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No. 084 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

“Sir, do not add to that Load of Sorrow I see in your Countenance, the Awe of my Presence: Think you are speaking to your Friend; if the Circumstances of your Distress will admit of it, you shall find me so.”

To whom the Stranger:

“Oh excellent Pharamond, name not a Friend to the unfortunate Spinamont. I had one, but he is dead by my own Hand; [3] but, oh Pharamond, tho’ it was by the Hand of Spinamont, it was by the Guilt of Pharamond. I come not, oh excellent Prince, to implore your Pardon; I come to relate my Sorrow, a Sorrow too great for human Life to support: From henceforth shall all Occurrences appear Dreams or short Intervals of Amusement, from this one Affliction which has seiz’d my very Being: Pardon me, oh Pharamond, if my Griefs give me Leave, that I lay before you, in the Anguish of a wounded Mind, that you, good as you are, are guilty of the generous Blood spilt this Day by this unhappy Hand: Oh that it had perished before that Instant!”

Here the Stranger paused, and recollecting his Mind, after some little Meditation, he went on in a calmer Tone and Gesture as follows.

“There is an Authority due to Distress; and as none of human Race is above the Reach of Sorrow, none should be above the Hearing the Voice of it: I am sure Pharamond is not. Know then, that I have this Morning unfortunately killed in a Duel, the Man whom of all Men living I most loved. I command my self too much in your royal Presence, to say, Pharamond, give me my Friend! Pharamond has taken him from me! I will not say, shall the merciful Pharamond destroy his own Subjects? Will the Father of his Country murder his People? But, the merciful Pharamond does destroy his Subjects, the Father of his Country does murder his People. Fortune is so much the Pursuit of Mankind, that all Glory and Honour is in the Power of a Prince, because he has the Distribution of their Fortunes. It is therefore the Inadvertency, Negligence, or Guilt of Princes, to let any thing grow into Custom which is against their Laws. A Court can make Fashion and Duty walk together; it can never, without the Guilt of a Court, happen, that it shall not be unfashionable to do what is unlawful. But alas! in the Dominions of Pharamond, by the Force of a Tyrant Custom, which is mis-named a Point of Honour, the Duellist kills his Friend whom he loves; and the Judge condemns the Duellist, while he approves his Behaviour. Shame is the greatest of all Evils; what avail Laws, when Death only attends the Breach of them, and Shame Obedience to them? As for me, oh Pharamond, were it possible to describe the nameless Kinds of Compunctions and Tendernesses I feel, when I reflect upon the little Accidents in our former Familiarity, my Mind swells into Sorrow which cannot be resisted enough to be silent in the Presence of Pharamond.”

With that he fell into a Flood of Tears, and wept aloud.

“Why should not Pharamond hear the Anguish he only can relieve others from in Time to come? Let him hear from me, what they feel who have given Death by the false Mercy of his Administration, and form to himself the Vengeance call’d for by those who have perished by his Negligence.’


[Footnote 1: See No. 76. Steele uses the suggestion of the Romance of ‘Pharamond’ whose

‘whole Person,’ says the romancer, ‘was of so excellent a composition, and his words so Great and so Noble that it was very difficult to deny him reverence,’

to connect with a remote king his ideas of the duty of a Court. Pharamond’s friend Eucrate, whose name means Power well used, is an invention of the Essayist, as well as the incident and dialogue here given, for an immediate good purpose of his own, which he pleasantly contrives in imitation of the style of the romance. In the original, Pharamond is said to be

‘truly and wholly charming, as well for the vivacity and delicateness of his spirit, accompanied with a perfect knowledge of all Sciences, as for a sweetness which is wholly particular to him, and a complacence which &c; … All his inclinations are in such manner fixed upon virtue, that no consideration nor passion can disturb him; and in those extremities into which his ill fortune hath cast him, he hath never let pass any occasion to do good.’

That is why Steele chose Pharamond for his king in this and a preceding paper.]

[Footnote 2: the utmost sense of his Majesty without the ability to express it.]

[Footnote 3: Spinamont is Mr. Thornhill, who, on the 9th of May, 1711, killed in a duel Sir Cholmomleley Dering, Baronet, of Kent. Mr. Thornhill was tried and acquitted; but two months afterwards, assassinated by two men, who, as they stabbed him, bade him remember Sir Cholmondeley Dering. Steele wrote often and well against duelling, condemning it in the ‘Tatler’ several times, in the ‘Spectator’ several times, in the ‘Guardian’ several times, and even in one of his plays.]