« PředchozíPokračovat »
still more ridiculous, is, that it is usually given for circumstances which are foreign to the persons admired. Thus they are the ordinary attendants on power and riches, which may be taken out of one man's hands, and put into another's. "The application only, and not the possession, makes those outward things honourable. The vulgar and men of sense agree in admiring men for having what they themselves would rather be possessed of; the wise man applauds him whom he thinks most virtuous, the rest of the world him who is most wealthy.
When a man is in this way of thinking, I do not know what can occur to one more monstrous, than to see persons of ingenuity address their services and performances to men no way addicted to liberal arts. In these cases, the praise on one hand, and the patronage on the other, are equally the objects of ridicule. Dedications to ignorant men are as absurd as any of the speeches of Bullfinch in the Droll. Such an address one is apt to translate into other words; and when the different parties are thoroughly considered, the panegyric generally implies no more than if the author should say to the patron, 'My very good lord, you and I can never understand one another; therefore I humbly desire we may be intimate friends for the future.'
The rich may as well ask to borrow of the poor, as the man of virtue or merit hope for addition to his character from any but such as himself. He that commends another engages so much of his own reputation as he gives to that person commended; and he that has nothing laudable in himself is not of ability to be such a surety. The wise Phocion was so sensible how dangerous it was to be touched with what the multitude approved, that upon a general acclamation made when he was making an 14
oration, he turned to an intelligent friend who stood near him, and asked in a surprised manner, 'What slip have I made?'
I shall conclude this paper with a billet which has fallen into my hands, and was written to a lady from a gentleman whom she had highly commended. The author of it had formerly been her lover. When all possibility of commerce between them on the subject of love was cut off, she spoke so handsomely of him, as to give occasion for this letter.
"I should be insensible to a stupidity, if I could forbear making you my acknowledgments for your late mention of me with so much applause. It is, I think, your fate to give me new sentiments: as you formerly inspired me with the true sense of love, so do you now with the true sense of glory. A desire had the least part in the passion I heretofore professed towards you, so has vanity no share in the glory to which you have now raised me. Innocence, knowledge, beauty, virtue, sincerity, and discretion, are the constant ornaments of her who has said this of me. Fame is a babbler, but I have arrived at the highest glory in this world, the commendation of the most deserving person in it."
No. 189. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6, 1711.
-Patriæ pietatis imago.
An image of paternal tenderness.
THE following letter being written to my bookseller upon a subject of which I treated some time since, I shall publish it in this paper, together with the letter that was inclosed in it.
VIRG. ÆN. X. 824.
"Mr. Spectator having of late descanted upon the cruelty of parents to their children, I have been induced, at the request of several of Mr. Spectator's admirers, to inclose this letter, which I assure you is the original from a father to his son, notwithstanding the latter gave but little or no provocation. It would be wonderfully obliging to the world, if Mr. Spectator would give us his opinion of it in some of his speculations, and particularly to Mr. Buckley,
"Your humble servant.
'You are a saucy audacious rascal, and both fool and mad, and I care not a farthing whether you comply or no; that does not raze out my impres sions of your insolence, going about railing at me, and the next day to solicit my favour. These are inconsistencies, such as discover thy reason depraved. To be brief, I never desire to see your face;
and, sirrah, if you go to the workhouse, it is no disgrace to me for you to be supported there; and if you starve in the streets, I'll never give any thing underhand in your behalf. If I have any more of your scribbling nonsense, I'll break your head the first time I set sight on you. You are a stubborn beast; is this your gratitude for my giving you money? You rogue, I'll better your judgment, and give you a greater sense of your duty to, I regret to say, your father, &c.
'P. S. It's prudence for you to keep out of my sight; for to reproach me, that might overcomes right, on the outside of your letter, I shall give you a great knock on the skull for it.'
Was there ever such an image of paternal tenderness! It was usual among some of the Geeeks to make their slaves drink to excess, and then expose them to their children, who by that means conceived an early aversion to a vice which makes men appear so monstrous and irrational. I have exposed this picture of an unnatural father with the same intention, that its deformity may deter others from its resemblance. If the reader has a mind to see a father of the same stamp represented in the most exquisite strokes of humour, he may meet with it in one of the finest comedies that ever appeared upon the English stage: I mean the part of Sir Sampson in Love for Love.
I must not however engage myself blindly on the side of the son, to whom the fond letter above written was directed. His father calls him a 'saucy and audacious rascal' in the first line, and I am afraid upon examination he will prove but an ungracious youth. To go about railing' at his father, and to
find no other place but the outside of his letter' to tell him that might overcomes right "— if it does not discover his reason to be depraved,' and 'that he is either fool or mad,' as the choleric old gentleman tells him, we may at least allow that the father will do very well in endeavouring to better his judgment, and give him a greater sense of his duty.' But whether this may be brought about by breaking his head,' or 'giving him a great knock on the skull, ought, I think, to be well considered. Upon the whole, I wish the father has not met with his match, and that he may not be as equally paired with a son, as the mother in Virgil:
-Crudelis tu quoque, mater;
Crudelis mater magis, an puer improbus ille?
ECL. viii. 48.
O barbarous mother, thirsting to destroy!
Or like the crow and her egg in the Greek proverb:
Κακοῦ κόρακος κακὸν ὠόν.
Bad the crow, bad the egg.
I must here take notice of a letter which I have received from an unknown correspondent, upon the subject of my paper, upon which the foregoing letter is likewise founded. The writer of it seems very much concerned lest that paper should seem to give encouragement to the disobedience of children towards their parents; but if the writer of it will take the pains to read it over again attentively, I dare say his apprehensions will vanish. Pardon and reconciliation are all the penitent daughter requests,