a) ROBERT WOLSELEY, Preface to Valentinian 1685
I might here take occasion to point out in particular, and lash (as they deserve) those daily-increasing Vices and long uncorrected Follies, which are our present Grievances: the Subject is but too fruitful, and the Use fulness too apparent, nor cou’d I ever purchase Reputation at a cheaper rate; nothing is more easie than to pull off the thin Veil, and bare the vileness of those odious Practices, which some who are ready at any time to run with a Multitude to do mischief, applaud for the highest Virtue and Merit; nothing requires less skill, than to baffle and expose to universal Contempt those slight and trivial Notions, which others who seem given over to believe a Lye, cry up for Master-pieces of Wit and Reason; to name ’em for Arguments is to ridicule ’em, and but to state ’em right is to confute ’em. But common prudence will teach a man not to hurt himself, while he vainly endeavours the good of others; for as there never was any Time or Countrey that wanted Satyre so much, that cou’d bear it so little as ours, so the men I wou’d reform are a sort of
harden’d irreclaimable Blockheads, whose Understandings seem perfect Solids, as dead to Wit, and as insensible of Reason, as if there Souls and their Bodies (according to Hobbes’s Philosophy) were both made of the same stuff, and equally impenetrable; so ty’d to their little Prejudices, and so wilful in their Blindness, that were they in a Storm at Sea, that threaten’d every moment those Lives and Fortunes of which they are sometimes so unnecessarily prodigal, it wou’d be impossible to make ’em own, there were a breath of Wind stirring, unless it suited with their Humours, or was to the purpose of their Folly. With them Seeing in some cases is not Believing, and the most perfect sence they have (if it cross their Inclination) must pass for an Irish Evidence. I shall leave therefore to their own Conduct and Destiny this forlorn Hope of Ignorance and Stupidity, and return to what I was saying of my Lord Rochester.