« 上一頁繼續 »
6 unless it be a king or prince who takes a fancy to
such a toy.
“ The ninth species of females were taken out of of the ape. These are such as are both ugly and ill« natured, who have nothing beautiful in themselves, « and endeavour to detract from or ridicule everything which appears so in others.
66 The tenth and last species of women were made s out of the bee; and happy is the man who gets “ such an one for his wife. She is altogether faultless « and unblameable ; her family flourishes and im
proves by her good management. She loves her “ husband, and is beloved by him. She brings him a “ race of beautiful and virtuous children. She distin" guishes herself among her sex. She is surrounded « with graces. She never sits among the loose tribe " of women, nor passes away her time with them in 66 wanton discourses. She is full of virtue and pru« dence, and is the best wife that Jupiter can bestow
I shall conclude these iambics with the motto of this paper, which is a fragment of the same author : “ A man cannot possess any thing that is better than
a good woman, nor any thing that is worse than a 66 bad one.”
As the poet has shewn a great penetration in this diversity of female characters, he has avoided the fault which Juvenal and Monsieur Boileau are guilty of, the former in his sixth, and the other in his last satire, where they have endeavoured to expose the sex in general, without doing justice to the valuable part of it. Such levelling satires are of no use to the world, and, for this reason, I have often wondered how the French author abovementioned, who was a man of exquisite judgment, and a lover of virtue, could think human nature a proper subject for satire in another
of his celebrated pieces, which is called “ The satire
upon man.” What vice or frailty can a discourse correct, which censures the whole species alike, and endeavours to shew by some superficial strokes of wit, that brutes are the more excellent creatures of the two? A satire should expose nothing but what is corrigible, and make a due discrimination between those who are, and those who are not the proper objects of it.
No. CCX. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31.
Nescio quomodo inhæret in mentibus quasi seculorum quoddam
augurium futurorum ; idque in maximis ingeniis altissimisque animis & existit maxime & apparet facillime. Cic.
There is, I know not how, in the minds of men a certain presage,
as it were, of a future existence; and this takes the deepest root, and is most discoverable in the greatest geniuses and most exalted souls.
To the Spectator.
• I AM fully persuaded, that one of the best springs • of generous and worthy actions, is the having gene
rous and worthy thoughts of ourselves. Whoever • has a mean opinion of the dignity of his nature, will " act in no higher a rank than he has allotted himself « in his own estimation. If he considers his being as
circumscribed by the uncertain term of a few years, 6 his designs will be contracted into the same narrow <span he imagines is to bound his existence. How
can he exalt his thoughts to any thing great and noble, who only believes that, after a short turn on the stage of this world, he is to sink into oblivion, and to lose his consciousness for ever?
• For this reason I am of opinion, that so useful • and elevated a contemplation as that of the soul's • immortality cannot be resumed too often. There is • not a more improving exercise to the hụman mind,
than to be frequently reviewing its own great privi• leges and endowments; nor a more effectual means . to awaken in us an ambition raised above low objects 6 and little pursuits, than to value ourselves as heirs of eternity.
• It is a very great satisfaction to consider the best 6 and wisest of mankind in all nations and ages, as• serting, as with one voice, this their birthright, and ' to find it ratified by an express revelation. At the
same time, if we turn our thoughts inward upon ourselves, we may meet with a kind of secret sense concurring with the proofs of our own immortality.
• You have, in my opinion, raised a good presumptive argument from the increasing appetite the mind • has to knowledge, and to the extending its own faóculties, which cannot be accomplished, as the more • restrained perfection of lower creatures may, in the " limits of a short life. I think another probable conjecture may
be raised from our appetite to duration itself, and from a reflection on our progress through • the several stages of it: “ We are complaining," as
you observe in a former speculation, “ of the short“ ness of life, and yet are perpetually hurrying over " the parts of it to arrive at certain little settlements, 6 or imaginary points of rest, which are dispersed up 66 and down in it."
• Now let us consider what happens to us when we 6 arrive at these “ imaginary points of rest :” do we • stop our motion, and sit down satisfied in the set• tlement we have gained? or are we not removing
the boundary and marking out new points of rest, to ' which we press forward with the like eagerness, and (which cease to be such as fast as we attain them? • Our case is like that of a traveller upon the Alps,
• who should fancy that the top of the next hill must • end his journey, because it terminates his prospect; but he no sooner arrives at it than he sees new ground and other hills beyond yet, and continues to travel on as before.
* This is so plainly every man's condition in life, that there is no one who has observed any thing, but may observe, that as fast as his time wears away, • his appetite to something future remains. The use, • therefore, I would make of it is this, that since nature, as some love to express it, does nothing in vain, or, to speak properly, since the Author of our being 'has planted no wandering passion in it, no desire • which has not its object, futurity is the proper ob
ject of the passion so constantly exercised about it; and this restlessness in the present, this assigning ourselves over to farther stages of duration, this successive grasping at somewhat still to come, appears to me, whatever it may to others, as a kind of instinct or natural symptom, which the mind of man has of its own immortality. • I take it at the same time for granted, that the immortality of the soul is sufficiently established by • other arguments: and if so, this appetite, which, otherwise would be very unaccountable and absurd, seems very reasonable, and adds strength to the conclusion. But I am amazed when I consider there, are creatures capable of thought, who, in spite of every argument, can form to themselves a sullen sa• tisfaction in thinking otherwise. There is something so pitifully mean in the inverted ambition of that man who can hope for annihilation, and please himself to think that his whole fabric shall one day crum'ble into dust, and mix with the mass of inanimate beings, that it equally deserves our admiration and
pity. The mystery of such men's unbelief is not ' hard to be penetrated: and indeed amounts to no
thing more than a sordid hope that they shall not be immortal, because they dare not be so. • This brings me back to my first observation, and gives me occasion to say further, that as worthy ac• tions spring from worthy thoughts, so worthy thoughts
are likewise the consequence of worthy actions: but • the wretch who has degraded himself below the character of immortality, is very willing to resign his pretensions to it, and to substitute in its room a dark negative happiness in the extinction of his be
• The admirable Shakspeare has given us a strong 'image of the unsupported condition of such a person • in his last minutes, in the second part of King Henry "the Sixth, where cardinal Beaufort, who had been concerned in the murder of the good duke Humphrey, is represented on his death-bed. After some • short confused speeches, which shew an imagina• tion disturbed with guilt, just as he was expiring,
King Henry, standing by him full of compassion, says,
" Lord Cardinal! if thou think'st on Heav'n's bliss,
• The despair which is here shewn, without a word or action on the part of the dying person, is beyond • what could be painted by the most forcible expres• sions whatever.
I shall not pursue this thought farther, but only add, that as annihilation is not to be had with a wish,
so it is the most abject thing in the world to wish • it. What are honour, fame, wealth, or power, when
compared with the generous expectation of a being without end, and a happiness adequate to that be
• I shall trouble you no farther; but with a certain - gravity which these thoughts have given me, I le