« AnteriorContinuar »
justly its own, it waited three days with the ut- The insect I am now describing lived three most impatience, repairing the breaches of its web, years ; every year it changed its skin, and got a and taking no sustenance that I could perceive. new set of legs. I have sometimes plucked off a At last, however, a large blue fly fell into the snare, leg, which grew again in two or three days. At and struggled hard to get loose. The spider gave first it dreaded my approach to its web, but at last it leave to entangle itself as much as possible, but it became so familiar as to take a fly out of my it seemed to be too strong for the cobweb. I must hand; and upon my touching any part of the web, own I was greatly surprised when I saw the spider would immediately leave its hole, prepared either immediately sally out, and in less than a minute for a defence or an attack. weave a new net round its captive, by which the Tocomplete this description, it may be observed, motion of its wings was stopped; and, when it was that the male spiders are much less than the female, fairly hampered in this manner, it was seized, and and that the latter are oviparous. When they come dragged into the hole.
to lay, they spread a part of their web under the In this manner it lived, in a precarious state; eggs, and then roll them up carefully, as we roll up and nature seemed to have fitted it for such a life, things in a cloth, and thus hatch them in their hole. for upon a single fly it subsisted for more than a If disturbed in their holes, they never attempt to week. I once put a wasp into the net; but when escape without carrying this young brood in their the spider came out in order to seize it as usual, forceps, away with them, and thus frequently are upon perceiving what kind of an enemy it had to sacrificed to their paternal affection. deal with, it instantly broke all the bands that held As soon as ever the young ones leave their arit fast, and contributed all that lay in its power to tificial covering, they begin to spin, and almost sento disengage so formidable an antagonist. When sibly seem to grow bigger. If they have the good the wasp was at liberty, I expected the spider fortune, when even but a day old, to catch a fly, would have set about repairing the breaches that they fall too with good appetites: but they live were made in its net, but those it seems were irre- sometimes three or four days without any sort of parable : wherefore the cobweb was now entirely sustenance, and yet still continue to grow larger, forsaken, and a new one begun, which was com- so as every day to double their former size. As pleted in the usual time.
they grow old, however, they do not still continue I had now a mind to try how many cobwebs a to increase, but their legs only continue to grow single spider could furnish ; wherefore I destroyed longer; and when a spider becomes entirely stiff this
, and the insect set about another. When I with age and unable to seize its prey, it dies at destroyed the other also, its whole stock seemed en- length of hunger. tirely exhausted, and it could spin no more.
The arts it made use of to support itself, now deprived THE CHARACTERISTICS OF GREATof its great means of subsistence, were indeed sur
NESS. prising. I have seen it roll up its legs like a ball, and lie motionless for hours together, but cautious- In every duty, in every science in which we ly watching all the time: when a fly happened to would wish to arrive at perfection, we should proapproach sufficiently near, it would dart out all at pose for the object of our pursuit some certain staand often seize its prey.
tion even beyond our abilities; some imaginary exof this life, however, it soon began , to grow cellence, which may amuse and serve to animate weary, and resolved to invade the possession of our inquiry. In deviating from others, in followsome other spider, since it could not make a web ing an unbeaten road, though we perhaps may of its own. It formed an attack upon a neighbour-never arrive at the wished-for object, yet it is possible ing fortification with great vigour, and at first was we may meet several discoveries by the way; and as vigorously repulsed. Not daunted, however, the certainty of small advantages, even while we with one defeat, in this manner it continued to lay travel with security, is not so amusing as the hopes siege to another's web for three days, and at length, of great rewards, which inspire the adventurer. having killed the defendant, actually took posses-Evenit nonnunquam, says Quintilian, ut aliquid sion. When smaller flies happen to fall into the grande inveniat qui semper quærit quod nimium share, the spider does not sally out at once, but est. very patiently waits till it is sure of them; for upon This enterprising spirit is, however, by no means his immediately approaching, the terror of his ap- the character of the present age : every person who pearance might give the captive strength sufficient should now leave received opinions, who should to get loose : the manner then is to wait patiently, attempt to be more than a commentator upon phitill by ineffectual and impotent struggles, the cap- losophy, or an imitator in polite learning, might be tive has wasted all its strength, and then he be- regarded as a chimerical projector. Hundreds comes a certain and easy conquest.
would be ready not only to point out his errors,
but to load him with reproach. Our probable opin-| above their deserts; projectors in the republic of ions are now regarded as certainties; the difficul- letters, never. If wrong, every inferior dunce ties hitherto undiscovered as utterly inscrutable ; thinks himself entitled to laugh at their disapand the last age inimitable, and therefore the pro- pointment; if right, men of superior talents think perest models of imitation.
their honour engaged to oppose, since every new One might be almost induced to deplore the phi- discovery is a tacit diminution of their own prelosophic spirit of the age, which, in proportion as eminence. it enlightens the mind, increases its timidity, and To aim at excellence, our reputation, our friends, represses the vigour of every undertaking. Men and our all must be ventured; by aiming only at are now content with being prudently in the right; mediocrity, we run no risk, and we do little service. which, though not the way to make new acquisi- Prudence and greatness are ever persuading us to tions, it must be owned, is the best method of se- contrary pursuits. The one instructs us to be curing what we have. Yet this is certain, that the content with our station, and to find happiness in writer who never deviates, who never hazards a new bounding every wish: the other impels us to suthought, or a new expression, though his friends periority, and calls nothing happiness but rapture. may compliment him upon his sagacity, though The one directs to follow mankind, and to act and criticism lifts her feeble voice in his praise, will think with the rest of the world : the other drives seldom arrive at any degree of perfection. The us from the crowd, and exposes us as a mark to all way to acquire lasting esteem, is not by the few- the shafts of envy or ignorance. ness of a writer's faults, but the greatness of his beauties; and our noblest works are generally most
Nec minus periculum ex magna fama quam ex mala replete with both.
Tacik An author who would be sublime, often runs his thought into burlesque; yet I can readily par- The rewards of mediocrity are immediately don his mistaking ten times for once succeeding. paid, those attending excellence generally paid in True genius walks along a line; and perhaps our reversion. In a word, the little mind who loves greatest pleasure is in seeing it so often near fall- itself, will write and think with the vulgar, but the ing, without being ever actually down.
great mind will be bravely eccentric, and scorn the Every science has its hitherto undiscovered mys- beaten road, from universal benevolence. teries, after which men should travel undiscouraged by the failure of former adventurers. Every new In this place our author introduces a paper, attempt serves perhaps to facilitate its future in- entitled a City Night Piece, with the following vention. We may not find the philosopher's motto from Martial. stone, but we shall probably hit upon new inventions in pursuing it. We shall perhaps never be Ille dolet vere, qui sine teste dolet. able to discover the longitude, yet perhaps we may arrive at new truths in the investigation.
This beautiful Essay forms the 117th letter in Were any of those sagacious minds among us the Citizen of the World; but Dr. Goldsmith has (and surely no nation, or no person, could ever there omitted the concluding paragraph, which, on compare with us in this particular); were any of account of its singular merit, we shall here prethose minds, I say, who now sit down contented serve. with exploring the intricacies of another's system, bravely to shake off admiration, and, undazzled But let me turn from a scene of such distress to with the splendour of another's reputation, to the sanctified hypocrite, who has been talking of chalk out a path to fame for themselves, and boldly virtue till the time of bed, and now steals out to cultivate untried experiment, what might not be give a loose to his vices under the protection of the result of their inquiries, should the same study midnight: vices more atrocious because he atthat has made them wise make them enterprising tempts to conceal them. See how he pants down also? What could not such qualities united pro- the dark alley; and, with hastening steps, fears an duce? But such is not the character of the Eng- acquaintance in every face. He has passed the lish: while our neighbours of the continent launch whole day in company he hates, and now goes to out into the ocean of science, without proper store prolong the night among company that as heartily for the voyage, we fear shipwreck in every breeze, hate him. May his vices be detected ! may the and consume in port those powers which might morning rise upon his shame! Yet I wish to no probably have weathered every storm.
purpose; villany, when detected, never gives up, Projectors in a state are generally rewarded but boldly adds impudence to imposture.
disinterested, and laborious members of society; THE BEE, No. V.
but does it not at present point out a different path ? It teaches us to multiply our wants, by which
means we become more eager to possess, in order SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1759.
to dissipate, a greater charge to ourselves, and
more useless or obnoxious to society. UPON POLITICAL FRUGALITY.
If a youth happens to be possessed of more ge
nius than fortune, he is early informed, that he FRUGALITY has ever been esteemed a virtue as ought to think of his advancement in the world; well among Pagans as Christians: there have been that he should labour to make himself pleasing to even heroes who have practised it. However, we his superiors; that he should shun low company must acknowledge, that it is too modest a virtue, (by which is meant the company of his equals); or, if you will, too obscure a one, to be essential to that he should rather live a little above than below heroism ; few heroes have been able to attain to his fortune; that he should think of becoming such a height. Frugality agrees much better with great : but he finds none to admonish him to bepolitics ; it seems to be the base, the support, and, come frugal, to persevere in one single design, to in a word, seems to be the inseparable companion avoid every pleasure and all fattery which, howof a just administration.
ever seeming to conciliate the favour of his supeHowever this be, there is not perhaps in the riors, never conciliate their esteem. There are world a people less fond of this virtue than the none to teach him, that the best way of becoming English; and of consequence, there is not a na- happy in himself, and useful to others, is to contion more restless, more exposed to the uneasiness tinue in the state in which fortune at first placed of life, or less capable of providing for particular him, without making too hasty strides to advancehappiness. We are taught to despise this virtue ment; that greatness may be attained, but should from our childhood, our education is improperly not be expected; and that they who most impadirected, and a man who has gone through the po- tiently expect advancement, are seldom possessed litest institutions, is generally the person who is of their wishes. He has few, I say, to teach him least acquainted with the wholesome precepts of this lesson, or to moderate his youthful passions; frugality. We every day hear the elegance of yet this experience may say, that a young man, taste, the magnificence of some, and the generosity who, but for six years of the early part of his life, of others, made the subject of our admiration and could seem divested of all his passions, would applause. All this we see represented, not as the certainly make, or considerably increase his forend and recompense of labour and desert, but as tune, and might indulge several of his favourthe actual result of genius, as the mark of a noble ite inclinations in manhood with the utmost seand exalted mind.
curity. In the midst of these praises bestowed on luxury, The efficaciousness of these means is sufficiently for which elegance and taste are but another name, known and acknowledged; but as we are apt to perhaps it may be thought improper to plead the connect a low idea with all our notions of frugality, cause of frugality. It may be thought low, or the person who would persuade us to it might be vainly declamatory, to exhort our youth from the accused of preaching up avarice. follies of dress, and of every other superfluity; to Of all vices, however, against which morality accustom themselves, even with mechanic mean- dissuades, there is not one more undetermined ness, to the simple necessaries of life. Such sort than this of avarice. Misers are described by of instructions may appear antiquated; yet, how- some, as men divested of honour, sentiment, or huever, they seem the foundations of all our virtues, manity; but this is only an ideal picture, or the reand the most efficacious method of making man- semblance at least is found but in a few. In truth, kind useful members of society. Unhappily, how-they who are generally called misers, are some of ever, such discourses are not fashionable among the very best members of society. The sober, us, and the fashion seems every day growing still the laborious, the attentive, the frugal
, are thus more obsolete, since the press, and every other styled by the gay, giddy, thoughtless, and extramethod of exhortation, seems disposed to talk of vagant. The first set of men do society all the the luxuries of life as harmless enjoyments. I re- good, and the latter all the evil that is felt. Even member, when a boy, to have remarked, that those the excesses of the first no way injure the comwho in school wore the finest clothes, were pointed monwealth ; those of the latter are the most inat as being conceited and proud. At present, our jurious that can be conceived. little masters are taught to consider dress betimes, The ancient Romans, more rational than we in and they are regarded, even at school
, with con- this particular, were very far from thus misplacing tempt
, who do not appear as genteel as the rest. their admiration or praise ; instead of regarding Education should teach us to become useful, sober, the practice of parsimony as low or vicious, they
made it synonymous even with probity. They es- turning them to some more durable indications of teemed those virtues so inseparable, that the known joy, more glorious for him, and more advantageous expression of Vir Frugi signified, at one and the to his people. same time, a sober and managing man, an honest After such instances of political frugality, can man, and a man of substance.
we then continue to blame the Dutch ambassador The Scriptures, in a thousand places, praise at a certain court, who, receiving at his departure economy; and it is every where distinguished from the portrait of the king, enriched with diamonds, avarice. But in spite of all its sacred dictates, a asked what this fine thing might be worth? Being taste for vain pleasures and foolish expense is the told that it might amount to about two thousand ruling passion of the present times. Passion, did pounds, "And why," cries he, "can not his majesI call it? rather the madness which at once possesses ty keep the picture and give the money?” The the great and the little, the rich and the poor : even simplicity may be ridiculed at first; but when we some are so intent upon acquiring the superfluities come to examine it more closely, men of sense wi] of life that they sacrifice its necessaries in this fool- at once confess that he had reason in what he sail ish pursuit.
and that a purse of two thousand guineas is much To attempt the entire abolition of luxury, as it more serviceable than a picture. would be impossible, so it is not my intent. The Should we follow the same method of state frogenerality of mankind are too weak, too much gality in other respects, what numberless avings slaves to custom and opinion, to resist the torrent might not be the result! How many possibilities of bad example. But if it be impossible to convert of saving in the administration of justice, which the multitude, those who have received a more ex- now burdens the subject, and enriches some med tended education, who are enlightened and judi-bers of society, who are useful only from its corcious, may find some hints on this subject useful. ruption! They may see some abuses, the suppression of It were to be wished, that they who govern kingwhich would by no means endanger public liberty ; doms would imitate artisans. When at London a they may be directed to the abolition of some un- new stuff has been invented, it is immediately necessary expenses, which have no tendency to counterfeited in France. How happy were it for promote happiness or virtue, and which might be society, if a first minister would be equally solicitdirected to better purposes. Our fire-works, ourous to transplant the useful laws of other countries public feasts and entertainments, our entries of am- into his own. We are arrived at a perfect imitabassadors, etc.; what mummery all this! what tion of porcelain ; let us endeavour to imitate the childish pageants! what millions are sacrificed in good to society that our neighbours are found to paying tribute to custom! what an unnecessary practise, and let our neighbours also imitate those charge at times when we are pressed with real parts of duty in which we excel. want, which can not be satisficd without burdening There are some men, who in their garden afthe poor!
tempt to raise those fruits which nature has adaptWere such suppressed entirely, not a single ed only to the sultry climates beneath the line. We creature in the state would have the least cause to have at our very doors a thousand laws and cusmourn their suppression, and many might be eased toms infinitely useful: these are the fruits we should of a load they now feel lying heavily upon them. endeavour to transplant; these the exotics that If this were put in practice, it would agree with the would speedily become naturalized tothe soil. They advice of a sensible writer of Sweden, who, in the might grow in every climate, and benefit every posGazette de France, 1753, thus expressed himself sessor. on that subject. “It were sincerely to be wished," The best and the most useful laws I have ever says he, "that the custom were established amongst seen, are generally practised in Holland. When us, that in all events which cause a public joy, we two men are determined to go to law with each made our exultations conspicuous only by acts use other, they are first obliged to go before the reconful to society. We should then quickly see many ciling judges, called the peace-makers. If the useful monuments of our reason, which would parties come attended with an advocate, or a somuch better perpetuate the memory of things worthy licitor, they are obliged to retire, as we take fuel of being transmitted to posterity, and would be from the fire we are desirous of extinguishing. much more glorious to humanity, than all those The peace makers then begin advising the partumultuous preparations of feasts, entertainments, ties, by assuring them, that it is the height of foly and other rejoicings used upon such occasions." to waste their substance, and make themselves
The same proposal was long before confirmed by mutually miserable, by having recourse to the tria Chinese emperor, who lived in the last century, bunals of justice; follow but our direction, and we who, upon an occasion of extraordinary joy, forbade will accommodate matters without any expense to his subjects to make the usual illuminations, either either. If the rage of debate is too strong upon with a design of sparing their substance, or of either party, they are remitted back for another
day, in order that time may soften their tempers, |and excess, and, either in a religious or political and produce a reconciliation. They are thus sent light, it would be our highest interest to have the for twice or thrice: if their folly happens to be in- greatest part of them suppressed. They should be curable, they are permitted to go to law, and as put under laws of not continuing open beyond a we give up to amputation such members as can certain hour, and harbouring only proper persons. not be cured by art, justice is permitted to take its These rules, it may be said, will diminish the necourse.
cessary taxes; but this is false reasoning, since what It is unnecessary to make here long declamations, was consumed in debauchery abroad, would, if or calculate what society would save, were this law such a regulation took place, be more justly, and adopted. I am sensible, that the man who advises perhaps more equitably for the workman's family, any reformation, only serves to make himself ridi- spent at home; and this cheaper to them, and withculous. What! mankind will be apt to say, adopt out loss of time. On the other hand, our alehouses the customs of countries that have not so much real being ever open, interrupt business; the workman liberty as our own! our present customs, what are is never certain who frequents them, nor can the they to any man? we are very happy under them: master be sure of having what was begun, finished this must be a very pleasant fellow, who attempts at the convenient time. to make us happier than we already are! Does he A habit of frugality among the lower orders of not know that abuses are the patrimony of a great mankind, is much more beneficial to society than part of the nation? Why deprive us of a malady the unreflecting might imagine. The pawnbroker, by which such numbers find their account? This, the attorney, and other pests of society, might, by I must own, is an argrment to which I have no- proper management, be turned into serviceable thing to reply.
members; and, were their trades abolished, it is What numberless savings might there not be possible the same avarice that conducts the one, or made in both arts and commerce, particularly in the same chicanery that characterizes the other, the liberty of exercising trade, without the neces- might, by proper regulations, be converted into sary prerequisites of freedom! Such useless ob- frugality and commendable prudence. structions have crept into every state, from a spirit But some, who have made the eulogium of luxof monopoly, a narrow selfish spirit of gain, with- ury, have represented it as the natural consequence out the least attention to general society. Such a of every country that is become rich. Did we not clog upon industry frequently drives the poor from employ our extraordinary wealth in superfluities, labour, and reduces them by degrees to a state of say they, what other means would there be to emhopeless indigence. We have already a more than ploy it in? To which it may be answered, if frusufficient repugnance to labour ; we should by no gality were established in the state, if our expenses means increase the obstacles, or make excuses in a were laid out rather in the necessaries than the state for idleness. Such faults have ever crept superfluities of life, there might be fewer wants, into a state, under wrong or needy administra- and even fewer pleasures, but infinitely more haptions.
piness. The rich and the great would be better Exclusive of the masters, there are numberless able to satisfy their creditors; they would be better faulty expenses among the workmen; clubs, garn- able to marry their children, and, instead of one ishes, freedoms, and such like impositions, which marriage at present, there might be two, if such are not too minute even for law to take notice of, regulations took place. and which should be abolished without mercy, The imaginary calls of vanity, which in reality since they are ever the inlets to excess and idle- contribute nothing to our real felicity, would not ness, and are the parent of all those outrages which then be attended to, while the real calls of nature naturally fall upon the more useful part of society. might be always and universally supplied. The In the towns and countries I have seen, I never difference of employment in the subject is what, in saw a city or village yet, whose miseries were not reality, produces the good of society. If the subin proportion to the number of its public-houses. ject be engaged in providing only the luxuries, the In Rotterdam, you may go through eight or ten necessaries must be deficient in proportion. If, streets without finding a public-house. In Ant- neglecting the produce of our own country, our werp, almost every second house seems an ale- minds are set upon the productions of another, we house. In the one city, all wears the appearance increase our wants, but not our means; and every of happiness and warm afluence; in the other, the new imported delicacy for our tables, or ornament young fellows walk about the streets in shabby in our equipage, is a tax upon the poor. finery, their fathers sit at the door darning or knit- The true interest of every government is to culting stockings
, while their ports are filled with tivate the necessaries, by which is always meant dunghills.
every happiness our own country can produce; Alebouses are over an occasion of debauchery and suppress all the luxuries, by which is meant,