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mend them without some suspicion of partiality. My real design is, I confess, the very fame I have often des tested in most dedications; that of publishing your praifes to the world ; not upon the subject of your noble birth, for I know others as noble; or of the greatness of your fortune, for I know others far greater ; or of that beautiful race, (the images of their parents,) which calls you mother ; for even this
may perhaps have been equalled in fome other age or country. Besides, none of these advantages do derive any accomplishments to the owners, but serve, at best, only to adorn what they really possess. What I intend, is your piety, truth, good fense, and good nature, affability, and charity ; wherein I wish your Ladyship had many equals, or any fuperiors; and I wilh I could say, I knew them too, for then your Ladyfhip might have had a chance to escape this address. in the mean time, I think it highly necessary, for the interest of virtue and religion, that the whole kingdom should be informed in fome parts of your character: for instance, That the easiest and politest conversation, joined with the truest piety, may be observed in your Ladyship, in as great perfection as they were ever seen apart in any other persons : That, by your prudence and management, under several disadvantages, you have preserved the lustre of that most noble family into which you are graffed, and which the unmeafurable profafion of ancestors, for many generations, had too much eclipfed : Then how happily you perform en very office of life, to which Providence hath called you; in the education of those two incomparable daughters, whose conduct is so universally admired; in every duty of a prudent, complying, affectionate wife ; in that care. which defcends to the meanest of your domeftics ; and, lastly, in that endless bounty to the poor, and discretion where to distribute it. I insist on my opinion, that it is of importance for the public, to know this, and a great deal more of your Ladyfhip, yet whoever inform them, shall, instead of finding credit, perhaps be censured for a flatterer. To avoid fo usual a reproach, I declare this to be no dedication, but merely an introdu ction to a proposal for the advancement of religion and morals, by tracing, however imperfeétly, fome few linea
goes about to
ments in the character of a Lady, who hath spent al! her life in the practice and promotion of both.
MONG all the schemes offered to the public in
this projecting age, I have observed, with some displeasure, that there have never been any for the improvement of religion and morals: which, besides the piety of the design from the consequence of such a reformation in a future life, would be the best natural means for advancing the public felicity of the state, as well as the present happiness of every individual. For as much as faith and morality are declined among us, I am altogether confident, they might, in a short time, and with no very great trouble, be raised to as high a perfection as numbers are capable of receiving. Indeed the method is so easy and obvious, and some present opportunities fo good, that, in order to have this project reduced to practice, there seems to want nothing more than to put those in mind, who, by their honour, duty, and interest, are chiefly concerned.
Bu'r because it is idle to propose remedies before we are assured of the disease, or to be in fear till we are convinced of the danger; I shall firft Thew in general, that the nation is extremely corrupted in religion and morals; and then I will offer a short scheme for the reformation of both.
As to the first, I know it is reckoned but a form of speech, when divines complain of the wickedness of the age. However, I believe, upon a fair comparison with other times and countries, it would be found an undoubted truth.
For, first, to deliver nothing but plain matter of fact, without exaggeration or satire, I suppose it will be granted, that hardly one in an hundred among our people of quality or gentry appears to act by any prin. ciple of religion; that great numbers of them do entirely discard it, and are ready to own their disbelief of all revelation in ordinary discourse. Nor is the case much better among the vulgar, especially in great towns, where the profaneness and ignorance of handicraftsmen, fmall tra
rs, 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 fo little sense of religion, as the Eng.
lish 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 profeflion, 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
about, as in former times, to hide or palliate their vices, but expose them freely to view, like any o. ther common occurrences of life, without the least re. proach 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 fcruple, as he would tell you the time of the day. He will let
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 fwear, curse, or blaspheme, without the least paffion or provocation. And tho' all regard for reputation is not quite laid afide in the other sex, it is however at fo low an ebb, that very few among them seem to think virtue and conduct of any neceflity for preserving it If this be not fo, how comes it to pass, that women of tainted reputations find the fame countenance and reception in all public places, with those of the nicest virtue, who
and receive visits from them without any manner of fcruple? 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 vitious, 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 household-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 accasions hold.
ing true in play, as it does in law, Quod non habet ir 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 oppreslion, the law; the open traffic for all civil and military employments, (I wish it refted there",) without the least regard to merit or qualifications ; the corrupt management of men in office : the many detestable abuses in chusing those who represent the people ; with the management of interests and faEtions among the representatives : to which I must be bold to add,
the ignorance of some of the lower clergy; the mean fervile temper of others ; the pert pragmatica! demeanour of several young stagers 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 unjusty, almoft rendered the whole order contemptible.
This is a short view of the general depravities among us, without entering into particulars, which would be an endlefs 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 fame 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 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 pure
Perhaps the author intended to intimate that it extended te ecclefiaftical. Hawkes.
ly regal; but her piety, charity, temperance, conjugal love, and whatever other virtues do beft 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 lie under the disadvantage, that the example alone of a vitious 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 sort 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 sacrament four times a-year ; to avoid swearing, and irreligious profane discourses; and to the appearance at leait of temperance and chastity ? 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 fame 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 inquiry, and give her notice, if any person about her fhould happen to be of libertine principles or morals? Might not all those who enter upon any office in her Majesty's family, be obliged to take an oath parallel with that againg fimony, which is administered to the clergy? It is not to be doubted, but that, if these, or the like proceedings. were duly obseryed, morality and religion would soon become fashionable court-virtues, and be the only methods to get or keep employments, there :
ken up as