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heart was filled with a deep melancholy to see several dropping unexpectedly in the midst of mirth and jollity, and catching at every thing that stood by them to save themselves. Some were looking up towards the heavens in a thoughtful posture, and in the midst of a speculation stumbled and fell out of sight. Multitudes were very busy in the pursuit of bubbles that glittered in their eyes and danced before them; but often when they thought themselves within the reach of them, their footing failed and down they sunk. In this confusion of objects, I observed some with scimitars in their hands, and others with urinals, who ran to and fro upon the bridge, thrusting several persons on trap-doors which did not seem to lie in their way, and which they might have escaped had they not been thus forced upon them.
The genius seeing me indulge myself on this melancholy prospect, told me I had dwelt long enough upon it. "Take thine eyes off the bridge," said he, "and tell me if thou yet seest any thing thou dost not comprehend." Upon looking up, "What mean," said I, "those great flights of birds that are perpetually hovering about the bridge, and settling upon it from time to time? I see vultures, harpies, ravens, cormorants, and among many other feathered creatures several little winged boys, that perch in great numbers upon the middle arches.""These," said the genius, "are Envy, Avarice, Superstition, Despair, Love, with the like cares and passions that infest human life."
singing birds, falling waters, human voices,
I here fetched a deep sigh. "Alas,' said I, "man was made in vain! how is he given away to misery and mortality! tortured in life, and swallowed up in death!" The genius being moved with compassion towards me, bid me quit so uncomfortable a prospect. "Look no more," said he, "on man in the first stage of his existence, in his setting out for eternity; but cast thine eye on that thick mist into which the tide bears the several generations of mortals that fall into it." I directed my sight as I was ordered, and (whether or no the good genius strengthened it with any superna
tural force, or dissipated part of the mist No. 160.] Monday, September 3, 1711. that was before too thick for the eye to penetrate,) I saw the valley opening at the farther end, and spreading forth into an immense ocean, that had a huge rock of adamant running through the midst of it, and dividing it into two equal parts. The clouds still rested on one half of it, insomuch that I could discover nothing in it: but the other appeared to me a vast ocean planted with innumerable islands, that were covered with fruits and flowers, and interwoven with a thousand little shining seas that ran among them. I could see persons dressed in glorious habits with garlands upon their heads, passing among the trees, lying down by the sides of fountains, or resting on beds of flowers; and could hear a confused harmony of
-Cui mens divinior, atque os Magna sonaturum, des nominis hujus honorem. Hor. Lib. 1. Sat. iv. 43. On him confer the Poet's sacred name, Whose lofty voice declares the heav'nly flame. THERE is no character more frequently given to a writer, than that of being a ge nius. I have heard many a little sonneteer called a fine genius. There is not an heroic scribbler in the nation, that has not his admirers who think him a great genius; and as for your smatterers in tragedy, there is scarce a man among them who is not cried up by one or other for a prodigious genius.
My design in this paper is to consider what is properly a great genius, and to
throw some thoughts together on so uncommon a subject.
exactness in our compositions. Our counstance of this first kind of great geniuses. tryman Shakspeare was a remarkable inthat Pindar was a great genius of the first I cannot quit this head without observing class, who was hurried on by a natural fire and impetuosity to vast conceptions of things and noble sallies of imagination. At the same time, can any thing be more ridiculous than for men of a sober and moderate fancy to imitate this poet's way of writing in those monstrous compositions which go among us under the name of Pindarics? When I see people copying works, which, as Horace has represented them, are singular in their kind, and inimitable: when I see men following irregularities by rule, and by the little tricks of art straining after the most unbounded flights of nature, I cannot but apply to them that passage in Terence:
There is another kind of great geniuses which I shall place in a second class, not as
Many of these great natural geniuses that were never disciplined and broken by rules of art, are to be found among the ancients, and in particular among those of the more eastern parts of the world. Homer has innumerable flights that Virgil was not able to reach, and in the Old Testament we find several passages more elevated and sublime than any in Homer. At the same time that we allow a greater and more daring genius to the ancients, we must own that the greatest of them very much failed in, or, if you will, that they were much above the nicety and correctness of the moderns. In their similitudes and allusions, provided there was a likeness, they did not much trouble themselves about the decency of I think them inferior to the first, but only the comparison: thus Solomon resembles for distinction's sake, as they are of a difthe nose of his beloved to the tower of Le-ferent kind. This second class of great banon which looketh towards Damascus; geniuses are those that have formed themas the coming of a thief in the night, is a selves by rules, and submitted the greatness similitude of the same kind in the New of their natural talents to the corrections Testament. It would be endless to make and restraints of art. Such among the collections of this nature; Homer illustrates Greeks were Plato and Aristotle; among one of his heroes encompassed with the the Romans Virgil and Tully; among the enemy, by an ass in a field of corn that has English Milton and Sir Francis Bacon. his sides belaboured by all the boys of the village without stirring a foot for it; and another of them tossing to and fro in his bed and burning with resentment, to a piece of flesh broiled on the coals. This particular failure in the ancients, opens a large field of raillery to the little wits, who can laugh at an indecency, but not relish the sublime in these sorts of writings. The present emperor of Persia, conformable to this eastern way of thinking, amidst a great many pompous titles, denominates himself the sun of glory,' and the nutmeg of delight. In short, to cut off all cavilling against the ancients, and particularly those of the warmer climates, who had most heat and life in their imagination, we are to consider that the rule of observing what the French call the bienseance in an allusion, has been found out of later years, and in the colder regions of the world; where we would make some amends for our want of force and spirit, by a scrupulous nicety and
fortune of their leader, is to be found in Voltaire's "SieA particular account of these people and the strange cle de Louis XIV." A few of them made their appeargives the following account:
ance in this country, in the year 1707, of whom Smollet
"Three Camisars, or protestants, from the Cevennois,
having made their escape, and repaired to London, acphets, from their enthusiastic gesticulations, effusions, quired about this time the appellation of French proand convulsions; and even formed a sect of their coun trymen. The French refugees, scandalized at their behaviour, and authorized by the bishop of London, as quire into the mission of these pretended prophets, superior of the French congregations, resolved to inwhose names were Elias Marion, John Cavalier, and Durand Eage. They were declared impostors and counconfirmed by the bishops, they continued their assemterfeits. Notwithstanding this decision, which was blies in Soho, under the countenance of Sir Richard Bulkeley and John Lacy. They reviled the ministers against the city of London, and the whole British naof the established church: they denounced judgments tion; and published their predictions composed of unintelligible jargon. Then they were prosecuted at the public peace and false prophets. They were sentenced as of the to pay a fine of twenty marks each, and stand twice on a scaffold, with papers on their breasts, denoting their Charing Cross and the Royal-Exchange." offence: a sentence which was executed accordingly at
expense of the French
The genius in both these classes of authors | correspondents, one of whom sends me the may be equally great, but shows itself after following letter: a different manner. In the first it is like a rich soil in a happy climate, that produces a whole wilderness of noble plants rising in a thousand beautiful landscapes, without any certain order or regularity. In the other it is the same rich soil under the same happy climate, that has been laid out in walks and parterres, and cut into shape and beauty by the skill of the gardener.
tire from us so soon into the city, I hope
The great danger in these latter kind of geniuses, is lest they cramp their own abilities too much by imitation, and form them-you know in most parts of England is the selves altogether upon models, without giv-I was last week at one of these assemblies, eve-feast of the dedication of our churches. ing the full play to their own natural parts. which was held in a neighbouring parish; An imitation of the best authors is not to where I found their green covered with a compare with a good original; and I believe we may observe that very few writers make promiscuous multitude of all ages and both an extraordinary figure in the world, who sexes, who esteem one another more or have not something in their way of thinking as they distinguish themselves at this less the following part of the year, according or expressing themselves, that is pecu- time. The whole company were in their liar to them, and entirely their own. parties, all of them endeavouring to show holiday clothes, and divided into several themselves in those exercises wherein they excelled, and to gain the approbation of
It is odd to consider what great geniuses are sometimes thrown away upon trifles.
tician than Archimedes.
I once saw a shepherd,' says a famous Italian author, who used to divert himself in his solitudes with tossing up eggs and catching them again without breaking were breaking one another's heads in order 'I found a ring of cudgel-players, who them: in which he had arrived to so great to make some impression on their misa degree of perfection, that he would keep tresses' hearts. I observed a lusty young up four at a time for several minutes to- fellow, who had the misfortune of a broken gether playing in the air, and falling into his hands by turns. I think,' says the au- pate; but what considerably added to the thor, I never saw a greater severity than anguish of the wound, was his overhearing in this man's face; for by his wonderful an old man, who shook his head and said, perseverance and application, he had con- would marry him these three years.' I 'That he questioned now if Black Kate tracted the seriousness and gravity of a privy-counsellor; and I could not but re- these combatants by a foot-ball match, was diverted from a farther observation of flect with myself, that the same assiduity which was on the other side of the green; and attention, had they been rightly applied, where Tom Short behaved himself so might have made him a greater mathema- well, that most people seemed to agree, it was impossible that he should remain a bachelor until the next wake.' Having played many a match myself, I could have looked longer on this sport, had I not observed a country girl who was posted on an eminence at some distance from me, and was making so many odd grimaces, and writhing and distorting her whole body in so strange a manner, as made me very desirous to know the meaning of it. Upon my coming up to her, I found that she was overlooking a ring of wrestlers, and that her sweetheart, a person of small stature, was contending with a huge brawny fellow, who twirled him about, and shook the little man so violently, that by a secret sympathy of hearts it produced all those agitations in the person of his mistress, who I dare say, like Cælia in Shakspeare on the same occasion, could have wished herself 'invisible to catch the strong fellow by the leg. * The 'squire of the parish treats the whole company every year with a hogshead of ale; and proposes a beaver hat as a recompence to him who gives most
* As You Like It. Aet i. Sc. 6.
No. 161.] Tuesday, September 4, 1711.
I AM glad that my late going into the country has increased the number of my
and looked upon by the whole family as something redounding much more to their honour than a coat of arms. There was a fellow who was so busy in regulating all the ceremonies, and seemed to carry such an air of importance in his look, that I could not help inquiring who he was, and was immediately answered, "That he did not value himself upon nothing, for that he and his ancestors had won so many hats, that his parlour looked like a haberdasher's shop." However, this thirst of glory in them all was the reason that no man stood "lord of the ring," for above three falls while I was among them. The young maids who were not lookers-country friend, that there has been many on at these exercises, were themselves engaged in some diversions: and upon my asking a farmer's son of my own parish what he was gazing at with so much attention, he told me, "That he was seeing Betty Welch," whom I knew to be his sweetheart," pitch a bar.”
falls. This has raised such a spirit of emu-spirit of emulation, which so remarkably lation in the youth of the place, that some shows itself among our common people in of them have rendered themselves very these wakes, might be directed, proposes expert at this exercise; and I was often that for the improvement of all our handisurprised to see a fellow's heels fly up, by craft trades there should be annual prizes a trip which was given him so smartly that set up for such persons as were most exI could scarce discern it. I found that the cellent in their several arts. old wrestlers seldom entered the ring until aside all these political considerations, But laying some one was grown formidable by having which might tempt me to pass the limits thrown two or three of his opponents: but of my paper, I confess the greatest benefit kept themselves as it were in a reserved and convenience that I can observe in these body to defend the hat, which is always country festivals, is the bringing young hung up by the person who gets it in one people together, and giving them an opof the most conspicuous parts of the house,portunity of showing themselves in the most advantageous light. A country fellow that throws his rival upon his back, has generally as good success with their common mistress; as nothing is more usual than for a nimble-footed wench to get a husband at the same time that she wins a smock. Love and marriages are the natural effects of these anniversary assemblies. I must therefore very much approve the method by which my correspondent tells me each sex endeavours to recommend itself to the other, since nothing seems more likely to promise a healthy offspring, or a happy cohabitation. And I believe I may assure my
a court lady who would be contented to exchange her crazy young husband for Tom Short, and several men of quality who would have parted with a tender yokefellow for Black Kate.
I am the more pleased with having love meetings, as it seems to be more agreeable made the principal end and design of these to the intent for which they were at first in
In short, I found the men endeavoured to show the women they were no cowards, and that the whole company strived to re-stituted, as we are informed by the learned commend themselves to each other by Dr. Kennet, with whose words I shall conmaking it appear that they were all in a clude my present paper. perfect state of health, and fit to undergo any fatigues of bodily labour.
Your judgment upon this method of love and gallantry, as it is at present practised among us in the country, will very much oblige, sir, yours, &c.'
"These wakes (says he,) were in imitaand were first established in England by tion of the ancienty, or love-feasts; Pope Gregory the Great, who in an Epis tle to Melitus the abbot, gave order that they should be kept in sheds or arbories trees round the church.' made up with the branches and boughs of
If I would here put on the scholar and politician, I might inform my readers how these bodily exercises or games were for-wakes prevailed for many ages, until the He adds, That this laudable custom of merly encouraged in all the common- nice puritans began to exclaim against it wealths of Greece; from whence the as a remnant of popery; and by degrees Romans afterwards borrowed their pen- the precise humour grew so popular, that tathlum, which was composed of running, at an Exeter assizes the Lord Chief Baron wrestling, leaping, throwing, and boxing, Walter made an order for the suppression though the prizes were generally nothing of all wakes; but on Bishop Laud's combut a crown of cypress or parsley, hats not plaining of this innovating humour, the king being in fashion in those days: that there is commanded the order to be reversed.' X. an old statute, which obliges every man in England, having such an estate, to keep and No. 162.] Wednesday, September 5, 1711. exercise the long-bow: by which means our ancestors excelled all other nations in the use of that weapon, and we had all the real advantages, without the inconvenience of a standing army: and that I once met with a book of projects, in which the author, considering to what noble ends that
-Servetur ad imum,
Parochial Antiquities, 4to. 1695, p 610, 614.
a man appear so contemptible and little in | we fall into crimes and recover out of them, the eyes of the world as inconstancy, espe- are amiable or odious in the eyes of our cially when it regards religion or party.great Judge, and pass our whole life in of In either of these cases, though a man per-fending and asking pardon. On the conhaps does but his duty in changing his trary, the beings underneath us are not side, he not only makes himself hated by capable of sinning, nor those above us of those he left, but is seldom heartily esteem- repenting. The one is out of the possibilied by those he comes over to. ties of duty, and the other fixed in an eternal course of sin, or an eternal course of virtue.
In these great articles of life, therefore, a man's conviction ought to be very strong, and if possible so well-timed, that worldly There is scarce a state of life, or stage in advantages may seem to have no share in it, it, which does not produce changes and or mankind will be ill-natured enough to revolutions in the mind of man. Our think he does not change sides out of prin- schemes of thought in infancy are lost in ciple, but either out of levity of temper, or those of youth; these too take a different prospects of interest. Converts and rene- turn in manhood, until old age often leads gadoes of all kinds should take particular us back into our former infancy. A new care to let the world see they act upon ho- title or an unexpected success throws nourable motives; or whatever approba- us out of ourselves, and in a manner detions they may receive from themselves, stroys our identity. A cloudy day, or a litand applauses from those they converse tle sunshine, has as great an influence on with, they may be very well assured that many constitutions, as the most real blessthey are the scorn of all good men, and the ing or misfortune. A dream varies our public marks of infamy and derision. being, and changes our condition while it lasts; and every passion, not to mention
Irresolution on the schemes of life which offer themselves to our choice, and incon-health and sickness, and the greater alterastancy in pursuing them, are the greatest tions in body and mind, makes us appear and most universal causes of all our disquiet almost different creatures. If a man is so and unhappiness. When ambition pulls distinguished among other beings by this one way, interest another, inclination a infirmity, what can we think of such as third, and perhaps reason contrary to all, make themselves remarkable for it even a man is likely to pass his time but ill who among their own species? It is a very has so many different parties to please. trifling character to be one of the most vaWhen the mind hovers among such a va- riable beings of the most variable kind, riety of allurements, one had better settle especially if we consider that he who is the on a way of life that is not the very best great standard of perfection has in him no we might have chosen, than grow old with- shadow of change, but is the same yesterout determining our choice, and go out of day, to-day, and for ever.' the world, as the greatest part of mankind do, before we had resolved how to live in it. There is but one method of setting ourselves at rest in this particular, and that is by adhering steadfastly to one great end as the chief and ultimate aim of all our pursuits. If we are firmly resolved to live up to the dictates of reason, without any regard to wealth, reputation, or the like considerations, any more than as they fall in with our principal design, we may go through life with steadiness and pleasure; but if we act by several broken views, and will not only be virtuous, but wealthy, popular, and every thing that has a value set upon it by the world, we shall live and die in misery and repentance.
As this mutability of temper and inconsistency with ourselves is the greatest weakness of human nature, so it makes the person who is remarkable for it in a very particular manner more ridiculous than any other infirmity whatsoever, as it sets him in a greater variety of foolish lights, and distinguishes him from himself by an opposition of party-coloured characters. The most humorous character in Horace is founded upon this unevenness of temper and irregularity of conduct:
One would take more than ordinary care to guard one's self against this particular imperfection, because it is that which our nature very strongly inclines us to; for if we examine ourselves thoroughly, we shall find that we are the most changeable beings in the universe. In respect to our understanding, we often embrace and reject the very same opinions; whereas beings above and beneath us have probably no opinions at all, or at least no wavering and uncertainties in those they have. Our superiors are guided by intuition, and our inferiors by instinct. In respect of our wills,
Ille Tigellius hoc: Cæsar, qui cogere posset,
Concha salis puri, et toga, quæ defendere frigus,
Instead of translating this passage in Horace, I shall entertain my English reader with the description of a parallel character, that is wonderfully well finished by Mr.