« AnteriorContinuar »
be of great use to this sort of gentlemen. Could you but once convince them, that to be .# at least is not beneath the character of a gentleman, nor even tender affection towards one who would make it reciprocal, betrays any softness or effeminacy that the most masculine disposition need be ashamed of; could you satisfy them of the generosity of voluntary civility, and the greatness of soul that is conspicuous in benevolence without immediate obligations; could you recommend to people's practice the saying of the gentleman quoted in one of your speculations, “That he thought it incumbent upon him to make the inclinations of a wo— man of merit go along with her duty;” could you, I say, persuade these men of the beauty and reasonableness of this sort of behaviour, I have so much charity, for some of them at least, to believe you would convince them of a thing they are only ashamed to allow. Besides, you would recommend that state in its truest, and con..". its most agreeable colours: and the gentlemen, who have for any time been such professed enemies to it, when occasion should serve, would return you their thanks for assisting their interest in prevailing over their prejudices. Marriage in general would by this means be a more easy and comfortable condition; the husband would be no where so well satisfied as in his own parlour, nor the wife so pleasant as in the company of her husband. A desire of being agreeable in the lover would be increased in the husband, and the mistress be more amiable by becoming the wife. Besides all which, I am apt to believe we should find the race of men grow wiser as their progenitors grew kinder, and the affection of their parents would be conspicuous in the wisdom of their children; in short, men would in general be much better humoured than they are, did they not so frequently exercise the worst turns of their temper where they ought to exert the best.”
“MR. SPECTAtoR,--I am a woman who left the admiration of the whole town to throw myself (or love of wealth) into the arms of a fool. When I married him, I could have had any one of several men of sense who languished for me; but my case is just. I believed my superior understanding would form him into a tractable creature. But, alas! my spouse has cunning and suspicion, the inseparable companions of little minds; and every attempt I make to divert, by putting on an agreeable air, a sudden cheerfulness, or kind behaviour, he looks upon as the first act towards an insurrection against his undeserved dominion over me. Let every one who is still to choose, and hopes to govern a fool, remem
“St. Martin’s, Nov. 25. “Mr. SPECTAtoR,--This is to complain of an evil practice which I think very well deserves a redress, though you have not as
yet taken any notice of it; if you mention it in your paper, it may perhaps have a very good effect. What I mean is, the disturbance some people give to others at church, by their repetition of the prayers after the minister; and that not only in the prayers, but also in the absolution; and the commandments fare no better, which are in a Fol. manner the priest’s office. This have known done in so audible a manner, that sometimes their voices have been as loud as his. As little as you would think it, this is frequently done by people seemingly devout. T. irreligious inadvertency is a thing extremely offensive: But I do not recommend it as a thing I give you liberty to ridicule, but hope it may be amended by the bare mention. Sir, your very humble servant, *T. S.”
No. 237.] Saturday, December 1, 1711.
Visu carentem magna pars verit latet.
They that are dim of sight see truth by halves.
It is very reasonable to believe, that part of the pleasure which happy minds shall § in a future state, will arise from an enlarged contemplation of the Divine Wisdom in the government of the world, and a discovering of the secret and amazing steps of Providence, from the beginning to the end of time. Nothing seems to be an entertainment more adapted to the nature of man, if we consider that curiosity is one of the strongest and most lasting appetitesimplanted in us, and that admiration is one of our most pleasing passions; and what a perpetual succession of enjoyments will be afforded to both these, in a scene so large and various as shall there be laid open to our view in the society of superior spirits, who perhaps will join with us in so delightful a prospect!
It is not impossible, on the contrary, that part of the punishment of such as are excluded from bliss, may consist not only in their being denied this privilege, but in having their appetites at the same time vastly increased without any satisfaction afforded to them. In these, the vain pursuit of knowledge shall, perhaps, add to their infelicity, and bewilder them into labyrinths of error, darkness, distraction, and uncertainty of every thing but their own evil state. Milton has thus represented the fallen angels reasoning together in a kind of respite from their torments, and creating to themselves a new . amidst their very amusements; he could not properly have described the sport of condemned spirits, without that cast of horror and melancholy he has so judiciously mingled with them:
others apart sat on a hill retir’d,
In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate.
Fixt fate, freewill, fbreknowledge absolute, And found no end in wandering mazes lost.* In our present condition, which is a middle state, our minds are as it were checkered with truth and falsehood: and as our faculties are narrow, and our views imperfect, it is impossible but our curiosity must meet with many repulses, The business of mankind in this life being rather to act than to know, their portion of knowledge is dealt to them accordingly. From hence it is, that the reason of the #. has so long been exercised with ifficulties, in accounting for the promiscuous distribution of good and evil to the virtuous and the wicked in this world. From hence come all those pathetic complaints of so many tragical events which happen to the wise and the good; and of such surprising prosperity, which is often the lott of the guilty and the foolish; that reason is sometimes puzzled, and at a loss what to pronounce upon so mysterious a dispenSation. Plato expresses his abhorrence of some fables of the poets, which seem to reflect on the gods as the authors of injustice; and lays it down as a principle, that whatever is permitted to befal a just man, whether poverty, sickness, or any of those things which seem to be evils, shall either in life or death conduce to his good, My reader will observe how agreeable this maxim is to what we find delivered by a greater authority. Seneca has written a discourse purposely on this subject;t in which he takes pains, after the doctrine of the Stoics, to show that adversity is not in itself an evil; and mentions a noble saying of Demetrius, that “nothing would be more unhappy than a man who had never known affliction.” He compares prosperity to the indulgence of a fond mother to a child, which often proves his ruin; but the affection of the Divine Being to that of a wise father, who would have his sons exercised with labour, disappointments, and pain, that they may gather strength and improve their fortitude. On this occasion, the philosopher rises into that celebrated sentiment, “That there is not on earth a spectacle more worthy the regard of a Creator intent on his works than a brave man superior to his sufferings;’ to which he adds, “that it must be a pleasure to Jupiter himself to look down from heaven, and see Cato amidst the ruins of his country preserving his integrity.” This thought will appear yet more reasonable, if we consider human life as a state of probation, and adversity as the post of honour in it, assigned often to the best and most select Spirits. But what I would chiefly insist on here
* Paradise Lost, b. ii. v. 557.
f Spect. in folio; for reward, &c.
t Vid. Senec. De constantia sapientis, sive quod in sapientem non cadit injuria.
is, that we are not at present in a proper situation to judge of the councils by which Providence acts, since but little arrives at our knowledge, and even that little we discern imperfectly; or according to the elegant figure in ho writ, “we see but in part, and as in a glass darkly '' It is to be considered, that Providence in its economy regards the whole system of time and things together, so that we cannot discover the beautiful connection between incidents which lie widely separate in time, and by losing so many links of the chain, cur reasonings become broken and imperfect. Thus those parts of the moral world which have not an absolute, may yet have a relative beauty, in respect of some other parts concealed from us, but open to his eye before whom past,” “present,’ and ‘to come,” are set together in one point of view: and those events, the permission of which seems now to accuse his goodness, may in the consummation of things both magnify his goodness, and exalt his wisdom. And this is enough to check our presumption since it is in vain to apply our measures o regularity to matters of which we know neither the antecedents nor the consequents, the beginning nor the end. I shall relieve my readers from this abstracted thought, by relating here a Jewish tradition concerning Moses, which seems to be a kind of parable, illustrating what I have last mentioned. That great prophet, it is said, was called up by a voice from heaven to the top of a mountain; where in a conference with the Supreme Being, he was admitted to propose to him some questions concerning his administration of the universe. In the midst of this divine colloquy he was commanded to look down on the plain below. At the foot of the mountain there issued out a clear spring of water, at which a soldier alighted from his horse to drink. He was no sooner gone than a little boy came to the same place, and finding a purse of gold which the soldier had dropped, took it up and went away with it. Immediately after this came an infirm old man, weary with age and travelling, and having quenched his thirst, sat down to rest |. the side of the spring. The soldier missing his purse returns to search for it, and demands it of the old man, who affirms he had not seen it, and appeals to heaven in witness of his innocence. The soldier not believing his protestations, kills him. Moses fell on his face with horror and amazement, when the divine voice thus prevented his expostulation: ‘Be not surprised, Moses, nor ask why the Judge of the whole earth has suffered this thing to pass. The child is the occasion that the blood of the old man is spilt; but know that the old man whom thou sawest was the murderer of that child's father.’ C.
§ 1 Cor. xiii. 12.
No. 238.] Monday, December 3, 1711.
Nequicquam populo bibulas donaveris aures; Respue quod nones Persius, Sat. iv. 50.
No more to flattering crowds thine ear incline, Eager to drink the praise which is not thine. Brewster. AMong all the diseases of the mind, there is not one more epidemical or more pernicious than the love of flattery. or as where the juices of the body are prepared to receive a malignant influence, there the disease rages with most violence; so in this distemper of the mind, where there is ever a propensity and inclination to suck in the poison, it cannot be but that the whole order of reasonable action must be overturned, for, like music, it —So softens and disarms the mind, That not one arrow can resistance find. First we flatter ourselves, and then the flattery of others is sure of success. It awakens our self-love within, a party which is ever ready to revolt from our better judgment, and join the enemy without. Hence it is, that the profusion of favours we so often see poured upon the parasite, are represented to us by our self-love, as justice done to the man who so agreeably reconciled us to ourselves. When we are overcome by such soft insinuations and ensnaring compliances, we gladly recompense the artifices that are made use of to blind our reason, and which triumph over the weaknesses of our temper and inclinations. But were every man persuaded from how mean and low a principle this passion is derived, there can be no doubt but the person who should attempt to gratify it, would then be as contemptible as he is now successful. It is the desire of some quality we are not possessed of, or inclination to be something we are not, which are the causes of our giving ourselves up to that man who bestows upon us the characters and qualities of others, which perhaps suit us as ill, and were as little designed for our wearing, as their clothes. Instead of going out of our own complexional nature into that of others, it were a better and more laudable industry to improve our own, and instead of a miserable copy become a good original; for there is no temper, no disposition so rude and untractable, but may in its own peculiar cast and turn be brought to some agreeable use in conversation, or in the affairs of life. A person of a rougher deportment, and less tied up to the usual ceremonies of behaviour, will, like Manly in the play,” please by the grace which nature gives to every action wherein she is complied with; the brisk and lively will not want their admirers, and even a more reserved and melancholy temper may at sometimes be agreeable. When there is not vanity enough awake in a man to undo him, the flatterer stirs up that dormant weakness, and inspires him
with merit enough to be a coxcomb. But if flattery be the most sordid act that can be complied with, the art of praising justly is as commendable; for it is laudable to praise well; as poets at one and the same time give immortality, and receive it themselves for a reward. Both are pleased; the one whilst he receives the recompence of merit, the other whilst he shows he knows how to discern it; but above all, that man is happy in this art, who, like a skilful painter, retains the features and complexion, but still softens the picture into the most agreeable likeness. There can hardly, I believe, be imagined a more desirable pleasure than that of praise unmixed with any possibility of flattery. Such was that which, Germanicus enjoyed, when, the night before a battle, desirous of some sincere mark of the esteem of his legions for him, he is described by Tacitus listening in a disguise to the discourse of a soldier, and wrapt up in the fruition of his glory, whilst with an undesigned sincerity they praised his noble and majestic mien, his affability, his valour, conduct, and success in war. How must a man have his heart full-blown with joy in such an article of glory as this? What a spur and encouragement still to proceed in those steps which had already brought him to so pure a taste of the greatest of mortal enjoyments? It sometimes happens that even enemies and envious persons bestow the sincerest marks of esteem when they least design it. Such afford a greater pleasure, as extorted by merit, and freed from all suspicion of favour or flattery. Thus it is with Malvolio; he has wit, learning, and discernment, but tempered with an allay of envy, self-love, and detraction. Malvolio turns pale at the mirth and good-humour of the company, if it centre not in his person; he grows jealous and displeased when he ceases to be the only person admired, and looks upon the commendations paid to another as a detraction from his merit, and an attempt to lessen the superiority he affects; but by this very method, he bestows such raise as can never be suspected of flattery. is uneasiness and distastes are so many sure and certain signs of another's title to that glory he desires, and has the mortification to find himself not possessed of. A good name is fitly compared to a precious ointment, f and when we are praised with skill and decency, it is indeed the most agreeable perfume; but if too strongly admitted into a brain of a less vigorous and happy texture, it will, like too strong an odour, overcome the senses, and prove pernicious to those nerves it was intended to refresh. A generous mind is of all others the most sensible of praise and dispraise; and a noble spirit is as much invigorated with its due proportion of honour and ap
• Wycherley's comedy of the Plain Dealer.
! Eccles, vii. 1.
plause as it is depressed by neglect, and contempt. But it is only persons far above the common level who are thus affected with either of these extremes; as in a thermometer, it is only the purest and most sublimated spirit that is either contracted or dilated by the benignity or inclemency of the season.
“MR. SPEctator, −The translations which you have lately given us from the Greek, in some of your last papers, have been the occasion of my looking into some of those authors: among whom I chanced on a collection of letters which pass under the name of Aristacnetus. Of all the remains of antiquity, I believe there can be nothing produced of an air so gallant and polite; each letter contains a little novel or adventure, which is told with all the beauties of language, and heightened with a luxuriance of wit. There are several of them translated;" but with such wide deviations from the original, and in a style so far differing from the author's, that the translator seems rather to have taken hints for the expressing his own sense and thoughts, than to have endeavoured to render those of Aristaenetus. In the following translation, I have kept as near the meaning of the Greek as I could, and have only added a few words to make the sentences in English sit together a little better than they would otherwise have done. . The story seems to be taken from that of Pygmalion and the statue in Ovid; some of the thoughts are of the same turn, and the whole is written in a kind of poetical prose.”
“Never was a man more overcome with so fantastical a passion as mine; I have ainted a beautiful woman, and am despairing, dying for the picture. My own skill has undone me; it is not the dart of Venus, but my own pencil has thus wounded me. Ah, me! with what anxiety am I necessitated to adore my own idol? How miserable am I, whilst every one must as much pity the painter as he praises the picture, and own my torment more than equal to my art. But why do I thus complain? Have there not been more unhappy and unnatural passions than mine? Yes, I have seen the representation of Phaedra, Narcissus, and Pasiphae. Phaedra was unhappy in her love: that of Pasiphae was monstrous; and whilst the other caught at his beloved likeness, he destroyed the watery image, which ever eluded his embraces. The fountain represented Narcissus to himself, and the picture both that and him, thirsting after his adored image. But I am yet less unhappy... I enjoy her presence continually, and if I touch her, I destroy not the beauteous form, but she looks pleased,
* By Tom Brown and others. See his Works 4 vols. 12mo.
and a sweet smile sits in the charming space which divides her lips. One would swear that voice and speech were issuing out, and that one's ears felt the melodious sound. How often have I, deceived by a lover's credulity, hearkened if she had not something to whisper me? and when frustrated of my hopes, how often have I taken my revenge in kisses from her cheeks and eyes, and softly wooed her to my embrace, whilst she (as to me it seemed,) only withheld her tongue the more to inflame me. But, madman that I am, shall I be thus taken with the representation only of a beauteous face, and flowing hair, and thus waste myself and melt to tears for a shadow? Ah, sure it is something more, it is a reality; for see, her beauties shine out with new lustre, and she seems to upbraid me with unkind reproaches. Oh, may I have a living mistress of this form, that when I shall compare the work of nature with that of art, I may be still at a loss which to choose, and be long perplexed with the pleasing uncertainty.” T.
I Have sometimes amused myself with considering the several methods of managing a debate which have obtained in the world.
The first races of mankind used to dis
ute, as our ordinary people do now-a-days, in a kind of wild logic, uncultivated by rules of art.
Socrates introduced acatechetical method of arguing. He would ask his adversary question upon question, until he had convinced him out of his own mouth that his opinions were wrong. This way of debating drives an enemy up into a corner, seizes all the passes through which he can make an escape, and forces him to surrender at discretion.
Aristotle changed this method of attack, and invented a great variety of little weapons, called syllogisms. As in the Socratic way of dispute you agree to every thing which your opponent advances, in the Aristotelic you are still denying and contradicting some part or other of what he says. Socrates conquers you by stratagem, Aristotle by force! The one takes the town by sap, the other sword in hand.
}. universities of Europe for many years carried on their debates by syllogism, insomuch that we see the knowledge of several centuries laid out into objections and answers, and all the good sense of the age cut and minced into almost an infinitude of distinctions.
When our universities found there was no end of wrangling this way, they invented a kind of argument, which is not reducible to any mood or figure in Aristotle. It was called the argumentum Basilinum, (others write it Bacilinum or Baculinum,) which is pretty well expressed in our English word club-law. When they were not able to confute their antagonist, they knocked him down. It was their method in these polemical debates, first to discharge their syllogisms, and afterwards to betake themselves to their clubs, until such time as they had one wav or other confounded their gainsayers. There is in Oxford a narrow defile, (to make use of a military term,) where the partisans used to encounter; for which reason it still retains the name of Logic-lane. I have heard an old gentleman, a physician, make his boasts, that when he was a young fellow he marched several times at the head of a troop of Scotists," and cudgelled a body of Smiglej, half the length of High-street, until they had dispersed themselves for shelter into their respective garrisons. This humour, I find, went very far in Erasmus's time. For that author tells us, that upon the revival of Greek letters, most of the universities in Europe were divided into Greeks and Trojans. The latter were those who bore a mortal enmity to the language of the Grecians, insomuch that if they met with any who understood it, they did not fail to treat him as a foe. Erasmus himself had, it seems, the misfortune to fall into the hands of a party of Trojans, who laid on him with so many blows and buffets that he never forgot their hostilities to his dying day. There is a way of managing an argument not much unlike the former, which is made use of by states and communities, when they draw up a hundred thousand disputants, on each side, and convince one another by dint of sword. A certain grand monarchi was so sensible of his strength in this way of reasoning, that he writ upon his great ns—Ratio ultima regum, “The logic of ings; but, God be thanked, he is now retty well baffled at his own weapons. en cne has to do with a philosopher of this kind, one should remember the old gentleman's saying, who had been engaged in an argument with one of the Roman emperors.5 Upon his friend’s telling him that he wondered he would give up the uestion, when he had visibly the better of the dispute; “I am never ashamed,” says he... to be confuted by one who is master of fifty legions.” I shall but just mention another kind of
* The followers of Duns Scotus, a celebrated Franciscan divine, born in Northumberland. From Oxford, where he was educated, he went to Paris, where his reputation was so high as a disputant, that he acquired the name of the ‘subtile doctor." His opposition to the doctrine of Thomas Aquinas gave birth to two parties, the Scotists and Thomists. He died at Cologne, in 1308. t The followers of Martin Smiglecius, a famous iogi. eian in the 16th century. ; Lewis XIV. of France, The Emperor Adrian.
reasoning, which may be called arguing by oll; and another which is of equal force, in which wagers are made use of as arguments, according to the celebrated line in Hudibras. || But the most notable way of managing a controversy, is that which we may call arguing by torture. This is a method of reasoning which has been made use of with the poor refugees, and which was so fashionable in our country during the reign of Queen Mary, that in a passage of an author quoted by Monsieur Bayle, it is said the price of wood was raised in England, by reason of the executions that were made in Smithfield." These disputants convince their adversaries with a sorites,” commonly called a pile of faggots. The rack is also a kind of syllogism which has been used with good effect, and has made multitudes of converts. Men were formerly disputed out of their doubts, reconciled to truth by force of reason, and won over to opinions by the candour, sense, and ingenuity of those who had the right on their side; but this method of conviction operated too slowly. Pain was found to be much more enlightening than reason. Every scruple was looked upon as obstinacy, and not to be removed but by several engines invented for that purpose. In a word, the application of whips, racks, gibbets, galleys, dungeons, fire and faggot, in a dispute, may be looked upon as popish refinements upon the old heathen logic. There is another way of reasoning which seldom fails, though it be of a quite different nature to that I have last mentioned. I mean convincing a man by ready money, or as it is ordinarily called, bribing a man to an opinion. This method has often roved successful, when all the others have een made use of to no purpose. A man who is furnished with arguments from the mint, will convince his antagonist much sooner than one who draws them from reason and philosophy. Gold is a wonderful clearer of the o it dissipates every doubt and scruple in an instant; accommodates itself to the meanest capacities; silences the loud and clamourous, and brings over the most obstinate and inflexible. Philip of Macedon was a man of most invincible reason this way. He refuted by it all the wisdom of Athens, confounded their statesmen, struck their orators dumb, and at length argued them out of all their liberties. Having here touched upon the several methods of disputing, as they have prevailed in different ages of the world, I shall very suddenly give my reader an account of the whole art of cavilling; which shall
| Part 2, c. 1. v. Q97.
T The author quoted is Arld. Ammonius. See his life in Bayle's Dict.—The Spectator's memory deceived him in applying the remark, which was made in the reign of Henry VIII. It was, however, much more applicable to that of Queen Mary.
** A sorites is a heap of propositions thrown together.