« VorigeDoorgaan »
No. 385.] THURSDAY, MAY 22, 1712.
-Thesea pectora juncta fide.-OVID, 1 Trist. iii. 66.
I INTEND the paper for this day as a loose essay upon friendship, in which I shall throw my observations together without any set form, that I may avoid repeating what has been often said on this subject.
Friendship is a strong and habitual inclination in two persons to promote the good and happiness of one another. Though the pleasures and advantages of friendship have been largely celebrated by the best moral writers, and are considered by all as great ingredients of human happiness, we very rarely meet with the practice of this virtue in the world.
Every man is ready to give in a long catalogue of those virtues and good qualities he expects to find in the person of a friend, but very few of us are careful to cultivate them in ourselves.
Love and esteem are the first principles of friendship, which always is imperfect where either of these two is wanting.
As, on the one hand, we are soon ashamed of loving a man whom we cannot esteem; so, on the other, though we are truly sensible of a man's abilities, we can never raise ourselves to the warmths of friendship, without an affectionate good-will toward his person.
Friendship immediately banishes envy under all its disguises. A man who can once doubt whether he should rejoice in his friend's being happier than himself, may depend upon it that he is an utter stranger to this virtue.
There is something in friendship so very great and noble, that in those fictitious stories which are invented to the honor of any particular person, the authors have thought it as necessary to make their hero a friend as a lover. Achilles has his Patroclus, and Æneas his Achates. In the first of these instances we may observe, for the reputation of the subject I am treating of, that Greece was almost ruined by the hero's love, but was preserved by his friendship.
The character of Achates suggests to us an observation we may often make on the intimacies of great men, who frequently choose their companTons rather for the qualities of the heart than those of the head, and prefer fidelity in an easy, inoffensive, complying temper, to those endowments which make a much greater figure among mankind. I do not remember that Achates, who is represented as the first favorite, either gives his advice, or strikes a blow, through the whole Eneid.
A friendship which makes the least noise is very often most useful; for which reason I should prefer a prudent friend to a zealous one.
Atticus, one of the best men of ancient Rome, was a very remarkable instance of what I am here speaking. This extraordinary person, amid the civil wars of his country, when he saw the designs of all parties equally tended to the subversion of liberty, by constantly preserving the esteem and affection of both the competitors, found means to serve his friends on either side: and, while he sent money to young Marius, whose father was declared an enemy to the commonwealth, he was himself one of Sylla's chief favorites, and always near that general.
During the war between Cæsar and Pompey, he still maintained the same conduct. After the death of Cæsar, he sent money to Brutus in his troubles, and did a thousand good offices to Antony's wife and friends when that party seemed
ruined. Lastly, even in that bloody war between Antony and Augustus, Atticus still kept his place in both their friendships: insomuch that the first, says Cornelius Nepos, whenever he was absent from Rome in any part of the empire, wrote punetually to him what he was doing, what he read, and whither he intended to go; and the latter gave him constantly an exact account of all his affairs. A likeness of inclinations in every particular is so far from being requisite to form a benevolence in two minds toward each other, as it is generally imagined, that I believe we shall find some of the firmest friendships to have been contracted be tween persons of different humors; the mind being often pleased with those perfections which are new to it, and which it does not find among its own accomplishments. Beside that a man in some measure supplies his own defects, and fancies himself at second-hand possessed of those good qualities and endowments which are in the pos session of him who in the eye of the world is looked on as his other self.
The most difficult province in friendship is the letting a man see his faults and errors, which should, if possible, be so contrived, that he may perceive our advice is given him not so much to please ourselves as for his own advantage. The reproaches therefore of a friend should always be strictly just, and not too frequent.
The violent desire of pleasing in the person re proved, may otherwise change into a despair of doing it, while he finds himself censured for faults he is not conscious of. A mind that is softened and humanized by friendship cannot bear frequent reproaches; either it must quite sink under the oppression, or abate considerably of the value and esteem it had for him who bestows them.
The proper business of friendship is to inspire life and courage; and a soul thus supported out does itself; whereas, if it be unexpectedly de prived of these succors, it droops and languishes.
We are in some measure more inexcusable if we violate our duties to a friend than to a relation; since the former arises from a voluntary choice, the latter from a necessity to which we could not give our own consent.
As it has been said on one side, that a man ought not to break with a faulty friend, that he may not expose the weakness of his choice: it will doubtless hold much stronger with respect to a worthy one, that he may never be upbraided for having lost so valuable a treasure which was once in his possession.-X.
No. 386.] FRIDAY, MAY 23, 1712. Cum tristibus severe, cum remissis jucunde, cum senibus graviter, cum juventute comiter vivere.-TULL
THE piece of Latin on the head of this paper is part of a character extremely vicious, but I have set down no more than may fall in with the rules of justice and honor. Cicero spoke it of Catiline, who, he said, "lived with the sad severely, with the cheerful agreeably, with the old gravely, with the young pleasantly," he added," with the wick ed boldly, with the wanton lasciviously." The two last instances of his complaisance I for bear to consider, having it in my thoughts at pre sent only to speak of obsequious behavior as it sits upon a companion in pleasure, not a man of design and intrigue. To vary with every humer in this manner cannot be agreeable, except it comes from a man's own temper and natural complexion to do it out of an ambition to excel that way, is the most fruitless and unbecoming prostitution
imaginable. To put on an artful part to obtain no | act of nature, must be everywhere prevalent, beother end but an unjust praise from the undis- cause everything it meets is a fit occasion to exert cerning, is of all endeavors the most despicable. it: for he who follows nature can never be improA man must be sincerely pleased to become plea-per or unseasonable. sure, or not to interrupt that of others; for this reason it is a most calamitous circumstance, that many people who want to be alone, or should be so, will come into conversation. It is certain that all men, who are the least given to reflection, are seized with an inclination that way: when, perhaps, they had rather be inclined to company; but indeed they had better go home and be tired with themselves, than force themselves upon othe.s to recover their good humor. In all this, the case of communicating to a friend a sad thought or difficulty, in order to relieve a heavy heart, stands excepted; but what is here meant is, that a man should always go with inclination to the turn of the company he is going into, or not pretend to be of the party. It is certainly a very happy temper to be able to live with all kinds of dispositions, because it argues a mind that lies open to receive what is pleasing to others, and not obstinately bent on any particularity of his own.
This is it which makes me pleased with the character of my good acquaintance Acasto. You meet him at the tables and conversations of the wise, the impertinent, the grave, the frolic, and the witty; and yet his own character has nothing in it that can make him particularly agreeable to any one sect of men; but Acasto has natural good sense, good nature, and discretion, so that every man enjoys himself in his company; and though Acasto contributes nothing to the entertainment, he never was at a place where he was not welcome a second time. Without the subordinate good qualities of Acasto, a man of wit and learning would be painful to the generality of mankind, instead of being pleasing. Witty men are apt to imagine they are agreeable as such, and by that means grow the worst companions imaginable; they deride the absent or rally the present in a wrong manner, not knowing that if you pinch or tickle a man till he is uneasy in his seat, or ungracefully distinguished from the rest of the company, you equally hurt him.
I was going to say, the true art of being agreeable in company (but there can be no such thing as art in it) is to appear well pleased with those yon are engaged with, and rather to seem well entertained, than to bring entertainment to others. A man thus disposed is not indeed what we ordinarily call a good companion, but essentially is such, and in all the parts of his conversation has something friendly in his behavior, which conciliates men's minds more than the highest sallies of wit or starts of humor can possibly do. The feebleness of age in a man of this turn has something which should be treated with respect even in a man no otherwise venerable. The forwardness of youth, when it proceeds from alacrity and not insolence, has also its allowances. The companion who is formed for such by nature, gives to every character of life its due regards, and is ready to account for their imperfections, and receive their accomplishments as if they were his own. It must appear that you receive law from, and not give it, to your company, to make you agreeable.
I remember Tully, speaking, I think, of Antony, says, that, In eo facetiæ erant, quæ nulla arte tradi possunt: "He had a witty mirth, which could be acquired by no art." This quality must be of the kind of which I am now speaking; for all sorts of behavior which depend upon observation and knowledge of life are to be acquired; but that which no one can describe, and is apparently the
How unaccountable then must their behavior be, who, without any manner of consideration of what the company they have just now entered are upon, give themselves the air of a messenger, and make as distinct relations of the occurrences they last met with, as if they had been dispatched from those they talk to, to be punctually exact in a report of those circumstances! It is unpardonable to those who are met to enjoy one another that a fresh man shall pop in, and give us only the last part of his own life, and put a stop to ours during the history. If such a man comes from 'Change, whether you will or not, you must hear how the stocks go: and, though you are never so intently employed on a graver subject, a young fellow of the other end of the town will take his place and tell you, Mrs. Such-a-one is charmingly handsome, because he just now saw her. But I think I need not dwell on this subject, since I have acknowledged there can be no rules made for excelling this way; and precepts of this kind fare like rules for writing poetry, which, it is said, may have prevented ill poets, but never made good ones.-T.
No. 387.] SATURDAY, MAY 24, 1712.
In my last Saturday's paper I spoke of cheerfulness as it is a moral habit of the mind, and aocordingly mentioned such moral motives as are apt to cherish and keep alive this happy temper in the soul of man: I shall now consider cheerfulness in its natural state. and reflect on those motives to it, which are indifferent either as to virtue or vice.
Cheerfulness is, in the first place, the best promoter of health. Repinings, and secret murmurs of heart, give imperceptible strokes to those delicate fibers of which the vital parts are composed, and wear out the machine insensibly: not to mention those violent ferments which they stir up in the blood, and those irregular disturbed motions which they raise in the animal spirits. I scarce remember, in my own observation, to have met with many old men, or with such, who (to use our English phrase) wear well, that had not at least a certain indolence in their humor, if not a more than ordinary gayety and cheerfulness of heart. The truth of it is, health and cheerfulness mutually beget each other; with this difference, that we seldom meet with a great degree of health which is not attended with a certain cheerfulness, but very often see cheerfulness where there is no grea degree of health.
Cheerfulness bears the same friendly regard to the mind as to the body. It banishes all anxious care and discontent, soothes and composes the passions, and keeps the soul in a perpetual calm. But having already touched on this last consideration, I shall here take notice, that the world in which we are placed is filled with innumerable objects that are proper to raise and keep alive this happy temper of mind.
If we consider the world in its subserviency to man, one would think it was made for our use; but if we consider it in its natural beauty and harmony, one would be apt to conclude it was made for our pleasure. The sun, which is as the great soul of the universe, and produces all the necessaries of life, has a particular influence in
cheering the mind of man, and making the heart glad.
with a perpetual succession of beautiful and pleasing images.
I shall not here mention the several entertainments of art, with the pleasures of friendship, books, conversation, and other accidental diversions of life, because I would only take notice of such incitements to a cheerful temper as offer themselves to persons of all ranks and conditions, and which may sufficiently show us that Providence did not design this world should be filled with murmurs and repinings, or that the heart of man should be involved in gloom and melancholy.
Those several living creatures which are made for our service or sustenance, at the same time either fill the woods with their music, furnish us with game, or raise pleasing ideas in us by the delightfulness of their appearance. Fountains, lakes, and rivers, are as refreshing to the imagination, as to the soil through which they pass. There are writers of great distinction, who have made it an argument for Providence, that the whole earth is covered with green rather than with any other color, as being such a right mixture of light and shade, that it comforts and I the more inculcate this cheerfulness of temstrengthens the eye, instead of weakening or per, as it is a virtue in which our countrymen are grieving it. For this reason several painters have observed to be more deficient than any other nation. a green cloth hanging near them, to ease the eye Melancholy is a kind of demon that haunts our upon, after too great an application to their color-island, and often conveys herself to us in an ing. A famous modern philosopher accounts easterly wind. A celebrated French novelist, in for it in the following manner. All colors that opposition to those who begin their romances are more luminous, overpower and dissipate the with the flowery season of the year, enters on animal spirits which are employed in sight; his story thus: "In the gloomy month of Novem on the contrary, those that are more obscure do ber, when the people of England hang and drown not give the animal spirits a sufficient exercise; themselves, a disconsolate lover walked out into whereas the rays that produce in us the idea of the fields," etc. green, fall upon the eye in such a due proportion, that they give the animal spirits their proper play, and, by keeping up the struggle in a just balance, excite a very pleasing and agreeable sensation. Let the cause be what it will, the effect is certain; for which reason, the poets ascribe to this particular color the epithet of cheerful.
To consider further this double end in the works of nature, and how they are at the same time both useful and entertaining, we find that the most important parts in the vegetable world are those which are the most beautiful. These are the seeds by which the several races of plants are propagated and continued, and which are always lodged in flowers or blossoms. Nature seems to hide her principal design, and to be industrious in making the earth gay and delightful, while she is carrying on her great work, and intent upon her own preservation. The husbandman, after the same manner, is employed in laying out the whole country into a kind of garden or landscape, and making everything smile about him, while in reality he thinks of nothing but of the harvest, and the increase which is to arise from it.
Every one ought to fence against the temper of his climate or constitution, and frequently to indulge in himself those considerations which may give him a serenity of mind, and enable him to bear up cheerfully against those little evils and misfortunes which are common to human nature, and which, by a right improvement of them, will produce a satiety of joy, and an uninterrupted happiness.
At the same time that I would engage my reader to consider the world in its most agreeable lights, I must own there are many evils which naturally spring up amidst the entertainments that are provided for us; but these, if rightly considered. should be far from overcasting the mind with sorrow, or destroying that cheerfulness of temper which I have been recommending. This interspersion of evil with good, and pain with pleasure, in the works of nature, is very truly ascribed by Mr. Locke, in his Essay on Human understanding to a moral reason, in the following words:
Beyond all this we may find another reason why God hath scattered up and down several deWe may further observe how Providence has grees of pleasure and pain, in all the things that taken care to keep up this cheerfulness in the environ and affect us, and blended them together, mind of man, by having formed it after such a in almost all that our thoughts and senses have to manner, as to make it capable of conceiving de- do with; that we, finding imperfection, dissatislight from several objects which seem to have faction, and want of complete happiness, in all very little use in them; as from the wildness of the enjoyments which the creature can afford us, rocks and deserts, and the like grotesque parts of might be led to seek it in the enjoyment of Him nature. Those who are versed in philosophy with whom there is fullness of joy, and at whose may still carry this consideration higher, by ob-right-hand are pleasures for evermore,'”-L. serving, that if matter had appeared to us endowed only with those real qualities which it actually possesses, it would have made but a very joyless and uncomfortable figure: and why has Providence given it a power of producing in us such imaginary qualities, as tastes and colors, sounds and smells, heat and cold, but that man, while he is conversant in the lower stations of nature, might have his mind cheered and delighted with agreeable sensations? In short, the whole universe is a kind of theater, filled with objects that either raise in us pleasure, amusement, or admiration.
The reader's own thoughts will suggest to him the vicissitude of day and night, the change of seasons, with all that variety of scenes which diversify the face of nature, and fill the mind
Sir Isaac Newton.
MONDAY, MAY 26, 1712.
Tibi res antiquæ laudis et artis
"It is my custom, when I read your papers, to read over the quotations in the authors from whence you take them. As you mentioned a mon's song, it occasioned my looking into it; and, passage lately out of the second chapter of Soloupon reading it, I thought the ideas so exquisitely soft and tender, that I could not help making this paraphrase of it; which, now it is done,
As when in Sharon's field the blushing rose
Does its chaste bosom to the morn disclose,
The fragrant odors through the air;
Or as the lily in the shady vale
Does o'er each flower with beauteous pride prevail, And stands with dews and kindest sunshine blest, In fair pre-eminence, superior to the rest:
So if my Love, with happy influence, shed
His eyes' bright sunshine on his lover's head,
Then fairest flow'rs with studious art combine,
And their united charms are less than mine.
As much as fairest lilies can surpass A thorn in beauty, or in height the grass; So does my love among the virgins, shine, Adorn'd with graces more than half divine; Or as a tree, that, glorious to behold, Is hung with apples all of ruddy gold, Hesperian fruit, and, beautifully high, Extends its branches to the sky;
So does my Love the virgins' eyes invite: 'Tis he alone can fix their wand'ring sight, Among ten thousand eminently bright.
Beneath his pleasing shade
My wearied limbs at ease I laid,
And on his fragrant boughs reclin'd my head.
I pull'd the golden fruit with eager haste;
Sweet was the fruit, and pleasing to the taste;
And o'er my head he hung the banners of his love,
I faint! I die! my lab'ring breast
Is with the mighty weight of love opprest;
I feel the fire possess my heart,
And pain convey'd to every part.
Through all my veins the passion flies,
I charge you, nymphs of Sion, as you go Arm'd with the sounding quiver and the bow, Whilst thro' the lonesome woods you rove, You ne'er disturb my sleeping Love. Be only gentle Zephyrs there, With downy wings to fan the air; Let sacred silence dwell around,
To keep off each intruding sound,
And when the balmy slumber leaves his eyes, May he to joys, unknown till then, arise!
But see! he comes! with what majestic gait He onward bears his lovely state! Now through the lattice he appears, With softest words dispels my fears,
Arise, my fair one, and receive
All the pleasures love can give!
For, now the sullen winter's past,
No more we fear the northern blast:
No storms nor threatening clouds appear,
No falling rains deform the year:
My love admits of no delay;
Arise, my fair, and come away!
Already, see! the teeming earth
Brings forth the flow'rs, her beauteous birth,
The spreading vines with blossoms swell,
No. 389.] TUESDAY, MAY 27, 1712.
Their pious sires a better lesson taught.
NOTHING has more surprised the learned in England, than the price which a small book, entitled Spaccio della Bestia triomfante, bore in a late auction. This book was sold for thirty pounds. As it was written by one Jordanus Brunus, a professed Atheist, with a design to depreciate religion, every one was apt to fancy, from the extravagant price it bore, that there must be something in it very formidable,
I must confess, that happening to get a sight of one of them myself, I could not forbear perusing it with this apprehension; but found there was so very little danger in it, that I shall venture to give my readers a fair account of the whole plan upon which this wonderful treatise is built.
The author pretends that Jupiter, once upon a time, resolved on a reformation of the constellations: for which purpose, having summoned the
The book here mentioned was bought by Walter Clavel, Esq., at the auction of the library of Charles Barnard, Esq., in 111, for twenty-eight pounds. The same copy became successively the property of Mr. John Nichols, of Mr. Joseph Ames, of Sir Peter Thomson, and of M. C. Tutet, Esq., among whose books it was lately sold by auction, at Mr. Gerrard's in Litchfield-street. The author of this book, Giordano Bruno, was a native of Nola in the kingdom of Naples, and burnt at Rome by the order of the Inquisition in 1600. Morhoff, speaking of Atheists, says, "Jordanum tamen Brunum huic classi non annumerarem, manifesta in illo atheismi vestigia non deprehendo." Polyhist. i. 1. 8. 22. Bruno published many other writings said to be atheistical. The book spoken of here was printed, not at Paris, as is said in the title-page, nor in 1544, but at London, and in 1584, 12mo., dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney. It was for some time so littlé regarded, that it was sold with five other books of the same author, for twenty-five pence French, at the sale of Mr. Bigor's library in 1706, but it is now very scarce, and has been sold at the exorbitant price of £50. Niceron. Hommes illust., tom. xvii, p. 221. There was an edition of it in English in 1713.
stars together, he complains to them of the great! Beside these poor creatures, there have now decay of the worship of the gods, which he and then been instances of a few crazy people in thought so much the harder, having called several several nations, who have denied the existence of of those celestial bodies by the names of the a Deity. heathen deities, and by that means made the heavens as it were a book of the pagan theology, Momus tells him that this is not to be wondered at since there were so many scandalous stories of the deities. Upon which the author takes occasion to cast reflections upon all other religions, concluding that Jupiter, after a full hearing, dis carded the deities out of heaven, and called the stars by the names of the moral virtues.
This short fable, which has no pretense in it to reason or argument, and but a very small share of wit, has however recommended itself, wholly by its impiety, to those weak men who would distinguish themselves by the singularity of their opinions.
There are two considerations which have been often urged against Atheists, and which they never yet could get over. The first is, that the greatest and most eminent persons of all ages have been against them, and always complied with the public forms of worship established in their respective countries, when there was nothing in them either derogatory to the honor of the Supreme Being or prejudicial to the good of mankind.
The Platos and Ciceros among the ancients; the Bacons, the Boyles, and the Lockes among our own countrymen; are all instances of what I have been saying; not to mention any of the divines, however celebrated, since our adversaries challenge all those, as men who have too much interest in this case to be impartial evidences.
But what has been often urged as a consideration of much more weight, is not only the opinion of the better sort, but the general consent of mankind to this great truth; which I think could not possibly have come to pass, but from one of the three following reasons: either that the idea of a God is innate and co-existent with the mind itself; or that this truth is so very obvious, that it is discovered by the first exertion of reason in persons of the most ordinary capacities; or, lastly, that it has been delivered down to us through all ages by a tradition from the first man.
The Atheists are equally confounded, to whichever of these three causes we assign it; they have been so pressed by this last argument from the general consent of mankind, that after great search and pains they pretend to have found out a nation of Atheists, I mean that polite people
If we boast of a Socrates or a Seneca, they may now confront them with these great philosophers the Hottentots.
Though even this point has, not without reason, been several times controverted, I see no manner of harm it could do to religion, if we should entirely give them up this elegant part of mankind. Methinks nothing more shows the weakness of their cause, than that no division of their fellowcreatures join with them, but those among whom they themselves own reason is almost defaced, and who have little else but their shape which can entitle them to any place in the species.
The catalogue of these is, however, very short; even Vanini, the most celebrated champion for the cause, professed before his judges that he be lieved the existence of a God; and, taking up a straw which lay before him on the ground, as sured them, that alone was sufficient to convince him of it; alleging several arguments to prove that it was impossible nature alone could create anything.
I was the other day reading an account of Casi mir Liszynski, a gentleman of Poland, who was convicted and executed for this crime. The manner of his punishment was very particular. As soon as his body was burnt, his ashes were put into a cannon, and shot into the air toward Tartary.
I am apt to believe, that if something like this method of punishment should prevail in England (such is the natural good sense of the British nation), that whether we rammed an Atheist whole into a great gun, or pulverized our infidels, as they do in Poland, we should not have many charges.
I should however propose, while our ammunition lasted, that instead of Tartary, we should always keep two or three cannons ready pointed toward the Cape of Good Hope, in order to shoot our unbelievers into the country of the Hottertots.
In my opinion, a solemn, judicial death is too great an honor for an Atheist; though I must allow the method of exploding him, as it is prac ticed in this ludicrous kind of martyrdom, has something in it proper enough to the nature of his offense.
There is indeed a great objection against this manner of treating them. Zeal for religion is of so active a nature, that it seldom knows where to rest; for which reason I am afraid, after having discharged our Atheists, we might possibly think of shooting off our sectaries: and as one does not foresee the vicissitude of human affairs, it might one time or other come to a man's own turn to ży out of the mouth of a demiculverin.
If any of my readers imagine that I have treated these gentlemen in too ludicrous a manner, I must confess, for my own part, I think reasoning against such unbelievers, upon a point that shocks the common sense of mankind, is doing them too great an honor, giving them a figure in the eye the world, and making people fancy that they have more in them than they really have.
As for those persons who have any scheme of religious worship, I am for treating such with the utmost tenderness, and should endeavor to show them their errors with the greatest temper and hamanity; but as these miscreants are for throwing down religion in general, for stripping mankind of what themselves own is of excellent use in all great societies, without once offering to establish anything in the room of it, I think the best way of dealing with them, is to retort their own w pons upon them, which are those of scorn and mockery.-X.
No. 390.] WEDNESDAY, MAY 28, 1712. Non pudendo, sed non faciendo id quod non decet, impu dentiæ nomen effugere debemus.-TULL
It is not by blushing, but by not doing what is unbe ing, that we ought to guard against the imputation of impudence.
MANY are the epistles I receive from ladies ex tremely afflicted that they lie under the observa