« PreviousContinue »
when we judge of that sex, or whatever it is, you may observe a wonderful freedom in their utterance, and an easy flow of words, without being distracted (as we often are who read much) in the choice of dictions and phrases. My lady Courtly is an instance of this. She was talking the other day of dress, and did it with so excellent an air and gesture, that you would have sworn she had learned her action from our Demosthenes. Besides which, her words were so peculiarly well adapted to the matter she talked of, that though dress was a new thing to us men, she avoided the terms of art in it, and described an unaffected garb and manner, in so proper terms, that she came up to that of Horace's simplex munditiis ;' which whoever can translate in two words, has as much eloquence as lady Courtly. I took the liberty to tell her, that all she had said with so much good grace, was spoken in two words in Horace; but would not undertake to translate them :' upon which she smiled, and told me, she believed me a very great scholar ;' and I took my leave.
From my own Apartment, August 31. I have been just now reading the introduction to the history of Catiline, by Sallust, an author who is very much in my favour; but when I reflect upon his professing himself wholly disinterested, and at the same time see how industriously he has avoided saying any thing to the praise of Cicero, to whose vigilance the common-wealth owed its safety, it very much lessens my esteem for that writer ; and is one argument, among others, for laughing at all who pretend to be out of the interests of the world, and profess purely to act for the service of mankind, without the least regard to themselves. I do not deny but that the rewards are different ; some aim
at riches, others at honour, by their public services. However, they are all pursuing some end to themselves, though indeed those ends differ as much as right and wrong. The most graceful way then, I should think, would be to acknowledge, that you aim at serving yourselves : but at the same time make it appear, it is for the service of others that you have these opportunities.
Of all the disinterested professors I have ever heard of, I take the boatswain of Dampier's ship to be the most impudent, but the most excusable. You are to know that, in the wild searches that navigator was making, they happened to be out at sea, far distant from any shore, in want of all the necessaries of life ; insomuch that they began to look, not without hunger, on each other. The boatswain was a fat, healthy, fresh fellow, and attracted the eyes of the whole crew. In such an extreme necessity, all forms of superiority were laid aside : the captain and lieutenant were safe only by being carrion, and the unhappy boatswain in danger only by being worth eating. To be short, the company were unanimous, and the boatswain must be cut up. He saw their intention, and desired he might speak a few words before they proceeded; which being permitted, he delivered himself as follows:
• GENTLEMEN SAILORS,
• Far be it that I should speak it for any private interest of my own; but I take it that I should not die with a good conscience, if I did not confess to you, that I am not sound. I say, gentlemen, justice, and the testimony of a good conscience, as well as love of my country, to which I hope you will all return, oblige me to own, that black Kate at Deptford has made me very unsafe to eat ; and, I speak it with shame, I am afraid, gentlemen, I should poison you.
This speech had a good effect in the boatswain's favour; but the surgeon of the ship protested he had cured him very well, and offered to eat the first steak of him himself.
The boatswain replied like an orator, with a true notion of the people, and in hopes to gain time, that he was heartily glad if he could be for their service;' and thanked the surgeon for his information. However,' said he, I must inform you for your own good, that I have, ever since my cure, been very thirsty and dropsical ; therefore, I presume, it would be much better to tap me, and drink me off, than eat me at once, and have no man in the ship fit to be drunk. As he was going on with his harangue, a fresh gale arose, and gave the crew hopes of a better repast at the nearest shore, to which they arrived next morning. '
Most of the self-denials we meet with are of this sort ; therefore, I think he acts fairest who owns, he hopes at least to have brother's fare, without professing that he gives himself up with pleasure to be devoured for the preservation of his fellows.
St. James's Coffee-house, August 31. Letters from the Hague, of the sixth of September, N. S. say, that the governor of the citadel of Tournay having offered their Highnesses the Duke of Marlborough and the Prince of Savoy to surrender that place on the thirty-first of the last month, on terms which were not allowed them by those princes, hostilities were thereupon renewed ; but that on the third the place was surrendered with a seeming condition granted to the besieged above that of being prisoners of war: for they were forthwith to be conducted to Condé, but were to be exchanged for prisoners of the allies, and particularly those of Warneton were mentioned in the demand. Both armies having stretched towards Mons with the utmost diligence, that of the allies, though they passed the much more difficult road, arrived first before that town, which they have now actually invested; and the quarter-master-general was, at the time of dispatching these letters, marking the ground for the encampment of the covering army.
• To the booksellers, or others whom this advertise
ment may concern. . Mr. Omicron *, the unborn poet, gives notice, that he writes all treatises, as well in verse as prose, being a ninth son, and translates out of all languages without learning or study.
If any bookseller will treat for his pastoral on the siege and surrender of the citadel of Tournay, he must send in his proposals before the news of a capitulation for any other town.
The undertaker for either play-house may have an opera written by him; or if it shall suit their design, a satire upon operas; both ready for next winter.'
* Mr. Oldmixon was probably here ridiculed under the name of Mr. Omicron.
No 63. SATURDAY, SEPT. 3, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines--
nostri est farrago libelli.
Juv. Sat. i. 85, 86.
White's Chocolate-house, September 2.
Of the enjoyment of life with regard to others. I HAVE ever thought it the greatest diminution to the Roman glory imaginable, that in their institution of public triumphs, they led their enemies in chains when they were prisoners. It is to be allowed that doing all honour to the superiority of heroes above the rest of mankind must needs conduce to the glory and advantage of a nation ; but what shocks the imagination to reflect upon is, that a polite people should think it reasonable, that an unhappy man who was no way inferior to the victor but by the chance of war, should be held like a slave at the wheels of his chariot. Indeed, these other circumstances of a triumph, that it was not allowed in a civil war, lest one part should be in tears, while the other was making acclamations ; that it should not be granted, except such a number were slain in battle; that the general should be disgraced who made a false muster of his dead ; these, I say, had great and politic ends in their being established, and tended to the apparent benefit of the common-wealth. But this behaviour to the con