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favour. These are inconsistencies, such as discover thy reason depraved. To be brief, I never desire to see your face; and, sirrah, if you go to the workhouse, it is no disgrace to me for you to be supported there ; and if you starve in the streets, I'll never give any thing underhand in your behalf. If I have any more of your scribbling nonsense, I'll break
head the first time I set sight on you. You are a stubborn beast; is this your gratitude for my giving you money? You rogue, I'll better your judgment, and give you a greater sense of your duty to (I regret to say) your father, &c.
P. s. It's prudence for you to keep out of my sight; for to reproach me, that might overcomes right, on the outside of your letter, I shall give you a great knock on the scull for it,'
Was there ever such an image of paternal tenderness ! It was usual among some of the Greeks to make their slaves drink to excess, and then expose them to their children, who by that means conceived an early aversion to a vice which makes men appear so monstrous and irrational. I have exposed this picture of an unnatural father with the same intention, that its deformity may deter others from its resemblance. If the reader has a mind to see a father of the same stamp represented in the most exquisite strokes of humour, he may meet with it in one of the finest comedies that ever appeared upon the English stage : I mean the part of Sir SAMPSON in Love for Love.
I must not however engage myself blindly on the side of the son, to whom the fond letter above-written was directed. His father calls him a saucy
and audacious rascal” in the first line, and I am afraid upon examination he will prove but an ungracious youth. “ To go about railing" at his father, and to find no other place but
" the outside of his letter” to tell him “ that might overcomes right”-if it does not discover “ his reason to be depraved,” and “ that he is either fool or mad,” as the choleric old gentleman tells him, we may at least allow that the father will do very well in endeavouring to “ better his judgment, and give him a greater sense of his duty.” But whether this may be brought about " by breaking his head,” or “ giving him a great knock on the scull," ought, I think, to be well considered. Upon the whole, I wish the father has not met with his match, and that he may not be as equally paired with a son, as the mother in Virgil.
-Crudelis tu quoque mater :
ECL. viii. 48.
WARTON. Or like the crow and her egg in the Greek proverb.
Κακου κόρακος κακον 'ωον, “ Bad the crow, bad the egg." I must here take notice of a letter which I have received from an unknown correspondent, upon the subject of my paper, upon which the foregoing letter is likewise founded. * The writer of it seems very much concerned lest that paper should seem to give encouragement to the disobedience of children towards their parents ; but if the writer of it will take the pains to read it over again attentively, I dare say his apprehensions will vanish. Pardon and reconciliation are all the penitent daughter requests, and all that I contend for in her behalf; and in this case I may use the saying of
* No. 181.
an eminent wit, who, upon some great men's pressing him to forgive his daughter, who had married against his consent, told them he could refuse nothing to their instances, but that he would have them remember there was a difference between giving and forgiving.
I must confess, in all controversies between parents and their children, I am naturally prejudiced in favour of the former. The obligations on that side can never be acquitted, and I think it is one of the greatest reflections upon human nature, that paternal instinct should be a stronger motive to love than filial gratitude; that the receiving of favours should be a less inducement to goodwill, tenderness, and commiseration, than the conferring of them ; * and that the taking care of any person should endear the child or dependant more to the parent or benefactor, than the parent or benefactor to the child or dependant; yet so it happens, that for one cruel parent we meet with a thousand undutiful children. This is indeed wonderfully contrived (as I have formerly observed)+ for the support of every living species; but at the same time that it shews the wisdom of the Creator, it discovers the imperfection and degeneracy of the creature.
The obedience of children to their parents is the basis of all government, and set forth as the measure of that obedience which we owe to those whom Providence hath placed over us.
It is Father LE COMPTE, if I am not mistaken, who tells us how want of duty in this particular is punished among the Chinese, insomuch that if a son should be known to kill, or so much as to strike his father, not only the criminal but his whole family would be rooted out; nay, the inhabitants of the place where he lived would be put to the sword; nay, the place itself would
* It is an instance of the wisdom and goodness of Providence, that the disposition to bestow kindness is most powerful in those situations where kindness is most wanted.
+ See No. 120.
be razed to the ground, and its foundations sown with salt. For, say they, there must have been an utter depravation of manners in that clan or society of people who could have bred up among them so horrid an offender. To this I shall add a passage out of the first book of HERODOTUS. That historian in his account of the Persian customs and religion tells us, it is their opinion that no man ever killed his father, or that it is possible such a crime should be in nature ; but that if any thing like it should ever happen, they conclude that the reputed son must have been illegitimate, suppositious, or begotten in adultery. Their opinion in this particular shews sufficiently what a notion they must have had of Undutifulness in general.
SINCE I made some reflections upon the general negligence used in the case of regard towards women, or in other words, since I talked of wencbing, I have had epistles upon that subject, which I shall, for the present entertainment, insert as they lie before me.
MR. SPECTATOR, • As your speculations are not confined to any part of human life, but concern the wicked as well as the good, I must desire your favourable acceptance of what I, a poor strolling girl about town, have to say to you.
1 was told by a Roman Catholic gentleman who picked me up last week, and who, I hope, is absolved for what passed between us; I say, I was told by such a person, who endeavoured to convert me to his own religion, that in countries where Popery prevails, besides the advantage of licensed stews, there are large endowments given for the Incurabili, I think he called them, such as are past all remedy, and are allowed such maintenance and support as to keep them without farther care until they expire.* This manner of treating poor sinners has,
Far superior to this, justly observes the Editor of a former edition of the Spectator, because more conducive to the interests of virtue and benefit of the community, are our two late excellent