« PreviousContinue »
quered had no foundation in nature or policy, only to gratify the insolence of a haughty people, who triumphed over barbarous nations, by acting what was fit only for those very barbarians to practise. It seems wonderful, that they who were so refined as to take care, that, to complete the honour done to the victorious officer, no power should be known above him in the empire on the day of his triumph, but that the consuls themselves should be but guests at his table that evening, could not take it into thought to make the man of chief note among his prisoners one of the company. This would have improved the gladness of the occasion; and the victor had made a much greater figure, in that no other man appeared unhappy on his day, than because no other man appeared great. . But we will wave at present such important incidents, and turn our thoughts rather to the familiar part of human life, and we shall find, that the great business we contend for is in a less degree what those Romans did on more solemn occasions, to triumph over our fellow-creatures ; and there is hardly a man to be found, who would not rather be in pain to appear happy, than be really happy and thought miserable. This men attempt by sumptuous equipages, splendid houses, numerous servants, and all the cares and pursuits of an ambitious or fashionable life.
Bromeo and Tabio are particularly ill-wishers to each other, and rivals in happiness. There is no way in nature so good to procure the esteem of the one, as to give him little notices of certain secret points wherein the other is uneasy. Gnatho has the skill of doing this, and never applauds the improvements Bromeo has been many years making, and ever will be making, but he adds, Now this very thing was my thought when Tabio was pulling
up his underwood, yet he never would hear of it; but now your gardens are in this posture, he is ready to hang himself. Well, to be sincere, that situation of his can never make an agreeable seat ; he may make his house and appurtenances what he pleases, but he cannot remove them to the same ground: where Bromeo's stands; and of all things under the sun, a man that is happy at second-hand is the most monstrous. It is a very strange madness,' answers Bromeo, if a man on these occasions can think of any end but pleasing himself. As for my part, if things are convenient, I hate all ostentation. There is no end of the folly of adapting our affairs to the imagination of others. Upon which, the next thing he does is to enlarge whatever he hears his rival has attempted to imitate him in ; but their misfortune is, that they are in their time of life, in their estates, and in their understandings, equal; so that the emulation may continue to the last day of their lives. As it stands now, Tabio has heard, that Bromeo has lately purchased two hundred a year in the annuities since he last settled the account of their happiness, in which he thought himself to have the balance. This may seem a very fantastical way of thinking in these 'men ; but there is nothing so common, as a man's endeavouring rather to go farther than some other person towards an easy fortune, than to form any certain standard that would make himself happy.
Will's Coffee-house, September 2. Mr. Dactyle has been this evening very profuse of his eloquence upon the talent of turning things into ridicule; and seemed to say very justly, that there was generally in it something too disingenuous for the society of liberal men, except it were governed by the circumstances of persons, time, and place.
your life : and truly I am afraid you never will, except you take great care to be cured of those convulsive fits. Truby left us, and when he had got two yards from us, Well,' said he, you are strange fellows !' and was immediately taken with another fit.
The Trubies are a well-natured family, whose particular make is such, that they have the same pleasure out of good-will, which other people have in that scorn which is the cause of laughter; therefore their bursting into the figures of men, when laughing, proceeds only from a general benevolence they are born with ; as the Slyboots smile only on the greatest occasion of mirth; which difference is caused rather from a different structure of their organs, than that one is less moved than the other. I know Sourly frets inwardly, when Will Truby laughs at him ; but when I meet him and he bursts out, I know it is out of his abundant joy to see me, which he expresses by that vociferation which is in others laughter. But I shall defer considering this subject at large, until I come to my treatise of oscitation, laughter and ridicule.
From my own Apartment, September 2. The following letter being a panegyrick upon me for a quality which every man may attain, an acknowledgment of his faults ; I thought it for the good of my fellow-writers to publish it.
It must be allowed, that Esquire Bickerstaff is of all authors the most ingenuous. There are few, very few, that will own themselves in a mistake, though all the world see them to be in downright nonsense. You will be pleased, sir, to pardon this expression, for the same reason for which you once desired us to excuse you, when you seemed any
thing dull. Most writers, like the generality of Paul Lorraine's Saints, seem to place a peculiar vanity in dying hard. But you, sir, to show a good example to your brethren, have not only confessed, but of your own accord mended the indictment. Nay, you have been so good-natured as to discover beauties in it, which, I will assure you, he that drew it never dreamed of. And, to make your civility the more accomplished, you have honoured him with the title of your kinsman, which, though derived by the left-hand, he is not a little proud of. My brother, for such Obadiah is, being at present very busy about nothing, has ordered me to return you his sincere thanks for all these favours; and as a small token of his gratitude, to communicate to you the following piece of intelligence, which, he thinks, belongs more properly to you, than to any others of our modern historians.
Madonella, who, as it was thought, had long since taken her fight towards the etherial mansions, still walks, it seems, in the regions of mortality; where she has found, by deep reflections on the revolution mentioned in yours of June the twentythird, that where early instructions have been wanting to imprint true ideas of things on the tender souls of those of her sex, they are never after able to arrive at such a pitch of perfection, as to be above the laws of matter and motion ; laws which are considerably enforced by the principles usually imbibed in nurseries and boarding-schools. To remedy this evil, she has laid the scheme of a college for young damsels, where (instead of scissors, needles, and samplers) pens, compasses, quadrants, books, manuscripts, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, are to take up their whole time. Only on holidays the students will, for moderate exercise, be allowed to divert themselves with the use of some of the