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HERE is no talent so useful towards rising in the

world,' or which puts men more out of the reach of fortune, than that quality generally possessed by the dullest sort of men, and in common speech called dif: cretion : 'a fpecies of lower prudence, by the assistance of which people of the meanest intellectuals, without any other qualification, pass through the world in great tranquillity, and with universal good treatment, neither giving nor taking offence. Courts are seldom unprovided of persons under this character ; on whom, if they happen to be of great quality, most employments, even the greatest, naturally fall, when competitors will not agree; and in such promotions no body rejoices or grieves. The truth of this I could prove by several inÑances within my own memory ; for I say nothing of present times. And indeed, as regularity and forms are of great

use in carrying on the business of the world, so it is very convenient, that persons endued with this kind of discretion should have that share which is proper to their talents, in the conduct of affairs, but by no means meddle in matters which require geniuș, learning; Atrong comprebension, quickness of conception, magnanimity, generosity, jagacity, or any other fuperior gift of human minds : because this sort of discretion is usually attended with a strong desire of money, and few scruples about the way of obtaining it; with servile flattery and fubmiffion; with a want of all public spirit or principle ; with a perpetual wrong judgment, when the owners come into power and high place, how to dispose of favour and preferment; having no measure for merit and virtue in others, but those very steps by which themselves ascended ; nor the least intention of doing good or hurt to the public, farther than either one or t’other is likely to be fubfervient


* This essaye was printed in the intelligencer, No s. and No. 7. See yol. 3. p. 344. •

to their own security or interest. Thus, being void of all friendship and enmity, they never complain, or find fault with the times, and indeed never have reason to do so.

Men of eminent parts and abilities, as well as virtues, do sometimes rise in the court, sometimes in the law, and sometimes even in the church. Such were the Lord Bacon, the Earl of Strafford, Archbishop Laud, in the reign of King Charles I. and others in our own times, whom I shall not name : but these, and many more, under different princes, and in different kingdoms, were disgraced, or banished, or suffered death, merely in envy to their virtues and superior genius, which emboldened them, in great exigencies and distresses of state, (wanting à reasonable infusion of this alder manly discretion,) to attempt the service of their prince and country out of the common forms.

This evil fortune which generally attends extraordi. nary men in the management of great affairs, hath been imputed to divers causes, that need not be here set down, when so obvious an one occurs; if what a certain writet observes be true, that when a great genius appears in the world, the dunces are all in confederacy against him *. And if this be his fate, when he employs his talents wholly in his closet, without interfering with any man's ambition or avarice, what must he expect, when he ventures out to seek for preferment in a court, but universal opposition, when he is mounting the ladder, and every hand ready to turn him off when he is at the top? And in this point, fortune generally acts directly contrary to nature : for in nature we find, that bodies full of life and fpirit mount easily, and are hard to fall ; whereas beavy bodies are hard to rise, and come down with greater velocity, in proportion to their weight: but we find fortune every day acting just the reverle of this.

This talent of discretion, as I have described it in its several adjunéts and circumstances, is no where so ferviceable as to the clergy; to whose preferment nothing is so fatal as the character of wit, politeness in reading or manners, or that kind of behaviour which we contract

by * See the author's thoughts on various subje&ts, at the end of vol. s. par. xv.

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by having too much conversed with persons of high ftation and eminency; these qualifications being reckoned by the vulgar of all ranks to be marks of levity, wbich is the last crime the world will pardon in a clergyman : to this I may add, a free manner of speaking in mixed company, and too frequent an appearance in places of much resort, which are equally noxious to spiritual promotion.

I have known indeed a few exceptions to fome parts of these observations. I have seen some of the dullest men alive aiming at wit, and others, with as little pretensions, affecting politeness in manners and discourse ; but never being able to persuade the world of their guilt, they grew into considerable stations, upon the firm affurance which all people had of their discretion, because they were a size too low to deceive the world to their own disadvantage. But this, I confess, is a trial too dangerous often to engage in.

There is a known story of a clergyman, who was recommended for a preferment by some great man at court to an archbishop. His grace * said, he had heard that the clergymen used to play at whift and fwobbers; that, as to playing now and then a sober game at whift for pastime, it might be pardoned; but he could not digest those wicked fwobbers ; and it was with some pains that my Lord Sommers could undeceive him. I ask, by what talents we may suppose that great prelate ascended fo high, or what sort of qualifications he would expect in those whom he took into his patronage, or would probably recommend to court for the government of diftant churches ?

Two clergymen, in my memory, stood candidates for a small free school in Yorkshire, where a gentleman of quality and interest in the country, 'who happened to have a better understanding than his neighbours, procured the place for him who was the better fcholar, and more gentlemanly person of the two, very much to the regret of all the parith. The other being disappointed, came up to London ; where he became the greatest pattern of

; this lower discretion that I have known, and poffeffed it


• Dr. Tennison, late Archbishop of Canterbury,

with as heavy intellectuals; which, together with the coldness of his temper, and gravity of his deportment, carried him safe thro' many difficulties, and he lived and died in a great station; while his competitor is too obscure for fame to tell us what became of him.

This species of discretion, which I so much celebrate, and do most heartily recommend, hath one advantage not yet mentioned; it will carry a man safe thro' all the malice and variety of parties, so far, that whatever faction happens to be uppermoft, his claim is usually allowed for a share of what is going. And the thing seems to me highly reasonable. For in all great changes, the prevailing fide is usually fo tempestuous, that it wants the ballast of those whom the world calls moderate men, and I call men of discretion; whom people in power may with little ceremony load as heavy as they please, drive them thro' the hardeit and deepest roads, without danger of foundering, or breaking their backs, and will be sure to find them neither resty nor vitious.

I will here give the reader a short history of two clergimen in England, the characters of each, and the progress of their fortunes in the world ; by which the force of worldly discretion, and the bad consequences from the want of that virtue, will ftrongly appear.

CORUsodes, an Oxford student, and a farmer's son, was never absent from prayers or lecture, nor once out of his college after Tom had tolled. He spent every day ten hours in his closet, in reading his courses, dozing, clipping papers, or darning his stockings; which latt he performed to admiration. He could be soberly drunk, at the expence of others, with college ale, and at those seasons was always most devout. He wore the same gown five years, without draggling or tearing. He ne: yer once looked into a play-book or a poem. He read Virgil and Ramus in the same cadence, but with a very different taste. He never understood a jest, or had the least conception of wit.

For one saying he stands in renown to this day. Bea ing with some other students over a pot of ale, onc of the company faid so many pleasant things, that the rest were much diverted, only Corusodes was filent and unmoved. When they parted, he called this merry com:


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panion afide, and said, “ Sir, I perceive by your often .: speaking, and our friends laughing, that you spoke

many jests; and you could not but observe my fi“ lence : but, Sir, this is my humour ; I never make a

jest myself, nor ever laugh at another man’s. ”

CORUSODES, thus endued, got into holy orders ; having, by the most extreme parfimony, faved thirty-four pounds out of a very beggarly fellowship ; went up to London, where his sister was waiting-woman to a lady ; and so od a solicitor, that, by her means, he was admitted to read prayers in the family twice a day, at ten fhillings a month. He had now acquired a low, obsequious, awkward bow, and a talent of gross flattery, both in and out of season ; he would shake the butler by the hand; he taught the page his catechism ; and was sometimes admitted to dine at the steward's table. In fhort, he got the good word of the whole family, and was recommended by my Lady for chaplain to some other noble houses, by which his revenue (besides vails) amounted to about thirty pounds a year. His filter pro

. cured him a scars from my Lord, who had a small design of galantry upon her; and, by his Lordlip's solicitation, he got a lectureship in town of fixty pounds ayear; where he preached constantly in person, in a grave marner, with an audible voice, a style ecclefiaftic, and the matter (such as it was) well suited to the intellectuals of his hearers. Some time after, a country-living fell in my Lord's disposal ; and his Lordfhip, who

me encouragement given bim of success in his ainour, bestowed the living on Corusodes; who still kept his lectureship and residence in town; where he was a constant attendant at all meetings relating to charity, without ever contributing farther than his frequent pious exhortations. If any woman of better fashion in the parilh happened to be absent from church, they were sure of a visit from him in a day or two, to chide and to dine with them.

He had a select number of poor, constantly attending at the street-door of his lodgings, for whom he was a common folicitor to his former patroness, dropping in his own half-crown among the collections, and taking it out when he disposed of the money. At a person of Vol. VII.





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