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I scarce know what side has the better of it, until I am informed by the Tower guns that the place is surrendered. I do indeed make some allowances for this part of the war, fortifications having been foreign inventions, and upon that account abounding in foreign terms. But, when we have won battles which may be described in our own language, why are our papers filled with so many unintelligible exploits, and the French obliged to lend us a part of their tongue, before we can know how they are conquered? Our commanders lose half their praise, and our people half their joy, by means of those hard words and dark expressions in which our newspapers do so much abound. I have seen many a prudent citizen, after having read every article, inquire of his next neighbour what news the mail had brought.
I remember in that remarkable year, when our country was delivered from the greatest fears and apprehensions, and raised to the greatest height of gladness it had ever felt since it was a nation, I mean the year of Blenheim, I had the copy of a letter sent me out of the country, which was written from a young gentleman in the army to his father, a man of good estate and plain sense. As the letter was very modishly chequered with this modern military eloquence, I shall present my reader with a copy of it:
Upon the junction of the French and Bavarian armies they took post behind a great morass which they thought impracticable. Our general the next day sent a party of horse to reconnoitre them from a little bauteur, at about a quarter of an hour's distance from the army, who returned again to the camp unobserved through
several defiles, in one of which they met with a party of French that had been marauding, and made them all prisoners at discretion. The day after a drum arrived at our camp, with a message which he would communicate to none but the general: he was followed by a trumpet, who they say behaved himself very saucily, with a message from the duke of Bavaria. The next morning our army, being divided into two corps, made a movement towards the enemy. You will hear in the public prints how we treated them, with the other circumstances of that glorious day. I had the good fortune to be in that regiment that pushed the gens d'armes. Several French battalions, which some. say were a corps de reserve, made a show of resistance: but it only proved a gasconade; for, upon our preparing to fill up a little fossé, in order to attack them, they beat the chamade, and sent us carte blanche. Their commandant, with a great many other general officers, and troops without number, are made prisoners of war, and will, I believe, give you a visit in England, the cartel not being yet settled. Not questioning but these particulars will be very welcome to you, I congratulate you upon them, and am your most dutiful son, &c.'
The father of the young gentleman, upon the perusal of the letter, found it contained great news, but could not guess what it was. He immediately communicated it to the curate of the parish, who, upon the reading of it, being vexed to see any thing he could not understand, fell into a kind of a passion, and told him, that his son had sent him a letter that was neither fish, flesh, nor good red herring. I wish, says he, the captain may be compos mentis; he talks of a
saucy trumpet, and a drum that carries messages; then who is this carte blanche? He must either banter us or he is out of his senses.-The father, who always looked upon the curate as a learned man, began to fret inwardly at his son's usage, and, producing a letter which he had written to him about three posts afore, You see here (says he), when he writes for money he knows how to speak intelligibly enough: there is no man in England can express himself clearer when he wants a new furniture for his horse.' In short, the old man, was so puzzled upon the point, that it might have fared ill with his son, had he not seen all the prints about three days after filled with the same terms of art, and that Charles only writ like other men.
STORY OF AN AUTHOR. No. 166.
As writings are durable, and may pass from age to age throughout the whole course of time, how careful should an author be of committing any thing to print that may corrupt posterity, and poison the minds of men with vice and error! Writers of great talents, who employ their parts in propagating immorality, and seasoning vicious sentiments with wit and humour, are to be looked upon as the pests of society, and the enemies of mankind.
I have seen some Roman catholic authors who tell us that vicious writers continue in purgatory so long as the influence of their writings continues upon posterity; for purgatory, say they, is nothing else but a cleansing us of our sins, which cannot be said to be
done away, so long as they continue to operate and corrupt mankind. The vicious author, say they, sins after death, and so long as he continues to sin, so long must he expect to be punished. Indeed one canuot but think, that if the soul after death has any knowledge of what passes in this world, that of an immoral writer would receive much more regret from the sense of corrupting, than satisfaction from the thought of pleasing his surviving admirers.
To take off from the severity of this speculation, I shall conclude this Paper with a story of an atheistical author, who, at the time he lay dangerously sick, and had desired the assistance of a neighbouring curate, confess ed to him, with great contrition, that nothing sat more heavy at his heart than the sense of his having seduced the age by his writings; and that their evil influence was likely to continue even after his death. The cu rate, upon further examination, finding the penitent in the utmost agonies of despair, and being himself a man of learning, told him that he hoped his case was not so desperate as he apprehended, since he found that he was so very sensible of his fault, and so sincerely repented of it. The penitent still urged the evil tendency of his book to subvert all religion, and the little ground of hope there could be for one whose writings would continue to do mischief when his body was laid in ashes. The curate, finding no other way to comfort him, told him that he did well in being afflicted for the evil design with which he published his book; but that he ought to be very thankful that there was no danger of its doing any hurt that his cause was so very bad, and his arguments so weak, that he did not apprehend any ill effects of it in short, that he might rest satisfied his book could do no more mischief after his death than it had
done whilst he was living. To which he added, for his further satisfaction, that he did not believe any besides his particular friends and acquaintance had ever been at the pains of reading it, or that any body after his death would ever inquire after it. The dying man had still so much the frailty of an author in him, as to be cut to the heart with these consolations; and, without answering the good man, asked his friends about him (with a peevishness that is natural to a sick person) where they had picked up such a blockhead; and whether they thought him a proper person to attend one in his condition. The curate, finding that the author did not expect to be dealt with as a real and sincere penitent, but as a penitent of importance, after a short admonition withdrew; not questioning but he should be again sent for if the sickness grew desperate. The author however recovered, and has since written two or three other tracts with the same spirit, and, very luckily for his poor soul, with the same success.
STORY OF MR. FREEMAN, OR THE HENPECKED PAPER I. No. 212.
"I HAVE Very often wished you visited in our family,and were acquainted with my spouse: she would afford you, for some months at least, matter enough for one Spectator a week. Since we are not so happy as to be of your acquaintance, give me leave to represent to you our present circumstances as well as I can in writing. You are to know, then, that I am not of a very different