Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

man often grows cruel and abandoned, when converted into an absolute prince. Give a man power of doing what he pleases with impunity, you extinguish his fear, and consequently overturn in him one of the great pillars of morality. This too we find confirmed by matter of fact. How many hopeful heirs apparent to grand empires, when in the possession of them, have become such monsters of lust and cruelty as are a reproach to human nature !

Sone tell us we ought to make our governments on earth like that in heaven, which, say they, is altogether monarchical and unlimited. Was man like his Creator in goodness and justice, I should be for allowing this great model; but where goodness and justice are not essential to the ruler, I would by no means put myself into his liands to be disposed of according to his particular will and pleasure.

It is odd to consider the connection between despotic goverument and barbarity, and how the making of one person more than man, makes the rest less. Above nine parts of the world in ten are in the lowest state of slavery, and consequently sunk in the most gross and brutal ignorance. European slavery is indeed a state of liberty, if compared with that which prevails in the other three divisions of the world; and therefore it is no wonder that those who grovel under it, have many tracks of light among them, of which the others are wholly destitute.

Riches and plenty are the natural fruits of liberty, and where these abound, learning and all the liberal arts will immediately lift up their heads and flourish. As a man must have no slavish fears and apprehensions hanging upon his mind, who will indulge the flights of fancy or speculation, and push his researches into all the abstruse corners of truth, so it is necessary for him to have about him a competency of all the conveniences of life.

The first thing every one looks after, is to provide himself with necessaries. This point will engross our thoughts until it be satisfied. If this is taken care of to our hands, we look out for pleasures and amusements; and among a great number of idle people, there will be many whose pleasures will lie in reading and contemplation. These are the two great sources of knowledge, and as men grow wise they naturally love to communicate their discoveries ; and others seeing the happiness of such a learned life, and improving by their conversation, emulate, imitate, and surpass one another, until a nation is filled with races of wise and understanding persons. Ease and plenty are therefore the great cherishers of knowledge: and as most of the despotic governments of the world have neither of them, they are naturally overrun with ignorance and barbarity. In Europe, indeed, notwithstanding several of its princes are absolute, there are men famous for knowledge and learning; but the reason is, because the subjects are many of them rich and wealthy, the prince not thinking fit to exert himself in his full tyranny like the princes of the eastern nations, lest his subjects should be invited to new-mould their constitution, having so many prospects of liberty within their view. But in all despotic governments, though a particular prince may favour arts and let ters, there is a natural degeneracy of mankind, as you may observe from Augustus's reign, how the Romans lost themselves by degrees until they fell to an equality with the most barbarous nations that surrounded them. Look upon Greece under its free states, and you would think its inhabitants lived in different climates, and under different heavens, from

those at present, so different are the geniuses which are formed under Turkish slavery, and Grecian liberty.

Besides poverty and want, there are other reasons that debase the minds of men who live under slavery, though I look on this as the principal. This natural tendency of despotic power to ignorance and barbarity, though not insisted upon by others, is, I think, an unanswerable argument against that form of government, as it shiews how repugnant it is to the good of mankind, and the perfection of human nature, which ought to be the great ends of all civil institutions.

L.

N" 286. WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30, 1711-12.'

Paror est utrique molestus.

HOR. 1 Ep. vi. 10.
Both fear alike.

[ocr errors]

MR. SPECTATOR, " When you spoke of the jilts and coquets, you then promised to be very impartial, and not to spare even your own sex, should any of their secret or open faults come under your cognizance: which has given me encouragement to describe a certain species of mankind under the denomination of male jilts. They are gentlemen who do not design to marry, yet that they may appear to have some sense of gallantry, think they must pay their devoirs to one particular fair; in order to which they single

out from amongst the herd of females her to whom they design to make their fruitless addresses. This done, they first take every opportunity of being in her company, and they never fail upon all occasions' to be particular to her, laying themselves at her feet, protesting the reality of their passion with a thousand oaths, soliciting a return, and saying as many fine things as their stock of wit will allow; and if they are not deficient that way, generally speak so as to admit of a double interpretation; which the credulous fair is too apt to turn to her own advantage, since it frequently happens to be a raw, innocent young creature, who thinks all the world as sincere as herself, and so her unwary heart becomes an easy prey to those deceitful monsters, who no sooner perceive it, but immediately they grow cool, and shun her whom they before seemed so much to admire, and proceed to act the same common-place villany towards another. A coxcomb flushed with many of these infamous victories shall say he is sorry for the poor fools, protest and vow he never thought of matrimony, and wonder talking civilly can be so strangely misinterpreted. Now, Mr. Spectator, you that are a professed friend to love, will, I hope, observe upon those who abuse that noble passion, and raise it in innocent minds by a deceitful affectation of it, after which they desert the enamoured. Pray bestow a little of your counsel on those fond believing females who already have, or are in danger of having broken hearts; in which you will oblige a great part of this town, but in a particular man, ner,

SIR,

Your (yet heart-whole) admirer,
and devoted humble servant,

MELAINIA.

Melainia's complaint is occasioned by so general a folly, that it is wonderful one could so long overlook it. But this false gallantry proceeds from an impotence of mind, which makes those who are guilty of it incapable of pursuing what they thenselves approve. Many a man wishes a woman bis wife whom he dare not take for such. Though no one has power over his inclinations or fortunes, he is a slave to common fame. For this reason, I think Melainia gives them too soft a name in that of male coquets. I know not why irresolution of mind should not be more contemptible than impotence of body; and these frivolous admirers would be but tenderly used, in being only included in the same term with the insufficient another way. They whom my correspondent calls male coquets, should hereafter be called fribblers. A fribbler is one who professes rapture and admiration for the woman to whom he addresses, and dreads nothing so much as her consent. His heart can flutter by the force of imagination, but cannot fix from the force of judgment. It is not uncommon for the parents of young women of moderate fortune to wink at the addresses of fribblers, and expose their children to the ambiguous behaviour which Melainia complains of, until by the fondness to one they are to lose, they become incapable of love towards others, and, by consequence, in their future marriage lead a joyless or a miserable life. As therefore I shall in the speculations which regard love, be as severe as I ought on jilts and libertine women, so will I be as little merciful to insignificant and mischievous men. In order to this, all visitants who frequent families wherein there are young females, are forthwith required to declare themselves, or absent from places where their presence banishes such as would pass their time more to the advantage of those whom they visit. It is a matter of too great moment

[graphic]
« AnteriorContinua »