페이지 이미지
[ocr errors]

the friendship and assistance of Ariana, who, dy- and that in their hearts they rather envy than coning soon after, left them in possession of a large demn that levity they affect to despise. estate, and in her last moments confessed, that The Spectator, whose constant object was the virtue was the only path to true glory; and that good of mankind in general, and of his own nation however innocence may for a time be depressed, in particular, should, according to his own princi. a steady perseverance will in time lead it to a cer- ples, place cheerfulness among the most desirable tain victory.

qualities; and probably, whenever he contradicts himself in this particular, it is only to conform to

the tempers of the people whom he addresses. THE SENTIMENTS OF A FRENCH- He asserts, that gaiety is one great obstacle to the

MAN ON THE TEMPER OF THE prudent conduct of women. But are those of a ENGLISH.

melancholic temper, as the English women gene

rally are, less subject to the foibles of love ? I am Nothing is so uncommon among the English acquainted with some doctors in this science, to as that easy affability, that instant method of ac- whose judgment I would more willingly refer than quaintance, or that cheerfulness of disposition, to his. And perhaps, in reality, persons naturally which make in France the charm of every socie- of a gay temper are too easily taken off by differty. Yet in this gloomy reserve they seem to pride ent objects, to give themselves up to all the exthemselves, and think themselves less happy if cesses of this passion. obliged to be more social. One may assert, with Mr. Hobbes, a celebrated philosopher of his naout wronging them, that they do not study the tion, maintains that laughing proceeds from our method of going through life with pleasure and pride alone. This is only a paradox if asserted of tranquillity like the French. Might not this be a laughing in general, and only argues that misanproof that they are not so much philosophers as thropical disposition for which he was remarkable. they imagine ? Philosophy is no more than the To bring the causes he assigns for laughing unart of making ourselves happy : that is in seeking der suspicion, it is sufficinnt to remark, that proud pleasure in regularity, and reconciling what we people are commonly those who laugh least. owe to society with what is due to ourselves. Gravity is the inseparable companion of pride. To

This cheerfulness, which is the characteristic of say that a man is vain, because the humour of a Jur nation, in the eye of an Englishman passes al- writer, or the buffooneries of a harlequin, excite his most for folly. But is their gloominess a greater laughter, would be advancing a great absurdity. mark of their wisdom ? and, folly against folly, is We should distinguish between laughter inspired not the most cheerful sort the best? If our gaiety by joy, and that which arises from mockery. The makes them sad, they ought not to find it strange malicious sneer is improperly called laughter. It if their seriousness makes us laugh.

must be owned, that pride is the parent of such As this disposition to levity is not familiar to laughter as this: but this is in itself vicious; them, and as they look on every thing as a fault whereas the other sort has nothing in its princiwhich they do not find at homne, the English who ples or effects that deserves condemnation. We live among us are hurt by it. Several of their au- find this amiable in others, and is it unhappiness thors reproach us with it as a vice, or at least as a to feel a disposition towards it in ourselves? ridicule.

When I see an Englishman laugh, I fancy I Mr. Addison styles us a comic nation. In my rather see him hunting after joy than having opinion, it is not acting the philosopher on this caught it: and this is more particularly remarkapoint, to regard as a fault that quality which con- ble in their women, whose tempers are inclined to tributes most to the pleasure of society and happi- melancholy. A laugh leaves no more traces on ness of life. Plato, convinced that whatever makes their countenance than a flash of lightning on the men happier makes them better, advises to neglect face of the heavens. The most laughing air is innothing that may excite and convert to an early stantly succeeded by the most gloomy. One habit this sense of joy in children. Seneca places would be apt to think that their souls open with it in the first rank of good things. Certain it is, difficulty to joy, or at least that joy is not pleased at least, that gaiety may be a concomitant of all with its habitation there. sorts of virtue, but that there are some vices with In regard to fine raillery, it must be allowed that which it is incompatible.

it is not natural to the English, and therefore those As to him who laughs at every thing, and him who endeavour at it make but an ill figure. Some who laughs at nothing, neither has sound judg- of their authors have candidly confessed, that ment. All the difference I find between them is, | pleasantry is quite foreign to their character ; but That the last is constantly the most unhappy. according to the reason they give, they lose nothing 'Those who speak against cheerfulness, prove no- by this confession. Bishop Sprat gives the fol. thing else but that they were born melancholic, lowing one; "The English,' says he, “have too


much bravery to be derided, and too much virtue what people ate, and drank, and saw, was not wnat and honour to mock others."

they ate, and drank, and saw, but something further, which they were fond of because they were

ignorant of it. In short, nothing was itself, but THE BEE, No. VIII.

something beyond itself; and by these artifices and amusements the heads of the world were so turned

and intoxicated, that at last there was scarcely a SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 1759.

sound set of brains left in it.

In this state of giddiness and infatuation it was

no very hard task to persuade the already deluded, ON DECEIT AND FALSEHOOD. that there was an actual society and communion

between human creatures and spiritual demons. The following account is so judiciously conceived And when they had thus put people into the power

that I am convinced the reader will be more and clutches of the devil, none but they alone could pleased with it than with any thing of mine, so have either skill or strength to bring the prisoners I shall make no apology for this new publication. back again.

But so far did they carry this dreadful drollery,

and so fond were they of it, that to maintain it and Sir,

themselves in profitable repute, they literally sacri. Deceit and falsehood have ever been an over- ficed for it, and made impious victims of number. match for truth, and followed and admired by the less old women and other miserable persons, who majority of mankind. If we inquire after the rea- either, through ignorance, could not say what they son of this, we shall find it in our own imagina. were bid to say, or, through madness, said what tions, which are amused and entertained with the they should not have said. Fear and stupidity perpetual novelty and variety that fiction affords, made them incapable of defending themselves, and but find no manner of delight in the uniform sim- frenzy and infatuation made them confess guilty plicity of homely truth, which still sues them un- impossibilities, which produced cruel sentences, der the same appearance.

and then inhuman executions. He, therefore, that would gain our hearts, must Some of these wretched mortals, finding themmake his court to our fancy, which, being sovereign selves either hateful or terrible to all, and befriendcomptroller of the passions, lets them loose, and in- ed by none, and perhaps wanting the common nefames them more or less, in proportion to the force cessaries of life, came at last to abhor themselves as and efficacy of the first cause, which is ever the much as they were abhorred by others, and grew more powerful the more new it is. Thus in mathe- willing to be burnt or hanged out of a world which matical demonstrations themselves, though they was no other to them than a scene of persecution seem to aim at pure truth and instruction, and to and anguish. be addressed to our reason alone, yet I think it is Others of strong imaginations and little underpretty plain, that our understanding is only made standings were, by positive and repeated charges a drudge to gratify our invention and curiosity, and against them, of committing mischievous and suwe are pleased, not so much because our discoveries pernatural facts and villanies, deluded to judge of are certain, as because they are new.

themselves by the judgment of their enemies, whose I do not deny but the world is still pleased with weakness or malice prompted them to be accusers. things that pleased it many years ago, but it should And many have been condemned as witches and at the same time be considered, that man is na- dealers with the devil, for no other reason but their turally so much of a logician, as to distinguish be- knowing more than those who accused, triod, and tween matters that are plain and easy, and others passed sentence upon them. that are hard and inconceivable. What we un In these cases, credulity is a much greater error derstand, we overlook and despise, and what we than infidelity, and it is safer to believe nothing know nothing of, we hug and delight in. Thus than too much. A man that believes little or no there are such things as perpetual novelties; for we thing of witchcraft will destroy nobody for being are pleased no longer than we are amazed, and no- under the imputation of it; and so far he certainly thing so much contents us as that which con- acts with humanity to others, and safety to himfounds us.

self: but he that credits all, or too much, upon This weakness in human nature gave occasion that article, is obliged, if he acts consistently with to a party of men to make such gainful markets as his persuasion, to kill all those whom he takes to they have done of our credulity. All objects and be the killers of mankind; and such are witches, faces whatever now ceased to be what they had been It would be a jest and a contradiction to say, tha for ever before, and received what make and mean- he is for sparing them who are harmless of that ing it was found convenient to put upon them : Itribe, since the received notion of their supposed

contract with the devil implies that they are en If we inquire what are the common marks and gaged, by covenant and inclination, to do all the symptoms by which witches are discovered to be mischief they possibly can.

such, we shall see how reasonably and mercifully I have heard many stories of witches, and read those poor creatures were burnt and hanged who many accusations against them; but I do not re- unhappily fell under that name. member any that would have induced me to have In the first place, the old woman must be proconsigned over to the halter or the flame any of digiously ugly; her eyes hollow and red. her face those deplorable wretches, who, as they share our shriveled; she goes douole, and her voice tremlikeness and nature, ought to share our compas- bles. It frequently happens, that this rueful figure sion, as persons cruelly accused of impossibilities. frightens a child into the palpitation of the heart:

But we love to delude ourselves, and often fancy home he runs, and tells his mamma, that Goody or forge an effect, and then set ourselves as gravely Such-a-one looked at him, and he is very ill. The as ridiculously to find out the cause. Thus, for good woman cries out, her dear baby is bewitched, example, when a dream or the hyp has given us and sends for the parson and the constable. false terrors, or imaginary pains, we immediately It is moreover necessary that she be very poor. conclude that the infernal tyrant owes us a spite, It is true, her master Satan has mines and hidden and inflicts his wrath and stripes upon us by the treasures in his gift; but no matter, she is for all hands of some of his sworn servants among us. that very poor, and lives on alms. She goes to For this end an old woman is promoted to a seat Sisly the cook-maid for a dish of broth, or the heel in Satan's privy-council, and appointed his execu- of a loaf, and Sisly denies them to her. The old tioner-in-chief within her district. So ready and woman goes away muttering, and perhaps in less civil are we to allow the devil the dominion over than a month's time, Sisly hears the voice of a us, and even to provide him with butchers and cat, and strains her ancles, which are certain signs hangmen of our own make and nature.

that she is bewitched. I have often wondered why we did not, in choos A farmer sees his cattle die of the murrain, and ing our proper officers for Beelzebub, lay the lot his sheep of the rot, and poor Goody is forced to rather upon men than women, the former being be the cause of their death, because she was sen more bold and robust, and more equal to that talking to herself the evening before such an ewe bloody service; but upon inquiry, I find it has departed, and had been gathering sticks ai the side been so ordered for two reasons: first, the men of the wood where such a cow run mad. having the whole direction of this affair, are wise The old woman has always for her companion enough to slip their own necks out of the collar; an old gray cat, which is a disguised devil too, and and secondly, an old woman is grown by custom confederate with Goody in works of darkness. the most avoided and most unpitied creature under They frequently go journeys into Egypt upon a the sun, the very name carrying contempt and sa- broom-staff in half an hour's time, and now and tire in it. And so far indeed we pay but an un- then Goody and her cat change shapes. The courtly sort of respect to Satan, in sacrificing to neighbours often overhear them in deep and solemn him nothing but dry sticks of human nature. discourse together, plotting some dreadful mischief

We have a wondering quality within us, which you may be sure. finds huge gratification when we see strange feats There is a famous way of trying witches, ro done, and can not at the same time see the doer or commended by King James I. The old woman the cause. Such actions are sure to be attributed is tied hand and foot, and thrown into the river, to some witch or demon; for if we come to find and if she swims she is guilty, and taken out and they are slily performed by artists of our own spe- burnt; but if she is innocent, she sinks, and is cies, and by causes purely natural, our delight dies only drowned. with our amazement.

The witches are said to meet their master freIt is, therefore, one of the most unthankful offi- quently in churches and church-yards. I wonces in the world, to go about to expose the mis- der at the boldness of Satan and his congregation, taken notions of witchcraft and spirits ; it is robbing in revelling and playing mountebank farces on con. mankind of a valuable imagination, and of the secrated ground; and I have so often wondered at privilege of being deceived. Those who at any the oversight and ill policy of some people in alime undertook the task, have always met with lowing it possible. rough treatment and ill language for their pains, It would have been both dangerous and impious and seldom escaped the imputation of atheism, be to have treated this subject at one certain time in cause they would not allow the devil to be too pow. this ludicrous manner. It used to be managed erful for the Almighty. For my part, I am so much with all possible gravity, and even terror: and ina heretic as to believe, that God Almighty, and not deed it was made a tragedy in all its parts, and obe devil, governs the world.

thousands were sacrificed, or rather murdered, bs



such evidence and colours, as, God be thanked ! | to pleasure, and language was by them cultivated we are this day ashamed of. An old woman may only as a mode of elegance. Hence it became pe miserable now, and not be hanged for it. more enervated, and was dashed with quainti esses,

which gave the public writings of those times a

very illiberal air. AN ACCOUNT OF THE AUGUSTAN

L'Estrange, who was by no means so bad a AGE OF ENGLAND.

writer as some have represented hiin, was sunk in

party faction ; and having generally the worst side The history of the rise of language and learn- of the argument, often had recourse to scolding, ing is calculated to gratify curiosity rather than to pertness, and consequently a vulgarity that dissatisfy the understanding. An account of that covers itself even in his more liberal compositions. period only when language and learning arrived He was the first writer who regularly enlisted at its highest perfection, is the most conducive to himself under the banners of a party for pay, and real improvement, since it at once raises emulation fought for it through right and wrong for upwards and directs to the proper objects. The age of Leo of forty literary campaigns. This intrepidity X. in Italy is confessed to be the Augustan age gained him the esteem of Cromwell himself, and with them. The French writers seem agreed to the papers he wrote even just before the revolution, give the same appellation to that of Louis XIV.; almost with the rope about his neck, have his usual but the English are yet undetermined with respect characters of impudence and perseverance. That to themselves.

he was a standard writer can not be disowned, beSome have looked upon the writers in the times cause a great many very eminent authors formed of Queen Elizabeth as the true standard for future their style by his. But his standard was far from imitation; others have descended to the reign of being a just one ; though, when party consideraJames I. and others still lower, to that of Charles 11. tions are set aside, he certainly was possessed of Were I to be permitted to offer an opinion upon this elegance, ease, and perspicuity. subject, I should readily give my vote for the reign Dryden, though a great and undisputed genius, of Queen Anne, or some years before that period. had the same cast as L'Estrange. Even his plays It was then that taste was united to genius; and discover him to be a party man, and the same prinas before our writers charmed with their strength ciple infects his style in subjects of the lightest of thinking, so then they pleased with strength nature; but the English tongue, as it stands at and grace united. In that period of British glory, present, is greatly his debtor. He first gave it rethough no writer attracts our attention singly, gular harmony, and discovered its latent powers. yet, like stars lost in each other's brightness, they It was his pen that formed the Congreves, the have cast such a lustre upon the age in which they Priors, and the Addisons, who succeeded him; lived, that their minutest transactions will be at- and had it not been for Dryden, we never should tended to by posterity with a greater eagerness than have known a Pope, at least in the meridian lustre the most important occurrences of even empires he now displays. But Dryden's excellencies as a which have been transacted in greater obscurity. writer were not confined to poetry alone. There

At that period there seemed to be a just balance is, in his prose writings, an ease and elegance that between patronage and the press. Before it, men have never yet been so well united in works of were little esteemed whose only merit was genius; taste or criticism. and since, men who can prudently be content to The English language owes very little to Otway, catch the public, are certain of living without de- though, next to Shakspeare, the greatest genius pendence. But the writers of the period of which England ever produced in tragedy. His excellenI am speaking were sufficiently esteemed by the cies lay in painting directly from nature, in catch great, and not rewarded enough by booksellers to ing every emotion just as it rises from the soul, and set them above independence. Fame, conse- in all the powers of the moving and pathetic. He quently, then was the truest road to happiness; a 'appears to have had no learning, no critical knowsedulous attention to the mechanical business of ledge, and to have lived in great distress. When the day makes the present never failing resource. he died (which he did in an obscure house near

The age of Charles II., which our countrymen 'the Minories), he had about him the copy of a verm the age of wit and immorality, produced tragedy, which, it seems, he had sold for a trifle to some writers that at once served to improve our Bentley the bookseller. I have seen an advertiselanguage and corrupt our hearts. The king him- ment at the end of one of D'Estrange's political self had a large share of knowledge, and some wit; papers, offering a reward to any one who should and his courtiers were generally men who had bring it to his shop. What an invaluable treasure been brought up in the school of affliction and ex. was there irretrievably lost, by the ignorance and perience. For this reason, when the sunshine of neglect of the age he lived in! their fortune returned, they gave too great a loose Lee had a great command of language, and vası


force of expression, both which the best of our his friends, which always happens when a man succeeding dramatic poets thought proper to take distinguishes himself in party; but there is in it no for their models. Rowe, in particular, seems to thing extraordinary. Even the speech which he have caught that manner, though in all other re-made for himself at the bar of the House of Lords, spects interior. The other poets of that reign con before he was sent into exile, is void of eloquence, tributed but little towards improving the English though it has been cried up by his friends to such tongue, and it is not certain whether they did not a degree that his enemies have suffered it to pass injure rather than improve it. Immorality has its uncensured. cant as well as party, and many shocking expres The philosophical manner of Lord Shaftesbury's sions now crept into the language, and became the writing is nearer to that of Cicero than any Eng. transient fashion of the day. The upper galleries, lish author has yet arrived at; but perhaps had by the prevalence of party.spirit, were courted with Cicero written in English, his composition would great assiduity, and a horse-laugh following ribaldry have greatly exceeded that of our countryman. was the highest instance of applause, the chastity The diction of the latter is beautiful, but such as well as energy of diction being overlooked or beauty as, upon nearer inspection, carries with it neglected.

evident symptoms of affectation. This has been Virtuous sentiment was recovered, but energy attended with very disagreeable consequences. Noof style never was. This, though disregarded in thing is so easy to copy as affectation, and his lordplays and party writings, still prevailed amongst ship’s rank and fame have procured him more imimen of character and business. The dispatches of tators in Britain than any other writer I know; all Sir Richard Fanshaw, Sir William Godolphin, faithfully preserving his blenishes, but unhappily Lord Arlington, and many other ministers of state, not one of his beauties. are all of them, -with respect to diction, manly, bold, Mr. Trenchard and Mr. Davenant were politiand nervous. Sir William Temple, though a man cal writers of great abilities in diction, and their of no learning, had great knowledge and experience. pamphlets are now standards in that way of writing He wrote always like a man of sense and a gentle. They were followed by Dean Swist, who, though man; and his style is the model by which the best in other respects far their superior, never could rise prose writers in the reign of Queen Anne formed to that manliness and clearness of diction in polititheirs. The beauties of Mr. Locke's style, though cal writing for which they were so justly famous. not so much celebrated, are as striking as that of They were all of them exceeded by the late Lori his understanding. He never says more nor less Bolingbroke, whose strength lay in that province; than he ought, and never makes use of a word that for as a philosopher and a critic he was ill qualified, he could have changed for a better. The same ob- being destitute of virtue for the one, and of learaservation holds good of Dr. Samuel Clarke. ing for the other. His writings against Sir Rober:

Mr. Locke was a philosopher; his antagonist, Walpole are incomparably the best part of his Stillingfieet, bishop of Worcester, was a man of works. The personal and perpetual antipathy he learning; and therefore the contest between them had for that family, to whose places he thought his was unequal. The clearness of Mr. Locke's head own abilities had a right, gave a glow to his style, renders his language perspicuous, the learning of and an edge to his manner, that never yet hare Stillingfleet's clouds his. This is an instance of the been equalled in political writing. His misfortunes superiority of good sense over learning towards the and disappointments gave his mind a turn which his improvement of every language.

friends mistook for philosophy, and at one time of There is nothing peculiar to the language of his life he had the art to impose the same belief upArchbishop Tillotson, but his manner of writing on some of his enemies. His idea of a Patriot is inimitable ; for one who reads him, wonders why King, which I reckon (as indeed it was) amongst he himself did not think and speak in that very his writings against Sir Robert Walpole, is a

The turn of his periods is agreeable, masterpiece of diction. Even in his other works though artless, and every thing he says seems to his style is excellent; but where a man either dues flow spontaneously from inward conviction. Bar- not, or will not understand the subject he writes row, though greatly his superior in learning, falls on, there must always be a deficiency. In politics short of him in other respects.

he was generally master of what he undertook, in The time seems to be at hand when justice will morals never. be done to Mr. Cowley's prose, as well as poetical, Mr. Addison, for a happy and natural style, writings; and though his friend Dr. Sprat, bishop will be always an honour to British literature. His of Rochester, in his diction falls far short of the diction indeed wants strength, but it is equal to all abilities for which he has been celebrated, yet there the subjects he undertakes to handle, as he never is sometimes a happy flow in his periods, something (at least in his finished works) attempts any thing That looks like eloquence. The style of his suc- either in the argumentative or demonstrative way. resour, Atterbury, has been much commended by Though Sir Richard Steele's reputation as a


« 이전계속 »