« AnteriorContinuar »
MONGST other maxims which moral
philofophy has revealed, and which moral writers have rendered common, is that which says, every age has virtues and vices peculiar to itself. It is equally true, that amongst those virtues and vices, there is usually one which has the predominance, and if I were asked, which is the most prevailing vice of the present day, I should say, contempt of reputation.
When men are inclined to give criminal indulgence to their passions, and to relift the struggles of conscience, the fear of public shame sometimes operates more strongly than the voice of duty, and prevents the commission of crimes, prompted by passion, and seconded by inclination ; and this actuating fear will always be proportionable to the public virtue of the times ; for when vice has gained the ascendant, and usurped the authority of virtue, the fear of public shame will be annihilated; and those men who always act in conformity to prevailing principles, and who always bow to the deity of the day, will readily subfcribe to the pre-eminence of vice over virtue, and to opinions which flatter their inclinations.
Thus duelling, though a crime of the highest magnitude, has, time immemorial, been meta, morphosed into heroism; and there are, comparatively, few men who would not be more ashamed of refusing a challenge than of killing
There was a time when a contempt of reputation pervaded only fuch of the nobility as held the doctrine, that the possession of riches is a li. cence for all things ; and the influence of their example was confined to a few. I remember some years ago adultery was deemed infamous, and the seducer of female innocence was branded as a villain; whereas these are no longer crimes in the estimation of men whose example influences the million; and compliments rather than reproaches are bestowed on characters, which formerly would have been hooted out of society. Thus, the corruption which once deformed the body politic by spots, now pervades the whole mass, and not a single limb escapes contagion,
This universal change of sentiment and of manners is, ultimately, to be attributed to a dereli&tion of those religious principles which, heretofore, regulated the conduct of human life, and sorry I am to say that the cause of that dereliction is to be ascribed to men who, in some respects, were ornaments to society : to the cloud of infidel writers which of late years has darkened the horizon of literature, and endeavoured to obstruct that light which was ordained to illumine the world. The labours of a BOLINGBROOKE and a Hume ; of a VOLTAIRE and his literary mimics, have accomplished this mighty change. By endeavouring to abolish all ideas of future rewards and punishments, as the fuggeftions of human policy, of religious frenzy, or of poetical fi&tion, these men, and their followers, have la
be eminently virtuous. When AUGUSTUS was dctermined to avoid the vicious conduct of former emperors, and to build his fame on another basis, he was at first so much ashamed of his vir. tues, and so fearful left the people should mistake them for a species of pusillanimity, that MÆCEnas found it necessary to advise him, “never to be concerned at what was spoken of him ;" and I am confident that if his present Majesty would follow the noble dictates of his own heart, which pants only for the welfare of his people, and the safety of the constitution ; if he would disregard the voice of an abandoned faction, and listen only to that of the public at large, his resolution and perseverance would be followed by more than Augustan glory to himself, and happiness to his subjects.
I XAVE said that a contempt of reputation is the prevailing vice of the times, and I have endcavoured to shew whence it originated : I shall take some future opportunity to point out its baneful effects on common life, and its influence on the manners of the times.
PRO CLA M A TI O N.
boured to fap the foundations of all religion, and, by deitroying its obligations, to render men accountable to themselves only for their moral condult.
PRINCIPLES so flattering to mankind, could not fail of having many adherents, and were eagerly adopted by men whose hearts were prone to evil, and who were ready to embrace any system which apparently presented freedom from the restraints of religion, and the reproaches of conscience. Freedom of enquiry was the watchword of infidel enthusiasm ; but freedom of action was the object of pursuit ; and those modern philosophers were not so anxious to recommend good conduct to others, as to find metaphysical excuses for their own; or to condemn the judgment which religion and rcalon should pronounce against them, as the offspring of superstition, or the error of vulgarity. To deride, with supercilious vivacity, the opinion of others, is one of the chief arts of a modern frec-thinker, and was practised with wonderful success by VOLTAIRE, whose witticisms have been received as cogent arguments, and whose arguments have been received as found doctrine. I can only wish that his readers were as well acquainted with the spirit of the sacred writings as they are with the genius of SHAKESPEARE and Milton: they would then discover that his criticisms respecting the former are of a piece with his dogmas respecting the latter, uncandid, ungenerous, futile and ignorant : the crude esfusions of envy and malice, and all uncharitableness !
But who will not follow leaders that promise the rewards of victory without the toils of battle ? The offer of an exemption from labours, especially the labours of religion, is not easily to be refifted ; and the conscience being soothed with the perversions of reason, there remains nothing to be dreaded but the censure of the world, which the example of others deprives of its sting, and which, therefore, is derided by all who can reap immediate gratification from their vices, without rendering themselves amenable to the laws of the land.
A CONTEMPT of religious institutions is soon followed by a neglect of the moral duties, and that neglect by a disdain of public opinion. Thus all the barriers which heaven and earth had set up to defend us against the inroads of vice, have, by the exertions of a few bad-hearted men,
been undermined ; and the silver cord which bound fociety together is cut in two.
A DISREGARD of public opinion can be excusable in such only as have resolution enough to
By the New SpectATOR, WHEREAS certain men calling themselves Editors, not having the fear of censure before their eyes, and instigated by a certain heathen deity called Mercury, the god of thieves, have lately entered our dominions, and committed the high criine of PLAGIARISM, to the great prejudice, &c. Now we do hereby ftri&ly enjoin and command all Editors, Writers, Printers, and Printers devils, and all others whom it may concern, from henceforth to defist from such unlawful seizure of our property on pain of our high displeasure. And forasmuch as it hath been represented to us, that the said offenders have committed the said crime in consequence of extreme poverty, we are wil. ling, in consideration of the same, to grant our SPECTATORIAL pardon for the said offence, on condition of this our Proclamation being strictly complied with.--AND WHEREAS it hath also been represented to us, that certain malicious and evil minded persons have reported that these our speculations, lucubrations, meditations, representations, communications, considerations, expostulations, and vindications would shortly terminate, and be no more. Now we do hereby declare, that our faid speculations, lucubrations, meditations, representations, communications, considerations, expostulations, and vindications,
You herewith receive the first efforts of a youthful muse. The following poem was written by a young gentleman to a lady, favoured by the muses, in consequence of a request, that the former would write a charity hymn which she declined. It is far from being perfect, but, nevertheless, displays a dawn of genius, which ought to be encouraged.
Sir, Yours, &c.
O DE To Mifs ; requesting her to write in favour
O sweet Sophia! may we ever have
The orphan infant that unhous'd doth lie; Expol'd to scorching funs, or winter's freefing sky, May well demand a wish, a tear, a figh!
Then sweep the Atring,
The virtues sing
Of heavenly Charity;
Who so meet to sing as thee ?
Do listen to their Philomel,
What time the rising moon
The checquer'd grove displays,
Beneath her silver rays
The shady woods among :
Shalt sing thy soothing song!
O THOU, on whom the liberal powers divine, Their choicest influence have shed,
And tun'd they soul to harmony,
Sweet daughter of astronomy ! And twin'd their laurels round thy head:
Proceed, fair maid,
To call the mufes' aid,
Then strike the founding lyre,
Higher, and yet higher,
Now let her walk the grove,
In maiden majesty;
In heavenly extasy ;
And frike, with fond surprize,
Our week, our mortal eyes, Too much accustomed to behold the ways Of ever-erring man, unworthy praise.
But yet one scene furpasseth these,
Though great, though noble, and divine : Behold the man of miseries,
On whom the heavens feldom line !
To the New SPECTATOR. Dear Spec!
I should very much have wondered if my animadversions in general, but on actors and actresses in particular, had not met with some opposition, from those who are hired to praise, and to abuse, as their employers think proper. The voice of truth, my dear friend, is seldom to be heard, and when it is, never fails to be drowned in the clamours of falfhood. My observations have generally the bad, or rather the good fortune to vary considerably from those of the daily prints, which, by a strange kind of accident, agrec unanimously in matters of opinion, as well as of fact !
I am led into these remarks by the conduct of your correspondent, Sawney IV. over whose mys
game-cocks as they please, but let it be rendered highly penal to fight them: there are ways enough to gamble away their acres, without offending humanity. If, however, gentlemen are determined to retain the sport, I should advise them to arm their fingers with silver, or rather with steel fangs, and claw each other for the diversion of their fellow-brutes, and the mutual entertainment of each other.
terious epiftles we had a hearty laugh; and who threatened you with publishing his rhapsodies elsewhere, if you rejected his sublime correspondence.--Sawney has been as good as his word: throwing off his Scotch-plaid, dissipating the Scotch-mist which enveloped his meaning, and assuming the tremendous air of a Dublin Volunteer, under the appellation of Paddy Ihack, he flourishes away in a young Magazine, and, truly, I am glad to see him cut so respectable a figure.
His chief charge against me, is with respect to Mrs. Abington. I have said that it might be supposed she kept at least half a dozen clerks, (and probably this fame Sawney alias Paddy, is one of them) to write panegyrics on her in the news-papers, they were so numerous and so fulsome. To convince the world, however, that the case is not so, he informs us that she has a hcart “ tremblingly alive" to the most distant calamity, and that Miss Younge has not. This, you see, is a piece of Irish logic, to prove that Mrs. Abington is not a woman of extreme vanity, and you will readily grant it to be very conclusive, and the reflection on Miss Younge to be
He also informs us, that St. Cecilia is now in Paris, and that I know her to be there. It is true I have his word for it, and the oath of a gentleman, that she is at this time in London : now whether his word, or the oath of the said gentleman is entitled to the most credit, I am utterly a loss to determine!-Leaving this modern Jacob Behmen to his reveries, I on my journey, all alone, proceed !
COCKING YESTERDAY this diversion commenced for the week at the Cockpit Royal : Twenty Guineas a battle, and one thousand the odd battle, between Sir John Lade and Thomas Bullock Esq. I remember it was the observation of somebody, that he conceived a Cockpit, in the midst of a battle, to be as complete a representation of Hell, as it was possible for human baseness to produce. I have often wondered that some mortal enemy to swearing does not attend these infernal meetings, and employ a sufficient number of people to count the oaths of the gentlemen who bett their money. I should suppose, that, at a crown an oath, a gambler might lose double his wagers in the simple article of swearing!
This diverfion, as it is called, is a good deal forsaken by the lower ranks of the people, and it is to be lamented, that it is not entirely stopped amongst all ranks. Let gentlemen keep as many
B v LI A. My fagacious friend who accompanied me in my aerial flight to Niatirb, has not yet finished the English translation of our speech to the Bulian king; for as we were anxious to construct an AirBalloon on the same principles as those of Bulia, in which, I have observed, the inhabitants travel with incredible velocity, and as we were defirous of knowing what passed in Bulia, subsequent to our departure thence; we mutually employed ourselves in preparing the balloon, and, having accomplished our purpose, my friend undertook solely to visit Bulia, and arrived from thence yesterday morning, without any thing material occurring on his journey, except the loss of a pair of fashionable buckles intended as a present to Selaw, the king's eldest son,
My friend, it seems, found the Bulians in greater confusion than ever. The friends of Reynardam finding that he could not recover the Ret. sinimship, and having proposed that he should share it with Tipwill; with great form and solemnity, addressed themselves to Rexman, requesting he would receive Reynardam to his favour, and permit him to share the honours of the Retsinimship. Great expectations were formed on this request. Many faid that Rexman, notwithstanding his known averfion to Reynardam, would not refuse the request of what they called so refpe&table a body of his subjects; and some went so far, as to say that he dare not.. But Rexman well know that the most respectable body of his lubjects was the people at large; and he also well knew, that their sentiments respeting Reynardam coincided with his own. He, therefore, Naily refused this request. Nothing could equal the joy of the Bulians on this occasion. I hey loved the king more than ever, and looked on Tipwill as one sent from heaven to guard them against the ambitious attempts of other 'men; and 10 fhew their respect for him, they determined to confer on him certain civil honours peculiar to the Bulians, and, for that purpose, invited him to a magnificent entertainment. He was accompanied by his brother, and by Elpmet, and by a numerous cavalcade of the nobility, and the most re
and decency, that the author of it deserves to have Mr.H-'s horse-whip broke about his bones; and I would as a friend-advise him to confine his italics and notcs of admiration! to the charming Perdita! the beautiful Mrs. M---'s! and those whose prostitution has rendered them fit fubjects of his panegyric! Mean time he may rest assured, that Mrs. H- never will “ enrapture 6 the scenes of C -n House !"
It is thus my dear Srec, that female reputation is fullied. And what shall guard it against attacks like these? It is the height of cruelty to impute guilt where there is none: it is robbing virtue of its immediate reward, the good opinion of mankind; and the man who is base enough, by inuendo and insinuation, thus to attack a lady's fame, deserves the detestation of every virtuous woman, and the contempt of every honest man,
spectable citizens. All Bulia rejoiced; save Reynardam and his abashed adherents : they stood envious spectators of festivities, which they could not share, whilst
Rage gnaw'd the lip, and wonder chain'd the tongue ! In the evening the Bulians displayed their regard for Tipwill, by innumerable illuminations, so that Bulia, at a distance, seemed like a cluster of brilliant stars; the last mark of respeêt they can pay to those they esteem.
During these rejoicings a council was held by the enemies of Tipwill, and it was determined to insult him on his return from the banquet. Upwards of three hundred weapons were immediately procured, and put into the hands of ruffians to each of whom it was whispered what use should be made of them. Such is the violence of party in Bulia, that a Bulian, in other respects, an honourable man, will sacrifice every principle of justice, every particle of humanity, and alsociate with ruffians and assassins, for the accomplishent of any infernal purpose, wherein the interest of his leader is concerned. Tip will, on his return at midnight, accompanied by many friends, was accordingly assaulted by this bandilli, who rushed upon the unarmed nobles and citizens, and committed outrages, shocking to humanity. Heaven, however, prevailed against hell, and Tipwill escaped with his life!
Such were the transactions to which my friend was an eye-witness during his last visit to Bulia. He is now deeply engaged in the translation of our speech delivered before Rexman and the council; and in a little time, means to revisit Bulia, with choice presents to the Queen of that country.
Mrs. H**** *. ONE of the morning papers of yesterday informs us, that “ for more than ten days past Mrs. “ H- has not enraptured the scenes of Con " House! A little miff, the natiral consequence " of extreme love, is said to have thus driven the a fair enamorata from the gay metropolis: she is " however, hourly expected to return “ beautiful, and fondly bewitching than ever!"Nothing can equal the infamy of this paragraph. I before stated to your SPECTATORSHIP, the whole of this lady's conduct, and informed you that she, a considerable time since, went with Mr. H-into Yorkshire, from whence they intend to depart, or are already daparted, for the continent. · We are now told that “ for more than TEN DAYS, she has not ENRAPTURED the scenes of C-n House !" There is a double insinuation conveyed in this sentence, so totally void of truth
MORNING PAPER S.
HAMLET. I am under the necessity of once more recur. ring to the daily prints. I find that great fault has been found with the paragraphs in my last: it has been said that they consist only of fulsome panegyric, ill-founded abuse, and a miferable fet of puns. Now, this is exa&ly my opinion too, and I am happy to find the public judgment coinciding with my own. Of such like materials, however, it is allowed, the morning papers are constructed. They are fit only for vitiated palates. Occidit miseros crambe repetita,
Juv. “ The same stale viands, fervd up o'er and o'er,
The stomach nauseates'.. From what I have said, and the examples I have given, the reader will readily perceive the nature and complexion of each morning paper. For my own part, I always regard the Daily as a footman enquiring after a place, or an auctioneer with a catalogue in his hand.
The Ledger as a demi-caractere: half a citizen and half a wit, with a bundle of news in one hand, and of modern bon mots and profe epigrams in the other.
The GAZETTEER, before Mr. Fox's India bill came on the tapis, I always regarded as a city merchant of tolerable credit ; but now it appears to me like a fellow with a blue cockade in his hat, shouting Fox for ever!
The General is an Ifraelite, who after quitting one of the flesh-pots of politics, could not avoid returning to it, and found it more savoury than before!