Oxford, July 14.
According to a late Invitation in one of your Papers to every Man who pleases to write, I have sent you the following short Dissertation against the Vice of being prejudiced.
Your most humble Servant.
Man is a sociable Creature, and a Lover of Glory; whence it is that when several Persons are united in the same Society, they are studious to lessen the Reputation of others, in order to raise their own. The Wise are content to guide the Springs in Silence, and rejoice in Secret at their regular Progress: To prate and triumph is the Part allotted to the Trifling and Superficial: The Geese were providentially ordained to save the Capitol. Hence it is, that the Invention of Marks and Devices to distinguish Parties, is owing to the Beaux and Belles of this Island. Hats moulded into different Cocks and Pinches, have long bid mutual Defiance; Patches have been set against Patches in Battel-aray; Stocks have risen or fallen in Proportion to Head-Dresses; and Peace or War been expected, as the White or the Red Hood hath prevailed. These are the Standard-Bearers in our contending Armies, the Dwarfs and Squires who carry the Impresses of the Giants or Knights, not born to fight themselves, but to prepare the Way for the ensuing Combat.
It is Matter of Wonder to reflect how far Men of weak Understanding and strong Fancy are hurried by their Prejudices, even to the believing that the whole Body of the adverse Party are a Band of Villains and Dámons. Foreigners complain, that the English are the proudest Nation under Heaven. Perhaps they too have their Share; but be that as it will, general Charges against Bodies of Men is the Fault I am writing against. It must be own'd, to our Shame, that our common People, and most who have not travelled, have an irrational Contempt for the Language, Dress, Customs, and even the Shape and Minds of other Nations. Some Men otherwise of Sense, have wondered that a great Genius should spring out of Ireland; and think you mad in affirming, that fine Odes have been written in Lapland.
This Spirit of Rivalship, which heretofore reigned in the Two Universities, is extinct, and almost over betwixt College and College: In Parishes and Schools the Thirst of Glory still obtains. At the Seasons of Football and Cock-fighting, these little Republicks reassume their national Hatred to each other. My Tenant in the Country is verily perswaded, that the Parish of the Enemy hath not one honest Man in it.
I always hated Satyrs against Woman, and Satyrs against Man; I am apt to suspect a Stranger who laughs at the Religion of The Faculty; My Spleen rises at a dull Rogue, who is severe upon Mayors and Aldermen; and was never better pleased than with a Piece of Justice executed upon the Body of a Templer, who was very arch upon Parsons.
The Necessities of Mankind require various Employments; and whoever excels in his Province is worthy of Praise. All Men are not educated after the same Manner, nor have all the same Talents. Those who are deficient deserve our Compassion, and have a Title to our Assistance. All cannot be bred in the same Place; but in all Places there arise, at different Times, such Persons as do Honour to their Society, which may raise Envy in little Souls, but are admired and cherished by generous Spirits.
It is certainly a great Happiness to be educated in Societies of great and eminent Men. Their Instructions and Examples are of extraordinary Advantage. It is highly proper to instill such a Reverence of the governing Persons, and Concern for the Honour of the Place, as may spur the growing Members to worthy Pursuits and honest Emulation: But to swell young Minds with vain Thoughts of the Dignity of their own Brotherhood, by debasing and villifying all others, doth them a real Injury. By this means I have found that their Efforts have become languid, and their Prattle irksome, as thinking it sufficient Praise that they are Children of so illustrious and ample a Family. I should think it a surer as well as more generous Method, to set before the Eyes of Youth such Persons as have made a noble Progress in Fraternities less talk'd of; which seems tacitly to reproach their Sloth, who loll so heavily in the Seats of mighty Improvement: Active Spirits hereby would enlarge their Notions, whereas by a servile Imitation of one, or perhaps two, admired Men in their own Body, they can only gain a secondary and derivative kind of Fame. These Copiers of Men, like those of Authors or Painters, run into Affectations of some Oddness, which perhaps was not disagreeable in the Original, but sits ungracefully on the narrow-soul'd Transcriber.
By such early Corrections of Vanity, while Boys are growing into Men, they will gradually learn not to censure superficially; but imbibe those Principles of general Kindness and Humanity, which alone can make them easie to themselves, and beloved by others.
Reflections of this nature have expunged all Prejudices out of my Heart, insomuch that, tho' I am a firm Protestant, I hope to see the Pope and Cardinals without violent Emotions; and tho' I am naturally grave, I expect to meet good Company at Paris.
I am, SIR, Your obedient Servant.
I find you are a general Undertaker, and have by your Correspondents or self an Insight into most things: which makes me apply my self to you at present in the sorest Calamity that ever befel Man. My Wife has taken something ill of me, and has not spoke one Word, good or bad, to me, or any Body in the Family, since Friday was Seven-night. What must a Man do in that Case? Your Advice would be a great Obligation to,
SIR, Your most humble Servant,
When you want a Trifle to fill up a Paper, in inserting this you will lay an Obligation on
Your humble Servant,
Olivio. July 15th, 1712.
It is but this Moment I have had the Happiness of knowing to whom I
am obliged for the Present I received the second of _April_. I am
heartily sorry it did not come to Hand the Day before; for I can't
but think it very hard upon People to lose their Jest, that offer at
one but once a Year. I congratulate my self however upon the Earnest
given me of something further intended in my Favour, for I am told,
that the Man who is thought worthy by a Lady to make a Fool of,
stands fair enough in her Opinion to become one Day her Husband.
Till such time as I have the Honour of being sworn, I take Leave to
subscribe my self,
_Dear_ Olivia, _Your Fool Elect_,
T.Translation of motto: