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Ind. Unknown t'engage you, ftill augments my score, And gives you scope of meriting the more.
Arim. The best of men
Some int'reft in their actions must confefs;
Than, like Bellerophon, my own fentence bear.
Why am I thus to slavery defign'd,
And yet am cheated with a free-born mind!
In this fcene, every circumftance concurs to turn tragedy to farce. The wild abfurdity of the expedient; the contemptible fubjection of the lover; the folly of obliging him to read the letter, only because it ought to have been concealed from him; the frequent interruptions of amorous impatience; the faint expoftulations of a voluntary flave; the imperious haughtinefs of a tyrant without power; the deep reflection of the yielding rebel upon fate and free-will; and his wife wifh to lofe his reafon as foon as he finds himself about to do what he cannot perfuade his reason to approve, are furely fufficient to awaken the most torpid rifibility.
There is scarce a tragedy of the laft century which has not debased its most important incidents, and polluted
luted its most serious interlocutions, with buffoonery and meannefs; but though perhaps it cannot be pretended that the present age has added much to the force and efficacy of the drama, it has at least been able to escape many faults, which either ignorance had overlooked, or indulgence had licenfed. The later tragedies indeed have faults of another kind, perhaps more destructive to delight, though less open to cenfure. That perpetual tumour of phrase with. which every thought is now expreffed by every perfonage, the paucity of adventures which regularity admits, and the unvaried equality of flowing dialogue, has taken away from our prefent writers almost all that dominion over the paffions which was the boaft of their predeceffors. Yet they may at least claim this commendation, that they avoid grofs faults, and that if they cannot often move terrour or pity, they are always careful not to provoke laughter.
NUMB. 126. SATURDAY, June 1, 1751.
Nihil eft aliud magnum quam multa minuta.
Sands form the mountain, moments make the
To the RAMBLER.
AMONG other topicks of converfation which
your papers fupply, I was lately engaged in a difcuffion of the character given by Tranquilla of her lover Venuftulus, whom, notwithstanding the feverity of his mistress, the greater number feemed inclined to acquit of unmanly or culpable timidity.
One of the company remarked that prudence ought to be distinguished from fear; and that if Ve nustulus was afraid of nocturnal adventures, no man who confidered how much every avenue of the fown was infefted with robbers could think him blameable; for why should life be hazarded without profpect of honour or advantage? Another was of opinion, that a brave man might be afraid of croffing the river in the calmeft weather, and declared, that, for his part, while there were coaches and a bridge, he would never be seen tottering in a wooden cafe, out of which he might be thrown by any irregular agitation, or which might be overfet by accident, or negligence, or by the force of a fudden guft, or the rufh of a larger veffel. It was his cuftom, he said, to keep the security of day-light, and dry ground; for
for it was a maxim with him, that no wife man ever perished by water, or was loft in the dark.
The next was humbly of opinion, that if Tranquilla had feen, like him, the cattle run roaring about the meadows in the hot months, fhe would not have thought meanly of her lover for not venturing his fafety among them. His neighbour then told us, that for his part he was not afhamed to confefs, that he could not fee a rat, though it was dead, without palpitation; that he had been driven fix times out of his lodgings either by rats or mice; and that he always had a bed in the closet for his fervant, whom he called up whenever the enemy was in motion. Another wondered that any man fhould think himself difgraced by a precipitate retreat from a dog; for there was always a poffibility that a dog might be mad; and that furely, though there was no dan ger but of being bit by a fierce animal, there was more wifdom in flight than conteft. By all these declarations another was encouraged to confefs, that if he had been admitted to the honour of paying his addresses to Tranquilla, he should have been likely to incur the fame cenfure; for, among all the animals upon which nature has impreffed deformity and horror, there is none whom he durft not encounter rather than a beetle.
Thus, Sir, though cowardice is univerfally defined too close and anxious an attention to perfonal fafety, there will be found fcarcely any fear, however exceffive in its degree, or unreasonable in its ob ject, which will be allowed to characterise a coward. Fear is a paffion which every man feels fo frequently predominant in his own breaft, that he is unwilling
to hear it cenfured with great afperity; and, perhaps, if we confefs the truth, the fame restraint which would hinder a man from declaiming against the frauds of any employment among thofe who profefs it, fhould with-hold him from treating fear with contempt among human beings.
Yet, fince fortitude is one of those virtues which the condition of our nature makes hourly neceflary, I think you cannot better direct your admonitions than against fuperfluous and panick terrors. Fear is implanted in us as a prefervative from evil; but its duty, like that of other paffions, is not to overbear reason, but to affift it; nor fhould it be fuf fered to tyrannize in the imagination, to raise phantoms of horror, or befet life with fupernumerary diftreffes.
To be always afraid of lofing life is, indeed, fcarcely to enjoy a life that can deferve the care of prefervation. He that once indulges idle fears will never be at reft. Our prefent ftate admits only of a kind of negative fecurity; we muft conclude ourselves fafe when we fee no danger, or none inadequate to our powers of oppofition. Death indeed continually hovers about us, but hovers commonly unfeen, unless we fharpen our fight by ufelefs curiofity.
There is always a point at which caution, however folicitous, muft limit its prefervatives, because one terror often counteracts another. I once knew one of the fpeculatifts of cowardice, whofe reigning disturbance was the dread of houfe-breakers. His enquiries were for nine years employed upon the best method of barring a window, or a door; and many an hour has he spent in establishing the preference