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his wife, died a few months after her, not being able to survive the loss of her.!
I must confess, there is something in the changeableness and inconstancy of human nature, that very often both dejects and terrifies me. Whatever
I am at present, I tremble to think what I may be. While I find this principle in me, how can I assure myself, that I shall be always true to my God, my friend, or myself? in short, without constancy there is neither love, friendship, or virtue in the world.
No. 216. SATURDAY, AUGUST 26, 1710.
-Nugis addere pondus.
From my own Apartment, August 25. NATURE is full of wonders; every atom is a standing miracle, and endowed with such qualities, as could not be impressed on it by a power and wisdom less than infinite. For this reason, I would not discourage any searches that are made into the most minute and trivial parts of the creation. However, since the world abounds in the noblest fields of speculation, it is, methinks, the mark of a little genius to be wholly conversant among insects, reptiles, animalcules, and those trifling rarities that furnish out the apartment of a virtuoso.
There are some men whose heads are so oddly turned this way, that though they are utter strangers to the common occurrences of life, they are able to discover the sex of a cockle, or describe the generation of a mite, in all its circumstances. They are so little versed in the world, that they scarce know a horse from an ox; but at the same time will tell you, with a great deal of gravity, that a flea is a rhinoceros, and a snail an hermaphrodite. I have known one of these whimsical philosophers who has set a greater value upon a collection of spiders than he would upon a flock of sheep, and has sold his coat off his back to purchase a tarantula.
I would not have a scholar wholly unacquainted with these secrets and curiosities of nature; but certainly the mind of 1 The rhythm of this sentence hurt by the repetition of “her”_" after
-“ loss of her.”
man, that is capable of so much higher contemplations, should not be altogether fixed upon such mean and disproportioned objects. Observations of this kind are apt to alienate us too much from the knowledge of the world, and to make us serious upon trifles, by which means they expose philosophy to the ridicule of the witty, and the contempt of the ignorant. In short, studies of this nature should be the diversions, relaxations, and amusements, not the care, business, and concern of life.
It is indeed wonderful to consider, that there should be a sort of learned men who are wholly employed in gathering together the refuse of nature, if I may call it so, and hoarding up in their chests and cabinets such creatures as others industriously avoid the sight of. One does not know how to mention some of the most precious parts of their treasure, without a kind of an apology for it. I have been shown a beetle valued at twenty crowns, and a toad at an hundred : but we must take this for a general rule, that whatever appears trivial or obscene in the common notions of the world, looks grave and philosophical in the eye of a virtuoso.
To show this humour in its perfection, I shall present my reader with the legacy of a certain virtuoso, who laid out a considerable estate in natural rarities and curiosities, which upon his death-bed he bequeathed to his relations and friends in the following words:
THE WILL OF A VIRTUOSO.
I, NICHOLAS GIMCRACK, being in sound health of mind, but in great weakness of body, do by this my last will and testament bestow my worldly goods and chattels in manner following: Imprimis, To my dear wife,
One box of butterflies,
A dried cockatrice.
My receipt for preserving dead caterpillars. As also my preparations of winter May-dew, and embryo pickle.
Item, To my little daughter Fanny,
Three crocodile's eggs. And
upon the birth of her first child, if she marries with her mother's consent,
The nest of an humming-bird. Item, To my eldest brother, as an acknowledgment for the lands he has vested in my son Charles, I bequeath
My last year's collection of grasshoppers. Item, To his daughter Susannah, being his only child, I bequeath my
English weeds pasted on royal paper,
With my large folio of Indian cabbage. Item, To my learned and worthy friend Dr. Johannes Elscrickius, professor in anatomy, and my associate in the studies of nature, as an eternal monument of
affection and friendship for him, I bequeath
My rat's testicles, and
Whale's pizzle, to him and his issue male; and in default of such issue in the said Dr. Elscrickius, then to return to my executor and his heirs for ever.
Having fully provided for my nephew Isaac, by making over to him some years since
A horned scarabæus,
The mummy of an Egyptian king,
will. My eldest son, John, having spoken disrespectfully of his little sister whom I keep by me in spirits of wine, and in many other instances behaved himself undutifully towards me, I do disinherit, and wholly cut off from any part of this my personal estate, by giving him a single cockle-shell.
To my second son, Charles, I give and bequeath all my flowers, plants, minerals, mosses, shells, pebbles, fossils, beetles, butterflies, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and vermin, not above specified: as also all my monsters, both wet and dry, making the said Charles whole and sole executor of this my last will and testament; he paying, or causing to be paid, the aforesaid legacies within the space of six months after my decease. And I do hereby revoke all other wills whatsoever by me formerly made.
ADVERTISEMENT. WHEREAS an ignorant upstart in astrology has publicly endeavoured to persuade the world, that he is the late John Partridge, who died the 28th of March, 1708 ; these are to certify all whom it may concern, that the true John Partridge was not only dead at that time, but continues so to this present day.
Beware of counterfeits, for such are abroad.
No. 218. THURSDAY, AUGUST 30, 1710.
Scriptorum Chorus omnis amat nemus et fugit urbes. Hor.
From my own Apartment, August 30. I CHANCED to rise very early one particular morning this summer, and took a walk into the country to divert myself among the fields and meadows, while the green was new, and the flowers in their bloom. As at this season of the year every lane is a beautiful walk, and every hedge full of nosegays, I lost myself with a great deal of pleasure among several thickets and bushes that were filled with a great variety of birds, and an agreeable confusion of notes, which formed 3 the pleasantest scene in the world to one who had passed a whole winter in noise and smoke. The freshness of the dews that lay upon everything about me, with the
Nosegay.] An oddly compounded word, if we take gay in the sense of fine or showy, expressing, together, the effect which flowers have on the sight and smell. But gay, in the primary sense of the word, is that which cheers, refreshes, or delights ; and derived, like gaudy, from “gaudere." In this view, the composition is more natural and proper. However, the word itself is now much out of use.
? Filled with—birds, and—notes.] We may say of a thicket, that it is filled with birds, or filled with the notes of birds, but not at the same time: because the word, filled, must then be taken in a different sense, as applied to each; in a literal sense, when connected with birds, and a metaphorical sense, as joined to the notes of birds : whence arises a degree of quaintness and confusion.
: Which formed.] That is, which birds and notes formed: but one does not see how birds and notes can be said to form a scene. In short, the whole sentence is heavy and inaccurate. But the author makes amends in what follows.
cool breath of the morning, which inspired the birds with so many delightful instincts, created in me the same kind of animal pleasure, and made my heart overflow with such secret emotions of joy and satisfaction as are not to be described or accounted for. On this occasion, I could not but reflect upon a beautiful simile in Milton:
“As one who long in populous city pent,
Or dairy, each rural sight, each rural sound." Those who are conversant in the writings of polite authors, receive an additional entertainment from the country, as it revives in their memories those charming descriptions with which such authors do frequently abound."
I was thinking of the foregoing beautiful simile in Milton, and applying it to myself, when I observed to the windward of me a black cloud falling to the earth in long trails of rain, which made me betake myself for shelter to a house which I saw at a little distance from the place where I was walking. As I sat in the porch, I heard the voices of two three
persons, who seemed very earnest in discourse. My curiosity was raised when I heard the names of Alexander the Great and Artaxerxes; and as their talk seemed to run on ancient heroes, I concluded there uld not be
secret in it; for which reason I thought I might very fairly listen to what they said.
After several parallels between great men, which appeared to me altogether groundless and chimerical, I was surprised to hear one say," That he valued the Black Prince more than the Duke of Vendosme.” How the Duke of Vendosme should become a rival of the Black Prince's, I could not conceive: and was more startled, when I heard a second affirm with great vehemence, " That if the Emperor of Germany was not going off, he should like him better than either of
! With which such authors do frequently abound.] One wonders to find the expletive“ do " inserted in this place. It was to prevent the close of this paragraph from running into a verse :
“With which such authors frequently abound.” He might have said, “which are frequent in such authors."