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When men of learning are actuated thus by a knowledge of the world as well as of books, and show that their studies naturally inspire them with a love to their king and country; they give a reputation to literature, and convince the world of its usefulness. But when arts and sciences are so perverted as to dispose men to act in contradiction to the rest of the community, and to set up for a kind of separate republic among themselves, they draw upon them the indignation of the wise, and the contempt of the ignorant.
It has, indeed, been observed, that persons, who are very much esteemed for their knowledge and ingenuity in their private characters, have acted like strangers to mankind, and to the dictates of right reason, when joined together in a body. Like several chemical waters, that are each of them clear and transparent when separate, but ferment into a thick troubled liquor when they are mixed in the same vial.
There is a piece of mythology which bears very hard upon learned men, and which I shall here relate, rather for the delicacy of the satire, than for the justness of the moral. When the city of Athens was finished, we are told that Neptune and Minerva presented themselves as candidates for the guardianship of the place. The Athenians, after a full debate upon the matter, came to an election, and made choice of Minerva. Upon which, Neptune, who very much resented the indignity, upbraided them with their stupidity and ignorance; that a maritime town should reject the patronage of him who was the god of the seas, and could defend them against all the attacks of their enemies. He concluded with a curse upon the inhabitants, which was to stick to them and their posterity; namely, that they should all be fools.' When Minerva, their tutelary goddess, who presides over arts and sciences, came among them to receive the honour they had conferred upon her, they made heavy complaints of the curse which Neptune had laid upon the city; and begged her, if possible, to take it off. But she told them it was not in her power; for that one deity could not reverse the act of another. However,' said she, ‘I may
alleviate the curse which I cannot remove: it is not possible for me to hinder you from being fools, but I will take care that you shall be learned.”
There is nothing which bodies of learned men should be more careful of, than, by all due methods, to cultivate the favour of the great and powerful. The indulgence of a prince is absolutely necessary to the propagation, the defence, the honour and support of learning. It naturally creates in men's minds an ambition to distinguish themselves by letters; and multiplies the number of those who are dedicated to the pursuits of knowledge. It protects them against the violence of brutal men; and gives them opportunities to pursue their studies in a state of peace and tranquillity. It puts the learned in countenance, and gives them a place among the fashionable part of mankind. It distributes rewards; and encourages speculative persons, who have neither opportunity nor a turn of mind to increase their own fortunes, with all the incentives of place, profit, and preferment. On the contrary, nothing is in itself so pernicious to communities of learned men, nor more apprehended by those that wish them well, than the displeasure of their prince, which those may justly expect to feel, who would make use of his favour to his own prejudice, and put in practice all the methods that lie within their power to vilify his person, and distress his government. In both these cases, a learned body is, in a more particular manner, exposed to the influence of their king, as described by the wisest of men, “The wrath of a king is aş the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as the dew upon
We find in our English histories, that the empress Matilda, (who was the great ancestor of his present majesty, and whose grand-daughter of the same name has a place upon several of the Hanover medals) was particularly favoured by the university of Oxford, and
defended in that place, when most parts of the kingdom had revolted against her. Nor is it to be questioned, but an university so famous for learning and sound knowledge, will show the same zeal for her il-: lustrious descendant, as they will every day discern his majesty's royal virtues, through those prejudices which have been raised in their minds by artful and designing men. It is with much pleasure we see this great fountain of learning already beginning to run clear, and recovering its natural purity and bright
None can imagine that a community which is taxed by the worst of its enemies, only for over-straining the notions of loyalty even to bad princes, will fall short of a due allegiance to the best.
When this happy temper of mind is fully established among them, we may justly hope to see the largest share of his majesty's favours fall upon that university, which is the greatest, and upon all accounts the most considerable, not only in his dominions, but in all Europe.
I shall conclude this paper with a quotation out of Camden's History of Queen Elizabeth, who, after having described that queen's reception at Oxford, gives an account of the speech which she made to them at her departure; concluding with a piece of advice to that university. Her counsel was, “That they would first serve God, not after the curiosity of some, but according to the laws of God and the land; that they would not go before the laws, but follow them; nor dispute whether better might be prescribed, but keep those prescribed already; obey their superiors; and, lastly, embrace one another in brotherly piety and concord.
Hor. It is very justly, as well as frequently observed, that if our nation be ever ruined, it must be by itself. The parties and divisions which reign among us may several ways bring destruction upon our country, at the same time that our united force would be sufficient to secure us against all the attempts of a foreign enemy. Whatever expedients therefore can be found to allay those heats and animosities, which break us into different factions and interests, cannot but be useful to the public, and highly tend to its safety, strength, and reputation.
This dangerous dissension among us discovers itself in all the most indifferent circumstances of life. We keep it up, and cherish it with as much pains, as if it were a kind of national blessing. It insinuates itself into all our discourses, mixes in our parties of pleasure, has a share in our diversions, and is an ingredient in most of our public entertainments.
I was not long ago at the play called Sir Courtly Nice, where, to the eternal reproach of good sense, I found the whole audience had very gravely ranged themselves into two parties, under Hot-head and Testimony. Hot-head was the applauded hero of the Tories, and Testimony no less the favourite of the Whigs. Each party followed their champion. It was wonderful to see so polite an assembly distinguishing themselves by sueh extraordinary representatives, and avowing their principles as conformable either to the zeal of Hot-head, or the moderation of Testimony. Thus the two parts which were designed to expose the faults of both sides, and were accordingly received by our ancestors in King Charles the Second's reign, meet with a kind of sanction from the applauses which are
respectively bestowed on them by their wise posterity. We seem to imagine that they were written as patterns for imitation, not as objects of ridicule.
This humour runs so far, that most of our late comedies owe their success to it. The audience listens after nothing else. I have seen little Dicky place himself with great approbation at the head of the Tories for five acts together, and Pinky espouse the interest of the Whigs with no less success. I do not find that either party has yet thrown themselves under the patronage of Scaramouch, or that Harlequin has violated that neutrality, which, upon his late arrival in Great Britain, he possessed to both parties, and which it is thought he will punctually observe, being allowed on all sides to be a man of honour. It is true, that, upon his first appearance, a violent Whig tradesman in the pit begun to compliment him with a clap, as overjoyed to see him mount a ladder, and fancying him to be dressed in a Highland plaid.
I question not but my readers will be surprised to find me animadverting on a practice that has been always favourable to the cause which now prevails. The British theatre was Whig even in the worst of times; and, in the last reign did not scruple to testify its zeal for the good of our country, by many magnanimous claps in its lower regions, answered with loud huzzas from the upper gallery. This good disposition is so much heightened of late, that the whole neighbourhood of the Drury-lane theatre very often shakes with the loyalty of the audience. It is said, that a young author, who very much relies on this prevailing humour, is now writing a farce, to be called A Match out of Newgate, in allusion to the title of a comedy called A Match in Newgate; and that his chief person is a round-shouldered man with a pretty large nose and a wide mouth, making his addresses to a lovely black woman that passes for a peeress of Great Britain. In short, the whole play is built upon the late escape of General Forster, who is supposed upon the road to