AN ESSAY UPON PUBLICK SPIRIT; BEING A SATYR in PROSE UPON THE Manners and Luxury OF THE TIMES, The Chief Sources of our present Parties and Divisions.


LONDON, Printed for Bernard Lintott, between the Two Temple Gates in Fleetstreet. 1711.


THE following Essay contains a bold, but a gene­ral, and therefore I hope an inoffensive Satyr; especially since 'tis writ with an Intention to hurt none, and to do good to all. It neither reflects upon Persons nor Parties, but is levell'd at Vices, and not Men. The Design of it is to shew what Publick Spi­rit is, and in what Condition it has been for several Years amongst us; and that 'tis only to be retriev'd by that Reformation of Manners which the late King and Her present Majesty have often, with so much Wisdom, as well as with so much Religion, re­commended from the Throne.

[Page iv] The Restoration of Publick Spirit is certainly of the utmost Importance to the Duration of Publick Li­berty, of which 'tis the only solid and lasting Basis. And tho' Liberty is at present perfectly secure under the Reign of the Best of Queens, tho' it is threaten'd with no Danger from the Immediate Protestant Suc­cessors, 'tis yet the Duty of so great, so wise, and so brave a People, to transmit to their latest Posterity the Rights and Privileges which they have receiv'd from their remotest Ancestors; and they ought to take the more Care of this at a Season, when such contagious Distempers rage throughout Europe, as may make a great Alteration in the Line of Succession in a little time.

The modern Statesmen and Legislators of free Na­tions seem to me to have been for the most part em­ploy'd, rather in remedying than in preventing great Disorders, and to have been more taken up in provi­ding against the immediate Political Occasions of them, than in removing the Moral and the Natural Causes of them, especially those two important ones, the Edu­cation of Youth, and the restraining of Luxury in the elder sort, of which the wise Ancients took such pecu­liar Care.

'Tis morally impossible that Liberty and Luxury should live any where so long in so strict a Consederacy as they have done at Venice; which is secure from Faction by the Harmony of its Orders, and from In­vasion by its Scitution. But in a mix'd Monarchy like curs, where we are neither secure from Division by our Constitution, (tho' that Constitution may for ought I know be the best that we are capable of) nor from Invasion by our Scituation, both which are too evident from History and Experience, Luxury that [Page v] nourishes our Passions, and augments our Wants, must of Necessity inflame our Factions, and augment our Divisions, and cannot be with too much Care repress'd.

If what is here publish'd is favourably receiv'd, I shall endeavour to shew in a Second Part the mighty Mischiefs that the Introduction of foreign Manners and foreign Luxury hath done to this Island, and to the rest of Europe; and the proper Methods that are to be us'd to restrain Luxury, and to retrieve Publick Spirit.

I must confess the Reformation of Manners ought to be one of the peculiar Provinces of the Clergy: But at a time when they too often stoop from their Sera­phick Contemplations, and the high Dignity of their Function, to intermeddle in Human Affairs, they give us strong Temptations to make Reprisals upon them, and to entrench upon an Office which is properly theirs. I believe it will appear by the following Draught of the Publick Manners, that 'tis not for want of Bu­siness proper to their Function, that they pollute the Church with Matters peculiar to the State. Which Proceeding is the more difficult to be accounted for, because by doing their own Business, that is, by con­verting the Souls, and reforming the Manners of Men, they would make an admirable Provision for the Safe­ty and Quiet of the Government; whereas by their medling in Civil Matters, they never fail to inflame Mens Passions, to corrupt their Manners, to heighten their Animosities, to augment their Divisions, and to raise Convulsions in the State.

However, neither the Clergy, nor the Lay-Societies for the Reformation of Manners, can employ the most effectual Method, I mean according to Human Ap­pearance, for the immediate Suppression of bare-fac'd [Page vi] Luxury, the spreading Contagion of which is the greatest Corrupter of the Publick Manners, and the greatest Extinguisher of Publick Spirit. That Method can be only practis'd by the joint Authority of the Queen and her great Council, that is, by the whol­some Severity of sumptuary Laws, or Publick Taxes upon Luxury. And it was partly in order to shew the Reason, if not the Necessity of such Taxes, that the following Essay was begun. For whereas most of the Taxes which have been hitherto laid, have been laid upon our Necessaries or our Conveniences; and the Money that is gather'd from both these, substracts so much from the general Stock of Trade, and conse­quently weakens and discourages Industry: A Tax upon our Superfluities and our Luxuries, will by ren­dring us frugal, and consequently industrious, have a Tendency to the augmenting the National Stock of Trade. Besides 'tis plain, that a Tax upon our Su­perfltities and our Luxuries will do good to the whole Community, without being burdensome to any part of it; for few will pay their Money upon such a Tax, but they who are able to pay it, or who will be ani­mated and supported by their Pride at least to pay it chearfully; and so Luxury, that is naturally an E­nemy to Government, will be made subservient to it: And they who do not pay their Money upon such a Tax, will be the more enabled to pay all the other Taxes; which will reconcile such a Tax or such Taxes to all the sober, frugal, and industrious part of the Nation, especially since we have shewn above, that nothing will more contribute to the uniting our Minds, than the restraining our Luxuries; upon which Account no Tax can be more effectual for the finishing this important War, which our Divisions prolong. And as there will be more Occasion for such a Tax upon a general Peace than there is now, be­cause Luxury unrestrain'd by Law will in all likelihood [Page vii] then encrease, and the Encrease of Luxury will endanger this Island more, than the most dangerous Foreign War; Upon this Account it will be hard to invent a Tax more proper to be continued for the paying the Debts of the Nation, than a Tax upon our Vanities, our Superfluities, and our Luxuries. For which Reason the Act for prohibiting Immode­rate Gaming, and that for preventing of Duelling, which are two of the fatal Effects of Luxury, the latter of Luxury and Pride, and the former of Ava­rice and Luxury complicated, will be glorious to this Parliament, among all to whom the Prosperity of their Country is dear, among all to whom Law and Publick Liberty are dear. How inglorious has it been hither­to to this Island, which is and has always been govern'd by Law, that we have so long conniv'd at a cruel Custom; a Custom so Gothick, that there is no Instance of it either in Grecian or Roman History, and so Destructive, so Arbitrary, and so Barbarous, that Tyranny it self in a neighbouring Kingdom has not been able to endure it; as if the Tyrant had look'd upon it as an Usurpation of his own Tyranni­cal Power, that his Slaves should have the Lives of their Fellow-Slaves at their Mercy. If any of our Princes should have taken the Life of a free born Subject, even upon the greatest Provocation, without Process of Law, what a terrible Outcry would that Arbitrary Proceeding have caus'd? And yet a Subject not only dares, but thinks himself oblig'd to attempt the Life of a Fellow-Subject on a foolish Punctilio, and on a senseless Whimsey. To what purpose is it to make wholsome Laws for the Security of Property, when Life, the very Source and Fountain of Property, is every Moment in Danger? This Parliament there­fore has laid the greatest and highest Obligation upon all their Fellow-Subjects, that Man can lay upon Man, by rescuing them from the Tyranny of a Barbarous Custom, and making it scandalous to do [Page viii] that for the future, which before 'twas infamous to refuse; so that all their Fellow Subjects owe the Se­curity of their very Being under God to them. By how precarious and how fantastick a Tenure has Life been held till now, when we were oblig'd to hazard it, against all Reason, against all Justice, at the Will of every contemptible Wretch in order to preserve Honour, as if Honour could be different from Reason and Justice, and from the Laws of our Country? With how much Satisfaction do all who love that Country see, that tho' Publick Spirit in other Parts is sunk and fallen so low, yet we may hope once more to see it rise, since it still flourishes in the Illustrious Representative of the British Nation, whose Members are so remarkable, and several of them so renown'd for their undaunted Courage, that Malice it self must be oblig'd to own, that there could be nothing pri­vate and nothing selfish in the Inducement to this Bill, which could be introduc'd by nothing but that God-like Motive of an universal Good.

AN ESSAY ON Publick Spirit, &c.


WHAT the Spirit of a Man is to the Body Natural, That, Publick Spirit is to the Body Politick: When the Spirit is vi­gorous, for the most part, the Body is strong and healthful; but the Body decays when the Spirit languishes, and after it totally departs, dis­solves, and returns into the Elements, from which it first was taken; as a Nation, when that mighty Spirit that animates it, wholly fails, returns into the Mass of Nations.

Since Publick Spirit then is that, by whose Vigor States are strong and healthful, and by whose Lan­guishment they decay; nothing seems to me to be of more Importance to the Good of my Country, than a free and a bold Enquiry, What this publick [Page 2] Spirit is, and in what Condition 'tis at present a­mong us?

Publick Spirit may be defin'd to be the ardent Love of one's Country, affecting us with a zealous Concern for its Honour and Interest, and inspiring us with Resolution and Courage to promote its Ser­vice and Glory.

Since Publick Spirit then is inseparable from the Love of one's Country, we come now to enquire, What it is to love one's Country? A bold and a dangerous Inquisition; which, as it will distinguish Publick Spirit from private Interest, or from Vain­Glory, will be to many, a provoking Satyr. But those People, who are engaged by their Pride or their private Interest to support the Publick Liber­ty, would do well to consider, that they are oblig'd by the same Interest to second and encourage any En­deavour that is made towards the keeping up, or restoring of Publick Spirit; it being certain, that a General Publick Spirit is the only solid Basis of a National Liberty; and that where-ever that Spirit is not, Liberty is but by Accident: For Interest may vary, and Pride may change its Object; but the Love of our Country, become habituate and grown up with us from our Infancy, is always sure to re­main.

To love one's Country then, is not so much to be fond of one's Soil or Climate, since whole Na­tions have consented to leave those with the greatest Alacrity. The Switzers, in the Time of Julius Cae­sar, were resolv'd to leave their barren Rocks for the fertile Vales of the Franche Comté; and the Goths and Vandals, some Ages after them, forsook the horrid Climate of the North for the lovely Fields of Italy; both the one and the other rightly judging, that where ever their Fellow-Citizens were, there was likewise their Country.

[Page 3] To love one's Country then, is to love one's Country-men; but he who loves his Country-men, must love them for something that distinguishes them from other People: For as he who loves his Friend, loves him for something which makes him that Individual Person; so he who loves his Coun­try-men, loves them for something which makes them that peculiar Nation.

But that which makes a People that peculiar Na­tion, and distinguishes them from all other Nations, is their Customs and Manners. He then who loves his Country-men, loves their Customs and Manners. Thus the Macedonians, who with the most ardent Alacrity, left the Sun and the Soil of Greece to fol­low their young Heroe, rather chose to part with their Lives, than to forsake the Manners of their Country. But as the more Men are distinguish'd from other Men by their Manners, the greater and the more extraordinary is the Friendship that is profest between them; the more a Nation is distin­guish'd by its Manners from other Nations, the grea­ter is the Love of its Children to it.

And therefore the wisest of ancient Law-givers took Care, that the People of the Common-wealths which they founded, should be most illustriously di­stinguish'd from other Nations by their Customs and Manners. Thus did Moses, thus did Lycurgus di­stinguish the Manners of the Jews and Spartans. The Customs and Manners of the Jews make a considera­ble part of the Pentateuch, and whole Treatises have been writ of the Manners of the Lacedaemonians. What they did for their real Common-wealths, Plato did for his imaginary one. Plato, in his Laws, says Montaigne, is of Opinion, that nothing could be more dangerous to the State which he founded, than the granting Licence to the Youth, to alter their Habits, and change their Gestures, their Dances, their Exerci­ses, and their Musick from one to another manner, altering [Page 4] their Judgments and their Opinions, sometimes one way, and sometimes another, running mad after Novelties, and doing Honour, and giving Rewards to those who invent, and who introduce them. By which Proceding, their Manners are corrupted, and their most ancient and sacred Laws come to be disdain'd and contemn'd.

It was the Opinion of those ancient Sages, that the Duration of that Publick Spirit, which they knew to be the Soul of their various Politick Bodies, depended upon the Perpetuity of their Customs and Manners. And indeed we find that the ruder Nations have always conquer'd the more refin'd, as the Per­sians the Assyrians, the Grecians the Persians, the Ro­mans the Grecians, and the Goths and Vandals the Romans. Now the Nations which we call rude, are they which retain their old Customs.

Since it appears from what has been said, that Publick Spirit flows from the Love of one's Coun­try; and that to love one's Country is to love one's Country-men; and that the greater Affection any one has for his Country-men, the fonder he must be of their peculiar Customs and Manners. In order to shew in what Condition publick Spirit is at pre­sent among us, we shall proceed to enquire into the Difference between the Manners of our Ancestors and our own.

But before we proceed to the foresaid Enquiry, it concerns us to answer an Objection, which is drawn from the very Nature of Publick Spirit, and from the Definition which has been given of it. Publick Spirit is the ardent Love of one's Country, affecting us with a zealous Concern for its Honour and Inte­rest, and inspiring us with Resolution and Courage to promote its Service and Glory. Now the Nations retaining their primitive Customs are rude and bar­barous, and by consequence weak, obscure, and mise­rable. The Grecians took their Laws, their Learning, [Page 5] and their Philosophy in a great measure, from the Egyptians; and the Romans theirs from the Grecians; and we have taken our Learning and Philosophy from the Romans and Grecians: Now who can doubt but that That Learning is at once our Defence and Ornament? How could our Navigation have risen to such a Height; our Navigation, upon which the Honour and Interest of this Island depends, but by the means of our Mathematicks, which we have ta­ken from the Grecians, and without which we could neither take our Enemies Towns, nor fortify and defend our own?

To which we answer:

That 'tis impossible any reasonable Doubt can be made, but that a Nation may take any thing from another, that may improve their Reason, their Vir­tue, their Interest, and their Power. Nay, every Nation is oblig'd by Duty, and by the Dictates of Publick Spirit, to do this: But the Manners and Customs of which we speak, are such as distinguish one Nation from another. Now as it is not Reason that distinguishes one Man from another, for that is the same in all, it cannot by consequence be Reason that distinguishes one Nation from another.

That which most influences the Generality of Peo­ple, and makes the greatest Impression upon them, is something which is the Object of Sense; and the Manners and Customs of Nations, which we speak of, are the Objects of Sense; such as those which Plato mentions, viz. their Habits, their Motions, their Exercises, and their Dances.

'Tis indeed our Duty to emulate the Virtue and Knowledge of other Nations; but by imitating their Manners, which are the Objects of Sense, we come to affect their Vices. And as every thing which is Sensual takes off from that which is Ratio­nal; the aping their Manners, which are the Objects of Sense, diverts us from imitating those good and [Page 6] those great Qualities, which may augment our Rea­son, and Interest, and Reputation, and Power.

But here another Objection may be easily started; for as to those Manners and Customs which are the Objects of Sense, some may ask, Are we oblig'd to resume those of our Ancestors? And as to Habits particularly, would you advise us to follow the same Form that was us'd in the Beginning of Henry the Seventh's Reign, which time was before the great Alteration of Manners? Why, no; to advise that would be perhaps ridiculous. But tho' I am not for resuming those of our Ancestors, why may we not as well now fix upon such as are proper and peculiar to us, as we did in the Time of King CHARLES the Second; when, in a general opposition to France, we threw off their Fashions, and put on Vests, that we might look the more, says the late Lord Hallifax, like a distinct People, and be no longer under the Servi­lity of Imitation. The whole Passage is so very re­markable, that the transcribing it, cannot fail to inform and entertain the Reader. 'Tis in the Chara­cter of a Trimmer, written, I suppose, in the Time of King CHARLES the Second.

Among the other Means us'd for the attaining that End (that is, for the getting all Flanders for the French) the sending over the Dutchess of Orleans was not the least powerful. She was a very welcome Guest here, and her own Charms and Dexterity, join'd with other Advantages that might help her Pretensions, gave her such an Ascendant, that she could hardly fail of Success. One of the Preliminaries of her Treaty, tho' a trivial thing in it self, yet was considerable in the consequence. About this time a general Humour in Op­position to France, had made us throw off their Fashions, and put on Vests, that we might look more like a distinct People, and not be under the Servility of Imitation, which ever pays a greater Deference to the Original, than is consistent with the Equality, all Independent Nations [Page 7] should pretend to. France did not like this Be­ginning of ill Humours, at least of Emulation, as wisely considering that 'tis a natural Introduction, first to make the World their Apes, that they may afterwards make them their Slaves. It was thought that one of the Instructions that Madam brought along with her, was to laugh us out of these Vests; which she perform'd so ef­fectually, that in a moment, like so many Footmen, who had quitted their Master's Livery, we took it again, and return'd to our old Service. So that the very Time of doing this gave a very critical Advantage to France, since it look'd like an Evidence of returning to their In­terests, as well as to their Fashions; and would give such a Distaste of us to our new Allies, that it might facilitate the Dissolution of the Knot, which tied them so within their Bounds, that they were very impatient till they were freed from the Restraint.

Thus far the late Marquis of Hallifax. But now if the aping them in one of their Habits was instru­mental in producing so considerable an Event, as the breaking the Triple League, (for that was the Knot which his Lordship speaks of) an Event, which prov'd so detrimental to the Peace and Liberties of Europe; what must we not think of that Load of Fo­reign, and particularly of French Manners, which have been introduc'd among us, to the Oppression of our own, and the Extinction of Publick Spirit, as we shall find in the following Chapter.

The End of the First Chapter.


WE come now to enquire into the Difference that there is between the Manners of our Ancestors and our own; as for Example, between the Manners that were in the Beginning of Henry the Seventh's Reign, and those of our own Time. We shall find that the Difference is almost infinite: For Religion, which never fails to influence all the Manners, tho' that of our Fore-fathers was a great deal mistaken, yet was it very sincere, and conse­quently a great deal better than none. And it was better for Government, of which Religion is the first great Hinge, that they were very much mista­ken in Superstructures, than if they had boldly and impiously struck at Fundamentals. As they were sincere in their Religion, they were sound in their Morals: The Men were at once both just, and ge­nerous, sincere, faithful, laborious; the Women modest, obedient, chast, and diligent: Both Men and Women frugal, liberal, temperate, hospitable. Their Conversation and their Diet were like their Manners simple; their Conversation without Fraud, and their Diet without Artifice. Both their Meat and their Drink, for the most part, were of the native Growth of their Country, and the costly Juice of the Grape was us'd oftner for Physick, than it was for Pleasure. They spent a great deal of their Time in the Country among their Te­nants, to whom their Hospitable Houses were always open. Their Tenants liv'd under them at easy Rates. They were the Tutelary Gods of the Poor, who in Sickness had Physick from them, and in Health their Food, and in both their Habitations. Their way of Living in the Country, their Diet, their Air, their Oeconomy, and their rural Diver­sions and Exercises confirm'd their Healths, and improv'd [Page 9] their Estates, and supply'd them both with Strength of Body, and with Vigor of Mind. So that their Minds were serene, or their Passions mo­derate; their Distempers neither frequent nor vio­lent, and their Children healthful, lively, robust and nervous. And whenever they unwillingly went to Town, the Occasion was important, and the Stay was short; and during their short Continuance there, they spent not their Time in ignoble Luxury, or in mad Profusion, nor made themselves vile in the Eyes of the World, by frequenting Houses of pro­miscuous Assemblies. Their Conversation lay for the most part with their Equals both in Birth and Rank, or with such as supply'd the Defect of those by true Nobility of Mind: Or if at any time, upon the account of Business, or Humour, or Variety, they were familiar with their Inferiors; at the same time they took care to shew, that they knew how to descend with Dignity. Their Conversation was sincere and safe; they were true to their Friends, and just to their Enemies; nor did they then, as it were by Consent, by the means of false Dice, so­phisticated Wine, and more impure adulterate Friendship, make War at one and the same time upon one another's Persons, Estates, and Reputa­tions. Nor did they squander away their Lives in thoughtless, inglorious Indolence; they were al­ways active for the Good of others, yes nobly active for the Good of their Country, for which they were with so much Zeal concern'd, that every Person or Thing was dear to them, that could promote its Honour, or its real Interest; and every Person or Thing detestable, that threaten'd Danger or Disho­nour to it: For this Reason they were Encouragers of Learning and Arts, of the usefullest Learning and the noblest Arts; for the promoting and spreading of which, they founded Colleges, and erected Schools. But they had at the same time an extreme Contempt [Page 10] for soft, luxurious, effeminate Arts; they had an utter Abhorrence for foreign Customs and foreign Fashions, and for those who introduc'd them. And their Habits, and the rest of their Customs and Man­ners were such, as very fairly distinguish'd their Birth, their Age, their Sex, and their Country. The generous Youths were many of them in those Days what the Duke of Argyle and Sir Richard Temple are now; they esteem'd it infamous to lie idle at home, while their Country was in danger abroad; and assoon as ever they became patient of Arms, they made their own laborious Experience their chief Instructor in War; and plac'd their Love and their chief Delight, rather in warlike Steeds, and in beautiful Armour, than in wanton Strumpets and luxurious Feasts. Therefore to Men like these, no Labour was strange or hard, no Preparations of the Enemy dreadful, and no Fortress impregnable. Their Virtue was sufficient to conquer all. The great Contention a­mong those Britons was for Glory, and not for Pow­er; who first should march to the Assault, who first should mount the Breach, who should have the most numerous Spectators of their gallant Actions; here lay their Strife, these they accounted their most va­lu'd Riches, this their Fame, and this their high Nobility. Liberal of Wealth, but Usurers and Ex­tortioners of Fame, they were contented with honest Fortunes, but aspir'd to boundless Glory. Who knows not what numerous Armies of the French have formerly been overthrown by small handfuls of anci­ent Britons? Our Fore-fathers Glory had transcended that of the ancient Grecians, had they like them found but Historians equal to their Actions. But they who had the most Capacity among them always were the most employ'd; all exercis'd their Bodies and their Minds together; and all the bravest and the best among them, were less willing to relate the Deeds of others, than to have others immortalize [Page 11] their own. And therefore both at home and abroad good Manners were cultivated. And as they had nothing of fordid Interest, there could be no Fa­ction among them; but Equity and Virtue prevail'd more among them by the Force of Nature, than by the Authority of Law. Their Quarrels and Disputes were with the Enemies of their Country. The sole Contention that they had with their Country-men, was who should be most virtuous. And so by these two noble Arts; by Intrepidity in War, and by ex­act Justice in Peace, they made themselves and the State illustrious.

To paint the Manners of our own Times graphi­cally, in so little Compass as that to which I have con­sin'd my self, would require a much greater Master than ever I can pretend to be. To say that the Coun­ter-part of what I have said of our Ancestors is true of the Manners of our own Times, is to say something, but not the hundredth part of what the Subject will bear. These Manners are so various, so complicated, so prodigious, that one might com­pile Volumes of them. There is not a greater dif­ference between what London was in Harry the Eighth's Time and what it is at present, than there is between the Manners of our Ancestors and our own. This over-grown Town may be said to be a visible, palpable Proof of the Growth of the British Luxury.

For Religion, never was there so much of it in Talk, never so little of it in Fact: Ten thousand People make it their Pretext, who are the most ex­traordinary Hypocrites that ever were in the World; for while they make it their Pretext, they neither care for it, nor would be thought to care for it. At the same time that they pretend to contend for the Purity of it, they openly maintain and avow Principles that are destructive of the Fundamentals of it; and are so far from concealing the Lewdness of their Practice, that they make their daily Boast of it. [Page 12] This was not all; for the Christian Religion, the very Spirit and Being of which lies in Charity, and the Effects of it, Humility, Meekness, Self-denial, Concord, Unity, was made the Pretext for the utter Subversion of all these, and setting up in their stead Hatred, Malice, Rage, Violence, Tumult, Riot, Rebellion, Confusion, Anarchy, which are contra­ry to the very Soul and Being of all Christianity. And what appears more incredible than all the rest, it has been reported, that a great many Persons of Condition have made it their Busi­ness to ridicule and baffle the Christian Religion, and to introduce Deism; though nothing is more plain, than that to extinguish Reveal'd Religion, is to introduce Anarchy. For there never was from the Beginning of the World to this Day any man­ner of Government without Revelation, pretended or true, and never can be as long as the World en­dures. The establish'd Religion, which is the first great Mover of the publick Manners, being in this Condi­tion, the latter must needs be in a deplorable State.

Ex divitiis (says Sallust) Juventutem, Luxuria at (que) Avaritia, cum Superbia invasere; rapere, consu­mere, sua parvi pendere, aliena cupere.

Where by the way we may see, that St. Evremont was mistaken, when he speaks of the Alieni appe­tens, sui profusus, as an extraordinary singular Turn and Double in Catiline's Nature; for Sallust affirms the very same thing of all the Roman Youth that he does of Catiline, Rapere, consumere, sua parvi pen­dere, aliena cupere; Riches made them proud and luxurious, Luxury made them necessitous, and Ne­cessity base and venal.

Pride, Luxury and Avarice, the legitimate Off­spring of Self-Love, which is private Spirit, and which are the first Causes of all Mutation of Manners, [Page 13] have made such a dismal Havock in ours, that we have hardly any Remains of those of our Fore­fathers. Pride makes our Gentry hate and detest Solitude, as where they have no Opportunity to set themselves to Show, and drives them from the Country to Crowds and numerous Assemblies; where instead of courting true Glory by Heroick Actions abroad, or by wholsome British Councils at home, many of them endeavour to distinguish them­selves by Parties, and study Faction and Division in order to arrive at Power. For to speak freely and impartially, the Persons who during these late Years have made most Tumult and most Stir in the State, some to assert the Prerogative of the Crown, and the Authority of the Church, others to secure equal impartial Liberty to the People; have all, to the Reserve of a very few, under the Shelter of these specious Pretexts, contended for their own Power.

Others of our Gentry, who have left their Here­ditary Seats in the Country to establish themselves in Town, have endeavour'd to distinguish themselves, and to outvie one another by their foppish Profusion, in Eating, Drinking, Dress, and Equipage; as if Honour were to be acquir'd by shaking Hands with Reason and with Common Sense. And the more extravagant the Vanity of our modern Fops has been, the more they have thought to grow remarkable by extraordinary Trifles, and the more fond have they been of introducing Novelties. And because they themselves have been something dull of Invention, they have most humbly condescended to borrow from their mortal Enemies, and have valued themselves upon French Habits, French Dishes, and French Dan­ces, as Sir Martin does upon his Man's Voice and Musick.

Since then Publick Spirit flows from the Love of one's Country; and to love one's Country, is to [Page 14] love the Manners of it; it is manifest, that we can have very little publick Spirit among us; for we have no Manners of our own to love; our Man­ners are those of all the neighbouring Nations. And whereas it was formerly a part of the Roman Wis­dom, whenever they gave to other People the Right of Roman Citizens, to oblige them to throw off their old Customs, and become conformable to theirs; we at a time of general Naturalization are throwing off the very Remains of our old Customs, and embracing those of all the Nations whom we de­sign to receive.

Methinks it should mortify all those who pretend to distinguish themselves by introducing such emp­ty Trifles among us, to consider what is become of those, who were at the Head of the Fashions and Customs thirty Years ago. Are they not as much forgot, nay are they not more, than Jowler, and Rockwood, and Ringwood, that lead the Duke of York's Fox-hounds then.

But Luxury which began by Pride, grew habitu­al by Length of Time, and was then improv'd by sensual Pleasures to an amazing Height.

There would be no end of enumerating the seve­ral Wines which we use to debauch us, or the va­rious Dishes, or their unnatural Mixtures, or their high Aromatick Sauces, those fierce Incendiaries of the Blood and Spirits. The Romans in the Times of their corrupted Manners equall'd us perhaps in these: But we are not contented, as they were of old, to rifle the Earth, the Air, and the Sea, to ad­vance our sensual Pleasures; we have rais'd Recruits from the very Fire, and made e'en that devouring Element, that in the Time of our Fore-fathers con­sum'd all, but produc'd nothing, fertile of a thou­sand Luxuries; witness our Brandy, our Usque­baugh's, our Rosa Solis, our Ratifia's, and all the Fa­mily of destructive Spirits. These Multitudes of [Page 15] People constantly use to invigorate themselves, not considering that Nature vigorous and undebauch'd draws the best and the noblest Spirits from the sim­plest Liquors, and the best and the most congenial of all from Water: For she, like some other Me­chanicks, operates best with her own Instruments, and uses but aukwardly those of Art.

But these Spirits are grown as habitual to the Women, as they are to the Men; in whose tender Constitutions they raise fierce Ebullitions and violent Emotions, too rude for the delicate Texture of their Fibres: And for half the Year together, they nei­ther take any Air, nor use any Exercise to remove them. From hence Distempers of Body and Mind; from hence an Infinity of irregular Desires, unlaw­ful Amours, Intrigues, and Vapours, and Whim­sies, and all the numerous melancholly Crowd of deep hysterical Symptoms; from hence it comes to pass, that the Fruit of their Bodies lies in them like Plants in hot Beds; from hence it proceeds, that our British Maids, who in the Times of our Henries were not held marriageable till turn'd of Twenty, are now become falling ripe at twelve, forc'd to Pre­matureness by the Heat of adventitious Fire.

Thus has our Luxury chang'd our Natures in de­spight of our Climate, and our Girls are ripe as soon as those of the Indies. Nor has it only chang'd our Natures, but transform'd our Sexes: We have Men that are more soft, more languid, and more passive than Women; Men, who like Women are come to use Red and White, and part of the Nation are turning Picts again. On the other side we have Women, who as it were in Revenge are Masculine in their Desires, and Masculine in their Practices; yes, we have Vices which we dare not name, tho' af­ter the great Apostle of the Gentiles; and to mention which with an open Frankness, would require the Boldness of a perfect Saint, or an accomplish'd Li­bertine.

[Page 16] Few Constitutions and fewer Estates are sufficient to such Luxury: Yet happy were Men, if the want of Money could mortify or subdue their boundless De­sires; such a Victory were cheaply purchas'd at the Expence of Ruin. But the Mischief is, that when the Habit of Luxury is grown inveterate, Indi­gence does but exasperate Desire, and Desire makes Indigence insupportable. And therefore a Person who has a Thousand a Year, and who yet cannot live under two or three Thousand, is ten times more unhappy, and has ten times more want than an ho­nest Beggar, who could live contentedly on twenty: And therefore this latter does only beg, while the other too frequently robs and steals, not indeed from particular Persons, because that cannot be done without Danger of Infamy, or of corporal Punish­ment, but from the Publick without any Reluctance, where tho' perhaps the Danger to himself may be a thousand times less, the Guilt and the Mischief are a thousand times greater. Thus private Lusts are too often supported by publick Frauds and Rapines; and the supporting of these makes him, who be­fore he consum'd his Estate, retain'd his Honour and his Integrity, fraudulent, venal, rapacious, cruel, oppressive; this makes him rack and grind his Tenants, and dispossess his insolvent Deb­tors, seizing at once upon Body and Goods, to the irrecoverable Ruin of themselves and their Fami­lies, without Compassion or Consideration of their deplorable and inevitable Misfortunes. And this Inhumanity perhaps is shewn, not to get Money to discharge his lawful Debts, but to satisfy forsooth his Debts of Honour, which by being preferably paid to the other, are chang'd to Debts of Infamy. This sets him upon enclosing Commons, where buy­ing out the Rights of the rich and powerful, he tramples upon the Necks of the poor and impotent, and throws them out of their ancient Dwellings by [Page 17] Violence, while the wretched Inhabitant grows a­bandon'd, helpless, and spiritless, and only fit for Servitude. 'Tis this that obliges him to let out his Estate to Monopolizers, who are capable of advan­cing large Sums to supply his Profusions; one of which Monopolizers perhaps shall rent two Thou­sand Pounds per Annum; all which Land perhaps be­ing graz'd, is manag'd by a few Servants, that for­merly maintain'd no less than forty Families. And this one Tenant has been known to be a notorious Papist, who has sold his Hereditary Estate, and en­ter'd upon this new Commerce, to avoid the paying of double Taxes, and to elude the Power of the Laws.

'Tis nothing but Want, occasion'd by Luxury, that has rais'd Gaming to such a Height, that it has done more Mischief than a Plague; for the latter on­ly consumes the present People, whose Kind is im­mortal, and therefore must spring up again; but the universal Extravagance of Gaming disorders the very Form and Being of Government, especially when 'tis carry'd on with such a Rage, that neither Sex sets any Bounds to it; but Men and Women, in the Fury of their Passion, loose all Government and all Decorum. The Men forget their Birth, their Rank, their Dignity, their Understanding, their Virtue, and herd and converse with mean Wretches, who are often both Fools and Knaves. Men of the first Quality keep worse Company, than Prince Harry does in Shakespear's Play, as a Pick-pocket is more scandalous than a High-way-man. 'Tis wonderful to see People live so much above themselves, and keep Company so much below themselves; to see so much Pride with so little Subordination.

The Women lock themselves up at Cards whole Days and Nights successively, and forget their natu­ral Pleasure of being seen, and of being admir'd; and Avarice gets the better of their Pride, as Luxury [Page 18] in some of them had done before; and gets the better of their Pleasure likewise, gets the better of that Pleasure which is so natural to them, and makes them shew a stronger Passion than that which they have for Men. Yet Avarice that drew them from their natural Desires, sometimes brings them back again; and some of them, like the ancient Germans, play for their Persons after they have lost their Pelf.

While both Sexes are thus transported by so fa­tal a Frenzy, where can be any Oeconomy; and without Oeconomy, how few can be good Subjects? Great Estates are often consum'd in a little Time, while Avarice and Profusion, Pride and Baseness walk Hand in Hand together, and Want springs up from the Desire of getting. But by the same degrees that a Man grows indigent at home, he often grows clamorous and turbulent in the State; for none are more clamorous than they, who under a pretence of publick Good, are striving for Power and Place; and none more eagerly contend for Power, than they who are urg'd by their pressing Necessities to make their Markets of the State.

But of all the Fashions that have been introduc'd among us from abroad, none shews so deplorable a want of Publick Spirit as the Italian Opera, and the extravagant Encouragement that upon the account of that, is at the Expence of all that is good and great among us given to worthless Fools, who can pretend to no Merit but Sound. I had once an In­tention of inserting a long Discourse of it here, but I have omitted the greater part of it, out of fear of offending some Persons, for whom I have conceiv'd a more than ordinary Esteem, and who are truly estimable. They have indeed such good and such great Qualities, and which shine so truly bright, that they want not the Foil of this senseless Encou­ragement to set them off to the World. How much [Page 19] 'tis to be lamented, that the Pressure of their Af­fairs, their Itch of Novelty, and their Pride of shewing their Power at too precious an Expence, diverts them from considering the Harm which they do both to themselves and the Publick; and from reflecting on that specious Pretence which they give to their Enemies to call in Question their very Wis­dom; that Wisdom which even their Enemies allow to be so conspicuous in the rest of their Actions. The Prosperity of the Bad, say they, and the Suf­ferings of the Good, have made Millions doubt of Providence; when they, who by their Quality, their Rank, or their Fortunes influence and support the Pleasures of the Town; when these discourage Me­rit, and encourage Fools, may we not believe, say they, that they are rather govern'd by Fancy and by Humour than by Reason? Must we not admire, say they, the Profoundness of these Gentlemens Politicks, when we see them forsaking their most serious Af­fairs, for a wanton and a sensual Trifle, so unwor­thy of their Gravity, their Rank and their Dignity, that 'tis not worthy of Men. Manly Pleasures are rational Pleasures; mere sensual Pleasures are com­mon to Beasts with Men. The Pleasure that effemi­nate Musick gives, is a mere sensual Pleasure, which he who gives or he who receives in a supreme De­gree, must be alike unmann'd. A musical Voice is natural only to some Species of Birds, but always accidental to Men; for which Reason a Cock Nigh­tinghale sings better than Nicolini, nay or than Sy­phace himself could, without being taught or with­out being gelt for the matter; and there is a better Opera in a Kentish Grove in the Month of April, than ever there was at Rome, at Naples, or at Venice. Do not the Politicks of these Gentlemen, say they, turn Mr. Bays's Politicks out of Ridicule? For is not the Conduct of the two Kings of Brentford, become as it were a Precedent to some of our modern Politicians? [Page 20] With what Countenance can they hereafter laugh, when they hear the Brother Monarchs say as they descend from the Cloud.

1 K. Come now to serious Counsel we'll advance;
2 K. I do agree, but first let's have a Dance.

For can any one, say they, give a tolerable Rea­son, why a Dance is not as proper a Preparation for Council as a Song? But Mr. Bays's Politicians only proceeded from Dance to Council, and there was an End of the Matter; our modern Politicians advance from Song to serious Council, and from serious Council before 'tis half ended to Song again; and so have made it their Business of late Years to refine upon Mr. Bays's Politicks.

Where, say their Enemies, is the Love which these Gentlemen bear to their Country; that Love which has been so much boasted of? And when here we urge in their Behalf the important Services which they have done for it; to this their Enemies reply, that they own indeed that they have done their Country important Services, but that there­fore they truly love their Country, is not a good Conclusion: A Man, say they, may do another ve­ry signal Service, and may do it heartily, not be­cause he loves that other Man, but because 'tis his Interest to serve him heartily, for, say they, there are these following remarkable Differences between true Friendship and a Commerce of Interest.

  • 1. A true Friend loves the Manners of his Friend.
  • 2. He loves those who are Friends to his Friend.
  • 3. He hates his Friend's Enemies.
  • 4. He appears zealous on all Occasions for his Friend's Reputation and Interest; to which he never fails to sacrifice both his Interest and his Pleasure.
  • [Page 21] 5. He delights to hear of the good Qualities of his Friend, and hates to hear of his Defects.

On the contrary: 'Tis a sure Sign, say they, of a Commerce of Interest,

  • 1. When a Man appears to be so far from loving the Manners of his Friend, that he plainly shews a Disgust to them, and affects those of his Friend's Enemy.
  • 2. When he neglects those who are dear to his Friend, and does good to his Friend's Enemies.
  • 3. When in some things he discovers a great In­difference as to what concerns the Interest or the Reputation of his Friend.
  • 4. When he delights to hear of his Friend's De­fects, and appears to be not at all affected with his good and his great Qualities.
  • 5. When he appears to be more touch'd with the most trifling Advantages of his Friend's Ene­mies, than with the most glorious Accomplish­ments of his Friend.
  • 6. When he never fails to sacrifice his Friend to his Humour or his Pleasure.

But now, say they, let us consider the Manage­ment of these G [...]ntlemen, who have introduc'd the Opera among us, and who have encourag'd it at this extravagant Rate. The introducing of other fo­reign Customs among us, proceeded as it were from a Combination of all sorts of People; but a few have introduc'd the Opera, in Despight and Con­tempt of the rest. If these Gentlemen love their Country; why do they sacrifice its Interest and Re­putation for a Song? Why do they sacrifice these noble Arts, which may bring Profit and Renown to it, to inglorious ones, which threaten it with Dan­ger and Infamy. What Article has Musick in the [Page 22] Grecian and Roman Greatness? What has it in our own? When they have answer'd themselves, let them give themselves so much Trouble as to look into Bayle's Historical Dictionary, which is now spread throughout Europe: Let them see there, how much of the British Greatness is owing to these no­ble Arts, which they have banish'd for so wanton a Trifle, that 'tis hardly fit for a Woman's Toy.

Since the Opera in so short a time has made the old British Wit a Jest, what Security have we that in twenty Years more, it will not make the old Bri­tish Courage a Jest likewise? It has already had that Effect in Italy, and perhaps in France too in some de­gree. And nothing is more plain, than that Effe­minacy is much more compatible with Wit, than it is with Courage. Now is not the Opera, say they, an effeminate Trifle? Has it not, where-ever it comes, emasculated the Minds of Men, and corrup­ted their Manners? Has it not made good the Accu­sations of Plato and Cicero? Why then, if these Gentlemen love their Country, do they encourage that which corrupts their Country-men, and makes them degenerate from themselves so much? If they are so fond of the Italian Musick, why do they not take it from the Hay-Market to their Houses, and hug it like their secret Sins there? Why do they abuse the Queen's Authority, to enervate and de­banch her People, and to discourage her Subjects, so contrary to her Majesty's Royal Intention, and the express Words of her Licence? Where, say they, is the Gratitude and Justice of preferring Fo­reigners to Britons, and in a time of a deplorable War, their Enemies to their Country-men? Is there not an implicit Contract between all the People of every Nation, to espouse one another's Interest a­gainst all Foreigners whatsoever? But would not any one swear to observe the Conduct of these Per­sons, that they were protected by Italians in their [Page 23] Liberty, their Property, and their Religion against Britons? For why else should they prefer Italian Sound to British Sense, Italian Nonsense to British Reason, the Blockheads of Italy to their own Coun­try-men, who have Wit; and the Luxury, and Ef­feminacy of the most profligate Portion of the Globe to the British Virtue? Why do those exotick worth­less Wretches fare deliciously every Day, and sleep in Purple at Night, while our own Proficients in more generous Arts, of Arts which alone can wor­thily celebrate the Glories of our Country, and the Triumphs of the Queen's victorious Reign, are suf­fer'd to be reduc'd to the basest Want? A Play, say they, is the Imitation of human Life, in order to its Improvement; and yet that is an Art which is about to be lost among us. But what is an Opera? 'Tis so foolish a thing, that 'tis impossible to give a serious Description of it: 'Tis the Imitation, or rather the Burlesque of Catterwawling, where Love and Battle are wag'd together with a perpetual Squawling. And yet this is the thing that is so much encourag'd. O noble Encouragement! What, say they, can they answer to this, but that they are pleas'd with the Opera, and that they are resolv'd to sacrifice all things to their own Pleasure even the Honour and Interest of their Country? Now can any thing in the World shew a more deplorable want of Publick Spirit than this? Tho' there was little of it in the Nation before, yet many People shew'd so much Esteem for it, at least to pretend to it: But these Persons by such a Declaration mani­festly boast of the want of it; they boldly confess, that they are not concern'd for the Interest and Ho­nour of their Country, and so prevail upon all those who can be influenc'd by their Example to throw off any Concern for it.

[Page 24] I am sorry that these Gentlemen should have gi­ven their Enemies the specious Pretexts to make Ob­jections like these: I can only say in Defence of some of them what is known to all Europe, that not only the Services which they have done the Common Cause have been most conspicuous, and most illu­strious; but that they appear'd so early in the De­fence of their Country, and at a time, when they had nothing but Ruin to expect from their Zeal, that it was undeniably their Love to their Coun­try, and not their Interest, which engag'd them in the Defence of it. This I can say in the Behalf of three or four Espousers of the Opera; and I could wish the few deserving rest would apologize for themselves.

But for the numerous Herd of its Encouragers, who have not the least Pretence to Merit, I would not have them think that any part of the preceding Discourse is addrest to them. They are Persons whom 'tis very easy to contemn, but very hard to satisfy, and least of all with Reason. 'Tis their Interest that the reigning Diversion of the Town should be that, of which they are often better qua­lified to judge, than they are who have Understand­ing: They are not only pleas'd with the Opera forsooth, they value themselves upon it, as their Brother Sir Martin did upon his Man's Voice and Musick. If they were the only Persons concern'd, I believe no one would give himself a Moment's trou­ble to put them out of Conceit with themselves, and with their darling Bawble. A Rattle of one sort or other is as necessary to keep Fools in Order, as it is Children. And therefore let them e'en go on to be us'd as they have been, that is, like so ma­ny Bartlemew Cockes's, to have the Eunuchs tickle their Ears with a Straw, while they pick their Pockets.

[Page 25] The Ladies, with humblest Submission, seem to mistake their Interest a little in encouraging Opera's; for the more the Men are enervated and emasculated by the Softness of the Italian Musick, the less will they care for them, and the more for one another. There are some certain Pleasures which are mortal Enemies to their Pleasures, that past the Alps about the same time with the Opera; and if our Subscrip­tions go on, at the frantick rate that they have done, I make no doubt but we shall come to see one Beau take another for Better for Worse, as once an impe­rial harmonious Blockhead did Sporus.

If any one thinks I have been too severe, let him only consider, what Shakespear would have said, if he had been now alive. He had not the thousandth part of the Provocation that we have, and yet he could not forbear crying out, as it were with a pro­phetick Spirit.

—Then there are found
Lascivious Metres, to whose venom Sound
The open Ears of Youth do always listen;
Report of Fashions in proud Italy,
Whose Manners still our tardy Apish Nation
Limps after in base Imitation.

And thus we have gone through this Draught of the Publick Manners, which is very far from being writ with Malice, or being design'd a Libel upon the British Nation: He who wrote it, loves his Country too well for that; and if he believes the Manners of our Britons corrupt, he believes those of some Southern Nations to be still more degenerate. But they have already lost their Liberty by their Cor­ruption; ours is yet entire, and in no Danger at present; and it is possible for us, if we will mend our Manners, to transmit it to our latest Posterity.

[Page 26] However, if I have either exaggerated any thing, or in some Particulars have been my self mistaken, or have been wrongly inform'd by others, I hope the Reader will pardon my Errors for the Sake of my good Intention: For this being a general Satyr, he who wrote it cannot be suppos'd to act by Malice or Passion. Those Satyrs indeed which descend to mention particular Persons, under Pretence of re­forming the Publick, often attack those particular Persons, and sometimes the very Ministers, out of Malice, or Passion, or Interest. But no Man can bear Malice against a Nation, or be angry with a World. He who wrote this is a hearty Lover of his Country; but we have shewn above, that he who loves his Country, loves his Country-men, all his Country-men; for he who pretends to affect a Part only, loves only himself.

As he who wrote this loves his Country, he will be pleas'd with any Administration under which it flourishes: He is very far from having any reason to be angry with the Ministers; nor if he had, would he suffer his Passion to get the better of his Reason, but would let his private Resentment be lost in the publick Tranquillity, and his private Sufferings in the Happiness of his Country.

Nor are here any bitter envenom'd Reflections upon private particular Persons, to ruin their Re­putations, and undermine their Interests. He who writes this, looks upon himself as one, who has nei­ther Mission nor Authority to expose any one to pub­lick Censure; nor can any thing excuse the doing it, but a Certainty, that the Publick will suffer if it is not done.

As this is a general Satyr, and cannot be the ef­fect either of Passion or Malice, a general Benefit must be the chief Design of it. The Good which it carries with it, is equally intended to all; even those who happen to be hit by it, are design'd to [Page 27] be oblig'd among the rest, and suffer only by Ac­cident.

And 'tis for this very Reason that a general Satyr is preferable to what is particular, not only because the Design is more generous, of obliging all, and offending none, but because there is a greater pro­bability of its attaining the End to which it directs its Aim, which is the Reformation of the Reader: For the Pleasure which we find that the Generality of Mankind takes in particular Satyr, is a certain Sign that the Publick reaps little Benefit from it; for few are willing to apply those Faults to them­selves, for which they see any particular Person ex­pos'd to Contempt and Infamy. Men will more willingly acknowledge Faults, in the committing which they are join'd with Company sufficient to keep them in Countenance.

Yet are particular Satyrs, if they are just Satyrs, preferable by much to Lampoons or Libels: That only can be call'd a just Satyr, whose Censures are always true; but that which endeavours to decry true Merit, out of Malice, or Passion, or Interest, is in spight of popular Applause a Lampoon, and an in­famous Libel.

Yet several Lampoons, both in Verse and in Prose, are writ with Wit and Art; and these are much better than those thousand Extempore ones, which are hourly utter'd by Club and Coffee-House Gen­tlemen, Petty Merchants of small Conceits, as my late Lord Hallifax calls them; who, says he, are always aiming at Wit, and generally make false Fire.

Tho' perhaps no one is more truly pleas'd by the Charms of a beautiful Imagination than my self, yet I have always been of Opinion, that there is no one Quality of a human Mind, that makes a Man a more impertinent extravagant Blockhead, than that which they call Wit, when 'tis not corrected by [Page 28] good Sense, and restrain'd by Judgment, as a Dose of Mercury uncorrected and unfix'd naturally cau­ses Driveling. And that which they call Wit in Conversation without good Sense, and without Judg­ment, is generally without good Nature likewise, and vents it self in Slander.

Slander is a Vice which is mightily in vogue at present; a spurious Brat begot by Pride upon Ma­lice, so lusty and vigorous a Bastard, that it often thrives by the same means which are us'd to de­stroy it.

As 'tis begot clandestinely, 'tis nurs'd for a time as secretly, till it comes at last to be openly main­tain'd by the Parish. 'Tis a Creature, of which they who begot it are afraid or asham'd, while they who maintain it are both proud and fond of it, till like the young Cuckow brought up by the Hedge-Sparrow, it comes to prey on its Foster-Father.

'Tis the universal Corruption of Manners that makes this Vice so current: 'Tis that which re­commends pitiful vile Mechanicks to Persons of Rank and Quality; recommends even Wretches, who have no Accomplishment either of Art or Na­ture, and who are distinguish'd by nothing but their being universal Tale-bearers, and publick Scaven­gers of Scandal.

Si nous n' avions pas des defauts, nous ne trouve­rions pas tant de paine, á en trouver dans les autres.
If we were without Faults our selves, we should not take so much Pains as we do to find others out in them.

[Page 29] For as Stocks are jobb'd by People in the City, who have no real Stock but their Impudence; so Slander is chiefly carry'd on in the Suburbs by Peo­ple, who have no Reputation themselves, and never can have any; by Wretches, who are not only below Fame but Infamy; by those, who will no more be remembred three Days after they are dead, than Flies of the last Season: And as, if a Design were set on foot for levelling Estates, all the Beg­gars in the Nation would come the soonest into it, and be the deepest concern'd in it; so in this Project for levelling Reputations, the Scum and Off­scouring of things is most deeply engag'd.

To degrade Merit is their principal Aim; for we have a kind of Ostracism for Reputations esta­blish'd by implicit Consent among us; and nothing is more dangerous than to be too deserving; and no Desert is become more unpardonable, than that of the Man who does great Services to the Publick. So that a Briton who does great and publick Actions, must have a more than Roman Spirit: For Romans, who acted for the Good of their Country, recom­mended themselves to Romans; but Britons, who have done most for the Good of their Country have made thousands of their Country-men their irrecon­cileable Enemies.

This Vice is chiefly carry'd on by Wretches, who are so worthless and so thoughtless, that they have neither Sense nor Thought to consider, that to bark at Objects sublime and illustrious, is the Quality of a Dog and a Slanderer; that to call a Man Knave or Fool makes him neither, but if he is neither, it makes him who calls him so most emphatically one or the other. That Slander is grown so fashionable and so frequent, that it does not always hurt the Slander'd, but that in the Opinion of a Man of com­mon Sense it always hurts the Slanderer; that it can only be the Interest of Men, who want common [Page 30] Honesty, and of such who seem to be sent into the World on purpose to be the Tools of these; but that 'tis the undoubted Interest of all Men of Honour and of Merit to defend the Slander'd.

That he who slanders any one wants not only common Honesty, but even common Courage: The first, because he condemns a Man whom he does not know to be guilty; the second, because he basely murders a Man's Reputation behind his Back, when 'tis not in his Power to defend himself. If a Judge should condemn any one to die, without po­sitive Proof or most convincing Presumption, and especially without hearing him, what a dreadful Out-cry would that formal Murder occasion? How detestable then are they, who upon the most frivo­lous Appearances condemn and execute as far as in them lies, the Reputations of their dearest Friends and Acquaintance; those Reputations, which are dearer to every good Man, even than Life it self.

Thus much to the Men, whose Business it is to carry on so odious a Vice. I am sorry that 'tis requisite to say a Word to the Women; who by be­ing instrumental in carrying on this Vice against the Men, have often given too provoking Occasions for terrible Retalations. Now Slander bears infi­nitely more hard upon a Woman, than it can do upon a Man; for a Man may retrieve the Reputa­tion of his Courage, his Justice, his Honour, or his Estate; but a Woman may as soon recover her lost Maiden-head as her lost Reputation.

In fine, as the Foundation both of inventing and of spreading Slander, is in the corrupted Manners of him who invents or propagates it; it follows that Slander being now almost universal, and raging in all its Height, the Corruption of Manners must be likewise almost universal, and at its greatest Height.

[Page 31] Thus have we endeavour'd to lay before the Rea­der a Draught of the Manners of these Times, and to place it in as true a Light as we could, that the Reader being convinc'd that Publick Spirit depends upon the Publick Manners, and that we have lost the Manners of our Ancestors without making choice of any others peculiar to us, and that we have in­troduc'd into this Island all manner of foreign Cu­stoms and foreign Luxury, may likewise be satis­fied that there is very little publick Spirit among us.


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The Works of Mr. George Farqubar, containing all his Letters, Poems, Essays and Comedies; the Comedies are illustrated with Cuts representing three of the Principal Scenes in each Play. Pr. 6 s.

The Works of Virgil translated into English by the Right Honourable the Earl of Lauderdale. Pr. 5 s.

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