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“ I must not dismiss you without further instructions. If possible, transfer your passion from the woman you are now in love with to another; or, if you cannot do that, change the passion itself into some other passion, that is, to speak more plainly, find out some other agreeable woman; or if you cannot do this, grow covetous, ambitious, litigious : turn your love of women into that of profit, preferment, reputation; and for a time give up yourself entirely to the pursuit.
“ This is a method we sometimes take in physic, when we turn a desperate disease into one we can more easily cure.”
He made little answer to all this, but crying out,
Ah, Sir!” for his passion reduced his discourse to interjections. " There is one thing,” added I, “ which is
present death to a man in your condition, and, therefore, to be avoided with the greatest care and caution: that is, in a word, to think of your mistress and rival together, whether walking, discoursing, or dallying" "“ The devil!” he cried out, “ who can bear it ?" To compose him, for I pitied him very much; • The time will come,” said I, “ when you shall not only bear it, but laugh at it. As a preparation to it, ride every morning, an hour at least with the wind full in your face. Upon your return, recollect the several precepts which I have now given you, and drink upon them a bottle of Spawwater. Repeat this every day for a month successively, and let me see you at the end of it.” He was taking his leave with many thanks, and some appearance of consolation in his countenance, when I called him back to acquaint him, “ that I had private information of a design of the coquettes to buy ир
all the true Spaw-water in town:” upon which he took his leave in haste, with a resolution to get all things ready for entering upon his regimen the next morning.
No 108. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1709.
Pronaque cum spectent animalia cætera terram,
OVID. Met, i. 85.
DRYDEN. Sheer-lane, December 16. It is not to be imagined how great an effect welldisposed lights, with proper forms and orders in assemblies, have upon some tempers. I am sure I feel it in so extraordinary a manner, that I cannot in a day or two get out of my imagination any very beautiful or disagreeable impression which I receive on such occasions. For this reason I frequently look in at the play-house, in order to enlarge my thoughts, and warm my mind with some new ideas, that may be serviceable to me in my lucubrations.
In this disposition I entered the theatre the other day, and placed myself in a corner of it very convenient for seeing, without being myself observed. I found the audience hushed in a very deep attention ; and did not question but some noble tragedy was just then in its crisis, or that an incident was to be unravelled, which would determine the fate of a hero. While I was in this suspense, expecting every moment to see my old friend Mr. Betterton appear in all the Majesty of distress, to my unspeakable amazement there came up a monster with a face between his feet; and as
was looking on, he raised himself on one leg in such a perpendicular posture, that the other grew in a direct line above his head. It afterwards twisted itself into the motions and wreathings of several different animals,
and after great variety of shapes and transformations, went off the stage in the figure of a human creature. The admiration, the applause, the satisfaction of the audience, during this strange entertainment, is not to be expressed. I was very much out of countenance for my dear countrymen, and looked about with some apprehension, for fear any foreigner should be present. Is it possible, thought I, that human nature can rejoice in its disgrace, and take pleasure in seeing its own figure turned to ridicule, and distorted into forms that raise horror and aversion? There is something disingenuous and immoral in the being able to bear such a sight. Men of elegant and noble minds are shocked at seeing the characters of persons who deserve esteem for their virtue, knowledge, or services to their country, placed in wrong lights, and by misrepresentation made the subject of buffoonery. Such a nice abhorrence is not indeed to be found among the vulgar; but methinks it is wonderful, that those who have nothing but the outward figure to distinguish them as men, should delight in seeing humanity abused, vilified and disgraced.
I must confess, there is nothing that more pleases me, in all that I read in books, or see among mankind, than such passages as represent human nature in its proper dignity. As man is a creature made
up of different extremes, he has something in him very great and very mean. A skilful artist
draw an excellent picture of him in either of these views. The finest authors of antiquity have taken him on the more advantageous side. They cultivate the natural grandeur of the soul, raise in her a generous ambition, feed her with hopes of immortality and perfection, and do all they can to widen the partition, between the virtuous and the vicious, by making the difference betwixt them as great as between gods and brutes. In short, it is impossible to read
a page in Plato, Tully, and a thousand other ancient moralists, without being a greater and a better man for it.
On the contrary, I could never read any of our modish French authors, or those of our own country who are the imitators and admirers of that trifling nation, without being for some time out of humour with myself and at every thing about me. Their business is, to depreciate human nature, and consider it under its worst appearances. They give mean interpretations and base motives to the worthiest actions : they resolve virtue and vice into constitution. In short, they endeavour to make no distinction between man and man, or between the species of men, and that of brutes. As an instance of this kind of authors, among many others, let any one examine the celebrated Rochefoucault, who is the great philosopher for administering of consolation to the idle, the envious, and worthless part of mankind.
I remember a young gentleman of moderate understanding, but great vivacity, who by dipping into many authors of this nature, had got a little smattering of knowledge, just enough to make an atheist of a free-thinker, but not a philosopher or a man of
With these accomplishments, he went to visit his father in the country, who was a plain, rough, honest man, and wise, though not learned. The son, who took all opportunities to show his learning, began to establish a new religion in the family, and to enlarge the narrowness of their country notions; in which he succeeded so well that he had seduced the butler by his table-talk, and staggered his eldest sister. The old gentleman began to be alarmed at the schisms that arose among his children, but did not yet believe his son's doctrine to be so pernicious as it really was, until one day talking of his setting dog, the son said, “ he did not question but Trey was as immortal as any one of the family;" and in the heat of the argument told his fa
ther, “ that, for his own part, he expected to die like a dog." Upon which, the old man starting up in a very great passion, cried out, " Then, sirrah, you shall live like one;" and taking his cane in his hand, cudgelled him out of his system. This had so good an effect upon him, that he took up from that day, fell to reading good books, and is now a bencher in the Middle-Temple.
I do not mention this cudgelling part of the story with a design to engage the secular arın in matters of this nature: but certainly, if it ever exerts itself in affairs of opinion and speculation, it ought to do it on such shallow and despicable pretenders to knowledge, who endeavour to give man dark and uncomfortable prospects of his being, and destroy those principles which are the support, happiness, and glory of all public societies, as well as private persons.
I think it is one of Pythagoras's golden sayings, “ That a man should take care above all things to have a due
for himself.” And it is certain, that this licentious sort of authors, who are for depreciating mankind, endeavour to disappoint and undo what the most refined spirits have been labouring to advance since the beginning of the world. The very design of dress, good-breeding, outward ornaments, and ceremony, were to lift up
human nature, and set it off to an advantage. Architecture, painting, and statuary, were invented with the same design; as indeed every art and science contributes to the embellishment of life, and to the wearing off and throwing into shades the mean and low parts of our nature. Poetry carries on this great end more than all the rest, as may be seen in the following passage taken out of Sir Francis Bacon's “ Advancement of Learning,” which gives a truer and better account of this art than all the volumes that were ever written