« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
written, In the dialect of men,' and underneath it, 'CALAMITIES;' on the other side was written, 'In the language of the gods,' and underneath, BLESSINGS.' I found the intrinsic value of this weight to be much greater than I imagined, for it over-powered health, wealth, good-fortune, and many other weights, which were much more ponderous in my hand than the other.
There is a saying among the Scotch, that an ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy;" I was sensible of the truth of this saying, when I saw the difference between the weight of natural parts and that of learning. The observation which I made upon these two weights opened to me a new field of discoveries, for notwithstanding the weight of natural parts was much heavier than that of learning; I observed that it weighed an hundred times heavier than it did before, when I put learning into the same scale with it. I made the same observation upon faith and morality;? for notwithstanding the latter outweighed the former separately, it received a thousand times more additional weight from its conjunction with the former, than what it had by itself. This odd phænomenon shewed itself in other particulars, as in wit and judgment, philosophy and religion, justice and humanity, zeal and charity, depth of sense and perspicuity of style," with innumerable other particulars, too long to be mentioned in this paper.
As a dream seldom fails of dashing seriousness with impertinence, mirth with gravity, methought I made several other ex
* See Beattie, on the Nature, &c., of Truth, ch. i. p. 45, second ed., 1771.-C.
* Spect. No. 459.
Depth of sense and perspicuity of style. One would think, the author, if his modesty were not so well known, had meant to pay himself a compliment, on the merit of these papers; in which the sense is, generally, excellent, that is, deep; though the perspicuity of his style, like a clear medium, brings it up to the eye, and tempts an ordinary observer to look apon it as shallow and superficial.-H.
periments of a more ludicrous nature, by one of which I found that an English octavo was very often heavier than a French folio; and by another, that an old Greek or Latin author weighed down a whole library of moderns. Seeing one of my Spectators lying by me, I laid it into one of the scales, and flung a twopenny piece into the other. The reader will not inquire into the event, if he remembers the first trial which I have recorded in this paper.
I afterwards threw both the sexes into the balance; but as it is not for my interest to disoblige either of them, I shall desire to be excused from telling the result of this experiment. Having an opportunity of this nature in my hands, I could not forbear throwing into one scale the principles of a tory, and in the other those of a whig; but as I have all along declared this to be a neutral paper, I shall likewise desire to be silent under this head also, though upon examining one of the weights, I saw the word TEKEL engraven on it in capital letters.
I made many other experiments, and though I have not room for them all in this day's speculation, I may perhaps reserve them for another. I shall only add, that upon my awaking I was sorry to find my golden scales vanished, but resolved for the future to learn this lesson from them, not to despise or value any things for their appearances, but to regulate my esteem and passions towards them according to their real and intrinsic value.
No. 464. FRIDAY, AUGUST 22.
Auream quisiquis mediocritatem
HOR, 2 Od. x. .
I am wonderfully pleased when I meet with any passage in an old Greek or Latin author, that is not blown upon," and which I have never met with in any quotation. Of this kind is a beautiful saying in Theognis ; Vice is covered by wealth, and virtue by poverty ; ' or to give it in the verbal translation, Among men there are some who have their vices concealed by wealth, and others who have their virtues concealed by poverty.' Every man's observation will supply him with instances of rich men, who have several faults and defects that are overlooked, if not entirely hidden, by means of their riches; and, I think, we cannot find a more natural description of a poor man, whose merits are lost in his poverty, than that in the words of the wise man.
There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he, by his wisdom, delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.
Then said I, wisdom is better than strength; nevertheless, the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.'
• Blown upon. A metaphor from flowers, which, being breathed and blown upon, lose at once their fragrance and lustre. It is prettily applied here to a beautiful saying (which is a flower of discourse) flattened and tarnished by the public broath, i. e. fregʻient quotation.-H.
The middle condition seems to be the most advantageously situated for the gaining of wisdom. Poverty turns our thoughts too much upon the supplying of our wants, and riches upon enjoying our superfluities; and, as Cowley has said in another case, • It is hard for a man to keep a steady eye upon truth, who is always in a battle or a triumph.'
If we regard poverty and wealth, as they are apt to produce virtues or vices in the mind of man, one may observe, that there is a set of each of these growing out of poverty, quite different from that which rises out of wealth. Humility and patience, industry and temperance, are often the good qualities of a poor man. Humanity and good-nature, magnanimity, and a sense of honour, are as often the qualifications of the rich.
On the contrary, poverty is apt to betray a man into envy, riches into arrogance. Poverty is too often attended with fraud, vicious compliance, repining, murmur, and discontent. Riches exposes a man to pride and luxury, a foolish elation of heart, and too great a fondness for the present world. In short, the middle condition is most eligible to the man who would improve himself in virtue; as I have before shown, it is the most advantageous for the gaining of knowledge. It was upon this consideration that Agur founded his prayer, which for the wisdom of it is recorded in holy writ. 'Two things have I required of thee, deny me them not before I die. Remove far from me vanity and lies ; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient
Lest I be full and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord ? or lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
I shall fill the remaining part of my paper with a very pretty allegory, which is wrought into a play by Aristophanes the Greek comedian. It seems originally designed as a satire upon the rich, though, in some parts of it, it is like the foregoing discourse, a kind of comparison between wealth and poverty.
Chremylus, who was an old and a good man, and withal exceeding poor, being desirous to leave some riches to his son, consults the oracle of Apollo upon the subject. The oracle bids him follow the first man he should see upon his going out of the temple. The
he chances to see was to appearance an old sordid blind man, but upon his following him from place to place, he at last found by his own confession, that he was Plutus the god of riches, and that he was just come out of the house of a miser. Plutus further told him, that when he was a boy he used to declare, that as soon as he came to age, he would distribute wealth to none but virtuous and just men; upon which Jupiter, considering the pernicious consequences of such a resolution, took his sight away from him, and left him to stroll about the world in the blind condition wherein Chremylus beheld him. With much ado Chremylus prevailed upon him to go to his house, where he met an old woman in a tattered raiment, who had been his guest for many years, and whose name was Poverty. The old woman refusing to turn out so easily as he would have her, he threatened to banish her not only from his own house, but out of all Greece, if she made any more wor upon the matter. Poverty on this occasion pleads her cause very notably, and represents to her old landlord, that should she be driven out of the country, all their trades, arts, and sciences, would be driven out with her ; and that if every one was rich, they would never be supplied with these pomps, ornaments, and conveniencies of life which made riches desirable. She likewise represented to him the several advantages which she bestowed upon her votaries, in regard to their shape, their health, and their activity, by preserving them from gouts, dropsies, unwieldiness, and intemperance. But whatever she had to say for herself, she was at last forced to troop off. Chremylus immediately considered how he might restore Plutus to his sight; and in order to it conveyed him to the temple of