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steps by which a new man often mounts to favour, and outshines the rest of his contemporaries. But when men are actually born to titles, it is almost impossible that they should fail of receiving an additional greatness, if they take care to accomplish themselves for it.
The story of Solomon's choice does not only instruct us in that point of history, but furnishes out a very fine moral to us, namely, that he who applies his heart to wisdom, does, at the same time, take the most proper method for gaining long life, riches, and reputation, which are very often not only the rewards, but the effects of wisdom.
As it is very suitable to my present subject, I shall first of all quote this passage in the words of sacred writ; and afterwards mention an allegory, in which this whole passage is represented by a famous French poet: not questioning but it will be very pleasing to such of my readers as have a taste of fine writing.
“In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said, Thou hast showed unto thy servant David, my father, great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee, and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given bim a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now,
my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. Give, therefore, thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad : for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life, neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies, but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; behold I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and understanding heart, so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honour, so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days. And Solomon awoke, and behold it was a dream.”
The French poet has shadowed this story in an allegory, of which he seems to have taken the hint from the fable of the three goddesses appearing to Paris, or rather from the vision of Hercules, recorded by Xenophon, where Pleasure and Virtue are represented as real persons making their court to the hero with all their several charms and allurements. Health, Wealth, Victory, and Honour, are introduced successively, in their proper emblems and characters, each of them spreading her temptations, and recommending herself to the young monarch's choice. Wisdom enters the last, and so captivates
him with her appearance, that he gives himself up to her. Upon which she informs him, that those who appeared before her were nothing else but her equipage, and that since he had placed his heart upon Wisdom; Health, Wealth, Victory, and Honour, should always wait on her as her handmaids.
No. 112. MONDAY, JULY 20.
-Udam Spernit humum fugiente penna. The philosophers of King Charles's reign were busy in finding out the art of flying. The famous Bishop Wilkins was so confident of success in it, that he says he does not question but in the next age it will be as usual to hear a man call for his wings when he is going a journey, as it is now to call for his boots. The humour so prevailed among the virtuosos of this reign, that they were actually making parties to go up to the moon together, and were more put to it in their thoughts how to meet with accommodations by the way, than how to get thither. Every one knows the story of the great lady, who at the same time was building castles in the air for their reception. I always leave such trite quotations
my reader's private recollection. For which reason also I shall forbear extracting out of authors several instances of particular persons who have arrived at some perfection in this art, and exhibited specimens of it before multitudes of beholders. Instead of this, I shall present my reader with
the following letter from an artist, who is now taken up with this invention, and conceals his true name under that of Dædalus.
Knowing that you are a great encourager of ingenuity, I think fit to acquaint you, that I have made a considerable progress in the art of flying. I flutter about my room two or three hours in a morning, and when my wings are on, can go above an hundred yards at a hop, step, and jump. I can fly already as well as a Turkey-cock, and improve every day. If I proceed as I have begun, I intend to give the world a proof of my proficiency in this art. Upon the next public thanksgiving-day, it is my design to sit astride the dragon upon Bow steeple, from whence, after the first discharge of the Tower guns, I intend to mount into the air, fly over Fleet Street, and pitch upon the May-pole in the Strand. From thence, by a gradual descent, I shall make the best of my way for St. James's Park, and light upon the ground near Rosamond's pond. This, I doubt not, will convince the world that I am no pretender; but before I set out, I shall desire to have a patent for making of wings, and that none shall presume to fly under pain of death, with wings of any other man's making. I intend to work for the court myself, and will have journeymen under me to furnish the rest of the nation. I likewise desire, that I may have the sole teaching of persons of quality, in which I shall spare neither time nor pains till I have made them as expert as myself. I will fly with the women upon my back for the first fortnight. I shall appear at the next masquerade, dressed up in my feathers and plumage like an Indian prince, that the quality may see how pretty they will look in their travelling habits. You know, sir, there is an unaccountable prejudice to projectors of all kinds, for which reason, when I talk of practising to fly, silly people think me an owl for my pains; but,
know better things. I need not enumerate to you the benefits which will accrue to the public from this invention, as how the roads of England will be saved when we travel through these new high-ways, and how all familyaccounts will be lessened in the article of coaches and horses. I need not mention posts and packet-boats, with many other conveniences of life, which will be supplied this way. In
short, sir, when mankind are in possession of this art, they will be able to do more business in threescore and ten years, than they could do in a thousand by the methods now in
I therefore recommend myself and art to your patronage, and am,
6 Your most humble servant."
I have fully considered the project of these our modern Dædalists, and am resolved so far to discourage it, as to prevent any person from flying in my time. It would fill the world with innumerable immoralities, and give such occasions for intrigues as people cannot meet with who have nothing but legs to carry them. You should have a couple of lovers make a midnight assignation upon the top of the monument, and see the cupola of St. Paul's covered with both sexes like the outside of a pigeon-house. Nothing would be more frequent than to see a beau flying in at a garret window, or a gallant giving chase to his mistress, like a hawk after a lark. There would be no walking in a shady wood without springing a covey of toasts. The poor husband could not dream what was doing over his head: if he were jealous, indeed, he might clip his wife's wings, but what would this avail when there were flocks of whore-masters perpetually hovering over his house? What concern would the father of a family be in all the time his daughter was upon the wing! every
heiress must have an old woman flying at her heels. In short, the whole air would be full of this kind of gibier, as the French call it. I do allow, with my correspondent, that there would be much more business done than there is at present. However, should he apply for such a patent as he speaks of, I question not but there would be more petitions out of the city against it, than ever yet appeared against any other monopoly whatsoever. Every tradesman that cannot keep his wife a coach could keep her a pair of wings, and there is no doubt but she would be every morning and evening taking the air with them.
I have here only considered the ill consequences of this invention in the influences it would have on love affairs : I have many more objections to make on other accounts; but these I shall defer publishing till I see my friend astride the dragon.
No. 113. TUESDAY, JULY 21.
-Amphora cæpit Institui, currente rotâ, cur urceus exit ? HOR. I LAST night received a letter from an honest citizen, who, it seems, is in his honey-moon. It is written by a plain man on a plain subject, but has an air of good sense and natural honesty in it, which may, perhaps, please the public as much as myself. I shall not, therefore, scruple the giving it a place in my paper, which is designed for common use, and for the benefit of the poor as well as rich. “Good MR. IRONSIDE,
Cheapside, July 18. I have lately married a very pretty body, who being something younger and richer than myself, I was advised to
go a wooing to her in a finer suit of clothes than I ever wore in my life; for I love to dress plain, and suitable to a man of my rank. However, I gained her heart by it. Upon the wedding-day, I put myself, according to custom, in another suit, fire-new, with silver buttons to it. I am so out of countenance among my neighbours, upon being so fine, that I heartily wish my clothes well worn out. I fancy everybody observes me as I walk the street, and long to be in my old plain gear again. Besides, forsooth, they have put me in a silk night-gown and a gaudy fool's cap, and make me now and then stand in the window with it. I am ashamed to be dandled thus, and cannot look in the glass without blushing to see myself turned into such a pretty little master. They tell me I must appear in my wedding-suit for the first month at least; after which I am resolved to come again to my everyday clothes, for at present every day is Sunday with me. Now, in my mind, Mr. Ironside, this is the wrongest way of proceeding in the world. When a man's person is new and unaccustomed to a young body, he does not want anything else to set him off. The novelty of the lover has more charms than a wedding-suit. I should think, therefore, that a man should keep his finery for the latter seasons of marriage, and not begin to dress till the honey-moon is over. I have observed at a lord-mayor's feast, that the sweetmeats do not make their appearance until people are cloyed with beef