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It is thus with the state of the mind; he that governs his thoughts with the everlasting rules of reason and sense, must have something so inexpressibly graceful in his words and actions, that every circumstance must become him. The change of persons or things around him does not at all alter his situation, but he looks disinterested in the occurrences with which others are distracted, because the greatest purpose of his life is to maintain an indifference both to it and all its enjoyments. In a word, to be a fine gentleman, is to be a generous and a brave man. What can make a man so much in constant good humour, and shine, as we call it, than to be supported by what can never fail him, and to believe that whatever happens to him was the best thing that could possibly befal him, or else he on whom it depends, would not have permitted it to have befallen him at all! R.
N° 76. MONDAY, MAY 28, 1711.
Ut tufoitunam, sic nos te, Celse,fmmus.
HOR. 1 Ep. viii. 17.
As you your fortune bear, we will bear you.
There is nothing so common as to find a man whom in the general observation of his carriage you take to be of an uniform temper, subject to such unaccountable starts of humour and passion, that he is as much unlike himself, and differs as much from the man you at first thought him, as any two distinct persons can differ from each other. This proceeds from the want of forming some law of life to ourselves, or fixing some notion of things in general, which may affect us in such a manner as to create proper habits both in our minds and bodies. The negligence of this, leaves us exposed not only to an unbecoming levity in our usual conversation, but also to the same instability in our friendships, interests, and alliances. A man who is but a mere Spectator of what passes around him, and not engaged in commerces of any consideration, is but an ill judge of the secret motions of the heart of man, and by what degrees it is actuated to make such visible alterations in the same person: but at the same time, when a man is no way concerned in the effect of such inconsistencies, in the behaviour of men of the world, the speculation must be in the utmost degree both diverting and instructive; yet to enjoy such observations in the highest relish, he ought to be placed in a post of direction, and have the dealings of their fortunes to them. I have therefore been wonderfully diverted with some pieces of secret history, which an antiquary, my very good friend, lent me as a curiosity. They are memoirs of the private life of Pharamond of France. 'Pharamond,' says my author, 'was a prince of infinite humanity and generosity, and at the same time the most pleasant and facetious companion of his time. He had a peculiar taste in him, which would have been unlucky in any prince but himself; he thought there could be no exquisite pleasure in conversation, but among equals; and would pleasantly bewail himself that he always lived in a crowd, but was the only man in France that could never get into company. This turn of mind made him delight in midnight rambles, attended only with one person of his bed-chamber. He would in these excursions get acquainted with men (whose temper he had a mind to try) and recommend them privately to the particular observation of his first minister. He generally found himself neglected by his new acquaintance as soon as they had hopes of growing great; and used on such occasions to remark, that it was a great injustice to tax princes of forgetting themselves in their high fortunes, when there were so few that could with constancy bear the favour of their very creatures.' My author in these loose hints has one passage that gives us a very lively idea of the uncommon genius of Pharamond. He met with one man whom he had put to all the usual proofs he had made of those he had a mind to know thoroughly, and found him for his purpose. In discourse with him one day, he gave him an opportunity of saying how much would satisfy all his wishes. The prince immediately revealed himself, doubled the sum, and spoke to him in this manner: 'Sir, you have twice what you desired, by the favour of Pharamond; but look to it, that you are satisfied with it, for it is the last you shall ever receive. I from this moment consider you as mine; and to make you truly so, I give you my royal word you shall never be greater or less than you are at present. Answer me not (concluded the prince smiling), but enjoy the fortune I have put you in, which is above my own condition; for you have hereafter nothing to hope or to fear.'
VOL. VII. H
His majesty having thus well chosen and bought a friend and companion, he enjoyed alternately all the pleasures of an agreeable private man, and a great and powerful monarch. He gave himself, with his companion, the name of the merry tyrant; for he punished his courtiers for their insolence and folly, not by any act of public disfavour, but by humorously practising upon their imaginations. If he observed a man untraceable to his inferiors, he would find an opportunity to take some favourable notice of him, and render him insupportable. He knew all his own looks, words, and actions had their interpretations; and his friend Monsieur I'.ncrate (for so he was called) having a great soul without ambition, he could communicate all his thoughts to him, and fear no artful use would be made of that freedom. It was no small delight when they were in private, to reflect upon all which had passed in public. Pharamond would ofsen, to satisfy a vain fool of power in his country, talk to him in a full court, and with one whisper make him despise all his old friends and acquaintance. He was come to that knowledge of men by long observation, that he would profess altering the whole mass of blood in some tempers, by thrice speaking to them. As fortune was in his power, he gave himself constant entertainment in managing the mere followers of it with the treatment they deserved. He would, by a skilful cast of his eye, and half a smile, make two fellows who hated, embrace, and fall upon each other's necks with as much eagerness, as if they followed their real inclinations, and intended to stifle one another. When he was in high good humour, he would lay the scene with Eucrate, and on a public night exercise the passions of his whole court. He was pleased to see an haughty beauty watch the looks of the man she had long despised, from observation of his being taken notice of by Pharamond; and the lover conceive higher hopes, than to follow the woman he was dying for the day before. In a court, where men speak affection in the strongest terms, and dislike in the faintest, it was a comical mixture of incidents to see disguises thrown aside in one case, and increased on the other, according as favour or disgrace attended the respec
tive objects of men's approbation or disesteem. Pharamond, in his mirth upon the meanness of mankind, used to say, 'As he could take away a man's five senses, he could give him an hundred. The man in disgrace shall immediately lose all his natural endowments, and he that finds favour have the attributes of an angel.' He would carry it so far as to say, 'It should not be only so in the opinion of the lower part of his court, but the men themselves shall think thus meanly or greatly of themselves, as they are out, or in the good graces of a court.'
A monarch who had wit and humour like Pharamond, must have pleasures which no man else can ever have opportunity of enjoying. He gave fortune to none but those whom he knew could receive it without transport. He made a noble and generous use of his observations, and did not regard his ministers as they were agreeable to himself, but as they were useful to his kingdom. By this means, the king appeared in every officer of state; and no man had a participation of the power, who had not a similitude of the virtue of Pharamond.
N°77. TUESDAY, MAY 29, 1711.
Non ennvhere Heet, nee urbe tola
MART. Epig. i. 87.
What correspondence can I hold with you,
Mv friend Will Honeycomb is one of those sort of men who are very often absent in conversation, and what the French call a reveur and a distrait.