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Title: A New Catalogue of Vulgar Errors
Author: Fovargue, Stephen
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A New Catalogue of Vulgar Errors" ***

Transcriber's note: The errata listed at the end of the work have been
corrected where they occur in the text.

       *       *       *       *       *








       *       *       *       *       *

    In many Cases one with Amazement hears the Arguings, and is astonished
    at the Obstinacy, of a worthy Man, who yields not to the Evidence of
    Reason, tho' laid before him as clear as Day-light. LOCKE.

    _Sunt delicta tamen, quibus ignovisse velimus._ HOR.

       *       *       *       *       *

Printed for the AUTHOR:

    Sold by FLETCHER & HODSON in Cambridge; S. CROWDER in Pater-noster-Row,
    J. DODSLEY in Pall-Mall, M. HINGESTON near Temple-Bar, and G. KEARSLY
    in Ludgate-street, London; J. FLETCHER at Oxford; and the Booksellers
    at Norwich, Lynn, York, and Newcastle. 1767.


       *       *       *       *       *


To explain the Use of Education, no Method can be more effectual, than to
shew what dull Mistakes and silly Notions Men are apt to be led into for
Want of it. These Mistakes are so numerous, that if we were to undertake to
divulge all the Errors that Men of no Knowledge in the Sciences labour
under, the shortest Way would be to publish a compleat System of Natural
Philosophy, which Learning, as it may be acquired by reading the different
Books, which have already been wrote upon that Subject, in this Æra of the
Sciences, such an Undertaking would be quite needless at this Time, even
supposing the Author capable of that laborious Work.

If the following Sheets do but serve to divest Men of some of those
unreasonable Obstinacies with which they and their Forefathers have long
been prepossessed, the Time will be well laid out, both of the Writer and

Be not affronted, gentle Reader, at my taxing thee with Error, with
Obstinacy, or the like; thou mayest not be one of that Stamp; for any Thing
I know you may have studied the Sciences, you may be well versed in
Mechanics, Optics, Hydrostatics, and Astronomy; you may have made the Tour
of Europe, if not, you may soon do it in Post-Chaises, and be almost as
wise as you was when you went out; or you may be one of those whom
bountiful Nature has blessed with a most excellent Understanding, a quick
Apprehension, and a discerning Judgment, and yet not have been so
fortunate, or unfortunate, which you think proper to term it, as to have
been brought up a Scholar.

Scoff not when we dwell so much upon Scholarship; for I would have thee
know, whether thou thinkest proper to believe me or not, that had it not
been for the four Branches of Learning abovementioned, thou wouldest not
have been smoaking that Pipe of right Virginia, which in all Probability
(whether thou art a Farmer in the Country, or a Mechanic in London) thou
art now most pompously blowing to Ashes: Neither would that charming Bowl
of Rum and Brandy Punch mixed, have waited at thy Elbow to inspire thee
with generous Sentiments (which Punch, let me tell thee, if thou drinkest
in Moderation, may keep thee from the Ague, if thou livest in the Hundreds
of Essex.)--Nay, thou wouldest not even have known what it was to have
tasted a Plumb-Pudding, which, tho' now, thy Palate being vitiated with
salt Pork and Mustard, and bottled Beer, thou hast no Relish for, yet thou
mayest remember the Time when thou didst think it most delicious Food. To
Philosophy art thou beholden for all these Dainties and Comforts of Life,
which if thou dost contradict, and dost still obstinately persist in thy
own Opinion, and wilt not be convinced of thy Errors, know, Dust and Ashes,
that thou art not sensible whether thou movest or standest still; and dost
imagine, that the glorious Sun is an extempore Whirligig.

Wonder not, Reader, if thou art a Man of Sense, that thou shouldest be
mistaken in many Things: For what Mortal can pretend to such Knowledge as
never to be mistaken? Truth is more difficult to be found out than is
generally imagined: Error is easily fallen into; by so much the easier as
the Odds are against us: For in the Disquisition of any Point, there are
numberless Wrongs, but there is only one Right. Numberless Falshoods and
Errors may be raised about any Thing, but Truth is invariable, and remains
the same to all Eternity.

The following Sheets will not contain many philosophical Terms; we shall
rather avoid such a Step as would hinder a great Part of our Readers from
understanding us, and shall endeavour to explain ourselves by such Methods
as the meanest Capacity will be able to comprehend. Moreover, all such
Subjects will be avoided as may interfere with any religious Tenets, it not
being the Intention of this Pamphlet to deprive Men of their Rest, by
tearing from their Consciences those fixed Protestant Principles of
Religion (let them be what they will) which they and their Ancestors have
long and peaceably enjoyed. But our Disquisitions will be chiefly confined
to natural Objects, and the Phænomena which daily present themselves to our
View. We shall likewise endeavour to rectify some of those Mistakes in the
common Arts of Life, whether of Business or Pleasure, which Men by an
accustomed Tradition are apt most obstinately to persevere in.

       *       *       *       *       *


The third Error is one which Sir Thomas Brown has taken Notice of; and it
must be acknowledged, that the inserting of it here was a Mistake. However,
we hope that it will be excused, since it is seven Years since the Author
of this little Pamphlet had the Pleasure of reading _a Part_ of Dr. Brown's
Vulgar Errors, and then he did not see that Error; it being not regularly
placed among the others, but in a separate Detachment from the main Body.
Notwithstanding the general Perspicuity of this Author, we are apt to think
that he never heard a Bittern himself, but only went by Hearsay with
respect to the Noise which is made by that Bird, however skilled he shews
himself in the Anatomy of it. He says, that it differs but little from the
croaking of a Raven. We can assure the Reader, that neither the Noise it
makes when it draws in the Air, nor the Sound it gives when it throws it
out again, have the least Resemblance to the Croaking of a Raven, as he
calls it.

A Raven makes a much shriller Noise than any of the Crow Kind,
notwithstanding it is a larger Bird. I make no Doubt but the Voice of a
Raven is twelve or thirteen Notes higher than the Voice of a Rook; besides,
he makes his Notes quick and sharp one after another; whereas a Bittern
takes near five Seconds between every Sound, and (as will be affirmed) in
as deep a Note as the fourth String of a double Bass.

       *       *       *       *       *

                  ERROR I.

    _That the more Ammunition is put into a Fowling Piece, the farther it
    will do Execution._

This Error is often of very dangerous and dreadful Consequence; I have
known People so obstinate in it, that even ocular Demonstration would not
convince them of their Mistake.

It proceeds from a Notion, that the more a Gun recoils, the better and
stronger will be the Force with which the Shot fly out.

There is nothing which requires more Nicety and Exactness than the finding
out the proper Charge of a Gun; it is something similar to finding out the
Tone of a musical Instrument; of which more in its Place.

It will be sufficient here to say, that every Gun has a certain fixed
Quantity of Ammunition, with which it does the most Execution. I have seen
Lectures in the Art of Gunnery, which come under the Science of Mechanics,
and even the Author himself, though a Man of Learning and Abilities, seems
to have been ignorant of the Art of charging a Gun, when he says, "If you
put in a Gun, a Ball upon a Quantity of Powder as (1), it will throw the
Ball to such a Distance; if you put in a Quantity as (2), it will throw it
as far again." This seems to be a Mistake; because, if that was the Case, a
Person would have nothing to do but to put Powder enough into his Gun, and
have the Barrel made strong enough, and he need not fear killing at any
Distance. As to the Recoil it would give, if the Gunner was a strong
Country Gentleman, and a keen Sportsman, and an Englishman, it would be the
least of his Thoughts whether it struck him a great Blow or a small one.

But to the Point: There is no better Way of finding out the proper Charge
of a Gun, than by the Report it gives. If there is too much Powder and too
little Shot, the Report will be a kind of a deep Roar; if too little Powder
and too much Shot, it will be an insignificant, short, narrow Smack; but if
it is charged properly, the Report will be a smart, shrill Clap, something
resembling Thunder.

This is the Reason why the Report of a Sportsman's Gun is so different from
that of a Field-Keeper's. The Field-Keeper has, or ought to have, no Shot
in his Piece; the Sportsman's is properly loaded.

In short, there is a Tone in the Barrel of a Gun, and the better the Temper
of the Metal is, the more shrill will be the Report, and the farther it
will do Execution.

I have dwelt the longer upon this Subject, because a Gun is an ugly Weapon
in the Hands of those who are either ignorant or careless, or both.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That the Heron makes a Hole in the Bottom of her Nest, through which
    her Feet hang, when she sits upon her Eggs._

What seems to have led People into this Error, is, the Appearance which a
Heron makes upon her Nest: You may sometimes see her Feet when she is

Now it seems unaccountable, how a Bird should sit upon her Eggs on a Tree,
and yet her Feet appear to a Spectator below. For any Person who takes
Notice of a Bird sitting upon her Eggs, will find that she doubles them up
under her, and that they are hid among her Feathers and the Eggs; so that
if this is the Case, there can be no other Way of seeing her Feet, but by a
Hole through the Bottom of the Nest.

But this is not the Case with the Heron, nor the Bittern, another Bird
resembling the Heron. When these Birds sit upon their Nests, their Legs lie
straight out behind them, in a Line parallel to the Plain of the Horizon,
in the same Posture as when they fly. This accounts for the Phoenomenon of
the Feet appearing on the outside of the Nest.

These Birds have Legs of a remarkable Length, as every one must know, for
they are a very common Bird; and when they sit, or rather lie, upon their
Eggs in the abovesaid Posture, the Nest is unable to contain these long
Legs, and by that Means they hang over the Side of it, and are seen by
those who are under the Trees on which they build.

With regard to any Thing of a Hole through the Bottom of the Nest, nothing
can be more fabulous: I once had the Sight of a large Tree, which had been
blown down in a high Wind, and was full of Heron's Nests. They are built
exactly in the Form of a Crow's Nest, and of the same Materials, only as
the Nests were larger than those of Crows, so there were some larger Pieces
of Sticks than Crows generally make Use of; and so far are they from having
a Hole at the Bottom, that it was impossible to find a Passage through any
Part of the Nest, with a stout walking Stick, so firm was the Texture of

If any one doubts of this, if he will take the Trouble to climb any Tree in
a Heronry, he will be convinced of the Truth of what has been said, by
ocular Demonstration. But I would not advise him to do it when there are
young ones.

As the Bittern has been mentioned in this Section, it will not be amiss to
put in a Word or two concerning an Error, which passes very current in
Countries where this Bird is found, and which we may venture to assert is
equally fabulous with the former. It is,


    _That the Bittern puts his Bill or Beak into a Reed, and that the Reed
    gives, by the Breath and Motion of the Beak of the Bird, that deep and
    loud Note which we so frequently hear him make as he lies in a Fenn._

This Bird, on Account of the Noise he makes, which is much such a one as if
a Person was to express the Word Bump in a deep Note, is in many Countries
called a Butter-Bump: Nevertheless the true Name of him is Bittern, as may
be seen in several Books.

One particular Proof that Bittern is the true and ancient Name, may be seen
in Stephens's Monasticon. The Author is giving us an Account of some
Expenses which the Abbey of Peterborough was at, and among others there is
a Bill made of the Expences for the Supper at the Funeral of one of the
Abbots of that Convent, in which, among a great Number of other costly
Dishes, and a Hogshead or two of Wine, which were drank, and an incredible
Quantity of other Things too tedious to mention, there is a Sum set down
for a great Number of Bitterns; from which we may venture to conclude, that
they were esteemed very delicate eating amongst those Connoisseurs.

I hope the Reader will pardon this Digression from the Point in Hand, when
I take Occasion to observe, that here is another vulgar Error, which
supposes, that the present Times are more luxurious than the past. For to
convince us of this Mistake, we need go no farther than the aforesaid Book,
and there we shall find, that as much Money was laid out, (in Proportion to
the Scarcity of Coin in those Times) upon the Funeral of one of those
Abbots, as in the present Age will pay the Expences of a whole College for
a Twelvemonth.

But to return to our Bitterns: That they were esteemed very delicate eating
at that Time, is plain, by their being served up at so splendid an
Entertainment; and we think it may be called another vulgar Error, in a
Farmer to suffer so fine a Bird to lie upon his Dunghill, while he and his
Wife and Family are regaling upon restie Bacon; which, as great an Error as
it is, I have known done, and a Person who knew the Value of the Bird, has
taken the Bittern from off the Dunghill, and dressed it, and made a
delicious Meal.

But it is now Time to say something concerning the Error about the Noise it

It is very absurd to suppose it possible, that this deep Note can proceed
from the Bird's putting his Beak into a Reed, even if it's Beak was formed
for the Purpose. Every one who knows of what vast Dimensions an Organ-Pipe
must be, to give such a loud, deep, bass Note as the Noise of a Bittern,
knows also, that a Reed is incapable of making such a Noise as that. It
must be something with a hollow Tube of a much larger Diameter than a Reed,
and the Wind must be thrown in with the greatest Exactness, both in regard
to the Quantity of the Wind, and the Manner in which it is let in; and
moreover the Tube must have a proper Aperture made towards the End of it,
of an exact Dimension according to the Size of the Tube, before it will
give any thing like a Tone at all. But here is a Sound as deep as the
fourth String of a double Bass, given by an Animal, that may be heard four
or five Miles off, in a still Evening.

The most probable Conjecture is, that the Noise is made by the Animal
itself, with the Assistance of Nature alone; and we shall have the more
Reason to be of that Opinion, if we examine the Throat of the Bird, which
is of so uncommon a Size, that a moderate Hand would go down it.

Now a Sound given from the Windpipe into such a Cavern as this, may very
probably be the Cause of this deep Tone. It acts upon the same Principle as
when a Person closes his Lips, and sounds a deep Note with his Voice.
Perhaps after the Reader has made the Experiment, (as in all Probability he
will do) he may be convinced that it is a vulgar Error, to suppose that a
Bittern puts his Beak into a Reed, when he makes that remarkable Noise
Which is heard in a Fenn.

It may not appear foreign to the Purpose, when I say that I have heard a
Bittern make the Noise abovementioned, and that I have gone to the Spot,
which was coarse Grass or Flags, just mowed, where there were no Reeds; and
the Bird rose up before me.

Here I must beg Leave to put in a Word or two, by way of corroborating what
has been said about the Heron and the Bittern lying flat upon their Nests,
with their Legs parallel to the Plain of the Horizon.

When the aforesaid Bittern rose up, I shot, and wounded him slightly, and
marked him down again in the same Kind of Grass or short mowed Flags. As
the Grass was not higher than one's Shoes, and it was wounded, I was in
Hopes of having the Pleasure of seeing him lie on the Ground very plain.
However I let my Pointer go first, knowing that he would stand at the
Place. Accordingly made a dead Point at it. I came up as silent as
possible, to take a View of it, but to my great Surprize, nothing was to be

There was indeed something which appeared long, like two green Weeds lying
among the Grass, and there was something like a large Spot of dryed Grass
or Flags a little before them.

While I was looking at the Place, the Dog, being out of Patience, seized
Hold of this Phoenomenon, which proved to be no other than the Bittern
itself. Those Things which seemed to be green Weeds, were it's Legs
extended at the full Length, behind the Bird, as it lay quite flat upon
it's Belly; and that broad Spot of brown or dried Grass was the Body, with
the Wings extended to their full Stretch, quite flat upon the Ground,
which, I believe, formed as compleat a Deceptio Visus as any Thing in

Thus we see how wonderfully these Animals are formed for their
Self-Preservation; so wonderfully, that though they are near as large as a
Heron, and much of the same Shape, it must be a keen Eye that distinguishes
their long green Legs from Weeds, and their brown Backs from dried Grass;
but this Deceptio Visus is so notorious in Partridge, and many other
Species of Game, that there is no Occasion to dwell any longer upon that;
only what has been said may serve to convince the Reader of the Truth of
what has been observed in the foregoing Section, concerning the Posture of
a Heron and a Bittern on their Nests.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That the Tone of a Violin is to be brought out, by laying on like a

Before we can convince such of our Readers as have no Knowledge in that
Part of Pneumatics which is called Harmonics, of this Mistake, it will be
necessary just to give a short Account of the Cause of Sound in stringed

In the first Place, all Sound proceeds from Undulations in the Air, which
is an elastic Fluid; and with regard to these Undulations, is much of the
same Nature as Water, which is another Fluid, but differs from Air in many
Respects. Now when a Person throws a Stone into Water, these Undulations or
Waves are raised in the Fluid for some Distance, by the Force and Action of
one Wave upon another. This is the Case with regard to Sound; only the Air
being an elastic Fluid, these Undulations are more quick and brisk in their
Motions than in Water. So much for Sound itself. Now for the Cause of this
Sound, or of these Undulations.

These Undulations are caused by the Vibration of some elastic Body, which
is put into Motion by a Stroke of another Body against it. It must be an
elastic Body (take notice) for upon that Word depends the Truth of what is
going to be alledged. To convince the Reader of the Truth of this, he has
nothing to do but to take a Rolling Pin, and strike it against a Pound of
Butter, and he will find very little or no Sound at all, because Butter has
very little Elasticity or Spring in it; but if he strikes the aforesaid
Implement against the Table, he will find Sound enough, because most Tables
are made of Wood, which is a very elastic Body. If there is no Butter in
the House, Wax will do as well or better, for it will prove that a Body may
be hard without being elastic, and which will be very much to the Purpose.
It will be necessary, before we can get any further, to explain what
Vibration is, a Word very commonly made Use of among Musical Men, tho' but
little understood.

To be as short as possible; a Piece of Lead hung upon the End of a String,
which moves backwards and forwards of itself after being first put into
Motion, is called a Pendulum, and that Motion backwards and forwards is
called its Vibration; it is upon this Principle that elastic Bodies are the
Cause of Sound. It will be best illustrated in a Musical Instrument,
besides that is the Point in Hand; and to be more to the Point still, we
will suppose it a Violin, though any other stringed Instrument would answer
the same End.

Here we have four Strings stretched out upon a Bridge, or thin Piece of
Wood, which communicates to the Belly of the Instrument, from which Belly
the greatest Part of the Tone proceeds. Now a String drawn tight at both
Ends, when it is struck, will have a Vibration or tremulous Motion, which
Vibration, or tremulous Motion, acts upon the same Principle as a Pendulum
does in a Cycloid, or, to speak as plain as possible, as a Pendulum does
when it is put into it's proper Motion.

It is upon this Principle of Vibration then, or tremulous Motion, that the
String of a Violin, being moved by the Bow, is to act: The String
immediately communicates it's tremulous Motion to the Bridge, and the
Bridge to the Belly of the Instrument, which Belly being made of a very
elastic Wood, by it's Vibration and free Motion, acts upon the Air in the
Manner abovementioned.

As it is the great Elasticity of the Wood which is to cause the Tone, it
ought to have as little Confinement in it's Vibrations as is possible; the
Weight of the Strings must indeed press against it, otherwise they could
not communicate their Motion to it. We should therefore be careful not to
over-string the Instrument, since it so plainly contradicts the Principles
of Pneumatics.

It is easy to hear when an Instrument is over-strung; and sometimes an
Octave in a Harpsichord, by it's additional Number of Strings, shall render
the Tone of the Instrument so dead, that, though it gives a Sprightliness
peculiar to an Octave, yet it sometimes hardly compensates for the Loss of
Tone which it causes in the Unisons, by it's too great Pressure upon the
Belly of the Instrument.

And yet notwithstanding all this, what is more common than to see a
Performer, with his Waistcoat unbuttoned, laying Strokes on a Violin, heavy
enough to fell an Ox.

The Truth is, managing the Bow is slight, and we must make Use of Art more
than Strength in our Performance: moreover, it is an Art which cannot be
wrote down upon Paper, nor explained in Words, but must be learned by the
Example and Direction of some assiduous Master. However what has been said
may serve to shew, from Philosophical Principles, the Error of leaning too
hard upon the Instrument, which was the Thing intended to be done.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That the farther you go South, the hotter is the Climate._

Gentle Reader, as thou art a Person of Understanding, thou wilt pardon the
Want of Connection and Form which thou findest in the different Subjects
which are here started for thy Entertainment: It would be very easy, in the
fair Copy which will be wrote over, to range them, in an Order, suitable to
the different Branches to which they belong; but why should I pester thee
with Form, when there is nothing so agreeable to a Man of Taste as an easy
Variety? Therefore, though it is ten to one that, before I have done with
thee, I shall have some more Discourse with thee about Musical Instruments,
yet I shall not humour thee as a Critic so much as to give thee it now;
well knowing, that if thou art determined to _Review_ me, thou mayest find
Abundance of other Opportunities for it in this Book: And likewise, that if
thou dost approve of what is here discussed, thou wilt, if thou art a
good-natured honest Fellow, pass by a little Incorrectness; for what else
can a Man hope for in a Book which treats of nothing but Blunders? However
the two following Sections may afford thee some Entertainment, if thou art
a Man of Learning, and if thou art not a Man of Learning, they will give
thee some Instruction; and to tell thee the Truth, the Subject of them is
so Philosophical, that if we were not fully convinced of the Truth of what
will be alledged, we should be afraid to undertake it.

For in this little Pamphlet, Philosophy will be avoided as much as
possible, that is, it never will be introduced at all, unless it is
absolutely necessary to call in it's Aid, in order to prove the Truth of
any Thing which shall be asserted. But to the Point; which is, to rectify
the vulgar Error, which supposes, that the farther a Person goes South, the
hotter will be the Climate.

This is so well known to be an Error, by all Men of Science, and by all
Navigators, that it is needless to say much about it, only just to relate
the Truth, that those who are mistaken in their Way may be set in the right
Road. But to proceed.

The two Poles of the Earth, that is, the two North and South Extremities of
the Globe, are in such a Position, or are so inclined to the Sun, or to the
Plain of the Ecliptic, as never to have any Rays fall directly over their
Heads, or they never have him any higher than a little above their Horizon,
or the Surface of the Earth; for which Reason it is always cold at the
North and South Poles, which will naturally be the Case, as any one may
experience by the different Position of the Sun, in Summer and Winter, in
our own Climates.

The Case is exactly contrary at the Æquator, or on the Middle of the Globe,
which is farthest from the two Poles, for there they have the Sun over
their Heads at Noon all the Year round; for which Reason it is always hot
under the Line, yet not always the hottest of any Part of the Globe, as has
been sometimes philosophically supposed, and which shall be the Subject of
the next Chapter, to introduce which this was principally intended.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That exactly under the Æquator is always the hottest Climate on the

This Error by no Means ought to be called a vulgar one; because it is a
Course of Philosophical Study, joined to a Want of Experience, which gives
Occasion to it. It is the Result of a Knowledge of the general Cause of
Heat and Cold, in different Degrees of Latitude upon the Surface of the
Earth; which Knowledge is apt to apply the Rules of Astronomy, that explain
the Phoenomena of Nature in general, to every Purpose that offers itself,
in all Cases, without being able to search into the individual Parts of a
System, on Account of the Distance of the Objects which are the Subjects of
Enquiry. For though, as has been said before, for a just Astronomical
Reason, the Position will hold good, that those Inhabitants who are under
the Line, live in the hottest Climate in general, yet it is proved by the
Experience of Navigators, that in several Parts under the Æquator there is
a fine, mild, soft Climate, even excelling any of those in the temperate
Zones; so happily are Things disposed for the Purposes of Animal Life, by
the Author of Nature.

This is a Truth which we are constrained to believe, as we have so many
living Witnesses in our own Country, who are ready to assert it.

We have one accurate Account in Anson's Voyage, where the Author reasons
very Philosophically upon the Subject. This Author tells us, that the Crew
of the Centurion were in some Uneasiness about the Heat of the Climate,
which they expected they were to undergo, when they came to that Part of
the Æquator which is near the American Coast, upon the South Sea; but that
when they came under the Line, instead of those scalding Winds which
sometimes blow in immensely hot Climates, they were agreeably surprized
with the softest Zephyrs imaginable; and that, instead of being scorched by
the perpendicular Rays of the Sun, they had a fine Covering of thin grey
Clouds over their Heads, and just enough of them to serve for a Screen,
without looking dark and disagreeable. Many other Beauties of the Climate
the Author describes, which need not be mentioned here, as it is easy to
see the Book.

He accounts for the extraordinary Mildness of the Climate in Words to this

"There are Mountains on the Sea Coast of this Latitude, of an enormous
Height and great Extent, called the Andes, the Tops and Sides of which are
covered with everlasting Snow. These Mountains cast a Shade and Coolness
round them, for several Leagues, and by their Influence it is, that the
Climate is so temperate under that Part of the Line. But, says the Author,
when we had sailed beyond the Æquator, into four or five Degrees of North
Latitude, and were got out of the Influence of those Mountains covered with
Snow, we then began to feel that we were near the Line, and the Climate was
as hot as we could have expected to have found it at the Æquator itself."

There can be no Doubt of the Truth of this Account: No Man would have made
such Assertions as these, if they had not been true, when there were so
many living Witnesses to have contradicted such an idle, needless Falshood
as this would have been. And indeed the Appearance of wise Design in the
Author of Nature is no where more conspicuous than in these Instances of
his Care for the Preservation of the animal System. What could we have
expected more than Mountains of Snow in Greenland? And even in those frozen
Regions we have as great Instances of the same Providence: When the Springs
are all frozen up, in that severe Climate, they have sometimes, even in the
middle of Winter, such mild South Winds as serve to thaw the Snow, so as to
cause Water to settle in the Valleys, and to run under the Ice in
Quantities large enough to serve the Purposes of animal Life; not to
mention the great Quantities of Timber which the Surf of the Sea brings
upon that Coast, from other Countries; without which the Inhabitants would
have no Firing, nor Timber for their Huts, nor Shafts for their Arrows, as
there are no Trees in that Country.

And now I hope it will not be thought too bold an Analogy if we presume to
say, that as, contrary to all Expectation, at the Æquator (where
intolerable Heat might be expected) the Inhabitants are provided with
Mountains covered with Snow, to qualify their Atmosphere; why may not we
suppose, that at the very Poles themselves there may be some Cause, unknown
to us, which may render the Climate serene and mild, even in that supposed
uninhabitable Part of the Globe? Why may there not be hot, burning Minerals
in the Earth at the Poles, as well as snowy Mountains at the Æquator?

We have Reason to think that the Composition of the Earth, at that Part of
the Globe, is of an extraordinary Nature; as the magnetic Quality of it is
to be apprehended, from it's immediate Attraction of the Needle. We are
entirely ignorant of the Soil, of the Place, and of the Constitution of the
Inhabitants, if there are any. We are certain that, near Greenland, there
are Sands of so extraordinary a Nature, that the Wind will carry great
Clouds of them several Leagues to Sea, and they will fall into the Eyes and
Mouths of Navigators, who are sailing past the Coast, at a great Distance.
This Instance only serves to shew, that we may be quite ignorant of the
Nature of the Soil which is under the Pole; we cannot tell whether it
consists of Mountains or Caverns, fiery Volcanos or craggy Rocks, of Ice,
Land, or Water, cultivated Fields or barren Desarts.

What has been laid will seem less strange, if we look back into the Notions
which the Ancients had of the Torrid Zone. It is not long since it was
thought, that only the Temperate Zone on this Side the Æquator was
habitable; so far were they from attempting to find out another Temperate
Zone beyond the Æquator, that nobody dare approach near the Line, for Fear
of being roasted alive. This is the true State of the Case; and if it be so
that the Ancients were, for such a vast Number of Years, under a mistaken
Notion, concerning the Possibility of living under or near the Line, why
may not we, who are neither more daring nor more ingenious than the old
Romans, be likewise mistaken, or rather totally ignorant of the Climates at
the Pole?

And here I beg Leave to offer a Philosophical Reason, why it should not,
according to the Nature of Things, be any colder at the Poles themselves,
than ten Degrees on this Side of them. Not that I by any Means insist upon
the Truth of what I am going to say; I only just offer it as a Subject to
be discussed by those who are more learned, and are able to take more exact
Mensurations of the Phoenomena of Nature than myself.

What I would offer is, that there is no Reason to apprehend more Cold at
the Extremities of the Poles than ten Degrees on this Side of them, on
Account of the Figure of the Earth. The Figure of the Earth is found, by
Observations which have been made, upon the Difference of the Vibrations of
Pendulums at the Æquator and near the Poles, and by other Experiments, to
be not a Sphere, but a Spheroid; it is not exactly round, neither is it
oval, but (if I may make Use of the Comparison) more in the Shape of a

Now the Climate is hotter at the Æquator than in high Latitudes, on Account
of the Inclination of the Poles to the Sun, as has been said before: What I
would urge is, that the Surface of the Earth, at ten Degrees on this Side
of the Poles, is as much or nearly as much inclined to the Plain of the
Ecliptic as the Poles themselves.

If that is the Case, no Reason can be given why the Poles should be colder
than Greenland, where, if we may believe the Accounts of Navigators, though
in the Winter the Cold is so intense as to freeze Brandy, yet, in the
middle of Summer it is sometimes so hot, that People have been glad to
strip off their Cloaths, for an Hour or two in a Day, in order to go
through their Work. But to return to the Surmise, that the Poles are no
colder than ten Degrees on this Side of them, on Account of the
Spheroidical Figure of the Earth.

I must trouble the Reader with a very plain Figure, in order to illustrate
the Meaning of this.


By this Figure we may observe, that any Rays of the Sun A, which fall upon
a Place situated ten Degrees on our Side of the Pole B, and Rays which fall
on the Pole itself, do not make so large an Angle, as they would if the
Form of the Earth was a Sphere; for if we extend the two Points B and C so
far as to make a compleat Sphere, we must be obliged likewise to move the
Line D along with it to the Point E, which would make a larger Angle, and
in that Case the Surface of the Earth at the Pole B would be more inclined
to the Plain of the Ecliptic than it is, and consequently it would be
colder, as the Cause of Heat and Cold in different Parts of the Globe is
owing to the Inclination of the Poles to the Plain of the Ecliptic, and not
to the Distance of the Sun from the Earth at the different Seasons of the
Year; for if that was the Case, we should have colder Weather in July than
we have in December, the Sun being rather nearer to us in Winter than in

I hope that this little Philosophical Effort, which has been made here,
will not be looked upon as unseasonably introduced in this Place; and I
likewise hope, that while I gaze with Wonder on the stupendous Frame of the
Universe, I shall not be thought presumptuous in having taken a little
Survey of one of the Wheels which duly performs it's Revolutions in that
glorious Machine, the Solar System; the exact and regular Movements of
which inspire the curious Beholder with a more awful Idea of the Greatness
of the Fabricator, than it is possible for any one to conceive, who is
entirely ignorant of the Accuracy of the Construction.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That the more Hay is dried in the Sun, the better it will be._

As Hay is an Herb which is dried in order to lay up all the Winter, when it
cannot be found in the Fields, and as it is intended for the Food and
Nourishment of Animals, that Nourishment must consist of such of the Juices
as are left behind in the Herb.

It is very possible, by the Art of Chemistry, to extract from Hay all the
separate Salts, Spirits, &c. of which it is composed. Now in a Chymical
Preparation, there is always something left behind in the Still, out of
which it is impossible to extract any more Juices; that the Chymists call
Caput Mortuum. This Caput Mortuum is of no Service, and is entirely void of
all those Salts and Spirits with which every other Substance on the Surface
of the Earth abounds more or less.

The Sun acts upon Bodies much in the Nature of a Still. He, by his Heat,
causes the Vapours of all Kinds, which any Substance contains, to ascend
out of their Residences into the Atmosphere, to some little Height, from
whence either the Wind carries them, if there is any, or if there is no
Wind, they fall down again Upon the Earth by their own Weight, at Sun-set,
and are what is called Dew.

Since this is the Case, and the Sun acts upon Bodies in the same Manner as
a Still, we should take Care not to make Caput Mortuum of our Hay, by
exposing it too long to his Rays; for by that Means we shall extract from
it most of those Salts Spirits of which Food must consist, and of which all
Animal Substance is composed.

The Botanists are sensible of this: When they dry their Herbs, they lay
them in a Place where no Sun can come to them, well knowing that too much
Sun would take off their Flavour, and render them unfit for their different
Physical Uses. Not that Hay would be made so well without Sun, on Account
of the Largeness of the Quantity, and at the same Time it ought to be dryed
enough, and no more than enough; for it is as easy to roast Hay too much as
a Piece of Meat.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That the Violin is a wanton Instrument, and not proper for Psalms; and
    that the Organ is not proper for Country-Dances, and brisk Airs._

This Error is entirely owing to Prejudice. The Violin being a light, small
Instrument, easy of Conveyance, and withal much played upon in England, and
at the same Time being powerful and capable of any Expression which the
Performer pleases to give it, is commonly made Use of at Balls and
Assemblies; by which Means it has annexed the Idea of Merriment and Jollity
to itself, in the Minds of those, who have been so happy as to be Caperers
to those sprightly English Airs, called Country Dances.

The Organ, on the other Hand, being not easily moved on Account of it's
Size, and expensive on Account of the complicated Machinery which is
necessary to the Construction of it, is not convenient for Country Dances;
and at the same Time being loud, capable of playing full Pieces of Music,
Choruses, Services, &c. is made Use of in most Churches where the
Inhabitants can afford to purchase this fine Instrument.

Nevertheless, notwithstanding these great Advantages, two or three Violins
and a Bass, are more capable of performing any solemn Hymn or Anthem than
an Organ; for the Violin, as has been before observed, is capable of great
Expression, but especially it is most exquisitely happy in that grave and
resigned Air, which the common Singing-Psalms ought to be played with. When
the Bow is properly made Use of, there is a Solemnity in the Strokes of it,
which is peculiar to itself. And on the other Hand, on Account of the
Convenience of Keys for the Readiness of Execution, nothing can be more
adapted to the Performance of a Country-Dance, than an Organ. For the Truth
of which Assertion I appeal to those who have been so often agreeably
surprized with those sprightly Allegros, in the Country-Dance Style, with
which many Organists think fit to entertain the Ladies, in the middle of
Divine Service.

If Jack Latten is played at all, it is Jack Latten still, whether it be
played in Church or in an Assembly Room; and I am only surprized, that
People can so obstinately persist in the Denial of a Thing, concerning the
Truth of which it lies in their Power to be convinced every Sunday.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That the Organ and Harpsichord are the two Principal Instruments, and
    that other Instruments are inferior to them in a Concert._

Notwithstanding the great Advantage which these Instruments have of playing
several Parts together, there is nevertheless one Imperfection which they
have, or rather they want one, or more properly a thousand Beauties
contained in one Word; which is no less material an Article than that of

There is no Word more frequently in the Mouths of all Sorts of Performers,
than this of Expression; and we may venture to affirm, that it is as little
understood as any one Term which is made Use of, in the Science of Music.

Above three Parts in four make Use of it, without having any Meaning of
their own, only having heard some one else observe, that such or such a
Person plays with great Expression, they take a Fancy to this new adopted
Child, and become as fond of it, as if it was the legitimate Offspring of
their own Brain. Some who are more considerate, think that the Meaning of
it entirely consists in playing Staccato; and indeed these People come
nearer the Mark than the others, but they have not picked up all the
Meaning of the Word.

One who plays with Expression, is he who, in his Performance, gives the Air
or Piece of Music (let it be what it will) such a Turn, as conveys that
Passion into the Hearts of the Audience, which the Composer intended to
excite by it. Dryden, in that masterly Poem, his Ode in Honour of St.
Cecilia's Day, has given us a true Idea of the Meaning of the Word; the
Beauties of which Poem, though they are enough to hurry any Man away from
his Subject, shall not be discussed at present, not being to the Point in
Hand. We shall only make Use of an Instance or two out of it, to illustrate
what has been said.

Handel was so sensible of it's being capable, by the Help of Musical
Sounds, of raising those very Passions in the Hearts of the Audience, which
Dryden fables Alexander to have felt by the masterly Hand of Timotheus,
that, by setting it to Music, he has himself boldly stepped into the Place
of Timotheus.

In this Performance called Alexander's Feast, it may easily be discerned,
that Expression does not consist in the Staccato only, or in any one Power
or Manner of playing. For Instance this Air,

    _Softly sweet in Lydian Measures_, &c.

would be quite ruined by playing it Staccato; and again,

    _Revenge, Revenge, Timotheus cries_, &c.

requires to be played in a very different Style from the foregoing Air.

Passions are to be expressed in Music, as well as in the other Sister Arts,
Poetry and Painting.

Having thus explained what is meant by Expression in Music, we will return
to the Point, viz. that the Organ and Harpsichord, though they have many
other Advantages, yet want that great Excellence of Music, Expression.
Surely it may not be thought a Straining of the Meaning of St. Paul's Words
too far, when I surmise, that he, who had a fine Education, and in all
Probability knew Music well, might have an Eye to the Want of Meaning or
Expression of the ancient Cymbal, when he says, "Tho' I speak with the
Tongues of Men and of Angels, and have not Charity, I am become as a
sounding Brass, and a tinkling Cymbal." That is, though I have ever so much
Skill in Languages, and the Arts and Sciences, my Knowledge is vain if I am
without the Virtue of Charity, and my Works will have no Force, and will in
that Respect resemble the Cymbal, which, though it makes a tinkling, and
plays the Notes, yet is destitute of the main Article Expression. For we
must not suppose, that so refined a Scholar as St. Paul was, could have
such a settled Contempt for the Science of Music, as to make Use of it even
as a Simile for what is trifling. We may venture to think, that the Apostle
alluded to that Want of Power in the Cymbal to move the Passions, which
other Instruments have.

This is the very Case with the modern Harpsichord; it is very pretty,
notwithstanding it's Imperfections, with Regard to the Change of Keys, (of
which more in it's Place.) But no one can say, that it speaks to his
Passions like those Instruments which have so immediate a Connection with
the Finger of the Performer, as to sound just in the Manner which he

In that Case the Powers are great; you have the Numbers of Graces which
have Names to them, and the still greater Number which have none; you have
the Staccato and the Slur, the Swell and the Smotzato, and the Sostenuto,
and a great Variety of other Embellishments, which are as necessary as
Light and Shade in Painting.

To convince the Reader of this, let him hear any Master play Handel's Song,
_Pious Orgies, pious Airs_, upon the Organ or Harpsichord, and he will
find, that, though it will appear to be Harmony, yet it will want that
Meaning, and (not to make Use of the Word too often) Expression, which it
is intended to have given it by the Word Sostenuto, which Mr. Handel has
placed at the Beginning of the Symphony.

Now a fine Performer upon the Violin or Hautboy, with a Bass to accompany
him, will give it that Sostenuto, even with greater Strength than the human
Voice itself, if possible.

I by no Means intend to debase that noble and solemn Instrument the Organ,
nor the Wonders that are done upon it, nor the great Merit of the
Performers who execute them, by what has been here said; only to discuss a
little upon the Perfections and Imperfections of different Instruments, as
the more the Imperfections of an Instrument are looked into, the more
likely is the Ingenuity of Mechanics one Day or other to rectify them.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That every different Key in Music ought to have a different Effect or

This is an Error which belongs chiefly to those who play a little upon the
Harpsichord; it arises from the Imperfection of their Instrument. As a
greater Number of Keys would be inconvenient to the Performer, they are
obliged to make one Note serve for another, such as B flat for A sharp, and
many others, which necessarily renders some of the Keys imperfect. But we
are not to take Notice of the Imperfection of any one Instrument, and
regulate our Ear by that alone; we are to consider what is the real Scheme
of Music, and what was the Intent of having different Keys introduced into

It was intended for the Sake of Variety. When the Ear begins to be
surfeited with too much of the _Cantilenam eandem Canis_, as Terence
expresses it, then Contrivances are made, without infringing upon the Laws
of Harmony, to have the Burthen of the Song upon a different Note; not that
this Key is to differ from the former in it's Mensurations from one Note to
another, unless it changes from a flat third Key to a sharp third, or vice
versa. For notwithstanding all the different Sounds which an imperfect
Instrument will give, in different Keys, there are in Reality but two Keys,
viz. a flat third Key, and a sharp third Key; and however the different
Keys upon any particular Instrument may sound, we will venture to affirm,
that any Piece of Music, let it be set in what Key it will, either is not
true Composition, or is performed badly, if it does not sound smooth and

For though we do agree, that Variety is grateful in this Case as well as in
others, yet that Variety ought to be introduced with as little
Inconvenience as possible. When we shift our Scenes, we should order the
Carpenters to make as little Noise in the Execution of it as they can help,
and take Care that the Pullies are all well oiled. For shall any Man
entertain me, by making a most hideous jarring Discord before he begins
what he intends to be Harmony? It is as absurd as for a Lady to take you
half a dozen Boxes on the Ear, before she permits you to salute her, and
then to tell you she only did it, that you might have a more lively
Apprehension of the exquisite Happiness which her unparallelled Charms
should very soon make you sensible of.

We may apprehend the Difference of perfect and imperfect Instruments, by
listening to a Harpsichord, when any Music, where the Key changes often, is
played, and to a fine Band, such as the Playhouse or the Opera. We shall
find, in the latter, that the Composer has taken Care to make every
Transition quite smooth and harmonious; and that tho' the Music be ever so
cromatic, yet it never departs from it's melodious Effect. Whereas in an
Organ or Harpsichord, even the greatest Performers cannot avoid a
disagreeable Roughness in complicated Harmony. Nevertheless, as has been
before observed, we must acknowledge the Organ to have Powers which other
Instruments have not.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That a Piece of Music which has Flats set before it, is in a Flat Key
    on that Account, and vice versa with Sharps._

This is so well known to be an Error, by all those who have arrived at any
Proficiency in Music, that very little need be said about it; however, it
is a very common Error.

A Key is not constituted flat or sharp, by having Flats or Sharps at the
Beginning of the Piece of Music; but it depends upon the third Note upwards
from that Note in which the Music is composed. For Instance, if the Piece
is composed in D, and we find that F is natural, or only half a Note from
E, then it is in a flat, or flat third, Key; if F is sharp, or a whole Note
above E, then the Piece of Music is composed in a sharp third Key. But as
there are so many Books extant about Thorough Bass, which give a full
Account of this, it will be needless to say any more about it, only to
mention it as an Error, among other Errors. The Reader shall not be tired
any more with Music at present, but for Variety we will shift the Scene a
little while.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That apparitions or Spectres do exist; or that the Ghosts of Men do
    appear at, before, or after their Deaths._

We would not be thought, in the following Discourse, to call in Question
that great Miracle of our Saviour's rising again the third Day, and
appearing to the Twelve: What shall be here said, will rather prove the
Miracle to be the greater, and therefore more worthy the interfering Hand
of Omnipotence.

But we must not suppose that the Supreme Being will condescend to pervert
the Order of Nature for Individuals. The ancient Heathens had a true Notion
of the Greatness of him, _qui Templa Coeli summa sonitu concutit_. Ter.
Eun. And Horace observes,

  _Nec Deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus._
                                Art. Poet.

Since it must be no less than a Miracle which causes an Apparition, I shall
proceed, without any Scruple, to prove that there is no such Thing in
Nature really existing.

Of all the Errors with which the Brains of Mankind have been troubled,
there is none of such ancient Standing as this. We have Ghosts and
Hobgoblins even in Homer; not that there is Reason to suspect that Homer
ever believed in them himself; he seemed too well versed in the real
Phoenomena of Nature, to entertain any such chimerical Dreams as Truth; for
Dreams they are, and no better: the true _Somnia Vatum_ of the Ancients,
handed down to Posterity, even to these enlightened Times. How many
horrible Nights have been passed in cold Sweats, by otherwise very sensible
People, owing to nothing else but the Apprehensions which they have had of
these no-existing Gentry! How was even the Metropolis itself terrified the
other Day, by the Scratching Ghost at Cock Lane! I think enough has been
said, even in this little Book, to prove that no Noise can be made, unless
by the Vibration of some elastic Body. If a Noise is made by a Voice, it
must be from an Animal, which has Lungs and Breath to do it; if a
Scratching is made, it must be done by something which has Hands, and
Sinews to move those Hands; and it must have Nails, or some other bodily
Substance, to scratch with, before it can cause a Sound to proceed from an
elastic Body. So much for Scratching, and dismal Yellings, and Groanings of
all Sorts, which have been fabled of Ghosts.

It will require a little Dissertation upon Optics, in order to explain the
Cause of Light and Colours, before we can confute the Possibility of seeing
an Apparition.

Light is found to be a real Substance; it is swift beyond Comprehension; if
I mistake not, it is calculated by Sir Isaac Newton, to be only eight
Minutes in passing from the Sun to the Earth; it is very subtle, passing
through the hardest transparent Bodies; it is capable of Refraction and
Reflection, that is, either of passing through a transparent Body, as a
Window, or of being reflected from an even Surface, as a Looking-Glass, or
a Piece of polished Steel; so that if we see any Object at my Time, the
Cause of our seeing it, if there is no Window between, is by Reflection, or
by the Rays of Light being reflected from the Object to the Eye of the
Beholder, which is formed for the Reception of the Rays which come from the
Object, in the same Manner as a Camera obscura.

When the Rays have found a Passage into the Pupil of the Eye, they fall
upon a thin Membrane which is called the Retina, upon which Retina the
exact Picture of the Object is represented, as may be seen by the Eye of an
Ox, properly prepared and placed in the Hole of a Window-Shutter. This
Retina is an Elongation from the Brain; and by this Means it is, that we
receive those various agreeable or disagreeable Sensations with which we
find ourselves affected, by the Sight of external Objects. So that we may
observe, that it must be not only real Substance which must reflect Rays to
the Eye, in order to cause Vision, but the Rays themselves, likewise, which
come from that Object, are Substance.

If this is the Case, the Apparition of a Person must be a Substance, which
is reflected from a Substance, which belongs to the Body of him who is
dead, or is going to die. With regard to him who is dead and buried, one
would think, that he and his Substance are so safe under Ground, that no
Part of him can reflect any Rays; but a Person who is above Ground, either
dead or dying, may reflect Rays to the Eye of a Beholder, and if it happens
to be a Friend or Relation, such Rays will make so strong an Impression
upon the Retina, that they shall in such a Manner imprint themselves upon
that pliable Spot, as will cause the Brain and Nerves of the Beholder to
have the Sensation of seeing the dead or dying Person some Time after the
real Action of seeing him.

This will account for most of those positive Assertions, which we may hear
in any Village, of the seeing the Apparitions of People after they are
dead, or just before they die, 'tis all one. We very seldom hear of any
such Thing in Town, which corresponds with what has been said; for in Town
it is so common to have Deaths and Funerals, &c. that People are no more
affected with the Sight of a dead Man than a living one. But the Case is
quite different in Villages. A Village with fifty Houses in it, situated in
a wholesome Country, shall not have above one Person die in a Year; this
makes such a Stir, that all the old Women in the Town must have a Peep at
the deceased, as he lies in his Coffin, with his Shroud on; which
Alteration of Appearance in the dead Person, from what they remember him, a
little while since, leaves such an Impression upon the Retinas of these old
Women, that 'tis ten to one but some of them think they see him, as soon as
the dark Hour comes on. And, very likely, a Person who thinks he sees an
Apparition may not be altogether wrong; there may be some of the Picture of
the dead Person still faintly remaining upon his Retina; and if so, it
certainly will give the same Sensation as if he faintly saw the Person. If
this is the Case, it is not the deceased come back again to bully us, as is
generally imagined, if we do apprehend we see him; but the Remembrance of
him strong in that Organ the Eye, by which we formed the Idea of him in our
Minds, when we really did behold him.

Homer seems to allude to this, when he makes Patroclus's Ghost appear to
Achilles. When Patroclus was slain by Hector before Troy, the Body, after a
long Dispute for it, between the Greeks and Trojans, was brought to
Achilles's Tent, where Achilles is described by the Poet, as making bitter
Lamentations over the Body of his deceased Friend. At Night he lays himself
down upon the Sea Shore, and falls asleep, when the Ghost of Patroclus
comes to demand the funeral Obsequies.

  [Greek: Êlthe d' epi psuchê Patroklêos deiloio,]
  [Greek: Pant' autôi megethos te kai ommata kal' eikuia,]
  [Greek: Kai phônên; kai toia peri chroi heimata hesto;]
                                Hom. Iliad. Lib. 23.

Homer never introduces an Incredulus Odi into his Works; he has an Eye upon
Probability in all his Fictions. It seems probable, that Achilles, after he
had been hanging over the Body of Patroclus, either quite asleep, or
between sleeping and waking, should imagine that he saw his Friend's
Apparition. And though Homer might not have heard of such a Thing as the
Retina in the Eye, (though it is not at all impossible he should, for he
shews himself a great Anatomist) yet he very well knew the Impression which
the Sight of a departed Friend is sure to make upon the Mind of the
Beholder. By this Propriety of Introduction, he keeps up the Appearance of
Probability, so necessary even in Poetry itself, which is generally

By this it should seem, that Homer was tacitly of Opinion, that there is
really no such Thing in Nature as an Apparition, and that it has no other
Existence than in the Imaginations of Men. And we have the more Reason to
believe that this was his Opinion, as we find that he did not choose to
introduce the Ghost of Patroclus to Achilles, when he was broad awake; but,
as he thought it might seem to want the Air of Probability, if he made
Patroclus appear to Achilles when awake, he takes Care to compose Achilles
into a Nap first, and by that means leaves the Reader to his own Opinion,
whether the Ghost did really come, or whether Achilles only thought so.
This is one of those Touches of Art with which Homer abounds.

But there is another Reason why we have so many of these Stories told us of
Apparitions by our Grandmothers; and that is, the Tricks which the Priests
of the Roman Catholic Times found it necessary to put upon their Flock, in
order to keep up their Credit.

Chymistry was the Study of those Times, and Lectures were given in them at
the Universities, as frequently as they are in Philosophy at present. It is
for this Reason, I apprehend, that Shakespeare introduces Friar Lawrence, a
Student in a Convent or Roman Catholic College, with several Kinds of Herbs
in a Basket, the particular Virtues of which he seems perfectly to
understand, and which he is going to extract from them, for physical Uses:
Had Shakespeare lived in these Times, most likely he would have introduced
him with a Quadrant, a Globe, or a Prism, or some other Philosophical
Instrument. Now those who have not seen some little of Chymistry, have no
Notion of the Wonders that are to be done by it; and these crafty Priests
knew so well how to make Use of their Art to the best Advantage, that they
could frighten a whole Village, whenever they had an Inclination to play
their Pranks. Friar Bacon, who was perhaps the greatest Chymist in Europe,
used to play so many Tricks, that he was thought by the whole Country, to
deal with the Devil; and many Stories of him are now extant, to that
Effect. One of the most common Pranks amongst these Gentry was this: They
used to get one who could draw well, to take some Phosphorus (which is a
Chymical Preparation from Urine) in his Pocket; having thus armed
themselves, they perhaps would step into the first Alehouse where they saw
a Light, and mix with the Company. He who was in Possession of the
Phosphorus would get up and go to the Wall, under some Pretence or other,
upon which he would draw what Picture came first into his Head, very likely
the Picture of the Devil. Nothing is to be seen by Candle-Light, and it
must be dark, before the Marks made by Phosphorus upon a Wall will appear
like Fire. After sitting a little while, one of them would either introduce
some Discourse about the Wickedness of the Times, or would tell some Story
about Apparitions; in the middle of which another would run against the
Candle, as if by Accident, and put it out. As soon as the Candle is out,
another of them pretends to have found out this Figure upon the Wall, which
will appear like Fire. You may guess the Surprize of the poor Country
People, at seeing the Old Gentleman upon the Wall.--They all take to their
Heels. In the mean Time, to improve their Ideas, another of the
Confederates sets Fire to Brimstone, or some other stinking Combustible,
and pops it against all their Noses, as they run out of Doors; and after
these two powerful Sensations of seeing and smelling, it would be quite
impossible, by any Arguments, to persuade any of the Company, that they had
not actually seen the Prince of Darkness. By these and such like Arts, the
Roman Catholic Priests so long kept this now well-delivered Country under
their Subjection.

Though this Account appears ridiculous enough, the Effect which such Sort
of Pranks have upon the weak Minds of Women and Children, are very serious;
and the Ideas which are received at this Time of Life, make such an
Impression upon some People, that they are unable to get the better of
their Apprehensions, even when they grow up.

I know a Person of the first Sense, and a great Scholar, who retains these
Stories so strong in his Memory, that he dare as well put his Fingers into
the Old Lion's Mouth at the Tower, as go up to a Monument, which stands in
a certain Chapel in this University, after it is dark; not that he really
believes any Thing would hurt him there; nevertheless he declares he cannot
get the better of it. And I make no Doubt, that not only this Gentleman,
but Thousands more of his Majesty's good and bold Subjects, are in the same

I look upon our Sailors, to care as little what becomes of themselves, as
any Set of People under the Sun; and yet no People are so much terrified at
the Thoughts of an Apparition. Their Sea Songs are full of them; they
firmly believe their Existence; and honest Jack Tar shall be more
frightened at a glimmering of the Moon upon the Tackling of the Ship, than
he would be if a Frenchman was to clap a Blunderbuss to his Head.

I was told a Story by an Officer in the Navy, which may not be foreign to
the Purpose.

About half a Dozen of the Sailors on board a Man of War, took it into their
Heads, that there was a Ghost in the Ship; and being asked by the Captain,
what Reason they had to apprehend any such Thing, they told him, that they
were sure there was a Ghost, for they smelt him. The Captain at first
laughed at them, and called them a Parcel of Lubbers, and advised them not
to entertain any such silly Notions as these, but mind their Work. It
passed on very well for a Day or two; but one Night, being in another
Ghost-smelling Humour, they all came to the Captain, and told him, that
they were quite certain, there was a Ghost, and he was somewhere behind the
Small-beer Barrels: The Captain, quite enraged at their Folly, was
determined, they should have something to be frightened at in earnest; and
so ordered the Boatswain's Mate to give them all a Dozen of Lashes, with a
Cat 'o nine Tails; by which means, the Ship was entirely cleared of Ghosts,
during the remainder of the Voyage. However, when the Barrels were removed,
some Time after, they found a dead Rat, or some such Thing, which was
concluded, by the rest of the Crew, to be the Ghost, which had been smelt a
little before. Thus we see, that the bravest Men of the Universe, may be
terrified, if they give way to their own chimerical Ideas; and that it is
only for want of searching into the Causes of the Phoenomena of Nature,
that People disturb themselves in this Manner, with such groundless and
unphilosophical Apprehensions. However, a great deal may be said in Favour
of Men, troubled with the Scurvy, the Concomitants of which Disorder, are
generally Faintings and the Hip, and Horrors without any Ground for them;
which leads me to say something upon an Error, relative to that Sea
Disorder, the Scurvy.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That Bleeding is proper for a Patient, who is apt to be sick in a

The first Person I heard remark this Error, was an old Physician, who,
though he had but little Practice, on Account of his travelling
Disposition, was nevertheless a Man of great Speculation. He had been three
Times over the Alps on Foot; and was in many Respects, a curious Man.

The Company did not seem to take much Notice of his Remark, because he
certainly was an Oddity; however, if we may believe the Accounts of those
Physicians who have lately wrote upon the Scurvy, the Old Gentleman was in
the right.

It seems, that among all the dreadful Symtoms, which accompany the Scurvy,
a fainting Sickness in a Morning, is the most certain Indication of it.
Many, upon Application for Relief, in that Case, have been treated as
Consumptive; when, upon a more strict Enquiry, they have been found to have
a violent Scurvy, and have been restored to Health by Mineral Waters. If
that is the Case, and fainting Sickness in a Morning, is a Sympton of the
Scurvy, Bleeding cannot be proper, as nothing is more likely to encrease
the Fainting, than Phlebotomy.

I met with an Author somewhere, who reasoned upon the Subject, in this
Manner. He alledged, that the Cause of Fainting in the Scurvy, was owing to
such a Relaxation in the Blood Vessels, that they had not Power to perform
their Operations; and by that Means, were unable to give their Contents,
that quick, spirited Motion, which is required, to keep them in the upper
Parts of the Body; and that, by the Blood being suffered to fall down to
the lower Parts of the Body, the Head, Heart, and other Vital Parts, were
left destitute of that Fluid, which is so necessary for the Preservation of
Life. This he proves, by the sudden Change which is caused in Patients,
afflicted with the Scurvy, on altering their Position. If, says he, you
cause a Patient to be raised up in his Hammock, though before he was in
very good Spirits (a Thing peculiar to the Sea Scurvy, even in the last
Stages of it, at Times) he will faint immediately; if you lay him in an
inclined Posture, he will recover again. And he gives this Reason for it,
viz. that the Blood settles downwards, in the same Manner, as Humours do in
a Dropsy, when the Patient is erect; and that it returns again, when he is
supine; and by that Means, it re-invigorates those Parts, which were
distressed by its Absence. If this is the Case, and the learned Doctor's
Position is true, to take away that little Blood, which is left behind, in
the upper Parts of the Body, on a Scorbutic Patient's getting into an erect
Posture, or rising in a Morning, is to deprive him of all the Nourishment
which his Vital Parts contain for their Preservation, and seems to be a
ready way to dispatch him.

It would be prudent therefore, in an Apothecary, before he lets his Patient
blood, when he is taken sick in a Morning, to examine him well all over, in
order to find out those Eruptions, which denote a Scorbutic Habit of Body.
For if he is ignorant of the Patient's Disorder, and lets him blood, though
he may survive this Operation, he will most likely have such a Fainting, as
to amount to a Fit next Morning; upon which, in his Fright and Hurry, he
will let him blood again, thinking it an Apoplexy.

I hope the Physical Gentlemen, will not take it amiss that I interfere thus
with their Profession; only, as I have known some Accidents happen in this
Case, by not regular-bred Practioners, I hope they will pardon the Liberty,
which is here taken.

If any Person should here object, that I have confounded the Land Scurvy
with the Sea Scurvy, without making any Distinction between the two
Disorders; I answer, that though they may be different in some Respects,
yet they are very near related; and moreover, that with Respect to the
Faintings in a Morning, they are the same, and the Faintings proceed from
the same Cause in both. Their Causes may be different, and yet their
Effects be very similar; or, 'till all the Causes of the Sea Scurvy are
clearly found out, it is not possible to say, that they do not both proceed
from the same Cause. For I suppose it will be allowed, that the Land Scurvy
generally proceeds from too high Living, from salt Diet, from too much
animal Food, from too little Exercise, &c. Now let us examine into the Sea
Scurvy. They are subject to these Inconveniences in a greater Degree at Sea
than they are at Land: In the first Place, in long Voyages they have
nothing but salt Provisions; then they have no Greens; all animal Diet,
except a little dried Biscuit; and then though it must be allowed, that in
a Gale of Wind they have Trouble enough to work the Ship, and by that Means
receive proper Exercise, yet at other Times, when they have fallen in with
the Trade Winds, they sometimes have no Employ for Months together; and (by
the bye) any one, who takes Notice of Voyages, will find that it is at
those Times, when the Scurvy does the most Mischief. It is then that the
Ship becomes almost a Prison. For when they go up aloft, the Air, by it's
Friction, braces their Nerves, clears away the bad Vapours, creates an
Appetite, and strengthens their Joints; but when a Ship is going before a
fine Gale of Wind, so steady as the Trade Winds are, the Men have no
Employ, and having no Occasion to go aloft, either loll upon Deck in the
Day-Time, or sleep in their Hammocks at Night.

We do not insist here, that there is no Difference between the Land and Sea
Scurvy, or that there are no other Reasons for the Sea Scurvy than are here
mentioned. We know that some other Causes are assigned, as the being so
long absent from Land, and thereby receiving none of those Vapours, which,
coming out of the Earth, may be necessary for the Preservation of a Land
Animal, &c. and these Causes likewise may correspond with the former, here

We shall now beg Leave to offer a little Scheme, for hindering the Progress
of the Sea Scurvy, which however we do not insist upon, having no great
Opinion of any Proposition, which we start new of our own.

What I would propose is, some Help or Relief to a Ship, when she is on a
long Voyage, and sailing before a Trade Wind, and finds the Scurvy begin to
attack her. In order to which, it will be necessary to say something
concerning the Nature of that Element called the Air.

Air is an elastic Fluid, as has been observed before, and is subject to an
easy Motion of it's Parts amongst themselves, as all Fluids are. It is
subject to Currents and Eddies, in the same Manner as Water. A Current of
Air is commonly known by the Name of Wind; and the greater Quantity of this
Air or Wind, an Animal who has Organs for the Reception of it, and who
cannot live without it a Moment; the more free Passage (I say) a Current of
Air has, by such an Animal, in Health and Motion, the more wholesome it is
for him. Now, I will endeavour to prove, that a Ship under Sail, before a
Trade Wind, has but little Change of Situation in this Current,
notwithstanding her Motion is so swift, with regard to her Change of Place
upon the Surface of the Earth.

We will endeavour to explain our Meaning, by a Cork swimming down a current
of Water.

If any one throws a Cork into a Stream of Water, he will find that the Cork
will be attended, during its Progress down the Stream, by the same
Particles of the Fluid, which it happened to fall upon, when it first set
off; notwithstanding, it changes its Position, with regard to the Surface
of the Earth. This is the Case with a Ship, sailing before the Wind; she
receives nothing near the Quantity of Air, upon her Sides and between her
Decks, in a full Wind, that she does when the Wind is upon her Beam, or on
one Side of her; which may be demonstrated by a second Experiment upon the
Cork in the Water.

If any one takes a Cork and ties a long Thread to it, and throws it into a
Stream, he will find, that the Cork, when he draws it sideways along the
Stream, changes its Place in the Water every Inch he draws it. This is so
plain, that there is no Occasion to say any more about it; and we humbly
apprehend, that the Case would be the same, with regard to a Ship which is
sailing before the Wind, or going down a Current of Air. We do alledge,
that the fresh Air running between the Decks of a Ship, would sweeten and
clear away the bad Vapours and Filth from the Men in her, as much more in
the Position of a Side-Wind, as a Stream of Water would wash more Dirt off
a Cork, if it was drawn sideways along it by a Thread, than if it was
suffered to swim down by itself. For the Motion of a good Ship, when she
has all her Sails up in a moderate Gale before the Wind, is very near, if
not quite as swift as the Wind itself.

Therefore, what I would advance here is, that as the Sea Scurvy in long
Voyages proceeds as much from the Confinement of a Ship, as from any other
Cause, may it not be deemed reasonable, that any Scheme, which serves to
make a more free Current of Air through a Ship, may be a great Hindrance to
the Progress of the Scurvy?

The Scheme is only this plain and easy one, viz. that when a Ship is upon a
long Voyage, before a Trade Wind, the Captain once a Day should give
Orders, to lay her upon a Side-Wind, or a Quarters Wind, if he thinks it
more safe, for about a League or two, during which Tack, he may open the
Port-holes of her Windward Side; and after going a League or two in that
Manner, she might be tacked about and laid upon her other Side; and by
doing this, he would sweeten every Corner of the Ship, and at the same Time
exercise his Men. Now, though this Practice would retard him a little in
his Voyage, would it not be better to lose a little Time, and bring a
Ship's Crew Home in tolerable good Plight, than to have half of them dead,
before they get to the End of their Voyage? I am far from insisting, that
this Scheme would answer the End; all that I know is, that if I was Captain
of a Ship, I would try; and if it answered no End, it would but be leaving
it off afterwards. And I hope the Sea Gentlemen will not be angry at this
little Essay, as it is wrote for the Sake of their Health and

They know very well, that Wind travels much slower than is imagined by the
Generality of Landmen; which brings me to another Error, (viz.)


    _That nothing which moves upon the Surface of the Earth, is so swift as
    the Wind._

Though, in a Storm, Wind moves with a great Velocity, yet in a moderate
Gale, it is nothing near so swift as is generally apprehended.

The Ancients were so wrapped up in their Opinion of the Swiftness of Wind,
that they were sure to introduce it as a Simile, when they intended to
describe any Thing that was rapid in it's Motion.

Horace, for one, was so fond of it, that he has introduced it into his
elegant Ode, _Otium Divos_, &c.

  _Scandit æratas vitiosa Naves,_
  _Cura; nec Turmas Equitum relinquit_
  _Ocyor Cervis et agente Nymbos_
                  _Ocyor Euro._

However, one would think, that if he was determined to compare Wind to an
Idea or Sensation in the human Mind, he might have thought of one more
swift in it's Motions. For though the East Wind is a heavy Wind, and lays
very keen Hold of a Sail, as being cold, and therefore more condensed, and
moving with greater Moment, on Account of it's Weight; yet I am very much
mistaken if we have any East Winds, that travel near so fast as the
South-West Winds which we have in March; nay, so far is it from being
swift, that when it is set in, we may feel it blow against our Bodies, with
a more steady, slow Motion than any other; and it is reasonable to suppose,
that it ought to move slower according to the Rules of Philosophy: For the
Barometer shews, that the colder the Air is, the more it weighs; and a
heavy Body takes more Time in changing it's Place, by a Force or Cause,
than a light one.

However, we will not tax Horace with Impropriety, in so fine an Ode; as we
do not know, what the East Winds may be in Italy. They had not the German
Ocean to pass over, before they came to Horace, and may be warm, light, and
soft, in that Country.

But to return: There are many Things upon the Surface of the Earth,
(without being obliged to have Recourse to the extraordinary Velocity of
Light) which move faster than the Wind. We have no Occasion to go any
further than the Flight of a Pigeon, or a Swallow, even for a Storm; which
we may observe, by the Motion of light Bodies, such as Feathers and Straws,
which have no Power to resist it's Force, and must be hurried away with the
same Velocity as the Wind itself. We may easily try the Experiment, by
throwing Feathers from off a Church Steeple, or any high Place; and we
shall find, that though they will be hurried off at a great Rate, yet not
so swift as a Pigeon upon her full Stretch. Those who are at Sea have a
much better Opportunity of observing it's Motions than Landmen: Nothing is
more common, than to see that the Wind has chopped about, by it's Action
upon the Sails of a Ship at great Distance off; and it is a long Time
before it reaches the Sails of the Ship from whence it is first discovered;
and even when a Storm is seen coming at a Distance, they have Time enough
to reeve the Sails, and lie in a Posture to receive it. It would be very
easy at Land, to take an exact Measure of the Velocity of any Wind, by
watching it when it first comes. It might be done in this Manner, viz. by
taking the exact Distance of all the Churches in the Neighbourhood from
each other, and setting Flags upon the Steeples of those which stand easy
to be seen, and which are in different Directions; after which, a Person
might go up to the Top of one which stood in the middle of them, with a
Telescope, and as soon as he saw the Flags upon any of the Steeples at a
Distance move from the Directions which they stood in when he first
ascended the Steeple, he might be certain of a fresh Gale being come, and
that it had just then reached that Steeple. Upon seeing this, all that he
would have to do would be, to look at his Watch and by that Means he would
know how fast the Gale of Wind had travelled, by observing how many Miles
it had gone in such a Time. For by observing the Flag on the Steeple at a
Distance, he might know when it had reached that Place, and by the Flag
upon the Steeple where the Observer himself stood, he might see when it
reached him, and by his Watch he might know how long it had been coming.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That there is now, or ever was, such a Science as Astrology._

Reader, when thou dost peruse this Book, I would have thee sensible of the
intrinsic Value of Truth; one single Page of this inestimable Commodity, is
worth a Thousand Volumes of Lies. I do not intend to impose upon thee, and
lead thee astray, and laugh at thee afterwards; even as the Egyptian
Priests of old did deceive their Flock, and at the same Time did laugh at
them, for worshiping the monstrous Idols, which were the Compositions of
their own Craft. Thou wouldest hardly believe that these Idolaters were so
grossly imposed upon, as to be induced to worship Garlick and Onions; and
yet, we have Accounts, that if the Priests of those Times did fix their
Eyes upon a good Crop of those Vegetables, they could very easily rank them
amongst the Number of their Gods; and, by that Means, render them unlawful
to be handled by any one, except themselves. What might be their Intent, in
such a Case, we will not presume to determine, but leave it to thy own
superior Judgment.

Indeed, thou mayest think thyself happy, in being a Native of a Country,
where the exact Boundary is fixed to every one's Property; and where,
though when thou dost endeavour to defend thy Right, thou wilt find some
who are ready to go Halves with thee, yet, thou mayest in Time hinder thy
Adversary from enjoying what is thy Due.

And moreover, thou mayest think thyself very comfortable, that thou dost
breathe in so free an Air, where thou hast the refreshing Liberty of
hearkening to Reason, and of thinking as thou dost like best; for if thou
didst live in some Countries, thou wouldest find, that thou must either
think as others please to dictate to thee, or else keep thy Thoughts to
thyself; otherwise, it had been better for thee, if thou hadst never been
able to come at the Knowledge of Truth, and had been as ignorant as those
Idolatrous Egyptians before mentioned; who, while their Priests were
studying the real Science of Astronomy, kept the Laity in the dark, and
amused them with the false Science of Astrology; making them believe that
they could foretell all Things which should happen to them and their
Families, by their Knowledge of the Stars; and persuading them, that the
Stars had an Influence upon the Lives and Fortunes of Individuals;
introducing the Jargon of being born under particular Planets, and the
like. To all which their Impositions they gained the greater Credit, by
being able to calculate, and therefore to foretell the Eclipses of the Sun
and Moon; which Phenomena of Nature they used to explain so as to answer
their own sinister Views; construing the common Motions and Appearances of
the Heavenly Bodies, into Prodigies and Wonders; fortelling the Deaths of
those they hated, and taking the Opportunity of that Time of Consternation,
to dispatch them, in order to make their Words prove true. I tell thee,
Reader, thou art happy in being a Native of a Country where thou art not
deceived by the false Science of Astrology; and where any one who
understands it, whether Priest or Layman, will shew thee as much of the
real Science of Astronomy, as thou desirest to learn, for a Bottle or two
of Wine, with all his Heart; well knowing, that it will be a Means to give
thee a more sublime Notion of the Supreme Being: For the more thou dost
contemplate the vast Machinery of the Heavenly Bodies, and the exact Time
which they keep in their Revolutions, the more thou wilt be convinced of
the immense Contrivance of Him who laid the Foundation of the Heavens.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _Most Londoners are mistaken when they think that they have Wit enough
    to impose upon Countrymen._

This Error chiefly proceeds from the outward Appearance of Countrymen, when
they arrive at the Metropolis. They are struck with the Grandeur of the
Place, and on that Account keep their Heads up in the Air, as if they were
contemplating some Phoenomenon in the Heavens. Then their Cloaths, being
calculated for Strength and Wear, are spun thick, which gives them a stiff,
awkward Gait, and this is not a little augmented by the robust Labour which
they daily undergo, and the great Burthens, of different Sorts, which they
are continually obliged to bear, through the Course of their Farming
Business. This Aukwardness, joined to an Absence, which the Contemplation
of any Thing fine is sure to beget, makes high Diversion for the Londoners,
and they are apt to put many Tricks upon them, as Clowns, which the
Countrymen (being Strangers to the Place) easily fall into; upon which
Account, those Urban Mobility, are apt to tax them with Want of Quickness
of Apprehension.

But, O _Cives!_ let us first examine into the real State of the Case, and
make a little Allowance for Robin's Parallax, before we are too hard upon
his Abilities. I tell thee, your right Clown is the sharpest Fellow in the
World; and if thou hadst any Dealings with him in his own Way, thou
wouldest soon find him so, to thy Cost. If he came from _Yerkshire_, thou
wouldest have no Chance with him, And we humbly conceive, that it is upon
this Account that Countrymen have the Name of Clowns given them: For we
take the Original Meaning of a Clown to be, one who is a quick, bright,
witty Fellow, who puts on the Appearance of Folly, while his Head is at
Work to deceive you. Such as these were Shakespeare's Clowns, who knew the
Meaning of the Word too well to make Fools of them. These were the Fellows
that he has employed, when there was any Business to dispatch, which
required more than ordinary Address and Secresy in the Management of it,
and who were to make Diversion to crowned Heads by the Sprightliness of
their Wit. So that we apprehend the Word Clown, in it's original Meaning,
does not signify an aukward Lout, but a bright, quick Fellow, who does more
by his natural Parts, than by the Help of Education. From hence it was that
Countrymen came to be called Clowns. They were found, upon Examination, to
be much brighter and sharper than they appeared to be at first Sight.

We have a true Specimen of one of these Kind of Geniuses, in _The Journey
to London_, in the Character of John Moody; who, though he was bewildered
in the Hurry and Bustle of London, and broke his Coach, and lost his
Monkey, yet we find John has Sense enough to make just Observations upon
his Master's Conduct, as well as his Mistress's; and, no Doubt, had John
been a real Character, instead of a fictitious one, he would have wished in
his Heart, that he had had the Offender, who broke his Coach, before his
Master as a Justice of the Peace, at his own Quarter Sessions in the
Borough of Guzzledown; for if he had once got him there, whether the
Accident which befel the Carriage, was occasioned by his own aukward
driving on the wrong Side of the Street, or whether the Fellow did it on
Purpose, would have been all one in the Borough of Guzzledown. The Breaking
his Worship's Coach, would have been sufficient to have had him sent to

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That a Pointer, if he lifts up his Foot, when he comes upon Game, does
    it in order to shew his Master the Spot where the Birds lie._

This is so well known to be an Error, that no Person, who is a Sportsman,
need be informed of the Mistake, with any other Design, than by Way of
Ridicule. It truly deserves the Name of a Vulgar Error: However, we shall
put in a Word or two concerning the Nature of Pointers, and explain by what
Means they arrive at such Perfection, as to point at a Partridge for two
Hours together; as it will be necessary, in order to confute the Error.

There are different Kinds of Pointers, some are of Spanish Extraction, some
Portuguese, some French, and I have lately heard of a rough Breed from
Germany; in the West of England, and in Wales, they make them of English
Spaniels, but as that is done by meer Dint of Correction, we shall pass
them over in Silence; though they are esteemed excellent when they are well

What we shall endeavour to explain is, how it comes to pass, that a real
true bred Pointer, shall point or stand at his Game, for a short Time,
without having any Instructions given him at all by any Person.

I apprehend, that a Pointer, if he was in a State of Nature, wild in the
Woods and Fields, would procure his Sustenance in this Manner: He would
beat about, till he came upon the Scent of something which struck him
considerably, and seemed worth his Attention; after which he would, by the
Direction of the Scent, creep a little nearer, till he found himself quite
certain that he was very near some Game; upon which, such is the vast
Pleasure which this Animal receives from the Sensation of Smelling, his
Limbs are seized with a Sort of Convulsion, which causes him to make a full
Stop, for a short Time, not only in order to contemplate his agreeable
Situation, but likewise to consider, how he may best make such a sure Leap
as to seize on his Prey.

Reader, when thou art hungry, and art going about thy Business in Haste
thro' the City, did the savoury Effluvia which arises from roast Beef never
strike thy olfactory Nerves? Yes, no Doubt, thou hast been so agreeably
accosted; thou hast made a full Stop; thou hast been so captivated with the
Odour thereof, that thou hast begun to consider, even like a Pointer, how
to seize upon this thy Game. If thou hast ever had such an Accident, thou
mayest easily know the Situation of a Pointer, by consulting thy own
Breast. It will be objected, that a Pointer wild in the Woods, could not
support himself, at all Times of the Year, by catching Game. In answer to
which, I say, that it is the Cold which hinders the Game from breeding
continually. Now in Portugal, and those other warm Countries, of which
these Dogs are Natives, the Objection of Cold is removed, and for that
Reason there always will be, either young Partridges, or Young Pheasants,
or Leverets, &c. upon which a Pointer might live all the Year round, though
the old ones would prove too quick for him. It will be no Objection,
neither, to say, that a true bred Pointer will not break or tear his Game;
for that is owing to the Care which is taken, not to let him play with a
Bird too long, after it is shot, when he is first entered; for if once a
Dog has a Taste of the Blood, and gets a Habit of breaking his Game, it
will be almost impossible to cure him of it again.

It is the Nature of most Animals of Prey, to play with their Game before
they devour it. Every one must have observed how a Cat plays with a Mouse,
before she dispatches it: It is a Kind of a Suspension of the Pleasure,
which they promise themselves, in the devouring so delicious a Morsel. And
though Human Nature is apt to reflect upon the other Parts of the Creation
for Cruelty, he is not a bit better himself; for what Angler is not
sensible of the high Pleasure of having a Trout at his Line? which he
suffers to flounce and spring in the Water much longer than he has
Occasion, to which violent Pain and Fright of the Fish he gives the Name of
fine Sport. Not to mention hunting an Animal to Death by Inches, with
Hounds, when he might take a Gun, and dispatch it in a Second. The Truth
is, no Animal can be taxed with Cruelty, so long as he pursues the Dictates
of his Nature.

Since then it is the Nature of most Animals to play with their Game before
they dispatch it, we may conclude, that if a young Pointer does not devour
his Game when it is shot to him, it is only because we do not give him Time
enough, and that, like other Animals of Prey, it is not his Manner to do it

Having shewn that a Pointer is an Animal whose Prey is Game, we may
conclude, that a young Dog makes that sudden Stop when he comes upon Game,
for the same Reason that a Cat stops before she leaps upon a Sparrow; viz.
that he may dart the surer upon them when he does leap.

As to the Article of holding up his Foot, it entirely depends upon what
Position his Legs happen to be in, when his Nose first catches the full
Scent of the Birds; he stands in a convulsed Situation; and whatever
Posture a Leg is in, at the Time of his first being sure of the Scent, in
that Attitude he remains, whether his Leg happens to be lifted up or on the
Ground. So that if he does lift up his Leg, when he points at the Game, it
is not in order to shew his Master the Spot where they lie, as some have
imagined, but is entirely accidental.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That the Way to make Boys learn their Books, is to keep them in School
    all Day, and whip them._

Though the Examples which we have of the Behaviour of the Ancient Worthies
and Heroes, shew, that neither Bonds nor Imprisonment can abate the
Intrepidity of a Man of true Courage; Yet, to Mankind in general, and
especially to those who are but of tender Years, Imprisonment and Scourging
together, are most likely to blunt the Understanding, and take off the Edge
of the Genius. And indeed, the Mistake of imprisoning Boys in a School, for
whole Days together, is practised only in Country Schools, where the
Masters of them know no better. At Eaton and Westminster, that foolish
Custom has been abolished for some Time; at Eaton especially, they perfect
themselves in their Lessons out of School, and only come into School to
repeat them. And, not to mention, how greatly the fresh Air contributes
towards clearing the Head, as all Students must have observed; the very
Thoughts of Liberty, and the knowing that after they have done with their
Lessons, they can follow their Amusements, is enough to make them apply
with double Diligence to what they are about: It is a Kind of Fighting for
Liberty in that Case. Whereas, when a Boy is confined to School for a whole
Day together, he has no Encouragement to exert himself in the Cause of
Liberty; for when he has fought his Battle bravely, and gone through all
the Dangers of his Campaign, he is no nearer to his wished-for Mark,
Liberty, than the dullest Boy at the lower End of School. But this leads me
to another Error, (viz.)


    _That clogging their Parts with long Grammar Rules, will make them
    bright Scholars._

This Practice too begins to be left off in the great Schools. I remember,
when I was a Boy, though I was exceedingly well grounded, and had the whole
Scheme of the Grammar quite clear in my Head; yet they thought proper to
torment me a long Time, with Rules at the End of the Syntax.

There was licet, and there was decet, and tædet, and oportet, and nocet,
and Abundance more, Verbs Impersonal, that ought to be tied upon a String,
like the Roman-Catholic Beads, before they are given to Boys to get by
Heart, without any Connection between them. I was in Phædrus's Fables, and
should have known any of these independent Gentry, if I had met them singly
in any Country in Europe, without being tormented with them alltogether.

Such Methods as these, are apt to make a Boy apprehend, that the Intention
of Grammar is meerly to give Trouble, and perplex; without any View of
Advantage, which may hereafter arise from such an intense Application.

And indeed, whatever the Intent of them may be, a Lad of such a Persuasion,
would not be much mistaken, with regard to the Effect they have.

It must be a very different Kind of Genius, which can attain to the
Repetition of dull Grammar Rules, from one, who has Fire enough to digest
the Beauty of such Lines as these:

  _Consedere Duces, et Volgi stante Coronâ,_
  _Surgit ad hos Clypei Dominus septemplicis Ajax;_
  _Utque erat impatiens iræ, Sigeia torvo_
  _Littora respexit, Classemque in Littora Vultu_, &c.
                                Ovid Metam.

By letting him taste a little of the Kernel, without keeping him too long
in the disagreeable Part of getting off the Outside of the Walnut, he would
make a much quicker Progress; as he would find, that the Trouble he had
underwent would be rewarded with such Pleasure, as nothing but the Idea of
Business, or Force, which accompanies it, could render tiresome. It will be
objected here, that nothing can be done without these Grammar Rules, and
that however disagreeable they may be, they are what must be gone through,
in order to make good Scholars. To which I answer, First, that common
Grammar not only may be, but is, contracted into a much less Compass than
is generally made use of. Nay, I will go farther: A certain Clergyman,
whose Name it is needless to mention here, was determined to try if he
could not teach a Boy Latin and Greek, without any Grammar at all; and he
chose to try the Experiment first upon his own Son, who seems to be about
twelve Years of Age. The Boy can now construe any Latin or Greek, that is
tolerably easy, very readily. And I make no Doubt, but as the World grows
wiser, they will reduce Grammar into a shorter Compass still than ever has
been done yet. The Grounds of Musick, are to the full as dry as the Rules
of Latin Grammar; and it was formerly a great Work to teach Youth the Rules
of Composition; Nevertheless, they have lately found out a much shorter Way
of going to Work, and every one now begins to have a little Smattering of
Composition; which they attain to by reading those little Pamphlets, which
have been wrote lately upon that Subject.

I heard a Gentleman say, that he learned more of Composition, by reading a
little short Thing of Pasquali's, than he could acquire by having a Master,
who taught by the old Method, in a couple of Years: It is the very same in
Grammar, and indeed, it is the same in all Sciences. There is an easy Way
of doing every Thing, if we could but find it out; and if any Thing appears
difficult, it is, because we are in a wrong Method.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That teaching Boys Bawdy Books, will make them religious Men and good

Though most of the greatest Geniusses among the Ancients, have touched upon
that String; and though, reading the Works of the great Poets, who have
wrote in that Style, does ripen the Genius, and teach Lads an elegant
Expression, as well as set them forward in the Languages; yet, I cannot
come into the Opinion, that Youth, especially those who are intended for
the Church, should be suffered to read the Composition of such a Master of
Intrigue, as Ovid; or some of the Odes of such a Libertine, as Horace.

An English Reader will understand my Meaning, when I tell him, that some of
the common School-books, which Boys learn at the Age of Sixteen, are more
lewd than any Thing in Rochester's Poems.

For though this Lord was pretty plain in his Expressions, and his
Composition is quite _Spiritoso_, yet his Works may rather be said to
instruct a Person in the Science of Wickedness, than to stir him up to it.

The Case is very different with regard to such a Writer as Ovid. He had the
great Advantage of calling in the Religion of the Times to his Assistance,
when he had a mind to be more wicked than ordinary: He could make the most
lewd and profligate Scenes appear sacred Mysteries, by giving them the
pious Title of the Rites of Venus. Then there is a Softness through all his
Works, which attacks the Heart with a seeming harmless Familiarity, and
differs very much from the Air of Rochester; whose Strokes may be compared
to the smutty ones which Hogarth has given us, in some of his Paintings;
while those of Ovid have the alluring Attitude of a Venus de Medicis.

Pardon, Reader, if I transgress a little, by owning, that I have seen such
a Book as Rochester's Poems long ago; and you will the more easily excuse
me, when I tell you, that I was taught such a Book as Ovid at School. What
has been said about these Books, is intended to shew the Impropriety of
using such Authors in a School: And a Clergyman need not be ashamed of
owning, that he has read even an Atheistical Book: For how should any
Person be able to confute an Author, unless he first peruses his Work, in
order to know the Fallacy of the Arguments, which are made use of in it?
After that, he may fairly endeavour to say something against it, but not

What I would here urge is, that Boys might have many entertaining, useful
Books put into their Hands, which may be very elegant, and yet very
innocent; without stirring up their Passions to a higher Pitch, than Nature
has intended, by letting them into the History of the Amours which were
carried on among the ancient Romans, who were, if possible, more lascivious
than the modern; as Rome was at that Time of a larger Extent, and more
wealthy, and consequently more able to carry on the Schemes of Vice, than
at present.

When Ovid wrote, the Romans might be said to be at the Height of their
Luxury, in which they were not a little improved by their Eastern
Expeditions. And tho' Ovid's Epistles, which are more usually taught at
School, than his other Works, are modest enough in themselves, and would be
proper enough for grown up People to read, being nothing but a polite
Correspondence between Lovers of Distinction; yet there is something so
tender in the Style of them, that they are apt to give Youth a Turn for
Love Affairs, rather sooner than they would have, if Nature was left to

For tho' the Soil of England is fertile, and it may be called a fine,
flourishing Country; yet, the Weather we have here is rough most Part of
the Year, and in many Parts of it, the Air is chill, and unwholesome; and
on that Account, nothing but the hardy Diversions, which are generally
followed by Youth, such as Hunting, and the like, can ever keep them in
Health. Excess of Venery would agree much better with any Constitution, in
the soft Atmospere of Italy, than amongst the rough Blasts of Old England;
so that if we give way so their Vices, we shall soon find that our
Constitutions will not endure any such Excess of Pleasure, as the Italians
are able to sustain more easily on Account of the Mildness of their
Climate, and the Frame of their Constitutions. Not that I would be thought
to justify Lewdness and Debauchery in Italy, any more than in England. I
only endeavour to shew the double Impropriety of suffering English Youth,
to be acquainted with the Vices of the Italians.

I am for having an Edition of Horace printed, which shall contain only such
of his Odes as do not touch upon the Affair of Love. It is in vain to say
that Boys need only be taught the modest Part of his Works; for if they are
taught only the modest Odes by their Masters, they will be sure to read the
bawdy ones by themselves.

But if I was to offer ever so many just Reasons, for the Confirmation of
what has been here said, I am afraid it would be exceeding difficult to
persuade any one to leave a Track, which they have long been used to.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That the present Age is a duller Age, and less ingenious, than those
    which are past._

This Error is owing to those Harangues, which the old People entertain
their Posterity with, over the Fire in the Winter, about what was done in
their Time, and what clever Fellows they themselves were in their Youth,
and how much the Age declines, &c. In short, an old Man, as Horace
describes him, is _Laudator Temporis acti se Puero_. But we must beg Leave
to tell these venerable Declaimers, that however they may be wrapped up in
the Greatness of their own Exploits, England never could boast a brighter
Age, nor perhaps so bright a one, as she can at present; and we challenge
any one who contradicts it, to tell us, if the Ancients were greater
Geniusses than the Moderns, in what Art or Science it was, that they did so
greatly outstrip us. Perhaps such a Person might begin first, and say, that
they excelled us greatly in Carving and Painting. With regard to these I
acquiesce, and do acknowledge, that the Art of Carving is not in such
Perfection as in former Ages, because it is not practised, and is not the
present fashionable Ornament of Houses; and we do likewise acknowledge,
that the Art of Painting on Glass is very near lost, and is not likely to
be revived whilst the Window-tax continues.

We agree, I say, that the Arts of Carving, and Painting upon Glass, are
almost extinct; and allowing that former Ages excelled the present in
Painting in general, yet, What are these few Polite Arts? They are quite
insignificant, when compared to the vast Improvements, which have been made
in many other really useful Branches: In Agriculture, in Navigation, in
War, in gaining Settlements in foreign Countries, in Trading to those
Settlements, in Printing, in carrying on Correspondence by Posts, in Roads,
in Carriages, in the Breed of Horses, in Manufactures, and in numberless
other Articles, too tedious to mention.

It must be acknowledged, that for all these Improvements, we are obliged to
the Arts and Sciences. They are as it were the first moving Force of Power
in any Country; and if we take a Survey of all the Nations of the Earth, we
shall find, that those Monarchs, who encourage Learning, and support
Academies, are able to extend their Dominions farther than those, who, by a
total Attention to Military Discipline, (though even that too depends upon
the Sciences) neglect the Cultivation of that Learning, upon the Support of
which, the Extension of their Dominions to foreign Parts depends. It is to
the Invention of Astronomers, Mechanics, and Opticians, that we owe the
principal Instruments, which are made Use of in Navigation; to their
Ingenuity we owe the Quadrant, without which we should never know our
Latitude; to these we are indebted for the Telescope, by which we discover
Jupiter's Satellites, and find out our Longitude; to these we owe the
Explanation of the Compass; to these the Contrivances of Pullies, by which
we hale up our Tackling. In short, all the Inventions, which we find in the
different Machines made Use of, either by Land or Water, though by long Use
they are become familiar in the Hands of illiterate Persons, were no doubt
originally contrived by the Study and Ingenuity of Men of Science at Home.
And if Nature should shew her dislike to a Stagnation, and express her
wonted Approbation of a Vicissitude in Human Affairs; who knows, but when
the Sciences are forgot in this Kingdom, and we, by that Means, lose the
Art of exerting that Force, which must keep up the Dignity of England over
her Colonies; who knows (which Heaven avert!) but America may see herself
the Mistress of the World, and the Seat of Empire, whilst we are reduced
once more to the State of unletter'd Savages; and shall in vain discharge
our feeble Arrows, and cast our ill-directed Javelins, against the Sides of
their perhaps Five Hundred Gun Ships of War: Or the great Mogul, with his
prodigious Armies, for Want of these Arts and Sciences abovementioned, and
for no other Reason, may one Day or other find himself dethroned by a
Prince, who will be able to reach him, though his Dominions do lie on the
other Side of an unfathomable Sea.

And if these Vicissitudes should in Process of Time happen, they will be no
other than what have been before. What is become of Palmyra? Where is Troy?
The stately Palaces of Troy are removed into the peaceful Habitation of the
once Arcadian Shepherds. And if the Disposer of all Things should so order
it, Daphnis and Menalcas, may again sing their rural Songs on the very
Spot, where now the Seraglio of the Grand Signior seems to bid Defiance to
a whole Continent.

Though there is a large Scope for Dissertation, on the various Improvements
of different Kinds, which have been made in almost all Branches, both of
Science and Commerce, it cannot be expected, (even supposing the Author
capable of such a Task) that they should all be brought into a Work of this
Nature, as we have already enlarged more upon this Subject, than was at
first intended. However, as it is a disputed Point, whether the Science of
Music is improved or not, we shall beg Leave to say a little upon that
Subject. And as Music is a Science, which, though it is not equal to some
others in Utility, falls short of none, for the innocent Entertainment
which it affords to those, who are so happy as to be formed by Nature, with
Organs for the Enjoyment of it; we will venture to make it the Subject of
the next Chapter. And we think it is an Error to affirm,


    _That the Musical Composition of this present Age is inferior to that
    of the last._

Though we are very sensible that we shall have a Multitude of Mouths open
against us, for being so hardy as to assert what will be the Contents of
this Chapter, and shall be exclaimed against by many, who never yet came to
the Knowledge of any other Music than Corelli's Sonatas, which must indeed
be allowed to be almost the Foundation of Music; and though all those
Performers who live in the Country, and either through Business at Home, or
other Reasons, have not had the Opportunity of hearing the best modern
Music performed in Town, and having tried some of the worst of it over by
themselves, upon their Instruments, and finding the Execution of it too
difficult for their Performance, on Account of their being unacquainted
with the modern Manner of bowing and fingering, together with a total
Mistake of the Air and Manner, in which the Composition set before them
ought to be played: All these Obstacles put together, I say, are apt to
induce such, as are not very ready at Sight, and labour under the aforesaid
Inconveniences, to pronounce all Modern Music, of what Kind soever, (taking
it all in the Lump, as one would do Soap or Tallow) to be exceeding bad and
foolish, and therefore not worth a Gentleman's Attention.

Now begging Pardon first, for the ill Manners of Contradiction, I shall
take the liberty to offer a few reasonable Arguments, to shew, that tho'
there has lately been a great deal of very bad Music performed, yet there
has likewise been published a great Variety of exceeding fine Composition.

Without mentioning the Names of the Composers, or the Names of their Music,
we shall endeavour to give some substantial Reasons, why the present
Composition, should excel that of those, who wrote in those Times when
Masters were but newly become acquainted with the Laws of Harmony.

The Case is the same in Music as it is in all other Matters; we find that
all Arts have the greater Improvements made in them, the longer they have
been introduced into any Country, and the more they are followed. This is
natural; because the more Hands a Science has to go through, the greater
Chance it has to meet with Men of Ingenuity in its Progress, who may
forward it towards Perfection. What a sorry Appearance would an ancient
Galley make against one of our First-rate Men of War, either in Sailing or
Fighting? Or if it had been possible for Julius Cæsar, with all his Romans,
when they invaded Britain, to have met with a Forty Gun Ship, they would
have been all sunk by a few Broad Sides. This is a Truth that every one
will acknowledge; and it is as true, that the present Musicians do very
much excel those who lived some Time ago.

Masters of Music, by Practice, have lately found out a better, easier, and
stronger Way of Performing upon their several Instruments, than was
formerly known; and to this new and better Method of Performance they have
composed suitable Music, which admits of greater Execution, greater Variety
of Expression, and a better Tone, than could be brought out of Instruments
before such Improvements were made. And we find that Geminiani, who was a
close Follower of Corelli, has thought proper to make Concertos of what
Corelli intended for Solos; well knowing, that though the Ground of them
was exceeding fine, yet they were very capable of being improved by adding
Parts to them, and adorning them with what might be called, at that Time,
modern Embellishments and Graces.

And if one of so small Judgment as myself, may say any Thing about the
Composition of so great a Genius as Geminiani, I will venture to think,
that we have Masters now living, who are capable of taking some of the
ancient Stiffness of Style from that great Composer, and giving him a more
easy, free, and flowing Air; without taking from the Greatness of the
Subject, or varying from the Groundwork of the Harmony, in the least.

For the Intent of Music is not to puzzle People's Heads, by consisting of
intricate Harmony, and stiff Mathematical Transitions from one Key to
another; by that Means, it would become the most dry and insipid of all
Sciences, and fit for none but Pedants. No, the sole Intent of Music is to
give Pleasure, which it is more likely to do, by the Freedom and Ease of
its Transitions, and the Softness of its flowing Numbers, than by a stiff,
starched, and over formal Composition.

The present Musicians excel the ancient ones, as much as the modern Ladies
do those of former Times in Dress; and their Compositions differ as much
from those which were played some Time ago, as the elegant Ease of a modern
Lady's Shape, excels the stiff Stays and monstrous Hoop Petticoats of those
who had the Honour to be the Grand-mothers of the present Age; and which
are apt to give us the Idea of an Engagement of a different Nature from one
where Cupid is supposed to preside: It rather puts us in Mind of something
Martial, and makes us almost ready to apprehend we are going to exchange
Hardiment, as Shakespeare calls it, instead of railing our Expectations
into a Duel of another Nature.

Having now shewn our utter Aversion to Stays, we will return to our
Subject. And we hope the Reader will pardon the Digression, as this is not
the first Time that a Pair of Stays have made a Man turn out of his Road.

But there is another Reason why the modern Music should excel the ancient;
and that is, the Difference in the Make and and Length of the Bow with
which a Violin is struck. Violins are the Sinews of a Concert; they are, as
it were, the main Body of a Band of Music; they are the Roman Legions of
the Army; while the other Instruments are Slingers, Archers, and
Light-horse. Now in the Time of Corelli, who must be allowed to be the
Father of Harmony, the Bows were not above half so long as they are at
present, neither were they so well shaped, either at the Heel or Point, nor
had they the Spring which the Bows now made have. So that a Piece of Music
which is calculated for the modern Manner of Bowing, could not have gone
off so well in former Times: They had not the Power of swelling a Note out,
in Imitation of the Human Voice, which may be done with a modern Bow; and
the old Bows were so aukwardly made, that they could not be held at the
End, but were obliged to be kept in a Kind of Ballance towards the Middle;
and we may guess what spudding Work it must be, when there were not above a
Couple of Inches in a Bow which could be conveniently used. However, these
little short Bows suited very well for even Semiquavers and Quavers, of
which we find the old Music chiefly to consist. So that we by no Means call
in Question the Abilities of the Composers who lived at that Time; since it
appears, that they composed their Music suitable to the Instruments which
they had to perform it upon. No; we have a due Reverence for the Memory of
those very great Geniusses; and are fully persuaded, that if it was
possible for them to live again, with the Advantages which the Moderns
enjoy the Benefit of, they would excel not only what they have done
themselves, but likewise what any one else has done.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That the Hearing of Musical Performances, is apt to soften Men too
    much, and by that Means, to give them an effeminate Manner._

Whether this Error proceeds from the Idea of that Facility with which Music
is able to stir up a Variety of Passions in the Heart, annexed to the Idea
of that Disposition which appears to be stronger in Women than in Man, and
is called the Weakness of the Sex; or whether it proceeds from a Notion
that Pity and Sorrow, and the like, are Passions which are not worthy the
Breast of a Man, and are only fit for the timorous Constitution of Women,
it favours equally of Absurdity and Barbarity in both Cases.

For so far is Pity from denoting any Cowardice or Effeminacy, that it is a
certain Indication of a great Soul; we find it frequently mentioned among
the most conspicuous Virtues, with which the Heroes among the Ancients were
said to be endued. And with regard to the Passions, which are raised by
Music in the Heart it depends upon the Nicety of the Feelings in the Nerves
of the Hearer; and we cannot help observing, that Men of the greatest
Sensibility are generally Persons of the strictest Honour and the most
exalted Courage.

As for those who are so unfortunate as not to be formed by Nature for the
Reception of harmonious Sounds, we do not entirely give them up: But we
refer the Reader to a Passage, which he will find in the Merchant of
Venice, and which, tho' the Observation may hold good in some Cases, yet,
we must beg to be excused inserting the Words here, as we think the Remark
is rather too severe and too general, and was introduced by the Poet
chiefly with an Intent to set his malicious Jew off in the most odious
Light, who had been declaring, that he detested the vile Squeaking of the
Wry-neck'd Fife, and ordered his [1]Windows to be shut up, that the Sound
of them might not be heard in his House. And if the old Poet is a little
severe in this Place, he does it principally with an Intention to divest
the Audience of any Compassion, which might otherwise be stirred up in
their Minds by the Misfortunes which will attend Shylock in the following
Scenes; and by that Means the Plot turns out according to the Wish of the
Spectators. This is one of those Preparations of the ensuing Scene for
which Shakespeare is so notorious, and which may be observed in all his
Plays. But to return to our Subject; it seems that those People who have
Organs for the Reception of Musical Sounds, are affected with such Passions
as the Composer of good Music intends to excite in them. And we believe
that the Constitution of a Hearer may be moulded and formed into various
Shapes by the different Airs which he hears; and moreover, if a Person was
always to be accustomed to soft, effeminate Music, we agree that it might
render his Constitution effeminate likewise; but as there are such great
Variety of different Movements, which are adapted to different Songs, all
which raise different Passions in the Mind, it is very absurd to tax all
Music in the Lump with Softness and Effeminacy.

Any one may perceive the Difference of these two Songs, both of which have
their Effect when they are well sung.

  _Gently touch the warbling Lyre,_
  _Cloe seems inclin'd to rest;_
  _Fill her Soul with fond Desire,_
  _Softest Notes will please her best._

These Words, which are sung to an Air of Geminiani's, cause a very
different Sensation, from these which follow, and are set to a suitable

  _Come cheer up my Lads, 'tis to Glory we steer &c._

Whatever the first Song may do, this last is not likely to make any Body
effeminate. I mention these two common Songs, because they are what every
Reader is capable of digesting, and on that Account are more proper for the
Purpose than any of those Songs out of Operas, which are not generally

But we beg Leave here to make a necessary Distinction between two Ideas,
which are sometimes confounded together, and which is apt to lead People
into this Error as much as any Thing.

It would be very proper in us, before we prejudice ourselves against any
Art or Science, to be quite clear in the Objections which we raise against
it; we should be certain that they are just, and founded upon good Grounds.
Some People are apt to confound the Idea of raising the softer Passions,
which have their Residence in our Nature, with the Idea of Effeminacy,
which, as I said before, are quite distinct. We have an Instance of the
Passion of Pity in the well known Picture of Bellisarius. The Hero, who
stands in the dejected Attitude, appears to be very much softened by the
Misfortunes and Distress to which he sees Bellisarius reduced; and yet no
one will say that he is an effeminate Fellow for it; on the contrary, it
will be allowed that he shews a Greatness of Soul; he is struck with a
contemplative Sorrow at the Misfortunes of a General, whose invincible
Courage and great Worth he himself had been Witness of. And Bravery in
Distress is not only the Subject of Painting, but it is the constant Theme
of Music: The Operas and Oratorios are full of it, and though the
Misfortunes of the Heroes which are the Subject of them do soften, yet it
is not such a Kind of Softness as to beget any Effeminacy, but of a
contrary Nature, and is such a Sensation as an ordinary Hearer will
perceive at the Beginning of this common Song, which is well enough in its

  _How little do the Landmen know,_
  _What we poor Sailors feel,_
  _When Seas do roar, and Winds do blow;_
  _But we have Hearts of Steel._

If we are to be moved by such a Song as this, what shall we feel at some of
the masterly Strokes of Handel in his Oratorio of Samson.

  _Total Eclipse, no Sun, no Moon,_
  _All dark, amidst the Blaze of Noon._

One would think, by the resigned Solemnity of this following Movement,

  _Bring the Laurel, bring the Bays_, &c.

that he had been reading Milton's Paradise Lost as well as the Samson
Agonistes. This seems to be the very Music of the fallen Angels, where he
says, they made Use of soft Airs, which inspired true Heroic Bravery, and
which he prefers to the noisy, as it was the Cause of a lasting, fixed, and
reserved Courage. Milton says, that as soon as the Colours were displayed,
they marched to the Sound of Flutes and soft Recorders:

                     "_Anon they move_
  _In perfect Phalanx, to the Dorian Mood_
  _Of Flutes and soft Recorders; such as rais'd_
  _To Height of noblest Temper Heroes old_
  _Arming to battle, and instead of Rage_
  _Deliberate Valour breath'd firm and unmov'd_
  _With Dread of Death to Flight and foul Retreat._"

In short, the March in Rinaldo might possibly make Soldiers seize hold of
their Arms and March, but it must be such an Air as that in the Overture of
Berenice which makes them face an Enemy.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That the Italian Operas consist of effeminate Musick._

Though it must be acknowledged that the Language of Italy is smooth and
flowing, and therefore very much adapted to musical Sounds, and though
those Songs which are picked out of Operas, and sung by Ladies at Home, are
generally the Love Songs in the Opera, being such as best suit the Tastes
and Geniussses of such amiable Performers; yet, it is equally an Error to
say that Operas are effeminate, or that all the Songs in them are Love
Songs. No one will say that Quilici with his Bass Voice, in the Character
of Athridates, acted an effeminate Part; he was one of the principal
Characters, and acted the Part of a Tyrant, to which the Music was
excellently adapted, which was greatly set off by his deep Voice and the
proper Carriage of his Person: So when Mattei orders her General to be
disarmed, the Majesty of a Queen is admirably supported. Operas are like
other Performances of Entertainment; they consist of the sublime, the
cruel, the tender, the distressed, the amorous; in short, they must have
Variety of Scenes and Incidents in order to make them please the Audience,
and are like other Dramatic Pieces, not to be taxed with any particular
Style or Mode of Acting, but consist of such Scenes, Plots, Music, and
Decorations, as are most likely to give Entertainment to an Audience.

We by no Means defend the Impropriety of a Squeaking Hero, and think that
it is a Pity it cannot be altered; however, that Imperfection is generally
palliated, by Propriety of Action, treading the Stage well; Greatness of
Performance, and many other Excellencies, which those who are much used to
hear musical Entertainments will easily discern.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That nothing is Poetry but what is wrote in Rhyme._

This may truly be called a vulgar Error, because it is a Mistake of which
none but the Vulgar are guilty of. Though there is a Kind of harmonious
Jingle in Rhyme, which makes the Composition have an agreeable Sound, yet
it is looked upon by all Judges to be the lowest Kind of Poetry. And though
Pope, and other great Writers, have succeeded to Admiration in the
Improvement of it, yet it is in Reality nothing but the barbarous Remains
of the wild Taste of our Ancestors; not to mention how it cramps the Genius
of a Writer, after he has hit upon a favourite Thought, to be forced to
look out for a Rhyme, which must, in Spite of every Thing that can be said
in Favour of it, be exceeding laborious.

And notwithstanding Poets endeavour to hide this Labour and Pains they have
been at, and affect to have set down their first Thoughts, yet, as Horace
observes, the foul Copy of a good Writer will always have a great Number of
Blots and Alterations in it: This is true of all Poetical Composition; but
a Poem which is wrote in Rhyme, must, according to the Nature of the Thing,
be more laboured than one that is not. And even Prior himself, whose Works
are allowed to be all Ease and Elegance, is said to have taken more Pains
with his Composition, than any other Writer of Eminence. That very Ease and
Elegance, which we perceive in the best Poets, is the Result of great Pains
and Study, and is no other than a judicious Choice of Words and Phrases,
till they have found some that will suit. And however a Poetical Author may
boast of writing his first Thoughts, we cannot possibly have any Testimony
of it but his own.

Besides, when we have done all, Verses wrote in Rhyme are nothing near so
musical as those which are without it. Where shall we find Verses, among
even the best of our English Poets who wrote in Rhyme, which are equal in
Smoothness and Harmony to these two Lines in Theocritus?

  [Greek: Adion, ô poiman, to teon melos, ê to kataches]
  [Greek: Tên apo tas petras kataleixetai hupsothen hudôr.]
                                _Id. 1._

Or these of Ovid, which, though they are far from being the most smooth in
the Book, are however more harmonious than any we can produce now.

  _Sic ubi Fata vocant udis abjectis in Herbis,_
  _Ad vada Mæandri, concinit albus Olor._

Though the first of these Verses makes a Whistling like the Reeds in a
River, the last runs so glib, that it is ready to slip from under one
before one would have it.

We acknowledge that the Latin Language is a great Help to the Running of a
Verse, and if the Reader insists upon that to be the only pre-eminence
which Latin Verses have over English, he is very welcome to think as he
likes best. Moreover, if he is so fond of Rhyme, we can inform him of a
Book which is wrote, in Latin Rhyme, and is very much at his Service: The
Title of the Book is Drunken Barnaby; which, as it is wrote in a dead
Language, will most likely remain an everlasting Burlesque upon the
Barbarity of Rhyme.

But we may venture to go a little farther. It is not necessary for a Work
to be wrote in Verse at all to entitle it to the Name of Poetry. Any Work
of a fictitious Nature, and which is calculated meerly for Entertainment,
has as just a Claim to be stiled Poetical Composition, as one that is wrote
in the strictest and most confined Metre; Poetry taking its Name from the
Matter of which it is composed, and not from the Length or Sound of its
Words; and we may observe, that such Poetry as consists of those Numbers
which are least confined in their Metre, is generally the most spirited and
sublime. We have an Instance of this in the Writings of Pindar, a Poet of
whose Abilities, Horace gives an Account in his Ode,

  _Pindarum quisquis_, &c.

And indeed we have no Occasion to go any farther for Examples of excellent
Poetry wrote in Prose, than some of the Plays in our own Language; Ben
Johnson, Congreve, and many more who wrote in Prose, are nevertheless
ranked among the Poets.

Reader, when thou seest any Thing in this Book which thou didst know
before, it is hoped thou wilt be so candid as to consider, that although
thou art sensible of the Errors of other People, yet they themselves may
not be sensible of them: Yes, even thou, O! profound Philosopher! mayest
have some mistaken Notions of thy own; for what mortal Man can pretend to
such Knowledge as never to be mistaken? And we ourselves, while we are
endeavouring to rectify the Errors of others in this Book, are as likely to
be mistaken as any Body.

However, there is one Reason why a Work of this Nature is likely to give
some Entertainment; it treats of such Variety of Subjects, that there is
Matter for Argumentation in every Page. And it may be observed too perhaps,
that it treats of more Subjects than the Author himself seems too
understand; which we do very readily acknowledge: And if a Professor in any
of the different Branches which are here treated of, who is better versed
in the Nature of the Subject than the Author, thinks proper to rectify any
Mistake which may be here made, and does it in a liberal Way, we shall not
take it amiss, but perhaps may endeavour to answer him, if we should still
differ from him in our Opinion.

On the other Hand, we shall be under no great Apprehensions from the
Criticisms of such Readers who have not good Nature enough to be
entertained with the Matter of a Book, and only read for the Pleasure of
Pointing out the Faults in Public; of which Sort we are very sorry to say
that we know too many. These are such Kind of Geniusses as read more out of
Parade than with a Design to be entertained; and _may_ read.[2]----They
seldom acquire any Knowledge, having generally bad Memories and confused
Heads, devouring every Thing, but digesting Nothing. I tell thee, a Man of
true Parts, and sound Memory, will acquire more by reading one Hour, than
such Whippersnappers as these are able to attain to by lumbering over a

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That kicking up the Heel behind, and twisting round upon one Leg, is
    fine Scating._

There are two Methods of Scating, one is made Use of for the Sake of
Expedition and Conveyance from Place to Place, and is practised by the
Boors or Peasants in Holland; the other is calculated entirely for
Amusement, and answers the End of _Shining_ upon the Ice, and therefore is
suited for Gentlemen near Towns upon Canals, and broad Pieces of Water. The
first of these Methods is performed by throwing the Body into such an erect
Posture inclining a little upon the Outside of the Scate, and drawing in
the Hip gradually, as will describe small Curve upon the Ice; this Practice
of Scating eases the Inside of the Thigh, and rests it in such a Manner as
to allow it Time to regain Strength for the next Stroke, and therefore is
very useful in long Journies; or else as to the Article of Swiftness, a
straight Line will carry a Person on faster than a Curve, because while he
is describing a Curve he has more Ground to run over.

The other Method of Scating, which is known in England by the Name of
Rolling, is done upon the same Principle as the former, only as you have no
Occasion for Expedition, you have an Opportunity of dweling longer upon
your Strokes, and your Time; by which Means, instead of describing a small
Curve, you describe a large one.

It will be necessary to explain the Cause of this Motion, before we can
make the Reader sensible of what we intend to say.

All Bodies that are put into Motion upon the Surface of the Earth, are
acted upon by two Forces; namely, a Projectile Force and a Centripetal
Force. The Projectile Force is that which is given it by the Hand or
Strength of any Person, and the Centripetal Force is that which causes all
Bodies to seek the Center of the Earth. For Instance, when a Stone is cast
into the Air to any Distance, the Reason why it does not move on to
Eternity without stopping (as it ought to do by the Principles of
Mechanics) is, because the Centripetal Force keeps continually acting upon
it, till it has pulled it down to the Ground again: This serves to explain
what is meant by a Centripetal Force.

Now, when a Person scates, he is acted upon by these two Forces, as other
Bodies in Motion are. It is the Projectile Force which throws him upon the
Outside of the Scate, till he has got quite out of the Center of Gravity,
by which Means he would be pulled to the Ground by the Centripetal Force,
if he was not supported by the Projectile Force, which is strong enough to
make Head against the Centripetal for a little while (in the same Manner as
it is able to keep a Stone in the Air till it is spent) and by that Time
the Person scating has recovered himself into an erect Posture. This
Projectile Force is given by a Stroke of the Foot, inclined to the Plain of
the Ice; by which Means, the _whole_ Edge of the Scate takes hold, and is
your moving Force; and the more of the Edge of the Scate a Person uses in
his Stroke, the easier he will go to himself, and the greater Velocity he
will move with: For if he dwells more upon the Heel of the Scate than the
Toe, or vice versâ, he not only loses Part of his moving Force, by losing
Part of the Edge of his Scate, which is absolutely the moving Force, but he
likewise encreases his Friction, which ought to be destroyed as much as
possible; and at the same Time loses that Symmetry of Gesture, upon which
the Gracefulness of his Attitude depends.

When a Person scates properly, he keeps the Foot that he strikes with in
such a Posture upon the Ice, as to make the whole Scate take hold of it
sideways, without destroying his progressive Motion; and instead of kicking
up his Heel behind, just when he takes Leave of the Ice, with the Foot
which has been striking, he gives his Toe a Turn outwards, which not only
gives him a genteel Air, being according to the Rules of Dancing, but
likewise sends him with twice the Force upon the Outside, as it adds to
that Projectile Force which is to make Head against the Centripetal, and to
keep him upon his Legs after he has got out of the Center of Gravity; and
which uncommon Phoenomenon gives that Surprize and Pleasure to a Beholder,
which he perceives at the Sight of a fine Scater.

I mention this, because I have met with those who have obstinately
persisted in it, that some Persons who kick up their Heels behind, and
strike only with the Toe of their Scate, because they can go a Snail's
Gallop upon the Outside, are fine Scaters; when they are making Use of a
Method which is repugnant to the very Principles of Mechanics.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That using hard Words and long Sentences, in Discourse or in Writing,
    is an Indication of Scholarship._

It must be allowed, that good Language is a very great Embellishment,
either to a Person's Conversation, or his Writing; but as it is intended
only to set off what we have to say to the best Advantage, we should
endeavour to use it with such Moderation, as will answer that End, and no
more; otherwise, we shall make ourselves appear very ridiculous in the Eyes
of Men of Learning and Knowledge.

Good Language, in the Mouth of a Fine Gentleman, resembles the Elegance of
his Dress; it becomes equally ridiculous when ill-judged, or over done: For
as there is no Doubt but good Cloaths set off the Person to a great
Advantage, when they are made with Judgement, and worn with a becoming
Carriage, so an elegant Choice of Words and Sentences are a great Ornament
to Conversation. But on the other Hand, a Suit of Cloaths, though made of
the finest Materials and covered with Lace, will make but an aukward
Appearance if it is ill-made, and worn by one who has not the Carriage of a
Gentleman. So it is with Language. Fine Words, in the Mouths of the
Ignorant, are as unbecoming as Gold Lace upon the Back of a Porter.--And
not only the Ignorant are guilty of this Error, but even those who do know
the Meaning of the Words they use, are apt, by affecting an elegant
Diction, to run themselves into Obscurity; and while they are attending to
their Language, and studying hard Words, neglect the Matter of their
Discourse; to explain which is the sole End of Speaking. The Use of Words
being only to convey our Ideas to each other.

There is a Shew-board over a Watchmaker's Shop at Oxford, which may serve
for a Burlesque upon the Folly of using hard Words: I cannot charge my
Memory with all the Jargon wrote upon that Board; however, I remember that
it was a long Account of what the Man in the Shop sold, and what he did;
and among other Things it said that _Horologies_ were _mundified_ there;
which Expression we think is enough to make any Man sick of the Languages,
and abjure every Thing that belongs to Literature for the future.

I have met People in the Street, whose profound Ignorance I have been well
assured of, who have immediately stunned me upon the first entering into
Discourse with half a Dozen hard Words: And it is not long since, a young
Gentleman came to the Coffee-house, and ordered the Waiter, when he sent
Coffee and Tea to his Chambers, to let him have an _additional_ Muffin: The
Man stared at him, and told him, that he did not know how to do one in that
Manner, but he could carbonade him one if he pleased.

A Lady would think it extraordinary language, upon a Gentleman's desiring
to carry on an Intrigue with her, if he was to ask her, whether she would
have an additional Husband, or not? However, as this is a prodigious fine
Word, and as fine Words are always made use of in addressing the Ladies, we
are of Opinion that it would be proper to adapt this as an Improvement in
the Language of Lovers.

Almost all Professions are stuffed so full of Terms of Art, that to
understand the Meaning of all the Words which are made use in any one of
them, is long enough for a Science of itself. The only End they answer, is
to puzzle those who are not of the same Profession. Not long ago, a young
Man in the Country, who had weak Eyes, applied to a Surgeon for Relief in
his Disorder. The Surgeon, upon examining his Patient, told him, that he
would send him some Drops which would _refrigerate_ his Eye.

The young Man came Home again, not very well satisfied, being not certain
what he might have to undergo by this Refrigeration, having never heard the
Word before. Surely he might with as much Propriety have been told, that
what was in the Bottle would put him to no Pain, but was only intended to
cool his Eyes.

It is incredible to think how cleverly some People, who have not had the
Advantages of Education, will manage about Half a Dozen of these Words when
they have got them. I have known some, who, for the Space of four or five
Minutes, would deceive a Stranger, and induce him to think that he had met
with a Person of great Learning. And however odd this may appear, we think
we ourselves can manage the few hard Words which have been mentioned here,
in such a Manner as to make an extraordinary Sentence of them: For
Instance, supposing a Person had no other fine Words but these in his
Catalogue, and had an Occasion for them in addressing a Lady; we are of
Opinion, that he might shine by ranging them all in this Order.

Madam, I presume your _Horologie_ will never go right unless it is
_mundified_ by an _additional_ Lover; therefore, let me have the Honour to
_refrigerate_ your Eye.

A Swain of a more happy Invention, might make a much finer Speech out of
these Words; but as we have done our utmost in the Attempt, we shall take
Leave of the Subject; having shewn, to a Demonstration, the singular
Advantage of making Use of fine Words.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That the Way to get a Sailing Boat off the Shore, when she is fast by
    any Accident, is to let go both or all the Sails, and stand at her
    Head, and push with a Sprit._

This Error, though it may seem ridiculous to those who have been brought up
at Sea, and understand Sailing, is nevertheless very common in Inland
Rivers, where Sailing is but little understood. You may very frequently see
fresh-water Sailors, as soon as they find that their Boat has struck,
immediately let both their Main-sail and Fore-sail fly, after which they
all run to the Head of the Boat with Sprits, and begin to endeavour to push
her off; which Method is contrary to the Rules of Mechanics, and therefore
of Sailing.

A Boat or Vessel of any Size (a 90 Gun Ship moving upon the same Principle
as the smallest Cutter,) is acted upon by the Powers which are the Cause of
her Motion as she swims in the Water, in the same Manner as a Lever of the
first Kind, whose Center or Prop is between the Power and the Weight. To
explain this, let us suppose a Boat, instead of Swimming in the Water, to
be upon dry Land, and to have her Mast run quite through her, and fastened
into the Ground, upon which she might be turned at Pleasure, as upon an
Axle-Tree: In this Case, as her Mast is rather nearer her Head than her
Stern, it would be more easy to turn her Head round by laying hold of her
Stern, because there would be a Mechanical Advantage, by the greater Length
from the Stern to the Mast, than from the Head to the Mast. And in whatever
Direction the Stern of the Vessel is turned, her Head must move the
contrary Way, and vice versâ. Now, the same will happen to a Vessel in the
Water; if you push her Head in one Direction, her Stern will move in the
other, and vice versâ. So that a Vessel under Sail with a Side-wind, may be
called a Lever of the first Kind, both whose Extremities are kept in a
Ballance by the Sails and Rudder; Forces which keep continually acting upon
her. The Rudder may be considered as a Kind of Moderator, which is to
interpose when the Sails which are before the Mast, or those which are
behind the Mast, or abaft, overpower each other, and destroy that Ballance
which a Vessel rightly trimmed very near preserves of herself. It must be
observed, that the Sails before the Mast of a Vessel, and those behind it,
act in contrary Directions. Those which are before the Mast turn her Head
from the Wind, and those which are behind it turn her Head towards the

By this Time, we see the Impropriety of letting both the Main-sail and
Fore-sail of a Vessel go, when she strikes upon Ground, and then running to
her Head in order to push her off: For first, concerning the Article of
going to her Head to push her off, if she is a small Vessel, the Weight of
two or three People at her Head will press that Part, which generally
happens to be the Part upon the Shore, still closer down; which is a Thing
so well known to every Waterman, that we shall say no more about that. Now,
as to letting both the Sails go, they might with as much Propriety both be
set, for as they act in contrary Directions, they destroy each other's
Force, if the Vessel is well trimmed; so that a Vessel will come off the
Ground no sooner for letting both the Sails go. The Method that I should
take in a Case of that Kind, would be to set the Main-sail and let the
Fore-sail fly, and if that would not do alone, to assist the Main-sail by
pushing at the Windward-side of her Stern with a Sprit, both which Forces
acting together, namely the Main-sail and the Sprit, would in all
Probability put her Head about so as to bring it beyond the Point from
which the Wind blows, which Point after I had got her past, I would set the
Fore-sail to the other Tack, and let the Main-sail go; and by that Means,
the Fore-sail would put her Head almost round; then the Main-sail might be
set, and after Sailing back so far as to get quite clear of the Place where
the Vessel stuck fast before, she might be tacked about again, and pursue
her intended Voyage.

I don't presume to say, that this is the very best Method of getting a
Vessel off the Shore; as those who have been used to the Sea may have a
more ready Method still: But I do say, that it is a Method which is
consonant to the Principles of Mechanics, for which Reason, it may very
safely be put in Execution, either at Sea or in fresh Water.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That planting Aquatics upon Banks in the Fenns, will preserve and
    strengthen them, so as to render them more able to resist the Force of
    a Flood._

What will be asserted in this Chapter is not the Result of Surmise, but is
what I have been an Eye Witness of. Be it known then unto all those, who
think proper to do this Book so much Honour as to give it a Perusal, that
the Author is a Fenman: Why should he be ashamed of his Native Country? A
Country, where they have Inverted the following Lines of Horace:

  _Omne cum Proteus pecus egit altos_
                      _Visere Montes:_
  _Piscium & summâ genus hæsit Ulmo,_
  _Nota quæ sedes fuerat columbis,_
  _Et superjecto pavidæ natarunt_
                      _Æquore Dammæ._

For here, instead of those Places which were the Habitations of Doves,
being visited by Fish, just the contrary has happened. By the Ingenuity of
these People, barren Sands, over which Ships used to ride at Anchor, are
changed into pleasant Meadows and rich Inclosures.

Having now shewn how much of a Fenman we are, it will be proper to return
to the Subject.

There can be no Doubt, but that every Attempt which is made to promote the
Improvement of Agriculture, is highly commendable; and on the other Hand,
it is the Duty of every one, to endeavour to rectify such of those Attempts
as he knows, as well from his own Experience, as from the Conversation of
skilful Engineers, to be erroneous: And we are sorry to say, we are very
clear that the Scheme of planting Aquatics upon Banks in the Fenns,
notwithstanding what has been affirmed about it, is so far from being
likely to strengthen such Banks, that it is a certain Way to destroy them.

In order to make some of our Readers, who live in the high Country,
sensible of the Truth of what will be here asserted, it will be necessary
to explain the Nature of Fenn-Draining, which shall be done in as few Words
as possible.

Water is a Fluid, as has been before observed; and it is the Nature of a
Fluid to be always endeavouring to restore an Equilibrium in it's Parts,
which we may observe by it's restless Motion after the Surface of it is
made uneven. It is in order to restore this Equilibrium, that Water rushes
down with such Rapidity, from the high Country into the Fenns; where, when
it has got, the Surface of the whole Country being even, and in general no
higher than the Bottom of the adjacent Seas, it remains quiet;
Fenn-Draining, therefore, must be a Work of Art.--Now let us examine into
the Principles of this Art.

The first Thing to be done is, to scour out the Bottoms of the Rivers,
which run through them, from Sand and Filth, and by that Means to make a
good Outfall; then to make Banks of Earth on the Sides of those Rivers, to
prevent, as much as possible, the Water which comes down in a Flood from
overflowing the Country, as well as to retain such Water as shall be thrown
into the Rivers by Engines. It will be needless here to describe the
Machinery of a Water Engine; it will be sufficient to say, that Drains are
cut which lead from these Engines to the Rivers, which Drains are banked
likewise, and that these Engines, by the Help of the Wind, have a Power of
Drawing the Water from the Lands which are drowned, into these Drains, till
they are quite full, and till the Water has got to a Level which is higher
than the Bottom of the adjacent Sea; and by the Principles of Hydrostatics
is forced to run into the Sea to restore the Equilibrium: It is by the
Strength of the Banks, the Force of the Engines, and the Goodness of the
Outfall, that a Fenn must be drained. Now, I affirm that planting Aquatics
upon Banks in the Fenn will not strengthen them, but destroy them.

All Vermin in a Fenn are fond of a Bank; it is high Ground, and therefore
dry and comfortable for them in the Winter, for which Reason they are
always full of Moles, and particular Kinds of Rats and Mice, with long
Noses, call'd Field Mice and Rats, and abundance more Animals, which breed
incessantly; and make Holes and Burrows through the Banks in all
Directions. One Kind of these Rats builds his House so commodious, that it
is worth while to relate the Ingenuity of this little Free Mason: He begins
by making a Hole in the Top of the Bank, and after a Labyrinth of many
Windings and Turnings, he finishes all, by making another towards the
Bottom of the Bank close to the Water's Edge; by that Means he extends his
Territories from the Top of the Bank to the Bottom, and has a Supply of
fresh Water, without being seen by the Enemy, who is continually upon the
Watch for him. Owls, Buzzards, Kites, Ravens, Carrion Crows, and other
Birds of Prey in the Fenn, always frequent the Banks in the Evening, and if
the Grass is kept low by Cattle, they will destroy most of the Vermin upon

But then we must not plant Trees upon them, as they will be the finest
Cover imaginable for those Rats; Trees will not only hide them from the
Sight of the Birds of Prey, but will likewise hinder those Birds from
darting down upon them when they have got a Sight of them.

I remember, near eighteen Years ago, several Sorts of Aquatics were planted
upon the Banks in the Fenns near Thorney-Abbey; the Consequence was, the
Roots of the Trees served for Timber for the Houses of these Vermin, and
the Branches were a Shelter from the Birds of Prey, by which Means they
were full of Holes, thro' which the Water used to run back again to the
Lands as fast as the Engines threw it out; for which Reason the Trees were
ordered to be grubbed up, by the principal Engineer.

There is nothing which strengthens a Bank like a good Covering of Grass,
close eat by Cattle; for if once Water penetrates through the outside Coat
of a Bank, it is not in the Power of Aquatics to hinder it from tearing the
Earth away with it. If Aquatics are planted any where, they ought to be at
some Distance _before_ the Bank, in order to keep the Lash of Water from
wearing it away.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That those who lived Two Thousand Years ago, were larger than the
    present Race of Mankind._

We are obliged to the Poets for this Patagonian System. Their Fictions of
Titan and Briareus, and the whole Fraternity of Giants, is a Fable which
conveys a Moral: The Giants, upon attempting to scale the Walls of Heaven
by heaping Mountains one upon another, are repelled by Jupiter's Thunder,
made Prisoners, and bound under those Mountains upon which they made the
Attempt. The Moral of the Fable is only this, that it is impossible for any
Force to oppose the Omnipotent. Not to dispute whether the Ancients were of
Opinion, that at the Creation of the World all the Animals were of a
gigantic Size, or what might be their Sentiments about that Matter; it is
certain that there has been an Opinion among Men, in all Ages, that the
Time in which they themselves lived, produced Men of less Stature than
those who lived some Time before them. This is a Persuasion which the Poets
all encouraged, as it suited their Purpose; nothing being so great an
Enchantment, to the Mind of a poetical Reader, as to be struck with the

When Virgil makes Turnus throw a large Stone at Æneas, he tells us, that it
was such a Stone as twelve Men of his degenerate Age could scarce have
carried upon their Shoulders.

  _Nec plura effatus, saxum circumspicit ingens:_
  _Saxum antiquum ingens, campo quod forte jacebat,_
  _Limes agro positus litem ut discerneret arvis._
  _Vix illud lecti bis sex cervice subirent,_
  _Qualia nunc hominum producit corpora tellus._

A Person who reads this Passage, and really believes that Men were larger
in Æneas' Time than in Virgil's, reasons thus with himself: "The Works of
Nature degenerate: Those who lived in Æneas's Time, were larger than those
who lived in Virgil's; and those who lived in the Time of Virgil, were
larger than those who live now."

With regard to those who lived in Æneas's Time, we cannot indeed have any
positive Proof to the contrary; but it is not impossible to prove, that the
generality of those Romans who lived in Virgil's Time, were not so tall as
the present Inhabitants of Great Britain are at this Day.

The English in general are a tall People; we are obliged to a Mixture of
Saxons and Danes for our Stature. A curious Observer may discover a great
deal of the Dane in many of the English, not only from their Names, but
likewise from their Features and Complexions. Those People who have
straight Hair between a white and a red, and have fine Skins, but withall a
fierce Countenance, seem to be of Danish Extraction. It is not difficult,
neither, to trace the Saxon in many of our Nation; such as are tall and
lusty, and of a peaceable and quiet Demeanor till they are provoked, and
with nothing very brisk in their Countenances, seem to have had Saxon
Ancestors. Not to dwell long upon this, as it is certain that England has
been over-run by the Danes and Saxons (whom it would be prudent not to
speak ill of, lest we should abuse some of our own Relations) we will
return to our Subject.

There is no Cause to apprehend that the Works of Nature degenerate in the
least, as it is a Supposition which is repugnant to all the Observations
which may be made upon the Generation of Animals. Any one who has bred
Horses, Dogs, or Poultry, must have observed, that instead of degenerating,
they always improve upon his Hands, unless he opposes Nature, which seems
to struggle hard against a Stagnation, by confining the Breed too long in
the same Family.

We have two Reasons, then, to suppose that the present Inhabitants of Great
Britain are larger in Stature than the old Romans were, viz. because they
are the Posterity of a taller People, and because the Breed is so much

But we beg Leave to offer a Reason why it may be apprehended that the
Ancients were not larger in Stature than the Moderns, which seems to carry
along with it something which has very much the Air of a Proof.

Whoever observes the Size of the Remains of those People who lived in the
Time of the old Romans, or before that Time, will find, that they are no
larger in their Dimensions than the Remains of those who died fifty Years
ago. I have seen Abundance of Stone Coffins, which, as they are found in a
Place which has all the manifest Signs of having been a Roman Camp, both in
respect of it's advantageous Situation, the Name of the present Town, which
is Caster, the Roman Coin which is constantly found there, the Urns in
which the Coin is found, the Inscriptions cut in Cedar in the Coffins, the
Stones of a Bridge, which may be felt with a Sprit, at the Bottom of the
River, at the Back of an Enclosure, which is called the Castle Ground to
this Day; all these are Indications of a Roman Camp, and may be seen near
the great North Road between Stilton and Stamford; where the Curious, by a
proper Application, may have a Pocket full of Roman Coin for a Shilling.
Indeed, whether these Stone Coffins, which are found in this Camp,
contained the Bodies of Romans, no one can positively determine, especially
as the Romans generally burnt their Dead, if they had a convenient
Opportunity: However, as they are found in a Roman Camp, upon the same Spot
where the Coin is found, it is enough to make one think that they are Roman
Coffins, and that the Romans did sometimes bury their Dead; nevertheless,
we leave that to the Determination of the Curious.--Of whatever Nation
their Contents were, the Marks of great Antiquity are strong upon them; and
we can assure the Reader, that none of them were ever troubled with Remains
of a Patagonian.

But these are not the only Reliques by which we may form our Judgments;
numberless Libraries and Repositories in this Kingdom afford us Instances
of the Size of the Ancients: We have several Egyptian Mummies which seem to
be of very ancient Standing, and must have contained the Bodies of Men of
less Stature than the present English.

Upon the whole, then, we have just Cause to conclude, that in all Ages of
the World, the Egyptians and Romans were in general of the same Size with
the present Inhabitants of those Countries.

It must nevertheless be allowed, that Luxury and Debauchery, which are the
Concomitants of Wealth, do very much tend to decrease the Stature of the
Inhabitants of those Cities which have long continued in that State. To
which we may apply this Philosophical Maxim, _When any Thing is so small as
to be of no Consequence to the Point in Hand, it is considered as Nothing_.
Those Cities which have acquired so much Wealth as to be able to commit
such Excesses, are inconsiderable when compared to the Inhabitants of the
whole Earth, therefore they are to be considered as nothing.

Besides, so great is the Caprice of Fortune, that even the most powerful
State in the Universe, cannot presume to declare how soon a Period may be
put to its Grandeur. But having said something upon this Subject before, we
shall proceed to another Error.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That Bleeding in May will preserve the Constitution against Illness
    during the ensuing Summer._

This Hereditary Whim has long been practised in many genteel Families in

Without consulting any of the Faculty, whose Blood is too thick, or whose
too thin, who have got too much Blood in their Veins, or who too little,
they send for some Six-penny Bleeder, who performs this Operation upon the
whole Family every Year, on May-day in the Morning.

Not to examine into the Causes of Mortality in May, leaving that Task to
those who are able to assign them, it will be sufficient to remark, that
the weekly Bills generally contain more Deaths in May than in any Month
throughout the whole Year.

We are sure to have a Fortnight of unwholesome agueish Weather in May; and
one would think, that the common Proverbs which are made use of in the
Country to that purpose, would be sufficient to deter a Person from losing
any Blood at that Season of the Year.

It is not impossible, but the Preposessions which we have in Favour of the
Charms of this Month, may proceed from a Perusal of the Latin Poets, or
their Translators; whose Works are full of the various Beauties of the
Spring. And very possibly, in Italy, where these Poets lived, that Part of
the Spring may be pleasant and wholesome.

In England, we are all of us very sensible of the cold and wet Weather,
which generally happens in this Month. And for my own Part, I must confess,
that I think May not only the most dangerous, but likewise, upon the whole,
the most disagreeable Part of the Year; and am quite certain, that if I was
to be let Blood on May-day, I should have the Ague.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That Negroes are not a Part of the Human Species._

This is a Creolian Error, imbibed partly by the Prejudice of Education, and
partly by the compleat Slavery which these poor Wretches are so unfortunate
as to undergo. The passive Appearance of these unhappy People at their
Work, which sometimes resembles that of a Horse in a Mill, gives Master
Tommy Sugar-Cane an Idea, which is the Cause of an Opinion, that a Negroe
is Part of the Brute Creation, and therefore ought to be thrashed.

But indeed, Master Tommy, if I had the Care of thy Education, I would teach
thee a more reasonable Way of Thinking.

Young Gentleman, you ought to consider that the Works of Nature are neither
better nor worse either for your Approbation or Disapprobation of them.
That Black is as good a Colour as White in itself; and that the Effect
which particular Rays of Light have upon your Eye, is by no Means to
determine the Beauty or Proportion of any Part of the Creation: And though
your faithful Negroe does appear rude and uncultivated, that is owing to
his Want of Education. Let him have Instructions in Music, you will find
that his Genius is greater than your own; teach him to fence, his Activity
and Stratagem will surprize you. In short, instruct him in any Science, and
he will discover a Capacity.

Therefore, if you have read Mr. Locke, (and if you have not, I would advise
you to fit out one of your Ships and make a Voyage in Quest of him) Mr.
Locke will tell you, that _it is the Understanding that sets Man above the
rest of sensible Beings, and gives him all the Advantage and Dominion which
he has over them_. And in another Place the same Author will tell you, that
it is a wrong Connection of Ideas which is the great Cause of Errors: These
are his Words, _This wrong Connection in our Minds of Ideas, in themselves
loose and independent one of another, has such an Influence, and is of so
great Force to set us awry in our Actions, as well moral as natural
Passions, Reasonings, and Notions themselves; that perhaps there is not any
one Thing that deserves more to be looked after_. This is the very Case
with Master Tommy Sugar-Cane; a wrong Connection of Ideas have lead him
into this Error, concerning his poor Negroe; he has connected the Ideas of
Horse, Slave, and Negroe, so strongly together in his Mind, that it is not
in his Power to separate them again. And I am credibly informed by those
who understand it, that there is as much Pleasure in whipping a Negroe, as
in driving a Phæton and Pair.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That Negroes are the Descendants of Cain, and that the Colour of their
    Skins is that Mark which was set upon Cain after killing Abel._

This is a very pretty ingenious Thought of some one, who was doubtless in
love with his own Complexion. I have heard it affirmed by some with such
Warmth, that it seemed in vain to reason with them about it.

Before we can have any Grounds for such an Affirmation, it will be
necessary to prove that it is a Disgrace to have a dark Complexion; for, if
it is no Disgrace to have a dark Complexion, then there can be no Badge or
Mark of Infamy in being black; if it is a Disgrace to have a dark
Complexion, then the Way of Reasoning must be this: The Irish and Scotch
having fine Skins, are better than the English; the English and French,
than the Italians and Spaniards; the Italians and Spaniards, than the
Algerines; and so on, till we come to the Line. To me, this seems so
absurd, that I must beg Leave to quit the Subject, till some one has
convinced me, that a white Horse is better than a black one.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That Love is nothing but Concupiscence to a high Degree, or that Love
    and Lust are the same Thing._

Love is a Passion, which, though we read of it in the Classics, is but
seldom experienced in these Northern Climates.

I never met with a North-countryman who would allow that there is any
Difference between Love and Lust, and even in the Southern Parts of the
Kingdom it is but slightly felt; what little we have of it in England,
serves only to make Diversion for the Girls, one among another, and does
not often produce any Thing of bad Consequence. But in Southern Climes the
Effects of it are violent, as well as much more frequent. The desperate
Actions which our Tragedies are full of, will appear more natural, if we
consider what Country we are in during the Time of the Play.

In England, we should esteem a Person, who killed himself for the Love of
one of inferior Birth and Fortune, but a very silly Fellow; whereas in
Spain or in Italy, to fall upon a Sword for a beautiful Woman, is looked
upon as a certain Indication of a great Soul, and as a Proof that the Heart
of the Enamoured was possessed of a Sentiment unknown to the Minds of the
Vulgar. Not to dwell upon the many Instances, which have happened both
among the Ancients and Moderns, of People who have died for Love, I shall
just make a little Enquiry into the Nature of that Disorder, for so it may
be called, since it sometimes proves fatal.

That Affection which is called Love, seems to be a Fever, not only in the
Mind, but an actual Fever, attended with the Symptoms of that Disorder; and
differs from all others in this Particular, it is what no Physic can cure.
The Symptoms of it are much like those of that Distemper, which the
East-Indians sometimes die of, when they pine for their native Country.

If this is the Case, Love is so far from being another Term for Lust, that
it rather opposes that Desire, which is generally the Concomitant of

The Heart is capable of a Wound from this little mischievous Urchin, before
Maturity arrives; for the Truth of which I appeal to every one who has
Sensibility enough, to be capable of receiving the Impression of Love,
whether he never found himself electrified by a fine Lady, when he was
about the Age of thirteen.

To conclude: If I hear a Person very positive that Love and Lust are the
same Thing, I take it for granted, that his Nerves are so coarse and
callous, that nothing less than the Stroke of a Blacksmith's Hammer can
possibly have any Effect upon him.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That the Hedge-Hog is a mischievous Animal; and particularly, that he
    sucks Cows, when they are asleep in the Night, and causes their Teats
    to be sore._

The Antipathy which People have taken against this Animal, is chiefly owing
to his Form. He is ugly and clumsy, and, not being able to run away, like
most other Animals, is forced to have Recourse to his natural Armour,
which, though it is merely defensive, is apt to disgust those, who cannot
satisfy their Curiosity about him; as there is nothing to be seen but a
round Ball of sharp-pointed Bristles, till he is put into Water, and then
he is forced to open himself and swim.

By the bye, some Naturalists have affirmed, that he is like the Porcupine;
but that, we can assure the Reader, is a Mistake. A Porcupine is as large
as ten Hedge-Hogs; besides, there is not the least Resemblance in the Form
of the Animals, or in their Manner of Defence. The Hedge-Hog, upon being
discovered, lies quite still, and depends upon the Impenetrability of his
Armour for Safety; whereas the Porcupine is tolerably swift, and is not
able to conceal himself under his Quills, as they do not cover above half
his Back. When he is pursued he makes a full Stop, and has the Power of
drawing up the whole Body of his Quills, so as to dart them all together
into any one who attacks him; and in all Probability he will leave one or
two in your Legs, if you go too near him, and make him angry, which is very
soon done. I once saw a Stick put to a Porcupine, and he broke two or three
of his Quills against the Stick, though they are very hard and tough. Some
say, that the Quills of a Porcupine are of a poisonous Nature. But, begging
Pardon for this Digression about the Porcupine, we will return to the Error
which was mentioned, concerning the Hedge-Hog.

It may be observed in the Works of Nature, that all Animals, of whatsoever
Kind they are, whether they come under the Denomination of Birds,
Quadrupeds, Reptiles, or Fishes, are provided with such Organs and Weapons
as are convenient for the procuring of their Sustenance, as well as such as
are formed for their Self-Defence.

The Lion _roaring after his Prey_, has Weapons proper for the vanquishing
and devouring that Prey.

The Bull, whose principal Food is Grass, is provided with Armour round his
Tongue and Nostrils, which is Proof against the Thistles and venomous
Insects that make a Part of his coarse Diet.

The Monkey is possessed of Hands for selecting the eatable Parts of his
Nuts and Fruit from the poisonous Rind.

The Hawk is furnished with long Wings for pursuing, keen Eyes for
discerning, and sharp Talons for taking the granivorous Birds, which are
his Prey; whilst they are provided with Beaks of a proper Shape for picking
up the Corn, as well as Gizzards, or strong Muscles, which, by the Help of
Gravel Stones, that are contained in them, grind the separate Grains of
Corn, as they are discharged from the Crop, out of which they proceed

The numberless Instances of this Kind which might be brought, are too
tedious to mention here; it will be sufficient to remark, that there is no
such Monster to be found in the Creation, as an Animal with Weapons and
Implements improper for the Acquisition of that Food which is to be the
Support of its Life, or unfurnished with such a Means of Defence, as is
most suitable to its Self-preservation.

The Hedge-Hog is a peculiar Instance of this: As he is rather slow of Foot,
if he should happen to be surprized in his Travels, he can gather himself
up into a Coat of Mail, which answers two Ends; as it is a _Deceptio
Visus_, looking like a Clot covered with dried Grass; and as it consists of
sharp Spikes upon a thick Skin, which serve both for a Sword and Target,
either to secure him against the Tread of a Horse, or the Assaults of Dogs
and Hawks. Then as his Habitation is in Hedges, he has a Mouth formed for
the Reception of Hips, Haws, and Sloes, which are his Food; and which,
doubtless, he hoards up in some little Repository, known only to himself.
His Nose is formed to search for Roots near the Surface of the Earth, which
must not be very large, otherwise he would be unable to manage them, as his
Mouth is remarkably small, and does not seem capable of containing any
Thing larger than a small Pea; for which Reason we may suppose it not only
improbable and unnatural, that the Hedge-Hog should attempt to suck the
Teats of a Cow, when she is asleep, as it does not seem formed by Nature
for such an Operation; but we will endeavour to prove from Hydrostatics,
that it would be impossible for him to acquire any Milk at all by such a

It is certainly true, that the Reason why a Vessel contains Water, or any
other Fluid, within it's Sides, and hinders it from dispersing, is, because
the Pressure of the Air at the Top of the Vessel keeps it down; and it is
as true, that when the Vessel is turned up side down, the Liquor in it will
still be kept in, by the same Pressure of the Air, notwithstanding the
Force of Gravity, provided the Surface of the Water is not disturbed in
turning the Vessel; which may be easily proved by the Experiment of a
Drinking-Glass and a Piece of Paper. It is upon this Principle, that the
Milk in the Dug of an Animal, is kept in it's proper Place, and does not
fall to the Ground; though it must be acknowledged, that there may be some
other Causes assigned likewise.

Now if a Vessel of Water is put into an Air Pump, as soon as the Air is
extracted from the Receiver, in which the Vessel stands, the Water
immediately ascends up out of the Vessel, and overflows the Brim, the Air,
which was the Cause of it's being kept down, being removed.

This is the Case with an Animal which gives Suck. The Teat is close
embraced round by the Mouth of the young one, so that no Air can pass
between: A Vacuum is made, or the Air is exhausted from it's Throat, by a
Power in the Lungs; nevertheless, the Pressure of the Air remains still
upon the Outside of the Dug of the Mother, and by these two Causes
together, the Milk is forced into the Mouth of the young one.

But a Hedge-Hog has no such Mouth, as to be able to contain the Teat of a
Cow; therefore any Vacuum, which is caused in it's own Throat, cannot be
communicated to the Milk in the Dug. And if he is able to procure no other
Food, but what he can get by sucking Cows in the Night, there is likely to
be a Vacuum in his Stomach too.

It may be objected here, that former Legislators have thought proper to
allow a Reward to be given for killing this Animal, on Account of the
Mischief he has been supposed to do. To which I answer, that former
Legislators have thought proper to burn old Women, for being Witches, if
they would not sink when they were put into a Pond; and I will venture to
affirm, that there is just as much Sense in burning a Witch, as in setting
a Reward upon a Hedge-Hog.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _That a Person is the better or the worse for being of any particular
    Calling or Profession._

This Error shall be dressed in a Clerical Habit. But I fear those venerable
Robes will share the same Fate here, which attends them in other Places;
they will give a double Force to the Mistakes and Failings of the Wearer.

Luke XVIII. Verses the xth, xith, xiith, and xiiith. _Two men went up into
the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The
Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself; God, I thank thee, that I am
not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this
publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
And the_ _publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his
eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me
a sinner._

The Oriental Teachers thought proper to convey their Doctrines of Morality
in Parable. Doubtless, the Method is plain and easy to be understood;
elegantly shewing us the Truth, whilst we cannot help confessing that we
discern it, and this without giving much Disgust by laying open the Foibles
of any Party; it is capable of comprehending all the Figures of Poetry and
Rhetoric, and these Figures are the least liable to be detected, whilst
they are clothed in the Disguise of Parable, which must be allowed to be a
great Advantage; _Artis est celare artem_ holds good in this Case, as well
as in others. And if one Person has an Inclination to bring another to his
Way of Thinking, he must endeavour to be as plain and simple in his Manner
as possible, for this Method alone carries with it the Appearance of Truth;
whether we argue on the right Side of the Question, or on the wrong, this
Method of Proceeding will hold good in some Measure; but especially, if we
want to instil true Principles of sound Morality, it has a double Force.
Our Blessed Saviour, doubtless, for this Reason thought proper to deliver
his Doctrines of Morality in this convincing, self-evident Dialect; he saw
plainly that the Cabalistical Stile of the Pharisees, was by no Means a
Language proper to convey new and wholesome Precepts into the Minds of the
Vulgar. No: He chose rather to make Use of this compact and intelligible
Method of inculcating his Precepts, namely Parable. We have no greater
Instance of his Skill, than this of the Pharisee and Publican.

In the Handling of this Subject, we shall consider the Human Species in
different Lights; as a reasoning philosophizing Animal, who thinks he has a
right to enquire into the Phoenomena of Nature, and to make Use of that
Right, and of those Senses, which God has given him; and as a Person, who
is forced to submit to the the superior Judgment of other Men, and takes
Things for granted as he is told them. The first of these is what we
generally understand when we say Men of Science, Men of Learning, Men of
regular Education, and the like. These may be ranged into Variety of
different Orders and Ranks, in regard to their different Professions,
Studies, Turns of Genius, Amusements, Abilities, Applications, &c.

We may with Propriety reduce all these different Sentiments concerning
Mankind, into two Branches; namely, Men of Business, and Men of Recreation
or Pleasure.

Of those who come under the Denomination of Men of Business, each one is
apt to think himself of that Order which is most respectable. For Instance,
one who professes the Law, may know that Mankind is apt to tax him with
Injustice and Dishonesty, but that, he comforts himself, is of no great
Signification; for what amongst the Vulgar is stiled Dishonest, among
People of Fashion, would be palliated by the agreeable Name of exquisite
Address. And so he makes himself very easy about what vulgar Imputations
may be laid to his Charge by the Mob, so long as he has the Gentry on his
Side. And they too may tax him with Dishonesty if they please, but he makes
no Doubt but he shall soon have some of them applying to him for Justice,
as all Causes must go through the Hands of those of his Profession; and he
does not see but Things are determined fairly enough in the End. In short,
he concludes with thinking, that his Profession is as useful as any other,
(and in that perhaps he may be right) and that it is profitable, and of
great Importance, and therefore, that the Sons of the Robe may justly be
said to be more honourable.

The Physician is of another Way of Thinking. He knows full well, that
Health is of more Consequence than Riches, for (says he) what Pleasure can
a Man have from a great Estate, if he has not Health to enjoy it? The
Lawyer may out talk him perhaps, but he thinks he has saved more Lives, at
a much cheaper Rate than the other has recovered Estates in Chancery. They
may make light of his Art, but he is certain likewise, that they will all
stand in Need of his Skill sometime or other; and therefore thinks, on
Account of the Importance of his Profession, that the Sons of Galen are
most honourable.

The Philosopher differs from them both. He thinks, that all that is wrote
upon Parchment must treat of something very trifling, with Respect to what
he is concerned in. It may be, says he, that this Parchment may contain
some Conveyance of some small Tract of Land, belonging to some one private
Person; but what is that? he has just been taking Measure of the whole
Earth. He thinks that Physic may have Merit in it's Way; for a Man skilled
in Physic may preserve the Life of an Animal who inhabits the Globe; but
what is this to what he has been contriving of? He has been taking Care of
the Health of the Universe; he has discovered a Comet, and has been
calculating how near it will approach to the Earth's Orbit; he has been
settling the Degrees of Heat it contains, at such and such Distances, and
what Danger we should all be in, of being totally demolished, if it was to
approach but a small Distance nearer; he has been finding out the Situation
of the Polar Stars, that Navigators may sail in an unknown Sea without
Danger; he has been fixing the exact Limit of the Trade Winds, where they
may be certain of being blown Home again safe. He thinks these are Matters
of a high Nature, much beyond any Thing else, and therefore, that his
Profession is of the highest Importance. Three Professions have been
mentioned, every one of which is apt to think his own Order of the greatest
Consequence. We should find it exactly the same, if we were to take a
Survey of the inferior Trades, and mechanical Men.

Those likewise, who think proper to devote their Time to Amusements, if we
examine into their Behaviour, we shall find them, in general, no less
partial to their own Taste than the Men of Business; which we shall easily
discern, if we make Observations at any Public Place, where many of this
Kind resort to. Gentlemen who are fond of Play, most heartily despise all
the Noises that can be made upon Instruments, all the Daubings which can be
smeared upon Canvass, and all the Nonsense that can he crammed into Books.
The only Music that can give them any Pleasure, is the rattling and
spirited Sound of the all-hazardous Dice-Box; the only Paintings which can
strike them, must be drawn at full Length, upon the mercenary Card-Table;
the only Books which, in their Opinion, contain any Sense in them, are
those which treat upon the noble Science of Gaming.

The Sportsman wonders what any Body can see in London, or in those
make-shift Entertainments which are contrived to pass Time away in Town; he
cannot bear to sit fretting over a Card Table. The only Music that delights
him, is the chearing Sensation which he perceives, when he is awaked from
Sleep, by the confused Harmony which pierces his Ear, from the shrill
Throats of his never-erring Hounds, impatient for the glorious Fatigue (as
he calls it) of the ensuing Day; which he follows at the Hazard of his
Life, over Dangers of Mountains, and Woods, and Rivers, and craggy Cliffs,
and returns Home well pleased and happy with the Thoughts of his Exploits:
Whilst the London Citizen prefers his Armed-chair, and a good Fire, and the
Daily Advertiser; and sneers at all the others for senseless Wretches,
because they don't understand the Rules of Principal and Interest.--All
these Examples may serve to shew, how wrapt-up Men are in their particular
Engagements of Business and Pleasure, and how in love they are with their
own Opinions: So in love with them, that they cannot look upon the
Sentiments of others with common Charity.

We all think ourselves of the highest Importance, and that there would no
existing without us; how this comes to pass shall be next enquired into, by
returning to the Matter of different Professions. We behave with regard to
our public Professions, in this Respect, just as we do in our private
Characters: As we can easily discern the Vices of other Men, and forget our
own, so it happens in the present Case; we can easily discern the Advantage
which the Public reaps from our own Profession, but it is with great
Difficulty that we are brought to examinine what Use we ourselves derive
from that of another. This was the very Case with the Pharisee in the Text;
he stood, and prayed and said, _God, I thank thee, that I am not as other
men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican_. He
payed Tithes of all that he possessed. And what great Merit was there in
that? If he had not thought proper to pay Tithes of his own Accord, no
Doubt, there was as much Law to compel him in those Times as in these; but
the Misfortune is, this Pharisee was under the same Mistake which Pharisees
in all Ages labour under, he could see plain enough into what he thought
his own private Qualifications, but could not discern the Use which the
Public reaped from his Companion. The Publican on the other Hand did not so
much as lift up his Eyes to Heaven, but smote his Breast, and said, _God be
merciful to me a sinner_. He acknowledged that he was of a Profession
which, however necessary it might be in itself, nevertheless brought upon
him the Odium of his Countrymen, and which made him liable to many
Irregularities in his Behaviour, made him forced to be guilty of many
Extortions from the poorer Sort of People; he confessed that his Profession
did necessarily bring all these Sins upon him, for which he then implored
Forgiveness. _I tell you_, says our Saviour, _this man went down to his
house justified rather than the other_. But what Reason can be given, why
the Pharisee should not be justified? It might be said, that the Pharisee
was conscious to himself of living according to the Laws of his Country,
and of doing his Duty, and that he thought it incumbent upon him to return
Thanks to the Maker of all Things, for giving him such good Inclinations,
and for putting it into his Power to make a good Use of them.

This would be very charitable Reasoning, if one could be brought to
believe, that the Pharisee was really such a Sort of a Man as he pretended
to be; but it is sufficiently evident, by the Stile and Manner of the
Parable, that this Pharisee was intended to be like other Pharisees in all
Times: he would be thought to be much better than he really was, and had
worked himself up to such a high Pitch of Pride and Self-Conceit, as to
boast of his supposed Qualifications even to his Maker.

Doubtless this excellent Parable strikes at the very Root of all Hypocrisy,
and vain-glorious outside Shew. For here was the Publican, very probably a
much better Man than the Pharisee, who had neither imbibed such high
Notions of his own Worth, nor pretended to any such fine Qualifications; he
very willingly acknowledged his Faults, and with the greatest Modesty and
Diffidence of himself, that high Recommendation both in the Eyes of God and
Man, did not even think himself worthy to look up to Heaven, but smote upon
his Breast and said, _God be merciful to me a sinner_.

What has been said may serve to shew the excellent Morality, which these
Parables of our Saviour's contained; they contained such Sort of Lessons as
must be useful, so long as the World exists; for there will always be such
Pharisees as are here mentioned by our Saviour, and to whom, in another
Place, he repeats the Words, _Wo unto you scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites_, so often. Isaiah says, Chap. ix. ver. 20, 21. _Wo unto them
that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light
for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and_ _sweet for bitter! Wo unto
them that are wise in their own Eyes and prudent in their own Sight!_

Our Saviour did not mean to aim with the Force of his Doctrine at Publicans
and Pharisees alone, his Doctrine was of an Universal Nature: And we must
not suppose that could ever be his Intention; and lest future Ages should
hereafter make such a Mistake, the Evangelist has given us his Opinion what
he thought our Saviour intended by this Parable. _He spake this Parable_,
says St. Luke, _unto those which trusted in themselves that they were
righteous, and despised others_.

Here it must be observed, that though our Saviour was pleased to say, that
_the Publican went down to his House justified_ rather _than the Pharisee_,
yet he by no Means sets either of them as a Pattern for our Example. We
must not therefore misunderstand this Passage so dangerously as to think,
that if we be but modest, we may be guilty of what enormous Vices we think
proper, because that would be giving the Words of our Saviour a wrong
Interpretation. A middle Character, between these two Extremes, is rather
to be aimed at. It is to be wished, that we could so navigate ourselves
through the dangerous Rocks and Quicksands of Land, as to avoid both the
Sins of the Publican, and the vain-glorious Boasting of the Pharisee: And
by that Means, we shall be enabled without Fear, to sail through the dark
Sea of Death, even into the Regions of Eternity, where the Gates of Hell
shall not prevail against us.


       *       *       *       *       *


  Page 54, instead of _Conis_ read _Canis_.
       72, instead of _Boatman's_ read _Boatswain's_.
       91, instead of _the_ read _their_.
       ditto, instead of _amazed_ read _amused_.
      110, instead of _lighter_ read _higher_.
      165, instead of _jabebat_ read _jacebat_.

       *       *       *       *       *



  What are these Masks? Hear you me, Jessica,
  Lock up my Doors, and when you hear the Drum,
  And the vile Squeaking of the Wry-neck'd Fife, &c.


  Rusticus expectat dum defluat amnis.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A New Catalogue of Vulgar Errors" ***

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