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served, the Androgyne is perfectly restored, and human race enjoy the same hapo piness as in their primæval state. The seam is scarce perceived that joins the two beings; but both of them combine to form one perfect and happy creature.
THERE is nothing which I would recommend more earnestly to my female
readers than the study of history, as an occupation, of all others, the best suited both to their sex and education, much more instructive than their ordinary books of amusement, and more entertaining than those serious compositions, which are usually to be found in their closets. Among other important truths, which they may learn from history, they may be informed of two particulars, the knowlege of which may contribute very much to their quiet and repose; That our sex, as well as theirs, are far from being such perfect creatures as they are apt to imagine, and, That Love is not the only paflion, which governs the male-world, but is often overcome by avarice, ambition, vanity, and a thousand other passions. Whether they be the false representations of mankind in those two particulars, which endear romances and novels so much to the fair sex, I know not ; but must confess, that I am sorry to see them have such an aversion to matter of fact, and such an appetite for falfhood. I remember I was once desired by a young beauty, for whom I had some passion, to send her some novels and romances for her amusement in the country ; but was not so ungenerous as to take the advantage, which such a course of reading might have given me, being resolved not to make use of poisoned arms against her. I therefore sent her PLUTARCH's lives, assuring her, at the same time, that there was not a word of truth in them from beginning to end. She perused them very attentively, 'till she came to the lives of ALEXANDER and CÆSAR, whose names she had heard of by accident; and then returned me the book, with many reproaches for deceiving her. .
I MAY indeed be told, that the fair sex have no such aversion to history, as I have represented, provided it be secret history, and contain some memorable transaction proper to excite their curiosity. But as I do not find that truth, which is the basis of history, is at all regarded in those anecdotes, I cannot admit of this as a proof of their passion for that study. However this may be, I see not why the same curiosity might not receive a more proper direction, and lead them to desire accounts of those who lived in past ages as well as of their contemporaries. What is it to CLEORA, whether FuLVIA entertains a secret commerce of Love with Philander or not? Has The not equal reason to be pleased, when she is informed, (what is whispered about among historians) that Caro's sister had an in-, trigue with CÆSAR, and palmed her son, Marcus Brutus, upon her husband
for his own, tho' in reality, he was her gallant's ? And are not the loves of MesSALINA or JULIA as proper subjects of discourse as any intrigue that this city has produced of late years?
But I know not whence it comes, that I have been thus seduced into a kind of raillery against the ladies : Unless, perhaps, it proceed from the same cause, which · makes the person, who is the favourite of the company, be often the object of their good-natured jests and pleasantries. We are pleased to address ourselves after any manner to one, who is agreeable to us; and, at the same time, presume, that nothing will be taken amiss by a person, who is secure of the good opinion and affections of every one present. I shall now proceed to handle my subject more seriously, and shall point out the many advantages, which flow from the study of history, and show how well suited it is to every one, but particularly to those who are debarred the severer studies, by the tenderness of their complexion, and the weakness of their education. The advantages found in history seem to be of three kinds, as it amuses the fancy, as it improves the understanding, and as it strengthens virtue.
In reality, what more agreeable entertainment to the mind, than to be transported into the remotest ages of the world, and to observe human society, in its infancy, making the first faint essays towards the arts and sciences: To see the policy of government, and the civility of conversation refining by degrees, and every thing which is ornamental to human life advancing towards its perfection. To remark the rise, progress, declension and final extinction of the most flourishing empires : The virtues, which contributed to their greatness; and the vices, which drew on their ruin. In short, to see all human race, from the beginning of time, pass, as it were, in review before us; appearing in their true colours, without any of those disguises, which, during their life-time, so much perplexed the judgment of the beholders. What spectacle can be imagined so magnificent, so various, so interesting? What amusement, either of the lenses or imagination, can be compared with it? Shall those trifling pastimes, which engross so much of our time, be preferred as more satisfactory, and more fit to engage our attention? How perverse must that taste be, which is capable of so wrong a choice of pleasures?
But history is a most improving part of knowlege, as well as an agreeable amusement; and a great part of what we commonly call Erudition, and value fo highly, is nothing but an acquaintance with historical facts. An extensive knowlege of this kind, belongs to men of letters; but I must think it an unpardonable ignorance in persons of whatever sex or condition, not to be acquainted with the history of their own country, together with the histories of ancient Greece and Rome. A woman may behave herself with good manners, and have even some vivacity in her turn of wit; but where her mind is so unfurnished, 'tis impossible her conversation can afford any entertainment to men of sense and reflection.
I must add, That history is not only a valuable part of knowlege, but opens the door to many other parts, and affords materials to most of the sciences. And indeed, if we consider the shortness of human life, and our limited knowlege, even of what passes in our own time, we must be sensible, that we should be for ever children in understanding, were it not for this invention, which extends our experience to all past ages, and to the most distant nations; making them contribute E 2
as much to our improvement in wisdom, as if they had actually lain under our observation. A man acquainted with history may, in some respect, be said to have lived from the beginning of the world, and to have been making continual additions to his stock of knowlege in every century.
There is also an advantage in that experience which is acquired by history, above what is learned by the practice of the world, that it brings us acquainted with human affairs, without diminishing in the least from the most delicate sentia ments of virtue. And, to tell the truth, I know not any study or occupation so unexceptionable as history in this particular. Poets can paint virtue in the most charming colours; but, as they address themselves entirely to the passions, they often become advocates for vice. Even, philosophers are apt to bewilder chemselves in the subtilty of their speculations; and we have seen some go so far as to deny the reality of all moral distinctions. But I think it a remark worthy the attention of the speculative, that the historians have been, almost without exception, the true friends of virtue, and have always represented it in its proper colors, however they may have erred in their judgments of particular persons. MACHIAvel himself discovers a true sentiment of virtue in his history of FLORENCE. When he talks as a Politician, in his general reasonings, he considers poisoning, affaflination and perjury as lawful arts of power ; but when he speaks as an Historian, in his particular narrations, he shews so keen an indignation against vice, and so warm an approbation of virtue, in many passages, that I could not forbear applying to him that remark of HORACE, That if you chase away nature, tho' with ever so great indignity, she will always return upon you. Nor is this combination of historians in favor of virtue at all difficult to be accounted for. When a man of business enters into life and action, he is more apt to consider the characters of men, as they have relation to his interest, than as they stand in themselves; and has his judgment warped on every occasion by the violence of his passion. When a philosopher contemplates characters and manners in his closet, the general ab. stract view of the objects leaves the mind so cold and unmoved, that the sentiments of nature have no room to play, and he scarce feels the difference between vice and virtue. History keeps in a juft medium betwixt these extremes, and places the objects in their true point of view. The writers of history, as well as the readers, are sufficiently interested in the characters and events, to have a lively sentiment of blame or praise ; and, at the same time, have no particular interest or concern to pervert their judgment.
Vere voces tum demum peftore ab imo
E S S A Y VIII. OF THE INDEPENDENCY OF PARLIAMENT.
T HAVE frequently observed, in comparing the conduct of the court and I country parties, that the former are commonly lefs aliuming and dogmatical in conversation, more apt to make concessions, and tho'not, perhaps, more sulceptible of conviction, yet more able to bear contradiction than the latter; who are apt to ny out upon any opposition, and to regard one as a mercenary designing fellow, if he argues with any coolness and impartiality, or makes any concessions to their adversaries. This is a fact, which, I believe, every one may have observed, who has been much in companies where political questions have been discussed ; tho' were one to ask the reason of this difierence, every party would be apt to allign a different one. Gentlemen in the Opposition will afcribe it to the very nature of their party, which, being founded on public spirit, and a zeal for the constitution, cannot easily endure such doctrines, as are of pernicious consequence to liberty.. The courtiers, on the other hand, will be apt to put us in mind of the clown mentioned by lord SHAFTSBURY, « A clown, says that * ex" cellent author, once took a fancy to hear the Latin disputes of doctors at an " university. He was asked what pleasure he could take in viewing such com« batants, when he could never know so much, as which of the parties had the “ better. For that matter, replied the clown, I a’n't such a fool neither, but I " can see who's the first that puts t'other into a pasion. Nature herself dictated this « lesson to the clown, that he who had the better of the argument would be easy " and well-humored : But he who was unable to support his caufe by reason, 66 would naturally lose his temper, and grow violent."
To which of these reasons shall we adhere? To neither of them, in my opinion ; unless we have a mind to inlift ourselves, and become zealots in either party. I believe I can assign the reason of this different conduct of the two parties, without offending either. The country party are plainly most popular at present, and, perhaps, have been so in most administrations : So that, being accustomed to prevail in company, they cannot endure to hear their opinions controverted, but are as confident on the public favor, as if they were supported in all their sentiments by the most infallible demonstration. The courtiers, on the other hand, are commonly so run down by popular talkers, that if you speak to them with any moderation, or make them the smallest concessions, they think themselves extremely beholden to you, and are apt to return the favor by a like moderation and facility on their part. To be furious and passionate, they know, would only gain them the character of mameless mercenaries; not that of zealous patriots, which is the character that such a warm behavior is apt to acquire to the other party.
In all controversies, we find, without regarding the truth or falshood on either side, that those who defend the established and popular opinions, are always the most dogmatical and imperious in their ftile: While their adversaries affect a most * Miscellaneous Reflections, p. 107.
extraordinary gentleness and moderation, in order to sofren, as much as posible, any prejudices that may lye against them. Consider the behaviour of our freethinkers of all denominations, whether they be such as decry all revelation, or only oppose the exorbitant power of the clergy; COLLINS, TINDAL, Foster, HOADLEY. Compare their moderation and good-manners, with the zeal and even fcurrility of their adversaries, and you will be convinced of the truth of my observation. A like difference may be observed in the conduct of those FRENCH wri. ters, who maintained the controversy with regard to ancient and modern learning. BOILEAU, Monsieur & Modame DACIER, lAbbe de Bos, who defended the party of the ancients, mixed their reasonings 'with satyre and invective: While FonteNelle, la Motte, CHARPENTIER, and even PERRAULT never transgressed the bounds of moderation and good-breeding; tho'provoked by the most severe railleries of their adversaries.
I am led into this train of reflection, by considering some papers wrote upon that grand topic of court-influence, and parliamentary dependence, where, in my humble opinion, the country party, besides vehemence and satyre, shew too rigid an inflexibility, and too great a jealousy of making concessions to their adversaries. Their reasonings lose their force, by being carried too far; and the popularity of their opinions has feduced them to neglect, in some measure, their jultness and solidity. The following reasoning will, I hope, serve to justify me in this opinion.
POLITICAL writers have established it as a maxim, That in contriving any syftem of government, and fixing the several checks and controuls of the constitution, every man ought to be supposed a knave, and to have no other end, in all his actions, but private interest. By this interest we must govern him, and, by means of it, make him co-operate to public good, notwithstanding his insatiable avarice and ambition. Without this, say they, we shall in vain boast of the advantages of any conftitution, and shall find, in the end, that we have no security for our liberties or possessions, except the good-will of our rulers ; that is, we shall have no security at all.
'Tis therefore a juft political maxim, That every man must be supposed a knave : Tho' at the same time, it appears somewhat strange, that a maxim should be true in politics, which is false in fact. But to satisfy us on this head, we may consider, that men are generally more honest in their private than in their public character, and will go greater lengths to serve a party, than when their own private interest is alone concerned. Honor is a great check upon mankind : But where a considerable body of men act together, this check is, in a great measure, removed ; since a man is sure to be approved of by his own party, for what promotes the common interest, and he foon learns to despise the clamors of his adversaries. To which we may add, that every court or senate is determined by the majority; so that, if self-interest influences only the majority, (as it will always do) the whole fenate follows the allurements of this separate interest, and acts as if it contained not one member, who had any regard to public interest and
When there offers, therefore, to our censure, and examination, any plan of government, real or imaginary, where the power is distributed among several courts, and several orders of men, we should always consider the private interest