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try and (after the close of their labours) honoured by posterity.”
We know, by the life of this honourable hero, to which of these two ladies he gave up his heart: and I believe, every one who reads this will do him the justice to approve his choice.
I very much admire the speeches of these ladies, as containing in them the chief arguments for a life of virtue, or a life of pleasure, that could enter into the thoughts of an heathen; but am particularly pleased with the different figures he gives the two goddeses. Our modern authors have represented Pleasure or Vice with an alluring face, but ending in snakes and monsters : here she appears in all the charms of beauty, though they are all false and borrowed : and by that means, composes a vision entirely natural and pleasing
I have translated this allegory for the benefit of the youth of Great Britain ; and particularly of those who are still in the deplorable state of non-existence, and whom I most earnestly entreat to come into the world. Let my embryos show the least inclination to any single virtue, and I shall allow it to be a struggling towards birth.
I do not expect of them, that, like the hero in the foregoing story, they should go about as soon as they are born, with a club in their hands, and a lion's skin on their shoulders, to root out monsters, and destroy tyrants ; but, as the finest author of all antiquity has said upon this very occasion, Though a man has not the abilities to distinguish himself in the most shining parts of a great character, he has certainly the capacity of being just, faithful, modest, and temperate.
No. 100. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 1709.
Jam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna. VIRG.
Sheer Lane, November 28. I was last week taking a solitary walk in the garden of Lincoln's Inn, (a favour that is indulged me by several of the benchers who are my intimate friends, and grown old
'This whole paper, on a subject which the author had much at heart, is well and accurately written.
with me in this neighbourhood,) when, according to the nature of men in years, who have made but little progress in the advancement of their fortune or their fame, I was repining at the sudden rise of many persons who are my juniors, and indeed at the unequal distribution of wealth, honour, and all other blessings of life. I was lost in this thought, when the night came upon me, and drew my
mind into a far more agreeable contemplation. The heaven above me appeared in all its glories, and presented me with such an hemisphere of stars, as made the most agreeable prospect imaginable to one who delights in the study of nature. It happened to be a freezing night, which had purified the whole body of air into such a bright, transparent æther, as made
every constellation visible; and at the same time gave such a particular glowing to the stars, that I thought it the richest sky I had ever seen.
I could not behold a scene so wonderfully adorned and lighted up, (if I may be allowed that expression,) without suitable meditations on the Author of such illustrious and amazing objects. For on these occasions, philosophy suggests motives to religion, and religion adds pleasures to philosophy,
As soon as I had recovered my usual temper and serenity of soul, I retired to my lodgings with the satisfaction of having passed away a few bours in the proper employments of a reasonable creature, and promising myself that my slumbers would be sweet. I no sooner fell into them, but I dreamed a dream, or saw a vision, (for I know not which to call it,) that seemed to rise out of my evening meditation, and had something in it so solemn and serious, that I cannot forbear communicating it ; though I must confess, the wildness of imagination (which in a dream is always loose and irregular) discovers itself too much in several parts of it.
Methought I saw the azure sky diversified with the same glorious luminaries which had entertained me a little before I fell asleep. I was looking very attentively on that sign in the heavens which is called by the name of the Balance, when on a sudden there appeared in it an extraordinary light, as if the sun should rise at midnight. By its increasing in breadth and lustre, I soon found that it approached towards the earth; and at length could discern something like a shadow hovering in the midst of a great glory, which in a little time after I distinctly perceived to be the figure of a woman. I
fancied at first it might have been the Angel or Intelligence that guided the constellation from which it descended; but upon a nearer view, I saw about her all the emblems with which the Goddess of Justice is usually described. Her countenance was unspeakably awful and majestic, but exquisitely beautiful to those whose eyes were strong enough to behold it; her smiles transported with rapture, her frowns terrified to despair. She held in her hand a mirror endowed with the same qualities as that which the painters put into the hand of Truth,
There streamed from it a light, which distinguished itself from all the splendours that surrounded her, more than a flash of lightning shines in the midst of day-light. As she moved it in her hand, it brightened the heavens, the air, or the earth. When she had descended so low as to be seen and heard by mortals, to make the pomp of her appearance
, more supportable, she threw darkness and clouds about her, that tempered the light into a thousand beautiful shades and colours, and multiplied that lustre, which was before too strong and dazzling, into a variety of milder glories.
In the mean time the world was in an alarm, and all the inhabitants of it gathered together upon a spacious plain ; so that I seemed to have all the species before my eyes. A voice was heard from the clouds, declaring the intention of this visit, which was to restore and appropriate to every one living what was his due. The fear and hope, joy and sorrow, which appeared in that great assembly after this solemn declaration, are not to be expressed. The first edict was then pronounced,“ That all titles and claims to riches and estates, or to any parts of them, should be immediately vested in the rightful owner." Upon this, the inhabitants of the earth held up the instruments of their tenure, whether in parchment, paper, wax, or any other form of conveyance; and as the goddess moved the mirror of truth which she held in her hand, so that the light which flowed from it fell
the multitude, they examined the several instruments by the beams of it. The rays of this mirror had a particular quality of setting fire to all forgery and falsehood. The blaze of papers, the melting of seals, and crackling of parchments, made a very
odd scene. The fire very often ran through two or three lines only, and then stopped; though I could . not but observe, that the flame chiefly broke out among the
interlineations and codicils. The light of the mirror, as it was turned up and down, pierced into all the dark corners and recesses of the universe, and by that means detected many writings and records which had been hidden or buried by time, chance, or design. This occasioned a wonderful revolution among the people. At the same time, the spoils of extortion, fraud, and robbery, with all the fruits of bribery and corruption, were thrown together into a prodigious pile, that almost reached to the clouds, and was called the Mount of Restitution ; to which all injured persons were invited, to receive what belonged to them.
One might see crowds of people in tattered garments come up, and change clothes with others that were dressed with lace and embroidery. Several who were plums, or very near it, became men of moderate fortunes ; and many others, who were overgrown in wealth and possessions, had no more left than what they usually spent. What moved my concern most was, to see a certain street of the greatest credit in Europe from one end to the other become bankrupt.
The next command was, for the whole body of mankind to separate themselves into their proper families : which was no sooner done, but an edict was issued out, requiring all children “to repair to their true and natural fathers.” This put a great part of the assembly in motion; for as the mirror was moved over them, it inspired every one with such a natural instinct, as directed them to their real parents. It was a very melancholy spectacle to see the fathers of very large families become vacant, and bachelors undone by a charge of sons and daughters. You might see a presumptive heir of a great estate ask blessing of his coachman, and a celebrated toast paying her duty to a valet de chambre. Many under vows of celibacy appeared surrounded with a numerous issue.
This change of parentage would have caused great lamentation, but that the calamity was pretty common ; and that generally those who lost their children, had the satisfaction of seeing them put into the hands of their dearest friends. Men were no sooner settled in their right to their possessions and their progeny, but there was a third order proclaimed, " That all the posts of dignity and honour in the universe should be conferred on persons of the greatest merit, abilities, and perfection.” The handsome, the strong, and the wealthy, immediately pressed for
ward; but not being able to bear the splendour of the mirror which played upon their faces, they immediately fell back among the crowd: but as the goddess tried the multitude by her glass, as the eagle does its young ones by the lustre of the sun, it was remarkable, that every one turned away his face from it, who had not distinguished himself either by virtue, knowledge, or capacity in business, either military or civil. This select assembly was drawn up in the centre of a prodigious multitude, which was diffused on all sides, and stood observing them, as idle people use to gather about a regiment that are exercising their arms. They were drawn up in three bodies : in the first, were the men of virtue ; in the second, men of knowledge ; and in the third, the men of business. It was impossible to look at the first column without a secret veneration, their aspects were so sweetened with humanity, raised with contemplation, emboldened with resolution, and adorned with the most agreeable airs, which are those that proceed from secret habits of virtue. I could not but take notice, that there were many faces among them which were unknown, not only to the multitude, but even to several of their own body.
In the second column, consisting of the men of knowledge, there had been great disputes before they fell into the ranks, which they did not do at last without positive command of the goddess who presided over the assembly. She had so ordered it, that men of the greatest genius and strongest sense were placed at the head of the column: behind these were such as had formed their minds very much on the thoughts and writings of others. In the rear of the column, were men who had more wit than sense, or more learning than understanding. All living authors of any value were ranged in one of these classes; but I must confess, I was very much surprised to see a great body of editors, critics, commentators, and grammarians, meet with so very ill a reception. They had formed themselves into a body, and with a great deal of arrogance demanded the first station in the column of knowledge; but the goddess, instead of complying with their request, clapped them all into liveries, and bid them know themselves for no other but lacqueys of the learned.
The third column were men of business, and consisting of persons in military and civil capacities. The former marched out from the rest, and placed themselves in the front,