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Methinks,” says I, “ such innocent folly as two old women's courtship to each other, should rather make you merry than put you out of humour." “ Peace, good Isaac,” says he,“ po interruption I beseech you. I got soon to Mrs. Feeble's, she that was formerly Betty Frisk; you must needs remember her; Tom Feeble of Brazen Nose fell in love with her for her fine dancing. Well, Mrs. Ursula, without further ceremony, carries me directly up to her mistress's chamber, where I found her environed by four of the most mischievous animals that can ever infest a family; an old shock dog with one eye, a monkey chained to one side of the chimney, a great grey squirrel to the other, and a parrot waddling in the middle of the room. However, for a while, all was in a profound tranquillity. Upon the mantletree, for I am a pretty curious observer, stood a pot of lambetive electuary, with a stick of liquorice, and near it a phial of rose-water, and powder of tutty. Upon the table lay a pipe filled with betony and colt’s-foot, a roll of wax-candle, a silver spitting-pot, and a Seville orange. The lady was placed in a large wicker chair, and her feet wrapped up in flannel, supported by cushions; and in this attitude, would you believe it, Isaac, was she reading a romance with spectacles on. The first compliments aver, as she was industriously endeavouring to enter upon conversation, a violent fit of coughing seized her. This awaked Shock, and in a trice the whole room was in an uproar; for the dog barked, the squirrel squealed, the monkey chattered, the parrot screamed, and Ursula, to appease them, was more glamourous than all the rest. You, Isaac, who know how any harsh noise affects my head, may guess wliat I suffered from the hideous din of these discordant sounds. At length all was appeased, and quiet restored : a chair was drawn for me; where I was no sooner seated, but the parrot fixed his horny beak, as sharp as a pair of sheers, in one of my heels, just above the shoe. I spruny from the place with an unusual agility, and so, being within the monkey's reach, he snatches off any new bob-wig, and throws it upon two apples that were roasting by a sullen sea-coal fire. I was nimble enough to save it from any further damage than singing the fore top. I put it on; and composing myself as well as I could, I drew my chair to the other side of the chimney. The good lady, as soon as she had recovered breath, employed it in making a thousand apologies, and, with great eloquence, and a numerous train of words, lamented my misfortune. In the middle of her harangue, I felt something scratching near my knee, and feeling what it should be, found the squirrel had got into my coat-pocket, As I endeavoured to remove him from bis burrow, he made his teeth meet through the fleshy part of my fore-finger. This gave me an unexpressible pain. The Hungary water was immediately brought to bathe it, and gold-beater's skin applied to stop the blood. The lady renewed her excuses; but being now out of all patience, I abruptly took my leave, and hobbling down stairs with heedJess haste, I set my foot full in a pail of water, and down we came to the bottom together.” Here my friend concluded his narrative, and, with a coinposed countenance, I began to make hiin compliments of condolence; but he started from his chair, and said, “. Isaac, you may spare your speeches, I expect no reply. When I told you this, I knew you would laugh at me; but the next woman that makes me ridiculous shall be a young one."
N° 267. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 23, 1710.
Qui genus humanum ingenio superavit, et omnes
LUCR, iii, 1056.
His genius quite obscur'd the brightest ray
From my own Apartment, December 22. I HAVE heard that it is a rule among the conventuals of several orders in the Roinish church to shut themselves up at a certain time of the year, not only from the world in general, but from the members of their own fraternity; and to pass away several days by themselves in settling accounts between their Maker and their own souls, in cancelling unrepented crimes, and renewing their contracts of obedience for the future. Such stated times for particular acts of devotion, or the exercise of certain religious duties, have been enjoined in all civil governments, whatever deity they worshipped, or whatever religion they professed. That which may be done at all times, is often totally neglected and forgotten, upless fixed and determined to some time more than another; and therefore, though several duties may be suitable to every day of our lives, they are most likely to be performed, if some days are more particularly set apart for the practice of them. Our church has accordingly instituted several seasons of devotion, when time, custon, prescription, and, if I may so say, the fashion itself, call upon a man to be serious, and attentive to the great end of his being.
I have hinted in some former Papers, that the greatest and wisest of men in all ages
and countries, particularly in Rome and Greece, were renowned for their piety and virtue. It is now my intention to shew, how those in our own nation, that have been unquestionably the most eminent for learning and knowledge, were likewise the most eminent for their adherence to the religion of their country.
I might produce very shining examples from among the clergy; but because priest-craft is the common cry of every cavilling, empty scribbler, I shall shew that all the laymen who have exerted a more than ordinary genius in their writings, and were the glory of their times, were men whose bopes were filled with immortality, and the prospect of future rewards, and men who lived in a dutiful submission to all the doctrines of revealed religion.
I shall, in this paper, only instance Sir Francis Bacon, a man who, for greatness of genius, and compass of knowledge, did honour to his age and country; I could almost say to human nature itself. He possessed at once all those extraordinary talents, which were divided amongst the greatest authors of antiquity. He had the sound, distinct, comprehensive knowledge of Aristotle, with all the beautiful lights, graces, and embellishments of Cicero. One does not know which to admire most in his writings, the strength of reason, force of style, or brightness of imagination.
This author has remarked in several parts of his works, that a thorough insight into philosophy makes a good believer, and that a sinattering in it naturally VOL. V.
produces such a race of despicable infidels as the little profligate writers of the present age, whom, I must confess, I have always accused to myself, not so inuch for their want of faith as their want of learning.
I was infinitely pleased to find, among the works of this extraordinary man, a prayer of his own com. posing, which, for the elevation of thought, and greatness of expression, seems rather the devotion of an angel than a man. His principal fault seems to have been the excess of that virtue which covers a multitude of faults. This betrayed him to so great an indulgence towards his servants who made a corrupt use of it, that it stripped him of all those riches and honours which a long series of merits had heaped upon him. But in this prayer, at the same time that we find him prostrating himself before the great mercy-seat, and humbled under afflictious, wbich at that time lay heavy upon him, we see him supported by the sense of his integrity, his zeal, his devo. tion, and his love to mankind; which give him a much higher figure in the minds of thinking men, than that greatness had done from which he was fallen. I shall beg leave to write down the prayer itself, with the title to it, as it was found amongst his lordship’s papers, written in his own hand; not being able to furnish my readers with an entertainment more suitable to this solemn time*.
A Prayer, or Psalm, made by my lord BACON
Chancellor of England. “ Most gracious Lord God, my merciful Father; from my youth up my Creator, my Redeemer, my Comforter. Thou, O Lord, soundest and searchest thie depths and secrets of all hearts; thou acknow
* The approach of Christmas