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of a modern monument, he would be apt to mistake it for an arch-angel, and be naturally put in mind of that awful time, "when the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall arise." But the design, we are told, is very different; and this winged messenger is no other than the ancient personage of Fame, who is proclaiming the virtues of the defunct round the world.
It has been recommended, on a different account, to have a separate place, distinct from our churches, for the reception of our monuments. I could wish to see such a scheme put in execution: for the present absurd mixture of the several objects of the Pagan and Christian belief, as represented on the tombs lately set up in compliance with the modern taste, must be shocking to every serious beholder. Should any one propose to take down from St. Paul's cathedral those paintings of Sir James Thornhill, representing the transactions of St. Paul, and in their place to set up Titian's pictures of the amours of the heathen gods and goddesses, every one would be shocked at the proposals. But the fashion of introducing heathen deities into our monuments is not much less absurd: and as Milton has been blamed for his frequent allusions to the heathen theology in his sacred poem, surely we are more to be condemned for admitting the whole class of their fictitious deities into the house of God itself. A reformation in this point is no less necessary than from the popish superstitions; and these prophane images, though not the objects of our idolatry, have no more pretence to set up in the temple of the living Lord, than those of the canonized saints of the Roman catholics.
Modern taste is continually striking out new improvements. We may therefore conclude, that when our statuaries have travelled through the ancient Pantheon, and exhausted all the subjects of the Gre
cian and Roman mythology, we shall have recourse to the superstitions of other nations for the designs of other monuments. They will then probably be adorned with Ægyptian hieroglyphics, and the tomb of some future hero may be built according to the model of the prophet's tomb at Mecca. It is not to be doubted, but that the Chinese taste, which has already taken possession of our gardens, our buildings, and our furniture, will also soon find it's way into our churches: and how elegant must a monument appear, which is erected in the Chinese taste, and embellished with dragons, bells, pagods, and mandarins?
No. LXXIV. THURSDAY, JUNE 26.
.....Non ita Romuli
Præscriptum, et intonsi Catonis
Auspiciis, veterumque norma.
Rome boasts her sons, a race of stubborn fools,
THERE is no method of reproof more in vogue, than the fashion of drawing invidious parallels between the present times and the past. The grumbling politician rails over his coffee at the present ministry, and reminds you with a sigh, of the golden days of queen Bess: while, in matters of less (onsequence, the critic shakes his head at Mr. Town, and mentions BICKERSTAFF. But the moralists are above all others devoted to this practice. These wise gentlemen are continually looking backwards, and con
demning what lays immediately before them by retrospect. They are for ever harping on this jarring chord, and have scarce more words in their mouths, than the solemn sentences said to be delivered by Friar Bacon's brazen head, Time is....... Time was is Time is past.'
No comparisons of this sort are so frequently repeated, and so much insisted on, as those drawn between the ancients and moderns. If an eloquent member of the House of Commons is cruelly suspected of bellowing for a place, nothing rings in his ears but Tully and Demosthenes. If a gentleman or perhaps a nobleman, with an heavy mortgage upon his estate, disencumbers it by selling his interest at a county election, he is immediately upbraided with one Roman, that was not ashamed to follow the plough tail, and another who could refuse large bribes, and content himself with a cottage and turnips. If a lady makes an unfortunate slip, she is told again and again of Lucretia, and fifty other school-boy tales of honour and chastity. In a word, there is not one fashionable frailty, but has some stubborn antiquated virtue set in opposition to it; and our unhappy metropolis is every day threatened with destruction, for its degeneracy from the rigid maxims of Rome or Sparta.
In the midst of all these severe reflections, it gives me infinite pleasure, that I can with justice take notice of the incontestible superiority of the moderns in point of modesty. The arrogance of the ancients was so remarkable, that, in their idea of a perfect character, they included every public and private virtue. They aimed at a strict observance of all the duties of life and if some old Romans had been styled gods while living, it would not have been such gross flattery as was afterwards practised in honouring the emperors with an apotheosis. Their inflexible honesty was their perpetual boast, and their virtue was
their pride. This high idea of a perfect character among the ancients naturally urged them to lift themselves to an invidious superiority above the rest of the world: while the modest moderns, by taking all the vices, instead of the virtues, into their notion of a fine gentleman, endeavour to let themselves down to a level with the lowest of their species, and have laid the surest foundation for humility. Fine gentlemen are so far from being proud, that they are never guilty of any thing, which gives them the least reason to be so and our fine ladies have none of the disgusting haughtiness of virtue, though indeed, they are seldom known to be ashamed.
It is impossible to devise any one method of lowering the good opinion a man might possibly conceive of himself, that has not been put in practice. No fine gentleman ever aimed at acquiring any excellence and if any natural perfections might give some little occasion for pride, the greatest pains have been taken to destroy them. Good parts have been often drowned in drunkenness, and a strong constitution sweated away in bagnios: and in the mean time learning has been totally neglected, lest improvement should bring on pedantry and literary pride. The most shining parts in the character of a fine gentleman are, that he drinks deep, dresses genteelly, rides well, can shoe his own horse, and is possessed of some other qualifications which nobody can ever suspect, that a mind, the least given to ambition, would ever labour to acquire. For my part I am so far from agreeing with our satirist, that the love of fame is the universal passion, that when I observe the behaviour of our fine gentlemen, I am apt to think it proceeds. from the lowest and humblest turn of mind. Indeed, their singular modesty appears to me the only means of accounting for their actions, which commonly tend to place them in the meanest and most contemptible light.
Nothing but this invincible modesty, and fear of seeming to aim at excellence, could ever give rise to certain habits, not only ridiculous, but ungraceful. Good eyes, for instance, are universally acknowledged to give lustre to the whole countenance; yet fashion and humility have blinded the whole town. The beau draws his eyes out of his pocket, and the beauties kill us through spying glasses. It has been known to be the vogue for persons of fashion to lose the use of their legs, and limp along as if they were crippled: this practice I daily expect to be revived: for I take it for granted, that the tall staves now carried about must naturally dwindle into crutches. An inarticulate lisp even now infects the delivery in polite conversation. It is not at all unfashionable to pretend deafness; and unless the ladies object to it, I do not not despair of seing the time, when the whole modish world shall affect to be dumb.
This humble way of thinking has been carried so far that it has even introduced a new species of hypocrisy. Fine gentlemen, fearing lest their good qualities should in their own despite overbalance their bad ones, claim several vices, to which they have no title. There is something very admirable and ingenious in this disposition among our young people, who not only candidly discover all their frailties, but accuse themselves of faults, which they never intended to commit. I know a young fellow, who is almost every morning complaining of the head-ache, and cursing the last night's champagne at the St. Alban's, when I am well assured he passed his evening very soberly with his maiden aunts in Cheapside. I am also acquainted with another gentleman, who is very fond of confessing his intrigues, and often modestly takes shame to himself for the great mischief he does among the women; though I well know, he is too bashful even to make love to his laundress. He some