton as well as she does grass, being made as she is, and having no claws or talons, and but one row of teeth before, that are all of an equal length, she would be starved even among a flock of sheep. Secondly, as to their voraciousness, if experience did not teach us, our reason might: in the first place, it is highly probable, that the hunger which can make a creature fatigue, harass and expose himself to danger for every bit he eats, is more piercing than that which only bids him eat what stands before him, and which he may have for stooping down. In the second, it is to be considered, that as beasts of prey have an instinct by which they learn to crave, trace, and discover those creatures [120]that are good food for them; so the others have likewise an instinct that teaches them to shun, conceal themselves, and run away from those that hunt after them: from hence it must follow, that beasts of prey, though they could almost eat forever, go yet more often with empty bellies than other creatures, whose victuals neither fly from nor oppose them. This must perpetuate as well as increase their hunger, which hereby becomes a constant fuel to their anger.

If you ask me what stirs up this anger in bulls and cocks that will fight to death, and yet are neither animals of prey, nor very voracious, I answer, lust. Those creatures, whose rage proceeds from hunger, both male and female, attack every thing they can master, and fight obstinately against all: But the animals, whose fury is provoked by a venereal ferment, being generally males, exert themselves chiefly against other males of the same species. They may do mischief by chance to other creatures; but the main objects of their hatred are their rivals, and it is against them only that their prowess and fortitude are shown. We see likewise in all those creatures, of which the male is able to satisfy a great number of females, a more considerable superiority in the male, expressed by nature in his make and features, as well as fierceness, than is observed in other creatures, where the male is contented with one or two females. Dogs, though become domestic animals, are ravenous to a proverb, and those of them that will fight being carnivorous, would soon become beasts of prey, if not fed by us; what we may observe in them is an ample proof of what I have hitherto advanced. Those of a true fighting breed, being voracious creatures, both male and female, will fasten upon any thing, and suffer themselves to be killed before they give over. As the female is rather more salacious than the male; so there is no difference in their make at all, what distinguishes the sexes excepted, and the female is rather the fiercest of the two. A bull is a terrible creature when he is kept up, but where he has twenty or more cows to range among, in a little time he will become as tame as any of them, and a dozen hens will spoil the best game cock in England. Harts and deers are counted chaste and timorous creatures, and so indeed they are almost all the year long, except in rutting time, and then on a sudden they become bold to admiration, and often make at the keepers themselves.

That the influence of those two principal appetites, hunger and lust, upon the temper of animals, is not so whimsical [121]as some may imagine, may be partly demonstrated from what is observable in ourselves; for, though our hunger is infinitely less violent than that of wolves and other ravenous creatures, yet we see that people who are in health, and have a tolerable stomach, are more fretful, and sooner put out of humour for trifles when they stay for their victuals beyond their usual hours, than at any other time. And again, though lust in man is not so raging as it is in bulls, and other salacious creatures, yet nothing provokes men and women both sooner, and more violently to anger, than what crosses their amours, when they are heartily in love; and the most fearful and tenderly educated of either sex, have slighted the greatest dangers, and set aside all other considerations, to compass the destruction of a rival.

Hitherto I have endeavoured to demonstrate, that no creature can fight offensively as long as his fear lasts; that fear cannot be conquered but by another passion; that the most contrary to it, and most effectual to overcome it, is anger; that the two principal appetites which, disappointed, can stir up this last-named passion, are hunger and lust, and that, in all brute beasts, the proneness to anger and obstinacy in fighting, generally depend upon the violence of either or both those appetites together: From whence it must follow, that what we call prowess, or natural courage in creatures, is nothing but the effect of anger, and that all fierce animals must be either very ravenous, or very lustful, if not both.

Let us now examine what by this rule we ought to judge of our own species. From the tenderness of man’s skin, and the great care that is required for years together to rear him; from the make of his jaws, the evenness of his teeth, the breadth of his nails, and the slightness of both, it is not probable that nature should have designed him for rapine; for this reason his hunger is not voracious as it is in beasts of prey; neither is he so salacious as other animals that are called so, and being besides very industrious to supply his wants, he can have no reigning appetite to perpetuate his anger, and must consequently be a timorous animal.

What I have said last must only be understood of man in his savage state; for, if we examine him as a member of a society, and a taught animal, we shall find him quite another creature: As soon as his pride has room to play, and envy, avarice, and ambition begin to catch hold of him, he is roused from his natural innocence and stupidity. As his [122]knowledge increases, his desires are enlarged, and consequently his wants and appetites are multiplied: Hence it must follow, that he will often be crossed in the pursuit of them, and meet with abundance more disappointment to stir up his anger in this than his former condition, and man would in a little time become the most hurtful and obnoxious creature in the world, if let alone, whenever he could over-power his adversary, if he had no mischief to fear but from the person that angered him.

The first care, therefore, of all governments is, by severe punishments to curb his anger when it does hurt, and so, by increasing his fears, prevent the mischief it might produce. When various laws to restrain him from using force are strictly executed, self-preservation must teach him to be peaceable; and, as it is every body’s business to be as little disturbed as is possible, his fears will be continually augmented and enlarged as he advances in experience, understanding, and foresight. The consequence of this must be, that as the provocations he will receive to anger will be infinite in the civilized state, so his fears to damp it will be the same, and thus, in a little time, he will be taught by his fears to destroy his anger, and by art to consult, in an opposite method, the same self-preservation for which nature before had furnished him with anger, as well as the rest of his passions.

The only useful passion, then, that man is possessed of toward the peace and quiet of a society, is his fear, and the more you work upon it the more orderly and governable he will be; for how useful soever anger may be to man, as he is a single creature by himself, yet the society has no manner of occasion for it: But nature being always the same, in the formation of animals, produces all creatures as like to those that beget and bear them, as the place she forms them in, and the various influences from without, will give her leave; and consequently all men, whether they are born in courts or forests, are susceptible of anger. When this passion overcomes (as among all degrees of people it sometimes does) the whole set of fears man has, he has true courage, and will fight as boldly as a lion or a tiger, and at no other time; and I shall endeavour to prove, that whatever is called courage in man, when he is not angry, is spurious and artificial.

It is possible, by good government, to keep a society always quiet in itself, but nobody can ensure peace from without [123]for ever. The society may have occasion to extend their limits further, and enlarge their territories, or others may invade theirs, or something else will happen that man must be brought to fight; for how civilized soever men may be, they never forget that force goes beyond reason: The politician now must alter his measures, and take off some of man’s fears; he must strive to persuade him, that all what was told him before of the barbarity of killing men ceases, as soon as these men are enemies to the public, and that their adversaries are neither so good nor so strong as themselves. These things well managed will seldom fail of drawing the hardiest, the most quarrelsome, and the most mischievous into combat; but unless they are better qualified, I will not answer for their behaviour there: If once you can make them undervalue their enemies, you may soon stir them up to anger, and while that lasts they will fight with greater obstinacy than any disciplined troops: But if any thing happens that was unforeseen, and a sudden great noise, a tempest, or any strange or uncommon accident that seems to threaten them, intervenes, fear seizes them, disarms their anger, and makes them run away to a man.

This natural courage, therefore, as soon as people begin to have more wit, must be soon exploded. In the first place, those that have felt the smart of the enemy’s blows, will not always believe what is said to undervalue him, and are often not easily provoked to anger. Secondly, anger consisting in an ebullition of the spirits, is a passion of no long continuance (ira furor brevis est), and the enemies, if they withstand the first shock of these angry people, have commonly the better of it. Thirdly, as long as people are angry, all counsel and discipline are lost upon them, and they can never be brought to use art or conduct in their battles. Anger then, without which no creature has natural courage, being altogether useless in a war to be managed by stratagem, and brought into a regular art, the government must find out an equivalent for courage that will make men fight.

Whoever would civilize men, and establish them into a body politic, must be thoroughly acquainted with all the passions and appetites, strength and weaknesses of their frame, and understand how to turn their greatest frailties to the advantage of the public. In the Inquiry into the Origin of Moral Virtue, I have shown how easily men were induced [124]to believe any thing that is said in their praise. If, therefore, a lawgiver or politician, whom they have a great veneration for, should tell them, that the generality of men had within them a principle of valour distinct from anger, or any other passion, that made them to despise danger, and face death itself with intrepidity, and that they who had the most of it were the most valuable of their kind, it is very likely, considering what has been said, that most of them, though they felt nothing of this principle, would swallow it for truth, and that the proudest, feeling themselves moved at this piece of flattery, and not well versed in distinguishing the passions, might imagine that they felt it heaving in their breasts, by mistaking pride for courage. If but one in ten can be persuaded openly to declare, that he is possessed of this principle, and maintain it against all gainsayers, there will soon be half a dozen that shall assert the same. Whoever has once owned it is engaged, the politician has nothing to do but to take all imaginable care to flatter the pride of those that brag of, and are willing to stand by it a thousand different ways: The same pride that drew him in first will ever after oblige him to defend the assertion, till at last the fear of discovering the reality of his heart, comes to be so great, that it outdoes the fear of death itself. Do but increase man’s pride, and his fear of shame will ever be proportioned to it: for the greater value a man sets upon himself, the more pains he will take, and the greater hardships he will undergo, to avoid shame.

The great art to make man courageous, is first to make him own this principle of valour within, and afterwards to inspire him with as much horror against shame, as nature has given him against death; and that there are things to which man has, or may have, a stronger aversion than he has to death, is evident from suicide. He that makes death his choice, must look upon it as less terrible than what he shuns by it; for whether the evil dreaded be present or to come, real or imaginary, nobody would kill himself wilfully but to avoid something. Lucretia held out bravely against all the attacks of the ravisher, even when he threatened her life; which shows that she valued her virtue beyond it: but when he threatened her reputation with eternal infamy, she fairly surrendered, and then slew herself; a certain sign that she valued her virtue less than her glory, and her life less than either. The fear of death did not make her yield, for she [125]resolved to die before she did it, and her compliance must only be considered as a bribe, to make Tarquin forbear sullying her reputation; so that life had neither the first nor second place in the esteem of Lucretia. The courage, then, which is only useful to the body politic, and what is generally called true valour, is artificial, and consists in a superlative horror against shame, by flattery infused into men of exalted pride.

As soon as the notions of honour and shame are received among a society, it is not difficult to make men fight. First, take care they are persuaded of the justice of their cause; for no man fights heartily that thinks himself in the wrong; then show them that their altars, their possessions, wives, children, and every thing that is near and dear to them, is concerned in the present quarrel, or at least may be influenced by it hereafter; then put feathers in their caps, and distinguish them from others, talk of public-spiritedness, the love of their country, facing an enemy with intrepidity, despising death the bed of honour, and such like high-sounding words, and every proud man will take up arms and fight himself to death before we will turn tail, if it be by daylight. One man in an army is a check upon another, and a hundred of them, that single and without witness, would be all cowards, are, for fear of incurring one another’s contempt, made valiant by being together. To continue and heighten this artificial courage, all that run away ought to be punished with ignominy; those that fought well, whether they did beat or were beaten, must be flattered and solemnly commended; those that lost their limbs rewarded; and those that were killed, ought, above all to be taken notice of, artfully lamented, and to have extraordinary encomiums bestowed upon them; for to pay honours to the dead, will ever be a sure method to make bubbles of the living.

When I say, that the courage made use of in the wars is artificial, I do not imagine that by the same art, all men may be made equally valiant: as men have not an equal share of pride, and differ from one another in shape and inward structure, it is impossible they should be all equally fit for the same uses. Some men will never be able to learn music, and yet make good mathematicians; others will play excellently well upon the violin, and yet be coxcombs as long as they live, let them converse with whom they please. But to show that there is no evasion, I shall prove, that setting aside [126]what I said of artificial courage already, what the greatest heroe differs in from the rankest coward, is altogether corporeal, and depends upon the inward make of man. What I mean is called constitution; by which is understood the orderly or disorderly mixture of the fluids in our body: that constitution which favours courage, consists in the natural strength, elasticity, and due contexture of the finer spirits, and upon them wholly depends what we call stedfastness, resolution, and obstinacy. It is the only ingredient that is common to natural and artificial bravery, and is to either what size is to white walls, which hinders them from coming off, and makes them lasting. That some people are very much, others very little frightened at things that are strange and sudden to them, is likewise altogether owing to the firmness or imbecility in the tone of the spirits. Pride is of no use in a fright, because while it lasts we cannot think, which, being counted a disgrace, is the reason people is always angry with any thing that frightens them, as soon as the surprise is over; and when at the turn of a battle the conquerors give no quarter, and are very cruel, it is a sign their enemies fought well, and had put them first into great fears.

That resolution depends upon this tone of the spirits, appears likewise from the effects of strong liquors, the fiery particles whereof crowding into the brain, strengthen the spirits; their operation imitates that of anger, which I said before was an ebullition of the spirits. It is for this reason, that most people when they are in drink, are sooner touched and more prone to anger, than at other times, and some raving mad without any provocation at all. It is likewise observed, that brandy makes men more quarrelsome at the same pitch of drunkenness than wine; because the spirits of distilled waters have abundance of fiery particles mixed with them, which the other has not. The contexture of spirits is so weak in some, that though they have pride enough, no art can ever make them fight, or overcome their fears; but this is a defect in the principle of the fluids, as other deformities are faults of the solids. These pusillanimous people, are never thoroughly provoked to anger, where there is any danger, and drinking makes them bolder, but seldom so resolute as to attack any, unless they be women or children, or such who they know dare not resist. This constitution is often influenced by health and sickness, and impaired by great losses of blood; sometimes it is corrected by diet; and it is this which [127]the Duke de la Rochefoucauld means, when he says: vanity, shame, and above all constitution, make up very often the courage of men, and virtue of women.

There is nothing that more improves the useful martial courage I treat of, and at the same time shows it to be artificial, than practice; for when men are disciplined, come to be acquainted with all the tools of death, and engines of destruction, when the shouts, the outcries, the fire and smoke, the grones of wounded, and ghostly looks of dying men, with all the various scenes of mangled carcases and bloody limbs tore off, begin to be familiar to them, their fear abate apace; not that they are now less afraid to die than before, but being used so often to see the same dangers, they apprehend the reality of them less than they did: as they are deservedly valued for every siege they are at, and every battle they are in, it is impossible but the several actions they share in, must continually become as many solid steps by which their pride mounts up; and thus their fear of shame, as I said before, will always be proportioned to their pride, increasing as the apprehension of the danger decreases, it is no wonder that most of them learn to discover little or no fear: and some great generals are able to preserve a presence of mind, and counterfeit a calm serenity within the midst of all the noise, horror, and confusion, that attend a battle.

So silly a creature is man, as that, intoxicated with the fumes of vanity, he can feast on the thoughts of the praises that shall be paid his memory in future ages, with so much ecstacy, as to neglect his present life, nay, court and covet death, if he but imagines that it will add to the glory he had acquired before. There is no pitch of self-denial, that a man of pride and constitution cannot reach, nor any passion so violent but he will sacrifice it to another, which is superior to it; and here I cannot but admire at the simplicity of some good men, who, when they hear of the joy and alacrity with which holy men in persecutions have suffered for their faith, imagine that such constancy must exceed all human force, unless it was supported by some miraculous assistance from Heaven. As most people are willing to acknowledge all the frailties of their species, so they are unacquainted with the strength of our nature, and know not that some men of firm constitution may work themselves up into enthusiasm, by no other help than the violence of their passions; yet, it is certain, that there have been men who only assisted with [128]pride and constitution to maintain the worst of causes, have undergone death and torments, with as much cheerfulness as the best of men, animated with piety and devotion, ever did for the true religion.

To prove this assertion, I could produce many instances; but one or two will be sufficient. Jordanus Bruno of Nola, who wrote that silly piece of blasphemy, called Spaccio della Bestia triumphante, and the infamous Vanini, were both executed for openly professing and teaching of atheism: the latter might have been pardoned the moment before the execution, if he would have retracted his doctrine; but rather than recant, he chose to be burnt to ashes. As he went to the stake, he was so far from showing any concern, that he held his hand out to a physician whom he happened to know, desiring him to judge of the calmness of his mind by the regularity of his pulse, and from thence taking an opportunity of making an impious comparison, uttered a sentence too execrable to be mentioned. To these we may join one Mahomet Effendi, who, as Sir Paul Ricaut tells us, was put to death at Constantinople, for having advanced some notions against the existence of a God. He likewise might have saved his life by confessing his error, and renouncing it for the future; but chose rather to persist in his blasphemies, saying, “Though he had no reward to expect, the love of truth constrained him to suffer martyrdom in its defence.

I have made this digression chiefly to show the strength of human nature, and what mere man may perform by pride and constitution alone. Man may certainly be as violently roused by his vanity, as a lion is by his anger; and not only this, avarice, revenge, ambition, and almost every passion, pity not excepted, when they are extraordinary, may, by overcoming fear, serve him instead of valour, and be mistaken for it even by himself; as daily experience must teach every body that will examine and look into the motives from which some men act. But that we may more clearly perceive what this pretended principle is really built upon, let us look into the management of military affairs, and we shall find that pride is no where so openly encouraged as there. As for clothes, the very lowest of the commission officers have them richer, or at least more gay and splendid, than are generally wore by other people of four or five times their income. Most of them, and especially those that have families, and can hardly subsist, would be very glad, all Europe over, to be less [129]expensive that way; but it is a force put upon them to uphold their pride, which they do not think on.

But the ways and means to rouse man’s pride, and catch him by it, are nowhere more grossly conspicuous, than in the treatment which the common soldiers receive, whose vanity is to be worked upon (because there must be so many) at the cheapest rate imaginable. Things we are accustomed to we do not mind, or else what mortal that never had seen a soldier, could look without laughing upon a man accoutred with so much paltry gaudiness, and affected finery? The coarsest manufacture that can be made of wool, dyed of a brickdust colour, goes down with him, because it is in imitation of scarlet or crimson cloth; and to make him think himself as like his officer as it is possible, with little or no cost, instead of silver or gold lace, his hat is trimmed with white or yellow worsted, which in others would deserve bedlam; yet these fine allurements, and the noise made upon a calf’s skin, have drawn in, and been the destruction of more men in reality, than all the killing eyes and bewitching voices of women ever slew in jest. To-day the swine herd puts on his red coat, and believes every body in earnest that calls him gentleman; and two days after Serjeant Kite gives him a swinging wrap with his cane, for holding his musket an inch higher than he should do. As to the real dignity of the employment, in the two last wars, officers, when recruits were wanted, were allowed to list fellows that were convicted of burglary and other capital crimes, which shows that to be made a soldier is deemed to be a preferment next to hanging. A trooper is yet worse than a foot soldier; for when he is most at ease, he has the mortification of being groom to a horse, that spends more money than himself. When a man reflects on all this, the usage they generally receive from their officers, their pay, and the care that is taken of them, when they are not wanted, must he not wonder how wretches can be so silly as to be proud of being called gentlemen soldiers? Yet if there were not, no art, discipline, or money, would be capable of making them so brave as thousands of them are.

If we will mind what effects man’s bravery, without any other qualifications to sweeten him, would have out of an army, we shall find that it would be very pernicious to the civil society; for if man could conquer all his fears, you would hear of nothing but rapes, murders, and violences of [130]all sorts, and valiant men would be like giants in romances: politics, therefore, discovered in men a mixed-metal principle, which was a compound of justice, honesty, and all the moral virtues joined to courage, and all that were possessed of it turned knights-errant of course. They did abundance of good throughout the world, by taming monsters, delivering the distressed, and killing the oppressors: but the wings of all the dragons being clipped, the giants destroyed, and the damsels every where set at liberty, except some few in Spain and Italy, who remained still captivated by their monsters, the order of chivalry, to whom the standard of ancient honour belonged, has been laid aside some time. It was like their armours very massy and heavy; the many virtues about it made it very troublesome, and as ages grew wiser and wiser, the principle of honour in the beginning of the last century was melted over again, and brought to a new standard; they put in the same weight of courage, half the quantity of honesty, and a very little justice, but not a scrap of any other virtue, which has made it very easy and portable to what it was. However, such as it is, there would be no living without it in a large nation; it is the tie of society, and though we are beholden to our frailties for the chief ingredient of it, there is no virtue, at least that I am acquainted with, that has been half so instrumental to the civilizing of mankind, who in great societies would soon degenerate into cruel villains and treacherous slaves, were honour to be removed from among them.

As to the duelling part which belongs to it, I pity the unfortunate whose lot it is; but to say, that those who are guilty of it go by false rules, or mistake the notions of honour, is ridiculous; for either there is no honour at all, or it teaches men to resent injuries, and accept of challenges. You may as well deny that it is the fashion what you see every body wear, as to say that demanding and giving satisfaction is against the laws of true honour. Those that rail at duelling do not consider the benefit the society receives from that fashion: if every ill-bred fellow might use what language he pleased, without being called to an account for it, all conversation would be spoiled. Some grave people tell us, that the Greeks and Romans were such valiant men, and yet knew nothing of duelling but in their country’s quarrel. This is very true, but, for that reason, the kings and princes in Homer gave one another worse language than [131]our porters and hackney coachmen would be able to bear without resentment.

Would you hinder duelling, pardon nobody that offends that way, and make the laws as severe as you can, but do not take away the thing itself, the custom of it. This will not only prevent the frequency of it, but likewise, by rendering the most resolute and most powerful cautious and circumspect in their behaviour, polish and brighten society in general. Nothing civilizes a man equally as his fear, and if not all (as my lord Rochester said), at least most men would be cowards if they durst. The dread of being called to an account keeps abundance in awe; and there are thousands of mannerly and well-accomplished gentlemen in Europe, who would have been insolent and insupportable coxcombs without it: besides, if it was out of fashion to ask satisfaction for injuries which the law cannot take hold of, there would be twenty times the mischief done there is now, or else you must have twenty times the constables and other officers to keep the peace. I confess that though it happens but seldom, it is a calamity to the people, and generally the families it falls upon; but there can be no perfect happiness in this world, and all felicity has an allay. The act itself is uncharitable, but when above thirty in a nation destroy themselves in one year, and not half that number are killed by others, I do not think the people can be said to love their neighbours worse than themselves. It is strange that a nation should grudge to see, perhaps, half-a-dozen men sacrificed in a twelvemonth to obtain so valuable a blessing, as the politeness of manners, the pleasure of conversation, and the happiness of company in general, that is often so willing to expose, and sometimes loses as many thousands in a few hours, without knowing whether it will do any good or not.

I would have nobody that reflects on the mean original of honour, complain of being gulled and made a property by cunning politicians, but desire every body to be satisfied, that the governors of societies, and those in high stations, are greater bubbles to pride than any of the rest. If some great men had not a superlative pride, and every body understood the enjoyment of life, who would be a lord chancellor of England, a prime minister of state in France, or what gives more fatigue, and not a sixth part of the profit of either, a grand pensionary of Holland? The reciprocal services [132]which all men pay to one another, are the foundation of the society. The great ones are not flattered with their high birth for nothing: it is to rouse their pride, and excite them to glorious actions, that we extol their race, whether it deserves it or not; and some men have been complimented with the greatness of their family, and the merit of their ancestors, when in the whole generation you could not find two but what were uxorious fools, silly biggots, noted poltrons, or debauched whore-masters. The established pride that is inseparable from those that are possessed of titles already, makes them often strive as much not to seem unworthy of them, as the working ambition of others that are yet without, renders them industrious and indefatigable to deserve them. When a gentleman is made a baron or an earl, it is as great a check upon him in many respects, as a gown and cassock are to a young student that has been newly taken into orders.

The only thing of weight that can be said against modern honour is, that it is directly opposite to religion. The one bids you bear injuries with patience; the other tells you if you do not resent them, you are not fit to live. Religion commands you to leave all revenge to God; honour bids you trust your revenge to nobody but yourself, even where the law would do it for you: religion plainly forbids murder; honour openly justifies it: religion bids you not shed blood upon any account whatever; honour bids you fight for the least trifle: religion is built on humility, and honour upon pride: how to reconcile them must be left to wiser heads than mine.

The reason why there are so few men of real virtue, and so many of real honour, is, because all the recompence a man has of a virtuous action, is the pleasure of doing it, which most people reckon but poor pay; but the self-denial a man of honour submits to in one appetite, is immediately rewarded by the satisfaction he receives from another, and what he abates of his avarice, or any other passion, is doubly repaid to his pride: besides, honour gives large grains of allowance, and virtue none. A man of honour must not cheat or tell a lie; he must punctually repay what he borrows at play, though the creditor has nothing to show for it; but he may drink, and swear, and owe money to all the tradesmen in town, without taking notice of their dunning. A man of honour must be true to his prince and country, while he is in their service; but if [133]he thinks himself not well used, he may quit it, and do them all the mischief he can. A man of honour must never change his religion for interest; but he may be as debauched as he pleases, and never practise any. He must make no attempts upon his friend’s wife, daughter, sister, or any body that is trusted to his care; but he may lie with all the world besides.


Line 353. No limner for his art is fam’d,

Stone-cutters, carvers are not nam’d.

It is, without doubt, that among the consequences of a national honesty and frugality, it would be one not to build any new houses, or use new materials as long as there were old ones enough to serve. By this three parts in four, of masons, carpenters, bricklayers, &c. would want employment; and the building trade being once destroyed, what would become of limning, carving, and other arts that are ministering to luxury, and have been carefully forbid by those lawgivers that preferred a good and honest, to a great and wealthy society, and endeavoured to render their subjects rather virtuous than rich. By a law of Lycurgus, it was enacted, that the ceilings of the Spartan houses should only be wrought by the ax, and their gates and doors only smoothed by the saw; and this, says Plutarch, was not without mystery: for if Epaminondas could say with so good a grace, inviting some of his friends to his table: “Come, gentlemen, be secure, treason would never come to such a poor dinner as this:” Why might not this great lawgiver, in all probability, have thought that such ill-favoured houses would never be capable of receiving luxury and superfluity?

It is reported, as the same author tells us, that Leotichidas, the first of that name, was so little used to the sight of carved work, that being entertained at Corinth in a stately room, he was much surprised to see the timber and ceiling so finely wrought, and asked his host whether the trees grew so in his country.

The same want of employment would reach innumerable callings; and, among the rest, that of the

Weavers that join’d rich silk with plate,

And all the trades subordinate,


(as the fable has it) would be one of the first that should have reason to complain; for the price of land and houses being, by the removal of the vast numbers that had left the hive, sunk very low on the one side, and every body abhorring all other ways of gain, but such as were strictly honest on the other, it is not probable that many without pride or prodigality should be able to wear cloth of gold and silver, or rich brocades. The consequence of which would be, that not only the weaver, but likewise the silver-spinner, the flatter, the wire-drawer, the bar-man, and the refiner, would, in a little time be affected with this frugality.


Line 367. ——To live great,

Had made her husband rob the state.

What our common rogues, when they are going to be hanged, chiefly complain of, as the cause of their untimely end, is, next to the neglect of the Sabbath, their having kept company with ill women, meaning whores; and I do not question, but that among the lesser villains, many venture their necks to indulge and satisfy their low amours. But the words that have given occasion to this remark, may serve to hint to us, that among the great ones, men are often put upon such dangerous projects, and forced into such pernicious measures by their wives, as the most subtle mistress never could have persuaded them to. I have shown already, that the worst of women, and most profligate of the sex, did contribute to the consumption of superfluities, as well as the necessaries of life, and consequently were beneficial to many peaceable drudges, that work hard to maintain their families, and have no worse design than an honest livelihood. Let them be banished, notwithstanding, says a good man: When every strumpet is gone, and the land wholly freed from lewdness, God Almighty will pour such blessings upon it, as will vastly exceed the profits that are now got by harlots. This perhaps would be true; but I can make it evident, that, with or without prostitutes, nothing could make amends, for the detriment trade would sustain, if all those of that sex, who enjoy the happy state of matrimony, should act and behave themselves as a sober wise man could wish them.

The variety of work that is performed, and the number of hands employed to gratify the fickleness and luxury of [135]women, is prodigious, and if only the married ones should hearken to reason and just remonstrances, think themselves sufficiently answered with the first refusal, and never ask a second time what had been once denied them: If, I say, married women would do this, and then lay out no money but what their husbands knew, and freely allowed of, the consumption of a thousand things, they now make use of, would be lessened by at least a fourth part. Let us go from house to house, and observe the way of the world only among the middling people, creditable shop-keepers, that spend two or three hundred a-year, and we shall find the women when they have half a score suits of clothes, two or three of them not the worse for wearing, will think it a sufficient plea for new ones, if they can say that they have never a gown or petticoat, but what they have been often seen in, and are known by, especially at church; I do not speak now of profuse extravagant women, but such as are counted prudent and moderate in their desires.

If by this pattern we should in proportion judge of the highest ranks, where the richest clothes are but a trifle to their other expences, and not forget the furniture of all sorts, equipages, jewels, and buildings of persons of quality, we should find the fourth part I speak of a vast article in trade, and that the loss of it would be a greater calamity to such a nation as ours, than it is possible to conceive any other, a raging pestilence not excepted: for the death of half a million of people could not cause a tenth part of the disturbance to the kingdom, than the same number of poor unemployed would certainly create, if at once they were to be added to those, that already, one way or other, are a burden to the society.

Some few men have a real passion for their wives, and are fond of them without reserve; others that do not care, and have little occasion for women, are yet seemingly uxorious, and love out of vanity; they take delight in a handsome wife, as a coxcomb does in a fine horse, not for the use he makes of it, but because it is his: The pleasure lies in the consciousness of an uncontrolable possession, and what follows from it, the reflection on the mighty thoughts he imagines others to have of his happiness. The men of either sort may be very lavish to their wives, and often preventing their wishes, crowd new clothes, and other finery upon them, faster than they can ask it, but the greatest part are wiser, [136]than to indulge the extravagances of their wives so far, as to give them immediately every thing they are pleased to fancy. It is incredible what vast quantity of trinkets, as well as apparel, are purchased and used by women, which they could never have come at by any other means, than pinching their families, marketing, and other ways of cheating and pilfering from their husbands: Others, by ever teazing their spouses, tire them into compliance, and conquer even obstinate churls by perseverance, and their assiduity of asking: A third sort are outrageous at a denial, and by downright noise and scolding, bully their tame fools out of any thing they have a mind to; while thousands, by the force of wheedling, know how to overcome the best weighed reasons, and the most positive reiterated refusals; the young and beautiful, especially, laugh at all remonstrances and denials, and few of them scruple to employ the most tender minutes of wedlock to promote a sordid interest. Here, had I time, I could inveigh with warmth against those base, those wicked women, who calmly play their arts and false deluding charms against our strength and prudence, and act the harlots with their husbands! Nay, she is worse than whore, who impiously profanes and prostitutes the sacred rites of love to vile ignoble ends; that first excites to passion, and invites to joy with seeming ardour, then racks our fondness for no other purpose than to extort a gift, while full of guile in counterfeited transports, she watches for the moment when men can least deny.

I beg pardon for this start out of my way, and desire the experienced reader duly to weigh what has been said as to the main purpose, and after that call to mind the temporal blessings, which men daily hear not only toasted and wished for, when people are merry and doing of nothing; but likewise gravely and solemnly prayed for in churches, and other religious assemblies, by clergymen of all sorts and sizes: And as soon as he shall have laid these things together, and, from what he has observed in the common affairs of life, reasoned upon them consequentially without prejudice, I dare flatter myself, that he will be obliged to own, that a considerable portion of what the prosperity of London and trade in general, and consequently the honour, strength, safety, and all the worldly interest of the nation consist in, depend entirely on the deceit and vile stratagems of women; and that humility, content, meekness, obedience to reasonable husbands, [137]frugality, and all the virtues together, if they were possessed of them in the most eminent degree, could not possibly be a thousandth part so serviceable, to make an opulent, powerful, and what we call a flourishing kingdom, than their most hateful qualities.

I do not question, but many of my readers will be startled at this assertion, when they look on the consequences that may be drawn from it; and I shall be asked, whether people may not as well be virtuous in a populous, rich, wide, extended kingdom, as in a small, indigent state or principality, that is poorly inhabited? And if that be impossible, Whether it is not the duty of all sovereigns to reduce their subjects, as to wealth and numbers, as much as they can? If I allow they may, I own myself in the wrong; and if I affirm the other, my tenets will justly be called impious, or at least dangerous to all large societies. As it is not in this place of the book only, but a great many others, that such queries might be made even by a well-meaning reader, I shall here explain myself, and endeavour to solve those difficulties, which several passages might have raised in him, in order to demonstrate the consistency of my opinion to reason, and the strictest morality.

I lay down as a first principle, that in all societies, great or small, it is the duty of every member of it to be good, that virtue ought to be encouraged, vice discountenanced, the laws obeyed, and the transgressors punished. After this I affirm, that if we consult history, both ancient and modern, and take a view of what has passed in the world, we shall find that human nature, since the fall of Adam, has always been the same, and that the strength and frailties of it have ever been conspicuous in one part of the globe or other, without any regard to ages, climates, or religion. I never said, nor imagined, that man could not be virtuous as well in a rich and mighty kingdom, as in the most pitiful commonwealth; but I own it is my sense, that no society can be raised into such a rich and mighty kingdom, or so raised, subsist in their wealth and power for any considerable time, without the vices of man.

This, I imagine, is sufficiently proved throughout the book; and as human nature still continues the same, as it has always been for so many thousand years, we have no great reason to suspect a future change in it, while the world endures. Now, I cannot see what immorality there is in [138]showing a man the origin and power of those passions, which so often, even unknowingly to himself, hurry him away from his reason; or that there is any impiety in putting him upon his guard against himself, and the secret stratagems of self-love, and teaching him the difference between such actions as proceed from a victory over the passions, and those that are only the result of a conquest which one passion obtains over another; that is, between real and counterfeited virtue. It is an admirable saying of a worthy divine, That though many discoveries have been made in the world of self-love, there is yet abundance of terra incognita left behind. What hurt do I do to man, if I make him more known to himself than he was before? But we are all so desperately in love with flattery, that we can never relish a truth that is mortifying, and I do not believe that the immortality of the soul, a truth broached long before Christianity, would have ever found such a general reception in human capacities as it has, had it not been a pleasing one, that extolled, and was a compliment to the whole species, the meanest and most miserable not excepted.

Every one loves to hear the thing well spoke of that he has a share in, even bailiffs, gaol-keepers, and the hangman himself would have you think well of their functions; nay, thieves and house breakers have a greater regard to those of their fraternity, than they have for honest people; and I sincerely believe, that it is chiefly self-love that has gained this little treatise (as it was before the last impression), so many enemies; every one looks upon it as an affront done to himself, because it detracts from the dignity, and lessens the fine notions he had conceived of mankind, the most worshipful company he belongs to. When I say that societies cannot be raised to wealth and power, and the top of earthly glory, without vices, I do not think that, by so saying, I bid men be vicious, any more than I bid them be quarrelsome or covetous, when I affirm that the profession of the law could not be maintained in such numbers and splendor, if there was not abundance of too selfish and litigious people.

But as nothing would more clearly demonstrate the falsity of my notions, than that the generality of the people should fall in with them, so I do not expect the approbation of the multitude. I write not to many, nor seek for any well-wishers, but among the few that can think abstractly, and have their minds elevated above the vulgar. If I have shown [139]the way to worldly greatness, I have always, without hesitation, preferred the road that leads to virtue.

Would you banish fraud and luxury, prevent profaneness and irreligion, and make the generality of the people charitable, good, and virtuous; break down the printing-presses, melt the founds, and burn all the books in the island, except those at the universities, where they remain unmolested, and suffer no volume in private hands but a Bible: knock down foreign trade, prohibit all commerce with strangers, and permit no ships to go to sea, that ever will return, beyond fisher-boats. Restore to the clergy, the king and the barons their ancient privileges, prerogatives, and professions: build new churches, and convert all the coin you can come at into sacred utensils: erect monasteries and alms-houses in abundance, and let no parish be without a charity-school. Enact sumptuary laws, and let your youth be inured to hardship: inspire them with all the nice and most refined notions of honour and shame, of friendship and of heroism, and introduce among them a great variety of imaginary rewards: then let the clergy preach abstinence and self-denial to others, and take what liberty they please for themselves; let them bear the greatest sway in the management of state-affairs, and no man be made lord-treasurer but a bishop.

But by such pious endeavours, and wholesome regulations, the scene would be soon altered; the greatest part of the covetous, the discontented, the restless and ambitious villains, would leave the land; vast swarms of cheating knaves would abandon the city, and be dispersed throughout the country: artificers would learn to hold the plough, merchants turn farmers, and the sinful overgrown Jerusalem, without famine, war, pestilence, or compulsion, be emptied in the most easy manner, and ever after cease to be dreadful to her sovereigns. The happy reformed kingdom would by this means be crowded in no part of it, and every thing necessary for the sustenance of man, be cheap and abound: on the contrary, the root of so many thousand evils, money, would be very scarce, and as little wanted, where every man should enjoy the fruits of his own labour, and our own dear manufacture unmixed, be promiscuously wore by the lord and the peasant. It is impossible, that such a change of circumstances should not influence the manners of a nation, and render them temperate, honest, and sincere; and from the next generation we might reasonably expect a more healthy [140]and robust offspring than the present; an harmless, innocent, and well-meaning people, that would never dispute the doctrine of passive obedience, nor any other orthodox principles, but be submissive to superiors, and unanimous in religious worship.

Here I fancy myself interrupted by an Epicure, who, not to want a restorative diet in case of necessity, is never without live ortolans; and I am told that goodness and probity are to be had at a cheaper rate than the ruin of a nation, and the destruction of all the comforts of life; that liberty and property may be maintained without wickedness or fraud, and men be good subjects without being slaves, and religious though they refused to be priest-rid; that to be frugal and saving is a duty incumbent only on those, whose circumstances require it, but that a man of a good estate does his country a service by living up to the income of it; that as to himself, he is so much master of his appetites, that he can abstain from any thing upon occasion; that where true Hermitage was not to be had, he could content himself with plain Bourdeaux, if it had a good body; that many a morning, instead of St. Lawrence, he has made a shift with Fronteniac, and after dinner given Cyprus wine, and even Madeira, when he has had a large company, and thought it extravagant to treat with Tockay; but that all voluntary mortifications are superstitious, only belonging to blind zealots and enthusiasts. He will quote my Lord Shaftsbury against me, and tell me that people may be virtuous and sociable without self-denial; that it is an affront to virtue to make it inaccessible, that I make a bugbear of it to frighten men from it as a thing impracticable; but that for his part he can praise God, and at the same time enjoy his creatures with a good conscience; neither will he forget any thing to his purpose of what I have said, page 66. He will ask me at last, whether the legislature, the wisdom of the nation itself, while they endeavour as much as possible, to discourage profaneness and immorality, and promote the glory of God, do not openly profess, at the same time, to have nothing more at heart, than the ease and welfare of the subject, the wealth, strength, honour, and what else is called the true interest of the country? and, moreover, whether the most devout and most learned of our prelates, in their greatest concern for our conversion, when they beseech the Deity to turn their own as well as our hearts, from the world and all [141]carnal desires, do not in the same prayer as loudly solicit him to pour all earthly blessings and temporal felicity, on the kingdom they belong to?

These are the apologies, the excuses, and common pleas, not only of those who are notoriously vicious, but the generality of mankind, when you touch the copy-hold of their inclinations; and trying the real value they have for spirituals, would actually strip them of what their minds are wholly bent upon. Ashamed of the many frailties they feel within, all men endeavour to hide themselves, their ugly nakedness, from each other, and wrapping up the true motives of their hearts, in the specious cloak of sociableness, and their concern for the public good, they are in hopes of concealing their filthy appetites, and the deformity of their desires; while they are conscious within of the fondness for their darling lusts, and their incapacity, bare-faced, to tread the arduous, rugged path of virtue.

As to the two last questions, I own they are very puzzling: to what the Epicure asks, I am obliged to answer in the affirmative; and unless I would (which God forbid!) arraign the sincerity of kings, bishops, and the whole legislative power, the objection stands good against me: all I can say for myself is, that in the connection of the facts, there is a mystery past human understanding; and to convince the reader, that this is no evasion, I shall illustrate the incomprehensibility of it in the following parable.

In old heathen times, there was, they say, a whimsical country, where the people talked much of religion, and the greatest part, as to outward appearance, seemed really devout: the chief moral evil among them was thirst, and to quench it a damnable sin; yet they unanimously agreed that every one was born thirsty, more or less: small beer in moderation was allowed to all, and he was counted an hypocrite, a cynic, or a madman, who pretended that one could live altogether without it; yet those, who owned they loved it, and drank it to excess, were counted wicked. All this, while the beer itself was reckoned a blessing from Heaven, and there was no harm in the use of it; all the enormity lay in the abuse, the motive of the heart, that made them drink it. He that took the least drop of it to quench his thirst, committed a heinous crime, while others drank large quantities without any guilt, so they did it indifferently, and for no other reason than to mend their complexion. [142]

They brewed for other countries as well as their own, and for the small beer they sent abroad, they received large returns of Westphalia-hams, neats tongues, hung-beef, and Bologna sausages, red-herrings, pickled sturgeon, caviar, anchovies, and every thing that was proper to make their liquor go down with pleasure. Those who kept great stores of small beer by them without making use of it, were generally envied, and at the same time very odious to the public, and nobody was easy that had not enough of it come to his own share. The greatest calamity they thought could befal them, was to keep their hops and barley upon their hands, and the more they yearly consumed of them, the more they reckoned the country to flourish.

The government had many very wise regulations concerning the returns that were made for their exports, encouraged very much the importation of salt and pepper, and laid heavy duties on every thing that was not well seasoned, and might any ways obstruct the sale of their own hops and barley. Those at helm, when they acted in public, showed themselves on all accounts exempt and wholly divested from thirst, made several laws to prevent the growth of it, and punish the wicked who openly dared to quench it. If you examined them in their private persons, and pryed narrowly into their lives and conversations, they seemed to be more fond, or at least drank larger draughts of small beer than others, but always under pretence that the mending of complexions required greater quantities of liquor in them, than it did in those they ruled over; and that, what they had chiefly at heart, without any regard to themselves, was to procure great plenty of small beer, among the subjects in general, and a great demand for their hops and barley.

As nobody was debarred from small beer, the clergy made use of it as well as the laity, and some of them very plentifully; yet all of them desired to be thought less thirsty by their function than others, and never would own that they drank any but to mend their complexions. In their religious assemblies they were more sincere; for as soon as they came there, they all openly confessed, the clergy as well as the laity, from the highest to the lowest, that they were thirsty, that mending their complexions was what they minded the least, and that all their hearts were set upon small beer and quenching their thirst, whatever they might pretend to the contrary. What was remarkable, is, that to have laid hold of those [143]truths to any ones prejudice, and made use of those confessions afterwards out of their temples, would be counted very impertinent, and every body thought it an heinous affront to be called thirsty, though you had seen him drink small beer by whole gallons. The chief topics of their preachers, was the great evil of thirst, and the folly there was in quenching it. They exhorted their hearers to resist the temptations of it, inveighed against small beer, and often told them it was poison, if they drank it with pleasure, or any other design than to mend their complexions.

In their acknowledgments to the gods, they thanked them for the plenty of comfortable small beer they had received from them, notwithstanding they had so little deserved it, and continually quenched their thirst with it; whereas, they were so thoroughly satisfied, that it was given them for a better use. Having begged pardon for those offences, they desired the gods to lessen their thirst, and give them strength to resist the importunities of it; yet, in the midst of their sorest repentance, and most humble supplications, they never forgot small beer, and prayed that they might continue to have it in great plenty, with a solemn promise, that how neglectful soever they might hitherto have been in this point, they would for the future not drink a drop of it, with any other design than to mend their complexions.

These were standing petitions put together to last; and having continued to be made use of without any alterations, for several hundred years together; it was thought by some, that the gods, who understood futurity, and knew that the same promise they heard in June, would be made to them the January following, did not rely much more on those vows, than we do on those waggish inscriptions by which men offer us their goods; to-day for money, and to-morrow for nothing. They often began their prayers very mystically, and spoke many things in a spiritual sense; yet, they never were so abstract from the world in them, as to end one without beseeching the gods to bless and prosper the brewing trade in all its branches, and for the good of the whole, more and more to increase the consumption of hops and barley. [144]


Line 388. Content, the bane of industry.

I have been told by many, that the bane of industry is laziness, and not content; therefore to prove my assertion, which seems a paradox to some, I shall treat of laziness and content separately, and afterwards speak of industry, that the reader may judge which it is of the two former, that is opposite to the latter.

Laziness is an aversion to business, generally attended with an unreasonable desire of remaining unactive; and every body is lazy, who, without being hindered by any other warrantable employment, refuses or puts off any business which he ought to do for himself or others. We seldom call any body lazy, but such as we reckon inferior to us, and of whom we expect some service. Children do not think their parents lazy, nor servants their masters; and if a gentleman indulges his ease and sloth so abominably, that he will not put on his own shoes, though he is young and slender, nobody shall call him lazy for it, if he can keep but a footman, or some body else to do it for him.

Mr. Dryden has given us a very good idea of superlative slothfulness, in the person of a luxurious king of Egypt. His majesty having bestowed some considerable gifts on several of his favourites, is attended by some of his chief ministers with a parchment, which he was to sign to confirm those grants. First, he walks a few turns to and fro, with a heavy uneasiness in his looks, then sets himself down like a man that is tired, and, at last, with abundance of reluctancy to what he was going about, he takes up the pen, and falls a complaining very seriously of the length of the word Ptolemy, and expresses a great deal of concern, that he had not some short monosyllable for his name, which he thought would save him a world of trouble.

We often reproach others with laziness, because we are guilty of it ourselves. Some days ago, as two young women sat knotting together, says one to the other, there comes a wicked cold through that door; you are the nearest to it, sister, pray shut it. The other, who was the youngest, vouchsafed, indeed, to cast an eye towards the door, but sat still, and said nothing; the eldest spoke again two or three times, and at last the other making her no answer, nor offering to stir, she got up in a pet, and shut the door herself; coming [145]back to sit down again, she gave the younger a very hard look; and said, Lord, sister Betty, I would not be so lazy as you are for all the world; which she spoke so earnestly, that it brought a colour in her face. The youngest should have risen, I own; but if the eldest had not overvalued her labour, she would have shut the door herself, as soon as the cold was offensive to her, without making any words of it. She was not above a step farther from the door than her sister, and as to age, there was not eleven months difference between them, and they were both under twenty. I thought it a hard matter to determine which was the laziest of the two.

There are a thousand wretches that are always working the marrow out of their bones for next to nothing, because they are unthinking and ignorant of what the pains they take are worth: while others who are cunning, and understand the true value of their work, refuse to be employed at under rates, not because they are of an unactive temper, but because they will not beat down the price of their labour. A country gentleman sees at the back side of the Exchange a porter walking to and fro with his hands in his pockets. Pray, says he, friend, will you step for me with this letter as far as Bow-church, and I will give you a penny? I will go with all my heart, says the other, but I must have twopence, master; which the gentleman refusing to give, the fellow turned his back, and told him, he would rather play for nothing than work for nothing. The gentleman thought it an unaccountable piece of laziness in a porter, rather to saunter up and down for nothing, than to be earning a penny with as little trouble. Some hours after he happened to be with some friends at a tavern in Threadneedle-street, where one of them calling to mind that he had forgot to send for a bill of exchange that was to go away with the post that night, was in great perplexity, and immediately wanted some body to go for him to Hackney with all the speed imaginable. It was after ten, in the middle of winter, a very rainy night, and all the porters thereabouts were gone to bed. The gentleman grew very uneasy, and said, whatever it cost him, that somebody he must send; at last one of the drawers seeing him so very pressing, told him that he knew a porter, who would rise, if it was a job worth his while. Worth his while, said the gentleman very eagerly, do not doubt of that, good lad, if you know of any body, let him make what haste he can, and I will give him a crown if he [146]be back by twelve o’clock. Upon this the drawer took the errand, left the room, and in less than a quarter of an hour, came back with the welcome news that the message would be dispatched with all expedition. The company in the mean time, diverted themselves as they had done before; but when it began to be towards twelve, the watches were pulled out, and the porter’s return was all the discourse. Some were of opinion he might yet come before the clock had struck; others thought it impossible, and now it wanted but three minutes of twelve, when in comes the nimble messenger smoking hot, with his clothes as wet as dung with the rain, and his head all over in a bath of sweat. He had nothing dry about him but the inside of his pocket-book, out of which he took the bill he had been for, and by the drawer’s direction, presented it to the gentleman it belonged to; who, being very well pleased with the dispatch he had made, gave him the crown he had promised, while another filled him a bumper, and the whole company commended his diligence. As the fellow came nearer the light, to take up the wine, the country gentleman I mentioned at first, to his great admiration, knew him to be the same porter that had refused to earn his penny, and whom he thought the laziest mortal alive.

The story teaches us, that we ought not to confound those who remain unemployed for want of an opportunity of exerting themselves to the best advantage, with such as for want of spirit, hug themselves in their sloth, and will rather starve than stir. Without this caution, we must pronounce all the world more or less lazy, according to their estimation of the reward they are to purchase with their labour, and then the most industrious may be called lazy.

Content, I call that calm serenity of the mind, which men enjoy while they think themselves happy, and rest satisfied with the station they are in: It implies a favourable construction of our present circumstances, and a peaceful tranquillity, which men are strangers to as long as they are solicitous about mending their condition. This is a virtue of which the applause is very precarious and uncertain: for, according as mens circumstances vary, they will either be blamed or commended for being possessed of it.

A single man that works hard at a laborious trade, has a hundred a year left him by a relation: this change of fortune makes him soon weary of working, and not having industry [147]enough to put himself forward in the world, he resolves to do nothing at all, and live upon his income. As long as he lives within compass, pays for what he has, and offends nobody, he shall be called an honest quiet man. The victualler, his landlady, the tailor, and others, divide what he has between them, and the society is every year the better for his revenue; whereas, if he should follow his own or any other trade, he must hinder others, and some body would have the less for what he should get; and therefore, though he should be the idlest fellow in the world, lie a-bed fifteen hours in four and twenty, and do nothing but sauntering up and down all the rest of the time, nobody would discommend him, and his unactive spirit is honoured with the name of content.

But if the same man marries, gets three or four children, and still continues of the same easy temper, rests satisfied with what he has, and without endeavouring to get a penny, indulges his former sloth: first, his relations, afterwards, all his acquaintance, will be alarmed at his negligence: they foresee that his income will not be sufficient to bring up so many children handsomely, and are afraid, some of them may, if not a burden, become a disgrace to them. When these fears have been, for some time, whispered about from one to another, his uncle Gripe takes him to task, and accosts him in the following cant: “What, nephew, no business yet! fie upon it! I cannot imagine how you do to spend your time; if you will not work at your own trade, there are fifty ways that a man may pick up a penny by: you have a hundred a-year, it is true, but your charges increase every year, and what must you do when your children are grown up? I have a better estate than you myself, and yet you do not see me leave off my business; nay, I declare it, might I have the world I could not lead the life you do. It is no business of mine, I own, but every body cries, it is a shame for a young man, as you are, that has his limbs and his health, should not turn his hands to something or other.” If these admonitions do not reform him in a little time, and he continues half-a-year longer without employment, he will become a discourse to the whole neighbourhood, and for the same qualifications that once got him the name of a quiet contented man, he shall be called the worst of husbands, and the laziest fellow upon earth: from whence it is manifest, that when we pronounce [148]actions good or evil, we only regard the hurt or benefit the society receives from them, and not the person who commits them. (See page 17.)

Diligence and industry are often used promiscuously, to signify the same thing, but there is a great difference between them. A poor wretch may want neither diligence nor ingenuity, be a saving pains-taking man, and yet without striving to mend his circumstances, remain contented with the station he lives in; but industry implies, besides the other qualities, a thirst after gain, and an indefatigable desire of meliorating our condition. When men think either the customary profits of their calling, or else the share of business they have too small, they have two ways to deserve the name of industrious; and they must be either ingenious enough to find out uncommon, and yet warrantable methods to increase their business or their profit, or else supply that defect by a multiplicity of occupations. If a tradesman takes care to provide his shop, and gives due attendance to those that come to it, he is a diligent man in his business; but if, besides that, he takes particular pains to sell, to the same advantage, a better commodity than the rest of his neighbours, or if, by his obsequiousness, or some other good quality, getting into a large acquaintance, he uses all possible endeavours of drawing customers to his house, he then may be called industrious. A cobbler, though he is not employed half of his time, if he neglects no business, and makes dispatch when he has any, is a diligent man; but if he runs of errands when he has no work, or makes but shoe-pins, and serves as a watchman a-nights, he deserves the name of industrious.

If what has been said in this remark be duly weighed, we shall find either, that laziness and content are very near a-kin, or, if there be a great difference between them, that the latter is more contrary to industry than the former.


Line 410. To make a great and honest hive.

This perhaps might be done where people are contented to be poor and hardy; but if they would likewise enjoy their ease and the comforts of the world, and be at once an opulent, potent, and flourishing, as well as a warlike nation, it is utterly impossible. I have heard people speak of the [149]mighty figure the Spartans made above all the commonwealths of Greece, notwithstanding their uncommon frugality and other exemplary virtues. But certainly there never was a nation whose greatness was more empty than theirs: The splendor they lived in was inferior to that of a theatre, and the only thing they could be proud of, was, that they enjoyed nothing. They were, indeed, both feared and esteemed abroad: they were so famed for valour and skill in martial affairs, that their neighbours did not only court their friendship and assistance in their wars, but were satisfied, and thought themselves sure of the victory, if they could but get a Spartan general to command their armies. But then their discipline was so rigid, and their manner of living so austere and void of all comfort, that the most temperate man among us would refuse to submit to the harshness of such uncouth laws. There was a perfect equality among them: gold and silver coin were cried down; their current money was made of iron, to render it of a great bulk, and little worth: To lay up twenty or thirty pounds, required a pretty large chamber, and to remove it, nothing less than a yoke of oxen. Another remedy they had against luxury, was, that they were obliged to eat in common of the same meat, and they so little allowed any body to dine, or sup by himself at home, that Agis, one of their kings, having vanquished the Athenians, and sending for his commons at his return home (because he desired privately to eat with his queen) was refused by the Polemarchi.

In training up their youth, their chief care, says Plutarch, was to make them good subjects, to fit them to endure the fatigues of long and tedious marches, and never to return without victory from the field. When they were twelve years old, they lodged in little bands, upon beds made of the rushes, which grew by the banks of the river Eurotas; and because their points were sharp, they were to break them off with their hands without a knife: If it were a hard winter, they mingled some thistle-down with their rushes to keep them warm (see Plutarch in the life of Lycurgus.) From all these circumstances it is plain, that no nation on earth was less effeminate; but being debarred from all the comforts of life, they could have nothing for their pains, but the glory of being a warlike people, inured to toils and hardships, which was a happiness that few people would have cared for upon the same terms: and, though they had [150]been masters of the world, as long as they enjoyed no more of it, Englishmen would hardly have envied them their greatness. What men want now-a-days has sufficiently been shewn in Remark on line 200, where I have treated of real pleasures.


Line 411. T’ enjoy the world’s conveniencies.

That the words, decency and conveniency, were very ambiguous, and not to be understood, unless we were acquainted with the quality and circumstances of the persons that made use of them, has been hinted already in Remark on line 177. The goldsmith, mercer, or any other of the most creditable shopkeepers, that has three or four thousand pounds to set up with, must have two dishes of meat every day, and something extraordinary for Sundays. His wife must have a damask bed against her lying-in, and two or three rooms very well furnished: the following summer she must have a house, or at least very good lodgings in the country. A man that has a being out of town, must have a horse; his footman must have another. If he has a tolerable trade, he expects in eight or ten years time to keep his coach, which, notwithstanding, he hopes, that after he has slaved (as he calls it) for two or three and twenty years, he shall be worth at least a thousand a-year for his eldest son to inherit, and two or three thousand pounds for each of his other children to begin the world with; and when men of such circumstances pray for their daily bread, and mean nothing more extravagant by it, they are counted pretty modest people. Call this pride, luxury, superfluity, or what you please, it is nothing but what ought to be in the capital of a flourishing nation: those of inferior condition must content themselves with less costly conveniencies, as others of higher rank will be sure to make theirs more expensive. Some people call it but decency to be served in plate, and reckon a coach and six among the necessary comforts of life; and if a peer has not above three or four thousand a-year, his lordship is counted poor. [151]

Since the first edition of this book, several have attacked me with demonstrations of the certain ruin, which excessive luxury must bring upon all nations, who yet were soon answered, when I showed them the limits within which I had confined it; and therefore, that no reader for the future may misconstrue me on this head, I shall point at the cautions I have given, and the provisos I have made in the former, as well as this present impression, and which, if not overlooked, must prevent all rational censure, and obviate several objections that otherwise might be made against me. I have laid down as maxims never to be departed from, that the2 poor should be kept strictly to work, and that it was prudence to relieve their wants, but folly to cure them; that agriculture3 and fishery should be promoted in all their branches, in order to render provisions, and consequently labour cheap. I have named4 ignorance as a necessary ingredient in the mixture of society: from all which it is manifest that I could never have imagined, that luxury was to be made general through every part of a kingdom. I have likewise required5 that property should be well secured, justice impartially administered, and in every thing the interest of the nation taken care of: but what I have insisted on the most, and repeated more than once, is the great regard that is to be had to the balance of trade, and the care the legislature ought to take, that the yearly6 imports never exceed the exports; and where this is observed, and the other things I spoke of are not neglected, I still continue to assert that no foreign luxury can undo a country: the height of it is never seen but in nations that are vastly populous, and there only in the upper part of it, and the greater, that is, the larger still in proportion must be the lowest, the basis that supports all, the multitude of working poor.

Those who would too nearly imitate others of superior fortune, must thank themselves if they are ruined. This is nothing against luxury; for whoever can subsist, and lives above his income is a fool. Some persons of quality may keep three or four coaches and six, and at the same time lay up money for their children: while a young shopkeeper is undone [152]for keeping one sorry horse. It is impossible there should be a rich nation without prodigals, yet I never knew a city so full of spendthrifts, but there were covetous people enough to answer their number. As an old merchant breaks for having been extravagant or careless a great while, so a young beginner falling into the same business, gets an estate by being saving or more industrious before he is forty years old: besides, that the frailties of men often work by contraries: some narrow souls can never thrive because they are too stingy, while longer heads amass great wealth by spending their money freely, and seeming to despise it. But the vicissitudes of fortune are necessary, and the most lamentable are no more detrimental to society, than the death of the individual members of it. Christenings are a proper balance to burials. Those who immediately lose by the misfortunes of others, are very sorry, complain, and make a noise; but the others who get by them, as there always are such, hold their tongues, because it is odious to be thought the better for the losses and calamities of our neighbour. The various ups and downs compose a wheel, that always turning round, gives motion to the whole machine. Philosophers, that dare extend their thoughts beyond the narrow compass of what is immediately before them, look on the alternate changes in the civil society, no otherwise than they do on the risings and fallings of the lungs; the latter of which are much a part of respiration in the most perfect animals as the first; so that the fickle breath of never-stable fortune is to the body politic, the same as floating air is to a living creature.

Avarice then, and prodigality, are equally necessary to the society. That in some countries, men are most generally lavish than in others, proceeds from the difference in circumstances that dispose to either vice, and arise from the condition of the social body, as well as the temperament of the natural. I beg pardon of the attentive reader, if here, in behalf of short memories, I repeat some things, the substance of which they have already seen in Remark, line 307. More money than land, heavy taxes and scarcity of provisions, industry, laboriousness, an active and stirring spirit, ill-nature, and saturnine temper; old age, wisdom, trade, riches, acquired by our own labour, and liberty and property well secured, are all things that dispose to avarice. On the contrary, indolence, content, good-nature, a jovial temper, youth, folly, arbitrary power, money easily got, plenty of provisions [153]and the uncertainty of possessions, are circumstances that render men prone to prodigality: where there is the most of the first, the prevailing vice will be avarice, and prodigality where the other turns the scale; but a national frugality there never was nor never will be without a national necessity.

Sumptuary laws, may be of use to an indigent country, after great calamities of war, pestilence, or famine, when work has stood still, and the labour of the poor been interrupted; but to introduce them into an opulent kingdom, is the wrong way to consult the interest of it. I shall end my remarks on the Grumbling-Hive, with assuring the champions of national frugality, that it would be impossible for the Persians and other eastern people, to purchase the vast quantities of fine English cloth they consume, should we load our women with less cargoes of Asiatic silks. [155]

1 This was wrote in 1714. 

2 P. 212, 213. First Edit. 175, 176. 

3 P. 215. First Edit. 178. 

4 P. 106. First Edit. 77. 

5 P. 116. First Edit. 87. 

6 P. 115, 116. First Edit. 86, 87. 



Charity, is that virtue by which part of that sincere love we have for ourselves, is transferred pure and unmixed to others, not tied to us by the bonds of friendship or consanguinity, and even mere strangers, whom we have no obligation to, nor hope or expect any thing from. If we lessen any ways the rigour of this definition, part of the virtue must be lost. What we do for our friends and kindred, we do partly for ourselves: when a man acts in behalf of nephews or nieces, and says they are my brother’s children, I do it out of charity; he deceives you: for if he is capable, it is expected from him, and he does it partly for his own sake: if he values the esteem of the world, and is nice as to honour and reputation, he is obliged to have a greater regard to them than for strangers, or else he must suffer in his character.

The exercise of this virtue, relates either to opinion, or to action, and is manifested in what we think of others, or what we do for them. To be charitable, then, in the first place, we ought to put the best construction on all that others do or say, that things are capable of. If a man builds a fine house, though he has not one symptom of humility, furnishes it richly, and lays out a good estate in plate and pictures, we ought not to think that he does it out of vanity, but to encourage artists, employ hands, and set the poor to work for the good of his country: and if a man sleeps at church, so he does not snore, we ought to think he shuts his eyes to increase his attention. The reason is, because in our turn we desire that our utmost avarice should pass for frugality; and that for religion, which we know to be hypocrisy. Secondly, that virtue is conspicuous in us, when we bestow our time and labour for nothing, or employ our credit with others, in behalf of those who stand in need of it, and yet could not expect such an assistance from our friendship or nearness of blood. The last branch of charity consists in giving away (while we are alive) what we value ourselves, [156]to such as I have already named; being contented rather to have and enjoy less, than not relieve those who want, and shall be the objects of our choice.

This virtue is often counterfeited by a passion of ours, called Pity or Compassion, which consists in a fellow-feeling and condolence for the misfortunes and calamities of others: all mankind are more or less affected with it; but the weakest minds generally the most. It is raised in us, when the sufferings and misery of other creatures make so forcible an impression upon us, as to make us uneasy. It comes in either at the eye, or ear, or both; and the nearer and more violently the object of compassion strikes those senses, the greater disturbance it causes in us, often to such a degree, as to occasion great pain and anxiety.

Should any of us be locked up in a ground-room, where in a yard joining to it, there was a thriving good humoured child at play, of two or three years old, so near us that through the grates of the window we could almost touch it with our hand; and if while we took delight in the harmless diversion, and imperfect prittle-prattle of the innocent babe, a nasty overgrown sow should come in upon the child, set it a screaming, and frighten it out of its wits; it is natural to think, that this would make us uneasy, and that with crying out, and making all the menacing noise we could, we should endeavour to drive the sow away. But if this should happen to be an half-starved creature, that, mad with hunger, went roaming about in quest of food, and we should behold the ravenous brute, in spite of our cries, and all the threatening gestures we could think of, actually lay hold of the helpless infant, destroy and devour it; to see her widely open her destructive jaws, and the poor lamb beat down with greedy haste; to look on the defenceless posture of tender limbs first trampled on, then tore asunder; to see the filthy snout digging in the yet living entrails, suck up the smoking blood, and now and then to hear the crackling of the bones, and the cruel animal with savage pleasure grunt over the horrid banquet; to hear and see all this, what tortures would it give the soul beyond expression! let me see the most shining virtue the moralists have to boast of, so manifest either to the person possessed of it, or those who behold his actions: let me see courage, or the love of ones country so apparent without any mixture, cleared and distinct, the first from pride and anger, the other from the love of glory, and every shadow of self-interest, as this pity would be cleared and distinct from [157]all other passions. There would be no need of virtue or self-denial to be moved at such a scene; and not only a man of humanity, of good morals and commiseration, but likewise an highwayman, an house-breaker, or a murderer could feel anxieties on such an occasion; how calamitous soever a man’s circumstances might be, he would forget his misfortunes for the time, and the most troublesome passion would give way to pity, and not one of the species has a heart so obdurate or engaged, that it would not ache at such a sight, as no language has an epithet to fit it.

Many will wonder at what I have said of pity, that it comes in at the eye or ear, but the truth of this will be known when we consider that the nearer the object is, the more we suffer, and the more remote it is, the less we are troubled with it. To see people executed for crimes, if it is a great way off, moves us but little, in comparison to what it does when we are near enough to see the motion of the soul in their eyes, observe their fears and agonies, and are able to read the pangs in every feature of the face. When the object is quite removed from our senses, the relation of the calamities or the reading of them, can never raise in us the passion called pity. We may be concerned at bad news, the loss and misfortunes of friends and those whose cause we espouse, but this is not pity, but grief or sorrow; the same as we feel for the death of those we love, or the destruction of what we value.

When we hear that three or four thousand men, all strangers to us, are killed with the sword, or forced into some river where they are drowned, we say, and perhaps believe, that we pity them. It is humanity bids us have compassion with the sufferings of others; and reason tells us, that whether a thing be far off or done in our sight, our sentiments concerning it ought to be the same, and we should be ashamed to own, that we felt no commiseration in us when any thing requires it. He is a cruel man, he has no bowels of compassion; all these things are the effects of reason and humanity, but nature makes no compliments; when the object does not strike, the body does not feel it; and when men talk of pitying people out of sight, they are to be believed in the same manner as when they say, that they are our humble servants. In paying the usual civilities at first meeting, those who do not see one another every day, are often very glad and very sorry alternately, for five or six times together, in [158]less than two minutes, and yet at parting carry away not a jot more of grief or joy than they met with. The same it is with pity, and it is a choice no more than fear or anger. Those who have a strong and lively imagination, and can make representations of things in their minds, as they would be if they were actually before them, may work themselves up into something that resembles compassion; but this is done by art, and often the help of a little enthusiasm, and is only an imitation of pity; the heart feels little of it, and it is as faint as what we suffer at the acting of a tragedy; where our judgment leaves part of the mind uninformed, and to indulge a lazy wantonness, suffers it to be led into an error, which is necessary to have a passion raised, the slight strokes of which are not unpleasant to us, when the soul is in an idle unactive humour.

As pity is often by ourselves and in our own cases mistaken for charity, so it assumes the shape, and borrows the very name of it; a beggar asks you to exert that virtue for Jesus Christ’s sake, but all the while his great design is to raise your pity. He represents to your view the first side of his ailments and bodily infirmities; in chosen words he gives you an epitome of his calamities, real or fictitious; and while he seems to pray God that he will open your heart, he is actually at work upon your ears; the greatest profligate of them flies to religion for aid, and assists his cant with a doleful tone, and a studied dismality of gestures: but he trusts not to one passion only, he flatters your pride with titles and names of honour and distinction; your avarice he sooths with often repeating to you the smallness of the gift he sues for, and conditional promises of future returns, with an interest extravagant beyond the statute of usury, though out of the reach of it. People not used to great cities, being thus attacked on all sides, are commonly forced to yield, and cannot help giving something though they can hardly spare it themselves. How oddly are we managed by self-love! It is ever watching in our defence, and yet, to sooth a predominant passion, obliges us to act against our interest: for when pity seizes us, if we can but imagine, that we contribute to the relief of him we have compassion with, and are instrumental to the lessening of his sorrows, it eases us, and therefore pitiful people often give an alms, when they really feel that they would rather not. [159]

When sores are very bare, or seem otherwise afflicting in an extraordinary manner, and the beggar can bear to have them exposed to the cold air, it is very shocking to some people; it is a shame, they cry, such sights should be suffered; the main reason is, it touches their pity feelingly, and at the same time they are resolved, either because they are covetous, or count it an idle expence, to give nothing, which makes them more uneasy. They turn their eyes, and where the cries are dismal, some would willingly stop their ears if they were not ashamed. What they can do is to mend their pace, and be very angry in their hearts that beggars should be about the streets. But it is with pity as it is with fear, the more we are conversant with objects that excite either passion, the less we are disturbed by them, and those to whom all these scenes and tones are by custom made familiar, they make little impression upon. The only thing the industrious beggar has left to conquer those fortified hearts, if he can walk either with or without crutches, is to follow close, and with uninterrupted noise teaze and importune them, to try if he can make them buy their peace. Thus thousands give money to beggars from the same motive as they pay their corn-cutter, to walk easy. And many a halfpenny is given to impudent and designedly persecuting rascals, whom, if it could be done handsomely, a man would cane with much greater satisfaction. Yet all this, by the courtesy of the country, is called charity.

The reverse of pity is malice: I have spoke of it where I treat of envy. Those who know what it is to examine themselves, will soon own that it is very difficult to trace the root and origin of this passion. It is one of those we are most ashamed of, and therefore the hurtful part of it is easily subdued and corrected by a judicious education. When any body near us stumbles, it is natural even before reflection, to stretch out our hands to hinder, or at least break the fall, which shows that while we are calm we are rather bent to pity. But though malice by itself is little to be feared, yet assisted with pride it is often mischievous, and becomes most terrible when egged on and heightened by anger. There is nothing that more readily or more effectually extinguishes pity than this mixture, which is called cruelty: from whence we may learn, that to perform a meritorious action, it is not sufficient barely to conquer a passion, unless it likewise be done from a laudable principle, and consequently how necessary that clause [160]was in the definition of virtue, that our endeavours were to proceed from a rational ambition of being good.

Pity, as I have said somewhere else, is the most amiable of all our passions, and there are not many occasions, on which we ought to conquer or curb it. A surgeon may be as compassionate as he pleases, so it does not make him omit or forbear to perform what he ought to do. Judges likewise, and juries, may be influenced with pity, if they take care that plain laws and justice itself are not infringed, and do not suffer by it. No pity does more mischief in the world, than what is excited by the tenderness of parents, and hinders them from managing their children, as their rational love to them would require, and themselves could wish it. The sway likewise which this passion bears in the affections of women, is more considerable than is commonly imagined, and they daily commit faults that are altogether ascribed to lust, and yet are in a great measure owing to pity.

What I named last is not the only passion that mocks and resembles charity; pride and vanity have built more hospitals than all the virtues together. Men are so tenacious of their possessions, and selfishness is so riveted in our nature, that whoever can but any ways conquer it shall have the applause of the public, and all the encouragement imaginable to conceal his frailty, and sooth any other appetite he shall have a mind to indulge. The man that supplies, with his private fortune, what the whole must otherwise have provided for, obliges every member of the society, and, therefore, all the world are ready to pay him their acknowledgment, and think themselves in duty bound to pronounce all such actions virtuous, without examining, or so much as looking into the motives from which they were performed. Nothing is more destructive to virtue or religion itself, than to make men believe, that giving money to the poor, though they should not part with it till after death, will make a full atonement in the next world, for the sins they have committed in this. A villain, who has been guilty of a barbarous murder, may, by the help of false witnesses, escape the punishment he deserved: he prospers, we will say, heaps up great wealth, and, by the advice of his father confessor, leaves all his estate to a monastery, and his children beggars. What fine amends has this good Christian made for his crime, and what an honest man was the priest who directed his conscience? He who parts with all he has in his life-time, whatever principle he [161]acts from, only gives away what was his own; but the rich miser who refuses to assist his nearest relations while he is alive, though they never designedly disobliged him, and disposes of his money, for what we call charitable uses, after his death, may imagine of his goodness what he pleases, but he robs his posterity. I am now thinking of a late instance of charity, a prodigious gift, that has made a great noise in the world: I have a mind to set it in the light I think it deserves, and beg leave, for once, to please pedants, to treat it somewhat rhetorically.

That a man, with small skill in physic, and hardly any learning, should, by vile arts, get into practice, and lay up great wealth, is no mighty wonder; but, that he should so deeply work himself into the good opinion of the world as to gain the general esteem of a nation, and establish a reputation beyond all his contemporaries, with no other qualities but a perfect knowledge of mankind, and a capacity of making the most of it, is something extraordinary. If a man arrived to such a height of glory should be almost distracted with pride, sometime give his attendance on a servant or any mean person for nothing, and, at the same time, neglect a nobleman that gives exorbitant fees, at other times refuse to leave his bottle for his business, without any regard to the quality of the persons that sent for him, or the danger they are in: if he should be surly and morose, affect to be an humourist, treat his patients like dogs, though people of distinction, and value no man but what would deify him, and never call in question the certainty of his oracles: if he should insult all the world, affront the first nobility, and extend his insolence even to the royal family: if, to maintain as well as to increase the fame of his sufficiency, he should scorn to consult with his betters on what emergency soever, look down with contempt on the most deserving of his profession, and never confer with any other physician but what will pay homage to his superior genius, creep to his humour, and never approach him but with all the slavish obsequiousness a court-flatterer can treat a prince with: If a man, in his lifetime, should discover, on the one hand, such manifest symptoms of superlative pride, and an insatiable greediness after wealth at the same time, and, on the other, no regard to religion or affection to his kindred, no compassion to the poor, and hardly any humanity to his fellow-creatures, if he gave no proofs that he loved his [162]country, had a public spirit, or was a lover of arts, of books, or of literature, what must we judge of his motive, the principle he acted from, when, after his death, we find that he has left a trifle among his relations who stood in need of it, and an immense treasure to an university that did not want it.

Let a man be as charitable as it is possible for him to be without forfeiting his reason or good sense: can he think otherwise, but that this famous physician did, in the making of his will, as in every thing else, indulge his darling passion, entertaining his vanity with the happiness of the contrivance? when he thought on the monuments and inscriptions, with all the sacrifices of praise that would be made to him, and, above all, the yearly tribute of thanks, of reverence, and veneration that would be paid to his memory, with so much pomp and solemnity; when he considered, how in all these performances, wit and invention would be racked, art and eloquence ransacked to find out encomiums suitable to the public spirit, the munificence and the dignity of the benefactor, and the artful gratitude of the receivers; when he thought on, I say, and considered these things, it must have thrown his ambitious soul into vast ecstasies of pleasure, especially when he ruminated on the duration of his glory, and the perpetuity he would by this means procure to his name. Charitable opinions are often stupidly false; when men are dead and gone, we ought to judge of their actions, as we do of books, and neither wrong their understanding nor our own. The British Æsculapius was undeniably a man of sense, and if he had been influenced by charity, a public spirit, or the love of learning, and had aimed at the good of mankind in general, or that of his own profession in particular, and acted from any of these principles, he could never have made such a will; because so much wealth might have been better managed, and a man of much less capacity would have found out several better ways of laying out the money. But if we consider, that he was as undeniably a man of vast pride, as he was a man of sense, and give ourselves leave only to surmise, that this extraordinary gift might have proceeded from such a motive, we shall presently discover the excellency of his parts, and his consummate knowledge of the world: for, if a man would render himself immortal, be ever praised and deified after his death, and have all the acknowledgment, the honours, and compliments [163]paid to his memory, that vain glory herself could wish for, I do not think it in human skill to invent a more effectual method. Had he followed arms, behaved himself in five-and-twenty sieges, and as many battles, with the bravery of an Alexander, and exposed his life and limbs to all the fatigues and dangers of war for fifty campaigns together; or devoting himself to the muses, sacrificed his pleasure, his rest, and his health to literature, and spent all his days in a laborious study, and the toils of learning; or else, abandoning all worldly interest, excelled in probity, temperance, and austerity of life, and ever trod in the strictest path of virtue, he would not so effectually have provided for the eternity of his name, as after a voluptuous life, and the luxurious gratification of his passions, he has now done without any trouble or self denial, only by the choice in the disposal of his money, when he was forced to leave it.

A rich miser, who is thoroughly selfish, and would receive the interest of his money, even after his death, has nothing else to do than to defraud his relations, and leave his estate to some famous university; they are the best markets to buy immortality at with little merit: in them knowledge, wit, and penetration are the growth, I had almost said the manufacture of the place: there men are profoundly skilled in human nature, and know what it is their benefactors want; and their extraordinary bounties shall always meet with an extraordinary recompence, and the measure of the gift is ever the standard of their praises, whether the donor be a physician or a tinker, when once the living witnesses that might laugh at them are extinct. I can never think on the anniversary of the thanksgiving-day decreed to a great man, but it puts me in mind of the miraculous cures, and other surprising things that will be said of him a hundred years hence; and I dare prognosticate, that before the end of the present century, he will have stories forged in his favour (for rhetoricians are never upon oath) that shall be as fabulous, at least, as any legends of the saints.

Of all this our subtle benefactor was not ignorant; he understood universities, their genius, and their politics, and from thence foresaw and knew, that the incense to be offered to him would not cease with the present or few succeeding generations, and that it would not only for the trifling space of three or four hundred years, but that it would continue to be paid to him through all changes and revolutions of [164]government and religion, as long as the nation subsists, and the island itself remains.

It is deplorable that the proud should have such temptations to wrong their lawful heirs: For when a man in ease and affluence, brim-full of vain glory, and humoured in his pride by the greatest of a polite nation, has such an infallible security in petto for an everlasting homage and adoration to his manes to be paid in such an extraordinary manner, he is like a hero in battle, who, in feasting of his own imagination, tastes all the felicity of enthusiasm. It buys him up in sickness, relieves him in pain, and either guards him against, or keeps from his view all the terrors of death, and the most dismal apprehensions of futurity.

Should it be said, that to be thus censorious, and look into matters, and men’s consciences with that nicety, will discourage people from laying out their money this way; and that, let the money and the motive of the donor be what they will, he that receives the benefit is the gainer, I would not disown the charge, but am of opinion, that this is no injury to the public, should one prevent men from crowding too much treasure into the dead stock of the kingdom. There ought to be a vast disproportion between the active and unactive part of the society to make it happy, and where this is not regarded, the multitude of gifts and endowments may soon be excessive and detrimental to a nation. Charity, where it is too extensive, seldom fails of promoting sloth and idleness, and is good for little in the commonwealth but to breed drones, and destroy industry. The more colleges and alms-houses you build, the more you may. The first founders and benefactors may have just and good intentions, and would perhaps, for their own reputations, seem to labour for the most laudable purposes, but the executors of those wills, the governors that come after him, have quite other views, and we seldom see charities long applied as it was first intended they should be. I have no design that is cruel, nor the least aim that savours of inhumanity. To have sufficient hospitals for sick and wounded, I look upon as an indispensable duty both in peace and war: Young children without parents, old age without support, and all that are disabled from working, ought to be taken care of with tenderness and alacrity. But as, on the one hand, I would have none neglected that are helpless, and really necessitous without being wanting to themselves, so, on the [165]other, I would not encourage beggary or laziness in the poor: All should be set to work that are anywise able, and scrutinies should be made even among the infirm: Employments might be found out for most of our lame, and many that are unfit for hard labour, as well as the blind, as long as their health and strength would allow of it. What I have now under consideration leads me naturally to that kind of distraction the nation has laboured under for some time, the enthusiastic passion for Charity-Schools.

The generality are so bewitched with the usefulness and excellency of them, that whoever dares openly oppose them is in danger of being stoned by the rabble. Children that are taught the principles of religion, and can read the word of God, have a greater opportunity to improve in virtue and good morality, and must certainly be more civilized than others, that are suffered to run at random, and have nobody to look after them. How perverse must be the judgment of those, who would not rather see children decently dressed, with clean linen at least once a-week, that, in an orderly manner, follow their master to church, than in every open place, meet with a company of blackguards without shirts or any thing whole about them, that, insensible of their misery, are continually increasing it with oaths and imprecations! Can any one doubt but these are the great nursery of thieves and pickpockets? What numbers of felons, and other criminals, have we tried and convicted every sessions! This will be prevented by charity-schools; and when the children of the poor receive a better education, the society will, in a few years, reap the benefit of it, and the nation be cleared of so many miscreants, as now this great city, and all the country about it, are filled with.

This is the general cry, and he that speaks the least word against it, an uncharitable, hard-hearted and inhuman, if not a wicked, profane, and atheistical wretch. As to the comeliness of the sight, nobody disputes it; but I would not have a nation pay too dear for so transient a pleasure; and if we might set aside the finery of the show, every thing that is material in this popular oration might soon be answered.

As to religion, the most knowing and polite part of a nation have every where the least of it; craft has a greater hand in making rogues than stupidity, and vice, in general, is nowhere more predominant than where arts and sciences flourish. Ignorance is, to a proverb, counted to be the mother [166]of devotion; and it is certain, that we shall find innocence and honesty nowhere more general than among the most illiterate, the poor silly country people. The next to be considered, are the manners and civility that by charity-schools are to be grafted into the poor of the nation. I confess that, in my opinion, to be in any degree possessed of what I named, is a frivolous, if not a hurtful quality, at least nothing is less requisite in the laborious poor. It is not compliments we want of them, but their work and assiduity. But I give up this article with all my heart; good manners we will say are necessary to all people, but which way will they be furnished with them in a charity-school? Boys there may be taught to pull off their caps promiscuously to all they meet, unless it be a beggar: But that they should acquire in it any civility beyond that I cannot conceive.

The master is not greatly qualified, as may be guessed by his salary, and if he could teach them manners he has not time for it: while they are at school they are either learning or saying their lesson to him, or employed in writing or arithmetic; and as soon as school is done, they are as much at liberty as other poor people’s children. It is precept, and the example of parents, and those they eat, drink and converse with, that have an influence upon the minds of children: reprobate parents that take ill courses, and are regardless to their children, will not have a mannerly civilized offspring though they went to a charity-school till they were married. The honest pains-taking people, be they never so poor, if they have any notion of goodness and decency themselves, will keep their children in awe, and never suffer them to rake about the streets, and lie out a-nights. Those who will work themselves, and have any command over their children, will make them do something or other that turns to profit as soon as they are able, be it never so little; and such are so ungovernable, that neither words nor blows can work upon them, no charity-school will mend; nay, experience teaches us, that among the charity-boys there are abundance of bad ones that swear and curse about, and, bar the clothes, are as much blackguard as ever Tower-hill or St. James’s produced.

I am now come to the enormous crimes, and vast multitude of malefactors, that are all laid upon the want of this notable education. That abundance of thefts and robberies are daily committed in and about the city, and great numbers yearly suffer death for those crimes is undeniable: but [167]because this is ever hooked in, when the usefulness of charity-schools is called in question, as if there was no dispute, but they would in a great measure remedy, and in time prevent those disorders; I intend to examine into the real causes of those mischiefs so justly complained of, and doubt not but to make it appear that charity-schools, and every thing else that promotes idleness, and keeps the poor from working, are more accessary to the growth of villany, than the want of reading and writing, or even the grossest ignorance and stupidity.

Here I must interrupt myself to obviate the clamours of some impatient people, who, upon reading of what I said last, will cry out, that far from encouraging idleness, they bring up their charity-children to handicrafts, as well as trades, and all manner of honest labour. I promise them that I shall take notice of that hereafter, and answer it without stifling the least thing that can be said in their behalf.

In a populous city, it is not difficult for a young rascal, that has pushed himself into a crowd, with a small hand and nimble fingers, to whip away a handkerchief or snuff-box, from a man who is thinking on business, and regardless of his pocket. Success in small crimes seldom fails of ushering in greater; and he that picks pockets with impunity at twelve, is likely to be a house-breaker at sixteen, and a thorough-paced villain long before he is twenty. Those who are cautious as well as bold, and no drunkards, may do a world of mischief before they are discovered: and this is one of the greatest inconveniencies of such vast overgrown cities, as London or Paris; that they harbour rogues and villains as granaries do vermin; they afford a perpetual shelter to the worst of people, and are places of safety to thousands of criminals, who daily commit thefts and burglaries, and yet, by often changing their places of abode, may conceal themselves for many years, and will perhaps for ever escape the hands of justice, unless by chance they are apprehended in a fact. And when they are taken, the evidences perhaps want clearness, or are otherwise insufficient; the depositions are not strong enough; juries and often judges are touched with compassion; prosecutors though vigorous at first, often relent before the time of trial comes on: few men prefer the public safety to their own ease; a man of good-nature is not easily reconciled with taking away of another man’s life, though he has deserved the gallows. To be the cause of any [168]ones death, though justice requires it, is what most people is startled at, especially men of conscience and probity, when they want judgment or resolution: as this is the reason that thousands escape that deserve to be capitally punished, so it is likewise the cause that there are so many offenders, who boldly venture, in hopes that if they are taken they shall have the same good fortune of getting off.

But if men did imagine, and were fully persuaded, that as surely as they committed a fact that deserved hanging, so surely they would be hanged; executions would be very rare, and the most desperate felon would almost as soon hang himself as he would break open a house. To be stupid and ignorant is seldom the character of a thief. Robberies on the highway, and other bold crimes, are generally perpetrated by rogues of spirit, and a genius; and villains of any fame are commonly subtle cunning fellows, that are well versed in the method of trials, and acquainted with every quirk in the law that can be of use to them; that overlook not the smallest flaw in an indictment, and know how to make an advantage of the least slip of an evidence, and every thing else, that can serve their turn to bring them off.

It is a mighty saying, that it is better that five hundred guilty people should escape, than that one innocent person should suffer: this maxim is only true as to futurity, and in relation to another world; but it is very false in regard to the temporal welfare of society. It is a terrible thing a man should be put to death for a crime he is not guilty of; yet so oddly circumstances may meet in the infinite variety of accidents, that it is possible it should come to pass, all the wisdom that judges, and consciousness that juries may be possessed of, notwithstanding. But where men endeavour to avoid this, with all the care and precaution human prudence is able to take, should such a misfortune happen perhaps once or twice in half a score years, on condition that all that time justice should be administered with all the strictness and severity, and not one guilty person suffered to escape with impunity, it would be a vast advantage to a nation, not only as to the securing of every ones property, and the peace of the society in general, but would likewise save the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of necessitous wretches, that are daily hanged for trifles, and who would never have attempted any thing against the law, or at least have ventured on capital crimes, [169]if the hopes of getting off, should they be taken, had not been one of the motives that animated their resolution. Therefore where the laws are plain and severe, all the remissness in the execution of them, lenity of juries, and frequency of pardons, are in the main a much greater cruelty to a populous state or kingdom, than the use of racks and the most exquisite torments.

Another great cause of those evils, is to be looked for in the want of precaution in those that are robbed, and the many temptations that are given. Abundance of families are very remiss in looking after the safety of their houses; some are robbed by the carelessness of servants, others for having grudged the price of bars and shutters. Brass and pewter are ready money, they are every where about the house; plate perhaps and money are better secured; but an ordinary lock is soon opened, when once a rogue is got in.

It is manifest, then, that many different causes concur, and several scarce avoidable evils contribute to the misfortune of being pestered with pilferers, thieves, and robbers, which all countries ever were, and ever will be, more or less, in and near considerable towns, more especially vast and overgrown cities. It is opportunity makes the thief; carelessness and neglect in fastening doors and windows, the excessive tenderness of juries and prosecutors, the small difficulty of getting a reprieve and frequency of pardons; but above all, the many examples of those who are known to be guilty, are destitute both of friends and money, and yet by imposing on the jury, baffling the witnesses, or other tricks and stratagems, find out means to escape the gallows. These are all strong temptations that conspire to draw in the necessitous, who want principle and education.

To these you may add as auxiliaries to mischief, an habit of sloth and idleness, and strong aversion to labour and assiduity, which all young people will contract that are not brought up to downright working, or at least kept employed most days in the week, and the greatest part of the day. All children that are idle, even the best of either sex, are bad company to one another whenever they meet.

It is not, then, the want of reading and writing, but the concurrence and complication of more substantial evils, that are the perpetual nursery of abandoned profligates in great and opulent nations; and whoever would accuse ignorance, stupidity, and dastardness, as the first, and what the physicians [170]call the procataric cause, let him examine into the lives, and narrowly inspect the conversations and actions of ordinary rogues and our common felons, and he will find the reverse to be true, and that the blame ought rather to be laid on the excessive cunning and subtlety, and too much knowledge in general, which the worst of miscreants and the scum of the nation are possessed of.

Human nature is every where the same: genius, wit, and natural parts, are always sharpened by application, and may be as much improved in the practice of the meanest villany, as they can in the exercise of industry, or the most heroic virtue. There is no station of life, where pride, emulation, and the love of glory may not be displayed. A young pick-pocket, that makes a jest of his angry prosecutor, and dextrously wheedles the old justice into an opinion of his innocence, is envied by his equals, and admired by all the fraternity. Rogues have the same passions to gratify as other men, and value themselves on their honour and faithfulness to one another, their courage, intrepidity, and other manly virtues, as well as people of better professions; and in daring enterprises, the resolution of a robber may be as much supported by his pride, as that of an honest soldier, who fights for his country.

The evils then we complain of, are owing to quite other causes than what we assign for them. Men must be very wavering in their sentiments, if not inconsistent with themselves, that at one time will uphold knowledge and learning to be the most proper means to promote religion, and defend at another, that ignorance is the mother of devotion.

But if the reasons alleged for this general education are not the true ones, whence comes it, that the whole kingdom, both great and small, are so unanimously fond of it? There is no miraculous conversion to be perceived among us, no universal bent to goodness and morality that has on a sudden overspread the island; there is as much wickedness as ever, charity is as cold, and real virtue as scarce: the year seventeen hundred and twenty, has been as prolific in deep villany, and remarkable for selfish crimes and premeditated mischief, as can be picked out of any century whatever; not committed by poor ignorant rogues, that could neither read nor write, but the better sort of people as to wealth and education, that most of them were great masters in arithmetic, and lived in reputation and splendor. To say, that when a [171]thing is once in vogue, the multitude follows the common cry, that charity schools are in fashion in the same manner as hooped petticoats, by caprice, and that no more reason can be given for the one than the other, I am afraid will not be satisfactory to the curious, and at the same time I doubt much, whether it will be thought of great weight by many of my readers, what I can advance besides.

The real source of this present folly, is certainly very abstruse and remote from sight; but he that affords the least light in matters of great obscurity, does a kind office to the inquirers. I am willing to allow, that in the beginning, the first design of those schools, was good and charitable; but to know what increases them so extravagantly, and who are the chief promoters of them now, we must make our search another way, and address ourselves to the rigid party-men, that are zealous for their cause, either episcopacy or presbytery; but as the latter are but the poor mimicks of the first, though equally pernicious, we shall confine ourselves to the national church, and take a turn through a parish that is not blessed yet with a charity school.—But here I think myself obliged in conscience to ask pardon of my reader, for the tiresome dance I am going to lead him, if he intends to follow me, and therefore I desire, that he would either throw away the book and leave me, or else arm himself with the patience of Job, to endure all the impertinences of low life; the cant and tittle-tattle he is like to meet with before he can go half a street’s length.

First we must look out among the young shop-keepers, that have not half the business they could wish for, and consequently time to spare. If such a new-beginner has but a little pride more than ordinary, and loves to be meddling, he is soon mortified in the vestry, where men of substance and long standing, or else your pert litigious or opinionated bawlers, that have obtained the title of notable men, commonly bear the sway. His stock and perhaps credit are but inconsiderable, and yet he finds within himself a strong inclination to govern. A man thus qualified, thinks it a thousand pities there is no charity-school in the parish: he communicates his thoughts to two or three of his acquaintance first; they do the same to others, and in a month’s time there is nothing else talked of in the parish. Every body invents discourses and arguments to the purpose, according to his abilities.—It is an arrant shame, says one, to see so many poor that are not [172]able to educate their children, and no provision made for them, where we have so many rich people. What do you talk of rich, answers another, they are the worst: they must have so many servants, coaches and horses: they can lay out hundreds, and some of them thousands of pounds for jewels and furniture, but not spare a shilling to a poor creature that wants it: when modes and fashions are discoursed of, they can hearken with great attention, but are wilfully deaf to the cries of the poor. Indeed, neighbour, replies the first, you are very right, I do not believe there is a worse parish in England for charity than ours: It is such as you and I that would do good if it was in our power, but of those that are able there is very few that are willing.

Others more violent, fall upon particular persons, and fasten slander on every man of substance they dislike, and a thousand idle stories in behalf of charity, are raised and handed about to defame their betters. While this is doing throughout the neighbourhood, he that first broached the pious thought, rejoices to hear so many come into it, and places no small merit in being the first cause of so much talk and bustle: but neither himself nor his intimates, being considerable enough to set such a thing on foot, some body must be found out who has greater interest: he is to be addressed to, and showed the necessity, the goodness, the usefulness, and Christianity of such a design: next he is to be flattered.—Indeed, Sir, if you would espouse it, nobody has a greater influence over the best of the parish than yourself: one word of you I am sure would engage such a one: if you once would take it to heart, Sir, I would look upon the thing as done, Sir.—If by this kind of rhetoric they can draw in some old fool, or conceited busy-body that is rich, or at least reputed to be such, the thing begins to be feasible, and is discoursed of among the better sort. The parson or his curate, and the lecturer, are every where extolling the pious project. The first promoters meanwhile are indefatigable: if they were guilty of any open vice, they either sacrifice it to the love of reputation, or at least grow more cautious and learn to play the hypocrite, well knowing that to be flagitious or noted for enormities, is inconsistent with the zeal which they pretend to, for works of supererogation and excessive piety.

The number of these diminutive patriots increasing, they form themselves into a society, and appoint stated meetings, where every one concealing his vices, has liberty to display [173]his talents. Religion is the theme, or else the misery of the times occasioned by atheism and profaneness. Men of worth, who live in splendour, and thriving people that have a great deal of business of their own, are seldom seen among them. Men of sense and education likewise, if they have nothing to do, generally look out for better diversion. All those who have a higher aim, shall have their attendance easily excused, but contribute they must, or else lead a weary life in the parish. Two sorts of people come in voluntarily, stanch churchmen, who have good reasons for it in petto, and your sly sinners that look upon it as meritorious, and hope that it will expiate their guilt, and Satan be nonsuited by it at a small expence. Some come into it to save their credit, others to retrieve it, according as they have either lost or are afraid of losing it: others again do it prudentially, to increase their trade and get acquaintance, and many would own to you, if they dared to be sincere and speak the truth, that they would never have been concerned in it, but to be better known in the parish. Men of sense that see the folly of it, and have nobody to fear, are persuaded into it not to be thought singular, or to run counter to all the world; even those who are resolute at first in denying it, it is ten to one but at last they are teazed and importuned into a compliance. The charge being calculated for most of the inhabitants, the insignificancy of it is another argument that prevails much, and many are drawn in to be contributors, who, without that, would have stood out and strenuously opposed the whole scheme.

The governors are made of the middling people, and many inferior to that class are made use of, if the forwardness of their zeal can but over-balance the meanness of their condition. If you should ask these worthy rulers, why they take upon them so much trouble, to the detriment of their own affairs and loss of time, either singly or the whole body of them, they would all unanimously answer, that it is the regard they have for religion and the church, and the pleasure they take in contributing to the good, and eternal welfare of so many poor innocents, that in all probability would run into perdition, in these wicked times of scoffers and freethinkers. They have no thought of interest; even those who deal in and provide these children with what they want, have not the least design of getting by what they sell for their use; and though in every thing else, their avarice and greediness after lucre be glaringly conspicuous, in this affair they [174]are wholly divested from selfishness, and have no worldly ends. One motive above all, which is none of the least with the most of them, is to be carefully concealed, I mean the satisfaction there is in ordering and directing: there is a melodious sound in the word governor, that is charming to mean people: every body admires sway and superiority; even imperium in belluas has its delights: there is a pleasure in ruling over any thing; and it is this chiefly that supports human nature in the tedious slavery of school-masters. But if there be the least satisfaction in governing the children, it must be ravishing to govern the school-master himself. What fine things are said and perhaps wrote to a governor, when a school-master is to be chosen! How the praises tickle, and how pleasant it is not to find out the fulsomeness of the flattery, the stiffness of the expressions, or the pedantry of the stile!

Those who can examine nature, will always find, that what these people most pretend to is the least, and what they utterly deny their greatest motive. No habit or quality is more easily acquired than hypocrisy, nor any thing sooner learned than to deny the sentiments of our hearts, and the principle we act from: but the seeds of every passion are innate to us, and nobody comes into the world without them. If we will mind the pastimes and recreations of young children, we shall observe nothing more general in them, than that all who are suffered to do it, take delight in playing with kittens and little puppy dogs. What makes them always lugging and pulling the poor creatures about the house, proceeds from nothing else but that they can do with them what they please, and put them into what posture and shape they list; and the pleasure they receive from this, is originally owing to the love of dominion, and that usurping temper all mankind are born with.

When this great work is brought to bear, and actually accomplished, joy and serenity seem to overspread the face of every inhabitant, which likewise to account for, I must make a short digression. There are every where slovenly sorry fellows, that are used to be seen always ragged and dirty: these people we look upon as miserable creatures in general, and unless they are very remarkable, we take little notice of them, and yet among these there are handsome and well-shaped men, as well as among their betters. But if one of these turns soldier, what a vast alteration is there observed in [175]him for the better, as soon as he is put in his red coat, and we see him look smart with his grenadier’s cap and a great ammunition sword! All who knew him before are struck with other ideas of his qualities, and the judgment which both men and women form of him in their minds, is very different from what it was. There is something analogous to this in the sight of charity children; there is a natural beauty in uniformity, which most people delight in. It is diverting to the eye to see children well matched, either boys or girls, march two and two in good order; and to have them all whole and tight in the same clothes and trimming, must add to the comeliness of the sight; and what makes it still more generally entertaining, is the imaginary share which even servants, and the meanest in the parish, have in it, to whom it costs nothing: our parish church, our charity children. In all this there is a shadow of property that tickles every body, that has a right to make use of the words, but more especially those who actually contribute, and had a great hand in advancing the pious work.

It is hardly conceivable, that men should so little know their own hearts, and be so ignorant of their inward condition, as to mistake frailty, passion, and enthusiasm, for goodness, virtue and charity; yet nothing is more true than that the satisfaction, the joy and transports they feel on the accounts I named, pass with these miserable judges for principles of piety and religion. Whoever will consider of what I have said for two or three pages, and suffer his imagination to rove a little further on what he has heard and seen concerning this subject, will be furnished with sufficient reasons, abstract from the love of God and true Christianity, why charity-schools are in such uncommon vogue, and so unanimously approved of and admired among all sorts and conditions of people. It is a theme which every body can talk of, and understands thoroughly; there is not a more inexhaustible fund for tittle-tattle, and a variety of low conversation in hoy-boats and stage-coaches. If a governor that in behalf of the school or the sermon, exerted himself more than ordinary, happens to be in company, how he is commended by the women, and his zeal and charitable disposition extolled to the skies! Upon my word, sir, says an old lady, we are all very much obliged to you; I do not think any of the other governors could have made interest enough to procure us a bishop; it was on your account, I am told, that his lordship [176]came, though he was not very well: to which the other replies very gravely, that it is his duty, but that he values no trouble nor fatigue, so he can be but serviceable to the children, poor lambs: indeed, says he, I was resolved to get a pair of lawn sleeves, though I rid all night for it, and I am very glad I was not disappointed.

Sometimes the school itself is discoursed of, and of whom in all the parish it is most expected he should build one: The old room where it is now kept is ready to drop down; such a one had a vast estate left him by his uncle, and a great deal of money besides; a thousand pounds would be nothing in his pocket.

At others, the great crowds are talked of that are seen at some churches, and the considerable sums that are gathered; from whence, by an easy transition, they go over to the abilities, the different talents and orthodoxy of clergymen. Dr. —— is a man of great parts and learning, and I believe he is very hearty for the church, but I do not like him for a charity sermon. There is no better man in the world than ——; he forces the money out of their pockets. When he preached last for our children, I am sure there was abundance of people that gave more than they intended when they came to church. I could see it in their faces, and rejoiced at it heartily.

Another charm that renders charity-schools so bewitching to the multitude, is the general opinion established among them, that they are not only actually beneficial to society as to temporal happiness, but likewise that Christianity enjoys and requires of us, we should erect them for our future welfare. They are earnestly and fervently recommended by the whole body of the clergy, and have more labour and eloquence laid out upon them than any other Christian duty; not by young persons, or poor scholars of little credit, but the most learned of our prelates, and the most eminent for orthodoxy, even those who do not often fatigue themselves on any other occasion. As to religion, there is no doubt but they know what is chiefly required of us, and consequently the most necessary to salvation: and as to the world, who should understand the interest of the kingdom better than the wisdom of the nation, of which the lords spiritual are so considerable a branch? The consequence of this sanction is, first, that those, who, with their purses or power, are instrumental to the increase or maintenance of these schools, are tempted to [177]place a greater merit in what they do, than otherwise they could suppose it deserved. Secondly, that all the rest, who either cannot, or will not any wise contribute towards them, have still a very good reason why they should speak well of them; for though it be difficult, in things that interfere with our passions, to act well, it is always in our power to wish well, because it is performed with little cost. There is hardly a person so wicked among the superstitious vulgar, but in the liking he has for charity schools, he imagines to see a glimmering hope that it will make an atonement for his sins, from the same principle as the most vicious comfort themselves with the love and veneration they bear to the church; and the greatest profligates find an opportunity in it to show the rectitude of their inclinations at no expence.

But if all these were not inducements sufficient to make men stand up in defence of the idol I speak of, there is another that will infallibly bribe most people to be advocates for it. We all naturally love triumph, and whoever engages in this course is sure of conquest, at least in nine companies out of ten. Let him dispute with whom he will, considering the speciousness of the pretence, and the majority he has on his side, it is a castle, an impregnable fortress he can never be beat out of; and was the most sober, virtuous man alive to produce all the arguments to prove the detriment charity-schools, at least the multiplicity of them, do to society, which I shall give hereafter, and such as are yet stronger, against the greatest scoundrel in the world, who should only make use of the common cant of charity and religion, the vogue would be against the first, and himself lose his cause in the opinion of the vulgar.

The rise, then, and original of all the bustle and clamour that is made throughout the kingdom in behalf of charity schools, is chiefly built on frailty and human passion, at least it is more than possible that a nation should have the same fondness, and feel the same zeal for them as are shown in ours, and yet not be prompted to it by any principle of virtue or religion. Encouraged by this consideration, I shall, with the greater liberty, attack this vulgar error, and endeavour to make it evident, that far from being beneficial, this forced education is pernicious to the public, the welfare whereof, as it demands of us a regard superior to all other laws and considerations, so it shall be the only apology I intend to make for differing from the present sentiments of the [178]learned and reverend body of our divines, and venturing plainly to deny, what I have just now owned to be openly asserted by most of our bishops, as well as inferior clergy. As our church pretends to no infallibility even in spirituals, her proper province, so it cannot be an affront to her to imagine that she may err in temporals, which are not so much under her immediate care. But to my task.

The whole earth being cursed, and no bread to be had but what we eat in the sweat of our brows, vast toil must be undergone before man can provide himself with necessaries for his sustenance, and the bare support of his corrupt and defective nature, as he is a single creature; but infinitely more to make life comfortable in a civil society, where men are become taught animals, and great numbers of them have, by mutual compact, framed themselves into a body politic; and the more man’s knowledge increases in this state, the greater will be the variety of labour required to make him easy. It is impossible that a society can long subsist, and suffer many of its members to live in idleness, and enjoy all the ease and pleasure they can invent, without having, at the same time, great multitudes of people that to make good this defect will condescend to be quite the reverse, and by use and patience inure their bodies to work for others and themselves besides.

The plenty and cheapness of provisions depends, in a great measure, on the price and value that is set upon this labour, and consequently the welfare of all societies, even before they are tainted with foreign luxury, requires that it should be performed by such of their members as, in the first place, are sturdy and robust, and never used to ease or idleness; and, in the second, soon contented as to the necessaries of life; such as are glad to take up with the coarsest manufacture in every thing they wear, and in their diet have no other aim than to feed their bodies when their stomachs prompt them to eat, and, with little regard to taste or relish, refuse no wholesome nourishment that can be swallowed when men are hungry, or ask any thing for their thirst but to quench it.

As the greatest part of the drudgery is to be done by daylight, so it is by this only that they actually measure the time of their labour without any thought of the hours they are employed, or the weariness they feel; and the hireling in the country must get up in the morning, not because he has [179]rested enough, but because the sun is going to rise. This last article alone would be an intolerable hardship to grown people under thirty, who, during nonage, had been used to lie a-bed as long as they could sleep: but all three together make up such a condition of life, as a man more mildly educated would hardly choose, though it should deliver him from a gaol or a shrew.

If such people there must be, as no great nation can be happy without vast numbers of them, would not a wise legislature cultivate the breed of them with all imaginable care, and provide against their scarcity as he would prevent the scarcity of provision itself? No man would be poor, and fatigue himself for a livelihood, if he could help it: The absolute necessity all stand in for victuals and drink, and in cold climates for clothes and lodging, makes them submit to any thing that can be bore with. If nobody did want, nobody would work; but the greatest hardships are looked upon as solid pleasures, when they keep a man from starving.

From what has been said, it is manifest, that in a free nation, where slaves are not allowed of, the surest wealth consists in a multitude of laborious poor; for besides that they are the never-failing nursery of fleets and armies, without them there could be no enjoyment, and no product of any country could be valuable. To make the society happy, and people easy under the meanest circumstances, it is requisite that great numbers of them should be ignorant, as well as poor. Knowledge both enlarges and multiplies our desires, and the fewer things a man wishes for, the more easily his necessities may be supplied.

The welfare and felicity, therefore, of every state and kingdom, require that the knowledge of the working poor should be confined within the verge of their occupations, and never extended (as to things visible), beyond what relates to their calling. The more a shepherd, a ploughman, or any other peasant, knows of the world, and the things that are foreign to his labour or employment, the less fit he will be to go through the fatigues and hardships of it with cheerfulness and content.

Reading, writing, and arithmetic, are very necessary to those whose business require such qualifications; but where people’s livelihood has no dependence on these arts, they are very pernicious to the poor, who are forced to get their daily bread by their daily labour. Few children make any [180]progress at school, but, at the same time, they are capable of being employed in some business or other, so that every hour those of poor people spend at their book is so much time lost to the society. Going to school, in comparison to working, is idleness, and the longer boys continue in this easy sort of life, the more unfit they will be when grown up for downright labour, both as to strength and inclination. Men who are to remain and end their days in a laborious, tiresome, and painful station of life, the sooner they are put upon it at first, the more patiently they will submit to it for ever after. Hard labour, and the coarsest diet, are a proper punishment to several kinds of malefactors, but to impose either on those that have not been used and brought up to both, is the greatest cruelty, when there is no crime you can charge them with.

Reading and writing are not attained to without some labour of the brain and assiduity, and before people are tolerably versed in either, they esteem themselves infinitely above those who are wholly ignorant of them, often with so little justice and moderation, as if they were of another species. As all mortals have naturally an aversion to trouble and pains-taking, so we are all fond of, and apt to overvalue those qualifications we have purchased at the expence of our ease and quiet for years together. Those who spent a great part of their youth in learning to read, write, and cypher, expect, and not unjustly, to be employed where those qualifications may be of use to them; the generality of them will look upon downright labour with the utmost contempt, I mean labour performed in the service of others in the lowest station of life, and for the meanest consideration. A man, who has had some education, may follow husbandry by choice, and be diligent at the dirtiest and most laborious work; but then the concern must be his own, and avarice, the care of a family, or some other pressing motive, must put him upon it; but he will not make a good hireling, and serve a farmer for a pitiful reward; at least he is not so fit for it as a day labourer that has always been employed about the plough and dung cart, and remembers not that ever he has lived otherwise.

When obsequiousness and mean services are required, we shall always observe that they are never so cheerfully nor so heartily performed, as from inferiors to superiors; I mean inferiors not only in riches and quality, but likewise in [181]knowledge and understanding. A servant can have no unfeigned respect for his master, as soon as he has sense enough to find out that he serves a fool. When we are to learn or to obey, we shall experience in ourselves, that the greater opinion we have of the wisdom and capacity of those that are either to teach or command us, the greater deference we pay to their laws and instructions. No creatures submit contentedly to their equals; and should a horse know as much as a man, I should not desire to be his rider.

Here I am obliged again to make a digression, though I declare I never had a less mind to it than I have at this minute; but I see a thousand rods in piss, and the whole posse of diminutive pedants against me, for assaulting the Christ-cross-row, and opposing the very elements of literature.

This is no panic fear, and the reader will not imagine my apprehensions ill grounded, if he considers what an army of petty tyrants I have to cope with, that all either actually persecute with birch, or else are soliciting for such a preferment. For if I had no other adversaries than the starving wretches of both sexes, throughout the kingdom of Great Britain, that from a natural antipathy to working, have a great dislike to their present employment, and perceiving within a much stronger inclination to command than ever they felt to obey others, think themselves qualified, and wish from their hearts to be masters and mistresses of charity schools, the number of my enemies would, by the most modest computation, amount to one hundred thousand at least.

Methinks I hear them cry out, that a more dangerous doctrine never was broached, and Popery is a fool to it, and ask what brute of a Saracen it is that draws his ugly weapon for the destruction of learning. It is ten to one but they will indict me for endeavouring, by instigation of the prince of darkness, to introduce into these realms greater ignorance and barbarity, than ever nation was plunged into by Goths and Vandals since the light of the gospel first appeared in the world. Whoever labours under the public odium, has always crimes laid to his charge he never was guilty of, and it will be suspected that I have had a hand in obliterating the Holy Scriptures, and perhaps affirmed, that it was at my request that the small Bibles, published by patent in the year 1721, and chiefly made use of in charity schools, were, through badness of print and paper, rendered illegible; which yet I protest I am as innocent of as the child unborn. But I am in a thousand [182]fears; the more I consider my case, the worse I like it, and the greatest comfort I have is in my sincere belief, that hardly any body will mind a word of what I say; or else, if ever the people suspected that what I write would be of any weight to any considerable part of the society, I should not have the courage barely to think on all the trades I should disoblige; and I cannot but smile, when I reflect on the variety of uncouth sufferings that would be prepared for me, if the punishment they would differently inflict upon me was emblematically to point at my crime. For if I was not suddenly stuck full of useless pen knives up to the hilts, the company of stationers would certainly take me in hand, and either have me buried alive in their hall, under a great heap of primers and spelling-books, they would not be able to sell; or else send me up against tide to be bruised to death in a paper mill, that would be obliged to stand still a week upon my account. The ink-makers, at the same time, would, for the public good, offer to choke me with astringents, or drown me in the black liquor that would be left upon their hands; which, if they joined stock, might easily be performed in less than a month; and if I should escape the cruelty of these united bodies, the resentment of a private monopolist would be as fatal to me, and I should soon find myself pelted and knocked on the head with little squat Bibles clasped in brass, and ready armed for mischief, that, charitable learning ceasing, would be fit for nothing but unopened to fight with, and exercises truly polemic.

The digression I spoke of just now, is not the foolish trifle that ended with the last paragraph, and which the grave critic, to whom all mirth is unseasonable, will think very impertinent; but a serious apologetical one I am going to make out of hand, to clear myself from having any design against arts and sciences, as some heads of colleges and other careful preservers of human learning might have apprehended, upon seeing ignorance recommended as a necessary ingredient in the mixture of civil society.

In the first place, I would have near double the number of professors in every university of what there is now. Theology with us is generally well provided, but the two other faculties have very little to boast of, especially physic. Every branch of that art ought to have two or three professors, that would take pains to communicate their skill and knowledge to others. In public lectures, a vain man has great opportunities [183]to set off his parts, but private instructions are more useful to students. Pharmacy, and the knowledge of the simples, are as necessary as anatomy or the history of diseases: it is a shame, that when men have taken their degree, and are by authority intrusted with the lives of the subject, they should be forced to come to London to be acquainted with the Materia Medica, and the composition of medicines, and receive instructions from others that never had university education themselves; it is certain, that in the city I named, there is ten times more opportunity for a man to improve himself in anatomy, botany, pharmacy, and the practice of physic, than at both universities together. What has an oil shop to do with silks; or who would look for hams and pickles at a mercers? Where things are well managed, hospitals are made as subservient to the advancement of students in the art of physic, as they are to the recovery of health in the poor.

Good sense ought to govern men in learning as well as in trade: no man ever bound his son apprentice to a goldsmith to make him a linen draper; then why should he have a divine for his tutor to become a lawyer or a physician? It is true, that the languages, logic and philosophy, should be the first studies in all the learned professions; but there is so little help for physic in our universities that are so rich, and where so many idle people are well paid for eating and drinking, and being magnificently, as well as commodiously lodged, that bar books, and what is common to all the three faculties, a man may as well qualify himself at Oxford or Cambridge to be a Turkey merchant, as he can to be a physician; which is, in my humble opinion, a great sign that some part of the great wealth they are possessed of is not so well applied as it might be.

Professors should, besides their stipends allowed them by the public, have gratifications from every student they teach, that self-interest, as well as emulation and the love of glory, might spur them on to labour and assiduity. When a man excels in any one study or part of learning, and is qualified to teach others, he ought to be procured, if money will purchase him, without regarding what party, or indeed what country or nation he is of, whether black or white. Universities should be public marts for all manner of literature, as your annual fairs, that are kept at Leipsic, Frankfort, and other places in Germany, are for different wares [184]and merchandises, where no difference is made between natives and foreigners, and which men resort to from all parts of the world with equal freedom and equal privilege.

From paying the gratifications I spoke of, I would excuse all students designed for the ministry of the gospel. There is no faculty so immediately necessary to the government of a nation as that of theology, and as we ought to have great numbers of divines for the service of this island, I would not have the meaner people discouraged from bringing up their children to that function. For though wealthy men, if they have many sons, sometimes make one of them a clergyman, as we see even persons of quality take up holy orders, and there are likewise people of good sense, especially divines, that from a principle of prudence bring up their children to that profession, when they are morally assured that they have friends or interest enough, and shall be able, either by a good fellowship at the university, advowsons, or other means to procure them a livelihood: but these produce not the large number of divines that are yearly ordained, and for the bulk of the clergy, we are indebted to another original.

Among the middling people of all trades there are bigots who have a superstitious awe for a gown and cassock: of these there are multitudes that feel an ardent desire of having a son promoted to the ministry of the gospel, without considering what is to become of them afterwards; and many a kind mother in this kingdom, without consulting her own circumstances or her child’s capacity, transported with this laudable wish, is daily feasting on this pleasing thought, and often before her son is twelve years old, mixing maternal love with devotion, throws herself into ecstasies and tears of satisfaction, by reflecting on the future enjoyment she is to receive from seeing him stand in a pulpit, and, with her own ears, hearing him preach the word of God. It is to this religious zeal, or at least the human frailties that pass for and represent it, that we owe the great plenty of poor scholars the nation enjoys. For, considering the inequality of livings, and the smallness of benefices up and down the kingdom, without this happy disposition in parents of small fortune, we could not possibly be furnished from any other quarter with proper persons for the ministry, to attend all the cures of souls, so pitifully provided for, that no mortal could live upon them that had been educated in any tolerable plenty, unless he was possessed of real virtue, which [185]it is foolish and indeed injurious, we should more expect from the clergy than we generally find it in the laity.

The great care I would take to promote that part of learning which is more immediately useful to society, should not make me neglect the more curious and polite, but all the liberal arts, and every branch of literature should be encouraged throughout the kingdom, more than they are, if my wishing could do it. In every county, there should be one or more large schools, erected at the public charge, for Latin and Greek, that should be divided into six or more classes, with particular masters in each of them. The whole should be under the care and inspection of some men of letters in authority, who would not only be titular governors, but actually take pains at least twice a-year, in hearing every class thoroughly examined by the master of it, and not content themselves with judging of the progress the scholars had made for the themes and other exercises that had been made out of their sight.

At the same time, I would discharge and hinder the multiplicity of those petty schools, that never would have had any existence had the masters of them not been extremely indigent. It is a vulgar error, that nobody can spell or write English well without a little smatch of Latin. This is upheld by pedants for their own interest, and by none more strenuously maintained than such of them as are poor scholars in more than one sense; in the mean time it is an abominable falsehood. I have known, and I am still acquainted with several, and some of the fair sex, that never learned any Latin, and yet kept to strict orthography, and write admirable good sense; where, on the other hand, every body may meet with the scribblings of pretended scholars, at least such as went to a grammar school for several years, that have grammar faults and are ill spelled. The understanding of Latin thoroughly, is highly necessary to all that are designed for any of the learned professions, and I would have no gentleman without literature; even those who are to be brought up attorneys, surgeons, and apothecaries, should be much better versed in that language than generally they are; but to youth, who afterwards are to get a livelihood in trades and callings in which Latin is not daily wanted, it is of no use, and the learning of it an evident loss of just so much time and money as are bestowed upon it. When men come into business, what was taught them of it, in those [186]petty schools is either soon forgot, or only fit to make them impertinent, and often very troublesome in company. Few men can forbear valuing themselves on any knowledge they had once acquired, even after they have lost it; and, unless they are very modest and discreet, the undigested scraps which such people commonly remember of Latin, seldom fail of rendering them, at one time or other, ridiculous to those who understand it.

Reading and writing I would treat as we do music and dancing, I would not hinder them nor force them upon the society: as long as there was any thing to be got by them, there would be masters enough to teach them; but nothing should be taught for nothing but at church: and here I would exclude even those who might be designed for the ministry of the gospel; for, if parents are so miserably poor that they cannot afford their children these first elements of learning, it is impudence in them to aspire any further.

It would encourage, likewise, the lower sort of people to give their children this part of education, if they could see them preferred to those of idle sots or sorry rake-hells, that never knew what it was to provide a rag for their brats but by begging. But now, when a boy or a girl are wanted for any small service, we reckon it a duty to employ our charity children before any other. The education of them looks like a reward for being vicious and unactive, a benefit commonly bestowed on parents, who deserve to be punished for shamefully neglecting their families. In one place you may hear a rascal half drunk, damning himself, call for the other pot, and as a good reason for it, add, that his boy is provided for in clothes, and has his schooling for nothing: In another you shall see a poor woman in great necessity, whose child is to be taken care of, because herself is a lazy slut, and never did any thing to remedy her wants in good earnest, but bewailing them at a gin-shop.

If every body’s children are well taught, who, by their own industry, can educate them at our universities, there will be men of learning enough to supply this nation and such another; and reading, writing, or arithmetic, would never be wanting in the business that requires them, though none were to learn them but such whose parents could be at the charge of it. It is not with letters as it is with the gifts of the Holy Ghost, that they may not be purchased with money; and bought wit, if we believe the proverb, is none of the worst. [187]

I thought it necessary to say thus much of learning, to obviate the clamours of the enemies to truth and fair dealing, who, had I not so amply explained myself on this head, would have represented me as a mortal foe to all literature and useful knowledge, and a wicked advocate for universal ignorance and stupidity. I shall now make good my promise, of answering what I know the well-wishers to charity schools would object against me, by saying that they brought up the children under their care, to warrantable and laborious trades, and not to idleness as I did insinuate.

I have sufficiently showed already, why going to school was idleness if compared to working, and exploded this sort of education in the children of the poor, because it incapacitates them ever after for downright labour, which is their proper province, and, in every civil society, a portion they ought not to repine or grumble at, if exacted from them with discretion and humanity. What remains, is, that I should speak as to their putting them out to trades, which I shall endeavour to demonstrate to be destructive to the harmony of a nation, and an impertinent intermeddling with what few of these governors know any thing of.

In order to this, let us examine into the nature of societies, and what the compound ought to consist of, if we would raise it to as high a degree of strength, beauty, and perfection, as the ground we are to do it upon will let us. The variety of services that are required to supply the luxurious and wanton desires, as well as real necessities of man, with all their subordinate callings, is in such a nation as ours prodigious; yet it is certain that though the number of those several occupations be excessively great, it is far from being infinite; if you add one more than is required, it must be superfluous. If a man had a good stock, and the best shop in Cheapside to sell turbants in, he would be ruined; and if Demetrius, or any other silversmith, made nothing but Diana’s shrines, he would not get his bread, now the worship of that goddess is out of fashion. As it is folly to set up trades that are not wanted, so what is next to it is to increase in any one trade, the numbers beyond what are required. As things are managed with us, it would be preposterous to have as many brewers as there are bakers, or as many woollen-drapers as there are shoemakers. This proportion as to numbers, in every trade, finds itself, and is never better kept than when nobody meddles or interferes with it. [188]

People that have children to educate that must get their livelihood, are always consulting and deliberating what trade or calling they are to bring them up to, until they are fixed; and thousands think on this, that hardly think at all on any thing else. First, they confine themselves to their circumstances, and he that can give but ten pounds with his son must not look out for a trade, where they ask an hundred with an apprentice; but the next they think on, is always which will be the most advantageous; if there be a calling where at that time people are more generally employed than they are in any other in the same reach, there are presently half a score fathers ready to supply it with their sons. Therefore the greatest care most companies have, is about the regulation of the number of apprentices. Now, when all trades complain, and perhaps justly, that they are overstocked, you manifestly injure that trade, to which you add one member more than would flow from the nature of society. Besides that, the governors of charity schools do not deliberate so much what trade is the best, but what tradesmen they can get that will take the boys, with such a sum; and few men of substance and experience will have any thing to do with these children; they are afraid of a hundred inconveniencies from the necessitous parents of them: so that they are bound, at least most commonly, either to sots and neglectful masters, or else such as are very needy and do not care what becomes of their apprentices, after they have received the money; by which it seems as if we studied nothing more than to have a perpetual nursery for charity schools.

When all trades and handicrafts are overstocked, it is a certain sign there is a fault in the management of the whole; for it is impossible there should be too many people if the country is able to feed them. Are provisions dear? Whose fault is that, as long as you have ground untilled and hands unemployed? But I shall be answered, that to increase plenty, must at long-run undo the farmer, or lessen the rents all over England. To which I reply, that what the husbandman complains of most, is what I would redress: the greatest grievance of farmers, gardeners, and others, where hard labour is required, and dirty work to be done, is, that they cannot get servants for the same wages they used to have them at. The day-labourer grumbles at sixteen pence to do no other drudgery, than what thirty years ago his grandfather did cheerfully for half the money. As to the rents, it is impossible [189]they should fall while you increase your numbers; but the price of provisions, and all labour in general, must fall with them, if not before; and a man of a hundred and fifty pounds a-year, has no reason to complain that his income is reduced to one hundred, if he can buy as much for that one hundred as before he could have done for two.

There is no intrinsic worth in money, but what is alterable with the times; and whether a guinea goes for twenty pounds or for a shilling, it is (as I have already hinted before) the labour of the poor, and not the high and low value that is set on gold or silver, which all the comforts of life must arise from. It is in our power to have a much greater plenty than we enjoy, if agriculture and fishery were taken care of, as they might be; but we are so little capable of increasing our labour, that we have hardly poor enough to do what is necessary to make us subsist. The proportion of the society is spoiled, and the bulk of the nation, which should every where consist of labouring poor, that are unacquainted with every thing but their work, is too little for the other parts. In all business where downright labour is shunned or over-paid, there is plenty of people. To one merchant you have ten book keepers, or at least pretenders; and every where in the country the farmer wants hands. Ask for a footman that for some time has been in gentlemen’s families, and you will get a dozen that are all butlers. You may have chamber-maids by the score, but you cannot get a cook under extravagant wages.

Nobody will do the dirty slavish work, that can help it. I do not discommend them; but all these things show, that the people of the meanest rank, know too much to be serviceable to us. Servants require more than masters and mistresses can afford; and what madness is it to encourage them in this, by industriously increasing at our cost, that knowledge, which they will be sure to make us pay for over again! And it is not only that those who are educated at our own expence, encroach upon us, but the raw ignorant country wenches and boobily fellows that can do, and are good for nothing, impose upon us likewise. The scarcity of servants occasioned by the education of the first, gives a handle to the latter of advancing their price, and demanding what ought only to be given to servants that understand their business, and have most of the good qualities that can be required in them. There is no place in the world where there are more clever [190]fellows to look at, or to do an errand, than some of our footmen; but what are they good for in the main? The greatest part of them are rogues, and not to be trusted; and if they are honest, half of them are sots, and will get drunk three or four times a week. The surly ones are generally quarrelsome, and valuing their manhood beyond all other considerations, care not what clothes they spoil, or what disappointments they may occasion, when their prowess is in question. Those who are good-natured, are generally sad whore-masters, that are ever running after the wenches, and spoil all the maid-servants they come near. Many of them are guilty of all these vices, whoring, drinking, quarrelling, and yet shall have all their faults overlooked and bore with, because they are men of good mien and humble address, that know how to wait on gentlemen; which is an unpardonable folly in masters, and generally ends in the ruin of servants.

Some few there are, that are not addicted to any of these failings, and understand their duty besides; but as these are rarities, so there is not one in fifty but what over-rates himself; his wages must be extravagant, and you can never have done giving him; every thing in the house is his perquisite, and he will not stay with you unless his vails are sufficient to maintain a middling family; and though you had taken him from the dunghill, out of an hospital, or a prison, you shall never keep him longer than he can make of his place, what in his high estimation of himself he shall think he deserves; nay, the best and most civilized, that never were saucy and impertinent, will leave the most indulgent master, and, to get handsomely away, frame fifty excuses, and tell downright lies, as soon as they can mend themselves. A man, who keeps an half-crown or twelve-penny ordinary, looks not more for money from his customers, than a footman does from every guest that dines or sups with his master; and I question whether the one does not often think a shilling or half-a-crown, according to the quality of the person, his due as much as the other.

A housekeeper, who cannot afford to make many entertainments, and does not often invite people to his table, can have no creditable man-servant, and is forced to take up with some country booby, or other awkward fellow, who will likewise give him the slip, as soon as he imagines himself fit for any other service, and is made wiser by his rascally companions. All noted eating-houses, and places that many [191]gentlemen resort to for diversion or business, more especially the precincts of Westminster-hall, are the great schools for servants, where the dullest fellows may have their understandings improved; and get rid at once of their stupidity and their innocence. They are the academies for footmen, where public lectures are daily read, on all sciences of low debauchery, by the experienced professors of them; and students are instructed in above seven hundred illiberal arts, how to cheat, impose upon, and find out the blind side of their masters, with so much application, that in few years they become graduates in iniquity. Young gentlemen and others, that are not thoroughly versed in the world, when they get such knowing sharpers in their service, are commonly indulging above measure; and for fear of discovering their want of experience, hardly dare to contradict or deny them any thing, which is often the reason, that by allowing them unreasonable privileges, they expose their ignorance when they are most endeavouring to conceal it.

Some perhaps will lay the things I complain of to the charge of luxury, of which I said that it could do no hurt to a rich nation, if the imports never did exceed the exports; but I do not think this imputation just, and nothing ought to be scored on the account of luxury, that is downright the effect of folly. A man may be very extravagant in indulging his ease and his pleasure, and render the enjoyment of the world as operose and expensive as they can be made, if he can afford it, and, at the same time, show his good sense in every thing about him: This he cannot be said to do, if he industriously renders his people incapable of doing him that service he expects from them. It is too much money, excessive wages, and unreasonable vails, that spoil servants in England. A man may have five and twenty horses in his stables, without being guilty of folly, if it suits with the rest of his circumstances; but if he keeps but one, and overfeeds it to show his wealth, he is a fool for his pains. Is it not madness to suffer, that servants should take three, and others five per cent. of what they pay to tradesmen for their masters, as is so well known to watchmakers, and others that sell toys, superfluous nicknacks, and other curiosities, if they deal with people of quality and fashionable gentlemen, that are above telling their own money? If they should accept of a present when offered, it might be connived at, but it is an unpardonable impudence that they should claim it as [192]their due, and contend for it if refused. Those who have all the necessaries of life provided for, can have no occasion for money, but what does them hurt as servants, unless they were to hoard it up for age or sickness, which, among our skip-kennels, is not very common, and even then it makes them saucy and insupportable.

I am credibly informed, that a parcel of footmen are arrived to that height of insolence, as to have entered into a society together, and made laws, by which they oblige themselves not to serve for less than such a sum, nor carry burdens, or any bundle or parcel above a certain weight, not exceeding two or three pounds, with other regulations directly opposite to the interest of those they serve, and altogether destructive to the use they were designed for. If any of them be turned away for strictly adhering to the orders of this honourable corporation, he is taken care of till another service is provided for him; and there is no money wanting at any time to commence and maintain a law-suit against any master that shall pretend to strike, or offer any other injury to his gentleman footman, contrary to the statutes of their society. If this be true, as I have reason to believe it is, and they are suffered to go on in consulting and providing for their own ease and conveniency any further, we may expect quickly to see the French comedy, Le Maitre le Valet acted in good earnest in most families, which, if not redressed in a little time, and those footmen increase their company to the number it is possible they may, as well as assemble when they please with impunity, it will be in their power to make a tragedy of it whenever they have a mind to it.

But suppose those apprehensions frivolous and groundless, it is undeniable that servants, in general, are daily encroaching upon masters and mistresses, and endeavouring to be more upon the level with them. They not only seem solicitous to abolish the low dignity of their condition, but have already considerably raised it in the common estimation from the original meanness which the public welfare requires it should always remain in. I do not say that these things are altogether owing to charity schools, there are other evils they may be partly ascribed to. London is too big for the country, and, in several respects, we are wanting to ourselves. But if a thousand faults were to concur before the inconveniences could be produced we labour under, can any man doubt, who will consider what I have said, that charity [193]schools are accessary, or, at least, that they are more likely to create and increase than to lessen or redress those complaints?

The only thing of weight, then, that can be said in their behalf is, that so many thousand children are educated by them in the Christian faith, and the principles of the church of England. To demonstrate that this is not a sufficient plea for them, I must desire the reader, as I hate repetitions, to look back on what I have said before, to which I shall add, that whatever is necessary to salvation, and requisite for poor labouring people to know concerning religion, that children learn at school, may fully as well either by preaching or catechizing be taught at church, from which, or some other place of worship, I would not have the meanest of a parish that is able to walk to it be absent on Sundays. It is the Sabbath, the most useful day in seven, that is set apart for divine service and religious exercise, as well as resting from bodily labour; and it is a duty incumbent on all magistrates, to take particular care of that day. The poor more especially and their children, should be made to go to church on it, both in the fore and afternoon, because they have no time on any other. By precept and example they ought to be encouraged and used to it from their very infancy; the wilful neglect of it ought to be counted scandalous, and if downright compulsion to what I urge might seem too harsh, and perhaps impracticable, all diversions at least ought strictly to be prohibited, and the poor hindered from every amusement abroad that might allure or draw them from it.

Where this care is taken by the magistrates, as far as it lies in their power, ministers of the gospel may instil into the smallest capacities, more piety and devotion, and better principles of virtue and religion, than charity schools ever did or ever will produce; and those who complain, when they have such opportunities, that they cannot imbue their parishioners with sufficient knowledge, of what they stand in need of as Christians, without the assistance of reading and writing, are either very lazy or very ignorant and undeserving themselves.

That the most knowing are not the most religious, will be evident if we make a trial between people of different abilities, even in this juncture, where going to church is not made such an obligation on the poor and illiterate, as it might be. Let us pitch upon a hundred poor men, the first we can light on, that are above forty, and were brought up to hard labour [194]from their infancy, such as never went to school at all, and always lived remote from knowledge and great towns: Let us compare to these an equal number of very good scholars, that shall all have had university education, and be, if you will, half of them divines, well versed in philology and polemic learning; then let us impartially examine into the lives and conversations of both, and I dare engage that among the first, who can neither read nor write, we shall meet with more union and neighbourly love, less wickedness and attachment to the world, more content of mind, more innocence, sincerity, and other good qualities that conduce to the public peace and real felicity, than we shall find among the latter, where, on the contrary, we may be assured of the height of pride and insolence, eternal quarrels and dissensions, irreconcileable hatreds, strife, envy, calumny, and other vices, destructive to mutual concord, which the illiterate labouring poor are hardly ever tainted with, to any considerable degree.

I am very well persuaded, that what I have said in the last paragraph, will be no news to most of my readers; but if it be truth, why should it be stifled, and why must our concern for religion be eternally made a cloak to hide our real drifts and worldly intentions? Would both parties agree to pull off the mask, we should soon discover that whatever they pretend to, they aim at nothing so much in charity schools, as to strengthen their party; and that the great sticklers for the church, by educating children in the principles of religion, mean inspiring them with a superlative veneration for the clergy of the church of England, and a strong aversion and immortal animosity against all that dissent from it. To be assured of this, we are but to mind on the one hand, what divines are most admired for their charity sermons, and most fond to preach them; and on the other, whether of late years we have had any riots or party scuffles among the mob, in which the youth of a famous hospital in this city, were not always the most forward ringleaders.

The grand asserters of liberty, who are ever guarding themselves, and skirmishing against arbitrary power, often when they are in no danger of it, are generally speaking, not very superstitious, nor seem to lay great stress on any modern apostleship: yet some of these likewise speak up loudly for charity schools; but what they expect from them has no relation to religion or morality: they only look upon them [195]as the proper means to destroy, and disappoint the power of the priests over the laity. Reading and writing increase knowledge; and the more men know, the better they can judge for themselves, and they imagine that, if knowledge could be rendered universal, people could not be priest-rid, which is the thing they fear the most.

The first, I confess, it is very possible will get their aim. But sure wise men that are not red-hot for a party, or bigots to the priests, will not think it worth while to suffer so many inconveniencies, as charity schools may be the occasion of, only to promote the ambition and power of the clergy. To the other I would answer, that if all those who are educated at the charge of their parents or relations, will but think for themselves, and refuse to have their reason imposed upon by the priests, we need not be concerned for what the clergy will work upon the ignorant that have no education at all. Let them make the most of them: considering the schools we have for those who can and do pay for learning, it is ridiculous to imagine that the abolishing of charity schools would be a step towards any ignorance that could be prejudicial to the nation.

I would not be thought cruel, and am well assured if I know any thing of myself, that I abhor inhumanity; but to be compassionate to excess, where reason forbids it, and the general interest of the society requires steadiness of thought and resolution, is an unpardonable weakness. I know it will be ever urged against me, that it is barbarous the children of the poor should have no opportunity of exerting themselves, as long as God has not debarred them from natural parts and genius, more than the rich. But I cannot think this is harder, than it is that they should not have money, as long as they have the same inclinations to spend as others. That great and useful men have sprung from hospitals, I do not deny; but it is likewise very probable, that when they were first employed, many as capable as themselves not brought up in hospitals were neglected, that with the same good fortune would have done as well as they, if they had been made use of instead of them.

There are many examples of women that have excelled in learning, and even in war, but this is no reason we should bring them all up to Latin and Greek, or else military discipline, instead of needle-work and housewifery. But there is no scarcity of sprightliness or natural parts among us, and [196]no soil and climate has human creatures to boast of better formed, either inside or outside, than this island generally produces. But it is not wit, genius, or docility we want, but diligence, application, and assiduity.

Abundance of hard and dirty labour is to be done, and coarse living is to be complied with: where shall we find a better nursery for these necessities than the children of the poor? none, certainly, are nearer to it or fitter for it: Besides that the things I called hardships, neither seem nor are such to those who have been brought up to them, and know no better. There is not a more contented people among us, than those who work the hardest, and are the least acquainted with the pomp and delicacies of the world.

These are truths that are undeniable; yet I know few people will be pleased to have them divulged; what makes them odious, is an unreasonable vein of petty reverence for the poor, that runs through most multitudes, and more particularly in this nation, and arises from a mixture of pity, folly, and superstition. It is from a lively sense of this compound, that men cannot endure to hear or see any thing said or acted against the poor; without considering how just the one, or insolent the other. So a beggar must not be beat, though he strikes you first. Journeymen tailors go to law with their masters, and are obstinate in a wrong cause, yet they must be pitied; and murmuring weavers must be relieved, and have fifty silly things done to humour them, though in the midst of their poverty they insult their betters, and, on all occasions, appear to be more prone to make holidays and riots than they are to working or sobriety.

This puts me in mind of our wool, which, considering the posture of our affairs, and the behaviour of the poor, I sincerely believe, ought not, upon any account, to be carried abroad: but if we look into the reason, why suffering it to be fetched away is so pernicious, our heavy complaint and lamentations that it is exported can be no great credit to us. Considering the mighty and manifold hazards that must be run before it can be got off the coast, and safely landed beyond sea, it is manifest that the foreigners, before they can work our wool, must pay more for it very considerably, than what we can have it for at home. Yet, notwithstanding this great difference in the prime cost, they can afford to sell the manufactures made of it cheaper at foreign markets than ourselves. This is the disaster we groan under, the intolerable mischief, without which the exportation of that commodity [197]could be no greater prejudice to us than that of tin or lead, as long as our hands were fully employed, and we had still wool to spare.

There is no people yet come to higher perfection in the woollen manufacture, either as to dispatch or goodness of work, at least in the most considerable branches, than ourselves; and therefore what we complain of can only depend on the difference in the management of the poor, between other nations and ours. If the labouring people in one country will work twelve hours in a day, and six days in a week, and in another they are employed but eight hours in a day, and not above four days in a week the one is obliged to have nine hands for what the other does with four. But if, moreover, the living, the food, and raiment, and what is consumed by the workmen of the industrious, costs but half the money of what is expended among an equal number of the other, the consequence must be, that the first will have the work of eighteen men for the same price as the other gives for the work of four. I would not insinuate, neither do I think, that the difference, either in diligence or necessaries of life between us and any neighbouring nation, is near so great as what I speak of, yet I would have it considered, that half of that difference, and much less, is sufficient to over-balance the disadvantage they labour under as to the price of wool.

Nothing to me is more evident, than that no nation in any manufacture whatever can undersell their neighbours with whom they are at best but equals as to skill and dispatch, and the conveniency for working, more especially when the prime cost of the thing to be manufactured is not in their favour, unless they have provisions, and whatever is relating to their sustenance, cheaper, or else workmen that are either more assiduous, and will remain longer at their work, or be content with a meaner and coarser way of living than those of their neighbours. This is certain, that where numbers are equal, the more laborious people are, and the fewer hands the same quantity of work is performed by, the greater plenty there is in a country of the necessaries for life, the more considerable and the cheaper that country may render its exports.

It being granted, then, that abundance of work is to be done, the next thing which I think to be likewise undeniable, is, that the more cheerfully it is done the better, as well for [198]those that perform it, as for the rest of the society. To be happy is to be pleased, and the less notion a man has of a better way of living, the more content he will be with his own; and, on the other hand, the greater a man’s knowledge and experience is in the world, the more exquisite the delicacy of his taste, and the more consummate judge he is of things in general, certainly the more difficult it will be to please him. I would not advance any thing that is barbarous or inhuman: but when a man enjoys himself, laughs and sings, and in his gesture and behaviour shows me all the tokens of content and satisfaction, I pronounce him happy, and have nothing to do with his wit or capacity. I never enter into the reasonableness of his mirth, at least I ought not to judge of it by my own standard, and argue from the effect which the thing that makes him merry would have upon me. At that rate, a man that hates cheese must call me fool for loving blue mold. De gustibus non est disputandum is as true in a metaphorical, as it is in the literal sense; and the greater the distance is between people as to their condition, their circumstances and manner of living, the less capable they are of judging of one another’s troubles or pleasures.

Had the meanest and most uncivilized peasant leave incognito to observe the greatest king for a fortnight; though he might pick out several things he would like for himself, yet he would find a great many more, which, if the monarch and he were to exchange conditions, he would wish for his part to have immediately altered or redressed, and which with amazement he sees the king submit to. And again, if the sovereign was to examine the peasant in the same manner, his labour would be unsufferable; the dirt and squalor, his diet and amours, his pastimes and recreations would be all abominable; but then what charms would he find in the other’s peace of mind, the calmness and tranquillity of his soul? No necessity for dissimulation with any of his family, or feigned affection to his mortal enemies; no wife in a foreign interest, no danger to apprehend from his children; no plots to unravel, no poison to fear; no popular statesman at home, or cunning courts abroad to manage; no seeming patriots to bribe; no unsatiable favourite to gratify; no selfish ministry to obey; no divided nation to please, or fickle mob to humour, that would direct and interfere with his pleasures.

Was impartial reason to be judge between real good and real evil, and a catalogue made accordingly, of the several delights and vexations differently to be met with in both stations; [199]I question whether the condition of kings would be at all preferable to that of peasants, even as ignorant and laborious as I seem to require the latter to be. The reason why the generality of people would rather be kings than peasants, is first owing to pride and ambition, that is deeply riveted in human nature, and which to gratify, we daily see men undergo and despise the greatest hazards and difficulties. Secondly, to the difference there is in the force with which our affection is wrought upon, as the objects are either material or spiritual. Things that immediately strike our outward senses, act more violently upon our passions than what is the result of thought, and the dictates of the most demonstrative reason; and there is a much stronger bias to gain our liking or aversion in the first, than there is in the latter.

Having thus demonstrated that what I urge could be no injury, or the least diminution of happiness to the poor, I leave it to the judicious reader, whether it is not more probable we should increase our exports by the methods I hint at, than by sitting still and damning and sinking our neighbours, for beating us at our own weapons; some of them out-selling us in manufactures made of our own product, which they dearly purchased, others growing rich in spite of distance and trouble, by the same fish which we neglect, though it is ready to jump into our mouths.

As by discouraging idleness with art and steadiness, you may compel the poor to labour without force; so, by bringing them up in ignorance, you may inure them to real hardships, without being ever sensible themselves that they are such. By bringing them up in ignorance, I mean no more, as I have hinted long ago, than that, as to worldly affairs, their knowledge should be confined within the verge of their own occupations, at least that we should not take pains to extend it beyond those limits. When by these two engines we shall have made provisions, and consequently labour cheap, we must infallibly outsell our neighbours; and at the same time increase our numbers. This is the noble and manly way of encountering the rivals of our trade, and by dint of merit outdoing them at foreign markets.

To allure the poor, we make use of policy in some cases with success. Why should we be neglectful of it in the most important point, when they make their boast that they will not live as the poor of other nations? If we cannot alter their resolution, why should we applaud the justness of their sentiments [200]against the common interest? I have often wondered formerly how an Englishman that pretended to have the honour and glory, as well as the welfare of his country at heart, could take delight in the evening to hear an idle tenant that owed him above a year’s rent, ridicule the French for wearing wooden shoes, when in the morning he had had the mortification of hearing the great King William, that ambitious monarch, as well as able statesman, openly own to the world, and with grief and anger in his looks, complain of the exorbitant power of France. Yet I do not recommend wooden shoes, nor do the maxims I would introduce require arbitrary power in one person. Liberty and property I hope may remain secured, and yet the poor be better employed than they are, though their children should wear out their clothes by useful labour, and blacken them with country dirt for something, instead of tearing them off their backs at play, and daubing them with ink for nothing.

There is above three or four hundred years work, for a hundred thousand poor more than we have in this island. To make every part of it useful, and the whole thoroughly inhabited, many rivers are to be made navigable; canals to be cut in hundreds of places. Some lands are to be drained and secured from inundations for the future: abundance of barren soil is to be made fertile, and thousands of acres rendered more beneficial, by being made more accessible. Dii laboribus omnia vendunt. There is no difficulty of this nature, that labour and patience cannot surmount. The highest mountains may be thrown into their valleys that stand ready to receive them; and bridges might be laid where now we would not dare to think of it. Let us look back on the stupendous works of the Romans, more especially their highways and aqueducts. Let us consider in one view the vast extent of several of their roads, how substantial they made them, and what duration they have been of; and in another a poor traveller that at every ten miles end is stopped by a turnpike, and dunned for a penny for mending the roads in the summer, with what every body knows will be dirt before the winter that succeeds is expired.

The conveniency of the public ought ever to be the public care, and no private interest of a town, or a whole country, should ever hinder the execution of a project or contrivance that would manifestly tend to the improvement of the whole; and every member of the legislature, who knows his duty. [201]and would choose rather to act like a wise man, than curry favour with his neighbours, will prefer the least benefit accruing to the whole kingdom, to the most visible advantage of the place he serves for.

We have materials of our own, and want neither stone nor timber to do any thing; and was the money that people give uncompelled to beggars, who do not deserve it, and what every housekeeper is obliged to pay to the poor of his parish, that is other wise employed or ill-applied, to be put together every year, it would make a sufficient fund to keep a great many thousands at work. I do not say this because I think it practicable, but only to show that we have money enough to spare, to employ vast multitudes of labourers; neither should we want so much for it as we perhaps might imagine. When it is taken for granted, that a soldier, whose strength and vigour is to be kept up at least as much as any body’s, can live upon sixpence a-day, I cannot conceive the necessity of giving the greatest part of the year, sixteen and eighteen pence to a day-labourer.

The fearful and cautious people, that are ever jealous of their liberty, I know will cry out, that where the multitudes I speak of should be kept in constant pay, property and privileges would be precarious. But they might be answered, that sure means might be found out, and such regulations made, as to the hands in which to trust the management and direction of these labourers, that it would be impossible for the prince, or any body else, to make an ill use of their numbers.

What I have said in the four or five last paragraphs, I foresee, will, with abundance of scorn, be laughed at by many of my readers, and at best be called building castles in the air; but whether that is my fault or theirs is a question. When the public spirit has left a nation, they not only lose their patience with it, and all thoughts of perseverance, but become likewise so narrow-souled, that it is a pain for them even to think of things that are of uncommon extent, or require great length of time; and whatever is noble or sublime in such conjectures, is counted chimerical. Where deep ignorance is entirely routed and expelled, and low learning promiscuously scattered on all the people, self-love turns knowledge into cunning; and the more this last qualification prevails in any country, the more the people will fix all their cares, concern, and application, on the time present, without [202]regard of what is to come after them, or hardly ever thinking beyond the next generation.

But as cunning, according to my Lord Verulam, is but left-handed wisdom; so a prudent legislator ought to provide against this disorder of the society, as soon as the symptoms of it appear, among which the following are the most obvious. Imaginary rewards are generally despised; every body is for turning the penny, and short bargains; he that is diffident of every thing and believes nothing but what he sees with his own eyes, is counted the most prudent; and in all their dealings, men seem to act from no other principle than that of the devil take the hindmost. Instead of planting oaks, that will require a hundred and fifty years before they are fit to be cut down, they build houses with a design that they shall not stand above twelve or fourteen years. All heads run upon the uncertainty of things, and the vicissitudes of human affairs. The mathematics become the only valuable study, and are made use of in every thing, even where it is ridiculous, and men seem to repose no greater trust in Providence than they would in a broken merchant.

It is the business of the public to supply the defects of the society, and take that in hand first which is most neglected by private persons. Contraries are best cured by contraries, and therefore, as example is of greater efficacy than precept, in the amendment of national failings, the legislature ought to resolve upon some great undertakings, that must be the work of ages as well as vast labour, and convince the world that they did nothing without an anxious regard to their latest posterity. This will fix, or at least help to settle, the volatile genius and fickle spirit of the kingdom; put us in mind that we are not born for ourselves only, and be a means of rendering men less distrustful, and inspiring them with a true love for their country, and a tender affection for the ground itself, than which nothing is more necessary to aggrandize a nation. Forms of government may alter; religions and even languages may change, but Great Britain, or at least (if that likewise might lose its name) the island itself will remain, and in all human probability, last as long as any part of the globe. All ages have ever paid their kind acknowledgments to their ancestors, for the benefits derived from them; and a Christian who enjoys the multitude of fountains, and vast plenty of water to be met with in the city of St. Peter, is an ungrateful wretch if he never casts a thankful [203]remembrance on old Pagan Rome, that took such prodigious pains to procure it.

When this island shall be cultivated, and every inch of it made habitable and useful, and the whole the most convenient and agreeable spot upon earth, all the cost and labour laid out upon it, will be gloriously repaid by the incense of them that shall come after us; and those who burn with the noble zeal and desire after immortality, and took such care to improve their country, may rest satisfied, that a thousand and two thousand years hence, they shall live in the memory and everlasting praises of the future ages that shall then enjoy it.

Here I should have concluded this rhapsody of thoughts; but something comes in my head concerning the main scope and design of this essay, which is to prove the necessity there is for a certain portion of ignorance, in a well-ordered society, that I must not omit, because, by mentioning it, I shall make an argument on my side, of what, if I had not spoke of it, might easily have appeared as a strong objection against me. It is the opinion of most people, and mine among the rest, that the most commendable quality of the present Czar of Muscovy, is his unwearied application, in raising his subjects from their native stupidity, and civilizing his nation: but then we must consider it is what they stood in need of, and that not long ago the greatest part of them were next to brute beasts. In proportion to the extent of his dominions, and the multitudes he commands, he had not that number or variety of tradesmen and artificers, which the true improvement of the country required, and therefore was in the right, in leaving no stone unturned to procure them. But what is that to us who labour under a contrary disease? Sound politics are to the social body, what the art of medicine is to the natural, and no physician would treat a man in a lethargy as if he was sick for want of rest, or prescribe in a dropsy what should be administered in a diabetes. In short, Russia has too few knowing men, and Great Britain too many. [205]



The generality of moralists and philosophers have hitherto agreed that there could be no virtue without self-denial; but a late author, who is now much read by men of sense, is of a contrary opinion, and imagines that men, without any trouble, or violence upon themselves, may be naturally virtuous. He seems to require and expect goodness in his species, as we do a sweet taste in grapes and China oranges, of which, if any of them are sour, we boldly pronounce that they are not come to that perfection their nature is capable of. This noble writer (for it is the Lord Shaftesbury I mean in his Characteristics) fancies, that as a man is made for society, so he ought to be born with a kind affection to the whole, of which he is a part, and a propensity to seek the welfare of it. In pursuance of this supposition, he calls every action performed with regard to the public good, Virtuous; and all selfishness, wholly excluding such a regard, Vice. In respect to our species, he looks upon virtue and vice as permanent realities, that must ever be the same in all countries and all ages, and imagines that a man of sound understanding, by following the rules of good sense, may not only find out that pulchrum et honestum both in morality and the works of art and nature, but likewise govern himself, by his reason, with as much ease and readiness as a good rider manages a well-taught horse by the bridle.

The attentive reader, who perused the foregoing part of this book, will soon perceive that two systems cannot be more opposite than his Lordship’s and mine. His notions I confess, are generous and refined: they are a high compliment to human-kind, and capable, by a little enthusiasm, of inspiring us with the most noble sentiments concerning the dignity of our exalted nature. What pity it is that they are not true. I would not advance thus much if I had not already demonstrated, in almost ever page of this treatise, that the solidity of them is inconsistent with our daily experience. [206]But, to leave not the least shadow of an objection that might be made unanswered, I design to expatiate on some things which hitherto I have but slightly touched upon, in order to convince the reader, not only that the good and amiable qualities of men are not those that make him beyond other animals a sociable creature; but, moreover, that it would be utterly impossible, either to raise any multitudes into a populous, rich, and flourishing nation, or, when so raised, to keep and maintain them in that condition, without the assistance of what we call Evil, both natural and moral.

The better to perform what I have undertaken, I shall previously examine into the reality of the pulchrum et honestum, the τὸ κάλον that the ancients have talked of so much: the meaning of this is to discuss, whether there be a real worth and excellency in things, a pre-eminence of one above another; which every body will always agree to that well understands them; or, that there are few things, if any, that have the same esteem paid them, and which the same judgment is passed upon in all countries and all ages. When we first set out in quest of this intrinsic worth, and find one thing better than another, and a third better than that, and so on, we begin to entertain great hopes of success; but when we meet with several things that are all very good or all very bad, we are puzzled, and agree not always with ourselves, much less with others. There are different faults as well as beauties, that as modes and fashions alter and men vary in their tastes and humours, will be differently admired or disapproved of.

Judges of painting will never disagree in opinion, when a fine picture is compared to the daubing of a novice; but how strangely have they differed as to the works of eminent masters! There are parties among connoisseurs; and few of them agree in their esteem as to ages and countries; and the best pictures bear not always the best prices: a noted original will be ever worth more than any copy that can be made of it by an unknown hand, though it should be better. The value that is set on paintings depends not only on the name of the master, and the time of his age he drew them in, but likewise in a great measure on the scarcity of his works; but, what is still more unreasonable, the quality of the persons in whose possession they are, as well as the length of time they have been in great families; and if the Cartons, now at Hampton-Court, were done by a less famous hand than [207]that of Raphael, and had a private person for their owner, who would be forced to sell them, they would never yield the tenth part of the money which, with all their gross faults, they are now esteemed to be worth.

Notwithstanding all this, I will readily own, that the judgment to be made of painting might become of universal certainty, or at least less alterable and precarious than almost any thing else. The reason is plain; there is a standard to go by that always remains the same. Painting is an imitation of nature, a copying of things which men have every where before them. My good humoured reader I hope will forgive me, if, thinking on this glorious invention, I make a reflection a little out of season, though very much conducive to my main design; which is, that valuable as the art is I speak of, we are beholden to an imperfection in the chief of our senses for all the pleasures and ravishing delight we receive from this happy deceit. I shall explain myself. Air and space are no objects of sight, but as soon as we can see with the least attention, we observe that the bulk of the things we see is lessened by degrees, as they are further remote from us, and nothing but experience, gained from these observations, can teach us to make any tolerable guesses at the distance of things. If one born blind should remain so till twenty, and then be suddenly blessed with sight, he would be strangely puzzled as to the difference of distances, and hardly able, immediately, by his eyes alone, to determine which was nearest to him, a post almost within the reach of his stick, or a steeple that should be half a mile off. Let us look as narrowly as we can upon a hole in a wall that has nothing but the open air behind it, and we shall not be able to see otherwise, but that the sky fills up the vacuity, and is as near us as the back part of the stones that circumscribe the space where they are wanting. This circumstance, not to call it a defect, in our sense of seeing, makes us liable to be imposed upon, and every thing, but motion, may, by art, be represented to us on a flat, in the same manner as we see them in life and nature. If a man had never seen this art put into practice, a looking-glass might soon convince him that such a thing was possible, and I cannot help thinking, but that the reflections from very smooth and well-polished bodies made upon our eyes, must have given the first handle to the inventions of drawings and painting. [208]

In the works of nature, worth, and excellency, are as uncertain: and even in human creatures, what is beautiful in one country, is not so in another. How whimsical is the florist in his choice! Sometimes the tulip, sometimes the auricula, and at other times the carnation shall engross his esteem, and every year a new flower, in his judgment, beats all the old ones, though it is much inferior to them both in colour and shape. Three hundred years ago men were shaved as closely as they are now: Since that they have wore beards, and cut them in vast variety of forms, that were all as becoming, when fashionable, as now they would be ridiculous. How mean and comically a man looks, that is otherwise well dressed, in a narrow brimmed hat, when every body wears broad ones; and again, how monstrous is a very great hat, when the other extreme has been in fashion for a considerable time? experience has taught us, that these modes seldom last above ten or twelve years, and a man of threescore must have observed five or six revolutions of them at least! yet the beginnings of these changes, though we have seen several, seem always uncouth, and are offensive a-fresh whenever they return. What mortal can decide which is the handsomest, abstract from the mode in being, to wear great buttons or small ones? the many ways of laying out a garden judiciously are almost innumerable; and what is called beautiful in them, varies according to the different tastes of nations and ages. In grass plats, knots and parterres, a great diversity of forms is generally agreeable; but a round may be as pleasing to the eye as a square: an oval cannot be more suitable to one place, than it is possible for a triangle to be to another; and the pre-eminence an octogon has over an hexagon is no greater in figures, than at hazard eight has above six among the chances.

Churches, ever since Christians have been able to build them, resemble the form of a cross, with the upper end pointing toward the east; and an architect, where there is room, and it can be conveniently done, who should neglect it, would be thought to have committed an unpardonable fault; but it would be foolish to expect this of a Turkish mosque or a Pagan temple. Among the many beneficial laws that have been made these hundred years, it is not easy to name one of greater utility, and, at the same time, more exempt from all inconveniences, than that which regulated the dresses of the dead. Those who were old enough to take notice of [209]things when that act was made, and are yet alive, must remember the general clamour that was made against it. At first, nothing could be more shocking to thousands of people than that they were to be buried in woollen, and the only thing that made that law supportable was, that there was room left for people of some fashion to indulge their weakness without extravagancy; considering the other expences of funerals where mourning is given to several, and rings to a great many. The benefit that accrues to the nation from it is so visible, that nothing ever could be said in reason to condemn it, which, in few years, made the horror conceived against it lessen every day. I observed then that young people, who had seen but few in their coffins, did the soonest strike in with the innovation; but that those who, when the act was made, had buried many friends and relations, remained averse to it the longest, and I remember many that never could be reconciled to it to their dying day. By this time, burying in linen being almost forgot, it is the general opinion that nothing could be more decent than woollen, and the present manner of dressing a corps; which shows that our liking or disliking of things chiefly depends on mode and custom, and the precept and example of our betters, and such whom one way or other we think to be superior to us.

In morals there is no greater certainty. Plurality of wives is odious among Christians, and all the wit and learning of a great genius in defence of it, has been rejected with contempt: But polygamy is not shocking to a Mahometan. What men have learned from their infancy enslaves them, and the force of custom warps nature, and, at the same time, imitates her in such a manner, that it is often difficult to know which of the two we are influenced by. In the east, formerly sisters married brothers, and it was meritorious for a man to marry his mother. Such alliances are abominable; but it is certain that, whatever horror we conceive at the thoughts of them, there is nothing in nature repugnant against them, but what is built upon mode and custom. A religious Mahometan that has never tasted any spirituous liquor, and has often seen people drunk, may receive as great an aversion against wine, as another with us of the least morality and education may have against lying with his sister, and both imagine that their antipathy proceeds from nature. Which is the best religion? is a question that has caused more mischief [210]than all other questions together. Ask it at Pekin, at Constantinople, and at Rome, and you will receive three distinct answers extremely different from one another, yet all of them equally positive and peremptory. Christians are well assured of the falsity of the Pagan and Mahometan superstitions: as to this point, there is a perfect union and concord among them; but inquire of the several sects they are divided into, Which is the true church of Christ? and all of them will tell you it is theirs, and to convince you, go together by the ears.

It is manifest, then, that the hunting after this pulchrum & honestum, is not much better than a wild-goose-chase that is but little to be depended on: But this is not the greatest fault I find with it. The imaginary notions that men may be virtuous without self-denial, are a vast inlet to hypocrisy; which being once made habitual, we must not only deceive others, but likewise become altogether unknown to ourselves; and in an instance I am going to give, it will appear, how, for want of duly examining himself, this might happen to a person of quality, of parts, and erudition, one every way resembling the author of the Characteristics himself.

A man that has been brought up in ease and affluence, if he is of a quiet indolent nature, learns to shun every thing that is troublesome, and chooses to curb his passions, more because of the inconveniences that arise from the eager pursuit after pleasure, and the yielding to all the demands of our inclinations, than any dislike he has to sensual enjoyments; and it is possible, that a person educated under a great philosopher, who was a mild and good-natured, as well as able tutor, may, in such happy circumstances, have a better opinion of his inward state than it really deserves, and believe himself virtuous, because his passions lie dormant. He may form fine notions of the social virtues, and the contempt of death, write well of them in his closet, and talk eloquently of them in company, but you shall never catch him fighting for his country, or labouring to retrieve any national losses. A man that deals in metaphysics may easily throw himself into an enthusiasm, and really believe that he does not fear death while it remains out of sight. But should he be asked, why, having this intrepidity either from nature, or acquired by philosophy, he did not follow arms when his country was involved in war; or when he saw the nation daily robbed by those at the helm, and the affairs of the exchequer [211]perplexed, why he did not go to court, and make use of all his friends and interest to be a lord treasurer, that by his integrity and wise management, he might restore the public credit: It is probable he would answer that he loved retirement, had no other ambition than to be a good man, and never aspired to have any share in the government; or that he hated all flattery and slavish attendance, the insincerity of courts and bustle of the world. I am willing to believe him: but may not a man of an indolent temper and unactive spirit, say, and be sincere in all this, and, at the same time, indulge his appetites without being able to subdue them, though his duty summons him to it. Virtue consists in action, and whoever is possessed of this social love and kind affection to his species, and by his birth or quality can claim any post in the public management, ought not to sit still when he can be serviceable, but exert himself to the utmost for the good of his fellow subjects. Had this noble person been of a warlike genius, or a boisterous temper, he would have chose another part in the drama of life, and preached a quite contrary doctrine: For we are ever pushing our reason which way soever we feel passion to draw it, and self-love pleads to all human creatures for their different views, still furnishing every individual with arguments to justify their inclinations.

That boasted middle way, and the calm virtues recommended in the Characteristics, are good for nothing but to breed drones, and might qualify a man for the stupid enjoyments of a monastic life, or at best a country justice of peace, but they would never fit him for labour and assiduity, or stir him up to great achievements and perilous undertakings. Man’s natural love of ease and idleness, and proneness to indulge his sensual pleasures, are not to be cured by precept: His strong habits and inclinations can only be subdued by passions of greater violence. Preach and demonstrate to a coward the unreasonableness of his fears, and you will not make him valiant, more than you can make him taller, by bidding him to be ten foot high, whereas the secret to raise courage, as I have made it public in Remark on l. 321, is almost infallible.

The fear of death is the strongest when we are in our greatest vigour, and our appetite is keen; when we are sharp-sighted, quick of hearing, and every part performs its office. The reason is plain, because then life is most delicious, and [212]ourselves most capable of enjoying it. How comes it, then, that a man of honour should so easily accept of a challenge, though at thirty and in perfect health? It is his pride that conquers his fear: For, when his pride is not concerned, this fear will appear most glaringly. If he is not used to the sea, let him but be in a storm, or, if he never was ill before, have but a sore throat, or a slight fever, and he will show a thousand anxieties, and in them the inestimable value he sets on life. Had man been naturally humble and proof against flattery, the politician could never have had his ends, or known what to have made of him. Without vices, the excellency of the species would have ever remained undiscovered, and every worthy that has made himself famous in the world, is a strong evidence against this amiable system.

If the courage of the great Macedonian came up to distraction, when he fought alone against a whole garrison, his madness was not less when he fancied himself to be a god, or at least doubted whether he was or not; and as soon as we make this reflection, we discover both the passion and the extravagancy of it, that buoyed up his spirits in the most imminent dangers, and carried him through all the difficulties and fatigues he underwent.

There never was in the world a brighter example of an able and complete magistrate than Cicero: When I think on his care and vigilance, the real hazards he slighted, and the pains he took for the safety of Rome; his wisdom and sagacity in detecting and disappointing the stratagems of the boldest and most subtle conspirators, and, at the same time, on his love to literature, arts, and sciences, his capacity in metaphysics, the justness of his reasonings, the force of his eloquence, the politeness of his style, and the genteel spirit that runs through his writings; when I think, I say, on all these things together, I am struck with amazement, and the least I can say of him is, that he was a prodigious man. But when I have set the many good qualities he had in the best light, it is as evident to me on the other side, that had his vanity been inferior to his greatest excellency, the good sense and knowledge of the world he was so eminently possessed of, could never have let him be such a fulsome as well as noisy trumpeter as he was of his own praises, or suffered him rather than not proclaim his own merit, to make a verse [213]that a school boy would have been laughed at for. O! Fortunatam, &c.

How strict and severe was the morality of rigid Cato, how steady and unaffected the virtue of that grand asserter of Roman liberty! but though the equivalent this stoic enjoyed, for all the self-denial and austerity he practised, remained long concealed, and his peculiar modesty hid from the world, and perhaps himself a vast while, the frailty of his heart, that forced him into heroism, yet it was brought to light in the last scene of his life, and by his suicide it plainly appeared that he was governed by a tyrannical power, superior to the love of his country, and that the implacable hatred and superlative envy he bore to the glory, the real greatness and personal merit of Cæsar, had for a long time swayed all his actions under the most noble pretences. Had not this violent motive over-ruled his consummate prudence, he might not only have saved himself, but likewise most of his friends that were ruined by the loss of him, and would in all probability, if he could have stooped to it, been the second man in Rome. But he knew the boundless mind and unlimited generosity of the victor: it was his clemency he feared, and therefore chose death because it was less terrible to his pride, than the thoughts of giving his mortal foe so tempting an opportunity of showing the magnanimity of his soul, as Cæsar would have found in forgiving such an inveterate enemy as Cato, and offering him his friendship; and which, it is thought by the judicious, that penetrating as well as ambitious conqueror would not have slipped, if the other had dared to live.

Another argument to prove the kind disposition, and real affection we naturally have for our species, is our love of company, and the aversion men that are in their senses generally have to solitude, beyond other creatures. This bears a fine gloss in the Characteristics, and is set off in very good language to the best advantage: the next day after I read it first, I heard abundance of people cry fresh herrings, which, with the reflexion on the vast shoals of that and other fish that are caught together, made me very merry, though I was alone; but as I was entertaining myself with this contemplation, came an impertinent idle fellow, whom I had the misfortune to be known by, and asked me how I did, though I was, and dare say, looked as healthy and as well as ever I was or did in my life. What I answered him I forgot, but [214]remember that I could not get rid of him in a good while, and felt all the uneasiness my friend Horace complains of, from a persecution of the like nature.

I would have no sagacious critic pronounce me a man-hater from this short story; whoever does is very much mistaken. I am a great lover of company, and if the reader is not quite tired with mine, before I show the weakness and ridicule of that piece of flattery made to our species, and which I was just now speaking of, I will give him a description of the man I would choose for conversation, with a promise that before he has finished, what at first he might only take for a digression foreign to my purpose, he shall find the use of it.

By early and artful instruction, he should be thoroughly imbued with the notions of honour and shame, and have contracted an habitual aversion to every thing that has the least tendency to impudence, rudeness, or inhumanity. He should be well versed in the Latin tongue, and not ignorant of the Greek, and moreover understand one or two of the modern languages besides his own. He should be acquainted with the fashions and customs of the ancients, but thoroughly skilled in the history of his own country, and the manners of the age he lives in. He should besides literature, have studied some useful science or other, seen some foreign courts and universities, and made the true use of travelling. He should at times take delight in dancing, fencing, riding the great horse, and knowing something of hunting and other country sports, without being attached to any, and he should treat them all as either exercises for health, or diversions that should never interfere with business, or the attaining to more valuable qualifications. He should have a smatch of geometry and astronomy, as well as anatomy, and the economy of human bodies; to understand music so as to perform, is an accomplishment: but there is abundance to be said against it; and instead of it, I would have him know so much of drawing as is required to take a landskip, or explain ones meaning of any form or model we would describe, but never to touch a pencil. He should be very early used to the company of modest women, and never be a fortnight without conversing with the ladies.

Gross vices, as irreligion, whoring, gaming, drinking and quarrelling, I will not mention: even the meanest education guards us against them; I would always recommend to him [215]the practice of virtue, but I am for no voluntary ignorance, in a gentleman, of any thing that is done in court or city. It is impossible a man should be perfect, and therefore there are faults I would connive at, if I could not prevent them; and if between the years of nineteen and three-and-twenty, youthful heat should sometimes get the better of his chastity, so it was done with caution; should he on some extraordinary occasion, overcome by the pressing solicitations of jovial friends, drink more than was consistent with strict sobriety, so he did it very seldom and found it not to interfere with his health or temper; or if by the height of his mettle, and great provocation in a just cause, he had been drawn into a quarrel, which true wisdom and a less strict adherence to the rules of honour, might have declined or prevented, so it never befel him above once: if I say he should have happened to be guilty of these things, and he would never speak, much less brag of them himself, they might be pardoned, or at least overlooked at the age I named, if he left off then and continued discreet forever after. The very disasters of youth, have sometimes frightened gentlemen into a more steady prudence, than in all probability they would ever have been masters of without them. To keep him from turpitude and things that are openly scandalous, there is nothing better than to procure him free access in one or two noble families, where his frequent attendance is counted a duty: and while by that means you preserve his pride, he is kept in a continual dread of shame.

A man of a tolerable fortune, pretty near accomplished as I have required him to be, that still improves himself and sees the world till he is thirty, cannot be disagreeable to converse with, at least while he continues in health and prosperity, and has nothing to spoil his temper. When such a one, either by chance or appointment, meets with three or four of our equals, and all agree to pass away a few hours together, the whole is what I call good company. There is nothing said in it that is not either instructive or diverting to a man of sense. It is possible they may not always be of the same opinion, but there can be no contest between any, but who shall yield first to the other he differs from. One only speaks at a time, and no louder than to be plainly understood by him who sits the farthest off. The greatest pleasure aimed at by every one of them, is to have the satisfaction of pleasing others, which they all practically know [216]may as effectually be done, by hearkening with attention and an approving countenance, as we said very good things ourselves.

Most people of any taste would like such a conversation, and justly prefer it to being alone, when they knew not how to spend their time; but if they could employ themselves in something from which they expected, either a more solid or a more lasting satisfaction, they would deny themselves this pleasure, and follow what was of greater consequence to them. But would not a man, though he had seen no mortal in a fortnight, remain alone as much longer, rather than get into company of noisy fellows, that take delight in contradiction, and place a glory in picking a quarrel? Would not one that has books read for ever, or set himself to write upon some subject or other, rather than be every night with party-men who count the island to be good for nothing, while their adversaries are suffered to live upon it? Would not a man be by himself a month, and go to bed before seven a clock, rather than mix with fox-hunters, who having all day long tried in vain to break their necks, join at night in a second attempt upon their lives by drinking, and to express their mirth, are louder in senseless sounds within doors, than their barking and less troublesome companions are only without? I have no great value for a man who would not rather tire himself with walking; or if he was shut up scatter pins about the room in order to pick them up again, than keep company for six hours with half a score common sailors the day their ship was paid off.

I will grant, nevertheless, that the greatest part of mankind, rather than be alone any considerable time, would submit to the things I named: but I cannot see, why this love of company, this strong desire after society, should be construed so much in our favour, and alleged as a mark of some intrinsic worth in man, not to be found in other animals. For to prove from it the goodness of our nature, and a generous love in man, extended beyond himself on the rest of his species, by virtue of which he was a sociable creature, this eagerness after company and aversion of being alone, ought to have been most conspicuous, and most violent in the best of their kind; the men of the greatest genius, parts and accomplishments, and those who are the least subject to vice; the contrary of which is true. The weakest minds, who can the least govern their passions, guilty consciences that abhor [217]reflexion, and the worthless, who are incapable of producing any thing of their own that is useful, are the greatest enemies to solitude, and will take up with any company rather than be without; whereas, the men of sense and of knowledge, that can think and contemplate on things, and such as are but little disturbed by their passions, can bear to be by themselves the longest without reluctancy; and, to avoid noise, folly, and impertinence, will run away from twenty companies; and, rather than meet with any thing disagreeable to their good taste, will prefer their closet or a garden, nay, a common or a desert to the society of some men.

But let us suppose the love of company so inseparable from our species, that no man could endure to be alone one moment, what conclusions could be drawn from this? Does not man love company, as he does every thing else, for his own sake? No friendships or civilities are lasting that are not reciprocal. In all your weekly and daily meetings for diversion, as well as annual feasts, and the most solemn carousels, every member that assists at them has his own ends, and some frequent a club which they would never go to unless they were the top of it. I have known a man who was the oracle of the company, be very constant, and as uneasy at any thing that hindered him from coming at the hour, leave his society altogether, as soon as another was added that could match, and disputed superiority with him. There are people who are incapable of holding an argument, and yet malicious enough to take delight in hearing others wrangle; and though they never concern themselves in the controversy, would think a company insipid where they could not have that diversion. A good house, rich furniture, a fine garden, horses, dogs, ancestors, relations, beauty, strength, excellency in any thing whatever; vices as well as virtue, may all be accessary to make men long for society, in hopes that what they value themselves upon will at one time or other become the theme of the discourse, and give an inward satisfaction to them. Even the most polite people in the world, and such as I spoke of at first, give no pleasure to others that is not repaid to their self-love, and does not at last centre in themselves, let them wind it and turn it as they will. But the plainest demonstration that in all clubs and societies of conversable people, every body has the greatest consideration for himself, is, that the disinterested, who rather over-pays than wrangles; the good humoured, that is never [218]waspish nor soon offended; the easy and indolent, that hates disputes and never talks for triumph, is every where the darling of the company: whereas, the man of sense and knowledge, that will not be imposed upon or talked out of his reason; the man of genius and spirit, that can say sharp and witty things, though he never lashes but what deserves it; the man of honour, who neither gives nor takes an affront, may be esteemed, but is seldom so well beloved as a weaker man less accomplished.

As in these instances, the friendly qualities arise from our contriving perpetually our own satisfaction, so, on other occasions, they proceed from the natural timidity of man, and the solicitous care he takes of himself. Two Londoners, whose business oblige them not to have any commerce together, may know, see, and pass by one another every day upon the Exchange, with not much greater civility than bulls would: let them meet at Bristol they will pull off their hats, and on the least opportunity enter into conversation, and be glad of one another’s company. When French, English, and Dutch, meet in China, or any other Pagan country, being all Europeans, they look upon one another as countrymen, and if no passion interferes, will feel a natural propensity to love one another. Nay, two men that are at enmity, if they are forced to travel together, will often lay by their animosities, be affable, and converse in a friendly manner, especially if the road be unsafe, and they are both strangers in the place they are to go to. These things by superficial judges, are attributed to mans sociableness, his natural propensity to friendship and love of company; but whoever will duly examine things, and look into man more narrowly, will find, that on all these occasions we only endeavour to strengthen our interest, and are moved by the causes already alleged.

What I have endeavoured hitherto, has been to prove, that the pulchrum et honestum, excellency and real worth of things are most commonly precarious and alterable as modes and customs vary; that consequently the inferences drawn from their certainty are insignificant, and that the generous notions concerning the natural goodness of man are hurtful, as they tend to mislead, and are merely chimerical: the truth of this latter I have illustrated by the most obvious examples in history. I have spoke of our love of company and aversion to solitude, examined thoroughly the various motives of them, [219]and made it appear that they all centre in self-love. I intend now to investigate into the nature of society, and diving into the very rise of it, make it evident, that not the good and amiable, but the bad and hateful qualities of man, his imperfections and the want of excellencies, which other creatures are endued with, are the first causes that made man sociable beyond other animals, the moment after he lost Paradise; and that if he had remained in his primitive innocence, and continued to enjoy the blessings that attended it, there is no shadow of probability that he ever would have become that sociable creature he is now.

How necessary our appetites and passions are for the welfare of all trades and handicrafts, has been sufficiently proved throughout the book, and that they are our bad qualities, or at least produce them, nobody denies. It remains then, that I should set forth the variety of obstacles that hinder and perplex man in the labour he is constantly employed in, the procuring of what he wants; and which in other words is called the business of self-preservation: while, at the same time, I demonstrate that the sociableness of man arises only from these two things, viz. the multiplicity of his desires, and the continual opposition he meets with in his endeavours to gratify them.

The obstacles I speak of, relate either to our own frame, or the globe we inhabit, I mean the condition of it, since it has been cursed. I have often endeavoured to contemplate separately on the two things I named last, but could never keep them asunder; they always interfere and mix with one another; and at last make up together a frightful chaos of evil. All the elements are our enemies, water drowns and fire consumes those who unskilfully approach them. The earth in a thousand places produces plants, and other vegetables that are hurtful to man, while she feeds and cherishes a variety of creatures that are noxious to him; and suffers a legion of poisons to dwell within her: but the most unkind of all the elements is that which we cannot live one moment without: it is impossible to repeat all the injuries we receive from the wind and weather; and though the greatest part of mankind, have ever been employed in defending their species from the inclemency of the air, yet no art or labour have hitherto been able to find a security against the wild rage of some meteors. [220]

Hurricanes, it is true, happen but seldom, and few men are swallowed up by earthquakes, or devoured by lions; but while we escape those gigantic mischiefs, we are persecuted by trifles. What a vast variety of insects are tormenting to us; what multitudes of them insult and make game of us with impunity! The most despicable scruple not to trample and graze upon us as cattle do upon a field: which yet is often born with, if moderately they use their fortune; but here again our clemency becomes a vice, and so encroaching are their cruelty and contempt of us on our pity, that they make laystalls of our hands, and devour our young ones if we are not daily vigilant in pursuing and destroying them.

There is nothing good in all the universe to the best-designing man, if either through mistake or ignorance he commits the least failing in the use of it; there is no innocence or integrity, that can protect a man from a thousand mischiefs that surround him: on the contrary, every thing is evil, which art and experience have not taught us to turn into a blessing. Therefore how diligent in harvest time is the husbandman, in getting in his crop and sheltering it from rain, without which he could never have enjoyed it! As seasons differ with the climates, experience has taught us differently to make use of them, and in one part of the globe we may see the farmer sow while he is reaping in the other; from all which we may learn how vastly this earth must have been altered since the fall of our first parents. For should we trace man from his beautiful, his divine original, not proud of wisdom acquired by haughty precept or tedious experience, but endued with consummate knowledge the moment he was formed; I mean the state of innocence, in which no animal nor vegetable upon earth, nor mineral under ground was noxious to him, and himself secured from the injuries of the air as well as all other harms, was contented with the necessaries of life, which the globe he inhabited furnished him with, without his assistance. When yet not conscious of guilt, he found himself in every place to be the well obeyed unrivalled lord of all, and unaffected with his greatness, was wholly wrapped up in sublime meditations on the infinity of his Creator, who daily did vouchsafe intelligibly to speak to him, and visit without mischief.

In such a golden age, no reason or probability can be alleged, why mankind ever should have raised themselves into such large societies as there have been in the world, as long [221]as we can give any tolerable account of it. Where a man has every thing he desires, and nothing to vex or disturb him, there is nothing can be added to his happiness; and it is impossible to name a trade, art, science, dignity, or employment, that would not be superfluous in such a blessed state. If we pursue this thought, we shall easily perceive that no societies could have sprung from the amiable virtues and loving qualities of man; but, on the contrary, that all of them must have had the origin from his wants, his imperfections, and the variety of his appetites: we shall find likewise, that the more their pride and vanity are displayed, and all their desires enlarged, the more capable they must be of being raised into large and vastly numerous societies.

Was the air always as inoffensive to our naked bodies, and as pleasant as to our thinking it is to the generality of birds in fair weather, and man had not been affected with pride, luxury and hypocrisy, as well as lust, I cannot see what could have put us upon the invention of clothes and houses. I shall say nothing of jewels, of plate, painting, sculpture, fine furniture, and all that rigid moralists have called unnecessary and superfluous: but if we were not soon tired with walking a-foot, and were as nimble as some other animals; if men were naturally laborious, and none unreasonable in seeking and indulging their ease, and likewise free from other vices, and the ground was every where even, solid and clean, who would have thought of coaches or ventured on a horse’s back? What occasion has the dolphin for a ship, or what carriage would an eagle ask to travel in?

I hope the reader knows, that by society I understand a body politic, in which man either subdued by superior force, or by persuasion drawn from his savage state, is become a disciplined creature, that can find his own ends in labouring for others, and where under one head or other form of government, each member is rendered subservient to the whole, and all of them by cunning management are made to act as one. For if by society we only mean a number of people, that without rule or government, should keep together, out of a natural affection to their species, or love of company, as a herd of cows or a flock of sheep, then there is not in the world a more unfit creature for society than man; an hundred of them that should be all equals, under no subjection, or fear of any superior upon earth, could never live together awake two hours without quarrelling, and the more knowledge, [222]strength, wit, courage and resolution there was among them, the worse it would be.

It is probable, that in the wild state of nature, parents would keep a superiority over their children, at least while they were in strength, and that even afterwards, the remembrance of what the others had experienced, might produce in them something between love and fear, which we call reverence: it is probable, likewise, that the second generation following the example of the first; a man with a little cunning would always be able, as long as he lived and had his senses, to maintain a superior sway over all his own offspring and descendants, how numerous soever they might grow. But the old stock once dead, the sons would quarrel, and there could be no peace long before there had been war. Eldership in brothers is of no great force, and the pre-eminence that is given to it, only invented as a shift to live in peace. Man, as he is a fearful animal, naturally not rapacious, loves peace and quiet, and he would never fight, if nobody offended him, and he could have what he fights for without it. To this fearful disposition, and the aversion he has to his being disturbed, are owing all the various projects and forms of government. Monarchy, without doubt, was the first. Aristocracy and democracy were two different methods of mending the inconveniencies of the first, and a mixture of these three an improvement on all the rest.

But be we savages or politicians, it is impossible that man, mere fallen man, should act with any other view but to please himself while he has the use of his organs, and the greatest extravagancy either of love or despair can have no other centre. There is no difference between will and pleasure in one sense, and every motion made in spite of them must be unnatural and convulsive. Since, then, action is so confined, and we are always forced to do what we please, and at the same time our thoughts are free and uncontrouled, it is impossible we could be sociable creatures without hypocrisy. The proof of this is plain, since we cannot prevent the ideas that are continually arising within us, all civil commerce would be lost, if, by art and prudent dissimulation we had not learned to hide and stifle them; and if all we think was to be laid open to others, in the same manner as it is to ourselves, it is impossible that, endued with speech, we could be sufferable to one another. I am persuaded that every reader feels the truth of what I say; and I tell my antagonist [223]that his conscience flies in his face, while his tongue is preparing to refute me. In all civil societies men are taught insensibly to be hypocrites from their cradle; nobody dares to own that he gets by public calamities, or even by the loss of private persons. The sexton would be stoned should he wish openly for the death of the parishioners, though every body knew that he had nothing else to live upon.

To me it is a great pleasure, when I look on the affairs of human life, to behold into what various, and often strangely opposite forms, the hope of gain and thoughts of lucre shape men, according to the different employments they are of, and stations they are in. How gay and merry does every face appear at a well ordered ball, and what a solemn sadness is observed at the masquerade of a funeral! but the undertaker is as much pleased with his gains as the dancing-master: both are equally tired in their occupations, and the mirth of the one is as much forced as the gravity of the other is affected. Those who have never minded the conversation of a spruce mercer, and a young lady his customer that comes to his shop, have neglected a scene of life that is very entertaining. I beg of my serious reader, that he would, for a while, abate a little of his gravity, and suffer me to examine these people separately, as to their inside, and the different motives they act from.

His business is to sell as much silk as he can at a price by which he shall get what he proposes to be reasonable, according to the customary profits of the trade. As to the lady, what she would be at is to please her fancy, and buy cheaper by a groat or sixpence per yard than the things she wants are commonly sold at. From the impression the gallantry of our sex has made upon her, she imagines (if she be not very deformed) that she has a fine mien and easy behaviour, and a peculiar sweetness of voice; that she is handsome, and if not beautiful, at least more agreeable than most young women she knows. As she has no pretensions to purchase the same things with less money than other people, but what are built on her good qualities, so she sets herself off to the best advantage her wit and discretion will let her. The thoughts of love are here out of the case; so on the one hand, she has no room for playing the tyrant, and giving herself angry and peevish airs, and, on the other, more liberty of speaking kindly, and being affable than she can have almost [224]on any other occasion. She knows that abundance of well-bred people come to his shop, and endeavours to render herself as amiable as virtue and the rules of decency allow of. Coming with such a resolution of behaviour, she cannot meet with any thing to ruffle her temper.

Before her coach is yet quite stopped, she is approached by a gentleman-like man, that has every thing clean and fashionable about him, who in low obeisance pays her homage, and as soon as her pleasure is known that she has a mind to come in, hands her into the shop, where immediately he slips from her, and through a by-way that remains visible only for half a moment, with great address entrenches himself behind the counter: here facing her, with a profound reverence and modish phrase, he begs the favour of knowing her commands. Let her say and dislike what she pleases, she can never be directly contradicted: she deals with a man in whom consummate patience is one of the mysteries of his trade, and whatever trouble she creates she is sure to hear nothing but the most obliging language, and has always before her a cheerful countenance, where joy and respect seem to be blended with good humour, and altogether make up an artificial serenity more engaging than untaught nature is able to produce.

When two persons are so well met, the conversation must be very agreeable, as well as extremely mannerly, though they talk about trifles. While she remains irresolute what to take, he seems to be the same in advising her; and is very cautious how to direct her choice; but when once she has made it and is fixed, he immediately becomes positive, that it is the best of the sort, extols her fancy, and the more he looks upon it, the more he wonders he should not before have discovered the pre-eminence of it over any thing he has in his shop. By precept, example, and great application, he has learned unobserved to slide into the inmost recesses of the soul, sound the capacity of his customers, and find out their blind side unknown to them: by all which he is instructed in fifty other stratagems to make her over-value her own judgment as well as the commodity she would purchase. The greatest advantage he has over her, lies in the most material part of the commerce between them, the debate about the price, which he knows to a farthing, and she is wholly ignorant of: therefore he no where more egregiously imposes on her understanding; and though here he has [225]the liberty of telling what lies he pleases, as to the prime cost, and the money he has refused, yet he trusts not to them only; but, attacking her vanity, makes her believe the most incredible things in the world, concerning his own weakness and her superior abilities; he had taken a resolution, he says, never to part with that piece under such a price, but she has the power of talking him out of his goods beyond any body he ever sold to: he protests that he loses by his silk, but seeing that she has a fancy for it, and is resolved to give no more, rather than disoblige a lady he has such an uncommon value for, he will let her have it, and only begs that another time she will not stand so hard with him. In the mean time, the buyer, who knows that she is no fool, and has a voluble tongue, is easily persuaded that she has a very winning way of talking, and thinking it sufficient, for the sake of good-breeding, to disown her merit, and in some witty repartee retort the compliment, he makes her swallow very contentedly, the substance of every thing he tells her. The upshot is, that, with the satisfaction of having saved ninepence per yard, she has bought her silk exactly at the same price as any body else might have done, and often gives sixpence more than, rather than not have sold it, he would have taken.

It is possible that this lady, for want of being sufficiently flattered, for a fault she is pleased to find in his behaviour, or perhaps the tying of his neckcloth, or some other dislike as substantial, may be lost, and her custom bestowed on some other of the fraternity. But where many of them live in a cluster, it is not always easily determined which shop to go to, and the reasons some of the fair sex have for their choice, are often very whimsical, and kept as great a secret. We never follow our inclinations with more freedom, than where they cannot be traced, and it is unreasonable for others to suspect them. A virtuous woman has preferred one house to all the rest, because she had seen a handsome fellow in it, and another of no bad character for having received greater civility before it, than had been paid her any where else, when she had no thoughts of buying, and was going to Paul’s church: for among the fashionable mercers, the fair dealer must keep before his own door, and to draw in random customers, make use of no other freedom or importunities than an obsequious air, with a submissive posture, and perhaps [226]a bow to every well dressed female that offers to look towards his shop.

What I have said last, makes me think on another way of inviting customers, the most distant in the world from what I have been speaking of, I mean that which is practised by the watermen, especially on those whom, by their mien and garb, they know to be peasants. It is not unpleasant to see half a dozen people surround a man they never saw in their lives before, and two of them that can get the nearest, clapping each an arm over his neck, hug him in as loving and familiar a manner, as if he was their brother newly come home from an East India voyage; a third lays hold of his hand, another of his sleeve, his coat, the buttons of it, or any thing he can come at, while a fifth or a sixth, who has scampered twice round him already, without being able to get at him, plants himself directly before the man in hold, and within three inches of his nose, contradicting his rivals with an open mouthed cry, shows him a dreadful set of large teeth, and a small remainder of chewed bread and cheese, which the countryman’s arrival had hindered from being swallowed.

At all this no offence is taken, and the peasant justly thinks they are making much of him; therefore, far from opposing them, he patiently suffers himself to be pushed or pulled which way the strength that surrounds him shall direct. He has not the delicacy to find fault with a man’s breath, who has just blown out his pipe, or a greasy head of hair that is rubbing against his chops: Dirt and sweat he has been used to from his cradle, and it is no disturbance to him to hear half a score people, some of them at his ear, and the furthest not five foot from him, bawl out as if he was hundred yards off: He is conscious that he makes no less noise when he is merry himself, and is secretly pleased with their boisterous usages. The hawling and pulling him about he construes the way it is intended; it is a courtship he can feel and understand: He cannot help wishing them well for the esteem they seem to have for him: He loves to be taken notice of, and admires the Londoners for being so pressing in the offers of their service to him, for the value of threepence or less; whereas, in the country at the shop he uses, he can have nothing but he must first tell them what he wants, and, though he lays out three or four shillings at a time, has hardly a word spoke to him unless it be in answer to a question [227]himself is forced to ask first. This alacrity in his behalf moves his gratitude, and, unwilling to disoblige any, from his heart he knows not whom to choose. I have seen a man think all this, or something like it, as plainly as I could see the nose in his face; and, at the same time, move along very contentedly under a load of watermen, and with a smiling countenance carry seven or eight stone more than his own weight to the water side.

If the little mirth I have shown, in the drawing of these two images from low life, misbecomes me, I am sorry for it, but I promise not to be guilty of that fault any more, and will now, without loss of time, proceed with my argument in artless dull simplicity, and demonstrate the gross error of those, who imagine that the social virtues, and the amiable qualities that are praise-worthy in us, are equally beneficial to the public as they are to the individual persons that are possessed of them, and that the means of thriving, and whatever conduces to the welfare and real happiness of private families, must have the same effect upon the whole society. This, I confess, I have laboured for all along, and I flatter myself not unsuccessfully: But I hope nobody will like a problem the worse for seeing the truth of it proved more ways than one.

It is certain, that the fewer desires a man has, and the less he covets, the more easy he is to himself; the more active he is to supply his own wants, and the less he requires to be waited upon, the more he will be beloved, and the less trouble he is in a family; the more he loves peace and concord, the more charity he has for his neighbour, and the more he shines in real virtue, there is no doubt but that in proportion he is acceptable to God and man. But let us be just, what benefit can these things be of, or what earthly good can they do, to promote the wealth, the glory, and worldly greatness of nations? It is the sensual courtier that sets no limits to his luxury; the fickle strumpet that invents new fashions every week; the haughty duchess that in equipage, entertainments, and all her behaviour, would imitate a princess; the profuse rake and lavish heir, that scatter about their money without wit or judgment, buy every thing they see, and either destroy or give it away the next day; the covetous and perjured villain that squeezed an immense treasure from the tears of widows and orphans, and left the prodigals the money to spend: It is these that are the prey and [228]proper food of a full grown Leviathan; or, in other words, such is the calamitous condition of human affairs, that we stand in need of the plagues and monsters I named, to have all the variety of labour performed, which the skill of men is capable of inventing in order to procure an honest livelihood to the vast multitudes of working poor, that are required to make a large society: And it is folly to imagine, that great and wealthy nations can subsist, and be at once powerful and polite without.

I protest against Popery as much as ever Luther and Calvin did, or Queen Elizabeth herself; but I believe from my heart, that the Reformation has scarce been more instrumental in rendering the kingdoms and states that have embraced it, flourishing beyond other nations, than the silly and capricious invention of hooped and quilted petticoats. But if this should be denied me by the enemies of priestly power, at least I am sure that, bar the great men who have fought for and against that layman’s blessing, it has, from its beginning to this day, not employed so many hands, honest, industrious, labouring hands, as the abominable improvement on female luxury, I named, has done in few years. Religion is one thing, and trade is another. He that gives most trouble to thousands of his neighbours, and invents the most operose manufactures, is, right or wrong, the greatest friend to the society.

What a bustle is there to be made in several parts of the world, before a fine scarlet or crimson cloth can be produced; what multiplicity of trades and artificers must be employed! Not only such as are obvious, as woolcombers, spinners, the weaver, the cloth worker, the scourer, the dyer, the setter, the drawer, and the packer; but others that are more remote, and might seem foreign to it; as the mill-wright, the pewterer, and the chemist, which yet are all necessary, as well as a great number of other handicrafts, to have the tools, utensils, and other implements belonging to the trades already named: But all these things are done at home, and may be performed without extraordinary fatigue or danger; the most frightful prospect is left behind, when we reflect on the toil and hazard that are to be undergone abroad, the vast seas we are to go over, the different climates we are to endure, and the several nations we must be obliged to for their assistance. Spain alone, it is true, might furnish us with wool to make the finest cloth; but what skill and pains, [229]what experience and ingenuity, are required to dye it of those beautiful colours! How widely are the drugs, and other ingredients, dispersed through the universe that are to meet in one kettle! Allum, indeed, we have of our own; argol we might have from the Rhine, and vitriol from Hungary; all this is in Europe; but then for saltpetre in quantity, we are forced to go as far as the East Indies. Cocheneal, unknown to the ancients, is not much nearer to us, though in a quite different part of the earth: we buy it, it is true, from the Spaniards; but not being their product, they are forced to fetch it for us from the remotest corner of the new world in the East Indies. While so many sailors are broiling in the sun, and sweltered with heat in the east and west of us, another set of them are freezing in the north, to fetch potashes from Russia.

When we are thoroughly acquainted with all the variety of toil and labour, the hardships and calamities that must be undergone to compass the end I speak of, and we consider the vast risks and perils that are run in those voyages, and that few of them are ever made but at the expence, not only of the health and welfare, but even the lives of many: When we are acquainted with, I say, and duly consider the things I named, it is scarce possible to conceive a tyrant so inhuman, and void of shame, that, beholding things in the same view, he should exact such terrible services from his innocent slaves; and, at the same time, dare to own, that he did it for no other reason, than the satisfaction a man receives from having a garment made of scarlet or crimson cloth. But to what height of luxury must a nation be arrived, where not only the king’s officers, but likewise the guards, even the private soldiers, should have such impudent desires!

But if we turn the prospect, and look on all those labours as so many voluntary actions, belonging to different callings and occupations, that men are brought up to for a livelihood, and in which every one works for himself, how much soever he may seem to labour for others: If we consider, that even the sailors who undergo the greatest hardships, as soon as one voyage is ended, even after shipwreck, are looking out, and soliciting for employment in another: If we consider, I say, and look on these things in another view, we shall find, that the labour of the poor is so far from being a burden and an imposition upon them, that to have employment is a blessing, which, in their addresses to Heaven, they pray for, and to [230] procure it for the generality of them, is the greatest care of every legislature.

As children, and even infants, are the apes of others, so all youth have an ardent desire of being men and women, and become often ridiculous by their impatient endeavours to appear what every body sees they are not; all large societies are not a little indebted to this folly for the perpetuity, or at least long continuance, of trades once established. What pains will young people take, and what violence will they not commit upon themselves, to attain to insignificant, and often blameable qualifications, which, for want of judgment and experience, they admire in others, that are superior to them in age! This fondness of imitation makes them accustom themselves, by degrees, to the use of things that were irksome, if not intolerable to them at first, till they know not how to leave them, and are often very sorry for having inconsiderately increased the necessaries of life without any necessity. What estates have been got by tea and coffee! What a vast traffic is drove, what a variety of labour is performed in the world, to the maintenance of thousands of families that altogether depend on two silly, if not odious customs; the taking of snuff, and smoking of tobacco; both which, it is certain, do infinitely more hurt than good to those that are addicted to them! I shall go further, and demonstrate the usefulness of private losses and misfortunes to the public, and the folly of our wishes, when we pretend to be most wise and serious. The fire of London was a great calamity; but if the carpenters, bricklayers, smiths, and all, not only that are employed in building, but likewise those that made and dealt in the same manufactures, and other merchandises that were burnt, and other trades again that got by them when they were in full employ, were to vote against those who lost by the fire, the rejoicings would equal, if not exceed the complaints. In recruiting what is lost and destroyed by fire, storms, sea-fights, sieges, battles, a considerable part of trade consists; the truth of which, and whatever I have said of the nature of society, will plainly appear from what follows.

It would be a difficult task to enumerate all the advantages and different benefits, that accrue to a nation, on account of shipping and navigation; but if we only take into consideration the ships themselves, and every vessel great and small that is made use of for water-carriage, from the least [231]wherry to a first rate man of war; the timber and hands that are employed in the building of them; and consider the pitch, tar, rosin, grease; the masts, yards, sails and riggings; the variety of smiths work; the cables, oars, and every thing else belonging to them; we shall find, that to furnish only such a nation as ours with all the necessaries, make up a considerable part of the traffic of Europe, without speaking of the stores and ammunition of all sorts, that are consumed in them, or the mariners, waterman and others, with their families, that are maintained by them.

But should we, on the other hand, take a view of the manifold mischiefs and variety of evils, moral as well as natural, that befal nations on the score of seafaring, and their commerce with strangers, the prospect would be very frightful; and could we suppose a large populous island, that should be wholly unacquainted with ships and sea affairs, but otherwise a wise and well-governed people; and that some angel, or their genius, should lay before them a scheme or draught, where they might see on the one side, all the riches and real advantages that would be acquired by navigation in a thousand years; and on the other, the wealth and lives that would be lost, and all the other calamities, that would be unavoidably sustained on account of it during the same time, I am confident, they would look upon ships with horror and detestation, and that their prudent rulers would severely forbid the making and inventing all buildings or machines to go to sea with, of what shape or denomination soever, and prohibit all such abominable contrivances on great penalties, if not the pain of death.

But to let alone the necessary consequence of foreign trade, the corruption of manners, as well as plagues, poxes, and other diseases, that are brought to us by shipping, should we only cast our eyes on what is either to be imputed to the wind and weather, the treachery of the seas, the ice of the north, the vermin of the south, the darkness of nights, and unwholesomeness of climates, or else occasioned by the want of good provisions, and the faults of mariners, and unskilfulness of some, and the neglect and drunkenness of others; and should we consider the losses of men and treasure swallowed up in the deep, the tears and necessities of widows and orphans made by the sea, the ruin of merchants and the consequences, the continual anxieties that parents and wives are in for the safety of their children and husbands, and not forget [232]the many pangs and heart-aches that are felt throughout a trading nation, by owners and insurers, at every blast of wind; should we cast our eyes, I say, on these things, consider with due attention and give them the weight they deserve, would it not be amazing, how a nation of thinking people should talk of their ships and navigation as a peculiar blessing to them, and placing an uncommon felicity in having an infinity of vessels dispersed through the wide world, and always some going to and others coming from every part of the universe?

But let us once, in our consideration on these things, confine ourselves to what the ships suffer only, the vessels themselves, with their rigging and appurtenances, without thinking on the freight they carry, or the hands that work them, and we shall find that the damage sustained that way only, is very considerable, and must one year with another amount to vast sums; the ships that are foundered at sea, split against rocks and swallowed up by sands, some by the fierceness of tempests altogether, others by that and the want of pilots, experience, and knowledge of the coasts: the masts that are blown down, or forced to be cut and thrown overboard, the yards, sails, and cordage of different sizes that are destroyed by storms, and the anchors that are lost: add to these the necessary repairs of leaks sprung, and other hurts received from the rage of winds, and the violence of the waves: many ships are set on fire by carelessness, and the effects of strong liquors, which none are more addicted to than sailors: sometimes unhealthy climates, at others the badness of provision breed fatal distempers, that sweep away the greatest part of the crew, and not a few ships are lost for want of hands.

These are all calamities inseparable from navigation, and seem to be great impediments that clog the wheels of foreign commerce. How happy would a merchant think himself, if his ships should always have fine weather, and the wind he wished for, and every mariner he employed, from the highest to the lowest, be a knowing experienced sailor, and a careful, sober, good man! Was such a felicity to be had for prayers, what owner of ships is there, or dealer in Europe, nay, the whole world, who would not be all day long teazing Heaven to obtain such a blessing for himself, without regard to what detriment it would do to others? Such a petition would certainly be a very unconscionable one; yet where is the man who imagines not that he has a right to make it? And therefore, [233]as every one pretends to an equal claim to those favours, let us, without reflecting on the impossibility of its being true, suppose all their prayers effectual and their wishes answered, and afterwards examine into the result of such a happiness.

Ships would last as long as timber houses to the full, because they are as strongly built, and the latter are liable to suffer by high winds and other storms, which the first, by our supposition, are not to be: so that, before there would be any real occasion for new ships, the master builders now in being, and every body under them, that is set to work about them, would all die a natural death, if they were not starved or come to some untimely end: for, in the first place, all ships having prosperous gales, and never waiting for the wind, they would make very quick voyages both out and home: secondly, no merchandises would be damaged by the sea, or by stress of weather thrown overboard, but the entire lading would always come safe ashore; and hence it would follow, that three parts in four of the merchantmen already made, would be superfluous for the present, and the stock of ships that are now in the world, serve a vast many years. Masts and yards would last as long as the vessels themselves, and we should not need to trouble Norway on that score a great while yet. The sails and rigging, indeed, of the few ships made use of would wear out, but not a quarter part so fast as now they do, for they often suffer more in one hour’s storm, than in ten days fair weather.

Anchors and cables there would be seldom any occasion for, and one of each would last a ship time out of mind: this article alone, would yield many a tedious holiday to the anchor-smiths and the rope-yards. This general want of consumption would have such an influence on the timber-merchants, and all that import iron, sail-cloth, hemp, pitch, tar, &c. that four parts in five of what, in the beginning of this reflection on sea-affairs, I said, made a considerable branch of the traffic of Europe, would be entirely lost.

I have only touched hitherto on the consequences of this blessing in relation to shipping, but it would be detrimental to all other branches of trade besides, and destructive to the poor of every country, that exports any thing of their own growth or manufacture. The goods and merchandises that every year go to the deep, that are spoiled at sea by salt water, by heat, by vermine, destroyed by fire, or lost to the [234]merchant by other accidents, all owing to storms or tedious voyages, or else the neglect or rapacity of sailors; such goods, I say, and merchandises are a considerable part of what every year is sent abroad throughout the world, and must have employed great multitudes of poor, before they could come on board. A hundred bales of cloth that are burnt or sunk in the Mediterranean, are as beneficial to the poor in England, as if they had safely arrived at Smyrna or Aleppo, and every yard of them had been retailed on the grand Signior’s dominions.

The merchant may break, and by him the clothier, the dyer, the packer, and other tradesmen, the middling people, may suffer; but the poor that were set to work about them can never lose. Day-labourers commonly receive their earnings once a-week, and all the working people that were employed, either in any of the various branches of the manufacture itself, or the several land and water carriages it requires to be brought to perfection, from the sheep’s back, to the vessel it was entered in, were paid, at least much the greatest part of them, before the parcel came on board. Should any of my readers draw conclusions in infinitum, from my assertions, that goods sunk or burnt are as beneficial to the poor, as if they had been well sold and put to their proper uses, I would count him a caviller and not worth answering: should it always rain and the sun never shine, the fruits of the earth would soon be rotten and destroyed; and yet it is no paradox to affirm, that, to have grass or corn, rain is as necessary as the sunshine.

In what manner this blessing of fair winds and fine weather, would affect the mariners themselves, and the breed of sailors, may be easily conjectured from what has been said already. As there would hardly one ship in four be made use of, so the vessels themselves being always exempt from storms, fewer hands would be required to work them, and consequently five in six of the seamen we have might be spared, which in this nation, most employments of the poor being overstocked, would be but an untoward article. As soon as those superfluous seamen should be extinct, it would be impossible to man such large fleets as we could at present: but I do not look upon this as a detriment, or the least inconveniency: for the reduction of mariners, as to numbers being general throughout the world, all the consequence would be, that in case of war, the maritime powers would be [235]obliged to fight with fewer ships, which would be an happiness instead of an evil: and would you carry this felicity to the highest pitch of perfection, it is but to add one desirable blessing more, and no nation shall ever fight at all: the blessing I hint at is, what all good Christians are bound to pray for, viz. that all princes and states would be true to their oaths and promises, and just to one another, as well as their own subjects; that they might have a greater regard for the dictates of conscience and religion, than those of state politics and worldly wisdom, and prefer the spiritual welfare of others to their own carnal desires, and the honesty, the safety, the peace and tranquillity of the nations they govern, to their own love of glory, spirit of revenge, avarice, and ambition.

The last paragraph will to many seem a digression, that makes little for my purpose; but what I mean by it, is to demonstrate that goodness, integrity, and a peaceful disposition in rulers and governors of nations, are not the proper qualifications to aggrandize them, and increase their numbers; any more than the uninterrupted series of success that every private person would be blest with, if he could, and which I have shown would be injurious and destructive to a large society, that should place a felicity in worldly greatness, and being envied by their neighbours, and value themselves upon their honour and their strength.

No man needs to guard himself against blessings, but calamities require hands to avert them. The amiable qualities of man put none of the species upon stirring: his honesty, his love of company, his goodness, content and frugality, are so many comforts to an indolent society, and the more real and unaffected they are, the more they keep every thing at rest and peace, and the more they will every where prevent trouble and motion itself. The same almost may be said of the gifts and munificence of Heaven, and all the bounties and benefits of nature: this is certain, that the more extensive they are, and the greater plenty we have of them, the more we save our labour. But the necessities, the vices, and imperfections of man, together with the various inclemencies of the air and other elements, contain in them the seeds of all arts, industry and labours: it is the extremities of heat and cold, the inconstancy and badness of seasons, the violence and uncertainty of winds, the vast power and treachery of water, the rage and untractableness of fire, and the stubbornness [236]and sterility of the earth, that rack our invention, how we shall either avoid the mischiefs they may produce, or correct the malignity of them, and turn their several forces to our own advantage a thousand different ways; while we are employed in supplying the infinite variety of our wants, which will ever be multiplied as our knowledge is enlarged, and our desires increase. Hunger, thirst, and nakedness, are the first tyrants that force us to stir: afterwards, our pride, sloth, sensuality, and fickleness, are the great patrons that promote all arts and sciences, trades, handicrafts and callings; while the great task-masters, necessity, avarice, envy, and ambition, each in the class that belongs to him, keep the members of the society to their labour, and make them all submit, most of them cheerfully, to the drudgery of their station; kings and princes not excepted.

The greater the variety of trades and manufactures the more operose they are, and the more they are divided in many branches, the greater numbers may be contained in a society without being in one another’s way, and the more easily they may be rendered a rich, potent, and flourishing people. Few virtues employ any hands, and therefore they may render a small nation good, but they can never make a great one. To be strong and laborious, patient in difficulties, and assiduous in all business, are commendable qualities; but as they do their own work, so they are their own reward, and neither art nor industry have ever paid their compliments to them; whereas the excellency of human thought and contrivance, has been, and is yet no where more conspicuous than in the variety of tools and instruments of workmen and artificers, and the multiplicity of engines, that were all invented either to assist the weakness of man, to correct his many imperfections, to gratify his laziness, or obviate his impatience.

It is in morality as it is in nature, there is nothing so perfectly good in creatures, that it cannot be hurtful to any one of the society, nor any thing so entirely evil, but it may prove beneficial to some part or other of the creation: so that things are only good and evil in reference to something else, and according to the light and position they are placed in. What pleases us is good in that regard, and by this rule every man wishes well for himself to the best of his capacity, with little respect to his neighbour. There never was any rain yet, though in a very dry season when public [237]prayers had been made for it, but somebody or other who wanted to go abroad, wished it might be fair weather only for that day. When the corn stands thick in the spring, and the generality of the country rejoice at the pleasing object, the rich farmer who kept his last year’s crop for a better market, pines at the sight, and inwardly grieves at the prospect of a plentiful harvest. Nay, we shall often hear your idle people openly wish for the possessions of others, and not to be injurious forsooth add this wise proviso, that it should be without detriment to the owners: but I am afraid they often do it without any such restriction in their hearts.

It is a happiness that the prayers as well as wishes of most people, are insignificant and good for nothing; or else the only thing that could keep mankind fit for society, and the world from falling into confusion, would be the impossibility that all the petitions made to Heaven should be granted. A dutiful pretty young gentleman newly come from his travels, lies at the Briel waiting with impatience for an easterly wind, to waft him over to England, where a dying father, who wants to embrace and give him his blessing before he yields his breath, lies hoaning after him, melted with grief and tenderness: in the mean while a British minister, who is to take care of the Protestant interest in Germany, is riding post to Harwich, and in violent haste to be at Ratisbone before the diet breaks up. At the same time a rich fleet lies ready for the Mediterranean, and a fine squadron is bound for the Baltic. All these things may probably happen at once, at least there is no difficulty in supposing they should. If these people are not atheists, or very great reprobates, they will all have some good thoughts before they go to sleep, and consequently about bed-time, they must all differently pray for a fair wind and a prosperous voyage. I do not say but it is their duty, and it is possible they may be all heard, but I am sure they cannot be all served at the same time.

After this, I flatter myself to have demonstrated that, neither the friendly qualities and kind affections that are natural to man, nor the real virtues he is capable of acquiring by reason and self-denial, are the foundation of society; but that what we call evil in this world, moral as well as natural, is the grand principle that makes us sociable creatures, the solid basis, the life and support of all trades and employments without exception: that there we must look for the true [238]origin of all arts and sciences, and that the moment evil ceases, the society must be spoiled, if not totally dissolved.

I could add a thousand things to enforce, and further illustrate this truth, with abundance of pleasure; but for fear of being troublesome, I shall make an end, though I confess that I have not been half so solicitous to gain the approbation of others, as I have studied to please myself in this amusement: yet if ever I hear, that by following this diversion I have given any to the intelligent reader, it will always add to the satisfaction I have received in the performance. In the hope my vanity forms of this, I leave him with regret, and conclude with repeating the seeming paradox, the substance of which is advanced in the title page; that private vices, by the dexterous management of a skilful politician, may be turned into public benefits. [239]


Book, from the Aspersions contained in a Presentment of the Grand Jury of Middlesex,
And an Abusive Letter to Lord C——

That the reader may be fully instructed in the merits of the cause between my adversaries and myself, it is requisite that, before he sees my defence, he should know the whole charge, and have before him all the accusations against me at large.

The Presentment of the Grand Jury is worded thus:

We the Grand Jury for the county of Middlesex, have, with the greatest sorrow and concern, observed the many books and pamphlets that are almost every week published against the sacred articles of our holy religion, and all discipline and order in the church, and the manner in which this is carried on, seems to us to have a direct tendency to propagate infidelity, and consequently corruption of all morals.

We are justly sensible of the goodness of the Almighty, that has preserved us from the plague, which has visited our neighbouring nation, and for which great mercy, his Majesty was graciously pleased to command, by his proclamation, that thanks should be returned to Heaven; but how provoking must it be to the Almighty, that his mercies and deliverances extended to this nation, and our thanksgiving that was publicly commanded for it, should be attended with such flagrant impieties.

We know of nothing that can be of greater service to his Majesty, and the Protestant succession (which is happily established among us for the defence of the Christian Religion), than the suppression of blasphemy and profaneness, which has a direct tendency to subvert the very foundation on which his Majesty’s government is fixed. [240]

So restless have these zealots for infidelity been in their diabolical attempts against religion, that they have,

First, Openly blasphemed and denied the doctrine of the ever Blessed Trinity, endeavouring, by species pretences, to revive the Arian heresy, which was never introduced into any nation, but the vengeance of Heaven pursued it.

Secondly, They affirm an absolute fate, and deny the Providence and government of the Almighty in the world.

Thirdly, They have endeavoured to subvert all order and discipline of the church, and by vile and unjust reflections on the clergy, they strive to bring contempt on all religion; that by the libertinism of their opinions they may encourage and draw others into the immoralities of their practice.

Fourthly, That a general libertinism may the more effectually be established, the universities are decried, and all instructions of youth in the principles of the Christian religion are exploded with the greatest malice and falsity.

Fifthly, The more effectually to carry on these works of darkness, studied artifices, and invented colours, have been made use of to run down religion and virtue as prejudicial to society, and detrimental to the state; and to recommend luxury, avarice, pride, and all kind of vices, as being necessary to public welfare, and not tending to the destruction of the constitution: nay, the very stews themselves have had strained apologies and forced encomiums made in their favour, and produced in print, with design, we conceive, to debauch the nation.

These principles having a direct tendency to the subversion of all religion and civil government, our duty to the Almighty, our love to our country, and regard to our oaths, oblige us to present

as the publisher of a book, intituled the Fable of the Bees; or Private Vices Public Benefits. 2d. Edit. 1723.

And also

as the publisher of a weekly paper, called the British Journal, Numb. 26, 35, 36, and 39.


The Letter I complain of is this:

My Lord,

It is welcome news to all the king’s loyal subjects and true friends to the established government and succession in the illustrious house of Hanover, that your Lordship is said to be contriving some effectual means of securing us from the dangers, wherewith his Majesty’s happy government seems to be threatened by Catiline, under the name of Cato; by the writer of a book, intituled, The Fable of the Bees, &c. and by others of their fraternity, who are undoubtedly useful friends to the Pretender, and diligent, for his sake, in labouring to subvert and ruin our constitution, under a specious pretence of defending it. Your Lordship’s wise resolution, totally to suppress such impious writings, and the direction already given for having them presented, immediately, by some of the grand juries, will effectually convince the nation, that no attempts against Christianity will be suffered or endured here. And this conviction will at once rid men’s minds of the uneasiness which this flagitious race of writers has endeavoured to raise in them; will therefore be a firm bulwark to the Protestant religion; will effectually defeat the projects and hopes of the Pretender; and best secure us against any change in the ministry. And no faithful Briton could be unconcerned, if the people should imagine any the least neglect in any single person bearing a part in the ministry, or begin to grow jealous, that any thing could be done, which is not done, in defending their religion from every the least appearance of danger approaching towards it. And, my Lord, this jealousy might have been apt to rise, if no measures had been taken to discourage and crush the open advocates of irreligion. It is no easy matter to get jealousy out of one’s brains, when it is once got into them. Jealousy, my Lord! it is as furious a fiend as any of them all. I have seen a little thin weak woman so invigorated by a fit of jealousy, that five grenadiers could not hold her. My Lord, go on with your just methods of keeping the people clear of this cursed jealousy: for amongst the various kinds and occasions of it, that which concerns their religion, is the most violent, flagrant, frantic sort of all; and accordingly has, in former reigns, produced those various mischiefs, which your Lordship has faithfully determined to prevent, dutifully regarding [242]the royal authority, and conforming to the example of his Majesty, who has graciously given directions (which are well known to your Lordship) for the preserving of unity in the church; and the purity of the Christian faith. It is in vain to think that the people of England will ever give up their religion, or be very fond of any ministry that will not support it, as the wisdom of this ministry has done, against such audacious attacks as are made upon it by the scribblers; for scribbler, your Lordship knows, is the just appellation of every author, who, under whatever plausible appearance of good sense, attempts to undermine the religion, and therefore the content and quiet, the peace and happiness of his fellow-subjects, by subtle and artful, and fallacious arguments and insinuations. May Heaven avert those insufferable miseries, which the Church of Rome would bring upon us! tyranny is the bane of human society, and there is no tyranny heavier than that of the triple crown. And, therefore, this free and happy people has justly conceived an utter abhorrence and dread of Popery, and of every thing that looks like encouragement or tendency to it; but they do also abhor and dread the violence offered to Christianity itself, by our British Catilines, who shelter their treacherous designs against it, under the false colours of regard and good will to our blessed Protestant religion, while they demonstrate, too plainly demonstrate, that the title of Protestants does not belong to them, unless it can belong to those who are in effect protestors against all religion.

And really the people cannot be much blamed for being a little unwilling to part with their religion: for they tell ye that there is a God; and that God governs the world; and that he is wont to bless or blast a kingdom, in proportion to the degrees of religion or irreligion prevailing in it. Your Lordship has a fine collection of books; and, which is a finer thing still, you do certainly understand them, and can turn to an account of any important affair in a trice. I would therefore fain know, whether your Lordship can show, from any writer, let him be as profane as the scribblers would have him, that any one empire, kingdom, country, or province, great or small, did not dwindle and sink, and was confounded, when it once failed of providing studiously for the support of religion.

The scribblers talk much of the Roman government, and liberty, and the spirit of the old Romans. But it is undeniable, [243]that their most plausible talk of these things is all pretence, and grimace, and an artifice to serve the purposes of irreligion; and by consequence to render the people uneasy, and ruin the kingdom. For if they did in reality esteem, and would faithfully recommend to their countrymen, the sentiments and principles, the main purposes and practices of the wise and prosperous Romans, they would, in the first place, put us in mind, that old Rome was as remarkable for observing and promoting natural religion, as new Rome has been for corrupting that which is revealed. And as the old Romans did signally recommend themselves to the favour of heaven, by their faithful care of religion; so were they abundantly convinced, and did accordingly acknowledge, with universal consent, that their care of religion was the great means1 of God’s preserving the empire, and crowning it with conquest and success, prosperity and glory. Hence it was, that when their orators were bent upon exerting their utmost in moving and persuading the people, upon any occasion, they ever put them in mind of their religion, if that could be any way affected by the point in debate; not doubting that the people would determine in their favour, if they could but demonstrate, that the safety of religion depended upon the success of their cause. And, indeed, neither the Romans, nor any other nation upon earth, did ever suffer their established religion to be openly ridiculed, exploded, or opposed: and I am sure, your Lordship would not, for all the world, that this thing would be done with impunity amongst us, which was never endured in the world before. Did ever any man, since the blessed revelation of the gospel, run riot upon Christianity, as some men, nay, and some few women too, have lately done? must the devil grow rampant at this rate, and not to be called coram nobis? Why should not he content himself to carry off people in the common way, the way of cursing and swearing, Sabbath breaking and cheating, bribery, and hypocrisy, drunkenness and whoring, and such kind of things as he used to do? never let him domineer in mens mouths and writings, as he does now, with loud, tremendous infidelity, blasphemy and profaneness, enough to frighten the King’s subjects out of their wits. We are now come to a [244]short question: God or the devil? that is the word; and time will show, who and who goes together. Thus much may be said at present, that those have abundantly shown their spirit of opposition to sacred things, who have not only inveighed against the national profession and exercise of religion; and endeavoured, with bitterness and dexterity, to render it odious and contemptible, but are solicitous to hinder multitudes of the natives of this island from having the very seeds of religion sown among them with advantage.

Arguments are urged, with the utmost vehemence, against the education of poor children in the charity schools, though there hath not one just reason been offered against the provision made for that education. The things that have been objected against it are not, in fact, true; and nothing ought to be regarded, by serious and wise men, as a weighty or just argument, if it is not a true one. How hath Catiline the confidence left to look any man in the face, after he hath spent more confidence than most mens whole stock amounts to, in saying, that this pretended charity has, in effect, destroyed all other charities, which were before given to the aged, sick, and impotent.

It seems pretty clear, that if those, who do not contribute to any charity school, are become more uncharitable to any other object than formerly they were, their want of charity to the one, is not owing to their contribution to the other. And as to those who do contribute to these schools; they are so far from being more sparing in their relief of other objects, than they were before, that the poor widows, the aged and the impotent do plainly receive more relief from them, in proportion to their numbers and abilities, than from any the same numbers of men under the same circumstances of fortune, who do not concern themselves with charity schools, in any respect, but in condemning and decrying them. I will meet Catiline at the Grecian coffee-house any day in the week, and by an enumeration of particular persons, in as great a number as he pleaseth, demonstrate the truth of what I say. But I do not much depend upon his giving me the meeting, because it is his business, not to encourage demonstrations of the truth, but to throw disguises upon it; otherwise, he never could have allowed himself, after representing the charity schools as intended to breed up children to reading and writing, and a sober behaviour, that they may be qualified to be servants, immediately to [245]add these words, a sort of idle and rioting vermin, by which the kingdom is already almost devoured, and are become every where a public nuisance, &c. What? Is it owing to the charity schools, that servants are become so idle, such rioting vermin, such a public nuisance; that women-servants turn whores, and the men-servants robbers, house-breakers, and sharpers? (as he says they commonly do). Is this owing to the charity schools? or, if it is not, how comes he to allow himself the liberty of representing these schools as a means of increasing this load of mischief, which is indeed too plainly fallen upon the public? The imbibing principles of virtue hath not, usually, been thought the chief occasion of running into vice. If the early knowledge of truth, and of our obligations to it, were the surest means of departing from it, nobody would doubt, that the knowledge of truth was instilled into Catiline very early, and with the utmost care. It is a good pretty thing in him to spread a report, and to lay so much stress upon it as he does, that there is more collected at the church doors in a day, to make these poor boys and girls appear in caps and livery-coats, than for all the poor in a year. O rare Catiline! This point you will carry most swimmingly; for you have no witnesses against you, nor any living soul to contradict you, except the collectors and overseers of the poor, and all other principal inhabitants of most of the parishes, where any charity schools are in England.

The jest of it is, my Lord, that these scribblers would still be thought good moral men. But, when men make it their business to mislead and deceive their neighbours, and that in matters of moment, by distorting and disguising the truth, by misrepresentations and false insinuations; if such men are not guilty of usurpation, while they take upon them the character of good moral men, then it is not immoral, in any man, to be false and deceitful, in cases where the law cannot touch him for being so, and morality bears no relation to truth and fair dealing. However, I shall not be very willing to meet one of these moral men upon Hounslow-heath, if I should happen to ride that way without pistols. For I have a notion, that they who have no conscience in one point, do not much abound with it in another. Your Lordship, who judges accurately of men, as well as books, will easily imagine, if you had no other knowledge of the charity schools, that there must be something very excellent in them [246]because such kind of men as these are so warm in opposing them.

They tell you, that these schools are hindrances to husbandry and to manufacture. As to husbandry; the children are not kept in the schools longer than till they are of age and strength to perform the principal parts of it, or to bear constant labour in it; and even while they are under this course of education, your Lordship may depend upon it, that they shall never be hindered from working in the fields, or being employed in such labour as they are capable of, in any parts of the year, when they can get such employment for the support of their parents and themselves. In this case, the parents, in the several counties, are proper judges of their several situations and circumstances, and at the same time, not so very fond of their children getting a little knowledge, rather than a little money, but that they will find other employment for them than going to school, whenever they can get a penny by so doing. And the case is the same as to the manufactures; the trustees of the charity schools, and the parents of the children bred in them, would be thankful to those gentlemen who make the objection, if they would assist in removing it, by subscribing to a fund for joining the employment of manufacture, to the business of learning to read and write in the charity schools. This would be a noble work: it is already effected by the supporters of some charity schools, and is aimed at, and earnestly desired by all the rest: but Rome was not built in a day. Till this great thing can be brought about, let the masters and managers of the manufactures in the several places of the kingdom, be so charitable as to employ the poor children for a certain number of hours in every day, in the respective manufactures, while the trustees are taking care to fill up their other hours of the day, in the usual duties of the charity schools. It is an easy matter for party-men, for designing and perverted minds, to invent colourable, fallacious arguments, and to offer railing, under the appearance of reasoning, against the best things in the world. But undoubtedly, no impartial man, who is affected with a serious sense of goodness, and a real love of his country, can think this proper and just view of the charity schools, liable to any just weighty objection, or refuse to contribute his endeavours to improve and raise them to that perfection which is proposed in them. In the mean time, let no man be so weak or so wicked as to deny, [247]that when poor children cannot meet with employment in any other honest way, rather than suffer their tender age to be spent in idleness, or in learning the arts of lying, and swearing, and stealing, it is true charity to them, and good service done to our country, to employ them in learning the principles of religion and virtue, till their age and strength will enable them to become servants in families, or to be engaged in husbandry, or manufacture, or any kind of mechanic trade or laborious employment; for to these laborious employments are the charity children generally, if not always turned, as soon as they become capable of them: and therefore Catiline may be pleased to retract his objection concerning shop-keepers, or retailers of commodities, wherein he has affirmed, that their employments, which he says ought to fall to the share of children of their own degree, are mostly anticipated and engrossed by the managers of the charity schools. He must excuse my acquainting your Lordship, that this affirmation is in fact directly false, which is an inconvenience very apt to fall upon his affirmations, as it has particularly done upon one of them more, which I would mention. For he is not ashamed roundly to assert, That the principles of our common people are debauched in our charity schools, who are taught, as soon as they can speak, to blabber out High-church and Ormond, and so are bred up to be traitors before they know what treason signifies. Your Lordship, and other persons of integrity, whose words are the faithful representatives of their meaning, would now think, if I had not given you a key to Catiline’s talk, that he has been fully convinced, that the children in the charity schools are bred up to be traitors.

My Lord, if any one master be suffered by the trustees to continue in any charity school, against whom proof can be brought, that he is disaffected to the government, or that he does not as faithfully teach the children obedience and loyalty to the King, as any other duty in the catechism, then I will gratify Catiline with a licence to pull down the schools, and hang up the masters, according to his heart’s desire.

These, and such things as these, are urged with the like bitterness, and as little truth, in the book mentioned above, viz. The Fable of the Bees; or, Private Vices, Public Benefits, &c. Catiline explodes the fundamental articles of faith, impiously comparing the doctrine of the blessed Trinity to fee-fa-fum: this profligate author of the Fable is not only an [248]auxiliary to Catiline in opposition to faith, but has taken upon him to tear up the very foundations of moral virtue, and establish vice in its room. The best physician in the world did never labour more, to purge the natural body of bad qualities, than this bumble-bee has done to purge the body-politic of good ones. He himself bears testimony to the truth of this charge against him: for when he comes to the conclusion of his book, he makes this observation upon himself and his performance: “After this, I flatter myself to have demonstrated, that neither the friendly qualities and kind affections that are natural to man, nor the real virtues he is capable of acquiring by reason and self-denial, are the foundation of society; but that what we call evil in this world, moral as well as natural, is the grand principle that makes us sociable creatures, the solid basis, the life and support of all trades and employments without exception: that there we must look for the true origin of all arts and sciences, and that the moment evil ceases, the society must be spoiled, if not totally dissolved.

Now, my Lord, you see the grand design, the main drift of Catiline and his confederates; now the scene opens, and the secret springs appear; now the fraternity adventure to speak out, and surely no band of men ever dared to speak at this rate before; now you see the true cause of all their enmity to the poor charity schools; it is levelled against religion: religion, my Lord, which the schools are instituted to promote, and which this confederacy is resolved to destroy; for the schools are certainly one of the greatest instruments of religion and virtue, one of the firmest bulwarks against Popery, one of the best recommendations of this people to the Divine favour, and therefore one of the greatest blessings to our country of any thing that has been set on foot since our happy Reformation and deliverance from the idolatry and tyranny of Rome. If any trivial inconvenience did arise from so excellent a work, as some little inconvenience attends all human institutions and affairs, the excellency of the work would still be matter of joy, and find encouragement with all the wise and the good, who despise such insignificant objections against it, as other men are not ashamed to raise and defend.

Now your Lordship also sees the true cause of the satire, which is continually formed against the clergy, by Catiline and his confederates. Why should Mr. Hall’s conviction [249]and execution be any more an objection against the clergy, than Mr. Layer’s against the gentlemen of the long robe? Why, because the profession of the law does not immediately relate to religion: and therefore Catiline will allow, that if any persons of that profession should be traitors, or otherwise vicious, all the rest may, notwithstanding the iniquity of a brother, be as loyal and virtuous as any other subjects in the King’s dominions: but because matters of religion are the professed concern, and the employment of the clergy; therefore Catiline’s logic makes it out, as clear as the day, that if any of them be disaffected to the government, all the rest are so too; or if any of them be chargeable with vice, this consequence from it is plain, that all or most of the rest are as vicious as the devil can make them. I shall not trouble your Lordship with a particular vindication of the clergy, nor is there any reason that I should, for they are already secure of your Lordship’s good affection to them, and they are able to vindicate themselves wheresoever such a vindication is wanted, being as faithful, and virtuous, and learned, a body of men as any in Europe; and yet they suspend the publication of arguments in a solemn defence of themselves, because they neither expect nor desire approbation and esteem from impious and abandoned men; and, at the same time, they cannot doubt that all persons, not only of great penetration, but of common sense, do now clearly see, that the arrows shot against the clergy are intended to wound and destroy the divine institution of the ministerial offices, and to extirpate the religion which the sacred offices were appointed to preserve and promote. This was always supposed and suspected by every honest and impartial man; but it is now demonstrated by those who before had given occasion to such suspicions, for they have now openly declared, that faith, in the principal articles of it, is not only needless, but ridiculous, that the welfare of human society must sink and perish under the encouragement of virtue, and that immorality is the only firm foundation whereon the happiness of mankind can be built and subsist. The publication of such tenets as these, an open avowed proposal to extirpate the Christian faith and all virtue, and to fix moral evil for the basis of the government, is so stunning, so shocking, so frightful, so flagrant an enormity, that if it should be imputed to us as a national guilt, the Divine vengeance must inevitably fall upon us. And how far this enormity would [250]become a national guilt, if it should pass disregarded and unpunished, a casuist less skilful and discerning than your Lordship may easily guess. And, no doubt, your Lordship’s good judgment, in so plain and important a case, has made you, like a wise and faithful patriot, resolve to use your utmost endeavours in your high station, to defend religion from the bold attacks made upon it.

As soon as I have seen a copy of the bill, for the better security of his Majesty and his happy government, by the better security of religion in Great Britain, your Lordship’s just scheme of politics, your love of your country, and your great services done to it, shall again be acknowledged by,

My Lord,

Your most faithful humble Servant;

Theophilus Philo-Britannus.

These violent accusations, and the great clamour every where raised against the book, by governors, masters, and other champions of charity schools, together with the advice of friends, and the reflection on what I owed to myself, drew from me the following answer. The candid reader, in the perusal of it, will not be offended at the repetition of some passages, one of which he may have met with twice already, when he shall consider that, to make my defence by itself to the public, I was obliged to repeat what had been quoted in the Letter, since the paper would unavoidably fall into the hands of many who had never seen either the Fable of the Bees, or the Defamatory Letter wrote against it. The Answer was published in the London Journal of August 10, 1723, in these words:

Whereas, in the Evening Post of Thursday July 11, a presentment was inserted of the Grand Jury of Middlesex, against the publisher of a book, intituled, The Fable of the Bees; or, Private Vices, Public Benefits; and since that, a passionate and abusive Letter has been published against the same book, and the author of it, in the London Journal of Saturday, July 27; I think myself indispensably obliged to vindicate the above said book against the black aspersions that undeservedly have been cast upon it, being conscious that I have not had the least ill design in composing it. The accusations [251]against it having been made openly in the public papers, it is not equitable the defence of it should appear in a more private manner. What I have to say in my behalf, I shall address to all men of sense and sincerity, asking no other favour of them, than their patience and attention. Setting aside what in that Letter relates to others, and every thing that is foreign and immaterial, I shall begin with the passage that is quoted from the book, viz. “After this, I flatter myself to have demonstrated, that neither the friendly qualities and kind affections that are natural to man, nor the real virtues he is capable of acquiring by reason and self-denial, are the foundation of society; but that what we call evil in this world, moral as well as natural, is the grand principle that makes us sociable creatures; the solid basis, the life and support of all trades and employments without exception: That there we must look for the true origin of all arts and sciences; and that the moment evil ceases, the society must be spoiled, if not totally dissolved.” These words, I own, are in the book, and, being both innocent and true, like to remain there in all future impressions. But I will likewise own very freely, that, if I had wrote with a design to be understood by the meanest capacities, I would not have chose the subject there treated of; or if I had, I would have amplified and explained every period, talked and distinguished magisterially, and never appeared without the fescue in my hand. As for example; to make the passage pointed at intelligible, I would have bestowed a page or two on the meaning of the word Evil; after that I would have taught them, that every defect, every want, was an evil; that on the multiplicity of those wants depended all those mutual services which the individual members of a society pay to each other; and that consequently, the greater variety there was of wants, the larger number of individuals might find their private interest in labouring for the good of others, and, united together, compose one body. Is there a trade or handicraft but what supplies us with something we wanted? This want certainly, before it was supplied, was an evil, which that trade or handicraft was to remedy, and without which it could never have been thought of. Is there an art or science that was not invented to mend some defect! Had this latter not existed, there could have been no occasion for the former to move it. I say, p. 236. “The excellency of human thought [252]and contrivance has been, and is yet nowhere more conspicuous, than in the variety of tools and instruments of workmen and artificers, and the multiplicity of engines, that were all invented, either to assist the weakness of man, to correct his many imperfections, to gratify his laziness, or obviate his impatience.” Several foregoing pages run in the same strain. But what relation has all this to religion or infidelity, more than it has to navigation or the peace in the north?

The many hands that are employed to supply our natural wants, that are really such, as hunger, thirst, and nakedness, are inconsiderable to the vast numbers that are all innocently gratifying the depravity of our corrupt nature, I mean the industrious, who get a livelihood by their honest labour, to which the vain and voluptuous must be beholden for all their tools and implements of ease and luxury. “The short-sighted vulgar, in the chain of causes, seldom can see farther than one link; but those who can enlarge their view, and will give themselves leisure of gazing on the prospect of concatenated events, may, in a hundred places, see good spring up, and pullulate from evil, as naturally as chickens do from eggs.”

The words are to be found p. 46. in the Remark made on the seeming paradox; that in the grumbling hive,

The worst of all the multitude

Did something for the common good.

Where, in many instances, may be amply discovered, how unsearchable Providence daily orders the comforts of the laborious, and even the deliverances of the oppressed, secretly to come forth, not only from the vices of the luxurious, but likewise the crimes of the flagitious and most abandoned.

Men of candour and capacity perceive, at first sight, that in the passage censured, there is no meaning hid or expressed that is not altogether contained in the following words: “Man is a necessitous creature on innumerable accounts, and yet from those very necessities, and nothing else, arise all trades and employments.” But it is ridiculous for men to meddle with books above their sphere.

The Fable of the Bees was designed for the entertainment of people of knowledge and education, when they have an idle hour which they know not how to spend better: it is a book of severe and exalted morality, that contains a strict [253]test of virtue, an infallible touchstone to distinguish the real from the counterfeited, and shows many actions to be faulty that are palmed upon the world for good ones: it describes the nature and symptoms of human passions, detects their force and disguises; and traces self-love in its darkest recesses; I might safely add, beyond any other system of ethics: the whole is a rhapsody void of order or method, but no part of it has any thing in it that is sour or pedantic; the style, I confess, is very unequal, sometimes very high and rhetorical, and sometimes very low, and even very trivial; such as it is, I am satisfied that it has diverted persons of great probity and virtue, and unquestionable good sense; and I am in no fear that it will ever cease to do so while it is read by such. Whoever has seen the violent charge against this book, will pardon me for saying more in commendation of it, than a man, not labouring under the same necessity, would do of his own work on any other occasion.

The encomiums upon stews complained of in the presentment are no where in the book. What might give a handle to this charge, must be a political dissertation concerning the best method to guard and preserve women of honour and virtue from the insults of dissolute men, whose passions are often ungovernable: As in this there is a dilemma between two evils, which it is impracticable to shun both, so I have treated it with the utmost caution, and begin thus: “I am far from encouraging vice, and should think it an unspeakable felicity for a state, if the sin of uncleanness could be utterly banished from it; but I am afraid it is impossible.” I give my reasons why I think it so; and, speaking occasionally of the music-houses at Amsterdam, I give a short account of them, than which nothing can be more harmless; and I appeal to all impartial judges, whether, what I have said of them is not ten times more proper to give men (even the voluptuous of any state) a disgust and aversion against them, than it is to raise any criminal desire. I am sorry the Grand Jury should conceive that I published this with a design to debauch the nation, without considering, that, in the first place, there is not a sentence nor a syllable that can either offend the chastest ear, or sully the imagination of the most vicious; or, in the second, that the matter complained of is manifestly addressed to magistrates and politicians, or, at least, the more serious and thinking part of mankind; whereas a general corruption of manners as to lewdness, to be produced [254]by reading, can only be apprehended from obscenities easily purchased, and every way adapted to the tastes and capacities of the heedless multitude and unexperienced youth of both sexes: but that the performance, so outrageously exclaimed against, was never calculated for either of these classes of people, is self-evident from every circumstance. The beginning of the prose is altogether philosophical, and hardly intelligible to any that have not been used to matters of speculation; and the running title of it is so far from being specious or inviting, that without having read the book itself, nobody knows what to make of it, while, at the same time, the price is five shillings. From all which it is plain, that if the book contains any dangerous tenets, I have not been very solicitous to scatter them among the people. I have not said a word to please or engage them, and the greatest compliment I have made them has been, Apage vulgus. But as nothing (I say, p. 138) would more clearly demonstrate the falsity of my notions than that, the generality of the people should fall in with them, so I do not expect the approbation of the multitude. I write not to many, nor seek for any well-wishers, but among the few that can think abstractly, and have their minds elevated above the vulgar.” Of this I have made no ill use, and ever preserved such a tender regard to the public, that when I have advanced any uncommon sentiments, I have used all the precautions imaginable, that they might not be hurtful to weak minds that might casually dip into the book. When (p. 137.) I owned, “That it was my sentiment that no society could be raised into a rich and mighty kingdom, or so raised subsist in their wealth and power for any considerable time, without the vices of man,” I had premised, what was true, “That I had never said or imagined, that man could not be virtuous as well in a rich and mighty kingdom, as in the most pitiful commonwealth:” which caution, a man less scrupulous than myself might have thought superfluous, when he had already explained himself on that head in the very same paragraph which begins thus: “I lay down, as a first principle, that in all societies, great or small, it is the duty of every member of it to be good; that virtue ought to be encouraged, vice discountenanced, the laws obeyed, and the transgressors punished.” There is not a line in the book that contradicts this doctrine, and I defy my enemies to disprove what I have advanced, p. 139, “That if I have [255]shown the way to worldly greatness, I have always, without hesitation, preferred the road that leads to virtue.” No man ever took more pains not to be misconstrued than myself: mind p. 138, when I say, “That societies cannot be raised to wealth and power, and the top of earthly glory, without vices; I do not think, that by so saying, I bid men be vicious, any more than I bid them be quarrelsome or covetous, when I affirm, that the profession of the law could not be maintained in such numbers and splendour, if there was not abundance of too selfish and litigious people.” A caution of the same nature I had already given towards the end of the Preface, on account of a palpable evil inseparable from the felicity of London. To search into the real causes of things, imports no ill design, nor has any tendency to do harm. A man may write on poisons, and be an excellent physician. Page 235, I say, “No man needs to guard himself against blessings, but calamities require hands to avert them.” And lower, “It is the extremities of heat and cold, the inconstancy and badness of seasons, the violence and uncertainty of winds, the vast power and treachery of water, the rage and untractableness of fire, and the stubbornness and sterility of the earth, that rack our invention, how we shall either avoid the mischiefs they produce, or correct the malignity of them, and turn their several forces to our own advantage a thousand different ways.” While a man is inquiring into the occupation of vast multitudes, I cannot see why he may not say all this and much more, without being accused of depreciating and speaking slightly of the gifts and munificence of heaven; when, at the same time, he demonstrates, that without rain and sunshine this globe would not be habitable to creatures like ourselves. It is an out-of-the-way subject, and I would never quarrel with the man who should tell me that it might as well have been let alone: yet I always thought it would please men of any tolerable taste, and not be easily lost.

My vanity I could never conquer, so well as I could wish; and I am too proud to commit crimes, and as to the main scope, the intent of the book, I mean the view it was wrote with, I protest that it has been with the utmost sincerity, what I have declared of it in the Preface, where you will find these words: “If you ask me, why I have done all this, cui bono? And what good these notions will produce? Truly, besides the reader’s diversion, I believe none at all; but if I was asked, what naturally [256]ought to be expected from them? I would answer, That, in the first place, the people who continually find fault with others, by reading them would be taught to look at home, and examining their own consciences, be made ashamed of always railing at what they are more or less guilty of themselves; and that, in the next, those who are so fond of the ease and comforts of a great and flourishing nation, would learn more patiently to submit to those inconveniences, which no government upon earth can remedy, when they should see the impossibility of enjoying any great share of the first, without partaking likewise of the latter.”

The first impression of the Fable of the Bees, which came out in 1714, was never carped at, or publicly taken notice of; and all the reason I can think on, why this second edition should be so unmercifully treated, though it has many precautions which the former wanted, is an Essay on Charity and Charity Schools, which is added to what was printed before. I confess, that it is my sentiment, that all hard and dirty work, ought, in a well-governed nation, to be the lot and portion of the poor, and that to divert their children from useful labour till they are fourteen or fifteen years old, is a wrong method to qualify them for it when are they grown up. I have given several reasons for my opinion in that Essay, to which I refer all impartial men of understanding, assuring them that they will not meet with such monstrous impiety in it as reported. What an advocate I have been for libertinism and immorality, and what an enemy to all instructions of youth in the Christian faith, may be collected from the pains I have taken on education for above seven pages together: and afterwards again, page 193, where speaking of the instructions the children of the poor might receive at church; from which, I say, “Or some other place of worship, I would not have the meanest of a parish that is able to walk to it, be absent on Sundays,” I have these words: “It is the Sabbath, the most useful day in seven, that is set apart for divine service and religious exercise, as well as resting from bodily labour; and it is a duty incumbent on all magistrates, to take a particular care of that day. The poor more especially, and their children, should be made to go to church on it, both in the fore and the afternoon, because they have no time on any other. By precept and example, they ought to be encouraged to [257]it from their very infancy: the wilful neglect of it ought to be counted scandalous; and if downright compulsion to what I urge might seem too harsh, and perhaps impracticable, all diversions at least ought strictly to be prohibited, and the poor hindered from every amusement abroad, that might allure or draw them from it.” If the arguments I have made use of are not convincing, I desire they may be refuted, and I will acknowledge it as a favour in any one that shall convince me of my error, without ill language, by showing me wherein I have been mistaken: but calumny, it seems, is the shortest way of confuting an adversary, when men are touched in a sensible part. Vast sums are gathered for these charity schools, and I understand human nature too well to imagine, that the sharers of the money should hear them spoke against with any patience. I foresaw, therefore, the usage I was to receive, and having repeated the common cant that is made for charity schools, I told my readers, page 165. “This is the general cry, and he that speaks the least word against it, is an uncharitable, hard-hearted, and inhuman, if not a wicked, profane and atheistical wretch.” For this reason, it cannot be thought, that it was a great surprise to me, when in that extraordinary letter to Lord C. I saw myself called “profligate author; the publication of my tenets, an open and avowed proposal to extirpate the Christian faith and all virtue, and what I had done so stunning, so shocking, so frightful, so flagrant an enormity, that it cried for the vengeance of Heaven.” This is no more than what I have already expected from the enemies to truth and fair dealing, and I shall retort nothing on the angry author of that letter, who endeavours to expose me to the public fury. I pity him, and have charity enough to believe that he has been imposed upon himself, by trusting to fame and the hearsay of others; for no man in his wits can imagine that he should have read one quarter part of my book, and write as he does.

I am sorry if the words Private Vices, Public Benefits, have ever given any offence to a well-meaning man. The mystery of them is soon unfolded, when once they are rightly understood; but no man of sincerity will question the innocence of them, that has read the last paragraph, where I take my leave of the reader, “and conclude with repeating the seeming paradox, the substance of which is advanced in the title page; that private vices, by the dexterous management [258]of a skilful politician, may be turned into public benefits.” These are the last words of the book, printed in the same large character with the rest. But I set aside all what I have said in my vindication; and if, in the whole book called the Fable of the Bees, and presented by the grand jury of Middlesex to the judges of the King’s Bench, there is to be found the least title of blasphemy or profaneness, or any thing tending to immorality or the corruption of manners, I desire it may be published; and if this be done without invective, personal reflections, or setting the mob upon me, things I never design to answer, I will not only recant, but likewise beg pardon of the offended public in the most solemn manner: and (if the hangman might be thought too good for the office) burn the book myself, at any reasonable time and place my adversaries shall be pleased to appoint.

The Author of the Fable of the Bees.


1 Quis est tam vecors qui non intelligat, numine hoc tantum imperium esse natum, actum, et retentum? Cic. Orat. de Harush. Resp. 



Opinionum enim Commenta delet dies; Naturæ judicia confirmat.

Cicero de Nat. Deor. Lib. 2.




Considering the manifold clamours, that have been raised from several quarters, against the Fable of the Bees, even after I had published the vindication of it, many of my readers will wonder to see me come out with a second part, before I have taken any further notice of what has been said against the first. Whatever is published, I take it for granted, is submitted to the judgment of all the world that see it; but it is very unreasonable, that authors should not be upon the same footing with their critics. The treatment I have received, and the liberties some gentlemen have taken with me, being well known, the public must be convinced before now, that, in point of civility, I owe my adversaries nothing: and if those, who have taken upon them to school and reprimand me, had an undoubted right to censure what they thought fit, without asking my leave, and to say of me what they pleased, I ought to have an equal privilege to examine their censures, and, without consulting them, to judge in my turn, whether they are worth answering or not. The public must be the umpire between us. From the Appendix that has been added to the first part, ever since the third edition, it is manifest, that I have been far from endeavouring to stifle, either the arguments or the invectives that were made against me; and, not to have left the reader uninformed of any thing extant of either sort, I once thought to have taken this opportunity of presenting him with a list of the adversaries that have appeared in print against me: but as they are in nothing so considerable as they are in their numbers, I was afraid it would have looked like ostentation, unless I would have answered them all, which I shall never attempt. The reason, therefore, of my obstinate silence has been all along, that hitherto I have not been accused of any thing that is criminal or immoral, for which every middling capacity could not have framed a very good answer, from some part or other, either of the vindication or the book itself.

However, I have wrote, and had by me near two years, a defence of the Fable of the Bees, in which I have stated and endeavoured to solve all the objections that might reasonably [262]be made against it, as to the doctrine contained in it, and the detriment it might be of to others: for this is the only thing about which I ever had any concern. Being conscious, that I have wrote with no ill design, I should be sorry to lie under the imputation of it: but as to the goodness or badness of the performance itself, the thought was never worth my care; and therefore those critics, that found fault with my bad reasoning, and said of the book, that it is ill wrote, that there is nothing new in it, that it is incoherent stuff, that the language is barbarous, the humour low, and the style mean and pitiful; those critics, I say, are all very welcome to say what they please: In the main, I believe they are in the right; but if they are not, I shall never give myself the trouble to contradict them; for I never think an author more foolishly employed, than when he is vindicating his own abilities. As I wrote it for my diversion, so I had my ends; if those who read it have not had theirs, I am sorry for it, though I think myself not at all answerable for the disappointment. It was not wrote by subscription, nor have I ever warranted, any where, what use or goodness it would be of: on the contrary, in the very preface, I have called it an inconsiderable trifle; and since that, I have publicly owned that it was a rhapsody. If people will buy books without looking into them, or knowing what they are, I cannot see whom they have to blame but themselves, when they do not answer expectations. Besides, it is no new thing for people to dislike books after they have bought them: this will happen sometimes, even when men of considerable figure had given them the strongest assurances, before hand, that they would be pleased with them.

A considerable part of the defence I mentioned, has been seen by several of my friends, who have been in expectation of it for some time. I have stayed neither for types nor paper, and yet I have several reasons, why I do not yet publish it; which, having touched nobody’s money, nor made any promise concerning it, I beg leave to keep to myself. Most of my adversaries, whenever it comes out, will think it soon enough; and nobody suffers by the delay but myself.

Since I was first attacked, it has long been a matter of wonder and perplexity to me to find out, why and how men should conceive, that I had wrote with an intent to debauch the nation, and promote all manner of vice: and it was a great while before I could derive the charge from any thing, [263]but wilful mistake and premeditated malice. But since I have seen, that men could be serious in apprehending the increase of rogues and robberies, from the frequent representations of the Beggar’s Opera, I am persuaded, that there really are such wrongheads in the world, as will fancy vices to be encouraged, when they see them exposed. To the same perverseness of judgment it must have been owing, that some of my adversaries were highly incensed with me, for having owned, in the Vindication, that hitherto I had not been able to conquer my vanity, as well as I could have wished. From their censure it is manifest, that they must have imagined, that to complain of a frailty, was the same as to brag of it. But if these angry gentlemen had been less blinded with passion, or seen with better eyes, they would easily have perceived, unless they were too well pleased with their pride, that to have made the same confession themselves, they wanted nothing but sincerity. Whoever boasts of his vanity, and at the same time shows his arrogance, is unpardonable. But when we hear a man complain of an infirmity, and his want of power entirely to cure it, whilst he suffers no symptoms of it to appear, that we could justly upbraid him with, we are so far from being offended, that we are pleased with the ingenuity, and applaud his candour; and when such an author takes no greater liberties with his readers, than what is usual in the same manner of writing, and owns that to be the result of vanity, which others tell a thousand lies about, his confession is a compliment, and the frankness of it ought not to be looked upon otherwise, than as a civility to the public, a condescension he was not obliged to make. It is not in feeling the passions, or in being affected with the frailties of nature, that vice consists; but in indulging and obeying the call of them, contrary to the dictates of reason. Whoever pays great deference to his readers, respectfully submitting himself to their judgment, and tells them at the same time, that he is entirely destitute of pride; whoever, I say, does this, spoils his compliment whilst he is making of it: for it is no better than bragging, that it costs him nothing. Persons of taste, and the least delicacy, can be but little affected with a man’s modesty, of whom they are sure, that he is wholly void of pride within: the absence of the one makes the virtue of the other cease; at least the merit of it is not greater than that of chastity in an eunuch, or humility in a beggar. What glory would it be [264]to the memory of Cato, that he refused to touch the water that was brought him, if it was not supposed that he was very thirsty when he did it?

The reader will find, that in this second part I have endeavoured to illustrate and explain several things, that were obscure and only hinted at in the first.

Whilst I was forming this design, I found, on the one hand, that, as to myself, the easiest way of executing it, would be by dialogue; but I knew, on the other, that to discuss opinions, and manage controversies, it is counted the most unfair manner of writing. When partial men have a mind to demolish an adversary, and triumph over him with little expence, it has long been a frequent practice to attack him with dialogues, in which the champion, who is to lose the battle, appears at the very beginning of the engagement, to be the victim that is to be sacrificed, and seldom makes a better figure than cocks on Shrove-Tuesday, that receive blows, but return none, and are visibly set up on purpose to be knocked down. That this is to be said against dialogues, is certainly true; but it is as true, that there is no other manner of writing, by which greater reputation has been obtained. Those, who have most excelled all others in it, were the two most famous authors of all antiquity, Plato and Cicero: the one wrote almost all his philosophical works in dialogues, and the other has left us nothing else. It is evident, then, that the fault of those, who have not succeeded in dialogues; was in the management, and not in the manner of writing; and that nothing but the ill use that has been made of it, could ever have brought it into disrepute. The reason why Plato preferred dialogues to any other manner of writing, he said, was, that things thereby might look, as if they were acted, rather than told: the same was afterwards given by Cicero in the same words, rendered into his own language. The greatest objection that in reality lies against it, is the difficulty there is in writing them well. The chief of Plato’s interlocutors was always his master Socrates, who every where maintains his character with great dignity; but it would have been impossible to have made such an extraordinary person speak like himself on so many emergencies, if Plato had not been as great a man as Socrates.

Cicero, who studied nothing more than to imitate Plato, introduced in his dialogues some of the greatest men in Rome, his contemporaries, that were known to be of different [265]opinions, and made them maintain and defend every one his own sentiments, as strenuously, and in as lively a manner, as they could possibly have done themselves; and in reading his dialogues a man may easily imagine himself to be in company with several learned men of different tastes and studies. But to do this, a man must have Cicero’s capacity. Lucian likewise, and several others among the ancients, chose for their speakers, persons of known characters. That this interests and engages the reader more than strange names, is undeniable; but then, when the personages fall short of those characters, it plainly shows, that the author undertook what he was not able to execute. To avoid this inconveniency, most dialogue-writers among the moderns, have made use of fictitious names, which they either invented themselves or borrowed of others. These are, generally speaking, judicious compounds, taken from the Greek, that serve for short characters of the imaginary persons they are given to, denoting either the party they side with, or what it is they love or hate. But of all these happy compounds, there is not one that has appeared equally charming to so many authors of different views and talents, as Philalethes; a plain demonstration of the great regard mankind generally have to truth. There has not been a paper-war of note, these two hundred years, in which both parties, at one time or other, have not made use of this victorious champion; who, which side soever he has fought on, has hitherto, like Dryden’s Almanzor, been conqueror, and constantly carried all before him. But, as by this means the event of the battle must always be known, as soon as the combatants are named, and before a blow is struck; and as all men are not equally peaceable in their dispositions, many readers have complained, that they had not sport enough for their money, and that knowing so much before hand, spoiled all their diversion. This humour having prevailed for some time, authors are grown less solicitous about the names of the personages they introduce. This careless way, seeming to me at least as reasonable as any other, I have followed; and had no other meaning by the names I have given my interlocutors, than to distinguish them, without the least regard to the derivation of words, or any thing relating to the etymology of them: all the care I have taken about them, that I know of, is, that the pronunciation of them should not be harsh, nor the sounds offensive. [266]

But though the names I have chosen are feigned, and the circumstances of the persons fictitious, the characters themselves are real, and as faithfully copied from nature as I have been able to take them. I have known critics find fault with play-wrights for annexing short characters to the names they gave the persons of the drama; alleging, that it is forestalling their pleasure, and that whatever the actors are represented to be, they want no monitor, and are wise enough to find it out themselves. But I could never approve of this censure: there is a satisfaction, I think, in knowing one’s company; and when I am to converse with people for a considerable time, I desire to be well acquainted with them, and the sooner the better. It is for this reason, I thought it proper to give the reader some account of the persons that are to entertain him. As they are supposed to be people of quality, I beg leave, before I come to particulars, to premise some things concerning the beau monde in general; which, though most people perhaps know them every body does not always attend to. Among the fashionable part of mankind throughout Christendom, there are, in all countries, persons, who, though they feel a just abhorrence to atheism and professed infidelity, yet have very little religion, and are scarce half-believers, when their lives come to be looked into, and their sentiments examined. What is chiefly aimed at in a refined education, is to procure as much ease and pleasure upon earth, as that can afford: therefore men are first instructed in all the various arts of rendering their behaviour agreeable to others, with the least disturbance to themselves. Secondly, they are imbued with the knowledge of all the elegant comforts of life, as well as the lessons of human prudence, to avoid pain and trouble, in order to enjoy as much of the world, and with as little opposition, as it is possible. Whilst thus men study their own private interest, in assisting each other to promote and increase the pleasures of life in general, they find by experience, that to compass those ends, every thing ought to be banished from conversation, that can have the least tendency of making others uneasy; and to reproach men with their faults or imperfections, neglects or omissions, or to put them in mind of their duty, are offices that none are allowed to take upon them, but parents or professed masters and tutors; nor even they before company: but to reprove and pretend to teach others, we have no authority over, is ill manners, even in a clergyman out of the [267]pulpit; nor is he there to talk magisterially, or ever to mention things, that are melancholy or dismal, if he should pass for a polite preacher: but whatever we may vouchsafe to hear at church, neither the certainty of a future state, nor the necessity of repentance, nor any thing else relating to the essentials of Christianity, are ever to be talked of when we are out of it, among the beau monde, upon any account whatever. The subject is not diverting: besides, every body is supposed to know those things, and to take care accordingly; nay, it is unmannerly to think otherwise. The decency in fashion being the chief, if not the only, rule, all modish people walk by, not a few of them go to church, and receive the sacrament, from the same principle that obliges them to pay visits to one another, and now and then to make an entertainment. But as the greatest care of the beau monde is to be agreeable, and appear well-bred, so most of them take particular care, and many against their consciences, not to seem burdened with more religion than it is fashionable to have, for fear of being thought to be either hypocrites or bigots.

Virtue, however, is a very fashionable word, and some of the most luxurious are extremely fond of the amiable sound; though they mean nothing by it, but a great veneration for whatever is courtly or sublime, and an equal aversion to every thing that is vulgar or unbecoming. They seem to imagine, that it chiefly consists in a strict compliance to the rules of politeness, and all the laws of honour, that have any regard to the respect that is due to themselves. It is the existence of this virtue, that is often maintained with so much pomp of words, and for the eternity of which so many champions are ready to take up arms: whilst the votaries of it deny themselves no pleasure, they can enjoy, either fashionably or in secret, and, instead of sacrificing the heart to the love of real virtue, can only condescend to abandon the outward deformity of vice, for the satisfaction they receive from appearing to be well-bred. It is counted ridiculous for men to commit violence upon themselves, or to maintain, that virtue requires self-denial: all court philosophers are agreed, that nothing can be lovely or desirable, that is mortifying or uneasy. A civil behaviour among the fair in public, and a deportment inoffensive both in words and actions, is all the chastity the polite world requires in men. What liberties soever a man gives himself in private, his reputation shall never [268]suffer, whilst he conceals his amours from all those that are not unmannerly inquisitive, and takes care that nothing criminal can ever be proved upon him. Si non caste, saltem caute, is a precept that sufficiently shows what every body expects; and though incontinence is owned to be a sin, yet never to have been guilty of it is a character which most single men under thirty would not be fond of, even amongst modest women.

As the world everywhere, in compliment itself, desires to be counted really virtuous, so bare-faced vices, and all trespasses committed in sight of it, are heinous and unpardonable. To see a man drunk in the open street, or any serious assembly at noon-day, is shocking; because it is a violation of the laws of decency, and plainly shows a want of respect, and neglect of duty, which every body is supposed to owe to the public. Men of mean circumstances likewise may be blamed for spending more time or money in drinking, than they can afford; but when these and all worldly considerations are out of the question, drunkenness itself, as it is a sin, an offence to Heaven, is seldom censured; and no man of fortune scruples to own, that he was at such a time in such a company, where they drank very hard. Where nothing is committed, that is either beastly, or otherwise extravagant, societies, that meet on purpose to drink and be merry, reckon their manner of passing away the time as innocent as any other, though most days in the year they spend five or six hours of the four and twenty in that diversion. No man had ever the reputation of being a good companion, that would never drink to excess; and if a man’s constitution be so strong, or himself so cautious, that the dose he takes overnight, never disorders him the next day, the worst that shall be said of him, is, that he loves his bottle with moderation: though every night constantly he makes drinking his pastime, and hardly ever goes to bed entirely sober.

Avarice, it is true, is generally detested; but as men may be as guilty of it by scraping money together, as they can be by hoarding it up, so all the base, the sordid, and unreasonable means of acquiring wealth, ought to be equally condemned and exploded, with the vile, the pitiful, and penurious way of saving it: but the world is more indulgent; no man is taxed with avarice, that will conform with the beau monde, and live every way in splendour, though he should always be raising the rents of his estate, and hardly suffer his [269]tenants to live under him; though he should enrich himself by usury, and all the barbarous advantages that extortion can make of the necessities of others: and though, moreover, he should be a bad paymaster himself, and an unmerciful creditor to the unfortunate; it is all one, no man is counted covetous, who entertains well, and will allow his family what is fashionable for a person in his condition. How often do we see men of very large estates unreasonably solicitous after greater riches! What greediness do some men discover in extending the perquisites of their offices! What dishonourable condescensions are made for places of profit! What slavish attendance is given, and what low submissions and unmanly cringes are made to favourites for pensions, by men that could subsist without them! Yet these things are no reproach to men, and they are never upbraided with them but by their enemies, or those that envy them, and perhaps the discontented and the poor. On the contrary, most of the well-bred people, that live in affluence themselves, will commend them for their diligence and activity; and say of them, that they take care of the main chance; that they are industrious men for their families, and that they know how, and are fit, to live in the world.

But these kind constructions are not more hurtful to the practice of Christianity, than the high opinion which, in an artful education, men are taught to have of their species, is to the belief of its doctrine, if a right use be not made of it. That the great pre-eminence we have over all other creatures we are acquainted with, consists in our rational faculty, is very true; but it is as true, that the more we are taught to admire ourselves, the more our pride increases, and the greater stress we lay on the sufficiency of our reason: For as experience teaches us, that the greater and the more transcendent the esteem is, which men have for their own worth, the less capable they generally are to bear injuries without resentment; so we see, in like manner, that the more exalted the notions are which men entertain of their better part, their reasoning faculty, the more remote and averse they will be from giving their assent to any thing that seems to insult over or contradict it: And asking a man to admit of any thing he cannot comprehend, the proud reasoner calls an affront to human understanding. But as ease and pleasure are the grand aim of the beau monde, and civility is inseparable from their behaviour, whether they are [270]believers or not, so well-bred people never quarrel with the religion they are brought up in: They will readily comply with every ceremony in divine worship they have been used to, and never dispute with you either about the Old or the New Testament, if, in your turn, you will forbear laying great stress upon faith and mysteries, and allow them to give an allegorical, or any other figurative sense to the History of the Creation, and whatever else they cannot comprehend or account for by the light of nature.

I am far from believing, that, among the fashionable people, there are not, in all Christian countries, many persons of stricter virtue, and greater sincerity in religion, than I have here described; but that a considerable part of mankind have a great resemblance to the picture I have been drawing, I appeal to every knowing and candid reader. Horatio, Cleomenes, and Fulvia, are the names I have given to my interlocutors: The first represents one of the modish people I have been speaking of, but rather of the better sort of them as to morality, though he seems to have a greater distrust of the sincerity of clergymen, than he has of that of any other profession, and to be of the opinion, which is expressed in that trite and specious, as well as false and injurious saying, priests of all religions are the same. As to his studies, he is supposed to be tolerably well versed in the classics, and to have read more than is usual for people of quality, that are born to great estates. He is a man of strict honour, and of justice as well as humanity; rather profuse than covetous, and altogether disinterested in his principles. He has been abroad, seen the world, and is supposed to be possessed of the greatest part of the accomplishments that usually gain a man the reputation of being very much of a gentleman.

Cleomenes had been just such another, but was much reformed. As he had formerly, for his amusement only, been dipping into anatomy, and several parts of natural philosophy; so, since he was come home from his travels, he had studied human nature, and the knowledge of himself, with great application. It is supposed, that, whilst he was thus employing most of his leisure hours, he met with the Fable of the Bees; and, making a great use of what he read, compared what he felt himself within, as well as what he had seen in the world, with the sentiments set forth in that book, and found the insincerity of men fully as universal, as it was there represented. He had no opinion of the pleas and excuses [271]that are commonly made to cover the real desires of the heart; and he ever suspected the sincerity of men, whom he saw to be fond of the world, and with eagerness grasping at wealth and power, when they pretended that the great end of their labours was to have opportunities of doing good to others upon earth, and becoming themselves more thankful to Heaven; especially, if they conformed with the beau monde, and seemed to take delight in a fashionable way of living: He had the same suspicion of all men of sense, who, having read and considered the gospel, would maintain the possibility that persons might pursue worldly glory with all their strength, and, at the same time, be good Christians. Cleomenes himself believed the Bible to be the word of God, without reserve, and was entirely convinced of the mysterious, as well as historical truths that are contained in it. But as he was fully persuaded, not only of the veracity of the Christian religion, but likewise of the severity of its precepts, so he attacked his passions with vigour, but never scrupled to own his want of power to subdue them, or the violent opposition he felt from within; often complaining, that the obstacles he met with from flesh and blood, were insurmountable. As he understood perfectly well the difficulty of the task required in the gospel, so he ever opposed those easy casuists, that endeavoured to lessen and extenuate it for their own ends; and he loudly maintained, that men’s gratitude to Heaven was an unacceptable offering, whilst they continued to live in ease and luxury, and were visibly solicitous after their share of the pomp and vanity of this world. In the very politeness of conversation, the complacency with which fashionable people are continually soothing each other’s frailties, and in almost every part of a gentleman’s behaviour, he thought there was a disagreement between the outward appearances, and what is felt within, that was clashing with uprightness and sincerity. Cleomenes was of opinion, that of all religious virtues, nothing was more scarce, or more difficult to acquire, than Christian humility; and that to destroy the possibility of ever attaining to it, nothing was so effectual as what is called a gentleman’s education; and that the more dexterous, by this means, men grew in concealing the outward signs, and every symptom of pride, the more entirely they became enslaved by it within. He carefully examined into the felicity that accrues from the applause of others, and the invisible wages which men of [272]sense and judicious fancy received for their labours; and what it was at the bottom that rendered those airy rewards so ravishing to mortals. He had often observed, and watched narrowly the countenances and behaviour of men, when any thing of theirs was admired or commended, such as the choice of their furniture, the politeness of their entertainments, the elegancy of their equipages, their dress, their diversions, or the fine taste displayed in their buildings.

Cleomenes seemed charitable, and was a man of strict morals, yet he would often complain that he was not possessed of one Christian virtue, and found fault with his own actions, that had all the appearances of goodness; because he was conscious, he said, that they were performed from a wrong principle. The effects of his education, and his aversion to infamy, had always been strong enough to keep him from turpitude; but this he ascribed to his vanity, which he complained was in such full possession of his heart, that he knew no gratification of any appetite from which he was able to exclude it. Having always been a man of unblameable behaviour, the sincerity of his belief had made no visible alteration in his conduct to outward appearances; but in private he never ceased from examining himself. As no man was less prone to enthusiasm than himself, so his life was very uniform; and as he never pretended to high flights of devotion, so he never was guilty of enormous offences. He had a strong aversion to rigorists of all sorts; and when he saw men quarrelling about forms and creeds, and the interpretation of obscure places, and requiring of others the strictest compliance to their own opinions in disputable matters, it raised his indignation to see the generality of them want charity, and many of them scandalously remiss in the plainest and most necessary duties. He took uncommon pains to search into human nature, and left no stone unturned, to detect the pride and hypocrisy of it, and, among his intimate friends, to expose the stratagems of the one, and the exorbitant power of the other. He was sure, that the satisfaction which arose from worldly enjoyments, was something distinct from gratitude, and foreign to religion; and he felt plainly, that as it proceeded from within, so it centered in himself: The very relish of life, he said, was accompanied with an elevation of mind, that seemed to be inseparable from his being. Whatever principle was the cause of this, he was convinced within himself, that the sacrifice of the [273]heart, which the gospel requires, consisted in the utter extirpation of that principle; confessing, at the same time, that this satisfaction he found in himself, this elevation of mind, caused his chief pleasure; and that, in all the comforts of life, it made the greatest part of the enjoyment.

Cleomenes, with grief, often owned his fears, that his attachment to the world would never cease whilst he lived; the reasons he gave, were the great regard he continued to have for the opinion of worldly men; the stubbornness of his indocile heart, that could not be brought to change the objects of its pride; and refused to be ashamed of what, from his infancy, it had been taught to glory in; and, lastly, the impossibility, he found in himself, of being ever reconciled to contempt, and enduring, with patience, to be laughed at and despised for any cause, or on any consideration whatever. These were the obstacles, he said, that hindered him from breaking off all commerce with the beau monde, and entirely changing his manner of living; without which, he thought it mockery to talk of renouncing the world, and bidding adieu to all the pomp and vanity of it.

The part of Fulvia, which is the third person, is so inconsiderable, she just appearing only in the first dialogue, that it would be impertinent to trouble the reader with a character of her. I had a mind to say some things on painting and operas, which I thought might, by introducing her, be brought in more naturally, and with less trouble, than they could have been without her. The ladies, I hope, will find no reason, from the little she does say, to suspect that she wants either virtue or understanding.

As to the fable, or what is supposed to have occasioned the first dialogue between Horatio and Cleomenes, it is this. Horatio, who had found great delight in my Lord Shaftsbury’s polite manner of writing, his fine raillery, and blending virtue with good manners, was a great stickler for the social system; and wondered how Cleomenes could be an advocate for such a book as the Fable of the Bees, of which he had heard a very vile character from several quarters. Cleomenes, who loved and had a great friendship for Horatio, wanted to undeceive him; but the other, who hated satire, was prepossessed, and having been told likewise, that martial courage, and honour itself, were ridiculed in that book, he was very much exasperated against the author and his whole scheme: he had two or three times heard Cleomenes discourse [274]on this subject with others; but would never enter into the argument himself; and finding his friend often pressing to come to it, he began to look cooly upon him, and at last to avoid all opportunities of being alone with him: till Cleomenes drew him in, by the stratagem which the reader will see he made use of, as Horatio was one day taking his leave after a short complimentary visit.

I should not wonder to see men of candour, as well as good sense, find fault with the manner, in which I have chose to publish these thoughts of mine to the world: There certainly is something in it, which I confess I do not know how to justify to my own satisfaction. That such a man as Cleomenes, having met with a book agreeable to his own sentiments, should desire to be acquainted with the author of it, has nothing in it that is improbable or unseemly; but then it will be objected, that, whoever the interlocutors are, it was I myself who wrote the dialogues; and that it is contrary to all decency, that a man should proclaim concerning his own work, all that a friend of his, perhaps, might be allowed to say: this is true; and the best answer which I think can be made to it, is, that such an impartial man, and such a lover of truth, as Cleomenes is represented to be, would be as cautious in speaking of his friend’s merit, as he would be of his own. It might be urged likewise, that when a man professes himself to be an author’s friend, and exactly to entertain the same sentiments with another, it must naturally put every reader upon his guard, and render him as suspicious and distrustful of such a man, as he would be of the author himself. But how good soever the excuses are, that might be made for this manner of writing, I would never have ventured upon it, if I had not liked it in the famous Gassendus, who, by the help of several dialogues and a friend, who is the chief personage in them, has not only explained and illustrated his system, but likewise refuted his adversaries: him I have followed, and I hope the reader will find, that whatever opportunity I have had by this means, of speaking well of myself indirectly, I had no design to make that, or any other ill use of it.

As it is supposed, that Cleomenes is my friend, and speaks my sentiments, so it is but justice, that every thing which he advances should be looked upon and considered as my own; but no man in his senses would think, that I ought to be equally responsible for every thing that Horatio says, who is [275]his antagonist. If ever he offers any thing that favours of libertinism, or is otherwise exceptionable, which Cleomenes does not reprove him for in the best and most serious manner, or to which he gives not the most satisfactory and convincing answer that can be made, I am to blame, otherwise not. Yet from the fate the first part has met with, I expect to see in a little time several things transcribed and cited from this, in that manner, by themselves, without the replies that are made to them, and so shown to the world, as my words and my opinion. The opportunity of doing this will be greater in this part than it was in the former, and should I always have fair play, and never be attacked, but by such adversaries, as would make their quotations from me without artifice, and use me with common honesty, it would go a great way to the refuting of me; and I should myself begin to suspect the truth of several things I have advanced, and which hitherto I cannot help believing.

A stroke made in this manner,——which the reader will sometimes meet with in the following dialogues, is a sign, either of interruption, when the person speaking is not suffered to go on with what he was going to say, or else of a pause, during which something is supposed to be said or done, not relating to the discourse.

As in this part I have not altered the subject, on which a former, known by the name of the Fable of the Bees, was wrote; and the same unbiassed method of searching after truth, and inquiring into the nature of man and society, made use of in that, is continued in this, I thought it unnecessary to look out for another title; and being myself a great lover of simplicity, and my invention none of the most fruitful, the reader, I hope, will pardon the bald, inelegant aspect, and unusual emptiness of the title page.

Here I would have made an end of my Preface, which I know very well is too long already: but the world having been very grossly imposed upon by a false report, that some months ago was very solemnly made, and as industriously spread in most of the newspapers, for a considerable time, I think it would be an unpardonable neglect in me, of the public, should I suffer them; to remain in the error they were led into, when I am actually addressing them; and there is no other person, from whom they can so justly expect to be undeceived. In the London Evening Post of Saturday March 9, [276]1727–8, the following paragraph was printed in small Italic, at the end of the home news.

On Friday evening the first instant, a gentleman, well-dressed, appeared at the bonfire before St. James’s Gate, who declared himself the author of a book, intituled, the Fable of the Bees; and that he was sorry for writing the same: and recollecting his former promise, pronounced these words: I commit my book to the flames; and threw it in accordingly.

The Monday following, the same piece of news was repeated in the Daily Journal, and after that for a considerable time, as I have said, in most of the papers: but since the Saturday mentioned, which was the only time it was printed by itself, it appeared always with a small addition to it, and annexed (with a N. B. before it) to the following advertisement.


Or an Inquiry into the Original of Moral Virtue, wherein the false notions of Machiavel, Hobbs, Spinosa, and Mr. Bayle, as they are collected and digested by the Author of the Fable of the Bees, are examined and confuted; and the eternal and unalterable nature and obligation of moral virtue is stated and vindicated; to which is prefixed, a Prefatory Introduction, in a Letter to that Author, By Alexander Innes, D. D. Preacher Assistant at St. Margaret’s, Westminster.

The small addition which I said was made to that notable piece of news, after it came to be annexed to this advertisement, consisted of these five words (upon reading the above book), which were put in after, “sorry for writing the same.” This story having been often repeated in the papers, and never publicly contradicted, many people, it seems, were credulous enough to believe, notwithstanding the improbability of it. But the least attentive would have suspected the whole, as soon as they had seen the addition that was made to it, the second time it was published; for supposing it to be intelligible, as it follows the advertisement, it cannot be pretended, that the repenting gentleman pronounced those very words. He must have named the book; and if he had said, that his sorrow was occasioned by reading the ΑΡΕΤΗ-ΛΟΓΙΑ, or the new book of the reverend Dr. Innes, how came [277]such a remarkable part of his confession to be omitted in the first publication, where the well-dressed gentleman’s words and actions seemed to be set down with so much care and exactness? Besides, every body knows the great industry, and general intelligence of our news-writers: if such a farce had really been acted, and a man had been hired to pronounce the words mentioned, and throw a book into the fire, which I have often wondered was not done, is it credible at all, that a thing so remarkable, done so openly, and before so many witnesses, the first day of March, should not be taken notice of in any of the papers before the ninth, and never be repeated afterwards, or ever mentioned but as an appendix of the advertisement to recommend Dr. Innes’s book?

However, this story has been much talked of, and occasioned a great deal of mirth among my acquaintance, several of whom have earnestly pressed me more than once to advertise the falsity of it, which I would never comply with for fear of being laughed at, as some years ago poor Dr. Patridge was, for seriously maintaining that he was not dead. But all this while we were in the dark, and nobody could tell how this report came into the world, or what it could be that had given a handle to it, when one evening a friend of mine, who had borrowed Dr. Innes’s book, which till then I had never seen, showed me in it the following lines.

But à propos Sir, if I rightly remember, the ingenuous Mr. Law, in his Remarks upon your Fable of the Bees, puts you in mind of a promise you had made, by which you obliged yourself to burn that book at any time or place your adversary should appoint, if any thing should be found in it tending to immorality or the corruption of manners. I have a great respect for that gentleman, though I am not personally acquainted with him, but I cannot but condemn his excessive credulity and good nature, in believing that a man of your principles could be a slave to his word; for my own part, I think, I know you too well to be so easily imposed upon; or if, after all, you should. really persist in your resolution, and commit it to the flames, I appoint the first of March, before St. James’s Gate, for that purpose, it being the birthday of the best and most glorious queen upon earth; and the burning of your book the smallest atonement you can make, for endeavouring to corrupt and debauch his majesty’s subjects in their principles. Now, Sir, if you agree to this, I hope you are not so destitute of friends, but that you may [278]find some charitable neighbour or other, who will lend you a helping hand, and throw in the author at the same time by way of appendix; the doing of which will, in my opinion, complete the solemnity of the day. I am not your patient, but, your most humble servant.

Thus ends what, in the ΑΡΕΤΗ-ΛΟΓΙΑ Doctor Innes is pleased to call a Prefatory Introduction, in a Letter to the Author of the Fable of the Bees. It is signed A. I. and dated Tot-hill-fields, Westminster, Jan. 20. 1727–8.

Now all our wonder ceased. The judicious reader will easily allow me, that, having read thus much, I had an ample dispensation from going on any further; therefore I can say nothing of the book: and as to the reverend author of it, who seems to think himself so well acquainted with my principles, I have not the honour to know either him or his morals, otherwise than from what I have quoted here. Ex pede Herculem.




Always in haste, Horatio?

Hor. I must beg of you to excuse me, I am obliged to go.

Cleo. Whether you have other engagements than you used to have, or whether your temper is changed, I cannot tell, but something has made an alteration in you, of which I cannot comprehend the cause. There is no man in the world whose friendship I value more than I do yours, or whose company I like better, yet I can never have it. I profess I have thought sometimes that you have avoided me on purpose.

Hor. I am sorry, Cleomenes, I should have been wanting in civility to you; I come every week constantly to pay my respects to you, and if ever I fail, I always send to inquire after your health.

Cleo. No man outdoes Horatio in civility; but I thought something more was due to our affections and long acquaintance, besides compliments and ceremony: Of late I have never been to wait upon you, but you are gone abroad, or I find you engaged; and when I have the honour to see you here, your stay is only momentary. Pray pardon my rudeness for once: What is it that hinders you now from keeping me company for an hour or two? My cousin talks of going out, and I shall be all alone.

Hor. I know better than to rob you of such an opportunity for speculation?

Cleo. Speculation! on what, pray?

Hor. That vileness of our species in the refined way of thinking you have of late been so fond of, I call it the scheme of deformity, the partisans of which study chiefly to make every thing in our nature appear as ugly and contemptible [280]as it is possible, and take uncommon pains to persuade men that they are devils.

Cleo. If that be all, I shall soon convince you.

Hor. No conviction to me, I beseech you: I am determined, and fully persuaded, that there is good in the world as well as evil; and that the words, honesty, benevolence, and humanity, and even charity, are not empty sounds only, but that there are such things in spite of the Fable of the Bees; and I am resolved to believe, that, notwithstanding the degeneracy of mankind, and the wickedness of the age, there are men now living, who are actually possessed of those virtues.

Cleo. But you do not know what I am going to say: I am——

Hor. That may be, but I will not hear one word; all you can say is lost upon me, and if you will not give me leave to speak out, I am gone this moment. That cursed book has bewitched you, and made you deny the existence of those very virtues that had gained you the esteem of your friends. You know this is not my usual language; I hate to say harsh things: But what regard can, or ought one to have for an author that treats every body de haut en bas, makes a jest of virtue and honour, calls Alexander the Great a madman, and spares kings and princes no more than any one, would the most abject of the people? The business of his philosophy is just the reverse to that of the herald’s office; for, as there they are always contriving and finding out high and illustrious pedigrees for low and obscure people, so your author is ever searching after, and inventing mean contemptible origins for worthy and honourable actions. I am your very humble servant.

Cleo. Stay. I am of your opinion; what I offered to convince you of, was, how entirely I am recovered of the folly which you have so justly exposed: I have left that error.

Hor. Are you in earnest?

Cleo. No man more: There is no greater stickler for the social virtues than myself; and I much question, whether there is any of Lord Shaftsbury’s admirers that will go my lengths!

Hor. I shall be glad to see you go my lengths first, and as many more as you please. You cannot conceive, Cleomenes, how it has grieved me, when I have seen how many [281]enemies you made yourself by that extravagant way of arguing. If you are but serious, whence comes this change?

Cleo. In the first place, I grew weary of having every body against me: and, in the second, there is more room for invention in the other system. Poets and orators in the social system have fine opportunities of exerting themselves.

Hor. I very much suspect the recovery you boast of: Are you convinced, that the other system was false, which you might have easily learned from seeing every body against you?

Cleo. False to be sure; but what you allege is no proof of it: for if the greatest part of mankind were not against that scheme of deformity, as you justly call it, insincerity could not be so general, as the scheme itself supposes it to be: But since my eyes have been opened, I have found out that truth and probability are the silliest things in the world; they are of no manner of use, especially among the people de bon gout.

Hor. I thought what a convert you was: but what new madness has seized you now?

Cleo. No madness at all: I say, and will maintain it to the world, that truth, in the sublime, is very impertinent; and that in the arts and sciences, fit for men of taste to look into, a master cannot commit a more unpardonable fault, than sticking to, or being influenced by truth, where it interferes with what is agreeable.

Hor. Homely truths indeed——

Cleo. Look upon that Dutch piece of the nativity: what charming colouring there is! What a fine pencil, and how just are the outlines for a piece so curiously finished! But what a fool the fellow was to draw hay, and straw, and water, and a rack as well as a manger: it is a wonder he did not put the bambino into the manger.

Ful. The bambino? That is the child, I suppose: why it should be in the manger; should it not? Does not the history tell us, that the child was laid in the manger? I have no skill in painting; but I can see whether things are drawn to the life or not: sure nothing can be more like the head of an ox than that there. A picture then pleases me best when the art in such a manner deceives my eye, that, without making any allowance, I can imagine I see the things in reality which the painter has endeavoured to represent. I have always thought it an admirable piece; sure nothing in the world can be more like nature. [282]

Cleo. Like nature! So much the worse: Indeed, cousin, it is easily seen, that you have no skill in painting. It is not nature, but agreeable nature, la belle nature, that is to be represented: all things that are abject, low, pitiful, and mean, are carefully to be avoided, and kept out of sight; because, to men of the true taste, they are as offensive as things that are shocking, and really nasty.

Ful. At that rate, the Virgin Mary’s condition, and our Saviour’s birth, are never to be painted.

Cleo. That is your mistake; the subject itself is noble: Let us go but in the next room, and I will show you the difference.——Look upon that picture, which is the same history. There is fine architecture, there is a colonnade; can any thing be thought of more magnificent? How skilfully is that ass removed, and how little you see of the ox: pray, mind the obscurity they are both placed in. It hangs in a strong light, or else one might look ten times upon the picture without observing them: Behold these pillars of the Corinthian order, how lofty they are, and what an effect they have, what a noble space, what an area here is! How nobly every thing concurs to express the majestic grandeur of the subject, and strikes the soul with awe and admiration at the same time!

Ful. Pray cousin, has good sense ever any share in the judgment which your men of true taste form about pictures?

Hor. Madam!

Ful. I beg pardon, Sir, if I have offended: but to me it seems strange to hear such commendations given to a painter, for turning the stable of a country inn into a palace of extraordinary magnificence: This is a great deal worse than Swift’s Metamorphosis of Philemon and Baucis; for there some show of resemblance is kept in the changes.

Hor. In a country stable, Madam, there is nothing but filth and nastiness, or vile abject things not fit to be seen, at least not capable of entertaining persons of quality.

Ful. The Dutch picture in the next room has nothing that is offensive: but an Augean stable, even before Hercules had cleaned it, would be less shocking to me than those fluted pillars; for nobody can please my eye that affronts my understanding: When I desire a man to paint a considerable history, which every body knows to have been transacted at a country inn, does he not strangely impose upon me, because he understands architecture, to draw me a room that [283]might have served for a great hall, or banqueting-house, to any Roman emperor? Besides, that the poor and abject state in which our Saviour chose to appear at his coming into the world, is the most material circumstance of the history: it contains an excellent moral against vain pomp, and is the strongest persuasive to humility, which, in the Italian, are more than lost.

Hor. Indeed, Madam, experience is against you; and it is certain, that, even among the vulgar, the representations of mean and abject things, and such as they are familiar with, have not that effect, and either breed contempt, or are insignificant: whereas vast piles, stately buildings, roofs of uncommon height, surprising ornaments, and all the architecture of the grand taste, are the fittest to raise devotion, and inspire men with veneration, and a religious awe for the places that have these excellencies to boast of. Is there ever a meeting-house or barn to be compared to a fine cathedral, for this purpose?

Ful. I believe there is a mechanical way of raising devotion in silly superstitious creatures; but an attentive contemplation on the works of God, I am sure——

Cleo. Pray, cousin, say no more in defence of your low taste: The painter has nothing to do with the truth of the history; his business is to express the dignity of the subject, and, in compliment to his judges, never to forget the excellency of our species: All his art and good sense must be employed in raising that to the highest pitch; Great masters do not paint for the common people, but for persons of refined understanding: What you complain o£ is the effect of the good manners and complaisance of the painter. When he had drawn the Infant and the Madona, he thought the least glimpse of the ox and the ass would be sufficient to acquaint you with the history: They who want more fescuing, and a broader explanation, he does not desire his picture should ever be shown to; for the rest, he entertains you with nothing but what is noble and worthy your attention: You see he is an architect, and completely skilled in perspective, and he shows you how finely he can round a pillar, and that both the depth, and the height of a space, may be drawn on a flat, with all the other wonders he performs by his skill in that inconceivable mystery of light and shadows.

Ful. Why then is it pretended that painting is an imitation of nature? [284]

Cleo. At first setting out a scholar is to copy things exactly as he sees them; but from a great matter, when he is left to his own invention, it is expected he should take the perfections of nature, and not paint it as it is, but as we would wish it to be. Zeuxis, to draw a goddess, took five beautiful women, from which he culled what was most graceful in each.

Ful. Still every grace he painted was taken from nature.

Cleo. That’s true; but he left nature her rubbish, and imitated nothing but what was excellent, which made the assemblage superior to any thing in nature. Demetrius was taxed for being too natural; Dionysus was also blamed for drawing men like us. Nearer our times, Michael Angelo was esteemed too natural, and Lysippus of old upbraided the common sort of sculptors for making men such as they were found in nature.

Ful. Are these things real?

Cleo. You may read it yourself in Graham’s Preface to The Art of Painting: the book is above in the library.

Hor. These things may seem strange to you, Madam, but they are of immense use to the public: the higher we can carry the excellency of our species, the more those beautiful images will fill noble minds with worthy and suitable ideas of their own dignity, that will seldom fail of spurring them on to virtue and heroic actions. There is a grandeur to be expressed in things that far surpasses the beauties of simple nature. You take delight in operas, Madam, I do not question; you must have minded the noble manner and stateliness beyond nature, which every thing there is executed with. What gentle touches, what slight and yet majestic motions are made use of to express the most boisterous passions! As the subject is always lofty, so no posture is to be chosen but what is serious and significant, as well as comely and agreeable; should the actions there be represented as they are in common life, they would ruin the sublime, and at once rob you of all your pleasure.

Ful. I never expected any thing natural at an opera; but as persons of distinction resort thither, and every body comes dressed, it is a sort of employment, and I seldom miss a night, because it is the fashion to go: besides, the royal family, and the monarch himself, generally honouring them with their presence, it is almost become a duty to attend them, as much as it is to go to court. What diverts me there is the company, the lights, the music, the scenes, and other decorations: [285]but as I understand but very few words of Italian, so what is most admired in the recitativo is lost upon me, which makes the acting part to me rather ridiculous than——

Hor. Ridiculous, Madam! For Heaven’s sake——

Ful. I beg pardon, Sir, for the expression, I never laughed at an opera in my life; but I confess, as to the entertainment itself, that a good play is infinitely more diverting to me; and I prefer any thing that informs my understanding beyond all the recreations which either my eyes or my ears can be regaled with.

Hor. I am sorry to hear a lady of your good sense make such a choice. Have you no taste for music, Madam?

Ful. I named that as part of my diversion.

Cleo. My cousin plays very well upon the harpsichord herself.

Ful. I love to hear good music; but it does not throw me into those raptures, I hear others speak of.

Hor. Nothing certainly can elevate the mind beyond a fine concert: it seems to disengage the soul from the body, and lift it up to heaven. It is in this situation, that we are most capable of receiving extraordinary impressions: when the instruments cease, our temper is subdued, and beautiful action joins with the skilful voice, in setting before us in a transcendent light, the heroic labours we are come to admire, and which the word Opera imports. The powerful harmony between the engaging sounds and speaking gestures invades the heart, and forcibly inspires us with those noble sentiments, which to entertain, the most expressive words can only attempt to persuade us. Few comedies are tolerable, and in the best of them, if the levity of the expressions does not corrupt, the meanness of the subject must debase the manners; at least to persons of quality. In tragedies the style is more sublime; and the subjects generally great; but all violent passions, and even the representations of them, ruffle and discompose the mind: besides, when men endeavour to express things strongly, and they are acted to the life, it often happens that the images do mischief, because they are too moving, and that the action is faulty for being too natural; and experience teaches us, that in unguarded minds, by those pathetic performances, flames are often raised that are prejudicial to virtue. The playhouses themselves are far from being inviting, much less the companies, at least the greatest part of them that frequent them, some of which are almost of the lowest [286]rank of all. The disgust that persons of the least elegance receive from these people are many; besides, the ill scents, and unseemly sights one meets with, of careless rakes and impudent wenches, that, having paid their money, reckon themselves to be all upon the level with every body there; the oaths, scurrilities, and vile jests one is often obliged to hear, without resenting them; and the odd mixture of high and low that are all partaking of the same diversion, without regard to dress or quality, are all very offensive; and it cannot but be very disagreeable to polite people to be in the same crowd with a variety of persons, some of them below mediocrity, that pay no deference to one another. At the opera, every thing charms and concurs to make happiness complete. The sweetness of voice, in the first place, and the solemn composure of the action, serve to mitigate and allay every passion; it is the gentleness of them, and the calm serenity of the mind, that make us amiable, and bring us the nearest to the perfection of angels; whereas, the violence of the passions, in which the corruption of the heart chiefly consists, dethrones our reason, and renders us more like unto savages. It is incredible, how prone we are to imitation, and how strangely, unknown to ourselves, we are shaped and fashioned after the models and examples that are often set before us. No anger nor jealousy are ever to be seen at an opera, that distort the features; no flames that are noxious, nor is any love represented in them, that is not pure and next to seraphic; and it is impossible for the remembrance to carry any thing away from them, that can sully the imagination. Secondly, the company is of another sort: the place itself is a security to peace, as well as every one’s honour; and it is impossible to name another, where blooming innocence and irresistible beauty stand in so little need of guardians. Here we are sure never to meet with petulancy or ill manners, and to be free from immodest ribaldry, libertine wit, and detestable satire. If you will mind, on the one hand, the richness and splendour of dress, and the quality of the persons that appear in them; the variety of colours, and the lustre of the fair in a spacious theatre, well illuminated and adorned; and on the other, the grave deportment of the assembly, and the consciousness that appears in every countenance, of the respect they owe to each other, you will be forced to confess, that upon earth there cannot be a pastime more agreeable: believe me, Madam, there is no place, [287]where both sexes have such opportunities of imbibing exalted sentiments, and raising themselves above the vulgar, as they have at the opera; and there is no other sort of diversion or assembly, from the frequenting of which, young persons of quality can have equal hopes of forming their manners, and contracting a strong and lasting habit of virtue.

Ful. You have said more in commendation of operas, Horatio, than I ever heard or thought of before; and I think every body who loves that diversion is highly obliged to you. The grand gout, I believe, is a great help in panegyric, especially, where it is an incivility strictly to examine and over-curiously to look into matters.

Cleo. What say you now, Fulvia, of nature and good sense, are they not quite beat out of doors?

Ful. I have heard nothing yet, to make me out of conceit with good sense; though what you insinuated of nature, as if it was not to be imitated in painting, is an opinion, I must confess, which hitherto I more admire at, than I can approve of it.

Hor. I would never recommend any thing, Madam, that is repugnant to good sense; but Cleomenes must have some design in over-acting the part he pretends to have chosen. What he said about painting is very true, whether he spoke it in jest or in earnest; but he talks so diametrically opposite to the opinion which he is known every where to defend of late, that I do not know what to make of him.

Ful. I am convinced of the narrowness of my own understanding, and am going to visit some persons, with whom I shall be more upon the level.

Hor. You will give me leave to wait upon you to your coach, Madam.——Pray, Cleomenes, what is it you have got in your head?

Cleo. Nothing at all: I told you before, that I was so entirely recovered from my folly, that few people went my lengths. What jealousy you entertain of me I do not know; but I find myself much improved in the social system. Formerly I thought, that chief ministers, and all those at the helm of affairs, acted from principles of avarice and ambition; that in all the pains they took, and even in the slaveries they underwent for the public good, they had their private ends, and that they were supported in the fatigue by secret enjoyments they were unwilling to own. It is not a month ago, that I imagined that the inward care and real solicitude of [288]all great men centered within themselves; and that to enrich themselves, acquire titles of honour, and raise their families on the one hand, and to have opportunities on the other of displaying a judicious fancy to all the elegant comforts of life, and establishing, without the least trouble of self-denial, the reputation of being wise, humane, and munificent, were the things, which, besides the satisfaction there is in superiority and the pleasure of governing, all candidates to high offices and great posts proposed to themselves, from the places they sued for: I was so narrow minded, that I could not conceive how a man would ever voluntarily submit to be a slave but to serve himself. But I have abandoned that ill-natured way of judging: I plainly perceive the public good, in all the designs of politicians, the social virtues shine in every action, and I find that the national interest is the compass that all statesmen steer by.

Hor. That is more than I can prove; but certainly there have been such men, there have been patriots, that without selfish views have taken incredible pains for their country’s welfare: nay, there are men now that would do the same, if they were employed; and we have had princes that have neglected their ease and pleasure, and sacrificed their quiet, to promote the prosperity and increase the wealth and honour of the kingdom, and had nothing so much at heart as the happiness of their subjects.

Cleo. No disaffection, I beg of you. The difference between past and present times, and persons in and out of places, is perhaps clearer to you than it is to me; but it is many years ago, you know, that it has been agreed between us never to enter into party disputes: what I desire your attention to, is my reformation, which you seem to doubt of, and the great change that is wrought in me. The religion of most kings and other high potentates, I formerly had but a slender opinion of, but now I measure their piety by what they say of it themselves to their subjects.

Hor. That is very kindly done.

Cleo. By thinking meanly of things, I once had strange blundering notions concerning foreign wars: I thought that many of them arose from trifling causes, magnified by politicians for their own ends; that the most ruinous misunderstandings between states and kingdoms might spring from the hidden malice, folly, or caprice of one man; that many of them had been owing to the private quarrels, piques, resentments, [289]and the haughtiness of the chief ministers of the respective nations, that were the sufferers; and that what is called personal hatred between princes seldom was more at first, than either an open or secret animosity which the two great favourites of those courts had against one another: but now I have learned to derive those things from higher causes. I am reconciled likewise to the luxury of the voluptuous, which I used to be offended at, because now I am convinced that the money of most rich men, is laid out with the social design of promoting arts and sciences, and that in the most expensive undertakings their principal aim is the employment of the poor.

Hor. These are lengths indeed.

Cleo. I have a strong aversion to satire, and detest it every whit as much as you do: the most instructive writings to understand the world, and penetrate into the heart of man, I take to be addresses, epithets, dedications, and above all, the preambles to patents, of which I am making a large collection.

Hor. A very useful undertaking!

Cleo. But to remove all your doubts of my conversion, I will show you some easy rules I have laid down for young beginners.

Hor. What to do?

Cleo. To judge of mens actions by the lovely system of Lord Shaftsbury, in a manner diametrically opposite to that of the Fable of the Bees.

Hor. I do not understand you.

Cleo. You will presently. I have called them rules, but they are rather examples from which the rules are to be gathered: as for instance, if we see an industrious poor woman, who has pinched her belly, and gone in rags for a considerable time to save forty shillings, part with her money to put out her son at six years of age to a chimney-sweeper; to judge of her charitably, according to the system of the social virtues, we must imagine, that though she never paid for the sweeping of a chimney in her life, she knows by experience, that for want of this necessary cleanliness the broth has been often spoiled, and many a chimney has been set on fire, and therefore to do good in her generation, as far as she is able, she gives up her all, both offspring and estate, to assist in preventing the several mischiefs that are often occasioned by great quantities of soot disregarded; and, free from selfishness, [290]sacrifices her only son to the most wretched employment for the public welfare.

Hor. You do not vie I see with Lord Shaftsbury, for loftiness of subjects.

Cleo. When in a starry night with amazement we behold the glory of the firmament, nothing is more obvious than that the whole, the beautiful all, must be the workmanship of one great Architect of power and wisdom stupendous; and it is as evident, that every thing in the universe is a constituent part of one entire fabric.

Hor. Would you make a jest of this too.

Cleo. Far from it: they are awful truths, of which I am as much convinced as I am of my own existence; but I was going to name the consequences, which Lord Shaftsbury draws from them, in order to demonstrate to you, that I am a convert, and a very punctual observer of his Lordship’s instructions, and that, in my judgment on the poor woman’s conduct, there is nothing that is not entirely agreeable to the generous way of thinking set forth and recommended in the Characteristics.

Hor. Is it possible a man should read such a book, and make no better use of it! I desire you would name the consequences you speak of.

Cleo. As that infinity of luminous bodies, however different in magnitude, velocity, and the figures they describe in their courses, concur all of them to make up the universe, so this little spot we inhabit is likewise a compound of air, water, fire, minerals, vegetables, and living creatures, which, though vastly differing from one another in their nature, do altogether make up the body of this terraqueous globe.

Hor. This is very right, and in the same manner as our whole species is composed of many nations of different religions, forms of government, interests and manners that divide and share the earth between them; so the civil society in every nation consists in great multitudes of both sexes, that widely differing from each other in age, constitution, strength, temper, wisdom and possessions, all help to make up one body politic.

Cleo. The same exactly which I would have said: now, pray Sir, is not the great end of men’s forming themselves into such societies, mutual happiness; I mean, do not all individual persons, from being thus combined, propose to themselves a more comfortable condition of life, than human creatures, [291]if they were to live like other wild animals, without tie or dependance, could enjoy in a free and savage state?

Hor. This certainly is not only the end, but the end which is every where attained to by government and society, in some degree or other.

Cleo. Hence it must follow, that it is always wrong for men to pursue gain or pleasure, by means that are visibly detrimental to the civil society, and that creatures who can do this must be narrow-souled, short-sighted, selfish people; whereas, wise men never look upon themselves as individual persons, without considering the whole, of which they are but trifling parts in respect to bulk, and are incapable of receiving any satisfaction from things that interfere with the public welfare. This being undeniably true, ought not all private advantage to give way to this general interest; and ought it not to be every one’s endeavour, to increase this common stock of happiness; and, in order to it, do what he can to render himself a serviceable and useful member of that whole body which he belongs to?

Hor. What of all this?

Cleo. Has not my poor woman, in what I have related of her, acted in conformity to this social system?

Hor. Can any one in his senses imagine, that an indigent thoughtless wretch, without sense or education, should ever act from such generous principles?

Cleo. Poor I told you the woman was, and I will not insist upon her education; but as for her being thoughtless and void of sense, you will give me leave to say, that it is an aspersion for which you have no manner of foundation; and from the account I have given of her, nothing can be gathered but that she was a considerate, virtuous, wise woman, in poverty.

Hor. I suppose you would persuade me that you are in earnest.

Cleo. I am much more so than you imagine; and say once, more, that, in the example I have given, I have trod exactly in my Lord Shaftsbury’s steps, and closely followed the social system. If I have committed any error, show it me.

Hor. Did that author ever meddle with any thing so low and pitiful.

Cleo. There can be nothing mean in noble actions, whoever the persons are that perform them. But if the vulgar [292]are to be all excluded from the social virtues, what rule or instruction shall the labouring poor, which are by far the greatest part of the nation, have left them to walk by, when the Characteristics have made a jest of all revealed religion, especially the Christian? but if you despise the poor and illiterate, I can, in the same method, judge of men in higher stations. Let the enemies to the social system behold the venerable counsellor, now grown eminent for his wealth, that at his great age continues sweltering at the bar to plead the doubtful cause, and, regardless of his dinner, shorten his own life in endeavouring to secure the possessions of others. How conspicuous is the benevolence of the physician to his kind, who, from morning till night, visiting the sick, keeps several sets of horses to be more serviceable to many, and still grudges himself the time for the necessary functions of life! In the same manner the indefatigable clergyman, who, with his ministry, supplies a very large parish already, solicits with zeal to be as useful and beneficent to another, though fifty of his order, yet unemployed, offer their service for the same purpose.

Hor. I perceive your drift: from the strained panegyrics you labour at, you would form arguments ad absurdum: the banter is ingenious enough, and, at proper times, might serve to raise a laugh; but then you must own likewise, that those studied encomiums will not bear to be seriously examined into. When we consider that the great business as well as perpetual solicitude of the poor, are to supply their immediate wants, and keep themselves from starving, and that their children are a burden to them, which they groan under, and desire to be delivered from by all possible means, that are not clashing with the low involuntary affection which nature forces them to have for their offspring: when, I say, we consider this, the virtues of your industrious make no great figure. The public spirit likewise, and the generous principles, your sagacity has found out in the three faculties, to which men are brought up for a livelihood, seem to be very far fetched. Fame, wealth, and greatness, every age can witness: but whatever labour or fatigue they submit to, the motives of their actions are as conspicuous as their calling themselves.

Cleo. Are they not beneficial to mankind, and of use to the public? [293]

Hor. I do not deny that; we often receive inestimable benefits from them, and the good ones in either profession are not only useful, but very necessary to the society: but though there are several that sacrifice their whole lives, and all the comforts of them, to their business, there is not one of them that would take a quarter of the pains he now is at, if, without taking any, he could acquire the same money, reputation, and other advantages that may accrue to him from the esteem or gratitude of those whom he has been serviceable to; and I do not believe, there is an eminent man among them that would not own this if the question was put to him. Therefore, when ambition and the love of money are avowed principles men act from, it is very silly to ascribe virtues to them, which they themselves pretend to lay no manner of claim to. But your encomium upon the parson is the merriest jest of all: I have heard many excuses made, and some of them very frivolous, for the covetousness of priests; but what you have picked out in their praise is more extraordinary than any thing I ever met with; and the most partial advocate and admirer of the clergy never yet discovered before yourself a great virtue in their hunting after pluralities, when they were well provided for themselves, and many others for want of employ were ready to starve.

Cleo. But if there be any reality in the social system, it would be better for the public, if men, in, all professions, were to act from those generous principles; and you will allow, that the society would be the gainers, if the generality in the three faculties would mind others more, and themselves less than they do now.

Hor. I do not know that; and considering what slavery some lawyers, as well as physicians, undergo, I much question whether it would be possible for them to exert themselves in the same manner though they would, if the constant baits and refreshments of large fees did not help to support human nature, by continually stimulating this darling passion.

Cleo. Indeed, Horatio, this is a stronger argument against the social system, and more injurious to it than any thing that has been said by the author whom you have exclaimed against with so much bitterness.

Hor. I deny that: I do not conclude from the selfishness in some, that there is no virtue in others. [294]

Cleo. Nor he neither, and you very much wrong him if you assert that he ever did.

Hor. I refuse to commend what is not praise-worthy; but as bad as mankind are, virtue has an existence as well as vice, though it is more scarce.

Cleo. What you said last, nobody ever contradicted; but I do not know what you would be at: does not the Lord Shaftsbury endeavour to do good, and promote the social virtues, and am I not doing the very same? suppose me to be in the wrong in the favourable constructions I have made of things, still it is to be wished for at least, that men had a greater regard to the public welfare, less fondness for their private interest, and more charity for their neighbours, than the generality of them have.

Hor. To be wished for, perhaps, it may be, but what probability is there that this ever will come to pass?

Cleo. And unless that can come to pass, it is the idlest thing in the world to discourse upon, and demonstrate the excellency of virtue; what signifies it to set forth the beauty of it, unless it was possible that men should fall in love with it?

Hor. If virtue was never recommended, men might grow worse than they are.

Cleo. Then, by the same reason, if it was recommended more, men might grow better than they are. But I see perfectly well the reason of these shifts and evasions you make use of against your opinion: You find yourself under a necessity of allowing my panegyrics, as you call them, to be just; or finding the same fault with most of my Lord Shaftsbury’s; and you would do neither if you could help it: From mens preferring company to solitude, his Lordship pretends to prove the love and natural affection we have for our own species: If this was examined into with the same strictness as you have done every thing I have said in behalf of the three faculties, I believe that the solidity of the consequences would be pretty equal in both. But I stick to my text, and stand up for the social virtues: The noble author of that system had a most charitable opinion of his species, and extolled the dignity of it in an extraordinary manner, and why my imitation of him should be called a banter, I see no reason. He certainly wrote with a good design, and endeavoured to inspire his readers with refined notions, and a public spirit abstract from religion: The world enjoys the fruits [295]of his labours; but the advantage that is justly expected from his writings, can never be so universally felt, before that public spirit, which he recommended, comes down to the meanest tradesmen, whom you would endeavour to exclude from the generous sentiments and noble pleasures that are already so visible in many. I am now thinking on two sorts of people that stand very much in need of, and yet hardly ever meet with one another: This misfortune must have caused such a chasm in the band of society, that no depth of thought, or happiness of contrivance, could have filled up the vacuity, if a most tender regard for the commonwealth, and the height of benevolence did not influence and oblige others, mere strangers to those people, and commonly men of small education, to afflict them with their good offices, and stop up the gap. Many ingenious workmen, in obscure dwellings, would be starved in spite of industry, only for want of knowing where to sell the product of their labour, if there were not others to dispose of it for them: And again, the rich and extravagant are daily furnished with an infinite variety of superfluous knicknacks and elaborate trifles, every one of them invented to gratify either a needless curiosity, or else wantonness and folly; and which they could never have thought of, much less wanted, had they never seen or known where to buy them. What a blessing, then, to the public, is the social toyman, who lays out a considerable estate to gratify the desires of these two different classes of people? He procures food and raiment for the deserving poor, and searches with great diligence after the most skilful artificers, that no man shall be able to produce better workmanship than himself: with studied civilities, and a serene countenance, he entertains the greatest strangers; and, often speaking to them first, kindly offers to guess at their wants: He confines not his attendance to a few stated hours, but waits their leisure all day long in an open shop, where he bears the summer’s heat, and winter’s cold, with equal cheerfulness. What a beautiful prospect is here of natural affection to our kind! For, if he acts from that principle, who only furnishes us with necessaries of life, certainly he shows a more superlative love and indulgence to his species, who will not suffer the most whimsical of it to be an hour destitute of what he shall fancy, even things the most unnecessary.

Hor. You have made the most of it indeed, but are you not tired yet with these fooleries yourself? [296]

Cleo. What fault do you find with these kind constructions; do they detract from the dignity of our species?

Hor. I admire your invention, and thus much I will own, that, by overacting the part in that extravagant manner, you have set the social system in a more disadvantageous light than ever I had considered it before: But the best things, you know, may be ridiculed.

Cleo. Whether I know that or not, Lord Shaftsbury has flatly denied it; and takes joke and banter to be the best and surest touchstone to prove the worth of things: It is his opinion, that no ridicule can be fastened upon what is really great and good. His Lordship has made use of that test to try the Scriptures and the Christian religion by, and exposed them because it seems they could not stand it.

Hor. He has exposed superstition, and the miserable notions the vulgar were taught to have of God; but no man ever had more sublime ideas of the Supreme Being, and the universe, than himself.

Cleo. You are convinced, that what I charge him with is true.

Hor. I do not pretend to defend every syllable that noble Lord has wrote. His style is engaging, his language is polite, his reasoning strong; many of his thoughts are beautifully expressed, and his images, for the greatest part, inimitably fine. I may be pleased with an author, without obliging myself to answer every cavil that shall be made against him. As to what you call your imitation of him, I have no taste in burlesque: but the laugh you would raise might be turned upon you with less trouble than you seem to have taken. Pray, when you consider the hard and dirty labours that are performed to supply the mob with the vast quantities of strong beer they swill, do not you discover social virtue in a drayman?

Cleo. Yes, and in a dray-horse too; at least as well as I can in some great men, who yet would be very angry should we refuse to believe, that the most selfish actions of theirs, if the society received but the least benefit from them, were chiefly owing to principles of virtue, and a generous regard to the public. Do you believe that, in the choice of a Pope, the greatest dependence of the Cardinals, and what they principally rely upon, is the influence of the Holy Ghost?

Hor. No more than I do transubstantiation. [297]

Cleo. But if you had been brought up a Roman Catholic, you would believe both.

Hor. I do not know that.

Cleo. You would, if you was sincere in your religion, as thousands of them are, that are no more destitute of reason and good sense than you or I.

Hor. I have nothing to say as to that: there are many things incomprehensible, that yet are certainly true: These are properly the objects of faith; and, therefore, when matters are above my capacity, and really surpass my understanding, I am silent, and submit with great humility: but I will swallow nothing which I plainly apprehend to be contrary to my reason, and is directly clashing with my senses.

Cleo. If you believe a Providence, what demonstration can you have, that God does not direct men in an affair of higher importance to all Christendom, than any other you can name?

Hor. This is an ensnaring, and a very unfair question. Providence superintends and governs every thing without exception. To defend my negative, and give a reason for my unbelief, it is sufficient, if I prove, that all the instruments, and the means they make use of in those elections, are visibly human and mundane, and many of them unwarrantable and wicked.

Cleo. Not all the means; because every day they have prayers, and solemnly invoke the Divine assistance.

Hor. But what stress they lay upon it may be easily gathered from the rest of their behaviour. The court of Rome is, without dispute, the greatest academy of refined politics, and the best school to learn the art of caballing: there ordinary cunning, and known stratagems, are counted rusticity, and designs are pursued through all the mazes of human subtlety. Genius there must give way to finesse, as strength does to art in wrestling; and a certain skill some men have in concealing their capacities from others, is of far greater use with them, than real knowledge, or the soundest understanding. In the sacred college, where every thing is auro venale, truth and justice bear the lowest price: Cardinal Palavicini, and other Jesuits, that have been the stanch advocates of the Papal authority, have owned with ostentation the Politia religiosa della chiésa, and not hid from us the virtues and accomplishments, that were only valuable among the Purpurati, in whose judgment over-reaching, at any rate, is the highest honour, and to be outwitted, though by the basest [298]artifice, the greatest shame. In conclaves, more especially, nothing is carried on without tricks and intrigue; and in them the heart of man is so deep, and so dark an abyss, that the finest air of dissimulation is sometimes found to have been insincere, and men often deceive one another, by counterfeiting hypocrisy. And is it credible, that holiness, religion, or the least concern for spirituals, should have any share in the plots, machinations, brigues, and contrivances of a society, of which each member, besides the gratification of his own passions, has nothing at heart but the interest of his party, right or wrong, and to distress every faction that opposes it?

Cleo. These sentiments confirm to me what I have often heard, that renegadoes are the most cruel enemies.

Hor. Was ever I a Roman Catholic?

Cleo. I mean from the social system, of which you have been the most strenuous assertor; and now no man can judge of actions more severely, and indeed less charitably, than yourself, especially of the poor cardinals. I little thought, if once I quitted the scheme of deformity, to have found an adversary in you; but we have both changed sides it seems.

Hor. Much alike, I believe.

Cleo. Nay, what could any body think to hear me making the kindest interpretations of things that can be imagined, and yourself doing quite the reverse?

Hor. What ignorant people, that knew neither of us, might have done, I do not know: but it has been very manifest from our discourse, that you have maintained your cause, by endeavouring to show the absurdity of the contrary side, and that I have defended mine by letting you see, that we were not such fools as you would represent us to be. I had taken a resolution never to engage with you on this topic, but you see I have broke it: I hate to be thought uncivil; it was mere complaisance drew me in; though I am not sorry that we talked of it so much as we did, because I found your opinion less dangerous than 1 imagined: you have owned the existence of virtue, and that there are men who act from it as a principle, both which I thought you denied: but I would not have you flatter yourself that you deceived me, by hanging out false colours.

Cleo. I did not lay on the disguise so thick, as not to have you see through it, nor would I ever have discoursed upon this subject with any body, who could have been so easily [299]imposed upon. I know you to be a man of very good sense and sound judgment; and it is for that very reason I so heartily wish you would suffer me to explain myself, and demonstrate to you, how small the difference is between us, which you imagine to be so considerable: There is not a man in the world, in whose opinion I would less pass for an ill man than in yours; but I am so scrupulously fearful of offending you, that I never dared to touch upon some points, unless you had given me leave. Yield something to our friendship, and condescend for once to read the Fable of the Bees for my sake: It is a handsome volume: you love books: I have one extremely well bound; do; let me, suffer me to make you a present of it.

Hor. I am no bigot, Cleomenes; but I am a man of honour, and, you know, of strict honour: I cannot endure to hear that ridiculed, and the least attempt of it chafes my blood: Honour is the strongest and noblest tie of society by far, and therefore, believe me, can never be innocently sported with. It is a thing so solid and awful, as well as serious, that it can at no time become the object of mirth or diversion; and it is impossible for any pleasantry to be so ingenious, or any jest so witty, that I could bear with it on that head. Perhaps I am singular in this, and, if you will, in the wrong; be that as it will, all I can say is, Je ne’entens pas Raillerie la dessus; and therefore, no Fable of the Bees for me, if we are to remain friends: I have heard enough of that.

Cleo. Pray, Horatio, can there be honour without justice?

Hor. No: Who affirms there can?

Cleo. Have you not owned, that you have thought worse of me, than now you find me to deserve? No men, nor their works, ought to be condemned upon hearsays and bare surmises, much less upon the accusations of their enemies, without being examined into.

Hor. There you are in the right: I heartily beg your pardon, and to atone for the wrong I have done you, say what you please, I will hear it with patience, be it never so shocking; but I beg of you be serious.

Cleo. I have nothing to say to you that is distasteful, much less shocking: all I desire is, to convince you, that I am neither so ill-natured nor uncharitable, in my opinion of mankind, as you take me to be: and that the notions I entertain of the worth of things, will not differ much from yours, [300]when both come to be looked into. Do but consider what we have been doing: I have endeavoured to set every thing in the handsomest light I could think of; you say, to ridicule the social system; I own it; now reflect on your own conduct, which has been to show the folly of my strained panegyrics, and replace things in that natural view, which all just, knowing men would certainly behold them in. This is very well done: but it is contrary to the scheme you pretended to maintain; and if you judge of all actions in the same manner, there is an end of the social system; or, at least, it will be evident, that it is a theory never to be put into practice. You argue for the generality of men, that they are possessed of these virtues, but when we come to particulars, you can find none. I have tried you every where: you are as little satisfied with persons of the highest rank, as you are with them of the lowest, and you count it ridiculous to think better of the middling people. Is this otherwise than standing up for the goodness of a design, at the same time you confess, that it never was, or ever can be executed? What sort of people are they, and where must we look for them, whom you will own to act from those principles of virtue?

Hor. Are there not in all countries men of birth and ample fortune, that would not accept of places, though they were offered, that are generous and beneficent, and mind nothing but what is great and noble?

Cleo. Yes: But examine their conduct, look into their lives, and scan their actions with as little indulgence as you did those of the cardinals, or the lawyers and physicians, and then see what figure their virtues will make beyond those of the poor industrious woman. There is, generally speaking, less truth in panegyrics, than there is in satires. When all our senses are soothed, when we have no distemper of body or mind to disturb us, and meet with nothing that is disagreeable, we are pleased with our being: it is in this situation that we are most apt to mistake outward appearances for realities, and judge of things more favourably than they deserve. Remember, Horatio, how feelingly you spoke half an hour ago in commendation of operas: Your soul seemed to be lifted up whilst you was thinking on the many charms you find in them. I have nothing to say against the elegancy of the diversion, or the politeness of those that frequent them: but I am afraid you lost yourself in the contemplation [301]of the lovely idea, when you asserted that they were the most proper means to contract a strong and lasting habit of virtue; do you think, that among the same number of people, there is more real virtue at an opera, than there is at a bear-garden?

Hor. What a comparison!

Cleo. I am very serious.

Hor. The noise of dogs, and bulls, and bears, make a fine harmony!

Cleo. It is impossible you should mistake me, and you know very well, that it is not the different pleasures of those two places I would compare together. The things you mentioned are the least to be complained of: the continual sounds of oaths and imprecations, the frequent repetitions of the word lie, and other more filthy expressions, the loudness and dissonance of many strained and untuneful voices, are a perfect torment to a delicate ear. The frowsiness of the place, and the ill scents of different kinds, are a perpetual nuisance; but in all mob meetings——

Hor. L’odorat souffre beaucoup.

Cleo. The entertainment in general is abominable, and all the senses suffer. I allow all this. The greasy heads, some of them bloody, the jarring looks, and threatening, wild, and horrid aspects, that one meets with in those ever-restless assemblies, must be very shocking to the sight, and so indeed is every thing else that can be seen among a rude and ragged multitude, that are covered with dirt, and have in none of their pastimes one action that is inoffensive: but, after all, vice and what is criminal, are not to be confounded with roughness and want of manners, no more than politeness and an artful behaviour ought to be with virtue or religion. To tell a premeditated falsehood in order to do mischief, is a greater sin, than to give a man the lie, who speaks an untruth; and it is possible, that a person may suffer greater damage, and more injury to his ruin, from slander in the low whisper of a secret enemy, than he could have received from all the dreadful swearing and cursing, the most noisy antagonist could pelt him with. Incontinence, and adultery itself, persons of quality are not more free from all over Christendom, than the meaner people: but if there are some vices, which the vulgar are more guilty of than the better sort, there are others the reverse. Envy, detraction, and the spirit of revenge, are more raging and mischievous in courts than they [302]are in cottages. Excess of vanity and hurtful ambition are unknown among the poor; they are seldom tainted with avarice, with irreligion never; and they have much less opportunity of robbing the public than their betters. There are few persons of distinction, whom you are not acquainted with: I desire, you would seriously reflect on the lives of as many as you can think of, and next opera night on the virtues of the assembly.

Hor. You make me laugh. There is a good deal in what you say; and I am persuaded, all is not gold that glisters. Would you add any more?

Cleo. Since you have given me leave to talk, and you are such a patient hearer, I would not slip the opportunity of laying before you some things of high concern, that perhaps you never considered in the light, which you shall own yourself they ought to be seen in.

Hor. I am sorry to leave you; but I have really business that must be done to-night: it is about my law-suit, and I have stayed beyond my time already: but if you will come and eat a bit of mutton with me to-morrow, I will see nobody but yourself, and we will converse as long as you please.

Cleo. With all my heart. I will not fail to wait on you.




The discourse we had yesterday, has made a great impression upon me; you said several things that were very entertaining, and some which I shall not easily forget: I do not remember I ever looked into myself so much as I have done since last night after I left you. [303]

Cleo. To do that faithfully, is a more difficult and a severer talk than is commonly imagined. When, yesterday, I asked you where and among what sort of people we were to look for those whom you would allow to act from principles of virtue, you named a class, among whom I have found very agreeable characters of men, that yet all have their failings. If these could be left out, and the best were picked and culled from the different good qualities that are to be seen in several, the compound would make a very handsome picture.

Hor. To finish it well every way would be a great masterpiece.

Cleo. That I shall not attempt: but I do not think it would be very difficult to make a little sketch of it, that yet should exceed nature, and be a better pattern for imitation than any can be shown alive. I have a mind to try; the very thought enlivens me. How charming is the portrait of a complete gentleman, and how ravishing is the figure which a person of great birth and fortune, to whom nature has been no niggard, makes, when he understands the world, and is thoroughly well-bred!

Hor. I think them so, I can assure you, whether you are in jest or in earnest.

Cleo. How entirely well hid are his greatest imperfections! though money is his idol, and he is covetous in his heart, yet his inward avarice is forced to give way to his outward liberality, and an open generosity shines through all his actions.

Hor. There lies your fault: it is this I cannot endure in you.

Cleo. What is the matter?

Hor. I know what you are about, you are going to give me the caricatura of a gentleman, under pretence of drawing his portrait.

Cleo. You wrong me, I have no such thought.

Hor. But why is it impossible for human nature ever to be good? instead of leaving out, you put in failings without the least grounds or colour. When things have a handsome appearance every way, what reason have you to suspect them still to be bad? How came you to know, and which way have you discovered imperfections that are entirely well hid; and why should you suppose a person to be covetous in his heart, and that money is his idol, when you own yourself [304]that he never shews it, and that an open generosity shines through all his actions? This is monstrous.

Cleo. I have made no such supposition of any man, and I protest to you, that, in what I said, I had no other meaning than to observe, that whatever frailties and natural infirmities persons might be conscious of within, good sense and good manners were capable, and, without any other assistance, sufficient to keep them out of sight: but your questions are very reasonable, and since you have started this, I will be very open to you, and acquaint you before hand with my design of the description I am going to make; and the use I intend it for; which in short is, to demonstrate to you, that a most beautiful superstructure may be raised upon a rotten and despicable foundation. You will understand me better presently.

Hor. But how do you know a foundation to be rotten that supports the building, and is wholly concealed from you?

Cleo. Have patience, and I promise you, that I shall take nothing for granted, which you shall not allow of yourself.

Hor. Stick close to that, and I desire no more: now say what you will.

Cleo. The true object of pride or vain glory is the opinion of others; and the most superlative wish, which a man possessed, and entirely filled with it can make, is, that he may be well thought of, applauded, and admired by the whole world, not only in the present but all future ages. This passion is generally exploded; but it is incredible, how many strange and widely different miracles are, and may be performed by the force of it; as persons differ in circumstances and inclinations. In the first place, there is no danger so great, but by the help of his pride a man may slight and confront it; nor any manner of death so terrible, but with the same assistance he may court, and if he has a firm constitution, undergo it with alacrity. In the second, there are no good offices or duties, either to others or ourselves, that Cicero has spoke of, nor any instance of benevolence, humanity, or other social virtue, that Lord Shaftsbury has hinted at, but a man of good sense and knowledge may learn to practise them from no better principle than vain glory, if it be strong enough to subdue and keep under all other passions that may thwart and interfere with his design.

Hor. Shall I allow all this?

Cleo. Yes. [305]

Hor. When?

Cleo. Before we part.

Hor. Very well.

Cleo. Men of tolerable parts in plentiful circumstances, that were artfully educated, and are not singular in their temper, can hardly fail of a genteel behaviour: the more pride they have, and the greater value they set on the esteem of others, the more they will make it their study to render themselves acceptable to all they converse with; and they will take uncommon pains to conceal and stifle in their bosoms, every thing which their good sense tells them ought not to be seen or understood.

Hor. I must interrupt you, and cannot suffer you to go on thus. What is all this but the old story over again, that every thing is pride, and all we see hypocrisy, without proof or argument? Nothing in the world is more false than what you have advanced now; for, according to that, the most noble, the most gallant, and the best bred man would be the proudest; which is so clashing with daily experience, that the very reverse is true. Pride and insolence are no where more common than among upstarts; men of no family, that raise estates out of nothing, and the most ordinary people, that having had no education, are puffed up with their fortune whenever they are lifted up above mediocrity, and from mean stations advanced to posts of honour: whereas, no men upon earth, generally speaking, are more courteous, humane, or polite, than persons of high birth, that enjoy the large possessions and known seats of their ancestors; men illustrious by descent, that have been used to grandeur and titles of honour from their infancy, and received an education suitable to their quality. I do not believe there ever was a nation, that were not savages, in which the youth of both sexes were not expressly taught never to be proud or haughty: did you ever know a school, a tutor, or a parent, that did not continually inculcate to those under their care to be civil and obliging; nay, does not the word mannerly itself import as much?

Cleo. I beg of you, let us be calm, and speak with exactness. The doctrine of good manners furnishes us with a thousand lessons, against the various appearances and outward symptoms of pride, but it has not one precept against the passion itself.

Hor. How is that? [306]

Cleo. No, not one against the passion itself; the conquest of it is never attempted, nor talked of in a gentleman’s education, where men are to be continually inspired and kept warm with the sense of their honour, and the inward value they must put upon themselves on all emergencies.

Hor. This is worth consideration, and requires time to be examined into; but where is your fine gentleman, the picture you promised?

Cleo. I am ready, and shall begin with his dwelling: Though he has several noble seats in different countries, yet I shall only take notice of his chief mansion-house that bears the name, and does the honours of the family: this is amply magnificent, and yet, commodious to admiration. His gardens are very extensive, and contain an infinite variety of pleasing objects: they are divided into many branches for divers purposes, and every where filled with improvements of art upon nature; yet a beautiful order and happy contrivance are conspicuous through every part; and though nothing is omitted to render them stately and delightful; the whole is laid out to the best advantage. Within doors, every thing bespeaks the grandeur and judgment of the master; and as no cost is spared any where to procure beauty or conveniency, so you see none impertinently lavished. All his plate and furniture are completely fine, and you see nothing but what is fashionable. He has no pictures but of the most eminent hands: the rarities he shows are really such; he hoards up no trifles, nor offers any thing to your sight that is shocking: but the several collections he has of this sort, are agreeable as well as extraordinary, and rather valuable than large: but curiosities and wealth are not confined to his cabinet; the marble and sculpture that are displayed up and down are a treasure themselves; and there is abundance of admirable gilding and excellent carving to be seen in many places. What has been laid out on the great hall, and one gallery, would be a considerable estate; and there is a salloon and a stair-case not inferior to either; these are all very spacious and lofty; the architecture of them is of the best taste, and the decorations surprising. Throughout the whole there appears a delicate mixture and astonishing variety of lively embellishments, the splendour of which, joined to a perfect cleanliness, no where neglected, are highly entertaining to the most careless and least observing eye; whilst the exactness of the workmanship bestowed on every part of the meanest [307]utensil, gives a more solid satisfaction, and is ravishing to the curious. But the greatest excellency in this model of perfection is this; that as in the most ordinary rooms there is nothing wanting for their purpose, and the least passage is handsomely finished; so in those of the greatest eclat there is nothing overcharged, nor any part of them encumbered with ornaments.

Hor. This is a studied piece; but I do not like it the worse for it, pray go on.

Cleo. I have thought of it before, I own. His equipage is rich and well chosen, and there is nothing to be seen about him that art or expence, within the compass of reason, could make better. At his own table his looks are ever jovial; and his heart seems to be as open as his countenance. His chief business there is to take care of others, without being troublesome; and all his happiness seems to consist in being able to please his friends: in his greatest mirth, he is wanting in respect to no man; and never makes use of abbreviations in names, or unhandsome familiarities with the meanest of his guests. To every one that speaks to him, he gives an obliging attention, and seems never to disregard any thing but what is said in commendation of his fare: he never interrupts any discourse but what is made in his praise, and seldom assents to any encomiums, though the most equitable that are made on any thing that is his. When he is abroad he never spies faults; and whatever is amiss, he either says nothing, or, in answer to the complaints and uneasiness of others, gives every thing the best-natured turn it can bear; but he seldom leaves a house before he finds out something to extol in it, without wronging his judgment. His conversation is always facetious and good-humoured, but as solid as it is diverting. He never utters a syllable that has the least tincture of obscenity or profaneness; nor ever made a jest that was offensive.

Hor. Very fine!

Cleo. He seems to be entirely free from bigotry and superstition, avoids all disputes about religion; but goes constantly to church, and is seldom absent from his family devotions.

Hor. A very godly gentleman!

Cleo. I expected we should differ there.

Hor. I do not find fault. Proceed, pray.

Cleo. As he is a man of erudition himself, so he is a promoter of arts and sciences; he is a friend to merit, a rewarder [308]of industry, and a professed enemy to nothing but immorality and oppression. Though no man’s table is better furnished, nor cellars better stored; he is temperate in his eating, and never commits excess in drinking: though he has an exquisite palate, he always prefers wholesome meats to those that are delicious only, and never indulges his appetite in any thing that might probably be prejudicial to his health.

Hor. Admirably good!

Cleo. As he is in all other things, so he is elegant in his clothes, and has often new ones: neatness he prefers to finery in his own dress; but his retinue is rich. He seldom wears gold or silver himself, but on very solemn occasions, in compliment to others; and to demonstrate that these pompous habits are made for no other purpose, he is never seen twice in the same; but having appeared in them one day, he gives them away the next. Though of every thing he has the best of the sort, and might be called curious in apparel; yet he leaves the care of it to others; and no man has his clothes put on better that seem so little to regard them.

Hor. Perfectly right; to be well dressed is a necessary article, and yet to be solicitous about it is below a person of quality.

Cleo. Therefore he has a domestic of good taste, a judicious man, who saves him that trouble; and the management likewise of his lace and linen, is the province of a skilful woman. His language is courtly, but natural and intelligible; it is neither low nor bombastic, and ever free from pedantic and vulgar expressions. All his motions are genteel without affectation; his mien is rather sedate than airy, and his manner noble: for though he is ever civil and condescending, and no man less arrogant, yet in all his carriage there is something gracefully majestic; and as there is nothing mean in his humility, so his loftiness has nothing disobliging.

Hor. Prodigiously good!

Cleo. He is charitable to the poor; his house is never shut to strangers; and all his neighbours he counts to be his friends. He is a father to his tenants; and looks upon their welfare as inseparable from his interest. No man is less uneasy at little offences, or more ready to forgive all trespasses without design. The injuries that are suffered from other landlords, he turns into benefits; and whatever damages, great or small, are sustained on his account, either from his [309]diversions or otherwise, he doubly makes good. He takes care to be early informed of such losses, and commonly repairs them before they are complained of.

Hor. Oh rare humanity; hearken ye foxhunters!

Cleo. He never chides any of his people; yet no man is better served; and though nothing is wanting in his housekeeping, and his family is very numerous, yet the regularity of it is no less remarkable than the plenty they live in. His orders he will have strictly obeyed; but his commands are always reasonable, and he never speaks to the meanest footman without regard to humanity. Extraordinary diligence in servants, and all laudable actions he takes notice of himself, and often commends them to their faces; but leaves it to his steward to reprove or dismiss those he dislikes.

Hor. Well judged.

Cleo. Whoever lives with him is taken care of in sickness as well as in health. The wages he gives are above double those of other masters; and he often makes presents to those that are more than ordinary observing and industrious to please: but he suffers nobody to take a penny of his friends or others, that come to his house, on any account whatever. Many faults are connived at, or pardoned for the first time, but a breach of this order is ever attended with the loss of their places as soon as it is found out; and there is a premium for the discovery.

Hor. This is the only exceptionable thing, in my opinion, that I have heard yet.

Cleo. I wonder at that: why so, pray?

Hor. In the first place, it is very difficult to enforce obedience to such a command; secondly, if it could be executed, it would be of little use; unless it could be made general, which is impossible: and therefore I look upon the attempt of introducing this maxim to be singular and fantastical. It would please misers and others, that would never follow the example at home; but it would take away from generous men a handsome opportunity of showing their liberal and beneficent disposition: besides, it would manifestly make ones house too open to all sorts of people.

Cleo. Ways might be found to prevent that; but then it would be a blessing, and do great kindness to men of parts and education, that have little to spare, to many of whom this money to servants is a very grievous burden. [310]

Hor. What you mention is the only thing that can be said for it, and I own, of great weight: but I beg your pardon for interrupting you.

Cleo. In all his dealings he is punctual and just. As he has an immense estate, so he has good managers to take care of it: but though all his accounts are very neatly kept, yet he makes it part of his business to look them over himself. He suffers no tradesman’s bill to lie by unexamined; and though he meddles not with his ready cash himself, yet he is a quick and cheerful, as well as an exact paymaster; and the only singularity he is guilty of, is, that he never will owe any thing on a new-year’s day.

Hor. I like that very well.

Cleo. He is affable with discretion, of easy access, and never ruffled with passion. To sum up all, no man seems to be less elevated with his condition than himself; and in the full enjoyment of so many personal accomplishments, as well as other possessions, his modesty is equal to the rest of his happiness; and in the midst of the pomp and distinction he lives in, he never appears to be entertained with his greatness, but rather unacquainted with the things he excels in.

Hor. It is an admirable character, and pleases me exceedingly; but I will freely own to you, that I should have been more highly delighted with the description, if I had not known your design, and the use you intend to make of it; which, I think, is barbarous: to raise so fine, so elegant, and so complete an edifice, in order to throw it down, is taking great pains to show one’s skill in doing mischief. I have observed the several places where you left room for evasions, and lapping the foundation you have built upon. His heart seems to be as open; and he never appears to be entertained with his greatness, I am persuaded, that wherever you have put in this seeming and appearing, you have done it designedly, and with an intent to make use of them as so many back doors to creep out at. I could never have taken notice of these things, if you had not acquainted me with your intention before hand.

Cleo. I have made use of the caution you speak of: but with no other view than to avoid just censure and prevent your accusing me of incorrectness, or judging with too much precipitation; if it should be proved afterwards, that this gentleman had acted from an ill principle, which is the thing I own I purposed to convince you of; but seeing, that it [311]would be unpleasant to you, I will be satisfied with having given you some small entertainment of the description, and for the rest, I give you leave to think me in the wrong.

Hor. Why so? I thought the character was made and contrived on purpose for my instruction.

Cleo. I do not pretend to instruct you: I would have offered something, and appealed to your judgment; but I have been mistaken, and plainly see my error. Both last night and now, when we began our discourse, I took you to be in another disposition of thinking than I perceive you are. You spoke of an impression that had been made upon you, and of looking into yourself, and gave some other hints, which too rashly I misconstrued in my favour; but I have found since, that you are as warm as ever against the sentiments I profess myself to be of; and therefore I will desist. I expect no pleasure from any triumph, and I know nothing that would vex me more, than the thoughts of disobliging you. Pray let us do in this as we do in another matter of importance, never touch upon it: friends in prudence should avoid all subjects in which they are known essentially to differ. Believe me, Horatio, if it was in my power to divert or give you any pleasure, I would grudge no pains to compass that end: but to make you uneasy, is a thing that I shall never be knowingly guilty of, and I beg a thousand pardons for having said so much both yesterday and to-day. Have you heard any thing from Gibraltar?

Hor. I am ashamed of my weakness and your civility: you have not been mistaken in the hints you speak of; what you have said has certainly made a great impression upon me, and I have endeavoured to examine myself: but, as you say, it is a severe task to do it faithfully. I desired you to dine with me on purpose, that we might talk of these things. It is I that have offended, and it is I that ought to ask pardon for the ill manners I have been guilty of; but you know the principles I have always adhered to; it is impossible to recede from them at once. I see great difficulties, and now and then a glimpse of truth, that makes me start: I sometimes feel great struggles within; but I have been so used to derive all actions that are really good from laudable motives, that as soon as I return to my accustomed way of thinking, it carries all before it. Pray bear with my infirmities. I am in love with your fine gentleman, and I confess, I cannot see how a person so universally good, so far remote [312]from all selfishness, can act in such an extraordinary manner every way, but from principles of virtue and religion. Where is there such a landlord in the world? If I am in an error, I shall be glad to be undeceived. Pray inform me, and say what you will, I promise you to keep my temper, and I beg of you speak your mind with freedom.

Cleo. You have bid me before say what I would, and when I did, you seemed displeased; but since you command me I will try once more.——Whether there is or ever was such a man as I have described, in the world, is not very material: but I will easily allow, that most people would think it less difficult to conceive one, than to imagine that such a clear and beautiful stream could flow from so mean and muddy a spring, as an excessive thirst after praise, and an immoderate desire of general applause from the most knowing judges; yet it is certain, that great parts and extraordinary riches may compass all this in a man, who is not deformed, and has had a refined education; and that there are many persons naturally no better than a thousand others, who by the helps mentioned, might attain to those good qualities and accomplishments, if they had but resolution and perseverance enough, to render every appetite and every faculty subservient to that one predominant passion, which, if continually gratified, will always enable them to govern, and, if required, to subdue all the rest without exception, even in the most difficult cases.

Hor. To enter into an argument concerning the possibility of what you say, might occasion a long dispute; but the probability, I think, is very clear against you, and if there was such a man, it would be much more credible, that he acted from the excellency of his nature, in which so many virtues and rare endowments were assembled, than that all his good qualities sprung from vicious motives. If pride could be the cause of all this, the effect of it would sometimes appear in others. According to your system, there is no scarcity of it, and there are men of great parts and prodigious estates all over Europe: why are there not several such patterns to be seen up and down, as you have drawn as one; and why is it so very seldom, that many virtues and good qualities are seen to meet in one individual?

Cleo. Why so few persons, though there are so many men of immense fortune, ever arrive at any thing like this high pitch of accomplishments; there are several reasons that are [313]very obvious. In the first place, men differ in temperament: some are naturally of an active, stirring; others of an indolent, quiet disposition; some of a bold, others of a meek spirit. In the second, it is to be considered, that this temperament in men come to maturity is more or less conspicuous, according as it has been either checked or encouraged by education. Thirdly, that on these two depend the different perception men have of happiness, according to which the love of glory determines them different ways. Some think it the greatest felicity to govern and rule over others: some take the praise of bravery and undauntedness in dangers to be the most valuable: others, erudition, and to be a celebrated author: so that, though they all love glory, they set out differently to acquire it. But a man who hates a bustle, and is naturally of a quiet easy temper, and which has been encouraged in him by education, it is very likely might think nothing more desirable than the character of a fine gentleman; and if he did, I dare say that he would endeavour to behave himself pretty near the pattern I have given you; I say pretty near, because I may have been mistaken in some things, and as I have not touched upon every thing, some will say, that I have left out several necessary ones: but in the main I believe, that in the country and age we live in, the qualifications I have named would get a man the reputation I have supposed him to desire.

Hor. Without doubt, I make no manner of scruple about what you said last; and I told you before that it was an admirable character, and pleased me exceedingly. That I took notice of your making your gentleman so very godly as you did, was because it is not common; but I intended it not as a reflection. One thing, indeed, there was in which I differed from you; but that was merely speculative; and, since I have reflected on what you have answered me, I do not know but I may be in the wrong, as I should certainly believe myself to be, if there really was such a man, and he was of the contrary opinion: to such a fine genius I would pay an uncommon deference, and with great readiness submit my understanding to his superior capacity. But the reasons you give why those effects which you ascribe to pride, are not more common, the cause being so universal, I think are insufficient. That men are prompted to follow different ends, as their inclinations differ, I can easily allow; but there are great numbers of rich men that are likewise of [314]a quiet and indolent disposition, and moreover very desirous of being thought fine gentlemen. How comes it, that among so many persons of high birth, princely estates, and the most refined education, as there are in Christendom, that study, travel, and take great pains to be well accomplished, there is not one, to whom all the good qualities, and every thing you named, could be applied without flattery?

Cleo. It is very possible that thousands may aim at this, and not one of them succeed to that degree: in some, perhaps the predominant passion is not strong enough entirely to subdue the rest: love or covetousness may divert others: drinking, gaming, may draw away many, and break in upon their resolution; they may not have strength to persevere in a design, and steadily to pursue the same ends; or they may want a true taste or knowledge of what is esteemed by men of judgment; or, lastly, they may not be so thoroughly well-bred, as is required to conceal themselves on all emergencies: for the practical part of dissimulation is infinitely more difficult than the theory: and any one of these obstacles is sufficient to spoil all, and hinder the finishing of such a piece.

Hor. I shall not dispute that with you: but all this while you have proved nothing; nor given the least reason why you should imagine, that a man of a character, to all outward appearance so bright and beautiful, acted from vicious motives. You would not condemn him without so much as naming the cause why you suspect him.

Cleo. By no means; nor have I advanced any thing that is ill natured or uncharitable: for I have not said, that if I found a gentleman in possession of all the things I mentioned, I would give his rare endowments this turn, and think all his perfections derived from no better stock, than an extraordinary love of glory. What I argue for, and insist upon, is, the possibility that all these things might be performed by a man from no other views, and with no other helps, than those I have named: nay, I believe moreover, that a gentleman so accomplished, all his knowledge and great parts notwithstanding, may himself be ignorant, or at least not well assured of the motive he acts from.

Hor. This is more unintelligible than any thing you have said yet; why will you heap difficulties upon one another, without solving any? I desire you would clear up this last paradox, before you do any thing else. [315]

Cleo. In order to obey you, I must put you in mind of what happens in early education, by the first rudiments of which, infants are taught in the choice of actions to prefer the precepts of others to the dictates of their own inclinations; which, in short, is no more than doing as they are bid. To gain this point, punishments and rewards are not neglected, and many different methods are made use of; but it is certain, that nothing proves more often effectual for this purpose, or has a greater influence upon children, than the handle that is made of shame; which, though a natural passion, they would not be sensible of so soon, if we did not artfully rouse and stir it up in them, before they can speak or go: by which means, their judgment being then weak, we may teach them to be ashamed of what we please, as soon as we can perceive them to be any ways affected with the passion itself: but as the fear of shame is very insignificant, where there is but little pride, so it is impossible to augment the first, without increasing the latter in the same proportion.

Hor. I should have thought that this increase of pride would render children more stubborn and less docile.

Cleo. You judge right; it would so, and must have been a great hinderance to good manners, till experience taught men, that though pride was not to be destroyed by force, it might be governed by stratagem, and that the best way to manage it, is by playing the passion against itself. Hence it is, that in an artful education, we are allowed to place as much pride as we please in our dexterity of concealing it. I do not suppose, that this covering ourselves, notwithstanding the pride we take in it, is performed without a difficulty that is plainly felt, and perhaps very unpleasant at first; but this wears off as we grow up; and when a man has behaved himself with so much prudence as I have described, lived up to the strictest rules of good-breeding for many years, and has gained the esteem of all that know him, when this noble and polite manner is become habitual to him, it is possible he may in time forget the principle he set out with, and become ignorant, or at least insensible of the hidden spring that gives life and motion to all his actions.

Hor. I am convinced of the great use that may be made of pride, if you will call it so; but I am not satisfied yet, how a man of so much sense, knowledge, and penetration, one that understands himself so entirely well, should be ignorant of his own heart, and the motives he acts from. [316]What is it that induces you to believe this, besides the possibility of his forgetfulness?

Cleo. I have two reasons for it, which I desire may be seriously considered. The first is, that in what relates to ourselves, especially our own worth and excellency, pride blinds the understanding in men of sense and great parts as well as in others, and the greater value we may reasonably set upon ourselves, the fitter we are to swallow the grossest flatteries, in spite of all our knowledge and abilities in other matters: witness Alexander the Great, whose vast genius could not hinder him from doubting seriously, whether he was a god or not. My second reason will prove to us, that if the person in question was capable of examining himself, it is yet highly improbable, that he would ever set about it: for, it must be granted, that, in order to search into ourselves, it is required we should be willing as well as able; and we have all the reason in the world to think, that there is nothing which a very proud man of such high qualifications would avoid more carefully than such an inquiry: because, for all other acts of self-denial, he is repaid in his darling passion; but this alone is really mortifying, and the only sacrifice of his quiet for which he can have no equivalent. If the hearts of the best and sincerest men are corrupt and deceitful, what condition must theirs be in, whose whole life is one continued scene of hypocrisy! therefore inquiring within, and boldly searching into ones own bosom, must be the most shocking employment, that a man can give his mind to, whose greatest pleasure consists in secretly admiring himself. It would be ill manners, after this, to appeal to yourself; but the severity of the task——

Hor. Say no more, I yield this point, though I own I cannot conceive what advantage you can expect from it: for, instead of removing, it will rather help to increase the grand difficulty, which is to prove, that this complete person you have described, acts from a vicious motive: and if that be not your design, I cannot see what you drive at.

Cleo. I told you it was.

Hor. You must have a prodigious sagacity in detecting abstruse matters before other men.

Cleo. You wonder, I know, which way I arrogate to myself such a superlative degree of penetration, as to know an artful cunning man better than he does himself, and how I dare pretend to enter and look into a heart, which I have [317]owned to be completely well concealed from all the world; which in strictness is an impossibility, and consequently not to be bragged of but by a coxcomb.

Hor. You may treat yourself as you please, I have said no such thing; but I own that I long to see it proved, that you have this capacity. I remember the character very well: Notwithstanding the precautions you have taken, it is very full: I told you before, that where things have a handsome appearance every way, there can be no just cause to suspect them. I will stick close to that; your gentleman is all of a piece: You shall alter nothing, either by retracting any of the good qualities you have given him, or making additions that are either clashing with, or unsuitable to what you have allowed already.

Cleo. I shall attempt neither: And without that decisive trials may be made, by which it will plainly appear whether a person acts from inward goodness, and a principle of religion, or only from a motive of vain glory; and, in the latter case, there is an infallible way of dragging the lurking fiend from his darkest recesses into a glaring light, where all the world shall know him.

Hor. I do not think myself a match for you in argument; but I have a great mind to be your gentleman’s advocate against all your infallibility: I never liked a cause better in my life. Come, I undertake to defend him in all the suppositions you can make that are reasonable and consistent with what you have said before.

Cleo. Very well: let us suppose what may happen to the most inoffensive, the most prudent, and best-bred man; that our fine gentleman differs in opinion before company, with another, who is his equal in birth and quality, but not so much master over his outward behaviour, and less guarded in his conduct; let this adversary, mal á propos, grow warm, and seem to be wanting in the respect that is due to the other, and reflect on his honour in ambiguous terms. What is your client to do?

Hor. Immediately to ask for an explanation.

Cleo. Which, if the hot man disregards with scorn, or flatly refuses to give, satisfaction must be demanded, and tilt they must.

Hor. You are too hasty: it happened before company; in such cases, friends, or any gentlemen present, should interpose and take care, that if threatening words ensue, they [318]are, by the civil authority, both put under arrest; and before they came to uncourteous language, they ought to have been parted by friendly force, if it were possible. After that, overtures may be made of reconciliation with the nicest regard to the point of honour.

Cleo. I do not ask for directions to prevent a quarrel; what you say may be done, or it may not be done: The good offices of friends may succeed, and they may not succeed. I am to make what suppositions I think fit within the verge of possibility, so they are reasonable and consistent with the character I have drawn: can we not suppose these two persons in such a situation that you yourself would advise your friend to send his adversary a challenge?

Hor. Without doubt such a thing may happen.

Cleo. That is enough. After that a duel must ensue, in which, without determining any thing, the fine gentleman, we will say, behaves himself with the utmost gallantry.

Hor. To have suspected or supposed otherwise would have been unreasonable.

Cleo. You see, therefore, how fair I am. But what is it, pray, that so suddenly disposes a courteous sweet-tempered man, for so small an evil, to seek a remedy of that extreme violence? But above all, what is it that buoys up and supports him against the fear of death? for there lies the greatest difficulty.

Hor. His natural courage and intrepidity, built on the innocence of his life, and the rectitude of his manners.

Cleo. But what makes so just and prudent a man, that has the good of society so much at heart, act knowingly against the laws of his country?

Hor. The strict obedience he pays to the laws of honour, which are superior to all others.

Cleo. If men of honour would act confidently, they ought all to be Roman Catholics.

Hor. Why, pray?

Cleo. Because they prefer oral tradition to all written laws: for nobody can tell when, in what king’s or emperor’s reign, in what country, or by what authority these laws of honour were first enacted: it is very strange they should be of such force.

Hor. They are wrote and engraved in every ones breast that is a man of honour: there is no denying of it; you are conscious of it yourself; every body feels it within. [319]

Cleo. Let them be wrote or engraved wherever you please, they are directly opposite to and clashing with the laws of God; and if the gentleman I described was as sincere in his religion as he appeared to be, he must have been of an opinion contrary to yours; for Christians of all persuasions are unanimous in allowing the divine laws to be far above all other; and that all other considerations ought to give way to them. How, and under what pretence can a Christian, who is a man of sense, submit or agree to laws that prescribe revenge, and countenance murder; both which are so expressly forbid by the precepts of his religion?

Hor. I am no casuist: but you know, that what I say is true; and that, among persons of honour, a man would be laughed at, that should make such a scruple. Not but that I think killing a man to be a great sin, where it can be helped; and that all prudent men ought to avoid the occasion, as much as it is in their power. He is highly blameable who is the first aggressor, and gives the affront; and whoever enters upon it out of levity, or seeks a quarrel out of wantonness, ought to be hanged. Nobody would choose it, who is not a fool; and yet, when it is forced upon one, all the wisdom in the world cannot teach him how to avoid it. It has been my case you know: I shall never forget the reluctancy I had against it; but necessity has no law.

Cleo. I saw you that very morning, and you seemed to be sedate and void of passion: you could have no concern.

Hor. It is silly to show any at such times; but I know best what I felt; the struggle I had within was unspeakable: it is a terrible thing. I would then have given a considerable part of my estate, that the thing which forced me into it had not happened; and yet, upon less provocation, I would act the same part again to-morrow.

Cleo. Do you remember what your concern was chiefly about?

Hor. How can you ask? It is an affair of the highest importance that can occur in life; I was no boy; it was after we came from Italy; I was in my nine and twentieth year, had very good acquaintance, and was not ill received: a man of that age, in health and vigour, who has seven thousand a-year, and the prospect of being a peer of England, has no reason to quarrel with the world, or wish himself out of it. It is a very great hazard a man runs in a duel; besides the remorse and uneasiness one must feel as long as he lives, if he [320]has the misfortune of killing his adversary. It is impossible to reflect on all these things, and at the same time resolve to run those hazards (though there are other considerations of still greater moment), without being under a prodigious concern.

Cleo. You say nothing about the sin.

Hor. The thoughts of that, without doubt, are a great addition; but the other things are so weighty of themselves, that a man’s condition at such a time, is very perplexed without further reflection.

Cleo. You have now a very fine opportunity, Horatio, of looking into your heart, and with a little of my assistance, examining yourself. If you can condescend to this, I promise you that you shall make great discoveries, and be convinced of truths you are now unwilling to believe. A lover of justice and probity, as you are, ought not to be fond of a road of thinking, where he is always forced to skulk, and never dares to meet with light or reason. Will you suffer me to ask you some questions, and will you answer them directly and in good humour?

Hor. I will, without reserve.

Cleo. Do you remember the storm upon the coast of Genoa?

Hor. Going to Naples? Very well; it makes me cold to think of it.

Cleo. Was you afraid?

Hor. Never more in my life: I hate that fickle element; I cannot endure the sea.

Cleo. What was you afraid of?

Hor. That is a pretty question: do you think a young fellow of six-and-twenty, as I was then, and in my circumstances, had a great mind to be drowned? The captain himself said we were in danger.

Cleo. But neither he nor any body else discovered half so much fear and anxiety as you did.

Hor. There was nobody there, yourself excepted, that had half a quarter so much to lose as I had: besides, they are used to the sea; storms are familiar to them. I had never been at sea before, but that fine afternoon we crossed from Dover to Calais.

Cleo. Want of knowledge or experience may make men apprehend danger where there is none; but real dangers, when they are known to be such, try the natural courage of [321]all men; whether they have been used to them or not: sailors are as unwilling to lose their lives as other people.

Hor. I am not ashamed to own, that I am a great coward at sea: give me terra firma, and then—

Cleo. Six or seven months after you fought that duel, I remember you had the small-pox; you was then very much afraid of dying.

Hor. Not without a cause.

Cleo. I heard your physicians say, that the violent apprehension you was under, hindered your sleep, increased your fever, and was as mischievous to you as the distemper itself.

Hor. That was a terrible time; I am glad it is over: I had a sister died of it. Before I had it, I was in perpetual dread of it, and many times to hear it named only has made me uneasy.

Cleo. Natural courage is a general armour against the fear of death, whatever shape that appears in, Si fractus illabatur erbis. It supports a man in tempestuous seas, and in a burning fever, whilst he is in his senses, as well as in a siege before a town, or in a duel with seconds.

Hor. What! you are going to show me, that I have no courage.

Cleo. Far from it; it would be ridiculous to doubt a man’s bravery, that has shown it in such an extraordinary manner as you have done more than once: what I question, is the epithet you joined to it at first, the word natural; for there is a great difference between that and artificial courage.

Hor. That is a chicane I will not enter into: but I am not of your opinion, as to what you said before. A gentleman is not required to show his bravery, but where his honour is concerned; and if he dares to fight for his king, his friend, his mistress, and every thing where his reputation is engaged, you shall think of him what you please for the rest. Besides, that in sickness and other dangers, as well as afflictions, where the hand of God is plainly to be seen, courage and intrepidity are impious as well as impertinent. Undauntedness in chastisements is a kind of rebellion: it is waging war with Heaven, which none but atheists and freethinkers would be guilty of; it is only they that can glory in impenitence, and talk of dying hard. All others that have any sense of religion, desire to repent before they go out of the world: the best of us do not always live, as we could wish to die. [322]

Cleo. I am very glad to hear you are so religious: but do not you perceive yet, how inconsistent you are with yourself: how can a man sincerely wish to repent, that wilfully plunges himself into a mortal sin, and an action where he runs a greater and more immediate hazard of his life, than he could have done in almost any other, without force or necessity?

Hor. I have over and over owned to you that duelling is a sin; and, unless a man is forced to it by necessity, I believe, a mortal one: but this was not my case, and therefore I hope God will forgive me: let them look to it that make a sport of it. But when a man comes to an action with the utmost reluctancy, and what he does is not possibly to be avoided, I think he then may justly be said to be forced to it, and to act from necessity. You may blame the rigorous laws of honour, and the tyranny of custom, but a man that will live in the world must, and is bound to obey them. Would not you do it yourself?

Cleo. Do not ask me what I would do: the question is, what every body ought to do. Can a man believe the Bible, and at the same time apprehend a tyrant more crafty or malicious, more unrelenting or inhuman than the devil, or a mischief worse than hell, and pains either more exquisite or more durable than torments unspeakable and yet everlasting? You do not answer. What evil is it? Think of it, and tell me what dismal thing it is you apprehend, should you neglect these laws, and despise that tyrant: what calamity could befall you? Let me know the worst that can be feared.

Hor. Would you be posted for a coward?

Cleo. For what? For not daring to violate all human and divine laws?

Hor. Strictly speaking you are in the right, it is unanswerable; but who will consider things in that light?

Cleo. All good Christians.

Hor. Where are they then? For all mankind in general would despise and laugh at a man, who should move those scruples. I have heard and seen clergymen themselves in company show their contempt of poltrons, whatever they might talk or recommend in the pulpit. Entirely to quit the world, and at once to renounce the conversation of all persons that are valuable in it, is a terrible thing to resolve upon. Would you become a town and table-talk? Could you submit to be the jest and scorn of public-houses, stage-coaches, and market-places? Is not this the certain fate of a [323]man, who should refuse to fight, or bear an affront without resentment? be just, Cleomenes; is it to be avoided? Must he not be made a common laughing-stock, be pointed at in the streets, and serve for diversion to the very children; to link-boys and hackney-coachmen? Is it a thought to be born with patience?

Cleo. How come you now to have such an anxious regard for what may be the opinion of the vulgar, whom at other times you so heartily despise?

Hor. All this is reasoning, and you know the thing will not bear it: how can you be so cruel?

Cleo. How can you be so backward in discovering and owning the passion, that is so conspicuously the occasion of all this, the palpable and only cause of the uneasiness we feel at the thoughts of being despised?

Hor. I am not sensible of any; and I declare to you, that I feel nothing that moves me to speak as I do, but the sense and principle of honour within me.

Cleo. Do you think that the lowest of the mob, and the scum of the people, are possessed of any part of this principle?

Hor. No, indeed.

Cleo. Or that among the highest quality, infants can be affected with it before they are two years old?

Hor. Ridiculous.

Cleo. If neither of these are affected with it, then honour should be either adventitious, and acquired by culture; or, if contained in the blood of those that are nobly born, imperceptible until the years of discretion; and neither of them can be said of the principle, the palpable cause I speak of. For we plainly see on the one hand, that scorn and ridicule are intolerable to the poorest wretches, and that there is no beggar so mean or miserable, that contempt will never offend him: on the other, that human creatures are so early influenced by the sense of shame; that children, by being laughed at and made a jest of, may be set a crying before they can well speak or go. Whatever, therefore, this mighty principle is, it is born with us, and belongs to our nature: are you unacquainted with the proper, genuine, homely name of it?

Hor. I know you call it pride. I will not dispute with you about principles and origins of things; but that high value which men of honour set upon themselves as such, and [324]which is no more than what is due to the dignity of our nature, when well cultivated, is the foundation of their character, and a support to them in all difficulties, that is of great use to the society. The desire, likewise, of being thought well of, and the love of praise and even of glory are commendable qualities, that are beneficial to the public. The truth of this is manifest in the reverse; all shameless people that are below infamy, and matter not what is said or thought of them, these, we see nobody can trust; they stick at nothing, and if they can but avoid death, pain, and penal laws, are always ready to execute all manner of mischief, their selfishness or any brutal appetite shall prompt them to, without regard to the opinion of others: such are justly called men of no principles, because they have nothing of any strength within, that can either spur them on to brave and virtuous actions, or restrain them from villany and baseness.

Cleo. The first part of your assertion is very true, when that high value, that desire, and that love are kept within the bounds of reason: But, in the second, there is a mistake; those whom we call shameless, are not more destitute of pride, than their betters. Remember what I have said of education, and the power of it; you may add inclinations, knowledge, and circumstances; for, as men differ in all these, so they are differently influenced and wrought upon by all the passions. There is nothing that some men may not be taught to be ashamed of. The same passion that makes the well-bred man, and prudent officer, value and secretly admire themselves for the honour and fidelity they display, may make the rake and scoundrel brag of their vices, and boast of their impudence.

Hor. I cannot comprehend, how a man of honour, and one that has none, should both act from the same principle.

Cleo. This is not more strange, than that self-love may make a man destroy himself, yet nothing is more true; and it is as certain, that some men indulge their pride in being shameless. To understand human nature, requires study and application, as well as penetration and sagacity. All passions and instincts in general, were given to all animals for some wise end, tending to the preservation and happiness of themselves, or their species: It is our duty to hinder them from being detrimental or offensive to any part of the society; but why should we be ashamed of having them? The instinct of high value, which every individual has for himself, [325]is a very useful passion: but a passion it is, and though I could demonstrate, that we should be miserable creatures without it, yet, when it is excessive, it often is the cause of endless mischiefs.

Hor. But in well-bred people it never is excessive.

Cleo. You mean the excess of it never appears outwardly: But we ought never to judge of its height or strength from what we can discover of the passion itself, but from the effects it produces: It often is most superlative, where it is most concealed; and nothing increases and influences it more, than what is called a refined education, and a continual commerce with the beau monde: The only thing that can subdue, or any ways curb it, is a strict adherence to the Christian religion.

Hor. Why do you so much insist upon it, that this principle, this value men set upon themselves, is a passion? And why will you choose to call it pride rather than honour?

Cleo. For very good reasons. Fixing this principle in human nature, in the first place, takes away all ambiguity: Who is a man of honour, and who is not, is often a disputable point; and, among those that are allowed to be such, the several degrees of strictness, in complying with the rules of it, make great difference in the principle itself. But a passion that is born with us is unalterable, and part of our frame, whether it exerts itself or not: The essence of it is the same, which way soever it is taught to turn. Honour is the undoubted offspring of pride, but the same cause produces not always the same effect. All the vulgar, children, savages, and many others that are not affected with any sense of honour, have all of them pride, as is evident from the symptoms. Secondly, it helps us to explain the phenomena that occur in quarrels and affronts, and the behaviour of men of honour on these occasions, which cannot be accounted for any other way. But what moves me to it most of all, is the prodigious force and exorbitant power of this principle of self esteem, where it has been long gratified and encouraged. You remember the concern you was under, when you had that duel upon your hands, and the great reluctancy you felt in doing what you did; you knew it to be a crime, and, at the same time, had a strong aversion to it; what secret power was it that subdued your will, and gained the victory over that great reluctancy you felt against it? You call it honour, and the too strict, though [326]unavoidable adherence to the rules of it: But men never commit violence upon themselves, but in struggling with the passions that are innate and natural to them. Honour is acquired, and the rules of it are taught: Nothing adventitious, that some are possessed, and others destitute of, could raise such intestine wars and dire commotions within us; and therefore, whatever is the cause that can thus divide us against ourselves, and, as it were, rend human nature in twain, must be part of us; and, to speak without disguise, the struggle in your breast was between the fear of shame and the fear of death: had this latter not been so considerable, your struggle would have been less: Still the first conquered, because it was strongest; but if your fear of shame had been inferior to that of death, you would have reasoned otherwise, and found out some means or other to have avoided fighting.

Hor. This is a strange anatomy of human nature.

Cleo. Yet, for want of making use of it, the subject we are upon is not rightly understood by many; and men have discoursed very inconsistently on duelling. A divine who wrote a dialogue to explode that practice, said, that those who were guilty of it, had mistaken notions of, and went by false rules of honour; for which my friend justly ridiculed him, saying, You may as well deny, that it is the fashion what you see every body wear, as to say, that demanding and giving satisfaction, is against the laws of true honour. Had that man understood human nature, he could not have committed such a blunder: But when once he took it for granted, that honour is a just and good principle, without inquiring into the cause of it among the passions, it is impossible he should have accounted for duelling, in a Christian pretending to act from such a principle; and therefore, in another place, with the same justice, he said, that a man who had accepted a challenge was not qualified to make his will, because he was not compos mentis: He might, with greater show of reason, have said, that he was bewitched.

Hor. Why so?

Cleo. Because people out of their wits, as they think at random, so commonly they act and talk incoherently; but when a man of known sobriety, and who shows no manner of discomposure, discourses and behaves himself in every thing, as he is used to do; and, moreover, reasons on points of great nicety with the utmost accuracy, it is impossible [327]we should take him to be either a fool or a madman; and when such a person, in an affair of the highest importance, acts so diametrically against his interest, that a child can see it, and with deliberation pursues his own destruction, those who believe that there are malignant spirits of that power, would rather imagine that he was led away by some enchantment, and over-ruled by the enemy of mankind, than they would fancy a palpable absurdity: But even the supposition of that is not sufficient to solve the difficulty, without the help of that strange anatomy. For what spell or witchcraft is there, by the delusion of which a man of understanding shall, keeping his senses, mistake an imaginary duty for an unavoidable necessity to break all real obligations? But let us wave all ties of religion, as well as human laws, and the person we speak of to be a professed Epicure, that has no thoughts of futurity; what violent power of darkness is it, that can force and compel a peaceable quiet man, neither inured to hardship, nor valiant by nature, to quit his beloved ease and security; and seemingly by choice go fight in cold blood for his life, with this comfortable reflection, that nothing forfeits it so certainly as the entire defeat of his enemy?

Hor. As to the law and the punishment, persons of quality have little to fear of that.

Cleo. You cannot say that in France, nor the Seven Provinces. But men of honour, that are of much lower ranks, decline duelling no more than those of the highest quality. How many examples have we, even here, of gallant men, that have suffered for it either by exile or the hangman! A man of honour must fear nothing: Do but consider every obstacle which this principle of self-esteem has conquered at one time or other; and then tell me whether it must not be something more than magic, by the fascination of which a man of taste and judgment, in health and vigour, as well as the flower of his age, can be tempted, and actually drawn from the embraces of a wife he loves, and the endearments of hopeful children, from polite conversation and the charms of friendship, from the fairest possessions and the happy enjoyment of all worldly pleasures, to an unwarrantable combat, of which the victor must be exposed either to an ignominious death, or perpetual banishment.

Hor. When things are set in this light, I confess it is very [328]unaccountable: but will your system explain this; can you make it clear yourself?

Cleo. Immediately, as the sun: If you will but observe two things, that must necessarily follow, and are manifest from what I have demonstrated already. The first is, that the fear of shame, in general, is a matter of caprice, that varies with modes and customs, and may be fixed on different objects, according to the different lessons we have received, and the precepts we are imbued with; and that this is the reason, why this fear of shame, as it is either well or ill placed, sometimes produces very good effects, and at others is the cause of the most enormous crimes. Secondly, that, though shame is a real passion, the evil to be feared from it is altogether imaginary, and has no existence but in our own reflection on the opinion of others.

Hor. But there are real and substantial mischiefs which a man may draw upon himself, by misbehaving in point of honour; it may ruin his fortune, and all hopes of preferment: An officer may be broken for putting up an affront: Nobody will serve with a coward, and who will employ him?

Cleo. What you urge is altogether out of the question; at least it was in your own case; you had nothing to dread or apprehend but the bare opinion of men. Besides, when the fear of shame is superior to that of death, it is likewise superior to, and outweighs all other considerations; as has been sufficiently proved: But when the fear of shame is not violent enough to curb the fear of death, nothing else can; and whenever the fear of death is stronger than that of shame, there is no consideration that will make a man fight in cold blood, or comply with any of the laws of honour, where life is at stake. Therefore, whoever acts from the fear of shame as a motive, in sending and accepting of challenges, must be sensible, on the one hand, that the mischiefs he apprehends, should he disobey the tyrant, can only be the offspring of his own thoughts; and, on the other, that if he could be persuaded anywise to lessen the great esteem and high value he sets upon himself, his dread of shame would likewise palpably diminish. From all which, it is most evident, that the grand cause of this distraction, the powerful enchanter we are seeking after, is pride, excess of pride, that highest pitch of self-esteem, to which some men may be wound up by an artful education, and the perpetual flatteries bestowed upon our species, and the excellencies of our nature. This is the [329]sorcerer, that is able to divert all other passions from their natural objects, and make a rational creature ashamed of what is most agreeable to his inclination, as well as his duty; both which the duellist owns, that he has knowingly acted against.

Hor. What a wonderful machine, what an heterogenous compound is man! You have almost conquered me.

Cleo. I aim at no victory, all I wish for is to do you service, in undeceiving you.

Hor. What is the reason that, in the same person, the fear of death should be so glaringly conspicuous in sickness, or a storm, and so entirely well hid in a duel, and all military engagements? Pray, solve that too.

Cleo. I will as well as I can: On all emergencies, where reputation is thought to be concerned, the fear of shame is effectually roused in men of honour, and immediately their pride rushes in to their assistance, and summons all their strength to fortify and support them in concealing the fear of death; by which extraordinary efforts, the latter, that is the fear of death, is altogether stifled, or, at least, kept out of sight, and remains undiscovered. But in all other perils, in which they do not think their honour engaged, their pride lies dormant. And thus the fear of death, being checked by nothing, appears without disguise. That this is the true reason, is manifest from the different behaviour that is observed in men of honour, according as they are either pretenders to Christianity; or tainted with irreligion; for there are of both sorts; and you shall see, most commonly at least, that your esprits forts, and those who would be thought to disbelieve a future state (I speak of men of honour), show the greatest calmness and intrepidity in the same dangers, where the pretended believers among them, appear to be the most ruffled and pusillanimous.

Hor. But why pretended believers? at that rate there are no Christians among the men of honour.

Cleo. I do not see how they can be real believers.

Hor. Why so?

Cleo. For the same reason that a Roman Catholic cannot be a good subject, always to be depended upon, in a Protestant, or indeed any other country, but the dominions of his Holiness. No sovereign can confide with safety in a man’s allegiance, who owns and pays homage to another superior power upon earth. I am sure you understand me.

Hor. Too well. [330]

Cleo. You may yoke a knight with a prebendary, and put them together into the same stall; but honour, and the Christian religion, make no couple, nec in unâ sede morantur, any more than majesty and love. Look back on your own conduct, and you shall find, that what you said of the hand of God was only a shift, an evasion you made to serve your then present purpose. On another occasion, you had said yesterday yourself, that Providence superintends and governs every thing without exception; you must, therefore, have known, that the hand of God is as much to be seen in one common accident in life, and in one misfortune, as it is in another, that is not more extraordinary. A severe fit of sickness may be less fatal, than a slight skirmish between two hostile parties; and, among men of honour, there is often as much danger in a quarrel about nothing, as there can be in the most violent storm. It is impossible, therefore, that a man of sense, who has a solid principle to go by, should, in one sort of danger, think it impiety not to show fear, and in another be ashamed to be thought to have any. Do but consider your own inconsistency with yourself. At one time, to justify your fear of death, when pride is absent, you become religious on a sudden, and your conscience then is so tenderly scrupulous, that, to be undaunted under chastisements from the Almighty, seems no less to you than waging war with Heaven; and, at another, when honour calls, you dare not knowingly and willingly break the most positive command of God, but likewise to own, that the greatest calamity which, in your opinion, can befal you, is, that the world should believe, or but suspect of you, that you had any scruple about it. I defy the wit of man to carry the affront to the Divine Majesty higher. Barely to deny his being, is not half so daring, as it is to do this after you have owned him to exist. No Atheism——

Hor. Hold, Cleomenes; I can no longer resist the force of truth, and I am resolved to be better acquainted with myself for the future. Let me become your pupil.

Cleo. Do not banter me, Horatio; I do not pretend to instruct a man of your knowledge; but if you will take my advice, search into yourself with care and boldness, and, at your leisure, peruse the book I recommended.

Hor. I promise you I will, and shall be glad to accept of the handsome present I refused: Pray, send a servant with it to-morrow morning. [331]

Cleo. It is a trifle. You had better let one of yours go with me now; I shall drive home directly.

Hor. I understand your scruple. It shall be as you please.




I thank you for your book.

Cleo. Your acceptance of it I acknowledge as a great favour.

Hor. I confess, that once I thought nobody could have persuaded me to read it; but you managed me very skilfully, and nothing could have convinced me so well as the instance of duelling: The argument, à majori ad minus, struck me, without your mentioning it. A passion that can subdue the fear of death, may blind a man’s understanding, and do almost every thing else.

Cleo. It is incredible what strange, various, unaccountable, and contradictory forms we may be shaped into by a passion, that is not to be gratified without being concealed, and never enjoyed with greater ecstacy than when we are most fully persuaded, that it is well hid: and therefore, there is no benevolence or good nature, no amiable quality or social virtue, that may not be counterfeited by it; and, in short, no achievement, good or bad, that the human body or mind are capable of, which it may not seem to perform. As to its blinding and infatuating the persons possessed with it to a high degree, there is no doubt of it: for what strength of reason, I pray, what judgment or penetration, has the greatest genius, if he pretends to any religion, to boast of, after he has owned himself to have been more terrified by groundless [332]apprehensions, and an imaginary evil from vain impotent men, whom he has never injured, than he was alarmed with the just fears of a real punishment from an all-wise and omnipotent God, whom he has highly offended?

Hor. But your friend makes no such religious reflections: he actually speaks in favour of duelling.

Cleo. What, because he would have the laws against it as severe as possible, and nobody pardoned, without exception, that offends that way?

Hor. That indeed seems to discourage it; but he shows the necessity of keeping up that custom, to polish and brighten society in general.

Cleo. Do not you see the irony there?

Hor. No, indeed: he plainly demonstrates the usefulness of it, gives as good reasons as it is possible to invent, and shows how much conversation would suffer, if that practice was abolished.

Cleo. Can you think a man serious on a subject, when he leaves it in the manner he does?

Hor. I do not remember that.

Cleo. Here is the book: I will look for the passage——Pray, read this.

Hor. It is strange, that a nation should grudge to see, perhaps, half a dozen men sacrificed in a twelvemonth, to obtain so valuable a blessing, as the politeness of manners, the pleasure of conversation, and the happiness of company in general, that is often so willing to expose, and sometimes loses as many thousands in a few hours, without knowing whether it will do any good or not. This, indeed, seems to be said with a sneer: but in what goes before he is very serious.

Cleo. He is so, when he says that the practice of duelling, that is the keeping up of the fashion of it, contributes to the politeness of manners and pleasure of conversation, and this is very true; but that politeness itself, and that pleasure, are the things he laughs at and exposes throughout his book.

Hor. But who knows, what to make of a man, who recommends a thing very seriously in one page, and ridicules it in the next?

Cleo. It is his opinion, that there is no solid principle to go by but the Christian religion, and that few embrace it with sincerity: always look upon him in this view, and you will never find him inconsistent with himself. Whenever at first [333]sight he seems to be so, look again, and upon nearer inquiry you will find, that he is only pointing at, or labouring to detect the inconsistency of others with the principles they pretend to.

Hor. He seems to have nothing less at heart than religion.

Cleo. That is true, and if he had appeared otherwise, he would never have been read by the people whom he designed his book for, the modern deists and all the beau monde: It is those he wants to come at. To the first he sets forth the origin and insufficiency of virtue, and their own insincerity in the practice of it: to the rest he shows the folly of vice and pleasure, the vanity of worldly greatness, and the hypocrisy of all those divines, who, pretending to preach the gospel, give and take allowances that are inconsistent with, and quite contrary to the precepts of it.

Hor. But this is not the opinion the world has of the book; it is commonly imagined, that it is wrote for the encouragement of vice, and to debauch the nation.

Cleo. Have you found any such thing in it?

Hor. To speak my conscience, I must confess, I have not: vice is exposed in it, and laughed at; but it ridicules war and martial courage, as well as honour and every thing else.

Cleo. Pardon me, religion is ridiculed in no part of it.

Hor. But if it is a good book, why then are so many of the clergy so much against it as they are?

Cleo. For the reason I have given you: my friend has exposed their lives, but he has done it in such a manner, that nobody can say he has wronged them, or treated them harshly. People are never more vexed, than when the thing that offends them, is what they must not complain of: they give the book an ill name because they are angry; but it is not their interest, to tell you the the true reason why they are so. I could draw you a parallel case that would clear up this matter, if you would have patience to hear me, which, as you are a great admirer of operas, I can hardly expect.

Hor. Any thing to be informed.

Cleo. I always had such an aversion to eunuchs, as no fine singing or acting of any of them has yet been able to conquer; when I hear a feminine voice, I look for a petticoat; and I perfectly loath the sight of those sexless animals. Suppose that a man with the same dislike to them had wit at will, and a mind to lash that abominable piece of luxury, by which men are taught in cold blood to spoil males for diversion, [334]and out of wantonness to make waste of their own species. In order to this, we will say, he takes a handle from the operation itself; he describes and treats it in the most inoffensive manner; then shows the narrow bounds of human knowledge, and the small assistance we can have, either from dissection or philosophy, or any part of the mathematics, to trace and penetrate into the cause à priori, why this destroying of manhood should have that surprising effect upon the voice; and afterwards demonstrates, how sure we are à posteriori, that it has a considerable influence, not only on the pharinx, the glands and muscles of the throat, but likewise the windpipe, and the lungs themselves, and in short on the whole mass of blood, consequently all the juices of the body, and every fibre in it. He might say likewise, that no honey, no preparations of sugar, raisins, or spermaceti; no emulsions, lozenges or other medicines, cooling or balsamic; no bleeding, no temperance or choice in eatables; no abstinence from women, from wine, and every thing that is hot, sharp or spirituous, were of that efficacy to preserve, sweeten, and strengthen the voice; he might insist upon it, that nothing could do this so effectually as castration. For a blind to his main scope, and to amuse his readers, he might speak of this practice, as made use of for other purposes; that it had been inflicted as a solemn punishment for analogous crimes; that others had voluntarily submitted to it, to preserve health and prolong life; whilst the Romans, by Cæsar’s testimony, thought it more cruel than death, morte gravius. How it had been used sometimes by way of revenge; and then say something in pity of poor Abelard; at other times for precaution; and then relate the story of Combabus and Stratonice: with scraps from Martial, Juvenal, and other poets, he might interlard it, and from a thousand pleasant things that have been said on the subject, he might pick out the most diverting to embellish the whole. His design being satire, he would blame our fondness for these castrati, and ridicule the age in which a brave English nobleman and a general officer, serves his country at the hazard of his life, a whole twelvemonth, for less pay than an Italian no-man of scoundrel extraction receives, for now and then singing a song in great safety, during only the winter-season. He would laugh at the caresses and the court that are made to them by persons of the first quality, who prostitute their familiarity with these most abject wretches, and [335]misplace the honour and civilities only due to their equals, on things that are no part of the creation, and owe their being to the surgeon; animals so contemptible, that they can curse their maker without ingratitude. If he should call this book, the Eunuch is the Man; as soon as I heard the title, before I saw the book, I should understand by it, that eunuchs were now esteemed, that they were in fashion and in the public favour, and considering that a eunuch is in reality not a man, I should think it was a banter upon eunuchs, or a satire against those, who had a greater value for them than they deserved. But if the gentlemen of the academy of music, displeased at the freedom they were treated with, should take it ill, that a paultry scribbler should interfere and pretend to censure their diversion, as well as they might; if they should be very angry, and study to do him a mischief, and accordingly, not having much to say in behalf of eunuchs, not touch upon any thing the author had said against their pleasure, but represent him to the world as an advocate for castration, and endeavour to draw the public odium upon him by quotations taken from him proper for that purpose, it would not be difficult to raise a clamour against the author, or find a grand jury to present his book.

Hor. The simile holds very well as to the injustice of the accusation, and the insincerity of the complaint; but is it as true, that luxury will render a nation flourishing, and that private vices are public benefits, as that castration preserves and strengthens the voice?

Cleo. With the restrictions my friend requires, I believe it is, and the cases are exactly alike. Nothing is more effectual to preserve, mend, and strengthen a fine voice in youth than castration: the question is not, whether this is true, but whether it is eligible; whether a fine voice is an equivalent for the loss, and whether a man would prefer the satisfaction of singing, and the advantages that may accrue from it, to the comforts of marriage, and the pleasure of posterity, of which enjoyments it destroys the possibility. In like manner, my friend demonstrates, in the first place, that the national happiness which the generality wish and pray for, is wealth and power, glory and worldly greatness; to live in ease, in affluence and splendour at home, and to be feared, courted, and esteemed abroad: in the second, that such a felicity is not to be attained to without avarice, profuseness, pride, envy, ambition, and other vices. The latter being [336]made evident beyond contradiction, the question is not, whether it is true, but whether this happiness is worth having at the rate it is only to be had at, and whether any thing ought to be wished for, which a nation cannot enjoy, unless the generality of them are vicious. This he offers to the consideration of Christians, and men who pretend to have renounced the world, with all the pomp and vanity of it.

Hor. How does it appear that the author addresses himself to such?

Cleo. From his writing it in English, and publishing it in London. But have you read it through yet?

Hor. Twice: there are many things I like very well, but I am not pleased with the whole.

Cleo. What objection have you against it?

Hor. It has diminished the pleasure I had in reading a much better book. Lord Shaftsbury is my favourite author: I can take delight in enthusiasm; but the charms of it cease as soon as I am told what it is I enjoy. Since we are such odd creatures, why should we not make the most of it?

Cleo. I thought you was resolved to be better acquainted with yourself, and to search into your heart with care and boldness.

Hor. That is a cruel thing; I tried it three times since I saw you last, till it put me into a sweat, and then I was forced to leave off.

Cleo. You should try again, and use yourself by degrees to think abstractly, and then the book will be a great help to you.

Hor. To confound me it will: it makes a jest of all politeness and good manners.

Cleo. Excuse me, Sir, it only tells us, what they are.

Hor. It tells us, that all good manners consist in flattering the pride of others, and concealing our own. Is not that a horrid thing?

Cleo. But is it not true?

Hor. As soon as I had read that passage, it struck me: down I laid the book, and tried in above fifty instances, sometimes of civility, and sometimes of ill manners, whether it would answer or not, and I profess that it held good in every one.

Cleo. And so it would if you tried till doomsday.

Hor. But is not that provoking? I would give a hundred [337]guineas with all my heart, that I did not know it. I cannot endure to see so much of my own nakedness.

Cleo. I never met with such an open enmity to truth in a man of honour before.

Hor. You shall be as severe upon me as you please; what I say is fact. But since I am got in so far, I must go through with it now: there are fifty things that I want to be informed about.

Cleo. Name them, pray; if I can be of any service to you, I shall reckon it as a great honour; I am perfectly well acquainted with the author’s sentiments.

Hor. I have twenty questions to ask about pride, and I do not know where to begin. There is another thing I do not understand; which is, that there can be no virtue without self-denial.

Cleo. This was the opinion of all the ancients. Lord Shaftsbury was the first that maintained the contrary.

Hor. But are there no persons in the world that are good by choice?

Cleo. Yes; but then they are directed in that choice by reason and experience, and not by nature, I mean, not by untaught nature: but there is an ambiguity in the word good which I would avoid; let us stick to that of virtuous, and then I affirm, that no action is such, which does not suppose and point at some conquest or other, some victory great or small over untaught nature; otherwise the epithet is improper.

Hor. But if by the help of a careful education, this victory is obtained, when we are young, may we not be virtuous afterwards voluntarily and with pleasure?

Cleo. Yes, if it really was obtained: but how shall we be sure of this, and what reason have we to believe that it ever was? when it is evident, that from our infancy, instead of endeavouring to conquer our appetites, we have always been taught, and have taken pains ourselves to conceal them; and we are conscious within, that whatever alterations have been made in our manners and our circumstances, the passions themselves always remained? The system that virtue requires to self-denial, is, as my friend has justly observed, a vast inlet to hypocrisy: it will, on all accounts, furnish men with a more obvious handle, and a greater opportunity of counterfeiting the love of society, and regard to the public, than ever they could have received from the contrary doctrine, [338]viz. that there is no merit but in the conquest of the passions, nor any virtue without apparent self-denial. Let us ask those that have had long experience, and are well skilled in human affairs, whether they have found the generality of men such impartial judges of themselves, as never to think better of their own worth than it deserved, or so candid in the acknowledgment of their hidden faults and slips, they could never be convinced of, that there is no fear they should ever stifle or deny them. Where is the man that has at no time covered his failings, and screened himself with false appearances, or never pretended to act from principles of social virtue, and his regard to others, when he knew in his heart that his greatest care had been to oblige himself? The best of us sometimes receive applause without undeceiving those who give it; though, at the same time, we are conscious that the actions, for which we suffer ourselves to be thought well of, are the result of a powerful frailty in our nature, that has often been prejudicial to us, and which we have wished a thousand times in vain, that we could have conquered. The same motives may produce very different actions, as men differ in temper and circumstances. Persons of an easy fortune may appear virtuous, from the same turn of mind that would show their frailty if they were poor. I£ we would know the world, we must look into it. You take no delight in the occurrences of low life; but if we always remain among persons of quality, and extend our inquiries no farther, the transactions there will not furnish us with a sufficient knowledge of every thing that belongs to our nature. There are, among the middling people, men of low circumstances, tolerably well educated, that set out with the same stock of virtues and vices, and though equally qualified, meet with very different success; visibly owing to the difference in their temper. Let us take a view of two persons bred to the same business, that have nothing but their parts and the world before them, launching out with the same helps and disadvantages: let there be no difference between them, but in their temper; the one active, and the other indolent. The latter will never get an estate by his own industry, though his profession be gainful, and himself master of it. Chance, or some uncommon accident, may be the occasion of great alterations in him, but without that he will hardly ever raise himself to mediocrity. Unless his pride affects him in an extraordinary manner, he must always be [339]poor, and nothing but some share of vanity can hinder him from being despicably so. If he be a man of sense, he will be strictly honest, and a middling stock of covetousness will never divert him from it. In the active stirring man, that is easily reconciled to the bustle of the world, we shall discover quite different symptoms, under the same circumstances; and a very little avarice will egg him on to pursue his aim with eagerness and assiduity: small scruples are no opposition to him; where sincerity will not serve, he uses artifice; and in compassing his ends, the greatest use he will make of his good sense will be, to preserve as much as is possible, the appearance of honesty; when his interest obliges him to deviate from it. To get wealth, or even a livelihood by arts and sciences, it is not sufficient to understand them: it is a duty incumbent on all men, who have their maintenance to seek, to make known and forward themselves in the world, as far as decency allows of, without bragging of themselves, or doing prejudice to others: here the indolent man is very deficient and wanting to himself; but seldom will own his fault, and often blames the public for not making use of him, and encouraging that merit, which they never were acquainted with, and himself perhaps took pleasure to conceal; and though you convince him of his error, and that he has neglected even the most warrantable methods of soliciting employment, he will endeavour to colour over his frailty with the appearance of virtue; and what is altogether owing to his too easy temper, and an excessive fondness for the calmness of his mind, he will ascribe to his modesty and the great aversion he has to impudence and boasting. The man of a contrary temper trusts not to his merit only, or the setting it off to the best advantage; he takes pains to heighten it in the opinion of others, and make his abilities seem greater than he knows them to be. As it is counted folly for a man to proclaim his own excellencies, and speak magnificently of himself, so his chief business is to seek acquaintance, and make friends on purpose to do it for him: all other passions he sacrifices to his ambition; he laughs at disappointments, is inured to refusals, and no repulse dismays him: this renders the whole man always flexible to his interest; he can defraud his body of necessaries, and allow no tranquillity to his mind; and counterfeit, if it will serve his turn, temperance, chastity, compassion, and piety itself, without one grain of virtue or religion: his endeavours to [340]advance his fortune per fas et nefas are always restless, and have no bounds, but where he is obliged to act openly, and has reason to fear the censure of the world. It is very diverting to see how, in the different persons I speak of, natural temper will warp and model the very passions to its own bias: pride, for example, has not the same, but almost a quite contrary effect on the one to what it has on the other: the stirring active man it makes in love with finery, clothes, furniture, equipages, building, and every thing his superiors enjoy: the other it renders sullen, and perhaps morose; and if he has wit, prone to satire, though he be otherwise a good-natured man. Self-love, in every individual, ever bestirs itself in soothing and flattering the darling inclination; always turning from us the dismal side of the prospect; and the indolent man in such circumstances, finding nothing pleasing without, turns his view inward upon himself; and there, looking on every thing with great indulgence, admires and takes delight in his own parts, whether natural or acquired: hence he is easily induced to despise all others who have not the same good qualifications, especially the powerful, and wealthy, whom yet he never hates or envies with any violence; because that would ruffle his temper. All things that are difficult he looks upon as impossible, which makes him despair of meliorating his condition; and as he has no possessions, and his gettings will but just maintain him in a low station of life, so his good sense, if he would enjoy so much as the appearance of happiness, must necessarily put him upon two things; to be frugal, and pretend to have no value for riches; for, by neglecting either, he must be blown up, and his frailty unavoidably discovered.

Hor. I am pleased with your observations, and the knowledge you display of mankind; but pray, is not the frugality you now speak of a virtue?

Cleo. I think not.

Hor. Where there is but a small income, frugality is built upon reason; and in this case there is an apparent self-denial, without which an indolent man that has no value for money cannot be frugal; and we see indolent men, that have no regard for wealth, reduced to beggary, as it often happens, it is most commonly for want of this virtue.

Cleo. I told you before, that the indolent man, setting out as he did, would be poor; and that nothing but some share of vanity could hinder him from being despicably so. [341]A strong fear of shame may gain so much upon the indolence of a man of sense, that he will bestir himself sufficiently to escape contempt; but it will hardly make him do any more; therefore he embraces frugality, as being instrumental and assisting to him in procuring his summum bonum, the darling quiet of his easy mind; whereas, the active man, with the same share of vanity, would do any thing rather than submit to the same frugality, unless his avarice forced him to it. Frugality is no virtue, when it is imposed upon us by any of the passions, and the contempt of riches is seldom sincere. I have known men of plentiful estates, that, on account of posterity, or other warrantable views of employing their money, were saving, and more penurious, than they would have been, if their wealth had been greater: but I never yet found a frugal man, without avarice or necessity. And again, there are innumerable spendthrifts, lavish and extravagant to a high degree, who seem not to have the least regard to money, whilst they have any to fling away: but these wretches are the least capable of bearing poverty of any, and the money once gone, hourly discover how uneasy, impatient, and miserable they are without it. But what several in all ages have made pretence to, the contempt of riches, is more scarce than is commonly imagined. To see a man of a very good estate, in health and strength of body and mind, one that has no reason to complain of the world or fortune, actually despise both, and embrace a voluntary poverty, for a laudable purpose, is a great rarity. I know but one in all antiquity, to whom all this may be applied with strictness of truth.

Hor. Who is that, pray?

Cleo. Anaxagoras of Clazomene in Ionia: He was very rich, of noble extraction, and admired for his great capacity: he divided and gave away his estate among his relations, and refused to meddle with the administration of public affairs that was offered him, for no other reason, than that he might have leisure for contemplation of the works of nature, and the study of philosophy.

Hor. To me it seems to be more difficult to be virtuous without money, than with: it is senseless for a man to be poor, when he can help it, and if I saw any body choose it, when he might as lawfully be rich, I would think him to be distracted. [342]

Cleo. But you would not think him so, if you saw him sell his estate, and give the money to the poor: you know where that was required.

Hor. It is not required of us.

Cleo. Perhaps not: but what say you to renouncing the world, and the solemn promise we have made of it?

Hor. In a literal sense that is impossible, unless we go out of it; and therefore I do not think, that to renounce the world signifies any more, than not to comply with the vicious, wicked part of it.

Cleo. I did not expect a more rigid construction from you, though it is certain, that wealth and power are great snares, and strong impediments to all Christian virtue: but the generality of mankind, that have any thing to lose, are of your opinion; and let us bar saints and madmen, we shall find every where, that those who pretend to undervalue, and are always haranguing against wealth, are generally poor and indolent. But who can blame them? They act in their own defence; nobody that could help it would ever be laughed at; for it must be owned, that of all the hardships of poverty, it is that which is the most intolerable.

Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se,

Quam quod ridiculos homines faciat.——

In the very satisfaction that is enjoyed by those who excel in, or are possessed of things valuable, there is interwoven a spice of contempt for others, that are destitute of them, which nothing keeps from public view, but a mixture of pity and good manners. Whoever denies this, let them consult within, and examine whether it is not the same with happiness, as what Seneca says of the reverse, nemo est miser nisi comparatus. The contempt and ridicule I speak of, is, without doubt, what all men of sense and education endeavour to avoid or disappoint. Now, look upon the behaviour of the two contrary tempers before us, and mind how differently they set about this talk, every one suitably to his own inclination. The man of action, you see, leaves no stone unturned to acquire quod oportet habere: but this is impossible for the indolent; he cannot stir; his idol ties him down hand and foot; and, therefore, the easiest, and, indeed the only thing he has left, is to quarrel with the world, and find out arguments to depreciate what others value themselves upon. [343]

Hor. I now plainly see, how pride and good sense must put an indolent man, that is poor, upon frugality; and likewise the reason, why they will make him affect to be content, and seem pleased with his low condition: for, if he will not be frugal, want and misery are at the door: and if he shows any fondness for riches, or a more ample way of living, he loses the only plea he has for his darling frailty, and immediately he will be asked, why he does not exert himself in a better manner? and he will be continually told of the opportunities he neglects.

Cleo. It is evident, then, that the true reasons, why men speak against things, are not always writ upon their foreheads.

Hor. But after all this quiet easy temper, this indolence you talk of, is it not what, in plain English, we call laziness?

Cleo. Not at all; it implies no sloth, or aversion to labour: an indolent man may be very diligent, though he cannot be industrious: he will take up with things below him, if they come in his way; he will work in a garret, or any where else, remote from public view, with patience and assiduity, but he knows not how to solicit and teaze others to employ him, or demand his due of a shuffling, designing master, that is either difficult of access, or tenacious of his money: if he be a man of letters, he will study hard for a livelihood, but generally parts with his labours at a disadvantage, and will knowingly sell them at an under-rate to an obscure man, who offers to purchase, rather than bear the insults of haughty booksellers, and be plagued with the sordid language of the trade. An indolent man may, by chance, meet with a person of quality, that takes a fancy to him; but he will never get a patron by his own address; neither will he ever be the better for it, when he has one, further than the unasked-for bounty, and downright generosity of his benefactor make him. As he speaks for himself with reluctancy, and is always afraid of asking favours, so, for benefits received, he shows no other gratitude, than what the natural emotions of his heart suggest to him. The striving, active man studies all the winning ways to ingratiate himself, and hunts after patrons with design and sagacity: whilst they are beneficial to him; he affects a perpetual sense of thankfulness; but all his acknowledgments of past obligations, he turns into solicitations for fresh favours: his complaisance may be engaging, and his flattery ingenious, but the heart is untouched: he has neither leisure, nor the power to love his benefactors: [344]the eldest he has, he will always sacrifice to a new one; and he has no other esteem for the fortune, the greatness, or the credit of a patron, than as he can make them subservient either to raise or maintain his own. From all this, and a little attention on human affairs, we may easily perceive, in the first place, that the man of action, and an enterprising temper, in following the dictates of his nature, must meet with more rubs and obstacles infinitely, than the indolent, and a multitude of strong temptations, to deviate from the rules of strict virtue, which hardly ever come in the other’s way; that, in many circumstances, he will be forced to commit such actions, for which, all his skill and prudence notwithstanding, he will, by some body or other, deservedly be thought to be an ill man; and that to end with a tolerable reputation, after a long course of life, he must have had a great deal of good fortune, as well as cunning. Secondly, that the indolent man may indulge his inclinations, and be as sensual as his circumstances may let him, with little offence or disturbance to his neighbour; that the excessive value he sets upon the tranquillity of his mind, and the grand aversion he has to part with it, must prove a strong curb to every passion, that comes uppermost; none of which, by this means, can ever affect him in any high degree, and consequently, that the corruption of his heart remaining, he may, with little art and no great trouble, acquire many valuable qualities, that shall have all the appearances of social virtues, whilst nothing extraordinary befals him. As to his contempt of the world, the indolent man perhaps will scorn to make his court, and cringe to a haughty favourite, that will browbeat him at first; but he will run with joy to a rich nobleman, that he is sure will receive him with kindness and humanity: With him he will partake, without reluctancy, of all the elegant comforts of life that are offered, the most expensive not excepted. Would you try him further, confer upon him honour and wealth in abundance. If this change in his fortune stirs up no vice that lay dormant before, as it may by rendering him either covetous or extravagant, he will soon conform himself to the fashionable world: Perhaps he will be a kind master, an indulgent father, a benevolent neighbour, munificent to merit that pleases him, a patron to virtue, and a wellwisher to his country; but for the rest, he will take all the pleasure he is capable of enjoying; stifle no passion he can calmly gratify, and, in the midst of a luxuriant [345]plenty, laugh heartily at frugality, and the contempt of riches and greatness he professed in his poverty; and cheerfully own the futility of those pretences.

Hor. I am convinced, that, in the opinion of virtue’s requiring self-denial, there is greater certainty, and hypocrites have less latitude than in the contrary system.

Cleo. Whoever follows his own inclinations, be they never so kind, beneficent, or human, never quarrel with any vice, but what is clashing with his temperament and nature; whereas those who act from a principle of virtue, take always reason for their guide, and combat, without exception, every passion that hinders them from their duty! The indolent man will never deny a just debt; but, if it be large, he will not give himself the trouble which, poor as he is, he might, and ought to take to discharge it, or, at least, satisfy his creditors, unless he is often dunned, or threatened to be sued for it. He will not be a litigious neighbour, nor make mischief among his acquaintance; but he will never serve his friend or his country, at the expence of his quiet. He will not be rapacious, oppress the poor, or commit vile actions for lucre; but then he will never exert himself, and be at the pains another would take on all opportunities, to maintain a large family, make provision for children, and promote his kindred and relations; and his darling frailty will incapacitate him from doing a thousand things for the benefit of the society, which, with the same parts and opportunities, he might, and would have done, had he been of another temper.

Hor. Your observations are very curious, and, as far as I can judge from what I have seen myself, very just and natural.

Cleo. Every body knows that there is no virtue so often counterfeited as charity, and yet so little regard have the generality of men to truth, that how gross and bare-faced soever the deceit is in pretences of this nature, the world never fails of being angry with, and hating those who detect or take notice of the fraud. It is possible, that, with blind fortune on his side, a mean shopkeeper, by driving a trade prejudicial to his country on the one hand, and grinding, on all occasions, the face of the poor on the other, may accumulate great wealth; which, in process of time, by continual scraping, and sordid saving, may be raised into an exorbitant, an unheard-of estate for a tradesman. Should such a [346]one, when old and decrepit, lay out the greatest part of his immense riches in the building, or largely endowing an hospital, and I was thoroughly acquainted with his temper and manners, I could have no opinion of his virtue, though he parted with the money, whilst he was yet alive; more especially, if I was assured, that, in his last will, he had been highly unjust, and had not only left unrewarded several, whom he had great obligations to, but likewise defrauded others, to whom, in his conscience, he knew that he was, and would die actually indebted. I desire you to tell me what name, knowing all I have said to be true, you would give to this extraordinary gift, this mighty donation!

Hor. I am of opinion, than when an action of our neighbour may admit of different constructions, it is our duty to side with, and embrace the most favourable.

Cleo. The most favourable constructions with all my heart: But what is that to the purpose, when all the straining in the world cannot make it a good one? I do not mean the thing itself, but the principle it came from, the inward motive of the mind that put him upon performing it; for it is that which, in a free agent, I call the action: And, therefore, call it what you please, and judge as charitably of it as you can, what can you say of it?

Hor. He might have had several motives, which I do not pretend to determine; but it is an admirable contrivance of being extremely beneficial to all posterity in this land, a noble provision that will perpetually relieve, and be an unspeakable comfort to a multitude of miserable people; and it is not only a prodigious, but likewise a well-concerted bounty that was wanting, and for which, in after ages, thousands of poor wretches will have reason to bless his memory, when every body else shall have neglected them.

Cleo. All that I have nothing against; and if you would add more, I shall not dispute it with you, as long as you confine your praises to the endowment itself, and the benefit the public is like to receive from it. But to ascribe it to, or suggest that it was derived from a public spirit in the man, a generous sense of humanity and benevolence to his kind, a liberal heart, or any other virtue or good quality, which it is manifest the donor was an utter stranger to, is the utmost absurdity in an intelligent creature, and can proceed from no other cause than either a wilful wronging of his own understanding, or else ignorance and folly. [347]

Hor. I am persuaded, that many actions are put off for virtuous, that are not so; and that according as men differ in natural temper, and turn of mind, so they are differently influenced by the same passions: I believe likewise, that these last are born with us, and belong to our nature; that some of them are in us, or at least the seeds of them, before we perceive them: but since they are in every individual, how comes it that pride is more predominant in some than it is in others? For from what you have demonstrated already, it must follow, that one person is more affected with the passion within than another; I mean, that one man has actually a greater share of pride than another, as well among the artful that are dexterous in concealing it, as among the ill-bred that openly show it.

Cleo. What belongs to our nature, all men may justly be said to have actually or virtually in them at their birth; and whatever is not born with us, either the thing itself, or that which afterwards produces it, cannot be said to belong to our nature: but as we differ in our faces and stature, so we do in other things, that are more remote from sight: but all these depend only upon the different frame, the inward formation of either the solids or the fluids; and there are vices of complexion, that are peculiar, some to the pale and phlegmatic, others to the sanguine and choleric: some are more lustful, others more fearful in their nature, than the generality are: but I believe of man, generally speaking, what my friend has observed of other creatures, that the best of the kind, I mean the best formed within, such as have the finest natural parts, are born with the greatest aptitude to be proud; but I am convinced, that the difference there is in men, as to the degrees of their pride, is more owing to circumstances and education, than any thing in their formation. Where passions are most gratified and least controlled, the indulgence makes them stronger; whereas those persons, that have been kept under, and whose thoughts have never been at liberty to rove beyond the first necessaries of life; such as have not been suffered, or had no opportunity to gratify this passion, have commonly the least share of it. But whatever portion of pride a man may feel in his heart, the quicker his parts are, the better his understanding is; and the more experience he has, the more plainly he will perceive the aversion which all men have to those that discover their pride: and the sooner persons are imbued with good manners, the sooner they grow [348]perfect in concealing that passion. Men of mean birth and education, that have been kept in great subjection, and consequently had no great opportunities to exert their pride, if ever they come to command others, have a sort of revenge mixed with that passion, which makes it often very mischievous, especially in places where they have no superiors or equals, before whom they are obliged to conceal the odious passion.

Hor. Do you think women have more pride from nature than men?

Cleo. I believe not: but they have a great deal more from education.

Hor. I do not see the reason: for among the better sort, the sons, especially the eldest, have as many ornaments and fine things given them from their infancy, to stir up their pride, as the daughters.

Cleo. But among people equally well-educated, the ladies have more flattery bestowed upon them, than the gentlemen, and it begins sooner.

Hor. But why should pride be more encouraged in women than in men?

Cleo. For the same reason, that it is encouraged in soldiers, more than it is in other people; to increase their fear of shame, which makes them always mindful of their honour.

Hor. But to keep both to their respective duties, why must a lady have more pride than a gentleman?

Cleo. Because the lady is in the greatest danger of straying from it; she has a passion within, that may begin to affect her at twelve, or thirteen, and perhaps sooner, and she has all the temptations of the men to withstand besides: she has all the artillery of our sex to fear; a seducer of uncommon address and resistless charms, may court her to what nature prompts and solicits her to do; he may add great promises, actual bribes; this may be done in the dark, and when nobody is by dissuade her. Gentlemen very seldom have occasion to show their courage before they are sixteen or seventeen years of age, and rarely so soon: they are not put to the trial, till, by conversing with men of honour, they are confirmed in their pride: in the affair of a quarrel they have their friends to consult, and these are so many witnesses of their behaviour, that awe them to their duty, and in a manner oblige them to obey the laws of honour: all these things conspire to increase their fear of shame; and if they can but [349]render that superior to the fear of death, their business is done; they have no pleasure to expect from breaking the rules of honour, nor any crafty tempter that solicits them to be cowards. That pride which is the cause of honour in men, only regards their courage; and if they can but appear to be brave, and will but follow the fashionable rules of manly honour, they may indulge all other appetites, and brag of incontinence without reproach: the pride likewise that produces honour in women, has no other object than their chastity; and whilst they keep that jewel entire, they can apprehend no shame: tenderness and delicacy are a compliment to them; and there is no fear of danger so ridiculous, but they may own it with ostentation. But notwithstanding the weakness of their frame, and the softness in which women are generally educated, if overcome by chance they have sinned in private, what real hazards will they not run, what torments will they not stifle, and what crimes will they not commit, to hide from the world that frailty, which they were taught to be most ashamed of!

Hor. It is certain, that we seldom hear of public prostitutes, and such as have lost their shame, that they murder their infants, though they are otherwise the most abandoned wretches: I took notice of this in the Fable of the Bees, and it is very remarkable.

Cleo. It contains a plain demonstration, that the same passion may produce either a palpable good or a palpable evil in the same person, according as self-love and his present circumstances shall direct; and that the same fear of shame, that makes men sometimes appear so highly virtuous, may at others oblige them to commit the most heinous crimes: that, therefore, honour is not founded upon any principle, either of real virtue or true religion, must be obvious to all that will but mind what sort of people they are, that are the greatest votaries of that idol, and the different duties it requires in the two sexes: in the first place, the worshippers of honour are the vain and voluptuous, the strict observers of modes and fashions, that take delight in pomp and luxury, and enjoy as much of the world as they are able: in the second, the word itself, I mean the sense of it, is so whimsical, and there is such a prodigious difference in the signification of it, according as the attribute is differently applied, either to a man or to a woman, that neither of them shall forfeit [350]their honour, though each should be guilty, and openly boast of what would be the others greatest shame.

Hor. I am sorry that I cannot charge you with injustice: but it is very strange; that to encourage and industriously increase pride in a refined education, should be the most proper means to make men solicitous in concealing the outward appearances of it.

Cleo. Yet nothing is more true; but where pride is so much indulged, and yet to be so carefully kept from all human view, as it is in persons of honour of both sexes, it would be impossible for mortal strength to endure the restraint, if men could not be taught to play the passion against itself, and were not allowed to change the natural home-bred symptoms of it, for artificial foreign ones.

Hor. By playing the passion against itself, I know you mean placing a secret pride in concealing the barefaced signs of it: but I do not rightly understand what you mean by changing the symptoms of it.

Cleo. When a man exults in his pride, and gives a loose to that passion, the marks of it are as visible in his countenance, his mien, his gait and behaviour, as they are in a prancing horse, or a strutting turkey-cock. These are all very odious; every one feeling the same principle within, which is the cause of those symptoms; and man being endued with speech, all the open expressions the same passion can suggest to him, must for the same reason be equally displeasing: these, therefore, have in all societies been strictly prohibited by common consent, in the very infancy of good manners; and men have been taught, in the room of them, to substitute other symptoms, equally evident with the first, but less offensive, and more beneficial to others.

Hor. Which are they?

Cleo. Fine clothes, and other ornaments about them, the cleanliness observed about their persons, the submissions that is required of servants, costly equipages, furniture, buildings, titles of honour, and every thing that men can acquire to make themselves esteemed by others, without discovering any of the symptoms that are forbid: upon a satiety of enjoying these, they are allowed likewise to have the vapours, and be whimsical, though otherwise they are known to be in health and of good sense. [351]

Hor. But since the pride of others is displeasing to us in every shape, and these latter symptoms, you say, are equally evident with the first, what is got by the change?

Cleo. A great deal: when pride is designedly expressed in looks and gestures, either in a wild or tame man, it is known by all human creatures that see it; it is the same, when vented in words, by every body that understands the language they are spoken in. These are marks and tokens that are all the world over the same: nobody shows them, but to have them seen and understood, and few persons ever display them without designing that offence to others, which they never fail to give: whereas, the other symptoms may be denied to be what they are; and many pretences, that they are derived from other motives, may be made for them, which the same good manners teach us never to refute, nor easily to disbelieve: in the very excuses that are made, there is a condescension that satisfies and pleases us. In those that are altogether destitute of the opportunities to display the symptoms of pride that are allowed of, the least portion of that passion is a troublesome, though often an unknown guest; for in them it is easily turned into envy and malice, and on the least provocation, it sallies out in those disguises, and is often the cause of cruelty; and there never was a mischief committed by mobs or multitudes, which this passion had not a hand in: whereas, the more room men have to vent and gratify the passion in the warrantable ways, the more easy it is for them to stifle the odious part of pride, and seem to be wholly free from it.

Hor. I see very well, that real virtues requires a conquest over untaught nature, and that the Christian religion demands a still stricter self-denial: it likewise is evident, that to make ourselves acceptable to an omniscient Power, nothing is more necessary than sincerity, and that the heart should be pure. But setting aside sacred matters, and a future state, do not you think that this complaisance and easy construction of one another’s actions, do a great deal of good upon earth; and do not you believe that good manners and politeness make men more happy, and their lives more comfortable in this world, than any thing else could make them without those arts?

Cleo. If you will set aside what ought to employ our first care, and be our greatest concern; and men will have no value for that felicity and peace of mind, which can only arise [352]from a consciousness of being good, it is certain, that in a great nation, and among a flourishing people, whose highest wishes seem to be ease and luxury, the upper part could not, without those arts, enjoy so much of the world as that can afford; and that none stand more in need of them than the voluptuous men of parts, that will join worldly prudence to sensuality, and make it their chief study to refine upon pleasure.

Hor. When I had the honour of your company at my house, you said that nobody knew when or where, nor in what king’s or emperor’s reign the laws of honour were enacted; pray, can you inform me when or which way, what we call good manners or politeness came into the world? what moralist or politician was it, that could teach men to be proud of hiding their pride?

Cleo. The resistless industry of man to supply his wants; and his constant endeavours to meliorate his condition upon earth, have produced and brought to perfection many useful arts and sciences, of which the beginnings are of uncertain eras, and to which we can align no other causes, than human sagacity in general, and the joint labour of many ages, in which men have always employed themselves in studying and contriving ways and means to sooth their various appetites, and make the best of their infirmities. Whence had we the first rudiments of architecture; how came sculpture and painting to be what they have been these many hundred years; and who taught every nation the respective languages they speak now. When I have a mind to dive into the origin of any maxim or political invention, for the use of society in general, I do not trouble my head with inquiring after the time or country in which it was first heard of, nor what others have wrote or said about it; but I go directly to the fountain head, human nature itself, and look for the frailty or defect in man, that is remedied or supplied by that invention: when things are very obscure, I sometimes make use of conjectures to find my way.

Hor. Do you argue, or pretend to prove any thing from those conjectures?

Cleo. No; I never reason but from the plain observations which every body may make on man, the phenomena that appear in the lesser world.

Hor. You have, without doubt, thought on this subject [353]before now; would you communicate to me some of your guesses?

Cleo. With abundance of pleasure.

Hor. You will give me leave, now and then, when things are not clear to me, to put in a word for information’s sake.

Cleo. I desire you would: you will oblige me with it. That self-love was given to all animals, at least, the most perfect, for self-preservation, is not disputed; but as no creature can love what it dislikes, it is necessary, moreover, that every one should have a real liking to its own being, superior to what they have to any other. I am of opinion, begging pardon for the novelty, that if this liking was not always permanent, the love which all creatures have for themselves, could not be so unalterable as we see it is.

Hor. What reason have you to suppose this liking, which creatures have for themselves, to be distinct from self-love; since the one plainly comprehends the other?

Cleo. I will endeavour to explain myself better. I fancy, that to increase the care in creatures to preserve themselves, nature has given them an instinct, by which every individual values itself above its real worth; this in us, I mean in man, seems to be accompanied with a diffidence, arising from a consciousness, or at least an apprehension, that we do overvalue ourselves: it is that makes us so fond of the approbation, liking, and assent of others; because they strengthen and confirm us in the good opinion we have of ourselves. The reasons why this self-liking, give me leave to call it so, is not plainly to be seen in all animals that are of the same degree of perfection, are many. Some want ornaments, and consequently the means to express it; others are too stupid and listless: it is to be considered likewise, that creatures, which are always in the same circumstances, and meet with little variation in their way of living, have neither opportunity nor temptation to show it; that the more mettle and liveliness creatures have, the more visible this liking is; and that in those of the same kind, the greater spirit they are of, and the more they excel in the perfections of their species, the fonder they are of showing it: in most birds it is evident, especially in those that have extraordinary finery to display: in a horse it is more conspicuous than in any other irrational creature: it is most apparent in the swiftest, the strongest, the most healthy and vigorous; and may be increased in that animal by additional ornaments, and the presence of [354]man, whom he knows, to clean, take care of, and delight in him. It is not improbable, that this great liking which creatures have for their own individuals, is the principle on which the love to their species is built: cows and sheep, too dull and lifeless to make any demonstration of this liking, yet herd and feed together, each with his own species; because no others are so like themselves: by this they seem to know likewise, that they have the same interest, and the same enemies; cows have often been seen to join in a common defence against wolves: birds of a feather flock together; and I dare say, that the screechowl likes her own note better than that of the nightingale.

Hor. Montaigne seems to have been somewhat of your opinion, when he fancied, that if brutes were to paint the Deity, they would all draw him of their own species. But what you call self-liking is evidently pride.

Cleo. I believe it is, or at least the cause of it. I believe, moreover, that many creatures show this liking, when, for want of understanding them, we do not perceive it: When a cat washes her face, and a dog licks himself clean, they adorn themselves as much as it is in their power. Man himself, in a savage state, feeding on nuts and acorns, and destitute of all outward ornaments, would have infinitely less temptation, as well as opportunity, of showing this liking of himself, than he has when civilized; yet if a hundred males of the first, all equally free, were together, within less than half an hour, this liking in question, though their bellies were full, would appear in the desire of superiority, that would be shown among them; and the most vigorous, either in strength or understanding, or both, would be the first that would display it: If, as supposed, they were all untaught, this would breed contention, and there would certainly be war before there could be any agreement among them; unless one of them had some one or more visible excellencies above the rest. I said males, and their bellies full; because, if they had women among them, or wanted food, their quarrel might begin on another account.

Hor. This is thinking abstractly indeed: but do you think that two or three hundred single savages, men and women, that never had been under any subjection, and were above twenty years of age, could ever establish a society, and be united into one body, if, without being acquainted with one another, they should meet by chance! [355]

Cleo. No more, I believe, than so many horses: but societies never were made that way. It is possible that several families of savages might unite, and the heads of them agree upon some sort of government or other, for their common good: but among them it is certain likewise, that, though superiority was tolerably well settled, and every male had females enough, strength and prowess in this uncivilized state would be infinitely more valued than understanding: I mean in the men; for the women will always prize themselves for what they see the men admire in them: Hence it would follow, that the women would value themselves, and envy one another for being handsome; and that the ugly and deformed, and all those that were least favoured by nature, would be the first, that would fly to art and additional ornaments: seeing that this made them more agreeable to the men, it would soon be followed by the rest, and in a little time they would strive to outdo one another, as much as their circumstances would allow of; and it is possible, that a woman, with a very handsome nose, might envy her neighbour with a much worse, for having a ring through it.

Hor. You take great delight in dwelling on the behaviour of savages; what relation has this to politeness?

Cleo. The seeds of it are lodged in this self-love and self-liking, which I have spoke of, as will soon appear, if we would consider what would be the consequence of them in the affair of self-preservation, and a creature endued with understanding, speech, and risibility. Self-love would first make it scrape together every thing it wanted for sustenance, provide against the injuries of the air, and do every thing to make itself and young ones secure. Self-liking would make it seek for opportunities, by gestures, looks, and sounds, to display the value it has for itself, superior to what it has for others; an untaught man would desire every body that came near him, to agree with him in the opinion of his superior worth, and be angry, as far as his fear would let him, with all that should refuse it: he would be highly delighted with, and love every body whom he thought to have a good opinion of him, especially those, that, by words or gestures, should own it to his face: whenever he met with any visible marks in others of inferiority to himself, he would laugh, and do the same at their misfortunes, as far as his own pity [356]would give him leave, and he would insult every body that would let him.

Hor. This self-liking, you say, was given to creatures for self-preservation: I should think rather that it is hurtful to men, because it must make them odious to one another; and I cannot see what benefit they can receive from it, either in a savage or a civilized state: is there any instance of its doing any good?

Cleo. I wonder to hear you ask that question. Have you forgot the many virtues which I have demonstrated, may be counterfeited to gain applause, and the good qualities a man of sense in great fortune may acquire, by the sole help and instigation of his pride?

Hor. I beg your pardon: yet what you say only regards man in the society, and after he has been perfectly well educated: what advantage is it to him as a single creature? Self-love I can plainly see, induces him to labour for his maintenance and safety, and makes him fond of every thing which he imagines to tend to his preservation; but what good does the self-liking to him?

Cleo. If I should tell you, that the inward pleasure and satisfaction a man receives from the gratification of that passion, is a cordial that contributes to his health, you would laugh at me, and think it far fetched.

Hor. Perhaps not; but I would set against it the many sharp vexations and heart-breaking sorrows, that men suffer on the score of this passion, from disgraces, disappointments, and other misfortunes, which, I believe, have sent millions to their graves much sooner than they would have gone, if their pride had less affected them.

Cleo. I have nothing against what you say: but this is no proof that the passion itself was not given to man for self-preservation; and it only lays open to us the precariousness of sublunary happiness, and the wretched condition of mortals. There is nothing created that is always a blessing; the rain and sunshine themselves, to which all earthly comforts are owing, have been the causes of innumerable calamities. All animals of prey, and thousand others, hunt after food with the hazard of their lives, and the greater part of them perish in their pursuits after sustenance. Plenty itself is not less fatal to some, than want is to others; and of our own species, every opulent nation has had great numbers, that in full safety from all other dangers, have destroyed themselves [357]by excesses of eating and drinking: yet nothing is more certain, than that hunger and thirst were given to creatures, to make them solicitous after, and crave those necessaries, without which it would be impossible for them to subsist.

Hor. Still I can see no advantage accruing from their self-liking to man, considered as a single creature, which can induce me to believe, that nature should have given it us for self-preservation. What you have alleged is obscure; can you name a benefit every individual person receives from that principle within him, that is manifest, and clearly to be understood?

Cleo. Since it has been in disgrace, and every body disowns the passion, it seldom is seen in its proper colours, and disguises itself in a thousand different shapes: we are often affected with it, when we have not the least suspicion of it; but it seems to be that which continually furnishes us with that relish we have for life, even when it is not worth having. Whilst men are pleased, self-liking has every moment a considerable share, though unknown, in procuring the satisfaction they enjoy. It is so necessary to the well-being of those that have been used to indulge it, that they can taste no pleasure without it; and such is the deference, and the submissive veneration they pay to it, that they are deaf to the loudest calls of nature, and will rebuke the strongest appetites that should pretend to be gratified at the expence of that passion. It doubles our happiness in prosperity, and buoys us up against the frowns of adverse fortune. It is the mother of hopes, and the end as well as the foundation of our best wishes: it is the strongest armour against despair; and as long as we can like any ways our situation, either in regard to present circumstances, or the prospect before us, we take care of ourselves; and no man can resolve upon suicide, whilst self-liking lasts: but as soon as that is over, all our hopes are extinct, and we can form no wishes but for the dissolution of our frame; till at last our being becomes so intolerable to us, that self-love prompts us to make an end of it, and seek refuge in death.

Hor. You mean self-hatred; for you have said yourself, that a creature cannot love what it dislikes.

Cleo. If you turn the prospect, you are in the right: but this only proves to us what I have often hinted at, that man is made up of contrarieties; otherwise nothing seems to be more certain, than that whoever kills himself by choice, must [358]do it to avoid something, which he dreads more than that death which he chooses. Therefore, how absurd soever a person’s reasoning may be, there is in all suicide a palpable intention of kindness to one’s self.

Hor. I must own that your observations are entertaining. I am very well pleased with your discourse, and I see an agreeable glimmering of probability that runs through it; but you have said nothing that comes up to a half proof on the side of your conjecture, if it be seriously considered.

Cleo. I told you before that I would lay no stress upon, nor draw any conclusions from it: but whatever nature’s design was in bestowing this self-liking on creatures, and whether it has been given to other animals besides ourselves or not, it is certain, that in our own species every individual person likes himself better than he does any other.

Hor. It may be so, generally speaking: but that it is not universally true, I can assure you, from my own experience; for I have often wished my self to be Count Theodati, whom you knew at Rome.

Cleo. He was a very fine person indeed, and extremely well accomplished; and therefore you wished to be such another, which is all you could mean. Celia has a very handsome face, fine eyes, fine teeth; but she has red hair, and is ill made: therefore she wishes for Chloe’s hair and Belinda’s shape; but she would still remain Celia.

Hor. But I wished that I might have been that person, that very Theodati.

Cleo. That is impossible.

Hor. What, is it impossible to wish it?

Cleo. Yes, to wish it; unless you wished for annihilation at the same time. It is that self we wish well to; and therefore we cannot wish for any change in ourselves, but with a proviso, that τὸ self, that part of us that wishes, should still remain: for take away that consciousness you had of yourself whilst you was wishing, and tell me, pray, what part of you it is that could be the better for the alteration you wished for?

Hor. I believe you are in the right. No man can wish but to enjoy something, which no part of that same man could do, if he was entirely another.

Cleo. That he itself, the person wishing, must be destroyed before the change could be entire. [359]

Hor. But when shall we come to the origin of politeness?

Cleo. We are at it now, and we need not look for it any further than in the self-liking, which I have demonstrated every individual man to be possessed of. Do but consider these two things: First, that from the nature of that passion, it must follow, that all untaught men will ever be hateful to one another in conversation, where neither interest nor superiority are considered: for, if of two equals, one only values himself more by half, than he does the other, though that other should value the first equally with himself, they would both be dissatisfied, if their thoughts were known to each other; but if both valued themselves more by half, than they did each other, the difference between them would still be greater, and a declaration of their sentiments would render them both insufferable to each other; which, among uncivilized men, would happen every moment, because, without a mixture of art and trouble, the outward symptoms of that passion are not to be stifled. The second thing I would have you consider, is, the effect which, in all human probability, this inconveniency, arising from self-liking, would have upon creatures endued with a great share of understanding, that are fond of their ease to the last degree, and as industrious to procure it. These two things, I say, do but duly weigh, and you shall find that the disturbance and uneasiness that must be caused by self-liking, whatever strugglings and unsuccessful trials to remedy them might precede, must necessarily produce, at long run, what we call good manners and politeness.

Hor. I understand you, I believe. Every body in this undisciplined state, being affected with the high value he has for himself, and displaying the most natural symptoms which you have described, they would all be offended at the barefaced pride of their neighbours: and it is impossible that this should continue long among rational creatures, but the repeated experience of the uneasiness they received from such behaviour, would make some of them reflect on the cause of it; which, in tract of time, would make them find out, that their own barefaced pride, must be as offensive to others, as that of others is to themselves.

Cleo. What you say is certainly the philosophical reason of the alterations that are made in the behaviour of men, by their being civilized: but all this is done without reflection; and men by degrees, and great length of time, fall as it were into these things spontaneously. [360]

Hor. How is that possible, when it must cost them trouble, and there is a palpable self-denial to be seen in the restraint they put upon themselves?

Cleo. In the pursuit of self-preservation, men discover a restless endeavour to make themselves easy, which insensibly teaches them to avoid mischief on all emergencies: and when human creatures once submit to government, and are used to live under the restraint of laws, it is incredible how many useful cautions, shifts, and stratagems they will learn to practise by experience and imitation, from conversing together, without being aware of the natural causes that oblige them to act as they do, viz. the passions within, that, unknown to themselves, govern their will and direct their behaviour.

Hor. You will make men as mere machines as Cartes does brutes.

Cleo. I have no such design: but I am of opinion, that men find out the use of their limbs by instinct, as much as brutes do the use of theirs; and that, without knowing any thing of geometry or arithmetic, even children may learn to perform actions that seem to bespeak great skill in mechanics, and a considerable depth of thought and ingenuity in the contrivance besides.

Hor. What actions are they which you judge this from?

Cleo. The advantageous postures which they will choose in resisting force, in pulling, pushing, or otherwise removing weight; from their sleight and dexterity in throwing stones, and other projectiles; and the stupendous cunning made use of in leaping.

Hor. What stupendous cunning, I pray?

Cleo. When men would leap or jump a great way, you know, they take a run before they throw themselves off the ground. It is certain, that, by this means, they jump farther, and with greater force than they could do otherwise: the reason likewise is very plain. The body partakes of, and is moved by two motions; and the velocity, impressed upon it by leaping, must be added to so much, as it retained of the velocity it was put into by running: Whereas, the body of a person who takes this leap, as he is standing still, has no other motion, than what is received from the muscular strength exerted in the act of leaping. See a thousand boys, as well as men, jump, and they will make use of this stratagem; but you will not find one of them that does it knowingly for that reason. What I have said of that stratagem [361]made use of in leaping, I desire you would apply to the doctrine of good manners, which is taught and practised by millions, who never thought on the origin of politeness, or so much as knew the real benefit it is of to society. The most crafty and designing will every where be the first; that, for interest-sake, will learn to conceal this passion of pride, and, in a little time, nobody will show the least symptom of it, whilst he is asking favours, or stands in need of help.

Hor. That rational creatures should do all this, without thinking or knowing what they are about, is inconceivable. Bodily motion is one thing, and the exercise of the understanding is another; and therefore agreeable postures, a graceful mien, an easy carriage, and a genteel outward behaviour, in general, may be learned and contracted perhaps without much thought; but good manners are to be observed every where, in speaking, writing, and ordering actions to be performed by others.

Cleo. To men who never turned their thoughts that way, it certainly is almost inconceivable to what prodigious height, from next to nothing, some arts may be, and have been raised by human industry and application, by the uninterrupted labour and joint experience of many ages, though none but men of ordinary capacity should ever be employed in them. What a noble, as well as beautiful, what a glorious machine is a first rate man of war when she is under sail, well rigged, and well manned! As in bulk and weight it is vastly superior to any other moveable body of human invention, so there is no other that has an equal variety of differently surprising contrivance to boast of. There are many sets of hands in the nation, that, not wanting proper materials, would be able in less than half a-year, to produce, fit out, and navigate a first rate: yet it is certain, that this task would be impracticable, if it was not divided and subdivided into a great variety of different labours; and it is as certain, that none of these labours require any other, than working men of ordinary capacities.

Hor. What would you infer from this?

Cleo. That we often ascribe to the excellency of man’s genius, and the depth of his penetration, what is in reality owing to length of time, and the experience of many generations, all of them very little differing from one another in natural parts and sagacity. And to know what it must have cost to bring that art of making ships for different purposes, [362]to the perfection in which it is now, we are only to consider, in the first place, that many considerable improvements have been made in it within these fifty years and less; and, in the second, that the inhabitants of this island did build, and make use of ships eighteen hundred years ago, and that, from that time to this, they have never been without.

Hor. Which altogether make a strong proof of the slow progress that art has made to be what it is.

Cleo. The Chevalier Reneau has wrote a book, in which he shows the mechanism of sailing, and accounts mathematically for every thing that belongs to the working and steering of a ship. I am persuaded, that neither the first inventors of ships and sailing, or those who have made improvements since in any part of them, ever dreamed of those reasons, any more than now the rudest and most illiterate of the vulgar do, when they are made sailors, which time and practice will do in spite of their teeth. We have thousands of them that were first hauled on board, and detained against their wills, and yet, in less than three years time, knew every rope and every pully in the ship, and without the least scrap of mathematics, had learned the management as well as use of them, much better than the greatest mathematician could have done in all his lifetime, if he had never been at sea. The book I mentioned, among other curious things, demonstrates what angle the rudder must make with the keel, to render its influence upon the ship the most powerful. This has its merit; but a lad of fifteen, who has served a year of his time on board of a hoy, knows every thing that is useful in this demonstration, practically. Seeing the poop always answering the motion of the helm, he only minds the latter, without making the least reflection on the rudder, until in a year or two more his knowledge in sailing, and capacity of steering his vessel, become so habitual to him, that he guides her, as he does his own body, by instinct, though he is half asleep, or thinking on quite another thing.

Hor. If, as you said, and which I now believe to be true, the people who first invented, and afterwards improved upon ships and sailing, never dreamed of those reasons of Monsieur Reneau, it is impossible that they should have acted from them, as motives that induced them à priori, to put their inventions and improvements in practice, with knowledge and design, which, I suppose, is what you intended to prove. [363]

Cleo. It is; and I verily believe, not only that the raw beginners, who made the first essays in either art, good manners as well as sailing, were ignorant of the true cause; the real foundation those arts are built upon in nature; but likewise that, even now both arts are brought to great perfection, the greatest part of those that are most expert, and daily making improvements in them, know as little of the rationale of them, as their predecessors did at first: though I believe, at the same time, Monsieur Reneau’s reasons to be very just, and yours as good as his; that is, I believe, that there is as much truth and solidity in your accounting for the origin of good manners, as there is in his for the management of ships. They are very seldom the same sort of people, those that invent arts and improvements in them, and those that inquire into the reason of things: this latter is most commonly practised by such as are idle and indolent, that are fond of retirement, hate business, and take delight in speculation; whereas, none succeed oftener in the first, than active, stirring, and laborious men, such as will put their hand to the plough, try experiments, and give all their attention to what they are about.

Hor. It is commonly imagined, that speculative men are best at invention of all sorts.

Cleo. Yet it is a mistake. Soap-boiling, grain-drying, and other trades and mysteries, are, from mean beginnings, brought to great perfection; but the many improvements that can be remembered to have been made in them, have, for the generality, been owing to persons, who either were brought up to, or had long practised, and been conversant in those trades, and not to great proficients in chemistry, or other parts of philosophy, whom one would naturally expect those things from. In some of these arts, especially grain or scarlet-dying, there are processes really astonishing; and, by the mixture of various ingredients, by fire and fermentation, several operations are performed, which the most sagacious naturalist cannot account for by any system yet known; a certain sign that they were not invented by reasoning à priori. When once the generality begin to conceal the high value they have for themselves, men must become more tolerable to one another. Now, new improvements must be made every day, until some of them grow impudent enough, not only to deny the high value they have for themselves, but likewise to pretend that they have greater [364]value for others, than they have for themselves. This will bring in complaisance; and now flattery will rush in upon them like a torrent. As soon as they are arrived at this pitch of insincerity, they will find the benefit of it, and teach it their children. The passion of shame is so general, and so early discovered in all human creatures, that no nation can be so stupid, as to be long without observing and making use of it accordingly. The same may be said of the credulity of infants, which is very inviting to many good purposes. The knowledge of parents is communicated to their offspring, and every one’s experience in life being added to what he learned in his youth, every generation after this must be better taught than the preceding; by which means, in two or three centuries, good manners must be brought to great perfection.

Hor. When they are thus far advanced, it is easy to conceive the rest: For improvements, I suppose, are made in good manners, as they are in all other arts and sciences. But to commence from savages, men, I believe, would make but a small progress in good manners the first three hundred years. The Romans, who had a much better beginning, had been a nation above six centuries, and were almost masters of the world, before they could be said to be a polite people. What I am most astonished at, and which I am now convinced of, is, that the basis of all this machinery is pride. Another thing I wonder at, is, that you chose to speak of a nation that entered upon good manners before they had any notions of virtue or religion, which, I believe, there never was in the world.

Cleo. Pardon me, Horatio; I have nowhere insinuated that they had none, but I had no reason to mention them. In the first place, you asked my opinion concerning the use of politeness in this world, abstract from the considerations of a future state: Secondly, the art of good manners has nothing to do with virtue or religion, though it seldom clashes with either. It is a science that is ever built on the same steady principle in our nature, whatever the age or the climate may be in which it is practised.

Hor. How can any thing be said not to clash with virtue or religion, that has nothing to do with either, and consequently disclaims both?

Cleo. This, I confess, seems to be a paradox; yet it is true. The doctrine of good manners teaches men to speak well of [365]all virtues, but requires no more of them in any age or country, than the outward appearance of those in fashion. And as to sacred matters, it is every where satisfied with seeming conformity in outward worship; for all the religions in the universe are equally agreeable to good manners, where they are national; and pray what opinion must we say a teacher to be of, to whom all opinions are probably alike? All the precepts of good manners throughout the world have the same tendency, and are no more than the various methods of making ourselves acceptable to others, with as little prejudice to ourselves as is possible: by which artifice we assist one another in the enjoyments of life, and refining upon pleasure; and every individual person is rendered more happy by it in the fruition of all the good things he can purchase, than he could have been without such behaviour. I mean happy, in the sense of the voluptuous. Let us look back on old Greece, the Roman empire, or the great eastern nations that flourished before them, and we shall find, that luxury and politeness ever grew up together, and were never enjoyed asunder; that comfort and delight upon earth have always employed the wishes of the beau monde; and that, as their chief study and greatest solicitude, to outward appearance, have ever been directed to obtain happiness in this world, so what would become of them in the next, seems, to the naked eye, always to have been the least of their concern.

Hor. I thank you for your lecture: you have satisfied me in several things, which I had intended to ask: But you have said some others, that I must have time to consider; after which I am resolved to wait upon you again; for I begin to believe, that, concerning the knowledge of ourselves, most books are either very defective or very deceitful.

Cleo. There is not a more copious, nor a more faithful volume than human nature, to those who will diligently peruse it; and I sincerely believe, that I have discovered nothing to you, which, if you had thought of it with attention, you would not have found out yourself. But I shall never be better pleased with myself, than when I can contribute to any entertainment you shall think diverting. [366]




Your servant.

Hor. What say you now, Cleomenes; is it not this without ceremony?

Cleo. You are very obliging.

Hor. When they told me where you was, I would suffer nobody to tell you who it was that wanted you, or to come up with me.

Cleo. This is friendly, indeed!

Hor. You see what a proficient I am: In a little time you will teach me to lay aside all good manners.

Cleo. You make a fine tutor of me.

Hor. You will pardon me, I know: this study of yours is a very pretty place.

Cleo. I like it, because the sun never enters it.

Hor. A very pretty room!

Cleo. Shall we sit down in it? It is the coolest room in the house.

Hor. With all my heart.

Cleo. I was in hopes to have seen you before now: you have taken a long time to consider.

Hor. Just eight days?

Cleo. Have you thought on the novelty I started?

Hor. I have, and think it not void of probability; for that there are no innate ideas, and men come into the world without any knowledge at all, I am convinced of, and therefore it is evident to me, that all arts and sciences must once have had a beginning in somebody’s brain, whatever oblivion [367]that may now be lost in. I have thought twenty times since I saw you last, on the origin of good manners, and what a pleasant scene it would be to a man who is tolerably well versed in the world, to see among a rude nation those first essays they made of concealing their pride from one another.

Cleo. You see by this, that it is chiefly the novelty of things that strikes, as well in begetting our aversion, as in gaining our approbation; and that we may look upon many indifferently, when they come to be familiar to us, though they were shocking when they were new. You are now diverting yourself with a truth, which eight days ago you would have given an hundred guineas not to have known.

Hor. I begin to believe there is nothing so absurd, that it would appear to us to be such, is we had been accustomed to it very young.

Cleo. In a tolerable education, we are so industriously and so assiduously instructed, from our most early infancy, in the ceremonies of bowing, and pulling off hats, and other rules of behaviour, that even before we are men we hardly look upon a mannerly deportment as a thing acquired, or think conversation to be a science. Thousand things are called easy and natural in postures and motions, as well as speaking and writing, that have caused infinite pains to others as well as ourselves, and which we know to be the product of art. What awkward lumps have I known, which the dancing-master has put limbs to!

Hor. Yesterday morning as I sat musing by myself, an expression of yours which I did not so much reflect upon at first, when I heard it, came into my head, and made me smile. Speaking of the rudiments of good manners in an infant nation, when they once entered upon concealing their pride, you said, that improvements would be made every day, “till some of them grew impudent enough, not only to deny the high value they had for themselves, but likewise to pretend that they had greater value for others than they had for themselves.”

Cleo. It is certain, that this every where must have been the forerunner of flattery.

Hor. When you talk of flattery and impudence, what do you think of the first man that had the face to tell his equal, that he was his humble servant? [368]

Cleo. If that had been a new compliment, I should have wondered much more at the simplicity of the proud man that swallowed, than I would have done at the impudence of the knave that made it.

Hor. It certainly once was new: which pray do you believe more ancient, pulling off the hat, or saying, your humble servant?

Cleo. They are both of them Gothic and modern.

Hor. I believe pulling off the hat was first, it being the emblem of liberty.

Cleo. I do not think so: for he who pulled of his hat the first time, could not have been understood, if saying your servant had not been practised: and to show respect, a man as well might have pulled off one of his shoes, as his hat; if saying, your servant, had not been an established and well-known compliment.

Hor. So he might, as you say, and had a better authority for the first, than he could have for the latter.

Cleo. And to this day, taking of the hat is a dumb show of a known civility in words: Mind now the power of custom, and imbibed notions. We both laugh at this Gothic absurdity, and are well assured, that it must have had its origin from the basest flattery; yet neither of us, walking with our hats on, could meet an acquaintance with whom we are not very familiar, without showing this piece of civility; nay, it it would be a pain to us not to do it. But we have no reason to think, that the compliment of saying, your servant, began among equals; but rather that, flatterers having given it to princes, it grew afterwards more common: for all those postures and flexions of body and limbs, had in all probability their rise from the adulation that was paid to conquerors and tyrants; who, having every body to fear, were always alarmed at the least shadow of opposition, and never better pleased than with submissive and defenceless postures: and you see, that they have all a tendency that way; they promise security, and are silent endeavours to ease and rid them, not only of their fears, but likewise every suspicion of harm approaching them: such as lying prostrate on our faces, touching the ground with our heads, kneeling, bowing low, laying our hands upon our breasts, or holding them behind us, folding our arms together, and all the cringes that can be made to demonstrate that we neither indulge our ease, nor stand upon our guard. These are evident signs and convincing [369]proofs to a superior, that we have a mean opinion of ourselves in respect to him, that we are at his mercy, and have no thought to resist, much less to attack him; and therefore it is highly probable, that saying, your servant, and pulling off the hat, were at first demonstrations of obedience to those that claimed it.

Hor. Which in tract of time became more familiar, and were made use of reciprocally in the way of civility.

Cleo. I believe so; for as good manners increase, we see, that the highest compliments are made common, and new ones to superiors invented instead of them.

Hor. So the word grace, which not long ago was a title, that none but our kings and queens were honoured with, is devolved upon archbishops and dukes.

Cleo. It was the same with highness, which is now given to the children, and even the grandchildren of kings.

Hor. The dignity that is annexed to the signification of the word lord, has been better preserved with us, than in most countries: in Spanish, Italian, high and low Dutch, it is prostituted to almost every body.

Cleo. It has had better fate in France; where likewise the word sire has lost nothing of its majesty, and is only used to the monarch: whereas, with us, it is a compliment of address, that may be made to a cobbler, as well as to a king.

Hor. Whatever alterations may be made in the sense of words, by time; yet, as the world grows more polished, flattery becomes less barefaced, and the design of it upon man’s pride is better disguised than it was formerly. To praise a man to his face, was very common among the ancients: considering humility to be a virtue particularly required of Christians, I have often wondered how the fathers of the church could suffer those acclamations and applauses, that were made to them whilst they were preaching; and which, though some of them spoke against them, many of them appear to have been extremely fond of.

Cleo. Human nature is always the same; where men exert themselves to the utmost, and take uncommon pains, that spend and waste the spirits, those applauses are very reviving the fathers who spoke against them, spoke chiefly against the abuse of them.

Hor. It must have been very odd to hear people bawling out, as often the greatest part of an audience did, Sophos, divinitus, non potest melius, mirabiliter, acriter, ingeniose: they [370]told the preachers likewise that they were orthodox, and sometimes called them, apostolus decimus tertius.

Cleo. These words at the end of a period might have passed, but the repetitions of them were often so loud and so general, and the noise they made with their hands and feet, so disturbing in and out of season, that they could not hear a quarter of the the sermon; yet several fathers owned that it was highly delightful, and soothing human frailty.

Hor. The behaviour at churches is more decent, as it is now.

Cleo. Since paganism has been quite extinct in the old western world, the zeal of Christians is much diminished from what it was, when they had many opposers: the want of fervency had a great hand in abolishing that fashion.

Hor. But whether it was the fashion or not, it must always have been shocking.

Cleo. Do you think, that the repeated acclamations, the clapping, stamping, and the most extravagant tokens of applause, that are now used at our several theatres, were ever shocking to a favourite actor; or that the huzzas of the mob, or the hideous shouts of soldiers, were ever shocking to persons of the highest distinction, to whose honour they were made?

Hor. I have known princes that were very much tired with them.

Cleo. When they had too much of them; but never at first. In working a machine, we ought to have regard to the strength of its frame: limited creatures are not susceptible of infinite delight; therefore we see, that a pleasure protracted beyond its due bounds becomes a pain: but where the custom of the country is not broken in upon, no noise, that is palpably made in our praise, and which we may hear with decency, can ever be ungrateful, if it do not outlast a reasonable time; but there is no cordial so sovereign, that it may not become offensive, by being taken to excess.

Hor. And the sweeter and more delicious liquors are, the sooner they become fulsome, and the less fit they are to sit by.

Cleo. Your simile is not amiss; and the same acclamations that are ravishing to a man at first, and perhaps continue to give him an unspeakable delight for eight or nine minutes, may become more moderately pleasing, indifferent, cloying, troublesome, and even so offensive as to create pain, all in [371]less than three hours, if they were to continue so long without intermission.

Hor. There must be great witchcraft in sounds, that they should have such different effects upon us, as we often see they have.

Cleo. The pleasure we receive from acclamations, is not in the hearing; but proceeds from the opinion we form of the cause that produces those sounds, the approbation of others. At the theatres all over Italy you have heard, that, when the whole audience demands silence and attention, which there is an established mark of benevolence and applause, the noise they make comes very near, and is hardly to be distinguished from our hissing, which with us is the plainest token of dislike and contempt: and without doubt the cat-calls to affront Faustina were far more agreeable to Cozzoni, than the most artful sounds she ever heard from her triumphant rival.

Hor. That was abominable!

Cleo. The Turks show their respects to their sovereigns by a profound silence, which is strictly kept throughout the seraglio, and still more religiously observed the nearer you come to the Sultan’s apartment.

Hor. This latter is certainly the politer way of gratifying one’s pride.

Cleo. All that depends upon mode and custom.

Hor. But the offerings that are made to a man’s pride in silence, may be enjoyed without the loss of his hearing, which the other cannot.

Cleo. That is a trifle, in the gratification of that passion: we never enjoy higher pleasure, from the appetite we would indulge, than when we feel nothing from any other.

Hor. But silence expresses greater homage, and deeper veneration, than noise.

Cleo. It is good to sooth the pride of a drone; but an active man loves to have that passion roused, and as it were kept awake, whilst it is gratified; and approbation from noise is more unquestionable than the other: however, I will not determine between them; much may be said on both sides. The Greeks and Romans used sounds, to stir up men to noble actions, with great success; and the silence observed among the Ottomans has kept them very well in the slavish submission which their sovereigns require of them: perhaps the one does better where absolute power is lodged in one person, and the other where there is some show of liberty. [372]Both are proper tools to flatter the pride of man, when they are understood and made use of as such. I have known a very brave man used to the shouts of war, and highly delighted with loud applause, be very angry with his butler, for making a little rattling with his plates.

Hor. An old aunt of mine the other day turned away a very clever fellow, for not walking upon his toes; and I must own myself, that the stamping of footmen, and all unmannerly loudness of servants, are very offensive to me; though I never entered into the reason of it before now. In our last conversation, when you described the symptoms of self-liking, and what the behaviour would be of an uncivilized man, you named laughing: I know it is one of the characteristics of our species; pray do you take that to be likewise the result of pride?

Cleo. Hobbes is of that opinion, and in most instances it might be derived from thence; but there are some phenomena not to be explained by that hypothesis; therefore I would choose to say, that laughter is a mechanical motion, which we are naturally thrown into when we are unaccountably pleased. When our pride is feelingly gratified; when we hear or see any thing which we admire or approve of; or when we are indulging any other passion or appetite, and the reason why we are pleased seems to be just and worthy, we are then far from laughing: but when things or actions are odd and out of the way, and happen to please us when we can give no just reason why they should do so, it is then, generally speaking, that they make us laugh.

Hor. I would rather side with what you said was Hobbes’s opinion: for the things we commonly laugh at are such as are some way or other mortifying, unbecoming, or prejudicial to others.

Cleo. But what will you say to tickling, which will make an infant laugh that is deaf and blind?

Hor. Can you account for that by your system?

Cleo. Not to my satisfaction; but I will tell you what might be said for it. We know by experience, that the smoother, the softer, and the more sensible the skin is, the more ticklish persons are, generally speaking: we know likewise, that things rough, sharp, and hard, when they touch the skin, are displeasing to us, even before they give pain and that, on the contrary, every thing applied to the skin that is soft and smooth, and not otherwise offensive, is delightful. [373]It is possible that gentle touches being impressed on several nervous filaments at once, every one of them producing a pleasing sensation, may create that confused pleasure which is the occasion of laughter.

Hor. But how came you to think of mechanic motion, in the pleasure of a free agent?

Cleo. Whatever free agency we may pretend to in the forming of ideas, the effect of them upon the body is independent of the will. Nothing is more directly opposite to laughing than frowning: the one draws wrinkles on the fore-head, knits the brows, and keeps the mouth shut: the other does quite the reverse; exporrigere frontem, you know, is a Latin phrase for being merry. In sighing, the muscles of the belly and breast are pulled inward, and the diaphragm is pulled upward more than ordinary; and we seem to endeavour, though in vain, to squeeze and compress the heart, whilst we draw in our breath in a forcible manner; and when, in that squeezing posture, we have taken in as much air as we can contain, we throw it out with the same violence we sucked it in with, and at the same time give a sudden relaxation to all the muscles we employed before. Nature certainly designed this for something in the labour for self-preservation which she forces upon us. How mechanically do all creatures that can make any sound, cry out, and complain in great afflictions, as well as pain and imminent danger! In great torments, the efforts of nature are so violent that way, that, to disappoint her, and prevent the discovery of what we feel by sounds, and which she bids us make, we are forced to draw our mouth into a purse, or else suck in our breath, bite our lips, or squeeze them close together, and use the most effectual means to hinder the air from coming out. In grief we sigh, in mirth we laugh: in the latter little stress is laid upon the respiration, and this is performed with less regularity than it is at any other time; all the muscles without, and every thing within feel loose, and seem to have no other motion than what is communicated to them by the convulsive shakes of laughter.

Hor. I have seen people laugh till they lost all their strength.

Cleo. How much is all this the reverse of what we observe in sighing! When pain or depth of woe make us cry out, the mouth is drawn round, or at least into an oval; the lips are thrusted forward without touching each other, and the [374]tongue is pulled in, which is the reason that all nations, when they exclaim, cry, Oh!

Hor. Why pray!

Cleo. Because whilst the mouth, lips, and tongue, remain in those postures, they can sound no other vowel, and no consonant at all. In laughing, the lips are pulled back, and strained to draw the mouth in its fullest length.

Hor. I would not have you lay a great stress upon that, for it is the same in weeping, which is an undoubted sign of sorrow.

Cleo. In great afflictions, where the heart is oppressed, and anxieties which we endeavour to resist, few people can weep; but when they do, it removes the oppression, and sensibly relieves them: for then their resistance is gone; and weeping in distress is not so much a sign of sorrow as it is an indication that we can bear our sorrow no longer; and therefore it is counted unmanly to weep, because it seems to give up our strength, and is a kind of yielding to our grief. But the action of weeping itself is not more peculiar to grief than it is to joy in adult people; and there are men who show great fortitude in afflictions, and bear the greatest misfortunes with dry eyes, that will cry heartily at a moving scene in a play. Some are easily wrought upon by one thing, others are sooner affected with another; but whatever touches us so forcibly, as to overwhelm the mind, prompts us to weep, and is the mechanical cause of tears; and therefore, besides grief, joy, and pity, there are other things no way relating to ourselves, that may have this effect upon us; such as the relations of surprising events and sudden turns of Providence in behalf of merit; instances of heroism, of generosity; in love, in friendship in an enemy; or the hearing or reading of noble thoughts and sentiments of humanity; more especially if these things are conveyed to us suddenly, in an agreeable manner, and unlooked for, as well as lively expressions. We shall observe, likewise, that none are more subject to this frailty of shedding tears on such foreign accounts, than persons of ingenuity and quick apprehension; and those among them that are most benevolent, generous, and open-hearted; whereas, the dull and stupid, the cruel, selfish, and designing, are very seldom troubled with it. Weeping, therefore, in earnest, is always a sure and involuntary demonstration that something strikes and overcomes the mind, whatever that be which affects it. We find likewise, that outward violence, [375]as sharp winds and smoke, the effluvia of onions, and other volatile salts, &c. have the same effect upon the external fibres of the lachrymal ducts and glands that are exposed, which the sudden swelling and pressure of the spirits has upon those within. The Divine Wisdom is in nothing more conspicuous than in the infinite variety of living creatures of different construction; every part of them being contrived with stupendous skill, and fitted with the utmost accuracy for the different purposes they were designed for. The human body, above all, is a most astonishing master piece of art: the anatomist may have a perfect knowledge of all the bones and their ligaments, the muscles and their tendons, and be able to dissect every nerve and every membrane with great exactness; the naturalist, likewise, may dive a great way into the inward economy, and different symptoms of health and sickness: they may all approve of, and admire the curious machine; but no man can have a tolerable idea of the contrivance, the art, and the beauty of the workmanship itself, even in those things he can see, without being likewise versed in geometry and mechanics.

Hor. How long is it ago that mathematics were brought into physic? that art, I have heard, is brought to great certainty by them.

Cleo. What you speak of is quite another thing. Mathematics never had, nor ever can have, any thing to do with physic, if you mean by it the art of curing the sick. The structure and motions of the body, may perhaps be mechanically accounted for, and all fluids are under the laws of hydrostatics; but we can have no help from any part of the mechanics in the discovery of things, infinitely remote from sight, and entirely unknown as to their shapes and bulks. Physicians, with the rest of mankind, are wholly ignorant of the first principles and constituent parts of things, in which all the virtues and properties of them consist; and this, as well of the blood and other juices of the body, as the simples, and consequently all the medicines they make use of. There is no art that has less certainty than theirs, and the most valuable knowledge in it arises from observation, and is such, as a man of parts and application, who has fitted himself for that study, can only be possessed of after a long and judicious experience. But the pretence to mathematics, or the usefulness of it in the cure of diseases, is a cheat, and as arrant a piece of quackery as a stage and a Merry-Andrew. [376]

Hor. But since there is so much skill displayed in the bones, muscles, and grosser parts, is it not reasonable to think, that there is no less art bestowed on those that are beyond the reach of our senses?

Cleo. I nowise doubt it: Microscopes have opened a new world to us, and I am far from thinking, that nature should leave off her work where we can trace her no further. I am persuaded that our thoughts, and the affections of the mind, have a more certain and more mechanical influence upon several parts of the body than has been hitherto or, in all human probability, ever will be discovered. The visible effect they have on the eyes and muscles of the face, must show the least attentive the reason I have for this assertion. When in mens company we are upon our guard, and would preserve our dignity, the lips are shut and the jaws meet; the muscles of the mouth are gently braced, and the rest all over the face are kept firmly in their places: turn away from these into another room, where you meet with a fine young lady that is affable and easy; immediately, before you think on it, your countenance will be strangely altered; and without being conscious of having done any thing to your face, you will have quite another look; and every body that has observed you, will discover in it more sweetness and less severity than you had the moment before. When we suffer the lower jaw to sink down, the mouth opens a little: if in this posture we look straight before us, without fixing our eyes on any thing, we may imitate the countenance of a natural; by dropping, as it were, our features, and laying no stress on any muscle of the face. Infants, before they have learned to swallow their spittle, generally keep their mouths open, and are always drivelling: in them, before they show any understanding, and whilst it is yet very confused, the muscles of the face are, as it were, relaxed, the lower jaw falls down, and the fibres of the lips are unbraced; at least, these phenomena we observe in them, during that time, more often than we do afterwards. In extreme old age, when people begin to doat, those symptoms return; and in most idiots they continue to be observed, as long as they live: Hence it is that we say, that a man wants a slabbering-bib, when he behaves very sillily or talks like a natural fool. When we reflect on all this, on the one hand, and consider on the other, that none are less prone to anger than idiots, and no creatures are less affected with pride, I would ask, [377]whether there is not some degree of self-liking, that mechanically influences, and seems to assist us in the decent wearing of our faces.

Hor. I cannot resolve you; what I know very well is, that by these conjectures on the mechanism of man, I find my understanding very little informed: I wonder how we came upon the subject.

Cleo. You inquired into the origin of risibility, which nobody can give an account of, with any certainty; and in such cases every body is at liberty to make guesses, so they draw no conclusions from them to the prejudice of any thing better established. But the chief design I had in giving you these indigested thoughts, was to hint to you, how really mysterious the works of nature are; I mean, how replete they are every where, with a power glaringly conspicuous, and yet incomprehensible beyond all human reach; in order to demonstrate, that more useful knowledge may be acquired from unwearied observation, judicious experience, and arguing from facts à posteriori, than from the haughty attempts of entering into first causes, and reasoning à priori. I do not believe there is a man in the world of that sagacity, if he was wholly unacquainted with the nature of a spring-watch, that he would ever find out by dint of penetration the cause of its motion, if he was never to see the inside: but every middling capacity may be certain, by seeing only the outside, that its pointing at the hour, and keeping to time, proceed from the exactness of some curious workmanship that is hid; and that the motion of the hands, what number of resorts soever it is communicated by, is originally owing to something else that first moves within. In the same manner we are sure, that as the effects of thought upon the body are palpable, several motions are produced by it, by contact, and consequently mechanically: but the parts, the instruments which that operation is performed with, are so immensely far remote from our senses; and the swiftness of the action is so prodigious, that it infinitely surpasses our capacity to trace them.

Hor. But is not thinking the business of the soul? What has mechanism to do with that?

Cleo. The soul, whilst in the body, cannot be said to think, otherwise than an architect is said to build a house, where the carpenters, bricklayers, &c. do the work, which he chalks out and superintends. [378]

Hor. Which part of the brain do you think the soul to be more immediately lodged in; or do you take it to be diffused through the whole?

Cleo. I know nothing of it more than what I have told you already.

Hor. I plainly feel that this operation of thinking is a labour, or at least something that is transacting in my head, and not in my leg nor my arm: what insight or real knowledge have we from anatomy concerning it?

Cleo. None at all à priori: the most consummate anatomist knows no more of it than a butcher’s apprentice. We may admire the curious duplicate of coats, and close embroidery of veins and arteries that environ the brain: but when dissecting it we have viewed the several pairs of nerves, with their origin, and taken notice of some glands of various shapes and sizes, which differing from the brain in substance, could not but rush in view; when these, I say, have been taken notice of, and distinguished by different names, some of them not very pertinent, and less polite, the best naturalist must acknowledge, that even of these large visible parts there are but few, the nerves and blood-vessels excepted, at the use of which he can give any tolerable guesses: but as to the mysterious structure of the brain itself, and the more abstruse economy of it, that he knows nothing; but that the whole seems to be a medullary substance, compactly treasured up in infinite millions of imperceptible cells, that, disposed in an unconceivable order, are cluttered together in a perplexing variety of folds and windings. He will add, perhaps, that it is reasonable to think this to be the capacious exchequer of human knowledge, in which the faithful senses deposit the vast treasure of images, constantly, as through their organs they receive them; that it is the office in which the spirits are separated from the blood, and afterwards sublimed and volatilized into particles hardly corporeal; and that the most minute of these are always, either searching for, or variously disposing the images retained, and shooting through the infinite meanders of that wonderful substance, employ themselves, without ceasing, in that inexplicable performance, the contemplation of which fills the most exalted genius with amazement.

Hor. These are very airy conjectures; but nothing of all this can be proved: The smallness of the parts, you will say, is the reason; but if greater improvements were made in optic [379]glasses, and microscopes could be invented that magnified objects three or four millions of times more than they do now, then certainly those minute particles, so immensely remote from the senses you speak of, might be observed, if that which does the work is corporeal at all.

Cleo. That such improvements are impossible, is demonstrable; but if it was not, even then we could have little help from anatomy. The brain of an animal cannot be looked and searched into whilst it is alive. Should you take the main spring out of a watch, and leave the barrel that contained it standing empty, it would be impossible to find out what it had been that made it exert itself, whilst it showed the time. We might examine all the wheels, and every other part belonging either to the movement or the motion, and, perhaps, find out the use of them, in relation to the turning of the hands; but the first cause of this labour would remain a mystery for ever.

Hor. The main spring in us is the soul, which is immaterial and immortal: but what is that to other creatures that have a brain like ours, and no such immortal substance distinct from body? Do not you believe that dogs and horses think?

Cleo. I believe they do, though in a degree of perfection far inferior to us.

Hor. What is it that superintends thought in them? where must we look for it? which is the main spring?

Cleo. I can answer you no otherwise, than life.

Hor. What is life?

Cleo. Every body understands the meaning of the word, though, perhaps, nobody knows the principle of life, that part which gives motion to all the rest.

Hor. Where men are certain that the truth of a thing is not to be known, they will always differ, and endeavour to impose upon one another.

Cleo. Whilst there are fools and knaves, they will; but I have not imposed upon you: what I said of the labour of the brain, I told you, was a conjecture, which I recommend no farther to you than you shall think it probable. You ought to expect no demonstration of a thing, that from its nature can admit of none. When the breath is gone, and the circulation ceased, the inside of an animal is vastly different from what it was whilst the lungs played, and the blood and juices were in full motion through every part of it. You [380]have seen those engines that raise water by the help of fire; the steam you know, is that which forces it up; it is as impossible to see the volatile particles that perform the labour of the brain, when the creature is dead, as in the engine it would be to see the steam (which yet does all the work), when the fire is out and the water cold. Yet if this engine was shown to a man when it was not at work, and it was explained to him, which way it raised the water, it would be a strange incredulity, or great dullness of apprehension, not to believe it; if he knew perfectly well, that by heat, liquids may be rarified into vapour.

Hor. But do not you think there is a difference in souls; and are they all equally good or equally bad?

Cleo. We have some tolerable ideas of matter and motion; or, at least, of what we mean by them, and therefore we may form ideas of things corporeal, though they are beyond the reach of our senses; and we can conceive any portion of matter a thousand times less than our eyes, even by the help of the best microscopes, are able to see it: but the soul is altogether incomprehensible, and we can determine but little about it, that is not revealed to us. I believe that the difference of capacities in men, depends upon, and is entirely owing to the difference there is between them, either in the fabric itself, that is, the greater or lesser exactness in the composure of their frame, or else in the use that is made of it. The brain of a child, newly born, is carte blanche; and, as you have hinted very justly, we have no ideas, which we are not obliged for to our senses. I make no question, but that in this rummaging of the spirits through the brain, in hunting after, joining, separating, changing, and compounding of ideas with inconceivable swiftness, under the superintendency of the soul, the action of thinking consists. The best thing, therefore, we can do to infants after the first month, besides feeding and keeping them from harm, is to make them take in ideas, beginning by the two most useful senses, the sight and hearing; and dispose them to set about this labour of the brain, and by our example encourage them to imitate us in thinking; which, on their side, is very poorly performed at first. Therefore the more an infant in health is talked to and jumbled about, the better it is for it, at least, for the first two years; and for its attendance in this early education, to the wisest matron in the world, I would prefer an active young wench, whose tongue never stands [381]still, that should run about, and never cease diverting and playing with it whilst it was awake; and where people can afford it, two or three of them, to relieve one another when they are tired, are better than one.

Hor. Then you think children reap great benefit from the nonsensical chat of nurses?

Cleo. It is of inestimable use to them, and teaches them to think, as well as speak, much sooner and better, than with equal aptitude of parts they would do without. The business is to make them exert those faculties, and keep infants continually employed about them; for the time which is lost then, is never to be retrieved.

Hor. Yet we seldom remember any thing of what we saw or heard, before we were two years old: then what would be lost, if children should not hear all that impertinence?

Cleo. As iron is to be hammered whilst it is hot and ductile, so children are to be taught when they are young: as the flesh and every tube and membrane about them, are then tenderer, and will yield sooner to slight impressions, than afterwards; so many of their bones are but cartilages, and the brain itself is much softer, and in a manner fluid. This is the reason, that it cannot so well retain the images it receives, as it does afterwards, when the substance of it comes to be of a better consistence. But as the first images are lost, so they are continually succeeded by new ones; and the brain at first serves as a slate to cypher, or a sampler to work upon. What infants should chiefly learn, is the performance itself, the exercise of thinking, and to contract a habit of disposing, and with ease and agility managing the images retained, to the purpose intended; which is never attained better than whilst the matter is yielding, and the organs are most flexible and supple. So they but exercise themselves in thinking and speaking, it is no matter what they think on, or what they say, that is inoffensive. In sprightly infants, we soon see by their eyes the efforts they are making to imitate us, before they are able; and that they try at this exercise of the brain, and make essays to think, as well as they do to hammer out words, we may know from the incoherence of their actions, and the strange absurdities they utter: but as there are more degrees of thinking well, than there are of speaking plain, the first is of the greatest consequence.

Hor. I wonder you should talk of teaching, and lay so great a stress on a thing that comes so naturally to us, as [382]thinking: no action is performed with greater velocity by every body: as quick as thought, is a proverb, and in less than a moment a stupid peasant may remove his ideas from London to Japan, as easily as the greatest wit.

Cleo. Yet there is nothing, in which men differ so immensely from one another, as they do in the exercise of this faculty: the differences between them in height, bulk, strength, and beauty, are trifling in comparison to that which I speak of; and there is nothing in the world more valuable, or more plainly perceptible in persons, than a happy dexterity of thinking. Two men may have equal knowledge, and yet the one shall speak as well off-hand, as the other can after two hours study.

Hor. I take it for granted, that no man would study two hours for a speech, if he knew how to make it in less; and therefore I cannot see what reason you have to suppose two such persons to be of equal knowledge.

Cleo. There is a double meaning in the word knowing, which you seem not to attend to. There is a great difference between knowing a violin when you see it, and knowing how to play upon it. The knowledge I speak of is of the first sort; and if you consider it in that sense, you must be of my opinion; for no study can fetch any thing out of the brain that is not there. Suppose you conceive a short epistle in three minutes, which another, who can make letters and join them together as fast as yourself, is yet an hour about, though both of you write the same thing, it is plain to me, that the slow person knows as much as you do; at least it does not appear that he knows less. He has received the same images, but he cannot come at them, or at least not dispose them in that order, so soon as yourself. When we see two exercises of equal goodness, either in prose or verse, if the one is made ex tempore, and we are sure of it, and the other has cost two days labour, the author of the first is a person of finer natural parts than the other, though their knowledge, for ought we know, is the same. You see, then, the difference between knowledge, as it signifies the treasure of images received, and knowledge, or rather skill, to find out those images when we want them, and work them readily to our purpose.

Hor. When we know a thing, and cannot readily think of it, or bring it to mind, I thought that was the fault of the memory. [383]

Cleo. So it may be in part: but there are men of prodigious reading, that have likewise great memories, who judge ill, and seldom say any thing a propos, or say it when it is too late. Among the belluones librorum, the cormorants of books, there are wretched reasoners, that have canine appetites, and no digestion. What numbers of learned fools do we not meet with in large libraries; from whose works it is evident, that knowledge must have lain in their heads, as furniture at an upholder’s; and the treasure of the brain was a burden to them instead of an ornament! All this proceeds from a defect in the faculty of thinking; an unskilfulness, and want of aptitude in managing, to the best advantage, the ideas we have received. We see others, on the contrary, that have very fine sense, and no literature at all. The generality of women are quicker of invention, and more ready at repartee, than the men, with equal helps of education; and it is surprising to see, what a considerable figure some of them make in conversation, when we consider the small opportunities they have had of acquiring knowledge.

Hor. But sound judgment is a great rarity among them.

Cleo. Only for want of practice, application, and assiduity. Thinking on abstruse matters, is not their province in life; and as the stations they are commonly placed in find them other employment; but there is no labour of the brain which women are not as capable of performing, at least as well as the men, with the same assistance, if they set about, and persevere in it: sound judgment is no more than the result of that labour: he that uses himself to take things to pieces, to compare them together, to consider them abstractly and impartially; that is, he who of two propositions he is to examine seems not to care which is true; he that lays the whole stress of his mind on every part alike, and puts the same thing in all the views it can be seen in: he, I say, that employs himself most often in this exercise, is most likely cæteris paribus to acquire what we call a sound judgment. The workmanship in the make of women seems to be more elegant, and better finished: the features are more delicate, the voice is sweeter, the whole outside of them is more curiously wove, than they are in men; and the difference in the skin between theirs and ours is the same, as there is between fine cloth and coarse. There is no reason to imagine, that nature should have been more neglectful of them out of sight, than she has where we can trace her; and [384]not have taken the same care of them in the formation, of the brain, as to the nicety of the structure, and superior accuracy in the fabric, which is so visible in the rest of their frame.

Hor. Beauty is their attribute, as strength is ours.

Cleo. How minute soever those particles of the brain are, that contain the several images, and are assisting in the operation of thinking, there must be a difference in the justness, the symmetry, and exactness of them between one person and another, as well as there is in the grosser parts: what the women excel us in, then, is the goodness of the instrument, either in the harmony or pliableness of the organs, which must be very material in the art of thinking, and is the only thing that deserves the name of natural parts, since the aptitude I have spoke of, depending upon exercise, is notoriously acquired.

Hor. As the workmanship in the brain is rather more curious in women than it is in men, so, in sheep and oxen, dogs and horses, I suppose it is infinitely coarser.

Cleo. We have no reason to think otherwise,

Hor. But after all, that self, that part of us that wills and wishes, that chooses one thing rather than another, must be incorporeal: For if it is matter, it must either be one single particle, which I can almost feel it is not, or a combination of many, which is more than inconceivable.

Cleo. I do not deny what you say; and that the principle of thought and action is inexplicable in all creatures I have hinted already: But its being incorporeal does not mend the matter, as to the difficulty of explaining or conceiving it. That there must be a mutual contact between this principle, whatever it is, and the body itself, is what we are certain of à posteriori; and a reciprocal action upon each other, between an immaterial substance and matter, is as incomprehensible to human capacity, as that thought should be the result of matter and motion.

Hor. Though many other animals seem to be endued with thought, there is no creature we are acquainted with, besides man, that shows or seems to feel a consciousness of his thinking.

Cleo. It is not easy to determine what instincts, properties, or capacities other creatures are either possessed or destitute of, when those qualifications fall not under our senses: But it is highly probable, that the principal and most necessary [385]parts of the machine are less elaborate in animals, that attain to all the perfection they are capable of in three, four, five, or six years at furthest, than they are in a creature that hardly comes to maturity, its full growth and strength in five and twenty. The consciousness of a man of fifty, that he is the same man that did such a thing at twenty, and was once the boy that had such and such masters, depends wholly upon the memory, and can never be traced to the bottom: I mean, that no man remembers any thing of himself, or what was transacted before he was two years old, when he was but a novice in the art of thinking, and the brain was not yet of a due consistence to retain long the images it received: But this remembrance, how far soever it may reach, gives us no greater surety of ourselves, than we should have of another that had been brought up with us, and never above a week or a month out of sight. A mother, when her son is thirty years old, has more reason to know that he is the same whom she brought into the world than himself; and such a one, who daily minds her son, and remembers the alterations of his features from time to time, is more certain of him that he was not changed in the cradle, than she can be of herself. So that all we can know of this consciousness, is, that it consists in, or is the result of the running and rummaging of the spirits through all the mazes of the brain, and their looking there for facts concerning ourselves: He that has lost his memory, though otherwise in perfect health, cannot think better than a fool, and is no more conscious that he is the same he was a-year ago, than he is of a man whom he has known but a fortnight. There are several degrees of losing our memory; but he who has entirely lost it becomes, ipso facto, an idiot.

Hor. I am conscious of having been the occasion of our rambling a great way from the subject we were upon, but I do not repent of it: What you have said of the economy of the brain, and the mechanical influence of thought upon the grosser parts, is a noble theme for contemplation on the infinite unutterable wisdom with which the various instincts are so visibly planted in all animals, to fit them for the respective purposes they were designed for; and every appetite is so wonderfully interwove with the very substance of their frame. Nothing could be more seasonable, after you had showed me the origin of politeness, and in the management of self-liking, set forth the excellency of our species [386]beyond all other animals so conspicuously in the superlative docility and indefatigable industry, by which all multitudes are capable of drawing innumerable benefits, as well for the ease and comfort, as the welfare and safety of congregate bodies, from a most stubborn and an unconquerable passion, which, in its nature, seems to be destructive to sociableness and society, and never fails, in untaught men, to render them insufferable to one another.

Cleo. By the same method of reasoning from facts à posteriori, that has laid open to us the nature and usefulness of self-liking, all the rest of the passions may easily be accounted for, and become intelligible. It is evident, that the necessaries of life stand not every where ready dished up before all creatures; therefore they have instincts that prompt them to look out for those necessaries, and teach them how to come at them. The zeal and alacrity to gratify their appetites, is always proportioned to the strength, and the degree of force with which those instincts work upon every creature: But, considering the disposition of things upon earth, and the multiplicity of animals that have all their own wants to supply, it must be obvious, that these attempts of creatures, to obey the different calls of nature, will be often opposed and frustrated, and that, in many animals, they would seldom meet with success, if every individual was not endued with a passion, that, summoning all his strength, inspired him with a transporting eagerness to overcome the obstacles that hinder him in his great work of self-preservation. The passion I describe is called anger. How a creature possessed of this passion and self-liking, when he sees others enjoy what he wants, should be affected with envy, can likewise be no mystery. After labour, the most savage, and the most industrious creature seeks rest: Hence we learn, that all of them are furnished, more or less, with a love of ease: Exerting their strength tires them; and the loss of spirits, experience teaches us, is best repaired by food and sleep. We see that creatures, who, in their way of living, must meet with the greatest opposition, have the greatest share of anger, and are born with offensive arms. If this anger was to employ a creature always, without consideration of the danger he exposed himself to, he would soon be destroyed: For this reason, they are all endued with fear; and the lion himself turns tail, if the hunters are armed, and too numerous. From what we observe in the behaviour of brutes, we have reason to think, [387]that among the more perfect animals, those of the same species have a capacity, on many occasions, to make their wants known to one another; and we are sure of several, not only that they understand one another, but likewise that they may be made to understand us. In comparing our species with that of other animals, when we consider the make of man, and the qualifications that are obvious in him, his superior capacity in the faculties of thinking and reflecting beyond other creatures, his being capable of learning to speak, and the usefulness of his hands and fingers, there is no room to doubt, that he is more fit for society than any other animal we know.

Hor. Since you wholly reject my Lord Shaftsbury’s system, I wish you would give me your opinion at large concerning society, and the sociableness of man; and I will hearken to you with great attention.

Cleo. The cause of sociableness in man, that is, his fitness for society, is no such abstruse matter: A person of middling capacity, that has some experience, and a tolerable knowledge of human nature, may soon find it out, if his desire of knowing the truth be sincere, and he will look for it without prepossession; but most people that have treated on this subject, had a turn to serve, and a cause in view, which they were resolved to maintain. It is very unworthy of a philosopher to say, as Hobbes did, that man is born unfit for society, and allege no better reason for it, than the incapacity that infants come into the world with; but some of his adversaries have as far overshot the mark, when they asserted, that every thing which man can attain to, ought to be esteemed as a cause of his fitness for society.

Hor. But is there in the mind of man a natural affection, that prompts him to love his species beyond what other animals have for theirs; or, are we born with hatred and aversion, that makes us wolves and bears to one another?

Cleo. I believe neither. From what appears to us in human affairs, and the works of nature, we have more reason to imagine, that the desire, as well as aptness of man to associate, do not proceed from his love to others, than we have to believe that a mutual affection of the planets to one another, superior to what they feel to stars more remote, is not the true cause why they keep always moving together in the same solar system. [388]

Hor. You do not believe that the stars have any love for one another, I am sure: Then why more reason?

Cleo. Because there are no phenomena plainly to contradict this love of the planets; and we meet with thousands every day to convince us, that man centres every thing in himself, and neither loves nor hates, but for his own sake. Every individual is a little world by itself, and all creatures, as far as their understanding and abilities will let them, endeavour to make that self happy: This, in all of them, is the continual labour, and seems to be the whole design of life. Hence it follows, that in the choice of things, men must be determined by the perception they have of happiness; and no person can commit, or set about an action, which, at that then present time, seems not to be the best to him.

Hor. What will you then say to, video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor?

Cleo. That only shows the turpitude of our inclinations. But men may say what they please: Every motion in a free agent, which he does not approve of, is either convulsive, or it is not his; I speak of those that are subject to the will. When two things are left to a person’s choice, it is a demonstration that he thinks that most eligible which he chooses, how contradictory, impertinent, or pernicious soever his reason for choosing it may be: Without this, there could be no voluntary suicide; and it would be injustice to punish men for their crimes.

Hor. I believe every body endeavours to be pleased; but it is inconceivable that creatures of the same species should differ so much from one another, as men do in their notions of pleasure; and that some of them should take delight in what is the greatest aversion to others: All aim at happiness; but the question is, Where is it to be found?

Cleo. It is with complete felicity in this world, as it is with the philosopher’s stone: Both have been sought after many different ways, by wise men as well as fools, though neither of them has been obtained hitherto: But in searching after either, diligent inquirers have often stumbled by chance on useful discoveries of things they did not look for, and which human sagacity, labouring with design à priori, never would have detected. Multitudes of our species may, in any habitable part of the globe, assist one another in a common defence, and be raised into a politic body, in which men shall live comfortably together for many centuries, without being [389]acquainted with a thousand things, that if known, would every one of them be instrumental to render the happiness of the public more complete, according to the common notions men have of happiness. In one part of the world, we have found great and flourishing nations that knew nothing of ships; and in others, traffic by sea had been in use above two thousand years, and navigation had received innumerable improvements, before they knew how to sail by the help of the loadstone: It would be ridiculous to allege this piece of knowledge, either as a reason why man first chose to go to sea, or as an argument to prove his natural capacity for maritime affairs. To raise a garden, it is necessary that we should have a soil and a climate fit for that purpose. When we have these, we want nothing besides patience, but the seeds of vegetables and proper culture. Fine walks and canals, statues, summer-houses, fountains, and cascades, are great improvements on the delights of nature; but they are not essential to the existence of a garden. All nations must have had mean beginnings; and it is in those, the infancy of them, that the sociableness of man is as conspicuous as it can be ever after. Man is called a sociable creature chiefly for two reasons: First, because it is commonly imagined that he is naturally more fond and desirous of society, than any other creature. Secondly, because it is manifest, that associating in men turns to better account than it possibly could do in other animals, if they were to attempt it.

Hor. But why do you say of the first, that it is commonly imagined; is it not true then?

Cleo. I have a very good reason for this caution. All men born in society, are certainly more desirous of it than any other animal; but whether man be naturally so, that is a question: But, if he was, it is no excellency, nothing to brag of: The love man has for his ease and security, and his perpetual desire of meliorating his condition, must be sufficient motives to make him fond of society, concerning the necessitous and helpless condition of his nature.

Hor. Do not you fall into the same error, which, you say, Hobbes has been guilty of, when you talk of man’s necessitous and helpless condition?

Cleo. Not at all; I speak of men and women full grown; and the more extensive their knowledge is, the higher their quality, and the greater their possessions are, the more necessitous and helpless they are in their nature. A nobleman of [390]twenty-five or thirty thousand pounds a-year, that has three or four coaches and six, and above fifty people to serve him, is in his person considered singly, abstract from what he possesses, more necessitous than an obscure man that has but fifty pounds a-year, and is used to walk a-foot; so a lady, who never stuck a pin in herself, and is dressed and undressed from head to foot like a jointed baby by her woman, and the assistance of another maid or two, is a more helpless creature than doll the diary-maid, who, all the winter long, dresses herself in the dark in less time than the other bestows in placing of her patches.

Hor. But is the desire of meliorating our condition which you named, so general, that no man is without it?

Cleo. Not one that can be called a sociable creature; and I believe this to be as much a characteristic of our species as any can be named: For there is not a man in the world, educated in society, who, if he could compass it by wishing, would not have something added to, taken from, or altered in his person, possessions, circumstances, or any part of the society he belongs to. This is what is not to be perceived in any creature but man; whose great industry in supplying what he calls his wants, could never have been known so well as it is, if it had not been for the unreasonableness, as well as multiplicity of his desires. From all which, it is manifest, that the most civilized people stand most in need of society, and consequently, none less than savages. The second reason for which I said man was called sociable, is, that associating together turned to better account in our species than it would do in any other, if they were to try it. To find out the reason of this, we must search into human nature for such qualifications as we excel all other animals in, and which the generality of men are endued with, taught or untaught: But in doing this, we should neglect nothing that is observable in them, from their most early youth to their extreme old age.

Hor. I cannot see why you use this precaution, of taking in the whole age of man; would it not be sufficient to mind those qualifications which he is possessed of, when he is come to the height of maturity, or his greatest perfection?

Cleo. A considerable part of what is called docility in creatures, depends upon the pliableness of the parts, and their fitness to be moved with facility, which are either entirely lost, or very much impaired, when they are full grown. There is [391]nothing in which our species so far surpasses all others, than in the capacity of acquiring the faculty of thinking and speaking well: that this