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degrees will break out upon those who are your friends, or those who are indifferent to you. I might bere observe how admirably this precept of morality, · which derives the malignity of hatred from the passion itself, and not from its object, answers to that great rule which was dictated to the world about an hundred years before this philosopher wrote; but instead of that, I shall only take notice, with a real grief of heart, that the minds of many good men among us appear soured with party principles, and alienated from one another in such a manner as seems to me altogether inconsistent with the dictates eitber of reason or religion. Zeal for a public cause is apt to breed pas. sions in the hearts of virtuous persons, to which the regard of their own private interest would never have betrayed them.
If this party-spirit has so ill an effect on our morals, it has likewise a very great one upon our judgments. We often hear a poor insipid paper or pamphlet cried up, and sometimes a noble piece depreciated, by those who are of a different principle froin the author. One who is actuated by this spirit is almost under an incapacity of discerning either real blemishes or beauties. A man of merit in a different principle, is like an object seen in two different mediums, that appears crooked or broken, however straight and entire it may be in itself. For this reason there is scarce a person of any figure in England, who does not go by two contrary characters, as opposite to one another as light and darkness. Knowledge and learning suffer in a particular manner from this strange prejudice, which at present prevails amongst all rank and degrees in the British nation. As men formerly became eminent in learned societies by their parts and acquisitions, they now distinguish themselves by the warmth and violence with which they espouse their respective par. ties. Books are valued upon the like considerations ; an abusive scurrilous style passes for satire, and a dull scheme of party-notions is called fine writing.
There is one piece of sophistry practised by both sides, and that is the taking any scandalous story that has been ever whispered or invented of a private man, for a known undoubted truth, and raising suitable speculations upon it. Calumpies that have been never proved, or have been often refuted, are the ordinary postulatums of those infamous scribblers, upon which they proceed as mpon first principles granted by all men, though in their hearts they know they are false, or at best very doubtful. When they have laid these foundations of scurrility, it is no wonder that their superstructure is every way answerable to them. If this shameless practice of the present age endures much longer, praise and reproach will cease to be motives of action in good men.
There are certain periods of time in all governments when this inhuman spirit prevails. Italy was long torn in pieces by the Guelfes and Gibellines, and France by those who were for and against the league : but it is very unhappy for a man to be born in such a stormy and tempestuous season. It is the restless am. bition of artful men that thus breaks a people into fac. tions, and draws several well-meaning persons to their interest by a specious concern for their country. How many honest minds are filled with uncharitable and barbarous notions, out of their zeal for the public good? What cruelties and outrages would they not commit against men of an adverse party, whom they would honour and esteem, if, instead of considering them as they are represented, they knew them as they are? Thus are persons of the greatest probity seduced into shameful errors and prejudices, and made bad men even by that noblest of principles, the love of their country. I cannot bere forbear mentioning the famous Spanish proverb, If there were neither fools nor knaves in the world, all people would be of one mind.'
For my own part, I could heartily wish that all bo. nest men would enter into an association, for the sup.
port of one another against the endeavours of those whom they ought to look upon as their common enemies, whatsoever side they may belong to. Were there such an honest body of neutral forces, we should never see the worst of men in great figures of life, because they are useful to a party; nor the best uure. garded, because they are above practising those methods which would be grateful to their faction. We should then single every criminal out of the herd, and hant him down, however formidable and overgrown he might appear: on the contrary, we should shelter distressed innocence, and defend virtue, however beset with contempt or ridicule, envy or defamation, In short, we should not any longer regard our fellow subjects as Whigs or Tories, but should make the man of merit our friend, and the villain our enemy.
Were there a combination of honest men, who with. out any regard to places, would endeavour to extir. pate all such furious zealots as would sacrifice one half of their country to the passion and interest of the other; as also such infamous hypocrites, that are for promoting their own advantage under colour of the public good; with all the profligate immoral retainers to each side, that have nothing to recommend them but an implicit submission to their leaders; we should soon see that furious party-spirit extingnished, which may in time expose us to the derision and contempt of all the nations about us
A member of this society, that would thus carefully employ himself in making room for merit, by throw. ing down the worthless and depraved part of mankind from those conspicuous stations of life to which they have been sometimes advanced, and all this without any regard to his private interest, would be no small benefactor to his country.
I remember to have read in Diodorus Siculus an account of a very little active animal, which I think he calls the little icbneumon, that makes it the whole bu. siness of his life to break the eggs of the crocodile, which he is always in search after. This instinct is the more remarkable, because the ichnenmon never feeds upon the eggs he has broken, nor any other way finds his account in them. Were it not for the incessant labours of this industrious animal, Egypt, says the historian, would be overrun with crocodiles; for the Egyptians are so far from destroying those pernicious creatures, that they worship them as gods.
If we look into the behaviour of ordinary partizans, we shall find them far from resembling this disinterested animal, and rather acting after the example of the wild Tartars, who are ambitious of destroying a man of the most extraordinary parts and accomplishments, as thinking that upon his decease the same talents, whatever post they qualified him for, enter of course into bis destroyer.
I observe that the spirit of party reigns more in the country than in the town. It here contracts a kind of brutality and rustic fierceness, to which men of a politer conversation are wholly strangers. It extends itself even to the return of the bow and the hat; and at the same time that the heads of parties preserve towards one another an outward show of good-breeding, and keep up a perpetual intercourse of civilities, their tools that are dispersed in these outlying parts will not so much as mingle together at a cock-match. This humour fills the conntry with several periodical meetings of whig jockies and tory fox hunters; not to men. tion the indumerable curses, frowns, and wbispers, it produces at a quarter-sessions.
It gives a serious concern to see such a spirit of dissention in the country; not only as it destroys virtue and common sense, and renders is in a manner bar. barians towards one another, but as it perpetuates our animosities, widens our breaches, and transmits our present passions and prejudices to our posterity. I
am sometimes afraid that I discover the seeds of a civil war in these our divisions; and therefore cannot bnt bewail, as in their first principles, the miseries and calamities of our children.
Audire, atque togam jubeo componere, quisquis
M ANKIND is divided in two parts, the busy and We the idle. The busy world may be divided into the virtuous and the vicious. The vicious again into the covetous, the ambitious, and the sensual. The idle part of mankind are in a state inferior to any one of these. All the other are engaged in the pursuit of happiness, though often misplaced, and are therefore more likely to be attentive to such means as shall be proposed to them for that end. The idle, who are neither wise for this world nor the next, are empha. tically called, by Doctor Tillotson, fuol3 at large. They propose themselves no end, but run adrift with every wind. Advice therefore would be but thrown away upon thern, since they would scarce take the pains to read it. I shall not fatigue any of this worthless tribe with a long harangue; but will leave them with this short saying of Plato, that “ labour is preferable to idleness, as brightness to rust.”
The pursuits of the active part of mankind are either