Characters and Passages from Note-Books

Characters and Passages from Note-Books

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Characters and Passages from Note-Books

Characters and Passages from Note-Books

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Makes new Discoveries in Politics, but they are, like those that Columbus made of the new World, very rich but barbarous. He endeavours to restore Mankind to the original Condition, it fell from, by forgeting to discern between Good and Evil; and reduces all Prudence back again to its first Author the Serpent, that taught Adam Wisdom; for he was really his Tutor, and not Samboscor, as the Rabbins write. He finds the World has been mistaken in all Ages, and that Religion and Morality are but vulgar Errors, that pass among the Ignorant, and are but mere Words to the Wise. He despises all learning as a Pedantic little Thing; and believes Books to be the Business of Children, and not of Men. He wonders how the Distinc+t+?ion of Virtue and Vice came into the World's Head; and believes them to be more ridiculous than any Foppery of the Schools. He holds it his Duty to betray any Man, that shall take him for so much a Fool as one fit to be trusted. He stedfastly believes, that all Men are born in the State of War, and that the civil Life is but a Cessation, and no Peace, nor Accommodation: And though all open Ac+t+?s of Hostility are forborn by Consent, the Enmity continues, and all Advantages by Treachery or Breach of Faith are very lawful -- That there is no Difference between Virtue and Fraud among Friends, as well as Enemies; nor any thing unjust, that a Man can do without Damage to his own Safety or Interest -- That Oaths are but Springes to catch Woodcocks withal; and bind none but those, that are too weak and feeble to break them, when they become ever so small an Impediment to their Advantages -- That Conscience is the effec+t+? of Ignorance, and the same with that foolish Fear, which some Men apprehend, when they are in the dark and alone -- That Honour is but the Word, which a Prince gives a Man to pass his Guards withal, and save him from being stopped by Law and Justice the Sentinels of Governments, when he has not Wit nor Credit enough to pass of himself -- That to shew Respec+t+? to Worth in any Person is to appear a Stranger to it, and not so familiarly acquainted with it as those are, who use no Ceremony; because it is no new Thing to them, as it would appear if they should take Notice of it -- That the easiest Way to purchase a Reputation of Wisdom and Knowledge is to slight and undervalue it; as the readiest Way to buy cheap is to bring down the Price: for the World will be apt to believe a Man well provided with any necessary or useful Commodity, which he sets a small Value upon -- That to oblige a Friend is but a kind of casting him in Prison, after the old Roman Way, or modern Chinese, that chains the Keeper and Prisoner together: for he that binds another Man to himself, binds himself as much to him, and lays a restraint upon both. For as Men commonly never forgive those that forgive them, and always hate those that purchase their Estates (tho' they pay dear and more than any Man else would give) so they never willingly endure those, that have laid any Engagement upon them, or at what rate soever purchased the least Part of their Freedom. -- And as Partners for the most Part cheat or suspec+t+? one another; so no Man deals fairly with another, that goes the least Share in his Freedom.

To propose any Measure to Wealth or Power is to be ignorant of the Nature of both: for as no Man can ever have too much of either; so it is impossible to determine what is enough; and he, that limits his Desires by proposing to himself the Enjoyment of any other Pleasure, but that of gaining more, shews he has but a dull Inclination, that will not hold out to his Journey's End. And therefore he believes that a Courtier deserves to be beg'd himself, that is ever satisfied with begging: for Fruition without Desire is but a dull Entertainment; and that Pleasure only real and substantial, that provokes and improves the Appetite, and increases in the Enjoyment. And all the greatest Masters in the several Arts of thriving concur unanimously, that the plain downright Pleasure of Gaining is greater and deserves to be prefered far before all the various Delights of Spending, which the Curiosity, Wit, or Luxury of Mankind in all Ages could ever find out.

He believes, there is no Way of thriving so easy and certain as to grow rich by defrauding the Public: for public Thieveries are more safe and less prosecuted than private, like Robberies committed between Sun and Sun, which the County pays, and no one is greatly concerned in. And as the Monster of many Heads has less Wit in them all than any one reasonable Person: so the Monster of many Purses is easier cheated than any one indifferent crafty Fool. For all the Difficulty lies in being trusted; and when he has obtained that, the Business does itself; and if he should happen to be questioned and called to an Accompt, a Baudy Pardon is as cheap as a Paymaster's Fee, not above fourteen Pence in the Pound.

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