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No. 181 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

Thursday, September 27, 1711.

‘His lacrymis vitam damus, et miserescimus ultro.’


I am more pleased with a Letter that is filled with Touches of Nature than of Wit. The following one is of this Kind.


‘Among all the Distresses which happen in Families, I do not remember that you have touched upon the Marriage of Children without the Consent of their Parents. I am one of [these [1]] unfortunate Persons. I was about Fifteen when I took the Liberty to choose for my self; and have ever since languished under the Displeasure of an inexorable Father, who, though he sees me happy in the best of Husbands, and blessed with very fine Children, can never be prevailed upon to forgive me. He was so kind to me before this unhappy Accident, that indeed it makes my Breach of Duty, in some measure, inexcusable; and at the same Time creates in me such a Tenderness towards him, that I love him above all things, and would die to be reconciled to him. I have thrown myself at his Feet, and besought him with Tears to pardon me; but he always pushes me away, and spurns me from him; I have written several Letters to him, but he will neither open nor receive them. About two Years ago I sent my little Boy to him, dressed in a new Apparel; but the Child returned to me crying, because he said his Grandfather would not see him, and had ordered him to be put out of his House. My Mother is won over to my Side, but dares not mention me to my Father for fear of provoking him. About a Month ago he lay sick upon his Bed, and in great Danger of his Life: I was pierced to the Heart at the News, and could not forbear going to inquire after his Health. My Mother took this Opportunity of speaking in my Behalf: she told him with abundance of Tears, that I was come to see him, that I could not speak to her for weeping, and that I should certainly break my Heart if he refus’d at that Time to give me his Blessing, and be reconciled to me. He was so far from relenting towards me, that he bid her speak no more of me, unless she had a mind to disturb him in his last Moments; for, Sir, you must know that he has the Reputation of an honest and religious Man, which makes my Misfortune so much the greater. God be thanked he is since recovered: But his severe Usage has given me such a Blow, that I shall soon sink under it, unless I may be relieved by any Impressions which the reading of this in your Paper may make upon him.

I am, etc.

Of all Hardnesses of Heart there is none so inexcusable as that of Parents towards their Children. An obstinate, inflexible, unforgiving Temper is odious upon all Occasions; but here it is unnatural. The Love, Tenderness, and Compassion, which are apt to arise in us towards those [who [2]] depend upon us, is that by which the whole World of Life is upheld. The Supreme Being, by the transcendent Excellency and Goodness of his Nature, extends his Mercy towards all his Works; and because his Creatures have not such a spontaneous Benevolence and Compassion towards those who are under their Care and Protection, he has implanted in them an Instinct, that supplies the Place of this inherent Goodness. I have illustrated this kind of Instinct in former Papers, and have shewn how it runs thro’ all the Species of brute Creatures, as indeed the whole Animal Creation subsists by it.

This Instinct in Man is more general and uncircumscribed than in Brutes, as being enlarged by the Dictates of Reason and Duty. For if we consider our selves attentively, we shall find that we are not only inclined to love those who descend from us, but that we bear a kind of [Greek: atorgae], or natural Affection, to every thing which relies upon us for its Good and Preservation. Dependance is a perpetual Call upon Humanity, and a greater Incitement to Tenderness and Pity than any other Motive whatsoever.