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those calumnies and reproaches which we spread abroad concerning one another.
There is scarce a man living who is not, in some de. gree, guilty of this offence; though, at the same time, however we treat one another, it must be confefled, that we all consent in speaking ill of the persons who are notorious for this practice. It generally takes its rise either from an ill-will to mankind, a private inclination to make ourselves esteemed, an oftentation of wit, and vanity of being thought in the secrets of the world, or from a desire of gratifying any of these dispositions of mind in those persons with whom we converfc.
The publisher of scandal is more or less odious to mankind, and criminal in himself, as he is influenced by any one or more of the foregoing motives. But whatever may be the occasion of sprcading these false reports, he ought to consider, that the effect of them is equally prejudicial and pernicious to the person at whom they are aimed. The injury is the same, though the principle from whence it proceeds may be different. As every one
himself with too much indul. gence, when he paffts a judgment on his own thoughts or actions, and as very few would be thought guilty of this abominable proceeding, which is so universally practifed, and, at the fame time so universally blamed, I thall 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 fake delight in hearing the faults of others.
SECONDLY, Whether he is not too apt to believe fucii little blackening accounts, and more inclined to be credulous on the uncharitable than on the good-natured lide.
THIRDLY, Whether he is not ready to spread and propagate
such reports as tend to the disreputation of another.
These are the several steps by which this vice proceeds, and grows up into slander and defamation.
In the first place, a man who takes delight in hcaring the faults of others, shews fuíficicntly that he has a true - relilh of scandal, and consequently the seeds of this vice
within him. If his mind is gratified with hearing the reproaches which are cast on others, he will find the same pleasure in relating them, and be the more apt to do it, as he will naturally imagine every one he converses with is delighted in the same manner with himself. A man should endeavour therefore to wear out of his mind this criminal curiosity, which is perpetually heightened 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 credulous on the uncharitable, than on the good-natured side.
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 eyes. 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 celebrated Abbey de la Trape, 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 possible ; but in case they hear any thing of this nature so well attested that they cannot disbeliere it, they are then to suppose, that the criminal action may have proceeded from a good intention in him who is guilty of it. This is, perhaps, carrying charity to an extravagance, but it is certainly much more laudable, than to fuppose, as the ill-natured part of the world does, that indifferent, and even good actions, proceed from bad principles and wrong intentions.
In the third place, a man should examine his heart, whether he does not find in it a secret inclination to propagate such reports as tend to the disreputation of another.
When the disease of the mind, which I have hitherto been speaking of, arises to this degree of malignity, 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 breaft.
Friday, September 17.
-Non ut placidis coeant immitia, non ut Serpentes avibus geminentur, tigribus agni.
Hor. Ars poet, V. 12.
-Nature, and the common laws of sense,
F ordinary authors would condescend to write as they being intelligible. But they really take pains to be ridiculous; and, by the studied ornaments 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 obferve, that a metaphor is a fimile in one word, which ferves 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 expressed by different metaphors. But the mischicf is, that an unskilful author shall run these metaphors so absurdly into one another, that there all te 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 Lybian desart.
The absurdity in this instance is obvious. And yet every time that clashing metaphors are put together, 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 fight, 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 metaphorical 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 jcür point, &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 so uttered this complete picce 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 of all metaphors whatsoever, and determine which are homogeneous, and which heterogeneous; or, to speak more plainly, which are confiftent, 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 said by chance, that his inistress 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 set his heart against. The cpistle hath heretofore received great applaufe; but after what hath been said, let any man commend it if he dare.
FTER the many heary lases that have fallen
' the load that my ink can lay upon your thoulders. You . have quartered all the foul language upon me that could • be raked out of the air of Billingsgate, without know
ing who I am, or whether I deserve to be cufped and Scarified at this rate. I tell you once for all, turn your
you please, you shall never smell me out. Do you think that the panics, which
fuw about the pa• rish, will ever build a monument to your glory? No, Sir, you may fight these battles as long as you will, but when you come to balance the account, you will find that you have been fishing in troubled waters, and that an ignis 'fatuus hath bewildered you, and that indeed you
have • built upon a fandy foundation, and brought your hogs to a fair marker.
I am, SIR,
Monday, September 20.
Molle meum lecibiis cor est viclabile telis.
Ovid. Ep. 15. v.79.
Cupid's light darts my tender boom move. T , so .
HE case of my correspondent, who sends me the fical, that I know rot how to entertain my readers better than by laying it before them.