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from the author's intention, but diametrically opposite to his whole meaning.
Owing to this it has been, that the subject of polygamy has been selected, and the indifcriminate practice of it said to be recommended by the author of Thelyphthora. To guard against this, in the plain and express manner which he has done (vol. ii. p. 174-177. 288, and n.and 335, n.) he is sorry to find was to little purpose : these passages were overlooked, whether intentionally or not, is to be left to those who best know. However, let the whole that the author has written on the subject be taken fairly and candidly together, and it will appear, that nothing more is faid, than is warranted by scripture, nature, and reason, and to prove that the indiscriminate prohibition of it in all cases, however circumstanced—which is no where warranted by the law of God-is one source of public prostitution—which, Montesquieu truly says, “ may “ be looked upon as the greatest of misfor“ tunes in a popular state."
I know no book, the Bible itself not excepted, which may not be abused by partial quotation ;-and by that which is one coniequence of it, misrepresentation. We may prove otheism on David, as having said, pi.. xiv.I. There is no God;--a recommendation of drunkenness from If. civ. 15. where he says, Wine maketh glad the heart of men ;
-or we may suppose, that the prophet Ifaiah, and the apostle Paul, neant to encourage the licentiousness of a Scavoir vivre club-by saying
--Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. Il. xxii. 13. 1 Cor. xv. 32.
Something like the disingenuousness which would attend such proofs as these, has attended the misrepresentation of the author's treating polygamy.--He has maintained its forming a part of the divine plan, which was so evidently calculated for the preservation of the female sex from defertion and prositutionbut by a part only of what is said on the subject being taken, and placed in another point of view, he is accused of recommending polygamy as an indiscriminate praktice, to the subversion of the peace and domestic happiness of every family in the kingdom-an idea as foreign from his purpose, as it was from the Apostle's (1 Tim. v. 23.) to make Timothy a winebibber (OIVOTOTNS) —See Prov. xxiii. 20. Matt. xi. 19.- when he exhorted him to -- drink no longer water, but to use a little wire for his ftomach's fake, and his often infirmities. Thus polygamy is mentioned in no other light, throughout this treatise, but as * expedient in some cases, f necessary in others, to prevent mischiefs of an infinitely more deplorable kind, both to individuals in particular, and to the public in general, than can possibly arise from every man’s being obliged to keep, maintain, and provide for, as the scripture has commanded, the women he feduces---but in order to this, its lawfulness must be proved, for if it be disallowed of God--there is an end of all questions upon the subject, and we
* See vol. ii. p. 178.
must fit down contented under the prefent ruinous state of things, which is every day increasing the licentiousness of our men, the destruction of our women, and the * depopulation of the land.
As for partial and unfair representation, it has been an usual way of injuring arguments which do not easily admit of plain and fair answers.
Thus the Papists served Erasmus, on his publishing his “ Translation and Paraphrase
on the New Testament.” A great clamour was raised against him by the faculty of divinity at Paris, as before at Bahl; and “ Na“ 'talis Bedda, a doctor of divinity, who was at that time Syndic of the
faculty, collected “ several propositions, which, as to the full
import and general senfe of them, were “ lame and imperfect, being separated from “ what went before, and from what fol“ lowed after, and thereby might be taken “ in an ill sense; whereas, if they were red “ with what went before, and what fol“ lowed after, it would be found they were “ found and orthodox.” And thus at length a decree was passed against him, and “ those “ doctors who were on the side of Erasmus, “ were obliged to hold their peace, lest, by
* We were lately toid, in one of the public prints, how truly I cannot say, that-“ a noble Lord stated in “ the House of Commons, with his usual accuracy, that “ the decrease of people in this country, within these ç last 90 years, has been ONE MILLION EIGHT HUN,
DRED THOUSAND.”. Surely this must be an exaggeration--but yet it might be worth while to examine into the increase or decrease of the people.
speaking their thoughts freely, they should " beci me odious, and their lives be made uneasy." See Du Pin, Cent. 16.
P 267–8. Eng. Trans.
What Erasmus wrote on the treatment which he met with from many quarters, on account of his publication, deserves our notice, as containing a proper admonition to those who condemn, because they read with prejudice; and to those who are profligate enough to condemn, without reading at all.
“ Sic oportet ad librum legendum acce“ dere lectorem, ut folet ad convivium cona viva civilis. Convivator annititur omnibus “ satisfacere : & tamen fiquid apponitur,
quod hujus aut illius palato non respon" deat, urbanè vel diffimulant, vel probant
etiam, ne quid contristent convivatorem.
Quis enim eum convivam ferat, qui tan" tùm hoc animo veniat ad menfam, ut car
pens quæ apponuntur, ne vescatur ipse, “ nec alios vefci finat?
“ Et tamen his quoque reperias incivi“ liores, qui palam, qui fine fine damnent
ac lacerent opus, quod nunquam legerint. Atque hoc fane faciunt quidam, qui se Christianæ pietatis doctores profitentur, & religionis antiftites ; cum fit plus quam /ycophanticum, damnare quod nescias.'
As I have too much reason to think that some of the unlearned, as well as the learned, stand much in need of being acquainted with the above, I will give it in English.
« A reader should come to the perusal of
a book, as a courteous guest comes to a
The giver of the feast does his en“ deavour to satisfy all; yet, if any thing be
brought to table, which may not be agreeable to the palate of this or that
per“ fon, they politely dissemble their dislike,
or even approve, rather than grieve him “ who has invited them. For who could “ bear with that guest, who comes to the “ table only with a disposition to find fault, “ and neither to partake himself, nor suffer “ others to partake of the entertainment ?
“ Yet you may find others more uncivil “ than these, who openly, and without end, “ will condemn and tear a work to pieces,
which they have never red. And some do this, who, profess themselves teachers of Christian piety, and eminent * profesors of
religion. Whereas, to condemn that of “ which you are ignorant, is beyond the " baseness of the + bafest informer.
I could easily make some strictures on the
* Antistes properly denotes a chief priest, prelate, or bishop : but is also used for any man eminent among others. AINSWORTH.
Erasmus probably used it in the former sense. The author uses it in the latter, for a reason which some of his readers have more cause, than he wishes they had, to see the propriety of.
+ Sycophanticum, rendered literally, would afford no information to the unlearned reader; the term is therefore paraphrased, in such a manner, as to give an idea of the fort of people which the Greeks called Sycophants, and, of course, what Erasmus means by Sycophanticum. For the derivation and meaning of Sycophants among the Athenians, fee Chambers' Dia.