« السابقةمتابعة »
diately under his eye, are in more conspicuous danger than the inferior people, who escape his notice. All are slaves alike, and the nobleman is but the fore-horse in the team."
FREE-THINKER, No. 144, August 7, 1719.
-Apimum pictura pascit inani.
- With an empty picture fcd his mind.
In distinguishing the merits of men, as no allasions are more natural and easy, more clear and expressive, than those taken from weighing their different pretensions in a balance; so we find this figure made use of by the most ancient and best authors. In the book of Job (which is allowed to be one of the oldest, as well as one of the sublimest, pieces of poetry), Job, in one place, pathetically cries out,“ O! that my grief were thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together!” In another place he prays, “Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity !” In the Psalms (which are bold and noble compositions in the lyric kind), the wicked man is said to be « deceitful
upon the weights ;” and to be “lighter than vanity itself.” Daniel (who was the greatest and most accomplished man of his age) declares to Belshazzar, “ Thou art weighed in the balances, and found wanting." Hô
mer, in his Iliad, represents Jupiter weighing in his golden scales, at one time, the fates of Greece and Troy; at another, the destinies of Achilles and Hector. It is well known, that Virgil has herein almost translated Homer ; and that Milton has copied, and, at the same time, added new beauties to the fiction of the Greek and Latin poets. But the most beautiful imagery of this sort, is that mentioned by Plutarch, in a tragedy of Æschylus ; wherein, at the single combat of Achilles and Memnon, the mother-goddesses (Thetis and Aurora) appear, one on the right, the other on the left side of Jupiter's scales; each anxiously imploring, that her son's fạte might prevail in the balance. From this incident, the tragedian gave to his Play the name of Psychostasia ; which is sufficient to warrant my calling this paper by the mechanical term of Psychostatics; or, in plain English, the weighing of souls. And our own language favours me yet farther in this metaphor, which calls a person of superior worth, a man of weight.
Cebes has represented human life in general, by a picture in a temple at Athens : in imitation of this ancient and lively way of allegory, I shall figure out some particular instances of weighing the merits and the demerits of per
sons, in a history-piece, proper to adorn an apartment in the house of any British nobleman, who thinks he can bear it. Let me, therefore, allot two spacious rooms to this design: in the outward shall be represented the weighing of false, and in the inward and more retired, the weighing of true merit.
Methinks, as I enter the. outward room, a glaring light dazzles my eyes; when, looking up to the roof, I behold (at the farther end) a Fame of a monstrous size, like the figure de. scribed by. Virgil : she blows a large trumpet, seemingly of gold; but the gilding is laid on so thin, that the brass underneath may be easily discovered by a judicious eye. The rest of the cieling is filled with the battles of Alexander, and the conquests of Lewis the fourteenth, in the most glittering and gaudy colours. One half of the compartment is full of French and English cavaliers, fighting duels: the other half, of several persons with rage and despair in their looks ;, some with bowls at their lips; others with daggers at their breasts; and in the middle sits Cato, with a sullen brow, holding in one hand Plato of the Immortality of the Soul, and a sword in the other. The cornish is embossed with medallions of modern dramatic writers, smatterers in natural philosophy and mathe
matics, pretenders to free-thinking, partypatriots, and the noisy zealots of every communion.
On the walls are various experiments of Psychostatics represented : either side displays a number of scales erected on eminences, each at a proper distance, with a human figure in every one of them, mounted up to the very beam; and underneath stand crowds of spectators, in whose faces appears the surprise of disappointment. On the right, in the most distinguished point of view, is seen a grave solemn figure, of sanctified look, with eyes and hands lifted towards heaven. His garb is a long robe, like that which the Pharisees wore ; and in his lap lies a book of devotion, spread open. The reason why this venerable person weighs so light, is soon discovered, by looking into the lower scale, that preponderates by virtue of a small weight of gold, on which is engraved “Sincerity.”
Beneath this Psychostatical experiment, one may see a mixed multitude, made up of several of the religious orders in the Romish church; of ladies in hoop-petticoats, with white roses in their bosoms; of men, some in gowns with long slit sleeves, and large black roses in their hạts; others, in short clokes, with little ebony canes