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otherwise, that a general fame for "falsehood in this kind, is a recommendation; and the coxcomb, loaded with the favours of many others, is received like a victor that disdains his trophies, to be a victim to the present charmer.
If you see a man more full of gesture than ordinary in a public assembly, if loud upon no occasion, if negligent of the company round him, and yet laying wait for destroying by that negligence, you may take it for granted that he has ruined many a fair one. The woman's man expresses himself wholly in that motion which we call strutting. An elevated chest, a pinched hat, a measurable step, and a sly surveying eye, are the marks of him. Now and then you see a gentleman with all these accomplishments ; but, alas, any one of them is enough to undo thousands: when a gentleman with such perfections adds to it suitable learning, there should be public warning of his residence in town, that we may remove our wives and daughters. It happens some times that such a fine man has read all the miscellany poems, a few of our comedies, and has the translation of Ovid's Epistles by heart. “O if it were possible that such a one could be as true as he is charming! but that is too much, the women will share such a dear false man : a little gallantry to hear him talk one would indulge one's self in, let him reckon the sticks of one's fan, say something of the Cupids in it; and then call one so many soft names which a man of his learning has at his fingers?-ends. There sure is some excuse for frailty, when attacked by such force against a weak woman.'
Such is the soliloquy of many a lady one might name, at the sight of one of those who makes it no iniquity to go on from day to day in the sin of woman-slaughter.
It is certain that people are got into a way of affectation, with a manner of overlooking the most solid virtues, and admiring the most trivial excel. lencies. The woman is so far from expecting to be contemned for being a very injudicious silly animal, that while she can preserve her features and her mien, she knows she is still the object of desire; and there is a sort of secret ambition, from reading frivolous books, and keeping as fri. volous company, each side to be amiable in perfection, and arrive at the characters of the Dear Deceiver and the Perjured Fair.
No. 157. THURSDAY, AUGUST 30, 1711.
-Genius, natale comes qui temperat astrum,
HOR. 2 Ep. i. 187.
-That directing pow'r,
I am very much at a loss to express by any word that occurs to me in our language that which is understood by indoles in Latin. The natural disposition to any particular art, science, profession, or trade, is very much to be consulted in the care of youth, and studied by men for their own conduct when they form to themselves any scheme of life. It is wonderfully hard indeed for a man to judge of his own capacity impartially. That may look great to me which may appear little to another; and I may be carried by fondness towards
myself so far, as to attempt things too high for my talents and acco
complishments. But it is not methinks so very difficult a matter to make a judgment of the abilities of others, especially of those who are in their infancy. My common-place book directs me on this occasion to mention the dawning of greatness in Alexander, who being asked in his youth to contend for a prize in the Olympic games, answered he would, if he had kings to run against him. Cassius, who was one of the conspirators against Cæsar, gave as great a proof of his temper, when in his childhood he struck a play-fellow, the son of Sylla, for saying his father was master of the Roman people. Scipio is reported to have answered (when some flatterers at supper were asking him what the Romans should do for a general after his death) + Take Marius. Marius was then a very boy, and had given no instances of his valour; but it was visible to Scipio from the manners of the youth, that he had a soul formed for the attempt and execution of great undertakings. I must confess I have very often with much sorrow bewailed the misfortune of the children of Great Britain, when I consider the ignorance and undiscerning of the generality of schoolmasters. The boasted liberty we talk of is but a mean reward for the long servitude, the many heart-aches and terrors, to which our childhood is exposed in going through a grammar-school. Many of these stupid tyrants exercise their cruelty without any manner of distinction of the capacities of children, or the intention of parents in their behalf. There are many excellent tempers which are worthy to be nourished and cultivated with all possible diligence and care, that were never designed to be acquainted with Aristotle, Tully, or Virgil; and
there are as many who have capacities for understanding every word those great persons have writ, and yet were not born to have any relish of their writings. For want of this common and obvious discerning in those who have the care of youth, we have so many hundred unaccountable creatures every age whipped up into great scholErs, that are for ever near a right understanding, and will never arrive at it. These are the scandal of letters, and these are generally the men who are to teach others. The sense of shame and honour is enough to keep the world itself in order without corporal punishment, much more to train the minds of uncorrupted and innocent children. It happens, I doubt not, more than once in a year, that a lad is chastised for a blockhead, when it is good apprehension that makes him incapable of knowing what his teacher means. A brisk imagination very often may suggest an error, which a lad could not have fallen into, if he had been as heavy in conjecturing as his master in explaining: But there is no mercy even towards a wrong interpretation of his meaning, the sufferings of the scholar's body are to rectify the mistakes of his
I am confident that no boy, who will not be allured to letters without blows, will ever be brought to any thing with them. A great or good mind must necessarily be the worse for such indignities; and it is a sad change, to lose of its virtue for the improvement of its knowledge. No one who has gone through what they call a great school, but must remember to have seen children of excellent and ingenuous natures (as has afterwards appeared in their manhood); I say no man has passed through this way of education, but must have seen an ingenuous creature expiring with shame, with pale looks, beseeching sorrow, and silent tears, throw up its honest eyes, and kneel on its tender knees to an inexorable blockhead to be forgiven the false quantity of a word in making a Latin verse. The child is punished, and the next day he commits a like crime, and so a third with the same consequence. I would fain ask any reasonable man, whether this lad, in the simplicity of his native innocence, full of shame, and capable of any impression from that grace of soul, was not fitter for any purpose in this life, than after that spark of virtue is extinguished in him, though he is able to write twenty verses in an evening?
Seneca says, after his exalted way of talking, • As the immortal Gods never learnt any virtue, though they are endued with all that is good; so there are some men who have so natural a propensity to what they shouid follow, that they learn it almost as soon as they hear it.' Plants and vegetables are cultivated into the production of finer fruits than they would yield without that care; and yet we cannot entertain hopes of producing a tender conscious spirit into acts of virtue, without the same methods as are used to cut timber, or give new shape to a piece of stone.
It is wholly to this dreadful practice that we may attribute a certain hardiness and ferocity which some men, though liberally educated, carry about them in all their behaviour. To be bred like a gentleman, and punished like a malefactor, must, as we see it does, produce that illiberal sauciness which we see sometimes in men of let. ters.
The Spartan boy who suffered the fox (which he had stolen and hid under his coat) to eat into his bowels, I dare say had not half the wit or petulance which we learn at great schools among us: but