Page images
PDF

certainly have determined her life, but that the greatness of her distress has been her relief, by a present deprivation of her senses. This absence of reason is her best defence against age, sorrow, poverty, and sickness. I dwell upon this account so distinctly, in obedience to a certain great spirit, who hides her name, and has by letter applied to me to recommend to her some object of compassion, from whom she may be concealed. This, I think, is a proper occasion for exerting such heroic generosity; and as there is an ingenuous shame in those who have known better fortune, to be reduced to receive obligations, as well as a becoming pain in the truly generous to receive thanks; in this case both those delicacies are preserved; for the person obliged is as incapable of knowing her benefactress, as her benefactress is unwilling to be known by her.

Ald WErtis EMENT.

Whereas it hath been signified to the Censor, that under the pretence that he has encouraged the Moring Picture, and particularly admired the Walking Statue, some persons within the liberties of Westminster have vended walking Pictures, insomuch that the said pictures have, within few days after sales by auction, returned to the habitations of their first proprietors; that matter has been narrowly looked into, and orders are given to Pacolet, to take notice of all who are concerned in such frauds, with directions to draw their pictures, that they may be hanged in effigy, in terrorem to all auctions for the fu. ture.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

NEveR was man so much teazed, or suffered half so much uneasiness, as I have done this evening between a couple of fellows, with whom I was unfortunately engaged to sup, where there were also several others in company. One of them is the most invincibly impudent, and the other as incorrigibly absurd. Upon hearing my name, the man of audacity, as he calls himself, began to assume an awkward way of reserve by way of ridicule upon me as a Censor, and said, * he must have a care of his behaviour, for there would notes be writ upon all that should pass.’ The man of freedom and ease, for such the other thinks himself, asked me, “whether my sister Jenny was breeding or not?" After they had done with me, they were impertinent to a very smart but well-bred man; who stood his ground very well, and let the company see they ought, but could not, be out of countenance. I look upon such a defence as a real good action; for for while he received their fire, there was a modest and worthy young gentleman sat secure by him, and a lady of the family at the same time guarded against the nauseous familiarity of the one, and the more painful mirth of the other. This conversation, where there were a thousand things said not worth repeating, made one consider with myself, how it is that men of these disagreeable characters often go great

lengths in the world, and seldom sail of outstripping men of merit; nay, succeed so well, that, with a load of imperfections on their heads, they go on in opposition to general disesteem; while they who are every way their superiors, languish away their days, though possessed of the approbation and good will of all who know them. If we would examine into the secret springs of action in the impudent and the absurd, we shall find, though they bear a great resemblance in their behaviour, that they move upon very different principles. The impudent are pressing, though they know they are disagreeable; the absurd are importunate, because they think they are acceptable. Impudence is a vice and absurdity a folly. Sir Francis Bacon talks very agreeably upon the subject of Impudence. He takes notice, that the orator being asked, what was the first, second, and third requisite to make a fine speaker 7 still answered, action. This, said he, is the very outward form of speaking; and yet it is what with the generalit has more force than the most consummate abilities. - Impudence is to the rest of mankind of the same use which action is to orators. The truth is, the gross of men are governed more by appearances than realities; and the impudent man in his air and behaviour undertakes for himself that he has ability and merit, while the modest or diffident gives himself up as one who is possessed of neither. For this reason, men of front carry things before then with little opposition; and make so skilful a use of their talent, that they can grow out of humour like men of consequence, and be sour, and make their dissatisfaction do them the same service as desert. This way of thinking has often furnished me with an apology for great men who conser favours on the impudent. In carrying on the government of mankind, they are not to consider what men they themselves approve in their closets and private conversations; but what men will extend themselves furthest, and more generally pass upon the world for such as their patrons want in such and such stations, and consequently take so much work off the hands of those who employ them. - Far be it, that I should attempt to lessen the acceptance which men of this character meet with in the world ; but I humbly propose only, that they who have merit of a different kind would accomplish themselves in some degree with this quality of which I am now treating. Nay, I allow these gentlemen to press as forward as they please in the advancements of their interests and fortunes, but not to intrude

upon others in conversation also. Let them do

what they can with the rich and the great, as far as they are suffered; but let them not interrupt the easy and agreeable. They may be useful as servants in ambition, but never as associates in pleasure. However, as I would still drive at something instructive in every lucubration, I must recommend it to all men who feel in themselves an impulse towards attempting laudable actions, to acquire such a degree of assurance, as never to lose the possession of themselves in public or private, so far as to be incapable of acting with a due decorum on any

[blocks in formation]

- beauty of action, cadence of voice, and force of

argument imaginable, in defence of the love of glory. We were all enamoured with the grace of the youth, as he came down from the desk where he spoke, to present a copy of his speech to the head of the society. The principal received it in a very obliging manner, and bid him go to the market-place and fetch a joint of meat, for he should dine with him. He bowed, and in a trice the orator returned, full of the sense of glory in this obedience, and with the best shoulder of mutton in the market. This treatment capacitates them for every scene of life. I therefore recommend it to the consideration of all who have the instruction of youth, which of the two is the more inexcusable, he who does every thing by the mere force of his impudence, or he who performs nothing through the oppression of his modesty In a word, it is a weakness not to be able to attempt what a man thinks he ought, and there is no modesty, but in self-denial.

P. S. Upon my coming home, I received the following petition and letter.

“The humble petition of Sarah Lately, showeth,

‘That your petitioner has been one of those ladies who has had fine things constantly spoken to her in general terms, and lived, during her most blooming years, in daily expectation of

declarations of marriage, but never had one

made to her.

‘That she is now in her grand climacteric; which being above the space of four virginities, accounting at fifteen years each;

‘Your petitioner most humbly prays, that in the lottery for the Bass-viol she may have four tickets, in consideration that her single life has been occasioned by the inconstancy of her lovers, and not through the cruelty or forwardness of your petitioner. “And your petitioner shall, &c.” *

May 3,1710.

“Mr. Bickerstaff, According to my fancy, you took a much better way to dispose of a Bass-viol in yesterday's paper, than you did in your Table of Marriage. I desire the benefit of a lottery for myself too—The manner of it I leave to your own discretion: only if you can allow the tickets at above five farthings a piece. Pray accept of one ticket for your trouble ;

[blocks in formation]

THE summer season now approaching, several of our family have invited me to pass away a month or two in the country; and indeed nothing could be more agreeable to me than such a recess, did I not consider that I am by two quarts a worse companion than when I was last among my relations; and I am admonished by some of our club, who lately visited Staffordshire, that they drink at a greater rate than they did at that time. As every soil does not produce cvery fruit or tree, so every vice is not the growth of every kind of life; and I have, ever since I could think, been astonished, that drinking should be the vice of the country. If it were possible to add to all our senses, as we do to that of sight by perspectives, we should, methinks, more particularly labour to improve them in the midst of the variety of beauteous objects, which nature has produced to entertain us in the country; and do we in that place destroy the use of what organs we have 7 As for my part, I cannot but lament the destruction that has been made of the wild beasts of the field, when I see large tracks of earth possessed by men who take no advantage of their being rational, but lead mere animal lives; making it their whole endeavour to kill in themselves all they have above beasts, to wit, the use of reason, and taste of society. It is frequently boasted in the writings of orators and poets, that it is to eloquence and poesy we owe that we are drawn out of woods and solitudes into towns and cities, and from a wild and savage being, become acquainted with the laws of humanity and civility. If we are obliged to these arts for so great service, I could wish they were employed to give us a second turn; that as they have brought us to dwell in society, a blessing which no other creatures know, so they would persuade us, now they have settled us, to lay out all our thoughts in surpassing each other in those faculties in which only we excel other coautout it is at present so far otherwise, that the contention seems to be, who shall be most eminent in performances wherein beasts enjoy greater abilities than we have. I will undertake, were the butler and swineherd, at any true esquire's in Great Britain, to keep and compare accounts of what wash is drunk up in so many hours in the parlour and the pig-stye, it would appear, the gentleman of the house gives much more to his friends than his hogs. This, with many other evils, arises from an error in men's judgments, and not making true distinctions between persons and things. It is usually thought, that a few sheets of parchment, made before a male and a female of wealthy houses come together, give the heirs and descendants of that marriage, possession of lands and tenements; but the truth is, there is no man who can be said to be proprietor of an estate, but he who knows how to enjoy it. Nay, it shall never be allowed, that the land is not a waste, when the master is uncultivated. Therefore, to avoid confusion, it is to be noted, that a peasant with a great estate is but an incumbent, and that he must be a gentleman to be a land. lord. A landlord enjoys what he has with his heart, an incumbent with his stomach. Gluttony, drunkenness, and riot, are the entertainments of an incumbent; benevolence, civility, social and human virtues, the accomplishments of a landlord. Who, that has any passion for his native country, does not think it worse than conquered, when so large dimensions of it are in the hands of savages, that know no use of property, but to be tyrants; or liberty, but to be unmannerly? A gentleman in a countrylife enjoys paradise with a temper fit for it; a clown is cursed in it with all the cutting and unruly passions man could be tormented with when he was expelled from it. There is no character more deservedly esteemed than that of a country gentleman, who understands the station in which heaven and nature have placed him. He is father to his tenants, and patron to his neighbours, and is more superior to those of lower fortune by his benevolence than his possessions. He justly divides his time between solitude and company, so as to use the one for the other. His life is spent in the good offices of an advocate, a referee, a companion, a mediator, and a friend. His counsel and knowledge are a guard to the simplicity and innocence of those of lower talents, and the entertainment and happiness of those of equal. When a man in a country-life has this turn, as it is hoped thousands have, he lives in a more happy condition than any that is described in the pastoral descriptions of poets, or the vain. glorious solitudes recorded by philosophers. To a thinking man it would seem prodigious, that the very situation in a country life does not incline men to a scorn of the mean gratifications some take in it. To stand by a stream, naturally lulls the mind into composure and reverence ; to walk in shades, diversifies that pleasure; and a bright sunshine makes a man consider all nature in gladness, and himself the happiest being in it, as the most conscious of her gifts and enjoyments. It would or the most impertinent piece of pedantry ima

ginable to form our pleasures by imitation of others. I will not therefore mention Scipio and Lelius, who are generally produced on this subject as authorities for the charms of a rural life. He that does not feel the force of agreeable views and situations in his own mind, will hardly arrive at the satisfactions they bring from the reflections of others. However, they who have a taste that way, are more particularly inflamed with desire, when they see others in the enjoyment of it, especially when men carry into the country a knowledge of the world as well as of nature. The leisure of such persons is endeared and refined by reflection upon cares and inquietudes. The absence of past labours doubles present pleasures, which is still augmented, if the person in solitude has the happiness of being addicted to letters. My cousin Frank Bickerstaff gives me a very good notion of this sort of felicity in the following letter:

‘SIR,--I write this to communicate to you the happiness I have in the neighbourhood and conversation of the noble lord, whose health you inquired after in your last. I have bought that little hovel which borders upon his royalty; but am so far from being oppressed by his greatness, that I, who know no envy, and he, who is above pride, mutually recommend ourselves to cach other by the difference of our fortunes. He esteems me for being so well pleased with a little, and I admire him for enjoying so handsomely a great deal. He has not the little taste of observing the colour of a tulip, or the edging of a leaf of box; but rejoices in open views, the regularity of this plantation, and the wildness of another, as well as the fall of a river, the rising of a promontory, and all other objects fit to entertain a mind like his, that has been long versed in great and public amusements. The make of the soul is as much seen in leisure as in business. He has long lived in courts, and been admired in assemblies; so that he has added to experience a most charming eloquence, by which he communicates to me the ideas of my own mind upon the objects we meet with so agreeably, that with his company in the fields, I at once enjoy the country, and a landscape of it. He is now altering the course of canals and rivulets, in which he has an eye to his neighbour's satisfaction, as well as his own. He often makes me presents by turning the water into my grounds, and sends me fish by their own streams. To avoid my thanks, he makes nature the instrument of his bounty, and does all good offices so much with the air of a companion, that his frankness hides his own condescension, as well as my gratitude. Leave the world to itself, and come see us.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

And constant plays her haughty game;
Proud of her office to destroy;
To-day to me her bounty flows,
And now to others she tue bliss bestows.
Francis.

From my own Apartment, May 10.

HAving this morning spent some time in reading on the subject of the vicissitudes of human life, I laid aside my book, and began to ruminate on the discourse which raised in me those reflections. I believed it a very good office to the world, to sit down and show others the road, in which I am experienced by my wanderings and errors. This is Seneca's way of thinking, and he had half convinced me, how dangerous it is to our true happiness and tranquillity, to fix our minds upon any thing which is in the power of fortune. It is excusable only in animals who have not the use of reason, to be catched by hooks and baits. Wealth, glory, and power, which the ordinary people look up at with admiration, the learned and wise know to be only so many snares laid to enslave them. There is nothing farther to be sought for with earnestness, than what will clothe and feed us. If we pamper ourselves in our diet, or give our imaginations a loose in our desires, the body will no longer obey the mind. Let us think no further than to defend ourselves against hunger, thirst, and cold. We are to remember that every thing else is despicable, and not worth our care. To want little is true grandeur, and very few things are great, to a great mind. Those who form their thoughts in this manner, and abstract themselves from the

[blocks in formation]

above an anchorite, as a wise matron who passes through the world with innocence, is preferable to the nun who locks herself up from it. . Full of these thoughts, I left my lodging, and took a walk to the court end of the town; and the hurry and busy faces I met with about Whitehall, made me form to myself ideas of the different prospects of all I saw, from the turn and cast of their countenances. All, methought, had the same thing in view ; but prosecuted their hopes with a different air. Some showed an unbecoming eagerness, some a surly impatience, some a winning deference; but the generality a servile complaisance. I could not but observe, as I roved about the offices, that all who were still but in expectation, murmured at Fortune; and all who had obtained their wishes, immediately began to say, there was no such being. Each believed it an act of blind chance that any other man was preferred, but owed only to service and merit what he had obtained himself. It is the fault of studious men to appear in public with too contemplative a carriage: and I began to observe, that my figure, age, and dress, made me particular; for which reason, I thought it better to remove a studious countenance from among busy ones, and take a turn with a friend in the Privygarden. - When my friend was alone with me there, ‘Isaac,' said he, ‘I know you come abroad only to moralize and make observations: and I will carry you hard by, where you shall see all that you have yourself considered or read in authors, or collected from experience, concerning blind Fortune and irresistible Destiny, illustrated in

frowns. At the same time, they who separate real persons, and proper mechanisms. The themselves from the immediate commerce with graces, the muses, the fates, all the beings

the busy part of mankind, are still beneficial to them, while, by their studies and writings, they recommend to them the small value which ought to be put upon what they pursue with so much labour and disquiet. Whilst such men are thought the most idle, they are the most usefully employed. They have all things, both human and divine, under consideration. To be perfectly free from the insults of fortune, we should arm ourselves with their reflections. We should learn, that none but intellectual possessions are what we can properly call our own. All things from without are but borrowed. What fortune gives us, is not ours; and what. ever she gives, she can take away. It is a common imputation to Seneca, that though he declaimed with so much strength of reason, and a stoical contempt of riches and power, he was at the saine time one of the richest and most powerful men in Rome. I know no instance of his being insolent in that fortune, and can therefore read his thoughts on those subjects with the more deference. I will not give philosophy so poor a look as to say it cannot live in courts; but I am of opinion, that it is there in the greatest eminence, when, amidst the affluence of all the world can bestow, and the addresses of a crowd who follow him for that reason, a man can think both of himself and those about him, abstracted from these circumstances. Such a philosopher is as much

which have a good or ill influence upon human life, are, you will say, very justly figured in the persons of women; and where I am carrying you, you will see enough of that sex together, in an employment which will have so important an effect upon those who are to receive their manufacture, as will make them be respectively called deities or furies, as their labour shall prove disadvantageous or successful to their votaries.” Without waiting for my answer, he carried me to an apartment contiguous to the Banqueting-house, where there were placed at two long tables a large company of young women, in decent and agreeable habits, making up tickets for the lottery appointed by the government. There walked between the tables a person who presided over the work. This gentlewoman seemed an emblem of fortune; she commanded, as if unconcerned in their business; and though every thing was performed by her direction, she did not visibly interpose in particulars. She seemed in pain at our near approach to her, and most to approve us when we made her no advances. Her height, her mien, her gesture, her shape, and her countenance, had something that spoke familiarity and dignity. She therefore appeared to be not only a picture of fortune, but of fortune as I liked her; which made me break out in the following words:

[blocks in formation]

Whereas Philander signified to Clarinda, by letter bearing date Thursday twelve o'clock, that he had lost his heart by a shot from her eyes, and desired she would condescend to meet him the same day at eight in the evening at Rosamond's-pond; faithfully protesting, that in case she would not do him that honour, she might see the body of the said Philander the next day floating on the said lake of love, and that he desired only three sighs upon view of his said body: It is desired, if he has not made away with himself accordingly, that he would forthwith show himself to the coroner of the city of Westminster; or Clarinda, being an old offender, will be found guilty of wilful murder.

[blocks in formation]

be called Hector or Alexander 7 Every thing must bear a proportion with the outward value that is set upon it; or, instead of being long had in veneration, that very term of esteem will become a word of reproach. When Timoleon had done speaking, Urbanus pursued the same purpose, by giving an account of the manner in which the Indian kings,” who were lately in Great Britain, did honour to the person where they lodged. “They were placed, said he, ‘in a handsome apartment at an upholster's in King-street, Covent-garden. The man of the house, it seems, had been very observant of them, anā ready in their service. These just and generous princes, who act according to the dictates of natural justice, thought it proper to confer some dignity upon their landlord before they left his house. One of them had been sick during his residence there, and having never before been in a bed, had a very great veneration for him who made that engine of repose, so useful and so necessary in his distress. It was consulted among the four princes, by what name to dignify his great merit and services. The emperor of the Mohocks and the other three kings stood up, and in that posture recounted the civilities they had received; and particularly repeated the care which was taken of their sick brother. This, in their imagination, who are used to know the injuries of weather, and the vicissitudes of cold and heat, gave them very great impressions of a skilful upholsterer, whose furniture was so well contrived for their protection on such occasions. It is with these less instructed, I will not say less knowing people, the manner of doing honour, to impose some name significant of the qualities of the person they distinguish, and the good offices received from him. It was therefore resolved to call their landlord Cadaroque, which is the name of the strongest fort in their part of the world. When they had agreed upon the name, they sent for their landlord; and as he entered into their presence, the emperor of the Mohocks, taking him by the hand, called him Cadaroque. After which the other three princes repeated the same word and ceremony.”

Timoleon appeared much satisfied with this account; and, having a philosophic turn, began to argue against the modes and manners of those nations which we esteem polite, and to express himself with disdain at our usual method of calling such as are strangers to our innovations barbarous. “I have,’ says he, ‘so great a deference for the distinction given by these princes, that Cadaroque shall be my upholsterer —." He was going on; but the intended discourse was interrupted by Minucio, who sat near him, a small philosopher, who is also somewhat of a politician; one of those who sets up for knowledge by doubting, and has no other way of making himself considerable, but by contradicting all he hears said. He has, besides much doubt and spirit of contradiction, a

* About a month before the date of this paper, the four Indian kings here spoken of, came into England with the West-India fleet, in behalf of the six Indian nations, who at that time inhabited the back-country of North-America, between New-England and the French settlements in Canada.

« PreviousContinue »