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There are many beautiful passages in the little apocryphal book entitled, The Wisdom of Solomon, to set forth the vanity of honour, and the like temporal blessings, which are in so great repute among men, and to comfort those who have not the possession of them. It represents, in very warm and noble terms, this advancement of a good man in the other world, and the great surprise which it will produce among those who are his superiors in this.— Then shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted him, and made no account of his labours. When they see it, they shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the strangeness of his salvation, so far beyond all that they looked for. And they, repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit, shall say within themselves, This was he whom we had some time in derision, and a proverb of reproach. We fools accounted his life madness, and his end to be without honour. How is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the saints!'
If the reader would see the description of a life that is passed away in vanity and among the shadows of pomp and greatness, he may see it very finely drawn in the same place. * In the mean time, since it is necessary, in the present constitution of things, that order and distinction should be kept in the world, we should be happy if those who enjoy the upper stations in it would endeavour to surpass others in virtue as much as 'n rank, and by their humanity and condescen
• Ch. v. 14.
sion make their superiority easy and acceptable to those who are beneath them, and if, on the contrary, those who are in meaner posts of life, would consider how they may better their condition hereafter, and by a just deference and submission to their superiors, make them happy in those blessings with which Providence has thought fit to distinguish them.
No. 220. MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12.
Rumoresque serit varios VIRG.
“Why will you apply to my father for my love? I can not help it if he will give you my person; but I assure you it is not in his power, nor even in my own, to give you my heart. Dear sir, do but consider the ill consequence of such a match; you are fifty-five, I twenty-one. You are a man of business, and mightily conversant in arithmetic, and making calculations; be pleased therefore to consider what proportion your spirits bear to mine; and when you have made a just estimate of the necessary decay on one side, and the redundance on the other, you will actaccordingly. This perhaps is such language as you may not expect from a young lady, but my happiness is at stake, and I must talk plainly. "I mortally hate you; and so as you and my father
agree, you may take
me or leave me: but if you will be so good as never to see me more, you will for ever oblige, Sir, your most humble servant,
“There are so many artifices and modes of false wit, and such a variety of humour discovers itself among its votaries, that it would be impossible to exhaust so fertile a subject, if you would think fit to resume it. The following instances may, if you think fit, be added by way of appendix to your discourseson that subject. (No. 58,63).
• That feat of poetical activity mentioned by Horace, of an author who could compose two hundred verses while he stood upon one leg, has been imitated, as I have heard, by a modern writer; who, priding himself on the hurry of his invention, thought it no small addition to his fame to have each piece minuted with the exact number of hours or days it costs him in the composition. He could taste no praise till he had acquainted you in how short a space of time he had deserved it; and was not so much led to an ostentation of his art as of his despatch.
Accipe, si vis,
• This was the whole of his ambition; and therefore I can not but think the flights of this rapid author very proper to be opposed to those labo
rious nothings which you have observed were the delight of the German wits, and in which they so happily got rid of such a tedious quantity of their time.
I have known a gentleman of anotherturn of humour, who despising the name of an author, never printed his works, but contracted his talent, and by the help of a very fine diamond which he wore on his little finger, was a considerable poet upon glass. He had a very good epigrammatic wit; and there was not a parlourortavern window where he visited or dined for some years, which did not receive some sketches or memorials of it. It was his misfortune at last to lose his genius and his ring to a sharper at play, and he has not attempted to make a verse since.
But of all contractions or expedients for wit, I admire that of an ingenious projector whose book I have seen. This virtuoso being a mathematician, has, according to his taste, thrown the art of poetry into a short problem, and contrived tables by which any one, without knowing a word of grammar or sense, may, to his great comfort, be able to compose, or rather to erect, Latin verses. His tables are a kind of poetical logarithms, which being divided into several squares, and all'inscribed with so many incoherent words, appear to the eye somewhat like a fortune-telling
* This is no fiction of the Spectator's, as might naturally be imagined. There was a projector of this kind named John Peter, who published a very thin pamphlet in 8vo. entitled “ Artificial Versifying, a new way to make Latin Verses, London, 1678." I believe it is a plan of his scheme which is given in Nat. Bailey's Dictionary, folio, under the word Hexameter.
What a joy must it be to the unlearned operator, to find that these words, being carefully collected and writ down in order, according to the problem, start of themselves into hexameter and pentameter verses? A friend of mine, who is a student in astrology, meeting with this book, performed the operation by the rules there set down: he showed his verses to the next of his acquaintance, who happened to understand Latin; and being informed they described a tempest of wind, very luckily prefixed them, together with a translation, to an almanack he was just then printing, and was supposed to have foretold the last great storm.
I think the only improvement beyond this, would be that which the late Duke of Buckingham* mentioned to a stupid pretender to poetry, as the project of a Dutch mechanic, viz. a mill to make verses. This being the most compendious method of all which have yet been proposed, may deserve the thoughts of our modern virtuosi who are employed in new discoveries for the public good, and it may be worth the while to consider, whether in an island where few are content without being thought wits, it will not be a common benefit, that wit as well as labour should be made cheap.
• I am, sir, Your humble servant, &c.'t
George Villiers, author of the Rehearsal, who died in 1687. Dean Swift seems to have borrowed from thence his wooden engine for making books, in Gulliver's Travels, pt. 3. ch. 5.
| By Mr. Hughes.