« AnteriorContinuar »
way of jesting, which would make no great figure were he not a rich man) he calls the sea the British Common. He is acquainted with commerce in all its parts, and will tell you that it is a stupid and barbarous way to extend 5 dominion by arms, for true power is to be got by arts and industry. He will often argue, that if this part of our trade were well cultivated, we should gain from one nation, and if another, from another. I have heard him
prove, that diligence makes more lasting acquisitions 10 than valour, and that sloth has ruined more nations
than the sword. He abounds in several frugal maxims, amongst which the greatest favourite is, 'A penny saved is a penny got. A general trader of good sense
is pleasanter company than a general scholar; and Sir 15 Andrew having a natural unaffected eloquence, the per
spicuity of his discourse gives the same pleasure that wit would in another man. He has made his fortunes himself; and says that England may be richer than
other kingdoms, by as plain methods as he himself is 20 richer than other men ; though at the same time I can
say this of him, that there is not a point in the compass but blows home a ship in which he is an owner.
Next to Sir Andrew in the club-room sits Captain Sentry, a gentleman of great courage, good understand25 ing, but invincible modesty. He is one of those that
deserve very well, but are very awkward at putting theii talents within the observation of such as should take notice of them. He was some years a captain, and be
haved himself with great gallantry in several engage30 ments and at several sieges; but having a small estate
of his own, and being next heir to Sir Roger, he has quitted a way of life, in which no man can rise suitably to his merit, who is not something of a courtier as well as a soldier. I have heard him often lament, that in a profession where merit is placed in so conspicuous a view, impudence should get the better of modesty. 5 When he has talked to this purpose, I never heard him make a sour expression, but frankly confess that he left the world, because he was not fit for it. A strict honesty and an even regular behaviour are in themselves obstacles to him that must press through crowds who endeavour 10 at the same end with himself, the favour of a commander. He will, however, in his way of talk, excuse generals for not disposing according to men's desert, or inquiring into it: for, says he, that great man who has a mind to help me, has as many to break through to come at me, 15 as I have to come at him : therefore, he will conclude, that the man who would make a figure, especially in a military way, must get over all false modesty, and assist his patron against the importunity of other pretenders, by a proper assurance in his own vindication. He says, 20 it is a civil cowardice to be backward in asserting what you ought to expect, as it is a military fear to be slow in attacking when it is your duty. With this candor does the gentleman speak of himself and others. The same frankness runs through all his conversation. The mili- 25 tary part of his life has furnished him with many adventures, in the relation of which he is very agreeable to the company; for he is never over-bearing, though accustomed to command men in the utmost degree below him ; nor ever too obsequious, from an habit of obeying 30 men highly above him.
But, that our society may not appear a set of humourists, unacquainted with the gallantries and pleasures of the age, we have among us the gallant Will Honeycomb, a gentleman who, according to his years, should be in the decline of his life, but, having ever been very careful of his person, and always had a very easy fortune, time has made but a very little impression, either by wrinkles on his forehead, or traces on his brain. His
person is well turned, of a good height. He is very to ready at that sort of discourse with which men usually
entertain women. He has all his life dressed very well, and remembers habits as others do men. He can smile when one speaks to him, and laughs easily. He knows
the history of every mode, and can inform you from 15 what Frenchwoman our wives and daughters had this
manner of curling their hair, that way of placing their hoods; and whose vanity to shew her foot made that part of the dress so short in such a year. In a word, all
his conversation and knowledge have been in the female 20 world ; as other men of his age will take notice to you
what such a minister said upon such and such an occasion, he will tell you, when the Duke of Monmouth danced at court, such a woman was then smitten, an
other was taken with him at the head of his troop in the 25 Park. For all these important relations, he has ever
about the same time received a kind glance or a blow of a fan from some celebrated beauty, mother of the present Lord such-a-one.
This way of talking of his very much enlivens the con30 versation, among us of a more sedate turn; and I find
there is not one of the company, but myself, who rarely speak at all, but speaks of him as of that sort of man who is usually called a well-bred fine gentleman. To conclude his character, where women are not concerned, he is an honest worthy man.
I cannot tell whether I am to account him whom I 5 am next to speak of, as one of our company; for he visits us but seldom, but when he does, it adds to every man else a new enjoyment of himself. He is a clergyman, a very philosophic man, of general learning, great sanctity of life, and the most exact good breeding. He to has the misfortune to be of a very weak constitution; and consequently cannot accept of such cares and business as preferments in his function would oblige him to; he is therefore among divines what a chamber-councillor is among lawyers. The probity of his mind, and the 15 integrity of his life, create him followers, as being eloquent or loud advances others. He seldom introduces the subject he speaks upon; but we are so far gone in years that he observes, when he is among us, an earnestness to have him fall on some divine topic, which he 20 always treats with much authority, as one who has no interest in this world, as one who is hastening to the object of all his wishes, and conceives hope from his decays and infirmities. These are my ordinary companions.
SIR ROGER ON MEN OF FINE PARTS. [STEELE.]
No. 6. – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17, 1710-11.
CREDEBANT hoc grande nefas, et morte piandum,
I KNOW no evil under the sun so great as the abuse of the understanding, and yet there is no one vice more
It has diffused itself through both sexes, and all qualities of mankind; and there is hardly that per5 son to be found, who is not more concerned for the reputation of wit and sense, than honesty and virtue. But this unhappy affectation of being wise rather than honest, witty than good-natured, is the source of most of the ill
habits of life. Such false impressions are owing to the Io abandoned writings of men of wit, and the awkward imitation of the rest of mankind.
For this reason, Sir Roger was saying last night, that he was of opinion that none but men of fine parts de
serve to be hanged. The reflections of such men are so 15
all occurrences which they are concerned in, that they should be exposed to more than ordinary infamy and punishment, for offending against such quick admonitions as their own souls give them, and blunting the fine edge of their minds in such a manner, that they