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A pedant of this nature is wonderfully well described in six lines of Boileau, with which I shall conclude his character:1
Un Pédant enyvré de sa vaine science,
No. 160. TUESDAY, APRIL 18, 1710.
From my own Apartment, April 17. A COMMON civility to an impertinent fellow, often draws upon one a great many unforeseen troubles; and if one doth not take particular care, will be interpreted by him as an overture of friendship and intimacy. This I was very sensible of this morning. About two hours before day, I heard a great rapping at my door, which continued some time, till my maid could get herself ready to go down and see what was the occasion of it. She then brought me up word, that there was a gentleman who seemed very much in haste, and said he must needs speak with me. By the description she gave me of him, and by his voice, which I could hear as I lay in my bed, I fancied him to be my old acquaintance the upholsterer, whom I met the other day in St. James's Park. For which reason I bid her tell the gentleman, whoever he was, that I was indisposed, that I could see nobody, and that, if he had anything to say to me, I desired he would leave it in writing. "My maid, after having delivered her message, told me, that the gentleman said he would stay at the next coffee-house till I was stirring, and bid her be sure to tell me, that the French were driven from the Scarp, and that pains, are left in obscurity, they must not be surprised if the world thinks otherwise.
· The satire contained in this paper is extremely just; and yet, I doubt, has done no small hurt in the republic of letters. The reason is, that most men are lazy, as well as vain; and are, therefore, glad of such a pretence, as this piece of raillery affords them, to see all erudition, especially profound erudition, in the light of pedantry. So difficult it is not lo misapply the talent of ridicule, or, at least, not to give others the occasion of misapplying it!
the Douay was invested. He gave her the name of another town, which I found she had dropped by the way.
As much as I love to be informed of the success of my brave countrymen, I do not care for hearing of a victory before day, and was therefore
much out of humour at this unseasonable visit. I had no sooner recovered my temper, and was falling asleep, but I was immediately startled by a second rap; and upon my maid's opening the door, heard the same voice ask her, if her master was yet up? and at the same time bid her tell me, that he was come on purpose to talk with me about a piece of home-news that everybody in town will be full of two hours hence. I ordered my maid, as soon as she came into the room, without hearing her message, to tell the gentleman, that whatever his news was, I would rather hear it two hours hence than now; and that I persisted in my resolution not to speak with anybody that morning. The wench delivered my answer presently, and shut the door. It was impossible for me to compose myself to sleep after two such unexpected alarms; for which reason I put on my clothes in a very peevish humour. I took several turns about my chamber, reflecting with a great deal of anger and contempt on these volunteers in politics, that undergo all the pain, watchfulness, and disquiet of a first minister, without turning it to the advantage either of themselves or their country; and yet it is surprising to consider how numerous this species of men is. There is nothing more frequent than to find a tailor breaking his rest on the affairs of Europe, and to see a cluster of porters sitting upon the ministry. Our streets swarm with politicians, and there is scarce a shop which is not held by a statesman. As I was musing after this manner, I heard the upholsterer at the door delivering a letter to my maid, and begging her, in very great hurry, to give it to her master as soon as ever he was awake, which I opened and found as follows: 6 MR. BICKERSTAFFE,
I was to wait upon you about a week ago, to let you know, that the honest gentleman whom you conversed with upon the bench at the end of the Mall, having heard that I had received five shillings of you, to give you a hundred pounds upon the Great Turk’s being driven out of Europe, desired me to acquaint you, that every one of that company
would be willing to receive five shillings, to pay a hundred pounds on the same conditions. Our last advices from Muscovy making this a fairer bet than it was a week ago, I do not question but you
wager. “ But this is not my present business. If you remember, I whispered a word in your ear as we were walking up the Mall, and you see what has happened since. If I had seen you this morning, I would have told
your ear another secret. I hope you will be recovered of your indisposition by to-morrow morning, when I will wait on you at the same hour as I did this; my private circumstances being such, that I cannot well appear in this quarter of the town after it is day.
“I have been so taken up with the late good news from Holland, and expectation of further particulars, as well as with other transactions, of which I will tell you more tomorrow morning, that I have not slept a wink these three nights.
“I have reason to believe, that Picardy will soon follow the example of Artois, in case the enemy continue in their present resolution of flying away from us. I think I told
last time we were together my opinion about the Deulle.
“The honest gentlemen upon the bench bid me tell you, they would be glad to see you often among them. We shall be there all the warm hours of the day during the present posture of affairs.
“This happy opening of the campaign will, I hope, give us a very joyful summer; and I propose to take many a pleasant walk with
you will sometimes come into the Park; for that is the only place in which I can be free from the malice of my enemies. Farewell till three-a-clock to-morrow morning.
Your most humble servant,” &c. “P. S. The king of Sweden is still at Bender.” I should have fretted myself to death at this promise of a second visit, if I had not found in his letter an intimation of the good news which I have since heard at large. I have, however, ordered my maid to tie up the knocker of my door, in such a manner as she would do if I was really indisposed. By which means I hope to escape breaking my morning's rest.
“ I am
No. 161. THURSDAY, APRIL 20, 1710.
- Nunquam libertas gratior exstat Quam sub rege pio.
From my own Apartment, April 19. I was walking two or three days ago in a very pleasing retirement, and amusing myself with the reading of that ancient and beautiful allegory, called “ The table of Cebes." 2 I was at last so tired with my walk, that I sat down to rest myself upon a bench that stood in the midst of an agreeable shade. I'he music of the birds that filled all the trees about me, lulled me asleep before I was aware of it; which 3 was followed by a dream, that I impute in some measure to the foregoing author, who had made an impression upon my imagination, and put me into his own way of thinking.
I fancied myself among the Alps, and, as it is natural in a dream, seemed every moment to bound from one summit to another, till at last, after having made this airy progress over the tops of several mountains, I arrived at the very centre of those broken rocks and precipices. I here, methought, saw a prodigious circuit of ħills, that reached above the clouds, and encompassed a large space of ground, which I had a great curiosity to look into. I thereupon continued my former way of travelling through a great variety of winter scenes, till I had gained the top of these white mountains, which seemned another Alps of snow. I looked down from hence into a spacious plain, which was surrounded on all sides by this mound of hills, and which presented me with the most agreeable prospect 1 had ever seen. There was a greater variety of colours in the embroidery of the meadows, a more lively green in the leaves and grass, a brighter crystal in the streams, than what I ever met with in any other region. The light itself had something more 1 Better expunge—“the reading of.”
The table of Cebes.] A fine moral allegory, but of a character wholly different from that which follows. This picturesque and sublime dream had been more naturally introduced, if the author of it had fallen asleep over a canto of Spenser.
3 Which.] What ? “ The being lulled asleep," carelessly expressed.
• The Alps.] The scenery of this vision, taken from Switzerland.See the author's travels.
shining and glorious in it than that of which the day is made in other places. I was wonderfully astonished at the discovery of such a Paradise amidst the wildness of those cold hoary landscapes which lay about it; but found at length, that this happy region was inhabited by “ the goddess of Liberty; whose
presence softened the rigours of the climate, enriched the barrenness of the soil, and more than supplied the absence of the sun. The place was covered with a wonderful profusion of flowers, that without being disposed into regular borders and parterres, grew promiscuously, and had a greater beauty in their natural luxuriancy and disorder, than they could have received from the checks and restraints of art. There was a river that arose out of the south side of the mountain, that, by an infinite number of turns and windings, seemed to visit every plant, and cherish the several beauties of the pri with which the fields abounded. After having run to and fro in a wonderful variety of meanders, it at last throws itself into the hollow of a mountain, from whence it passes under a long range of rocks, and at length rises in that part of the Alps where the inhabitants think it the first source of the Rhone. This river, after having made its progress through those free nations, stagnates in a huge lake at the leaving of them, and no sooner enters into the regions of slavery, but runs through them with an incredible rapidity, and takes its shortest way to the sea.
I descended into the happy fields that lay beneath me, and in the midst of them beheld the goddess sitting upon a throne. She had nothing to enclose her but the bounds of her own dominions, and nothing over her head but the heavens. Every glance of her eye cast a track of light where it fell, that revived the spring, and made all things smile about her. My heart grew cheerful at the sight of her, and as she looked upon me, I found a certain confidence growing in me, and such an inward resolution as I never felt before that time.
On the left hand of the goddess sat the Genius of a Commonwealth, with the cap of liberty on her head, and in her hand a wand, like that with whicha Roman citizen used to give his slaves their freedom. There was something mean and vulgar, but at the same time exceeding bold and daring in her air; her eyes were full of fire, but had in them such