페이지 이미지

• The genius in both these classes of authors may be equally great, but shows itself after a different manner. In the first it is like a rich soil in a bappy climate, that produces a whole wilderness of noble plants rising in a thousand beautiful landscapes, without any certain order or regularity. In the other it is the same rich soil under the same happy climate, that bas been laid out in walks and parterres, and cut into shape and beauty by the skill of the gardener.

The great danger in these latter kind of geniuses, is, - lest they cramp their own abilities too much by imita

tion, and form themselves altogether upon models, without giving the full play to their own natural parts. An imitation of the best authors is not to compare with a good original; and I believe we may observe that very few writers make an extraordinary figure in the world, who have not something in their way of think.

ing or expressing themselves that is peculiar to them, =aud entirely their own.



THE admirable writer of " The Theory of the

Earth,” has communicated to us with the most striking eloquence, his thoughts on the dissolution of nature. When this admirable anthor has reviewed all that has passed or is to come which relates to the habitable world, and run through the whole face of it, how could a guardian angel that had attended it through all its courses, or changes, speak more emphatically at the end of his charge, than does our author when he makes, as it were, a funeral oration over this glube, looking to the point where it once stood ?

Let us only, if you please, to take leave of this subject, reflect upon this occasion on the vanity and - transient glory of this habitable world. How by the

force of one element breaking loose upon the rest, all

the vanities of nature, all the works of art, all the la bours of men, are reduced to nothing! All that we admired and adored before as great and magnificent, is obliterated or vanished; and another form and face of things, plain, simple, and every where the same, over. spreads the whole earth. Where are now the great empires of the world, and their great imperial cities! Their pillars, trophies, and monuinents of glory? Show me where they stood, read the inscription, tell me the victor's name. What remains, what impressions, what difference, or distinction, do you see in this mass of fire ? Rome itself, eternal Rome, the great city, the empress of the world, whose domination and supersti

. tion, ancient and modern, make a great part of the history of this earth, what is become of her now! She laid her foundations deep, and her palaces were strong and sumptuous :"_"She glorified herself, and lived de liciously, and said in her heart, 1 sit a queen, and shall see no sorrow:"_" but her hour is come, she is wiped away from the face of the earth, and buried in everlasting oblivion. But it is not cities only, and works of men's hands, but the everlasting hills, the mountains and rocks of the earth are melted as wax before the sun, and their place is no where found.”_“ Here is stood the Alps, the load of the earth, that covered many countries, and reached their arms from the ocean to the Black Sea; this buge mass- of stone is softened and dissolved as a tender cloud into rain. Here stood the African mountains, and Atlas with bis top above the clouds; there was frozen Caucasus, and Taurus, and Imaus, and the mountains of Asia; and yonder, towards the north, stood the Riphæan hills

, clothed in ice and snow.

All these are vanished, dropped away as the snow upon their heads. Great and marvellous are thy works, just and true are ty ways, thou King of Saints! Hallelajah.”



Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se,
Quam quod ridiculos homines facit

Want is the scorn of every wealthy fool,
And wit in rags is turn'd to ridicule.


ASI was walking in my chamber the morning be

fore I went last into the country, I heard the bawkers with great vehemence crying about a paper, entitled, “The ninety-nine Plagues of an empty Purse.” I bad indeed some time before observed, that the orators of Grub-street bad dealt very much in plagues. They have already published in the same month, " The Plagues of Matrimony; the Plagues of a single Life ; the nineteen Plagues of a Chambermaid; the Plagues of a Coachman; the Plagues of a Footman ; and the Plague of Plagues.” The success these several plagues met with, probably gave occasion to the above-mentioned

poem on an empty purse. However that be, the saine noise so frequently repeated under my window, drew me insensibly to think on some of those in. conveniencies and mortifications which usually attend on poverty, and in short, gave birth to the present speculation : for after my fancy had run over the most obvious and common calamities which men of mean fortunes are liable to, it descended to those little insults and contempts, which thongh they may seem to dwindle into nothing when a man offers to describe them, are perhaps in themselves more cutting and insupportable than the former. Juvenal, with a great deal of reason and humour, tells us, that nothing bore harder upon a poor map in his time, than the continual ridicule which his babit and dress afforded to the beaux of Rome.

Quid, quod materiam præbet causasque jocorum
Omnibus hic idem ; si fæda et scissa lacerna,
Si toga sordidula est, et rupta calceus alter
Pelle patet, vel si consuto vulnere crassum
Atque recens linum ostendit non una cicatrir.

JUV. Sat. iii. v. 147.
“ Add that the rich have still a gibe in store,
And will be monstrous witty on the poor;
For the torn surtout and the tatter'd vest,
The wretch and all his wardrobe are a jest;
The greasy gown sully'd with often turning,
Gives a good hint to say the man's in mourning;
Or if the shoe be ript, or patch is put,
He's wounded, see the plaister on his foot.”


It must be confessed that few things make a man appear more despicable, or more prejudice his hearers against what he is going to offer, than an awkward or pitiful dress; insomuch that I fancy, had Tully bimself pronounced one of his orations with a blanket about his shoulders, more people would have langhed at his dress than have admired his eloqnence. This last re flection made me wonder at a set of men, who, without being subjected to it by the unkindness of their fortunes, are contented to draw upon themselves the ridicule of the world in this particolar; I mean such as take it into their heads, that the first regular step to be a wit is to commence a sloven. It is certain 10thing has so much debased that, which must have been otherwise so great a character; and I kųow not how to account for it, unless it may possibly be in complai. sance to those narrow minds who can have no notion of the same person's possessing different accomplishments; or that it is a sort of sacrifice which some men are contented to make to calumny, by allowing it to fasten on one part of their character, while they are endeavouring to establish another. Yet however a

accountable this foolish custom is, I am afraid it could plead a long prescription ; and probably give too moch occasion for the valgar definition still remaining among us of an heathen philosopher.

I have seen the speech of a Terræ-filias, spoken in King Charles the Second's reign; in which he describes two very eminent men, who were perhaps the greatest scholars of their age; and after having mentioned the

entire friendship between them, conclades, “ That itbey had but one mind, one purse, one chamber, and

one hat." The men of business were also infected with a sort of singularity little better than this. I have heard my father say, that a broad-brimmed hat, short hair, and unfolded bandkerchief, were in his time absolutely necessary to denote a notable mad; and that he bad known two or three, who aspired to the character of very notable, wear shoe-strings with great success.

To the honour of our present age it must be allow. ed, that some of our greatest geniuses for wit and bu. siness have almost entirely broke the neck of these absurdities.

Victor, after having dispatched the most importaut affairs of the commonwealth, has appeared at an asseinbly, where all the ladies have declared him the genteelest man in the company; and in Atticus, though every way one of the greatest geniuses the age has pro. duced, one sees nothing particular in his dress or car. riage to denote his pretensions to wit and learning : so that at present a man may venture to cock up his hat, and wear a fashionable wig, without being taken for a rake or a fool.

The medium between a fop and a sloven is what a man of sense would endeavour to keep: yet I remem. ber Mr. Osborn advises his son to appear in his habit rather above than below bis fortune; and tells him, that he will find an bandsome suit of clothes always procure some additional respect. VOL. I.


« 이전계속 »