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can; for though a country life is described as the most pleasant of all others, and though it may in truth be so, yet it is so only to those who know how to enjoy leisure and retirement.
As for those who can't live without the constant helps of business or company, let them consider that in the country there is no Exchange, there are no playhouses, no variety of coffee-houses, nor many of those other amusements, which serve here as so many reliefs from the repeated occurrences in their own families ; but that there the greatest part of their time must be spent within themselves, and quently it behoves them to consider how agreeable it will be to them before they leave this dear town.
• I remember, Mr. Spectator, we were very well entertained, last year, with the advices you gave us from Sir Roger's country seat'; which I the rather mention, because it is almost impossible not to live pleasantly, where the master of the family is such a one as you there describe your friend, who cannot therefore (I mean as to his domestic character) be too often recommended to the imitation of others. How amiable is that affability and benevolence with which he treats his neighbours, and every one, even the meanest of his own family! and yet how seldom imitated ! Instead of which we coinmonly meet with ill-natured expostulations, noise, and chidingsAnd this I hinted, because the humour and disposition of the head is what chiefly influences all the other parts of a family.
• An agreement and kind correspondence between friends and acquaintance is the greatest pleasure of life. This is an undoubted truth; and yet any man who judges from the practice of the world will be
i See N° 107.
almost persuaded to believe the contrary; for how can we suppose people should be so industrious to make themselves uneasy? What can engage them to entertain and foment jealousies of one another upon every the least occasion? Yet so it is, there are people who (as it should seem) delight in being troublesome and vexatious, who (as Tully speaks) mirá sunt alacritate ad litigandum,“ have a certain cheerfulness in wrangling.” And thus it happens, that there are very few families in which there are not feuds and animosities, though it is every one's interest, there more particularly, to avoid them, because there (as I would willingly hope) no one gives another uneasiness, without feeling some share of it. But I am gone beyond what I designed, and had almost forgot what I chiefly proposed; which was, barely to tell you how hardly we, who pass most of our time in town, dispense with a long vacation in the country, how uneasy we grow to ourselves, and to one another, when our conversation is confined ; insomuch that, by Michaelmas, it is odds but we come to downright squabbling, and make as free with one another to our faces, as we do with the rest of the world behind their backs. After I have told you this, I am to desire that you would now and then give us a lesson of good-humour, a family-piece, which, since we are all very fond of you, I hope may have some influence upon us.
• After these plain observations, give me leave to give you an hint of what a set of company of my acquaintance, who are now gone into the country, and have the use of an absent nobleman's seat, have settled among themselves, to avoid the inconveniences above mentioned. They are a collection of ten or twelve, of the same good inclination towards each other, but of very different talents and inclinations ;
from hence they hope, that the variety of their tempers will only create variety of pleasures. But as there always will arise, among the same people, either for want of diversity of objects, or the like causes, a certain satiety, which may grow into ill-humour or discontent, there is a large wing of the house which they design to employ in the nature of an infirmary. Whoever says a peevish thing, or acts any thing which betrays a sourness or indisposition to company, is immediately to be conveyed to his chambers in the infirmary; from whence he is not to be relieved, till by his manner of submission, and the sentiments expressed in his petition for that purpose, he appears to the majority of the company to be again fit for society. You are to understand, that all ill-natured words or uneasy gestures are sufficient cause for banishment; speaking impatiently to servants, making a man repeat what he says, or any thing that betrays inattention or dishumour, are also criminal without reprieve. But it is provided, that whoever observes the ill-natured fit coming upon himself, and voluntarily retires, shall be received at his return from the infirmary with the highest marks of esteem. By these and other wholesome methods, it is expected that, if they cannot cure one another, yet at least they have taken care that the ill-humour of one shall not be troublesome to the rest of the company. There are many other rules which the society have established, for the preservation of their ease and tranquillity, the effects of which, with the incidents that arise among them, shall be cominunicated to you from time to time, for the public good, by,
N° 425. TUESDAY, JULY 8, 1712.
Frigora mitescunt zephyris; ver proterit æstas
HOR. Od. vii. 1. 4. ver. 9.
But yields to autumn's fruitful rain,
SIR W. TEMPLE.
MR. SPECTATOR, • There is hardly any thing gives me a more sensible delight, than the enjoyment of a cool still evening after the uneasiness of a hot sultry day. Such a one I passed not long ago, which made me rejoice, when the hour was come for the sun to set, that I might enjoy the freshness of the evening in my garden, which then affords me the pleasantest hours I pass in the whole four-and-twenty. I immediately rose from my couch, and went down into it. You descend at first by twelve stone steps into a large square divided into four grass-plots, in each of which is a statue of white marble. This is separated from a large parterre by a low wall; and from thence, through a pair of iron gates, you are led into a long broad walk of the finest turf, set on each side with tall yews, and on either hand bordered by a canal, which on the right divides the walk from a wilderness parted into variety of alleys and arbours, and on the left form a kind of amphitheatre, which is the receptacle of a
great number of oranges and myrtles. The moon shone bright, and seemed then most agreeably to supply the place of the sun, obliging me with as much light as was necessary to discover a thousand pleasing objects, and at the same time divested of all power of heat. The reflexion of it in the water, the fanning of the wind rustling on the leaves, the singing of the thrush and nightingale, and the coolness of the walks, all conspired to make me lay aside all displeasing thoughts, and brought me into such a tranquillity of mind, as is, I believe, the next happiness to that of hereafter. In this sweet retirement I naturally fell into the repetition of some lines out of a poem of Milton's, which he entitles Il Penseroso, the ideas of which were exquisitely suited to my present wanderings of thought:
“ Sweet bird! that shun'st the noise of folly,
“ Then let some strange mysterious dream