Imatges de pàgina

who otherwise discover no manner of relish of any thing above mere sensuality. These latter it sometimes improves, but always debases the former. A fool is in himself the object of pity, till he is flattered. By the force of that, his stupidity is raised into affectation, and he becomes of dignity enough to be ridiculous. I remember a droll, that upon one's saying, · The times are so ticklish, that there must great care be taken what one says in conversation;' answered with an air of surliness and honesty, • If people will be free, let them be so in the manner that I am, who never abuse a man but to his face.' He had no reputation for saying dangerous truths; therefore when it was repeated, “You abuse a man but to his face ?' 'Yes,' says he, “I flatter him.'

It is indeed the greatest of injuries to flatter any but the unhappy, or such as are displeased with themselves for some infirmity. In this latter case we have a member of our club, that, when Sir Jeffery falls asleep, wakens him with snoring. This makes Sir Jeffery hold up

for some moments the longer, to see there are men younger than himself amongst us, who are more lethargic than he is.

When flattery is practised upon any other consideration, it is the most abject thing in nature; nay, I cannot think of any character below the flatterer, except he that envies him. You meet with fellows, prepared to be as mean as possible in their condescensions and expressions; but they want persons and talents to rise up to such a baseness. As a coxcomb is a fool of parts, so is a flatterer a knave of parts.

The best of this order that I know, is one who disguises it under a spirit of contradiction or reproof. He told an arrant driveller the other day, that he did not care for being in company with him, because he heard he turned his absent friends into ridicule. And upon lady Autumn's disputing with him about something that happened at the Revolution, he replied with a very angry tone, Pray, Madam, give me leave to know more of a thing in which I was actually concerned, than you who were then in your nurse's arms.'

No. 209. THURSDAY, AUGUST 10, 1710.

FROM MY OWN APARTMENT, AUGUST 9. A NOBLE painter, who has an ambition to draw a history piece, has desired of me to give him a subject, on which he may show the utmost force of his art and genius. For this purpose I have pitched upon that remarkable incident between Alexander the Great and his Physician. This prince, in the midst of his conquests in Persia, was seized by a violent fever; and, according to the account we have of his vast mind, his thoughts were more employed about his recovery, as it regarded the war, than as it concerned his own life. He professed, a slow method was worse than death to him; because it was, what he more dreaded, an interruption of his glory. He desired a dangerous, so it might be a speedy remedy. During this impatience of the king it is well known that Darius had offered an immense sum to any who should take away his life. But Philippus, the mest esteemed and most knowing of his physicians,

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promised, that within three days time he would prepare a medicine for him, which would restore him more expeditiously than could be imagined. Immediately after this engagement, Alexander receives a letter from the most considerable of his captains, with intelligence that Darius had bribed Philippus to poison him. Every circumstance imaginable favoured this suspicion ; but this monarch, who did nothing but in an extraordinary manner, concealed the letter ; and, while the medicine was preparing, spent all his thoughts upon his behaviour in this important incident. From his long soliloquy, he came to this resolution : · Alexander must not lie here alive to be oppressed by his enemy. I will not believe my physician guilty; or, I will perish rather by his guilt, than my own diffidence.'

At the appointed hour, Philippus enters with the potion. One cannot but form to one's self on this occasion the encounter of their eyes, the resolution in those of the patient, and the benevolence in the countenance of the physician. The hero raised himself in his bed, and holding the letter in one hand, and the potion in the other, drank the medicine. It will exercise my friend's pencil and brain to place this action in its proper beauty. A prince observing the features of a suspected traitor, after having drank the poison he offered him, is a circumstance so full of passion, that it will require the highest strength of his imagination to conceive it, much more to express it. But as painting is eloquence and poetry in mechanism, I shall raise his ideas by reading with him the finest draughts of the passions concerned in this circumstance, from the most excellent poets and orators. The confidence, which Alexander assumes from the air of Philippus's face as he is reading his accusation, and the generous disdain which is to rise in the features of a falsely accused man, are principally to be regarded. In this particular he must heighten his thoughts, by reflecting, that he is not drawing only an innocent man traduced, but a man zealously affected to his person and safety, full of resentment for being thought false. How shall we contrive to express the highest admiration, mingled with disdain ? How shall we in strokes of a pencil say, what Philippus did to his prince on this occasion? Sir, my life never depended on yours more than it does now.

Without knowing this secret, I prepared the potion, which you have taken as what concerned Philippus no less than Alexander; and there is nothing new in this adventure, but that it makes me still more admire the generosity and confidence of my master. Alexander took him by the hand, and said, Philippus, I am confident you had rather I had any other way to have manifested the faith I have in

you, than a case which so nearly concerns me: and in gratitude I now assure you,

I anxious for the effect of your medicine, more for your sake than my own.'

My painter is employed by a man of sense and wealth to furnish him a gallery; and I shall join with my friend in the designing part. It is the great use of pictures, to raise in our minds either agreeable ideas of our absent friends, or high images of eminent personages. But the latter design is, methinks, carried on in a very improper way; for to fill a room full of battle-pieces, pompous histories of sieges, and a tall hero alone in a crowd of insignificant figures about him, is of no consequence to pri

But to place before our eyes great and illustrious men in those parts and circumstances of life, wherein their behaviour may have an effect upon our minds; as being such as we partake with


vate men.

them merely as they were men: such as these, I say, may be just and useful ornaments of an elegant apartment. In this collection, therefore, that we are making, we will not have the battles, but the sentiments of Alexander. The affair we were just now talking of has circumstances of the highest nature; and yet their grandeur has little to do with his fortune. If, by observing such a piece, as that of his taking a bowl of poison with so much magnanimity, a man, the next time he has a fit of the spleen, is less froward to his friend or his servants; thus far is some improvement.

I have frequently thought, that if we had many draughts which were historical of certain passions, and had the true figure of the great men we see transported by them, it would be of the most solid advantage imaginable. To consider this mighty man on one occasion, administering to the wants

of a poor soldier benumbed with cold, with the greatest humanity; at another, barbarously stabbing a faithful officer: at one time, so generously chaste and virtuous as to give his captive, Statira, her liberty ; at another, burning a town at the instigation of Thaïs. This sort of changes in the same person are what would be more beneficial lessons of morality, than the several revolutions in a great man's fortune. There are but one or two in an age, to whom the pompous incidents of his life can be exemplary ; but I, or any man, may be as sick, as good-natured, as compassionate, and as angry, as Alexander the Great. My purpose in all this chat, is, that so excellent a furniture may not for the future have so romantic a turn, but allude to incidents which come within the fortunes of the ordinary race of men. I do not know but it is by the force of this senseless custom, that people are drawn in postures they

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