Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

own reward along with it, since it is almost impose sible it should be exercised without the improve ment of the person who practises it. The reading of books and the daily occurrences of life, are continually furnishing us with matter for thought and reflection. -. It is extremely natural for us to desire to, sce such our thoughts put in the dress of words, without which, indeed, we can scarce have a clear and distinct idea of them ourselves. When they are thus clothed in expressions, nothing so truly shows us whether they are just or false, as those effects which they produce in the minds of others.

I am apt to flatter myself, that, in the course of these my speculations, I have treated of several subjects, and laid down-many such rules for the conduct of a man's life, which my readers were either wholly ignorant of before, or which at least those few who were acquainted with them looked upon as so many secrets they have found out for the conduct of themselves, but were resolved never to have made public.

I am the more confirmed in this opinion from my having received several letters, wherein I am censured for having prostituted Learning to the embraces of the vulgar, and made her, as one of my correspondents phrases it, a common strum. pet. I am charged by another with laying open the arcana or secrets of prudence to the eyes of every reader.

The narrow spirit which appears in the letters of these my correspondents is the less surprising, as it has shown itself in all ages : there is still extant an epistle written by Alexander the Great to his tutor Aristotle, upon that philosopher's publishing some part of his writings; in which the prince complains of his having made known to all the world those se, crets in learning which he had before communi. cated to him in private lectures ; concluding, that he had rather excel the rest of mankind in know. ledge than in power.

Louisa de Padilla, a lady of great learning, and countess of Aranda, was in like manner angry with the famous Gratian, upon his publishing his treatise of the Discreto, wherein she fancied that he had laid open those maxims to common readers which ought only to have been reserved for the knowledge of the great.

These objections are thought by many of so much weight, that they often defend the above-men-tioned authors by affirming they have affected such an obscurity in their style and manner of writing, that, though every one may read their works, there will be but very few who can comprehend their meaning

Persius, the Latin satirist, affected obscurity for another reason; with which, however, Mr. Cowley is so offended, that, writing to one of his friends, • You,' says he, tell me, that you do not know whether Persius bea good poet or no, because you cannot understand him ; for which very reason 1 affirm that he is not so.'

However, this art of writing unintelligibly has been very much improved, and followed by several of the moderns, who, observing the general incli. nation of mankind to dive into a secret, and the reputation many have acquired by concealing their meaning under obscure terms and phrases, resolve, that they may be still more abstruse, to write with out any meaning at all. ' This art, as it is at present practised by many eminent authors, consists in throwing so many words at a venture into different · periods, and leaving the curious reader to find the meaning of them.

The Egyptians, who made use of hieroglyphics to signify several things, 'expressed a man who con. fined his knowledge and discoveries altogether. within himself by the figure of a dark lantern closed on all sides; which, though it was illumi. nated within, afforded no manner of light or advan. tage to such as stood by it. For my own part, as I shall from time to time communicate to the pubJic whatever discoveries I happen to make, I should much rather be compared to an ordinary lamp, which consumes and wastes itself for the benefit of every passenger.

I shall conclude this paper with the story of Rosicrusius's sepulchre. I suppose I need not in. form my readers that this man was the author of the Rosicrusian sect, and that his disciples still pretend to new discoveries, which they are never to commu. nicate to the rest of mankind*.

“A certain person having occasion to dig some. what deep in the ground, where this philosopher Jay interred, met with a small door, having a wall on each side of it. His curiosity, and the hopes of finding some hidden treasure, soon prompted him to force

the door. He was immediately surprised by a sudden blaze of light, and discovered a very fair vault. At the upper end of it was a statue of a man in armour, sitting by a table, and leaning on his left arm. He held a truncheon in his right hand, and had a lamp burning before him. The man had no sooner set one foot within the vault, than the statue 'erected itself from its leaning posture, stood bolt up-right, and, upon the fellow's advancing another step, lifted up the trun. cheon in his right hand. The man still ventured a third step, when the statue, with a furious blow, broke the lamp into a thousand pieces, and left his guest in a sudden darkness.

open

See Comte de Gabalis, par l'Abbe Villars. 1742. vols. in 12mo. and Pope's Works, ed. of Warb. vol. 1. p. 109 12me. 1770. 6 vols.

Upon the report of this adventure, the country people soon came with lights to the sepulchre, and discovered that the statue, which was made of brass, was nothing more than a piece of clock-work ; that the floor of the vault was all loose, and underlaid with several springs, which, upon any man's entering, naturally produced that which had hap

Rosicrusius, say his disciples, made use of this method to show the world that he had re-invented the ever burning lamps of the ancients though he was resolved no one should reap any advantage from the discovery.

X.

pened.'

No $80. FRIDAY MAY, 16, 1712.

Rivalem patienter habe.

OIVD. Ars Am. ii. 538. With patience bear a rival in thy love.

SIR,

Thursday, May 8, 1712. "The character you have in the world of being the ladies' philosopher, and the pretty advice I have seen you give to others in your papers, make me address myself to you in this abrupt manner, and to desire your opinion of what in this age a woman may call a lover, I have lately had a gentleman that I thought made pretensions to me,

insomuch that most of my friends took notice of
it, and thought we were really married. I did not
take much pains to, undeceive them, and especially
a young gentlewoman of my particular acquaint-
ance, who was then in the country. She coming
to town, and seeing our intimacy so, great, she
gave herself the liberty of taking me to task con-
cerning it: I ingenuously told her we were not mar.
ried, but I did not know what might be the event.
She soon got acquainted with the gentleman, and
was pleased to take upon her to examine him about
it. Now, whether a new face had made a great-
er conquest than the old I will leave you to judge.
I am informed that he utterly denied all preten.
sions to courtship, but withal professed a sincere
friendship for 'me; buit, whether marriages are pro-
posed by way of friendship or not, is what I desire
to know, and what I may really call a lover? There
are so many who talk in a language fit only for that
character, and yet guard themselves against speak.
ing in direct terms to the point, that it is impossible
to distinguish between courtship and conversation.
I hope you will do me justice both upon' my lover
and my friend, if they provoke me further. In the
mean time I carry it with so equal a behaviour, tha
the nymph and the swain too are mightily at a loss :
each believes I, who know them both well, think my-
self revenged in their love to one another, which
creates an irreconcileable jealousy. If all comes right
again, you shall hear further from, sir,
Your most obedient servant,

MYRTILLA.
MR. SPECTATOR,

April 28, 1712. Your observations on persons that have behaved themselves irreverently at church, I doubt not have had a good effect on some that have read

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »