A Dialogue between an East-Indian Brackmanny, or Heathen Philo∣sopher, and a French Gentleman, &c.
SIR, I will not be so inquisitive as to ask what Accident or Occasion brought you into these Oriental Regions. Be it either Curiosity, or Business, a natural desire of im∣proving your Understanding, or intention of Com∣merce, I speak you heartily welcome, and shall to my power be ready to serve you, esteeming it both my Duty and my Happiness, to do good Of∣fices to all the Creation, and especially to Strangers, as standing many times most in need of them.
Worthy Sir, your Civilities have rescued me from that common Error of thinking, that out of Europe or the Pale of Christendom dwells nothing but Rudeness and Barbarism. I find no less Courtesie in this, than in the other Hemisphere; and perceive People may be born at some thousand Leagues distance, under different Climates, and where the same Stars are never seen; nay, which is more, under va∣rious Religions and Rites of Worship, wholly strange to each other, and yet may agree well enough, if they would give their Minds to it, in the practice of the common Duties of Humanity.
There is no doubt of it Sir; for the Modes and Customs of your Country differ just as much from Ours as Ours do from Yours; and therefore we are not for that variety to scorn or laugh at, much less hate and plague each other; but rather impartially consider which is most agreeable to Nature, to the noble divine Principle, and the real benefit of humane Life—But waving this Discourse, pray what is the present News in Europe?
That Question will lead us to the very Antipodes of what we were discoursing of; for nothing is more frequent among us than Contentions, Controversies and Wars.
For what, I pray?
Some for Empire, some for Glory, but most about Religious points, and the nearest way to Heaven.
Now in my Opinion, neither of these things should administer occasion for such Vio∣lences and Confusions. For if men considered the weight and cares of Empire, those that are without it would rather fly from than fight for it. And that Prince's Dominions are wonderous small that cannot imploy all his Vertues in meliorating his own Subject, rather than in invading, op∣pressing and ruining those of his Neighbours. Nor can I understand, that any Glory is to be got by destroying men. I think 'tis rather matter of Praise to beget them. Your Alexander and your Caesar (for we have heard of their Names, and Page 3 the former spread the Venom of his Ambition even into these parts) made some Millions Fa∣therless, yet could neither of them boast of one Son of his own, but both dyed Childless. And then for Religion, that methinks should teach you quite the contrary, especially your Christian Do∣ctrine, which (I have heard) enjoyns you to love your Enemies, to turn the left Cheek to him that smiteth you on the right, &c.
'Tis very true, the Principles of our Religion are such, but the general Practice now-a-days runs quite contrary.
And yet Practice is the Life of any Religion: If you do verily believe those Princi∣ples of Christianity to be true, why do you not follow them in your Conversations? If you do not believe them, why do you call your selves Christians? If you do believe them, and yet re∣solve not to practise them, you are wilful obstinate Rebels, and greater Affronters of Christianity than we that do not make profession of it. Can any thing be more absurd than to turn Earth into a kind of Hell, under pretence of driving men to Heaven? and to commit Murders and Cruelties for the sake of the God of Life and Love? Alas, Sir! the infinite Deity delighteth not in Man∣slaughter; Strife, War and Contention enter not into his Tabernacle: Above, all is clear, bright, serene, calm and quiet; 'tis in the lower Regions of the Air only, that Storms are generated, and Thunder and Lightning break forth. God is no Page 4 Respecter of Persons, but (as your own Prophets say) every one that doth well is accepted of him; he causeth the blessed and glorious Body the Sun to shine on the just and unjust, and commands the sweet Influences of the Coelestials to fall upon all: The Blessings of the four Worlds are equally distributed to all men, as well Inferior as Superior. He sustains and preserves the universal Systeme of Nature by the hand of his out-spread Providence; and when the Sons of Men, by their sinful Va∣nities, Oppressions and Violences have awakened his Wrath, he does not presently dart down the Thunder-bolts of his Vengeance on their guilty Heads, but first sends his Brackmannys to tell them of their Evil, and call them to Repentance. And if Man-kind will walk in the right Way, and dwell in the everlasting Regions of Bliss, they must endeavour to imitate their Creator, whence our Seers call Man the Image or Likeness of God, and the Horizon of both Worlds, since in him the su∣periors and inferiors are united. Now if People would study to be truly like their Maker, Vio∣lence, War and Oppression would have no place in the World.
I perceive you are much for peace and quietness; yours is a strange Religion indeed that will not allow of the Noble Feats of Arms, and the Arbitra∣ment of the Sword.
For ought I can hear, your Religion al∣lows the same as little as mine, and threatens, that whoever uses the sword, shall perish by the sword.
And yet the Cause, or at least the Pretence of most of our Wars is Religion; and 'tis by the Profession of Arms that men amongst us become great and honouroble.
If Killing be so honourable, Butchers sure with you are a worshipful Company.
Butchers of Beasts are but meanly regarded, but Butchers of Men are celebrated as the only Hero's.
And after what fashion, I pray, do these Hero's live?
For the most part, they are such as love to eat to Gluttony, and think that day ill spent wherein they are not drunk; their Discourse is no∣thing but Boasts and Rhotomontado's, intermixt with such horrid Oathes and Blasphemies, that modest men tremble more at their Talk, than for fear of the fury of their Arms; where-ever they come they carry Ruin and Confusion with them, destroying Men and debauching Women, deflouring of Virgins, ravishing of Matrons, Robbing, Plundering, firing of Houses, devouring what they can, and destroying the rest is, their Profession and Delight; and this they call Living at Discretion.
If these be the Christian Hero's, I wonder what are your Devils? I hope these are none of those that you said do contend so much about the Right way to Heaven.
Yes, I'le assure you, none more ready to Kill and Damn all that will not be of the Religion they pretend to. We have in our Country a parcel of People Page 6 called Hereticks and Hugenotes, their Conversation is generally Iust and Honest, and they are Peaceable and Obedient to their King, and as ready to serve him, and do good to their Neighbours as any: But they will not joyn with us in our Religions, Opinions and Cere∣monies.
As how, I pray?
Why, they will not acknowledge our supream Caliph at Rome to be Infallible: They will not say their Prayers to a Statue, an Image, or a Picture, because they fancy those fine things can neither hear them, nor help themselves: They will not own that the Bone, or a piece of the Garment of a man who is himself many Years agone dead and rot∣ten, can Cure them of Diseases, or preserve them from Dangers; But especially when we give them a piece of Bread, and tell them 'tis Flesh, Blood and Bones, they think 'tis Bread still, and are so impu∣dent as to believe their own Eyes before the dictates of our Priests.
Why! Do you your selves believe and practise these Absurdities?
Ye marry, and would Burn you too, if you were in some parts of Christendom, and durst say you did not believe them as well as we.
Then I bless the good and infinite Beeing, that I have no business in such a Chri∣stendom. But pray proceed with the Story of your Hugenotes.
We endeavoured to suppress and root them out by severe Laws, and open Wars, but Page 7 finding that Course ineffectual, we resolved upon a Stratagem to cut them off; pretended to be very kind to them, and that we desired a perfect Reconciliation, and to that purpose made a Match between one of the chief of that Party and a great Lady of ours; to so∣lemnize this Wedding, the principal Hugenotes re∣paired from all parts of the Kingdom, and had the greatest Assurances given them of Friendship. But one Night whilst they suspected nothing, Souldiers being drawn together, at a certain Hour fell upon them in all parts of the City, destroying Men, Wo∣men and Children, so that in two or three Hours time, there were above ten Thousand of their dead Bodies flung naked into the Streets, and the Chan∣nels flowed with their Heretical Blood: And at that time Messengers were sent to other Cities and Towns to do the like, so that in a few dayes there were above forty Thousand of them slain. Was not this a noble expression of Zeal for Religion?
God keep such bloody Zeal still from our Indian Territories. Do your Priests allow of such doings?
Allow! Yes and applaud them too, they are the Men that excite us to these gallant Exploits, and for a Reward for these Services, do forgive us all our Sins, and assure us of Heaven.
I know not what they may pretend; but this I know, that God is Love, and that such barbarous Cruelties are to him an Abomination; And to speak truth, so long as men continue Obstinate, Revengeful and Contentious, and Page 8 suffer the wild savage Nature, and bitter Spirit to reign in their Hearts, neither Men nor God can forgive them; for Inequality and Discord cannot move Equality: such a Spirit is contra∣ry to the divine Nature, and therefore cannot expect Forgiveness till 'tis changed and trans∣formed. For men cannot draw nigh to the Fountain of Benignity, nor be heard of the Sove∣raign Beeing, but as they become like unto him, for every like is moulded by its likeness; Blood requires Blood, but the Merciful shall find Mer∣cy from the God of Peace and Compassion, whose Mercies never fail. For this cause we have for many Generations totally abstained from all Vio∣lence, Oppression and Killing, either of Man or Beast; for the Groanings and Miseries of those Creatures that suffer Wrong, are the beginnings of Trouble and Sorrow to those that do it, and do certainly stir up and awaken the fierce Wrath in Nature, as the Loadstone attracts Iron.
These are pretty Notions, but me∣thinks impracticable: For if we Europeans should live the Life you talk of, and lay aside Arms, and not vindicate our Religion and Liberties by the Sword, we should be over-run, and be made the great∣est of Slaves. Have not you heard of the Inroad made (at this Instant) by the Turks into Germany? Now would you have us stand with our Arms a cross, and suffer them to over-ran all Christendom?
I pray, what do you account the oc∣casion that moved the Turk to this Expedition.
Why, the Emperor of Germany in certain of his Territories, had some of those Here∣ticks that I described to you but now, and he would force them to be of his Religion, and to compell them thereunto, seized on their Priests, and clapt them into Dungeons and Prisons, where they were starved and pined away in Want and Misery; and others he sold for Slaves, and sent Souldiers amongst them to kill and destroy all that would not Conform to his Cere∣monies: Hereupon they took Arms in their own de∣fence, and observing their Brethren to live free from such Violences, and enjoy their Religion under the Turks, paying only such Tribute, they desire the Turk to protect them, which offends the Emperor, and so the Quarrel encreasing, the Turk sends an Army against him.
This confirms and illustrates what I assert; for here you see this Deluge of Calamity had not happened to Germany, had they not first stirred up the Wrath, and caussesly vexed their Neighbours. It appears plainly these Flames arise from Sparks of their own kindling; besides, Experience shews that none are such Vassals, and subject to so many Miseries as those that give themselves to the use of Arms, viz. to Guns, Swords, and the like Weapons of wrath, and most of them perish by the use of them. For our own parts, 'tis true we do live in subjection, and under the burthen of many great Taxes, which are levied on us at the pleasure of the Princes we live under; but then they protect us from Page 10 the Injuries of the Multitude, allowing us our free Egress and Regress through their Domini∣ons, and unquestioned Liberty for the Exercise of our Religion and manner of living: They do not endeavour to peep into our Breasts, and ex∣amine our Opinions, or punish us for not think∣ing as they do. We go freely about our occasi∣ons; nor do they permit every Idle Fellow to take away our Goods, nor give us abusive Words, or hurry us to loathsom Prisons; nor are our Sons forced into the Wars: They threaten no Punish∣ment to us, provided we do not offend the civil Laws; for they matter not what gods we wor∣ship, nor after what fashion, so we are just to men, and live peaceably, and pay our Tribute. If they have our Money, they know they can∣not want Men that will Fight for two Pence a day: But we value our Health, our Lives, Li∣berties and Religion, more than Money. We all drink Water, and the fragrant Herbs, whol∣som Seeds, Fruits and Grains suffice us abun∣dantly for Food: Our Stomachs are clean, our Appetites sharp, so that we taste the inward Virtue of each thing, and sing Songs of Praise to the Creator, who affords unto us the plenty of the Earth, and the pleasant Dews of Heaven; so that as Fish live in the Salt and Brackish Ocean, and yet their Flesh is fresh and sweet; so we in the midst of a tempestuous troublesom World live Calm, and as it were in Paradise.
I am glad to hear you esteem your selves so happy; there are few Mortals that are so con∣tent with their Lot, but are whining, repining, com∣plaining, and alwayes on the Tenter-hooks of new Hopes and Desires.
And the reason is, because they for∣sake Nature, and let loose their Desires, which having once cast off the Bridle of Moderation, run on without stop or Bounds.
But I perceive you are for Liberty of Conscience, and that every one may follow his own Opinion and Phantasie; and if so, we should have a mad World; such a License is destructive to Govern∣ment, and the very Nurse of Rebellion.
I do not well understand what you mean by Opinion and Phantasie, People will think as they list, do you what you can. But this I know, that he that fears God, and hurts not his Neighbour, oppresseth not the Creation, and obeys the civil Laws of that Country he lives in, and freely pays all Duties and Tributes to the Princes that protect him, is a good and faithful Subject to God and his King. Nor have we any temptation to Rebellion, for to us all Govern∣ments are alike, as long as they protect us from Violence. I have read something of your Euro∣pian Affairs; and if I mistake not, in France, Spain, &c. where the Laws are to force People to be all of a mind, there have been abundance more Re∣bellions, Insurrections, Plots and Conspiracies against the Government, than in Countries, where Page 12 Liberty of Conscience is publickly allowed; whence I rather infer, that not the indulging, but restraining Liberty of Conscience is the grand Cause of those Disorders amongst you. 'Tis certain, every man ought to have Liberty in Well-doing, and to be punished only for the con∣trary. And we Baunians scarce know any thing that is a greater Evil, than for men to Contend, Hate, Envy, Oppress, Fight and Destroy one another, because they are not in all particulars like themselves: For men naturally are as vari∣ous in their Intellects, as in their Shapes, Forms and Complexions; for the Shape and Form of every Body is according to the Nature, Equality or Inequality of the Spirit. The Lord hath made all things to differ; there is not any two things in the four Worlds alike in all particulars; there∣fore whosoever is offended with another, be∣cause he is not perswaded, or does not under∣stand just as he does, is in truth offended with his Maker, who is the author of that Variety. If two things were exactly in all respects alike, they must become the same; the nearest simili∣tude of things is made by casting them in a Mould, and yet even then they differ.
You say right, and therefore to make all mens Vnderstandings of asize, our Church∣men prepare Moulds for them, viz. Creeds, Li∣turgies, Systems of Divinity, and the like, where∣in they cast and fashion all mens Vnderstandings, so that none but must own those, though he do not under∣stand Page 13 a Word of them; nor must dispute them; though his Heart and his Brain tell him they are false and impious.
This is much such an Uniformity as I have heard in some of your Books, was practi∣sed by the Tyrant Procrustes, who dwelling near a common Road, seized all Travellers, and car∣ried them to his Bed, which was framed exactly for his own Stature, and if their Bodies were longer, chopt off their Feet or Heads to make them fit, and if too short, strained their Bones and Sinews out with Engines to a due propor∣tion; Was not this Gentleman a great lover of Decency, Order and Uniformity? If there were not Variety, there would be no Motion, for it is the various working Power, and as it were Strife between the Properties that causeth all Ve∣getation and Manifestation; if there were but one thing, there would be nothing, or a stand∣ing still, which the Iews great Prophet seems mystically to shew, when he saith, God made all things out of Nothing: For there was no Mani∣festation or Appearances before God moved himself on the Face of the Waters; which mo∣ving, seems to signifie the Strife of the various Forms, Qualities and Properties of the hidden Nature, without which nothing could be gene∣rated. But here I must be silent, for we are counted Heathens already, and I do not know what worse Censures may pass upon us, if we too far explain those Notions, which though Page 14 founded in Nature, are yet so disagreeable to the Conceits and Practice of the Multitude. But this we are sure of, that men ought not to hate or suppress any thing but Evil; for Man's most deadly Enemies are within himself; whence one of the wisest of the Iews Kings affirmed, That he that overcame his own Lusts and Passions was a grea∣ter Conqueror than he that subdued a City.
For my own part I shall for the fu∣ture be more careful how I credit Reports; we in our Country are told by our Learned, that you are meer Heathens, Infidels, Idolaters and Worshippers of the Sun, Moon, and all the Host of Hea∣ven.
I nothing wonder that you Europi∣ans should be mistaken about us, who live so re∣mote, since you seem so little to understand the Opinions of each other amongst your selves, eve∣ry one misrepresenting the Sentiments and Do∣ctrines of all that differ from him. 'Tis true, we do highly esteem and admire all the heavenly Host, and those Refulgent Quires of the Coelestials, especially that glorious Eye of the World, the Sun, as being the Handy-Works and Wonderful Powers of the incomprehensible Creator, and think it part of our Duty to express our Grati∣tude and Veneration to the one only Fountain whence all those amazing Wonders proceed; for he that contemns the Streams cannot truly honour the Fountain. Do not your own Pro∣phets teach you to Honour Rulers and Governours,Page 15 because they derive their Government from God▪ And if you do not only worship and bow the Knee one to another (who are at best but brittle animated Dirt) but also reverence the Works of your own Hands, as a man cloathed in goodly Rayment, and the like, how much more ought we to have in high Veneration those wonderful Fountains of Light, Heat, Motion and Vitality, which are the manifested Powers of God, and his upper Vice-gerents and Lieutenants over the lower World? Did not you tell me but now that you esteemed your Hugenotes worthy of Death or Persecution, because they would not pay Esteem and Adoration to a few painted Clouts, the Pictures of their fellow-Creatures, which you call Saints, not knowing whether they be truly so or not; and yet will you condemn our Brachmans, for directing their Esteem to these glo∣rious Master-pieces of the Creation? If you count such lifeless pittiful things, as Wood and Stone, or things painted and fashioned by Man, fit to be Representations of your Godds, and means whereby to enliven your Phantasies and Minds to an higher degree of Devotion (which was the sole intent of the first Inventers of those things) what regard then ought we not to have of those living Powers of God, the Coelestial Bodies, by whose sweet and friendly Influences all created Beeings are preserved and nourished? What is more exciting to a well-disposed Mind than to behold that glorious Body the Sun, with the in∣numerable Page 16 Train of Stars, and the various Spe∣cies in the four Worlds? or what doth more ra∣vishingly declare the Greatness, Goodness, and eternal Wisdom of the immense Creator? This is a Book we study, in which the grand Charter of Nature, and the holy Mysteries of God are recorded, and we think we do not Err in preferring it before the endless and contenti∣ous thwarting Volumns of the Talkative Philo∣sophers and Wrangling School-men.
I have been told, and you seem to own it, That you will not Kill any of the inferior Creatures, nor eat their Flesh; but I pray, hath not Man power to do as he pleaseth with those Creatures? and were not the made for that very purpose?
God hath made all Creatures inferior to Man, who hath freedom to use and do unto them all as he pleaseth, having free will to chuse either Good or Evil; but he that follows the better and leaveth the worse, chuseth the better part, and is made God's Friend, and in Amity with all the Creation; for man is a likeness of all things, and contains their true Natures and Pro∣perties; and therefore whatever he giveth him∣self unto, the same becomes strong in him, be it Virtue or Vice: For which cause, our well-advised Fathers commanded us, our Wives and Children, to abstain from all kinds of Violence and Oppression, especially to those of our own Species, that thereby our Souls might be preser∣ved from being precipitated into Wrath, and so Page 17 retain Humanity, and the more noble Faculties of our Souls unspotted, as well as our Bodies ren∣dred wholsom, clean, and fit to be Temples for the divine Spirit, esteeming Abstinence, Clean∣ness and Separation to be the true Paths that lead to all external and eternal Bliss; it being in our Opinion an unfit, and altogether unworthy thing, that the great, noble and immortal Soul of Man should so much degenerate from its high and illustrious Birth, as to joyn or suffer it self to be incorporated with the low and savage Na∣ture of Beasts. Nor do we think it lawful for us to heat our Veins, and distemper our Blood with Wine, since Water more kindly quench∣eth our Thirst; the innocent and fragrant Herbs and Fruits of our Gardens afford us ample Satis∣faction; and we should be ashamed to make our Bodies the Graves of the inferior Creatures▪ And though our Princes are sometimes harsh and severe to us, yet we pacifie them with meek, submissive and humble Behaviour. And since as little as possible we can, we hurt not any thing, therefore nothing hurts us, but live in perfect Unity and Amity with all the number∣less Inhabitants of the four Worlds, doing by them as we would be done unto, whereby we dis-arm their Rage, and their Fury finds no place against us.
But pray tell me how long you have led this kind of Life; and whether your Sons and Daughters do follow your Religion and Examples; Page 18 for amongst the Europians nothing is more common than for Youth to degenerate, and wander after the Multitude, and abandon their Fathers Rules, especially if they should be but half so singular as you are.
As for the Antiquity of our Course of Life, I think for the greater part, I may date it from the Worlds Original. Your own Doctors teach, that Adam, the first man, was placed in a Garden, and that the green Herb and Tree bearing Fruit was to be to him for Meat; and do generally agree that afterwards, at least during the old World, viz. to the time of the Flood (which was in the Year of the World, 1616.) eating of Flesh was not allowed or practised; and though afterwards it was practised, yet 'tis pro∣bable it did not obtain with all: But there is reason to believe that still the better and more reserved sort did abstain; For about the Year of the World, 3300. (near the time that your holy Records mention Ierusalem to be besieged by Nebuchadnezzar) we find the famous Philo∣sopher Pythagoras flourishing, who expresly taught his Followers (which by reason of his Parts and Virtues were not a few) not to eat any Flesh, but content themselves altogether with Vegetables; and this great man travelling for the acquest and diffusion of Knowledge into divers parts, left not our India unvisited, and there planted this wholsom Doctrine, which ever since hath not wanted Observers, derived down by a continual Succession to our Times. Page 19 'Tis true, our Ancestors have obliged us to some things, which may seem frivolous and vain, as not to kill any kind of Vermin, which are very offensive to the Life of Man: But indeed these Prohibitions well regarded, shew their more deep Wisdom and Fore-sight; for they did con∣sider, that their Philosophy would not only be embraced by Wise Men, but also by a great number of Fools (as the most part of all men are, in one thing or another) and if they should have permitted them to have killed any kind of Creatures, the Foolish would have concluded, they might by the same Rule as well kill others, and so by degrees come to kill men, as most other Nations do. Besides, not only our cleanly re∣gular temperate Lives free us from many of those Vermin wherewith others are troubled, but we take it for a Rule, that such as would live an abstemious separated Life from Evil and Vio∣lence, must refrain from some things that are lawful, as well as from those that are unlawful; as one of your Prophets says excellently, All things are lawful, but not expedient. Touching our Sons and Daughters, they all constantly follow our Foot-steps, and it hath very rarely been known, that any of them have forsaken the Precepts of their Fathers; being descended from a Root of Temperance and Equality, they are naturally Sober and Temperate, for they use not Tippling-Houses, nor spend their Patri∣mony in drinking Wine, Gaming, Debauchery and Page 20Gluttony; so that the more Children we have, the Richer we esteem our selves, they proving no more chargeable to us than Lambs do to Sheep: They all marry Wives of our own Tribe and Religion, and there is no dispute about either Portion or Joynture: Their great∣est Pleasure and chief Recreation is to contem∣plate the Heavens, and their glorious furniture, the Sun, Moon and Stars in their various Moti∣ons and Configurations, as also the pleasant Gar∣dens, Groves and Fountains, and to free the In∣habitants thereof from the Tyranny and Bon∣dage of men as much as in them lies: And so through the whole course of our Lives, abstain∣ing from all that tendeth to Evil, and promoting what we can the good of the whole Creation; we endeavour to imitate the adorable Maker and Conserver of the Universe, whose Off-spring we are, and in whom we live, and move, and have our Beeing.
You have not only gratified my Cu∣riosity, but in several things informed my Vnder∣standing. And I heartily wish that your Virtue and Mo∣rality were crowned with true Christianity, and our Christianity embellisht with the real practice of your Virtue, Temperance and Moderation. And so bid you Farewell.