« PředchozíPokračovat »
is mentioned with contempt. Upon this principle a linen-draper boasted that he had got a new customer, whom he could safely trust, for he could have no doubt of his honesty, since it was known, from unquestionable authority, that he was now filing a bill in chancery to delay payment for the clothes which he had worn the last seven years; and he himself had heard him declare, in a public coffee-house, that he looked upon the whole generation of woollen-drapers to be such despicable wretches, that no gentleman ought to pay them.
It has been observed that physicians and lawyers are no friends to religion? ; and many conjectures have been formed to discover the reason of such a combination between men who agree in nothing else, and who seem less to be
1 In the beginning of the Annotations on Sir Thomas Brown's Religio Laici it is said that “ it is a common speech (but only amongst the unlearned sort) Ubi tres Medici, duo Athei." Of the Doctour of Phisik in the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, l. 438, we read :
His studie was but litel on the Bible." Lawyers have generally been thought friends, if not to religion, at all events to established religion. The following story is told of Lord Chancellor Thurlow:-“A body of Presbyterians made an application to him to assist in repealing certain statutes which disqualified them from holding civil offices. He received the deputation with great civility, but in his own blunt manner replied, 'Why, gentlemen, if your old sour religion had been the Establishment, I might have complied ; but as it is not, you cannot expect me to accede to your request.'"-Campbell's Lives of the Chancellors, ed. 1846, v. 662. Some support is given to Johnson's statement by the fact that the regiment of volunteers raised among the lawyers has always been known as The Devil's Own.
affected, in their own provinces, by religious opinions, than any other part of the community. The truth is, very few of them have thought about religion ; but they have all seen a parson; seen him in a habit different from their own, and therefore declared war against him. A young student from the inns of court, who has often attacked the curate of his father's parish with such arguments as his acquaintances could furnish, and returned to town without success, is now gone down with a resolution to destroy him ; for he has learned at last how to manage a prig, and if he pretends to hold him again to syllogism, he has a catch in reserve, which neither logic nor metaphysics can resist.
I laugh to think how your unshaken Cato
Pours in upon him thus.2 The malignity of soldiers and sailors against each other has been often experienced at the cost of their country: and, perhaps, no orders of men have an enmity of more acrimony, or longer continuance. When, upon our latest successes at sea,3 some new regulations were concerted for establishing the rank of the naval commanders, a captain of foot very acutely remarked, that nothing was more absurd than to give any 1 Such a catch”
“ raised the laugh against poor Moses when he “for managing the argument rationally" against young Squire Thornhill.- Vicar of Wakefield, ch. 7. 2 Addison's Cato, Act ii. sc. 6.
8 In the war which was brought to a close in 1748 by the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle.
honorary rewards to seamen,
“ for honour," ought only to be won by bravery, " and all the world knows that in a sea-fight " there is no danger, and therefore no evidence “ of courage."
But although this general desire of aggrandizing themselves, by raising their profession, betrays men to a thousand ridiculous and mischievous acts of supplantation and detraction, yet as almost all passions have their good as well as bad effects, it likewise excites ingenuity, and sometimes raises an honest and useful emulation of diligence. It may be observed in general, that no trade had ever reached the excellence to which it is now improved, had its professors looked upon it with the eyes of indifferent spectators ; the advances, from the first rude essays, must have been made by men who valued themselves for performances, for which scarce any other would be persuaded to esteem them.
It is pleasing to contemplate a manufacture rising gradually from its first mean state by the successive labours of innumerable minds; to consider the first hollow trunk of an oak, in which, perhaps, the shepherd could scarce venture to cross a brook swelled with a shower, enlarged at last into a ship of war, attacking fortresses, terrifying nations, setting storms and billows at defiance, and visiting the remotest parts of the globe. And it might contribute to dispose us to a kinder regard for the labours of one another if we were to consider from what unpromising beginnings the most useful productions of art have probably arisen. Who, when he saw the first sand or ashes, by a casual intenseness of heat, melted into a metalline form, rugged with excrescences, and clouded with impurities, would have imagined, that in this shapeless lump lay concealed so many conveniences of life, as would in time constitute a great part of the happiness of the world ?
Yet by some such fortuitous liquefaction was mankind taught to procure a body at once in a high degree solid and transparent, which might admit the light of the sun, and exclude the violence of the wind; which might extend the sight of the philosopher to new ranges of existence, and charm him at one time with the unbounded extent of the material creation, and at another with the endless subordination of animal life ; and, what is yet of more importance, might supply the decays of nature, and succour old age with subsidiary sight. Thus was the first artificer in glass employed, though without his own knowledge or expectation. He was facili. tating and prolonging the enjoyment of light, enlarging the avenues of science, and conferring the highest and most lasting pleasures ; he was enabling the student to contemplate nature, and the beauty to behold herself.
This passion for the honour of a profession, like that for the grandeur of our own country, is to be regulated, not extinguished. Every man, from the highest to the lowest station, ought to warm his heart, and animate his endeavours with the hopes of being useful to the world, by advancing the art which it is his lot to exercise, and for that end he must necessarily consider the whole extent of its application, and the whole weight of its import
But let him not too readily imagine that another is ill employed, because, for want of fuller knowledge of his business, he is not able to comprehend its dignity. Every man ought to endeavour at eminence, not by pulling others down, but by raising himself, and enjoy the pleasure of his own superiority, whether imaginary or real, without interrupting others in the same felicity. The philosopher may very justly be delighted with the extent of his views, and the artificer with the readiness of his hands; but let the one remember, that, without mechanical performances, refined speculation is an empty dream, and the other, that, without theoretical reasoning, dexterity is little more than a brute instinct.
i This is what was done by the inventor, whom Johnson described as “standing in the kitchen of an inn with his back to the fire, and thus accosting the person next him :-'Do you know, Sir, who I am ?' 'No, Sir, (said the other,) I have not that advantage. Sir (said he,) I am the great Twalmley, who invented the New Flood-gate Iron.'" Boswell's Johnson,