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als vor der angeführten Ausgabe seiner Geschichte gedruckt worden ist. Viele einzelne Umstände aus seinem Leben enthält auch die London 1820 bei Colburn erschienene Private Correspondence of David Hume with several distinguished persons, between the years 1761 and 1776. Now first published from the Originals, 4.
1) ON AVARICE *), Tis
is easy to observe, that comic writers exaggerale every character, and draw their fop, or coward with stronger featuires than are any where to be met with in nature. This r oral kind of painting for the stage has been often compared to the painting for cupolas and cielings, where the co
are overcharged, and every part is drawn excessively la
rge, and beyond nature. The figures seem monstrous and d isproportioned, when seen tov nigh; but become natural and regular, when set at distance, and placed in that point (if view, in which they are intended to be surveyed. For a Iike reason, when characters are exhibited in theatrical rejpresentations, the want of reality removes, in a manner, the personages ; and rendering them more cold and unentertaining, makes it necessary to compensate, by the force of coloring, what they want in substance. Thus we find in commun life, that when a man once allows himself to depart from truth in his narrations, he never can keep within the bounds of probability; but adds still some new circumstance to render his stories more marvellous, and to satisfy his imagination. Two men in buckram suits became eleven to Sir John Falstaff before the end of his story. **).
There is only one vice, which may be found in life with as strong features, and as high a coloring as need be employed by any satyrist or comic poet;, and that is Avarice. Every day we meet with men of immense furtunes, without heirs, and on the very brink of the grave, who refuse them
*) Essays and Treatises on several subjects, part. I. Essay XIII. **) Siehe den isten Theil von Shakspear's King Henry IV. Act. II, Scene 9. Am Ende der Erzählung des Prahlhanses Falstaff, welcher aus zwei Räubern, von denen er angegriffen worden ist, vier, dann sieben, ncun, und endlich cilf muchi, ruft der Prince of Wales aus: O monstrous, eleven buckram-men grown out of two!
selves the most common necessaries of life, and go on heaping possessions on possessions,
under all the real pressures of the severest poverty. An old usurer, says the story, lying in his last agonies was presented by the priest with the crucifix and cried, These jewels are not true; I can only lend' ten pistoles upon such a pledge. This was probably the invention of some epigrammatist; and yet every one, from his own ext. perience, may be able to recollect almost as strong instances of perseverance in avarice. 'Tis commonly reported of a famous miser in this city, that finding himself near death, be sent for some of the magistrates, and gave them a bill of an bundred pounds, payable after his decease; which sum he intended should be disposed of in charitable uses; but scarce were they gone, when he orders them to be called back, and offers them ready money, if they would abate five pounds of the sum. Another noted miser in the north, intending to defraud his heirs, and leave his fortune to the building an hospital, protracted the drawing of bis will from day to day; and 'tis thought, that if those interested in it had not paid for the drawing it, he had died intestate. In short, none of the most furious excesses of love and ambition are in any respect to be compared to the extremes of avarice.
The best excuse that can be made for avarice is, that it generally prevails in old men, or in men of cold tempers, where all the other affections are extinct; and the mind being incapable of remaining without some passion of pursuit, at last finds out this monstrously absurd one; which suits the coldness and inactivity of its temper. At the same time, it seems very extraordinary, that so frosty, spiritless a passion should be able to carry us farther than all the warmth of youth and pleasure. But if we look more narrowly into the matter, we shall find, that this very circumstance renders the explication of the case more easy. When the temper is warm and full of vigor, it naturally shoots out more ways than
one, and produces inferior passions to counter - balance, in some degree, its predominant inclination. 'Tis impossible for a person of that lemper, however bent on any pursuit, to be deprived of all sense of shame, or all regard to the sentiments of mankind. His friends must have some influence over him: and other considerations are apt to have their weight. All this serves to restrain him within some bounds. But 'tis no wonder that the avaritious man, being, from the
coldness of his temper, without regard to reputation, friendship, or to pleasure, should be carried so far by his prevailing inclination, and should display his passion in such surprizing instances.
Accordingly we find no vice so irreclaimable as avarice. And tho' there scarcely has been a moralist or philosopher, from the beginning of the world to this day, who has not levelled a stroke at it, we hardly find a single instance of any person's being cured of it. For this reason, I am more apt to approve of those, who attack it with wit and humour, than of those who treat it in a serious manner. There being so little hopes of doing good to the people infected with this vice, I would have the rest of mankind, at least, diverted by our manner of exposing it: as indeed there is no kind of diversion, of which they seem so willing to partake.
Among the fables of Monsieur de la Motte *), there is one levelled against avarice, which seems to me more natural and easy, than most of the fables of that ingenious author. A miser, says he, being dead, and fairly, interred, came to the banks of the Styx, desiring to be ferried over along with the other ghosts. Charon demands his fare, and is surprized to see the miser, rather than pay it, throw himself into the river, and swim over to the other side, notwithstanding all the clamor and opposition that could be made to him. All hell was in an uproar; and each of the judges was meditating some punishment, suitable to a crime of such dangerons consequence to the infernal revenues. Shall he be chained to the rock with Prometheus? Or tremble below the precipice in company with the Danaïdes **)? Or assist Sisyphus in rolling his stone? No, says Minos, none of these. We must invent some severer punishment. Let him be sent back to the earth, to see the use his heirs are making of his riches.
I hope it will not be interpreted as a design of setting myself in opposition to this celebrated author, if I proceed to deliver a fable of my own, which is intended to expose
*) Es ist der Französische Dichter Antoine Houdartdela Motte, geb. 1674, gest. 1731. gemeint. (S. Handb, der Franz, Sprache, poetischer Theil, S. 325. **) Nach der gewöhnlichen Erzählung mussten, wie bekannt, die Danaiden Wasser in ein durchlöchertes Gefäss giessen, oder dasselbe in einem durchlöcherten Gefässe schöpfen.
the same vice of avarice. The hint of it was taken from these lines of Mr. Pope:
Damned to the mines, an equal fate betides
The slave that digs it and the slave that hides.
Our old mother Earth once lodged an indic!ment against Avarice before the courts of heaven, for her wicked and malicious council and advice, in tempting, inducing, persuading, and traiterously seducing the children of the plaintiff to commit, the detestable crime of parricide upon her, and, 'mangling her body, ransack her very bowels for hidden treasure. The indictment was very long and verbose ; but we must omit a great part of the repetitions and synonymous terms, not to tire our reader too much with our tale. Avarice, being called before Jupiter to answer to this charge, bad not much to say in her own defence. The injury was clearly proved upon her.
The fact, indeed, was notorious, and the injury had been frequently repeated. When therefore the plaintiff de manded justice, Jupiter very readily gave sentence in her favor;" and his decree was to this purpose, that since dame Avarice, the defendant, had thus grievously injured dame, Barth, the plaintiff, she was hereby ordered to take that treasure, of which she had feloniously robbed the said plaintiff, by ransacking her bosom, and in the same manner, before, opening her bosom, restore it back to her, without diminution or retention. From this sentence, it shall follow, says Jupiter to the by-standers, that, in all future ages, the retainers of Avarice shall bury and conceal their riches and thereby restore to the Earth what they took from her.
2) The ExecutION AND CHARACTER OF Mary, Queen of
SCOTLAND *). - The
he earls of Shrewsbury and Kent, being introduced to Mary, told her to prepare for death next morning at eight o'clock. She seem'd not terrified, though somewhat surprised, with the intelligence. She said, with a cheerful, and even a smiling .countenance, that she did not think the Queen, her sister, would have consented to her death, or have executed the sentence against a person, not subject to the laws
*) History of England, Chap. XLII. Der Todestag der unglücklichen Maria war der 7te Februar 1587.
and jurisdiction of England. But as such is her will," said she, death, which puts an end to all my miseries, shall „be to me most welcome; nor can I esteem that soul worthy „ the felicities of heaven, which cannot support the body under
the horrors of the last passage to these blissful mansions.“ She then requested the two noblemen, hat they would permit some of her servants, and particularly her confessor, to attend her: but they told ber, that compliance with ihis last demand was contrary to their conscience, and that Dr. Fletcher, dean of Peterborow, a man of great learning, should be present, to instruct ber in the principles of true religion. Her refusal to have any conference with this divine inflamed the zeal of the earl of Kent; and he bluntly told her, that her death would be the life of their religion; as, on the contrary, her life would have been the death of it. Mention being made of Babington, she constantly denied his conspiracy to have been at all known to her; and the revenge of her wrongs she resigned into the hands of the Almighty.'
When the earls had left her she ordered supper to be hastened, that she might have the more leisure to finish the few affairs which remained to her in this world, and to prepare for her passage to another. It was necessary for her, she said, to take some sustenance, lest a failure of her bodily strength should depress her spirits on the morrow, and lest her behaviour should thereby betray a weakness unworthy of herself. She supped sparingly, as her manner usually wasi and her wonted chearfulness did not even desert her on this occasion. She comforted her servants under the affliction which overwhelmed them, and which was too violent for them to conceal it from her. Turning to Burgoin, ber physician, she asked him, Whether he did not remark the great and invincible force of truth? „They pretend, „ that I must die, because I conspired against their Queen's „life: but the 'earl of Kent avowed, that there was no other ,, cause of my death, than the apprehensions, which, if I , 'should live, they entertain for their religion. My constancy ,, in the faith is my real crime: the rest is only a colour, in
vented by interested and designing men." Towards the end of supper, she called in all her servants, and drank to them: they pledged her, in order, on their knees; and craved her pardon for any past neglect of their duty: she deigned, in return, to ask their pardon for her offences towards them;
" said shę,