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is to a human soul. The philosopher, the saint, or the hero, the wise, the good, or the great man, very often lie hid and concealed in a plebeian, which a proper education might have disinterred, and have brought to light. I am therefore much delighted with reading the accounts of savage nations, and with contemplating those virtues which are wild and uncultivated; to see courage exerting itself in fierceness, resolution in obstinacy, wisdom in cunning, patience in sullenness and despair.
Men's passions operate variously, and appear in different kinds of actions, according as they are more or less rectified and swayed by reason. When one hears of negroes, who, upon the death of their masters, or upon changing their service, hang themselves upon the next tree, as it frequently happens in our American plantations, who can forbear admiring their fidelity, though it expresses itself in so dreadful a manner? What might not that savage greatness of soul, which ap pears in these poor wretches on many occasions, be raised to, were it rightly cultivated? And what colour of excuse can there be for the contempt with which we treat this part of our species? that we should not put them upon the common foot of humanity, that we should only set an insignificant fine upon the man who murders them; nay, that we should, as much as in us lies, cut them off from the prospects of happiness in another world as well as in this, and deny them that which we look upon as the proper means for attaining it.
Since I am engaged on this subject, I can not forbear mentioning a story which I have lately
heard, and which is so well attested that I have no manner of reason to suspect the truth of it. I may call it a kind of wild tragedy, that passed about twelve years ago at St. Christopher's, one of our British Leeward islands. The negroes, who were the persons concerned in it, were all of them the slaves of a gentleman who is now in England.
This gentleman among his negroes had a young woman, who was looked upon as a most extraordinary beauty by those of her own complexion. He had at the same time two young fellows who were likewise negroes and slaves, remarkable for the comeliness of their persons, and for the friendship which they bore to one another. It unfortunately happened that both of them fell in love with the female negro above-mentioned, who would have been very glad to have taken either of them for her husband, provided they could agree between themselves which should be the man. But they were both so passionately in love with her, that neither of them could think of giving her up to his rival; and at the same time were so true to one another, that neither of them would think of gaining her without his friend's consent. The torments of these two lovers were the discourse of the family to which they belonged, who could not forbear observing the strange complication of passions which perplexed the hearts of the poor negroes, that often dropped expressions of the uneasiness they underwent, and how impossi. ble it was for either of them ever to be happy.
After a long struggle between love and friendship, truth and jealousy, they one day took a walk together into a wood, carrying their mistress along with them; where, after abundance of lamentations, they stabbed her to the heart, of which she immediately died. A slave, who was at his work not far from the place where this astonishing piece of cruelty was committed, hearing the shrieks of the dying person, ran to see what was the occasion of them. He there discovered the woman lying dead upon the ground, with the two negroes on each side of her, kissing the dead corpse, weeping over it, and beating their breasts in the utmost agonies of grief and despair. He immediately ran to the English family with the news of what he had seen; who, upon coming to the place, saw the woman dead, and the two negroes expiring by her, with wounds they had given themselves.
We see in this amazing instance of barbarity what strange disorders are bred in the minds of those men, whose passions are not regulated by virtue, and disciplined by reason. Though the action which I have recited is in itself full of guilt and horror, it proceeded from a temper of mind, which might have produced very noble fruits, had it been informed and guided by a suitable education.
It is therefore an unspeakable blessing to be born in those parts of the world where wisdom and knowledge flourish; though it must be confessed, there are, even in these parts, several poor, uninstructed persons, who are but little above the inhabitants of those nations of which I have been here speaking; as those who have had the advantages of a more liberal education rise above one another by several different degrees of perfection. For, to return to our statue in the block of mar
ble, we see it sometimes only begun to be chipped, sometimes rough hewn, and but just sketched into a human figure; sometimes we see the man appearing distinctly in all his limbs and features; sometimes we find the figure wrought up to a great elegancy, but seldom meet with any to which the hand of a Phidias or Praxiteles could not give several nice touches and finishings.
Discourses of morality, and reflections upon human nature, are the best means we can make use of to improve our minds, and gain a true knowledge of ourselves, and consequently to recover our souls out of the vice, ignorance, and prejudice, which naturally cleave to them. I have all along professed myself in this paper a promoter of these great ends; and I flatter myself that I do from day to day contribute something to the polishing of men's minds; at least my design is laudable, whatever the execution may be. I must confess I am not a little encouraged in it, by many letters which I receive from unknown hands in approbation of my endeavours; and must take this opportunity of returning my thanks to those who write them, and excusing myself for not inserting several of them in my papers, which I am sensible would be a very great ornament to them. Should I publish the praises which are so well penned, they would do honour to the persons who write them; but my publishing of them would, I fear, be a sufficient instance to the world that I did not deserve them.
No. 216. WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7
Siquidem hercle possis, nil prius, neque fortius:
If indeed you can keep to your resolution, you will act a noble and a manly part; but if, when you have set about it, your courage fails you, and you make a voluntary submission, acknowledging the violence of your passion and your inability to hold out any longer, all's over with you: you are undone, and may go hang yourself: she will insult over you, when she finds you her slave.
TO THE SPECTATOR. S SIR,
6 This is to inform you that Mr. Freeman had no sooner taken coach, but his lady was taken with a terrible fit of the vapours, which, it is feared, will make her miscarry, if not endanger her life; therefore, dear sir, if you know of any receipt that is good against this fashionable reigning distemper, be pleased to communicate it for the good of the public, and you will oblige yours,
6 MR. SPECTATOR,
"The uproar was so great, as soon as I had read the Spectator concerning Mrs. Freeman, (No. 212) that after many revolutions in her temper, of raging, swooning, railing, fainting, pitying herself, and reviling her husband, upon an accidental coming in of a neighbouring lady (who says