Page images


tween gods and brutes.

In short, it is impossible to read a page in Plato, Tully, and a thousand other ancient moralists, without being a greater and a better man for it. On the contrary, I could never read any of our modish French authors, or those of our own country, who are the imitators and admirers of that trifling nation, without being for some time out of humour with myself, and at every thing about me. Their business is, to depreciate human nature, and consider it under its worst appear

They give mean interpretations and base motives to the worthiest actions ; they resolve virtue and vice into constitution. In short, they endeavour to make no distinction between man and man, or between the species of men and that of brutes. As an instance of this kind of authors, among many others, let any one examine the celebrated Rochefoucault, who is the great philosopher for administering of consolation to the idle, the envious, and worthless part of mankind.'

I remember a young gentleman of moderate understanding, but great vivacity, who, by dipping into many authors of this nature, had got a little smattering of knowledge, just enough to make an atheist or a free-thinker, but not a philosopher, or a man of sense. With these accomplishments, he went to visit his father in the country, who was a plain, rough, honest man, and wise, though not learned. The son, who took all opportunities to show his learning, began to establish a new religion in the

| Addison agrees in this with no less a personage than Ninon de l'Enclos. “Il n'a pas trop bonne opinion de la pauvre humanité. Il ne croit non plus aux vertus qu'aux revenants.” Lettres de N. de l' E., lib. 11. Swist, however, wrote in verses which Addison did not live to see:

“Larochefoucauld bis maxims drew
From nature; hence we find them true."

Verses on the death of DR SWIFT. The reader who feels an interest in this subject, will read with pleasure Stewart's opinion as expressed in his Dissertation on the progress of Metaphysical &c. Philosophy. Chap. ii, sec. 2.-G.

family, and to enlarge the narrowness of their country notions, in which he succeeded so well, that he had seduced the butler by his table-talk, and staggered his eldest sister. The old gentleman began to be alarmed at the schisms that arose among his children, but did not yet believe his son's doctrine to be so pernicious as it really was, 'till one day talking of his setting dog, the son said, 'he did not question but Tray was as immortal as any one of the family;' and in the heat of the argument told his father, that for his own part, “he expected to die like a dog.' Upon which, the old man starting up in a very great passion, cried out, “Then, sirrah, you shall live like one;' and taking his cane in his hand, cudgelled him out of his system. This had so good an effect upon him, that he took up from that day, fell to reading good books, and is now a bencher in the Middle-Temple.

I do not mention this cudgelling part of the story with a de. sign to engage the secular arm in matters of this nature; but certainly, if it ever exerts itself in affairs of opinion and speculation, it ought to do it on such shallow and despicable pretenders to knowledge, who endeavour to give man dark and uncomfortable prospects of his being, and destroy those principles which are the support, happiness, and glory, of all public societies, as well as private persons.

I think it is one of Pythagoras's golden sayings, ' That a man should take care above all things to have a due respect for himself:' and it is certain, that this licentious sort of authors, who are for depreciating mankind, endeavoured to disappoint and undo what the most refined spirits have been labouring to advance since the beginning of the world. The very design of dress, good-breeding, outward ornaments, and ceremony, were to lift up human nature, and set it off to an advantage. Architecture, painting, and statuary, were invented with the same design; as indeed every art and science contributes to the embellishment of life, and to the wearing off or throwing into shades the mean and low parts of our nature. Poetry carries on this great end more than all the rest, as may be seen in the following passage, taken out of Sir Francis Bacon's Advancement of Learning, which gives a truer and better account of this art than all the volumes that were ever written

it. “ Poetry, especially heroical, seems to be raised altogether from a noble foundation, which makes much for the dignity of man's nature. For seeing this sensible world is in dignity inferior to the soul of man, poesy seems to endow human nature with that which history denies; and to give satisfaction to the mind, with at least the shadow of things, where the substance cannot be had. For if the matter be thoroughly considered, a strong argument may be drawn from poesy, that a more stately greatness of things, a more perfect order, and a more beautiful variety, delights the soul of man, than any way can be found in nature since the fall. Wherefore, seeing the acts and events which are the subjects of true history, are not of that amplitude as to content the mind of man; poesy is ready at hand to feign acts more heroical. Because true history reports the successes of business not proportionable to the merit of virtues and vices, poesy corrects it, and presents events and fortunes according to desert, and according to the law of Providence : because true history, through the frequent satiety and similitude of things, works a distaste and misprision in the mind of man, poesy cheereth and refresheth the soul, chanting things rare and various, and full of vicissitudes. So as poesy serveth and conferreth to delectation, magnanimity, and morality; and therefore it may seem deservedly to have some participation of divineness, because it doth raise the mind, and exalt the spirit with high raptures, by proportioning the shews of things to the desires of the mind; and not submitting the mind to things, as reason and history do.


And by these allurements and congruities, whereby it cherisheth the soul of man, joined also with consort of music, whereby it may more sweetly insinuate itself, it hath won such access, that it hath been in estimation even in rude times and barbarous nations, when other learning stood excluded."

But there is nothing which favours and falls in with this natural greatness and dignity of human nature so much as religion, which does not only promise the entire refinement of the mind, but the glorifying of the body, and the immortality of both.

No. 110.


-Quæ lucis miseris tam dira cupido?-Virg.

Sheer-Lane, December 21. As soon as I had placed myself in my chair of judicature, I ordered


clerk Mr. Lillie' to read to the assembly (who were gathered together according to notice) a certain declaration, by way of charge, to open the purpose of my session, which tended only to this explanation, ' That as other courts were often called to demand the execution of persons dead in law, so this was held to give the last orders relating to those who are dead in reason. The solicitor of the new company of upholders, near the Hay-Market, appeared in behalf of that useful society, and brought in an accusation of a young woman, who herself stood at the bar before

Mr. Lillie read her indictment, which was in substance, "That whereas Mrs. Rebecca Pindust, of the parish of St. Martin in the Fields, had by the use of one instrument called a look


· A shopkeeper in the Strand, to whom the letters for the Tatler, Spectator, &c. were addressed. In 1725 he published, with Steele's consent, the letters which had not been used, in 2 vols. 850.-G., and by the further use of certain attire, made either of cambric, muslin, or other linen wares, upon her head, attained to such an evil art and magical force in the motion of her eyes and turn of her countenance, that she the said Rebecca had put to death several young men of the said parish; and that the said young men had acknowledged in certain papers, commonly called love-letters (which were produced in court, gilded on the edges, and sealed with a particular wax, with certain amorous and enchanting words wrought upon the said seals) that they died for the said Rebecca : and whereas the said Rebecca persisted in the said evil practice; this way of life the said society construed to be, according to former edicts, a state of death, and demanded an order for the interment of the said Rebecca.'

I looked upon the maid with great humanity, and desired her to make answer to what was said against her. She said, it was indeed true, that she had practised all the arts and means she could to dispose of herself happily in marriage, but thought she did not come under the censure expressed in my writings for the same; and humbly hoped I would not condemn her for the ignorance of her accusers, who, according to their own words, had rather represented her killing than dead.' She further alleged,

That the expressions mentioned in the papers written to her, were become mere words, and that she had been always ready to marry any of those who said they died for her; but that they made their escape as soon as they found themselves pitied or believed.' She ended her discourse, by desiring I would, for the future, settle the meaning of the words, ' I die,' in letters of love.

Mrs. Pindust behaved herself with such an air of innocence, that she easily gained credit, and was acquitted. Upon which occasion, I gave it as a standing rule, ' That any persons, who in any letter, billet, or discourse, should tell a woman he died for her, should, if she pleased, be obliged to live with her, or be im

« PreviousContinue »