Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

Mr. Dryden's miscellanies, I shall here give no farther account of it. When he had done, the whole assembly, declared the works of this great poet a subject rather for their admiration than for their applause, and that if any thing was wanting in Virgil's poetry, it was to be ascribed to a deficiency in the art itself, and not in the genius of this great man. There were, however, some envious murmurs and detractions heard among the crowd, as if there were very frequently verses in him which flagged, or wanted spirit, and were rather to be looked upon as faultless than beautiful. But these injudicious censures were heard with a general indignation.

I need not observe to my learned reader, that the foregoing story of the German and Portuguese is almost the same, in every particular, with that of the two rival soldiers in Cæsar's Commentaries. This Prolusion ends with the performance of an Italian poet, full of those little witticisms and conceits which have infected the greatest part of modern poetry.

No. 123. SATURDAY, AUGUST 1.

Hic murus aheneus esto
Nil conscire sibi

Hor.

Tuere are a sort of knight-errants in the world, who, quite contrary to those in romance, are perpetually seeking adventures to bring virgins into distress, and to ruin innocence. When men of rank and figure pass away their lives in these criminal pursuits and practices, they ought to consider that they render themselves more vile and despicable than any innocent mån cạn be, whatever low station his fortune or birth have placed him in. Title and ancestry. render a good man more illustrious, but an ill one more contemptible.

Thy father's merit sets thee up to view,
And plants thee in the fairest point of light,

To make thy virtues or thy faults conspicuous. Cato. I have often wondered that these deflowerers of innocence, though dead to all the sentiments of virtue and honour, are not restrained by compassion and humanity. To bring sorrow, confusion, and infamy into a family, to wound the heart of a tender parent, and stain the life of a poor, deluded young woman with a dishonour that can never be wiped off, are circumstances, one would think, sufficient to check the most violent passion in a heart that has the least tincture of pity' and good-nature. Would any one purchase the gratification of a moment at so dear a rate, and entail a lasting misery on others, for such a transient satisfaction to himself? Nay, for a satisfaction that is sure, at some time or other, to be followed with remorse? I am led to this subject by two letters which came lately to my hands. The last of them is, it seems, the copy of one sent by a mother to one who had abused her daughter; and though I cannot justify her sentiments, at the latter end of it, they are such as might arise in' a mind which had not yet recovered its temper after so great a' provocation. I present the reader with it as I received it, because I think it gives a lively idea of the affliction which a fond parent suffers on such an occasion.

SIR,

-shire, July, 1713. "" The other day I went into the house of one of my tenants, whose wife was formerly a servant in our family, and, by my grandmother's kindness, had her education with my mother from her infancy'; so that she is of a spirit and understanding greatly superior to those of her own rank. I found the poor woman in the utmost disorder of mind and attire, drowned in tears, and reduced to a condition that looked rather like stupidity than grief. She leaned upon her arm over a table, upon which lay a letter folded up and directed to a certain nobleman, very famous in our parts for low intrigue, or (in plainer words) for debauching country girls; in which number is the unfortunate daughter of my poor tenant, as I learn from the following letter written by her mother. I have sent you here a copy of it, which, made public in your paper, may perhaps furnish useful reflections to many men of figure and quality, who indulge themselves in a passion which they possess but in common with the vilest part of mankind.

MY LORD, “ Last night I discovered the injury you have done to my daughter. Heaven knows how long and piereing a torment that short-lived, shameful pleasure of yours must bring upon me; upon me, from whom you never received any offence. This consideration alone should have deterred a noble mind from so base and ungenerous an act. But, alas! what is all the grief that must be my share, in comparison of that with which you have requited her by whom you have been obliged? Loss of good name, anguish of heart, shame and infamy, are what must inevitably fall upon her, unless she gets over them by what is much worse, open impudence, professed lewdness, and abandoned prostitution. These are the returns you have made to her, for putting in your power all her livelihood and dependence, her virtue and reputation. O, my Lord, should my son have practised the like on one of your daughters!I know you swell with indignation at the very mention of it, and would think he deserved a thousand deaths, should he make such an attempt upon the honour of your family. It is well, my Lord. And is then the honour of your daughter, whom still, though it had been violated, you might have maintained in plenty, and even luxury, of greater moment to her than to my daughter's, whose only sustenance it was? and must my son, void of all the advantages of a generous education, must, he, I say, consider: and may your Lordship be excused from all reflection ? Eternal contumely attend that guilty title which claims exemption from thought, and arrogates to its wearers the prerogative of brutes. Ever cursed be its false lustre, which could dazzle my poor daughter to her undoing. Was it for this that the exalted merits and godlike virtues of your great ancestor were honoured with a coronet, that it might be a pander to his posterity, and confer a privilege of dishonouring the innocent and defenceless?'. At this rate the laws of rewards should be inverted, and he who is generous and good should be made a beggan and a slave; that industry and honest diligence may keep his posterity, unspotted, and preserve them from ruining virgins, and making whole families unhappy. Wretchedness is now become my everlasting portion! Your crime, my Lord, will draw perdition even: upon my head. I may not sue for forgiveness of my own failings and misdeeds,, for I never can forgive yours; but shall curse you with my dying breath, and at the last tremendous day shall hold forth in my arms my much-wronged child, and call aloud for vengeance on her defiler. Under these present horrors of mind. I could be content to be your chief tormentor, ever paying you mock reverence, and sounding in your ears to your unutterable loathing, the empty title which inspired you with presumption: to tempt, and overawed my daughter to comply.

“ Thus have I given şome vent to my sorrow, nor fear I to awaken you to nepentance, so that your sin may be forgiven: the dinine laws have been broken, but much injury, irneparable injury, has been also done to me, and the just judge will not pardon that until I do

MY LORD,

[ocr errors]

"Your conscience will help you to my name.

No. 124. MONDAY, AUGUST 3.

Quid fremat in terris violentius ?

Juv.

More Roarings of the Lion. “MR. GUARDIAN, BEFORE I proceed to make you my proposals, it will be necessary to inform you, that an uncommon ferocity in my countenance, together with the remarkable flatness of my nose, and extent of my mouth, have long since procured me the name of Lion in this our university

“ The vast emolument that, in all probability, will accrue to the public from the roarings of my news' erected likeness at Button's, hath made me desirous of being as like him in that part of his character, as I am told I already am in all parts of my person. Wherefore I most humbly propose to you, that (as it is impossible for this one lion to roar, either long enough or loud enough against all the things that are roarworthy in these realms) you would appoint him a sublion, as a Præfectus Provinciæ, in every county in Great Britain; and it is my request, that I may be instituted his under-roarer in this university, town, and county of Cambridge, as my resemblance does, in some measure, claim that I should.

“I shall follow my metropolitan's example, in roaring only against those enormities that are too slight and trivial for the notice or censures of our magistrates, and shall communicate my roarings to him monthly, or oftener, if occasion requires, to be inserted in your papers cum privilegio,

“I shall not omit giving informations of the improvement or decay of punning, and may chance to touch upon the rise and fall of tuckers; but I will roar aloud and spare not, to the terror of, at present, a very flourishing society of people, called Loungers,

« ForrigeFortsæt »