« ForrigeFortsæt »
when he sleeps he retires to a private world that is particular to himself. There seems something in this consideration that intimates to us a natural grandeur and perfection in the soul, which is rather to be admired than explained.
I must not omit that argument for the excellency of the soul, which I have seen quoted out of Tertullian, namely, its power of divining in dreams. That several such divinations have been made, none can question, who believes the holy writings, or who has but the least degree of a common historical faith; there being innumerable instances of this nature in several authors, both ancient and modern, sacred and profane. Whether such dark presages, such visions of the night, proceed from any latent power of the soul, during this her state of abstraction, or from any communication with the Supreme Being, or from any operation of subordinate spirits, has been a great dispute among the learned; the matter of fact is, I think, incontestable, and has been looked upon as such by the greatest writers, who have been never suspected either of superstition or enthusiasm.
I do not suppose, that the soul, in these instances, is entirely loose and unfettered from the body: it is sufficient, if she is not so far sunk and immersed in matter, nor entangled and perplexed in her operations, with such motions of blood and spirits, as when she actuates the machine in its waking hours. The corporeal union is slackened enough to give the mind more play. The soul seems gathered within herself, and recovers that spring which is broke and weakened, when she operates more in concert with the body.
The speculations I have here made, if they are not arguments, they are at least strong intimations, not only of the excellency of a human soul, but of its independence on the body; and if they do not prove, do at least confirm these two great points, which are established by many other reasons that are altogether unanswerable.
No. 488. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19.
Quanti emptæ ? parvi. Quanti ergo? octo assibus. Eheu! HOR. I FIND, by several letters which I receive daily, that many of my readers would be better pleased to pay three
halfpence for my paper, than two-pence. The ingenious T. W. tells me, that I have deprived him of the best part of his breakfast, for that, since the rise of my paper, he is forced every morning to drink his dish of coffee by itself without the addition of the Spectator, that used to be better than lace to it. Eugenius informs me very obligingly, that ro he never thought he should have disliked any passage in my paper, but that of late there have been two words in every one of them, which he could heartily wish left out, viz. "Price Two-pence." I have a letter from a soap-boiler who condoles with me very affectionately, upon the necessity we both lie under of setting an higher price on our commodities since the late tax has been laid upon them, and desiring me, when I write next on that subject, to speak a word or two upon the present duties on Castle-soap. But there is none of these my correspondents, who writes with a greater turn of good sense and elegance of expression, than the generous Philomedes, who advises me to value every Spectator at sixpence, and promises that he himself will engage for above a hundred of his acquaintance, who shall take it in at that price.
Letters from the female world are likewise come to me, in great quantities, upon the same occasion; and, as I naturally bear a great deference to this part of our species, I am very glad to find that those who approve my conduct in this particular, are much more numerous than those who condemn it. A large family of daughters have drawn me up a very handsome remonstrance, in which they set forth, that their father having refused to take in the Spectator, since the additional price was set upon it, they offered him unanimously to abate him the article of bread and butter in the tea-table account, provided the Spectator might be served up to them every morning as usual. Upon this the old gentleman, being pleased, it seems, with their desire of improving themselves, has granted them the continuance both of the Spectator and their bread and butter; having given particular orders, that the tea-table shall be set forth every morning with its customary bill of fare, and without any manner of defalcation. I thought myself obliged to mention this particular, as it does honour to this worthy gentleman; and if the young lady Letitia, who sent me this account, will acquaint me with his name, I will insert it at length in one of my papers, if he desires it.
I should be very glad to find out any expedient that might alleviate the expense which this my paper brings to any of my readers; and, in order to it, must propose two points to their consideration. First, that if they retrench any the smallest particular in their ordinary expense, it will easily make up the halfpenny a day, which we have now under consideration. Let a lady sacrifice but a single ribbon to her morning studies, and it will be sufficient: let a family burn but a candle a night less than the usual number, and they may take in the Spectator without detriment to their private affairs.
In the next place, if my readers will not go to the price of buying my papers by retail, let them have patience, and they may buy them in the lump, without the burthen of a tax upon them. My speculations, when they are sold single, like cherries upon the stick, are delights for the rich and wealthy; after some time they come to market in greater quantities, and are every ordinary man's money. The truth of it is, they have a certain flavour at their first appearance, from several accidental circumstances of time, place, and person, which they may lose if they are not taken early; but in this case every reader is to consider, whether it is not better for him to be half a year behind-hand with the fashionable and polite part of the world, than to strain himself beyond his circumstances. My bookseller has now about ten thousand of the third and fourth volumes, which he is ready to publish, having already disposed of as large an edition both of the first and second volume. As he is a person whose head is very well turned to his business, he thinks they would be a very proper present to be made to persons at christenings, marriages, visiting days, and the like joyful solemnities, as several other books are frequently given at funerals. He has printed them in such a little portable volume, that many of them may be ranged together upon a single plate; and is of opinion, that a salver of Spectators would be as acceptable an entertainment to the ladies, as a salver of sweetmeats.
I shall conclude this paper with an epigram lately sent to the writer of the Spectator, after having returned my thanks to the ingenious author of it.
Having heard the following epigram very much commended, I wonder that it has not yet had a place in any of your papers; I think the suffrage of our poet-laureat should not be overlooked, which shows the opinion he entertains of your paper, whether the notion he proceeds upon be true or false. I make bold to convey it to you, not knowing if it has yet come to your hands.
ON THE SPECTATOR, BY MR. TATE.
When first the Tatler to a mute was turned,
No. 489. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 20.
Βαθυῤῥείταο μέγα σθένος Ὠκεανοῖο. Hom.
Upon reading your essay concerning the pleasures of the imagination, I find among the three sources of those pleasures which you have discovered, that "greatness" is one. This has suggested to me the reason why, of all objects that I have ever seen, there is none which affects my imagination so much as the sea or ocean. I cannot see the heavings of this prodigious bulk of waters, even in a calm, without a very pleasing astonishment; but when it is worked up in a tempest, so that the horizon on every side is nothing but foaming billows and floating mountains, it is impossible to describe the agreeable horror that rises from such a pros
1 The reader of taste feels the force of this well-chosen word. Mr. Pope had it in view, when he said," Who heaves old ocean.'
pect. A troubled ocean, to a man who sails upon it, is, I think, the biggest object that he can see in motion, and consequently gives his imagination one of the highest kinds of pleasure that can arise from greatness. I must confess, it is impossible for me to survey this world of fluid matter, without thinking on the hand that first poured it out, and made a proper channel for its reception. Such an object naturally raises in my thoughts the idea of an Almighty Being, and convinces me of his existence as much as a metaphysical demonstration. The imagination prompts the understanding, and by the greatness of the sensible object, produces in it the idea of a Being who is neither circumscribed by time nor space.
"As I have made several voyages upon the sea, I have often been tossed in storms, and on that occasion have frequently reflected on the descriptions of them in ancient poets. I remember Longinus highly recommends one in Homer, because the poet has not amused himself with little fancies upon the occasion, as authors of an inferior genius, whom he mentions, had done, but because he has gathered together those circumstances which are the most apt to terrify the imagination, and which really happen in the raging of a tempest. It is for the same reason, that I prefer the following description of a ship in a storm, which the psalmist has made, before any other I have ever met with. They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these men see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waters thereof. They mount up to heaven, they go down again to the depths; their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then they are glad because they be quiet, so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.' By the way, how much more comfortable, as well as rational, is this system of the psalmist, than the pagan scheme in Virgil, and other poets, where one deity is represented as raising a storm, and another as laying it! Were we only to consider the sublime in this piece of poetry, what can be nobler than the idea it gives us of the Supreme Being thus