« ZurückWeiter »
and when it is under its greatest Restraints naturally breaks out in Falsehood, Detraction, Calumny, and a partial Administration of Justice. In a word, it fills a Nation with Spleen and Rancour, and extinguishes all the Seeds of Good-nature, Compassion, and Humanity.
I remember to have read in Diodorus Siculus an Account of a very active little Animal, which I think he calls the Ichneumon, that makes it the whole Business of his Life to break the Eggs of the Crocodile, which he is always in search after. This Instinct is the more remarkable, because the Ichneumon never feeds upon the Eggs he has broken, nor any other Way finds his Account in them. Were it not for the incessant Labours of this industrious Animal, Ægypt, says the Historian, would be over-run with Crocodiles ; for the Ægyptians are so far from destroying those pernicious Creatures, that they worship them as Gods.
If we look into the Behaviour of ordinary Partizans, we shall find them far from resembling this disinterested Animal; and rather acting after the Example of the wild Tartars, who are ambitious of destroying a Man of the most extraordinary Parts and Accomplishments, as thinking that upon his Decease the same Talents, whatever Post they qualified him for, enter of Course into his Destroyer.
As in the whole Train of my Speculations, I have endeavoured as much as I am able to extinguish that pernicious Spirit of Passion and Prejudice, which rages with the same Violence in all Parties, I am still the more desirous of doing some Good in this Particular, because I observe that the Spirit of Party reigns more in the Country than in the Town. It here contracts a kind of Brutality and rustick Fierceness, to which Men of a politer Conversation are wholly Strangers. It extends itself even to the Return of the Bow and the Hat; and at the same time that the Heads of Parties preserve towards one another an outward Show of Good-breeding, and keep up a perpetual Intercourse of Civilities, their Tools that are dispersed in these outlying Parts will not so much as mingle together at a Cock-match. This Humour fills the Country with several periodical Meetings of Whig Jockies and Tory Fox-hunters ; not to mention the innumerable Curses, Frowns, and Whispers it produces at a QuarterSessions. I do not know whether I have observed in
of my former Papers, that my Friends Sir Roger DE COVERLEY and Sir ANDREW FREEPORT are of different Principles, the first of them inclined to the landed, and the other to the monied Interest. This Humour is so moderate in each of them, that it proceeds no farther
than to an agreeable Rallery, which very often diverts the rest of the Club. I find however that the Knight is a much stronger Tory in the Country than in Town, which, as he has told me in my Ear, is absolutely necessary for the keeping up his Interest. In all our Journey from London to his House we did not so much as bait at a Whig-Inn; or if by chance the Coachman stopped at a wrong Place, one of Sir Roger's Servants would ride up to his Master full Speed, and whisper to him that the Master of the House was against such an one in the last Election. This often betrayed us into hard Beds and bad Cheer; for we were not so inquisitive about the Inn as the Inn-keeper; and, provided our Landlord's Principles were sound, did not take any Notice of the Staleness of his Provisions. This I found still the more incon. venient, because the better the Host was, the worse generally were his Accommodations; the Fellow knowing very well that those who were his Friends would take
up with coarse Diet and an hard Lodging. For these Reasons, all the while I was upon the Road I dreaded entering into an House of any one that Sir Roger had applauded for an honest Man.
Since my Stay at Sir Roger's in the Country, I daily find more Instances of this narrow Party-humour. Being upon a Bowling-green at a neighbouring Market Town the other Day, (for that is the Place where the Gentlemen of one Side meet once a Week) I observed a Stranger among them of a better Presence and genteeler Behaviour than ordinary; but was much surprised, that notwithstanding he was a very fair Better, no Body would take him up. But upon Inquiry I found, that he was one who had given a disagreeable Vote in a former Parliament, for which Reason there was not a Man upon that Bowling. green who would have so much Correspondence with him as to win his Money of him.
Among other instances of this Nature, I must not omit one which concerns myself. Will Wimble was the other Day relating several strange Stories that he had picked up no Body knows where of a certain great Man; and upon my staring at him, as that was suprised to hear such Things in the Country, which had never been so much as whispered in the Town, Will stopped short in the Thread of his Discourse, and after Dinner asked my Friend Sir Roger in his Ear if he was sure that I was not a Fanatick.
It gives me a serious Concern to see such a Spirit of Dissension in the Country; not only as it destroys Virtue and common Sense, and renders us in a manner Barbarians towards one another, but as it perpetuates
our Animosities, widens our Breaches, and transmits our present Passions and Prejudices to our Posterity. For my own part, I am sometimes afraid that I discover the Seeds of a Civil War in these our Divisions ; and therefore cannot but bewail, as in their first Principles, the Miseries and Calamities of our Children.