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kind or wise, to do you service, ought in return to have a proportionable place both in your affection and esteem; so that the courteous Umbra deserves the favour of all his acquaintance; for, though he never served them, he is ever willing to do it, and believes he does it.
As impotent kindness is to be returned with all our abilities to oblige; so impotent malice is to be treated with all our force to depress it. For this reason, Fly-blow (who is received in all the families in town, through the degeneracy and iniquity of their manners) is to be treated like a knave, though he is one of the weakest of fools : he has by rote, and at second-hand, all that can be said of any man of figure, wit, and virtue, in town. Name a man of worth, and this creature tells you the worst passage of his life. Speak of a beautiful woman, and this puppy will whisper the next man to him, though he has nothing to say of her. He is a fly that feeds on the sore part, and would have nothing to live on, if the whole body were in health. You may know him by the frequency of pronouncing the particle but ;' for which reason I never heard him spoke of with common charity, without using my but against him : for a friend of mine saying the other day, “Mrs. Distaff has wit, good-humour, virtue, and friendship; this oaf added, • But she is not handsome.'-Coxcomb! the gentleman was saying what I was, not what I was not.'
• Mrs. Distaff hath received the dialogue dated Monday evening, which she has sent forward to Mr. Bickerstaff at Maidenhead : and in the mean time gives her service to the parties.'
• N. B. It is to be noted, that when any part of this paper appears dull, there is a design in it.'
N° 39. SATURDAY, JULY 9, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines —
JUV. Sat. i. 85, 86.
BY ISAAC BICKERSTAFF, ESQUIRE.
Grecian Coffee-house, July 7. As I am called forth by the immense love I bear to my fellow-creatures, and the warm inclination I feel within me, to stem, as far as I can, the prevailing torrent of vice and ignorance; so I cannot more properly pursue that noble impulse, than by setting forth the excellence of virtue and knowledge in their native and beautiful colours. For this reason, I made my late excursion to Oxford, where those qualities appear in their highest lustre, and are the only pretences to honour and distinction. Superiority is there given in proportion to men's advancement in wisdom and learning; and that just rule of life is so universally received among those happy people, that you shall see an earl walk bare-headed to the son of the meanest artificer, in respect to seven years more worth and knowledge than the nobleman is possessed of. In other places they bow to men's fortunes, but here to their understandings. It is not to be expressed, how pleasing the order, the discipline, the regularity of their lives, is to a philosopher, who has, by many years experience in the world, learned to contemn every thing but what is revered in this mansion of select and well-taught spirits. The inagnificence of their palaces, the greatness of their revenues, the sweetness of their groves and retirements, seem equally adapted for the residence of princes and philosophers; and a faniliarity with objects of splendour, as well as places of recess, prepares the inhabitants with an equanimity for their future fortunes whether humble or illustrious. How was I pleased when I looked round at St. Mary's, and could, in the faces of the ingenuous youth, see ministers of state, chancellors, bishops, and judges. Here only is human life! Here only the life of man is that of a rational being! Here men understand and are employed in works worthy their noble nature. This transitory being passes away in an employment not unworthy a future state, the contemplation of the great decrees of providence. Each man lives as if he were to answer the questions made to Job, "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Who shut up the sea with doors, and said, Hitherto thou shalt come, and no farther ? Such speculations make life agreeable, and death welcome.
But, alas ! I was torn from this noble society by the business of this dirty mean world, and the cares of fortune: for I was obliged to be in London against the seventh day of the term, and accordingly governed myself by my Oxford almanack", and came last night ; but find, to my great astonishment, that this ignorant town began the term on the twenty-fourth of the last month, in opposition to all the learning and astronomy of the famous university of which I
"A humorous allusion to the difference between the university terms and the law terms. See N° 43,
have been speaking ; according to which, the term certainly was to commence on the first instant. You may be sure a man, who has turned his studies as I have, could not be mistaken in point of time ; for, knowing I was to come to town in term, I examined the passing moments very narrowly, and called an eminent astronomer to my assistance. Upon very strict observation we found, that the cold has been so severe this last winter (which is allowed to have a benumbing quality) that it retarded the earth in moving round from Christmas to this season full seven days and two seconds. My learned friend assured me further, that the earth had lately received a shogg from a comet that crossed its vortex, which, if it had come ten degrees nearer to us, had made us lose this whole term. I was indeed once of opinion that the Gregorian computation was the most regular, as being eleven days before the Julian; but am now fully convinced, that we ought to be seven days after the chancellor and judges, and eighteen before the pope of Rome; and that the Oxonian computation is the best of the three.
These are the reasons which I have gathered from philosophy and nature; to which I can add other circumstances in vindication of the account of this learned body who publish this almanack.
It is notorious to philosophers, that joy and grief can hasten and delay time. Mr. Locke is of opinion, that a man in great misery may so far lose his measure, as to think a minute an hour; or in joy make an hour a minute. Let us examine the present case by this rule, and we shall find, that the cause of this
? Probably Mr. W. Whiston. See Whiston's Memoirs, 2d edit. 2 vol. 8vo. 1753, p. 257, & seqq.
general mistake in the British nation, has been the great success of the last campaign, and the following hopes of peace. Stocks ran so high at the Exchange, that the citizens had gained three days of the courtiers; and we have indeed been so happy all this reign, that if the university did not rectify our mistakes, we should think ourselves but in the second year of her present majesty. It would be endless to enumerate the many damages that have happened by this ignorance of the vulgar. All the recognizances within the diocese of Oxford have been forfeited, for not appearing on the first day of this fictitious term. The university has been nonsuited in their action against the booksellers for printing Clarendon in quarto. Indeed, what gives me the most quick concern, is the case of a poor gentleman, iny friend, who was the other day taken in execution by a set of ignorant bailiffs. He should, it seems, have pleaded in the first week of term; but being a master of arts of Oxford, he would not recede from the Oxonian computation. He shewed Mr. Broad the almanack, and the very day when the term began; but the merciless, ignorant fellow, against all sense and learning, would hurry him away. He went indeed quietly enough; but he has taken exact notes of the time of arrest, and sufficient witnesses of his being carried into gaol; and has, by advice of the recorder of Oxford, brought his action; and we doubt not but we shall pay them off with damages, and blemish the reputation of Mr. Broad. We have one convincing proof, which all that frequent the courts of justice are witnesses of: the dog that comes constantly to Westminster on the first day of the term, did not appear until the first day according to the Oxford almanack; whose instinct I take to be a better guide than men's erroneous