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ducing; such as the milleries of Portugal, and the livres of France; but he must learn what is of more difficult attainment; the discount of exchanges, the nature of current paper, the principles upon which the several banks of Europe are established, the real value of funds, the true credit of trading companies, with all the sources of profit, and possibilities of loss.
facturer. Much of the prosperity of a trading nation depends upon duties properly apportioned; so that what is necessary may continue cheap, and what is of use only to luxury may in sonie measure atone to the public for the mischief done to individuals. Duties may often be so regulated as to become useful even to those that pay them; and they may be likewise so unequally imposed as to discourage honesty, and depress industry, and give temptation to fraud and unlawful practices.
To teach all this is the design of the Com
All this he must learn merely as a private dealer, attentive only to his own advantage; but as every man ought to consider himself as part of the community to which he belongs, and while he prosecutes his own interest to promote like-mercial Dictionary; which though immediately wise that of his country, it is necessary for the trader to look abroad upon mankind, and study many questions which are perhaps more properly political than mercantile.
and primarily written for the merchants, will be of use to every man of business or curiosity. There is no man who is not in some degree a merchant, who has not something to buy and something to sell, and who does not therefore want such instructions as may teach him the true value of possessions or commodities.
He ought therefore to consider very accurately the balance of trade, or the proportion between things exported and imported; to examine what kinds of commerce are unlawful, either as being The descriptions of the productions of the earth expressly prohibited, because detrimental to the and water, which this volume will contain, may manufactures or other interests of his country, as be equally pleasing and useful to the speculatist the exportation of silver to the East Indies, and with any other natural history; and the acthe introduction of French commodities; or un-counts of various manufactures will constitute no lawful in itself, as the traffic for negroes. He contemptible body of experimental philosophy. ought to be able to state with accuracy, the The descriptions of ports and cities may instruct benefits and mischiefs of monopolies, and exclu- the geographer as well as if they were found in sive companies; to inquire into the arts which books appropriated only to his own science; and have been practised by them to make them the doctrines of funds, insurances, currency, monecessary, or by their opponents to make them nopolies, exchanges, and duties, is so necessary odious. He should inform himself what trades to the politician, that without it he can be of no are declining, and what are improveable; when use either in the council or the senate, nor can the advantage is on our side, and when on that speak or think justly either on war or trade. of our rivals. We therefore hope that we shall not repent the The state of our colonies is always to be dili-labour of compiling this work; nor flatter ourgently surveyed, that no advantage may be lost which they can afford, and that every opportunity may be improved of increasing their wealth and power, or of making them useful to their mother country.
There is no knowledge of more frequent use than that of duties and imposts, whether customs paid at the ports, or excises levied on the manu
selves unreasonably, in predicting a favourable reception to a book which no condition of life can render useless, which may contribute to the advantage of all that make or receive laws, of all that buy or sell, of all that wish to keep or improve their possessions, of all that desire to be rich, and all that desire to be wise.
TO THE TRANSLATION OF
FATHER LOBO'S VOYAGE TO ABYSSINIA.*
THE following relation is so curious and enter- | dible fictions: whatever he relates, whether taining, and the dissertations that accompany true or not, is at least probable; and he who it so judicious and instructive, that the trans- tells nothing exceeding the bounds of probalator is confident his attempt stands in need of bility, has a right to demand that they should no apology, whatever censures may fall on the believe him who cannot contradict him. performance.
The Portuguese traveller, contrary to the general vein of his countrymen, has amused his reader with no romantic absurdities or incre
For an account of this book, see the Life of Dr. Johnson, by Mr. Murphy.
He appears by his modest and unaffected narration, to have described things as he saw them, to have copied nature from the life, and to have consulted his senses, not his imagination. He meets with no basilisks that destroy with their eyes; his crocodiles devour their prey without tears; and his cataracts fall from
the rock without deafening the neighbouring | from the temper of his religion; but in the inhabitants.
The reader will here find no regions cursed with irremediable barrenness, or blessed with spontaneous fecundity; no perpetual gloom or unceasing sunshine; nor are the nations here described either devoid of all sense of humanity, or consummate in all private and social virtues: here are no Hottentots without religion, polity, or articulate language; no Chinese perfectly polite, and completely skilled in all sciences: he will discover what will always be discovered by a diligent and impartial inquirer, that wherever human nature is to be found, there is a mixture of vice and virtue, a contest of passion and reason; and that the Creator doth not appear partial in his distributions, but has balanced in most countries their particular inconveniences by particular favours,
others has left proofs, that learning and honesty are often too weak to oppose prejudice. He has made no scruple of preferring the testimony of father Du Bernat to the writings of all the Portuguese jesuits, to whom he allows great zeal, but little learning, without giving any other reason than that his favourite was a Frenchman. This is writing only to Frenchmen and to papists: a protestant would be desirous to know, why he must imagine that father Du Bernat had a cooler head or more knowledge, and why one man whose account is singular, is not more likely to be mistaken than many agreeing in the same account.
dolfus, laying hold on the advantage, reduced these later writers to prove their conformity.
If the Portuguese were biassed by any parti cular views, another bias equally powerful may have deflected the Frenchman from the truth; for they evidently write with contrary designs: In his account of the mission, where his vera- the Portuguese, to make their mission seem city is most to be suspected, he neither exag- more necessary, endeavoured to place in the gerates over-much the merits of the jesuits, if strongest light the differences between the Abyswe consider the partial regard paid by the Por-sinian and Roman church; but the great Lutuguese to their countrymen, by the jesuits to their society, and by the papists to their church, nor aggravates the vices of the Abyssinians; but if the reader will not be satisfied with a popish account of a popish mission, he may have recourse to the History of the Church of Abyssinia, written by Dr. Geddes, in which he will find the actions and sufferings of the missionaries placed in a different light, though the same in which Mr. Le Grand, with all his zeal for the Roman church, appears to have seen them.
This learned dissertator, however valuable for his industry and erudition, is yet more to be esteemed for having dared so freely, in the midst of France, to declare his disapprobation of the patriarch Oviedo's sanguinary zeal, who was continually importuning the Portuguese to beat up their drums for missionaries who might preach the gospel with swords in their hands, and propagate by desolation and slaughter the true worship of the God of peace.
It is not easy to forbear reflecting with how little reason these men profess themselves the followers of Jesus, who left this great characteristic to his disciples, that they should be known by loving one another, by universal and unbounded charity and benevolence.
Let us suppose an inhabitant of some remote and superior region, yet unskilled in the ways of men, having read and considered the precepts of the gospel, and the example of our Saviour, to come down in search of the true church. If he would not inquire after it among the cruel, the insolent, and the oppressive; among those who are continually grasping at dominion over souls as well as bodies; among those who are employed in procuring to themselves impunity for the most enormous villanies, and studying methods of destroying their fellow-creatures, not for their crimes but their errors-if he would not expect to meet benevolence engaged in massacres, or to find mercy in a court of inquisition, he would not look for the true church in the church of Rome.
Mr. Le Grand has given in one dissertation an example of great moderation, in deviating
Upon the whole, the controversy seems of no great importance to those who believe the Holy Scriptures sufficient to teach the way of salvation; but, of whatever moment it may be thought, there are no proofs sufficient to decide it.
His discourses on indifferent subjects will divert as well as instruct; and if either in these, or in the relation of father Lobo, any argument shall appear unconvincing, or description ob scure, they are defects incident to all mankind, which, however, are not too rashly to be imputed to the authors, being sometimes perhaps more justly chargeable on the translator.
In this translation (if it may be so called) great liberties have been taken, which, whether justifiable or not, shall be fairly confessed, and let the judicious part of mankind pardon or con
In the first part the greatest freedom has been used, in reducing the narration into a narrow compass; so that it is by no means a translation, but an epitome, in which, whether every thing either useful or entertaining be comprised, the compiler is least qualified to determine.
In the account of Abyssinia, and the continuation, the authors have been followed with more exactness; and as few passages appeared either insignificant or tedious, few have been either shortened or omitted.
The dissertations are the only part in which an exact translation has been attempted; and even in those, abstracts are sometimes given instead of literal quotations, particularly in the first; and sometimes other parts have been con tracted.
Several memorials and letters, which are printed at the end of the dissertations to secure the credit of the foregoing narrative, are entirely left out.
It is hoped that after this confession, whoever shall compare this attempt with the original, he shall find no proofs of fraud or partiality, will candidly overlook any failure of judgment.
AN ESSAY ON EPITAPHS.
FROM THE GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE, 1740.
tuate the examples of virtue, that the tomb of a good man may supply the want of his presence, and veneration for his memory produce the same effect as the observation of his life. Those Epitaphs are, therefore, the most perfect, which set virtue in the strongest light, and are best adapted to exalt the reader's ideas and rouse his emulation.
THOUGH criticism has been cultivated in every | the principal intention of Epitaphs is to perpeage of learning, by men of great abilities and extensive knowledge, till the rules of writing are become rather burdensome than instructive to the mind; though almost every species of composition has been the subject of particular treatises, and given birth to definitions, distinctions, precepts, and illustrations; yet no critic of note, that has fallen within my observation, has hitherto thought sepulchral inscriptions worthy of a minute examination, or pointed out with proper accuracy their beauties and defects. The reasons of this neglect it is useless to inquire, and perhaps impossible to discover; it might be justly expected that this kind of writing would have been the favourite topic of criticism, and that self-love might have produced some regard for it, in those authors that have crowded libraries with elaborate dissertations upon Homer; since to afford a subject for heroic poems is the privilege of very few, but every man may expect to be recorded in an epitaph, and therefore finds some interest in providing that his memory may not suffer by an unskilful panegyric.
If our prejudices in favour of antiquity deserve to have any part in the regulation of our studies, Epitaphs seem entitled to more than common regard, as they are probably of the same age with the art of writing. The most ancient structures in the world, the Pyramids, are supposed to be sepulchral monuments, which either pride or gratitude erected; and the same passions which incited men to such laborious and expensive methods of preserving their own memory, or that of their benefactors, would doubtless incline them not to neglect any easier means by which the same ends might be obtained. Nature and reason have dictated to every nation, that to preserve good actions from oblivion, is both the interest and duty of mankind; and therefore we find no people acquainted with the use of letters, that omitted to grace the tombs of their heroes and wise men with panegyrical inscriptions.
To examine, therefore, in what the perfection of Epitaphs consists, and what rules are to be observed in composing them, will be at least of as much use as other critical inquiries; and for assigning a few hours to such disquisitions, great examples at least, if not strong reasons, may be pleaded.
An Epitaph, as the word itself implies, is an inscription on the tomb, and in its most extensive import may admit indiscriminately satire or praise. But as malice has seldom produced monuments of defamation, and the tombs hitherto raised have been the work of friendship and benevolence, custom has contracted the original latitude of the word, so that it significs in the general acceptation an inscription engraven on a lomb in honour of the person deceased.
As honours are paid to the dead in order to incite others to the imitation of their excellences,
To this end it is not always necessary to recount the actions of a hero, or enumerate the writings of a philosopher; to imagine such informations necessary, is to detract from their characters, or to suppose their works mortal, or their achievements in danger of being forgotten. The bare name of such men answers every purpose of a long inscription.
Had only the name of SIR ISAAC NEWTON been subjoined to the design upon his monument, instead of a long detail of his discoveries, which no philosopher can want, and which none but a philosopher can understand, those, by whose direction it was raised, had done more honour both to him and to themselves.
This indeed is a commendation which it requires no genius to bestow, but which can never become vulgar or contemptible, if bestowed with judgment, because no single age produces many men of merit superior to panegyric. None but the first names can stand unassisted against the attacks of time; and if men raised to reputation by accident or caprice, have nothing but their names engraved on their tombs, there is danger lest in a few years the inscription require an interpreter. Thus have their expectations been disappointed who honoured Picus of Mirandola with this pompous epitaph:
Hic situs est Picus Mirandola, cætera norunt Et Tagus et Ganges, forsan et Antipodes. His name, then celebrated in the remotest corners of the earth, is now almost forgotten; and his works, then studied, admired, and applauded, are now mouldering in obscurity.
Next in dignity to the hare name is a short character simple and. unadorned, without exaggeration, superlatives, or rhetoric. Such were the inscriptions in use among the Romans, in which the victories gained by their emperors were commemorated by a single epithet; as Cæsar Germanicus, Cæsar Dacicus, Germanicus, Illyricus. Such would be this epitaph, ISAACUS NEWTONUS, naturæ legibus investigatis hic quiescit.
But to far the greatest part of mankind a longer encomium is necessary for the publication of their virtues, and the preservation of their memories; and in the composition of these it is that art is principally required, and precepts therefore may be useful.
In writing Epitaphs, one circumstance is to be considered, which affects no other composition; the place in which they are now commonly found restrains them to a particular air
The pope who defaced the statues of the deities
It is for the same reason improper to address the Epitaph to the passenger, a custom which an injudicious veneration for antiquity introduced again at the revival of letters, and which, among many others, Passeratius suffered to mislead him in his Epitaph upon the heart of Henry king of France, who was stabbed by Clement the monk; which yet deserves to be inserted, for the sake of showing how beautiful even improprieties may become in the hands of a good writer.
of solemnity, and debars them from the admis- | to battle, or Cupids sporting round a virgin. sion of all lighter or gayer ornaments. In this it is that the style of an Epitaph necessarily differs from that of an elegy. The custom of burying our dead either in or near our churches, perhaps originally founded on a rational design of fitting the mind for religious exercises, by laying before it the most affecting proof of the uncertainty of life, makes it proper to exclude from our Epitaphs all such allusions as are contrary to the doctrines for the propagation of which the churches are erected, and to the end for which those who peruse the monuments must be supposed to come thither. Nothing is, therefore, more ridiculous than to copy the Roman inscriptions which were engraven on stones by the highway, and composed by those who generally reflected on mortality only to excite in themselves and others a quicker relish of pleasure, and a more luxurious enjoyment of life, and whose regard for the dead extended no farther than a wish that the earth might be light upon them.
All allusions to the heathen mythology are therefore absurd, and all regard for the senseless remains of a dead man impertinent and superstitious. One of the first distinctions of the primitive christians, was their neglect of bestowing garlands on the dead, in which they are very rationally defended by their apologist in Minutius Felix. "We lavish no flowers nor odours on the dead," says he, "because they have no sense of fragrance or of beauty." We profess to reverence the dead, not for their sake, but for It is therefore always with indignation or contempt that I read the epitaph on Cowley, a man whose learning and poetry were his lowest merits.
Aurea dum late volitant tua scripta per orbem,
To pray that the ashes of a friend may lie undisturbed, and that the divinities that favoured
him in his life, may watch for ever round him, to preserve his tomb from violation, and drive sacrilege away, is only rational in him who believes the soul interested in the repose of the body, and the powers which he invokes for its protection able to preserve it. To censure such expressions as contrary to religion, or as remains of heathen superstition, would be too great a degree of severity. I condemn them only as uninstructive and unaffecting, as too ludicrous for reverence or grief, for christianity and a temple.
Adsta, viator, et dole regum vices.
In the monkish ages, however ignorant and unpolished, the Epitaphs were drawn up with far greater propriety than can be shown in those which more enlightened times have produced.
Orate pro Anima-miserrimi Peccatoris,
solemn, as it flowed naturally from the religion
It may seem very superfluous to lay it down as the first rule for writing Epitaphs, that the
name of the deceased is not to be omitted; nor should I have thought such a precept necessary, had not the practice of the greatest writers shown that it has not been sufficiently regarded. In most of the poetical Epitaphs, the names for whom they were composed, may be sought to no purpose, being only prefixed on the monument. To expose the absurdity of this omission, it is only necessary to ask how the Epitaphs, which have outlived the stones on which they were inscribed, would have contributed to the informa
tion of posterity, had they wanted the names of those whom they celebrated.
In drawing the character of the deceased, there are no rules to be observed which do not equally relate to other compositions. The praise in the extent of any indefinite idea, and cannot ought not to be general, because the mind is lost be affected with what it cannot comprehend. When we hear only of a good or great man, we know not in what class to place him, nor have any notion of his character, distinct from that of a thousand others; his example can have no That the designs and decorations of monu-effect upon our conduct, as we have nothing rements ought likewise to be formed with the same markable or eminent to propose to our imitation. regard to the solemnity of the place, cannot be denied; it is an established principle, that all The Epitaph composed by Ennius for his own ornaments owe their beauty to their propriety. tomb, has both the faults last mentioned. The same glitter of dress that adds graces to gayety and youth, would make age and dignity contemptible. Charon with his boat is far from heightening the awful grandeur of the universal judgment, though drawn by Angelo himself; nor is it easy to imagine a greater absurdity than that of gracing the walls of a christian temple with the figure of Mars leading a hero |
Nemo me decoret lacrumis, nec funera, fletu Faxit. Cur? volito vivu' per ora virum. The reader of this Epitaph receives scarce any idea from it; he neither conceives any veneration for the man to whom it belongs, nor is instructed by what methods this boasted reputation is to be obtained.
Though a sepulchral inscription is professedly
PREFACE TO AN ESSAY ON PARADISE LOST.
a panegyric, and, therefore, not confined to historical impartiality, yet it ought always to be written with regard to truth. No man ought to be commended for virtues which he never possessed, but whoever is curious to know his faults must inquire after them in other places; the monuments of the dead are not intended to perpetuate the memory of crimes, but to exhibit patterns of virtue. On the tomb of Mecenas his luxury is not to be mentioned with his munificence, nor is the proscription to find a place on the monument of Augustus.
The best subject for Epitaphs is private virtue; virtue exerted in the same circumstances in which the bulk of mankind are placed, and which, therefore, may admit of many imitators. He that has delivered his country from oppression, or freed the world from ignorance and error, can excite the emulation of a very small number; but he that has repelled the temptations of poverty, and disdained to free himself from distress at the ex
pense of his virtue, may animate multitudes, by his example, to the same firmness of heart and steadiness of resolution.
Of this kind I cannot forbear the mention of two Greek inscriptions; one upon a man whose writings are well known, the other upon a person whose memory is preserved only in her Epitaph, who both lived in slavery, the most calamitous estate in human life:
Ζωσιμη ἡ πριν εουσα μονῳ τῳ σωματι δουλη,
"Zosima, who in her life could only have her body ca slaved, now finds her body likewise set at liberty."
It is impossible to read this Epitaph without being animated to bear the evils of life with constancy, and to support the dignity of human nature under the most pressing afflictions, both by the example of the heroine, whose grave we be hold, and the prospect of that state in which, to use the language of the inspired writers, "The poor cease from their labours, and the weary be at rest."
The other is upon Epictetus, the stoic philosopher:
Δουλος Επίκτητος γενόμην, και σωμ' ανάπηρος, Και πενίην Ιρος, και Ψιλος Αθανατοις. Servus Epictetus, mutilatus corpore, vizi Pauperieque Irus, curaque prima Deum. "Epictetus, who lies here, was a slave and a cripple, poor as the beggar in the proverb, and the favourite of Heaven."
In this distich is comprised the noblest panegyric, and the most important instruction. We
learn from it that virtue is impracticable in himself to the regard of Heaven, amidst the no condition, since Epictetus could recommend temptations of poverty and slavery; slavery, which has always been found so destructive to virtue, that in many languages a slave and a thief are expressed by the same word. And we may be likewise admonished by it, not to lay any stress on a man's outward circumstances, in making an estimate of his real value, since Epictetus, the beggar, the cripple, and the slave, was the favourite of Heaven.
TO AN ESSAY ON MILTON'S USE AND IMITATION OF THE MODERNS IN HIS PARADISE LOST.
FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE YEAR 1750.
Ir is now more than half a century since the [tion. There seems to have arisen a contest, "Paradise Lost," having broke through the among men of genius and literature, who should cloud with which the unpopularity of the au- most advance its honour, or best distinguish its thor, for a time, obscured it, has attracted the beauties. Some have revised editions, others general admiration of mankind; who have en-have published commentaries, and all have endeavoured to compensate the error of their first deavoured to make their particular studies, in neglect, by lavish praises and boundless venera- some degree, subservient to this general emula.
"It is to be hoped, nay, it is expected, that the elegant and nervous writer, whose judicious sentiments, and inimitable style, points out the author of Lauder's Preface and Posstcript, will no longer allow one to plume himself with his feathers, who appears so little to have deserved his assistance; an assistance which I am persuaded would never have been communicated, had there been the least suspicion of those facts which I have been the instrument of conveying to the world in these sheets." -Milton vindicated from the charge of plagiarism brought against him by Mr. Lauder, and Lauder himself convicted of several forgeries and gross imposi tions on the public. By John Douglas, M. A. Rector of Eaton Constantine, Salop. 8vo. 1751, p. 77.
Among the inquiries, to which this ardour of criticism has naturally given occasion, none is more obscure in itself, or more worthy of rational curiosity, than a retrospection of the progress of this mighty genius, in the construction of his work; a view of the fabric gradually rising, perhaps from small beginnings, till its foundation rests in the centre, and its turrets sparkle in the skies; to trace back the structure, through all its varieties, to the simplicity of its first plan; to find what was first projected, whence the scheme