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I have to night acted only an appetite. The part I played is thirft, but it is reprefented as written rather by a drayman than a poet. I come in with a tub about me, that tub hung with quart-pots, with a full gallon 6 at my mouth. I am ashamed to tell you that I pleased very much, and this was introduced as a madness; but 'fure it was not human madness, for a mule or an afs may have been as dry as ever I was in my life.
I am, SIR,
your most obedient and humble fervant.
From the Savoy in the Strand.
IF you can read it with dry eyes, I give you this 'trouble to acquaint you, that I am the unfortunate king Latinus, and I believe I am the first prince that dated from this palace fince John of Gaunt. Such is the uncertainty of all human greatness, that I who lately never moved without a guard, am now preffed as a common foldier, and am to fail with the first fair wind against my brother Lewis of France. It is a very hard thing to put off a character which one has appeared in 'with applaufe: this I experienced fince the lofs of my diadem; for upon quarrelling with another recruit, I spoke my indignation out of my part in recitativo ;
Moft audacious flave,
Dar'ft thoy an angry monarch's fury brave?
The words were no fooner out of my mouth, when a ferjeant knocked me down, and asked me if I had a mind to mutiny, in talking things no body understood. 'You fee, fir, my unhappy circumftances; and if by your mediation you can procure a fubfidy for a prince (who never failed to make all that beheld him merry at his appearance) you will merit the thanks of your friend,
The King of Latium.
For the good of the public.
Within two doors of the masquerade lives an eminent Italian chirurgeon, arrived from the carnival at Venice,
of great experience in private cures. Accommodations are provided, and perfons admitted in their mafquing habits. He has cured fince his coming thither, in less than a fortnight, four Scaramouches, a mountebank doctor, two Turkish baffas, three nuns, and a morris-dancer.
Venienti occurite morbo.
N. B. Any person may agree by the great, and be kept in repair by the year. The doctor draws teeth without pulling off your mafque.
Tuesday, March 27.
Savit atrox Volfcens, nec teli confpicit ufquam
Fierce Volfcens foams with rage, and gazing round
HERE is nothing that more betrays a base ungenerous fpirit, than the giving of fecret ftabs to a man's reputation; lampoons and fatires, that are written with wit and fpirit, are like poifoned darts, which not only inflict a wound, but make it incurable. For this reason I am very much troubled when I fee the talents of humour and ridicule in the poffeffion of an ill-natured man. There cannot be a greater gratification to a barbarous and inhuman wit, than to ftir up forrow in the heart of a private perfon, to raise uneafinefs among near relations, and to expofe whole families to derifion, at the fame time that he remains unfeen and undifcovered. If, befides the accomplishments of being witty and ill-natured, a man is vicious into the bargain, he is one of the moft mifchievous creatures that can enter into a civil fociety. His fatire will then chiefly fall upon those who ought to be the moft exempt from it.
Virtue, merit, and every thing that is praise-worthy, will be made the subject of ridicule and buffoonry. It is impoffible to enumerate the evils which arise from these arrows that fly in the dark, and I know no other excuse that is or can be made for them, than that the wounds they give are only imaginary, and produce nothing more than a fecret fhame or forrow in the mind of the suffering perfon. It must indeed be confeffed, that a lampoon or a fatire do not carry in them robbery or murder; but at the fame time how many are there that would not rather lofe a confiderable fum of money, or even life itself, than be set up as a mark of infamy and derifion? and in this cafe a man fhould confider, that an injury is not to be measured by the notions of him that gives, but of him that receives it.
Those who can put the best countenance upon the outrages of this nature which are offered them, are not without their fecret anguish. I have often obferved a paffage in Socrates's behaviour at his death, in a light wherein none of the critics have confidered it. That excellent man entertaining his friends, a little before he drank the bowl of poifon, with a difcourfe on the immortality of the foul, at his entering upon it, fays, that he does not believe any of the moft comic genius can cenfure him for talking upon fuch a fubject at fuch a time. This paffage, I think, evidently glances upon Ariftophanes, who writ a comedy on purpofe to ridicule the difcourfes of that divine philofopher. It has been obferved by many writers, that Socrates was fo little moved at this piece of buffoonry, that he was several times prefent at its being acted upon the ftage, and never expreffed the leaft refentment of it. But with fubmiffion, I think the remark I have here made fhews us, that this unworthy treatment made an impreffion upon his mind, though he had been too wife to discover it.
When Julius Cæfar was lampooned by Catullus, he invited him to a fupper, and treated him with fuch a generous civility, that he made the poet his friend ever after. Cardinal Mazarine gave the fame kind of treatment to the learned Quillet who had reflected upon his eminence in a famous Latin poem. The cardinal fent for him, and after fome kind expoftulations upon
what he had written, affured him of his efteem, and difmiffed him with a promife of the next good abbey that fhould fall, which he accordingly conferred upon him in a few months after. This had fo good an effect upon the author, that he dedicated the fecond edition of his book to the cardinal, after having expunged the paffages which had given him offence.
Sextus Quintus was not of fo generous and forgiving a temper. Upon his being made pope, the ftatue of Pafquin was one night dreffed in a very dirty fhirt, with an excufe written under it, that he was forced to wear foul linen, because his laundress was made a princefs. This was a reflection upon the pope's fifter, who, before the promotion of her brother, was in thofe mean circumftances that Pafquin reprefented her. As this Pafquinade made a great noife in Rome, the pope offered a confiderable fun of money to any perfon that should difcover the author of it. The author relying upon his holiness's generofity, as alfo on fome private overtures which he had received from him, made the discovery himfelf; upon which the pope gave him the reward he had promifed, but at the fame time, to difable the satirist for the future, ordered his tongue to be cut out, and both his hands to be chopped off. Aretine is too trite an inftance. Every one knows that all the kings of Europe were his tributaries. Nay, there is a letter of his extant, in which he makes his boafts that he had laid the fophi of Perfia under contribution.
Though in the various examples which I have here drawn together, thefe feveral great men behaved themfelves very differently towards the wits of the age who had reproached them; they all of them plainly fhewed that they were very fenfible of their reproaches, and confequently that they received them as very great injuries. For my own part, I would never truft a man that I thought was capable of giving these fecret wounds; and cannot but think that he would hurt the perfon, whofe reputation he thus affaults, in his body or in his fortune, could he do it with the fame fecurity. There is indeed fomething very barbarous and inhuman in the ordinary fcribblers of lampoons. An innocent young lady fhall be expofed for an unhappy feature. A father
of a family turned to ridicule, for fome domeftic calamity. A wife be made uneafy all her life, for a mifinterpreted word or action. Nay, a good, a temperate, and a just man, shall be put out of countenance, by the reprefentation of those qualities that should do him honour. So pernicious a thing is wit, when it is not tempered with virtue and humanity.
I have indeed heard of heedless inconfiderate writers, that without any malice have facrificed the reputation of their friends and acquaintance, to a certain levity of temper, and a filly ambition, of diftinguishing themfelves by a fpirit of raillery and fatire as if it were not infinitely more honourable to be a good-natured man, than a wit. Where there is this little petulant humour in an author, he is often very mifchievous without defigning to be fo. For which reafon I always lay it down as a rule, that an indifcreet man is more hurtful than an ill-natured one; for as the latter will only attack his enemies, and those he wishes ill to; the other injures indifferently both friends and foes. I cannot forbear, on this occafion, tranfcribing a fable out of Sir Roger l'Eftrange, which accidentally lies before me. A company of waggish boys were watching of frogs at the fide of a pond, and ftill as any of them put up 'their heads, they would be pelting them down again 'with ftones. Children, (fays one of the frogs) you never confider that though this may be play to you, it is " death to us.'
As this week is in a manner fet apart and dedicated to ferious thoughts, I fhall indulge myself in fuch fpeculations as may not be altogether unfuitable to the feafon; and in the mean time, as the fettling in ourselves a charitable frame of mind is a work very proper for the time, I have in this paper endeavoured to expofe that particular breach of charity which has been. generally overlooked by divines, because they are but few who can be guilty of it.