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No. 610. FRIDAY, OCTOBER 22, 1714.
Sic, cum transierint mei
Thus, when my fleeting days, at last,
Nothing,' says Longinus, can be great, the contempt of which is great.' The possession of wealth and riches cannot give a man a title to greatness, because it is looked upon as a greatness of mind to contemn these gifts of fortune, and to be above the desire of them. I have therefore been inclined to think that there are greater men who lie concealed among the species, than those who come out and draw upon themselves the eyes and admiration of mankind. Virgil would never have been heard of, had not his domestic misfortunes driven him out of his obscurity, and brought him to Rome.
If we suppose that there are spirits, or angels, who look. into the ways of men, as it is highly probable there are,
both from reason and revelation; how different are the notions which they entertain of us, from those which we are apt to form of one another! Were they to give us in their catalogue of such worthies as are now living, how different would it be from that which any of our own species would draw up!
We are dazzled with the splendour of titles, the ostentation of learning, the noise of victories: they, on the contrary, see the philosopher in the cottage, who possesses his soul in patience and thankfulness, under the pressures of what little minds call poverty and distress. They do not look for great men at the head of armies, or among the pomps of a court, but often find them out in shades and solitudes, in the private walks and by-paths of life. The evening's walk of a wise man is more illustrious in their sight than the march of a general at the head of an hundred thousand men. A contemplation of God's
works; a voluntary act of justice to our own detriment; a generous concern for the good of mankind; tears that are shed in silence for the misery of others; a private desire of resentment broken and subdued; in short, an unfeigned exercise of humility, or any other virtue, are sucîì actions as are glorious in their sight, and denominate men great and reputable. The most famous among us are of ten looked upon with pity, with contempt or with indignation; whilst those who are most obscure among their own species are regarded with love, with approbation, and esteem.
The moral of the present speculation amounts to this; that we should not be led away by the censures and applauses of men, but consider the figure that every person will make at that time when Wisdom shall be justified of her children,' and nothing pass for great or illustrious which is not an ornament and perfection to human nature.
The story of Gyges, the rich Lydian monarch, is a memorable instance to our present purpose. The oracle, being asked by Gyges who was the happiest man, replied, Aglaus. Gyges, who expected to have heard himself named on this occasion, was much surprised, and very curious to know who this Aglaüs should be. After much inquiry he was found to be an obscure countryman, who employed all his time in cultivating a garden and a few acres of land about his house.
Cowley's agreeable relation of this story shall close this day's speculation.
Thus Aglaus (a man unknown to men,
*Cowley's Works, 8vo, edit, 1710. vol. 2. p. 730.
No. 611. MONDAY, OCTOBER 25, 1714.
Perfide! sed duris genuit te cautibus horrens
AM willing to postpone every thing, to do any the least service for the deserving and unfortunate. Accordingly I have caused the following letter to be inserted in my paper the moment that it came to my hands, without altering one tittle in an account which the lady relates so handsomely herself.
I FLATTER myself you will not only pity, but, if pos sible redress a misfortune myself and several others of my sex lie under. I hope you will not be offended, nor think I mean by this to justify my own imprudent conduct, or expect you should. No! I am sensible how severely, in some of your former papers, you have reproved persons guilty of the like mismanagements. I was scarce sixteen, and, I may say without vanity, handsome, when courted by a false perjured man; who, upon promise of marriage, rendered me the most unhappy of women. After he had deluded me from my parents, who were people of very good fashion, in less than three months he left me. My parents would not see nor hear from me; and, had it not been for a servant who had lived in our family, I must certainly have perished for want of bread. However, it pleased Providence, in a very short time, to alter my miserable condition. A gentleman saw me, liked me, and married me, My parents were reconciled; and I might be as happy in the change of my condition, as I was before miserable, but for some things, that you shall know, which are insupportable to me; and I am sure you have so much honour and compassion as to let those persons know, in some of your papers, how much they are in the wrong. I have been married near five years,
and do not know that in all that time I ever went abroad
without my husband's leave and approbation. I am obliged, through the importunities of several of my relations, to go abroad oftener than suits my temper. Then it is I labour under insupportable agonies. That man, or rather monster, haunts every place I go to. Base villain! by reason I will not admit his nauseous wicked visits and appointments, he strives all the ways he can to ruin me. He left me destitute of friend or money, nor ever thought me worth inquiring after, till he unfortunately happened to see me in a front-box, sparkling with jewels. Then his passion returned. Then the hypocrite pretended to be a penitent. Then he practised all those arts that helped before to undo me. I am not to be deceived a second time by him. I hate and abhor his odious passion; and, as he plainly perceives it, either out of spite or diversion he makes it his business to expose me. I never fail seeing him in all public company, where he is always most industriously spiteful. He hath, in short, told all his acquaintance of our unhappy affair; they tell theirs; so that it is no secret among his companions, who are numerous. They to whom he tells it, think they have a title to be very familiar. If they bow to me, and I out of good manners return it, then I am pestered with freedoms that are no way agreeable to myself or company. If I turn my eyes from them, or seem displeased, they sour upon it, and whisper the next person; he his next; till I have at last the eyes of the whole company upon me. Nay, they report abominable falsehoods, under that mistaken notion," She that will grant favours to one man will to a hundred." I beg you will let those who are guilty know how ungenerous this way of proceeding is. I am sure he will know himself the person aimed at, and perhaps put a stop to the insolence of others. Cursed is the fate of unhappy women! that men may boast and glory in those things that we must think of with shame and horror! You have the art of making such odious customs appear detestable. For my sake, and, I am sure, for the sake of several others who dare not own it, but, like me, lie under the same misfortune, make it as infamous for a man to boast of favours, or expose our sex, as it is to take the lie or a box on the ear, and not resent it, Your constant reader,
' and admirer,