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N° 84. Wednesday, June 6, 1711
- Quis talia fando Myrmidonum dolopumue aut duri miles Ulyssei
Temperet a lachrymis ? —Virg., Æn. ii. 6. TOOKING over the old manuscript wherein the L private actions of Pharamond' are set down
by way of table-book, I found many things which gave me great delight; and as human life turns upon the same principles and passions in all ages, I thought it very proper to take minutes of what passed in that age for the instruction of this. The antiquary who lent me these papers gave me a character of Eucrate, the favourite of Pharamond, extracted from an author who lived in that court. The account he gives both of the prince and this his faithful friend, will not be improper to insert here, because I may have occasion to mention many of
i See Nos. 76, 97. Steele uses the suggestion of the romance of Pharamond, whose whole person,' says the romancer, was of so excellent a composition, and his words so great and so noble, that it was very difficult to deny him reverence,' to connect with a remote king his ideas of the duty of a court. Pharamond's friend Eucrate, whose name means power well used, is an invention of the essayist for an immediate good purpose of his own, which he pleasantly contrives in imitation of the style of the romance. In the original, Pharamond is said to be “truly and wholly charming, as well for the vivacity and delicateness of his spirit, accompanied with a perfect knowledge of all sciences, as for a sweetness which is wholly particular to him, and a complacence which, &c. . . . All his inclinations are in such manner fixed upon virtue, that no consideration nor passion can disturb him; and in those extremities into which his ill fortune hath cast him, he hath never let pass any occasion to do good.' That is why Steele chose Pharamond for his king in these papers (Morley).
their conversations, into which these memorials of them may give light :
Pharamond, when he had a mind to retire for an hour or two from the hurry of business and fatigue of ceremony, made a signal to Eucrate, by putting his hand to his face, placing his arm negligently on a window, or some such action as appeared indifferent to all the rest of the company. Upon such notice, unobserved by others (for their entire intimacy was always a secret), Eucrate repaired to his own apartment to receive the king. There was a secret access to this part of the court, at which Eucrate used to admit many whose mean appearance in the eyes of the ordinary waiters and door-keepers made them be repulsed from other parts of the palace. Such as these were let in here by order of Eucrate, and had audiences of Pharamond. This entrance Pharamond called the Gate of the Unhappy, and the tears of the afflicted who came before him, he would say, were bribes received by Eucrate; for Eucrate had the most compassionate spirit of all men living, except his generous master, who was always kindled at the least affliction which was communicated to him. In the regard for the miserable, Eucrate took particular care that the common forms of distress, and the idle pretenders to sorrow about courts, who wanted only supplies to luxury, should never obtain favour by his means : but the distresses which arise from the many inexplicable occurrences that happen among men, the unaccountable alienation of parents from their children, cruelty of husbands to wives, poverty occasioned from shipwreck or fire, the falling out of friends, or such other terrible disasters to which the life of man is exposed; in cases of this nature, Eucrate was the patron, and enjoyed this part of the royal favour so much without being envied, that it was never inquired into by whose means, what no one else cared for doing, was brought about.
'One evening when Pharamond came into the apartment of Eucrate, he found him extremely dejected, upon which he asked, with a smile which was natural to him, “ What, is there any one too miserable to be relieved by Pharamond, that Eucrate is melancholy?” “I fear there is," answered the favourite; “a person without, of a good air, well dressed, and though a man in the strength of his life, seems to faint under some inconsolable calamity; all his features seem suffused with agony of mind; but I can observe in him, that it is more inclined to break away in tears than rage. I asked him what he would have ;' he said he would speak to Pharamond. I desired his business; he could hardly say to me, •Eucrate, carry me to the king; my story is not to be told twice, I fear I shall not be able to speak it at all.'” Pharamond commanded Eucrate to let him enter; he did so, and the gentleman approached the king with an air which spoke him under the greatest concern in what manner to demean himself. The king, who had a quick discerning, relieved him from the oppression he was under ; and with the most beautiful complacency said to him, “Sir, do not add to that load of sorrow I see in your countenance, the awe of my presence; think you are speaking to your friend; if the circumstances of your distress will admit of it, you shall find me so." To whom the stranger: “Oh excellent Pharamond,
1 • An air which spoke the utmost sense of his majesty without the ability to express it' (folio).
name not a friend to the unfortunate Spinamont; I had one, but he is dead by my own hand; but, O Pharamond, though it was by the hand of Spinamont, it was by the guilt of Pharamond. I come not, oh excellent prince, to implore your pardon; I come to relate my sorrow, a sorrow too great for human life to support: from henceforth shall all occurrences appear dreams or short intervals of amusement, from this one affliction which has seized my very being. Pardon me, O Pharamond, if my griefs give me leave, that I lay before you in the anguish of a wounded mind, that you, good as you are, are guilty of the generous blood spilt this day by this unhappy hand; oh that it had perished before that instant !” Here the stranger paused, and recollecting his mind after some little meditation, he went on in a calmer tone and gesture as follows :
affliction white intervals of
i This is a reference to a duel between Mr. Thornhill and Sir Cholmondeley Dering, Bart., on the gth of May 1711, when Sir Cholmondeley was killed. Thornhill was tried and acquitted; but shortly afterwards he was stabbed by two men, who bid him remember Sir Cholmondeley Dering (Swift's Journal to Stella,' May 9 and August 21, 1711).
The following account of the duel, in a letter from Lady Dupplin to her aunt, Abigail Harley, has recently been published (Hist. MSS. Comm., Fifteenth Report, Part IV. p. 686): 'À sad accident happened yesterday; Sir Cholmondeley Dering was killed in a duel by one Mr. Thornhill. They fought with pistols ; he died in the evening. They were relations and had been great friends. The quarrel was ten days ago at a drinking bout. Mr. Thornhill affronted my Lord Scarsdale, Sir Ch. would have had him beg my lord's pardon, told him he was very drunk; he said he was not. Sir Ch. knocked him down, set his foot on his mouth, broke his jaw, and dashed out several teeth. He lay very ill, but they say Tuesday night sent the knight a challenge, and he called him up, and they went to Tothill Fields. The first shot killed Sir Cholmondeley; he has left two very little boys. Thornhill is in Newgate.'
““There is an authority due to distress; and as none of human race is above the reach of sorrow, none should be above the hearing the voice of it: I am sure Pharamond is not. Know, then, that I have this morning unfortunately killed in a duel the man whom of all men living I most loved. I command myself too much in your royal presence to say, * Pharamond, give me my friend! Pharamond has taken him from me!' I will not say, “Shall the merciful Pharamond destroy his own subjects? Will the father of his country murder his people?' But the merciful Pharamond does destroy his subjects, the father of his country does murder his people. Fortune is so much the pursuit of mankind, that all glory and honour is in the power of a prince, because he has the distribution of their fortunes. It is therefore the inadvertency, negligence, or guilt of princes to let anything grow into custom which is against their laws. A court can make fashion and duty walk together; it can never, without the guilt of a court, happen that it shall not be unfashionable to do what is unlawful. But, alas ! in the dominions of Pharamond, by the force of a tyrant custom which is misnamed a point of honour, the duellist kills his friend whom he loves, and the judge condemns the duellist, while he approves his behaviour. Shame is the greatest of all evils; what avail laws when death only attends the breach of them and shame obedience to them? As for me, O Pharamond! were it possible to describe the nameless kinds of compunctions and tendernesses I feel when I reflect upon the little accidents in our former familiarity, my mind swells into sorrow which cannot be resisted enough to be silent in the presence of Pharamond.” With that he fell into a flood of tears and wept aloud. “Why