A Tale of a Tub: Written for the Universal Improvement of Mankind

A Tale of a Tub: Written for the Universal Improvement of Mankind

A Tale of a Tub: Written for the Universal Improvement of Mankind

A Tale of a Tub: Written for the Universal Improvement of Mankind

Excerpt

The wits of the present age being so very numerous and penetrating, it seems the grandees of church and state begin to fall under horrible apprehensions lest these gentlemen during the intervals of a long peace should find leisure to pick holes in the weak sides of religion and government. To prevent which there has been much thought employ'd of late upon certain projects for taking off the force and edge of those formidable enquirers from canvasing and reasoning upon such delicate points. They have at length fixed upon one which will require some time as well as cost to perfect. Mean while the danger hourly increasing by new levies of wits all appointed, as there is reason to fear, with pen, ink, and paper, which may at an hours warning be drawn out into pamphlets and other offensive weapons ready for immediate execution, it was judged of absolute necessity that some present expedient be thought on till the main design can be brought to maturity. To this end at a grand committee some days ago this important discovery was made by a certain curious and refined observer: that sea-men have a custom when they meet a whale to fling him out an empty tub by way of amusement to divert him from laying violent hands upon the ship. This parable was immediately mythologiz'd: The whale was interpreted to be Hobs Leviathan, which tosses and plays with all other schemes of religion and government, whereof a great many are hollow and dry and empty and noisy and wooden and given to rotation. This is the leviathan from whence the terrible wits of our age are said to borrow their weapons. The ship in danger is easily understood to be its old antitype, the commonwealth. But how to analyze the tub was a matter of difficulty; when after long enquiry and debate the literal meaning was preserved, and it was decreed that in order to prevent these leviathans from tossing and sporting with the commonwealth (which of it self is too apt to fluctuate), they should be diverted from that game by a tale of a . . .

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