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But whatever may be the occasion of spreading these false reports, he ought to consider, that the effect of them is equally prejudicial and pernicious to the per. fon at whom they are aimed. The injury is the same, though the principle from whence it proceeds may
be different. As every one looks upon himself with too much indulgence, when he passes a judgment on his own thoughts or actions, and as very few would be thought guilty of this abominable proceeding, which is so universally practised, and, at the same time, fo universally blamed, I shall lay down three rules by which I would have a man examine and search into his own heart, before he stands acquitted to himself of that evil disposition of mind which I am here mentioning
First of all, let him consider, whether he does not take delight in hearing the faults of others.
Secondly, Whether he is not too apt to believe such little blackening accounts, and more inclined to be credulous on the uncharitable, than on the good-natured Ede.
Thirdly, Whether he is not ready to spread and propagate such reports as tend to the disreputation of another.
Thefe are the feveral steps by which this vice proceeds, and grows up into flander and defamation.
In the first place, a man who takes delight in hearing the faults of others, shews sufficiently that he has a true relish of fcandal, and consequently the feeds of this vice within him. If his mind is gratis, fied with hearing the reproaches which are cast on others, he will find the fame pleasure in relating, them, and be the more apt to do it, as he will naturally imagine every one he converfes with is de. lighted in the same manner with himself. A man should endeavour therefore to wear out of his mind this criminal curiosity, which is perpetually heigh
tened and inflamed by listening to such stories as tend to the disreputation of others.
In the second place, a man should consult his own heart, whether he be not apt to believe such little blackening accounts, and more inclined to be credu. lous on the uncharitable, than on the good-natured fide.
Such a credulity is very vicious in itself, and generally arises from a man's consciousness of his own secret corruptions. It is a pretty saying of Thales, Falsehood is just as far distant from truth, as the ears are from the eye. By which he would intimate, that a wise man should not easily give credit to the reports of actions which he has not seen. I shall under this head mention two or three remarkable rules to be observed by the members of the celebrate ed Abbè de la Trappe, as they are published in a little French book.
The fathers are there ordered, never to give an ear to any accounts of base or criminal actions; to turn off all such discourse if posible; but in case they hear any thing of this nature, so well attested that they cannot disbelieve it, they are then to fuppose, that the criminal action may have proceeded from a good intention in him who was guilty of it. This is, perhaps, carrying charity to an extravagance, but it is certainly much more laudable, than to suppose, as the ill-natured part of the world does, that indifferent, and even good actions, proceed from bad principles, and wrong intentions.
In the chird place, a man should examine his heart, whether he does not find in it a secret incli. nation to propagate such reports as tend to the dis. reputation of another.
When the disease of the mind, which I have hitherto been speaking of, arises to this degree of ma. lignity, it discovers itself in its worst symptom, and is in danger of becoming incurable.' I need not therefore insist upon the guilt in this last particular,
which every one cannot but disapprove, who is not void of humanity, or even
common discretion. I Shall only add, that whatever pleasure any man may take in spreading whispers of this nature, he will find an infinitely greater satisfaction in conquering the temptation he is under, by letting the secret die within his own breast.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17.
Non ut placidis coë ant immitia, non ut
Hor. Ars Poet. ver. 12.
IF ordinary authors would condescend to write as
they think, they would at least be allowed the praise of being intelligible. But they really take pains to be ridiculous; and, by the studied orna. ments of stile, perfectly disguise the little sense they aim at. There is a grievance of this sort in the commonwealth of letters, which I have for some time resolved to redress, and accordingly I have set this day apart for justice. What I mean is, the mixture of inconsistent metaphors, which is a fault but too often found in learned writers, but in all the unlearned without exception.
In order to set this matter in a clear light to every. reader, I shall in the first place observe, that a me. taphor is a simile in one word, which serves to convey the thoughts of the mind under resemblances and images which affect the senses. There is not
any thing in the world, which may not be compared to several things, if considered in several distinct lights; or, in other words, the same thing may be exprefled by different metaphors. But the mischief is, that an unskilful author shall run these metaphors só absurdly into one another, that there shall be no fimile, no agreeable picture, no apt resemblance, but confusion, obscurity, and noise. Thus I have known a hero compared to a thunderbolt, a lion, and the sea; all and each of them proper metaphors for impetuosity, courage, or force. But by bad management it hath so happened, that the thunderbolt hath overflowed its banks; the lion hath been darted through the skies, and the billows have rolled out of the Libyan desert.
The absurdity in this instance is obvious. And yet every time that clashing metaphors are put to. gether, this fault is committed more or less. It hath already been said, that metaphors are images of things which affect the senses. An image therefore taken from what acts upon the light, cannot, without violence, be applied to the hearing; and so of the rest. It is no less an impropriety to make any being in nature or art to do things in its meta. phorical state, which it could not do in its original. I shall illustrate what I have said by an instance which I have read more than once in controversial writers. The heavy lashes, faith a celebrated author, that have dropped from your pen, &c. I suppose this gentleman, having frequently heard of gall dropping from a pen, and being lashed in a satire, he was resolved to have them both at any rate, and fo uttered this complete piece of nonsense. It will most effectually discover the absurdity of these monstrous unions, if we will suppose these metaphors or images actually painted. Imagine then a hand holding a pen, and several lashes of whip.cord falling from it, and you have the true representation of this sort of eloquence. I believe, by this very rule,
a reader may be able to judge of the union all metaphors whatsoever, and determine which are homogeneous, and which heterogeneous : or, to speak more plainly, which are consistent, and which inconsistent.
There is yet one evil more which I must take notice of, and that is the running of metaphors into tedious allegories; which, though an error on the better hand, causes confusion as much as the other. This becomes abominable, when the lustre of one word leads a writer out of his road, and makes him wander from his subject for a page together. I remember a young fellow of this turn, who having faid by chance, that his mistress had a world of charms, thereupon took occasion to consider her as one poffefsed of frigid and torrid zones, and pursued her from the one pole to the other.
I shall conclude this paper with a letter written in that enormous stile, which I hope my reader hath by this time fet his heart against. The epistle hath heretofore received great applause; but after what hath been said, let any man commend it if he dare.
After the many heavy lashes that have fallen • from your pen, you may justly expect in reo turn all the load that my ink can lay upon your • shoulders. You have quartered all the foul lan'guage upon me, that could be raked out of the
air of Billingsgate, without knowing who I am, i or whether I deserve to be cupped and scarified ( at this rate. I tell you once for all, turn your eyes where you please, you fhall never smell me
Do you think that the panics, which you • row about the parish will ever build a monument • to your glory? No, Sir, you may fight these bat• tles as long as you will, but when you come to • balance the account you will find that you have