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V I S I O N
GUARDIAN. N° 56.
Quid mentem traxiffe polo, quid profuit altum
WAS considering last night, when I could not
sleep, how noble a part of the creation man was designed to be, and how distinguished in all his actions above other earthly creatures. From whence I fell to take a view of the change and corruption which he has introduced into his own condition, the groveling appetites, the mean characters of sense, and wild courses of paffions, that cast him from the degree in which providence had placed him, the debafing himself with qualifications not his own, and his degenerating into a lower sphere of action. This inspired me with a mixture of contempt and anger; which however, was not so violent as to hinder the return of sleep, but grew
confused as that came upon me, and made me end my reflections with giving mankind the opprobrious names of inconfiderate, mad and foolish.
Here, methought, where my waking reason left the subject, my fancy pursued it in a dream ; and
I imagined myself in a loud soliloquy of paflionis railing at my species, and walking hard to get rid of the company I despised; when two men who had over-heard me made up on either hand. These I observed had many features in common, which might occasion the mistake of the one for the other in those to whom they appear single ; but I, who saw them together; could easily perceive, that tho' there was an air of severity in each, it was tempered with a natural fweetness in the one, and by turns constrained or ruffled by the designs of malice in the other.
I was at a loss to know the reason of their joining me so briskly, when he, whose appearance displeased me most, thus addressed his companion. Pray, bro“ ther, let him alone, and we shall immediately see him transformed into a tyger. This struck me with horror, which the other perceived, and pitying my disorder, bid me be of good courage, for tho' I had been savage in my treatment of mankind) whom I fhould rather reform than rail against he would, however, endeavour to rescue me from my danger. At this I looked a little more chearful, and while I testified my resignation to him, we saw the angry brother Aing away from us in a passion for his difappointment. Being now left to my friend, I went back with him at his desire, that I might know the meaning of those words which fo affright
As we went along, to inform you, fays he, with whom you have this adventure, my name is Reproof, and his Reproach, both born of the fame mother, but of different fathers. Truth is our common parent. Friendship, who saw her, fell in love with her, and the being pleased with him, he begat me upon her ; but a while after Enmity lying in ambush for her, became the father of him whom you faw along with me. The temper of our mother inclines us to the same sort of bufiness, the informing mankind of their faults ; but the different complexions of our fathers make us differ in our designs and company. I have a natural benevolence in my mind, which engages me with friends, and he a natural impetuosity in his, which cafts him among enemies.
As he thus discoursed, we came to a place where there were three entrances into as many several walks, which lay beside one another. We paffed into the middlemost, a plain, itrait, regular walk, fet with trees, which added to the beauty of the place, but did not so close their boughs over head as to exclude the light from it. Here as we walked I was made to observe, how the road on one hand was full of rocks and precipices, over which Reproach (who had alweady gotten thither) was furiously driving unhappy wretches; the other side was all laid out in gardens of gaudy tulips, amongst whose leaves the ferpents wreathed, and at: he end of every graffy walk the enchantress Flattery was weaving bowers
to lull souls afleep in. We continued still walking on the middle way, 'till we arrived at a building in which it terminated. This was formerly erected by Truth for a watch-tower, from whence she took a view of the earth, and as she saw occafion, fent out Reproof, or even Reproach, for our reformation. Over the door I took notice that a face was carved with a heart upon the lips of it, and prefently called to mind that this was the ancients emblem of Sincerity.
In the entrance I met with Freedom of Speech, and Complaisance, who had for a long time looked upon one another as enemies; but Reproof has so happily brought them together, that they now act as friends and fellow-agents in the same family. Before I ascended the stairs, I had my eyes purified by a water which made me see extremely clear, and I think they said it sprung in a pit, from whence (as Democritus had reported) they formerly brought up Truth, who had hid herself in it. I was then admitted to the upper cham-, ber of prospect, which was called the Knowledge of Mankind; here the window was no sooner opened, but I perceived the clouds to roll off and part before me, and a scene of all the variety of the world presented itself.
But how different was mankind in this view, from what it used to appear ! Methought the very shape of most of them was loft ; some had the heads of dogs, others of apes or parrots, and, in short, where-ever any one took upon him the infe
rior and unworthy qualities of other creatures, the change of his soul became visible in his countenance. The ftrutting pride of him who is endued with brutality instead of courage, made his face shoot out in the form of a horse's ; his eyes became prominent, his nostrils widened, and his wig untying flowed down on one side of his neck in a waving mane. The talkativenefs of those who love the ill nature: of conversation made them turn into assemblies of geese, their lips hardened into bills by. eternal using, they gabbled for diversion, they hiffed in scandal, and their ruffles falling back on their arms, a succeffion of little feathers appeared, which formed wings for them to futter with from one visit to another. The envious and malicious lay on the ground with the heads of different sorts of serpents, and not endeavouring to erect themselves, but meditating mischief to others, they sucked the poison of the earth, fharpened their tongues to stings upon the stones, and rolled their trains unperceivably beneath their habits. The hypocritical oppreffors wore the faces of crocodiles, their mouths were inftruments of cruelty, their eyes of deceit ; they committed wickedness, and bemoaned that there fhould be so much of it in the world ; they devoured the unwary, and wept over the remains of them. The covetous had so hook'd and worn their fingers by counting interest upon interest, that they converted to the claws of harpies, and these they still were stretching out for more, yet seemed unsatisfied