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knowledge to break through. Their souls are not to be enlightened.
“ Black night enwraps them in her gloomy shade." To these I must apply the fable of the Mole, that after having consulted many oculists for the bettering of his sight, was at last provided with a good pair of spectacles; but upon his endeavouring to make use of them, his mother told him very prudently, “That spectacles, though they might help the eye of a man, could be of no use to a mole.” It is not therefore for the benefit of moles that I publish these my daily essays.
But besides such as are moles through ignorance, there are others who are moles through envy. As it is said in the Latin proverb, “ That one man is a wolf to another;" so generally speaking, one author is a mole to another. It is impossible for them to discover beauties in one another's works; they have eyes only for spots and blemishes: they can indeed see the light, as it is said of the animals which are their name-sakes, but the idea of it is painful to them; they immediately shut their eyes upon it, and withdraw themselves into a wila ful obscurity. I have already caught two or three of these dark undermining vermin, and intend to make a string of them, in order to hang them up in one of my papers, as an example to all such voluntary moles,
TUESDAY, JULY 24, 1711.
Ne pueri, ne tanta animis assuescite bella :
VIRG. ÆN, vi. 832.
ON PARTY SPIRIT.
My worthy friend Sir Roger, when we were talking of the malice of parties, very frequently tells us an accident that happened to him when he was a school-boy, which was at the time when the feuds ran high between the Round-heads and the Cavaliers. This worthy Knight, being then but a stripling, had occasion to inquire which was the way to St. Anne's Lane, upon which the person whom he spoke to, instead of answering his question, called him a young popish cur, and asked him who had made Anne a saint? The boy, being in some confusion, inquired of the next he met, which was the way to Anne's Lane ; but was called a prick-eared cur for his pains, and instead of being shewn the way, was told that she had been a saint before he was born, and would be one after he was hanged. Upon this, says Sir Roger, I did not think fit to repeat the former question, but going into every lane of the neighbourhood, asked what they called the name of that lane. By which ingenious artifice he found out the place he inquired after, without giving offence to any party. Sir ROGER generally closes this narrative with reflections on the mischief that parties do in the country; how they spoil good neighbourhood, and make honest gen
tlemen hate one another; besides that they manifestly tend to the prejudice of the land-tax, and the destruc, tion of the game.
There cannot a greater judgment befall a country than such a dreadful spirit of division as rends a government into two distinct people, and makes them greater strangers and more averse to one another, than if they were actually two different nations. The effects of .. such a division are pernicious to the last degree, not only with regard to those advantages which they give the common enemy, but to those private evils which they produce in the heart of almost every particular person. This influence is very fatal both to men's morals and their understandings; it sinks the virtue of a nation, and not only so, but destroys even common sense.
A furious party-spirit, when it rages in its full violence, exerts itself in civil war and bloodshed; and when it is under its greatest restraints naturally breaks out in falsehood, detraction, * calumny, and a partial administration of justice. In a word, it fills a nation with spleen and rancour, and extinguishes all the seeds of good-nature, compassion, and humanity.
Plutarch says very finely, That a man should not allow himself to hate even his enemies, because, says he, if you indulge this passion in some occasions, it will rise of itself in others ; if you liate your enemies, you will contract such a vicious habit of mind, as by degrees will break out upon those who are your friends, or those who are indifferent to you. I might here observe how admirably this precept of morality (which derives the
malignity * In Addisor's time, when party-rage was very violent, not merely scribblers, but even men of ihe greatest talents dealt in the meanest personalities. ' BOLING BROKE, ATTERBURY, and Swift, so far degraded themselves as to write a scurrilous paper, entitled the Examiner, as we before observed in the Life of STEELE. They not only attacked the principles of their opponents, which was fair as far as they were reprehensible, but their morality, and even their circumstances, when there was an opportunity. The Whigs in Addison's time were much less abusive than the Tories, owing, probably, in some measure to the influence of his example.
malignity of hatred from the passion itself, and not from its object) answers to that great rule which was dictated to the world about an hundred years before this philosopher wrote; * but instead of that, I shall only take notice, with a real grief of heart, that the minds of many good men among us appear soured with party-principles, and alienated from one another in such a manner, as seems to me altogether inconsistent with the dictates either of reason or religion. Zeal for a public cause is apt to breed passions in the hearts of virtuous persons, to which the regard of their own private interest would never have betrayed them.
If this party-spirit has so ill an affect on our morals, it has likewise a very great one upon our judgments. We often hear a poor insipid paper or pamphlet cried up, and sometimes a noble piece depreciated, by those who are of a different principle from the author. One who is actuated by this spirit is almost under an incapacity of discerning either real blemishes or beauties. A man of merit in a different principle, is like an object seen in two different mediums, that appears crooked or broken, however straight and intire it may be in itself. For this reason there is scarce a person of any figure in England, who does not go by two contrary characters, as opposite to one another as light and darkness. Knowledge and learning suffer in a particular manner from this strange prejudice, which at present prevails among all ranks and degrees in the British nation. As men formerly became eminent in learned societies by their parts and acquisitions, they now distinguish themselves by the warmth and violence with which they espouse their respective parties.---Books are valued upon the like considerations, An abusive scurrilous stile passes for satire, and a dull scheme of party-notions is called fine writing.
There is one piece of sophistry practised by both sides, and that is the taking any scandalous story that has been ever whispered or invented cf a private man,
* By JESUS CHRIST. See Luke vi. 27–39, &c.
for a known undoubted truth, and raising suitable speculations upon it.
Calumnies that have been never proved, or have been often refuted, are the ordinary postulatums of these infamous scribblers, upon which they proceed as upon first principles granted by all men, though in their hearts they know they are false, or at best very doubtful. When they have laid these foundations of scurrility, it is no wonder that their super-' structure is every way answerable to them. If this shameless practice of the present age endures much longer, praise and reproach will cease to be motives of action in good men.
There are certain periods of time in all governments when this inbuman spirit prevails. Italy was long torn in pieces by the Guelfes and GIBELLINES, and France by those who were for and against the League: but it is very unhappy for a man to be born in such a stormy and tempestuous season. It is the restless ambition of art. ful men that thus breaks a people into factions, and draws several well-meaning persons to their interest by a specious concern for their country.* How many honest minds are filled with uncharitable and barbarous notions, out of their zeal for the public good? What cruelties and outrages would they not commit against men of an adverse party, whom they would honour and esteem; if instead of considering them as they are represented, they knew them as they are ? Thus are persons of the greatest probity seduced into shameful errors and prejudices, and made bad men even by that noblest of principles, the love of their country. I cannot here forbear mentioning the famous Spanish proverb, “ If there were neither fools nor knaves in the world, all people would be of one mind.”
* It is evident on the slightest observation, that men of minds by no ineans ill inclined, judge unfairly and act hurtfully, under the influence of zeal for certain political and religious opinions. A candid man would not impute the Birmingham riots to wicked motives, at least in the vulgar concerned, though the effects were so destructive.