« PředchozíPokračovat »
Et quoi quisque ferè studio devinatus adhæret,
que in quâ ratione fuit contenta magis mens,
-What studies, pleases, what most delight,
N one of my late rambles, or rather speculations, I
looked into the great hall where the bank is kept, and was not a little pleased to see the directors, secretaries, and clerks, with all the other members of that wealthy corporation, ranged in their several stations, according to the parts they act in that just and regular economy. This revived in my memory the many discourses which I had both read and heard concerning the decay of public credit, with the methods of restoring it, and which, in my opinion, have always been defective, because they have always been made with an eye to separate interests, and party principles.
The thoughts of the day gave my mind employment for the whole night, so that I fell insensibly into a kind of methodical dream, which disposed all my contemplations into a vision or allegory, or what else the reader fhall plcase to call it.
Methought I returned to the great hall, where I had been the morning before, but, to my surprise, instead of the company that I left there, I saw, towards the upper end of the hall, a beautiful virgin, seated on a throne of gold. Her name (as they told me) was Public Credit. The walls, instead of being adorned with pictures and maps, were hung with many acts of parliament written in goiden letters. At the upper end of the hall was the Magna Charta, with the act of uniformity on the right hand, and the act of toleration on the left. At the lower end of the hall was the act of Settlement, which was
placed full in the eye of the virgin that sat upon the throne. Both the sides of the hall were covered with such .. acts of parliament as had been made for the establishment of public funds. The Lady seemed to set an unspeakable value upon these several pieces of furniture, insomuch that the often refreshed her eye with them, and cften finiled with a secret pleasure as she looked upon them; but, at the same time, shewed a very particular uneasiness, if she saw any thing approaching that might hurt them. She appeared indeed infinitely timorous in all her behaviour; and, whether it was from the delicacy of her constitution, or that she was troubled with vapours, as I was afterwards told by one who I found was none of her well-wishers, she changed colour, and startled at every the heard. She was likewise (as I afterwards found) a greater valetudinarian than
any I had ever met with even in her own sex, and subject ro such momentary consumptions, that, in the twinkling of an eye, she would fall away from the most fiorid complection, and the most healthful state of body, and whither into a skeleton. Her recoveries were often as sudden as her decays, insomuch i hat she would revive in a moment out of a wasting distemper into a habit of the highest health and vigour.
I had very fuon an opportunity of observing these quick turns and changes in her constitution. There sat at her feet a couple of secretaries, who received every hour letters from all parts of the world, which the one or the other of them was perpetually reading to her; and according to the news the heard, to which the was exceedingly attentive, the changed colour, and discovered many symptoms of health or fickness,
Behind the throne was a prodigious heap of bags of money, which were piled upon one another fo high that they touched the ceiling. The floor, on her right hand and on her left, was covered with vast sums of gold that rose up in pyramids on either side of her: but this I did not so much wonder at, when I heard, upon inquiry, that she had the same virtue in her touch, which the poets tell us a Lydian king was formerly posiessed of;
and that she could convert whatever she pleased into that precious metal.
After a littie dizziness, and confused hurry of thought, which a man often meets with in a dream, methought the hall was alarmed, the doors flew open, and there entered half a dozen of the most hideous phantoms that I had ever seen, even in a dream, before that time. They came in two by two, though matched in the most dilfociable manner, and mingled together in a kind of dance. It would be tedious to describe their habits and persons ; for which reason, I shall only inform my reader that the first couple were Tyranny and Anarchy, the second were Bigotry and Atheisin, the third, the Genius of a Commonwealth, and a young man of about twenty-two years of age, whose name I could not learn. He had a sword in his right hand, which in the dance he often brandished at the Act of Settlement; and a citizen, who stood by me, whispered in my ear, that he saw a sponge in his left hand. The dance of so many jarring natures put me in mind of the fun, moon, and earth, in the Rehearsal, that danced together for no other end but to eclipse one another.
The reader will easily suppose, by what has been before fail, that the Lady on the throne would have been almost frighted to distraction, had the feen but any one of these spectres; what then must have been her condition when the faw them all in a body? She fainted and died away at the sight;
Et neque jam color est sito candore ruberi;
anodò wija placebant ;
Her spirits faint,
There was as great a change in the hill of money-bags, and the heaps of money, the former ihrinking and falling into fo many empty bags, that I now found not above a tenth part of them had been filled with money. The rest
that took up the same space, and made the same figure as the bags that were really filled with money, had been blown up with air, and called into my memory the bags full of wind, which Homer tells us his hero received as a present from Æolus. The great heaps of gold on either lide the throne now appeared to be only heaps of paper, or little piles of notched fiicks, bound up together in bundles like Bath-faggots.
Whilft I was lamenting this sudden defolation that had been made before me, the whole scene vanished; In the room of the frightful spectres, there now entered a second dance of apparitions, yery agreeably matched together, and made up of very amiable phantoms. The first pair was Liberty with Monarchy at her right hand; the second was Moderation, leading in Religion ; and the third a person whom I had never seen, with the genius of Great Britain. At the first enterance the Lady revived, the bays fwelled to their former bulk, the piles of faggots and heaps of paper changed into pyramids of guineas : and for my own part, I was fo transported with joy, that I awaked, though, I must confess, I would fain have fallen asleep again to have closed my vision, if I could have done it.
No. IV. MONDAY, MARCH 5.
-Egregii mortalem altique filenti?
One of uncommon silence and reserve.
N author, when he first appears in the world, is very
apt to believe it has nothing to think of but his performances. With a good share of this vanity in my heart, I made it my busine?s these three days to listen after my own fame; and as I have fometimes met with circumstances which did not displcafe me, I have been encountered by <thers which gave me as much mortification, It is incredible to think how empty I have in this time observed some part of the species to be, what mere blanks they are when they first come abroad in the morning, how utterly they are at a stand until they are set a going by fome paragraph in a news-paper : tuch persons are very acceptable to a young author, for they desire no more in any thing but to be new to be agrceable. If I found confolation among fuch, I was as much disquieted by the incapacity of others. These are mortals who have a certain curiosity without power of reflection, and perused my papers like spectators rather than readers. But there is so little pleasure in inquiries that so nearly concern ourselves (it being the worst way in the world to fame, to be too anxious about it) that upon the whole I refolved for the future to go on in my ordinary way; and without too inuch fear or liope about the business of reputation, to be very careful of the design of my actions, but very negligent of the consequence of them.
It is an endless and frivolous pursuit to act by any other rule than the care of fatisfying our own minds in what we do. One would think a filent man, who concerns inimself with no one breathing, should be very little liable to misinterpretations; and yet I remember I was once taken up for a Jesuit, for no other reason but my profound taciturnity. It is from this misfortune, that to be out of liaris way, I have ever since affected crowds. He who comes into assemblics only to gratify his curiosity, and not to make a figure, enjoys the pleasures of retirement in a more exquisite degree than he poilibly could in his closit; the lover, the ambitious, and the miser, are followed thither by a worse crowd than any they can withdraw frem. To be exempt from the paflions with which others arc tormented, is the only pleasing folitude. I can very justy say with the ancient sage, “ I am never less alone than when alone.” As I am insignificant to the company in public places, and as it is visible I do not come thither, as most do, to fhew myself. I gratify the vanity of all who pretend to make an appearace, and have often as kind looks from well-dress'd Gentlemen and Ladies, as a poet would beítow upon one of his audience. There are so many gratifications attend this public fort of obscurity,