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sort of playing with the four-and-twenty letters, and throwing them into names and characters without sense, truth, or wit. In this case, I am in great perplexity to know whom they mean, and should be in distress for those they abuse, if I did not see their judgment and ingenuity in those they commend. This is the true way of examining a libel ; and when men consider that no one man living thinks the better of their heroes and patrons for the panegyric given them, none can think themselves lessened by their invective. The hero or patron in a libel is but the scavenger to carry off the dirt, and by that very employment is the filthiest creature in the street. Dedications and panegyrics are frequently ridiculous, let them be addressed where they will; but at the front or in the body of a libel, to commend a man is saying to the persons'applauded, “My lord, or fir, I have pulled down all men that the rest of the world think great and honourable, and here is a clear stage ; you may, as you please, be valiant and wise—you may choose to be on the military or civil list, for there is no one brave who commands or just who has power -- you may rule the world now it is empty, which exploded you when it was full; I have knocked out the brains of all whom mankind thought good for anything, and I doubt not but you will regard that invention which found out the only expedient to make your lordship or your worship of any consideration.”
Had I the honour to be in a libel, and had escaped the approbation of the author, I should look upon it exactly in this inanner. But though it is a thing thus perfectly indifferent who is exalted or debased in such performances, yet it is not so with relation to the authors of them, therefore I shall, for the good of my country, hereafter take upon me to punish these wretches. What is already past may die away according to its nature, and continue in its present oblivion; but, for the future, I shall take notice of such enemies to honour and virtue, and preserve them to immortal infamy. Their names shall give fresh offence many ages hence, and shall be detested a thousand years after the commission of their crime. It shall not avail that these children of infamy publish their works under feigned
or under none at all, for I am so perfectly well acquainted with the styles of all my contemporaries, that I
Tall not fail of doing them justice, with their proper names, and at their full length. Let those miscreants, therefore, enjoy their present act of oblivion, and take care how they offend hereafter.
But to avert our eyes from such objects, it is, methinks, but requisite to settle our opinion in the case of praise and blame. I believe the only true way to cure that sensibility of reproach, which is a common weakness with the most virtuous men, is to fix their regard firmly upon only what is strictly true, in relation to their advantage, as well as diminution ;. for, if I am pleased with commendation which I do not deferve, I shall, from the same temper, be concerned at scandal I do not deserve. But he that can think of false applause with as much contempt as false detraction, will certainly be prepared for all adventures, and will become all occasions. Undeserved praise can please only those who want merit, and undeserved reproach frighten only those who want sincerity? I have thought of this with so much attention, that I fancy there can be no other method in nature found for that delicacy which gives good men pain under calumny, but placing fatisfaction nowhere but in a just sense of their own integrity, without regard to the opinion of others. If we have not such a foundation as this, there is no help against scandal but being in obfcurity, which to noble minds is not being at all. The truth of it is, this love of praise dwells most in great and heroic spirits, and those who best deserve it have generally the most exquisite relish of it.. Methinks I see the renowned Alexander, after a painful and laborious march, amidst the heats of a parched foil and burning climate, fitting over the head of a fountain, and, after a draught of water, pronounce that memorable saying, “Oh, Athenians ! how much do I suffer that you may speak well of me?” The Athenians were at that time the learned of the world, and their libels against Alexander were written, as he was a professed enemy of their state. But how monstrous would such inyectives have appeared in Macedonians !
As love of reputation is a darling passion in great men, so the defence of them in this particular is the business of every man of honour and honesty. We should run on such an occafion
as if a publick building was on fire, to their relief; and all who spread or publish such deteftable pieces as traduce their merit, should be used like incendiaries. It is the common cause of our country to support the reputation of those who preserve it against invaders, and every person is attacked in the person of that neighbour who deserves well of him.
Among the various errors in conversation ... there is one which, though it has not escaped a general reproof, yet seems to deserve a more particular severity. It is a humour of jesting on disagreeable subjects, and insisting on the jest the more it creates uneasiness; and this some men think they have a title to do as friends. Is the defign of jesting to provoke ? or does friendship give a privilege to say things with a design to shock ? How can that be called a jest which has nothing in it but bitterness? It is generally allowed necessary for the peace of company, that men should a little study the tempers of each other, but certainly that must be in order to fun what is offensive, not to make it a constant entertainment. The frequent repetition of what appears harsh, will unavoidably leave a rancour that is fatal to friendship; and I doubt much, whether it would be an argument of a man's good humour, if he should be roused, by perpetual teasing, to treat those who do it as his enemies. In a word, whereas it is a common practice to let a story die merely becaufe it does not touch, I think such as mention one they find does, are as troublesome to society and as unfit for it as wags, men of fire, good talkers, or any other apes in conversation ... I cannot wholly ascribe the fault.... to the ..... vanity or pride in companions who secretly triumph over their friends, in being sharp upon them in things where they are moft tender. But when this fort of behaviour does not proceed from that fource, it does from a barreness of invention, and an inability to support a conversation in a way less offensive. It is the same poverty that makes men fpeak or write smuttily that forces them to talk vexingly. As obscene language is an address to the lewd for applause, so are sharp allufions an appeal to the ill-natured. But mean and illiterate is that conversation where one man exercises his wit to make another exercise his patience,
MR. BICKERSTAFF GIVES HIS OPINON ON THE SUBJECT OF PRIDE,
AND ADDUCES SOME WHIMSICAL INSTANCES OF IT- -PERNICIOUS EFFECTS OF VANITY, PRIDE, AND AMBITION.
Nimirum infanus paucis videatur, eo quod
HOR. 2 Sat. iii. 120.
HERE is no affection of the mind so blended in
human nature, and wrought into our very constitution as pride. It appears under a multitude of disguises, and breaks out in ten thousand different
symptoms. Every one feels it in himself, yet wonders to see it in his neighbour. I must confess I met with an instance of it the other day where I should very
little have expected it. Who would believe the proud person I am going to speak of is a cobbler upon Ludgate-hill ? This artist being naturally a lover of respect, and considering that his circumstances are such that no man living will give it him, has contrived the figure of a beau, in wood, who stands before him in a bending posture, with his hat under his left arm, and his right hand extended in such a manner as to hold a thread, a piece of wax, or an awl, according to the particular service in which