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reversion, an estate of two thousand French livres per annum, which, as the present exchange runs, will amount to at least one hundred and twenty-six pounds English. This, with the royal allowance of a thousand livres, will enable them to find themselves in coffee and snuff; not to mention newspapers, pen and ink, wax and wafers, with the like necessaries for politicians.
A man must be at least five and twenty before he can be initiated into the mysteries of this academy, though there is no question but many grave persons of a much more advanced age, who have been constant readers of the Paris Gazette, will be glad to begin the world anew, and enter themselves upon this list of politicians.
The society of these hopeful young gentlemen is to be under the direction of six professors, who, it seems, are to be speculative statesmen, and drawn out of the body of the royal academy. These six wise masters, according to my private letters, are to have the following parts allotted them.
The first is to instruct the students in state legerdemain, as how to take off the impression of a seal, to split a wafer, to open a letter, to fold it up again, with other the like ingenious feats of dexterity and art. When the students have accomplished themselves in this part of their profession, they are to be delivered into the hands of their second instructor, who is a kind of posture-master.
This artist is to teach them how to nod judiciously, to shrug up their shoulders in a dubious case, to connive with either eye, and in a word, the whole practice of political grimace.
The third is a sort of language-master, who is to instruct them in the style proper for a foreign minister in his ordinary discourse. And to the end that this college of statesmen may be thoroughly practised in the political style, they are to make use of it in their common conversations, before they are employed either in foreign or domestic affairs. If one of them asks another, what a clock it is, the other is to answer him indirectly, and, if possible, to turn off the question. If he is desired to change a louis-d'or, he must beg time to consider of it. If it be inquired of him, whether the king is at Versailles or Marly, he must answer in a whisper. If he be asked the news of the last Gazette, or the subject of a proclamation, he is to reply, that he has not yet read it:
or if he does not care for explaining himself so far, he needs only draw his brow up in wrinkles, or elevate the left shoulder.
The fourth professor is to teach the whole art of political characters and hieroglyphics; and to the end that they may be perfect also in this practice, they are not to send a note to one another (though it be but to borrow a Tacitus or a Machiavel) which is not written in cipher.
Their fifth professor, it is thought, will be chosen out of the society of Jesuits, and is to be well read in the controversies of probable doctrines, mental reservations, and the rights of princes. This learned man is to instruct them in the grammar, syntax, and construing part of treaty-latin; how to distinguish between the spirit and the letter, and likewise demonstrate how the same form of words may lay an obligation upon any prince in Europe, different from that which it lays upon his Most Christian Majesty. He is likewise to teach them the art of finding flaws, loop-holes, and evasions, in the most solemn compacts, and particularly a great rabbinical secret, revived of late years by the fraternity of Jesuits, namely, that contradictory interpretations of the same article may both of them be true and valid.
When our statesmen are sufficiently improved by these several instructors, they are to receive their last polishing from one who is to act among them as master of the ceremonies. This gentleman is to give them lectures upon those important points of the elbow-chair and the stair-head, to instruct them in the different situations of the right-hand, and to furnish them with bows and inclinations of all sizes, measures, and proportions. In short, this professor is to give the society their stiffening, and infuse into their manners that beautiful political starch, which may qualify them for levees, conferences, visits, and make them shine in what vulgar minds are apt to look upon as trifles.
I have not yet heard any further particulars, which are to be observed in this society of unfledged statesmen; but I must confess, had I a son of five and twenty, that should take it into his head at that age to set up for a politician, I think I should go near to disinherit him for a blockhead. Besides, I should be apprehensive lest the same arts which are to enable him to negotiate between potentates, might a little infect his ordinary behaviour between man and man.
There is no question but these young Machiavels will, in a little time, turn their college upside-down with plots and stratagems, and lay as many schemes to circumvent one another in a frog or a salad, as they may hereafter put in practice to over-reach a neighbouring prince or state.
We are told that the Spartans, though they punished theft in their young men when it was discovered, looked upon it as honourable if it succeeded. Provided the conveyance was clean and unsuspected, a youth might afterwards boast of it. This, say the historians, was to keep them sharp, and to hinder them from being imposed upon, either in their public or private negotiations. Whether any such relaxations of morality, such little jeux d'esprit, ought not to be allowed. in this intended seminary of politicians, I shall leave to the wisdom of their founder.
In the mean time we have fair warning given us by this doughty body of statesmen; and as Sylla saw many Mariuses in Cæsar, so I think we may discover many Torcys in this college of academicians. Whatever we think of ourselves, I am afraid neither our Smyrna or St. James's will be a match for it. Our coffee-houses are, indeed, very good institutions, but whether or no these our British schools of politics may furnish out as able envoys and secretaries as an academy that is set apart for that purpose, will deserve our serious consideration: especially if we remember that our country is more famous for producing men of integrity than statesmen; and that, on the contrary, French truth and British policy makes a conspicuous figure in nothing, as the Earl of Rochester has very well observed in his admirable poem upon that barren subject.
No. 311. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26.
Nec Veneris pharetris macer est; aut lampade fervet :
I am amazed that, among all the variety of characters with which you have enriched your speculations, you have never given us a picture of those audacious young fellows among us, who commonly go by the name of fortune-stealers. You must know, sir, I am one who live in a continual appre
hension of this sort of people, that lie in wait, day and night, for our children, and may be considered as a kind of kidnappers within the law. I am the father of a young heiress, whom I begin to look upon as marriageable, and who has looked upon herself as such for above these six years. She is now in the eighteenth year of her age. The fortune-hunters have already cast their eyes upon her, and take care to plant themselves in her view whenever she appears in any public assembly. I have myself caught a young jack-a-napes, with a pair of silver fringed gloves, in the very fact., You must know, sir, I have kept her as a prisoner of state ever since she was in her teens. Her chamber windows are cross-barred, she is not permitted to go out of the house but with her keeper, who is a stayed relation of my own; I have likewise forbid her the use of pen and ink for this twelve months last past, and do not suffer a band-box to be carried into her room before it has been searched. Notwithstanding these precautions, I am at my wits' end for fear of any sudden surprise. There were, two or three nights ago, some fiddles heard in the street, which I am afraid portend me no good; not to mention a tall Irishman, that has been walking before my house more than once this winter. My kinswoman likewise informs me, that the girl has talked to her twice or thrice of a gentleman in a fair wig, and that she loves to go to church more than ever she did in her life. She gave me the slip about a week ago, upon which my whole house was in alarm. I immediately despatched a hue and cry after her to the 'Change, to her mantua-maker, and to the young ladies that visit her; but after above an hour's search she returned of herself, having been taking a walk, as she told me, by Rosamond's pond. I have hereupon turned off her woman, doubled her guards, and given new instructions to my relation, who, to give her her due, keeps a watchful eye over all her motions. This, sir, keeps me in a perpetual anxiety, and makes me very often watch when my daughter sleeps, as I am afraid she is even with me in her turn. Now, sir, what I would desire of you is, to represent to this fluttering tribe of young fellows, who are for making their fortunes by these indirect means, that stealing a man's daughter for the sake of her portion, is but a kind of tolerated robbery; and that they make but a poor amends to the father, whom they plunder after this manner, by going to bed with his child. Dear sir, be speedy in your
thoughts on this subject, that, if possible, they may appear
Your most humble servant,
Themistocles, the great Athenian general, being asked whether he would choose to marry his daughter to an indigent man of merit, or to a worthless man of an estate, replied, that he would prefer a man without an estate, to an estate without a man. The worst of it is our modern fortune-hunters are those who turn their heads that way, because they are good for nothing else. If a young fellow finds he can make nothing of Cook and Littleton, he provides himself with a ladder of ropes, and by that means very often enters upon the premises.
The same art of scaling has likewise been practised with good success by many military engineers. Stratagems of this nature make parts and industry superfluous, and cut short the way to riches.
Nor is vanity a less motive than idleness to this kind of mercenary pursuit. A fop who admires his person in a glass, soon enters into a resolution of making his fortune by it, not questioning but every woman that falls in his way will do him as much justice as he does himself. When an heiress sees a man throwing particular graces into his ogle, or talking loud within her hearing, she ought to look to herself; but if withal she observes a pair of red-heels, a patch, or any other particularity in his dress, she cannot take too much care of her person. These are baits not to be trifled with, charms that have done a world of execution, and made their way into hearts which have been thought impregnable. The force of a man with these qualifications is so well known, that I am credibly informed there are several female undertakers about the 'Change, who upon the arrival of a likely man out of a neighbouring kingdom, will furnish him with proper dress from head to foot, to be paid for at a double price on the day of marriage.
We must, however, distinguish between fortune-hunters and fortune-stealers. The first are those assiduous gentlemen who employ their whole lives in the chase, without ever coming at the quarry. Suffenus has combed and powdered