« AnteriorContinuar »
from above, or to his palace by brooms from below; when it was the pleasure of fortune to conduct thither a wandering bee, to whose curiosity a broken pane in the glass had discovered itself; and in he went; where, expatiating awhile, he at last happened to alight upon one of the outward walls of the spider's citadel, which, yielding to the unequal weight, sunk down to the very foundation. Thrice he endeavoured to force his passage, and thrice the centre shook. The spider within, feeling the terrible convulsion, supposed at first, that nature was approaching to her final dissolution, or else, that Beelzebub with all his legions was come to revenge the death of many thousand of his subjects, whom this enemy had slain and devoured. However, he at length valiantly resolved to issue forth, and meet his fate. Meanwhile the bee had acquitted himself of his toils; and, posted securely at some distance, was employed in cleansing his wings, and disengaging them from the rugged remnants of the cobweb. By this time the spider was adventured out, when, beholding the chasms, and ruins, and dilapidations of his fortress, he was very near at his wits' end, he stormed and swore like a madman, and swelled till he was ready to burst. At length, casting his eye upon the bee, and wisely gathering causes from events (for they knew each other by sight), “A plague split you,” said he, “ for a giddy puppy; it is you,
a vengeance, that have made this litter here? Could you not look before you? Do you think I have nothing else to do than to mend and repair after you ?”
“ Good words,
friend,” said the bee (having now pruned himself and being disposed to be droll): “I'll give you my hand and word to come near your kennel no more, I was never in such a confounded pickle since I was born !" “Sirrah,” replied the spider, “if it were not for breaking an old custom in our family, never to stir abroad against an enemy, I should come and teach you better manners.” “I pray have patience,” said the bee, “or you will spend your substance, and for ought I see, you may stand in need of it all towards the repair of your house." "Rogue, rogue,” replied the spider; "yet methinks you should have more respect to a person whom all the world allows to be so much
betters." “By my troth,” said the bee, “the comparison will amount to a very good jest; and you will do me a favour to let me know the reasons that all the world is pleased to use in so hopeful a dispute.” At this the spider, having swelled himself into the size and posture of a disputant, began his argument in the true spirit of controversy, with a resolution to be heartily scurrilous and angry; to
his own reasons without the least regard to the answers or objections of his opposite; and fully predetermined in his mind against all conviction.
“ Not to disparage myself,” said he,“ by the comparison with such a rascal, what art thou but a vagabond, without house or home, without stock or inheritance: born to no possession of your own but a pair of wings and a drone-pipe. Your livelihood is a universal plunder upon nature; a freebooter over fields and gardens; and for the sake of stealing, you will rob a nettle as easily as a violet: whereas, I am a domestic animal, furnished with a native stock within myself. This large castle (to show my improvements in the mathematics) is all built with my own hands, and the materials extracted altogether out of my own person.”
"I am glad," answered the bee,“ to hear you grant, at least, that I am come honestly by my wings and my voice; for then, it seems, I am obliged to Heaven alone for my flights and my music; and Providence would never have bestowed on me two such gifts, without designing them for the noblest ends. I visit, indeed, all the flowers and blossoms of the field and the garden; but whatever I collect from thence enriches myself, without the least injury to their beauty, their smell or their taste. Now, for you and your skill in architecture and other mathematics, I have little to say; in that building of yours there might, for aught I know, have been labour and method enough; but by woful experience for us both, it is too plain the materials are naught, and I hope you will henceforth take warning, and consider duration and matter as well as method and art. You boast, indeed, of being obliged to no other creature, but of drawing and spinning out all from yourself; that is to say, if we may judge of the liquor in the vessel by what issues out, you possess a good plentiful store of dirt and poison in your breast; and though I would by no means lessen or disparage your genuine stock of either, yet I doubt you are somewhat obliged, for an increase of both, to a little foreign assistance. Your inherent portion of dirt does not fail of acquisitions, by sweepings exhaled from below; and one insect furnishes you with a share of poison to destroy another. So that, in short, the question comes all to this ; whether is the nobler being of the two, that which, by a lazy contemplation of four inches round; by an overweening pride, which feeding and engendering on itself, turns all into venom, producing nothing at all but flybane and a cobweb; or that which, by a universal range, with long search, much study, true judgment, and distinction of things, brings home honey and wax ?"
This dispute was managed with such eagerness, clamour and warmth, that the two parties of books in arms below, stood silent awhile, waiting in suspense what would be the issue : which was not long undetermined; for the bee grown impatient at so much loss of time, fled straight away to a bed of roses, without looking for a reply; and left the spider like an orator collected in himself, and just prepared to burst out.
THE TEMPLE OF FAME.
I dreamed that I was conveyed into a wide and boundless plain, that was covered with prodigious multitudes of people, which no man could number. In the midst of it there stood a mountain with its head above the clouds. The sides were extremely steep, and of such a particular structure that no creature which was not made in a human figure could possibly ascend it. On a sudden, there was heard from the top of it, a
sound like that of a trumpet; but so exceedingly sweet and harmonious, that it filled the hearts of those who heard it with raptures, and gave such high and delightful sensations, as seemed to animate and raise human nature above itself. This made me very much amazed to find so very few in that innumerable multitude who had ears fine enough to hear or relish this music with pleasure ; but my wonder abated, when, upon looking round
me, I saw most of them attentive to three sirens, clothed like goddesses, and distinguished by the names of Sloth, Ignorance, and Pleasure. They were seated on three rocks, amid a beautiful variety of groves, meadows, and rivulets, that lay on the borders of the mountain. While the base and grovelling multitude of different nations, ranks, and ages, were listening to these delusive deities, those of a more erect aspect, and exalted spirit, separated themselves from the rest, and marched in great bodies towards the mountain, from whence they heard the sound, which grew still sweeter, the more they listened to it.
On a sudden, methought, this select band sprang forward, with a resolution to climb the ascent, and follow the call of that heavenly music. Every one took something with him, that he thought might be of assistance to him in his march. Several had their swords drawn, some carried rolls of paper in their hands, some had compasses, others quadrants, others telescopes, and others pencils; some had laurels on their heads, and others buskins on their legs : in short, there was scarce any instrument of mechanic art or