Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

It may easily be discovered in what the good sense of the above old saying consists. It is most probably meant to mark the folly of people exposing themselves and their affairs unnecessarily. An appeal to the public is, perhaps, the very worst of all appeals; every man is in that case an arbitrator; and so numerous, so fanciful, and so opiniated are their awards, that there is no getting at a true decision.

The above observations occur from recent matters which have been laid before the board of the public attention. The first in the affair of a distinguished personage, of whose military merits and courage no one ever doubted; and yet this person, exalted as he was, inconsiderately begged of a parcel of ignoramuses, who knew nothing of the matter, that merit and courage might be allowed him; but it is reasonable to think that this illustrious character, whose accomplished mind and manners are, perhaps, unequalled, wished to shew forth to the public, in the present dearth of genius, some polished epistolary pro

[ocr errors]

X

ductions, with the answers; not as autographs to shew the comparison of hands, but as specimens to mark the comparison of minds, and the differences of style; the pure, the dull, the clear, and the obscure; besides the information it gave to the public of the superiority of great men's writings over the epistola obscuroruin viroruin.

Another instance of useless and unnecessary publicity is in the defence of the life and character of a deceased nobleman, whose virtues will long appear in bricks and mortar, and whose generosity was well known, since he gave food to thousands of workmen whom he was obliged to employ to build numerous streets and squares. Why should any dare to find fault with a great man for paying his people on a Sunday, (even if it were true,) when so many great men do not pay their people at all; and why should all the virtues of the patriarchs be expected in the peerage, when the peerage is so numerous that the thing must be distributed among them, to make it hold out. One cannot, therefore, expect much worth in a single peer, any more than much talent; they are possessions that do not go with the title. However, the present question ought not to have been started; it is a grave argument, and the sooner it is buried in silence the better. To publish an affair, is to invite every body to read, and every blockhead to judge. What does it matter if a good character is vilified, every one has his own world, clear of the mass of society. Mine," cried Decius, “ is a few men of worth and talent; I am

[ocr errors]

glad that I am ill treated by strangers, it will make me stay at home with my friends." A traveller upon the road must expect to be abused; some will say that he is a gentleman, and others that he is a higlawayman: after all it amounts to nothing; a man's heart is the sitting magistrate, who best knows the truth of the evidence. A certain military character having been subjected to some severe but unjust reflections upon his conduct, desired to be tried by a court martial, which was granted him; when the same enemies, who had propagated the reports, stretched their evidence to a sufficient extent to occasion the court to sentence him to å reprimand. A friend afterwards asked him why he had brouglat the disgrace upon himself by demanding a court martial? “ Because" (answered he) “ I did not know that I was guilty.” It is, perhaps, the best and safest way for the man of integrity, who has the injuries of injustice to complain of, not cognizable by the laws of his country, to trust to the strength of his own character, which will support him through the trial, and, at length, expose falsehood. A few, indeed, may entertain false opinions from false representations; but the good man, attacked by calumny, remains as immoveable as a strong fortress upon a rock, to shew the weakness of the power that assails him; it is then that his enemy is compelled to raise the siege with the loss of his ammunition.

It not unfrequently happens, through the strength of trụth, that the modest person has the power to

[ocr errors]

dismay the most impudent assailant. A mild, inoffen: sive man had one day, at table, endured with a great deal of patience the severe jokes of a wit (of no very good character,) who had amused himself and the party at his expence, one of the company asked the quiet man why he did not reply to the other's animadversions? “ Because" (answered he) " I have too much charity.” And a still keener reply was made some years ago by a poor Irish barrister, who did not al, ways come into court properly drest, The judge, who was suspected of being not the most pure upon the bench, one day took notice of this want of propriety in the following words:-“ My dear Mr. Macgragh, I am sorry to see that you come into court with such a dirty shirt.”—“ Faith, I am very sorry for it too,” (replied the barrister,)“ but, though my shirt is dirty, if your lordship will look (holding up both his hands) you will see that my hands are clane." The truth is, that it matters very little what people say of a man, it is what the man feels that he can say of himself. Fame frequently bestows her prizes unjustly, and often takes them away without a cause; which mutability of her character gave occasion to the bon mot of a wit and epicure of the present day, who having listened some time to a conversation upon the tongue of fair report, said, " Why, for my part, I prefer a neat's tongue; the flavour is as good, and it keeps much longer.”

It is unpleasant to the feelings of a humane man to hear, in our courts of justice, the torrents of abuse opened by the counsel, making a wreck of reputation,

and sinking character for ever. Ill advised are parties to go to law for trifling matters, since there are als most always faults on both sides; and perhaps, for some paltry consideration, they become publicly posted up as knaves or blockheads in the truest sense of my motto, and, it may be, with the additional satisfaction of each having his own costs to pay.

DEAR SIR, “ I am one of those unhappy people whose whole life has been a constant scene of interruption; I was impeded coming into the world by the difficult labour of my mother, and in my growth by the bad ma: nagement of my nurse, No sooner was I able to go alone, than I was remarkable for the many tumbles I experienced, and the earliest interruption of my childhood was in running after a bird, when I fell over a þroomstick and broke my nose. Numerous were the obstacles to my going to school, from the circumstance of an old woman selling apples and gingerbread exactly in my road; but what, sir, is very extraordinary,

I grew up I found my interruptions increase, I once fell over a wheelbarrow, running after a pretty girl, and into a ditch gaping at a boy's kite; but these are trifles compared to what I have suffered since. In short, every scrape of my life has arisen from inter, ruption, and I do really think that I never seriously determined upon any thing without experiencing an interruption, except when I was going to be married at St. James's church, when the deuce of any thing

as

« ForrigeFortsæt »