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me at their houses. About five this afternoon, being tired with study, the weather inviting, and time lying a little upon my hands, I resolved, at the instigation of my evil genius, to visit them; their husbands having been our contemporaries. This I thought I could do without much trouble ; for both live in the very next street. I went first to my lady Camomile; and the butler, who had lived long in the family, and seen me often in his master's time, ushered me very civilly into the parlour, and told me, though my lady had given strict orders to be denied, he was sure I might be admitted, and bid the black boy acquaint his lady, that I was come to
her. In the window lay two letters, one broke open, the other fresh sealed with a wafer : the first directed to the divine Cosmelia, the second to the charming Lucinda ; but both, by the indented characters, appeared to have been writ* by very unsteady hands. Such uncommon addresses increased my curiosity, and put me upon asking my old friend the butler, if he knew who those persons were ? Very well,' says he, this is from Mrs. Furbish to my lady, an old school-fellow and great crony of her ladyship's: and this the answer.' I inquired in what county she lived. "Oh dear!' says he, but just by, in the neighbourhood. Why, she was here all this morning, and that letter came and was answered within these two hours. They have taken an odd fancy, you must know, to call one another hard names; but, for all that, they love one another hugely. By this time the boy returned with his lady's humble service to me, desiring I would excuse her; for she could not possibly see me, nor any body else, for it was opera-night.
* For written. Instances of this kind are frequent in the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian.
Methinks,” says I,
6 such innocent folly as two old women's courtship to each other, should rather make you merry than put you out of humour." “ Peace, good Isaac,” says he, “no interruption I beseech
you. I got soon to Mrs. Feeble’s, she that was formerly Betty Frisk; you must needs remember
Tom Feeble, of Brazen Nose, fell in love with her for her fine dancing. Well, Mrs. Ursula, without further ceremony, carries me directly up to her mistress's chamber, where I found her environed by four of the most mischievous animals that can ever infest a family; an old shock dog with one eye, a monkey chained to one side of the chimney, a great grey squirrel to the other, and a parrot waddling in the middle of the room. However, for a while, all was in a profound tranquillity. Upon the mantletree, for I am a pretty curious observer, stood a pot of lambetive electuary, with a stick of liquorice, and near it a phial of rose-water, and powder of tutty. Upon the table lay a pipe filled with betony and colt’s-foot, a roll of wax-candle, a silver spitting-pot, and a Seville orange. The lady was placed in a large wicker chair, and her feet wrapped up in flannel, supported by cushions; and in this attitude, would you believe it, Isaac, was she reading a romance with spectacles on. The first compliments over, as she was industriously endeavouring to enter upon conversation, a violent fit of coughing seized her. This awaked Shock, and in a trice the whole room was in an uproar; for the dog barked, the squirrel squealed, the monkey chattered, the parrot screamed, and Ursula, to appease them, was more clamorous than all the rest. You, Isaac, who know how any harsh noise affects my head, may guess what I suffered from the hideous din of these discordant sounds. At length all was appeased, and quiet restored : a chair was drawn for me; where I was no sooner seated, but the parrot fixed his horny beak, as sharp as a pair of sheers, in one of my heels, just above the shoe. I sprung from the place with an unusual agility, and so, being within the monkey's reach, he snatches off my new bob-wig, and throws it upon two apples that were roasting by a sullen sea-coal fire. I was nimble enough to save it from any further damage than singing the fore-top. I put it on; and composing myself as well as I could, I drew my chair towards the other side of the chimney. The good lady, as soon as she had recovered breath, employed it in making a thousand apologies, and, with great eloquence, and a numerous train of words, lamented my misfortune. In the middle of her harangue, I felt something scratching near my knee, and feeling what it should be, found the squirrel had got into my coat-pocket. As I endeavoured to remove him from his burrow, he made his teeth meet through the fleshy part of my forefinger. This gave me an unexpressible pain. The Hungary water was immediately brought to bathe it, and gold-beaters skin applied to stop the blood. The lady renewed her excuses; but, being now out of all patience, 1 abruptly took my leave, and hobbling down stairs with heedless haste, I set my foot full in a pail of water, and down we came to the bottom together.” Here my friend concluded his narrative, and, with a composed countenance, I began to make him compliments of codolence; but he started from his chair, and said, “ Isaac, you may spare your speeches, I expect no reply. When I told you this, I knew you would laugh at me; but the next woman that makes me ridiculous, shall be a young one."
N° 267. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 23, 1710.
Qui genus humanum ingenio superavit, ei omnes
Lucr. iii. 1056.
From my own Apartment, December 22. I HAVE heard that it is a rule among the conventuals of several orders in the Romish church to shut themselves up at a certain time of the year, not only from the world in general, but from the members of their own fraternity; and to pass away several days by themselves in settling accounts between their Maker and their own souls, in cancelling unrepented crimes, and renewing their contracts of obedience for the future. Such stated times for particular acts of devotion, or the exercise of certain religious duties, have been enjoined in all civil governments, whatever deity they worshipped, or whatever religion they professed. That which may be done at all times, is often totally neglected and forgotten, unless fixed and determined to some time more than another; and therefore, though several duties may be suitable to every day of our lives, they are most likely to be performed, if some days are more particularly set apart for the practice of them. Our church has accordingly instituted several seasons of
devotion, when time, custom, prescription, and, if I may so say, the fashion itself, call upon a man to be serious, and attentive to the great end of his being.
I have hinted in some former Papers, that the greatest and wisest of men in all ages and countries, particularly in Rome and Greece, were renowned for their piety and virtue. It is now my intention to shew, how those in our own nation, that have been unquestionably the most eminent for learning and knowledge, were likewise the most eminent for their adherence to the religion of their country.
I might produce very shining examples from among the clergy; but because priest-craft is the common cry of every cavilling, empty scribbler, I shall shew that all the laymen who have exerted a more than ordinary genius in their writings, and were the glory of their times, were men whose hopes were filled with immortality, and the prospect of future rewards, and men who lived in a dutiful submission to all the doctrines of revealed religion.
I shall, in this paper, only instance Sir Francis Bacon, a man who, for greatness of genius, and compass of knowledge, did honour to his
and country; I could almost say to human nature itself. He possessed at once all those extraordinary talents, which were divided amongst the greatest authors of antiquity. He had the sound, distinct, comprehensive knowledge of Aristotle, with all the beautiful lights, graces, and embellishments of Cicero. One does not know which to admire most in his writings, the strength of reason, force of style, or brightness of imagination.
This author has remarked in several parts of his works, that a thorough insight into philosophy makes a good believer, and that a smattering in it naturally