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arguments. Contending, that nothing is to be taken for truth, but what is proved by mathematical demonstration, they, in many cases, take away all criterion of truth, while they boast that they defend the only infallible one.
But how easy is it to shew the absurdity of such a way of philosophising? Ask those gentlemen, whether they have any more doubt, that there were, in foriner times, such men as Alexander and Cæsar, than whether all the angles of a plain triangle annount to the sum of one hundred and eighty degrees; they cannot pretend that they believe the latter at all more firmly than the former. Yet they have geometrical demonstration for the latter, and nothing more than mere moral evidence for the former. Does not this shew, that many things are to be received, are actually received, even by themselves, for truth, for certain truth, which are not capable of mathematical demo istration ?
There is, therefore, an evidence, different from mathematical, to which we cannot deny our assent; and it is called by late philosophers, moral evidence, as the persuasi
. in arising from it is called moral certainty ; a certainty as real, and as much to be depended upon, as mathematical, though of a different species. Nor is there any more difficulty in conceiving how this may be, than in conceiving, that two buildings may be both sufficiently substantial, and in all the intents and purposes of buildings, equally so, though one be of marble, and the other of Portland-stone.
The object of mathematics is quantity. The geometrician meas:irés extension ; the mechanic compares forces. Divinity, ethics, ontology, and history, are naturally incapable of mathematical disquisition, or demonstration. Yet moral subjects are capable of being inquired into, and truths concerning them determined in that way which is proper to them, as well as mathematical
in theirs ; in the same manner as money
is reck oned by tale, bullion by weight, and liquors by measure, &c. [Graves Oration conc. Evid. MATHEM. ELEM. NAT. Phil.?
HE regularity of the motions and revolutions of the heavens, the sun, the moon, and numberless stars ; (1) with the distinction, variety, beauty, and order of celestial objects : the slightest observation of which seems sufficient to convince every beholder, that they cannot be the effect of chance ; these afford a proof of a Deity, which seems irrefragable. If he, who surveys an academy, a palace, or a court of justice, and observes regularity, order, and economy, prevailing in them, is immediately convinced that this regularity must be the effect of authority and discipline, supported by persons properly qualified ; how inuch more reason has he who finds himself surrounded by so many and such stupendous bodies, Wonder. performing their various motions and revoluiions, without the least deviation from perfect regularity, through the innumerable ages of past duration ; how much more reason has he to conclude that such amazing revolutions are governed by superior wisdom and power !
Is it not therefore astonishing, that any man Contempt. should ever have dreamed of the possibility, that a beautiful and magnificent system might arise from the fortuitous concourse of certain bodies carried towards one another by, I know not wbat, imaginary impulse ! I see not, why he, who is capable of ascribing the production of a
(1) Every body knows, that all the ancients, from Aristotle's time, held the Ptolemaic system, viz. of the earth's being unmoveable in the centre of the universe, and the whole heavens turning round her,
world to a cause so inadequate, may not expect, from the fortuitous scattering about of a set of letters of ivory, or metal, a regular history to appear, But I belive, he who hopes to produce, in this way, one single line, will find himself for ever disappointed. If the casual concourse of atoms has produced a whole universe, how comes it, that we never find a city, a temple, or so much as a portico, which are all less considerable works, produced in the same manner ? One would imagine, they, who prate so absurdly, about the origination of the world, had no eves, or had never opened them to view the glories of this immense theatre.
The reasonings of Aristotle, on this point, Arguing. are excellent. “Let us suppose, says he, certain
persons to have been born, and to have lived to mature age, under ground, in habitations accommodated with all the conveniencies, and even magnificence of life, except the sight of this upper world. Let us suppose those persons to have heard by fame, of superior beings, and won
derful effects produced by them. Let the earth be Wonder. imagined suddenly to open, and expose to the
view of those subterraneans, this fair zorld,
which we inhabit. Let them be imagined to beDelight.
hold the face of the earth diversified with hills and vales, with rivers and wouds ; the wide extended ocean ; the lofty sky ; and the clouds carried along by the winds. Let them behold the sun, and observe his transcendent brightness and wonderful influence, as he pours down the flood of day over the whole earth, from east to west. And when night covered the world with darkness, let thein behold the heavens adorned with innumerable stars. Let them observe the various appearances of the moon, now horned, then full, then decreasing. Let them have leisure to mark the rising and setting of the heavenly bodies, and to understand that their established courses have been going on from. age to age.
When they have surveyed and considered all these things, what could they conclude, but that the accounts they had heard in their subterranean habitation, of the existence of superior beings, must be true, and that these prodigious works must be the effect of their power ?”
Thus Arisotie. To which I will add, that it is only our being accustomed to the continual view of these glorious objects that prevents our admiring them, and endeavouring to come to right conclusions concerning the Author of them. As if novelty were a better reason for exciting our inquiries, than beauty and magnificence.
[Cic. Nat. Deor. Lib. II.)
SNEER. (1) RECEIPT TO MAKE AN EPIO POEM. FOR the fable ; take out of any old poem, Teaching. histury-book, romance, or legend (for instance, Geoffry of Monmouth or Don Belianis of Greece) those parts of the story, which afford most scope for long descriptions. Put these pieces together, and throw all the adventures into one tale. Then take a hero, whom you may chuse for the sound of his name, and put him into the midst of these adventures. There let him work for twelve books ; at the end of which you may take him out ready to conquer, or to marry; it being necessary that the conclusion of an epic poem be fortunate. For the machines. Take of deities, *male and female, as many as you can use. Separate them into two equal parts, and keep Jupiter in the middle. Let Juno put him in a ferment, and Venus mollify him. Remember on all oc
(1) The gravity of look and manner is to be kept up as much in reading this, as if it were Aristotle's or Horace's serious directions on the same subject,
casions to inake use of volatile Mercury.
When you cannot extricate your hero by any human means, or yourself by your wits, seek relief from heaven ; and the gods will help you out of the scrape immediately. This is according to the direct prescription of Horace in his Art of Poe
Nec deus ritersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus
That is to say, A poet has no occasion to be at a loss, when the gods are always ready at a call.
For the descriptions, as a tempest, for instance. Take Eurus, Zephyrus, Austre, and Boreas, and cast them together in one verse. Add to these of rain, lightning and thunder, (the loudest you can get) quantum sufficit. Mix your clouds and billows, till they foam; and thicken your description here and there with a quicksand. Brew your tempest well in your head, before you set it a blowing.
For a battle. Pick half a dozen large handfuls of images of your lions, bears, and other quarrelsome animals, from Homer's Iliad, with a spice or two from Virgil. If there reinain an overplus, lay them by for a skirmish in an odd episode, or so. Season it well with similes, and it will inake an excellent battle. For a burning town, if you choose to have one, old Troy is ready burnt to your hands, &c. [Swift, Vol. v. P. 132.]
REMONSTRANCE AND CON
TEMPT OF PRIDE. Question. Does greatness secure persons of rank from
infirinities either of body or mind? Will the head-ache, the gout or fever, spare a prince any