Imágenes de páginas

are indifferent in themselves and have nothing else to distinguish them but the virtues of their forefathers, are to be looked upon with a degree of veneration even upon that account, and to be more respected than the common run of men who are of low and vulgar extraction.

After having thus ascribed due honours to birth and parentage, I must however take notice of those who arrogate to themselves more honours than are due to them on this account. The first are such who are not enough sensible that vice and ignorance taint the blood, and that an unworthy behaviour degrades and disennobles a man in the eye of the world as much as birth and family aggrandize and exalt him.

The second are those who believe a new man of an elevated merit is not more to he honoured than an insignificant and worthless man who is descended from a long line of patriots and heroes: or in other words, behold with contempt a person who is such a man as the first founder of their family was, upon whose reputation they value themselves.

But I shall chiefly apply myself to those whose quality sits uppermost in all their discourses and behaviour. An empty man of a great family is a creature that is scarce conversible. You read his ancestry in his smile, in his air, in his eye-brow. He has indeed nothing but his nobility to give employment to his thoughts. Rank and precedency are the important points which he is always discussing within himself. A gentleman of this turn began a speech in one of king Charles's parliaments; Sir, I had the honour to be born at a time'upon which an honest gentleman took him up short, I would fain know what that gentleman means: Is there any one in the house that has not

had the honour to be born as well as himself?' The good sense which reigns in our nation has pretty well destroyed this starched behaviour among men who have seen the world, and know that every gentleman will be treated upon a foot of equality. But there are many who have had their education among women, dependents or flatterers, that lose all the respect which would otherwise be paid them, by being too assiduous in procuring it.

My lord Froth has been so educated in punctilio, that he governs himself by a ceremonial in all the ordinary occurrences of life. He measures out his bow to the degree of the person he converses with. I have seen him in every inclination of the body, from a familiar nod, to the low stoop in the salutation sign. I remember five of us, who were acquainted with one another, met together one morning at his lodgings, when a wag of the company was saying, it would be worth while to observe how he would distinguish us at his first entrance. Accordingly he no sooner came into the room, but casting his eyes about, My lord such a one,' says he, your most humble servant, Sir Richard, your humble servant. Your servant, Mr. Ironside. Mr. Ducker, how do you do? Ha! Frank, are you there?'


[ocr errors]

There is nothing more easy than to discover man whose heart is full of his family. Weak minds that have imbibed a strong tincture of the nursery, younger brothers that have been brought up to nothing, superannuated retainers to a great house, have generally their thoughts taken up with little else.

I had some years ago, an aunt of my own, by name Mrs. Martha Ironside, who would never marry beneath herself, and is supposed to have

died a maid in the eightieth year of her age. She was the chronicle of our family, and past away the greatest part of the last forty years of her life in recounting the antiquity, marriages, exploits and alliances of the Ironsides. Mrs. Martha conversed generally with a knot of old virgins, who were likewise of good families, and had been very cruel all the beginning of the last century. They were every one of them as proud as Lucifer; but said their prayers twice a day, and in all other respects were the best women in the world. If they saw a fine petticoat at church, they immediately took to pieces the pedigree of her that wore it, and would lift up their eyes to heaven at the confidence of the saucy minx, when they found she was an honest tradesman's daughter. It is impossible to describe the pious indignation that would rise in them at the sight of a man who lived plentifully on an estate of his own getting. They were transported with zeal beyond measure, if they heard of a young woman's matching into a great family upon account only of her beauty, her merit, or her money. In short, there was not a female within ten miles of them that was in possession of a gold watch, a pearl necklace, a piece of Mechlin lace, but they examined her title to it. My aunt Martha used to chide me very frequently for not sufficiently valuing myself. She would not eat a bit all dinner-time, if at an invitation she found she had been seated below herself; and would frown upon me for an hour together, if she saw me give place to any man under a baronet. As I was once talking to her of a wealthy citizen whom she had refused in her youth, she declared to me with great warmth, that she preferred a man of quality in his shirt to the richest man upon the Change in a

coach and six. She pretended that our family was nearly related by the mother's side to half a dozen peers; but as none of them knew any thing of the matter, we always kept it as a secret among ourselves. A little before her death she was reciting to me the history of my forefathers; but dwelling a little longer than ordinary upon the actions of sir Gilbert Ironside, who had a horse shot under him at Edgehill-fight, I gave an unfortunate pish, and asked, What was all this to me?' Upon which she retired to her closet, and fell a scribbling for three hours together, in which time, as I afterwards found, she struck me out of her will, and left all she had to my sister Margaret, a wheedling baggage, that used to be asking questions about her great-grandfather from morning to night. She now lies buried among the family of the Ironsides, with a stone over her, acquainting the reader, that she died at the age of eighty years, a spinster, and that she was descended of the ancient family of the Ironsides.--After which follows the genealogy drawn up by her own hand.

N° 138. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 19, 1713.

Incenditque animum Famæ venientis amore.

VIRG. Æn. vi. 889.

And fires his mind with love of future fame.

THERE is nothing which I study so much in the course of these my daily dissertations as variety. By this means every one of my readers is sure some time or other to find a subject that pleases him, and almost every paper has some particular set of men for its advocates. Instead of seeing the number of my papers every day increasing, they would quickly lie as a drug upon my hands, did not I take care to keep up the appetite of my guests, and quicken it from time to time by something new and unexpected. In short, I endeavour to treat my reader in the same manner as Eve does the angel in that beautiful description of Milton:

'So saying, with dispatchful looks in haste
She turns, on hospitable thoughts intent,
What choice to choose for delicacy best;
What order, so contrived as not to mix
Tastes, not well joined, inelegant; but bring
Taste after taste, upheld with kindliest change.
Whatever earth, all-bearing mother yields
In India East or West, or middle shore;
In Pontus or the Punic coast, or where
Alcinous reigned; fruit of all kinds, in coat
Rough or smooth rin'd, or bearded husk or shell,
She gathers, tribute large, and on the board
Heaps with unsparing hand-


« AnteriorContinuar »