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“ For neither man nor angel can discern Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks Invisible except to God alone,
By his permissive will, through heaven or earth.” Just so was it with us. Though there was not a complete calm, but only a wholesome agitation, to keep us from stagnating, there were scarcely any billows-certainly not those mountains of waves which now roar all round and about us, and threaten to sink the ship of the state for ever. Brother was not then armed against brother, nor son against father, extinguishing in the abominable and mephitic cauldron of discontent (worse than that of Macbeth's witches) all the sweet charities of kindred that bind man and man together, and make a community of happiness, by a community of interests. Every coxcomb, and every knave, could not, or did not then think he had a right to, force his crudities down our throats, or palm upon us his theoretical abortions, under the name of philosophy or liberty ; nor could wicked, needy, or disappointed men, under the mask of patriotism, seek to raise themselves upon the shoulders of honest fools, to obtain that place in the world which, otherwise, they never could have acquired.
It is not so now. - The charm's wound up.” The “ poisoned entrails ” have been thrown in, and the witches have successfully sung their incantation
“ Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.” Pray heaven that the modern Macbeth, who in his over-weening confidence employed or consulted these witches, and set these poisoned entrails boiling, be not, like the ancient one, “ blanched with fear,” when he sees, if he live to see,
“ Birnham wood remove to Dunsinane." But why do I pray heaven for him ? If he sink himself, as well as others, under the deception of ambition--if he be the first to perish in the storm he has raised-who will pity him? Do we pity the wicked, though once respected, Thane himself, who lost all pity by resolving to be “ king, Cawdor, Glamis, all ?"
Now, methinks, I see you make a face. My letter is thrown down, with your usual “psha!" when you meet with a plea which you cannot get over. You grasp your pen; set your paper in order ; and endeavour to commence an answer which is to demolish me in a moment. But, I beseech you, pause till you read more, both as to my speculation and my resolution ; for to a resolution, and that a decided one,
I In a word, as good can generally be extracted from evil, I have endeavoured to profit by dearbought lessons, and have out of them created this my moral code of nil admirari.
It is my palladium, my panacea, my coat of mail. By wondering at nothing, after seeing so many wonders, I have learned not to feel any thing. I have seen proud men truckle to upstarts; professed despisers of patronage filling the country with new placemen; denouncers of sedition hugging rebels; and the jesuit principle of voting a falsehood, that good may come of it, openly avowed and openly defended. I have seen convicted rogues give themselves the airs of persecuted integrity, and held up by brother rogues as martyrs to virtue; I have seen the grossest blackguardism reduced to a regular system in political warfare. In short, the reign of brutality and vulgar abuse has been established, in lieu of the decencies of life; assassination of the living, and insult to the dead, are fearlessly recommended; and the whole character of the country, among the highest as well as lowest, is changed.
Hence subscriptions for monuments to pseudo patriots, by the first nobles of the land, and English Ministers turned inquisitors, and sitting in judgment on and condemning parties in their absence. These ministers, too, attempting to turn robbers for the good of the state, lauded, not merely by the mob, but by senators and peers, as proverbially honest men. But the best joke of all, is to hear the most violent declaimers against the aristocracy, themselves the most exclusive and frivolous of aristocrats: for of all nonsensical fine people, of all hard and pretending exclusives, in our silly society, you Whigs, who have ever equality and the people in your mouths, reject them most in your hearts, and are yourselves the most exclusive, most usurping, most fine and most repulsive. To think or call us Tories exclusively aristocrat, is the height of boobyism in our booby age; and there is more honest simplicity in the little finger of the greatest man of his time, than in all the bodies of all the courtiers, male and female, about the throne.
Think you, after this, that any hypocrisy, any vice, folly, vanity, or even brutality, can move me ?
No! Apathy is my motto-indifference is my nymph, as much as ever it was Mrs. Greville’s.
“At her approach see Hope, see Fear,
That blasts the promis'd joy." Swift, in his disgust, took refuge in his Vive la Bagatelle; I in the Horation maxim I have recommended. I trust that I shall be more successful than Swift ; for I much mistake if his Bagatelle was not a confounded jilt.
I have chiefly described the public changes of manners;
may not, or do not,
affect private morals; and, vice versa, you may, like others of the new school of moral reformers, think that public turpitude can be ennobled when in the cause of miscalled patriotism, and be perfectly compatible with the most immaculate private worth.
But is this so ? Are not public and private virtues and vices reciprocal ? Will a brute, a murderer, or a robber in his private capacity, become soft, forgiving, or honest in his public one, because he has power to be a still greater brute, robber, or murderer ? or, can a man, infamous in his public capacity, become really virtuous as a private individual ?
I once met a good, or at least a well-intentioned farmer, who was going to vote at an election, for a man disgraced with private vices. As he allowed this, I remonstrated; but was cut short by being told, that a good character was not at all necessary to make a good member of Parliament. I had no more to say, but, like Uncle Toby, would have whistled “Lillibulero,' had I known the tune. As it was, I took refuge in my nil admirari.
Well, but you will ask, what is your resolution ? We know your bias, or rather your first opinions —to what are they about to lead.
I will tell you; nor start when I say, it is to desert the world, so far as to let it ruin itself, if it pleases, in its own way: meantime, to observe every