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when set in comparison with the designs of Provilence. In the pursuit of this thought, I considered a comet, or, in the language of the vulgar, a blazingstar, as a sky-rocket is discharged by a hand that is Almighty. Many of my readers saw that in the year 1680, and, if they are not mathematicians, will be amazed to hear that it travelled in a much greater degree of swiftness than a cannon ball, and drew after it a tail of fire that was four score millions of miles in length. What an amazing thought is it to consider this stupendous body traversing the immensity of the creation with such a rapidity, and at the same time wheeling about in that line which the Almighty has prescribed for it? That it should move in such an inconceivable fury and combustion, and at the same 3 time with such an exact regularity? How spacious must the universe be that gives such bodies as these their full play, without suffering the least disorder or confusion by it? What a glorious show are those beings entertained with, that can look into this great theatre of nature, and see myriads of such tremendous objects wandering through those immeasurable depths of ether, and running their appointed courses? Our eyes may hereafter be strong enough to command this magnificent prospect, and our understandings able to find out the several uses of these great parts of the universe. In the mean time, they are very proper objects for our imaginations to contemplate, that we may form more exalted notions of infinite wisdom and power, and learn to think humbly of ourselves, and of all the little works of human invention.
No. 104. FRIDAY, JULY 10.
Qua è longinquo magis placent. TACIT.
ON Tuesday last I published two letters written by a gentleman in his travels. As they were applauded
by my best readers, I shall this day publish two more from the same hand. The first of them contains a matter of fact which is very curious, and may deserve the attention of those who are versed in British antiquities.
Blois, May 15, N. S.
"BECAUSE I am at present out of the road of news, I shall send you a story that was lately given me by a gentleman of this country, who is descended from one of the persons concerned in the relation, and very inquisitive to know if there be any of the family now in England.
"I shall only premise to it, that this story is preserved with great care among the writings of this gentleman's family, and that it has been given to two or three of our English nobility, when they were in these parts, who could not return any satisfactory answer to the gentleman, whether there be any of that family now remaining in Great Britain.
"In the reign of King John there lived a nobleman, called John de Sigonia, lord of that place in Tourraine. His brothers were Philip and Briant. Briant, when very young, was made one of the French king's pages, and served him in that quality when he was taken prisoner by the English. The king of England chanced to see the youth, and being much pleased with his person and behaviour, begged him of the king his prisoner. It happened, some years after this, that John, the other brother, who in the course of the war had raised himself to a considerable post in the French army, was taken prisoner by Briant, who at that time was an officer in the king of England's guards. Briant knew nothing of his brother, and being naturally of a haughty temper, treated him very insolently, and inore like a criminal than a prisoner of war. This John resented so highly, that he challenged him to a single combat. The challenge was accepted, and time and place assigned them by the king's appointment.
Both appeared on the day prefixed, and entered the lists, completely armed, amidst a great multitude of spectators. Their first encounters were very furious, and the success equal on both sides; till, after some toil and bloodshed, they were parted by their seconds to fetch breath, and prepare themselves afresh for the combat. Briant, in the mean time, had cast his eye upon his brother's escutcheon, which he saw agree in all points with his own. I need not tell you after this with what joy and surprise the story ends. King Edward, who knew all the particulars of it, as a mark of his esteem, gave to each of them, by the King of France's consent, the following coat of arms, which I will send you in the original language, not being herald enough to blazon it in English."
• Le Roi d'Angleterre, par permission du Roi de France, pour perpétuelle memoire de leurs grands faits d'armes et fidelité envers leurs rois, leur donna par ampliation à leurs armes en une croix d'argent cantonée de quatre coquilles d'or en champ de sable, qu'ils avoient auparavant, une endenteleuse faite en façons de croix de gueulle inserée au dedans de la ditte croix d'argent et par le milieu d'icelle qui est participation des deux croix que portent les dits rois en la guerre.'
"I am afraid, by this time, you wonder that I should send you for news a tale of three or four hundred years old; and I dare say never thought, when you desired me to write to you, that I should trouble you with a story of King John, especially at a time when there is a monarch on the French throne that furnishes discourse for all Europe. But I confess I am the more fond of the relation, because it brings to mind. the noble exploits of our own countrymen: though, at the same time, I must own it is not so much the vanity of an Englishman which puts me upon writing it, as that I have of taking an occasion to subscribe myself, SIR, yours, &c."
Blois, May 20, N. S.
"I AM extremely obliged to you for your last kind: letter, which was the only English that had been spoken to me in some months together, for I am at present forced to think the absence of my countrymen my good fortune:
Votum in amante novum! vellem quod amatur abesset.
This is an advantage that I could not have hoped for, had I stayed near the French court, though I must confess I would not but have seen it, because I believe it showed me some of the finest places and of the greatest persons in the world. One cannot hear a name mentioned in it that does not bring to mind a piece of a gazette, nor see a man that has not signalised himself in a battle. One would fancy one's self to be in the inchanted palaces of romance; one meets with so many heroes, and finds something so like scenes of magic in the gardens, statues, and waterworks. I am ashamed that I am not able to make a quicker progress through the French tongue, because I believe it is impossible for a learner of language to find in any nation such advantages as in this, where every body is so very courteous and so very talkative. They always take care to make a noise as long as they are in company, and are as loud, any hour of the morning, as our own countrymen at midnight, By what I have seen, there is more mirth in the French conversation, and more wit in the English. You abound more in jests, but they in laughter. Their language is indeed extremely proper to tattle in, it is made up of so much repetition and compliment. One may know a foreigner by his answering only No or Yes to a question, which a Frenchman generally makes a sentence of. They have a set of ceremonious phrases that run through all ranks and degrees among them. Nothing is more common than to hear a shopkeeper desiring his neighbour to have the goodness to
tell him what it is o'clock, or a couple of coblers that are extremely glad of the honour of seeing one another.
"The face of the whole country, where I now am, is at this season pleasant beyond imagination. I cannot but fancy the birds of this place, as well as the men, a great deal merrier than those of our own nation. I am sure the French year has got the start of ours more in the works of nature than in the new style. I have passed one March in my life without being ruffled by the winds, and one April without being washed with rains.
"I am, SIR, yours, &c."
No. 105. SATURDAY, JULY 11.
Quod neque in Armeniis tigres fecere latebris:
THERE was no part of the show on the Thanksgiving, day that so much pleased and affected me as the little boys and girls who were ranged with so much order and decency in that part of the Strand which reaches from the May-pole to Exeter-Change. Such a numerous and innocent multitude, clothed in the charity of their benefactors, was a spectacle pleasing both to God and man, and a more beautiful expression of joy and thanksgiving than could have been exhibited by all the pomps of a Roman triumph. Never did a more full and unspotted chorus of human creatures join together in a hymn of devotion. The care and tenderness which appeared in the looks of their several instructors, who were disposed among this little helpless people, could not forbear touching every heart that had any sentiments of humanity.