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tence, to screen myself from the imputation of malice and prejudice; as using a weapon, which the wiser and better part of mankind hold in abhorrence; and as giving treatment which the wiser and better part of mankind dislike on the same principles, and for the same reason, as they do assassination, &c.; and all this is inferred and concluded from a character I have written in my Number III.
. In order to examine the justice and truth of this heavy charge, let us recur to that character. And here we may be surprised to find what a trifle has raised this mighty clamor and complaint, this grievous accusation !—The worst thing said of the person, in what is called my gross description (be he who he will to whom my accuser has applied the character of Cretico), is, that he is a sour philosopher, crafty, but not wise. Few human characters can be drawn that will not fit somebody, in so large a country as this ; but one would think, supposing I meant Cretico a real person, I had sufficiently manifested my impartiality, when I said, in that very paragraph, that Cretico is not without virtue; that there are many good things in him, and many good actions reported of him ; which must be allowed, in all reason, very much to overbalance in his favor those worst words, sourtempered, and cunning. Nay, my very enemy and accuser must have been sensible of this, when he freely acknowledges, that he has been seriously considering, and cannot yet determine, which he would choose to be, the Cato or Cretico of that paper ; since my Cato is one of the best of characters. Thus much in my own vindication. As to the only reasons there given, why I ought not to continue drawing characters, viz. Why should any man's picture be published which he never sat for ; or his good name taken from him any more than his money or possessions, at the arbitrary will of another, &c. ? I have but this to answer ; the money or possessions, I presume, are nothing to the purpose, since no man can claim a right either to those or a good name, if he has acted so as to forfeit them. And are not the public the only judges what share of reputation they think proper to allow any man? Supposing I was capable, and had an inclination to draw all the good and, bad characters in America, why should a good man be offended with me for drawing good characters? And if I draw ill ones, can they fit any but those that deserve them? And ought any but such to be concerned that they have their deserts ? I have as great an aversion and abhorrence for defamation and scandal as any man, and would with the utmost care avoid being guilty of such base things ; besides, I am very sensible and certain, that if I should make use of this paper to defame any person, my reputation would be sooner hurt by it than his, and the Busy-Body would qnickly become detestable; because, in such a case, as is justly
observed, the pleasure arising from a tale of wit and novelty soon dies away in generous and honest minds, and is followed with a secret grief to see their neighbors calumniated. But if I myself was actually the worst man in the province, and any one should draw my true character, would it not be ridiculous in me to say he had defamed and scandalised me, unless he had added in a matter of truth? If any thing is meant by asking, why any man's picture should be published which he never sat for? it must be, that we should give no character without the owner's consent. If I discern the wolf disguised in harmless wool, and contriving the destruction of my neighbor's sheep, must I have his permission before I am allowed to discover and prevent him ? If I know a man to be a designing knave, must I ask his consent to bid my friends beware of him? If so, then, by the same rule, supposing the Busy-Body had really merited all his enemy had charged him with, his consent likewise ought to have been obtained before so terrible an accusation was published against him.
I shall conclude with observing, that in the last paragraph save one of the piece now examined, much ill-nature and some good sense are co-inhabitants (as he expresses it). The ill-nature appears in his endeavoring to discover satire where I intended no such thing, but quite the reverse ; the good sense is this, that drawing too good a character of any one is a refined manner of sátire that may be as injurious to him as the contrary, by bringing on an examination that undresses the person, and in the haste of doing it, he may happen to be stript of what he really owns and deserves. As I am Censor, I might punish the first, but I forgive it. Yet I will not leave the latter unrewarded.; but assure my adversary, that in consideration of the merit of those four lines, I'am resolved to forbear injuring him on any account in that refined manner. · I thank my neighbor P- W- l for his kind letter.
The lions complained of shall be muzzled...
THE BUSY-BODY.--NO. VIII. .' From Tuesday, March 20, to Tuesday, March 27, 1729.
Quid non mortalia pectora cogis, , :. Auri sacra fames ?
VIRGIL. · One of the greatest pleasures an author can have, is certainly the hearing his works applauded. The hiding from the world our names while we publish our thoughts, is so absolutely necessary to this self-gratification, that I hope my well-wishers will congratulate me on my escape from the many diligent but fruitless inquiries that have of late been made after me. Every man will own, that an author, as such, ought to be hid by the merit of his productions only; but pride, party, and prejudice, at this time run 'so very, high, that experience shows we form our notions of a piece by the character of the author. Nay, there are some very humble politicians in and about this city, who will ask on which side the writer is, before they presume to give their opinion of the thing wróte. This ungenerous way of proceeding I was -well aware of before I published my first speculation, and therefore concealed my name. And I appeal to the more generous part of the world, if I have, since I appeared in the character of the Busy-Body, given an instance of my siding with any party more than another, in the unhappy divisions of my country; and I have, above all, this satisfaction in myself, that neither affection, aversion, or interest, have biassed me to use any partiality towards any man, or set of men : but whatsoever I find nonsensical, ridiculous, or immorally dishonest I have, and shall continue open!y to attack, with the freedom of an honest man and a :lover of my country. ...in ". I profess: I can hardly contain myself, or preserve the gravity and dignity that should attend the censorial office, when I hear the odd and unaccountable expositions that are put upon some of my works, through the malicious ignorance of -some, and the vain pride of more than ordinary -penetration in others; one instance of which many of my readers are acquainted with. A certain gentleman has taken a great deal of pains to write