« VorigeDoorgaan »
the simile he meant : but was answered, aniy simile in Virgil. He then told me all the secret history in the commonwealth of learning; of modern pieces that had the names of ancient authors annexed to them ; of all the books that were now writing or printing in the several parts of Europe ; of many amendments which are made, and not yet published, and a thousand other particulars, which I would not have my memory burthened with for a Vatican.
At length, being fully persuaded that I thoroughly admired him, and looked upon him as a prodigy of learning, he took his leave. I know several of Tom's class who are professed admirers of Tasso, without understanding a word of Italian : and one in particular, that carries a Pastor-Fido in his pocket, in which I am sure he is acquainted with no other beauty but the clearness of the character.
There is another kind of pedant, who, with all Tom Folio's impertinencies, hath greater superstructures and embellishments of Greek and Latin, and is still more insupportable than the other, in the same degree as he is more learned. Of this kind very often are editors, commentators, interpreters, scholiasts, and critics; and, in short, all men of deep learning without common sense. These persons set a greater value on themselves, for having found out the meaning of a passage in Greek, than upon the author for having written it ; nay, will allow the passage itself not to have any beauty in it, at the time that they would be considered as the greatest men of the age, for having interpreted it. They will look with contempt on the most beautiful poems that have been composed by any of their contemporaries ; but will lock themselves up in their studies for a twelvemonth together, to correct, publish, and expound such trifles of antiquity, as a modern author would be contemned for. Men of the strictest morals, severest lives, and the gravest pro
fessions, will write volumes upon an idle sonnet, that is originally in Greek or Latin ; give editions of the most immoral authors, and spin out whole pages upon the various readings of a lewd expression. All that can be said in excuse for them, is, that their works sufficiently shew they have no taste of their authors; and that what they do in this kind, is out of their great learning, and not out of any levity or lasciviousness of temper.
A pedant of this nature is wonderfully well described in six lines of Boileau, with which I shall conclude his character.
Un pedant enyvre de sa vaine science,
No. CLIX. SATURDAY, APRIL 15.
Nitor in adversum ; nec me, qui cætera, vincit
From my own Apartment, April 14. "THE wits of this island for above fifty years past, instead of correcting the vices of the age, have done all they could to infiame them. Marriage has been one of the common topics of ridicule that every stagescribbler hath found his account in ; for whenever there is an occasion for a clap, an impertinent jest upon matrimony is sure to raise it. This hath been attended with very pernicious consequences. Many a country squire, upon his setting up for a man of the town, has gone home in the gaiety of his heart, and beat his wife. A kind husband hath been looked upon as a clown, and a good wife as a domestic animal, unfit for the company or conversation of the beau-monde. In short, separate beds, silent tables, and solitary homes, have been introduced by your men of wit and pleasure of the age.
As I shall always make it my business to stem the torrents of prejudice and vice, I shall take particular care to put an honest father of a family in countenance, and endeavour to remove all the evils out of that state of life, which is either the most happy or most miserable, that a man can be placed in. In order to this, let us,
if you please, consider the wits and well-bred persons of former times. I have shewn in another paper, that Pliny, who was a man ofthe greatest genius, as well as of the first quality of his age, did not think it below him to be a kind husband, and to treat his wife as a friend, companion and counsellor. I shall give the like instance of another, who in all respects was a much greater man than Pliny, and hath written a whole book of letters to his wife. They are not so full
of turns as those translated out of the former author, who writes very much like a modern, but are full of that beautiful simplicity which is altogether natural, and is the distinguishing character of the best ancient writers. The author I am speaking of, is Cicero; who, in the following passages which I have taken out of his letters, shews, that he did not think it inconsistent with the politeness of his manners, or the greatness of his wisdom, to stand upon record in his domestic character.
These letters were written in a time when he was banished from his country, by a faction that then prevailed at Rome.
Cicero to Terentia.
“ I LEARN from the letters of my friends, as well as from common report, that you give incredible " proofs of virtue and fortitude, and that you are in“ defatigable in all kinds of good offices. How un6 happy a man am I, that a woman of your virtue, " constancy, honour, and good nature, should fall into " so great distresses upon my account ! and that my « dear Tulliola should be so much afflicted for the sake “ of a father, with whom she had once so much rea
son to be pleased! How can I mention little Cicero,
whose first knowledge of things began with the “ sense of his own misery? If all this had happened (by the decrees of fate, as you would kindly persuade
me, I could have borne it. But, alas! it is all be“ fallen me by my own indiscretion, who thought I
beloved by those that envied me, and did not « join with them who sought my friendship..... At present, since
my friends bid me hope, I shall take 36 care of my health, that I may enjoy the benefit of
your affectionate services...... Plancius hopes we may some time or other come together into Italy. If I
ever live to see that day, if I ever return to your " dear embraces ; in short, if I ever again recover you " and myself, I shall think our conjugal piety very well " rewarded...... As for what you write to me about sel“ ling your estate, consider, (my dear Terentia) con" sider, alas! what would be the event of it. If our “present fortune continues to oppress us, what will “ become of our poor boy! My tears flow so fast, that “ I am not able to write any further; and I would “ not willingly make you weep with me......Let us "s take care not to undo the child that is already un“ done: if we can leave him any thing, a little virtue “ will keep him from want, and a little fortune raise “ him in the world. Mind your health, and let me u know frequently what you are doing...... Remember
me to Tulliola, and Cicero.”
II. “ DO not fancy that I write longer letters to any one than to yourself, unless when I chance to re“ceive a longer letter from another, which I am in"dispensibly obliged to answer in every particular. “ The truth of it is, I have no subject for a letter at
present; and as my affairs now stand, there is noth
ing more painful to me than writing. As for you, s and our dear Tulliola, I cannot write to you with« out abundance of tears ; for I see both of you miW serable, whom I always wished to be happy, and « whom I ought to have made so......I must acknow, " ledge, you have done every thing for me with the 56 utmost fortitude, and the utmost affection ; nor ins “ deed is it more than I expected from you ; though " at the same time it is a great aggravation of my ill “ fortune, that the afflictions I suffer can be relieved "only by those which you undergo for my sake. For “ honest Valerius has written me a letter, which I