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No. 120. SATURDAY, JANUARY 14, 1709.
Velut silvis, ubi passim
Sheer Lane, January 13. INSTEAD of considering any particular passion or character in any one set of men, my thoughts were last night employed on the contemplation of human life in general, and truly it appears to me, that the whole species are hurried on by the same desires, and engaged in the same pursuits, according to the different stages and divisions of life. Youth is devoted to lust, middle age to ambition, old age to avarice. These are the three general motives and principles of action both in good and bad men; though it must be acknowledged that they change their names, and refine their natures, according to the temper of the person whom they direct and animate. For with the good, lust becomes virtuous love ; ambition, true honour; and avarice, the care of posterity. This scheme of thought amused me very agreeably till I retired to rest, and afterwards formed itself into a pleasing and regular vision,' which I shall describe in all its circumstances, as the objects presented themselves, whether in a serious or ridiculous manner.
I dreamed that I was in a wood, of so prodigious an extent, and cut into such a variety of walks and alleys, that all mankind were lost and bewildered in it. After having wandered up and down some time, I came into the centre of it, which
· Mr. Addison's serious papers on human life, have not, in general, the merit of his humorous. Even his style, on these occasions, (his genius not lying towards abstract or formal discourse,) hath a languor in it, which all the graces of his polished manner cannot conceal. But when he throws himself out in dreams and visions, the case is much otherwise. For his poetic invention supplies him with many apt resemblances; and his magic style (fired by the subject, and the writer's love of it) is then so bright and glowing, that Plato himself is but second to him in this province of moral allegory. His genius may be compared to the spirit in Milton's Mask. When clad in this earth-worn mould, I mean, in the hackneyed form of dissertation, one may take him for an ordinary swain or villager : but when he sports at ease, in his own element, and, as the poet says, “plays įth' plighted clouds," the reader is awe-struck, and easily recognises his divine original.
opened into a wide plain, filled with multitudes of both sexes. I here discovered three great roads, very wide and long, that led into three different parts of the forest. On a sudden, the whole multitude broke into three parts, according to their different ages, and marched in their respective bodies into the three great roads that lay before them. As I had a mind to know how each of these roads terminated, and whither it would lead those who passed through them, I joined myself with the assembly that were in the flower and vigour of their age, and called themselves “The Band of Lovers.” I found, to my great surprise, that several old men besides myself bad intruded into this agreeable company; as I had before observed, there were some young men who had united themselves to the band of misers, and were walking up the path of Avarice; though both made a very ridiculous figure, and were as much laughed at by those they joined as by those they forsook. The walk which we marched up, for thickness of shades, embroidery of flowers, and melody of birds, with the distant purling of streams, and falls of water, was so wonderfully delightful, that it charmed our senses, and intoxicated our minds with pleasure. We had not been long here, before every man singled out some woman to whom he offered his addresses, and professed himself a lover; when on a sudden we perceived this delicious walk to grow more narrow as we advanced in it, till it ended in many intricate thickets, mazes, and labyrinths, that were so mixed with roses and brambles, brakes of thorns and beds of flowers, rocky paths and pleasing grottoes, that it was hard to say, whether it gave greater delight or perplexity to those who travelled in it.
It was here that the lovers began to be eager in their pursuits. Some of their mistresses, who only seemed to retire for the sake of form and decency, led them into plantations that were disposed into regular walks; where, after they had wheeled about in some turns and windings, they suffered themselves to be overtaken, and gave their hands to those who pursued them. Others withdrew from their followers into little wildernesses, where there were so many paths interwoven with each other, in so much confusion and irregularity, that several of the lovers quitted the pursuit, or broke their hearts in the chase. It was sometimes very odd to see a man pursuing a fine woman that was following
another, whose eye was fixed upon a fourth, that had her own game in view in some other quarter of the wilderness. I could not but observe two things in this place which I thought very particular, that several persons who stood only at the end of the avenues, and cast a careless eye upon the nymphs during their whole flight, often catched them, when those who pressed them the most warmly through all their turns and doubles, were wholly unsuccessful: and that some of my own age, who were at first looked upon with aversion and contempt, by being well acquainted with the wilderness, and by dodging their women in the particular corners and alleys of it, catched them in their arms, and took them from those whom they really loved and admired. There was a particular grove, which was called “The Labyrinth of Coquettes ;" where many were enticed to the chase, but few returned with purchase. It was pleasant enough to see a celebrated beauty, by smiling upon one, casting a glance. upon another, beckoning to a third, and adapting her charms and graces to the several follies of those that admired her, drawing into the labyrinth a whole pack of lovers, that lost themselves in the maze, and never could find their way
out of it. However, it was some satisfaction to me, to see many of the fair ones, who had thus deluded their followers, and left them among the intricacies of the labyrinth, obliged, when they came out of it, to surrender to the first partner that offered himself. I now had crossed over all the difficult and perplexed passages that seemed to bound our walk, when on the other side of them, I saw the same great road running on a little
till was terminated by two beautiful temples. I stood here for some time, and saw most of the multitude who had been dispersed amongst the thickets, coming out two by two, and marching up in pairs towards the temples that stood before us. The structure on the right hand was (as I afterwards found) consecrated to Virtuous Love, and could not be entered but by such as received a ring, or some other token, from a person who was placed as a guard at the gate of it. He wore a garland of roses and myrtles on his head, and on his shoulders a robe like an imperial mantle, white and unspotted all over, excepting only, that where it was elasped at his breast, there were two golden turtle doves that buttoned it by their bills, which were wrought in rubies. He was called by the name of Hymen,
and was seated near the temple, in a delicious bower, made up
of several trees, that were embraced by woodbines, jessamines, and amaranths, which were as so many emblems of marriage, and ornaments to the trunks that supported them. As I was single and unaccompanied, I was not permitted to enter the temple, and for that reason am a stranger to all the mysteries that were performed in it. I had, however, the curiosity to observe how the several couples that entered were disposed of; which was after the following manner. There were two great gates on the back-side of the edifice, at which the whole crowd was let out. At one of these gates were two women, extremely beautiful, though in a different kind, the one having a very careful and composed air, the other a sort of smile and ineffable sweetness in her countenance. The name of the first was Discretion, and of the other Complacency. All who came out of this gate, and put themselves under the direction of these two sisters, were immediately conducted by them into gardens, groves, and meadows, which abounded in delights, and were furnished with everything that could make them the proper seats of happiness. The second gate of this temple let out all the couples that were unhappily married, who came out linked together by chains, which each of them strove to break, but could not. Several of these were such as had never been acquainted with each other, before they met in the great walk, or had been too well acquainted in the thicket. The entrance of this gate was possessed by three sisters, who joined themselves with these wretches, and occasioned most of their miseries. The youngest of the sisters was known by the name of Levity, who, with the innocence of a virgin, had the dress and behaviour of a harlot. The name of the second was Contention, who bore on her right arm a muff made of the skin of a porcupine ; and on her left carried a little lap-dog, that barked and snapped at every one that passed by her.
The eldest of the sisters, who seemed to have a haughty and imperious air, was always accompanied with a tawny Cupid, who generally marched before her with a little mace on his shoulder, the end of which was fashioned into the horns of a stag. Her garments were yellow, and her complexion pale. Her eyes were piercing, but had odd casts in them, and that particular distemper, which makes persons who are troubled with it, see objects double. Upon inquiry, I was informed that her name was Jealousy:
Having finished my observations upon this temple, and its votaries, I repaired to that which stood on the left hand, and
I was called “ The Temple of Lust.” The front of it was raised on Corinthian pillars, with all the meretricious ornaments that accompany that order; whereas that of the other was composed of the chaste and matron-like Ionic. The sides of it were adorned with several grotesque figures of goats, sparrows, heathen gods, satyrs, and monsters made up
of half man half beast. The gates were unguarded, and open to all that had a mind to enter. Upon my going in, I found the windows were blinded, and let in only a kind of twilight, that served to discover a prodigious number of dark corners and apartments, into which the whole temple was divided. I was here stunned with a mixed noise of clamour and jollity; on one side of me, I heard singing and dancing; on the other, brawls and clashing of swords. In short, I was so little pleased with the place, that I was going out of it; but found I could not return by the gate where I entered, which was barred against all that were come in, with bolts of iron and locks of adamant. There was no going back from this temple through the paths of pleasure which led to it: all who passed through the ceremonies of the place, went out at an iron wicket, which was kept by a dreadful giant called Remorse, that held a scourge of scorpions in his hand, and drove them into the only outlet from that temple. This was a passage so rugged, so uneven, and choked with so many thorns and briers, that it was a melancholy spectacle to behold the pains and difficulties which both sexes suffered who walked through it. The men, though in the prime of their youth, appeared weak and enfeebled with old age: the
: women wrung their hands, and tore their hair; and several lost their limbs before they could extricate themselves out of the perplexities of the path in which they were engaged. The remaining part of this vision, and the adventures I met with in the two great roads of Ambition and Avarice, must be the subject of another paper.
ADVERTISEMENT. I have this morning received the following letter from the famous Mr. Thomas Dogget.