Imágenes de páginas

years together over his last. At the very first grin he caft every human feature out of his countenance, at the second he became the face of a spout, at the third a baboon, at the fourth the head of a bass yiol, and at the fifth a pair of nut-crackers. "The whole assembly wondered at his accomplishments, and beltowed the ring on him unanimously; but, what he esteemed more than all the rest, a country wench, whom he had wooed in vain for above five years before, was fo charmed with his grins, and the applauses which he received on all sides, that she married him the week following, and to this day we ars the prize upon her finger, the cobbler having made use of it as his wedding-ring.

This paper might perhaps feeni very impertinent, if it grew serious in the conclusion. I would neverthelefs leave it to the consideration of those who are the patrons. of this monstrous trial of skill, whether or no they are not guilty, in some measure, of an affront to their fpecies, in treating after this manner the Human Face Divine, and turning that part of us, which has so great an image impressed upon it, into the inage of a monkey; whether the raising such filly competitions among the ignorant, proposing prizes for such useless accomplishments, filling the common people's heads with such senseless ambitions, and inspiring them with such abfurd ideas of fuperiority and pre-eininence, has not in it fomething immoral as well as ridiculous.


N° 174

Wednesday, September 19.


· Hæc memini & vi&um fruftra contendere Thyrfini.

1 VIRG. Ecl. 7. ver. 69. These rhymes I did to memory commend,

When vanquish'd Thyrfisdidin vain contend. DRYDEN. There

HERE is scarce any thing more common than animosities between parties that cannot fublift but by their agreement : this was well reprefented in the fedition of the members of the human body in the old

Roman fable. It is often the case of lesser confederate tates against a superior power, which are hardly held together, though their unanimity is necessary for their common safety: and this is always the case of the landed and trading interest of Great-Britain : the trader is fed by the product of the land, and the landed man cannot be clothed but by the skill of the trader ; and yet those interests are ever jarring.

We had laft winter an instance of this at our club, in fir Roger de COVERLEY and fir ANDREW FREEPORT, between whom there is generally a constant, though friendly, opposition of opinions. It happened that one of the company, in an historical discourse, was observing, that Carthaginian faith was a proverbial phrase to intimate breach of leagues. Sir ROGER said it could hardly be otherwise ; that the Carthaginians were the greatest traders in the world ; and as gain is the chief end of such a people, they never pursue any other : the means to it are never regarded ; they will, if it comes easily, get money honestly; but if not, they will not scruple to attain it by fraud or cozenage : and indeed, what is the whole business of the trader's account, but to over-reach him who trusts to his memory? But were that not so, what can there great and noble be expected from him whose attention is for ever fixed upon

balancing his books, and watching over his expences ? And at best, let frugality and parlimony be the virtues of the merchant, how much is his punctual dealing below a gentleman's charity to the poor, or hospitality among his neighbours ?

Captain Sentry observed fir Andrew very diligent in hearing fir Roger, and had a mind to turn the difcourse, by taking notice in general, from the highest to the lowest parts of human society, there was a secret, though unjuft, way among men, of indulging the seeds of ill-nature and envy, by comparing their own state of life to that of another, and grudging the approach of their neighbour to their own happiness; and on the other side, he who is the less at his ease, repines at the other, who, he thinks, has unjustly the advantage over him. Thus the civil and military lifts look upon

each other with much ill-nature; the soldier repines at the Vol. III.


courtier's power, and the courtier rallies the soldier's honour; or, to come to lower instances, the private men in the horse and foot of an army, the carmen and coachmen in the city streets, mutually look upon each other with ill-will, when they are in competition for quarters or the way in their respective motions.

It is very well, good captain, interrupted fir AnDrew: you may attempt to turn the discourse if

you think fit ; but I must however have a word or two with fir Rocer, who, I see, thinks he has paid me off, and been very severe upon

the merchant. I shall not, continued he, at this time remind fir Roger of the great and noble monuments of charity and public fpirit, which have been erected by merchants since the reformation, but at present content myself with what he als lows us, parsimony and frugality. If it were consistent with the quality of so ancient a baronet as fir Roger, to keep an account, or measure things by the most infallible way, that of numbers, he would prefer our parsimony to his hospitality. If to drink so many hogfheads is to be hospitable, we do not contend for the rame of that virtue ; but it would be worth while to consider, whether so many artificers at work ten days together by my appointment, or so many peasants made merry on fir Roger's charge, are the men obliged ? I believe the families of the artificers will thank me, more than the household of the peasants Thall sir ROGER. Sir Roger gives to his men, but I place mine above the necessity or obligation of my bounty. I

very little pain for the Roman proverb upon the Carthaginian traders

the Romans were their professed enemies: I am only sorry no Carthaginian histories have come to our hands; we might have been taught perhaps by them fome proverbs against the Roman generosity, in fighting for and bestowing other peoples goods. But since fir ROGER has taken occafion from an old proverb to be out of huniour with merchants, it should be no offence to offer one not quite so old in their defence.

When a man happens to break in Holland, they say of him that“, he has not kept true accounts.

This phrase, perhaps among us, would appear a soft or humorous way of speaking,


am in


but with that exact nation it bears the highest reproach; for a man to be mistaken in the calculation of his expence, in his ability to answer future demands, or to be impertinently sanguine in putting his credit to too great adventure, are all instances of as much infamy as with gayer nations to be failing in courage or common honesty.

Numbers are so much the measure of everything that is valuable, that it is not possible to demonstrate the fuccess of any action, or the prudence of any undertaking without them. I say this in answer to what fir Roger is pleased to fay, that little that is truly noble can be expected from one who is ever poring on his cath-book, or balancing his accounts. When I have my returns from abroad, I can tell to a shilling, by the help of numbers, the profit or loss by my adventure ; but lought also to be able to shew that I had reason for making it, either from my own experience, or that of other people, or from a reasonable presumption that my returns will be fufficient to answer my expence and hazard ; and this is never to be done without the skill of numbers. For instance, if I am to trade to Turkey, I ought beforehand to know the demand of our manufactures there, as well as of their filks in England, and the customary prices that are given for both in each country. I ought to have a clear knowledge of these matters beforehand, that I may presume upon sufficient returns to answer the charge of the cargo I have fitted out, the freight and assurance out and home, the customs to the queen, and the interest of my own money, and besides all these expences, a reasonable profit to myself. Now what is there of scandal in this skill? What has the merchant done, that he should be so little in the good graces of fir Roger? He throws down no man's inclolures, and tramples upon no man's corn; he takes nothing from the industrious labourer; he pays the poor man for his work; he communicates his profit with mankind; by the preparation of his cargo, and the pianufacture of his returns, he furnishes employment and subfistence to greater numbers than the richest nobleman ; and even the nobleman is obliged to him for finding out forcign markets for the produce of his estate, and for

making a great addition to his rents; and yet it is certain, that none of all these things could be done by him without the exercise of his skill in numbers.

This is the ceconomy of the merchant ; and the conduct of the gentleman must be the fame, unless by scorning to be the teward, he resolves the steward shall be the gentlenian. The gentleman, no more than the merchant, is able, without the help of numbers, to account for the success of any action, or the prudence of any adventure. If, for instance, the chace is his whole adventure, his only returns must be the stag's horns in the great hall, and the fox's nose upon the stable door. Without doubt fir Roger knows the full value of these returns ; and if beforehand he had computed the charges of the chace, a gentleman of his discretion would certainly have hanged up all his dogs, he would never have brought back so many fine horses to the kennel, he would never have gone fo often, like a blast, over fields of corn. If such too had been the conduct of all his ancestors, he might truly have boalted at this day, that the antiquity of his family had never been fullied by a trade ; a merchant had never been permitted with his whole estate to purchase a room for his picture in the gallery of the Coverleys, or to claim his descent from the maid of honour. But it is very happy for fir Roger that the merchant paid so dear for his ambition. It is the misfortune of many other gentlemen to turn out of the seats of their ancestors, to make way for such new masters as have been more exact in their accounts than themselves ; and certainly he deferves the estate a great deal better, who has got it by his industry, than he who has lost it by his negligence.' T.

« AnteriorContinuar »