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you might communicate to the guilty part of mankind that they are incapable of the happiness which is in the very sorrows of the virtuous.
•But pray spare me a little longer; give me leave to tell you the manner of her death. She took leave of all her family, and bore the vain application of medicines with the greatest patience imaginable. When the physician told her she must certainly die, she desired as well as she could, that all who were present except myself, might depart 'the
She said she had nothing to say, for she was resigned, and I knew all she knew that concerned us in this world; but she desired to be alone, that in the presence of God only she might, without interruption, do her last duty to me, of thanking me for all my kindness to her: adding that she hoped in my last moments I should feel the same confort for my goodness to her, as she did in that she had acquitted herself with honour, truth, and virtue, to me.
I curb myself, and will not tell you that this kindness cut my heart in twain, when I expected an accusation for some passionate starts of mine. in some parts of our time together, to say nothing but thank me for the good, if there was any good suitable to her own excellence! All that I had ever said to her, all the circumstances of sorrow and joy between us, crowded upon my mind in the same instant: and when, immediately after, I saw the pangs of death come upon that dear body which I had often embraced with transport; when I saw those cherishing eyes begin to be ghastly, and their last struggle to be to fix themselves on me, how did I lose all patience! She expired in my arms, and in my distraction I thought I saw her bosom still heave. There was certainly life yet still left. I cried, she just now spoke to me.
But, alas! I grew giddy, and all things moved about me, from the distemper of my own head; for the best of women was breathless and gone for ever.
Now the doctrine I would, methinks, have you raise from this account I have given you, is, that there is a certain equanimity in those who are good and just, which runs into their
very sorrow, and disappoints the force of it. Though they must pass through afflictions in common with all who are in human nature, yet their conscious integrity shall undermine their affliction; nay, that very affliction shall add force to their integrity, from a reflexion of the use of virtue in the hour of affliction. I sat down with a design to put you upon giving us rules how to overcome such griefs as these, but I should rather advise you to teach men to be capable of them.
You men of letters have what you call the fine taste in your apprehensions of what’is properly done or said. There is something like this deeply grafted in the soul of him who is honest and faithful in all his thoughts and actions. Every thing which is false, vicious, or unworthy, is des, picable to him, though all the world should approve it. At the same time he has the most lively sensibility in all enjoyments and sufferings which it is proper for him to have where any duty of life is concerned. To want sorrow when you in decency and truth should be afflicted, is, I should think, a greater instance of a man's being a blockhead than not to know the beauty of any passage in Virgil. You liare not yet observed, Mr. Spectator, that the fine gentlemen of this age set up for hardness of heart; and humanity has very little share in their pretences. He is a brave fellow who is always ready to kill a man he hates,
but he does not stand in the same degree of esteem who laments for the woman he loves. I should fancy you might work up a thousand pretty thoughts, by reflecting upon the persons most susceptible of the sort of sorrow I have spoken of; and I dare say you will find upon examination that they are the wisest and the bravest of mankind who are the most capable of it.
Norwich, 7 Octobris,
I am, Sir, 1712.
Your humble servant, T.
No. 521. TUESDAY, OCT. 28, 1712.
Vera redit facies, dissimulata perit.
"I HAVE been for many years loud in this assertion, that there are very few that can see or hear; I mean, that can report what they have seen or heard : and this through incapacity or prejudice, one of which disables almost every man who talks to you from representing things as he ought. For which reason I am come to a resolution of believing nothing I hear; and I contemn the man given to narrations under the appellation of «
a matter-of-fact man:” and, according to me, a matter-of-fact man is one whose life and conversation is spent in the report of what is not matter of fact.
“I remember when prince Eugene was here, there was no knowing his height of figure, until
you, Mr. Spectator, gave the public satisfaction in that matter. In relations the force of the expression lies very often more in the look, the tone of voice, or the gesture, than the words themselves; which, being repeated in any other manner by the undiscerning, bear a very different interpretation from their original meaning. I must confess I formerly have turned this humour of mine to very good account; for whenever I heard any narration uttered with extraordinary vehemence, and grounded upon considerable authority, I was always ready to lay any wager that it was not so. Indeed I never pretended to be so rash as to fix the matter any particular way in opposition to theirs; but as there are a hundred ways of any thing happening, besides that it has happened, I only controverted its falling out in that one manner as they settled it, and left it to the ninety-nine other ways, and consequently had more probability of success. I had arrived at a particular skill in warming a man so far in his narrations as to make him throw in a little of the marvellous, and then, if he has much fire, the next degree is the impossible. Now this is always the time for fixing the wager. But this requires the nicest management, otherwise very probably the dispute may arise to the old determination by battle. In these conceits I have been very fortunate, and have won some wagers of those who have professedly valued themselves upon intelligence, and have put themselves to the great charge and expense to be misinformed considerably sooner than the rest of the world.
Having got a comfortable sum by this my opposition to public report, I have brought myself now to so great a perfection in inattention, more especially to party-relation, that, at the same time seem with greedy ears to devour up the discourse, I certainly do not know one word of it, but pursue my own course of thought, whether upon business or amusement, with much tranquillity; I say inattention, because a late act of parliament* has secured all party-liars from the penalty of a wager, and consequently made it unprofitable to attend to them. However, good-breeding obliges a man to maintain the figure of the keenest attention, the true' posture of which in a coffee-house I take to consist in leaning over a table with the edge of it pressing hard upon your stomach : for the more pain the narration is received with, the more gracious is your bending over; besides that the narrator thinks you forget your pain by the pleasure of hearing him.
Fort Knock has occasioned several very perplexed and inelegant heats and animosities ; and there was one the other day, in a coffee-house where I was, that took upon him to clear that business to me, for he said he was there. I knew him to be that sort of man that had not strength of capacity to be informed of any thing that depended merely upon his being an eye-witness, and therefore was fully satisfied he could give me no information, for the very same reason he believed he could, for he was there. However, I heard him with the same greediness as Shakespeare describes in the following lines :
“ I saw a smith stand on his hammer, thus,
I confess of late I have not been so much amazed at the declaimers in coffee-houses as I
* Stat. 7 Anne, cap. 17.-By it all wagers laid upon a con tingency relating to the war with France were declared to be void.