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forgot my acquaintance, and am resolved henceforward, let people say of me what they will, to be no one's friend but my own.
“ JOHN HEARTY.” I
66 I am,
No. 79. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 1780.
- Tantò major famæ sitis est, quàm Virtutis.
JUV, SAT. X 140.
TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR.
SIR, “THERE is, perhaps, no character in the world more frequent than that of your negatively good menpeople who strictly conform to the laws of decency and good order in society, whose conduct is squared to the rules of honesty and morality, and yet who never did one virtuous or laudable action from the day of their birth. Men of this sort seem to con. sider life as a journey through a barbarous country, occupied by savages, and overspread with dangers in every quarter. Their only wish is to steer the safest course, to escape any hidden snares of precipices, and to avoid exasperating the enemy: but to win them by offices of kindness, or attach them by real services, they consider as a fruitless waste of time, a needless expense, and often a dangerous experiment.
“ It is not a little surprising, that these good sort of men should, by the decency of their exterior deportment, so far impose upon the world, as to glide on with ease and safety, to arrive often at riches and eminence, and, from being free of the censure of every species of open vice, to obtain, not unfrequently, the respect which is due to virtue.
“You, Mr. MIRROR, like some other rigid moralists, seem, from the general strain of your writings, to require something more towards the formation of a good man than the mere absence of evil, or the mere livery of goodness. It must be allowed, however, that by a scrupulous observance of certain rules of decorum, and a timely use of the language and dialect of virtue, the exterior and visible part of the character is to be attained, which, for most of the useful
purposes of life, seems to be quite sufficient. But, as there are still a few who go a little deeper, and are scrupulous enough to require a purity of heart as well as of manners, it is pity that those sincere good people should lose all recompense for the sacrifice they make of many comfortable gratifications, while they see the rewards of virtue as certainly attained at a much smaller expense.
“ From my concern for the few I have mentioned, I have been considering, whether it were not possible to devise some means of unmasking those of the former character, some standard by which the two classes might be compared, or statical balance which should show the difference of weight and solidity of such objects as have a similar appearance. I think, Sir, I have been successful, and shall now propose to you my plan.
Imprimis, I lay it down as a rule, that men shall not be judged of by the actions they perform, but by such as they do not perform. Now, Sir, as those useful chronicles of facts, called newspapers, have
hitherto been only the records of what men have been daily a-doing, I propose to publish a newspaper of a different kind, which shall contain the daily intelligence of all such things as are not done.
For the benefit of such as choose to encourage my undertaking, I send you a specimen of the work, which I can safely promise, and hereby engage, shall contain more in quantity than any other periodical register whatever.
Saturday last, being the festival of Christmas, a day which the late worthy Sir Thomas W -- used to commemorate by giving a warm dinner to all the poor of the parish, the same was celebrated by his son, the present Sir Thomas, with no solemnity whatever.'
Yesterday George B-, Esq., who, by the death of an uncle, succeeded lately to an estate of 4000l. per annum, gave no answer to five charityletters from the natural children of his deceased relation, and their mother, who works hard for their maintenance.'
• In the course of last week four poor people died in the streets, owing to the great inclemency of the season.'
On Friday the 24th ult. the Duke of visited the Royal Infirmary of this city, and after perusing the list of contributions to that humane and useful foundation, was pleased to give a pinch of snuff to the gentleman that stood next him.
• It was confidently reported some days ago, that C- W- Esq. had paid his father's debts ; but, this, we are assured, is without foundation.'
In the action lately brought by E. L. a pauper, against her son-in-law Lord -, for an alimony, several eminent counsel being applied to in behalf
of the plaintiff, refused to take any concern in so shameful a prosecution.'
· W. P. Esq., who lately sustained a considerable loss by play, has not, as was asserted, sold his hunters and pack of harriers. He has only dismissed his chaplain, and cut off the allowance of some superannuated domestics, on whom his father bestowed annual pensions.'
• Whereas it has been reported, that R. V. Esq., who some time ago made a composition with his creditors of five shillings in the pound, has of late given several entertainments of three courses, we are desired to inform the public, from the best authority, viz. his butler, that the said gentleman never gives more than two courses and a dessert.'
• Last night, between the hours of nine and ten, a fire broke out in the kitchen of R. H. Esq., which, after burning with some violence for two hours, was happily extinguished. It did no further damage than the consuming of about 20 lb. of coals. It is surprising how very few such acci. dents have happened of late years.'
“ Such, Mr. MIRROR, is the nature of the paper which I propose shall daily give intelligence of whatever is omitted to be done in this city and its environs. Besides the recommendation of novelty, its general usefulness must be so apparent, that I can have very little doubt of its extensive circulation.
“ I am, sir,
“ Your most obedient servant,
I have been favoured, by an ingenious Corre. spondent, with the following observations on Pastoral Poetry.
No species of poetry has given occasion to more observation and criticism than what is called pastoral; though I am still inclined to suspect that the nature of this composition has not, after all, been properly ascertained. The critics have prescribed a great number of rules upon that subject, but without attempting to point out any principle in nature upon which they are founded; expecting perhaps, that, like receipts, they should be implicitly followed upon the mere authority of the persons by whom they are delivered. Thus we are informed that an eclogue, or pastoral, is an imitation of the action of a shepherd, or of one considered under that character; and that those who have introduced reapers, or fishermen, into this sort of composition, have acted improperly. Although an eclogue, however, ought to represent the manners of a shepherd, we are told that those manners should be painted, not as they are found in nature, but according to an ideal standard of perfection in what is called the golden age, where mankind live a life of simplicity, untainted by vice, and maintain a serenity and tranquillity of mind, undisturbed by avarice or ambition. In short, the actions of a shepherd, exhibited in this sort of writing, ought to have little resemblance to such as exist at present among that class of people, or probably ever did exist in any period of the world.
Is there not something mighty whimsical and arbitrary in these critical tenets? May we not be permitted to ask why a species of poetry should be appropriated to one particular profession or occupation, in contradistinction to all others ? What is