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however desaced by Ignorance, and desormed by Sin, A Fund of Good, on Oracle of Truth; which, when assisted by a happy Concurrence of external Causes, such as particularly the Structure of the Organs, and the Texture of the Blood and Spirits, will, by due Culture and Discipline, naturally exert itself in a Train of great, generous, and beneficent Actions, suitable to the original Grandeur and Dignity of its Nature. This is what Virgil, in his Pythagoric Stile, calls the Igneus Vigor csf Calestis Origo of the human Soul. This, in the present ruinous State of human Nature, lies very often buried under the Ruins of Ignorance and Vice, like valuable Coins, Medals, Statues, Pillars, and other beautisul Ornaments of Architecture; or to speak more properly, that Order, Symmetry, and Proportion, which were as the Soul of the Structure, lie buried under the Ruins of a once famous and magnificent Building. Hence it comes to pass, that many an excellent Genius is lost to the World, lies hid among the Rubbish of Mankind, who, with proper Assistance, due Culture, and in a happy Situation, might have done Honour to human Nature, and been a public Blessing to Mankind.—A Man of Honour, considered in this Light, persorms not only all the Acts of Virtue in public and private Lise, but does them with a peculiar Propriety and Dignity of Behaviour, as the Connoisseurs in Writing, Music, Painting, Architecture, or even Dress, execute even the justest Designs, not only with Proportion and Truth, but with such Decorations, Embellishments, and Graces, as naturally flow from a fine Taste, and an improved Understanding. This alone, in high Life, makes glorious Princes, F 4 illustrious illustrious Heroes, gallant Commanders, vigilant Magif^ trot es, and honourable Counsellors; and, in the lower Degree of social Lise, indulgent Husbands; tender Fathers, affectionate Friends, merciful Landlords and -Masters, faithful Tenants and Servants, and executes all the relative Duties of Lise with Justice and Honour. This is the truereyema and real Virtue, the only proper Foundation of all the honourable Distinctions among Men in all the different Stations of Lise, and it was a just and wise Observation of the Poet *.
Nobilitas sola eft at que unica Virtus. i
This is true Honour, which the greatest Princes upon Earth can neither give nor take away. .
Men that have approved themselves thus eminently and illustriously good, have, in all Ages and Countries, been distinguished, by wise Princes and Governors, by certain honourable Titles and Ensigns of Dignity,. expressive of their particular Merit, as might at once attract and command the Reverence of Inseriors, and encourage others to excel. And this has produced a secondary and improper Sense of the Word Honour, -which, by a fatal Abuse of Language, has almost swallowed up the other, and is too often substituted in its room, meaning no more than the honourable Rewards and Titles usually bestowed upon Persons of superior Virtue. How it has happened that these honourable Titles have, in many Cases, been made hereditary, and entailed not only on the direct Line,
* See a mofi excellent Treatise upon true Greatness by Mr. Rollin. in one of his Volumes upon the Study of the Belles Letters.
but even the collateral Branches of the Family, is not easily accounted for. If it were upon a Presumption that a wise and good Man could entail his moral and intellectual Accomplishments, as well as his Estate and Titles, upon the Heirs of his Body lawfully begotten, it was a very great Compliment to the Merit of the Father, as well as to the Virtue of the Mother; and it would be quite a right Institution, that a Race of virtuous and honourable Descendants should enjoy all the Honours and Privileges conserred upon their virtuous and honourable Progenitors. Were a Man unexperienced in human Nature and the frequent Instances of Degeneracy that abound in it, were he only to consider the general Course of Nature in the Animal and Vegetable Worlds, he might be tempted to conclude, that as all Animals and Vegetables produce their like with very little Variety and Deviation, but what arises from external and accidental Causes, Man also, the most persect Creature, the Head and Lord of the mundane System, should do the fame; and that the Poet argued very philosophically, as well as politely, when he faid,
Fortes Creantur fortibus & bonis.
Virtus, nee imbellem feroces
Progenerant aquilee columbam.
This was, indeed, a very pretty Compliment from a well-bred Man to a potent Emperor, and a generous Patron, but has more in it of the good Courtier than the good Philosopher. For sad Experience shews us the contrary; the best and wisest Man upon
Earth Earth has no Security whether his Heir shall be 3 wife Man or a Fool, a good Man or a Rake, a Patriot or a Pensioner, a Hero or a Sot. Many a flourifliing Tree in the Herald's Office has produced some such sorry Sticks of Wood as could be reduced to no Form or Use, or admit os any Polish. It should seem therefore to be giving too much Credit to the Virtue of the present Possessor to entail such Degrees of Wealth and Honour upon his Posterity, as to enable them, if they prove vicious, to do as much Mischief to the World in time to come, as he had done Good in time past. - This is an Entail of such a Nature, that no Demerit, except High-Treason against the Sovereign, can ever cut it off from the most unworthy Descendants. Why should it not also extend with as much Justice to their Estates and Fortunes, so as to fecure them from ever being wasted, or diminished by Profusion arid Extravagance, in bar to all the legal Demands of the honest and industrious Creditors? It must be owned that this is sometimes the Case, as it was thought a proper Precaution to secure a competent Provision of Fortune to attend the Honours of the Family, but with how much Justice to the Public, upon a thorough and circumstantial Survey of the Case, let any Man judge. I wish it could be said with any Appearance of Truth, that this is an invidious and impossible Supposition, and that the Stream of Honour never could be debased by passing through polluted Channels; that the legitimate Descendants of noble Ancestors never could tralineate from their Kind (as Mr. Dryden expresses it): But that such Instances really have happened where neither the natural nor intellectual Abilities of the Father, nor the
yirtue os the Mother, have ever been called in question, will, I think, require no Proof. And whenever this happens to be the Case, it would be a wise and useful Institution to erect another Court of Honour, another Bench of "Judges., who, like the Censors ia ancient Gmtm tmd Rome, and the most celebrated Eastern Nations, mould have Power to strip the worthless Bearer of such honourable Distinctions as are a Reproach to his Demerit, and suspend or divert the Entail till a proper Person of the fame Blood could be found, who, in the Judgment of the Courts might be thought worthy to wear them.
I Believe it would be hard to produce any one Order of Knighthood in Christian Countries, who are not bound by the Statutes of their respective Foundations, principally, and among other Articles, to defend God's Holy Religion, the Immunities of the Church, and the Liberties of their Country, as well as the Honour of their Sovereign; to protest Widows and Orphans, to ajfi/l the Distrejfed, and to rescue the Helpless from Violence and Wrong, and to exert all other Acts of heroic and military Virtue; and that a Default in either of these, to which they solemnly bound themselves by their Installation Oath, should subject them to the infamous Penalties injoined by the Rules of their Order, such as particularly with us, to have their Arms reversed, their Swords broke, and their Spurs back'd off" by the Majler-Cook of the King's Kitchen: