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not really be metamorphosed into that musical and melancholy bird, is still a doubt
the Lesbians. Alcæus, the famous Lyric poet, who had for some time been passionately in love with Sappho, arrived at the promontory of Leucate that very evening, in order to take the leap upon her account; but hearing that Sappho had been there before him, and that her body could be no where found, he very generously lamented her fall, and is said to have written his hundred and. twenty-fifth ode upon that occasion.
Leaped in this Olympiad 250.
Wednesday, November 28.
Vellem in amicitia ficerraremus. Hor. Sat. 3. 1. 1. V.41,
Yo U very often hear people, after a story has
: been told with some entertaining circumstances, tell it over again with particulars that destroy the jest, but give light into the truth of the narration. This fort of veracity, though it is impertinent, has something amiable in it, because it proceeds from the love of truth, even in frivolous occasions. If such honest amendments do not promise, an agreeable companion, they do a sin- . cere friend ; for which reason one should allow them fo , much of our time, if we fall into their company, as to : set us right in matters that can do us no manner of harn, , whether the facts be one way or the other. Lies which are told out of arrogance and oftentation a man should detect in his own defence, because he should not be triumphed over ; lies which are told out of malice he Thould expose, both for his own fake and that of the veft of mankird, becaufe every man should rise against
a common enemy! but the officious liar many have argued is to be excused, because it does some man good, and no man hurt. The man who made more than ordinary speed from a fight in which the Athenians were beaten, and told them they had obtained a complete victory, and put the whole city into the utmost joy and exultation, was checked by the magistrates for his falsehood; but excused himself by saying, “O Athenians! am " I your enemy because I gave you two happy days ?” This fellow did to a whole people what an acquaintance of mine does every day he lives in some eminent degree to particular persons. He is ever lying people into good humour, and, as Plato said it is allowable in physicians to lie to their patients to keep up their spirits, I am half doubtful whether my friend's behaviour is not as excusable. His manner is to express himself surprised at the chearful countenance of a man whom he observes diffident of himself ; and generally by that means makes his lie a truth. He will, as if he did not know any thing of the circumstance, ask one whom he knows åt variance with another, what is the meaning that Mr. Such-a-one, naming his adversary, does not applaud him with that heartiness which formerly he has heard him? He said indeed, continues he, I would rather have that man for my friend than any man in England; but for an enemy This melts the person he talks to, who expected nothing but downright raillery from that fide. According as he fees his practices succeed, he goes to the opposite party, and tells him, he cannot imagine how it happens that some people know one another so little ; you spoke with so much coldness of a gentleman who said more good of you, than, let me tell you, any man living deferves. The success of one of these incidents was, that the next time that one of the adversaries spied the other, he hems after him in the public street, and they must crack a bottle at the next tavern, that used to turn out of the other's way to avoid one another's eyeshot. He will tell one beauty she was commended by another, nay, he will say she gave the woman he speaks to, the preference in a particular for which she herself is admired. The plea fanteft confusion imaginable is made through the whole town by my friend's indirect
offices ;. you shall have a visit returned after half a year's absence, and mutual railing at each other every day of that time. They meet with a thousand lamentations for so long a separation, each party naming herself for the greater delinquent, if the other can possibly be so good as to forgive her, which she has no reason in the world, but from the knowledge of her goodness to hope for. Very often a whole train of railers of each side tire their horses in setting matters right which they have said during the war between the parties; and a whole circle of acquaintance are put into a thousand pleasing paffions and sentiments, instead of the pangs of anger, envy, detraction, and malice.
The worst evil I ever observed this man's falsehood occasion, has been that he turned detraction into flattery. He is well skilled in the manners of the world, and by overlooking what men really are, he grounds his artifices upon what they have a mind to be. Upon this foundation, if two distant friends are brought together, and the cement seems to be weak, he never rests until he finds new appearances to take off all remains of ill-will, and that by new misunderstandings they are thoroughly reconciled.
To the SPECTATOR.
Devonshire, Nov. 14. 1711. THERE arrived in this neighbourhood two days ago one of your gay gentlemen of the town, who be
ing attended at his entry with a servant of his own, « besides a countryman he had taken up for a guide, ex<cited the curiosity of the village to learn whence and • what he might be. The countryman, to whom they
applied as moft easy of access, knew little more than
that the gentleman came from London to travel and • see fashions, and was, as he heard say, a free-thinker :
what religion that might be, he could not tell; and for • his own part, if they had not told him the man was a • free-thinker, he should have guessed, by his way of
talking, he was little better than a heathen ; except' ing only that he had been a good gentleman to him, • and made him drunk twice in one day, over and above what they had bargained for.
"I do not look upon the fimplicity of this, and seve'ral odd inquiries with which I shall not trouble you,
to be wondered at; much less can I think that our ' youths of fine wit, and enlarged understandings, have
any reason to laugh. There is no necessity that every
'squire in Great-Britain should know what the word • free-thinker stands for ; but it were much to be wished, • that they who value themselves
that conceited . title were a little better instructed in what it ought to • stand for ; and that they would not persuade them
felves a man is really and truly a free-thinker in any • tolerable sense, merely by virtue of his being an atheift
, or an infidel of any other distinction. It may be doubt
ed with good reason, whether there ever was in nature ' a more abject, Navith, and bigoted generation than • the tribe of Beaux Esprits, at present fo prevailing in • this island. Their pretension to be free-thinkers, is no
other than rakes have to be free-livers, and savages to ' be free-men; that is, they can think whatever they I have a mind to, and give themselves up to whatever
conceit the extravagancy of their inclination, or their
fancy, shall suggest ; they can think as wildly as they « talk and act, and will not endure that their wit should
be controuled by such formal things as decency and.
common sense: deduction, coherence, consistency, and • all the rules of reason they accordingly disdain, as too? precise and mechanical for men of a liberal education..
This, as far as I could ever learn from their writings, or my own observation, is a true account of the British “ free-thinker. Our visitant here, who gave occasion to
this paper, has brought with him a new system of common sense, the particulars of which I am not yet ac
quainted with, but will lose no opportunity of inform. ing myself whether it contains any thing worth Mr. 6. Spectator's notice. In the mean time, fir, I cannot ". but think it would be for the good of mankind, if you ... would take this subject into your own consideration,
and convince the hopeful youth of our nation, that licentiousness is not freedom; or, if such a paradox will
not be understood, that a prejudice towards atheism is. not impartiality. I am, fir, your most humble servant,
Thursday, November 29.
Hor. Ars Poet. v. 81.
There is nothing which lies more within the
province of a spectator than public shows and diversions; and as among these there are none which can pretend to vie with those elegant entertainments that are exhibited in our theatres, I think it particularly incumbent on me to take notice of every thing that is remarkable in such numerous and refined assemblies.
It is observed, that of late years there has been a certain person in the upper gallery of the play-house, who when he is pleased with any thing that is acted upon the stage, expresses his approbation by a loud knock upon the benches or the wainscot, which may be heard over the whole theatre. This person is commonly known by the name of the “ trunk-maker in the upper-gallery.” Whether it be, that the blow he gives on these occasions resembles that which is often heard in the shops of such artisans, or that he was supposed to have been a real trunk-maker, who after the finishing of his day's work, used to unbend his mind at these public diversions
with his hammer in his hand, I cannot certainly tell. There are fome, I know, who have been foolish enough to imagine it is a spirit which haunts the upper-gallery, and from time to time makes those strange noises ; and the rather because he is observed to be louder than ordinary every tiine the ghost of Hamlet appears. Others have. reported, that it is a dumb man, who has chosen this way of uttering himself when he is transported with any thing he fees or hears. Others will have it to be the playhoule thunderer, that exerts himself after this manner in the upper-gallery when he has nothing to do upon the roof.
But having made it my business to get the best information I could in a matter of this moment, I find that the trunk-maker, as he is commonly called, is a large