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With charm of earliest birds, nor rising sun On this delightful land, nor herb, fruit, flower, Gist ring with dew, nor fragrance after showers, Nor grateful evening mild, nor silent night, With this her solemn bird, nor walk by moon, Or glittering starlight, without thee is sweet. The variety of images in this passage is infinitely pleasing, and the recapitulation of each particular image, with a little varying of the expression, makes one of the finest turns of words that I have ever seen ; which I rather mention, because Mr. Dryden has said, in his preface to Juvenal, that he could meet with no turn of words in Milton. It may be further observed, that though the sweetness of these verses has something in it of a pastoral, yet it excels the ordinary kind, as much as the scene of it is above an ordinary field or meadow. I might here, since I am accidentally led into this subject, show several passages in Milton that have as excellent turns of this nature as any of our English poets whatsoever; but shall only mention that which follows, in which he describes the fallen angels engaged in the intricate disputes of predestination, free-will, and foreknowledge; and, to humour the perplexity, makes a kind of labyrinth in the very words that describe it. Others apart sat on a hill retir’d, In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high Of Providence, fore-knowledge, will, and fate,
Fix'd fate, free-will, fore-knowledge absolute,
[Tatler, No. 1 14.
THE vigilance, the anxiety, the tenderness, which I have for the good people of England, I am persuaded, will in time be much commended; but I doubt whether they will be ever rewarded. However, I must go on cheerfully in my work of reformation: that being my great design, I am studious to prevent my labours increasing upon me; therefore am particularly observant of the temper and inclinations of childhood and youth, that we may not give vice and folly supplies from the growing generation. It is hardly to be imagined how useful this study is, and what great evils or benefits arise from putting us in our tender years to what we are fit and unfit : therefore, on Tuesday last (with a design to sound their inclinations) I took three lads, who are under my guardianship, a-rambling in a hackney-coach, to show them the town ; as the lions, the tombs, Bedlam, and the other places which are entertainments to raw minds, because they strike forcibly on the fancy. The boys are brothers, one of sixteen, the other of fourteen, the other of twelve. The first was his father's darling, the second his mother’s, and the third mine, who am their uncle. Mr. William is a lad of true genius; but, being at the upper end of F
a great school, and having all the boys below him, his arrogance is insupportable. If I begin to show a little of my Latin, he immediately interrupts : “Uncle, under favour, that which you say, is not understood in that manner.’ ‘Brother,’ says my boy Jack, “you do not show your manners much in contradicting my Uncle Isaac l’ ‘You queer cur,’ says Mr. William, “do you think my uncle takes any notice of such a dull rogue as you are P’ Mr. William goes on, ‘He is the most stupid of all my mother's children: he knows nothing of his book: when he should mind that, he is hiding or hoarding his taws and marbles, or laying up farthings. His way of thinking is, four-and-twenty farthings make sixpence, and two sixpences a shilling ; two shillings and sixpence half a crown, and two halfcrowns five shillings. So within these two months the close hunks has scraped up twenty shillings, and we will make him spend it all before he comes home.” Jack immediately claps his hands into both pockets, and turns as pale as ashes. There is nothing touches a parent (and such I am to Jack) so nearly as a provident conduct. This lad has in him the true temper for a good husband, a kind father, and an honest executor. All the great people you see make considerable figures on the exchange, in court, and sometimes in senates, are such as in reality have no greater faculty than what may be called human instinct, which is a natural tendency to their own preservation and that of their friends, without being capable of striking out the road for adventurers. There is Sir William Scrip was of this sort of capacity from his childhood; he has bought the country round him, and makes a bargain better than Sir Harry Wildfire, with MR. BICKERSTAFF HAS A DAY witH HIs NEPHEws 67
all his wit and humour. Sir Harry never wants money but he comes to Scrip, laughs at him half an hour, and then gives bond for the other thousand. The close men are incapable of placing merit anywhere but in their pence, and therefore gain it; while others, who have larger capacities, are diverted from the pursuit by enjoyments which can be supported only by that cash which they despise ; and, therefore, are in the end slaves to their inferiors both in fortune and understanding. I once heard a man of excellent sense observe, that more affairs in the world failed by being in the hands of men of too large capacities for their business, than by being in the conduct of such as wanted abilities to execute them. Jack, therefore, being of a plodding make, shall be a citizen : and I design him to be the refuge of the family in their distress, as well as their jest in prosperity. His brother Will shall go to Oxford with all speed, where, if he does not arrive at being a man of sense, he will soon be informed wherein he is a coxcomb. There is in that place such a true spirit of raillery and humour, that if they cannot make you a wise man, they will certainly let you know you are a fool; which is all my cousin wants, to cease to be so. Thus, having taken these two out of the way, I have leisure to look at my third lad. I observe in the young rogue a natural subtlety of mind, which discovers itself rather in forbearing to declare his thoughts on any occasion, than in any visible way of exerting himself in discourse. For which reason I will place him, where, if he commits no faults, he may go farther than those in other stations, though they excel in virtues. The boy is well-fashioned, and will easily fall into a graceful
manner; wherefore, I have a design to make him a page to a great lady of my acquaintance ; by which means he will be well skilled in the common modes of life, and make a greater progress in the world by that knowledge, than with the greatest qualities without it. A good mien in a court, will carry a man greater lengths than a good understanding in any other place. We see a world of pains taken, and the best years of life spent in collecting a set of thoughts in a college for the conduct of life, and, after all, the man so qualified shall hesitate in a speech to a good suit of clothes, and want common sense before an agreeable woman. Hence it is, that wisdom, valour, justice, and learning, cannot keep a man in countenance that is possessed with these excellencies, if he wants that inferior art of life and behaviour, called good-breeding. A man endowed with great perfections, without this, is like one who has his pockets full of gold, but always wants change for his ordinary occasions.
Will Courtly is a living instance of this truth, and has had the same education which I am giving my nephew. He never spoke a thing but what was said before, and yet can converse with the wittiest men without being ridiculous. Among the learned, he does not appear ignorant; nor with the wise, indiscreet. Living in conversation from his infancy, makes him nowhere at a loss; and a long familiarity with the persons of men, is, in a manner, of the same service to him, as if he knew their arts. As ceremony is the invention of wise men to keep fools at a distance, so good-breeding is an expedient to make fools and wise men equals.