Essays and Tales
Joseph Addison

Part 3 out of 3

the reach of them, their footing failed and down they sunk. In this
confusion of objects, I observed some with scimitars in their hands,
who ran to and fro from the bridge, thrusting several persons on
trapdoors which did not seem to lie in their way, and which they
might have escaped had they not been thus forced upon them.

"The genius, seeing me indulge myself on this melancholy prospect,
told me I had dwelt long enough upon it. 'Take thine eyes off the
bridge,' said he, 'and tell me if thou yet seest anything thou dost
not comprehend.' Upon looking up, 'What mean,' said I, 'those great
flights of birds that are perpetually hovering about the bridge, and
settling upon it from time to time? I see vultures, harpies,
ravens, cormorants, and among many other feathered creatures,
several little winged boys, that perch in great numbers upon the
middle arches.' 'These,' said the genius, 'are Envy, Avarice,
Superstition, Despair, Love, with the like cares and passions that
infest human life.'

"I here fetched a deep sigh. 'Alas,' said I, 'man was made in vain!
how is he given away to misery and mortality! tortured in life, and
swallowed up in death!' The genius, being moved with compassion
towards me, bade me quit so uncomfortable a prospect. 'Look no
more,' said he, 'on man in the first stage of his existence, in his
setting out for Eternity; but cast thine eye on that thick mist into
which the tide bears the several generations of mortals that fall
into it.' I directed my sight as I was ordered, and, whether or no
the good genius strengthened it with any supernatural force, or
dissipated part of the mist that was before too thick for the eye to
penetrate, I saw the valley opening at the further end, and
spreading forth into an immense ocean, that had a huge rock of
adamant running through the midst of it, and dividing it into two
equal parts. The clouds still rested on one half of it, insomuch
that I could discover nothing in it; but the other appeared to me a
vast ocean planted with innumerable islands, that were covered with
fruits and flowers, and interwoven with a thousand little shining
seas that ran among them. I could see persons dressed in glorious
habits, with garlands upon their heads, passing among the trees,
lying down by the sides of fountains, or resting on beds of flowers;
and could hear a confused harmony of singing birds, falling waters,
human voices, and musical instruments. Gladness grew in me upon the
discovery of so delightful a scene. I wished for the wings of an
eagle, that I might fly away to those happy seats; but the genius
told me there was no passage to them, except through the gates of
death that I saw opening every moment upon the bridge. 'The
islands,' said he, 'that lie so fresh and green before thee, amid
with which the whole face of the ocean appears spotted as far as
thou canst see, are more in number than the sands on the sea-shore:
there are myriads of islands behind those which thou here
discoverest, reaching further than thine eye, or even thine
imagination can extend itself. These are the mansions of good men
after death, who, according to the degree and kinds of virtue in
which they excelled, are distributed among those several islands,
which abound with pleasures of different kinds and degrees, suitable
to the relishes and perfections of those who are settled in them:
every island is a paradise accommodated to its respective
inhabitants. Are not these, O Mirza, habitations worth contending
for? Does life appear miserable that gives thee opportunities of
earning such a reward? Is death to be feared that will convey thee
to so happy an existence? Think not man was made in vain, who has
such an Eternity reserved for him.' I gazed with inexpressible
pleasure on these happy islands. At length, said I, 'Show me now, I
beseech thee, the secrets that lie hid under those dark clouds which
cover the ocean on the other side of the rock of adamant.' The
genius making me no answer, I turned about to address myself to him
a second time, but I found that he had left me; I then turned again
to the vision which I had been so long contemplating: but instead
of the rolling tide, the arched bridge, and the happy islands, I saw
nothing but the long hollow valley of Bagdad, with oxen, sheep, and
camels grazing upon the sides of it."


- Cui mens divinior, atque os
Magna sonaturum des nominis hujus honorem.
HOR., Sat. i. 4, 43.

On him confer the poet's sacred name,
Whose lofty voice declares the heavenly flame.

There is no character more frequently given to a writer than that of
being a genius. I have heard many a little sonneteer called a fine
genius. There is not a heroic scribbler in the nation that has not
his admirers who think him a great genius; and as for your
smatterers in tragedy, there is scarce a man among them who is not
cried up by one or other for a prodigious genius.

My design in this paper is to consider what is properly a great
genius, and to throw some thoughts together on so uncommon a

Among great geniuses those few draw the admiration of all the world
upon them, and stand up as the prodigies of mankind, who, by the
mere strength of natural parts, and without any assistance of art or
learning, have produced works that were the delight of their own
times and the wonder of posterity. There appears something nobly
wild and extravagant in these great natural geniuses, that is
infinitely more beautiful than all turn and polishing of what the
French call a bel esprit, by which they would express a genius
refined by conversation, reflection, and the reading of the most
polite authors. The greatest genius which runs through the arts and
sciences takes a kind of tincture from them and falls unavoidably
into imitation.

Many of these great natural geniuses, that were never disciplined
and broken by rules of art, are to be found among the ancients, and
in particular among those of the more Eastern parts of the world.
Homer has innumerable flights that Virgil was not able to reach, and
in the Old Testament we find several passages more elevated and
sublime than any in Homer. At the same time that we allow a greater
and more daring genius to the ancients, we must own that the
greatest of them very much failed in, or, if you will, that they
were much above the nicety and correctness of the moderns. In their
similitudes and allusions, provided there was a likeness, they did
not much trouble themselves about the decency of the comparison:
thus Solomon resembles the nose of his beloved to the tower of
Lebanon which looketh towards Damascus, as the coming of a thief in
the night is a similitude of the same kind in the New Testament. It
would be endless to make collections of this nature. Homer
illustrates one of his heroes encompassed with the enemy, by an ass
in a field of corn that has his sides belaboured by all the boys of
the village without stirring a foot for it; and another of them
tossing to and fro in his bed, and burning with resentment, to a
piece of flesh broiled on the coals. This particular failure in the
ancients opens a large field of raillery to the little wits, who can
laugh at an indecency, but not relish the sublime in these sorts of
writings. The present Emperor of Persia, conformable to this
Eastern way of thinking, amidst a great many pompous titles,
denominates himself "the sun of glory" and "the nutmeg of delight."
In short, to cut off all cavilling against the ancients, and
particularly those of the warmer climates, who had most heat and
life in their imaginations, we are to consider that the rule of
observing what the French call the bienseance in an allusion has
been found out of later years, and in the colder regions of the
world, where we could make some amends for our want of force and
spirit by a scrupulous nicety and exactness in our compositions.
Our countryman Shakespeare was a remarkable instance of this first
kind of great geniuses.

I cannot quit this head without observing that Pindar was a great
genius of the first class, who was hurried on by a natural fire and
impetuosity to vast conceptions of things and noble sallies of
imagination. At the same time can anything be more ridiculous than
for men of a sober and moderate fancy to imitate this poet's way of
writing in those monstrous compositions which go among us under the
name of Pindarics? When I see people copying works which, as Horace
has represented them, are singular in their kind, and inimitable;
when I see men following irregularities by rule, and by the little
tricks of art straining after the most unbounded flights of nature,
I cannot but apply to them that passage in Terence:

- Incerta haec si tu postules
Ratione certa facere, nihilo plus agas
Quam si des operam, ut cum ratione insanias.
Eun., Act I., Sc. 1, I. 16.

You may as well pretend to be mad and in your senses at the same
time, as to think of reducing these uncertain things to any
certainty by reason.

In short, a modern Pindaric writer compared with Pindar is like a
sister among the Camisars compared with Virgil's Sibyl; there is the
distortion, grimace, and outward figure, but nothing of that divine
impulse which raises the mind above itself, and makes the sounds
more than human.

There is another kind of great geniuses which I shall place in a
second class, not as I think them inferior to the first, but only
for distinction's sake, as they are of a different kind. This
second class of great geniuses are those that have formed themselves
by rules, and submitted the greatness of their natural talents to
the corrections and restraints of art. Such among the Greeks were
Plato and Aristotle; among the Romans, Virgil and Tully; among the
English, Milton and Sir Francis Bacon.

The genius in both these classes of authors may be equally great,
but shows itself after a different manner. In the first it is like
a rich soil in a happy climate, that produces a whole wilderness of
noble plants rising in a thousand beautiful landscapes without any
certain order or regularity; in the other it is the same rich soil,
under the same happy climate, that has been laid out in walks and
parterres, and cut into shape and beauty by the skill of the

The great danger in these latter kind of geniuses is lest they cramp
their own abilities too much by imitation, and form themselves
altogether upon models, without giving the full play to their own
natural parts. An imitation of the best authors is not to compare
with a good original; and I believe we may observe that very few
writers make an extraordinary figure in the world who have not
something in their way of thinking or expressing themselves, that is
peculiar to them, and entirely their own.

It is odd to consider what great geniuses are sometimes thrown away
upon trifles.

"I once saw a shepherd," says a famous Italian author, "who used to
divert himself in his solitudes with tossing up eggs and catching
them again without breaking them; in which he had arrived to so
great a degree of perfection that he would keep up four at a time
for several minutes together playing in the air, and falling into
his hand by turns. I think," says the author, "I never saw a
greater severity than in this man's face, for by his wonderful
perseverance and application he had contracted the seriousness and
gravity of a privy councillor, and I could not but reflect with
myself that the same assiduity and attention, had they been rightly
applied, 'might' have made a greater mathematician than Archimedes."


Illa; Quis et me, inquit, miseram et te perdidit, Orpheu? -
Jamque vale: feror ingenti circumdata nocte,
Invalidasque tibi tendens, heu! non tua, palmas.
VIRG., Georg., iv. 494.

Then thus the bride: "What fury seiz'd on thee,
'Unhappy man! to lose thyself and me? -
And now farewell! involv'd in shades of night,
For ever I am ravish'd from thy sight:
In vain I reach my feeble hands, to join
In sweet embraces--ah! no longer thine!"

Constantia was a woman of extraordinary wit and beauty, but very
unhappy in a father who, having arrived at great riches by his own
industry, took delight in nothing but his money. Theodosius was the
younger son of a decayed family, of great parts and learning,
improved by a genteel and virtuous education. When he was in the
twentieth year of his age he became acquainted with Constantia, who
had not then passed her fifteenth. As he lived but a few miles
distant from her father's house, he had frequent opportunities of
seeing her; and, by the advantages of a good person and a pleasing
conversation, made such an impression in her heart as it was
impossible for time to efface. He was himself no less smitten with
Constantia. A long acquaintance made them still discover new
beauties in each other, and by degrees raised in them that mutual
passion which had an influence on their following lives. It
unfortunately happened that, in the midst of this intercourse of
love and friendship between Theodosius and Constantia, there broke
out an irreparable quarrel between their parents; the one valuing
himself too much upon his birth, and the other upon his possessions.
The father of Constantia was so incensed at the father of
Theodosius, that he contracted an unreasonable aversion towards his
son, insomuch that he forbade him his house, and charged his
daughter upon her duty never to see him more. In the meantime, to
break off all communication between the two lovers, who he knew
entertained secret hopes of some favourable opportunity that should
bring them together, he found out a young gentleman of a good
fortune and an agreeable person, whom he pitched upon as a husband
for his daughter. He soon concerted this affair so well, that he
told Constantia it was his design to marry her to such a gentleman,
and that her wedding should be celebrated on such a day.
Constantia, who was overawed with the authority of her father, and
unable to object anything against so advantageous a match, received
the proposal with a profound silence, which her father commended in
her, as the most decent manner of a virgin's giving her consent to
an overture of that kind. The noise of this intended marriage soon
reached Theodosius, who, after a long tumult of passions which
naturally rise in a lover's heart on such an occasion, wrote the
following letter to Constantia:-

"The thought of my Constantia, which for some years has been my only
happiness, is now become a greater torment to me than I am able to
bear. Must I then live to see you another's? The streams, the
fields, and meadows, where we have so often talked together, grow
painful to me; life itself is become a burden. May you long be
happy in the world, but forget that there was ever such a man in it


This letter was conveyed to Constantia that very evening, who
fainted at the reading of it; and the next morning she was much more
alarmed by two or three messengers that came to her father's house,
one after another, to inquire if they had heard anything of
Theodosius, who, it seems, had left his chamber about midnight, and
could nowhere be found. The deep melancholy which had hung upon his
mind some time before made them apprehend the worst that could
befall him. Constantia, who knew that nothing but the report of her
marriage could have driven him to such extremities, was not to he
comforted. She now accused herself for having so tamely given an
ear to the proposal of a husband, and looked upon the new lover as
the murderer of Theodosius. In short, she resolved to suffer the
utmost effects of her father's displeasure rather than comply with a
marriage which appeared to her so full of guilt and horror. The
father, seeing himself entirely rid of Theodosius, and likely to
keep a considerable portion in his family, was not very much
concerned at the obstinate refusal of his daughter, and did not find
it very difficult to excuse himself upon that account to his
intended son-in-law, who had all along regarded this alliance rather
as a marriage of convenience than of love. Constantia had now no
relief but in her devotions and exercises of religion, to which her
affections had so entirely subjected her mind, that after some years
had abated the violence of her sorrows, and settled her thoughts in
a kind of tranquillity, she resolved to pass the remainder of her
days in a convent. Her father was not displeased with a resolution
which would save money in his family, and readily complied with his
daughter's intentions. Accordingly, in the twenty-fifth year of her
age, while her beauty was yet in all its height and bloom, he
carried her to a neighbouring city, in order to look out a
sisterhood of nuns among whom to place his daughter. There was in
this place a father of a convent who was very much renowned for his
piety and exemplary life: and as it is usual in the Romish Church
for those who are under any great affliction, or trouble of mind, to
apply themselves to the most eminent confessors for pardon and
consolation, our beautiful votary took the opportunity of confessing
herself to this celebrated father.

We must now return to Theodosius, who, the very morning that the
above-mentioned inquiries had been made after him, arrived at a
religious house in the city where now Constantia resided; and
desiring that secrecy and concealment of the fathers of the convent,
which is very usual upon any extraordinary occasion, he made himself
one of the order, with a private vow never to inquire after
Constantia; whom he looked upon as given away to his rival upon the
day on which, according to common fame, their marriage was to have
been solemnised. Having in his youth made a good progress in
learning, that he might dedicate himself more entirely to religion,
he entered into holy orders, and in a few years became renowned for
his sanctity of life, and those pious sentiments which he inspired
into all who conversed with him. It was this holy man to whom
Constantia had determined to apply herself in confession, though
neither she nor any other, besides the prior of the convent, knew
anything of his name or family. The gay, the amiable Theodosius had
now taken upon him the name of Father Francis, and was so far
concealed in a long beard, a shaven head, and a religious habit,
that it was impossible to discover the man of the world in the
venerable conventual.

As he was one morning shut up in his confessional, Constantia
kneeling by him opened the state of her soul to him; and after
having given him the history of a life full of innocence, she burst
out into tears, and entered upon that part of her story in which he
himself had so great a share. "My behaviour," says she, "has, I
fear, been the death of a man who had no other fault but that of
loving me too much. Heaven only knows how dear he was to me whilst
he lived, and how bitter the remembrance of him has been to me since
his death." She here paused, and lifted up her eyes that streamed
with tears towards the father, who was so moved with the sense of
her sorrows that he could only command his voice, which was broken
with sighs and sobbings, so far as to bid her proceed. She followed
his directions, and in a flood of tears poured out her heart before
him. The father could not forbear weeping aloud, insomuch that, in
the agonies of his grief, the seat shook under him. Constantia, who
thought the good man was thus moved by his compassion towards her,
and by the horror of her guilt, proceeded with the utmost contrition
to acquaint him with that vow of virginity in which she was going to
engage herself, as the proper atonement for her sins, and the only
sacrifice she could make to the memory of Theodosius. The father,
who by this time had pretty well composed himself, burst out again
in tears upon hearing that name to which he had been so long
disused, and upon receiving this instance of an unparalleled
fidelity from one who he thought had several years since given
herself up to the possession of another. Amidst the interruptions
of his sorrow, seeing his penitent overwhelmed with grief, he was
only able to bid her from time to time be comforted--to tell her
that her sins were forgiven her--that her guilt was not so great as
she apprehended--that she should not suffer herself to be afflicted
above measure. After which he recovered himself enough to give her
the absolution in form: directing her at the same time to repair to
him again the next day, that he might encourage her in the pious
resolution she had taken, and give her suitable exhortations for her
behaviour in it. Constantia retired, and the next morning renewed
her applications. Theodosius, having manned his soul with proper
thoughts and reflections, exerted himself on this occasion in the
best manner he could to animate his penitent in the course of life
she was entering upon, and wear out of her mind those groundless
fears and apprehensions which had taken possession of it; concluding
with a promise to her, that he would from time to time continue his
admonitions when she should have taken upon her the holy veil. "The
rules of our respective orders," says he, "will not permit that I
should see you; but you may assure yourself not only of having a
place in my prayers, but of receiving such frequent instructions as
I can convey to you by letters. Go on cheerfully in the glorious
course you have undertaken, and you will quickly find such a peace
and satisfaction in your mind which it is not in the power of the
world to give."

Constantia's heart was so elevated within the discourse of Father
Francis, that the very next day she entered upon her vow. As soon
as the solemnities of her reception were over, she retired, as it is
usual, with the abbess into her own apartment.

The abbess had been informed the night before of all that had passed
between her novitiate and father Francis: from whom she now
delivered to her the following letter:-

"As the first-fruits of those joys and consolations which you may
expect from the life you are now engaged in, I must acquaint you
that Theodosius, whose death sits so heavy upon your thoughts, is
still alive; and that the father to whom you have confessed yourself
was once that Theodosius whom you so much lament. The love which we
have had for one another will make us more happy in its
disappointment than it could have done in its success. Providence
has disposed of us for our advantage, though not according to our
wishes. Consider your Theodosius still as dead, but assure yourself
of one who will not cease to pray for you in father


Constantia saw that the handwriting agreed with the contents of the
letter; and, upon reflecting on the voice of the person, the
behaviour, and above all the extreme sorrow of the father during her
confession, she discovered Theodosius in every particular. After
having wept with tears of joy, "It is enough," says she; "Theodosius
is still in being: I shall live with comfort and die in peace."

The letters which the father sent her afterwards are yet extant in
the nunnery where she resided; and are often read to the young
religious, in order to inspire them with good resolutions and
sentiments of virtue. It so happened that after Constantia had
lived about ten years in the cloister, a violent fever broke out in
the place, which swept away great multitudes, and among others
Theodosius. Upon his death-bed he sent his benediction in a very
moving manner to Constantia, who at that time was herself so far
gone in the same fatal distemper that she lay delirious. Upon the
interval which generally precedes death in sickness of this nature,
the abbess, finding that the physicians had given her over, told her
that Theodosius had just gone before her, and that he had sent her
his benediction in his last moments. Constantia received it with
pleasure. "And now," says she, "if I do not ask anything improper,
let me be buried by Theodosius. My vow reaches no further than the
grave; what I ask is, I hope, no violation of it." She died soon
after, and was interred according to her request.

The tombs are still to be seen, with a short Latin inscription over
them to the following purpose:-

"Here lie the bodies of Father Francis and Sister Constance. They
were lovely in their lives, and in their death they were not


Sic vita erat: facile omnes perferre ac pati:
Cum quibus erat cunque una, his sese dedere,
Eorum obsequi studiis: advorsus nemini;
Nunquam praeponens se aliis. Ita facillime
Sine invidia invenias laudem. -
TER., Andr., Act i. se. 1.

His manner of life was this: to bear with everybody's humours; to
comply with the inclinations and pursuits of those he conversed
with; to contradict nobody; never to assume a superiority over
others. This is the ready way to gain applause without exciting

Man is subject to innumerable pains and sorrows by the very
condition of humanity, and yet, as if Nature had not sown evils
enough in life, we are continually adding grief to grief, and
aggravating the common calamity by our cruel treatment of one
another. Every man's natural weight of affliction is still made
more heavy by the envy, malice, treachery, or injustice of his
neighbour. At the same time that the storm beats on the whole
species, we are falling foul upon one another.

Half the misery of human life might be extinguished, would men
alleviate the general curse they lie under, by mutual offices of
compassion, benevolence, and humanity. There is nothing, therefore,
which we ought more to encourage in ourselves and others, than that
disposition of mind which in our language goes under the title of
good nature, and which I shall choose for the subject of this day's

Good-nature is more agreeable in conversation than wit, and gives a
certain air to the countenance which is more amiable than beauty.
It shows virtue in the fairest light, takes off in some measure from
the deformity of vice, and makes even folly and impertinence

There is no society or conversation to be kept up in the world
without good nature, or something which must bear its appearance,
and supply its place. For this reason, mankind have been forced to
invent a kind of artificial humanity, which is what we express by
the word good-breeding. For if we examine thoroughly the idea of
what we call so, we shall find it to be nothing else but an
imitation and mimicry of good nature, or, in other terms,
affability, complaisance, and easiness of temper, reduced into an
art. These exterior shows and appearances of humanity render a man
wonderfully popular and beloved, when they are founded upon a real
good nature; but, without it, are like hypocrisy in religion, or a
bare form of holiness, which, when it is discovered, makes a man
more detestable than professed impiety.

Good-nature is generally born with us: health, prosperity, and kind
treatment from the world, are great cherishers of it where they find
it; but nothing is capable of forcing it up, where it does not grow
of itself. It is one of the blessings of a happy constitution,
which education may improve, but not produce.

Xenophon, in the life of his imaginary prince whom he describes as a
pattern for real ones, is always celebrating the philanthropy and
good nature of his hero, which he tells us he brought into the world
with him; and gives many remarkable instances of it in his
childhood, as well as in all the several parts of his life. Nay, on
his death-bed, he describes him as being pleased, that while his
soul returned to Him who made it, his body should incorporate with
the great mother of all things, and by that means become beneficial
to mankind. For which reason, he gives his sons a positive order
not to enshrine it in gold or silver, but to lay it in the earth as
soon as the life was gone out of it.

An instance of such an overflowing of humanity, such an exuberant
love to mankind, could not have entered into the imagination of a
writer who had not a soul filled with great ideas, and a general
benevolence to mankind.

In that celebrated passage of Sallust, where Caesar and Cato are
placed in such beautiful but opposite lights, Caesar's character is
chiefly made up of good nature, as it showed itself in all its forms
towards his friends or his enemies, his servants or dependents, the
guilty or the distressed. As for Cato's character, it is rather
awful than amiable. Justice seems most agreeable to the nature of
God, and mercy to that of man. A Being who has nothing to pardon in
Himself, may reward every man according to his works; but he whose
very best actions must be seen with grains of allowance, cannot be
too mild, moderate, and forgiving. For this reason, among all the
monstrous characters in human nature, there is none so odious, nor
indeed so exquisitely ridiculous, as that of a rigid, severe temper
in a worthless man.

This part of good nature however, which consists in the pardoning
and overlooking of faults, is to be exercised only in doing
ourselves justice, and that too in the ordinary commerce and
occurrences of life; for, in the public administrations of justice,
mercy to one may be cruelty to others.

It is grown almost into a maxim, that good-natured men are not
always men of the most wit. This observation, in my opinion, has no
foundation in nature. The greatest wits I have conversed with are
men eminent for their humanity. I take, therefore, this remark to
have been occasioned by two reasons. First, because ill-nature
among ordinary observers passes for wit. A spiteful saying
gratifies so many little passions in those who hear it, that it
generally meets with a good reception. The laugh rises upon it, and
the man who utters it is looked upon as a shrewd satirist. This may
be one reason why a great many pleasant companions appear so
surprisingly dull when they have endeavoured to be merry in print;
the public being more just than private clubs or assemblies, in
distinguishing between what is wit and what is ill-nature.

Another reason why the good-natured man may sometimes bring his wit
in question is perhaps because he is apt to be moved with compassion
for those misfortunes or infirmities which another would turn into
ridicule, and by that means gain the reputation of a wit. The ill-
natured man, though but of equal parts, gives himself a larger field
to expatiate in; he exposes those failings in human nature which the
other would cast a veil over, laughs at vices which the other either
excuses or conceals, gives utterance to reflections which the other
stifles, falls indifferently upon friends or enemies, exposes the
person who has obliged him, and, in short, sticks at nothing that
may establish his character as a wit. It is no wonder, therefore,
he succeeds in it better than the man of humanity, as a person who
makes use of indirect methods is more likely to grow rich than the
fair trader.


- Quis enim bonus, aut face dignus
Arcana, qualem Cereris vult esse sacerdos,
Ulla aliena sibi credat mala? -
JUV., Sat. xv. 140.

Who can all sense of others' ills escape,
Is but a brute, at best, in human shape.

In one of my last week's papers, I treated of good-nature as it is
the effect of constitution; I shall now speak of it as it is a moral
virtue. The first may make a man easy in himself and agreeable to
others, but implies no merit in him that is possessed of it. A man
is no more to be praised upon this account, than because he has a
regular pulse or a good digestion. This good nature, however, in
the constitution, which Mr. Dryden somewhere calls "a milkiness of
blood," is an admirable groundwork for the other. In order,
therefore, to try our good-nature, whether it arises from the body
or the mind, whether it be founded in the animal or rational part of
our nature; in a word, whether it be such as is entitled to any
other reward besides that secret satisfaction and contentment of
mind which is essential to it, and the kind reception it procures us
in the world, we must examine it by the following rules:

First, whether it acts with steadiness and uniformity in sickness
and in health, in prosperity and in adversity; if otherwise, it is
to be looked upon as nothing else but an irradiation of the mind
from some new supply of spirits, or a more kindly circulation of the
blood. Sir Francis Bacon mentions a cunning solicitor, who would
never ask a favour of a great man before dinner; but took care to
prefer his petition at a time when the party petitioned had his mind
free from care, and his appetites in good humour. Such a transient
temporary good-nature as this, is not that philanthropy, that love
of mankind, which deserves the title of a moral virtue.

The next way of a man's bringing his good-nature to the test is to
consider whether it operates according to the rules of reason and
duty: for if, notwithstanding its general benevolence to mankind,
it makes no distinction between its objects; if it exerts itself
promiscuously towards the deserving and the undeserving; if it
relieves alike the idle and the indigent; if it gives itself up to
the first petitioner, and lights upon any one rather by accident
than choice--it may pass for an amiable instinct, but must not
assume the name of a moral virtue.

The third trial of good-nature will be the examining ourselves
whether or no we are able to exert it to our own disadvantage, and
employ it on proper objects, notwithstanding any little pain, want,
or inconvenience, which may arise to ourselves from it: in a word,
whether we are willing to risk any part of our fortune, our
reputation, our health or ease, for the benefit of mankind. Among
all these expressions of good nature, I shall single out that which
goes under the general name of charity, as it consists in relieving
the indigent: that being a trial of this kind which offers itself
to us almost at all times and in every place.

I should propose it as a rule, to every one who is provided with any
competency of fortune more than sufficient for the necessaries of
life, to lay aside a certain portion of his income for the use of
the poor. This I would look upon as an offering to Him who has a
right to the whole, for the use of those whom, in the passage
hereafter mentioned, He has described as His own representatives
upon earth. At the same time, we should manage our charity with
such prudence and caution, that we may not hurt our own friends or
relations whilst we are doing good to those who are strangers to us.

This may possibly be explained better by an example than by a rule.

Eugenius is a man of a universal good nature, and generous beyond
the extent of his fortune; but withal so prudent in the economy of
his affairs, that what goes out in charity is made up by good
management. Eugenius has what the world calls two hundred pounds a
year; but never values himself above nine-score, as not thinking he
has a right to the tenth part, which he always appropriates to
charitable uses. To this sum he frequently makes other voluntary
additions, insomuch, that in a good year--for such he accounts those
in which he has been able to make greater bounties than ordinary--he
has given above twice that sum to the sickly and indigent. Eugenius
prescribes to himself many particular days of fasting and
abstinence, in order to increase his private bank of charity, and
sets aside what would be the current expenses of those times for the
use of the poor. He often goes afoot where his business calls him,
and at the end of his walk has given a shilling, which in his
ordinary methods of expense would have gone for coach-hire, to the
first necessitous person that has fallen in his way. I have known
him, when he has been going to a play or an opera, divert the money
which was designed for that purpose upon an object of charity whom
he has met with in the street; and afterwards pass his evening in a
coffee-house, or at a friend's fireside, with much greater
satisfaction to himself than he could have received from the most
exquisite entertainments of the theatre. By these means he is
generous without impoverishing himself, and enjoys his estate by
making it the property of others.

There are few men so cramped in their private affairs, who may not
be charitable after this manner, without any disadvantage to
themselves, or prejudice to their families. It is but sometimes
sacrificing a diversion or convenience to the poor, and turning the
usual course of our expenses into a better channel. This is, I
think, not only the most prudent and convenient, but the most
meritorious piece of charity which we can put in practice. By this
method, we in some measure share the necessities of the poor at the
same time that we relieve them, and make ourselves not only their
patrons, but their fellow-sufferers.

Sir Thomas Brown, in the last part of his "Religio Medici," in which
he describes his charity in several heroic instances, and with a
noble heat of sentiments, mentions that verse in the Proverbs of
Solomon: "He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord." There
is more rhetoric in that one sentence, says he, than in a library of
sermons; and indeed, if those sentences were understood by the
reader with the same emphasis as they are delivered by the author,
we needed not those volumes of instructions, but might be honest by
an epitome.

This passage of Scripture is, indeed, wonderfully persuasive; but I
think the same thought is carried much further in the New Testament,
where our Saviour tells us, in a most pathetic manner, that he shall
hereafter regard the clothing of the naked, the feeding of the
hungry, and the visiting of the imprisoned, as offices done to
Himself, and reward them accordingly. Pursuant to those passages in
Holy Scripture, I have somewhere met with the epitaph of a
charitable man, which has very much pleased me. I cannot recollect
the words, but the sense of it is to this purpose: What I spent I
lost; what I possessed is left to others; what I gave away remains
with me.

Since I am thus insensibly engaged in Sacred Writ, I cannot forbear
making an extract of several passages which I have always read with
great delight in the book of Job. It is the account which that holy
man gives of his behaviour in the days of his prosperity; and, if
considered only as a human composition, is a finer picture of a
charitable and good-natured man than is to be met with in any other

"Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved
me: When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I
walked through darkness: When the Almighty was yet with me; when my
children were about me: When I washed my steps with butter, and the
rock poured me out rivers of oil.

"When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me,
it gave witness to me. Because I delivered the poor that cried, and
the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of
him that was ready to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow's
heart to sing for joy. I was eyes to the blind; and feet was I to
the lame; I was a father to the poor, and the cause which I knew not
I searched out. Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? Was
not my soul grieved for the poor? Let me be weighed in an even
balance, that God may know mine integrity. If I did despise the
cause of my man-servant or of my maid-servant when they contended
with me: What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he
visiteth, what shall I answer him? Did not he that made me in the
womb, make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb? If I have
withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the
widow to fail; Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the
fatherless hath not eaten thereof; If I have seen any perish for
want of clothing, or any poor without covering; If his loins have
not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my
sheep; If I have lifted my hand against the fatherless, when I saw
my help in the gate: Then let mine arm fall from my shoulder-blade,
and mine arm be broken from the bone. If I [have] rejoiced at the
destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil
found him: Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin, by wishing a
curse to his soul. The stranger did not lodge in the street; but I
opened my doors to the traveller. If my land cry against me, or
that the furrows likewise thereof complain: If I have eaten the
fruits thereof without money, or have caused the owners thereof to
lose their life: Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle
instead of barley."


- Remove fera monstra, tuaeque
Saxificos vultus, quaecunque ea, tolle Medusae.
OVID, Met. v. 216.

Hence with those monstrous features, and, O! spare
That Gorgon's look, and petrifying stare.

In a late paper, I mentioned the project of an ingenious author for
the erecting of several handicraft prizes to be contended for by our
British artisans, and the influence they might have towards the
improvement of our several manufactures. I have since that been
very much surprised by the following advertisement, which I find in
the Post-boy of the 11th instant, and again repeated in the Post-boy
of the 15th:-

"On the 9th of October next will be run for upon Coleshill-heath, in
Warwickshire, a plate of six guineas value, three heats, by any
horse, mare, or gelding that hath not won above the value of 5
pounds, the winning horse to be sold for 10 pounds, to carry 10
stone weight, if 14 hands high; if above or under, to carry or be
allowed weight for inches, and to be entered Friday, the 5th, at the
Swan in Coleshill, before six in the evening. Also, a plate of less
value to be run for by asses. The same day a gold ring to be
grinn'd for by men."

The first of these diversions that is to be exhibited by the 10
pounds race-horses, may probably have its use; but the two last, in
which the asses and men are concerned, seem to me altogether
extraordinary and unaccountable. Why they should keep running asses
at Coleshill, or how making mouths turns to account in Warwickshire,
more than in any other parts of England, I cannot comprehend. I
have looked over all the Olympic games, and do not find anything in
them like an ass-race, or a match at grinning. However it be, I am
informed that several asses are now kept in body-clothes, and
sweated every morning upon the heath: and that all the country-
fellows within ten miles of the Swan grin an hour or two in their
glasses every morning, in order to qualify themselves for the 9th of
October. The prize which is proposed to be grinned for has raised
such an ambition among the common people of out-grinning one
another, that many very discerning persons are afraid it should
spoil most of the faces in the county; and that a Warwickshire man
will be known by his grin, as Roman Catholics imagine a Kentish man
is by his tail. The gold ring which is made the prize of deformity,
is just the reverse of the golden apple that was formerly made the
prize of beauty, and should carry for its poesy the old motto

Detur tetriori.

Or, to accommodate it to the capacity of the combatants,

The frightfull'st grinner
Be the winner.

In the meanwhile I would advise a Dutch painter to be present at
this great controversy of faces, in order to make a collection of
the most remarkable grins that shall be there exhibited.

I must not here omit an account which I lately received of one of
these grinning matches from a gentleman, who, upon reading the
above-mentioned advertisement, entertained a coffee-house with the
following narrative:- Upon the taking of Namur, amidst other public
rejoicings made on that occasion, there was a gold ring given by a
Whig justice of peace to be grinned for. The first competitor that
entered the lists was a black, swarthy Frenchman, who accidentally
passed that way, and being a man naturally of a withered look and
hard features, promised himself good success. He was placed upon a
table in the great point of view, and, looking upon the company like
Milton's Death,

Grinned horribly a ghastly smile.

His muscles were so drawn together on each side of his face that he
showed twenty teeth at a grin, and put the country in some pain lest
a foreigner should carry away the honour of the day; but upon a
further trial they found he was master only of the merry grin.

The next that mounted the table was a malcontent in those days, and
a great master in the whole art of grinning, but particularly
excelled in the angry grin. He did his part so well that he is said
to have made half a dozen women miscarry; but the justice being
apprised by one who stood near him that the fellow who grinned in
his face was a Jacobite, and being unwilling that a disaffected
person should win the gold ring, and be looked upon as the best
grinner in the county, he ordered the oaths to be tendered unto him
upon his quitting the table, which the grinner refusing, he was set
aside as an unqualified person. There were several other grotesque
figures that presented themselves, which it would be too tedious to
describe. I must not, however, omit a ploughman, who lived in the
further part of the county, and being very lucky in a pair of long
lantern jaws, wrung his face into such a hideous grimace that every
feature of it appeared under a different distortion. The whole
company stood astonished at such a complicated grin, and were ready
to assign the prize to him, had it not been proved by one of his
antagonists that he had practised with verjuice for some days
before, and had a crab found upon him at the very time of grinning;
upon which the best judges of grinning declared it as their opinion
that he was not to be looked upon as a fair grinner, and therefore
ordered him to be set aside as a cheat.

The prize, it seems, fell at length upon a cobbler, Giles Gorgon by
name, who produced several new grins of his own invention, having
been used to cut faces for many years together over his last. At
the very first grin he cast every human feature out of his
countenance; at the second he became the face of spout; at the third
a baboon; at the fourth the head of a bass-viol; and at the fifth a
pair of nut-crackers. The whole assembly wondered at his
accomplishments, and bestowed the ring on him unanimously; but what
he esteemed more than all the rest, a country wench, whom he had
wooed in vain for above five years before, was so charmed with his
grins and the applauses which he received on all sides, that she
married him the week following, and to this day wears the prize upon
her finger, the cobbler having made use of it as his wedding ring.

This paper might perhaps seem very impertinent if it grew serious in
the conclusion. I would, nevertheless, leave it to the
consideration of those who are the patrons of this monstrous trial
of skill, whether or no they are not guilty, in some measure, of an
affront to their species in treating after this manner the "human
face divine," and turning that part of us, which has so great an
image impressed upon it, into the image of a monkey; whether the
raising such silly competitions among the ignorant, proposing prizes
for such useless accomplishments, filling the common people's heads
with such senseless ambitions, and inspiring them with such absurd
ideas of superiority and pre-eminence, has not in it something
immoral as well as ridiculous.


Si fractus illabatur orbis,
Impavidum ferient ruinae.
- HOR., Car. iii. 3, 7.

Should the whole frame of nature round him break,
In ruin and confusion hurled,
He, unconcerned, would hear the mighty crack,
And stand secure amidst a falling world.

Man, considered in himself, is a very helpless and a very wretched
being. He is subject every moment to the greatest calamities and
misfortunes. He is beset with dangers on all sides, and may become
unhappy by numberless casualties which he could not foresee, nor
have prevented had he foreseen them.

It is our comfort, while we are obnoxious to so many accidents, that
we are under the care of One who directs contingencies, and has in
His hands the management of everything that is capable of annoying
or offending us; who knows the assistance we stand in need of, and
is always ready to bestow it on those who ask it of Him.

The natural homage which such a creature bears to so infinitely wise
and good a Being is a firm reliance on Him for the blessings and
conveniences of life, and an habitual trust in Him for deliverance
out of all such dangers and difficulties as may befall us.

The man who always lives in this disposition of mind has not the
same dark and melancholy views of human nature as he who considers
himself abstractedly from this relation to the Supreme Being. At
the same time that he reflects upon his own weakness and
imperfection he comforts himself with the contemplation of those
Divine attributes which are employed for his safety and his welfare.
He finds his want of foresight made up by the Omniscience of Him who
is his support. He is not sensible of his own want of strengths
when he knows that his helper is almighty. In short, the person who
has a firm trust on the Supreme Being is powerful in His power, wise
by His wisdom, happy by His happiness. He reaps the benefit of
every Divine attribute, and loses his own insufficiency in the
fulness of infinite perfection.

To make our lives more easy to us, we are commanded to put our trust
in Him, who is thus able to relieve and succour us; the Divine
goodness having made such reliance a duty, notwithstanding we should
have been miserable had it been forbidden us.

Among several motives which might be made use of to recommend this
duty to us, I shall only take notice of these that follow.

The first and strongest is, that we are promised He will not fail
those who put their trust in Him.

But without considering the supernatural blessing which accompanies
this duty, we may observe that it has a natural tendency to its own
reward, or, in other words, that this firm trust and confidence in
the great Disposer of all things contributes very much to the
getting clear of any affliction, or to the bearing it manfully. A
person who believes he has his succour at hand, and that he acts in
the sight of his friend, often exerts himself beyond his abilities,
and does wonders that are not to be matched by one who is not
animated with such a confidence of success. I could produce
instances from history of generals who, out of a belief that they
were under the protection of some invisible assistant, did not only
encourage their soldiers to do their utmost, but have acted
themselves beyond what they would have done had they not been
inspired by such a belief. I might in the same manner show how such
a trust in the assistance of an Almighty Being naturally produces
patience, hope, cheerfulness, and all other dispositions of the mind
that alleviate those calamities which we are not able to remove.

The practice of this virtue administers great comfort to the mind of
man in times of poverty and affliction, but most of all in the hour
of death. When the soul is hovering in the last moments of its
separation, when it is just entering on another state of existence,
to converse with scenes, and objects, and companions, that are
altogether new--what can support her under such tremblings of
thought, such fear, such anxiety, such apprehensions, but the
casting of all her cares upon Him who first gave her being, who has
conducted her through one stage of it, and will be always with her,
to guide and comfort her in her progress through eternity?

David has very beautifully represented this steady reliance on God
Almighty in his twenty-third Psalm, which is a kind of pastoral
hymn, and filled with those allusions which are usual in that kind
of writing. As the poetry is very exquisite, I shall present my
reader with the following translation of it:


The Lord my pasture shall prepare,
And feed me with a shepherd's care;
His presence shall my wants supply,
And guard me with a watchful eye;
My noonday walks He shall attend,
And all my midnight hours defend.


When in the sultry glebe I faint,
Or on the thirsty mountain pant;
To fertile vales and dewy meads
My weary, wand'ring steps He leads;
Where peaceful rivers, soft and slow,
Amid the verdant landscape flow.


Though in the paths of death I tread,
With gloomy horrors overspread,
My steadfast heart shall fear no ill,
For thou, O Lord, art with me still;
Thy friendly crook shall give me aid,
And guide me through the dreadful shade.


Though in a bare and rugged way,
Through devious, lonely wilds I stray,
Thy bounty shall my pains beguile:
The barren wilderness shall smile
With sudden greens and herbage crowned,
And streams shall murmur all around.


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