Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

which he sets so great a value, that he consides them as the noblest presents he can make to foriga princes and ambassadors. If we look into the con. monwealths of Holland and Venice, we shall find that in this particular they have made themselves the envy of the greatest monarchies.

Elzevir and Aldus are more frequently mentioned than any pen. sioner of the one, or doge of the other.

The several presses which are now in England, and the great encouragement which has been given to learning for some years last past, has made our own nation as glorious upon this account, as for its late triumphs and conquests. The new edition which is given us of Cæsar's Commentaries * has already been taken notice of in foreign gazettes, and is a work that does honour to the English press. It is 10 wonder that an edition should be very correct which has passed through the hands of one of the most accurate, learned, and judicious writers this age has produced. The beauty of the paper, of the character, and of the several cuts with which this noble work is illustrated, makes it the finest book that I have ever seen; and is a true instance of the English genius, which, though it does not come the first into any art, generally carries it to greater heights than any other country in the world. I am particularly glad that this author comes from a British printing-house in so great a magnificence, as he is the first who has given us any tolerable account of our country. My illiterate readers, if any such there are,

will be surprised to hear me talk of learning as the glory of a nation, and of printing as an art that gains a reputation to a people among whom it flourishes.

* A most beautiful edition of Cæsar's Memoirs, publichid about this time in folio, by Dr. Samuel Clarke.

When men's thoughts are taken up with avarice aud ambition, they cannot look upon any thing as great or valuable which does not bring with it an extraordinary power or interest to the person who is concerned in it. But as I shall never sink this paper so far as to engage with Goths and Van. dals, I shall only regard such kind of reasoners with that pity which is due to so deplorable a degree of Stupidity and ignorance.

L.

N° 368. FRIDAY, MAY 2, 1712,

Nos decebat
Lugere ubi esset aliquis in lucem editus, 1
Humanæ vitæ vario reputantes mala :
At qui labores morte finisset graves,
Omnes amicos laude et latitiâ exequi.

EURIP. apud TULL,
When first an infant draws the vital air,
Officious grief should welcome him to care :
But joy should life's concluding scene attend,

And mirth be kept to grace a dying friend. As the Spectator is in a kind a paper of news from the natural world, as others are from the busy and politic part of mankind, I shall translate the following letter, written to an eminent French gen. tleman in this town from Paris, which gives us the exit of an heroine who is a pattern of patience and generosity. SIR,

Paris, April 18, 17120 It is so many years since you left your native country, that I am to tell you

the characters

[ocr errors]

of your nearest relations as much as if you were an utter stranger to them. The occasion of this is to give you an account of the death of Madam de Villa cerfe, whose departure out of this life I know not whe. ther a man of your philosophy will call unfortunate or not, since it was attended with some circumstances as much to be desired as to be lamented. She was her whole life happy in an uninterrupted health, and was always honoured for an evenness of temper and greatness of mind. On the 10th instant that lady was taken with an indisposition which confined her to her chamber, but was such as was too slight to make her take a sick-bed, and yet too grievous to admit of any satisfaction in being out of it. It is notoriously known that some years ago Monsieur Festeau, one of the most considerable surgeons in Paris, was desperately in love with this lady. Her quality placed her above any application to her on the account of his passion : but as a woman always has some regard to the person whom she believes to be her real admirer, she now took it in her head (upon advice of her physicians to lose some of her blood) to send for Monsieur Festeau on that occasion. I happened to be there at that time, and my near relation gave me the privilege to be present. As soon as her'arm was stripped bare, and he began to press it in order to raise the vein, his colour changed, and I observed him seized with a sudden tremor, which made me take the liberty to speak of it to my cousin with some apprehension. She smiled, and said, she knew M. Festeau had no inclination to do her injury. He seemed to recover himself, and, smiling also, proceeded in his work. Immediately after the operation, he cried out that he was the most unfortunate of all men, for that he had opened an artery instead of a vein. It is as impossible to express the artist's distraction as the

patient's composure. I will not dwell on little cir. cumstances, but go on to inform you, that within three days' time it was thought necessary to take off her arm. She was so far from using Festeau as it would be natural for one of a lower spirit to treat him, that she would not let him be absent from any consultation about her present condition; and, aster having been about a quarter of an hour alone, she bid the surgeons, of whom poor Festeau was one, go on in their work. I know not how to give you tbe terms of art, but there appeared such symptoms after the amputation of her arm, that it was visible she could not live four and twenty hours. Her be. haviour was so magnanimous throughout the whole affair, that I was particularly curious in taking no. tice of what passed as her fate approached nearer and nearer, and took notes of what she said to all about her, particularly word for word what she spoke to M. Festeau, which was as follows:

“ Sir, you give me inexpressible sorrow for the 'anguish with which I see you overwhelmed. I am removed to all intents and purposes from the inte.. rests of human life, therefore I am to begin to think like one wholly unconcerned in it. I do not consin der you as one by whose error I have lost my life; no, you are my benefactor, as you have hastened my entrance into a happy immortality. This is my sense of this accident: but the world in which you live may have thoughts of it to your disadvantage : I hare therefore taken care to provide for you in my will, and have placed you above what you have to fear from their ill-nature.”

While this excellent woman spoke these words, Festean looked as if he received a condemnation to die, instead of a pension for his life. Madame de Villacerse live:l till cight of the clock the next night ; and though she must have Jaboured under the most

exquisite torments, she possessed her mind with so wonderful a patience, that one may rather

say

she ceased to breathe, than she died at that hour. You, who had not the happiness to be personally known to this lady, have nothing but to rejoice in the honour you had of being related to so great merit; but we, who have lost her conversation, cannot so easily resign our own happiness by reflection upon hers.

I am, sir,
Your affectionate kinsman,
and most obedient, humble servant,

PAUL REGNAUD.'

There hardly can be a greater instance of an he. roic mind than the unprejudiced manner in which this lady weighed this misfortune. The regard of life could not make her overlook the contrition of the unhappy man, whose more than ordinary concern for her was all his guilt. It would certainly be of sin. gular ise to human society to have an exact account of this lady's ordinary conduct, which was crowned by so uncommon magnanimity. Such greatness was not to be acquired in the last article ; nor is it to be doubted but it was a constant practice of all that is praise-worthy, which made her capable of beholding death, not as the dissolution, but consummation of her life.

T.

« ForrigeFortsett »