« PredošláPokračovať »
thest extremity was beyond the reach of my view. It was covered with an infinite multitude of persons, of all ages and both sexes, each of them either employed in some different pursuit from the rest, or with some different manner and degree of anxiety from every other. The air was full of winged beings, in human shape, such as I have imagined to myself when a boy, the genii of the ancients, or as the painters pourtray to us the little satellites of Venus. I observed, however, in their countenances great variety and distinction of character: some wearing the gay aspect of smiling Cupids; others the sullen malignant gloom of a Rosicrusian gnome; and others again, between those extremes, appeared variously pensive and anxious, like so many sylphs, in care for the virtue and reputation of their respective wards. They were each of them busy over the head of some one of the persons below, who seemed to be acted upon by the good pleasure of these aerial inhabitants, and not a few were distracted by the operations of two or more of them together.
One species of these little beings, which more than all the rest engaged my attention, seemed to have no durable character. Some of them were this moment all alert, gay, and sprightly; others, desponding, languid, and heavy: and a very little observation showed me the same individuals with each of these distinctions. Most of the others took delight to cross and interrupt them, especially those of the gnomian kind.
After surveying this scene for some time, I took the opportunity to ask an explanation of it from a grave lady near me, who seemed to be less employed than any person else. Her answer was, “that the plain before me was the course of human life, and that the men and women I saw on it were at least a representation of the whole human species.” “ And who are you, madam,” said 1, “ that have so little to do among them?" "My name," replied my good instructress, “is Observation: some call me Experience, others Wisdom; but this I can assure you, no being you behold could comply with your request so much to your satisfaction as myself. Not a man or woman here, without coming to me, can tell what themselves are doing: and yet so capriciously are they generally inclined, that very few ever consult me about their own case, though I have had them, all in their turns, to inquire into the conduct of other people.”
“ But pray,” says I, “ inform me, who are those innumerable
busy little spirits that hover over the heads of the men and women, and seem to govern all their actions? And who, in particular, are those the most active among them, who seem of that earnest and fluctuating temper?"
“ In general,” answered she, “ what you behold are the Passions and Affections, by which much the greatest number of mankind are wholly influenced: but those varying visages, those beings still in pursuit of new objects, ever perplexing, ever fainting, ever reviving, are what we call the Hopes. They take their airy flights with so little judgment, and such wayward obstinacy, that no wonder they are continually stopped in their career. Wherever they are bound, they see at first no obstruction in their own way; which makes them liable to encounter many, and always to disappoint the person directed by them. And yet so necessary is their assistance, their animating power, that without it scarce any purpose would be vigorously pursued, scarce any thing great or daring would be attempted. See a little how they operate on two or three of the most distinguished persons now before us, and how variously they are themselves affected.” She then presented me with a perspective glass, which made me master of the whole extent of the course, and showed me the several objects that the busy mortals had respectively in view.
The first that engaged my attention was a youth of about twenty, with fine shape, vigorous constitution, and blooming complexion. I observed his eye fixed on the goal of Beauty, over which was written in golden capitals, the word Enjoyment. Two smiling Hopes, adorned with the ensigns of the gods of Love and Marriage, vainly led him at first confidently on. But long they had not proceeded e'er other little Spirits, which my instructress told me were significant of Avarice, made them abate considerably of their speed. They got by these however at last, and the youth thought himself just ready to seize the prize, when others, with more severe air and authority, obliged him totally to desist. These evil geniuses were Disparity and Pride.
As each obstructer interposed or disappeared, I took notice how the conducting Hopes languished and revived; and that not in the lover's case only, but in the several others I am going to mention.
Upon the goal which the next had in view I observed the word Glory, which signified to me that the contender for it was of a martial temper. Accordingly, the Hope that attended him appeared all rough, and full of scars, brandishing in his hand a shining scymitar. The rubs which this hero met with, in almost every instant of his progress, are too many to be here enumerated. Stratagem, Defeat, Famine, had each of them like to put a period to his proceedings: but at last came another foe, whose name was obscure and undistinguished Death, and struck him down to eternal oblivion.
My eye was next directed to the goal of Ambition, over which the word Power made a most glittering appearance. Many were at once contending in this list, all with unequal degrees of celerity and success; and the assistant Hope looked more and more serene in proportion as the pupil advanced before his fellows. Yet I could not help noting, even in some of those that were most forward, how much a small opposition did here intimidate. Envy, Deceit, Flattery, Detraction, had all their full employment in this tract, and each tried its several efforts on every candidate. But the most dreadful spirit of all, and what I observed was the most frequently successful in its interposition, assumed the name of Patriotism.
As among the last mentioned, there seemed to be few very young, so in another list were there scarce any but old persons. The goal of Riches here terminated the point of view, over which the motto was Posterity. A meager, careful, suspicious aspect, and a slow, watchful, steady motion, were the chief characteristics of both the guides and the guided. Labour, Plainness, Mediocrity fitted before them, when none were actually in view. As the Desires of this class did not center in themselves, there was no need of any greater enemy than Luxury to defeat their happiness: and he it was who, ever present, magnified every other terror.
I was at first surprised to see a beautiful young damsel making her way among these decrepid old wretches: but when I observed the Hope that animated her, who had the air and attitude wherewith Fortune is depicted, and held in his hand a wheel resembling those of a Lottery, I was no longer at a loss to account for this phenomenon. Instead of Posterity, this lady, through optic glasses of her own invention, read the words, a Coach and Six over the goal. I kept my eye on her long enough to see her Hope entirely leave her, and an ugly spectre, called a Blank, interpose between her and Felicity.
FOR THE MIRROR OF TASTE.
The following story, related by sir William Temple, and from him taken by Mr. Locke, as an illustration of his subject in the chapter of his essay on “ Identity" and “ Diversity," though so marvellous as to touch upon the incredible, is yet vouched for by such high authority as to intitle it to some degree of belief, and is at all events so very curious, that we think it worth a place in this Miscellany.
“ I had a mind” (says sir William) " to know from prince Maurice's own mouth, the account of a common but much credited story, of an old parrot he had in Brasil, during his government there, that spoke, and asked, and answered common questions like a reasonable creature; so that those of his train there generally concluded it to be witchery or possession; and one of his chaplains, who lived long afterwards in Holland, would never, from that time, endure a parrot, but said they all had a devil in them. I had heard many particulars of this story, and assevered by people hard to be discredited; which made me ask prince Maurice what there was in it. He said, with his usual plainness and dryness of talk, that there was something true, but a great deal false of what' had been reported. I desired to know of him what there was of the first? He told me short and coldly, that he had heard of such an old parrot when he came to Brasil; and though he believed nothing of it, and it was a good way off, he had the curiosity to send for it; that it was a very great and a very old one; and when it came first into the room where the prince was with a good many Dutchmen about him, it said presently, What a company of white men are here! They asked it what he thought that man was, pointing at the prince? It answered, Some general or other. When they brought it close to him, he asked it, D'où venez vous?* it answered, De Marinan. The prince. A qui estes vous? The parrot. A un Portuguese. The prince. Qui fais tu là? The parrot. Je garde les poules. The prince laughed and said, Vous gardez les poules! The parrot answered, Ouy, moy, et je scay bien
* Whence came you? From Marinan. Prince. To whom do you belong? Parrot. To a Portuguese. Prince. What do you do there? Parrot. I look after the chickens. Prince. You look after the chickens! Parrot. Yes, I know how to do it
faire, and made the chuck four or five times that people use to make to chickens when they call them. I set down the words of this worthy dialogue in French, just as prince Maurice said them to me. I asked him in what language the parrot spake? and he said in Brasilian. I asked him whether he understood Brasilian? He said no, but he had taken care to have two interpreters by him: the one a Dutchman, who spoke Brasilian, and the other a Brasilian, who spoke Dutch; that he asked them separately and privately, and both of them agreed in telling him just the same thing that the parrot said. I could not but tell this odd story, because it is so much out of the way, and from the first hand, and what may pass for a good one; for I dare say, the prince at least believed himself in all he told me, having ever passed for a very honest and pious man."
Communicated for the Mirror of Taste.
JEALOUSY. I have seen a painting, which finely illustrates Jealousy: A youth is represented in torments, sitting on thrones, with wings on his shoulders, a demon standing by, surrounded by the furies, which throws snakes and fire into his bosom. The youth in torments shows Misery in continual pains; his wings denote it is in his power to fly, but his infatuation employs his mind on the pains: The demon is the emblem of watchfulness; the furies surrounding add fresh grief, while the serpents are gnawing, and the fire consuming him. This allegory shows, that when Jealousy hath invaded the mind, Reason is banished, and nothing is left within us to correct such a passion.
Mr. Prior has happily described Jealousy in the tale of the Turtle and Sparrow, in the following lines.
'Twas doubt, complaint, or 'twas chit-chat;..