« PreviousContinue »
With the fall of their chiefs and leaders the contest did not conclude: the battle began at break of day: Douglas and Percy are supposed to have fallen in the afternoon; but squires and grooms carried on the contention till the sun was set; and even when the evening bell rung it was scarcely over. “Of twenty hundred Scottish spears, says the English version of the ballad, scarce fifty-five did flee." “Of fifteen hundred English spears," says the northern edition, “went home but fifty-three.” So both nations claim the victory; but in an older copy
the minstrel leaves it undecided; though Froissart, in the account which he drew from knights of both lands, says the Scotch were the conquerors. On both sides the flower of the border chivalry was engaged. The warlike names of Lovel, Heron, Widrington, Liddel, Ratcliffe, and Egerton, were the sufferers on the side of the Percys; while with Douglas fell Montgomery, Scott, Swinton, Johnstone, Maxwell, and Stewart of Dalswinton. The pennon and spear of Percy were carried with Montgomery’s body to the castle of Eglinton; and it is said that, when a late Duke of Northumberland requested their restoration, the Earl of Eglinton replied, " There is as good lea-land here as on Chevy Chase—let Percy come and take them."
One touch of natural affection is worth something after these records of causeless slaughter : Next day did many
But all would not prevail.
They bore with them away;
Ere they were clad in clay.
221.-A MODERN POLITICIAN.
S. BUTLER. (WE were desirous to give a specimen of the prose writings of the author of Hudibras ;' and could find nothing more available than the following . Character,' long as it is, and occasionally obsolete in its allusions. Butler was a disappointed man, and that may account for some of his bitter satire; but he lived in an age of political profligacy, and there is great, and perhaps universal, truth in some of his remarks.]
A modern politician makes new discoveries in politics, but they are, like those that Columbus made of the New World, very rich but barbarous. He endeavours to restore mankind to the original condition it fell from, by forgetting to discern between good and evil, and reduces all prudence back again to its first author, the serpent, that taught Adam wisdom; for he was really his tutor, and not Samboscor, as the Rabbins write. He finds the world has been mistaken in all ages, and that religion and morality are but vulgar errors that pass among the ignorant, and are but mere words to the wise. He despises all learning as a pedantic little thing; and believes books to be the business of children, and not of men.
He wonders how the distinction of virtue and vice came into the world's head; and believes them to be more ridiculous than any foppery of the schools. He holds it his duty to betray any man that shall take him for so much a fool as one fit to be trusted. He stedfastly believes that all men are born in the state of war, and that the civil life is but a cessation, and no peace nor accommodation; and though all open acts of hostility are forborne by consent, the enmity continues, and all advantages by treachery or breach of faith are very lawful. That there is no difference between virtue and fraud among friends as well as enemies; nor any thing unjust that a man can do without damage to his own safety or interest. That oaths are but springes to catch woodcocks withal; and bind none but those that are too weak and feeble to break them, when they become ever so small an impediment to their advantages. That conscience is the effect of ignorance, and the same with that foolish fear which some men apprehend when they are in the dark and alone. That honour is but the word which a prince gives a man to pass his guards withal, and save him from being stopped by law and justice, the sentinels of governments, when he has not wit nor credit enough to pass of himself. That to show respect to worth in any person is to appear a stranger to it, and not so familiarly acquainted with it as those are who use no ceremony; because it is no new thing to them, as it would
if they should take notice of it. That the easiest way to purchase a reputation of wisdom and knowledge is to slight and undervalue it, as the readiest way to buy cheap is to bring down the price; for the world will be apt to believe a man well provided with any necessary or useful commodity which he sets a small value upon.
That to oblige a friend is but a kind of casting him in prison, after the old Roman way, or modern Chinese, that chains the keeper and prisoner together: for he that binds another man to himself, binds himself as much to him, and lays a restraint upon both. For, as men commonly never forgive those that forgive them, and always hate those that purchase their estates (though they pay dear and more than any man else would give), so they never willingly endure those that have laid any engagements upon them, or at what rate soever purchased the least part of their freedom. And as partners for the most part cheat or suspect one another, so no man deals fairly with another that goes the least share in his freedom.
To propose any measure to wealth or power is to be ignorant of the nature of both; for as no man can ever have too much of either, so it is impossible to determine what is enough; and he that limits his desires by proposing to himself the enjoyment of any other pleasure but that of gaining more, shows he has but a dull inclination, that will not hold out to his journey's end. And, therefore, he believes that a courtier deserves to be begged himself that is ever satisfied with begging; for, fruition without desire is but a dull entertainment, and that pleasure only real and substantial that provokes and improves the appetite and increases in the enjoyment. And all the greatest masters in the several arts of thriving concur unanimously, that the plain downright * pleasure of gaining is greater and deserves to be preferred far before all the various delights of spending, which the curiosity, wit, or luxury of mankind, in all ages, could ever find out.
He believes there is no way of thriving so easy and certain, as to grow rich by defrauding the public; for public thieveries are more safe and less prosecuted than private, like robberies committed between sun and sun, which the county pays, and no one is greatly concerned in. And as the monster of many heads has less wit in them all than any one reasonable person, so the monster of many purses is easier cheated than any one indifferent crafty fool. For all the difficulty lies in being trusted, and when he has obtained that the business does itself; and if he should happen to be questioned and called to an account, a
bawdy pardon is as cheap as a paymaster's fee, not above fourteen pence in the pound.
He thinks that when a man comes to wealth or preferment, and is to put on a new person, his first business is to put off all his old friendships and acquaintances as things below him, and no way consistent with his present condition, especially such as may have occasion to make use of him, have reason to expect any civil returns from him; for requiting of obligations received in a man's necessity is the same thing with paying off debts contracted in his minority, when he was under
age, for which he is not accountable by the laws of the land. These he is to forget as fast as he can, and by little neglects to remove them to that distance, that they may at length by his example learn to forget him; for men, who travel together in company, when their occasions lie several ways ought to take leave and part. It is a hard matter for a man that comes to preferment not to forget himself, and therefore he may very well be allowed to take the freedom to forget others; for advancement, like the conversion of a sinner, gives a man new values of things and persons so different from those he had before, that that which was wont to be most dear to him does commonly after become the most disagreeable.
And as it is accounted noble to forget and pass over little injuries, so it is to forget little friendships, that are no better than injuries when they become disparagements, and can only be importune and troublesome instead of being useful, as they were before. All acts of oblivion have of late times been found to extend rather to loyal and faithful services done than rebellion and treasons committed. For benefits are like flowers, sweet only and fresh when they are newly gathered, but stink when they grow stale and wither; and he only is ungrateful who makes returns of obligations, for he does it merely to free himself from owing so much as thanks. Fair words are all the civility and humanity that one man owes to another, for they are obliging enough of themselves, and need not the assistance of deeds to make them good; for he that does not believe them has already received too much, and he that does, ought to expect no more. And, therefore, promises ought to oblige those only to whom they are made, not those who make them; for he that expects a man should bind himself, is worse than a thief who does that service for him after he has robbed
him on the highway. Promises are but words, and words air, which no man can claim a property in, but is equally free to all and incapable of being confined ; and if it were not, yet he who pays debts which he can possibly avoid, does but part with bis money for nothing, and pays more for the mere reputation of honesty and conscience than it is worth.
He prefers the way of applying to the vices and humours of great persons before all other methods of getting into favour, for he that can be admitted into these offices of privacy and trust, seldom fails to arrive at greater, and with greater ease and certainty than those who take the dull way of plain fidelity and merit. For vices, like beasts, are fond of none but those that feed them; and where they once prevail, all other considerations go for nothing. They are his own flesh and blood, born and bred out of him; and he has a stronger natural affection for them than all other relations whatsoever; and he that has an interest in these, has a greater power over him than all other obligations in the world. For, though they are but his imperfections and infirmities, he is the more tender of them, as a lame member or diseased limb is more carefully cherished than all the rest that are sound and in perfect vigour. All offices of this kind are the greatest endearments, being real flatteries enforced by deeds and actions, and therefore far more prevalent than those that are performed but by words and fawning, though very great advantages are daily obtained that way; and therefore he esteems flattery as the next most sure and successful way of improving his interests. For flattery is but a kind of civil idolatry, that makes images itself of virtue, worth, and honour in some person that is utterly void of all, and then falls down and worships them. And the more dull and absurd these applications are, the better they are always received; for men delight more to be presented with those things they want, than such as they have no need nor use of. And though they condemn the realities of those honours and renowns that are falsely imputed to them, they are wonderfully affected with their false pretences. For dreams work more upon men's passions than any waking thoughts of the same kind; and many, out of an ignorant superstition, give more credit to them than the most rational of all their vigilant conjectures, how false soever they prove in the event. No wonder, then, if those who apply to men's fancies and humours have a stronger influence upon them than