« EdellinenJatka »
ever I attended you at dinner, did not vou say, again and again, that Kings, Princes, and Prime Ministers, were all worse than pick-pockets? And yet now you would go for to hang me, for having only civilly alked a few guineas, to make up a little matter of loss, I had had in the Lottery. I wonder you a'nt ashamed to turn so against your own words." "No, Timothy," returned the philosopher; "my opinions are not so easily changed. No man, ever yet convinced me of being in an error. You have only to regret your having lived in a dark age, when vulgar prejudices so far prevail, as to consider laws as necessary to the wellbeing of society.—But be comforted, Timothy! The age of reason approaches. That glorious sera is fast advancing, in which every man shall do that which is right in his own eyes, and the fear of the gallows shall have as little influence, as the fear of hell."
"Ah! that I had kept to my goodgrandmother's wholesome doctrine of hell and damnation!" (exclaimed the poor wretch, whom the Justice's men were now dragging back to prison)—" I should not now be at the mercy of a false friend, who laughed me out of the fear of God— and now leaves me to the mercy of the gallows!"—He continued to speak, but we could no longer hear. He was dragged to his prison, aud we having made our obedience to the Magistrate, departed. I have been enabled thus circumstantially, to detail the particulars of this curious conversation, from the politeness of the Magistrate's nephew, who was so kind as to furnish me with a copy of his notes, taken down in, what is called, Short Hand.
It is possible, that much of it may appear to you unintelligible; but be not discouraged. How should our unenlightened minds, expect to understand the language of philosophers, smce from all I can learn, they seldom thoroughly understand themselves?
On returning to the Inn, I found the horses in waiting, the gentlemens' were also in readiness, and we proceeded in company to Ardent Hall. My reception from the Baronet, was very cordial. That of his Lady, was most frigidly polite. Her daughter, did not seem to remember ever having seen me before; but the elder Miss Ardent, shook me by the hand, with a degree of frankness, as masculine as her understanding.
The conversation of the evening, turned upon the same topics, that had been discussed before the Magistrate, Mr. Axiom and Mr. Puzzledorf doing little more than support the opinions they had formerly advanced. Sir Caprice Ardent, seemed, in general, disposed to agree with the last speaker; and Doctor Sceptic, who made one of the party, made a point of agreeing Avith none.—Miss Ardent retired to write letters, and her Ladyship and her daughter, remained as silent as did the friend of Maandaara.
O Sheermaal!—Wise and learned Bramin!—May thy meek and generous Ipirit, pardon the presumption of my ignorance, which refusing to confide in thy experience, perished in cherishing the ill-founded notion, that all the people of England were Christians!—With all humility, I now retract my error: and confess—that of the many religions prevalent in this strange country, Christianity (as it is set forth in the Shastcr) has the smallest number of votaries: and, according to the accounts of my new friend, is fast journeying to oblivion.
Much do the Philosophers exult, in exposing the weakness and wickedness of Its authors. These artful and designing men, who having entered into a combination to lead the most virtuous lives, having bound themselves to the practice of fortitude and forbearance, meekness and magnanimity, piety towards God, and benevolence to all mankind, weakly and foolishly, refused to take to themselves any merit for their conduct; and renouncing all worldly honours and interests, resigned themselves to persecution, pains, tortures, and death, in support of the truth of their doctrines.
AH this appears very foolish in theeyes of the Philosophers; who, judging of others by themselves, pronounce so much self-denial, fortitude, and forbearance, to be utterly impossible. The God of the Christians, appears in their eyes, as very reasonable, in exacting purity of heart—and humility from his votaries. They therefore, think it is doing much service to mankind, to free them from these uneasy restraints, and to load them to the worship of Dewtah, that are not quite so unreasonable.
To make the attempt, is all that is necessary, towards obtaining the appellation of Philosopher.
On examining the Cosha*, I found, indeed, that the word Philosopher, was said to signify, ." a man deep in knowledge, either moral or natural"—but from my own experience, I can pronounce the definition to be nugatory: and that those .who usually call themselves such, are men, who, without much knowledge, either moral or natural, entertain a high idea of their own superiority, from having the temerity to reject whatever has the sanction of experience, and common sense.
The poojah of Philosophers is performed to certain Idols, called Systems. The faith of each system has been promulgated by the priest, who either first formed the Idol, or first set it up to receive- the poojah of the credulous. This faith, is ieceived by the votary of the system with undoubting confidence, and -defended with the fervency of pious zeal. It must be confessed, that this zeal, sometimes carries the Philosophers to a pitch of intolerance, that is repugnant to the feelings of a Hindoo. Never did the most bigoted derveifh * of the Mussulmans,. betray more abhorrence at the sight of the Idols of the Pagoda, than is evinced by the worshipper of system towards a Christian priest! And yet, so far are the latter from returning any portion ,of this dislike, that the majority of them
* The antipathy of the Mussulmans to every species of Idolatry- is still the occasion -of frequent disturbance to the Hii.tioos- in the performance oi ths superstitious ceremonies of their religion.