« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
play, and sit up at cards till towards the ensuing morn; and the malicious world shall draw conclusions from innocent glances, short whispers, or pretty familiar railleries with fashionable men, that these fair ones are not as rigid as vestals. It is certain, say these goodest' creatures, very well, that virtue does not consist in constrained behaviour and wry faces; that must be allowed: but there is a decency in the aspect and manner of ladies, contracted from a habit of virtue, and from general reflections that regard a modest conduct, all which may be understood, though they cannot be described. A young woman of this sort claims an esteem mixed with affection and honour, and meets with no defamation; or, if she does, the wild malice is overcome with an undisturbed perseverance in her innocence. To speak freely, there are such coveys of coquettes about this town, that if the peace were not kept by some impertinent tongues of their own sex, which keep them under some restraint, we should have no manner of engagement upon them to keep them in any tolerable order.
As I am a Spectator, and behold how plainly one part of woman-kind balance the behaviour of the other, whatever I may think of tale-bearers or slanderers, I cannot wholly suppress them, no more than a general would discourage spies. The enemy would easily surprise him whom they knew had no intelligence of their motions. It is so far otherwise with me, that I acknowledge I permit a she-slanderer or two in every quarter of the town, to live in the characters of coquettes, and take all the innocent freedoms of the rest, in order to send me information of the behaviour of the respective sisterhoods.
But as the matter of respect to the world which looks on, is carried on, methinks it is so very easy to be what is in general called virtuous, that it need not cost one hour's reflection in a month to deserve that appellation. It is pleasant to hear the pretty rogues talk of virtue and vice among each other. She is the laziest creature in the world, but I must confess, strictly virtuous; the peevishest hussy breathing, but as to her virtue, she is without blemish. She has not the least charity for any of her acquaintance, but I must allow her rigidly virtuous. As the unthinking part of the male world call every man a man of honour who is not a coward; so the crowd of the other sex terms every woman who will not be a wench, virtuous.
Thursday, May 29, 1712.
-Non tu prece poscis emaci,
At bona pars procerum tacita libabit acerra. [susurros
Ebullit patrui præclarum funus! Et O si
-Thou know'st to join
No bribe unhallow'd to a prayer of thine;
See my rich uncle's pompous funeral rise;
WHERE Homer represents Phoenix, the tutor of Achilles, as persuading his pupil to lay aside his resentment, and give himself up to the entreaties of his countrymen, the poet, in order to make him speak in character, ascribes to him a speech full of those fables and allegories which old men take delight in relating, and which are very proper for instruction. The gods,' says he, * suffer themselves to be prevailed upon by entreaties. When mortals have offended them by their transgressions, they appease them by vows and sacrifices. You must know, Achilles, that prayers are the daughters of Jupiter. They are crippled by frequently kneeling, have their faces full of scars and wrinkles, and their eyes always cast towards heaven. They are constant attendants on the goddess Ate, and march behind her. This goddess walks forward with a bold and haughty air; and, being very light of foot, runs through the whole earth, grieving and afflicting the sons of men. She gets the start of Prayers, who always follow her, in order to heal those persons whom she wounds. He who honours these daughters of Jupiter, when they draw near to him, receives great benefit from them; but as for him who rejects them, they entreat their father to give his orders to the goddess Ate, to punish him for his hardness of heart.' This noble allegory needs but little explanation; for, whether the goddess Ate signifies injury, as some have explained it; or guilt in general, as others; or divine justice, as I am more apt to think; the interpretation is obvious enough.
I shall produce another heathen fable relating to prayers, which is of a more diverting kind. One would think by some passages in it, that it was composed by Lucian, or at least by some author who has endeavoured to imitate his way of writing; but as dissertations of this nature are more curious than useful, I shall give my reader the fable, without any further inquiries after the author.
'Menippus the philosopher was a second Illa sibi introrsum et sub lingua immurmurat: O si time taken up into heaven by Jupiter, when VOL. II.
for his entertainment, he lifted up a trap-| he desires me to take his father, who keeps door that was placed by his footstool. At a great estate from him, out of the miseries its rising, there issued through it such a of human life. The old fellow shall live din of cries as astonished the philosopher. till he makes his heart ache, I can tell him Upon his asking what they meant, Jupiter that for his pains." This was followed up told him they were the prayers that were by the soft voice of a pious lady, desiring sent up to him from the earth. Menippus, Jupiter that she might appear amiable and amidst the confusion of voices, which was charming in the sight of her emperor. As so great that nothing less than the ear of the philosopher was reflecting on this exJove could distinguish them, heard the traordinary petition, there blew a gentle words "riches, honour," and "long life," wind through the trap-door which he at repeated in several different tones and Ian- first took for a gentle gale of zephyrs, but guages. When the first hubbub of sounds afterwards found it to be a breeze of sighs. was over, the trap-door being left open, They smelt strong of flowers and incense, the voices came up more separate and dis- and were succeeded by most passionate tinct. The first prayer was a very odd one; complaints of wounds and torments, fire it came from Athens, and desired Jupiter and arrows, cruelty, despair and death. to increase the wisdom and beard of his Menippus fancied that such lamentable humble supplicant. Menippus knew it by cries arose from some general execution, the voice to be the prayer of his friend Li- or from wretches lying under the torture; cander the philosopher. This was succeed- but Jupiter told him that they came up to ed by the petition of one who had just laden him from the isle of Paphos, and that he a ship, and promised Jupiter, if he took every day received complaints of the same care of it, and returned it home again full nature from that whimsical tribe of mortals of riches, he would make him an offering who are called lovers. "I am so trifled of a silver cup. Jupiter thanked him for with," says he, "by this generation of both nothing; and bending down his ear more sexes, and find it so impossible to please attentively than ordinary, heard a voice them, whether I grant or refuse their peticomplaining to him of the cruelty of an tions, that I shall order a western wind for Ephesian widow, and begged him to breed the future to intercept them in their pascompassion in her heart. "This," says sage, and blow them at random upon the Jupiter, "is a very honest fellow. I have earth." The last petition I heard was from received a great deal of incense from him; a very aged man of near a hundred years I will not be so cruel to him as not to hear old, begging but for one year more of life, his prayers. He was then interrupted and then promising to be contented. "This with a whole volley of vows which were is the rarest old fellow!" says Jupiter; "he made for the health of a tyrannical prince has made this prayer to me for above by his subjects, who prayed for him in his twenty years together. When he was but presence. Menippus was surprised after fifty years old, he desired only that he having listened to prayers offered up with might live to see his son settled in the world: so much ardour and devotion, to hear low I granted it. He then begged the same fawhispers from the same assembly, expos-vour for his daughter, and afterwards that tulating with Jove for suffering such a he might see the education of a grandson. tyrant to live, and asking him how his When all this was brought about, he puts thunder could lie idle? Jupiter was so up a petition that he might live to finish a offended with these prevaricating rascals, house he was building. In short, he is an that he took down the first vows, and puffed unreasonable old cur, and never wants an away the last. The philosopher, seeing a excuse; I will hear no more of him." Upon great cloud mounting upwards, and making which he flung down the trap-door in a its way directly to the trap-door, inquired passion, and was resolved to give no more of Jupiter what it meant. "This," says audiences that day." Jupiter, "is the smoke of a whole hecatomb that is offered me by the general of an army, who is very importunate with me to let him cut off a hundred thousand men that are drawn up in array against him. What does the impudent wretch think see in him, to believe that I will make a sacrifice of so many mortals as good as himself, and all this to his glory forsooth? But hark!" says Jupiter, "there is a voice I never heard but in time of danger: 'tis a rogue that is shipwrecked in the Ionian sea. I saved him on a plank but three days ago upon his promise to mend his manners; the scoundrel is not worth a groat, and yet has the impudence to offer me a temple, if 1 will keep him from sinking.-But yonder," says he, "is a special youth for you;
Notwithstanding the levity of this fable, the moral of it very well deserves our attention, and is the same with that which has been inculcated by Socrates and Plato, not to mention Juvenal and Persius, who have each of them made the finest satire in their whole works upon this subject. The vanity of men's wishes which are the natural prayers of the mind, as well as many of those secret devotions which they offer to the Supreme Being, are sufficiently exposed by it. Among other reasons for set forms of prayer, I have often thought it a very good one, that by this means the folly and extravagance of men's desires may be kept within due bounds, and not break out in absurd and ridiculous petitions on so great and solemn an occasion,
No. 392.] Friday, May 30, 1712.
'Per ambages et ministeria deorum recipitandus est liber spiritus.
By fable's aid ungovern'd fancy soars,
to me, that is was pleasantly said, had I been little enough, she would have hung me at her girdle. The most dangerous rival I had, was a gay empty fellow, who by the strength of a long intercourse with
The transformation of Fidelio into a look- Narcissa, joined to his natural endowments,
'MR. SPECTATOR,-I was lately at a tea-table, where some young ladies entertained the company with a relation of a coquette in the neighbourhood, who had been discovered practising before her glass. To turn the discourse, which from being witty grew to be malicious, the matron of the family took occasion from the subject to wish that there were to be found amongst men such faithful monitors to dress the mind by, as we consult to adorn the body. She added, that if a sincere friend were miraculously changed into a looking-glass, she should not be ashamed to ask its advice very often. This whimsical thought worked so much upon my fancy the whole evening, that it produced a very odd dream.
had formed himself into a perfect resemblance with her. I had been discarded, had she not observed that he frequently asked my opinion about matters of the last consequence. This made me still more considerable in her eye,
"Though I was eternally caressed by the ladies, such was their opinion of my honour, that I was never envied by the men. A jealous lover of Narcissa one day thought he had caught her in an amorous conversation: for, though he was at such a distance that he could hear nothing, he imagined strange things from her airs and gestures. Sometimes with a serene look she stepped back in a listening posture, and brightened into an innocent smile. Quickly after she swelled into an air of majesty and disdain, then kept her eyes half shut after a languishing manner, then covered her blushes with her hand, breathed a sigh, and seemed ready to sink down. In rushed the furious lover; but how great was his surprise to see no one there but the innocent Fidelio with his back against the wall betwixt two windows!
Methought that, as I stood before my glass, the image of a youth of an open ingenuous aspect appeared in it, who with a shrill voice spoke in the following manner: "The looking-glass you see was heretofore a man, even I, the unfortunate Fidelio. I had two brothers, whose deformity in shape was made up by the clearness of their "It were endless to recount all my adunderstanding. It must be owned, how-ventures. Let me hasten to that which ever, that (as it generally happens) they cost me my life, and Narcissa her happihad each a perverseness of humour suitable ness. to their distortion of body. The eldest, whose belly sunk in monstrously, was a great coward, and, though his splenetic contracted temper made him take fire immediately, he made objects that beset him appear greater than they were. The second, whose breast swelled into a bold relievo, on the contrary, took great pleasure in lessening every thing, and was perfectly the reverse of his brother. These oddnesses pleased company once or twice, but disgusted when often seen; for which reason, the young gentlemen were sent from court to study mathematics at the university.
I need not acquaint you, that I was very well made, and reckoned a bright polite gentleman. I was the confidant and darling of all the fair; and if the old and ugly spoke ill of me, all the world knew it was because I scorned to flatter them. No ball, no assembly, was attended till I had been consulted. Flavia coloured her hair_before me, Celia showed me her teeth, Panthea heaved her bosom, Cleora brandished her diamond; I have seen Cloe's foot, and tied artificially the garters of Rhodope.
"It is a general maxim, that those who dote upon themselves can have no violent affection for another; but on the contrary, I found that the women's passion rose for me in proportion to the love they bore to themselves. This was verified in my amour with Narcissa, who was so constant
"She had the misfortune to have the small-pox, upon which I was expressly forbid her sight, it being apprehended that it would increase her distemper, and that I should infallibly catch it at the first look. As soon as she was suffered to leave her bed, she stole out of her chamber, and found me all alone in an adjoining apartment. She ran with transport to her darling, and without mixture of fear lest I should dislike her. But, oh me! what was her fury when she heard me say, I was afraid and shocked at so loathsome a spectacle! She stepped back, swollen with rage, to see if I had the insolence to repeat it. I did, with this addition, that her ill-timed passion had increased her ugliness. Enraged, inflamed, distracted, she snatched a bodkin, and with all her force stabbed me to the heart. Dying, I preserved my sincerity, and expressed the truth though in broken words; and by reproachful grimaces to the last I mimicked the deformity of my murderess.
Cupid, who always attends the fair, and pitied the fate of so useful a servant as I was, obtained of the destinies, that my body should remain incorruptible, and retain the qualities my mind had possessed. I immediately lost the figure of a man, and became smooth, polished, and bright, and to this day am the first favourite of the ladies."
No. 393.] Saturday, May 31, 1712.
LOOKING Over the letters that have been sent me, I chanced to find the following one, which I received about two years ago from an ingenious friend who was then in Denmark.
'Copenhagen, May 1, 1710.
through the mind of the beholder, upon
Blossoms and fruits at once a golden bue
'DEAR SIR,-The spring with you has already taken possession of the fields and woods. Now is the season of solitude, and of moving complaints upon trivial sufferings. Now the griefs of lovers begin to of the creature, and represented the barMany authors have written on the vanity flow, and the wounds to bleed afresh. I, too, at this distance from the softer climates, renness of every thing in this world, and its am not without my discontents at present. stantial happiness. As discourses of this incapacity of producing any solid or subYou may perhaps laugh at me for a most romantic wretch, when I have disclosed to nature are very useful to the sensual and you the occasion of my uneasiness: and yet the bright side of things, and lay forth voluptuous, those speculations which show I cannot help thinking my unhappiness real, in being confined to a region which those innocent entertainments which are to is the very reverse of Paradise. The seasons be met with among the several objects that here are all of them unpleasant, and the encompass us, are no less beneficial to men. country quite destitute of rural charms. I of dark and melancholy tempers. It was have not heard a bird sing, nor a brook for this reason that I endeavoured to remurmur, nor a breeze whisper, neither commend a cheerfulness of mind in my two have I been blest with the sight of a flow-last Saturday's papers, and which I would ery meadow, these two years. Every wind still inculcate, not only from the considerahere is a tempest, and every water a tur- tion of ourselves, and of that Being on whom bulent ocean. I hope, when you reflect we depend, nor from the general survey of that universe in which we are placed at little, you will not think the grounds of my complaint in the least frivolous and unbe- present, but from reflections on the parcoming a man of serious thought; since the ticular season in which this paper is writlove of woods, of fields and flowers, of rivers ten. The creation is a perpetual feast to and fountains, seems to be a passion im- the mind of a good man; every thing he sees planted in our natures the most early of any, cheers and delights him. Providence has even before the fair sex had a being. imprinted so many smiles on nature, that it is impossible for a mind which is not sunk am, sir, &c. in more gross and sensual delights, to take a survey of them without several secret sensations of pleasure. The psalmist has, in several of his divine poems, celebrated those beautiful and agreeable scenes which make the heart glad, and produce in it that vernal delight which I have before taken notice of.
Could I transport myself with a wish, from one country to another, I should choose to pass my winter in Spain, my spring in Italy, my summer in England, and my autumn in France. Of all these seasons there is none that can vie with the spring for beauty and delightfulness. It bears the same figure among the seasons of the year, that the morning does among the divisions of the day, or youth among the stages of life. The English summer is pleasanter than that of any other country in Europe, on no other account but because it has a greater mixture of spring in it. The mildness of our climate, with those frequent refreshments of dews and rains that fall among us, keep up a perpetual cheerfulness in our fields, and fill the hottest months of the year with a lively verdure.
In the opening of the spring, when all nature begins to recover herself, the same animal pleasure which makes the birds sing, and the whole brute creation rejoice, rises very sensibly in the heart of man. I know none of the poets who have observed so well as Milton those secret overflowings of gladness which diffuse themselves
Natural philosophy quickens this taste of the creation, and renders it not only pleasing to the imagination, but to the understanding. It does not rest in the murmur of brooks and the melody of birds, in the shade of groves and woods, or in the embroidery of fields and meadows; but considers the several ends of Providence which are served by them, and the wonders of divine wisdom which appear in them. It heightens the pleasures of the eye, and raises such a rational admiration in the soul as is little inferior to devotion.
It is not in the power of every one to offer up this kind of worship to the great Author of nature, and to indulge these more refined meditations of heart, which are doubtless highly acceptable in his sight; I shall therefore conclude this short essay on that pleasure which the mind naturally
conceives from the present season of the year, by the recommending of a practice for which every one has sufficient abilities. I would have my readers endeavour to moralize this natural pleasure of the soul, and to improve this vernal delight, as Milton calls it, into a Christian virtue. When we find ourselves inspired with this pleasing instinct, this secret satisfaction and complacency arising from the beauties of the creation, let us consider to whom we stand indebted for all these entertainments of sense, and who it is that thus opens his hand and fills the world with good. The apostle instructs us to take advantage of our present temper of mind, to graft upon it such a religious exercise as is particularly conformable to it, by that precept which advises those who are sad to pray, and those who are merry to sing psalms. The cheerfulness of heart which springs up in us from the survey of nature's works, is an admirable preparation for gratitude. The mind has gone a great way towards praise and thanksgiving, that is filled with such secret gladness-a grateful reflection on the supreme cause who produces it, sanctifies it in the soul, and gives it its proper value. Such an habitual disposition of mind consecrates every field and wood, turns an ordinary walk into a morning or evening sacrifice, and will improve those transient gleams of joy which naturally brighten up and refresh the soul on such occasions, into an inviolable and perpetual state of bliss and happiness.
It is obvious to see, that these things are very accept
able to children, young women, and servants, and to such as most resemble servants; but that they can by no means meet with the approbation of people of thought and consideration.
I HAVE been considering the little and frivolous things which give men accesses to one another, and power with each other, not only in the common and indifferent accidents of life, but also in matters of greater importance. You see in elections for members to sit in parliament, how far saluting rows of old women, drinking with clowns, and being upon a level with the lowest part of mankind in that wherein they themselves are lowest, their diversions, will carry a candidate. A capacity for prostituting a man's self in his behaviour, and descending to the present humour of the vulgar, is perhaps as good an ingredient as any other for making a considerable figure in the world; and if a man has nothing else or better to think of, he could not make his way to wealth and distinction by properer methods, than studying the particular bent or inclination of people with whom he con
verses, and working from the observation of such their bias in all matters wherein he has any intercourse with them: for his ease and comfort he may assure himself, he need not be at the expense of any great talent or virtue to please even those who are possessed of the highest qualifications. Pride, in some particular disguise or other, (often a secret to the proud man himself) is the most ordinary spring of action among men. You need no more than to discover what a man values himself for; then of all things admire that quality, but be sure to be failing in it yourself in comparison of the man whom you court. I have heard, or read, of a secretary of state in Spain, who served a prince who was happy in an elegant use of the Latin tongue, and often writ despatches in it with his own hand. The king showed his secretary a letter he had written to a foreign prince, and, under the colour of asking his advice, laid a trap for his applause. The honest man read it as a faithful counsellor, and not only excepted against his tying himself down too much by some expressions, but mended the phrase in others. You may guess the despatches that evening did not take much longer time. Mr. Secretary as soon as he came to his own house, sent for his eldest son, and communicated to him that the family must retire out of Spain as soon as possible: 'for,' said he, the king knows I understand Latin better than he does.'
This egregious fault in a man of the world should be a lesson to all who would make their fortunes; but regard must be carefully had to the person with whom you have to do; for it is not to be doubted but a great man of common sense must look with secret indignation, or bridled laughter, on all the slaves who stand around him with ready faces to approve and smile at all he says in the gross.
observe a superior talking half sentences, It is good comedy enough to and playing an humble admirer's countenance from one thing to another, with such perplexity, that he knows not what to sneer in approbation of. But this kind of complaisance is peculiarly the manner of courts; in all other places you must constantly go further in compliance with the persons you have to do with, than a mere conformity of looks and gestures. If you are in a country life, and would be a leading man, a good stomach, a loud voice, and rustic cheerfulness, will go a great way, provided you are able to drink, and drink any thing. But I was just now going to draw the manner of behaviour I would advise people to practise under some maxim; and intimated, that every one almost was governed by his pride. There was an old fellow about forty years ago so peevish and fretful, though a man of business, that no one could come at him; but he frequented a particular little coffeehouse, where he triumphed over every body at trick-track and backgammon. The way to pass his office well, was first to be insulted