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ambition ! but, too often mixed with a vain passion for improving upon those who have gone, successfully, before. The Church was now triumphant. The Sectaries were humbled ; sometimes oppressed ; always regarded with an eye of jealousy and aversion ; till at length this Gospel-principle of Faith came to be esteemed by those who should have known better, as wild and fanatical. While they who owned its divine Original found so much difficulty in adjusting the distinct Rights and Prerogatives of FAITH and Morality, that by the time this Century was ready to commence, things were come to such a pass ( Morality was advanced so high, and Faith so depressed and encumbered with trifling or unintelligible explanations) that a new definition of our holy Religion, in opposition to what its Founder taught, and unknown to its early Followers, was all in fashion ; under the title of a Republication of the Religion of Nature : natural Religion, it seems, (as well as Christianity) teaching the doctrine of life and immortality. So says a very eminent prelate.* And the GOSPEL, which till now had been understood as but coeval with REDEMPTION, was henceforth to be acknowledged, as old as the Creation.
P. 2, vol. ii. II. How expedient it was to give this detailed proof of the coincidence of truth and general utility, may be seen by the strange embarras which perplexes that ingenious Sceptic, Rousseau of Geneva, when he treats of this subject. “Je vois,” (says he, in his letter to the Archbishop of Paris,) “ deux manieres d'examiner et comparer les Religions diverses, l'une selon le vrai et le faux, qui s'y trouvent-l'autre selon leurs effets temporels et moraux sur la terre, selon le bien ou le mal qu'elles peuvent faire à la Societé et au genre humain. Il ne faut pas, pour empêcher ce double examen, commencer par decider que ces deux choses vont toujours ensemble, et que la Religion la plus vraye est ausi la plus sociable."-But then again he says,—“Il paroit pourtant certain, je l'avoue, que si l'homme est fait pour la Societé, la Religion la plus vraye est ausi la plus sociale et la plus humaine.”—Yet for all this he concludes—“ Mais ce sentiment, tout probable qu'il est, est sujet à de grandes difficultés par l'historique et les faits qui le contrarient.”—Pp. 71, 72. But Antiquity, which had intangled itself in this question, apparently drew him, in. The Sages of old saw clearly that Utility and Virtue perfectly coincided. They thought Utility and Truth did not : as conceiving the constitution of things to be so framed, that falsehood (as it was circumstanced) might at one time be of general benefit, just as Truth is at another.
P. 3, vol. ii. KK.
• SHERLOCK'S “Sermons," vol. i. serm. 6.
Νόν τ' ακούων, και βλέπων, φρονών τε, και
There are many variations in the reading of this fragment; and I have every where chosen that which appeared to me the right. That Critias was the author, how much soever the critics seem inclined to favour the claim of Euripides, I make no scruple to assert. The difficulty lies here : Sextus Empiricus expressly gives it to Critias ; and yet Plutarch is still more express for Euripides ; names the play it belonged to; and adds this farther circumstance, that the poet chose to broach his impiety under the character of Sisyphus, in order to keep clear of the Laws. Thus two of the most knowing writers of Antiquity are supposed irreconcilable in a plain matter of fact. M. Petit, who has examined the matter at large [Observ. Miscell. lib. i. cap. 1.), declares for the authority of Plutarch. And M. Bayle has fully shewn the weakness of his reasoning in support of Plutarch's claim. [Crit. Dict. Art. Critias, Rem. H.] Petit’s System is to this effect, that there is an hiatus in the text of Sextus : That a Copyist, from whom all the existent MSS. are derived, when he came to Critias, unwarily jumped over the passage quoted from him, together with Sextus's observation of Euripides's being in the same sentiinents, and so joined the name of Critias and the lambics of Euripides together. But this is such a liberty of conjecturing, as would unsettle all the monuments of Antiquity. I take the true solution of the difficulty to be this : Critias, a man, as the Ancients deliver him to us, of atheistic principles, and a fine poetic genius, composed these Tambics for the private solace of his Fraternity ; which were not kept so close but that they got air, and came to the knowledge of Euripides ; to whom the general stream of antiquity concurs in giving a very virtuous and religious character, notwithstanding the iniquitous insinuations of Plutarch to the contrary. And the Tragic Poet, being to draw the Atheist, Sisyphus, artfully projected to put these Iambics into his mouth : for by this means the sentiments would be sure to be natural, as taken from real life ; and the poet safe from the danger of being called to account for them. And supposing this to be the case, Plutarch's account becomes very reasonable ; who tells us, the Poet delivered this atheistic doctrine by a dramatic character, to evade the justice of the Areopagus ; but, without this, it can by no means be admitted : For, thinly to sercen
impiety by the mere interposition of the Drama, which was an important
“Οθεν τε λαμπρός αστέρος στείχει μύδρος.
Λαμπρός αστέρων στείχει χορός. .
P. 19. LL. The exquisitely learned Author of the English Commentary and Notes on Horace's Art of Poetry, has with admirable acumen detected and exposed the same kind of mistake in the dramatic Poets. Who when, as he observes, they were become sensible of the preference of Plays of character to Plays of intrigue, never rested till they ran into this other extreme. But hear this fine writer in his own words :
“ The view of the comic scene being to delineate characters, this end, I suppose, will be attained most perfectly by making those characters as universal as possible. For thus the person shown in the drama being the representative of all characters of the same kind, furnishes, in the highest degree, the entertainment of humour. But then this universality must be such as agrees not to our idea of the possible effects of the character, as conceived in the abstract ; but to the actual exertion of its powers which experience justifies, and common life allows. MOLIERE, and before him, Plautus, had offended in this; that, for a picture of the avaricious man
they presented us with the fantastic unpleasing draught of the passion of acarice.—This is not to copy Nature, which affords no specimen of a man turned all into a single passion. No metamorphosis could be more strange or incredible. Yet portraits of this vicious taste are the admiration of common starers.-- But if the reader would see the extravagance of building dramatic manners on abstract ideas in its full light, he need only turn to Ben Jonson’s Every Man out of his Humour ; which, under the name of a play of character, is, in fact, unnatural, wholly chimerical, and unlike any thing we observe in real life. Yet this comedy has always had its admirers. And Randolph, in particular, was so taken with the design, that he seems to have formed his Muse's Looking-glass in express imitation of it.” Dissertation on the several provinces of the Drama, p. 239.
When Pliny therefore compliments Şilarion for giving one of his statues the expression not of an angry man, but of anger itself, either it is a mere flight of rhetoric, to show the just force of the artist's expression : or, if, indeed, the ferocious air did exceed the traces of humanity, the Philosopher's praise was misapplied, and the Statuary's figure was a caricature.
P. 23. MM. His picture of Scipio Africanus is, however, so very curious, that the learned reader will not be displeased to find it in this place :
“Quam ubi ab re tanto impetu acta solicitudinem curamque hominum animadvertit, advocata concione, ita de ætate sua imperioque mandato, et bello quod gerendum esset, magno elatoque animo disseruit, ut impleret homines certioris spei, quam quantam fides promissi humani, aut ratio ex fiducia rerum subjicere solet. Fuit enim Scipio, non veris tantum virtutibus mirabilis, sed arte quoque quadam ab juventa in ostentationem earum compositus : pleraque apud multitudinem, aut per nocturnas visa species, aut velut divinitus, mente monita, agens : sive ut ipse capti quadam superstitione animi, sive ut imperia consiliaque, velut sorte oraculi missa, sine cunctatione assequeretur. Ad hæc jam inde ab initio præparans animos, ex quo togam virilem sumpsit, nullo die prius ullam publicam privatamque rem egit, quam in Capitolium iret, ingressusque ædem consideret, et plerumque tempus solus in secreto ibi tereret. Hic mos, qui per omnem vitam servabatur, seu consulto, seu temere, vulgatæ opinioni fidem apud quosdam fecit, stirpis eum divinæ virum esse, retulitque famam, in Alexandro Magno prius vulgatam, et vanitate et fabula parem, anguis immanis concubitu conceptuin, et in cubiculo matris ejus persæpe visam prodigii ejus speciem, interventuque hominum evolutam repente, atque ex oculis elapsam. His miraculis numquam ab ipso elusa fides est ; quin potius aucta arte quadam, nec abnuendi tale quicquam, nec palam affirmandi.”-Hist. lib. xxvi.
Hence we see with what judgment Cicero in his Republics makes the dream sent from Jove, concerning a future state, to be communicated to his SCIPIO.
P. 24. NN. That great observer of Nature, CERVANTES, having made Sancho (to save himself from the vexation of a sleeveless errand) palm upon his Master a supposititious Dulcinea, when the Squire comes to relate this adventure to the Duchess, she extols his ingenuity so highly, that he begins to suspect himself tricked by the Enchanter into his own contrivance; who had presented him with a true Dulcinea in Masquerade, while he thought he was barefacedly imposing on his Master a false one.
P. 40. 00. This ingenious conceit of SeedCORN did not escape the Abbé Pluche, who in his Histoire du Ciel, hath judiciously employed it for the foundation of a reformed system on this matter; which, however, brings us to the same place, hy a back way; and ends in this, that the Gods . were not dead men deified.
OF THE FOURTH EDITION OF BOOKS IV. V. AND VI. OP
THE DIVINE LEGATION OF MOSES,
TO THE RIGHT HON. WILLIAM LORD MANSFIELD,
LORD CHIEF JUSTICE OF ENGLAND.
The purpose of this Address is not to make a return for the favours I have received from you, for they are many and great ; but to add one more security to myself, from the malice of the present and the forgetfulness of future times. A purpose, which though it may be thought less sober than the other, is certainly not more selfish. In plain terms, I would willingly contrive to live, and go down to posterity under the protection of your Name and Character: from which, that Posterity, in the administration of public justice, must receive their instruction ; and in the duties of private life, if they have any virtuous ambition, will take their example.But let not this alarm you. I intend not to be your Panegyrist. To praise you for Eloquence, would be to praise you for a thing below your Character, unless it were for that species of Eloquence which MILTON describes, and You have long practised.
“ TRUE ELOQUENCE,” says he, “I find to be none, but the serious and hearty love of Truth : And that, whose mind soever is fully possessed with a fervent desire to know good things, and with the dearest Charity to infuse the knowledge of them into Others, when SUCH A MAN WOULD SPEAK, his words, like so many nimble and airy Servitors, trip about him at command, and in well-ordered Files, as he would wish, fall aptly into their own places.”
To live in the voice and memory of Men is the flattering dream of every adventurer in Letters : and for me who boast the rare felicity of being honoured with the friendship of two or three superior Characters, Men endowed with virtue to atone for a bad age, and of abilities to make a bad age a good one, for me not to aspire to the best mode of this ideal existence, the being carried down to remote ages along with those who will never die, would be a strange insensibility to human glory.