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is, in a kind, being angry with you. You may as well stand naked before company, as to use such familiarities; and to be careless of what you say is the most clownish way of being undressed.
Sheer-lane, May 24. When I came home this evening, I found the following letters; and because I think one a very good answer to the other, as well as that it is the affair of a young lady, it must be immediately dismissed.
“ I have a good fortune, partly paternal, and partly acquired. My younger years I spent in business; but, age coming on, and having no more children thao one daughter, I resolved to be a slave no longer; and accordingly, I bave disposed of my effects, placed my money in the funds, bought a pretty seat in a pleasant country, am making a garden, and have set up a pack of little beagles. I live in the midst of a good many well-bred neighbours, and several well-tempered clergymen. Against a rainy day, I have a little library; and against the gout in my stomach, a little good claret. With all this I am the miserablest man in the world; not that I have lost the relish of any of these pleasures, but am distracted with such a multiplicity of entertaiping objects, that I am lost in the variety. I am in such a hurry of idleness, that I do not know with what diversion to begin. Therefore, Sir, I must beg the favour of you, when your more weighty affairs will permit, to put me in some method of doing nothing; for I find Pliny makes a great difference between nihil
agere nihil ; and I fancy, if you would explain bim, you would do a very great kindness to many in Great Britain, as well as to your humble servant,
“ J. B."
• The enclosed is written by my father in one of his pleasant humours. He bids me seal it up,
and send you a word or two from myself; which he would not desire to see until he bears of it from you. Desire him, before he begins his method of doing nothing, to leave nothing to do; that is to say, let him marry off his daughter. "I am your gentle reader,
N° 177. SATURDAY, MAY 27, 1710,
Male si palpere, recalcitrat undique tutus.
Hor. I Sat. ii. 20.
He spurns the flatterer, and his saucy praise.
Sheer-lane, May 26. The ingenious Mr. Penkethman, the comedian, has lately left here a paper or ticket, to which is affixed a small silver medal, which is to entitle the bearer to see one-and-twenty plays at his theatre for a guipea. Greenwich is the place where, it seems, he has erected his house; and his time of action is to be so contrived, that it is to fall in with going and return
ing with the tide. Besides that, the bearer of this ticket may carry down with bim a particular set of company to the play, striking off for each person so introduced one of bis twenty-one times of admittance. In this warrant of his, he has made me a high compliment in a facetious distich, by way of dedication of his endeavours, and desires I would recommend them to the world. I must needs say, I have not for some time seen a properer choice than he has made of a patron. Who more fit to publish his work than a Novelist? who to recommend it than a Censor ? This honour done me, has made me turn my thoughts upon the nature of dedications in general, and the abuse of that custom, as well by a long practice of my predecessors, as the continued folly of my contemporary authors.
In ancient times, it was the custom to address their works to some persons eminent for their merit to mankind, or particular patronage of the writers themselves, or knowledge in the matter of which they treated: Under these regards, it was a memorable honour to both parties, and a very agreeable record of their commerce with each other. These applications were never stuffed with impertinent praises, but were the native product of their esteem; which was implicitly received or generally known to be due to the patron of the work: but vain flourishes came in
the world, with other barbarous enje bellishments; and the enumeration of titles and great actions, in the patrons themselves, or their sires, are as foreign to the matter in hand, as the ornaments are in a Gothic building. This is clapping together persons which have no manner of alliance; and can for that reason have no other effect than making both parties justly ridiculous. What pretence is there in nature for me to write to a great man, and tell him, “My lord, because your grace is a duke, your grace's father before you was an earl, his lordship's father was a baron, and his lordship's father both a wise and a rich man: I Isaac Bickerstaff am obliged, and could not possibly forbear addressing to you the following treatise." Though tbis is the plain exposition of all I could possibly say to him with a good conscience, yet the silly custom has so universally prevailed, tbat my lord duke and I must necessarily be particular friends from this time forward; or else I have just room for being disobliged, and may turn my panegyric into a libel. But to carry this affair still more home; were it granted that praises in dedications were proper topics, wbat is it that gives a man authority to commend, or what makes it a favour to me that he does commend me? It is certain, that there is no praise valuable but from the praise-worthy. Were it otherwise, blame might be as much in the same bands. Were the good and evil of fame laid upon a level among man. kind, the judge on the bench, and the criminal at the bar, would differ only in their stations; and if one's word is to pass as much as the other's, their reputation would be much alike to the jury. Pliny, speaking of the death of Martial, expresses himself with great gratitude to him, for the honours done him in the writings of that author; but he begins it with an account of his character, which only made the applause valuable. He indeed in the same epistle says, * It is
a sign we have left off doing things which deserve praise, when we think commendation impertinent.” This is asserted with a just regard to the persons whose good opinion we wish for; otherwise reputation would be valued according to the number of voices a man has for it, which are not always to be insured on the more virtuous side. But however we pretend to model these nice affairs, true glory will never attend any thing but truth; and there is something so peculiar in it, that the very self-same action, done by different men, cannot merit the same degree of applause. The Roman, who was surprised in the enemy's camp before he had accomplished his design, and thrust bis bare arm into a flaming pile, telling the general, there were many as determined as himself, who, against sense of danger, bad conspired his death, wrought in the very enemy an admiration of bis fortitude, and a dismission with applause. But the condemned slave who represented him in the theatre, and consumed bis arm in the same manner, with the same resolution, did not raise in the spectators a great idea of his virtue, but of bim whom he imitated in an action no way differing from that of the real Scævola, but in the motive to it.
Thus true glory is inseparable from true merit; and whatever you call men, they are
no more than what they are in themselves; but a romantic sense has crept into the minds of the generality, who will ever mistake words and
The simplicity of the ancients was as conspicuous in the address of their writings, as
other monuments they have left behind them. Cæsar and Augustus were much more high words of respect, when added to occasions fit for their characters to appear in, than any appellations which have ever been since thought of. The latter of these great men had a very pleasant way of dealing with applications of this kind. When he received pieces of poetry which he thought bad worth in them, he rewarded the writer; but where he thought them empty, he generally returned the compliment made bion with some verses of his own.
This latter method I have at present occasion to imitate. A female author has dedicated a piece to