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it has dropped, with all the gallantry of a lover. When they take the air together, Erastus is continually improving her thoughts, and, with a turn of wit and spirit which is peculiar to him, giving her an insight into things she had no notions of before. Lætitia is transported at having a new world thus opened to her, and hangs upon the man that gives her such agreeable informations. Erastus has carried this point still further, as he makes her daily not only more fond of him, but infinitely more satisfied with herself. Erastus finds a justness or beauty in whatever she says or observes, that Lætitia herself was not aware of, and by his assistance, she has discovered an hundred good qualities and accomplishments in herself, which she never before once dreamed of. Erastus, with the most artful complaisance in the world, by several remote hints, finds the means to make her say or propose almost whatever he has a mind to, which he always receives as her own discovery, and gives her all the reputation of it.
Erastus has a perfect taste in painting, and carried Lætitia with him the other day to see a collection of pictures. I sometimes visit this happy couple. As we were last week walking in the long gallery, before dinner, • I have lately laid out some money in paintings,' says Erastus ; « I bought that Venus and Adonis purely upon Lætitia's judgment; it cost me threescore guineas, and I was this morning offered a hundred for it.' I turned towards Lætitia, and saw her cheeks glow with pleasure, while at the same time she cast a look upon Erastus, the most tender and affectionate I ever beheld.
Flavilla married Tom Tawdry; she was taken with his laced coat and rich sword-knot; she has the mortification to see Tom despised by all the worthy part of his own sex. Tom has nothing to do after dinner, but to determine whether he will pare his nails at St. James's, White's, or his own house.
He has said nothing to Flavilla since they were married, which she might not have heard as well from her own woman. He however takes great care to keep up the saucy ill-natured authority of a husband. Whatever Flavilla happens to assert, Tom immediately contradicts, with an oath, by way of preface, and My dear, I must tell you, you talk most confoundedly silly.' Flavilla had a heart natu. rally as well disposed for all the tenderness of love as that of Lætitia ; but as love seldom continues long after esteem, it is difficult to determine at present, whether the unhappy Flavilla hates or despises the person most, whom she is obliged to lead her whole life with.
No. DVII. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11. .
Defendit numerus, junctæque umbone phalanges.
Preserved from shane by numbers on our side.
THERE is something very sublime, though very fanciful, in Plato's description of the Supreme Being, that “Truth is his body, and Light his shadow. According to this definition, there is nothing so contradictory to his nature, as error and falsehood. The Platonists have so just a notion of the Almighty's aversion to every thing that is false and erroneous, that they looked upon truth as no less necessary than virtue, to qualify a human soul for the enjoyment of a separate state. For this reason, as they recommended moral duties to qualify and season the will for a future life, so they prescribed several contemplations and sciences to rectify the understand,
ing. Thus Plato has called mathematical demon. strations the cathartics or purgatives of the soul, as being the most proper to cleanse it from error, and to give it a relish of truth; which is the natural food and nourishment of the understanding, as virtue is the perfection and happiness of the will.
There are many authors who have shewn wherein the malignity of a lie consists, and set forth, in proper colours, the heinousness of the offence. I shall here consider one particular kind of this crime, which has not been so much spoken to; I mean that abominable practice of party-lying. This vice is so very predominant among us at present, that a man is thought of no principles, who does not propagate a certain system of lies. The coffee-houses are supported by them, the press is choaked with them, eminent authors live upon them. Our bottle-conver. sation is so infected with them, that a party-lie is grown as fashionable an entertainment as a lively catch or a merry story; the truth of it is, half the great talkers in the nation would be struck dumb, were this fountain of discourse dried up. There is however one advantage resulting from this detestable practice; the very appearances of truth are so little regarded, that lies are at present discharged in the air, and begin to hurt nobody. When we hear a party-story from a stranger, we consider whether he is a whig or a tory that relates it, and immediately conclude they are words of course, in which the honest gentleman designs to recommend his zeal, without any concern for his veracity. A man is looked upon as bereft of common sense, that gives credit to the relations of party-writers; nay, his own friends shall shake their heads at him, and consider him in no other light than an officious tool, or a well-meaning idiot. When it was formerly the fashion to husband a lie, and trump it up in some extraordinary emergency, it generally did execution, and was not
a little serviceable to the faction that made use of its but at present every man is upon his guard, the artifice has been too often repeated to take effect.
I have frequently wondered to see men of probity, who would scorn to utter a falsehood for their own particular advantage, give so readily into a lie, when it is become the voice of their faction, notwithstanding they are thoroughly sensible of it as such. How is it possible for those who are men of honour in their persons, thus to become notorious liars in their party ?. If we look into the bottom of this matter, we may find, I think, three reasons for it, and at the same time discover the insufficiency of these reasons to justify so criminal a. practice.
In the first place, men are apt to think that the guilt of a lie, and consequently the punishment, may be very much diminished, if not wholly worn out, by the multitudes of those who partake in it. Though the weight of a falsehood would be too heavy for one to bear, it grows light in their imaginations, when it is shared among many. But in this case a man very much deceives himself; guilt, when it spreads through numbers, is not so properly divided as multiplied : every one is criminal in proportion to the offence which he commits, not to the number of those who are his companions in it. Both the crime and the penalty lie as heavy upon every indi. vidual of an offending multitude, as they would upon any single person, had none shared with him in the offence. In a word, the division of guilt is like to: that of matter; though it may be separated into infinite portions, every portion shall have the whole essence of matter in it, and consist of as many parts as the whole did before it was divided.
But in the second place, though multitudes, who join in a lie, cannot exempt themselves from the guilt, they may from the shame of it. The scandal of a lie is in a manner lost and annihilated, when
diffused among several thousands; as a drop of the blackest tincture wears away and vanishes, when mixed and confused in a considerable body of water; the blot is still in it, but is not able to discover itself. This is certainly a very great motive to several party offenders, who avoid crimes, not as they are prejudicial to their virtue, but to their reputation. It is enough to shew the weakness of this reason, which palliates guilt without removing it, that every man who is influenced by it declares himself in effect an infamous hypocrite, prefers the appearance of virtue to its reality, and is determined in his conduct neither by the dictates of his own conscience, the suggestions of true honour, nor the principles of religion.
The third and last great motive for men's joining in a popular falsehood, or, as I have hitherto called it, a party-lie, notwithstanding they are convinced of it as such, is the doing good to a cause which every party may be supposed to look upon as the most meritorious. The unsoundness of this principle has been so often exposed, and is so universally acknowledged, that a man must be an utter stranger to the principles, either of natural religion or Christianity, who suffers himself to be guided by it. If a man might promote the supposed good of his country by the blackest calumnies and falsehoods, our nation abounds more in patriots than any other of the Christian world. When Pompey was desired not to set sail in a tempest that would hazard his life, • It is necessary for me,' says he, "to sail, but it is not necessary for me to live :' every man should say to himself, with the same spirit, . It is my duty to speak truth, though it is not my duty to be in an office.' One of the fathers hath carried this point so high, as to declare, He would not tell a lie, though he were sure to gain heaven by it. However extravagant such a protestation may appear, every one will