« ForrigeFortsæt »
pations of his approaching joy. It shall bid his soul go out of the body undauntedly, and lift up its head with confidence before saints and angels. Surely the comfort, which it conveys at this season, is something bigger than the capacities of mortality, mighty and unspeakable, and not to be understood till it comes to be felt.
* And now, who would not quit all the pleasures, and trash, and trifles, which are apt to captivate the heart of man, and pursue the greatest rigours of piety, and austerities of a good life, to purchase to himself such a conscience, as, at the hour of death, when all the friendship in the world shall bid him adieu, and the whole creation turn its back upon him, shall dismiss the soul, and close his eyes with that blessed sentence, “ Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord?”
No. 136. MONDAY, AUGUST 17.
Noctes atque dies patet atri janua ditis. VIRG. Some of our quaint moralists have pleased themselves with an observation, that there is but one way of coming into the world, but a thousand to go out of it. I have seen a fanciful dream written by a Spaniard, in which he introduces the person of Death metamorphosing himself, like another Proteus, into innumerable shapes and figures. To represent the fatality of fevers and agues, with many other distempers and accidents that destroy the life of man; Death enters first of all in a body of fire, a little after he appears like a man of snow, then rolls about the room like a cannon ball, then lies on the table like a gilded pill : after this he transforms himself, of a sudden, into a sword, then dwindles successively to a dagger, to a bodkin, to a crooked pin, to a needle, to a hair. The
Şpaniard's design, by this allegory, was to show the many assaults to which the life of man is exposed, and to let his reader see that there was scarce any thing in nature so very mean and inconsiderable, but that it was able to overcome him and lay his head in the dust, I remember Monsieur Paschal, in his reflections on Providence, has this observation upon Cromwell's death. “That usurper,' says he, 'who had destroyed the royal family in his own nation, who had made all the princes of Europe treinble, and struck a terror into Rome itself, was at last taken out of the world by a fit of the gravel. An atom, a grain of sand,' says he, that would have been of no significancy in any other part of the universe, being lodged in such a particular place, was an instrument of Providence to bring about the most happy revolution, and to remove from the face of the earth this troubler of mankind.' In short, swarms of distempers are every where hovering over us; casualties, whether at home or abroad, whether we wake or sleep, sit or walk, are planted about us in ambuscade ; every element, every climate, every season, all nature is full of death.
There are more casualties incident to men than women, as battles, sea-voyages, with several dangerous trades and professions, that often prove fatal to the prac tioners. I have seen a treatise written by a learned physician on the distempers peculiar to those who work in stone or marble. It has been therefore observed by curious men, that, upon a strict examination, there are more males brought into the world than females. Providence, to supply this waste in the species, has made allowances for it by a suitable redundancy in the male sex. Those who have made the nicest calculations have found, I think, that, taking one year with another, there are about twenty boys produced to nineteen girls
. This observation is so well grounded, that I will at any time lay five to four, that there appear more male than female infants in every weekly bill of mortality. And what can be a more demonstrative argument for the superintendency of Providence ?
There are casualties incident to every particular station and way of life. : A friend of mine was once saying, that he fancied there would be something new and diverting in a country bill of mortality. Upon communicating this hint to a gentleman who was then going down to his seat, which lies at a considerable distance from London, he told me he would make a collection, as well as he could, of the several deaths that had happened in his county for the space of a whole year, and send them up to me in the form of such a bill as I mentioned. The reader will here see that he has been as good as his promise. · To make it the more entertaining, he has set down, among the real distempers, some imaginary ones, to which the country people ascribed the deaths of some of their neighbours. I shall extract out of them such only as seem almost peculiar to the country, laying aside fevers, apoplexies, small-pox, and the like, which they have in common with towns and cities.
Of a six-bar gate, fox-hunters
woman of the parish
shoulder by saving his dog at a bull-baiting Lady Bi's cordial water Knocked down by a quart bottle
1 1 13 9 7 1
1 2 1
Frighted out of his wits by a headless dog with
saucer eyes Of October
25 Broke a vein in bawling for a knight of the shire Old woman drowned upon trial of witchcraft Climbing a crow's nest
1 Chalk and green apples
4 Led into a horse-pond by a Will of the Whisp Died of a fright in an exercise of the trained bands 1 Over-ate himself at a house-warming By the parson's bull
2 Vagrant beggars worried by the squire's house-dog 2 Shot by mistake
1 Of a mountebank doctor
6 Of the Merry-Andrew
1 Caught her death in a wet ditch
100 Foul distemper
No. 137. TUESDAY, AUGUST 18.
Juv. Horace, Juvenal, Boileau, and indeed the greatest writers in almost every age, have exposed, with all the strength of wit and good sense, the vanity of a man's valuing himself upon his ancestors, and endeavoured to show that true nobility consists in virtue, not in birth. With submission, however, to so many great authorities, I think they have pushed this matter a little too far. We ought, in gratitude, to honour the posterity of those who have raised either the interest or reputation of their country, and by whose labours we ourselves are more happy, wise, or virtuous than we should have been without them. Besides, naturally speaking, a man bids fairer for greatness of soul, who is the descendant of worthy ancestors, and has good blood in his veins, than one who is come of an ignoble and obscure parentage. For these reasons I think a man of merit, who is derived from an illustrious line, is very justly to be regarded more than a man of equal merit who has no claim to hereditary honours. Nay, I think those who are indifferent in themselves, and have nothing else to distinguish them but the virtues of their forefathers, are to be looked upon with a degree of veneration even upon that account, and to be more respected than the common run of men who are of low and vulgar extraction.
After having thus ascribed due honours to birth and parentage, I must however take notice of those who arrogate to themselves more honours than are due to them upon this account. The first are such who are not enough sensible that vice and ignorance taint the blood, and that an unworthy behaviour degrades and disennobles a man, in the eye of the world, as much as birth and family aggrandise and exalt him.
The second are those who believe a new man of an elevated merit is not more to be honoured than an insignificant and worthless man who is descended from a long line of patriots and heroes: or, in other words, behold with contempt a person who is such a man as the first founder of their family was, upon whose rea putation they value themselves.
But I shall chiefly apply myself to those whose quality sits uppermost in all their discourses and behavi
An empty man, of a great family, is a creature that is scarce conversible. You read his ancestry in his smile, in his air, in his eye-brow. He has, indeed, nothing but his nobility to give employment to his thoughts. Rank and precedency are the important points which he is always discussing within himself. A gentleman of this turn began a speech in one of King Charles's parliaments: “Sir, I had the honour to be born at a time- upon which a rough, ho