THE LIFE OF John Buncle, Esq
THAT the Transactions of my Life, and the observations and reflec∣tions I have made on men and things, by sea and land, in va∣rious parts of the world, might not be bu∣ried in oblivion, and by length of time, be blotted out of the Memory of Men, it has been my wont, from the days of my youth to this time, to write down Memorandums of every thing I thought worth noticing, as men and matters, books and circumstances, came in my way; and in hopes they may be of some service to my fellow-mortals I publish them. Some pleasing, and some Page 2surprizing things the Reader will find in them. He will meet with miscellany thoughts upon several subjects. He will read, if he pleases, some tender stories. But all the relations, the thoughts, the observa∣tions, are designed for the advancement of valuable Learning, and to promote whatso∣ever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, what∣soever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good re∣port.
1. A Reflec∣tion.
About fifty years ago the Midwife wheeled me in, and much sooner than half a Century hence, in all human probability, Death will wheel me out. When Heaven pleases, I am satisfied. Life and death are equally welcome, because equally parts of my way to Eternity. My lot has been a swarthy one in this first State, and I am in hopes I shall exchange worlds to advantage. As God, without all peradventure, brought his moral creatures into being, in order to increase their Virtue, and provide suitable happiness for the Worthy, the most unfor∣tunate here may expect immutable felicity at last, if they have endeavoured, in propor∣tion to what power they had, to render themselves useful and valuable, by a since∣rity and benevolence of temper, a disinte∣restedness, Page 3a communicativeness, and the practice of those duties, to which we are obliged by the frame of our Nature, and by the Relations we bear to God, and to the subjects of his government.
For my part, I confess that, many have been the failings of my Life, and great the defects of my obedience. But in the midst of all my failings and imperfections, my Soul hath always sympathised with the af∣flicted, and my heart hath ever aked for the miseries of others. My hand has often re∣lieved, when I wanted the shilling to com∣fort my self, and when it hath not been in my power to relieve, I have grieved for the scanty Accommodations of others. Many troublesome and expensive offices I have un∣dertaken to do good to Men, and ever social and free have I been in my demeanour, easy and smooth in my address; and therefore, I trust that, whenever I am removed from this horizon, it will be from a dark and cloudy state, to that of joy, light, and full Revelation. This felicitates my every day, let what will happen from without. This supports me under every Affliction, and ena∣bles me to mentain a habit of satisfaction and joy in the general course of my Life.
2. Went to the Univer∣sity in 1720
The things of my Childhood are not worth setting down, and therefore I com∣mence my Life from the first month of the Page 4seventeenth year of my Age, when I was sent to the University, and entred a pensioner, tho' I had a larger yearly allowance than any fellow-commoner of my College. I was re∣solved to read there, and determined to im∣prove my natural faculties to the utmost of my power. Nature, I was sensible, had be∣stowed no genius on me. This and under∣standing are only the privilege of extraordi∣nary persons; who receive from Heaven the happy conjunction of qualities, that they may execute great and noble designs, and acquire the highest pitch of excellence in the profession they turn to; if they will take the pains to perfect the united qualities by art, and carefully avoid running into caprice and paradox; the Rocks on which many a Genius has split. But then I had a tolerable share of natural understanding, and from my infancy was teachable, and always attentive to the directions of good sense. This I knew might rise with some labour, to a half merit, tho' it could never gain immor∣tality upon any account: and this was enough for me. I wanted only to acquire such de∣grees of perfections as lay within the small sphere nature had chalked out for me.
3. A College-Life.
To this purpose I devoted my college-life to books, and for five years that I re∣sided in the University, conversed so much with the dead that I had very little inter∣course with the living. So totally had letters Page 5engaged my mind, that I was but little af∣fected towards most other things. Walking and Musick were my favorite recreations, and almost the only ones I delighted in. I had hardly a thought at that time of the foolish choises and pursuits of men; those fatal choices and pursuits, which are owing to false judgments, and to a habit of acting precipitantly, without examining the fancies and appetites; and therefore, very rarely went into the pleasures and diversions which men of fortune in a University too com∣monly indulge in. My relaxation, after study, was my german-flute, and the con∣versation of some ingenious, sober friend; ge∣nerally, my private tutor, who was a bright and excellent man; and if the weather per∣mitted, I walked out into the country several miles. At this exercise, I had often one or other with me; but for the most part, was obliged to go alone. My dog and my gun however were diversion enough on the way, and they frequently led me into scenes of entertainment, which lasted longer than the day. Some of them you will find in this Journal. The history of the beautiful Harriot Noel you shall have by and by.
4. A Course of Reading in a College.
At present, my scheme requires me to set down the method I pursued in my Readings, and let my Reader know the issue of my studies. — My time I devoted to Phi∣losophy, Page 6Cosmography, Mathematicks, and the Languages, for four years, and the fifth I gave to History.
5. Natural Philosophy.
When I had done, for a time, with this admirable Essay, I then began to study the first principles of things, the structure of Page 7the Universe, the contexture of human bo∣dies, the properties of beasts, the virtues of plants, and the qualities of metals, and was quite charmed with the contemplation of the beautiful order, and wise final causes of na∣ture in all her laws and productions. The study had a delightful influence on the tem∣per of my mind, and inspired into it a love of order in my heart, and in my outward manners. It likewise led me to the great first Cause, and in repeated views of har∣mony, wisdom and goodness in all the works of nature, rivited upon my mind a fixed conviction, that all is under the administra∣tion of a general Mind, as far remote from all malice as from all weakness, whether in respect of understanding or of power. This gave me a due affection towards the infinite∣ly perfect Parent of Nature, and as I con∣templated his glorious Works, I was ob∣liged in transports to confess, that he de∣served our love and admiration. This did also satisfy me, that whatever the order of the world produces, is in the main both just and good, and of consequence, that we ought in the best manner to support what∣ever hardships are to be endured for virtue's sake: that acquiescence and complacency with respect to ill accidents, ill men and in∣juries, ought to be our part under a perfect administration; and with benignity and Page 8constancy we must ever act, if there be a settled persuasion, that all things are framed and governed by a universal mind. — Such was the effect the study of Natural Philoso∣phy had upon my Soul. It set beyond all doubt before me the moral perfection of the Creator and Governor of the Universe. And if this Almighty God, I said, is perfect Wis∣dom and Virtue, does it not follow, that he must approve and love those who are at due pains to improve in wisdom; — and what he loves and delights in, must he not make happy? This is an evident truth. It renders the cause of virtue quite triumphant.
6. Moral Phi∣losophy.
But upon Ethicks or Moral Philosophy I dwelt the longest. This is the proper food of the Soul, and what perfects her in all the virtues and qualifications of a gentleman. This Science I collected in the first place from the antient sages and philosophers, and studied all the moral writers of Greece and Rome. With great pleasure I saw, that these immortal authors had delineated as far as human reason can go, that course of life which is most according to the intention of nature, and most happy; had shewn that this universe, and human nature in parti∣cular, was formed by the wisdom and coun∣sel of a Deity, and that from the constitution of our nature various duties arose: — that since God is the original independent Being, Page 9compleat in all possible perfection, of bound∣less power, wisdom and goodness; the Cre∣ator, Contriver, and Governor of this world, to whom mankind are indebted for innu∣merable benefits most gratuitously bestowed; we ought to manifest the most ardent love and veneration toward the Deity, and wor∣ship him with affections of Soul suited to the pre-eminence and infinite grandeur of the original Cause of all; ought to obey him, as far as human weakness can go, and humbly submit and resign ourselves and all our interests to his will; continually confide in his goodness, and constantly imitate him as far as our weak nature is capable. This is due to that original most gracious Power who formed us, and with a liberal hand supplies us with all things conducive to such pleasure and happiness as our nature can re∣ceive: — That in respect of mankind, our natural sense of right and wrong points out to us the duties to be performed towards others, and the kind affections implanted by nature, excites us to the discharge of them: that by the law of our constitution and na∣ture, justice and benevolence are prescribed; and aids and an intercourse of mutual offices required, not only to secure our pleasure and happiness, but to preserve ourselves in safety and in life: that the law of nature, or na∣tural right, forbids every instance of injustice, Page 10a violation of life, liberty, health, property; and the exercise of our honourable, kind powers, are not only a spring of vigorous efforts to do good to others, and thereby se∣cure the common happiness; but they really procure us a joy and peace, an inward ap∣plause and external advantages; while in∣justice and malice, anger, hatred, envy, and revenge, are often matter of shame and re∣morse, and contain nothing joyful, nothing glorious: In the greatest affluence, the sa∣vage men are miserable: — that as to our∣selves, the voice of reason declares, that we ought to employ our abilities and opportu∣nities in improving our minds to an exten∣sive knowledge of nature in the sciences; and by diligent meditation and observation, acquire that prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude, which should constantly go∣vern our lives: — That solid prudence, which abhors rashness, inconsiderateness, a foolish self-confidence, and craft, and under a high sense of moral excellence, considers and does what is really advantageous in life: — That justice, which constantly regards the common interest, and in subserviency to it, gives to each one whatever is due to him upon any natural claim: — That temperance, which restrains and regulates the lower ap∣petites, and displays the grace and beauty of manners: — And that fortitude, which Page 11represses all vain and excessive fears, gives us a superiority to all the external accidents of our mortal state, and strengthens the soul against all toils or dangers we may be ex∣posed to in discharge of our duty; as an early and painful death with virtue and ho∣nour, is highly preferable to the longest ig∣nominious life, and no advantages can be compared in point of happiness with the approbation of God, and of our own hearts.
That if in this manner we live prepared for any honourable services to God, our fel∣lows, and ourselves, and practice piety to∣ward God, good-will toward men, and im∣mediately aim at our own perfection, then we may expect, notwithstanding our being involved in manifold weaknesses and dis∣orders of soul, that the divine goodness and clemency will have mercy on such as sin∣cerely love him, and desire to serve him with duty and gratitude; will be propitious and placable to the penitents, and all who exert their utmost endeavours in the pur∣suits of virtue: And since the perfection of virtue must constitute the supreme felicity of man, our efforts to attain it, must be effectual in obtaining compleat felicity, or at least some lower degree of it.
7. Of Revea∣led Reli∣gion.
This beautiful, moral Philosophy I found scattered in the wtitings of the old Page 12theist philosophers, and with great pains re∣duced the various lessons to a system of ac∣tive and virtuous offices: but this I knew was what the majority of mankind were in∣capable of doing; and if they could do it, I saw it was far inferior to revelation. Every Sunday I appropriated to the study of re∣veled Religion, and perceived as I read the sacred records, that the Works of Plato, and Cicero, and Epictetus, and all the uninspired sages of antiquity, were but weak rules in respect of the divine oracles. It is the mercy and power of God in the triumphs of grace, that restores mankind from the bondage and ignorance of idolatry. To this the sinner owes the conversion of his soul. It is the statutes of the Lord that rejoyce the heart, and enlighten the eyes. What are all the reasonings of the philosophers to the melody of that heavenly voice which crys continu∣ally, Come unto me all ye that travel and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. — And what could their lessons avail with∣out those express promises of grace and spiritual assistance, which the blood of the new covenant confirms to mankind? The philosophy of Greece and Rome was admi∣rable for the times and men: but it ad∣mits of no comparison with the divine les∣sons of our holy religion, and the charter of God's pardon granted to us by his blessed Page 13Son. Beside, the philosophers were in some degree dark and doubtful in respect of death and futurity; and in relation to this world, there is not a power in their dis∣courses, to preserve us from being undone by allurements, in the midst of plenty, and to secure our peace against the casualties of fortune, and the torments of disappointments; to save us from the cares and sollicitudes which attend upon large possessions, and give us a mind capable of relishing the good things before us; to make us easy and satisfied as to the present, and render us secure and void of fear as to the future. These things we learn from revelation, and are informed by the sacred records only, that if we are placed here in the midst of many fears and sorrows, and are often perplexed with evils in this world; yet they are so many warnings not to set up our rest here, but to keep a sted∣fast eye upon the things which God has prepared for those who love him. It is the gospel informs us, there is another scene prepared for the moral world, and that justice only waits to see the full proof of the righteousness, or unrighteous∣ness of men: that that scene will open with the judgment seat of Christ, and we shall either receive glory and immor∣tality, if we have obeyed the calls of grace Page [unnumbered]to virtue and holiness; — or, be doomed to the most dreadful miseries, if we reject the counsel of God, and live quite thought∣less of the great concerns of eternity. These considerations made me prefer reveled re∣ligion, in the beginning of my rational life. The morality of the antient philosophers I admired. With delight I studied their wri∣tings, and received, I gratefully confess, much improvement from them. But the reli∣gion of our blessed Lord I declared for, and look on the promised Messiah as the most consummate blessing God could be∣stow, or man receive. God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning every one of you from your iniquities. And would men but hear and obey this life-giving Redeemer, his Gos∣pel would restore reason and religion to their rightful authority over mankind; and make all virtue, and true goodness, flourish in the earth.
8. Of false religion.
But I must observe that, by the reli∣gion of the New Testament, I do not mean any of those modern schemes of religion, which discover the evident marks and signa∣tures of superstition and enthusiasm, or of knavery and imposture; those systems which even miracles cannot prove to be true, be∣cause the pieties are absurd, inconsistent and contradictory. The notions that are not Page 15characterized by the reason of things, and the moral fitness of actions, I considered as repugnant to the veracity, wisdom, and good∣ness of the Almighty, and concluded, that that only could be christian religion, which beared the visible marks and signatures of be∣nevolence, social happiness, and moral fitness, and was brought down from heaven to in∣struct mankind in the worship of One eter∣nal mind, and bring them to repentance, and amendment of life. This was the reli∣gion I found in my Bible. I saw with plea∣sure, as I thoughtfully went through the di∣vine pages, that natural religion is the foun∣dation and support of revelation; — supplies the defects of nature, but never attempts to overthrow the established principles of it; —casts new light upon the dictates of reason, but never overthrows them. Pure theism, and Christ the appointed Mediator, Advocate, and Judge, by a commission from God the Father, to me appeared to be the Gospel;— and the directions of the holy Spirit, to be∣lieve in one supreme independent first cause, and worship in spirit and truth this one God and Father of All, in the name of Christ Je∣sus; as the disciples of the Messiah; to copy after the life of our blessed Saviour, and to the utmost of our abilities, obey all his commands.—This was the religion I found in the writings of the apostles, and I then Page 16determined to regard only this Gospel-doctrine.
9. Cosmogra∣phy and Mathe∣maticks.
The manner of my studying Cosmo∣graphy and Mathematicks is not worth set∣ting down, as there was nothing uncommon in it. In the one I only learned to distinguish climates, latitudes, and the four divisions of the world; the provinces, nations, king∣doms and republicks comprized therein, and to be able to discourse upon them: — And in the other, I went no further than to make myself a master of vulgar and decimal arith∣metick, the doctrine of infinite series, and the application of algebra, to the higher geo∣metry of curves. Algebra I was charmed with, and found so much pleasure in resolv∣ing its questions, that I have often sat till morning at the engaging work, without a notion of its being day till I opened the shut∣ters of my closet. I recommend this study in particular to young gentlemen, and am sa∣tisfied, if they would but take some pains at first to understand it, they would have so great a relish for its operations, as to prefer them many an evening to the clamorous plea∣sures; or, at least, not be uneasy for being a∣lone now and then, since their algebra was with them.
10. Method of reading History.
In reading history, (my last years prin∣cipal employment, during my residence in college), I began with the best writers of an∣tient history and ended with modern times, epochs, centuries, ages; the extent of em∣pires, Page 17kingdoms, common-wealths; their progress, revolutions, changes and declen∣sions; the number, order, and qualities of the Princes, that have reigned over those states and kingdoms, their actions military and civil; the characters and actions of the great men that flourished under them; and the laws, the arts, learning and manners, I carefully marked down, and observed not only how the first governments were form∣ed, but what the progress was of industry and property, which may be called the ge∣nerative principle of empire.
When I had done with antient History, I sat down to the best modern stories I could get, and read of distant nations before I be∣gan to study my country's constitution, hi∣story and laws. When I had finished the histories of France, and Spain, and Italy, and Germany, and many more, then I turn∣ed to Great-Britain, and in the first place took a view of the English constitution and government, in the antient books of the common law, and some more modern wri∣ters, who out of them have given an account of this government. From thence I pro∣ceeded to our History, and with it joined in every King's reign the laws then made. This gave me an insight into the reason of our statutes, and shewed me the true ground up∣on which they came to be made, and what Page 18weight they ought to have. By this means, I read the history of my country with in∣telligence, and was able to examine into the excellence or defects of its government, and to judge of the fitness or unfitness of its or∣ders and laws. By this method I did like∣wise know enough of the law for an English gentleman, tho' quite ignorant of the chi∣cane, or wrangling and captious part of the law, and was well acquainted with the true measure of right and wrong. The arts how to avoid doing right, and to secure one's self in doing wrong, I never looked into.
11. A reflec∣tion on Hi∣story.
Thus did I read History, and many noble lessons I learned from it; just notions of true worth, true greatness, and solid hap∣piness. It taught me to place merit where it only lies, not in birth, not in beauty, not in riches, not in external shew and magnificence, not in voluptuousness; but, in a firm adherence to truth and rectitude; in an untainted heart, that would not pollute or prostitute its in∣tegrity in any degree, to gain the highest worldly honours, or to ward off the greatest worldly misery. This is true magnanimity: And he alone can be truly happy, as well as truly great, who can look down with ge∣nerous contempt upon every thing that would tempt him to recede in the smallest degree from the paths of rigid honesty, candour and veracity.
Are you moderate in your desires, frugal, and obliging to your friends? Do you know when to spare, and when to be liberal, as occasion requires? And can you give a check to your avarice, in spight of all temptations which are laid in your way? Can you refrain from being too greedy in your pursuits after riches? When you can sincerely affirm that you are master of your self, and of all these good qualities, then you are free in∣deed, Page 20and wise, by the propitious power of Jove and the Praetor.
But if you retain the old habits of a slave, and harbour ill qualities, under the hypo∣critical appearance of virtue, you are as much a slave as ever, while thus enslaved to your vices. Philosophy gives no indulgence to vice — makes no allowance for any crime. If in wagging your finger, you acted against reason, you transgress, tho' the thing be of so trifling a nature. All the sacrifices you can offer will never pass for a dram of rec∣titude, while your conduct is faulty. Wis∣dom is incompatible with folly.
This is the great lesson, that virtue alone is true honour, true freedom, and solid, du∣rable happiness. It is indeed its own re∣ward. There are no satisfactions equal to, or comparable with virtuous, rational ex∣ercises; nor can virtuous dispositions, and well improved moral powers be rewarded, or receive happiness suited to their nature, but from their exercises and employments about proper objects. And as virtue gives pleasure here in proportion to the improve∣ments it makes, far beyond all that mere sense can yield, in the most advantageous circumstances of outward enjoyment; so in a state to come, it shall be so placed as its improvements require, that is, be placed in cir∣cumstances that shall afford it business or employment proportioned to its capacity, and by means thereof the highest satisfaction. — Such a basis for building moral instruc∣tions upon we find in history. We are warned in some pages to avoid the miseries and wretchedness which many have fallen into by departing from reason or virtue: — And in others, we meet with such virtuous characters and actions, as set forth the charms Page 22of integrity in their full lustre, and prove that virtue is the supreme beauty, the su∣preme charm: that in keeping the precepts of moral rectitude, we secure a present fe∣licity and reward; and have a presage of those higher rewards which await a steady course of right conduct in another world.— Glorious, natural virtue! Would mankind but hearken to its voice, and obey its dic∣tates, there would be no such Beings as In∣vaders, Delinquents, and Traitors, in this lower world. The social inclinations and dispositions would for ever prevail over the selfish appetites and passions. The law of benevolence would be the rule of life. The advancement of the common good would be the work of every man.
12. A Reflec∣tion on Go∣vernment and Reli∣gion.
The case however is; that the gene∣rality of mankind are too corrupt, to be go∣verned by the great universal law of social na∣ture, and to gratify ambition, avarice, and the like, employ a cunning or power, to seize the natural rights and properties of others: and there∣fore, to natural virtue grounded on the reason and fitness of things, in themselves, the first and principal mean of securing the peace and happiness of society, it was necessary to add two other grand principles, civil government and Religion, and so have three conducible means to social happiness. These three are ne∣cessary to the being of a publick, and of Page 23them, religion as I take it, is of the first consequence; for the choice few on∣ly mind a natural Virtue, or benevolence flowing from the reason, nature, and fitness of things; and civil government cannot always secure the happines of mankind in particular cases: but Religion, rightly understood, and fixed upon its true and proper foundation, might do the work, in conjunction with the other two principles, and secure the happiness of Society. If mankind were brought to the belief and worship of one only true God, and to a sincere obedience to his Will, as we have it discovered in Revelation, I think, appetite and passion would cease to invade by violence or fraud, or set up for private interest in opposition to the publick stock or common good. But, alas! Reli∣gion is so far from being rightly under∣stood, that it is rendered by some explainers the most doubtful and disputable thing in the world. They have given it more phases than the moon, and made it every thing, and nothing, while they are screaming or forcing the people into their several factions. This destroys the moment of Religion, and the multitude are thereby wan∣dered into endless mazes and perplexities, and rendered a hairing, staring, wrathful rabble; instead of being transformed into such christians as filled the first church at Page 24Jerusalem; christians who acknowledged and worshipped God the Father Almighty, in the name of Christ, that is, under a belief of that authority and power which the Father of the Universe has, for the good of mankind, conferred upon him; and in humility and meekness, in mortification and self-denial, in a renunciation of the spirit, wisdom, and honours of this world, in a love of God, and desire of doing God's will, and seeking only his honour, were by the Gospel made like unto Christ. Golden Religion! Golden Age! The Doctrine of Christianity was then a Restoration of true Religion: the practice of Christianity, a Re∣storation of human Nature. But now, alas! too many explainers are employed in dark∣ening and making doubtful the reveled Will of God, and by paraphrases, expositions, com∣mentaries, notes, and glosses, have almost rendered revelation useless. What do we see in the vast territories of Popery, but a perfect Di∣abolism in the place of the religion of our Lord; doctrines the most impious and absurd, the most inconsistent and contradictory in themselves, the most hurtful and mischievous in their con∣sequences; the whole supported by persecu∣tion, by the sophistry of learned knaves, and the tricks of jugling priests? And if we turn our eyes from these regions of imposture and cruelty, to the realms of protestants, do we not find some learned christian crities and ex∣positors Page 25reducing the inspired writings to a dark science? without regard to the nature and intrinsick character of their doctrines, do they not advance notions as true and di∣vine, which have not one appearance of di∣vine Authority; but, on the contrary, mili∣litate with the reason of things, and the mo∣ral fitness of actions; and are so far from be∣ing plain and clear, free from all doubtful∣ness, or ambiguity, and suited to the under∣standings and capacity of men, that the dark∣ness of them renders such pretended re∣velations of little service; and impeaches the veracity, wisdom, and goodness of God? Alas! too many explainers are clamorous, under the infallible strength of their own persuasions, and exert every power to un∣man us into believers. How the apostles argued for the great excellency and dignity of Christianity is not with them the que∣stion; so far as I am able to judge from their learned writings; but the fathers, and our spiritual superiors have put upon the sa∣cred writings the proper explications; and we must receive the truth as they dis∣pense it to us. This is not right, in my con∣ception. I own it does not seem to answer the end of the Messiah's coming, which was to restore Reason and Religion to their rightful authority over mankind; and to make all virtue, and true goodness, flourish in the earth; the most perfect blessing to Page 26be sure that God could bestow on man, or man receive from God. This blessing we must miss, if human authority is to pin us down to what it pleases to call sense of scripture, and will set up the judgment of fallible men as the test of Christianity. The Christian Laity are miserable indeed, if they be put under an obligation to find that to be truth which is taught by these Leaders. In truth, we should be unhappy men, with a revelation in our churches and our closets, if the leaders had a right to make their own faith pass for the faith of the Apostles; or, if we refused it, might lance the weapons of this world at their people. What must we do then as true Christians? I think for my self, that we ought to form our judgment, in matters of faith, upon a strict, serious and impartial examination of the Holy Scriptures, without any regard to the judgment of others, or human authority whatever: that we ought to open the sacred records, without minding any systems, and from the reveled word of God learn that, Christianity does not consist in a jingle of unintelligible sounds, and new fundamentals, hewn out by craft, enthu∣siasm, or bigotry, and maintained with an outrage of uncharitable zeal, which delivers Christians to the flames of an eternal hell: but that, the heavenly religion of our Lord consists in looking on the promised Messiah,Page 27as the most consummate blessing God could bestow, or man receive; and that Jesus is that Messiah; in acting according to the rules of the Gospel, and in studying to imitate God, who is the most perfect under∣standing nature, in all his moral perfections; in becoming the Children of God by being (according to our capacity) perfect as he is perfect, and holy as he is holy, and merciful as he is merciful; and in our whole moral behaviour as like to him as possible.
In a word, to flee injustice, oppression, in∣temperance, impurity, pride, unmercifulness, revenge: — to practise justice, piety, tem∣perance, chastity, humility, beneficence, pla∣cability — to turn from our iniquities to the practice of all virtue: and through the alone mediation of the only-begotten Son of God, believe in and worship the eternal mind, the one supreme Spirit, in hope of a glorious immortality, through the sanctification of the Holy Ghost: — These are the things the Lord came down to teach mankind. For the New Testament itself then we must de∣clare, and look upon it as the only guide, or rule of faith. It is now the only deliverer of the declarations of our Lord: And the rule in our enquiry is, that every thing necessary to be believed by a Christian, is in those Books not left to be gathered by consequences, or implications; but the things necessary to Page 28obtain the favor of God promised to Chri∣stians are expressly declared. If this was not the case — if things absolutely necessary were not expressly proclaimed to be so, the gospel revelation would be no rule at all (1) .
13. The story of Harriot Noel.
But it is time to tell my reader the story of the beautiful Harriot Noel, which I promised in my third memorandum. — Page 29On the glorious first of August, before the beasts were roused from their lodges, or the Page 30birds had soared upwards, to pour forth their morning harmony; while the mountains and the groves were overshadowed by a dun obscurity, and the dawn still dappled the drowsy East with spots of grey; in short, before the sun was up, or, with his auspi∣cious presence, began to animate inferior na∣ture, I left my chamber, and with my gun and dog, went out to wander over a pleasant country. The different aspects and the va∣rious points of view were charming, as the light in fleecy rings encreased; and when the whole flood of day descended, the im∣bellished early scene was a fine entertainment. Delighted with the beauties of this morn∣ing, I climbed up the mountains, and tra∣velled through many a valley. The game was plenty, and for full five hours, I journeyed onward, without knowing where I was going, or thinking of a return to college.
About nine o'clock however I began to grow very hungry, and was looking round to see if I could discover any proper habi∣tation Page 31to my purpose, when I observed in a valley, at some distance, something that looked like a mansion. That way therefore I moved, and with no little difficulty, as I had a precipice to descend, or must go a mile round, to arrive at the place I wanted: down therefore I marched, got a fall by the way that had like to have destroyed me, and after all, found it to be a shed for cat∣tle. The bottom however was very beau∣tiful, and the sides of the hills sweetly copsed with little woods. The valley is so divided, that the rising sun gilds it on the right hand, and when declining, warms it on the left.
A pretty brook here likewise babbles along, and even Hebrus strays not round Thrace with a purer and cooler stream.
Fons etiam rivo dare nomen idoneus, ut nec Frigidior Thracam nec purior ambiat Hebrus.
Finding one of the garden doors left open, I entred immediately, and to screen my self from the scorching beams of the sun, got into an imbowered way, that led me to a large fountain, in a ring or circu∣lar opening, and from thence, by a gradual, easy, shady ascent, to a semicircular amphi∣theatre of ever-greens, that was quite charm∣ing. In this were several seats for ease, re∣past, or retirement; and at either end of it a rotunda or temple of the Ionick or∣der. One of them was converted into a grotto or shell-house, in which a politeness of fancy had produced and blended the greatest beauties of nature and decoration. The other was a library, filled with the finest books, and a vast variety of mathe∣matical instruments. Here I saw Miss Noel sitting, and so intent at writing, that she did not take any notice of me, as I stood at the window, in astonishment looking at the things before me, and especially at the Page 33amazing beauties of her face, and the splen∣dor of her eyes; as she raised them now and then from the paper she writ on, to look in∣to a Hebrew Bible, that lay open upon a small desk before her. The whole scene was so very uncommon, and so vastly amaz∣ing, that I thought my self for a while on some spot of magic ground, and almost doubted the reality of what my eyes beheld; till Miss Noel, by accident, looked full at me, and then came forward to the open window, to know who I wanted.
Before I could answer, I found a venera∣ble old gentleman standing by my side, and he seemed much more surprized at the sight of me than his daughter was; for, as this young lady told me afterward, she guessed at once the whole affair; seeing me with my gun and dog, in a shooting dress; and knew it was a natural curiosity brought me into the garden, and stoped me at the window, when I saw her in such an attitude, and in such a place. — This I assured them was the truth of my case, with this small addition however, that I was ready to perish for want of something to eat; having been from four in the morning at hard exercise, and had not yet broke my fast.— If this be the case, says the good old man, you are welcome, Sir, to Eden-Park, and you shall soon have the best breakfast our house affords.
Page 34Upon this Mr. Noel brought me into his house, and the lovely Harriot made tea for me, and had such plenty of fine cream, and extraordinary bread and butter set before me, that I breakfasted with uncommon pleasure. The honour and happiness of her company rendered the repast quite delightful. There was a civility so very great in her manner, and a social goodness so charming in her talk and temper, that it was unspeakable delight to sit at table with her. She asked me a number of questions relating to things and books, and people, and there was so much good sense in every inquiry, so much good humour in her reflections and replications, that I was intirely charmed with her mind; and lost in admiration, when I contemplated the wonders of her face, and the beauties of her person.
When breakfast was over, it was time for me to depart, and I made half a dozen at∣tempts to rise from my chair; but without her laying a rosy finger on me, this illustri∣ous maid had so totally subdued my soul, and deprived me of all motive power, that I sat like the renowned Prince of the Massa∣getes, who was stiffened by inchantment in the apartment of the Princess Phedima, as we read in Amadis de Gaul. This Miss Noel saw very plain, and in compassion to my misfortune, generously threw in a hint Page [unnumbered]now and then, for a little farther conversa∣tion to colour my unreasonable delay. But this could not have been of service much longer, as the clock had struck twelve, if the old gentleman, her father, had not re∣turned to us, and told me, he insisted on my staying to dine with him; for he loved to take a glass after dinner with a facetious companion, and would be obliged to me for my company. At present (Mr. Noel continued) you will excuse me, Sir, as bu∣siness engages me till we dine: but my daughter will chat the hours away with you, and shew you the curiosities of her library and grott. Harriot will supply my place.
This was a delightful invitation indeed, and after returning my hearty thanks to the old gentleman for the favour he did me, I addressed my self to Miss Noel, when her father was gone, and we were walking back to the library in the garden, and told her in∣genuously, that tho' I could not be positive as to the situation of my soul, whether I was in love with her or not, as I never had experienced the passion before, nor knew what it was to admire a woman; having lived till that morning in a state of indifference to her sex; yet, I found very strange emo∣tions within me, and I was sure I could not leave her without the most lively and af∣flicting inquietude. You will pardon, I Page 36hope, Madam, this effusion of my heart, and suffer me to demonstrate by a thousand and a thousand actions, that I honour you in a manner unutterable, and from this time, can imagine no happiness but with you.
Page 37Miss Noel, (I answered) since it is your command, that I should be silent as to that flame your glorious eyes and understanding have lighted up in my soul, like some su∣perior nature, before whom I am nothing, silent I will be, and tell you what I fancy on a subject I am certain you understand much better than I do. My knowledge of the Hebrew is but small, tho' I have learned to read and understand the Old-Testament in the Ante-Babel language.
My opinion on your question is, that the Biblical Hebrew was the language of Para∣dise, and continued to be spoken by all men down to, and at the time of Moses writing the pentateuch, and long after. Abraham, tho' bred in Chaldea, could converse freely with the Egyptians, the Sodomites, and the King of Gerar; nor do we find, that any variety of speech interrupted the commerce of his son Isaac with the several nations a∣round, or that it ever stopt Jacob in his tra∣vels. Nay, the Israelites, in their journey through the desarts of Arabia, (after they had been some hundred years in Egypt) tho' joined by a mixt multitude, and meeting with divers kinds of people, had not cor∣rupted their language, and were easily un∣derstood, because it was then the universal one. The simplicity and distinctness of the Hebrew tongue preserved its purity so long Page 38and so universally. It could not well be de∣generate till the knowledge of nature was lost, as its words consist but of two or three letters, and are perfectly well suited to con∣vey sensible and strong ideas. It was at the captivity(2) , in the space of seventy years, that the Jews, by temporising with the ig∣norant victors, so far neglected the usage of their own tongue, that none but the scribes or learned men could understand Moses's books.
This I confess (Miss Noel said) is a plau∣sible account of the primaevity and pre-emi∣nence of the sacred Hebrew, but I think it is not necessary the account should be al∣lowed as fact. As to its being the language in Paradise, this is not very probable, as a compass of 1800 years must have changed the first language very greatly by an in∣crease of words, and new inflections, ap∣plications, and constructions of them. The few first inhabitants of the earth were oc∣cupied in few things, and wanted not a Page 41variety of words; but when their descendants invented arts and improved sciences, they were obliged to coin new words and technical terms, and by extending and transferring their words to new subjects, and using them figuratively, were forced to multiply the senses of those already in use. The lan∣guage to be sure was thus gradually culti∣vated, and every age improved it. All liv∣ing languages are liable to such change. I therefore conclude, that the language which served the first pair would not do for suc∣ceeding generations. It became vastly more copious and extensive, when the numbers of mankind were great, and their language must serve conversation and the ends of life, and answer all the purposes of intelligence and correspondence. New words and new terms of speech, from time to time were necessary, to give true ideas of the things, actions, offices, places, and times peculiar to the Hebrews. Even Hutchinson allows there was some coinage, some new words framed. We find in the lat∣ter prophets words not to be met with in the Pentateuch: and from thence we may sup∣pose, that Moses used words unknown to Nimrod and Heber: and that the men at Shinaar(3) had words which the people be∣fore Page [unnumbered]the flood were strangers to. Even in the seventeenth century, there must have been a great alteration in the lan∣guage of Adam; and when the venerable Patriarch and his family came into a new world, that was in a different state from the earth before the deluge, and saw a vast va∣riety of things without precedent in the old world, the alterations in nature and diet, must introduce a multitude of new terms in things of common experience and usage; as, after that amazing revolution in the natural world, not only the clouds and meteors were different, and the souls that were saved had a new and astonishing view of the ruin and repair of the system; but Noah did then be∣gin to be an husbandman; he planted a vine∣yard; he invented wine; and to him the first grant was given of eating flesh. All these things required as it were a new lan∣guage, and the terms to be sure with man∣kind encreased. The Noachical language must be quite another thing after the great events of the flood. Had Methuselah, who conversed many years with Adam, who re∣ceived Page 41from his mouth the history of the creation and fall, and who lived 600 years with Noah, to communicate to him all the knowledge he got from Adam; had this An∣tediluvian wise man been raised from the dead to converse with the postdiluvian fa∣thers, or even with Noah, the year he died, that is, 350 years after the flood; is it not credible, from what I have said, that he would have heard a language very different from that tongue he used in his conversa∣tions with Adam, even in the 930th year of the first man(4) ? I imagine, MethuselahPage 42would not have been able to have talked with Noah, at the time I have mentioned, of the circumstances that then made the case of mankind, and of the things of common experience and usage. He must have been unable to converse at his first appearance.
What you say, Madam, (I replyed) is not only very probable, but affords a satis∣faction unexpected in a subject on which we are obliged, for want of data, to use con∣jectures. I offer up to your superior sense the notion, that the Scriptures were wrote in the language of Paradise. Most certain it is, that even in respect of our own language, for example, the subjects of Henry the 1st, would find it as much out of their power to understand the English of George the 1st's reign, were they brought up again, as the ordinary people of our time are at a loss to make any thing of the English written in the 1st Henry's reign. But when I have granted this, you will be pleased to inform me, how Abraham and his sons conversed and com∣merced with the nations, if the Hebrew was not the universal language in their time? If the miracle at Babel was a confusion of tongues, as is generally supposed, how did the holy family talk and act with such distant Kings and people? Illuminate me, thou glo∣rious girl in this dark article, and be my teacher in Hebrew learning, as I flatter Page 43my self you will be the guide and dirigent of all my notions and my days. Yes, charm∣ing Harriot, my fate is in your hands. Dis∣pose of it as you will, and make me what you please.
You force me to smile, (the illustrious Miss Noel replyed) and oblige me to call you an odd compound of a man. Pray, Sir, let me have no more of those romantic flights, and I will answer your question as well as I can; but it must be at some other time. There is more to be said on the mi∣racle at Babel, and its effects, than I could dispatch between this and our hour of dining, and therefore, the remainder of our leisure till dinner, we will pass in a visit to my grotto, and in walking round the garden to the parlour we came from. To the grotto then we went, and to the best of my power I will give my reader a description of this splendid room.
Nor was her fine genius less visible in the striking appearance of the extremely beau∣tiful shells and valuable curiosities, all round the apartment. Her father spared no cost to procure her the finest things of the ocean and rivers from all parts of the world, and pebbles, stones, and ores of the greatest cu∣riosity and worth. These were all disposed in such a manner as not only shed a glo∣rious lustre in the room, but shewed the un∣derstanding of this young lady in natural knowledge.
In one part of the grot, were collected and arranged the stony coverings of all the shell-fish in the sea, from the striated patella and its several species, to the pholades in all their species: and of those that live in the fresh streams, from the suboval limpet or um∣bonated patella and its species, to the trian∣gular, Page 46and deeply striated cardia. Even all the land-shells were in this collection, from the pomatia to the round-mouthed turbo. The most beautiful genera of the sea-shells, in∣termixed with fossil corals of all the kinds; with animal substances become fossil; and with copper-ores; agates; pebbles, pieces of the finest marmora and alabastritae, and the most elegant and beautiful marcasites, and chrystals, and spars. These filled the greatest part of the walls, and in classes, here and there, were scattered, as foils to raise the lustre of the others, the inferior shells.
Among the simple sea-shells, that is, those of one shell, without a hinge, I saw several rare ones, that were neither in Mrs. O'Hara's, nor in Mrs. Crafton's grottos in Fingal, as I observed to those ladies (5) . The shells I mean are the following ones.Page 47
- Fine shells.
- 1. The Sea Trumpet.The sea-trumpet, which is in its per∣fect state, nine inches long, an inch and half diameter at its mouth or irregular lip, and the opening at the small end about half an inch. The surface is a beautiful brown, prettily spotted with white, and the pipe has fourteen annular ridges that are a little ele∣vated, and of a fine purple colour.
- 2. The Admi∣ral.The admiral is vastly beautiful, a vo∣luta two inches and a half long, and an inch in diameter, at the head, from whence it decreases to a cone with an obtuse point. The ground colour is the brightest, elegant yellow, finer than that of Sienna marble, and this ground so variegated with the Page 48brightest colours, that a little more than a third part of the ground is seen. Broad fasciae, the most charmingly varied, surround it, and the clavicle is the most elegant of ob∣jects in colours, brightness and irregularities. There is a punctuated line of variations that runs in the centre of the yellow fascia, and is wonderfully pretty. This beautiful East Indian sells at a great price.
- 3. The Crown Imperial.The crown imperial is likewise ex∣tremely beautiful. This voluta is four inches long, two in diameter at the top, and its head adorned with a charming series of fine tubercles, pointed at the extremities. The ground is a clear pale, and near the head and extremity of the shell, two very beautiful zones run round. They are of the brightest yellow, and in a manner the most elegant, are variegated with black and white purple. It is an East Indian.
- 4. The He∣brew Let∣ter.The Hebrew letter, another voluta, is a fine curiosity. It is two inches in length, and an inch and a quarter in diameter at the top. It is a regular conic figure, and its ex∣erted clavicle has several volutions. The ground is like the white of a fine pearl, and the body all over variegated with irregular marks of black, which have a near resem∣blance of the Hebrew characters. This ele∣gant shell is an East Indian. Page 49
- 5. The white Voluta.The white voluta, with brown and blue and purple spots. This very elegant shell, whose ground is a charming white, is found on the coast of Guinea, from five to six inches in length, and its diameter at the head often three inches. It tapers gradually, and at the extremity is a large obtuse. Its variegations in its spots are very beautiful, and its spots are principally disposed in many circles round the shell.
- 6. The But∣terfly.The butterfly is a voluta the most ele∣gant of this beautiful genus. Its length is five inches in its perfection, and two and a half broad at the head. The body is an ob∣tuse cone: the clavicle is pointed, and in se∣veral volutions. The ground is the finest yellow, and beautifyed all over with small brown spots, in regular and round series. These variegations are exceeding pretty, and as this rare East Indian shell has beside these beauties three charming bands round the body, which are formed of large spots of a deep brown, a pale brown, and white, and resemble the spots on the wings of butterflies, it is a beautiful species indeed. The animal that inhabits this shell is a limax.
- 7. The Tulip Cylinder.The tulip cylinder is a very scarce and beautiful native of the East-Indies, and in its state of perfection and brightness of colour, of great value. Its form is cylindric, its length four inches, and its diameter two and Page 50a half, at its gratest increase. Its clavicle has many volutions, and terminates in an obtuse point. The ground colour is white, and its variegations blue and brown. They are thrown into irregular clouds in the most beautiful manner, and into some larger and smaller spots. The limax inhabits this fine shell.
I likewise saw in this grotto the finest species of the purpura, the dolia, and the porcellana. There was of the first genus the thorny woodcock: — of the second, the harp shell: — and of the third, the argus shell.
- 8. The thorny Woodcock.The thorny woodcock is ventricose, and approaches to an oval figure. Its length, full grown, is five inches; the clavicle short, but in volutions distinct; and its rostrum from the mouth twice the length of the rest of the shell. This snout and the body have four series of spines, generally an inch and half long pointed at the ends, and somewhat crooked. The spines lie in regular, longitudinal series. The mouth is almost round, but the opening is continued in the form of a slit up the rostrum. The colour of this American, and extremely elegant shell, is a tawny yellow, with a fine mixture of a lively brown, and by bleaching on the coasts, it gets many spots of white.
- 9. The Harp.The beautiful harp is a Chinese; three inches and half long, and two and a half Page 51in diameter. The shell is tumid and in∣flated, and at the head largest. It has an oblong clavicle in several volutions, pointed at the extremity, and the other extreme is a short rostrum. The whole surface is orna∣mented with elevated ribs, that are about twice as thick as a straw, and as distant from each other as the thickness of four straws. The colour is a fine deep brown, variegated with white and a paler brown, in a manner surprizingly beautiful.
- 10. The Argus.The extremely elegant argus is from the coast of Africa, and is sometimes found in the East-Indies. Its length, in a state of perfection, is four inches and a half; its di∣ameter three. It is oblong and gibbous, has a wide mouth, and lips so continued beyond the verge, as to form at each extremity a broad and short beak. The colour is a fine pale yellow, and over the body are three brown fasciae: but the whole surface, and these fasciae, are ornamented with multitudes of the most beautiful round spots, which re∣semble eyes in the wings of the finest but∣terflies. The limax inhabits this charm∣ing shell. This creature is the sea-snail.
- 11. The concha of Venus.The concha of Venus was the next shell in this young lady's collection that en∣gaged my attention. One of them was three inches long, and two and a half in diameter. The valves were convex, and in longitudinal Page 52direction deeply striated. The hinge at the prominent end was large and beautifully wrought, and the opening of the shell was covered with the most elegant wrinkled lips, of the most beautiful red colour, finely in∣termixed with white; these lips do not unite in the middle, but have slender and beau∣tiful spines round about the truncated ends of the shell. This shell of Venus is an Ame∣rican, and valued by the collectors at a high rate.
- 12. The Ham∣mer Oyster.But of all the curious shells in this won∣derful collection, the hammer oyster was what I wondered at most; it is the most extraordinary shell in the world. It resembles a pickax, with a very short handle and a long head. The body of the shell is in the place of the han∣dle of the instrument, and is four inches and a half long, and one inch and a half in diameter. What answered to the head of the pickax was seven inches long, and three quarters of an inch in diameter. This head terminates at each end in a narrow obtuse point, is uneven at the edges, irregular in its make, and lies crosswise to the body: yet the valves shut in the closest and most elegant manner. The edges are deeply fur∣rowed and plated, and the lines run in ir∣regular directions. The colour without is a fine mixture of brown and purple; and within, a pearly white, with a tinge of Page 53purple. This rare shell is an East-Indian, and whenever it appears at an auction is rated very high. I have known ten guineas given for a perfect one.
With a large quantity of these most beau∣tiful shells, which are rarely seen in any collections, and with all the family of the pectens, the cardiae, the solens, the cylindri, the murexes, the turbines, the buccina, and every species of the finest genera of shells, Miss Noel formed a grotto that exceeded every thing of the kind I believe in the world; all I am sure that I have seen, ex∣cept the late Mrs. Harcourt's in Richmond∣shire; which I shall give my Reader a de∣scription of, when I travel him up those English Alpes. It was not only, that Miss Noel's happy fancy had blended all these things in the wildest and most beautiful disposition over the walls of the rotunda; but her fine genius had produced a variety of grotts within her grotto, and falling wa∣ters, and points of view. In one place, was the famous Atalanta, and her delightful cave: and in another part, the Goddess and Ulysses's son appeared at the entrance of that grott, which under the appearance of a rural plainness had every thing could charm the eye: the roof was ornamented with shell-work; the tapestry was a tender Page 54vine; and limpid fountains sweetly purled round.
The MASTER SCIENCE.
All things have their nature, their make and form, by which they act, and by which they suffer. The vegetable proceeds with perfect insensibility. The brute possesses a sense of what is pleasurable and painful, but stops at mere sensation. The rational, like the brute, has all the powers of mere sen∣sation, but enjoys a farther transcendent faculty. To him is imparted the master∣science of what he is, where he is, and the end to which he is destined. He is directed by the cannon of reason to reverence the dig∣nity Page 55of his own superior character, and never wretchedly degrade himself into natures to him subordinate. The master science (he is told) consists in having just ideas of plea∣sures and pains, true notions of the moments and consequences of different actions and pursuits, whereby he may be able to mea∣sure, direct or controul his desires or aver∣sions, and never merge into miseries. Re∣member this, Arrianus. Then only you are qualified for life, when you are able to oppose your appetites, and bravely dare to call your opinions to account; when you have established judgment or reason as the ruler in your mind, and by a patience of thinking, and a power of resisting, before you choose, can bring your fancy to the test of truth. By this means, furnished with the knowledge of the effects and conse∣quences of actions, you will know how you ought to behave in every case. You will steer wisely through the various rocks and shelves of life. In short, Arrianus, the de∣liberate habit is the proper business of man; and his duty, to exert upon the first proper call, the virtues natural to his mind; that piety, that love, that justice, that veracity, that gratitude, that benevolence; which are the glory of human kind. Whatever is fated in that order of incontroulable events, by which the divine power preserves and adorns Page 56the whole, meet the incidents with magnani∣mity, and co-operate with chearfulness in whatever the supreme mind ordains. — Let a fortitude be always exerted in endurings; a justice in distributions; a prudence in moral offices; and a temperance in your natural appetites and pursuits. — This is the most perfect humanity. This do, and you will be a fit actor in the general drama; and the only end of your exist∣ence is the due performance of the part al∣lotted you.
The cry (said he) still is as it was in the days of Horace—
And what Catullus told his Lesbia, is it not approved to this day by the largest part of the great female world?
The girls all learns this lesson before their Page 58A. B. C: And as to the opinion of the poet, it shews how sadly the Augustan age, with all its learning, and polite advantages, was corrupted: and as Virgil makes a jest of his own fine description of a paradise or the Ely∣sian fields; as is evident from his dismissing his hero out of the ivory gate; which shews he was of the school of Epicurus; it is from these things manifest, that we can never be thankful enough for the principles and dic∣tates of reveled religion: we can never suf∣ficiently adore the goodness of the most glo∣rious Eternal for the gospel of Jesus Christ; which opens the unbounded regions of eter∣nal day to the virtuous and charitable, and promises them a rest from labour, and ever blooming joys: while it condemns the wicked to the regions of horror and solid darkness; that dreadful region, from whence the cries of misery for ever ascend, but can never reach the throne of mercy.—O heavenly religion! designed to make men good, and for ever happy: that preserves the dignity of human nature — Guards and encreases virtue—And brings us to the realms of perfect reason and excellent glory.
But (continued this fine old Gentleman) Tibulius has ever pleased me in the de∣scription of his mistress: Page 59
These elegant lines contain an inimitably beautiful description of outward grace, and its charming effects upon all who see it. Such a grace, without thinking of it, every one should strive to have, whatever they are doing. They should make it habitual to them. Quintilian seems to have had these fine lines in view, in his description of out∣ward behaviour: Neque enim gestum com∣poni ad similitudinem saltationis volo, sed sub∣esse aliquid, in hac exercitatione puerili, un∣de nos non id agentes, furtim decor ille dis∣centibus traditus subsequatur. Cap. 10.—I am not for having the mein of a gentleman the same with that of a dancing-master; but that a boy while young, should enter upon this exercise, that it may communicate a se∣cret gracefulness to his manner ever after.
In this manner, did the old gentleman and I pass the time, till the clock struck five, when Miss Noel came into the parlour again, and her father said he must retire, to take Page 60his evening nap, and would see me at sup∣per; for with him I must stay that night. Har∣riot, make tea for the Gentleman. I am your servant, sir; and he withdrew. To Harriot then, my life and my bliss, I turned, and o∣ver a pot of tea was as happy, I am sure, as ever with his Statira sat the conqueror of the world. I began to relate once more the story of a passion, that was to form one day, I hoped, my sole felicity in this world, and with vows and protestations affirmed, that I loved from my soul. Charming an∣gel, I said, the beauties of your mind have inspired me with a passion, that must en∣crease every time I behold the harmony of your face; and by the powers divine, I swear to love you, so long as Heaven shall permit me to breath the vital air. Bid me then either live or die, and while I do live, be assured, that my life will be devoted to you only.—But in vain was all this warmth. Miss Noel sat as unmoved as Erycina on a monument, and only answered, with a smile, Since your days, sir, are in my disposal, I de∣sire you will change to some other subject, and some article that is rational and useful: otherwise, I must leave the room.
As to a confusion of confessions (Miss Noel replyed), it appears to me to be a notion without any foundation to rest on. The argument of Hutchinson that the word Shep∣hah, the name for a lip, when used for the voice or speech, is never once in the Bible used in any other sense than for confession, is Page 62not good; because tho' Shephah is often ge∣nerally used for religious discourse or con∣fession; yet the phrases, other lips and other tongues, are also used for other langua∣ges, utterances, pronunciations, dialects. St. Paul, 1. Cor. 14.21.22. applys Shephah to language or dialect in his quotation from the prophet Isaiah, ch. 28. ver. 11.12.—He says, in the law it is written, With* MEN OF other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this peo∣ple, and yet for all that, they will not hear me: —And the words of the prophet are, speaking of Christ promised; with stammering lips, and another tongue will be speak to this people. It is evident from this, that the Hebrew word Shephah here signifies tongues or languages, and not confessions or discourse: So the apostle applies it, and explains the prophet: and by stammering lips Isaiah means the uncouth pro∣nunciations of barbarous dialects, or languages of the nations, which must produce in stran∣gers to them ridiculous lips or mouths; and in this he refers undoubtedly to the stammering and strange sounds, at the Babelconfusion; when God, by a miracle and visible exhibition, di∣storted their organs of speech, and gave them a trembling, hesitation, and precipitancy, as to vocal and other powers: In short, the mi∣raculous gift of tongues would in some mea∣sure affect the saints, in respect of pronuncia∣tion, Page 31as the miracle of Babel did the people of that place. (6) Nor is this the only place Page 64in scripture where Shephah, lip, signifies lan∣guage, pronunciations, and dialects; and where there is reference to the confusion of tongues at Babel: Isaiah speaking of the pri∣vileges of the godly, says,—Thou shalt not see a fierce people, of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive, (of a deeper lip than thou canst bear, Heb.) of a stammering or ridiculous tongue, that thou canst not understand. This is enough in answer to Mr. Hutchinson and his fautors, in respect of what they say on the confusion at Babel. This proves that the word Shephah, lip, signifies language, ut∣terance, dialect, as well as confession or dis∣course: and therefore, Moses, in his account of the miracle at Babel, might have meant a confusion of languages. That he did mean this, is plane not only from a tradition gone out into all the earth, which is a matter of greater regard than Mr. Hutchinson's fan∣cy; Page 65but because the sacred oracles allude to this event. Beside St. Paul aforementioned; the royal prophet in Psalm 55. ver. 9. refers to the means of the division of tongues, and denounces a curse in terms taken from that inflicted at Babel. Swallow up, O Lord, and divide their tongues. This seems to describe the manner of that confusion; — that the substance of the one language was sunk or swallowed up in a vast chaos of universal babble: and that out of that jargon, it was again (by another act) divided or broken into many particular dissonant dialects, or tongues.
All this (I said) is very just, and gives me delight and satisfaction. I am now con∣vinced, not only, that Hebrew was not the language of Paradise, or that Adam did not speak the tongue the old world used imme∣diately before the confusion at Babel; but likewise, that the division there was a division and confusion of the one language then spoken; and not a confusion of confessions, as Mr. Hutchinson affirms. Inform me however, if you please, what you mean by that tradition you mentioned, which declared the miracle of Babel was a confusion of languages.
The Jews tradition (replied Miss Noel) is preserved in their Targum, and tells us, that the whole earth after the flood was of one speech, or sort of words, and when at their first remove from Ararat, they came to Shinar, they consulted to build them a city,Page 66and a tower for an house of adoration, whose head might reach to, or be towards the Hea∣vens, and to place an image of the host of Heaven, for an object of worship, on the top of it; and to put a sword in his hand, that he might make war for them against the divine armies, to prevent their dispersion over the whole earth. Whereupon the word of the Lord was reveled from Heaven, to execute vengeance upon them, and the Lord corrupt∣ed their tongue, broke their speech into se∣venty languages, and scattered them over the face of the whole earth. No one knew what his fellow said: and they slew one another, and ceased from building the city. Therefore he called the name of it Babel; because there the Lord mingled together the tongues of all the inhabitants of the other. This you read in the Targum that was written before the days of Jesus Christ, as the Jews affirm: or, if not so early, yet it is a very antient book, and the doctor who composed it must certainly know the meaning of the word Shephah better than Mr. Hutchinson. It appears upon the whole, that the argu∣ment of this famous modern is without foundation.
It is indeed (I answered): But then I am not able to conceive how Abraham and his sons conversed with so many nations —or how the Hebrew that Moses writ in was preserved. Illuminate me in these things, Page 67illustrious Harriot, and from your fine un∣derstanding, let me have the honour and happiness of receiving true Hebrew lessons. Proceed I beseech you, and stop not till you have expounded to my understanding the true nature of Cherubim? What do you think of Mr. Hutchinson's Rub and Rubbim, and of his notions of Ezekiel's cherubic form.
To talk of Cherubim and Elohim (resum∣ed Miss Noel), and say all that ought to be said, (to speak to any purpose) of the three heads and four visages, the bull, the man, the lyon, and the eagle, mentioned in the prophet, requires more knowledge in Hebrew learn∣ing than I pretend to be mistress of, and must take up more time than there is now to spare. I may hereafter however, if you should chance to come again to our house, let you know my fancys upon these grand subjects, and why I cannot accord with Mr. Hutchinson and my father, in their notion of the Cherubim's signifying the unity of the essence, the distinction of the Persons, and man's being taken into the essence by his personal union with the second person, whose constant emblem was the lyon. This I con∣fess appears to my plain understanding very miserable stuff. I can see no text either in the Old Testament, or in the New, for a plurality of Beings, co-ordinate and inde∣pendent. The sacred pages declare there is One original perfect mind. The Lord shall Page 68be King over all the earth. In that day there shall be ONE LORD, and his name ONE; says the prophet Zechariah, speaking of the pro∣digious revolution in the Gentile world, whence in process of time, by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the worship of One true God shall prevail all over the earth, as universally as Polytheism had done before. — This I dare not observe to my father, as he is an admirer of Mr. Hutchinson, and will not bear any contradiction: but my private judg∣ment is, that Mr. Hutchinson on the Che∣rubim and Elohim or Eloim, is a mad commen∣tator, as I may show you, if we ever happen to meet again.
At present, all I can do more on the He∣brew subject, is to observe that, in respect of the preservation of the Hebrew tongue, I imagine the one prevailing language before the miracle at Babel, (which one language was afterwards called Hebrew) tho' divided and swallowed as it were at the Tower, was kept without change in the line of Shem, and continued their tongue. This cannot be disputed, I believe. I likewise imagine, it must be allowed, that this Hebrew conti∣nued the vernacular tongue of the old Ca∣naanites. It is otherwise unaccountable how the Hebrew was found to be the language of the Canaanites, when the family of Abra∣ham came among them again, after an ab∣sence of more than 200 years. If they had Page 69had another tongue at the confusion, was it possible for Abraham, during his temporary sojournments among them, and in the ne∣cessities of his peregrination, to persuade so many tribes to quit their dialect, and learn his language;— or, if his influence had been so amazing, can it be supposed, they would not return again to their old language, after he had left them, and his family was away from them more than 200 years? No, Sir. We cannot justly suppose such a thing. The language of the old Canaanites could not be a different one from the Hebrew. If you will look into Bochart(7) , you will find this was his opinion. That great man says the Ante-Babel language escaped the confusion two ways, viz. by the Canaanites, through God's providence preserving it in their co∣lonies for the future use of the Hebrews, who Page 70were to possess the land; and by the pa∣triarch Heber, as a sacred depositum for the use of his posterity and of Abraham in parti∣cular.
This being the case: the Phenician or Canaanitish tongue, being the same language that the line of Heber spoke, with this only difference, that by the latter it was retained in greater purity, being in the mouths of a few, and transmitted by instruction; it fol∣lows, that Abraham and his sons could talk with all these tribes and communities; and as to the other nations he had commu∣nication with, he might easily converse with them, as he was a Syrian by birth, and to be sure could talk the Aramitish dialect as well as Laban his brother. The Aramitish was the customary language of the line of Shem. It was their vulgar tongue. The language of the old world, that was spoken immediately before the confusion, and was called Hebrew from Heber, they reserved for sacred uses.
Here Miss Noel ended, and my amaze∣ment was so great, and my passion had risen so high for such uncommon female intelli∣gence, that I could not help snatching this beauty to my arms, and without thinking of what I did, impressed on her balmy mouth half a dozen kisses. This was wrong, and gave very great offence: but she was too Page 71good to be implacable, and on my begging her pardon, and protesting it was not a wilful rudeness, but the magic of her glo∣rious eyes, and the bright powers of her mind, that had transported me beside my self, she was reconciled, and asked me, if I would play a game of cards? With delight I replyed, and immediately a pack was brought in. We sat down to cribbage, and had played a few games, when by accident Miss Noel saw the head of my german flute, which I always brought out with me in my walks, and carried in a long pocket within side my coat. You play, Sir, I suppose, on that instrument, this lady said, and as of all sorts of musick this pleases me most, I re∣quest you will oblige me with any thing you please. In a moment I answered, and tak∣ing from my pocket book the following lines, I reached them to her, and told her I had the day before set them to one of Lulli's airs, and instantly began to breathe the softest harmony I could make —
Just as I was finishing this piece of mu∣sick, old Mr. Noel came into the parlour, Page 74in his wonted good humour, and seemed very greatly pleased with me and my in∣strument. He told me, I was the young man he wanted to be acquainted with, and that if it was no detriment to me, I should not leave him this month to come. Come, Sir, (continued this fine old gentleman) let me hear another piece of your musick — vocal or instrumental — as you will, for I suppose you sing as well as you play. Both you shall have, Sir, (I replied), to the best of my abilities, and by way of change, I will give you first a song, called the Solitude.
A SONG called the Solitude.
This song delighted the old gentleman to a great degree. He told me, he was charm∣ed Page 77with it, not only for the fine musick I made of it, but the morality of it, and liked me so much, that I was most heartily wel∣come to make his solitary retreat my home, as often and as long as I pleased. And in∣deed I did so, and continued to behave in such a manner, that in two months time, I gained so intirely his affections, and so to∣tally the heart of his admirable daughter, that I might have her in wedlock when I pleased, after the expiration of that current year, which was the young lady's request, and be secured of his estate at his death; beside a large fortune to be immediately paid down; and this, tho' my father should re∣fuse to settle any thing on me, or Miss Noel, my wife. This was generous and charming as my heart could desire. I thought my self the happiest of men. Every week I went to Eden-Park, one time or other, to see my dear Miss Noel, and pay my respects to her worthy father. We were while I stayed a most happy family, and enjoyed such satisfactions as few I believe have ex∣perienced in this tempestuous hemisphere. Mr. Noel was passionately fond of his daugh∣ter, and he could not regard me more if I had been his own son. I loved my Harriot with a fondness beyond description, and that glorious girl had all the esteem I could wish she had for me. Our mutual felicity could Page 78rise no higher till we gave our hands, as we had already plighted our hearts.
This world is a series of visionary scenes, and contains so little solid, lasting felicity, as I have found it, that I cannot call life more than a deception; and, as Swift says it, he is the happiest man, who is best deceived. When I thought myself within a fortnight of being married to Miss Noel, and thereby made as compleatly happy in every respect as it was possible for a mortal man to be, the small pox steps in, and in seven days time, reduced the finest human frame in the uni∣verse to the most hideous and offensive block. The most amiable of human creatures mor∣tifyed all over, and became a spectacle the most hideous and unbearable.—This broke her father's heart in a month's time, and the paradice I had in view, sunk into everlasting night.
I wish I could persuade you, reader, to resolve in the same manner. If you are young, and have not yet experienced life, believe me, all is vanity, disappointment, weariness, and dissatisfaction, and in the midst of troubles and uncertainties, we are hastening on to an unknown world, from whence we shall never return again. Whe∣ther our dissolution be near, we know not; but this is certain, that death, that universal conqueror, is making after us apace, to seize us as his captives; and therefore, tho' a man live many years, and rejoice in them all, (which is the case of very few), yet let him remember the days of darkness.
Page 81And when death does come, our lot may be the most racking pains and distempers, to fasten us down to our sick-beds, till we resign our spirits to some strange region, our breath to the common air, and our bodies to the dust from whence they were taken. Dismal si∣tuation! If in the days of our health, we did not make our happiness and moral worth correspond — did not labour, in the time of our strength, to escape from wrong opinion and bad habit, and to render our minds sin∣cere and incorrupt; if we did not worship and love the supreme mind, and adore his divine administration, and all the secrets of his pro∣vidence. If this was not our case, before corruption begins to lay hold of us, deplora∣ble must we be, when torments come upon us, and we have only hopeless wishes that we had been wiser, as we descend in ago∣nies to our solitary retreat; to proceed from thence to judgment. Language cannot paint the horrors of such a condition. The an∣guish of mind, and the torture of body, are a scene of misery beyond description.
Or if without torment, we lie down in si∣lence, and sink into the land of forgetfulness, yet, since the Lord Jesus is to raise us from the regions of darkness, and bring us to the sessions of righteousness, where all our ac∣tions are to be strictly tried and examined, and every one shall be judged according to Page 82the deeds done in the body, whether they have been good or evil; what can screen us from the wrath of that mighty power, which is to break off the strong fetters of death, and to throw open the iron gates of the grave, if injustice, cruelty, and oppression, have been our practice in this world; or if, in the neglect of the distressed and hungry, we have given up ourselves to chambering and wantonness, to gluttony and volutuous∣ness? It is virtue and obedience, acts of good∣ness and mercy, that only can deliver us. If we worship in spirit and in truth the most glori∣ous of immortal Beings, that God who is omni∣potent in wisdom and action, and perform all the offices of love and friendship to every man, then our Lord will pronounce us the blessed of his Father. If we do evil, we shall come forth unto the resurrection of damnation. — This merits your attention, reader, and I hope you will immediately begin to ponder, what it is to have a place assigned in incon∣ceivable happiness or misery for ever.
14. Left the University, and went down to see my father in the coun∣try, and had a very mi∣serable re∣ception.
Having thus lost Miss Noel, and my good old friend, her worthy father, I left the university, and went down to the country, after five years and three months absence, to see how things were posited at home, and pay my respects to my father; but I found them very little to my liking, and in a short time, returned to Dublin again. He Page 83had lately married in his old age a young wife, who was one of the most artful, false, and insolent of women, and to gratify her to the utmost of his power, had not only brought her nephew into his house, but was ridiculously fond of him, and lavishly gratifyed all his desires. Whatever this little brute (the son of a drunken beggar, who had been a journey-man glover) was pleased, in wantonness, to call for, and that his years, then sixteen, could require, my father's fortune in an instant produced; while scarcely one of my rational de∣mands could be answered. Money, cloaths, servants, horses, dogs, and all things he could fansy, were given him in abundance; and to please the basest of women, and the most cruel step-mother that ever the Devil inspired to make the son of another woman miserable, I was denied almost every thing. The fine allowance I had at the University was taken from me. Even a horse to ride out to the neighbouring gentlemen, was re∣fused me, tho' my father had three stables of extraordinary cattle; and till I purchased one, was forced to walk it, where-ever I had a mind to visit. What is still more incredi∣ble (if any thing of severity can be so, when a mother-in-law is sovereign) I was not al∣lowed to keep my horse even at grass on the land, tho' five hundred acres of freehold Page 84estate surrounded the mansion, but obliged to graze it at a neighbouring farmer's. Nor was this all the hard measure I received. I was ordered by my father to become the young man's preceptor; to spend my pre∣cious time in teaching this youngster, and in labouring to make the little despicable dunce a scholar. All this was more than I could bear. My life became insupportable, and I resolved to range even the wilds of Africa, if nothing better offered, rather than live a miserable slave under the cruel tyranny of those unrelenting oppressors.
My father however, by the way, was as fine a gentleman as ever lived, a man of ex∣traordinary understanding, and a scholar; likewise remarkably just and good to all the world, except my self, after I left the Uni∣versity: and to do him all the justice in my power, and vindicate him so far as I am able, I must not conceal, that great as the ascendant was, which my mother-in-law had over him, and as much as he was hen∣pecked by that low woman, who had been his servant maid, yet it was not to her only that my sufferings were owing. Religion had a hand in my misery. False religion was the spring of that paternal resentment I suffered under.
15. A religious dispute with my Father.
It was my father's wont to have prayers read every night and morning in his Page 85family, and the office was the litany of the common-prayer book. This work, on my coming home, was transferred from my sister to me, and for about one week I perform∣ed to the old gentleman's satisfaction, as my voice was good, and my reading distinct and clear: but this office was far from being grateful to me, as I was become a strict Unitarian, by the lessons I had received from my private tutor in college, and my own examinations of the vulgar faith. It went against my conscience to use the tritheistic form of prayer, and became at last so un∣easy to me, that I altered the prayers the first Sunday morning, and made them more agreeable to scripture as I conceived. My father at this was very highly enraged, and his passion arose to so great a height, upon my defending my confession, and refusing to read the established form, that he called me the most impious and execrable of wretches, and with violence drove me from his pre∣sence. Soon after however he sent me Lord Nottingham's Letter to Mr. Whiston, and desired I would come to him when I had carefully read it over. I did so, and he asked me what I thought of the book. I answered, that I thought it a weak piece, and if he would hear me with patience, in relation to that in particular, and to the case in general, perhaps he might think my re∣ligion Page 86a little better than at present he sup∣posed it to be. I will hear you, he said: proceed. — Then I immediately began, and for a full hour repeated an apology I had prepared (9) . He did not interrupt me once, and when I had done, all he replyed was, I see you are to be placed among the incurables. Be gone, he said, with stern disdain; and I resolved to obey. Indeed it was impossible for me to stay for my father took no farther notice of me, and my mo∣ther-in-law and the boy, did all they could invent to render my life miserable.
15. May 1, 1725. I left my father's house.
On the first day of May then, early in the morning, as the clock struck one, I mounted my excellent mare, and with my boy, O'Fin, began to journey as Page 87I had projected, on seeing how things went. I did not communicate my de∣sign to a soul, nor take my leave of any one, but in the true spirit of adventure, abandoned my father's dwelling, and set out to try what fortune would produce in my favor. I had the world before me, and Providence my guide. As to my substance, it consisted of a purse of gold, that con∣tained fifty Spanish pistoles, and half a score moidores; and I had one bank note for five hundred pounds, which my dear Miss Noel left me by her will, the morning she sick∣ened; and it was all she had of her own to leave to any one. With this I set forward, and in five days time arrived from the Western extremity of Ireland at a village called Rings-end, that lies on the Bay of Dublin. Three days I rested there, and at the Conniving-House(10) , and then got my horses on board a ship that was ready to sail, and Page 88bound for the land I was born in, I mean Old England.
16. My depar∣ture from Rings end, and what happened at sea.
The wind, in the afternoon, seemed good and fair, and we were in hopes of get∣ting to Chester the next day: but at mid∣night, a tempest arose, which held in all the horrors of hurricane, thunder and light∣ning, for two nights and a day, and left us no hope of escape. It was a dreadful scene indeed, and looked as if the last fatal as∣sault was making on the globe. As we had many passengers, their cries were terri∣ble, and affected me more than the flashing fires and the winds. For my part, I was well reconciled to the great change, but I confess that nature shrunk at the frightful manner of my going off, which I expected every moment the second night. At last however, we got into Whitehaven. It pleased the great King of all the earth to bid the storm, Have done.
Four remarkable things I noticed while the tempest lasted.
- The case of Dean Wha∣ley.
- One was, that the DeanPage 89of Derry, Dr. Whaley, whom we had on board, (who had nineteen hundred a year from the church, for teaching the people to be Christians) was vastly more afraid than one young lady of the company, who ap∣peared quite serene. The Dean, tho' a fine Orator at land, was ridiculous in his fears at sea. He screamed as loud as any of the people: But this young lady behaved, like an angel in a storm. She was calm and resigned, and sat with the mate and me, the second night, discoursing of the divine power, and the laws of nature, in such up∣roars. By the way, neither mate, nor master, nor hand, could keep the deck. The ship was left to the mercy of the winds and waves.
- The Case of Miss Mel∣noth.
- The second remarkable thing is, that as this young lady went into naked bed in her cabbin, the first night, before the tempest began to stir, it was not many hours till a sea struck us upon the quarter, and drove in one of our quarter, and one of our stern dead lights, where we shipped great quantities of water, that put us under great apprehensions of foundering, and filled so suddenly the close wooden bed in which Miss Melmoth lay, that had not I chanced to be then leaning against the partition, and snatched her out, the moment I found my self all over wet, and half covered with the breaking sea, she must inevitably have perished. I ran up on deck Page 90with her in my arms, and laid her al∣most senseless and naked there: and as there was no staying many minutes in that place, I threw my great coat over her, and then brought her down to my own birth, which I gave her, and got her dry cloaths from her trunk, and made her drink a large glass of brandy, which saved her life. She got no cold, which I thought very strange, but was hurt a little in the re∣move. When all was over, she protested she would never go into naked bed, on board ship, again.
- The case of some offi∣cers in the storm.
- The third particular is, that there were some officers on board, most monstrously wicked men, and when we were given over by the captain, and no hope he thought of being saved, these warriors lamented like young children, and were the most dismal, disturbing howlers on board: yet, when we got on land, they had done with O Lord, O Lord, and began again their obscene talk, and to damn themselves at every word to the center of hell.
- The cases of Gavan and Henley.
- The fourth thing was this. There was on board with us a young gentleman of my ac∣quaintance, one Pierce Gavan, who had been a fellow-commoner in my time of Trinity, Dub∣lin. The first day of the storm, he was carried over-board by a rolling sea, and fairly lodged in the ocean, at above twenty yards di∣stance from the ship; but the next tumbling Page 91billow brought him back again. He was laid on the deck without any hurt. On the contrary, one Charles Henley, a young mer∣chant, was beat over, and we never saw him more.
17. The passen∣gers land, and divide into several companies, May 10, 1725.
When we had obtained the wished for shore, the passengers all divided. The Dean and his lady, and some other ladies, went one way, to an inn recommended to them by a gentleman on board; the war∣riors and Gavan marched to another house; and the young lady, whose life was by me preserved, and I, went to the Talbot, which the mate informed me had the best things and lodging, tho' the smallest inn of the town. This mate, Mr. Whitwell, deserves to be particularly mentioned, as he was remark∣able for good breeding, good sense, and a Page 93considerable share of learning, tho' a sailor; as remarkable this way, as the captain of the ship was the other way, that is, for being the roughest and most brutal old tar that ever commanded a vessel.
18. The story of Whit∣well, the mate of the Skinner and Jenkins.
Whitwell the mate, about thirty-six years of age at this time, told me, he was the son of a man who once had a great for∣tune, and gave him a university education, but left an estate so encumbered with debts, and ruined with mortgages, that its income was almost nothing, and therefore the son sold the remains of it, and went to sea with an East-India captain, in the 22d year of his age, and was so fortunate abroad, that he not only acquired riches, in four years time that he trafficked about, between Batavia and the Gulph of Persia, but married a young Indian Lady, (the daughter of a Ra∣jah, or petty Prince in the Mogul Empire) who was rich, wise, and beautiful, and made his life so very happy, for three years that she lived, that his state was a mere Paradise, and he seemed a little sovereign. But this fleeting scene was soon over, and on his re∣turn to England with all his wealth, their ship was taken by the pirates of Madagascar, who robbed him of all he had, and made him a miserable slave for two years and up∣wards. That he escaped from them to the tawny generation of Arabs, who lived on Page 94the mountains, the other side of this African island, and used him with great humanity; their chief being very fond of him, and en∣tertaining him in his mud-wall palace: he married there a pretty little yellow creature, niece to the poor ruler, and for twelve months was very far from being miserable with this partner, as they had a handsome cottage and some cattle, and this wife was good-humour itself, very sensible, and a re∣ligious woman; her religion being half Ma∣hometanism and half Judaism. But she died at the years end, and her uncle, the Chief, not living a month after her, Whitwell came down from the mountains to the next sea coast under the conduct of one of the Ara∣bians, his friend, and meeting with a Eu∣ropean ship there, got at last to London. A little money he had left behind him in England, by way of reserve, in case of ac∣cidents, if he ever should return to his own country, and with this he drest himself, got into business, and came at last to be mate of the Skinner and Jenkins. His destiny, he added, was untoward, but as he had thought, and read, and seen enough in his wide travels, to be convinced, the world, and every being, and every atom of it, were directed and governed by unerring wisdom, he derived hopes and comforts from a due acknowledgment of God. There are more Page 95born to misery than to happiness, in this life: but all may die to be for ever glorious and blessed, if they please. — This conclusion was just and beautiful, and a life and senti∣ments so uncommon I thought deserved a memorial.
19. An uncom∣mon scene of life.
Miss Melmoth and I continued at the Talbot for three weeks, and during that time, breakfasted, dined, and supped together. Except the hours of sleep, we were rarely from each other. We walked out together every day, for hours conversed, sometimes went to cards, and often she sung, delight∣fully sung, while on my flute I played. With the greatest civility, and the most exact good manners, we were as intimate as if we had been acquainted for ages, and we found a satisfaction in each others company, as great as lovers generally experience: yet so much as one syllable of the passion was no mentioned: not the least hint of love on either side was given, while we stayed at Whitehaven; and I believe, neither of us had a thought of it. It was a friendship the most pure and exalted, that commenced at my saving her life, in the manner I have related, and by some strange kind of magic, our notions and inclinations, tempers and sentiments, had acquired such a sameness in a few days, that we seemed as two spiritual Socias, or duplicates of each others mind. Page 96Body was quite out of the case, tho' this lady had an extravagance of beauty. My sole delight was that fine percepient, which shed a lustre on her outward charms. How long this state would have lasted, had we conti∣nued more time together, and had the image of the late Miss Noel been more effaced, or worn out of the sensory of my head, I can∣not say; but while it did last, there could be nothing more strange. To see two young people of different sexes, in the highest spi∣rits and most confirmed health, live together for twenty-one days, perfectly pleased with each other, intirely at their own disposal, and as to fortune, having abundantly enough between them both for a comfortable life; and yet, never utter one word, nor give a look, that could be construed a declaration of the passion, or a tendency towards a more intimate union; — to compleat that con∣nexion which nature and providence requires of beings circumstanced as we were; — this was very odd. Till the clock struck twelve every night we sat up, and talked of a vast variety of things, from the Bible down to the clouds of Aristophanes, and from the comedies and tragedies of Greece and Rome to the Minerva of Sanctius, and Hickes's northern Thesaurus. Instead of Venus or any of her court, our conversation would often be on the morals of Cicero, his aca∣demicks, Page 97and de finibus; on the English or the Roman history; Shakespear's scenes of nature, or maps of life; whether the OEdipus or the Electra of Sophocles was the best tra∣gedy; and the scenes in which Plautus and Terence most excelled. Like two criticks, or two grammarians, antiquarians, historians, or philosophers, would we pass the evening with the greatest chearfulness and delight.
20. Miss Mel∣moth and part, June 2, 1725.
The 2d day of June Miss Melmoth and I left Whitehaven, and proceeded from thence to Westmoreland. We travelled for five days together, till we came to Brugh under Stainmore, where we stayed a night at Page 99Lamb's, (a house I recommend to the rea∣der, if ever he goes that way), and the next morning we parted. Miss Melmoth and her servants went right onwards to Yorkshire, and I turned to the left, to look for one Mr. Charles Turner, who had been my near friend in the University, and lived in some part of the north-east extremity of Westmoreland, or York∣shire. But before we separated on the edge of Stainmore, we stopped at the Bell to breakfast, which is a little lone house on a descent to a vast romantic glin, and all the public house there is in this wild, silent road till you come to Jack Railton, the Qua∣ker's house at Bows. We had a pot of coffee and toast and butter for breakfast, and as usual we were very chearful over it; but when we had done, and it was time to de∣part, a melancholy, like a black and dismal cloud, began to overspread the charming face of Charlotte, and after some silence, the tears burst from her eyes. What is the matter, Miss Melmoth, I said — what makes this amazing change? I will tell you, Sir, this beauty replyed. To you I owe my life, and for three weeks past have lived with you in so very happy a way, that the end of such a scene, and the probability of my never see∣ing you L ore, is too much for me. Miss Melmoth, (I answered) you do me more honor than I deserve in shedding tears for Page 100me, and since you can think me worth see∣ing again, I promise you upon my sacred word, that as soon as I have found a beloved friend of mine I am going up the hills to look for, and have paid my respects to him for a while, if he is to be found in this de∣solate part of the world, I will travel with my face in the next place, if it be possible, to∣wards the east-riding of Yorkshire, and be at Mrs. Asgil's door, where you say you are to be found. This restored the glories to Charlotte's face again, and for the first time, I gave Miss Melmoth a kiss, and bid her adieu.
21. A journey among the hills, in that part of Stainmore, which be∣longs to Westmor∣land. 1725, June 8.
Having thus lost my charming com∣panion, I travelled into a vast valley, en∣closed by mountains whose tops were above the clouds, and soon came into a country that is wilder than the Campagna of Rome, or the uncultivated vales of the Alps and Apennines. Warm with a classical enthu∣siasm, I journeyed on, and with fancy's eye beheld the rural divinities, in those sacred woods and groves, which shade the sides of many of the vast surrounding fells, and the shores and promontories of many lovely lakes and bright running streams. For several hours I travelled over mountains tremendous to behold, and through vales the finest in the world. Not a man or house could I see in eight hours time, but towards five in the afternoon, there appeared at the foot of Page 101a hill a sweetly situated cottage, that was half covered with trees, and stood by the side of a large falling stream: a vale extended to the south from the door, that was termi∣nated with rocks, and precipices on preci∣pices, in an amazing point of view, and through the flowery ground, the water was beautifully seen, as it winded to a deeper flood at the bottom of the vale. Half a dozen cows were grazing in view: and a few flocks of feeding sheep added to the beauties of the scene.
To this house I sent my boy, to enquire who lived there, and to know, if for the night I could be entertained, as I knew not where else to go. O' Fin very quickly re∣turned, and informed me, that one farmer Price was the owner of the place, but had gone in the morning to the next town, and that his wife said, I was welcome to what her house afforded. In then I went, and was most civilly received by an exceeding pretty woman, who told me her husband would soon be at home, and be glad she was sure to see me at their lone place; for he was no stranger to gentlemen and the world, tho' at present he rarely conversed with any one. She told me, their own supper would be ready an hour hence, and in mean time would have me take a can of fine ale and a bit of bread. She brought me a cup Page 102of extraordinary mault-drink and a crust, and while I was eating my bread, in came Mr. Price.
22. A surpriz∣ing meeting
The man seemed very greatly asto∣nished at entering the room, and after he had looked with great earnestness at me for a little while, he cryed out, Good Heaven! What do I see! Falstaff, my class-fellow, and my second self. My dear friend you are welcome, thrice welcome to this part of the world. All this surprized me not a little, for I could not recollect at once a face that had been greatly altered by the small-pox: And it was not till I reflected on the name Price that I knew I was then in the house of one of my school-fellows, with whom I had been most intimate, and had played the part of Plump Jack in Henry the fourth, when he did Prince Henry. This was an unexpected meeting indeed: and con∣sidering the place, and all the circumstances belonging to the scene, a thing more strange and affecting never came in my way. Our pleasure at this meeting was very great, and when the most affectionate salutations were over, my friend Price proceeded in the fol∣lowing manner.
Often have I remembered you since we parted, and exclusive of the Greek and English plays we have acted together at Sheridan's school, in which you acquired no Page 103small applause, I have frequently thought of our frolicksome rambles in vacation time, and the merry dancings we had at Mother Red-Cap's in Back-Lane; the hurling matches we have played at Dolphin's-Barn, and the cakes and ale we used to have at the Organ-house on Arbor-Hill. These things have often occurred to my mind: but little did I think we should ever meet again on Stainmore-hills. What strange things does time produce! It has taken me from a town life to live on the most solitary part of the globe:— And it has brought you to journey where never man I believe ever thought of travelling before. So it is, (I replyed), and stranger things, dear Jack, may happen yet before our eyes are closed: why I journey this untravelled way, I will inform you by and by; when you have told me by what strange means you came to dwell in this remote and silent vale. That you shall know, (Mr. Price said) very soon, as soon as we have eaten a morsel of something or other which my dear Martha has prepared against my return. Here it comes, a fowl, bacon and greens, and as fine I will answer as London market could yield. Let us sit down, my friend, and God bless us and our meat.
Down then we sat immediatly to our dish, and most excellent every thing was. Page 104The social goodness of this fond couple ad∣ded greatly to the pleasure of the meal, and with mirth and friendship we eat up our capon, our bacon, and our greens. When we had done, Price brought in pipes and tobacco, and a fresh tankard of his admi∣rable ale. Listen now (he said) to my story, and then I will hearken to yours.
23. The story of Jack Price.
When I left you at Sheridan's school, my remove was from Ireland to Barbadoes, to become a rich uncle's heir, and I got by my Indian airing a hundred thousand pounds. There I left the bones of my mother's bro∣ther, after I had lived two years in that burning place, and from thence proceeded to London, to spend what an honest, labo∣rious man had long toiled to save. But I had not been above three months in the ca∣pital of England, when it came into my head to pass some time in France, and with a girl I kept made hast to the French me∣tropolis. There I lived at a grand rate, and took from the French Opera-house another where. The Gaul and the Briton were both extreme fine girls, and agreed so well toge∣ther, that I kept them both in one house. I thought my self superlatively happy in hav∣ing such a brace of females, and spared no cost in procuring them all the finery and pleasures that Paris and London could yield. I had a furnished house in both these cities, Page 105and with an expensive equipage went back∣wards and forwards. In four years time I spent a great deal of money, and as I had lost large sums at play, and these two whores agreed in the end to rob me, and retire with the money, where I should never discover them, I found my self in very mid∣ling circumstances, and had not six hun∣dred pounds left in the fourth year from my uncle's death. How to dispose of this and my self was now the question. What shall I do, (was my deliberation) to secure bread and quiet? Many a thoughtful hour this gave me, and at length I determined to purchase a little annuity. But before this could be effected, I went down to Westmoreland, on an information I had received, that my two ladies were at Appleby with other names, and on my money appeared as women of for∣tune. But this journey was to no purpose, and I was preparing to return to London, when my wife you saw at the head of the table a while ago, came by chance in my way, and pleased me so well with her good understanding, face and person, that I re∣solved to marry her, if she would have me, and give her the management of my five hundred pounds on a farm, as she was a farmer's daughter, and could manage one to good advantage. Her father was Page 106lately dead, and this little mountain farm she continued to occupy: therefore nothing could be more to my purpose, if I could pre∣vail on her to make me her husband, and with some difficulty she did, to my unspeak∣able felicity. She had no money worth mentioning: but her house was pretty and comfortable, and her land had grain and cattle; and as I threw into her lap my five hundred pounds, a little before we were married, to be by her disposed of and ma∣naged, according to her pleasure, she soon made some good improvements and additions, and by her fine understanding, sweet tem∣per, and every Christian virtue, continues to render my life so compleatly happy; so joyous and delightful; that I would not change my partner and condition, for one of the first quality and greatest fortune. In her I have every thing I could wish for in a wife and a woman, and she makes it the sole study and pleasure of her life to crown my every day with the highest satisfactions and comforts. Two years have I lived with her on these wild mountains, and in that time I have not had one dull or painful minute, but in thinking that I may lose her, and be the wretched survivor. That thought does sometimes wound me. — In sum, my friend, we are the happiest of wedded mor∣tals, and on this small, remote farm, live Page 107in a state of bliss to be envyed. This proves that happiness does not flow from riches on∣ly: but that, where pure and perfect love, strict virtue, and unceasing industry, are united in the conjugal state, they can make the Stainmore mountains a Paradice to mor∣tals, in peace and little.
But it is not only happiness in this world that I have acquired by this admirable wo∣man, but life eternal. You remember, my friend, what a wild and wicked one I was when a school-boy, and as Barbadoes of all parts of the globe is no place to improve a man's morals in, I returned from thence to Europe as debauched a scelerate as ever of∣fended Heaven by blasphemy and illegal gra∣tifications. Even my losses and approaching poverty were not capable of making any great change in me. When I was courting my wife, she soon discerned my impiety, and perceived that I had very little notion of hell and heaven, death and judgment. This she made a principal objection against being concerned with me, and told me, she could not venture into a married connexion with a man, who had no regard to the divine laws, and therefore, if she could not make me a Christian, in the true sense of the word, she would never be Mrs. Price.
Page 108This from a plain, country girl, surprized me not a little, and my astonishment arose very high, when I heard her talk of religion, and the great end of both, a blessed life after this. She soon convinced me, that religion was the only means by which we can arrive at true happiness, by which we can attain to the last perfection and dignity of our na∣ture, and that the authority and word of God is the surest foundation of religion. The substance of what she said is as follows. I shall never forget the lesson.
The plain declarations of our Master in the Gospel restore the dictates of uncorrupted reason to their force and authority, and give us just notions of God and of our selves. They instruct us in the nature of the Deity, discover to us his unity, holiness, and purity, and afford certain means of obtaining eternal life. Revelation commands us to worship One Supreme God, the Supreme Father of all things; and to do his will, by imitating his perfections, and practising every thing re∣commended by that Law of Reason, which he sent the Messiah to revive and enforce: that by repentance, and righteousness, and acts of devotion, we may obtain the Divine favor, and share in the glories of futurity: for, the Supreme Director, whose goodness gives counsel to his power, commanded us into existence to conduct us to everlasting happiness, and therefore, teaches us by his Page 109Son to pray, to praise, and to repent, that we may be entitled to a nobler inheritance than this world knows, and obtain life and immortality, and all the joys and blessings of the heavenly Canaan. This was the god∣like design of our Creator. That superior Agent, who acts not by arbitrary will, but by the maxims of unclouded reason, when he made us, and stationed us in this part of his creation, had no glory of his own in view, but what was perfectly consistent with a just regard to the felicity of his rational subjects.
It was this made the Apostle shew Felix the unalterable obligations to justice and equity; to temperance, or, a command over the appetites; and then, by displaying the great and awful judgment to come, urge him to the practice of these, and all the other branches of morality; that by using the means prescribed by God, and acting up to the conditions of salvation, he might escape that dreadful punishment, which, in the reason and nature of things, is connected with vice, and which the good government of the rational world requires should be in∣flicted on the wicked; and might, on the contrary, by that mercy offered to the world thro' Jesus Christ, secure those immense re∣wards, which are promised to innocence and the testimony of an upright heart. This faith Page 110in Christ St. Paul placed before the Roman governor in the best light. He described the complexion and genius of the Christian faith. He represented it as reveling the wrath of God against all immorality; and as joining with reason and uncorrupted nature, enforc∣ing the practice of every moral and social duty.
What effect this discourse had on Felix (Martha continued) in producing faith, that is, morality in an intelligent agent, we are told by the Apostle. He trembled: but ini∣quity and the world had taken such a hold of him, that he dismissed the subject, and turned from a present uneasiness to profit and the enjoyment of sin. He had done with St. Paul, and sacrificed the hopes of eter∣nity to the world and its delights.
But this (concluded Martha) will not I hope be your case. As a judgment to come is an awful subject, you will ponder in time, and look into your own mind. As a man, a reasonable and social creature, designed for duty to a God above you, and to a world of fellow-creatures around you, you will con∣sider the rules of virtue and morality, and be no longer numbered with those miserable mortals, who are doomed to condemnation upon their disobedience. Those rules lie open in a perfect gospel, and the wicked can have nothing to plead for their behaviour. Page 111They want no light to direct them. They want no assistance to support them in doing their duty. They have a Gospel to bring them to life and salvation, if they will but take notice of it; and if they will not walk in the light of God's law, this Gospel must be their judgment and condemnation.
Say then, Sir, (Martha proceeded) can you be prevailed on to think of religion in its native purity and simplicity, and by the power of the Gospel, so act with regard to virtue and piety, that when Christ shall come not only in the power, but in the wisdom and the justice of God, to judge the world, you may be secured from that misery and distress, which is prepared for iniquity; and enjoy that eternal life, which is to be the portion of the righteous?
In this extraordinary manner did Martha Harrington discourse me, and the effect of it was (Jack Price continued), that I be∣came a thorow reform from that hour. My rational life from that happy day commenced, and I entred seriously into my own breast, to think in earnest of that solemn judgment to come. What Martha said was so clear and strong, that I had not a thought of reply∣ing, but truth at once intirely subdued my heart, and I flew to the Son of God, to re∣quest his intercession with the Father of the Universe for the pardon of all my crimes. Page 112The dignity and end of my being has since been the subject of my meditations, and I live convinced, that every thing is contemp∣tible that is inconsistent with duty and mo∣rality. This renders even my pleasures more agreeable. This gives eternal peace to my mind.
24. A conver∣sation.
Here Price ended his remarkable story, and according to our agreement, I began to relate what happened to me from the time we parted at school, and concluded with informing him, that I was going in search of Charles Turner, my near friend, when fortune brought me to his house: that this gentleman lived somewhere towards the confines of Cumberland and the North-riding of Yorkshire, but where the spot was I could not tell, nor did I know well how to go on, as the country before me seemed unpassable, on account of its mountains, precipices, and floods: I must try however what can be done; not only in regard to this gentleman; but, because I have rea∣son to think it may be very much to my advantage, as he is very rich, and the most generous of men. If he is to be found, I know I shall be welcome to share in his happiness as long as I please, nor will it be any weight to him. Price to this replyed, that I was most heartily welcome to him as long as I pleased to Page 113stay, and that tho' he was far from being a rich man, yet he had every day enough for himself and one more; and his Martha he was sure would be as well pleased with my com∣pany, as if I had been his own brother, since she knew I was his esteemed friend. —In respect of the way, he said, he would enable me to find Mr. Turner, if he could, but the country was difficult to travel, and he doubted very much if one could go to the extremity of Cumberland or Yorkshire over the hills; but we would try how∣ever, and if it was possible, find out Mr. Turner's house. Yet solely with him I must not stay, if he could be seen. I must live between both, till I got some Northern girl, and had a wife and habitation of my own; and there is (continued Price) not many miles from me, a sweet pretty lass, the daughter of a gentleman-farmer, who is a very good man, and would, I believe, upon my recommendation, give you his girl, and a sum of money, to sit down on those hills.—This is vastly kind, Jack, I an∣swering, said, and what I shall gratefully re∣member so long as I live. I may ride ma∣ny a mile I am sure, and be an adven∣turer many a long day, before I meet with such offers again. Your sweetly situated house and good things, with a fine nor∣thern girl and money down, are benefits Page 114not to be met with every day.—But at pre∣sent the object I must pursue, is my uni∣versity friend, Charles Turner, and if you please to do me the great favor of guiding me so far as you can over this wild, un∣inhabited land, after I have stayed with you, for the first time, two or three days, and promise to abide many more hereaf∣ter, if it be in my power, we will set out in quest of what I want. As you will, my friend Price replyed: and for the pre∣sent, let us be gay. Here comes my belo∣ved, with a little bowl of punch, and as she sings extremely well, and you have not forgot I fansy our old song, we will have it over our nectar. You shall represent Janus and Momus, and I will be Chronos and Mars, and my wife Diana and Venus. Let us take a glass first — the liberties of the world—and then do you begin. We drank, and in the following manner I went on.
25. A SONG.
26. An account of Mrs. Price of Stanemore.
In this happy manner did we pass the night in this wild and frightful part of the world, and for three succeeding even∣ings and days, enjoyed as much true sa∣tisfaction as it was possible for mortals to feel. Price was an ingenious, chearful, en∣tertaining man, and his wife had not on∣ly sense more than ordinary, but was one of the best of women. I was prodigi∣ously pleased with her conversation. Tho' she was no woman of letters, nor had any books in her house except the Bible, Barrow's and Wichcott's sermons, Howell's History of the World, and the History of Eng∣land, yet from these few, a great memo∣ry, and an extraordinary conception of things, had collected a valuable knowledge, and she talked with an ease and perspicuity that was wonderful. On religious subjects she astonished me.
Neither: (Mrs. Price replyed). The prophecies of the Messiah recorded in the old testament are a good proof of the christian re∣ligion, as it is plane from many instances in the new testament, that the Jewish converts of that generation understood them to relate to our Lord; which is a suffi∣cient reason for our believing them. Since they knew the true intent and meaning of them, and on account of their know∣ing it, were converted; the prophecies for this reason should by us be regarded as divine testimony in favor of Christ Jesus.—Then as to miracles, they are to be sure a means of proving and spreading the christian religion, as they shew the divine mission of the Messiah, and rouze the mind to attend to the pow∣er by which these mighty works were wrought. Thus miracle and prophecy shew the teacher came from God. They contribute to the establishment of his kingdom, and have a tendency to produce that faith which puri∣fies the heart, and brings forth the new birth.
But the greater evidence for the truth of our holy religion, appears to me to be that which converted the primitive christians, to wit, the powerful influence which the Gospel has on the minds of those who study Page 121it with sincerity, and the inward discoveries Christ makes to the understanding of the faithful by his light and good spirit. This exceeds the other evidences, if the heart be honest. The Gospel is irresistible, when the spirit of God moves upon the minds of christians. When the divine power, dis∣pensed through Christ, assists and strength∣ens us to do good, and to eschew evil, then christianity appears a religion wor∣thy of God, and in itself the most rea∣sonable. The compleat salvation deserves our ready acceptation. That religion must charm a reasonable world, which not only restores the worship of the one true God, and exhibits, in a perfect plan, those rules of moral rectitude, whereby the conduct of men should be governed, and their future happiness secured; but, by its blessed spirit, informs our judgments, influences our wills, rectifies and subdues our passions, turns the biass of our minds from the ob∣jects and pleasures of sense, and fixes them upon the supreme good. Most glorious sure∣ly is such a gospel.
But does not this operation of the spirit, (I said) which you make the principal evidence for christianity, debase human na∣ture, and make man too weak, too helpless and depending a being? If voluntary good agency depends on supernatural influencePage 122and enlivening aid, does not this make us mere patients, and if we are not moral a∣gents, that is, have not a power of chusing or refusing, of doing or avoiding, either good or evil, can there be any human virtue? Can we in such case approve or disapprove our∣selves to God. To me it seems that man was created to perform things natural, ratio∣nal, and spiritual, and has an ability to act within the reach of his agency, as his duty requires. I think the moral fit∣ness of things is a rule of action to conduct our actions by, and that the great advantage of revelation consists in its heavenly moral les∣sons, and the certainty of that future judg∣ment and retribution, which has a power∣ful influence upon a rational mind, and strongly inclines a reasonable being to save his soul, by so acting in this world, as to a∣void everlasting misery, and ensure the favor of God, and eternal happiness in another world. This appears to me more consistent with the nature and the truth of things. It is more to the honour of hu∣man nature, if I mistake not, and gives more glory to God.
To this Mrs. Price answered, that as she was sensible of the shortness of her own understanding, and believed the fa∣culties of the human mind in general were weak and deficient, she could not see any thing unreasonable in supposing the Page 123thing formed depended on, and was subject to the Creator that made it. It cannot be ab∣surd surely to say, that so weak and helpless a being as a man, depends intirely on God. Where in the nature of things can we fix a standard of certainty in understanding, and stability in practice, but in the fountain of truth, and all perfection?
But to our better comprehending this mat∣ter, let us take a view of primitive Christian religion.—Christianity is a divine institution, by which God declares himself reconciled to mankind for the sake of his beloved son, the Lord Jesus Christ, on condition of repentance, amendment of life, and perseverance in a state of holiness; and that we might be able to per∣form the things required of us, he offers the assistance of his good spirit. This last offer, in a proper sense, is salvation; for according to his mercy, he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. By grace are ye saved thro' faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. We find, then, that there are two parts in the Christian religion: one, external and historical; the other, internal and expe∣rimental. The first comprehends what is no more to be repeated, tho' the effects are last∣ing and permanent, to wit, the life and good works of Jesus, his miracles, death, and re∣surrection; which declare him spotless virtue, Page 124perfect obedience, and the son of God with power:—And in the second part, we have that standing experience of a divine help, which converts and supports a spiritual life: It is true, both the parts have a near relation, and in conjunction produce the good ends of religion. The second is the effect of the first. Redemption from the power of sin, sanctifi∣cation, and justification, are blessings wrought in us by the good Spirit of him, who without us did many glorious things, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works: And, that they who live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him that died for them and rose again. But, it is in the second part, that the excellence of our holy religion consists. We have no ability of ourselves to take off our minds from the things that are evil, and engage them in the work of reli∣gion and godliness. This is the gift of God. It is a continued miracle that cleanses that pol∣luted fountain the heart, and therefore I call this experience the principal evidence of the Christian religion. It is the glory of christianity, and renders it the perfection of all religions.
That christianity (I replyed) is the per∣fection of all religions, is granted, but that we have no ability to save our souls without a supernatural operation on them, this is what I still have some doubt of. A careful exami∣nation Page 125of the subject, produces some hard objections, and therefore, madam, I will lay my difficulties before you, that your fine na∣tural understanding may remove them, if it be possible. I will be short on the article, for many words would only darken it.
In the first place, then, as to man's inabi∣lity to live a religious life, and practice the precepts of the gospel, it must be the effect of the human composition, or the effect of the agency of the serpent. If the former, it is chargeable upon the author of the compo∣sition; —if the latter, upon the agent which acts upon it. Man could not be cul∣pable, I think, for a bad life, in either case. —If my nature be weakness itself—or the serpent is superior to me—what good can be required of me? can the supreme reason call for brick, where there are no materials to make it with? will you say, yes; because he gives supernatural ability to perform. But then, can this be called man's action? It is the action of the author by his miserable creature, man: and in such case, may we not say, that tho' commands are given to man to obey revealed laws, yet the obedience is performed by God?
In the next place, as man in his natural capacity, and all his natural powers, are the work of God, and as truly derived from him as any supernatural powers can be, it follows, Page 126I imagine, that a voluntary agent's making a right use of the powers of his nature, is as valuable as his being compelled to act well and wisely by a supernatural power. To assert, then, such experiences or operations, to me seems to misrepresent the nature of a being excellently constituted to answer the good purposes he was created for. I am likewise, at present, of opinion, that depretiating our natural abilities, does not give so much glory to God as you imagine.
To this Mrs. Price replyed, that by the operation of the spirit, she did not mean that man was purely passive, and had no part in the working out his salvation, but that God co-operates with man, and without destroying the faculty of reason, improves it by con∣vincing and enlightning the understanding, and by moving and inclining the will towards such objects as are acceptable to himself, and from those that are contrary to his gospel. The mind in this manner enlightned and af∣fected, begins to act, and as the spirit moves upon the soul, the quickened man, under the divine direction, does all the good the scripture commands him to do, and eschews the evil he is ordered to avoid. By God thro' Christ, he practices the excellent virtues re∣commended in the holy books, and for this reason, the righteousness which christians bring forth, is called in scripture, the right∣eousness Page 127of Christ, the righteousness of God, and the righteousness of faith. Christ is the efficient. We thro' him are made able to act. Notwithstanding the weakness and incapacity of our nature, yet thro' faith in the power of God, which is given to all who believe in him, we are enabled to flee immorality and vice, and by a life of virtue and piety, to enjoy the pleasure of a sweet reflexion, and the praises of unpolluted reason.
That this is the case of man, the sacred writings declare in a thousand places, and set forth the exceeding greatness of God's power in this respect. The ministry of the gospel appears to have been ordained for this end, and the perfection of the christian religion, to rest on this particular thing. The Lord died for our sins, and rose again for our justifi∣cation, that we through power received from him, (the power of his resurrection) might be made righteous. And the apostle adds, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek, for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith. And that the promise of the Holy Ghost had reference not only to the great effusion of the Spirit at Pentecost, which was a solemn confirmation of the new and spiritual dispensation of the Page 128gospel; but also to that instruction which Christians of every age were to receive from it continually, if they attended to it, is evi∣dent from the promise of Christ,—I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, (the spirit of truth) that he may abide with you for ever. This spirit was to supply the place of his personal presence. It was to become a teacher and comforter to his disciples and followers to the end of time— to enlighten and incline their minds to piety and virtue—to enable them to do all things appertaining to life and godliness, and to have a faith in God's power and all-sufficiency. This is the glorious specific difference of Christianity from all other religions. We have an inward instructor and supporter al∣ways abiding with us. And what can be a higher honor to mankind, or an act of greater love in God, than for him to interpose con∣tinually, and by his holy Spirit restore the teachable and attentive to that purity and up∣rightness in which he at first created man? Glorious dispensation! Here is a compleat reparation of the loss sustained by transgres∣sion. We are created anew in Christ Jesus, and are made partakers of the divine nature. Surely this is the utmost that can be expected from religion. In short, (continued Mrs. Price) it is to me a most amazing thing, to see men of sense disclaim this help, argue for Page 129self-sufficiency and independency, and receive only the outward appearance of the Son of God, in a literal, historical, and formal pro∣fession of christianity! This will never do the work. The outward appearance of the Son of God only puts us in a capacity of salvation: it is the inward appearance by the power and virtue of the spirit that must save us. The end of the gospel is repentance, forgiveness of sins, and amendment of manners; and the means of obtaining that end, is christianity in the life, spirit and power of it.
You talk extremely well, madam, (I said) upon this subject, and have almost made me a convert to the notion of an inward appear∣ance of the Son of God: but I must beg leave to observe to you, that as to what you have added, by way of explication and vin∣dication of the operation of the spirit, to wit, that man has agency, and God co-operates with it, by which means the man is enabled to apply his agency to the performance of good; this does not seem to me to make the matter quite plain. The virtue or goodness of an agent must certainly arise from a right exercise of his own power, and how then can God's co-operating with him make him a better man? Can such co-operation add any thing to my virtue, if my goodness is to be rated in proportion to the exertion of my own will and agency. If I am not able to save a Page 130man from drowning, tho' I pity him, and do my best to preserve his life; but God gives me strength, or co-operates with me, and so the man is saved; can this add any thing to my virtue or goodness? It would be indeed an instance of God's goodness to the man; but as to myself, I did no more with the di∣vine co-operation than I did without it. I made all the use I could of what power I had. This seems to me a strong objection against the inward appearance: nor is it all there is to object. If I see a man in a deep wet ditch, in a dangerous and miserable way, and am prompted by a natural affection, and the fit∣ness of relieving, to exert a sufficient strength I have, to take the man out of his distress, and put him in a comfortable way; (which is a thing I really did once, and thereby saved a useful life);—in this case, there was good done by an agent, without any supernatural co-operation at all: Many more instances might be produced: but from what has been said, is it not plain, that much good may be done without any interposition;—and, with it, that no good can be added to the charac∣ter of the agent?
But you will say, perhaps, that the good disposition of the agent in such cases, is super∣natural operation, and without such operation, he could not make a right use of his ability. To this we reply, that if by disposition is Page 131meant a given power to distinguish betwixt motive and motive, and so to judge of moral fitness and unfitness; or, a power to act from right motives, when such are present to the mind;—these cannot be given, because they are the powers which constitute a man a moral agent, and render him accountable for his actions. Without them he could not be a subject of moral government.
And if you mean by the term disposition, God's presenting such motives to the mind, as are necessary to excite to right action; the an∣swer is, that tho' God may kindly interpose, and in many instances, by supernatural ope∣ration, present such motives to the mind, yet such operation cannot be always necessary, in order to our doing good.—In many cases we see at once what good ought to be done, and we do it instantly of ourselves, unless the natural faculties be perverted by false principles. If our fellow-creature falls into the fire, or has a fit, while we are near him, the fitness of relieving him, and the natural compassion essential to our constitu∣tion, will make us fly to his assistance, with∣out a supernatural operation. We want no di∣vine impulse to make us interpose. Without being reminded, we will do our best to reco∣ver the man, if superstition or passion hath not misled the natural powers of the mind. In a great variety of things, the case is the Page 132same, and when at a glance we see the fitness of action, there is an immediate production of good.
It is not just then to assert that the heart cannot be the spring of good actions, without the actings of God. It is the seat and source of both evil and good. Man is capable of gi∣ving glory to God, and of doing the con∣trary. He is constituted to answer all the purposes of social felicity, and to act a part suitable to, and becoming that reason and un∣derstanding, which God hath given him to guide his steps; and he may, on the con∣trary, by abusing his liberty, act an unsocial part in the creation, and do great dishonour to his Maker, by the evil imaginations of his heart, and the violence his hand commits. This hath been the state of human nature from the fall to the flood, and from the flood to our time. The human race have a natu∣ral ability for good or evil, and are at liberty for the choice of either of these. If thou doest well, Cain, who hast power, and is at liberty to do evil, thou shalt be accepted. And if thou doest not well, who hast power, and is at liberty to do good, sin lieth at the door. If this had not been the case of Cain, (and of others since his days), it seems to me at present, that God would act an unequal part with his creatures. Can happiness or misery be called reward or punishment, unless Page 133the creature can voluntarily chuse or avoid the thing which renders him the object of infliction or glory? I think not. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. The agency of a serpent will be no plea then, for a Cain, I suppose: nor will Abel's title to an inheritance depend only on the good brought forth in him by the Lord.—And as to a self-sufficiency or independency in all this, as often charged, I can see none, for the reason already given, to wit, that my natural powers are as much the gift of God to me as supernatural powers can be, and render me as dependent a being. They are derived from him: It is his given powers I use, and if I make a right use of them, to answer the great and wise purpose I was created for, the good application must be as valuable as if I had applied supernatu∣ral powers to the same purpose.
What you say, sir, (Mrs. Price answered) has reason in it, to be sure: but it seems in∣consistent with the language of the Bible, and takes away the Grace of God intirely, and the principal evidence of the Christian religion: As to the necessary guilt of man∣kind, Moses says;—and God saw, that the wickedness of man was great in the earth; and that every imagination of the thoughts of Page 134his heart, was only evil continually: and it re∣pented the Lord, that he had made man on the earth, etc. And again;—The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence: and God looked upon the earth, and behold it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth. And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence thro' them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.—The prophet Jeremiah does likewise affirm, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. And St. Paul declares from Psalm 14 and 53. There is none righteous, no not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are altogether become unprofitable; there is none that doth good, no not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues have they used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their ways. And the way of peace have they not known.
Then as to grace, or the operation of the Spirit, to cure this miserable condition of mankind, Peter said unto them, repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall re∣ceive Page 135the gift of the Holy Ghost, for the promise is unto you and your children, and to all that are afar off. This is a very extensive declaration both as to time and place. After Peter had told the people, the God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom ye slew, and hanged on a tree, him hath God exalted with his right hand, to be a prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance unto Israel, and forgiveness of sins, and we are his witnesses of these things, and so also is the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him: the apostle adds, then they, (the Gentiles) were filled with the Holy Ghost. All who obeyed, without distinction, had the Holy Ghost given them, and it was a witness to them of the truth of Christ's divine mission, and the good effects of it, according to the promise of the Lord, to wit, he shall testify of me.
St. Paul likewise tells us, if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life, because of righteousness; but if the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh to live after the flesh, for if ye live after the flesh ye shall die; but if ye thro' the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For Page 136as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba Father, the spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.—Here we see the necessity of having the spirit of Christ, and that those who have it not, do not belong to him. They are none of his. We may likewise observe, that it mortifies the deeds of the body, and quick∣ens the soul to a life of holiness: the passage likewise shews, that the spirit bears witness with our spirits, and by an evidence peculiar to itself, gives us a certain sense, or understan∣ding of it.
In short, Sir, a great number of texts might be produced, to shew not only the work and effect of the Divine spirit upon our minds; but that, it is an evidence, the princi∣pal evidence and ground of certainty to be∣lievers, respecting the truth of christianity. I will mention however only two or three more, and then shall be glad to hear what you say to those things.
What man knoweth the spirit of man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God, that we might know the things which are freely Page 137given to us of God.—Ye have an unction from the Holy one, and ye know all things. These things have I written to you, concerning them that seduce you; but the anointing which ye have received of him, abideth in you, and ye need not that any teach you, but as the same anoin∣ting teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in it.—Hereby we know that he abideth in us by his spirit, which he hath given us. Hereby we know that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his spirit.
What do you say to all this? do not the sacred passages I have repeated seem to de∣clare in the planest manner the necessary iniquity of man; that this is to be cured only, and his nature rectified by the operation of the Divine spirit; and that the effusion of the spirit, both as to instruction and evidence, was not pe∣culiar to the infancy of christianity? This appears to my understanding. The very essence of the christian religion I think from these scriptures consists in the power and ef∣ficacy of the spiritual principle.
The state of religion from the creation to this time.
What you have said madam, (I replied) seems strong indeed in defence of the weak∣ness of man, and the operation of the spirit, and I should be of your way of thinking as to the manifestation of it, but that I imagine the thing may be explained in a different Page 138manner. Let us review our religion, if you please, and perhaps we may find, that a∣nother account may be given of sanctification, and the renewing the mind into a state of holiness.
When God called this world into being, his purpose was without all peradventure, that his rational creatures might enjoy the noblest pleasures, and by conforming their conduct to the fitness and relation of things, from a due regard to the authority of the first cause, by whom this fitness and relation were wisely constituted, secure all the bless∣ings of this life, and honour, and glory, and immortality, in some future state of exist∣tence. This I think was the case. True religion was to form and fix every good prin∣ciple in the human mind, produce all righte∣ousness in the conversation, and thereby ren∣der mankind the blessed of the universal Father. They were to worship the one true God; the possessor of all being, and the foun∣tain of all good; to believe in him, and have their trust and dependence always on him; to be pure and peaceable, gentle and full of mercy, without partiality, without hypocrisy, and so devoted to holiness and obedience, to every virtue and every good work which the law of reason can require from men; that after a long life spent in acting a part the most honourable to God, and the most Page 139advantageous to mankind, in obeying the dictates of reason, and thereby imi∣tating the example of God; they might be translated to the regions of immortality and day, where the first and great original dis∣plays as it were face to face the perfections of the Deity, and from an all-perfect and holy being receive the vast rewards he has prepa∣red for those, who, in this first state, have been to all the purposes of life and religion, perfect as he is perfect. For these reasons did the supreme director, the greatest and the best Being in the universe, command the human race into existence. He gave them faculties to conduct them here through various scenes of happiness to the realms of immortality and immutable felicity. It was a Godlike design.
But it was not very long before this hu∣man race became corrupt, and not only did evil in the sight of the Lord, but ceased to ap∣prehend the first cause as one most perfect mind. The natural notions of moral per∣fection which reason and the light of nature supply, they no longer minded, nor thought of what is fit and reasonable to be done in every case. The passions began to influence and direct their lives: just and pure ideas of the Deity were lost, false ones took place, and the mischief and its fatal consequences became very great. It was a melancholy Page 140scene! The exalted notions of one glorious God, and of that true religion which subsists in the expectation of a future state, were no longer known, nor did the race ever think of approving themselves in the eye of an all per∣fect and holy being. Superstition and iniquity prevailed, and the spread of evil was wide.
God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth—the thoughts of his heart, evil continually, &c. as you have before quoted from the book of Genesis; and be∣cause the wickedness of the tenth generation was so great, and men no longer endeavoured after those perfections, which are natural and proper to rational minds;—no longer thought of conforming themselves to the di∣vine nature, or strove to imitate the excel∣lencies of it, tho' constituted to give glory to their Maker, and endued with a reason and understanding sufficient to teach them the rule of duty, and guide their steps in the ways of true religion; but against the light of their own minds, acted the most impious and un∣sociable part; therefore God repented that he had made them, that is, he did what is the product of repentance in men, when they un∣do, as far as it is in their power, what they repent of, and destroyed his own work by that desolating judgment, the flood. This seems to be the truth of the case. The words of Moses do not mean the state of hu∣man Page 141nature on account of the fall. They express only the wickedness of the tenth gene∣ration as a reason for the deluge at that time. There is not the least ground for asserting from this passage in the sacred historian, that man was unable to do good by his natural powers, and that his crimes were a resisting the act∣ings of God upon his mind. The impiety of this generation was a mere abuse of free will, and acting against the plain dictates of their own minds: therefore, when wilful op∣pression and sensuality filled the earth, God destroyed the world by an inundation. Noah only, who was a just man, and perfect in his generation, with his family escaped.
This terrible execution of an awful ven∣geance on the guilty race, demonstrated to the survivors, and to all the ages to come, the great malignity of sin, and the uncontrolable supremacy of the divine government. As the venerable Patriarch and his family failed over the bosom of the boundless ocean of waters, and above the wrecks and ruins of this ter∣restrial world, they adored to be sure with grateful hearts, the Almighty Father of vir∣tue and goodness, who had so wonderfully preserved them, and were convinced by the amazing, striking evidence, that sin is the greatest infamy and degradation of our rea∣sonable nature; that it has an insuperable re∣pugnancy and irreversible contrariety, to our Page 142true happiness, and is infamous, pernicious, and ruinous, by the sentence of the Almighty. The dreadful event unanswerably evinced his constant actual cognizance of enormous faith and manners, and his unchangeable displea∣sure with them. This truth, which was learnt at first, by the expulsion from Para∣dise, and the sad inheritance of Mortality, they saw again republished in the most awful manner. This gave undoubtedly a very reli∣gious turn to their minds, and they deter∣mined to be sure to adhere to those excellent principles and practices, which had been, thro' God's goodness, their security in the ge∣neral desolation, and to flee the contrary ma∣lignant ones which had procured that desola∣tion on the rest. In a degree suitable to their nature and ability, they resolved to imitate the perfections of God, and to employ the powers and faculties of reason in endeavour∣ing to be just, and righteous, and merciful. And as the amazing operation of God in the deluge called for their wonder and praise, we must think their hearts glowed with the sense of his goodness to them, and that they ex∣tolled his mercy and power in the salvation they had received. So we are told by an in∣spired writer. Noah restored the antient rites of divine service, and built an altar to the Lord. And the Lord smelled a sweet Savour, and said, Never any more will I curse the Page 143ground for man's sake, tho' the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; because he will not hearken to the voice of reason, and with the greatest ardor and contention of mind, labour to attain a conformity to the divine nature in the moral perfections of it; which is the true dignity of man, and the utmost excellence of human souls. Neither will I again smite any more every living creature as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seed∣time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
Thus did God enter into a covenant with Noah, and his sons, and their seed; and as the late amazing occurrences must incline the spectators of the flood to piety and goodness; and the fathers of the postdiluvian world were careful to instruct their children in the several parts of the stupendous fact, and from the whole inculcate the Being and Perfections of God, his universal dominion and actual pro∣vidence and government over all things, his love of virtue and goodness and infinite de∣testation of all sin; to which we may add, that the imitation of God is not a new prin∣ciple introduced into religion by revelation, but has its foundation in the reason and na∣ture of things;—we may from hence conclude, that the rising generation were per∣sons of conspicuous devotion, and followed Page 144after the moral virtues, the holiness, justice and mercy which the light of nature disco∣vers. They were, I believe, most excellent mortals for some time. They obeyed to be sure every dictate of reason, and adored and praised the invisible Deity; the Supreme im∣mutable mind.
But this beautiful scene had an end, and man once more forgot his Maker and him∣self. He prostituted the honor of both, by robbing God of the obedience due to him, and by submitting himself a slave to the ele∣ments of the world. When he looked up to the heavens, and saw the glory of the sun and stars, instead of praising the Lord of all, he foolishly said, These are thy Gods, O Man! A universal apostacy from the primi∣tive religion prevailed. They began with the heavenly bodies, or sydereal Gods, and pro∣ceeded to heroes, brutes, and images, till the world was overflowed with an inundation of idolatry, and superstition; even such supersti∣tion, as nourished under the notion of Reli∣gion, and pleasing the Gods, the most bestial impurities, the most inhuman and unnatural cruelties, and the most unmanly and contemp∣tible follies. Moral virtue and goodness were totally extinguished. When men had lost the sense of the supreme Being, the Creator, Go∣vernor, and Judge of the world, they not only ceased to be righteous and holy, but became Page 145necessarily vitious and corrupt in practice; for iniquity flows from corrupt religion, as the waters from the spring. The principles and ceremonies of the established idolatries gave additional strength to mens natural in∣clinations, to intemperance, lust, fraud, vio∣lence, and every kind of unrighteousness and debauchery. Long before the days of Moses this was the general case. Idolatry had violated all the duties of true religion, and the most abominable practices by constitution were authorised. The Phalli(11) and the Mylli(12) , rites that modesty forbids to ex∣plain, were esteemed principal parts of their Ritual; virgins before marriage were to sacri∣fice their chastity to the honor of Venus; (13)Page 146men were offered upon the Altars for Sacri∣fices; and children were burnt alive to Mo∣lochPage 147and Adramalech. In a word, the most abominable immoralities universally prevailed; with the encouragements of religion, men were led into intemperance, uncleanness, murders, and many vices, inconsistent with the prosperity and peace of society, as well as with the happiness of private persons; and that such iniquities might have a perpetual source, the most shameful Idolatries were preserved in opposition to the knowledge and Page 148worship of the One true God. So general was this corruption and idolatry, that the infection seized the descendants of Shem, the pious race. Even Terah, the father of Abram, we find charged with it. And Abram himself was culpable I think in this respect, as the word Asebes imports. It is rendered in our Bible ungodly, but it signifies more properly idolatry, and that is what St. Paul in the 4th chapter to the Romans hints. The Apostle speaking of Abraham, says,—But to him that worketh not, but believeth in him that justifieth the ungodly, that is, an ungodly Ido∣later, who has no manner of claim to the blessings of God, he must be justified upon the foot, not of his own prior obedience, but of God's Mercy.
In such a calamitous state, a Revelation to restore the Law of Nature, and make it more fully and clearly known, to enforce its observance, to afford helps and motives to the better performance of what it enjoins, and relieve the guilty mind against all its doubts, would certainly be a merciful vouchsafement from God to mankind, and be much for their advantage and happiness; and therefore, in the year from the flood 428, * to provide for the restoration of the true religion, and preserve the knowledge and worship of the One true God on earth, in opposition to the prevailing idolatry, and the gross immorali∣ties Page 149that were the effects of idolatrous prin∣ciples and practices, Jehovah commanded Abraham to leave his country, his kindred, and his father's house, and proceed with his family to the land of Canaan. Here God entered into Covenants with Abraham and his posterity, * to be instruments in the hands of providence for bringing about great designs in the world—that he and his posterity were to be the Church of God, and depositaries of a hope, that the Covenant limited to Abra∣ham and his chosen seed, was to grow in the fulness of time into a blessing upon all the nations of the earth. Abraham was at this time 75 years old, and God added to the pa∣triarchal worship the visible mark of Circum∣cision, as a seal of a covenant between him∣self and Abraham.
Yet how fit soever such a visible mark might be, to keep in remembrance the cove∣nant between God and the family of Abra∣ham, it was found in experience, insufficient to preserve them from the idolatrous customs of their neighbours.—Some new laws, some further constitutions of worship were to be added, or, as the family of Abraham were situated in the midst of idolaters and unrighteous ones, it was foreseen they would soon fall from the essentials of religion; and instead of preserving a right knowledge of God, of his Being, Perfections and Govern∣ment, Page 150a just sense of the reverence all men owe to him, from a firm belief of his Be∣ing, Power, Dominion, Justice, and Good∣ness, and an hearty concern to obey the known Will of God in all things; doing what is pleasing in his sight, seeking, and hoping their perfection and happiness, in the likeness, and in the image of God; they would, on the contrary, serve other Gods, and make their idolatry, not a matter of harmless speculation, but a fountain of the most dangerous immoralities; and therefore, as it was highly fit in it self, and well beco∣ming the wisdom of God, he gave Moses a christianity in hieroglyphics, that is, a taber∣nacle, a shechinah, a priesthood, an altar, sa∣crifices, laws moral and ceremonial, with eve∣ry constituent part of the hebrew ritual; be∣ing figures of a better shekinah, temple, priest, altar, sacrifice, revelation and bles∣sings—figurative representations of the more perfect constitutions in the days of Messiah the King.—This was in the year 875 after the flood, and 1491 before Christ. By a ritual so becoming the wisdom of God, given for a preservative against idolatrous principles, and as a dispensation preparatory to that fu∣ture heavenly religion, the Hebrew nation were guarded against the surrounding corrup∣tions of the world, and raised up the defend∣ers Page 151of true religion, to preserve the know∣ledge and worship of the One true God.
But as mankind would not follow the light of nature, which is sufficient, when attended to, for a constant universal practice of piety and morality; so neither would they be engaged by various reveled laws, from time to time given, and by the calls and lessons of many prophets, to the practice of true religion and righteousness; but as the heart is the seat and source of wickedness in man, according to the prophet Jeremiah, so even the hearts of the Jews became de∣ceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. And the Prophet goes on to shew, not the necessary inability of man without experiences, or an operating spirit within, (as you sup∣pose, madam); but that, tho' men thus wickedly deceive one another, yet they can∣not possibly by such a wilful desperate piece of wickedness deceive their Maker, because to him the most secret recesses of their hearts lie open; and, consequently, in the issue, they deceive themselves, seeing God, who knows the deceit which is lodged in their hearts, will render unto them according to their works, and according to the fruit of their doings: so that their hope and expec∣tation will be disappointed, even as a partridge is disappointed that sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not.
Page 152And as St. Paul says from the xiv. and liii. psalm, there was none righteous, no not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God; and so on, as you madam, have quoted the verses, in which the Apostle did not intend to shew the necessary pollution of man without the help of grace; but the groundlessness of that opinion which the Jews had gone into, that they were the only people which pleased God; for they were as guilty as the Gentiles were in transgressing the law of nature. Neither of them had any legal title to justification. They were all very great transgressors. The throat of Jew and Gentile and open sepulchre: their tongues, de∣ceit: the poison of asps under their lips: their mouths, full of cursing and bitterness: their feet, swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: Therefore the justifi∣cation of the Jew as well as the Gentile must be of grace, and not of debt.
In this was manifested the inestimable love of God in the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ. Tho' Jew and Gentile were qualified to discern and do both good and evil, and the Jew had a written law as a further assistance, but nevertheless they violated the plain dictates of natural reason, and the divine precepts of the law, and by unrighteousness and impurity, rendered themselves objects of Page 153judgment and condemnation; yet the father of the universe, in compassion to mankind, sent a divine teacher from heaven, Christ, the true Prophet that was to come into the world, and by his divinely reveled testimony and authority, attempts to abolish the superstition of men, reclaim their wickedness, and bring them back to the true spiritual worship of God, and to that holiness of life and manners which is agreeable to the uncorrupted light and dictates of nature. This was love. The blessed God, in compassion to human igno∣rance and wickedness, contracted by men's own fault, gives them an express revelation of his will, and re-establishes the rule of pure uncorrupt religion and morality. He de∣clares those terms of sinful man's reconcile∣ment to him which he was pleased to ac∣cept. Grace is manifested in the gospel to turn men from their vanities, or idol service, unto the living God, who made heaven and earth, and by the doctrine and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, to redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zea∣lous of good works:—That denying all ungodly∣ness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearance of the great God; who will judge the world by that divine person, and great temporary minister, whom he sent before to Page 154destroy sin, and the kingdom of Satan; and to bring mankind into a perfect obedience to the will of the supreme Being. This ren∣ders christianity a heavenly thing. Reve∣lation thus explained is beautiful and useful to an extreme degree. It does not contra∣dict, but strengthens the obligations of natu∣ral religion.
Your account, Sir, (Mrs. Price answered) of man and religion is different indeed from mine, and I must allow your explications have reason in them: but still they do not satisfy me, nor can I part with my own opinion. Two things in particular to me appear very strange in your scheme. It seems to take away the necessity of the chris∣tain revelation, if natural religion, duly at∣tended to, was perfect, and sufficient for vir∣tue and holiness, and thereby to gain the favor of God. If reason alone can do the work, if men please, then what need of the gospel?—If men will consider, (and without consideration no scheme can be of service), they may as well turn their thoughts to the law of nature as to the law of grace, if there is no difference betwixt the rule of nature and the law of Christ, with regard to the know∣ledge of God, the maker of heaven and earth, and the worship due to him on that ac∣count, and the practice of virtue and mora∣lity.
Page 155In the next place, if I understand you right, the grace of God is of no use at all in religion, as you account for salvation. What is out of order within us, in the mind and its faculties, the will and its affections, and wants to be set right in good thoughts and works, our own reason, in your notion of religion, is sufficient to regulate, and unassisted by the illumination of the holy spirit of God, we may live in an uncorrupted state of piety and morality, and so save our souls, if we please. This is what I cannot believe. The grace of God in the gospel is the glory and comfort of the christian religion. A divine operation that renews and sanctifies the mind is an in∣valuable blessing, and in a manner inexpres∣sibly charming, satisfies me beyond hesitation, that the christian religion is true, while it puts me in the actual possession of the good effects of it. The spirit of God discovers to me the state of my own mind, in all the circumstances of a christian life, sets my follies, my neglects, and my failings, in order before me, which is the first right step in or∣der to the overcoming them; and then obser∣ving the discoveries I was not able to make my self, and having a strong faith in the di∣vine power and sufficiency, I am enabled to gain victories my insufficient reason could ne∣ver obtain. May this divine monitor then abide in my breast. It is by the heavenly assistance Page 156of the holy spirit only, as vouchsafed in the christian dispenation, that I can secure for myself eternal life. The wise and prudent of this world may think as they please of this matter, and produce reasonings against it be∣yond my power to answer; but for my part, I must consider it as the principle of my sal∣vation, and think I cannot be thankful e∣nough for the inestimable blessing. It is to me a glorious instance of the great wisdom and goodness of God.
Madam, (I replyed) in relation to your first objection, that I make no difference be∣tween reveled and natural religion, for nature is as sufficient as grace, in my account, I as∣sure you that I think the revelation of the gospel excels the best scheme of natural reli∣gion that could be proposed; in declaring the terms of reconcilement, in demonstrating the divine wrath against sin, in the method of shewing mercy by the death of God's beloved Son, and the promise of free pardon on the condition of repentance and newness of life. This manner gives unspeakable comfort to repenting sinners. It gives the greatest encou∣ragement to engage them to the love of God and the practice of all his commandments; an encouragement that reason could not discover. To christianity therefore the true preference is due. Tho' philosophy or the doctrine of reason may reform men, yet the christian re∣ligion Page 157is a clearer and more powerful guide. It improves the light of reason by the super∣natural evidence and declaration of God's will, and the means of man's redemption is a more efficacious motive and obligation to universal obedience than nature could ever with certainty propose. A revelation that has the clearest and strongest evidence of being the divine will, must be the most easy and effectual method of instruction, and be more noticed than the best human teaching: and this will of God being truly and faithfully committed to writing, and preserved uncor∣rupt, must always be the best and surest rule of faith and manners. It is a rule absolutely free from all those errors and superstitions, both of belief and practice, which no hu∣man composure was ever before free from, or, probably, would have been free from, without the assistance of such a revelation. Nor is this all. This is not the only supe∣rior excellence of our holy religion.
A Mediator and crucified Redeemer brought into the Christian revelation, has a noble effect on a considering mind, and shews the reasonableness of the gospel-dispensation. The wisest and most rational heathens ever were for sacrifices and mediators, as the greatness of God was thereby declared, and that not only sin deserved punishment, but mens lives to be forfeited by their breach of Page 158the divine laws: and when a divine person, made man, like unto us, appears instead of all other mediators, by whom, as the instrument of the means of salvation, we are to offer up our prayers to the Only true God; and his voluntary dying in testimony of the truth of his mission and doctrine, is appointed to be instead of all other sacrifices, and to re∣main a memorial that God requires no atone∣ment of us, but repentance and newness of life; and the spotless virtues and obedience of this divine Redeemer, are to be a most perfect and moving example for us to imi∣tate;—this renders christianity worthy of God, and makes it the perfection of religion. Great then are the advantages which the Re∣velation of Christ Jesus has above mere reason, darkened by the clouds of error and a gene∣ral corruption. It is the most perfect rule of life. It is the most powerful means to promote a constant uniform practice of vir∣tue and piety. It advances human nature to its highest perfection, fills it with all the fruits of righteousness, and grants us privi∣leges and blessings far superior to what we could attain any other way.
With regard to the second objection, that I take away the grace of God, to pre∣serve the dignity of human nature, this is far from my intention. I do in∣deed think, that as the Gospel was given for Page 159the noblest purpose; to wit, to call in an ex∣traordinary manner upon mankind, to for∣sake that vice and idolatry, the corrupt creed of polytheism, the guilt of superstition, their great iniquities, violent passions, and worldly affections, which are all contrary to reason, and disgrace human nature; and to practise that whole system of morality, which they must know to be most useful to them;—that they might turn to a religion which had but One object, the Great Invisible Being, all-knowing and all-sufficient, to whom all the intelligent world are to make their devout applications; because he is an infinite, inde∣pendent, sovereign mind, who has created all things, and absolutely rules and governs all; possesses all natural perfections, exists in all duration, fills all space with his presence, and is the omniscient witness of all their dif∣ficulties and wants;—and that since they were bound by all the ties of moral duty to obey this one God, and observe the rational institutions of religion, therefore they should make it the labor of their whole lives to ex∣cel in holiness and righteousness, and by vir∣tue and piety unite themselves to God, and entitle themselves to glory at the great day: —That as this is the nature, end, and design of the christian revelation, so I do think the gospel of our salvation, the word of truth, (as an apostle calls it) is sufficient for the Page 160purpose, without immediate impulses. As we have a reasonable, intellectual nature, there is no want of mechanical powers. The words of Christ, which are the words of God, are, our life, and will, if attended to, and powerfully enable us to practise good works, and to excel, and persevere therein. I can do all these things, through Christ, who strengtheneth me, that is, through the written directions of Christ, and through the argu∣ments and motives of the christian doctrine. To say otherwise of the gospel, is, in my opinion, injurious to it.
God may, to be sure, give special aids to men, whenever he thinks fit. He may, by an extraordinary agency, render our faculties more capable of apprehension, where divine things are concerned:—may awaken a dor∣mant idea, which lay neglected in the me∣mory, with unusual energy;—may secretly attract the more attentive regard of the mind, and give it an inclination and an ability of tracing its various relations, with an unusual attention, so that a lustre before quite un∣known shall be (as it were) poured upon it; —the spirit of God may render the mind more susceptible and more tenacious of divine knowledge; I believe he often does by in∣terposition, if in the spirit of Christ's doc∣trine we ask it of the great Father of Lights, the Author of all the understanding divided Page 161among the various ranks of created Beings; who, as he first formed the minds of angels and men, continues the exercise of their in∣tellectual faculties, and one way or another communicates to them all the knowledge of every kind which they possess; (in which view all our knowledge of every kind may be called a revelation from God, and be a∣scribed, as it is by Elihu in Job, to the in∣spiration of the Almighty:) This the holy Spi∣rit may do, and dissipate a prejudice that op∣poses truth. But this is not always necessary: nor always to be expected. It is evident from the gospel, that our Lord rather speaks of his word and doctrine, as the aids to save mens souls, than of himself, or spirit, perso∣nally considered. Abiding in him, and he in them, as necessary to their bearing fruit, sig∣nifies a strict and steady regard to his word, and the influence of that upon our minds. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you; ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you: that is, If you continue to believe in me, and to pay a steady regard to my doctrine, you will be highly acceptable to God.
In short, as no man can come unto me (says our Lord), except the Father which hath sent me draw him: that is, no man will receive my pure, sublime, and spiritual doctrine, un∣less he have first gained some just apprehen∣sions concerning the general principles of religion: but if he has a good notion of Page 162God and his perfections, and desires to ad∣vance in virtue, he will come unto me, and hearken to that revelation, which contains the best directions for the performance of all the duties, and the greatest incitement to vir∣tue, piety and devotion:—so, no man can come to the Father but by the Son, that is, by obeying the written word, and proceeding in that way in which the Son has declared it to be the will of the Father, that men should come to him, namely, by keeping God's com∣mandments, and by repentance and amendment of life; there being no other name, or way given among men, but this way given or de∣clared by Jesus Christ, by which they may be saved.—In all this, there is not a word of supernatural light or operation; tho' such operation, as before observed, there may be. There is not a hint of man's natural inability.
To the glorious Gospel then, the gospel of our salvation, the word of truth, the word of life, let us come, and with diligence and im∣partiality study it. Let us follow the truth we there find in every page, and it will ena∣ble us to triumph over the temptations of al∣lurement and of terror. We shall become the children of God by the spirit of adop∣tion. We shall be easy and happy in this life, and glorious and ever blessed in that which is to come. If we obey the gospel of the Son of God, and hearken to his word, Page 163he will take us under his guardian care. He descended from Heaven, to deliver us from everlasting ruin, he purchased us with the price of his own blood, and if we live up to the word of truth, he will conduct us safely through life and death, into the abode of holy and happy spirits, and at length raise our bodies from the dust, and fix our com∣pleat persons in a state of immortal glory and felicity.—This is my sense of reli∣gion. Where I am wrong, I shall ever be glad to be set right.
Mrs. Price made no reply, and so end∣ed this remarkable conversation. On whose side the truth is, the reader is to judge. What she says for supernatural operation is strong and pious to be sure: and considering Mrs. Price had no learning, and was almost with∣out any reading, I thought it very wonderful to hear her on this, and many other subjects. She was such another genius as Chubb, but on the other side of the question; if she had been able to write as sensibly and correctly as she talked on several articles of religion, she would have made a good author. So much goodness and good sense I have not very often found in her kind. They merit a memorial in a journal of the curious things that have oc∣curred to me in my life time.
28. My depar∣ture from Lasco in Stanemore, a farther description of this wild and solitary part of the world.
The 13th of June 1725, I took my leave of my friend, John Price, and his ad∣mirable wife, promising to visit them again as Page 164soon as it was in my power, and proceeded on my journey in quest of Mr. Turner. I would not let Price go with me, on second thoughts, as many sad accidents might happen in this rough and desolate part of the world, and no relief in such case to be found. If I fell, there was no one belonging to me to shed a tear for me: but if a mischief should befall Jack Price, his wife would be miserable indeed, and I the maker of a breach in the sweetest system of felicity that love and good sense had ever formed. This made me refuse his re∣peated offers to accompany me. All I would have was a boy and horse of his, to carry some provisions wet and dry, as there was no public house to be found in ascending those tremendous hills, or in the deep vales through which I must go; nor any house that he knew of beyond his own.
With the rising sun then I set out, and was charmed for several hours with the air and views. The mountains, the rocky precipices, the woods and the waters, appear∣ed in various striking situations every mile I travelled on, and formed the most astonishing points of view. Sometimes I was above the clouds, and then crept to inchanting vallies below. Here glins were seen that looked as if the mountains had been rent asunder to form the amazing scenes: and there, forests and falling streams covered the sides of the hills. Rivers in many places, in the most Page 165beautiful cascades, were tumbling along; and cataracts from the tops of mountains came roaring down. The whole was grand, won∣derful, and fine. On the top of one of the mountains I passed over at noon; the air was piercing cold, on account of its great height, and so subtle, that we breathed with difficulty, and were a little sick. From hence I saw several black subjacent clouds big with thunder, and the lightning within them rolled backwards and forwards, like shining bodies of the brightest lustre. One of them went off in the grandest horrors through the vale below, and had no more to do with the pike I was on than if it had been a summit in another planet. The scene was prodigious fine. Sub pedibus ventos & rauca tonitrua calcat.
Till the evening, I rid and walked it, and in numberless windings round unpassable hills, and by the sides of rivers it was im∣possible to cross, journeyed a great many miles: but no human creature, or any kind of house, did I meet with in all the long way, and as I arrived at last at a beautiful lake, whose banks the hand of nature had adorned with vast old trees, I sat down by this water in the shade to dine, on a neat's tongue I had got from good Mrs. Price; and was so de∣lighted with the striking beauties and stillness of the place, that I determined to pass the night in this sweet retreat. Nor was it one Page 166night only, if I had my will, that I would have rested there. Often did I wish for a convenient little lodge by this sweet water side, and that with the numerous swans, and other fowl that lived there, I might have spent my time in peace below, till I was re∣moved to the established seat of happiness a∣bove.
29. A reflec∣tion.
Had this been possible, I should have avoided many an affliction, and had known but few of those expectations and disappoint∣ments, which render life a scene of emptiness, and bitterness itself. My years would have rolled on in peace and wisdom, in this se∣questered, delightful scene, and my silent me∣ditations had been productive of that good temper and good action, which the resur∣rection of the dead, the dissolution of the world, the judgment day, and the eternal state of men, require us to have. Free from the various perplexities, and troubles I have ex∣perienced by land and sea, in different parts of the world, I should have lived, in this para∣dice of a place, in the enjoyment of that fine happiness, which easy country business and a studious life afford; and might have made a better preparation for that hour which is to disunite me, and let my invisible spirit depart to the shades of eternity. Happy they, who in some such rural retirement, can employ some useful hours every day in the manage∣ment of a little comfortable farm, and devote Page 167the greater portion of their time to sacred knowledge, Heavenly piety, and angelick good∣ness; which cannot be dissolved when the thinker goes, nor be confined to the box of obscurity, under the clods of the earth: but will exist in our souls for ever, and enable us to depart in peace to the happy regions. This has ever made me prefer a retired country life, when it was in my power to en∣joy it. But be it town or country, the main business, my good readers, should be to secure an inheritance in that eternal world, where the sanctified live with God and his Christ. Getting, keeping, multiplying money; dress, pleasure, entry; are not only little things for such beings as we are: they are indeed sad principal work for creatures that are passing away to an everlasting state; there to lament their lost day, and talents misapplied, in dread∣ful agonies, in the habitations of darkness; —or, to remain for ever in the habitations of light, peace, and joy; if you have laboured to obtain, and improve in the graces and vir∣tuous qualities which the gospel recommends. These are the treasure and possession worth a christian's acquiring. These only are porta∣ble into the eternal world; when the body that was cloathed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day, is laid in a cold and narrow cave. Take my advice then, reader. Be ready. Let us so think and act in this first state, that in the next, we Page 168may meet in the regions of purity and right∣eousness, serenity and joy.
30. An account of an extra∣ordinary effusion of water from a moun∣tain.
The lake I have mentioned was the largest I had seen in this wild part, being above a mile in length, and more than half a mile broad; and the water that filled it, burst with the greatest impetuosity from the inside of a rocky mountain, that is very wonderful to behold. It is a vast craggy precipice, that ascends till it is almost out of sight, and by its gloomy and tremendous air, strikes the mind with a horror that has some∣thing pleasing in it. This amazing cliff stands perpendicular at one end of the lake, at the distance of a few yards, and has an opening at the bottom, that is wide enough for two coaches to enter at once, if the place was dry. In the middle of it, there is a deep channel, down which the water rushes with a mighty swiftness and force, and on either side, the stone rises a yard above the impetuous stream. The ascent is easy, flat and plane. How far it goes, I know not, being afraid to ascend more than forty yards; not only on account of the terrors common to the place, from the fall of so much water with a strange kind of roar, and the height of the arch which covers the torrent all the way; but because as I went up, there was of a sudden, an encrease of noise so very ter∣rible, that my heart failed me, and a trem∣bling Page 169almost disabled me. The rock moved under me, as the frightful sounds encreased, and as quick as it was possible for me, I came into day again. It was well I did; for I had not been many minutes out, before the water overflowed its channel, and filled the whole opening in rushing to the lake. The increase of the water, and the violence of the discharge, were an astonish∣ing sight. I had a great escape.
31. The cause of the erup∣tion of wa∣ter from the inside of the mountain, and its sud∣den en∣crease.
As the rocky mountain I have men∣tioned, is higher than either Snowden in North-Wales, or Kedar-Idris in Merioneth∣shire, (which have been thought the highest mountains in this island), that is, it is full a mile and an half high from the basis, as I found by ascending it with great toil on the side that was from the water, and the top was a flat dry rock, that had not the least spring, or piece of water on it, how shall we account for the rapid flood that proceeded from its inside? Where did this great water come from?—I answer, might it not flow from the great abyss — and the great en∣crease of it, and the fearful noise, and the motion of the rock, be owing to some vio∣lent commotion in the abyss, occasioned by some natural or supernatural cause?
32. The origin of earth∣quakes.
That there is such an abyss, no one can doubt that believes revelation, and from reason and history it is credible, that there are violent concussions on this vast collection Page 170of water, by the divine appointment: and therefore, I imagine it is from thence the water of this mountain proceeds, and the great overflowing and terrifying sound at cer∣tain times. To this motion of the abyss, by the divine power exerted on it, I ascribe the earthquakes; and not to vapor, or electricity. As to electricity, which Dr. Stukeley makes the cause of the deplorable downfall of Lis∣bon*, in his book lately published, (called, The Philosophy of Earthquakes), there are many things to be objected against its being the origin of such calamities:—one objection is, and it is an insuperable one, that electri∣cal shocks are ever momentary, by every ex∣periment, but earthquakes are felt for several minutes. Another is, that many towns have been swallowed up in earthquakes, tho' Lis∣bon was only overthrown. Such was the case of the city of Callao, within two leagues of Lima. Tho' Lima was only tumbled into ruins, October 28, 1746; yet Callao sunk downright, with all its inhabitants, and an unfathomable sea now covers the finest port in Peru, as I have seen on the spot.— In the earthquake at Jamaica, June 7, 1692, in which several thousands perished, it is certain, that not only many houses, and a great number of people, were intirely swal∣lowed up; but that, at many of the gapings or openings of the earth, torrents of water that formed great rivers, issued forth. This Page 171I had from a man of veracity then on the spot, who was an eye-witness of these things, and expected himself every minute to descend to the bowels of the earth, which heaved and swelled like a rolling sea. Now to me the electrical stroke does not appear sufficient to produce these things. The power of electricity, to be sure is vast and amazing. It may cause great tremors and undulations of the earth, and bring down all the build∣ings of a great city: but as to splitting the earth to great depths, and forcing up tor∣rents of water, where there was no sign of the fluid element before, I question much if the vehemence of the elemental electric fire does this.—Beside, when mountains and cities sink into the earth, and the deepest lakes are now seen to fill all the place where they once stood, as has been the case in many countries, where could these mighty waters come, but from the abyss?—The great lake Oroquantur in Pegu, was once a vast city. In Jamaica, there is a large deep lake where once a mountain stood.—In an earthquake in China, in the province of Sanci, deluges of water burst out of the earth, Feb. 7, 1556, and inundated the country for 180 miles. Many more instances of this kind I might produce, exclusive of Sodom, the ground of which was inundated by an irruption of waters from beneath, (which now forms the dead sea) after the Page 172city was destroyed by fire from above; that the land which had been defiled with the unnatural lusts of the inhabitants might be no more inhabited, but remain a lasting mo∣nument of the divine vengeance on such crimes, to the end of the world: and the use I would make of those I have mentioned, is to shew, that these mighty waters were from the furious concussion of the abyss that caused the earthquakes. Electricity, I think, can never make seas and vast lakes to be where there were none before. Locherne, in the county of Fermanagh, in the province of Ulster in Ireland, is thirty three miles long, and fourteen broad, and as the old Irish chronicle informs us, was once a place where large and populous towns appeared, till for the great iniquity of the inhabitants, the people and their fair habitations were de∣stroyed in an earthquake, and mighty waters from the earth covered the place, and formed this lake. Could the electrical stroke produce this sea that was not to be found there before the destruction? Is it not more reasonable to suppose, that such vast waters have been forced by a supernatural commotion from the great abyss, in the earthquake that destroyed the towns which once stood in this place?
To this then, (till I am better informed), I must ascribe such earthquakes as produce great rivers and lakes: and where no waters appear, I believe the earthquakes are caused Page 173by the immediate finger of God; either operating on the abyss, tho' not so as to make the water break out on the earth; or by di∣recting the electrical violence or stroke; or otherwise acting on the ruined cities and shattered places.
33. A reflexion on second causes, and the Deity's being not only at the head of na∣ture, but in every part of it.
For my part, I think it is a grievous mistake in our philosophical enquiries, to as∣sign so much to second causes as the learned do. The government of the universe is gi∣ven to matter and motion, and under pre∣tence of extolling original contrivance, the execution of all is left to dead substance. It is just and reasonable (even Newton and Mac∣laurin say) to suppose that the whole chain of causes, or the several series of them, should center in him, as their source and fountain; and the whole system appear depending upon him, the only independent cause. Now to me this supposition does not appear either just or reasonable. I think the noble phoeno∣mena of nature ought to be ascribed to the immediate operation of the Deity. Without looking for a subtile elastic medium, to pro∣duce gravity; which medium Sir Isaac con∣fesses he had no proof of; nor is there in reality such a thing in the universe; I ima∣gine the divine Newton would have done better, if, after establishing the true system of nature, by demonstrating the law of gra∣vity, he had said this gravity was the constant and undeniable evidence of the immediate in∣fluencePage 174of the Deity in the material universe. A series of material causes betwixt Deity and Effect, is, in truth, concealing him from the knowledge of mortals for ever. In the mo∣ral government of the world, second causes do, because free-agents act a part; but, in the material universe to apply them, to me seems improper, as matter and motion only, that is, mechanism, come in competition with the Deity. Most certainly he constantly in∣terposes. The Divine Power is perpetually put forth throughout all nature. Every par∣ticle of matter, must necessarily, by its na∣ture, for ever go wrong, without the conti∣nued act of Deity. His everlasting interpo∣sition only can cause a body moving in a cir∣cle to change the direction of its motion in every point. Nor is it possible for subtile matter, the supposed cause of gravity, to know to impel bodies to a center, with qua∣druple force at half the distance.
And as in gravity, and in the cohesion of the parts of matter, the Deity is, and acts in the motion of the celestial bodies, and in the resistance the least particles make to any force that would separate them; so is his im∣mediate power, I think for myself, exerted not only in earthquakes and tides, but in the circulations of the blood, lymph, and chyle, in muscular motion, and in various other phoenomena that might be named. Books I know have been written, and ingenious Page 175books they are, to shew the causes of these things, and trace the ways they are per∣formed by the materials themselves: but these explications never satisfied me. I had as many questions to ask, after reading these books, as I had before I looked into them, and could find no operator but infinite power conducted by infinite wisdom.
In the last place, how does the theory of tides account for the regular peculiarity of the flux and reflux of the Atlantic, different from all other tides; while at Bathsha in the kingdom of Tunquin, there never is more than one tide in 24 hours; and some days, no tide? — For my part, I resolve the whole into the immediate power of the Deity. This power is gravity, attraction, repulse. The inactivity of matter requires the constancy and universality of divine power to support the material universe, and move it as occasion requires; that is, as infinite wisdom sees most conducive to the benefit of his creation.
In the case of earthquakes, as electricity, or aerial power, is insufficient to produce them, in my opinion, for two reasons before given; to wit, that the electrical stroke is ever single and momentary, but the vibrationsPage 179of the earth, in a quake, are often 3 and 4 minutes, and have held to 7 minutes — and that, besides the swelling and trembling of the earth, it has so opened at those times, as to swallow not only houses and people, but even mountains, and to send forth great ri∣vers and vast waters. And, as subterranean fire and vapor, I think, can never do such work, for many reasons that may be offered, we must, I think, ascribe the earthquakes to the immediate impression of divine power; by which a city is tumbled into ruins in three or four minutes, in the sad manner Lisbon was destroyed the first of November, 1755. or, the water of the great abyss is with such violence moved, that it shakes the arches of the earth, and where infinite wisdom directs, is enabled by Almighty Power to open the globe with tremendous noises, and pour forth vast torrents of water, to cover a land where once a flourishing city has stood. The elec∣tric stroke cannot be more dreadful than such exertion of omnipotence. The immediate action of the Deity, to destroy, must be as efficacious surely as any subordinate agent or cause: and it must be more terrible to the mind, as there can be no supposition of acci∣dent in ruin this way: but we see as it were the almighty arm, exerting an irresistible force, that could in the same few moments Page 180that a large town and its inhabitants are destroyed, shake the whole world into one dreadful ruin, or separate it into nothing. To my apprehension, the aerial power of electricity is not so fearfully striking, as the Creator's appearing, on the spot, to shake terribly the earth: and if we con∣sider, that it is on account of sin, that God resigns his omnipotence to his wrath, and commands his whole displeasure to arise, must not this account of an earth∣quake have the greatest tendency to reform the manners of the surviving people?
Various are the accounts that learned men have given of muscular motion, and ingenious are their reasonings on the subject: but they are not satisfactory, nor do they at all explain the thing, and account for it. What is a muscle?
It is to be sure a bundle of small blood vessels, consisting of arteries and their return∣ing veins, laid one upon another in their pa∣rallel plates, running thro' the whole length of the muscle; and at small intervals, these Page 181blood vessels, or longitudinal, red, and fleshy fibres, are contorted and bound about with small, transverse, and spiral ramifications and twinings of the nerves. This is a muscle: it has two ends, or tendons, fastened to two bones, one of which is fixed, and the other moveable; and by the contraction of the muscle, the moveable bone is drawn upon its fulcrum towards a fixed point. This is in∣disputable; and it is likewise certain, that the muscles are to be distinguished in∣to those of voluntary, and those of natural or necessary motion: that the voluntary muscles have antagonists, which act alter∣nately in a contrary direction, that is, are contracted by the command of the will, while the others are stretched, and again are extended, while the others are contracted: but the necessary muscles have contracting and extending powers within themselves, and need no antagonists.
This being the true state of the muscles, the question is, what causes that elasticity, spring, or power of contraction and resto∣ration, which their nervous coats and fibres have, to recover themselves against a given weight or force that stretches them? The reply is, that many unanswerable reasons can be given to prove, that this contractive resti∣tutive force does not depend on the mixture, effervescence, or rarefaction of any fluids, Page 182humours, or liquors within the body; and there is one convincing experiment that shews it.
Lay open the thorax of a dog, (as I have often done) and take a distinct view of that famous muscle, the heart, in its curious and wonderful motion, while the animal is still alive. In diastole, the muscle is very red and florid, soft and yielding to the touch, and thro' it the vital fluid glows and shines; it appears in this state fully replenished and distended with blood: but in systole, as soon as it begins to contract, and the blood rushes out by the compression of the contracting fibres, the heart loses its florid colour, and be∣comes pale and livid, compact and solid, and evinces that, during this state of it, the mus∣cle contracts inwardly into its own dense sub∣stance, and takes up less space than before, till it returns to its diastole: then the blood which flowed from it with velocity, during systole thro' the coronary veins into the auri∣cles, rushes back into it thro' the coronary ar∣teries, restores the glowing florid colour, and inflates the muscle, in order to strain the nerves for the next contraction. It is plain from hence, that the heart has less blood and fluid in time of contraction, and that the con∣traction is not caused by the addition of ano∣ther fluid from the nerves, as the learned have asserted.
Page 183And as to what they say of the longitudi∣nal fibres being divided into innumerable lit∣tle cells or bladders, which have communi∣cations with the blood vessels and nerves, and that in these vesicles, the blood and nervous fluid mix, ferment, and by rarefaction and expansion, swell and blow up the cells, and thereby inflate and distend the muscle, and increase its thickness, while its length is shortned:—this is so perplexed and un∣reasonable an hypothesis, that I am astonished how men of sense ever came to think of such a doctrine. There is no such nervous fluid to be found, to cause this fermentation, rarefaction, etc; and if there was, expansive force must lengthen as well as thicken, and the muscle could not be shortned in length, and swelled in thickness. The natural ac∣tion of the fluids upon the solids is, to in∣crease dimensions proportionably every way, that is, in the direction of the axis and con∣jugate diameter equally. Beside, if there was expansion, circulation must stop. The distention of the vesicles, and the rapid exit of the rarifying fluid could not be at once.
The plain account of the matter is then, that muscular motion is performed by the elas∣ticity of the nervous fibrillae, contracting and restoring themselves against the stretching force of the circulating blood. The contraction of the muscle straitens and compresses the blood∣vessels, Page 184and forces the blood with impetuosity thro' the heart; and this squeezing or pro∣pelling force gives the fluid an impetus, that makes it return with violence upon the mus∣cle, in the course of its circulation; then by force and impulse, it stretches the transverse and spiral nervous fibres, and so extends the contracted muscle, that drove it by contrac∣tion from itself. Upon this, the blood∣vessels having obtained their due extent and capacity, the distending force of the blood of consequence ceases: but the moment it does, the contractive power of the nerves begins to act again, and restores them to a contracted dense state, by a force exactly equal to that which extended them; till the returning propelled blood re-enters the mus∣cle, and stretches it again, as before described. Such are the two wonderful counter-forces that produce the natural involuntary motion of the heart, and carry on the circulation of the blood. You see with your eyes, in the opened live dog, this alternate contraction and extension; and as the stretching power is but a consequence of the contracting power, contraction is the spring of this wonderful ac∣tion, in which our will or free agency has no concern. And to what shall we ascribe this astonishing operation, this amazing contrac∣tive power, so exactly as to time, and so con∣stantly continued on the muscles of natural Page 185or necessary motion; till the aequilibrium by some means or other be broken, and the mo∣tion is preternaturally interrupted and sus∣pended? Will the great mechanical reasoners say, that matter does this wonder—matter, that is blind and impotent? Stuff: We must ascribe to a cause wise and powerful, not only the original contrivance of the thing, but the execution of this extraordinary scene. While you gaze upon this noblest muscle of the dog, you see the Deity at work.
And if we turn our eyes from the mus∣cles of mere natural involuntary motion, (which performs by a contracting power, acting within them), to those muscles which move the bones and members of our bodies, by the command of the will, how adorable is the wisdom and goodness of the Almighty Author of nature, not only in providing the animal machine with antagonistical muscles, one of which is contracted, while the other is extended; but for stimulating, con∣tracting, and compressing the nervous elastic cords and blood-vessels, as our minds com∣mand or determine! there is no possibility of accounting for the directions at pleasure of the antagonistic muscles, but by resolving them into the continual presence and action of the first cause. He enforces and executes. It is the active principle gives energy and mo∣tion both to voluntary and necessary muscles. Page 186This, I think, is the truth of philosophy. To suppose every thing to be effect without cause, is to reduce religion and philosophy to the same desperate state. It destroys all the principles of reason, as well as of virtue and moral conduct.
To say all that can be said, in as few words as possible, upon this article, it is not only the muscular motion, necessary and spon∣taneous(14) , that is caused by the action of the Deity; but the constant motions in the Page 187stomach, lungs, intestines, and other parts of the body, are caused by an acting Di∣vine Power. It can be demonstrated, that in the action of soft bodies upon soft bodies, the motion is always diminished; and of consequence, it must be greatly lessened in the yielding softness of the flesh and fluids of animal bodies. We see how soon water set∣tles, after motion imprest, by the bare attri∣tion of its parts on one another; altho' it has no obstacles to encounter, or narrow passages to move through. What then can we think of motion in such narrow twining meanders, as veins, arteries, intestines, and lacteal ves∣sels, thro' which the fluids of animal bodies are conveyed to parts innumerable? while the blood, lymph, and chyle creep thro' such narrow winding vessels, the whole motion of those fluids must be consumed every in∣stant by the attrition of their parts, and the force of consequence be renewed every in∣stant. Here is a perpetual miracle. The Divine Power urges on these fluids ten thou∣sand ways at once. Reason must confess a miraculous power indesinently and variously put forth in our bodies; while ignorance and vanity in vain attempts to account mechani∣cally for the circulation of those fluids. We are not only fearfully and wonderfully formed in the womb, but fearfully and wonderfully Page 188preserved every minute! creating power ne∣ver ceases (15) .
The conclusion of the matter is, that the plain argument for the existence of a Deity, obvious to all, and carrying irresistible con∣viction with it, is from the evident contri∣vance and fitness of things to one another, which we meet with through all the parts of the universe. There is no need of nice and subtile reasoning in this matter: a manifest contrivance immediately suggests a contriver. It strikes like a sensation, and artful reason∣ings against it may puzzle us, but it is with∣out shaking our belief. No person, for ex∣ample, who knows the principles of opticks, and the struture of the eye, can believe that it is formed without skill in that science; or that the ear was formed without the knowledge of sounds.—This is a just argument, and forces our assent. But the Page 189great Maclaurin should not have stopped here. The plain argument for the existence of a Deity grows stronger, when we add to it what is as evident as divine contrivance, to wit, the constant interposition of God, to sup∣port and move his creatures. Original con∣trivance in the works of the creation is adora∣ble. We are certain, demonstratively cer∣tain, that the heavens, the land, and the waters, and all the creatures in them con∣tained, are the works of the living God: but it is the present performance that strikes us like a sensation. With inexpressible plea∣sure we see creating power with our eyes. Which ever way we turn them, we behold Almighty Power employed, and continually acting under the direction of infinite know∣ledge.
Since things are so, and all the works of nature, in the common voice of reason, de∣clare the power and wisdom of the Creator, and speak his goodness in the innumerable mighty things he continually performs for our preservation and happiness, the contempla∣tion of them should warm our hearts with the Glory of the Almighty, and make us continually praise and adore that Almighty providence, which formed and sustains not only the human race and this terrestrial globe, but numberless other worlds and their inha∣bitants, that hang in infinite space. These Page 190mighty things displayed, ought surely to pro∣duce the devoutest prayers, and songs of praises in no common strain; and especially, if we add to those works of nature, that se∣cond creation, the still greater work of grace. Such omnipotence in wisdom and action, and such amazing goodness as we see in the chris∣tian gospel, should, I think, engage us to love and adore so great and good a Being as our Creator, and induce us to devote our lives to him.
For my part, when I consider the mighty scene and prospect of nature, and turn my thoughts from thence to God's word, that heavenly law, which directs our will and in∣forms our reason, and teaches us in all things how to pursue our own happiness, I am so struck with a sense of infinite wisdom, goodness, and action, that I cannot help ex∣tolling the king of the universe for the great∣ness of his power and mercy, and am neces∣sarily engaged in a scene of praise and devo∣tion. Indeed the heart must be as hard and cold as marble, that does not glow, nor is inflamed with ravishing love to the great Au∣thor of all things; after viewing with atten∣tion even one particular only in the works of nature, that material sun, which now shines out with light and beauty to animate and re∣fresh the world; and in the creation of grace, that sun of righteousness, who sheds forth the Page 191choicest blessings of Heaven upon the inha∣bitants of the earth. Can we be silent, who behold and enjoy those things! alass! too many can. Neither the Heavens, which de∣clare the glory of God, nor the days of the gospel, nor the righteousness of the new law, are regarded by them. But the wise will ever join with all their hearts, in the most exalted prayer and praise, and adore the Giver of these good and perfect gifts; for all his bles∣sings vouchsafed us; and especially, for the charter of his pardon granted by his bles∣sed Son, and the promises of everlasting hap∣piness and glory in a life to come, reason must declare it just to offer up religious praise, and make the greatest mental and moral im∣provement we can in this first state.
34. An extra∣ordinary loch on the top of a high moun∣tain.
Another extraordinary thing I saw in the place I have mentioned, was a water on the top of a hill, which stood at the other end of the lake, and was full as high as the mountain, from the side of which, the wa∣ter poured into the lake. This loch mea∣sured three quarters of a mile in length, and half a mile over. The water appeared as black as ink, but in a glass it was clear as other water, and bright in running down. It tasted sweet and good. At one end, it runs over its rocky bank, and in several noisy cascades, falls down the face of the moun∣tain to a deep bottom, where a river is form∣ed, Page 192that is seen for a considerable way, as it wanders along. The whole is a striking scene. The swarthy loch, the noisy de∣scending streams, clumps of aged trees on the mountain's side, and the various shoars and vallies below, afford an uncommon view. It was a fine change of ground, to ascend from the beautiful lake, (encompassed with mountains, and adorned with trees) into which was poured from a gaping preci∣pice, a torrent of streams; and see from the reverse of an opposite hill, an impetuous flood descending from the top to the finest points of view in the wildest glins be∣low.
35. The cause of an un∣fathomable loch on the top of the mountain.
What line I had with me, for expe∣riments on waters and holes, I applied to this loch, to discover the depth, but with 300 yards of whipcord my lead could reach no ground, and from thence, and the black∣ness of the water, and the great issuing stream, I concluded, justly I think, that it went down to the great abyss, the vast trea∣sury of waters within the earth. Many such unfathomable lochs as this have I seen on the summits of mountains in various parts of the world, and from them, I suppose, the greatest part of that deluge of waters came that drowned the old world. This leads me to say something of the flood.
36. Remarks on the de∣luge.
Many books have been written in re∣lation to this affair, and while some contend for the overflowing of the whole earth to a very great height of waters—and some for a partial deluge only—others will not allow there was any at all. The divine au∣thority of Moses they disregard. For my part, I believe the flood was universal, and that all the high hills and mountains under the whole heaven, were covered. The cause was forty days heavy rain, and such an agi∣tation of the abyss, by the finger of God, as not only broke up the great deep, to pour out water at many places, but forced it out of such bottomless lochs as this I am speak∣ing of on the mountains top, and from va∣rious swallows in many places. This removes every objection from the case of the deluge, and gives water enough in the space of 150 days, or five months of 30 days each, to over-top the highest mountains by 15 cubits, the height designed. The abyss in strong commotion, or violent uproar, by a power divine, could shake the incumbent globe to pieces in a few minutes, and bury the whole ruins in the deep. To me, then, all the reasoning against the deluge, or for a partial flood, appear sad stuff. Were this one loch in Stanemore to pour out torrents of water, down every side, for five months, by a di∣vine force on part of the abyss, as it might very easily by such means do, the inundation Page 194would cover a great part of this land; and if from every loch of the kind on the summits of mountains, the waters in like manner, with the greatest violence, flowed from every side out of the abyss, and that exclusive of the heavy rains, an earthquake should open some parts of the ground to let more water out of the great collection, and the seas and oceans surpass their natural bounds, by the winds forcing them over the earth, then would a universal flood very soon prevail. There is water enough for the purpose, and as to the supernatural ascent of them, natural and supernatural are nothing at all different with respect to God. They are distinctions merely in our conceptions of things. Regu∣larly to move the sun or earth; and to stop its motion for a day;—to make the waters that covered the whole earth at the creation, descend into the several receptacles prepared for them; and at the deluge, to make them ascend again to cover the whole earth, are the effect of one and the same Almighty Power; tho' we call one natural, and the other supernatural. The one is the effect of no greater power than the other. With re∣spect to God, one is not more or less natural or supernatural than the other.
A swallow is such another opening in the ground as Eldine Hole in Derbyshire(16) , and Page 196in travelling from the Peak to the northern extremity of Northumberland, I have seen many such holes in the earth, both on the hills and in the vales. I have likewise met with them in other countries. By these swal∣lows, a vast quantity of the waters to be sure went down to the great receptacle; all that was not exhaled, or licked up by the winds; or, except what might be left to encrease the for∣mer seas of the antediluvian world into those vast oceans which now encompasses the globe, and partly to form those vast lakes that are in several parts of the World. These things easily account for the removal of that vast mass of waters which covered the earth, and was in a mighty column above the highest hills. Every difficulty dis∣appears before evaporation, the drying winds, the swallows, and perhaps, the turning seas into oceans: but the three first things now Page 197named were sufficient, and the gentlemen who have reasoned so ingeniously against one another about the removal of the waters, might have saved themselves a deal of trouble, if they had reduced the operation to three simple things, under the direction of the First Cause. The swallows especially must do great work in the case, if we take into their number not only very many open gulphs or chasms, the depth of which no line or sound can reach; but likewise the communications of very many parts of the sea, and of many great unfathomable lochs, with the abyss. These absorbers could easily receive what had before come out of them. The sun by eva∣poration, with the wind, might take away what was raised. There is nothing hard then in conceiving how the waters of the de∣luge were brought away.
But as to the lake I have mentioned, into which a rapid flood poured from the bowels of the mountain, what became of this water the reader may inquire? To be sure, as it did not run off in any streams, nor make the lake rise in the least degree, there must have been a communication in some parts of its bottom, between the water of it and the abyss. As the loch on the top of the moun∣tain I have described had no feeders, yet emitted streams, and therefore must be sup∣ported by the abyss; so this lake, with so powerful a feeder, not running over, or Page 198emitting water any way, must discharge it∣self in the abyss below. The case of it must be the same as that of the Caspian sea. Into this sea many rivers pour, and one in parti∣cular, the Volga I mean, that is more than sufficient, in the quantity of water it turns out in a year, to drown the whole world. Yet the Caspian remains in one state, and does not overflow its banks, excepting, as before observed, sometimes, in the space of 16 years. It must by passages communicate with the great deep. It refunds the rivers into the great abyss. The case of the Medi∣terranean sea is the same; for, tho' a strong current from the Atlantic continually sits through the Strait of Gibraltar, yet these waters do not make it overflow the country round it, and of consequence, they must be carried off by a subterranean passage, or pas∣sages, to the abyss.
37. The jour∣ney in Stane∣more con∣tinued. An ac∣count of an assem∣blage of black co∣lumnar marble.
From the lake I proceeded the next morning, June 14, 1725, toward the north∣east end of Westmorland, having passed the night in a sound sleep under the trees by the water side, but was forced by the preci∣pices, to shape my course from four in the morning till eight, to the north-west, and then the road turned east-north-east, till I came to a great glin, where a river made a rumbling noise over rocks and inequalities of many kinds, and formed a very wild wonderful scene. The river Page 199was broad and deep, and on an easy descent to it, was an assemblage of stones, that ran in length about 100 feet, in breadth 30 feet, and somewhat resembling the giant's causeway, in the county of Antrim, and province of Ulster in Ireland; nine miles north east from the pretty town of Colerain. The giants causeway, reader, is a prodigious pile of rocks, 80 feet broad, 20 feet above the rest of the strand, and that run from the bottom of a high hill above 200 yards into the ocean.
The assemblage of stones I am speaking of are columns with several corners, that rise three yards above the ground, and are joined as if done by art; the points being con∣vex and concave, and thereby lying one in another. These columns have five and six sides, a few of them seven; and a number of them nicely and exactly placed together make one large pillar from one foot to two in dia∣meter. They are so nicely joined, that al∣tho' they have five and six sides, as I before said, yet their contexture is so adapted, as to leave no vacuity between them; the promi∣nent angles of one pillar fitting, and falling exactly into the hollows left them between two others, and the plain sides exactly answer to one another; so that those hexagons and pentagons of columnar marble appear as if finished by the hands of the most masterly Page 200workmen. All the pillars stood exactly perpendicular to the plane of the horizon.
Doctor Foley, in the philosophical tran∣sactions, No. 212, speaking of the giants causeway, seems to think these wonderful pillars are composed of the common sort of craggy rock by the sea side: and the authors of the complete system of geography are of opinion, they resemble the lapis Basaltes; but some think they are a sort of marble. Now the truth is, the Basaltes of the antients is a very elegant and beautiful marble of a fine deep glossy black, like high polished steel, and is always found erect in the form of regular angular columns, composed of a number of joints, fitted together, and mak∣ing pillars: so that where such pillars are seen, they are undoubtedly the columnar marble or touchstone of the antients. Dr. Hill, in his hi∣story of fossils, gives a good account of the nature of this body, and mentions several places it is to be found in; but seems not to have heard there was any of it among the northern mountains of our country.
This marble is one of the noblest pro∣ductions of nature, and of all the fossil kingdom, the most astonishing body. If art is requisite for the formation of many things we see daily done with elegance and beauty; then certainly, mind itself, even the supreme mind, must have caused Page 201such effects as these astonishing marble pillars; which lie in vast compound perpen∣dicular columns at great depths in the earth, (none in beds of strata, like the other mar∣bles), and rise in such beautiful joints and angles, well fitted together more than six and thirty foot above ground in some places. No other way could those won∣derful productions have come into being, but by that intelligent, active power, who speaks intelligibly to every nation by his works. To talk as some people do, that necessity, which destroys the very idea of intelligent and designing activity — or chance, which is an utter absurdity — or the sea, according to Telliamed, generated and formed this genus of marble, and so wonderfully distinguished it from all the other marmora; by making it into pentagon, hexagon, and septagon co∣lumns, and rendering the points of the co∣lumns convex and concave, and so amazingly joining them together, that the prominent angles of one pillar fall exactly into the hol∣low left beween two others, and the plain sides exactly answer to one another, as be∣fore observed, while all of them stand up perpendicular, contrary to the quality of all other marbles, and some lie in beds of strata — To talk I say of the sea, a chance, a necessity, doing this, or any thing of so won∣derful a kind, is to produce schemes founded in ignorance, and eversive of true know∣ledge, Page 202instead of giving a rational, intelli∣gible account of the formation of the world, its order and appearances. In this wonder∣ful production, a due attention perceives in∣finite art and power. Did we want that va∣riety of things which employ the considera∣tion of rational men, and force the tongues of thinking men to acknowledge creating power, this marble alone would be sufficient to demonstrate equal power directed by in∣finite wisdom.
38. An account f a burn∣ing spring.
Another extraordinary thing I saw in a valley not far from that where the Basalts stands. It is a boisterous burning spring. It rises with great noise and vibration, and gushes out with a force sufficient to turn many mills. The water is clear and cold, but to the taste unpleasant, being something like a bad egg. I judged from the nature of its motion, that the water would take fire, and having lit my torch, soon put it in a flame. The fire was fierce, and the water ran down the vale in a blaze. It was a river of fire for a considerable way, till it sunk under ground among some rocks, and thereby disappeared. After it had burnt some time, I took some boughs from a tree, and tying them together, beat the surface of the well for a few minutes, and the burning ceased. The water was not hot, as one might ex∣pect, but cold as the coldest spring could be. There are a great number of such springs in Page 203the world, but this is the largest I have read of, or seen. It differs from that of Broseley in Shropshire, within six miles of Bridge-north, in this respect, that Broseley well will not continue to burn for any time, unless the air be kept from it; to which purpose they have enclosed it in an iron cistern with a cover to it; and to experiment the boiling a piece of meat by the fire of this spring, they clap the pot close down when they cover is taken up, and then it burns as long as they will; mak∣ing the largest joint of meat fit to eat in half the time the strongest culinary fire could do the work. As to the medicinal virtues of the spring, in the mountains, I can only say, that as it has a copious sulphur, and from thence flames like spirit of wine, it is probable it might be as effectual in commu∣nicating sanity in various cases, as the fa∣mous burning spring is in the palatinate of of Cracow of the lesser Poland, mention'd in the Leipsic acts, An. 1684. p. 326. And as to the extinguishing this fire by beating it with twigs, it must to be sure be for the reason given by Mr. Denis, that as the inflam∣mability of such springs is to be ascribed to sulphur, and to its exhalations bursting out of the water; so this floating flame, which is too subtle to heat the water, is stifled, by in∣volving these spirits in the aqueous particles, by brushing the surface with brooms.
Conradus tells us, concerning the PolishPage 204spring, that at one time, when it was kindled by lightning, the people neglected to put it out, and the stream proceeded on fire for al∣most three years, and reduced all the neigh∣bouring wood to ashes. It is really a won∣derful sight to see such a river of fire, and adorable must be that power, who has caused such things. To say that matter and motion circumscribe and regulate such powers, is idle to the last degree. It is an inversion of reason. The very existence of the water and sulphur of this spring, must be by the power of the Creator constantly put forth upon it, which causes the parts to be what we call such things; and the motion of both must be an im∣pression; for motion is not essential to matter. Nothing else could produce them, and a cause there must be equal to the various and wonderful effects of both, a cause that is in∣finite, wise, and powerful. The Deity is every where present, and every where active. His power is indesinently working, gives ex∣istence to the various creatures, and produces the most noble phaenomena in nature. All we see, all we feel, fire and water, the uni∣versal variety of inanimate and animate crea∣tures, are only the effects of his creating power constantly repeated. The existence of the whole world is a continual new crea∣tion; and therefore it becomes the bounden duty of all rational creatures, to worship this Almighty Power, as well for his works of Page 205creation, as for the ways of his providence. Great and wonderful are thy works, O Lord God Almighty: and just and righteous are thy ways, O King of saints: who would not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name, because thou only art holy.
39. Another loch on the top of a high moun∣tain, and a swallow in the bottom.
From the burning fountain we pro∣ceeded for half an hour in the same valley right onwards, and then turned to the left in a course to the west, for about a mile, which brought us to the bottom of a steep moun∣tain, we must ascend, or go no farther. It was hard to get the horses over this, and no less difficult to descend with them to a deep bottom on the other side of the hill: but with great hazard to ourselves and the beasts, we came down in safety. On the top of this mountain I saw another large loch that was black as ink in appearance, tho' bright when taken up in a glass; which, (as before observed) must be owing I suppose to its top communicating with the abyss below; and in the bottom we descended to, there was a swallow larger than the one I saw before. I could make no discovery as to its depth, either by line or sound; nor did my lead touch any water. On the sloping way from the first chasm in day to the gulph, were several lateral chambers, that descended one yard in six; but tho' the bottom was hard, the horrors of the places hindered me from going far. I went to the Page 206end of the first, which was 67 yards, and having looked into the second, to which a narrow short pass leads the inquirer, I made what haste I could back; for the opening discovers a space so vast, dismal, and frightful, that it strikes one to the heart. The bottom, as far as my light could enable me to distin∣guish, was a continuance of stone; but neither top nor sides were to be seen. It is a horrible place.
40. An amaz∣ing arch thro' a mountain in a de∣lightful spot of ground.
Leaving this bottom, we mounted ano∣ther very high and dangerous hill, and from the top of it descended into twenty acres of as rich and beautiful ground as my eyes had ever seen. It was covered with flowers and aromatic herbs; and had, in the center of it, a little grove of beautiful trees; a∣mong which were fruits of several kinds. A flowing spring of the purest water was in the middle of this sweet little wood, and ran in pretty windings over the ground. It re∣freshed and adorned the field, and it was beautiful to see the deer from the hills, and the goats come down from the cliffs, to drink at these streams. The whole was surrounded with precipices that ascended above the clouds, and through one of these rocky mountains there was an opening that had a stupendous appearance.
It was a vast amazing arch, that had some resemblance of the gothic isle of a large cathedral church, and terminated in a view Page 207of rocks hanging over rocks in a manner frightful to behold. It measured an hun∣dred yards in length, 40 in breadth, and I judged it to be fifty yards high. The pending rocks in view inclosed a space of four acres, as it appeared to me, and the bottom was so very deep that it looked like night below. What line I had could not reach it, nor could I make any thing of the depth by sound. It seemed to me to be a vast swallow that went down to the abyss. The whole was a scene that har∣rowed the soul with horror.
41. An extra∣ordinary passage thro' the mountains.
By the spring in the little grove I have mentioned, I sat down at 8 in the morning, to breakfast on something that one of my squires produced from his store, while the other was looking for a passage or way on∣wards, between those vast precipices that sur∣rounded us. Two hours he wasted in an enquiry, and then returned, to let me know there was no passage that he could find: the enclosed rocks were one continued chain of unpassable mountains. Here then I thought was my ne plus ultra. As the man af∣firmed there was no getting beyond the vast inclosing cliffs that walled in this charming spot of earth, I imagined for some time, that I must of necessity re∣turn, and give over all thoughts of getting to the borders of Cumberland or Bishop∣rick that way. It seemed impossible to Page 208proceed, and that was no small trouble to my mind. It was a great journey round, and if I did ride it, I knew not where to turn in on the confines of the country my friend lived on; for I had lost his directions, and had only a small remembrance of his dwelling somewhere on the north edge of Westmoreland or Yorkshire, or on the ad∣joining borders of Cumberland, or the county of Durham. What to do I could not for some time tell: going back I did not at all like, and therefore, to avoid it if possible, resolved to pass the day in trying if I could find any way out, with∣out climbing the mountain again that I had lately come down. Round then I walked, once, and to no manner of purpose, for I did not see any kind of pass; but the second time, as I marched on observing the hill, I took notice of a large clump of great trees in an angle or deep corner, that seemed to stand very oddly, and in the mountain above them there appeared as I thought a distance or space that looked like an opening. I soon found it was so, and that at the back of this little wood, there lay a very narrow way, only broad enough for two horses a-breast: that it extended due west for more than a mile, and then west-north-west for a quarter of a mile, till it terminated in a plain that was several miles in circumference, and in∣tirely surrounded with hills. This I disco∣vered Page 209in walking the pass by myself, * and then returned to bring the horses and men, through this amazing way. It was quite dark, mere night all along; and the bottom very bad. It was likewise every dangerous. It was evident from the ground, that stones had fallen from the tops of the hills; and should any descend from so vast a height on us, tho' even small ones, they would without all peradventure be immediate death.
42. A reflexion on the com∣pletion of every wish the moment it is formed.
The plain we came into from the de∣file, was above a mile over to the opposite hills, and a-cross it was a walk of aged oaks, that seemed, in such a place, as the avenue that leads to the fairy castle of wishes. If such beings there are, as Dr. Fowler, bishop of Glocester, hath in one of his books af∣firmed, then here, I said, in this fine ro∣mantic region, where all the charms of the field, the forest, the water, and the moun∣tains, are united, may be their favorite man∣sion, and perhaps they will admit me into their fairy castle: then commences their friendship, and when they have all breathed on me, it is but wishing for the future, and the completion of every desire is granted the moment it is formed. Would not this be compleat happiness? what do you say, re∣flexion?
No, (reflexion answered, as we rid up this avenue.) Imagination may form fine pictures Page 210of felicity from an indulgence in every wish; but, so blind are mankind to their own real happiness, that it is oftner to the gratification than to the disappointment of their wishes that all their misery is owing. We often choose what is not consonant to the welfare of our nature, and strive to avoid those inci∣dents which are fated in the order of incon∣trolable events for our good. Frequently do we labour to secure the things that debase us into slaves, and overwhelm us with cala∣mity; but seldom do we desire, rarely do we strive to obtain those objects, and acquire that station, which are most likely to render humanity as perfect as it can be in this world, rational and godlike, and thereby crown our lives with true happiness. Many a man has pursued a Venus, an estate, an honour, with much toil and wonderful activity, and when possessed of the fancyed blessing, have been made very miserable mortals. The wished for beauty has often made even the husband wretched. An aching scar is often covered with the laurel: and in respect of envied great fortunes, gaudy is the thing without, and within very often is mere bitterness. The wisdom is, as to this world, not to get from the fairies a power of enjoying all that fancy may desire, if that was possible; but, to act well and wisely, in the most rea∣sonable, lovely, and fair manner, and pro∣pose Page 211nothing of ourselves, but with a reserve that supreme wisdom permits it; welcoming every event with chearfulness and magnani∣mity, as best upon the whole, because or∣dained of infinite reason; and acquiescing in every obstruction, as ultimately reservable to divine providence. This (continued reflexion), in respect of this life, were there no other, is preferable to the castle of wishes, if we could find it at the end of this avenue (17) .
But if another life is taken into the que∣stion, the argument grows stronger against a power of enjoying all we could wish for.— As we are accountable creatures, and are pouring fast out of time into eternity, reli∣gion undoubtedly ought to be the main busi∣ness of mortals;—that religion, which is a living principle, spring, or root of ac∣tions Page 212in the soul; wrought there by the hand of him that made us; and which requireth us to honour and fear God as the supreme Lord, to esteem him as the chief good; and to exercise and express that honour, that fear, and that esteem, by all the means, and in all the ways, which reason and revelation ap∣point for such exercise and expression; that we may gain the love of the Almighty, and obtain the established seat of happiness above: but such force hath the objects of sense upon the mind, that it is more than probable they would outweigh the distant hopes of religion, if wishing could bring in even a tenth part of what the vanity of man, and his senses would call for. It would be so far from be∣ing an advantage to mankind, if they could wish and have vast fortunes, all the pleasures, the pomps and honours of the world, that they would thereby be deprived of the ra∣tional joys of life, and be influenced to think no more of the excellency and beauty of re∣ligion, and the good consequences of serving God truly. They would not even divide themselves between this world and the other. The Idol Gods of this state would have all their service. The wish then should be for daily bread, and that the kingdom of God may come—his will be done in our souls. In these are comprized the greatest and most va∣luable blessings, and we are sure we can ob∣tain Page 213them, if we will add to asking an in∣dustry and prudence in acquiring, and take care by culture, to bring up the seeds of vir∣tue and holiness. This is enough to make us as happy here as reason can desire. We have a sufficiency to go through this world to that other where we are to be stationed for ever, and against the accidents of the way, we have the supports which innocence and virtue to the good administer. Peace and tranquillity of mind here, and hopes full of comfort with respect to hereafter, are the in∣gredients of our happiness; a happiness the greatest! and we are certain that he, upon whose mercy and goodness we confess we ex∣ist, will, in regard to our confidence and trust, our faith and religion, when this fleeting scene is over, make us glorious and ever blessed in the kingdom he has prepared for those that rely on the Divine Goodness, and do their best to advance the state of true vir∣tue in the world. Let us not regret, then, the want of a castle of wishes. Let us not have a desire of that wealth, dominion and splendor, which lives in contempt of the pro∣phets, and riots in the heinous pleasures of irreligion.
Let our great Master's Will be made the rule of all our actions, and let his interest be regarded, as our interest. Let us consult his ho∣nour, as our own honour; and having food and Page 214raiment, be content, as we are hasting away with a never ceasing pace, to the realms of eternity and unmixed bliss. This is reason and light. This only deserves our care. There is nothing worth wishing for, but the happi∣ness of God's presence in our hearts; and the more immediate communications of his love and favour in the regions of day.
43. A descrip∣tion of a natural grotto in one of the mountains of Stane∣more. June 14, 1725.
Thus did reflexion entertain me, as I rid up this grand shady walk, which looked like the avenue I had read of in the Tales of the Fairies, and brought me to a natural grotto, more beautiful than Aelian's descrip∣tion of Atalanta's, or that in Homer, where Calypsos lived. — It was a large cavern at the bottom of a marble mountain, and with∣out, was covered round with ivy, that clung about some aged oaks, (on either side the en∣trance) that seemed coeval with the earth on which they grew. Abundance of large lau∣rel trees, in clumps, adorned an extensive area before the door; and saffron, and hya∣cinths, and flowers of many colours, covered in confused spots the carpet green. The beau∣tiful ground refreshed the sight, and purified the air: and to enhance the beauties of the spot, a clear and cold stream gushed from a neighbouring rock; which watered the trees and plants, and seemed to combat with the earth, whether of them most contributed to their growth and preservation. It was a Page 215sweet rural scene. For charms and solitude the place was equally to be admired.
The inside of this grotto was a beautiful green marble, extremely bright, and even ap∣proaching to the appearance of the emerald. It was thick set with shells, and those not small ones, but some of the largest and finest kinds: many of them seemed, as it were, squeezed together by the marble, so as to shew the edges only; but more were to be seen at large, and filled with the purest spar. The whole had a fine effect, and as the cave had been divided by art into six fine apart∣ments, and had doors and chimnies most ingeniously contrived, both the mansion and its situation charmed me in a high degree. It was a beautiful habitation indeed. On ei∣ther side of it were many cottages, pretty and clean, and as sheep were feeding on the field, some cows grazing, and various kinds of tame fowl before the doors, I concluded it was an inhabited place, before I saw any one.
44. The history of Azora.
The first human being I beheld, was an old woman, who appeared at the grotto door, and I requested her to inform me, who lived in this delightful place;—and which was my best way to Cumberland or Bishoprick? Sir, (replied the good old woman) you are welcome to Burcott-Lodge. Women only are the inhabitants of this spot: and over the Page 216hills before you, you must go, to get to the countries you mention. We are an hundred souls in all that live here, and our mistress, superior and head, is a young woman. Her name is Azora. Yonder she comes, good∣ness itself, and as it is now seven in the even∣ing, too late to proceed any farther in this part of the world, you had better walk up to her, and pay her your respects. Great was my surprize at what I heard. A little female republic among those hills was news indeed: and when I came near Azora, my astonishment encreased.
The picture of Azora.
She was attended by ten young women, straight, clean, handsome girls, and surpassed them in tallness. Her countenance was mas∣culine, but not austere: her fine blue eyes discovered an excellence of temper, while they shewed the penetration of her mind. Her hair was brown, bright and charming; and nature had stamped upon her cheeks a colour, that exceeded the most beautiful red of the finest flower. It was continually as the maiden blush of a modest innocence. She was drest in a fine woollen stuff, made in the manner shepherdesses are painted, and on her head had a band or fillet like what the ladies now wear, with a bunch of artificial flowers in her hair. She had a very small straw hat on.—In her hand, she held a long and Page 217pretty crook: and as her coats were short, her feet were seen, in black silk shoes, and the finest white stockings, and appeared vastly pretty. She struck me greatly. She was a charming, and uncommon figure. When I came up to Azora, I could hardly forbear addressing her, as the son of Ulysses did the supernal,—O vous, qui que vous soiez, mortelle ou deesse (quoiqu'a vous voir on ne puisse vous prendre que pour une divinité) seriez-vóus insensible au malheur d'un fils, qui —Whoever you are, a mortal or a goddess, tho' sure your aspect speaks you all divine, can you, unmoved, behold a hapless son, by fate expelled, and urged by unrelenting rage, to wander thro' the world, exposed to winds and seas, and all the strokes of adverse for∣tune, till he arrived in this land of felicity and peace?—But on better thoughts, I only said, I am your most humble servant, madam, and told her I believed I had lost my way, and knew not where to go;—To which she replied, you are welcome, sir, to our hamlet, and to the best entertainment it affords: only tell me, she added with a smile, what could induce you to travel this unbeaten road—and how did you pass the precipices and rivers you must have met with in the way?—Curiosity, madam, (I answered) was one cause; that I might see a country Page 218no traveller had been in; and my next in∣ducement, to find a valuable friend; who lives somewhere upon the northern border of this county, or Yorkshire, or on the adjoin∣ing limits of Cumberland or Durham; but on which I know not; and as I came from Brugh under Stanemore, I judged it the shortest way by a great many miles, and the likeliest to succeed in my enquiry after my friend:—then as to hills and waters, many dangerous ones I have gone over, and with great toil and fatigue have got thus far.—This (Azora said) is a rational account of your journey, and as there are many difficul∣ties still before you, you are welcome to rest with us till you are refreshed, and able to proceed.
By this time, we reached the grotto door, and upon entring the first apartment, I saw another lady, drest in the same manner, and seemed to be of the same age, that is, about six and twenty, as I was told. This was Azora's companion and friend. She was a very pretty woman, tho' inferior to Azora in charms: but her mind was equally luminous and good. Neither she nor Azora were learned women, that is, they understood no other language than the English tongue, and in that they had but a small collection of the best books; but those few they had read Page 219well, and they had capacities to think. In reason, philosophy, and mathematicks, they were excellent, and in the most agreeable manner, discovered in conversation the finest conceptions of the most excellent things. Azora, of the two, was by much the best speaker. Her voice was delightful, and her pronunciation just; strong, clear, and vari∣ous. With unspeakable pleasure did I listen to her, during three days that I happily passed with her and her companion, and received from both many valuable informations. I thought I understood algebra very well, but I was their inferior, and they instructed me; and on the fundamental points of religion, they not only out-talked me, but out-reasoned me. It is very strange, I confess. It is very true, however.
Azora, in particular, had an amazing col∣lection of the most rational philosophical ideas, and she delivered them in the most pleasing dress, with as much ease as she breathed. She asked me, after I had feasted on an excellent supper, how religion went on in the world; and what was the condition of that which came from supernatural com∣munication, as she phrased it? and when I told her, that our excellent divines did all that was possible for men to do, to turn the world from superstition of every kind to that Page 220express revelation which restores the dictates of uncorrupted reason to their force and au∣thority; which teaches the knowledge of one supreme Spirit or God, and the nature of that worship which is due to a Being not con∣fined to, or dependent upon particular places, or circumstances; but always and every where present with us: she answered, that such clergymen are glorious, and cannot be enough admired; and great is the unreason∣ableness of the men who opposed them, and forced them into the field of disputation, from their holy labour of instructing the peo∣ple in penitential piety and sanctification: I mean the infidels and the bigots.
What can be more unjust and impious, (Azora continued) than for men to declame against a revelation which displays the pater∣nal regard of God for his creatures, by doing more than was strictly necessary for their hap∣piness, as they had his original law of reason before he gave them the gospel; and which en∣ables us to extend our knowledge even as to those things which we are by nature capable of knowing; which awakens us to duty, and advises us how to walk in the ways of pru∣dence and safety. To reject such an extra∣ordinary method of saving us, is senseless and culpable indeed. Surely, when supersti∣tion and enthusiasm has led mankind into er∣rors, we ought to adore the divine goodness Page 221for recommunicating a knowledge of true reli∣gion; of duty in this life, and of what we are to expect in that which is to come. We can never be thankful enough for a revelation, that has a tendency to promote the happiness of mankind both here and hereafter. The opposition, in my opinion, is without ex∣cuse; as the external evidence of history, miracles, and prophecy for the gospel, is in∣contestably strong, when fairly examined; must appear with force to a modest, candid, impartial inquirer; and as the internal evi∣dence for the sacred letters, their usefulness and excellence, must be obvious to every attentive capacity, that delights in the pursuit of religion and virtue. Truth and candor, then, those infidels are strangers to. They are not fair reasoners. They are haughty, over-bearing declaimers.
Azora's notion of the incom∣prehensible, and the law of reason.
Nor can I think much better (Azora said) of those great and reverend men, who preach and write to prove the weakness of human reason, and that the prime law of our cre∣ation, the law of nature, is imperfect, insuf∣ficient, and obscure; and therefore, supernatu∣ral communication was absolutely necessary; who add to this, things inconceivable and contra∣dictory, and insist upon our believing articles too hard for rational beings. This is misre∣presenting rationals, if we believe the scrip∣tures, and is so far from being of service to Page 222the cause of christianity, (as in charity we must suppose those great men by such write∣ing and preaching do intend) that it does, on the contrary, very greatly hurt reveled religion. It is to such wrong defences of revelation that antichristian deism owes its chief strength. Our holy religion wants not any real evidence that can be desired by the mo∣dest, candid, and impartial; but if great and learned men will deny the perfection of the primary law of God, and substitute in the place of recommunicated nature, an invented gospel, that swells with useless mysteries, and hard doctrines; great damage must fall upon the true gospel. An unintelligible religion is no religion. It can be of no concern, with regard to rational creatures; and strong minds will laugh at its pieties.
But exclusive of invented mysteries, (I said) which are to be sure sad stuff in the works of those great men, and deplorably corrupt the simplicity of the gospel, to me it is not so plane, that mankind could by reason ac∣quire just and adequate ideas of the existence and nature of the supreme Being, or know that they had immortal souls, and would ex∣pose themselves to eternal unavoidable misery in a future state, in proportion to the demerit of their thoughts and actions in this world; but might secure everlasting felicity by wor∣shipping one supreme, universal, omnipotent, Page 223eternal, omnipresent, and intelligent Spirit, and doing all the good we have an opportu∣nity and power to do in this life. I question if reason can make us clear and certain on these articles. The reason of the bulk of mankind cannot do it, I think. Therefore, the gospel was absolutely necessary for the salvation of men.
Continua∣tion of Azora's re∣ligious no∣tions.
Azora to this replied, that faith in Christ, and all his own institutions, were of high va∣lue indeed; and beautiful his religion appears, when it is fairly represented, as an institution that has no other end than morality, the most noble end, and the most worthy of God; and that declares the practice of all the moral offices to be superior to any inward accom∣plishment, or outward christian institution: but she could not allow, that christianity was absolutely necessary; for the common reason of men, without launching out into the un∣fathomable ocean of metaphysical subtilties, appears upon tryal to be able to discover the fundamental points of religion; and from the things that are made, from our moral capacities and powers, and from our rela∣tions to one another, to know the supreme Being, his attributes and perfections, and that we are accountable to our great Creator.
If men will think, they must perceive (without the reason of a Newton or Clarke) the existence of a spiritual influence in all the Page 224parts of inanimated matter, and the existence of their own spirits or souls. To which ever part of matter we look, we see a spirit em∣ployed. An influencing Being, endued with the faculties of perception, activity, and vo∣lition, is plane. The accidental qualities of matter, called attraction, repulsion, and com∣munication of motion, evince that material and vegetable nature, and all the parts of in∣animated matter, are actuated by one supreme and universal spirit: I say One Spirit, be∣cause it is evident from a sameness of volition, that is, from one and the same faculty of vo∣lition, manifest throughout all nature, that there are not several distinct, independent spirits. In attraction, repulsion, and commu∣nication of motion, there appears no different faculty of volition, but a different exercise of the same faculty of volition; which, for wise reasons, makes some parts of matter cohere strongly, as stone and metal,—some weakly, as earth, etc; some repel, while others at∣tract; some elastic, and others non-elastic. In all these cases, one spirit only is the actor: that Being who holds all perfection in him∣self, and by an absolute command over all parts of matter, forms and manages it as his wisdom sees best;—just as his adorable providence governs us, and disposes of us, by such laws as reason, (consulting the good of the whole society) declares it to be best Page 225for us to obey: best, most surely, as it is the glory of the Almighty to be constantly and without any deviation, governed by the eter∣nal and immutable laws of good and right, just and equal. All is the operation of one and the same universal spirit. Identity is vi∣sible. The various kinds of attraction, re∣pulsion, etc. only shew the unlimited power of the Deity, in actuating matter as his esta∣blished rules require. Were several arbitrary, supreme spirits to act over matter, the conse∣quence would be a breach of regularity, uni∣formity, and constancy, in the laws of na∣ture, and that confusion would appear instead of beauty and order.
Continua∣tion of Azora's re∣ligious no∣tions.
Thus common reason confesses that there is one infinite universal, supreme spirit, who actuates and governs the universe; and from the heavens, the earth, and ourselves, we are as certain that there is a Creator and Lord of all the worlds, who directs every atom of it, and animates every material form, as we are of any thing demonstrated to us. And as he is not only the Creator but the Mana∣ger and Preserver of every being, there can be no power equal to him. He must be omnipotent. He must likewise be eternal and omnipresent; for there was no superior power to receive existence from, nor is there a superior power to confine it. As to his infinite intelligence, his being the Author Page 226and Preserver of all things demonstrates it.
In respect of the human soul (Azora con∣tinued) it is impossible for perception to pro∣ceed from the body, or from any motion or modification of parts of the body; and there∣fore, there must be a mind in which our ideas must be produced and exist. If the ideas of sensation may be supposed to be oc∣casioned by the different motions of the con∣stituent parts of the brain, yet they cannot be those motions. The motions can only enable a spiritual percipient to note them, remember them, etc: and as to reflection, the other part of the perceptive faculty, at∣tention, and contemplation, it is not possible they can proceed from the different motions into which the parts of the brain are put; because they are employed solely about per∣ceptions which were only in the mind. The case is the same as to many other qualities or faculties;— in the designing quality, the inventing quality, the judging quality, the reasoning quality, the compounding quality, the abstracting quality, the discerning quali∣ty, the recollective quality, the retentive quality, the freedom of will, the faculty of volition, and especially the foreseeing faculty: these cannot be the faculties of matter. Such qualities must exist ultimately and solely in mind. Can foresight, for example, be the work of matter, when it is employed about Page 227things and actions which have not yet hap∣pened, and for that reason cannot be the ob∣jects of the senses? No surely. It must be the spiritual part of the compound that acts upon the occasion: in all the intelligent fa∣culties which we comprehend under the com∣plex idea of understanding, spirit only can be the performer.
Continua∣tion of A∣zora's re∣ligious phi∣losophy.
There is a soul or mind then in man, and that it is immortal and accountable, is as evi∣dent as that the retentive faculty, that is, retaining ideas received by reflection, does not pertain to body, but is a natural quality of the soul only, and does not proceed from its union with the body: for, as perception and retention prove the human mind to be a di∣stinct being, and that it has qualities which cannot proceed from body, therefore it must still continue a Spirit, unless annihilated by its Creator, and must, after its separation, be endued with the qualities which are the fa∣culties of soul only. The reason is plain. These qualities cannot be destroyed without a cause, but separation is no cause, as the quality or qualities did not proceed from, or depend on union, therefore the soul is im∣mortal, unless we suppose what cannot be supposed, that its Creator puts an end to its being. We must know, after death, that we exist. We must remember a past ex∣istence, Page 228and call to mind every idea we had formed in this life by reflection.
Continua∣tion of A∣zora's dis∣course.
As to our being accountable hereafter for the deeds we have done in this first state of existence, this can admit of no speculation; for as we have received from our Crea∣tor the eternal law of reason, which enables us to distinguish right and wrong, and to govern the inferior powers and passions, ap∣petites and senses, if we please; — as we are endued with an understanding which can ac∣quire large moral dominion, and may, if we oppose not, sit as queen upon the throne over the whole corporeal system; since the noble faculty of reason was given to rectify the soul, and purify it from earthly affec∣tions; to elevate it above the objects of sense, to purge it from pride and vanity, selfishness and hypocrisy, and render it just, pious and good; — of consequence, God has a right to call us to account for our conduct in this first state, and will reward or punish, in a most extraordinary manner; as the principles and actions of man have been righteous; or, his life and character stained by unjust disposi∣tions and filthy deeds. This is plain to com∣mon reason. Every understanding must see this, how wrong soever they wilfully act. As God by his nature must abhor iniquity, and love what is honest, pure, and good; he must reward the piety and worthy beha∣viour Page 229of those, who act according to reason in this life, and with views beyond the bounds of time, endeavour to proceed each day to more exalted ideas of virtue: but, the mortals who deviate from rectitude and goodness, and wilfully live workers of ini∣quity, must expect that God, the Father of spirits, the Lover of truth, and the patron of righteousness and virtue, will proportion future punishments to present vices, and ba∣nish them to the regions of eternal darkness. From the natural lights of our understanding we have the highest reason to conclude this will be the case. The truths are as evident to a reflection, as that this world, and we who inhabit it, could not have had eternal existence, nor be first formed by any natural cause; but must have been originally produced, as we are now constantly preserved, by the supreme and universal Spirit. This is the excellent law of reason or nature. There is a light sufficient in every human breast, to conduct the soul to perfect day, if men will follow it right onwards, and not turn into the paths that lead to the dark night of hell.
Remarks on Azora's discourse.
Azora's religious notions amazed me, and the more, as they were uttered with a fluency and ease beyond any thing I had ever heard before. In the softest, sweetest voice, she expressed herself, and without the least ap∣pearance of labour, her ideas seemed to flow Page 230from a vast fountain. She was a master in∣deed in the doctrine of ideas. Her notion of them and their formation was just as pos∣sible; and in a few minutes she settled every thing relating to them. Her ideas of activity and passivity afforded me much instruction, as did her notions of space, matter, and spi∣rit: and what is still more extraordinary, she had a fine conception of an electrical fluid, which is thought to be a discovery made very lately, and made use of it to prove, not that it is the ultimate cause of effects, but that every thing is caused and directed by an immaterial spirit. An imma∣terial spirit was her favorite article, and it was to me a fine entertainment to hear her on that subject; from the one supreme Spirit down to the spirit of brute animals. — But to conclude our conversation on religion; I ob∣served to Azora, that if things were so, and the law of reason was so perfect and sufficient, then I could not see that there was any want at all of the religion of favor, since that of nature was enough to confirm us in rectitude and holiness, if we would obey its directions; and to shew us the way to the mansions of angels. Why the law of grace at so great an expence — if the rule of reason can make us good here, and for ever happy hereafter?Page 231
Azora's notion of the useful∣ness and excellence of christia∣nity.
Azora replied, that she had before an∣swered this question by observing, that ex∣cellent as the primary law of the creation was, yet, revelation was of the greatest use, as it enables us to extend our knowledge even as to the things which we are by na∣ture capable of knowing; and as it restored to the world the law of reason, that is, true religion, when superstition and enthusiasm had established false religion. This renders christianity glorious were there nothing more to be said for it: But this is not all we can say.
Azora's discourse on the use∣fulness of christia∣nity.
The best of mortals are weak, and the most of them are so fully employed about things temporal, that it is impossible so much good should proceed from mere human rea∣son as from a plain easy gospel, that deli∣neates duty in the most intelligible manner, and contains the absolute command of the great God, to renounce vicious habits, im∣pure desires, worldly tempers, and frame our souls to purity, sincerity, and devotion; as the only means that can secure his felicitating presence, and gain us admission to the de∣lightful seats of separate souls made perfect. In this the gospel is far preferable to reason.
Continua∣tion of A∣zora's dis∣course.
Beside, as wilful disobedience strikes at the being and government of God, and de∣votedness to the Lord of all the worlds, in trust and resignation, is the perfection of Page 232religion, the example of the Son of God in his humiliation, his cross, his death, make an instance of resignation so consummate and instructive, that we not only learn from it what reason cannot half so well instruct us in; I mean the amiableness of virtue, the excellency of holiness, and the merit of absolute and unreserved obedience; but, we are roused to an imitation of this grand character; both on account of its beauty, and the promise of our sitting down with Christ in his throne, if, according to our measure, we work all righteousness, and overcome our present temptations and trials, even as he also overcame, and is set down with his Father in his throne. Reason is no∣thing compared to this. The gospel-dispen∣sation by this means is fitted to render us virtuous, holy, and thoroughly good, in a method the law of nature could never do.
Continua∣tion of A∣zora's dis∣course on the excel∣lence of christia∣nity.
And more than this; when the God of heaven saw his creatures and children every where going wrong, without any help a∣mongst themselves, and therefore sent his Son to set them right; to set before them the unchangeable rule of everlasting righteous∣ness in its original purity and perfection, and not only explain and enforce it by the most powerful considerations, but apply the com∣mands of supreme reason to the government Page 233of the thoughts and passions of the heart; that duty and virtue in the principle and ha∣bit of universal rectitude towards both God and man, might be the practice of all the earth, and mankind become a people holy to the Lord; He, the Universal Father, the better to effect this blessed purpose, added two things to religion, which have a power that reason wants, to make us conform to God, and the eternal laws of righteous∣ness, in principle, temper and life. One is, Christ's appearing to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, by his becoming a sin-offering. The other is the assistance of the spirit of God. The oblation of the Son, and the grace of the Father, have effects in religion, in changing and sanctifying, that reason is an utter stran∣ger to.
Conclusion of Azora's discourse on the ex∣cellence of thé chri∣stian reli∣gion.
The sum of the whole is, the gospel, that word of truth and power, enters the hearts, and breaks the power of sin in the soul. The holy life of Christ sets us an example, that we should walk in his steps, and obey the will of the infinitely wise Creator; that, like him, we should accord by obedience with the harmony of God's moral government, and rather die than break or obstruct it by any wilful sin. And by his being a sin-offer∣ing, he not only put an end to all sin-offer∣ings, (which both Jews and Gentiles were Page 234wont to offer;) (19.) but, by his being the most precious one in the universe, shewed God's great displeasure against sin, and in his obedience to the Father, even unto death, that we ought to cease from evil, and by a righteous obedience render ourselves worthy of God the Father's love. That we may do so, we have the promise of the Spi∣rit to enable us to turn from sin and Satan to the living God, that by the acting principle of sanctification, wrought within us by the hand of him that made us, (without the least force on our will,) we may perfect our souls in purity and holiness, exercise acts of love and benevolence, and worship the one true God in and through the one true Media∣tor. —Reason alone, excellent as it is, can∣not produce any thing like this.
The religion of favour in these respects surpasses the law of nature. By the first law of the creation, reason, we may acquire that Page 235righteousness, which is an habitual rectitude of soul, and right actions flowing from it: but sanctification, that influencing principle, which adds holiness to righteousness, belongs, as I take it, to the law of grace It is given to those who ask it, not for the sake of, but through Christ.
Objections to Azora's discourse.
All this (I answered) is just and fine, and I have only to request, for my farther in∣struction, that you will be pleased, madam, to explain yourself a little more on the ar∣ticles of a sin-offering and grace; for I have always thought there was a darkness sat upon these parts of reveled religion, and have often wished for what I have not yet found, a head capable of giving me intire satisfaction on those points: but from what I have heard you say, I must now suppose that all my doubts, relative to the two subjects, you have the power to remove. — My power (A∣zora returned) is no more than a plain un∣derstanding, that in this still and peaceful re∣gion, has been at liberty to think, without being corrupted by sophistry, school-nonsense, or authority; and, as to giving satisfaction on the heads you mention, or any other, it is not what I pretend to: but my opinion you shall have since you ask it; and in the following manner Azora proceeded.
Azora's ac∣count of Christ be∣ing a sin-offering.
As to our Lord's becoming a sin-offering, I conceive, in the first place, that God or∣dained Page 236it, because he saw it needful, and ne∣cessary to answer many and great ends. It must be right, and what in the reason and nature of things ought to be, though we were not able to comprehend the reasons that made it needful. It must have been the pro∣perest way to make up the breach between heaven and earth, since infinite wisdom ap∣pointed it.
In the next place, as the death of this great person not only gave the highest attestation to the truth of his doctrine, and confirmed every word he had preached; to the encourage∣ment of sinners to repent, and the great con∣solation of saints; but has afforded us such a noble pattern of obedience, as must have an influence on intelligent beings, and excite them to practise obedience to all the com∣mands of God, and perfect resignation to his will in every case; which are some excellent reasons for Christ's dying; so did Almighty God make this farther use of it, that he ap∣pointed the blood of Christ (which was shed to produce the essence of sanctification in the soul, to wit, devotedness, trust, and re∣signation to the Almighty Father of the uni∣verse; to be the blood of anew covenant, shed for many for the remission of sins. This seems to me to take in the whole case. Christ by obe∣dience to the death (which happened in the natural course of things) is held out to the Page 237world a pattern of self-sacrifice in the cause of truth and virtue — a sample of that perfect religion — not my will, but thine be done: the glorious gospel is thereby confirmed: and our redemption is effected by the blood of the Son of God. As Moses, the Mediator between God and Israel, repeated to the people the laws and judgments of God, and received their consent to the divine commands; en∣tered this covenant in his book, offered sa∣crifices of praise and friendship, and then confirmed the covenant in the most solemn manner, by dividing the blood of the sacri∣fices into parts; one part of which he sprink∣led on the altar, to ratify God's part of the covenant: and with the other part sprinkled the people, that is, the twelve princes, the heads, or the twelve pillars, which repre∣sented the twelve tribes, and then awfully cried out with a strong voice — Behold the blood of the covenant Jehovah has made with you: so did the Lord Jesus Christ, the Me∣diator between God and all mankind, teach the people by his gospel to rectify their notions, to regulate their affections, to direct their worship; with the judgments that were to be the consequence of disobedience, the rewards prepared for those who obey; and then de∣clared, in relation to his death, This is my blood of the new covenant. The blood I must shed on the cross will seal, ratify, and con∣firm Page 238a pardoning covenant, and by virtue thereof, upon repentance and conversion, the world is washed clean through the blood of the Lamb. This, I think for myself, renders the thing very plain and easy. The death of the Son of God was taken into the plan of redemption, not to pacify God's anger; for God could be no otherwise pleased or delight∣ed with the blood of his Son, than as his shed∣ding it was an act of the highest obedience, and a noble pattern to all the rational crea∣tion; but his blood was made the seal of a pardoning and justifying covenant; and by the death of Christ, (the most powerful means to prevent sin, and to draw sinners to obey the commands of heaven,) God de∣monstrated his love and mercy to mankind. I fancy I am clear. In this view of the mat∣ter, I can see no difficulty in being justified freely by the grace of God, thro' the redemp∣tion which is in Christ Jesus. God is the sole original and fountain of redemption. The Son, and his gospel are the great instru∣ments. Lo! I come to do thy will, O my God, the Son declares: and the Blood he shed, the better to bring the human race to wisdom, rectitude and happiness, is appointed by our merciful, good, and gracious Father, to be the seal and ratifcation of a new cove∣nant. Moloch might want a cruel and bloody sacrifice to pacify him; but the Father of Page 239the universe sent his Christ to deliver his commands, and made the death, which he foresaw would happen by his Son's delivering such commands to impious men, to be a co∣venant between Jehovah and the people, that Jesus should be considered as a propitiation for our sins, and his death be an eternal me∣morial of the Almighty's love, and abhor∣rence of iniquity. There can no objection lie against this. To me this appears the most rational and beautiful scheme that infinite wisdom could contrive. Most glorious and good is our God. Most happy may mortals be, if they please. The virtuous obedience of our Lord hath obtained from God a right and power to abolish death. His blood hath confirmed the covenant of grace, and his gospel hath brought life immortal into light.
Azora's account of grace.
As to the influence of the spirit, (Azora continued) that there is such a living prin∣ciple in the human soul, cannot I think be denied, if revelation is to be believed; but the mode of influencing is not perhaps to be explained otherwise than by saying, that our gracious and good Father makes now and then some friendly impressions upon our minds, and by representing in several lights the terrors and promises of the gospel, ex∣cites our hopes and fears. As I apprehend, we can go very little further. It is easy I think to prove from the scriptures, that as Page 240the extraordinary assistance of the Holy Ghost was necessary for planting christianity at first; so is a supernatural assistance of the Holy Ghost, tho' not in so illustrious a manner, still necessary to enable us to per∣form the conditions of the gospel. Tho' God has recalled the more visible signs of his pre∣sence, yet to be sure he continues to influence some way or other. I cannot suppose the Holy Ghost has wholly withdrawn himself from the church. The renewing of the Holy Ghost (St. Peter says) was a promise made to them and to their children, and to those that were afar off, even as many as God should call; and as human nature has the same weakness and passions, and extravagancies of former ages, there is as much need of a divine assistance now as in the time of the apostles: nay more need, I think, at present, as miracles are ceased. There must be a weight of superna∣tural power to press within, as there are now no flashings from the sky, or extraordinary appearances without, to prove the certainty of our religion, and make us consider its promises, threatenings, and rules: but the way this supernatural principle acts, as before observed, is hard to determine, any more than what I have said, and instead of wast∣ing our time in enquiries how the thing is done, our business is to render ourselves ca∣pable of so great a blessing, by not grieving Page 241this holy spirit, lest he depart from us; and resolving with the psalmist, to walk with a perfect heart, and to set no wicked thing be∣fore our eyes. We must strive to improve religious thoughts: we must labour hard to obey the written rules: God will then give us the grace sufficient for us. To our con∣siderable talent of natural power to do good, our Father will add the advantages of his his spirit. If we desire to be good, he will make us good in conjunction with our own application and pains; by a gradual process, and human methods. If nature gives her utmost actings, the author of nature will move, and direct and assist her where she is weak. Both the grace and the providence of God may be likened to a little spring concealed within a great machine: to the known given powers of the machine, the operations of it are ascribed, and all its events imputed; yet it is the small secreted spring that directs, draws, checks, and gives move∣ment to every weight and wheel. The case cannot be exactly alike, as a compound of matter and spirit is different from a machine: but it may suggest I imagine some imperfect idea of the affair: a very imperfect one, I confess, for if we were thinking ever so long of the matter, grace after all would be what the apostle calls it, an unspeakable gift — A gift surmounting our apprehensions as well as Page 242it does our merit. The theory of it may be perhaps too excellent for us, and our part is, not to determine how, but with honest hearts to pray, that a ray from heaven may open, and shine upon our understanding, clear it from prejudices and impostures, and render it teachable, considerative and firm; may inspire good thoughts, excite good pur∣poses, and suggest wholesome counsels and expedients. This the divine power may easily do, without depriving us of free∣will, or lessening our own moral agency. That power may extinguish an imagination we strive to get rid of: may remove an im∣pediment we labour to be freed from: may foil a temptation we do our best to resist. If we do all we can, and implore the divine aid, there is no doubt but the Almighty may give his free creatures such powers and dispositions, as will carry them innocently and safely thro' the trial of this first state. On such conditions, God, the Father of spirits, the friend of men, the patron of righteousness and all virtue, will, without all peradven∣ture, distribute his grace to every mortal in proportion to the measures of necessary duty.
A reflec∣tion on A∣zora's dis∣course.
Here Azora ended, and I sat for some mi∣nutes after in great admiration. Her fancy furnished ideas so very fast, and speaking was so very easy to her, without one pang in Page 243the delivery, or the least hesitation for hours, as she could, if she pleased, so long discourse; her judgment was so strong, and her words so proper and well placed, that she appeared to me a prodigy in speaking, and I could have listened to her with delight and amaze∣ment the whole night. But exactly at ten o'clock, the old woman I mentioned before, who first bid me welcome to Burcot Lodge, came into the chamber with candles, and Azora told me, * that if I would follow Gla∣duse, she would light me to bed. I did im∣mediately, after wishing the ladies good night, and my guide brought me to her own cottage, which was next door to the grotto. She shewed me into a small clean room, neatly and prettily furnished, and there I found a good bed. Down I lay as soon as I could, being much fatigued, and as the sun was rising, got up again, to write what I could remember to have heard Azora say. My memory from my childhood has been very extraordinary. I believe there are few living exceed me in this respect. The great∣est part of what I read and hear, remains with me, as if the book was still before me, or the speaker going on. This enables me to write down, with much exactness, what I care to note, and I can do it for the most part in the relater's or talker's own words, if I minute it in my short hand within twenty∣four Page 244hours after reading or discoursing. Upon this account, I can say, that I lost very little of all that Azora was pleased to let me hear; or, of the discourses I had with her ingeni∣ous companion, Antonia Fletcher.
The gar∣dens of Burcot Lodge.
When I had done writing, I went out to wait upon the ladies, and found them in their fine gardens, busily employed in the useful and innocent diversion which the cul∣tivation of some of the greatest beauties of the creation affords. They had every kind of fruit tree in their ground, every plant and flower that grows, and such a variety of ex∣otic rarities from the hotter climates, as en∣gaged my admiration, and finely entertained me for many an hour, during my stay in this place. They both understood gardening to perfection, and continually lent their help∣ing hands to the propagation of every thing. The digging and laborious work was per∣formed by many young women, who did it with great activity and understanding, and the nicer parts these ladies executed. I was astonished and delighted with their opera∣tions of various kinds. It was beautiful to see with what exquisite skill they used the knife, managed graffs and cyons, directed the branches and twigs in posture on espa∣liers, and raised flowers. They had every thing in perfection in their kitchen garden and physic garden. Their fruits, roots, and Page 245herbs for the table, were most excellent: their collection of herbs for medicine the most valuable: and as the whole contrivance of the gardens was near nature, and beauti∣ful in grass, gravel, and variety of ever∣greens, I was led with delight thro' the whole, till I came into the green-house. There I saw Azora and Antonia at work, and paid them the compliments they deserved.
A further account of Azora.
Immediately after my arrival, breakfast was brought in there, chocolate and toasts, and the ladies were extremely pleasant over it. They asked me a great many questions about the world, and were so facetious in their remarks, and pleased with my odd ac∣count of things, that they laughed as hear∣tily as I did, and that was at no small rate. This being done, we walked over every part of the gardens, and Azora did me the ho∣nour not only to shew me all the curiosities, and improvements she had made, in the ma∣nagement of seeds, flowers, plants, and trees; but, lectured on various fine objects that appeared in our way, with a volubility of tongue, and a knowledge of the sub∣jects, that was amazing indeed. Were I to set down what she said even on sallads, cucumbers, colliflowers, melons, asparagus, early cabbages, strawberries, rasberries, cur∣rants, goosberries, apples, pears, plums, cherries, apricots, etc, and especially, her propagation of mushrooms, champignons, Page 246and buttons; this, exclusive of exotics and flowers, would make I believe an octavo: and in relation to exotics and flowers, I am sure she talked twice as much, and of every thing extremely well. I never did hear any thing like her. The discourse cost her no more than the breath of her nostrils.
But at last we came to a fish-pond, that was an acre of water, and I assure you, rea∣der, that in half an hour's time, the illustrious Azora not only talked more of fish and ponds than the ingenious and honourable Roger North, of Rougham in Norfolk, hath writ∣ten on these subjects in his excellent discourse, printed in 1713; but, mentioned many use∣ful things relative to them, which Mr. North was a stranger to. She told me, among other matters, that there was only pike and perch in her pond, and that the reason of it was, because she loved pike above all fish, and as the jacks were fish of prey, no fish but the perch could live with them: The perch on account of the thorny fins on its back, escapes the pike's voracious appetite. She farther informed me, that the jacks in her pond were the finest in the world, as I would see at dinner, and that the reason of it was owing to the high feeding she took care they had every day: beside the entrails of what fowl and sheep her people killed for her ta∣ble and themselves, the pike had blood and Page 247bran mixed in plenty, and all the frogs she could get from a neighbouring fen; for of them the jacks are most fond. This made the fish extraordinary: and as the water was current thro' the pond, and the bottom of various depths from one foot, and two feet, to six feet, that the spawn may have shallow water to lie in, and the fry shallow water to swim in, as they both required, this was the reason, that one acre of water in such a man∣ner, produced double the quantity of fish to what a pond of still water, and a bottom all of one depth, could have. See (Azora con∣tinued) what multitudes there are. They know me, as I feed them myself every day, and tamely come up, cruel tyrants as they are, to get their meat. Here she called jack, jack, and throwing in a basket of unfortunate frogs, it was wonderful to see how those de∣vouring monsters appeared, and voraciously swallowed the poor things.
An account of the pub∣lic worship at Burcot-Lodge.
Azora was going to proceed to another pond of carp and tench, which she had at the other end of her gardens, and let me know how that was ordered, so as to pro∣duce the largest and finest fish: but a bell rung for morning prayers, at ten o'clock, and she immediately turned towards a chapel. She asked me if I would attend divine ser∣vice, and upon my answering, with pleasure, desired me to come on. In the church I Page 248saw every soul of the community assembled, and while I chose to sit on one of the benches among the people, at some distance, that I might the better observe every thing done, the ladies ascended by a few steps into a read∣ing desk, and Azora began with great devo∣tion, to pray in the following manner:
O Christ, our blessed mediator, pray for us that our faith fail not, and thro' thy me∣rits and intercession, Lord Jesus, let our prayer be set forth in the sight of Almighty God as incense, and the lifting up of our hands as a morning sacrifice.
Almighty and everlasting God, thou pure and infinite Spirit, who art the great cause and author of nature, and hast established the world by thy wisdom, and stretched out the heavens by thy discretion; upon whom depends the existence of all things, and by whose providence we have been preserved to this moment, and enjoyed many blessings and undeserved advantages; graciously ac∣cept, we beseech thee, our grateful sense and acknowledgements of all thy beneficence to∣wards us; accept, O Lord, our most hearty and unfeigned thanks for all the instances of thy favor which we have experienced; that we have the use of our reason and un∣derstanding, in which many fail, and have had refreshing sleep and quiet the past night; for delivering us from evil, and giving us our Page 249daily bread;—for all the necessaries, conve∣niencies, and comforts, which thy liberal hand hast provided for us, to sweeten human life, and render it more agreeable than other∣wise it could be in this day of our exercise, probation and trial. While we live, we will praise and magnify thy awful name, and join in ascribing with the glorious and innumera∣ble heavenly host, honour, power, and thanksgiving to the eternal God, who sits on the throne of supremacy unrivalled in ma∣jesty and power.
But especially, O great and blessed God, adored be thy goodness for so loving the world, as to give thy only begotten Son, to the end, that all who believe in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life; for his humbling himself even to the death upon the cross, and shedding his blood for the remission of our sins. Great and marvellous are thy works of mercy, O Lord God Almighty! who can utter all thy praise? Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, small and great. Amen; allelujah. Blessing and honour, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever.
O God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us dust and sin, weakness and imperfection, and enter not into strict judgment with us, thine un∣righteous Page 250and unworthy servants. We con∣fess with shame and grief, that we have vio∣lated thine holy laws, and abused thy tender mercies: that we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts, and in numberless instances have offended against a most righteous governor, a most tender and compassionate Father, and a most kind and bounteous benefactor. In thought, word, and deed, many have been our of∣fences: and many are still our imperfections. We have sinned against Heaven, and before thee, and have thereby deserved thy just dis∣pleasure. But our hope and confidence is in thine infinite mercy, O God, and that ac∣cording to thy promises declared unto man∣kind in Christ Jesus, our Lord, thou wilt spare them who confess their faults, and restore them that are penitent. We do ear∣nestly repent, and are heartily sorry for all our misdoings. Thro' faith we offer up the Lamb that was slain to the eternal God for the redemption of our souls; believing the worthiness of our Lord Jesus Christ to be a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and atonement for the sins of a repenting world, and therefore resolving, with all our strength, to imitate his spotless virtue, and perfect obedience. Pardon us, then, we beseech thee, and blot out our iniquities. Deliver us, we pray, in the name of the Page 251Lord Jesus, from the evil consequences of all our transgressions and follies, and give us such powers and dispositions as will carry us innocently and safely thro' all future trials.
Create in us, O God, pure hearts, and re∣new right spirits within us. Cast thy bright beams of light upon our souls, and irradiate our understandings with the rays of that wis∣dom which sitteth on the right hand of thy throne. Let thy holy spirit enable us to act up to the dignity of our reasonable nature, and suitably to the high character, and glo∣rious hopes of christians: that we may sub∣ordinate the affairs and transactions of time to serve the interest of our souls in eternity: that we may shake off this vain world, and breathe after immortality and glory: that we may live in perfect reconciliation with the law of everlasting righteousness, truth, and goodness; and so comply with thy nature, mind, and will, O eternal and sovereign spi∣rit, thou God most wonderful in all perfec∣tions, that we may fully answer the relation we stand in to thee. Relieve and ease our consciences, O blessed God, by the blood of sprinkling, according to our several condi∣tions of body and mind; and supply us with suitable grace and strength.
We beseech thee, in the next place, Al∣mighty Lord, to take us into thy protection this day, and suffer no Being to injure us, no mis∣fotune Page 252to befal us, nor us to hurt ourselves by any error or misconduct of our own. Give us, O God, a clear conception of things, and in all dangers and distresses, stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty to help and de∣fend us. From sickness and pain, and from all evil and mischief, good Lord deliver us this day, and be propitious unto us, we be∣seech thee.
And while we remain in this world, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, secure us from every thing that is terrible and hurtful, and keep us in peace and safety. From all sad accidents and calamitous events, from all tormenting pains and grievous diseases, good Lord deliver us; and bless us with so much health and prosperity, as will enable us to pass our time here in contentment and tranquil∣lity.
And when the time of our dissolution cometh, by the appointment of thy adorable wisdom, O Father of mercies and the God of all comforts, grant us a decent and happy exit; without distraction of mind or tor∣ments of body: let thy servants depart in peace, and suddenly die in the Lord.
We pray, likewise, for the happiness of all mankind: that they may all know, and obey, and worship thee, O Father, in spirit and in truth, and that all who name the name of Christ, may depart from iniquity, Page 253and live as becomes his holy gospel. We be∣seech thee to help and comfort all who are in danger, necessity, sickness, and tribula∣tion: that it may please thee to sanctify their afflictions, and in thy good time to deliver them out of all their distresses. If we have any enemies, O Lord forgive them, and turn their hearts.
Our Father, etc.
When this extraordinary prayer was done, (which was prayed with a very uncommon devotion, such as I never had seen before) they all stood up, and Azora said, Let us sing the nineteenth psalm to the praise and glory of the most high God, and immediately raised it. Then all the people joined, and a psalm was sung to perfection indeed. Azora and Antonia had delightful voices, and as they understood music very well, they had taught this congregation so much church har∣mony, as enabled them to perform beyond any thing I have ever heard in any assembly of people.—The whole scene was a strange and pleasing thing. They met again at four in the afternoon; and this is the work of their every day. At ten and four they go to prayers, and after it sing a psalm; conclude∣ing always in the following way.—May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ procure us the love of God, that the Almighty Father of Page 254the universe may bless us with the heavenly assistance of the Holy Ghost.
As to the evening-office of devotion at this place, it was, exclusive of the first ad∣dress, and the concluding Lord's Prayer, quite different from that of the morning; and because some readers may be pleased with a sight of another of Azora's religious com∣positions, I here set it down.
Evening prayer at Burcot Lodge.
O Christ, our blessed mediator, pray for us, that our faith fail not, and through thy merits and intercession, Lord Jesus, let our prayer be set forth in the sight of Almighty God as incense, and the lifting up of our hands as an evening-sacrifice.
O God, who art the Father and Lord of all Beings, and the eternal and inexhaustible fountain of mercy, we beseech thee to be merciful unto us, and to blot out all our transgressions; for we truly repent of our wilful imperfections, our failings and ne∣glects, in every instance of thy law, and our duty: and thro' faith we offer up to thee the Lamb that was slain for the redemption of our souls; believing the worthiness of our Lord Jesus to be a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and atonement for the sins of a repenting world, and therefore resolving, with all our strength, to imitate his spotless virtue and perfect obedience.Page 255
Remember not, then, O Lord, our ini∣quities, neither take thou vengeance for our sins; but as we sincerely believe thy holy gos∣pel, and are truly penitent, as we intirely and willingly forgive all, who have, in any instance or in any degree, offended, or in∣jured us, and are truly disposed and ready to make all possible reparation, if we have in∣jured any one, have mercy upon us miserable sinners, and as thou hast promised by thy Son, pardon and forgive us all our sins, and restore us again to thy favor. Hear in hea∣ven, thy dwelling place, and when thou hearest, accept us to thy mercy. O spare us whom thou hast redeemed by thy Son's most precious blood, and make us partakers of that salvation which thou hast appointed in Christ Jesus our Lord, and our souls shall bless thee to eternity.
And that we may no more offend thee, or transgress the rule of virtue or true reli∣gion, but may hereafter truly please thee both in will and deed, and faithfully observe the right statutes, and all thy precepts, en∣due us, O Lord, with the grace of thy holy spirit, that we may amend our lives accord∣ing to thy holy word. Vouchsafe we be∣seech thee, to direct, sanctify and govern both our hearts and bodies in the ways of thy laws, and in the works of thy command∣ments; and so teach us to number our days, Page 256that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom, and mind those things which are in conjunc∣tion with our everlasting welfare.—O let us be always under thy communication and influence, and give that light to our minds, that life to our souls, that will raise us to a nearer resemblance of thee, and enable us to ascend still higher, towards the perfection of our nature. Let us be transformed by the working of thy grace and spirit into the image of thy Son. Conform us to his like∣ness, O blessed God, and make us, body and soul, an habitation for thyself; that in our hearts we may continually offer up to thee, holy, sublime, and spiritual sacrifices.
From all evil and mischief, good God de∣liver us, and defend us, we beseech thee, from every thing terrible and hurtful. Take us under thy protection the remaining part of this day, and grant us a night of peace, thro' Jesus Christ our Lord.
And forasmuch as our earthly house of this tabernacle shall be dissolved, and that in a few years at farthest, it may be in a few minutes, we must descend to the bed of darkness, and acknowledge corruption to be our father, and the worms our sister and mo∣ther, grant, O everlasting God, that we may depart in peace, and by an improved princi∣ciple of divine life, under the influence of the gospel, be translated to that eternal world, Page 257where God dwells, where Christ lives, and sanctified souls enjoy endless life and the pu∣rest pleasures, for evermore.
That it may please thee, most gracious and good God, to have mercy on the whole race of mankind, and to bless them with all things pertaining to life and godliness: let the light of thy glorious gospel shine upon the nations darkened by superstition, that they may worship thee who art God from ever∣lasting to everlasting, and cultivate and esta∣blish in their minds the most pure, benevo∣lent, and godlike dispositions.—We be∣seech thee for all christian churches; that their behaviour may, by the influence of thy blessed spirit, be suitable to their holy pro∣fession, and their conversation upright and unblameable. Where any have departed from the purity and simplicity of the gospel, lead them, O God, to the right practice and knowledge of their holy religion; and grant that they may feel the comfortable and sanc∣tifying effects of it; and in their lives shew forth its praise to others.—We farther pray, most merciful Father, for all that are desti∣tute or afflicted, either in body, mind, or estate; that from Heaven, the habitation of thy glory and goodness, thou mayest send them relief, and, if it be possible, put an end to their present calamities and troubles. O thou Father of mercies, and God of all Page 258consolation, bind up the broken in heart, and comfort those that mourn. We have a real sense of the miseries of the distressed part of mankind, and offer up for them our prayers to thee, thro' Jesus Christ our Lord.
O God, the author of all good, and foun∣tain of all happiness, we offer up our thanks∣givings and praises unto thee, for thy great goodness to us, and to all mankind. We praise and magnify thy holy name for all thy mercies; for our existence, and the use of our reasoning powers and faculties; for the health and strength we enjoy, and for all the comforts and conveniencies of life: for these thy gifts we adore thee, O munificent parent of good, and pray that a deep and efficacious sense of thy goodness may remain upon our hearts, and be a principle of constant and chearful obedience to thy holy laws.
But especially we offer up the acknow∣ledgements of our hearts and mouths for all that thy Son Jesus Christ did, and taught, and suffered, in this world, to save us from our sins, and to conduct us to true and ever∣lasting happiness. We bless thee for the glo∣rious gospel, and for bringing us more effec∣tually, by revelation, to the knowledge of thee, and the practice of our duty. For Page 259this merciful appointment, and for all thy mercies, which respect another and a better life than the present; for every instance of thy tender regards to us, and for the mani∣fold experiences which we have had of thy loving kindness; we offer up the tribute of unfeigned thanks. Our souls do magnify thee, O Lord God most excellent and good, and all the powers within us praise thy holy name. To thee be glory in the church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. To thee, O thou God of love, be rendered by all beings endued with rea∣son, all honour and obedience, both now, and for ever.
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast promised to hear the petitions of them that pray unto thee in thy Son's name, we beseech thee of thy great mercy, to accept the sacri∣fice of prayer and praise, which we have this evening offered up to thy Divine Majesty; and for the relief of our wants, and the ma∣nifestation of thy power and glory, grant us those things which we have requested, if thou seest it consistent with our chief and eternal good. In the name of thy Son Jesus Christ, and as his disciples, we pray, and in his words conclude the services of this day.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, etc.
After this, they all stood up, and as in the morning, Azora said, let us sing to the Page 260praise and glory of God the 148th psalm. She sung the first verse alone, and at the se∣cond, they all joined, and went through the whole in a fine and heavenly manner. Then the service concluded with this benediction.
May the God of grace and peace be with us and bless us. May his holy spirit keep us from falling, and preserve us blameless, unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
A reflection on the reli∣gion and piety of the inhabitants of Burcot-Hamlet.
Thus ended the evening and morning of∣fices of worship at Burcot-Lodge, and as I cannot sufficiently praise, so I could not enough admire the religion and piety of this congregation. The purity of their worship was charming: and in the ladies and their people a devotion was manifest, that looked more like that of heavenly spirits, than of beings in an animal frame; who are warped with the customs of the world, and perplexed with difficulties which arise from sensible objects. They appeared in high admiration of God, endeared to his righteous govern∣ment, devoted to his holy laws, and power∣fully drawn to imitate him in all his imitable perfections. Not one idle word, or careless look, did I hear or see, dur∣ing the whole time of divine service; but, Page 261like creatures fixed unchangeably in the in∣terest of religion and virtue, and delighted with the joys of piety, their hearts melted in every part of their devotions, and their breasts were filled with the most grateful, transporting adorations and affections. So much beautiful religion I had not often seen in any assembly. They had a true sense in∣deed of the love and goodness of God, and of the grace and charity of Jesus Christ. They had all been carefully instructed by a wise and excellent man, who was not long since removed from them by death; and his daughter, the admirable Azora, in conjunction with his niece, the amiable Antonia, took all possible pains, since the decease of Mr. Burcot, to maintain the power of religion in their com∣munity, and keep the people hearty and steady in the principles and practice of it. This brings me again to the history of A∣zora.
Continua∣tion of the history of Azora.
Azora Burcot was the daughter of a gen∣tleman who was one possessed of a very great fortune, but by a fatal passion for the grand operation, and an opinion of the pos∣sibility of finding the philosopher's stone, he wasted immense sums in operations to dis∣cover that preparation, which forces the faeces of infused metals to retire immediately on its approach, and so turns the rest of the mass into pure gold; communicating the mallea∣bility Page 262and great ductility of that metal, and giving it true specific gravity, that is, to wa∣ter, as eighteen and one half is to one. His love of that fine, antient art, called chi∣mistry, brought him into this misfortune. For improvement and pleasure, he had been long engaged in various experiments, and at last, an adept came to his house, who was a man of great skill in the labours and operations of spagyrists, and persuaded him it was possible to find the stone; for he, the adept, had seen it with a brother, who had been so fortunate as to discover it, after much labor and operation. The colour of it was a pale brimstone and transparent, and the size that of a small walnut. He affirmed that he had seen a little of this, scraped into powder, cast into some melted lead, and turn it into the best and finest gold. This had the effect the adept desired, and from chymistry brought Mr. Burcot to Alchimy. Heaps of money he wasted in operations of the most noble elixir by mineral and salt; but the stone after all he could not find: and then, by the adept's advice, he proceeded in a second method, by maturation, to sub∣tilize, purify, and digest quicksilver, and thereby convert it into gold (20.) This like∣wise Page 263wise came to nothing, and instead of the gold he expected, he had only heaps of Mercury fixed with verdegrease, (which Page 264gives it a yellow tinge), and more deeply co∣loured with turmeric. Gold it seemed, but, on trial in the coppel, it flew away in fumes Page 265and the adept made off. Too late this good and learned man saw he had been imposed on, and that the Spagyrists are what Dr. Dickenson calls them Enigmatistinubivagi.
Chymistry, reader, is a fine and antient art. The analysing of sensible bodies by fire, to discover their real powers and virtues, is highly praise-worthy, and the surprising ex∣periments we make, fill the mind of an in∣quirer after truth, with the greatest venera∣tion for the wonderful author of nature: but more than this is a sad romance that ends in empty pockets. Never think then of the hermetical banquet, Glauber's golden ass, or the philosopher's magical gold. By the law of honest industry, endeavour to be rich if you can, for this sole reason, that it is more bles∣sed to give than to receive; and if that lies not within your capacity, or means, be con∣tent with peace and little. There is more true happiness in daily bread and the posses∣sion of the divine and social virtues, than in Page 266tons of gold without holiness and a strong attachment to virtue.
When Mr. Burcot found he had almost ruined himself, and that he was no longer able to live as he had done, he laid his me∣lancholy case before his daughter Azora, and asked her advice, What he should do? To retire immediately, (Azora said) to this part of Stanemore, which was an unvalued part of his estate, and bring as many of his te∣nants as he could persuade to inhabit this fine tract of land: — to sell what remained of his fortune, and with the money procure as many of the necessaries or comforts of liv∣ing as could be had: to get in particular some young tradesmen and their wives by offered rewards in this place; to build cottages for the people; and render the fine caverns in the rock as habitable and pleasing for them∣selves as art could render them. Here, (A∣zora told her father) we shall live more hap∣py than we could do, if still possessed of a fortune to make an appearance in the world. We shall enjoy by industry and prudence every good thing that rational life can re∣quire, and live secured from the strokes of fortune, and the world's contempt. Stran∣gers to vanity and the pleasures of high life, in this delightful retreat, we shall pass our hap∣py Page 267days as in a region of goodness, know∣ledge, and joy; and the predominant bent of our hearts will be to wisdom, and virtue, and to ascend into the realms of perfect day. — Happy advice, (the father of Azora said), and the thing was immediately done. A colony was quickly established here, and every thing was settled and ordered in the most advantageous manner. Cattle, instru∣ments, and grain to sow the land were sent in; cloaths and every material the little republic could want were provided, and every hand was as useful as we could wish. For four years (Azora continued to inform me), we lived in peace and tranquillity, and never once regretted the loss of our fortunes. We were happier far than when we had thou∣sands. Industry, knowledge, and religion, were our employment. The night to come of pain and death gave us no uneasiness. We lived as the christians of the two first centu∣ries, and rather longed for than feared that event, which is to remove us to growing brightness for ever and ever. But a fever came in among us, and swept away my fa∣ther, and every man of our little republic: several women likewise perished; but a hun∣dred souls remained. Ninety-eight women, besides Antonia and Azora. These loved me too well (Azora continued) to abandon me; and as they were happily situated, and many of them had learned their husband's Page 268trades, they agreed and swore to spend their lives with me here, and be as serviceable as possible, without admitting any men to live among us. They are so in the highest degree: they are all useful and pious as I could wish them, and under the heavens there is not a happier society of mortal. We have the best of every thing: all we want, and in reason could wish for.
A farther account of Azora
Here Azora ended her relation, and I wondered greatly at what I heard; nor did my admiration lessen when I saw how she governed this community, and they em∣ployed their time. Her great understanding enlightened and directed them, in the exe∣cution of every thing serviceable and inge∣nious; and she lived before their eyes an ex∣ample of the greatest industry, and the most exalted piety. They, on the other hand, were as useful and religious as possible, and so heartily and faithfully discharged social duties, in every instance, that they seemed as one great capacity and power at work, to promote every convenience and good. Some of them, as I have said, were at work in the gardens: others in the fields: various trades and occupations were going on within doors and without, and all were employed in ways that best subserved the general welfare. In their behaviour, there was nothing wild, in∣solent, or arch, to be seen: no swellings of vanity and pride: no passion to disoblige: no Page 269intention to offend: but, every one, discreet and calm; good-humoured, and very civil; worthily sustaining their various relations, and each attentive to her own incumbent duty. Their labours were but a diversion to them, and they lived in tranquillity and plenty. Their cloathing was coarse, but very good, clean, and handsome. There was not one ragged or dirty person among them; nor any with bad shoes and stockings. In all respects, they seemed a most happy com∣munity. Azora studied, to the utmost de∣gree, the advantage and happiness of these people: and they, in return, made their duty a vigorous and chearful service. Most of the conveniences and comforts of life they had within their own lit∣tle territory; flesh and fish, mutton, kid, and venison; corn for bread, every vege∣table; malt-drink, meath, and cyder; all in great plenty, and most excellent; wool and flax for clothing; good candles; and wood enough for firing. What things they wanted two of them rid for to the nearest town, and not only purchased such goods with the mo∣ney they got by sale of several commodities; especially knit thread stockings and gloves; but always at such times brought in some cash to their mistress, and she gave part of it among the people, to buy them little things they fansied.
Ten ex∣traordinary country girls.
Page 270As to the ten young women I mentioned, who walked after Azora when first I saw her, they were the daughters of some wi∣dows in this little republic, and by her chosen, not only to be her attendants and upper servants, and to look after her dairy, her bees, her poultry; and her aviary; (which was the finest I have ever seen, for the variety of birds, and as it was turfed, to avoid the appearance of foulness on the floor, and so large as to give the birds some freedom of flight); but, on account of their good un∣derstanding, in which they far excelled their fellows. These girls were carefully instruct∣ed by Azora and Antonia, and beside being taught the fine works of the needle, learned musick, and the elements of the mathema∣ticks from the ladies. The eldest of these girls was but twenty, and the youngest eigh∣teen, and they all surprized me very greatly with their quickness in answering very hard arithmetical questions. They could not only add, subtract, multiply, divide, find a fourth proportional, and extract roots of every kind, with exactness and readiness, and apply them upon all common occasions; but, were per∣fect in fractions vulgar and decimal. They had even gone as far in algebra as the reso∣lution of simple equations.
Page 271Finding them one morning at figures, I asked the youngest of them, What was the number, that ⅔ of it with 4 over, amounted to the same as 7/12 of it with 9 over? She immediately translated the question from common language into algebra 2x/3 + 4 = 7x/12 + 9: and quickly discovered the unknown quantity x to be x=60: Then she took it in sinthetically, ⅔ of 60 = 40 + 4 = 44: 7/12 of 60 = 35 + 9 = 44. — (Sinthetically is tracing property from number: —Analetically is tracing number from property.) This made me wonder very greatly. I asked another of them, if she bought 20 loaves for 16 pence, all of them two-penny, penny, and farthing ones — how many would she have of each? She answered 5 two-penny loaves, 3 penny ones, and 12 farthing loaves; for the equations were x + y + z = 20 and 8x + 4y = z = 64. From whence by subtraction, 7x + 3y = 44, and of consequence, y = 44 − 7x/3 = 14 − 2x + 2 − x / 3;
I asked a third, how many ways she could pay 20 l. in pistoles, guineas, and moidores, at 17 s. 21 s, and 27 s. the pistole, the guinea, and the moidore? — She replied in a very little time, 9 ways, to wit, 11 pistoles, 5 gui∣neas, and 4 moidores — 8 pistoles, 1 guinea, 9 moidores— 8 pistoles, 10 guineas, 2 moi∣dores — 17 pistoles, 4 guineas, 1 moidore — 2 pistoles, 2 guineas, 12 moidores — 2 pistoles, Page 27211 guineas, 5 moidores — 5 pistoles, 6 guineas, 7 moidores — 5, 15, 0 — and 14 pistoles, 0 guineas, 6 moidores. This was a hard opera∣tion.
I asked another of these young women, if her lady gave her 297 guineas and 339 pistoles, to pay 6 men a hundred pounds a-piece in gui∣neas and pistoles only, as was agreed, how could she contrive to pay them, and dispatch the thing? I will tell you, sir, (she answered) very soon. x represents my guineas, and y my pistoles, and 21x + 17y = 2000, of conse∣quence, x = 2000 − 17y/21 = 95 + 5 − 17y/21; etc. and quickly discovered, that the first man should have 92 guineas and 4 pistoles: — the second man, 75 guineas and 25 pistoles: — the third, 58 guineas, 46 pistoles — the fourth, 41 guineas and 67 pistoles — the fifth, 24 gui∣neas and 88 pistoles: — and the sixth man, 7 guineas and 109 pistoles. This was admi∣rable. But is there no other way I said of pay∣ing 100 l. in guineas and pistoles, besides the six ways you have mentioned? There is no other way: (the fine girl answered). If a se∣venth man was to be paid 100 l. in these two kinds of money, he must be paid in one of these six methods. This was true. I was charmed with what I had heard.
Page 273While I was thus engaged with the maids, Azora and Antonia came into the room, and finding how I had been employed, they be∣gan to talk of problems, theorems, and e∣quations, and soon convinced me, that I was not superior to them in this kind of know∣ledge; tho' I had studied it for a much longer time, and had taken more pains than ever they did. Their fine understandings saw at once the things that had made me sweat ma∣ny an hour, and in less time than I required for an operation, they could answer the most difficult questions, and do any thing in sim∣ple quadratic equations, and in the composi∣tion and resolution of ratios. This I thought very wonderful; especially as they had been taught no longer than one year by Mr. Bur∣cot; and that they had acquired the most abstruse part of their knowledge by their own application. — I note the thing down as one of the strangest and most extraordinary cases that ever came in my way; perhaps, that ever was heard. It is such a specimen of female understanding, as must for ever knock up the positive assertions of some learned men, who will not allow that wo∣men have as strong reasoning heads as the men.
An obser∣vation re∣lative to the under∣standing of women.
By the way, I observe, exclusive of these two ladies, that I have seen many of the Page 274sex who were distinguished for accuracy and comprehensiveness, not only in the science, where known and required qualities are de∣noted by letters, but in other fine parts of learning. I have little right to pretend to any thing extraordinary in understanding, as my genius is slow, and such as is common in the lower classes of men of letters; yet, my application has been very great: my whole life has been spent in reading and think∣ing: and nevertheless, I have met with ma∣ny women, in my time, who, with very little reading, have been too hard for me on several subjects. In justice, I de∣clare this; and am very certain from what I have heard numbers of them say, and seen some of them write, that if they had the la∣boured education the men have, and applied to books with all possible attention for as many years as we do; there would be found among them as great divines as Episcopius, Limborch, Whichcote, Barrow, Tillotson, and Clarke; and as great mathematicians, as Mac∣laurin, Saunderson, and Simpson. The cri∣ticks may laugh at this assertion, I know they will: and, if they please, they may doubt my veracity as to what I relate of the two ladies, and the ten young women, in Burcot-Hamlet; but what I say is true not∣withstanding. Facts are things too stub∣born Page 275to be destroyed by laughing and doubt∣ing.
As to the ladies I have mentioned, they both did wonders in specious arithmetick; but Azora was the brightest of the two, and in pure algebra, had gone much farther than Antonia. With wonder I beheld her, while she answered the most difficult questions as fast as fingers could move; and in the solu∣tion of cubics, and the resolution of equa∣tions, both according to Des Cartes laborious method, and the better universal way, by converging series, work with a celerity and truth beyond what I have ever seen any man do. Nor was it only algebra independent of geometry that she understood. She could apply its reasoning to geometrical figures, and describe the loci of any equations by the mechanical motion of angles and lines. She was in this respect the greatest prodigy I ever saw.
But it was not on account of this excel∣lence that I so much admired Azora, and honour her memory so greatly as I do; nor because she talked so excellently on various subjects, as I have related; but, for her knowledge of the truths of christianity, and the habits of goodness she had wrought into her soul; for the care she took of the people under her government, by communicating every felicity in her power, to their bodies Page 276and minds; and the pure religion of Christ Jesus, which she publickly maintained, in all the beauty of holiness, and in a just fer∣vor of practice. She was herself, in her manners and piety, a fine copy of those blessed women who conversed with our Lord and his apostles: and her society, in inno∣cence and goodness, in usefulness and devo∣tion, seemed an epitome of the first christian church at Jerusalem. Under a just impres∣sion of the most heavenly principles they all lived, and strictly regarded their several offi∣ces. As the gospel directs, they worshipped a first cause, the Deity, as the disciples of the Christ of God, our holy mediator; and the authority of a Being of infinite wisdom, and unchangeable rectitude of nature, had made such an impression upon their minds, that they laboured continually to acquire that con∣secration and sanctity of heart and manners, which our divine religion requires. Excellent community! happy would Europe be, if all her states were like this people. A false re∣ligion would not then prevail; nor would su∣perstition be the idol to which the world bows down. The evils, which now dishonour human nature, and infest society, would not be seen among us; nor those excesses of pas∣sion be known, which are the parent of dis∣cord and calamity, and render this lower world one scene of sin and sorrow: but, as Page 277revelation inculcates, as reason suggests, man∣kind would worship the Almighty Principle, the One God, the Only True God, with a worship suitable to the nature of a Being, who is not confined to, or dependent upon, particular places and circumstances, who is always, and every where present with us; and like the ministers attending on the glorious throne of the Monarch of the world, they would, according to their measure, be pure, benevolent mortals, and as perfect in goodness, as men can be within the degree and limit of their nature.—In a word, the Supreme Fa∣ther of all things would then be the God of all christians; and in doing his will, in imi∣tating his perfections, and in practising every thing recommended by the great and uni∣versal law of reason, (that law which God sent our Lord to revive and enforce), they would find the greatest pleasure. Such were the people of Burcot-Hamlet. Azora and Antonia were indeed most glorious wo∣men (21) .
45. July 19, 1726. We depart from Bur∣cot-Ham∣let, and ar∣rive at a burning valley.
The 18th of June, 1725, I took my leave of Mrs. Burcot and Mrs. Fletcher, (for so they would be called, as they informed Page 279me, after I had once used the word Miss), and from this fine place, proceeded on my Page 280journey, by a paper of written directions had received from them; as there was a pretty good, tho' a long and tedious way out Page 281of the mountains, if a traveller knew the passes and turnings; but otherwise, it was ei∣ther impossible to go on; or, a man must journey at the hazard of his life a thousand Page 282times a day, in crossing waters and preci∣pices.
Page 283Our first labour was to ascend a very nar∣row steep way in the side of a mountain, which went up due north for a full mile, and Page 284brought us to another large, standing, black and unfathomable water, on the top of this high hill. There was no appearance of any Page 285feeders to supply this frightful lake, and therefore, and on account of its blackness, the surface must communicate with the abyss. From this water we rid due east for half an hour, and then descended to a sandy valley, where flames were rising from the ground. The fire came up without noise, smoak, or smell, and appeared to me very wonderful: but such things are common in many parts of the world. In the side of one of the Apen∣nines, I have seen a large blazing vale. The learned tell us, this is owing to rich veins of bitumen, which crops in such places, and the heat of the air between the hills, in shallow vallies, causes it to burn. This crop of bi∣tumen, and accension by the agitation of a hot air, is well fancied, I own: but it does Page 286not give me full satisfaction. I think of this, and many other natural things, as Mr. Moyle does of the Aurora Borealis;—that these uncommon appearances should be looked on with wonder and admiration, and raise in us a due reverence of their great Author, who has shewn his Almighty power and wisdom in forming such an infinite variety of produc∣tions in all parts of the universe. Philosophy undertakes to account for every thing. I am sure it is in many cases mistaken.
29. An account of a water∣fall at Stanemore.
Having passed the burning valley, we rid over a river, that was up to the horses bellies, very rapid, and a bad bottom, and then proceeded along a steep hill side, the course N. W. till we came to a rich low land, that was covered with flowers and aro∣matic shrubs, and adorned with several clumps of oak, chesnut, and white walnut trees. This plain is about twenty five acres, surrounded with stony mountains, some of which are very high and steep, and from the top of one of the lowest of them, a cataract descends, like the fall of the river Niagara in Canada, or New France, in North America. Swifter than an arrow from a bow the rapid water comes headlong down in a fall of 140 feet, which is 3 feet more than the descent of Ni∣agara. The river here, to be sure, is not half so large as that which comes from the vast lakes of Canada, but it is a great and prodigious cadence of water, and tumbles Page 287perpendicular in as surprizing a manner, from as horrible a precipice; and in this very nearly resembles the Niagara-Fall; that as you stand below, as near the fall as it is safe to go, you see the river come down a sloping moun∣tain for a great way, as if it descended from the clouds. It is a grand and amazing scene. The water issues from a great lake on the top of a mountain that I found very hard to ascend, and the lake has many visible feeders from hills upon hills above it, which it is impossible to climb.
30. July 19, 1726. A dinner by a cata∣ract, and a wonderful fall of O Fin the boy.
It was 12 o'clock by the time we arriv∣ed at this water-fall, and therefore I sat down by the side of it to dine, before I attempted to get up to the top of the precipice, and see from whence this water came. While my eyes were entertained with the descending scene, I feasted on a piece of venison pasty, and some fine ale, which, among other pro∣visions, Mrs. Burcot had ordered her servants to put up for me: but as I was thus happily engaged, my lad, O Fin, had climbed up to the top of the water-fall, and was going to land from a tree that grew out of the rocky mountain, near the summit of the hill, when his foot slipt, and he came tumbling down in a miserable way. I expected him in pieces on the ground, as I had him full in my view. There seemed no possibility of an escape: and yet he received no harm. In the middle of Page 288the descent, he stuck in another projecting thick tree, and from it came safely down. This was a deliverance. Providence often saves us in a wonderful manner, 'till the work appointed to be finished is done, or the limited time of our trial over. In relation to such escapes, I could give myself as an in∣stance many a time, and will here mention one extraordinary case.
31. A great de∣liverance.
As I travelled once in the county of Kerry in Ireland, with the White Knight, and the Knight of the Glin(22) . We called at Tere∣lah Page 289O Crohanes, an old Irish gentleman, our common friend, who kept up the hos∣pitality of his ancestors, and shewed how they lived, when Cormac Mac Cuillenan, the Generous, (from whose house he de∣scended) was king of Munster and Arch∣bishopPage 290of Cashel, in the year 913 (23.) There was no end of eating and drinking there, and the famous Downe Falvey played on the harp. For a day and a night we sat Page 291to it by candle-light, without shirts or cloaths on; naked, excepting that we had our breeches and shoes and stockings on; Page 292and I drank so much burgundy in that time, that the sweat ran of a red colour down my body; and my senses were so disordered, that when we agreed to ride out for a couple of hours to take a little air, I leaped my horse into a dreadful quarry, and in the descent was thrown into a large deep water that was in a part of the frightful bottom, and by that means saved my life. When I came above water, I swam very easily out of the pit, and walked up the low side of the quarry as sober as if I had not drank a glass. This is a fact, whatever the critics may say of the thing. All I can say to it is, my hour was not come.
49. 1725. June 11. The jour∣ney con∣tinued.
Having dined, and shot a bustard that weighed forty pounds, I went on again, the course north-west for half a mile, and then, to my astonishment, it trended to the south for more than an hour; which was going back again: but at last it turned about, and for half an hour, we went to the north∣west again, and then due east for a long time, till we came to hills upon hills that were Page 293very difficult to pass. We were obliged to alight at many of them, and walk them up and down, which was a delay of many hours: but we did it at last, and came into a large sandy opening, that had a num∣ber of rapid streams breaking over it, that fell from the mountains, and with the forest on the surrounding hills, formed a very wild and pleasing scene. Over this we went for half a mile, and then came to a long glin, so very deep and narrow, that it was quite night when we got to the bottom of it, tho' the sun was not yet down; and it brought to my re∣membrance Anchises's son, the wandering prince of Troy, when he descended to the shades below. It had the appearance indeed of some such pass, and was a frightful way, as hills, like Caucasus and Atlas, were close on either hand of us, and a river roared thro' the bottom of the steep descent; which we were obliged to walk down on foot. This could not be the right road I was certain. Azora and Antonia could never pass this deep and rapid flood. It was too much for any man to venture into, without knowing where the torrent went, or how the channel of the river was form'd.
Up then I came again to the day, and re∣solved to pass the night at the foot of one of the woody hills, on the margin of the streams that sounded sweetly over the shoars: Page 294but how to proceed the next morning I knew not. As my paper of directions did not mention the dark steep descent we had been down, but a little valley that lay due east, through which we were to go: no such vale could we see, and of consequence, in some turning of the road, we had gone wrong.
When I came among the trees, on the side of one of the mountains, I began to look for some convenient resting place, while my two boys were picking the bustard, and preparing a fire to roast it for supper, and wandered a good way till I saw a pretty hermitage in an open plain like a ring, and going up to it, found the skeleton of a man. He lay on a couch in an inward room without any cover∣ing, and the bones were as clean and white as if they had come from the surgeons hands. The pismires to be sure had eaten off the flesh. Who the man was, a paper lying on the table in a strong box informed me. It was called the case of John Orton.
50. The CASE of JOHN ORTON.
I was twenty years old when Charles the Second was restored, and being master of large fortunes, and educated in an aversion to puritans and republican principles, went into all the licentiousness and impieties, which overspread and corrupted this nation, when Page 295that profligate prince ascended the throne. I drank up to the excess of the times: I de∣bauched every woman I could get within my power, by gold, treachery, or force; maid, wife, and widow: I murdered several men in duels; and blasphemed the God of Hea∣ven continually. The devil was my first and last toast; and, in a club I belonged to, I proceeded to such scarce credible wickedness, as to perform the part of the priest in our infer∣nal sodality, and after using the words of consecration over the elements, gave the prophane bread and wine in the most horrible manner. I was the most abominable of mortals. Contrary to all the dictates and principles of wisdom, virtue, and honour I acted; bound myself in bondage to Sa∣tan; and lived the most execrable slave to the vilest inclinations, and most heinous ha∣bits. Scratch was the name I had for the evil one, and upon all occasions I invoked him. The last words I said every night, after lying down, were, — Scratch, tuck me in.
In this diabolical manner did I pass my life away till I was forty, and in twenty years time committed every evil that can dishonour human manners, and infest society. I was a disgrace to my species, and unworthy of the name of man.
Page 296But as I went on in this manner, and glo∣ried only in outdoing the greatest scelerates in impiety and debauchery,—in being the chief instrument of Satan, and striving to bring every soul I got acquainted with, in subjection to the flesh and the devil; malici∣ously committing all manner of sin; and with greediness executing the suggestions of a defiled imagination, and the purposes of the most corrupt heart; I was struck one night with the most excruciating torments of body; and had, at the same time, such un∣speakable horrors upon my mind, that I be∣lieve my condition resembled the state of the damned. The tortures all over my frame, were beyond the pains any rack could cause; but were less afflicting than the panick fear that harrowed my soul under a lively sense of eternal vengeance, for the crying enormi∣ties and impurities of my life. All my crim∣son crimes were held as in a mirror before me; the most diabolical impieties against heaven, and the most shocking cruelties to men; the numbers I had drank to death, and secured in the service of hell; the men I had sent to the other world by combat at pistol and sword; and the women I had ruined, not only in this life, but perhaps, for evermore; the miseries I had brought upon families, and the manifold afflictions I had been the author of for years after years, Page 297by night and by day;—all these offences I saw like the hand-writing on the wall, and in a horror and consternation of mind, that words cannot describe, lay a miserable spec∣tacle for two nights and two days. Tor∣mented, perplexed, and confounded, I rolled from side to side, and condemned myself and my folly in the most doleful complaints; but dared not look up to a just Judge and offended God. No slumber for this time did approach my eyes; but in agonies I shook with a frightful violence, and thought every moment, that the demons my fancy had in view, were going to force my miserable soul away to everlasting inflictions, in the most dismal cavern of hell. Spent, however, at last, I fell into a short sleep. I had half an hour's rest, and in that slumber imagined, I heard a small voice say,—As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way, and live: Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Is∣rael. Rent your heart, and not your gar∣ments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
Upon this I awaked, and found my pains were gone. To heaven I lift my eyes, and as the tears poured down my face, cried out Page 298to God for mercy. O God be merciful to me a sinner. Have mercy on me dust and sin, the vilest of all sinful creatures. To me belongs nothing but shame and confusion of face eter∣nally. My portion should in justice be the lake of everlasting fire and brimstone. But O Lord God most mighty, O holy and most merciful Fa∣ther, to thee belongeth infinite goodness and forgiveness. O remember not my sins and trans∣gressions—my great and numberless provoca∣tions, and my trespasses that are grown up even unto heaven. Have mercy upon me, O God, after thy great goodness, and according to the multitude of thy mercies, do away mine offences. I have a hearty sense and detestation of all my abominations, and with a true con∣trition of heart, I repent of all my iniquities. Wash me, then, I beseech thee, O Father of mercies; wash my polluted soul in the blood of the holy Jesus, and forgive me all my sins, as I offer up a troubled spirit, and a broken and contrite heart, which thou hast promised not to despise.—And grant, O Lord God, my Father, that I may from this hour, by the gui∣dance and direction of thy sanctifying spirit, bid a final adieu to all ungodliness and iniquity; and consecrate myself intirely to thee, to serve thee with humility, love and devotion, and for the remainder of my life, give thee the sacri∣fices of righteousness, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Page 299When I had thus implored the mercy of the Almighty, in a torrent of tears, with strong cryings, I found my heart quite easy, and my mind so filled with delights and com∣forts, that I cannot describe the strange hap∣piness of my condition: but how to secure this felicity was the question. I was afraid of the world, and trembled when I thought of its temptations: beside, the great wicked∣ness of my past life made it necessary that I should live in an extraordinary state of peni∣tence, and by great mortification and piety, make what amends I could for sinning against heaven in the most atrocious manner; and wilfully, for a long series of years, breaking every law of the just and holy governor of the world. A change of mind, and com∣mon piety, were not enough for such a wretch as I had been. I was unworthy of the innocent comforts of life. I ought to breathe in sighs, and speak in groans. I re∣solved then to be a reform indeed, and in this part of Stanemore mountains, which I was well acquainted with, spend the re∣mainder of my days, in the labours of a pe∣nitential piety.
As I had no relations living, I sold what e∣states I had left, and gave almost the whole mo∣ney among the poor. With the little I kept, I bought what necessary things I should want in my solitude; and with tools and seeds, Page 300some cloaths and linnen, a few books, and other little matters, retired to this spot in the year 1681. I had some working men from the next village, to build me the little hut I live in; to sow my garden with every vege∣table, and put some fruit-trees in the ground; to cut me a pile of firing from the woody hills; and make my place as convenient as my intended life could require. All this was soon done, and then I was left alone; in the possession of every thing I had a wish for in this world. It is now twenty years since my arrival here, and in all the time, I have not had one sick or dismal hour. My garden and my cottage employ me in agreeable la∣bours, to furnish my table with roots and fruits; which is what I mostly live on; ha∣ving nothing more but goats milk, and now and then a sea-biscuit; my drink being wa∣ter, and sometimes a cup of meath of my own making.
When I am weary of working, I sit down to study my Bible, and in that most perfect treasure of saving knowledge, I find such joys and satisfactions as make my life a scene of heavenly happiness, and charm me into raptures the nearer I approach to the hour of my dissolution. That will be a blessed hour. By the amazing mercy of God, vouchsafed through the Lord Jesus, my crimson sins are pardoned; and when the voice of the Son of Page 301God, the thunder of the dreadful trumpet will awake all the dead, I shall have my part in the first resurrection, and ascend with the blessed to the eternal mansions of the sky.—Adored be thy goodness, most glorious Eternal. Inestimable is thy love in the redemption of sinners by the gospel, and the sacrifice of the holy Jesus!
Fellow mortal, whoever thou art, into whose hands this paper cometh, take my ad∣vice, and remember thy latter end. If, like me, thou hast been betrayed by the demons into great impieties and presumptuous sins, an hast been persuaded to abdicate heaven, and its eternal hopes, in exchange for illicit gratifications of every kind, and the pleasures of this world; then, like me, repent, and in tears and mortification, implore the mercy of heaven. Turn to the everlasting Father of mercies, and the God of all comforts, after his own manner, with humility, sorrow, and resolutions of amendment, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, implore his com∣passion and forgiveness, and he will repent and turn unto thee. He will wash you in the blood of Jesus, and make you whiter than snow. When he sees the sinner a great way off in tears, fasting, and prayer, he will run unto him, and fall upon his neck and kiss him. You will become the beloved of the Father, and be reinstated in the favor of Page 302the greatest and most glorious of immortal Beings. He will bless you here with that peace that passeth all understanding. He will bless you for ever hereafter with glory and honour in the kingdom he has prepared for the benevolent, the pure, and the honest. But if you continue to offend your Creator, and violate the laws of the God of heaven, then will you live exposed to judgments in this world, and most certainly will depart in confusion and misery. The demons you obeyed will gather round the pale, the guil∣ty, the affrighted ghost of you, eager to in∣volve your wretched spirit in their own hor∣rors, and will drag it to their dismal regions. And when all the monuments of human power, wealth and pride shall be overthrown; the earth itself be in a blaze, and the sea turned into vapours, at the descent of the Son of God, to judge the vast congregation of the sons of men, the amazing assembly of mortals, unheard of generations raised from the grave, to have all their actions tried; every condition everlastingly determined; then will you be placed in that division which will call upon the rocks to hide them, and the hills to cover them from the face of the Judge; but in vain attempt to secret them∣selves from an infinite eye, and an Almighty power. Then will the terrors of the gospel stand in full force against thee, and in the Page 303dreadful sentence pronounced against the guilty you must share—Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire. O dreadful doom! what a tremendous day to sinners! and to see the righteous acquitted, and before your eyes ascend in triumph and splendor into the man∣sions of glory, to live the happy favourites of God and Christ for never-ending ages; while you are driven forward to the infernal prison, and shut up in the habitations of eternal darkness and torments—the very thought of it, (if you will think seriously of it) is enough to curdle the blood, and wither in a moment every unlawful joy that sin can produce in bloom and glory. The despair, the sighs, the groans, the doleful shrieks, when the wicked are driven off to the regions of blackness and darkness for ever, are inexpressi∣ble. Think then. Think in time, my fel∣low mortal, and profit by the blood of a Sa∣viour. Study his gospel. Hear his ministers. Regard the alarms of conscience, and submit to the influence of the holy Spirit.
And if your are not that monster of ini∣quity I once was, before I obtained the di∣vine mercy, by a timely and severe repent∣ance, yet, as in heaven, so in hell, there are many mansions, and if you do not work out your salvation according to the terms of the gospel, and make every law of Christ the rules of your behaviour—if you do not Page 304act continually as related to God, to each other, and to another world, and seek first the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof, you will utterly disqualify yourself for the rewards and happiness of heaven, tho' your conduct may be far from meriting the most dreadful inflictions in another world. The gains of unrighteousness, or medling with any forbidden fruit, is a violation of the laws of God that must ruin you for ever; tho' the punishment for so doing cannot be equal to the torments prepared for the tyrant and oppressor, the murderer, the adulterer, the drunkard, and offenders in the highest crimes. We must cease to do evil, and learn to do well, in order to be saved. Not ac∣cording to promises and prayers at last, not according to legacies to be paid to the poor when we are dead, shall we be judged; but, as we have rectified the judgment and the will, made virtue the governor of the heart, and in all things sought God's glory, not our own. This do, and you will live.
John Orton.May 1, 1701.
51. A reflexion on the bones of John Orton.
This extraordinary paper surprized me very greatly, and when from reading it, I turned my eyes to the bones of John Orton, I could not help breaking out in the following reflection — And is this the once lively, gallant, drinking Page 305Jack Orton, who thought for forty years that he was made for no higher end than to gra∣tify every appetite, and pass away time in a continual circle of vanity and pleasure! Poor skeleton, what a miserable spectacle art thou! Not the least remain of activity and joy, of that sprightliness and levity of mind, that jo∣cund humour and frolic, which rendered thee the delight of the wild societies of thy youthful time: Grim, stiff, and horrid, is the appearance now: vain mirth and luxury, licentious plays and sports, can have no con∣nection with these dry bones.
O Death, what a change dost thou make! The bulk of mankind are averse to serious thought, and hearken to the passions more than to the dictates of reason and religion: To kill time, and banish reflection, they in∣dulge in a round of dissipations, and revel in the freedom of vicious excesses: Their at∣tention is engrossed by spectacle and enter∣tainments, and fixed to follies and trifles: giddy and unthinking, loose and voluptuous, they spend their precious hours in the gay scenes of diversions, pomp and luxury; and as if the grave and a judgment to come, were a romance of former times, or things from which they are secured, never think of these important and momentous subjects: with minds bewitched by exorbitant plea∣sure, and faculties enervated and broken by Page 306idle mirth and vanity, they pass their every day away without any of that consideration which becomes reasonable beings, and crea∣tures designed for a state of immortality: bu at last, you appear, and in a moment turn delight and admiration, into aversion and horror: strength, wealth, and charms, you instantly reduce to weakness, poverty, and deformity, in the first place; and then, to a skeleton, like the bones before me.
Nor is this the worst of the great revo∣lution. When death approaches, the amuse∣ments of sense immediately fail, and past transactions, in every circumstance of aggra∣vation, crowd into the mind: conscience re∣proaches loudly, the heart condemns, and the sick tremble at the apprehensions of a vengeance they laughed at in the days of di∣version, and the midnight hours of the ball: as they come near the black valley, they see the realities of a future state; and agonies con∣vulse their souls: terrors till then unknown enter their breasts; and, in anxieties that are incapable of being uttered, and expectations the most torturing, on a review of life, they pass from the plains of time into the ocean of eternity. Here lies the frame, like the dry bones before me; but, the soul is gone to the sessions of righteousness; and perhaps, the dreadful sentence of the divine justice is pronounced on it. This is a tremendous Page 307affair, that calls for timely and serious con∣sideration. Eternity! Eternal misery! They that have done evil, to come forth unto the re∣surrection of damnation!
I will take thy advice then, thou glorious penitent, John Orton; and since it is in my power to come forth unto the resurrection of life, and obtain immortality, honour, and glory, with the righteous, in the kingdom of their father, I will open the reforming gos∣pel night and morning, and by its heavenly directions regulate my conduct. I am de∣termined to make a wise and serious prepa∣ration for death and judgment. To the best of my power, I will provide for that day, when the prayers and charities of the righ∣teous will be brought forth as their memorials before the tribunal of Jesus Christ.
This — this is the thing to be minded. The brightest scenes of worldly prosperity, and grandeur, are contemptible, when they do not accord with virtue and piety. Death, in a few years, blends the prince and the meanest subject, the conqueror and the slave, the statesman, the warrior, and the most insignificant, in one promiscuous ruin; and the schemes, the competi∣tions, and the interests, which have en∣gaged the chief attention of the world, are brought to nothing, and appear, too often, ridiculous: but righteousness is unchangeably Page 308glorious, and in the universal ruin, receives no detriment: when all human power and policy will be extinct; concealed piety and persecuted virtue, will again appear, and be owned as His by the Lord of Hosts, in that day when he maketh up his jewels.
I will love thee therefore, O Lord, my strength; yea, I will love thee: and it ever shall be my heart's desire, that my soul may behold by faith in its self, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, able and ready to change it into the same image from glory to glory, reflected upon, and conveyed to it by the Spirit of the Lord. May my portion here be this blessed transforming union, that I may be made partaker of the divine nature, by impressions from it (24.) I shall then have Page 309all I wish, and all I want. With a settled indifference I shall then look upon the high∣est advantages of this world. I shall have Page 310nothing to hope or to fear. The will of God will be to me unmixed felicity.
52. A medita∣tion in a closet.
Such was the soliloquy I spoke, as I gazed on the skeleton of John Orton; and just as I had ended, the boys brought in the wild turkey, which they had very ingeniously roasted, and with some of Mrs. Burcot's fine ale and bread, I had an excellent supper. The bones of the penitent Orton I removed to a hole I had ordered my lad to dig for them; the skull excepted, which I kept, and still keep on my table, for a memento mori; and that I may never forget the good lesson, which the percipient who once re∣sided in it, had given. It is often the sub∣ject of my meditation. When I am alone of an evening, in my closet, which is often my case, I have the skull of John Orton before me, and as I smoak a philosophic pipe, with my eyes fastened on it, I learn more from the solemn object, than I could from the most philosophical and laboured speculations. What a wild and hot head once: how cold and still now; poor skull, I say: and what was the end of all thy daring frolics and gambols — thy licentiousness and impiety? — A severe and bitter repentance. In piety and goodness John Orton found at last that Page 312happiness the world could not give him. There is no real felicity for man, but in reforming all his errors and vices, and entring upon a strict and constant course of virtue. This only makes life comfortable; renders death serene and peaceful; and secures eternal joy and blessedness hereafter. Such are the les∣sons I extract from the skull of John Orton.
53. An inven∣tory of the goods of John Or∣ton.
When I had supped, I went about, to see what things Mr. Orton had left behind him in his little cottage, and I found a field bed-stead large enough for two, with a mat∣trass, silk blankets, quilt, and cotton cur∣tains; two oak stools, and a strong square table of the same wood. An oak settee, on which his bones lay; a silver lamp to burn oil in; a tinder-box and matches; a case of razors; six handsome knives and forks in a case; half a dozen china plates, two china dishes; and two pint mugs of the same ware; half a dozen drinking-glasses, a large copper kettle, a brass skillet, two silver spoons, and a silver ladle; in a chest were cloaths and linnen, shoes and stockings, and various useful mat∣ters. There were pens, ink, and paper in a wri∣ting-desk, and half a score guineas; and on a shelf over it, a dozen good books; three of which were, a large English bible, Thomas a Kempis, and Sir Walter Raleigh's history of the world: under the shelf hung a plain gold watch, and a large ring sun-dial. In a dark Page 313closet, I found a box of sea-biskets, many flasks of oil for eating, and jars of it for the lamp; honey, salt, and vinegar; four dozen of quart bottles of meath, and two stone bottles, that held three gallons each, full of brandy: this I suppose was against the days of weakness or sickness. He had not used a pint of this liquor.
Having found these things within doors, I proceeded from the house to the garden, which lay at a small distance from the little thatched mansion, and contained about four acres; it had been very beautifully laid out, and filled with the best fruit-trees, and all the vegetables: but it was run to ruin and high weeds, and shewed that its owner had been long dead. I suppose he died soon af∣ter the date of his paper; for, I observed, that many prior dates had been struck out; and had he lived after the year 1701, he would, in all probability, have razed that likewise, and set down 1702. Some sudden sickness must have seized him; and perhaps, when he found himself sinking, he laid him∣self out naked on the wooden couch where I found his skeleton. I can no otherwise ac∣count for his having no kind of covering over him. As to his bones being so clean, that to be sure was performed by the ants. I took notice of many nests here of the larger ants, in holes under the roots of great trees.
Page 314That the pismires are the best preparers of a skeleton is not only certain from the account the missionaries give of the coming on of the ants in Pegu; when in one night's time, the vast swarms of them that approach, re∣duce every human creature they can fasten on to clean bones; which makes the people set fire to their habitations, when they have notice given them by a kind of small mon∣key they keep for the purpose of the motion of this terrible enemy: but it is plain from what I have often experimented.
When I want to make a skeleton of any small animal, I put the dead creature in a box with holes in it among the ants, in their habitations, or nests, or in such parts of the house as a whole tribe will often march to, through several rooms, in one track or cer∣tain road, to eat sugar or sweatmeats they have discovered, and then in two or three days, they will perform what the finest knife cannot execute. The big ants which are larger than a common house fly, and are seldom less than six thousand in a nest, will clear the bones of a rat in half a night's time.
There was a pretty little wooden summer-house in the centre of the garden, and in it had been in pots some curious plants and flowers. Here were various tools, and many instruments of gardening. It appeared from Page 315them, and the great variety of things in the ground, that Mr. Orton must have used himself to hard labour, and found great pleasure in his improvements and produc∣tions. There was a deal of art and ingenuity to be traced in the wild wilderness the garden was grown into. It was plain from a book, called the Carthusian gardener, which lay on a table in the summer-house, that he had made that business his study. Round this summer-house were the remains of many hives on benches, but the bees were all gone, and the stock ruined.
54. A scheme.
All these things, and the place, set me a thinking, and soon suggested to my fancy, that in my condition, I could not do better than succeed Mr. Orton on the pre∣misses; but, without turning hermit. Here is (I said) a pretty small thatched mansion, that might easily be enlarged, if more rooms were wanting; and a garden, which labour would soon restore to its usefulness and beau∣ty, and make it produce the best vegetables in plenty. Here is fish in the waters, fowl of every kind, and deer on the mountains. Here are goats in great herds, for milk, for kids, and when cut, for excellent venison. Here is the finest water, and by getting bees, as Mr. Orton had, meath may be made that will be equal to the best foreign wine. As to the situation, it is most delightful. No∣thing Page 316can be more charming than these shores and breaking waters, the rocky precipices and the woody hills, which surround this little region. What then should hinder but that I here sit down, and put an end to my adventures; as the few things that are want∣ing may be had at the next town, and a stock for years be in a few days secured? The man I am looking for may never be found; and if I should meet with him, his circumstances and temper may be changed: then, as to the world, I know not how to deal in any kind of business; and to live on the small fortune in my possession, must reduce me to poverty very soon. Here then it is good for me to reside, and make myself as happy as I can, if it be not in my power to be as happy as I would. I have two lads with me, who are active, useful young men, willing to work, and pleased to stay where∣ever I am; and if I can commence a matri∣monial relation with some sensible, good-humoured, dear delightful girl of the moun∣tains, and persuade her to be the chearful partner of my still life, nature and reason will create the highest scenes of felicity, and we shall live as it were in the suburbs of heaven. My lads too may pick up among the hills, upon scripture principles, two bouncing females: and a state will in a little time be formed. This is fine. For Page 317once in my life I am fortunate. And sup∣pose, this partner I want in my solitude could be Miss Melmoth, one of the wisest and most discreet of women; a thinking bloom, and good-humour itself in a human figure; then indeed I must be happy in this silent, romantic station. This spot of earth would then have all the felicities. — Resolved. Conclusum est contra Manicheos, said the great St. Austin, and with a thump of his fist, he cracked the table.
55. A fine rural scene.
Thus was my head employed, while I smoaked a pipe after supper, and I deter∣mined to return to Orton's mansion, after I had found a way out of Stanemore: but the previous question was, how I should get out of the place I was in, without going back, as there appeared no passage onwards. I tried every angle the next morning, to no pur∣pose, and in vain attempted some hills that were too steep for the horses. Down then again I went to the bottom of the black and narrow glin afore-mentioned, and with lights observed the rumbling deep river. It appeared more frightful than the first time I saw it, and there was no venturing into it. This troubled me not a little, as the water was not above eight yards broad, and there was an ascending glin on the other side of it, that appeared to rise into a fine woody coun∣try. It was not half the length of that we Page 318had descended, nor near so steep; it began to widen at the distance of a hundred yards from the water, so as to shew, at the sum∣mit, a fine plain encompassed with a sweep of forest. We could see the sun shining there. The view in contrast was quite charming.
For some time I stood in this perplexed condition by the water-side, and could not tell what to do, when one of the lads came running to me, to let me know, that as he carefully examined the sides of the glin we came down, he discovered to the left, about fourscore yards above the river, a pass wide enough for one horse to go through, and he believed it was a way out. This was reviving news, and upon going into it, I found that it went straight on among the mountains, like a rent, or open crack, for three hundred yards, and then turned to the left for about fifty more, when it winded a little, and be∣gan to extend wider and wider every yard, till it brought us by several turnings to the beginning of a fine valley, where we again found the river we had seen in the bottom of the deep glin, and perceived that it ended in a great water, and went off in some sub∣terranean way. The mountains were almost close to this fine water, on either hand, for near half a mile, and made a delightful rural Page 319scene. We could see the river, as we looked up it, come tumbling on for a great way be∣tween the steep rocky precipices; and the broad bright lake it formed between vast frowning mountains, with wood and lawns in it, at the end of the vale, were altogether a view most charming. This made me more highly value Orton-Lodge.
56. A descrip∣tion of an extraordi∣nary cave in Stane∣more.
There is a cave there likewise that adds great beauty to the place, and in charms and wonders, exceeds the grot of Tunis, (a few miles east of Carthage, directly under Cape-Bonn, formerly called the promontory of Mercury), where Aeneas sheltered after the storm (25.); and St. Donat's Cave in Gla∣morganshire,Page 320which is much more beautiful, Page 321than the African grot described in the first Aeneid. (26.)
Page 322The cave in Stanemore is in the bottom of a perpendicular mountain of a vast height, the east side of the lake, and four yards from the shoar. The entrance is a grand sweep, high and broad as the grot, that is, in breadth 52 feet, in height 59. It is an hundred and forty seven feet long. The stone of it is ex∣tremely beautiful; of a yellow and reddish colour, bright and glittering, and beautifully variegated with arched and undulated veins of various tinges. I broke off a piece of it, and found it a congeries of plates of spar, stained with a fine mixture of colours. It is a species of the alabaster, called Marmor Onychites, on account of its tabulated zones, resembling those of the Onyx, and is very little inferior to the Aegyptian alabaster. This Stanemore stone is far beyond the Cornish and Derbyshire alabaster. The caverns there are but incrusted with a sparry substance, as I have found upon various examinations; and, Page 323as is evident to every eye that sees the work∣men making the elegant vases and chimney-columns we have of the alabaster of those counties: whereas in Stanemore, this alabaster consists of strata of sparry substance, tho' somewhat coarser than this kind of Aegyptian stone.
The top of the cave is a bold arch, finished beyond all that art could do, and the floor as smooth as it is possible to make the stone. At the far end of the grot, there are a dozen rows of seats like benches, that rise one above another. The uppermost will hold but two people: on each of the others a do∣zen may sit with ease: they make the place look as if it was the assembly room, or coun∣cil chamber of the water-nymphs. There was no water dropping from the roof of this cave; but in a thousand places, where moss had agreeably covered the walls, it crept through the sides, and formed streams that ran sofyly over the ground, and weared it smooth. It brought to my remembrance some very poetical lines in Lucretius:
This was exactly the case of the water in this fine cave. In the lowest harmony, it gently fell over the slanting floor, and as Oldham has it—
57. A descrip∣tion of a fine seat in Yorkshire-Stanemore; which be∣longs to a society of philosophers.
Such was the delightful spot I at last discovered, when I thought I was come to the ne plus ultra, that is, had gone on till I could go no farther; and now seeing how my way lay, I departed from Orton-Lodge be∣times the next morning, leaving my lad O Fin to keep possession of the place till I re∣turned, * and with the other boy went thro' the lawns in the wood I have mentioned at the end of the vale. This brought me to a range of mountains most frightful to behold, and to the top of them, with great toil, we made a shift to climb, and from thence de∣scended through many perils to a bottom be∣tween the hills we had come down, and Page 325some mountains that stood at a small distance from them. This low ground trended north and north-west for an hour, and then turned north-east for three hours more, a very bad way; stony and wet, and some stiff pieces of road: but the bottoms brought us at last into a large and spacious plain, that was sur∣rounded with hills, whose tops and sides were covered with antient trees and lofty groves, and some mountains whose heads were above the clouds. Flowers and clover, and other herbs, adorned the ground, and it was watered with many never-drying streams. The plain seemed a vast amphi∣theatre, by nature formed; and variety and disposition refreshed the eyes whatever way they turned.
In the very center of this ground, I found a house and gardens that charmed me ve∣ry much. The mansion had a rusticity and wildness in its aspect, beyond any thing I had seen, and looked like a mass of materials jumbled together without order or design. There was no appearance of rule in any part, and where a kind of proportion was to be seen, it seemed as a start into truth, by the inadvertent head of blind chance. It was the most gothick, whimsical, four-fronted thing, without, that ever my eyes beheld; and within, the most convenient, comfort∣able dwelling I have seen.Page 326
The passages from valley to valley, between the hills they have made, are not by formal straight walks, but by windings in various ways, which are decorated with little grotto's,and diversified in the manner of laying out the ground: the streams and ca∣nals sometimes serpent, and sometimes spread away. Rocks artfully placed, seem to push the waters off, and on the banks are seeming wild productions of flowers. As the hills and risings are sprinkled with flowery trees, Page 327so are these banks with all the sweets that grow. Small boats are on the running streams, and over them in many places, are winding bridges of wood, most ingeniously and finely made. These streams which they have from the mountains, supply the larger pieces of water; and in the largest of those lakes they had raised a rock, in the most natural man∣ner. On this is a summer-house of great beauty. It is the reverse of the mansion, and has every charm that pure architecture could give it. It is large enough for a small family.
58. An account of the phi∣losophers of Stanemore. 1725. June 19. 7th day.
When I came up to this seat, which the owners of it call Ulubrae, some gentle∣men, who were in the gardens, saw me, and saved me the trouble of asking admis∣sion, by inviting me in with the greatest ci∣vility; but they seemed under a vast surprize at my arrival; and much more so, when I gave them an account of the way I had tra∣velled. It appeared almost incredible. They had not a notion of such a journey. They told me I was in Yorkshire now, and had been so, when I ascended the high mountains that are some miles behind the hills that sur∣round their house; but they did not imagine there was any travelling over those moun∣tains, and the alps upon alps beyond them, to Brugh under Stanemore. The way (they said) was very bad from their house to Eg∣gleston,Page 328or Bowes, on account of hills, wa∣ters, and wet bottoms; it was worse to tra∣vel northward to Bishoprick; and scarce pass∣able to the north east to Cumberland:—What then must it be to journey as I had done over the northern fells of Westmorland, and the bad part of Yorkshire-Stanemore I had passed.
It was a terrible way (I replied), and what I often despaired of coming through, even at the hazard of my life. Frequently we were locked in by chains of precipices, and thought we should never find a pass: some of the mountains were so steep, that it was with the greatest difficulty we could lead the horses up and down them: and many rivers were so rapid, and rocky at bottom, that we were often in danger of being lost: beside, if fortune had not conducted us to the habi∣tations of people we little expected to find, we might have perished for want of food, as my servant could not bring from Brugh pro∣visions sufficient for so long and uncertain a way. All these difficulties I saw very soon; in less than a day's ride to the north from the Bell on the southern-edge of Stanemore; a little lone public-house, that lies half way the turnpike-road, on the left hand, as the traveller goes from Bowes to Brugh, Penrith, and Carlisle: but friendship and curiosity were too many for all the obstacles in the way; and in hopes of finding a beloved Page 329friend, who lives somewhere towards the northern edge of Yorkshire, or Westmorland, or on the neighbouring confines of Bishop∣rick, or Cumberland; and that I might see a part of England, which even the borderers on it are strangers to, and of which Camden had not an idea (27) ; I went on, and have had success thus far. The journey has been worth my pains. I have beheld the most delightful scenes, and met with very extraor∣dinary things: and should I find my friend at last, my labours will be highly rewarded indeed.
The gentlemen I was talking to, seemed to wonder very much at me and my dis∣course; and as the rest of the society by this time came into the parlour, they introduced me to them, and then related what I had Page 330said. They all allowed it was very extraor∣dinary, and requested I would oblige them with some particulars that occurred. I did immediately. I told them, among other things, of my reception at Burcot-Lodge—and the skeleton of John Orton which I found in the cottage on the side of a woody hill: I let them know the goods and conveniencies I saw there, and that I was so pleased with the beauties of the place, the little mansion, the once fine gardens, and the useful things on the premisses, that I intended to return to it, and make it my summer retreat: that I had left a man there to that purpose, who was at work in the garden, and expected to be back in a month's time, with such things as were wanting to make it an agreeable and comfortable little country-house.
The philosophers wondered not a little at what they heard. If they were surprized at seeing me as a traveller in such a place, they were much more astonished at my relation. They could not enough admire Mrs. Burcot and Mrs. Fletcher. The history of the pe∣nitent Orton, they thought very strange. They told me they were glad I had a thought of making Orton-Lodge a summer retreat, and hoped it would occasion my calling upon them many times: that I should always be heartily welcome to their house, and might with less difficulty go backwards and for∣wards, Page 331as their lodge was at my service, whenever I was pleased to do them the favor to call. This was civil, and I returned them the thanks they deserved.
Here dinner was brought in, and with these gentlemen I sat down to several excel∣lent dishes. There was the best of every kind of meat and drink, and it was served up in the most elegant manner: their wine in particular was old and generous, and they gave it freely. We took a chearful glass after dinner, and laughed a couple of hours away in a delightful manner. They were quite polite, friendly and obliging; and I soon found, in conversing with them, that they were men of great reading, and greater abilities. Philosophy had not saddened their tempers. They were as lively companions, as they were wise and learned men.
These gentlemen are twenty in number, men of fortune, who had agreed to live to∣gether, on the plan of a college described by Mr. Evelyn in his letter to Mr. Boyle* ; but, with this difference, that they have no chap∣lain, may rise when they please, go and come as they think fit, and are not obliged to cul∣tivate every one his garden. Every member lays down a hundred pounds on the first day of the year, and out of that fund they live, Page 332pay their servants, keep their horses, and purchase every thing the society requires. What is wanting at home, this stoek pro∣duces, and is to be expended only at Ulubrae, for every thing necessary and comfortable, except raiment and horses. When they are abroad, it is at a plus-expence.
I call these gentlemen philosophers, because, exclusive of their good morals, they devote the principal part of their time to natural philosophy and mathematicks, and had, when I first saw them, made a great number of fine experiments and observations in the works of nature, tho' they had not been a society for more than four years. They make records of every thing extraordinary which come within their cognisance, and register every experiment and observation. I saw se∣veral fine things in their transactions, and a∣mong them a most ingenious and new me∣thod of determining expeditiously the tan∣gents of curve lines; which you know, ma∣thematical reader, is a very prolix calculus, in the common way: and as the determina∣tion of the tangents of curves is of the great∣est use, because such determinations exhibit the quadratures of curvilinear spaces, an easy method in doing the thing, is a promotion of geometry in the best manner. The rule is this.
59. A rule to determine expedi∣tiously, the tangents of curve lines.
Suppose B D E the curve, B C the ab∣cissa = x, C D the ordinate = y, A B the tan∣gent line = t, and the nature of the curve be such, that the greatest power of y ordinate be on one side of the equation; then y 3 = − x 3 − xxy + xyy − a 3 + aay − aax + axx − ayy: but if the greatest power of y be wanting, the terms must be put = 0.
Then make a fraction and numerator; the numerator, by taking all the terms, wherein the known quantity is, with all their signs; and if the known quantity be of one dimension, to pre∣fix unity, and of two, 2, if of three, 3, and you will have − 3a 3 + 2aay − 2aax + axx − ayy:
The fraction, by assuming the terms wherein the abscissa x occurs, and retaining the signs, and if the quantity x be of one dimension, to prefix unity, as above, etc, etc; and then it will be − 3x 3 − 2xxy + xyy − aax + 2axx:Page 334then diminish each of these by x, and the deno∣minator will be − 3xx − 2xy + yy − aa + 2ax.
This fraction is equal to A B, and therefore t is = − 3a 3 + 2aay − 2aax + axx − ayy/− 3xx − 2xy + yy − aa + 2ax In this easy way may the tangents of all geometri∣cal curves be exhibited; and I add, by the same method, if you are skilful, may the tangents of infinite mechanical curves be determined. — Many other fine things, in the mathematical way, I looked over in the journal of these gen∣tlemen. I likewise saw them perform several extraordinary experiments.
60. Microsco∣pical obser∣vations made at U∣lubrae.
They make all the mathematical instru∣ments they use, and have brought the micro∣scope in particular, to greater perfection than I have elsewhere seen it. They have them of all kinds, of one and more hemispherules, and from the invented spherule of Cardinal de Medicis, not exceeding the smallest pearl placed in a tube, to the largest that can be used. They had im∣proved the double reflecting microscope, much farther than Marshal's is by Culpepper and Scar∣let, and made several good alterations in the so∣lar or camera obscura microscope; and in the catoptric microscope, which is made on the model of the Newtonian telescope.
61. Colours in the micro∣scope.
In one of their best double reflecting optical instruments, I had a better view of the variety and true mixture of colours than ever I saw before. The origins and mixtures were finely visible. In a common green rib∣bon, the yellow, the light red and a blue, appeared distinct and very plain: the lively green was a yellow and blue: in a sea green, more blue than yellow: the yellow was a light red and a pellucid white: All the phoe∣nomena of colours were here to be found out.
62. Works of art in the microscope.
In this instrument, the finest point of a needle appeared more blunt and unequal, and more like a broken nail, than I had before seen it—the finest edge of a razor was like the back of a dog, with the hair up:— the finest paper, was great hairs, cavities, and inequalities—and the smoothest plate of glass, was very rough, full of cracks, fissures and inequalities. Very different, indeed, are the things finished by human art, from the things finished by the hand of nature. The points, the edges, the polish, the angles, every thing that nature produces, appear in the instrument in a perfection that astonishes the beholder.
63. The vege∣table king∣dom in a microscope.
In the views I here took of the vege∣table world, with my eye thus armed, I saw many extraordinary things I had never ob∣served before. I took notice, in particular, Page 336that a sage leaf is covered with a kind of cobweb, in which swarms of little active creatures, with terrible horns and piercing eyes, are busily employed: a mulberry leaf was an amazing flexus or net-work: we can see but 9 ribs on the sigillum Solomonis; whereas my armed eye perceived here 74: in a nettle I observed its whole surface co∣vered over with needles of the most perfect polish, * every one of which had three points, (points very different from our finest points, not flat, but to perfection sharp); and that these needles rested on a base, which was a bag of a flexible substance, in form of a wild cucumber, and filled with a sharp, poisonous liquor: this is discharged at the extremity of every point of the needles that cover the sur∣face of the nettle: from a hole visible in eve∣ry point the poison is thrown out, and ex∣cites a sense of pain; and a heat arises as the blood flows more copiously to the wounded part: By pressing with my finger the extre∣mity of the prickles, the bag of poison fell; and on taking off the finger, it swelled again.—What a piece of workmanship is here in a nettle! Wonderful are thy works, O Lord God Almighty!
64. A louse and flea in a mi∣croscope.
As to the animal kingdom, my ob∣servations on it, in the optical instruments at Ulubrae, were so many, that I could fill a vo∣lume with the things I saw: but, as I have little room or time to spare, I shall only mention two or three.—In the double re∣flecting telescope, a louse and a flea were put; which are creatures that hate each other as much as spiders do, and fight to death when they meet. The flea appeared first in the box, * and as he was magnified very great∣ly, he looked like a locust without wings; with a roundish body, that is obtuse at the end, and the breast covered with an armature of a triangular figure; the head small in pro∣portion to its body, but the eyes large, red, and very fierce; his six legs were long, ro∣bust, and made for leaping; the antennae short, but firm and sharp; its tail was scaly, and full of stings, and its mouth pointed in∣to active pincers: his colour was a deep pur∣ple.
65. A battle in a micros∣cope be∣tween a louse and a flea.
The first that was brought on the stage was the flea, and to shew us what an active one he was, he sprung and bounced at a strange rate: the velocity of his motions in leaping, were astonishing; and sometimes, he would tumble over and over in a wanton way: but the moment the louse appeared, he stood stock still, gathered himself up, and fixed his flashing eyes on his foe. The gal∣lant louse did with a frown for some time be∣hold him, and then crouching down, began very softly to move towards him, when the flea gave a leap on his enemy, and with his dangerous tail and pinching mouth, began the battle with great fury: but the louse soon made him quit his hold, by hurting him with his claws, and wounding him with his sharp snout. This made the flea skip to the other side of the box, and they both kept at a distance for near a minute, looking with great indignation at each other, and offering several times to advance. The louse did it at last in a race, and then the flea flew at him, which produced a battle as terrible as Page 339ever was fought by two wild beasts. Every part of their bodies were in most violent mo∣tion, and sometimes the flea was uppermost, but more frequently the louse. They did bite, and thrust, and claw one another most furiously, and the consequence of the dread∣ful engagement was, that the flea expired, and the louse remained victor in the box: but he was so much wounded, that he could scarce walk.—This battle was to me a very surprizing thing, as each of them was mag∣nified to the size of two feet: But consider∣ing what specs or atoms of animated matter they were, it was astonishing to reflexion to behold the amazing mechanism of these two minute things, which appeared in their exer∣tions during the fray. It was still more strange to see the aversion these small crea∣tures had to each other, the passions that worked in their little breasts, and the judge∣ment they shewed in their endeavours to de∣stroy one another. It is indeed a wonderful affair: nor was it the least part of my admi∣ration to see through the extraordinary trans∣parencies of the louse, the violent circulation of the blood in its heart. This was as plane to my eye, as red liquor forced by a pump in several experiments through circulating glass pipes.—As to the dead flea, it was opened, and by the camera obscura or solar microscope, (which magnifies the picture of Page 340such a body as a flea, to eight feet) (28) we saw the intestines distinguished and arranged in a manner that cannot be enough admired. It was full of eggs, and in every egg were many half-formed young ones.
66. Spiders in the great double mi∣croscope.
The water aranea, or great water spi∣der, was next put in, and made a wonderful appearance in his greatly magnified state. It is the largest of the spider kind, except the native of Apulia, called the Tarantula, and Page 341is furnished at the head with a hard black forceps, which resembles that of the Apulian araneus: the colour of its oval body is a blueish black, and has a transverse line and two spots hollowed in it: its eight legs are very long, the joints large, and the little bones of the feet have different articulations: it was armed with bristles like a boar, and had claws very black, not unlike an eagle: it had eight eyes, and six of them were dis∣posed in form of a half moon on the fore∣head; the other two were on the crown of the head; one to the left, the other to the right: This disposition affords light to the whole body, and as these eyes are well fur∣nished with crystalline humours, they are sharp-sighted beyond all creatures, and so nimbly hunt down flies: the mouth was full of teeth, and they looked like short thick hairs.
In opposition to this amphibious creature, which walks on the mud at the bottom of standing waters, as well as on the banks, the silvery-green bodied spider was put into the box, which is one of the class that lives in the woods, where it squats down on the branches of trees, and throws four of its legs forward, and four backward, extending them straight along the bough; but the great water aranea, with his terrible wea∣pon, the black forceps, in a minute destroyed Page 342it, and we took the dead body out, to put in its place the red and yellow spider, which is a larger and stronger kind: this made a battle for two minutes, and hurt his foe: but he could not stand it longer: he expired at the victor's feet.
67. The library at Ulubrae.
The library belonging to these gen∣tlemen is a very fine one, and contains many thousand volumes; but is much more valua∣ble for the intrinsick merit, than the number of the books: and as to antient manuscripts, there is a large store of great value: they had likewise many other curious monuments of antiquity; statues, paintings, medals, and coins, silver, gold, and brass. To describe those fine things would require a volume. Among the books, I saw the editions of the old authors, by the famous printers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; editions greatly prized and sought after by most of the learned; but these gentlemen did not value them so much as the editions of the classicks, that have been published within this last century; especially the quarto edi∣tions done in Holland. They shewed me many errors in the Greek authors by the Ste∣phens: and as to Plantin, exclusive of his negligence, in several places, his Italic cha∣racterPage 344they thought far inferior to the Roman, in respect of beauty. All this was true: and it is most certain, that the best corrected books are the best editions of the classicks. They are the best helps for our understanding them. There is no reason then for laying out so much money for the old editions, when in reality the modern ones are better.
68. An account of the bock called Vin∣diciae con∣tra Tyran∣nes.
One of the books in this library, which I chanced to take into my hand was the famous Vindiciae contra Tyrannos, which came out in Latin and French in 1579, under the name of Stephanus Junius Brutus, and is a defence of liberty against tyrants. — This treatise proves, in the first place, that sub∣jects are not bound to obey princes, if they command that which is against the law of God; as the worship of a consecrated wafer, and the theology of St. Athanasius, mariona∣latry, the demonalatry, and all the diabolism of popery; — 2dly, That it is lawful to resist a prince, who, like James the Second, en∣deavours to ruin the true church, and make the superstition of Rome the religion of the land; — 3dly, That it is lawful to resist a prince, when he oppresses and strives to ruin a state; as when Charles the First would exercise a power contrary to the interest of his people, contrary likewise to that of the Page 345protestant religion (29.) ; and when James the Second began his tyranny, by dispensing with the penal statute of 25 Car. 2. in the Page 346case of Sir Edward Hales, notwithstanding the true religion, the honour of Almighty God, the sasety of the government, and the Page 347public good and peace of the nation depend upon this act of 25 Car. 2. — and 4thly, That neighbour princes or states may be, or Page 348are bound by law, to give succours to the subjects of other princes, afflicted for the cause of true religion, or oppressed by ma∣nifest Page 349tyranny. These truths are finely proved in this extraordinary book. The excellent author evinces, that justice requires, Page 350that tyrants and destroyers of the common∣wealth be compelled to reason. Charity challenges the right of relieving and restor∣ing the oppressed. Those that make no ac∣count of these things, do as much as in them lies to drive piety, justice, and charity out of this world, that they may never more be heard of.
69. Account of the author of the fa∣mous book de libe tate ecclesia∣stica.
Another extraordinary book I saw in this library, was the famous piece de libertate ecclesiastica, written against the papal usur∣pations, at the time his holiness, Camille Borghense, commonly called Paul V, had the memorable contest with the Venetians; and upon enquiring, who was the author of this scarce and valuable work; that was superior even to Father Paul's book upon the same subject, in defence of the liberties of man∣kind; Mr. Trenchard the president of the society, shewed me Cappel's assertion of the true Faith against Rosweius the jesuit. And in it the following passage, pag. 17. — In ecclesiastica antiquitate quam non esset Tyro Casaubonus, docuit A. D. 1607. libro singulari de libertate ecclesiastica, cujus jam paginae 264. typis erant editae, cum rex Henricus IV. Compositis jam Venetorum cum pontifice Romano contro∣versiis, vetuit ultra progredi, et hoc ipsum quod fuerat inchoatum, supprimi voluit, ut ejus pauca nunc extent exemplaria. — And in the same book, I saw some manuscript Page 359references to Casaubon's lettres, p. 628. 632, and 647. edit. Hag. — and to one place in Scaliger's letters, p. 345. ed. 1627. — Several places I turned to, and saw that Ca∣saubon hinted to his friends, that he was the author of the book De Ecclesiastica Anti∣quitate: and that Scaliger affirmed it (32.) — Page 360The words— Vetuit ultra progredi, et hos ipsum quod fuerat inchoatum supprimi voluit— accounts for this being published imperfect; which all that see it wonder at.
Many other extraordinary books and manuscripts I saw in this library, and a great number of fine curiosities; but I can only mention one particular more. Engraven on a beautiful Cornelian, I saw the Roman god of bounds, with these words, Concedo nulli: and one of the gentlemen asked me, what I sup∣posed the meaning of this design? The em∣blem (I answered) was a very just one, and in my opinion meant, that truth must never be given up. That (it was replied) was not the meaning of it, tho' my thought was not unjust. The design is to put one in mind of death, of which terminus is the justest Page 362emblem; and he says, Concedo nulli, I favour none, I suffer none to pass the limit. There is (continued the gentleman) a little curious history depends on this. Here is a gold me∣dallion, on one side of which you see the image of the great Erasmus, and on the other this fancy; which he always wore in a ring, and from thence I had the medallion struck. Erasmus asked the famous Carvajal, the Spanish cordelier, (just as I did you) what the meaning of this ring was. Carvajal, who had had some contests with Erasmus, and hated him greatly, said it owed its be∣ing, without all peradventure, to the pride of Erasmus, and meant, that he would ne∣ver yield, right or wrong, to any one in the republic of letters. Erasmus answered, that his explication was quite wrong, and that, on the contrary, he used the device, to kill his pride, and put him in mind of death, which suffers not the greatest men to pass the short limit of time allotted them. This pleased me much, and I resolved to get the fancy on a cornelian for a seal.
71. An account of several subterra∣nean cham∣bers, and an ascent in the inside of a moun∣tain from the bottom to the top.
Another extraordinary thing these gentlemen shewed me was a hole leading to some wonderful caverns in the side of a mountain, about a mile to the north of their house. It resembles at the entrance, Pen∣park-hole,Page 363in Gloucestershire (33) , within three miles of Bristol; but with this differ∣ence, that Penpark-hole was once a lead ore pit, and one is let down by ropes through two tunnels, to the chamber; whereas the entrance of the place I am speaking of is the work of nature, a steep and narrow descent of twenty-three yards, which I went down by having a rope under my arm, and setting my hands and feet against the sides of the Page 364passage, till I came to a flat rough rock, which opened 2 yards and a half one way, and 4 yards the other way. This little cavern was two yards high. We went from it into a more easy sloping way, which brought us down∣ward for thirteen yards, till we came to ano∣ther cavern, that was six yards long, and four and a half broad. Here we found a perpendicular tunnel, two yards wide, and sixty-seven yards deep; but where it went to, and what caused the noise below, the gentlemen who came thus far with me, could not tell; for they had never ventured into it, nor could they persuade any of their people to be let down to the bottom, tho' they had found by the lead that there was hard ground below. I will then, (I said) explore this subterranean realm, if you will let me and my lad down, with proper con∣veniences for an enquiry of the kind, and I dare say I will give you a good account of the region below. This (they answered) was not safe for me to do. I might perish many ways. The damps and vapours might kill me at once; or my lights by them might be put out, or kindle the vapour of the place below. But to this I said, that I was sure the noise we heard at the bottom was some running water, and wherever that was in the caverns of the earth, the air must be Page 365pure and good. So Mr. Boyle says in his general history of the air; and so I have often found it in my descents to the deepest mines. — As you please then; (the gentlemen re∣plied): you shall have every thing you can desire, and be let down very safely, however you may fare when you get to the ground: and when you want to come up, pull the packthread you have in your hand, that will be tied to a bell at the top of the tunnel, and you shall be immediately drawn up again. These things being agreed, they let me down in a proper basket the next morning at eight o'clock, with a lighted torch in my hand, and soon after my man Ralph followed with every thing I had required. I was more than half an hour going down, for the rope was given like a jack line from the engine it came from. I saw several dismal lateral holes by the way; but no mischief or inconvenience did I meet with in my passage to the ground.
When I came to the bottom, * I found I was in a chamber of a great extent, and tho' 103 yards from the day, breathed as free as if I had been above ground. A little river made a noise in its fall from a high rock, within four yards of the spot I landed on, and ran with impetuosity in a rough channel I knew not where. The water was not deep, as we found with our poles, and but three yards broad, and there∣fore Page 366we crossed it, at 100 yards from the fall, to get into a cavern that had an arched en∣trance, on the other side, within two yards of the stream. Our course to the crossing was due west, and then we went to the north, on passing the water, and walking up the second cave.
In it we ascended for 79 yards, an easy rising way, and then came to a swallow, in∣to which a river that ran towards us fell. Our course to this place was due north, but as the flood came from the west, we turned next to that point, and by the side of this water marched 50 yards. The cavern was so wide we could not see the walls, and the roof was of a vast height.
At the end of the 50 yards, the river ap∣peared due north again, and by its side we went for 10 more, till we came to another vast cavern, that was a steep ascending open∣ing, down which the river very musically came. This place was so like Pool's-hole, that I might think myself in the Peak. It was just such another grand opening, up the inside of a mountain, and had not only the descending flood, but as many beautiful stalactical concretions on the rising way; which formed the most beautiful pillars, walls, and figures of the finest carved work; but in this it differed from Pools-hole, that the as∣cending Page 367opening in Richmondshire is much wider; the rough, open steep, much higher to the roof; and this steep reaches to the summit of the vast hills, and ends in an opening in day. We came out this way on the top of an exceeding high mountain, after we had climbed from the bottom to the upper end 479 yards (34) : add to this 229 yards, the way we had come from the bot∣tom of the tunnel to the beginning of the watery steep, and our march through the Page 368mountain, from the time we parted with the gentlemen, to our getting out at the top of it, was 708 yards.
This was a laborious route, and at the ha∣zard of our lives, many times, performed. Once, in particular, my lad Ralph fell into the river with his torch in the great ascent, and in striving to save his life, I lost the other light I carried in my hand. This reduced us to a state of the blackest darkness, and in that condition, we could not stir. It was a horrible scene. It chilled my blood, and curdled it in my veins: but I had a tinder-box, matches, and wax-candle, in my pocket, and soon recovered the desir∣able light; at which we lit other torches, and proceeded to ascend the rough and rocky steep, till we came to the fountain that made the descending flood. The opening upwards from that became very narrow, and the slant so great, that it was extremely difficult to go on; but as I could see the day at the end of it, I resolved to strive hard, and mount, if possible, these remaining 60 yards. In short, we did the work. As before related, we Page 369came out this way, and from the dismal ca∣verns of night ascended to a delightful plain; from which we again beheld the glorious sun, and had the finest points of view. It was by this time noon, and under the shade of some aged trees, that grew on the banks of a great lake, on the summit of this vast hill, I sat down to some bread and wine I had brought with me for relief. Never was repast more sweet. I was not only fa∣tigued very much; but, had been in fear as to my ever climbing up, and knew not how to get down, when I had mounted two thirds of the way. The descent was a thousand times more dangerous than the going to∣wards the top.
72. We de∣scended from the top of the mountain, we had travelled through, and arrive at Mr. Har∣court's house.
When I had done, I walked about to see if there was any way down the moun∣tain's sides, to go to Ulubrae, from whence I came; but for miles it was a frightful per∣pendicular rock, next that place, and im∣possible for a goat to descend; and on the side that faced Bishoprick, and a fine country house and gardens, about a quarter of a mile off, in a delightful valley, that extended with all the beauties of wood and lawn, meadow and water, from the foot of the mountain I was on, the precipice here was a terrible way for a man to venture down; but it was possible to do it with a long pole, at Page 370the hazard of his life, as the rocks projected in many places, and the side went sloping off; and therefore I resolved to descend. I could not think of going back the way I came; since I had got safe into day again, I thought it better to risk my limbs in the face of the sun, than perish as I might do in the black and dismal inside of those tremendous hills. Besides, the house in my view, might be perhaps the one I wanted. It was possible my friend Turner might live there.
With art and caution then I began to de∣scend, and so happily took every offered ad∣vantage of jutting rock and path in my way, that without any accident I got in safety down; tho' the perils were so great, that often I could not reach from rock to rock with my pole. In this case, I aimed the point of my pole at the spot I intended to light on, and clapped my feet close to it, when I went off in the air from the rock: the pole coming first to the place broke the fall, and then sliding gently down by it, I pitched on the spot I designed to go to, though six, seven, or eight fathom off, and the part of the rock below not more than a yard broad. It is a frightful piece of activity to a by∣stander; but the youths on the moun∣tains of Ireland make nothing of it: they are as expert at this work as the TeneriffPage 371men: from them I learned it; and made Ralph so perfect in the action, while he tra∣velled with me, that he could go from rock to rock like a bird.
My arrival here, Sir, (I replied) is to be sure very strange, and would be almost in∣credible to hear told by another person, of one that journeyed 229 yards deep, to the foundation of this Alp, on the other side of it, then ascended a hollow way, till he got out at the top, and came down a high and frightful precipice to the vale below: But here I am a proof of the fact. I will ex∣plain how it was done; and I began to re∣late every particular at large.
But tell me, Sir, (Miss Harcourt said) if you please, why did you not return the way you came; since the other side of the moun∣tain is impossible to descend, as you inform us, on account of its being a perpendicular steep; and that you must have hazarded your life a thousand times, in coming down the way you did with the pole? I tremble as I look at the place, and only with fancy's eye, see you on the descent. Beside, the gentlemen you left on the other side of the hill, will conclude you lost, and be very greatly troubled on the account.
My reason, Madam, (I answering, said) for coming down this very dangerous way, Page 373was, because I thought it, with all its perils, much safer than the inside road I had come. My activity, I had reason to think, was su∣perior to the difficulties of the outward way, and if I should fall, it would be in the light of heaven, with a human habitation in view, that might afford me some relief, if I only broke my bones; but, if in descending the very steep and horrible caverns of the hill, which with the greatest difficulty I climbed up, I should happen to get a fall, as in all human probability I would, and break a limb in these most dismal cavities of eternal night, I must have perished in the most miser∣able manner, without a possibility of obtaining any relief. Nor is this all, madam. The thing that brought me here among the mountains of Richmondshire, was to find a gentleman of my acquaintance, and when I saw your house from the top of the mountain, I did not know but it might be his. I fansied it was, as the situation answered my friend's description of the spot he lived on.
And if it had been his, madam, it would have put an end to all my toils; for I am a wanderer upon the face of the earth, through the cruelty of a mother-in-law; and the un∣reasonableness of a rich father; who has for∣saken me, because I will not submit to the declarations and decisions of weak and fal∣lible men, in matters of pure revelation and Page 374divine faith, and own the infallibility of the orthodox system. Because the assent of my mind could not go beyond the perception of my understanding, and I would not allow that the popular confession is the faith once delivered to the saints, therefore I was thrown off, and obliged to become the pilgrim you see before you.
This history of a forlorn seemed stranger to the young lady and her father than even the account of my journey through the in∣side of a mountain, and down a precipice that a goat would scarce venture. They were both very greatly amazed at my relation, and Mr. Harcourt was going to ask me some ques∣tions, when one of his servants came to let him know that dinner was serving up, and by this put an end to our conversation. The master of the house brought me into a fine room, and I saw on the table an elegant dinner: there was likewise a grand sideboard, and se∣veral men servants attending: miss Harcourt sat at the head of the table, and at her right hand two young ladies, vastly handsome, whom I shall have occasion to mention here∣after in this journal: two ladies more were on the other side of her, pretty women, but no beauties; and next them sat three gentle∣men; sensible, well-behaved men; one of them a master of musick, the other a master Page 375languages, and the third a great painter; who were kept in the house on large salaries, to teach the young lady these things: Mr. Harcourt placed me by himself, and was not only ex∣tremely civil, but manifested a kind of fond∣ness as if he was well pleased with my arri∣val. He and his daughter took great care of me, and treated me as if I had been a man of distinction rather than the poor pil∣grim they saw me, with my staff in my hand. The young lady talked to me in a very pleasant manner, and as I saw the whole company were inclined to be very chearful, I clubbed as much as I could to promote good-humour, and encrease the festivity of the table. We laughed the afternoon away in a charming manner, and when we had done, we all went to walk in the gardens. Here the company soon separated, as the various beauties of the place inclined various minds to different things and parts. Some, pensive roamed in shady walks; some sat by playing fountains; and others went to gather fruits and flowers. I had the honour to walk with Miss Harcourt to a canal at some distance, and as we went, this young lady told me, she did not well understand me as to what I had said of religion being concerned in my becoming a traveller, and desired me to be a little more particular. That I will, Page 376and immediately proceeded in the following manner.
73. A discourse with miss Harcourt in relation to my re∣ligion.
My father, madam, is a man of great learning, virtue and knowledge, but ortho∣dox to the last degree, and sent me to the university on purpose to make me a theologer, that I might be an able defender of the Creed of St. Athanasius, and convince the poor people of the country he lived in, and in good time (he fondly hoped) the inhabitants of many other countries; that notwithstand∣ing the symbol I have mentioned is what no human apprehension can comprehend, and the judgment hath nothing to act on in the consideration of it;—that there is nothing to be understood in that symbol, nor can a man form any determination of the matter therein contained; — yet they must believe this great and awful mystery: that three per∣sons and Gods are only one person and God; and, on peril of eternal misery, they must confess that, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, tho' three Beings, as distinct as any three things in the universe, yet are only one Being. This mystery I was to preach up in his church, (a church in a field, near his house, to which he had the right of presenting,) and enflame the people against reason, that trai∣tor to God and religion, which our adver∣saries, the Christian deists, would make Lord and King in opposition to faith. I Page 377was to tell my beloved, that reason is a car∣nal sensual devil, and that instead of heark∣ening to this tempter, they must assent to those heavenly propositions, which give wis∣dom without ideas, and certainty without knowledge. You must believe, my beloved, that none is before or after the other. — None is greater or less than another. The infidels call this an unintelligible piece of non∣sense: but it is, my beloved, a very tran∣scendent mystery. It does, we must own, stagger and astonish us, being a thing beyond our reach to comprehend; but, it must be believed, on peril of eternal misery, as I be∣fore observed: and it is easy to be believed, for this plain reason, (given by a very learned and pious bishop of our church) to wit, that it is too high to be by us comprehended. This was the opinion of that great prelate, Dr. Beveridge, in his Private Thoughts, p. 52. to which book I refer you, my beloved, for more of his admirable reasoning on this ca∣pital article, and farther observe to you, that not only this most pious bishop, and many other most excellent prelates were of this way of thinking; but all the most admirable divines have declared in their sermons, and other matchless writings, that the more incre∣dible the Athanasian creed is, and the fuller of contradictions, the more honour we do to our God in believing it. It is the glory of orthodox Christians, that their faith is not Page 378only contrary to the carnal mind, but even to the most exalted reason. In matters of faith, we must renounce our reason, even tho' it be the only thing that distinguishes us from the beasts, and makes us capable of any religion at all. No human arguments are to interfere in this victorious principle: the catholic faith is the reverse of rational re∣ligion, and except a man believe it faith∣fully, he must go into everlasting fire and brimstone (35) .
In this manner, madam, like a mad bigot, a flaming zealot, and a sublime believer, was I to preach to the people of Ireland, and be Page 379an apostle for that faith which is an obedi∣ence to unreasonable commands: but un∣fortunately, for my father's design; and for∣tunately, for my soul; I was, on entring the university, put into the hands of a gentle∣man, who abhorred modern orthodoxy, and made the essential constitutive happiness and perfection of every intelligent being consist in the conformity of our mind to the moral rectitude of the Divine Nature. This ex∣cellent man convinced my understanding, that even faith in Christ is of an inferior na∣ture to this: it is only the means to obtain it. Such a conformity and obedience of the heart and conscience to the will of God ought to be my religion, as it was the religion of our Saviour himself.
Thus, madam, was I instructed by a mas∣ter of arts, my private tutor, and when to his lessons I added my own careful exami∣nations of the vulgar faith, and the mind of our Lord as I found it in the books, I was thoroughly satisfied, that an act of faith is an act of reason, and an act of reason an act of faith, in religious matters; — that our Lord was not the great God; nor a part of that compound, called the Triune-God; the miserable invention of divines; but, a more extraordinary messenger than the prophets under the law, chosen by the divine wisdom, to publish the will of God to mankind, and sent under the character of his son, and spi∣ritual Page 380heir of his inheritance the church, to new form the ages, and fix such good prin∣cipes in the minds of men, as would be productive of all righteousness in the con∣versation: that he was sent to destroy sin and the kingdom of Satan; and to bring the human race to a perfect obedience to the will of the Supreme Being.
All this, madam, was as plain to me as the sun in summer's bright day; and there∣fore, instead of laying aside my understand∣ing, and believing things without any ratio∣nal ground or evidence at all; — instead of going into order, to draw revealed con∣clusions from revealed propositions, and by a deep logic, make scripture consequences, that have no meaning in the words, for the faith of the people; I was so free and inge∣nuous as to let my father know, that of all things in the world I never would be a par∣son, since the character obliged me to swear and subscribe to articles I could not find in my bible; nor would I, as a layman, ever read, or join in the service of reading the tritheistic liturgy and offices he used in his family. I was determined, tho' I lost his favor and large fortune by the resolution; to live and die a Christian deist; confessing be∣fore men the personal unity and perfections of the true God, and the personal mediatorial office of Jesus Christ. As St. Paul mentained the personal unity and absolute supremacy of Page 381the true God, and in his description of the Deity, did not tell the Athenians, that he was a Triune Being, to be considered under the notion of three persons, of three under∣standings and wills, in a co-ordinate triplicity of all divine attributes and perfections; but one individual personal Agent, — one great Spirit, or mind, self-existent, and omnipotent in wisdom and action — one Supreme Al∣mighty Creator and Governor of the world, — the God and Father of Jesus Christ; I shall therefore, in obedience to the apostle, and to the other inspired writers, believe in an worship the same God, the One God, the only true God, as our Lord says in Matthew and Mark; — through the alone media∣tion and intercession of Jesus Christ, our Re∣deemer and only begotten Son of God; — depending upon the effectual aid and assist∣ance of the blessed Spirit, in hope of a glo∣rious immortality. This is,—this shall be my religion, whatever I may feel from an antichristian tyranny, on account of the con∣fession.—Tho' an outrage of uncharitable zeal should strip me of every worldly com∣fort, and reduce me to a want of bread.—If I should become a spectacle to men and angels by this faith, yet I will believe as Je∣sus Christ and his apostles have ordered the world to believe. — No unintelligible cant, or scholastic jargon for me. The Holy Ghost has in scripture expressed it sufficiently and Page 382unexceptionably clear, — that there is One Supreme Independent First-Cause of all things, a Spirit, that is, One Spirit, One God: I am God, and there is none like me: I am God, and there is none else; beside Me; with Me; none but Me. — Thus does the Holy Ghost declare; and what signify the despi∣cable, heretical declarations of the doctors, in respect of this?
Then, as a test of Christianity, the same blessed Spirit adds, — that Jesus is the true Messiah, was sent from God to reveal his will for the salvation of man, and is the only Mediator betwixt God and man. Thus has the Holy Ghost regulated our faith and prac∣tice, and I think it incumbent on me to mind what he says, and flee the invented pieties of our theologers.—I did so, and disobliged my father. I lost his favor intirely. He would take no farther notice of me, and I became as you see a wanderer.
This discourse, delivered with my fire and action, amazed Miss Harcourt so greatly, that for some time after I had done, she could not speak, but continued looking with great earnestness at me. At last however she said, I am glad, Sir, it has been my fate to meet with you, and must, when there is more time, converse with you on this sub∣ject. My father and I have had some doubts as to the truth of the Athanasian creed; but he told me, he did not chuse to examine the Page 383thing, as it had the sanction of ages, and was believed by the greatest divines in all nations. If it be wrong, let the church∣men answer for it. But this does not satisfy me; and since I have seen one that has for∣saken all rather than live a disciple of Atha∣nasius, after a thorough examination of the system; and that you have now said some things against it that shew the folly of be∣lieving it, and make it a faith the most pre∣posterous and unreasonable, I am determined to enquire into the merit of it, and see if christians ought to acknowledge the supreme dominion and authority of God the Father; — that the Father is absolutely God, the great God in the absolute supreme sense by na∣ture; and the Son, only a God by communi∣cation of divinity from the Father, that is, by having received from the Father, the Su∣preme Cause, his being, attributes, and power over the whole creation: — or, if they ought to ascribe supreme authority, and original independent absolute dominion to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; three distinct supreme gods, and yet but one supreme God, as the church informs us in her famous creed, and thereby makes us swallow a contradiciton, as I have often thought, and a doctrine against which a great number of texts can be produced. This I will examine. My reason shall be no lon∣ger silent in so important a case. If a Page 384Trinity in unity of equal minds or gods is not to be proved by the inspired writings, the doctors preaching it, and by creed re∣quiring it, will be no justifiable plea or ex∣cuse for me, I am sensible, in the great rising day. I had better, in such case, leave all as you have bravely done, were my fa∣ther so orthodox and furious a bigot as to force me to be a religionist against my con∣science. What I have to beg of you, Sir, (Miss Harcourt continued) is, that you will to-morrow, oblige me with your thoughts on the texts I have marked, as produced by or∣thodox divines for their mysterious religion. If you make me sensible that those texts do not prove the doctrine they are brought for, and of consequence, that the doctrine of the trinity as by them taught, is the work of uninspired writers, I shall renounce it to be sure. I will no longer mistake contradic∣tions for mysteries. The schemes and in∣ventions of men shall not pass with me for the revelations of God (36) .
74. Mr. Har∣court's ob∣servation on our dis∣course, and generous offer to me.
Here Mr. Harcourt came up to us, and desired to know, (if it was a fair ques∣tion) what we two had been talking so ear∣nestly on; for it seemed at a distance to be something more than ordinary. I will tell you, Sir, his daughter replied, and imme∣diately began to relate the whole conference, and her resolution. Your resolution (the father said) is excellent. You have not only my consent, but I recommend it to you as the noblest work you can employ any time on. For my part, Sir, (Mr. Harcourt con∣tinued, turning himself to me) I never liked this part of our protestant religion, and have often wished our public prayers had been more conformable to the simplicity of the gospel; that we had been contented with what our Master and the Holy Spirit deli∣vered, and not made human compositions the standard of salvation: but since the church in her wisdom has thought it should be otherwise, I have submitted to her authority, and been silent on the doctrines she claims a right to determine; though some of them to me appear doubtful, and others repugnant to scripture: beside, my studies have been in other fields than that of controversy: mathe∣matics and antiquities have employed my time, and I have neither taste nor capacity for that criticism which is necessary for the Page 386examination of such points: greatly however do I honour those who have the ability and patience to go through the work, as I must own it is of the most importance, and that the orthodox faith is a sad thing, if the truth be, after all our Athanasian believing, that Christ is no more than God's instrument, as St. Peter and St. Paul name him; a succes∣ful teacher of wisdom, righteousness, sanctifi∣cation, and redemption: and that God is to be owned and praised, as the true, chief, and original cause of all spiritual blessings, accord∣ing to the counsel of his own will, his own good pleasure, purpose, etc. without partner or se∣cond person, to intreat and satisfy for us. If this be the case, may the Lord have mercy on our poor orthodox souls: and as it may be so, I honour you for enquiring into the matter, and especially for your good Spirit in prefering the things that are eternal, when what you thought truth could not be held with things temporal. I have (Mr. Harcourt continued) a very great esteem for you on this account, and if I can be of ser∣vice to you, I will. He imagined I might want money, and if I did, he would lend me a hundred guineas, without interest, pay∣able on my note of hand, when I could. He immediately took out of his pocket-book a bank note for that sum, and pressed me to Page 387accept it. He likewise invited me to stay at his house, while he continued in the coun∣try, which would be for a month longer. He assured me also, that I might make it my residence after he left it, if I pleased: there would be two servants to attend me, and there was excellent mutton, and other things, for my table. Nor is this all; you shall have the key of my study.
These offers astonished me, and I said, most generous Sir, I return you the thanks of a grateful heart, and will ever remember your goodness to me with that sense such un∣common kindness deserves, tho' I cannot en∣joy the benefits you would make me happy with. As to money, I do not want any yet, and when I do, it will be time enough for me to borrow, if I should find any one, like you, so benevolently disposed as to lend me cash without security and interest: and as to staying at your house, that offer I cannot accept, as I am engaged to a near and rich friend, who will be to me a subaltern provi∣dence, if he can be found, and secure me from the evils my attachment to truth has exposed me to. One week however I will stay with you, since you are so good as to invite me in this kind manner.
Here then I stayed a week, and passed it in a most happy way. Mr. Harcourt was Page 388fond of me, and did every thing in his power to render the place agreeable. His lovely daughter was not only as civil as it was pos∣sible to be, but did me the honour to com∣mence a friendship with me, which lasted from that time till death destroyed the gol∣den thread that linked it.
75. An account of Harriot Eusebia Harcourt.
Reader, this young lady, Harriot Eusebia Harcourt, was the foundress of a re∣ligious house of protestant recluses, who are still a society in that part of Richmondshire where first I saw her and her father. They are under no vow, but while they please to continue members, live as they do in nun∣neries, and in piety, and in all the parts of the christian temper, endeavour a resem∣blance of their divine Lord and Master; with this distinction however, that to the plan of the regards due from man by the divine Law to God, to his fellow-creatures, and to him∣self, they add musick and painting for their diversion, and unbend their minds in these delightful arts, for a few hours every day. This makes them excel in these particulars. They are great masters in all kinds of mu∣sick, and do wonders with the pencil.
Eusebia was but just turned of twenty when I first saw her, in the year 1725, and then her musical performances were admi∣rable — her pictures had the ordonnance, Page 389colouring, and expression of a great master. She was born with a picturesque genius, and a capacity to give measure and movement to compositions of harmony. Her music at the time I am speaking of had a most surprizing power: and in painting, long before this time, she astonished. When she was a child, nine years old, and had no master, she would sketch with a black lead pencil on a sheet of paper the pictures of various kinds that came in her way, and make such imi∣tations as deserved the attention of judges. This made her father get her an eminent master, and she had not been long under his direction, when she was able to infuse a soul into her figures, and motion into her com∣positions. She not only drew landskips, and low subjects with a success great as Teniers, but evinced by her paintings, that she brought into the world with her an aptitude for works of a superior class. Her pictures shew that she was not the last among the painters of history. They are as valuable for the merit of the execution as for the merit of the subjects.
76. An account of Mrs. Harcourt's pictures of the Reve∣lations of S. John.
Her histories of the revelations of St. John, which she finished a little before her death, from the first vision to the last, de∣monstrate a genius very wonderful, and that her hand was perfected at the same time Page 390with her imagination. If this series of pic∣tures is not in every respect equal to Giotto's on the same subject, (which I have seen in the cloyster of St. Clare at Naples), yet these paintings are treated with greater truth, and shew that the imagination of the painter had a hand and eye at its disposal to display the finest and compleatest ideas. The great artist is obvious in them.
The apostle, St. John, appears in great admiration, on account of the things before him, but seems more particularly affected by a book sealed with seven seals, which the person who sits on the throne holds in his right-hand;—an angel who is painted in the act of proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof — and a lamb with seven horns and eyes, standing just before the throne, within the circles of the cherubim and elders: this Lamb, represented as a sacrifice, and with seven horns and eyes, to shew the pow∣er, wisdom, and goodness of our Lord in the work of redemption, and the accom∣plishment of all God's designs of wis∣dom and grace, engages the attention and wonder of the apostle; and as this Lamb of God receives the book from the person on the throne, a rising joy appears through the astonishment of St. John, and seems to be encreasing, as he hears the living creatures and the elders sing a new song, or hymn of a new composition, which expresses the pe∣culiar Page 396honour of the Son of God, and our peculiar engagements to him, in these words — Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and na∣tion. — Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, and wisdom and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. — Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him, that sitteth upon, the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. — And as the angels conclude this solemn act of wor∣ship by saying, Amen; and the people by wor∣shipping him that liveth for ever and ever, the true God, who liveth and reigneth from everlasting to everlasting; and having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you in turn∣ing every one of you from his iniquities; the apostle seems in pleasure to join them, and shews a sensibility and action that is very wonderful. It is a charming picture. The divine artist has treated the whole subject with the most elaborate and beautiful expression, and with a delightful richness of local co∣lours. This painting gives the beholder a full and fine idea of the vision(38.)
77. Miss Har∣court's cha∣racter.
But it was not only in painting, and in musick, that Miss Harcourt excelled: she had, when I first saw her, made great pro∣gress in her studies, and discovered in her conversation extraordinary abilities. She talked wisely and learnedly on many subjects, and in so charming a manner, that she entered into the possession of the heart, and the ad∣miration of all that heard her: nor was it only in pure Italian, Spanish, and other lan∣guages that she could express her notions; but, in he correctest Latin she often spoke to me, and for an hour would discourse in the Roman tongue, with as great ease as if she had been talking English. She spoke it without any manner of difficulty, which was more than I could do. I was slow, and paused sometimes; but this young lady went on with that volubility of tongue the women are born with. The language being Latin was no check to her natural fluency of speech.
To all this let me add, and with truth I can add it, that Eusebia, from the time I was first acquainted with her to her death, walked in the fear of the Lord, and of consequence, in the comforts of the Holy Ghost. Reli∣gion Page 398from her infancy as her stated and or∣dinary business, and her sole concern to know and do her duty to God and men. The Proverbs of Solomon, and the pattern of Christ, were her study when a very young girl, and from both she acquired a conduct so prudent and evangelical, that she seemed at the greatest heights of grace and goodness which a mortal can reach, and appeared as one that had made a prodigious proficiency in divine knowledge, and in every virtue: yet there was nothing gloomy, or even for∣mal in her behaviour: she was good-hu∣mour itself: frank and free; quite easy, and for ever chearful.
This Lady was nine years abroad with her father, who died of the plague at Constanti∣nople Page 399in 1733, and in the course of her tra∣vels, did me the honour to write me many fine letters, in which she obliged me with her remarks on the things and people they saw in many countries. We held a corre∣spondence together, for a considerable part of the time, and in return for her valuable favours, I sent her the best account I could give of the matters that came in my way. These letters may perhaps appear some day.
In the year 34 Mrs. Harcourt returned to England, and brought over with her some ladies, who became constituents of her clau∣stral house. They formed the most rational and happy society that ever united, and du∣ring the life of the foundress, resided some∣times in one of the Western Islands, but for the most part in Richmondshire. Since her death, which happend in the year 45, they have lived intirely in the North of England, se∣parated from all the world by the most dread∣ful mountains. They were but twelve in number for several years, but, in the sixth year of the Instituto, Mrs. Harcourt en∣creased it to twenty-four members, by taking in twelve eleves or disciples. The twelve seniors govern a year about in their turns, un∣less it be the request of the house, that the superior for the year past should continue in the office another year. This, and their easy Page 400circumstances, secure their peace, and as they are ever wise to that which is good, and simple concerning evil, they lead most happy lives: nor can it be otherwise with mortals who cultivate the grace of humility (the want of which lies at the bottom of all contentions,) and by a christian prudence, make it their main work to facilitate the practice of piety, and to promote the plea∣sure and the lustre of it. Glorious women! to letters, arts, and piety, they devote those hours which others waste in vanities the most senseless and despicable; and pursuant to the advice, and according to the rule drawn up by their illustrious foundress, live as beings that have souls designed for eternity. They act continually upon a future prospect, and give all diligence in making constant advances toward the perfect day. Mrs. Harcourt shewed them what an uninspired mortal could do by the means of grace: that it was pos∣sible for assisted human nature (feeble as flesh and blood is) to resist temptations the most violent, and by the supreme motives of our religion, acquit ourselves like chri∣stians. If there be a devil to assault, a cor∣rupt heart to oppose, and many difficulties to be encountred, yet her conduct was a de∣monstration, that those who are heirs of the heavenly country, may chuse and pro∣secute Page 401their best interests, and improve the divine life to a high degree. Let us (she used to say) make salvation not only a con∣cern on the bye, but the governing aim thro' the present life, and we shall not only live like the primitive christians, but die for our holy faith, with more resolution than the worthies of Greece and Rome, tho' death should appear in all his array of terrors. Neither adversity nor prosperity could then tempt us to drop a grain of incense before any idol, or commit any action that dishonoured the gospel. Let what will happen, in all events, we should secure the future happi∣ness of our souls, and thereby provide for the everlasting glory and felicity of our bo∣dies too in the morning of the resurrection.
78. 1725. Our return to Ulubrae by a dan∣gerous way.
The twenty-fifth day of June I took my leave of Miss Harcourt and her father, and the rest of the good company, and on horses I borrowed, we returned to the philosophers at Ulubrae. It was nineteen miles round of most terrible road; a great part of it being deep and swampy bottom, with holes up to the horses shoulders in some places; and for several miles, we were o∣bliged to ride on the sides of very steep and craggy mountains, in a path so very narrow, that we risked life, and passed in terror: a wrong step would have been destruction be∣yond Page 402recovery. It was likewise no small perplexity to find, that I was going back again, the course being south and south∣west; and that there was no other way of journeying from Mr. Harcourt's to Ulubrae, but through the pass I first travelled from Westmorland; unless I rid from Mr. Har∣court's into Cumberland, and then round through Bishoprick to the valley the gen∣tlemen lived in. On then I went at all hazards, and in a tedious manner was forced to creep the way: but to make some amends, the prospects from the hills were fine, and things very curious occurred. Groupes of crests of mountains appeared here and there, like large cities with towers and old Gothick edifices, and from caverns in their sides torrents of water streamed out, and tumbled in various courses to the most delightful vales below. In some of the vast hills there were openings quite through, so as to see the sun, at the end of three or four thousand yards; and in many of them were sloping caverns, very wonderful to behold.
79. A fine chamber in a moun∣tain, and a passage from the room to a valley on the other side of the vast preci∣pice.
I found in one of them, near the top of a very high mountain, a descent like steps of stairs, that was in breadth and height like the isle of a church, for 300 yards, and then ended at a kind of door, or small arched opening, that was high enough Page 403for a tall man to walk into a grand room which it led to. This chamber was a square of 17 yards, and had an arched roof about 20 high. The stone of it was a green marble, not earthy and opake, but pure and crystalline, which made it appear very beautiful, as the walls were as smooth as if the best polish had made them so. There was another opening or door at the other side of this chamber, and from it likewise went a descent like steps, but the down∣ward passage here was much steeper than the other I had come to, and the opening not more than one third as wide and high; nar∣rowing gradually to the bottom of the sloping road, till it ended in a round hole, a yard and a quarter every way. I could see the day at the opening below, tho' it seemed at a great distance from me, and as it was not dangerous to descend, I determined to go down.
The descent was 479 yards in a straight line, and opened in a view of meadows, scattered trees, and streams, that were en∣chantingly fine. There appeared to be about four and twenty acres of fine land, quite surrounded with the most frightful precipices in the world, and in the center of it a neat and pretty little country house, on an easy rising ground. I could discover with my long Page 404glass a young and handsome woman sitting at the door, engaged in needle-work of some kind; and on the margin of a brook hard by, another charmer stood, angling for fish of some sort: a garden appeared near the mansion that was well improved; and in the fields were sheep and goats, horses, and cows: cocks and hens, ducks and geese, were walking about the ground; and I could perceive a college of bees. The whole formed a charming scene.
80. An account of the inha∣bitants of the valley I came into.
Pleased with the view, and impatient to know who the two charmers were, I quite forgot the poor situation in which I left Tim, holding the horses at the mouth of the cavern, on the dangerous side of so high a hill, and proceeded immediately to the house, as soon as I had recovered myself from a fall. My foot slipt in the passage, about six yards from the day, and I came rolling out of the mountain in a violent and surprizing manner. It was just mid-day when I came up to the ladies, and as they did not see me till they chanced to turn round, they were so amazed at my appearing, they changed colour, and one of them shrieked aloud; but this fright was soon over, on my assuring them that I was their most humble servant, and had against my will tumbled out of the hole that was at the bottom of that vast mountain before them. This I explained, Page 405and protested that I had not a thought of paying them a visit, when curiosity led me into an opening near the top of the hill, as I was travelling on; but that when I did get through so wonderful a passage, and saw what was still more strange, when I arrived in the vale, to wit, two ladies, in so wild and silent a place, I judged it my duty to pay my respects, and ask if you had any commands that I could execute in the world? This was polite, they said, and gave me thanks; but told me, they had no favor to ask than that I would dine with them, and inform them how it happened that I was obliged to travel over these scarce passable mountains, where there was no society nor support to be had. Beside, if in riding here, you should receive a mischief, there was not a possibility of getting any relief. There must be something very extraordinary surely, that could cause you to journey over such frightful hills, and through the deep bottoms at the foot of them.
Ladies (I replied), necessity and curiosity united are the spring that move me over these mountains, and enable me to bear the hardships I meet with in these ways. Forced from home by the cruelties of a step-mother, and forsaken by my father on her account, I am wandering about the precipices of Rich∣mondshire in search of a gentleman, my Friend; to whose hospitable house and gene∣rous Page 406breast I should be welcome, if I could find out where he lives in some part of this remote and desolate region: and as my cu∣riosity is more than ordinary, and I love to contemplate the works of nature, which are very grand and astonishing in this part of the world, I have gone many a mile out of my way while I have been looking for several days past for my friend, and have ventured into places where very few I believe would go. It was this taste for natural knowledge that travelled me down the inside of the mountain I am just come out of. If I had not had it, I should never have known there was so delightful a little country here as what I now see: nor should I have had the honor and happiness of being known to you.
But tell me, Sir, (one of these beauties said) how have you lived for several days among these rocks and desart places, as there are no inns in this country, nor a house, ex∣cept this here, that we know? are you the favorite of the fairies and genies — or does the wise man of the hills bring you every night in a cloud to his home?
It looks something like it, madam, (I answering said) and the thing to be sure must appear very strange: but it is like other strange things: when the nature of them is known, they appear easy and plain. This Page 407country I find consists, for the most part, of ranges and groups of mountains horrible to behold, and of bogs, deep swampy narrow bottoms, and waters that fall and run innu∣merable ways: but this is not always the case: like the charming plain I am now on, there are many flowery and delicious exten∣sive pieces of ground, enclosed by vast sur∣rounding hills — the finest intervals be∣twixt the mountains: the sweetest interchange between hill and valley, I believe in all the world, is to be found in Richmondshire, and in several of those delightful vales I disco∣vered inhabitants as in this place: but the houses are so separated by fells scarce passable, and torrents of water, that those who live in the centre of one group of mountains know not any thing of agreeable inhabitants that may dwell on the other side of the hills in an adjacent vale. If there had been a fine spot at the bottom of the precipice I found the opening in, and people living there, (as might have been the case) you ladies who live here, could have no notion of them, as you knew nothing of a passage from the foot to the summit of yonder mountain, within side of the vast hill, and if you did, would never venture to visit that way; and as there is not a pass in this chain of hills, to ride or walk through, to the other side of them: but the way out of this valley we are now Page 408in, as I judge from the trending of the mountains all round us, must be an opening into some part of Cumberland. For this reason Stanemore hills may have several fa∣milies among them, tho' you have never heard of them, and I will now give you an account of some, who behaved in the most kind and generous manner to me. Here I be∣gan to relate some particulars concerning my friend Price and his excellent wife; the ad∣mirable Mrs. Burcot and Mrs. Fletcher; the philosophers who lived at Ulubrae, to whom I was returning; and the generous Mr. Har∣court, and his excellent daughter, whom I left in the morning; and at whose house I arrived by travelling up the dark bowels of a tremendous mountain; as, on the contrary, I arrived at theirs by a descent through yon∣der frightful hill, till I came rolling out by a fall within, in a very surprising and comical way; a way that would have made you laugh, ladies; or, in a fright, cry out, if you had happened to be walk∣ing near the hole or opening in the bot∣tom of that hill, when, by a slip of my foot, in descending, a few yards from the day, I tumbled over and over, not only down what remained of the dark steep within, but the high sloping bank that reaches from the the outside of the opening to the first flat part of the vale. There is nothing wonderful Page 409then in my living in this lone country for so many days. The only strange thing is, con∣sidering the waters and swamps, that I was not drowned; or, an account of the preci∣pices and descents I have been engaged on, that I did not break my neck, or my bones: but so long we are to live as Providence hath appointed for the accomplishment of the grand divine scheme. Till the part allotted us is acted, we are secure. When it is done, we must go, and leave the stage for other players to come on.
The ladies seemed greatly entertained with my histories, and especially with my tumb∣ling out of the mountain into their vale. They laughed very heartily; but told me, if they had happened to be sitting near the hole, in the bottom of that tremendous rocky mountain, as they sometimes did, and often wondered where the opening went to, and that I had come rolling down upon them, they would have been frightened out of their senses; for they must have thought it a very strange appearance: without hear∣ing the history of it, they must think it a prodigious occurrence, or exception from the constant affairs of nature.
This might be, ladies, (I answered,) but from seeing me before your eyes you must own, that many things may be fact, which at first may seem to exceed the common li∣mits Page 410of truth. Impossible or supernatural some people conclude many cases to be that have not the least difficulty in them, but happen to be made of occurrences and places they have not seen, nor heard the like of before. Things thought prodigious or in∣credible by ignorance and weakness, will appear to right knowledge and a due judg∣ment very natural and accountable to the thoughts.
Here a footman came up to us, to let his mistress know that dinner was on the table, and we immediately went in to an excellent one. The ladies were very civil to me, and exerted a good humour to shew me, I sup∣pose, that my arrival was not disagreeable to them, tho' I tumbled upon their habitation, like the genie of the caverns, from the hol∣lows of the mountains. They talked in an easy, rational manner, and asked me many questions that shewed they were no strangers to books and men and things: but at last it came to pass, that the eldest of those ladies, who acted as mistress of the house, and seem∣ed to be about one or two and twenty, desired to know the name of the gentleman I was looking for among these hills, and called my friend. My reason, Sir, for asking is, that you answer so exactly in face and person to a description of a gentleman I heard not very Page 411long ago, that I imagine it may be in my power to direct you right.
Madam, (I replied), the gentleman I am in search of is Charles Turner, who was my schoolfellow, and my senior by a year in the university, which he left two years before I did, and went from Dublin to the north of England, to inherit a paternal estate on the decease of his father. There was an uncom∣mon friendship between this excellent young man and me, and he made me promise him, in a solemn manner, to call upon him as soon as it was in my power; assuring me at the same time, that if by any changes and chances in this lower hemisphere, I was ever brought into any perplexities, and he alive, I should be welcome to him and what he had, and share in his happiness in this world, while I pleased. This is the man I want: a man, for his years, one of the wisest and best of the race. His honest heart had no design in words. He ever spoke what he meant, and therefore, I am sure he is my friend
To this the lady answered, Sir, since Charles Turner is the man you want, your enquiry is at an end, for you are now at his house; and I, who am his sister, bid you welcome to Skelsmore-Vale in his name. He has been for a year and a half last past in Italy, and a little before he went, gave me such a description of you as enabled me to Page 412guess who you were after I had looked a while at you, and he added to his descrip∣tion a request to me, that if you should chance to call here, while I happened to be in the country, that I would receive you, as if you were himself; and when I removed, if I could not, or did not chuse to stay lon∣ger in the country, that I would make you an offer of the house, and give you up all the keys of it, to make use of it and his ser∣vants, and the best things the place affords, till his return; which is to be, he says, in less than a year. Now, Sir, in regard to my brother and his friend, I not only offer you what he desired I should, but I will stay a month here longer than I intended; for this lady, (my cousin, Martha Jacquelot) and I, had determined to go to Scarborough next week, and from thence to London: nor is this all: as I know I shall the more oblige my brother the civiller I am to you, I will, when the Scarborough season is over, if you chuse to spend the winter here, come back to Skelsmore-Vale, and stay till Mr. Turner returns.
This discourse astonished me to the last degree — to hear that I was at my friend Turner's house, — he abroad, and to be so for another year: the possession of his seat offered me; and his charming sister so very civil and good, as to assure me she would Page 413return from the Spaw, and stay with me till her brother came home: these were things so unexpected and extraordinary, that I was for some time silent, and at a loss what to say. I paused for some minutes, with my eyes fastened on this beauty, and then said — Miss Turner, the account you have given of your brother, and the information that I am now at his house — his friendly of∣fers to me by you, and your prodigious ci∣vility, in resolving to return from Scar∣borough, to stay with me here till your bro∣ther arrives, are things so strange, so un∣common, and exceedingly generous and kind, that I am quite amazed at what I hear, and want words to express my obligations, and the grateful sense I have of such favors. Accept my thanks, and be assured, that while I live, I shall properly remember the civility and benevolence of this day; and be ever ready, if occasion offered, and the fates should put it in my power, to make a due return. Your offer, madam, in particular, is so high an honour done me, and shews a spirit so hu∣mane, as I told you I was an unfortunate one, that I shall ever think of it with plea∣sure, and mention it as a rare instance of female worth: but as to accepting these most kind offers, I cannot do it. Since Mr. Tur∣ner is from home, I will go and visit another friend I have in this country, to whom I Page 414shall be welcome, I believe, till your bro∣ther returns. To live by myself here at my friend's expence, would not be right, nor agreeable to me: and as to confining you, madam, in staying with me, I would not do it for the world. Sir, (Miss Turner replied) in respect of my staying here, it will be no confinement to me, I assure you. My heart is not set upon going to London. It was only want of company made Miss Jacquelot and me think of it, and if you will stay with us, we will not even go to Scarborough this season. — This was goodness indeed: but against staying longer than two or three days, I had many good reasons that made it necessary for me to depart: beside the un∣reasonableness of my being an expence to Mr. Turner in his absence, or confining his sister to the country; there was Orton-Lodge, where I had left O Fin, my lad, at work, to which I could not avoid going again: and there was Miss Melmoth, on whom I had promised to wait, and did intend to ask her if she would give me her hand, as I liked her and her circumstances, and fansied she would live with me in any retreat I pleased to name; which was a thing that would be most pleasing to my mind. It is true, if Charles Turner had come home, while I stayed at his house, it was possible I might have got his sister, who was a very great Page 415fortune: but this was an uncertainty how∣ever, and in his absence, I could not in ho∣nour make my addresses to her: if it should be against his mind, it would be acting a false part, while I was eating his bread: Miss Turner to be sure had fifty thousand pounds at her own disposal, and so far as I could judge of her mind, during the three days that I stayed with her at Skelsmore-Vale, I had some reason to imagine her heart might be gained: but for a man worth no∣thing to do this, in her brother's house, with∣out his leave, was a part I could not act, tho' by missing her I had been brought to beg my bread. Three days then only I could be prevailed on to stay, and the time indeed was happily spent.
81. Miss Jac∣quelot's character.
Miss Jacquelot was by the head lower than miss Turner, and her hair the very re∣verse of my friend's sister, that is, black as the raven: but she had a most charming little person, and a mind adorned with the finest qualifications. Reason never lost the command in her, nor ceased to have an in∣fluence upon whatever she did. It secured her mind from being ever discomposed, and disengaged her life from the inconveniencies which a disregard to reason exposes us to Page 417By a management it dictated, she enjoyed perpetual innocence and peace. She never uttered a word that intrenched upon piety, infringed charity, or disturbed the hap∣piness of any one, nor at any time shew∣ed the least sign of a vain and light spirit: yet she had a sportfulness of wit and fancy that was delightful, when she could handsomely and innocently use it, and loved to exert the sallies of wit in a lepid way, when they had no tendency to defile or discompose her mind, to wrong or harm the hearer, or her neighbour, or to violate any of the grand duties incumbent on us; piety, charity, justice, and sobriety. Every thing that reason made unfit to be expressed, in relation to these virtues, she always care∣fully avoided; but otherwise, such things excepted, would enliven and instruct by good sense in jocular expression, in a way the most charming and pleasing. She was very wise, agreeable and happy. She was very good and worthy.
This young lady was a great master on the fiddle, and very knowing in connoissance. She painted well, and talked in an astonish∣ing manner, for a woman, and for her years, of pictures, sculpture, and medals. She was indeed a fine creature in soul and body.
82. My depar∣ture from Skelsmore-Vale.
With these ladies I spent three days in Skelsmore-Vale; and the time we talked, walked, played, and laugh∣ed away. Sometimes we rambled a∣bout the hills, and low adown the dales. Sometimes we sat to serious ombre; and often went to musick by the falling-streams. Miss Turner sung; miss Jacquelot played the fiddle: and on my German flute I breathed the softest airs. We were a happy three, and parted with regret on every side. Fain would they have had me stay, and Scarbo∣rough and London should be thought of no more: but the reason of things was against it, and the 28th day of June I took my leave. Through the mountain I had descended, I went up again to Tim and my horses; who were stabled in the mouth of the cavern above, and had got provender from the vale below.
83. A morning reflexion on the ri∣sing sun, and the Great Spi∣rit who created it.
The sun was rising as we mounted the horses, and struck me so powerfully with the surpassing splendor and majesty of its appearance, so cheared me by the gladsome influences, and intimate refreshment of its all-enlivening beams, that I was contriving as I rid on an apology for the first adorers of the solar orb, and imagined they intended nothing more than the worship of the tran∣scendent majesty of the invisible Creator, Page 419under the symbol of his most excellent and nearly resembling creature; and this accord∣ing to some imperfect tradition, that man, as a compound Being, had, in the beginning, a visible glorious presence of Jehovah Elo∣him — a visible exhibition of a more di∣stinguished presence by an inexpressible brightness or glory: this is some excuse for the first worshippers of the solar orb: and when the thing consecrated to the imagery and representation of its Maker, became the rival of his honours, and from being a help to devotion, was advanced into the supreme object of it; yet considering the prodigious glory of this moving orb, and that all ani∣mated nature depends upon its auspicious presence, we cannot wonder that the Egyp∣tian ruralists, without a creed, and without a philosophy, should be tempted to some warmer emotion than a merely speculative admiration, and inclined to something of immediate devotion. That universal chorus of joy that is manifested at the illustrious so∣lemnities of opening sun-shine, might tempt the weak to join in a seemingly-religious ac∣clamation. At least I am sure there is much more to be said for this species of idolatry, than for the papists worshipping dead men, stocks, bones, and clouts. They have not only revelation expressly against them — Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him Page 420only shalt thou serve. (Matt. iv, 10.) — Nei∣ther shalt thou set up any image or pillar. (Deut. xvi. 22.) But downright reason de∣monstrates that the things are useless to the preservers, and offensive to God: whereas, on the contrary, when the eye beholds that glorious and important luminary of heaven, and considers the benefits dispensed to man∣kind by the means of its most beautiful and invigorating beams, it might strike not only an unpractised thinker, and cause the vul∣gar, (who are not able of themselves to raise their thoughts above their senses, and frame a notion of an invisible Deity), to acknow∣ledge the blessings they received, by a de∣votion to this fansied visible exhibition of di∣vinity: but even some of the wise ones who were a degree above the absurdity of popular thinking, might be led to address themselves to the golden sun, in splendor likest heaven. They might ascribe the origin of their own existence, and the world's, to this seemingly adequate cause, and genial power of the system; when they beheld him returning again in the east, (as I now see him) after the gloom and sadness of the night; again the restorer of light and comfort, and the renewer of the world; regent of the day, and all th'horizon round, invested with bright rays; that all inferior nature, the earth's own form, and the supports of its animated inhabitants, Page 421seem to depend on his dispensing authority, and to be the effects of his prolific virtue, and secret operation: they might suppose, in the corruption of tradition, or when the re∣veled truth and direction was lost, and reason not as now in its maturity of age and ob∣servation, that some kind of glory should be given to the subordinate divinity (as they fansied) of this heavenly body, and that some homage was due to the fountain of so much warmth and beneficence. This (I imagine) may account for the earliest kind of idolatry; the worship paid to the sun. The effects of his presence are so great, and his splendour so overpowering and astonish∣ing, that veneration and gratitude united, might seduce those ignorant mortals to deify so glorious an object. When they had lost the guard of traditionary revelation (39) , Page 422and wanted those helps to judgment which are derived from the experience, observa∣tion, and reasoning of past times, the speciousPage 423idolatry might have been introduced, and something tolerably plausible perhaps was pleaded by the better heads of those times. Page 424Exclusive of an imperfect notion of the Deity's appearing by Shechinah, and that the sun might be the visible exhibition (as Page 425observed); they might, in the next place, conclude from the extraordinary motion of the luminary, that he was an animated be∣ing, and noble intelligence, placed in the highest post of honor and usefulness, and employed by God as his first minister and servant; for which reason, they thought it their duty to magnify and venerate the sun, whom the Creator had exalted so high; as the chief ministers of kings are had in honor, which is reflected back on their royal mas∣ters. Thus might the novel impiety come on. They might, in the beginning, worship Page 426the sun as the Shechinah, appearing by a glorious light, or in a celestial train attend∣ing the presence, which, at so great a di∣stance, must appear in an indistinct, lumi∣nous vision; but more generally, as the mi∣nister of God; an animated being, who had a principle of consciousness put into it; as the human body has, seated in it, a human soul; and that this glorious creature was enabled to perform the etherial journeys by its own understanding and will, and to make all lower nature happy by his benign and diffusive influence; could see as far as he is seen, and every way was fitted for the noble work he had to execute. Thus did the sun commence a God. He must, (they thought) from every appearance, in his wondrous, useful course, have the most exalted powers; be wise and benevolent, great and good. And when the worship of this luminary was once established, it could not be long before the moon was deified: and then the stars be∣came conservators of the universe. From thence idolatry went on, and added to the heavenly bodies the emblematic doctrine, and animal apotheosis. Artificial fire was conse∣crated, and made the symbol of sidereal splen∣dors. Deity was exhibited to the multitude in the forms of its effects, and innumerable orders of inferior divinities by degrees sprang up. Successive enlargements of the system Page 427of natural apotheosis prevailed; and, at last, the world, which ought only to have been regarded, as the magnificent theatre of divine perfections, was itself blasphemously adored, as the independent proprietor of them.
It is evident from hence that a reveled rule was wanting, or man had need of physics, to suppress the rising transports of a too eager gratitude, and guard a∣gainst the inclination to worship this rising, lucid being, now so glorious before me; whose motion is so steady and uniform, swift, regular, and useful, that it seems to manifest itself a wise and intelligent being. Without the lights of philosophers, or the supernatural assistance of religion, it was hard for recent and wondering mortals, to refrain from worshiping that beautiful body, as they saw it proceeded with the greatest harmony, and shed innumerable blessings on them. But pure reveled religion diffuses such a light as manifests the error: and a correct and philosophic reasoning, (in this im∣proved age the safe guide, and proper arbi∣trator of religion) not only refuses to address itself to that God of the antient popular theology, but proves the worship impious and absurd.
Right reason and revelation demonstrate from the matchless graces and glories of na∣ture, which occur in great variety, and with∣out Page 428number, wherever we turn our eyes, that there is a Creator of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; who beautifully provides for the uses and occasions of human life, and produces repeated millions of ob∣jects that bear the stamp of omnipotence, and remain perpetual monuments of the di∣vine benevolence. Manifold are thy works, O Lord; in wisdom hast thou made them all!
And especially, when from the earth I lift up my eyes to the heavens, and behold among the wonders of the firmament, that vast and magnificent orb, the sun now rising before me, brightning by degrees the hori∣zon, and pouring the whole flood of day upon us; the wonderful and grand scene strikes powerfully on my mind, and causes an awful impression. With sentiments of the greatest admiration, I consider the illus∣trious object, and feel the kindly heat of that bright luminary, inspiring me with more than usual gladness. And what power is it that supplies this fountain of light and heat, with his genial and inexhausted trea∣sure — who dispenses it with such muni∣ficent, yet wise profusion? It must be some Almighty Being. It must be the work of the Deity, that is, the powerful, wise, and good Parent of mankind, the Maker, Pre∣server, and Ruler of the world; for his perfections are stampt upon the work. The Page 429evidence of reason declares it. Chance or necessity cannot form or guide. An active understanding only, and intending cause, can produce, and direct: and this cause, must be all-ruling wisdom, and unlimited power, in conjunction with the most amiable good∣ness. This is plain to a thorough and rational examination. A supreme Being, an eternal self-existent mind, who comprehends and presides over all, must impart the benefits of that glorious creature before me, using it as an inanimate, unconscious, instrument of conveying light, heat, and prolific influences to the earth; which, by infinite power, is rendered as much active in sending the ve∣gete juices through the vessels of all plants, as the sun is in diffusing its rays upon the surface of the globe we inhabit. The sun, and moon, and stars, are but instruments in his hand, for bringing about mechanically whatever good effects he has created them to produce. Our holy religion and philosophic reasoning evince this truth. This glorious sun bears the signatures of its author, and the finger of God is discernible every where. The wisdom and loving-kindness of the Lord are visible, whatever way we turn. His bounty appears by its constant, yet vo∣luntary communication, and is the more to be admired as it is a never-failing principle. This rising luminary that visits our earth, is, Page 430in particular, a daily fresh instance of the divine favor; and did not God's goodness only, prevent its suspension, we should be involved in the utmost horror, nay, inevitable ruin: and when, in the evening it leaves us overspread by the darkness, to visit others with its benign influences; the change is charming, for night gives man a necessary vacation from the labours of the day. In sleep he takes the sweetest refreshment, till this rising sun, by the beneficent direction of its great Author, again appears in grace and splendor, and displays the face of nature in unspeakable beauties. Every where the bounty of the supreme Spirit I see diffused; through air, through earth, and in the wa∣ters. No place is without witnesses of his liberality; and life is the care of his provi∣dence.
Of him then should our songs be, and our talking of all his wonderful works. We should join in adoring him, and acknowledge him worthy to receive glory and honour and power, who has created all things, and for his pleasure they are and were created. And it follows, that we should likewise absolutely submit to this sovereign Being, and ever re∣sign ourselves to his direction and disposal. Where can ignorance and impotence find so safe and sure a refuge as in infinite wisdom, and almighty power?
84. A delight∣ful land∣scape be∣twixt the mountains.
In this manner were my thoughts employed, as we rid over the brows of many high hills, with the rising sun before me, till we descended to a narrow wet bottom, which trended due west for an hour, and brought us to the foot of another high mountain. This we ascended with the horses as far as it was possible to bring them, and from thence I climbed up to the top, by a steep craggy way, near 200 yards. This was very difficult and dangerous, but I had an enchanting prospect, when I gained the summit of the hill. A valley near a mile in breadth appeared betwixt the opposite moun∣tains, and that on which I stood; and a river was running through it, that spread some∣times into little lakes, and sometimes fell headlong from the rocks in sounding cas∣cades. The finest meadows, and little thickets, bordered those waters on every side, and beyond them the vast hills had a fine effect in the view: some were covered with forest; and some with precipitating streams. I was charmed with this assem∣blage of the beauties of nature. It is a more delightful landscape than art has been able to form in the finest gardens of the world.
85. A pretty country seat.
The descent was easy to this beautiful vale, and after I had feasted my eyes with the prospect of the place, I went down to see who lived in a house covered with creep∣ing Page 432greens, that stood by a sonorous water∣fall. Some wise one perhaps, (I said) who scorns the character of the libertine, or the sot, and to the pursuits of avarice and am∣bition leaves the world; to enjoy in this fine retreat the true happiness of man; by em∣bracing that wisdom which is from above, and aspiring to an equality with saints and angels: happy man! if such a man be here. Or, it may be, some happy pair possess this charming spot of earth, and in discharging all the duties of the matrimonial relation, enjoy that fulness of satisfactions and felicities, which the divine institution was designed to produce. Happy pair indeed! if such a pair be here.
86. A strange meeting.
But when I came near the mansion, no human creature could I see, nor, for some time, could I find an entrance any way. The gate of the garden in which the house stood was fast, and so was every window and door: but as the gardens were in fine order, and full of fruits, vegetables, and flow∣ers, I knew it must be an inhabited place, tho' its people were from home. With my pole therefore I leaped a deep moat, which surrounded the garden, and for half an hour continued walking about it, pulling some things, and looking at others, in hopes that some one might be seen: no soul how∣ever appeared, and I was going to return to Page 433my horses, when, by accident, I came to a de∣scent of stairs, that was planted round with shade of laurel, ever-green, and branching palm. Down I went immediately. I walked thro' a long arched passage, in which two lamps were burning, and at the end of it came to an open door, that admitted me into an en∣try which led to a flight of stairs. Should I go any farther, was the question? If any one within, I might greatly offend: and if it was the habitation of rogues, I might find myself in a pound. What shall I do then? Go on, (says curiosity) and bravely finish the adventure.
Softly then I ascended, listening, by the way, if I could hear any voice, and proceed∣ed upwards, to the first floor. A door was there open, and on my tiptoes I went to look in: but, all I could see was a room well furnished, and through it I passed to another, which was likewise full of fine things, and had a door unlocked, that open∣ed into a large library. The books were all bound in vellum, in an extraordinary man∣ner, the collection valuable, and most judi∣ciously ordered. Mathematical instruments of all Sorts were on a table, and every thing looked as belonging to a scholar and man of fortune. Great was my amazement, as I saw no living creature. I knew not what to think of all these things: nor did my asto∣nishment diminish, when I went from the Page 434library into two very handsome bedcham∣bers, and saw in one of them the apparel of a woman; in the other the dress of a man.
Musing on these matters, and looking over the books, I continued near an hour, when I turned round to depart, and saw at the door of the library I was in, a gentleman, and two young ladies in riding-dresses, who seemed more than amazed at the sight of me. The man's face I knew very well, and soon remembred he was one of the com∣pany that came over with me from Ireland in the Skinner and Jenkins, and a person I had thought a very odd man; for he never stirred out of his birth all the while he was on board, nor spoke a syllable to any one, ex∣cept myself; and that only for a couple of hours after we landed; when he was pleased to single me out, and requested we might dine together; to which I said, with plea∣sure, Sir, and he came with miss Melmoth and me to our inn. With us he sat for the time I have said, and talked like a man of sense and virtue. He was but three or four years older than I was, and yet so very grave, that in respect of temper, he was fit for the bench. He told me, he lived in too remote a place, ever to expect to see me in the coun∣try; but he had a house in London, where he was every winter, if not hindered by sick∣ness, and to a part of it I should be wel∣come Page 435if it was agreeable to me to im∣prove our acquaintance. Many other civil things he said, and shewed a regard for me that I little expected, and could not but wonder at. All this made me as well known to him as he was remembred by me; but he looked as it were scared at the sight of me, in the place I now appeared in; where I stood leaning on my long pole (when he came to the closet door), and was reading out the following lines in a book I chanced to take into my hand; to which I added a few reflexions:
87. A passage I chanced to turn to in a Greek author.
Page 436True, most excellent sage. Rectitude and Benevolence are the perfection of rational na∣ture, and when by philosophy, we acquire a temper, disposition and action, that are con∣formable to the truth of things, and conti∣nually display strict justice and universal cha∣rity, we offer the noblest sacrifice to heaven, and are consimilated with the Deity. By this divine affection, or order and goodness, we manifest a continual use and employ∣ment of ourselves for the glory of the su∣preme virtue, and may by this means, ex∣pect to obtain the infinite mercy of God; when slaughtered Hecatombs are despised; and the creeds of incomprehensible mysteries, and the external modes and forms of church∣ism, may be considered only as the weakness and blindness of reverend heads. Thousands of rams, and ten thousand rivers of oil; spe∣culative faith, rites and ceremonies, are no∣thing, abstracted from that temper and af∣fection, which unites us to the Deity, and to the whole system of rationals. Virtue and charity is religion.
88. Mr. Berris∣fort's kind reception of me.
This passage and reflexion pronounced very loud, with an enthusiasm that seizes me when I take a classic in my hand, added greatly to the astonishment of finding me in the closet, and for some time the gentleman was not able to speak, or come forward; but Page 437at last, moving towards me, as I did to him, the moment I saw him, he said, by what strange chance have I the favor of seeing you here? Inform me, I beseech you, in the name of friendship, what surprizing acci∣dent has thrown you on this solitude; with∣out horse or servant — and how did you get over the broad moat of water, as the two garden gates were locked?
Mr. Berrisfort (I answered), you may well wonder at seeing me in this remote and silent part of the world, and especially at my being in your study, without either horse or attendant in waiting, that you could find, on coming home; but the thing was all natu∣ral, in the common course of events, as you shall hear.
Three weeks after you left me at White∣haven, I set out from that place for Brugh under Stanemore, and went from thence up the northern mountains, in search of a gen∣tleman I had some business with, who lives but a few miles beyond you, and on my return from his house, as the road lay very high on the side of yonder vast hill, I quitted my horse out of curiosity, to climb up to the top of the mountain, and see what kind of country lay on the other side of this long range of high hills. It was with great difficulty I got up to the pike, and few, perhaps, but myself, would attempt it: I was rewarded however by the Page 238fine prospect, and seeing the descent on this side easy, and a house and large gardens before me, I could not refrain from going down to the bottom. I marched on to take a view of the mansion and improvements, and as I saw some ver fine things in the gardens, and no sign of any living creature; the gates shut, and every place to appearance fastened, I leaped the moat with this pole, and after I had wandered about the ground, by acci∣dent came to the shady enclosure, in which I found the descending stairs from the gar∣den; and seeing the lamps burning in the passage, could not avoid going down, and proceeded till I arrived at this fine library. My admiration was great, you may be sure, and the books too strong a temptation for me not to mind them. With great plea∣sure I looked into many of them, and at last opened the Greek writer I was reading out, when you came to the door of your study. Such were the causes that brought me where you find me.
(Mr. Berrisfort replied): Sir, I am glad there was any thing in the force and opera∣tion of casualties, that could bring you to my house, and I assure you upon my word, that you are most heartily welcome. As I lay in my cabbin on ship-board, I conceived a great regard for you, on account of many Page 439things I heard you say, and particularly, for your lively arguments with Dr. Whaley, be∣fore the storm began, in defence of the di∣vine Unity, and against that miserable theo∣logy which the monks have invented, and con∣tinue to support, tho' it militates with the reveled truths of God, and the reason and fitness of things. I was greatly pleased with your different definitions of churchism and religion, and honoured you not a little for what you said in opposition to unintelligible mystery, and the glare of ceremony; at the same time, that you contended for the wor∣ship of the universal Father, and that sober, righteous, and godly life, which springs from the love of truth, virtue, and moral rectitude. Once more then I assure you, Sir, I am most heartily glad to see you, and I shall take it as a great favour if you will pass the summer with me in this wild coun∣try place. Every thing shall be made as agreeable as possible, and, exclusive of this closet of books, which you shall possess while you stay here, we will hunt, and set, and shoot, and enjoy all the pleasures of the field: but in the mean time, as it is now ten o'clock, we ought to think of breakfast, and he desired his sister, a most charming creature, to call for it immediately, and I soon saw several servants bring in every thing that was elegant and excellent. He told me Page 440I need be under no uneasiness about my mare and horses, for there was a steep narrow way for them to come down to his stables, about half a mile from the place I left them, and he would immediately send one of his servants to bring them.
This was vastly civil and affectionate, and I told Mr. Berrisfort, that I was under great obligations to him for his goodness, which I should ever have an extreme sense of, but I was obliged to go on upon business: a few days however I would enjoy the happiness he offered me, and we passed them in a very delightful manner.
89. Manner of living at Yeoverin-Green.
Early in the morning, we went out with the hounds, and for half a dozen hours, had the dogs in full cry before us. We had hawks and pointers in the afternoon, and enjoyed abroad all the sports of the field. Within, when our labours were over, we had the most elegant dinners and suppers; every thing, of meat and drink, that the best taste could desire: and the conversation was excellent after the repasts.
90. Characters of Mr. Ber∣risfort, his sister, and Miss Fox.
Mr. Berrisfort was a man of letters and breeding; and the ladies had sense, and were no strangers to the best English books. They understood no other language than their mother tongue, but the choicest au∣thors of every kind that our country has produced, they had read with great care. Page 441The master of Yeoverin-Green was a learned, worthy, polite man, free in discourse (if he knew his company, and liked them, but otherwise quite mute,) and he was instruc∣tive in every thing he said. His sister and cousin were very good; discreet in their be∣haviour, temperate in their discourse, and easy in their manner. They had no learn∣ing; they pretended to no criticism; but talked, without vanity, of the best things, and what they did say, they expressed in a most agreeable way. There was no being dull with such people, in such a place. I have seen very few young ladies in my time that I liked better than those girls. They both charmed me with their persons, their faces, their good manners, and their chat; but I could not enough admire Miss Berris∣fort for one particular, in which she not only excelled Miss Fox, but all the women that I have ever seen. This was in hunting. In the field, she seemed the silver-shafted queen.
91. The daring spirit of Miss Ber∣risfort in hunting.
Mr. Berrisfort and Miss Fox followed the dogs with caution, and never attempted any thing that could hazard their necks or their bones: but the charming Juliet Ber∣risfort had so violent a passion for the diver∣sion of the field, that she was seized with a kind of enthusiasm when she heard the cry of the hounds, and as if she had been the Page 442goddess of the silver bow, or one of her im∣mortal train, went on without a thought of her having brittle limbs. She leaped every thing to keep in with the dogs; five-bar gates; the most dangerous ditches and pales; and drove full-speed down the steepest hills, if it was possible for a horse to keep his feet on them. She frightened me the first morn∣ing I was out with her. She made my heart bounce a thousand times. I expected every now and then that she would break her neck; that neck where lillies grew. I was reckoned a very desperate rider by all that knew me, and yet, with this young lady, I paused several times at some leaps, when she did not hesitate at all. Over she went, in a moment, without thinking of the perils in her way; and then, if I broke my neck, I could not but pursue.
92. An account of two falls in the field.
It was not in my complexion to stay, and by that means, I got a terrible fall the second day; whether by my own fault, or my horse's, I cannot tell: but as no bone was broke, and I had received no o∣ther mischief than a black eye, a bruise in my side, and a torn face, I was soon on my Page 443mare again, and by Miss Berrisfort's side. She laughed immoderately at me, while the dogs were at fault, as my bones were safe, and advised me with a humorous tender∣ness, to ride with her brother and Miss Fox. It was not however very long before I had more satisfaction than I desired; for in half an hour's time, we came to some pales, which the stag went over, and I leaped first; but Miss Berrisfort's horse, tho' one of the best in the world, unfortunately struck, and cleared them in such a manner, that the lovely Juliet came over his head. She fell very safely in high grass, where I waited for her, for fear of an accident of any kind, and did not receive the least hurt; but in the violence of the motion, and the way she came down, the curtain was thrown on her breast, and she lay for some moments stunn'd upon the ground. In a minute however I snatched her up, and set her on her feet. She came to herself immediately, and thanked me for my care of her; but was vexed to the heart at what had happened. She requested I would not mention the thing to her brother, or Miss Fox, and hoped I would be so generous as not to speak of it to any one. — Miss Berrisfort (I said) it is not in my soul to ex∣tract a mirth from the bad fortune of any one; and much less is it in my power to ri∣dicule, or laugh at a woman of distinction, Page 444for an accident like this. You may believe me, when I promise you, upon my word, and swear it by every sacred thing, that I will not so much as hint it to any mortal while you remain in this world. This gave her some relief, and by her foot in my hands, I lifted her into her saddle again. — Two benefits were from this mischance derived. One was, that for the future, this lady hunt∣ed with a little more caution, and did not take the leaps she was wont to do: — the other, that it gained me her heart, (though I did not know it for many months), and thereby secured for me the greatest happi∣ness, against a day of distress. From the most trivial things the most important do often spring: but I proceed.
93. A religious conversa∣tion be∣tween Bob Berrisfort and Jack Buncle.
Vexatious as the fall was to this young lady, it was I however that had all the pain, by the mischief I received when my horse threw me. My eye was in a sad black way, my side troubled me, and the skin was off half my face: yet I did not much mind it, as the diversion was good, and that imme∣diately after the death of the stag, we hast∣ened back to an excellent dinner, and some flasks of old generous wine; to which Bob Berrisfort and I sat for two or three hours. The ladies had left us, to change their dress, and walk in the gardens, and we fell into very serious chat.
Page 445I am thinking (Mr. Berrisfort said, after a considerable pause, as we sat smoaking a pipe over against each other), that the cause you gave Dr. Whaley, on ship-board, for the decay of christianity, was the best I have heard. I remember you told this divine, that it was not a want of faith in the present generation that made so many renounce chri∣stianity; for, the world were no enemies to a republication of the law of nature by the man Christ Jesus; but the thing that makes infidels, and supports infidelity, is the ex∣travagant doctrines which the theologers have obtruded upon the church, as essential parts of christianity. Enthusiasm, absur∣dity, and error, and the blind and bloody scenes of cruelty and superstition, have been the great stumbling-blocks to mankind, and given the most sad, severe and lasting stabs, to the interests and success of the pure and peaceable gospel of Christ. This is just. But exclusive of this, may we not say, that there are so many seeming contradictions, and a multiplicity of obscure passages in it, that it looks as if it could not be, in its pre∣sent condition, a rule of faith: and that christians differ so much about the meaning of the texts of their bible, that reason knows not what to say to a religion so variously re∣presented. It is not only the two great camps, papist against protestant, and prote∣stantPage 446against papist, who make the religion as different as black and white: that the re∣formed mission at Malabar tell the Indians they must not hearken to the jesuits, if they expect salvation; and the monks at Coroman∣del declare, on the contrary, to those Indians, that they will be damned to eternity, if they are converted to what the Danish ministers call christianity; which made the famous bramin Padmanaba say, that it was impossible for him to become a christian, till the learned christian priests had agreed among them∣selves what christianity was; for he had not erudition and judgment enough to decide in the intricate controversy: but, exclusive of this, protestants are so divided among them∣selves, even the church of England against the church of England—dissenters against dissenters — and give such different ac∣counts of the reveled system, that it requires more understanding, and strict, serious en∣quiry, than the generality of people have, or can spare, to be able to determine in what party of the celebrated critics and expositors true religion is to be found: and when the controversy is so dark and various, and the authorized professors can never agree among themselves, what can a man of a plain under∣standing say to it? This makes many (I ima∣gine) turn from the scriptures to study na∣ture, and the general laws which are esta∣blished Page 447among the several gradations, ranks and classes of beings, so far as they are connected with intelligent, moral agency. In the natural, agreeable pages of that infi∣nite volume, we see and perceive beauty and order, art, wisdom, and goodness, and are thereby led to the Creator and Governor of the world, the universal cause, preserver, and director of nature. We discover his providence, measures and benevolence, the rules and principles of eternal, immutable wisdom and reason, and by them are com∣pelled to confess a universal, intelligent Efficient; one infinite, eternal, omnipotent, wise, good Being, from whom all others derive, and on whom all others neces∣sarily depend, and that continually. In short, by studying nature, we discover a God of truth, order and rectitude, and as we find perfect universal truth, and moral recti∣tude to be the highest perfection in the Deity, our reason informs us, that we ought to shew our love of God, by a love of these; and that a regular, uniform pursuit of them, must be the only true and rational pursuit of human happiness. Here is a plain and good religion. Can we wonder then that many study and follow nature, and disregard those interested commentators, who, like opposite counsel at the bar, multiply and make void the law by different and contradictory plead∣ings on it? — Here Bob ended, and lit Page 448his pipe again, while Jack laid his down, and went on in the following manner:
To this Mr. Berrisfort said, that he thought my plea for original christianity was good, and allowed it was not the gospel that was faulty in mystery and obscurity, contra∣diction and inconsistency; but, human ig∣norance, and human vanity, which have load∣ed it with absurdities, while they excluded reasoning about it, and warped its fair and heavenly maxims to the interests of systems Page 452and temporalities. However (Bob conti∣nued), you will allow, I believe, that the sacred writers had not perpetually the aid of an unerring Spirit, and therefore are some∣times inconsistent in their accounts: that as they were sometimes destitute of divine as∣sistance, they were liable to error when guided only by the human spirit, and did act like common men upon several occasions. This seems to be evident from the relations, and the human sentiments of the apostles. The evangelists speak of the same facts dif∣ferently; and in citing prophecy, while one adapts a fact to the letter of the prophecy, another accommodates the letter of the pro∣phecy to the letter of the fact: I mean here, the ass and colt in Matthew, and the colt only in John, and their citing Zechariah (ix. 9.) differently. And as to the other sa∣cred writers, does not the dispute between Paul and Peter, shew a subjection, some∣times, to ignorance and error? does not the quarrel between Barnabas and Paul let us see, that one of them was mistaken, and both of them to be blamed? Tell me like∣wise, what you think of Mark and John's different accounts of the time of the crucifix∣ion — and does not Matthew contradict Mark in his relation of the resurrection of Jesus?
Jack Buncle to this replied, that however some zealots may contend for the perpetual inspi∣ration Page 453of the sacred writers, yet he could not think such doctrine necessary to the creed of a christian: Jesus only is called the truth, and was incapable of error. Christ only, in all his actions, was directed by a prophetic spirit. All other men, prophets and apostles, were sometimes left to the guidance of their own spirit; and therefore all things which they have signified to us by their words or deeds, are not to be considered as divine oracles. Nec adeo omnia, quaecunque dictis significarunt aut factis, ea pro divinis oracu∣lis habenda. Nullus, excepto Domino, fuit unquam prpheta, qui omnia egerit spiritu pro∣phetico. So Limborch, Dodwell, and Baxter say, and of the same opinion were Grotius and Erasmus(40) They assert, that the apostles, Page 454on ordinary occasions, were ordinary men. All true christian critics must allow this, and grant that, the universal inspiration of the Page 455sacred penmen, is a notion founded in the prejudices of pious men and their mistaken sense of scripture. Such infallible authority Page 456they think the best way to silence all objec∣tions, and weakly embrace the hypothesis to advance the honour of religion.Page 457
But our allowing this, and that there are some disagreements and variations in the evangelists, cannot hurt the gospel. St. PaulPage 458might reprove St. Peter, and speak himself sometimes after the manner of men; yet, we see where they had the divine assistance in Page 459their explications, and the power of working miracles to confirm their doctrine; and there, as rational and thinking men, we must allow Page 460the authority of the sacred books: the few places that have the marks of weakness, only serve to convince us, that the divine writers Page 461Page 462of the books made not the least pretension to perpetual inspiration. In suo sensu abundat — aliquid humanae fragilitatis dissentio ha∣bet:Page 463(says Jerome.) Human frailty and their own sense honestly appear, when there was not an occasion for infallibility and miracle. But whenever the preachers of the New Testament were wanted for the ex∣traordinary purposes of divine providence, Page 464they were made superior to the infirmities of nature: their understandings were enlarged Page 465and inlightened and an inspired knowledge rendered them incapable of error. This, in my judgment, is so far from ruining the au∣thority Page 266of scipture, that it is the greatest confirmation of its truth. It shews the ho∣nesty of the preachers of the New Testa∣ment, Page 467in owning they were only occasionally inspired: and when the incredulous see the ingenuous acknowledgment of what is hu∣man Page 468in the inspired writings, the truth of our religion must be more conspicuous to their eyes: whereas the truths of the Testament Page 469are hid from them, by making God the dictator of the whole; because they think that impossible, and therefore conclude, the christian religion has no better foundation. In short, there is no reason to believe that the apostles were extraordinarily inspired, when they say it not; and when their dis∣courses have in them no mark of such like inspiration. It is sufficient, (says Le Clerc), if we believe that, no prophet of the New Testament has said any thing in the name of God, or by his order, which God has not effectually ordered him to say; nor has un∣dertaken to foretell any thing, which God Page 470had not indeed truly reveled to him:— that every matter of fact related in the books is true, and the records, in general, the truest and most holy history that ever was published amongst men, notwithstanding the writers may be mistaken in some slight cir∣cumstances: — that all the doctrines pro∣posed are really and truly divine doctrines, and there is no sort of reasoning in the dog∣matical places of the holy scriptures, that can lead us into error, or into the belief of any thing that is false, or contrary to piety:— that Jesus Christ was absolutely infallible, as well as free from all sin, because of the God∣head that was always united to him, and which perpetually inspired him; insomuch, that all he taught is as certain as if God himself had pronounced:— and in the last place, that God did often dictate to the apostles the very words which they should use. These five heads are enough to believe. We allow in these things the authority of the holy scrip∣tures, and they who affirm more are de∣ceived (41) .
Page 471The case is the same as to differences, want of exactness, and small mistakes. We may justly celebrate the harmony or agree∣ment Page 472of the sacred writers, with regard to the principal transactions by them men∣tioned, Page 473as a strong proof of the integrity of the evangelists, and of the certainty of the fact. This evinces the truth of chri∣stianity: but in matters of very small mo∣ment, we must allow a want of accuracy, or slips of memory, or different informa∣tions. This cannot hurt the authority of the gospels, as it proves the honesty of the writers by shewing they did not compose by compact: and I think, that some of the evangelists having been eye-witnesses of, and Page 474actors in the facts of the several gospels; and others having written from the information of those who had got a perfect information of all things from the very beginning, is an argument solid and rational for the credibi∣lity of the evangelical history. It is sufficient. I am sure it is better to allow this, than to say the writers of the four gospels were mere organs, when the little omissions and inac∣curacies observable in their records, cannot be accounted for, if we suppose that God conveyed the facts and truths through them, as pipes, to the world. It must needs be a perfect work, which the spirit of God di∣rects.
When all this was done, (says St. Mark, reckoning in the Jewish manner), it was the third hour, that is, nine o'clock in the morn∣ing, and they crucified him. This perfectly reconciles the two evangelists. There is no sign of a contradiction in the places.
As to the other women, it is evident that they likewise went a second time to the se∣pulchre, to look for the body of their master, and having in vain searched for it, were re∣turning to the apostles, to let them know they had enquired to no purpose, when Je∣sus himself met them, saying All hail. Does not this reconcile Mark's account with Mat∣thew's? I think so. To me it is so very plain from what all the sacred relators have declared of the matter, that I am astonished how Jerom could be so perplexed with the Page 478two accounts, as to say, that Mark's account, (the last twelve verses of his gospel) might be rejected here as spurious, because it was found only in a few copies of that gospel, and contradicted the other evangelists. Non recipimus Marci testimonium, quod in raris fertur evangeliis — praesertim cum diversa atque contraria evangelistis ceteris narrare videatur.
In the next place, if the account I have given was liable to any objection, and you could shew me that it was not the truth of the case; which, at present, I think impossible: If it was evident from the gospels, that the women were not a second time at the tomb, but that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other women, the first time they were all there together, yet this may be, as I ap∣prehend, without Mark's contradicting Mat∣thew. The meaning of the words of Mark — he appeared first to Mary Magdalene — might be, that as she and the women were returning from the monument, to tell the news to the apostles, Jesus appeared to them, and in particular, addressed himself to Mary Magdalene; directing his discourse to her, and speaking familiarly and affectionately to her, to distinguish her as his constant follower in his life-time, and one on whom he had worked a great miracle of healing. Page 479This, I imagine, might very justly be term∣ed — he appeared first to Mary Magdalene — To appear first to any one of a company, as I take it, is to come up to, or stand before some particular person, in order to speak to such person. This, in my ima∣gination, removes the difficulty, and recon∣ciles Mark to Matthew: but to this expli∣cation I prefer the women's being at second times at the sepulchre; that is, Mary Mag∣dalene a second time, when Peter and John went to the tomb, on what she had earnestly told them apart: and afterwards, the other Mary, Salome, Joanna, etc. a second time. The gospels, in my opinion, make this very plain (42.)
What has been said, (Mr. Berrisfort told me), seems plausible, nd ought to satisfy every honest man. It gives me content: but there is one thing still that perplexes me, Page 480and that is, the various lections of the New Testament. Do they not hurt the book?
No: (Jack Buncle replied), notwithstand∣ing the cry of infidels, and that some learned men of the church of Rome have endea∣voured to shake the credit of the two testa∣ments, and to bring the people to the papal chair, to know the truth, on account of the various readings; yet, nevertheless, they are rather an advantage and security to the sacred text than a detriment to the written word. They corroborate the authority of the sacred book, and give it additional advantages.
It is a truth that there are many various read∣ings in Terence, Livy, Virgil, Caesar, Thucy∣dides, Homer, Plutarch, etc. and yet who de∣nies the genuineness and great use of those noble authors of sense and politeness? who is so hardy as to question whether the works universally ascribed to them be their own and the product of those immortal wits? On the contrary, men of thought and clear heads, conversant in those studies, will agree that those authors of antiquity of which there are the most various readings, are rendered the most pure and correct. And why should not the various readings of the bible rather lead men of sound learning and judgment to the true meaning of the divine writers, than endanger their mistaking their genuine lan∣guage and sense.
Page 481Where there are several readings, it is highly probable one of them is the original; and it is easier by their help to rectify the mistakes of some copies, for when we have only one manuscript, there may be scope for fancy; but none for judicious comparison and well-grounded criticism.
Style and language may be distinguished by a happy genius of natural sagacity, im∣proved by true learning and proper applica∣tion, as well as statues, pictures, and me∣dals. No age can counterfeit Cicero, Te∣rence, St. Mark, St. John, St. Paul, no more than a counterfeit picture, medal, etc. can be imposed on, and deceive the com∣pleat masters and judges of those ingenious professions and sciences.
Secondly, there is nothing in the various lections that affects the essentials of religion, or can imply a considerable depravation of the copies, that alters or weakens one moral contained in the divine books. And there∣fore, though it cannot with reason be sup∣posed, that God Almighty should work per∣petual miracles to prevent the mistakes and blunders of every careless or corrupt hand, of those numerous transcribers of those sa∣cred volumes, no more than by a resistless power and restraint to prevent all the errors and villanis committed by free and account∣able creatures; yet the argument receives strength, that notwithstanding the innume∣rable Page 482variations, mistakes and contradictions in small matters, the all-seeing eye of Pro∣vidence has so watched his own blessed and glorious revelations to mankind, that all the transcripts of that divine volume agree in the essential doctrine and grand design of christia∣nity. This is a truth that Infidels and Pa∣pists cannot disprove.
I observe in the last place, that exclusive of the care of Providence, there could not possibly happen any detriment to our sacred records by various readings: for though in an innumerable number of copies of the gospel that were made before printing was known, and in the many translations of it into several languages, where the idioms are different, and the phrase may be mistaken, it was almost impossible there should not be various lections, and slips of amanuenses, yet the sacred volumes in the early ages of christianity, were disposed into innumerable hands, translated into so many languages, kept in so many libraries, churches, and in private families of believers, and so carefully preserved and revered as the authentic deeds and charters of eternal happiness, that they were not capable of being falsified.
Nor could those inestimable copies, scat∣tered as they were over the then discovered world, and in the noble language so univer∣sally known and acceptable, be liable to ha∣zards, by sudden revolutions and public dis∣asters; Page 483because those convulsions and sur∣prizing calamities, could not happen alike in every country at one time.
Neither could a general corruption of manners, a spirit of profuseness or supersti∣tion, nor the wicked example, and strong influence of tyrannical princes, of an apo∣state clergy, and atheistical ministers of state, prevail over many distant and independant nations, to endeavour to corrupt and destroy their sacred book.
On the contrary, we are to consider that christianity was the ecclesiastical law of all christian nations under the sun. The great law which assured to them their religious right and properties, their claims and titles to immortality, to the inheritance of the saints in light, an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved for them in the heavens. Which, to every one that deserves the name of man and chri∣stian must be infinitely more dear than titles to lands on this earth. For men are naturally more watchful in a matter so dear to them, and every believer would think himself con∣cerned, no more to let a change of conse∣quence to pass uncorrected, than the children of this world, who are wisest in their gene∣ration, would overlook a flaw in deeds of sale, or contract, which would assert their title, and evacuate the main intention of making such indentures.
Page 484The primitive christians must be supposed to be exceeding watchful and jealous that no corruption or abuses should be put on that sacred book, more dear and valuable to them than all other interests and treasures. When these brave champions of the cross were brought to the tribunals of the heathen persecutors, and were commanded to deliver their bible to the flames, they most cou∣rageously refused it, and gave their bodies to be burnt rather than the divine book.
In short, it is easier to suppose, a new bible or a new statute book might be imposed at this time of day upon this nation, without discovery, than to suppose a forged gospel, a new testament corrupted so far as to be in∣sufficient for the good ends Providence de∣signed by it, could be imposed on the uni∣versal christian world. It is easier to sup∣pose that any forgery might creep into the municipal law of any particular nation, than that all the nations, whither christianity is spread, should conspire in the corrup∣tion of the gospel: which most sacred institution is to all christians of infinite∣ly greater concern and value than their temporal laws, and all the secular immuni∣ties and privileges which they secure to them.
And without such a wicked consert, or such an astonishing carelessness and negligence in all christian people and nations supposed (which would be a monstrous supposition) Page 485No such forgery, no such alteration of es∣sentials could pass undiscovered in the gos∣pel, which was spread in the hands, hearts, and memories of myriads of rational devout christians of all ranks, qualities and sex, was constantly read in private families, frequently explained in schools, and daily used in public divine offices. It was impossible then in the nature of things that there could be any such alterations or corruptions introduced into the sacred text as would affect its doctrines, mo∣rals, or truth of its historical relations, or defeat the blessed end and design of the gos∣pel revelation in any period of time, from the beginning of christianity to this present age (43) .
And if from this unanswerable way of reasoning in defence of the genuine purity of Page 486the sacred scriptures, we look next upon the Providence of the Great God in this im∣portant case, is it not consonant to sound sense, and the notions that rational creatures must have of the supreme and all-perfect Being, firmly to believe that the same good∣ness and providence, which took care for the writing, would likewise take care for preserving these inestimable books, so free at least from corruption, that they might be sufficient for the gracious ends for which they were written, and be able to make us wise to salvation? I think so. To me it is evident, that since infinite goodness was pleased to reveal a religion, that teaches men to know Jehovah to be the true God, and to know Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent; his providence must not only preserve the book on which the doctrine depends, but so secure it from corruption, as to render it a plain rule to mankind. While there is a provi∣dence, the holy scriptures will remain the sa∣cred and unalterable standard of true religion.
What you say (Mr. Berrisfort replied) seems to me to be true. I have nothing to object. But once more — let me ask you, in respect of the ascension, which followed the resurrection of Jesus, is it not very strange, that this is not mentioned by any of the apo∣stles who are said to have been eye-witnesses of the fact, but Luke and Mark only are the relators of the thing, who were not apo∣stles, Page 487and had all they writ from the informa∣tion of the apostles. If the apostles, Matthew and John, did really see with their eyes the Lord Jesus taken up from them into heaven, might we not expect, that they would write the history of that still more wonderful tran∣saction, as well as they had so exactly related the resurrection of Jesus? for the men, who stood gazing up into heaven, after the Lord was carried up in a cloud (as Luke says they did) not to mention so very wonderful and interesting an affair in their gospels; — and men who did not see the thing, to relate it as part of the history they had received from the apostles; — this is what asto∣nishes me. If it was a truth, surely so im∣portant a one ought not to be omitted by those who saw it: since Matthew and John did write histories of Christ, why should they be silent on this grand article, and take no notice of it in their records? What do you say to this?
I will tell you, (I replied): in the first place, nostrum non est providentiae divinae ra∣tiones reddere. Placuit spiritui sancto ita di∣rigere calamos Matthaei et Joannis, ut nar∣ratione resurrectionis dominicae evangelia sua concluderent. (Sic refert Philippus a Lim∣borch). — It does not become us to call Pro∣vidence to account, or assign the ways it ought to act in: infinite wisdom thought fit to appoint, that Matthew and John should Page 488end their gospels with the relation of our Lord's resurrection: the resurrection demon∣strated the divine mission of Jesus Christ. To it, as a proof the most valid, and unexcep∣tionable, our Lord referred the Jews, and therefore, to it, as the great fundamental, Matthew and John appealed: they proved it by declaring that they had conversed with Jesus Christ after he arose from the sepul∣chre; and when that was proved, there could be no dispute about any thing else. The divinity of the christian religion, and the ascension and glory of their Lord, rest on this base. All the blessings likewise of the gospel, regeneration, our resurrection, and life eternal, are ascribed by the apostles, Pe∣ter and Paul, to the resurrection of Christ: and for these reasons, to be sure, when John had described his Lord's resurrection, he add∣ed, — and many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book — But these are writ∣ten, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, ye might have life through his name. We must allow then, that the account of the ascen∣sion by Luke and Mark, may be authentic, tho' not mentioned by Matthew and John.
In the next place, St. John is not totally silent as to the ascension of our Lord. In his sixth chapter, ver. 62. it is written — What and if ye shall see the Son of Man as∣cend Page 489up where he was before? and in the 7th chapter, ver. 39th. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe in him should receive. For the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified. Here most certainly the apostle speaks of the ascension of his Master, and tho' he did not write the history of it, yet, not ob∣scurely, says the thing was to be; which confirms the accounts of St. Luke and St. Mark. And since, in the 14th and 15th chapters of St. John, ver. 16.26. the apostle declares, that Jesus foretold he would send to them, his disciples, the Comforter or holy Spi∣rit from the Father, after his ascension to heaven; and that the apostles demonstrated by miracles, after the death of their Lord, that they had received this Comforter or divine Spirit, it follows, that the ascension and glo∣rification of Jesus is as much asserted and confirmed by the gospel of St. John, as if that apostle, like Luke, had writ the history of it. This is evident to me. I think it is not possible to dispute it.
The sum of the whole is, that the preju∣dices of the pious, and the arts of the crafty and interested, have defaced the true gospel of Christ, and substituted human notions and consequences in the place of divine revela∣tion: but let us strip the sacred records of the false glosses and systems, with which the theorists have covered it, and allow the Page 490enemy, that the apostles, sometimes want∣ing the unerring spirit of their Master, were liable to slight mistakes, and inadvertencies, in the representation of ordinary events; that they did, sometimes, by too great an affection for their Master's doctrine, strain some things, and cite prophecies that did not relate to Jesus in any sense at all (44) ; — Page 491let this be done to remove incumbrances, to clear up difficulties, and to answer objections otherwise unanswerable, and the writings of Page 492the apostles will appear to be a globe of light from heaven; to irradiate the human understanding, and conduct the sons of men Page 493to the realms of bliss. Their lessons are the dictates of the Spirit of God: their sanctions are of such force, in a cer∣tainty of future judgment and retribution,Page 494that they incline a rational to have a serious regard to them.
In a word, the religion of nature is per∣fect, but men are imperfect, and therefore Page 495it pleased God to send our Saviour into the world, to republish the law of reason by his preaching, and in the writings of the apostles, and by him to give many motives to men, to incite them to perform their duty, as set forth in his written laws, and in the more striking example of our Lord, his only-begotten Son. Let us be christians then, my dear Bob, and adore the divine goodness, for the life eternal prepared for the righteous, as declared in the sacred records. Let us hearken to the apostles, (who, knowing the terror of the Lord, persuade men), and so govern and conduct ourselves by the rules of revelation, that when the man Christ Jesus, who ap∣peared in the world to redeem us, will re∣turn to judge us by the gospel, we may as∣cend with him to the unbounded regions of eternal day, and in ever-blooming joys, live for ever in the presence of God.— I have done. Where you think I am wrong, you will be pleased to say.
Page 496My friend replied, that he had no objec∣tion to make: he was quite satisfied; and obliged to me for my advice. Thus ended the conversation between Bob Berrisfort and Jack Buncle.
94. 1725. July 3. My depar∣ture from Yeoverin-Green, and arrival at a shaking-bog, at the bottom of a moun∣tain.
The 3d day of July, I left Yeoverin-Green, and set out again for Ulubrae, to get my horses and portmanteau, but proceeded now on foot; because, by climbing over a high mountain, which it was impossible for a horse to ascend, and then walking half a mile over a shaking-bog, where a beast could not go, I was to save many miles; and beside, Mr. Berrisfort was so obliging as to send one of his servants back with Mr. Harcourt's horses, which I knew not which way to return. With my pole in my hand then I set out, and after I had bid adieu to my friends, who walked with me a couple of miles to the foot of the hills, I bagan to mount the Alp at Six in the morning, and at eight arrived on its summit. Here I had a fine road, due south, for an hour, till I came to a very steep descent, that led to the shaking-bog, as my paper of directions informed me. It was an ugly way down, and the better to go it, I resolved first to breakfast, and bid Tim see what he had got in his wallet. Imme∣diately he produced a roast fowl, a man∣chet, and a bottle of cyder, and among some trees, on the brow of a hill, by the Page 497side of a spring, that ran off the Way I was to go, I sat down to the repast. I gave my Lad half the Bird, and the other half I dis∣patched in a very short Time, drank a Pint of Cyder, and was on my Feet again. I then began to descend, and in an Hour made a Shift to get to the bottom, tho' the way was bad; being very steep, wet, and slippery. I came to a dirty lane, about two hundred yards long, and that ended at the shaking-bog.
95. The nature of a shak∣ing bog.
This kind of bog I take to be an abyss of standing water, covered with a thin arch of earth, that is, a water communicating with the abyss so covered, or weakly vaulted over: and of this opinion I find the right reverend Erich Pontoppidan is, in his na∣tural history of Norway. The bishop does not tell his reason for so thinking; but mine is, that I have seen in Ireland the arches of several of those bogs broken, and a deep un∣fathomable water at some distance from the arch. They are very dangerous, frightful places, and many of them play up and down, like a long plank, in a very surprizing Man∣ner.
96. We return from the bog to the Mountain, and arrive at a far∣mer's house.
To go half a Mile over such a bog, and the most elastic of them I had ever tried, was what I did not much like; tho' the author of my paper of directions, an old servant of Mr. Berrisfort, affirmed it was quite safe; and as to Tim, he would not, Page 498on any consideration, cross it. He was posi∣tive we should sink beyond Recovery. What to do then, was the question? I tried for some Time to go round the bog, at the bottom of the enclosing mountains, but that was soon found impossible, and therefore, it only remained, to go up again to the top of the hill, and try onwards for some other de∣scent beyond the bog. We did so, and after walking two hours south-west, at a good rate, had a view of a deep glin, to which we descended by an easy slope, and marched thro' it, to the west, and north-west for two hours, till it ended at a wood. This we passed without any difficulty, as there were walks cut through it, and came out into a broad valley, that had a river very near us, and a sweet pretty cottage on the margin of the flood. I went up to the house to ask my way, and found at the door three men, the eldest of whom seemed to be about thirty years old. They asked me very civilly to walk in, and seemed to wonder not a little at seeing me and my man, in such a place, with our poles in our hands.
97. An account of Mr. Fleming, and his two brothers.
These Men were three brothers, and Roman catholics. Two of them were gentle∣men-farmers, who lived together, and jointly managed the country business. The eldest was a Franciscan frier, who came to visit them. Their good manners, in their plain dress, surprized me; and their benevolence, made me wonder a great deal more. Their maid Page 499laid a clean cloth in a minute, and brought some cold roast beef, good bread, and fine ale. They bid me heartily welcome many times, and were so frank and generous, so chearful and gay; especially the eldest of the farmers, who sang several good songs over a bowl of punch after dinner, that I could not think of leaving them immediately, if I had known my road, and was easily prevailed on to stay several days. A friendship com∣menced immediately between the eldest Fleming and me, and there was not one cold or cross minute in it for the few years that he lived. He loved me as his brother from the first day he saw me, and I had so great a regard for him, that with a sorrow I cannot help, I think of his death to this day. How to account for such sudden passions I know not. The thing has always appeared to me very strange. Mr. Fleming to be sure was a man of a bright and very extraordinary under∣standing, though no more than a farmer in this world, had a most happy temper, a generosity too great for his fortune, and was for ever chearful and free; but these things, however pleasing, could not be the cause of the sudden and lasting friend∣ship between us, as I have been ac∣quainted with men of fortune who equalled him in these respects, and yet they never struck me more than for the present Time. Whatever might be the cause, the fact is Page 500certain. No two men ever liked one another more than we did from the first hour of our acquaintance, and as I had the happiness of converting him to the protestant religion, it is possible, that might cement a friendship, which, a sameness of disposition had helped to produce (44) . This is all I can say as to Page 501the reason of this matter. In respect of the thing, it was of the greatest service to me. My new acquired friend assisted me to the utmost of his power, in the accomplishment Page 502of my designs, in that part of the world I then was. I had his head, his hand, and his house at my service, and by them I was enabled to give a roundness to a system, that was too happy to last long.
98. My arrival at Ulubrae, and what passed there.
But as to the shaking bog I was to have passed to go to the gentlemen at Ulubrae, Fleming told me, I had a fortunate escape in not venturing over it; for, tho' it be passable in one narrow way, about a yard broad, yet a stranger to the bog must perish in attempt∣ing to cross; as the timber causeway that was made over the great marsh, time out of mind, is invisible in many places, and one sinks for ever, the moment he steps off that way: but I will shew you an easy road (my new friend continued) to the gentlemen's house, to whom I am no stranger, and will make you acquainted with some passes thro' the mountains, that will render it easier riding over this country than you have found it. He did so, and by his guidance I ar∣rived at Ulubrae, the 7th day of July; being the 17th day from the morning I left the philosophers. The gentlemen were startled at the sight of me, as they concluded I had perished, and had, as they assured me, Page 503mourned my sad fate: they were impatient to hear the adventure of the mountain, and by what strange means, I was jumbled all the way to Tom Fleming's; who lives so far from the hill I went into; and the road from it to his house, scarce passable for a mortal. Inform us, we beseech you, how these strange things came to pass.
Gentlemen, I said, I am extremely o∣bliged to you for your concern for me, and will tell you my story as soon as we have dined, as the servants are now bringing the dishes in, and accordingly, when we had done, I gave them a relation in detail. They were greatly pleased with my history, and much more, to have me returned to them in safety again. If they had not seen me, they said, they could not believe the thing, and they would order the whole account to be entered in the journal of their society, as the most extraordinary case they had ever known: or, perhaps, should ever hear re∣lated again. Their secretary, as directed, writ it down in the big book of transactions, and it remains in their records to this day.— In short, reader, these worthy men were so greatly rejoiced at my being alive, when they thought me for certain among the dead, that they put the bottle round in a fes∣tal manner after dinner. We drank and laughed till it was midnight.
99. My depar∣ture from Ulubrae to Eggleston.
The 8th day of July, I took my Page 504leave of the gentlemen at Ulubrae, and pro∣ceeded to the East-riding of Yorkshire, to look for Miss Melmoth. Fleming came with me as far as Eggleston to shew me the passes between the hills, and the best ways over the mountains. Many vast high ones we crossed, and travelled through very wonderful glins. Several scenes were as charming as any I had before seen, and the low ways as bad; but he knew all the roads and cross turnings per∣fectly well, and shortned the journey a great many miles. I had told him the bu∣siness I was going on, and he requested, if I succeeded, that I would bring Miss Mel∣moth to his house, that his brother might marry us; and as to Orton-Lodge, which I had described to him, and told him where to find, (for he had no notion of it, nor had ever been among the fells of Westmoreland; as he thought that country unpassable), he promised me, he would go there himself, and bring with him two labouring men to assist my lad, in putting the garden and house in the best condition they were ca∣pable of receiving; that he would bring there seeds, and trees, such as the season allowed, and do every thing in his power, to render the place convenient and pleasing: he would likewise sell me a couple of his cows, a few sheep, and other things, which I should find before me at the lodge, and let me have one of his maids for my servant in Page 505the house. This was good indeed. I could not wish for more
100. 1725, From Eg∣gleston I went to Mrs. As∣gil's to look for Miss Mel∣moth; but she was gone.
The 9th of July, early in the morn∣ing, Fleming and I parted, and I proceeded as fast as well I could to the appointed sta∣tion: but when I came up to Mrs. Asgill's door, the 2d day in the evening, July 10, and asked for Miss Melmoth, an old man, the only person in the house, told me, Mrs. Asgill had been dead near a month, and Miss Melmoth went from thence immediately after the funeral of her friend; that she had left a letter with him for a gentleman that was to call upon her; but that letter by an accident was destroyed, and where the lady then was, he could not so much as guess: he farther told me, that Miss Melmoth had sold the goods of the house, and the stock, bequeathed to her by her deceased friend, to the gentleman who inherited the late Mrs. Asgill's jointure, and she would return no more to the place. This was news to me. It struck me to the soul. Doleful tidings, how ye wound. What to do I could not tell, but as I rid to the next town, determined at last, to try if I could hear of her at York. To that city I went the next day, asked at the inns, walked the walls, and went to the assembly-room. My enquiries were all in vain. One gentleman only did I see who was acquainted with her, and he knew nothing of her present abode. From York then I proceeded the next morn∣ing Page 506to search other towns, and left no place unexamined where I could think she might be. Three weeks were spent in this manner, without hearing a syllable of her, and then I thought it was best to return to my lodge; for what signified my five hundred pounds to appear with in the world. It must be soon gone as I had not the least notion of any kind of trade; and if I joined any one that was in business, I might be mistaken in the man, and so cheated and undone. Then what could I do but carry a brown musket, or go a hand before the mast; for, as to being an usher to a school for bread, were I reduced to want, that was the life of all lives that I most abhorred. Nothing else then had I for it but my silent mountain-lodge, which kind providence had brought me to. There I re∣solved to go, and in that charming solitude, peruse alone the book of nature, till I could hear of some better way of spending my time.
101. By acci∣dent, I meet Miss Melmoth.
To this purpose then I went the 2d of August, 1725, to Barnard's Castle in Durham, and intended the next morning to set out for Mr. Fleming's house in Stanemore, to go from thence to my cottage on the side of a Westmorland-Fell: but after I had rid a mile of the road to Eggleston, where I pur∣posed to dine, I called out to my lad to stop. A sudden thought came into my head, to ride first to Gretabridge, as I was so near it, Page 507to see some fine Roman monuments, that are in the neighbourhood of that village. To that place I went then, and passed the day in looking over all the antiquities and curiosi∣ties I could find there. I returned in the evening to my inn, and while a fowl was roasting for my supper, stood leaning against the house-door, looking at several travellers that went by, and some that came to rest where I did that night. Many figures I be∣held, but none I knew. At last there came riding up to the inn, full speed, a young lady on a most beautiful beast, and after her, two horses more; on one of which was her man servant, and on the other her maid. She had a black mask on her face, to save her from the dust and sun, and when she lit from her horse, she id not take it off, but went with it on into the house, after she had looked for a moment or two at me. This I thought very strange. A charmer to be sure, I said. With what life and grace did she come to the ground! but how cruel the dear little rogue is, to conceal the wonders of its face. Landlord, I said to the master of the house, who was coming up to me, can you contrive a way to get me one view of that masked lady, and I will give you a pint. — Sir, mine host replied, that I can do very easily, for this lady has sent me to let you know, she wants to speak with you — Page 508with me! — Transporting news! I flew to her apartment, and there saw that dear irresistable creature, who had added to the inferior charms of face and person, that wis∣dom and goodness of conauct and conversation, which are the true glory of a woman. It was Miss Melmoth. She had heard I had been at Mrs. Asgill's house, and did not get the letter she left for me; which made her think of riding towards Gretabridge, on an imagination she might find me thereabout; as she remembered to have heard me say, in one of our conversations, that I intended as soon as I could, to look at the Roman anti∣quities in this place: but she had very little hopes (she added) of succeeding in her en∣quiry; as little as I had of her riding up to the inn; and this made the meeting the more pleasing. It did enhanse the pleasure indeed. It turned the amour into an adventure, and gave it that delicious flavor, which the mo∣derns read of in the histories of past times, but rarely experience in these days. The reader that has been engaged in such a won∣derful, and tender scene, can only form an idea of a felicity, which words would in vain attempt to express.
As soon as we had supped, I recited my adventures since we parted, and gave Miss Melmoth a flowery description of Orton-Lodge; then asked, if she would bless me with her Page 509hand, and sit down with me in my pretty solitude.
Sir, (Miss Melmoth replied), if you re∣quired it, I would go with you to Hudson's-Bay, had I a hundred thousand, instead of four thousand pounds; which is my for∣tune, exclusive of some personal estate, which my friend Mrs. Asgill by her will bequeathed me; and the whole is at your service, to dispose of as you please.
Give me thy hand then (I said,) thou ge∣nerous girl. You make me the happiest of men, and in return I swear by that one, su∣preme, tremendous Power I adore, that I will be true and faithful to thee, till death dis∣solves the sacred obligation. Twice do I swear by the great Spirit, in whose dread presence I am, with your right hand now locked fast in mine, across this table, and call on him as witness to our vows, that nei∣ther time, nor chance, nor aught but death's inevitable hand, shall e'er divide our loves. Miss Melmoth said, Amen.
102. 1725. Miss Mel∣moth and I proceed to Orton-Lodge, and are married by Father Fleming.
Early the next morning, the third of August, we rid to Eggleston, where we breakfasted, and proceeded from thence to Mr. Fleming's house, up Stanemore hills, where we arrived at nine o'clock in the evening, and had beds there that night. My friend Tom and his brother Jemmy, were gone to a fair; but the eldest bro∣ther, Page 510the Franciscan fryer, was at home, and entertained us very well. We took him with us very early the next day to Orton-Lodge, which we reached at eight in the evening, and found the house and garden in good order. My friend, Mr. Fleming, had done every thing possible, to make it a con∣venient and comfortable place. He had made near the Lodge two little rooms for servants, and had put a bed in the green-house in the garden for a friend. He had likewise sent there a couple of cows, some sheep and lambs, ducks and geese, cocks and hens, and every necessary he thought we might want there. Good Tom Fleming. There never was a better man, or a kinder friend, to his small power.
We had likewise fish in abundance, in the waters at the foot of our hills, and goats and kids, and plenty of wild fowl. Few things were wanting that reason could desire; and for us, who thought that happiness, that is, pleasure and repose, did not precariously depend on what others think, or say, or do; but solidly consisted in what we ourselves did feel, and relish, and enjoy, there could not be a more delightful station discovered on this globe.
To conclude, the best things that Orton-Lodge afforded, were ordered to the fire, and before they were brought on the table, the Page 511man of God threw the fillet or ribband over our hands, according to the Romish man∣ner, and pronounced the nuptial benediction on us. Husband and wife we sat down to supper.