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and his present state of life, which had raised a fit of devotion in him, he threw off his clothes with a design to wash himself, according to the custom of the Mahomedans, before he said his prayers.
After his first plunge into the sea, he no sooner raised his head above the water, but he found himself standing by the side of the tub, with the great men of his court about him, and the holy man at his side : he immediately upbraided his teacher for having sent him on such a course of adventures, and betrayed him into so long a state of misery and servitude; but was wonderfully surprised when he heard that the state he talked of was only a dream and delusion; that he had not stirred from the place where he then stood; and that he had only dipped his head into the water, and immediately taken it out again.
The Mahomedan doctor took this occasion of instructing the Sultan that nothing was impossible with God; and that He, with whom a thousand years are but as one day, can if He pleases make a single day, nay a single moment, appear to any of His creatures as a thousand years.
I shall leave my reader to compare these Eastern fables with the notions of those two great philosophers whom I have quoted in this paper; and shall only, by way of application, desire him to consider how we may extend life beyond its natural dimensions by applying ourselves diligently to the pursuits of knowledge.
The hours of a wise man are lengthened by his ideas, as those of a fool are by his passions: the time of the one is long, because he does not know what to do with it; so is that of the other, because he distinguishes every moment of it with useful or amusing thought; or in other words, because the
one is always wishing it away, and the other always enjoying it.
How different is the view of past life, in the man who is grown old in knowledge and wisdom, from that of him who is grown old in ignorance and folly ? The latter is like the owner of a barren country, that fills his eye with the prospect of naked hills and plains which produce nothing either profitable or ornamental; the other beholds a beautiful and spacious landscape, divided into delightful gardens, green meadows, fruitful fields, and can scarce cast his eye on a single spot of his possessions that is not covered with some beautiful plant or flower.
No. 95. Tuesday, June 19, 1711
Curæ leves loquuntur, ingentes stupent.-Seneca. I JAVING read the two following letters with I much pleasure, I cannot but think the good
sense of them will be as agreeable to the town as anything I could say, either on the topics they treat of or any other. They both allude to former papers of mine, and I do not question but the first, which is upon inward mourning, will be thought the production of a man who is well acquainted with the generous earnings of distress in a manly temper, which is above the relief of tears. A speculation of my own on that subject I shall defer until another occasion.
The second letter is from a lady of a mind as great as her understanding. There is, perhaps, something in the beginning of it which I ought in modesty to conceal; but I have so much esteem for
defer until and letter is from.
The second ner occasion."mat subject 1
There is ought in
this correspondent, that I will not alter a tittle of what she writes, though I am thus scrupulous at the price of being ridiculous.
general mourning, and should be obliged to you if you would enter into the matter more deeply, and give us your thoughts upon the common sense the ordinary people have of the demonstrations of grief, who prescribe rules and fashions to the most solemn affliction, such as the loss of the nearest relations and dearest friends. You cannot go to visit a sick friend, but some impertinent waiter about him observes the muscles of your face as strictly as if they were prognostics of his death or recovery. If he happens to be taken from you, you are immediately surrounded with numbers of these spectators, who expect a melancholy shrug of your shoulders, a pathetical shake of your head, and an expressive distortion of your face, to measure your affection and value for the deceased : but there is nothing, on these occasions, so much in their favour as immoderate weeping. As all their passions are superficial, they imagine the seat of love and friendship to be placed visibly in the eyes : they judge what stock of kindness you had for the living by the quantity of tears you pour out for the dead; so that if one body wants that quantity of salt-water another abounds with, he is in great danger of being thought insensible or ill-natured : they are strangers to friendship, whose grief happens not to be moist enough to wet such a parcel of handkerchiefs. But
1 See No. 64.
experience has told us nothing is so fallacious as this outward sign of sorrow; and the natural history of our bodies will teach us that this flux of the eyes, this faculty of weeping, is peculiar only to some constitutions. We observe in the tender bodies of children, when crossed in their little wills and expectations, how dissolvable they are into tears: if this were what grief is in men, nature would not be able to support them in the excess of it for one moment. Add to this observation, how quick is their transition from this passion to that of their joy. I won't say we see often, in the next tender things to children, tears shed without much grieving. Thus it is common to shed tears without much sorrow, and as common to suffer much sorrow without shedding tears. Grief and weeping are indeed frequent companions, but, I believe, never in their highest excesses. As laughter does not proceed from profound joy, so neither does weeping from profound sorrow. The sorrow which appears so easily at the eyes cannot have pierced deeply into the heart. The heart, distended with grief, stops all the passages for tears or lamentations.
Now, sir, what I would incline you to in all this is, that you would inform the shallow critics and observers upon sorrow, that true affliction labours to be invisible, that it is a stranger to ceremony, and that it bears in its own nature a dignity much above the little circumstances which are affected under the notion of decency. You must know, sir, I have lately lost a dear friend, for whom I have not yet shed a tear, and for that reason your animadversions on that subject would be the more acceptable
June the 15th. ( hope there are but few that have so little - gratitude as not to acknowledge the usefulness of your pen, and to esteem it a public benefit; so I am sensible, be that as it will, you must nevertheless find the secret and incomparable pleasure of doing good, and be a great sharer in the entertainment you give. I acknowledge our sex to be much obliged, and I hope improved by your labours, and even your intentions more particularly for our service. If it be true, as it is sometimes said, that our sex have an influence on the other, your paper may be a yet more general good. Your directing us to reading is certainly the best means to our instruction ; but I think, with you, caution in that particular very useful, since the improvement of our understandings may, or may not, be of service to us, according as it is managed. It has been thought we are not generally so ignorant as ill taught, or that our sex does so often want wit, judgment, or knowledge, as the right application of them: you are so well bred, as to say your fair readers are already deeper scholars than the beaus, and that you could name some of them that talk much better than several gentlemen that make a figure at Will's : this may possibly be, and no great compliment, in my opinion, even supposing your comparison to reach Tom's ? and the Grecian : sure
i See No. 92.
2 Tom's Coffee-House, named after its landlord, Captain Thomas West, was on the north side of Russell Street, Covent Garden, opposite Button's. “After the play,' said Mackay in 1722, “the best company generally go to Tom's and Will's Coffee-Houses near adjoining, where there is playing at picquet, and the best of conversation till midnight.'