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among the vulgar, especially in great towns, where the profaneness and ignorance of handicraftsmen, small traders, servants, and the like, are to a degree very hard to be imagined greater. Then it is observed abroad, that no race of mortals hath so little sense of religion, as the English foldiers. To confirm which, I have been often told by great officers of the army, that, in the whole compass of their acquaintance, they could not recollect three of their profession, who seemed to regard or believe one fyllable of the gospel. And the fame at least may be affirmed of the fleet. The consequences of all which, upon the actions of men, are equally manifeft. They never go about, as in former times, to hide or palliate their vices, but expose them freely to view, like
any other common occurrences of life, without the least reproach from the world or themselves. For instance, any man will tell you, he intends to be drunk this evening, or was so last night, with as little ceremony or scruple, as he would tell you the time of the day. He will let you know he is going to a wench, or that he has got a clap, with as much indifferency as he would a piece of public news. He will swear, curse, or blafpheme, without the leaft paffion or provocation. And, though all regard for reputation is not quite laid aside in the other sex, it is however at fo low an ebb, that very
them seem to think virtue and conduct of any necessity for preserving it. If this be not fo, how comes
it to pass, that women of tainted reputations find the same countenance and reception in all public places, with those of the nicest virtue, who pay and receive visits from them, without any manner of scruple? Which proceeding, as it is not very old among us, so I take it to be of most pernicious consequence. It looks like a sort of compounding between virtue and vice; as if a woman were allowed to be vicious, provided she be not a profligate; as if there were a certain point where gallantry ends, and infamy begins; or that an hundred criminal amours were not as pardonable as half a score.
Besides those corruptions already mentioned, it would be endless to enumerate such as arise from the excess of play or gaming; the cheats, the quarrels, the oaths and blasphemies among the men; among the women, the neglect of houshold affairs, the unlimited freedoms, the indecent passion; and, lastly, the known inlet to all lewdness, when, after an ill run, the person must answer the defects of the purse: the rule on such occasions holding true in play, as it does in law, Quod non habet in crumena, luat in corpore.
But all these are trifles in comparison, if we step into other scenes, and consider the fraud and cozenage of trading men and shopkeepers ; that insatiable gulf of injustice and oppression, the law; the open traffic of all civil and military employments, (I wish it rested there *,) without the Jeast regard to merit or qualifications; the corrupt management of men in office, the many detestable abuses in chusing those who reprefent the people, with the management of interests and factions among the representatives ; to which I must be bold to add, the ignorance of some of the lower clergy, the mean servile temper of others, the pert pragmatical demeanour of several young ftagers in divinity, upon their first producing themselves into the world, with many other circumstances needless, or rather invidious to mention, which, falling in with the corruptions already related, have, however unjustly, almost rendered the whole order contemptible.
least Perhaps the author intended to intimate that it extended to ecclesiastical. Hawkes,
This is a short view of the general depravities among us, without entering into particulars, which would be an endless labour. Now, as universal and deep-rooted as these appear to be, I am utterly deceived, if an effectual remedy might not be applied to most of them ; neither am I at present upon a wild speculative project, but such a one as may be easily put in execution.
For, while the prerogative of giving all employments continues in the crown, either immediately, or by subordination, it is in the power of the prince to make piety and virtue become the fashion of the age, if, at the same time, he would make them necessary qualifications for favour and preferment.
It is clear, from present experience, that the bare example of the best prince will not have any VOL. II.
mighty mighty influence, where the age is very corrupt. For, when was there ever a better prince on the throne than the present Queen? I do not talk of her talent for government, her love of the people, or any other qualities that are purely regal, but her piety, charity, temperance, conjugal love, and whatever other virtues do best adorn a private life; wherein, without question or flattery, she hath no superior: yet neither will it be satire, or peevish invective, to affirm, that infidelity and vice are not much diminished since her coming to the crown; nor will, in probability, till more effectual remedies be provided.
Thus human nature seems to ly under the disadvantage, that the example alone of a vicious prince, will, in time, corrupt an age, but the example of a good one will not be sufficient to reform it, without further endeavours. Princes must therefore supply this defect, by a vigorous exercise of that authority which the law has left them, by making it every man's interest and honour to cultivate religion and virtue, by rendering vice a disgrace, and the certain ruin to preferment or pretensions : all which they should first attempt in their own courts and families. For instance, might not the Queen's domestics of the middle and lower fort, be obliged, upon penalty of suspension, or loss of their employments, to a constant weekly attendance on the service of the church; to a decent behaviour in it; to receive the facrament four times a yearl; to avoid
swearing, and irreligious profane discourses, and to the appearance, at least, of temperance and chaftity ? Might not the care of all this be committed to the strict inspection of proper officers ? Might not those of higher rank, and nearer access to her Majesty, receive her own commands to the same purpose, and be countenanced or disfavoured according as they obey ? Might not the Queen lay her injunctions on the bishops, and other great men of undoubted piety, to make diligent enquiry, and give her notice, if any person about her fhould happen to be of libertine principles or morals? Might not all thofe who enter upon any office in her Majesty's family, be obliged to take an oath parallel with that against fimony, which is administered to the clergy? It is not to be doubted, but that, if these, or the like proceedings, were duly observed, morality and religion would soon become fashionable court-virtues, and be taken up as the only methods to get or keep employments there, which alone would have mighty influence upon many of the nobility and principal gentry.
But if the like methods were pursued, as far as poflible, with regard to those who are in the great employments of state, it is hard to conceive how general a reformation they might, in time, produce among us. For if piety and virtue were once reckoned qualifications neceffary to preferment, every man thus endowed, when put into, great stations, would readily imitate the Queen's F 2