ePub 版

tenance, such satisfaction and joy, that I thought it the most desirable form that I had ever seen. He was clothed in a flowing mantle of green silk, interwoven with flowers : he had a chaplet of roses on his head, and a narcissus in his hand; primroses and violets sprang up ander his feet, and all nature was cheered at his approach. Flora was on one hand, and Vertumnus on the other, in a robe of changeable silk. After this, I was surprised to see the moon-beams reflected with a sudden glare from armour, and to see a man completely armed advancing with his sword drawn. I was soon informed by the genius it was Mars, who had long usurped a place among the attendants of the Spring.' He made way for a softer appearance. It was Venus, without any ornament but her own beauties, not so much as her own cestus, with which she had encompassed a globe, which she held in her right hand, and in her left hand she had a sceptre of gold. After her, followed the Graces, with their arms entwined within one another: their girdles were loosed, and they moved to the sound of soft music, striking the ground alternately with their feet. Then came up the three Months which belong to this season. As March advanced towards me, there was, methought, in his look a louring roughness, which ill be fitted a month which was ranked in so soft a season; bút as he came forwards, his features became insensibly more mild and gentle; he smoothed his brow, and looked with so sweet a countenance, that I could not but lament his departure, though he made way for April. He appeared in the greatest gaiety imaginable, and had a thousand pleasures to attend him: his look was frequently clouded, but immediately returned to its first composure, and remained fixed in a smile. Then came May, attended by Cupid, with his bow strung, and in a posture to let fly an arrow: as he passed by, methought I heard a confused noise of soft complaints, gentle ecstasies, and tender sighs of lovers ; vows of constancy, and as many complainings of perfidiousness: all which the winds wafted away as soon as they had reached my hearing. After these, I saw a man advance in the full prime and vigour of his age; his complexion was sanguine and ruddy, his hair black, and fell down in beautiful ringlets beneath his shoulders ; a mantle of hair-coloured silk hung loosely upon him; he

advanced with a hasty step after the Spring, and sought out the shade and cool fountains which played in the garden. He was particularly well pleased when a troop of Zephyrs fanned him with their wings. He had two coma panions who walked on each side, that made him appear the most agreeable: the one was Aurora with fingers of roses, and her feet dewy, attired in gray: the other was Vesper, in a robe of azure beset with drops of gold, whose breath he caught whilst it passed over a bundle of honey. suckles and tuberoses which he held in his hand. Pan and Ceres followed them with four reapers, who danced a morrice to the sound of oaten pipes and cymbals. Then came the attendant Months. June retained still some small likeness of the Spring; but the other two seemed to step with a less vigorous tread, especially Augnst, who seemed almost to faint, whilst for half the steps he took, the dog-star levelled his rays full at his head. They passed on, and made way for a person that seemed to bend a little under the weight of years; his beard and hair, which were full grown, were composed of an equal number of black and gray; he wore a robe which he had girt round him, of a yellowish cast, not unlike the colour of fallen leaves, which he walked upon. I thought he hardly made amends for expelling the foregoing scene by the large quantity of fruits which he bore in his hands. Plenty walked by his side with a healthy fresh countenance, pouring out from a horn all the various products of the year. Pomona followed with a glass of cider in her hand, with Bacchus in a chariot drawn by tigers, accompanied by a whole troop of satyrs, fauns, and sylvans, September, who came next, seemed in his looks to promise a new Spring, and wore the livery of those months. The succeeding month was all soiled with the juice of grapes, as if he had just come from the wine-press. No. vember, though he was in this division, yet, by the many stops he made, seemed rather inclined to the Winter, which followed close at his heels. He advanced in the shape of an old man in the extremity of age; the hair he had was so very white, it seemed a real snow; his eyes were red and piercing, and his beard hung with a great quantity of icicles; he was wrapped up in furs, but yet so pinched with excess of cold, that his limbs were all con

tracted, and his body bent to the ground, so that he could not have supported himself had it not been for Comus, the god of revels, and Necessity, the mother of Fate, who sustained him on each side. The shape and mantle of Comus was one of the things that most surprised me : as he advanced towards me, his countenance seemed the most desirable I had ever seen. On the fore part of his mantle was pictured joy, delight, and satisfaction, with a thousand emblems of merriment, and jests with faces looking two ways at once ; but as he passed from me I was amazed at a shape so little correspondent to his face; his head was bald, and all the rest of his limbs appeared old and deformed. On the hinder part of his mantle was represented Murder* with dishevelled hair and a dagger all bloody, Anger in a robe of scarlet, and Suspicion squinting with both eyes; but above all, the most conspicuous was the battle of the Lapithæ and the Centaurs. I detested so hideous a shape, and turned my eyes upon Saturn, who was stealing away behind him, with a scythe in one hand and an hour-glass in the other, unobserved. Behind Necessity was Vesta, the goddess of fire, with a lamp which was perpetually supplied with oil, and whose flame was eternal. She cheered the rugged brow of Necessity, and warmed her so far as almost to make her assume the features and likeness of Choice. December, January, and February, passed on after the rest, all in furs; there was little distinction to be made amongst them; and they were only more or less displeasing, as they discovered more or less haste towards the grateful return of Spring.”


N°426. WEDNESDAY, JULY 9, 1712.

-Quid non mortalia pectora cogis,
Auri sacra fames ?-VIRG. Æn. iii. 56.
O cursed hunger of pernicious gold!

What bands of faith can impious lucre hold ?-DRYDEN.
VERY agreeable friend of mine, the other day,

carrying me in his coach into the country to dinner, fell into discourse concerning the “ care of parents

• The English are branded, perhaps unjustly, with being addicted to suicide about this time of the year.


due to their children,” and the “piety of children towards their parents.”. He was reflecting upon the succession of particular virtues and qualities there might be preserved from one generation to another, if these regards were reciprocally held in veneration ; but as he never fails to mix an air of mirth and good-humour with his good sense and reasoning, he entered into the following relation :

“ I will not be confident in what century, or under what reign it happened, that this want of mutual confidence and right understanding between father and son was fatal to the family of the Valentines in Germany. Basilius Valentinus was a person who had arrived at the utmost perfection in the hermetic art, and initiated his son Alexandrinus in the same mysteries; but, as you know they are not to be attained but by the painful, the pious, the chaste, and pure of heart, Basilius did not open to him, because of his youth, and the deviations too natural to it, the greatest secrets of which he was master, as well knowing that the operation would fail in the hands of a man so liable to errors in life as Alexandrinus. But believing, from a certain indisposition of mind as well as body, his dissolution was drawing nigh, he called Alexandrinus to him, and as he lay on a couch, over-against which his son was seated, and prepared by sending out servants one after another, and admonition to examine that no one overheard them, he revealed the most important of his secrets with the solemnity and language of an adept. - My son,' said he, many have been the watchings, long the lucubrations, constant the labours of thy father, not only to gain a great and plentiful estate to his posterity, but also to take care that he should have no posterity. Be not amazed, my child : I do not mean that thou shalt be taken from me, but that I will never leave thee, and consequently cannot be said to have posterity. Behold, my dearest Alexandrinus, the effect of what was propagated in nine months. We are not to contradict nature, but to follow and to help her; just as long as an infant is in the womb of its parent, so long are these medicines of revivification in preparing. Observe this small phial and this little gallipot-in this an unguent, in the other a liquor. In these, my child, are collected such powers, as shall revive the springs of life when they are yet but just ceased,


[ocr errors]

and give new strength, new spirits, and, in a word, wholly
restore all the organs and senses of the human body to as
great a duration as it had before enjoyed from its birth to
the day of the application of these my medicines. But,

son, care must be taken to apply them within ten hours after the breath is out of the body, while yet the clay is warm with its late life, and yet capable of resusci. tation. I find my frame grown crazy with perpetual toil and meditation ; and I conjure you, as soon as I am dead, to anoint me with this unguent; and when you see me begin to move, pour into my lips this inestimable liquor, else the force of the ointment will be ineffectual. By this means you will give me life as I have you, and we will from that hour mutually lay aside the authority of having bestowed life on each other, live as brethren, and prepare new medicines against such another period of time as will demand another application of the same restoratives.' In a few days after these wonderful ingredients were delivered to Alexandrinus, Basilius departed this life. But şuch was the pious sorrow of the son at the loss of so excellent a father, and the first transports of grief had so wholly disabled him from all manner of business, that he never thought of the medicines till the time to which his father had limited their efficacy was expired. To tell the truth, Alexandrinus was a man of wit and pleasure, and eonsidered his father had lived out his natural time; his life was long and uniform, suitable to the regularity of it; but that he himself, poor sinner, wanted a new life, to repent of a very bad one hitherto, and, in the examination of his heart, resolved to go on as he did with this natural being of his, but to repent very faithfully, and spend very piously the life to which he should be restored by application of these rarities, when time should come, to his own person.

“ It has been observed, that Providence frequently punishes the self-love of men, who would do immoderately for their own offspring, with children very much below their characters and qualifications; insomuch that they only transmit their names to be borne by those who give daily proofs of the vanity of the labour and ambition of their progenitors.

* It happened thus in the family of Basilius; for Alex

« 上一頁繼續 »