« הקודםהמשך »
State and Temper of all the ambitious, the covetous, the selfish Seekers of this World. Were you to apply by yourself, or your Friends, to such a Person as a Patron, your real Character, your absolute and personal Merit, whether you were a Man of Ability, Virtue, and Honour; whether you were sit to be trusted with such a Commission, to fill such a Post, or execute such an Office, with Dignity and Courage, would be no Part of the Question; but whether he will come into Measures; whether he will obey the Word of Command 5 whether he be sit to answer several other Purposes, to promote the several Schemes he has in view, or persorm any secret Services which the Necessity of his Affairs may require. This will be the sole Standard and Test of this spurious equivocal Merit. For, when the Head and Heart of a Patron are perverted by smister Views, indirect Schemes, and selfish Designs, he will be sure to encourage none but such as he is assured are both able and willing to promote the fame Views, and assist in the Execution of any favourite Scheme, which he may think necessary for the Increase or Security of his Fortune, his Power, or his Person. Now, when I see a Man facrifice his Understanding and Conscience to his Ambition or his Covetousness, or be a Tool or a Slave to the selfish, partial, corrupt Schemes and Intrigues of others; in whatever Form or Figure he may appear, I consider him in no other Light than that of a Pimp, or Procurer. And I think it is hardly a Matter of Question, which is the most infamous Prosession of the two, to be a Pimp to a Man's Lusts, or to his Vanity and Ambition. The former is, indeed, in common Estimation, reckoned the more scandalous; but
the latter may be more truly infamotis, and much more detestable, because the former may concern none but himself and his W—re; but the other may have fatal and execrable Consequences upon Posterity. This single Consideration may account for numberless whimsical Promotions that have been, and may hereafter be, made in all Ages of the "World. Hence it has come to pass, that many poor Creatures, whom Nature designed for Rat-catchers or Pedlars, have been set in high Places, exalted above their Betters, have wallowed in Luxury and Plenty, whilst better Men have wanted Bread. If there were no terrible Consequences attending this pernicious Evil, it would be ridiculous enough to know and consider the many and peculiar Kinds and Degrees of Merit, to which some fortunate People have owed their Promotion, in every Scene or Prosession of Lise. The being useful or necessary to a Patron, the marrying a near Relation, or the being able to requite one good Turn with another, have always been esteemed good and laudable Reasons for Preserence; but, that a Man fliould owe his Promotion purely to a wrong Turn of Head, or Corruption of Heart; to a ridiculous Cast of Face, or Set of Features, is a little whimsical and unaccountable.—I had once the Honour to be paying my Duty to a great Minister, who, in the Hunting-season, was come into the Country to enjoy the Pleasure of that healthy Diversion. At Supper he was mentioning to me, with great Marks of Approbation and Esteem, a young Clergyman, who appeared that Morning upon the Field, well mounted, smartly dressed, and one of the most alert Sportsmen he had eyer seen; and concluded with faying, He is * clever young Felloiv, 1mujl, and will, take care of him: And, had not this reverend Sport/man been forced, soon after, to travel into foreign Countries, in order to escape hanging in his own, which he richly deserved, he might, for aught I know, before this Time, have been—
Men that have pushed their Fortunes, and raised themselves by such odd and unworthy Arts, as none but the Worthless and Undeserving could ever practise, contract by degrees an habitual Narrowness of Soul, and a judicial Poverty of Heart, uncapable of every generous Thought, every noble and useful Design, of injoying their Plenty and Honour, and supporting their Characters with Dignity and Ease, and employing their Interest and Fortune for the Good and Benefit of Mankind, but raging with an infatiable Thirst and Appetite for more. Such as these are to be met with in every State of Lise; little, hungry, penurious Creatures, who, though never so full, are never fatisfied; who, though they have much more than they deserve, or know how to enjoy, are always craving for more; And what to do? Why, only to enrich some worthless Booby, whilst they suffer
Men of Learning, Probity, and Honour, to starve.
I remember, many Years ago, a humorous mad Fellow about Town, who had the Splendida bilis to an extravagant Degree. He was, by Prosession, a Maker and Mender of Souls. He had a Mould for the former, and a philosophical Tenter (as he tailed it) for stretching the Narrow and Contracted, and extending them to their due Dimensions. As I was one Day trudging down the Strand, I chanced to see him, in close Conserence with that little shriveled old Fellow, Gripe, the Scrivener. An Interview betwixt two such extraordinary Persons, I thought, must be something very particular, and I had Curiosity enough to make a Halt to see the Event. My Friend, the Operator, happening to spy me across the Street, leaves his Patient, and steps over to me. Sir, faid he, JVliat do you think? I have been offering that old Fellow to make him a Soul; the Dog fays, he has one already, but I can hardly believe him; I am sure, if he has, it was none of my making; and I offered to make him a Dozen better and larger than his for a Groat. Why, faid I, did you not offer to tenter his old one? Tenter him !—faid he, —Rot him, I would as soon try to tenter a Cobweb,—/ am sure it is so thin, and so rotten, it would break under my Hands, like a Piece of wet brown Paper. The Moral of this mad Speech is applicable to thoufands. Qui capit, illefacit.
Mankind may be fairly divided into Patrons and Clients; some who are able to give, and others who Want to receive: Some who have Favours to bestow, and others who have Favours to ask: Some who are forced to depend upon the Assistance and Protection of others, or make others depend upon them. The Necessities of Mankind, and the Inequality of their Fortunes, make this Dependance necessary; and it is the Business of Philosophy and Religion to regulate the Exercise, and direct the Management, of this Dependance, so as to make it useful to the Public, and answer the great Purposes and Designs of Providence, which is, to make one Man's Superfluity a Relief to another's Necessity; one Man's Strength a Support to another Man's Weakness; all mutually conspiring to promote the Glory of God, the Welfare of the Pub
Vol.i. K lie,
Kc, and the Bensit and Happiness of each other. Now, when Men of Merit, who are not always the Favourites of Fortune, are distressed in their worldlyCircumstances, and find there is nothing to be got but by mean and dishonourable Practices, they are too often tempted to let go their Integrity, and swim with the general Stream of Corruption, rather than starve with Honour and a good Conscience; for, as neither of these are marketable Commodities, no Wonder that Gold and Silver, with a good Proportion of Brass, carry all before them; and if, under such Discouragements, there be a visible Decay of Virtue, Honour, and public Spirit, Who can wonder?
It is a Reproach to Religion, Humanity, and a liberal Education, that there should be found, among Men of Learning, and, in other Respects, of fair and virtuous Characters, that Meanness and Littlenese of Mind, as to regard none but themselves; to ingross and inclose the whole Fountain of Favour, and exclude the Modest and Sincere from the Observation of those, who, if they knew them, might be disposed to favour and reward their Modesty and Merit; or, by vile Calumny or Misrepresentation, traduce and expose the Characters of thoje whom they envy, hate, or sear, as Rivals and Competitors. Nothing gives me a greater Idea of those two great Men, Horace and Virgil, than that they could, without Jealousy, or Emulation, recommend and support each other in the Favour of the most polite and munificent Patron in Rome. They were mutually conscious of each other's Merit in their different Places; there was no Competition for Favours, nor did either of them think himself edipsed or injured by any Applause X