Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

pursue some regular method os providing a constant subsistence; and this necessity produced, or at least promoted aud encouraged, the art of agricul* ture. And the art of agriculture, by a regular connexion and consequence, introduced and established the idea of a more permanent property in the soil, than had hitherto been received and adopted. It was clear that the earth would not produce her fruits in sufficient quantities, without the assistance of tillage: but who would be at, the pains of tilling it, if another might watch an opportunity to seize upon and enjoy the product of his industry, art, and labour? Had not therefore a separate property in lands, as moveables, been vested in some individuals, the world must have continued a forest, and men have been mere animals of prey; which, according to some philosophers, is the genuine state of nature. Whereas now (so gracioufly has Providence interwoven our duty and our happiness together) the result of this very necessity has been the ennobling of the human specie?, by giving it opportunities of improving its rational faculties, as well as of exerting its natural. Necessity begat property ; and, in order to insure that property, recourse was had to civil society, which brought along with it a long train of Inseparable concominnts; states, government, laws, punishments, and tne public exercise of religious duties. Thus connected together, it was sound that a part only of society was sufficient to provide, by their manual labour, for the necessary subsistence of all; and leisure was given to others to cultivate the human mind, to invent useful arts, and to lay the foundations of science.

The only question remaining is, How this property became actually vested j or what it is that gave a man an exclusive right to retain in a permanent manner that specific I.'.nd, which before belonged generally to every body, but particularly to nobody? And, as we before observed that occupancy gave the right to the temporary use of the soil, so it is agreed upon all hands, that occupancy gave also the original right to tlic permanent property in the

substance of the earth itself; which excludes every one else but the owner from the use of it. There is indeed some difference among the writers on natural law, concerning the reason why occupancy should convey this right, and invest one with this absolute property: Grotius and Puffendorf insisting, that this right of occupancy ij sounded upon a tacit and implied assent of all mankind, that the first occupant should become the owner; and Barbeyrac, Titius, Mr. Locke, and others, holding, that there is no such implied assent, neither is it necessary that there should be; for that the very act of occupancy, alone, being a degree of bodily labour, is, from a principle of natural justice, without any consent or compact, sufficient os itself to gain a title. A dispute that savours too much of nice and scholastic refinement! However, both sides agree in this, that occupancy is the thing by which the title was in fact originally gained; every man seizing to his own continued use such spots of ground as he found most agreeable to his own convenience, provided he sound them unoccupied by any one else.

Blackstone' s Commentaries.

§ 83. Retirtmtnt of no Use to some.

To lead the life I propose with satis, faction and profit, renouncing the pleasures and business of the world, and breaking the habits of both, is not sufficient: the supine creature whose understanding is superficially employed, through life, about a few general notions, and is never bent to a close and steady pursuit of truth, may renounce the pleasures and business of the world, for even in the business of the world we fee such creatures often employed, and may break the habits; nay he may retire and drone away life in solitude like a monk, or like him over the door of whose house, as if his house had been his tomb, somebody writ, " Here lies such an one:"' but no such man will be able to make the true use of retirement. The employment of his mind, that would have been agreeable and easy if he

he4

had accustomed himself to it early, will we feel and all we fear, was not theefbe unpleasant and impracticable late: sect of ignorance, mistake, or what we such men lose their intellectual powers call chance, but of design and scheme for want of exercing them, and, having in those who had the sway at that time, trifled away youth, are reduced to the I am not so uncharitable, however, as necessity of trifling away age. It fares to believe, that they intended to bring with the mind just as it does with the upon their country all the mischiefs body. He who was born with a tex- that we, who came after them, experiture of brain as strong as that of New- ence, and apprehend. No; they saw ton, may become unable to perform the the measures they took singly, and uncommon rules of arithmetic; just as he relatively, or relatively alone to some who has the fame elasticity in his mus- immediate object. The notion of atcles, the fame suppleness in his joints, taching men to the new government, and all his nerves and sinews as well by tempting them to embark their forbraced as Jacob Hall, may become a tunes on the fame bottom, was a reasat unwieldy fluggard. Yet further; son of state to some:' the notion of the implicit creature, who has thought creating a new, that is, a monied init all his life needless, or unlawful, to terest, in opposition to the landed inexamine the principles of fasts that he terest, or as a balance to it, and of actook originally on trust, will be as little quiring a superior influence in the city able as the other to improve his soli- of London, at least, by establishment of tude to any good purpose: unless we great corporations, was a reason of party call it a good purpose, for that some- to others: and I make no doubt that times happens, to confirm and exalt his the opportunity of amassing immense prejudices, so that he may live and die estates by the managements of funds, in one continued delirium. The con- by trafficking in paper, and by all the firmed prejudicesofa thoughtful life are ans of jobbing, was a reason of private as hard to change as the confirmed ha- interest to those who supported and imbits of an indolent life: and as some proved this scheme of iniquity, if not must trifle away ao;e because they trifled to those who devised it. They looked away youth, others must labour on in a no farther. Nay, we who came after maze of error, because they have wan- them, and have long tasted the bitter dered there too long to find their way fruits of the corruption they planted, out. Bolingbroke. were far from taking such an alarm at

§ 84. Consequences of the Revolution of

1688.

Few men at that time looked forward enough to foresee the necess.;ry consequence.- of the new constitution of the revenue that was soon afterwards formed, nor of the method of funding that immediately took place; which, absurd as they are, have continued ever since, till it is become scarce possible to alter them. F< w people, I hy, foresaw how occult arts, and that you take a laud

our distress, and our danger, as they deserved; till the most remote and fatal effect of causes, laid by the last generation, was very near becoming an object of experience in this. Ibid.

§ 85. Defence of R'dMct: in a Letter tt a Lady.

It is with wonderful satisfaction I find you are grown such an adept in the

the creation of fund", and trie multiplication of taxe-, woul ! encrease yearly the power of the crown, and bring our liberties, bv a natural and necessary progression, into more real, tho'

able pleasure in th? ancient and ingenious study of making and solving riddles. It is a science, undoubtedly, of m^st necessiry acquirement, and deserves to make a part in the meditation

less apparent danger, than they were in of both sexes. Th.:se of yours may by before the Revolution. The excellive thi- m^ans vry innocently indulge their ill husbandry prastis-J f-om the very usual curiosity of discovering and dis. beginning of King William's reign, closing a secret; whilst such amongst: end which laid the foundations of all ours who have a turn for deep speculations, lations, and are fond of puzzling them- most learned work in folio, wherein he.

selves and others, may exercise their has fully proved that important point, '"'' I will not anticipate the pleasure you

will receive by perusing this curious performance. Tn the mean while let it be remembered, to the immortal glory of this ar, that the wisest man, as well as the greatest prince that ever lived,

faculties this way with much private satisfaction, and without the least disturbance to the public. It is an art indeed which I would recommend to the encouragement t>f both the universities, as it affords the easiest and shortest

method of conveying some of the most is said to have amused himself and a

useful principles of logic, and might neighbouring monarch in trying the

therefore be introduced as a very pro- strength of each other's talents in this

per substitute in the room of those dry way; several riddles, it seems, having

systems which are at present in vogue passed between Solomon and Hiram,

in those places of education. For as upon condition that he who failed in

it it consists in discovering truth under the solution should incur a certain pe

borrowed appearances, it might prove nalty. It is recorded likewise of the

of wonderful advantage in every branch great father of poetry, even the divine

of learning, by habituating the mind Ho.ner himself, that he had a taste of

to separate all fireign ideas, and consc- this fort; and we are told by a Greek

quently preserving it from that grand writer of his life, that he died with vex

source of error, the being deceived by ation for not being able to discover a

false connections. In short, Timoclea, riddle which was proposed to him by

this your favourite science contains the some fishermen at a certain island called

you

sum of all human policy; and as there is no pasting through the world without sometimes mixing with fools and knaves; who would not choose to be master of the enigmatical art, in order, on proper occasions, to be able to lead aside craft and impertinence from their aim, by the convenient artifice of a prudent disguise r It was the maxim of a very wise prince, that " he who knows not how to dilT-n b!?, knows not how to reign :" and I desire ;ou would receive it as mine, that " he who knows riot how to riddle, knows not how to Jive."

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

But besides the general usefulness of faculty is diverted into an unnatural

this art, it will have a further recoci- channel; and we not only relinquish

mend'ation to all true admirers osanti- and forget, but also become incapable

quity, as being practised by the most of our original dispositions. We are

considerable pcisonages of early times, totally changed into creatures of art and

Jt is almost three thousand years ago since Samson proposed his famous riddle so well known; tho' the advocates for ancient learning must forgive me, if in this article I attribute the fupe

assentation; our perception is abused, and our senses are perverted ; our minds lose their nature, force, and flavour; ths imagination, sweated by artificial fire, produces nought but vapid and.

liority to the modems; for if we may sickly bloom; the genius, instead of iudge of the (kill of the former in this growing like a vigorous tree, that exprofound art by that remarkable speci- tends its branches on every fide, buds, men of it, the geniuses of those early blossoms, and bears delicious fruit, reages were by no means equal to those scmbles a lopped and stunted yew, torwhich our times have produced. But tured into some wretched form, proas a friend of mine has lately finished, jecting no shade or shelter, displaying and intends very shortly to publish, a no flower, diffusing no fragrance, and

producing

producing no fruit, and exhibiting nothing but a barren conceit for the amusement of the idle spectator.

Thus debauched from Nature, how can we relilh her genuine productions? As well might a man distinguish objects through the medium of a prism, that presents nothing but a variety of colours to the eye; or a maid pining in the green-sickness prefer a biscuit to a cinder.

It has often been alleged, that the passions can never be wholly deposed, and that by appealing to these, a good writer will always be able to force himself into the hearts of his readers; but even the strongest passions are weakened, nay sometimes totally extinguished and destroyed, by mutual opposition, dissipation, and acquired insensibility. How often at our theatre has the tear of sympathy and burst of laughter been repressed by a malignant species of pride, refusing approbation to the author and actor, and renouncing society with the audience ! I have seen a young creature, possessed of the most delicate complexion, and exhibiting features that indicate sensibility, sit without the least emotion, and behold the most tender and pathetic scenes of Otway represented with all the energy of action; so happy had she been in her efforts to conquer the prejudices of nature. She had been trained up in the belief that nothing was more aukward, than to betray a fense of shame or sympathy j she seemed to think that a consent of passion with the vulgar, would impair the dignity os her character; and that she herself ought to be the only object of approbation. But she did not consider that such approbation is seldom acquired by disdain; and that want of feeling is a very bad recommendation to the human heart. For my own share, I never fail to take a survey of the female part of an audience, at every interesting incident of the drama. When I perceive the tear stealing down a lady's cheek, and the sudden sigh escape from her brealt.I am attracted toward her by an irresistible emotion of tenderness and esteem; her eyes shine with enchanting lustre, through the pearly moisture that surrounds them; my heart warms at

3

the glow which humanity kindles" Cfi her cheek, and keeps time with the accelerated heavings of her snowy bosom; I at once love her benevolence, and revere her discernment. On the contrary, when I see a fine woman's face unaltered by the distress of the scene, with which I myself am affected, I resent her indifference as an insult oa my own understanding ; I suppose her heart to be savage, her disposition unsocial, her organs indelicate, and exclaim with the fox in the fable, O pulchrum taput,sed cerebrum non babet!

Yet this insensibility is not perhaps owing to any original defect. Nature may have stretched the string, tho' ic has long ceased to vibrate. It may have been displaced and distracted by the first violence offered to the native machine; it may have lost its tone through long disuse; or be so twisted and overstrained as to produce an effect very different from that which was primarily intended. If so little regard is paid to Nature when lhe knocks so powerfully at the breast, she must be altogether neglected and despised in her calmer mood of serene tranquillity, when no-r thing appears to recommend her but simplicity, propriety, and innocence. A clear, blue sky, spangled with stars, will prove a homely and insipid object to eyes accustomed to the glare of torches, tapers, gilding, and glitter { they will be turned with loathing and disgust from the green mantle of tho spring, so gorgeously adorned with. , buds and foliage, flowers and blossoms, to contemplate a gaudy negligee, striped and intersected with abrupt unfriendly tints that setter the masses of light, and distract the vision; and cue and pinked into the most fantastic forms; and siounced and furbelowed, patched and fringed with all the littleness of art, unknown to elegance. Those ears that are offended by the sweetly wild notes of the thrush, the black-bird, and the nightingale, the distant cawing of the rook, the tender cooing of the turtle, the soft sighing of reeds and osiers, the magic murmur of lapsing streams; will be regaled and ravished by the extravagant and alarming notes of a squeaking fiddle, extracted by a

musician

musician who has no other genius than sincerity, the chearsul resignation to

that which lies in his fingers ; they will the will of Heaven, the mutual affection

even be entertained with the rattling of of the charities, the voluntary respect

coaches, the rumbling of carts, and the paid to superior dignity or station, the

delicate cry of cod and mackarel. virtue of beneficence extended even to

The sense of smelling that delights the brute creation, nay the very crim

in the scent of excrementitious animal son glow of health and swelling lines of

juices, such as musk, civet, and urinous beauty, are despised, detested, scorned,

salts, will loath the fragrar.cy of new- and ridiculed as ignorance, rudeness,

mown hay, the hawthorn's bloom, the rusticity, and superstition. Smollett. sweet-briar, the honey-suckle, and the

rose; and the organs that are gratified with the taste of sickly veal which has been bled into the palsy, rotten, pullets crammed into fevers, brawn made

§ 87. Simplicity a principal Beauty in Writing.

If we examine the writers whose cemup of dropsical pig, the abortion of positions have stood the test of ages, pigeons and of poultry,'sparagus gorg- and obtained that highest honour, the ed with the crude unwholesome juice of concurrent approbation of distant times dung, pease without substance, peaches and nations, we shall find that the without taste, and pine-apples without character of simplicity is the unvarying flavour, will certainly nauseate the circumstance, which alone hath been native, genuine, and salutary taste of able to gain this universal homage from, Welsh beef, Banstead mutton, Hamp- mankind. Among the Greeks, whose shire pork,and barn-door fowls; whose writers in general are of the simple juices are concocted by a natural di- kind, the divinest poet, the most comgestion, and whose flesh is consolidated manding orator, the finest historian, and by free air and exercise. deepest philosopher, are, above the rest. In such a total perversion of the conspicuously eminent in this great fenses, the ideas must be misrepresent- quality. The Roman writers rife toed, the powers of the imagination dis- wards perfection according to that ordered, and the judgment of con fe- measure of true simplicity which they quence unsound. The disease is at- mingle in their works. Indeed, they tended with a false appetite, which the are all inferior to the Greek models, natural food of the mind will not fa- But who will deny, that Lucretius, Hotiify. It must have sauces compounded race, Virgil, Livy, Terence, Tully, are of the most heterogeneous train. The at once the simplest and best of Roman foul seems to sink into a kind of fleepy writers? unless we add the noble Anidiotilin, or childish vacancyof thought, nalist, who appeared in after times; It is diverted by toys and baubles,which who, notwithstanding the political turn can only be pleasing to the most su- of his genius, which sometimes interperficiai curiosity. It is enlivened by feres, is admirable in this great quaa cjjick succession of trivial objects, lity; and by it, far superior to his conthat glisten, and glance, and dance be- temporaries. It is this one circumstance lore the eye; and, like an infant kept that hath raised the venerable Dante, awake and inspirited by the sound of a the father of modern poetry, above the rattle, it must not only be dazzled and succeeding poets of his country, who aroused, but also cheated, hurried, and could never long maintain the local perplexed by the artifice of deception, and temporary honours bestowed upon business, intricacy, and intrigue, which them; but have fallen under that just is a kind of low juggle that may be neglect, which time will ever decree to termed the legerdemain of genius. This those who desert a just simplici'y for being the case, it cannot enjoy, nor in- the florid colourings of style, contrastdeed distinguish, the charms of natural ed phrases, affected conceits, the mrre and moral beauty or decorum. The trappings of composition, and Gothic i(M><nuous blush of natiie innocence, minutia-. It is this hath given to Boithe j'Uia.language of ancient faith and leau the most lasting wreath in France,

and

« ZurückWeiter »