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for his daughter in marriage. The exciseman done. He never measures the actions and power willing to deal openly oy him, asked him if he had of others by what himself is able to perform, nor seen the girl; "for,” says he, "she is hump- makes a proper estimate of the greatness of his backed.”_" Very well,” cried the stranger, " that follows by bringing it to the standard of his own will do for me.”—“Ay,” says the exciseman, "but incapacity. He is satisfied to be one of a country my daughter is as brown as a berry.”—"So much where mighty things have been; and imagines the the better,” cried the stranger, "such skins wear fancied power of others reflects a lustre on himself. well.”—“But she is bandy-legged,” says the ex. Thus hy degrees he loses the idea of his own inciseman.--"No matter," cries the other; "her pet- significance in a confused notion of the extraorditicoats will hide that defect,"'
"__"But then she is nary powers of humanity, and is willing to grant very poor,
and wants an eye."-—"Your description extraordinary gifts to every pretender, because undelights me,” cries the stranger : “I have been acquainted with their claims. jooking out for one of her make; for I keep an ex- This is the reason why demi-gods and heroes wibition of wild beasts, and intend to show her off have ever been erected in times or countries of ig. ior a Chimpanzee."
norance and barbarity: they addressed a people who had high opinions of human nature, because they
were ignorant how far it could extend ; they adESSAY XXIV.
dressed a people who were willing to allow that
men should be gods, because they were yet imperMankind have ever been prone to expatiate in fectly acquainted with God and with man. These the praise of human nature. The dignity of man impostors knew, that all men are naturally fond is a subject that has always been the favourite theme of seeing something very great made from the little of humanity: they have declaimed with that osten- materiais of humanity; that ignorant nations are tation which usually accompanies such as are sure not more proud of building a tower to reach heaven, of having a partial audience; they have obtained or a pyramid to last for ages, than of raising up a victories because there were none to oppose. Yet demi-god of their own country and creation. The from all I have ever read or seen, men appear more same pride that erects a colossus or a pyramid, inapt to err by having too high, than by having too stals a god or a hero: but though the adoring sav. despicable an opinion of their nature; and by at- age can raise his colossus to the clouds, he can ere tempting to exalt their original place in the creation, alt the hero not one inch above the standard of hudepress their real value in society.
manity: incapable, therefore, of exalting the idol, The most ignorant nations have always been he debases himself, and falls prostrate before him. found to think most highly of themselves. The When man has thus acquired an erroneous idea Deity has ever been thought peculiarly concerned of the dignity of his species, he and the gods bein their glory and preservation; to have fought come perfectly intimate; men are but angels, angels their battles, and inspired their teachers: their are but men; nay, but servants that stand in waitwizards are said to be familiar with heaven, and ing, to execute human commands. The Persians, every hero has a guard of angels as well as men to for instance, thus address the prophet Hali: “I saattend him. When the Portuguese first came lute thee, glorious Creator, of whom the sun is but among the wretched inhabitants of the coast of Afri- the shadow. Masterpiece of the Lord of human ca, these savage nations readily allowed the strangers creatures, Great Star of Justice and Religion. The more skill in navigation and war; yet still consid- sea is not rich and liberal, but by the gifts of thy ered them at best but as useful servants, brought to munificent hands. The angel treasurer of Heaven their coast, by their guardian serpent, to supply reaps his harvest in the fertile gardens of the purity them with luxuries they could have lived without. of thy nature. The primum mobile would never Though they could grant the Portuguese more dart the ball of the sun through the trunk of Heariches, they could never allow them to have such a ven, were it not to serve the morning out of the king as their Tottimondelem, who wore a bracelet extreme love she has for thee. The angel Gabriel, of shells round his neck, and whose legs were messenger of truth, every day kisses the groundsel covered with ivory.
of thy gate. Were there a place more exalted than In this manner examine a savage in the history the most high throne of God, I would affirm it to of his country and predecessors, you ever find his be thy place, O master of the faithful! Gabriel, warriors able to conquer armies, and his sages ac- with all his art and knowledge, is but a mere scholar quainted with more than possible knowledge; hu- to thee." Thus, my friend, men think proper to man nature is to him an unknown country; he treat angels; but if indeed there be such an order thinks it capable of great things because he is ig- of beings, with what a degree of satirical contempt norant of its boundaries; whatever can be con- must they listen to the songs of little mortals thus ceived to be done, he allows to be possible, and flattering each other! thus to see creatures, wiser whatever is possible he conjectures must have been indeed than the monkey, and more active than the
oyster, claiming tothemselves a mastery of Heaven! weakness being forgotten, while nothing but their minims, the tenants of an atom, thus arrogating a power and their miracles were remembered. The partnership in the creation of universal nature ! Chinese, for instance, never had a god of their own surely Heaven is kind that launches no thunder at country; the idols which the vulgar worship at this those guilty heads; but it is kind, and regards their day, were brought from the barbarous nations follies with pity, nor will destroy creatures that it around them. The Roman emperors who preloved into being.
tended to divinity, were generally taught by a But whatever success this practice of making poniard that they were mortal; and Alexander, demi-gods might have been attended with in bar- though he passed among barbarous countries for a barous nations, I do not know that any man became real god, could never persuade his polite countrya god in a country where the inhabitants were re- men into a similitude of thinking. The Laredefined. Such countries generally have too close an monians shrewdly complied with his commands by inspection into human weakness to think it invest- the following sarcastic edict: ed with celestial power. They sometimes, indeed, admit the gods of strangers or of their ancestors, Ει Αλεξανδρος βουλεται ειναι Θιος, Θεος εςτα. who had their existence in times of obscurity; their |