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• If the notion of a gradual rise in beings from I the meaneft to the most high, be not a vain ima
gination, it is not improbable that an angel looks down upon a man, as a man doth upon a creature which approaches the nearest to the rational nature. By the fame rule (if I may indulge my
fancy in this particular) a superior brute looks • with a kind of pride on one of an inferior spe« cies. If they could reflect, we might imagine
from the gestures of some of them, that they think themselves the fovereigns of the world, . and that all things were made for them. Such
a thought would not be more abfurd in brute
creatures, than one which men are apt to en' tertain, namely that all the stars in the firma'ment were created only to please their eyes,
and . amuse their imaginations. Mr. Dryden, in his fa• ble of the Cock and the Fox, makes a speech for « his hero the cock, which is a pretty instance for • this purpose.
Then turning, said to Partlet, fee, my dear, How lavish nature hath adorn’d the year ; How the pale primrose and the violet Spring, And birds elay their throats difus'd to sing : All these are ours, and I with pleasure fee Man frutting on two legs, and aping me. • What I would observe from the whole is this, that we ought to value ourselves upon those • things only which superior Beings think valua
ble, since that is the only way for us not to fink :' in our own esteem hereafter.
* N° 622. FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19.
Fallentis femita vita.
Hor. Ep. xviii. lib. i. ver. 103. ---A safe private quiet, which betrays Itself to ease, and cheats away the days.
< Mr. SPECTATOR, :IN
N a former speculation you have observe
ed, that true greatness doth not confift in that pomp and noise wherein the generality of man• kind are apt to place it. You have there taken • notice, that virtue in obscurity often appears • more illustrious in the eye of fuperior beings,
than all that paffes for grandeur and magnificence among men,
• When we look back upon the history of those • who have borne the parts of kings, statesmen, or ' commanders, they appear to us stripped of those • out-side ornaments that dazzled their contempo* raries; and we regard their persons as great or ' little, in proportion to the eminence of their vir.
tues or vices. The wife fayings, generous fenti'ments, or disinterested conduct of a philofopher
under mean circumstances of life, fet him higher ' in our esteem that the mighty potentates of the • earth, when we view them both through the long
profpect of many ages. Were the memoirs of an • obscure man, who lived up to the dignity of his ' nature, and according to the rules of virtue, to • be laid before us, we should find nothing in such
a character which might not fet him on a level • with men of the highest stations. The follow
ing extract out of the private papers of an honest country.gentleinan will set this matter in a clear light. Your reader will perhaps conceive a
idea of him from these actions done in « fecret, and without a witness, than of those • which have drawn upon them the admiration of 6 multitudes.
MEMOIRS. “ In my 22d year I found a violent affection “ for my cousin Charles's wife growing upon me, “ wherein I was in danger of succeeding, if I had
not upon that account begun my travels into fo" reign countries.
“ A little after my return into England, at a " private meeting with my uncle Francis, I refused “ the offer of his estate, and prevailed upon him
not to disinherit his son Ned.
66 Mem. Never to tell this to Ned, left he should " think hardly of his deceased father ; though " he continues to speak ill of me for this very u reason.
« Prevented a scandalous law-suit betwixt my 6 nephew Harry and his mother, by allowing her “ underhand, out of my own pocket, so much “ money yearly as the dispute was about,
" Procured a benefice for a young divine, 66 who is fifter's son to the good man who was
my tutor, and hath been dead twenty years. “Gave ten pounds to poor Mrs.--, my friend H-'s widow.
“ Mem. To retrench one dish at my table, until I 66 have fetched it up again.
Mem. To repair my house and finish my gar" dens in order to employ poor people after hare "r vest time.
" Ordered John to let out goodnan D's “ fheep that were pounded, by night : But not to
let his fellow servants know it.
" Prevailed upon M. T. Efq; not to take the « law of the farmer's son for shooting a partridge, " and to give him his gun again.
“ Paid the apothecary for curing an old woman 66 that confeffed herfelf a witch. " Gave away my fovourite dog for biting a beg. gar.
« Made the minister of the parish and a " wbig justice of one mind, by putting them to
explain their notions to one another.
“ Mem. To turn off Peter for shooting a doe “ while she was eating acorns out of his hand.
“ When my neighbour John, who hath often injured me, comes to make his request to-mor
" Mem. I have forgiven him.
“ Laid up my chariot, and sold my horfes, to “ relieve the poor in a scarcity of corn.
“ In the same year remitted to my tenants a fifth part
of their rents. « As I'was airing to day, I fell into a thought " that warmed my heart, and shall, I hope, be : " the better of it as long as I live.
** Mem. To charge my son in private to erect
no monument for me; but not to put this in my: 61 last will."
N°623. MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22.
Sed mihi vel tellus optem prius ima dehiscat,
VIRG. Æn. iv, ver. 24.
for the following curious piece of antiquity, which I shall communicate to the public in his own words.
· Mr. SPECTATOR,
to you an account of an ancient custom, in the manors of East and West-Enborne, in the county of Berks, and elfewhere. If a customary
tenant die, the widow Noall have what the law calls I hér Free-bench in all his copy hold-lands, dum so"la & cafta fuerit, that is, while she lives single
and chaíte ; but if sbe commits incontinency, the forfeits her.estate : Yet if she will come into the court
riding backward upon a black Ram, with his tail • in her hand, and say the words following, the stew.