Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

1

1 1

1

!

tool, or a well-meaning ideot. When it was formerly the fashion to husband a lie, and trump it up in some extraordinary emergency, it generally did execution, and was not a little serviceable to the faction that made use of it: but at present every man is upon

his guard, the artifice has been too often repeated to take effect:

I have frequently wondered to see men of probity, who would scorn to utter a falsehood for their own particular advantage, give so readily into a lie when it is become the voice of their faction, notwithstanding they are thoroughly sensible of it as such. How is it possible for those who are men of honour in their persons, thus to become notorious liars in their party? If we look into the bottom of this matter, we may find, I think, three reasons for it, and at the same time discover the insufficiency of these rea sons to justify so criminal a practice.

In the first place, men are apt to think that the guilt of a lie, and consequently the punishment, may be very much diminished, if not wholly worn out, by the multitudes of those who partake in it. Though the weight of a falsehood would be too heavy for one to bear, it grows light in their imaginations, when it is shared among many. But in this case a man very much deceives him. self; guilt, when it spreads through numbers, is not so properly divided as multiplied; every one is criminal in proportion to the offence which he commits, not to the number of those who are his companions in it. Both the crime and the penalty lie as heavy upon every individual of an offending multitude, as they would upon any single person, had none shared with him in the offence. In a word, the division of guilt is like that of matter; though it may not be separated into infinite portions, every portion shall have the whole essence of matter in it, and consist of as many parts as the whole did before it was divided.

But in the second place, though multitudes, who join in a lie,

cannot exempt themselves from the guilt, they may from the shame of it. The scandal of a lie is in a manner lost and annihilated, when diffused among several thousands; as a drop of the blackest tincture wears away and vanishes, when mixed and confused in a considerable body of water; the blot is still in it, but is not able to discover itself. This is certainly a very great motive to several party-offenders, who avoid crimes, not as they are prejudicial to their virtue, but to their reputation. It is enough to shew the weakness of this reason, which palliates guilt without removing it, that every man who is influenced by it declares himself in effect an infamous hypocrite, prefers the appearance of virtue to its reality, and is determined in his conduct neither by the dictates of his own conscience, the suggestions of true honour, nor the principles of religion.

The third and last great motive for men's joining in a popular falsehood, or, as I have hitherto called it, a party-lie, notwithstanding they are convinced of it as such, is the doing good to a cause which every party may be supposed to look upon as the most meritorious. The unsoundness of this principle has been so often exposed, and is so universally acknowledged, that a man must be an utter stranger to the principles, either of natural religion or Christianity, who suffers himself to be guided by it. If a man might promote the supposed good of his country by the blackest calumnies and falsehoods, our nation abounds more in patriots than any other of the Christian world. When Pompey was desired not to set sail in a tempest that would hazard his life, 'It is necessary for me (says he) to sail, but it is not necessary for me to live :' every man should say to himself, with the

^ Neither. The disjunctive "neither” is improperly used, when more than two things come under consideration. The author should either have left out-"the suggestions of true honour," or, he should have said, “is not determined by the dictates of iis own conscience, the suggestions of true honour, vs the principles of religion '--H.

into the account, by those who write on this subject. You must have observed, in your speculations on human nature, that nothing is more gratifying to the mind of man than power or dominion; and this I think myself amply possessed of, as I am the father of a family. I am perpetually taken up in giving out orders, in prescribing duties, in hearing parties, in administering justice, and in distributing rewards and punishments. To speak in the language of the Centurion, 'I say unto one, go, and he goeth ; and to another, come, and he cometh ; and to my servant, do this, and he doeth it.' In short, sir, I look upon my family as a patriarchal sovereignty, in which I am myself both king and priest. All great governments are nothing else but clusters of these little private royalties, and therefore I consider the masters of families as small deputy.governors, presiding over the several little parcels and divisions of their fellow-subjects. As I take great pleasure in the adıninistration of my government in particular, so I look upon myself not only as a more useful, but as a much greater and happier man than any bachelor in England of my own rank and condition.

“There is another accidental advantage in marriage, which has likewise fallen to my share, I mean the having a multitude of children. These I cannot but regard as very great blessings. When I see my little troop before me, I rejoice in the additions which I have made to my species, to my country, and to my religion, in having produced such a number of reasonable creatures, citizens, and christians. I am pleased to see myself thus perpetuated; and as there is no production comparable to that of a human creature, I am more proud of having been the occasion of ten such glorious productions, than if I had built a hun. dred pyramids at my own expence, or published as many volumes of the finest wit and learning. In wbat a beautiful light has the Holy Scripture represented Abdon, one of the judges of Israel, who had forty sons and thirty grandsons, that rode on threescore and ten ass-colts, according to the magnificence of the Eastern countries ? how must the heart of the old man rejoice, when he saw such a beautiful procession of his own descendants, such a numerous cavalcade of his own raising? For my own part, I can sit in my parlour with great content, when I take a review of half a dozen of my little boys mounted upon their hobbyhorses, and of as many little girls tutoring their babies, each of them endeavoring to excel the rest, and to do something that may gain my favour and approbation. I cannot question but he who has blessed me with so many children, will assist my endeavours in providing for them. There is one thing I am able to give each of them, which is, a virtuous education. I think it is Sir Francis Bacon's observation, that in a numerous family of children, the eldest is often spoiled by the prospect of an estate, and the youngest, by being the darling of the parent; but that some one or other in the middle, who has not perhaps been regarded, has made his way in the world, and overtopped the rest. It is my business to implant in every one of my children the same seeds of industry, and the same honest principles. By this means, I think I have a fair chance, that one or other of them may grow considerable in some or other way of life, whether it be in the army, or in the fleet; in trade, or any of the three learned professions; for you must know, sir, that from long experience and observation, I am persuaded of what seems a paradox to most of those with whom I converse, namely, that who has many children, and gives them a good education, is more likely to rais a family, than he who bas but one, notwithstanding he leaves him his whole estate.

For this reason, I can. not forbear amusing myself with finding out a general, an admiral, or an alderman of London ; a divine, a physician, or a lawyer, among my little people who are now, perhaps, in petticoats;

a man

and when I see the motherly airs of my little daughters when they are playing with their puppets, I cannot but flatter myself that their husbands and children will be happy in the possession of such wives and mothers.

“ If you are a father, you will not, perhaps, think this letter impertinent; but if you are a single man, you will not know the meaning of it, and probably throw it into the fire: whatever you determine of it, you may assure yourself that it comes from one who is " Your most humble servant,

" and well-wisser,

« PHILOGAMUS."

[ocr errors][merged small]

Non habeo deniqne nauci Marsum augurem,
Non vicanos aruspices, non de circo astrologos,
Non Isiacos conjectores, non interpretes somniûm;
Non enim sunt ii aut scientia, aut arte divini,
Sed superstitiosi vates, impudentesque harioli,
Aut inertes, aut insani, aut quibus egestas imperat:
Qui sui quæstus causa fictas suscitant sententius,
Qui sibi semitam non sapiunt, alteri monstrant viam,
Quibus divitias pollicentur, ab iis drachmam petunt;
De divitiis deducant drachmam, reddant cætera.

ENNIUS.
Augurs and soothsayers, astrologers,
Diviners, and interpreters of dreams,

ne'er consult, and heartily despise :
Vain their pretence to more than human skill:
For gain imaginary schemes they draw;
Wand'rers themselves, they guide anothor's steps:
And for poor sixpence promise countless wealth :
Let them, if they expect to be believ'd,
Deduct the sixpence and bestow the resta

Those who have maintained that men would be more miserable than beasts, were their hopes confined to this life only, among

« AnteriorContinuar »