The Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 2,859 pages of information about The Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3.

I must confess, in all Controversies between Parents and their Children, I am naturally prejudiced in favour of the former.  The Obligations on that Side can never be acquitted, and I think it is one of the greatest Reflections upon Human Nature that Parental Instinct should be a stronger Motive to Love than Filial Gratitude; that the receiving of Favours should be a less Inducement to Good-will, Tenderness and Commiseration, than the conferring of them; and that the taking care of any Person should endear the Child or Dependant more to the Parent or Benefactor, than the Parent or Benefactor to the Child or Dependant; yet so it happens, that for one cruel Parent we meet with a thousand undutiful Children.  This is indeed wonderfully contrived (as I have formerly observed) for the Support of every living Species; but at the same time that it shews the Wisdom of the Creator, it discovers the Imperfection and Degeneracy of the Creature.

The Obedience of Children to their Parents is the Basis of all Government, and set forth as the Measure of that Obedience which we owe to those whom Providence hath placed over us.

It is Father Le Conte, [4] if I am not mistaken, who tells us how Want of Duty in this Particular is punished among the Chinese, insomuch that if a Son should be known to kill, or so much as to strike his Father, not only the Criminal but his whole Family would be rooted out, nay the Inhabitants of the Place where he lived would be put to the Sword, nay the Place itself would be razed to the Ground, and its Foundations sown with Salt; For, say they, there must have been an utter Depravation of Manners in that Clan or Society of People who could have bred up among them so horrible an Offender.  To this I shall add a Passage out of the first Book of Herodotus.  That Historian in his Account of the Persian Customs and Religion tells us, It is their Opinion that no Man ever killed his Father, or that it is possible such a Crime should be in Nature; but that if any thing like it should ever happen, they conclude that the reputed Son must have been Illegitimate, Supposititious, or begotten in Adultery.  Their Opinion in this Particular shews sufficiently what a Notion they must have had of Undutifulness in general.

L.

[Footnote 1:  Sir Sampson Legend in Congreve’s play, which ends with the heroine’s ‘punishing an inhuman father and rewarding a faithful lover.’]

[Footnote 2:  Ecl. 8.]

[Footnote 3:  Of bad Crow bad Egg.]

[Footnote 4:  ‘Present State of China,’ Part 2.  Letter to the Cardinal d’Estrees.]

* * * * *

No. 190.  Monday, October 8, 1711.  Steele.

      ‘Servitus crescit nova ...’

      Hor.

Since I made some Reflections upon the general Negligence used in the Case of Regard towards Women, or, in other Words, since I talked of Wenching, I have had Epistles upon that Subject, which I shall, for the present Entertainment, insert as they lye before me.

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