George Atherton Aitken.

The life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians online

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Chap. IV. Of the methods by which John endeavoured to pre-
serve the peace amongst his neighbours : how he kept a
pair of steelyards to weigh them ; and by diet, purging,
vomiting, and bleeding, tried to bring them to equal bulk
and strength.

Chap. V. Of false accounts of the weights given in by some of
the journeymen ; and of the Newmarket tricks that were
practised at the steelyards.

Chaj). VI. How John's new journeymen brought him other-
guise accounts of the steelyards.

Chap. VII. How Sir Swain Northy - was by bleeding, purging,
and a steel diet, brought into a consmnption ; and how
John was forced afterwards to give him the gold cordial.

Chap. VIII. How Peter Bear^ was overfed, and aftenvards
refused to submit to the course of physic.

Chap. IX. How John pampered Esquire South mth tit-bits, till
he grew wanton ; how he got drunk mth Calabrian wine,

^ Instead of this Postscript, the upon all shrews, the original cause

original pamphlet had the following of his misfortunes, are resei-ved for

closing words : the next volume.

*^* John Bull's thanks to Sir ^ King of Sweden.

Roger, and Nic. Frog's malediction = The Czar.

U



290 WORKS OF DR. ARBUTHNOT.

and longed for Sicilian beef, and how John carried him
thither in his barge.

Chap. X. How the Esquire, from a foul feeder, grew dainty :
how he longed for mangoes, spices, and Indian birds' nests,
&c., and could not sleep but in a chintz bed.

Chap. XI. The Esquire turned tradesman ; how he set up a
China-shop ' over against Nic. Frog.

Chap. XII. How he procured Spanish flies to bhster his neigh-
bours, and as a provocative to himself. As likewise how
he ravished Nic. Frog's favourite daughter.

Chap. XIII. How Nic. Frog, hearing the girl squeak, went to
call John Bull as a constable. Calling of a constable no
preventive of a rape.

Chap. XIV. How John rose out of his bed in a cold morning
to prevent a duel between Esquii-e South and Lord Strutt ;
how, to his great surprise, he found the combatants drink-
ing Geneva in a brandy shop, with Nic.'s favourite daughter
between them. How they both fell upon John so that he
was forced to fight his way out.

Chap. XV. How John came with his constable's staff to rescue
Nic.'s daughter, and break the Esquire's china-ware.

Chaj). XVI. Commentary upon the Spanish proverb, ' time and
I against any two ' ; or advice to dogmatical pohticians,
exemplified in some new affairs between John Bull and
Lewis Baboon.

Chap. XVII. A discourse of the delightful game of quadrille.
How Le^^'is Baboon attempted to play a game solo in clubs,
and was beasted : how John called Lewis for his king, and
was afraid that his own partner should have too many
tricks : and how the success and skill of quadrille depends
upon calling a right king.

1 The Ostend Company.



THE ART OF POLITICAL LYING.

[Seepages 51, 52.]



u a



PROPOSALS

FOE PRINTING A VERY CURIOUS DISCOURSE.

IN TWO VOLUMES IN QUAETO,
ENTITLED

^EYAOAOriA nOAITIKH ;

OR,

A TREATISE OF

THE ART OF POLITICAL LYING.

With an Abstract of the First Vohime of the said Treatise.

There is now in the press a curious piece entitled, "^(vdoXoyia
lloXiTiKfi ; or, a Treatise of the Art of Political Lying : consisting
of two Vohimes in Quarto.

The Proposals are : —

I. That, if the author meets with suitable encouragement,
he intends to deliver the first volume to the subscribers by
Hilary Term next.

II. The price of both volumes wiU be, to the subscribers,
fourteen shillings, seven whereof are to be j)aid down, and
the other seven at the delivery of the second volume.

III. Those that subscribe for six, shall have a seventh
gratis ; which reduces the price to less than six shillings a
volume.

IV. That the subscribers shall have then- names and places
of abode printed at length.

Subscriptions are taken in at St. James's Coffee-house, Young
Man's at Charing Cross, the Grecian, Bridges's by the Royal
Exchange, and most other Coffee-houses in town.

For the encouragement of so useful a work, it is thought fit
the public should be infomied of the contents of the
first volume, by one who has with great care perused
the manusciipt.



THE ART OF POLITICAL LYING.

The author, in liis preface, makes some veiy judicious
reflections upon the original of arts and sciences : that at
first they consist of scattered theorems and practices, which
are handed about amongst the masters, and only revealed to
the filii artis, till such time as some great genius apj)ears, who
collects these disjomted propositions, and reduces them into
a regular system. That this is the case of that noble and
useful art of Political Lying, which, in this last age having
l)een enriched with several new discoveries, ought not to lie
any longer in rubbish and confusion, but may justly claim
a place in the Encyclopedia, especially such as serves for a
model of education for an able politician. That he proposes
to himself no small stock of fame in future ages, in being
the first who has undertaken this design ; and for the same
reason he hopes the imperfection of his work will be excused.
He invites all persons who have any talents that way, or any
new discoveiy, to communicate their thoughts, assuring them
that honourable mention shall be made of them in liis work.

The first volume consists of eleven chapters.

In the first chapter of his excellent treatise, he reasons
philosoplucally concerning the nature of the soul of man,
and those quaHties which render it susceptible of lies. He
supposes the soul to be of the nature of a plano-cyHndrical
speculum, or looking-glass ; that the plain side was made by
God Ahnighty, but that the devil afterwards wrought the
other side into a cylindrical figure. The plain side represents
objects just as they are ; and the cyHndrical side, by the
rules of catoptrics, must needs represent true objects false,
and false objects true : but the cylindrical side, being much
the larger surface, takes in a greater compass of visual rays.
That upon the cylindrical side of the soul of man depends
the whole art and success of PoUtical Lying. The author,
in this chapter, proceeds to reason upon the qualities of the



THE ART OF POLITICAL LYING. 295

mind : as its peculiar fondness of the malicious and the
miraculous. The tendency of the soul towards the malicious
springs from self-love, or a pleasure to find mankind more
wicked, base, or unfortunate than ourselves. The design
of the miraculous pi'oceeds from the inactivity of the soul,
or its incapacity to be moved or delighted with anything
that is vulgar or common. The author having established
the qualities of the mind, upon which his art is founded,
he proceeds.

In his second chapter, to treat of the nature of Political
Lying ; which he defines to be, the art of convincing the
people of salutary falsehoods, for some good end. He calls it
an art, to distinguish it from that of telling truth, which
does not seem to want art ; but then he would have tliis
understood only as to the invention, because there is indeed
more art necessary to convince the people of a salutary truth
than a salutary falsehood. Then he proceeds to prove that
there are salutary falsehoods, of which he gives a great many
instances, both before and after the Eevolution ; and demon-
strates plainly that we could not have earned on the war
so long without several of those salutaiy falsehoods. He gives
rules to calculate the value of a PoHtical Lie, in pounds,
shillings, and pence. By good he does not mean that which
is absolutely so, but what appears so to the artist, which is
a sufficient ground for him to proceed upon ; and he distin-
guishes the good, as it commonly is, into honum utile, duke,
et honestmn. He shews you that there are Political Lies
of a mixed nature, which include all the three in different
respects : that the utile reigns generally about the Exchange,
the dulce and Jwnestum at the Westminster end of the town.
One man spreads a lie to sell and buy stock to greater advan-
tage ; a second, because it is honourable to serve his party ;
and a third, because it is sweet to gratify his revenge. Having
explained the several terms of his definition, he proceeds.

In his third chapter, to treat of the la^vfulness of Political
Lying ; which he deduces from its true and genuine principles,
by inquiring into the several rights that mankind have to
truth. He shews that people have a right to private truth
from their neighbours, and economical truth from their own
family ; that they should not be abused by their wives, children,
and servants ; but that they have no right at all to Political



296 WORKS OF DR. ARBUTHNOT.

Truth ; that the people may as well all pretend to be lords
of manors, and possess great estates, as to have truth told
them in matters of government. The author with great
judgment states the several shares of mankind in this matter
of truth, according to theu' several capacities, dignities, and
professions ; and shews you that children have hardly any share
at all ; in consequence of which, they have very seldom any
truth told them. It must be owned that the author in this
chapter has some seeming difficulties to answer, and texts of
Scripture to explain.

The fourth chapter is wholly employed in this question,
whether the right of coinage of PoHtical Lies be wholly in
the government ? The author, who is a true friend to English
liberty, determines in the negative, and answers all the
arguments of the opposite party with great acuteness : that,
as the government of England has a mixture of democratical
in it, so the right of inventing and spreading Political Lies
is partly in the people ; and their obstinate adherence to this
just privilege has been most conspicuous, and shined with
great lustre of late years : that it happens very often, that
there are no other means left to the good people of England
to pull down a ministiy and government they are weary of,
but by exercising this their undoubted right : that abundance
of Pohtical Lying is a sure sign of true English liberty : that,
as ministers do sometimes use tools to support their power,
it is but reasonable that people should employ the same weapon
to defend themselves, and pull them down.

In his fifth chapter, he divides PoHtical Lies into several
species and classes, and gives precepts about the inventing,
spreading, and propagating the several sorts of them : he
begins with the rumores, and lihelU famosi, such as concern the
reputation of men in power ; where he finds favilt with the
common mistake that takes notice only of one sort, riz. the
detractory or defamatory, whereas in truth there are three
soi-ts, the detractory, the additory, and the translatory. The
additory gives to a great man a larger share of reputation than
belongs to him, to enable him to serve some good end or purpose.
The detractory or defamatory is a lie, which takes from a great
man the reputation that justly belongs to him, for fear he
should use it to the detriment of the pubHc. The translatoiy
is a He, that transfers the merit of a man's good action



THE ART OF POLITICAL LYING. 297

to another, who is in himself more deserving ; or transfers
the dement of a bad action fi'om the true author to a person
who is in himself less deserving. He gives several instances
of very great strokes in all the three kinds, especially in the
last, when it was necessary for the good of the public to bestow
the valour and conduct of one man upon another, and that
of many to one man ; nay even \ upon a good occasion, a man
may be robbed of his victory by a person that did not com-
mand in the action. The restoring and destroying the public
may be ascribed to persons who had no hand in either. The
author exhorts all gentlemen practitioners to exercise them-
selves in the translatory, because, the existence of the things
themselves being visible, and not demanding any proof, there
wants nothing to be put upon the pubUc, but a false author,
or a false cause ; which is no great presumption upon the
credulity of mankind, to whom the secret springs of things
are for the most part unknown.

The author proceeds to give some precej)ts as to the additory :
that when one ascribes anything to a person which does not
belong to him, the lie ought to be calculated not quite con-
tradictory to his known qualities : for example, one would not
make the French king present at a Protestant conventicle ; nor,
like Queen Elizabeth, restore the overplus of taxes to his
subjects. One would not bring in the Emperor giving two
months' pay in advance to his troops ; nor the Dutch paying
more than then- quota. One would not make the same person
zealous for a standing army and public liberty ; nor an atheist

^ Major General Webb obtained may justly be reckoned amongst
a glorious victory over the French the great actions of that war : but
near Wynendale, in the year 1708. the Duke of Marlborough's secretary,
He was sent with 6000 of the con- in his letter written to England,
federate troops to guard a great gave all the honour of it to General
convoy to the allied army besieging Cadogan, the Duke's favourite, who
Lisle ; Count de la Motte came out did not come vip till after the en-
from Ghent with near 24,000 men gagement. This was so resented
to intercept them ; but Major Gen- by General Webb, that he left the
eral Webb disposed his men with army in disgust ; and, coming into
such admirable skill that, notwith- England to do himself justice, re-
standing the vast superiority of ceived the unanimous thanks of
numbers, by the pure force of order the Hovise of Commons for his
and disposition the French were eminent services by that great ac-
dx'iven back in two or three succes- tion ; which was also acknowledged
sive attempts, and, after having in a distinguishing manner by the
lost 6000 or 7000 men, could be King of Prussia, who bestowed on
brought to charge no more. This him the Order of Generosity.



2gS WORKS OF DR. ARBUTHNOT.

support the church ; nor a lewd fellow a refonner of manners ;
nor a hot-headed, crack-brained coxcomb forward for a scheme
of moderation. But if it is absolutely necessaiy that a person
is to have some good adventitious quality given him, the
author's precept is that it should not be done at first in extremo
gradii. For example, they should not make a covetous man
give away all at once five thousand pounds in a charitable
generous way ; twenty or thirty pounds may suffice at first.
They should not introduce a person of remarkable ingratitude
to his benefactors, I'ewarding a poor man for some good office
that was done him thuiy years ago ; but they may allow him
to acknowledge a service to a person who is capable still to do
him another. A man whose personal courage is suspected, is
not at first to drive whole squadrons before hmi ; but he may
be allowed the merit of some squabble, or throwing a bottle at
his adversary's head.

It will not be allowed to make a great man, that is a known
desj)iser of religion, spend whole days in his closet at his
devotion ; but you may with safety make him sit out public
prayers with decency. A great man, who has never been
known willingly to pay a just debt, ought not all of a sud-
den to be introduced making restitution of thousands he has
cheated ; let it suffice at first to pay twenty pounds to a friend
who has lost his note.

He lays down the same rules in the detractory or defamatory
kind ; that they should not be quite opposite to the qualities
the persons are supposed to have. Thus it will not be found
according to the sound rules of pseudology to report of a pious
and rehgious prince, that he neglects his devotion, and would
introduce heresy ; but you may report of a merciful prince, that
he has pardoned a criminal who did not deserve it. You will
be unsuccessful if you give out of a great man, who is remark-
able for his frugality for the public, that he squanders away the
nation's money ; but you may safely relate that he hoards it ;
you must not affirm he took a bribe ; but you may freely
censure hun for being tardy in his payments ; because, though
neither may be true, yet the last is credible, the first not. Of
an open-hearted generous minister you are not to say that he
was in an inti'igue to betray his countiy ; but you may affirm,
with some probability, that he was in an intrigue with a lady.
He warns all practitioners to take good heed to these precepts ;



THE ART OF POLITICAL LYING. 299

for want of which many of their lies of late have proved
abortive or shoi-t-lived.

In the sixth chapter he treats of the miraculous ; by which
he unclei'stands anything that exceeds the common degrees of
probability. In respect of the people it is divided into two
sorts, the 7-0 (pol3fp6u, or the t6 ^u/xoftSes-, terrifying lies, and
animating or encouraging lies, both bemg extremely useful on
their proper occasions. Concerning the to (poi3(p6v he gives
several rules ; one of which is, that terrible objects should not
be too frequently shewn to the people, lest they grow familiar.
He says, it is absolutely necessary that the people of England
should be frighted with the French king and the Pretender
once a year ; but that the bears should be chained up again
till that tune twelve month. The want of observing this so
necessaiy a precept, in bringing out the raw-head and bloody
bones uj^on every trifling occasion, has produced great in-
difference in the vulgar of late years. As to the animating or
encouraging lies he gives the following rules ; that they should
not far exceed the common degrees of probability ; that there
should be variety of them, and the same lie not obstinately
insisted upon ; that the promissory or prognosticating lies
should not be upon short days, for fear the authors should
have the shame and confusion to see themselves speedily con-
tradicted. He examines by these rules that well-meant, but
unfortunate lie of the conquest of France, which continued
near twenty years ^ together ; but at last, by being too ob-
stinately insisted upon, it was worn threadbare and became
unsuccessful.

As to the TO TfpaTS)8es, or the prodigious, he has little to
advise, but that their comets, whales, and dragons should be
sizeable ; their storms, tempests, and earthquakes without the
reach of a day's journey of a man and horse.

The seventh chapter is wholly taken up in an enquiiy,
which of the two parties are the greatest artists in poUtical
lying. He owns that sometimes the one party, and some-
times the other, is better behoved, but that they have both
very great geniuses amongst them. He attriljutes the ill success
of either party to their glutting the market, and retailing too
much of a bad commodity at once : when there is too great
a quantity of worms, it is hard to catch gudgeons. He proposes
^ During the reigns of King William and Queen Anne.



300 WORKS OF DR. ARBUTHNOT.

a scheme for the recovery of the credit of any party, which
indeed seems to be somewhat chimerical, and does not savour
of that sound judgment the author has shewn in the rest of
the work. It amounts to this, that the party should agree to
vent nothing but truth for three months together, which will
give them credit for six months' lying aftei-wards. He owns,
that he believes it almost impossible to find fit persons to
execute this scheme. Towards the end of the chapter he
inveighs severely against the folly of parties in retaining
scoundrels and men of low genius to retail then- lies ; such as
most of the present news-writers are, who, except a strong bent
and inclination towards the profession, seem to be wholly
ignorant in the rules of pseudology, and not at all qualified for
so weighty a trust.

In his next chapter he treats of some extraordinary geniuses
who have appeared of late years, especially in their disposition
towards the miraculous. He advises those hopeful young men
to turn their invention to the service of their country, it being
inglorious, at this time, to employ theu' talent in prodigious
fox-chases, horse-courses, feats of activity in driving of coaches,
jumping, running, swallowdng of peaches, pulling out whole
sets of teeth to clean, &e. when their country stands so maich
in need of their assistance.

The eighth chapter is a project for uniting the several smaller
corporations of liars into one society. It is too tedious to give
a full account of the whole scheme : what is most remarkable
is, that this society ought to consist of the heads of each party :
that no lie is to pass cuiTent without their approbation, they
being the best judges of the present exigencies, and what sort
of lies are demanded : that in such a coiporation there ought to
be men of all professions, that to irpknov, and the to fvXoyuv, that is,
decency and probability, may be observed as much as possible :
that, besides the persons above-mentioned, this society ought
to consist of the hopeful geniuses about the town (of which there
are great plenty to be picked up in the several coffee-houses),
travellers, virtuosos, fox-hunters, jockeys, attorneys, old seamen
and soldiers out of the hospitals of Greenmch and Chelsea. To
this society, so constituted, ought to be coumiitted the sole
management of lying : that in their outer room there ought
always to attend some persons endowed with a great stock of
credulity, a generation that thrives mightily in this soil and



THE ART OF POLFflCAL LYING. 301

climate : he thinks a sufficient number of them may be picked
up anywhere about the Exchange : these are to circulate what
the others coin ; for no man spreads a he ^^dth so good a grace,
as he that beHeves it : that the rule of the society be to invent
a lie, and sometimes two, for every day ; in the choice of which
great regard ought to be had to the weather, and the season
of the year : your (pofdfpt), or terrifying lies, do mighty well in
November and December, but not so well in May and June,
unless the easterly winds reign : that it ought to be penal for
anybody to talk of anythmg but the lie of the day : that the
society is to maintain a sufficient number of spies at court, and
other places, to furnish hints and topics for invention, and a
genei'al correspondence of all the market-towns for circulating
their hes : that if any one of the society were observed to
blush, or look out of countenance, or want a necessaiy cu-cum-
stance in telhng the lie, he ought to be expelled, and declared
incapable : besides the roaring lies, there ought to be a private
committee for wliispers, constituted of the ablest men of the
society. Here the author makes a digression in praise of the
Whig party, for the right understanding and use of proof-lies.
A proof-he is like a proof-charge for a piece of ordnance, to tiy
a standard creduHty. Of such a nature he takes transubstantia-
tion to be in the Chm'ch of Eome, a proof-article, which if any
one swallows, they are sure he will digest everything else :
therefore the Whig party do wisely to try the credulity of the
people sometimes by swingers, that they may be able to judge
to what height they may charge them afterwards. Towards the
end of this chapter he warns the heads of parties against be-
lieving their own lies, which has proved of pernicious conse-
quence of late, both a wise party and a wise nation having
regulated their affairs upon hes of their own invention. The
causes of this he supposes to be too great a zeal and intenseness
in the practice of this art, and a vehement heat in mutual con-
versation, whereby they persuade one another that what they
wish, and report to be true, is i*eally so : that all parties have
been subject to this misfortune. The Jacobites have been con-
stantly infested with it ; but the Wliigs of late seemed even to
exceed them in this ill habit and weakness. To this chaj)ter
the author subjoins a calendar of hes, proper for the several
months of the year.

The ninth chapter treats of the celerity and duration of hes.



302 WORKS OF DR. ARBUTHNOT.

As to the celerity of their motion, the author says it is almost
incredible : he gives several instances of lies, that have gone
faster than a man can ride post ; your terrifying Hes travel at
a prodigious rate, above ten miles an hour ; your whispers move
in a narrow voiiex, but very swiftly. The author says it is
impossible to explain several phenomena in relation to the
celerity of lies, without the supposition of synchronism and
combination. As to the duration of lies, he says there are of all
sorts, from hours and days to ages ; that there are some which
like insects die and revive again in a different foiTa ; that good



Online LibraryGeorge Atherton AitkenThe life and works of John Arbuthnot, M.D., fellow of the Royal College of Physicians → online text (page 27 of 47)