Billeder på siden

nest gentleman took him up short, “I would fain know what that gentleman means: is there any one in this house that has not had the honour to be born as well as himself?” The good sense which reigns in our nation has pretty well destroyed this starched behaviour among men who have seen the world, and know that every gentleman will be treated upon a foot of equality. But there are many, who have had their education among women, dependants, or flatterers, that lose all the respect which would otherwise be paid them, by being too assiduous in procuring it.

My Lord Froth has been so educated in punctilio, that he governs himself by a ceremonial in all the ordinary occurrences of life. He measures out his bow to the degree of the person he converses with. I have seen him in every inclination of the body, from a familiar nod to the low stoop in the salutation sign. I remember five of us, who were acquainted with one another, met together one morning at his lodgings, when a wag of the company was saying it would be worth while to observe how he would distinguish us at his first entrance. Accordingly, he no sooner came into the room, but casting his eye about, “My Lord such a one,” says he, “your most humble servant. Sir Richard, your humble servant.

Your servant, Mr. Ironside. Mr. Ducker, how do

Mr. Ducker, how do you do? Hah! Frank, are you there?”

There is nothing more easy than to discover a man whose heart is full of his family. Weak minds, that have imbibed a strong tincture of the nursery, younger brothers that have been brought up to nothing, superannuated retainers to a great house, have, generally, their thoughts taken up with little else.

I had some years ago an aunt of my own, by name Mrs. Martha Ironside, who would never marry beneath herself, and is supposed to have died a maid in the fourscorth year of her age. She was the chronicle of our family, and passed away the greatest part of the last forty years of her life in recounting the antiquity, marriages,

[ocr errors]

; exploits, and alliances of the Ironsides. Mrs. Martha

conversed generally with a knot of old virgins, who were likewise of good families, and had been very cruel all the beginning of the last century. They were every one of them as proud as Lucifer, but said their prayers twice a day, and in all other respects were the best women in the world. If they saw a fine petticoat at church, they immediately took to pieces the pedigree of her that wore it, and would lift


eyes to heaven at the confidence of the saucy minx, when they found she was an honest tradesman's daughter. It is impossible to describe the pious indignation that would rise in them at the sight of a man who lived plentifully on an estate of his own getting. They were transported with zeal beyond measure, if they heard of a young woman's matching into a great family, upon account only of her beauty, her merit, or her money, In short, there was not a female within ten miles of then, that was in possession of a gold watch, a pear! necklace, or a piece of Mechlin lace, but they examined her title to it. My aunt Martha used to chide me, very frequently, for not sufficiently valuing myself. She would not eat a bit all dinner time, if, at an invitation, she found she had been seated below herself; and would frown upon me for an hour together, if she saw me give place to any man under a baronet. As I was once talking to her of a wealthy citizen, whom she had refused in her youth, she declared to me, with great warmth, that she preferred a man of quality, in his shirt, to the richest man upon the Change, in a coach and six. She pretended that our family was nearly related, by the mother's side, to half a dozen peers; but, as none of them knew any thing of the matter, we always keep it as a secret among ourselves. A little before her death, she was reciting to me the history of my forefathers; but dwelling a little longer than ordinary upon the actions of Sir Gilbert Ironside, who had a horse shot under him at Edghill fight, I gave an unfortunate pish! and asked, "What was all this to me?" upon which she retired to her closet, and fell a scribbling for three hours together, in which time, as I afterwards found, she struck me out of her will, and left all she had to my sister Margaret, a wheedling baggage, that used to be asking questions about her great grandfather from morning to night. She now lies buried among the family of the Ironsides, with a stone over her, acquainting the reader that she died at the age of eighty years, a spinster, and that she was descended of the ancient family of the Ironsides. After which follows the genealogy, drawn up by her own hand.



Incenditque animum famæ venientis amore. THERE

HERE is nothing which I study so much, in the course of these my daily dissertations, as variety. By this means, every one of my readers is sure, some time or other, to find a subject that pleases him; and almost every paper has some particular set of men for its advocates. Instead of seeing the number of my papers every day increasing, they would quickly lie as a drug upon my hands, did not I take care to keep up the appetite of my guests, and quicken it, from time to time, by something new and unexpected. In short, I endeavour to treat my reader in the same manner as Eve does the angel, in that beautiful description of Milton.

So saying, with dispatchful looks in haste
She turns, on hospitable thoughts intent,
What choice to choose for delicacy best.
What order, so contriv'd as not to mix
Tastes, not well join'd, inelegant, but bring
Taste after taste, upheld with kindliest change.
Whatever earth, all-bearing mother yields,
In India east or west, or middle shore,

In Pontus or the Punic coast, or where
Alcinous reign’d, fruit of all kinds, in coat
Rough or smooth rined, or bearded husk, or shell,
She gathers, tribute large, and on the board
Heaps with unsparing hand-


If, by this method, I can furnish out a splendida farrago, according to the compliment lately paid me in a fine poem, published among the exercises of the last Oxford act, I have gained the end which I propose to myself.

In my yesterday's paper, I showed how the actions of our ancestors and forefathers should excite us to every thing that is great and virtuous; I shall here observe, that a regard to our posterity, and those who are to descend from us, ought to have the same kind of influence on a generous mind. A noble soul would rather die than commit an action that should make his children blush when he is in his grave, and be looked upon as a reproach to those who shall live a hundred years after him. On the contrary, nothing can be a more pleasing thought, to a man of eminence, than to consider that his posterity, who lie many removes from him, shall make their boast of his virtues, and be honoured for his sake.

Virgil represents this consideration as an incentive of glory to Eneas, when, after having shown him the race of heroes who were to descend from him, Anchises adds, with a noble warmth,

Et dubitamus adhuc virtutem extendere factis ?
And doubt we yet through dangers to pursue
The paths of honour?

MR. DRYDEN. Since I have mentioned this passage in Virgil, where Æneas was entertained with the view of his great descendants, I cannot forbear observing a particular beauty, which I do not know any one has taken notice of. The list which he has there drawn up was in general to do honour to the Roman name, but more particularly to compliment Augustus. For this reason, Anchises, who shows Æneas most of the rest of his descendants in the same order that they were to make their appearance in the world, breaks his method for the sake of Augustus, whom he singles out immediately after having mentioned Romulus, as the most illustrious person who was to rise in that empire which the other had founded. He was impatient to describe his posterity raised to the utmost pitch of glory, and therefore passes over all the rest to come at this great man, whom, by this means, he implicitly represents as making the most conspicuous figure amongst them. By this artifice, the poet did not only give his emperor the greatest praise he could bestow upon him, but hindered his reader from drawing a parallel, which would have been disadvantageous to him, had he been celebrated in his proper place; that is, after Pompey and Cæsar, who each of them eclipsed the other in military glory.

Though there have been finer things spoken of Augustus than of any other man, all the wits of his age having tried to outrival one another on that subject, he never received a compliment, which, in my opinion, can be compared for sublimity of thought, to that which the poet here makes him. The English Teader may see a faint shadow of it in Mr. Dryden's translation, for the original is inimitable.

Hic vir hic est, &c.

But next behold the youth of form divine,
Cæsar himself, exalted in his line;
Augustus; promis'd oft, and long foretold,
Sent to the realm that Saturn rul'd of old;
Born to restore a better age of gold.
Afric, and India, shall his

pow'r obey,
He shall extend his propagated sway
Beyond the solar year, without the starry way;
Where Atlas turns the rolling heavens around,
And his broad shoulders with their light are crown'd.
At his foreseen approach, already quake
The Caspian kingdoms and Mæotian lake.
Their seer's behold the tempest from afar;
And threat'ning oracles denounce the war.

« ForrigeFortsæt »