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• Good Mr PERT,
WILL allow you nothing till you resolve me the
following question. Pray what's the reason that while you only talk now upon Wednesdays, Fridays... ' and Mondays, you pretend to be a greater tatler, than • when you spoke every day as you formerly used to do? • If this be your plunging out of your taciturnity, pray • let the length of your speeches compensate for the scarce6 ness of them. I an,
Good Mr PERT,
Wednesday, August 28.
-Tenet infanabile multos
Juv. Sat. 7. V. 51..
The curfe of writing is an endless itch.
HERE is a certain distemper, which is mentioned
neither by Cialen nor Hippocrates, nor to be met with in the London Dispensary. Juvenal, in the motto of my paper, terms it a cacoethes; which is a hard word for a disease called in plain English, the itch of writing. This cacoethes is as epidemical as the small-pox, there being very few who are not seized with it some time or other in their lives. There is, however, this difference in these two distempers, that the first, after having indisposed you for a time, never returns again ; whereas this I am speaking of, when it is once got into the blood, feldom comes out of it. The British nation is very
much afflicted with this malady, and though very many remedies have been applied to persons infected with it, few of them have ever proved successful. Some have been cauterized with satires and lampoons, but have received
little or no benefit from them; others have had their heads fastened for an hour together between a cleft board, which is made use of as a cure for the disease when it appears in its greatest malignity. There is indeed one kind of this malady which has been sometimes removed, like the biting of a Tarantula, with the found of a musical instrument, which is commonly known by the name of a Catcall. But if you have a patient of this kind under your care, you may assure yourself there is no other way of recovering him effectually, but by forbidding him the use of pen, ink, and paper.
But to drop the allegory before I have tired it out, there is no species of feribblers more offensive, and more incurable than your periodical writers, whose works return upon the public on certain days, and at stated times. We have not the confolation in the perufal of these authors, which we find at the reading of all others, namely, that we are sure if we have but patience we may come to the end of their labours. I have often admired an humorous saying of Disgeries, who reading a dull author to several of his friends, when every one began to be tired, finding he was almost come to a blank leaf at the end of it, cried, Courage, lads, I see land. On the contrary, our progress through that kind of writers I am now speaking of, is never at an end. One day makes work for another, we do not know when to promise our. selves reft.
It is a melancholy thing to consider, that the art of printing, which might be the greatest blessing to mankind, should prove detrimental to us, and that it should be made use of to scatter prejudice and ignorance through a people, instead of conveying to them truth and knowledge.
I was lately reading a rery whimsical treatise, intitled, William Ramsay's Vindication of Aftrology. This profound author, among many mystical passages, has the following onc. « The absence of the sun is not the cause
of night, forasmuch as his light is so great that it may « illuminate the earth all over at once as clear as broad
day; but there are tenebrificous and dark stars, by whose * influence night is brought on, and which do ray out
• darkness and obscurity upon the earth, as the sun does • light.'
I CONSIDER writers in the same view this sage astrologer does the heavenly bodies. Some of them are stars that scatter light, as others do darkness. I could mention several authors who are tenebrificous stars of the first magnitude, and point out a knot of gentlemen who have been dull in confort, and may be looked upon as a dark constellation. The nation has been a great while benighted with several of these antiluminaries. I suffered them to ray out their darkness as long as I was able to endure it, till at length I came to a resolution of rising upon them, and hope in a little time to drive them quite out of the British hemisphere.
Friday, August 20.
Ipfe thymum pinosque ferens de montibus altis,
Virg. Georg. 4. V. 112:
With his ozun hand, the guardian of the lees,
Dryden, VERY station of life has duties which are proper
to it. Those who are determined by choice to any particular kind of business, are indeed more happy than those who are determined by necesity, but both are under an equal obligation of fixing on employments, which may be either useful to themselves, or beneficial to others; no one of the sons of Adain paght to think himself ex- . empt from that labour and industry, which were denounced to our first parent, and in him to all his posterity. Those to whom birth or fortune may seem to make such
an application unnecessary, ought to find out some calling or profeffion for themselves, that they may not lie as a burden on the species, and be the only useless parts of the creation.
Many of our country gentlemen in their busy hours apply themselves wholly to the chise, or to fome other diversion which they find in the fields and woods. This gave occasion to one of our most eminent English writers to represent every one of them as lying under a kind of curse pronounced to them in the words of Goliuh, I will give ibee to the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the peld.
THOUGH exercises of this kind, when indulged with moderation, may have a good influence both on the mind and body, the country
other amusements of a more noble kind.
AMONG these I know none more delightful in itself, and beneficial to the public, than that of planting. I could mention a nobleman whose fortune has placed him in several parts of England, and who has always left these visible marks behind him, which shew he has been there : he never hired a house in his life, without leaving all about it the feeds of wealth, and bestowing legacies on the posterity of the owner. Had all the gentlemen of England made the fame improvements upon their eftates, our whole country would have been at this time as one great garden. Nor ought such an employment to be looked upon as too inglorious for men of the highest rank. There have been heroes in this art, as well as in others. We are told in particular of Cyrus the Great, that he planted all the Lesser Afia. There is indeed something truly magniscent in this kind of anafement: it gives a nobler air to several parts of nature: it fills the earth with a variety of beautiful scenes, and has something in it like creation. For this reason the pleasure of one who plants is something like that of a poet, who, as Aristotle observes, is more delighted with his productions than any other writer or artist whatsoever.
PLANTATIONS have one advantage in them which is not to be found in most other works, as they give a pleasure of a more lasting date, and continually improve in the eye of the planter. When you have finished a building
or any other undertaking of the like nature, it immediately decays upon your hands; you see it brought to the utmost point of perfection, and from that time hastening to its ruin. On the
have finished your plantations, they are still arriving at greater degrees of perfection as long as you live, and appear more delightful in every succeeding year, than they did in the foregoing.
But I do not only recommend this art to men of estates as a pleasing amusement, but as it is a kind of virtuous employment, and may therefore be inculcated by moral motives ; particularly from the love which we ought to have for our country, and the regard which we ought to bear to our posterity. As for the first, I need only mention what is frequently observed by others, that the increase of forest-trees does by no means bear a proportion to the destruction of them, insomuch that in a few
may be at a loss to supply itself with timber sufficient for the fleets of England. I know when a man talks of posterity in matters of this nature, he is looked
with of ridicule by the cunning and selfish part of mankind. Most people are of the humour of an old fellow of a college, who, when he was pressed by the society to come into something that might redound to the good of their fucceffors, grew very peevilh ; ' We are always do*ing,' says he, something for posterity, but I would ' fain fee pofterity do something for us.'
But I think men are inexcusable who fail in a duty of this nature, since it is so easily discharged. When a man confiders that the putting a few twigs into the ground, is doing good to one who will make his appearance in the world about fifty years hence, or that he is perhaps making one of his own descendants easy cr rich, by so inconsiderable an expense; if he finds himself averse to it, he must conclude that he has a poor and base heart, void of all generous principles and love to mankind.
There is one confideration, which may very force what I have here faid. Many honest minds that are naturally disposed to do good in the world, and become beneficial to mankind, complain within themselves that they have not talents for it. This therefore is a good of fice, which is suited to the meanest capacities, and which