Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

themselves escape very narrowly, and they do not know why they should not again. Besides which general way of loose thinking, they usually spend the other part of their time in pleasures upon which their minds are so entirely bent, that short labours or dangers are but a cheap purchase of jollity, triumph, victory, fresh quarters, new scenes, and uncommon adventures. Such are the thoughts of the executive part of an army, and indeed of the gross of mankind in general; but none of these men of mechanical courage have ever made any great figure in the profession of arms. Those who are formed for command, are such as have reasoned themselves out of a consideration of greater good than length of days, into such a negligence of their being, as to make it their first position, that it is one day to be resigned; and since it is, in the prosecution of worthy actions and service of mankind, they can put it to habitual hazard. The event of our designs, say they, as it relates to others, is uncertain; but as it relates to ourselves it must be prosperous, while we are in the pursuit of our duty, and within the terms upon which Providence has insured our happiness, whether we die or live. All that nature has prescribed must be good; and as death is natural to us, it is absurdity to fear it. Fear loses its purpose when we are sure it cannot preserve us, and we should draw resolution to meet it from the impossibility to escape it. Without a resignation to the necessity of dying, there can be no capacity in man to attempt any thing that is glorious: but when they have once attained to that perfection, the pleasures of a life spent in martial adventures are as great as any of which the human mind is capable. The force of reason gives a certain beauty, mixed with the conscience of well-doing and thirst of glory, to all which before was terrible and ghastly to the imagination. Add to this, that the fellowship of danger, the common good of mankind, the general cause, and the manifest virtue you may observe in so many men, who made no figure until that day, are so many incentives to destroy the little consideration of their own persons. Such are the heroic part of soldiers who are qualified for leaders. As to the rest, whom I before spoke of, I know not how it is, but they arrive at a certain habit of being void of thought, insomuch that on occasion of the most imminent danger they are still in the same indifference. Nay, I remember an instance of a gay Frenchman, who was led on in battle by a superior officer, (whose conduct it was his custom to speak of always with contempt and raillery,) and in the beginning of the action received a wound he was sensible was mortal; his reflection on this occasion was, "I wish I could live another hour, to see how this blundering coxcomb will get clear of this business."

""

The Chevalier de Flourilles, a lieutenant general un

der the Prince of Conde, at the battle of Senelf, in 1674.

'I remember two young fellows who rid in the same squadron of a troop of horse, who were ever together; they ate, they drank, they intrigued; in a word, all their passions and affections seemed to tend the same way, and they appeared serviceable to each other in them. We were in the dusk of the evening to march over a river, and the troop these gentlemen belonged to were to be transported in a ferry boat, as fast as they could. One of the friends was now in the boat, while the other was drawn up with others by the water-side, waiting the return of the boat. A disorder happened in the passage by an unruly horse; and a gentleman who had the rein of his horse negligently under his arm, was forced into the water by his horse jumping over. The friend on the shore cried out, "Who is that is drowned, trow?" He was immediately answered, “Your friend, Harry Thompson." He very gravely replied, "Ay, he had a mad horse." This short epitaph from such a familiar, without more words, gave me, at that time under twenty, a very moderate opinion of the friendship of companions. Thus is affection and every other motive of life in the generality rooted out by the present busy scene about them: they lament no man whose capacity can be supplied by another; and where men converse without delicacy, the next man you meet will serve as well as he whom you have lived with half your life. To such the devastation of countries, the misery of inhabitants, the cries of the pillaged, and the silent sorrow of the great unfortunate, are ordinary objects; their minds are bent upon the little gratifications of their own senses and appetites, forgetful of compassion, insensible of glory; avoiding only shame; their whole hearts taken up with the trivial hope of meeting and being merry. These are the people who make up the gross of the soldiery. But the fine gentleman in that band of men is such a one as I have now in my eye, who is foremost in all danger to which he is ordered. His officers are his friends and companions, as they are men of honour and gentlemen; the private men his brethren, as they are of his species. He is beloved of all that behold him. They wish him in danger as he views their ranks, that they may have occasion to save him at their own hazard. Mutual love is the order of the files where he commands; every man afraid for himself and his neighbour, not lest their commander should punish them, but lest he should be offended. Such is his regiment who knows mankind, and feels their distresses so far as to prevent them. Just in distributing what is their due, he would think himself below their tailor to wear a snip of their clothes in lace upon his own; and below the most rapacious agent, should he enjoy a farthing above his own pay. Go on, brave man, immortal glory is thy fortune, and immortal happiness thy reward.'

T.

| Providence) fretting at the course of things, and being almost the sole malcontent in the creation. But let us a little reflect upon what he has lost by the number of years. The passions which he had in youth are not to be obeyed as they were then, but reason is more powerful now, without the disturbance of them. An old gentleman, the other day, in discourse with a friend of his (reflecting upon some adventures they had in youth together) cried out, ‘Oh, Jack, those were happy days!'- That is true,' replied his friend, but methinks we go about our business more quietly than we did then.' One would think it should be no small satisfaction to have gone so far in our journey that the heat of the day is over with us. When life itself is a fever, as it is in licentious youth, the pleasures of it are no other than the dreams of a man in that distemper; and it is as absurd to wish the return of that season of life, as for a man in health to be sorry for the loss of gilded palaces, fairy walks, and flowery pastures, with which he remembers he was entertained in the troubled slumbers of a fit of sickness.

Of all the impertinent wishes which we hear expressed in conversation, there is not one more unworthy a gentleman or a man of liberal education, than that of wishing one's self younger. I have observed this wish is usually made upon sight of some object which gives the idea of a past action, that it is no dishonour to us that we cannot now repeat: or else on what was in itself shameful when we performed it. It is a certain sign of a foolish or a dissolute mind if we want our youth again only for the strength of bones and sinews which we once were masters of. It is (as my author has it) as absurd in an old man to wish for the strength of a youth, as it would be in a young man to wish for the strength of a bull or a horse. These wishes are both equally As to all the rational and worthy pleaout of nature, which should direct in all sures of our being, the conscience of a good things that are not contradictory to justice, fame, the contemplation of another life, the law, and reason. But though every old respect and commerce of honest men, our man has been young, and every young one capacities for such enjoyments are enlarged hopes to be old, there seems to be a most by years. While health endures, the fatunnatural misunderstanding between those ter part of life, in the eye of reason, is certwo stages of life. This unhappy want of tainly the more eligible. The memory of commerce arises from the insolent arro- a well-spent youth gives a peaceable, ungance or exultation in youth, and the irra-mixed, and elegant pleasure to the mind; tional despondence or self-pity in age. A and to such who are so unfortunate as not to young man whose passion and ambition is be able to look back on youth with satisfacto be good and wise, and an old one who has tion, they may give themselves no little conno inclination to be lewd or debauched, are solation that they are under no temptation quite unconcerned in this speculation; but to repeat their follies, and that they at prethe cocking young fellow who treads upon sent despise them. It was prettily said, the toes of his elders, and the old fool who He that would be long an old man, must envies the saucy pride he sees him in, are begin early to be one.' It is too late to rethe objects of our present contempt and de- sign a thing after a man is robbed of it; rision. Contempt and derision are harsh therefore it is necessary that before the arwords; but in what manner can one give rival of age we bid adieu to the pursuits of advice to a youth in the pursuit and pos- youth, otherwise sensual habits will live in session of sensual pleasures, or afford pity our imaginations, when our limbs cannot be to an old man in the impotence and desire subservient to them. The poor fellow who of enjoying them? When young men in lost his arm last siege, will tell you he feels public places betray in their deportment an the fingers that are buried in Flanders ache abandoned resignation to their appetites, every cold morning at Chelsea. they give to sober minds a prospect of a despicable age, which, if not interrupted by death in the midst of their follies, must certainly come. When an old man bewails the loss of such gratifications which are passed, he discovers a monstrous inclina-qualifications of youth, but this in both tion to that which it is not in the course of sexes is inverting all things, and turning Providence to recall. The state of an old the natural course of our minds, which man, who is dissatisfied merely for his be- should build their approbations and dislike ing such, is the most out of all measures of upon what nature and reason dictate, into reason and good sense of any being we have chimera and confusion. any account of, from the highest angel to the lowest worm. How miserable is the contemplation to consider a libidinous old man (while all created beings, besides himself and devils, are following the order of

The fond humour of appearing in the gay and fashionable world, and being applauded for trivial excellences, is what makes youth have age in contempt, and makes age resign with so ill a grace the

No. 153.] Saturday, August 25, 1711.

Habet natura ut aliarum omnium rerum sic vivendi modum, senectus autem peractio ætatis est tanquam fabulæ. Cujus defatigationem fugere debemus, præser tim adjuncta satietate. Tull. de Senect.

Life, as well as all other things, bath its bounds as signed by nature; and its conclusion, like the last act of a play, is old age; the fatigue of which we ought to shun, especially when our appetites are fully satisfied.

Age in a virtuous person, of either sex, carries in it an authority which makes it preferable to all the pleasures of youth. If to be saluted, attended, and consulted with deference, are instances of pleasure, they

trary character, who never thought in his life, rallied me one day upon it, and said he believed I was still a virgin.' There was a young lady of virtue present, and I was not displeased to favour the insinuation; but it had a quite contrary effect from what I expected. I was ever after treated with great coldness both by that lady and all the rest of my acquaintance. In a very little time I never came into a room but I could hear a whisper, 'Here comes the maid.' A girl of humour would on some occasion say,

are such as never fail a virtuous old age. | In the enumeration of the imperfections and advantages of the younger and later years of man, they are so near in their condition, that, methinks, it should be incredible we see so little commerce of kindness between them. If we consider youth and age with Tully, regarding the affinity to death, youth has many more chances to be near it than age; what youth can say more than an old man, He shall live until night?" Youth catches distempers more easily, its sickness is more violent, and its recovery more doubt-Why, how do you know more than any of ful. The youth indeed hopes for many us? An expression of that kind was genemore days, so cannot the old man. The rally followed by a loud laugh. In a word, youth's hopes are ill grounded; for what is for no other fault in the world than that more foolish than to place any confidence they really thought me as innocent as themupon an uncertainty? But the old man has selves, I became of no consequence among not room so much as to hope; he is still them, and was received always upon the happier than the youth, he has already en- foot of a jest. This made so strong an imjoyed what the other does but hope for. pression upon me, that I resolved to be as One wishes to live long, the other has lived agreeable as the best of the men who laughed long. But alas, is there any thing in human at me: but I observed it was nonsense for life, the duration of which can be called me to be impudent at first among those who long? There is nothing which must end, to knew me. My character for modesty was be valued for its continuance. If hours, so notorious wherever I had hitherto apdays, months and years pass away, it is no peared, that I resolved to show my new matter what hour, what day, what month, face in new quarters of the world. My first or what year we die. The applause of a step I chose with judgment; for I went to good actor is due to him at whatever scene Astrop, and came down among a crowd of the play he makes his exit. It is thus in of academics, at one dash, the impudentest the life of a man of sense, a short life is suf- fellow they had ever seen in their lives. ficient to manifest himself a man of honour Flushed with this success, I made love and and virtue; when he ceases to be such he was happy. Upon this conquest I thought has lived too long, and while he is such, it it would be unlike a gentleman to stay long is of no consequence to him how long he with my mistress, and crossed the country shall be so, provided he is so to his life's to Bury. I could give you a very good end. T. account of myself at that place also. At these two ended my first summer of gallantry. The winter following, you would wonder at it, but I relapsed into modesty upon coming among people of figure in London, yet not so much but that the ladies who had formerly laughed at me, said, 'Bless us! how wonderfully that gentleman is improved!' Some familiarities about the playhouses towards the end of the ensuing winter, made me conceive new hopes of adventures. And instead of returning the next summer to Astrop or Bury, I thought

'MR. SPECTATOR,-You are frequent in the mention of matters which concern the feminine world, and take upon you to be very severe against men upon all those occasions: but all this while I am afraid you have been very little conversant with wo-myself qualified to go to Epsom, and folmen, or you would know the generality of lowed a young woman, whose relations were them are not so angry as you imagine at the jealous of my place in her favour, to Scargeneral vices among us. I am apt to believe borough. I carried my point, and in my (begging your pardon) that you are still third year aspired to go to Tunbridge, and what I myself was once, a queer modest in the autumn of the same year made my fellow; and therefore, for your information, appearance at Bath. I was now got into shall give you a short account of myself, the way of talk proper for ladies, and was and the reasons why I was forced to wench, run into a vast acquaintance among them, drink, play, and do every thing which are which I always improved to the best adnecessary to the character of a man of wit vantage. In all this course of time, and some and pleasure, to be well with the ladies. years following, I found a sober modest man was always looked upon by both sexes as a precise unfashioned fellow of no life or spirit. It was ordinary for a man who had been drunk in good company, or passed a

You are to know then that I was bred a gentleman, and had the finishing part of my education under a man of great probity, wit, and learning, in one of our universities. I will not deny but this made my behaviour and mien bear in it a figure of thought rather than action; and a man of a quite con

No. 154.] Monday, August 27, 1711.
Nemo repente fuit turpissimus Juv. Sat. ii. 13.
No man e'er reach'd the heights of vice at first.

Tate.

1

*Astrop Wells in Oxfordshire.

† Bury-fair. A place of fashionable resort.

night with a wench, to speak of it next day before women for whom he had the greatest respect. He was reproved, perhaps, with a blow of the fan, or with an 'oh fy!' but the angry lady still preserved an apparent approbation in her countenance. He was called a strange wicked fellow, a sad wretch; he shrugs his shoulders, swears, receives another blow, swears again he did not know he swore, and all was well. You might often see men game in the presence of women, and throw at once for more than they were worth, to recommend themselves as men of spirit. I found by long experience that the loosest principles and most abandoned behaviour, carried all before them in pretensions to women of fortune. The encouragement given to people of this stamp, made me soon throw off the remaining im- No. 155.] Tuesday, August 28, 1711. pressions of a sober education. In the abovementioned places, as well as in town, I always kept company with those who lived most at large; and in the process of time I was a pretty rake among the men, and a very pretty fellow among the women. I indecent license taken in discourse, wherein must confess I had some melancholy hours the conversation on one part is involuntary, upon the account of the narrowness of my and the effect of some necessary circumfortune, but my conscience at the same time gave me the comfort that I had quali-gether in the same hired coach, sitting near stances. This happens in travelling tofied myself for marrying a fortune. "When I had lived in this manner for each other in any public assembly, or the some time, and became thus accomplished, this sort, received innumerable messages like. I have, upon making observations of I was now in the twenty-seventh year of from that part of the fair sex whose lot in my age, and about the forty-seventh of my life it is to be of any trade or public way of constitution, my health and estate wasting very fast; when I happened to fall into the company of a very pretty young lady, in her own disposal. I entertained the company as we men of gallantry generally do, with the many haps and disasters, watchings

I HAVE more than once taken notice of an

life. They are all, to a woman, urgent with me to lay before the world the unhappy reasonable liberty which is taken in their circumstances they are under, from the unthought fit by every coxcomb who wants presence, to talk on what subject it is

'MR. SPECTATOR,-I keep a coffeehouse, and am one of those whom you have thought fit to mention as an idol some time ago. I suffered a good deal of raillery upon that occasion; but shall heartily forgive you, who are the cause of it, if you will do me justice in another point. What I ask of you is to acquaint my customers (who are otherwise very good ones) that I am unavoidably hasped in my bar, and cannot help hearing the improper discourses they are pleased to

under windows, escapes from jealous hus-understanding or breeding. One or two of bands, and several other perils. The young these complaints I shall set down. thing was wonderfully charmed with one that knew the world so well, and talked so fine; with Desdemona, all her lover said affected her; It was strange, it was wondrous strange. In a word, I saw the impression I had made upon her, and with a very little application the pretty thing has married me. There is so much charm in her innocence and beauty, that I do now as much detest the course I have been in for many years, as I ever did before I entered into it. "What I intend, Mr. Spectator, by writ-entertain me with. They strive who shall ing all this to you, is that you would, before say the most immodest things in my hear you go any further with your panegyrics on ing. At the same time half a dozen of them the fair sex, give them some lectures upon loll at the bar, staring just in my face, ready their silly approbations. It is that I am to interpret my looks and gestures, accordweary of vice, and that it was not my natu- ing to their own imaginations. In this pasral way, that I am now so far recovered as sive condition I know not where to cast my not to bring this believing dear creature to eyes, place my hands, or what to employ contempt and poverty for her generosity to myself in. But this confusion is but a jest, me. At the same time tell the youth of and I hear them say in the end, with an good education of our sex, that they take insipid air of mirth and subtlety, 'Let her too little care of improving themselves in alone, she knows as well as we, for all she little things. A good air at entering into a looks so. Good Mr. Spectator, persuade room, a proper audacity in expressing him- gentlemen that it is out of all decency. Say self with gaiety and gracefulness, would it is possible a woman may be modest and

make a young gentleman of virtue and sense capable of discountenancing the shallow impudent rogues, that shine among the women.

'Mr. Spectator, I do not doubt but you are a very sagacious person, but you are so great with Tully of late, that I fear you will contemn these things as matters of no con sequence: but believe me, sir, they are of the highest importance to human life; and if you can do any thing towards opening fair eyes, you will lay an obligation upon all your contemporaries, who are fathers, husbands, or brothers to females. Your most affectionate humble servant,

T.

SIMON HONEYCOMB.'

-He nuge seria ducunt
In mala-
Her. Ars Poet. v. 451.
These things, which now seem frivolous and slight,
Will prove of serious consequence.-Roscommon.

yet keep a public-house. Be pleased to argue, that in truth the affront is the more unpardonable because I am obliged to suffer it, and cannot fly from it. I do assure you, sir, the cheerfulness of life which would arise from the honest gain I have, is utterly lost to me, from the endless, flat, impertinent pleasantries which I hear from morning to night. In a word, it is too much for me to bear; and I desire you to acquaint them, that I will keep pen and ink at the bar, and write down all they say to me, and send it to you for the press. It is possible when they see how empty what they speak, without the advantage of an impudent countenance and gesture, will appear, they may come to some sense of themselves, and the insults they are guilty of towards me. I am, sir, your most humble servant, THE IDOL.'

This representation is so just, that it is hard to speak of it without an indignation which perhaps would appear too elevated to such as can be guilty of this inhuman treatment, where they see they affront a modest, plain, and ingenuous behaviour. This correspondent is not the only sufferer in this kind, for I have long letters both from the Royal and New-Exchange on the same subject. They tell me that a young fop cannot buy a pair of gloves, but he is at the same time straining for some ingenious ribaldry to say to the young woman who helps them on. It is no small addition to the calamity, that the rogues buy as hard as the plainest and modestest customers they have; besides which they loll upon the counters half an hour longer than they need, to drive away other customers, who are to share their impertinences with the milliner, or go to another's shop. Letters from 'Change-alley are full of the same evil; and the girls tell me, except I can chase some eminent merchants from their shops, they shall in a short time fail. It is very unaccountable, that men can have so little deference to all mankind who pass by them, as to bear being seen toying by twos and threes at a time, with no other purpose but to appear gay enough to keep up a light conversation of common-place jests, to the injury of her whose credit is certainly hurt by it, though their own may be strong enough to bear it. When we come to have exact accounts of these conversations, it is not to be doubted but that their discourses will raise the usual style of buying and selling. Instead of the plain downright lying, and asking and bidding so unequally to what they will really give and take, we may hope to have from these fine folks an exchange of compliments. There must certainly be a great deal of pleasant difference between the commerce of lovers, and that of all other dealers, who are, in a kind, adversaries. A sealed bond or a bank-note, would be a pretty gallantry to convey unseen into the hands of one whom a director is

charmed with; otherwise the city-loiterers are still more unreasonable than those at the other end of the town. At the NewExchange they are eloquent for want of cash, but in the city they ought with cash to supply their want of eloquence.

If one might be serious on this prevailing folly, one might observe, that it is a melancholy thing, when the world is mercenary even to the buying and selling our very persons; that young women, though they have never so great attractions from nature, are never the nearer being happily disposed of in marriage; I say it is very hard under this necessity, it shall not be possible for them to go into a way of trade for their maintenance, but their very excellences and personal perfections shall be a disadvantage to them, and subject them to be treated as if they stood there to sell their persons to prostitution. There cannot be a more melancholy circumstance to one who has made any observation in the world, than one of those erring creatures exposed to bankruptcy. When that happens, none of those toying fools will do any more than any other man they meet to preserve her from infamy, insult and distemper. A woman is naturally more helpless than the other sex; and a man of honour and sense should have this in his view in all manner of commerce with her. Were this well weighed, in consideration, ribaldry and nonsense would not be more natural to entertain women with than men; and it would be as much impertinence to go into a shop of one of these young women without buying, as into that of any other trader. I shall end this speculation with a letter I have received from a pretty milliner in the city.

'MR. SPECTATOR,-I have read your account of beauties, and was not a little surprised to find no character of myself in it. I do assure you I have little else to do but to give audience, as I am such. Here are merchants of no small consideration, who call in as certainly as they go to 'Change, to say something of my roguish eye. And here is one who makes me once or twice a week tumble over all my goods, and then owns it was only a gallantry to see me act with these pretty hands; then lays out three-pence in a little riband for his wristbands, and thinks he is a man of great vivacity. There is an ugly thing not far off me, whose shop is frequented only by people of business, that is all day long as busy as possible. Must I that am a beauty be treated with for nothing but my beauty? Be pleased to assign rates to my kind glances, or make all pay who come to see me, or I shall be undone by my admirers for want of customers. Albacinda, Eudosia, and all the rest, would be used just as we are, if they were in our condition; therefore pray consider the distress of us, the lower order of beauties, and I shall be your obliged humble servant.'

T.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »