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tended very much to the lessening that ancient and undoubted authority, which they have claimed over the male part of the island, to the ruin of good housewifery, and to the betraying of many important secrets: that it has produced much bitterness of speech, many sharp and violent contests, and a great effusion of citron-water: that it has raised animosities in their hearts, and heats in their faces: that it has broke out in their ribbons, and caused unspeakable confusions in their dress: and, above all, that it has introduced a certain frown into the features, and a sourness into the air of our British ladies, to the great damage of their charms, and visible decay of the national beauty.” As for the enacting part of the bill
, it may consist of
many particulars, which will naturally arise from the debates of the tea-table; and must, therefore, be left to the discretion and experience of the committee. Perhaps, it might not be amiss to enact, among other things,
“That the discoursing on politics shall be looked upon as dull as talking on the weather.
“That if any man troubles a female assembly with parliament news, he shall be marked out as a blockhead, or an incendiary.
“That no woman shall henceforth presume to stick a patch upon her forehead, unless it be in the very middle, that is in the neutral part of it.
“That all fans and snuff-boxes, of what principles soever, shall be called in: and that orders be given to Motteux and Mathers, to deliver out, in exchange for them, such as have no tincture of party in them.
"That when any lady bespeaks a play, she shall take effectual care, that the audience be pretty equally chequered with Whigs and Tories.
“That no woman of any party presume to influence the legislature.
"That there be a general amnesty and oblivion of all former hostilities and distinctions, all public and private failings on either side: and that every one who
comes into this neutrality within the space of weeks, shall be allowed an ell extraordinary, above the present standard, in the circumference of her petticoat.
“ Provided always nevertheless, that nothing herein contained shall extend, or be construed to extend, to any person or persons, inhabiting and practising within the hundreds of Drury, or to any other of that society in what part soever of the nation in like manner practising and residing; who are still at liberty to rail, calumniate, scold, frown and pout, as in aforetimes, any thing in this act to the contrary notwithstanding.
No. 39. FRIDAY, MAY 4.
Prodesse quam conspici. LORD SOMERS's Motto. It often happens, that extirpating the love of glory, which is observed to take the deepest root in noble minds, tears up several virtues with it; and that suppressing the desire of fame is apt to reduce men to a state of indolence and supineness. But when, without any incentive of vanity, a person of great abilities is zealous for the good of mankind; and as solicitous for the concealment as the performance of illustrious actions; we may be sure that he has something more than ordinary in his composition, and has a heart filled with goodness and magnanimity.
There is not, perhaps, in all history, a greater instance of this temper of mind, than what appeared in that excellent person, whose motto I have placed at the head of this paper. He had worn himself out in his application to such studies as made himself useful or ornamental to the world, in concerting schemes for the welfare of his country, and in prosecuting such measures as were necessary for making those schemes effectual; but all this was done with a view to the public good that should rise out of these generous endeavours, and not to the fame which should accrue to himself. Let the reputation of the action fall where it would, so his country reaped the benefit of it, he was satisfied. As this turn of mind threw off, in a great measure, the oppositions of envy and competition, it enabled him to gain the most vain and impracticable into his designs, and to bring about several great events for the safety and advantage of the public, which must have died in their birth, had he been as desirous of
appearing beneficial to mankind, as of being so.
As he was admitted into the secret and most retired thoughts and counsels of his royal master, King William, a great share in the plan of the Protestant succession is universally ascribed to him. And if he did not entirely project the union of the two kingdoms, and the bill of regency, which seem to have been the only methods, in human policy, for securing to us so inestimable a blessing, there is none who will deny him to have been the chief conductor in both these glorious works. For posterity are obliged to allow him that praise after his death, which he industriously declined while he was living. His life, indeed, seems to have been prolonged beyond its natural term, under those indispositions which hung upon the latter part of it, that he might have the satisfaction of seeing the happy settlement take place, which he had proposed to himself as the principal end of all his public labours. Nor was it a small addition to his happiness, that by this means he saw those who had been always his most intimate friends, and who had concerted with him such measures for the guarantee of the Protestant succession, as drew upon them the displeasure of men who were averse to it, advanced to the highest posts of trust and honour under his present majesty. I believe there are none of these patriots, who will think it a derogation from their merit to have it said, that they received many lights and advantages from their intimacy with
my Lord Somers; who had such a general know
ledge of affairs, and so tender a concern for his friends, that whatever station they were in, they usually applied to him for his advice in every perplexity of business, and in affairs of the greatest difficulty.
His life was, in every part of it, set off with that graceful modesty and reserve, which made his virtues more beautiful, the more they were cast in such agreeable shades.
His religion was sincere, not ostentatious; and such as inspired him with a universal benevolence towards all his fellow subjects, not with bitterness against any part of them. He showed his firm adherence to it as modelled by our national constitution, and was constant to its offices of devotion, both in public, and in his family. He appeared a champion for it, with great reputation, in the cause of the seven bishops, at a time when the church was really in danger. To which we may add, that he held a strict friendship and correspondence with the great archbishop Tillotson, being acted by the same spirit of candour and moderation; and moved rather with pity than indignation towards the persons of those who differed from him in the unessential parts of Christianity.
His greatest humanity appeared in the minutest circumstances of his conversation. You found it in the benevolence of his aspect, the complacency of his behaviour, and the tone of his voice. His great application to the severer studies of the law, had not infected his temper with any thing positive or litigious. He did not know what it was to wrangle on indifferent points, to triumph in the superiority of his understanding, or to be supercilious on the side of truth. He joined the greatest delicacy of good breeding to the greatest strength of reason. By approving the sentiments of a person, with whom he conversed, in such particulars as were just, he won him over from those points in which he was mistaken; and had so agreeable a way of conveying knowledge, that whoever conferred with him grew the wiser, without perceiving that he had been insructed. We may probably ascribe to this masterly and engaging manner of conversation, the great esteem which he had gained with the late queen, while she pursued those measures which had carried the British nation to the highest pitch of glory; notwithstanding she had entertained many unreasonable prejudices against him, before she was acquainted with his personal worth and behaviour.
As in his political capacity we have before seen how much he contributed to the establishment of the Protestant interest, and the good of his native country, he was always true to these great ends. His character was uniform and consistent with itself, and his whole conduct of a piece. His principles were founded in reason, and supported by virtue; and, therefore, did not lie at the mercy of ambition, avarice, or resentment. His notions were no less steady and unshaken, than just and upright. In a word, he concluded his course among the same well-chosen friendships and alliances, with which he began it.
This great man was not more conspicuous as a patriot and a statesman, than as a person of universal knowledge and learning. As, by dividing his time between the public scenes of business, and the private retirements of life, he took care to keep up both the great and good men; so, by the same means, he accomplished himself, not only in the knowledge of men and things, but in the skill of the most refined arts and sciences. That unwearied diligence, which followed him through all the stages of his life, gave such a thorough insight into the laws of the land, that he passed for one of the greatest masters of his profession, at his first appearance in it. Though he made a regular progress through the several honours of the long race, he was always looked upon as one who deserved a superior station to that he was possessed of; till he arrived at the highest dignity to which those studies could advance him.
He enjoyed in the highest perfection two talents,