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No. 599. MONDAY, SEPT. 27, 1714.
VIRG. Æn. ii. 369.
It has been my custom, as I grow old, to allow myself in some little indulgences, which I never took in my youth. Among others is that of an afternoon's nap, which I fell into in the fifty-fifth year of my age, and have continued for the three last years past. By this means I enjoy a double morning, and rise twice a day fresh to my speculations. It happens very luckily for me, that some of my dreams have proved instructive to my countrymen, so that I may be said to sleep, as well as to wake, for the good of the public. I was yesterday meditating on the account with which I have already entertained my readers concerning the cave of Trophonius. I was no sooner fallen into my usual slumber, but I dreamed that this cave was put into my possession, and that I gave public notice of its virtue, inviting every one to it who had a mind to be a serious man for the remaining part of his life. Great multitudes immediately resorted to me. The first who made the experiment was a merry-andrew, who was put into my hands by a neighbouring justice of peace, in order to reclaim him from that profligate kind of life. Poor Pickle-herring had not taken above one turn in it, when he came out of the cave, like a hermit from his cell, with a penitential look and a most rueful countenance, I then put in a young laughing fop, and, watching for his return, asked him, with a smile, how he liked the place? He replied, * Pr’ythee, friend, be not impertinent;' and stalked by me as grave as a judge. A citizen then desired me to give free ingress and egress to his wife, who was dressed in the gayest-coloured ribands I had ever seen. She went in with a flirt of her fan, and a smirking countenance, but came out with the severity of a vestal; and throwing from her several female gewgaws, told me with a sigh, that she resolved to go into deep mourning, and to wear black all the rest of her life. As I had many coquettes recommended to me by their parents, their husbands, and their lovers, I let them in all at once, desiring them to divert themselves together as well as they could. Upon their emerging again into day-light, you would have fancied my cave to have been a nunnery, and that you had seen a solemn procession of religious marching out, one behind another, in the most profound silence and the most exemplary decency. As I was very much delighted with so edifying a sight, there came towards me a great company of males and females, laughing, singing, and dancing, in such a manner, that I could hear them a great while before I saw them. Upon my asking their leader what brought them thither? they told me all at once that they were French protestants lately arrived in Great Britain, and that, finding themselves of too gay a humour for my country, they applied themselves to me in order to compose them for British conversation. I told them that, to oblige them, I would soon spoil their mirth; upon which I admitted a whole shoal of them, who, after having taken a survey of the plaçe, came out in very good order, and with looks entirely English. I afterwards put in a Dutchman, who had a great fancy to see the kelder, as he called it; but I could not observe that it had made any manner of alteration in him. ·
A comedian, who had gained great reputation in parts of humour, told me that he had a mighty inind to act Alexander the Great, and fancied that he should succeed very well in it, if he could strike two or three laughing features out of his face. He tried the experiment, but contracted so very solid a look by it, that I am afraid he will be fit for no part hereafter but a Timon of Athens, or a Mute in The Funeral.
I then clapped up an empty fantastic citizen, in order to qualify him for an alderman. He was succeeded by a young rake of the Middle Temple, who was brought to me by his grandmother; but, to her great sorrow and surprise, he came out a quaker. Seeing myself surrounded with a body of freethinkers and scoffers at religion, who were making themselves merry at the sober looks and thoughtful brows of those who had been in the cave, I thrust them all in, one after another, and locked the door upon them. Upon my opening it, they all looked as if they had been frightened out of their wits, and were marching away with ropes in their hands to a wood that was within sight of the place. I found they were not able to bear themselves in their first serious thoughts; but, knowing these would quickly bring them to a better frame of mind, I gave them into the custody of their friends until that happy change was wrought in them.
The last that was brought to me was a young woman, who at the first sight of my short face fell into an immoderate fit of laughter, and was forced to hold her sides all the while her mother was speaking to me. Upon this I interrupted the old lady, and, taking her daughter by the hand, • Madam,' said I, be pleased to retire into my closet while your mother tells me your case.' I then put her into the mouth of the cave; when the mother, after having begged pardon for the girl's rudeness, told me that she often treated her father and the gravest of her relations in the same manner; that she would sit giggling and laughing with her companions from one end of a tragedy to the other; nay, that she would sometimes burst out in the middle of a sermon, and set the whole congregation a staring at her. The mother was going on, when the young lady came out of the cave to us with a composed countenance and a low courtesy. She was a girl of such exuberant mirth that her visit to Trophonius only reduced her to a more than ordinary decency of behaviour, and made a very pretty prude of her. After having performed innumerable cures, I looked about me with great satisfaction, and saw all my patients walking by themselves, in a very pensive and musing posture, so that the whole place seemed covered with philosophers. I was at length resolved to go into the cave myself, and see what it was that had produced such wonderful effects upon the company; but as I was stooping at the entrance, the door being something low, I gave such a nod in my chair that I awaked. After having recovered myself from my first startle, I was very well pleased at the accident which had befallen me, as not knowing but a little stay in the place might have spoiled my Spectators.
No. 600. WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 29, 1714.
Solemque suum, sua sidera nórunt.
Virg. Æn. vi. 641.
Stars of their own, and their own suns they know.
I HAVE always taken a particular pleasure in examining the opinions which men of different religions, different ages, and different countries, have entertained concerning the immortality of the soul, and the state of happiness which they promise themselves in another world. For whatever prejudices and errors human nature lies under, we find that either reason, or tradition from our first parents, has discovered to all people something in these great points which bears analogy to truth, and to the doctrines opened to us by divine revelation. I was lately discoursing on this subject with a learned person who has been very much conversant among the inhabitants of the more western parts of Africa *. Upon his conversing with several in that country, he tells me that their notion of heaven or of a future, state of happiness is this, that every thing we there wish for will immediately present itself to us. We find, say they, our souls are of such a nature that they require variety, and are not capable of being always delighted with the same objects. The Su.
• The person alluded to here was probably dean Lancelot Addison, diutinis per Europam Africamque peregrinationibus, rerum peritiâ spectabilis.' This amiable clergyman, the father of the author of this paper, published An Account of West Barbary, &c.