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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 Teader 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 ever. 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 his wife, died a few months after her, not being able to survive the loss of her.
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, nor virtue, in the world.
WILL OF A VIRTUOSO. No. 216.
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 a 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 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 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 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 part 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 a hundred: but we must take this for a general rule, that whatever appears trivial or obscene in the common notions of the world, looks grave and philosophical in the eye virtuoso.
To show this humour in its perfection, I shall present my reader with a 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 Jast will and testament bestow my worldly goods and chattels in manner following: Imprimis, To my dear wife,
One box of butterflies,
A dead cockatrice,
My receipt for preserving dead caterpillars,
And upon the birth of her first child, if she marries with her mother's consent,
The nest of a 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 grashoppers.' Item, To his daughter Susanna, being his only child, I bequeath my
English weeds pasted on royal paper,
With my large folio of Indian cabbage. 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 spoke disrespectfully of his little sister, whom I keep by me in spirits of wine, and in many other instances behaved himself undutin fully 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, grashoppers, and vermin, not above specified; as also all my monsters, both wel 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 de
cease. And I do hereby revoke all other wills what soever by me formerly made.
THE FLORIST. No. 218.
I chanced to rise very early one particular morning this summer, and took a walk into the country to divert myself among the fields and meadows, while the green was new, and the flowers in their blooni. As at this season of the year every lane is a beautiful walk, and every hedge full of nosegays, I lost myself with a great deal of pleasure among several thickets and bushes that were filled with a great variety of birds and an agreeable confusion of notes, which formed the pleasantest scene in the world to one who had passed a whole winter in noise and smoke. The freshness of the dews that lay upon every thing about me, with the cool breath of the morning, which inspired the birds with so many delightful instincts, created in me the same kind of animal pleasure, and made my heart overflow with such secret emotions of joy and satisfaction as are not to be described or accounted for. On this occasion, I could not but reflect on the beautiful simile in Milton :
As one who long in populous city pent,
Or dairy, each rural sight, each rural sound.