« AnteriorContinuar »
fpeculation to the curious. I have heard variousconjectures up this subject. Some tell us that C is the mark of ino'e papers that are written by the clergyman, though others ascribe them to the club in general: that the papers inarked with R were written by my friend fir Roger : that L signifies the lawyer, whom I have described in iny second speculation ; and that T stands for the trader or merchant : but the letter X, which is placed at the end of some few of my papers, is that which has puzzled the whole town, as they cannot think of any name which begins with that letter, except Xenophon and Xerxes, who can neither of them be fupposed to have had any hand in these speculations.
In answer to these inquisitive gentlemen, who have many of them made inquiries of me by letter, I must tell them the reply of an ancient philosopher, who carried something hidden under his cloke.
A certain acquaintance desiring him to let him know what it was he covered so carefully, “ I cover it," says he,
should not know.” I have made use of these obscure marks for the same purpose. They are, perhaps, little amulets or charms to preserve the paper against the fascination and malice of evil eyes; for which reason I would not have my reader surprised, if hereafter he sees any of my papers marked with a Q, a Z, a Y, an &c, or with the word Abracadabra.
I shall, however, fo far explain myself to the reader, as to let him know that the letters C, L., and X, are abaliftical, and carry more in them than it is proper for the world to be acquainted with. Those who are versed in the philosophy of Pythagoras, and swear by the Tetrachtys, that is, the number four, will know very well that the number ten, which is signified by the letter X, (and which has fo much perplexed the town) has in it many particular powers; that it is called by platonic writers the complete number ; that one, two, three, and four put together make up the number ten ; and that ten is all. But these are not mysteries for ordinary readers to be let into. A man must have spent many years in hard study before he can arrive at the knowledge of them.
We had a rabbinical divine in England, who was chaplain to the earl of Effex in queen Elizabeth's time, that had an admirable head for secrets of this nature. Upon his taking the doctor of divinity's degree, he preached before the university of Cambridge upon the first verse of the first chapter of the first book of Chronicles, in which, says he, you have the three following words,
Adam, Sheth, Enosh. He divided this short text into many parts, and by discovering several mysteries in each word, inade a most learnod and elaborate discourse. The name of this profound preacher was Dr. Alabaster, of whom the reader may find a more particular account in Dr. Fuller's book of English worthies. This instance will, I hope, convince iny readers that there may be a great deal of fine writing in the capital letters which bring up the rear of my paper, and give them some satisfaction in that particular.' But as for the full explication of these matters, I muft refer thein to time, which discovers all things. C.
Wednesday, November 14.
Cur alter fratrum eelfare, & ludere, & ungi,
Hor. Ep. 2. lib. 2. ver. 183.
your papers, and have as often wondered to find
being left unattempted by others, seems reserved as a * proper employment for you : I mean a disquisition, • from whence it proceeds, that men of the brightest
parts, and most comprehensive genius, completely fur• nished with talents for any province in human affairs; • sạch as by their wise lessons of economy to others • have made it evident, that they have the justest notions
• of life, and of true sense in the conduct of it: • from what unhappy contradictious cause it proceeds, • that persons thus finished by nature and by art, should • so often fail in the management of that which they so • well understand, and want the address to make a right
application of their own rules. This is certainly a pro• digious inconfiltency in behaviour, and makes much • such a figure in morals as a monstrous birth in na• turals, with this difference only, which greatly aggravates the wonder, that it happens much more frequently; and what a blemish does it caft upon wit and learning in the general account of the world? and in
how disadvantageous a light does it expose them to the • busy class of mankind, that there should be so many • instances of persons who have so conducted their lives. o in spite of these transcendent advantages, as neither s to be happy in themselves, nor useful to their friends; • when every body sees it was intirely in their own
power to be eminent in both these characters ? For my
part, I think there is no reflection more astonishing • than to consider one of these gentlemen spending a fair • fortune, running in every body's debt without the least • apprehension of a future reckoning, and at last leaving • not only his own children, but possibly those of other • people, by his means, in ftarving circumstances; while
a fellow, whom one would scarce suspect to have a human soul, shall perhaps raise a vast eftate out of nothing, and be the founder of a family capable of being very considerable in their country, and doing many * illustrious services to it. That this obfervation is just,
experience has put beyond all dispute. But though • the fact be fo evident and glaring, yet the causes of it
are still in the dark; which makes me persuade my• self, that it would be no unacceptable piece of enter“ tainment to the town, to inquire into the hidden; « sources of so unaccountable an evil.
"I am, Sir,
“ Your most humble servant."
What this correspondent wonders at, has been matter of admiration ever since there was any such thing as
human life. Horace reflects upon this inconsistency very agreeably in the character of Tigellius, whom he makes a mighty pretender to economy, and tells you, you might one day hear him speak the most philofophic things imaginable concerning being contented with a little, and his contempt of every thing but mere neceffaries, and in half a week after spend a thousand pound. When he says this of him with relation to expence, he describes him as unequal to himself in every other circumstance of life. And indeed, if we consider lavish men carefully, we shall find it always proceeds from a certain incapacity of possessing themselves, and finding enjoyment in their own minds. Mr. Dryden has expreifed
this very excellently in the character of Zimri.
“ A man fo various, that he seem'd to be.,
Nothing went unrewarded but desert.” This loose state of the soul hurries the extravagant from one pursuit to another; and the reason that his expences are greater than another's, is, that his wants are also more numerous. But what makes so many go onin this way to their lives end, is, that they certainly do not know how contemptible they are in the eyes of the rest of mankind, or rather, that indeed they are not so contemptible as they deserve. Tully says, it is the greatest of wickedness to leffen your paternal estate. And if a man would thoroughly consider how much worse than banishment it must be to his child, to ride by the estate which should have been his, had it not been for his father's injustice to him, he would be smitten with the reflection more deeply than can be understood by any but one who
is' a father. Sure there can be nothing more afflicting, than to think it had been happier for his son to have been born of any other man living than himself.
It is not perhaps much thought of, but it is certainly a very important lesson, to learn how to enjoy ordinary life, and to be able to relish your being without the transport of fome paffion, or gratification of some appetite. For want of this capacity, the world is filled with whetters, tipplers, cutters, fippers, and all the numerous train of those who, for want of thinking, are forced to be ever exercising their feeling or tafting. It would be hard on this occasion to mention the harmless smokers of tobacco and takers of snuff.
The flower part of mankind, whom my correspondent wonders should get eftates, are the more immediately formed for that pursuit : they can expect distant things without impatience, because they are not carried out of their way either by violent passion orkeen appetite to any thing. To men'addicted to delights, business is an interruption; to such as are cold to delights, business is an entertainment. For which reason it was said to one who commended a dull man for his application,“ po tharks to him; “ if he had no business, he would have nothing to do.” T.
Thursday, November 15.
O fuavis anima! qualem te dicam bonam,
3. Ver. 5. O sweet soul! how good must you have been hereto
fore, when your remains are so delicious! When I reflect upon the various fate of those multitudes of ancient writers who flourished in Greece and Italy, I consider time as an immense ocean in which many noble authors are intirely swallowed up, mariy very much thattered and damaged, fome quite disjointed and broken into pieces, while some have wholly escaped the common wreck; but the number of the last is very small.