صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

grey beard, and jestingly told the porter, he would, one of these days, fetch it off. The porter, who took his beard for the great ornament that added grace and authority to his person, could scarce hear the mention, in jest, of his beard being cut off, with any patience. However he could not escape the mortal agony that such a loss would cause him. The fatal hour came; and see what happened. The young gentleman, as the porter was standing at the college-gate with other people about him, took hold of his beard with his left hand, and with a pair of scissors, which he had ready in his right, did that execution, that the porter and by-standers heard the cutting of scissors, and saw a handful of grey hairs fall to the ground. The porter, on that sight, in the utmost rage, ran immediately away to the president of the college; and there, with a loud and lamentable out-cry, desired justice to be done on the gentleman-commoner, for the great indignity and injury he had received from him. The president demanding what harm the other had done, the porter replied, an affront never to be forgiven; he had cut off his beard. The president, not without laughing, told him that his barber was a bungler, and that therefore he would do him that justice, that he should have nothing for his pains, having done his work so negligently; for he had left him, for aught he could see, after all his cutting, the largest and most reverend beard in the town. The porter, scarce able to believe what he said, put up his hand to his chin, on which he found as full a grown beard as ever. Out of countenance for his complaint for want of a beard, he sneaked away, and would not show his face for some time after.

The contrivance of the young gentleman was innocent and ingenious. He had provided a handful of white horse-hair, which he cut, under the covert of the other's beard, and so let it drop; which the testy fellow, without any farther examination, concluded to be of his own growth; and so, with open mouth, drew on himself every one's laughter; which could not be refused to such sad complaints and so reverend a beard.

Speaking of the expedite way of justice in Turkey,

he told this pleasant story; whereof he was an eyewitness at Aleppo. A fellow, who was carrying about bread to sell, at the turn of a street spying the cadee coming towards him, set down his basket of bread, and betook himself to his heels. The cadee coming on, and finding the basket of bread in his way, bid some of his under officers weigh it (for he always goes attended, for present execution of any fault he shall meet with); who finding it as it should be, left it, and went on. The fellow watching, at the corner of the street, what would become of his bread; when he found all was safe, returned to his basket. The bystanders asked him why he ran away, his bread being weight? That was more than I knew, says he; for though it be not mine, but I sell it for another; yet if it had been less than weight, and taken upon me, I should have been drubbed.

Many things of this nature, worth notice, would often drop from him in conversation; which would inform the world of several particularities concerning that country and people, among whom he spent several years. You will pardon me, if on the sudden my bad memory cannot, after such a distance of time, recollect more of them. Neither perhaps had this now occurred, had I not, on an occasion that revived it in my memory some time since by telling it to others, refreshed it in my own thoughts. of

I know not whether you find amongst the the papers his, that are, as you say, put into your hands, any Arabic proverbs, translated by him. He has told me that he had a collection of 3000, as I remember; and that they were for the most part very good. He had, as he intimated, some thoughts of translating them, and adding some notes, where they were necessary to clear any obscurities; but whether he ever did any thing in it before he died, I have not heard. But to return to what I can call to mind, and recover of him.

I do not remember that, in all my conversation with him, I ever saw him once angry, or to be so far provoked as to change colour or countenance, or tone of voice.

Displeasing actions and accidents would sometimes occur; there is no help for that; but nothing of that kind moved him, that I saw, to any passionate words; much less to chiding or clamour. His life appeared to me one constant calm.

How great his patience was in his long and dangerous lameness (wherein there were very terrible and painful operations) you have, no doubt, learnt from others. I happened to be absent from Oxford most of that time; but I have heard, and believed it, that it was suitable to the other parts of his life..

To conclude, I can say of him, what few men can say of any friend of theirs, nor I of any other of my acquaintance: that I do not remember I ever saw in him any one action that I did, or could in my own mind blame, or thought amiss in him.

Sir, if I had been put upon this task soon after his death, I might possibly have sent you a paper better furnished than this is, and with particularities fitter for your purpose, to fill up the character of so good and extraordinary a man, and so exemplary a life. The esteem and honour I have still for him would not suffer me to say nothing; though my decaying bad memory did ill second my desire to obey your commands. Pray accept this, as a mark of my willingness, and believe that I am

Your most humble servant,


A Letter to the Reverend Mr. Richard King.


Oates, 25 Aug. 1703. YOURS of the 4th instant I received; and though I am conscious I do not deserve those advantageous things, which your civility says of me in it; yet give me leave to assure you, that the offers of my service to you, which you are pleased to take notice of, is that



part, which I shall not fail to make good on all occasions.

You ask me, "what is the shortest and surest way, for a young gentleman, to attain a true knowledge of the Christian religion, in the full and just extent of it?" For so I understand your question; if I have mistaken in it, you must set me right. And to this I have a short and plain answer: "Let him study the Holy Scripture, especially the New Testament." Therein are contained the words of eternal life. It has God for its author; salvation for its end; and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. So that it is a wonder to me, how any one professing Christianity, that would seriously set himself to know his religion, should be in doubt where to employ his search, and lay out his pains for his information; when he knows a book, where it is all contained, pure and entire; and whither, at last, every one must have recourse, to verify that of it, which he finds any where else.

Your other question, which I think I may call two or three, will require a larger answer.

As to morality, which, I take it, is the first in those things you inquire after; that is best to be found in the book that I have already commended to you. But because you may perhaps think, that the better to observe those rules, a little warning may not be inconvenient, and some method of ranging them be useful for the memory; I recommend to you the Whole Duty of Man, as a methodical system; and if you desire a larger view of the parts of morality, I know not where you will find them so well and distinctly explained, and so strongly enforced, as in the practical divines of the church of England. The sermons of Dr. Barrow, archbishop Tillotson, and Dr. Whichcote, are masterpieces in this kind; not to name abundance of others, who excel on that subject. If you have a mind to see how far human reason advanced in the discovery of morality, you will have a good specimen of it in Tully's Offices; unless you have a mind to look farther back into the source from whence he drew his rules; and then you must consult Aristotle, and the other Greek philosophers.

Though prudence be reckoned among the cardinal virtues, yet I do not remember any professed treatise of morality, where it is treated in its full extent, and with that accuracy that it ought. For which possibly this may be a reason, that every imprudent action does not make a man culpable "in foro conscientiæ." The business of morality I look upon to be the avoiding of crimes; of prudence, inconveniencies, the foundation whereof lies in knowing men and manners. History teaches this best, next to experience; which is the only effectual way to get a knowledge of the world. As to the rules of prudence, in the conduct of common life, though there be several that have employed their pens therein; yet those writers have their eyes so fixed on convenience, that they sometimes lose the sight of virtue; and do not take care to keep themselves always elear from the borders of dishonesty, whilst they are tracing out what they take to be, sometimes, the securest way to success; most of those that I have seen on this subject having, as it seemed to me, something of this defect. So that I know none that I can confidently recommend to your young gentleman, but the son of Sirach.

To "complete a man in the practice of human of-fices," (for to that tend your inquiries) there is one thing more required; which, though it be ordinarily considered, as distinct both from virtue and prudence, yet I think it so nearly allied to them, that he will scarce keep himself from slips in both, who is without it. That, which I mean, is good breeding. The school, for a young gentleman to learn it in, is the conversation of those who are well-bred.

As to the last part of your inquiry, which is after "books that will give an insight into the constitution of the government, and real interest of his country;" to proceed orderly in this, I think the foundation should be laid in inquiring into the ground and nature of civil society; and how it is formed into different models of government; and what are the several species of it. Aristotle is allowed a master in this science, and few enter upon the consideration of government, without

« السابقةمتابعة »