Page images
PDF
EPUB

No. 116. FRIDAY, JULY 24.

Ridiculum acri
Fortius et melius -Hor.

There are many little enormities in the world, which our preachers would be very glad to see removed; but at the same time dare not meddle with them, for fear of betraying the dignity of the pulpit. Should they recommend the tucker in a pathetic discourse, their audiences would be apt to laugh out. I knew a parish, where the top woman of it used always to appear with patch upon some part of her forehead: the good man of the place preached at it with great zeal for almost a twelvemonth; but instead of fetching out the spot which he perpetually aimed at, he only got the name of Parson Patch for his pains. Another is to this day called by the name of Doctor Topknot, for reasons of the same nature. I remember the clergy, during the time of Cromwell's usurpation, were very much taken up in reforming the fe. male world, and showing the vanity of those outward ornaments in which the sex so much delights. I have heard a whole sermon against a white-wash, and have known a coloured ribbon made the mark of the unconverted. The clergy of the present age are not transported with these indiscreet fervours, as knowing that it is bard for a reformer to avoid ridicule, when he is severe upon subjects which are rather apt to produce mirth than seriousness. For this reason I look upon myself to be of great use to these good men; while they are employed in extirpating mortal sins, and crimes of a higher nature, I should be glad to rally the world out of indecencies and venial transgressions. While the Doctor is curing distempers that have the appearance of danger or death in them, the Merry Andrew has his separate packet for the meagrims and the tooth-ache.

Thus much I thought fit to premise, before I resume the subject which I have already handled, I mean the naked bosoms of our British ladies. I hope they will not take it ill of me, if I still beg that they will be covered. I shall here present them with a letter on that particular, as it was yesterday conveyed to me through the lion's mouth. It comes from a quaker, and is as follows:

" Nestor IRONSIDE, "Our friends like thee. We rejoice to find thou beginnest to have a glimmering of the light in thee: we shall pray for thee, that thou mayest be more and more enlightened. Thou givest good advice to the women of this world to clothe themselves like unto our friends, and not to expose their fleshly temptations, for it is against the record. Thy lion is a good lion; he roareth loud, and is heard a great way, even unto the sink of Babylon; for the scarlet whore is governed by the voice of thy lion. Look on his order.

Rome, July 8, 1713. 'A placard is published here, forbidding women, of whatsoever quality, to go with naked breasts; and the priests are ordered not to admit the transgressors of this law to confession, nor to communion ; neither are they to enter the cathedrals under severe penalties.'

“ These lines are faithfully copied from the nightly paper, with this title written over it, The Evening Post, from Saturday July the 18th, to Tuesday, July the 21st.

“Seeing thy lion is obeyed at this distance, we hope the fool. ish women in thy own country will listen to thy admonitions. Otherwise thou art desired to make him still roar, till all the beasts of the forest shall tremble. I must again repeat unto thee, friend Nestor, the whole brotherhood have great hopes of thee, and expect to see thee so inspired with the light, as thou may. est speedily become a great preacher of the word. I wish it heartily.

Thine, “ In every thing that is praise-worthy, Tom's coffee-house in Birchin-lane, the 23d day of

" Tom TREMBLE." the month called July.

It happens very oddly that the pope and I should have the same thought much about the same time. My enemies will be apt to say that we hold a correspondence together, and act by concert in this matter. Let that be as it will, I shall not be ashamed to join with his holiness in those particulars which are indifferent between us, especially when it is for the reformation of the finer half of mankind. We are both of us about the same age, and consider this fashion in the same view. I hope that it will not be able to resist his bull and my lion. I am only afraid that our ladies will take occasion, from hence, to show their 'zeal for the protestant religion, and pretend to expose their naked bosoms only in opposition to popery.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

LOOKING over the late edition of Monsieur Boileau's works, I was very much pleased with the article which he has added to his notes on the translation of Longinus. He there tells us,

that the sublime in writing rises either from the nobleness of the thought, the magnificence of the words, or the harmonious and

1 Boileau-Réflexions critiques sur quelques passages du Rhéteur Longin, Refl. xii.-G.

lively turn of the phrase, and that the perfect sublime arises from all these three in conjunction together. He produces an instance of this perfect sublime in four verses from the Athaliah of Monsieur Racine. When Abner, one of the chief officers of the court, represents to Joad the high-priest, that the queen was incensed against him, the high-priest, not in the least terrified at the news, returns this answer.

Celui qui met un frein à la fureur des flots,
Sçait aussi des méchans arrêter les complots.
Soumis avec respect à sa volonté Sainte,
Je crains Dieu, cher Abner, et n'ai point d'autre crainte.'

• He who ruleth the raging of the sea, knows also how to check the designs of the ungodly. I submit myself with reverence to his holy will. O Abner, I fear my God, and I fear none but him.' Such a thought gives no less a sublimity to human nature, than it does to good writing. This religious fear, when it is produced by just apprehensions of a Divine Power, naturally overlooks all human greatness that stands in competition with it, and extinguishes every other terror that can settle itself in the heart of man; it lessens and contracts the figure of the most exalted person;

it disarms the tyrant and executioner, and represents to our minds the most enraged and the most powerful as altogether harmless and impotent.

There is no true fortitude which is not founded upon this fear, as there is no other principle of so settled and fixed a nature. Courage that

grows from constitution very often forsakes a man when he has occasion for it; and when it is only a kind of instinct in the soul, breaks out on all occasions, without judgment or discretion. That courage which proceeds from the sense of our duty, and from the fear of offending him that made us, acts

| Athalie, Act 1. Scene 1.-G.

always in an uniform manner, and according to the dictates of right reason.

What can the man fear, who takes care in all his actions to please a Being that is Omnipotent? A Being who is able to crush all his adversaries? A Being that can divert any misfortune from befalling him, or turn any such misfortune to his advantage? The person who lives with this constant and habitual regard to the great Superintendent of the world, is indeed sure that no real evil can come into his lot. Blessings may appear under the shape of pains, losses, and disappointments, but let him have patience, and he will see them in their proper figures. Dangers may threaten him, but he may rest satisfied that they will either not reach him, or that if they do, they will be the instruments of good to him. In short, he may

look
upon

all crosses and accidents, sufferings and afflictions, as means which are made use of to bring him to happiness. This is even the worst of that man's condition whose mind is possessed with the habituul fear of which I am now speaking. But it very often happens, that those which appear evils in our own eyes, appear also as such to him who has human nature under his care, in which case they are certainly averted from the person who has made himself, by this virtue, an object of Divine favour. Histories are full of instances of this nature, where men of virtue have had extraordinary escapes out of such dangers as have enclosed them, and which have seemed inevitable.

There is no example of this kind in Pagan history, which more pleases me, than that which is recorded in the life of Timo. leon. This extraordinary man was famous for referring all his successes to Providence. Cornelius Nepos acquaints us that he had in his house a private chapel, in which he used to pay his devotions to the goddess who represented Providence among the heathens. I think no man was ever more distinguished by the

« PreviousContinue »