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thought rugged and unmusical, he conceives to have been written to temper the melodious luxury of the rest, or to express things by a proper cadence: for he scarcely finds a verse that has not this favourite beauty ; he declares that he could shiver in a hot-house, when he reads that
“ the ground
and that, when Milton bewails his blindness, the verse has,
“So thick a drop serene has quench'd these orbs”
he knows not how, something that strikes him with an obscure sensation like that which he fancies would be felt from the sound of darkness.
Minim is not so confident of his rules of judgment as not very eagerly to catch new light from the name of the author. He is commonly so prudent as to spare those whom he cannot resist, unless, as will sometimes happen, he finds the public combined against them. But a fresh pretender to fame he is strongly inclined to censure, till his own honour requires that he commend him. Till he knows the success of a composition, he intrenches himself in general terms; there are some new thoughts and beautiful passages ; but there is likewise much which he would have advised the author to expunge. He has several, favourite epithets, of which he has never settled the meaning, but which are very commodiously applied to books which he has not read, or cannot understand. One is manly, another is dry, another stiff, and another flimsy ; sometimes he discovers delicacy of style, and sometimes meets with strange expressions.
He is never so great, or so happy, as when a youth of promising parts is brought to receive his directions for the prosecution of his studies. He then puts on a very serious air ; he advises the pupil to read none but the best authors ; and, when he finds one congenial to his own mind, to study his beauties, but avoid his faults; and, when he sits down to write, to consider how his favourite author would think at the present time on the present occasion. He exhorts him to catch those moments when he finds his thoughts expanded and his genius exalted; but to take care lest imagination hurry him beyond the bounds of nature. He holds diligence the mother of success : yet enjoins him, with great earnestness, not to read more than he can digest, and not to confuse bis mind by pursuing studies of contrary tendencies. He tells him, that every man has his genius, and that Cicero could never be a poet. The boy retires illuminated, resolves to follow his genius, and to think how Milton would have thought: and Minim feasts upon his own beneficence till another day brings another pupil.
No. 62. SATURDAY, June 23, 1759.
TO THE IDLER,
SIR-An opinion prevails almost universally in the world, that he who has money has every thing. This is not a modern paradox, or the tenet of a small and obscure sect, but a persuasion which appears to have operated upon most minds in all ages, and which is supported by authorities so numerous and so cogent, that nothing but long experience could have given me confidence to question its truth.
But experience is the test by which all the philosophers of the present age agree, that speculation must be tried; and I may be therefore allowed to doubt the power of money, since I have been a long time rich, and have not yet found that riches can make me happy.
My father was a farmer, neither wealthy nor indigent, who gave me a better education than was suitable to my birth, because my uncle in the city designed me for his heir, and desired that I might be bred a gentleman. My uncle's wealth was the perpetual subject of conversation in the house; and when any little misfortune befell us, or any mortification dejected us, my father always exhorted me to hold up my head, for my uncle would never marry.
My uncle, indeed, kept his promise. Having his mind completely busied between his warehouse and the 'Change, he felt no tediousness of life, nor any want of domestic amusements. When my father died, he received me kindly ; but, after a few months, finding no great pleasure in the conversation of cach other, we parted ; and he remitted me a small annuity, on which I lived a quiet and studious life, without any wish to grow great by the death of my benefactor.
But though I never suffered any malignant impatience to take hold on my mind, I could not forbear sometimes to imagine to myself the pleasure of being rich ; and, when I read of diversions and magnificence, resolved to try, when
time should put the trial in my power, what pleasure they could afford.
My uncle, in the latter spring of his life, when his ruddy cheek and his firm nerves promised him a long and healthy age, died of an apoplexy. His death gave me neither joy nor sorrow. He did me good, and I regarded him with gratitude; but I could not please him, and therefore could not love him.
He had the policy of little minds, who love to surprise; and, having always represented his fortune as less than it was, had, I suppose, often gratified himself with thinking, how I should be delighted to find myself twice as rich as I expected. My wealth was such as exceeded all the schemes of expense which I had formed; and I soon began to expand my thoughts, and look round for some purchase of felicity.
The most striking effect of riches is the splendour of dress, which every man has observed to enforce respect, and facilitate reception ; and my first desire was to be fine. I sent for a tailor who was employed by the nobility, and ordered such a suit of clothes as I bad often looked on with involuntary submission, and am ashamed to remember with what flutters of expectation I waited for the hour when I should issue forth in all the splendour of embroidery. The clothes were brought, and for three days I observed many eyes turned towards me as I passed : but I felt myself obstructed in the common intercourse of civility by an uneasy consciousness of my new appearance. As I thought myself more observed, I was more anxious about my mien and behaviour ; and the mien which is formed by care is commonly ridiculous. A short time accustomed me to myself, and my dress was without pain and without pleasure..
For a little while I tried to be a rake, but I began too late; and having by nature no turn for a frolic, was in great danger of ending in a drunkard. A fever, in which not one of my companions paid me a visit, gave me time for reflection. I found that there was no great pleasure in breaking windows, and lying in the round-house; and resolved to associate no longer with those whom, though I had treated and bailed them, I could not make friends.
I then changed my measures, kept running-horses, and had the comfort of seeing my name very often in the news. I had a chestnut horse, the grandson of Childers, who won four plates, and ten by-matches; and a bay filly, who carried off the five-years-old plate, and was expected to perform much greater exploits, when my groom broke her wind, because I happened to catch him selling oats for beer. This happiness
was soon at an endl; there was no pleasure when I lost, and when I won I could not much exalt myself by the virtues of my horse. I grew ashamed of the company of Jockey Lords, and resolved to spend no more of my time in the stable.
It was now known that I had money and would spend it; and I passed four months in the company of architects, whose whole business was to persuade me to build a house. I told them that I had more room than I wanted, but could not get rid of their importunities. A new plan was brought me every morning: till at last my constancy was overpowered, and I began to build. The happiness of building lasted but a little while, for though I love to spend, I hate to be cheated ; and I soon found, that to build is to be robbed.
How I proceed in the pursuit of happiness, you shall hear when I feel myself disposed to write.
I am, Sir, &c.
No. 63. SATURDAY, June 30, 1759.
The natural progress of the works of men is from rude, ness to convenience, from convenience to elegance, and from elegance to nicety.
The first labour is enforced by necessity. The savage finds himself incommoded by heat and cold, by rain and wind; he shelters himself in the hollow of a rock, and learns to dig a cave where there was none before. He finds the sun and the wind excluded by the thicket; and when the accidents of the chase, or the convenience of pasturage, leads him into more open places, he forms a thicket for himself, by planting stakes at proper distances, and laying branches from one to another.
The next gradation of skill and industry produces a house, closed with doors, and divided by partitions; and apartments are multiplied and disposed according to the various degrees of power or invention: improvement succeeds improvement, as he that is freed from a greater evil grows impatient of a less, till ease in time is advanced to pleasure.
The mind set free from the importunities of natural want, gains leisure to go in search of superfluous gratifications, and alls to the uses of habitation the delights of prospect. Then begins the reign of symmetry : orders of architecture are invented, and one part of the edifice is conformed to another,
without any other reason than that the eye may not be offended.
The passage is very short from elegance to luxury. Ionic and Corinthian columns are soon succeeded by gilt cornices, inlaid floors, and petty ornaments, which show rather the wealth than the taste of the possessor.
Language proceeds, like every thing else, through improvement to degeneracy. The rovers who first take possession of a country, having not many ideas, and those not nicely modified or discriminated, were contented if by general terms and abrupt sentences they could make their thoughts known to one another; as life begins to be more regulated, and property to become limited, disputes must be decided, and claims adjusted; the differences of things are noted, and distinctness and propriety of expression become necessary. In time, happiness and plenty give rise to curiosity, and the sciences are cultivated for ease and pleasure; to the arts which are now to be taught, emulation soon adds the art of teaching; and the studious and ambitious contend not only who shall think best, but who shall tell their thoughts in the most pleasing manner.
Then begin the arts of rhetoric and poetry, the regulation of figures, the selection of words, the modulation of periods,
graces of transition, the complication of clauses, and all the delicacies of style and subtilties of composition, useful while they advance perspicuity, and laudable while they increase pleasure, but easy to be refined by needless scrupulosity till they shall more embarrass the writer than assist the reader or delight him.
The first state is commonly antecedent to the practice of writing; the ignorant essays of imperfect diction pass away with the savage generation that uttered them. No nation can trace their language beyond the second period, and even of that it does not often happen that many monuments remain.
The fate of the English tongue is like that of others. We know nothing of the scanty jargon of our barbarous ancestors; but we have specimens of our language when it began to be adapted to civil and religious purposes, and find it such as might naturally be expected, artless and simple, unconnected and concise. The writers seem to have desired little more than to be understood, and perhaps seldom aspired to the praise of pleasing. Their verses were considered chiefly as memorial, and therefore did not differ from prose but by the measure or the rhyme.
In this state, varied a little according to the different pur