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the most serious subject that can employ the mind of man, the Omnipresence of the Deity; a subject which, if possible, should never depart from our meditations. We have considered the Divine Being, as he inhabits infinitude, as he dwells among his works, as he is present to the mind of man, and as he discovers himself in a more glorious manner among the regions of the blest. Such a consideration should be kept awake in us at all times, and in all places, and possess our minds with a perpetual awe and reverence. It should be interwoven with all our thoughts and perceptions, and become one with the consciousness of our own being. It is not to be reflected on in the coldness of philosophy,' but ought to sink us into the lowest prostration before Him, who is so astonishingly great, wonderful, and holy."
No. 582. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18.
--Tenet insanabile multos
THERE is a certain distemper, which is mentioned neither by Galen 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, seldom 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
1 An apology for the popular manner in which he has treated this sublime and abstract subject.
which has been sometimes removed, like the biting of a Tarantula, with the sound of a musical instrument, which is commonly known by the name of a cat-call. 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 scribblers 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 consolation, in the perusal 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 a humorous saying of Diogenes, 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 ourselves rest.
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 very whimsical treatise, entitled, "William Ramsay's Vindication of Astrology." This profound author, among many mystical passages, has the following one: "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 concert, 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.1
No. 583. FRIDAY, AUGUST 20.
Ipse thymum pinosque ferens de montibus altis,
EVERY 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 necessity, 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 Adam ought to think himself exempt 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 profession 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 chase, or to some 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 Goliath: "I will give thee to the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field."
Though exercises of this kind, when indulged with moderation, may have a good influence both on the mind and body, the country affords many 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
The humour of this paragraph should not divert the reader from observing the nice conduct of the allegory.
2 Perspicuity requires, "those persons, who."
mention a nobleman, whose fortune has placed him in several parts of England, and who has always left these visible marks behind him, which show he has been there : he never hired a house in his life, without leaving all about it the seeds of wealth, and bestowing legacies on the posteriy of the owner. Had all the gentlemen of England made the same improvements upon their estates, 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 Asia. There is, indeed, something truly magnificent in this kind of amusement; 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 its utmost point of perfection, and from that time hastening to its ruin. On the contrary, when you 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 ages the nation 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 upon with an eye 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 successors, grew very peevish: "We are always doing (says he) something for posterity, but I would fain see posterity 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 considers, 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 or 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 consideration which may very much enforce what I have here said. 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 office, which is suited to the meanest capacities, and which may be performed by multitudes, who have not abilities sufficient to deserve well of their country, and to recommend themselves to their posterity, by any other method. It is the phrase of a friend of mine, when any useful country neighbour dies, that "You may trace him:" which I look upon as a good funeral oration, at the death of an honest husbandman, who has left the impressions of his industry behind him in the place where he has lived.
Upon the foregoing considerations, I can scarce forbear representing the subject of this paper as a kind of moral virtue; which, as I have already shown, recommends itself likewise by the pleasure that attends it. It must be confessed, that this is none of those turbulent pleasures which is apt1 to gratify a man in the heats of youth; but if it be not so tumultuous, it is more lasting. Nothing can be more delightful, than to entertain ourselves with the prospects of our own making, and to walk under those shades which our own industry has raised. Amusements of this nature compose the mind, and lay at rest all those passions which are uneasy
1 Better," which are apt."-It seems more natural to refer which to those than to none.