« AnteriorContinuar »
respondent. It is a melancholy thing to consider, that the most engaging sort of men in conversation are frequently the most tyrannical in power, and the least to be depended upon in friendship. It is certain this is not to be imputed to their own disposition; but he that is to be led by others, has only good luck if he is not the worst, though in himself the best man living. For this reason, we are no more wholly to indulge our good than our ill dispositions. I remember a crafty old cit, one day speaking of a well-natured young fellow who set up with a good stock in Lombard-street “ I will,” says he, “ lay no more money in his hands, " for he never denied me any thing.
This was a very base, but with him prudential reason for breaking off commerce; and this acquaintance of mine carried this way of judging so far, that he has often told me, he never cared to deal with a man he liked, for that our affections must never enter into our busi
When we look round us in this populous city, and consider how credit and esteem are lodged, you find men have a great share of the former, without the least proportion of the latter. He who knows himself for a beast of prey, looks upon others in the same light, and we are so apt to judge of others by ourselves, that the man who has no mercy, is as careful as possible never to want it. Hence it is, that in many instances men gain credit by the very contrary methods by which they do esteem ; for wary traders think every affection of the mind a key to their cash.
But what led me into this discourse, was my impatience of pain ; and I have, to my great disgrace, seen an instance of the contrary carriages in so high a degree, that I am out of countenance that I ever read Seneca. When I look upon the conduct of others in such occurrences, as well as behold their equanimity in the general tenor of their life ; it very much abates
the self-love which is seldom well governed by any sort of men, and least of all by us authors.
The fortitude of a man who brings his will to the obedience of his reason, is conspicuous, and carries with it a dignity in the lowest state imaginable. Poor Martius, who now lies languishing in the most violent fever, discovers in the faintest moments of his distemper such a greatness of niind, that a perfect stranger who should now behold him, would indeed see an object of pity, but at the same time that it was lately an object of veneration. His gallant spirit resigns, but resigns with an air that speaks a resolution which could yield to nothing but fate itself. This is conquest in the philosophic sense ; but the empire over ourselves is, methinks, no less laudable in common life, where the whole tenor of a man's carriage is in subservience to his own reason, and conformity both to the good sense and inclination of other men.
Aristæus is, in my opinion, a perfect master of himself in all circumstances. He has all the spirit that man can have, and yet is as regular in his behaviour as a mere machine. He is sensible of every passion, but ruffled by none. : In conversation, he frequently seems to be less knowing to be more obliging, and chuses to be on a level with others, rather than oppress with the superiority of his genius. In friendship he is kind without profession. In business, expeditious without ostentation. With the greatest softnessand benevolence imaginable, he is impartial in spite of all importunity, even that of his own good-nature. He is ever clear in his judgment; but in complaisance to his company speaks with doubt, and never shews confidence in argument, but to support the sense of another. Were such an equality of mind the general endeavour of all men, how sweet would be the pleasures of conversation? He that is loud would then understand, that we ought to call a constable, and know, that spoiling good company is the most hein
ous way of breaking the peace. We would then be relieved from those zealots in society, who take upon them to be angry for all the company, and quarrel with the waiters to shew they have no respect for any body else in the room. To be in a rage before you, is in a kind being angry with you. You may as well stand naked before company, as to use such fanuiliarities; and to be careless of what you say, is the most clownish way of being undressed.
Sheer-lane, May 24. WHEN I came home this evening, I found the following letters ; and because I think one a very good answer to the other, as well as that it is the affair of a young lady, it must be immediately dismissed.
“ I HAVE a good fortune, partly paternal, and partly acquired. My younger years I spent in busi“ ness; but age coming on, and I having no more « children than one daughter, I resolved to be a slave “ no longer and accordingly I have disposed of my “ effects, placed my money in the funds, bought a « pretty seat in a pleasant country, am making a gar“ den, and have set up a pack of little beagles. I live “ in the midst of a good many well-bred neighbours, " and several well-tempered clergy men. Against a 6 rainy day I have a little library; and against the
gout in my stomach, a little good claret. With all U this I am the miserablest man in the world; not « that I have lost the relish of any of these pleasures, 6 but am distracted with such a multiplicity of enter"taining objects, that I am lost in the variety. I am in "such a hurry of idleness, that I do not know with what « diversion to begin. Therefore, Sir, I must beg the “ favour of you, when your more weighty affairs, will
“ permit, to put me in some method of doing nothing ; “ for I find Pliny makes a great difference betwixt “ nihil agere and agere nihil; and I fancy, if you would " explain him, you would do a very great kindness to “ many in Great-Britain, as well as to
66 Your humble servant,
66 J. B."
“ THE inclosed is written by my father in one “ of his pleasant humours. He bids me seal it up, “ and send you a word or two from myself, which he " will not desire to see till he hears of it from you. “ Desire him before he begins his method of doing “ nothing, to have nothing to do: that is to say, let 66 him marry off his daughter.
6 I am,
66 S. B."
No. CLXXVII. SATURDAY, MAY 27.
.Male si palpere, recalcitrat undique tutus.
Sheer-lane, May 26. THE ingenious Mr. Penkethman, the comedian, has lately left here a paper or ticket, to which is affixed a small silver medal, which is to entitle the bearer to see one and twenty plays at his theatre for a guinea. Greenwich is the place where, it seems, he has erected his house; and his time of action is to be so contrived, that it is to fall in with going and returning with the tide. Besides that, the bearer of this ticket, may carry down with him a particular set of
company to the play, striking off for each person so introduced, one of his twenty one times of admittance, In this warrant of his, he has made me a high compliment in a facetious distich, by way of dedication of his endeavours, and desires I would recommend them to the world. I must needs say, I have not for some time seen a properer choice than he has made of a patron: who more fit to publish his work than a novelist? who to recommend it than a Censor? This honour done me, has made me turn my thoughts upon the nature of dedications in general, and the abuse of that custom, as well by a long practise of my predecessors, as the continued folly of my contemporary authors.
In ancient times, it was the custom to address their works to some eminent for their merit to mankind, or particular patronage of the writers themselves, or knowledge in the matter of which they treated. Under these regards, it was a memorable honour to both parties, and a very agreeable record of the commerce with each other. These applications were never stuffed with impertinent praises, but were the native product of their esteem, which was implicitly received, or generally known to be due to the patron of the work: but vain flourishes came into the world, with other barbarous embellishments; and the enumeration of titles, and great actions, in the patrons themselves, or their sires, are as foreign to the matter in hand, as the ornaments in a Gothic building. This is clapping together persons which have no manner of alliance, and can for that reason have no other effect than making both parties justly ridiculous. What pretence is there in nature for me to write to a great man, and tell him, my lord, because your grace is a cuke, your grace's father before you was an earl, his lordship's father was a baron, and his lordship’s father both a wise and a rich man: I Isaac Bickerstaff am obliged, and could not possibly forbear address