Hor. The Method by which a Stop was put to it, was strictly to punish and never to pardon Any that either sent or accepted of Challenges, whether they fought or not.
Cleo. This was not trusted to only. An Edict was publish'd in the Year 1651, by which Courts of Honour were erected throughout the Kingdom, with Gentlemen Commissioners in every Bailiwick, that were to have Advice of, and immediately to interpose in all Differences that might arise between Gentlemen. The Difficulty they labour'd under was, that they would abolish the Custom of Duelling without parting with the Notions of Honour; destroying of which must have been certain Ruin to a warlike Nation, that once had received them; and therefore they never design'd, that the Worship of the Idol should cease, but they only try'd, whether it was not to be satisfied with less valuable Victims, and other Sacrifices besides human Blood. In the Year 1653, Lewis XIV. set forth another Declaration against Duels; in which having made some Additions to his former Edict, he commands the Marshals of France to draw up a Regulation touching the Satisfactions and Reparations of Honour, which they should think necessary for the several Sorts of Offences. This Order was immediately obey'd, and nineteen Articles were drawn up and publish'd accordingly. In these, calling a Man Fool, Coward, or the Like, was punish'd with a Month's Imprisonment; and after being released, the Offender was to declare to the Party so offended, that he had wrongfully and impertinently injur'd him by outragious Words, which he own'd to be false, and ask'd him to forgive. Giving one the Lie, or threatning to beat him, was two Month's Imprisonment, and the Submission to be made afterwards yet more humble than the foregoing. For Blows, as striking with the Hand, and other Injuries of the same Nature, the Offender was to lye in Prison Six Months, unless, at the Request of the offended, half of that Time was chang'd into a pecuniary Mulct, that might not be under Fifteen Hundred Livres, to be paid before he was set at Liberty, for the Use of the Nearest Hospital to the Abode of the offended; after which, the Offender was to submit to the same Blows from the offended, and to declare by Word of Mouth, and in Writing, that he had struck him in a Brutish Manner, and beg'd him to pardon and forget that Offence.
Hor. What Mortal could submit to such Condescensions?
Cleo. For Caning, or Blows given with a Stick, the Punishment was still more severe; and the Offender was to beg pardon upon his Knees.
Hor. I should have no great Opinion of a Man's Honour, who would not chuse to Die rather than comply with such Demands.
Cleo. Several thought as you do, and were hang'd for their Pains. But what Need a Man come to those Extremes, when he could have Satisfaction for any real Offence that might provoke him? For the Articles took Notice of, and made ample Provisions against all Manner of Injuries, from the most trifling Offences to the highest Outrages, and were very severe against all those that should refuse to submit to the Penalties imposed. The Marshals of France remain'd the Supreme Judges in all these Matters; and under them acted the Governours and Lieutenants General of Provinces, in whose Absence the Gentlemen Commissioners in every Bailiwick, having Power to call the Officers of Justice to their Assistance, were to take all provisional Care imaginable; so that no Lawyers or Mechanicks had a Hand in composing any Differences concerning the Point of Honour.
Hor. All these Things, we'll say, are wisely contriv'd; but in complaining first there is a meanness which a Man of Honour cannot stoop to.
Cleo. That the Instinct of Sovereignty will always bid Men revenge their own Wrongs, and do Justice to themselves, is certain. But I wanted, to shew you the Equivalent, that wise Men substituted in the Room of Dueling, and which Men of unqueston'd Honour took up with. The Scheme was contrived by Men of tried Valour, whose Example is always of great Weight: Besides, from the Nature of the Remedies that were applied to the Evil, it must always follow, that those who had given the greatest Proofs of their Courage, would be the most ready to subscribe to those Articles.
Hor. In our last Conversation but one you told me, that  all Laws pointed at, and tally'd with some Frailty or Passion in our Nature; pray, what is it that these Laws of Honour tally with?
[Footnote 7: Fable of the Bees, part II. page 318.]
Cleo. It is self-evident, that they point at Self-liking and the Instinct of Sovereignty. But what is singular in these Laws is, that in their Operation they are the reverse of all others.
Hor. I don't understand you.
Cleo. All other Precepts and Commandments are visibly labouring to restrain the Passions, and cure the Imperfections of our Nature; but these Regulations of Honour are endeavouring to prevent Mischief, by soothing and flattering the Frailties they point at. In Offences against a Man's Honour, Pardon is not ask'd of God or the King, but of him who receiv'd the Affront. It is he, therefore, whom all the Address and Homage are paid to: He is the Idol that is kneel'd to, and the only Sovereign that can forgive the Trespasses committed against himself. The Punishment of the first Aggressor, you see, is altogether a Compliment to the Person offended, whose Wrath the Law is so far from blaming, that it justifies it, and gives him an Opportunity of indulging it by the Indignity it puts upon the Offender. The real Mischief is not apprehended from the Offender, but the Person offended; and therefore it is him, whom the Law coaxes and wheedles into good Humour, by offering him a Reparation that shall be equally honourable with what he would chuse, tho' less prejudicial to the Society. What the Law promises is a Tribute to the same Passion which he wants to gratify, a Sacrifice to the Idol which he himself adores. Should Any one personate these Laws, and, representing the Sentiments on those who made them, speak to a Man of Honour, who had receiv'd an Affront, an Officer of the Guards, we'll say, who had been call'd Fool by his Equal, the Purport of the Discourse would be this: You are very much in the Right, Sir, to be highly incensed against the Man who dared to call you Fool, you that are a Man of Honour, to whom, as such, the whole World ought to pay the highest Esteem. You have not only an undoubted Right to do your Self justice, and revenge the Affront that has been given you; but there is likewise such a Necessity of your resenting it, that if you could tamely put up the Injury you have receiv'd, and neglect demanding Satisfaction, you would deserve to be branded with Ignominy, and all Men of Honour would justly refuse ever to converse with you for the future. But the Person, whom you have this Affair with, being likewise a Man of Honour, it is greatly to be fear'd, that upon your demanding Satisfaction of him, a Battle will ensue, which, between two Persons who value their Honours a Thousand Times more than their Lives, will probably be fatal to one, if not to both; you are therefore earnestly desired by the King himself, that for his Sake you would make some Alteration in the Manner of taking that Satisfaction which you ought to receive; and the Marshals of France have not only given it under their Hands, that the Equivalents, which they have proposed for Fighting, will be as entire a Reparation to your Honour as can be obtain'd by Arms; but moreover they have promised and engaged their Honours, that in Cases of Affronts they will take up and content themselves with the same Equivalents, and on all Occasions submit to the same Regulations, which you are now desired to follow. And that it may appear, how highly reasonable this Request is; you are likewise desired to take the following Remonstrance into your Consideration: That the Valour and Steadiness of Men of Honour: are the grand Support of all States and Kingdoms, is a Truth not to be denied; and that not only the Peace and Tranquility, and all the Blessings we enjoy, but likewise the King's Crown and Safety would be precarious without them, is as unquestionable. For this Reason all wise Princes, Magistrates and Governours, will ever take all imaginable Care, on the one Hand, to cultivate and encourage the most noble Principle of Honour, and, on the other, to encrease the Numbers of the worthy Posessors of it, by favouring and on all Occasions shewing them the most tender Affection, as well as highest Esteem. It is easy then to be imagin'd, that a Monarch, who loves his People, and has the Interest of his Nation at Heart, must be sensibly afflicted to see it become a common Practice for such valuable Men to destroy one another, and behold that Bravery and Spirit, which should only be made Use of against the Enemies of the Country, hourly employ'd and lavish'd away in private Quarrels, that can have no other Tendency that the weakening of the Kingdom, and which, if suffer'd to go on, must compleat its Ruin.
Hor. You make these Laws speak very notably.
Cleo. I have said Nothing but what is certainly imply'd in them. Every Man in France knew, that the chief Motive of all those Edicts against Duelling, was the Loss of the brave Men that was sustain'd by that Custom. The Sinfulness of it was the least Consideration.
Hor. There, I believe, you wrong them, for I have seen some of these Edicts, where Duelling is call'd an Antichristian Practice, which God was highly offended at.
Cleo. In wording of the Edicts, indeed, some such Thing was put in for Form's Sake; but the Regulations themselves, by which the Men of Honour were to walk, were openly Antichristian; and in some Cases, instead of Teaching Men to forgive those that had trespas'd against them, they obliged and forced the Offended to shew their Resentment, tho' they would rather not, and desired to be excused.
Hor. Where the Affront was very heinous, I know what you say is true. But you set these Things in a strange Light. I can make the same Glosses upon our Laws, which oblige me to prosecute a Man that has robb'd me, if I can catch him, whether I will or not; and he shall be hang'd, tho' I forgive him the Injury, and even would beg his Life.
Cleo. There is a vast Difference between the two Cases, a Robbery, and an Affront: No body hinders you from forgiving a Man that robb'd you; but notwithstanding your pardoning him, he is punish'd for acting against the Laws; therefore his Offence is against the King, who is the Guardian and Superintendant of them. And No body but the King can pardon the Trespasses that are committed against his Crown and Dignity. Whoever robs you, must be hang'd, because he robb'd, not because he robb'd YOU in particular: Tho' you are bound to prosecute him for Robbing you, yet the Injury is reckon'd as done to the Publick; and you become a Criminal your Self, if you connive at his Escape, tho' he restor'd to you what he had robb'd you of. But in the Case of an Affront the Injury is reckon'd to be done to him only who receiv'd it. His Anger, as I said before, is thought to be just, and his Resentment reasonable, till an ample Satisfaction be made him; therefore it is He who is to be appeas'd, and He only who is to be applied to. The Laws that were compiled by the Marshals of France, don't pretend to mend the Heart, and lay no greater Restraint on the Spirit of Revenge, than Matrimony does on the Desire of Procreation; on the Contrary, they flatter the Frailty, and are administring to the Haughtiness of the offended: They are so far from denying him his Demands, or refusing to give him Satisfaction for the Affront, that they appoint it by Authority; in the ordering of which they make such ample Provisions for the Gratification of his Pride, as no reasonable Man could ever think of without blushing. The only Thing they oblige him to is, that he shall take the Satisfaction in such a Manner, as shall be most safe to himself, and least detrimental to the Publick. Now if you will consider first, that those who made these Regulations were Men of undoubted Honour, who hourly feeling the Force of it within themselves, were perfectly well acquainted with the Principle which it is built upon; and secondly, that the profound Humility of the Offender, and his asking Pardon of the offended, are two main Points in the repairing of Honour, necessary postulata, without which those knowing Judges thought it impossible, that an Affront could be forgiven: If, I say, you'll consider these two Things, you'll see plainly, what Passion in Human Nature it is, which those Laws of Honour tally'd with, and likewise that it is true, what I have asserted of them, that instead of reproving, curbing, or diminishing the Frailty that is offensive, which seems to be the Intention of all other Laws, their Aim is to prevent Mischief and do Service to the Civil Society, by approving of, cherishing, and indulging that very Passion, from which the Evil they would prevent can only proceed.
Hor. You think those Regulations were effectual, and yet you seem to dislike them.
Cleo. I dislike them because they are destructive to Religion; and if a Minister of the Gospel was to dissuade and deter Men from Duelling he would do it in quite another Manner. By a Minister of the Gospel I don't mean a Philosophizing Divine, or a polite Preacher, but a sincere Follower of the Apostles, a down-right Christian. He would, in the First Place, insist upon it, that Forgiving of Injuries was a Christian Duty never to be dispens'd with; because it is made the Condition on which we are taught to beg Pardon for our own Offences. In the Second, he would demonstrate that no Man is ever to revenge himself, how highly and how atrociously soever he might have been injured. If ever he heard of a Man's sending a Challenge for having been call'd Fool, or other verbal Injuries, he would reprove his Frowardness and Want of Temper, for resenting such Trifles as the Law of his Country thought it not worthy to take Notice of. He would appeal to his Reason, and ask him, whether he could think, that the Affront he complain'd of, was a sufficient Cause to take away a Man's Life. He would represent to him the Heinousnesss of Murder, God's express Command against it; his Justice, his Wrath, his Vengeance when provok'd. But if all these could not divert the Dueller from his Purpose, he would attack his stubborn Heart in its inmost Recesses, and forget Nothing of what I told you on the Subject in our Second and Third Conversation. He would recommend to him the Fable of the Bees, and, like that, he'd dissect and lay open to him the Principle of Honour, and shew him, how diametrically opposite the Worship of that Idol was to the Christian Religion; the First consisting in openly cherishing and feeding that very Frailty in our Nature, which the latter strictly commands us with all our Might to conquer and destroy. Having convinced him of the substantial Difference and Contrariety between these Two Principles, he would display to him, on the one Hand, the Vanity of Earthly Glory, and the Folly of Coveting the Applause of a Sinful World; and, on the other, the Certainty of a Future State, and the Transcendency of everlasting Happiness over every Thing that is perishable. From such Remonstrances as these the good, pious Man would take an Opportunity of exhorting him to a Christian Self-denial, and the Practice of real Virtue, and he would earnestly endeavour to make him sensible of the Peace of Conscience and solid Comforts that are to be found in Meekness and Humility, Patience, and an entire Resignation to the Will of God.
Hor. How long, pray, do you intend to go on with this Cant?
Cleo. If I am to personate a Christian Divine, who is a sincere Believer, you must give me Leave to speak his Language.
Hor. But if a Man had really such an Affair upon his Hands, and he knew the Person, he had to do with, to be a resolute Man that understood the Sword, do you think he would have Patience or be at Leisure to hearken to all that puritanical Stuff, which you have been heaping together? Do you think (for that is the Point) it would have any Influence over his Actions?
Cleo. If he believ'd the Gospel, and consequently future Rewards and Punishments, and he likewise acted consistently with what he believ'd, it would put an entire Stop to all, and it would certainly hinder him from fending or accepting of Challenges, or ever engaging in any Thing relating to a Duel.
Hor. Pray now, among all the Gentlemen of your Acquaintance, and such as you your Self should care to converse with, how many are there, do you think, on whom the Thoughts of Religion would have that Effect?
Cleo. A great many, I hope.
Hor. You can hardly forbear laughing, I see, when you say it; and I am sure, you your Self would have no Value for a Man whom you should see tamely put up a gross Affront: Nay, I have seen and heard Parsons and Bishops themselves laugh at, and speak with Contempt of pretended Gentlemen, that had suffer'd themselves to be ill treated without resenting it.
Cleo. What you say of my self, I own to be true; and I believe the same of others, Clergymen as well as Laymen. But the Reason why Men, who bear Affronts with Patience, Are so generally despised is, because Every body imagines, that their Forbearance does not proceed from a Motive of Religion, but a Principle of Cowardice. What chiefly induces us to believe this, is the Knowledge we have of our selves: We are conscious within of the little Power which Christianity has over our Hearts, and the small Influence it has over our Actions. Finding our own Incapacity of subduing strong Passions, but by the Help of others that are more violent, we judge of others in the same Manner: And therefore when we see a vain, worldly Man gain such a Conquest over his known and well establish'd Pride, we presently suspect it to be a Sacrifice which he makes to his Fear; not the Fear of God, or Punishment in another World, but the Fear of Death, the strongest Passion in our Nature, the Fear that his Adversary, the Man who has affronted him, will kill him, if he fights him. What confirms us in this Opinion is, that Poltrons shew no greater Piety or Devotion than other People, but live as voluptuously and indulge their Pleasures as much, at least, as any other of the beau monde. Whereas a good Christian is all of a Piece; his Life is uniform; and whoever should scruple to send or to accept of a Challenge for the Love of God, or but from a Fear of his Vengeance, depend upon it, he would have that same Fear before his Eyes on other Occasions likewise: And it is impossible that a Religious Principle, which is once of that Force, that it can make a Man chuse to be despis'd by the World, rather than he would offend God, should not only not be conspicuous throughout his Behaviour, but likewise never influences the Rest of his Actions at any other Time.
Hor. From all this it is very plain, that there are very few sincere Christians.
Cleo. I don't think so, as to Faith and Theory; and I am persuaded, that there are great Numbers in all Christian Countries, who sincerely believe the Bible to be the Word of God, and the old as well as new Testament to be a Revelation from Heaven: But as to Works and Practice I am of your Opinion; and I not only believe, that there are very few sincere and real Christians in their Lives and Conversation, for that is a difficult Task, but I believe likewise, that there are very Few who are sincere in endeavouring to be so, or even in desiring to be real Christians. But this is no Argument against Christianity, or the Reasonableness of its Doctrine.
Hor. I don't say it is. But as the Principle of Honour, whatever Origin it had, teaches Men to be just in all their Dealings, and true to their Engagements, and there are considerable Numbers in every civiliz'd Nation, who really take Delight in this Principle, and in all their Actions are sway'd and govern'd by it, must you not allow, that such a Principle, let it be owing to Education, to Flattery, to Pride, or what you please, is more useful to Society than the best Doctrine in the World, which None can live up to, and but Few endeavour to follow?
Cleo. Tho' those who are deem'd to be Men of Honour, are far from being all really virtuous, yet I can't disprove, that the Principle of Honour, such as it is, does not fully as much Good to Society as Christianity, as it is practised; I say, to Society, and only in respect to Temporals; but it is altogether destructive as to another World: And as the greatest Happiness upon Earth to a good Christian, is a firm Belief, and well grounded Hope, that he shall be Happy in Heaven, so a Man who believes the Gospel, and pretends to value everlasting Happiness beyond any Thing of shorter Duration, must act inconsistently with himself unless he adheres to the Precepts of Christianity, and at the same Time explodes the Principle of Honour, which is the very Reverse of it.
Hor. I own, that in the Light you have put them, they seem to be, as you say, diametrically opposite.
Cleo. You see, that those who act from a Principle of Religion, fairly attack the Heart, and would abolish Duelling and all other Mischief, by restraining, conquering, and destroying of Pride, Anger, and the Spirit of Revenge; but these Passions are so necessary to Society for the Advancement of Dominion and worldly Glory, that the Great and Ambitious could not do without them in a Warlike Nation. Those who compiled in France the Regulations we have been speaking of, were well aware of this: They judged from what they felt within, and knew full well, that take away Pride, and you spoil the Soldier; for it is as impossible to strip a Man of that Passion, and preserve in him his Principle of Honour, as you can leave him his Bed after you have taken away the Feathers. A peaceful Disposition and Humility are not Qualities more promising in the Day of Battle, than a contrite Heart an broken Spirit are Preparatives for Fighting. In these Regulations, so often mention'd, it is plainly to be seen, what Pains and Care were taken, not to arraign, or lay the least Blame upon the Principle of Honour, tho' the Kingdom groan'd under a Calamity which visibly arose from, and could be the Effect of no other Cause than that very Principle.
Hor. All the Fault, in my Opinion, ought to be laid on the Tyranny of Custom; and therefore the Marshals of France were in the Right not to depreciate or run the least Risque of destroying or lessening the Principle of Honour, which, I am confident, has been a greater Tie upon Men than any Religion whatever.
Cleo. It is impossible that there should be a greater Tie, a stronger Barrier against Injustice, than the Christian Religion, where it is sincerely believ'd, and Men live up to that Belief. But if you mean, that the Number of Men, who have stuck to the Principle of Honour, and strictly follow'd the Dictates of it, has been greater than that of Christians, who, with equal Strictness, have obey'd the Precepts of the Gospel; if, I say, you mean this, I don't know how to contradict you. But I thought, that I had given you a very good Reason for that, when I shew'd you, that in the Notions of Honour there are many Allurements to draw-in vain worldly Men, which the Christian Religion has not; and that the Severity of this is more mortifying and disagreable to Human Nature, than the Self-denial which is required in the other. There are other Reasons besides, which I have likewise hinted at more than once. A Man may believe the Torments of Hell, and stand in great Dread of them, whilst they are the Object of his serious Reflection; but he does not always think of them, nor will they always make the same Impression upon him, when he does. But in worshiping Honour, a Man adores himself, which is ever dear to him, never absent, never out of Sight. A Man is easily induced to reverence what he loves so entirely.
Hor. The Fear of Shame cannot restrain Men in Things that are done in Secret, and can never be known. Men of Honour are true to their Trust, where it is impossible they should be discover'd.
Cleo. That is not universally true; tho', without doubt, there are many such. The grand Characteristick of a Man of Honour, at least of Modern Honour, is, that he takes no Affront without resenting it, and dares fight Any body without Exception; and such there are that have not common Honesty, and are noted Sharpers. Besides, by Education and conversing constantly with Men of Honour, and some of real Honour and Probity, Persons may contract a strong Aversion to every Thing that is dishonourable. The most effectual method to breed Men of Honour, is to inspire them with lofty and romantick Sentiments concerning the Excellency of their Nature, and the superlative Merit there is in being a Man of Honour. The higher you can raise a Man's Pride, the more refin'd you may render his Notions of Honour.
Hon. The Substance of this you have said twenty Times; but I don't understand your adoring of one's self.
Cleo. I'll endeavour to explain it to you. I am acquainted with Men of Honour, who seem to have a very slender Belief, if any, of future Rewards and Punishiments, and whom yet I believe to be very just Men. Of these there are several, whom I could entirely confide in, and whose Words I would much rather take in Business of Moment than any Bishop's, whom I know Nothing of. What is it that keeps these Men in Awe? What keeps them true to their Word, and steady to their Engagements, tho' they should be Losers by it?
Hor. I don't know any Thing but the Principle of Honour, that is deeply rooted in them.
Cleo. Still the Thing, whatever it be, which a Man loves, fears, esteems, and consequently reverences, is not without, but within himself. The Object then of Reverence, and the Worshiper, who pays it, meeting and remaining in the same Person, maynot such a Person be justly said to adore himself: Nay, it seems to be the common Opinion, that this is true; for unless some Sort of Divinity was supposed, to reside in Men of Honour, their affirming and denying Things upon that Principle could never be thought an Equivalent for an Oath, as to Some it is allow'd to be. Pray, when a Man asserts a Thing upon his Honour, is it not a Kind of Swearing by himself, as others do by God? If it was not so, and there was supposed to be the least Danger, that Men, endued with the Principle of Honour, could deceive or prevaricate, I would fain know, why it should be binding and acquiesc'd in.
Hor. You may say the same of the Quakers; and that there must be supposed to be some Divinity in them, that their solemn Affirmation should be thought equivalent to an Oath.
Cleo. That's quite another Thing. The Quakers take all Oaths whatever, whether they are made before a Magistrate or otherwise, to be sinful, and for that Reason they refuse to Swear at all. But as it is their avow'd Opinion, that a wilful notorious Lie is not less Criminal in the Sight of Heaven than we take Perjury to be, it is evident, that in giving their Testimony, they stake their Salvation equally with other People that make Oath. Whereas those who, with us, are credited upon their Honour, have no such Scruples, and make Oath themselves on other Occasions: The Reason therefore why they don't try Criminals and pronounce their Judgment upon Oath, as other Judges and Juries do, is not, that they think appealing to God or Swearing by his Name to be Sinful, which is the Case of the Quakers; but because they are supposed to be altogether as credible without it, as if they did. And if there was not some Adoration, some Worship, which Men of Honour pay to themselves, the Principle they act from could not have produced the visible Effects it has in so many different Nations.
Hor. You have said several Things which I cannot disprove, and some of them, I own, are probable enough; but you are like to leave me as you found me. The Principle of Honour has lost no Ground in my Esteem; and I shall continue to act from it as I did before. But since you imagine to have so plainly proved, that we are Idols to our Selves, and that Honour is diametrically opposite to Christianity, I wonder you don't call it the Beast in the Apocalypse, and say, that it is the Whore of Babylon. This would be a notable Conceit, and suit Papists as well as Protestants; nay, I fancy, that the Colour of the Whore, and her Thirst after Blood, might be better accounted for from Duelling, than any other Way that has been tried yet.
Cleo. The Revelations of St. John are above my Comprehension; and I shall never laugh at Mysteries for not understanding them.
Hor. What you say of Mysteries, I think, ought to be more justly applied to the Principle of Honour, which we do understand; for whatever it may be derived from, the Advantages the Civil Society receives from it, both in Peace and War, are so many and so manifest, that the Usefulness of it ought to exempt and preserve it from being ridicul'd. I hate to hear a Man talk of its being more or less portable, the melting of it over again, and reducing it to a new Standard.
Cleo. I know, you dislike this in the Fable of the Bees; but if you'll examine into what you have read there, you'll find, that my Friend has ridicul'd Nothing but what deserves it. There is certainly a great Difference between the Men of Honour in former Ages and many of those, who now-a-days assume the Title. A Man in whom Justice, Integrity, Temperance and Chastity are join'd with Fortitude, is worthy of the highest Esteem; but that a debauch'd Fellow, who runs in every Tradesman's Debt, and thinks himself not obliged to pay any Thing but what is borrow'd or lost at Play, should claim the same Regard from us, for no other Reason than because he dares to Fight, is very unreasonable.
Hor. But is he serious, when he speaks of the Men of ancient Honour, of whom he thinks Don Quixot to have been the last?
Cleo. When the Romance-Writers had carried the Prowess and Atchievements of their heroes to an incredible Pitch, was it not ridiculous to see Men in their Senses, not only believe those Extravagancies in good Earnest, but likewise endeavour to imitate those fabulous Exploits, and set about copying after those imaginary Patterns? For it was that which Cervantes exposed in Don Quixot.
Hor. In the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Century, the Spaniards were the best Soldiers in the World; they shew'd themselves on many Emergencies to be a grave and wise Nation, and had many real Patterns of strict Honour and great Virtue among them. Things are as often over-done in Satyrs as they are in Panegyricks; and the Likeness of a Caricatura is no more to be trusted to than that of the most flattering Pencil.
Cleo. I shall always bear the highest Esteem for Men of strict Honour and real Virtue, and will never ridicule what is approved of by Custom, and the Consent of several Ages has render'd valuable; but no Title or Dignity, no Name or Distinction can be so honourable, or so eminent, that a serious Enquirer may not have Leave to trace it to the Bottom. I have acknowledged, that the Word Honour, in its first and genuine Sense, is as ancient as the oldest Language in the World. As to my Conjecture concerning the same Word, as it signifies a Principle which Men act from, I leave it entirely to your Judgment: But whatever the Origin may be of either, it is certain, that whatever the Words Honour and Honourable are join'd with, added or applied to, there is plain Design in them of pleasing and gratifying those it concerns, on Account of the Passion of Self-liking, and a palpable Tendency to humour, approve of, or encrease the good Opinion Man has of himself: As you'll find, on the Contrary, that in the Words Dishonour Shame, Ignominy, and whatever is dishonourable, there is an Intention, or Something imply'd, to displease and mortify those it concerns, on Account of that same Passion of Self-liking, and an Endeavour to lessen, contradict or destroy Self-Esteem, which is that good Opinion which Man has of himself from Nature.
Hor. That the Words Honour and Shame are either literally made Use of, as you say, or metaphorically applied to other Creatures or Things inanimate, I believe: I allow likewise, that the Principle of Honour is found in no Breast that is not possess'd of Self-liking to an eminent Degree; but I don't think that a Fault.
Cleo. The only Fault I have found with the Principle of Honour, is, it's clashing with the Christian Religion. I have told you the Reasons, why the Church of Rome thought it her Interest to reconcile them, and make People believe, that they did not interfere with one another. She has always consulted Human Nature, and ever join'd gay Shew and Pomp, as I have hinted before, to Superstition; well knowing, that, as to keep Man under and in Subjection, you must work upon his Fear, so, to make him act with Alacrity, and obey with Pleasure, where Lucre is out of Question, you must flatter his Pride. It is from this Policy of hers, that all Names of Dignity and Distinction among Christians, as Earl, Baron, Duke, Marquis, &c. had originally their Rise as Hereditary Titles. To the same have been owing all the various Ceremonies of Institutions and Instalments; and Coronations, as well as Inthronizations. Of the Orders of Knighthood, and the vast Multiplicity of them, I have spoke already.
Hor. You give more to the Church of Rome than her Due: Most Countries in Christendom have Orders of Knighthood peculiar to themselves, and of which it is evident, that they were instituted by their own Sovereigns.
Cleo. But look into the Ceremonial of those Institutions, and the great Share the Clergy has in most of them, and you'll easily see, what Stock they sprung from. And tho' the Sovereign, in every Country, is deem'd to be the Fountain of Honour, yet the Sovereigns themselves had their Titles, as well as Coats of arms, from the Popes; nor had they ever any Ensign of Honour, Power or Authority, which they could depend upon, unless it had first been granted, or confirm'd and ratify'd, by the See of Rome.
Hor. I take the Insignia, which the Proconsuls and Proprietors had in the different Provinces of the Roman Empire, and which Pancirolus has wrote of so amply, to have been much after the Nature of Coats of Arms.
Cleo. Those Insignia belong'd to the Office; and a Governour could only make Use of them, whilst he was in it: But hereditary Coats of arms, that were given to particular Men or Societies, by Way of Reward for Services perform'd, were never known; and Heraldry it Self had no Existence, before the Pope's Supremacy had been acknowledged by the Christian World. And if we consider the fine Opportunities, which the most idle and indolent, the most insignificant and unworthy of the Society, often meet with from this Invention of valuing themselves upon Actions that were perform'd several Ages before they were born, and bespeak a Merit which they know in their Consciences that they are destitute of; if, I say, we consider what I have now mention'd, we shall be forc'd to confess, that, of all Arts and Sciences, Heraldry has been the most effectual to stir up and excite in Men the Passion of Self-liking, on the finallest Foundation; and daily Experience teaches us, that Persons of Education and Politeness can taste no Pleasure in any Thing at Home or Abroad, at Church or the Play-House, where the Gratification of this Passion is entirely excluded. Of all the Shews and Solemnities that are exhibited at Rome, the greatest and most expensive, next to a Jubilee, is the Canonization of a Saint. For one that has never seen it, the Pomp is incredible. The Stateliness of the Processions, the Richness of Vestments and sacred Utensils that are display'd, the fine Painting and Sculpture that are expos'd at that Time, the Variety of good Voices and Musical Instruments that are heard, the Profusion of Wax-Candles, the Magnificence which the Whole is perform'd with, and the vast Concourse of People, that is occasion'd by those Solemnities, are all such, that it is impossible to describe them.
Hor. It is astonishing, I own; but what would you infer from them?
Cleo. I would desire you to observe, how vastly different some of the Ends and Purposes are, that Canonizations may be made to serve at the same Time. It is pretended, in the First Place, that they are perform'd to do Justice and pay Veneration to the Memory of those Holy Persons: Secondly, that by Men's worshiping them, they may be induced, among the Rest of the Saints, to intercede with God for the the Sins of their Votaries: And lastly, because it is to be hoped, that among such Numbers as assist at those Solemnities, there are many who will be affected by them, and endeavour to imitate, in their Lives, the holy Examples that are set before them: For there is no Time more seasonable to stir Men up to Devotion and Sentiments of Piety, than when Rapture and high Admiration have been rais'd in them first.
Hor. Besides Canonizations keep up the Reputation of the Roman Catholick Faith; for the new Saints, that are made from Time to Time, are always fresh Witnesses, that Miracles are not ceas'd, and consequently that the Church of Rome continues to be the same Church which Christ and his Apostles first establish'd.
Cleo. You are in the Right; and whilst we consider and give Credit to those Pretences, the Design must seem to be religious; and every Roman Catholick, who is firm in his Belief; is obliged to think, that whatever Cost is bestow'd upon Canonizations, no Money could be laid out better. But if we mind, on the other Side, the strong Sollicitations of the great Men, that either are, or pretend to be the Relations of the venerable Person, whose Holiness they vouch for; the vast Pains that are taken, the Intrigues that are carried on for Years together, to procure this high Favour of the Sacred College; and when it is obtain'd, what an Honour it is to the whole Family; the Visits that are paid from all Parts to every Rich Man that belongs to it, and the Compliments that are made on Account of it; besides the Privileges they receive from it ever after; If, I say, we mind these Things on the other Side, we shall find, that in the Motives from which Men sue for this Honour, there is not a Grain of Religion to an Ounce of Pride, and that what seems to be a Solemnity to celebrate the Sanctity of the Dead, is in Reality a Stratagem of the Church to gratify the Ambition of the Living. The Church of Rome has never made a Step without Regard to her Temporal Interest, and an After-Thought on her Successors, Luther and Calvin, and some Others of the chief Adversaries of Rome, were Men of great Parts, that have gain'd themselves Immortal Names; but it must be confess'd, that they rais'd themselves altogether at the Expence of their Brethren. They gave up both the Patrimony and Dominion of the Church, and made Presents of them to the Secular Powers, that would espouse their respective Causes, and establish their Doctrines; by which, and the destroying of Purgatory, they not only stript the Clergy of their Wealth and Power for the present, but likewise took away the Means by which, one Day or other, it might have been possible for their Successors to retrieve them. It is well for the Protestant Cause, that the Multitude can't hear or know the Wishes, that are made in Secret by many of the Clergy, nor the hearty Ejaculations, which the Men of Spirit among them are often sending after the Memory of the first Reformers, for having left their Order in that Pickle, and almost at the Mercy of the Laity, after they had been made dependent on the Clergy. If those pious Leaders had understood, or at least consulted Human Nature, they would have known, that strict Lives and Austerity of Manners don't go by Inheritance, and must have foreseen, that as soon as the Zeal of the Reformation should begin to cool both the Clergy and the Laity would relax in their Morals; and consequently, that their Successors, after Two or Three Generations, would make wretched Figures, if they were still to continue to preach Christianity without Deceit or Evasions, and pretend to live conformably to the Rules of it: If they had but reflected on what had happen'd in the Infancy of their Religion, they must have easily foreseen what I say.
Hor. What is it that happen'd then?
Cleo. That Christ and his Apostles taught by Example as well as Precepts the Practice of Humility and the Contempt of Riches; to renounce the Pomp and Vanity of the World, and mortify the Flesh, is certain: And that this was striking at the very Fundamentals of Human Nature, is as certain. This could only be perform'd by Men preternaturally affected; and therefore the Founders of Christianity being gone, it could not be expected, that the same Austerity of Life and Self-denial should be continued among the Successors of them, as soon as the Ministry of the Gospel became a Calling, that Men were brought up to for a Livelihood; and considering how essential those mortifying Principles are to Christianity, it is not easy to conceive, how the one could be made still to subsist, when the other should cease to be. But Nothing seems more impracticable than that the Gospel, which those Principles are evidently taught, should ever be turn'd into an inexhaustible Fund of Worldly Comforts, Gain, Honour, and Authority; yet this has been perform'd by the Skill and Industry of the Architects, who have built that Master-Piece of Human Policy, the Church of Rome. They have treated Religion as if it was a Manufacture, and the Church a Set of Workmen, Labourers and Artificers, of different Employments, that all contribute and cooperate to produce one entire Fabrick. In the great Variety of their Religious Houses, you have all the Severity of Manners and Rigour of Discipline, which the Gospel requires, improved upon. There you have perpetual Chastity, and Virgins wedded to Christ: There is Abstinence, and Fasting; there is Mortifying of the flesh, Watching, Praying, the Contempt of Money and Worldly Honour; a literal Retirement from the World, and every Thing you can ask for, relating to Self-denial, as to Carnal Enjoyments and the renouncing of Pomp and Vanity, at least to all outward Appearance. When Men see that Strictness of Morals, and that Christian Self-denial, which are so manifestly taught in the Gospel, own'd by the Clergy, and some where or other actually comply'd with, they will easily give Ear to any Thing that is said to them besides. This grand Point concerning the Austerity of Life, and mortifying the Flesh, being literally understood, and acknowledged by the Clergy to be such, as the Apostles have deliver'd them without Prevarication, it will not be difficult to make the Laity believe, not only mysterious Contradictions, but likewise the most palpable Absurdities, such as Transubstantiation; that the Pope is infallible, and has the Power of Thundering out Anathema's and granting Absolutions; and consequently of damning and saving whom he pleases; that the Pomp and Magnificence of the Sacred College, and even the Luxury of a Court, are laudable Means, and absolutely necessary to keep up the Dignity and outward Luster of the visible Church; and that the Spiritual Welfare of it depends upon Temporal Authority, and cannot be duely taken Care of without large Revenues, Princely Power, Politicks, and Military Force. No Set of Men have deserv'd better of the Church of Rome, than the Writers of Legends and the Forgers of Miracles. In the Lives of the Saints, there is a plausible Representation of the Church Militant; and considering how naural it is for Man to be superstitious, and to love the Merveilleux, Nothing could be thought of more agreeable or edifying than to read of such Numbers of Holy Men and Women, that did not flinch from Combating themselves, and to see the noble Victories that have been obtain'd over the World, the Flesh and the Devil, in a literal Sense, as are to be met with in those judicious Relations.
Hor. But what Analogy is there between the Roman Catholick Religion, and a Manufacture, as you insinuated?
Cleo. The Division of the whole into so many different Branches. The great Prelates, of whom not many have any Religion at all, are yet for Worldly Ends continually watching over the Temporal Interest of it. The little Bishops and ordinary Priests take Care of the Mystical Part of it; whilst the Religious Orders contribute meritorious Works, and seem actually to comply with the harshest Precepts of Christianity, often in a more rigid Construction than the Words themselves will bear.
Hor. Then have the Laity no Share in it?
Cleo. Yes; but their Task is the easiest, and what they club towards Religion chiefly consists in Faith and Money. But when Men pretend to be Christians, and Nothing is to be met with in any Part of their Religion, but what is easy and pleasant, and Nothing is required either of the Laity or the Clergy, that is difficult to perform, or disagreeable to Human Nature, there is Room to suspect, that such a Set of People lay claim to a Title, that does not belong to them. When Ministers of the Gospel take Pains to undermine it themselves, and flatly deny the Strictness of Behaviour, and Severity of Manners, that are so manifestly inculcated in every Part of it, I don't wonder, that Men of Sincerity, who can read, should refuse to give Credit to every Thing that is said by such Ministers. It is easier to speak with Contempt of the recluse Lives of the Carthusians, and to laugh at the Austerities of La Trappe, than it is to refute what might be alledg'd from the Gospel to prove the Necessity there is, that to be acceptable to God, Men should fly from Lust, make War with themselves, and mortify the Flesh. When Ministers of Christ assure their Hearers, that to indulge themselves in all earthly Pleasures and Sensualities, that are not clashing with the Laws of the Country, or the Fashion of the Age they live in, will be no Bar to their future Happiness, if they enjoy them with Moderation; that Nothing ought to be deem'd Luxury, that is suitable to a Person's Rank and Quality, and which he can purchase without hurting his Estate, or injuring his Neighbour; that no Buildings or Gardens can be so profusely sumptuous, no Furniture so curious or magnificent, no Inventions for Ease so extravagant, no Cookery so operose, no Diet so delicious, no Entertainments or Way of Living so expensive as to be Sinful in the Sight of God, if a man can afford them; and they are the same, as others of the same Birth or Quality either do or would make Use of, if they could: That a Man may study and be sollicitous about Modes and Fashions, assist at Courts, hunt after Worldly Honour, and partake of all the Diversions of the beau monde, and at the same Time be a very good Christian; when Ministers of Christ, I say, assure their Hearers of this, they certainly teach what they have no Warrant for from his Doctrine. For it is in Effect the same as to assert, that the strictest Attachment to the World is not inconsistent with a Man's Promise of renouncing the Pomp and Vanity of it.
Hor. But what signify the Austerity of Life and Forbearance of Nuns and Friars, if they were real, to all the Rest who don't practise them? And what Service can their Self-denial and Mortification be of to the Vain and Sensual, who gratify every Appetite that comes uppermost?
Cleo. The Laity of the Roman Communion are taught and assured, that they may be of great Service even to the Wicked; nay, it may be proved from Scripture, that the Intercession of the Righteous and Innocent, is sometimes capable of averting God's Vengence from the Guilty. This only wants to be believed; and it is the easiest Thing in the World to make the Multitude believe any Assertion, in which there is Nothing that contradicts receiv'd Opinions, and the common notions which Men have of Things. There is no Truth, that has hitherto been more unanimously believed among all Sects and Opinions of Christians in all Ages, than that the gospel warns Men against Carnal Pleasures, and requires of them Humility, the Contempt of Earthly Glory, and such a Strictness of Manners and Morality, as is difficult for Human Nature to comply with. Now when a clergyman, who pretends to preach the Gospel, puts such Constructions on the plainest texts, in which the Doctrine I spoke of is literally taught, as can only tend to extenuate and diminish the Force of them, and when moreover he leaves no Shifts or Evasions untied, till he has destroy'd the Observance of those Precepts; when a Clergyman, I say, is thus employ'd, it is no Wonder that his Doctrine should raise Doubts and Scruples in his hearers, when they compare it with the common Notions Men have of Christianity.
Hor. I am no Admirer, you know, of Priests of any Sort; but of the Two, I would prefer a Man of Learning and good Sense, who treats me with good Manners, recommends Virtue, and a reasonable Way of Living, to an ill bred sour Pedant, that entertains me with fanatical Cant, and would make me believe, that it is a Sin to wear good Cloaths, and fill my Belly with what I like.
Cleo. There is no Doubt, but the beau monde, and all well bred People, that desire to be judged of from outward Appearance, will always chuse the most easy Casuists; and the more ample the Allowances are, which Clergymen give them, of enjoying the World, the more they'll be pleas'd with them. But this can only be of Service among the Fashionable and the Polite, whose Religion is commonly very Superficial, and whose Virtue is seldom extended beyond good Manners. But what will it do to Men of greater Sincerity, that can and dare examine themselves? What will it do to serious and able Enquirers, that refuse to trust to Outsides, and will not be barr'd from searching into the Bottom of Things? If this was only a Matter of Speculation, a disputable Point in a Ceremony, as whether Men are to sit or to stand at the Performance of it, the Thing might easily be given up: but it plainly appears to be a Theory skilfully raised by Clergymen, to build a Practice upon in their Favour. Those easie Divines don't make such large Allowances to others for Nothing: They speak one Word for the Laity, and two for themselves, and seem to have Nothing more at Heart than to enjoy the Benefit of their own Doctrine. It is no Wonder therefore, that so many of the Clergy are always desirous to converse with the beau monde. Among the best bred People there is seldom any Difference to be seen between Believers and Unbelievers; neither of them give any Trouble to their Pastors, and they are all equally cautious of offending. Polite People contradict No body, but conform to all Ceremonies that are fashionable with Regard to the Time and the Places they are in; and a courtly Infidel will observe Decency at Church, and a becoming Carriage there, for the same Reason that he does it at a Ball, or in the Drawing-Room.
Hor. As to Indulgences and large Allowances, the Roman Catholicks out-do us far, especially the Jesuits, who certainly are the most easy Casuists in the World.
Cleo. They are so; but it is only in the Management of those, whose Consciences are under their Direction. A Jesuit may tell a Man such or such Things are allow'd to Him in particular, and give him Reasons for it from his Quality, or the Post he is in, from the State of his Health, his Temperament, his Age, or his Circumstances: But he'll not deny or explain away the Self-denial and the Mortification in general, that are commanded in the Gospel. When you come to this Point, he'll not lessen the Difficulty and Irksomeness of Christian Duties to Human Nature and the Flesh; but he'll refer you to the Founder of his Order, and the great Self-denial he practis'd: Perhaps he'll relate to you, how that Saint watch'd his Arms all Night, after he had dedicated them, together with his Life, to the Virgin Mary. But that the Gospel requires a literal Mortification of the Flesh, and other hard Tasks from us, is the very Basis which the Pope's Exchequer is built upon. He could have no Colour for enjoining Fasting and Abstinence, if it was not supposed, that he had a Warrant for it from the New Testament. It is this Supposition, that brings all the Grist to his Mill; and thus a Man may eat Flesh in Lent, without a Sin; but tho' he can get the Meat perhaps for Nothing, he shall pay for the Liberty of Eating it. Buying Absolutions implies the Consciousness of having committed a Crime; and No body would give Money for Indulgences, if he thought, that what he desires to be indulged in, was lawful without them. All Multitudes will sooner believe a Man to come from God, who leads an Austere Life himself, and preaches Abstinence and Self-denial to others tho' they themselves, I mean the Hearers, don't practice it, or take any Pains to comply with his Precepts, than they will another, who takes greater Liberties himself, and whose Doctrine is less severe. This the wise Architects of the Church of Rome, who were thoroughly skill'd in Human Nature, were well aware of; and accordingly they have improved upon the Scriptures, and added Lustre to all those Precepts, which is most difficult to comply with; and in commenting on the severest Duties of Christianity, they have been so far from extenuating and explaining away our Obligations to perform them, that they have heighten'd and magnify'd them, not only by Words and in Theory, but the Practice and Example; as is so manifest from the hard and almost incredible Tasks, which many of them have actually impos'd upon themselves, and gone through. They have flinch'd at Nothing on this Head.
Hor. A Man must be very stupid to believe, that his close Attachment to the World, and the Loosness of his own Morals can be atton'd for by the recluse and strict Lives that are led in some Religious Houses.
Cleo. Not so stupid as you imagine: There is Nothing in it that clashes with the common Notions of Mankind. Ceremonies are perform'd by Proxy; Men are Security for one another; and a Debt is not more effectually discharg'd, when we receive the Money from him who borrow'd it, than when it is paid by his Bail, tho' the Principal himself runs away. If there is but real Self-denial to be met with any where in a Religion, it is no difficult Matter to make Multitudes believe, that they have, or may buy, a Share in it: Besides, all Roman Catholicks are brought up in the firm Belief of the Necessity there is of Self-denial. They are strictly forbid to eat Flesh on Fridays; and Pains are taken to inspire them from their very Childhood with a Honour against the breaking of this Commandment. It is incredible, what Force such a Precept is of, and how closely the Influence of it sticks to men, when it has been earnestly inculcated to them from their early Youth. There is no Difficulty in the Thing when they are grown up; and I'll engage, that a Roman Catholick, who always has been accustom'd to this Piece of Observance till he is Five and Twenty Years of Age, will find it more easy afterwards to continue than to leave it off, tho' he should turn Protestant, or even Turk.
Hor. I have often admired at the great Force this senseless Piece of Superstition is of; for I have seen great Reprobates and very loose Fellows among the Roman Catholicks, who stuck at no Manner of Debauchery, and would often talk prophanely, that yet refused to eat Flesh on a Friday, and could not be laugh'd out of their Folly; tho' at the same Time I could see, that they were actually ashamed of it.
Cleo. No Set of People have so artfully play'd upon Mankind as the Church of Rome. In the Use they have made of Scripture, they have consulted all our Frailties; and in their own Interpretations of it, most dextrously adapted themselves to the common Notions of all Multitudes. They knew perfectly well, not only, that all Men are born with the Fear of an invisible Cause, but likewise that it is more natural, or, at least, that the rude and ignorant of our Species are always more apt to suspect, that this invisible Cause is their Enemy, than they are to think it to be their Friend, and will sooner believe it to be an evil and malicious, than a good beneficent Being. To turn this to their Advantage, they made Use of all their Skill and Cunning to magnify the Devil, and cry up his Force and Subtlety, his supernatural Art, his implacable Hatred to Mankind, and great Influence over Human Affairs. All the strange Stories they have spread, the monstrous Fables they have invented, and the gross Lies they have maintain'd, of Spirits, of Witchcraft, and Apparitions, never had any other Tendency than to manifest the Works of Satan, and make Every body afraid of his Power and Stratagems at all Times, and in all Places; which has been a prodigious Gain to them. They never taught any Thing that contradicted Vulgar Opinions, and never gave Men any Ideas of Heaven, that were not borrow'd from Something on Earth. That Courts of Princes are not deem'd to be compleat without Women, has advanced the Virgin Mary to be Queen of Heaven. From the Influence of Mothers, and the Authority they are known to exercise of their Infants, they have drawn the most childish Conclusions to raise Superstition; for to that Notion, and the great Honour which is every where allow'd to be due to Parents, it has been owing, that the Mother of God in the Roman Communion has been all along more address'd and pray'd to, than her Son; and of the Two She seems to be the more venerable Person. All Patrons in ancient Rome had their Clients, whom the protected; and all Favourites of Princes have their Creatures, whose Interests they espouse upon Occasion: This has produced the Invocation of Saints and Angels; and that no Advocates might be wanting in the Celestial Court on any Emergency, the Church has provided, that there is no Town or Country, no Handicraft or Profession, no Pain or Disease, Danger or Distress, but there is a kind Saint for that particular Affair, whose peculiar Province is to preside over and take Care of every Thing that relates to it; which has made the Number of them equal with, if not superiour to that of the Pagan Deities. She knew, that the Incredibility of Things is no Obstacle to Faith among Multitudes; and that in believing of Mysteries, Propositions will not be the less swallow'd for being contradictory to Reason.
Hor. But I thought you was not for keeping Men in Ignorance.
Cleo. What I am for, is not the Question. Priests who would bear an absolute Sway over the Laity, and live luxuriously at their Cost, ought First to make them believe Implicitly: Whereas an honest Clergy, that will teach Nothing concerning Religion, but what is consistent with good Sense, and becoming a rational Creature to believe, ought to deal uprightly with Men throughout the Whole, and not impose upon their Understandings in one Point more than they do in another. From the real Incomprehensibility of God, just Arguments must be drawn for believing of Mysteries that surpass our Capacities. But when a Man has good Reason to suspect, that he who instructed him in these Mysteries, does not believe them himself, it must stagger and obstruct his Faith, tho' he had no Scruples before, and the Things he had been made to believe, are no Ways clashing with his Reason. It is not difficult for a Protestant Divine to make a Man of Sense see the many Absurdities that are taught by the Church of Rome, the little Claim which Popes can lay to Infallibility, and the Priestcraft there is in what they say of purgatory and all that belongs to it. But to persuade him likewise, that the Gospel requires no Self-denial, nor any Thing that is irksome to Nature, and that the Generality of the Clergy of England are sincerely endeavouring, in their Lives and Doctrine, to imitate the Apostles, as nearly as Human Frailty will let them, and is consistent with the Difference of the Age and Manners between their Time and ours; to persuade, I say, a Man of Sense, that these Things are likewise true, would not be so easy a Task. By a Man of Sense, I mean a Man likewise of some Knowledge, who, in the First Place, has read the Bible, and believes the Scripture to be the sole Rule of Faith; and, in the Second, is no Stranger to our Church, or any Thing that is openly to be seen relating to her Clergy, especially the Heads of them, the Bishops; such as their Palaces and Manner of Living; their Translations, Revenues and Earthly Power, together with the Worldly Honours, Precedency and other Privileges, which our Spiritual Lords insist upon to be their Due.
Hor. I have often laugh'd my Self at Apostles in Coaches and Six; but what must at that Rate the Men of Sense and Sincerity among the Roman Catholicks think of their Prelates, who live in much greater Splendour and Luxury than ours? What must they think of the Cardinals and the Pope himself?
Cleo. Think of them? What they please, so they dare not to open their Lips against them, or any Thing which the Clergy are pleas'd to call Sacred. In all Roman Catholick Countries, you know, no Books or Pamphlets may be publish'd, but what are Licensed; and no Man is allow'd to divulge any Sentiments concerning Religion, that are not entirely Orthodox; which in all Countries, so regulated, is a vast Ease and an unspeakable Comfort to the Clergy of the establish'd Church.
Hor. I never thought to hear you speak against the Liberty of the Press.
Cleo. And you never will; for tho' Orthodoxy and the National Clergy are always the Gainers by these Curbs and Prohibitions, yet Truth and Religion are ever the Sufferers by them. But all prudent Men ought to behave according to the Condition they are in, and the Principles as well as Privileges they lay claim to. Reform'd Divines own themselves to be fallible: They appeal to our Reason, and exhort us to peruse the Scripture Ourselves. We live in a Country where the Press is open; where all Men are at full Liberty to expose Error and Falshood, where they can find them; and No body is debarr'd from Writing almost any Thing, but Blasphemy and Treason. A Protestant Clergy ought always to remember the Reasons, which their Predecessors alledg'd for separating themselves from the Roman Communion, and never to forget, that the Haughtiness and Luxury of the Prelates, as well as the Covetousness, the Insolence, and barefac'd Encroachments of the Clergy, were a considerable Part of the Complaints against Popery. No equitable Guides, that have open'd our Eyes to see the Frailties of others, ought to expect from us, that in Regard to themselves we should keep them shut close, and never look upon their Behaviour. The Roman Pastors, who keep their flocks in the Dark, teach them blind Obedience, and never vouchsafe to argue with 'em any more than if they were real Sheep. They don't advise Men to read the Bible, but such Books of Devotion as their Priests shall think proper for them; and are so far from appealing to their Judgment, that they conjure them, on Pain of Damnation, never to trust their Reason, but implicitly to believe whatever the Church shall require of them.
Hor. You put me in Mind of Father Canaye, the Jesuit in St. Evremond. No Reason! No Reason at all!
Cleo. Where the Clergy are possess'd of, and keep up this Authority over the Laity, and the Secular Arm is at their Devotion, to punish whom they condemn, they need not be nice or circumspect in their Manner of Living; and no Pomp or Luxury will easily lessen them in the Esteem of the Multitude. No Protestant Clergy have wrote better in Defence of the Reformation than ours; but others have certainly gone greater Lengths in it, as to Worship and Discipline in outward Appearance. The Difference between the Roman Catholicks and us seems to be less irreconcilable, than it is between them and the Reformed Churches of the united Netherlands and Switzerland; and I am fully persuaded, that the Mother Church despairs not of bringing back to her Bosom this run-away Daughter of hers, and making this Island one Day or other repay with Interest the Losses she has sustain'd by its long Disobedience. Arguments alone will never keep out Popery; and Great Britain being once reconciled to the Church of Rome, would add such a Weight to her Power, that it would not be difficult for her in a little Time to reduce all the Rest of the Protestants by main Force, and entirely to Triumph over what She calls the Northern Heresy.
Hor. We have very good Laws to secure us from the Usurpation of Rome; and the Abbey Lands, that are in the Possession of the Laity, I believe, are a better, I mean, a stronger Argument against the Return of Popery, than ever will be shewn in Print.
Cleo. I believe so too; but it is not easy to determine, what Difficulties and Discouragements true Politicks and never ceasing Industry may not surmount in Time. The Church of Rome is never without Men of great Parts and Application; she entertains Numbers of them; and there is no Government, without Exception, of which the true Interest is so well understood, or so steadily pursued without Interruption, as hers.
Hor. But why may not Protestants have Men of good Sense and Capacity among them, as well as Roman Catholicks? Do not other Countries produce Men of Genius as well as Italy?
Cleo. Perhaps they do; tho' none more. The Italians are a subtle People; and I believe, that consummate Knowledge in State Affairs, and Worldly Wisdom are less precarious at Rome, than in any other Place you can name. Men of uncommon Genius are not born every Day, no more in Italy than any where else; but when in other Countries a good Politician goes off the Stage, either of Life or Business, it is often seen that a Bungler succeeds him, who in a few Years does more Hurt to the Nation, that the other had Time to do them good in a long Administration. This never happens at Rome; and there is no Court in the Universe so constantly supplied with able Managers and crafty Statemen as hers: For how short soever the Lives of most Popes may be, the Sacred College never dies. Tell me now pray, what unlikely Change, what Improbability can you imagine, of which we have not Reason to fear, that, if it be possible at all, it may be brought about by such a Set of Men; when every one's private Interest, as well as that of the Common Cause, are highly concern'd in it, and they are not stinted in Time?
Hor. Assiduity and Patience, I know, will do strange Things, and overcome great Obstacles. That the Church of Rome is more diligent and sollicitous to make Proselytes, than the Protestants generally are, I have long observed.
Cleo. There is no common Cause among the Reformed: The Princes and Laity of different Persuasions would have been firmly united long ago, if the Clergy would have suffer'd it; but Divines, who differ, are implacable, and never known to treat any Adversary with Temper or Moderation; and it has never been seen yet, that Two Sects of Christians did agree, and join heartily in one Interest, unless they were oppress'd, or in immediate Danger of suffering by a common Enemy to both. As soon as that is over, you always see their former Animosities revive. If the Church of Rome had no Hopes left, and given over all Thoughts of ever bringing this Kingdom back within her Pales, you would see the English Seminaries abroad neglected and dropt by Degrees; which she now cultivates with the utmost Care: For it is from them only, that She can be furnish'd with the proper Instruments to keep Popery alive in England, and buoy up the drooping Spirits of the distress'd Catholicks, among the many Hardships and Discouragements, they labour under beyond the Rest of their Fellow-Subjects. Such Offices as these, are every where best perform'd by Natives: Whatever Persuasion People are of, if the National Church of their Country, be not of their Religion, it is natural the them to wish it was; and that all imaginable Care is taken in the English Seminaries to encourage, and with the utmost Skill to heighten and encrease this Natural Desire in those under their Care, no Man can doubt who considers the Abilities of the Tutors that are employ'd in them, and the vast Advantage the Reduction of Great Britain would be to the See of Rome. Whilst those Colleges are constant supply'd with English and Irish Youth, the Popish Interest can never die in this Realm, nor the Church of Rome want insinuating Priests, or hearty Zealots, that will act any part, put on any Disguise, and run any Risque for their Cause, either in Strengthening the Roman Catholicks that are among us in their Faith, or seducing Protestants from theirs. No Foreigners could do us half the Mischief. People love their own Language from the same Motives as they love their Country; and there are no Priests or Clergy, whom Men will sooner hearken to and confide in, than such, as take great Pains and express an uncommon Zeal in their Function, at the same Time that they exercise it at the Hazard of their Liberty or their Lives. The Church of Rome has fit Tools for every Work and every Purpose; and no other Power upon Earth has such a Number of Creatures to serve it, nor such a Fund to reward them when they do. That the Protestant Interest lost Ground soon after it was well establish'd, and is still declining more and more every Day, is undeniable. To one Roman Catholick, that is converted to the Reform'd Religion, Ten Protestants turn Papists, among the highest Quality as well as the Vulgar. What can be the Reason of this Change? What is it that this Evil ought to be imputed to?
Hor. Either the Church of Rome is grown more vigilant and mindful of her Cause since the Reformation, than She was in Luther's Days, or the Protestants are become more negligent and careless of theirs.
Cleo. I believe both to be true, but especially the latter; for if the Maxims, that were most instrumental in bringing about the Reformation, had been continued, they certainly would have prevented, at least in a great Measure, not only this Evil, but likewise another, which is worse, I mean the Growth of Irreligion and Impiety: Nay, I don't question but the same Maxims, if they were to be tried again would have that Effect still.
Hor. This is a fine Secret, and what, I dare say, the Clergy would be glad to know. Pray, which are those Maxims.
Cleo. The Sanctity of Manners and exemplary Lives of the Reformers, their Application and unwearied Diligence in their Calling; their Zeal for Religion, and Disregard of Wealth and Worldly Enjoyments, either real or counterfeited, for that God only knows.
Hor. I did not expect this. The Bench of Bishops won't thank you for your Prescription: They would call it an Attempt to cure the Patients by blistering the Physicians.
Cleo. Those who would call it so, must be strange Protestant Divines.
Hor. I am sure, that some, if not most of them, would think the Remedy worse than the Disease.
Cleo. Yet there is none equal to it, no Remedy so effectual, either to cure us of those Evils, and put an entire Stop to, or to hinder and obstruct the Encrease as well of Atheism and Prophaneness, as of Popery and Superstition. And I defy all the Powers of Priestcraft to name such another, a practicable Remedy, of which there is any Probability, that it would go down or could be made use of in a clear-sighted Age, and among a knowing People, that have a Sense of Liberty, and refuse to be Priest-rid. It is amazing, that so many fine Writers among the Clergy, so many Men of Parts and Erudition should seem very earnestly to enquire into the Causes of Libertinism and Infidelity, and never think on their own Conduct.
Hor. But they'll tell you, that you make the Doctrine of the Gospel stricter than it really is; and I think so too; and that you take several Things literally, that ought to be figuratively understood.
Cleo. When Words are plain and intelligible, and what is meant by them in a literal sense is agreeable to the Tenour and the whole Scope of the Book in which we meet with those Words, it is reasonable to think, that they ought to be literally understood. But if, notwithstanding this, there are others, who are of Opinion, that these Words are to be taken in a figurative Sense, and this figurative Sense is more forced than the literal, and likewise clashing with the Doctrine and the Design of the Book, we have great Reason not to side with their Opinion: But if it appears moreover, that those who contend for the forced, figurative Sense, should be Gainers by it, if their Opinion prevail'd, and it would bring them Profit, Honour, Pleasure, or Ease, then we ought to suspect them to be partial, and the figurative Sense is to be rejected.
Hor. I don't know what to make of you to Day. You have shewn the Roman Catholick Religion to be a bare-faced Imposture; and at the same Time you seem to blame the Protestants for having left it.
Cleo. I am very consistent with my Self. I have laid open to you the Politicks, Penetration and Worldly Wisdom of the Church of Rome, and the Want of them in the Reformers, who exposed the Frauds of their Adversaries, without considering the Hardships and Difficulties, which such a Discovery would entail upon their Successors. When they parted with their Power, and gave up their Infallibility, they should have foreseen the necessary Consequences of the Honesty and Candour. A Reform'd Church, that will own she may err, must prepare for Heresies and Schisms, look upon them as unavoidable, and never be angry with those who dissent from her. They ought likewise to have known, that no Divines, who will preach the Gospel in its Purity, and teach Nothing but Apostolick Truths without Craft or Deceit, will ever be believ'd long, if they appeal to Men's Reason, unless they will likewise lead, or at least endeavour or seem to lead Apostolick Lives. In all Sects and Schisms it has always been and will ever be observed, that the Founders of them either are, or pretend to be Men of Piety and good Lives; but as there never was a Principle of Morality that Men have set out from, so strict yet, that in Tract of Time Human Nature has not got the better of it, so the Successors of those Founders always become more remiss by Degrees, and look out for Ways and Means to render the Practice of their Doctrine, or the Exercise of their Function, more comfortable and commodious: And all Persuasions have ever lost Ground, and been sunk in their Reputation in proportion, as the Teachers of them have relax'd their Manners. No Doctrine ever prevail'd or got any Advantage over the establish'd Religion in any Country, that was not accompanied with a real Austerity of Life, or a Pretence at least to a stricter Morality, and greater Forbearance, than was generally to be seen in the National Church, at the Time in which the Doctrine was advanced. These are eternal Truths, that must flow from the Fabrick, the very Essence of Human Nature. Therefore the Clergy may write and preach as they please: They may have all the Skill and Learning that Mortals can be possess'd of, and all the assistance into the Bargain, that the secular Power can give them in a free Nation, they will never be able long to keep up their Credit with a mixed Multitude, if no Show is made of Self-denial, and they will totally neglect those Means, without which that Credit was never acquired.
The Third Dialogue Between Horatio and Cleomenes.
Horatio. Tho' it is but Two Days ago that I troubled you almost a whole Afternoon, I am come again to spend the Remainder of this, and sup with you, if you are at Leisure.
Cleo. This is exceeding kind. I am no Ways engaged; and you give me a vast Deal of Pleasure.
Hor. The more I have thought and reflected on what you said of Honour last Tuesday, the more I have perceiv'd and felt the Truth of it in Spight of my Teeth. But I shall never dare to speak of so wretched an Origin.
Cleo. The Beginning of all Things relating to Human Affairs was ever small and mean: Man himself was made of a Lump of Earth. Why should we be ashamed of this? What could be meaner than the Origin of Ancient Rome? Yet her own Historians, proud as they were, scrupled not to mention it, after she was arrived at the Height of her Glory, and become a Goddess, Dea Roma, to whom Divine Honours were paid throughout the Empire, and a stately Temple was erected within her own Walls.
Hor. I have often wonder'd at that Dea Roma, and her Statues resembling those of Pallas. What could they pretend her Divinity to consist in?
Cleo. In her vast Power, which every Freeman had the Privilege to imagine, he had a Share in.
Hor. What a Bizar, what a monstrous Humour must it have been, that could make a wife People suppose that to be a Goddess, which they knew to be a City!
Cleo. Nothing in the Universe, but the Pride of the Citizens. But I don't think, that the Humour, which you seem to be so much astonish'd at, is altogether worn off yet. In Poetry, Painting and Sculpture, you see Rivers, Towns, and Countries continue to be represented under the Images of Men and Women as much as ever. Look upon the Marble Figures about the Pedestal of Queen Anne's Statue at St. Paul's.
Hor. But No body is so silly as to worship them.
Cleo. Not in outward Shew, because it is out of Fashion; but the inward Veneration, which is paid by many to the Things represented by those Images, is the very same as it was formerly, and owing to the same Cause.
Hor. In what Part of the World is it, that you have observed this?
Cleo. In Christendom; Here. If you was to hear a vain Man, that is a considerable Inhabitant of any large Capital, when he is speaking on the Part and in Behalf of his City, London for example, Paris or Amsterdam, you would find the Honour, the high Esteem, and the Deference, which in his Opinion are due to it, far superiour to any, that are now paid to Mortal Creatures.
Hor. I believe there is a great Deal in what you say.
Cleo. It is worth your Observation, what I am going to mention. Wherever you see great Power and Authority lodged in a considerable Number of Men, mind the profound Respect and Submission, each Member pays to the whole, and you'll find, that there is great Plenty, throughout the World, of what you said, two Days ago, was inconceivable to you.
Hor. What is that, pray?
Cleo. Idols, that are their own Worshipers, and sincerely adore themselves.
Hor. I don't know but there may be, in your Way of construing Things: But I came with a Design to discourse with you on another Subject. When you said in our last Conversation, that a peaceful Disposition and Humility were not Qualities more promising in the Day of Battle, than a contrite Heart and a broken Spirit are Preparatives for Fighting, I could not help agreeing with your Sentiments; yet it is a common Notion, even among Men of very good Sense, that the best Christians make the best Soldiers.
Cleo. I verily believe, that there are no better Soldiers, than there are among the Christians; and I believe the same of Painters; but I am well assured, that the best in either Calling are often far from being the best Christians. The Doctrine of Christ does not teach Men to Fight, any more than it does to Paint. That Englishmen fight well is not owing to their Christianity. The Fear of Shame is able to make most Men brave. Soldiers are made by Discipline. To make them proud of their Profession, and inspire them with the Love of Glory, are the surest Arts to make them valiant: Religion has Nothing to do with it. The Alcoran bids its Followers fight and propagate their Faith by Arms and Violence; nay, it promises Paradise to All, who die in Battle against Infidels; yet, you see, how often the Turks have turn'd Tail to the Germans, when the latter have been inferiour in Number.
Hor. Yet Men never fight with greater Obstinacy than in Religious Wars. If it had not been taken for granted, that Men were animated to Battle by Preaching, Butler would never have call'd the Pulpit, Drum Ecclesiastick.
Cleo. That Clergymen may be made Use of as Incendiaries, and by perverting the Duties of their Function, set Men together by the Ears, is very true; but no Man was ever made to fight by having the Gospel preach'd to him. From what I have said of Self-liking and Human Nature, the Reason is manifest, why among People, that are indifferent to one another, it is a difficult Task to make a Man sincerely love his Neighbour, at the same Time, that it is the easiest Thing in the World to make him hate his Neighbour with all his Heart. It is impossible that Two distinct Persons or Things should be the same; therefore they must all differ in Something.
Hor. Cannot Two Things be so exactly alike, that they shall differ in Nothing?
Cleo. No: For if they are Two, they must differ in Situation, East and West, the Right and the Left; and there is Nothing so small, so innocent, or so insignificant, that Individuals of our Species can differ in, but Self-liking may make a Handle of it for Quarrelling. This close Attachment and Partiality of every Man to himself, the very Word, Difference, points at, and upbraids us with: For tho' literally it is only a Term, to express that Things are not the same; yet, in its figurative Sense, Difference between Men signifies Disagreement in Opinions, and Want of Concord. For not only different Nations, but different Cities in the same Kingdom, different Wards, different Parishes, different Families, different Persons, tho' they are Twins, or the best Friends in the World, are all in a fair Way of Quarrelling, whenever the Difference, that is between them, be that what it will, comes to be look'd into and discuss'd; if both act with Sincerity, and each Party will speak from the Bottom of their Hearts.
Hor. Self is never forgot; and I believe, that many love their Country very sincerely for the Sake of One.
Cleo. Nay, what is all the World to the meanest Beggar, if he is not to be consider'd as a Part of it?
Hor. This is a little too openly inculcated at Church; and I have often wonder'd, how a Parson, preaching before a few Clowns in a pitiful Village, should, after he has named all the great People in the Nation, pray God to bless more especially the Congregation there assembled; and this at the same Time that the King and the Royal Family are at Prayers likewise; and the House of Lords at one Church, and the House of Commons at another. I think it is an impudent Thing for a Parcel of Country Boobies to desire to be serv'd first, or better, than so many Hundred Congregations, that are superiour to them in Number and Knowledge, as well as Wealth and Quality.
Cleo. Men always join most heartily in Petitions, in which they manifestly have a Share; and that the Especially, you find Fault with was put in from that Consideration, I believe No body denies.
Hor. But there seems to be a low Artifice, a crafty Design, by which the Compilers of those Prayers, knowingly made People lay a Stress upon a Thing, in which there is no Reality. When I hear a Man pray for Blessings on All, especially the Congregation where I am present, it pleases me well enough, and the Word Especially, has its Effect upon me whilst I think no further; but when I consider, that the same Words are said to every audience of the same Church throughout the Kingdom, I plainly find that I was pleas'd with Nothing.
Cleo. Suppose I should own, that it was a Contrivance of those, who composed the Prayers, to raise Devotion, and that this Contrivance had been the Effect of a thorough Knowledge of Human Nature; where would be the Harm, since No body can be injured by it? But to return to our Subject. If Difference in the least Things is capable of raising Anger, there is no Doubt, but it will do it most in Things that are very material, and of the highest Concern: And that Religion in all Countries is an Affair of the greatest Concern, is taken for granted by all good Men, and seldom denied by the bad. This is the Reason, that in Religious Wars Men are more inveterate, and commit more Cruelties, than when they fight upon other Account. Here the worst and most vicious Men have fine Opportunities of gratifying their natural Malice and Rancour of Heart, without being blamed for it; and placing a Merit in doing Mischief. Therefore we see, that those, who are most neglectful of their Duty, and act most contrary to the Dictates of their Religion, are so often the most zealous in fighting for it. There are other Things that help, and all contribute, to make Religious Wars the most bloody. Men are commonly sure of Nothing so much, as they are of the Truth of the Religion they profess; so that in all Religious Quarrels, Every body is satisfied that he has Justice on his Side: This must make Man obstinate. The Multitude in all Countries ascribe to the Deities they worship the same Passions which they feel themselves; and knowing how well pleas'd they are with Every body that is on their Side, and will take their Part, they expect their Reward from Heaven, which they seem to defend; and on that Score they think with Delight on the Losses and Calamities which they make others suffer; whether Churchmen fight with Presbyterians, Papists with Protestants, or Mahometans with Christians of any Sort. Those who are of Opinion, that the best Christians make the best Soldiers, have commonly their Eyes on the Civil Wars both in France and in England.