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deserve your kindness or esteem? A friend makes me a feast, and places before me all that his care or kindness could provide; but I set my heart upon one dish alone, and if that happens to be thrown down, I scorn all the rest; and though he sends for another of the same kind, yet I rise from the table in a rage, and say: My friend is become my enemy, and he has done me the greatest wrong in the world.' Have I reason, madam, or good grace in what I do? or world it become me better to eat of the rest that is before me, and think no more of what had happened, and could not be remedied?
Christianity teaches and commands us to moderate our passions; to temper our affectious towards all things below; to be thankful for the possession, and patient under the loss, whenever HE who gave shall see fit to take away. Your extreme fondness was perhaps as displeasing to God before as now your extreme affliction is; and your loss may have been a punishment for your faults in the manner of enjoying what you had. It is at least pious to ascribe all the ill that befalls us to our own demerits, rather than to injustice in God. And it becomes us better to adore the issues of his providence in the effects, than to inquire into the causes; for submission is the only way of reasoning between a creature and its Maker; and contentment in his will is the greatest duty we can pretend to, and the best remedy we can apply to all our misfortunes.
Passions are perhaps the stings without which, it is said, no honey is made. Yet I think all sorts of men have ever agreed they ought to be our servants, and not our masters; to give us some agitation for entertainment or exercise, but never to throw our reason out of its seat. It is better to have no passions at all, than to have them too violent; or such alone as, instead of heightening cur pleasures, afford us nothing but vexation and pain.
In all such losses as your ladyship's has been, there is something that common nature cannot be denied: there is a great deal that good nature may be allowed. But all excessive and outrageous grief or lamentation for the dead was accounted, among the ancient Christians, to have something heathenish; and, among the civil natious of old, to have something barbarous: and therefore it has been the care of the first to moderate it by their precepts, and of the latter to restrain it by their laws. When young children are taken away, we are sure they are well, and escape much ill, which would in all appearance have befallen them if they had stayed longer with us. Our kindness to them is deemed to proceed from common opinions or fond imaginations, not friendship or esteem; and to be grounded upon entertainment rather than use in the many offices of life. Nor would it pass from any person besides your ladyship to say you lost a companion and a friend of nine years old; though you lost one, indeed, who gave the fairest hopes that could be of being both in time and everything else that is estimable and good. But yet that itself is very uncertain, considering the chances of time, the infection of company, the snares of the world, and the passions of youth: so that the most excellent and agreeable creature of that tender age might, by the course of years and accidents, become the most miserable herself; and a greater trouble to her friends by living long, than she could have been by dying young.
Yet, after all, madam, I think your loss so great, and some measure of your grief so deserved, that, would all your passionate compliants, all the anguish of your heart, do anything to retrieve it; could tears water the lovely plant, so as to make it grow again after once it is cut down; could sighs furnish new breath, or could it draw life and spirits from the wasting of yours, I am sure your friends would be so far from accusing your passion, that they would encourage it as much, and share it as deeply, as they could. But alas! the eternal laws of the creation extinguish all such hopes, i forbid all such designs; nature gives us many children and friends to take them away, but takes none away to give them to us again. And this makes the excesses of grief to be universally condemned as unnatural, because so much in vain; whereas nature does nothing in vain: as unreasonable, because so contrary to our own designs; for we all design to be well and at ease, and by grief we make ourselves troubles most properly out of the dust, whilst our ravings and complaints are but like arrows shot up into the air at no mark, and so to no purpose, but only to fall back upon our own heads and destroy ourselves
Perhaps, madam, you will say this is your design, or, hope you are not yet so far gone, or so desperately bent. well your life is not your own, but His who lent it you to
if not, your desire; but I Your ladyship knows very manage and preserve in the
best way you can, and not to throw it away, as if it came from some common hand. Our life belongs, in a great measure, to our country and our family: therefore, by all human laws, as well as divine, self-murder has ever been agreed upon as the greatest crime; and it is punished here with the utmost shame, which is all that can be inflicted upon the dead. But is the crime much less to kill ourselves by a slow poison than by a sudden wound? Now, if we do it, and know we do it, by a long and continual grief, can we think ourselves innocent? What great difference is there, if we break our hearts or consume them, if we pierce them or bruise them; since all terminates in the same death, as all arises from the same despair? But what if it does not go so far: it is not, indeed, so bad as it might be, but that does not excuse it. Though I do not kill my neighbour, is it no hurt to wound him, or to spoil him of the conveniences of life? The greatest crime is for a man to kill himself; is it a small one to wound himself by anguish of heart, by grief, or despair: to ruin his health, to shorten his age, to deprive himself of all the pleasure, ease, and enjoyment of life?
Whilst I had any hopes that that your tears would ease you, or that your grief would consume itself by liberty and time, your ladyship knows very well I never accused it, nor ever increased it by the common formal ways of attempting to assuage it and this, I am sure, is the first office of the kind I ever performed, otherwise than in the most ordinary forms. I was in hopes what was so violent could not be long; but when I observed it to grow stronger with age, and increase like a stream the further it ran; when I saw it draw out to such unhappy consequences, and threaten not less than your child, your health and your life, I could no longer forbear this endeavour. Nor can I end it without begging of your ladyship, for God's sake, for your own, for that of your children and your friends, your country and your family, that you would no longer abandon yourself to so disconsolate a passion; but that you would at length awaken your piety, give way to your prudence, or, at least, rouse up the invincible spirit of the Percies, which never yet shrunk at any disaster; that you would sometimes remember the great honours and fortunes of your family, not always the losses; cherish those veins of good humour that are so natural to you, and sear up those of ill, that would make you so unkind to your children and to yourself; and, above all, that you would enter upon the cares of your health and your life. For my part, I know nothing that could be so great an honour and a satisfaction to me, as if your ladyship would own me to have contributed towards this cure; but, however, none can perhaps more justly pretend to your pardon for the attempt, since there is none, I am sure, who has always had at heart a greater honour for your ladyship's family, nor can have more esteem for you, than, madam, your most obedient and most humble servant.
Right of Private Judgment in Religion.
Whosoever designs the change of religion in a country or government by any other means than that of a general conversion of the people, or the greatest part of them, designs all the mischiefs to a nation that use to usher in, or attend, the two great distempers of a state, civil war or tyranny; which are violence, oppression, cruelty, rapine, intemperance, injustice; and, in short, the miserable effusion of human blood, and the confusion of all laws, orders and virtues among men.
Such consequences as these, I doubt, are something more than the disputed opinions of any man, or any particular assembly of men, can be worth; since the great and general end of all religion, next to men's happiness hereafter, is their happiness here; as appears by the commandments of God being the best and greatest moral and civil, as well as divine precepts, that have been given to a nation; and by the rewards proposed to the piety of the Jews, throughout the Old Testament, which were the blessings of this life, as health, length of age, number cf children, plenty, peace, or victory.
A man that tells me my opinions are absurd or ridiculous, impertinent or unreasonable, because they differ from his, seems to intend a quarrel instead of a dispute, and calls me fool, or madman, with a little more circumstance; though, perhaps, I pass for one as well in my senses as he, as pertinent in talk, and as prudent in life: yet these are the common civilities, in religious argument, of sufficient and conceited men, who talk much of right reason, and mean always their own, and make their private imagination the measure of general truth. But such language determines all
between us, and the dispute comes to end in three words at last, which it might as well have ended in at first: That he is in the right, and I am in the wrong.
The other great end of religion, which is our happiness here, has been generally agreed on by all mankind, as appears in the records of all their laws, as well as all their religious, which comes to be established by the concurrence of men's customs and opinions; though, in the latter, that concurrence may have been produced by divine impressions or inspirations. For all agree in teaching and commanding, in planting and improving, not only those moral virtues which conduce to the felicity and tranquility as every private man's life, but also those manners and dispositions that tend to the peace, order, and safety of all civil societies and governments among men. Nor could I ever understand how those who call themselves, and the world usually calls, religious men, come to put so great weight upon those points of belief which men never have agreed in, and so little upon those of virtue and morality, in which they have hardly ever disagreed. Nor why a state should venture the subversion of their peace, and their order, which are certain goods, and so universally esteemed, for the propagation of uncertain or contested opinions.
Sir William Temple's 'Essay upon the Aucient and Modern Learning' gave occasion to one of the most celebrated literary controversies which have occurred in England. The composition of it was suggested to him principally by a French work of Charles Perrault, on The Age of Louis the Great,' in which, with the view of flattering the pride of the grand monarque, it was affirmed that the writers of antiquity had been excelled by those of modern times. This doctrine excited a warm discussion in France, where the poet Boileau was among those by whom it was strenuously opposed. It was in behalf of the ancients that. Sir William Temple also took the field. The first of the enemy's arguments which he controverts is the allegation, that we must have more knowledge than the ancients, because we have the advantage both of theirs and our own; just as a dwarf standing upon a giant's shoulders sees more and further than he.' To this he replies, that the ancients may have derived vast stores of knowledge from their predecessors-namely the Chinese, Egyptians, Chaldeans. Persians, Syrians, and Jews. Among these nations, he remarks, were planted and cultivated mighty growths of astronomy, astrology, magic, geometry, natural philosophy, and ancient story; and from these sources Orpheus, Homer, Lycurgus, Pythagoras, Plato, and others of the ancients, are acknowledged to have drawn all those depths of knowledge or learning which have made them so renowned in all succeeding ages.' Here Temple manifests extreme ignorance and credulity in assuming as facts the veriest fables of the ancients, particularly with respect to Orpheus, of whom he afterwards speaks in conjunction with that equally authentic personage, Arion, and in reference to whose musical powers he asks triumphantly, What are become of the charms of music, by which men and beasts, fishes, fowls, and serpents, were so frequently enchanted, and, their very natures changed; by which the passions of men were raised to the greatest height and violence, and then as suddenly appeased, so that they might be justly said to be turned into lions or lambs, into wolves or into harts, by the powers and charms of this admirable music?'
In the same credulous spirit, he affirms that the more ancient sages of Greece appear, by the characters remaining of them, to have been much greater men than Hippocrates, Plato, and Xenophon. They were generally princes or lawgivers of their countries, or at least offered or invited to be so, either of their own or of others, that desired them to frame or reform their several institutions of civil government. They were commonly excellent poets and great physicians: they were so learned in natural philosophy, that they foretold not only eclipses in the heavens, but earthquakes at land, and storms at sea, great droughts, and great plagues, much plenty or much scarcity of certain sorts of fruits or grain; not to mention the magical powers attributed to several of them to allay storms, to raise gales, to appease commotions of the people, to make plagues cease; which qualities, whether upon any ground of truth or no, yet, if well believed, must have raised them to that strange height they were at, of common esteem and honour, in their own and succeeding ages.' The objection occurs to him, as one likely to be set up by the admirers of modern learning, that there is no evidence of the existence of books before those now either extant or on record. This, however, gives him no alarm: for it is very doubtful, he tells us, whether books, though they may be helps to knowledge, and serviceable in diffusing it, are necessary ones, or much advance any other science beyond the particular records of actions or registers of time'-as if any example could be adduced of science having flourished where tradition was the only mode of handing it down! His notice of astronomy is equally ludicrous: There is nothing new in astronomy,' says he, to vie with the ancients, unless it be the Copernican system'-a system which overturns the whole fabric of ancient astronomical science, though Temple declares with great simplicity that it has made no change in the conclusions of astronomy. In comparing the great wits among the moderns' with the authors of antiquity, he mentions no Englishmen except Sir Philip Sidney, Bacon, and Selden, leaving Shakspeare and Milton altogether out of view. How little he wasqualified to judge of the comparative merits of ancient and modern authors, is evident not only from his total ignorance of the Greek language, but from the very limited knowledge of English literature evinced by his considering Sir Philip Sidney to be both the greatest poet and the noblest genius of any that have left writings behind them, and published in ours or any other modern language.' He further declares, that after Ariosto, Tasso, and Spenser, he knows none of the moderns that have made any achievements in heroic poetry worth recording.'
Descartes and Hobbes are the only new philosophers that have made entries upon the noble stage of the sciences for fifteen hundred years past,' and these 'have by no means eclipsed the lustre of Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and others of the ancients.' Bacon, Newton, and Boyle are not regarded as philosophers at all. But the most unlucky
blunder committed by Temple on this occasion was his adducing the Greek Epistles of Phalaris in support of the proposition, that 'the oldest books we have are still in their kind the best." These Epistles, says he, I think to have more grace, more spirit, more force of wit and genius, than any others I have seen, either ancient or modern.' Some critics, he admits, have asserted that they are not the production of Phalaris-who lived in Sicily more than five centuries before Christ-but of some writer in the declining age of Greek literature. In reply to these sceptics, he enumerates such transcendent excellences of the Epistles, that any man, he thinks, must have little skill in painting that cannot find out this to be an original.' The celebrity given to these Epistles by the publication of Temple's Essay, led to the appearance of a new edition of them at Oxford, under the name of Charles Boyle as editor. Boyle, while preparing it for the press, got into a quarrel with the celebrated critic, Richard Bentley, a man deeply versed in Greek literature; on whom he inserted a bitter reflection in his preface. Bentley, in reply, demonstrated the Epistles to be a forgery, taking occasion at the same time to speak somewhat irreverently of Sir William Temple. Boyle, with the assistance of Aldrich, Atterbury, and other Christ-church doctors-who, indeed, were the real combatants-sent forth a reply, the plausibility of which seemed to give him the advantage; till Bentley, in a most triumphant rejoinder, exposed the gross ignorance which lay concealed under the wit and assumption of his opponents. To these parties, however, the controversy was not confined. Boyle and his friends were backed by the sarcastic powers, if not by the learning, of Pope, Swift, Garth, Middleton, and others. Swift, who came into the field on behalf of bis patron, Sir William Temple, published on this occasion his famous Battle of the Books,' and to the end of his life continued to speak of Bentley in the language of hatred and contempt. In the work just mentioned, Swift has ridiculed not only that scholar, but also his friend, the Rev. William Wotton, who had opposed Temple in a treatise entitled Reflections upon Ancient and Modern Learning,' published in 1694. To some parts of that treatise Sir William wrote a reply, the following passage in which perhaps suggested the satirical account given long afterwards by Swift, in Gulliver's Travels,' of the experimental researches of the projector at Lagodas:
Schemes of Projectors.
What has been produced for the use, benefit, or pleasure of mankind, by all the airy speculations of those who have passed for the great advancers of knowledge and learning these last fifty years-which is the date of our modern pretenders-I confess I am yet to seek, and should be very glad to find. I have indeed heard of wondrous pretensions and visions of men possessed with notions of the strange advancement of learning and sciences, on foot in this age, and the progress they are like to make in the next; as the universal medicine, which will certainly cure all that have it; the philosopher's stone, which will be found out by men that care not for riches; the transfusion of young blood into old men's veins, which will make them as gamesome as the lambs from which 'tis to be derived; a universal language, which may serve