Page images
PDF
EPUB

compassion towards those who are under their care and protection, he has implanted in them an instinct, that supplies the place of this inherent goodness. I have illustrated this kind of instinct in former papers, and have shewn how it runs through all the species of brute creatures, as indeed the whole animal creation subsists by it.

This instinct in man is more general and uncircumscribed than in brutes, as being enlarged by the dictates of reason and duty. For if we consider ourselves attentively, we shall find that we are not only inclined to love those who descend from us, but that we bear a kind of sopan, or natural affection, to every thing which relies upon us for its good and preservation. Dependence is a perpetual call upon humanity, and a greater incitement to tenderness and pidy, than any other motive whatsoever.

The man, therefore, who, notwithstanding any passion or resentment, can overcome this powerful instinct, and extinguish natural affection, debases his mind even below brutality, frustrates, as much as in him lies, the great design of Providence, and strikes out of his nature one of the most divine principles that is planted in it.

Among innumerable arguments which might be brought against such an unreasonable proceeding, I shall only insist on one.

We make it the condition of our forgiveness that we forgive others. In our very prayers we desire no more than to be treated by this kind of retaliation. The case therefore before us seems to be what they call a' case in point;' the relation between the child and father, being what comes nearest to that between a creature and its Creator. If the father is inexorable to the child who has offended, let the offence be of never so high a nature, how will he address himself to the Supreme Being, under the tender appellation of a Father, and desire of him such a forgiveness as he himself refuses to grant?

To this I might add many other religious, as well as many prudential considerations; but if the lastmentioned motive does not prevail, I despair of succeeding by any other, and shall therefore conclude my paper with a very remarkable story, which is recorded in an old chronicle published by Freher, among the writers of the German history.

Eginhart, who was secretary to Charles the Great, became exceedingly popular by his behaviour in that post. His great abilities gained him the favour of his master, and the esteem of the whole court. Imma, the daughter of the emperor, was so pleased with his person and conversation, that she fell in love with him. As she was one of the greatest beauties of the age, Eginhart answered her with a more than equal return of passion. They stifled their fames for some time, under the apprehension of the fatal consequences that might ensue. Eginhart at length resolving to hazard all, rather than live deprived of one whom his heart was so much set upon, conveyed himself one night into the princess's apartment, and knocking gently at the door, was admitted as a person who had something to communicate to her from the emperor. He was with her in private most part of the night; but upon his preparing to go away about break of day, he observed that there had fallen a great snow during his stay with the princess. This very much perplexed him, Jest the prints of his feet in the snow might make discoveries to the king, who often used to visit his daughter in the morning. He acquainted the princess Imma with his fears; who, after some consultations

upon the matter, prevailed upon him to let her carry him through the snow upon her own shoul

[ocr errors]

ders. It happened that the emperor, not being able to sleep, was at that time up and walking in his chamber, when upon looking through the window he perceived his daughter tottering under her burden, and carrying his first minister across the snow; which she had no sooner done, but she returned again with the utmost speed to her own apartment. The emperor was extremely troubled and astonished at this accident; but resolved to speak nothing of it until a proper opportunity. In the mean time, Eginhart knowing that what he had done could not be long a secret, determined to retire from court; and in order to it begged the emperor that he would be pleased to dismiss him, pretending a kind of discontent at his not having been rewarded for his long services. The emperor would not give a direct answer to his petition, but told him he would think of it, and appointed a certain day when he would let him know his pleasure. He then called together the most faithful of his counsellors, and acquainting them with his secretary's crime, asked them their advice in so delicate an affair. They most of them gave their opinion, that the person could not be too severely punished, who had thus dishonoured his master. Upon the whole debate, the emperor declared it was his opinion, that Eginhart's punishment would rather increase than diminish the shame of his family, and that therefore he thought it the most advisable to wear out the memory of the fact, by marrying him to his daughter. Accordingly Eginhart was called in, and acquainted by the emperor, that he should no longer have any pretence of complaining his services were not rewarded, for that the Princess Imma should be given him in marriage, with a dower suitable to her quality ; which was soon after performed accordingly.

N° 182. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 1711.

Plus aloës quàm mellis habet

Juv. Sat. vi. 180.
The bitter overbalances the sweet.

As all parts of human life come under

my observation, my reader must not make uncharitable inferences from my speaking knowingly of that sort of crime which is at present treated of. He will, I hope, suppose I know it only from the letters of correspondents, two of which you shall have as follow:

MR. SPECTATOR,

• It is wonderful to me that among the many enormities which you have treated of, you have not mentioned that of wenching, and particularly the ensnaring part. I mean that it is a thing very fit for your pen, to expose the villany of the practice of deluding women. You are to know, sir, that I myself am a woman who have been one of the unhappy that have fallen into this misfortune, and that by the insinuation of a very worthless fellow, who served others in the same manner, both before my ruin, and since that time. I had, as soon as the rascal left me, so much indignation and resolution, as not to go upon the town, as the phrase is, but took to work for my living in an obscure place, out of the knowledge of all with whom I was before acquainted.

* It is the ordinary practice and business of life with a set of idle fellows about this town, to write

VOL. VIII.

Y

letters, send messages, and form appointments with little raw unthinking girls, and leave them after

possession of them, without any mercy, to shame, infamy, poverty, and disease. Were you to read the nauseous impertinencies which are written on these occasions, and to see the silly creatures sighing over them, it could not but be matter of mirth as well as pity. A little 'prentice girl of mine has been for some time applied to by an Irish fellow, who dresses very fine, and struts in a lace coat, and is the admiration of seamstresses, who are under age in town. Ever since I have had some knowledge of the matter, I have debarred my 'prentice from pen, ink, and paper. But the other day he bespoke some cravats of me: I went out of the shop, and left his mistress to put them up in a band-box in order to be sent to him when his man called. When I came into the shop again, I took occasion to send her away, and found in the bottom of the box written these words,“ why would you ruin a harmless creature that loves you?" then in the lid, “ There is no resisting Strephon:" I searched a little farther, and found in the rim of the box, “ At eleven o'clock at night come in a hackney-coach at the end of our street.” This was enough to alarm me; I sent away the things, and took my measures accordingly. An hour or two before the appointed time, I examined my young lady, and found her trunk stuffed with impertinent letters and an old scroll of parchment in Latin, which her lover had sent her as a settlement of fifty pounds a year. Among other things, there was also the best lace I had in my shop to make him a present for cravats. I was very glad of this last circumstance, because I could very conscientiously swear against him that he had enticed my servant away, and was her accomplice in

« PreviousContinue »