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where he then stood; and that he had only dipped bis head into the water, and immediately taken it out again.
The Mahometan doctor took this occasion of instructing the sultan, that nothing was impossible with God; and that He, with whom a thousand years are but as one day, can, if he pleases, make a single day, nay, a single moment, appear to any of his creatures as a thousand
years. I shall leave my reader to compare these eastern fables with the notions of those two great philosophers whom I have quoted in this paper; and shall
' only, by way of application, desire him to consider how we may extend life beyond its natural dimensions, by applying ourselves diligently to the pursuits of knowledge.
The hours of a wise man are lengthened by his ideas, as those of a fool are by his passions. The time of the one is long, because he does not know what to do with it; so is that of the other, because he distinguishes every moment of it with useful or amusing thoughts; or, in other words, because the one is always wishing it away, and the other always enjoying it.
How different is the view of past life, in the man who is grown old in knowledge and wisdom, from that of him who is grown old in ignorance and folly! The latter is like the owner of a barren coun, try, that fills his eye with the prospect of naked hills and plains, which produce nothing either profitable or ornamental; the other beholds a beautiful and spacious landscape divided into delightful gardens, green meadows, fruitful fields, and can scarce cast his eye on a single spot of his possessions, that is not covered with some beautiful plant or flower.
NC 35. TU EŞDAY, JUNE 19, 1711..
Cura leves loquuntur, ingentcs stupent.
Light sorrows speak, great grief is dumb. Having read the two following letters with much pleasure, I cannot but think the good sense of them will be as agreeable to the town as any thing I could say either on the topics they treat of, or any other : : tliey both allude to former papers of mine; and I do not question but the first, which is upon mourna ing, will be thought the production of a man who is well acquainted with the generous yearnings of distress in a manly temper, which is above the relief of tears. A speculation of my own on that subject I shall defer till another occasion..
The second letter is from a lady of a mind as great as her understanding. There is perhaps something in the beginning of it which I ought in modesty to conceal; but I have so much esteem fors this correspondent, that I will not alter a tittle of what she writes, though I am thus scrupulous at the price of being ridiculous.
MR. SPECTATOR, I was very well pleased with your discourse upon general mourning, and should be obliged to yon if you will enter into the matter more deeply, and give us your thoughts upon the common sense the ordinary people have of the demonstrations of grief, who prescribe rules and fashions to the most solemn affliction ; such as the loss of the nearest relations and dearest friends. You cannot go to visit a sick friend, but some impertinent waiter about him observes the muscles of your face, as strictly, as if they were prognostics of his death or recovery. If he happens to be taken from you, you are inmediately surrounded with numbers of these spectators, who expect a melancholy sbrug of your shoulders, a pathetical shake of your head, and au. expressive distortion of your face, to measure your affection and value for the deceased. But there is nothing, on these vecasions, so much in their favour as imunoderate weeping. As all their passions are superficial, they imagine the seat of love and friendship to be placed visibly in the eyes. They judge whật stock of kindness you had for the living, by the quantity of tears you pour out for the dead; so that if one body wants that quantity of salt-water another abounds with, he is in great danger of being thought insensible or ill-natured. They are strangers to friendship, whose grief happens not to be moist enough to wet such a parcel of handkerchiefs. But experience has told us, nothing is so falacious as this outward sign of sorrow; and the natural history of our bodies will teach us that this flux of the eyes, this faculty of weeping, is peculiar only to some constitutions. We observe in the tender bodies of children, when crossed in their little wills and expectations, how dissolvable they are into tears. If this were what grief is in men, nature would not be able to support them in the excess of it for one moment. Add to this observation, how quick is their transition from this passion to that of their joy! I will not say we see often, in the next tender things to children, tears shed without much grieving. Thus it is common to shed tears without much sorrow, and as common to suffer much sorrow without shedding tears. Grief and weeping are indeed frequent companions : but, I believe, never in their highest excesses. As laughter does not proceed from profound joy, so neither does weeping from profound sorrow. The sorrow which appears so easily at the eyes, cannot have pierced deeply into the heart. The heart distended with grief, stops all the passages for tears or lamentations.
Now, Sir, what I would incline you to in alt this is, that you would inform the shallow critics and observers upon sorrow, that true affliction labours to be invisible, that it is a stranger to cere
mony, and that it bears in its own nature a dignity much above the little circumstances which are aifected under the notion of decency. You must know, Sir, I have lately lost a dear friend, for whom I have not yet shed a tear; and for that reason your animadversions on that subject would be the more acceptable to,
• Your most humble servant,
June the 15th. ? As I hope there are but few who have so little gratitude as not to acknowledge the usefulness of your pen, and to esteem it a public benefit; so lanz sensible, be that as it will, you must nevertheless find the secret and incomparable pleasure of doing good, and be a great sharer in the entertainment you give. I acknowledge our sex to be much obliged, and I hope improved by your labours, and even your intentions more particularly for our service. If it be true, as it is sometimes said, that our sex have an influence on the other, your paper may be a yet more general good. Your directing us to reading, is certainly the best means to our instruction ; but I think with you, caution in that particular very useful, since the improvement of our understandings may, or may not be of service to us, according as it is managed. It has been thought we are not generally so ignorant as illtaught, or that our sex does so often want wit, judgment, or knowledge, as the right application of them. You are so well-bred as to say your fair readers are already deeper scholars than the beaux, and that
could name some of them that talk much better than several gentlemen that make a figure at Will's *. This may possibly be, and no great compliment, in my opinion, even supposing your comparison to reach Tom's and the Grecian. Surely you are too wise to think that the real commen
* See No. 92.
dation of a woman. Were it not rather to be wished we improved in our own sphere, and approved ourselves better daughters, wives, mothers, and friends?
' I cannot but agree with the judicious trader in Cheapside * (though I am not at all prejudiced in his favour) in recommending the study of arithmetic; and must dissent even from the authority which you mention, when it advises the making our sex scholars. Indeed a little more philosophy, in order to the subduing our passions to our reason, might be sometimes serviceable; and a treatise of that nature I should approve of, even in exchange for. Theodosius, or the Force of Love; but as I well know you want not liints, I will proceed no further than to recommend the bishop of Cambray's Education of a Daughter, as it is translated into the only language I have any knowledge of, though perhaps very much to its disadvantage. I have heard it objected against that piece, that its instructions are not of general use, but only fitted for a great lady; but I confess I am not of that opinion ; for I do not remember that there are any rules laid down for the expences of a woman, in which particular only I think a gentlewoman ought to differ from a lady of the best fortune, or highest quality, and not in their principles of justice, gratitude, sincerity, prudence, or modesty. I ought perhaps to make an apology for this long epistle; but as I rather believe you a friend to sincerity than ceremony, shall only assure you I am,