« AnteriorContinuar »
the duke was a witness. When these two acts were executed, the duke turned to the lady, and told her, now remains for me to put you in quiet possession of what your husband has so bountifully bestowed on you?” and ordered the immediate execution of Rhynsault.
EXAMINATION OF A STUDENT. (No. 494). ABOUT an age ago it was the fashion in England for every one that would be thought religious, to throw as much sanctity as possible into his face, and in particular to abstain from all appearances of mirth and pleasantry, which were looked upon as the marks of a carnal mind. The saint was of a sorrowful countenance, and generally eaten up with spleen and melancholy. A gentleman, who was lately a great ornament to the learned world, has diverted me more than once with an account of the reception which he met with from a very famous independent minister, who was head of a college in those times. This gentleman was then a young adventurer in the republic of letters, and just fitted out for the university with a good cargo of Latin and Greek. His friends were resolved that he should try his fortune at an election which was drawing near in the college, of which the independent minister whom I have before mentioned was governor.* The youth, according to custom, waited on him in order to be examined. He was received at the door by a servant, who was one of that gloomy generation that were then in fashion. He conducted him, with great silence and seriousness, to a long gallery which was darkened at noon-day, and had only a single candle burning in it. After a short stay in this melancholy apart
* Dr. Thomas Goodwin, S. T. P., president of Magdalen College in Oxford, and one of the Assembly of Divines who sat at Westminster. Mr. Wood says, “ Dr. T. Goodwin and Dr. Owen were the two Atlases and patriarchs of independency.” Dr. Goodwin attended his friend and patron Oliver Cromwell on his death-bed. His portrait, said to be a strong likeness, with a double cap on his head, is prefixed to his works in 2 vols. folio.
ment, he was led into a chamber hung with black, where he entertained himself for some time by the glimmering of a taper, until at length the head of the college came out to him, from an inner room, with half a dozen night-caps upon his head, and religious horror in his countenance. The young man trembled; but his fears increased, when, instead of being asked what progress he had made in learning, he was examined how he abounded in grace. His Latin and Greek stood him in little stead: he was to give an account only of the state of his soul; whether he was of the number of the elect; what was the occasion of his conversion; upon what day of the month, and hour of the day, it happened; how it was carried on, and when completed. The whole examination was summed up with one short question; namely, “whether he was prepared for death?” The boy, who had been bred up by honest parents, was frighted out of his wits at the solemnity of the proceeding, and by the last dreadful interrogatory; so that, upon making his escape out of this house of mourning, he could never be brought a second time to the examination, as not being able to go through the terrors of it. I have, in former papers, shown how great a tendency there is to cheerfulness in religion, and how such a frame of mind is not only the most lovely, but the most commendable in a virtuous person. In short, those who represent religion in so unamiable a light, are like the spies sent by Moses to make a discovery of the Land of Promise, when, by their reports, they discouraged the people from entering upon it. Those who show us the joy, the cheerfulness, the good humour, that naturally spring up in this happy state, are like the spies bringing along with them the clusters of grapes, and delicious fruits, that might invite their companions into the pleasant country which produced them. It is not the business of virtue to extirpate the affections of the mind, but to regulate them. It may moderate and restrain, but was not designed to banish gladness from the heart of man. Religion contracts the circle of our pleasures, but leaves it wide enough for her votaries to expatiate in. The contemplation of the Divine Being, and the exercise of
virtue, are in their own nature so far from excluding all gladness of heart, that they are perpetual sources of it. In a word, the true spirit of religion cheers as well as composes the soul; it banishes indeed all levity of behaviour, all vicious and dissolute mirth, but in exchange fills the mind with a perpetual serenity, uninterrupted cheerfulness, and an habitual inclination to please others, as well as to be pleased in itself.
WOMEN AT A SIEGE. A VISION. (No. 499). My friend Will Honeycomb has told me for about this half-year, that he had a great mind to try his hand at a Spectator, and that he would fain have one of his writing in my works. This morning I received from him the following letter, which, after having rectified some little orthographical mistakes, I shall make a present of to the public :“ DEAR SPEC,
“I was about two nights ago, in company agreeable young people of both sexes, where talking of some of your papers which are written on conjugal love, there arose a dispute among us, whether there were not more bad husbands in the world than bad wives. A gentleman, who was advocate for the ladies, took this occasion to tell us the story of a famous siege in Germany, which I have since found related in my historical dictionary, after the following
When the Emperor Conrade the Third had besieged Guelphus, Duke of Bavaria, in the city of Hensberg, the women, finding that the town could not possibly hold out long, petitioned the emperor that they might depart out of it, with so much as each of them could carry. The emperor, knowing that they could not convey away many of their effects, granted them their petition; when the women, to his great surprise, came out of the place with every one her husband upon her back. The emperor was so moved at the sight, that he burst into tears,
and, after having very much extolled the women for their conjugal affection, gave the men to their wives, and received the duke into his favour. “The ladies did not a little triumph at this story, asking us at the same time, whether in our consciences we believed that the men in any town of Great-Britain would, upon the same offer, and at the same conjuncture, have loaden themselves with their wives; or rather, whether they would not have been glad of such an opportunity to get rid of them 2 To this my very good friend Tom Dapperwit, who took upon him to be the mouth of our sex, replied, that they would be very much to blame if they would not do the same good office for the women, considering that their strength would be greater, and their burthens lighter. As we were amusing ourselves with discourses of this nature, in order to pass away the evening, which now begins to grow tedious, we fell into that laudable and primitive diversion of questions and commands. I was no sooner vested with the regal authority, but I enjoined all the ladies, under pain of my displeasure, to tell the company ingenuously, in case they had been in the siege above mentioned, and had the same offers made them as the good women of that place, what every one of them would have brought off with her, and have thought most worth the saving? There were several merry answers made to my question, which entertained us until bed-time. This filled my mind with such a huddle of ideas, that upon my going to sleep I fell into the following dream:— “I saw a town of this island, which shall be nameless, invested on every side, and the inhabitants of it so straitened as to cry for quarter. The general refused any other terms than those granted to the above-mentioned town of Hensberg, namely, that the married women might come out with what they could bring along with them. Immediately the city-gates flew open, and a female procession appeared, multitudes of the sex following one another in a row, and staggering under their respective burthens. I took my stand upon an eminence in the enemy's camp, which was appointed for the general rendezvous of these female carriers, being very desirous to look into their several ladings. The first of them had a huge sack upon her shoulders, which she set down with great care. Upon the opening of it, when I expected to have seen her husband shot out of it, I found it was filled with china ware. The next appeared in a more decent figure, carrying a handsome young fellow upon her back: I could not forbear com. mending the young woman for her conjugal affection, when to my great surprise I found that she had left the good man at home, and brought away her gallant. I saw the third, at some distance, with a little withered face peeping over her shoulder, whom I could not suspect for any but her spouse, until upon her setting him down I heard her call him dear pug, and found him to be her favourite monkey. A fourth brought a huge bale of cards along with her; and the fifth a Bologna lap-dog; for her husband, it seems, being a very burly man, she thought it would be less trouble for her to bring away little Cupid. The next was the wife of a rich usurer, loaden with a bag of gold: she told us that her spouse was very old, and by the course of nature could not expect to live long; and that, to show her tender regard for him, she had saved that which the poor man loved better than his life. The next came towards us with her son upon her back, who, we were told, was the greatest rake in the place; but so much the mother's darling, that she left her husband behind with a large family of hopeful sons and daughters, for the sake of this graceless youth. “It would be endless to mention the several persons, with their several loads, that appeared to me in this strange vision. All the place about me was covered with packs of ribbons, brocades, embroidery, and ten thousand other materials, sufficient to have furnished a whole street of toyshops. One of the women, having a husband who was none of the heaviest, was bringing him off upon her shoulders, at the same time that she carried a great bundle of Flanders lace under her arm; but finding herself so overloaden, that she could not save both of them, she dropped the good man, and brought away the bundle. In short, I found but one husband among this great mountain of baggage, who was a lively cobbler, that kicked and spurred