Page images

Persius, the Latin satirist, affected obscurity for another reason; with which, however, Mr. Cowley is so offended, that, writing to one of his friends, You,' says he, tell me, that you do not know whether Persius be a good poet or no, because you cannot understand him; for which

very reason I affirm that he is not so.'

However, this art of writing unintelligibly has been very much improved, and followed by several of the moderns, who, observing the general inclination of mankind to dive into a secret, and the reputation many have acquired by concealing their meaning under obscure terms and phrases, resolve, that they may be still more abstruse, to write without any meaning at all. This art, as it is at present practised by many eminent authors, consists in throwing so many words at a venture into different periods, and leaving the curious reader to find the meaning of them.

The Egyptians, who made use of hieroglyphics to signify several things, expressed a man who confined his knowledge and discoveries altoge. ther within himself by the figure of a dark lans tern closed on all sides; which, though it was illuminated within, afforded no manner of light or advantage to such as stood by it. For my own part, as I shall from time to time communicate to the public whatever discoveries I happen to make, I should much rather be compared to an ordinary lamp, which consumes and wastes itself for the benefit of every passenger:

I shall conclude this paper with the story of Rosicrusius's sepulchre. I suppose I need not inform my readers that this man was the author of the Rosicrusian sect, and that his disciples still




pretend to new discoveries, which they are never to communicate to the rest of mankind.*

• A certain person having occasion to dig some. what deep in the ground, where this philosopher lay interred, met with a small door, having a wall on each side of it. His curiosity, and the hopes of finding some hidden treasure, soon prompted. him to force open the door. He was immediately surprised by a sudden blaze of light, and discovered a very fair vault. At the upper end of it was a statue of a man in armour, sitting by a table, and leaning on his left arm. He held a truncheon in his right hand, and had a lamp burning before him. The man had no sooner set one foot within the vault, than the statue erected itself from its leaning posture, stood bolt up-right, and, upon the fellow's advancing another step, lifted up the truncheon in his right hand. The man still ventured a third step, when the statue, with a furious blow, broke the lamp into a thousand pieces, and left his guest in a sudden darkness.

« Upon the report of this adventure, the country people soon came with lights to the sepulchre, and discovered that the statue, which was made of brass, was nothing more than a piece of clockwork; that the floor of the vault was all loose, and underlaid with several springs, which, upon any man's entering, naturally produced that which had happened.'

Rosicrusius, say his disciples, made use of this method to show the world that he had re-invented the ever burning lamps of the ancients though he was resolved no one should reap any advantage from the discovery.


* See Comte de Gabalis, par l'Abbe Villars. 1742, rols. in 12mo. and Pope's Works, ed. of Warb. vol. 1. p, 109 12no. 1770. 6 vols,

No. 380, FRIDAY, MAY 16, 1712.

Rivalem patienter habe.

Ovid. Ars Am.ü. 538. With patience bear a rival in thy love.


Thursday, May 8, 1712. • The character you have in the world of being the ladies' philosopher, and the pretty advice I have seen you give to others in your papers, make me address myself to you in this abrupt manner, and to desire your opinion of what in this age a woman may call a lover. I have lately had a gentleman that I thought made pretensions to me, insomuch that most of


friends took notice of it, and thought we were really, married. I did not take much pains to undeceive them, and especially a young gentlewoman of my particular acquaintance, who was then in the country. She coming to town, and seeing our intimacy so great, she gave herself the liberty of taking me to task concerning it: I ingenuously told her we were not married, but I did not know what might be the event. She soon got acquainted with the gentleman, and was pleased to take upon her to examine him about it. Now, whether a new face had made a greater conquest than the old, I will leave you to judge. I am informed that he utterly denied all pretensions to courtship, but withal professed a sincere friendship for me; but, whether marriages are proposed by way of friendship or not, is what I desire to know, and what I may really call a lover! There are so many who talk in a language fit only for that character, and yet guard themselves against speaking

in direct terms to the point, that it is impossible to distinguish between courtship and conversation. I hope you will do me justice both upon my lover and my friend, if they provoke me further. In the mean time I carry it with so equal a behaviour, that the nymph and the swain too are mightily at a loss : each believes I, who know them both well, think myself revenged in their love to one another, which creates an irreconcileable jealousy. If all comes right again, you shall hear further from, SIR, Your most obedient servant,



April 28, 1712. Your observations on persons that have behaved themselves irreverently at church, I doubt not have had a good effect on some that have read them; but there is another fault which has hitherto escaped your notice, I mean of such persons as are there very zealous and punctual to perform an ejaculation that is only preparatory to the service of the church, and yet neglect to join the service itself. There is an instance of this in a friend of Will Honeycomb's, who sits opposite to me. He seldom comes in till the prayers are about half over; and when he has entered his seat (instead of joining with the congregation) he devoutly holds his hat before his face for three or four moments, then bows to all his acquaintance, sits down, takes a pinch of snuff (if it be the evening service perhaps takes a nap) and spends the remaining time in surveying the congregation. Now, Sir, what I would desire is, that you would animadvert a little on this gentleman's practice. In my opinion, this gentleman's

devotion, cap in hand, is only a compliance to the custom of the place, and goes no farther than a little ecclesiastical good-breeding. If you will not pretend to tell us the motives that bring such triflers to solemn assemblies, yet let me desire that you will give this letter a place in your paper, and I shall remain, SIR,

Your obliged humble servant,

J. S. **


May the 5th. « The conversation at a club of which I am a member last night falling upon vanity and the desire of being admired, put me in mind of relating how agreeably I was entertained at my own door last Thursday, by a clean fresh-coloured girl, under the most elegant and the best furnished milk-pail I had ever observed.

I was glad of such an opportunity of seeing the behaviour of a coquette in low life, and how she receive ed the extraordinary notice that was taken of her; which I found had affected every muscle of her face in the same manner as it does the features of a first rate toast at a play or in an assembly. This hint of mine made the discourse turn upon the sense of pleasure ; which ended in a general resolution, that the milk-maid enjoys her vanity as exquisitely as the woman of quality. I think it would not be an improper subject for you to examine this frailty, and trace it to all conditions of life; which is recommended to you as an occasion of obliging many of your readers, among the rest, Your most humble servant,

T. B.'

* Perhaps the initials of Swift's name, in whose worke there is a sermon on sleeping at churob.

« PreviousContinue »