« ZurückWeiter »
rofity, it is impossible to be a great man. Whatever the rich and powerful may think of themselves; whatever value they may set upon their abundance and grandeur; they will find themselves but the more hated and despised for the ill use they make of it. You stiould look upon yourselves but as stewards and trustees for the distressed: your overabundance is but a deposit for the use and relief of the unhappy: you are answerable for all superfluities mis-spent. It is not to be supposed, that Providence would have made such distinctions atnong men, such unequal distributions, but that they might endear themselves to one another by mutual helps and obligations. Gratitude is the surest cement of iove, friendlhip, and society.
There are, indeed, rules to be observed, and measures to be kept, in the distribution of favours: we know who have both the power and inclination to do good; but, for want of judgment in the direction, they pass only for goodnatured fools, instead of generous benefactors.
My lord . ■ will grudge a guinea to an honest gentleman in distress, but readily give twenty to a common strumpet. Another (hall refuse to lend fifty pounds to his best friend, without sufficient security; and the next moment •set his whole fortune upon a card or a die; a chance for which he can have
no security. My lord -, is to be
seen every day at a toy-shop, squandering away his money in trinkets and baubles; and, at the fame time, leaves his brothers and sisters without common necessaries.
Generosity does not consist in a contempt of money, in throwing it away at random, without judgment or distinction; (though that indeed is better than locking it up, for multitudes have the benefit of it) but in a right disposition to proper objects, in proportion 'to the merit, the circu m stances, the rank, and condition, of those who stand in need of our service.
Princes are more exposed than any others to the misplacing their favours. Merit is ever modest, and keeps its distance: the forward and importunate
stand always nearest in sight, and are not to be put out of countenance, nor thrust out of the way. I remember to have heard a saying of the late King James, "That he never knew a modest "man make his way in a court." David Floyd, whom you know, being then in waiting at his majesty's elbow, replied bluntly, "Pray,Sir, whose fault's that?" The king stood corrected, and was silent,
If princes could fee with their own eyes, and hear with their own ears, what a happy situation it would be, both for themselves and their subjects! To reward merit, to redress the injured, to relieve the oppressed, to raise the modest, to humble the insolent; what a godlike prerogative, were a right use made of it!
How happy are you, my dear lord, who are born with such generons inclinations, with judgment to direct them, and the means to indulge them! Of all men, most miserable is he who hat the inclination without the means. To meet with a deserving object of compassion, without having the power to give relief, of all the circumstances in life is the most disagreeable: to have the power is the greatest pleasure, Methinks I fee you ready to cry out-— "Good cousin, why this discourse to "me? What occasion have I for these '* lectures?" None at all, my dear lord; 1 am only making my court to you, by letting you fee I think as you do. But one word more, and I have done—In trust, intimacy, and confidence, be as particular as you please; in humanity, charity, and benevolence, universal.
I am for ever, &c.
§ 146. To Mr. Bevil Granvilli, upon bit entering into Holy Orders.
When I look upon the date of your last letter, I must own myself blameable for not having sooner returned you my thanks for it.
I approve very well of your resolution of dedicating yourself to the service of God; you could not chuse a better master, provided you have so sufficiently searched your heart, as to be persuaded
"you you can serve him well: in so doing you tnay secure to yourself many blessings in this world, as well as a sure expectation in the next.
There is one thing which I perceive you have not yet thoroughly purged yourself from, which is flattery: yon have bestowed so much of that upon me in your letter, that I hope you have no more left, and that you meant it only to take your leave of such flights of fancy; which, however well meant, oftner put a man out of countenance than oblige him.
You are now become a searcher after truth: I (hall hereafter take it more kindly to be justly reproved by you, Mhan to be undeservedly complimented.
I would not have you understand me, as if I recommended to you a four severity, that is yet more to be avoided. Advice, like physic, ihould be so sweetened and prepared as to be made palatable, or nature may be apt to revolt against it. Be always sincere, but at the fame time always polite: be humble, without descending from your character : reprove and correct, without offending good-manners: to be a cynic is as bad as to be a sycophant. You are not to lay aside the gentleman with your sword, nor to put on the gown to hide your birth and good.breeding, but to adorn it.
Such has been the malice of the world from the beginning, that pride, avarice, and ambition, have been charged upon the priesthood in all ages, in all countries, and in all religions; what they are most obliged to combat against in their pulpits, they are most accused of encouraging in their conduct. It behoves you therefore to be more upon your guard in this, than in any other profession. Let your example confirm your doctrine; and let no man ever have it in his power to reproach you with practising contrary to what you preach.
You had an uncle, Dr. Dennis Granville, dean of Durham, whose memory I shall ever revere, make him your example. Sanctity sat so easy, so unaffected, and so graceful upon him, that in him we beheld the very beauty of holiness: he was as chearful, as fami
liar, and condescending in his conversation, as he was strict, regular, and exemplary in his piety: as well bred and accomplished as a courtier, as reverend and venerable as an apostle: he was indeed in every thing apostolical, for he abandoned all to follow his Lord and Master.
May you resemble him! may he revive in you! may his spirit descend upon you, as Elijah's upon Elishal And may the great God of Heaven, in guiding, directing, and strengthening your pious resolutions, pour down his best and choicest blessings upon you I You shall ever find me, dear nephew, Your affectionate uncle,
§147. A Letter from the Marquis Dl Montesquieu toayoungGentleman, on reading History.
I have learnt with much pleasure, that you have resolved to exercise a regular course of study in the country, and to continue it even at Paris, and with the army, in proportion as you shall have time. But you do me too much honour, to consult me about the reading you should make choice of, being so capable of making that choice yourself. Nevertheless, since you absolutely require that I should explain my self thereupon, I shall not hesitate to tell you, that I ssiould prefer the reading of history to all other. It is an opinion of which I have given a public testimony, and that I shall never change. Instead of quoting the passage where I speak advantageousty of history, I had ra'.her write it in this letter, for your ease and my own. You will not have the trouble to look for the book, and I shall not have that of recollecting the arguments I then advanced. That history instructs us in an engaging and agreeable manner; that the greater part of the other sciences give precepts which our mind usually slights, because it loves freedom, and because it takes pleasure in opposing every thing that savours of command. I added, that instead of those imperious maxims, history gives us only reflections to make upon
R r 3 the the events that (lie displays before our eyes, and that those events are so many examples which we have to follow or avoid. She makes us attend the councils of sovereigns, and enables us to distinguish flattery from good advice. She describes sieges and battles to us, and makes us take notice of the faults or good conduct of the generals. In a •word, she gives us, in a few years, an experience that many years cannot give, without her assistance. Will you permit me, Sir, to improve upon what I have said, and to take from a better .fund than my own i A most eloquent prelate will supply me with two or three periods which you will be very glad to know. He speaks of a great and ingenious princess, which we have just lost, and fays, that the resolution of prosecuting the study of wisdom, kept her engaged to the reading of which we speak. That history is rightly called the wife counsellor of princes. It is there, continued he, that the greatest kings have no more rank than by their virtues ; and that, degraded for ever by the hands of death, they undergo, without court, and without retinue, the judgment of all people, and of all ages. It is there we discover that the gloss of flattery is superficial, and that false colours will not last, how ingeniously soever they be laid on. There our admirable princes studied the duties of those whose lives compose history, &c. You fee, Sir, that I have kept my word, what I have borrowed is better than what is my own; and that I have thought •f nothing but satisfying you, without
considering that I was going to destroy the good opinion you might have of my writings. I will even tell you what historian I should prefer for pleasure and for instruction : it is Plutarch, whom the too severe critics will hardly acknowledge to be an historian. I must allow, indeed, that he has not made any body of history, and that he has left none but particular and unconnected lives: but what histories can be found which please and instruct like these lives? At least, what person can read them without relinking a thousand beauties, and remarking every moment maxims of morality and politics? Plutarch introduces them naturally; he gathers none but flowers that grow under his feet, and does not go out of his way to gather others. He paints the man whose life he relates: he makes him known, such as he was at the head of the armies, in the government of the people, in his own familyj and in his pleasures. In fine, Sir, I should be of the opinion of an author, who said, that if he was constrained to fling all the books of the ancients into the sea, Plutarch should be the last drowned. We will say more of this when we go to * * * * with the M. ofM****. If you would entertain your friends with less ceremony, we should already have made you this visit, but you treat at your house as sumptuously as if the fuperintendancy was still in your family.
I am most absolutely, Sir,
Your most humble, and most obedient servant.
EKD OF THE THIRD BOOK.
BOOK THE FOURTH. NARRATIVES, DIALOGUES, AND LETTERS;
HUMOROUS, FACETIOUS, AND ENTERTAINING PIECES.
§ l. the Story ofLe Fevre.
IT was some time in the summer of that year in which Dendermond was taken by the allies,—which was about seven years before my father came into the country,-and about as many after the time that my uncle Toby and Trim had privately decamped from my lather's house in town, in order to lay some of the finest sieges to some of the finest fortified cities in Europe—When my uncle Toby was one evening getting his supper, with Trim luting^behind him at a sma'l sideboard ;_The landlord of a little inn in the village came into the parlour with an empty phial in his hand to beg a glass or two of sack; 'tis for a poor «ntk«i»n,-I think, of the army, said the landlord, who has been taken ill at my house sour days ago, and has never held up his head since, or had a desire to taste any thing,'till just now, that he has a fancy for a glass of sack and a thin toast.-/ think, says he, taking his hand from his forehead, it would comfort me.——
If I could neither b?g, borrow,
nor buy such a thing.-added the landlord,—I would almost steal it for the poor gentleman, he is so ill.—7-1 hope in God he will still mend, continued he —we are all of us concerned for him.
Thou art a good-natured soul, I will answer for thee, cried my uncle Toby; and thou shalt drink the poor ger.'le.
man's health in a glass of sack thyself,— and take a couple of bottles, with my service, and tell him he is heartily welcome to them, and to a dozen more, if they will do him good.
Though I am persuaded, said my uncle Toby, as the landlord (hut the door, heisaverycompasiionatefellow—Trim, —yetlcannothelp entertaining an high opinion of his guest too; there must be something more than common in him, that in so lhortatime should win so much.
uoon the affections of his host; And
of his whole family, added the corporal, for they are all concerned for him.—— Stepaf;erhim, said my uncleToby,—do Trim, ind ask if he knows his name._
L| have quite forgot it, truly, said
the landlord, coming back into the parlour with the corporal,—but I can alk his son r.gain :—Has he a son with him
then ? said my uncle Toby. A boy,
replied the landlord, of about elevetror twelve years of age;—but the poor creature has tasted almost as little as his father; he does nothing but mourn and lament for him night and'day ;—he has not stirred from the bed-side these two
My uncle Toby laid down his knife and fork, and thrust his plate from before him, as the landlord gave him the account; and Trim, without being ordered, took away without faying one word, and in a fewminutes after brought him his pipe and tobaoco.
R r 4 "Stay
*-^—Stay in the room alittle, says my tancle Toby.
Trim !—said my uncle Toby, after he had lighted his pipe, and smoked about a dozen whiffs—Trim came in front of his master, and made his bow; *-my uncle Toby smoked on, and said no more.—■—Corporal! said my uncle Toby—the corporal made his bow.—— ,My uncle Toby proceeded no farther, but finished his pipe.
Trim '.■^-said my uncle Toby, I have a project in my head, as it is a bad night, of wrapping myself up warm in my roquelaure, and paying a visit to this poor gentleman.—Your honour's roquelaure* replied the corporal, has not once been had on, since the night before your hohour received your wound, when we mounted guard in the trenches before the gate of St. Nicholas;—and besides, it is socold and rainy anight, that what with the roquelaurej and what with the weather, 'twill be enough to give your honour your death, and bring on your honour's torment in your groin.—I fear so> replyed my uncle Toby; but I am not at rest in my mind, Trim, since the account the landlord has given me.—I wish I had not known so much of this affair,-i-added my uncle Toby,—or that I had known more of it:—How shall we manage it ?—Leave it, an't please your honour, to me, quoth the corporal;— I'll take my hat and stick, and go to the house and reconnoitre, and act accordingly; and I will bring your honour a full accountinan hour.-:—Thou shalt go, Trim, said my uncle Toby, and here's a milling for thee to drink with his servant.—I shall get it all out of him, said the corporal, shutting the door.
My uncle Toby filled his second pipe; and had it not been, that he now and then wandered from the point, with considering whether it was not full as well to have the curtain of the tennaile a straight line, as a crooked one,—he night be said to have thought of nothing else but poor Le Fevre and his boy the whole time he smoked it.
It was not till my uncle Toby had knocked the ashes out of his third pipe, that corporal Trim returned from the inn, and gave him the following account.
I despaired at first, said the corporal* of being able to bring back your ho" nour any kind of intelligence conrern" ing the poor sick lieutenant—Is he in the army then? said my uncle Toby—He is, said the corporal—And in what regiment? said my uncle Toby—I'll tell your honour, replied the corporal, every thing straight forwards, as I learnt it.—* Then, Trim, I'll fill another pipe, said my uncle Toby, and not interrupt thee till thou hast done; so sit down at thy ease; Trimt in the window-seat, and begin thy story again. The corporal made his old bow, which generally spoke, as plain as a bow could speak it—" Your honour is good :"—And having done that, he fat down, as he was ordered,-*", and begun the story to my uncle Toby over again in pretty near the fame words.
I despaired at first, said the corporals os being able to bring back any intelligence to your honour about the lieutenant and his son; for when I asked where his servant was, from whom I made myself sure of knowing every thing which was proper to be asked. —* That's a right distinction, Trim, said toy uncle Toby^-I was answered, an' please your honour, that he had no servant with him ;— that he had come to the inn with hired horses, which, upon finding himself unable to proceed, (to join, I suppose the regiment) he had dismissed the morning after he camels I get better', my dear, said he, as he gave his purse to his son to pay the man, —we can hire horses from hence.—But alas! the poor gentleman will never get from hence, said the landlady to me,— for I heard the death-watch all night long;—and whtnhe dies, the youth, his son, will tertainly die with him ; for he is broken-hearted already.
I was hearing this account, continued the corporal, when the youth came into the kitchen, to order the thin toast the landlord spoke of;—but I will do it for my father myself, said the youth.—Pray let me save you the trouble, young gentleman, said I, taking up a fork for the purpose, andoffering him my chair to sit down upon by the fire, whilst I did it. —I believe, fir, said he, very modestIy> I can please him best myself.—I am sure