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him hastily, and, catching him fast by the hand, cried out with a vehement oath and accent, shall stay and take t’other bottle.” The airy monarch looked kindly at him over his shoulder, and with a smile and graceful air (for I saw him at the time, and do now) repeated this line of the old song,
“ He that's drunk is as great as a king." and immediately returned back and complied with his landlord.
I give you this story, Mr. Spectator, because, as I said, I saw the passage; and I assure you it is very true, and yet no common one; and when I tell you the sequel, you
I have a better reason for it. This very mayor afterwards erected a statue of his merry monarch in Stocks-market*, and did the crown many and great services; and it was owing to this humour of the king, that his family had so great a fortune shut up in the exchequer of their pleasant sovereign. The many good-natured condescensions of this prince are vulgarly known; and it is excellently said of him by a great hand + which writ his character, that he was not a king a quarter of an hour together in his whole reign. He would receive visits from fools and half madmen; and at times I have met with people who have boxed, fought at back-sword, and taken poison before king Charles II. In a word, he was so pleasant a man, that no one could be sorrowful under his government. This made him capable of bafiling, with the greatest case imaginable, all suggestions of jealousy ; and the people could not entertain notions of any thing terrible in him, whom they saw every way agreeable. This scrap of the familiar part of that prince's history I thought fit to send you, in compliance to the request you lately made to your correspondents.
* The equestrian statue of Charles II. in Stocks-market, erected at the sole charge of sir Robert Viner, was originally made for John Sobieski, king of Poland ; but by some acci. dent it had been left on the workman's hands. To save time and expence, the Polander was converted into a Briton, and the Turk underneath his horse into Oliver Cromwell, to complete the compliment. Unfortunately the turban on the Turk's head was overlooked, and left an undeniable proof of this story. See Stow's Survey, &c. ed. 1755, p. 517, vol. i. and Ralph's Review, &c. edit. 1736, p. 9.
+ Sheffield duke of Buckingham, who said, that 'on a pre. meditation Charles II. could not act the part of a king for a moment,'
N° 463. THURSDAY, AUGUST 21, 1712.
Omnia quæ sensu volvuntur vota diurno,
Pectore sopito reddit amica quies.
Mens tamen ad sylvas et sua lustra redit :
Vanaque nocturnis meta cavetur equis.
Musarum studium sub nocte silenti
With wonted chimes of jingling verse delight. I was lately entertaining myself with comparing Homer's balance, in which Jupiter is represented as weighing the fates of Hector and Achilles, with a passage of Virgil, wherein that deity is introduced as weighing the fates of Turnus and Æneas. I then considered how the same way of thinking prevailed in the eastern parts of the world, as in those noble passages of scripture, wherein we are told, that the great king of Babylon, the day before his death, had been 'weighed in the balance, and been found wanting. In other places of the holy writings, the Almighty is described as weighing the mountains in scales, making the weight for the winds, knowing the balancings of the clouds ; and in others, as weighing the actions of men, and laying their calamities together in a balance. Milton, as I have observed in a former paper, had an eye to several of these foregoing instances in that beautiful description, wherein he represents the archangel and the evil spirit as addressing themselves for the combat, but parted by the balance which appeared in the heavens, and weighed the consequences of such a battle.
“Th’Eternal, to prevent such horrid fray,
“ Satan, I know thy strength, and thou know'st mine :
These several amusing thoughts, having taken possession of my mind some time before I went to sleep, and mingling themselves with my ordinary ideas, raised in my imagination a very odd kind of vision. I was, methought, replaced in my study, and seated in my elbow-chair, where I had indulged the foregoing speculations, with my lamp burning by me as usual.
Whilst I was here meditating on several subjects of morality, and considering the nature of many virtues and vices, as materials for those discourses with which I daily entertain the public, I saw, methought, a pair of golden scales hanging by a chain of the same metal over the table that stood before me; when, on a sudden, there were great heaps of weights thrown down on each side of them. I found, upon examining these weights, they showed the value of every thing that is in esteem among men. I made an essay of them, by putting the weight of wisdom in one scale, and that of riches in another; upon which the latter, to show its comparative lightness, immediately flew up and kicked the beam.
But, before I proceed, I must inform my reader, that these weights did not exert their natural gravity till they were laid in the golden balance, insomuch that I could not guess which was light or heavy whilst I held them in my hand. This I found by several instances; for, upon my laying a weighit in one of the scales, which was inscribed by the word
eternity,' though I threw in that of time, prosperity, affliction, wealth, poverty, interest, success, with many other weights, which in my hand seemed very ponderous, they were not able to stir the opposite balance; nor could they have prevailed, though assisted with the weight of the sun, the stars, and the earth,
Upon emptying the scales, I laid several titles and honours, with pomp, triumphs, and many weights of the like nature, in one of them; and seeing a little glittering weight lie by me, I threw it accidentally into the other scale, when, to my great surprise, it proved so exact a counterpoise, that it kept the balance in an equilibrium. This little glittering weight was inscribed upon the edges of it with the word
vanity.' I found there were several other weights which were equally heavy, and exact counterpoises to one another: a few of them I tried, as Avarice and Poverty, Riches and Content, with some others.