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guent—we shall experience it so, even when we, with much self-denial, adhere to ; we ke is truly lamented; and when, to avoid shall but feebly oppose its success. He has it, is both our wish and our endeavour. a strong party on his side within our boAnd if the influence of truth may receive soms, who seeks to make us quit opinions, sech hindrance from our natural depra- which are still controuling our affections. sity, from this depravity, even when we If we are not secure from acting contrary have kept out of the way of all, who to our duty, what cogent proofs soever we would encourage us to favour it, there, have of its being such, and what satisfacsurely, must be an high degree of proba- tion soever we have had in its discharge ; bility, that we shall be less mindful of our we are highly concerned to avoid every obigations, when we are not only prompted temptation to offend: and it, undoubtedly, by our own appetites to violate them, but is a very strong one, to hear continually moved thereto by the counsel and example what is likeliest to remove the fear of inof those, whose conversation best pleases dulging our appetites; and continually to us ; and whose opinions and actions will, see, that they who apply to us act as they therefore, come with a more than ordinary advise allow themselves in the liberties recommendation to us.
they would have us to take ; and are under The assent, which we give, upon suffi. none of the checks, which they prompt us cient evidence, to moral truths, could no to throw off. more be unsettled by ridicule and sophis- Though what we did not relish, and try, than that which we give to mathema- what we thought would speedily destroy tical truths, did our minds always retain us, we might not eat, when our companions the same disposition with respect to the shewed themselves fond of it, and pressed ope, that they do, as to the other. us to taste it; yet, if we apprehended no
With regard to the latter, we are never immediate danger from their meal if we willing to be deceived--we always stand were eye-witnesses of its being attended alike affected towards them: our convice with none — -if they were continually extion about them was obtained, at first, pressing their high delight in it, and repeatupon such grounds, as must always remain ing their assurances, that all, either our inour inducements to preserve it: no lust difference towards, or disrelish of it, was could be gratified, no interest served, by only from prejudice and prepossession ; its acting less forcibly upon us : in its de we, very probably, should at length yield, fence the credit of our understanding is and quit both our disgust of their repast, greatly concerned. And how vain musť ria and our dread of its consequences. And if dicule and sophistry be necessarily thought, this might ensue, when we were invited to where their only aim is, that we should partake of that, which was less agreeable acknowledge a superior discernment in to our palates, what should be feared, those persons, whose opposition increases when our company tempted us to that, our contempt of their ignorance, by making which we could be pleased with, and were a plainer discovery of it?
only withheld from by such an apprehenAs for moral truths, they are often dis. sion of danger, as nothing could sooner reagreeable to us-When we have had the move, than our observing those, with whom fullest evidence of them, we want not, oc- we most conversed, to be without it? casionally, the inclination to overlook it. Reason is, certainly, always on the side If, under some circumstances, we are ready of duty. Nor is there, perhaps, any man, to acknowledge its force; there are others, who, when lle seriously considers what is when we will not give it any attention. best for him to do, will not purpose to do Here fancy and hope interpose : a govern- that which is right. But, since we can ing passion allows us only a faint view of, act without consideration in the most imor wholly diverts our notice from, whaté portant articles, and nothing is less likely ever should be our inducement to restrain to be considered, than what we find quite it; and suffers us to dwell on nothing but customary with others--what we see them what will justify, or excuse, us in giving act without remorse or scruple; when we way to it. Our reluctance to admit, that are, day after day, eye-witnesses of our we have not judged as we ought to have associates allowing themselves in a wrong done, is strangely abated, when we there. practice, persisting in it without expressing by are set at liberty to act as we please.
the least dread of its consequences; it is as When the endeavour is to laugh us, or absurd to think, that our moral feeling » argue es, out of those principles that should not be injured thereby, as it is to suppose, that our hands would preserve the often, directly reprove the libertine dissame softness, when they had been for course of his equals, but would recommend years accustomed to the oar, which they himself to none, by expressing the slightest had when they first took it up; or, that approbation of such discourse : He shewed hard labour would affect us as much when it did not please him, though he declined inured to it, as when we entered upon it. saying so.
I will, for the present, take my leave of He forbore that invective against the you with an Italian proverb, and an Eng. manners of the age, which could only irrilish one exactly answerable to it.- tate ; and thought that, at his years, the Dimmi con chi tu vai, sapro chel che fai. fittest censure he could pass on them, would Tell me with whom thou goest, and I'll be to avoid them. It seemed, indeed, his tell thee what thou doest.
particular care, that he might not be reDean Bolton. presented either as a bigot, or a cynic ;
but yet, as he knew how to defend his $ 125. LETTER VI.
principles, so he shewed himself, on every SIR,
proper occasion, neither afraid nor ashamed I know not what I can add on the pre- to engage in their defence. sent subject of our correspondence, that may His conversation was among persons of be of greater service to you than the fol. his own rank, only so far as decorum relowing short relation.-I may not, indeed, quired it should be: their favourite topics be exact in every particular of it, because were so little to his taste, that his leisure I was not at all acquainted with the gentle- hours, where he could have his choice, man whom it concerns ; and because many were passed among those, who had the years have passed since I received an ac- most learning and virtue, and whether disa count of him ; but as my information came tinguished, or not, by their ancestors' worth, from persons, on whose veracity I could would be so by their own. depend, and as what they told me, much He had high notions of his duty to his affected me when I heard it, and has, since, country; but having seen what self-intebeen very often in my thoughts; I fearrestedness, at length, shewed itself, where that the melancholy description, which he had heard the strongest professions of you will here have of human frailty, is patriotism, it made him very cautious but too true in every thing material with whom he engaged, and utterly averse therein.
from determining of any as friends to the At the first appearance of in public, merely because they were opposers town, nothing, perhaps, was more the of the court. topic of conversation, than his merit. He No one judged more rightly of the hurt had read much :: what he had read, as it that must ensue, from irreligion spreading was on the most useful subjects, so he was itself among the common people ; and, thoroughly master of it ; gave an exact therefore, where his example was most reaccount of it, and made very wise reflec- marked, and could be most efficacious, he tions upon it. During his long residence took particular care, that it should proat a distance from our metropolis, he had mote a just reverence of the Deity. met with few, to whom he was not greatly Thus did A. A. set out in the world, and superior, both in capacity and attainments: thus behaved, for some years, nothwithyet this had not in the least disposed him standing the bad examples he had every to dictate, to be positive and assuming, to where before him, among those of his own treat any with contempt or neglect. station. In one of the accomplishments of
He was obliging to all, who came near a gentleman (though, surely, one of the him: talked on the subjects which they very meanest of them) he was thought to best understood, and which would be like. excel; and many
speeches were made liest to induce them to take their full share him upon that account. They were but of the conversation.
too much regarded by him; and, graduThey, who had spent every winter near ally, drew him often into the company that the court, saw nothing in his behaviour, he would have despised, had he heard less that shewed how far he had lived from it of his own praise in it. The compliments --Dothing which was less suitable to any so repeatedly paid him by the frivolous civility, that could be learned in it. reconciled him, at length, to them. As
His manners were only less courtly, in his attachment to them got ground, his their simplicity and purity. He did not, seriousness lost it.
seriousness lost it. The patriot was no
more-The zeal he had for the morals of It is next to be considered, what you his countrymen abated.
may fear from an intimacy with the im. The tragical conclusion of his story let moral, when they must look upon them. those tell you, who would not feel that selves to be reproached by such of their concern at the relation of it, which I should acquaintance, as will not concur with them do: this you certainly may learn from it- in their excesses. They cannot but do this ; That, as the constant dropping of water because all who seek either to make them wears away the hardest stone, so the con. alter their manners, or to weaken their intirual solicitations of the vicious are not to fluence upon others, charge them with be withstood by the firmest mind-All, what is really, the highest reproach to them; who are in the way of them, will be hurt and because they are sensible, that the ar. by thems—Wheresoever they are used, they guments likeliest to be used by any one for will make an impression-He only is se- his not complying with them, are ground. Cure from their force, who will not' hazard ed on the mischief of their conduct, or on its being tried upon him.
its folly._Regard then yourself, as in their In what you have hitherto received from place. Reflect how you would behave tome, I have argued wholly from your own
wards the man whose opinion of you was, dispositions, and endeavoured to shew you, that you acted either a very criminal
, or a from thence, the danger of having bad very imprudent part: reflect, I say, how companions : See now your danger from you would behave towards the
thus their dispositions. And first let these per- judging of you, if you wished to preserve 2008 be considered only, in general, as par- a familiarity with him, but yet, was retial to their notions and practices, and eager solved to persist in your notions and practo defend them.
tice. You, certainly, would try every meWhatever our persuasion or conduct is, thod to remove his distaste of them: you we are usually favourable to it; we have would colour them as agreeably as you our plea for it: very few of us can bear, possibly could: you would spare no pains with any patience, that it should be judged to weaken every objection he could have to irrational : The approbation of it is a com- them—you would in your turn attack his pliment to our understanding, that we ree" maxims and manners ; you would seek to ceive with pleasure; and to censure it, is convince him upon what slight grounds he such a disparagement of us, as doch not fail preferred them to your's—you would apply to disgust us. I will not say, there are none to every artifice, that could give them the to be found, that give themselves little or appearance of being less defensible, or that Do concera who thinks or acts as they do; could incline him to overlook what might bet it is certain, that, ordinarily, we are be urged in their defence. desirous to be joined in the cause we es
And if this might naturally be supposed pouse—we are solicitous to vindicate and the part you would act towards others; spread our opinions, and to have others you ought to expect that they, in the same take the same courses with us. Should I circumstances, would behave alike towards allow you to be as intent on this, as any you. But can you think it prudent to let of your acquaintance are ; yet, pray, consi. ihem try, with what success they may proder what you may expect, when you stand ceed? Would not caution be your most efalone, or when a majority is against you— fectual security? Would it not be the wisest when each of them relieves the other in an method of providing for your safety, to attack upon you—when this attack is, day keep out of the way of danger? after day, repeated when your numerous You are, further, to look upon those, opponents join in applauding, or strength- from associating with whom I would disening, or enlivening their several objections suade you, as extremely solicitous to be to your sentiments; and in treating what kept in countenance. The vicious well ever you can urge in your defence, as ab- know, to how many objections their consurd, or weak and impertinent—when your duct is liable: they are sensible, to what peace can only be purchased by your silence esteem good morals are entitled, what -When you find that there is no hope of praise they claim, and what they, in the bringing those you delight to be with most corrupt tiranes, receive. into your opinions, that they confirm each Virtue is so much for the interest of other in opposition to you, and that you mankind, that there can never be a general can be only agreeable to them, by adopt- agreement, to deny all manner of applause ing their maxims, and conforming to their to the practice of it: such numbers are manners
made sufferers by a departure from its
rules, that there are few crimes, which associating with the vicious : and it is meet not with an extensive censure. The way in which they, ordinarily, seek
You have long since learned it to be the to corrupt those, with whom they conlanguage of paganism itself, that
“ All, who act contrary to what the The logic of the immoral contributes reason of things requires-- who do what but little to increase their numbers, in “ is hurtful to themselves or others, must comparison of what they effect by raillery “ stand self-condemned :" and you cannot
and ridicule. This is their strength; they want to be informed, in what light they are sensible of its being so; and you may are seen by those who do not share their be assured that it will be exerted against guilt. The endeavour, therefore, of such you. There is nothing that cannot be mien, while they are without any purpose jested with ; and there is nothing that we, of amendment, will, unquestionably, be, to universally, bear worse, than to be made make their cause as specious as possible, by the jest of any. engaging many in its defence, and to silence What reasoning on moral subjects may censure, by the danger that would arise not have its force evaded by a man of from the numbers it would provoke. The wit and humour; and receive a turn, that motives to this endeavour, when duly re- shall induce the less considerate to slight flected on, will fully satisfy us, with what it, as weak and inconclusive? The most zeal it must be accompanied; and it may becoming practice--that which is most well, therefore, alarm all, on whom its our duty, and the importance of which power is likely to be tried—may well in- to our present welfare is most evident, a duce them to consider seriously, what they lively fancy easily places in a ridiculous have to fear from it, how much their virtue view, and thereby brings it into an utter may suffer by it.
neglect. Í will conclude this with a short story That reverence of the Deity, which the of the Poet Dante, for which Bayle quotes best both ancient and modern writers have Petrarch. Among other visits made by so strongly recommended—which the worDante, after his banishment from Florence, thiest men in every age have so carefully one was to the then much-famed Can, expressed—which any observation of naPrince of Verona.
ture, any attention to our own frame fails Can treated him at first with great civility; not to inculcate, is yet, by being represented but this did not last: and by the little com- under the garb of superstition or fanaticism, plaisance at length shewn the Poet, he seen among us to such disadvantage, that plainly perceived that he ceased to be an many, our military gentlemen especially, acceptable guest.
appear to take a pride in shewing them. Scholars, it scems, were not Can's fa. selves divested of it. vourites-he liked those much better, who Conjugal fidelity, though of such mo. studied to divert him; and ribaldry was by ment to the peace of families to their no means the discourse that least pleased interest—to the prosperity of the comhim. Suspecting that this did not raise mon wealth, that, by the laws of the wisest Dante's opinion of him, he one day took and best regulated states, the severest pu. occasion to single out the most obnoxious nishment has been inflicted on the vioof the libertine crew that he entertained ; lation of it, is, nevertheless, by the levity, and, after high praises given the man, turn- with which some have treated it, so much, ing to Dante, he said, I wonder how it is, at present, slighted, that the adulterer is that this mad fellow is beloved by us all, as well received : Women, who would think giving us the pleasure which, really, we do it the grossest affront to have their virtue not find in your company, wise as you are questioned, who affect the character of the thought to be.
strictest observers of decorum, shun him Sir, answered the Poet, you would not pot-shew him the utmost complaisance. wonder at this, if you considered, that our Whatever dishonour, in this case, falls love of any proceeds from their manners on any, it accrues wholly to the injured being suitable, and their dispositions similar, person. to our own.
Dean Bolton. Can you assign a better reason, why the § 126. LETTER VII.
intemperate, among the meaner people,
have so prodigiously increased their numSIR,
bers, than the banter they use towards such I have but one thing more to propose as they meet with disposed to sobrietyto your consideration, as a dissuasive from the mockery with which they treat it,
the songs and catches with which they are him-Were we to suppose his natural deso plentifully provided, in derision of it? pravity not heightened by any thing said
I cannot give you the very terms of or done before him, in derision of virtue Lord Shaftesbury, as I have not his works; or the virtuous ; yet the effects of his bebut I think I may be certain that there is ing accustomed to such representations 20 observation in them to this effect_That, may be looked upon as extremely misI had the enemies to Christianity exposed chievous ; when we may, so probably, at** its first professors, not to wild beasts, but tribute to them the loose he gave to his " to ridicule, their endeavours to stop its natural depravity—the little decorum he "progress might have had very different observed that 'utter carelessness to save "success from what they experienced.” appearances, whence so much hurt ensued
Had the wit of man been only concerned to the morals of his people, and whereby in the spreading that religion, I believe the he occasioned such distraction in his af. conjecture well founded. But this success fairs, so weakened bis authority, so encould no more have affected the truth of tirely lost the affections of the best of his that religion, chan it lessens the worth of a subjects ; and whence that he did not expublic spirit, of honesty, of temperance, perience still worse consequences, may that so many have been laughed out of be ascribed to a concurrence of circumstantbem-that the jest made of them has oc- ces, in which his prudence had no share. casioned their being so rare among us.
The weakness of an argument may be The author of the Beggar's Opera gives clearly shewn-The arts of a sophister
may the true character of his Newgate tribe, be detected, and the fallacy of his reasonwhen he exhibits them ludicrous on all ing demonstrated—To the most subtile pretences to virtue, and thus hardening objections there may be given satisfactory each other in their crimes. It was the answers: but there is no confuting raillery most effectual means to keep up their —the acutest logician would be silenced spirits under their guilt, and may well be by a Merry Andrew. judged the likeliest method of bringing It is to no manner of purpose that we others to share it.
have reason on our side, when the laugh The Duke of Buckingham,” says a is against us; and how easy is it, by late writer, had the art of turning per- playing with our words-by a quibble“sons or things into ridicule, beyond any by the lowest jest, to excite that laugh! “man of the age. He possessed the young When the company is disposed to at" King (Charles II.] with very ill princi- tack your principles with drollery, no plea " ples, both as to religion and morality, for them is attended to ; the more serious * and with a very mean opinion of his fa- you shew yourself in their defence, the " ther, whose stiffness was, with him, a more scope you give to the mirth of your * subject of raillery.” It is elsewhere ob- opponents. served, that to make way for the ruin of
How well soever we have informed the Lord Clarendon, “ He often acted and ourselves of the motives to a right conduct, * mimicked him in the King's presence, these motives are not attended to, as often " walking stately with a pair of bellows as we act : our ordinary practice is found" before him, for the purse, and Colonel ed on the impression, that a former consi« Titus carrying a fire-shovel on his deration of them has made; which im« shoulder, for the mace; with which pression is very
liable to be weakened" sort of banter and farce the King was wants frequently to be renewed in the “ too much delighted.”
same way, that it was at first produced. Such are the impressions of the dispa- When we continually hear our virtue ragement of the best things, and of the bantered as mere prejudice, and our no. best men, that may be made by burlesque tions of honour and decorum treated as the and buffoonery: they can destroy the effi- sole effects of our pride being dexterously cacy of the wisest precepts, and the noblest flattered—When our piety is frequently examples.
subjecting us to be derided as childishly The Monarch here spoken of may, per- timorous, or absurdly superstitious ; we hapa, be thought as ill-disposed as the soon know not how to persuade ourselves, worst of his favourites ; and rather hu. that we are not more scrupulous than we moured, than corrupted, by the sport they need to be ; we begin to question whether, made with all that is, ordinarily, held in settling the extent of our obligations, we serious. Were this admitted to be true of have sufficiently consulted the imperfections