Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

able to withstand the temptation of ten pounds that Talon the bailiff offered her, but brought him into my apartment disguised in a livery; and taking my sword to the window, under pretence of admiring the workmanship, beckoned him to seize me.

Delay would have been expensive without use, as the debt was too considerable for payment or bail: I, therefore, suffered myself to be immediately conducted to jail. *

Vejl'ibulum ante tpsum prlmisque infaucibus Or a,
Luf.tus & ultrices pofuere cubilia cura: »

Pallentesque habitant morbi, tristisque feneflus,
Et metus, et malesuada fames, et turpis egejias. VlRG.

Just in the gate and in the jaws of hell,
Revengeful cares, and sullen sorrows dwell;
And pale diseases, and repining age;
Want, sear, and famine's unresisted rage. Dryden.

Confinement of any kind is dreadful; a prison is sometimes able to shock thofe, who endure it in a good cause: let your imagination, therefore, acquaint you, with what I have not words to express, and conceive, is possible, the horrors of imprison^, ment attended with reproach and ignominy, of involuntary association with the resuse of mankind, with wretches who were before too abandoned for society, but being now freed from shame or sear, are hourly improving their vices by consorting with each, other.

There are, however, a sew, whom like myself imprisonment has rather mortified than hardened: with these only I converse; and of these you may perhaps hereaster receive some account from

Your humble servant, Misargvrus.

[ocr errors]

KullaJiJei rtgni/tciu, emn:/jaf potejlat

Impatient ctu/crtit iril. LoCAttt

No faith os partnership dominion owns;
Still discord hovers o'er divided thrones.

IT is well known, that many thing* appear plausible in speculation, which can never be reduced to practice; and that of the numberless projects that have flattered mankind with theoretical speciousness, sew have served any other purpofe than to shew the ingenuity of their contrivers. A voyage to the moon, however romantic and absurd the scheme may now appear, since the properties of air have been better understood, seemed highly probable to many of the aspiring wits in the last century, who began to doat upon their glofly plumes, and fluttered with impatience for the hour of their departure:

[ocr errors]

Antesugamy absentcmque serit gravit ungttltt camfum.

Hills, vales, and floods appear already crost;

And, ere he starts, a thoufand steps axe lost. Pope.

Among the fallacies which only experience can detect, there are some, of which scarcely experience itself can destroy the influence; some which, by a captivating fhew of indubitable certainty, are perpetually gaining upon the human mind i and which,

though though every trial ends in difappointment, obtain n«w credit as the sense of miscarriage wears gradually away, persuade us to try again what we have tried already, and expofe us by the fame failure to double vexation.

Of this tempting, this delusive kind, is the expectation of great persormances by consederated strength. The speculatist, when he has carefully observed how much may be persormed by a single band, calculates by a very easy operation the force of thoufands, and goes on accumulating power till resistance vanishes before it; then rejoices in the success of his new scheme, and wonders at the folly or idleness of former %ges, who have lived in want of what might so readily be procured, and suffered themselves to be debarred from happiness by obstacles which one united effort would have so easily surmounted.

But this gigantic phantom of collective power vanishes at once into air and emptiness, at the first attempt to put it into action. The different apprehensions, the discordant passions, the jarring interests of men, will scarcely permit that many should unite in one undertaking.

Of a great and complicated design, some will never be brought to discern the end; and of the several means by which it may be accomplished, the choice will be a perpetual subject of debate, as every man is swayed in his determination by his own knowledge or convenience. In a long series of action, some will languish with fatigue, and some be drawn off by present gratifications; some will loiter because others labour, and some will cease to labour

because

because others loiter: and is once they come withm profpect of success and profit, some will be greedy and others envious; some will undertake more than they can persorm, to enlarge their claims of advantage; some will persorm less than they undertake, lest their labours should chiefly turn to the benefit of others.

The history of mankind insorms us that a single power is very seldom broken by a consederacy. States of different interests, and aspects malevolene to each other, may be united for a time by common distress; and in the ardour of self-preservation fall unanimously upon an enemy, hjy whom they are all equally endangered. But is their first attack can be withstood, time will never fail to dissolve their union: success and miscarriage will be equally destructive: aster the conquest of a province, they will quarrel in the division; aster the lofs of a battle, all will be endeavouring to secure themselves by abandoning the rest.

From the impossibility of confining numbers to the constant and unisorm profecution of a common interest, arises the difficulty of securing subjects against the encroachment of governors. Power is always gradually stealing away from the many to the sew, because the sew arc more vigilant and consistent; it still contracts to a smaller number, till in time it centers in a single person.

Thus all the forms of government instituted among mankind, perpetually tend towards monarchy; and power, however diffused through the whole community, U by negligence or corruption,

commotion commotion or distress, repofed at last in the chief magistrate.

"There never appear," fays Swift, "more than cc sive or six men of gertius in an age; but is they 'c were united, the world could not stand before "them." It is happy, therefore, for mankind, that of this union there is no probability. As men take in a wider compass of intellectual survey, they are more likely to chuse difserent objects of pursuit; as they see more ways to the fame end, they will be less easily persuaded to travel together; as each is better qualified to form an independent scheme of private greatness, he will reject with greater obstinacy the project of another; as each is more able to distinguish himself as the head of a party, he will less readily be made a follower or an associate*

The reigning philofophy insorms us, that the vast bodies which constitute the universe, are regulated in their progress through the etherial spaces, by the perpetual agency of contrary forces; by one of which they are restrained from deserting their orbits, and losing themselves in the immensity of heaven; and held off by the other from rushing together, and clustering round their center with everlasting cohesion.

The fame contrariety of impulse may be perhaps discovered in the motions of men: we are formed for society, not for combination; we are equally unqualified to live in a clofe connection with our sellow-beings, and in total separation from them; we are attracted towards each other by general sympathy, but kept back from contact by private interests.

Vol. IX. C . Some

« AnteriorContinuar »