« ПредишнаНапред »
friends and strangers, and generally fills the family with a healthy and beautiful race of children,
I should prefer a woman that is agreeable in my own eye, and not deformed in that of the world, to a celebrated beauty. If you marry one remarkably beautiful, you must have a violent passion for her, or you have not the proper taste for her charms; and if you have such a passion for her, it is odds but it would be imbittered with fears and jealousies.
Good-nature and evenness of temper will give you an easy companion for life; virtue and good sense, an agreeable friend; love and constancy, a good wife or husband. Where we meet one person with all these accomplishments, we find an hundred without any one of them. The world notwithstanding, is more intent on trains and equipages, and all the showy parts of life; we love rather to dazzle the multitude, than consult our proper interests; and as I have elsewhere observed, it is one of the most unaccountable passions of human nature, that we are at greater pains to appear easy and happy to others, than really to make ourselves so. Of all disparities, that in humour makes the most unhappy marriages, yet scarce enters into our thoughts at the contracting of them.
Several that are in this respect unequally yoked, and uneasy for life with a person of a particular character, miglit have been pleased and happy with a person of a contrary one, notwithstanding they are both perhaps equally virtuous and laudable in their kind.
Before marriage we cannot be too inquisitive and discerning in the faults of the person beloved, nor after it too cim-sighted and superficial. However perfect and accomplished the person appears to you at a distance, you will find many blemishes and imperfections in her humour, upon a more intimate acquaintance, which you never discovered or perhaps suspected. Here therefore discretion and good-nature are to shew their strength ; the first will hinder your thoughts from dwelling on what is disagreeable, the other will raise in you all the tenderness of compassion and humanity, and by degrees soften those very imperfections into beauties.
Marriage enlarges the scene of our happiness and miseries. A marriage of love is pleasant ; a marriage of interest easy; and a marriage where both meet, happy. A happy marriage has in it all the pleasures of friendship, all the enjoyments of sense and reason, and indeed, all the sweets of life. Nothing is a greater mark of a degenerate and vicious age, than the common ridicule which passes on this state of life. It is, indeed, only happy in those who can look down with scorn and neglect on the impieties of the times, and tread the paths of life together in a constant uniform course of virtue.
No 262. MONDAY, DECEMBER 31, 1711.
Nulla venenato litteru mista joco est.
OVID. Trist. il. 566
I THINK myself highly obliged to the public for their kind acceptance of a paper which visits them every morning, and has in it none of those season
ings that recommend so many of the writings which are in vogue among us.
As, on the one side, my paper has not in it a single word of news, a reflection in politics, nor a stroke of party; so, on the other, there are no fasbionable touches of infidelity, no obscene ideas, no satires upon priesthood, marriage, and the like popular topics of ridicule ; no private scandal, nor any thing that may tend to the defaniation of particular persons, families, or societies.
There is not one of those above-mentioned subjects that would not sell a very indifferent paper, could I think of gratifying the public by such mean and base methods. But notwithstanding I have rejected every thing that savours of party, every thing that is loose and immoral, and every thing that might create uneasiness in the minds of particular persons, I find that the demand for my papers has increased every month since their first appearance in the world. This does not perhaps reflect so much honour upon myself, as on my readers, who give a much greater attention to discourses of virtue and morality than ever I expected, or indeed could hope.
When I broke loose from that great body of writers who have employed their wit and parts in propagating vice and irreligion, I did not question but I should be treated as an odd kind of fellow that had a mind to appear singular in my way of writing : but the general reception I have found convinces me that the world is not so corrupt as we are apt to imagine ; and that if those men of parts who have been employed in vitiating the age had endeavoured to rectify and amend it, they needed not to have sacrificed their good sense and virtue to their fame and reputation. No man is so sunk in vice and ignorance, but there are still some hiddeu seeds of goodo
ness and knowledge in him ; which give him a relish of such reflections and speculations as have an aptness to improve the mind, and make the heart hetter.
I have shewn in a former paper, with how much care I have avoided all such thoughts as are loose, obscene, or immoral; and I believe my reader would still think the better of me, if he knew the pains I am at in qualifying what I write after such a manner, that nothing may be interpreted as aimed at private persons. For this reason, when I draw any faulty character, I consider all those persons to whom the ma. lice of the world may possibly apply it, and take care to dash it with such particular circumstances as may prevent all such ill-natured applications. If I write any thing on a black man, I run over in
mind all the eminent persons in the nation who are of that complexion : when I place an imaginary name at the head of a character, I examine every syllable and letter of it, that it may not bear any resemblance to one that is real. I know very well the value which every man sets upon his reputation, and how painful it is to be exposed to the mirth and derision of the public, and should therefore scorn to divert my reader at the expence of any private man.
As I have been thus tender of every particular person's reputation, so I have taken more than ordinary care not to give offence to those who appear in the higher figures of life. I would not make myself merry even with a piece of pasteboard that is invested with a public character; for which reason I have never glanced upon the late designed procession of his Holiness and his attendants, notwithstanding it might have afforded matter to many ludicrous speculations. Among those advantages which the public may reap from this paper, it is not the least
that it draws men's minds off from the bitterness of party, and furnishes them with subjects of discourse that may be treated without warmth or passion. This is said to have been the first design of those gentlemen who set on foot the Royal Society; and had then a very good effect, as it turned many of the greatest geniuses of that age to the disquisitions of natural knowledge, who, if they had engaged in politics with the same parts and application, might have set their country in a flame. The air pump, the barometer, the quadrant, and the like inventions, were thrown out to those busy spirits, as tubs and barrels are to a whale, that he may let the ship sail on without disturbance, while he diverts himself with those innocent amusements.
I have been so very scrupulous in this particular of not hurting any man's reputation, that I have forborne mentioning even such authors as I could not name with honour. This I must confess to have been a piece of very great self-denial: for as the public relishes nothing better than the ridicule which turns upon a writer of any eminence, so there is nothing which a man that has but a very ordinary talent in ridicule may execute with greater ease. One might raise laughter for a quarter of a year together upon the works of a person who has published but a very few volumes. For which reason I am astonished, that those who have appeared against this paper have made so very little of it. The criticisms which I have hitherto published, have been made with an intention rather to discover beauties and excellencies in the writers of my own time, than to publish any of their faults and imperfections. In the mean while I should take it for a very great favour from some of my underhand detractors, if they would break all measures with me, so far as to give me a pretence for examining their