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sprightliness. One degree more of vivacity and spirit raises it to fire, a very valuable property of the mind if kept in a settled continuity. A little too much fire produces wildness or extravagance, and from this there is but one step more to madness, raving, or phrensy.
In the lower divisions of my thermometer the several degrees of cold in the understanding are justly distinguished in their orderly decrease. A good sound natural judgment, tempered with a little cold, falls into seriousness. Seriousness is the forerunner of phlegm; too much phlegm cramps the understanding and makes it heavy; and a heavy writer is in as ready a way to become dull, as a wild or extravagant one is to commence madman.
As I have had frequent opportunities of using this instrument in the examination of the works of the learned, and to determine to the twelfth part of an inch, what measure of understanding and spirit which any particular author possesses, I shall only in general remark that in mathematics and history, the spirits in my tube remain fixed to the center. Rhetoric raises them to sprightliness; and philosophy sinks them to seriousness. The antient poets raise them to fire, but law or the fathers depress them to phlegm. The most renowned romances have elevated
them to wildness or extravagance, and I am sorry to say, it is but too common for our modern authors to bring them down, at least one degree below phlegm,
But above all, I have most wondered at the strange effect which the greater part, of controversial writings have produced. I no sooner begin to read a line or two of them than my spirits rise at once from the ball to the highest degree of my tube, and fall again with the like precipitancy to the lowest,
As it is of a portable size, I have caused a case to be made to it, and seldom go into company without taking my thermometer with me; and while others are busied in admiring the structure of it, and narrowly examining the characters of the degrees, which are intelligible only to myself, I have an opportunity of enquiring into the capacities and faculties of their minds.
In assemblies, made up partly of the fair sex, I generally observe my thermometer to rise at least above sprightliness: and in those which consist wholly of men, it rises in proportion as the bottles empty; but when I have visited the same friends the next morning, at their tea table, I generally find it sunk two degrees lower than it was before it began to rise the preceding evening.
With the account of this Intellectual Thermometer we close our selection; and we trust that the literary contributions, which we have levied from our different writers, will stand the test, and that they will be found to preserve a due medium, neither causing it to sink below phlegm nor to rise above fire.