Mandeville, Bernard De

, an author of temporary celebrity in the last century for his writings, was born about 1670, in Holland, where he studied physic, and took the degree of doctor in that faculty. He afterwards came over into England, and wrote several books, not | without ingenuity, but some of them were justly considered as likely to produce a bad effect upon society. In 1709 he published his “Virgin Unmasked, or A dialogue between an old maiden aunt and her niece, upon love, marriage,” &c. a piece not very likely to increase virtue and innocence among his female readers. In 1711 came out his “Treatise of the hypocondriac and hysteric passions, vulgarly called the hyppo in men, and the vapours in women.” This work, which is divided into three dialogues, may be read with amusement at least, and contains some shrewd remarks on the art of physic and the modern practice of physicians and apothecaries, among whom he probably did not enjoy much reputation. In 1714 he published a poem entitled “The grumbling hive, or knaves turned honest;” on which he afterwards wrote remarks, and enlarged the whole into his celebrated publication, which was printed at London in 1723, under the title of “The Fable of the Bees, or private vices made public benefits with an Essay on charity and charity-schools, and a search into the nature of society.” In the preface to this book he observes, that since the first publication of his poem he had met with several, who, either wilfully or ignorantly mistaking the design, affirmed that the scope of it was a satire upon virtue and morality, and the whole written for the encouragement of vice. This made him resolve, whenever it should be reprinted, some way or other to inform the reader of the real intent with which that little poem was written. In this, however, he was so unfortunate, that the book was presented by the grand jury of Middlesex in July the same year, and severely animadverted upon in “A Letter to the Right Honourable Lord C.” printed in the London Journal of July the 27tb, 1723. The author wrote a vindication of his book from the imputations cast upon it in that Letter, and in the presentment of the grand jury, which he published in the “London Journal” of August the 10th, 1723. It was attacked, however, by various writers, to whom Mandeville made no reply until 1728, when he published, in another 8vo volume, a second part of “The Fable of the Bees,” in order to illustrate the scheme and design of the first. In 1720, he published “Free thoughts on Religion,” builfc upon the system called rational; an arrogant epithet, which generally excludes from the province of reason a belief in the truths of revelation. In 1732 he published “An | inquiry into the origin of honour, and usefulness of Christianity in war;” a work which abounds in paradoxical opinions.

Mandeville died Jan. 21, 1733, in his sixty-third year. He is said to have been patronized by the first earl of Macclesfield, at whose table he was a frequent guest, and had an unlimited licence to indulge his wit as well as his appetite. He lived in obscure lodgings, in London, and never had much practice as a physician. Besides the writings already enumerated, which came spontaneously from his pen, we are told by sir John Hawkins that he sometimes employed his talents for hire, and in particular wrote letters in the “London Journal” in favour of spirituous liquors, for which he was paid by the distillers. Sir John adds, that “he was said to be coarse and overbearing in his manners, where he durst be so, yet a great flatterer of some vulgar Dutch merchants, who allowed him a pension.”' The principles indeed, inculcated in some of his works, although there are many ingenious and many just remarks in them, forbid us to entertain any very high opinion of his morals; and among all his faults, we do not hear that he ever acted the hypocrite, or was ashamed of what he had written.

The “Fable of the Bees,” as we have observed, was attacked by several writers; particularly by Dr. Fiddes, in the preface to his “General treatise of morality formed upon the principles of natural religion only,” printed in 1724; by Mr. John Dennis, in a piece entitled “Vice and luxury public mischiefs,” in 1724; by Mr. William Law, in a book entitled “Remarks upon the Fable of the Bees,” in 1724; by Mr. Bluet, in his “Enquiry, whether the general practice of virtue tends to the wealth or poverty, benefit or disadvantage, of a people? In which the pleas offered by the author of The Fable of the Bees, for the usefulness of vice and roguery, are considered; with some thoughts concerning a toleration of public stews,” in 1725; by Mr. Hutcheson, author of the “Inquiry into the original of our ideas of beauty and virtue, in several papers published at Dublin, and reprinted in the first volume of Hibernicus’s Letters;” and lastly, by Mr. Archibald Campbell, in his “Astoria,” first published by Alexander Innis, D. D. in his own name, but claimed afterwards by the true author. Mandeville’s notions were likewise animadverted upon by Berkeley, bishop of Cloyne in | Ireland, in his “Alciphron, or the Minute Philosopher,” printed in 1732; in answer to which Mandeville published, the same year, “A Letter to Dion, occasioned by his book called Alciphron.” In this year also a pamphlet appeared, entitled “Some remarks on the Minute Philosopher, in a letter from a country clergyman to his friend in London;” the anonymous author of which, supposed to have been John lord Harvey, interferes in the controversy between Mandeville and Berkeley with an apparent impartiality. It would be very unnecessary now, however, to enter minutely into the merits of a work no longer read. The prevailing error in the “Fable of the Bees” appears to us to be, that the author did not sufficiently distinguish between what existed, and what ought to be; that while he could uicontestibly prove “private vices” to be in some degree “public benefits,” that is, useful to the grandeur and financial prosperity of a state, he did not distinguish between vices properly so called, and superfluities, or articles of luxury, which are the accompaniments, and the usetul accompaniments too, of certain ranks of life. As to his tracing good actions to bad motives, and the general disposition he has to dwell on the unfavourable side of appearances in human nature and conduct, no apology can be offered, and none can be wanted for the contempt into which his writings have fallen. 1

1 Gen. Dict.-~L.ife by Dr. Birth Biog. Brit. Supplement, vol. VII. Hawkius’s Life of Johnson. Lounger’s Common-place Book, vol.11.