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MONDAY, JUNE 21.
Quippe domum timet ambiguam, Tyriofque bilingues. VIRG. Æn. i. ver. 665.
He fears th' ambiguous race, and Tyrians doubletongu❜d.
THERE is HERE is nothing, fays Plato, fo delightful, as the hearing or speaking of truth. For this reason there is no converfation fo agreeable as that of the man of integrity, who hears without any intention to betray, and speaks without any intention to deceive.
Among all the accounts which are given of Cato, I do not remember one that more redounds to his honour than the following paffage related by Plutarch. As an advocate was pleading the cause of his client before one of the Prætors, he could only produce a fingle witness in a point where the law required the teftimony of two perfons; upon which the advocate infifted on the integrity of that person whom he had produced but the Prætor told him, that where the law required two witneffes he would not accept of one, though it were Cato himself. Such a speech from a person who fat at the head of a court of justice, while Cato was still living, fhews us, more than a thoufand examples, the high reputation this great man had gained among his conte.nporaries upon the account of his fincerity.
When fuch an inflexible integrity is a little softened and qualified by the rules of converfation and good-breeding, there is not a more shining virtue in the whole catalogue of focial duties. A man, however, ought to take great care not to polish himself
out of his veracity, nor to refine his behaviour to the prejudice of his virtue.
This fubject is exquifitely treated in the most elegant fermon of the great British preacher. I thall beg leave to transcribe out of it two or three fentences, as a proper introduction to a very curious letter, which I fhall make the chief entertainment of this fpeculation.
The old English plainnefs and fincerity, that generous integrity of nature, and honefty of difpofition, which always argues true greatness of mind, and is ufually accompanied with undaunted courage and refolution, is in a great measure loft among us.
The dialect of converfation is now-a-days fo fwelled with vanity and compliment, and fo furfeited (as I may fay) of expreflions of kindness and refpect, that if a man who lived an age or two ago • should return into the world again, he would really want a dictionary to help him to understand his own language, and to know the true intrinfic value of the phrase in fashion; and would hardly, at first, believe at what a low rate the highest ftrains and expreflions of kindnefs imaginable do commonly pafs in current payment; and when he should come to understand it, it would be a great while before he could bring himself with a good countenance, and a good confcience, to converse with men upon equal terms, and in their own way.'
I have by me a letter which I look upon as a great curiosity, and which may ferve as an exemplification to the foregoing paffage, cited out of this most excellent prelate. It is faid to have been written in King Charles II's reign, by the ambaffador of Bantam, a little after his arrival in England.
The people where I now am, have 'tongues farther from their hearts than from London to Ban
tam, and thou knoweft the inhabitants of one of thefe places do not know what is done in the other. They call thee and thy fubjects barbarians, because we fpeak what we mean; and account themselves a civilized people, because they speak one thing and mean another: truth they call barbarity, and falfehood politenefs. Upon my firft landing, one who was fent from the king of this place to meet me, told me, That he was extremely forry for the form I had met with just before my arrival. I was troubled to hear him grieve and afflict himself upon my account; but in lefs than a quarter of an hour he smiled, and was as merry as if nothing had happened. Another who came with him, told me by my interpreter, He should be glad to do me any fervice that lay in his power. Upon which I defired him to carry one of my portman'teaus for me; but instead of ferving me according to his promife, he laughed, and bid another do it. I lodged, the first week, at the house of one who defired me to think myself at home, and to confider his houfe as my own. Accordingly, I the next morning began to knock down one of the walls of it, in order to let in the fresh air, and had packed. < up fome of the household goods, of which I in• tended to have made thee a present; but the false varlet no fooner faw me falling to work, but he fent word to defire me to give over, for that he would have no fuch doings in his houfe. I had not been long in this nation, before I was told by one, for whom I had afked a certain favour from the chief of the king's fervants, whom they here call ' the Lord Treafurer, that I had eternally obliged him. I was fo furprised at his gratitude, that I could not forbear faying, What fervice is there which one • man can do for another, that can oblige him to all • eternity! However, I only asked him for my reward, that he would lend me his eldeft daughter • during my stay in this country; but I quickly found • that
that he was as treacherous as the rest of his coun
At my first going to court, one of the great men almoft put me out of countenance, by afking ten • thousand pardons of me for only treading by accident upon my toe. They call this kind of lie a • compliment; for when they are civil to a great man, they tell him untruths, for which thou wouldst order any of thy officers of ftate to receive a hundred blows upon his foot. I do not know how I 'fhall negotiate any thing with this people, fince there is fo little credit to be given to them. When I go to fee the King's fcribe, I am generally told that he is not at home, though perhaps I faw him 'go into his house almost the very moment before. Thou wouldst fancy that the whole nation are physicians, for the first question they always afk me, is, how I do: I have this queftion put to me above a hundred times a-day. Nay, they are not only thus inquifitive after my health, but with it in a more folemn manner, with a full glafs in their hands, every time I fit with them at table, though at the fame time they would perfuade me to drink their liquors in fuch quantities as I have found by ' experience will make me fick. They often pretend to pray for thy health alfo in the fame manner; but I have more reafon to expect it from the good, nefs of thy constitution, than the fincerity of their wishes. May thy flave escape in fafety from this double-tongued race of men, and live to lay him'felf once more at thy feet in thy royal city of 'Bantam.'
Qui fit, Macenas, ut nemo, quam fibi fortem
Quid enim? concurritur : hora
Cætera de genere hoc (adeo funt multa) loquacem
Quo rem deducam. Siquis Deus, en ego, dicat,
HOR. Sat. i. lib. i. ver. 1.
Whence is't, Maecenas, that fo few approve
Applauds the wars and toils of a campaign:
The lawyer vows the farmer's life is best,
When, at the dawn, the clients break his reft.