페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

tions may

be drawn from his wise answers to people of less fortitude than himself on her subject. A friend, with indignation, asked how so good a man could live with so violent a creature? He observed to him, that they who learn to keep a good seat on horseback, mount the least manageable they can get; and, when they have mastered them, they are sure never to be discomposed on the backs of steeds less restive. At several times, to different persons, on the same subject he has said, “My dear friend, you are beholden to Xantippe, that I bear so well your flying out in a dispute.' To another, “My hen clacks very much, but she brings me chickens. They that live in a trading street are not disturbed at the

passage of carts. I would have, if possible, a wise man be contented with his lot, even with a shrew ; for, though he cannot make her better, he may, you see, make himself better by her means.

But, instead of pursuing my design of displaying conjugal love in its natural beauties and attractions, I am got into tales to the disadvantage of that state of life. I must say, therefore, that I am verily persuaded, that whatever is delightful in human life, is to be enjoyed in greater perfection in the married than in the single condition. He that has this passion in perfection, in occasions of joy, can say to himself, besides his own satisfaction, How happy will this make my wife and children !' upon occurrences of distress or danger, can comfort himself, • But all this while my wife and children are safe.' There is something in it, that doubles satisfactions, because others participate them; and dispels afflictions, because others are exempt from them. All who are married without this relish of their circumstance are in either a tasteless indolence and negligence which is hardly to be attained, or else live in the hourly repetition of sharp answers, eager upbraidings, and distracting reproaches. In a word, the married state, with and without the affection suitable to it, is the completest image of heaven and hell we are capable of receiving in this life.

T

No. 480. WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 10, 1712.

Responsare cupidinibus, contemnere honores
Fortis, et in seipso totus teres atque rotundus.

HOR. SAT. ii. 7. 85.
He, Sir, is proof to grandeur, pride, or pelf,
And, greater still, he's master of himself :
Not to and fro by fears and factions hurlid,
But loose to all the interests of the world ;
And while the world turns round, entire and whole,
He keeps the sacred tenour of his soul.

PITT.

The other day, looking over those old manuscripts of which I have formerly given some account, and which relate to the character of the mighty Pharamond of France, and the close friendship between him and his friend Eucrate, I found among the letters, which had been in the custody of the latter, an epistle from a country gentleman to Pharamond, wherein he excuses himself from coming to court. tleman, it seems, was contented with his condition, had formerly been in the king's service, but, at the writing the following letter, had, from leisure and reflection, quite another sense of things than that which he had in the more active part of his life.

The genMONSIEUR CHIEZLUY TO PHARAMOND. DREAD SIR, 'I HAVE from your own hand, enclosed under the cover of Mr. Eucrate, of your majesty's bedchamber, a letter which invites me to court. I understand this great honour to be done me out of respect and inclination to me, rather than regard to your own service; for which reason I beg leave to lay before your majesty my reasons for declining to depart from home; and will not doubt but as your motive in desiring my attendance was to make me a happier man, when you think that will not be effected by my remove, you will permit me to stay where I am. Those who have an ambition to appear in courts, have ever an opinion that their persons or their talents are particularly formed for the service or ornament of that place; or else are hurried by downright desire of gain, or what they call honour, to take upon themselves whatever the generosity of their master can give them opportunities to grasp at.

But your goodness shall not be thus imposed upon by me: I will therefore confess to you, that frequent solitude, and long conversation with such who know no arts which polish life, have made me the plainest creature in your

dominions. Those less capacities of moving with a good grace, bearing a ready affability to all around me, and acting with ease before many, have quite left

I am come to that, with regard to my person, that I consider it only as a machine I am obliged to take care of, in order to enjoy my soul in its faculties with alacrity; well remembering that this habitation of clay will in a few years be a meaner piece of earth than any utensil about my house. When this is, as it really is, the most frequent reflection I have, you will easily imagine how well I should

me.

become a drawing-room : add to this, what shall a man without desires do about the generous Pharamond? Monsieur Eucrate has hinted to me that you have thoughts of distinguishing me with titles. As for myself, in the temper of my present mind, appellations of honour would but embarrass discourse, and new behaviour towards me perplex me in every habitude of life. I am also to acknowledge to you, that my children, of whom your majesty condescended to inquire, are all of them mean, both in their

persons and genius. The estate my eldest son is heir to, is more than he can enjoy with a good grace. My self-love will not carry me so far as to impose upon mankind the advancement of

persons, merely for their being related to me, into high distinctions, who ought for their own sakes, as well as that of the public, to affect obscurity. I wish, my generous prince, as it is in your power to give honours and offices, it were also to give talents suitable to them ; were it so, the noble Pharamond would reward the zeal of my youth with abilities to do him service in my age.

• Those who accept of favour without merit, support themselves in at the

of

your majesty. Give me leave to tell you, Sir, this is the reason that we in the country hear so often repeated the word prerogative. That part of your law which is reserved in yourself, for the readier service and good of the public, slight men are eternally buzzing in our ears to cover their own follies and miscarriages. It would be an addition to the high favour you have done me, if you would let Eucrate send me word how often, and in what cases you allow a constable to insist upon the prerogative. From the highest to the lowest officer in your dominions, something of their own carriage they would exempt from examination, under the shelter of the word prerogative. I would fain, most noble Pharamond, see one of your officers assert your prerogative by good and gracious actions. When is it used to help the afflicted, to rescue the innocent, to comfort the stranger? Uncommon methods, apparently undertaken to attain worthy ends, would never make power invidious. You see, Sir, I talk to you with the freedom your noble nature approves

expense

in all whom

you

admit to your conversation.

· But, to return to your majesty's letter, I humbly conceive that all distinctions are useful to men, only as they are to act in public; and it would be a romantic madness for a man to be a lord in his closet. Nothing can be honourable to a man apart from the world, but the reflection upon worthy actions; and he that places honour in a consciousness of welldoing, will have but little relish for any outward homage that is paid him, since what gives him distinction to himself, cannot come within the observation of his beholders. Thus all the words of lordship, honour, and grace, are only repititions to a man that the king has ordered him to be called so ; but no evidences that there is any thing in himself, that would give the man, who applies to him, those ideas, without the creation of his master.

I have, most noble Pharamond, all honours and all titles in your own approbation : I triumph in them as they are your gift, I refuse them as they are to give me the observation of others. Indulge me, my noble master, in this chastity of renown; let me know myself in the favour of Pharamond ; and look down upon the applause of the people. I am,

• In all duty and loyalty,
• Your majesty's most obedient
subject and servant,

JEAN CHEZLUY.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« 이전계속 »