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At the time, when the prosecution of Paine's Rights of Man had given them a celebrity and a circulation, which they would otherwise never have obtained, a better method was resorted to for combating the principles of the work, by turning them into ridicule. This was done by Mr. (afterwards baron) Smith, who published in the Dublin Freeman's Journal, the following smart Apologue.


A Fable.

Intended as a Companion to Paine's Fable of the Rights of Man.

Flumina : quid rides? Mutato nomine, de le
Fabula narratur.-HOR.
From that famed well my watery precepts glide,
Where Naiad Truth is stated to reside.
Laugh not, ye wild Reformists; those who view

My streams with care, will see reflected—you.
IN I know not what century after the flood, (the reader
can look into Blair's tables of chronology,) a spirit of tumult
and philosophy is said to have moved upon the face of the
waters. Rivers, which (could it be from the want of all re-
flection?) had been quietly gliding within their banks for
ages, now discovered themselves to be in such a state of
depravity, as required a recurrence to first principles for its
cure; and Rights of Waters were making a rapid progress
through the globe. It was argued, that this confinement
within banks was a restraint which they had heedlessly im-
posed upon themselves, contrary to the liberal intentions of
Nature. They were created fountains, with equal natural
rights; and deemed it expedient to go back to their sources,
as the only means of accurate investigation. They could not
see why some particles of water should be thrust down by
others no better than themselves, Their forerunners, it was
true, had been submitting to this coercion time out of mind.
But what was this to them? The rights of living waters must
not be thus controlled and sported away. (1) Divisions of
water, into lakes and rivers, springs and puddles, they unani-
mously decried, as mere artificial and aristocratical distinc-


(1) Paine's fable of the Rights of Man.

tions; and pushed their researches to that early period, when water came from the hands of its Maker. What was it then ? Water. Water was its high and only title. (2)

Now, a rumour went, that in the days of Noah, a great aquatic revolution had taken place; when all things were reduced to a philosophic level; beneath the sanction of which precedent, it was agreed on by the rivers, that they would not any longer be imprisoned within banks, nor driven headlong in one direction, at the arbitrary will of fountains, but would shed their last drop in asserting the rights of waters.

Obscure as to his origin, (3) ungovernable in his temper, and a leveller in principles, Nilus led the way, and Egypt was covered with an inundation. Every cultivated inequality was overwhelmed, and all distinctions levelled to uniformity. Nature was supposed to have resumed her rights, and Philosophy admired the grand simplicity of ruin! When, lo! the tide of tumult ebbed, and eminences were seen to get their heads above water. The party was daily continuing to gain ground, and all things tended to a counter revolution. What had first been deemed the effort of enlightened virtue, was now looked on as the rush of vulgar and inconsiderate violence. What originally seemed calculated to promote the views of Nature, was now seen to be directed in opposition to her will; while events had, in the mean time, been suggesting her omnipotence-that to combat her was dangerous, and to conquer her impossible. (4)

Such was the result, and the moral of this enterprise. His forces all subdued-impoverished and languid, the baffled Nile retreated to his channel, after having, by his hostile descent, reluctantly served and strengthened the landed interests of Egypt; though, like the commotions of the Seine, (5) this also produced monsters. (6)

(2) “ If we proceed on, we shall at last come out right. We shall come to the time when man came from the hands of his Maker. What was he then? Man; Man was his high and only title.”—Paine's Rights of Man, (3) Arcanum Natura caput non prodidit ulli;

Nec licuit populis parvum te, Nile, videre.—LUCAN. (4) Expellas licet-usque recurrit. (5) An allusion to the consequences of the then recent French revolution. (6) The mud deposited by the Nile was supposed to engender monsters.


Although the blaze of this nobleman's reputation as a man of genius is not yet quite extinguished, it is principally as a great wit, a great libertine, and a great penitent, that he is at present known. His biographers, not contented with loading him with every vice, have denied him the possession of a single virtue. Dr. Johnson, following the coarse invectives and unauthorized accusations of his predecessors, says, that the earl passed his life“ in a course of drunken gaiety, and gross sensuality, with intervals of study perhaps more criminal, with an avowed contempt of all decency and order; a total disregard of every moral, and a resolute denial of every religious obligation." A charge so serious, it might have been expected, would have been supported by some proof; but it rests almost wholly on traditional and gratuitous assertion. But the measure of Rochester's crimes and vices would have been incomplete, without the imputation of cowardice; and this nobleman, who, when at sea, under the earl of Sandwich,“ distinguished himself at Bergen, by uncommon intrepidity ;” and, when afterwards serving on board the fag-ship of Sir Edward Spragge, during an engagement, was the only man found to carry a message of reproof to one of the captains, in an open boat, amidst a storm of shot, has been reproached as a coward, on the authority of the duke of Buckingham, who says, that Rochester refused to fight a duel with him, at a time when he was in an acknowledged bad state of health.

It is not now meant to deny many of the charges made against the character of Rochester, though some of them rest on very slender foundation; and when his memory has, for a century and a half, been loaded with unalloyed obloquy, it might seem the height of folly to offer any thing in its vindication; but if we can shew his character in a more amiable or less odious light, justice demands that his memory should have the benefit of it: and if we can prove that, notwithstanding all his dissipation, and “ lavish voluptuousness,” he was an affectionate husband, and a fond father, we shall at least exhibit him in a light in which he has not hitherto been regarded. Happily, the evidence on which this will rest, is indisputable: it is drawn from his own domestic letters; and if there be a moment in which a man exhibits his real character, it is in that family intercourse, which is carried on without precaution and without restraint.

The following letters are selected from a collection of about forty, which are preserved in a volume of the Harleian MSS. No. 7003, in the British Museum. It is to be regretted, that there is no date to any of them ; but though written at various times, and those to his wife, often under different emotions, yet they are not only untainted with the vulgarity and freedom which distinguished the correspondence of that period, but breathe throughout, the sentiments of an amiable temper and a good heart. In the same volume of MSS. there are some of his letters to his friend Mr. Savile ; but as these are not necessary to the elucidation of that feature in his character which we have noticed, it has not been deemed necessary to insert them, particularly as they have been printed.

The first eleven are from

The Earl of Rochester to his Wife.

I. Dear Wife,

I have no news for you, but that London grows very tiresome, and I long to see you ; but things are now reduced to that extremity on all sides, that a man dares not turn his back for fear of being hang’d; an ill accident, to be avoided by all prudent persons, and therefore by

Your humble servant,


It were very unreasonable should I not love

you, whilst I believe you a deserving good creature. I am allready soe weary of this place, that, upon my word, I could bee content to pass my winter at Cannington, though I apprehend the tediousness of it for you. Pray send me word what lyes in my power to doe for your service and ease, here or wherever else you can employ mee; and assure yourselfe I will neglect your concerne no more than forgett my owne. 'Twas


well for your son, as ill as you tooke it, that I sent him to Adderbury, for it proves at least to be the king's evill that troubles him; and hee comes up to London this weeke to bee touch't. My humble service to my aunt Rogers, and Nan.

I write in bed, and am affraid you can't reade it.

III. I should be infinitely pleased, madam, with the newes of your

health. Hitherto I have not bin soe fortunate to heare any of you; but assure yourselfe my wishes are of

your side

as much as possible. Pray only that they may be effectuall,
and you will not want for happiness.
Paris, the 22d of Aprill,

French stile.
For the Countess of Rochester.


'Tis not an easy thing to be entirely happy, but to bee kind is very easy, and that is the greatest measure of happiness. I I say not this to put you in mind of being kind to mee; you have practised that so long, that I have a joyful confidence, you will never forget it. But to shew that I myself have a sence of what the method of my life seems so utterly to contradict. I must not bee too wise about my own follies; or else this letter had been a booke dedicated to you, and published to the world. It will be more pertinent to tell you, that, very shortly, the king goes to Newmarket; and then I shall wait on you at Adderbury; in the mean time, thinke of any thing you would have me doe, and I shall thank you for the occasion of pleasing you.

Present my service to Mrs. H.

Mr. Morgan I have sent in this errant, because he plays the rogue here in towne so extremely, that he is not to be endured. Pray, if he behave himself so at Adderbury, send me word, and let him stay till I send for him. Pray let Ned come up, I have a little business with him, and he shall be back in a week.

V. Deare Wife,

I recover soe slowly, and relaps soe continually, that I am allmost weary of myself; if I had the least strength, I would come to Adderbury, but in the condition I am, Kensington and back is a voyage I can hardly support. I hope you excuse my sending you noe money, for, till I am well enough to fetch it myself, they will not give mee a farthing; and if I had not pawn'd my plate, I believe I must have starved in my sickness. Well, God bless you and the children, whatever becomes of

Your humble servant,


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