Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

other.-You must farther know, that the sect, called Arian, after having been long suppressed by the ignorance and bigotry of the prevailing orthodox party, hath, since classical and critical learning were revived, sprung up again afresh, with some new additions still more favourable to us, than any thing held, or at least avowed, by the ancient Arians. The moderns, who, for a blind, call themselves Unitarians, together with the Socinians, a noble subdivision of this party, and the Quakers, a very comical set of fellows, all actually insist on a plurality of gods. These (for brevity sake, we will call them all Arians) insist there may be, not only one, two, three, but three hundred gods.

This number is sufficient to take us all in, down, from your humble servant, to the onions and garlic of the Egyptians, taken, I mean generically, not individually, provided we have the address to slide in under the new names of such gods, as this wise and excellent sect, shall be pleased to honour with their adoration.

Now, what signify names, but the things they stand for? If we can contrive to be the things, let us never boggle at the names, since, both among the poets and grammarians, we have been always accustomed to go by so many different denominations. But what I would consult you on, is, how to bring ourselves in under names of the new divinities, so as not to give an alarm to the bigots, and yet to enjoy our own again. The way is fairly prepared for us. The Arians bave returned plump into our scheme of theology, which consists precisely in holding one supreme, and other subordinate divinities. Here now is the case, on which I desire your opinions; nay, I ask your assistance on this occasion, as you tender the revival of my honour and your own. Mom. Notably spoken, Jupiter, by my troth! Now

you talk like yourself, and just as you did formerly, when Homer drew up your speeches for you. Yes, yes, there is some sense in this, I felicitate the assembly both on the news, and the point of prudence suggested along with it. If the first principle of polytheism is once admitted, we shall all be gods again, and I, please the fates, shall come in once more, for my grin over a capacious bowl of nectar. Mars, Bacchus, Hercules, Mercury, courage my boys, we may yet have glorious revels under our new names, contrived for us by those sweet fellows, the-the-the Arians; is it not so you call them?

Bacchus. I swear by Styx, every man of them shall drink like a whale.

Mars. And fight, like Alexander.
Venus. And make love, like Adonis.

Mom. Pox on your Adonis.---It was such pranks as that between you and him, that sunk us all. But enough of this,-let us not swagger too soon, just as if we were snuffing the scent of the new sacrifices, but rather think of assisting our Arian friends, and contriving, as Jupiter says, to pass for their gods.

Jup. Momus, I perceive, is none of your foolish gods. He hath struck out the two points, on which we ought to deliberate with all the wisdom we are masters of.--How shall we procure a victory for the Arians? How shall we afterward contrive to be their gods? Let us stick to these questions, and may the fates spin us a lucky thread.

Mom. See what it is to be humbled by adversity; I never heard you at your prayers before. But prythee, god Jupiter, tell us, who was this same Arius, to whom we are so much obliged?

Jup. He was an Egyptian priest.

Mom. Whether did he sacrifice to Isis, or Osiris, or to a clove of garlic ?

Jup. To none of them. He was too sensible of his own worth, to worship any thing but his own genius, at least to worship as his countrymen in his time did, or as any man ever had done before. He was one of those exalted spirits, who always go in a track of their own.

As he was by far the most sagacious, the most penetrating, and the most learned man in the world, so, luckily for us, he knew it perfectly well, and therefore was neither to be guided, nor governed, by any man, nor by all mankind put together. He could argue the nose off your face, and on again, in less time than you would take to blow it. And such exploits as these he was enabled to perform by a species of reasoning peculiar to himself, and by the wonderful art of interpretation, that is, by the art of giving any word he pleased, a meaning directly contrary to its universally

known acceptation, and demonstrating the new-imposed meaning to be the right one. You say, for instance, the nose is on your face-No, quoth Arius; there are but so many sorts of noses, long noses, short noses, flat noses, &c. enumerating all; now there is nothing on your face, that may, strictly speaking, be reduced to any of these kinds, and consequently, you have no nose on your face. Besides as the word nose comes from Nasus, and Nasus from Nao, to flow, unless you will allow yourself to have the snivels or glanders, how can you say you have a nose ?

Mom. Wonderful, as I hope to be a god again! O Jupiter, return me my nose, or, instead of being the jester, I shall be but the jest of the other gods.

Jup. Why, thus, giving you a good thump on the gnomon, he sets it a bleeding, or ichoring, that is, flowing, and so all is well again.

Mom. Rot the sophistical rascal, and your fist into the bargain! I would not care a farthing to

Are all his followers like himself?

Jup. To a man. They can prove any thing by any thing. They are perfectly sceptical as to the sentiments of ther men, and rigidly dogmatical in their own, which proceeds from their having found out, that all men are fools, but themselves.

Mom. They cannot stand long. The rest of the world will fall on, and extirpate them to a man.

Jup. Oh! fear them not, they have a trick for that; rather than lose a single doit by their principles, they will say and swear any thing you bid them, and still be of their own minds.—Thus they parry all inconveniences, without either in the least receding from their opinions, or ceasing to propagate them. Besides, the safety of these men is sufficiently guarded against all hazards by the immense extent of their capacities ; for whereas other men have, through stupidity or poverty of thought, but one meaning to each word, and sometimes none, our friends, the Arians, seldom speak a word without a cluster of meanings to it; insomuch, that whenever what they say, being foolishly apprehended in the common sense of the words, is likely to be censured, or refuted, or turned against them in an argument, they immediately dodge off into a different meaning, and from that, if there is occasion, into a third. Have you ever tried to hold an eel by the tail?

Mom. I have, but cannot boast much of my success.

Jup. Well, you may do it with infinitely more ease, than keep one of these men to a point a moment longer than he pleases. By this artifice, and by not at once declaring their principles, they give themselves an opportunity of slily feeling the pulse of your faith, now venturing out a little, and then slipping in again, as you have seen a mouse do at the mouth of her hole, till they have found out whether you are a brother, or whether your previous way of thinking affords any hope of making you one in time.

Mom. Delicate fellows, I'faith! they are the right dabsters at a sly, or a dry joke; for they do all by way of ratiocination, with so grave a face, that it is impossible not to be taken in or bit at every turn. I will go, and spend a year among them, after which I will not only banter you all out of countenance, but out of being too, if I please. Venus may assure herself, that pretty nose of hers shall run a new sort of risk, by the time I shall have taken my degree of master in this inimitable art.

Jup. Well, but let us proceed to deliberate on the two important points proposed.-Is there any one here can speak to either?

Merc. That can your faithful aid-du-camp. I am very well versed in the controversies between our friends the Arians, and our enemies the orthodox, as they conceitedly style themselves. Uncle Pluto and I have been of their council any time these fifty years. Perhaps therefore what I am about to say may not seem altogether unworthy the attention of this most august assembly. Know then, O ye gods, that, many a time, when ye were all locked up fast asleep in your alcoves of gold, I have been at the ear of an Arian, conformably to my name of Hermes, in which I glory, prompting his invention with new and wonderful interpretations of words; and at his band gently guiding it to write an s, at the end of god.That I have at length succeeded almost to a miracle, you may see in some late performances, published by my directions. This, I hope, will convince you, that I deserve to be heard on the present subject.

All the Gods. Ay; hear him, hear him, hear the watchful and sagacious Mercury.

Merc. As to the first point, how the Arians may be assisted, as I take it, they stand in little need of aid. All the art, necessary to a decisive victory on their side, consists in a certain knack of making any word in the Hebrew or Greek languages signify any one thing, although ever so remote from, or contrary to, the intention of him who uses it, and the obvious purport of the passage, wherein he applies it: now, I have so tutored them all in this art, that the dullest scholar among them is fit to instruct Pluto himself in the mystery. This you will soon see by a Hebrew concordance, soon to be published, wherein my amanuensis has so laboured the business of that obsolete language, that, in a little time, all the Christians will perceive themselves tied to the worship of more gods than one, even by their own Old Testament (so they call a strange antique book, which contains the writings of Moses, and the other Jewish prophets). Thus this formidable volume, which hath hitherto been made so great a use of against us, is likely to stand hereafter on our side, and to become classically orthodox. You will wonder, it may be, where I learned this dead and barbarous language.—Why, I know not a tittle of it to this day. But this will only serve to increase your wonder, after telling you I had so great a hand in the concordance, till I farther tell you that my ignorance was doubly an advantage to me in carrying on the aforesaid work.

My amanuensis, you must know, could make a shift to read the Hebrew, which, as fast as he did, I suggested seven meanings to every word, and he constantly took all, but dwelt on that, which was most favourable to his Arian polytheism. Now, had I understood the real sense of the words, I should have been but the more confined for my learning, and should have been tempted to suggest only such meanings, as were some way analogous to those of the writer. Besides, as myriads were to be made interpreters, who neither had, nor could have, any knowledge of what the Christians call, the original languages, was I not a fitter prompter for these would-be critics, than one more

« ZurückWeiter »