« PreviousContinue »
ferve in time of need for a soldier, a politician, a lawyer, or what you please. I have known in my time many
brother Blank that has been born * under a lucky planet, heap up great riches, and • swell into a man of figure and importance, be• fore the grandees of his party could agree among • themselves which of them should step into his
place. Nay, I have known a Blank continue fo long in one of these vacant posts, (for such it is
to be reckoned all the time a Blank is in it) that • he has grown too, formidable and dangerous to be 6 removed.
But to return to myself. Since I am fo very commodious a person, and fo very necessary in
all well-regulated governments, I defire you will • take my cafe into consideration, that I may be no
longer made a tool of, and only employed to stop a gap.
Such usage, without a pun, makes me look very blank. For all which reasons I humbly recommend myself to your protection,
6 and am,
• P.S. I herewith fend you a paper drawn up by a country attorney, employed by two gentle
men, whose naines he was not acquainted withi, • and who did not think fit to let him into the fe
cret, which they were transacting. I heard him call it a blank instrument, and read it after the
following manner. You may fee by this single • instance of what use I am to the busy world:
• I T. Blank, Esq; of Blank town, in the county of Blank, do cwn myself indebted in the sum of « Blank, to Goodman Blank, for the service he did
me in procuring for me the goods following, Blank: . And I do hereby promise the said Blank, to pay unta him the said fum of Blank, in the Blank day of the
• month of Blank next ensuing, under the penalty ' and forfeiture of Blank.'
I strall take time to consider the case of this my imaginary correspondent, and in the mean while ihall present my reader with a letter which seems to come from a person that is made up of flesh. and blood.
Good Mr. SPECTATOR, I Am married to a very honest gentleman that
is exceeding good.natured, and at the same • time very cholerick. There is no standing before • him when he is in a passion ; but as soon as it is over he is the best-humoured creature in the
world. When he is angry he breaks all my r china-ware that chances to lie in his
and the next morning sends ine in twice as much as • be broke the day before. I may positively fay,
that he has broke me a child's fortune since we • were first married together.
• As soon as he begins to fret, down goes every thing that is within reach of his cane. I
once prevailed upon him never to carry a stick in • his hand, but this saved me nothing ; for upon
feeing me do something that did not please him; he kicked down a great jar, that cost him above ten pounds but the week before. I'then laid the fragments together in a heap, and gave him his
cane again, defiring him that if he chanced to * be in anger he would spend his passion upon the 6 china that was broke to his hand ; but the very * next day, upon my giving a wrong message to:
one of the servcnts, he flew into such a rage, that he swept down a dozen tea.dishes, which, to my misfortune, stood very convenient for a fide-blow.
I then removed all my china into a room which he never frequents; but I got nothing by
* this neither, for my looking-glasses immediately went to rack.
• In short, Sir, whenever he is in a paflion he is angry at every thing that is brittle; and if on such • occasions he had nothing to vent his rage upon, I do not know whether my bones would be in
safety. Let me beg of you, Sir, lo let me know 6 whether there be any cure for this unaccountable . distemper; or, if not, that you will be pleased
to publish this letter : For my husband having a great veneration for your writings, will by that means know you do not approve of his conduct.
• Your most humble servant, &c.'
N° 564. WEDNESDAY, JULY 7.
Hor. Sat.'iii. l. i. ver. 1176
CREECH IT T is the work of a philosopher to be every day
subduing his passions, and laying aside his prejudices. I endeavour at least to look upon men and their actions only as an impartial Spectator, without any regard to them as they happen to advance or cross my own private interest. But while I am thus employed myself, I cannot help observing, how those about me' suffer themselves to be blinded by prejudice and inclination, low readily they pronounce on every man's character, wbichi
they can give in two words, and make him either good for nothing or qualified for every thing. On the contrary, those who search thoroughly into human nature, will find it much more difficult to determine the value of their fellow-creatures, and that men's characters are not thus to be given in general words. There is indeed no such thing asa person intirely good or bad ; virtue and vice are blended and mixed together, in a greater or less proportion, in every one ; and if you would search for some particular good quality in its moft eminent degree of perfection, you will often find it in a mind where it is darkened and eclipsed by an hun. dred other irregular paffions.
Men have either no character at all, says a cele-brated author, or it is that of being inconfiftent with themselves. They find it easier to join extreinities, than to be uniform and of a piece. This is finely illustrated in Xenophon's life of Cyrus the Great. That author tells us, that Cyrus having ta. ken a most beautiful Lady, named Panthea, the wife of ribradatus, committed her to the custody of Araspas, a young Persian nobleman, who had a little before maintained in discourse, That a mind truly virtuous was incapable of entertaining an unlawful paffion. The young gentlenian had not long been in poffeffion of his fair captive, when a complaint was made to Cyrus, that he not only fo. licited the Lady Panthea to receive him in the room of her absent husband, but that finding his intreaties had no effect, he was preparing to make use of force. Cyrus, who loved the young man, immediately sent for him, and in a gentle manner repre. senting to him his fault, and putting him in mind of his former allertion, the unhappy youth, confounded with a quick sense of his guilt and shame, burst out into a flood of tears, and spoke as fol. lows. O Cyrus, I am convinced that I have two souls..
Love has taught me this piece of philofophy. If I had but one foul, it could not at the same time pant after virtue and vice, wish and abhor the same thing. It is certain therefore we have two souls : When the good foul rules, I undertake noble and virtuous atlions ; but when the bad foul predominates, I am forced to do evil. All i can say at present is, that I find my good foul, encouraged by your presence, has got the better of
I know not whether my readers will allow of this piece of philosophy, but if they will not, they must confess we meet with as different passions in one and the same soul, as can be supposed in two. We can hardly read the life of a great man who lived in former ages, or converse with any who is eminent among our contemporaries, that is not an inftance of what I am saying.
But as I have hitherto only argued againft the partiality and injustice of giving our judgment upon men in gross, who are such a composition of virtues and vices, of good and evil, I might carry this reflexion still farther, and make it extend to most of their actions. If on the one hand we fairly: weighed every circumstance, we thould frequently find them obliged to do that action we at first fight condemn, in order to avoid another we should have been inuch more difpleased with. If on the other hand, we nicely examined such actions as appear moft dazzling to the eye, we should find most of them either deficient and lame in several parts, produced by a bad ambition; or directed to an ill end. The very fame action may sometimes be so oddly circumftanced, that it is difficult to determine whether it ought to be rewarded or punished: Those who compiled the laws of England were fo fenfible of this, that they have laid it down as one of their first maxims, It is better frifering a mischief than an inconvenience, which is as much as to say in other words, That since no law can take in or pro