« AnteriorContinuar »
When I see my little troop before me, I rejoice in the additions which I have made to my species, to my country, and to my religion, in having produced such a number of reasonable creatures, citizens, and christians. I am pleased to see myself thus perpetuated, and as there is no production comparable to that of a -human creature, I am more proud of having been the occasion of ten such glorious productions, than if I had built a hundred pyramids at my own expense, or published as many volumes of the finest wit and learning. In what a beautiful light has the holy scripture, represented Abdon, one of the judges of Israel, who had forty sons and thirty grandsons, that rode on three score and ten ass-colts, according to the magnificence of the eastern countries. How must the heart of the old man rejoice, when he saw such a beautiful procession of his own descendants, such a numerous cavalcade of his own raising! For my own part, I can sit in my parlour with great content, when I take a review of half a dozen of my little boys mounting upon hobby-horses, and of as many little girls tutoring their babies, each of them endeavouring to excel the rest, and to do something that may gain my favour and approbation. I can not question but he who has blessed me with so many children, will assist in my endeavours in providing for them. There is one thing I am able to give each of them, which is a virtuous education. I think it is Sir-Francis Bacon's observation, that in a numerous family of children, the eldest is often spoiled by the prospect of an estate, and the youngest by being the darling of the parents; but that some one or other in the middle, who has not perhaps been regarded, has made his way in the world, and overtopped the rest. It is my business to implant in every one of my children the same seeds of industry, and the same honest principles. By this means I think I have a fair chance, that one or other of them may grow considerable in some or other way of life, whether it be in the army or in the fleet, in trade, or any of the three learned professions; for you must know, sir, that from long experience and observation, I am persuaded of what seems a paradox to most of those with whom I converse, namely, that a man who has many children, and gives them a good education, is more likely to raise a family than he who has but one, notwithstanding he leaves him his whole estate. For this reason I can not forbear amusing myself with finding out a general, an admiral, or an alderman of London, a divine, a physician, or a lawyer, among my little people who are now perhaps in petticoats; and when I see the motherly airs of my little daughters when they are playing with their puppets, I can not būt flatter myself that their husbands and children will be happy in the possession of such wives and mothers.'
.. If you are a father, you will not perhaps think this letter impertinent: but if you are a single man, you will not know the meaning of it, and probably throw it into the fire; whatever you determine of it, you may assure yourself that it comes from one who is your most humble servant and well-wisher,
in ; (PHILOGAMUS.' STEELE. -" ' ,. . ,
No. 501. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 4.
Durum: sed levius fit patientia . .
. As some of the finest compositions among the ancients are in allegory; I have endeavoured, in several of my pápers, to revive that way of writing, and hope I have not been altogether unsuccessful in it; for I find there is always a great demand for those particular papers, and can not but observe that several authors have endeavoured of late to excel in works of this nature. Among these, I do not know any one who has succeeded better than a very ingenious gentleman to whom I am obliged for the following piece, and who was the author of the vision in the 460th paper.
"How are we tortured with the absence of what we covet to possess, when it appears to be lost to us? What excursions does the soul make in imagination after it! And how does it turn into itself again, more foolishly fond and dejected, at the disappointment! Our grief, instead of having recourse to reason, which might restrain it. searches to find a further nourishment. It calls upon memory to relate the several passages and circumstances of satisfaction which we formerly enjoyed; the pleasures we purchased by those riches that are taken from us; or the power and splendour of our departed honours; or the voice,
the words, the looks, the temper, and affections of our friends that are deceased. It needs must happen from thence, that the passion should often swell to such a size as to burst the heart which contains it, if time did not make these circumstances less strong and lively, so that reason should become a more equal match for the passion, or if another desire which becomes more present did not overpower them with a livelier representation. These are thoughts which I had when I- fell into a kind of vision upon this subject, and may therefore stand for a proper introduction to a relation of it.
I found myself upon a naked shore, with company, whose afflicted countenances' witnessed their conditions. Before us flowed a water, deep, silent, and called the river of Tears, which issuing from two fountains on an upper ground encompassed an island that lay before us. The boat which plied in it was old and shattered, having been sometimes overset by the impatience and haste of single passengers to arrive at the other side. This immediately was brought to us by Misfortune who steers it; and we were all preparing to take our places, when there appeared a woman of a mild and composed behaviour who began to deter us from it, by representing the dangers which would attend our voyage. Hereupon some who knew her for patience, and some of those too who till then cried the loudest, were persuaded by her and returned back. The rest of us went in, and she (whose good nature would not suffer her to forsake persons in trouble) desired leave to accompany us, that she might at last administer some small comfort or advice
while we sailed. We were no sooner embarked but the boat was pushed off, the sheet was spread, and being filled with sighs, which are the winds of that country, we made a passage to the farther bank, through several difficulties of which the - most of us seemed utterly regardless.
When we landed, we perceived the island to be strangely overcast with fogs, which no brightness could pierce, so that a kind of gloomy horror sat always brooding over it. This had something in it very shocking to easy tempers, insomuch that some others, whom Patience had by this time, gained over, left us, here, and privily conveyed themselves round the verge of the island to find a ford by which she told them they might escape. "
For my part, I still went along with those who were for piercing into the centre of the place, and joining ourselves to others whom we found upon the same journey, we marched solemnly, as at a funeral, through bordering hedges of rosemary, and through a grove of yew-trees, which love to overshadow tombs, and flourish in church yards. · Here we heard on every side the wailings and complaints of several of the inhabitants, who had cast themselves disconsolately at the feet of trees; and as we chanced to approach any one of these, we might perceive them wringing their hands, beating their breasts, tearing their hair, or after some other manner visibly agitated with vexation. Our sorrows were height. ened by the influence of what we heard and saw, and one of our number was wrought up to such a pitch of wildness, as to talk of hanging himself upon a bough which shot-temptingly across the