Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

soever may be either useful or ornamental to society.

I know that the homage I now pay you is offering a kind of violence to one who is as solicitous to shun applause, as he is assiduous to deserve it. But, my Lord, this is perhaps the only particular in which your prudence will be always disappointed.

While justice, candour, equanimity, a zeal for the good of your country, and the most persuasive eloquence in bringing over others to it, are valuable distinctions, you are not to expect that the public will so far comply with your inclinations, as to forbear celebrating such extraordinary qualities. It is in vain that you have endeavoured to conceal your share of merit, in the many national services which you have effected. Do what you will, the

they failed when they brought an impeachment against him in the House of Lords in 1701. Quitting public life, Somers returned to the study of his books, and became President of the Royal Society. From 1708 to 1710 he again held office as President of the Council during the Whig administration, but his health was bad, and he lived in retirement until his death from apoplexy in 1716. As early 'as 1695 Addison, then aged twenty-three, had dedicated to Somers, after the capture of Namur, lines in honour of William III., and Somers procured for the young man a pension which enabled him to travel, and recommended him to Lord Halifax. Addison's · Remarks on Italy,' 1705, were dedicated to Lord Somers, and upon that nobleman's death Addison published, in No. 39 of the Freeholder, an admirable eulogy on the friend and patron who 'made it his endeavour rather to do worthy actions, than to gain an illustrious character.'

present age will be talking of your virtues, though posterity alone will do them justice.

Other men pass through oppositions and contending interests in the ways of ambition, but your great abilities have been invited to power, and importuned to accept of advancement. Nor is it strange that this should happen to your Lordship, who could bring into the service of your sovereign the arts and policies of ancient Greece and Rome, as well as the most exact knowledge of our own constitution in particular, and of the interests of Europe in general; to which I must also add, a certain dignity in yourself, that (to say the least of it) has been always equal to those great honours which have been conferred upon you.

It is very well known how much the Church owed to you in the most dangerous day it ever saw, that of the arraignment of its prelates ; and how far the civil power, in the late and present reign, has been indebted to your counsels and wisdom.

But to enumerate the great advantages which the public has received from your administration, would be a more proper work for an history, than for an address of this nature.

Your Lordship appears as great in your private life, as in the most important offices which you have borne. I would therefore rather choose to speak of the pleasure you afford all who are ad

onume

mitted into your conversation, of your elegant taste in all the polite parts of learning, of your great humanity and complacency of manners, and of the surprising influence which is peculiar to you in making every one who converses with your Lordship prefer you to himself, without thinking the less meanly of his own talents. But if I should take notice of all that might be observed in your Lordship, I should have nothing new to say upon any other character of distinction.

I am, my Lord,
Your Lordships most obedient,
Most devoted, humble servant,

THE SPECTATOR.

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Non fumum ex fulgore, sed ex fumo dare lucem
Cogitat, ut speciosa dehinc miracula promat.

-Hor., Ars Poet. 143. HAVE observed that a reader seldom peruses a book with pleasure until he knows whether the writer of it be a black or a fair man, of a mild or choleric disposition, married or

a bachelor, with other particulars of the like nature that conduce very much to the right understanding of an author. To gratify this curiosity, which is so natural to a reader, I design this paper and my next as prefatory discourses to my following writings, and shall give some account in them of the several persons that are engaged in this work. As the chief trouble of compiling,

VOL. I.

[graphic]

digesting, and correcting will fall to my share, I must do myself the justice to open the work with my own history.

I was born to a small hereditary estate, which, according to the tradition of the village where it lies, was bounded by the same hedges and ditches in William the Conqueror's time that it is at present, and has been delivered down from father to son whole and entire, without the loss or acquisition of a single field or meadow, during the space of six hundred years. There runs 2 a story in the family that when my mother was gone with child of me about three months she dreamt that she was brought to bed of a judge. Whether this might proceed from a lawsuit which was then depending in the family, or my father's being a Justice of the Peace, I cannot determine; for I am not so vain as to think it presaged any dignity that I should arrive at in my future life, though that was the interpretation which the neighbourhood put upon it. The gravity of my behaviour at my very first appearance in the world, and all the time that I sucked, seemed to favour my mother's dream; for, as she has often told me, I threw away my rattle before I was two months old, and would not make use of my coral until they had taken away the bells from it.

As for the rest of my infancy, there being nothing in it remarkable, I shall pass it over in silence. I find that during my nonage I had the reputation of a very sullen youth, but was always a favourite of my schoolmaster, who used to say that my parts were solid, and would wear well. I had not been long

1. Which I find by the writings of the family,' in the folio issue.

2 Goes' (folio).

« PředchozíPokračovat »