« AnteriorContinuar »
proceed from the oscitancy of transcribers, who, to dispatch their work the sooner, used to write all numbers in cypher; and seeing the figure 1 followed by a little dash of the pen, as is customary in old manuscripts, they perhaps mistook the dash for a second figure, and, by casting up both together, composed out of them the figure 2. But this I shall leave to the learned, without determining anything
in a matter of so great uncertainty. ADDISON.
ON ASKING ADVICE. (No. 475).
It is an old observation, which has been made of politicians who would rather ingratiate themselves with their sovereign than promote his real service, that they accommodate their counsels to his inclinations, and advise him to such actions only as his heart is naturally set upon. The privy counsellor of one in love must observe the same conduct, unless he would forfeit the friendship of the person who desires his advice. I have known several odd cases of this nature. Hipparchus was going to marry a common woman; but being resolved to do nothing without the advice of his friend Philander, he consulted him upon the occasion. Philander told him his mind freely, and represented his mistress to him in such strong colours, that the next morning he received a challenge for his pains, and before twelve o'clock was run through the body by the man who had asked his advice. Celia was more prudent on the like occasion. She desired Leonilla to give her opinion freely upon a young fellow who made his addresses to her. Leonilla, to oblige her, told her with great frankness, that she looked upon him as one of the most worthless Celia, foreseeing what a character she was to expect, begged her not to go on, for that she had been privately married to him above a fortnight. The truth of it is, a woman seldom asks advice before she has bought her wedding clothes. When she has made her own choice, for form's sake, she sends a congé d'élire to her friends.
I must not here omit a practice which is in use among the vainer part of our sex, who will often ask a friend's advice in relation to a fortune whom they are never like to come at. Will Honeycomb, who is now on the verge of threescore, took me aside not long since, and asked me in his most serious look, whether I would advise him to marry my lady Betty Single, who, by the way, is one of the greatest fortunes about town. I stared him full in the face upon so strange a question; upon which he immediately gave me an inventory of her jewels and estate, adding, that he was resolved to do nothing in a matter of such consequence without my approbation. Finding he would have an answer, I told him, if he could get the lady's consent, he had mine. This is about the tenth match, which, to my knowledge, Will has consulted his friends upon, without ever opening his mind to the party herself.
I have been engaged in this subject by the following letter, which comes to me from some notable young female scribe, who, by the contents of it, seems to have carried matters so far, that she is ripe for asking advice; but as I would not lose her good will, nor forfeit the reputation which I have with her for wisdom, I shall only communicate the letter to the public, without returning any answer to it.
“Now, sir, the thing is this: Mr. Shapely is the prettiest gentleman about town. He is very tall, but not too tall neither. He dances like an angel. His mouth is made I do not know how, but it is the prettiest that I ever saw in my life. He is always laughing, for he has an infinite deal of wit. If you did but see how he rolls his stockings | He has a thousand pretty fancies, and I am sure, if you saw him, you would like him. He is a very good scholar, and can talk Latin as fast as English. I wish you could but see him dance. Now, you must understand, poor Mr. Shapely has no estate; but how can he help that, you know? And yet my friends are so unreasonable as to be always teasing me about him, because he has no estate : but I am sure he has that that is better than an estate ; for he is a good-natured, ingenious, modest, civil, tall, wellbred, handsome man, and I am obliged to him for his civilities ever since I saw him. I forgot to tell you that he has black eyes, and looks upon me now and then as if he had tears in them. And yet my friends are so unreasonable, that they would have me be uncivil to him. I have a good portion which they cannot hinder me of, and I shall be fourteen on the 29th day of August next, and am therefore willing to settle in the world as soon as I can, and so is Mr. Shapely. But everybody I advise with here is poor Mr. Shapely's enemy. I desire, therefore, you will give me your advice, for I know you are a wise man; and, if you advise me well, I am resolved to follow it. I heartily wish you could see him dance, and am, sir, “Your most humble servant, “B. D.
“He loves your Spectators mightily.” ADDISON.
ON GARDENING. (No. 477). SIR,
Having lately read your Essay on the Pleasures of the Imagination, I was so taken with your thoughts upon some of our English gardens, that I cannot forbear troubling you with a letter upon that subject. I am one, you must know, who am looked upon as a humourist in gardening. I have several acres about my house, which I call my garden, and which a skilful gardener would not know what to call. It is a confusion of kitchen and parterre, orchard and flower-garden, which lie so mixt and interwoven with one another, that if a foreigner, who had seen nothing of our country, should be conveyed into my garden at his first landing, he would look upon it as a natural wilderness, and one of the uncultivated parts of our country. My flowers grow up in several parts of the garden in the greatest luxuriancy and profusion. I am so far from being fond of any particular one by reason of its rarity, that, if I meet with any one in a field which pleases me, I give it a place
in my garden. By this means, when a stranger walks with me, he is surprised to see several large spots of ground covered with ten thousand different colours, and has often singled out flowers that he might have met with under a common hedge, in a field, or in a meadow, as some of the greatest beauties of the place. The only method I observe in this particular, is to range in the same quarter the products of the same season, that they may make their appearance together, and compose a picture of the greatest variety. There is the same irregularity in my plantations, which run into as great a wildness as their nature will permit. I take in none that do not naturally rejoice in the soil, and am pleased, when I am walking in a labyrinth of my own raising, not to know whether the next tree I shall meet with is an apple, or an oak, an elm, or a pear-tree. My kitchen has likewise its particular quarters assigned it; for, besides the wholesome luxury which that place abounds with, I have always thought a kitchen-garden a more pleasant sight than the finest orangery or artificial greenhouse. I love to see everything in its perfection, and am more pleased to survey my rows of colworts and cabbages, with a thousand nameless pot-herbs, springing up in their full fragrancy and verdure, than to see the tender plants of foreign countries kept alive by artificial heats, or withering in an air and soil that are not adapted to them. I must not omit, that there is a fountain rising in the upper part of my garden, which forms a little wandering rill, and admi. nisters to the pleasure as well as the plenty of the place. I have so conducted it, that it visits most of my plantations ; and have taken particular care to let it run in the same manner as it would do in an open field, so that it generally passes through banks of violets and primroses, plats of willow, or other plants, that seem to be of its own producing There is another circumstance in which I am very particular, or, as my neighbours call me, very whimsical : as my garden invites into it all the birds of the country, by offering them the conveniency of springs and shades, . solitude and shelter, I do not suffer any one to destroy their nests in the spring, or drive them from their usual haunts
in fruit-time; I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than cherries, and very drankly give them fruit for their songs. By this means I have always the music of the season in its perfection, and am highly delighted to see the jay or the thrush hopping about my walks, and shooting before my eyes across the several little glades and alleys that I pass through. I think there are as many kinds of gardening as of poetry : your makers of parterres and flower-gardens are epigrammatists and sonneteers in this art : contrivers of bowers and grottos, treillages and cascades, are romance writers. Wise and London are our heroic poets ; and if, as a critic, I may single out any passage of their works to commend; I shall take notice of that part in the upper garden, at Kensington, which was at first nothing but a gravel-pit. It must have been a fine genius for gardening that could have thought of forming such an unsightly hollow into so beautiful an area, and to have hit the eye with so uncommon and agreeable a scene as that which it is now wrought into. To give this particular spot of ground the greater effect, they have made a very pleasing contrast; for, as on one side of the walk you see this hollow basin, with its several little plantations, lying so conveniently under the eye of the beholder; on the other side of it there appears a seeming mount, made up of trees, rising one higher than another, in proportion as they approach the centre. A spectator, who has not heard this account of it, uld think this circular mount was not only a real one, but that it had been actually scooped out of that hollow space which I have before mentioned. I never yet met with any one who has walked in this garden, who was not struck with that part of it which I have here mentioned. As for myself, you will find, by the account which I have already given you, that my compositions in gardening are altogether after the Pindaric manner, and run into the beautiful wildness of nature, without affecting the nicer elegancies of art. What I am now going to mention will, perhaps, deserve your attention more than anything I have yet said. I find that in the discourse which I spoke of at the beginning of my letter, you are against filling an