Imagens das páginas

peers, and prohibit the crown from making any new creations except to replace extinct families. On this question he was opposed by Addison, but Steele had the advantage in point of argument, and the bill was thrown out.

In this controversy, Addison is said to have sneered at his friend under the pame of *Little Dicky The allusion, however, has been misunderstood, as Lord Macaulay maintains; the matter is doubtful; but the friends had parted never to meet again: Addison sunk into his premature grave before any reconciliation took place. Next year, Steele honourably distinguished himself against the South-sea Scheme; he again took an active part in theatrical affairs, and wrote his comedy of the Conscious Lovers' (1722); but his pecuniary difficulties increased, and le retired to a seat in Wales, left him by his second wife, where he died on the 1st of September 1729. He was almost forgotten by his contemporaries ; but posterity has done justice to his talents and virtues-10 bis overflowing kindness of heart, and the spontaneous graces and charm of his writings.

As an essayist, Sieele is remarkable for the vivacity and ease of his composition. He tried all subjects; was a humorist, a satirist, a critic, and story-teller. His Inkle and Yarico, and other tales in the * Tatler’and 'Spectator,' are exquisite for their simple pathos. His pictures of life and society have the stamp of reality. They are often imperfectly finished, and present trival and incongruous details, but they abound in inimitable touches. His elevated conception of the female character has justly been remarked as distinguishing him from most writers of his age. His gallantry to women was à pure and chivalrous devotion. Or one lady he said that 'to love her was a liberal education'--one of the most felicitous compliments ever paid. Steele had also great fertility of invention, both as respects incident and character. His personages are drawn with dramatic spirit, and with a liveliness and airy facility that blind the reader to bis defects of style. The Spectator Club, with its fine portraits of Sir Roger de Coverley, Sir Andrew Freeport, Will Honeycomb, &c., will ever remain a monument of the felicity of his fancy, and his power of seizing upon the shades and peculiarities of character. If Addison heightened the humour and interest of the different scenes, to Steele belongs the merit of the original design, and the first conception of the actors.

The following extracts will shew something of Steele's manner, though not liis versatility:

Love, Grief, and Death. The first sense of sorrow I ever knew was upon the death of my father, at which time I was not quite five years of age; but was rather amazed at what all the honse meant, than possessed with a real understanding why nobody was willing to play

I remember I went into the room where his body lay, and my mother eat weeping alone by it. I had my battledoor in my hand, and fell a-beating the coffin, and calling • Papa,' for I know not how I had some slight idea that he was locked

with me.

up there. My mother catched me in her arms, and transported beyond all patience of the silent grief she was before in, she almost smotherod my in her embrace, and told me, in a fiood of tears, papa could not hear me, and would play with me do inore, for they were going to put him under ground, whence he would never come to 1: again. Sie was a very beautiful woman, of a noble spirit, and there was a dig. nity in licr gricf amidst all the wildness of her transport, which met?ouglit struck me with an instinct of sorrow, which, before I was sensible what it was to grieve, seized my vory coul, and has made pity the weakness of iny heart over since. The mind in ir: farcy is, methiuks, like the body in embryo, and receives impressions so forcible that they are as hard to be removed by reason as any mark with which a child is boru is to be taken away by any future application.

Agreeable Companions and Flatterers. An old acquaintance who met me this morning seemed overjoyed to see me, and told me I looked as well as he had known me do these forty years; but, continued he, not quite the man you were when we visited together at Lady Brightly's. Oh! Isaac, those days are over. Do you think there are any such fine creatures now liviug as we then conversed with ? He went on with a thousand incoherent circumnstances, which, in his imagination, must needs please me; but they had the quite contrary effect. The flattery with which he began, in tclling me how well I wore was not disagreeable ; but his indiscreet mention of a set of acquaintance we had outlived, recalled ten thousand things to my memory, which made me reflect upon my present condition with regret. Had he indeed been so kind as, after a long absence, to felicitate me upon an indolent and easy old age, and mentioned how much he and I had to thank for, who at our time of day could walk firmly, eat heartily, ard converse chcerfully, he had kept up my pleasure in myself. But of all mankind, there are none so shocking as these injudicious civil people. They ordinarily begin upon soinething that they know must be a satisfaction ; but then, for fear of the imputation of flattery, they follow it with the last thing in fhe world of which you would be reminded. It is this that perplexes civil persons. The reason that there is such a general outcry among us against fiatterers, is, that there are so very few good ones. It is the nicest art in this life, and is a part of 'eloquence which does not want the preparation that is necessary to all other parts of it, that your audience should be your well-wishers; for praise from an eneiny is the most pleasing of all commendations.

It is generally to be observed, that the person most agreeable to a man for a constancy, is he that has no shiniog qualities, but is a certain degree above great imperfections, whom he can live with as his inferior, and who will either overlook or not observe liis little defects. Such an easy companion as this, either now and then throws ont a littie flattery, or lets a mau silently flatter himself in his superiority to him. If you take notice, there is hardly a rich man in the world who las not such a led friend of small consideration, who is a darling for his insignificancy. It is a great care to have one in our own shape a species below us, and who, without being listed in our service, is by nature of our retinue. These dependents are of excellent use on a rainy day, or when a mau has not a mind to dress; or to exclude sol.tude, when one has neither a mind to that nor to company. There are of this good-natured order who are so kind to divide themselves, and co these good oftices to many. Five or six of them visit a whole quarter of the town, and exclude the splen, without fees, from the families they frequent. If they do not prescribe physic, they can be company when you take it. Very great benefactors to the rich, or those whom they call people at their ense, are you persons of no consequence. I have known some of thein, by the help of a li tie cunring, make delicious fatterers. They know the course of the town, and the general characters of persons; by this means they will soinetimes téll the most agreeable falschoods imaginable. They will aequaint you that such one of a quite contrary party said, that though you were engaged in disferent interests, yet he had the greatest respect for your good sense and address. When one of these has a little cunaing, he passes his time in the utmost satisfaction to himself and his friends; for his position is never to report or speak a displeasing thing to his frierd. As for letting him go on in an error, he knows advice against them is the office of persons of greater talents and less discretion.

The Latin word for a flatter (assentator') implies no more than a person that

barely consents; and indeed such a one, if a inan were able to purchase or maintain him, cannot be bought too dear. Such a one never contradicts you, but gains upon you, not by a fulsome way of commending you in broad terms, but liking whatever you propose or utter; at the same time is ready to beg your pardon, and gainsay you If you chance to speak ill of yourself. An old lady is very seldom without such a companion as this, who can recite the names of all her lovers, and the matches refused by her m the days when she minded such vanities - as she is pieased to call them, though she so much approves the mention of them. It is to be noted, that a woman's flatterer is generally elder than herself, her years serving to recommnend her patroness's age, and to add weight to her complaisance in all other particulars.

We gentlemen of small fortunes are extremely necessitous in this particular. I have indeed one who smokes with me often; but his parts are so low, that all the incense he does me is to fill his pipe with me, and to be out at just as many whiffs as I.take. This is all the praise or assent that he is capable of, yet there are more hours when I would rather be in his company than that of the brightest man I know. It would be a hard matter to give an account of this inclination to be flattered; but if we go to the bottom of it, we shall find that the pleasure in it is something like that of receiving money which lay oul. Every man thinks he has an estate of reputation, and is glad to see one that will bring any of it home to him; it is no matter how dirty a bag it is conveyed to him in, or by how clownish a messenger, so the mouey is good All that we want to be pleased with flattery, is to believe that the man is sincere who gives it us. It is by this one accident that absurd creatures often outrun the most skilful in this art. Their want ot ability is here an advantage, and their bluntness, as it is the seeming effect of sincerity, is the best cover to artifice.

It is, indeed, the greatest of injuries to flatter any but the unhappy, or such as are displeased with themselves for some infirmity. In this latter case we have a member of our clul, that, when Sir Jeffrey falls aleep, wakens him with suoring. This makes Sir Jeffrey hold up for some moments the longer, to see there are men younger tlan himself among us, who are more lethargic than he is.

When flattery is practised upon any other consideration, it is the most ahject thing in nature; nay, I cannot think of any character below the flatterer, except he that envies him. You meet with tellows prepared to be as mean as possible in their condescensions and expressions; but they want persons and taleuts to rise up to such a baseness. As a coxcomb is a fool of parts, so a tiatterer is a knave of parts.

The best of this order that I know is one who disguises it under a spirit of contradiction or reproof. He told an arrunt driveiler the other day, that he did not care for being in company with him, because he heard he turned his absent friends into ridicule. And upon Lady Autumn's disputing with him about something that happened at the Revolution, he replied with a very angry tove: • Pray, madam, give me leave to know more of a thing in which I was actually coucerned, than you who were then in your nurse's arms.'

Quack Advertisements. It gives me much despair in the design of reforming the world by my speculations, when I find there always arise, from one generation to another, successive cheats and bubbles, as naturally as beasts of prey and those which are to be their food. There is hardly a man in the world, one would think, so ignorant as uot to know that the ordmary quack-doctors, who publish their abilities in little brown Billets, distributed to ail who pass by, are to a man impostors and murderers; yet such is the credulity of the vulgar, and the impudence of these professors, that ihe affair still goes on, and new promises of what was never done before are made every day. What aggravates the jest is, that even this promise has been made as long as the memory of inal can trace it, and yet nothing performed, and yet still prevails.

There is something unaccountably taking amovg the vulgar in those who como from a great way off. Ignorant people of quality, as many there are of such, dote ex cessively.this way; many instances of which every man will suggest to himself, without my enumeration of them. The ignorants of lower order, who cannot, like the upper ones, be profuse of their money to those recommended by coming from a distance, are no less complaisant than the others; for they venture their lives for the same admiratica.


The doctor is Jately come from his travels, and has practised both by sea and land, and therefore cures the green-sickness, long sea-voyages, and campaigns. Both by sea and land! I will not answer for the distempers called sea-voyages, and campaigns,' but I daresay that of green-sickness might be as well taken care of if the doctor stayed ashore. But the art of managing mankind is only to make them stare a little to keep up their astonishment; to let nothing be familiar to them, but ever to have something in their sleeve, in which they must think you are deeper than they

There is au ingenious fellow, a barber, of my acquaintance, who, besides his broken fiddle and a dried sea-monster, has a twine-cord, strained with two nails at each end, over his window, and the words .rainy, dry, wet,' and so forth, written to denote the weather, according to the rising or falling of the cord. We very great scholars are not apt to wonder at this; but I observed a very honest fellow, a chanco customer, who sat in the chair before me to be shaved, fix his eye upon this miraculous performance during the operation upon his chin and face. When those and his head also were cleared of all incumbrances and excrescences, he looked at the fish, then at the fiddle, still grubbing in his pockets, and casting his eye again at the twine, and the words writ on each side; theu altered his mind as to farthings, and gave my friend a silver sixpence. The business, as I said, is to keep up the amazement; and if my friend had only the skeleton and kit, he must have been contented with a less payment. There is a doctor in Mouse Alley, near Wapping, who sets up for curing cataracts upon the credit of having, as his bill sets forth, lost an eye in the emperor's service. His patients come ju upon this, and he shews his muster-roll, which confirms that he was in his imperial majesty's troops; and he puts ont their eyes with great success. Who would believe that a man should be a doctor for the cure of bursten children, by declaring that his father and grandfather were born bursten ? But Charles Ingoltson, next door to the Harp in Barbican, has made a pretty penny by that asseveration. The generality go upon their first conception, and think no further; all the rest is granted. They take it that there is something uncommon in you, and give you credit for the rest. You may be sure it is upon that I go, when, sometimes, let it be to the purpose or not, I keep a Latin sentence in my front; and I was not a little pleased when I observed one of my readers say, casting his eye on my twentieth paper, · More Latin still? What a prodigious scholar is this man !' But as I have here taken much liberty with this learned doctor, I must make up all I have said by repeating what he seems to be in earnest in, and honestly promise to those who will not receive him as a great man, to wit, “That from eight to twelve, and from two till six, he attends for the good of the public to bleed for threepence.

Story-telling. I have often thought that a story-teller is born, as well as a poet. It is, I think, certain that some men have such a peculiar cast of mind, that they see things in another light than men of grave dispositions. Men of a lively imagination and a mirthfui temper will represent things to their hearers in the same manner as they themselves were affected with them; and whereas serious spirits might perhaps have beep disgusted at the sight of some odd occurrences in life, yet the very same occurreuces shall please them in a well-told story, where the disagreeable parts of the images are concealed, and those only which are pleasing exhibited to the fancy. Story-telling is therefore not an art, but what we call a knack;' it doth not so much subsist upon wit as upon humour; and I will add, that it is not perfect without proper gesticulations of the body, which baturally attend such merry emotions of the mind. I know very well that a certain gravity of countenance sets some stories off to advantage, where the hearer is to be surprised in the end. But this is by no means a general rule; for it is frequently convenient to aid ard assist by cheerful looks and whimsical agitations. I will go yet further, and affirm that the success of a story very often depends upon the make of the body, and the formation of the features, of him who relates it. I have been of this opinion ever since I criticised upon the chin of Dick Dewiap. I very often had the weakness to repine at the prose perity of his conceit-, wlich made him pass for a wit with the widow at the coffeehouse, and the ordinary mechanics that frequent it; nor could I myself forbear laughing at them most heartily, though nipon examination I though most of them very flat and insipid. found, after some tiine;" that the merit of his wit was founded upon the shakivg a fat paunch, and the tossing up of a pair of rosy jowls. Poor Dick had a fit of sickness, which robbed him of his fat and his fame at once! and it was full three months before he regained his reputation, which rose in proportion to his floridity. He is now very jolly and ingenious, and hath a good constitution for wit.

Those who are thus adorned with the gifts of nature, are apt to show their parts with too much ostentation. I would therefore advise all the professors of this art never to tell stories but as they seein to grow out of the subject-matter of the conversation, or as they serve to illustrate or enliven it. Stories that are very common are generally irksome; but may be aptly introduced provided they be only hinted at, and mentioned by way of allusion. Those that are altogether uew, should never be ushered in without a short and pertinent character of the chief persons concerned, because, by that means, you may make the company acquainted with them; and it is a certain rule, that slight and trivial accounts of those who are familiar to us, administer more mirth than the brightest points of wit in unkuown characters. A little circumstance in the complexion of dress of the man you are talking of, sets his image before the hearer, if it be chosen aptly for the story. Thus, I remember Tom Lizard, after having made his sisters merry with an account of a formal old man's way of complimenting, owned very frankly that his story would not have been worth one farthing, if he had made the hat of him whom he represented one inch narrower. Besides the markiug distinct characters, and selecting pertinent circumstances, it is likewise necessary to leave off in time, and end smartly; so that there is a kivd of drama in the forming of a story; and the manner of conducting and pointing it is the same as in an epigrain. It is a miserable thing, after one hath raised the expectation of the company by humorous characters and a pretty conceit, to pursue the matter too far. There is no retreating; and how poor is it for a story-teller to end bis relation by saying, “That's all !

Story of Unnion and Valentine. At the siege of Namur by the Allies, there were in the ranks of the company commauded by Captain Pincent, in Colonel Frederick Hamilton's regiment, one Unnion, a corporal, and one Valentine, a private sentinel; there happened between these two meu a dispute about a matter of love, which, upon some aggravations grew to an irreconcilable hatred. Unnion being the officer of Valentine, took all opportunities even to strike his rival, and profess the spite and revenge which moved hiin to it. The sentinel bore it without resistance, but frequently said he would die to be revenged of that tyrant. They had spent whole months thus, one injuring, the other complaining; when in the midst of this rage towards each other, they were commanded upon the attack of the castle, where the corporal received a shot in the thigh, and fell; the French pressing on, and he, expecting to be trampled to death, called out to his enemy: Ah, Valentine, can you leave me here ?' Valentine immediately ran back, and in the midst of a thick fire of the French, took the corporal upon his back, and brought him through all that danger, as far as the abbey of Salsine, where a cannon-ball took off his head: his body fell under his enemy whom he was carrying off. Unnion immediately forgot his wound, rose up, tearing his hair, and then threw himself upon the bleeding carcase, crying: 'Ah, Valentine, was it for me, who have so barbarously used thee, that thou hast died? I will not live after thec! He was not by any means to be forced from the body, but was removed with it bleeding in his arms, and attended with tears by all their comrades who knew their enmity. When he was brought to a tent his wounds were dressed by force ; but ihe next day, still calling upon Valentine, and lamenting his cruelties to him, he died in the paugs of remorse and despair.

From the essays of Addison we subjoin some extracts. We have already spoken of the prose style of Addison, and Dr. Johnson's eulogium on it has almost passed into a proverb in the history of our literature. “Whoever wishes,' says the critic and moralist, to attain an English style, faniiliar but not coarse, and elegant but not osten. tatious, must give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison.' There he will find a rich but chaste vein of hnmor and satire--lessons

« AnteriorContinuar »