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licentiousness spread through the basest of the people, of all parties and denominations, that if their skirmishes did not proceed to too great an extremity, one would not be sorry to see them bestowing so liberally upon one another, a chastisement which they so richly deserve. Their thumps and bruises might turn to account, and save the government a great deal of trouble, if they could beat each other into good manners.
Were not advice thrown away on such a thoughtless rabble, one would recommend to their serious consideration what is suspected, and indeed known, to be the cause of these popular tumults and commotions in this great city. They are the Popish missionaries, that lie concealed under many disguises in all quarters of the town, who mix themselves in these dark scuffles, and animate the mob to such mutual outrages and insults. This profligate species of modern apostles divert themselves at the expence of a government which is opposite to their interests, and are pleased to see the broken heads of heretics, in what party soever they have listed themselves. Their treatment of our silly countrynien, puts me in mind of an account in Tavernier's Travels through the East Indies. This author tells us, there is a great wood in those parts very plentifully stocked with monkies; that a large highway runs through the middle of this wood; and that the monkies who live on the one side of this highway, are declared enemies to those who live on the other. When the inbabitants of that country have a mind to give themselves a diversion, it is usual for them to set these poor animals together by the ears; which they do after this manner: They place several pots of rice in the middle of the road, with great heaps of cudgels in the neighbourhood of every pot. The monkies, on the first discovery of these provisions, descend from the trees on either side in prodigious numbers, take up the arms, with which their good friends have furnished them, and belabour one another with a storm of thwacks, to the no small mirth and entertainment of the beholders. This mob of monkies act, however, so far reasonably in this point, as the victorious side of the wood find, upon the repulse of their enemies, a considerable booty on the field of battle ; whereas our party mobs are betrayed into the fray without any prospect of the feast.
If our common people have not virtue enough left among them, to lay aside this wicked and unnatural hatred, which is crept into their hearts against one another, nor sense enough to resist the artifice of those incendiaries, who would animate them to the destruction of their country; it is high time for the gov. ernment to exert itself in the repressing of such seditious tumults and commotions. If that extraordinary lenity and forbearance which has been hitherto shewn on those occasions, proves ineffectual to that purpose, these miscreants of the community ought to be made sensible, that our constitution is armed with a sufficient force for the reformation of such disorders, and the settlement of the public peace.
There cannot be a greater affront to religion, than such a tumultuous rising of the people, who distinguish the times set apart for the national devotions by the most brutal scenes of violence, clamour, and intemperance. The day begins with a thanksgiving, and ends in a riot. Instead of the voice of mutual joy and gladness, there is nothing heard in our streets, but opprobrious language, ribaldry, and contention.
As such a practice is scandalous to our religion, so it is no less a reproach to our government. We are become a by-word among the nations for our ridiculous feuds and animosities, and fill all the public prints of Europe with the accounts of our midnight brawls and confusions.
The mischiefs arising to private persons from these vile disțurbers of the commonwealth are too many to be enumerated. The great and innocent are insulted by the scum and refuse of the people. Several poor wretches, who have engaged in these commotions, have been disabled for their lives, from doing any good to their families and dependants; nay, several of them have fallen a sacrifice to their own inexcusable folly and madness. Should the government be wearied out of its present patience and forbearance, and forced to execute all those powers with which it is invested for the preservation of the public peace; what is to be expected by such heaps of turbulent and seditious men !
These and the like considerations, though they may have no influence on the headstrong unruly multitude, ought to sink into the minds of those who are their abettors, and who, if they escape the punishment here due to them, must very well know that these several mischiefs will be one day laid to their charge.
NO. 51. FRIDAY, JUNE 15.
Quod si in hoc erro, libenter erro; nec mihi hunc errorem, quo delector, dum vivo, extor
As there is nothing which more improves the mind of man, than the reading of ancient authors, when it is done with judgment and discretion; so there is nothing which gives a more unlucky turn to the thoughts of a reader, when he wants discernment, and loves and admires the characters and actions of men in a wrong place. Alexander the Great was so inflamed with false notions of glory, by reading the story of Achilles, in the Iliad, that after having taken a town, he ordered the governor, who had made a gallant defence, to be bound by the feet to his chariot, and afterwards dragged the brave man round the city, because Hector had been treated in the same barbarous manner by his admired hero.
Many Englishmen have proved very pernicious to their own country, by following blindly the examples of persons to be met with in Greek and Roman history, who acted in conformity with their own governments, after a quite different manner, than they would have acted in a constitution like that of ours.
Such a method of proceeding is as unreasonable in a politician, as it would be in a husbandman to make use of Virgil's precepts of agriculture, in managing the soil of our country, that lies in a quite different climate, and under the influence of almost another
Our regicides, in the commission of the most execrable murder, used to justify themselves from the conduct of Brutus, not considering that Cæsar, from the condition of a fellow-citizen, had risen by the most indirect methods, and broken through all the laws of the community, to place himself at the head of the government, and enslave his country. On the other side, several of our English readers, having observed that a passive and unlimited obedience was paid to Roman emperors, who were possessed of the whole legislative, as well as executive power, have formerly endeavoured to inculcate the same kind of obedience, where there is not the same kind of authority.
Instructions, therefore to be learned from histories of this nature, are only such as arise from particulars agreeable to all communities, or from such as are common to our own constitution, and to that of which we read. A tenacious adherence to the rights and liberties transmitted from a wise and virtuous ancestry, public spirit, and a love of one's country, submission to established laws, impartial administrations of justice, a strict regard to national faith, with several other duties, which are the supports and ornaments of government in general, cannot be too
much admired among the states of Greece and Rome, nor too much imitated by our own community.
But there is nothing more absurd, than for men who are conversant in these ancient authors, to contract such a prejudice in favour of Greeks and Romans, as to fancy we are in the wrong
in every circumstance whereby we deviate from their moral or political conduct. Yet nothing hath been more usual, than for men of warm heads to refine themselves up into this kind of statepedantry: like the country school-master, who, being used for many years to admire Jupiter, Mars, Bacchus, and Apollo, that appear with so much advantage in classic authors, made an attempt to revive the worship of the heathen gods. In short, we find many worthy gentlemen, whose brains have been as much turned by this kind of reading, as the grave knight's of Mancha were by his unwearied application to books of knight-errantry.
To prevent such mischiefs from arising out of studies, which, when rightly conducted, may turn very much to our advantage, I shall venture to assert, that in our perusal of Greek or Roman authors, it is impossible to find a religious or civil constitution, any way comparable to that which we enjoy in our own country. Had not our religion been infinitely preferable to that of the ancient heathens, it would never have made its way through Paganism, with that amazing progress and activity. Its victories were the victories of reason, unassisted by the force of human power, and as gentle as the triumphs of light over darkness. The sudden reformation which it made among mankind, and which was so justly and frequently boasted of by the first apologists for Christianity, shews how infinitely preferable it is to any system of religion that prevailed in the world before its appearance. The pre-eminence of Christianity to any other general religious scheme which preceded it appears likewise from this particular, that the most eminent and the most enlightened among the Pagan