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bed-chamber, or perching upon a king's throne; befides the inconveniencies which the heads of the audience may fometimes fuffer from them. I am credibly informed, that there was once a defign of cafting into an opera the ftory of Whittington and his cat, and that in order to it, there had been got together a great quantity of mice; but Mr. Rich, the proprietor of the play-house, very prudently confidered that it would be impoffible for the cat to kill them all, and that confequently the princes of the ftage might be as much infefted with mice, as the prince of the island was before the cat's arrival upon it; for which reafon he would not permit it to be acted in his houfe. And indeed I cannot blame him: for, as he faid very well upon that occafion, I do not hear that any of the performers in our opera pretend to equal the famous pied piper, who made all the mice of a great town in Germany follow his mufic, and by that means cleared the place of thofe little noxious animals.
Before I difmifs this paper, I must inform my reader, that I hear there is a treaty on foot with London and Wife (who will be appointed gardeners of the playhoufe) to furnish the opera of Rinaldo and Armida with an orange-grove; and that the next time it is acted, the finging-birds will be perfonated by tomtits: the undertakers being refolved to fpare neither pains nor money for the gratification of the audience.
Wednesday, March 7.
Credebant boc grande nefas, & morte piandum,
Juv. Sat. 13. 1. 54.
"Twas impious then (fo much was age rever'd) For youth to keep their feat, when an old man appear'd.
Know no evil under the fun fo great as the abuse of the understanding, and yet there is no one vice more It has diffufed itself through both fexes and all qualities of mankind, and there is hardly that perfon to be found, who is not more concerned for the reputation of wit and fenfe, than honefty and virtue. But this unhappy affectation of being wife rather than honeft, witty than good-natured, is the fource of most of the ill habits of life. Such falfe impreffions are owing to the abandoned writings of men of wit, and the aukward imitation of the reft of mankind.
For this reafon fir ROGER was faying laft night, that he was of opinion none but men of fine parts deferve to be hanged. The reflections of fuch men are fo delicate upon all occurrences which they are concerned in, that they should be expofed to more than ordinary infamy and punishment for offending against fuch quick admonitions as their own fouls give them, and blunting the fine edge of their minds in fuch a manner, that they are no more shocked at vice and folly, than men of flower capacities. There is no greater monster in being, than a very ill man of great parts: he lives like a man in a palfy, with one fide of him dead. While perhaps he enjoys the fatisfaction of luxury, of wealth, of ambition, he has loft the taste of good-will, of friendship, of innocence. Scarecrow, the beggar in Lincoln's-InnFields, who difabled himself in his right leg, and asks alms all day to get himself a warm fupper and a trull at night, is not half fo defpicable a wretch as fuch a man of fense. The beggar has no relish above
fenfations; he finds reft more agreeable than motion; and while he has a warm fire and his doxy, never reflects that he deferves to be whipped. Every man who terminates his fatisfactions and enjoyments within the fupply of his own neceffities and paffions, is, fays fir ROGER, in my eye, as poor a rogue as Scarecrow. But, continued he, for the lofs of public and private virtue, we are beholden to your men of parts forfooth; it is with them no matter what is done, fo it be done with an air. But to me, who am fo whimsical in a corrupt age as to act according to nature and reason, a felfish man, in the moft fhining circumftance and equipage, appears in the fame condition with the fellow above mentioned, but more contemptible, in proportion to what more he robs the public 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 anyi mportance, is to have a profpect of public good; and that the general tendency of cur indifferent actions, ought to be agreeable to the dictates of reafon, 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 honeft knight was thus bewildering himfelf in good starts, I looked attentively upon him, which made him, I thought, collect his mind a little. What I aim at, fays he, is to reprefent, that I am of opinion, to polish our understandings and neglect our manners, is of all things the most inexcufable. Reason fhould govern paffion, but instead of that, you see, it is often fubfervient to it; and as unaccountable as one would think it, a wife man is not always a good man. This degeneracy is not only the guilt of particular perfons, but also at fome times of a whole people; and perhaps
may appear upon examination that the moft polite ages are the leaft virtuous. This may be attributed to the folly of admitting wit and learning as merit in themselves, without confidering the application of them. By this means it becomes a rule, not fo much to regard what we do, as how we do it. But this falfe beauty will not pass upon men of honeft minds and true tafte. Sir Richard Blackmore fays, with as much good fenfe 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 angelic faculties, is the moft odious being in the whole creation. He goes on foon after to fay very generously, that he undertook the writing of his poem to rescue the mufes out of the hands of ravishers, to restore them to their sweet and chafte manfons, and to engage them in an employment fuitable to their dignity. This certainly ought to be the purpose of every man who appears in public, and whoever does not proceed upon that foundation, injures his country as fast as he fucceeds in his ftudies. When modesty ceases to be the chief ornament of one fex, and integrity of the other, fociety is upon a wrong bafis, and we fhall be ever after without rules to guide our judgment in what is really becoming and ornamental. Nature and reafon direct one thing, paffion and humour another to follow the dictates of these two latter, is going into a road that is both endless and intricate; when we pursue the other, our paffage is delightful, and what we aim at easily attainable..
I do not doubt but England is at prefent as polite a nation as any in the world; but any man who thinks. can easily fee, that the affectation of being gay and in fashion, has very near eaten up our good fenfe and our religion. Is there any thing fo juft, as that mode and gallantry should be built upon exerting ourselves in what is proper and agreeable to the inftitutions of juftice and piety among us? and yet is there any thing more common than that we run in perfect contradiction to them? all which is fupported 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 itself fhould prompt us to think fo. Refpect to all kind of fuperiors is founded, methinks, upon inftinct; and yet what is fo ridiculous as age? I make this abrupt tranfition to the mention of this vice more than any other, in order to introduce a little story,, which I think a pretty inftance that the most polite ageis in danger of being the most vicious..
It happened at Athens, during a public reprefentation of fome play exhibited in honour of the commonwealth, that an old gentleman came too late for a place fuitable to his age and quality. Many of the young gentlemen who obferved the difficulty and confufion he was in, made figns to him that they would accommodate him if he came where they fat: the good man buftled through the crowd accordingly; but 'when he came to the feats to which he was invited, the jeft was to fit clofe, and expofe him, as he stood 'out of countenance, to the whole audience. The frolic went round all the Athenian benches. But on thofe occafions there were alfo particular places affigned for foreigners: when the good man fkulked 'towards the boxes appointed for the Lacedæmonians, 'that honest people, more virtuous than polite, rofe up all to a man, and with the greatest respect received him among them. The Athenians being fuddenly touched with a sense of the Spartan virtue and their own degeneracy, gave a thunder of applaufe; and the old man cried out, The Athenians underftand what is good, but the Lacedæmonians practise it.'
Thursday, March 8.
Somnia, terrores magicos, miracula, fagas,
GOING yesterday to dine with an old acquaint
ance, I had the misfortune to find his whole family very much dejected. Upon asking him the occafion of it, he told me that his wife had dreamt a ftrange dream the night before, which they were afraid portended fome misfortune to themselves or to their children. At her coming into the room I obferved a fettled melancholy in her countenance, which I