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Now, Sir, my complaint is this, that I am only made use of to serve a turn, being always discarded as • soon as a proper person is found out to fill up my place.
'If you hare ever been in the playhouse before the ' curtain rises, you see most of the front-boxes filled with men of my family, who forthwith turn out and resign their stations upon the appearance of those for whom they are retained.
• But the most illustrious branch of the Blanks are those who are planted in high polts till such time as 'persons of greater consequence can be fourd'out to sup
ply them. One of thosc Blanks is equally qualified for call offices; he can serve in time of need for a soldier, a
politician, a lawyer, or what you please. I have known ' in ny time many a brother Biank that has been born
under a lucky flanet, heap up great riches, and swell • into a man of figure and importance, before the gran• dees of his party could agree among
themselves which • of them thould step into his place. Nay, I have known
Blank continue to long in one of these vacant posts (for such it is to be reskoned all the time a Blark is in it) that he has grown too formidable and dangerous to • be rcmored.
* But to return to myself. Since I am so very con'molious a person, and so very necessary in all well-re' gulated gorernments, I desire you will take my case in
to consideration, that I may be no longer made a toal of, and only employed to stop a gap. Such usage, without a pun, makes me look
blank. For all which * reasons I humbly recommend myself to your protection,
s and am:
Your most obedient fervant,
· P.S. I hcrewith send you a paper, drawn up by a country-attorney employed by two gentlemen, whose names he was not acquainted with, and who did not ' think fit to let him into the secret, 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 wbat use I am to the busy world!
“IT. Blank, Esq; of Blank town, in the county of « Blank, do own myself indebted in the sum of Blank, “ to goodman Blank, for the service he did me in pro“ curing for me the goods following, Blank : And I do
hereby promise the said Blank to pay unto him the “ said sum of Blank, on the flank day of the month of “ Blank next ensuing, under the penalty and forfeiture " of Blank.”
I SHALL take time to consider the case of this my imaginary correspondent, and in the mean while shall present my reader with a letter which seems to come from a person that is made up of flesh and blood.
« Good Mr SPECTATOR, 1
Am married to a very honest gentleman that is ex
ceedingly good-natured, and at the same time very • choleric. There is no standing before him when he is ' in a passion; but as soon as it is over he is the best-hu(moured creature in the world. When he is angry he * breaks all my china-ware that chances to lie in his way, • and the next morning sends me in twice as much as he • broke the day before. I may positively say, 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 seeing 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 china that • was broke to his hand; but the very next day, upon my giving a wrong message to one of the servants, he
flew into such a rage, that he swept down a dozen tea..dishes, which, to my misfortune, stood very convenient s for a side-blow.
"I Then removed all my china into a room which he never frequents; but I got nothing by this neither, for
looking-glasses immediately went to rack.
" In short, sir, whenever he is in a pasion 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, to let me know 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
great veneration for your writings, wilt by that means know you
do not approve of his conduct.
Regula, peccatis qilu prnas irrsget aquas :
Hor. lat. 3. 1. 1. V. 117,
Let ri:les be fix'd that 11.cy 0:1r rage contain, -411:1 punish faults with a proportion'd pain ; And do not stay him, who deferves alone A whipping for the fault that he hath done. Creech, T is the work of a philosopher to be every day sub
duing 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 interelt. But while I am thus employed myself, I cannot help observing, how those about me suffer themselves to be blinded by prejudice and inclination, how readily they pronounce on every man's character, which 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 važue of their fellow-creatures, and that mens characters are not thus to be given in general words. There is indeed no fuch thing as a
perfon entirely good or bad; virtue and vice are blended and mixed together, in a greater or lefs proportion, in every one; and if you would search for some particular good quality in its most eminent degree of perfection, you will often find it in a mind, where it is darkened and eclipsed by an hundred other irregular paffions.
Men have either no character at all, says a celebrated author, or it is that of being inconsistent with themselves. They find it easier to join extremities, 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 taken a most beautiful lady named Panthea, the wife of Abradatas, 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 passion. The young gentleman had not long been in possession of his fair captive, when a complaint was made to Cyrus, that he not only solicited the lady Panthea to receive him in the room of her absent husband, but that finding his entreaties had no effect, he was preparing to make use of force. Cyrus, who loved the young man, immediately fent for him, and in a gentle manner representing to him his fault, and putting him in mind of his former assertion, the unhappy youth, confounded with a quick sense of his guilt and shame, burst out into a flood of tears, and spoke as follows.
"Oh Cyrus, I am convinced that I have two souls. * Love has taught me this piece of philosophy. If I had . but one foul, it could not at the same time pant after virtue and vice, with and abhor the same thing. It is certain therefore we have two souls: when the good soul rules, I'undertake noble and virtuous actions ; but when the.bad foul predominates, I am forced to do evil. All I can say at present is, that I find my good soul, encou• raged by your presence, has got the better of my bad.'
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 conVOL. VIII,
verse with any who is eminent among our contemporaries, that is not an instance of what I am saying.
But as I have hitherto only argued against the partiality and injustice of giving our judgment upon men in grofs, who are such a composition of virtues and vices, of good and evil, I might carry this reflection still farther, and make it extend to most of their actions. If on the onc hand, we fairly weighed every circumstance, we should frequently find them obliged to do that action we at first Light condemn, in order to avoid another we should have been much more displeased with. If on the other hand we nicely examined such actions as appear more dazzling to the eye, we should find most of them either deficient ard lame in several parts, produced by a bad ambition, or directed to an ill end. The very
same action may sometimes be so oddly circumstanced, that it is difficult to determine whether it ought to be rewarded or punished. Those who compiled the laws of England were so sensible of this, that they have laid it down as one of their first maxims, “It is better suffering a mischief than an incon
venience;' which is as much as to say, in other words, that since no law can take in or provide for all cases, it is better private men should have some injustice done them, than that a public grievance should not be redressed. This is usually pleaded in defence of all those hardships which fall on particular persons in particular occasions, which could not be foreseen when a law was made. To. remedy this however as much as possible, the court of chancery was erected, which frequently mitigates and breaks the teeth of the common law, in case of mens properties, while in criminal cases there is a power of pardoning still lodged in the crown.
NOTWITHSTANDING this, it is perhaps impossible in a large government to distribute rewards and punishments ítrialy proportioned to the merits of every action. The Spartan commonwealth was indeed wonderfully exact in it is particular; and I do not remember in all my reading to have met with so nice an example of justice as that re-corded by Pluturch, with which I shall close my paper for this day.
The city of Sparta being unexpectedly attacked by a powerful army of Thebans, was in very great danger of