« ZurückWeiter »
terrify the little fry of animals about them, and take their pastime as in an ocean, or the great deep. I could not but smile at this part of his relation, and told him, I doubted not but he could give me the history of several invisible giants, accompanied with their respective dwarfs, in case that any of these little beings are of an human shape. You may assure yourself (said he) that we see in these little animals different natures, instincts, and modes of life, which correspond to what you observe in creatures of bigger dimen
We descry millions of species subsisted on a green leaf, which your glasses represent only in crowds and swarms. What
appears to your eye but as hair or down rising on the surface of it, we find to be woods and forests, inhabited by beasts of prey, that are as dreadful in those their haunts, as lions and tigers in the deserts of Libya. I was much delighted with his discourse, and could not forbear telling him, that I should be wonderfully pleased to see a natural history of imperceptibles, containing a true account of such vegetables and animals as grow and live out of sight. Such disquisitions (answered he) are very suitable to reasonable creatures ; and you may be sure, there are many curious spirits amongst us who employ themselves in such amusements. For as our hands, and all our senses, may be formed to what degree of strength and delicacy we please, in the same manner as our sight, we can make what experiments we are inclined to, how small soever the matter be in which we make them. I have been present at the dissection of a mite, and have seen the skeleton of a flea. I have been shown a forest of numberless trees, which has been picked out of an acorn. Your microscope can show you in it a complete oak in miniature; and could you suit all your organs as we do, you might pluck an acórn from this little oak, which contains another tree; and so proceed from tree to tree, as long as you would think fit to continue your disquisitions. It is almost impossible (added he) to talk of things so remote from common life, and the ordinary notions which mankind receive from blunt and gross organs of sense, without appearing extravagant and ridiculous. You have often seen a dog opened, to observe the circulation
Subsisted.] Subsist has no participle passive. He should have said “subsisting.”
? I wonder that a man of Mr. Addison's humanity, could speak of opere
of the blood, or make any other useful inquiry; and yet would be tempted to laugh if I should tell you,
that a circle of much greater philosophers than any of the Royal Society, were present at the cutting up of one of those little animals which we find in the blue of a plum; that it was tied down alive before them; and that they observed the palpitations
l of the heart, the course of the blood, the working of the muscles, and the convulsions in the several limbs, with great accuracy and improvement. I must confess, (said I,) for my own part, I go along with you
discoveries with great pleasure; but it is certain, they are too fine for the gross of mankind, who are more struck with the description of everything that is great and bulky. Accordingly we find the best judge of human nature setting forth his wisdom, not in the formation of these minute animals, (though indeed no less wonderful than the other,) but in that of the Leviathan and Behemoth, the Horse and the Crocodile. Your observation (said he) is very just; and I must acknowledge, for my own part, that although it is with much delight that I see the traces of Providence in these instances, I still take greater pleasure in considering the works of the creation in their immensity, than in their minuteness. For this reason, I rejoice when I strengthen my sight so as to make it pierce into the most remote spaces, and take a view of those heavenly bodies which lie out of the reach of human eyes, though assisted by telescopes. What you look upon as one confused white in the milky-way, appears to me a long tract of heavens, distinguished by stars that are ranged in proper figures and constellations. While you are admiring the sky in a starry night, I am entertained with a variety of worlds and suns placed one above another, and rising up to such an immense distance, that no created eye can see an end of them.
The latter part of his discourse flung me into such an astonishment, that he had been silent for some time before I took notice of it; when on a sudden I started up and drew my curtains, to look if any one was near me, but saw nobody, and cannot tell, to this moment, whether it was my good genius or a dream that left me.
ing a dog, with so much unconcern; or think it justifiable on the pretence, of making a useful discovery.
No. 120. SATURDAY, JANUARY 14, 1709.
Velut silvis, ubi passim
Sheer Lane, January 13. INSTEAD of considering any particular passion or character in any one set of men, my thoughts were last night employed on the contemplation of human life in general; and truly it appears to me, that the whole species are hurried on by the same desires, and engaged in the same pursuits, according to the different stages and divisions of life. Youth is devoted to lust, middle age to ambition, old age to avarice. These are the three general motives and principles of action both in good and bad men; though it must be acknowledged that they change their names, and refine their natures, according to the temper of the person whom they direct and animate. For with the good, lust becomes virtuous love ; ambition, true honour; and avarice, the care of posterity. This scheme of thought amused me very agreeably till I retired to rest, and afterwards formed itself into a pleasing and regular vision,' which I shall describe in all its circumstances, as the objects presented themselves, whether in a serious or ridiculous manner.
I dreamed that I was in a wood, of so prodigious an extent, and cut into such a variety of walks and alleys, that all mankind were lost and bewildered in it. After having wandered up and down some time, I came into the centre of it, which
Mr. Addison's serious papers on human life, have not, in general, the merit of his humorous. Even his style, on these occasions, (his genius not lying towards abstract or formal discourse,) hath a languor in it, which all the graces of his polished manner cannot conceal. But when he throws himself out in dreams and visions, the case is much otherwise. For his poetic invention supplies him with many apt resemblances ; and his magic style (fired by the subject, and the writer's love of it) is then so bright and glowing, that Plato himself is but second to him in this province of moral allegory. His genius may be compared to the spirit in Milton's Mask. When clad in this earth-worn mould, I mean, in the hackneyed form of dissertation, one may take him for an ordinary swain or villager : but when he sports at ease, in his own element, and, as the poet says, “plays ith' plighted clouds," the reader is awe-struck, and easily recognises his divine original.
opened into a wide plain, filled with multitudes of both sexes. I here discovered three great roads, very wide and long, that led into three different parts of the forest. On a sudden, the whole multitude broke into three parts, according to their different ages, and marched in their respective bodies into the three great roads that lay before them. As I had a mind to know how each of these roads terminated, and whither it would lead those who passed through them, I joined myself with the assembly that were in the flower and vigour of their age, and called themselves “The Band of Lovers.” I found, to my great surprise, that several old men besides myself had intruded into this agreeable company; as I had before observed, there were some young men who had united themselves to the band of misers, and were walking up the path of Avarice; though both made a very ridiculous figure, and were as much laughed at by those they joined as by those they forsook. The walk which we marched up, for thickness of shades, embroidery of flowers, and melody of birds, with the distant purling of streams, and falls of water, was so wonderfully delightful, that it charmed our senses, and intoxicated our minds with pleasure. We had not been long here, before every man singled out some woman to whom he offered his addresses, and professed himself a lover; when on a sudden we perceived this delicious walk to grow more narrow as we advanced in it, till it ended in
in. tricate thickets, mazes, and labyrinths, that were so mixed with roses and brambles, brakes of thorns and beds of flowers, rocky paths and pleasing grottoes, that it was hard to say, whether it gave greater delight or perplexity to those who travelled in it.
It was here that the lovers began to be eager suits. Some of their mistresses, who only seemed to retire for the sake of form and decency, led them into plantations that were disposed into regular walks ; where, after they had wheeled about in some turns and windings, they suffered themselves to be overtaken, and gave their hands to those who pursued them. Others withdrew from their followers into little wildernesses, where there were so many paths interwoven with each other, in so much confusion and irregularity, that several of the lovers quitted the pursuit, or broke their hearts in the chase. It was sometimes very odd to see a man pursuing a fine woman that was following
in their pur
another, whose eye was fixed upon a fourth, that had her own game in view in some other quarter of the wilderness. I could not but observe two things in this place which I thought very particular, that several persons who stood only at the end of the avenues, and cast a careless eye upon the nymphs during their whole flight, often catched them, when those who pressed them the most warmly through all their turns and doubles, were wholly unsuccessful: and that some of my own age, who were at first looked upon with aversion and contempt, by being well acquainted with the wilderness, and by dodging their women in the particular corners and alleys of it, catched them in their arms, and took them from those whom they really loved and admired. There was a particular grove, which was called “The Labyrinth of Coquettes ;” where many were enticed to the chase, but few returned with purchase. It was pleasant enough to see a celebrated beauty, by smiling upon one, casting a glance upon another, beckoning to a third, and adapting her charms and graces to the several follies of those that admired her, drawing into the labyrinth a whole pack of lovers, that lost themselves in the maze, and never could find their way out of it. However, it was some satisfaction to me, to see many of the fair ones, who had thus deluded their followers, and left them among the intricacies of the labyrinth, obliged, when they came out of it, to surrender to the first partner that offered himself. I now had crossed over all the difficult and perplexed passages that seemed to bound our walk, when on the other side of them, I saw the same great road running on a little way, till it was terminated by two beautiful temples. I stood here for some time, and saw most of the multitude who had been dispersed amongst the thickets, coming out two by two, and marching up in pairs towards the temples that stood before us. The structure on the right hand was (as I afterwards found) consecrated to Virtuous Love, and could not be entered but by such as received a ring, or some other token, from a person who was placed as a guard at the gate of it. He wore a garland of roses and myrtles on his head, and on his shoulders a robe like an imperial mantle, white and unspotted all over, excepting only, that where it was clasped at his breast, there were two golden turtle doves that buttoned it by their bills, which were wrought in rubies. He was called by the name of Hymen,