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endeavoured to make mirth instructive, and, if they failed in this great end, they must be allowed at least to have made it innocent. If wit and humour begin again to relapse into their former licentiousness, they can never hope for approbation from those who know that raillery is useless when it has no moral under it, and pernicious when it attacks any thing that is either unblameable or praise-worthy. To this we may add, what has been commonly observed, that it is not difficult to be merry on the side of vice, as serious objects are the most capable of ridicule ; as the party, which naturally favours such a mirth, is the most numerous; and as there are the most standing jests and patterns for imitation in this kind of writing.
In the next place; such productions of wit and humour, as have a tendency to expose vice and folly, furnish useful diversions to all kinds of readers. The good or prudent man may, by these means, be diverted, without prejudice to his discretion, or morality. Raillery, under such regulations, unbends the mind from serious studies, and severer contemplations, without throwing it off from its proper bias. It carries on the same design that is promoted by authors of a graver turn, and only does it in another manner. It also awakens reflection in those who are the most indifferent in the cause of virtue or knowledge, by setting before them the absurdity of such practices as are generally unobserved, by reason of their being common or fashionable: nay, it sometimes catches the dissolute and abandoned before they are aware of it; who are often betrayed to laugh at themselves, and, upon reflection, find, that they are merry at their own expence. I might farther take notice, that, by entertainments of this kind, a man may be cheerful in solitude, and not be forced to seek for company every time he has a mind to be inerry:
The last advantage I shall mention, from compositions of this nature, when thus restrained, is, that they show wisdom and virtue are far from being inconsiste
ent with politeness and good humour. They make morality appear amiable to people of gay dispositions, and refute the common objection against religion, which represents it as only fit for gloomy and melancholy tempers. It was the motto of a bishop, very eminent for his piety and good works, in King Charles the Second's reign, Inservi Deo et lætare, 'Serve God and be cheerful. Those, therefore, who supply the world with such entertainments of mirth as are in structive, or at least harmless, may be thought to deserve well of mankind; to which I shall only add, that they retrieve the honour of polite learning, and answer those sour enthusiasts, who affect to stigmatize the finest and most elegant authors, both ancient and modern (which they have never read) as dangerous to religion, and destructive of all sound and saving knowledge.
Our nation are such lovers of mirth and humour, that it is impossible for detached papers, which come out on stated days, either to have a general run, or long continuance, if they are not diversified, and enlivened, from time to time, with subjects and thoughts, accommodated to this taste; which so prevails among our countrymen. No periodical author, who always maintains his gravity, and does not sometimes sacrifice to the Graces, must expect to keep in vogue for any considerable time. Political speculations, in particular, however just and important, are of so dry and austere a nature, that they will not go down with the public without frequent seasonings of this kind. The work may be well performed, but will never take, if it is not set off with proper scenes and decorations. A mere politician is but a dull companion, and, if he is always wise, is in great danger of being tiresome or ri-, diculous.
Besides, papers of entertainment are necessary to increase the number of readers, especially among those of different-notions and principles; who, by this means, may be betrayed to give you a fair hearing, and to
know what you have to say for yourself. I might likewise observe, that, in all political writings, there is something that grates upon the mind of the most candid reader, in opinions which are not conformable to his own way of thinking; and that the harshness of reasoning is not a little softened and smoothed by the infusions of mirth and pleasantry.
Political speculations do likewise furnish us with several objects that may very innocently be ridiculed, and which are regarded as such by men of sense in all parties; of this kind are the passions of our stateswomen, and the reasonings of our fox-hunters.
A writer, who makes fame the chief end of his endeavours, and would be more desirous of pleasing than of improving his readers, 'might find an inexhaustible fund of mirth in politics. Scandal and satire are neverfailing gratifications to the public. Detraction and obloquy are received with as much eagerness as wit and humour. Should a writer single out particular persons, or point his raillery at any order of men, who, by their profession, ought to be exempt from it; should he slander the innocent, or satirise the miserable; or should he, even on the proper subjects of derision, give the full play to his 'mirth, without regard to decency and good manners; he might be sure of pleasing a great part of his readers, but must be a very ill man, if, by such a proceeding, he could please himself.
No. 46. MONDAY, MAY 28.
Hor. The usual salutation to a man upon his birth-day among the ancient Romans, was multos et felices; in
which they wished him many happy returns of it. When Augustus celebrated the secular year, which was kept but once in a century, and received the congratulations of his people on that account, an eminent court-wit saluted him in the birth-day forın, multos et felices, which is recorded as a beautiful turn of compliment, expressing a desire that he might enjoy a happy life of many hundreds of years. This salutation cannot be taxed with flattery, since it was directed to a prince, of whom it is said, by a great historian, * It had been happy for Rome, if he had never been born, or if he had never died.' Had he never been born, Rome would, in all probability, have recovered its former liberty: had he never died, it would have been more happy under his government, than it could have been in the possession of its ancient freedom.
It is our good fortune that our sovereign, whose nativity is celebrated on this day, gives us a prospect, which the Romans wanted under the reign of their Augustus, of his being succeeded by an heir, both to his virtues and his dominions. In the mean time it happens very luckily, for the establishment of a new race of kings upon the British throne, that the first of this royal line has all those high qualifications which are necessary to fix the crown upon his own head, and to transmit it to his posterity. We may, indeed, obserye, that every series of kings who have kept up the succession in their respective families, in spite of all pretensions and oppositions formed against them, has been headed by princes famous for valour and wisdom. I need only mention the names of William the Conqueror, Henry the Second, Henry the Fourth, Edward the Fourth, and Henry the Seventh. As for king James the First, the founder of the Stuart race, had he been as well turned for the camp as the cabinet, and not confined all his views to the peace and tranquillity of his own reign, his son had not been involved in such fatal troubles and confusions.
Were an honest Briton to wish for a sovereign, who, in the present situation of affairs, would be most capable of advancing our national happiness, what could he desire more than a prince mature in wisdom and experience; renowned for his valour and resolution; successful and fortunate in his undertakings; żealous for the reformed religion ; related or allied to all the most considerable Protestant powers of Europe; and blessed with a numerous issue? A failure, in any one of these particulars, has been the cause of infinite calamities to the British nation; but when they all thus happily concur in the same person, they are as much as can be suggested, even by our wishes, for making us a happy people, so far as the qualifications of a monarch can contribute to it.
I shall not attempt à character of his present majesty, having already given an imperfect sketch of it in my second paper; but shall choose rather to observe that cruel treatment which this excellent prince has met with from the tongues and pens of some of his disaffected subjects. The baseness, ingratitude, and injustice of which practice will appear to us, if we consider,
First, that it reflects highly upon the good sense of the British nation, who do not know how to set a just value upon a prince, whose virtues have gained him the uni. versal esteem of foreign countries. Those poténtates, who, as some may suppose, do not wish well to his af fairs, have shown the greatest respect to his personal character, and testified their readiness to enter into such friendships and alliances as may be advantageous to his people. The northern kings solicit him with impatience to come among them, as the only person capable of settling the several claims and pretensions, which have produced such unspeakable calamities in that part of the world. Two of the most remote and formidable powers of Europe have entertained thoughts of submitting their disputes to his arbitration. Every one knows his ancient subjects had such a long experience of his sovereign virtues, that at his departure from them his whole people were in tears, which were