No. 214. Monday, November 5, 1711. Steele.

Perierunt tempora longi Servitii
Juv. [1]

I did some time ago lay before the World the unhappy Condition of the trading Part of Mankind, who suffer by want of Punctuality in the Dealings of Persons above them; but there is a Set of Men who are much more the Objects of Compassion than even those, and these are the Dependants on great Men, whom they are pleased to take under their Protection as such as are to share in their Friendship and Favour. These indeed, as well from the Homage that is accepted from them, as the hopes which are given to them, are become a Sort of Creditors; and these Debts, being Debts of Honour, ought, according to the accustomed Maxim, to be first discharged.

When I speak of Dependants, I would not be understood to mean those who are worthless in themselves, or who, without any Call, will press into the Company of their Betters. Nor, when I speak of Patrons, do I mean those who either have it not in their Power, or have no Obligation to assist their Friends; but I speak of such Leagues where there is Power and Obligation on the one Part, and Merit and Expectation on the other.

The Division of Patron and Client, may, I believe, include a Third of our Nation; the Want of Merit and real Worth in the Client, will strike out about Ninety-nine in a Hundred of these; and the Want of Ability in Patrons, as many of that Kind. But however, I must beg leave to say, that he who will take up anothers Time and Fortune in his Service, though he has no Prospect of rewarding his Merit towards him, is as unjust in his Dealings as he who takes up Goods of a Tradesman without Intention or Ability to pay him. Of the few of the Class which I think fit to consider, there are not two in ten who succeed, insomuch that I know a Man of good Sense who put his Son to a Blacksmith, tho an Offer was made him of his being received as a Page to a Man of Quality.[2] There are not more Cripples come out of the Wars than there are from those great Services; some through Discontent lose their Speech, some their Memories, others their Senses or their Lives; and I seldom see a Man thoroughly discontented, but I conclude he has had the Favour of some great Man. I have known of such as have been for twenty Years together within a Month of a good Employment, but never arrived at the Happiness of being possessed of any thing.

There is nothing more ordinary, than that a Man who is got into a considerable Station, shall immediately alter his manner of treating all his Friends, and from that Moment he is to deal with you as if he were your Fate. You are no longer to be consulted, even in Matters which concern your self, but your Patron is of a Species above you, and a free Communication with you is not to be expected. This perhaps may be your Condition all the while he bears Office, and when that is at an End, you are as intimate as ever you were, and he will take it very ill if you keep the Distance he prescribed you towards him in his Grandeur. One would think this should be a Behaviour a Man could fall into with the worst Grace imaginable; but they who know the World have seen it more than once. I have often, with secret Pity, heard the same Man who has professed his Abhorrence against all Kind of passive Behaviour, lose Minutes, Hours, Days, and Years in a fruitless Attendance on one who had no Inclination to befriend him. It is very much to be regarded, that the Great have one particular Privilege above the rest of the World, of being slow in receiving Impressions of Kindness, and quick in taking Offence. The Elevation above the rest of Mankind, except in very great Minds, makes Men so giddy, that they do not see after the same Manner they did before: Thus they despise their old Friends, and strive to extend their Interests to new Pretenders. By this means it often happens, that when you come to know how you lost such an Employment, you will find the Man who got it never dreamed of it; but, forsooth, he was to be surprized into it, or perhaps sollicited to receive it. Upon such Occasions as these a Man may perhaps grow out of Humour; and if you are so, all Mankind will fall in with the Patron, and you are an Humourist and untractable if you are capable of being sour at a Disappointment: But it is the same thing, whether you do or do not resent ill Usage, you will be used after the same Manner; as some good Mothers will be sure to whip their Children till they cry, and then whip them for crying.

There are but two Ways of doing any thing with great People, and those are by making your self either considerable or agreeable: The former is not to be attained but by finding a Way to live without them, or concealing that you want them; the latter is only by falling into their Taste and Pleasures: This is of all the Employments in the World the most servile, except it happens to be of your own natural Humour. For to be agreeable to another, especially if he be above you, is not to be possessed of such Qualities and Accomplishments as should render you agreeable in your self, but such as make you agreeable in respect to him. An Imitation of his Faults, or a Compliance, if not Subservience, to his Vices, must be the Measures of your Conduct. When it comes to that, the unnatural State a Man lives in, when his Patron pleases, is ended; and his Guilt and Complaisance are objected to him, tho the Man who rejects him for his Vices was not only his Partner but Seducer. Thus the Client (like a young Woman who has given up the Innocence which made her charming) has not only lost his Time, but also the Virtue which could render him capable of resenting the Injury which is done him.

It would be endless to recount the [Tricks[3]] of turning you off from themselves to Persons who have less Power to serve you, the Art of being sorry for such an unaccountable Accident in your Behaviour, that such a one (who, perhaps, has never heard of you) opposes your Advancement; and if you have any thing more than ordinary in you, you are flattered with a Whisper, that tis no Wonder People are so slow in doing for a Man of your Talents, and the like.

After all this Treatment, I must still add the pleasantest Insolence of all, which I have once or twice seen; to wit, That when a silly Rogue has thrown away one Part in three of his Life in unprofitable Attendance, it is taken wonderfully ill that he withdraws, and is resolved to employ the rest for himself.

When we consider these things, and reflect upon so many honest Natures (which one who makes Observation of what passes, may have seen) that have miscarried by such sort of Applications, it is too melancholy a Scene to dwell upon; therefore I shall take another Opportunity to discourse of good Patrons, and distinguish such as have done their Duty to those who have depended upon them, and were not able to act without their Favour. Worthy Patrons are like Plato's Guardian Angels, who are always doing good to their Wards; but negligent Patrons are like Epicurus's Gods, that lie lolling on the Clouds, and instead of Blessings pour down Storms and Tempests on the Heads of those that are offering Incense to them. [4]

[Footnote 1:

Dulcis inexperta cultura potentis amici, Expertus metuit


[Footnote 2: A son of one of the inferior gentry received as page by a nobleman wore his lords livery, but had it of more costly materials than were used for the footmen, and was the immediate attendant of his patron, who was expected to give him a reputable start in life when he came of age. Percy notes that a lady who described to him the custom not very long after it had become obsolete, remembered her own husbands giving £500 to set up such a page in business.

[Footnote 3: [Trick]]

[Footnote 4: The Dæmon or Angel which, in the doctrine of Immortality according to Socrates or Plato, had the care of each man while alive, and after death conveyed him to the general place of judgment (Phædon, p. 130), is more properly described as a Guardian Angel than the gods of Epicurus can be said to pour storms on the heads of their worshippers. Epicurus only represented them as inactive and unconcerned with human affairs.]

Translation of motto:
JUV. Sat. iii. 124.
'A long dependence in an hour is lost.'