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horns; the dames of Europe clapped a purse in his hand; and the virgins of Congo furnished him with a tail. Since that time, all the vows addressed to Love are in reality paid to the idol ; but, as in other false religions, the adoration seems most fervent where the heart is least sincere.
TO THE SAME.
MANKIND have ever been prone to expatiate on the praise of human nature. The dignity of man is a subject that has always been the favourite theme of humanity ; they have declaimed with that ostentation, which usually accompanies such as are sure of having a partial audience : they have obtained victories because there were none to oppose.
Yet from all I have ever read or seen, men appear more apt to err by having too high, than by having too despicable an opinion of their nature ; and by attempting to exalt their original, place in the creation, depress their real value in society.
The most ignorant nations have always been found to think most highly of themselves. The Deity has ever been thought peculiarly concerned in their glory and preservation; to have fought their battles, and inspired their teachers : their wizards are said to be
familiar with Heaven : and every hero has a guard of angels, as well as men, to attend him. When the Portuguese first came among the wretched inhabitants of the coast of Africa, these savage nations readily allowed the strangers more skill in navigation and war ; yet still considered them at best, but as useful servants brought to their coasts, by their guardian serpent, to supply them with luxuries they could have lived without. Though they could grant the Portuguese more riches, they could never allow them to have such a king as their Tottimondelem, who wore a bracelet of shells round his neck, and whose legs were covered with ivory.
In this manner, examine a savage in the history of his country and predecessors; you ever find his war. riors able to conquer armies, and his sages acquainted with more than possible knowledge : human nature is to him an unknown country : he thinks it capable of great things, because he is ignorant of its boundaries; whatever can be conceived to be done he allows to be possible, and whatever is possible he conjectures must have been done. He never measures the actions and powers of others by what himself is able to perforin, nor makes a proper estimate of the greatness of his fellows by bringing it to the standard of his own incapacity. He is satisfied to be one of a country where mighty things have been ; and imagines the fancied power of others reflects a lustre on himself. Thus, by degrees, he loses the idea of his own insignificance in a confused notion of the extraordinary powers of humanity, and is willing to grant extraordinary gifts to every pretender, because unacquainted with their claims.
This is the reason why demi-gods and heroes have ever been erected in times or countries of ignorance and barbarity ; they addressed a people who had high opinions of human nature, because they were ignorant how far it could extend ; they addressed a people who were willing to allow that men should be gods, because they were yet imperfectly acquainted with God, and with man. These impostors knew, that all men are naturally fond of seeing something very great made from the little materials of humanity; that ignorant nations are not more proud of building a tower to reach Heaven, or a pyramid to last for ages, than of raising up a demi-god of their own country and creation. The same pride that erects a colossus or a pyramid, instals a god or an hero : but though the adoring savage can raise his colossus to the clouds, he can exalt the hero not one inch above the standard of humanity; incapable therefore of exalting the idol, he debases himself and falls prostrate before him.
When man has thus acquired an erroneous idea of the dignity of his species, he and the gods become perfectly intimate ; men are but angels, angels are but men, nay but servants that stand in waiting to execute human commands. The Persians, for instance, thus address their prophet Haly*. I salute thee,
glorious Creator, of whom the sun is but the shadow. Masterpiece of the Lord of human creatures, 'Great Star of Justice and Religion. The sea is not rich and liberal but by the gifts of thy munificent hands. The angel treasurer of Heaven reaps
his • harvest in the fertile gardens of the purity of thy
nature. The primum mobile would never dart the ball of the sun through the trunk of Heaven, were it not to serve the morning out of the extreme love
6 she has for thee. The angel Gabriel, messenger of • truth, every day kisses the groundsil of thy gate. • Were there a place more exalted than the most • high throne of God, I would affirm it to be thy
place, O master of the faithful ; Gabriel with all « his art and knowledge is but a mere scholar to thee.' Thus my friend, men think proper to treat angels ; but if indeed there be such an order of beings, with what a degree of satirical contempt must they listen to the songs of little mortals thus flattering each other. Thus to see creatures, wiser indeed than the monkey, and more active than the oyster, claiming themselves the mastery of Heaven ; minims, the tenants of an atom, thus arrogating a partnership in the creation of universal Heaven ! Surely Heaven is kind that launches no thunder at those guilty heads; but it is kind, and regards their follies with pity, nor will destroy creatures that it loved into being.
But whatever success this practice of making demigods might have been attended with in barbarous nations, I do not know that any man became a god in a country, where the inhabitants were refined. Such countries generally have too close an inspection into human weakness, to think it invested with celestial power. They sometimes indeed admit the gods of strangers, or of their ancestors, which had their existence in times of obscurity; their weakness being forgotten, while nothing but their power and their miracles were remembered. The Chinese, for instance, never had a god of their own country; the idols which the vulgar worship at this day were brought from the barbarous nations around them.
The Roman emperors, who pretended to divinity, were generally taught by a poignard that they were mortal
; and Alexander, though he passed among
barbarous countries for a real god, could never persuade his polite countrymen into a similitude of thinking. The Lacedemonians shrewdly complied with his commands by the following sarcastic edict : Ει Αλεξανδρος Θελείαι ειναι Θεος, Θεος, εξω.
, , .
TO THE SAME.
THERE is something irresistibly pleasing in the conversation of a fine woman; even though her tongue be silent, the eloquence of her eyes teaches wisdom. The mind sympathizes with the regularity of the object in view, and struck with external grace, vibrates into respondent harmony. In this agreeable disposition, I lately found myself in company with my friend and his niece. Our conversation turned upon love, which she seemed equally capable of defending and inspiring. We were each of different opinions upon this subject; the lady insisted that it was a natural and universal passion, and produced the happiness of those who cultivated it with proper precaution. My friend denied it to be the work of Nature, but allowed it to have a real existence, and affirmed that it was of infinite service in refining society; while I to keep up the dispute, affirmed it to be merely a name, first used by the cunning part of the fair sex, and admitted by the silly part of ours, therefore no way more natural than taking snuff, or chewing opium.