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had brought from the ships; and when he returned, he hallooed again; and then he went to the great stone which he showed me, and emptied the sack, and laid all out, everything by themselves, and then retired; and his wife came with a little boy to fetch them away; and he called, and said, such a captain had sent such a thing, and such a captain such a thing; and at the end adds, God has sent it all, give thanks to him. When the poor woman had taken up all, she was so weak, she could not carry it at once in, though the weight was not much neither; so she left the biscuit, which was in a little bag, and left a little boy to watch it till she came again.
Well, but, says I to him, did you leave her the four shillings too, which you said was your week's pay?
Yes, yes, says he, you shall hear her own it. So he calls again, Rachel, Rachel, which, it seems, was her name, did you take up the money? Yes, said she. How much was it? said he. Four shillings and a groat, said she. Well, well, says he, the Lord keep you all; and so he turned to go away.
As I could not refrain contributing tears to this man's story, so neither could I refrain my charity for his assistance; so I called him, Hark thee, friend, said I, come hither, for I believe thou art in health, that I may venture thee; so I pulled out my hand, which was in my pocket before, Here, says I, go and call thy Rachel once more, and give her a little more comfort from me; God will never forsake a family that trust in him as thou dost: so I gave him four other shillings, and bid him go lay them on the stone, and call his wife.
I have not words to express the poor man's thank
fulness, neither could he express it himself, but by tears running down his face. He called his wife, and told her God had moved the heart of a stranger, upon hearing their condition, to give them all that money; and a great deal more such as that he said to her. The woman, too, made signs of the like thankfulness, as well to Heaven as to me, and joyfully picked it up; and I parted with no money all that year that I thought better bestowed.
[JONATHAN SWIFT, Dean of St. Patrick's, generally known as Dean Swift, is considered the most original and powerful prose writer of the age in which he lived. He had some of the characteristics of Defoe. He was, like him, deficient in loftiness of imagination. The palpable and familiar objects of life were the sources of his inspiration. He had the faculty of inventing, in his fictitious narratives, all those minute and accurate details, which give an air of reality to his most extravagant pictures. But that in which he most excelled was irony, a species of writing which he may be said to have domesticated in the language. His writings were very numerous. The best edition of them is that by Sir Walter Scott, in nineteen volumes octavo. The most original and extraordinary of his works is his Gulliver's Travels. His ironical vein is well exemplified in his Argument against Abolishing Christianity, from which some pas sages are extracted. The very title is a satire.]
An Argument to prove that the abolishing of Christianity in England may, as things now stand, be attended with some inconveniences, and perhaps not produce those many good effects proposed thereby.
I am very sensible how much the gentlemen of wit and pleasure are apt to murmur and be shocked at
the sight of so many daggle-tail parsons, who happen to fall in their way, and offend their eyes; but, at the same time, those wise reformers do not consider what an advantage and felicity it is for great wits to be always provided with objects of scorn and contempt, in order to exercise and improve their talents, and divert their spleen from falling on each other, or on themselves; especially when all this may be done without the least imaginable danger to their persons.
And to urge another argument of a parallel nature: if Christianity, were once abolished, how could the free-thinkers, the strong reasoners, and the men of profound learning, be able to find another subject so calculated in all points whereon to display their abilities? What wonderful productions of wit should we be deprived of from those whose genius, by continual practice, hath been wholly turned upon raillery and invectives against religion, and would, therefore, be never able to shine or distinguish themselves on any other subject? We are daily complaining of the great decline of wit among us, and would we take away the greatest, perhaps the only topic we have left? Who would ever have suspected Asgill for a wit or Toland for a philosopher, if the inexhaustible stock of Christianity had not been at hand to provide them with materials? What other subject through all art or nature could have produced Tindal for a profound author, or furnished him with readers? It is the wise choice of the subject that alone adorneth and distinguisheth the writer. For had a hundred such pens as these been employed on the side of religion, they would immediately have sunk into silence and oblivion. And therefore, if, notwithstanding all I have said,
it shall still be thought necessary to have a bill brought in for repealing Christianity, I would humbly offer an amendment, that instead of the word Christianity, may be put religion in general; which I conceive will much better answer all the good ends proposed by the projectors of it. For as long as we leave in being a God and his Providence, with all the necessary consequences which curious and inquisitive men will be apt to draw from such premises, we do not strike at the root of the evil, although we should ever so effectually annihilate the present scheme of the Gospel. For of what use is freedom of thought, if it will not produce freedom of action, which is the sole end, how remote soever in appearance, of all ob· jections against Christianity? And therefore the freethinkers consider it a sort of edifice, wherein all the parts have such a mutual dependence on each other, that if you happen to pull out one single nail, the whole fabric must fall to the ground.
It is likewise urged, that there are by computation in this kingdom above ten thousand parsons, whose revenues added to those of my lords the bishops, would suffice to maintain at least two hundred young gentlemen of wit and pleasure, and free-thinking, enemies to priestcraft, narrow principles, pedantry, and prejudices, who might be an ornament to the court and town; and then, again, so great a number of able bodied divines might be a recruit to our fleet and armies. This, indeed, appears to be a consideration of some weight; but then, on the other side, several things deserve to be considered likewise: as, first, whether it may not be thought necessary that in certain tracts of country, like what we call parishes
there should be one man at least of abilities to read and write. Then it seems a wrong computation, that the revenues of the church throughout this island would be large enough to maintain two hundred young gentlemen, or even half that number, after the present refined way of living, that is, to allow each of them such a rent as, in the modern form of speech, would make them easy.
Another advantage proposed by the abolishing of Christianity, is the clear gain of one day in seven, which is now entirely lost, and consequently the kingdom one-seventh less considerable in trade, business, and pleasure; besides the loss to the public of so many stately structures now in the hands of the clergy, which might be converted into play-houses, markethouses, exchanges, common dormitories, and other public edifices.
I hope I shall be forgiven a hard word if I call this a cavil. I readily own there hath been an old custom, time out of mind, for people to assemble in the churches every Sunday, and that shops are still frequently shut up, in order, as it is conceived, to preserve the memory of that ancient practice; but how this can prove a hindrance to business or pleasure, is hard to imagine. What if the men of pleasure are forced, one day in the week, to game at home instead of the chocolate house? are not the taverns and coffee-houses open ? can there be a more convenient season for taking a dose of physic? is not Sunday the chief day for traders to sum up the accounts of the week, and for lawyers to prepare their briefs? But I would fain know how it can be pretended that the churches are misapplied? where are more appoint