Vice in its proper shape, p.1
Vice in its Proper Shape, page 1
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VICEIN ITSPROPER SHAPE;OR, THEWonderful and MelancholyTRANSFORMATIONOF SEVERALNAUGHTY MASTERS AND MISSESINTO THOSEContemptible ANIMALS which they mostresemble in Disposition.
Printed for the Benefit of all GOOD BOYSand GIRLS.
THE FIRST _WORCESTER_ EDITION.
PRINTED at WORCESTER, _Massachusetts_,BY ISAIAH THOMAS,Sold at his BOOKSTORE, and by THOMASand ANDREWS in BOSTON.
It was the opinion of the wise _Pythagoras_, and of some otherphilosophers, that the souls of men, women, and children, after theirdeath, are sent into other human bodies, and sometimes into those ofbeasts and birds, or even insects; and that they hereby change theirresidence either to their advantage or disadvantage, according to theirgood or ill behaviour in their preceding state of existence. Thissingular opinion still prevails in some part of the Eastindies; andthat to such a degree that they make it criminal to put any animal todeath: "For how do you know, say they, but in killing a sheep, a bird,or a fish, you murder your father, or your brother, or some otherdeceased friend or relation, whose soul may inhabit the body of theanimal you so wantonly destroy?" An officer in the service of theEastindia Company, and a particular friend of mine, had like to havelost his life by not paying a proper deference to this whimsicalnotion; for being some time in that part of the country, and happeningto shoot a heron, he was immediately arrested and prosecuted for it byone of the natives. The man insisted that the heron was inhabited bythe soul of his father; and supported his point so much to thesatisfaction of the court, that had it not been for the friendlyassistance of a Jew, who appeared as the captain's advocate, he wouldcertainly have been condemned. The Jew, allowed that what the plaintiffhad asserted was strictly true, but pleaded in behalf of his client,that the soul of his, the said client's grandmother, resided in thebody of a fish, which the said client had often seen and knew perfectlywell; and that at the time when the heron was killed, the said heronwas going to dart upon the said fish to devour it; so that the saidclient being strongly moved thereunto by his natural affection,instantly shot the said heron purely to save the life of hisgrandmother. This plea was admitted, and the captain was immediatelydischarged by order of the court. It is well for the reader that thecaptain escaped as he did: for if he had been hanged for murdering theheron, it is more than probable that it would have been out of hispower to have returned to England with that curious little treatisewhich I have now taken the pains to translate into English for theamusement of the little masters and misses of Great Britain.
It contains a diverting account of several naughty boys and girls, who,after their death (which was generally owing to their own folly) weredegraded into such animals as they most resembled when alive. I cannotpretend to say who was the author; for his modesty was so great, thathe has not inserted his name in the title page.
The captain tells me, it is the opinion of some of the Indian criticks,that he was an academy-keeper, who wrote for the instruction of hisscholars; and of others, that he was a fond father who wrote for theentertainment of his children; but as it is very possible that both ofthem may be mistaken, I shall not presume to decide which of them havebeen so fortunate as to discover the truth in a matter of such evidentimportance.
I have only to observe, that as long proper names (such as those of theIndians) would have been too crabbed for most of my little readers, Ihave put myself to the amazing trouble of substituting English names intheir room, which are expressive of the characters of the persons towhom they are applied. After humbly begging the author's pardon, fortaking this liberty with his ingenious performance, I must desire allthe masters and misses who read my translation of it, to be extremelycareful to avoid all the crimes and follies which it was intended tocorrect; otherwise, if my friend the captain (who will probably hear oftheir ill behaviour) should happen to speak of it, when he makesanother voyage to India, and it should by any means reach the ear of myauthor, we may perhaps have a second volume, containing a mortifyingaccount of the surprising and lamentable transmigrations of some of thenaughty boys and girls in England.
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