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this state, Lysander represents that he was reading Virgil's Georgics, when on a sudden the gentleman above-mentioned surprized him: and without any manner of preparation falls upon him at once ; “ What! I have found you at last, after searching all over the wood! we wanted you at cards after dinner; but you are much better employed. I have heard indeed that you are an excellent scholar. But at the same time, is it not a little unkind to rob the ladies, who like you so well, of the pleasure of your company? But that is indeed the misfortune of you great scholars ; you are seldom so fit for the world as those who never trouble themselves with books. Well, I see you are taken up with your learning there, and I will leave you." Lysander says, he made him no answer, but took a resolution to complain to me.
It is a substantial affliction, when men govern themselves by the rules of good-breeding, that by the very force of them they are subjected to the iusolence of those, who either never will, or never can, understand them. The superficial part of mankind form to themselves little measures of behaviour from the outside of things. By the force of these narrow conceptions, they act among themselves with applause'; and do not apprehend they are contemptible to those of higher understanding, who are restrained by decencies above their knowledge from shewing a dislike. Hence it is, that because complaisance is a good quality in conversation, one impertinent takes upon him on all occasions to commend; and because mirth is agreeable, another thinks fit eternally to jest. I have of late received many packets of letters, complaining of these spreading evils. A lady who is lately arrived at the Bath acquaints me, there were in the stage-coach wherein she went down a common fatterer, and a common jester. These gentlemen were, she tells me, rivals in her favour; and adds, if there ever happened a case wherein of two persons one was not liked more than another, it was in that journey. They differed only in proportion to the degree of dislike between the nauseous and the insipid. Both these characters of men are born out of a barrenness of imagination. They are never fools by nature; but become such out of an impotent ambition of being, what she never intended ther), men of wit and conversation. I therefore think fit to declare, that according to the known laws of this land, a man may be a very honest gentleman, and enjoy himself and his friend, without being a wit; and I absolve all men from taking pains to be such for the future. As the present case stands, is it not very unhappy that Lysander must be attacked and applauded in a wood, and Corinna jolted and commended in a stage-coach ; and this for no manner of reason, but because other people have a mind to shew their parts? I grant indeed, if these people, as they have understanding enough for it, would confine their accomplishments to those of their own degree of talents, it were to be tolerated ; but when they are so insolent as to interrupt the meditations of the wise, the conversations of the agreeable, and the whole behaviour of the modest, it beconies a grievance naturally in my jurisdiction. Among themselves, I can not only overlook, but approve it. I was present the other day at a conversation, where a man of this height of breeding and sepse told a young woman of the same form, “ To be sure, Madam, every thing must please that comes from a lady.” She answered, “ I know, Sir, you are so much a gentleman that you think so." Why this was very well on both sides; and it is impossible that such a lady and gentleman should do otherwise than think well of one another. These are but loose • VOL. v.
hints of the disturbances in human sociery, for which there is yet no remedy; but I shall in a little time publish tables of respect and civility, by which persons may be instructed in the proper times and seasons, as well as at what degree of intimacy a man may be allowed to commend or rally his companions ; the promiscuous licence of which is, at present, far from being among the small errors in conversation.
P. S. The following letter was left, with a request to be immediately answered, lest the artifices used against a lady in distress may come into common practice.
“ SIR, “ My eldest sister buried her husband about six months ago; and at his funeral, a gentleman of more art than honesty, on the night of his interment, while she was not herself, but in the utmost agony of her grief, spoke to her of the subject of love. In that weakness and distraction which my sister was in, as one ready to fall is apt to lean on any body, he obtained her promise of marriage, which was accordingly consummated eleven weeks after. There is no affliction comes alone, but one brings another. My sister is now ready to lye-in. She humbly asks of you, as you are a friend to the sex, to let her know, who is the lawful father of this child, or whether she may not be relieved from this second marriage; considering it was promised under such circumstances as one may very well suppose she did not what she did voluntarily, but because she was helpless otherwise. She is advised something about eugagements made in gaol, which she thinks the same, as to the reason of the thing. But, dear Sir, she relies upon your advice, and gives your her service; as does your humble servant,
“ REBECCA MIDRIFFE,"
The case is very hard; and I fear the plea she is advised to make, from the similitude of a man who is in duresse, will not prevail. But though I despair of remedy as to the mother, the law gives the child his choice of his father where the birth is thus legally ambiguous.
“To ISAAC BICKERSTAFF, Esquire. “ The humble Petition of the Company of Linendrapers, residing within the liberty of Westminster,
“SHeweth, “ That there has of late prevailed among the ladies so great an affectation of nakedness, that they have not only left the bosom wholly bare, but lowered their stays some inches below the former mode.
“ That, in particular, Mrs. Arabella Overdo has not the least appearance of linen; and our best customers shew but little above the small of their backs.
“ That by this means your petitioners are in danger of losing the advantage of covering a ninth part of every woman of quality in Great-Britain. “ Your Petitioners humbly offer the premises
to your Indulgence's consideration), and shall
ever, &c." Before I answer this petition, I am inclined to examine the offenders myself.
N° 216. SATURDAY, AUGUST 26, 1710.
From my own Apartment, August 25. NATURE is full of wonders; every atom is a standing miracle, and endowed with such qualities, as could not be impressed on it by a power and wisdom less than infinite. For this reason, I would not discourage any searches that are made into the most mi. nute and trivial parts of the creation. However, since the world abounds in the noblest fields of speculation, it is, methinks, the mark of a little genius, to be wholly conversant among insects, reptiles, animalcules, and those trifting rarities that furnish out the apartment of a virtuoso.
There are some men whose heads are so oddly turned this way, that though they are utter strangers to the common occurrences of life, they are able to discover the sex of a cockle, or describe the generation of a mite, in all its circumstances. They are so little versed in the world, that they scarce know an horse from an ox; but, at the same time, will tell you with a great deal of gravity, that a flea is a rbinoceros, and a snail an hermaphrodite. I have known one of these whimsical philosophers, who has set a greater value upon a collection of spi.