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I find the following passage in an excellent sermon, preached at the funeral of a gentleman * who was an honour to his country, and a more diligent as well as successful inquirer into the works of nature than any other our nation has ever produced, • He had the profoundest veneration for the great God of heaven and earth that I have ever observed in any person. The very name of God was never mentioned by him without a pause and a visible stop in his discourse; in which one, that knew him most particularly above twenty years, has told me that he was so exact, that he does not remember to have observed him once to fail in it.'
Every one knows the veneration which was paid by the Jews to a name so great, wonderful, and holy. They would not let it enter even into their religious discourses. What can we then think of those who make use of so tremendous a name in the ordinary expressions of their anger, mirth, and most impertinent passions? of those who admit it into the most familiar questions and assertions, ludicrous phrases, and works of humour? not to mention those who violate it by solemn perjuries! It would be an affront to reason to endeavour to set forth the horror and profaneness of such a practice. The very mention of it exposes it sufficiently to those in whom the light of nature, not to say religion, is not utterly extinguished.
* See bishop Burnet's Sermon, preached at the funeral of the honourable Robert Boyle,
N° 532. MONDAY, NOV. 10, 1712.
Fungor vice cotis, acutum
HOR. Ars Poet. ver. 304.
It is a very honest action to be studious to produce other men's merit; and I make no scruple of saying, I have as much of this temper as any man in the world. It would not be a thing to be bragged of, but that it is what any man may be master of, who will take pains enough for it. Much observation of the unworthiness in being pained at the excellence of another, will bring you to a scorn of yourself for that unwillingness: and when you have got so far, you will find it a greater pleasure than you ever before knew to be zealous in promoting the fame and welfare of the praise-worthy. I do not speak this as pretending to be a mortified self-denying man, but as one who had turned his ambition into a right channel. I claim to myself the merit of having extorted excellent productions from a person of the greatest abilities, who would not have let them appeared by any other means *; to have animated a few young gentlemen into worthy pursuits, who will be a glory to our age; and at all times, and by all possible means in my power, undermined the interest of ignorance, vice, and folly, and attempted to substitute in their stead learning, piety, and good
It is from this honest heart that I find my,
self honoured as a gentleman-usher to the arts and sciences, Mr. Tickell and Mr. Pope have, it seems, this idea of me.
The former has writ me an excellent paper of verses, in praise, forsooth, of myself; and the other enclosed for my perusal an admirable poem *, which I hope will shortly see the light. In the mean time I cannot suppress any thought of his, but insert this sentiment about the dying words of Adrian. I will not determine in the case he mentions; but have thus much to say in favour of his argument, that many of his own works which I have seen, convince me that very pretty and very sublime sentiments may be lodged in the same bosom without diminution of its great
• Mr. SPECTATOR,
• I was the other day in company with five or six men of some learning; where, chancing to mention the famous verses which the emperor Adrian spoke on his death-bed, they were all agreed that it was a piece of gaiety unworthy that prince in those circumstances. I could not but dissent from this opinion. Methinks it was by no means a gay but a very serious soliloquy to his soul at the point of his departure: in which sense I naturally took these verses at my first reading them, when I was very young, and before I knew what interpretation the world generally put upon them.
“ Animula vagula, blandula,
“ Alas, my soul! thou pleasing companion of
• The Temple of Fame.
this body, thou fleeting thing that art now deserting it, whither art thou flying? to what unknown region? Thou art all trembling, fearful, and pensive. Now what is become of thy former wit and humour? Thou shalt jest and be gay no more.”
'I confess I cannot apprehend where lies the triAling in all this; it is the most natural and obvious reflexion imaginable to a dying man: and, if we consider the emperor was a heathen, that doubt concerning the future state of his soul will seem so far from being the effect of want of thought, that it was scarce reasonable he should think otherwise; not to mention that here is a plain confession included of his belief in its immortality. The diminutive epithets of vagula, blandula, and the rest, appear not to me as expressions of levity, but rather of endearment and concern: such as we find in Catullus, and the authors of Hendecasyllabi after him, where they are used to express the utmost love and tenderness for their mistresses. If you think me right in my notion of the last words of Adrian, be pleased to insert this in the Spectator; if not, to suppress.it.
I am, &c.'
TO THE SUPPOSED AUTHOR OF THE SPECTATOR.
• In courts licentious, and a shameless stage,
• Thy spotless thoughts unshock’d the priest may hear,
Thy works in Chloe's toilet gain a part,
· The brainless stripling, who, expell’d to town,
• Such readers scorn'd, thou wing'st thy daring flight
Such hints alone could British Virgil lend t,
• Permit these lines by thee to livenor blame A muse that pants and languishes for fame;
* Mr. Tickell alludes here to Steele's papers against the sharpers, &c. in the Tatler, and particularly to a letter in Tat. No. 73, signed Will Trusty, and written by Mr. John Hughes. + Viscount Bolingbroke. | A compliment to Addison,