Page images

ed up


with their acquisitions. The sharpers had the looks of camelions ; they every minute changed their appearance, and fed on swarms of flies which fell as so many cullies amongst them. The bully seemed a dunghill cock, he crested well, and bore his comb aloft; he was beaten almost by every one, yet still fung for triumph ; and only the mean coward prick

the ears of a hare to fly before him. Criticks were turned into cats, whose pleasure and grumbling go together. Fops were apes in embroidered jackets. Flatterers were curled spaniels, fawning and crouching. The crafty had the face of a fox, the floth. ful of an ass, the cruel of a wolf, the ill-bred of bear, the leachers were goats, and the gluttons fwine. Drunkenness was the only vice that did not change the face of its profeflors into that of another creature ; but this I took to be far from a privilege, for these two reasons ; because it fufficiently deforms them of itself, and because none of the lower ranks of beings is guilty of fo foolish an intemperance.

As I was taking a view of thefe representations of things, without any more order than is usual in a dream, or in the confufion of the world itself, I perceived a concern within me for what I saw; my eyes began to moisten, and as if the virtue of that water with which they were purified was loft for a time, by their being touched with that which arose from a passion, the clouds immediately began to gather again, and close from either hand upon the prospect. I then turned towards my guide, who


addressed himself to me after this manner : You have seen the condition of mankind when it descends from its dignity; now therefore guard yourself from that degeneracy by a modest greatness of spirit on one fide, and a conscious shame on the other. Endeavour also with a generosity of goodness to make your friends aware of it ; let them know what defects you perceive are growing upon them; handle the matter as you see reason, either with the airs of severe or humourous affection ; sometimes plainly describing the degeneracy in its full proper colours, or at other times letting them know that if they proceed as they have begun, you give them to such a day, or so many months, to turn bears, wolves, or foxes, &c. Neither neglect your more remote acquaintance, where you see any worthy and fusceptible of admonition ; expose the beasts whose qualities you see them putting on, where you have no mind to engage with their persons. The possibility of their applying this is very obvious: The Egyptians saw it so clearly, that they made the pictures of animals explain their minds to one another instead of writing; and indeed it is hardly to be missed, fince Æsop took them out of their mute condition, and taught them_to speak for themselves with relation to the actions of mankind.




HER E is a set of mankind, who are wholly

employed in the ill-natured office of gathering up a collection of stories that lessen the reputation of others, and spreading them abroad with a certain air of satisfaction. Perhaps, indeed, an innocent and unmeaning curiosity, a desire of being informed concerning those we live with, or a willingness to profit by reflection upon the actions of others, may

sometimes afford an excuse, or sometimes a defence, for inquisitiveness ; but certainly it is beyond all excuse, a transgression against humanity, to carry the matter further, to tear off the dressings, as I may fay, from the wounds of a friend, and expose them to the air in cruel fits of diversion; and yet we have something more to bemoan, an outrage of an higher nature, which mankind is guilty of when they are not content to spread the stories of folly, frailty and vice, but even enlarge them, or invent new ones, and blacken characters, that we may appear ridiculous or hateful to one another.. From such practices as these it happens, that some feel a sorrow, and others are agitated with a spirit of revenge ; that scandals or lies are told, because


[ocr errors]

another has told such before ; that resentments and quarrels arise, and injuries are given, received, and multiplied, in a scene of vengeance.

All this I have often observed, with abundance of concern ; and having a perfect desire to further the happiness of mankind, I lately set myself to consider the causes from whence such evils arise, and the remedies which may be applied. Whereupon I shut my eyes to prevent distraction from outward objects, and a while after shot away, upon an impulse of thought, into the World of Ideas, where abstracted qualities become visible in such appearances as were agreeable to each of their natures.

That part of the country, where I happened to light, was the most noisy that I had ever known. The winds whistled, the leaves ruftled, the brooks rumbled, the birds chattered, the tongues of men were heard, and the echo mingled something of every found in its repetition, so that there was a ftrange confusion and uproar of sounds about me. At length, as the noise ftill encreased, I could difcern a man habited like a herald (and, as I afterwards understood) called Novelty, that came forward, proclaiming a solemn day to be kept at the house of Common Fame. Immediately, behind him advanced three nymphs, who had monstrous appearances. The first of these was Curiosity, habited like a virgin, and having an hundred ears upon her head to serve in her enquiries. The second of these was Talkativeness, a little better grown ; lhe seemed to

[ocr errors]


be like a young wife, and had an hundred tongues to spread her stories. The third was Censoriousness, habited like a Widow, and surrounded with an hundred squinting eyes of a malignant influence, which so obliquely darted on all around, that it was impoffible to say which of them had brought in the information the boafted of. These, as I was informed, had been very inftrumental in preserving and rearing Common Fame, when upon her birthday she was fhuffled into a croud, to escape the search which Truth might have made after her and her parents. Curiosity found her there, Talkative. ness conveyed her away, and Censorioufnefs so nursed her up, that in a fhort time she grew to a prodigious fize, and obtained an empire over the universe ; wherefore the Power, in gratitude for these services, has since advanced them to her highest employments. The next who came forward in this proceffion was a light damsel, called Credulity, who carried behind them the lamp, the silver vefsel with a spout, and other instruments proper for this folemn occafion. She had formerly feen these three together, and conjecturing from the number of their ears, tongues and eyes, that they might be the proper Genii of Attention, Familiar Converse, and Ocular Demonstration, fee from that time gave herfelf up to attend them. The last who followed were some who had clofely muffled themselvs in upper garments, so that I could not discern who they were ; but just as the foremost of them was come


« PreviousContinue »