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[1] IT is generally agreed, that we ought to regulate our Opinions of Men by the Conformity of their Behaviour to the Rules of Moral Virtue; Rules sufficiently obvious to all Pers[o]ns, who will consider them with Attention; and especially in all those Cases which relate to the common Duties of Social Life.

[2] THERE have been Persons in the World who have been highly caressed, and, to outward Appearance at least, esteemed, who yet, whether considered in their Private or their more Publick Capacity, have not acted conformably to the Moral Obligations they are under, on either Account; but, as it seems, in a direct and determined Opposition to them.[2]

[3] OTHER Reasons may be assigned for the irregular and corrupt Judgment of the World in Favour of such Persons; but I shall specify one, which at present occurs to my Thoughts, and is, perhaps, among other causes of Popular Error, the most general and prevalent. I mean, The Influence of ill Example, when wicked Men have found means to establish themselves in Power, and to create numerous Dependencies. [3]

[4] THE Pomp and Splendor of their Condition; the visible Homage that is every where paid to them, the Obsequiousness wherewith Persons both of Superior Understanding and Quality are often observed to approach them, do so dazle [sic] and confound People of weak Minds, that they can see nothing, during such Prepossessions, in a true Light. Even they who are more capable of distinguishing Real from Counterfeit Merit, yet, to favour their own Indolence, and to avoid the Pain and Trouble of Attention, chuse rather implicitely [sic] to follow the Multitude, and to take up with common Appearances of Things, than to examine them by the Test and Evidence of Reason. [4]


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[5] AND even where the Wickedness of Great Men is too notorious to be denied or dissembled, Reasons of Interest and Dependance, will, notwithstanding, so far blind the Eyes, and corrupt the Hearts of Men, as to furnish a thousand Pretences, such as they are, if not to justify their Misconduct, at least to palliate [5] and excuse it; by attributing their Measures to extraordinary Exigencies of State; sometimes to Causes which never subsisted; at other times, to remote Prospects of future Dangers.

[6] UPON these Grounds we discover why it so frequently happens, that neither Persons nor Things are called by their right Names; why in High and Low Life, we appropriate very different Characters to Men, and treat them after a very different Manner who yet act upon the same vicious and dishonest Motives; why in some Parts of the World, one Man charged for a single Robbery on the Highway, committed, perhaps, for a Trifle, or the mere Relief of his Necessities, shall be executed; whilst another, who has inriched himself by continual Depredations, for a Course of some Years, at the Expence of his Country, shall not only escape with Impunity, but, by a servile Herd of Flatterers and Sycophants, have all his Actions crowned with Applause. [6]

[7] THIS puts me in Mind of an Excellent Saying of a Pyrate to Alexander the Great, as mentioned by Sir Roger L'Estrange, in his Fables and Stories Moralized.

[8] THAT great Prince `demanding of a Corsaire, that he had taken Prisoner (to use that celebrated Writer's own Words) How he durst presume to scour the Seas at that insolent Rate? Why, truly, says he, I scour the Seas for my Profit and my Pleasure, just as you scour the World: Only I am to be a Rogue for doing it with One Galley; and You must be a mighty Prince, forsooth, for doing the same Thing with an Army. Alexander was so pleas'd with the Bravery of the Man, that he immediately gave him his Liberty.'

[9] THIS Story that excellent Mythologist Moralizes as follows. `Power, says he, is no Privilege for Violence: It may create some Sort of Security in the Execution; but it gives no Manner of Right to the Committing of it: For Oppression and Injustice are the very same Thing in an Emperor, that they are in a Pirate. This, continues Sir Roger, was bravely said of the Corsaire, and it was as bravely done of Alexander; but whether it wrought upon his Conscience or his Honour, may be a Question; that is to say, Whether he was more moved with the Reason of the Thing, or with the Courage of the Man. But it looks well, however, either way; for Alexander not only forgave the Affront of being made the greater Thief of the Two, but gave the poor Fellow his Freedom over and above. And we have likewise this Document


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left us for our Instruction; That in all Fortunes and Extremes, a Great Soul will never want Matter to work upon.'

I am, SIR, Your most Humble Servant,