Imágenes de páginas

make this abrupt transition to the mention of this vice more than any other, in order to introduce a little story, which I tbink a pretty instance that the most polite age is in danger of being the most vicious.

“ It happened at Athens, during a public representation of some play exbibited in honour of the commonwealth, that an old gentleman came too late for a place suitable to his age and quality. Many of the young gentlemen who observed the difficulty and con. fusion he was in, made signs to him that they would accommodate him if he came where they sate : the good man bustled through the crowd accordingly; but when he came to the seats to which he was invit. ed, the jest was to sit close and expose him, as he stood out of countenance, to the whole audience. The frolic went round all the Athenian benches. But on those occasions there were also particular places assigned for foreigners: when the good man skuiked towards the boxes appointed for the Lacedemonians, that honest people, more virtuous than polite, rose up all to a man, and with the greatest respect received him among them. The Athenians being suddenly touched with a sense of the Spartan virtue and their own degeneracy, gave a thunder of applause; and the old inan cried out, the Athenians understand what is good, but the Lacedemonians practise it'."




Non omnia possumus omnes.

VIRG. With various talents form'd we variously excel.

NATURE does nothing in vain; the Creator of the

universe has appointed every thiug to a certain use and purpose, and determined it to a settled course and sphere of action, from which, if it in the least deviates, it becomes unfit to answer those ends for wbich it was designed. In like manner it is in the dispositions of society, the civil economy is formed in a chain as well as the natural; and in either case the breach but of one link puts the whole in some disor. der. It is, I think, pretty plain, that most of the ab. surdity and ridicule we meet with in the world, is generally owing to the impertinent affectation of excelling in characters men are not fit for, and for · which vature never designed them. :

Every man has one or more qualities which may make him useful both to himself and others: Nature never fails of pointing them out, and while the infant continues under her guardianship, she brings bim on in his way, and then offers herself for a guide in what remains of the journey; if he proceeds in that course, be can bardly miscarry: Nature makes good her engagements; for as she never promises what she is not able to perform, so she never fails of performing what she promises. But the misfortune is, men despise what they may be masters of, and affect what they are not fit for; they reckon themselves already possessed of what their genius inclined them to, and so bend all their ambition to excel in what is out of their reach. Thus they destroy the use of their natural talents, in the same manner as covetous men do their quiet and repose; they can enjoy no satisfaction in what they

bave, because of the absurd inclination they are possessed with for what they have not.

Cleanthes had good sense, a great memory, and a constitution capable of the closest application : in a word, there was no profession in which Cleanthes might not have made a very good figure; but this won't satisfy him, he takes up an unaccountable fond. ness for the character of a fine gentleman : all his thoughts are bent upon this, instead of attendivg a dissection, frequenting the courts of justice, or studying the fathers. Cleanthes reads plays, dances, dresses, and spends his time in drawing-rooms, instead of being a good lawyer, divine, or physician; Cieanthes is a downright coscomb, and will remain to all that knew bim a contemptible example of talents misapplied.

It is to tbis affectation the world owes its whole race of coscombs: Nature, in her whule drama, never drew such a part; she bas sometimes made a fool, but a cuxcomb is always of a man's own making, by applying his talents otherwise than Na. ture designed, who ever bears an high resentment for being put ont of her course, and never fails of taking her revenge on thuse that do so. Opposing her tendency in the application of a man's parts, has the same success as declining from her course in the pro- duction of vegetables, by the assistance of art and an hot-bed: we may possibly extort an unwilling plaut, or an nntimely sallad; but how weak, how tasteless, and insipid! Just as insipid as the poetry of Valerio : Valerio had an universal character, was genteel, had learning, thought justly, spoke correctly; 'twas believed there was nothing in which Valerio did not ex. cel; and 'twas so far trae, that there was but one: Valerio had no genius for poetry, yet he's resolved to be a poet; he writes verses, and takes great pains to convince the town, that Valerio is not that extraordinary person he was taken for.

If wen would be content to graft upon nature, and assist her operatious, what mighty effects might we THE PARADISE OF FOOLS.


Decipimur specie recti. HOR.
Deluded by a seeming excellence.


METHOUGHT I was transported to a bill, green,

flowery, and of an easy ascent. Upon the broad top of it resided squint-eyed Error, and popular Opi. nion with many beads; two that dealt in sorcery, and were famous for bewitching people with the love of themselves. To these repaired a multitude from every side, by two different pases wbich lead towards each of them. Some who bad the most assuming air, went directly of themselves to Error, without expecting a conductor; others of a softer nature went first to po. pular Opinion, from whence, as she influenced and en. gaged them with their own praises, she delivered them over to his government.

When we had ascended to an open part of the summit where Opinion abode, we found her entertaining several who had arrived before us. Her voice was pleasing; she breathed odours as she spoke: she seemed to have a tongue for every one; every one thought be heard of something that was valuable in himself, and expected a paradise which she promised as the reward of his merit. Thus were we drawn to follow her, till she should bring us where it was to be bestowed: and it was observable, that all the way we went, the company was either praising themselves in their qualifications, or one another for those qualifications which they took to be conspicuous in their own characters, or dispraising others for wanting theirs, or vying in the degrees of them.

At last we approached a hower, at the entrance of which Error was seated. The trees were thick woven,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

og 1

[ocr errors]

and the place where be sat artfully contrived to darken him a little. He was disguised in a whitish robe, which he had put on, that he might appear to us with a nearer resenıblance to Truth: and as she has a light whereby she manifests the beauties of nature to the eyes of her adorers, so he bad provided himself with a magical wand, that he might do something in imitation of it, and please with delusions. This he lifted so. lemnly, and muttering to himself, bid the glories which he kept under enchantment to appear before us. Immediately we cast our eyes on that part of the sky

to which he pointed, and observed a thin blue prosad pect, which cleared as mountains in a summer morn. ed ing when the mists go off, and the palace of Vanity mery appeared to sight.

The foundation hardly seeriad'a foundation, but a set of curling clouds, which it stood upon by magical contrivance. The way by which we ascended was painted like a rainbow; and as we went, the breeze that played about us bewitched the senses. The walls were gilded all for show; the lowest set of pillars were of the slight fine Corinthian order, and the top of the building being rounded, bore so far the resemblance of a bobble.

At the gate tbe travellers neither met with a porter, nor waited till one should appear; every one thonght hịs merits a sufficient passport, and pressed forward.

In the hall we met with several phantoms, that roved 5 the among us, and ranged the company according to their

sentiments. There was decreasing Honour, that had wed: nothing to show in but an old coat of his ancestor's

achievements. There was Ostentation, that made him. self his own constant subject, and Gallantry strutting upon his tip-toes. At the upper end of the hall stood a throne, whose canopy glittered with all the riches that gaiety could contrive to lavish on it; and between

the gilded arms sat Vanity, decked in the peacock's se of feathers, and acknowledged for another Venus by her

votaries. The boy who stood beside her for a Cupid,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



light nseli,



[ocr errors]

gua tions cha.

3, or


« AnteriorContinuar »