The Works of Samuel Johnson, Vol. 6 - Reviews, Political Tracts, and Lives of Eminent Persons
by Samuel Johnson
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Letter on Du Halde's history of China.

Review of the account of the conduct of the dutchess of Marlborough.

Review of memoirs of the court of Augustus.

Review of four letters from sir Isaac Newton.

Review of a journal of eight days' journey.

Reply to a paper in the Gazetteer.

Review of an essay on the writings and genius of Pope.

Review of a free enquiry into the nature and origin of evil.

Review of the history of the Royal Society of London, &c.

Review of the general history of Polybius.

Review of miscellanies on moral and religious subjects.

Account of a book entitled an historical and critical enquiry into the evidence produced by the earls of Moray and Morton against Mary queen of Scots, &c.

Marmor Norfolciense; or, an essay on an ancient prophetical inscription in monkish rhyme, lately discovered near Lynn, in Norfolk.

Observations on the state of affairs in 1756.

An introduction to the political state of Great Britain.

Observations on the treaty between his Britannic majesty and his imperial majesty of all the Russias, &c.

Introduction to the proceedings of the committee appointed to manage the contributions for clothing French prisoners of war.

On the bravery of the English common soldiers.


Prefatory observations to political tracts.

The False Alarm. 1770.

Prefatory observations on Falkland's islands.

Thoughts on the late transactions respecting Falkland's islands.

The Patriot.

Taxation no tyranny; an answer to the resolutions and address of the American congress. 1775.


Father Paul Sarpi.



Sir Francis Drake.


Additional account of the life of Barretier in the Gentleman's Magazine, 1742.






King of Prussia.





There are few nations in the world more talked of, or less known, than the Chinese. The confused and imperfect account which travellers have given of their grandeur, their sciences, and their policy, have, hitherto, excited admiration, but have not been sufficient to satisfy even a superficial curiosity. I, therefore, return you my thanks for having undertaken, at so great an expense, to convey to English readers the most copious and accurate account, yet published, of that remote and celebrated people, whose antiquity, magnificence, power, wisdom, peculiar customs, and excellent constitution, undoubtedly deserve the attention of the publick.

As the satisfaction found in reading descriptions of distant countries arises from a comparison which every reader naturally makes, between the ideas which he receives from the relation, and those which were familiar to him before; or, in other words, between the countries with which he is acquainted, and that which the author displays to his imagination; so it varies according to the likeness or dissimilitude of the manners of the two nations. Any custom or law, unheard and unthought of before, strikes us with that surprise which is the effect of novelty; but a practice conformable to our own pleases us, because it flatters our self-love, by showing us that our opinions are approved by the general concurrence of mankind. Of these two pleasures, the first is more violent, the other more lasting; the first seems to partake more of instinct than reason, and is not easily to be explained, or defined; the latter has its foundation in good sense and reflection, and evidently depends on the same principles with most human passions.

An attentive reader will frequently feel each of these agreeable emotions in the perusal of Du Halde. He will find a calm, peaceful satisfaction, when he reads the moral precepts and wise instructions of the Chinese sages; he will find that virtue is in every place the same; and will look with new contempt on those wild reasoners, who affirm, that morality is merely ideal, and that the distinctions between good and ill are wholly chimerical.

But he will enjoy all the pleasure that novelty can afford, when he becomes acquainted with the Chinese government and constitution; he will be amazed to find that there is a country where nobility and knowledge are the same, where men advance in rank as they advance in learning, and promotion is the effect of virtuous industry; where no man thinks ignorance a mark of greatness, or laziness the privilege of high birth.

His surprise will be still heightened by the relations he will there meet with, of honest ministers, who, however incredible it may seem, have been seen more than once in that monarchy, and have adventured to admonish the emperours of any deviation from the laws of their country, or any errour in their conduct, that has endangered either their own safety, or the happiness of their people. He will read of emperours, who, when they have been addressed in this manner, have neither stormed, nor threatened, nor kicked their ministers, nor thought it majestick to be obstinate in the wrong; but have, with a greatness of mind worthy of a Chinese monarch, brought their actions willingly to the test of reason, law, and morality, and scorned to exert their power in defence of that which they could not support by argument.

I must confess my wonder at these relations was very great, and had been much greater, had I not often entertained my imagination with an instance of the like conduct in a prince of England, on an occasion that happened not quite a century ago, and which I shall relate, that so remarkable an example of spirit and firmness in a subject, and of conviction and compliance in a prince, may not be forgotten. And I hope you will look upon this letter as intended to do honour to my country, and not to serve your interest by promoting your undertaking.

The prince, at the christening of his first son, had appointed a noble duke to stand as proxy for the father of the princess, without regard to the claim of a marquis, (heir apparent to a higher title,) to whom, as lord of the bedchamber, then in waiting, that honour properly belonged. —The marquis was wholly unacquainted with the affair, till he heard, at dinner, the duke's health drunk, by the name of the prince he was that evening to represent. This he took an opportunity, after dinner, of inquiring the reason of, and was informed, by the prince's treasurer, of his highness's intention. The marquis immediately declared, that he thought his right invaded, and his honour injured, which he could not bear without requiring satisfaction from the usurper of his privileges; nor would he longer serve a prince who paid no regard to his lawful pretensions. The treasurer could not deny that the marquis's claim was incontestable, and, by his permission, acquainted the prince with his resolution. The prince, thereupon, sending for the marquis, demanded, with a resentful and imperious air, how he could dispute his commands, and by what authority he presumed to control him in the management of his own family, and the christening of his own son. The marquis answered, that he did not encroach upon the prince's right, but only defended his own: that he thought his honour concerned, and, as he was a young man, would not enter the world with the loss of his reputation. The prince, exasperated to a very high degree, repeated his commands; but the marquis, with a spirit and firmness not to be depressed or shaken, persisted in his determination to assert his claim, and concluded with declaring that he would do himself the justice that was denied him; and that not the prince himself should trample on his character. He was then ordered to withdraw, and the duke coming to him, assured him, that the honour was offered him unasked; that when he accepted it, he was not informed of his lordship's claim, and that now he very willingly resigned it. The marquis very gracefully acknowledged the civility of the duke's expressions, and declared himself satisfied with his grace's conduct; but thought it inconsistent with his honour to accept the representation as a cession of the duke, or on any other terms than as his own acknowledged right. The prince, being informed of the whole conversation, and having, upon inquiry, found all the precedents on the marquis's side, thought it below his dignity to persist in an errour, and, restoring the marquis to his right upon his own conditions, continued him in his favour, believing that he might safely trust his affairs in the hands of a man, who had so nice a sense of honour, and so much spirit to assert it.


The universal regard, which is paid by mankind to such accounts of publick transactions as have been written by those who were engaged in them, may be, with great probability, ascribed to that ardent love of truth, which nature has kindled in the breast of man, and which remains even where every other laudable passion is extinguished. We cannot but read such narratives with uncommon curiosity, because we consider the writer as indubitably possessed of the ability to give us just representations, and do not always reflect, that, very often, proportionate to the opportunities of knowing the truth, are the temptations to disguise it.

Authors of this kind have, at least, an incontestable superiority over those whose passions are the same, and whose knowledge is less. It is evident that those who write in their own defence, discover often more impartiality, and less contempt of evidence, than the advocates which faction or interest have raised in their favour.

It is, however, to be remembered, that the parent of all memoirs, is the ambition of being distinguished from the herd of mankind, and the fear of either infamy or oblivion, passions which cannot but have some degree of influence, and which may, at least, affect the writer's choice of facts, though they may not prevail upon him to advance known falsehoods. He may aggravate or extenuate particular circumstances, though he preserves the general transaction; as the general likeness may be preserved in painting, though a blemish is hid or a beauty improved.

Every man that is solicitous about the esteem of others, is, in a great degree, desirous of his own, and makes, by consequence, his first apology for his conduct to himself; and when he has once deceived his own heart, which is, for the greatest part, too easy a task, he propagates the deceit in the world, without reluctance or consciousness of falsehood.

But to what purpose, it may be asked, are such reflections, except to produce a general incredulity, and to make history of no use? The man who knows not the truth cannot, and he who knows it, will not tell it; what then remains, but to distrust every relation, and live in perpetual negligence of past events; or, what is still more disagreeable, in perpetual suspense?

That by such remarks some incredulity is, indeed, produced, cannot be denied; but distrust is a necessary qualification of a student in history. Distrust quickens his discernment of different degrees of probability, animates his search after evidence, and, perhaps, heightens his pleasure at the discovery of truth; for truth, though not always obvious, is generally discoverable; nor is it any where more likely to be found than in private memoirs, which are generally published at a time when any gross falsehood may be detected by living witnesses, and which always contain a thousand incidents, of which the writer could not have acquired a certain knowledge, and which he has no reason for disguising.

Such is the account lately published by the dutchess of Marlborough, of her own conduct, by which those who are very little concerned about the character which it is principally intended to preserve or to retrieve, may be entertained and instructed. By the perusal of this account, the inquirer into human nature may obtain an intimate acquaintance with the characters of those whose names have crowded the latest histories, and discover the relation between their minds and their actions. The historian may trace the progress of great transactions, and discover the secret causes of important events. And, to mention one use more, the polite writer may learn an unaffected dignity of style, and an artful simplicity of narration.

The method of confirming her relation, by inserting, at length, the letters that every transaction occasioned, has not only set the greatest part of the work above the danger of confutation, but has added to the entertainment of the reader, who has now the satisfaction of forming to himself the characters of the actors, and judging how nearly such, as have hitherto been given of them, agree with those which they now give of themselves.

Even of those whose letters could not be made publick, we have a more exact knowledge than can be expected from general histories, because we see them in their private apartments, in their careless hours, and observe those actions in which they indulged their own inclinations, without any regard to censure or applause.

Thus it is, that we are made acquainted with the disposition of king William, of whom it may be collected, from various instances, that he was arbitrary, insolent, gloomy, rapacious, and brutal; that he was, at all times, disposed to play the tyrant; that he had, neither in great things, nor in small, the manners of a gentleman; that he was capable of gaining money by mean artifices, and that he only regarded his promise when it was his interest to keep it.

There are, doubtless, great numbers who will be offended with this delineation of the mind of the immortal William, but they whose honesty or sense enables them to consider impartially the events of his reign, will now be enabled to discover the reason of the frequent oppositions which he encountered, and of the personal affronts which he was, sometimes, forced to endure. They will observe, that it is not always sufficient to do right, and that it is often necessary to add gracefulness to virtue. They will recollect how vain it is to endeavour to gain men by great qualities, while our cursory behaviour is insolent and offensive; and that those may be disgusted by little things, who can scarcely be pleased with great.

Charles the second, by his affability and politeness, made himself the idol of the nation, which he betrayed and sold. William the third was, for his insolence and brutality, hated by that people, which he protected and enriched:—had the best part of these two characters been united in one prince, the house of Bourbon had fallen before him.

It is not without pain, that the reader observes a shade encroaching upon the light with which the memory of queen Mary has been hitherto invested—the popular, the beneficent, the pious, the celestial queen Mary, from whose presence none ever withdrew without an addition to his happiness. What can be charged upon this delight of human kind? Nothing less than that she wanted bowels, and was insolent with her power; that she was resentful, and pertinacious in her resentment; that she descended to mean acts of revenge, when heavier vengeance was not in her power; that she was desirous of controlling where she had no authority, and backward to forgive, even when she had no real injury to complain of.

This is a character so different from all those that have been, hitherto, given of this celebrated princess, that the reader stands in suspense, till he considers the inconsistencies in human conduct, remembers that no virtue is without its weakness, and considers that queen Mary's character has, hitherto, had this great advantage, that it has only been compared with those of kings.

The greatest number of the letters inserted in this account, were written by queen Anne, of which it may be truly observed, that they will be equally useful for the, confutation of those who have exalted or depressed her character. They are written with great purity and correctness, without any forced expressions, affected phrases, or unnatural sentiments; and show uncommon clearness of understanding, tenderness of affection, and rectitude of intention; but discover, at the same time, a temper timorous, anxious, and impatient of misfortune; a tendency to burst into complaints, helpless dependance on the affection of others, and a weak desire of moving compassion. There is, indeed, nothing insolent or overbearing; but then there is nothing great, or firm, or regal; nothing that enforces obedience and respect, or which does not rather invite opposition and petulance. She seems born for friendship, not for government; and to be unable to regulate the conduct of others, otherwise than by her own example.

That this character is just, appears from the occurrences in her reign, in which the nation was governed, for many years, by a party whose principles she detested, but whose influence she knew not how to obviate, and to whose schemes she was subservient against her inclination.

The charge of tyrannising over her, which was made, by turns, against each party, proves that, in the opinion of both, she was easily to be governed; and though it may be supposed, that the letters here published were selected with some regard to respect and ceremony, it appears, plainly enough, from them, that she was what she has been represented, little more than the slave of the Marlborough family.

The inferiour characters, as they are of less importance, are less accurately delineated; the picture of Harley is, at least, partially drawn: all the deformities are heightened, and the beauties, for beauties of mind he certainly had, are entirely omitted.




The first effect, which this book has upon the reader, is that of disgusting him with the author's vanity. He endeavours to persuade the world, that here are some new treasures of literature spread before his eyes; that something is discovered, which, to this happy day, had been concealed in darkness; that, by his diligence, time has been robbed of some valuable monument which he was on the point of devouring; and that names and facts, doomed to oblivion, are now restored to fame.

How must the unlearned reader be surprised, when he shall be told that Mr. Blackwell has neither digged in the ruins of any demolished city, nor found out the way to the library of Fez; nor had a single book in his hands, that has not been in the possession of every man that was inclined to read it, for years and ages; and that his book relates to a people, who, above all others, have furnished employment to the studious, and amusements to the idle; who have scarcely left behind them a coin or a stone, which has not been examined and explained a thousand times; and whose dress, and food, and household stuff, it has been the pride of learning to understand.

A man need not fear to incur the imputation of vicious diffidence or affected humility, who should have forborne to promise many novelties, when he perceived such multitudes of writers possessed of the same materials, and intent upon the same purpose. Mr. Blackwell knows well the opinion of Horace, concerning those that open their undertakings with magnificent promises; and he knows, likewise, the dictates of common sense and common honesty, names of greater authority than that of Horace, who direct, that no man should promise what he cannot perform.

I do not mean to declare, that this volume has nothing new, or that the labours of those who have gone before our author, have made his performance an useless addition to the burden of literature. New works may be constructed with old materials; the disposition of the parts may show contrivance; the ornaments interspersed may discover elegance.

It is not always without good effect, that men, of proper qualifications, write, in succession, on the same subject, even when the latter add nothing to the information given by the former; for the same ideas may be delivered more intelligibly or more delightfully by one than by another, or with attractions that may lure minds of a different form. No writer pleases all, and every writer may please some.

But, after all, to inherit is not to acquire; to decorate is not to make; and the man, who had nothing to do but to read the ancient authors, who mention the Roman affairs, and reduce them to common places, ought not to boast himself as a great benefactor to the studious world.

After a preface of boast, and a letter of flattery, in which he seems to imitate the address of Horace, in his "vile potabis modicis Sabinum"—he opens his book with telling us, that the "Roman republic, after the horrible proscription, was no more at bleeding Rome. The regal power of her consuls, the authority of her senate, and the majesty of her people, were now trampled under foot; these [for those] divine laws and hallowed customs, that had been the essence of her constitution—were set at nought, and her best friends were lying exposed in their blood."

These were surely very dismal times to those who suffered; but I know not, why any one but a schoolboy, in his declamation, should whine over the commonwealth of Rome, which grew great only by the misery of the rest of mankind. The Romans, like others, as soon as they grew rich, grew corrupt, and, in their corruption, sold the lives and freedoms of themselves, and of one another.

"About this time, Brutus had his patience put to the highest trial: he had been married to Clodia; but whether the family did not please him, or whether he was dissatisfied with the lady's behaviour during his absence, he soon entertained thoughts of a separation. This raised a good deal of talk, and the women of the Clodian family inveighed bitterly against Brutus—but he married Portia, who was worthy of such a father as M. Cato, and such a husband as M. Brutus. She had a soul capable of an exalted passion, and found a proper object to raise and give it a sanction; she did not only love but adored her husband; his worth, his truth, his every shining and heroic quality, made her gaze on him like a god, while the endearing returns of esteem and tenderness she met with, brought her joy, her pride, her every wish to centre in her beloved Brutus."

When the reader has been awakened by this rapturous preparation, he hears the whole story of Portia in the same luxuriant style, till she breathed out her last, a little before the bloody proscription, and "Brutus complained heavily of his friends at Rome, as not having paid due attention to his lady in the declining state of her health."

He is a great lover of modern terms. His senators and their wives are gentlemen and ladies. In this review of Brutus's army, who was under the command of gallant men, not braver officers than true patriots, he tells us, "that Sextus, the questor, was paymaster, secretary at war, and commissary general; and that the sacred discipline of the Romans required the closest connexion, like that of father and son, to subsist between the general of an army and his questor. Cicero was general of the cavalry, and the next general officer was Flavius, master of Ihe artillery, the elder Lentulus was admiral, and the younger rode in the band of volunteers; under these the tribunes, with many others, too tedious to name." Lentulus, however, was but a subordinate officer; for we are informed afterwards, that the Romans had made Sextus Pompeius lord high admiral in all the seas of their dominions. Among other affectations of this writer, is a furious and unnecessary zeal for liberty; or rather, for one form of government as preferable to another. This, indeed, might be suffered, because political institution is a subject in which men have always differed, and, if they continue to obey their lawful governours, and attempt not to make innovations, for the sake of their favourite schemes, they may differ for ever, without any just reproach from one another. But who can bear the hardy champion, who ventures nothing? who, in full security, undertakes the defence of the assassination of Cassar, and declares his resolution to speak plain? Yet let not just sentiments be overlooked: he has justly observed, that the greater part of mankind will be naturally prejudiced against Brutus, for all feel the benefits of private friendship; but few can discern the advantages of a well-constituted government [3].

We know not whether some apology may not be necessary for the distance between the first account of this book and its continuation. The truth is, that this work, not being forced upon our attention by much publick applause or censure, was sometimes neglected, and sometimes forgotten; nor would it, perhaps, have been now resumed, but that we might avoid to disappoint our readers by an abrupt desertion of any subject.

It is not our design to criticise the facts of this history, but the style; not the veracity, but the address of the writer; for, an account of the ancient Romans, as it cannot nearly interest any present reader, and must be drawn from writings that have been long known, can owe its value only to the language in which it is delivered, and the reflections with which it is accompanied. Dr. Blackwell, however, seems to have heated his imagination, so as to be much affected with every event, and to believe that he can affect others. Enthusiasm is, indeed, sufficiently contagious; but I never found any of his readers much enamoured of the glorious Pompey, the patriot approv'd, or much incensed against the lawless Caesar, whom this author, probably, stabs every day and night in his sleeping or waking dreams.

He is come too late into the world with his fury for freedom, with his Brutus and Cassius. We have all, on this side of the Tweed, long since settled our opinions: his zeal for Roman liberty and declamations against the violators of the republican constitution, only stand now in the reader's way, who wishes to proceed in the narrative without the interruption of epithets and exclamations. It is not easy to forbear laughter at a man so bold in fighting shadows, so busy in a dispute two thousand years past, and so zealous for the honour of a people, who, while they were poor, robbed mankind, and, as soon as they became rich, robbed one another. Of these robberies our author seems to have no very quick sense, except when they are committed by Caesar's party, for every act is sanctified by the name of a patriot.

If this author's skill in ancient literature were less generally acknowledged, one might sometimes suspect, that he had too frequently consulted the French writers. He tells us, that Archelaus, the Rhodian, made a speech to Cassius, and, in so saying, dropt some tears; and that Cassius, after the reduction of Rhodes, was covered with glory.—Deiotarus was a keen and happy spirit—the ingrate Castor kept his court.

His great delight is to show his universal acquaintance with terms of art, with words that every other polite writer has avoided and despised. When Pompey conquered the pirates, he destroyed fifteen hundred ships of the line.—The Xanthian parapets were tore down.—Brutus, suspecting that his troops were plundering, commanded the trumpets to sound to their colours.—Most people understood the act of attainder passed by the senate.—The Numidian troopers were unlikely in their appearance.— The Numidians beat up one quarter after another.—Salvidienus resolved to pass his men over, in boats of leather, and he gave orders for equipping a sufficient number of that sort of small craft.—Pompey had light, agile frigates, and fought in a strait, where the current and caverns occasion swirls and a roll.—A sharp out-look was kept by the admiral.—It is a run of about fifty Roman miles.—Brutus broke Lipella in the sight of the army.—Mark Antony garbled the senate. He was a brave man, well qualified for a commodore.

In his choice of phrases he frequently uses words with great solemnity, which every other mouth and pen has appropriated to jocularity and levity! The Rhodians gave up the contest, and, in poor plight, fled back to Rhodes.—Boys and girls were easily kidnapped.—Deiotarus was a mighty believer of augury.—Deiotarus destroyed his ungracious progeny.—The regularity of the Romans was their mortal aversion.—They desired the consuls to curb such heinous doings.—He had such a shrewd invention, that no side of a question came amiss to him.—Brutus found his mistress a coquettish creature.

He sometimes, with most unlucky dexterity, mixes the grand and the burlesque together; the violation of faith, sir, says Cassius, lies at the door of the Rhodians by reite-rated acts of perfidy.—The iron grate fell down, crushed those under it to death, and catched the rest as in a trap.—When the Xanthians heard the military shout, and saw the flame mount, they concluded there would be no mercy. It was now about sunset, and they had been at hot work since noon.

He has, often, words, or phrases, with which our language has hitherto had no knowledge.—One was a heart-friend to the republic—A deed was expeded.—The Numidians begun to reel, and were in hazard of falling into confusion.—The tutor embraced his pupil close in his arms.—Four hundred women were taxed, who have, no doubt, been the wives of the best Roman citizens.—Men not born to action are inconsequential in government.—Collectitious troops.—The foot, by their violent attack, began the fatal break in the Pharsaliac field.—He and his brother, with a politic, common to other countries, had taken opposite sides.

His epithets are of the gaudy or hyperbolical kind. The glorious news—eager hopes and dismal fears—bleeding Rome—divine laws and hallowed customs—merciless war—intense anxiety.

Sometimes the reader is suddenly ravished with a sonorous sentence, of which, when the noise is past, the meaning does not long remain. When Brutus set his legions to fill a moat, instead of heavy dragging and slow toil, they set about it with huzzas and racing, as if they had been striving at the Olympic games. They hurled impetuous down the huge trees and stones, and, with shouts, forced them into the water; so that the work, expected to continue half the campaign, was, with rapid toil, completed in a few days. Brutus's soldiers fell to the gate with resistless fury; it gave way, at last, with hideous crash.—This great and good man, doing his duty to his country, received a mortal wound, and glorious fell in the cause of Rome; may his memory be ever dear to all lovers of liberty, learning, and humanity! This promise ought ever to embalm his memory.—The queen of nations was torn by no foreign invader.—Rome fell a sacrifice to her own sons, and was ravaged by her unnatural offspring: all the great men of the state, all the good, all the holy, were openly murdered by the wickedest and worst.—Little islands cover the harbour of Brindisi, and form the narrow outlet from the numerous creeks that compose its capacious port.—At the appearance of Brutus and Cassius, a shout of joy rent the heavens from the surrounding multitudes.

Such are the flowers which may be gathered, by every hand, in every part of this garden of eloquence. But having thus freely mentioned our author's faults, it remains that we acknowledge his merit; and confess, that this book is the work of a man of letters, that it is full of events displayed with accuracy, and related with vivacity; and though it is sufficiently defective to crush the vanity of its author, it is sufficiently entertaining to invite readers.


Containing some arguments in proof of a Deity [4].

It will certainly be required, that notice should be taken of a book, however small, written on such a subject, by such an author. Yet I know not whether these letters will be very satisfactory; for they are answers to inquiries not published; and, therefore, though they contain many positions of great importance, are, in some parts, imperfect and obscure, by their reference to Dr. Bentley's letters.

Sir Isaac declares, that what he has done is due to nothing but industry and patient thought; and, indeed, long consideration is so necessary in such abstruse inquiries, that it is always dangerous to publish the productions of great men, which are not known to have been designed for the press, and of which it is uncertain, whether much patience and thought have been bestowed upon them. The principal question of these letters gives occasion to observe, how even the mind of Newton gains ground, gradually, upon darkness.

"As to your first query," says he, "it seems to me, that if the matter of our sun and planets, and all the matter of the universe, were evenly scattered, throughout all the heavens, and every particle had an innate gravity towards all the rest, and the whole space, throughout which this matter was scattered, was but finite, the matter on the outside of this space would, by its gravity, tend towards all the matter on the inside, and, by consequence, fall down into the middle of the whole space, and there compose one great spherical mass. But if the matter was evenly disposed throughout an infinite space, it could never convene into one mass, but some of it would convene into one mass, and some into another, so as to make an infinite number of great masses, scattered, at great distances, from one to another, throughout all that infinite space. And thus might the sun and fixed stars be formed, supposing the matter were of a lucid nature. But how the matter should divide itself into two sorts, and that part of it, which is fit to compose a shining body, should fall down into one mass, and make a sun, and the rest, which is fit to compose an opaque body, should coalesce, not into one great body, like the shining matter, but into many little ones; or, if the sun, at first, were an opaque body, like the planets, or the planets lucid bodies, like the sun, how he alone should be changed into a shining body, whilst all they continue opaque, or all they be changed into opaque ones, whilst he remains unchanged, I do not think more explicable by mere natural causes, but am forced to ascribe it to the counsel and contrivance of a voluntary agent."

The hypothesis of matter evenly disposed through infinite space, seems to labour with such difficulties, as makes it almost a contradictory supposition, or a supposition destructive of itself.

"Matter evenly disposed through infinite space," is either created or eternal; if it was created, it infers a creator; if it was eternal, it had been from eternity "evenly spread through infinite space;" or it had been once coalesced in masses, and, afterwards, been diffused. Whatever state was first must have been from eternity, and what had been from eternity could not be changed, but by a cause beginning to act, as it had never acted before, that is, by the voluntary act of some external power. If matter, infinitely and evenly diffused, was a moment without coalition, it could never coalesce at all by its own power. If matter originally tended to coalesce, it could never be evenly diffused through infinite space. Matter being supposed eternal, there never was a time, when it could be diffused before its conglobation, or conglobated before its diffusion.

This sir Isaac seems, by degrees, to have understood; for he says, in his second letter: "The reason why matter, evenly scattered through a finite space, would convene in the midst, you conceive the same with me; but, that there should be a central particle, so accurately placed in the middle, as to be always equally attracted on all sides, and, thereby, continue without motion, seems to me a supposition fully as hard as to make the sharpest needle stand upright upon its point on a looking-glass. For, if the very mathematical centre of the central particle be not accurately in the very mathematical centre of the attractive power of the whole mass, the particle will not be attracted equally on all sides. And much harder is it to suppose all the particles, in an infinite space, should be so accurately poised, one among another, as to stand still in a perfect equilibrium. For I reckon this as hard as to make not one needle only, but an infinite number of them, (so many as there are particles in an infinite space,) stand accurately poised upon their points. Yet I grant it possible, at least, by a divine power; and, if they were once to be placed, I agree with you, that they would continue in that posture without motion, for ever, unless put into new motion by the same power. When, therefore, I said, that matter evenly spread through all space, would convene, by its gravity, into one or more great masses, I understand it of matter not resting in an accurate poise."

Let not it be thought irreverence to this great name, if I observe, that by "matter evenly spread" through infinite space, he now finds it necessary to mean "matter not evenly spread." Matter not evenly spread will, indeed, convene, but it will convene as soon as it exists. And, in my opinion, this puzzling question about matter, is only, how that could be that never could have been, or what a man thinks on when he thinks on nothing.

Turn matter on all sides, make it eternal, or of late production, finite or infinite, there can be no regular system produced, but by a voluntary and meaning agent. This the great Newton always asserted, and this he asserts in the third letter; but proves, in another manner, in a manner, perhaps, more happy and conclusive.

"The hypothesis of deriving the frame of the world, by mechanical principles, from matter evenly spread through the heavens, being inconsistent with my system, I had considered it very little, before your letter put me upon it, and, therefore, trouble you with a line or two more about it, if this comes not too late for your use.

"In my former, I represented, that the diurnal rotations of the planets could not be derived from gravity, but required a divine arm to impress them. And though gravity might give the planets a motion of descent towards the sun, either directly, or with some little obliquity, yet the transverse motions, by which they revolve in their several orbs, required the divine arm to impress them, according to the tangents of their orbs. I would now add, that the hypothesis of matter's being, at first, evenly spread through the heavens, is, in my opinion, inconsistent with the hypothesis of innate gravity, without a supernatural power to reconcile them, and, therefore, it infers a deity. For, if there be innate gravity, it is impossible now for the matter of the earth, and all the planets and stars, to fly up from them, and become evenly spread throughout all the heavens, without a supernatural power; and, certainly, that which can never be hereafter, without a supernatural power, could never be heretofore, without the same power."


From Portsmouth to Kingston upon Thames, through Southampton, Wiltshire, &c. with miscellaneous thoughts, moral and religious; in sixty-four letters: addressed to two ladies of the partie. To which is added, an Essay On Tea, considered as pernicious to health, obstructing industry, and impoverishing the nation; with an account of its growth, and great consumption in these kingdoms; with several political reflections; and thoughts on publick love: in thirty-two letters to two ladies. By Mr. H. ——-.

[From the Literary Magazine, vol. ii. No. xiii. 1757.]

Our readers may, perhaps, remember, that we gave them a short account of this book, with a letter, extracted from it, in November, 1756. The author then sent us an injunction, to forbear his work, till a second edition should appear: this prohibition was rather too magisterial; for an author is no longer the sole master of a book, which he has given to the publick; yet he has been punctually obeyed; we had no desire to offend him; and, if his character may be estimated by his book, he is a man whose failings may well be pardoned for his virtues.

The second edition is now sent into the world, corrected and enlarged, and yielded up, by the author, to the attacks of criticism. But he shall find in us, no malignity of censure. We wish, indeed, that, among other corrections, he had submitted his pages to the inspection of a grammarian, that the elegancies of one line might not have been disgraced by the improprieties of another; but, with us, to mean well is a degree of merit, which overbalances much greater errours than impurity of style.

We have already given, in our collections, one of the letters, in which Mr. Hanway endeavours to show, that the consumption of tea is injurious to the interest of our country. We shall now endeavour to follow him, regularly, through all his observations on this modern luxury; but, it can scarcely be candid not to make a previous declaration, that he is to expect little justice from the author of this extract, a hardened and shameless tea-drinker, who has, for twenty years, diluted his meals with only the infusion of this fascinating plant; whose kettle has scarcely time to cool; who with tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces the midnight, and, with tea, welcomes the morning.

He begins by refuting a popular notion, that bohea and green tea are leaves of the same shrub, gathered at different times of the year. He is of opinion, that they are produced by different shrubs. The leaves of tea are gathered in dry weather; then dried and curled over the fire, in copper pans. The Chinese use little green tea, imagining, that it hinders digestion, and excites fevers. How it should have either effect, is not easily discovered; and, if we consider the innumerable prejudices, which prevail concerning our own plants, we shall very little regard these opinions of the Chinese vulgar, which experience does not confirm.

When the Chinese drink tea, they infuse it slightly, and extract only the more volatile parts; but though this seems to require great quantities at a time, yet the author believes, perhaps, only because he has an inclination to believe it, that the English and Dutch use more than all the inhabitants of that extensive empire. The Chinese drink it, sometimes, with acids, seldom with sugar; and this practice our author, who has no intention to find anything right at home, recommends to his countrymen.

The history of the rise and progress of tea-drinking is truly curious. Tea was first imported, from Holland, by the earls of Arlington and Ossory, in 1666; from their ladies the women of quality learned its use. Its price was then three pounds a pound, and continued the same to 1707. In 1715, we began to use green tea, and the practice of drinking it descended to the lower class of the people. In 1720, the French began to send it hither by a clandestine commerce. From 1717 to 1726, we imported, annually, seven hundred thousand pounds. From 1732 to 1742, a million and two hundred thousand pounds were every year brought to London; in some years afterwards three millions; and in 1755, near four millions of pounds, or two thousand tons, in which we are not to reckon that which is surreptitiously introduced, which, perhaps, is nearly as much. Such quantities are, indeed, sufficient to alarm us; it is, at least, worth inquiry, to know what are the qualities of such a plant, and what the consequences of such a trade.

He then proceeds to enumerate the mischiefs of tea, and seems willing to charge upon it every mischief that he can find. He begins, however, by questioning the virtues ascribed to it, and denies that the crews of the Chinese ships are preserved, in their voyage homewards, from the scurvy by tea. About this report I have made some inquiry, and though I cannot find that these crews are wholly exempt from scorbutick maladies, they seem to suffer them less than other mariners, in any course of equal length. This I ascribe to the tea, not as possessing any medicinal qualities, but as tempting them to drink more water, to dilute their salt food more copiously, and, perhaps, to forbear punch, or other strong liquors.

He then proceeds, in the pathetick strain, to tell the ladies how, by drinking tea, they injure their health, and, what is yet more dear, their beauty.

"To what can we ascribe the numerous complaints which prevail? How many sweet creatures of your sex languish with a weak digestion, low spirits, lassitudes, melancholy, and twenty disorders, which, in spite of the faculty, have yet no names, except the general one of nervous complaints? Let them change their diet, and, among other articles, leave off drinking tea, it is more than probable, the greatest part of them will be restored to health."

"Hot water is also very hurtful to the teeth. The Chinese do not drink their tea so hot as we do, and yet they have bad teeth. This cannot be ascribed entirely to sugar, for they use very little, as already observed; but we all know, that hot or cold things, which pain the teeth, destroy them also. If we drank less tea, and used gentle acids for the gums and teeth, particularly sour oranges, though we had a less number of French dentists, I fancy this essential part of beauty would be much better preserved.

"The women in the United Provinces, who sip tea from morning till night, are also as remarkable for bad teeth. They also look pallid, and many are troubled with certain feminine disorders, arising from a relaxed habit. The Portuguese ladies, on the other hand, entertain with sweetmeats, and yet they have very good teeth; but their food, in general, is more of a farinaceous and vegetable kind than ours. They also drink cold water, instead of sipping hot, and never taste any fermented liquors; for these reasons, the use of sugar does not seem to be at all pernicious to them."

"Men seem to have lost their stature and comeliness, and women their beauty. I am not young, but, methinks, there is not quite so much beauty in this land as there was. Your very chambermaids have lost their bloom, I suppose, by sipping tea. Even the agitations of the passions at cards are not so great enemies to female charms. What Shakespeare ascribes to the concealment of love, is, in this age, more frequently occasioned by the use of tea."

To raise the fright still higher, he quotes an account of a pig's tail, scalded with tea, on which, however, he does not much insist.

Of these dreadful effects, some are, perhaps, imaginary, and some may have another cause. That there is less beauty in the present race of females, than in those who entered the world with us, all of us are inclined to think, on whom beauty has ceased to smile; but our fathers and grandfathers made the same complaint before us; and our posterity will still find beauties irresistibly powerful.

That the diseases, commonly called nervous, tremours, fits, habitual depression, and all the maladies which proceed from laxity and debility, are more frequent than in any former time, is, I believe, true, however deplorable. But this new race of evils will not be expelled by the prohibition of tea. This general languor is the effect of general luxury, of general idleness. If it be most to be found among tea-drinkers, the reason is, that tea is one of the stated amusements of the idle and luxurious. The whole mode of life is changed; every kind of voluntary labour, every exercise that strengthened the nerves, and hardened the muscles, is fallen into disuse. The inhabitants are crowded together in populous cities, so that no occasion of life requires much motion; every one is near to all that he wants; and the rich and delicate seldom pass from one street to another, but in carriages of pleasure. Yet we eat and drink, or strive to eat and drink, like the hunters and huntresses, the farmers and the housewives, of the former generation; and they that pass ten hours in bed, and eight at cards, and the greater part of the other six at the table, are taught to impute to tea all the diseases which a life, unnatural in all its parts, may chance to bring upon them.

Tea, among the greater part of those who use it most, is drunk in no great quantity. As it neither exhilarates the heart, nor stimulates the palate, it is commonly an entertainment merely nominal, a pretence for assembling to prattle, for interrupting business, or diversifying idleness. They, who drink one cup, and, who drink twenty, are equally punctual in preparing or partaking it; and, indeed, there are few but discover, by their indifference about it, that they are brought together not by the tea, but the tea-table. Three cups make the common quantity, so slightly impregnated, that, perhaps, they might be tinged with the Athenian cicuta, and produce less effects than these letters charge upon tea.

Our author proceeds to show yet other bad qualities of this hated leaf.

"Green tea, when made strong, even by infusion, is an emetick; nay, I am told, it is used as such in China; a decoction of it certainly performs this operation; yet, by long use, it is drunk by many without such an effect. The infusion also, when it is made strong, and stands long to draw the grosser particles, will convulse the bowels: even in the manner commonly used, it has this effect on some constitutions, as I have already remarked to you from my own experience.

"You see I confess my weakness without reserve; but those who are very fond of tea, if their digestion is weak, and they find themselves disordered, they generally ascribe it to any cause, except the true one. I am aware that the effect, just mentioned, is imputed to the hot water; let it be so, and my argument is still good: but who pretends to say, it is not partly owing to particular kinds of tea? perhaps, such as partake of copperas, which, there is cause to apprehend, is sometimes the case: if we judge from the manner in which it is said to be cured, together with its ordinary effects, there is some foundation for this opinion. Put a drop of strong tea, either green or bohea, but chiefly the former, on the blade of a knife, though it is not corrosive, in the same manner as vitriol, yet there appears to be a corrosive quality in it, very different from that of fruit, which stains the knife."

He afterwards quotes Paulli, to prove, that tea is a "desiccative, and ought not to be used after the fortieth year." I have, then, long exceeded the limits of permission, but I comfort myself, that all the enemies of tea cannot be in the right. If tea be a desiccative, according to Paulli, it cannot weaken the fibres, as our author imagines; if it be emetick, it must constringe the stomach, rather than relax it.

The formidable quality of tinging the knife, it has in common with acorns, the bark, and leaves of oak, and every astringent bark or leaf: the copperas, which is given to the tea, is really in the knife. Ink may be made of any ferruginous matter, and astringent vegetable, as it is generally made of galls and copperas.

From tea, the writer digresses to spirituous liquors, about which he will have no controversy with the Literary Magazine; we shall, therefore, insert almost his whole letter, and add to it one testimony, that the mischiefs arising, on every side, from this compendious mode of drunkenness, are enormous and insupportable; equally to be found among the great and the mean; filling palaces with disquiet, and distraction, harder to be borne, as it cannot be mentioned; and overwhelming multitudes with incurable diseases, and unpitied poverty.

"Though tea and gin have spread their baneful influence over this island, and his majesty's other dominions, yet, you may be well assured, that the governors of the Foundling Hospital will exert their utmost skill and vigilance, to prevent the children, under their care, from being poisoned, or enervated by one or the other. This, however, is not the case of workhouses: it is well known, to the shame of those who are charged with the care of them, that gin has been too often permitted to enter their gates;—and the debauched appetites of the people, who inhabit these houses, has been urged as a reason for it.

"Desperate diseases require desperate remedies: if laws are rigidly executed against murderers in the highway, those who provide a draught of gin, which we see is murderous, ought not to be countenanced. I am now informed, that in certain hospitals, where the number of the sick used to be about 5600 in 14 years,

From 1704 to 1718, they increased to 8189; From 1718 to 1734, still augmented to 12,710; And from 1734 to 1749, multiplied to 38,147.

"What a dreadful spectre does this exhibit! nor must we wonder, when satisfactory evidence was given, before the great council of the nation, that near eight millions of gallons of distilled spirits, at the standard it is commonly reduced to for drinking, was actually consumed annually in drams! the shocking difference in the numbers of the sick, and, we may presume, of the dead also, was supposed to keep pace with gin; and the most ingenious and unprejudiced physicians ascribed it to this cause. What is to be done under these melancholy circumstances? shall we still countenance the distillery, for the sake of the revenue; out of tenderness to the few, who will suffer by its being abolished; for fear of the madness of the people; or that foreigners will run it in upon us? There can be no evil so great as that we now suffer, except the making the same consumption, and paying for it to foreigners in money, which I hope never will be the case.

"As to the revenue, it certainly may be replaced by taxes upon the necessaries of life, even upon the bread we eat, or, in other words, upon the land, which is the great source of supply to the public, and to individuals. Nor can I persuade myself, but that the people may be weaned from the habit of poisoning themselves. The difficulty of smuggling a bulky liquid, joined to the severity which ought to be exercised towards smugglers, whose illegal commerce is of so infernal a nature, must, in time, produce the effect desired. Spirituous liquors being abolished, instead of having the most undisciplined and abandoned poor, we might soon boast a race of men, temperate, religious, and industrious, even to a proverb. We should soon see the ponderous burden of the poor's rate decrease, and the beauty and strength of the land rejuvenate. Schools, workhouses, and hospitals, might then be sufficient to clear our streets of distress and misery, which never will be the case, whilst the love of poison prevails, and the means of ruin is sold in above one thousand houses in the city of London, in two thousand two hundred in Westminster, and one thousand nine hundred and thirty in Holborn and St. Giles's.

"But if other uses still demand liquid fire, I would really propose, that it should be sold only in quart bottles, sealed up, with the king's seal, with a very high duty, and none sold without being mixed with a strong emetic.

"Many become objects of charity by their intemperance, and this excludes others, who are such by the unavoidable accidents of life, or who cannot, by any means, support themselves. Hence it appears, that the introducing new habits of life, is the most substantial charity; and that the regulation of charity-schools, hospitals, and workhouses, not the augmentation of their number, can make them answer the wise ends, for which they were instituted.

"The children of beggars should be also taken from them, and bred up to labour, as children of the public. Thus the distressed might be relieved, at a sixth part of the present expense; the idle be compelled to work or starve; and the mad be sent to Bedlam. We should not see human nature disgraced by the aged, the maimed, the sickly, and young children, begging their bread; nor would compassion be abused by those, who have reduced it to an art to catch the unwary. Nothing is wanting but common sense and honesty in the execution of laws.

"To prevent such abuse in the streets, seems more practicable than to abolish bad habits within doors, where greater numbers perish. We see, in many familiar instances, the fatal effects of example. The careless spending of time among servants, who are charged with the care of infants, is often fatal: the nurse frequently destroys the child! the poor infant, being left neglected, expires whilst she is sipping her tea! This may appear to you as rank prejudice, or jest; but, I am assured, from the most indubitable evidence, that many very extraordinary cases of this kind have really happened, among those whose duty does not permit of such kind of habits.

"It is partly from such causes, that nurses of the children of the public often forget themselves, and become impatient when infants cry; the next step to this is using extraordinary means to quiet them. I have already mentioned the term killing nurse, as known in some workhouses: Venice treacle, poppy water, and Godfrey's cordial, have been the kind instruments of lulling the child to his everlasting rest. If these pious women could send up an ejaculation, when the child expired, all was well, and no questions asked by the superiors. An ingenious friend of mine informs me, that this has been so often the case, in some workhouses, that Venice treacle has acquired the appellation of 'the Lord have mercy upon me,' in allusion to the nurses' hackneyed expression of pretended grief, when infants expire! Farewell."

I know not upon what observation Mr. Hanway founds his confidence in the governours of the Foundling Hospital, men of whom I have not any knowledge, but whom I entreat to consider a little the minds, as well as bodies, of the children. I am inclined to believe irreligion equally pernicious with gin and tea, and, therefore, think it not unseasonable to mention, that, when, a few months ago, I wandered through the hospital, I found not a child that seemed to have heard of his creed, or the commandments. To breed up children in this manner, is to rescue them from an early grave, that they may find employment for the gibbet; from dying in innocence, that they may perish by their crimes.

Having considered the effects of tea upon the health of the drinker, which, I think, he has aggravated in the vehemence of his zeal, and which, after soliciting them by this watery luxury, year after year, I have not yet felt, he proceeds to examine, how it may be shown to affect our interest; and first calculates the national loss, by the time spent in drinking tea. I have no desire to appear captious, and shall, therefore, readily admit, that tea is a liquor not proper for the lower classes of the people, as it supplies no strength to labour, or relief to disease, but gratifies the taste, without nourishing the body. It is a barren superfluity, to which those who can hardly procure what nature requires, cannot prudently habituate themselves. Its proper use is to amuse the idle, and relax the studious, and dilute the full meals of those who cannot use exercise, and will not use abstinence. That time is lost in this insipid entertainment cannot be denied; many trifle away, at the tea-table, those moments which would be better spent; but that any national detriment can be inferred from this waste of time, does not evidently appear, because I know not that any work remains undone, for want of hands. Our manufactures seem to be limited, not by the possibility of work, but by the possibility of sale.

His next argument is more clear. He affirms, that one hundred and fifty thousand pounds, in silver, are paid to the Chinese, annually, for three millions of pounds of tea, and, that for two millions more, brought clandestinely from the neighbouring coasts, we pay, at twenty-pence a pound, one hundred sixty-six thousand six hundred and sixty-six pounds. The author justly conceives, that this computation will waken us; for, says he: "the loss of health, the loss of time, the injury of morals, are not very sensibly felt by some, who are alarmed when you talk of the loss of money." But he excuses the East India company, as men not obliged to be political arithmeticians, or to inquire so much, what the nation loses, as how themselves may grow rich. It is certain, that they, who drink tea, have no right to complain of those that import it; but if Mr. Hanway's computation be just, the importation, and the use of it, ought, at once, to be stopped by a penal law.

The author allows one slight argument in favour of tea, which, in my opinion, might be, with far greater justice, urged both against that and many other parts of our naval trade. "The tea-trade employs," he tells us, "six ships, and five or six hundred seamen, sent annually to China. It, likewise, brings in a revenue of three hundred and sixty thousand pounds, which, as a tax on luxury, may be considered as of great utility to the state." The utility of this tax I cannot find: a tax on luxury is no better than another tax, unless it hinders luxury, which cannot be said of the impost upon tea, while it is thus used by the great and the mean, the rich and the poor. The truth is, that, by the loss of one hundred and fifty thousand pounds, we procure the means of shifting three hundred and sixty thousand, at best, only from one hand to another; but, perhaps, sometimes into hands by which it is not very honestly employed. Of the five or six hundred seamen, sent to China, I am told, that sometimes half, commonly a third part, perish in the voyage; so that, instead of setting this navigation against the inconveniencies already alleged, we may add to them, the yearly loss of two hundred men, in the prime of life; and reckon, that the trade of China has destroyed ten thousand men, since the beginning of this century.

If tea be thus pernicious, if it impoverishes our country, if it raises temptation, and gives opportunity to illicit commerce, which I have always looked on, as one of the strongest evidences of the inefficacy of our law, the weakness of our government, and the corruption of our people, let us, at once, resolve to prohibit it for ever.

"If the question was, how to promote industry most advantageously, in lieu of our tea-trade, supposing every branch of our commerce to be already fully supplied with men and money? If a quarter the sum, now spent in tea, were laid out, annually, in plantations, in making public gardens, in paving and widening streets, in making roads, in rendering rivers navigable, erecting palaces, building' bridges, or neat and convenient houses, where are now only huts; draining lands, or rendering those, which are now barren, of some use; should we not be gainers, and provide more for health, pleasure, and long life, compared with the consequences of the tea-trade?"

Our riches would be much better employed to these purposes; but if this project does not please, let us first resolve to save our money, and we shall, afterwards, very easily find ways to spend it.


It is observed, in Le Sage's Gil Bias, that an exasperated author is not easily pacified. I have, therefore, very little hope of making my peace with the writer of the Eight Days' Journey; indeed so little, that I have long deliberated, whether I should not rather sit silently down, under his displeasure, than aggravate my misfortune, by a defence, of which my heart forbodes the ill success. Deliberation is often useless. I am afraid, that I have, at last, made the wrong choice, and that I might better have resigned my cause, without a struggle, to time and fortune, since I shall run the hazard of a new oifence, by the necessity of asking him, why he is angry.

Distress and terrour often discover to us those faults, with which we should never have reproached ourselves in a happy state. Yet, dejected as I am, when I review the transaction between me and this writer, I cannot find, that I have been deficient in reverence. When his book was first printed, he hints, that I procured a sight of it before it was published. How the sight of it was procured, I do not now very exactly remember; but, if my curiosity was greater than my prudence, if I laid rash hands on the fatal volume, I have surely suffered, like him who burst the box, from which evil rushed into the world.

I took it, however, and inspected it, as the work of an author not higher than myself; and was confirmed in my opinion, when I found, that these letters were not written to be printed. I concluded, however, that, though not written to be printed, they were printed to be read, and inserted one of them in the collection of November last. Not many days after, I received a note, informing me, that I ought to have waited for a more correct edition. This injunction was obeyed. The edition appeared, and I supposed myself at liberty to tell my thoughts upon it, as upon any other book, upon a royal manifesto, or an act of parliament. But see the fate of ignorant temerity! I now find, but find too late, that, instead of a writer, whose only power is in his pen, I have irritated an important member of an important corporation; a man, who, as he tells us in his letters, puts horses to his chariot.

It was allowed to the disputant of old to yield up the controversy, with little resistance, to the master of forty legions. Those who know how weakly naked truth can defend her advocates, would forgive me, if I should pay the same respect to a governour of the foundlings. Yets the consciousness of my own rectitude of intention incites me to ask once again, how I have offended.

There are only three subjects upon which my unlucky pen has happened to venture: tea; the author of the journal; and the foundling-hospital.

Of tea, what have I said? That I have drank it twenty years, without hurt, and, therefore, believe it not to be poison; that, if it dries the fibres, it cannot soften them; that, if it constringes, it cannot relax. I have modestly doubted, whether it has diminished the strength of our men, or the beauty of our women; and whether it much hinders the progress of our woollen or iron manufactures; but I allowed it to be a barren superfluity, neither medicinal nor nutritious, that neither supplied strength nor cheerfulness, neither relieved weariness, nor exhilarated sorrow: I inserted, without charge or suspicion of falsehood, the sums exported to purchase it; and proposed a law to prohibit it for ever.

Of the author I unfortunately said, that his injunction was somewhat too magisterial. This I said, before I knew that he was a governour of the foundlings; but he seems inclined to punish this failure of respect, as the czar of Muscovy made war upon Sweden, because he was not treated with sufficient honours, when he passed through the country in disguise. Yet, was not this irreverence without extenuation. Something was said of the merit of meaning well, and the journalist was declared to be a man, whose failings might well be pardoned for his virtues. This is the highest praise which human gratitude can confer upon human merit; praise that would have more than satisfied Titus or Augustus, but which I must own to be inadequate and penurious, when offered to the member of an important corporation.

I am asked, whether I meant to satirize the man, or criticise the writer, when I say, that "he believes, only, perhaps, because he has inclination to believe it, that the English and Dutch consume more tea than the vast empire of China." Between the writer and the man, I did not, at that time, consider the distinction. The writer I found not of more than mortal might, and I did not immediately recollect, that the man put horses to his chariot. But I did not write wholly without consideration. I knew but two causes of belief, evidence and inclination. What evidence the journalist could have of the Chinese consumption of tea, I was not able to discover. The officers of the East India company are excluded, they best know why, from the towns and the country of China; they are treated, as we treat gipsies and vagrants, and obliged to retire, every night, to their own hovel. What intelligence such travellers may bring, is of no great importance. And, though the missionaries boast of having once penetrated further, I think, they have never calculated the tea drunk by the Chinese. There being thus no evidence for his opinion, to what could I ascribe it but inclination.

I am yet charged, more heavily, for having said, that "he has no intention to find any thing right at home." I believe every reader restrained this imputation to the subject which produced it, and supposed me to insinuate only, that he meant to spare no part of the tea-table, whether essence or circumstance. But this line he has selected, as an instance of virulence and acrimony, and confutes it by a lofty and splendid panegyrick on himself. He asserts, that he finds many things right at home, and that he loves his oountrv almost to enthusiasm.

I had not the least doubt, that he found, in his country, many things to please him; nor did I suppose, that he desired the same inversion of every part of life, as of the use of tea. The proposal of drinking tea sour showed, indeed, such a disposition to practical paradoxes, that there was reason to fear, lest some succeeding letter should recommend the dress of the Picts, or the cookery of the Eskimaux. However, I met with no other innovations, and, therefore, was willing to hope, that he found something right at home.

But his love of his country seemed not to rise quite to enthusiasm, when, amidst his rage against tea, he made a smooth apology for the East India company, as men who might not think themselves obliged to be political arithmeticians. I hold, though no enthusiastick patriot, that every man, who lives and trades under the protection of a community, is obliged to consider, whether he hurts or benefits those who protect him; and that the most which can be indulged to private interest, is a neutral traffick, if any such can be, by which our country is not injured, though it may not be benefited.

But he now renews his declamation against tea, notwithstanding the greatness or power of those that have interest or inclination to support it. I know not of what power or greatness he may dream. The importers only have an interest in defending it. I am sure, they are not great, and, I hope, they are not powerful. Those, whose inclination leads them to continue this practice, are too numerous; but, I believe their power is such, as the journalist may defy, without enthusiasm. The love of our country, when it rises to enthusiasm, is an ambiguous and uncertain virtue: when a man is enthusiastick, he ceases to be reasonable; and, when he once departs from reason, what will he do, but drink sour tea? As the journalist, though enthusiastically zealous for his country, has, with regard to smaller things, the placid happiness of philosophical indifference, I can give him no disturbance, by advising him to restrain, even the love of his country, within due limits, lest it should, sometimes, swell too high, fill the whole capacity of his soul, and leave less room for the love of truth.

Nothing now remains, but that I review my positions concerning the foundling hospital. What I declared last month, I declare now, once more, that I found none of the children that appeared to have heard of the catechism. It is inquired, how I wandered, and how I examined. There is, doubtless, subtlety in the question; I know not well how to answer it. Happily, I did not wander alone; I attended some ladies, with another gentleman, who all heard and assisted the inquiry, with equal grief and indignation. I did not conceal my observations. Notice was given of this shameful defect soon after, at my request, to one of the highest names of the society. This, I am now told, is incredible; but, since it is true, and the past is out of human power, the most important corporation cannot make it false. But, why is it incredible? Because, in the rules of the hospital, the children are ordered to learn the rudiments of religion. Orders are easily made, but they do not execute themselves. They say their catechism, at stated times, under an able master. But this able master was, I think, not elected before last February; and my visit happened, if I mistake not, in November. The children were shy, when interrogated by a stranger. This may be true, but the same shiness I do not remember to have hindered them from answering other questions; and I wonder, why children, so much accustomed to new spectators, should be eminently shy.

My opponent, in the first paragraph, calls the inference that I made from this negligence, a hasty conclusion: to the decency of this expression I had nothing to object; but, as he grew hot in his career, his enthusiasm began to sparkle; and, in the vehemence of his postscript, he charges my assertions, and my reasons for advancing them, with folly and malice. His argumentation, being somewhat enthusiastical, I cannot fully comprehend, but it seems to stand thus: my insinuations are foolish or malicious, since I know not one of the governours of the hospital; for, he that knows not the governours of the hospital, must be very foolish or malicious.

He has, however, so much kindness for me, that he advises me to consult my safety, when I talk of corporations. I know not what the most important corporation can do, becoming manhood, by which my safety is endangered. My reputation is safe, for I can prove the fact; my quiet is safe, for I meant well; and for any other safety, I am not used to be very solicitous.

I am always sorry, when I see any being labouring in vain; and, in return for the journalist's attention to my safety, I will confess some compassion for his tumultuous resentment; since all his invectives fume into the air, with so little effect upon me, that I still esteem him, as one that has the merit of meaning well; and still believe him to be a man, whose failings may be justly pardoned for his virtues [6].


This is a very curious and entertaining miscellany of critical remarks and literary history. Though the book promises nothing but observations on the writings of Pope, yet no opportunity is neglected of introducing the character of any other writer, or the mention of any performance or event, in which learning is interested. From Pope, however, he always takes his hint, and to Pope he returns again from his digressions. The facts, which he mentions, though they are seldom anecdotes, in a rigorous sense, are often such as are very little known, and such as will delight more readers than naked criticism.

As he examines the works of this great poet, in an order nearly chronological, he necessarily begins with his pastorals, which, considered as representations of any kind of life, he very justly censures; for there is in them a mixture of Grecian and English, of ancient and modern images. Windsor is coupled with Hybla, and Thames with Pactolus. He then compares some passages, which Pope has imitated, or translated, with the imitation, or version, and gives the preference to the originals, perhaps, not always upon convincing arguments.

Theocritus makes his lover wish to be a bee, that he might creep among the leaves that form the chaplet of his mistress. Pope's enamoured swain longs to be made the captive bird that sings in his fair one's bower, that she might listen to his songs, and reward him with her kisses. The critick prefers the image of Theocritus, as more wild, more delicate, and more uncommon.

It is natural for a lover to wish, that he might be any thing that could come near to his lady. But we more naturally desire to be that which she fondles and caresses, than that which she would avoid, at least would neglect. The snperiour delicacy of Theocritus I cannot discover, nor can, indeed, find, that either in the one or the other image there is any want of delicacy. Which of the two images was less common in the time of the poet who used it, for on that consideration the merit of novelty depends, I think it is now out of any critick's power to decide.

He remarks, I am afraid, with too much justice, that there is not a single new thought in the pastorals; and, with equal reason, declares, that their chief beauty consists in their correct and musical versification, which has so influenced the English ear, as to render every moderate rhymer harmonious.

In his examination of the Messiah, he justly observes some deviations from the inspired author, which weaken the imagery, and dispirit the expression.

On Windsor Forest, he declares, I think without proof, that descriptive poetry was by no means the excellence of Pope; he draws this inference from the few images introduced in this poem, which would not equally belong to any other place. He must inquire, whether Windsor forest has, in reality, any thing peculiar.

The Stag-chase is not, he says, so full, so animated, and so circumstantiated, as Somerville's. Barely to say, that one performance is not so good as another, is to criticise with little exactness. But Pope has directed, that we should, in every work, regard the author's end. The stag-chase is the main subject of Somerville, and might, therefore, be properly dilated into all its circumstances; in Pope, it is only incidental, and was to be despatched in a few lines.

He makes a just observation, "that the description of the external beauties of nature, is usually the first effort of a young genius, before he hath studied nature and passions. Some of Milton's most early, as well as mos't exquisite pieces, are his Lycidas, l'Allegro, and il Penseroso, if we may except his ode on the Nativity of Christ, which is, indeed, prior in order of time, and in which a penetrating critick might have observed the seeds of that boundless imagination, which was, one day, to produce the Paradise Lost."

Mentioning Thomson, and other descriptive poets, he remarks, that writers fail in their copies, for want of acquaintance with originals, and justly ridicules those who think they can form just ideas of valleys, mountains, and rivers, in a garret in the Strand. For this reason, I cannot regret, with this author, that Pope laid aside his design of writing American pastorals; for, as he must have painted scenes, which he never saw, and manners, which he never knew, his performance, though it might have been a pleasing amusement of fancy, would have exhibited no representation of nature or of life.

After the pastorals, the critick considers the lyrick poetry of Pope, and dwells longest on the ode on St. Cecilia's day, which he, like the rest of mankind, places next to that of Dryden, and not much below it. He remarks, after Mr. Spence, that the first stanza is a perfect concert: the second he thinks a little flat; he justly commends the fourth, but without notice of the best line in that stanza, or in the poem:

"Transported demi-gods stood round, And men grew heroes at the sound."

In the latter part of the ode, he objects to the stanza of triumph:

"Thus song could prevail," &c.

as written in a measure ridiculous and burlesque, and justifies his answer, by observing, that Addison uses the same numbers in the scene of Rosamond, between Grideline and sir Trusty:

"How unhappy is he," &c.

That the measure is the same in both passages, must be confessed, and both poets, perhaps, chose their numbers properly; for they both meant to express a kind of airy hilarity. The two passions of merriment and exultation are, undoubtedly, different; they are as different as a gambol and a triumph, but each is a species of joy; and poetical measures have not, in any language, been so far refined, as to provide for the subdivisions of passion. They can only be adapted to general purposes; but the particular and minuter propriety must be sought only in the sentiment and language. Thus the numbers are the same in Colin's Complaint, and in the ballad of Darby and Joan, though, in one, sadness is represented, and, in the other, tranquillity; so the measure is the same of Pope's Unfortunate Lady, and the Praise of Voiture.

He observes, very justly, that the odes, both of Dryden and Pope, conclude, unsuitably and unnaturally, with epigram.

He then spends a page upon Mr. Handel's musick to Dryden's ode, and speaks of him with that regard which he has generally obtained among the lovers of sound. He finds something amiss in the air "With ravished ears," but has overlooked, or forgotten, the grossest fault in that composition, which is that in this line:

"Revenge, revenge, Timotheus cries,"

He has laid much stress upon the two latter words, which are merely words of connexion, and ought, in musick, to be considered as parenthetical.

From this ode is struck out a digression on the nature of odes, and the comparative excellence of the ancients and moderns. He mentions the chorus which Pope wrote for the duke of Buckingham; and thence takes occasion to treat of the chorus of the ancients. He then comes to another ode, of "The dying Christian to his Soul;" in which, finding an apparent imitation of Flatman, he falls into a pleasing and learned speculation, on the resembling passages to be found in different poets.

He mentions, with great regard, Pope's ode on Solitude, written when he was but twelve years old, but omits to mention the poem on Silence, composed, I think, as early, with much greater elegance of diction, musick of numbers, extent of observation, and force of thought. If he had happened to think on Baillet's chapter of Enfans celebres, he might have made, on this occasion, a very entertaining dissertation on early excellence.

He comes next to the Essay on Criticism, the stupendous performance of a youth, not yet twenty years old; and, after having detailed the felicities of condition, to which he imagines Pope to have owed his wonderful prematurity of mind, he tells us, that he is well informed this essay was first written in prose. There is nothing improbable in the report, nothing, indeed, but what is more likely than the contrary; yet I [8] cannot forbear to hint to this writer, and all others, the danger and weakness of trusting too readily to information. Nothing but experience could evince the frequency of false information, or enable any man to conceive, that so many groundless reports should be propagated, as every man of eminence may hear of himself. Some men relate what they think, as what they know; some men, of confused memories and habitual inaccuracy, ascribe to one man, what belongs to another; and some talk on, without thought or care. A few men are sufficient to broach falsehoods, which are afterwards innocently diffused by successive relaters.

He proceeds on, examining passage after passage of this essay; but we must pass over all these criticisms, to which we have not something to add or to object, or where this author does not differ from the general voice of mankind. We cannot agree with him in his censure of the comparison of a student advancing in science, with a traveller passing the Alps, which is, perhaps, the best simile in our language; that, in which the most exact resemblance is traced between things, in appearance, utterly unrelated to each other. That the last line conveys no new idea, is not true; it makes particular, what was before general. Whether the description, which he adds from another author, be, as he says, more full and striking than that of Pope, is not to be inquired. Pope's description is relative, and can admit no greater length than is usually allowed to a simile, nor any other particulars than such as form the correspondence.

Unvaried rhymes, says this writer, highly disgust readers of a good ear. It is, surely, not the ear, but the mind that is offended. The fault, arising from the use of common rhymes, is, that by reading the past line, the second may be guessed, and half the composition loses the grace of novelty.

On occasion of the mention of an alexandrine, the critick observes, that "the alexandrine may be thought a modern measure, but that Robert of Gloucester's Wife is an alexandrine, with the addition of two syllables; and that Sternhold and Hopkins translated the Psalms in the same measure of fourteen syllables, though they are printed otherwise."

This seems not to be accurately conceived or expressed: an alexandrine, with the addition of two syllables, is no more an alexandrine, than with the detraction of two syllables. Sternhold and Hopkins did, generally, write in the alternate measure of eight and six syllables; but Hopkins commonly rhymed the first and third; Sternhold, only the second and fourth: so that Sternhold may be considered, as writing couplets of long lines; but Hopkins wrote regular stanzas. From the practice of printing the long lines of fourteen syllables in two short lines, arose the license of some of our poets, who, though professing to write in stanzas, neglect the rhymes of the first and third lines.

Pope has mentioned Petronius, among the great names of criticism, as the remarker justly observes, without any critical merit. It is to be suspected, that Pope had never read his book, and mentioned him on the credit of two or three sentences which he had often seen quoted, imagining, that where there was so much, there must necessarily be more. Young men, in haste to be renowned, too frequently talk of books which they have scarcely seen.

The revival of learning, mentioned in this poem, affords an opportunity of mentioning the chief periods of literary history, of which this writer reckons five: that of Alexander, of Ptolemy Philadelphus, of Augustus, of Leo the tenth, of queen Anne.

These observations are concluded with a remark, which deserves great attention: "In no polished nation, after criticism has been much studied, and the rules of writing established, has any very extraordinary book ever appeared."

The Rape of the Lock was always regarded, by Pope, as the highest production of his genius. On occasion of this work, the history of the comick-heroick is given; and we are told, that it descended from Fassoni to Boileau, from Boileau to Garth, and from Garth to Pope. Garth is mentioned, perhaps, with too much honour; but all are confessed to be inferiour to Pope. There is, in his remarks on this work, no discovery of any latent beauty, nor any thing subtle or striking; he is, indeed, commonly right, but has discussed no difficult question.

The next pieces to be considered are, the Verses to the Memory of an unfortunate Lady, the Prologue to Cato, and Epilogue to Jane Shore. The first piece he commends. On occasion of the second, he digresses, according to his custom, into a learned dissertation on tragedies, and compares the English and French with the Greek stage. He justly censures Cato, for want of action and of characters; but scarcely does justice to the sublimity of some speeches, and the philosophical exactness in the sentiments. "The simile of mount Atlas, and that of the Numidian traveller, smothered in the sands, are, indeed, in character," says the critick, "but sufficiently obvious." The simile of the mountain is, indeed, common; but that of the traveller, I do not remember. That it is obvious is easy to say, and easy to deny. Many things are obvious, when they are taught.

He proceeds to criticise the other works of Addison, till the epilogue calls his attention to Rowe, whose character he discusses in the same manner, with sufficient freedom and sufficient candour.

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