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over wit, and it was never asked whether he had strength. We hear no exceptions against the beauty of Minerva, or the wisdom of Venus. These wise heathens were glad to immortalize any one serviceable gift, and overlook all imperfections in the person who had it : but with us it is far otherwise, for we reject many eminent virtues, if they are accompanied with one apparent weakness. The reflecting after this manner, made me account for the strange delight men take in reading Jampoons and scandal, with which the age abounds, and of which I receive frequent complaints. Upon mature .confideration, I find it is principally for this reason, that the worst of mankind, the libellers, receive so much encouragement in the world. The low race of men take a secret pleasure in finding an eminent character levelled to their condition by a report of its defects, and keep themselves in countenance, though they are excelled in a thousand virtues, if they believe they have in common with a great person any one fault. The libeller falls in with this humour, and gratifies this baseness of temper, which is naturally an enemy to extraordinary merit. It is from this, that libel and satire are promiscuously joined together in the notions of the vulgar, though the satirist and libeller differ as much as the magistrate and the murderer. In the confideration of human life, the fatirist never falls upon persons who are not glaringly faulty, and the libeller on none but who are conspicuously commendable. Were I to expose any vice in a good or great man, it should certainly be by correcting it in some one where that crime was the most distinguishing part of the character; as pages are chastized for the admonition of princes. When it is performed otherwise, the vicious are kept in credit, by placing men of merit in the same accusation. But all the pasquils, lampoons and libels, we meet with now a days, are a 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 judg. ment and ingenuity in those they commend. This is
the truc way of examining a libel; and when men consider, that no one man living thinks the better of their heroes and patrons for the panegyrick given them, none can think themselves leffened by their invective. The hero or patron in a libel, is but a scavenger to carry off the dirt, and by that very employment is the filthiest creature in the street. Dedications and panegyricks are frequently ridiculous, let them be addressed where they will; but at the front, or in the body of a libel, 10 commend a man, is saying to the person applauded, “My Lord, or Sir, I have pulled down all
men that the rest of the world think great and ho“ nourable, and here is a clear stage ; you may as you.
please be valiant or wife ; you may choose to be on: " the military or civil lift ; for there is no one brave who “ commands, or just who has power : : You
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 any thing; and J “ doubt not, but you will reward that invention, which * found out the only expedient to make your lordship,
or your worship, of any confideration.”
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 manner. 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 paflied, may die away according to its nature, and continue in its present oblivion ; but for the future, I fall take notice of such enemies to honour and virtue, and preserve them to immortal infamy: their namesshall give fresh offence many ages hence, and be detested a thousand years after the commission of their crime. It Thall not avail, that these children of infamy publish their works under feigned names, or under none at all; for I am so perfectly well acquainted with the styles of all my contemporaries, that I shall not fail of doing them justice, with their proper names, and at their full length. Let therefore these miscreants 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: and I believe, the only true way to cure that sensibility of reproach, which is a common weaknels with the most virtuous men, is to fix their regard firmly upon only what is ftriatly true, in relation to their advantage, as well as diminution. For if I am pleased with commendation which I do not deferve, 1 mall 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. Unreserved praise can please only those who want merit, and undeferved reproach frighten only chose who want fincerity. I have thought of this with so much attention, that I fancy there can be no other method in nature found for the cure of that delicacy, which gives good men pain under calumny, but placing satisfaction no where 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 soil and a 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 profesied enemy of their liatebut how monstrous would such invectives have appeared in Macedonians.
As love of reputation is a darling paflion 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 fuch an occasion (as if a public building
was on fire) to their relief; and all who spread or publith 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 man is attacked in the person of that neighbour who deferves well of him.
On the Use of social Intercourse between Persons of different Ages and Professions.
[Connoiffeur, No. 78.]
To Mr. TOWN.
OTHING is more necessary, in order to wear
off any particularities in our behaviour, or to root out any perverfeness in our opinions, than mixing with persons of ages and occupations different from our own. Whosoever con fines himself entirely to the society of those who are engaged in the same pursuits, and whose thoughts naturally take the same turn with his own, acquires a certain stiffness and pedantry of behaviour, which is fure to make him disagreeable, except in one particular set of company. Instead of cramping the mind by keeping it within so narrow a circle, we should endeavour to enlarge it by every worthy notion and accomplishment; and temper each qualification with it's opposite, as the four elements are compounded in our natural frame,
The necessity of this free conversation, to open and improve the mind, is evident from the consequences, which always follow a neglect of it. The employment each man is engaged in, wholly engrosses his attention, and tinges the mind with a peculiar die, which shews itself in all the operations of it, unless prevented by natural good fenfe or a liberal education. The physician, the lawyer, and the tradesman will appear in company, though none of those occupations are the subject of discourse; and the clergyman will grow morose and levere, who feldom or never converses with the laity.
If no particular profession has this influence over us, fome darling passion or amusement gives a colour to our thoughts and actions, and makes us odious or at least ridiculous. Fine ladies, for instance, by despifing the conversation of sensible men, can talk of nothing but routs, balls, assemblies, birth-day suits, and intrigues, and fine gentlemen, for the same reason, of almost nothing at all. In like manner the furious partizan, who has not been weaned from a mad attachment to particular principles, is weak enough to imagine every man of a different way of thinking a fool and a scoundrel; and the sectary or zealot devotes to eternal damnation all those, who will not go to heaven in the fame road with himself, under the guidance of Whitefield, Wesley, or Count Zinzendorff: To the same cause we owe the rough country squire, whose ideas are wholly bent on guns, dogs, horses, and game; and who has every thing about him of a piece with his diverfions. Ilis hall must be adorned with stags heads, instead of buits and latues ; and in the room of family pictures, you will fee prints of the moft famous stallions and racehorses: all his doors open and shut with foxes feet; and even the buttons of his cloaths are impressed with the figures of dogs, foxes, ftags, and horses. To this ablard practice of cultivating only one set of ideas, and Mutting ourselves out from any intercourse with the rest of the world, is owing that narrowness of mind, which has infected the conversation of the polite world with in lipidity, made roughness and brutality the characteristics of a mere country gentleman, and produced the most fatal consequences in politics and religion.
But if this commerce with the generality of mankind is so necessary to remove any impressions, which we may be liable to receive from any particular employment or darling amusement, what precautions ought to be used, in order to remedy the inconveniences naturally brought on us by the different ages of life! It is not certain that a person will be engaged in any profesion, or given op to any peculiar kind of pleasure ; but the mind of every man is subject to the inclinations arising from the several itages of his existence, as well as his body to