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not know why; they liked another better, they did not know what: in some there was nothing, in others there was a sort of something. My mother liked the Rover; but my curate's wife had lost a spaniel of that name. The Prophet, the Trumpet, and Budget, were too full of pretension. Telescope was too technical, Ordinary was too common-place, and Salmagunda would not be pretty in the mouth. The Old Bachelor was thought to be too taxable a shape to appear in.
I was inclined, for some time, to Breakfast; but it occurred to me, that the fashionable world have no stomach for this meal. For a fortnight I pleased myself with Bubble and Squeak; but this, it appeared to some of my wary friends, would create a suspicion of its originality. I was a simple By-stander for some days, and very
comfortable I was ; till being pushed out of my place by a low scribbler, who claimed it as his own, I contented myself with being a Looker-on, in one as remote from it as possible.
My thoughts have been so much occupied about the matter of my papers, ever since I determined finally on the name, that it is to be supposed I have had some dreams concerning them. One particularly has left such connected impressions on my memory, that I cannot forbear communicating it. Some persons, I know, are fond of collecting these pranks and vagaries of thought; for my part, I consider them as the mere pastime of the soul—the frolics and gambols of a high-mettled horse, just loosed from the slavery of his collar, and turned out amidst the gay herbage of a green meadow.
I happened to sit up, the night before last, rather later than usual ; and, as my mother had retired to her pillow, I seated myself in a great chair, opposite a brisk fire, thinking over various subjects for my future speculations; when, as was natural, I fell asleep, and had the following vision: There appeared before me an immense gallery, the sides of which were entirely filled up with books : methought the room was capable of containing every book of the least note in the English language. At the further extremity was a beautiful arch, built up with the works of different authors, and which I concluded to be the most considerable, as I observed the keystone was represented by the Bible itself. In the middle of the room, there was an exact pyramid of the same materials, which I had not leisure to examine thoroughly; I remember only to have seen near the bottom some of our best authors in algebra and the mathematics.
What surprised me most, in the scene before me, was the great distraction of lights that prevailed every where; some whole compartments were perfectly illuminated, while others were in total obscurity. In the Critic's corner there was a broken frittered light; and I could not but observe it to be the coldest part of the room. In the Philosophical division it was curious enough to mark the gradation : the works of Roger Bacon were wrapt in a grey sombre kind of light, which grew stronger and stronger, till it blazed out at the other extremity, where stood the volumes of Boyle, Newton, and Locke. In the division set apart for Polemic writers, there was a sullen sort of light with little or no radiance, something like the sun seen through a darkening medium: as I passed by this compartment, however, I felt the suffocating heat of a glass-house. In the Poet's range there was a prodigious glare, like the effect of crystals: it was particularly dazzling about the wits of our own time; but grew chaster and purer, as I cast my eye back towards the earlier writers. I would fain have satisfied my curiosity a little further; but suddenly a murmur of people talking diverted my attention. I observed a stately person, whom I knew to be Alfred the Great, not by the assistance of our historical engravers, but by certain associations in my own mind. He marched up, in a very dignified manner, to a large table, by the side of which there was a costly urn, decorated with hieroglyphical figures. Some attendants followed, and stood around him, as if to wait his commands; while he was seated upon a throne of some folio volumes magnificently bound, which I guessed to be the Cyclopedia. I was struck with awe at his imposing appearance, and shrunk behind a huge Atlas, peeping over it to see the ceremony.
A very great pile of books was presently laid upon the table; by which I rightly conjectured, that this first patron of English literature was about to enter on an inquisition of all the works which had appeared since his time. My curiosity was greatly inflamed, when I perceived that the object of this day's examination was the periodical works; and that, upon his taking up the top of the urn, there blazed out a clear bluish flame. I was amazed to see him throw the four volumes of the Tatler into the urn; and more so, when I observed enough only to compose three and a half come out again. After a little thought however on this phænomenon, it occurred to me, that this must be a purifying flame, which consumed only what was idle or immoral in the works committed to it.
Very few of the periodical essays lost any thing on the account of immorality; but the want of originality, strength, or elegance, sunk a good deal in most of them. Ungrammatical sentences, repetitions, and false wit, supplied plenty of nourishment to the
flame; and all our late productions suffered much on this score. When the Rambler was thrown in, there was a terrible crackling noise ; not a sentence however seemed to have been consumed, though many of them had lost a sounding word or two. A multitude of other productions of the same denomination went through the same ordeal. Some very voluminous essays were reduced to single duodecimos; some, from plump octavos, came out sixpenny pamphlets; of some there only survived a paper or two; of
many there remained only their mottos; and some perished altogether. In the Spectator alone I could perceive no diminution of size: it came out with only the loss of its outside covers, which, happening to be of sheep-skin, were perhaps sacrificed as too ordinary for such a work. Its urbanity of criticism, its elegance of morality, its playfulness of allusion, and that humorous arrangement of words, which a breath might almost discompose, came out whole and untouched as the asbestos. At this instant a prodigious pile of News-papers and Magazines was thrown into the urn, which suddenly emitted such a fierce flame, accompanied with so black a smoke, that I imagined myself on the point ot being burned or suffocated, and could not for a long time see my hand before me.
As soon as the room was a little cleared, I perceived walking towards the table a grave
man, who resembled exactly the portrait of my greatgrandfather, the legislator of our family, and I thought I discovered in one hand the First Number of my work, and his favourite tobacco-stopper fast clenched in the other: he seemed to deliver it to the judge, who threw it into the inquisitorial flame. At that moment my apprehensions for the fate of my dear infant were so great, that I awoke in the struggle, and was surprised to find myself in a crouching attitude, behind the back of my great chair; which I never see, without thinking of my old friend the Atlas: and even the tea-urn has never since made its appearance, without calling up a visible suffusion in my cheeks.
N° 3. SATURDAY, MARCH 17.
Πημα κακος γειτων δσον τ' αγαθος μεγ' ονειαρ.
HESIOD. “ It hard to say which is the greater, the inconvenience of
a bad neighbour, or the advantage of a good one."
We are told, that Themistocles, having a farm to dispose of, took particular care to make it known that it had the advantage of a good neighbour; considering this as a circumstance that would greatly recommend it. I am so strongly of this opinion myself, that I regard it as the most fortunate occurrence of my life that I am surrounded by a worthy set of parishioners, who all study to make my residence among them the most agreeable in the world. It is true, indeed, I had the advantage of succeeding to a rector, who was not of the same contented turn, and was more frequently at issue with his brethren on a point of law than a point of doctrine. My placid temper was no sooner discovered, than it gained me the hearts of most of my flock; and I observe that this friendly disposition towards me is hourly im