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Rochester; and the earl of Godolphin, now lord treasurer, represented by this impartial author as a person at that time deservedly entrusted with so great a part in the prime ministry; an office he now executes again with such universal applause, so much to the queen's honor and his own, and to the advantage of his country, as well as of the whole confederacy.
There are two objections I have sometimes heard to have been offered against those memoirs that were printed in the author's lifetime, and which these now published may perhaps be equally liable to. First, as to the matter; that the author speaks too much of himself; next, as to the style ; that he affects the use of French words, as well as some turns of expression peculiar to that language.
I believe those who make the former criticism do not well consider the nature of memoirs : it is to the French (if I mistake not) we chiefly owe that manner of writing; and sir William Temple is not only the first, but I think the only Englishman (at least of any consequence), who ever attempted it. The best French memoirs are writ by such persons as were the principal actors in those transactions they pretend to relate, whether of wars or negotiations. Those of Sir William Temple are of the same nature; and therefore, in my judgment, the publisher (who sent them into the world without the author's privity) gave them a wrong title when he called them “Memoirs of what passed in Christendom,” &c., whereas it should rather have been “ Memoirs of the Treaty of Nimeguen,” which was plainly the sense of the author, who in the epistle tells his son, that “in compliance with his desire, he will leave him some memoirs of what passed in his public employments abroad;" and in the book itself, when he deduces an account of the state of the war in Christendom, he says, it is only to prepare the reader for a relation of that famous treaty; where he and Sir Lionel Jeukins were the only mediators that continued any considerable time; and as the author was first in commission, so in point of abilities or credit, either abroad or at home, there was no sort of comparison between the two persons. Those memoirs, therefore, are properly a relation of a general treaty -of peace, wherein the author had the principal as well as the most honorable part in quality of mediator; so that the frequent mention of himself seems not only excusable but necessary. The same may be offered in defence of the following papers; because during the greatest part of the period they treat of, the author was in chief confidence with the king his master. be added, that, in the few preliminary lines at the head of the first
To which may
page, the author professes he writ those papers “ for the satisfaction of his friends hereafter, upon the grounds of his retirement, and his resolution never to meddle again with public affairs.” As to the objection against the style of the former Memoirs, that it abounds in French words and turns of expression; it is to be considered that at the treaty of Nimeguen, all business, either by writing or discourse, passed in the French tongue; and the author having lived so many years abroad, in that and foreign embassies, where all business, as well as conversation, ran in that language, it was hardly possible for him to write upon public affairs without some tincture of it in his style, though in his other writings there be little or nothing of it to be observed; and as he has often assured me, it was a thing he never affected; so, upon the objections made to his former Memoirs, he blotted out some French words in these, and placed English in their stead, though perhaps not so significant.
There is one thing proper to inform the reader, why these Memoirs are called the Third Part, there having never been published but one part before, where, in the beginning, the author mentions a former part, and in the conclusion promises a third. The subject of the first part was chiefly the triple alliance, during the negotiation of which my lord Arlington was secretary of state and chief minister. Sir William Temple often assured me he had burnt those Memoirs; and for that reason was content his letters during his embassies at the Hague and Aix-la-Chapelle, should be printed after his death, in some manner to supply that loss.
What it was that moved sir William Temple to burn those first Memoirs, may perhaps be conjectured from some passages in the second part, formerly printed. In one place, the author has these words: “My lord Arlington, who made so great a figure in the former part of these Memoirs, was now grown out of all credit,” &c. In other parts he tells us, “ That lord was of the ministry which broke the triple league ; advised the Dutch war and French alliance; and, in short, was the bottom of all those ruinous measures which the court of England was then taking;" so that, as I have been told from a good hand, and as it seems very probable, he could not think that lord a person fit to be celebrated for his part in forwarding that famous league while he was secretary of state, who had made such counterpaces to destroy it. At the end I have subjoined an Appendix, containing, besides one or two other particulars, a Speech of sir William Temple's in the house of commons: and an Answer of the King's to an Address of that House, relating to the Bill of Exclusion; both which are mentioned in these Memoirs.
I have only farther to inform the reader, that, although these papers were corrected by the author, yet he had once intended to insert some additions in several places, as appeared by certain hints or memorandums in the margin; but whether they were omitted out of forgetfulness, neglect, or want of health, I cannot determine; one passage relating to sir William Jones he was pleased to tell me, and I have added it in the Appendix. The rest I know nothing of; but the thread of the story is entire without them.
A MEDITATION UPON A BROOMSTICK.
ACCORDING TO TIE STYLE AND MANNER OF THE HONORABLE
ROBERT BOYLE'S MEDITATIONS.
This single stick, which you now behold ingloriously lying in that neglected corner, I once knew in a flourishing state in a forest: it was full of sap, full of leaves, and full of boughs : but now, in vain does the busy art of man pretend to vie with nature, by tying that withered bundle of twigs to its sapless trunk: it is now, at best, but the reverse of what it was, a tree turned upside-down, the branches on the earth, and the root in the air; it is now handled by every dirty wench, condemned to do her drudgery, and, by a capricious kind of fate, destined to make other things clean, and be nasty itself: at length, worn to the stumps in the service of the maids, it is either thrown out of doors, or condemned to the last use, of kindling a fire. When I beheld this I sighed, and said within
myself, Surely man is a Broomstick! Nature sent him into the world strong and lusty, in a thriving condition, wearing his own hair on his head, the proper branches of this reasoning vegetable, until the axe of intemperance has lopped off his green boughs, and left him a withered trunk: he then flies to art, and puts on a periwig, valuing himself upon an unnatural bundle of hairs (all covered with powder), that never grew on his head; but now, should this our broomstick pretend to enter the scene, proud of those. birchen spoils it never bore, and all covered with dust, though the sweepings of the finest lady's chamber, we should be apt to ridicule and despise its vanity. Partial judges that we are of our own excellences and other men's defaults !
But a broomstick, perhaps, you will say, is an emblem of a tree standing on its head; and pray what is man, but a topsy-turvy creature, his animal faculties perpetually mounted on his rational, his head where his heels should be, grovelling on the earth! and yet, with all his faults, he sets up to be a universal reformer and corrector of abuses, a remover of grievances, rakes into every slut's corner of nature, bringing hidden corruption to the light, and raises a mighty dust where there was none before; sharing deeply all the while in the very same pollutions he pretends to sweep away; his last days are spent in slavery to women, and generally the least deserving; till, worn out to the stumps, like his brother besom, he is either kicked out of doors, or made use of to kindle. flames for others to warm themselves by.
A TRITICAL ESSAY
UPON THE FACULTIES OF THE MIND.
TO SIR,- Being so great a lover of antiquities, it was reasonable to suppose you would be very much obliged with anything that was ·
I have been of late offended with many writers of moral discourses, for running into stale topics and threadbare quotations, and not handling their subject fully and closely; all which errors I have carefully avoided in the following essay, which I have proposed as a pattern for young writers to imitate. The thoughts and observations being entirely new, the quotations untouched by others, the subject of mighty importance, and treated with much order and perspicuity, it has cost me a great deal of time; and I desire
will accept and consider it as the utmost effort of my genius.
A TRITICAL ESSAY, &c. PHILOSOPHERS say, that man is a microcosm, or little world, resembling in miniature every part of the great; and, in my opinion, the body natural may be compared to the body politic; and if this be so, how can the Epicurean's opinion be true, that the universe was formed by a fortuitous concourse of atoms; which I will no more believe, than that the accidental jumbling of the letters of the
alphabet, could fall by chance into a most ingenious and learned treatise of philosophy. Risum teneatis amici? This false opinion must needs create many more: it is like an error in the first concoction, which cannot be corrected in the second; the foundation is weak, and whatever superstructure you raise upon it, must, of necessity, fall to the ground. Thus men are led from one error to another, until, with Ixion, they embrace a cloud instead of Juno; or, like the dog in the fable, lose the substance in gaping at the shadow. For such opinions cannot cohere; but, like the iron and clay in the toes of Nebuchadnezzar's image, must separate and break in pieces. I have read in a certain author, that Alexander wept because he had no more worlds to conquer: which he needed not have done, if the fortuitous concourse of atoms could create one: but this is an opinion fitter for that many-headed beast, the vulgar, to entertain than for so wise a man as Epicurus; the corrupt part of his sect only borrowed his name, as the monkey did the cat's claw to draw the chestnut out of the fire.
However, the first step to the cure is to know the disease; and though truth may be difficult to find, because, as the philosopher observes, she lives in the bottom of a well, yet we need not, like blind men, grope in open daylight. I hope I may be allowed, among so many far more learned men, to offer my mite, since a stander-by may sometimes, perhaps, see more of the game than he that plays it. But I do not think a philosopher obliged to account for every phenomenon in nature, or drown himself with Aristotle, for not being able to solve the ebbing and flowing of the tide in that fatal sentence he passed upon himself, Quia te non capio, tu capies me. Wherein he was at once the judge and the criminal, the accuser and the executioner. Socrates, on the other hand, who said he knew nothing, was pronounced by the oracle to be the wisest man in the world.
But to return from this digression : I think it as clear as any demonstration of Euclid, that nature does nothing in vain; if we were able to dive into her secret recesses, we should find that the smallest blade of grass, or most contemptible weed, has its particular use : but she is chiefly admirable in her minutest compositions; the least and most contemptible insect most discovers the art of nature, if I may so call it, though nature, which delights in variety, will always triumph over art: and as the poet observes,
Naturam expellas furcâ licet, usque recurret.