صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

the body, muft perpetually exhibit the fame appearances; and though by the continued industry of fucceffive inquirers, new movements will be from time to time difcovered, they can affect only the minuter parts, and are commonly of more curiosity than importance.

It will now be natural to inquire, by what arts are the writers of the present and future ages to attract the notice and favour of mankind. They are to obferve the alterations which time is always making in the modes of life, that they may gratify every generation with a picture of themselves. Thus love is uniform, but courtship is perpetually varying: the different arts of gallantry, which beauty has infpired, would of themselves be fufficient to fill a volume; fometimes balls and ferenades, fometimes tournaments and adventures, have been employed to melt the hearts of ladies, who in another century have been sensible of scarce any other merit than that of riches, and liftened only to jointures and pin-money. Thus the ambitious man has at all times been eager of wealth and power; but thefe hopes have been gratified in fome countries by fupplicating the people, and in others by flattering the prince: honour in fome ftates has been only the reward of military atchievements, in others it has been gained by noisy turbulence and popular clamours. Avarice has worn a different form, as fhe actuated the ufurer of Rome, and the stockjobber of England; and idlenefs itself, how little foever inclined to the trouble of invention, has been forced from time to time to change its amuseVOL. IX. G ments,

ments, and contrive different methods of wearing out the day.

Here then is the fund, from which thofe who ftudy mankind may fill their compofitions with an inexhauftible variety of images and allufions: and he must be confeffed to look with little attention upon fcenes thus perpetually changing, who cannot catch fome of the figures before they are made vulgar by reiterated defcriptions.

It has been difcovered by Sir Isaac Newton, that the diftinct and primogenial colours are only feven; but every eye can witnefs, that from various mixtures, in various proportions, infinite diverfifications of tints may be produced. In like manner, the paffions of the mind, which put the world in motion, and produce all the buftle and eagerness of the buly crowds that fwarm upon the earth; the paffions, from whence arife all the pleafures and pains that we fee and hear of, if we analyfe the mind of man, are very few; but thofe few agitated and combined, as external caufes fhall happen to operate, and modified by prevailing opinions and accidental caprices, make fuch frequent alterations on the furface of life, that the fhow, while we are bufied in delineating it, vanifhes from the view, and a new fet of objects fucceed, doomed to the fame fhortnefs of duration with the former: thus curiofity may always find employment, and the bufy part of mankind will furnish the contemplative with the materials of fpeculation to the end of time.

The complaint, therefore, that all topicks aré preoccupied, is nothing more than the murmur of



ignorance or idleness, by which fome difcourage others and fome themfelves: the mutability of mankind will always furnish writers with new images, and the luxuriance of fancy may always embellish them with new decorations.

NUMB. 99. TUESDAY, October 16, 1753.

Magnis tamen excidit aufis.

But in the glorious enterprize he dy❜d.




T has always been the practice of mankind, to judge of actions by the event. The fame attempts, conducted in the fame manner, but terminated by different fuccefs, produce different judgments they who attain their wishes, never want celebrators of their wisdom and their virtue; and they that mifcarry, are quickly discovered to have been defective not only in mental but in moral qualities. The world will never be long without some good reafon to hate the unhappy: their real faults are immediately detected; and if thofe are not fufficient to fink them into infamy, an additional weight of calumny will be fuperadded: he that fails in his endeavours after wealth or power, will not long retain either honefty or courage.

This fpecies of injuftice has fo long prevailed in universal practice, that it feems likewise to have inG 2 fected

fected fpeculation: fo few minds are able to feparate the ideas of greatnefs and profperity, that even Sir William Temple has determined, "that he who can "deferve the name of a hero, muft not only be vir"tuous but fortunate."

By this unreasonable diftribution of praife and blame, none have fuffered oftner than projectors, whofe rapidity of imagination and vaftnefs of defign raife fuch envy in their fellow-mortals, that every eye watches for their fall, and every. heart. exults at their diflreffes: yet even a projector may gain favour by fuccefs; and the tongue that was prepared to hifs, then endeavours to excel others in loudnefs of applause.

When Coriolanus, in Shakespeare, deferted to Aufidius, the Volfcian fervants at first infulted him, even while he flood under the protection of the household gods, but when they faw that the project took effect, and the ftranger was feated at the head of the table, one of them very judiciously observes, "that he always thought there was more in him "than he could think."

Machiavel has juftly animadverted on the different notice taken by all fucceeding times, of the two great projectors Catiline and Cafar. Both formed the fame project, and intended to raise themfelves to power, by fubverting the commonwealth: they pursued their defign, perhaps, with equal abilities, and with equal virtue; but Catiline perished in the field, and Cafar returned from PharJalia with unlimited authority: and from that time, every monarch of the earth has thought himself honoured by a comparifon with Cafar; and Cati

line has been never mentioned, but that his name might be applied to traitors and incendiaries.

In an age more remote, Xerxes projected the conquest of Greece, and brought down the power of Afia against it: but after the world had been filled with expectation and terror, his army was beaten, his fleet was destroyed, and Xerxès has been never mentioned without contempt.

A few years afterwards, Greece likewife had her turn of giving birth to a projector; who invading Afia with a finall army, went forward in fearch of adventures, and by his efcape from one danger, gained only more rafhnefs to rush into another: he ftormed city after city, over-ran kingdom after kingdom, fought battles only for barren victory, and invaded nations only that he might make his way through them to new invafions: but having been fortunate in the execution of his projects, he died with the name of Alexander the Great.

Thefe are, indeed, events of ancient times; but human nature is always the fame, and every age will afford us inftances of publick cenfures influenced by events. The great business of the middle centuries, was the holy war; which undoubtedly was a noble project, and was for a long time profecuted with a spirit equal to that with which it had been contrived: but the ardour of the European heroes only hurried them to deftruction; for a long time they could not gain the territories for which they fought, and, when at laft gained, they could not keep them: their expeditions, therefore, have been the fcoff of idlenefs and ignorance, their understanding and their virtue have been equally viliG 3 fied,

« السابقةمتابعة »