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ardice to affront a creature that hath not power to
Whatever name therefore this ungenerous man may bestow on the helpless lady he hath injured, I shall not scruple to give him, in return for it, the appellation of coward.
A man that can so far descend from his dignity as to strike a lady, can never recover his reputation with either sex, because no provocation is thought strong enough to justify such treatment from the powerful towards the weak. In the circumstances in which poor Lesbia is situated, she can appeal to no man whatsoever to avenge an insult more grievous than a blow. If she could open her mouth, the base man knows that a hus. band, a brother, a generous friend, would die to see her righted.
A generous mind, however enraged against an enemy, feels its resentments sink and vanish away when the object of its wrath falls into its power. An estranged friend, filled with jealousy and discontent towards a bosom acquaintance, is apt to overflow with tenderness and remorse, when a creature that was once dear to him under. goes any misfortune. What name then shall we give to his ingratitude, who (forgetting the fa. vours he solicited with eagerness, and received with rapture) can insult the miseries that he himself caused, and make sport with the pain to which he owes his greatest pleasure? There is but one being in the creation whose province it is to practice upon
the imbecilities of frail creatures, and triumph in the woes which his own artifices brought about; and we well know those who follow his example will receive his reward.
Leaving my fair correspondent to the direction of her own wisdom and modesty; and her enemy, and his mean accomplices, to the compunction of their own hearts; I shall conclude this paper with a memorable instance of revenge, taken by a Spanish lady upon a guilty lover, which may serve to show what violent effects are wrought by the most tender passion, when sowered into hatred; and may deter the young and unwary from unlawful love. The story, however romantic it may appear, I have heard affirmed for truth.
Not many years ago an English gentleman, who in a rencounter by night in the streets of Madrid, had the misfortune to kill his man, fled into a church-porch for sanctuary. Leaning against the door he was surprised to find it open, and a glimmering light in the church. He had the courage to advance towards the light; but was terribly startled at the sight of a woman in white, who ascended from a grave with a bloody knife in her hand. The phantom marched up to him, and asked him what he did there. He told her the truth without reserve, believing that he had met a ghost; upon which she spoke to him in the following manner: Stranger, thou art in my power: I am a murderer as thou art. Know then that I am a nun of a noble family. A base perjured man undid me, and boasted of it. I soon had him dispatched; but not content with the murder, I have bribed the sexton to let me enter his grave, and have now plucked out his false heart from his body; and thus I use a traitor's heart.' At these words she tore it in pieces and trampled it under her feet.
No 612. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 1714.
Murranum hic atavos et avorum antiqua sonantem
VIRG. Æn. xii. 529.
It is highly laudable to pay respect to men who are descended from worthy ancestors, not only out of gratitude to those who have done good to mankind, but as it is an encouragement to others to follow their example. But this is an honour to be received, not demanded, by the descendants of great men; and they who are apt to remind us of their ancestors only put us upon making comparisons to their own disadvantage. There is some pretence for boasting of wit, beauty, strength, er wealth, because the communication of them may give pleasure or profit to others; but we have no merit, nor ought we to claim any respect, because our fathers acted well whether we would
The following letter ridicules the folly I have mentioned, in a new, and, I think, not disagreeable light. "MR. SPECTATOR,
· WERE the genealogy of every family preserved, there would probably be no man value ed or despised on account of his birth. There is scarce a beggar in the streets, who would not find himself lineally descended from some great man ; nor any one of the highest title, who would not discover several base and indigent persons among his ancestors. It would be a pleasant entertainment to see one pedigree of men appear together, under the same characters they bore when they acted their respective parts among the living. Suppose therefore a gentleman, full of his illustrious family, should in the same manner Virgil makes Æneas look over his descendants, see the whole line of his progenitors pass in review before his eyes-with how many varying passions would he behold shepherds and soldiers, statesmen and artificers, princes and beggars walk in the procession of five thousand years! How would his heart sink or flutter at the several sports of fortune, in a scene so diversified with rags and purple, handicraft tools and sceptres, ensigns of dignity, and emblems of disgrace! And how would his fears and apprehensions, his transports and mortifications, succeed one another, as the line of his genealogy appeared bright or obscure !
'In most of the pedigrees hung up in old mansion-houses, you are sure to find the first in the catalogue a great statesman, or a soldier with an honourable commission. The honest artificer that begot him, and all his frugal ancestors before him, are torn off from the top of the register; and you are not left to imagine that the noble founder of the family ever had a father. Were we to trace many boasted lines farther backwards, we should lose them in a mob of tradesmen, or a crowd of rustics, without hope of seeing them emerge again; not unlike the old Appian way, which, after having run many miles in length, loses itself in a bog.
• I lately made a visit to an old country gentleman, who is very far gone in this sort of family
madness. I found him in his study perusing an old register of his family, which he had just then discovered as it was branched out in the form of a tree, upon a skin of parchment. Having the honour to have some of his blood in my veins, he permitted me to cast my eye over the boughs of this venerable plant; and asked my advice in the reforming of some of the superfluous branches.
"We passed slightly over three or four of our immediate forefathers, whom we knew by tradition, but were soon stopped by an alderman of London, who I perceived made my kinsman's heart go pit-a-pat. His confusion increased when he found the alderman's father to be a grazier; but he recovered his fright upon seeing justice of the quorum at the end of his titles. Things went on pretty well as we threw our eyes occasionally over the tree, when unfortunately he perceived a merchant-tailor perched on a bough, who was said greatly to have increased the estate: he was just going to cut him off if he had not seen gent. after
the name of his son ; who was recorded to have mortgaged one of the manors his honost father had purchased. A weaver, who was burnt for his religion in the reign of queen Mary, was pruned away without mercy; as was likewise a yeoman who died of a fall from his own cart. But great was our triumph in one of the blood who was beheaded for high-treason : which nevertheless was not a little allayed by another of our ancestors who was hanged for stealing sheep. The expectations of my good cousin were wonderfully raised by a match into the family of a knight ; but unfortunately for us this branch proved barren: on the other hand, Margery the milk-maid, being twined round a bough, it flou