« IndietroContinua »
him, in this dungeon. He had at the same time an apartment over it, where he used to apply himself to the funnel, and by that means overheard every thing that was whispered in the dungeon. I believe one may venture to affirm, that a Cæsar or an Alexander would have rather died by the treason, than have used such disingenuous means for the detecting of it.
A man who in ordinary life is very inquisitive after every thing which is spoken ill of him, passes his time but very indifferently. He is wounded by every arrow that is shot at him, and puts it in the power of every insignificant enemy to disquiet him. Nay, he will suffer from what has been said of him, when it is forgotten by those who said or heard it. For this reason I could never bearone of those officious friends, that would be telling every malicious report, every idle censure that passed upon me. The tongue of man is so petulant, and his thoughts so variable, that one should not lay too great a stress upon any present speeches and opinions. Praise and obloquy proceed very frequently out of the same mouth upon the same person, and upon the same occasion. А generous enemy will sometimes bestow commendations, as the dearest friend cannot sometimes refrain from speaking ill. The man who is indifferent in either of these respects, gives his opinion at random, and praises or disapproves as he finds himself in humour.
I shall conclude this essay with part of a character, which is finely drawn by the Earl of Clarendon, in the first book of his history, and which gives us the lively picture of a great man teasing himself with an absurd curiosity.
? He had not that application and submission, and reverence for the queen, as might have been expected from his wisdom and breeding ; and often crossed her pretences and desires with more rudeness than was natural to him. Yet he was impertinently solicitous to know what her majesty said of him in private, and what resentments she had towards him. And when by some confidents, who had their ends upon him from those offices, he was informed of some bitter expressions fallen from her majesty, he was so exceedingly afflicted and tormented with the sense of it, that sometimes by passionate complaints and representations toʻthe king; sometimes by more dutiful addresses and expostulations with the queen in bewailing his misfortune; he frequently exposed himself, and left his condition worse than it was before, and the eclaircissement commonly ended in the discovery of the persons from whom he had received his most secret intelligence.' ADDISON,
N° 440. FRIDAY, JULY 25, 1712.
Vivere si rectè nescis, discede peritis.
HOR. Ep. ii. 1.2. ver. 213. Learn to live well, or fairly make your will.
I have already given my reader an account of a set of merry fellows who are passing their summer together in the country, being provided of a great house, where there is not only a convenient apartment for every particular person, but a large infirmary for the reception of such of them as are any way indisposed,
or out of humour'. Having lately received a letter from the secretary of this society, by order of the whole fraternity, which acquaints me with their be haviour during the last week, I shall here make a present of it to the public.
MR. SPECTATOR, « We
E are glad to find that you approve the establishment which we have here made for the retrieving of good manners and agreeable conversation, and shall use our best endeavours so to improve ourselves in this our summer retirement, that we may next winter serve as patterns to the town. But to the end that this our institution may be no less advantageous to the public than to ourselves, we shall communicate to you one week of our proceedings, desiring you at the same time, if you see any thing faulty in them, to favour us with your admonitions : for you must know, Sir, that it has been proposed amongst us to choose you for our visitor; to which I must further add, that one of the college having declared last week he did not like the Spectator of the day, and not being able to assign any just reasons for such his dislike, he was sent to the infirmary, nemine contradicente.
« On Monday the assembly was in very good humour, having received some recruits of French claret that morning; when, unluckily, towards the middle of the dinner, one of the company swore at his servant in a very rough manner, for having put too much water in his wine. Upon which the president of the day, who is always the mouth of the company, after having convinced him of the imperti
1 See N° 424, and 429.