Page images

assured that he neglected none of those arts on this occasion, that he employed so successfully on others. The struggle was great, but Demosthenes prevailed, and the Thebans engaged in the war against Philip.


479. A French author I was reading last night says: He that has written will write again. If the critics do not set their foot upon this first egg that I have laid and crush it, I shall probably verify this observation; and when I feel my spirits rise, and that I am armed with industry sufficient for the purpose, undertake the production of another volume. At present, however, I do not feel myself so disposed; and, indeed, he that would write should read, not that he may retail the observations of other men, but that, being thus refreshed and replenished, he may find himself in a condition to make and to produce his own. I reckon it among my principal advantages, as a composer of verses, that I have not read an English poet these thirteen years, and but one these twenty years. Imitation, even of the best models, is my aversion; it is servile and mechanical, a trick that has enabled many to usurp the name of author, who could not have written at all, if they had not written upon the pattern of somebody indeed original. But when the ear and taste have been much accustomed to the manner of others, it is almost impossible to avoid it; and we imitate in spite of ourselves, just in proportion as we admire. But enough of this. Your mother, who is as well as the season of the year will permit, desires me to add her love. The salmon you sent us arrived safe and was remarkably fresh. What a comfort it is to have a friend who knows that we love salmon, and who cannot pass by a fishmonger's shop without finding his desire to send us some a temptation too strong to be resisted!


480. CARE TO BE EXERCISED BY THE PEOPLE IN THE DELEGATION OF POWER. When the people have emptied themselves of all the lust of selfish will, which without religion it is utterly impossible they ever should, when they are conscious that they exercise, and exercise perhaps in a higher link of the order of delegation, the power, which to be legitimate must be according to that eternal, immutable law, in which will and reason are the same,

they will be more careful how they place power in base and incapable hands. In their nomination to office, they will not appoint to the exercise of authority, as to a pitiful job, but as to a holy function; not according to their sordid, selfish interest, nor to their wanton caprice, nor to their arbitrary will; but they will confer that power (which any man may well tremble to give or to receive) on those only, in whom they may discern that predominant proportion of active virtue and wisdom, taken together and fitted to the charge, such, as in the great and inevitable mixed mass of human imperfections and infirmities, is to be found.


481. As I was yesterday taking the air with my friend Sir Roger, we were met by a fresh-coloured ruddy young man, who rid by us at full speed, with a couple of servants behind him. Upon my inquiry who he was, Sir Roger told me that he was a young gentleman of a considerable estate, who had been educated by a tender mother that lived not many miles from the place where we were. She is a very good lady, says my friend, but took so much care of her son's health that she has made him good for nothing. She quickly found that reading was bad for his eyes, and that writing made his head ache. He was let loose among the woods as soon as he was able to ride on horseback, or to carry a gun upon his shoulder. To be brief, I found, by my friend's account of him, that he had got a great stock of health, but nothing else; and that if it were a man's business only to live, there would not be a more accomplished young fellow in the whole country. J. ADDISON

482. THE FOLLY AND INCONSISTENCY OF WORLDLINGS. Certainly, these wise worldlings have either found out a new god; or have made one: and in all likelihood such a leaden one, as Louis the Eleventh ware in his cap; which, when he had caused any that he feared, or hated, to be killed, he would take it from his head and kiss it: beseeching it to pardon him this one evil act more, and it should be the last; which, (as at other times) he did, when by the practice of a cardinal and a falsified sacrament, he caused the Earl of Armagnack to be stabbed to death; mockeries indeed fit to be used towards a leaden, but not towards the ever-living God. But of this composition are all the devout lovers of the

world, that they fear all that is dureless and ridiculous: they fear the plots and practices of their opposites, and their very whisperings: they fear the opinions of men which beat but upon shadows: they flatter and forsake the prosperous and unprosperous, be they friends or kings: yea, they dive under water, like ducks, at every pebble-stone that's but thrown towards them by a powerful hand: and on the contrary, they shew an obstinate and giant-like valour, against the terrible judgments of the all-powerful God.




His public conduct was such as was to be expected from a man of a spirit so high and of an intellect so powerful. He lived at one of the most memorable eras in the history of mankind, at the very crisis of the great conflict between Oromasdes and Arimanes, liberty and despotism, reason and prejudice. That great battle was fought for no single generation, for no single land. The destinies of the human race were staked on the same cast with the freedom

of the English people. Then were first proclaimed those mighty principles which have since worked their way into the depths of the American forests, which have roused Greece from the slavery and degradation of two thousand years, and which, from one end of Europe to the other, have kindled an unquenchable fire in the hearts of the oppressed, and loosed the knees of the oppressors with a strange and unwonted fear.


484. PUBLIUS SCIPIO AFRICANUS ACCUSED OF BRIBERY BY TWO TRIBUNES. P. Scipio the African, with whom they began, could not endure that such unworthy men should question him of purloining from the common treasury or of being hired with bribes by Antiochus to make an ill bargain for his country. When therefore his day of answer came, he appeared before the tribunes, not humbly as one accused, but followed by a great train of his friends and clients, with which he passed through the midst of the assembly, and offered himself to speak. Having audience he told the people, that upon the same day of the year he had fought a great battle with Hannibal, and finished the Punic war by a signal victory. In memory whereof he thought it no fit season to brabble at the law, but intended to visit the Capitol, and there give thanks to Jupiter and the rest of the gods, by whose grace

both at that day and at other times, he had well and happily discharged the most weighty business of the commonwealth. And hereto he invited with him all the citizens.


485. To diet a man into weakness and languor, afterwards to give him the greater strength, has more of the empiric than the rational physician. It is true that some persons have been kicked into courage; and this is no bad hint to give to those who are too forward and liberal in bestowing insults and outrages on their passive companions. But such

a course does not at first view appear a well-chosen discipline to form men to a nice sense of honour, or a quick resentment of injuries. A long habit of humiliation does not seem a very good preparative to manly and vigorous sentiment. It may not leave, perhaps, enough of energy in the mind fairly to discern what are good terms and what are not. Men low and dispirited may regard those terms as not at all amiss, which in another state of mind they would think intolerable: if they grow peevish in this state of mind, they may be roused, not against the enemy whom they have been taught to fear, but against the ministry, who are more within their reach, and who have refused conditions that are not unreasonable from power that they have been taught to consider as irresistible.


486. THE NORMAN CONQUEST. The English were now sensible that their final destruction was intended, and that instead of a sovereign whom they had hoped to gain by their submission, they had tamely surrendered themselves, without resistance, to a tyrant and a conqueror. Though the early confiscation of Harold's followers might seem iniquitous, being inflicted on men who had never sworn fealty to the Duke of Normandy, who were ignorant of his pretensions, and who only fought in defence of the government which they themselves had established in their own country; yet were these rigours, however contrary to the ancient Saxon laws, excused on account of the u gent necessities of the prince, and those who were not involved in the present ruin hoped that they should thenceforth enjoy without molestation their possessions and dignities. But the successive destruction of so many other families convinced them that the king intended to rely entirely

on the support and affections of foreigners, and they foresaw new acts of violence as the necessary result. Impressed with the sense of this dismal situation, many Englishmen fled into foreign countries with an intention of passing their lives abroad free from oppression, or of returning on a favourable opportunity to assist their friends in the recovery of their native liberties.


487. SELF-DENIAL FOR THE SAKE OF POSTERITY—A DUTY. The benevolent regards and purposes of men in masses seldom can be supposed to extend beyond their own generation. They may look to posterity as an audience, may hope for its attention, and labour for its praise: they may trust to its recognition of unacknowledged merit, and demand its justice for contemporary wrong. But all this is mere selfishness, and does not involve the slightest regard to, or consideration of, the interest of those, by whose numbers we would fain swell the circle of our flatterers, and by whose authority we would gladly support our presently disputed claims. The idea of self-denial for the sake of posterity, of practising present economy for the sake of debtors yet unborn, of planting forests that our descendants may live under their shade, or of raising cities for future nations to inhabit, never, I suppose, efficiently takes place among publicly recognised motives of exertion. Yet these are not the less our duties: nor is our part fitly sustained upon the earth, unless the range of our intended and deliberate usefulness include, not only the companions, but the successors, of our pilgrimage. God has lent us the earth for our life; it is a great entail. It belongs as much to those who come after us, and whose names are already written in the book of creation, as to us; and we have no right, by any thing that we do or neglect, to involve them in unnecessary penalties, or deprive them of benefits which it was in our power to bequeath.

488. THE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA BY COLUMBUS. The two great islands of the Old and New World being (in the shape and making of them) broad towards the north and pointed towards the south; it is likely, that the discovery first began where the lands did nearest meet. And there had been before that time a discovery of some lands, which they took to be islands, and were indeed the

« PreviousContinue »