« AnteriorContinuar »
play, drink, and vicious amours, whereby the nobility and gentry of both sexes are entirely corrupted both in body and mind, and have lost all notions of love, honour, friendship, generosity; which, under the name of fopperies, have been for some time laughed out of doors.
This degeneracy of conversation, with the pernicious consequences thereof upon our humours and dispositions, hath been owing, among other causes, to the custom arisen, for some time past, of excluding women from any share in our society, further than in parties at play, or dancing, or in the pursuit of an amour. I take the highest period of politeness in England (and it is of the same date in France) to have been the peaceable part of king Charles the First's reign; and from what we read of those times, as well as from the accounts I have formerly met with from fome who lived in that court, the methods then used for raising and cultivating conyersation, were altogether different from ours : several ladies, whom we find celebrated by the poetsof that age, had assemblies at their houses, where persons of the best understanding, and of both sexes, met to pass the evenings in discoursing upon whatever agreeable subjects were occasionally started; and although we are apt to ridicule the sublime platonic notions they had, or personated in love and friendship, I conceive their refinements were grounded upon reason, and that a little grain of the romance is no ill ingredient to preserve and exalt the dignity of human nature, without which it is apt to degenerate into every thing that is sordid, vicious and low. If there were no other use in the conversation of ladies, it is sufficient that it would lay a restraint upon those odious topicks of immòdesty and indecencies, into which the rudeness of our northern genius is so apt to fall. And, therefore, it is observable in those sprightly gentlemen about the town, who are so very dextrous at entertaining a vizard mask in the park or the playhouse, that, in the company
of ladies of virtue and honour, they are silent and disconcerted, and out of their element.
There are some people who think they sufficiently acquit themselves and entertain their company with relating of facts of no consequence, nor at all out of the road of such common incidents as happen every day; and this I have observed more frequently among the Scots than any other nation, who are very careful not to omit the minuteft circumstances of time or place; which kind of discourse, if it were not a little relieved by the uncouth terms and phrases, as well as accent and gesture peculiar to that country, would be hardly tolerable. It is not a fault in company to talk much; but to continue it long is certainly one; for, if the majority of those who are got together be naturally silent or cautious, the conversation will fag, unless it be often renewed by one among them, who can start new subjects, provided he doth not dwell upon them, but leaveth room for answers and replies.
CH AR A C T E R
Of His Excellency
THOMAS, Earl of WHARTON,
Lord Lieutenant of IRELAND.
With an account of some smaller Facts during
his Government, which will not be put into the Articles of Impeachment.
London, Aug. 30, 1710, HE kingdom of Ireland being go
verned by deputation from hence, its annals, fince the English establishment, are usually digested under the heads of the several governors: But, the affairs and events of that illand, for some years paft, have been either so insignificant, or lo annexed to those of England, that they have not furnished matter of any great importance to history. The share of honour, which gentlemen from thence have had by their conduct and employa
ments in the armiy, turneth all to the article of this kingdom; the rest, which relateth to politics, or the art of government, is inconsiderable to the last degree, however it may be represented at court by those who preside there, and would value themselves upon every step they make, towards finishing the slavery of that people, as if it were gaining a mighty point to the advantage of England.
Generally speaking, the times which afford most plentiful matter for story, are those in which a man would least chuse to live; such as under the various events and revolutions of war, the intrigues of a ruined faction, or the violence of a prevailing one; and lastly, the arbitrary, unlawful acts of oppresling governors.
In the war, Ireland hath no share but in subordination to us; the same may be said of their factions, which, at present, are but imperfect transcripts of ours: But the third subject for history, which is arbitrary power, and oppression; as it is that by which the people of Ireland have, for some time, been distinguished from