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miration by all the Virtuosi of that time; but fell down with no other pressure, but the settling of a wren upon the top it. Yet Nestor's modesty was such, that his art and skill were soon disregarded, for want of that manner with which men of the world support and assert the merit of their own performances. Soon after this instance of his art, Athens was, by the treachery of its enemies, burned to the ground. This gave Nestor the greatest occasion that ever builder had to render his name immortal, and his person venerable: for all the new city rose according to his disposition, and all the monuments of the glories and distresses of that people were erected by that sole artist: nay, all their temples as well as houses, were the effects of his study and labour; insomuch that it was said by an old sage, 'Sure Nestor will now be famous, for the habitations of gods as well as men are built by his contrivance.' But this bashful quality still put a damp upon his great knowledge, which has as fatal an effect upon men's reputations as poverty; for as it was said, 'the poor man saved the city, and the poor
man’s labour was forgot;' so here we find, the modest man built the city, and the modest man's skill was unknown.'
Thus, we see, every man is the maker of his own fortune ; and, what is very odd to consider, he must in some measure be the trumpet of his own fame: not that men are to be tolerated who directly praise themselves; but they are to be endued with a sort of defensive eloquence, by which they shall be always capable of expressing the rules and arts by which they govern themselves.
Varillus was the man of all I have read of, the happiest in the true possession of this quality of modesty. My author says of him, modesty in Varillus
is really a virtue, for it is a voluntary quality, and the effect of good sense. He is naturally bold and enterprising ; but so justly discreet, that he never acts or speaks any thing, but those who behold him know he has forborne much more than he has performed or uttered, out of deference to the persons before whom he is. This makes Varillus truly amiable, and all his attempts successful ; for as bad as the world is thought to be by those who are perhaps unskilled in it, want of success in our actions is generally owing to want of judgment in what we ought to attempt, or a rustic modesty, which will not give us leave to undertake what we ought. But how unfortunate this diffident temper is to those who are possessed with it, may be best seen in the success of such as are wholly unacquainted with it.
We have one peculiar elegance in our language above all others, which is conspicuous in the term fellow. This word, added to any of our adjectives, extremely varies, or quite alters the sense of that with which it is joined. Thus though 'a modest man,' is the most unfortunate of all men, yet a modest fellow' is as superlatively happy. 'A modest fellow' is a ready creature, who, with great humility, and as great forwardness, visits his patrons at all hours, and meets them in all places, and has so moderate an opinion of himself, that he makes his court at large. If
will not give him a great employment, he will be glad of a little one. He has so great a deference for his benefactor's judgment, that as he thinks himself fit for any thing he can get, so he is above nothing which is offered. He is like the young bachelor of arts, who came to town recommended to a chaplain's place; but none being vacant, modestly accepted of that of a postilion.
We have very many conspicuous persons of this undertaking yet modest turn: I have a grandson who is very happy in this quality: I sent him in the time of the last peace into France. As soon as he landed at Calais, he sent me an exact account of the nature of the people, and the policies of the king of France. I got him since chosen a member of a corporation : the modest creature, as soon as he came into the common-council, told a senior burgess, he was perfectly out in the orders of their house. In other circumstances he is so thoroughly “modest a fellow' that he seems to pretend only to things he understands. He is a citizen only at court, and in the city a courtier. In a word, to speak the characteristical difference between “a modest man' and a modest fellow:' the modest man is in doubt in all his actions ; a modest fellow never has a doubt from his cradle to his grave.
No. 53. THURSDAY, AUGUST 11, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines -
— nostri est farrago libelli.
Whate'er men do, or say, or think, or dream,
WHITE'S CHOCOLATE-HOUSE, AUGUST 10.
THE CIVIL HUSBAND.
The fate and character of the inconstant Osmyn is a just excuse for the little notice taken by his widow of his departure out of this life, which was equally troublesome to Elmira, his faithful spouse, and to himself. That life passed between them after this manner, is the reason the town has just now received a lady with all that gayety, after having been a relict but three months, which other women hardly assume under fifteen, after such a disaster. Elmira is the daughter of a rich and worthy citizen, who gave her to Osmyn, with a portion which might have obtained her an alliance with our noblest houses, and fixed her in the eye of the world, where her story had not been now to be related; for her good qualities had made her the object of universal esteem among the polite part of mankind, from whom she has been banished and immured until the death of her gaoler.
It is now full fifteen years since that beauteous lady was given into the hands of the happy Osmyn, who, in the
sense of all the world, received at that time a present more valuable than the possession of both the Indies. She was then in her early bloom, with an understanding and discretion very little inferior to the most experienced matrons. She was not beholden to the charms of her sex, that her company was preferable to any Osmyn could meet with abroad; for were all she said considered without regard to her being a woman, it might stand the examination of the severest judges. She had all the beauty of her own sex, with all the conversation-accomplishments of ours. But Osmyn very soon grew surfeited with the charms of her person by possession, and of her mind by want of taste ; for he was one of that loose sort of men, who have but one reason for setting any value upon the fair sex; who consider even brides but as new women, and consequently neglect them when they cease to be such. All the merit of Elmira could not prevent her becoming a mere wife within few months after her nuptials; and Osmyn had so little relish for her. conversation, that he complained of the advantages of it. “My spouse,' said he to one of his companions, “is so very discreet, so good, so virtuous, and I know not what, that I think her person is rather the object of esteem than of love; and there is such a thing as a merit which causes rather distance than passion. But there being no medium in the state of matrimony, their life began to take the usual gradations to become the most irksome of all beings. They grew in the first place very complaisant; and having at heart a certain knowledge that they were indifferent to each other, apologies were made for every little circumstance which they thought betrayed their mutual coldness. This lasted but few months, when they showed a difference of opinion