« PředchozíPokračovat »
dence of a thousand demonstrations. I think we may lay this down as an incontested principle, that chance never acts in a perpetual uniformity and consistence with itself. If one should always fling the same number with ten thousand dice, or see every throw just five times less, or five times more in number, than the throw which im→ mediately preceded it, who would not imagine. there is some invisible power which directs the cast? This is the proceeding which we find in the operations of nature. Every kind of animal is diversified by different magnitudes, each of which gives rise to a different species. Let a man trace the dog or lion kind, and he will observe how many of the works of nature are published, if I may use the expression, in a variety of editions. If we look into the reptile world, or into those different kinds of animals that fill the element of water, we meet with the same repetition among several species, that differ very little from one another, but in size and bulk. You find the same creature that is drawn at large copied out in several proportions and ending in miniature. It would be tedious to produce instances of this regular conduct in Providence, as it would be superfluous to those who are versed in the natural history of animals. The magnificent harmony of the universe is such, that we may observe innumerable divisions running upon the same ground. I might also extend this speculation to the dead parts of nature, in which we may find matter disposed into many similar systems, as well in our survey of stars and planets as of stones, vegetables, and other sublunary parts of the creation. In a word, Providence has shown the richness of its goodness and wisdom, not only in the production of many original species, but in the multi
plicity of descants* which it has made on every original species in particular.
But to pursue this thought still further. Every living creature considered in itself has many very complicated parts that are exact copies of some other parts which it possesses, and which are complicated in the same manner. One eye would have been sufficient for the subsistence and preservation of an animal; but, in order to better his condition, we see another placed with a mathematical exactness in the same most advantageous situation, and in every particular of the same size and texture. Is it possible for chance to be thus delicate and uniform in her operations? Should a million of dice turn up together twice the same number, the wonder would be nothing in comparison with this. But when we see this similitude and resemblance in the arm, the hand, the fingers; when we see one half of the body entirely correspond with the other in all those minute strokes, without which a man might have very well subsisted; nay, when we often see a single part repeated an hundred times in the same body notwithstanding it consists of the most intricate weaving of numberless fibres, and these parts differing still in magnitude, as the convenience of their particular situation requires; sure a man must have a strange cast of understanding, who does not discover the finger of God in so wonderful a work. These duplicates in those parts of the body, without which a man might have very well subsisted, though not so well as with them, are a plain demonstration of an all-wise Contriver, as those more numerous copyings which are found among the vessels of the same body are evident
* Meant perhaps før descents, i. e. progress downwards.→
demonstrations that they could not be the work of chance. This argument receives additional strength, if we apply it to every animal and insect within our knowledge, as well as to those numberless living creatures that are objects too minute for an human eye; and if we consider how the several species in this whole world of life resemble one another in very many particulars, so far as is convenient for their respective states of existence, it is much more probable that an hundred millions of dice should be casually thrown an hundred millions of times in the same number, than that the body of any single animal should be produced by the fortuitous concourse of matter. And that the like chance should arise in innumerable instances requires a degree of credulity that is not under the direction of common sense.. We may carry this consideration yet further, if we eflect on the two sexes in every living species, with their resemblance to each other, and those particular distinctions that were necessary for the keeping up of this great world of life.
There are many more demonstrations of a Supreme Being, and of his transcendent wisdom, power and goodness, in the formation of the body of a living creature, for which I refer my reader to other writings, particularly to the sixth book of the poem entitled Creation,* where the anatomy of the human body is described with great perspicuity and elegance. I have been particular on the thought which runs through this speculation, because I have not seen it enlarged upon by others. 0.
* Creation. A poem by Sir Richard Blackmore.
No. 544. MONDAY, NOV. 24, 1712.
Nunquam ita quisquam benè subductâ ratione ad vitam fuit,
No man was ever so completely skilled in the conduct of life, as not to receive new information from age and experience: insomuch that we find ourselves really ignorant of what we thought we understood, and see cause to reject what we fancied our truest interest.
THERE are, I think, sentiments in the following letter from my friend captain Sentry, which discover a rational and equal frame of mind, as well prepared for an advantageous as an unfortunate change of condition.
Coverly-hall, Nov. 15,
'I AM come to the succession of the estate of my honored kinsman, sir Roger de Coverley; and I assure you I find it no easy task to keep up the figure of master of the fortune which was so handsomely enjoyed by that honest plain man. I cannot (with respect to the great obligations I have, be it spoken) reflect upon his character, but I am confirmed in the truth which I have, I think, heard spoken at the club; to wit, that a man of a warm and well-disposed heart, with a very small capacity, is highly superior in human society to him who, with the greatest talents, is cold and languid in his affections. But alas! why do I make a difficulty in speaking of my worthy ancestor's failings? His little absurdities and incapacity for the conversation of the po
litest men are dead with him, and his greater qualities are ever now useful to him. I know not whether by naming those disabilities I do not enhance his merit, since he has left behind him a reputation in his country, which would be worth the pains of the wisest man's whole life to arrive at. By the way, I must observe to you, that many of your readers have mistook that passage in your writings, wherein sir Roger is reported to have inquired into the private character of the young woman at the tavern. I know you mentioned that circumstance as an instance of the simplicity and innocence of his mind, which made him imagine it a very easy thing to reclaim one of those criminals, and not as an inclination in him to be guilty with her. The less discerning of your readers cannot enter into that delicacy of description in the character: but indeed my chief business at this time is to represent to you my present state of mind, and the satisfaction I promise to myself in the possession of my new fortune. I have continued all sir Roger's servants, except such as it was a relief to dismiss into little beings within my manor. Those who are in a list of the good knight's own hand to be taken care of by me, I have quartered upon such as have taken new leases of me, and added so many advantages during the lives of the persons so quartered, that it is the interest of those whom they are joined with to cherish and befriend them upon all occasions. I find a considerable sum of ready money, which I am laying out among my dependents at the common interest, but with a design to lend it according to their merit, rather than according to their ability. I shall lay a tax upon such as I have highly obliged, to become security to me for such of their own poor youth, whether male