« AnteriorContinua »
see the absurdity of Pride, when it enters into the heart of a cobler; though in reality it is altogether as ridiculous and unreasonable, wherever it takes possession of an human creature. There is no temptation to it from the reflection upon our being in general, or upon any comparative perfection, whereby one man may excel another. The greater a man's knowledge is, the greater motive he may seem to have for Pride; but in the same proportion as the one rises, the other sinks, it being the chief office of wisdom to discover to us our weaknesses and imperfections.
As folly is the foundation of Pride, the natural superstructure of it is madness. If there was an occasion for the experiment, I would not question to make a proud man a lunatic in three weeks time: provided I had it in my power to ripen his phrenzy with proper applications. It is an admirable reflection in Terence, where it is said of a parasite, Hic homines ex stultis facit insanos. “ This fellow,” says he, “ has an art of converting fools into madmen. When I was in France, the region of complaisance and vanity, I have often observed, that a great man who has entered a levee of flatterers humble and temperate, has grown so insensibly heated by the court which was paid him on all sides, that he has been quite distracted before he could get into his coach.
If we consult the collegiates of Moorfields, we shall find most of them are beholden to their Pride for their introduction into that magnificent palace. I had, some years ago, the curiosity to inquire into the particular circumstances of these whimsical freeholders; and learned from their own mouths the condition and character of each of them. Indeed I found, that all I spoke to were persons of quality, There were at that time five duchesses, three earls, two heathen gods, an emperor, and a prophet
There were also a great number of such as were locked
up from their estates, and others who concealed their titles. A leatherseller of Taunton whispered me in the ear, that he was “ the duke of Monmouth:” but begged me not to betray him. At a little distance from him sat a tailor's wife, who asked me, as I went, if I had seen the swordbearer ? upon which I presumed to ask her, who she was? and was answered, “ My Lady Mayoress."
I was very sensibly touched with compassion towards these miserable people: and, indeed, extremely mortified to see human nature capable of being thus disfigured. However, I reaped this benefit from it, that I was resolved to guard myself against a passion which makes such havoc in the brain, and produces so much disorder in the imagination. For this reason I have endeavoured to keep down the secret swellings of resentment, and stifle
first suggestions of self-esteem; to establish my mind in tranquillity, and over-value nothing in my own or in another's possession.
For the benefit of such whose heads are a little turned, though not to so great a degree as to qualify them for the place of which I have been now speaking, I shall assign one of the sides of the college which I am erecting, for the cure of this dangerous distemper
The most remarkable of the persons, whose disturbance arises from Pride, and whom I shall use all possible diligence to cure, are such as are hidden in the appearance of quite contrary habits and dispositions. Among such, I shall, in the first place, take care of one who is under the most subtle species of Pride that I have observed in my whole experience.
This patient is a person for whom I have a great respect, as being an old courtier, and a friend of mine in my youth. The man has but a bare subsis
and tell me,
tence, just enough to pay his reckoning with us at the Trumpet : but by having spent the beginning of his life in the hearing of great men, and persons of power, he is always promising to do good offices, to introduce every man he converses with into the world; will desire one of ten times his substance to let him see him sometimes, and hints to him, that he does not forget him. He answers to matters of no consequence with great circumspection; but, however, maintains a general civility in his words and actions, and an insolent benevolence to all whom he has to do with. This he practices with a grave tone and air; and though I am his senior by twelve years, and richer by forty pounds per annum, he had yesterday the impudence to commend me to my face,
" he should be always ready to encourage me.” In a word, he is a very insignificant fellow, but exceeding gracious. The best return I can make him for his favours is, to carry him
myself to Bedlam, and see him well taken care of.
The next person I shall provide for is of a quite contrary character: that has in him all the stiffness and insolence of quality, without a grain of sense or good-nature, to make it either respected or beloved. His Pride has infected every muscle of his face : and yet, after all his endeavours to show mankind that he contemns them, he is only neglected by all that see him, as not of consequence enough to be hated.
For the cure of this particular sort of madness, it will be necessary to break through all forms with him, and familiarize his carriage by the use of a good cudgel. It may likewise be of great benefit to make him jump over a stick half a dozen times every morning. A third whom I have in my eye, is a young
fellow, whose lunacy is such, that he boasts of nothing but what he ought to be ashamed of. He is vain
being rotten, and talks publicly of having committed crimes which he ought to be hanged for by the laws of his country.
There are several others whose brains are hurt with Pride, and whom I may hereafter attempt to recover ; but shall conclude my present list with an old woman, who is just dropping into her grave, that talks of nothing but her birth. Though she has not a tooth in her head, she expects to be valued for the blood in her veins; which she fancies is much better than that which glows in the cheeks of Belinda, and sets half the town on, fire.
N°128. THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2,1709-10.
---Veniunt a dote sagittæ.
Juv. Sat. vi. 138.
HUDIBRAS, Part I. Canto iii. 1. 311.
From my own Apartment, February 1. This morning I received a letter from a fortunehunter, which being better in its kind than men of that character usually write, I have thought fit to communicate to the public.
6. To ISAAC BICKERSTAFF, Esq.
I take the boldness to recommend to your care the inclosed letter, not knowing how to communicate it, but by your means, agreeable country
mention with so much honour in your discourse concerning the lottery.
“ I should be ashamed to give you this trouble without offering at some small requital: I shall therefore direct a new pair of globes and a telescope of the best maker, to be left for you at Mr. Morphew's, as a testimony of the great respect with which I am,
Your most humble servant, &c."
“ To Mopsa, in Sheer-lane. “ Fairest Unknown,
Jan. 27, 1709-10. “ It being discovered by the stars, that about three months hence you will run the hazard of being persecuted by many worthless pretenders of your person, unless timely prevented; I now offer my service for your security against the persecution that threatens you. This is therefore to let you know, that I have conceived a most extraordinary passion for you; and that for several days I have been perpetually haunted with the vision of a person I have never yet seen. To satisfy you that I am in my senses, and that I do not mistake you
for any one of higher rank, I assure you, that in your daily employment you appear to my imagination more agreeable in a short scanty petticoat, than the finest woman of quality in her spreading fardingal; and that the dexterous twirl of your mop has more native charms, than the studied airs of a lady's fan. In a word, I am captivated with your menial qualifications: the domestic virtues adorn
like attendant Cupids; cleanliness and healthful industry wait on all
motions; and dust and cobwebs fly your approach.
“ Now, to give you an honest account of myself, and that you may see my designs are honourable, am an esquire of an antient family, born to al