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tity of a word in making a Latin verse. The child is punished, and the next day he commits a like crime, and so a third with the same consequence. I would fain ask any reasonable man, whether this lad, in the simplicity of his native innocence, full of shame, and capable of any impression from that grace of soul, was not fitter for any purpose in this life, than after that spark of virtue is extinguished in him, though he is able to write twenty verses in an evening?
Seneca says, after his exalted way of talking, As the immortal Gods never learnt any virtue, though they are endued with all that is good; so there are some men who have so natural a propensity to what they should follow, that they learn it almost as soon as they hear it.' Plants and vegetables are cultivated into the production of finer fruits than they would yield without that care; and yet we cannot entertain hopes of producing a tender conscious spirit into acts of virtue, without the same methods as are used to cut timber, or give new shape to a piece of stone.
It is wholly to this dreadful practice that we may attribute a certain hardiness and ferocity which some men, though liberally_educated, carry about them in all their behaviour. To be bred like a gentleman, and punished like a malefactor, must, as we see it does, produce that illiberal sauciness which we see sometimes in men of letters.
The Spartan boy who suffered the fox (which he had stolen and hid under his coat) to eat into his bowels, I dare say had not half the wit or petulance which we learn at great schools among us: but the glorious sense of honour, or rather fear of shame, which he demonstrated in that action, was worth all the learning in the world without it.
It is methinks a very melancholy consideration, that a little negligence can spoil us, but great indus
try is necessary to improve us; the most excellent natures are soon depreciated, but evil tempers are long before they are exalted into good habits. To help this by punishments, is the same thing as killing a man to cure him of a distemper; when he comes to suffer punishment in that one circumstance, he is brought below the existence of a rational creature, and is in the state of a brute that moves only by the admonition of stripes. But since this custom of educating by the lash is suffered by the gentry of Great Britain, I would prevail only that honest heavy lads may be dismissed from slavery sooner than they are at present, and not whipped on to their fourteenth or fifteenth year, whether they expect any progress from them or not. Let the child's capacity be forthwith examined, and he sent to some mechanic way of life, without respect to his birth, if nature designed him for nothing higher: let him go before he has innocently suffered, and is debased into a dereliction of mind for being what it is no guilt to be, a plain man. I would not here be sup posed to have said, that our learned men of either robe who have been whipped at school, are not still men of noble and liberal minds; but I am sure they had been much more so than they are, had they never suffered that infamy.
But though there is so little care, as I have observed, taken, or observation made of the natural strain of men, it is no small comfort to me, as a Spectator, that there is any right value set upon the bona indoles of other aniinals: as appears by the following advertisement handed about the county of Lincoln, and subscribed by Enos Thomas, a person whom I have not the honour to know, but suppose to be profoundly learned in horse-flesh :
A chesnut horse called Caesar, bred by James
Darcy, esquire, at Sedbury, near Richmond, in the county of York; his grandam was his old royal mare, and got by Blunderbuss, which was got by HemslyTurk, and he got by Mr. Courant's Arabian, which got Mr. Minshul's Jews-Trump. Mr. Cæsar sold him to a nobleman (coming five years old, when he had but one sweat) for three hundred guineas. A guinea a leap and trial, and a shilling the man.
OUT of a firm regard to impartiality, I print these letters, let them make for me or not.
I HAVE observed through the whole course of your rhapsodies (as you once very well called them) you are very industrious to overthrow all that many your superiors, who have gone before you, have made their rule of writing. I am now between fifty and sixty, and had the honour to be well with the first men of taste and gallantry in the joyous reign of Charles the Second. We then had, I humbly presume, as good understandings among us as any now can pretend to. As for yourself, Mr. Spectator, you seem with the utmost arrogance to undermine the very fundamentals upon which we con
ducted ourselves. It is monstrous to set up for a man of wit, and yet deny that honour in a woman is any thing else but peevishness, that inclination is not the best rule of life, or virtue and vice any thing else but health and disease. We had no more to do but to put a lady in a good humour, and all we could wish followed of course. Then, again, your Tully, and your discourses of another life, are the very bane of mirth and good-humour. Pr'ythee do not value thyself on thy reason at that exorbitant rate, and the dignity of human nature; take my word for it, a setting-dog has as good reason as any man in England. Had you (as by your diurnals one would think you do) set up for being in vogue in town, you should have fallen in with the bent of passion and appetite; your songs had then been in every pretty mouth in England, and your little distichs had been the maxims of the fair and the witty to walk by: but, alas, sir, what can you hope for, from entertaining people with what must needs make them like themselves worse than they did before they read you? Had you made it your business to describe Corinna charming, though inconstant, to find something in human nature itself to make Zoilus excuse himself for being fond of her; and to make every man in good commerce with his own reflections, you had done something worthy our applause; but indeed, sir, we shall not commend you for disapproving us. I have a great deal more to say to you, but I shall sum it all up in this one remark. In short, sir, you do not write like a gentleman.
I am, SIR,
Your most humble servant.'
* Spect. in folio. Altered in the 8vo. of 1712, when'not' was left out.
THE other day we were several of us at a tea-table, and according to custom and your own advice had the Spectator read among us. It was that paper wherein you are pleased to treat with great freedom that character which you call a woman's man. We gave up all the kinds you have mentioned, except those who, you say, are our constant visitants. I was upon the occasion commissioned by the company to write to you and tell you, "that we shall not part with the men we have at present, until the men of sense think fit to relieve them, and give us their company in their stead." You cannot imagine but that we love to hear reason and good sense better than the ribaldry we are at present entertained with, but we must have company, and among us very inconsiderable is better than none at all. We are made for the cements of society, and came into the world to create relations amongst mankind; and solitude is an unnatural being to us. If the men of good understanding would forget a little of their severity, they would find their account in it; and their wisdom would have a pleasure in it, to which they are now strangers.
It is natural among us when men have a true relish of our company and our value, to say every thing with a better grace: and there is without designing it something ornamental in what men utter before women, which is lost or neglected in conversations of men only. Give me leave to tell you, sir, it would do you no great harm if you yourself came a little more into our company: it would certainly cure you of a certain positive and determining manner in which you talk sometimes. In hopes of your amendment,
I am, SIR, your gentle reader.'