Category Archives: Eighteenth century

Eighteenth-Century Reading Room Closing

Effective August 16, 2008, the Eighteenth-Century Reading Room will be closed to the public and the collection will be returned to the owner shortly thereafter. The Eighteenth-Century Reading Room blog will remain accessible but will not be updated. More information on the Speaker Series will be posted shortly.

We apologize for the serious inconvenience this will cause to those of you who have come to depend upon these resources. 

Although certainly not a replacement for this collection, Graduate Center students and faculty are encouraged to use the database, Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) which contains over 150,000 books printed in the 18th century.

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Item of the Day: Description of The Asylum, or House of Refuge, Surry [1808-1810]

Found In: Microcosm of London. Vol. I. London: R. Ackermann, [1808-1810].

THE ASYLUM, OR HOUSE OF REFUGE,

Is in the parish of Lambeth, in Surry, and was instituted in the year 1758, for the reception of friendless and deserted girls, the settlemnt of whose parents cannot be found. It was incorporated in 1800.

The annexed print is an interesting representation of the objects of this benevolent institution at their repast, in the presence of some of their guardians, who seem to contemplate the good order, cheerfulness, innocence, and comforts of their little wards, with all that interest and delight, that luxury of fine feeling, which irradiates the countenance when the heart is glowing with benevolence, animated with the exercise of an important duty, and gratified by the conviction that their virtuous endeavours are crowned with success. The coup d’oeil of the print is most impressive, and does great honour to the talents and feelings of the artists. The sweet innocence of the children, the benevolence of the guardians, and the chaste and matron-like simplicity of the building, aided by a fine breadth of effect, form a whole, which at the same time that the parts are in perfect harmony with each other, is admirably calculated to awaken the tender emotions of the human heart, and excite the spectator to the exertion of those tender and kindly feelings, which do honour to our nature.

This charity owes its establishment to that vigilant and active magistrate, Sir John Fielding; who had long observed, that though the laws of this kingdom provided a parish settlement for every person, by birth, parentage, apprenticeships, &c. yet many cases continually occurred, in which such settlements were difficult, if not impossible, to be ascertained; and therefore he and others were solicitous to remove, in part, this source of female wretchedness. By their exertions, and the continued endeavours of those who have hitherto conducted the plan, their benevolent intentions have been rewarded with the most signal success. The generous and discerning public has bestowed the means, which have prospered in the hands of the guardians, by whose care two hundred deserted femals are daily sheltered and protected from vice and want, supplied with food and raiment, and taught whatever can render them useful in their situation, or comfortable and happy in themselves.

Carefully instructed in the principles of religion; in reading, writing, needlework, and household business, they are trained to habits of industy and regularity, by which means there is a supply of diligent and sober domestics for the use of that public, which, by its contributions, has so nobly acquired a right to their services.

The particular objects of this charity are, the children of soldiers, sailors, and other indigent persons, bereft of their parents, at a distance from any of their relations; who being too young to afford the necessary information respecting settlements, are often left destitute of protection and support, at an age when they are incapable of earning a subsistence, and contending with surrounding dangers.

Females of this description are, in a particular manner, the objects of compassion, and have also a double claim to the care of the humane and virtuous, from being not only exposed to the miseries of want and idleness, but, as they grow up, to the solicitations of the vicious, and the consequent misery of early seduction.

The following are some of the regulations for the government of this charity, which have been made by the guardians from time to time, and now continue in force.

 

Qualifications of Guardians.

The qualification of an annual guardian is, a yearly subscription of three guineas or upwards.

The qualification of a perpetual guardian is, a subscription of thirty guineas or upwards.

Legacies bequeathed to the use of this charity of one hundred pounds or upwards, when paid, shall entitle the first-named acting executor to to be a perpetual guardian.

The guardians, conceiving it to be very essential for promoting one of the chief objects of this institution, earnestly solicit the ladies, who are particularly qualified for that purpose, frequently to visit the charity, inspect the management of the house, and particularly the employment of the children; also to see that they are properly instructed in housewifery, so as to be qualified for useful domestic servants; and from time to time communicate to the committee, by letter or otherwise, such observations as they shall deem proper to make.

 

Employment of Children.

The children are to make and mend their own linen; make shirts, shifts, and table-linen; to do all kinds of plain needle-work, and to perform the business of the house and kitchen; to which latter twelve are appointed weekly, according to their age and abilities, to assist the cook, to wash, iron, and get up all the linen. They are likewise taught to read the Bible, write a legible hand, and understand the first four rules in arithmetic.

All kinds of plain needle-work are taken in at the Assylum, and performed by the children at certain rates, which are regulated by the committee.

 

The following ar the Rules for placing out the Children.

They are to be bound apprentices for seven years, at the age of fifteen, or sooner, as domestic servants to reputable families in Great Britain.

No girl shall be apprenticed until the character of the master or mistress applying for the same, shall have been enquired into, and approved of by the committee.

Every person applying for an apprentice must appear at the committee, to give the necessary information respecting their station, unless such appearance be dispensed with by the committee.

When any girl shall become qualified to be an apprentice, the guardian who presented her shall be acquainted therewith, in order to know if such guardian has any place in view for her.

The guardians, desirous of encouraging the children to serve their apprenticeship faithfully, have empowered the committee to grant any orpahn apprenticed from the charity, who shall produce to the committee a certificate, signed by her master or mistress (or both if living), of her good behaviour during her apprenticeship, the sum of five guineas, such orphan having first returned public thanks in the chapel for the protection she has received.

The committee are empowered to put out at any time, to any trade they shall think proper, such orphans as may have contracted any disease or infirmity, which may render them incapable of domestic service, with a premium not exceeding ten pounds. . . .

 

 

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Filed under 1800's, Culture, Eighteenth century, England, London, Poor, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Reform, Women

Item of the Day: Microcosm of London [1808-1810]

Full Title: Microcosm of London. Vol. I. London: R. Ackermann, [1808-1810].

 

INTRODUCTION.

To expatiate the general utility of a work of this description, is hardly necessary; it embraces such a variety of subjects (dissimilar, it must be acknowledged, to each other), that some of them must be interesting to almost every man; and as the plates will be arranged alphabetically, the whole will form a sort of dictionary, that may be referred to for any particular subject.

Among the numerous inhabitants of this great city, there are some whose particular pursuits have so much engrossed their time and thoughts, that they know little more of the scenery which surrounds them than barely the names. Such a work as this may reasonably be expected to rouse their dormant curiosity, and induce them to notice and contemplate objects so worthy of their attention. Those to whom these scenes are familiar, it will remind of their various peculiarities, and this publication may possibly point out some which have hitherto escaped their observation. To such occasional visitors of the metropolis as wish to know what is most worthy of their attention and examination in this mighty capital of the British empire, it will afford information which cannot easily be estimated.

The great objection that men fond of the fine arts have hitherto made to engravings on architectural subjects, has been, that the buildings and figures have almost invariably been designed by the same artists. In consequence of this, the figures have been generally neglected, or are of a very inferior cast, and totally unconnected with the other part of the print; so that we may sometimes see men and women in English dresses delineated in an English view of an Italian palace, and Spanish grandees in long cloaks, and ladies in veils, seated in one of our own cathedrals.

To remove these glaring incongruities from this publication, a strict attention has been paid, not only to the country of the figures introduced in the differnet buildings, but to the general air and peculiar carriage, habits, &c. of such characters as are likely to make up the majority in particular places.

The architectural part of the subjects that are contained in this work, will be delineated, with the utmost precision and care, by Mr. Pugin, whose uncommon accuracy and elegant taste have been displayed in his former productions. With respect to the figures, they are the pencil of Mr. Rowlandson, with whose professional talents the public are already so well acquainted, that it is not necessary to expatiate on them here. As the follwing list comprises almost every variety of character that is found in this great metropolis, there will be ample scope for the exertion of his abilities; and it will be found, that his powers are not confined to the ludicrous, but that he can vary with his subject, and, whenever it is necessary, descend

From grave to gay, from lively to severe.

As six numbers will form a volume, the whole will be comprised in four handsome volumes, with each of which will be given a beautiful frontispiece; so that each volume will contain twenty-five highly finished plates, correctly designed and coloured from nature, with near two-hundred pages of letter-press.

As every possible attention will be paid to executing the different parts in a superior style, and rendering this work wothy of approbation and encouragement, the publisher is not afraid of obtaining it.

 

 

[SEE ALSO: MICROCOSM OF LONDON]

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Filed under 1800's, Culture, Eighteenth century, England, London, North America, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Narrative of Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton (1783)

Full Title: Narrative of Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton, K.B. Relative to his Conduct during Part of his Command of the King’s Troops in North America; Particularly to that which respects the unfortunate Issue of the Campaign in 1781. With an Appendix, Containing Copies and Extracts of those Parts of his Correspondence with Lord George Germain, Earl Cornwallis, Rear Admiral Graves, &c. Which are referred to therein. London: Printed for J. Debrett (successor to Mr. Almon) opposite Burlington-house, Piccadilly, 1783.

 

Being conscious, that during my command in North America, my whole conduct was actuated by the most ardent zeal for the King’s service, and the interests of the public, I was exceedingly mortified, when I returned to England, after a service of seven years in that country, to find that erroneous opinions had gone forth respecting it; and that many persons had, in consequence, admitted impressions to my prejudice. Anxious, therefore, to explain what had been misinterpreted or misrepresented, (as indeed might well be expected, from the publication of Lord C.’s letter of the 20th of Ocotber, without being accompanied by my answer to it) I had proposed taking an opportunity, in the House of Commons, of saying a few words on such parts of my conduct as seemed not to be sufficiently understood: and I flatter myself I should have been able to make it appear, that I acted up to the utmost of my powers, from the beginning to the end of my command; and that none of the misfortunes of the very unfortunate campaign of 1781 can, with the smallest degree of justice, be imputed to me.

But I arrived here so late in the session, that I was advised to defer it; and it was judged that the gracious reception I had just met with from my Sovereign rendered an immediate explanation unnecessary. I was not, however, apprised to what degree the public prejudice had been excited against me else, I should probably have been induced to have taken an earlier opportunity of offering to Parliament what I have to say on the subject. But the late change in public affairs, furnishing so much more important matter for their deliberation, deprived me of the opportunity I thought I should have had: and, as by the present recess it is probable that I may not be able to execute my intentions before a late period, when perhaps peculiar circumstances might force me through delicacy to decline it, I beg leave to lay before the public the following plain Narrative, which will, I trust, remove prejudice and error.

I have much to regret that, when this business was discussed in the House of Lords last session of Parliament, the whole of my correspondence with the late American Minister, Lieutenant General Earl Cornwallis, and the Admirals commanding on the West-India and American stations, was not produced, or at least such parts thereof as, being necessary to explain my conduct, might have appeared consistently with state policy. Because the letters which compose that correspondence, being written to the moment as events happened, are certainly the most faithful records of my actions and intentions; and are consequently the clearest, fairest, and most unexceptionable testimonies I can adduce in their support. I hope, therefore, I shall stand exculpated from the necessity of the case, for any impropriety there may be in my annexing to this letter such of them as I may judge most requisite for that purpose. Three of them indeed, will, I presume, be found very material, (Appendix No. IX.) as they contain my answers and observations upon Lord Cornwallis’s letters of the 20th of October and 2d of December on the subject of the unfortunate conclusion of the last campaign in the Chesapeak; —which latter I am sorry to observe, were given to the public, while mine in answer were witheld from it; —I hope without design.

Although I never dared promise myself that any exertions of mine, with my very reduced force (nearly one-third less than that of my predecessor) could bring the war to a happy conclusion; yet I confess that the campaign of 1781 terminated very differently from what I once flattered myself it would; as may appear, by the subjoined extracts of lettes, written in the beginning of that year, and which were transmitted to the Minister. I was led, however, into these hopes, more by the apparent distresses of the enemy than any material success we had met with. . . .

 

NUMBER IX.

Copy of a Letter from Sir Henry Clinto to Earl Cornwallis, dated New York, 2d and 10th December, 1781

[This letter was not read in the House of Lords.]

My Lord,

As your Lordship is please, in your letter of this day, to revert to the circumstance of your quitting Williamsburg Neck and repassing the James River, so contrary to the intentions I wished to express in my letters of the 11th and 15th of June, and those referred to by them, and which I thought they would have clearly explained. Your Lordship will, I hope, forgive me, if I once more repeat that I am of opinion, if those letters had been properly understood by your Lordship, you would at least have hesitated before you adopted that measure. For I humbly presume it will appear, upon a reperusal of them, that it was my desire to recommend to your Lordship the taking a healthy defensive station, either at Williamsburg or York; and, after keeping what troops you might want for the ample defence of such a post, and sesultory movements by water, so send me such a proportion of the corps (mentioned in a list) as you could spare, taking them in the succession they are there placed. YOur Lordship, on the contrary understood these as conveying a positive order to send me three thousand men, (by which you say your force would have been reduced to about two thousand four hundred rank and file fit for duty; —having, it is presumed, above 1500 sick) and was pleased to tell me, in your anser, that you could not, consisten with my plans, make safe defensive posts at York and Gloucester, (both of which would be necessary for the protection of shipping): and that you should immediately repass James River, and take measures for complying with my requisition.

I own, my Lord, that my opinion of the obvious meaning of the letters referred to, continues still the same; and I am exceedingly sorry to find, by the letter you have now honoured me with, that it differs so widely from your Lordship’s. It is plain, however, we cannot both be in the right. . . .

[SEE ALSO: AN ANSWER TO THE NARRATIVE OF SIR HENRY CLINTON and SIR HENRY CLINTON’S RESPONSE TO CORNWALLIS’ ANSWER]

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Filed under American Revolution, Eighteenth century, Great Britain, Military, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: A New Discourse of Trade [1745]

Full Title: A New Discourse of Trade: Wherein Are recommended several weighty Points, relating to Companies of Merchants; The Act of Navigation, Naturalization of Strangers, and our Woollen Manufactures. The Balance of Trade, And Nature of Plantations; with their Consequences, in relation to the Kingdom, are seriously discussed. Methods for the Employment and Maintenance of the Poor are proposed. The Reduction of Interest of Money to 4 l. per cent. is recommended. And some Proposals for erecting a Court of Merchants, for determining Controversies relating to Maritime Affairs, and for a Law for Transferring of Bills of Debts, are humbly offer’d. To which is added, A short, but most excellent Treatise of Interest. By Sir Josiah Child, Baronet. Fourth Edition. London: Printed for J. Hodges, on London-Bridge; W. Meadows at the Angel in Cornhill; C. Corbet, against St. Dunstan’s Churdd, Fleet Stree; J. Jackson, at St. James Gate; J. Stagg, in Westminster-Hall; and J. Bevill, near S. Saviours Church, Southwark, [1745].

 

CHAP. II.

Concerning the Relief and Employment of the Poor.

 

THIS is a calm subject, and thwarts no common or private interest amongst us, except that of the common enemy of mankind, the Devil; so I hope that what shall be offered towards the effecting of so universally acceptable a work as this, and the removal of the innumerable inconveniencies that do now, and have in all ages attended this Kingdom, through defect of such provision for the Poor will not be ill taken , altho’ the plaister at first essay do not exactly fit the sore.

In the discourse of this subject, I shall first assert some particuclars, which I think are agreed by common consent, and from thence take occasion to proceed to what is more doubtful.

1.  That our Poor in England have always been in a most sad and wretched condition, some famished for want of bread, others starved with cold and nakedness, and many whole families in the out-parts of cities and great towns, commonly remain in a langishing, nasty, and useless condition, uncomfortable to themselves, and unprofitable to the Kingdom, this in confessed and lamented by all men.

2.  That the Children of our Poor bred up in beggary and laziness, do by that means become not only of unhealthy bodies, and more than ordinarily subject to many loathsome diseases, of which very many die in their tender age, and if any of them do arrive to years and strength, they are, by their idle habits contracted in their youth, rendered for ever after indisposed to labour, and serve but to stock the Kingdom with thieves and beggars.

3.  That if all our impotent Poor were provided for, and those of both sexes and all ages that can do any work of any kind, employed, it would redound some hundred of thousands of pounds per annum to the publick advantage.

4.  That it is our duty to god and Nature, so to provide for, and employ the Poor.

5.  That by so doing one of the great sins, for which this land ought to mourn, would be removed.

6. That our Forefathers had pious intentions towards this good work, as appears by many statutes made by them to this purpose.

7.  That there are places in the world, wherein the poor are so provided for, and employed, as in Holland, Hamborough, New-England, and others, and as I am informed, now in the city of Paris.

Thus far we all agree: the first question then that naturally occurs, is,

Question 1. How comes it to pass that in England we do not, nor ever did, comfortably maintain and employ our Poor?

The common answers to this question are two.

1.  That our Laws to this purpose are as good as any in the world, but we fail in the execution.

2.  That formerly in the days of our pious ancestors the work was done, but now charity is deceased, and that is the reason we see the Poor so neglected as now they are.

In both which answers, I humbly conceive, the effect is mistaken for the cause; for though it cannot be denied, but there has been, and is, a great failure in the execution of those Statutes which relate to the Poor, yet I say, the cause of that failure, has been occasioned by defect of the laws themselves.

For otherwise, what is the reason that in our late times of confusion and alteration, wherein almost every party in the Nation, at one time or other, took their turn at the helm, and all had that compass, those laws, to steer by, that none of them could, or ever did, conduct the Poor into a harbour of security to them, and profit for the Kingdom, i.e. none sufficiently maintained the impotent, and employed the indigent amongst us: And if this was never done in any age, nor by any sort of men whatsoever in this Kingdom, who had the use of those laws now in force, it seems to me a very strong argument that it never could, nor ever will be done by those laws, and that consequently the defect lies in the laws themselves, not in the men, i. e. those that should put them in execution.

As to the second answer to the aforesaid question, wherein want of charity is assigned for another cause why the poor are now so much neglected, I think it is a scandalous ungrounded accusation of our contemporaries, except in relation to building of Churches, which I confess this generation is not so propense to as former have been, for most that I converse with, are not so much troubled to part with their money, as how to place it, that it may do good, and not hurt the Kingdom: for, if they give to the beggrs in the streets, or at their doors, they fear they may do hurt by encouraging that lazy unprofitable kind of life; and if they give more than their proportions in thier respective parishes, that, they say, is but giving to the rich, for the poor are not set on work thereby, nor have the more given them; but only their rich neighbours pay the less. And of what was given in churches to the visited poor, and to such as were impoverished by the fire; we have heard of so many and great abuses of that kind of charity, that most men are under sad discouragements in relation thereto. . . .

 

 

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Item of the Day: Polybius, translated by Edward Spelman (1743)

Full Title: A Fragment Out of the Sixth Book of Polybius, Containing a Dissertation upon Government in general, particularly applied to That of the Romans, together with a Description of the several Powers of Consuls, Senate, and People of Rome. Translated from the Greek with Notes. To which is prefixed a Preface, wherein the System of Polybius is applied to the Government of England: And, to the above-mentioned Fragment concerning the Powers of the Senate, is annexed a Dissertation upon the Constitution of it. By a Gentleman. London: Printed by J. Tettenham, and sold by W. Meyer . . . , M.DCC.XLIII. [1743].

 

Of the several FORMS of GOVERNMENT: Of the Origin, and natural Transition of those Governments to one another: That the best Constitution is That, which is compounded of all of them; and that the Constitution of the Romans is such a one.

Concerning those Greek Commonwealths, which have often encreased in Power, and often, to their Ruine, experienced a contrary Turn of Fortune, it is an easy Matter both to relate past Transactions, and foretel those to come; there being no great Difficulty, either in recounting what one knows, or in publishing Conjectures of future Events, from those that are past. But concerning the Roman commonwealth, it is not at all easy, either to give an account of the present State of their Affairs, by Reason of the Variety of their Institutions; or to foretel what may happen to them, through the Ignorance of the peculiar Frame of their government, both publick and private, upon which such Conjectures must be founded. For which Reason, an uncommon Attention and Enquiry seem requisite, to form a clear Idea of the Points, in which the Roman Commonwealth differs from Those of Greece.

It is, I find, customary with those, who professedly treat this Subject, to establish three Sorts of Government; kindly Government, Aristocracy, and Democracy: Upon which, one may, I think, very properly ask them, whether they lay these down as the only Forms of Government, or, as the best: For, in both Cases, they seem to be in an Error; since it is manifest that the best Form of Government is That which is compounded of all three. This we not only find to be founded in Reason, but also in Experience; Lycurgus having set the Example of this Form of Goverment in the Institution of the Lacedaemonian Commonwealth. Besides, these three are not to be received as the only Forms; since we may have observed some monarchical and tyrannical Governments, which, though widely different from kingly Government, seem still to bear some Resemblance to it. For which Reason, all Monarchs agree in using their utmost Endeavours, however falsely, or abusively, to be styled Kings. We may have also observed still more Oligarchies, which seemed, in some Degree, to resemble Artistocracies, though the Difference between them has been extremely great. The same Thing may be said also of Democracy.

What I have advanced, will become evident from the following Considerations; for, every Monarchy is not presently to be called a kingly Government, but only That, which is the Gift of a willing People, and is founded on their Consent, rather than on Fear and Violence. Neither, is every Oligarchy to be looked upon as Aristocracy, but only That, which is administered by a select Number of those, who are most eminent for their Justice and Prudence. In the same Manner, that Government ought not to be looked upon as a Democracy, where the Multitude have a Power of doing whatever they desire and propose; but That only, in which it is an established Law and Custom to worship the Gods, to honour their Parents, to respect their Elders, and obey the Laws; when, in Assemblies so formed, every Thing is decided by the Majority, such a Government deserves the Name of a Democracy.

So that, six Kinds of Government must be allowed; three, which are generally established, and have been already mentioned; and three, that are allied to them, namely, Monarchy, Oligarchy and the Government of the Multitude. The first of these is instituted by Nature, without the Assistance of Art: The next is kingly Government, which is derived from the other by Art, and Improvement; when this degenerates into the Evil, that is allied to it, I mean, Tyranny, the Destruction of the Tyrant gives Birth to Aristocracy; which, degenerating also, according to the Nature of Things, into Oligarchy, the People, inflamed with Anger, revenge the Injustice of their Magistrates, and form a Democracy; from the Insolence of which, and their Contempt of the Laws, arises, in Time, the Government of the Multitude.

Whoever examines, with Attention, the natural Principles, the Birth, and Revolution of each of these Forms of Government, will be convinced of the Truth of what I have advanced: For he alone, who knows in what Manner each of them is produced, can form a Judgment of the Encrease, the Perfection, the Revolution, and the End of each; and when, by what Means, and to which of the former States they will return. I thought this Detail, in a particular Manner, applicable to the Roman Government, because the Establishment and Encrease of That was, from the Beginning, founded on Nature. . . .

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Filed under 1740's, Constitution, Eighteenth century, Government, Greek/Roman Translations, Political Philosophy, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Roman Empire

Item of the Day: The Works of Sallust (1744)

Full Title: The Works of Sallust, Translated into English. With Political Discourse upon that Author. To which is added, a Translation of Cicero’s Four Orations Against Catiline. London: Printed for T. Woodward, and J. Peele; and sold by J. Osborn, at the Golden Ball in Pater-noster Row, MDCCXLIV. [1744]

 

DISCOURSE I.

Of Faction and Parties.

________________________

SECT. I.

How easily the People are led into Faction, and kept in it, by their own Heat and Prejudices, and the Arts of their Leaders; how hard they are to be cured; and with what Partiality and Injustice each Side treats the other.

SALLUST observes, “That whoever raised Civil Dissentions in the Commonwealth, used plausible Pretences; some seeming to vindicate the Rights of the People; others to exalt the Authority of the Senate; Both Sorts to pursue the public Good; yet all only striving severally to procure Weight and Power to themselves. Neither, in these their Civil Contests, did any of them observe Moderation or Bounds: Whatever Party conquered, still used their Victory with Violence and Inhumanity.” This, I doubt, is true of all Parties in their Pursuits and Success: I have, therefore, thought it pertinent to discourse here at large upon Faction and Parties.

The People are so apt to be drawn into Faction, and blindly to pursue the Steps of their Leaders, generally to their own special Prejudice, Loss, and Disquiet, if not to their utter Ruin, that he who would sincerely serve them, cannot do it more effectually, than by warning them against such ready and implicit Attachment to Names and Notions, however popular and plausible. From this evil Root have sprung many of the sore Calamities that, almost every-where, afflict Mankind. Without it the world had been happily ignorant of Tyranny and Slavery, the Two mighty Plagues that now haunt and devour the most and best Parts of it; together the subordinate and introductory Miseries, of national Discord, Devastation, and Civil War.

People, as well as Princes,  have been often undone by their Favourites. A great Man amongst them, perhaps, happened to be cried up for his fine Actions, or fine Qualities, both often overrated; and became presently their Idol, and they trusted him without Reserve: For their Love, like their Hate, is generally immoderate; not from a Man who has done them, or can do them, much Good, have they any Apprehension of Evil; till some Rival for their Affection appear superior to their first Favourite in Art of Fortune; one who persuades them, that the other has abused them, and seeks their Ruin. Then, it is like, they make a sudden Turn, set up the latter against the former; and, having conceived an immoderate Opinion of HIm, too, put immoderate Confidence in him; not that they are sure that the other had wronged them, or abused his Trust, but take it for granted, and punish him upon Presumption; trusting to the Arts and Accusations of their new Leader, who probably had deceived and inflamed them. . . .

They may possibly commit themselves to the Guidance of a Man, who certainly means them well, and seeks no base Advantage to himself: But such Instances are so rare, that the Experiment is never to be tried. Men, especially Men of Ambition, who are the forwardest to grasp at such an Office, do, chiefly, and in the first Place, consider Themselves; and, whilst guided by Partiality for themselves, cannot judge indifferently. Such a Man, measuring Reason and Justice by his Interest, may think, that it is right, that the People should always be deceived, should always be kept low, and under a severe Yoke, to hinder them from judging for Themselves, and throwing off Him, and to prevent their growing wanton and ungovernable. In short, the Fact is, (almost eternally) That their Leader only finds his Account in leading them, and They never, in being led. They make him considerable; that is, throw him into the Way of Power and Profit: This is his Point and End; and, in Consideration of all this, what does do he he for them? At best, he generally leaves them where he found them. Yet this is tolerable, nay, kind, in comparison of what oftener happens: Probably he has raised Feuds and Animosties amongst them, not to end in an Hundred Years; Fuel for intestine Wars; a Spirit of Licentiousness and Rebellion, or of Folly and Slavery.

In the midst of the Heats, and Zeal, and Divisions, into which they are drawn, for This Man against That, are they ever thoroughly apprised of the Merits and Source of the Dispute? Are they Masters of the real Fact, sufficent for accusing one, or for applauding another? Scarce ever. What Information they have, they have generally no Information at all; but only a few Cant Words, such as will always serve to animate a Mob; “I am for John: He is our Friend, and very honest. I am against Thomas: He is our worst Enemy, and very wicked, and deserves to be punished.” And so say They who have taken a Fancy to Thomas, and are prejudiced against John. When it is likely, that neither John or Thomas have done them much Harm, or much Good; or, perhaps, both John and Thomas study to delude and enthral them. But, when Passion prevails, Reason is not heard . . .

 

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Filed under 1740's, Eighteenth century, Government, Greek/Roman Translations, History, Political Commentary, Posted by Caroline Fuchs