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it is therfore become necessary to gain attention by magnificence of promises, and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic.
Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement. I remember a wash-ball that had a quality truly wonderful ;
an exquisite edge to the razor.” And there are now. to be sold, “ for ready money only, some duvets for bed-coverings, of down, beyond comparison superior to what is called otter down, and indeed such, that its many excellences cannot be here set forth.” With one excellence we are made acquainted, “It is warmer than four or five blankets, and lighter than one.”
There are some, however, that know the prejudice of mankind in favour of modest sincerity. The vender of the “ beautifying fluid” sells a lotion that repels pimples, washes away freckles, smooths the skin, and plumps the flesh; and yet, with a generous abhorrence of ostentation, confesses, that it will not restore the bloom of fifteen to a lady of fifty.”
The true pathos of advertisements must have sunk deep into the heart of every man that remembers the zeal shown by the seller of the anodyne necklace, for the ease and safety " of poor toothing infants," and the affection with which he warned every mother, that “ she would never forgive herself” if her infant should perish without a necklace.
I cannot but remark to the celebrated author who gave in his notifications of the camel and dromedary, so many speci. mens of the genuine sublime, that there is now arrived another subject yet more worthy of his pen. “A famous Mohawk Indian warrior, who took Dieskaw the French general prisoner, dressed in the same manner with the native Indians when they go to war, with his face and body painted, with his scalping knife, tom-ax, and all other implements of war; a sight worthy the curiosity of every true Briton !" This is a very powerful description ; but a critic of great refinement would say that it conveys rather horrour than terrour. An Indian, dressed as he goes to war, "may bring company together; but if he carries the scalping knife and tom-ax, there are many true Britons that will never be persuaded to see him but through a grate.
It has been remarked by the severer judges, that the salutary sorrow of tragic scenes is too soon effaced by the merriment of the epilogue; the same inconvenience arises from the improper disposition of advertisements. The noblest objects may be so associated as to be made ridiculous. The camel and dromedary themselves might have lost much of their dignity between the true flower of mustard and the original Daffy's Elixer;" and I could not but feel some indignation when I found this illustrious Indian warrior immediately succeeded by “ a fresh parcel of Dublin butter.”
The trade of advertising is now so near to perfection, that it is not easy to propose any improvement. But as every art ought to be exercised in due subordination to the public good, I cannot but propose it as a moral question to these masters of the public ear, Whether they do not sometimes play too wantonly with our passions, as when the registrar of lottery tickets invites us to his shop by an account of the prize which he sold last year; and whether the advertising controvertists do not indulge asperity of language without any adequate provocation; as in the dispute about “Straps for razors," now happily subsided, and in the altercation which at present subsists concerning Eau de Luce.
In an advertisement it is allowed to every man to speak well of himself'; but I know not why he should assume the privilege of censuring his neighbour. He may proclaim his own virtue or skill, but ought not to exclude others from the same pretensions.
Every man that advertises his own excellence, should write with some consciousness of a character which dares to call the attention of the public. He should remember that his name is to stand in the same paper with those of the King of Prussia and the Emperor of Germany, and endeavour to make himself worthy of such association.
Some regard is likewise to be paid to posterity. There are men of diligence and curiosity who treasure up the papers of the day merely because others neglect them, and in time they will be scarce. When these collections shall be read in another century, how will numberless contradictions be reconciled? and how shall fame be possibly distributed among the tailors and boddice-makers of the present age ?
Surely these things deserve consideration. It is enough for me to have hinted my desire that these abuses may be rectified; but such is the state of nature, that what all have the right of doing, many will attempt without sufficient care or due qualifications.
No. 41. SATURDAY, January 27, 1759.
TAE following letter relates to an affliction perhaps not necessary to be imparted to the public; but I could not persuade myself to suppress it, because I think I know the sentiments to be sincere, and I feel no disposition to provide for this day any other entertainment.
At tu quisquis eris, miseri qui cruda poetæ
Credideris fletu funera digna tuo,
Lenis inoffenso vitaque morsque gradu. Mr. IDLER_Notwithstanding the warnings of philosophers, and the daily examples of losses and misfortunes which life forces upon our observation, such is the absorption of our thoughts in the business of the present day, such the resignation of our reason to empty hopes of future felicity, or such our unwillingness to foresee what we dread, that every calamity comes suddenly upon us, and not only presses us as a burthen, but crushes as a blow.
There are evils which happen out of the common course of nature, against which it is no reproach not to be provided. A flash of lightning intercepts the traveller in his way. The concussion of an earthquake heaps the ruins of cities upon their inhabitants. But other miseries time brings, though silently yet visibly, forward by its even lapse, which yet approach us unseen because we turn our eyes away, and seize us unresisted because we could not arm ourselves against them, but by setting them before us.
That it is vain to shrink from what cannot be avoided, and to hide that from ourselves which must some time be found, is a truth which we all know, but which all neglect, and perhaps none more than the speculative reasoner, whose thoughts are always from home, whose eye wanders over life, whose fancy dances after meteors of happiness kindled by itself, and who examines every thing rather than his own state.
Nothing is more evident than that the decays of age must terminate in death; yet there is no man, says Tully, who does not believe that he may yet live another year; and there is none who does not, upon the same principle, hope another year for his parent or his friend: but the fallacy will be in time detected; the last year, the last day must come. It has come, and is past. The life which made my own life pleasant is at end, and the gates of death are shut upon my prospects.
The loss of a friend upon whom the heart was fixed, to
whom every wish and endeavour tended, is a state of dreary desolation in which the mind looks abroad impatient of itself, and finds nothing but emptiness and horrour. The blameless life, the artless tenderness, the pious simplicity, the modest resignation, the patient sickness, and the quiet death, are remembered only to add value to the loss, to aggravate regret for what cannot be amended, to deepen sorrow for what cannot be recalled.
These are the calamities by which Providence gradually disengages us from the love of life. Other evils fortitude may repel, or hope may mitigate; but irreparable privation leaves nothing to exercise resolution or flatter expectation. The dead cannot return, and nothing is left us here but languishment and grief.
Yet such is the course of nature, that whoever lives long must outlive those whom he loves and honours. Such is the condition of our present existence, that life must one time lose its associations, and every inhabitant of the earth must walk downward to the grave alone and unregarded, without any partner of his joy or grief, without any interested witness of his misfortunes or success.
Misfortune indeed, he may yet feel ; for where is the bottom of the misery of man? But what is success to him that has none to enjoy it? Happiness is not found in self-contemplation, it is perceived only when it is reflected from another.
We know little of the state of departed souls, because such knowledge is not necessary to a good life. Reason deserts us at the brink of the grave, and can give no further intelligence. Revelation is not wholly silent. “There is joy in the angels of Heaven over one sinner that repenteth :" and surely this joy is not incommunicable to souls disentangled from the body, and made like angels.
Let Hope therefore dictate, what Revelation does not confute, that the union of souls may still remain ; and that we who are struggling with sin, sorrow, and infirmities, may have our part in the attention and kindness of those who have finished their course, and are now receiving their reward.
These are the great occasions which force the mind to take refuge in religion ; when we have no help in ourselves, what can remain but that we look up to a higher and a greater power ? and to what hope may we not raise our eyes and hearts, when we consider that the greatest power is the best?
Surely there is no man who, thus afflicted, does not seek succour in the Gospel, which has brought life and immortality to light. The precepts of Epicurus, who teaches us ta
endure. what the laws of the universe make necessary, may silence but not content us. The dictates of Zeno, who commands us to look with indifference on external things, may dispose us to conceal our sorrow, but cannot assuage it. Real alleviation of the loss of friends, and rational tranquillity in the prospect of our own dissolution, can be received only from the promises of him in whose hands are life and death, and from the assurance of another and better state, in which all tears will be wiped from the eyes, and the whole soul shall be filled with joy. Philosophy may infuse stubbornness, but religion only can give patience.
I am, &c.
No. 42. SATURDAY, February 3, 1759.
The subject of the following letter is not wholly unmentioned by the Rambler. The Spectator has also a letter containing a case not much different. I hope my correspondent's performance is more an effort of genius, than effusion of the passions; and that she hath rather attempted to paint some possible distress, than really feels the evils which she has described.
TO THE IDLER.
Sir-There is a cause of misery, which, though certainly known both to you and your predecessors, has been little taken notice of in your papers; I mean the snares that the bad behaviour of parents extends over the paths of life which their children are to tread after them ; and as I make no doubt but the Idler holds the shield for virtue, as well as the glass for folly, that he will employ his leisure hours as much to his own satisfaction in warning his readers against a danger, as in laughing them out of a fashion : for this reason I am tempted to ask admittance for my story in your paper, though it has nothing to recommend it but truth, and the honest wish of warning others to shun the track which I am afraid may lead me at last to ruin.
I am the child of a father, who, having always lived in one spot in the country where he was born, and having had no genteel education himself, thought no qualifications in the world desirable but as they led up to fortune, and no learning 1 cessary to happiness but such as might most effectually teach me to make the best market of myself. I was unfortu