Page images

act of uniformity on the right hand, and the act of toleration on the left. At the lower end of the hall was the act of settlement, which was placed full in the eye of the virgin that sat upon the throne. Both the sides of the hall were covered with such acts of parliament as had been made for the establishment of public funds. The lady seemed to let an unspeakable value upon these several pieces of furniture, infomuch that the often refreihed her eye with them, and often smiled with a secret pleasure, as she looked upon them; but, at the same time, shewed a very particular uneasiness, if she faw any thing approaching that might hurt them. She appeared indeed inanitely timorous in all her behaviour : and, whether it was from the delicacy of her constitution, or that she was troubled with vapours, as I was afterwards told by one who I found was none of her well-wishers, the changed colour, and startled at every thing she heard. She was likewise (as I afterwards found) a greater valetudinarian than any

I had ever met with, even in her own sex, and subject to such momentary consumptions, that in the twinkling of an eye, she would fall away from the most florid complexion, and the most healthful state of body, and wi-' ther into a skeleton. Her recoveries were often as sudden as her decays, insomuch that she would revive in a moinent out of a wasting distemper into a habit of the highest health and vigour.

I had very soon an opportunity of observing these quick turns and changes in her conftitution. There fat at her feet a couple of secretaries, who received every hour letters from all parts of the world, which the one or the other of them was perpetually reading to her ; and, according to the news she heard, to which she was exceedingly attentive, she changed colour, and discovered many symptoms of health or sickness.

Behind the throne was a prodigious heap of bags of money, which were piled upon one another so high that they touched the cieling. The floor, on her right hand, and on her left, was covered with vast sums of gold that rose up in pyramids on either side of her : but this I did not so much wonder at, when I heard, upon inquiry, that she had the same virtue in her touch,

[ocr errors]

which the poets tell us a Lydian king was formerly pofsessed of: and that she could convert whatever the pleased into that precious metal.

After a little dizziness, and confused hurry of thought, which a man often meets with in a dream, methought the hall was alarmed, the doors flew open, and there entered half a dozen of the most hideous phantoms that I had ever seen (even in a dream) before that time. They came in two by two, though matched in the most dissociable manner, and mingled together in a kind of dance. It would be tedious to describe their habits and persons, for which reason I shall only inform my reader, that the first couple were tyranny and anarchy, the second were bigotry and atheism, the third the genius of a commonwealth, and a young man of about twenty-two years

whose name

I could not learn. He had a sword in his right hand, which in the dance he often brandished at the act of sett ent; and a citizen, who stood by me, whispered in my ear, that he saw a spunge in his left hand. The dance of so many jarring natures put me in mind of the sun, moon, and earth, in the Rehearsal, that danced together for no other end but to eclipse one another.

The reader will easily suppose, by what has been before faid, that the lady on the throne would have been almost frighted to distraction, had the seen but any one of these spectres; what then must have been her condition when she saw them all in a body? she fainted and died away at the light.

Et neque jam color est misto candore rubori ;
Nec vigor, & vires, & quæ modò visa placebant ;
Nec corpus remanet Ovid. Met. l. 3. ver. 491.

Her spirits faint,
Her blooming cheeks affume a palid teint,
And scarce her form remains.

There was as great a change in the hill of moneybags, and the heaps of money, the former shrinking, and falling into fo inany empty bags, that I now found not above a tenth part of them had been filled with money. The rest that took up the same space and made the same figure as the bags that were really filled with money, had been blown up with air, and called into my memory the bags full of wind, which Homer tells us his hero received as a present from Æolus. The great heaps of gold on either side the throne, now appeared to be only heaps of paper, or little piles of notched sticks, bound up together in bundles, like Bath-faggots.

Whilft I was lamenting this sudden desolation that had been made before me, the whole scene vanished. In the room of the frightful spectres, there now entered a second dance of apparitions very agreeably matched together, and made up of very an.iable phantoms. The firit pair was liberty with monarchy at her right hand: the second was moderation leading in religion ; and the third a person whom I had never seen, with the genius of Great Britain. At the first entrance the lady revived, the bags swelled to their former bulk, the pile of fag. gots and heaps of paper changed into pyramids of guineas: and for my own part I was so transported with joy, that I awaked, though I must confess, I would fain have fallen alleep again to have closed my vision, if I could have done it.


[ocr errors][merged small]

-Egregii mortalem altique filenti?

Hor. Šat. 6. 1. 2. ver. 58. One of uncommon silence and reserve. An author, when he firt appears in the world, is very apt to believe it has nothing to think of but his performances. With a good thare of this. vanity in my heart, I made it my business these three days to listen after my own fame; and as I have fometimes met with circumstances which did not displease me, I have been encountered by others which gave me as much mortification. It is incredible to think how einpty I have in this time observed some part of the species to be, what mere blanks they are when they first come abroad in the morning, how utterly they are at a stand until they are set a going by some paragraph in a news-paper : such persons are very acceptable to a young author, for they desire no more in any thing but to be new to be agreeable. If I found confolation among such, I was as much disquieted by the incapacity of others. These are mortals who have a certain curiosity without power of reflection, and perused my papers like spectators rather than readers. But there is to little pleasure in enquiries that so nearly concern ourselves, (it being the worst way in the world to fame, to be too anxious about it) that


the whole I resolved for the future to go on in my ordinary way; and without too much fear or hope about the business of reputation, to be very careful of the design of my actions, but very negligent of the consequences of them.

It is an endless and frivolous pursuit to act by any other rule than the care of satisfying our own minds in what we do. One would think a silent man, who concerned himself with no one breathing, should be very little liable to misinterpretations; and yet I remember I was once taken up for a Jesuit, for no other reason but my profound taciturnity. It is from this misfortune that, to be out of harm's way, I have ever since affected crowds. He who comes into assemblies only to gratify his curiosity, and not to make a figure, enjoys the pleasures of retirement in a more exquisite degree than he possibly could in his closet; the lover, the ambitious, and the niser, are followed thither by a worse crowd than any they can withdraw from. To be exempt from the passions with which others are tormented, is the only pleasing solitude. I can very justly say with the ancient sage, I am never less alone than when alone. As I am insignificant to the company in public places, and as it is visible I do not come thither as mot do, to fhew myself, I gratify the vanity of all who pretend to make an appearance, and have often as kind looks from well-dressed gentlemen and ladies, as a poet would bestow upon one of his audience. There are so many gratifications attend this public fort of obfcurity, that some little diftaftes 1 daily receive have lost their anguish; and I did the other day, without the least displeasure, overhear one fay of me, That strange fellow; and another answer, I have known the fellow's face these twelve years, and so must you ; but I believe you are the first ever asked who he was.

There are, I must confess, many to whom my person is as well known as that of their nearest relations, who give themselves no farther trouble about calling me by my name or quality, but speak of me very currently by Mr. What d'ye call him.

To make up for these trivial disadvantages, I have the highest fatisfaction of beholding all nature with an unprejudiced eye ; and having nothing to do with miens pallions or interests, I can with the greater fagacity conlider their talents, manners, failings, and merits.

It is remarkable, that those who want any one sense, possess the others with greater force and vivacity. Thus my want of, or rather refignation of speech, gives me all the advantages of a dumb man.

I have, inethinks, a more than ordinary penetration in seeing ; and flatter myself that I have looked into the highest and lowest of mankind, and make shrewd guesses, without being admitted to their conversation, at the inmost thoughts and reflections of all whom I behold. It is from hence that good or ill fortune has no manner of force towards affecting my judgment. I see men flourishing in courts, and languishing in jails, without being prejudiced from their circumstances to their favour or disadvantage ; but from their inward manner of bearing their condition, often pity the prosperous, and admire the unhappy.

Those who converse with the dumb, know from the turn of their eyes, and the changes of their countenance, their sentiments of the objects before them. I have indulged my silence to such an extravagance, that the few who are intimate with me, answer my smiles with concurrent sentences, and argue to the very point I shaked my head at, without my speaking: Will HONEYCOMB was very entertaining the other night at a play, to a gentleman who sat on his right hand, while I was at his left. The gentleman believed Will was talking to himself, when upon my looking with great approbation at a young thing in a box before us, he said,

« EelmineJätka »