Изображения страниц

in Lilliput lately, or in the Flying Island, or with your good nurse Glumdalclitch? Pray, when did you eat a crust with Lord Peter? Is Jack as mad still as ever? I hear the poor fellow is almost got well by more gentle usage. If he had but more food he would be as much in his senses as brother Martin himself. But Martin, they tell me, has spawned a strange brood of fellows, called Methodists, Moravians, Hutchinsonians, who are madder than Jack was in his worst days. It is a pity you are not alive again to be at them; they would be excellent food for your tooth; and a sharp tooth it was, as ever was placed in the gum of a mortal; aye, and a strong one too. The hardest food would not break it, and it could pierce the thickest skulls. Indeed it was like one of Cerberus's teeth; one should not have thought it belonged to a man.--- Mr. Addison, I beg your pardon, I should have spoken to you sooner; but I was so struck with the sight of the doctor, that I forgot for a time the respect due to you. Swift. Addison, I think our dispute is decided before the judge has heard the


Addison. I own it is in your favour, and I submit---but--

Mercury. Do not be discouraged, friend Addison. Apollo perhaps would have given a different judgment. I am a wit, and a rogue, and a foe to all dignity, Swift and I naturally like one another: he worships me more than Jupiter, and I honour him more than Homer; but yet, I assure you, I have a great value for you.

-Sir Roger de Coverley, Will Honeycomb, Will Wimble, the country gentleman in the Freeholder, and twenty more characters, drawn with the finest strokes of natural wit and humour in your excellent writings, seat you very high in the class of my authors, though not quite so high as the dean of St. Patrick's. Perhaps you might have come nearer to him, if the decency of your nature and cautiousness of your judgment would have given you leave. But if in the force and spirit of his wit he has the advantage, how much does he yield to you in all the polite and elegant graces; in the fine touches of delicate sentiment; in developing the secret springs of the soul; in shewing all the mild lights and shades of a character; in marking distinctly every line, and every soft gradation of tints which would escape the common eye! Who ever painted like

you the beautiful parts of human nature, and brought them out from under the shade even of the greatest simplicity, or the most ridiculous weaknesses; so that we are forced to admire, and feel that we venerate, even while we are laughing? Swift could do nothing that approaches to this.

-He could draw an ill face very well, or caricature a good one with a masterly hand: but there was all his power; and, if I am to speak as a god, a worthless power it is. Yours is divine: it tends to im-, prove and exalt human nature.

Swift. Pray, good Mercury (if I may, have leave to say a word for myself,) do you think that my talent was of no use to correct human nature? Is whipping of no use to mend naughty boys?

Mercury. Men are not so patient of whipping as boys, and I seldom have know a rough satirist mend them. But I will allow that you have done some good in that way, though not half so much as Addison did in his. And now you are here, if Pluto and Proserpine would take my advice, they should dispose of you both in this manner :---When any hero comes hither from earth, who wants to be humbled (as most heroes do,) they should set Swift upon him to bring him down. The same good office he may frequently do to a saint swollen too much with the wind of spiritual pride, or to a philosopher vain of his wisdom and virtue. He will soon shew the first that he cannot be holy without being humble; and the last, that with all his boasted morality, he is but a better kind of Yahoo. I would also have him apply his anticosmetic wash to the painted face of female vanity, and his rod, which draws blood at every stroke, to the hard back of insolent folly or petulant wit. But you, Mr. Addison, should be employed to comfort and raise the spirits of those whose good and noble souls are dejected with a sense of some infirmities in their nature. To them you should hold your fair and charitable mirror, which would bring to their sight all their hidden perfections, cast over the rest a softening shade, and put them in a temper fit for Elysium.Adieu: I must now return to my business above.

Dialogues of the Dead.

§8. A Dialogue of the Dead between Cicero and Lord Chesterfield.

[blocks in formation]

bility, attention, decorum of behaviour, Chest. You and I lived in a state of if they have not been ranked by philoso- manners, as different as the periods at phers among the virtues, are certainly re- which we lived were distant. You Rolated to them, and have a powerful in- mans, pardon me, my dear, you Romans fluence in promoting social happiness. I have recommended them, as well as yourself. But I contend, and no sophistry shall prevail upon me to give up this point, that, to be truly amiable, they must proceed from goodness of heart.---Assumed by the artful to serve the purposes of private interest, they degenerate to contemptible grimace, and detestable hypocrisy.

Chest. Excuse me, my dear Cicero; I cannot enter farther into the controversy at present. I have a hundred engagements at least; and see yonder my little elegant French Comptesse. I promised her and myself the pleasure of a promenade. Pleasant walking enough in these elysian graves. So much good company too, that if it were not that the canaille are apt to be troublesome, I should not much regret the distance from the Thuilleries.- -But adieu, mon cher ami, for I see Madame **** is joining the party. Adieu, adieu!

Cic. Contemptible fop!

Chest. Ah! what do I hear? Recollect that I am a man of honour, unused to the pity or the insults of an upstart, a novus homo. But perhaps your exclamation was not meant of me---if so, why--

Cic. I am as little inclined to insult as to flatter you. Your levity excited my indignation; but my compassion for the degeneracy of human nature, exhibited in your instance, absorbs my contempt.

Chest. I could be a little angry, but as bienséance forbids it, I will be a philosopher for once.---A propos, pray how do you reconcile your, what shall I call it--your unsmooth address to those rules of decorum, that gentleness of manners, of which you say you know and teach the propriety as well as myself?

Cic. To confess the truth, I would not advance the external embellishment of manners to extreme refinement. Ornamental education, or an attention to the graces, has a connexion with effeminacy. In acquiring the gentleman, I would not lose the spirit of a man. There is a gracefulness in a manly character, a beauty in an open and ingenuous disposition, which all the professed teachers of the arts of pleasing know not how to communicate.

had a little of the brute in you. Come, come, I must overlook it. You were obliged to court plebeians for their suffrages; and if similis simili gaudet, it must be owned, that the greatest of you were se cure of their favour. Why Beau Nash would have handed your Catos and Brutuses out of the ball-room, if they had shown their unmannerly heads in it; and my Lord Modish, animated with the conscious merit of the largest or smallest buckles in the room, according to the temporary ton, would have laughed Pompey the Great out of countenance. Oh, Cicero, had you lived in a modern European court, you would have caught a degree of that undescribable grace, which is not only the ornament, but may be the substitute of all those laboured attainments which fools call solid merit. it was not your good fortune, and I make allowances.


Cic. The vivacity you have acquired in studying the writings and the manners of the degenerate Gauls, has led you to set too high a value on qualifications which dazzle the lively perceptions with a momentary blaze, and to depreciate that kind of worth which can neither be obtained nor understood without serious attention and sometimes painful efforts. But I will not contend with you on the propriety or impropriety of the outward modes which delight fops and coxcombs. I will not spend arguments in proving that gold is more valuable than tinsel, though it glit ters less. But I must censure you, and with an asperity too, which, perhaps, your graces may not approve, for recommending vice as graceful, in your memorable letters to your son.

Chest. That the great Cicero should know so little of the world, really surprises me. A little libertinism, my dear, that's all; how can one be a gentleman without a little libertinism?

Cic. I ever thought that to be a gentleman, it was requisite to be a moral man. And surely you, who might have enjoyed the benefit of a light to direct you, which I wanted, were blamable in omitting religion and virtue in your system.

Chest. What! superstitious too!--- You have not then conversed with your supe

rior, the philosopher of Ferney. I thank heaven, I was born in the same age with that great luminary. Prejudice had else, perhaps, chained me in the thraldom of my great grandmother. These are enlightened days; and I find I have contributed something to the general illumination, by my posthumous letters.

Cic. Boast not of them. Remember you were a father.

Chest. And did I not endeavour most effectually to serve my son, by pointing out the qualifications necessary to a foreign ambassador, for which department I always designed him? Few fathers have taken more pains to accomplish a son than myself. There was nothing I did not condescend to point out to him.

your son.

Cic. True: your condescension was great indeed. You were the pander of You not only taught him the mean arts of dissimulation, the petty tricks which degrade nobility; but you corrupted his principles, fomented his passions, and even pointed out objects for their gratification. You might have left the task of teaching him fashionable vice to a vicious world. Example, and the corrupt affections of human nature, will ever be capable of accomplishing this unnatural purpose. But a parent, the guardian appointed by nature for an uninstructed offspring introduced into a dangerous world, who himself takes upon him the office of seduction, is a monster indeed. I also had a son. I was tenderly solicitous for the right conduct of his education. I intrusted him, indeed, to Critippus at Athens; but, like you, I could not help transmitting instructions dictated by paternal love. Those instructions are contained in my book of offices; a book which has ever been cited by the world as a proof to what a height the morality of the heathens was advanced without the light of revelation. I own I feel a conscious pride in it; not on account of the ability which it may display, but for the principles it teaches, and the good, I flatter myself, it has diffused. You did not, indeed, intend your instructions for the world; but as you gave them to a son you loved, it may be concluded that you thought them true wisdom, and withheld them only because they were contrary to the professions of the unenlightened. They have been generally read, and tend to introduce the manners, vices, and frivolous habits of the nation you admired--to

your own m anly nation, who, of all others, once approached most nearly to the noble simplicity of the Romans.

Chest. Spare me, Cicero. I have ne ver been accustomed to the rough conversation of an old Roman. I feel myself little in his company. I seem to shrink in his noble presence. I never felt my insignificance so forcibly as now. French courtiers and French philosophers, of the age of Louis the Fourteenth, have been my models; and amid the dissipation of pleasure, and the hurry of affected vivacity, I never considered the gracefulness of virtue, and the beauty of an open, cere, and manly character. Knox's Essays.


§ 9. The Hill of Science. A Vision. In that season of the year when the serenity of the sky, the various fruits which cover the ground, the discoloured foliage of the trees, and all the sweet, but fading graces of inspiring autumn, open the mind to benevolence, and dispose it for contemplation, I was wandering in a beautiful and romantic country, till curiosity began to give way to weariness; and I sat me down on the fragment of a rock overgrown with moss, where the rustling of the falling leaves, the dashing of waters, and the hum of the distant city, southed my mind into the most perfect tranquillity, and sleep insensibly stole upon me, as I was indulg ing the agreeable reveries which the objects around me naturally inspired.

I immediately found myself in a vast extended plain, in the middle of which arose a mountain higher than I had before any conception of. It was covered with a multitude of people, chiefly youth; many of whom pressed forwards with the liveliest expression of ardour in their countenance, though the way was in many places steep and difficult. I observed, that those who had but just begun to climb the hill thought themselves not far from the top; but as they proceeded, new hills were continually rising to their view, and the summit of the highest they could before discern seemed but the foot of another, till the mountain at length appeared to lose itself in the clouds. As I was gazing on these things with astonishment, my good genius suddenly appeared: The mountain hefore thee, said he, is the Hill of Science. the top is the Temple of Truth, whose head is above the clouds, and a veil of pure light covers her face. Observe the progress of her votaries; be silent and attentive.


I saw that the only regular approach to the mountain was by a gate, called the gate of languages. It was kept by a woman of a pensive and thoughtful appearance, whose lips were continually moving, as though she repeated something to herself. Her name was Memory. On entering this first enclosure, I was stunned with a confused murmur of jarring voices, and dissonant sounds: which increased upon me to such a degree, that I was utterly confounded, and could compare the noise to nothing but the confusion of tongues at Babel. The road was also rough and stony; and rendered more difficult by heaps of rubbish continually tumbled down from the higher parts of the mountain; and broken ruins of ancient buildings, which the travellers were obliged to climb over at every step; insomuch that many, disgusted with so rough a beginning, turned back, and attempted the mountain no more; while others, having conquered this difficulty, had no spirits to ascend further, and sitting down on some fragment of the rubbish, harangued the multitude below with the greatest marks of importance and self-complacency.

About half way up the hill, I observed on each side the path a thick forest covered with continual fogs, and cut out into labyrinths, cross alleys, and serpentine walks entangled with thorns and briars. This was called the wood of Error: and I heard the voices of many who were tost up and down in it, calling to one another, and endeavouring in vain to extricate themselves. The trees in many places shot their boughs over the path, and a thick mist often rested on it; yet never so much but that it was discernible by the light which beamed from the countenance of Truth.

In the pleasantest part of the mountain were placed the bowers of the Muses, whose office it was to cheer the spirits of the travellers, and encourage their fainting steps with songs from their divine harps. Not far from hence were the fields of Fiction, filled up with a variety of wild flowers springing up in the greatest luxuriance, of richer scents and brighter colours than I had observed in any other climate. And near them was the dark walk of Allegory, so artificially shaded, that the light at noonday was never stronger than that of a bright moon-shine. This gave it a pleasingly romantic air for those who delighted in contemplation. The paths and alleys were perplexed with intr.

cate windings, and were all terminated with the statue of a Grace, a Virtue, or a Muse.

After I had observed these things, I turned my eye towards the multitudes who were climbing the steep ascent, and observed amongst them a youth of a lively look, a piercing eye, and something fiery and irregular in all his motions. His name was Genius. He darted like an eagle up the mountain, and left his companions gazing after him with envy and admiration: but his progress was unequal, and interrupted by a thousand caprices. When Pleasure warbled in the valley he mingled in her train. When Pride beckoned towards the precipice he ventured to the tottering edge. He delighted in devious and untried paths; and made so many excursions from the road, that his feebler companions often outstripped him. I observed that the Muses beheld him with partiality; but Truth often frowned, and turned aside her face. While Genius was thus wasting his strength in eccentric flights, I saw a person of a very different appearance, named Application. crept along with a slow and unremitting pace, his eyes fixed on the top of the mountain, patiently removing every stone that obstructed his way, till he saw most of those below him who had at first derided his slow and toilsome progress. Indeed there were few who ascended the hill with equal and uninterrupted steadiness; for, beside the difficulties of the way, they were continually solicited to turn aside by a numerous crowd of Appetites, Passions and Pleasures, whose importunity, when they had once complied with, they became less and less able to resist; and though they often returned to the path, the asperities of the road were more severely felt, the hill appeared more steep and rugged, the fruits which were wholesome and refreshing seemed harsh and ill-tasted, their sight grew dim, and their feet tript at every litthe obstruction.


I saw, with some surprise, that the Muses, whose business was to cheer and encourage those who were toiling up the ascent, would often sing in the bowers of Pleasure, and accompany those who were enticed away at the call of the Passions; they accompanied them, however, but a little way, and always forsook them when they lost sight of the hill. The tyrants then doubled their chains upon the unhappy captives, and led them away, with

out resistance, to the cells of Ignorance, or the mansions of Misery. Amongst the innumerable seducers, who were endea vouring to draw away the votaries of Truth from the path of Science, there was one, so little formidable in her appearance, and so gentle and languid in her attempts, that I should scarcely have taken notice of her, but for the numbers she had imperceptibly loaded with her chains. Indolence (for so she was called) far from proceeding to open hostilities, did not attempt to turn their feet out of the path, but contented herself with retarding their progress; and the purpose she could not force them to abandon, she persuaded them to delay. Her touch had a power like that of the torpedo, which withered the strength of those who came within its influence. Her unhappy captives still turned their faces towards the temple, and always hoped to arrive there; but the ground seemed to slide from beneath their feet, and they found themselves at the bottom, before they suspected they had changed their place. The placid serenity, which at first appeared in their countenance, changed by degrees into a melancholy languor, which was tinged with deeper and deeper gloom, as they glided down the stream of Insignificance; a dark and sluggish water, which is curled by no breeze, and enlivened by no murmur, till it falls into a dead sea, where startled passengers are awakened by the shock, and the next moment buried in the gulf of Oblivion.

Of all the unhappy deserters from the paths of Science, none seemed less able to return than the followers of Indolence. The captives of Appetite and Passion could often seize the moment when their tyrants were languid, or asleep, to escape from their enchantment; but the dominion of Indolence was constant and unremitted, and seldom resisted, till resistance was in vain.

[blocks in formation]

and a more benign radiance. Happier, said she, are those whom Virtue conducts to the mansions of Content! What, said I, does Virtue then reside in the vale? I am found, said she, in the vale, and I illuminate the mountain: I cheer the cottager at his toil, and inspire the sage at his meditation. I mingle in the crowd of cities, and bless the hermit in his cell. I have a temple in every heart that owns my influence; and to him that wishes for me I am already present. Science may raise you to eminence, but I alone can guide you to felicity!-While the goddess was thus speaking, I stretched out my arms towards her with a vehemence which broke my slumbers. The chill dews were falling around me, and the shades of evening stretched over the landscape. I hastened homeward, and resigned the night to silence and meditation. Aikin's Miscel.

§ 10. On the Love of Life. Age, that lessens the enjoyment of life, increases our desire of living. Those dangers which, in the vigour of youth, we had learned to despise, assume new terrors as we grow old. Our caution increasing as our years increase, fear becomes at last the prevailing passion of the mind; and the small remainder of life is taken up in useless efforts to keep off our end, or provide for a continued existence.

Strange contradiction in our nature, and to which even the wise are liable! If I should judge of that part of life which lies before me by that which I have already seen, the prospect is hideous. Experience tells me, that my past enjoyments have brought no real felicity; and sensation assures me, that those I have felt are stronger than those which are yet to come. Yet experience and sensation in vain persuade; hope, more powerful than either, dresses out the distant prospect in fancied beauty; some happiness, in long prospective, still beckons me to pursue; and, like a losing gamester, every new disappointment increases my ardour to continue the game.

Whence then is this increased love of life, which grows upon us with our years? whence comes it, that we thus make greater efforts to preserve our existence, at a period when it becomes scarce worth the keeping? Is it that Nature, attentive to the preservation of mankind, increases our wishes to live, while she lessens our enjoy. ments; and, as she robs the senses of every

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »