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No. 378. WEDNESDAY, MAY 14, 1712.
Aggredere, O magnos! aderit jam tempus honores.
VIRG. Ecl. iv. 48.
I will make no apology for entertaining the reader with the following poem, which is written by a great genius, a friend of mine* in the country, who is not ashamed to employ his wit in the praise of his Maker.
A SACRED ECLOGUE,
Rapt into future times, the bard began,
A virgin shall conceive, a virgin bear a son! Isa. xi. 4. From Jesse's root behold a branch arise,
Whose sacred flower with fragrance fills the skies :
Th' ætherial Spirit o’er its leaves shall move,
And on its top descends the mystic Dove. xlv. 8. Ye heavens ! from high the dewy nectar pour,
And in soft silence shed the kindly shower!. XXV. 4.
The sick and weak the healing plant shall aid,
All crimes shall cease, and ancient fraud shall fail ; is. 7. Returning justice lift aloft her scale;
Peace o'er the world her olive wand extend,
* Pope. See No. 53.4.
Swift fly the years, and rise the expected morn!
Ixv. 21, 22:
The swain in barren deserts with surprise xxxy. 188.8.131.52
And starts amidst the thirsty wilds to hear
The green reed trembles, and the bulrush nods. Isa. xli. 19, Waste sandy valleys, once perplex'd with thorn, and lv. 13. The spiry fur and shapely box adorn:
To leafless shrubs the flowering palms succeed,
And od’rous myrtle to the noisome weed. xi. 6, 7, 8. The lambs with wolves shall grace the verdant
Exalt thy towery head, and lift thy eyes !
See future sons and daughters yet unborn
Demanding life, impatient for the skies! tx. 3. See barb'rous nations at thy gates attend,
Walk in thy light, and in thy temple bend!
See thy bright altars throng'd with prostrate kings, Ix. 6.
And heaped with products of Sabæan springs !
And seeds of gold in Ophir's mountain glow.
And break upon thee with a flood of day! Lx. 19, 20. No more the rising sun shall gild the morn, 1. 6. Nor evening Cynthia fill her silver horn,
But lost, dissolved in thy superior rays,
Reveald, and God's eternal day be thine!
But fix'd His word, His saving power remains;
No. 379. THURSDAY, MAY 15, 1712.
Scire tuum nihil est, nisi te scire hoc sciat alter.
PERS. Sat. 1. 27.
-Science is not science till reveal'd.
I HAVE often wondered at that ill-natured position which has been sometimes maintained in the schools, and is comprised in an old Latin verse, namely, that "A man's knowledge is worth nothing if he communicates what he knows to any one besides.'
There is certainly no more sensible pleasure to a good-natured man, than if he can by any means gratify or inform the mind of another. I might add, that this virtue naturally carries its own reward along with it, since it is almost impossible it should be exercised without the improvement of the person who practises it. The reading of books and the daily occurrences of life, are continually furnishing us with matter for thought and reflection. It is extremely natural for us to desire to see such our thoughts put in the dress of words, without which, indeed, we can scarce have a clear and distinct idea of them ourselves. When they are thus clothed in expressions, nothing so truly shows us whether they are just or false, as those effects which they produce in the minds of others.
I am apt to flatter myself, that in the course of these my speculations, I have treated of several subjects, and laid down many such rules for the conduct of a man's life, which my readers were either wholly ignorant of before, or which at least
those few who were acquainted with them looked upon ás so many secrets they have found out for the conduct of themselves, but were resolved never to have made public.
I am the more confirmed in this opinion from my having received several letters, wherein I am censured for having prostituted Learning to the embraces of the vulgar, and made her, as one of my correspondents phrases it, a common strumpet. I am charged, by another with laying open the arcana or secrets of prudence to the eyes of every reader.
The narrow spirit which appears in the letters of these my correspondents is the less surprising, as it has shown itself in all ages: there is still extant an epistle written by Alexander the Great to his tutor Aristotle, upon that philosopher's publishing some part of his writings; in which the prince complains of his having made known to all the world those secrets in learning which he had before communicated to him in private lectures; concluding that he had rather excel the rest of mankind in knowledge than in power.
Louissa de Padilla, a lady of great learning, and countess of Aranda, was in like manner angry with the famous Gratian, upon his publishing his treatise of the Discreto, wherein she fancied that he had laid open those maxims to common readers which ought only to have been reserved for the knowledge of the great.
These objections are thought by many of so much weight, that they often defend the abovementioned authors by affirming they have affected such an obscurity in their style and manner of writing, that, though every one may read their works, there will be but very few who can comprehend their meaning.