« PreviousContinue »
ladies, if they buy with ready money, or intend to pay in any reasonable time, will not drive from shop to shop, to try the market, make as many words, and stand as hard with them to save a groat or sixpence in a yard, as the most necessitous jilts in town. If it be urged that, if there are not, it is possible there might be such people, I answer that it is possible that cats, instead of killing rats and mice, should feed them, and go about the house to suckle and nurse their young ones; or that a kite should call the hens to their neat, as the cock does, and sit brooding over their chickens instead of devouring 'em; but, if they should all do so, they would cease to be cats and kites: it is inconsistent with their natures; and the species of creatures which now we mean when we name cats and kites would be extinct as soon as that could come to pass.
Mandeville, it will be perceived, is no flatterer of human nature; his book, indeed, is written throughout in a spirit not only satirical, but cynical. Every page, however, bears the stamp of independent thinking; and many
of the remarks he throws ont indicate that he had at least glimpses of views which were not generally perceived or suspected at that day. It would probably be found that the Fable of the Bees has been very serviceable in the way of suggestion to various subsequent writers who have not adopted the general principles of the work. The following paragraphs, for example, are remarkable as an anticipation of a famous passage in the Wealth of Nations :
If we trace the most flourishing nations in their origin, we shall find, that, in the remote beginnings of every society, the richest and most considerable men among them were a great while destitute of a great many com, forts of life that are now enjoyed by the meanest and most humble wretches ; so that many things which were once looked upon as the inventions of luxury are now
allowed even to those that are so miserably poor as to become the objects of public charity, nay counted so necessary that we think no human creature ought to want them.
A man would be laughed at that should discover luxury in the plain dress of a poor creature that walks along in a thick parish gown, and a coarse shirt underneath it; and yet what a number of people, how many different trades, and what a variety of skill and tools must be employed to have the most ordinary Yorkshire cloth ? What depth of thought and ingenuity, what toil and labour, and what length of time must it have cost, before man could learn from a seed to raise and prepare so useful a product as linen? Remark T. Vol.i. pp. 182-183 (edit. of 1724).
What a bustle is there to be made in several parts of the world before a fine scarlet or crimson cloth can be produced; what multiplicity of trades and artificers must be employed! Not only such as are obvious, as woolcombers, spinners, the weaver, the cloth-worker, the scourer, the dyer, the setter, the drawer, and the packer ; but others that are more remote, and might seem foreign to it, -as the mill-wright, the pewterer, and the chemist, which yet are all necessary, as well as a great number of other handicrafts, to have the tools, utensils, and other implements belonging to the trades already named. But all these things are done at home, and may be performed without extraordinary fatigue or danger; the most frightful prospect is left behind, when we reflect on the toil and hazard that are to be undergone abroad, the vast seas we are to go over, the different climates we are to endure, and the several nations we must be obliged to for their assistance. Spain alone, it is true, might furnish us with wool to make the finest cloth ; but what skill and pains, what experience and ingenuity, are required to dye it of those beautiful colours ! How widely are the drugs and other ingredients dispersed through the universe that are to meet in one kettle! Alum, indeed, we have of our own; argot we might have from the Rhine, and vitriol from Hungary: all this is in Europe. But then for saltpietre in quantity we are forced to go as far as the East
Indies, Cochenil, unknown to the ancients, is not much nearer to us, though in a quite different part of the earth; we buy it, 'tis true, from the Spaniards; but, not being their product, they are forced to fetch it for us from the remotest corner of the new world in the West Indies. Whilst so many sailors are broiling in the sun and sweltered with heat in the East and West of us, another set of them are freezing in the North to fetch potashes from Russia. Search into the Nature of Society (appended to the second edition), pp. 411-413.
In another place, indeed (Remark Q, pp. 213-216), Mandeville almost enunciates one of the great leading principles of Smith's work: after showing how a nation might be undone by too much money, he concludes, “Let the value of gold and silver either rise or fall, the enjoyment of all societies will ever depend upon the fruits of the earth and the labour of the people ; both which joined together are a more certain, a more inexhaustible, and a more real treasure than the gold of Brazil or the silver of Potosi.” It might be conjectured also from some of his other writings that Smith was a reader of Mandeville : the following sentence, for instance (Remark C, p. 55), may be said almost to contain the germ of the Theory of the Moral Sentiments :-" That we are often ashamed and blush for others . . . is nothing else but that sometimes we make the case of others too nearly our own;-0 people shriek out when they see others in danger :-whilst we are reflecting with too much earnest on the effect which such a blameable action, if it was ours, would produce in us, the spirits, and consequently the blood, are insensibly moved after the same manner as if the action was our own, and so the same symptoms must appear.”
GAY.- ARBUTHNOT. ATTERBURY.
Along with Pope, as we have seen, Swift nunibers among those who would most mourn his death, Gay and Arbuthnot. He survived them both, Gay having died, in his forty-fourth year, in 1732, and Arbuthnot at a much more advanced age in 1735. John Gay, the author of a considerable quantity of verse and of above a dozen dramatic pieces, is now chiefly remembered for his Beggar's Opera, his Fables, his mock-heroic poem of Trivia, or the Art of Walking the Streets of London, and some of his ballads. He has no pretensions to any elevation of genius, but there is an agreeable ease, nature, and sprightliness in everything he has written; and the happiest of his performances are animated by an archness, and light but spirited raillery, in which he has not often been excelled. His celebrated English opera, as it was the first attempt of the kind, still remains the only one that has been eminently successful. Now, indeed, that much of the wit has lost its point and application to existing characters and circumstances, the dialogue of the play, apart from the music, may be admitted to owe its popularity in some degree to its traditionary fame; but still what is temporary in it is intermixed with a sufficiently diffused, though not very rich, vein of general satire, to allow the whole to retain considerable piquancy. Even at first the Beggar's Opera was probably indebted for the greater portion of its success to the music, and that is so happily selected that it continues still as fresh and as delightful as ever. Dr. John Arbuthnot, a native of Scotland, besides various professional works of much ability, is generally regarded as the author of the Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus, printed in the works of Pope and Swift, and said to have been intended as the commencement of a general satire on the abuses of learning, of which, however, nothing more was ever written except Pope's treatise already mentioned on the Bathos, and one or two shorter fragments. The celebrated political satire, entitled The History of John Bull, which has been the model of various subsequent imitations, but of none in which the fiction is at once so apposite and so ludicrous, is also attributed to Arbuthnot. Pope's highly wrought and noble Prologue to his Satires, which is addressed to Arbuthnot, or rather in which the latter figures as the poet's interlocutor, will forever preserve both the memory of their friendship, and also some traits of the character and manner of the learned, witty, and kindhearted physician. The commencement of the reign of the Whigs at the accession of the House of Hanover, which deprived Arbuthnot of his appointment of one of the physicians extraordinary-leaving him, however, in the poet's words,
social, cheerful, and serene, And just as rich as when he served a queenwas more fatal to the fortunes of another of Pope's Tory or Jacobite friends, Francis Atterbury, the celebrated Bishop of Rochester, already mentioned as the principal author of the reply to Bentley's Dissertation on Phalaris. Atterbury also took a distinguished part in the professional controversies of his day, and his sermons and letters, and one or two short copies of verse by him, are well known; but his fervid character probably flashed out in conversation in a way of which we do not gather any notion from his writings. Atterbury was deprived
in and outlawed in 1722; and he died abroad in 1731, his sixty-ninth year.