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their benefactors, that they have no regard to
N° 589. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3.
The loofen'd tree comes rushing to the ground.
AM fo great an admirer of trees, that the
feat upon, in the country, is almoft in the midft of a large wood. I was obliged, much against my will, to cut down feveral trees, that I might have any fuch thing as a walk in my 'gardens; but then I have taken care to leave the space, between every walk, as much a wood as I found it. The moment you turn either to the right or left, you are in a forest, where nature prefents you with a much more beautiful fcene than could have been raised by
Instead of tulips or carnations, I can fhew you oaks in my gardens of four hundred years • standing, and a knot of elms that might shelter a troop of horfe from the rain.
It is not without the utmost indignation, that I obferve feveral prodigal young heirs in the neighbourhood, felling down the most glorious monuments of their ancestors induftry, and ruining, in a day, the product of ages.
I am mightily pleafed with your difcourfe 1 upon planting, which put me upon looking into my books to give you fome account of the veneration the ancients had for trees.
on mount Ida, which however he durft not do until he had obtained leave from Cybele, to whom it was dedicated. The goddefs could not but think herself obliged to protect these fhips, which were made of confecrated timber, ' after a very extraordinary manner, and there"fore defired Jupiter, that they might not be obnoxious to the power of waves or winds, Jupiter would not grant this, but promifed her, that as many as came safe to Italy fhould ⚫ be transformed into goddeffes of the fea; which the poet tells us was accordingly executed.
The heathens ftill went farther, and regard ed it as the highest picce of facrilege to injure ⚫ certain trees which they took to be protected by 'fome deity. The story of Erifichon, the grove at Dodona, and that at Delphi, are all inftances of this kind.
"Perfix'd by Fate's irrevocable doom,
"A light that fign'd the heavens, and shot alongs "Then from a cloud, fring'd round with golden "fires,
Aneas, when he built his fleet in order to * fail for Italy, was obliged to cut down the grove
And now at length the number'd hours were "6 come,
"Were timbrels heard, and Berecynthian quires "Andlaft a voice, with more than mortal founds "Both hofts in arms oppos'd with equal horror "wounds.
is an old tradition, that Abraham planted a cyprefs; a pine, and a cedar, and that these three ⚫ incorporated into one tree, which was cut down ⚫for the building of the temple of Solomon.
Ifidorus, who lived in the reign of Conftan
tius, affures us, that he faw, even in his time,
The common opinion concerning the nymphs, whom the ancients called Hamadryads, is more to the honour of trees than any thing yet menIt was thought the fate of thefs nymphs had fo near a dependence on fame trees, more efpecially oaks, that they lived and died together. For this reason they were. extremely grateful to fuch perfons who pre⚫ ferved thofe trees with which their being fub, ftory to this purpofe, with which I shall confifted. Apollonius tells us a very remarkable clode my letter.
A certain man, ealled Rhærus, obferving an ¿ old oak ready to fall, and being moved with a 'fort of compaffion towards the tree, ordered, his fervants to pour in fresh earth at the roots of it, and fet it upright. The Hamadryad, or nymph, who must neceffarily have perithed with the tree, appeared to him the next day, and after having returned him her thanks, told him, he was ready to grant whatever he should afk. As he was extremely beautiful, Rhocas defired he might be entertained as her lover, The Hamadryad, not much difpleafed with the requeft, promifed to give him a meeting, but commended him for some days to abstain from
If we confider the machine in Virgil, for
the embraces of all other women, adding that the would fend a bee to him, to let him know when he was to be happy. Rhecus was, it feems, too much addicted to gaming, and happened to be in a run of ill-luck when the faithful bee came buzzing about him; fo that inftead of minding his kind invitation, he had like to have killed him for his pains. The Hamadryad was fo provoked at her own dif<appointment, and the ill ufage of her meffen
ger, that the deprived Rhæcus of the ufe of his <limbs. However, fays the ftory, he was not fo much a cripple, but he made a fhift to cut down the tree, and confequently to fell his • mistress.'
N° 590. MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 6.
Non fecus ac flumen. Neque enim confiftere flumen,
E'en times are in perpetual flux, and run,
fubject of another paper. The nature of this eternity is utterly inconceivable by the mind of man: our reafon demonstrates to us that it has been, but at the fame time can frame no idea of it, but what is big with abiurdity and contradiction. We can have no other concep tion of any duration which is paft, than that all of it was once prefent; and whatever was once prefent, is at fome certain diftance front " us, be the distance never so remote, cannot be eternity. The very notion of any duration's being paft, implies that it was once prefent, for the idea of being once prefent, is actually included in the idea of its being past, This therefore is a depth not to be founded by human understanding. We are fure that there has been an eternity, and yet contradict ourfelves when we measure this eternity by any notion which we can frame of it.
The following difcourfe comes from the fame hand with the effays upon infinitude.
E confider infinite fpace as an expanfion without a circumference: we ⚫ confider eternity, or infinite duration, as a line that has neither a beginning nor an end. In ..our speculations of infinite space, we confider
that particular place in which we exift, as a kind of centre to the whole expanfion. In our fpeculations of eternity, we confider the time which is prefent to us as the middle, which divides the whole line into two equal parts. For this reason, many witty authors compare ⚫the prefent time to an ifthmus or narrow neck of land, that rifes in the midst of an ocean, • immeasurably diffused on either fide of it.
Philofophy, and indeed common sense, naturally throws eternity under two divifions, which we may call in English, that eternity which is paft, and that eternity which is to come. The learned terms of Æternitas a parte • ante, and Eternitas a parte poft, may be more amufing to the reader, but can have no other idea affixed to them than what is conveyed to us by those words, an eternity that is paft, and an eternity that is to come. Each of thefe eternities is bounded at the one extreme, or, in other words, the former has an end, and the ⚫ latter a beginning.
If we go to the bottom of this matter, we 'fhall find that the difficulties we meet with in our conceptions of eternity proceed from this fingle reason, that we can have no other idea of any kind of duration, than that by which we ourselves, and all other created beings do exift; which is, a fucceffive duration made up of paft, prefent, and to come. There is 'nothing which exifts after this manner, all the parts of whofe exiftence were not once actually prefent, and confequently may be reached by a certain number of years applied to it. We may afcend as high as we please, and employ our being to that eternity which is to come, in adding millions of years to millions of years, and we can never come up to any fountain head of duration, to any beginning in eternity? but at the fame time we are fure, that what⚫ ever was once prefent does lie within the reach of numbers, though perhaps we can never be able to put enough of them together for that purpofe. We may as well fay, that any thing may be actually present in any part of infinite fpace, which does not lie at a certain distance from us, as that any part of infinite duration was once actually prefent, and does not alfo lie at fome determined diftance from us. The diftance in both cafes may be immeafurable and indefinite as to our faculties, but our reafon tells us that it cannot be fo in itself. Here therefore is that difficulty which human understanding is not capable of furmounting. We are fure that fomething must have existed from eternity, and are at the fame time unable to conceive, that any thing which exifts, according to our notion of existence, can have. • exifted from eternity.
Let us first of all confider that eternity which • is past, referving that which is to come for the
It is hard for a reader, who has not rolled this thought in his own mind, to follow in fuch an abstracted fpeculation; but I have been the longer on it, becaufe I think it is a demonftrative argument of the being and eternity of God: and though there are many other demonftrations which lead us to this great truth, I do not think we ought to lay afide any proofs in this matter, which the light of reafon has fuggefted to us, efpecially when it is fuch a one as has been urged by men famous for their penetration and force of understand-, ing, and which appears altogether conclufive to thofe who will be at the pains to examine it.
Having thus confidered that eternity which is paft, according to the best idea we can frame of it, I shall now draw up thofe feveral articles
· on this fubject, which are dictated to us by the light of reason, and which may be looked · upon as the creed of a philosopher in this great point.
Firft, It is certain that no being could have made itself; for if fo, it must have acted before it was, which is a contradiction.
"Nothing is there to come, and nothing past, "But an eternal now does always laft."
being which truly and really exifts. The an cient Platonic notion which was drawn from fpeculations of eternity, wonderfully agrees with this revelation which God has made of himself. There is nothing, fay they, which in reality exifts, whofe exiftence, as we call it, is pieced up. of paft, prefent, and to come. Such a flitting and fucceffive existence is rather 'a fhadow of existence, and fomething which is like it, than existence itself. He only pro'perly exifts whofe existence is entirely prefent; that is, in other words, who exifts in the most 'perfect manner, and in fuch a manner as we have no idea of.
1 fhall conclude this fpeculation with one • useful inference. How can we fufficiently proftrate ourselves and fall down before our Ma'ker, when we confider that ineffable goodness and wifdom which contrived this existence for finite natures? What must be the over'flowings of that good-will, which prompted our Creator to adapt exiftence to beings, in whom it is heceffary? Efpecially when we confider that he himself was before in the complete poffeffion of existence and of hap pinefs, and in the full enjoyment of eternity. What man can think of himself as called out and feparated from nothing, of his being made a confcious, a reasonable and a happy creature, in fhort, of being taken in as a fharer of exiftence, and a kind of partner in eternity, without being fwallowed up in wonder, in praife, in adoration! It is indeed a thought too big for the mind of man, and rather to be entertained in the fecrecy of devotion, and in the ⚫ filence of his foul, than to be expreffed by words. The Supreme Being has not given us powers or faculties fufficient to extol and magnify fuch unutterable goodness.
It is however fome comfort to us, that we fhall be always doing what we fhall be never able to do, and that a work which cannot be finished, will however be the work of an eternity.'
For my own part, I look upon thefe propofitions as words that have no ideas annexed to them; and think men had better own their ignorance, than advance doctrines by which they mean nothing, and which, indeed, are ⚫lelf-contradictory. We cannot be too modeft in our difquifitions, when we meditate on him, who is environed with fo much glory and per'fection, who is the fource of being, the fourtain of all that exiftence, which we and his whole creation derive from him. Let us therefore with the utmost humility acknowledge, that as fome being muft neceffarily have exifted from eternity, fo this being does exift after an fter an incomprehenfible manner, fince it is impoffible for a being to have exifted from eternity 'after our manner or notions of existence. Re-. > velation confirms these natural dictates of reafon in the accounts which it gives us of the di'vine existence, where it tells us, that he is the fame yesterday, to day, and for ever; that he is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending; that a thousand years are with him as one day, and one day as a thousand years; by which, and the like expreffions, we are taught, that his existence with relation to time or duration, is infinitely different from the existence of any of his creatures, and consequently that it is impoffible for us to frame any adequate conceptions of it.
In the first revelation which he makes of his own being, he entitles himself, "I AM that I "AM" and when Mofes defires to know what name he fhall give him in his embaffy to Pharoah, he bids him fay that "I AM hath fent "you." Our great Creator, by this revelation of himself, does in a manner exclude every thing elfe from a real existence, and diftin! guishes himself from his creatures, as the only
N° 591. WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 8.
-Tenerorum lufor, amorum,
OVID. Trift. Eleg. 3. 1. 3, ver. 73. Love the foft fubject of his fportive muse.
Have just received a letter from a gentleman, who tells me he has obferved with no small concern, that my papers have of late been very barren in relation to love; a fubject which, when agreeably handled, can scarce fail of being well received by both fexes.
If my invention therefore should be almost exhaufted on this head, he offers to ferve under me in the quality of a Love Cafuift; for which place he conceives himself to be thoroughly qualified, having made this paffion his principal study, and obferved it in all its different shapes and appearances, from the fifteenth to the fortyfifth year of his age.
He affures me with an air of confidence, which I hope proceeds from his real abilities, that he does not doubt of giving judgment to the fatisfaction of the parties concerned, on the moft nice and intricate cafes which can happen in an amour; as, How
How great the contraction of the fingers must be before it amounts to a squeeze by the hand.
What can be properly termed an abfolute denial from a maid, and what from a widow.
On what occafions a sheepish look may do fervice, &c.
As a farther proof of his skill, he alfo fent me feveral maxims in love, which he affures me are the refult of a long and profound reflexion, some of which I think myself obliged to communicate to the public, not remembring to have feen them before in any author.
There are more calamities in the world, arifing from love than from hatred.
Love is the daughter of idleness, but the mother of difquietude.
Men of grave natures, fays Sir Francis Bacon, a e the most conftant; for the fame realon men hould be more conftant than women.
The gay part of mankind is most amorous, the ferious moft loving.
A coquette often lofes her reputation, while the preferves her virtue.
A prude often preferves her reputation when
he has loft her virtue.
Love refines a man's behaviour, but makes a woman's ridiculous.
Love is generally accompanied with good-will in the young, intereft in the middle-aged, and a paflion too grofs to name in the old.
The endeavours to revive a decaying paffion generally extinguish the remains of it.
A woman who from being a flattern be comes over-neat, or from being over neat be⚫ comes a flattern, is moft certainly in love."
I fhall make use of this gentleman's fkill, as I fee occafion; and fince I am got upon the fubject of love, thall conclude this paper with a copy of verfes which were lately fent me by an unknown hand, as I look upon them to be above the ordinary run of fonneteers.
The author tells me they were written in one of his defpairing fits; and I find entertains fome hope that his mistress may ity such a paffion" as The has, defcribed, before the knows that the herfelf is Corinna.
ONCEAL, fond man, conceal the mighty
"Who in that lovely form, that heavenly mind,
"Who with low fancy fall approach her charms,
"And never, never, from thy bosom stray.”
To ask a pity which the must not lend.
At awful distance entertain thy grief,
No 592. FRIDAY, SEPT. 10.
-Studium fine divite venâ.
Hon. Ars. Poet. ver. 409.
Art without a vein.
Look upon the play-houfe as a world within ittelf. They have lately furnished the middle region of it with a new fet of meteors, in order to give the fublime to many modern tragedies. I was there lait winter at the first rehearsal of the new thunder, which is much more deep and fonorous than any hitherto made ufe of. They have a Salmoneus behind the scenes who plays it off with great fuccefs. Their lightnings are made to flash more briskly than heretofore; their clouds are alfo better furbelowed, and more voluminous; not to mention a violent ftorm locked up in a great cheft, that is defigned for the Tempest. They are alfo provided with above a dozen show. ers of fnow, which, as I am informed, are the plays of many unfuccefsful poets artificially cut and fhredded for that use. Mr. Rymer's Edgar is to fall in fnow at the next acting of King Lear, in order to heighten, or rather to alleviate, the diftrefs of that unfortunate princes and to ferve by way of decoration to a piece which that great critic has written againít.
I do not indeed wonder that the actors fhould be fuch profeffed enemies to those among our nation who are commonly known by the name of critics, fince it is a rule among thefe gentle. men to fall upon a play, not because it is written, but because it takes. Several of them lay it down as a maxim, that whatever dramatic per. formance has a long run, wuft of neceffity be good for nothing: as though the first precept in poetry were "not to pleafe." Whether this rule holds good or not, I shall leave to the determination of those who are better judges than myfelf; if it does, I am fure it tends very much to the honour of thofe gentlemen who have establifhed it; few of their pieces having been difgraced by a run of three days, and most of them being fo exquifitely written, that the town would
Nor tell Corinna the has fir'd thy heart.
In vain would't thou complain, in vain pre- never give them more than one night's hearing.
I have a great esteem for a true critic, fuch as Ariftotle and Longinus among the Greeks, Họrace and Quintilian among the Romans, Boileau and Dacier among the French. But it is our misfortune, that fome who fet up for profeffed critics among us are fo ftupid, that they do not know how to put ten words together with elegance or common propriety, and withal fo illi terate, that they have no taste of the learned languages, and therefore criticife upon old authors only at fecond hand. They judge of them by what others have written, and not by any no.
tions they have of the authors themselves. The words unity, action, fentiment, and diction, pronounced with an air of authority, give them à figure among unlearned readers, who are apt to believe they are very deep, because they are unintelligible. The ancient critics are full of the praises of their contemporaries; they difcover beauties which efcaped the obfervation of the vulgar, and very often find out reafons for palliating and excufing such little flips and overfights as were committed in the writings of eminent authors. On the contrary, most of the fmatterers in criticifm who appear among us, make it their business to vilify and depreciate every new production that gains applaufe, to defcry imaginary blemishes, and to prove by far fetched arguments, that what pafs for beauties in any celebrated piece are faults and errors. In fhort, the writings of thefe critics, compared with those of the ancients, are like the works of the
fophifts compared with those of the old philofophers.
Envy and cavil are the natural fruits of lazinefs and ignorance; which was probably the reason, that in the heathen mythology Momus is faid to be the fon of Nox and Somnus, of darknefs and fleep. Idle men, who have not been at the pains to accomplish or distinguish themselves, are very apt to detract from others; as ignorant men are very fubject to decry thofe beauties in a celebrated work which they have not eyes to difcover. Many of our fons of Momus, who dignify themselves by the name of critics, are the genuine defcendants of these two illuftrious ancestors. They are often led into thofe numerous abfurdities, in which they daily instruct the people, by not confidering that, First, There is fometimes a greater judgment fhewn in' deviating from the rules of art, than in adhering to them; and, 2dly, That there is more beauty in the works of a great genius, who is ignorant of all the rules of art, than in the works of a little genius, who not only knows, but fcrupulously
First, We may often take notice of men who are perfectly acquainted with all the rules of good writing, and notwithstanding choose to depart from them on extraordinary occasions. I could give inftances out of all the tragic writers of antiquity who have shewn their judgment in this particular; and purpofely receded from an eftablished rule of the drama, when it has made way for a much higher beauty than the obfervation of fuch a rule would have been. Those who have furveyed the nobleft pieces of architecture and ftatuary, both ancient and modern, know very well that there are frequent deviations from art in the works of the greatest mafters, which have produced a much nobler effect than a more accurate and exact way of proceeding could have done. This often arifes from what the Italians call the Gufto grande in these arts, which is what we call the fublime in writing.
In the next place, our critics do not feem fenfible that there is more beauty in the works of a great genius who is ignorant of the rules of art, than in those of a little genius who knows and obferves them. It is of these men of genius that Terence speaks, in oppofition to the little artificial cavillers of his time;
Quorum æmulari exoptat negligentiam Potiùs quàm iftorum obfcuram diligentiam,
Whofe negligence he would rather imitate, than these mens obfcure diligence.'
A critic may have the fame confolation in the ill-fuccefs of his play, as Dr. South tells us a physician has at the death of a patient, that he was killed fecundum artem. Our inimitable. Shakespeare is a ftumbling-block to the whole tribe of thefe rigid critics. Who would not rather read one of his plays, where there is not a fingle rule of the stage obferved, than any production of a modern critic, where there is not one of them violated? Shakespeare was indeed born with all the feeds of poetry, and may be com pared to the ftone in Pyrrhus's ring, which, as Pliny tells us, had the figure of Apollo and the nine Mufes in the veins of it, produced by the fpontaneous hand of nature, without any help from art.
N° 593. MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13.
Quale per incertam lunam fub luce maligna
Y dreaming correfpondent, Mr. Shadow, has fent me a fecond letter, with feveral curious obfervations on dreams in general, and the method to render fleep improving: an extract of his letter will not, prefume, be difagreeable to my readers.
INCE we have fo little time to fpare, that none of it may be loft, I fee no reafon why we should negled to examine thofe imaginary fcenes we are prefented with in fleep, only be'caufe they have a lefs reality in them than our 'waking meditations. A traveller would bring his judgment in question, who fhould defpife the directions of his map for want of real roads in it, because here ftands a dot inftead of a 'town, or a cypher inftead of a city, and it must 'be a long day's journey to travel through two
or three inches. Fancy in dreams gives us 'much fuch another landskip of life as that does of countries, and though its appearances may feem ftrangely jumbled together, we may often ' obferve fuch traces and footsteps of noble thoughts, as, if carefully purfued, might lead
us into a proper path of action. There is fo much rapture and extacy in our fancied blifs, and fomething fo difinal and fhocking in our fancied mifery, that though the inactivity of the body has given occafion for calling deep the image of death, the brifkness of the fancy affords us a ftrong intimation of fomething within us that can never die.
I have wondered that Alexander the Great, who came into the world fufficiently dreamed of by his parents, and had himfelf a tolerable knack at dreaming, fhould often say, that' "Sleep was one thing which made him fenfible he was mortal." I who have not fuch fields of a&ion in the day time to divert my attention from this matter, plainly perceive, that in thofe operations of the mind, while the body is at reft, there is a certain vaftnefs of conception very fuitable to the capacity, and demon⚫ftrative of the force of that divine part in our