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presumed to be the most proper Judges in the Case. It was something like this that gave a Handle to a merry old Senator in the Dyet of Poland, to make an unlucky Reply in a Debate upon a Question in which he was deeply interested, and had engaged a great Majority to carry it. A grave Gentleman in the Opposition, who could read in his Bible, quoted a Passage out of the Book of Leviticus to support aa Argument he had been advancing against the Question; to which the facetious Droll replied, There seems indeed, Sir, to be something of Weight in the Passage you have quoted from Leviticus, but it will do your Cause very little Service, for we have the whole Book of Numbers against you.
. Pardon this Digression.—But the Use I would maloc of it is this: If Arithmetic be capable of such prodigious Improvements, and so apparently calculated far the public Good, what should hinder us from attempting something like it, by way of Improvement, in the Exercise of our Reason; especially considering that our Adversaries have given us a fair Opportunity of taking an Advantage of their Negligence. They have beea all along so confident of the Goodness of their Cause, and so secure of their own superior Strength and Cunning, that they have wantonly neglected to secure themselves, by using their Interest to procure a legal and parliamentary Establishment, which, like the Act of Uniformity, might oblige all his Majesty's Joving Subjects to conform to their Rules and Methods of Reasoning, and prohibit them, under severe Penalties, srom making use of any other. This would efsectually have precluded any Attempts of this Kind that I am proposing; but since they have neglected
to to do this, I think we ought to exert all our Interest and Cunning to turn it to our own Advantage. I am not sanguine enough to imagine we have Interest enough, at present, to procure such an Establishment for any System of our own, in Opposition to the prevailing Prepossession; such a Scheme, if at all seasible, must he a very remote Possibility, and the Object of a very distant Hope. Our Superiors, at present, are apparently prejudiced in Favour of antient and immemorial Custom, and long Prescription, and jealous of making or encouraging Innovations; but"as they have been always ready to lend an indulgent Ear to the dutiful Remonstrances and Petitions of their Inseriors, and to give them such Relief and Indulgence as their Circumstances may require, it will not be improper to lay before the Public at least a just and impartial Account of the Difficulties and Hardships under which we labour, and from which we hope to be relieved. In general, they are so unreasonable, as to object against almost all our Methods of Reasoning, as uncanonical and unstatutable, and quarrel with us for taking with us some few little Liberties, which would apparently give us some Advantage; and, to shew us the Perverseness of their Spirit, will neither use them themselves, nor suffer us to use them. I shall only instance in two or three Cases, whereby you may judge of the rest.
i. It very often happens, in the Course of a Debate, when the Advantage is apparently on our Side, they turn short upon us, and tell us, We beg the Question; marry, and a good Shift too, I think, if we can carry an important Question purely by begging. Sure I am, that if this Method could be brought to any Persection, it would be a more'faving Article td the Public than
the Sinking Fund, and therefore we may reasonably hope, that our Superiors, who will find their Account in it as well as we, will sind out proper Ways and Means to allow, confirm, and secure us in this Method of Reasoning, as it is apparently more useful in many difficult Cases, than all their Rules of Logic put together.
2. At other Times, when they find themselves sorely pinched, and almost giddy by running round with us, as it were in a Ring, they grow fretful, and cry out against Circular Proof. This Objection is peevish and absurd. Do not these Gentlemen know that a Circle is the most persect of all Figures? and by Consequence, that a circular Operation must be so too? Is not the Frame of Nature supported by the Circulation of the several Parts of the System? Is not the Lise of all Animals and Vegetables preserved by the Circulation of their Blood and Juices? Has not the Credit and Interest of the Nation been often preserved by the Circulation of Bank and Exchequer Bills? Has not the Credit of the several Stocks and Funds been known to rise and fall by the Circulation even of a Lye? to the great Advantage of several eminent and well-disposed Persons, who would have startled at the Sound of a trifling, insignificant, malicious Lye, when there was nothing to be got by it. Nay, further, is not a Circulation of Interest the great Support of Government? Could any Ministry subsist. without it? Nay, I will venture to affirm, that, without such a Circulation, many a good Question in Politics would have been lost; and why it should be thought unlawful and unreasonable for us to take the Benefit of it in
Matters Matters of Philosophy and Religion, is to me quite unconceivable.
3. But the merriest Imposition os all, is that of confining us to the Use of three Terms, and telling us that it is against all the Laws of Logic to add a fourth. A very pretty Contrivance truly! They know that four is a Majority to three, and therefore modestly injoin us not to take the Benefit of Numbers, by which they very well know the weightiest Questions are carried in the most august Assemblies in the World.
These are some of the manyJPiardihips under which we labour, and from which we hope, in due Time, to be relieved, by the Wisdom and Authority of some suture Parliament: But, till this can be effectually done, we have a modest Propofal to make to the Public, in which we hope for the Attention and Indulgence of proper Judges.—The present Age is justly famous, and will be so to late Posterity, for the public Spirit it has shewn in encouraging and rewarding great and useful Designs and Undertakings, worthy the Regard ef a wise and powerful Nation. What a glorious Reward has been settled by the Authority of Parliament for the Discovery of the Longitude? How many Patents have been procured! How many Subscriptions set on foot for the Inventers and Improvers of any useful Branch of Science, Trade, and Manufacture! But nothing has yet been done of a public Nature for the Encouragement of. new Improvements in the Way of Reasoning, Arguing, or Disputing, which are very much wanted on our Side of the Question. Now there are TWO great Articles which our Adverfaries have wantonly rejected as useless and impracticable, have over and over again absolutely disclaimed any Pretence, Kind, or Degree of Right, Title, Property, or Use in them; and theresore they may, by a competent Authority, be fairly assigned, made over, confirmed to us and our Heirs or Assigns for ever, and a Patent be drawn to intitle us to all the Prosits, Advantages, and Emoluments that shall at any time arise or proceed from a proper Use and Improvement of the faid TWO Articles, in the Manner of The Mine Adventurers, The Wreck-Fishery, or The Discoverers of new Countries. And these are,
I. The Proof of Negatives.
II. The Reconciling Contradictions.
These two Points have been long considered not only as Desiderata, but as Desperata, by the generality of the Learned; and theresore every Attempt t© clear, recover, and explain these very difficult Branches of Knowledge, and make them usesul to the Interests of Society, ought to intitle the Adventurers to the equitable Favour and Indulgence of the Public.—As to the first then, I would humbly propose, that the sole Power of proving Negatives may be intirely vested in US, i. e. in a select Number of Gentlemen, in trust for the whole Body, when we shall be hereafter formed into a regular Society, in as sull and absolute a Manner as the Probot of Wills is in the Ecclesiastical Courts. I expect to be asked, But how shall this be done f —Done! Never sear: The fame Authority that gives us a Right to the End, gives us also a Right to the Means: He that gives us an absolute and unlimited Power, leaves us the sole Judges of the Ways and Means by which it is to be executed. You cannot