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jumped to the bed, and wounded her all over with as much rage as if every blow was provoked by new aggravations. In this fury of mind he fled away. His wife had still strength to go to her sister's apartment, and give her an account of this wonderful tragedy ; but died the next day. Some weeks after, an officer of justice, in attempting to seize the criminal, fired upon him, as did the èriminal
upon the officer. Both their balls took place, and both immediately expired.
No. 173. THURSDAY, MAY 18, 1710.
HOR. EP, i. 1. 41.
SHEER-LANE, MAY 17.
When I first began to learn to push, this last winter, my master had a great deal of work upon hands to make me unlearn the postures and motions which I had got, by having in my younger years practised back-sword, with a little eye to the single falchion. Knock Down, was the word in the civil wars; and we generally added to this skill the knowledge of the Cornish hug, as well as the grapple, to play with hand and foot. By this means,
was for 'defending my head when the French gentleman was making a full pass at my bosom,
349 insomuch that he told me I was fairly killed seven times in one morning, without having done my master any other mischief than one knock on the pate. This was a great misfortune to me; and I believe I may say, without vanity, I am the first who ever pushed so erroneously, and yet conquered the prejudice of education so well, as to make my passes so clear, and recover hand and foot with that agility as I do at this day. The truth of it is, the first rudiments of education are given very indiscreetly by most parents, as much with relation to the more important concerns of the mind, as in the gestures of the body. Whatever children are designed for, and whatever prospects the fortune or interest of their parents may give them in their future lives, they are all promiscuously instructed the fame way; and Horace and Virgil must be thumbed by a boy, as well before he goes to an apprenticeship
, as to the university. This ridiculous way of treating the under-aged of this island has very often raised both my spleen and mirth, but I think never both at once so much as to-day. A good mother of our neighbourhood made me a visit with her son and heir ; à lad somewhat above five foot, and wants but little of the height and strength of a good musqueteer in any regiment in the service.
Her business was to desire I would examine him ; for he was far gone in a book, the first letters of which she often saw in my papers. The youth produced it, and I found it was my friend Horace. It
was very easy to turn to the place the boy was learning in, which was the fifth Ode of the
first book, to Pyrrha. I read it over aloud, as well because I am
always delighted when I turn to the beautiful parts of that author, as also to gain time for considering child, which I thought barbarity to interrupt. In
a little how to keep up the
mother's pleasure in her
н H H
the first place I asked him, "Who this same Pyrrha was?' He answered very readily, ‘She was the wife of Pyrrhus, one of Alexander's captains.' I lifted up my hands. The mother courtsies— • Nay,' says she,— I knew you would stand in admiration-I assure you,' continued she, ‘for all he looks so tall, he is but very young. Pray ask him some more; never spare him.' With that I took the liberty to ask him, “what was the character of this gentlewoman?' He read the three first verses;
Quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa
HOR, OD, i. 5. I.
and very gravely told me, she lived at the sign of The Rose in a cellar. I took care to be
much astonished at the lad's improvements; but withal advised her, as soon as possible, to take him from school, for he could learn no more there. This very silly dialogue was a lively image of the impertinent method used in breeding boys without genius or spirit to the reading things for which their heads were never framed. But this is the natural effect of a certain vanity in the minds of parents, who are wonderfully delighted with the thought of breeding their children to accomplishments, which they believe nothing, but want of the same care in their own fathers, prevented them from being masters of. Thus it is, that the part of life most fit for improvement, is generally employed in a method against the bent of nature; and a lad of such parts as are fit for an occupation, where there can be no calls out of the beaten path, is two or three years of his time wholly taken up in knowing, how well Ovid's mistress became such a dress; how such a nymph for her cruelty was changed into such an animal; and how it is made generous in Æneas to put Turnus to death ; gallantries that can no more come within the occurrences of the lives of ordinary men, than they can be relished by their imaginations. However, still the humour goes on from one generation to another; and the pastry-cook here in the lane, the other night, told me, he would not yet take away his son from his learning; but has resolved, as soon as he had a little smattering in the Greek, to put him apprentice to a soap-boiler.' These wrong beginnings determine our success in the world; and when our thoughts are originally falsely biassed, their agility and force do but carry us the further out of our way, in proportion to our speed. But we are half way our journey, when we have got into the right road. If all our days were usefully employed, and we did not set out impertinently, we should not have so many grotesque professors in all the arts of life; but every man would be in a proper and becoming method of distinguishing or entertaining himself suitably to what nature designed him. As they go on now, our parents do not only force us upon what is against our talents, but our teachers are also as injudicious in what they put us to learn. I have hardly ever since suffered so much by the charms of any beauty, as I did before I had a sense of passion, for not apprehending that the smile of Lalage was what pleased Horace ; and I very believe, the stripes I suffered about Digito malè pertinaci has given me that irreconcileable aversion, which I shall carry to my grave, against coquettes.
As for the elegant writer of whom I am talking, his excellences are to be observed as they relate to the different concerns of his life ; and he is always to be looked upon as a lover, a courtier, or a man of wit. His admirable Odes have numberless instances of his merit in each of these characters. His Epistles and Satires are full of
notices for the conduct of life in a court; and what we call good breeding, most agreeably intermixed with his morality. His addresses to the
who favoured him, are so inimitably engaging, that Augustus complained of him for so seldom writing to him, and asked him, whether he was afraid posterity should read their names together?' Now for the generality of men to spend much time in such writings is as pleasant a folly as any he ridicules. Whatever the crowd of scholars may pretend, if their
of life, or their own imaginations, do not lead them to a taste of him, they may read, nay write, fifty volumes upon him, and be just as they were when they began. I remember to have heard a great painter say, - There are certain faces for certain painters
, as well as certain subjects for certain poets. This is as true in the choice of studies; and no one will ever relish an author thoroughly well, who would not have been fit company for that author, had they lived at the same time. All others are mechanics in learning, and take the sentiments of writers like waiting-servants who report what passed at their master's table; but debase every thought and expression, for want of the air with which they were uttered.