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In a word, I am quite another man to what I was.1
-Nil fuit unquam
Tam dispar sibi—
My old acquaintance scarce know me; nay, I was asked the other day by a Jew at Jonathan's whether I was not related to a dumb gentleman, who used to come to that coffeehouse? But I think I never was better pleased in my life than about a week ago, when, as I was battling it across the table with a young Templar, his companion gave him a pull by the sleeve, begging him to come away, for that the old prig would talk him to death.
Being now a very good proficient in discourse, I shall appear in the world with this addition to my character, that my countrymen may reap the fruits of my new-acquired loquacity.
Those who have been present at public disputes in the university know, that it is usual to maintain heresies for argument's sake. I have heard a man a most impudent Socinian for half an hour, who has been an orthodox divine all his life after. I have taken the same method to accomplish myself in the gift of utterance, having talked above a twelvemonth, not so much for the benefit of my hearers as of myself. But since I have now gained the faculty I have been so long endeavouring after, I intend to make a right use of it, and shall think myself obliged, for the future, to speak always in truth and sincerity of heart. While a man is learning to fence, he practises both on friend and foe; but when he is a master in the art, he never exerts it but on what he thinks the right side.
That this last allusion may not give my reader a wrong idea of my design in this paper, I must here inform him, that the author of it is of no faction, that he is a friend to no interests but those of truth and virtue, nor a foe to any but those of vice and folly. Though I make more noise in the
1 Another man to what I was.] To account for this construction, another—to, we are to fill up the sentence thus: "I am quite another man [compared] to what I was.” But another, as here used, having the sense of different, we borrow its construction, and say, without scruple,—another man from-as we should do, if the word different was employed. This form of expression is now generally followed, and is plainly better than the other elliptical one.
world than I used to do, I am still resolved to act in it as an indifferent Spectator. It is not my ambition to increase the number either of Whigs or Tories, but of wise and good men, and I could heartily wish there were not faults common to both parties, which afford me sufficient matter to work upon, without descending to those which are peculiar to either.
If in a multitude of counsellors there is safety, we ought to think ourselves the securest nation in the world. Most of our garrets are inhabited by statesmen, who watch over the liberties of their country, and make a shift to keep themselves from starving, by taking into their care the properties of all their fellow-subjects.
As these politicians of both sides have already worked the nation into a most unnatural ferment, I shall be so far from endeavouring to raise it to a greater height, that, on the contrary, it shall be the chief tendency of my papers, to inspire my countrymen with a mutual good-will and benevolence. Whatever faults either party may be guilty of, they are rather inflamed than cured by those reproaches which they cast upon one another. The most likely method of rectifying any man's conduct, is, by recommending to him the principles of truth and honour, religion and virtue; and so long as he acts with an eye to these principles, whatever party he is of, he cannot fail of being a good Englishman, and a lover of his country.
As for the persons concerned in this work, the names of all of them, or at least of such as desire it, shall be published hereafter till which time I must entreat the courteous reader to suspend his curiosity, and rather to consider what is written, than who they are that write it.
Having thus adjusted all necessary preliminaries with my reader, I shall not trouble him with any more prefatory discourses, but proceed in my old method, and entertain him with speculations on every useful subject that falls in my
No. 557. MONDAY, JUNE 30.
Quippe domum timet ambiguam, Tyriosque bilingues. VIRG. "THERE is nothing (says Plato)_ so delightful, as the hearing or the speaking of truth." For this reason there is
no conversation so agreeable as that of the man of integrity, who hears without any intention to betray, and speaks without any intention to deceive.
Among all the accounts which are given of Cato, I do not remember one that more redounds to his honour than the following passage related by Plutarch. As an advocate was pleading the cause of his client before one of the prætors, he could only produce a single witness in a point where the law required the testimony of two persons; upon which the advocate insisted on the integrity of that person whom he had produced; but the prætor told him, "That where the law required two witnesses, he would not accept of one, though it were Cato himself." Such a speech, from a person who sat at the head of a court of justice, while Cato was still living, shows us, more than a thousand examples, the high reputation this great man had gained among his contemporaries upon the account of his sincerity.
When such an inflexible integrity is a little softened and qualified by the rules of conversation and good-breeding, there is not a more shining virtue in the whole catalogue of social duties. A man, however, ought to take great care not to polish himself out of his veracity, nor to refine his behaviour to the prejudice of his virtue.
This subject is exquisitely treated in the most elegant sermon of the great British preacher.' I shall beg leave to transcribe out of it two or three sentences, as a proper introduction to a very curious letter, which I shall make the chief entertainment of this speculation.
"The old English plainness and sincerity, that generous integrity of nature, and honesty of disposition, which always argues true greatness of mind, and is usually accompanied with undaunted courage and resolution, is in a great measure lost among us.
"The dialect of conversation is, now-a-days, so swelled with vanity and compliment, and so surfeited (as I may say) of expressions of kindness and respect, that if a man that lived an age or two ago should return into the world again, he
Great British preacher.] Deservedly called great, for the manliness of his sense, and the unadorned dignity of his expression. But they who have little relish for the chaste graces of Mr. Addison's style, may be excused if they have still less for the graceful negligence of Archbishop Tillotson's.
would really want a dictionary to help him to understand his own language, and to know the true intrinsic value of the phrase in fashion; and would hardly, at first, believe at what a low rate the highest strains and expressions of kindness imaginable do commonly pass in current payment; and when he should come to understand it, it would be a great while before he could bring himself, with a good countenance and a good conscience, to converse with men upon equal terms, and in their own way.'
I have by me a letter which I look upon as a great curiosity, and which may serve as an exemplification to the foregoing passage, cited out of this most excellent prelate. It is said to have been written in King Charles the Second's reign, by the ambassador of Bantam, a little after his arrival in England.
The people, where I now am, have tongues farther from their hearts than from London to Bantam, and thou knowest the inhabitants of one of these places do not know what is done in the other. They call thee and thy subjects barbarians, because we speak what we mean; and account themselves a civilized people, because they speak one thing and mean another; truth they call barbarity, and falsehood politeness. Upon my first landing, one who was sent from the king of this place to meet me, told me, "That he was extremely sorry for the storm I met with just before my arrival." I was troubled to hear him grieve and afflict himself upon my account: but in less than a quarter of an hour he smiled, and was as merry as if nothing had happened. Another, who came with him, told me by my interpreter, 'He should be glad to do me any service that lay in his power.' Upon which I desired him to carry one of my portmanteaus for me; but instead of serving me according to his promise, he laughed, and bid another do it. I lodged, the first week, at the house of one, who desired me to think myself at home, and to consider his house as my own.' cordingly, I the next morning began to knock down one of the walls of it, in order to let in the fresh air, and had packed up some of the household goods, of which I intended to have made thee a present: but the false varlet no sooner
saw me falling to work, but he sent word to desire me to give over, for that? he would have no such doings in his house. I have not been long in this nation, before I was told by one, for whom I had asked a certain favour from the chief of the king's servants, whom they here call the lord-treasurer, that I had 'eternally obliged him.' I was so surprised at his gratitude, that I could not forbear saying, 'What service is there which one man can do for another, that can oblige him to all eternity?' However, I only asked him for my reward, that he would lend me his eldest daughter during my stay in this country; but I quickly found that he was as treacherous as the rest of his countrymen.
"At my first going to court, one of the great men almost put me out of countenance, by asking 'ten thousand pardons' of me, for only treading by accident upon my toe. They call this kind of lie a compliment; for when they are civil to a great man, they tell him untruths, for which thou wouldst order any of thy_officers of state to receive a hundred blows upon his foot. I do not know how I shall negociate anything with this people, since there is so little credit to be given to them. When I go to see the king's scribe, I am generally told that he is not at home, though perhaps I saw him go into his house almost the very moment before. Thou wouldst fancy that the whole nation are physicians, for the first question they always ask me, is, How I do? I have this question put to me above an hundred times a day. Nay, they are not only thus inquisitive after my health, but wish it in a more solemn manner, with a full glass in their hands, every time I sit with them at table, though, at the same time, they would persuade me to drink their liquors in such quantities, as I have found by experience will make me sick. They often pretend to pray for thy health also, in the same manner: but I have more reason to expect it from the good1 But.] We now say, than, and rightly: not that but ever stood for than, as our grammarians suppose. To account for this use of but, we must supply a whole sentence, that may be supposed to have passed in the writer's mind." The false varlet no sooner saw me falling to work, [than he did not allow me to proceed] but he sent to me," &c.-We see, then, how but came to signify, or rather to imply, than. See the note on p. 57.
2 For that.] For [this reason, viz.] that-which the French express by parceque, i. e. par ce que, for this that.