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world. There is an allegorical fable in Plato, which seems to admonish us, that we are very little acquainted with ourselves, while we know our actions are to pass the censures of others; but, had we the power to accomplish all our wishes unobserved, we should then easily inform ourselves how far we are possessed of real and intrinsic virtue. The fable I was going to mention is that of Gyges, who is said to have had an enchanted ring, which had in it a miraculous quality, making him who wore it visible or invisible, as he turned it to or from his body. The use Gyges made of his occasional invisibility was, by the advantage of it, to violate a queen, and murder a king. Tully takes notice of this allegory, and says very handsomely, that a man of honour who had such a ring would act just in the same manner as he would do without it." It is indeed no small pitch of virtue, under the temptation of impunity, and the hopes of accomplishing all a man desires, not to transgress the rules of justice and virtue; but this is rather not being an ill man, than being positively a good one; and it seems wonderful, that so great a soul as that of Tully should not form to himself a thousand worthy actions, which a virtuous mind would be prompted to by the possession of such a secret. There are certainly some part of mankind who are guardian beings to the other. Sallust could say of Cato, That he had rather be, than appear good;' but, indeed, this eulogium rose no higher than, as I just now hinted, to an inoffensiveness, rather than an active virtue. Had it occurred to the noble orator to represent, in his language, the glorious pleasures of a man secretly employed in beneficence and generosity, it would certainly have made a more charming page than any he has now left behind him. How might a man, furnished with Gyges's secret, employ it in bringing
together distant friends; laying snares for creating good-will in the room of groundless hatred; in removing the pangs of an unjust jealousy, the shyness of an imperfect reconciliation, and the tremor of an awful love! Such a one could give confidence to bashful merit, and confusion to over-bearing impudence.
Certain it is, that secret kindnesses done to mankind are as beautiful, as secret injuries are detestable. To be invisibly good, is as godlike, as to be invisibly ill, diabolical. As degenerate as we are apt to say the age we live in is, there are still amongst us men of illustrious minds, who enjoy all the pleasures of good actions, except that of being commended for them. There happens, among others very worthy instances of a public spirit, one, which I am obliged to discover, because I know not otherwise how to obey the commands of the benefactor. A citizen of London has given directions to Mr. Rayner, the writing-master of Paul's-school, to educate at his charge ten boys, who shall be nominated by me, in writing and accompts, till they shall be fit for any trade; I desire therefore, such as know any proper objects for receiving this bounty, to give notice thereof to Mr. Morphew, or Mr. Lillie and they shall, if properly qualified, have instructions accordingly.
Actions of this kind have in them something so transcendant, that it is an injury to applaud them, and a diminution of that merit which consists in shunning our approbation. We shall therefore leave them to enjoy that glorious obscurity; and silently admire their virtue, who can contemn the most delicious of human pleasures, that of receiving due praise. Such celestial dispositions very justly suspend the discovery of their benefactions, till they come where their actions cannot be misinterpreted,
and receive their first congratulations in the company of angels.
Whereas Mr. Bickerstaff, by a letter bearing date this twenty-fourth of February, has received information, that there are in and about the RoyalExchange a sort of persons commonly known by the name of Whetters, who drink themselves into an intermediate state of being neither drunk nor sober before the hours of Exchange, or business; and in that condition buy and sell stocks, discount notes, and do many other acts of well-disposed citizens this is to give notice, that from this day forward, no Whetter shall be able to give or indorse any note, or execute any other point of commerce, after the third half-pint, before the hour of one; and whoever shall transact any matter or matters with a Whetter, not being himself of that order, shall be conducted to Moorfields upon the first application of his next a-kin.
N. B. No tavern near the 'Change shall deliver wine to such as drink at the bar standing, except the same shall be three parts of the best cyder; and the master of the house shall produce a certificate of the same from Mr. Tintoret, or some other credible wine-painter.
Whereas the model of the intended Bedlam is now finished, and that the edifice itself will be very suddenly begun; it is desired, that all such as have relations whom they would recommend to our care, would bring in their proofs with all speed, none being to be admitted, of course, but lovers, who are put into an immediate regimen. Young politicians also are received without fees or examination.
No. 139. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 1709-10.
-Nihil est, quod credere de se
Non possit, cùm laudatur Düs æqua potestas.
JUV. SAT. iv. 70.
Nothing so monstrous can be said or feign'd,
SHEER-LANE, FEBRUARY 27.
WHEN I reflect upon the many nights I have sat up for some months last past, in the greatest anxiety for the good of my neighbours and contemporaries, it is no small discouragement to me, to see how slow a progress I make in the reformation of the world. But indeed I must do my female readers the justice to own, that their tender hearts are much more susceptible of good impressions, than the minds of the other sex. Business and ambition take up men's thoughts too much to leave room for philosophy: but if you speak to women in a style and manner proper to approach them, they never fail to improve by your counsel. I shall, therefore, for the future, turn my thoughts more particularly to their service; and study the best methods to adorn their persons and inform their minds in the justest methods to make them what nature designed them, the most beauteous objects of our eyes, and the most agreeable companions of our lives. But, when I say this,
I must not omit at the same time to look into their errors and mistakes, that being the readiest way to the intended end of adorning and instructing them. It must be acknowledged, that the very inadvertencies of this sex are owing to the other; for if men were not flatterers, women could not fall into that general cause of all their follies, and our misfortunes, their love of flattery. Were the commendation of these agreeable creatures built upon its proper foundation, the higher we raised their opinion of themselves, the greater would be the advantage to our sex; but all the topic of praise is drawn from very senseless and extravagant ideas we pretend we have of their beauty and perfection. Thus, when a young man falls in love with a young woman, from that moment she is no more Mrs. Alice such-a-one, born of such a father, and educated by such a mother; but from the first minute that he casts his eye upon her with desire, he conceives a doubt in his mind, what heavenly power gave so unexpected a blow to a heart that was ever before untouched. But who can resist fate and destiny, which are lodged in Mrs. Alice's eyes? after which he desires orders accordingly, whether he is to live or die; the smile or frown of his goddess is the only thing that can now either save or destroy him. By this means, the well-humoured girl, that would have romped with him before she had received this declaration, assumes a state suitable to the majesty he has given her, and treats him as the vassal he calls himself. The girl's head is immediately turned by having the power of life and death, and takes care to suit every motion and air to her new sovereignty. After he has placed himself at this distance, he must never hope to recover his former familiarity, till she has had the addresses of another, and found them less sincere.