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wonderful, that fellows could be awake, and utter such incoherent conceptions, and converse with great gravity, like learned men, without the least taste of knowledge or good sense. It would bave been an endless labour to have taken any other method of exposing such impertinences, than by an edition of their own works : where you see their follies, according to the ambition of such virtuosi, in a most correct edition.
Looking over these accomplished labours, I could not but reflect upon the immense load of writings which the commonalty of scholars have pushed into the world, and the absurdity of parents, who educate crowds to spend their time in pursuit of such cold and spiritless endeavours to appear in public. It seems therefore a fruitless labour, to attempt the correction of the taste of our contemporaries ; except it was in our power to burn all the senseless labours of our ancestors. There is a secret propensity in nature, from generation to generation, in the blockheads of one age to admire those of another; and men of the same imperfections are as great admirers, of each other, as those of the same abilities.
This great mischief of voluminous follies proceeds. from a misfortune which liappens in all ages, that men of barren geniuses, but fertile imaginations, are bred scholars. This may at first appear a paradox; buż when we consider the talking creatures we meet in public places, it will no longer be such. Ralph Shallow is a young fellow, that has not by nature any the least propensity to strike into what has not been observed and said, every day of his life, by others; but with that inability of speaking any thing that is uncommon, be has a great readiness at what he can speak of, and bis imagination runs into all the different views of the subject he treats of in a moment.
If Ralph bad learning added to the common chit-chat of the town, be would have been a disputant upon all topics that ever were considered by men of his own genius. As for my part, I never am teased by any empty-town fellow, but I bless my stars that he was not bred a scholar. This addition, we must consider, would have made him capable of maintaining his follies. His being in the wrong would have been protected by suitable arguments; and when he was hedged in by logical terms, and false appearances, you must have owned yourself convinced before you could then have got rid of him, and the shame of his triumph had been added to the pain of his impertinence!
There is a sort of liitleness in the minds of men of strong sense, which makes them much more insufferable than mere fools, and has the further incouvenience of being attended by an endless loquacity. For which reason, it would be a very proper work, if some well-wisber to human society would consider the terms upon which people meet in public places, in order to prevent the unseasonable declamations which we meet with there. I remember, in my youth, it was au humour at the university, when a fellow pretended to be more eloquent thau ordinary, and had formed to himself a plot to gain all our ad. miration, or triumph over us with an argument, to either of which he had no manner of call; I say, in either of these cases, it was the humour to shut one eye. This whimsical way of taking notice to him of his absurdity, has prevented many a man from being a coxcomb. If amongst us, on such an occasion, each man offered a voluntary rhetorician some snuff, it would probably produce the same effect. As the matter now stands, whether a man will or not, be is obliged to be informed in whatever anoa
ther pleases to entertain him with; though the preceptor makes these advances out of vanity, and not to instruct, but insult him.
There is no man will allow him who wants cou. rage to be called a soldier; but men, who want good sense, are very frequently not only allowed to be scholars, but esteemed for being such. At the same time it must be granted, that as courage is the natural parts of a soldier, so is a good understanding of a scholar. Such little minds as these whose productions are collected in the volume to which I have the bonour to be Patron, are the instruments for artful men to work with; and become popular with the unthinking part of mankind. In courts, they make transparent flatterers; in camps, ostentatious bullies; in colleges, unintelligible pedants ; and their faculties are used accordingly by those who lead them.
When a man who wants judgment is admitted into the conversation of reasonable men, he shall remember such improper circumstances, and draw such groundless conclusions from their discourse, and that with such colour of sense, as would divide the best set of company that can be got together. It is just thus with a fool who has a familiarity with books ; he shall quote and recite one author against another, in such a manner as shall puzzle the best understanding to refute him; though the most ordinary capacity may observe, that it is only ignorance that makes the intricacy. All the true use of what we call learning is to ennoble and improve our natural faculties, and not to disguise oor imperfections. It is therefore in vain for folly to attempt to conceal itself, by the refuge of learned languages. Literature does but make a man more eminently the thing which nature made him; and Polyglottes, bad he VOL. IV.
studied less than he has, and writ only in his mother-tongue, had been known only in Great Britain for a pedant.
*** Mr. Bickerstaff thanks Dorinda, and will both answer her letter, and take ber advice.
N° 198. SATURDAY, JULY 15, 1710,
Quale sit id quod amns celeri circumspice mente,
Ovid. Rem. Amor. i. 89.
From my own Apartment, July 14...
THE HISTORY OF CELIA. It is not necessary to look back into the first years of this young lady, whose story is of consequence only as her life has lately met with passages very uncommon. She is now in the twentieth year of her age, and owes a strict but cheerful education, to the care of an aunt; to whom she was recommended by her dying father, whose decease was hastened by an inconsolable affliction for the loss of her mother. As Cælia is the offspring of the most generous passion that has been known in our age, she is adorned with as much beauty and grace, as the most celebrated of her sex possess; but her domestic life, moderate fortune, and religious education, gave ber but little opportunity, and less inclination, to be admired in public assemblies. Her abode has been for some years at a convenient distance from the cathedral of St. Paul's :, where her aunt and she chose to reside for the advantage of that rapturous way of devotion, which gives ecstacy to the pleasures of innocence, and, in some measure, is the immediate possession of those heavenly enjoyments for which they are addressed.
As you may trace the usual thoughts of meu in their countenances, there appeared in the face of Cælia a cheerfulness, the constant companion of unaffected virtue, and a gladness, which is as inseparable from true piety. Her every look and motion spoke the peaceful, mild, resigning, humble inha. bitant, that animated her beauteous body. Her air discovered her body a mere machine of her mind, and not that her thoughts were employed in studying graces and attractions for her person. Such was Cælia, when she was first seen by Palamede at her usual place of worship. Palamede is a young man of two-and-twenty, well-fashioned, learned, genteel, and discreet; the son and heir of a gentleman of a very great estate, and himself possessed of a plentiful one by the gift of an uncle. He became enamoured with Cælia ; and after having learned her habitation, had address enough to communicate his passion and circumstavces with such an air of good sense and integrity, as soon obtained permission to visit and profess his inclinations towards her. Pala. mede's present fortune and future expectations were no way prejudicial to his addresses; but after the lovers had passed some time in the agreeable entertainments of a successful courtship, Cælia one day took occasion to interrupt Palamede, in the midst of a very pleasing discourse of the happiness he promised