Page images
PDF
EPUB

continuing unreformed. Nay, what is yet more strange, he will preach seriously, earnestly, affectionately, and repeatedly, against a failing, to which he himself is notoriously subject, and every one who hears him knows him to be so. It follows not necessarily, that he is designedly playing the hypocrite and acting a part. He has some method of concealing himself from himself, or of excusing himself to himself. He does not see that he is the person, against whom all his own arguments are pointed. He does not think of it. He stands in need of a friend, or an enemy, to tell him, THOU ART THE MAN. This may seem to be a species of madness; but this is human nature. Let me con

clude with a story.

A friend of mine was much afflicted with a dangerous disorder, part hereditary, and part the fruit of his own industry. He sent for one of the best physicians in the kingdom, who, having discoursed, greatly to his satisfaction, on the excellency of medicine in general, and of a medicine proper for that disorder in particular, wrote his prescription, and took his leave. My friend, who was a scholar, had a learned gentleman with him at the time; and the doctor was hardly out of the door, before a very warm controversy began between them, concerning the style of the prescription, whether it were classical or not. This and the virtues of the medicine were now the constant subjects of my friend's conversation, and he inveighed with great zeal and indignation, against the folly of those, who would languish under disease, when there was such a remedy

[ocr errors]

to be had. The distemper, mean while, increased upon himself, and began to seize the vitals. The doctor was again sent for; and knowing his patient to be a remarkably ABSENT man, Pray, sir, said he, give me leave to ask you one question: Have you TAKEN the medicine? A summons to the bar of judgement could hardly have astonished my friend more than this question. He awoke as one out of a dream, and very honestly owned, he had been so occupied in talking and writing about it, and recommending it to others, that he had really quite forgotten that part of the prescription. He did indeed recollect to have once tasted the draught, but finding it rather bitter, a flavour always disagreeable to him, he had set it by again, trusting, it seems, for his cure, to the virtues which might escape the cork, as it stood upon the mantel-piece. You see how easy it is for him who possesses the medicine, to be like him who possesses it not; the medicine itself continuing all the while perfectly irreproachable.

And now, if you please, dear sir, we will take our leave of the Apology; for I have no design to meddle with the farrago of extraneous matter which it contains, respecting gallantry, flattery, dedications, &c. &c. &c. and as to the crude and angry remarks at the end of it, on the Letter to Dr. Smith, valeant quantum valere possunt! I will trust any man with them, if, during the perusal, he will only hold in his hand the pamphlet to which they relate. The Apology is indeed, both for matter and manner, sentiment and language, so mean and wretched

a performance, that one cannot sufficiently wonder, how any person, accustomed to write, could permit such a piece to come abroad with all its imperfections on its head. I have selected those parts which afforded room for enlarging on topics useful to be discussed, and have now done with it for ever.

LETTER IV.

I AM truly concerned, dear sir, to hear that your old constitutional complaint, a depression of spirits, has of late been more than usually troublesome; and wish I may succeed in the medicine I am going to administer, if not for the removal, at least for a temporary alleviation of it.

The famous Dr. Radcliffe was once called in to a person almost suffocated by an imposthumated swelling in the throat. The case required immediate relief, and the doctor sent his servant into the kitchen, to order and bring up a large hastypudding. Upon its arrival, falling into a violent passion because it was not made to his mind, he flung a handful of it in the fellow's face, who returned the compliment, and an engagement ensued between them till the ammunition was all spent. The sick man, who had been raised in his bed to see the battle, was forced into a violent fit of laughter; the imposthume broke, and the patient recovered.

In the present case, the philosophy contained in Mr. Hume's posthumous work, styled Dialogues on Natural Religion, shall be our hasty-pudding; and I will introduce a couple of gentlemen of my acquaintance to toss a little of it backwards and for

wards, for your entertainment. May the effect prove equally salutary!

A Dialogue between Thomas and Timothy on Philosophical Scepticism.

TIM. Whither away so fast, man? Where art going this morning?

TOм. I am going to be made a Christian.

TIM. The very last thing I should have dreamed of. But pray, who is to make you one?

TOм. David Hume.

TIM. David Hume! Why, I thought he was an Atheist.

Tом. The world never was more mistaken about any one man, than about David Hume. He was deemed a sworn foe to Christianity, whereas his whole life was spent in its service. His works compose altogether a complete Præparatio Evangelica. They lead men gently, and gradually, as it were, to the Gospel.

TIM. As how, TOм? Be pleased to take me along with you.

TOм. Why, look you, here is chapter and verse for you. Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, p. 263. "To be a philosophical sceptic, is, in a man "of letters, the first and most essential step towards

"(

being a sound believing Christian."

TIM. When David was at Paris, I have heard

« EelmineJätka »