« AnteriorContinuar »
advantage from this practice; and think every scheme for promoting thought, study, and, above all things, virtue, should be communicated; for I am not yet so high flown in Calvinism, but that I would gladly hear and practise every method, even technical, to eradicate a passion, or to subdue an evil habit. Yours, &c.
Mr WILLIAM SMELLIE to ******
You have now fallen upon a most effectual method of squeezing a weekly word from
I am afraid, however, that I shall not be able to stretch it the length of a folio. As to Midwifery*, I doubt much that this will bear too hard on my poor purse. Five guineas is a great oath to swear by. Besides, as I am ignorant of the hour of at
* On this subject some observations follow in the original, which are here omitted as irrelevant in a niiscellaneous work, though no way improper in the free intercourse of philosophical and familiar correspondence.
tendance, I can say nothing definitive on the matter. No man is more welcome to tarry with me for a season than you are, provided you can conform yourself to my lodgings and humours. Every man, you know, has his own draff-pock*; yet, like all fools, I have the vanity to think myself, upon the whole, a good natured sort of fellow.
Quer. What is the most prudent and most practicable course to be taken, when a man is in love to the very back-bone, but has unluckily a taste which can by no means keep pace with his purse ? Again, supposing the passion reciprocal, whether is it better, as the females term it, to run all risks, or to drag out years in painful expectation? I leave the farther prosecution of this and all other matters to a future opportunity. Yours, &c.
P. S.-Expect my thoughts on snails against this day se'enight. Excuse my brevity and dullness; all this is after reading
* This Scoticism means, that every one has his own peculiar
of confounded law. You have made much the better choice. I shall be plaguily out with you, if I get not a whauker to
To Mr WILLIAM SMELLIE from *******
I have often thought that nature had formed you for giving instruction and reproof; and have therefore often wished you of that profession which stands most in need of these accomplishments. A little systematic knowledge is sufficient, where the more necessary and more useful accomplishments are in perfection. A few years would answer the demands of theology; if, instead of your twelve hours daily at musty lawisms*, you spent four with some fat pupil, and the other eight on theology. Mr Michael Greenlaw, I am told, was forty before he began his Latin, and now makes a first rate figure among the
In allusion to his employment of reading and correcting la papers.
Fife clergy. This is a matter, I believe, you have pondered already; though I know not if you ever determined finally.
Give you thanks for the stanzas of Young. They are very much in the style of his Night Thoughts, though rhyme does not appear to be his chief fort. I have not thoroughly studied the waters yet; but hope, from the notion I have got with one reading, and with the help of Johnson, that I shall thoroughly understand it. I have no queries with which to trouble you for next letter, except what you'll find in my last weeks little quarto.
Query. Why does the sense of pain make us
hold in our breath forcibly?
As to snails, there is a tolerable account of them in the Spectacle de la Nature. A very handsome discourse might be made of them. They have a very peculiar method of generating ; which take in the precise words of the said Spectacle. 66 When mutually inclined to propagation, one of them shoots a little arrow or dart at the other, which has four minute wings or sharp edges; and this dart either sticks in the other, or falls down by his side after a slight penetration. Upon this, another arrow is discharged in return at the aggressor. This pretty affray is soon adjusted, and a strict union immediately ensues. The substance of the dart or arrow resembles a piece of horn; and the reptiles are plentifully provided with these weapons at the season when the amorous engagements take VOL. I.