« PreviousContinue »
tainorphosed into that musical and melancholy bird, is still a doubt among the Lesbians.
ALGÆUS, the famous lyric poet, who had for foine time been passionately in love with Sappho, arrived at the promontory of Leucate that very evening, in order to take the leap upon her account; but hearing that Sappho had been there before him, and that her body could be no where found, he very generously lamented her fall, and is said to have written his hundred and twenty fifth ode upon that occalion.
Vellem in amicitia sic errarenius.
Hor. Sat. 3. 1. 1. V. 41.
I wish this error in our friendship reign’d. CREECH.
very often hear people, after a story has been told with some entertaining circumstances, tell it over
again with particulars that destroy the jest, but give light into the truth of the narration. This sort of veracity tho' it is impertinent, has something amiable in it, becaufe
it proceeds from the love of truth, even in frivolous occasions. If' such honest amendments do not promise an agreeable companion, they do a sincere friend; for which reason one should allow them so much of our time, if we fall into their coinpany, as-to set us right in matters that can do us no manner of harm, whether the facts be one way or the other. Lies which are told out of arrogance and oftentation a man should detect in his own defence, because he Thould not be triumphed over; lies which are told out of malice he should expose, both for his own fake and that of the rest of mankind, because every man-fhould rise against
a coinmon enemy: but, the officious liar, many have argued, is to be excused, because it does some man good, and no man hurt. The man who made more than ordinary speed from a fight in which the Athenians were beaten, and told them they had obtained a complete victory, and put the whole city into the utmost joy and exultation, was checked by the magistrates for his fálfhood; but excused himself by saying, Ò Athenians! am 1 your enemny because I gave ye two happy days? This fellow did to a whole people what an acquaintance of mine does every day he lives in fone eminent degree to particular perfons. He is ever lying people into good humour, and, as Plato faid, it was allowable in physicians to lye to their patients to keep up their fpirits, I am half doubtful whether my friend's behaviour is not as excuseable. His manner is to express himself surprized at the chearfulcountenance of a man whom he ol'serves diffident of himself; and generally by that means makes his lye a truth. He will, as if he did not know any thing of the circumstances, ask one whom he knows at variance with another, what is the meaning that Mr fucha-one, naming his adversary, does not applaud him with that heartiness which formerly he has heard him? He said indeed continues he, I would rather have that man for my -friend that any man in England; but for an enemy.-- This melts the person he talks to, who expected nothing but downright rallery from that fide. According as he fees bis practi*ces succeed, he goes to the opposite party, and tells him, he 'cannot imagine how it happens that some people know one another so little; you spoke with so much coldness of a gentleman who said more good of you, than let me tell you, any man living deserves. The success of one of these incidents was, that the next time that one of the adversaries fpied the other, he hems after him in the public street, and they must orack a bottle at the next tavern, that used 'to turn out of the other's way to avoid one-another's eyeshot. He will tell one beauty she was coininended by ano. ther, nay, he will say she gave the woman he speaks to, the preference in a particular for which she herself is adıni. red. The pleasantest confusion imaginable is made through the whole town by my friend's indirect offices; you shall have a visit returned after half a years abfence, and mutual
railing at each other every day of that time. They meet with a thousand lamentations for so long a separation, each party naming herself for the greater delinquent, if the other can possibly be so good as to forgive her, which she has po reason in the world, but from the knowledge of her goodness, to hope for. Very often a whole train of railers of each Gde tire their horses in setting matters right, which they have said during the war between the parties; and a whole circle of acquaintance are put into a thousand pleasing passions and sentiments, instead of the
anger, envy, detraction and malicé.
The worst evil I ever observed this inan's fallhood oé. casion, has been, that he turned detraction, into flattery. He is wel skilled in the manners of the world, and, by overlooking what men really are, he grounds his artifices upon what they have a mind to be. Upon this foundation, if two diftant friends are brought together, and the cement seems to be weak, he never rests till he finds new appearances to take off all remains of ill-will, and that by new misunderstandings they are thoroughly reconciled. TO THE
Devonshire, Nov. 14, 1911.
ago one of your gay gentlernen of the town, who, • being attended at his entry with a fervant of his own, • besides a countryman he had taken up for a guide, ex
cited the curiosity of the village to learn whence and what o he
be might be. The countryman (to whom they applied as most easy of access) knew little more than that the
gentleman came from London to travel and see fashions, • and was, as he heard say, a free-thinker : what religion " that might be, he could not tells and for his own part, • if they had not told him the man was a free thinker, he • should have guessed, by his way of talking, he was lite
tle better than a heathen ; excepting only that he had • been a good gentleman to him, and made him drunk
twice in one day, over and above what they had bar. gained for.
* I do not look upon the simplicity of this, and several
odd inquiries with which I shall trouble you, to be won• dered at, much less can I think that our youths of fine VOL. III.
' wit, and enlarged understandings, have any reason to “ laugh. There is no necessity that every squire in Great « Britain should know what the word free-thinker stands • for ; but it were much to be wished, that they who va.. lue themselves upon that conceited title were a little bet. « ter instructed what it ought to stand for; and that they 6 would not persuade themselves a man is really and truly a < free-thinker in any tolerable sense, merely by virtue of his ' being an Atheist, or an infidel of any other distinction. (lt
niay be doubted with good reason, whether there ever was in nature a more abject, Navith, and bigotted geneoration than the tribe of Beaux Esprits, at present fo pre
vailing in this island. Their pretention to be free-thinkers, • is no other than rakes have to be free-livers, and savages
to be free-men ; that is, they can think whatever they • have a mind to, and give themselves up to whatever con• ceit the extravagancy of their inclination, or their fancy, ' shall suggest; they can think as wildly as they talk and " act, and will not endure that their wit should be controul.. Ted by such formal things as decency and common sense : • deduction, coherence, consistency, and all the rules of
reason they accordingly disdain, as too precise and me(chanical for inen of a liberal education.
• This, as far as I could ever learn from their writings,
or my own observation, is a true account of a Britifh 6 free-thinker. Our visitant here, who
occasion to o this paper, has brought with him a new system of com
mon sense, the particulars of which I am not yet ac
quainted with, but will lose no opportunity of informing • myself whether it contain any thing worth Mr SPECTAa Tor's notice. In the mean tiine, Sir, I cannot but
think it would be for the good of mankind, if you would
take this subject into your own consideration, and con« vince the hopeful youth of our nation, that licentious:
ness is not freedom; or, if luch a paradox will not be
understood, that a prejudice towards Atheisin is not im< partiality,
I am, SIR,
HERE is nothing which lies more within the pro
vince of a Spectator than public shows and diverfions; and as, among these, there are none which can pretend to vie with those elegant entertainments that are exhibited in our theatres, I think it particularly incumbent on me, to take notice of every thing that is remarkable in fach numerous and refined affemblies.
It is observed, that of late years there has been a certain person in the upper gallery of the play-house, who, when he is pleased with any thing that is aểed upon the ftage, expresses his approbation by a loud knock upon the benches or the wainscot, which may be heard over the whole theatre. This person is commonly known by the name of trunk-maker in the upper-gallery. Whether it be, that the blow he gives on these occasions resembles that which is often heard in the shops of such artisans, or that he was supposed to have been a real trunk-inaker, who, after the finishing of his day's work, was used to unbend his mind at these public diversions with his hammer in his hand, I cannot certainly tell.. There are some, I know, who have been foolish enough to imagine it is a spirit which haunts the upper gallery, and from time to time makes thofe strange noises; and the rather because he is observed to be louder than ordinary every time that the ghost of Hamlet appears. Others have reported, that it is a dumb man, who has chosen this way of uttering himself when he is tranfported with any thing he sees or hears. Others will have it to be the play house thonderer, that exerts himself after this manner in the upper gallery, when he has nothing to do upon the roof X2