« VorigeDoorgaan »
historical sanction, are handed down among the torture, the other only repeated his former exclavulgar, and serve at once to instruct and amuse mation, "Does the villain murmur?" them. Of this number, the adventures of Robin From this period, revenge as well as patriotism Hood, the hunting of Chevy-Chase, and the brave-took entire possession of his soul. His fury stooped ry of Johnny Armstrong, among the English; so low as to follow the executioner with unremitting of Kaul Dereg among the Irish; and Crichton resentment. But conceiving that the best method among the Scots, are instances. Of all the tradi- to attain these ends was to acquire some eminence tions, however, I remember to have heard, I do not in the city, he laid himself out to oblige its new recollect any more remarkable than one still current masters, studied every art, and practised every in Flanders; a story generally the first the peasants meanness, that serve to promote the needy, or rentell their children, when they bid them behave like der the poor pleasing; and by these means, in a few Bidderman the wise. It is by no means, however, years, he came to be of some note in the city, which a model to be set before a polite people for imita- justly belonged entirely to him. tion; since if, on the one hand, we perceive in it.The executioner was therefore the first object the steady influence of patriotism, we on the other of his resentment, and he even practised the lowest find as strong a desire of revenge. But, to wave fraud to gratify the revenge he owed him. A piece introduction, let us to the story. of plate, which Bidderman had previously stolen When the Saracens overran Europe with their from the Saracen governor, he privately conveyed armies, and penetrated as far even as Antwerp, into the executioner's house, and then gave informaBidderman was lord of a city, which time has since tion of the theft. They who are any way acquaintswept into destruction. As the inhabitants of this ed with the rigour of the Arabian laws, know that country were divided under separate leaders, the theft is punished with immediate death. The Saracens found an easy conquest, and the city of proof was direct in this case; the executioner had Bidderman, among the rest, became a prey to the nothing to offer in his own defence, and he was victors. therefore condemned to be beheaded upon a scafThus dispossessed of his paternal city, our un-fold in the public market-place. As there was no fortunate governor was obliged to seek refuge from executioner in the city but the very man who was the neighbouring princes, who were as yet unsub- now to suffer, Bidderman himself undertook this, dued, and he for some time lived in a state of wretch-to him a most agreeable office. The criminal was ed dependence among them. conducted from the judgment-seat, bound with cords: the scaffold was erected, and he placed in such a manner as he might lie most convenient for the blow.
Soon, however, his love to his native country brought him back to his own city, resolved to rescue it from the enemy, or fall in the attempt: thus, in disguise, he went among the inhabitants, and But his death alone was not sufficient to satisfy endeavoured, but in vain, to excite them to revolt. the resentment of this extraordinary man, unless Former misfortunes lay so heavily on their minds, it was aggravated with every circumstance of cruthat they rather chose to suffer the most cruel elty. Wherefore, coming up the scaffold, and dis bondage than attempt to vindicate their, former freedom.
posing every thing in readiness for the intended blow, with the sword in his hand he approached the criminal, and whispering in a low voice, assured him that he himself was the person that had once been used with so much cruelty; that to his knowledge he died very innocently, for the plate had been stolen by himself, and privately conveyed into the house of the other.
As he was thus one day employed, whether by information or from suspicion is not known, he was apprehended by a Saracen soldier as a spy, and brought before the very tribunal at which he once presided. The account he gave of himself was by no means satisfactory. He could produce no friends to vindicate his character, wherefore, as the Saracens knew not their prisoner, and as they had no direct proofs against him, they were content with condemning him to be publicly whipped as a vagabond.
"O, my countrymen," cried the criminal, "do you hear what this man says?"—"Does the villain murmur?" replied Bidderman, and immediately at one blow severed his head from his body.
Still, however, he was not content till he had
The execution of this sentence was accordingly ample vengeance of the governors of the city, who performed with the utmost rigour. Bidderman condemned him. To effect this, he hired a smalı was bound to the post, the executioner seeming house adjoining to the town-wall, under which he disposed to add to the cruelty of the sentence, as he every day dug, and carried out the earth in a basket. received no bribe for lenity. Whenever Bidderman In this unremitting labour he continued several groaned under the scourge, the other, redoubling years, every day digging a little, and carrying the his blows, cried out "Does the villain murmur?" earth unsuspected away. By this means he at last If Bidderman entreated but a moment's respite from made a secret communication from the country in
to the city, and only wanted the appearance of an as possible. Nature has furnished the body of this enemy in order to betray it. This opportunity at little creature with a glutinous liquid, which, length offered; the French army came down into proceeding from the anus, it spins into thread, the neighbourhood, but had no thoughts of sitting coarser or finer, as it chooses to contract or dilate down before a town which they considered as im- its sphincter. In order to fix its thread when it pregnable. Bidderman, however, soon altered their begins to weave, it emits a small drop of its liquid resolutions, and, upon communicating his plan to against the wall, which, hardening by degrees, the general, he embraced it with ardour. Through serves to hold the thread very firmly. Then rethe private passage above mentioned, he introduced ceding from its first point, as it recedes the thread large body of the most resolute soldiers, who soon lengthens; and when the spider has come to the opened the gates for the rest, and the whole army place where the other end of the thread should rushing in, put every Saracen that was found to be fixed, gathering up with his claws the thread the sword. which would otherwise be too slack, it is stretched tightly, and fixed in the same manner to the wall as before.
THE SAGACITY OF SOME INSECTS.
ANIMALS in general are sagacious in proportion as they cultivate society. The elephant and the beaver show the greatest signs of this when united; but when man intrudes into their communities, they lose all their spirit of industry, and testify but a very small share of that sagacity for which, when in a social state, they are so remarkable.
Among insects, the labours of the bee and the ant have employed the attention and admiration of the naturalist; but their whole sagacity is lost upon separation, and a single bee or ant seems destitute of every degree of industry, is the most stupid insect imaginable, languishes for a time in solitude, and soon dies.
In this manner it spins and fixes several threads parallel to each other, which, so to speak, serves as the warp to the intended web. To form the woof, it spins in the same manner its thread, transversely fixing one end to the first thread that was spun, and which is always the strongest of the whole web, and the other to the wall. All these threads being newly spun, are glutinous and therefore stick to each other wherever they happen to touch; and in those parts of the web most exposed to be torn, our natural artist, strengthens them, by doubling the threads sometimes six-fold.
Thus far naturalists have gone in the description of this animal; what follows is the result of my own observation upon that species of the insect called a house-spider. I perceived about four years ago, a large spider in one corner of my room, making its web; and though the maid frequently levelled her fatal broom against the labours of the little animal, I had the good fortune then to prevent its destruction; and I may say, it more than paid me by the entertainment it afforded,
Of all the solitary insects I have ever remarked, the spider is the most sagacious; and its actions, to me who have attentively considered them, seem almost to exceed belief. This insect is formed by nature for a state of war, not only upon other in- In three days the web was with incredible dilisects, but upon each other. For this state nature gence completed; nor could I avoid thinking, that seems perfectly well to have formed it. Its head the insect seemed to exult in its new abode. It and breast are covered with a strong natural coat frequently traversed it round, examined the strength of mail, which is impenetrable to the attempts of of every part of it, retired into its hole, and came every other insect, and its belly is enveloped in a out very frequently. The first enemy, however, soft pliant skin, which eludes the sting even of a it had to encounter, was another and a much larwasp. Its legs are terminated by strong claws, ger spider, which, having no web of its own, and not unlike those of a lobster; and their vast length, having probably exhausted all its stock in former like spears, serve to keep every assailant at a labours of this kind, came to invade the property distance. of its neighbour. Soon, then, a terrible encounNot worse furnished for observation than for an ter ensued, in which the invader seemed to have attack or a defence, it has several eyes, large, trans- the victory, and the laborious spider was obliged to parent, and covered with a horny substance, which, take refuge in its hole. Upon this I perceived the however, does not impede its vision. Besides this, victor using every art to draw the enemy from his it is furnished with a forceps above the mouth; strong hold. He seemed to go off, but quickly rewhich serves to kill or secure the prey already turned; and when he found all arts vain, began to caught in its claws or its net. demolish the new web without mercy. This
Such are the implements of war with which the brought on another battle, and, contrary to my expody is immediately furnished, but its net to en-pectations, the laborious spider became conqueror, tange the enemy seems what it chiefly trusts to, and fairly killed his antagonist.
and what it takes most pains to render as complete! Now, then, in peaceable possession of what was
Justly its own, it waited three days with the ut- The insect I am now describing lived three most impatience, repairing the breaches of its web, ' years; every year it changed its skin, and got a and taking no sustenance that I could perceive. new set of legs. I have sometimes plucked off a At last, however, a large blue fly fell into the snare, leg, which grew again in two or three days. At and struggled hard to get loose. The spider gave first it dreaded my approach to its web, but at last it leave to entangle itself as much as possible, but it became so familiar as to take a fly out of my it seemed to be too strong for the cobweb. I must hand; and upon my touching any part of the web, own I was greatly surprised when I saw the spider would immediately leave its hole, prepared either immediately sally out, and in less than a minute for a defence or an attack.
weave a new net round its captive, by which the To complete this description, it may be observed, motion of its wings was stopped; and, when it was that the male spiders are much less than the female, fairly hampered in this manner, it was seized, and and that the latter are oviparous. When they come dragged into the hole. to lay, they spread a part of their web under the eggs, and then roll them up carefully, as we roll up things in a cloth, and thus hatch them in their hole. If disturbed in their holes, they never attempt to escape without carrying this young brood in their forceps, away with them, and thus frequently are sacrificed to their paternal affection.
In this manner it lived, in a precarious state; and nature seemed to have fitted it for such a life, for upon a single fly it subsisted for more than week. I once put a wasp into the net; but when the spider came out in order to seize it as usual, upon perceiving what kind of an enemy it had to deal with, it instantly broke all the bands that held it fast, and contributed all that lay in its power to to disengage so formidable an antagonist. When sibly seem to grow bigger. If they have the good the wasp was at liberty, I expected the spider fortune, when even but a day old, to catch a fly, would have set about repairing the breaches that they fall too with good appetites: but they live were made in its net, but those it seems were irre-sometimes three or four days without any sort of parable: wherefore the cobweb was now entirely sustenance, and yet still continue to grow larger, forsaken, and a new one begun, which was com- so as every day to double their former size. As pleted in the usual time. they grow old, however, they do not still continue
As soon as ever the young ones leave their artificial covering, they begin to spin, and almost sen
I had now a mind to try how many cobwebs a to increase, but their legs only continue to grow single spider could furnish; wherefore I destroyed longer; and when a spider becomes entirely stiff this, and the insect set about another. When I with age and unable to seize its prey, it dies at destroyed the other also, its whole stock seemed en-length of hunger.
tirely exhausted, and it could spin no more. The
arts it made use of to support itself, now deprived THE CHARACTERISTICS OF GREATof its great means of subsistence, were indeed surprising. I have seen it roll up its legs like a ball, and lie motionless for hours together, but cautiously watching all the time: when a fly happened to approach sufficiently near, it would dart out all at once, and often seize its prey.
In every duty, in every science in which we would wish to arrive at perfection, we should propose for the object of our pursuit some certain station even beyond our abilities; some imaginary excellence, which may amuse and serve to animate
Of this life, however, it soon began to grow weary, and resolved to invade the possession of our inquiry. In deviating from others, in followsome other spider, since it could not make a web ing an unbeaten road, though we perhaps may of its own. It formed an attack upon a neighbour-never arrive at the wished-for object, yet it is possible ing fortification with great vigour, and at first was we may meet several discoveries by the way; and as vigorously repulsed. Not daunted, however, the certainty of small advantages, even while we with one defeat, in this manner it continued to lay travel with security, is not so amusing as the hopes siege to another's web for three days, and at length, of great rewards, which inspire the adventurer. having killed the defendant, actually took posses-Evenit nonnunquam, says Quintilian, ut aliquid sion. When smaller flies happen to fall into the grande inveniat qui semper quærit quod nimium snare, the spider does not sally out at once, but est. very patiently waits till it is sure of them; for upon his immediately approaching, the terror of his appearance might give the captive strength sufficient to get loose: the manner then is to wait patiently, till by ineffectual and impotent struggles, the cap-losophy, or an imitator in polite learning, might be
regarded as a chimerical projector. Hundreds would be ready not only to point out his errors,
tive has wasted all its strength, and then he becomes a certain and easy conquest.
This enterprising spirit is, however, by no means the character of the present age: every person who should now leave received opinions, who should attempt to be more than a commentator upen phi
but to load him with reproach. Our probable opin-above their deserts; projectors in the republic of ions are now regarded as certainties; the difficul- letters, never. If wrong, every inferior dunce ties hitherto undiscovered as utterly inscrutable; thinks himself entitled to laugh at their disapand the last age inimitable, and therefore the pro-pointment; if right, men of superior talents think perest models of imitation. their honour engaged to oppose, since every new discovery is a tacit diminution of their own preeminence.
One might be almost induced to deplore the philosophic spirit of the age, which, in proportion as it enlightens the mind, increases its timidity, and To aim at excellence, our reputation, our friends, represses the vigour of every undertaking. Men and our all must be ventured; by aiming only at are now content with being prudently in the right; mediocrity, we run no risk, and we do little service. which, though not the way to make new acquisi- Prudence and greatness are ever persuading us to tions, it must be owned, is the best method of ser contrary pursuits. The one instructs us to be curing what we have. Yet this is certain, that the content with our station, and to find happiness in writer who never deviates, who never hazards a new bounding every wish: the other impels us to suthought, or a new expression, though his friends periority, and calls nothing happiness but rapture. may compliment him upon his sagacity, though The one directs to follow mankind, and to act and criticism lifts her feeble voice in his praise, will think with the rest of the world: the other drives seldom arrive at any degree of perfection. The us from the crowd, and exposes us as a mark to all way to acquire lasting esteem, is not by the few-the shafts of envy or ignorance. ness of a writer's faults, but the greatness of his beauties; and our noblest works are generally most replete with both.
Nec minus periculum ex magna fama quam ex mala.
An author who would be sublime, often runs his thought into burlesque; yet I can readily parThe rewards of mediocrity are immediately don his mistaking ten times for once succeeding. paid, those attending excellence generally paid in True genius walks along a line; and perhaps our reversion. In a word, the little mind who loves greatest pleasure is in seeing it so often near fall-itself, will write and think with the vulgar, but the ing, without being ever actually down. great mind will be bravely eccentric, and scorn the Every science has its hitherto undiscovered mys-beaten road, from universal benevolence. teries, after which men should travel undiscouraged
by the failure of former adventurers. Every new In this place our author introduces a paper, attempt serves perhaps to facilitate its future in- entitled a City Night Piece, with the following vention. We may not find the philosopher's motto from Martial. stone, but we shall probably hit upon new inventions in pursuing it. We shall perhaps never be able to discover the longitude, yet perhaps we may arrive at new truths in the investigation.
Ille dolet vere, qui sine teste dolet,
This beautiful Essay forms the 117th letter in Were any of those sagacious minds among us the Citizen of the World; but Dr. Goldsmith has (and surely no nation, or no person, could ever there omitted the concluding paragraph, which, on compare with us in this particular); were any of account of its singular merit, we shall here prethose minds, I say, who now sit down contented serve.
with exploring the intricacies of another's system, bravely to shake off admiration, and, undazzled But let me turn from a scene of such distress to with the splendour of another's reputation, to the sanctified hypocrite, who has been talking of chalk out a path to fame for themselves, and boldly virtue till the time of bed, and now steals out to cultivate untried experiment, what might not be give a loose to his vices under the protection of the result of their inquiries, should the same study midnight: vices more atrocious because he atthat has made them wise make them enterprising tempts to conceal them. See how he pants down also? What could not such qualities united pro- the dark alley; and, with hastening steps, fears an duce? But such is not the character of the Eng-acquaintance in every face. He has passed the lish: while our neighbours of the continent launch whole day in company he hates, and now goes to out into the ocean of science, without proper store prolong the night among company that as heartily for the voyage, we fear shipwreck in every breeze, hate him. May his vices be detected! may the and consume in port those powers which might morning rise upon his shame! Yet I wish to no probably have weathered every storm. purpose; villany, when detected, never gives up, Proiectors in a state are generally rewarded but boldly adds impudence to imposture.
THE BEE, No. V.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1759.
disinterested, and laborious members of society; but does it not at present point out a different path? It teaches us to multiply our wants, by which means we become more eager to possess, in order to dissipate, a greater charge to ourselves, and more useless or obnoxious to society.
If a youth happens to be possessed of more genius than fortune, he is early informed, that he ought to think of his advancement in the world;
UPON POLITICAL FRUGALITY.
FRUGALITY has ever been esteemed a virtue as well among Pagans as Christians: there have been that he should labour to make himself pleasing to even heroes who have practised it. However, we his superiors; that he should shun low company must acknowledge, that it is too modest a virtue, |(by which is meant the company of his equals); or, if you will, too obscure a one, to be essential to that he should rather live a little above than below heroism; few heroes have been able to attain to his fortune; that he should think of becoming such a height. Frugality agrees much better with great: but he finds none to admonish him to bepolitics; it seems to be the base, the support, and, come frugal, to persevere in one single design, to in a word, seems to be the inseparable companion avoid every pleasure and all flattery which, howof a just administration. ever seeming to conciliate the favour of his superiors, never conciliate their esteem. There are none to teach him, that the best way of becoming happy in himself, and useful to others, is to con
However this be, there is not perhaps in the world a people less fond of this virtue than the English; and of consequence, there is not a nation more restless, more exposed to the uneasiness tinue in the state in which fortune at first placed of life, or less capable of providing for particular him, without making too hasty strides to advancehappiness. We are taught to despise this virtue ment; that greatness may be attained, but should from our childhood, our education is improperly not be expected; and that they who most impadirected, and a man who has gone through the po- tiently expect advancement, are seldom possessed iitest institutions, is generally the person who is of their wishes. He has few, I say, to teach him least acquainted with the wholesome precepts of this lesson, or to moderate his youthful passions; frugality. We every day hear the elegance of yet this experience may say, that a young man, taste, the magnificence of some, and the generosity who, but for six years of the early part of his life, of others, made the subject of our admiration and could seem divested of all his passions, would applause. All this we see represented, not as the certainly make, or considerably increase his forend and recompense of labour and desert, but as tune, and might indulge several of his favourthe actual result of genius, as the mark of a noble ite inclinations in manhood with the utmost seand exalted mind. curity.
In the midst of these praises bestowed on luxury, The efficaciousness of these means is sufficiently for which elegance and taste are but another name, known and acknowledged; but as we are apt to perhaps it may be thought improper to plead the connect a low idea with all our notions of frugality, cause of frugality. It may be thought low, or the person who would persuade us to it might be vainly declamatory, to exhort our youth from the accused of preaching up avarice.
follies of dress, and of every other superfluity; to Of all vices, however, against which morality accustom themselves, even with mechanic mean- dissuades, there is not one more undetermined ness, to the simple necessaries of life. Such sort than this of avarice. Misers are described by of instructions may appear antiquated; yet, how- some, as men divested of honour, sentiment, or huever, they seem the foundations of all our virtues, manity; but this is only an ideal picture, or the reand the most efficacious method of making man- semblance at least is found but in a few. In truth, kind useful members of society. Unhappily, how- they who are generally called misers, are some of ever, such discourses are not fashionable among the very best members of society. The sober, us, and the fashion seems every day growing still the laborious, the attentive, the frugal, are thus more obsolete, since the press, and every other styled by the gay, giddy, thoughtless, and extramethod of exhortation, seems disposed to talk of vagant. The first set of men do society all the the luxuries of life as harmless enjoyments. I re- good, and the latter all the evil that is felt. Even member, when a boy, to have remarked, that those the excesses of the first no way injure the comwho in school wore the finest clothes, were pointed monwealth; those of the latter are the most in at as being conceited and proud. At present, our jurious that can be conceived. iittle masters are taught to consider dress betimes, The ancient Romans, more rational than we in and they are regarded, even at school, with con- this particular, were very far from thus misplacing tempt, who do not appear as genteel as the rest. their admiration or praise; instead of regarding Education should teach us to become useful, sober, the practice of parsimony as low or vicious, they