« НазадПродовжити »
occasional deviations into sincerity." Philip wasinclined to think that the English allies of the Dutch revolters “had been influenced by knavish and deceitful motives from the beginning. He enjoined it upon Parma, therefore, to proceed with equal knavery.” The historian describes the great drama of negotiation which, in 1607, was to follow a forty years' tragedy, as wearing the aspect of a solemn comedy—there being a secret disposition on the part of each leading personage, with a few exceptions, to make dupes of all the rest.
“To cheat the cheater, was no cheat, but justice, as Father Pennyboy sententiously words it, in Jonson's Staple of News. Or as Mosca, in The Fox,
“ To cozen him of all, were but a cheat
Well placed ; no man would construe it a sin.”1 Or as Subtle, in The Alchemist, bidding a cozener cozen all he can : “To deceive him is no deceit but justice." So Cicero, in the same playwright's Catiline, instructing the Gaulish envoys to dissemble with the conspirators, and thus enmesh and ruin them; for, “Ill deeds are well turned back upon their authors, and 'gainst an injurer the return is just.” Just as Milton's Agonistes makes it his boast, that on his enemies, wherever he
i Says Edie Ochiltree, apologetically, in Scott's Antiquary, "I canna think it an unlawfu' thing to pit a bit trick on sic a land-souping scoundrel, that just lives by tricking honester folk,”-Dousterswivel, the "adept," being the scoundrel in question, concerning whom the Antiquary himself, also apologetically on Edie's behalf, in a subsequent chapter suggests, that he must have been about some roguery, and caught in a trap of his own setting. Nec lex justitior ulla.—“I niver cheat anybody as doesn't want to cheat me, miss," declares the packman to Maggie Tulliver, in The Mill on the Floss.—“Now, isn't it a moral obligation on a man to cheat such a rascal !” exclaims Smoke, of Spreadweasel, in Jerrold's comedy. So Johnson, of Jermyn, in George Eliot's Felix Holt: to act with doubleness towards a man whose own conduct was double, was to him so near an approach to virtue that it deserved to be called by no meaner name than diplomacy.-“ Contrivance ! what, to cheat me ? to cheat your father?” cries Sir Sampson, in the old play. “Indeed, I thought, sir,” answers Valentine, “ when the father endeavoured to undo the son, it was a reasonable return of nature.” One of Mr. Trollope's shady clergymen is described as playing an intricate game, and knowing it-knowing that “all was not on the square ; but he thought that the enemy was playing him false, and that falsehood in return was therefore fair.”
chanced, he used hostility, and took their spoil, to pay his underminers in their coin. Estifania cozens the copper captain that was intent on cozening Estifania ; and the moral drawn by the latter is, that
“Shadow for shadow is an equal justice.” There is indeed no source of dramatic effect more complete, says Hazlitt, than that species of practical satire by which one character in the piece is made a fool of and turned into ridicule to his face, by the very person whom he is trying to overreach. Even so upright and downright and outright an honest fellow as the Deerslayer of Cooper finds irresistible the temptation to out trick a circumventing Mingo. “Ah's me! Desait and a false tongue are evil things, and altogether onbecoming our colour, Hetty ; but it is a pleasure and a satisfaction to outdo the contrivances of a redskin.” In another story of the series, the scout, by this time an older and a sadder man, in warning a British officer against the devices of the Hurons, adds : “I say, young gentleman, may Providence bless our undertaking, which is altogether for good; and remember that, to outwit the knaves, it is lawful to practise things that may not be naturally the gift of a white skin.” “I have a conscience," says the autobiographer in one of Marryat's fictions, “and own that I have been playing what may be called an unworthy game; but when it is considered how long I have been defrauded of my rights by the duplicity of others, I think I may be excused if I have beat them at their own weapons.” He who so excuses himself is self accused; but the world is apt in such cases to endorse the excuse, with a will. As with Shakspeare's fair Florentine :
"Only, in this disguise, I think 't no sin
To cozen him that would unjustly win.” Plutarch tells how the Carthaginians at Rhegium, upon the breaking up of the assembly, seeing that Timoleon was gone, chafed and fretted 1 to find themselves outwitted; "and it afforded no small diversion to the Rhegians, that Phænicians should complain of anything effected by guile.” For was not fides Punica a proverb, a byword, all the civilized world over? Gibbon relates, with implicit approval, how “ the policy of Julian condescended to surprise the prince of the Allemanni by his own arts.” Dean Milman describes the wager of battle between Peter of Arragon and Charles of Anjou, with all its solemn preliminaries, as ending in a pitiful comedy, in which Charles had the ignominy of practising base and disloyal designs against his adversary; Peter, that of eluding the contest by craft,“ justifiable only as his mistrust of his adversary was well or ill grounded, but much too cunning for a frank and generous knight.” Rienzi grounded his apology for free resort to tricksome tactics, on the fact that, in taking up “the cause of the people against their worst tyrants,” he had to deal with no frank and open antagonists, but with “men of shifts and wiles the subtlest and most deceitful.” Among the extant verses attributed to Cato, is this distich :
i Compare the resentment of the French in 1806, at Blucher's escaping them by dint of affirming that an armistice had been concluded. Alison
“Qui simulat verbis, nec corde est fidus amicus ;
Tu quoque fac simile, et sic ars deluditur arte."
Many an antique Roman was a proficient in that art, and in the ars celandi that artem. Sulla was so proud of having outmancuyred Jugurtha—for that Numidian king was the type of accomplished craft—that he had a seal ring made in memoriam, and used it to the end of his days.
Æsop's fable of the horse and the lion closes with the jubilant trotting away of the former, in highest glee at the success of a trick (with his heels) by which he had defeated
reminds the French historians who inveigh most severely against this unworthy ruse de guerre, of their own General Lecourbe's escaping destruction in 1799, at the hands of the Austrians, solely by the mendacious assertion that a negotiation for peace was commenced ; and again of Lannes and Murat, in the campaign of Austerlitz, who won the bridge of Vienna by declaring that an armistice had been concluded, which they well knew was not the case ; and, a few days later, of Murat's trying a similar piece of deceit with the Russian Kutusoff, and being only foiled by the superior finesse of that astute commander.
the device of his would-be destroyer. Car c'est double plaisir de tromper le trompeur, is the terminus ad quem of La Fontaine's cock and fox fable; and his one line “moral,” annexed to the gravedigger and his mate is, Il n'est pas malaisé de tromper un trompeur. Sometimes it is a third “ party” that effects the trick and enjoys the profit, as with Pope's Sir Balaam at one stage of his progress, or rather, his facile descent to Avernus :
“Asleep and naked as an Indian lay,
HARD SAYING, EASY CURE.
2 KINGS v. 11-14. THE lines had fallen to Naaman in pleasant places;
1 captain of the host, he was a great man with his master, the king of Syria, and honourable, and recognised as a power in the state, and renowned throughout the region of Abana and Pharpar as a mighty man in valour; but—he was a leper. The but is not verbally in the Hebrew, as the italics in our version indicate. Yet, if not present in the letter, how very present is it in spirit-even, as the phrase goes, conspicuous by its absence. Always there is a but in mortal prosperity, be the but in italics, or common type, or emphasized capitals. Always there is a crook in the lot, a fly in the ointment, a flaw in the crystal. Always, in the words of a latter day moralist, “there is a black spot on our sunshine.” The black spot on Haman's sunshine, as that well-to-do courtier sunned himself at palace porch, was the shadow of a Jew that sat at the king's gate: a chilling presence that was not to be put by. The spot in Naaman's case was the loathsome one of leprosy. Great, valiant, influential, the observed of all observers at court, but a leper. Wealth and titles flowing in upon him, but leprosy cleaving to him all the same, as to one “in whom is the plague of leprosy, whose hand is not able to get that which pertaineth to his cleansing" (Lev. xiv. 32). Can the leper, any more than the leopard, change his spots ? Naaman cannot, except by resort to the prophet in Israel, and by a sevenfold baptism in the stream that great captain holds so cheap. The prophet's saying is a hard saying to him ; so easy seems the cure, so undignified the simplicity of the prescription, so void the remedy of pomp, circumstance, or cost.
Great expectations had the Syrian generalissimo been led to form concerning the prophet that was in Samaria, and his alleged power to cure a leper even as white as snow ; nor were those expectations disappointed. But great were the expectations he had also formed concerning the mode of cure; and in these disappointed he was, most signally. The prophet from afar prescribed for the leper; and when the leper came to know the prescription, how simple it was! He turned, and went away in a rage. Wash in Jordan seven times—was that all? Without even a personal interview with the prophet, to go and dip in a little foreign stream, and hope for cleansing by such means as that? Jordan, forsooth! when Abana and Pharpar were nearer at hand-rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel. If the prophet had bidden him do some great thing, confessedly and eagerly he would have done it ; but such a prescription as merely “Wash and be clean” seemed a trifling with his disease, if not a deliberate insult to himself.
Jordan! The proud Syrian's scorn for the petty stream was well-nigh as magnificent as that of behemoth, who trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. Abana and Pharpar were quite another matter. Toward them he might easily have been induced to feel much as the prince in Plutarch to that river Choaspes, whose water alone he could drink; or as the queen in Euripides to that river Ismenus, whose water was not, she so bitterly complained, in use at her son's wedding. Hebrew bards might, then or afterwards, speak of the swellings