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cautioning my wards against him, I design this whole paper as an Essay upon the political Lion.
It has cost me a great deal of time to discover the reason of this appellation, but after many disquisitions and conjectures on so obscure a subject, I find there are two accounts of it more satisfactory than the rest. In the republic of Venice, which has been always the mother of politics, there are near the Doge's palace several large figures of lions curiously wrought in marble, with mouths gaping in a most enormous manner. Those who have a mind to give the state any private intelligence of what passes in the city, put their hands into the mouth of one of these lions, and convey into it a paper of such private informations as any way regard the interest or safety of the commonwealth. By this means, all the secrets of state come out of the lion's mouth. The informer is concealed, it is the lion that tells every thing. In short, there is not a mismanagement in office, or a murmur in conversation, which the lion does not acquaint the government with. For this reason, say the learned, a spy is very properly distinguished by the name of Lion.
I must confess this etymology is plausible enough, and I did for some time acquiesce in it, till about a year or two ago I met with a little manuscript which sets this whole matter in a clear light. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, says my author, the renowned Walsingham had many spies in his service, from whom the government received great advantage. The most eminent among them was the statesman's barber, whose sirname was Lion. This fellow had an admirable knack of fishing out the secrets of his customers, as they were under his hands. He would rub and lather a man's head, until he had got out every thing that was in it. He had a certain snap in his fingers and volubility in his tongue, that would engage a man to talk with him whether he would or no. By this means he became an inexhaustible fund of private intelli
gence, and so signalised himself in the capacity of a spy, that, from his time, a master-spy goes under the name of a Lion.
Walsingham had a most excellent penetration, and never attempted to turn any man into a lion whom he did not see highly qualified for it, when he was in his human condition. Indeed the speculative men of those times say of him, that he would now and then play them off and expose them a little unmercifully; but that, in my opinion, seems only good policy, for otherwise they might set up for men again, when they thought fit, and desert his service. But, however, though in that very corrupt age he made use of these animals, he had a great esteem for true men, and always exerted the highest generosity in offering them more, without asking terms of them, and doing more for them out of mere respect for their talents, though against him, than they could expect from any other minister whom they had served never so conspicuously. This made Raleigh (who professed himself his opponent) say one day to a friend, “ Pox take this Walsingham, he baffles every body, he will not so much as let a man hate him in private.” True it is, that by the wanderings, roarings, and lurking of his lions, he knew the way to every man breathing, who had not a contempt for the world itself; he had lions rampant whom he used for the service of the church, and couchant who were to lie down for the queen. They were so much at command, that the couchant would act as rampant, and the rampant as couchant, without being the least out of countenance, and all this within four and twenty hours. Walsingham had the pleasantest life in the world, for, by the force of his power and intelligence, he saw men as they really were, and not as the
world thought of them : all this was principally brought about by feeding his lions well, or keeping them hungry, according to their different constitutions.
Having given this short, but necessary account of this statesman and his barber, who, like the taylor in Shakespear's Pyramus and Thisbe, was a man made, as other men are, notwithstanding he was a nominal lion, I shall proceed to the description of this strange species of creatures. Ever since the wise Walsingham was secretary in this nation, our statesmen are said to have encouraged the breed among us, as very well knowing that a lion in our British arms is one of the supporters of the crown, and that it is impossible for a government, in which there are such a variety of factions and intrigues, to subsist without this necessary animal.
A lion, or master-spy, has several jack-calls under him, who are his retailers of intelligence, and bring him in materials for his report; his chief haunt is a coffee-house, and as his voice is exceeding strong, it aggravates the sound of every thing it repeats.
As the lion generally thirsts after blood, and is of a fierce and cruel nature, there are no secrets which he hunts after with more delight, than those that cut off heads, hang, draw, and quarter, or end in the ruin of the person who becomes his prey. If he gets the wind of any
word or action that may do a man good, it is not for his purpose; he quits the chace, and falls into a more agreeable scent. He discovers a wonderful sagacity in seeking after
He couches and frisks about in a thousand sportful motions to draw it within his reach, and has a particular way of imitating the sound of the creature whom he would ensnare; an artifice to be met with in no beast of prey, except the hyæna and the political lion.
You seldom see a cluster of news-mongers without a lion in the midst of them. He never misses taking his stand within ear-shot of one of those little ambitious men who set up for orators in places of public resort. If there is a whispering-hole, or any publicspirited corner in a coffee-house, you never fail of
seeing a lion couched upon his elbow in some part of the neighbourhood.
A lion is particularly addicted to the perusal of every loose paper that lies in his way.
He appears more than ordinary attentive to what he reads, while he listens to those who are about him. He takes up the Postman, and snuffs the candle that he may hear the better by it. I have seen a lion pore upon a single paragraph in an old Gazette for two hours together, if his neighbours have been talking all that while.
Having given a full description of this monster, for the benefit of such innocent persons as may fall into , his walks, I shall apply a word or two to the lion himself, whom I would desire to consider that he is a creature hated both by God and man, and regarded with the utmost contempt even by such as make use of him. Hangmen and executioners are necessary in a state, and so may the animal I have been here mentioning; but how despicable is the wretch that takes on him so vile an employment? there is scarce a being that would not suffer by a comparison with him, except that being only who acts the same kind of part, and is both the tempter and accuser of mankind.
N. B. Mr. Ironside has, within five weeks last past, muzzled three lions, gorged five, and killed one. On Monday next the skin of the dead one will be hung up, in terrorem, at Button's coffee-house, over-against Tom's, in Covent-Garden.
No. 96. WEDNESDAY, JULY 1,
Cuncti adsint, meritæque expectent præmią palmæ.
There is no maxim in politics more indisputable, than that a nation should have many honours in reserve for those who do national services. This raises
emulation, cherishes public merit, and inspires every one with an ambition which promotes the good of his country. The less expensive these honours are to the public, the more still do they turn to its advantage.
The Romans abounded with these little honorary rewards, that, without conferring wealth or riches, gave only place and distinction to the person who received them. An oaken garland to be worn on festivals and public ceremonies, was the glorious recompence of one who had covered a citizen in battle. A soldier would not only venture his life for a mural crown, but think the most hazardous enterprise sufficiently repaid by so noble a donation.
But among all honorary rewards, which are neither dangerous nor detrimental to the donor, I remember none so remarkable as the titles which are bestowed by the Emperor of China. These are never given to any subject, says Monsieur le Conte, till the subject is dead. If he has pleased his emperor to the last, he is called in all public memorials by the title which the emperor confers on him after his death, and his children take their rank accordingly. This keeps the ambitious subject in a perpetual dependence, making him always vigilant and active, and in every thing conformable to the will of his sovereign.
There are no honorary rewards among us, which are more esteemed by the person who receives them, and are cheaper to the prince, than the giving of medals. But there is something in the modern manner of celebrating a great action in medals, which makes such a reward much less valuable than it was among the Romans. There is generally but one coin stamped upon the occasion, which is made a present to the person who is celebrated on it. By this means his whole fame is in his own custody. The applause that is bestowed upon him is too much limited and confined. He is in possession of an honour which the world perhaps knows nothing of. He
He may be a great man in his own family; his wife and children may see