صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

not often fall within the list of an author's acquaintance : men, who read their works in circles, or to any but the most select friends, read for no other purpose but for admiration and applause; they can. not possibly expect criticism, and it is accordingly agreed upon by all, but the sect of the Dampers, either to keep out of such circles, or to pay their quota when the reckoning is cast up. Few, but men of quick and lively parts, are forward to recite in such societies, and these are the very men, who are most pained by neglect; for I think it is a remark, with as few exceptions to it as most general remarks have, that brilliant talents are attended with extreme sensibility, and the effects of sensibility bear such resemblance to the effects of vanity, that the undiscerning multitude are too apt to confound them. These are the men, who, in their progress through life, are most frequently misunderstood, and generally less pitied than they ought to be.

Now a Damper will tell you that he is consulting such a man's good, and lowering his vanity, when he is sporting with his feelings, and will take merit to himself for the discipline he gives him; but humanity will reflect, that the same spirits, which are prone to exult upon success, are proportionably agonized by the failure of it, and will therefore prompt us to a gentler treatment of such persons.

The sums which are expended in this nation upon those refined enjoyments, which are produced by the expertness of the hands and the ingenuity of the head, are certainly very great; and men are therefore apt to exclaim, “See what encouragement this country gives to arts and sciences !' were the standard measure of encouragement, there could be no dispute in the case; but so long as men have a feeling for their pride, as well as for their pocket, money alone will not encourage and pro

If money

mote the genius of a nation; it is the grace of doing a favour, which constitutes its merit ; it is from the manners of the great, that the man of rising talents is to draw that inspiriting consideration of himself, that stimulating pride of nature, which are to push his efforts towards perfection.

A limner will take a canvas and chalk out a man's face he has never seen before, and hang on his robes, or his garter, if he has one, or will put a horse in his hand, if he likes it better, or make a battle in the back ground, if he was ever within hearing of one, and when the job is finished will be paid the price of his labour, like any other mechanic; the money he may spend or put to use, and, if customers come in, he may raise his price upon them, and the world

may

call those profits an encouragement: but the painter is still a tradesman, and his sitter, not a patron, but a customer : the mercer, whose damask clothes the walls of the nobleman's saloon, and the artist, whose pictures hang round it, are in the same predicament as to encouragement, whilst neither of them are admitted into the house they contribute to adorn.

As I have made this remark with a reference to the Dampers in high life, I am aware that there are many eminent encouragers of the arts and sciences among the rich and liberal; nay, so general is their protection, that it comprehends a numerous importation of exotic tooth-drawers, dancers, and milliners, who find that England is the nursery of genius; even the magnifying philosopher of Piccadilly (unless he multiplies as well as magnifies) has shewn his wonders’ so frequently, and to such prodigious numbers, that it is to be doubted if they shall continue to be wonders' much longer.

There were men, in ancient Greece, no doubt, who talked, though Zeno chose to hold his tongue,

when certain ambassadors had invited him to supper, that they might report his sayings to their sove. reign: 'What shall we say of you to our master?' the foreigners demanded; 'Say that I had the wisdom to hold my tongue,' replied the Stoic. Though I am clearly of opinion that this great master of silence was an intolerable Damper, and made a very poor return to these same hospitable ambassadors for their good entertainment of him, yet I am not quite so ready with my answer to a certain female correspondent, who in consequence of some discourse upon Dampers the other day, in a company where she was present, favoured me with the following short, but curious, epistle.

· SIR, • I have the misfortune to be married to an elderly gentleman, who has taken strange things in his head of late, and is for ever snubbing me before folks, especially when the captain is in company. 'Twas but t'other night he broke up a party of hot-cockles in the back parlour, and would not let the captain take a civil salute, though I assured him it was only a forfeit at questions and commands.

• I don't know what he means by saying he will put a spoke in my wheel, but I suspect it is some jealousy matter.

Pray, Sir, is not my husband what you call a Damper? Yours,

LUCY LOVEIT.'

[ocr errors]

NUMBER III.

The desire of praise is natural, but when that appetite becomes canine, it is no longer in nature ; a taste of it is pleasant to most men : temperance itself will take a little, but the stomach sickens with a surfeit of it, and the palate nauseates the debauch.

Let the passion for flattery be ever so inordinate, the supply can keep pace with the demand, and in the world's great market, in which wit and folly, drive their bargains with each other, there are traders of all sorts; some keep a stall of offals, some a storehouse of delicacies; a squeamish palate must be forced by alluring provocatives, a foul feeder will swallow any trash that he can get hold of.

In a recent publication of the history of the Emperor Charles the Fifth, written by Sepulveda of Cordova (a contemporary and favourite of that famous monarch), the Academy of History at Madrid in their dedication to his present Catholic Majesty, address him in the following words— Nam quem tu, Carole Rex, ut nomine refers, ita etiam bellicâ laude jampridem æmularis. When these courtly academicians have thus mounted their peaceable sovereign on the war-horse of the victorious Charles, they seriously proceed to tell him, that being fully equal to his predecessor in his martial character, he is out of all distance superior to him in every other kingly quality; more wise, more politic, more magnanimous, and (as the present work can testify) a greater friend to learning than all that ever went before him, and if they may risk a prediction, there will probably be none to come in competition with him hereafter.'

If his Catholic Majesty shall ever come to an understanding of this paragraph, and strike a fair comXXXVIII.

[ocr errors]

parison between himself and his illustrious namesake, I should not be surprised if the next work his academicians shall be employed in proves the fortifications of Ceuta.

When I compare the state of flattery in a free country, with that which obtains in arbitrary states, it is a consolation to find that this mean principle is not natural to mankind; for it certainly abates in proportion as independency advances. This will be very evident to any one, who compares the flattery of Elizabeth's and Jame's days with the present. Ben Jonson, for instance, was a surly poet, yet how fulsome are his masques! In his News from the New World, he says of James

Read him as you would do the book
Of all perfections, and bat look

What his proportions be :
No measure that is thence contriv'd,
Or any motion thence deriv'd,

But is pure harmony. This poet, though he was rather a clumsy flatterer of his prince, was ingenius enough in the mode he took for flattering himself, by introducing a kind of chorus, wherein he takes occasion to tell his hearers, that careless of all vulgar censure, as not depending on common approbation, he is confident his plays shall superplease judicious spectators, and to them he leaves it to work with the rest by example or otherwise. It is remarkable that this passage should be found in his Magnetic Lady, and that he should speak with such confidence of one of his worst productions, as if he was determined to force a bad comedy upon the hearers by the authority of his own recommendation. This is an evident imitation of Aristophanes, who, in his comedy of The Clouds holds the same language to his audience, fairly telling them he shall estimate their judgment according to the degree of ap

« السابقةمتابعة »