« ElőzőTovább »
tions fall into their very way of thinking, and this when he recounted passages wherein men of the best wit were concerned, as well as such wherein were represented men of the lowest rank of understanding. It is certainly as great an instance of self-love to a weakness, to be impatient of being mimicked, as any can be imagined. There were none but the vain, the formal, the proud, or those who were incapable of amending their faults, that dreaded him; to others he was in the highest degree pleasing ; and I do not know any satisfaction of any indifferent kind I ever tasted so much, as having got over an impatience of my seeing myself in the air he could put me when I have displeased him. It is indeed to his exquisite talent this way, more than any philosophy I could read on the subject, that my person is very little of my care, and it is indifferent to me what is said of my shape, my air, my manner, my speech, or my address. It is to poor Estcourt I chiefly owe that I am arrived at the happiness of thinking nothing a diminution to me, but what argues a depravity of my will.
It has as much surprised me as any thing in nature, to have it frequeutly said, that he was not a good player : but that must be owing to a partiality for former actors in the parts in which he succeeded them, and judging by comparison of what was liked before, rather than by the nature of the thing. When a man of his wit and smart.. ness could put on an utter absence of common sense in his face, as he did in the character of Bullfinch in the Northern Lass, and an air of insipid cunning and vivacity. in the cter of Pounce in the Tender Husband, it is folly to dispute his capacity and success, as he was an actor.
Poor Estcourt! let the vain and proud be at rest, thou wilt no more disturb their admiration of their dear selves; and thou art no longer to drudge in raising the mirth of stupids, who know nothing of thy merit, for thy maintenance.
It is natural for the generality of mankind to run into reflections upon our mortality, when disturbers of the world are laid at rest, but to take no notice when they who can please and divert are pulled from us.
But for my part, I cannot but think the loss of such talents, as the man of whom I ain speaking was master of, a more melancholy
instance of mortality than the dissolution of persons of never so high characters in the world, whose pretensions were that they were noisy and mischievous.
But I must grow more succinct, and, as a Spectator, give an account of this extraordinary man, who, in his way, never had an equal in any age before him, or in that wherein he lived. I speak of him as a companion, and a man qualified for conversation. His fortune exposed him to an obsequiousness towards the worst sort of company, but his excellent qualities rendered him capable of making the best figure in the most refined. I have been present with him among men of the most delicate taste a whole night, and have known him (for he saw it was desired) keep the discourse to himself the most part of it, and maintain his good-humour with a countenance, in language so delightful, without offence to any person or thing upon earth, still preserving the distance his circumstances obliged him to; I say, I have seen him do all this in such a charming manner, that I am sure none of those I hint at will read this without giving him some sorrow for their abundant mirth, and one gush of tears for so many bursts of laughter. I wish it were any honour to the pleasant creature's
my eyes are too much suffused to let me go on
The following severe passage in this number of the Spectator in folio, apparently levelled at Dr. Radcliffe, was suppressed in all the subsequent editions :
It is a felicity his friends may rejoice in, that he had his senses, and used them as he ought to do, in his last moments. It is remarkable that his judgment was in its calm perfection to the utmost article : for when his wife, out of her fondness, desired she might send for a certain illiterate humorist (whom he had accompanied in a thousand mirthful moments, and whose insolence makes fools think he assumes from conscious merit), he answered, “ Do what you please, but he will not come near me." Let poor Estcourt's negligence about this message convince the unwary of a triumphant empiric's ignorance and inhumanity.
N° 469. THURSDAY, AUGUST 28, 1712. Detrahere aliquid alteri, et hominem hominis incommodo suum augere
commodum, magis est contra naturam quàm mors, quàm paupertas, quàm dolor, quàm cætera quæ possunt aut corpori accidere, aut re
bus exterpis.-TULL. To detract any thing from another, and for one man to multiply his own
conveniences by the inconveniences of another, is more against nature than death, than poverty, than pain, and the other things which can befal the body, or external circumstances. AM persuaded there are few men, of generous prin
rather to have an opportunity in their hands of obliging their particular friends, or those whom they look upon as men of worth, than to procure wealth and honour for themselves. To an honest mind, the best perquisites of a place are the advantages it gives a man of doing good.
Those who are under the great officers of state, and are the instruments by which they act, have more frequent opportunities for the exercise of compassion and benevolence, than their superiors themselves. These men know every little case that is to come before the great man, and, if, they are possessed with honest minds, will consider
poverty as a recommendation in the person who applies himself to them, and make the justice of his cause the most powerful solicitor in his behalf. A man of this temper, when he is in a post of business, becomes a blessing to the public. He patronises the orphan and the widow, assists the friendless, and guides the ignorant. He does not reject the person's pretensions, who does not know how to explain them, or refuse doing a good office for a man because he cannot pay the fee of it. In short, though he regulates himself in all his proceedings by justice and equity, he finds a thousand occasions for all the good-natured offices of generosity and compassion.
A man is unfit for such a place of trust, who is of a sour untractable nature, or has any other passion that makes him uneasy to those who approach him. Roughness of temper is apt to discountenance the timorous or modest. The proud man discourages those from approaching him, who are of a mean condition, and who most want his assistance. The impatient man will not
give himself time to be informed of the matter that lies before him. An officer, with one or more of these unbecoming qualities, is sometimes looked upon as a proper person to keep off impertinence and solicitation from his superior; but this is a kind of merit, that can never atone for the injustice which may very often arise from it.
There are two other vicious qualities which render a man very unfit for such a place of trust. The first of these is a dilatory temper, which commits innumerable cruelties without design. The maxim which several have laid down for a man's conduct in ordinary life, should be inviolable with a man in office, never to think of doing that to-morrow which
may de done to-day. A man who defers doing what ought to be done, is guilty of injustice so long as he defers it. The dispatch of a good office is very often as beneficial to the solicitor as the
good office itself. In short, if a man compared the inconveniences which another suffers by his delays, with the trifling motives and advantages which he himself may reap by such a delay, he would never be guilty of a fault which very often does an irreparable prejudice to the person who depends upon him, and which might be remedied with little trouble to himself.
But in the last place there is no man so improper to be employed in business, as he who is in any degree capable of corruption; and such a one is the man who, upon any pretence whatsoever, receives more than what is the stated and unquestioned fee of his office. · Gratifications, tokens of thankfulness, dispatch-money, and the like specious terms, are the pretences under which corruption very frequenty shelters itself. An honest man will, however, look on all these methods as unjustifiable, and will enjoy himself better in a moderate fortune that is gained with honour and reputation, than in an overgrown estate that is cankered with the acquisitions of rapine and exaction. Were all our offices discharged with such an inflexible integrity, we should not see men in all ages, who grow up to exorbitant wealth, with the abilities
which are to be met with in an ordinary mechanic. I cannot but think: that such a corruption proceeds chiefly from men's employing the first that offer themselves, or those who have the character of shrewd worldly men, instead of searching out such as have had a liberal education, and have been trained up in the studies of knowledge and virtue. ,
It has been observed, that men of learning who take to business, discharge it generally with greater honesty than men of the world. The chief reason for it I take to be as follows: A man that has spent his youth in reading, has been used to find virtue extolled, and vice stigmatized. A man that has passed his time in the world, has often seen vice triumphant, and virtue discountenanced. Extortion, rapine, and injustice, which are branded with infamy in books, often give a man a figure in the world ; while several qualities, which are celebrated in authors, as generosity, ingenuity, and good-nature, impoverish and ruin him. This cannot but have a proportionable effect on men whose tempers and principles are equally good and vicious.
There would be at least this advantage in employing men of learning and parts in business; that their prosperity would sit more gracefully on them, and that we should not see many worthless persons
into the greatest figures of life.
N° 470. FRIDAY, AUGUST 29, 1712.
Turpe est difficiles habere nugas,
Turns trifles into things of consequence.
when upon examining the new edition of a classic author, I have found above half the volume taken up with various readings. When I have expected to meet with a learned note upon a doubtful passage in a Latin poet, I have only been informed, that such or such ancient manuscripts for an et write an ac, or of some other notable discovery of the like importance. Indeed, when a different reading gives us a different sense, or a new elegance in an author, the editor does very well in taking notice of it; but when he only entertains us with the several ways of spelling the same word, and gathers together the various blunders and mistakes of twenty or thirty different transcribers, they only take up the time of the learned reader, and puzzle the minds of the ignorant. I have often fancied with myself how enraged an old Latin author would be, should he see the several absurdities in sense and gram