Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the several parts of his table, that he might drink their healths according to their respective ranks and qualities. Honest Will Wimble, who I should have thought had been altogether uninfected with ceremony, gives me 5 abundance of trouble in this particular. Though he has been fishing all the morning, he will not help himself at dinner until I am served. When we are going out of the hall, he runs behind me; and last night, as

we were walking in the fields, stopped short at a stile 10 until I came up to it, and upon my making signs to him

to get over, told me, with a serious smile, that sure I believed they had no manners in the country.

There has happened another revolution in the point of good breeding, which relates to the conversation among 15 men of mode, and which I cannot but look upon as very

extraordinary. It was certainly one of the first distinctions of a well-bred man to express every thing that had the most remote appearance of being obscene in modest

terms and distant phrases; whilst the clown, who had 20 no such delicacy of conception and expression, clothed

his ideas in those plain, homely terms that are the most obvious and natural. This kind of good manners was perhaps carried to an excess, so as to make conversa

tion too stiff, formal, and precise ; for which reason (as 25 hypocrisy in one age is generally succeeded by atheism

in another), conversation is in a great measure relapsed into the first extreme; so that at present several of our men of the town, and particularly those who have been

polished in France, make use of the most coarse uncivil30 ized words in our language, and utter themselves often

in such a manner as a clown would blush to hear.

Ιο

This infamous piece of good breeding, which reigns among the coxcombs of the town, has not yet made its way into the country; and as it is impossible for such an irrational way of conversation to last long among a people that make any profession of religion, or shew of modesty, 5 if the country gentlemen get into it, they will certainly be left in the lurch. Their good breeding will come too late to them, and they will be thought a parcel of lewd clowns, while they fancy themselves talking together like men of wit and pleasure.

As the two points of good breeding which I have hitherto insisted upon regard behaviour and conversation, there is a third which turns upon dress. In this too the country are very much behindhand. The rural beaus are not yet got out of the fashion that took place at the time 15 of the Revolution, but ride about the country in red coats and laced hats, while the women are still trying to outvie one another in the height of their head-dresses.

But a friend of mine, who is now upon the western circuit, having promised to give me an account of the 20 several modes and fashions that prevail in the different parts of the nation through which he passes, I shall defer enlarging upon this last topic, till I have received a letter from him, which I expect every post.

L.

THE SPECTATOR ON INSTINCT. [ADDISON.]

No. 120. — WEDNESDAY, JULY 18, 1711.

EQUIDEM credo, quia sit divinitus illis

Ingenium. — VIRG. GEORG. i. 451.
I THINK their beasts with heav'nly souls inspired. – DRYDEN.

IO

My friend Sir Roger is very often merry with me upon my passing so much of my time among his poultry. He has caught me twice or thrice looking after a bird's-nest, and several times sitting an hour or two together near an 5 hen and chickens. He tells me he believes I am personally acquainted with every fowl about his house ; calls such a particular cock my favourite ; and frequently complains that his ducks and geese have more of my company than himself.

I must confess I am infinitely delighted with those speculations of nature which are to be made in a countrylife ; and as my reading has very much lain among books of natural history, I cannot forbear recollecting upon this

occasion the several remarks which I have met with in 15 authors, and comparing them with what falls under my

own observation : the arguments for providence drawn from the natural history of animals being in my opinion demonstrative.

The make of every kind of animal is different from 20 that of every other kind : and yet there is not the least turn in the muscles or twist in the fibres of any one, which does not render them more proper for that particular animal's way of life than any other cast or texture of them would have been.

The most violent appetites in all creatures are lust and 5 hunger : the first is a perpetual call upon them to propagate their kind; the latter to preserve themselves.

It is astonishing to consider the different degrees of care that descend from the parent to the young, so far as is absolutely necessary for the leaving a posterity. Io Some creatures cast their eggs as chance directs them, and think of them no farther; as insects and several kinds of fish: others, of a nicer frame, find out proper beds to deposit them in, and there leave them; as the serpent, the crocodile, and ostrich : others hatch their 15 eggs and tend the birth, till it is able to shift for itself.

What can we call the principle which directs every different kind of bird to observe a particular plan in the structure of its nest, and directs all the same species to work after the same model ? It cannot be imitation ; 20 for though you hatch a crow under a hen, and never let it see any of the works of its own kind, the nest it makes shall be the same, to the laying of a stick, with all the other nests of the same species. It cannot be reason; for were animals endued with it to as great a degree as 25 man, their buildings would be as different as ours according to the different conveniences that they would propose to themselves.

Is it not remarkable that the same temper of weather, which raises this genial warmth in animals, should cover 30 the trees with leaves, and the fields with grass, for their

security and concealment, and produce such infinite swarms of insects for the support and sustenance of their respective broods?

Is it not wonderful that the love of the parent should 5 be so violent while it lasts, and that it should last no longer than is necessary for the preservation of the young?

But notwithstanding this natural love in brutes is much more violent and intense than in rational creatures, Provi10 dence has taken care that it should be no longer trouble

some to the parent than it is useful to the young; for so soon as the wants of the latter cease, the mother withdraws her fondness, and leaves them to provide for them

selves; and, what is a very remarkable circumstance in 15 this part of instinct, we find that the love of the parent

may be lengthened out beyond its usual time, if the preservation of the species requires it: as we may see in birds that drive away their young as soon as they are able

to get their livelihood, but continue to feed them if they 20 are tied to the nest, or confined within a cage, or by any

other means appear to be out of a condition of supplying their own necessities.

This natural love is not observed in animals to ascend from the young to the parent, which is not at all neces25 sary for the continuance of the species : nor indeed in

reasonable creatures does it rise in any proportion, as it spreads itself downwards ; for, in all family affection, we find protection granted and favours bestowed are greater

motives to love and tenderness, than safety, benefits, or 30 life received.

One would wonder to hear sceptical men disputing for

« AnteriorContinuar »