Слике страница

degrees, serves to hold the thread very enemy from his stronghold. He seemed firmly; then receding from the first point, to go off, but quickly returned; and when as it recedes the thread lengthens; and, he found all arts in vain, began to de. when the spider has come to the place molish the new web without mercy. This where the other end of the thread should brought on another battle, and, contrary be fixed, gathering up with its claws the to my expectations, the laborious spider thread, which would otherwise be too became conqueror, and fairly killed his slack, it is stretched tightly, and fixed in antagonist. the same manner to the wall as before. Now, then, in peaceable possession of

In this manner it spins and fixes several what was justly its own, it waited three threads parallel to each other, which, so days with the utmost impatience, repairing to speak, serve as the warp to the in- the breaches of its web, and taking no tended web. To form the woof, it spins sustenance that I could perceive. At last, in the same manner its thread, trans. however, a large blue fly fell into the versely fixing one end to the first thread snare, and struggled hard to get loose. that was spun, and which is always the The spider gave it leave to entangle itself strongest of the whole web, and the other as much as possible, but it seemed to be to the wall. All these threads, being too strong for the cobweb. I must own newly spun, are glutinous, and therefore I was greatly surprised when I saw the stick to each other wherever they happen spider immediately sally out, and in less to touch; and, in those parts of the web than a minute weave a new net round its most exposed to be torn, our natural captive, by which the motion of its wings artist strengthens them, by doubling the was stopped ; and when it was fairly threads sometimes sixfold.

hampered this manner, it was seized Thus far naturalists have gone in the and dragged into the hole. description of this animal; what follows In this manner it lived, in a precarious is the result of my own observation upon state; and nature seemed to have fitted it that species of the insect called a house for such a life, for upon a single fly it subspider. I perceived, about four years sisted for more than a week. I once put ago, a large spider in one corner of my a wasp into the net; but when the spider room, making its web; and, though the came out in order to seize it as usual, upon maid frequently levelled her fatal broom perceiving what kind of an enemy it had against the labours of the little animal, i to deal with, it instantly broke all the bands had the good fortune then to prevent its that held it fast, and contributed all that destruction; and, I may say, it more than lay in its power to disengage so formidabic paid me by the entertainment it afforded. an antagonist. When the wasp was ai

In three days the web was, with in- liberty, I expected the spider would have credible diligence, completed; nor could set about repairing the breaches that were I avoid thinking, that the insect seemed made in its net; but those, it seems, were to exult in its new abode. It frequently irreparable; wherefore the cobweb was traversed it round, examined the strength now entirely forsaken, and a new one of every part of it, retired into its hole, begun, which was completed in the usual and came out very frequently. The first time. enemy, however, it had to encounter, was I had now a mind to try how many another and a much larger spider, which, cobwebs a single spider could furnish; having no web of its own, and having wherefore I destroyed this, and the insect probably exhausted all its stock in former set about another. When I destroyed the labours of this kind, came to invade the other also, its whole stock seemed entirely property of its neighbour. Soon, then, exhausted, and it could spin no more. The a terrible encounter ensued, in which the arts it made use of to support itself, now invader seemed to have the victory, and deprived of its great means of subsistence, the laborious spider was obliged to take were indeed surprising. I have seen it refuge in its hole. Upon this I perceived roll up its legs like a ball

, and lie motion. the victor using every art to draw the less for hours together, but cautiously

watching all the time: when a fly happened but a day old, to catch a fly, they fall to to approach sufficiently near, it would with good appetites; but they live somedart out all at once, and often seize its times three or four days without any sort prey.

of sustenance, and yet still continue to Of this life, however, it soon began to grow larger, so as every day to double grow weary, and resolved to invade the their former size. As they grow old, howpossession of some other spider, since it ever, they do not still continue to increase, could not make a web of its own. It but their legs only continue to grow longer; formed an attack upon a neighbouring and when a spider becomes entirely stiff fortification with great vigour, and at first with age, and unable to seize its prey,

it was as vigorously repulsed. Not daunted, dies at length of hunger. however, with one defeat, in this manner

THE CHARACTERISTICS OF it continued to lay siege to another's web

GREATNESS. for three days, and at length, having killed the defendant, actually took possession. | In every duty, in every science in which When smaller flies happen to fall into the we would wish to arrive at perfection, we snare, the spider does not sally out at once, should propose for the object of our pur. but very patiently waits till it is sure of suit some certain station even beyond them; for, upon his immediately approach- our abilities--some imaginary excellence, ing, the terror of his appearance might which may amuse and serve to animate give the captive strength sufficient to get our inquiry. In deviating from others, in loose: the manner then is to wait patiently following an unbeaten road, though we till, by ineffectual and impotent struggles, perhaps may never arrive at the wishedthe captive has wasted all its strength, for object, yet it is possible we may meet and then he becomes a certain and easy several discoveries by the way; and the conquest.

certainty of small advantages, even while The insect I am now describing lived we travel with security, is not so amusing three years; every year it changed its skin, as the hopes of great rewards, which inspire and got a new set of legs. I have some- the adventurer. “Evenit nonnunquam, times plucked off a leg, which grew again says Quintilian, “ut aliquid grande invein two or three days. At first it dreaded niat qui semper quærit quod nimium est." my approach to its web, but at last it This enterprising spirit is, however, by became so familiar as to take a fly out of no means the character of the present my hand; and upon my touching any age; every person who should now leave part of the web, would immediately leave received opinions, who should attempt to its hole, prepared either a defence or be more tha a commentator upon philoan attack.

sophy, or an imitator in polite learning, To complete this description, it may be might be regarded as a chimerical proobserved, that the male spiders are much jector. Hundreds would be ready not only less than the female, and that the latter to point out his errors, but to load him are oviparous. When they come to lay, with reproach. Our probable opinions they spread a part of their web under the are now regarded as certainties; the diffieggs, and then roll them up carefully, as culties hitherto undiscovered as utterly we roll up things in a cloth, and thus hatch inscrutable; and the writers of the last them in their hole. If disturbed in their age inimitable, and therefore the properest holes, they never attempt to escape with models of imitation. out carrying this young brood in their One might be almost induced to deplore forceps away with them, and thus fre the philosophic spirit of the age, which, quently are sacrificed to their parental in proportion as it enlightens the mind, affection.

increases its timidity, and represses the As soon as ever the young ones leave vigour of every undertaking. Men are their artificial covering, they begin to spin, now content with being prudently in the and almost sensibly seem to grow bigger. right; which, though not the way to make If they have the good fortune, when even | new acquisitions, it must be owned is the

If wrong,

best method of securing what we have. the republic of letters never. Yet this is certain, that the writer who every inferior dunce thinks himself entitled never deviates, who never hazards a new to laugh at their disappointment; if right, thought or a new expression, though his men of superior talents think their honour friends may compliment him upon his engaged to oppose, since every new dissagacity, though criticism lifts her feeble covery is a tacit diminution of their own voice in his praise, will seldom arrive at pre-eminence. any degree of perfection. The way to To aim at excellence our reputation, acquire lasting esteem is not by the few our friends, and our all must be ventured; ness of a writer's faults, but the greatness by aiming only at mediocrity we run no of his beauties; and our noblest works risk, and we do little service. Prudence are generally most replete with both. and greatness are ever persuading us to

An author who would be sublime, often contrary pursuits. The one instructs us runs his thought into burlesque; yet I can to be content with our station, and to find readily pardon his mistaking ten times happiness in bounding every wish; the for once succeeding. True genius walks other impels us to superiority, and calls along a line ; and perhaps our greatest nothing happiness but rapture. The one pleasure is in seeing it so often near falling, directs us to follow mankind, and to act without being ever actually down.

and think with the rest of the world ; the Every science has its hitherto undis- other drives us from the crowd, and covered mysteries, after which men should exposes us as a mark to all the shafts of travel, undiscouraged by the failure of envy or ignorance : former adventurers. Every new attempt Nec minus periculum ex magna fama quam serves perhaps to facilitate its future inven- ex mala. - Tacit. tion. We may not find the philosopher's The rewards of mediocrity are immestone, but we shall probably hit upon new diately paid, those attending excellence inventions in pursuing it. We shall per generally paid in reversion. In a word, haps never be able to discover the longi- the little mind who loves itself will write tude, yet perhaps we may arrive at new and think with the vulgar ; but the great truths in the investigation.

mind will be bravely eccentric, and scorn Were any of those sagacious minds the beaten road, from universal benevoamong us,--and surely no nation, or no lence. period, could ever compare with us in this particular,—were any of those minds, I

A CITY NIGHT PIECE. say, who now sit down contented with

Ille dolet vere, qui sine teste dolet. -MART. exploring the intricacies of another's system, bravely to shake off admiration, The clock has just struck two, the expiring and, undazzled with the splendour of taper rises and sinks in the socket, the another's reputation, to chalk out a path watchman forgets the hour in slumber, to fame for themselves, and boldly culti- the laborious and the happy are at rest, vate untried experiment, what might not and nothing wakes but meditation, guilt, be the result of their inquiries, should the revelry, and despair. The drunkard once same study that has made them wise make more fills the destroying bowl, the robber them enterprising also? What could not walks his midnight round, and the suicide such qualities united produce? But such lifts his guilty arm against his own sacred is not the character of the English: while person. our neighbours of the Continent launch Let me no longer waste the night over out into the ocean of science without the page of antiquity or the sallies of proper store for the voyage, we fear ship- contemporary genius, but pursue the soli. wreck in every breeze, and consume in tary walk, where Vanity, ever changing, port those powers which might probably but a few hours past walked before mehave weathered every storm.

where she kept up the pageant, and now, Projectors in a state are generally re- like a froward child, seems hushed with warded above their deserts ; projectors in her own importunities.

What a gloom hangs all around! The happier days, and been flattered into dying lamp feebly emits a yellow gleam; beauty. They have been prostituted to no sound is heard but of the chiming the gay luxurious villain, and are now clock, or the distant watch-dog. All the turned out to meet the severity of winter. bustle of human pride is forgotten: an Perhaps, now lying at the doors of their hour like this may well display the empti. betrayers, they sue to wretches whose ness of human vanity.

hearts are insensible, or debauchees who There will come a time, when this may curse, but will not relieve them. temporary solitude may be made continual, Why, why was I born a man, and yet and the city itself, like its inhabitants, see the sufferings of wretches I cannot fade away, and leave a desert in its room. relieve! Poor houseless creatures ! the

What cities, as great as this, have once world will give you reproaches, but will triumphed in existence, had their victories not give you relief. The slightest misas great, joy as just and as unbounded; fortunes of the great, the most imaginary and, with short-sighted presumption, pro- uneasiness of the rich, are aggravated with mised themselves immortality. Posterity all the power of eloquence, and held up can hardly trace the situation of some : to engage our attention and sympathetic the sorrowful traveller wanders over the sorrow. The poor weep unheeded, perawful ruins of others; and, as he beholds, secuted by every subordinate species of he learns wisdom, and feels the transience tyranny; and every law which gives others of every sublunary possession.

security, becomes an enemy to them. “Here,” he cries, “ stood their citadel, Why was this heart of mine formed now grown over with weeds; there their with so much sensibility? or why was not senate-house, but now the haunt of every my fortune adapted to its impulse? Tennoxious reptile; temples and theatres stood derness, without a capacity of relieving, here, now only an undistinguished heap only makes the man who feels it more of ruin. They are fallen, for luxury and wretched than the object which sues for avarice first made them feeble. The assistance. rewards of the state were conferred on But let me turn from a scene of such amusing, and not on useful, members of distress to the sanctified hypocrite, who society. Their riches and opulence invited has been talking of virtue till the time of the invaders, who, though at first repulsed, bed, and now steals out, to give a loose to returned again, conquered by perseve. his vices under the protection of midnight rance, and at last swept the defendants into —vices more atrocious because he attempts undistinguished destruction."

to conceal them. See how he pants down How few appear in those streets which the dark alley, and, with hastening steps, but some few hours ago were crowded ; fears an acquaintance in every face! He and those who appear, now no longer has passed the whole day in company he wear their daily mask, nor attempt to hide hates, and now goes to prolong the night their lewdness or their misery.

among company that as heartily hate him. But who are those who make the streets May his vices be detected : may the morntheir couch, and find a short repose from ing rise upon his shame ! Yet I wish wretchedness at the doors of the opulent? to no purpose : villany, when detected, These are strangers, wanderers, and or- never gives up, but boldly adds impudence phans,whose circumstances are too humble to imposture. to expect redress, and their distresses are too great even for pity. Their wretched- No. V.-Saturday, November 3, 1759. ness excites rather horror.

Some are

UPON POLITICAL FRUGALITY. without the covering even of rags, and others emaciated with disease ; the world FRUGALITY has ever been esteemed a has disclaimed them ; society turns its virtue as well among Pagans as Christians: back upon their distress, and has given there have been even heroes who have them up to nakedness and hunger. These practised it. However, we must acknowpoor shivering females have once seen | ledge, that it is too modest a virtue, or,

if you will, too obscure a one, to be essential appear as genteel as the rest. Education to heroism; few heroes have been able to should teach us to become useful, sober, attain to such an height. Frugality agrees disinterested, and laborious members of much better with politics; it seems to be society ; but does it not at present point the base and support, and, in a word, out a different path It teaches us to the inseparable companion of a just admi- multiply our wants, by which means we nistration.

become more eager to possess, in order to However this be, there is not, perhaps, dissipate ; a greater charge to ourselves, in the world a people less fond of this and more useless or obnoxious to society. virtue than the English; and of conse- If a youth happens to be possessed quence there is not a nation more restless, of more genius than fortune, he is early more exposed to the uneasiness of life, or informed, that he ought to think of his less capable of providing for particular advancement in the world—that he should happiness. We are taught to despise this labour to make himself pleasing to his virtue from our childhood ; our education superiors—that he should shun low comis improperly directed, and a man who pany (by which is meant the company of has gone through the politest institutions his equals)—that he should rather live a is generally the person who is least ac- little above than below his fortune-that quainted with the wholesome precepts of he should think of becoming great: but frugality. We every day hear the elegance he finds none to admonish him to become of taste, the magnificence of some, and frugal—to persevere in one single design the generosity of others, made the subject - to avoid every pleasure and all flattery, of our admiration and applause. All this which, however seeming to conciliate the we see represented, not as the end and favour of his superiors, never conciliate recompense of labour and desert, but as their esteem. There are none to teach The actual result of genius, as the mark of him, that the best way of becoming happy a noble and exalted mind.

in himself, and useful to others, is to conIn the midst of these praises bestowed tinue in the state in which fortune at first on luxury, for which elegance and taste placed him, without making too hasty are but another name, perhaps it may be strides to advancement; that greatness thought improper to plead the cause of may be attained, but should not be exfrugality. It may be thought low, or pected; and that they who most impavainly declamatory, to exhort our youth, tiently expect advancement, are seldom from the follies of dress and of every possessed of their wishes. He has few, I other superfluity, to accustom themselves, say, to teach him this lesson, or to modeeven with mechanic meanness, to the rate his youthsul passions; yet this expesimple necessaries of life. Such sort of rience may say, that a young man, who instructions may appear antiquated; yet, but for six years of the early part of his however, they seem the foundations of all life could seem divested of all his passions, our virtues, and the most efficacious method would certainly make, or considerably of making mankind useful members of increase, his fortune, and might indulge society. Unhappily, however, such dis- several of his favourite inclinations in courses are not fashionable among us, and manhood with the utmost security. the fashion seems every day growing still

The efficaciousness of these means is more obsolete, since the press, and every sufficiently known and acknowledged ; but other method of exhortation, seems dis- as we are apt to connect a low idea with posed to talk of the luxuries of life as all our notions of frugality, the person harmless enjoyments. I remember, when who would persuade us to it might be a boy, to have remarked, that those who in accused of preaching up avarice. school wore the finest clothes were pointed Of all vices, however, against which at as being conceited and proud. At pre- morality dissuades, there is not one more sent our little masters are taught to consider undetermined than this of avarice. Misers dress betimes, and they are regarded, even are described by some as men divested of at school, with contempt, who do not | honour, sentiment, or humanity; but this

« ПретходнаНастави »