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glories, and presented me with such an hemisphere of stars, as made the most agreeable prospect imaginable to one who delights in the study of nature. It happened to be a freezing night, which had purified the whole body of air into such a bright transparent ether, as made every constellation visible; and at the same time gave such a particular glowing to the stars, that I thought it the richest sky I had ever seen. I could not behold a scene so wonderfully adorned and lighted up, (if I may be allowed the expression) without suitable meditations on the Author of such illustrious and amazing objects: for, on these occasions, philosophy suggests motives to religion, and religion adds pleasure to philosophy.
As soon as I had recovered my usual temper and serenity of soul, I retired to my lodgings, with the satisfaction of having passed away a few hours in the proper employments of a reasonable creature; and promising myself that my slumbers should be sweet, I no sooner fell into them, but I dreamed a dream, or saw a vision, (for I know not which to call it) that seemed to rise out of my evening meditation, and had something in it so solemn and serious, that I cannot forbear communicating it; though I must confess the wildness of imagination (which in a dream is always loose and irregular) discovers itself in several parts of it.
Methought I saw the same azure sky diversified with the same glorious luminaries which had entertained me a little before I fell asleep. I was looking very attentively on that sign in the heavens which is called by the name of the Balance, when on a sudden there appeared in it an extraordinary light, as if the sun should rise at midnight. By its increasing in breadth and lustre, I soon found that it approached towards the earth; and at length could discern something like a shadow hovering in the midst of a great glory, which in a little time after I distinctly perceived to be the figure of a woman. I fancied at first it might be the Angel, or Intelligence that guided the constellation from which it descended; but upon a nearer view, I saw about her all the emblem with which the goddess of Justice is usually described.
Her countenance was unspeakably awful and majestic, but exquisitely beautiful to those whose eyes were strong enough to behold it; her smiles transported with rapture, her frowns terrified to despair. She held in her hand a mirror, endowed with the same qualities as that which the painters put into the hand of Truth.
There streamed from it a light, which distinguished itself from all the splendours that surrounded her, more than a flash of lightning shines in the midst of day-light. As she moved it in her hand, it brightened the heavens, the air, or the earth. When she had descended so low as to be seen and heard by mortals, to make the pomp of her appearance more supportable, she threw darkness and clouds about her, that tempered the light into a thousand beautiful shades and colours, and multiplied that lustre, which was before too strong and dazzling, into a variety of milder glories.
In the mean time, the world was in an alarm, and all the inhabitants of it gathered together upon a spacious plain; so that I seemed to have the whole species before my eyes. A voice was heard from the clouds, declaring the intention of this visit, which was to restore and appropriate to every one living what was his due. The fear and hope, joy and sorrow, which appeared in that great assembly after this solemn declaration, are not to be expressed. Tatler.
22.-Youth and Old Age.
AGE, in a virtuous person, carries in it an authority which makes it preferable to all the pleasures of youth. If to be saluted, attended, and consulted with deference, are instances of pleasure, they are such as never fail a virtuous old age. In the enumeration of the imperfections and advantages of the younger and later years of man, they are so near in their condition, that, methinks, it should be incredible we see so little commerce of kindness between them. If we consider youth and age with Tully, regarding the affinity to death, youth has many more chances to be near it than age: what youth can say more than an old man," He shall live till night ?"
Youth catches distempers more easily, its sickness is more violent, and its recovery more doubtful. The youth, indeed, hopes for many more days, so cannot the old man. The youth's hopes are ill-grounded: for what is more foolish than to place any confidence upon an uncertainty? but the old man has not room so much as for hope; he is still happier than the youth, he has already enjoyed what the other does but hope for: one wishes to live long, the other has lived long. But, alas! is there any thing in human life, the duration of which can be called long? There is nothing which must end to be valued for its continuance. If hours, days, months, and years, pass away, it is no matter what hour, what day, what month, or what year, we die. The applause of a good actor is due to him at whatever scene of the play he makes his exit. It is thus in the life of a man of sense, a short life is sufficient to manifest himself a man of honour and virtue; when he ceases to be such, he has lived too long, and while he is such, it is of no consequence to him how long he shall be so, provided he is so to his life's end. Spectator.
23.-The Poor weep unheeded.
No observation is more common, and at the same time more true, than, That one half of the world are ignorant how the other half lives. The misfortunes of the great are held up to engage our attention; are enlarged upon in tones of declamation; and the world is called upon to gaze at the noble sufferers: the great, under the pressure of calamity, are conscious of several others sympathizing with their distress; and have, at once, the comfort of admiration and pity.
There is nothing magnanimous in bearing misfortunes with fortitude, when the whole world is looking on; men in such circumstances will act bravely, even from motives of vanity; but he who, in the vale of obscurity, can brave adversity; who, without friends to encourage, acquaintances to pity, or even without hope to alleviate his misfortunes, can behave with tranquillity and indif ference, is truly great; whether peasant or courtier, he
deserves admiration, and should be held up for our imitation and respect.
While the slightest inconveniencies of the great are magnified into calamities; while tragedy mouths out their sufferings in all the strains of eloquence; the miseries of the poor are entirely disregarded; and yet some of the lower ranks of people undergo more real hardships in one day than those of a more exalted station suffer in their whole lives. It is inconceivable what difficulties the meanest of our common sailors and soldiers endure without murmuring or regret; without passionately declaiming against Providence, or calling their fellows to be gazers on their intrepidity. Every day is to them a day of misery, and yet they entertain their hard fate without repining.
With what indignation do I hear an Ovid, a Cicero, or a Rabutin, complain of their misfortunes and hardships, whose greatest calamity was that of being unable to visit a certain spot of earth, to which they had foolishly attached an idea of happiness! Their distresses were pleasures, compared to what many of the adventuring poor every day endure without murmuring. They ate, drank, and slept; they had slaves to attend them ; and were sure of subsistence for life: while many of their fellow-creatures are obliged to wander without a friend to comfort or assist them, and even without shelter from the severity of the season. Goldsmith.
24.-The Story of a disabled Soldier.
I was born in Shropshire; my father was a labourer, and died when I was five years old; so I was put upon the parish. As he had been a wandering sort of a man, the parishioners were not able to tell to what parish I belonged, or where I was born; so they sent me to another parish, and that parish sent me to a third. I thought in my heart, they kept sending me about so long, that they would not let me be born in any parish at all; but at last, however, they fixed me. I had some disposition to be a scholar, and was resolved, at least, to know my letters; but the master of the workhouse put
me to business as soon as I was able to handle a mallet; and here I lived an easy kind of life for five years.TM I only wrought ten hours in the day, and had my meat and drink provided for my labour. It is true, I was not suffered to stir out of the house, for fear, as they` said, I should run away; but what of that? I had the liberty of the whole house, and the yard before the door, and that was enough for me. I was then bound out to a farmer, where I was up both early and late; but I ate and drank well, and liked my business well enough, till he died, when I was obliged to provide for myself; so I was resolved to go seek my fortune.
In this manner I went from town to town, worked when I could get employment, and starved when I could get none: when happening one day to go through a field belonging to a justice of peace, I spied a hare crossing the path just before me; I flung my stick at it :—well, what will you have on't? I killed the hare, and was bringing it away, when the justice himself met me: he called me a poacher and a villain; and, collaring me, desired I would give an account of myself. I fell upon my knees, begged his worship's pardon, and began to give a full account of all that I knew of my history; but, though I gave a very true account, the justice said I could give no account; so I was indicted at sessions, found guilty of being poor, and sent up to London to Newgate, in order to be transported as a vagabond.
People may say this and that of being in jail, but, for my part, I found Newgate as agreeable a place as ever I was in in all my life. I had plenty to eat and drink, and did no work at all. This kind of life was too good to last for ever; so I was taken out of prison, after five months, put on board a ship, and sent off, with two hundred more, to the plantations. We had but an indif ferent passage, for, being all confined in the hold, more than a hundred of our people died for want of sweet air; and those that remained were sickly enough. When we came ashore, we were sold to the planters, and I was bound for seven years more. As I was no scholar, for I did not know my letters, I was obliged to work