Obrázky stránek

Rogue as Scarecrow. But, continued he, for the Loss of No. 6, publick and private Virtue we are beholden to your Wednes Men of Parts forsooth; it is with them no matter what day, March 7, is done, so it is done with an Air. But to me, who am 1711. so whimsical in a corrupt Age as to act according to Nature and Reason, a selfish Man, in the most shining Circumstance and Equipage, appears in the same Condition with the Fellow above-mentioned, but more contemptible, in Proportion to what more he robs the Publick of and enjoys above him, I lay it down therefore for a Rule, That the whole Man is to move together; that every Action of any Importance is to have a Prospecti of publick Good; and that the general Tendency of our indifferent Actions ought to be agreeable to the Dictates of Reason, of Religion, of good Breeding; without this, a Man, as I before have hinted, is hopping instead of walking, he is not in his intire and proper Motion.

While the honest Knight was thus bewildering him self in good Starts, I look'd intentively upon him, which made him, I thought, collect his Mind a little. What I aim at, says he, is to represent, That I am of Opinion, to polish our Understandings and neglect our Manners is of all things the most inexcusable. Reason should govern Passion, but instead of that, you see, it is often subservient to it; and as unaccountable as one would think it, a wise Man is not always a good Man. This Degeneracy is not only the Guilt of particular Persons, but also at some times of a whole People; and perhaps it may appear upon Examination, that the most polite Ages are the least virtuous. This may be attributed to the Folly of admitting Wit and Learning as Merit in themselves, without considering the Application of them. By this Means it becomes a Rule, not so much to regard what we do, as how we do it. But this false Beauty will not pass upon Men of honest Minds and true Taste: Sir Richard Blackmore says, with as much good Sense as Virtue, It is a mighty Dishonour and Shame to employ excellent Faculties and abundance of Wit, to humour and please Men in their Vices and Follies. The great Enemy of Mankind, notwithstanding his Wit and Angelick Faculties, is the most odious Being


INo. 6, in the whole Creation. He goes on soon after to say Wednes very generously, That he undertook the writing of day, his Poem to rescue the Muses out of the Hands March 7, of Ravishers, to restore them to their sweet and chaste Mansions, and to engage them in an Employ ment suitable to their Dignity. This certainly ought to be the Purpose of every Man who appears in Publick; and whoever does not proceed upon that Foundation, injures his Country as fast as he suc ceeds in his Studies. When Modesty ceases to be the chief Ornament of one Sex, and Integrity of the other, Society is upon a wrong Basis, and we shall be ever after without Rules to guide our Judgment in what is really becoming and ornamental. Nature and Reason direct one thing, Passion and Humour another: To follow the Dictates of the two latter, is going into a Road that is both endless and intricate; when we pursue the other, our Passage is delightful, and what we aim at easily attainable,

I do not doubt but England is at present as polite a Nation as any in the World; but any Man who thinks can easily see, that the Affectation of being Gay and in Fashion has very near eaten up our good Sense and our Religion. Is there anything so just, as that Mode and Gallantry should be built upon exerting our selves in what is proper and agreeable to the Institutions of Justice and Piety among us? And yet is there any thing more common, than that we run in perfect Con tradiction to them? All which is supported by no other Pretension, than that it is done with what we call a good Grace,

Nothing ought to be held laudable or becoming, but what Nature it self should prompt us to think so. Respect to all kind of Superiors is founded, methinks, upon Instinct; and yet what is so ridiculous as Age? I make this abrupt Transition to the Mention of this Vice more than any other, in order to introduce a little Story, which I think a pretty Instance that the most polite Age is in danger of being the most vicious.

'It happen'd at Athens, during a publick Representa tion of some Play exhibited in honour of the Common


March 7,

wealth, that an old Gentleman came too late for a No. 6. Place suitable to his Age and Quality, Many of the Wednesyoung Gentlemen who observed the Difficulty and day, Confusion he was in, made Signs to him that they 1711. would accommodate him if he came where they sate: The good Man bustled through the Crowd accordingly; but when he came to the Seats to which he was in vited, the Jest was to sit close, and expose him, as he stood out of Countenance, to the whole Audience. The Frolick went round all the Athenian Benches, But on those Occasions there were also particular Places assigned for Foreigners: When the good Man skulked towards the Boxes appointed for the Lacedemoníans, that honest People, more virtuous than polite, rose up all to a Man, and with the greatest Respect received him among them. The Athenians being suddenly touch'd with a Sense of the Spartan Virtue and their own Degeneracy, gave a Thunder of Applause; and the old Man cried out, The Athenians understand what is good, but the Lacedemoníans practise it.

No. 7,


[ocr errors]

Thursday, March 8,

Somnía, terrores magicos, miracula, sagas,

Nocturnos lemures, portentaque Thessala rides?—Hor.



OING Yesterday to Dine with an old Acquaintance, I had the Misfortune to find his whole Family very much dejected. Upon asking him the Occasion of it, he told me that his Wife had dreamt a very strange Dream the Night before, which they were afraid portended some Misfortune to themselves or to their Children, At her coming into the Room I observed a settled Melancholy in her Countenance, which I should have been troubled for, had I not heard from whence it proceeded. We were no sooner sate down, but, after having looked upon me a little while, My Dear, says she, turning to her Husband, you may now see the Stranger that was in the Candle last Night. Soon after this, as they began to talk of Family Affairs, a little Boy at the lower end of the Table told her, that he



No. 7. was to go into Join-hand on Thursday, Thursday? says Thursday, she, No, Child, if it please God, you shall not begin March 8, upon Childermas-day; tell your Writing-Master that Friday will be soon enough. I was Reflecting with my self on the Oddness of her Fancy, and wondering that any Body would establish it as a Rule to lose a Day in every Week. In the midst of these my Musings she desired me to reach her a little Salt upon the Point of my Knife, which I did in such a Trepidation and Hurry of Obedience, that I let it drop by the Way; at which she immediately startled, and said it fell towards her. Upomediately Upon this I looked very blank ļ and, observing the Concern of the whole Table, began to consider my self, with some Con fusion, as a Person that had brought brought a Disaster upon the Family. The Lady however recovering her self after a little space, said to her Husband with a Sigh, My Dear, Misfortunes never come Single. My Friend, I found, acted but an under Part at his Table, and being a Man of more Good-nature than Understanding, thinks himself obliged to fall in with all the Passions and Humours of his Yoke-Fellow: Do not you remember, Child, says she, that the Pidgeon-house fell the very Afternoon that our care less Wench spilt the Salt upon the Table? Yes, says he, My Dear, and the next Post brought us an Account of the Battel of Almanza, The Reader may guess at the figure I made, after having done all this Mischief. I dispatched my Dinner as soon as I could, with my usual Taciturnity; when, to my utter Confusion, the Lady seeing me quitting my Knife and Fork, and laying them across one another upon my Plate, desired me that I would humour her so far as to take them out of that Figure, and place them side by side. What the Absurdity was which I had committed I did not know, but I suppose there was some traditionary Superstition in it; and therefore, in obedience to the Lady of the House, I disposed of my Knife and Fork in two parallel Lines, which is the figure I shall always lay them in for the future, tho' I do not know any Reason for it.

It is not difficult for a Man to see that a Person has No. 7. conceived an Aversion to him. For my own part, I Thursday March 8, quickly found, by the Lady's Looks, that she regarded 1711. me as a very odd kind of Fellow, with an unfortunate Aspect: For which Reason I took my leave immediately after Dinner, and withdrew to my own Lodgings. Upon my Return Home, I fell into a profound Contemplation on the Evils that attend these superstitious Follies of Mankind; how they subject us to imaginary Afflictions, and additional Sorrows, that do not properly come with in our Lot. As if the natural Calamities of Life were not sufficient for it, we turn the most indifferent Circumstances into Misfortunes, and suffer as much from trifling Accidents, as from real Evils. I have known the shooting of a Star spoil a Night's Rest; and have seen a Man in Love grow pale and lose his Appetite, upon the plucking of a Merry-thought. A Screech Owl at Midnight has alarm'd a Family, more than a Band of Robbers; nay, the Voice of a Cricket hath struck more Terror than the Roaring of a Lion. There is nothing so inconsiderable, which may not appear dread ful to an Imagination that is filled with Omens and Prognosticks. A rusty Nail, or a crooked Pin, shoot, up into Prodigies.

I remember I was once in a mixt Assembly, that was full of Noise and Mirth, when on a sudden an old Woman unluckily observed there were thirteen of us in Company. This Remark struck a pannick Terror into several who were present, insomuch that one or two of the Ladies were going to leave the Room; but a Friend of mine taking notice that one of our Female Companions was big with Child, affirm'd there were fourteen in the Room, and that instead of portending one of the Company should die, it plainly foretold one of them should be born. Had not my Friend found out this Expedient to break the Omen, I question not but half the Women in the Company would have fallen sick that very Night.

An old Maid, that is troubled with the Vapours, produces infinite Disturbances of this kind among her Friends and Neighbours. I know a Maiden Aunt, of


« PředchozíPokračovat »