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Although, in the very name and title-page of this work, it professes to be an Inquiry into the opinion of the eastern Sages concerning the pre-existence of Souls, it would have been very contrary to the habitude and disposition of its author to have troubled himself with any other opinion than his own, or that of his oracle, Dr. Henry More. The eastern doctrine is but a text which he expounds, and his argument is, briefly,—That the continual creation of a soul for each separate body, as it comes into the world, is inconsistent with the divine attributes; for all the works of God bear His image, and are perfect in their kind; and He being pure, what comes from Him, proportionable to its capacity, partakes of His perfection : and how would it agree with divine goodness to put pure and immaculate spirits into bodies that would defile them? or with divine wisdom thus to make and destroy? to give a capacity for nobleness and yet an incapacity of acting nobly, from the gross habitude of that sensual body to which the spirit is bound? or with divine justice to subject a spirit, that came, perhaps, immediately before, righteous, pure, and immaculate, from the hands of its creator, to eternal torments? And yet we are taught, that as soon as born, and even in the womb, 'we are obnoxious to eternal wrath.' Constant creation being then abandoned, he considers the possibility of traduction, which he holds to be impossible ; for if the parent beget the soul out of nothing, it will be pure and clean as if God himself were its creator; for the parents can only transmit their natural, and not their moral, pravities, and if the soul be but a particle or decerption of its parent, then is the last guilty of all the sins that ever were committed since Adam; therefore, it was the opinion of “the Indian Brachmans, the Persian Magi, the Egyptian Gymnosophists, the Jewish Rabbins, some of the Grecian philosophers, and Christian fathers, (this is the Lux Orientalis, that the souls of men were created all at first; and, at several times and occasions, upon forfeiture of their better life and condition, dropt down into their terrestrial bodies;” which is the more rational opinion; is not contrary to Scripture; and was commonly received in the times of Jesus. These are profound speculations, with which we dare not presume to interfere; but we are curious to know how it happens that souls forfeit their better life and condition just in numbers corresponding with the creation of bodies, and by what law of forfeiture the souls are made to correspond and keep pace with Mr. Malthus's law of population. Then follows a consideration of the objections to pre-existence, which, in some points, is really well argued. Thus he says, if it be
Urged, that had we lived and acted in a former state, we should,
doubtless, have retained some remembrance of that condition ; but we having no memory of any thing backwards before our appearance upon this present stage, it will be thought to be a considerable presumption, that pre-existence is but a fancy.
“ But I would desire such kind of reasoners to tell me, how much they remember of their state and condition in the womb, or of the actions of their first infancy. And I could wish they would consider, that not one passage in an hundred is remembered of their grown and riper age : nor doth there scarce a night pass but we dream of many things which our waking memories can give us no account
age, and some kinds of diseases, blot out all the images of things past, and, even in this state, cause a total oblivion. Now, if the reasons why we should lose the remembrance of our former life be greater than are the causes of forgetfulness in the instances we have produced, I think it will be clear, that this argument hath but little force against the opinion we are inquiring into. Therefore, if we do but reflect upon that long state of silence and inactivity that we emerged from, when we came into these bodies, and the vast change we underwent by our sinking into this new and unwonted habitation, it will appear to the considerate, that there is greater reason why we should have forgotten our former life than any thing in this; and if a disease, or old age, can rase out the memory of past actions, even while we are in one and the same condition of life, certainly so long and deep a swoon as is absolute insensibility and inertness may, much more reasonably, be thought to blot out the memory of another life, whose passages, probably, were nothing like the transactions of this ; and this, also, might be given as another reason of our forgetting our former state, since, usually, things are brought to our remembrance by some like occurrences.”
After thus disposing of other arguments that, he conceives, might, à priori, be urged against his theory, he proceeds to adduce many in its favour, in which, however, he is not equally successful. There is nothing extraordinary in this. In all such subtle speculations as are necessarily bottomed rather on the imagination than the reason, however guarded, it is almost of course. These arguments are certainly not worth notice, and may be easily inferred from the hypothesis he builds up at the conclusion, and which is imaginative, and beautiful enough to deserve abridgement, and sufficiently conclusive for the gratification of all intellectual idlers. It is briefly, that as nature proceeds, in all changes, by progression and gentle gradations, it is not reasonable to believe that, intimately as the soul is, in this state, mingled with the body, it would, on changing its state, be altogether stript of corporiety; neither therefore, by parity of reasoning, that a pure spirit could have been at once so intimately mingled with the body, on first entering this state.-He, therefore, concludes that the soul hath always a ART III.-Acts und Ordinances of the Long Parliament.
In a former number,* it was attempted to give a general and comprehensive view of the financial measures adopted by the leaders of the Commonwealth, with reference to the forfeited estates of delinquents; in the present, we will give a few instances of the mode in which these measures were carried into execution by the agents interested in the management of them. In order to this, let us first contemplate the portraiture of one of these agents, by the hands of one, who in his day) was esteemed a master-painter. “ The character of a Country Committee-man, with the ear-mark of
a Sequestrator." “ A Committee-man, by his name, should be one that is possessed; there is number enough in it to make an epithet for Legion ; he is persona in concreto ; (to borrow the solecism of a modern statesman,) you must translate it by the Red-Bull Phrase, and speak as properly : Enter seven devils solus. It is a well-trussed title, that contains both the Number and the Beast ; for a Committee-man is a noun of multitude; he must be spelled with figures, like Antichrist wrapped in a pair-royal of sixes. Thus, the name is as monstrous as the man, a complex notion, of the same lineage with accumulative treason. For his office it is the heptarchy, or England's fritters; it is the broken meat of a crumbling prince, only the royalty is greater; for it is here, as it is in the miracle of loaves, the voyder exceeds the bill of fare. The pope and he ring the changes; here is the plurality of crowns to one head,-join them together, and there is a harmony in discord. The triple-headed turnkey of heaven, with the triple-headed porter of hell. A Committee man is the reliques of regal government, but, like holy reliques, he out-bulks' the substance whereof he is a remnant. There is a score of kings in a committee, as, in the reliques of the cross, there is the number of twenty. This is the giant with the hundred hands, that wields the sceptre ; the tyrannical bead-roll, by which the kingdom prays backward, and at every curse drops a Committee-man. Let Charles be waved, whose condescending clemency aggravates the defection, and makes Nero the question-better a Nero than a Committee. There is less execution by a single bullet than by case-shot.
“ Now, a committee-man is a party-coloured officer. He must be drawn like Janus with cross and pile in his countenance; as he relates to the soldiers, or faces about to his fleecing the country. Look upon him martially, and he is a justice of war; one that has bound his Dalton up in buff, and will needs be of the quorum to the best commanders. He is one of Mars his lay-elders, he shares in the
* See vol. ix. p. 122.
ment, though a non-conformist to his bleeding Rubrick. He is the like sectary in arms, as the Platonic is in love; keeps a fluttering in discourse, but proves a haggard in the action. He is not of the soldiers, and yet of his flock. He is an emblem of the golden age (and such, indeed, he makes it to him) when so tame a pigeon may converse with vultures. Methinks, a Committee hanging about a governor, and bandileers dangling about a furred alderman, have an anagram resemblance. There is no syntax between a cap of maintenance and a helmet. Who ever knew an enemy routed by a grand jury and a Billa vera? It is a left-handed garrison, where their authority perches; but the more preposterous, the more in fashion ; the right-hand fights, while the left rules the reins. The truth is, the soldier and the gentleman are like Don Quixote and Sancho Pancha : one fights at all adventures to purchase the other the government of the island. A Committee-man, properly, should be the governor's mattress to fit his truckle, and to new-string him with sinews of war; for his chief use is to raise assessments in the neighbouring wapentake.
“The country people being like an Irish cow that will not give down her milk, unless she sees her calf before her: hence it is, he is the garrison's dry-nurse,-he chews their contribution before he feeds them : so the poor soldiers live like Trochilus, by picking the teeth of this sacred crocodile.
“ So much for his warlike or ammunition-face, which is so preternatural, that it is rather a vizard than a face; Mars in him hath but a blinking aspect, his face of arms is like his coat, Partie per pale, soldier and gentleman, much of a scantling.
“Now to enter his taxing and deglubing face, a squeezing look, like that of Vespasianus, as if he were bleeding over a close-stool,
“ Take him thus, and he is in the inquisition of the purse an authentic gypsie, that nips your bung with a canting ordinance; not a murdered fortune in all the country but bleeds at the touch of this malefactor. He is the spleen of the body politic, that swells itself to the consumption of the whole. At first, indeed, he ferreted for the parliament, but since that he has got off his cope he set up for himself. He lives upon the sins of the people, and that is a good standing dish too. He verifies the axiom, Eisdem nutritur ex quibus componitur ; his diet is suited to his constitution ; I have wondered often, why the plundered countrymen should repair to him for succour: certainly, it is under the same notion, as one whose pockets are picked goes to Moll Cul-purse, as the predominant in that faculty.
“ He out-dives a Dutchman; gets a noble of him that was never worth sixpence; for the poorest do not escape, but, Dutch-like, he will be dreyning, even in the driest ground. He aliens a delinquent's estate with as little remorse as his other holiness gives away an heretic's kingdom; and for the truth of the delinquency, both chapmen have as little share of infallibility. Lye is the grand salad of arbitrary government, executor to the star-chamber and the high commission; for those courts are not extinct; they survive in him like dollars changed into single money. To speak the truth, he is the universal tribunal: for since the times all causes fall to his cognizance as, in a great in
VOL. XII. PART I.
fection, all the diseases turn oft to the plague. It concerns our masters (the parliament) to look about them; if he proceedeth at this rate, the jack may come to swallow the pike, as the interest often eats out the principal. As his commands are great, so he looks for a reverence accordingly. He is punctual in exacting your hat, and to say right, is his due; but by the same title as the upper garment is the vails of the executioner. There was a time, when such cattle would hardly have been taken upon suspicion for men in office, unless the old proverb were answered,—that the beggars make a free company, and those the wardens. You may see what it is to hang together. Look upon them severally, and
cannot but fumble for some threads of charity. But oh ! they are termagants in conjunction ! like fiddlers, who are rogues, when they go single, and, joined in consort, gentlemen musicianers. I care not, if I untwist my Committee-man, and so give him the receipt for this grand catholicon.
“ Take a state-martyr; one that, for his good behaviour, hath paid the excise of his ears, so suffered captivity by the land-piracy of ship-money; next, a primitive freeholder; one that hates the king because he is a gentleman, transgressing the Magna Charta of delving Adam. Add to these, a mortified bankrupt, that helps out his false weights with some scruples of conscience, and with his peremptory scales can doom his prince with a MENE TEKEL. These, with a new blue stocking'd-justice, lately made of a good basket-hilted yeoman, with a short-handed clerk tacked to the rear of him, to carry the knap-sack of his understanding; together with two or three equivocal sirs, whose religion, (like their gentility,) is the extract of their acres; being, therefore, spiritual, because they are earthly; not forgetting the man of the law, whose corruption gives the Hogan to the sincere juncto. These are the simples of this precious compound; a kind of Dutch hotch-potch, the Hogan Mogan Committee-man.
• The Committee-man hath a side-man, or rather a setter, (hight a sequestrator,) of whom you may say, as of the great sultan's horse,where he treads, the grass grows no more.
He is the state's cormorant; one that fishes for the public, but feeds himself; the misery is, he fishes without the cormorant's property, a rope to strengthen the gullet, and to make him disgorge. A sequestrator! He is the devil's nut-hook; the sign with him is always in the clutches. There are more monsters retain to him, than to all the limbs in anatomy. It is strange, physicians do not apply him to the soles of the feet in a desperate fever; he draws far beyond pigeons. I hope some mountebank will slice him, and make the experiment.
He is a tooth-drawer once removed; here is the difference-one applauds the grinder, the other the grist. Never, till now, could I verify the poet's description, that the ravenous harpy had a human visage. Death himself cannot quit scores with him ; like the demoniac in the gospel, he lives among tombs; nor is the holy water, shed by widows and orphans, a sufficient exorcism to dispossess him. Thus the cat sucks your breath, and the fiend your blood ; nor can the brotherhood of witch-finders, so sagely instituted, with all their terrors, wean the familiars.
“ But, once more, to single out my embossed Committee-man;