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ceits. These little mortifications are necessary to suppress that pride and vanity which naturally arise in the mind of 60 a received author, and enable me to bear the reputation which my courteous readers bestow upon me, without becoming a coxcomb by it. It was for the same reason, that when a Roman general entered the city in the pomp of a triumph, the commonwealth allowed of several little draw-65 backs to his reputation, by conniving at such of the rabble as repeated libels and lampoons upon him within his hearing; and by that means engaged his thoughts upon his weakness and imperfections as well as on the merits that advanced him to so great honours. The conqueror, how- 70 ever, was not the less esteemed for being a man in some particulars, because he appeared as a god in others.
There is another circumstance in which my countrymen have dealt very perversely with me; and that is, in searching not only into my life, but also into the lives of my an- 75 cestors. If there has been a blot in my family for these ten generations, it hath been discovered by some or other of my correspondents. In short, I find the ancient family of the Bickerstaffs has suffered very much through the malice and prejudice of my enemies. Some of them twit me in 80 the teeth with the conduct of my aunt Margery. Nay, there are some who have been so disingenuous, as to throw Maud the milkmaid into my dish, notwithstanding I myself was the first who discovered that alliance. I reap, however, many benefits from the malice of these enemies, as they 85 let me see my own faults, and give me a view of myself in the worst light; as they hinder me from being blown up by flattery and self-conceit; as they make me keep a watchful eye over my own actions; and at the same time make me cautious how I talk of others, and particularly of my 90 friends or relations, or value myself upon the antiquity of my family.
But the most formidable part of my correspondents are those, whose letters are filled with threats and menaces. 95 I have been treated so often after this manner, that, not
thinking it sufficient to fence well, in which I am now arrived at the utmost perfection, and to carry pistols about me, which I have always tucked within my girdle; I several
months since made my will, settled my estate, and took leave 100 of my friends, looking upon myself as no better than a dead
man. Nay, I went so far as to write a long letter to the most intimate acquaintance I have in the world, under the character of a departed person; giving him an account of
what brought me to that untimely end, and of the fortitude 105 with which I met it. This letter being too long for the pres
ent paper, I intend to print it by itself very suddenly; and at the same time I must confess, I took my hint of it from the behaviour of an old soldier in the civil wars,
who was corporal of a company in a regiment of foot, 110 about the same time that I myself was a cadet in the king's army.
This gentleman was taken by the enemy; and the two parties were upon such terms at that time, that we did not
treat each other as prisoners of war, but as traitors and 115 rebels. The poor corporal, being condemned to die, wrote
a letter to his wife when under sentence of execution. He writ on the Thursday, and was to be executed on the Friday; but, considering that the letter would not come to his wife's
hands until Saturday, the day after execution, and being 120 at that time more scrupulous than ordinary in speak
ing exact truth, he formed his letter rather according to the posture of his affairs when she should read it, than as they stood when he sent it: though it must
be confessed, there is a certain perplexity in the style 125 of it, which the reader will easily pardon, considering his
"Hoping you are in good health, as I am at this present writing: this is to let you know, that yesterday, between the hours of eleven and twelve, I was hanged, drawn, and 130 quartered. I died very penitently, and every body thought my case very hard. Remember me kindly to my poor fatherless children. Yours, until death,
It so happened, that this honest fellow was relieved by a 135 party of his friends, and had the satisfaction to see all the rebels hanged who had been his enemies. I must not omit a circumstance which exposed him to raillery his whole life after. Before the arrival of the next post, that would have set all things clear, his wife was married to a second 140 husband, who lived in the peaceable possession of her; and the corporal, who was a man of plain understanding, did not care to stir in the matter, as knowing that she had the news of his death under his own hand, which she might have produced upon occasion.
(From The Campaign)
In peaceful thought the field of death surveyed,
Frozen Words (The Tatler, No. 254. Thursday, November 23, 1710.) There are no books which I more delight in than in travels, especially those that describe remote countries, and give the writer an opportunity of showing his parts without incurring any danger of being examined or contradicted. Among all the authors of this kind, our renowned countryman, Sir 5 John Mandeville, has distinguished himself by the copiousness of his invention and the greatness of his genius. The second to Sir John I take to have been Ferdinand Mendez Pinto, a person of infinite adventure, and unbounded imagination. One reads the voyages of these two great wits, 10 with as much astonishment as the travels of Ulysses in Homer, or of the Red-Cross Knight in Spenser. All is enchanted ground, and fairyland.
I have got into my hands, by great chance, several manuscripts of these two eminent authors, which are filled with 15 greater wonders than any of those they have communicated to the public; and indeed, were they not so well attested, they would appear altogether improbable. I am apt to think the ingenious authors did not publish them with the rest of their works, lest they should pass for fictions and fables: a 20 caution not unnecessary, when the reputation of their veracity was not yet established in the world. But as this reason has now no farther weight, I shall make the public a present of these curious pieces, at such times as I shall find myself unprovided with other subjects.
The present paper I intend to fill with an extract from Sir John's Journal, in which that learned and worthy knight gives an account of the freezing and thawing of several short speeches, which he made in the territories of Nova Zembla. I need not inform my reader, that the author of “Hudibras” 30 alludes to this strange quality in that cold climate, when,