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that the seeking after something profound, had led into many useless metaphysical disquisitions, in which the writer had no real merit, nor could the reader find any real advantage. But the French authors, he said, excelled in remarks on life and character, which, as they were founded on actual observation, might be attended with much utility, and as they were expressed in the liveliest manner, could not fail to give the highest entertainment. Alcander, in the course of his argument, endeavoured to illustrate it by a comparison of some of the most distinguished authors of both countries. Sylvester, finding those writers, whom he had studied with attention, and imitated with success, so warmly attacked, replied with some heat, as if he thought it tended to the disparagement of his own compositions. Sylves. ter said something about French frivolity; and Alcander replied with a sarcasm on metaphysical absurdity.
Finding the conversation take this unlucky turn, I endeavoured to change the subject ; and from the comparison of the English and French authors, took occasion to mention that period of English literature, which has been frequently termed the Augustan age of England, when that constellation of wits appeared which illuminated the reign of Queen Anne.
But this subject of conversation was as unfortu. nate as the former. Sylvester is a professed admirer of Swift, to whom his attachment is perhaps heighten. ed by a little Toryism in his political principles. Alcander is a keen Whig, and as great an admirer of Addison. As the conversation had grown rather warm on a general comparison of the authors of one country with those of another, so its warmth was much greater when the comparison was made of two particular favourite authors. Sylvester talked of the strength, the dignity, the forcible observation, and
the wit of Swift; Alcander, of the ease, the grace. fulness, the native and agreeable humour of Addison. From remarks upon their writings, they went to their characters. Sylvester spoke in praise of openness and spirit, and threw out something against envy, jealousy, and meanness. Alcander inveighed against pride and ill-nature, and pronounced an eulogium on elegance, philanthropy, and gentleness of manners. Sylvester spoke as if he thought no man of a candid and generous mind could be a lover of Addison ; Alcander, as if none but a severe and ill tempered one could endure Swift.
The spirits of the two friends were now heated to a violent degree, and not a little rankled at each other. I endeavoured again to give the discourse a · new direction, and, as if accidentally, introduced something about the Epistles of Phalaris. I knew both gentlemen were masters of the dispute upon that subject, which has so much divided the learned, and I thought a dry question of this sort could not possibly interest them too much. But in this I was mistaken. Sylvester and Alcander took different sides upon this subject, as they had done upon the former, and supported their opinions with no less warmth than before. Each of them catched fire from every thing his opponent said, as if neither could think well of the judgment of that man who was of an opi. nion different from his own.
With this last debate the conversation ended. At our meeting next day, a formal politeness took place between Sylvester and Alcander, very different from that openness and cordiality of manner which they shewed at their first meeting. The last, soon after, took his departure ; and, I believe, neither of them felt that respect for each other's understanding, nor that warmth of affection, which they entertained before this visit.
Alas! the two friends did not consider that it was equally owing to the fault of each that their friendship was thus changed into coldness. Both attached to the same pursuits, and accustomed to indulge them chiefly in seclusion and solitude, they had been too little accustomed to bear contradiction. This impatience of contradiction had not been corrected in either, by attention to the feelings or views of others; and the warmth which each felt in supporting his own particular opinion, prevented him from giving the proper indulgence to a diversity of opinion in the other.
N° 21. TUESDAY, APRIL 6, 1779.
This day's paper I devote to Correspondents. The first of the two letters it contains was brought to my Editor by a spruce footman, who, upon being asked whence he came, replied, from Mrs. Meekly’s.
To the Author of the MIRROR. SIR, The world has, at different periods, been afflicted with diseases peculiar to the times in which they appeared, and the Faculty have, with great ingenuity, contrived certain generic names, by which they might be distinguished, it being a quality of great use and comfort in a physician to be able to tell precisely of what disorder his patient is likely to die. The ner. Vous seems to be the ailment in greatest vogue at • present ; a species of disease, which I am apt to con. sider as not the less terrible for being less mortal than many others. I speak not from personal experience, Mr. Mirror; my own constitution, thank God! is pretty robust ; but I have the misfortune to be aftsicted with a nervous wife.
It is impossible to enumerate a twentieth part of the symptoms of this lamentable disorder, or of the · circumstances by which its paroxysms are excited or
increased. Its dependance on the natural phænomena of the wind and weather, on the temperature of the air, whether hot or cold, moist or dry, might be accounted for; and my wife would then be in no worze situation than the lady in a red cap and green jacket, whose figure I have seen in the little Dutch barometers, known by the name of Babyhouses. But, beside feeling the impression of those particulars, her disorder is brought on by incidents still more frequent, and less easy to be foreseen, than even the occasional changes in our atmosphere. A person running hastily up or down stairs, shutting a door roughly, placing the tongs on the left side of the grate, and the poker on the right, setting the china figures on the mantle-piece a little awry, or allowing the tossel of the bell-string to swing but for a moment; any of those little accidents has an immediate and irresistible effect on the nervous system of my wife, and produces symptoms, sometimes of languor, sometimes of irritation, which I her husband, my three children by a former marriage, and the other members of our family, equally feel and regret. The above causes of her distemper a very attentive and diligent discharge of our several duties might possibly prevent; but even our involuntary actions are apt to produce effects of a similar or more violent nature. It was but the other day she told my boy Dick he eat his pudding so voraciously, as almost ce
make her faint, and remonstrated against my sneezing in the manner I did, which, she said, tore her poor nerves in pieces.
One thing I have observed peculiar to this disorder, which those conversant in the nature of sympathetic affections may be able to explain. It is not always produced by exactly similar causes, if such causes exist in dissimilar situations. I have known my wife squeezed for hours in a side-box, dance a whole night at a ball, have my Lord -- talking as fast and as loud to her as was possible there, and her nose assailed by the stink of a whole row of flambeaux, at going in and coming out, without feeling her nerves in the smallest degree affected; yet, the very day after, at home, she could not bear my chair, or the chair of one of the children, to come within several feet of her's; walking up stairs perfectly overcame her; none of us durst talk but in whis.* pers; and the smell of my buttered roll made her sick to death.
As I reckon your paper a proper record for sin. gular cases, and intolerable grievances of every sort, I send the above for your insertion, stating it accord.. ing to its nature, in terms as physically descriptive as my little acquaintance with the healing art can supply.
I am, &c.
This Correspondent, as far as his wife's case falls within the department of the physician, I must refer to my very learned friends Doctors Cullen and Mona ro, who upon being properly attended, will give him, I am persuaded, as sound advice as it is in the power of medical skill to suggest. In point of prudence, to which only my prescriptions apply, I can advise nothing so proper for Mr. Meekly himself, as to