Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

the chief point under consideration is an estate : where the par ties choose for themselves, their thoughts turn most upon the person. They have both their reasons.

The first would procure many conveniences and pleasures of life to the party whose interests they espouse; and at the same time may hope that the wealth of their friend will turn to their own credit and advantage. The others are preparing for themselves a perpetual feast. А good person does not only raise, but continue love, and breeds a secret pleasure and complacency in the beholder, when the first heats of desire are extinguished. It puts the wife or husband in countenance both among 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, anu .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 of her charms; and if you have such a passion for her, it is odds but it will 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 weet 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 interest; and, as I have elsewhere observed, it is one of the most un accountable 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, might 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 dim-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 or neglect on the impieties of the times, and tread the paths of life together in a constant uniform course of virtue.

C.

1

1

The original edition gives this paper with the letter C., and it was reprinted by Tickell as Addison's. The omission of the C: in the editions of 1712 have raised some doubts about the propriety of attributing it to Addison--a question which may be safely left to those, vho, like Hurd, find 80 wide a difference between Addison and his colleague on every occa sion.-G.

No. 262. MONDAY, DECEMBER 31.

Nulla venenato littera mista joco est.

OVID. Trist. ii. 566.

Satirical reflections I avoid.

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 seasonings 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 fashionable 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 defamation of particular persons, families, or societies.

There is not one of these 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 of 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 propagatinga of vice and irreli

& When a participle is used instead of a substantive, the particle the should precede it. We may either say-in propagating vice, or, in the propagating of vice; but not, in propagating of vice.-H.

gion, 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 hava 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 hidden seeds of goodness and knowledge in him; which give him a relish of such reflections and speculations as have an aptness to improve the mind, and to make the heart better.

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 malice 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 my 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 of. fence to those who appear in the higher figures of life. I would

VOL. VI.

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 applica., tion, might have set their country in a flame. The air-pump, the barometer, the quadrant, and the like inventions, were thrown out to these 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. b

I have been so very scrupulous in this particular, of not hurting any man's reputation, that I have forborn mentioning even

I« This is Queen Elizabeth's birth-day, usually kept in this town by apprentices, &c.; but the Whigs designed a mighty procession by midnight, and had laid out a thousand pounds to dress up the pope, devil, cardinals, Sachverel, &c., and carry them with torches about and burn them. They did it by contribution. Garth gave five guineas.—But they were seized last night by order of the Secretary.—They had some very foolish and mischievous designs, &c., &c." V. Swift's Journal to Stella ; Lett. 35.--G.

2 Johnson's Lives of English Poets, vol. ii. p. 364: 8vo. 1781.-C.

& Meni's minds. Men's for the genitive plural of man, is not allowable. We say, a man's mind, but we can only say, the minds of men, as Mr. Addison should have done here.-H.

• This looks as if the author had a political aim, even in this moral raper.

But it is to be remembered, that the party in power could only profit by this expedient: and not the party in opposition, whose cause he favoured; which sets the purity of his intentions, and the merit of his work, in the clearest light. ---H.

« ForrigeFortsett »