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rating spirit of the whigs seems of late to have reconciled the cabolics to that party.
The molinists and jansenists in France have a thousand unintelligible disputes, which are not worthy the reflection of a man of sense : But what principally diftinguishes these two fects, and alone merits attention, is the different spirit of their religion. The molinists, conducted by the jesuiles, are great friends to superstition, rigid observers of external forms and ceremonies, and devoted to the authority of the priests, and to tradition. The jansenists are enthusiasts, and zealous promoters of the passionate devotion, and of the inward life ; little influenced by authority; and, in a word, but half catholics. The consequences are exactly conformable to the foregoing reasoning. The jesuites are the tyrants of the people, and the Naves of the court : And the jansenists preserve alive the small sparks of the love of liberty, which are to be found in the French nation.
S S A Y
O n is easy to obferve, that comic writers exaggerate every character, and
I draw their fop, or coward with stronger features than are any where to be met with in nature. This moral kind of painting for the stage has been often compared to the painting for cupolas and cielings, where the colors are overcharged, and every part is drawn excessively large, and beyond nature. The figures feem monstrous and disproportioned, when seen too nigh; but become. natural and regular, when set at a distance, and placed in that point of view, in which they are intended to be surveyed. For a like reason, when characters are exhibited in theatrical representations, the want of reality removes, in a manner, the personages; and rendering thern more cold and unentertaining, makes it necefsary to compensate, by the force of coloring, what they want in substance. Thus we find in common life, that when a man once allows himself to depart from truth in his narrations, he never can keep within the bounds of probability; but adds still fome new circumstance to render his stories more marvellous, and to satisfy his imagination. Two men in buckram suits became eleven to Sir John FALSTAFF before the end of his story.
THERE is only one vice, which may be found in life with as strong features, and as high a coloring as need be employed by any fatyrist or comic poet; and that is Avarice. Every day we meet with men of immenfe fortunes, without heirs, and on the very brink of the grave, who refuse themselves the most common neceffaries of life, and go on heaping possessions on possessions, under all the real pressures of the feverest poverty. An old usurer, says the story, lying in his last agonies was presented by the priest with the crucifix to worship. He opens his eyes a moment before he expires, considers the crucifix, and cries, These jewels are not true; I can only lend ten pistoles upon such a pledge. This was probably the invention of some epigrammatist; and yet every one, from his own experience, H 2
may be able to recollect almost as strong instances of perseverance in avarice. 'Tis commonly reported of a famous miser in this city, that finding himself near death, he sent for some of the magistrates, and gave them a bill of an hundred pounds, payable after his decease, which sum he intended should be disposed of in charitable uses; but scarce were they gone, when he orders them to be called back, and offers them ready money, if they would abate five pounds of the sum. Another noted miser in the north, intending to defraud his heirs, and leave his forcune to the building an hospital, protracted the drawing of his will from day to day; and 'tis thought, that if those interested in it had not paid for the drawing it, he had died intestate. In short, none of the most furious exceffes of love and ambition are in any respect to be compared to the extremes of avarice.
The best excuse that can be made for avarice is, that it generally prevails in old men, or in men of cold tempers, where all the other affections are extinct ; and the mind being incapable of remaining without some passion or pursuit, at last finds out this monstrously absurd one, which suits the coldness and inactivity of its temper. At the same time, it seems very extraordinary, that so frosty, spiritless a passion should be able to carry us farther than all the warmth of youth and pleasure. But if we look more narrowly into the matter, we shall find, that this very circumstance renders the explication of the case more easy. When the temper is warm and full of vigor, it naturally shoots out more ways than one, and produces inferior passions to counter-balance, in some degree, its predominant inclination. 'Tis impossible for a person of that temper, however bent on any purfuit, to be deprived of all sense of shame, or all regard to the sentiments of mankind. His friends must have some influence over him: And other considerations are apt to have their weight. All this serves to restrain him within some bounds. But 'tis no wonder that the avaritious man, being, from the coldness of his temper, without regard to reputation, to friendship, or to pleasure, should be carried so far by his prevailing inclination, and should display his passion in such surprizing instances. ..
ACCORDINGLY we find no vice so irreclaimable as avarice: And tho' there scarcely has been a moralist or philosopher, from the beginning of the world to this day, who has not levelled a stroke at it, we hardly find a single instance of any person's being cured of it. For this reason, I am more apt to approve of those, who attack it with wit and humor, than of those who treat it in a serious manner.
There being so little hopes of doing good to the people infected with this vice, I would have the rest of mankind, at least, diverted by our manner of exposing it: As indeed there is no kind of diversion, of which they seem so willing to partake.
AMONG the fables of Monsieur de la Morte, there is one levelled against avarice, which seems to me more natural and easy, than most of the fables of that ingenious author. A miser, says he, being dead, and fairly interred, came to the banks of the Styx, desiring to be ferried over along with the other ghosts. CHARON demands his fare, and is surprized to see the miser, rather than pay it, throw himself into the river, and swim over to the other side, notwithstanding all the clamor and opposition that could be made to him. All hell was in an uproar; and each of the judges was meditating fome punishment, suitable to a crime of such dan
gerous consequence to the infernal revenues. Shall he be chained to the rock with PROMETHEUS? Or tremble below the precipice in company with the Danaides? Or aslift Sisyphus in rolling his stone ? No, says Minos, none of these. We must invent some feverer punishment. Let him be sent back to the earth, to see the use his heirs are making of his riches. . I hope it will not be interpreted as a design of setting myself in opposition to this celebrated author, if I proceed to deliver a fable of my own, which is intended to expose the same vice of avarice. The hint of it was taken from these lines of Mr. POPE.
Damned to the mines, an equal fate betides
The Aave that digs it, and the save that bides. Our old mother Earth once lodged an indictment against AVARICE before the courts of heaven, for her wicked and malicious council and advice, in tempting, inducing, persuading, and traiterously seducing the children of the plaintiff to commit the detestable crime of parricide upon her, and, mangling her body, ransack her very bowels for hidden treasure. The indictment was very long and verbose; but we must omit a great part of the repetitions and synonymous terms, not to tire our reader too much with our tale. AVARICE, being called before JUPITER to answer to this charge, had not much to say in her own defence. The injury was clearly proved upon her. " The fact, indeed, was notorious, and the injury had been frequently repeated. When therefore the plaintiff demanded justice, Jun Piter very readily gave sentence in her favor; and his decree was to this purpose, That since dame Avarice, the defendant, had thus grievously injured dame Earth, the plaintiff, she was hereby ordered to take that treasure, of which she had feloniously robbed the said plaintiff, by ransacking her bosom, and in the same manner, as before, opening her bosom, restore it back to her, without dimunition or retention. From this sentence, it shall follow, says Jupiter to the by-standers, That, in all future ages, the retainers of Avarice shall bury and conceal their riches, and thereby restore to the earth what they took from her.
E S S A Y . XIV. OF THE DIGNITY OF HUMAN NATURE.
MT HERE are certain sects, which secretly form themselves in the learned
world, as well as in the political ; and tho' sometimes they come not to an open rupture, yet they give a different turn to the ways of thinking of those who have taken party on either side. The most remarkable of this kind are the feets. that are founded on the different sentiments with regard to the dignity of buman nature, which is a point that seems to have divided philosophers and poets, as well as divines, from the beginning of the world to this day. Some exalt our species to the skies, and represent man as a kind of human demi-god, who derives his origin from heaven, and retains evident marks of his lineage and descent.
Others insist upon the blind fides of human nature, and can discover nothing, except vanity, in which man surpasses the other animals, whom he affects so much to despise. If an author poflefies the talent of rhetoric, and declamation, he cominonly takes party with the former ; If his turn lies towards irony and ridicule, he naturally throws himself into the other extreme.
I Am far from thinking, that all those, who have depreciated human nature have been enemies to virtue, and have exposed the frailties of their fellow-creatures with any bad intention. On the contrary, I am sensible, that a very delicate sense of morals, especially when attended with somewhat of the Misanthrope, is apt to give a man a disgust of the world, and to make him consider the common course of human affairs with too much spleen and indignation. I must, however, be of opinion, that the sentiments of those, who are inclined to think favorably of mankind, are much more advantageous to virtue, than the contrary principles which give us a mean opinion of our nature. When a man is poffeffed of a high notion of his rank and character in the creation, he will naturally endeavor to act up to it, and will scorn to do a base or vicious action, which might sink him below that figure which he makes in his own imagination. Accordingly we find, that all our polite and fashionable moralists insist upon this topic, and endeavor to represent vice as unworthy of man, as well as odious in itself. .. · Women are generally much more fattered in their youth than men; which may proceed from this reason, among others, that their chief point of honor is considered as much more difficult than ours, and requires to be supported by all that decent pride, which can be instilled into them. ,
We find very few disputes which are not founded on fomnę ambiguity in the expression ; and I am persuaded, that the present dispute concerning the dignity of human nature, is not more exempt from it than any other. It may, therefore, be worth while to consider, what is real, and what is only verbal, in chis controversy.
That there is a natural difference betwixt meric and demerit, virtue and vicę, wisdom and folly, no reasonable man will deny ; but yet 'tis evident, that in affixing the term, which denotes either our approbation or blame, we are commonly more influenced by comparison than by any fixt unalterable standard in the nature of things. In like manner, quantity, and extension, and bulk, are by every one acknowleged to be real things : But when we call any animal great or little, we always form a secret comparison between that animal and others of the fame species, and 'tis that comparison which regulates our judgment concerning its greatness. A dog and a horse may be of the very fame fize, while the one is admired for the greatness of its bulk, and the other for the smallness. When I am present, therefore, at any dispute, I always consider with myself, whether it be a question of comparison or not that is the subject of the controversy ; and if it be, whether the disputants compare the same objects together, or talk of things that are widely different. As the latter is commonly the case, I have long since learnt to neglect fuch disputes as manifest abuses of leisure, che most valuable prefent that could be made to mortals..
In forming our notions of human nature, we are very apt to make a comparifon betwixt men and animals, which are the only creatures endowed with thought that fall under our senses. Certainly this comparison is very favorable to man, kind. On the one hand we fee a creature, whose thoughts are not limited by any narrow bounds, either of place or time ; who carries his researches into the most distant regions of this globe, and beyond this globe, to the planets and heavenly bodies; looks backward to consider the first origin of human race; casts his eyes forward to see the influence of his actions upon posterity, and the judgments which will be formed of his character a thousand years hence; a creature, who traces causes and effects to a great length and intricacy ; extracts general principles from particular appearances; improves upon his discoveries; corrects his mistakes; and makes his very errors profitable. On the other hand, we are presented with a creature the very reverse of this; limited in its observations and reasonings to a few fenfible objects which surround it; without curiosity, without foresight; blindly conducted by inítinct, and arriving in a very short time, at its utmost perfection, beyond which it is never able to advancé a single step. What a wide difference is there betwixt these creatures ! And how exalted a notion must we entertain of the former, in comparison of the latter ! · THERE are two means commonly employed to destroy this conclusion: First, By making an unfair representation of the cafe, and insisting only upon the weaknesses of human nature. And secondly, By forming a new and fecret comparison between man and beings of the most perfect wisdom.'' Among the other excelJencies of man, this is remarkable, that he can form å notion of perfections much beyond' what he has experience of in himself; and is not limited in his concepcion of wisdom and virtue. He can easily exalt his notions, and conceive a de. gree of knowlege, which, when compared to his own, will make the latter appear very contemptible, and will cause the difference betwixt chat and the sagacity of aninals, in a manner, to disappear and vanish.' Now this being a point, in which all the world is agreed, that human understanding falls infinitely short of perfect wisdom : 'Tis proper we should know when this comparison takes place, that we may not dispute, where there is no real difference in our sentiments. Man falls much shorter of perfect wisdom, and even of his own ideas of perfect wisdom, than animals do of man; but yet the latter difference is so considerable, that nothing but a comparison with the former, can make it appear of little moment.
'Tis also very usual to compare one man with another; and finding very few whom we can call wise or virtuous, we are apt to entertain a contempcible notion of our species in general. That we may be sensible of the fallacy of this way of reasoning, we may observe, that the honorable appellations of wise and virtuous, are not annexed to any particular degree of chose qualities of wisdom and 'virtue ; but arife altogether from the comparison we make betwixt one man and another. When we find a man, who arrives at such a pitch of wisdom as is very uncommon, we pronounce him a wise man : So that to say, there are few' wife men in the world, is really to say nothing; since 'tis only by their scarcity, that they merit that appellation. Were the lowest of our fpecies as wise as TULLY, or my lord Bacon, we should still have reason to say, that there are few wise men. For in that case we should exalt our notions of wisdom, and should not pay a fingular honor to any one, who was not singularly distinguished by his talents. In like manner, I have heard it observed by thoughtless people, that there are few women poffeffed of beauty, in comparison of those who want it, not considering, that we bestow the epithet of beautiful only on such as possess a degree of beauty,