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knights-errant (who were the very pretty fellows of those antient times) thought they could not honourably yield, though they had fought their own trusty weapons to the stumps; but would venture as boldly with their page's leaden sword, as if it had been of enchanted metal. Whence, I conceive, there must be a spice of romantic gallantry in the composition of that very pretty fellow.
Sir Mark. I am of opinion, Mr. Sage, that fashion governs a very pretty fellow; nature or common sense, your ordinary persons, and sometimes men
of fine parts.
Mr. Sage. But what is the reason, that men of the most excellent sense and morals, in other points, associate their understandings with the very pretty fellows in that chimæra of a duel ?
Sir Mark. There is no disputing against so great a majority.
Mr. Sage. But there is no scruple, Colonel Plume, and I have done. Do not you believe there may be some advantage even upon a cloak with pistols, which a man of nice honour would scruple to take ?
Col. Plume. Faith, I cannot tell, Sir; but since one may reasonably suppose that, in such a case, there can be but one so far in the wrong as to occasion matters to come to that extremity, I think the chance of being killed should fall but on one ; whereas, by their close and desperute manner of fighting, it may very probably happen to both.
Sir Mark. Why, gentlemen, if they are men of such nice honour, and must fight, there will be no fear of foul play, if they threw up cross or pile who should be shot.
N° 40. TUESDAY, JULY 12, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines--
nostri est farrago libelli.
Juv. Sat. i. 85, 86.
P. Will's Coffee-house, July 11, LETTERS from the city of London give an account of a very great consternation that place is in at present, by reason of a late inquiry made at Guildhall, whether a noble person* has parts enough to deserve the enjoyment of a great estate of which he is possessed? The city is apprehensive, that this precedent may go farther than was at first imagined. The person against whom this inquisition is set up by his relations, is a peer of a neighbouring kingdom, and has in his youth made some few bulls, by which it is insinuated that he has forfeited his goods and chattels. This is the more astonishing, in that there are many persons in the said city who are still more guilty than his lordship, and who, though they are idiots, do not only possess, but have also themselves acquired great estates, contrary to the known laws of this realm, which vest their possessions in the crown.
There is a gentleman in the coffee-house, at this time, exhibiting a bill in chancery against his father's younger brother, who, by some strange magic, has arrived at the value of half a plum, as the citizens call an hundred thousand pounds; and in all the time of growing up to that wealth, was never known in any of his ordinary words or actions to
* Richard, the fifth viscount Wenman.
discover any proof of reason. Upon this foundation my
friend has set forth, that he is illegally master of his coffers, and has writ two epigrams to signify his own pretensions and sufficiency for spending that estate. He has inserted in his plea some things which I fear will give offence; for he pretends to argue, that though a man has a little of the knave mixed with the fool, he is nevertheless liable to the loss of goods; and makes the abuse of reason as just an avoidance of an estate as the total absence of it. This is what can never pass; but witty men are so full of themselves, that there is no persuading them; and my friend will not be convinced, but that upon quoting Solomon, who always used the word fool as a term of the same signification with unjust, and makes all deviation from goodness and virtue to come under the notion of folly: I he doubts not but by the force of this authority, let his idiot uncle appear never so great a knave, he shall prove
him fool at the same time. This affair led the company here into an examination of these points ; and none coming here but wits, what was asserted by a young lawyer, that a lunatic is in the care of the chancery, but a fool in that of the crown, was received with general indignation. Why that ?' says old Renault.
• Why that? Why must a fool be a courtier more than a madman? This is the iniquity of this dull age. I remember the time when it went on the mad side : all your top wits were scourers, rakes, roarers, and demolishers of windows. I knew a mad lord, who was drunk five years together, and was the envy of that age, who is faintly imitated by the dull pretenders to vice and madness in this. Had he lived to this day, there had not been a fool in fashion in the whole kingdom.' When Renault had done speaking, a very worthy man assumed the discourse: This is,' said he, Mr. Bickerstaff, a proper
to treat of in your article from this place; and if
your Pacolet into all our brains, you would find, that a little fibre or valve, scarce discernible, makes the distinction between a politician and an idiot. We should therefore, throw a veil upon those unhappy instances of human nature, who seem to breathe without the direction of reason and understanding, as we should avert our eyes with abhorrence from such as live in perpetual abuse and contradiction to those noble faculties. Shall this unfortunate man be divested of his estate, because he is tractable and indolent, runs in no man's debt, invades no man's bed, nor spends the estate he owes his children and his character; when one who shews no sense above him, but in such practices, shall be esteemed in his senses, and possibly may pretend to the guardianship of him who is no ways his inferior, but in being less wicked ? We
e see old age brings us indifferently into the same impotence of soul, wherein nature has placed this lord.'
There is something very fantastical in the distribution of civil power and capacity among men. The law certainly gives these persons into the ward and care of the crown, because that is best able to protect them from injuries, and the impositions of craft and knavery; that the life of an idiot may not ruin the entail of a noble house, and his weakness may not frustrate the industry or capacity of the founder of his family. But when one of bright parts, as we say, with his eyes open, and all men's eyes upon him, destroys those purposes, there is no remedy. Folly and ignorance are punished ! folly and guilt are tolerated! Mr. Locke has somewhere made a distinction between a madman and a fool : a fool is he that from right principles makes a wrong conclusion; but a madman is one who draws a just inference from false principles. Thus the fool who
cut off the fellow's head that lay asleep, and hid it, and then waited to see what he would say when he awaked and missed his head-piece, was in the right in the first thought, that a man would be surprised to find such an alteration in things since he fell asleep; but he was a little mistaken to imagine he could awake at all after his head was cut off. A madman fancies himself a prince; but upon his mistake, he acts suitable to that character; and though he is out in supposing he has principalities, while he drinks gruel, and lies in straw, yet you shall see him keep the port of a distressed monarch in all his words and actions. These two persons are equally taken into custody: but what must be done to half this good company, who every hour of their life are knowingly and wittingly both fools and madmen, and yet have capacities both of forming principles, and drawing conclusions, with the full use of reason ?
From my own Apartment, July 11. This evening some ladies came to visit my sister Jenny; and the discourse after very many frivolous and public matters, turned upon the main point among the women, the passion of love. Sappho, who always leads on this occasion, began to show her reading, and told us, that Sir John Suckling and Milton had, upon a parallel occasion, said the tenderest things she ever read. • The circumstance, -said she, “is such as gives us a notion of that protecting part, which is the duty of men in their honourable designs upon, or possession of women. In Suckling's tragedy of Brennoralt he makes the lover steal into his mistress's bedchamber, and draw the curtains; then, when his heart is full of her charms, as she lies sleeping, instead of being carried away by the violence of his desires into thoughts of a warmer nature, sleep, which is the image of