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tyrant, each of them (trove who should be the criminal, that he might save the life of his friend. Amidst the vehemence of each asserting himself to be the offender, the Roman audience gave a thunder of applause, and by that means, as the author hints, approved in others what they would have done themselves on the like occasion. Methinks a people of so much virtue were deservedly placed at the head of mankind; but, alas! pleasures of this nature are not frequently to be met with on the English stage.
The Athenians, at a time when they were the most polite, as well as the most powerful, government in the world, made the care of the stage one of the chief parts of the administration; and I must confefs, I am astonished at the spirit of virtue which appeared in that people upon some expressions in a scene of a famous tragedy, an account of which we have in one of Seneca's epistles. A covetous person is represented speaking the common sentiments of all who are possessed with that vice in the following soliloquy, which I have translated literally:
“ Let me be called a base man, so I am called a rich one. If a man is rich, who asks if he is good? The question is, how much we have, not from whence, or by what means we have it. Every one has so much merit as he has wealth. For my own part, let me be rich, oh, ye gods ! or let me die, The man dies happily who dies increasing his treasure. There is more pleasure in the possession of wealth than in that of parents, children, wife, or friends."
The audience were very much provoked by the first words of this speech, but when the actor come to the close of it, they could bear no longer. In short, the whole assembly rose up at once in the greatest fury, with a design to pluck him off the stage, and brand the work itself with infamy. In the midst of the tumult the author came out from behind the scenes, begging the audience to be composed for a little while, and they should see the tragical end which this wretch should come to immediately. The promise of punishment appeased the people, who sat with great attention and pleasure to see an example made of so odious a criminal. It is with shame and concern that I speak it, but I very much question whether it is possible to make a speech so impious as to raise such a laudable horror and indignation in a modern audience. It is very natural for an author to make ostentation of his reading, as it is for an old man to tell stories, for which reason I must beg the reader will excuse me, if I for once indulge myself in both these inclinations. We see the attention, judgment, and virtue of a whole audience in the foregoing instances. If we could imitate the behaviour of a single spectator, let us reflect upon that of Socrates, in a particular which gives me as great an idea of that extraordinary man as any circumstance of his life, or, what is more, of his death. This venerable person often frequented the theatre, which brought a great many thither, out of a desire to see him, on which occasion it is recorded of him, that he sometimes stood to make himself the more confpicuous, and to satisfy the curiosity of the beholders. He was one day present at the first representation of a tragedy of Euripides, who was his intimate friend, and whom he is said to have assisted in several of his plays. In the midst of the tragedy, which had met with very great success, there chanced to be a line that seemed to encourage vice and immorality.
This was no sooner spoken, but Socrates rose from his seat, and without any regard to his affection for his friend, or to the success of the play, Thewed himself displeased at what was said, and walked out of the assembly. I question not but the reader will be curious to know what the line was that gave this divine heathen so much offence. If my memory not, it was in the part of Hippolitus, who, when he is pressed by an oath, which he had taken to keep silence, returned for answer, “ That he had taken the oath with his tongue, but not with his heart.” Had a person of a vicious character made such a speech, it might have been allowed as a proper representation of the baseness of his thoughts ; but such an expression out of the mouth of the virtuous Hippolitus, was giving a fanction to falsehood, and establishing perjury by a maxim.
INFELICITY OF RICHES TO ONE NOT FITTED TO ENJOY IT
HAVE a letter from a young fellow who complains to me that he was bred a mercer, and is now just out of his time, but unfortunately (for he has no manner of education suitable to his present
estate) an uncle has left him 1,000l. per annum. The young man is sensible, that he is so spruce, that he fears he shall never be genteel as long as he lives, but applies himself to me, to know what method to take to help his air, and be a fine gentlemen.
He says, “ That several of those ladies who were formerly his customers, visit his mother on purpose to fall, in his way, and fears he shall be obliged to marry against his will; for (says he) if any one of them should ask me, I shall not be able to deny her
. I am (says he further) utterly at a loss how to deal with them, for though I was the most pert creature in the world when I was foreman, and could hand a woman of the first quality to her coach, as well as her own gentleman usher, I am now quite out of my way and speechless in their company. They commend my modesty to my face. No one scruples to say, 'I should certainly make the best husband in the world, a man of my sober education.'- -Mrs. Would-be watches all opportunities to be alone with me: therefore, good Mr. Bickerstaff
, here are my writings inclosed, if you can find any Aaw in my title, so as it may go to the next heir, who goes to St. James's coffee-house, and White's, and could
enjoy it, I should be extremely well pleased with two thousand pounds to set up my trade, and live in a way I know I should become, rather than be laughed at all my life among too good company. If you could send for my cousin, and persuade him to take the estate on these terms, and let nobody know it, you would extremely oblige me."
Upon first sight, I thought this a very whimsical proposal ; however, upon more mature consideration, I could not but admire the young gentleman's prudence and good sense, for there is nothing so irksome as living in a way a man knows he does not become. I consulted Mr. Obadiah Greenhat on this occasion, and he is so well pleased with the man, that he has half a mind to take the estate himself, but upon second thoughts he proposed this expedient: I should be very willing (said he) to keep the estate where it is, if we could make the young man any way easy, therefore I humbly propose he should
begin his education anew; for it is a maxim, that one who is ill-taught, is in a worse condition than he who is wholly ignorant, therefore a spruce mercer is farther off the air of a fine gentleman than a downright clown. To make our patient anything better, we must unmake him what he is. I indeed proposed to Aux him, but Greenhat answered, “That if he recovered, he'd be as prim and feat as ever he was :" therefore he would have it his way, ..... after which we will send him down to smoke, and be buried with his ancestors in Derbyfhire. I am indeed desirous he should have his life in the estate, because he has such a just sense of himself and his abilities, to know that it is an unhappiness to him to be a man of fortune,
This youth seems to understand, that a gentleman's life is that of all others the hardest to pass through with propriety of behaviour; for though he has a support without art or labour, yet his manner of enjoying that circumstance is a thing to be considered; and you see among men who are honoured with the common appellation of gentlemen, so many contradictions to that character, that it is the utmost ill-fortune to bear it, for which reason I am obliged to change the circumstances of several about this town. Harry Lacker is so very exact in his
dress, that I shall give his estate to his younger brother, and make him a dancing-master. Nokes Lightfoot is so nimble, and values himself so much upon it, that I have thoughts of making him huntsman to a pack of beagles, and give his land to somebody that will stay upon it,
Now I am upon the topick of becoming what we enjoy, I forbid all persons who are not of the first quality, or who do not bear some important office that requires so much distinction, to go to Hyde Park with fix horses, for I cannot but esteem it the highest insolence; therefore, hereafter no man shall do it merely because he is able, without any other pretension. But what may serve all purposes quite as well, it Mall be allowed all such who think riches the chief distinction, to appear in the ring with two horses only, and a rent-roll hanging out of each side of their coach. This is a thought of Mr. Greenhat's, who designs very soon to publish a sumptuary discourse upon the subject of equipage, wherein he will give us rules on that subject, and assign the proper duties and qualifications of masters and servants, as well as that of hufbands and wives, with a treatise of economy without doors, or the complete art of appearing in the world. This will be very useful to all who are suddenly rich, or are ashamed of being poor.
Sunt certa piacula, que te