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ing or evening sacrifice, and will improve those transient gleams of joy, which naturally brighten up and refresh the soul on such occasions, into an inviolable and perpetual state of bliss and happiness.
No. 397. THURSDAY, JUNE 5.
- Dolor ipse disertum
OVID. Met. xlii. 228.
As the Stoic philosophers discard all passions in general, they will not allow a wise man so much as to pity the afflictions of another. 'If thou seest thy friend in trouble, (says Epictetus,) thou mayest put on a look of sorrow, and condole with him, but take care that thy sorrow be not real.' The more rigid of this sect would not comply so far as to shew even such an outward appearance of grief; but when one told them of any calamity that had befallen even the nearest of their acquaintance, would immediately reply, "What is that to me?' If you aggravated the circumstances of the affliction, and shewed how one misfortune was followed by another, the answer was still, ‘All this may be true, but what is it to me?'
For my own part, I am of opinion, compassion does not only refine and civilize human nature, but has something in it more pleasing and agreeable, than what can be met with in such an indolent happiness, such an indifference to mankind, as that in which the Stoics placed their wisdom. As love is the most delightful passion, pity is nothing else but love softened by a degree of sorrow: in short, it is a kind of pleasing anguish, as well
as generous sympathy, that knits mankind together, and blends them in the same common lot.
Those who have laid down rules for rhetoric or poetry, advise the writer to work himself up, if possible, to the pitch of sorrow which he endeavours to produce in others. There are none, therefore, who stir up pity so much as those who indite their own sufferings. Grief has a natural eloquence belonging to it, and breaks out in more moving sentiments than can be supplied by the finest imagination. Nature on this occasion dictates a thousand passionate things which cannot be supplied by art.
It is for this reason that the short speeches or sentences which we often meet with in histories, make a deeper impression on the mind of the reader, than the most laboured strokes in a well written tragedy. Truth and matter of fact sets the person actually before us in the one, whom fiction places at a greater distance from us in the other. I do not remember to have seen any ancient or modern story more affecting than a letter of Ann of Bologne, wife to King Henry the eighth, and mother to Queen Elizabeth, which is still extant in the Cotton library, as written by her own hand.
Shakespear himself could not have made her talk in a strain so suitable to her condition and character. One sees in it the expostulations of a slighted lover, the resentments of an injured woman, and the sorrows of an imprisoned queen. I need not acquaint my reader that this princess was then under prosecution for disloyalty to the king's bed, and that she was afterwards pub. licly beheaded upon the same account, though this prosecution was believed by many to proceed, as she herself intimates, rather from the king's love to Jane Seymour, than from any actual crime in Ann of Bologne. Queen Ann Boleyn's last letter to King Henry."
* Cotton Lib. Otho, C. 10.-H.
“Your grace's displeasure and my imprisonment, are things so strange unto me, as what to write, or what to excuse, I am altogether ignorant. Whereas you send unto me (willing me to confess a truth, and so obtain your favour) by such an one, whom you know to be mine ancient professed enemy. I no sooner received this message by him, than I rightly conceived your meaning; and if, as you say, confessing a truth, indeed, may procure my safety, I shall with all willingness and duty perform your command.
“But let not your grace ever imagine, that your poor wife will ever be brought to acknowledge a fault, where not so much as a thought thereof preceded. And to speak a truth, never prince had wife more loyal in all duty, and in all true affection, than you have ever found in Ann Boleyn: with which name and place I could willingly have contented myself, if God and your grace's pleasure had been so pleased. Neither did I at any time so far forget myself in my exaltation, or received queenship, but that I always looked for such an alteration as now I find; for the ground of my preferment being on no surer foundation than your grace's fancy, the least alteration I knew was fit and sufficient to draw that fancy to some other subject. You have chosen me, from a low estate, to be your queen and companion, far beyond my desert and desire. If then you found me worthy of such honour, good your grace let not any light fancy, or bad counsel of mine enemies, withdraw your princely favour from me; neither let that stain, that unworthy stain, of a disloyal heart towards your good grace, ever cast so foul a blot on your most dutiful wife, and the infant princess your daughter. Try me, good king, but let me have a lawful trial, and let not my sworn enemies sit as my accusers and judges; yea let me receive an open trial, for my truth shall fear no open shame; then shall you see either mine
innocency cleared, your suspicion and conscience satisfied, the ignominy and slander of the world stopped, or my guilt openly declared. So that whatsoever God or you may determine of me, your grace may be freed from an open censure, and mine offence being so lawfully proved, your grace is at liberty, both before God and man, not only to execute worthy punishment on me as an unlawful wife, but to follow your affection, already settled on that party, for whose sake I am now as I am, whose name I could some good while since have pointed unto, your grace being not ignorant of my suspicion therein.
But if you have already determined of me, and that not only my death, but an infamous slander must bring you the enjoying of your desired happiness; then I desire of God, that he will pardon your great sin therein, and likewise mine enemies, the instruments thereof; and that he will not call you to a strict account for your unprincely and cruel usage of me, at his general judgment seat, where both you and myself must shortly appear, and in whose judgment I doubt not (whatsoever the world may think of me) mine innocence shall be openly known and sufficiently cleared.
“My last and only request shall be, that myself may only bear the burthen of your grace's displeasure, and that it may not touch the innocent souls of those poor gentlemen who (as I understand) are likewise in strait imprisonment for my sake. If ever I have found favour in your sight, if ever the name of Aun Boleyn bath been pleasing in your ears, then let me obtain this request, and I will so leave to trouble your grace any further, with mine earnest prayers to the Trinity to have your grace in his good keeping, and to direct you in all your actions. From may doleful prison in the Tower, this sixth of May. “Your most loyal and ever faithful wife,
4 Ann Boleyn."
No. 399. SATURDAY, JULY 7.
Ut nemo in sese tentat descendere !
Pers. Sat. iv, 28.
Hypocrisy, at the fashionable end of the town, is very different from hypocrisy in the city. The modish hypocrite endeavours to appear more vicious than he really is, the other kind of hypocrite more virtuous. The former is afraid of every thing that has the shew of religion in it, and would be thought engaged in many criminal gallantries and amours, which he is not guilty of. The latter assumes a face of sanctity, and covers a multitude of vices under a seeming religious deportment.
But there is another kind of hypocrisy, which differs from both these, and which I intend to make the subject of this paper: I mean that hypocrisy, by which a man does not only deceive the world, but very often imposes on himself; that hypocrisy which conceals his own heart from him, and makes him believe he is more virtuous than he really is, and either not attend to his vices, or mistake even his vices for virtues. It is this fatal hypocrisy and self-deceit, which is taken notice of in these words, * Who can understand his errors ? cleanse thou me from secret faults.'
If the open professors of impiety deserve the utmost applicacation and endeavours of moral writers to recover them from vice and folly, how much more may those lay a claim to their care and compassion, who are walking in the paths of death, while they fancy themselves engaged in a course of virtue! I shall endeavour, therefore, to lay down some rules for the discovery of those vices that lurk in the secret corners of the soul, and to