Imagens das páginas

heart was filled with a deep melancholy to singing birds, falling waters, human voices, see several dropping unexpectedly in the and musical instruments. Gladness grew midst of mirth and jollity, and catching atin me upon the discovery of so delightful a every thing that stood by them to save scene. I wished for the wings of an eagle, themselves. Some were looking up towards that I might Ay away to those happy seats; the heavens in a thoughtful posture, and in but the genius told me there was no passage the midst of a speculation stumbled and fell to them except through the gates of death out of sight. Multitudes were very busy in that I saw opening every moment upon the the pursuit of bubbles that glittered in their bridge. “The islands,” said he, “ that lie eyes and danced before them; but often so fresh and green before thee, and with when they thought themselves within the which the whole face of the ocean appears reach of them, their footing failed and down spotted as far as thou canst see, are more they sunk. In this confusion of objects, I in number than the sands on the sea-shore; observed some with scimitars in their hands, there are myriads of islands behind those and others with urinals, who ran to and fro which thou here discoverest, reaching farupon the bridge, thrusting several persons ther than thine eye, or even thine imaon trap-doors which did not seem to lie gination can extend itself. These are the in their way, and which they might have mansions of good men after death, who acescaped had they not been thus forced upon cording to the degree and kinds of virtue in them.

which they excelled, are distributed among The genius seeing me indulge myself on these several islands, which abound with this melancholy prospect, told me I had pleasures of different kinds and degrees, dwelt long enough upon it. " Take thine suitable to the relishes and perfections of eves off the bridge,” said he, “and tell me those who are settled in them; every island if thou yet seest any thing thou dost not is a Paradise accommodated to its respeccomprehend." Upon looking up, “What tive inhabitants. Are not these, O Mirza, mean," said I, “those great flights of birds habitations worth contending for? Does life that are perpetually hovering about the appear miserable, that gives thee opportubridge, and settling upon it from time to nities of earning such a reward? Is death time? I see vultures, harpies, ravens, cor- to be feared, that will convey thee to so morants, and among many other feathered happy an existence? Think not man was creatures several little winged boys, that made in vain who has such an eternity reperch in great numbers upon the middle served for him.” I gazed with inexpressiarches.”—“These,” said the genius, “are ble pleasure on these happy islands. At Envy, Avarice, Superstition, Despair, Love, length, said I, “Show me now, I beseech with the like cares and passions that infest thee, the secrets that lie hid under those human life.”

dark clouds which cover the ocean on the I here fetched a deep sigh. “Alas,” other side of the rock of adamant.” The said I, “man was made in vain! how is he genius making me no answer, I turned me giren away to misery and mortality! tor- about to address myself to him a second tured in life, and swallowed up in death!” time, but found that he had left me; I then The genius being moved with compassion turned again to the vision which I had been towards me, bid me quit so uncomfortable so long contemplating: but, instead of the a prospect. “Look no more,” said he, rolling tide, the arched bridge, and the "on man in the first stage of his existence, happy islands, I saw nothing but the long, in his setting out for eternity; but cast thine hollow valley of Bagdat, with oxen, sheep, ere on that thick mist into which the tide and camels, grazing upon the sides of it, bears the several generations of mortals The end of the First Vision of Mirza, that fall into it.” I directed my sight as I was ordered, and (whether or no the good genius strengthened it with any supernatural force, or dissipated part of the mist

No. 160.] Monday, September 3, 1711. that was before too thick for the eye to penetrate,) I saw the valley opening at the

Cui mens divinior, atque os farther end, and spreading forth into an

Magna sonaturum, des nominis hujus honorem.

Hor. Lib. 1. Sat. iv. 43. immense ocean, that had a huge rock of adamant running through the midst of it,

On him confer the Poet's sacred name, and dividing it into two equal parts.

Whose lofty voice declares the heav'nly flame.

The clouds still rested on one half of it, insomuch THERE is no character more frequently that I could discover nothing in it: but the given to a writer, than that of being a ge other appeared to me a vast ocean planted nius. I have heard many a little sonneteer with innumerable islands, that were covered called a fine genius. There is not an heroic with fruits and flowers, and interwoven with scribbler in the nation, that has not his ada thousand little shining seas that ran among mirers who think him a great genius; and them. I could see persons dressed in glo- as for your smatterers in tragedy, there is rious habits with garlands upon their heads, scarce a man among them who is not cried passing among the trees, lying down by the up by one or other for a prodigious genius, sides of fountains, or resting on beds of flow- My design in this paper is to consider ers; and could hear a confused harmony of I what is properly a great genius, and to

throw some thoughts together on so un- exactness in our compositions. Our councommun a subject.

tryman Shakspeare was a remarkable inAmong great geniuses those few draw stance of this first kind of great geniuses. the admiration of all the world upon them, I cannot quit this head without observing and stand up as the prodigies of mankind, that Pindar was a great genius of the first who by the mere strength of natural parts, class, who was hurried on by a natural fire and without any assistance of art or learn- and impetuosity to vast conceptions of ing, have produced works that were the things and noble salljes of imagination. At delight of their own times, and the wonder the same time, can any thing be more ridiof posterity. There appears something culous than for men of a sober and modenobly wild and extravagant in these great rate fancy to imitate this poet's way of natural geniuses that is infinitely more writing in those monstrous compositions beautiful than all the turn and polishing which go among us under the name of Pin of what the French call a bel espirit, by darics? When I see people copying works, which they would express a genius refined which, as Horace has represented them, by conversation, reflection, and the reading are singular in their kind, and inimitable: of the most polite authors. The greatest when I see men following irregularities by genius which runs through the arts and sci-| rule, and by the little tricks of art straining ences, takes a kind of tincture from them, after the most unbounded fights of nature, and falls unavoidably into imitation. I cannot but apply to them that passage in

Many of these great natural geniuses that Terence: were never disciplined and broken by rules

Incerta bac si tu postules of art, are to be found among the ancients,

Ratione certa facere, nihilo plug agas,

Quam si des operam, ut cum ratione insanias. and in particular among those of the more

Eun. Act 1. Sc. 1. eastern parts of the world. Homer has in-| You may as well pretend to be mad and in your numerable flights that Virgil was not able senses at the same time, as to think of reducing these to reach, and in the Old Testament we find

uncertain things to any certainty by reason. several passages more elevated and sublime

In short, a modern Pindaric writer comthan any in Homer. At the same time that pared with Pindar, is like a sister among we allow a greater and more daring genius the Camisars* compared with Virgil's to the ancients, we must own that the

| Sibyl: there is the distortion, grimace, and greatest of them very much failed in, or, |

outward figure, but nothing of that divine if you will, that they were much above the

the impulse which raises the mind above itself, nicety and correctness of the moderns. In ang ma

moderns. In / and makes the sounds more than human. their similitudes and allusions, provided

There is another kind of great geniuses there was a likeness, they did not much

| which I shall place in a second class, not as trouble themselves about the decency of

cv of | I think them inferior to the first, but only the comparison: thus Solomon resembles

for distinction's sake, as they are of a difthe nose of his beloved to the tower of Le-| ferent kind. This second class of great banon which looketh towards Damascus;

geniuses are those that have formed themas the coming of a thief in the night, is a

selves by rules, and submitted the greatness similitude of the same kind in the New

of their natural talents to the corrections Testament. It would be endless to make

and restraints of art. Such among the collections of this nature; Homer illustrates

Greeks were Plato and Aristotle; among one of his heroes encompassed with the

the Romans Virgil and Tully; among the enemy, by an ass in a field of corn that has

English Milton and Sir Francis Bacon. his sides belaboured by all the boys of thel * A particular account of these people and the strange

fortune of their leader, is to be found in Voltaire's "Sieanother of them tossing to and fro in his

cle de Louis XIV." A few of them made their appear.

ance in this country, in the year 1707, of whom Smollet bed and burning with resentment, to a piece gives the following account: of flesh broiled on the coals. This particu "Three Camisars, or protestants, from the Cevennois, lar failure in the ancients, opens a large

having made their escape, and repaired to London, ac

quired about this time the appellation of French profield of raillery to the little wits, who can phets, from

phets, from their enthusiastic gesticulations, effusions, laugh at an indecency, but not relish the and convulsions; and even formed a sect of their counsublime in these sorts of writings. The

trymen. The French refugees, scandalized at their be

haviour, and authorized by the bishop of London, as present emperor of Persia, conformable to

superior of the French congregations, resolved to in. this eastern way of thinking, amidst a great quire into the mission of these pretended prophets, many pompous titles, denominates himself |

whose names were Elias Marion, John Cavalier, and

Durand Eage. They were declared impostors and coun. .the sun of glory,' and 'the nutmeg of de

terfeits. Notwithstanding this decision, which was light.' In short, to cut off all cavilling confirmed by tbe bishops, they continued their assem. against the ancients, and particularly those blies in Soho, under the countenance of Sir Richard

Bulkeley and John Lacy. They reviled the ministers of the warmer climates, who had most heat

of the established church: they denounced judgments and life in their imagination, we are to con- against the city of London, and the whole British na. side

tion; and published their predictions composed of unin. French call the bienscance in an allusion,

telligible jargon. Then they were prosecuted at the

expense of the French churches, as disturbers of the has been found out of later years, and in public peace and false prophets. They were sentencei the colder regions of the world: where we to pay a tine of twenty marks each, and stand twice on

a scaffold, with papers on their breasts, denoting their would make some amends for our want of

offence: a sentence which was executed accordingly a. force and spirit, by a scrupulous nicety and Charing Cross and the Royal Exchange."


The genius in both these classes of authors | correspondents, one of whom sends me the may be equally great, but shows itself after following letter: a different manner. In the first it is like a

"SIR,Though you are pleased to re

os rich soil in a happy climate, that produces and

tire from us so soon into the city, I hope a whole wilderness of noble plants rising in

you will not think the affairs of the couna thousand beautiful landscapes, without

| try altogether unworthy of your inspecany certain order or regularity. In the

tion for the future. I had the honour of other it is the same rich soil under the

seeing your short face at Sir Roger de Cosame happy climate, that has been laid out

verley's, and have ever since thought your in walks and parterres, and cut into shape

person and writings both extraordinary. and beauty by the skill of the gardener. The great danger in these latter kind of

Had you staid there a few days longer, you geniuses, is lest they cramp their own abili

would have seen a country wake, which

you know in most parts of England is the ties too much by imitation, and form themselves altogether upon models, without giv

eve-feast of the dedication of our churches,

I was last week at one of these assemblies, ing the full play to their own natural parts.

which was held in a neighbouring parish; An imitation of the best authors is not to

where I found their green covered with a compare with a good original; and I believe we may observe that very few writers make

promiscuous multitude of all ages and both an extraordinary figure in the world, who

sexes, who esteem one another more or have not something in their way of think

less the following part of the year, according or expressing themselves, that is pecu

ing as they distinguish themselves at this liar to them, and entirely their own.

4 time. The whole company were in their It is odd to consider what great geniuses;

holiday clothes, and divided into several

es parties, all of them endeavouring to show are sometimes thrown away upon trifles.

themselves in those exercises wherein they 'I once saw a shepherd,' says a famous

is excelled, and to gain the approbation of Italian author, who used to divert him

who used to avert nie the lookers-on. self in his solitudes with tossing up eggs

I I found a ring of cudgel-players, who and catching them again without breaking were breaking one another's heads in order them: in which he had arrived to so great

to make some impression on their misa degree of perfection, that he would keep tresses' hearts. I observed a lusty young up four at a time for several minutes together playing in the air, and falling into

fellow, who had the misfortune of a broken his hands by turns. I think,' says the au

pate; but what considerably added to the thor, I never saw a greater severity than

languish of the wound, was his overhearing

an old man, who shook his head and said, in this man's face; for by his wonderful



That he questioned now if Black Kate perseverance and application, he had con

would marry him tracted the seriousness and gravity of a

these three years.' I

was diverted from a farther observation of privy-counsellor; and I could not but re

these combatants by a foot-ball match, Hect with myself, that the same assiduity

| which was on the other side of the green; and attention, had they been rightly applied,

where Tom Short behaved himself so might have made him a greater mathema

well, that most people seemed to agree, 'it tician than Archimedes.'


was impossible that he should remain a bachelor until the next wake.' Having

played many a match myself, I could have No. 161. Tuesday, September 4, 1711.

looked longer on this sport, had I not obIpse dies agitat festos: Fususque per herbam, served a country girl who was posted on Ignis abi in medio et socii cratera coronant,

an eminence at some distance from me, Te libans, Lenire, vocat: pecorisque magistris Veloci, jaculi certamina ponit in ulmo,

and was making so many odd grimaces, Corporaque agresti nudat prædura palestra.

and writhing and distorting her whole body Hanc olim veteres vitam coluere Sabini,

in so strange a manner, as made me very Hanc Remus et frater. Sic fortis Etruria crevit, Scilicet et rerum facta est pulcherrima Roma.

desirous to know the meaning of it. Upon

Virg. Georg. ii. 527 my coming up to her, I found that she was Himself, in rustic pomp, on holy-days,

overlooking a ring of wrestlers, and that To rural powers a just oblation pays;

her sweetheart, a person of small stature, And on the green his careless limbs displays. The hearth is in the midst : the herdsmen round

was contending with a huge brawny fellow, Thecheerful fire provoke his bealth in goblets crown'd. who twirled him about, and shook the little He calls on Bacchus, and propounds the prize; man so violently, that by a secret sympaThe groom his fellow-groom at buts defies,

thy of hearts it produced all those agitaAnd bends bis bow, and levels with his eyes: Or stript for wrestling, smears his limbs with oil, |tions in the person of his mistress, who I And watches with a trip his foe to foil.

dare say, like Cælia in Shakspeare on the Sich was the life the frugal Sabines led;

same occasion, could have wished herself So Remus and his brother king were bred; From whom th' austere Etrurian virtue rose;

invisible to catch the strong fellow by the And this rude life our homely fathers chose;

leg. '* The 'squire of the parish treats the Old Rome from such a race deriv'd her birth, The seat of empire, and the conquer'd earth.

whole company every year with a hogs

Dryden. head of ale; and proposes a beaver hat I AM glad that my late going into the as a recompence to him who gives most country has increased the number of my

* As You Like It. Act i. Sc. 6. .


falls. This has raised such a spirit of emu-l spirit of emulation, which so remarkably lation in the youth of the place, that some shows itself among our common people in of them have rendered themselves very these wakes, might be directed, proposes expert at this exercise; and I was often that for the improvement of all our handisurprised to see a fellow's heels fly up, by craft trades there should be annual prizes a trip which was given him so smartly that set up for such persons as were most exI could scarce discern it. I found that the cellent in their several arts. But laying old wrestlers seldom entered the ring until aside all these political considerations, some one was grown formidable by having which might tempt me to pass the limits thrown two or three of his opponents: but of my paper, I confess the greatest benefit kept themselves as it were in a reserved and convenience that I can observe in these body to defend the hat, which is always country festivals, is the bringing young hung up by the person who gets it in one people together, and giving them an opof the most conspicuous parts of the house, portunity of showing themselves in the and looked upon by the whole family as most advantageous light. A country felsomething redounding much more to their low that throws his rival upon his back, honour than a coat of arms. There was a has generally as good success with their fellow who was so busy in regulating all common mistress; as nothing is more usual the ceremonies, and seemed to carry such than for a nimble-footed wench to get a an air of importance in his look, that I husband at the same time that she wins could not help inquiring who he was, and a smock. Love and marriages are the was immediately answered, “That he did natural effects of these anniversary asnot value himself upon nothing, for that semblies. I must therefore very much he and his ancestors had won so many approve the method by which my correhats, that his parlour looked like a haber-spondent tells me each sex endeavours to dasher's shop.” However, this thirst of recommend itself to the other, since noglory in them all was the reason that no thing seems more likely to promise a man stood “lord of the ring,” for above healthy offspring, or a happy cohabitathree falls while I was among them. tion. And I believe I may assure my

•The young maids who were not lookers-country friend, that there has been many on at these exercises, were themselves en- a court lady who would be contented to exgaged in some diversions: and upon my change her crazy young husband for Tom asking a farmer's son of my own parish Short, and several men of quality who what he was gazing at with so much at- I would have parted with a tender yoketention, he told me, “That he was seeing fellow for Black Kate. Betty Welch,” whom I knew to be his I am the more pleased with having love sweetheart, “ pitch a bar.”

made the principal end and design of these In short, I found the men endeavoured meetings, as it seems to be more agreeable to show the women they were no cowards, to the intent for which they were at first inand that the whole company strived to re-stituted, as we are informed by the learned commend themselves to each other by Dr. Kennet,* with whose words I shall conmaking it appear that they were all in a clude my present paper. perfect state of health, and fit to undergo These wakes (says he,) were in imitaany fatigues of bodily labour.

tion of the ancient sys=1, or love-feasts; Your judgment upon this method of and were first established in England by love and gallantry, as it is at present prac- Pope Gregory the Great, who in an Epistised among us in the country, will very tle to Melitus the abbot, gave order that much oblige, sir, yours, &c.'

they should be kept in sheds or arbories

made up with the branches and boughs of If I would here put on the scholar and trees round the church.' politician, I might inform my readers how He adds, “That this laudable custom of these bodily exercises or games were for- wakes prevailed for many ages, until the merly encouraged in all the common- nice puritans began to exclaim against it wealths of Greece; from whence the as a remnant of popery; and by degrees Romans afterwards borrowed their pen- the precise humour grew so popular, that tathlum, which was composed of running, at an Exeter assizes the Lord Chief Baron wrestling, leaping, throwing, and boxing, Walter made an order for the suppression though the prizes were generally nothing of all wakes; but on Bishop Laud's combut a crown of cypress or parsley, hats not plaining of this innovating humour, the king being in fashion in those days: that there is commanded the order to be reversed.' X. an old statute, which obliges every man in England, having such an estate, to keep and No. 162.1 Wednesday, September 5, 1711. exercise the long-bow: by which means

--Servetur ad imum, our ancestors excelled all other nations in

Qualis ab incepto processerit, et sibi constet. the use of that weapon, and we had all the

Hor. Ars Poct. real advantages, without the inconvenience Keep one consistent plan from end to end. of a standing army: and that I once met

NOTHING that is not a real crime makes with a book of projects, in which the author, considering to what noble ends that l * Parochial Antiquities, 4to. 1695, p. 610, 614

a man appear so contemptible and little in we fall into crimes and recover out of them, the eyes of the world as inconstancy, espe- are amiable or odious in the eyes of our cially when it regards religion or party. great Judge, and pass our whole life in of. In either of these cases, though a man per-| fending and asking pardon. On the conhaps does but his duty in changing his trary, the beings underneath us are not side, he not only makes himself hated by capable of sinning, nor those above us of those he left, but is seldom heartily esteem- repenting. The one is out of the possibilied by those he comes over to.

ties of duty, and the other fixed in an eterIn these great articles of life, therefore, nal course of sin, or an eternal course of a man's conviction ought to be very strong, virtue. and if possible so well-timed, that worldly. There is scarce a state of life, or stage in advantages may seem to have no share in it, it, which does not produce changes and or mankind will be ill-natured enough to revolutions in the mind of man. Our think he does not change sides out of prin- schemes of thought in infancy are lost in ciple, but either out of levity of temper, or those of youth; these too take a different prospects of interest. Converts and rene- turn in manhood, until old age often leads gadoes of all kinds should take particular us back into our former infancy. A new care to let the world see they act upon ho- title or an unexpected success throws nourable motives; or whatever approba- us out of ourselves, and in a manner detions they may receive from themselves, stroys our identity. A cloudy day, or a litand applauses from those they converse tle sunshine, has as great an influence on with, they may be very well assured that many constitutions, as the most real blessthey are the scorn of all good men, and the ing or misfortune. A dream varies our public marks of infamy and derision. being, and changes our condition while it

Irresolution on the schemes of life which lasts; and every passion, not to mention offer themselves to our choice, and incon- health and sickness, and the greater alterastancy in pursuing them, are the greatest tions in body and mind, makes us appear and most universal causes of all our disquiet almost different creatures. If a man is so and unhappiness. When ambition pulls distinguished among other beings by this one way, interest another, inclination a infirmity, what can we think of such as third, and perhaps reason contrary to all, make themselves remarkable for it even a man is likely to pass his time but ill who among their own species? It is a very has so many different parties to please. trifling character to be one of the most vaWhen the mind hovers among such a va- riable beings of the most variable kind, riety of allurements, one had better settle especially if we consider that he who is the on a way of life that is not the very best great standard of perfection has in him no We might have chosen, than grow old with shadow of change, but “is the same yestercut determining our choice, and go out of day, to-day, and for ever.' the world, as the greatest part of mankind As this mutability of temper and incon do, before we had resolved how to live in sistency with ourselves is the greatest it. There is but one method of setting our weakness of human nature, so it makes the selves at rest in this particular, and that person who is remarkable for it in a very is by adhering steadfastly to one great end particular manner more ridiculous than as the chief and ultimate aim of all our any other infirmity whatsoever, as it sets pursuits. If we are firmly resolved to live him in a greater variety of foolish lights, up to the dictates of reason, without any and distinguishes him from himself by an regard to wealth, reputation, or the like opposition of party-coloured characters. considerations, any more than as they fall | The most humorous character in Horace in with our principal design, we may go is founded upon this unevenness of temper through life with steadiness and pleasure; and irregularity of conduct: but if we act by several broken views, and

Sardus habebat will not only be virtuous, but wealthy, Ille Tigellius hoc: Cæsar, qui cogere posset, popular, and every thing that has a value Si peteret per amicitiam patris, atque suam, non set upon it by the world, we shall live and

Quidquam proficeret ; si collibuisset, ab ovo

Usque ad mala citaret, Io Bacche, modo sumna die in misery and repentance.

Voce, modo hac, resonat quæ chordis quatuor ima. One would take more than ordinary care Nil æquale homini fuit illi : se pe velut qui to guard one's self against this particular

Currebat fugiens hostem; persppe velut qui

Junonis sacra ferret; habebat sæpe ducentos, imperfection, because it is that which our

Sæpe decem servos: Modo reges atque tetrarchas, nature very strongly inclines us to; for if | Omnia magna loquens; modo, sit mihi mensa We examine ourselves thoroughly, we shall

tripes, et

Concha salig puri, et toga, quæ defendere frigus. find that we are the most changeable be Quamvis crassa, queat. Decies centena dedisses ings in the universe. In respect to our un Huic parco paucis contento, quinque diebus derstanding, we often embrace and reject

Nil erat in loculis. Noctes vigilabat ad ipsum

Mane: diem totum stertebat. Nil fuit unquam the very same opinions; whereas beings

Sic impar sibi

Hot. Lib. 1. Sat. ini. above and beneath us have probably no opinions at all, or at least no wavering and Instead of translating this passage in uncertainties in those they have. Our su- Horace, I shall entertain my English reader periors are guided by intuition, and our in- with the description of a parallel characteriors by instinct. In respect of our wills, ter, that is wonderfully well finished by Mr.

« AnteriorContinuar »