Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

dition of spirits which flow from moderate cups, it must be acknowledged, that leisure-time cannot be more agreeably, or perhaps more usefully employed, than at such meetings. There is a certain prudence in this, and all other circumstances which makes right or wrong in the conduct of ordinary life. Sir Jeoffrey Wildacre has nothing so much at heart, as that his son should know the world betimes. For this end he introduces him among the sots of his own age, where the boy learns to laugh at his father from the familiarity with which he sees him treated by his equals. This the old fellow calls ó living well with his heir, and teaching him to be too much his friend to be impatient for his estate.' But, for the more exact regulation of society in this and other matters, I shall publish-tables of the characters and relations among men, and by them instruct the town in making sets and companies for a bottle. This humour of Sir Jeoffrey shall be taken notice of in the first place; for there is, methinks, a sort of incest in drunkenness, and sons are not to behold fathers stripped of all

reverence.

excess.

It is shocking in nature for the young to see those, whom they should have an awe for, in circumstances of contempt. I shall therefore utterly forbid, that those whom nature should admonish to avoid too gross familiarities, shall be received into parties of pleasure where there is the least danger of

I should run through the whole doctrine of drinking, but that my thoughts are at present too much employed in the modelling my Court of Honour,' and altering the seats, benches, bar, and canopy, from that of the court wherein I, last winter, sat upon causes of less moment.

By the way, I shall take an opportunity to examine, what method is to be taken to make joiners and other artificers get out of a house they have once entered ; not forgetting to tie them under proper regulations. It is for want of such rules that I have, a day or two longer than I expected, been tormented and deafened with hammers ; insomuch, that I neither can pursue this discourse, nor answer the following and many other letters of the highest importance.

"MR. BICKERSTAFF,

We are man and wife, and have a boy and a girl; the lad seventeen, the maiden sixteen. We are quarrelling about some parts of their education. I Ralph cannot bear that I must pay for the girl's learning on the spinnet, when I know she has no ear. I Bridget have not patience to have my son whipped because he cannot make verses, when I know he is a blockhead. Pray, Sir, inform us, is it absolutely necessary that all who wear breeches must be taught to rhyme; all in petticoats to touch an instrument? Please to interpose in this and the like cases, to end much solid distress which arises from trifling causes, as it is common in wedlock, and

you
will
very

much oblige us and yours,

RALPH

YOKEFELLOW.
BRIDGET

}

N° 253. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 1710.

Pietate gravem ac meritis si fortè virum quem
Conspexere, silent, arrectisque auribus astant.

VIRG. Æn. i. 155.
If then some grave and pious man appear,
They hush their noise, and lend a listening ear.-

:-DRYDEN. From my own Apartment, November 20. Extract of the Journal of the Court of Honour, 1710.

Die Lunæ, vicesimo Novembris, hora nonâ antemeridiana. The court being sat, an oath prepared by the Censor was administered to the assistants on his right hand, who were all sworn upon their honour. The women on his left hand took the same oath upon their reputation. Twelve gentlemen of the horseguards were impannelled, having unanimously chosen Mr. Alexander Truncheon, who is their right hand man in the troop, for their foreman in the jury. Mr. Truncheon immediately drew his sword, and, holding it with the point towards his own body, presented it to the Censor. Mr. Bickerstaff received it; and, after having surveyed the breadth of the blade, and sharpness of the point, with more than ordinary attention, returned it to the foreman in a very graceful manner.

The rest of the jury, upon the delivery of the sword to their foreman, drew all of them together as one man, and saluted the bench with such an air, as signified the most resigned submission to those who commanded them, and the greatest magnanimity to execute what they should command.

Mr. Bickerstaff, after having received the compliments on his right hand, cast his eye upon the left, where the whole female jury paid their respects by a low courtesy, and by laying their hands upon their mouths. Their forewoman was a professed Platonist, that had spent much of her time in exhorting the sex to set a just value upon

their

persons, and to make the men know themselves.

There followed a profound silence, when at length, after some recollection, the Censor, who continued hitherto uncovered, put on his hat with great dignity; and, after having composed the brims of it in a manner suitable to the gravity of his character, he gave the following charge: which was received with silence and attention, that being the only applause which he admits of, or is ever given in his presence.

* The nature of my office, and the solemnity of this occasion, requiring that I should open my first session with a speech, I shall cast what I have to say under two principal heads.

. Under the first, I shall endeavour to shew the necessity and usefulness of this new-erected court; and, under the second, I shall give a word of advice and instruction to every constituent part of it.

As for the first, it is well observed by Phædrus, a heathen poet,

Nisi utile est quod facimus, frustra est gloria. Which is the same, ladies, as if I should say, it would be of no reputation for me to be president of a court which is of no benefit to the public. Now the advantages that may arise to the weal-public from this institution, will more plainly appear, consider what it suffers for the want of it. Are not our streets daily filled with wild pieces of justice, and random penalties? Are not crimes undetermined, and reparations disproportioned? How often have we seen the lie punished by death, and the liar himself deciding his own cause! nay, not only acting the judge, but the executioner! Have we not

if we

known a box on the ear more severely accounted for than man-slaughter? In these extra-judicial proceedings of mankind, an unmannerly jest is frequently as capital as a premeditated murder.

* But the most pernicious circumstance in this case is, that the man who suffers the injury must put himself

upon the same foot of danger with him that gave it, before he can have his just revenge ; so that the punishment is altogether accidental, and may fall as well upon the innocent as the guilty.

I shall only mention a case which happens frequently among the more polite nations of the world, and which I the rather mention, because both sexes are concerned in it, and which therefore you gentlemen, and you ladies of the jury, will the rather take notice of; I mean, that great and known case of cuckoldom. Supposing the person who has suffered insults in his dearer and better-half; supposing, I say, this person should resent the injuries done to his tender wife ; what is the reparation he may expect? Why, to be used worse than his poor lady, run through the body, and left breathless upon the bed of honour. What then, will you on my right hand say, must the man do that is affronted? Must our sides be elbowed, our shins broken? Must the wall, or perhaps our mistress, be taken from us? May a man knit his forehead into a frown, toss up his arm, or pish at what we say, and must the villain live after it? Is there no redress for injured honour ? Yes, gentlemen, that is the design of the judicature we have here established.

'A court of conscience, we very well know, was first instituted for the determining of several points of property, that were too little and trivial for the cognizance of higher courts of justice. In the same manner, our court of honour is appointed for the examination of several niceties and punctilios, that

« ZurückWeiter »