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place where a pun or a sneer shall pass for wit, noise for reason, and the strength of the argument be judged by that of the lungs. Among these witty gentlemen let us take a view of Ridentius; what a contemptible figure does he make with his train of paltry admirers! This wight shall give himself an hour's diversion with the cock of a man's hat, the heels of his shoes, an unguarded expression in his discourse, or even some personal defect; and the height of his low ambition is to put some one of the company to the blush, who perhaps must pay an equal share of the reckoning with himself. If such a fellow makes laughing the sole end and purpose of his life, if it is necessary to his constitution, or if he has a great desire of growing suddenly fat, let him eat; let him give public notice where any dull stupid rogues may get a quart of four-penny for being laughed at; but it is barbarously unhandsome when friends meet for the benefit of conversation, and a proper relaxation from business, that one should be the butt of the company, and four men made merry at the cost of the fifth.
How different from this character is that of the good-natured gay Eugenius I who never spoke yet but with a design to divert and please; and who was never yet baulked in his intention. Eugenius takes more delight in applying the wit of his friends, than in being admired himself; and if any one of the company is so unfortunate as to be touched a little too nearly, he will make use of some ingenious artifice to turn the edge of ridicule another way, choosing rather to make himself a public jest, than be at the pain of seeing his friend in confusion. Among the tribe of laughers, I reckon the petty gentlemen that write satires, and carry them about in their pockets, reading them themselves in all company they happen into; taking an advantage of the ill taste of the town, to make themselves famous for a pack of paltry low nonsense, for which they deserve to be kicked rather than admired, by all who have the least tincture of politeness. These I take to be the most incorrigible of all my readers; nay, I expect they will be squibbing at the Busy-Body himself. However, the only favor he begs of them is this, that if they cannot control their overbearing itch of scribbling, let him be attacked in downright biting lyrics; for there is no satire he dreads half so much as an attempt towards a panegyric.
THE BUSY-BODY.—NO. III. From Tuesday, February 11, fo Tuesday, February 18, 1728—9Non vultus instantis Tyranni Mente quatit solida, nec auster, Dux inquieti turbidus Adriae, Nec fulminantis magna Jovis manus.—Hor.
It is said that the Persians, in their ancient constitution, had public schools in which virtue was taught as a liberal art or science; and it is certainly of more consequence to a man, that he has learnt to govern his passions in spite of temptation, to be just in his dealings, to be temperate in his pleasures, to support himself with fortitude under his misfortunes, to behave with prudence in all his affairs, and in every circumstance of life; I say it is of much more real advantage to him to be thus qualified, than to be a master of all the arts and sciences in the world beside.
Virtue alone is sufficient to make a man great, glorious, and happy. He that is acquainted with Cato, as I am, cannot help thinking as I do now, and will acknowledge he deserves the name, without being honored by it. Cato is a man whom fortune has placed in the most obscure part of the country. His circumstances are such, as only put him above necessity, without affording him many superfluities; yet who is greater than Cato? I happened but the other day to be at a house in town, where, among others, were met men of the most note in this place: Cato had business with some of them, and knocked at the door. The most trifling actions of a man, in my opinion, as well as the smallest features and lineaments of the face, give a nice observer some notion of his mind. Methought he rapped in such a peculiar manner, as seemed of itself to express there was one who deserved as well as desired admission. He appeared in the plainest country garb; his great coat was coarse, and looked old and threadbare; his linen was homespun; his beard, perhaps, of seven days' growth; his shoes thick and heavy; and every part of his dress corresponding. Why was this man received with such concurring respect from every person in the room, even from those who had never known him or seen him before? It was not an exquisite form of person, or grandeur of dress, that struck us with admiration. I believe long habits of virtue have a sensible effect on the countenance: there was something in the air of his face that manifested the true greatness of his mind, which likewise appeared in all he said, and in every part of his behavior, obliging us to regard him with a kind of veneration. His aspect is sweetened with humanity and benevolence, and at the same time emboldened with resolution, equally free from diffident bashfulness and an unbecoming assurance. The consciousness of his own innate worth and unshaken integrity, renders him calm and undaunted in the presence of the most great and powerful, and upon the most extraordinary occasions. His strict justice and known impartiality, make him the arbitrator and decider of all differences that arise for many miles around him, without putting his neighbors to the charge, perplexity, and uncertainty of law-suits. He always speaks the thing he means, which he is never afraid or ashamed to do, because he knows he always means well, and therefore is never obliged to blush,
and feel the confusion of finding himself detected in the meanness of a falsehood. He never contrives ill against his neighbors, and therefore is never seen with a lowring, suspicious aspect. A mixture of innocence and wisdom makes him ever seriously cheerful. His generous hospitality to strangers, according to his ability; his goodness, his charity, his courage in the cause of the oppressed, his fidelity in friendship, his humility, his honesty and sincerity, his moderation, and his loyalty to the government; his piety, his temperance, his love to mankind, his magnanimity, his public-spiritedness, and, in fine, his consummate virtue, make him justly deserve to be esteemed the glory of his country.
The brave do never shun the light,
Just are their thoughts, and open are their tempers;
Freely without disguise they love and hate;
Still are they found in the fair face of day,
And heaven and men are judges of their actions.—Rowe.
Who would not rather choose, if it were in his choice, to merit the above character, than be the richest, the most learned, or the most powerful man in the province without it? .
Almost every man has a strong natural desire of being valued and esteemed by the rest of his species, but I am concerned and grieved to see how few fall into the right and only infallible method of becoming so. That laudable ambition is too commonly misapplied, and often ill employed.
Vol. i. c