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fworn to all this, then why not their wives? Certain I am, their wives understand fighting and feats of mellay and battle better than they; and as for knightly horse and harnish, it is probable, both know nothing more than the harness of a one-horse chaife. No, no, my friend, inftead of conferring any order upon the hufbands, I would knight their wives. However, the ftate fhould not be troubled with a new inftitution upon this occafion. Some ancient exploded order might be revived, which would furnish both a motto and a name, the ladies might be permitted to chufe for themselves. There are, for inftance, the obfolete orders of the Dragon in Germany, of the Roe in Scotland, and the Porcupine in France, all well-founding names, and very applicable to my intended female institution. Adieu.
TO THE SAME.
RELIGIOUS fects in England are far more nume
rous than in China. Every man who has intereft enough to hire a conventicle here may set up for himfelf, and fell off a new religion. The fellers of the newest pattern at present give extreme good bargains, and let their difciples have a great deal of confidence for very little money.
Their fhops are much frequented, and their cuftomers every day increafing; for people are naturally fond of going to Paradise at as small expence as poffible.
must not conceive this modern fect as differing in opinion from those of the established religion; difference in opinion, indeed, formerly divided their fectaries, and fometimes drew their armies to the field. White gowns and black mantles, flapped hats and cross pocket holes were once the obvious causes of quarrel : men then had some reasons for fighting, they knew what they fought about; but at prefent they are arrived at such refinement in religion-making, that they have actually formed a new fect without a new opinion; they quarrel for opinions they both equally defend; they hate each other, and that is all the difference between them.
But though their principles are the fame, their practice is fomewhat different. Thofe of the established religion laugh when they are pleased, and their groans are feldom extorted but by pain or danger. The new sect, on the contrary, weep for their amufement, and ufe little mufic, except a chorus of fighs and groans, or tunes that are made to imitate groaning. Laughter is their averfion; lovers court each other from the lamentations; the bridegroom approaches the nuptial couch in forrowful folemnity, and the bride looks more difmal than an undertaker's fhop. Dancing round the room is, with them, running in a direct line to the devil; and as for gaming, though but in jeft, they would fooner play with a rattle-fnake's tail than finger a dice box.
By this time you perceive that I am defcribing a sect of enthusiasts, and you have already compared them with the Faquirs, Bramins, and Talapoins of the East. Among these, you know, are generations that have been never known to fmile, and voluntary affliction makes up all the merit they can boaft of. Enthufiams in every
country produce the fame effects; flick the Faquir with pins, or confine the Bramin to a vermin hofpital, fpread the Talapoin on the ground, or load the fectary's brow with contrition; thofe worshippers who difcard the light of reafon are ever gloomy; their fears increase in propor. tion to their ignorance, as men are continually under apprchenfions who walk in darkness.
Yet there is still a ftronger reason for the enthufiaft's being an enemy to laughter, namely, his being himfelf fo proper an object of ridicule. It is remarkable, that the propagators of falfe doctrines have ever been averfe to mirth, and always begin by recommending gravity, when they intended to diffeminate imposture. Fohi, the idol of China, is reprefented as having never laughed; Zoroafter, the leader of the Bramins, is faid to have laughed but twice, upon his coming into the world, and upon his leaving it; and Mahomet himself, though a lover of pleafure; was a profeffed oppofer of gaiety. Upon a certain occafion, telling his followers, that they would all appear naked at the refurrection, his favourite wife represented such an affembly as immodeft and unbecoming. Foolish woman, cried the grave prophet, though the whole assembly be naked, on that day they fhall have forgotten, to laugh. Men like him oppofed ridicule, because they knew it to be a moft formidable antagonist, and preached up gravity, to conceal their own want of importance.
Ridicule has ever been the most powerful enemy of enthusiasm, and properly the only antagonist that can be opposed to it with fuccefs. Perfecution only ferves to propagate new religions; they acquire fresh vigor beneath the executioner and the axe, and like fome vivacious
infets, multiply by diffection. It is also impoffible to combat enthusiasm with reason, for though it makes a fhew of refiftance, it foon eludes the preffure, refers you to distinctions not to be underflood, and feelings which it cannot explain. A man who would endeavour to fix an enthufiaft by argument, might as well attempt to fpread quickfilver with his fingers. The only way to conquer a visionary is to despise him; the stake, the faggot, and the disputing doctor, in some measure, ennoble the opinions they are brought to oppofe; they are harmless against innovating pride; contempt alone is truly dreadful. Hunters generally know the moft vulnerable part of the beast they pursue, by the care which every animal takes to defend the fide which is weakest. On what fide the enthufiaft is most vulnerable may be known by the care which he takes in the beginning to work his difciples into gravity, and guard them against power of ridicule.
When Philip the fecond was king of Spain, there was a conteft in Salamanca between two orders of fuperiorty. The legend of one fide contained more extraordinary miracles, but the legend of the other was reckoned moft authentic. They reviled each other, as is ufual in difputes of divinity, the people were divided into factions, and a civil war appeared unavoidable. In order to prevent fuch an imminent calamity, the combatants were prevailed upon to fubmit their legends to the fiery trial, and that which came forth untouched by the fire was to have the victory, and to be honoured with a double share of reverence. Whenever the people flock to fee a miracle, it is an hundred to one but that they see a miracle; incredible therefore were the numbers that were gathered
round upon this occafion; the friars on each fide approached, and confidently threw their respective legends into the flames, when, lo! to the utter disappointment of all the affembly, instead of a miracle, both legends were confumed. Nothing but this turning both parties into contempt could have prevented the effufion of blood. The people now laughed at their former folly, and wondered why they fell out. Adieu.
TO THE SAME.
HE English are at prefent employed in celebrating a feaft, which becomes general every seventh year; the parliament of the nation being then diffolved, and another appointed to be chofen. This folemnity falls infinitely fhort of our feaft of the lanthorns in magnificence and splendor; it is alfo furpaffed by others of the East in unanimity and pure devotion, but no feftival in the world can compare with it for eating. There eating in. deed amazes me: had I five hundred heads, and were each head furnished with brains, yet would they all be infufficient to compute the number of cows, pigs, geefe, and turkeys which upon this occafion die for the good of their country;
To say the truth, eating seems to make a grand ingredient in all English parties of zeal, business, or amusement. When a church is to be built, or an hospital endowed, the directors afsemble, and instead of consulting upon it, they eat upon it, by which means the bu