« PředchozíPokračovat »
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 fettlement, which was placed full in the eye of the virgin that fat upon the throne. Both the fides of the hall were covered with fuch acts of parliament as had been made for the establishment of public funds. The lady feemed to fet an unfpeakable value upon thefe feveral pieces of furniture, infomuch that the often refreshed her eye with them, and often fimiled with a fecret pleafure, as fhe looked upon them; but, at the fame time, fhewed a very particular uneafinefs, if the faw 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 conftitution, or that fhe was troubled with vapours, as I was afterwards told by one who I found was none of her well-withers, fhe changed colour, and ftartled at every thing fhe heard. She was likewife (as I afterwards found) a greater valetudinarian than any I had ever met with, even in her own fex, and fubject to fuch momentary confumptions, that in the twinkling of an eye, fhe would fall away from the most florid complexion, and the most healthful ftate of body, and wi-' ther into a skeleton. Her recoveries were often as fudden as her decays, infomuch that fhe would revive in a moment out of a wasting diftemper into a habit of the higheft health and vigour.
I had very foon an opportunity of obferving these quick turns and changes in her conftitution. There fat at her feet a couple of fecretaries, 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 fhe heard, to which she was exceedingly attentive, fhe changed colour, and difcovered many fymptoms of health or sickness.
Behind the throne was a prodigious heap of bags of money, which were piled upon one another so high that they touched the cieling. The floor, on her right hand, and on her left, was covered with vaft fums of gold that rofe up in pyramids on either fide of her: but this I did not fo much wonder at, when I heard, upon inquiry, that she had the fame virtue in her touch,
which the poets tell us a Lydian king was formerly poffeffed of: and that he could convert whatever the pleafed into that precious metal.
After a little dizzinefs, 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 moft 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 diffociable manner, and mingled together in a kind of dance. It would be tedious to defcribe their habits and perfons, for which reason I fhall only inform my reader, that the first couple were tyranny and anarchy, the fecond were bigotry and atheism, 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 fword in his right hand, which in the dance he often brandifhed at the act of fettlement; and a citizen, who stood by me, whispered in my ear, that he faw a fpunge in his left hand. The dance of fo 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 eafily fuppofe, by what has been before faid, 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 she saw them all in a body? she fainted and died away at the fight.
Et neque jam color eft mifto candore rubori;
Nec vigor, & vires, & quæ modò visa placebant ;
Her fpirits faint,
Her blooming cheeks affume a palid teint,
There was as great a change in the hill of moneybags, and the heaps of money, the former fhrinking, 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 fame 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 prefent from Eolus. The great heaps of gold on either fide the throne, now appeared to be only heaps of paper, or little piles of notched fticks, bound up together in bundles, like Bath-faggots.
Whilft I was lamenting this fudden defolation that had been made before me, the whole scene vanished. In the room of the frightful spectres, there now entered a fecond dance of apparitions very agreeably matched together, and made up of very amiable phantoms. The first pair was liberty with monarchy at her right hand: the fecond was moderation leading in religion; and the third a person whom I had never feen, with the genius of Great-Britain. At the first entrance the lady revived, the bags fwelled to their former bulk, the pile of fag. gots and heaps of paper changed into pyramids of guineas and for my own part I was fo tranfported with joy, that I awaked, though I must confefs, I would fain have fallen afleep again to have closed my vision, if I could have done it.
Monday, March 5.
-Egregii mortalem altique filenti ?
AN 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 hare of this vanity. in my heart, I made it my bufinefs these three days to listen after my own fame; and as I have fometimes met with circumstances which did not difpleafe me, I have been encountered by others which gave me as much mortification. It is incredible to think how empty I have in this time obferved fome part of the fpecies 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 fet a going by fome paragraph in a news-paper : fuch perfons are very acceptable to a young author, for they defire no more in any thing but to be new to be agreeable. If I found confolation among fuch, I was as much disquieted by the incapacity of others. These are mortals who have a certain curiofity without power of reflection, and perufed my papers like fpectators rather than readers. But there is fo little pleasure in enquiries that fo 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 much fear or hope about the bufinefs of reputation, to be very careful of the design of my actions, but very negligent of the confequences of them.
It is an endless and frivolous purfuit 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 concerned himself with no one breathing, fhould be very little liable to mifinterpretations; and yet I remember I was once taken up for a Jefuit, for no other reason but my profound taciturnity. It is from this misfortune that, to be out of harm's way, I have ever since affected crowds. He who comes into affemblies only to gratify his curiofity, and not to make a figure, enjoys the pleafures of retirement in a more exquifite degree than he poffibly could in his closet; the lover, the ambitious, and the mifer, are followed thither by a worse crowd than any they can withdraw from. To be exempt from the paffions with which others are tormented, is the only pleafing folitude. I can very juftly fay with the ancient fage, I am never lefs alone than when alone. As I am infignificant to the company in public places, and as it is vifible I do not come thither as mot do, to fhew myself, I gratify the vanity of all who pretend to make an appearance, and have often as kind looks from well-dreffed gentlemen and ladies, as a poet would bestow upon one of his audience. There are fo many gratifications attend this public fort of obfcurity, that fome little diftaftes I daily receive have loft their anguish; and I did the other day, without the least
difpleafure, overhear one fay of me, That frange fellow; and another anfwer, I have known the fellow's face these twelve years, and fo must you; but I believe you are the firft ever asked who he was. There are, I muft confefs, many to whom my perfon is as well known as that of their nearest relations, who give themfelves no farther trouble about calling me by my name or quality, but fpeak of me very currently by Mr. What dye call him.
To make up for these trivial disadvantages, I have the highest fatisfaction of beholding all nature with an unprejudiced eye; and having nothing to do with mens paffions or interefts, I can with the greater fagacity confider their talents, manners, failings, and merits.
It is remarkable, that thofe who want any one fenfe, poffefs the others with greater force and vivacity. Thus my want of, or rather refignation of speech, gives me all the advantages of a dumb man. I have, methinks, a more than ordinary penetration in feeing; and flatter myself that I have looked into the highest and lowest of mankind, and make threwd gueffes, without being admitted to their converfation, at the inmoft thoughts and reflections of all whom I behold. It is from hence that good or ill fortune has no manner of force towards affecting my judgment. I fee men flourishing in courts, and languifhing in jails, without being prejudiced from their circumftances to their favour or difadvantage; but from their inward manner of bearing their condition, often pity the profperous, and admire the unhappy.
Thofe who converfe with the dumb, know from the turn of their eyes, and the changes of their countenance, their fentiments of the objects before them. I have indulged my filence to fuch an extravagance, that the few who are intimate with me, anfwer my fmiles with concurrent fentences, and argue to the very point I fhaked my head at, without my fpeaking. WILL HONEYCOMB was very entertaining the other night at a play, to a gentleman who fat on his right hand, while I was at his left. The gentleman believed WILL was talking to himself, when upon my looking with great approbation at a young thing in a box before us, he faid,