« 上一頁繼續 »
No. CCXXII. WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14.
Cur alter fratrum cessare, & ludere, & ungi,
Why, of two brothers, one his pleasure loves,
• Mr. Spectator, " THERE is one thing I have often looked for in your papers, and have as often wondered to find
myself disappointed; the rather, because I think it ' a subject every way agreeable to your design, and
by being left unattempted by others, seems reserved as a proper employment for you; I mean a disquisition, from whence it proceeds, that. men of the brightest parts, and most comprehensive genius,
completely furnished with talents for any province ( in human affairs ; such as by their wise lessons of
economy to others have made it evident, that they • have the justest notions of life, and of true sense in the conduct of it:........from what unhappy contra
dictious cause it proceeds, that persons thus finish"ed by nature and by art, should so often fail in the
management of that which they so well understand,
and want the address to make a right application of 6 their own rules. This is certainly a prodigious in
consistency in behaviour, and makes much such a ( figure in morals as a monstrous birth in naturals, o with this difference only, which greatly aggravates 6 the wonder, that it happens much more frequently; ( and what a blemish does it cast upon wit and learn• ing in the general account of the world? and in how • disadvantageous a light does it expose them to the • busy class of mankind, that there should be so many • instances of persons who have so conducted their
lives in spite of these transcendent advantages, as
neither to be happy in themselves, nor useful to • their friends; when every body sees it was entire
ly in their own power to be eminent in both these * characters ? For my part, I think there is no re"fiection more astonishing than to consider one of • these gentlemen spending a fair fortune, running ' in every body's debt without the least apprehen• sion of a future reckoning, and at last leaving not ' only his own children, but possibly those of other
people, by his means, in starving circumstances ; " while a fellow, whom one would scarce suspect to • have a human soul, shall perhaps raise a vast es' tate out of nothing, and be the founder of a fami• ly capable of being very considerable in their coun' try, and doing many illustrious services to it. That • this observation is just, experience has pnt beyond • all dispute. But though the fact be so evident and ' glaring, yet the causes of it are still in the dark ;
which makes me persuade myself, that it would • be no unacceptable piece of entertainment to the
town to enquire into the hidden sources of so unI accountable an evil.
• I am, Sir,
Your most humble servant.'
What this correspondent wonders at, has been matter of admiration ever since there was any such thing as human life. Horace reflects upon this inconsistency very agreeably in the character of Tigellius, whom he makes a mighty pretender to econo my, and tells you, you might one day hear him speak the most philosophic things imaginable concerning being coptented with a little, and his contempt of every thing but mere necessaries, and in half a week after spend a thousand pound. When he says this of him with relation to expence, he describes him as unequal to himself in every other cir
cumstance of life. And indeed, if we consider lavish men carefully, we shall find it always proceeds from a certain incapacity of possessing themselves, and · finding enjoyment in their own minds. Mr. Dryden has expressed this very excellently in the character of Zimri.
“ A man so various, that he seem'd to be
This loose state of the soul hurries the extravagant from one pursuit to another; and the reason that his expences are greater than another's, is, that his wants are also more numerous. But what makes so many go on in this way to their lives end, is, that they certainly do not know how contemptible they are in the eyes of the rest of mankind, or rather, that indeed they are not so contemptible as they deserve. Tully says, it is the greatest of wickedress to lessen your paternal estate. And if a man would thoroughly consider how much worse than banisliment it must be to his child, to ride by the estate which should have been his, had it not been for his father's injustice to him, he would be smitten with the reflection more deeply than can be understood by any but one who is a father. Sure there can be nothing more afflicting, than to think it had been happier for his son to have been born of any other man living than himself.
It is not perhaps much thought of, but it is certainly a very important lesson, to learn how to enjoy ordinary life, and to be able to relish your being without the transport of some passion, or gratification of some appetite. For want of this capacity, the world is filled with whetters, tipplers, cutters, sippers, and all the numerous train of those who, for want of thinking, are forced to be for ever exercising their feeling or tasting. It would be hard on this occasion to mention the harmless smokers of tobacco and takers of snuff.
The slower part of mankind, whom my correspondent wonders should get estates, are the more immediately formed for that pursuit : they can expect distant things without impatience, because they are not carried out of their way either by violent passion or keen appetite to any thing. To men addicted to delights, business is an interruption ; to to such as are cold to delights, business is an entertainment. For which reason it was said to one who commended a dull man for his application, 56 thanks to him ; if he had no business, he would « have nothing to do.”
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15
O suavis anima! qualem te dicam bonam,
O sweet soul! how good must you have been heretofore, when
your remains are so delicious!
WHEN I reflect upon the various fate of those multitudes of ancient writers who flourished in Greece and Italy, I consider time as an immense ocean in which many noble authors are entirely swallowed up, many very much shattered and damaged, some quite disjointed and broken into pieces, while some have wholly escaped the common wreck ; but the number of the last is very small.
Apparent rari nantes ingurgite vasto.
« One here and there floats on the vast abyss."
Among the mutilated poets of antiquity, there is none whose fragments are so beautiful as those of Sappho. They give us a taste of her way of writing, which is perfectly conformable with that extraordinary character we find of her, in the remarks of those great critics who were conversant with her works when they were entire. One may see by what is left of them, that she followed nature in all her thoughts, without descending to those little points, conceits, and turns of wit with which many of our modern lyrics are so miserably infected. Her soul seems to have been made up of love and poetry : she felt the passion in all its warmth, and described it in all its symptoms. She is called by ancient authors the tenth muse ; and by Plutarch is compared to Cacus the son of Vulcan, who breathed out nothing but flame. I do not know by the character that is given of her works, whether it is not for the benefit of mankind that they are lost. They were filled with such bewitehing tenderness and rapture, that it might have been dangerous to have given them a reading.
An inconstant lover, called Phaon, occasioned great calamities to this poetical lady. She fell desperately in love with him, and took a voyage into Sicily, in pursuit of him, he having withdrawn himself thither on purpose to avoid her. It was in that island, and on this occasion, she is supposed to have made the