Sunday, November 21, 2010

L'Estrange: Two Doctors and a Sheep

As a Sheep was Grazing One Evening in a Pleasant Meadow, I had the hap to Overhear Two Doctors of the Schools, as they were taking a Walk there, Philosophizing upon the Advantages of Mankind above all other Creatures; and particularly, upon the Natural Disposition that Man has to live in Union and Society. The Sheep gave One of them a Gentle Touch by the Cloak, and told him, that under favour, he could not be of their Opinion. 'Tis true, says he, you have your Cities, Towns Incorporate, and Large Communities; but then you have your Magistrates too; your Laws, Oaths, and a Thousand Shackles upon ye; and all little enough to keep the Peace among ye. You Dispute, Wrangle, Fight, make a perpetual Bussle in the World, Break Friendships, Dissolve the very Tyes of Marriage, and Tear one Another to Pieces with all manner of Extravagant Contests. Now this would never be, sure, if there were in ye that same Implanted Inclination to Unity and Agreement, that you speak of. If you would come to a clear Resolution of this Question, you must first set your Selves at liberty from the Over-ruling Awe of Disgrace, Shame, and Punishment; and by the Removal of that Force, leave your Selves to the full Scope of your Avarice and Ambition. You will then find by the Event, whether man be Naturally a Protector and Preserver of Society, or a Destroyer of it. No, no, my Learned Sirs, 'tis We that are the Sociable creatures, We Troop together, Feed together, Live together, follow the same Leader too, without any Constraint upon us, either of Vows or Penalties; and the very Flies and Pismires upon this Topick, will Rise up in Judgment against Mankind.

The Philosophers will have Man in a Degree of Excellency to be a Sociable Creature; but these Philosophers are Men themselves then, and Judges in their own Case: Now if we may Credit Matter of Fact and Experience, Men are the most Disunited Creatures under the Heavens: 'Tis their Delight, Study, Practice and Profession to lye Cutting One Anothers Throats, and Destroying their own Kind: Insomuch that Birds, Beasts and Insects, to the very Flies and Pismires, will rise up in Judgment against Mankind in this Point.

Source: L'Estrange 485.
(not in Mille) (not in Perry)

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