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ing; he that thinks with more subtilty, will seek for terms of more nice discrimination; and where is the wonder, since words are but the images of things, that he who never knew the originals should not know the copies ?
Yet vanity inclines us to find faults any where rather than in ourselves. He that reads and grows no wiser, seldom suspects his own deficiency; but complains of hard words and obscure sentences, and asks why books are written which cannot be understood.
Among the hard words which are no longer to be used, it has been long the custom to number terms of art. “Every man (says Swift) is more able to explain the subject of an art than its professors; a farmer will tell you, in two words, that he has broken his leg; but a surgeon, after a long discourse, shall leave you as ignorant as you were before.” This could only have been said by such an exact observer of life, in gratification of malignity, or in ostentation of acuteness. Every hour produces instances of the necessity of terms of art. Mankind could never conspire in uniform affectation; it is not but by necessity that every science and every trade has its peculiar language. They that content themselves with general ideas may rest in general terms; but those whose studies or employments force them upon closer inspection, must have names for particular parts, and words by which they may express various modes of combination, such as none but themselves have occasion to consider.
Artists are indeed sometimes ready to suppose that none can be strangers to words to which themselves are familiar; talk to an incidental inquirer as they talk to one another, and make their knowledge ridiculous by injudicious obtrusion. An art cannot be taught but by its proper terms; but it is not always necessary to teach the art.
That the vulgar express their thoughts clearly, is far from true; and what perspicuity can be found among them proceeds not from the easiness of their language, but the shallowness of their thoughts. He that sees a building as a common spectator, contents himself with relating that it is great or little, mean or splendid, lofty or low; all these words are intelligible and common, but they convey no distinct or limited ideas; if he attempts without the terms of architecture to delineate the parts or enumerate the ornaments, his narration at once becomes unintelligible. The terms, indeed, generally displease, because they are understood by few; but they are little understood only, because few that look upon an edifice examine its parts, or analyse its columns into their members.
The state of every other art is the same: as it is cursorily surveyed or accurately examined, different forms of expression become proper. In morality it is one thing to discuss the niceties of the casuist, and another to direct the practice of common life. In agriculture, he that instructs the farmer to plough and sow, may convey his notions without the words which he would find necessary in explaining to philosophers the process of vegetation; and if he who has nothing to do but to be honest by the shortest way, will perplex his mind with subtle speculations ; or if he, whose task is to reap and thresh, will not be contented without examining the evolution of the seed and circulation of the sap, the writers whom either shall consult are very little to be blamed, though it should sometimes happen that they are read in vain.
No. 71. SATURDAY, August 25, 1759.
DIOK SAIFTER was born in Cheapside, and, having passed reputably through all the classes of St. Paul's school, has been for some years, a student in the Temple. He is of opinion that intense application dulls the faculties; and thinks it necessary to temper the severity of the law by books that engage the mind, but do not fatigue it. He has therefore made a copious collection of plays, poems, and romances, to which he has recourse when he fancies himself tired with statutes and reports; and he seldom inquires very nicely whether he is weary or idle.
Dick has received from his favourite authors very strong impressions of a country life; and though his furthest excur. sions bave been to Greenwich on one side, and Chealsea on the other, he has talked for several years, with great pomp of language and elevation of sentiments, about a state too high for contempt and too low for envy, about homely quiet and blameless simplicity, pastoral delights, and rural innocence.
His friends who had estates in the country often invited him to pass the summer among them; but something or other had always hindered him: and he considered, that to reside in the house of another man, was to incur a kind of dependence, inconsistent with that laxity of life which he had imaged as the chief good.
This summer be resolved to be happy, and procured a lodg. ing to be taken for him at a solitary house, situated about thirty miles from London, on the banks of a small river, with corn fields before it, and a hill on each side, covered with wood. He concealed the place of his retirement, that none might violate his obscurity; and promised himself many a happy day when he should hide himself among the trees, and contemplate the tumults and vexations of the town.
He stepped into the post-chaise with his heart beating and his eyes sparkling, was conveyed through many varieties of delightful prospects, saw hills and meadows, corn-fields and pasture, succeed each other; and for four hours charged none of his poets with fiction or exaggeration. He was now within six miles of happiness, when having never felt so much agitation before, he began to wish his journey at an end; and the last hour was passed in changing his posture, and quarrelling with his driver.
An hour may be tedious, but cannot be long; he at length alighted at his new dwelling, and was received as he expected; he looked round upon the hills and rivulets, but his joints were stiff and his muscles sore; and his first request was to see his bed-chamber.
He rested well, and ascribed the soundness of his sleep to the stillness of the country. He expected from that time nothing but nights of quiet and days of rapture; and as soon as he had risen, wrote an account of his new state to one of his friends in the Temple.
DEAR Frank-“I never pitied thee before. I am now as I could wish every man of wisdom and virtue to be—in the regions of calm content and placid meditation ; with all the beauties of nature soliciting my notice, and all the diversities of pleasure courting my acceptance; the birds are chirping in the hedges, and the flowers blooming in the mead; the breeze is whistling in the wood, and the sun dancing on the water. I can now say with truth, that a man capable of enjoying the purity of happiness, is never more busy than in bis hours of leisure, nor ever less solitary than in a place of solitude.
I am, dear Frank, &c.”
When he had sent away his letter, he walked into the wood with some inconvenience, from the furze that pricked his legs, and the briars that scratched his face; he at last sat down under a tree, and heard with great delight a shower, by which he was not wet, rattling among the branches : This, said he, is the true image of obscurity: we hear of troubles and commotions, but never feel them.
His amusement did not overpower the calls of nature, and he therefore went back to order his dinner. He knew that the country produces whatever is eaten or drunk; and imagining that he was now at the source of luxury, resolved to indalge himself with danties which he supposed might be procured at a price next to nothing, if any price at all was expected ; and intended to amaze the rustics with his generosity, by paying more than they would ask. Of twenty dishes which he named, he was amazed to find that scarcely one was to be had ; and heard with astonishment and indignation, that all the fruits of the earth were sold at a higher price than in the streets of London.
His meal was short and sullen; and he retired again to his tree, to inquire how dearness could be consistent with abundance, or how fraud should be practised by simplicity. He was not satisfied with his own speculations; and returning home early in the evening, went a while from window to window, and found that he wanted something to do.
He inquired for a newspaper, and was told that farmers never minded news, but that they could send for it from the ale-house. A messenger was despatched, who ran away at full-speed, but loitered an hour behind the hedges ; and at last coming back with his feet purposely bemired, instead of expressing the gratitude which Mr. Shifter expected for the bounty of a shilling, said that the night was wet, and the way dirty, and he hoped that his worship would not think it much to give him half a crown.
Dick now went to bed with some abatement of his expectations; but sleep, I know not how, revives our hopes and rekindles our desires. He rose early in the morning, surveyed the landscape, and was pleased. He walked out and passed from field to field, without observing any beaten path; and wondered that he had not seen the shepherdesses dancing, nor heard the swains piping to their flocks.
At last he saw some reapers and harvest-women at dinner. Here, said he, are the true Arcadians, and advanced courteously towards them, as afraid of confusing them by the dignity of his presence. They acknowledged his superiority by no other token than that of asking him for something to drink. He imagined that he bad now purchased the privilege of discourse, and began to descend to familiar questions, endeavouring to accommodate his discourse to the grossness of rustic understandings. The clowns soon found that he did not know wheat from rye, and began to despise him. One of the boys, by pretending to show him a bird's nest decoyed him into a ditch ; and one of the wenches sold him a bargain.
This walk had given him no great pleasure; but he hoped to find other rustics less coarse of manners, and less mischievous of disposition. Next morning he was accosted by an attorney, who told him that, unless he made Farmer Dobson satisfaction for trampling his grass, he had orders to indict him. Shifter was offended, but not terrified; and telling the attorney that he was himself a lawyer, talked so volubly of pettifoggers and barraters, that he drove him away.
Finding his walks thus interrupted, he was inclined to ride ; and being pleased with the appearance of a horse that was grazing in a neighbouring meadow, inquired the owner; who warranted him sound, and would not sell him but that he was too fine for a plain man. Dick paid down the price, and riding out to enjoy the evening, fell with his new horse into a ditch ; they got out with difficulty, and as he was going to mount again, a countryman looked at the horse, and perceived him to be blind. Dick went to the seller, and demanded back his money ; but was told, that a man who rented his ground must do the best for himself ; that his landlord had his rent though the year was barren ; and that whether horses had eyes or no, he should sell them to the highest bidder.
Shifter now began to be tired with rustic simplicity ; and on the fifth day took possession again of his Chambers, and bade farewell to the regions of calm content and placid meditation.
No. 72. SATURDAY, September 1, 1759.
Men complain of nothing more frequently than of deficieni memory; and, indeed, every one finds that many of the ideas which he desired to retain have slipped irretrievably away; that the acquisitions of the mind are sometimes equally fugitive with the gifts of fortune; and that a short intermission of attention more certainly lessens knowledge than impairs an estate.
To assist this weakness of our nature many methods have been proposed; all which may be justly suspected of being ineffectual ; for no art of memory, however its effects have been boasted or admired, has been ever adopted into general use, nor have those who possessed it appeared to excel others in readiness of recollection or multiplicity of attainments.