Imagens da página

tempt. He still, however, continued his former fimplicity of life, his amazing and unremitted frugality. This good man had long perceived the wants of the poor in the city, particularly, in having no water but what they were obliged to buy at an advanced price ; wherefore, that whole fortune, which he had been amassing, he laid out in an aqueduct, by which he did the poor more useful and lasting service, than if he had distributed his whole income in charity every day at his door.

Among men long conversant with books, we too frequently find those misplaced virtues, of which I have been now complaining. We find the studious animated with a strong passion for the great virtues, as they are mistakenly called, and utterly forgetful of the ordinary ones. The declamations of philofophy are generally rather exhausted on these supererogatory duties, than on such as are indispensably necessary. A man, therefore, who has taken his ideas of mankind from study alone, generally comes into the world with an heart melting at every fictitious distress. Thus he is induced by misplaced liberality, to put himself into the indigent circumstances of the person he relieves.

I shall conclude this paper with the advice of one of the Antients, to a young man whom he saw giving away all his substance to pretended disterss. * It is possible, that the person you relieve may “ be an honest man; and I know that you who “ relieve him are such. You see, then, by your “ generosity, you only rob a man, who is certainly “ deserving, to bestow it on one who may possibly “ be a rogue. And while you are unjust in reward

ing uncertain merit, you are doubly guilty by “ stripping yourself.”





Primus niortalés tollere contra
Eft oculos anfus, primusque affurgere contra.


The Spanish nation has, for many centuries past, been remarkable for the grossest ignorance in polite literature, especially in point of natural philosophy; a science so useful to mankind, that her neighbours have ever esteemed it a matter of the greatest importance, to endeavour by repeated experiments to strike a light out of the chaos, in which truth seemed to be confounded. Their curiofity in this respect was so indifferent, that, though they had discovered new worlds, they were at a loss to explain the phænomena of their own, and their pride lo unaccountable, that they disdained to borrow from others that instruction, which their natural indolence permitted them not to acquire.

It gives me, however, a secret satisfaction, to behold an extraordinary genius now existing in that nation, whose studious endeavours seem calculated to undeceive the superstitious, and instruct the ignorant : I mean the celebrated Padre Freijo. In unfavelling the mysteries of Nature, and explaining physical experiments, he takes an opportunity of displaying the concurrence of second causes in those very wonders, which the vulgar ascribe to supernatural influence.

An example of this kind happened a few years ago in a small town of the kingdom of Valencia. Passing through at the hour of mass, he alighted VOL. IV.



from his mule, and proceeded to the parish-church, which he found extremely crouded, and there appeared on the faces of the faithful a more than usual alacrity. The sun, it seems, which had been for some minutes under a cloud, had begun to shine on a large crucifix, that stood on the middle of the altar, studded with several precious stones. The reflexion from these, and from the diamond eyes of some silver saints, fo dazzled the multitude, , that they unanimously cried out, A miracle ! a miracle ! whilst the priest at the altar, with seeming confternation, continued his heavenly conversation. Padre Freijo soon diffipated the charm, by tying his handkerchief round the head of one of the ftatues, for which he was arraigned by the inquisition; whose flames, however, he has had the good fortune hitherto to escape.

[ocr errors][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

WERE I to measure the merit of my present un. dertaking by its success, or the rapidity of its sale, I might be led to form conclufions by no means favourable to the pride of an author. Should I estimate my fame by its extent, every Newspaper and Magazine would leave me far behind. Their fame is diffused in a very wide circle, that of some as far as INington, and some yet farther still : while mine, I sincerely believe, has hardly travelled beyond the found of Bow bell; and while the works of others fly like unpinioned swans, I find my own move as heavily as a new-plucked goose.

Still, however, I have as much pride as they who have ten times as many readers. It is impossible to repeat all the agreable delusions, in which a disappointed author is apt to find comfort. I conclude, that what my reputation wants in extent, is made by its folidity. Minus juvat Gloria lata quam magna. I have great fatisfaction in considering the delicacy and discernment of those readers I have, and in alcribing my want of popularity to the ignorance or inattention of those I have not.

All the world may forsake an author, but vanity will never forsake him.

Yet notwithstanding so sincere a confeffion, I was ence induced to show my indignation against the



public, by discontinuing my endeavours to please ; and was bravely resolved, like Raleigh, to vex them by burning my manuscript in a paflion. Upon recollection, however, I considered what set or body of people would be displeased at my rashness. The sun, after so fad an accident, might shine next morning as bright as usual ; men might laugh and sing the next day, and transact business as before, and not a single creature feel any regret but myself. .

I reflected upon the story of a minister, who in the reign of Charles II. upon a certain occasion, refigned all his posts, and retired into the country in a fit of resentment. But as he had not given the world entirely up with his ambition, he fent a mefsenger to town, to see how the courtiers would bear his resignation. Upon the messenger's return he was asked whether there appeared any commotion at court ? To which he replied, There were very great

“ Ay, says the minister, I knew my friends “ would make a bustle ; all petitioning the king for

my restoration, I presume." " No, Sir, replied the messenger, they are only petitioning his ma

jesty to be put in your place.” In the same manner, fhould I retire in indignation, instead of having Apollo in mourning, or the Muses in a fit of the spleen; instead of having the learned world apostrophising at my untimely decease, perhaps all Grubstreet might laugh at my fall, and self-approving dignity might never be able to fhield me from ridicule. In short, I am resolved to write on, if it were only to spite them. If the prefent generation will not hear my voice, hearken, O pofterity, to you I call, and from you I expect redress! will it not give to have the Scaligers, Daciers, and Warburtons of future times commenting with admiration upon every line I now write, workin gaway those ignorant creatures, who offer to arraign my merit,


What rapture

« AnteriorContinuar »