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gher. He spent four years on the continent, and on his return in 1721, finding in what general distress the nation was involved in consequence of the failure of the South Sea scheme, he employed his talents in endeavoring to alleviate the public misfortune, and published “ An Essay towards preventing the Ruin of Great Britain.” The same year he went to Ireland as chaplain to the Duke of Grafton, then lord lieutenant, to whom, about two years after, he was indebted for a valuable promotion in the church, the deanery of Derry. He had long, however, had a very benevolent object in view, that of promoting education in the island of Bermuda; and now, determined to carry it into effect, he offered to resign his preferment, and to devote his life to this plan, on an income of £100 per year. He prevailed on three junior fellows of Trinity College, Dublin, to accompany him, and after great exertions he got a charter granted for the erection of a college, to be called “St. Paul's College,” in Bermuda, and a promise of £20,000 from the minister, Sir Robert Walpole. Every thing now promising success to his favorite' object, in the fulness of his heart, and in the prospect of the good that was to be accomplished in the western world, he poured forth the following beautiful effusion, the last verse of which is “ familiar as household words:""
The muse, disgusted at an age and clime
Barren of every glorious theme,
Producing subjects worthy fame:
And virgin earth, such scenes ensue;
And fancied beauties by the true:
Where nature guides, and virtue rules;
The pedantry of courts and schools:
The rise of empire and of arts;
1 This “Scheme," of such famous memory, was originated by John Blount or Blunt, in 1719, a scrivener by profession, and a man of consummate cunning. Engaging a number of persons to join him, he proposed to government to become the sole public creditor; that is, to become responsible for all the debts due from the government to other trading corporations, on condition that he and his company should have the exclusive right of trading with all countries along the shores of the Pacific, or the “South Sea.” The government accepted the proposition, a bill was carried through parliament, and the South Sea Company was established.
The subscriptions to the stock, however, came in but slowly, tin Blunt had the hardihood to circulate a report that Gibraltar and Minorca were about to be exchanged by the ministry for Peru; which arrangement would of course transfer an immense trade at once to the Pacific. Instantaneously the public mind was all inflamed with excitement. Persons of all ages, ranks, and conditions, hastened to purchase the stock; to secure which thousands laid out their last farthing, and very many ran deeply into debt. The subscribers, however, had held their shares but a short time, when a sudden panic arose, and the bursting of the bubble was as complete and as rapid as had been its formation and expansion. Many eminent bankers and goldsmiths, who had advanced large sums of money on the security of the stock, became utterly bankrapt, and countless numbers of families were overwhelmed in ruin. All confidence, in short, both in individuals and in government was at an end, and there was scarcely a mansion or cottage in England of which the inmates were not more or less sufferers from this grand scheme of deception and villany.
The good and great inspiring epic rage,
The wisest heads and noblest hearts.
Such as she bred when fresh and young,
By future poets shall be sung.
The four first acts already past,
Time's noblest offspring is the last.
In September, 1728, he sailed from England for Rhode Island, as the most favorable point from which to sail for the Bermudas. He took up his resi. dence at Newport, where for nearly two years he devoted himself indefatiga. bly to his pastoral labors. The government, however, disappointed him; the money promised was never paid; and he was compelled to abandon his project and return home. In 1732, he published his “Alciphron," or « Minute Philosopher,” a series of dialogues on the model of Plato, between two atheists and two Christians; and in 1734 he was promoted to the vacant bishopric of Cloyne, the duties of which he discharged with great zeal and faithfulness to the end of life, the most tempting offers of more lucrative situations having no influence at all upon him.
His sedentary life at Cloyne having brought disease upon him, and having received much relief in the use of tar-water, he published, in 1744, his “ Siris, a Chain of Philosophical Reflections and Inquiries concerning the Virtues of Tar-water,” a work singularly curious for the multifarious erudition that it embraces, and for the art with which the author has contrived to introduce into it the most profound philosophical and religious speculations. His last work was “Further Thoughts on Tar-water," published in 1752. Desirous to remove to Oxford to educate his son, he offered to resign his bishopric, worth £1400 a year, so averse was he to the idea of non-residence.' But the king would not listen to such a proposition, and said that Berkeley should “die a bishop in spite of himself," but that he might choose his place of residence. Accordingly, after directing that £200 a year should be distributed to the poor of his diocese, he removed to Oxford in July, 1752. He enjoyed his retirement but for a short time, for on Sunday evening, January 14, 1753, while Mrs. Berkeley was reading to him the 15th chapter of the First Corinthians, he expired. On this sublime chapter he was commenting with his usual energy and ability, when he was in an instant deprived of existence by a paralytic affection of the heart.
It may be said of Berkeley, without exaggeration, that, in point of virtue and benevolence, no one of the sons of men has exceeded him. Whether we consider his public or his private life, we pause in admiration of efforts uncommonly exalted, disinterested, and pure. He was alike an object of enthusiastic love and admiration to extensive societies, and to familiar friends; and in the relations of domestic life his manners were uniformly mild, sweet, and engaging, and in a pre-eminent degree calculated to ensure the most durable and affectionate attachment. Such, indeed, were the energy and impressive beauty of his character, that it was impossible to be many hours in his company without acknowledging its fascination and superiority. In short,
1 Some memorials of his liberality still exist in that ancient town.
after the most rigorous survey of the motives and actions of the Bishop of Cloyne, we are tempted to assign, in the language of Mr. Pope, and with no suspicion of hyperbolical praise,
To Berkeley every virtue under heaven.1
NATIONAL LUXURY THE DIRECT ROAD TO NATIONAL RUIN.
Industry is the natural sure way to wealth ; this is so true, that it is impossible an industrious free people should want the necessaries and comforts of life, or an idle, enjoy them under any form of government. Money is so far useful to the public as it promoteth industry; and credit, having the same effect, is of the same value with money; but money or credit circulating through a nation from hand to hand without producing labor and industry in the inhabitants, is direct gaming
It is not impossible for cunning men to make such plausible schemes as may draw those who are less skilful into their own and the public ruin. But surely there is no man of sense and honesty, but must see and own, whether he understands the game or not, that it is an evident folly for any people, instead of prosecuting the old honest methods of industry and frugality, to sit down to a public gaming-table, and play off their money one to another.
The more methods there are in a state for acquiring riches without industry or merit, the less there will be of either in that state ; this is as evident as the ruin that attends it. Besides, when money is shifted from hand to hand in such a blind fortuitous manner, that some men shall from nothing in an instant aca quire vast estates, without the least desert; while others are as suddenly stript of plentiful fortunes, and left on the parish by their own avarice and credulity, what can be hoped for, on the one hand, but abandoned luxury and wantonness, or on the other, but extreme madness and despair ?
In short, all projects for growing rich by sudden and extraordinary methods, as they operate violently on the passions of men, and encourage them to despise the slow moderate gains that are to be made by an honest industry, must be ruinous to the public, and even the winners themselves will at length be involved in the public ruin.
Frugality of manners is the nourishment and strength of bodies politic. It is that by which they grow and subsist, until they are corrupted by luxury,the natural cause of their decay and ruin. Of this we have examples in the Persians, Lacedæmonians, and Romans : not to mention many later governments which have sprung up, continued a while, and then perished by the same natural causes. But these are, it seems, of no use to us; and, in
1 Drake's Essays, vol. iii. p. 74.
spite of them, we are in a fair way of becoming ourselves another useless example to future ages.
Simplicity of manners may be more easily preserved in a republic than a monarchy; but if once lost, may be sooner recovered in a monarchy, the example of a court being of great efficacy, either to reform or to corrupt a people; that alone were sufficient to discountenance the wearing of gold or silver, either in clothes or equipage, and if the same were prohibited by law, the saving so much bullion would be the smallest benefit of such an institution; there being nothing more apt to debase the virtue and good sense of our gentry of both sexes than the trifling vanity of apparel, which we have learned from France, and which hath had such visible ill consequences on the genius of that people. Wiser nations have made it their care to shut out this folly by severe laws and penalties, and its spreading among us can forebode no good, if there be any truth in the observation of one of the ancients, that the direct way to ruin a man is to dress him up in fine clothes.
It cannot be denied that luxury of dress giveth a light behavior to our women, which may pass for a small offence, because it is a common one, but is in truth the source of great corruptions. For this very offence the prophet Isaiah denounced a severe judgment against the ladies of his time.. The scab, the stench, and the burning are terrible pestilential symptoms, and our ladies would do well to consider, they may chance to resemble those of Zion, in their punishment as well as their offence.
But we are doomed to be undone. Neither the plain reason of the thing, nor the experience of past ages, nor the examples we have before our eyes, can restrain us from imitating, not to say surpassing, the most corrupt and ruined people in those very points of luxury that ruined them. Our gaming, our operas, our masquerades, are, in spite of our debts and poverty, become the wonder of our neighbors. If there be any man so void of all thought and common sense, as not to see where this must end, let him but compare what Venice was at the league of Cambray, with what it is at present, and he will be convinced how truly those fashionable pastimes are calculated to depress and ruin a nation.
It is not to be believed, what influence public diversions have on the spirit and manners of a people. The Greeks wisely saw this, and made a very serious affair of their public sports. For the same reason, it will, perhaps, seem worthy the care of our legislature to regulate the public diversions, by an absolute prohibition of those which have a direct tendency to corrupt our morals, as well as by a reformation of the drama; which, when rightly managed, is such a noble entertainment, and gave those fine lessons of morality and good sense to the Athenians of old, and to our British gentry above a century ago; but for these last ninety years, hath entertained us, for the most part, with such wretched things as spoil, instead of improving the taste and manners of the audience. Those who are attentive to such propositions only as may fill their pockets, will probably slight these things as trifles below the care of the legislature. But I am sure, all honest, thinking men must lament to see their country run headlong into all those luxurious follies, which, it is evident, have been fatal to other nations, and will undoubtedly prove fatal to us also, if a timely stop be not put to them.
1 These remarks are as just and applicable now as they were in 1721, when they were first pube lished.
? Road Isaiah ii. 16-24.
ELIZABETH TOLLET. 1694–1754.
ELIZABETH TOLLET was the daughter of George Tollett, Esq., commissioner of the navy, in the reigns of King William and Queen Anne. In a short preface to a volume of her poems printed in 1755, she is mentioned as a woman of great virtue and excellent education. “Her poetry does not rise above mediocrity, and she shows most of the spirit and softness of her sex in the Winter Song.” 1
ON A DEATH'S-HEAD.
1 Southey's Specimens, il. 193.