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When I reflect upon this journey, I often fancy it to be a picture of human life, in respect to the several friendships, contracts, and alliances that are made and dissolved in the several periods of it. The most delightful and most lasting engagements are generally those which pass between man and woman; and yet upon what trifles are they weakened, or entirely broken! Sometimes the parties fly asunder even in the midst of courtship, and sometimes grow cool in the very honey-month. Some separate before the first child, and some after the fifth; others continue good till thirty, others till forty; while some few, whose souls are of an happier make, and better fitted to one another, travel on together to the end of their journey, in a continual intercourse of kind offices and mutual endearments.
When we, therefore, choose our companions for life, if we hope to keep both them and ourselves in good humour to the last stage of it, we must be extremely careful in the choice we make, as well as in the conduct on our own part. When the persons to whom we join ourselves can stand an examination, and bear the scrutiny, when they mend upon our acquaintance with them, and discover new beauties the more we search into their characters, our love will naturally rise in proportion to their perfections.
But because there are very few possessed of such accomplishments of body and mind, we ought to look after those qualifications both in ourselves and others, which are indispensably necessary towards this happy union, and which are
power of every one to acquire, or at least to cultivate and improve. These, in my opinion, are cheerfulness and constancy. A cheerful temper, joined with innocence, will make beauty attractive, knowledge delightful, and wit goodnatured. It will lighten sickness, poverty, and affliction ; convert ignorance into an amiable simplicity, and render de formity itself agreeable.
Constancy is natural to persons of even tempers and uniform dispositions, and may be acquired by those of the greatest fickleness, violence, and passion, who consider seriously the terms of union upon which they are come together, the mutual interest in which they are engaged, with all the motives that ought to incite their tenderness and compassion towards those who have their dependence upon them, and
are embarked with them for life in the same state of happiness or misery. Constancy, when it grows in the mind upon considerations of this nature, becomes a moral virtue, and a kind of good-nature, that is not subject to any change of health, age, fortune, or any of those accidents which are apt to unsettle the best dispositions that are founded rather in constitution than in reason. Where such a constancy as this is wanting, the most inflamed passion may.
fall away into coldness and indifference, and the most melting tenderness degenerate into hatred and aversion. I shall conclude this paper with a story that is very well known in the north of England.
About thirty years ago, a packet-boat that had several passengers on board was cast away upon a rock, and in so great danger of sinking, that all who were in it endeavoured to save themselves as well as they could, though only those who could swim well had a bare possibility of doing it. Among the passengers there were two women of fashion, who seeing themselves in such a disconsolate condition, begged of their husbands not to leave them. One of them chose rather to die with his wife, than to forsake her; the other, though he was moved with the utmost compassion for his wife, told her, that for the good of their children it was better one of them should live, than both perish. By a great piece of good luck, next to a miracle, when one of our good men had taken the last and long farewell in order to save himself, and the other held in his arms the person that was dearer to him than life, the ship was preserved. It is with a secret sorrow and vexation of mind that I must tell the sequel of the story, and let my reader know, that this faithful pair who were ready to have died in each other's arms, about three years after their escape, upon some trifling disgust, grew to a coldness at first, and at length fell out to such a degree, that they left one another, and parted for
The other couple lived together in an uninterrupted friendship and felicity; and, what was remarkable, the husband whom the shipwreck had like to have separated from
1 The last part of this sentence is strung together with too many relatives, that—which-that. The following sentence, too, is not exact—“inflamed passion fall away-melting tenderness degenerate.”—The metaphor not well pursued.
his wife, died a few months after her, not being able to survive the loss of her.1
I must confess, there is something in the changeableness and inconstancy of human nature, that very often both dejects and terrifies me. Whatever I am at present, I tremble to think what I may be. While I find this principle in me, how can I assure myself, that I shall be always true to my God, my friend, or myself? in short, without constancy there is neither love, friendship, or virtue in the world.
No. 216. SATURDAY, AUGUST 26, 1710.
-Nugis addere pondus.
From my own Apartment, August 25. NATURE is full of wonders; every atom is a standing miracle, and endowed with such qualities, as could not be impressed on it by a power and wisdom less than infinite. For this reason, I would not discourage any searches that are made into the most minute and trivial parts of the creation. However, since the world abounds in the noblest fields of speculation, it is, methinks, the mark of a little genius to be wholly conversant among insects, reptiles, animalcules, and those trifling rarities that furnish out the apartment of a virtuoso.
There are some men whose heads are so oddly turned this way, that though they are utter strangers to the common occurrences of life, they are able to discover the sex of a cockle, or describe the generation of a mite, in all its circumstances. They are so little versed in the world, that they scarce know a horse from an ox; but at the same time will tell you, with a great deal of gravity, that a flea is a rhinoceros, and a snail an hermaphrodite. I have known one of these whimsical philosophers who has set a greater value upon a collection of spiders than he would upon a flock of sheep, and has sold his coat off his back to purchase a tarantula.
I would not have a scholar wholly unacquainted with these secrets and curiosities of nature; but certainly the mind of
1 The rhythm of this sentence hurt by the repetition of “her”_" after her "_" loss of her.”
man, that is capable of so much higher contemplations, should not be altogether fixed upon such mean and disproportioned objects. Observations of this kind are apt to alienate us too much from the knowledge of the world, and to make us serious upon trifles, by which means they expose philosophy to the ridicule of the witty, and the contempt of the ignorant. In short, studies of this nature should be the diversions, relaxations, and amusements, not the care, business, and concern of life.
It is indeed wonderful to consider, that there should be a sort of learned men who are wholly employed in gathering together the refuse of nature, if I may call it so, and hoarding up in their chests and cabinets such creatures as others industriously avoid the sight of. One does not know how to mention some of the most precious parts of their treasure, without a kind of an apology for it. I have been shown a beetle valued at twenty crowns, and a toad at an hundred: but we must take this for a general rule, that whatever appears trivial or obscene in the common notions of the world, fooks grave and philosophical in the eye of a virtuoso.
a . To show this humour in its perfection, I shall present my reader with the legacy of a certain virtuoso, who laid out a considerable estate in natural rarities and curiosities, which upon his death-bed he bequeathed to his relations and friends in the following words:
THE WILL OF A VIRTUOSO.
I, NICHOLAS GIMCRACK, being in sound health of mind, but in great weakness of body, do by this my last will and testament bestow my worldly goods and chattels in manner following: Imprimis, To my dear wife,
One box of butterflies,
A dried cockatrice.
My receipt for preserving dead caterpillars. As also my preparations of winter May-dew, and embryo pickle.
Item, To my little daughter Fanny,
Three crocodile's eggs.
upon the birth of her first child, if she marries with her mother's consent,
The nest of an humming-bird. Item, To my eldest brother, as an acknowledgment for the lands he has vested in my son Charles, I bequeath
My last year's collection of grasshoppers. Item, To his daughter Susannah, being his only child, I bequeath my
English weeds pasted on royal paper,
With my large folio of Indian cabbage. Item, To my learned and worthy friend Dr. Johannes Elscrickius, professor in anatomy, and my associate in the studies of nature, as an eternal monument of
affection and friendship for him, I bequeath
My rat's testicles, and
Whale's pizzle, to him and his issue male; and in default of such issue in the said Dr. Elscrickius, then to return to my executor and his heirs for ever.
Having fully provided for my nephew Isaac, by making over to him some years since
A horned scarabæus,
The mummy of an Egyptian king,
My eldest son, John, having spoken disrespectfully of his little sister whom I keep by me in spirits of wine, and in many other instances behaved himself undutifully towards me, I do disinherit, and wholly cut off from any part of this my personal estate, by giving him a single cockle-shell.
To my second son, Charles, I give and bequeath all my flowers, plants, minerals, mosses, shells, pebbles, fossils, beetles, butterflies, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and vermin, not above specified: as also all my monsters, both wet and dry, making the said Charles whole and sole executor of this my last will and testament; he paying, or causing to be paid, the aforesaid legacies within the space of six months after my decease. And I do hereby revoke all other wills whatsoever by me formerly made.