« PreviousContinue »
and daily occurrences. He never o'ersteps the modesty nature, nor raises merriment or wonder by the violation of truth. His figures neither divert by distortion, nor amaze by aggravation. He copies life with so much fidelity, that he can hardly be said to invent; yet his exhibitions have an air so much original, that it is difficult to suppose them not merely the product of imagination.
As a teacher of wisdom he may be confidently followed. His religion has nothing in it enthusiastic or superstitious; he appears neither weakly credulous, nor wantonly sceptical; his morality is neither dangerously lax, nor implacably rigid. All the enchantments of fancy, and all the cogency of arguments, are employed to recommend to the reader his real interest, the care of pleasing the Author of his being. Truth is shown sometimes as the phantom of a vision, sometimes appears half veiled in an allegory, sometimes attracts regard in the robes of fancy, and sometimes steps forth in the confidence of reason. She wears a thousand dresses, and in all is pleasing . His prose is the model of the middle style ; on grave subjects not formal, on light occasions not grovelling; pure without scrupulosity, and exact without apparent elaboration ; always equable, and always easy, without glowing words or pointed sentences. His page is always luminous, but never blazes in unexpected splendor. It seems to have been his principal endeavor to avoid all harshness and severity of diction; he is therefore some. times verbose in his transitions and connexions, and sometimes descends too much to the language of conver. sation ; yet, if his language had been less idiomatical, it might have lost somewhat of its genuine Anglicism. What he attempted he performed; he is never feeble, and he did not wish to be energetic; he is never rapid, and he never stagnates. His sentences have neither studied amplitude nor affected brevity, his periods, though not ditigently rounded, are voluble and easy. Whoever wishes to attain an English style, familiar but not coarse, and elegant but not ostentatious, maust give his days and nights of the volumes of Addison.
IV.- Pleasure and Pain.-SPECTATOR. ITTHERE were two families, which, from the begin.
L ning of the world, were as opposite to each other as light and darkness. The one of them lived in heaven, and the other in hell. The youngest descendant of the first family was Pleasure, who was the daughter of Happiness, who was the child of Virtue, who was the offspring of the Gods. These, as I said before, had their habitation in heaven. The youngest of the opposite family was Pain, who was the son of Misery, who was tbe child of Vice, who was the offspring of the Furies. The habitation of this race of beings was in hell.
The middle station of nature between these two opposite extremes was the earth, which was inhabited by creatures of a middle kind; neither so virtuous as the one por so vicious as the other, but partaking of the good and bad qualities of those two opposite families.Jupiter, considering that this species, commonly called MAN, was too virtuous to be miserable and too vicious to be happy, that he might make a distinction between the good and the bad, ordered the two youngest of the abovementioned families (Pleasure, who was the daughter of Happiness, and Pain, who was the son of Misery) to meet one another upon this part of nature which lay in the half way between them, having promised to settle it upon them both, provided they could agree upon the division of it, so as to share mankind between them.
Pleasure and Pain were no sooner met in their new habitation, but they immediately agreed upon this point, that Pleasure should take possession of the virtuous, and Pain of the vicious part of that species which was given up to them. But upon examining to which of them any individual they met with belonged, they found each of them had a right to him ; for that, contrary to what they had seen in their old place of residence, there was no person so vicious who had not some good in him, nor any person so virtuous who bad not in him some evil. - The truth of it is, they generally found, upon search, that in the most vicious man Pleasure might lay claim to an hun. dredth part, and that in the most virtuous man Paip might some in for at least two thirds. This they saw would occasion endless disputes between them, unless they
could come to some accommodation. To this end, the was a marriage proposed between them, and at length concluded. Hence it is that we find Pleasure and Pain are such constant yoke fellows, and that they either make their visits together, or are never far asunder. If Pain comes into a heart, he is quickly followed by Pleasure; and if Pleasure enters, you may be sure Pain is not far off.
But notwithstanding this marriage was very convenjent for the two parties, it did not seem to answer the intention of Jupiter in sending them among mankind. To remedy, therefore, this inconvenience, it was stipulated between them by article, and confirmed by the consept of each family, that notwithstanding they here possessed the species indifferently, upon the death of every single person, if he was found to have in him a certain proportion of evil, he should be dispatched into the internal regions by a passport from Pain, there to dwell with Misery, Vice and the Furies; or, on the contrary, if he had in him a certain proportion of good, he should be dispatched into heaven, by a passport from Pleasure, there to dwell with Happiness, Virtue and the Gods.
V.-Sir Roger de Coverty's Family.- B. TTAVING often received an invitation from my friend
Sir Roger de Coveriy to pass away a month with him in the country, I last week accompanied him thither, and am settled with him for some time at his coun. try-house, where I iniend to form several of my ensuing speculations. Sir Roger, who is very well acquainted with my humor, lets me rise and go to bed when I please, dine at his own table or in my chamber, as I think fit, sit still and say nothing, without bidding me be merry. When the genilemen of the country come to see him, he only shews me at a distance. As I have been walking in the fields, I have observed them stealing a sight of me over an hedge, and have heard the knight desiring them not to let me see them, for that I hated to be stared at.
I am the more at ease in Sir Roger's family, because it consists of sober and staid persons; for as the knigbt is the best master in the world, he seldom changes his seryapts ; and as he is beloved by all about him, his servants
never care for leaving him; by this means his domestics are all in years and grown old with their master. You would take his valet de chambre for his brother; his butler is gray headed, his groom is one of the gravest men I have ever seen, and his coachman has the looks of a privy counsellor. You see the goodness of the master even in the old house dog, and in a gray pad that is kept in the stable with great care and tenderness, out of regard to his past services, though he has been useless for several years. . I could not but observe, with a great deal of pleasure, the joy that appeared in the countenances of these an. cient domestics, upon my friend's arrival at his country seat. Some of them could not refrain from tears at the sigbt of their old master; every one of them pressed forward to do something for him, and seemed discouraged if they were not employed. At the same time, the good old knight, with the mixture of the father and the mas. ter of the family, tempered the enquiries after his own affairs with several kind questions relating to themselves. This humanity and good nature engages every body to him; so that when he is pleasant upon any of them, all his family are in good humor, and none so much as the person whom he diverts himself with; on the contrary, if he coughs, or betrays any infirmity of old age, it is easy for a stander-by to observe a secret concern in the looks of all his servants.
My worthy friend has put me under the particular care of his butler, who is a very prudent man, and, as well as the rest of his fellow servants, wonderfully desirous of pleasing me, because they have often heard their master talk of me as his particular friends
My chief companion, when Sir Roger is diverting himself in the woods or in the fields, is a very penerable man who is ever with Sir Roger, and has lived at his house in ibe nature of a chaplain, above thirty years. This gentleman is a person of good sense and some learning, of a very regular life and obliging conversation; he heartily Joves Sir Roger, and knows that he is very much in the old knight's esteem ; so that he lives in the family rath: er as a relation than a dependant.
I have observed in several of my papers, that my friend Sir Roger, amidst all his good qualities, is something of an humorist; and that his virtues, as well as imperfections, are, as it were, tinged by a certain extravagance, which makes them particularly his, and distinguishes them from those of other men. This cast of mind, as it is generally very innocent in itself, so it renders his conversation highly agreeable, and more delightful than the same degree of sense and virtue would appear in their common ordinary colors. - As I was walking with him last night, he asked me how I liked the good man whom I have just now mentioned ; and with. out staying for my answer, told me that he was afraid of being insulted with Latin and Greek at his own table; for which reason he desired a particular friend of his at the university, to find him out a clergyman rather of pain sense than much learning, of a good aspect, a clear voice, a sociable temper; and, if possible, a man who understood a little back gammon. --My friend, says Sir Roger, found me out this gentleman ; who, besides the endowments required of him, is, they tell me, a good scholar, though he does not show it. I have given him the parsonage of the parish; and because I know his value, have settled upon him a good annuity for life. If he outlives me, be shall find that he was higher in my esteem than perbaps he thinks he is. He has now been with me thirty years; and though he does not know I have taken notice of it, has never, in all that time, asked any thung of me for himself, though he is every day soliciting me for something in behalf of one or other of my tenants, his parishioners. There has not been a lawsuit in the parish since he has lived among them. If any dispute arises, they apply themselves to him for the decision; if they do not acquiesce in his judgment, which I think Dever happened above once or twice at most, they appeal to me. At his first settling with me, I made him a present of all the good sermons which have been printed in English; and only begged of him that every Sunday he would pronounce one of them in the pulpit. Accordingly he has digested them into such a series, that they follow one another naturally, and make a continued system of practical divinity.