« AnteriorContinuar »
crackling of parchments, made a very odd scene. The fire very often ran through two or three lines only, and then stopped. Though I could not but observe that the flames chiefly broke out
the interlineations and codicils; the light of the mirror, as it was turned up and down, pierced into all the dark corners and recesses of the universe, and by that means detected many writings and records which had been hidden'or buried by time, chance, or design. This occasioned a wonderful revolution among the people. At the same time the spoils of extortion, fraud, and robbery, with all the fruits of bribery and corruption, were thrown together into a prodigious pile that almost reached to the clouds, and was called, “ The mount of restitution;”. to which all injured persons were invited, to receive what belonged to them.
One might see crowds of people in tattered garments come up, and change clothes with others that were dressed with lace and embroidery. Several who were Plumbs, or very near it, became men of moderate fortunes; and many others, who were overgrown in wealth and possessions, had no more left than what they usually spent. What moved my concern most was, to see a certain street of the greatest credit in Europe from one end to the other become bankrupt.
The next command was, for the whole body of mankind to separate themselves into their proper families; which was no sooner done but an edict was issued out, requiring all children “ to repair to their true and natural fathers.” This put a great part of the assembly in motion; for as the mirror was moved over them, it inspired every one with such a natural instinct, as directed them to their real parents. It was a very melancholy spectacle to see the fathers of very large families become childless,
and bachelors undone by a charge of sons and daughters. You might see a presumptive heir of a great estate ask blessing of his coachman, and a celebrated toast paying her duty to a valet de chambre. Many, under the vow of celibacy, appeared surrounded with a numerous issue. This change of parentage would have caused great lamentation, but that the calamity was pretty common; and that generally those who lost their children, had the satisfaction of seeing them put into the hands of their dearest friends. Men were no sooner settled in their right to their possessions and their progeny, but there was a third order proclaimed, “That all the posts of dignity and honour in the universe should be conferred on persons of the greatest merit, abilities, and perfection." The handsome, the strong, and the wealthy, immediately pressed forward; but, not being able to bear the splendor of the mirror, which played upon their faces, they immediately fell back among the crowd; but as the goddess tried the mulitude by her glass, as the eagle does its young ones by the lustre of the sun,
it was remarkable, that every one turned away his face from it, who had not distinguished himself either by virtue, knowledge, or capacity in business, either military or civil. This select assembly was drawn up in the centre of a prodigious multitude, which was diffused on all sides, and stood observing them, as idle people used to gather about a regiment that are exercising their arms. They were drawn up
in three bodies: in the first, were the men of virtue; in the second, men of knowledge; and in the third, the men of business. It was impossible to look at the first column without a secret veneration, their aspects were so sweetened with humanity, raised with contemplation, emboldened with resolution, and adorned with the most agreeable airs, which are those
that proceed from secret habits of virtue. I could not but take notice, that there were many faces among them which were unknown, not only to the multitude, but even to several of their own body.
In the second column, consisting of the men of knowledge, there had been great disputes before they fell into ranks, which they did not do at last, without the positive command of the goddess who presided over the assembly. She had so ordered it, that men of the greatest genius and strongest sense, were placed at the head of the column. Behind these were such as had formed their minds very much on the thoughts and writings of others. In the rear of the column were men who had more wit than sense, or more learning than understanding. All living authors of any value were ranged in one of these classes; but I must confess, I was very much surprised to see a great body of editors, critics, commentators, and grammarians, meet with so very ill a reception. They had formed themselves into a body, and with a great deal of arrogance demanded the first station in the column of knowledge; but the goddess, instead of complying with their rquest, clapped them all into liveries, and bid them know themselves for no other but lacquies of the learned.
The third column were men of business, and consisted of persons in military and civil capacities. The former marched out from the rest, and placed themselves in the front; at which the others shook their heads at them, but did not think fit to dispute, the post with them. I could 'not but make several observations
upon this last column of people; but I have certain private reasons why I do not think fit to communicate them to the public. In order to fill
up all the posts of honour, dignity, and profit, there was a draught made out of each'column of men who were masters of all three qualifications in some degree, and were preferred to stations of the first rank. The second draught was made out of such as were possessed of any two of the qualifications, who were disposed of in stations of a second dignity. Those who were left, and were endowed only with one of them, had their suitable posts. When this was over, there remained many places of trust and profit unfilled, for which there were fresh draughts made out of the surrounding multitude, who had any appearance of these excellencies, or were recommended by those who possessed them in reality.
All were surprised to see so many new faces in the most eminent dignities; and for my own part, I was very well pleased to see that all my friends either kept their present posts, or were advanced to higher.
Having filled, my paper with those particulars of my vision which concern the male part of mankind, I must reserve for another occasion the sequel of it, which relates to the fair sex.
N° 101. THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1, 1709.
Postquam fregit subsellia versu,
Juv. Sat. vii. 87.
intended account of what happened when Justice visited mortals, is at present interrupted by the observation and sense of an injustice against which there is no remedy, even in a kingdom more happy in the care taken of the liberty and property of the subject, than any other nation upon earth. This iniquity is committed by a most impregnable set of mortals, men who are rogues within the law; and in the very commission of what they are guilty of, professedly own that they forbear no injury, but from the terror of being punished for it. These miscreants are a set of wretches we authors call pirates, who print any book, poem, or sermon, as soon as it appears in the world, in a smaller volume; and sell it, as all other thieves do stolen goods, at a cheaper rate. I was in my rage calling them rascals, plunderers, robbers, highwaymen. But they acknowledged all that, and are pleased with those, as well as any other titles; nay, will print them themselves to turn the penny.*
* This paper seems to have been occasioned by a pirated edition of " the Lucubrations,” which came out just at this