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No. 394. MONDAY, JUNE 2.
Bene colligitur hæc pueris et mulierculis et servis et servorum
similimis liberis esse grata: gravi verò homini, et ea quæ fiunt judicio certo ponderanti, probari posse nullo modo.
TULL. It is rightly inferred that these things are pleasing to chil.
dren, women and slaves, and even to such freemen as greatly resemble slaves, but can by no means be approved by a man of figure and character, and who forms a right judgment of things.
I HAVE been considering the little and frivolous things which give men accesses to one another, and power with each other, not only in the common and indifferent accidents of life, but also in matters of greater importance. You see in elections for members to sit in parliament, how far saluting rows of old women, drinking with clowns, and being upon a level with the lowest part of mankind in that wherein they themselves are lowest, their diversions, will carry a candidate. A capacity for prostituting a man's self in his behaviour, and descending to the present humour of the vulgar, is perhaps as good an ingredient as any other for making a considerable figure in the world; and if a man has nothing else, or better, to think of, he could not make his way to wealth and distinction by properer methods, than studying the particular bent of inclination of the people with whom he converses, and working from the observation of such their bias in all matters wherein he has any intercourse with them: for his ease and comfort he himself, he need not be at the expense of any
great talent or virtue to please even those who are possessed of the highest qualifications. Pride in some particular disguise or other, often a secret to the proud man himself, is the most ordinary spring of action among men. You need no more than to discover what a man values himself for; then of all things admire that quality, but be sure to be failing in it yourself in comparison of the man whom you court. I have heard, or read, of a secretary of state in Spain, who served a prince who was happy in an elegant use of the Latin tongue, and often writ despatches in it with his own hand. The king showed his secretary a letter he had written to a foreign prince, and under the colour of asking his advice, laid a trap for his applause. The honest man read it as a faithful counsellor, and not only excepted against his tying himself down too much by some expressions, but mended the phrase in others. You may guess the despatches that evening did not take much longer time. Mr. Secretary, as soon as he came to his own house, sent for his
and communicated to him, that the family must retire out of Spain as soon as possible; for, said he, the king knows I understand Latin better than he does.
This egregious fault in a man of the world, should be a lesson to all who would make their fortunes, but a regard must be carefully had to the person with whom you have to do: for it is not to be doubted but a great man of common sense must look with secret indignation, or bridled laughter, on all the slaves who stand around him with ready faces to approve and smile at all he says in the gross. It is good comedy enough
to observe a superior talking half sentences, and playing an humble admirer's countenance from one thing to another, with such perplexity, that he knows not what to sneer in approbation of, But this kind of complaisance is peculiariy the manner of courts; in all other places you must constantly go farther in compliance with the persons you have to do with, than a mere conformity of looks and gestures. If you are in a country life, and would be a leading man, a good stomach, a loud voice, and rustic cheerfulness, will go a great way, provided you are able to drink, and
drink any thing. But I was just now going to draw the manner of behaviour I would advise people to practise under some maxim, and intimated that every one almost was governed by his pride. There was an old fellow about forty years ago so peevish and fretful, though a man of business, that no one could come at him; but he frequented a particular little coffee-house, where he triumphed over every body at tricktrack and backgammon. The way to pass his office well, was first to be insulted by him at one of those games in his leisure hours; for his vanity was to show, that he was a man of pleasure as well as business. Next to this sort of insinuation, which is called in all places, from its taking its birth in the households of princes, making one's court, the most prevailing way is, by what better bred people call a present, the vulgar a bribe. I humbly conceive that such a thing is conveyed with more gallantry in a billet-doux that should be understood at the bank, than in gross money: but as to stubborn people, who are so surly as to accept of neither note nor cash, having formerly
dabbled in chemistry, I can only say, that one part of matter asks one thing, and another another, to make it fluent; but there is nothing but may be dissolved by a proper mean: thus the virtue which is too obdurate for gold or paper, shall melt away very kindly in a liquid. The island of Barbadoes (a shrewd people) manage all their appeals to Great Britain by a skilful distribution of citron water* among the whisperers about men in power. Generous wines do every day prevail, and that in great points, where ten thousand times their value would have been rejected with indignation.
But to wave the enumeration of the sundry ways of applying by presents, bribes, management of people's passions and affections, in such a manner as it shall appear that the virtue of the best man is by one method or other corruptible; let us look out for some expedient to turn those passions and affections on the side of truth and honour. When a man has laid it down for a position, that parting with his integrity, in the minutest circumstance, is losing so much of his very self, self-love will become a virtue. By this means good and evil will be the only objects of dislike and approbation; and he that injures any man, has effectually wounded the man of this turn as much as if the harm had been to himself. This seems to be the only expedient to arrive at an impartiality, and a man who follows the dictates of truth and right reason, may by artifice be led into error, but never can into guilt.
* At that time known by the name of Barbadoes water.
No. 395. TUESDAY, JUNE 2.
-Quod nunc ratio est, impetus ante fuit. 'Tis reason now, 'twas appetite before.
BEWARE of the ides of March,' said the Roman augur to Julius Cæsar; 'Beware of the month of May,' says the British Spectator to his fair countrywomen. The caution of the first was unhappily neglected, and Cæsar's confidence cost him his life. I am apt to flatter myself that my pretty readers had much more regard to the advice I gave them, (No 365,) since I have yet received very few accounts of any notorious trips made in the last month.
But, though I hope for the best, I shall not pronounce too positively on this point, till I have seen forty weeks well over, at which period of time, as my good friend Sir Roger has often told me, he has more business as a justice of peace, among the dissolute young people in the country, than at any other season of the year.
Neither must I forget a letter which I received near a fortnight since from a lady; who, it seems could hold out no longer, telling me she looked