« VorigeDoorgaan »
his breeches and jack-boots, and at the same time dressed up in a commode and a night-rail.
I must observe that this fashion was first of all brought to us from France, a country which has infected all the nations in Europe with its levity. I speak not this in derogation of a whole people, having more than once found fault with those general reflections which strike at kingdoms or commonwealths in the gross; a piece of cruelty, which an ingenious writer of our own compares to that of Caligula, who wished 10 the Roman people had all but one neck, that he might behead them at a blow. I shall therefore only remark, that as liveliness and assurance are in a peculiar manner the qualifications of the French nation, the same habits and customs will not give the same offence to that people, which they produce among those of our own country. Modesty is our distinguishing character, as vivacity is theirs; and when this our national virtue appears in that female beauty, for which our British ladies are celebrated above all others in the universe, it makes up the most amiable object that the eye of man can 20 possibly behold. C.
XXXII. PROCEEDINGS OF THE INFIRMARY FOR
Friday, July 25, 1712.
Vivere si rectè nescis, discede peritis. - Hor. 2 Ep. ii. 213.
I HAVE already given my reader an account of a set of merry fellows, who are passing their summer together in the country, being provided of a great house, where there is not only a convenient apartment for every particular person, but a large infirmary for the reception of such of them as are any
way indisposed, or out of humour.
Having lately received a letter from the secretary of this society, by order of the whole fraternity, which acquaints me with their behaviour during the last week, I shall here make a present of it to the public.
"We are glad to find that you approve the establishment which we have here made for the retrieving of good manners and agreeable conversation, and shall use our best endeavours so to improve ourselves in this our summer re- 10 tirement, that we may next winter serve as patterns to the town. But to the end that this our institution may be no less advantageous to the public than to ourselves, we shall communicate to you one week of our proceedings, desiring you at the same time, if you see anything faulty in them, to favour us with your admonitions. For you must know, sir, that it has been proposed among us to choose you for our visitor, to which I must further add, that one of the College having declared last week, he did not like the Spectator of the day, and not being able to assign any just reasons for such 20 his dislike, he was sent to the infirmary nemine contradicente.
"On Monday the assembly was in very good humour, having received some recruits of French claret that morning; when unluckily, towards the middle of the dinner, one of the company swore at his servant in a very rough manner, for having put too much water in his wine. Upon which the president of the day, who is always the mouth of the company, after having convinced him of the impertinence of his passion, and the insult it had made upon the company, ordered his man to take him from the table and convey him 30 to the infirmary. There was but one more sent away that day; this was a gentleman who is reckoned by some persons one of the greatest wits, and by others one of the greatest boobies about town. This you will say is a strange character, but what makes it stranger yet, it is a very true one, for he is perpetually the reverse of himself, being always
merry or dull to We brought him hither to divert us, which he did very well upon the road, having lavished away as much wit and laughter upon the hackney coachman as might have served him during his whole stay here, had it been duly managed. He had been lumpish for two or three days, but was so far connived at, in hopes of recovery, that we dispatched one of the briskest fellows among the brotherhood into the infirmary, for having told him at table he was not merry. But our president observing 10 that he indulged himself in this long fit of stupidity, and construing it as a contempt of the college, ordered him to retire into the place prepared for such companions. He was no sooner got into it, but his wit and mirth returned upon him in so violent a manner that he shook the whole infirmary with the noise of it, and had so good an effect upon the rest of the patients, that he brought them all out to dinner with him the next day.
"On Tuesday we were no sooner sat down, but one of the company complained that his head ached; upon which 20 another asked him, in an insolent manner, what he did there then; this insensibly grew into some warm words; so that the president, in order to keep the peace, gave directions to take them both from the table, and lodge them in the infirmary. Not long after, another of the company telling us, he knew by a pain in his shoulder that we should have some rain, the president ordered him to be removed, and placed as a weather-glass in the apartment above mentioned.
"On Wednesday a gentleman having received a letter written in a woman's hand, and changing colour twice or 30 thrice as he read it, desired leave to retire into the infirmary. The president consented, but denied him the use of pen, ink, and paper, till such time as he had slept upon it. One of the company being seated at the lower end of the table, and discovering his secret discontent by finding fault with every dish that was served up, and refusing to laugh at any thing that was said, the president told him that he found he was
in an uneasy seat, and desired him to accommodate himself better in the infirmary. After dinner a very honest fellow chancing to let a pun fall from him, his neighbour cried out, "To the infirmary'; at the same time pretending to be sick at it, as having the same natural antipathy to a pun, which some have to a cat. This produced a long debate. Upon the whole, the punster was acquitted, and his neighbour sent off.
"On Thursday there was but one delinquent. This was a gentleman of strong voice but weak understanding. He had 10 unluckily engaged himself in a dispute with a man of excellent sense, but of a modest elocution. The man of heat replied to every answer of his antagonist with a louder note than ordinary, and only raised his voice when he should have enforced his argument. Finding himself at length driven to an absurdity, he still reasoned in a more clamorous and confused manner, and to make the greater impression upon his hearers, concluded with a loud thump upon the table. The president immediately ordered him to be carried off, and dieted with water gruel, till such time as he should be suffi- 20 ciently weakened for conversation.
"On Friday there passed very little remarkable, saving only, that several petitions were read of the persons in custody, desiring to be released from their confinement, and vouching for one another's good behaviour for the future.
"On Saturday we received many excuses from persons who had found themselves in an unsociable temper, and had voluntarily shut themselves up. The infirmary was indeed never so full as on this day, which I was at some loss to account for, till upon my going abroad I observed that it was 30 an easterly wind. The retirement of most of my friends has given me opportunity and leisure of writing you this letter, which I must not conclude without assuring you, that all the members of our college, as well those who are under confinement, as those who are at liberty, are your very humble servants, though none more than, etc."
XXXIII. ESSAY ON DREAMS.
Thursday, September 18, 1712.
Cum prostrata sopore
Urget membra quies, et mens sine pondere ludit.—Petr.
While sleep oppresses the tired limbs, the mind
THOUGH there are many authors, who have written on dreams, they have generally considered them only as revelations of what has already happened in distant parts of the world, or as presages of what is to happen in future periods of time.
I shall consider this subject in another light, as dreams 10 may give us some idea of the great excellency of an human soul, and some intimation of its independency on matter.
In the first place, our dreams are great instances of that activity which is natural to the human soul, and which it is not in the power of sleep to deaden or abate. When the man appears tired and worn out with the labours of the day, this active part in his composition is still busied and unwearied. When the organs of sense want their due repose and necessary reparations, and the body is no longer able to keep pace with that spiritual substance to which it is united, the soul exerts 20 herself in her several faculties, and continues in action till her partner is again qualified to bear her company. In this case dreams look like the relaxations and amusements of the soul, when she is disencumbered of her machine, her sports and recreations, when she has laid her charge asleep.
In the second place, dreams are an instance of that agility and perfection which is natural to the faculties of the mind, when they are disengaged from the body. The soul is clogged and retarded in her operations, when she acts in conjunction with a companion that is so heavy and unwieldy in its motions. 30 But in dreams it is wonderful to observe with what a