Page images

There is nothing so frequent as this way of application for offices. It is not that you are fit for the place, but because the place would be convenient for you, that you claim a merit to it. But commend me to the great Kirleus, who has lately set up for midwifery, and to help child-birth, for no other reason, but that he is himself the “Unborn Doctor.' The way is, to hit upon something that puts the vulgar upon the stare, or touches their compassion, which is often the weakest part about us I know a good lady, who has taken her daughters from their old dancing-master, to place them with another, for no other reason, but because the new man has broke his leg, which is so ill set, that he can never dance more.

From my own Apartment, July 13. As it is a frequent mortification to me to receive letters, wherein people tell me, without a name, they know I meant them in such and such a passage; so that very accusation is an argument, that there are such beings in human life, as fall under our description, and that our discourse is not altogether fantastical and groundless. But in this case I am treated as I saw a boy was the other day, who gave out pocky bills: every plain fellow took it that passed by, and went on his way without further notice: and at last came one with his nose a little abridged; who knocks the lad down, with a - Why, you son of a

w e , do you think I am p-d?' But Shakspeare has made the best apology for this way of talking against the public errors : he makes Jacques, in the play called “As you like it,' express himself thus :

• Why, who cries out on pride,
That can therein tax any private party?
What woman in the city do I name,

When that I say, the city woman bears
The cost of princes on unworthy shoulders ?
Who can come in and say that I mean her,
When such a one as sbe, such is her neighbour?
Or, what is he of basest function,
That says his bravery is not on my cost?
Thinking that I mean him, but therein suits
His folly to the mettle of my speech.
There then! How then? Then let me see wherein
My tongue hath wrong'd him : if it do bim right,
Then he bath wrong'd bimself: if he be free,
Why then my taxing like a wild goose flies,
Unclaim'd of any man.'

N° 42. SATURDAY, JULY 16, 1709.

[merged small][ocr errors]

From my own Apartment, July 15. Looking over some old papers, I found a little treatise, written by my great-grandfather, concerning bribery, and thought his manner of treating that subject not unworthy my remark. He there has a digression concerning a possibility, that in some circumstances a man may receive an injury, and yet be conscious to himself that he deserves it. There are abundance of fine things said on the subject; but the whole wrapped up in so much jingle and pun, which was the wit of those times, that it is scarce intelligible ; but I thought the design was well enough in the following sketch of an old gentleman's poetry : for in this case, where two are rivals for the same thing, and propose to obtain it by presents, he that attempts the judge's honesty, by making him offers of reward, ought not to complain when he loses his cause by a better bidder. The good old doggrel runs thus :

• A poor man once a judge besought

To judge aright his cause,
And with a pot of oil salutes

This judger of the laws.
“ My friend,” quoth he, “thy cause is good :"

He glad away did trudge ;
Anon his wealthy foe did come

Before this partial judge.
• A hog well fed this churl presents,

And craves a strain of law;
The bog received, the poor man's right

Was judg’d not worth a straw.
« Therewith he cry'd, “O! partial judge,

Thy doom has me undone :
When oil I gave, my cause was good,

But now to ruin run."
“ Poor man," quoth he, “I thee forgot,

And see thy cause of foil :
A hog came since into my house,

And broke thy pot of oil*."

Wills Coffee-house, July 15. The discourse happened this evening to fall upon characters drawn in plays; and a gentleman remarked, that there was no method in the world of knowing the taste of an age, or period of time, so good, as by the observations of the persons represented in their comedies. There were several in

[ocr errors]

stances produced, as Ben Jonson's bringing in a fellow smoking, as a piece of foppery; but,' said the gentleman who entertained us on this subject, this matter is no where so observable as in the difference of the characters of women on the stage in the last age, and in this. It is not to be supposed that it was a poverty of genius in Shakspeare, that his women made so small a figure in his dialogues; but it certainly is, that he drew women as they then were in life; for that sex had not in those days that freedom in conversation; and their characters were only, that they were mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives. There were not then among the ladies, shining wits, and politicians, virtuose, free-thinkers, and disputants; nay, there was then hardly such a creature even as a coquette : but vanity had quite another turn, and the most conspicuous woman at that time of day was only the best housewife. Were it possible to bring into life an assembly of matrons of that age, and introduce the learned lady Woodby into their company, they would not believe the same nation could produce a creature so unlike any thing they ever saw in it.

But these ancients would be as much astonished to see in the same age so illustrious a pattern to all who love things praise-worthy as the divine Aspasia *. Methinks, I now see her walking in her garden like our first parent, with unaffected charms, before beauty had spectators, and bearing celestial conscious virtue in her aspect. Her countenance is the lively picture of her mind, which is the seat of

* The character of Aspasia was written by Mr. Congreve ; and the person meant was Lady Elizabeth Hastings. See the authority for this, with an edifying account of this extraordinary lady, and her benefactions, in a book in folio, entitled, “ Memorials and Characters, &c." London, 1741, printed for John Wilford, p. 780.

honour, truth, compassion, knowledge, and innocence.

“There dwells the scorn of vice, and pity too." In the midst of the most ample fortune, and veneration of all that behold and know her, without the least affectation, she consults retirement, the contemplation of her own being, and that Supreme Power which bestowed it. Without the learning of schools, or knowledge of a long course of arguments, she goes on in a steady course of uninterrupted piety and virtue, and adds to the severity and privacy of the last age all the freedom and ease of this. The language and mien of a court she is possessed of in the highest degree; but the simplicity and humble thoughts of a cottage are her more welcome entertainments. Aspasia is a female philosopher, who does not only live up to the resignation of the most retired lives of the ancient sages, but also to the schemes and plans which they thought beautiful, though inimitable. This lady is the most exact economist, without appearing busy ; the most strictly virtuous, without tasting the praise of it; and shuns applause with as much industry, as others do reproach. This character is so particular, that it will very easily be fixed on her only, by all that know her, but I dare say, she will be the last that finds it out.

• But, alas ! if we have one or two such ladies, how many dozens are there like the restless Poluglossa, who is acquainted with all the world but herself; who has the appearance of all, and possession of no one virtue: she has, indeed, in her practice the absence of vice, but her discourse is the continual history of it; and it is apparent, when she speaks of the criminal gratifications of others, that her innocence is only a restraint, with a certain

« PreviousContinue »