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employed in the gathering of weeds, and the chase of butterflies; not to mention the cockleshell-merchants and spidercatchers.
When I consider how each of these professions are crowded with multitudes that seek their livelihood in them, and how many men of merit there are in each of them, who may be rather said to be of the science than the profession; I very much wonder at the humour of parents, who will not rather choose to place their sons in a way of life where an honest industry cannot but thrive, than in stations where the greatest probity, learning, and good sense may miscarry. How many men are country curates, that might have made themselves aldermen of London, by a right improvement of a smaller sum of money than what is usually laid out upon a learned education! A sober, frugal person, of slender parts and a slow apprehension, might have thrived in trade, though he starves upon physic; as a man would be well enough pleased to buy silks of one, whom he would not venturel to feel his pulse. Vagellius is careful, studious, and obliging, but withal a little thick-skulled; he has not a single client, but might have had abundance of customers. The misfortune is, that parents take a liking to a particular profession, and therefore desire their sons may be of it. Whereas, in so great an affair of life, they should consider the genius and abilities of their children, more than their own inclinations.
It is the great advantage of a trading nation, that there are very few in it so dull and heavy, who may not be placed in stations of life, which may give them an opportunity of making their fortunes. A well-regulated commerce is not, like law, physic, or divinity, to be overstocked with hands; but, on the contrary, flourishes by multitudes, and gives employment to all its professors. Fleets of merchantmen are so many squadrons of floating shops, that vend our wares and manufactures in all the markets of the world, and find out chapmen under both the tropics.
1 Venture is a neutral verb, and so cannot stand in this construction. It should be employ, call in, or some such transitive verb, of which "whom " might be governed; and through which the person and the act, i. e. "whom" and "feel," should be necessarily connected.
No. 23. TUESDAY, MARCH 27.
Sævit atrox Volscens, nec teli conspicit usquam
Auctorem, nec quò se ardens immittere possit. VIRG.
THERE is nothing that more betrays a base, ungenerous spirit, than the giving of1 secret stabs to a man's reputation. Lampoons and satires, that are written with wit and spirit, are like poisoned darts, which not only inflict a wound, but make it incurable. For this reason I am very much troubled when I see the talents of humour and ridicule in the possession of an ill-natured man. There cannot be a greater gratification to a barbarous and inhuman wit, than to stir up sorrow in the heart of a private person, to raise uneasiness among near relations, and to expose whole families to derision, at the same time that he remains unseen and undiscovered. If, besides the accomplishments of being witty and illnatured, a man is vicious into the bargain, he is one of the most mischievous creatures that can enter into a civil society. His satire will then chiefly fall upon those who ought to be the most exempt from it. Virtue, merit, and everything that is praiseworthy, will be made the subject of ridicule and buffoonery. It is impossible to enumerate the evils which arise from these arrows that fly in the dark;2 and I know no other excuse that is or can be made for them, than that The giving of.] This use of the participle, instead of the substantive, is agreeable to the English idiom, and has a good effect in our language, which in this, as in other instances, resembles the Greek much more than the Latin tongue. But our polite writers, being generally most conversant in the latter of these languages, have gradually introduced the substantive, or a verb in the infinitive mood, into the place of the participle. Thus, they would say, "detraction," or "to detract from the reputation of others, shows a base spirit." Yet the practice is not so far established, but that the other mode of expression may, sometimes, (though more sparingly, perhaps, than heretofore,) be employed. An exact writer, indeed, would not set out with a sentence in this form; but, in the body of a discourse," currente calamo," he would not scruple to make use of it. Never to employ the participle, would be finical and affected to employ it constantly, or frequently, would now be thought careless: but to employ it occasionally, contributes plainly to the variety, and, I think, to the grace, of a good English style.
2 Which arise from these arrows that fly in the dark.] This sentence had been more exact, and less languid, if he had said, “Innumerable evils arise from those arrows that fly in the dark.
the wounds they give are only imaginary, and produce nothing more than a secret shame or sorrow in the mind of the suffering person. It must indeed be confessed, that a lampoon or a satire do not carry in them robbery or murder; but at the same time, how many are there that would not rather lose a considerable sum of money, or even life itself, than be set up as marks of infamy and derision? And in this case a man should consider, that an injury is not to be measured by the notions of him that gives, but of him that receives it.
Those who can put the best countenance upon the outrages of this nature which are offered them, are not without their secret anguish. I have often observed a passage in Socrates's behaviour at his death, in a light wherein none of the critics have considered it. That excellent man, entertaining his friends, a little before he drank the bowl of poison, with a discourse on the immortality of the soul, at his entering upon it says, that he does not believe any, the most comic genius, can censure him for talking upon such a subject at such a time. This passage, I think, evidently glances upon Aristophanes, who writ a comedy on purpose to ridicule. the discourses of that divine philosopher. It has been observed by many writers, that Socrates was so little moved at this piece of buffoonery, that he was several times present at its being acted upon the stage, and never expressed the least resentment of it. But with submission, I think the remark I have here made shows us that this unworthy treatment made an impression upon his mind, though he had been too wise to discover it.
When Julius Cæsar was lampooned by Catullus, he invited him to a supper, and treated him with such a generous civility, that he made the poet his friend ever after. Cardinal Mazarine gave the same kind of treatment to the learned Quillet, who had reflected upon his Eminence in a famous Latin poem. The cardinal sent for him, and, after some kind expostulations upon what he had written, assured him of his esteem, and dismissed him with a promise of the next good abbey that should fall, which he accordingly conferred upon him in a few months after. This had so good an effect upon the author, that he dedicated the second edition of his book to the cardinal, after having expunged the passages which had given him offence.
Sextus Quintus was not of so generous and forgiving a
temper. Upon his being made pope, the statue Pasquin was one night dressed in a very dirty shirt, with an excuse written under it, that he was forced to wear foul linen because his laundress was made a princess. This was a reflection upon the pope's sister, who, before the promotion of her brother, was in those mean circumstances that Pasquin represented her. As this pasquinade made a great noise in Rome, the pope offered a considerable sum of money to any person that should discover the author of it. The author, relying upon his Holiness's generosity, as also on some private overtures which he had received from him, made the discovery himself; upon which the pope gave him the reward he had promised, but at the same time, to disable the satirist for the future, ordered his tongue to be cut out, and both his hands to be chopped off. Aretine is too trite an instance. Every one knows that all the kings of Europe were his tributaries. Nay, there is a letter of his extant, in which he makes his boasts that he had laid the Sophi of Persia under contribution.
Though, in the various examples which I have here drawn together, these several great men behaved themselves very differently towards the wits of the age who had reproached them; they all of them plainly showed that they were very sensible of their reproaches, and consequently that they received them as very great injuries. For my own part, I would never trust a man that I thought was capable of giving these secret wounds; and cannot but think that he would hurt the person, whose reputation he thus assaults, in his body or in his fortune, could he do it with the same security. There is indeed something very barbarous and inhuman in the ordinary scribblers of lampoons. An innocent young lady shall be exposed for an unhappy feature. A father of a family turned to ridicule for some domestic calamity. A wife be made uneasy all her life for a misinterpreted word or action. Nay, a good, a temperate, and a just man, shall be put out of countenance, by the representation of those qualities that should do him honour. So pernicious a thing is wit, when it is not tempered with virtue and humanity.
I have indeed heard of heedless, inconsiderate writers, that 1 Circumstances that Pasquin represented her.] Carelessly and elliptically expressed.
without any malice have sacrificed the reputation of their friends and acquaintance, to a certain levity of temper, and a silly ambition of distinguishing themselves by a spirit of raillery and satire: as if it were not infinitely more honourable to be a good-natured man than a wit. Where there is this little petulant humour in an author, he is often very mischievous without designing to be so. For which reason I always lay it down as a rule, that an indiscreet man is more hurtful than an ill-natured one; for as the one will only attack his enemies, and those he wishes ill to, the other injures indifferently both friends and foes. I cannot forbear, on this occasion, transcribing a fable out of Sir Roger L'Estrange, which accidentally lies before me. "A company of waggish boys were watching of frogs at the side of a pond, and still as any of them put up their heads, they'd be pelting them down again with stones. Children,' says one of the frogs, you never consider, that though this be play to you, 'tis death to us.'
As this week is in a manner set apart and dedicated to serious thoughts, I shall indulge myself in such speculations as may not be altogether unsuitable to the season; and in the mean time, as the setting in ourselves a charitable frame of mind is a work very proper for the time, I have in this paper endeavoured to expose that particular breach of cha-rity which has been generally overlooked by divines, because they are but few who can be guilty of it.
No. 25. THURSDAY, MARCH 29.
-Egrescitque medendo. VIRG.
THE following letter will explain itself, and needs no apo
I am one of that sickly tribe who are commonly known by the name of Valetudinarians; and do confess to you, that I first contracted this ill habit of body, or rather of mind, by the study of physic. I no sooner began to peruse books of this nature, but I found my pulse was irregular; and scarce ever read the account of any disease, that I did