« PreviousContinue »
ginary than real. One little packet I could not but take notice of, which was a complication of all the diseases incident to human nature, and was in the hand of a great many fine people: this was called the Spleen. But what most of all surprised me, was a remark I made, that there was not a single vice or folly thrown into the whole heap : at which I was very much astonished, having concluded within myself, that every one would take this opportunity of getting rid of his paffions, prejudices, and frailties.
I took notice in particular of a very profligate fellow, who I did not question came loaden with his crimes; but upon searching into his bundle, I found that, instead of throwing his guilt from him, he had only laid down his memory. He was followed by another worthless rogue, who flung away his modesty instead of his ignorance.
When the whole race of mankind had thus cast their burdens, the phantom which had been so busy on this occasion, feeing me an idle spectator of what passed, approached towards me. I grew uneasy at her presence, when of a sudden she held her magnifying glass full before my eyes. I no sooner saw my face in it, but I was startled at the shortness of it, which now appeared to me in its utmost aggravation. The immoderate breadth of the features made me very much out of humour with my own countenance, upon which I threw it from me like a mask.
It happened very luckily, that one who stood by me had just before thrown down his visage, which, it seems, was too long for him. It was indeed extended to a most fameful length: I believe the very chin was, modestly speaking, as long as my whole face. We had both of us an opportunity of mending ourselves; and all the contributions being now brought in, every man was at liberty to exchange his misfortune for those of another person. But as there arose many new incidents in the sequel of my vision, I fall reserye them for the subject of my next paper.
Friday, June 25.
Quid caufe eft, merito quin illis Jupiter ambas
Hor. fat. I. 1. I. v. 20.
Tere it not just that Jove, provok'd to heat,
N my last paper, I gave my reader a sight of that moun
tain of miseries, which was made up of those several calamities that afflict the minds of men. I saw, with unfreakable pleasure, the whole species thus delivered froni its forrows: though, at the same time, as we stood round the heap, and furveyed the several materials of which it was composed, there was scarce a mortal, in this vast multitude, who did not discover what he thought pleasures and blessings of life; and wondered how the owners of them ever came to look upon them as burdens and gricvances.
As we were regarding very attentively this confufios of miseries, this chaos of calamity, Jupiter issued out a second proclamation, that every one was now at liberty. to exchange his affliction, and to return to his habitation
such other bundle as should be delivered to hiin. UPON this, Fancy began again to bestir herself, and parcelling out the whole hcap with incredible activity, recommended to every one his particular packet. The hurry and confusion at this time was not to be expressed. Some observations which I made upon the occasion ! shall communicate to the public. A venerable grey-headed man, who had laid down the cholic, and who I found wanted an heir to his estate, snatched up an undutiful son, that had been thrown into the heap by his angry father. The graceless youth, in less than a quarter of an hour, pulled the old gentleman by the beard, and had
like to have knocked his brains out; so that meeting the true father, who came towards him with a fit of the gripes, he begged him to take his son again, and give back his cholic; but they were incapable either of them to recede from the choice they had made. A poor galley-flave, who had thrown down his chains, took up the gout in their stead, but made such wry faces, that one might cafily perceive he was no great gainer by the bargain. It was pleasant enough to see the several exchanges that were made, for fickness against poverty, hunger against want of appetite, and care against pain.
The female world were very busy among themselves in bartering for features; one was trucking a lock of grey hairs for a carbuncle, another was making over a short waist for a pair of round shoulders, and a third cheapening a bad face for a loft reputation : but on all these occasions, there was not one of them who did not think the new blemish, as soon as she had got it into her poffeffion, much more disagreeable than the old one. I made the same observation on every other misfortune or calamity, which every one in the assembly brought upon himself, in lieu of what he had parted with; whether it be that all the evils which befal us are in some measure suited and proportioned to our strength, or that cvery evil becomes more supportable by our being accustomed to it, I shall not determine.
I could not for my heart forbear pitying the poor hump-backed gentleman mentioned in the former paper, who went off a very ill-shaped person with a stone in his bladder; nor the fine gentleman who had struck up
this bargain with him, that limped through a whole assembly of ladies who used to admire him, with a pair of shoulders peeping over his head.
I MUST not omit my own particular adventure. My friend with the long visage had no sooner taken upon him my short face, but he made such a grotesque figure in it, that as I looked upon him I could not forbear laughing at myself, insomuch that I put my own face out of countenance. The poor gentleman was so fenfible of the ridicule, that I found he was ashamed of what he had done : on the other side I found that I myfelf had no great reason to triumph, for as I went to touch my forehead I
missed the place, and clapped my finger upon my upper lip. Besides, as my nose was exceeding prominent, I gave it two or three unlucky knocks as I was playing my hand about my face, and aiming at some other part of it. I saw two other gentlemen by me, who were in the fame ridiculous circumstances. These had made a foolish swop between a couple of thick bandy legs, and two long trapsticks that had no calfs to them. One of these looked like a man walking upon stilts, and was so lifted up into the air, abore his ordinary height, that his head turned round with it, while the other made such awkward circles, as he attempted to walk, that he scarce knew how to move forward upon his new supporters : observing him to be a pleasant kind of fellow, I stuck my cane in the ground, and told him I would lay him a bottle of wine, that he did not march up to it on a line, that I drew for him, in a quarter of an hour.
The heap was at last distributed among the two fexes, who made a most piteous fight, as they wandered up
and down under the pressure of their several burdens. The whole plain was filled with murmurs and complaints, groans and lamentations. Jupiter at length, taking compaffion on the poor mortals, ordered them a second time to lay down their loads, with a design to give every one his own again. They discharged themselves with a great deal of pleasure ; after which, the phantom, who had led them into such gross delusions, was commanded to disappear. There was sent in her stead a goddess of a quite different figure : her motions were steady and composed, and her aspect serious but chearful. She every now and then cast her eyes
towards heaven, and fixed them upon Jupiter : her name was PATIENCE. She had no sooner placed herself by the mount of sorrows, but, what I thought very remarkable, the whole heap sunk to such a degree, that it did appear a third
part so big as it was before. She afterwards returned every man his own proper calamity, and teaching him how to bear it in the most commodious manner, he marched off with it contentedly, being very well pleased that he had not been left to his own choice, as to the kind of evils which fell to his lot.
BESIDES the several pieces of morality to be drawn out of this vision, I learned from it never to repine at my own
misfortunes, or to envy the happiness of another, since it is impossible for any man to form a right judgment of his neighbour's sufferings; for which reason also, I have determined never to think too lightly of another's complaints, but to regard the sorrows of my fellow-creatures with sentiments of humanity and compassion.
Monday, June 28.
---V'erba intermisa retentat. Ovid. Met. 1. 1. v. 746. He tries his tongue, his filence softly breaks.
"VER Y one has heard of the famous conjurer, who,
according to the opinion of the vulgar, has studied himself dumb; for which reason, as it is believed, he delivers out all his oracles in writing. Be that as it will, the blind Tirefias was not more famous in Greece, than this dumb artist has been for some years last past, in the cities of London and IVestminster. Thus much for the profound gentleman who honours me with the following epistle.
From my cell, June 24. 1714. Eing informed that you have lately got the use of
your tongue, I have some thoughts of following your example, that I may be a fortune-teller properly speaking. I am grown weary of my taciturnity, and ha'ving served my country many years under the title of the * dumb-doctor, I shall now prophesy by word of mouth, ' and (as Mr Lee says of the magpy, who you know was a great fortune-teller
among the ancients) chatter futurity. I have hitherto chosen to receive questions and return answers in writing, that I might avoid the tediousness and trouble of debates, my querifts being generally of a humour to think, that they have never pre• dictions enough for their money. In short, Sir, my case • has been something like that of those discreet animals * the monkeys, who, as the Indians tell us, can speak if