페이지 이미지

that few masters are able to keep their temper whilst they correct. I knew a good-natured man, who was sensible of his own weakness in this respect, and consequently had recourse to the following expedient to prevent his passions from being engaged, yet at the same time adminster justice with impartiality. Whenever any of his pupils committed a fault, he summoned a jury of his peers, I mean of the boys of his own or the next classes to him his accusers stood forth; he had liberty of pleading in his own defence, and one or two more had the liberty of pleading against him: when found guilty by the pannel, he was consigned to the footman, who attended in the house, and had previous orders to punish, but with lenity. By this means. the master took off the odiuin of punishment from himself; and the footman, between whom and the boys there could not be even the slightest intimacy, was placed in such a light as to be shunned by every boy in the school.


AN alehonse-keeper, near Islington, who had long

lived at the sign of the French King, upon the commencement of the late war with France, pulled down his old sign, and put up that of the Queen of Hungary. Under the influence of her red face and golden sceptre, he continued to sell ale, till she was no longer the favourite of his customers; he changed her, therefore, some time ago, for the King of Prussia; who may probably be changed in turn, for the

next great man that shall be set ap for vulgar admiration.

Our publican, in this, imitates the great exactly, who deal out their figures, one after the other, to the gazing crowd. When we have sufficiently won. dered at one, it is taken in, and another exhibited in its room, which seldom holds its station long; for the mob are ever pleased with variety.

I must own, I have such an indifferent opinion of the vulgar, that I am ever led to suspect that merit which raises their shout; at least, I am certain to find those great, and sometimes good, men, who find satisfaction in such acclamations, made worse by it; and history has too frequently tanght me, that the head which has grown this day giddy with the roar of the million, has the very next been fixed upon a pole.

As Alexander VI. was entering a little town in the neighbourhood of Rome, which had been just evacuated by the enemy, he perceived the townsmen busy in the market.place in pulling down from a gibbet a figure which had been designed to represent himself. There were also some knocking down a neighbouring statue of one of the Orsini family, with whom he was at war, in order to put Alexander's effigy it its place. It is possible a man who knew less of the world would have condemned the adulation of those bare-faced flatterers; but Alex. ander seemed pleased at their zeal, and turning to Borgia, his son, said with a smile, ' Vides, mi fili, quam leve discrimen patibulum inter et statuam:You see, my son, the small difference between a gibbet and a statue.' If the great could be taught any lesson, this might serve to teach them upon how weak a foundation their glory stands, for as popular applause; is excited by what seems like



merit, it as quickly condemns what has only the appearance of guilt.

Popular glory is a perfect cognet; her lovers must toil, feel every inqnietude, indulge every caprice; and, perhaps, at last, be jilted for their pains. True glory, on the other hand, resembles a woman of sense : her admirers must play no tricks; they feel no great anxiety, for they are sure, in the end, of being rewarded in proportion to their merit. When Swift used to appear in public, he generally had the mob shouting in his train.

• Pox take these fools,' he would say; how much joy might all this bawling give my lord mayor!'

We have seen those virtues which have, while living, retired from the public eye, generally transmitted to posterity, as the truest objects of admiration and praise. Perhaps the character of the late Duke of Marlborough may one day be set up, even above that of his more talked-of predecessor; since an assemblage of all the mild and amiable virtues are far superior to those volgarly called the great ones. I must be pardoned for this short tribute to the memory of a man, who, while living, would as much detest to receive any thing that wore the appearance of Aattery, as I should to offer it.

I know not how to turn so trite a subject ont of the beaten road of common-place, except by illustrating it rather by the assistance of my memory than judgment; and, instead of making reflections, by telling a story.

A Chinese, who had long studied the works of Confucius, who knew the characters of fourteen thousand words, and could read a great part of every book that came in his way, once took it into his head to travel into Europe, and observe the customs of a people whoin he thought not very

[ocr errors]

much inferior, even to his own countrymen, in the arts of refining upon every pleasure. Upon his arriyal at Amsterdam, his passion for letters naturally led him to a bookseller's shop; and, as he could speak a little Dutch, he civilly asked the bookseller for the works of the immortal Xixofou. The bookseller assnred him he had never heard the book mentioned before. • What! have you never heard of that immortal poet?' returned the other, much surprised ; ' that light of the eyes, that favonrite of kings, that rose of perfection! I suppose you know nothing of the immortal Fipsihihi, second consin to the moon ?' 'Nothing at all, indeed, sir,' returned the other. 'Alas!' cries our traveller,'to what purpose, then, has one of these fasted to death, and the other offered himself up as a sacrifice to the Tartar enemy, to gain a renown which has never travelled beyond the precincts of China?'

There is scarce a village in Europe, and not one university, that is not thus farnished with its little great men. The head of a petty corporation, who opposes the designs of a prince who would tyranni. cally force his subjects to save their best clothes for Sundays ; the puny pedant who finds one undisco. vered property in the polype, or describes an unheeded process in the skeleton of a mole, and whose mind, like his microscope, perceives nature only in detail; the rhymer, who makes smooth verses, and paints to our imagination, when he should only speak to our hearts; all equally fancy themselves walking forward to immortality, and desire the crowd behind them to look on. The crowd takes them at their word. Patriot, philosopher, and poet, are shouted in their turn. Where was there ever so mucb merit seen? No times so important as our own; ages, yet unborn, shall gaze with wonder and

applause! To such music, the important pigmy moves forward, bustling and swelling, and aptly compar'd to a puddle in a storm.

I have lived to see generals who once had crowds hallooing after them wherever they went, who were be-praised by, newspapers and magazines, those echoes of the voice of the vulgar, and yet they have long sunk into merited obscurity, with scarce even an epitaph left to flatter. A few years ago, the herring-fishery employed all Grub street; it was the topic in every coffee-house, and the burden of every ballad. We were to drag up oceans of gold from the bottom of the sea; we were to supply all Europe with herrings upon our own terms. At present we hear no more of all this. We have fished up very little gold, that I can learn; nor do we. furnish the world with herrings, as was expected. Let us wait but a few years longer, and we shall find all our expectations a herring-fishery.




E essayists, who are allowed but one subject at a time, are by no means so fortunate as the writers of magazines, who write upon several. If a magaziner be dull upon the Spanish war, he soon has us up again with the ghost in Cock-lane; if the reader begins to doze upon that, he is quickly roused by an eastern tale; tales prepare us for poetry, and poetry for the meteorological history of the wea ther. It is the life and soul of a magazine, never to be long dull upon one subject; and the reader

« 이전계속 »