grown on a sudden the richest man in all the Indies. Having been there about a year or two, a gust of wind, that forced open his casement, blew him over to his native country again, where awaking at six o'clock, and the change of the air not agreeing with him, he turned to his left side in order to a second voyage; but ere he could get on shipboard was unfortunately apprehended for stealing a horse, tried and condemned for the fact, and in a fair way of being executed, if somebody stepping hastily into his chamber had not brought him a reprieve. This fellow too wants Mr. Shadow's advice; who, I dare say, would bid him be content to rise after his first nap, and learn to be satisfied as soon as nature is.

The next is a public-spirited gentleman, who tells me, that on the second of September, at night, the whole city was on fire, and would certainly have been reduced to ashes again by this time if he had not flown over it with the New River on his back, and happily extinguished the flames before they had prevailed too far. He would be informed whether he has not a right to petition the Lord mayor and aldermen for a reward.

Á letter, dated September the ninth, acquaints me, that the writer, being resolved to try his fortune, had fasted all that day; and, that he might be sure of dreaming upon something at night, procured an handsome slice of bride-cake, which he placed very conveniently under his pillow. In the morning his memory happened to fail him, and he could recollect nothing but an odd fancy that he had eaten his cake; which being found upon search reduced to a few crumbs, he is resolved to remember more of his dreams another time, believing from this that there may possibly be somewhat of truth in them.

I have received numerous complaints from several deHicious dreamers, desiring me to invent some method of silencing those noisy slaves whose occupations lead them to take their early rounds about the city, in a morning, doing a deal of mischief, and working strange confusion in the affairs of its inhabitants. Several monarchs have done me the honour to acquaint me how often they have been shook from their respective thrones by the rattling of a coach, or the rumbling of a wheelbarrow. And many private gentlemen, I find, have been bawled out of vast estates by fellows not worth three-pence. A fair

lady was just upon the point of being married to a young, handsome, rich, ingenious nobleman, when an impertinent tinker passing by forbid the banns; and an hopeful youth, who had been newly advanced to great honour and preferment, was forced by a neighbouring cobler to resign all for an old song. It has been represented to me that those inconsiderable rascals do nothing but go about dissolving of marriages, and spoiling of fortunes, impoverishing rich and ruining great people, interrupting beauties in the midst of their conquests, and generals in the course of their victories. A boisterous peripatic hardly goes through a street without waking half a dozen kings and princes, to open their shops or clean shoes, frequently transforming sceptres into paring-shovels, and proclamations into bills. I have by me a letter from a young statesman, who in five or six hours came to be emperor of Europe, after which he made war upon the Great Turk, routed him horse and foot, and was crowned Lord of the universe in Constantinople: the conclusion of all his successes is, that on the 12th instant, about seven in the morning, his imperial majesty was deposed by a chimney-sweeper.

On the other hand, I have epistolary testimonies of gratitude from many miserable people, who owe to this clamorous tribe frequent deliverances from great misfortunes. A small-coal man *, by waking one of these distressed gentlemen, saved him from ten years imprisonment. An honest watchman, bidding aloud good-morrow to another, freed him from the malice of many potent enemies, and brought all their designs against him to nothing. A certain valetudinarian confesses he has often been cured of a sore throat by the hoarseness of a carman, and relieved from a fit of the gout by the sound of old shoes. A noisy puppy that plagued a sober gentleman all night long with his impertinence, was silenced by a cinder wench with a word speaking.

Instead, therefore, of suppressing this order of mortals, I would propose it to my readers to make the best advantage of their morning salutations. A famous Macedonian prince, for fear of forgetting himself in the midst

*The name of the famous musical small-coal man was Thomas Britton. See Hawkin's Hist, of Music, vol. v.

of his good fortune, had a youth to wait on him every morning, and bid him remember that he was a man. A citizen who is waked by one of these criers, may regard him as a kind of remembrancer, come to admonish him that it is time to return to the circumstances he has overlooked all the night-time, to leave off fancying himself what he is not, and prepare to act suitably to the condition he is really placed in.

People may dream on as long as they please, but I shall take no notice of any imaginary adventures that do not happen while the sun is on this side the horizon. For which reason I stifle Fritilla's dream at church last Sunday, who, while the rest of the audience were enjoying the benefit of an excellent discourse, was losing her money and jewels to a gentleman at play, till after a strange run of ill luck she was reduced to pawn three lovely pretty children for her last stake. When she had thrown them away, her companion went off discovering himself by his usual tokens, a cloven foot and a strong smell of brimstone; which last proved only a bottle of spirits, which a good old lady applied to her nose, to put her in a condition of hearing the preacher's third head concerning time.

If a man has no mind to pass abruptly from his imagined to his real circumstances, he may employ himself a while in that new kind of observation which my oneiro-critical correspondent has directed him to make of himself. Pursuing the imagination through all its extravagancies, whether in sleeping or waking, is no improper method of correcting and bringing it to act in subordination to reason, so as to be delighted only with such objects as will affect it with pleasure when it is never so cool and sedate.

No. 598. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 1714.

[ocr errors]

Jamne igitur laudas, quod de sapientibus alter
Ridebat, quoties a limine moverat unum
Protuleratque pedem: flebat contrarius alter?
Juv. Sat. X. ver. 28.

Will ye not now the pair of sages praise,
Who the same end pursu'd by several ways?
One pity'd, one contemn'd the woful times;
One laugh'd at follies, one lamented crimes.



ANKIND may be divided into the merry and the se rious, who, both of them make a very good figure in the species so long as they keep their respective humours from degenerating into the neighbouring extreme; there being a natural tendency in the one to a melancholy moroseness, and in the other to a fantastic levity.

The merry part of the world are very amiable, while they diffuse a cheerfulness through conversation at proper seasons and on proper occasions; but, on the contrary, a great grievance to society when they infect every discourse with insipid mirth, and turn into ridicule such subjects as are not suited to it. For though laughter is looked upon by the philosophers as the property of reason, the excess of it has been always considered as the mark of folly.

On the other side, seriousness has its beauty whilst it is attended with cheerfulness and humanity, and does not come in unseasonably to pall the good humour of those with whom we converse.

These two sets of men, notwithstanding they each of them shine in their respective characters, are apt to bear a natural aversion and antipathy to one another.

What is more usual than to hear men of serious tempers, and austere morals, enlarging upon the vanities and follies of the young and gay part of the species, while they look with a kind of horror upon such pomps and diversions as are innocent in themselves, and only culpable when they draw the mind too much?

I could not but smile upon reading a passage in the account which Mr. Baxter gives of his own life, wherein


he represents it as a great blessing that in his youth he very narrowly escaped getting a place at court.

It must indeed be confessed that levity of temper takes a man off his guard, and opens a pass to his soul for any temptation that assaults it. It favours all the approaches of vice, and weakens all the resistance of virtue for which reason a renowned statesman in queen Elizabeth's days, after having retired from court and public business, in order to give himself up to the duties of religion, when any of his old friends used to visit him, had still this word of advice in his mouth,' be serious.'

An eminent Italian author of this cast of mind, speaking of the great advantage of a serious and composed temper, wishes very gravely that for the benefit of mankind he had Trophonius's cave in his possession; which, says he, would contribute more to the reformation of manners than all the workhouses and bridewells in Europe.

We have a very particular description of this cave in Pausanias, who tells us that it was made in the form of a huge oven, and had many particular circumstances, which disposed the person who was in it to be more pensive and thoughtful than ordinary; insomuch that no man was ever observed to laugh all his life after, who had once made his entry into this cave. It was usual in those times, when any one carried a more than ordinary gloominess in his features, to tell him that he looked like one just come out of Trophonius's cave.

On the other hand, writers of a more merry complexion have been no less severe on the opposite party; and have had one advantage above them, that they have attacked them with more turns of wit and humour.

After all, if a man's temper was at his own disposal, I think he would not choose to be of either of these parties; since the most perfect character is that which is formed out of both of them. A man would neither choose to be a hermit nor a buffoon: human nature is not so miserable, as that we should be always melancholy; nor so happy, as that we should be always merry. In a word, a man should not live as if there was no God in the world; nor at the same time, as if there were no men in it.

[blocks in formation]
« VorigeDoorgaan »