Imágenes de páginas

• thirst of glory,' I am afraid he will be disappointed. It is, indeed, true, that like the heroes of antiquity, whom successive generations have honoured with statues and panegyric, he has spent his life in doing mischief to others without procuring any

real good to himself: but he has not done mischief enough; he has not sacked a city or fired a temple; he acts only against individuals in a contracted sphere, and is lost among a crowd of competitors, whose merit can only contribute to their mutual obscurity, as the feats which are perpetually performed by innumerable adventurers, must soon become too common to confer distinction.

In behalf of some among these candidates for fame, the legislature has, indeed, thought fit to interpose; and their achievements are with great solemnity rehearsed and recorded in a temple, of which I know not the celestial appellation, but on earth it is called Justice Hall in the Old Bailey.

As the rest are utterly neglected, I cannot think of any expedient to gratify the noble thirst of my correspondent and his compeers, but that of procuring them admission into this class; an attempt in which I do not despair of success, for I think I can demonstrate their right, and I will not suppose it possible that when this is done they will be excluded.

Upon the most diligent examination of ancient history and modern panegyric, I find that no action has ever been held honourable in so high a degree, as killing men: this, indeed, is one of the feats which our legislature has thought fit to rescue from oblivion, and reward in Justice Hall: it has also removed an absurd distinction, and, contrary to the practice of pagan antiquity, has comprehended the killers of women, among those who deserve the

rewards that have been decreed to homicide. Now he may fairly be considered as a killer, who seduces a young beauty from the fondness of a parent, with whom she enjoys health and peace, the protection of the laws, and the smile of society, to the tyranny of a bawd, and the excesses of a brothel, to disease and distraction, stripes, infamy and imprisonment; calamities which cannot fail to render her days not only evil but few. It may, perhaps, be alleged, that the woman was not only passive, but that in some sense she


be considered as felo de se. This, however, is mere cavil; for the same may be said of him who fights when he can run away;


yet it has always been deemed more honourable to kill the combatant than the fugitive.

If this claim then of the Blood be admitted, and I do not see how it can be set aside, I propose that after his remains shall have been rescued from dust

and worms, and consecrated in the temple of | Hygeia, called Surgeon's Hall, his bones shall be purified by proper lustrations, and erected into a statue: that this statue shall be placed in a niche, with the name of the hero of which it is at once the remains and the monument written over it, among many others of the same rank, in the gallery of a spacious building, to be erected by lottery for that purpose: I propose that this gallery be called the Blood's Gallery; and, to prevent the labour and expense of emblazoning the achievements of every individual, which would be little more than repeating the same words, that an inscription be placed over the door to this effect: “This gallery is sacred to the memory and the remains of the Bloods; heroes who lived in perpetual hostility against themselves and others; who contracted diseases by excess that precluded enjoyment, and who continually perpetrated mischief not in anger but sport; who purchased this distinction at the expense of life; and whose glory would have been equal to Alexander's, if their power had not been less.'

N° 99. TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 1753.


- Magnis tamen excidit ausis.
But in the glorious enterprise he dy'd.


It has always been the practice of mankind to judge of actions by the event. The same attempts, conducted in the same manner, but terminated by different success, produced different judgments: they who attain their wishes, never want celebrators of their wisdom and their virtue; and they that miscarry, are quickly discovered to have been defective not only in mental but in moral qualities. The world will never be long without some good reason to hate the unhappy : their real faults are immediately detected; and if those are not sufficient to sink them into infamy, an additional weight of calumny will be superadded : he that fails in his endeavours after wealth or power, will not long retain either honesty or courage.

This species of injustice has so long prevailed in universal practice, that it seems likewise to have infected speculation : so few minds are able to separate the ideas of greatness and prosperity, that

even Sir William Temple has determined, that he who can deserve the name of a hero, must not only be virtuous but fortunate.'

By this unreasonable distribution of praise and blame, none have suffered oftener than Projectors, whose rapidity of imagination and vastness of design raise such envy in their fellow mortals, that every eye watches for their fall, and every heart exults at their distresses : yet even a Projector may gain favour by success; and the tongue that was prepared to hiss, then endeavours to excel others in loudness of applause.

When Coriolanus, in Shakspeare, deserted to Aufidius, the Volscian servants at first insulted him, even while he stood under the protection of the household Gods; but when they saw that the Project took effect, and the stranger was seated at the head of the table, one of them very judiciously observes, • that he always thought there was more in him than he could think.'

Machiavel has justly animadverted on the different notice taken, by all succeeding times, of the two great projectors Catiline and Cæsar. Both formed the same Project, and intended to raise themselves to power, by subverting the commonWealth: they pursued their design, perhaps with equal abilities, and with equal virtue ; but Catiline perished in the field, and Cæsar returned from Pharsalia with unlimited authority: and from that time, every monarch of the earth has thought himself honoured by a comparison with Cæsar; and Catiline has been never mentioned, but that his name might be applied to traitors and incendiaries.

In an age more remote, Xerxes projected the conquest of Greece, and brought down the power of Asia against it: but after the world had been filled with expectation and terror, his army was

beaten, his fleet was destroyed, and Xerxes has been never mentioned without contempt.

A few years afterwards, Greece likewise had her turn of giving birth to a Projector; who invading Asia with a small army, went forward in search of adventures, and by his escape from one danger, gained only more rashness to rush into another: he stormed city after city, over-ran kingdom after kingdom, fought battles only for barren victory, and invaded nations only that he might make his way through them to new invasions: but having been fortunate in the execution of his Projects, he died with the name of Alexander the Great.

These are, indeed, events of ancient times; but human nature is always the same, and every age will afford us instances of public censures influenced by events. The great business of the middle centuries, was the holy war; which undoubtedly was a noble Project, and was for a long time prosecuted with a spirit equal to that with which it had been contrived: but the ardour of the European heroes only hurried them to destruction ; for a long time they could not gain the territories for which they fought, and when at last gained, they could not keep them ; their expeditions, therefore, have been the scoff of idleness and ignorance, their understanding and their virtue have been equally vilified, their conduct has been ridiculed, and their cause has been defamed.

When Columbus had engaged King Ferdinand in the discovery of the other hemisphere, the sailors, with whom he embarked in the expedition, had so little confidence in their commander, that after having been long at sea looking for coasts which they expected never to find, they raised a general mutiny, and demanded to return. He found means to soothe them into a permission to continue the

« AnteriorContinuar »