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No. 023 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

Sextus Quintus was not of so generous and forgiving a Temper. Upon his being made Pope, the statue of Pasquin was one Night dressed in a very dirty Shirt, with an Excuse written under it, that he was forced to wear foul Linnen, because his Laundress was made a Princess. This was a Reflection upon the Pope’s Sister, who, before the Promotion of her Brother, was in those mean Circumstances that Pasquin represented her. As this Pasquinade made a great noise in Rome, the Pope offered a Considerable Sum of Mony to any Person that should discover the Author of it. The Author, relying upon his Holiness’s Generosity, as also on some private Overtures which he had received from him, made the Discovery himself; upon which the Pope gave him the Reward he had promised, but at the same time, to disable the Satyrist for the future, ordered his Tongue to be cut out, and both his Hands to be chopped off. [5] Aretine [6] is too trite an instance. Every

one knows that all the Kings of Europe were his tributaries. Nay, there is a Letter of his extant, in which he makes his Boasts that he had laid the Sophi of Persia under Contribution.

Though in the various Examples which I have here drawn together, these several great Men behaved themselves very differently towards the Wits of the Age who had reproached them, they all of them plainly showed that they were very sensible of their Reproaches, and consequently that they received them as very great Injuries. For my own part, I would never trust a Man that I thought was capable of giving these secret Wounds, and cannot but think that he would hurt the Person, whose Reputation he thus assaults, in his Body or in his Fortune, could he do it with the same Security. There is indeed something very barbarous and inhuman in the ordinary Scriblers of Lampoons. An Innocent young Lady shall be exposed, for an unhappy Feature. A Father of a Family turn’d to Ridicule, for some domestick Calamity. A Wife be made uneasy all her Life, for a misinterpreted Word or Action. Nay, a good, a temperate, and a just Man, shall be put out of Countenance, by the Representation of those Qualities that should do him Honour. So pernicious a thing is Wit, when it is not tempered with Virtue and Humanity.

I have indeed heard of heedless, inconsiderate Writers, that without any Malice have sacrificed the Reputation of their Friends and Acquaintance to a certain Levity of Temper, and a silly Ambition of distinguishing themselves by a Spirit of Raillery and Satyr: As if it were not infinitely more honourable to be a Good-natured Man than a Wit. Where there is this little petulant Humour in an Author, he is often very mischievous without designing to be so. For which Reason I always lay it down as a Rule, that an indiscreet Man is more hurtful than an ill-natured one; for as the former will only attack his Enemies, and those he wishes ill to, the other injures indifferently both Friends and Foes. I cannot forbear, on this occasion, transcribing a Fable out of Sir Roger l’Estrange, [7] which accidentally lies before me.

‘A company of Waggish Boys were watching of Frogs at the side of a Pond, and still as any of ’em put up their Heads, they’d be pelting them down again with Stones. Children (says one of the Frogs), you never consider that though this may be Play to you, ’tis Death to us.’

As this Week is in a manner set apart and dedicated to Serious Thoughts, [8] I shall indulge my self in such Speculations as may not be altogether unsuitable to the Season; and in the mean time, as the settling in our selves a Charitable Frame of Mind is a Work very proper for the Time, I have in this Paper endeavoured to expose that particular Breach of Charity which has been generally over-looked by Divines, because they are but few who can be guilty of it.