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Death like an overflowing stream

Sweeps us away; our life 's a dream." We are now solemnizing the obsequies of the great Marlborough; all his victories, all his glories, his great projected schemes of war, his uninterrupted series of conquests, which are called his, as if he alone had fought and conquered by his arm, what so many men obtained for him with their blood—all is ended, where other men, and, indeed, where all men ended: HE IS DEAD.

Not all his immense wealth, the spoils and trophies of his enemies, the bounty of his grateful Mistress, and the treasure amassed in war and peace, not all that mighty bulk of gold—which some suggest is such, and so great, as I care not to mention-could either give him life, or continue it one moment, but he is dead; and some say the great treasure he was possessed of here had one strange particular quality attending it, which might have been very dissatisfying to him if he had considered much on it, namely, that he could not carry much of it with him.

We have now nothing left us of this great man that we can converse with but his monument and his history. He is now numbered among things passed. The funeral as well as the battles of the Duke of Marlborough are like to adorn our houses in sculpture as things equally gay and to be looked on with pleasure. Such is the end of human glory, and so little is the world able to do for the greatest men that come into it, and for the greatest merit those men can arrive to.

What then is the work of life? What the business of great men, that pass the stage of the world in seeming triumph as these men, we call heroes, have done? Is it to grow great in the mouth of fame and take up many pages in history? Alas! that is no more than making a tale for the reading of posterity till it turns into fable and

Is it to furnish subject to the poets, and live in their immortal rhymes, as they call them? That is, in short, no more than to be hereafter turned into ballad and song and be sung by old women to quiet children, or at the corner of a street to gather crowds in aid of the pickpocket and the poor. Or is their business rather to add virtue and piety to their glory, which alone will pass them into eternity and make them truly immortal? What is glory without virtue? A great man without religion is no more than a great beast without a soul. What is honour without merit? And what can be called true merit but that which makes a person be a good man as well as a


great man?

If we believe in a future state of life, a place for the rewards of good men and for the punishment of the haters of virtue, how few of heroes and famous men crowd in among the last! How few crowned heads wear the crowns of immortal felicity!

Let no man envy the great and glorious men, as we call them! Could we see them now, how many of them would move our pity rather than call for our congratulations! These few thoughts, Sir, I send to prepare your readers' minds when they go to see the magnificent funeral of the late Duke of Marlborough.


MIST, Passing occasionally the other day through

a little village, at some distance from town, I was entertained with the view of a very handsome equipage moving towards me. The gravity of the gentleman who sat in it, and the eagerness wherewith the coachman drove

1 This essay appeared on Dec. 5, 1719, in Nathaniel Mist's Weekly Journal or Saturday's Post, started on 15th Dec. 1716. On March 29, 1718, Defoe contributed the first leading article. The paper ran until 1728, when it passed into the hands of Fog. Mist was a Jacobite, and

"vender of Scandal and Sedition", and in January, 1728, "took the opportunity of slinking away in a mist".


along, engaged my whole attention; and I immediately concluded that it could be nothing less than some minister of state, who was posting this way upon some very important affair. They were now got about the middle of the place, when making a full stand, the footman, deserting his station behind and making up abreast of his master, gave us a very fine blast with a trumpet. I was surprised to see a skip transformed so speedily into a trumpeter, and began to wonder what should be the meaning of such an unusual phenomenon; when the coachman, jumping from his box, laying by his whip, and slipping off his great coat, in an instant rose up a complete merry-andrew. My surprise was now heightened, and though honest pickle2 with a world of grimace and gesticulation endeavoured to move my gaiety, I began to be very fearful where the metamorphosis might end. I looked very earnestly first at the horse and then at the wheels, and expected every minute to have seen them take their turn in the farce, and laying aside their present appearances assume other shapes. By this time the gentleman, who had hitherto appeared wonderfully sedate and composed, began to throw off his disguise; and having pocketed all his former modesty and demureness, and flushed his forehead with all the impudence of a thorough-paced quack, I immediately discovered him to be a very eminent and learned mountebank.

This discovery raised my curiosity as much as it abated my surprise, so that being very desirous to hear what new proposal the doctor had to make, or what new arcanum in physic he had found out, I quitted my former station and joined myself to the crowd that encompassed him. After a short preamble, he began to open the design of

I lackey.

? A harlequin in O. G. comedy. The fuller form of the word is pickleherring

his embassy, setting forth at large the great affection which he bore in particular to the people of that place; amplifying on his own merits and qualifications, specifying great numbers of cures which he had wrought on incurable distempers, expatiating on the extreme danger of being without his physic, and offering health and immortality to sale for the price of a tester.

You'd have burst your sides, Mr. Mist, had you but heard the foolish allusions, quaint expressions, and inconsistent metaphors, which fell from the mouth of this eloquent declaimer. For my part I should have wondered where he could have raked up nonsense enough to furnish out such a wordy harangue, but that I am told he has studied the Flying Post with a great deal of application, and that most of the silly things in his speech are borrowed from that excellent author. Sometimes he'd creep in the most vulgar phrases imaginable, by and by he'd soar out of sight and traverse the spacious realms of fustian and bombast. He was, indeed, very sparing of his Latin and Greek, as (God knows) having a very slender stock of those commodities; but then, for hard words and terms, which neither he, nor you, nor I, nor anybody else understand, he poured them out in such abundance that you'd have sworn he had been rehearsing some of the occult philosophy of Agrippa? or Rosicrusius, or reading a lecture out of Cabala.

After the doctor had given such ample indications of the greatest humanity, skill, and erudition, who d'ye think would be so incredulous as not to believe him, or so uncourteous as to refuse to purchase one of his packets? Lest any of us, however, should be too tenacious of our money to part with it on these considerations, he had one other motive which did not fail to do the business; this was by persuading us that there were the seeds of some malignant distemper lurking in every one of our bodies, and that there was nothing in nature could save us but some one or other of his medicines. He threatened us with death in case of refusal, and assured us with a prophetic air that without his physic every mother's son of us would be in our graves by that day twelve-month. The poor people were infinitely terrified with the imminent danger they found themselves under, but were as much pleased to find how easy it was to be evaded; so that, without more ado, every man bought his packet, and turned the doctor adrift to pursue further adventures.

i This is obviously a thrust at Defoe's enemy, George Ridpath, the writer of the Flying Post. Defoe contributed to another paper of the same name, hence Ridpath's scornful allusion to a “Sham Flying Post". To dulness Ridpath is as dear as Mist".

(Dunciad, I. 208.) 2 Henry Cornelius Agrippa (1486, Cologne) was a famous alchemist, author of De Occulta Philosophia, &c.

The scene being now removed, I was at leisure to reflect on what had passed, and could really have either cry'd or laugh'd very heartily at what I had seen. The arrogance of the doctor and the silliness of his patients were each of them ridiculous enough to have set a person of more gravity than myself a-laughing; but then to consider the tragical issue to which these things tended, and the fatal effect so many murthering medicines might have on several of his majesty's good subjects, would have made the merriest buffoon alive serious. I have not often observed a more hale, robust crowd of people than that which encircled this doughty doctor, methinks one might have read health in their very faces, and there was not a countenance among them which did not give the lie to the doctor's suggestions. Could but one see a little into futurity, and observe the condition they will be in a few months hence, what an alteration would one find! How many of those brawny youths are already puking in chimney corners? And how many rosy complexioned

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