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And Ovid, though in the description of a very barbarous circumstance, tells us, that when the tongue of a beautiful female was cut out, and thrown upon the ground, it could not forbear muttering even in that posture:
-Comprensam forcipe linguam
- The blade had cut
If a tongue would be talking without a mouth, what could it have done when it had all its organs of speech and accomplices of sound about it? I might here mention the story of the pippinwoman, had not I some reason to look upon it as fabulous.*
I must confess I am so wonderfully charmed with the music of this little instrument, that I would by no means discourage it. All that I aim at by this dissertation is, to cure it of some disagreeable notes, and in particular of those little jarrings and dissonances which arise from anger, censoriousness, gossiping, and coquetry. In short, I would always have it tuned by good-nature, truth, discretion, and sincerity. ADDISON.
* This is a fine stroke of humour, after having admitted Ovid's Tale of Philomel without any objections to its veracity. The story here referred to, is of an apple-woman, who when the Thames was frozen over, was said to have had her head cut off by the ice: it is humorously told in Gray's Trivia.
• The crackling crystal yields, she sinks, she dies,
No. 248. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14.
Hoc maximè officii est, ut quisque maximè opis indigeat, ita ei potissimùm opitulari.
TULL. It is a principal point of duty to assist another most when
he stands most in need of assistance.
THERE are none who deserve superiority over others in the esteem of mankind, who do not make it their endeavour to be beneficial to society; and who, upon all occasions which their circumstances of life can administer, do not take a certain unfeigned pleasure in conferring benefits of one kind or other. Those whose great talents and high birth have placed them in conspicuous stations of life, are indispensably obliged to exert some noble inclinations for the service of the world, or else such advantages become misfortunes, and shade and privacy are a more eligible portion. Where opportunities and inclinations are given to the same person, we sometimes see sublime instances of virtue, which so dazzle our imaginations, that we look with scorn on all which in lower scenes of life we may ourselves man's power
be able to practise. But this is a vicious way of thinking: and it bears some spice of romantic madness for a man to imagine that he must grow ambitious, or seek adventures, to be able to do great actions. It is in
in the world, who is above mere poverty, not only to do things worthy but heroic. The great foundation of civil virtue is self-denial; and there is no one above the necessities of life but has opportunities of exercising that noble quality, and doing as much as his circumstances will bear for the ease and convenience of other
and he who does more than ordinary men practise, upon such occasions as occur in his life, deserves the value of his friends as if he had done enterprises which are usually attended with the highest glory. Men of public spirit differ rather in their circumstances than their virtue; and the man who does all he can in a low station, is more a hero than he who omits any worthy action he is able to accomplish in a great one. years ago since Lapirius, in wrong of his elder brother, came to a great estate by gift of his father, by reason of the dissolute behaviour of the first-born. Shame and contrition reformed the life of the disinherited youth, and he became as remarkable for his good qualities as formerly for his errors. Lapirius, who observed his brother's amendment, sent him, on a new-year's day in the morning, the following letter:
It is not many
1 inclose to you the deeds whereby my father gave me this house and lands: had he lived until now, he would not have bestowed it in that man
ner; he took it from the man you were, and I restore it to tne man you are. I am, sir,
Your affectionate brother,
As great and exalted spirits undertake the
pursuit of hazardous actions for the good of others, at the same time gratifying their passion for glory; so do worthy minds in the domestic way of life deny themselves many advantages, to satisfy a generous benevolence which they bear to their friends oppressed with distresses and calamities. Such natures one may call stores of Providence, which are actuated by a secret celestial influcnce to undervalue the ordinary gratifications wealth, to give comfort to a heart loaded with affliction, to save a falling family, to preserve a branch of trade in their neighbourhood, and give work to the industrious, preserve the portion of the helpless infant, and raise the head of the mourning father. People whose hearts are wholly bent towards pleasure, or intent upon gain, never hear of the noble occurrences among men of industry and humanity. It would look like a city romance, to tell them of the
generous merchant, who the other day sent this billet to an eminent trader under difficulties to support himself, in whose fall many hundreds besides himself had perished; but because I think there is more spirit and true gallantry in it than in any letter I have ever read from Strephon to Phillis, I shall insert it even in the mercantile honest style in which it was sent.
I have heard of the casualties which have involved you in extreme distress at this time; and knowing you to be a man of great good-natyre, industry, and probity, have resolved to stand by you. Be of good cheer, the bearer brings with him five thousand pounds, and has my order to answer your
for as much more on my account. I did this in haste, for fear I should come too late for your relief: but you may value yourself with me to the sum of fifty thousana pounds; for I can very cheerfully run the hazard of being so much less rich than I am now to save an honest man whom I love. • Your friend and servant,
think there is somewhere in Montaigne mention made of a family-book, wherein als the occurrences that happened from one generation of that house to another were recorded. Were there such a method in the families which are concerned in this generosity, it would be a hard task for the greatest in Europe to give, in their own, an instance of a benefit better placed, or conferred with a more graceful air. It has been heretofore urged, how barbarous and inhuman is any unjust step made to the disadvantage of a trader; and by how much such an act towards him is detestable, by so much an act of kindness towards him is laudable. I remember to have heard a bencher of the Temple tell a story of a tradition in their house, where they had formerly a custom of choosing kings for such a season, and allowing him his expenses at the charge of the