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ful husbands, and prudent economists: Boileau, by the liberalities of Lewis, was enabled to purchase a delightful privacy at Auteuil, was eminently skilled in the management of his finances, and despised that affectation which arrogantly aims to place itself above the necessary decorums and rules of civil life; in all which particulars they were equaled by Addison, Swift, and Pope.
It ought not, therefore, to be concluded from a few examples to the contrary, that poetry and prudence are incompatible; a conclusion that seems to have arisen in this kingdom, from the dissolute behaviour of the despicable debauchees that disgraced the muses and the court of Charles the Second, by their lives and by their writings. Let those who are blessed with genius recollect, that economy is the parent of integrity, of liberty, and of ease; and the beauteous sister of temperance, of cheerfulness, and health ; and that profuseness is a cruel and crafty demon, that gradually involves her followers in de pendence and debts; that is, fetters them with “irons that enter into their souls."
No. 60. SATURDAY, JUNE 2, 1753.
Jus est et ab hoste doceri.
To have delayed the publication of the following letter would have been surely inexcusable, as it is subscribed by the name of a very great personage, who has been long celebrated for his superiority of genius and knowledge;. and whose abilities will not
appear to have been exaggerated by servility or faction, when his genuine productions shall be better known. He has, indeed, been suspected of some attempts against Revealed Religion; but the letter which I have the honour to publish, will do justice to his character, and set his principles in a new light.
« TO THE ADVENTURER.
SIR, “ As your principal design is to revive the practice of virtue, by establishing the Christian Religion ; you will naturally conclude, that your views and mine are directly opposite : and my attempt to show, that it is your interest to admit my correspondence, will, therefore, be considered as a proof of the contrary. You will, however, soon discover, that by promoting your interest I seek my own; and when you have read my letter, you will be far from suspecting, that under a specious show of concurrence in
your undertaking I have concealed an attempt to render it ineffectual.
“ Never to give up the present for the future is a maxim which I have always taught both by precept and example: I consider the now as the whole of my existence; and therefore to improve it is the whole of my study. And, indeed, happiness, like virtue, consists not in rest, but in action; it is found rather in the pursuit than the attainment of an end : for though the death of the stag is the purpose of the chase, yet the moment this purpose
is accomplished the sport is at an end. Virtue and religion alone can afford me employment: without them I must inevitably be idle, and to be idle is to be wretched. I should, therefore, instead of attempting to destroy the principles upon which I was resisted, have been content to surmount them: for he
who should hamstring the game, lest any of them should escape, would be justly disappointed of the pleasure of running 'them down. Such, indeed, is my present condition; and as it will at once answer your purpose and mine, I shall exhibit an account of my conduct, and show how my disappointment was produced.
“My principal business has always been to counterwork the effects of Revealed Religion : I have, therefore, had little to do, except among Jews and Christians. In the early ages of the world, when revelation was frequently repeated with sensible and miraculous circumstances, I was far from being idle; and still think it an incontestable proof of my abilities, that even then my labour was not always unsuccessful. I applied not so much to the understanding as to the senses, till after the promulgation of Christianity; but I soon discovered that Christianity afforded motives to virtue and piety, which were scarce to be overpowered by temptation : I was, therefore, obliged now to exert my power, not upon the senses but the understanding. As I could not suspend the force of these motives, I laboured to direct them towards other objects; and in the eighth century I had so far succeeded as to produce a prevailing opinion, that the worship of images was of more moment than moral rectitude.' It was decreed by a pope and council, that to speak of them with irreverence was a forfeit of salvation, and that the offender should, therefore, be excommunicated : those who opposed this decree were persecuted with fire and sword; and I had the satisfaction not only of supplanting virtue, but of propagating misery, by a zeal for religion. I must not, however, arrogate all the honour of an event which so much exceeded my hopes; for many arguments in favour of images were drawn from a
book entitled Pratum Spirituale : in which it is affirmed that, having long tempted a hermit to incontinence, I offered to desist if he would cease to worship an image of the Virgin; and that the hermit having consulted an abbot, whether to accept or refuse the condition, was told that it was more eligible to commit incontinence than to neglect the worship of images : and I declare upon my honour, that the facts, as far as they relate to me, did never happen, but are wholly invented by the ingenious author. That salvation had
little connexion with virtue was indeed an opinion which I propagated with great diligence, and with such success that Boniface, the apostle of Germany, declared the benefit of sacraments to depend upon the qualifications of those by whom they were administered; and that a Bavarian monk having ignorantly baptised in these words, Baptizo te in nomine patria, filia, et spiritua sancta, all such baptisms were invalid. Against knowledge, however, I never failed to oppose zeal; and when Virgilius asserted, that the earth being a sphere, there were people upon it the soles of whose feet were directly opposite to each other; the same Father Boniface represented him to the pope as a corrupter of the Christian faith ; and the pope, concurring with Boniface, soon after excommunicated a bishop for adopting so dangerous an opinion, declaring him a heretic,
and a blasphemer against God and his own soul. In these instances my success was the more remarkable, as I verily believe Boniface himself intended well, because he died a martyr with great constancy.
“ I found, however, that while the Gospels were publicly read, the superstructure which I had' built upon them was in perpetual danger: I, therefore, exerted all my influence to discontinue the practice,
of God were..
and at length succeeded, though Aristotle's Ethics were substituted for them in some northern churches; but against Aristotle's Ethics I had not equal objections.
“ During this period, therefore, my powers were neither dissipated by unsuccessful labour, nor rendered useless by necessary idleness: I had perplexed and confounded the most simple and salutary doctrines, with absurd subtilties and extravagant conceits : and I had armed with the weapons perstition, and disguised with the tinsel of ceremony, that religion which comprehended every precept in love to God and to man; which
gave no direction about divine worship, but that it should be performed in spirit and in trụth ; or about social virtue, but that love of self should be the measure of bounty to others. But there was still personal sanctity, though the doctrine and the discipline of the church was become corrupt and ridiculous: zeal was still animated by integrity, though it was no longer directed by knowledge: the service and the honour
still intended, though the means were mistaken. Many, indeed, gladly substituted gain for godliness, and committed every species of wickedness, because they hoped to appropriate works of supererogation that were performed by others; but there were some who practised all the severities of erroneous piety, and suffered the mortification which they recommended: so that I had still something to do, and was still encouraged to diligence by suc
“ But all these advantages depended upon ignorance; for the security of ignorance, therefore, I affirmed, that she was the mother of devotion ; a lie so successful that it passed into a proverb.
“ The period, however, arrived when knowledge could be no longer suppressed; and I was under the