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for the gentleman I was to speak to, I resolved |
FROM writing the history of lions, I lately went off to that of ants; but to my great surprise, I find that some of my good readers have taken this last to be a work of invention, which was only a plain narrative of matter of fact. They will several of them have it that my last Thursday and Friday's papers are full of concealed satire, and that I have attacked people in the shape of pismires, whom I durst not meddle with in the shape of men. I must confess that I write with fear and trembling, ever since that ingenious person the Examiner, in his little pamphlet, which was to make way for one of his following papers, found out treason in the word expect.
But I shall for the future leave my friend to manage the controversy in a separate work, being unwilling to fill with disputes a paper which was undertaken purely out of good-will to my countrymen. I must therefore declare that those jealousies and suspicions, which have been raised in some weak minds, by means of the two above-mentioned discourses concerning ants or pismires, are altogether groundless. There is not an emmet in all that whole narrative who is either whig or tory; and I could
'I went home full of this strange adventure; and about a week after chancing to be in company with Mr. T. the rejected lover, whom I mentioned in the beginning of my letter, I told him the whole story of his angel, not question-heartily wish, that the individuals of all parties ing but he would feel on this occasion, the among us, had the good of their country at usual pleasures of a resenting lover, when he heart, and endeavoured to advance it by the hears that fortune has avenged him of the same spirit of frugality, justice, and mutual cruelty of his mistress. As I was recounting benevolence, as are visibly exercised by memto him at large these several particulars, I ob- bers of those little commonwealths. served that he covered his face with his hand, and that his breast heaved as though it would
After this short preface, I shall lay before my reader a letter or two which occasioned it.
have bursted, which I took at first to have been a fit of laughter; but upon lifting up his head, I saw his eyes all red with weeping. He forced a smile at the end of my story, and we parted.
"About a fortnight after, I received from him the following letter.
"I am infinitely obliged to you for bringing me news of my angel. I have since married her, and think the low circumstances she was reduced to a piece of good luck to both of us, since it has quite removed that little pride and vanity, which was the only part of her character that I disliked, and given me an opportunity of showing her the constant and sincere affection which I professed to her in the time of her prosperity."
No. 160.] Monday, September 14, 1713.
Solventur risu tabulæ, tu missus abibis.
'I have laid a wager with a friend of mine about the pigeons that used to peck up the corn which belonged to the ants. I say that by these pigeons you meant the Palatines. He will needs have it that they were the Dutch. We both agree that the papers upon the strings which frighted them away were pamphlets, Examiners, and the like. We beg you will satisfy us in this particular, because the wager is very considerable, and you will much oblige two of
sentence to draw up an indictment that"-He here lost his voice a second time in the extremity of his rage; and the whole company, who were all of them tories, bursting out into a sudden laugh, he threw down his penny in great wrath, and retired with a most formidable frown.
'Why so rusty? will you never leave your innuendoes? Do you think it hard to find out who is the tulip in your last Thursday's paper? Or can you imagine that three nests of ants is such a disguise, that the plainest reader cannot see three kingdoms through it? The blowing up of a neighbouring settlement, where the was a race of poor beggarly ants, under a worse form of government, is not so difficult to be explained as you imagine. Dunkirk is not yet demolished. Your ants are enemies to rain, are they! old Birmingham: no more of your ants, if you don't intend to stir up a nest of hornets.
• WILL WASP.'
'This, sir, I thought fit to acquaint you with, that you may make what use of it you please. I only wish that you would sometimes diversify your papers with many other pieces of natural history, whether of insects or animals; this being a subject which the most common reader is capable of understanding, and which is very diverting in its nature; besides that, it highly redounds to the praise of that Being who has inspired the several parts of the sensitive world with such wonderful and different kinds of instinct as enable them to provide for themselves, and preserve their species in that state of existence wherein they are placed. There is no party concerned in speculations of this nature, which, instead of inflaming those unnatural heats that prevail among us, and take up most of our thoughts, may divert our minds to subjects that are useful, and suited to reasonable creatures. Dissertations of this kind are the more proper for your purpose, as they do not require any depth of mathematics, or any previous science to qualify the reader for the understanding of them. To this I might add, that it is a shame for men to be ignorant of these worlds of wonders which are transacted in the midst of them, and not be acquainted with those objects which are every where betheir eyes. To which I might further add, that several are of opinion, there is no other use in many of these creatures than to furnish matter of contemplation and wonder to those inhabitants of the earth, who are its only creatures that are capable of it. 'I am, Sir,
Calling in yesterday at a coffee-house in the city, I saw a very short, corpulent, angry man reading your paper about the ants. I observed that he reddened and swelled over every sentence of it. After having perused it through-fore out, he laid it down upon the table, called the woman of the coffee-house to him, and asked her in a magisterial voice, if she knew what she did in taking in such papers! The woman was in such a confusion, that I thought it a piece of charity to interpose in her behalf, and asked him whether he had found any thing in it of dangerous import? Sir," said he, it is a republican paper from one end to the other, and if the author had his deserts"-He here grew so exceeding choleric and fierce, that he could not proceed; till after having recovered himself, he laid his finger upon the following sentence, and read it with a very stern voice-" Though ants are very knowing, I do not take them to be conjurers: and therefore they could not guess that I had put some corn in that room. I perceived for several days that they were very much perplexed, and went a great way to fetch their provisions. I was not willing for some time to make them more easy: for I had a mind to know whether theyfying to the town what concerns the greatest would at last find out the treasure, and see it at a great distance, and whether smelling enabled them to know what is good for their nourishment." Then throwing the paper upon the table-"Sir," says he, these things are got to be suffered-1 would engage out of this
⚫ MOST VENERABLE NESTOR,
As you are a person that very eminently distinguish yourself in the promotion of the public good, I desire your friendship in signi
good of life, health. I do assure you, sir, there is in a vault under the Exchange in Cornhill, over-against Pope's-head-alley, a parcel of French wines, full of the seeds of good humour, cheerfulness, and friendly mirth. I have been told, the learned of our nation agree, there is
Your constant reader,
and humble servant.'
After having presented my reader with this set of letters, which are all upon the same subject, I shall here insert one that has no relation to it. But it has always been my maxim, never to refuse going out of my way to do any honest man a service, especially when I have an interest in it myself.
The sense of honour is of so fine and delicate a nature, that it is only to be met with in minds which are naturally noble, or in such as have been cultivated by great examples, or a refined education. This paper therefore is chiefly desigued for those who by means of any of these advantages are, or ought to be actuated by this glorious principle.
But as nothing is more pernicious than a principle of action, when it is misunderstood, I shall consider honour with respect to three sorts of men: First of all, with regard to those who have a right notion of it: Secondly, with regard to those who have a mistaken notion of it and Thirdly, with regard to those who treat it as chimerical, and turn it into ridicule. In the first place, true honour, though it be a different principle from religion, is that which produces the same effects. The lines of action, though drawn from different parts, terminate in the same point. Religion embraces virtue, as it is enjoined by the laws of God; honour, as it is graceful and ornamental to human nature. The religious man fears, the man of honour scorns to de an ill action. The latter considers vice as something that is beneath him, the other as something that is offensive to the Divine Being. The one, as what is unbecoming; the other, as what is forbidden. Thus Seneca speaks in the natural and genuine language of a man of honour, when he declares, that were there no God to see or punish vice, he would not commit it, because it is of so mean, so base, and so vile a nature.
I shall conclude this head with the description of honour in the part of young Juba :
In the second place, we are to consider those who have mistaken notions of honour. And these are such as establish any thing to themselves for a point of honour, which is contrary either to the laws of God, or of their country; who think it more honourable to revenge than to forgive an injury; who make no scruple of telling a lie, but would put any man to death that accuses them of it; who are more careful to guard their reputation by their courage, than by their virtue. True fortitude is indeed so becoming in human nature, that he who wants it scarce deserves the name of a man; but we find several who so much abuse this notion, that they place the whole idea of honour in a kind of brutal courage; by which means we have had .nary among us who have called themselves men of honour, that would have been a disgrace to a gibbet. In a word, the man who sacrifices any duty of a reasonable creature to a prevailing mode or fashion, who looks upon any thing as honourable that is displeasing to his Maker, or destructive to society, who thinks himself obliged by this principle to the practice of some virtues and not of others, is by no means to be reckoned among true men of honour.
'Honour's a sacred tie, the law of kings,,
The noble mind's distinguishing perfection,
Timogenes was a lively instance of one actuated by false honour. Timogenes would smile at a man's jest who ridiculed bis Maker, and at the same time run a man through the body that spoke ill of his friend. Timogenes would have scorned to have betrayed a secret that was intrusted with him, though the fate of his country depended upon the discovery of it. Timogenes took away the life of a young fellow in a duel, for having spoken ill of Belinda, a lady whom he himself had seduced in her youth, and betrayed into want and ignominy. To close bis character, Timogenes, after having ruined several poor tradesmen's families who had trusted him, sold his estate to satisfy his creditors; but, like a man of honour, disposed of all the money he could make of it, in the paying off his play debts, or to speak in his own language, his debts of honour.
In the third place, we are to consider those persons, who treat this principle as chimerical, and turn it into ridicule. Men who are professedly of no honour, are of a more profligate and abandoned nature than even those who are actuated by false notions of it, as there is more hopes of a heretic than of an atheist. These sons of infamy consider honour with old Syphax, in the play before-mentioned, as a fine imaginary notion that leads astray young unexperienced men, and draws them into real mischiefs, while they are engaged in the pursuits of a shadow. These are generally persons who, in Shakspeare's phrase, are worn and hackneyed in the ways of men ;' whose imaginations are grown callous, and have lost all those delicate sentiments which are natural to
minds that are innocent and undepraved. Such old battered miscreants ridicule every thing as romantic that comes in competition with their present interest, and treat those persons as visionaries, who dare stand up in a corrupt age for what has not its immediate reward joined to it. The talents, interest, or experience of such men, make them very often useful in all parties, and at all times. But whatever wealth and dignities they may arrive at, they ought to consider, that every one stands as a blot in the annals of his country who arrives at the temple of honour by any other way than through that of virtue.
I was the other day in company at my lady Lizard's, when there came in among us their cousin Tom, who is one of those country squires that set up for plain honest gentlemen who speak their minds. Tom is in short a lively impudent clown, and has wit enough to have made him a pleasant companion, had it been polished and rectified by good manners. Tom had not been a quarter of an hour with us before he set every one in the company a blushing, by some blunt question, or unlucky observation. He asked the Sparkler if her wit had yet got her a husband; and told her eldest sister she looked a little wan under the eyes, and that it was time for her to look about her, if she did not design to lead apes in the other world. The good lady Lizard, who suffers more than her daughters on such an occasion, desired her cousin Thomas with a smile, not to be so severe on his relations; to which the booby replied, with a rude country laugh,' If I be not mistaken, aunt, you were a mother at fifteen, and why do you expect that your daughters should be maids till five-and-twenty!' I endeavoured to divert the discourse; when without taking notice of what I said, Mr. Ironside,' says he, you fill my cousins' heads with your fine notions, as you call them; can you teach them to make a pudding?' I must confess he put me out of countenance with his rustic raillery, so that I made some excuse, and left the room.
I would advise every man of learning, who would not appear in the world a mere scholar or philosopher, to make himself master of the social virtue which I have here mentioned.
This fellow's behaviour made me reflect on the usefulness of complaisance, to make all conversation agreeable. This, though in itself it be scarce reckoned in the number of moral virtues, is that which gives a lustre to every talent a man can be possessed of. It was Plato's advice to an unpolished writer, that he should sacrifice to the Graces. In the same manner
Complaisance renders a superior amiable, an equal agreeable, and an inferior acceptable. It smooths distinction, sweetens conversation, and makes every one in the company pleased with himself. It produces good nature and mutual benevolence, encourages the timorous, sooths the turbulent, humanizes the fierce, and distinguishes a society of civilized persons from a confusion of savages. In a word, complaisance is a virtue that blends all orders of men together in a friendly intercourse of words and actions, and is suited to that equality in human nature which every one ought to consider, so far as is consistent with the order and economy of the world.
If we could look into the secret anguish and affliction of every man's heart, we should often find that more of it arises from little imaginary distresses, such as checks, frowns, contradictions, expressions of contempt, and (what Shakspeare reckons among other evils under the sun)
— The proud man's contumely, The insolence of office, and the spurus That patient merit of the unworthy takes,'
than from the more real pains and calamities of life. The only method to remove these imaginary distresses as much as possible out of human life, would be the universal practice of such an ingenuous complaisance as I have been here describing, which, as it is a virtue, may be defined to be, a constant endeavour to please those whom we converse with, so far as we may do it innocently.' I shall bere add, that I know nothing so effectual to raise a man's fortune as complaisance; which recom. mends more to the favour of the great, than wit, knowledge, or any other talent whatsoever. I find this consideration very prettily illustrated by a little wild Arabian tale, which I shall here abridge, for the sake of my reader, after having again warned him, that I do not recommend to him such an impertinent or vicious complaisance as is not consistent with honour and integrity.
'Schacabac being reduced to great poverty, and having eat nothing for two days together, made a visit to a noble barmecide in Persia, who was very hospitable, but withal a great humorist. The barmecide was sitting at his table that seemed ready covered for an enter tainment. Upon hearing Schacabac's complaint, he desired him to sit down and fall on. He then gave him an empty plate, and asked him how he liked his rice soup. Schacabae, who was a man of wit, and resolved to comply with the barmecide in all bis humours, told him it was admirable, and at the same time, in imitation of the other, lifted up the empty
spoon to his mouth with great pleasure. The
You oblige me mightily," replied the bar- No. 163.] Thursday, September 17, 1713.
mecide, pray let me help you to this leg of a
As he was eating very heartily on this ima-
reality with those very things which he had before been entertained with in imagination.'
-miserum est alienâ vivere quadra
WHEN I am disposed to give myself a day's rest, I order the lion to be opened, and search into that magazine of intelligence for such letters as are to my purpose. The first I looked into comes to me from one who is chaplain to a great family. He treats himself in the beginning of it, after such a manner, as I am persuaded no man of sense would treat him. Even the lawyer and the physician to a man of quality, expect to be used like gentlemen, and much more may any one of so superior a profession. I am by no means for encouraging that dispute, whether the chaplain or the master of the house be the better man, and the more to be respected. The two learned authors, doctor Hickes and Mr. Collier, to whom I might add several others, are to be excused, if they have carried the point a little too high in favour of the chaplain, since in so corrupt an age as that we live in, the popular opinion runs so far into the other extreme. The only controversy, between the patron and the chaplain, ought to be, which should promote the good designs and interests of each other most, and for my own part, I think it is the happiest circumstance in a great estate or title, that it qualifies a man for choosing out of such a learned and valuable body of men as that of the English clergy, a friend, a spiritual guide, and a companion. The letter I have received from one of this order, is as follows:
'I hope you will not only indulge me in the liberty of two or three questions, but also in the solution of them.
'I have had the honour many years of being chaplain to a noble family, and of being accounted the highest servant in the house, either out of respect to my cloth, or because I lie in the uppermost garret.
'Whilst my old lord lived, his table was always adorned with useful learning and innocent mirth, as well as covered with plenty. I was not looked upon as a piece of furniture fit only to sanctify and garnish a feast, but treated as a gentleman, and generally desired to fill up the conversation an hour after I had done my duty. But now my young lord is come to the estate, I find I am looked upon as a censor morum an obstacle to mirth and talk, and suffered to retire constantly with Prosperity to the church" in my mouth. I declare solemnly, sir,