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as himself, and all this to his glory, forsooth? But hark, says Jupiter, there is a voice I never heard but in time of danger; it is a rogue that is shipwrecked in the Ionian sea : I saved him on a plank but three days ago, upon his promise to mend his man. ners; the scoundrel is not worth a groat, and yet has the impudence to offer me a temple if I will keep him from sinking But yonder, says he, is a special youth for you; he desires me to take his father, who keeps a great estate from him, out of the miseries of human life. The old fellow shall live till he makes his heart ache, I can tell him that for his pains. This was followed by the soft voice of a pious lady, desiring Jupiter that she might appear amiable and charming in the sight of her emperor. As the philosopher was reflecting on this extraordinary petition, there blew a gentle wind through the trap-door, which he at first mistook for a gale of zephyrs, but afterwards found it to be a breeze of sighs : they smelt strong of flowers and incense, and were succeeded by most passionate complaints of wounds and torments, fires and arrows, cruelty, despair, and death. Menippus fancied that such lamentable cries arose from some general execution, or from wretches lying under the torture; but Jupiter told him that they came up to him from the isle of Paphos, and that he every day received complaints of the same nature from that whimsical tribe of mortals who are called lovers. I am so trifled with, says he, by this generation of both sexes, and find it so impossible to please them, whether I grant or refuse their petitions, that I shall order a western wind for the future to intercept them in their passage, and blow them at random upon the earth. The last petition I heard was from a very aged man of near an hundred years old, begging but for one year more of life, and then promising to die contented. This is the rarest old fellow ! says Jupiter. He has made this prayer to me for above twenty years together. When he was but fifty
years old, he desired only that he might live to see his son settled in the world; I granted it. He then begged the same favour for his daughter, and afterwards that he might see the education of a grandson : when all this was brought about, he puts up a peti. tion that he might live to finish a house he was building. In short, he is an unreasonable old cur, and never wants an excuse; I will hear no more of him. Upon which he flung down the trap-door in a passion, and was resolved to give no more audiences that day.
Notwithstanding the levity of this fable," the moral of it very well deserves our attention, and is the same with that which has been inculcated by Socrates and Plato, not to mention Juvenal and Persius," who have each of them made the finest satire in their whole works upon this subject. The vanity of men's wishes, which are the natural prayers of the mind, as well as many of those secret devotions which they offer to the Supreme Being, are sufficiently exposed by it. Among other reasons for set forms of prayer, I have often thought it a very good one, that by this means the folly and extravagance of men's desires may be kept within due bounds, and not break out in absurd and ridiculous petitions on so great and solemn an occasion.
* Juvenal. Sat. x. imitated by Johnson in his celebrated “Vanity of human wishes ;' and Persius, Sat. ii.-G.
Levity of this fable. This little apology shews that the author felt the impropriety of treating so serious a subject in Lucian's, that is, in a ludicrous manner.-II
No. 393. SATURDAY, MAY 31.
Nescio quâ præter solitum dulcedine læti.
Virg. Georg. L. 412.
Looking over the letters that have been sent me, I chanced to find the following one, which I received about two years ago from an ingenious friend, who was then in Denmark.
Copenhagen, May, 1711. “Dear Sir, “The spring with you has already taken possession of the fields and woods : now is the season of solitude, and of moving complaints upon trivial sufferings : now the griefs of lovers begin to flow, and their wounds to bleed afresh. I too, at this distance from the softer climates, am not without my discontents at present. You perhaps may laugh at me for a most romantic wretch, when I have disclosed to you the occasion of my uneasiness; and yet I cannot help thinking my unhappiness real, in being confined to a region, which is the very reverse of Paradise. The seasons here are all of them unpleasant, and the country quite destitute of rural charms. I have not heard a bird sing, nor a brook murmur, nor a breeze whisper, neither have I been blest with the sight of a flowery meadow these two years. Every wind here is a tempest, and every water a turbulent ocean. I hope, when you reflect a little, you will not think the grounds of my complaint in the least frivolous and unbecoming a man of serious thought; since the love of woods, of fields and flowers, of rivers and fountains, seems to be a passion implanted in our natures the most early of any, even before the fair sex had a being.
“I am, sir, &c.? • Supposed to have been written by Ambrose Philips, v. Tatler, No. 12, or by Mr. Molesworth, author of a “History of Denmark.'--G.
Could I transport myself with a wish from one country to another, I should choose to pass my winter in Spain, my spring in Italy, my summer in England, and my autumn in France. Of all these seasons there is none that can vie with the spring for beauty and delightfulness. It bears the same figure among the seasons of the year, that the morning does among the divisions of the day, or youth among the stages of life. The English summer is pleasanter than that of any other country in Europe, on no other account but because it has a greater mixture of spring in it. The mildness of our climate, with those frequent refreshments of dews and rains that fall among us, keep up a perpetual chearfulness in our fields, and fill the hottest months of the year with a lively verdure.
In the opening of the spring, when all nature begins to recorer herself, the same animal pleasure which makes the birds sing, and the whole brute creation rejoice, rises very sensibly in the heart of man. I know none of the poets who have observed so well as Milton those secret overflowings of gladness which diffuse themselves throughout the mind of the beholder, upon surveying the gay scenes of nature; he has touched upon it twice or thrice in his Paradise Lost, and describes it very beautifully under the name of vernal delight, in that passage where he represents the devil himself as almost sensible of it.
Blossoms and fruits at once of golden hue?
1 V. vol. i. p. 164. note.-G.
• Overflowings which diffuse themselves. The sense of the verb is anticipated in the substantive. He should either have said-overflowings of gladness in the mind of the beholder,-or, sensations of gladness which diffuse themselves.-H.
Meets his approach, and to the heart inspires
Many authors have written on the vanity of the creature, and represented the barrenness of every thing in this world, and its incapacity of producing any solid or substantial happiness. As discourses of this nature are very useful to the sensual and voluptuous; those speculations which shew the bright side of things, and lay forth those innocent entertainments which are to be met with among the several objects that encompass us, are no less beneficial to men of dark and melancholy tempers. It was for this reason that I endeavoured to recommend a chearfulness of mind in my two last Saturday's papers, and which I would still inculcate," not only from the consideration of ourselves, and of that Being on whom we depend, nor from the general survey of that universe in which we are placed at present, but from reflections on the particular season in which this paper is written. The creation is a perpetual feast to the mind of a good man, every thing he sees chears and delights him; Providence has imprinted so many smiles on nature, that it is impossible for a mind, which is not sunk in more gross and sensual delights, to take a survey of them without several secret sensations of pleasure. The Psalmist has in several of his divine poems celebrated those beautiful and agreeable scenes which make the heart glad, and produce in it that vernal delight which I have before taken notice of.
Natural philosophy quickens this taste of the creation, and renders it not only pleasing to the imagination, but to the ander
* It is hard to say, whether the amiable turn of the writer's mind, or why sey it. the elegance of his genius, be more conspicuous in these three papers.-H.
o Nor. In beginning with “not only,” he precluded himself from the use of the disjunctive "nor," and should have expressed himself thus“not only from the consideration of ourselves, of that Being on whom we depend, and of that universe in which we are placed, but," &c.-H.