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Nestor's modesty was such, that his art and skill were soon disregarded, for want of that manner with which men of the world support and assert the merit of their own performances. Soon after this instance of his art, Athens was, by the treachery of its enemies', burned to the ground. This gave Nestor the greatest occasion that ever builder had to render his name immortal, and his person venerable: for all the new city rose according to his disposition', and
commissioners in the beginning of 1666, which, the author insinuates, was rather an opposition to Sir Christopher Wren than to his plan; it continued, however, till within a few days of the fire on Sept. 2 in that year, which put the reparation of the cathedral out of the question. [His drawings, &c. for the tomb of Charles I. for which parliament voted 70,000l. were returned to him, to be kept till called for, and through incidents of the times, or motives unknown to the public, in the end laid aside.] There was likewise another model of St. Paul's, to which Sir Christopher (certainly the best judge, and far from being mercenary) gave the preference, and which he would have executed with more cheerfulness and satisfaction, had he not been over-ruled by those whom it was his duty to obey. Ut supra.
r The burning of Lyons in Gaul, as related by Seneca, Ep. 92, is the event in history that seems to come nearest to the fatal fire of London; of which our author does not state with strict precision the extent, or the original. Destructive as it was, it did not destroy the whole city; nor is it altogether certain that it was kindled by the treachery of its enemies. There is no such assertion in the original inscription drawn up by Sir Christopher Wren, and still preserved in the · Parentalia.' In the present inscription on the admirable historical pillar erected by this artist, as a perpetual monument of this calamity, it is roundly charged on the malice of the papists; but such as chuse to make up their minds upon this point, may see the pro and con of the argument, in the first volume of bishop Burnet's - History of his own Times.'
s It is certainly true that sir Christopher Wren drew up a most beautiful plan for this purpose, in which the deformity and inconveniences of the former city were remedied; but the execution of that noble design was unhappily prevented by the disputes which arose about private property, and the haste of rebuilding. For the particulars, see · Parentalia,' p. 267, & seqq.
• The monuments of the glories and distresses of his countrymen were doubtless erected by this sole artist.' To say nothing of the late customhouse, of many private houses, and several other things, sir Christ. Wren, in 35 years, finished the magnificent cathedral of St. Paul's, the second great structure in Europe, above fifty parochial churches, and erected so all the monuments of the glories and distresses of that people were erected by that sole artist : nay, all their temples, as well as houses, were the effects of his study and labour; insomuch that it was said by an old sage, “Sure Nestor will now be famous, for the habitations of gods, as well as men, are built by his contrivance.' But this bashful quality still put a damp upon his great knowledge, which has as fatal an effect upon men's reputations as poverty; for as it was said, “the poor man saved the city, and the poor man's labour was forgot;' so here we find, the modest man built the city, and the modest man's skill was unknown many trophies of his skill and industry, that Mr. Evelyn, a better judge than Steele, says of him, as our author does, that he rebuilt, improved, and beautified the greatest city in the universe.' He adds, that his works in the city, taken together with the royal palaces, the royal hospitals, magazines, and public structures of his erection, form such a body of civil architecture, as will appear to be the production of a whole century, rather than of the life and industry of one man, and remain, probably for ever, without a parallel.
+ What relates to sir Christopher Wren in this paper, is reprinted verbatim in the · Parentalia,' p. 349, with the following short addition, at the conclusion of the quotation from Eccl. chap. ix. v. 15. “But surely posterity are obliged to allow him that praise after his death, which he so industriously declined while he was living.'
Dr. Sprat says, that to the merits of sir Christopher Wren his country is farther indebted than has yet been acknowledged. It is modestly said in the · Parentalia,' that at the time when sir Christopher's patent for the office of surveyor of the royal works was superseded, “ his merit and labours were not remembered by some.' We learn likewise from that valuable book, that this great man's salary for building St. Paul's, from the foundation to the finishing thereof, was not more (as appears from the public accounts) than 2001. per annum.'-That his allowance for building all the parochial churches of the city of London was about 1001. per annum, and the same for the repairs of Westminster Abbey.'—That “he was director and chief architect of the royal hospital at Greenwich gratis, and cheerfully contributed to that work his time, labour, and skill for several years, without salary, emolument, or reward; preferring in this, as in every other passage of his life, the public service to his own private advantage,' &c. &c.
Such being the rewards of sir Christopher Wren's precious services, our author had certainly good ground to say, that this modest man's skill was unknown, and his art disregarded.'
Thus, we see, every man is the maker of his own fortune; and, what is very odd to consider, he must in some measure be the trumpet of his fame : not that men are to be tolerated who directly praise themselves; but they are to be endued with a sort of defensive eloquence, by which they shall be always capable of expressing the rules and arts by which they govern themselves.
Varillus was the man, of all I have read of, the happiest in the true possession of this quality of modesty. My author says of him, modesty in Varillus is really a virtue, for it is a voluntary quality, and the effect of good sense. He is naturally, bold and enterprising ; but so justly discreet, that he never acts or speaks any thing, but those who behold him know he has forborn much more than he has performed or uttered, out of deference to the persons before, whom he is. This makes Varillus truly amiable, and all his attempts successful; for, as bad as the world is thought to be by those who are perhaps unskilled in it, want of success in our actions is generally owing to want of judgment in what we ought to attempt, or a rustic modesty, which will not give us leave to undertake what we ought. But how unfortunate this diffident temper is to those who are possessed with it, may be best seen in the success of such as are wholly unacquainted with it.
We have one peculiar elegance in our language above all others, which is conspicuous in the term • Fellow.' This word, added to any of our adjectives, extremely varies, or quite alters, the sense of that with which it is joined. Thus though a' modest man’ is the most unfortunate of all men, yet a modest fellow' is as superlatively happy. “A modest fellow' is a ready creature, who with great humility, and as great forwardness, visits his patrons at all hours, and meets them in all places, and has so moderate an opinion of himself, that he makes his court at large. If you will not give him a great employment, he will be glad of a little one. He has so great a deference for his benefactor's judgment, that as he thinks himself fit for any thing he can get, so he is above nothing which is offered. He is like the young bachelor of arts, who came to town recommended to a chaplain's place; but none being vacant, modestly accepted that of a postillion.
We have very many conspicuous persons of this undertaking yet modest turn: I have a grandson who is very happy in this quality : I sent him in the time of the last peace into France. As soon as he landed at Calais, he sent me an exact account of the nature of the people, and the policies of the king of France. I got him since chosen a member of a corporation : the modest creature, as soon as he came into the common-council, told a senior burgess he was perfectly out of the orders of their house. In other circumstances, he is so thoroughly modest a fellow,' that he seems to pretend only to things he understands. He is a citizen only at court, and in the city a courtier. In a word, to speak the characteristical difference between a modest man' and • a modest fellow;' the modest man is in doubt in all his actions; a modest fellow never has a doubt from his cradle to his grave.
*** The young gentleman who borrowed the mistress's umbrella at Will's Coffee-house, for fear of rain, shall be welcome to my maids pattens on a like occasion, that he may be dry from head to foot. Female Tatler, No. 59, Dec. 12, 1709.
No. 53. THURSDAY, AUGUST 11, 1709 *.
Quicquid agunt homines
Juv. Sat. i. 85, 86.
WHITE'S CHOCOLATE-HOUSE, AUGUST 10.
THE CIVIL HUSBAND. The fate and character of the inconstant Osmyn is a just excuse for the little notice taken by his widow of his departure out of this life, which was equally troublesome to Elmira, his faithful spouse, and to himself. That life passed between them after this manner, is the reason the town has just now received a lady with all that gaiety, after having been a relict but three months, which other women hardly assume under fifteen, after such a disaster. Elmira is the daughter of a rich and worthy citizen, who gave her to Osmyn with a portion which might have obtained her an alliance with our noblest houses, and fixed her in the eye of the world where her story had not been now to be related : for her good qualities had made her the object of universal esteem among the polite part of mankind, from whom she has been banished and immured until the death of her gaoler. It is now full fifteen years since that beauteous lady was given into the hands of the happy Osmyn, who, in the sense of all the world, received at that time a present more