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RANELAGH.-Lady Catherine Jones, daughter to the late Earl of Ranelagh, died 14th April, 1740. "Her house and gardens at Chelsea were purchased by a set of undertakers, who erected the famous amphitheatre, which, with the embellishments bestowed on it and the garden, has rendered it the seat of pleasure, frequented by all the gay and voluptuous in the summer season.'
DUCHESS OF BUCKINGHAMSHIRE.-This lady (natural daughter to King James II.) on her death bed, expressed a strong curiosity to know, whether some regard would not be paid to her quality in the other world; and being told, by a worthy divine, that where she was going there was no acceptance of persons, she replied, Well ! if it be so, this Heaven, after all, is a strange place!
LONGEVITY. In the year 1740, two pictures of Centenarians were brought to the King of France at Compeigne. The first contained John Rovin, aged 174, and Sarah Dessen, his wife, aged 164, natives of the Bannat of Tunirwax; where they were then living. They had been married 147 years, and had two sons and a daughter living, their youngest son was 116, and had two grandsons alive, one 35, and the other 33. The second picture represented Peter Zorten, a peasant of the same country, who died January 25th, 1724, aged 183.
SINGULARITIES.-There was an old woman about Arbeus, who drunk three drams of cicuta without hurt. Lysis, without hurt, took four drams of poppy; and Demophon, who was gentlemansewer to Alexander, was very cold when he stood in the sun, or in a hot bath, but very hot when he stood in the shade. Athenagoras felt no pain if a scorpion stung him. And the Psilli (a people in Lybia, whose bodies are venom to serpents) if they be stung by serpents or asps, receive no hurt at all. The Ethiopians, who inhabit the river Hydaspis, eat serpents and scorpions without danger. Lothericus, of Chysurgion, at the smell of a sturgeon, would be for the time mad. Andron, of Argos, was so little thirsty, that without want of drink, he travelled through the hot and dry country of Lybia. Tiberius Cæsar could see very well in the dark. And Aristotle mentioneth of Thratius, who said, that the image of a man went always before him.
In the earliest ages of mankind, after that universal deluge that, for their impiety and wickedness, depopulated the world, ere man again began to multiply, and re-people the earth, lived a hag, ugly and deformed, whom justly to describe has exhausted the powers of language and of art in vain. Her name was Envy. She was immortal, and had retired, from her infernal mansion, to the first spot that the falling waters had uncovered, to exult over the part she had borne in the depravity of man, and brood fresh mischiefs, to embitter the happiness of the rising generation.
Scarce had her cankerous eye wandered over the desolated waste, ere she was joined by a demon whose countenance was yet more hideous than her own. He was called Malignity. They were nearly related, and their dispositions were similar: both were actuated by the same spirit of destruction; their principles were the same, but exerted with different degrees of malevolence. Of the two, Malignity was the most vindictive and cruel; for, not satisfied in depriving his victims of reputation, fame, and fortune, he would pursue them to the very grave whereas Envy, when she had sullied, with her breath, those acquirements or good qualities which first excited her jealousy, would abandon them to struggle through life, with yet the means of being not truly miserable. The poor and lowly, too, in general escaped her persecutions: but to Malignity all were prey; no matter how fallen; if his basilisk's eye once marked them for destruction, he would never cease his pursuit till he had accomplished his purpose; and so poisonous was his rancorous heart, that the tomb itself proved no antidote against it: he would, even after death, vomit forth his invidious spite to the insulted ear of Posterity.
The place where they met was near the summit of a bleak and solitary mountain. On every side were projecting precipices, and unfathomable depths. The reverberated roar of falling waters, dashing amongst tremendous fragments of rock, were the only sounds that struck the ear; and the scenes that met the eye were no less terrific, being awful emblems of that dreadful punishment mankind had brought upon themselves by their incorrigible vices ;-it was wide-extended desolation, barrenness, and horror! Near where they stood was a deep cave, of impenetrable darkness, where the most noxious reptiles, that had been preserved from the general destruction, had taken refuge. Here they took up their abode, till
the time should arrive when their pestiferous breath should again be let loose, to blast the happiness of the children of the earth.
In this" murky den," fit only for the reception of its infernal inhabitants, they bound that connexion, which their mutual dispositions had at first imposed, by the strongest ties. In process of time, a son and a daughter were the fruits of this union. The son they called Hatred, the daughter Slander, and they determined to educate them in their own principles, and in such a manner as to make them useful and subservient to their future operations, when they emerged from their loathsome habitation into the open world.
As they grew up, it was discovered that Hatred possessed. with the native spleen and discontent of his mother, all the vindictive ferocity of his father; but, to their infinite mortification, they found him untractable and headstrong. Peevish and morose, he would crawl into the darkest corner of the cave, and growl out his yet infant passions. At times he would start into the most extravagant fits of frenzy, and commit the most shocking absurdities. As he got older, these paroxysms of madness increased to such a height, as to cause Malignity himself to be terrified at his violence and brutality. Though he imbibed, by nature, the mixed qualities of both his parents, yet it was with the utmost difficulty he could be taught to confine or manage them to the slow workings of their designs; he either vented them in the sullen murmurs of contempt, or in loud bursts of frantic ungovernable rage. Slander, on the contrary, was every thing they could wish, and on her they bestowed the most watchful care and attention. Her person was naturally ugly, but she could conceal her deformity when she pleased, with an air at once graceful and dignified. Her features were strong and expressive; but, with a little inspection, you might discover the crafty leer of the mother's eye, and, upon her forehead, the scowling frown of her father's rancour: yet she could occasionally dress her countenance in the bewitching smiles of truth and innocence, and counterfeit the honest front of Benevolence, Pity, and Esteem. She was docility itself. Her mother's maxims of deceit and hypocrisy she drew in with her milk; and her father's lessons on misrepresentation, falshood, reviling, and backbiting, she learnt with astonishing celerity. In short, such was the progress of the improvement she made in her education, that they were overjoyed at their success, and promised themselves the highest gratification from her influence and as sistance. They were now impatient once more to enter the world, and deal out renewed miseries to mankind, and reap the fruits of those labours they had bestowed upon the cultivation of their darJing child.
Such were the courteous demeanour and acquirements of Slander, that in time her brother Hatred began to relax a little from his austerity, and court her society; and he so far improved the ruggedness of his nature, by her instructions, as to be able to suppress his impetuosity upon common occasions, which gave Envy and Malignity great hopes that he would hereafter contribute much to the general gratification of the family.
In the mean while the face of the earth had assumed a smiling and cheerful aspect. Nature was once more decorated in her gayest habiliments, and dispensed her richest gifts with liberal profusion. Man again multiplied, and cultivated her acquaintance; partook of her choicest treasures, and was grateful of her bounty. For him the earth became fruitful; the teeming cattle were his subjects; and rewarded him largely for his protection; the woods' melodious songsters were his recreation, and the clear waters yielded him refreshment and pleasure. No burthensome cares pressed upon his heart, nor interrupted his domestic joys. His own little circle afforded him content-afforded him happiness. Society was regulated by simple rules; the weak were succoured by the strong; the less sensible were content to be guided by those of stronger minds; and the uninformed to gather instruction from the experienced and knowing. All were happy because all were good. The common and unavoidable termination of life was meliorated by religion, and universal benevolence obliterated partial misfortune.
Such was the state of man when these demoniacks issued from the cave, and clouded the face of day by their appearance. Nature herself shuddered at the sight; contending elements shook the atmosphere; the cataracts roared with aggravated hoarseness; and the mountain trembled beneath them as they descended. A hellish smile of satisfaction sat upon their features, and the glance that shot from their venomous eyes, seemed to say, now mortals are your miseries about to begin.
They had agreed to travel in company, that they might disseminate their principles with more efficacy; but after a little experience they altered their plan, and Envy, Malignity and Hatred occasionally separated, and pursued their own objects. Slander however was ever ready to aid them all, and never divided from one or other of them for they found her so eminently useful, that she was scarcely ever unemployed, and, by continual practice, the habit of a neverfailing attention grew upon her; and she observed her task with such a diligent watchfulness, that she was never known for a moment to relax, or be incapable of fulfilling the duties they imposed upon her. With such an able and vigilant assistant, it requires no credulity to admit the rapid progress of their pernicious influence, and the con
sequent decline of the happiness of mankind. At first, indeed, such was the native beauty and purity of the human mind, that it shrunk involuntarily from the unnatural dictates which Envy first endeavoured to impress upon it. Slander, however, by her sly insinuations, and the subtilty of her flattery, by degrees reconciled it to the new sensation. The first difficulty overcome, the rest became easy': the united powers of Envy and her colleagues soon reduced the exalted nature of man to the lowest degradation of vice and folly; a thousand corroding passions were engendered in his heart, and the world appeared to be making hasty approaches to that state of depravity which had already called for and merited the divine wrath.
That universal desire of communicating happiness and dispensing blessings in well directed proportions, that had hitherto pervaded the human race, now began to contract itself into partial gratification and selfish enjoyment. Those who, by their good fortune or talents, procured the largest share, were objects for the rest to exercise their artifices upon. Merit of every description became prostituted in the invidious efforts for superiority, and the most brilliant qualities of the mind were sullied and obscured by detraction and calumny. The weak and foolish became jealous, rancorous, and revengeful, and the knowing and strong avaricious, proud, and vindictive.
As mankind increased, a wider scope was given to Envy and her followers. They were ever at hand, and indefatigable in their pursuits. Their power and influence increased daily. Man no longer beheld his brother man's prosperity but with a jaundiced eye. Envy infuses a rankling poison in his heart, that is the source of increasing torments; Malignity urges him on to the nost flagrant injustice and barbarity; and Hatred gives the spur to his roused passions, and drives him to deeds of the blackest horror and despair; while Slander, the primary instigator of these accumulated miseries, under the thick veil of hypocrisy, exults in her success, and prowls the world for fresh prey, to gratify the insatiate cruelty of her mother Envy, and her merciless family.
Amidst this general disease of the human mind, there are not wanting, however, some few instances of those who have escaped the contagion. Wherever such are formed, be assured they are of peculiar mild dispositions, and placed in humble stations. If they possess fortune and abilities, they are accompanied by consummate modesty, or hid in unambitious retirement. Such are generally doomed to pass their lives in obscurity, and seldom to mix in the busy scenes of life. They enjoy their time in peace and quietness, unruffled by the jarring contentions of the world, and acquire an equanimity of mind that more than recompences them for any thing