Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

soul, is so far from deserving to be treated with no worse character than that of a kind woman, which is, doubtless, Mr. Courtly's meaning, (if he has any) that one can scarce be too severe on her, inasmuch as she sins against greater restraints, is less exposed, and liable to fewer temptations, than beauty in poverty and distress. It is hoped, therefore, sir, that you will not lay aside your generous design of exposing that monstrous wickedness of the town, whereby a multitude of innocents are sacrificed in a more barbarous manner than those who were offered to Moloch. The unchaste are provoked to see their vice exposed, and the chaste cannot rake into such filth without danger of defilement, but a mere spectator may look into the bottom, and come off without partaking in the guilt. The doing so will convince us you pursue public good, and not merely your own advantage; but if your zeal slackens, how can one help thinking that Mr. Courtly's letter is but a feint to get off from a subject, in which either your own, or the private and base ends of others to whom you are partial, or those of whom you are afraid, would not endure a reformation ?

I am, SIR,
Your humble servant and admirer, so long

as you tread in the paths of truth, virtue,
and honour.'

Trin. Coll. Cantab. Jan. 12, 1711-12.

MR. SPECTATOR,
It is
my

fortune to have a chamber-fellow, with whom, though I agree very well in many sentiments, yet there is one in which we are as contrary as light and darkness. We are both in love. His mistress is a lovely fair, and mine a lovely brown. Now as the praise of our mistresses' beauty employs

much of our time, we have frequent quarrels in entering upon that subject, while each says all he can to defend his choice. For my own part, I have racked my fancy to the utmost; and sometimes with the greatest warmth of imagination have told him, that night was made before day, and many more fine things, though without any effect; nay, last night I could not forbear saying with more heat than judgment, that the devil ought to be painted white. Now my desire is, sir, that you would be pleased to give us in black and whịte your opinion in the matter of dispute between us : which will either furnish me with fresh and prevailing arguments to maintain my own taste, or make me with less repining allow that of my

chambertellow. I know very well that I have Jack Cleveland * and Bond's Horace on my side; but then he has such a band of rhymers and romance-writers, with which he opposes me, and is so continually chiming to the tune of golden tresses, yellow locks, milk, marble, ivory, silver, swans, snow, daisies, doves, and the lord knows what; which he is always sounding with. so much vehemence in my ears, that he often puts me into a brown study how to answer him; and I find that I am in a fair way to be quite confounded, without your timely assistance afforded to,

SIR,

Your humble servant, Z.

PHILOBRUNE.'

* See Poems by J. Cleveland, 1653, 24mo. The Senses Festival, p. 1.

[blocks in formation]

N° 287. TUESDAY, JANUARY 29, 1711-12.

Ω φιλάτη γη μητερ, ως σεμνόν σφόδρ' ει
Tois võv & X 807 xlöpa;

MENAND.

Dear native land, how do the good and wise
Thy happy clime and.countless blessings prize!

I LOOK upon it as a peculiar happiness, that were I to choose of what religion I would be, and under what government I would live, I should most certainly give the preference to that form of religion and government which is established in my own country. In this point I think I am determined by reason and conviction ; but if I shall be told that I am acted by prejudice, I am sure it is an honest prejudice; it is a prejudice that arises from the love of my country, and therefore such an one as I will always indulge. I have in several papers endeavoured to express my duty and esteem for the church of England, and design this as an essay upon the civil part of our constitution, having often entertained myself with reflections on this subject, which I have not met with in other writers.

That form of government appears to me the most reasonable, which is most conformable to the equality that we find in human nature, provided it be consistent with public peace and tranquillity. This is what may properly be called liberty, which exempts one man from subjection to another, so far as the order and economy of government will permit.

Liberty should reach every individual of a people, as they all share one common nature; if it only

[ocr errors]

spreads among particular branches, there had better be none at all, since such a liberty only aggravates the misfortune of those who are deprived of it, by setting before them a disagreeable subject of comparison.

This liberty is best preserved, where the legislative power is lodged in several persons, especially if those persons are of different ranks and interests; for where they are of the same rank, and consequently have an interest to manage peculiar to that rank, 'it differs but little from a despotical government in a single person. But the greatest security a people can have for their liberty, is when the legislative power is in the hands of persons so happily distinguished, that by providing for the particular interests of their several ranks, they are providing for the whole body of the people ; or in other words, when there no part of the people that has not a .common interest with at least one part of the legislators.

If there be but one body of legislators, it is no better than a tyranny; if there are only two, there will want a casting voice, and one of them must at length be swallowed up by disputes and contentions that will necessarily arise between them. Four would have the same inconvenience as two, and a greater number would cause too much confusion. I could never read a passage in Polybius and another in Cicero to this purpose without a secret pleasure in applying it to the English constitution, which it suits much better than the Roman. Both these great authors give the pre-eminence to a mixt government, consisting of three branches, the regal, the noble, and the popular. They had doubtless in their thoughts the constitution of the Roman commonwealth, in which the consul represented the kivg, the senate the nobles, and the tribunes the people. This division of the three powers in the Roman constitution was by no means so distinct and natural, as it is in the English form of government. Among several objections that might be made to it, I think the chief are those that affect the consular power, which had only the ornaments without the force of the regal authority. Their number had not a casting voice in it; for which reason, if one did not chance to be employed abroad, while the other sat at home, the public business was sometimes at a stand, while the consuls pulled two different ways in it. Besides, I do not find that the cousuls had ever a negative voice in the passing of a law, or decree of the senate; so that indeed they were rather the chief body of the nobility, or the first ministers of state, than a distinct branch of the sovereignty, in which none can be looked upon as a part, who are not a part of the legislature. Had the consuls been invested with the regal authority to as great a degree as our monarchs, there would never have been any occasions for a dictatorship, which had in it the power of all the three orders, and ended in the subversion of the whole constitution.

Such an history as that of Suetonius, which gives us a succession of absolute princes, is to me an unanswerable argument against despotic power. Where the prince is a man of wisdom and virtue, it is indeed happy for his people that he is absolute; but since in the common run of mankind, for one that is wise and good you find ten of a contrary character, it is very dangerous for a nation to stand to its chance, or to have its public happiness or misery depend on the virtue or vices of a single person.

Look into the history I have mentioned, or into any series of absolute princes, how many tyrants must you read through, before you come to an emperor that is supportable. But this is not all; an honest private

« AnteriorContinua »