Sivut kuvina

tries, amours, politics, and intrigues, by which they made their way to the holy purple.

* But when I propose a correspondence, I must not tell you what I intend to advise you

of hereafter, and neglect to give you what I have at present. The pope has been sick for this fortnight of a violent tooth-ache, which has very much raised the French faction, and put the Conclave into a great ferment. Every one of the pretenders to the succession is grown twenty years older than he was a fortnight ago. Each candidate tries who shall cough and stoop most; for these are at present the great gifts that recommend to the Apostolical seat: which he stands the fairest for, who is likely to resign it the soonest. I have known the time, when it used to rain Louis d'ors on such occasions ; but, whatever is the matter, there are very few of them to be seen, at present, at Rome; insomuch, that it is thought a man might purchase infallibility at a very reasonable rate. It is nevertheless hoped, that his holiness may recover, and bury these his imaginary successors.

There has lately been found a human tooth in a catacomb, which has engaged a couple of convents in a law-suit; each of them pretending, that it belonged to the jaw-bone of a saint, who was of their order. The college have sat upon it thrice; and I find there is a disposition among them to take it out of the possession of both the contending parties, by reason of a speech which was made by one of the cardinals, who by reason of its being found out of the company of any other bones, asserted, that it might be one of the teeth, which was coughed out by Elia, an old woman whose loss is recorded in Martial.

• I have nothing remarkable to communicate to you of state affairs, excepting only, that the Pope has lately received a horse from the German am

[ocr errors]

bassador, as an acknowledgment for the kingdom of Naples, which is a fief of the church. His holiness refused this horse from the Germans ever since the Duke of Anjou has been possessed of Spain; but as they lately took care to accompany it with a body of ten thousand more, they have at last overcome his holiness's modesty, and prevailed upon him to accept the present. I am, Sir, your most obedient, humble servant,

PASQUIN. · P.S. Marforio is very much yours.'

No 130. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 1709-10.

Tamen me
Cum magnis vixisse invita fatebitur usque

Hon. 2 Sat. i. 75.
Spite of herself ev'n Envy must confess,
That I the friendship of the great possess.-FRANCIS.

Sheer-lane, February 6. I FIND some of the most polite Latin authors, who wrote at a time when Rome was in its glory, speak with a certain noble vanity of the brightness and splendour of the age in which they lived. Pliny often compliments his Emperor Trajan upon this head; and when he would animate him to any thing great, or dissuade him from any thing that was improper, he insinuates, that it is befitting or unbecoming the claritas et nitor seculi, that period of time which was made illustrious by his reign. When we cast our eyes back on the history of mankind, and trace them through their several successions to their first original, we sometimes see them breaking out in great and memorable actions, and towering up to the utmost heights of virtue and knowledge; when, perhaps, if we carry our observations to a little distance, we see them sunk into sloth and ignorance, and altogether lost in darkness and obscurity. Sometimes the whole species is asleep for two or three generations, and then again awakens into action ; flourishes in heroes, philosophers, and poets; who do honour to human nature, and leave such tracks of glory behind them, as distinguish the years, in which they acted their part, from the ordinary course of time.

Methinks a man cannot, without a secret satisfaction, consider the glory of the present age, which will shine as bright as any other in the history of mankind. It is still big with great events, and has already produced changes and revolutions, which will be as much admired by posterity as any

that have happened in the days of our fathers, or in the old times before them. We have seen kingdoms divided and united, monarchs erected and deposed, nations transferred from one sovereign to another; conquerors raised to such a greatness, as has given a terror to Europe, and thrown down by such a fall, as has moved their pity.

But it is still a more pleasing view to an Englishman, to see his own country give the chief influence to so illustrious an age, and stand in the strongest point of light, amidst the diffused glory that surrounds it.

If we begin with learned men, we may observe, to the honour of our country, that those who make the greatest figure in most arts and sciences, are universally allowed to be of the British nation; and what is more remarkable, that men of the greatest learning, are among the men of the greatest quality.

A nation may indeed abound with persons of such uncommon parts and worth, as may make them rather a misfortune than a blessing to the public. Those, who singly might have been of infinite advantage to the age they live in, may, by rising up together in the same crisis of time, and by interfering in their pursuits of honour, rather interrupt, than promote the service of their country. Of this we have a famous instance in the republic of Rome, when Cæsar, Pompey, Cato, Cicero, and Brutus, endeavoured to recommend themselves at the same time to the admiration of their contemporaries. Mankind was not able to provide for so many extraordinary persons at once, or find our posts suitable to their ambition and abilities. For this reason they were all as miserable in their deaths, as they were famous in their lives, and occasioned not only the ruin of each other, but also that of the commonwealth.

It is therefore a particular happiness to a people, when the men of superior genius and character are so justly disposed in the high places of honour, that each of them moves in a sphere which is proper to him, and requires those particular qualities in which he excels.

If I see a general commanding the forces of his country, whose victories are not to be paralleled in story, and who is as famous for his negotiations as his victories* ; and at the same time see the management of a nation's treasury in the hands of one,

who has always distinguished himself by a generous contempt of his own private wealth, and an exact frugality of that which belongs to the publict; I cannot but think a people under such an administration may promise themselves conquests abroad, and plenty at home. If I were to wish for a proper person to

The Duke of Marlborough, commander-in-chief of her majesty's forces.

Sidney, Lord Godolphin, was then lord high-treasurer of England.

preside over the public councils, it should certainly be one as much admired for his universal knowledge of men and things, as for his eloquence, courage, and integrity, in the exerting of such extraordinary talents*.

Who is not pleased to see a person in the highest station in the law, who was the most eminent in his profession, and the most accomplished orator at the bart? Or at the head of a fleet a commander, under whose conduct the common enemy received such a blow, as he has never been able to recovert ?

Were we to form to ourselves the idea of one, whom we should think proper to govern a distant kingdom, consisting chiefly of those who differ from us in religion, and are influenced by foreign politics; would it not be such a one, as had signalized himself by a uniform and unshaken zeal for the Protestant interest, and by his dexterity in defeating the skill and artifice of its enemies? In short, if we find a great man popular for his honesty and humanity, as well as famed for his learning and great skill in all the languages of Europe; or a person eminent for those qualifications, which make men shine in public assemblies, or for that steadiness, constancy, and good sense, which

carry a man to the desired point through all the opposition of tumult and prejudice, we have the happiness to behold them in all posts suitable to their characters. Such a constellation of great persons,

if I

may * The great Lord Somers was at this time lord-president of the council. + Lord-chancellor Cowper is here alluded to.

Edward Russel, Earl of Orford, first lord-commissioner of the Admiralty.

$ Thomas, Earl of Wharton, had recently been honoured with the title of lord-lieutenant of Ireland ; Addison was his secretary.

[ocr errors]
« EdellinenJatka »