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by stamping upon divers of the more obvious parts of his workmanship such conspicuous impressions of his attributes, that a moderate degree of understanding and attention may suffice to make men acknowledge his being, yet I scruple not to think that assent very much inferior to the belief that the same objects are fitted to produce in a heedful and intelligent contemplator of them. For the works of God are so worthy of their author, that, besides the impresses of his wisdom and goodness that are left, as it were, upon their surfaces, there are a great many more curious and excellent tokens and effects of divine artifice in the hidden and innermost recesses of them; and these are not to be discovered by the perfunctory looks of oscitant and unskilful beholders; but require, as well as deserve, the most attentive and prying inspection of inquisitive and well-instructed considerers. And sometimes in one creature there may be I know not how many admirable things, that escape a vulgar eye, and yet may be clearly discerned by that of a true naturalist, who brings with him, besides a more than common curiosity and attention, a competent knowledge of anatomy, optics, cosmography, mechanics, and chemistry.
But treating elsewhere purposely of this subject, it may here suffice to say, that God has couched so many things in his visible works, that the clearer light a man has, the more he may discover of their unobvious exquisiteness, and the more clearly and distinctly he may discern those qualities that lie more obvious. And the more wonderful things he discovers in the works of nature, the more auxiliary
proofs he meets with to establish and enforce the argument, drawn from the universe and its parts, to evince that there is a God; which is a proposition of that vast weight and importance, that it ought to endear everything to us that is able to confirm it, and afford us new motives to acknowledge and adore the divine Author of things.
To be told that an eye is the organ of sight, and that this is performed by that faculty of the mind which, from its function, is called visive, will give a man but a sorry account of the instruments and manner of vision itself, or of the knowledge of that Opificer who, as the Scripture speaks, “formed the eye.” And he that can take up with this easy theory of vision, will not think it necessary to take the pains to dissect the eyes of animals, nor study the books of mathematicians, to understand vision; and accordingly will have but mean thoughts of the contrivance of the organ, and the skill of the artificer, in comparison of the ideas that will be suggested of both of them to him that, being profoundly skilled in anatomy and optics, by their help takes asunder the several coats, humours, and muscles, of which that exquisite dioptrical instrument consists; and having separately considered the figure, size, consistence, texture, diaphaneity, or opacity, situation, and connexion of each of them, and their coaptation in the whole eye, shall discover by the help of the laws of optics, how admirably this little organ, is fitted to receive the incident beams of light, and dispose them in the best manner possible for completing the lively representation of the almost infinitely various objects of sight. It is not by a slight survey. but by a diligent and
skilful scrutiny of the works of God, that a man must be, by a rational and affective conviction, engaged to acknowledge with the Prophet, that the Author of nature is "wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working."
[To SIR RICHARD STEELE belongs the honour of opening a new path in the field of literature. The first in order of time, of those Periodical Essays, which formed so important a feature in the literature of the age, was the Tatler, commenced by Steele in 1709. This was a small sheet published tri-weekly, and devoted chiefly to the discussion of manners. Addison became associated with him in the enterprise, soon after its commencement. The Tatler, which continued to the 271st number, was succeeded by the Spectator, a work of the same kind, but of a higher character. The Spectator was published daily, and extended to 635 numbers. Addison was the principal contributor to the Spectator, though Steele wrote a large number of articles. The latter also published another series of Essays of the same general character, under the title of the Guardian.]
It gives me much despair in the design of reforming the world by my speculations, when I find there always arise, from one generation to another, successive cheats and bubbles, as naturally as beasts of prey and those which are to be their food. There is hardly a man in the world, one would think, so ignorant as not to know that the ordinary quack-doctors, who publish their abilities in little brown billets, distributed
to all who pass by, are to a man impostors and murderers; yet such is the credulity of the vulgar and and the impudence of these professors, that the affair still goes on, and new promises of what was never done before are made every day. What aggravates the jest is, that even this promise has been made as long as the memory of man can trace it, and yet nothing performed, and yet still prevails. As I was passing along to-day, a paper given into my hand by a fellow without a nose, tells us as follows what good news is come to town, to wit, that there is now a certain cure for the French disease, by a gentleman just come from his travels.
"In Russel Court, over against the Cannon Ball, at the Surgeons' Arms, in Drury Lane, is lately come from his travels a surgeon, who hath practised surgery and physic, both by sea and land, these twenty-four years. He, by the blessing, cures the yellow jaundice, green-sickness, scurvy, dropsy, surfeits, long sea voyages, campaigns, &c., as some people that has been lame these thirty years can testify; in short, he cureth all diseases incident to men women or children."
If a man could be so indolent as to look upon this havoc of the human species which is made by vice and ignorance, it would be a good ridiculous work to comment upon the declaration of this accomplished traveller. There is something unaccountably taking among the vulgar in those who come from a great way off. Ignorant people of quality, as many there are of such, dote excessively this way; many instances of which every man will suggest to himself, without my enumeration of them. The ignorants of lower order, who cannot, like the upper ones, be profuse of
their money to those recommended by coming from a distance, are no less complaisant than the others; for they venture their lives for the same admiration.
"The doctor is lately come from his travels, and has practised both by sea and land, and therefore cures the green-sickness, long sea voyages, and campaigus." Both by sea and land! I will not answer for the distempers called "sea voyages and campaigns," but I daresay that of green-sickness might be as well taken care of if the doctor stayed ashore. But the art of managing mankind is only to make them stare a little to keep up their astonishment ; to let nothing be familiar to them, but ever to have something in their sleeve, in which they must think you are deeper than they are.
There is an ingenious fellow, a barber, of my acquaintance, who, besides his broken fiddle and a dried sea-monster, has a twine-cord, strained with two nails at each end, over his window, and the words, "rainy, dry, wet," and so forth, written to denote the weather, according to the rising or falling of the cord. We very great scholars are not apt to wonder at this; but I observed a very honest fellow, a chance customer, who sat in the chair before me to be shaved, fix his eye upon this miraculous performance during the operation upon his chin and face. When those and his head also were cleared of all incumbrances and excrescences, he looked at the fish, then at the fiddle, still grubling in his pockets, and casting his eye again at the twine, and the words writ on each side; then altered his mind as to farthings, and gave my friend a silver six pence. The business, as I said, is to keep up the amazement; and if my friend had only the skeleton