No. 480. Wednesday, September 10, 1712. Steele.

Responsare cupidinibus, contemnere honores, Fortis, et in seipso totus teres, atque rotundus.'

The other Day looking over those old Manuscripts, of which I have formerly given some Account, and which relate to the Character of the mighty Pharamond of France, and the close Friendship between him and his Friend Eucrate; [1] I found, among the Letters which had been in the custody of the latter, an Epistle from a Country Gentleman to Pharamond, wherein he excuses himself from coming to Court. The Gentleman, it seems, was contented with his Condition, had formerly been in the King's Service, but at the writing the following Letter, had, from Leisure and Reflection, quite another Sense of things than that which he had in the more active Part of his Life.

Monsieur Chezluy to Pharamond.

Dread Sir,

'I have from your own Hand (enclosed under the Cover of Mr. Eucrate of your Majesty's Bed-Chamber) a Letter which invites me to Court. I understand this great Honour to be done me out of Respect and Inclination to me, rather than Regard to your own Service: For which Reason I beg leave to lay before your Majesty my Reasons for declining to depart from Home; and will not doubt but, as your Motive in desiring my Attendance was to make me an happier Man, when you think that will not be effected by my Remove, you will permit me to stay where I am. Those who have an Ambition to appear in Courts, have ever an Opinion that their Persons or their Talents are particularly formed for the Service or Ornament of that Place; or else are hurried by downright Desire of Gain, or what they call Honour, or take upon themselves whatever the Generosity of their Master can give them Opportunities to grasp at. But your Goodness shall not be thus imposed upon by me: I will therefore confess to you, that frequent Solitude, and long Conversation with such who know no Arts which polish Life, have made me the plainest Creature in your Dominions. Those less Capacities of moving with a good Grace, bearing a ready Affability to all around me, and acting with ease before many, have quite left me. I am come to that, with regard to my Person, that I consider it only as a Machine I am obliged to take Care of, in order to enjoy my Soul in its Faculties with Alacrity; well remembering, that this Habitation of Clay will in a few years be a meaner Piece of Earth than any Utensil about my House. When this is, as it really is, the most frequent Reflection I have, you will easily imagine how well I should become a Drawing-Room: Add to this, What shall a Man without Desires do about the generous Pharamond? Monsieur Eucrate has hinted to me, that you have thoughts of distinguishing me with Titles. As for my self, in the Temper of my present Mind, Appellations of Honour would but embarrass Discourse, and new Behaviour towards me perplex me in every Habitude of Life. I am also to acknowledge to you, that my Children, of whom your Majesty condescended to enquire, are all of them mean, both in their Persons and Genius. The Estate my eldest Son is Heir to, is more than he can enjoy with a good Grace. My Self-love will not carry me so far, as to impose upon Mankind the Advancement of Persons (merely for their being related to me) into high Distinctions, who ought for their own Sakes, as well as that of the Publick, to affect Obscurity. I wish, my generous Prince, as it is in your power to give Honours and Offices, it were also to give Talents suitable to them: Were it so, the noble Pharamond would reward the Zeal of my Youth with Abilities to do him Service in my Age.

'Those who accept of Favour without Merit, support themselves in it at the Expence of your Majesty. Give me Leave to tell you, Sir, this is the Reason that we in the Country hear so often repeated the Word Prerogative. That Part of your Law which is reserved in your self for the readier Service and Good of the Publick, slight Men are eternally buzzing in our Ears to cover their own Follies and Miscarriages. It would be an Addition to the high Favour you have done me, if you would let Eucrate send me word how often, and in what Cases you allow a Constable to insist upon the Prerogative. From the highest to the lowest Officer in your Dominions, something of their own Carriage they would exempt from Examination under the Shelter of the Word Prerogative. I would fain, most noble Pharamond, see one of your Officers assert your Prerogative by good and gracious Actions. When is it used to help the Afflicted, to rescue the Innocent, to comfort the Stranger? Uncommon Methods, apparently undertaken to attain worthy Ends, would never make Power invidious. You see, Sir, I talk to you with the Freedom your noble Nature approves, in all whom you admit to your Conversation.

'But, to return to your Majesty's Letter, I humbly conceive, that all Distinctions are useful to Men, only as they are to act in Publick; and it would be a romantick Madness, for a Man to be a Lord in his Closet. Nothing can be honourable to a Man apart from the World, but the Reflection upon worthy Actions; and he that places Honour in a Consciousness of Well-doing, will have but little Relish for any outward Homage that is paid him, since what gives him distinction to himself, cannot come within the Observation of his Beholders. Thus all the Words of Lordship, Honour, and Grace, are only Repetitions to a Man that the King has order'd him to be called so; but no Evidences that there is any thing in himself that would give the Man who applies to him those Ideas, without the Creation of his Master.

'I have, most noble Pharamond, all Honours and all Titles in your own Approbation; I triumph in them as they are your Gift, I refuse them as they are to give me the Observation of others. Indulge me, my Noble Master, in this Chastity of Renown; let me know my self in the Favour of Pharamond; and look down upon the Applause of the People.

I am,

in all Duty and Loyally, Your Majesty's most obedient Subject and Servant, Jean Chezluy.


'I need not tell you with what Disadvantages Men of low Fortunes and great Modesty come into the World; what wrong Measures their Diffidence of themselves, and Fear of offending, often obliges them to take; and what a Pity it is that their greatest Virtues and Qualities, that should soonest recommend them, are the main Obstacle in the way of their Preferment.

'This, Sir, is my Case; I was bred at a Country-School, where I learned Latin and Greek. The Misfortunes of my Family forced me up to Town, where a Profession of the politer sort has protected me against Infamy and Want. I am now Clerk to a Lawyer, and, in times of Vacancy and Recess from Business, have made my self Master of Italian and French; and tho' the Progress I have made in my Business has gain'd me Reputation enough for one of my standing, yet my Mind suggests to me every day, that it is not upon that Foundation I am to build my Fortune.

'The Person I have my present Dependance upon, has it in his Nature, as well as in his Power, to advance me, by recommending me to a Gentleman that is going beyond Sea in a publick Employment. I know the printing this Letter would point me out to those I want Confidence to speak to, and I hope it is not in your Power to refuse making any Body happy.

September 9, 1712. Yours, &c.

M. D. [2]


[Footnote 1: See Nos. 76, 84, 97.]

[Footnote 2: Mr. Robert Harper, who died an eminent conveyancer of Lincoln's Inn. He sent his letter on the 9th of August, and it appeared September the 10th with omissions and alterations by Steele.]

Translation of motto:
HOR. 2 Sat. vii. 85.
'He, Sir, is proof to grandeur, pride, or pelf,
And, greater still, he's master of himself:
Not to and fro, by fears and factions hurl'd,
But loose to all the interests of the world;
And while the world turns round, entire and whole,
He keeps the sacred tenor of his soul.'