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present season of the year having put most of them in slight summer-suits, has turned my speculations to a subject that concerns every one who is sensible of cold or heat, which I believe takes in the greatest part of my
readers. There is nothing in nature more inconstant than the British climate, if we except the humour of its inhabitants. We have frequently, in one day, all the seasons of the year. I have shivered in the dog-days, and been forced to throw off my coat in January. I have gone to bed in August, and rose in December. Summer has often caught me in my Drap de Berry, and winter in my Doily suit.
I remember a very whimsical fellow (commonly known by the name of Posture-master) in King Charles the Second's reign, who was the plague of all the tailors about town. He would often send for one of them to take measure of him, but would so contrive it, as to have a most immoderate rising in one of his shoulders. When the clothes were brought home, and tried upon him, the deformity was removed into the other shoulder. Upon which the tailor begged pardon for, the mistake, and mended it as fast as he could; but upon a third trial, found him a straight-shouldered man as one would desire to see, but a little unfortunate in a humped back. In short, this wandering tumour puzzled all the workmen about town, who found it impossible to accommodate so changeable a customer. My reader will apply this to any one who would adapt a suit to a season of our English climate.
After this short descant on the uncertainty of our English weather, I come to my moral.
A man should take care that his body be not too soft for his climate; but rather, if possible, harden and season himself beyond the degree of cold wherein he lives. Daily experience teaches us how we may inure ourselves, by custom, to bear the extremities of weather without injury. The inhabitants of Nova Zembla go naked, without complaining of the bleakness of the air in which they are born, as the armies of the northern nations keep the field all winter. The softest of our British ladies expose their arms and necks to the open air, which the men could not do without catching cold, for want of being accustomed to it. The whole body, by the same means, might contract the same firmness and temper. The Scythian that was asked how it was possible for the inhabitants of his frozen climate to go naked, replied, “ Because we are all over face.” Mr. Locke advises parents to have their children's feet washed every morning in cold water, which might probably prolong multitudes of lives.
I verily believe a cold bath would be one of the most healthful exercises in the world, were it made use of in the education of youth. It would make their bodies more than proof to the injuries of the air and weather. It would be something like what the poets tell us of Achilles, whom his mother is said to have dipped, when he was a child, in the river Styx. The story adds, that this made him invulnerable all over, excepting that part which the mother held in her hand during this immersion, which, by that means, lost the benefit of these hardening waters. Our common practice runs in a quite contrary method. We are perpetually softening ourselves, by good fires and warm clothes. The air within our rooms has generally two or three more degrees of heat in it than the air without-doors.
Crassus is an old lethargic valetudinarian. For these twenty years last past, he has been clothed in frieze of the same colour, and of the same piece. He fancies he should catch his death in any other kind of manufacture, and though his avarice would incline him to wear it till it was threadbare, he dares not do it, lest he should take cold when the map is off. He could no more live without a frieze coat, than without his skin. It is not, indeed, so properly his coat, as what the anatomists call one of the integuments of the body.
How different an old man is Crassus from myself. It is, indeed, the particular distinction of the Ironsides to be robust and hardy, to defy the cold and rain, and let the weather do its worst. My father lived till a hundred without a cough, and we have a tradition in the family, that my grandfather used to throw off his hat, and go open-breasted, after four
As for myself, they used to souse me over head and ears in water when I was a boy, so that I am now looked upon as one of the most case-hardened of the whole family of the Ironsides. In short, I have been so plunged in water, and inured to the cold, that I regard myself as a piece of true-tempered Steele, and can say, with the above-mentioned Scythian, that I am face, or, if my enemies please, forehead,
1 A fine comic stroke, and, I think, an original one, on this well-worn topic of avarice.
No. 103. THURSDAY, JULY 9.
Dum flammas Jovis, et sonitus imitatur Olympi. VIRG. I am considering how most of the great phenomena, or appearances in nature, have been imitated by the art of man. Thunder is grown a common drug among the chymists. Lightning may be bought by the pound. If a man has occasion for a lambent flame, you have whole sheets of it in a handful of phosphor. Showers of rain are to be met with in every water-work; and, we are informed, that some years ago the virtuoso’s 1 of France covered a little vault with artificial snow, which they made to fall above an hour together,
, for the entertainment of his present Majesty.
I am led into this train of thinking, by the noble fire-work that was exhibited last night upon the Thames. You might there see a little sky filled with innumerable blazing stars and meteors. Nothing could be more astonishing than the pillars of flame, clouds of smoke, and multitudes of stars, mingled together in such an agreeable confusion. Every rocket' ended in a constellation, and strewed the air with such a shower of silver spangles, as opened and enlightened the whole scene from time to time. It put me in mind of the lines in Oedipus,
Why from the bleeding womb of monstrous night
Burst forth such myriads of abortive stars ? In short, the artist did his part to admiration, and was so encompassed with fire and smoke, that one would have thought nothing but a salamander could have been safe in such a situation.
company with two or three fanciful friends during the whole show. One of them being a critic, that is, a man
1 A quibble, so contrived as to introduce a handsome compliment to the editor of this paper.
2 The plural number of Virtuoso is Virtuosos, without a comma, which is the sign of the apostrophe in the genitive case. But perhaps, as the word is foreign, he had better preserved the proper termination, Virtuosi.
who, on all occasions, is more attentive to what is wanting than what is present," begun to exert his talent
the ral objects we had before us. “I am mightily pleased, (says
( he,) with that burning cipher. There is no matter in the world so proper to write with as wild-fire, as no characters can be more legible than those which are read by their own light. But as for your cardinal virtues, I do not care for seeing them in such combustible figures. Who can imagine Chastity with a body of fire, or Temperance in a flame? Justice, indeed, may be furnished out of this element, as far as her sword goes, and Courage may be all over one continued blaze, if the artist pleases."
Our companion observing that we laughed at this unseasonable severity, let drop the critic, and proposed a subject for a fire-work, which he thought would be very amusing, if executed by so able an artist as he who was at that time entertaining us. The plan he mentioned was a scene in Milton. He would have a large piece of machinery represent the Pandæmonium, where
- From the arched roof
As from a skyThis might be finely represented by several illuminations disposed in a great frame of wood, with ten thousand beautiful exhalations of fire, which men versed in this art know very well how to raise. The evil spirits, at the same time, might very properly appear in vehicles of flame, and employ all the tricks of art to terrify and surprise the spectator.
We were well enough pleased with this start of thought, but fancied there was something in it too serious, and perhaps too horrid, to be put in execution.
Upon this, a friend of mine gave us an account of a firework, described, if I am not mistaken, by Strada. A prince of Italy, it seems, entertained his mistress with it on a great lake. In the midst of this lake was a huge floating mountain made by art. The mountain represented Ætna, being bored through the top with a monstrous orifice. Upon a
This description of a critic is, I doubt, very applicable to the editor, who, in reading so fine a paper as this, is only on the catch for some little slip or inaccuracy in grammar.
signal given, the eruption began. Fire and smoke, mixed with several unusual prodigies and figures, made their appearance for some time. On a sudden there was heard a most dreadful rumbling noise within the entrails of the machine. After which the mountain burst, and discovered a vast cavity in that side which faced the prince and his court. Within this hollow was Vulcan's shop full of fire and clockwork. A column of blue flames issued out incessantly from the forge. Vulcan was employed in hammering out thunderbolts, that every now and then flew up from the anvil with dreadful cracks and flashes. Venus stood by him in a figure of the brightest fire, with numberless Cupids on all sides of her, that shot out volleys of burning arrows. Before her was an altar with hearts of fire flaming on it. I have forgot1 several other particulars no less curious, and have only mentioned these to show that there may be a sort of fable or design in a fire-work, which may give an additional beauty to those surprising objects.
I seldom see anything that raises wonder in me which does not give my thoughts a turn that makes my
heart the better for it. As I was lying in my bed, and ruminating on what I had seen, I could not forbear reflecting on the insignificancy of human art, when set in comparison with the designs of Providence. In the pursuit of this thought, I considered a comet, or, in the language of the vulgar, a blazing-star, as a sky-rocket discharged by an 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 fourscore 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 time, with such an exact regularity! How spacious must the universe be, that gives such bodies as these their full play, without
1 The verb forget has two participles passive-forgot, and forgotten, (as many other verbs have). The ear directs very much in the choice of that we employ; but, in general, we say forgot in the familiar style, and forgotten in the more solemn.