A Judgement Of Mankind
Reflections On The Past by the Earl Of Clarendon
From 'The Continuation Of The Life Of Edward Earl Of Clarendon' , (1672)

HE [the author] had originally in his nature so great a tenderness and love towards mankind, that he did not only detest all calumniating and detraction towards the lessening the credit or parts or reputation of any man, but did really believe that all men were such as they seemed or appeared to be; that they had the same justice and candour and goodness in their nature, that they professed to have; and thought no men to be wicked and dishonest and corrupt, but those who in their manners and lives gave unquestionable evidence of it; and even amongst those he did think most to err and do amiss, rather out of weakness and ignorance, for want of friends and good counsel, than out of the malice and wickedness of their Natures.

But now, upon the observation and experience he had in the parliament (and he believed he could have made the discovery no where else, without doubt not so soon), he reformed all those mistakes, and mended that easiness of his understanding. He had seen those there, upon whose ingenuity and probity he would willingly have deposited all his concernments of this world, behave themselves with that signal uningenuity and improbity that must pull up all confidence by the roots; men of the most unsuspected integrity, and of the greatest eminence for their piety and devotion, most industrious to impose upon and to cozen men of weaker parts and understanding, upon the credit of their sincerity, to concur with them in mischievous opinions, which they did not comprehend, and which conduced to dishonest actions they did not intend. He saw the most bloody and inhuman rebellion contrived by them who were generally believed to be the most solicitous and zealous for the peace and prosperity of the kingdom, with such art and subtlety, and so great pretences to religion, that it looked like ill-nature to believe that such sanctified persons could entertain any but holy purposes. In a word, religion was made a cloak to cover the most impious designs; and reputation of honesty, a stratagem to deceive and cheat others who had no mind to be wicked. The court was as full of murmuring, ingratitude and treachery, and as willing and ready to rebel against the best and most bountiful master in the world, as the country and the city. A barbarous and bloody fierceness and savageness had extinguished all relations, hardened the hearts and bowels of all men; and an universal malice and animosity had even covered the most innocent and best-natured people and nation upon the earth.

These unavoidable reflections first made him discern, how weak and foolish all his former imaginations had been, and how blind a surveyor he had been of the inclinations and affections of the heart of man; and it made him likewise conclude from thence, how uncomfortable and vain the dependence must be upon any thing in this world, where whatsoever is good and desirable suddenly perisheth, and nothing is lasting but the Folly and Wickedness of the Inhabitants thereof.

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