To the Right Honourable JAMES, Lord Drummond.
DID I think that the Present I here make Your Lordship needed any Man’s Patronage to set it off, I should, instead of doing You an Honour, disparage Your good Judgment by such an Address. TRUTH is of Another Kind of Mettal than that Rich Oar which Avaricious Worldlings dig out of the Bowels of the Earth. Her Worth is wholly Intrinsick; nor can she owe any part of Her Valuableness to the Face of a Heroe, or a Caesar, stampt upon her to make her more Currentand Authentick; and it would argue she wanted Worth, should she beg it. ‘Tis her Prerogative never to go out of her self: Nor does this Restrain or Imprison, but Enlarge her. The whole Vast Extent of BEING is her Ordinary Purlew, and within the Precincts of her far-stretcht Jurisdiction. Tho’ her Steps are Steady and Wary, yet she ranges over All Nature. Her Unconsined Progress takes it’s Rise, and starts from Principles: Sciences are her Stages; whence she makes Excursions into Endless and Numberless Conclusions. Nor does she content her self, much less affect, to walk on even Ground: The Paths she treads are all up-hill, and she knows no Resting-place in her long Ascending Journey, till she settles her self in the Clear Contemplation of the FIRST BEING.
These Considerations will make it seem very Improper for a Man who professes to regard nothing but the Promoting of TRUTH, to Preface his Book with a Dedicatory; which, in the Common Opinion of the World, makes a Show of courting a Patronage, I do once more assure Your Lordship this was not my Aim:For no Man can patronize Errour, and Truth needs no Man’s good Word or Authority to abet her. Not all the Power of Alexanders, or Caesars, can make a Bad Proof conclude, nor hinder the Consequence of a True Demonstration. Arguments grounded on Evident Principles are of such a Stiff and Sullen Nature, that they can neither how out of Respect, nor fawn out of Complement, nor shake out of Awe or Fear. Since then Applications of this Nature can no Ways advantage my Cause; what Excuse can I make to the World why I am so Inconsistent with my Profession; or, why I would needs do such a needless thing as to Particularize to Your self what I had intended for the Common Good of all my Learned Readers?
‘Tis Natural, my Lord, for us all, when we apprehend some sinister Imputation, to lay the Blame on others; and ’tis Honest too, when those Others are really the Cause or Occasion of our incurring that Censure. Pardon me then, my Lord, if, to save my self Harmless, I lay the Good Fault at Your door; and openly declare, that ’tis none but Your self who has made me Guilty of this odd Singularity. Had there been nothing in Your Lordship above the Common, the Common should have taken my Book among them without any Restriction. Had there been no Particular Qualification in Your Lordship, which Distinguisht and Signaliz’d You; my Indifferency had yet remain’d Undetermin’d. This Specialty in Your Lordship, if I can with Truth make out, and prove to the World, and (under Favour) to Your own face too, and that ’tis of such a Nature as became Me to take Notice of it; my Credit is acquitted, and Your Lordship must answer for it. I believe Your Lordship is not aware Your self what this Distinctive Mark is, which could oblige a Man in my Station to single You out thus from Your Peers. I will take leave then to make my Approaches to the telling the World what it is, by acquainting them first what it is not.
Were my Talent Heraldry, I would then blazon in the best colours the Antiquity of Your Noble Family; how it came first into Scotland with St. Margaret the then Queen. I would lay open the Royal Alliances of it by the Marriage of the Lady Annabel Drummond with Robert the Third, King of Scots; how from Her, by the Mother’s Side, descended the Family of the STUARTS; who, in a long Succession, Raign’d in Scotland, and afterwards in England too. By which means some of the Royal Blood of those Great Monarchs was deriv’d from that of the DRUMMONDS; and, by consequence, is Ally’d to that which circulates now in Your Lordship’s Veins. Were I skill’d in such matters, I could with Truth declare how far your Lordship outstript all your Equalls in those Exercises in which Noble Gentlemen use to be train’d up; to that Degree of Skill and Vigour, that, whereas You came thither as a Learner, You arriv’d, in a short time, to the pitch of a Master. I could add, were my Profession Souldiery, what Bravoure Your Lordship shew’d in War, even in the Bud of your Youth; and how You durst even then look Danger in the Facewith an Undaunted Courage. I could recount your Travells thro’ the most polite Nations of Europe, culling out of each all that’s Commendable, and conduces to accomplish a Personage of your Rank; and leaving behind you whatever was Unworthy and Misbecoming. I could, out of a fair Experience, dilate upon your Noble and Civil Deportment; which claims at once a High Respect, and wins the Love of all that Converse with you, & Know You: How the native Sweetness of your Genius secures you from having any Enemies, and the Greatness of your Mind from fearing them. Lastly, how your Friendly Affability, and Unpretended Courtesy, is neither deprest by mean Condescensions; nor rais’d above its just Level by the least Disrespectful Height: Which make up a Mixture so Charming,that ’tis impossible to know you, and not pay you the double Duties of Esteem and Love.
All these are very great Embellishments to your High Extraction, and make a great Esclat in the Eye of the Generality of wellbred Persons. But, what are all these to Mee, whose sole Addiction is to pursue Truth, and to bend the whole Intention of my Mind to promote that Best, and, in comparison, only valuable End, Tho’ the Lustre of these do burnish Honour, and is so Conspicuous and Bright in you, that it casts a shadow on others of your Quality and Age; yet these were not my Chief Motive why I give this Book a particular Reference to your Lordship. No, my Ld. there is another piece of your Character left yet untoucht, which, in my Esteem, excells all these; which is, that you are a Hearty and Sincere Lover of Truth. ‘Tis This, ’tis This, my Ld. which gives you a just Title and Appropriation to this Present of mine: ‘Tis This, that can best satisfy the World (as it does mee) that your Thoughts are Truly Great, and not detain’d in Insignificant Trifles, as too many of your Rank are; nor, consequently, are your Affections plac’d on Low and Contemptible Objects. ‘Tis This that double-guilds Your other Heroical Qualities, and sets you on the Highest Pinnacle of Honour.
There is nothing which more shocks a true-bred Gentleman, than a Ly, tho’ it be but in puntilio‘s of ordinary Conversation. But how exceedingly does a Hearty Lover of Truth refine upon this Common Genius of a Man of Honour. Such a Person bids Defiance to the whole Tribe of Errours, which are Lies in their several wayes. A Falshood in Natural Philosophy gives the Ly to Nature. A Falshood or Paralogism in Logick gives the Ly to Human Reason, which is the true Nature of all Mankind. A Falshood in Metaphysicks gives the Ly to the whole Nature of Being; that is, to the whole Creation; and to the First Being, who by his Flat Establisht those Natures. You have not yet, my Ld. taken the Full Dimensions of the Grandeur, to which this High Title, [A Lover of Truth] has rais’d you. You may please to reflect that this Mistress whom You affect and court, is very neerly Ally’d to Heaven by the Father’s side; and if You espouse her, (for You may be sure of her chast Consent, if You sincerely affect her) You dignity and ennoble your Extraction by a Relation transcendently above what Sublunary Marriages could have given it.
‘Tis then, to one of those Greatest of Men, or rather one of those Paragons of Mankind, that is, to a Sincere Lover of TRUTH, I dedicate my Book. I doubt not but I might have found diverse of those whom the Populace of Scribblers call Patrons or Mecoenasses, who, out of a vain Consideration •f being Prais’d in Print, would have gratefully accepted it; had I been willing out of a Mercenary Humour, to prostitute TRUTH to Unqualify’d Persons. But how would it have sham’d my Choice, and brought my Prudence and Sincerity into Question, to make a Present of Pearls to those whose Thoughts are digging in the Dunghil of Worldly Riches; and value the Barly-corns of their Opulent Estates, above the best Ornament of their Mind, Knowledge. Such Gifts to those Little-GreatMen had been as Improper as to present an Atheist with a Prayer-book, who would out of Exteriour Civility, or some other Respect, seem to accept it kindly; but afterward burn the Book and laugh at the Writer.
Yet, all this while, I do not pretend to lay any Obligation at all on your Lordship by this Dedication; for, had this Book been publish’d without it, You would presently have made it your own by Perusing it. To do which intelligently both your own Natural Genius, and your running thorow the Course of your Studies, in Learned Company, with such Applause, has more effectually enabled You, than it would some of our old Schoolterm-Doctors. Such Maturity of Judgment in such Youthful and Green Years. would easily enable your Vigorous Understanding to take in and digest the most Elevated Conceptions. You see then, my Lord, I only give you what I could not keep from you; and Forced Kindnesses deserve no Thanks; tho’ I have some Title to your Pardon, because it was Your own Worth that layd this Force upon me. I had, I say, just reason to apprehend Your Lordship would have made this Book your own when you had once got it into your hands, seeing how sedulously You made a strict Search for every Trifle I had written; and never desisted till you had found them all, and Purchast them at a dear rate: To do which, nothing but the Love of Truth could move You; since there was neither in them any Affectation of Rhetorick, nor Melodious Gingle of Words, nor the Diverting Conceits of Romances; with which those Gentlemen, who dwell in the Middle-story,do so contentedly entertain and please their Fancies. And, if Your Lordship was so intently inquisitive after those Pieces of mine which were less Valuable, I had all the reason in the World to think You would not let my Metaphysicks scape your Perusal: Which, if I may be allow’d to be a Competent Judge of my own Productions, is worth them all. But, I do not altogether blame Your Lordship for your Over-value of my poor Labours, because You have it partly Ex Traduce. ‘Tis Hereditary to Your Lordship to have too good an Opinion of my Writings. Your Lordship’s Noble Father, who is justly accounted the most Universal Scholler of your Nation, did formerly, tho’ perfectly unknown to me, give so High and Undeserved a Character of them, as would make a Man, tho’ but indifferently Modest, Blush; and tempt me to admit some thoughts of vain Self complaisance, had I not been provided before hand with an Antidote; which is, a most clear Demonstration, in the Cloze of my Metaphysicks, that all the Good we have, even to the least tittle, does entirely spring from the Inexhausted Bounty of the World’s Great Governour, who works every thing in us, and by us: And, why may not this be a second Excuse to the World for making your Lordship this Present, upon the Score of Gratitude;since the Greatest Honour I can by this Address confer on your Lordship, is but a poor Requital of what your Lordships Noble Father was pleas’d to bestow on me.
I shall add one word more, which, tho’ it may be some Comfort, and an especial Honour to Your Lordship, yet it is a very great Trouble to me: Which is, that those High and most Due Encomiums I give Your Lordship as a Zealous & Unprecedented Lover of Truth, (tho this be, in reality, one of the Highest Commendations Rational Nature is Capable of) will not yet draw upon you the least Envy from any. No, my Lord, never fear it; let your Pretensions to that Title be never so High, You will have but Few Rivals and Competitours. This Darling of Heaven [TRUTH] tho’ the most Generous & Universal Benefactress to Mankind, is in such Disrepute with the Generality of our Great Ones, except some Few (whom I do as highly Honour for their True Worth and Rarity, as I contomn the rest) that they fancy they should stoop themselves below their Dignity if they make Her the least part of their Concern And Knowledge, tho’ imploy’d in Defence of the most Fundamental Article of Christianity, is so Unpalatable to their Depraved Tast, that it becomes Nauseous. To talk to such Men of Establishing any Truth, or Explicating Faith, by Rational Principles, sounds to them like Gibberish. They look upon Manly Reason as a kind of Madness, as least as Foppish; and so strangely are their Brains turn’d, that they judge those Discourses which are Solid and go to the bottom, to be Aiery & Superficial. Not considering how this slight Opinion they have taken of TRUTH, leaves them wholly to the Conduct of Fancy, makes their Life Uneven, and their Devotion Bigottish and Fanatical.
I am confident that Your Lordship’s Discerning Judgment will observe that this Book I send You, contains in it a Cure for all those Distempers, if the Stomachs of the Patients do not turn at the Medecine. You will find here multitudes both of Clear and Well-built Truths; &, that they are the Genuin Off-spring of Evident Principles: Nor only this; but You will discover, in my Second Book, the ly True and Firm Grounds of Solid Piety and Devotion. That they may beget and improve in Your Lordship’s Noble Soul those Dispositionsthat will carry You steadily to Eternal Happiness, shall be the Fervent and Daily Wish of
Your Lordship’s Most Affectionate Friend, and most Humble and most Faithfull Servant, J. S.
Edited by Jonathan Vajda, 2020 (c)