Abbildungen der Seite

beyond all doubt, a most authentic branch, of whom I therefore cannot, without injustice, here omit to make honourable mention, since they appeared to be so closely allied, in point of interest as well as inclinations, with their brother Æolists among us, as not only to buy their winds by wholesale from the same merchants, but also to retail them after the same rate and method, and to customers much alike.

Now, whether the system here delivered was wholly compiled by Jack, or, as some writers believe, rather copied from the original at Delphos, with certain additions and emendations suited to the times and circumstances, I shall not absolutely determine. This I may affirm, that Jack gave it at least a new turn, and formed it into the same dress and model as it lies deduced by me.

I have long sought after this opportunity of doing justice to a society of men for whom I have a peculiar honour, and whose opinions, as well as practices, have been extremely misrepresented and traduced by the malice or ignorance of their adversaries. For I think it one of the greatest and best of human actions to remove prejudices, and place things in their truest and fairest light, which I therefore boldly undertake, without any regards of my own, besides the conscience, the honour, and the thanks.




NOR shall it anywise detract from the just reputation of this famous sect, that its rise and institution are owing to such an author as I have described Jack to be, a person whose intellectuals were overturned, and his brain shaken out of its natural position, which we commonly suppose to be a distemper, and call by the name of madness, or frenzy. For if we take a survey of the greatest actions that have been performed in the world under the influence of single men, which are, the establishment of new empires by conquest, the advance and progress of new schemes in philosophy, and the contriving, as well as the propagating, of new religions, we shall find the authors of them all to have been persons whose natural reasons had admitted great revolutions from their diet, their education, the prevalency of some certain temper, together with the particular influence of air

and climate. Besides, there is something individual in human minds that easily kindles at the accidental approach and collision of certain circumstances, which, though of paltry and mean appearance, do often flame out into the greatest emergencies of life. For the great turns are not always given by strong hands, but by lucky adaption, and at proper seasons. And it is of no import where the fire was kindled, if the vapour has once got up into the brain. For the upper region of man is furnished like the middle region of the air, the materials are formed from causes of the widest difference, yet produce at last the same substance and effect. Mists arise from the earth, steams from dunghills, exhalations from the sea, and smoke from fire, yet all clouds are the same in compositions, as well as consequences, and the fumes issuing from a jakes will furnish as comely and useful a vapour as incense from an altar. Thus far, I suppose, will easily be granted me; and then it will follow, that as the face of nature never produces rain but when it is overcast and disturbed, so human understanding, seated in the brain, must be troubled and overspread by vapours, ascending from the lower faculties, to water the invention and render it fruitful. Now, although these vapours (as it hath been already said) are of as various origins as those of the skies, yet the crops they produce differ both in kind and degree merely according to the soil. I will produce two instances to prove and explain what I am now advancing.

A certain great prince raised a mighty army, filled his coffers with infinite treasures, provided an invincible fleet, and all this without giving the least part of his design to his greatest ministers or his nearest favourites. Immediately the whole world was alarmed, the neighbouring crowns in trembling expectations towards what point the storm would burst, the small politicians everywhere forming profound conjectures. Some believed he had laid a scheme for universal monarchy; others, after much insight, determined the matter to be a project of pulling down the pope, and setting up the reformed religion, which had once been his own. Some again, of a deeper sagacity, sent him into Asia, to subdue the Turk, and recover Palestine. In the midst of all these projects and preparations, a certain statesurgeon, gathering the nature of the disease by these symptoms, attempted the cure; at one blow performed the operation, broke the bag, and out flew the vapour. Nor did anything want to render it a complete remedy, only that the prince unfortunately happened to die in the performance. Now is the reader exceeding curious to learn from whence this vapour took its rise, which had so long set the nations at a gaze? what secret wheel, what hidden spring, could put into motion so wonderful an engine? It was afterwards discovered that the movement of

* This was Harry the Great of France.

+ Ravillac, who stabbed Henry the Great in his coach.

this whole machine had been directed by an absent female, whose eyes had raised a protuberancy, and, before emission, she was removed into an enemy's country. What should an unhappy prince do in such ticklish circumstances as these? He tried in vain the poet's never-failing receipt of corpora quæque: For,

Idque petit corpus mens, unde est saucia amore; Unde feritur, eo tendit, gestitque coire.-Lucretia. Having to no purpose used all peaceable endeavours, the collected part of the semen, raised and inflamed, became a dust, converted to choler, turned head upon the spinal duct, and ascended to the brain. The very same principle that influences a bully to break the windows of a woman who has jilted him naturally stirs up a great prince to raise mighty armies, and dream of nothing but sieges, battles, and victories.


Teterrimi belli

The other instance is, what I have read somewhere, in a very ancient author, of a mighty king,* who for the space of above thirty years amused himself to take and lose towns, beat armies and be beaten, drive princes out of their dominions, fright children from their bread and butter, burn, lay waste, blunder, dragoon, massacre subject and stranger, friend and foe, male and female. It is recorded that the philo

* This is meant of the French king, Louis XIV.

« ZurückWeiter »