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N° 125. TUESDAY, AUGUST 4, 1713.
-Nunc formosissimus annus.-VIRG. Ecl. iii. 57.
EN of my age receive a greater pleasure from fine weather than from any other sensual enjoyment of life. In spite of the auxiliary bottle, or any artificial heat, we are apt to droop under a gloomy sky; and taste no luxury like a blue firmament, and sunshine. I have often, in a splenetic fit, wished myself a dormouse during the winter; and I never see one of those snug animals, wrapt up close in his fur, and compactly happy in himself, but I contemplate him with envy beneath the dignity of a philosopher. If the art of flying were brought to perfection, the use that I should make of it would be to attend the sun round the world, and pursue the spring through every sign of the Zodiac. This love of warmth makes my heart glad at the return of the spring. How amazing is the change in the face of nature; when the earth from being bound with frost, or covered with snow, begins to put forth her plants and flowers, to be clothed with green, diversified with ten thousand various dyes; and to exhale such fresh and charming odours, as fill every living creature with delight!
Full of thoughts like these, I make it a rule to lose as little as I can of that blessed season; and accordingly rise with the sun, and wander through the fields, throw myself on the banks of little rivulets, or lose myself in the woods. I spent a day or two this spring at a country gentleman's seat, where I feasted my imagination every morning with the most luxurious prospect I ever saw. I usually took my stand by the wall of an old castle built upon a high hill. A noble river ran at the foot of it, which after being broken by a heap of mishapen stones, glided away in a clear stream, and wandering through two woods on each side of it in many windings, shone here and there at a great distance through the trees. I could trace the mazes for some miles, until my eye was led through two ridges of hills, and terminated by a vast mountain in another county.
I hope the reader will pardon me for taking his eye. from our present subject of the spring, by this landscape, since it is at this time of the year only that prospects excel in beauty. But if the eye is delighted, the ear hath likewise its proper entertainment. The music of the birds at this time of the year, hath something in it so wildly sweet, as makes me less relish the most elaborate compositions of Italy. The vigour which the warmth of the sun pours afresh into their veins, prompts them to renew their species; and thereby puts the male upon wooing his mate with more mellow warblings, and to swell his throat with more violent modulations. It is an amusement by no means below the dignity of a rational soul, to observe the pretty creatures flying in pairs, to mark the different passions in their intrigues, the curious contexture of their nests, and their care and tenderness of their little offspring.
I am particularly acquainted with a wagtail and his spouse, and made many remarks upon the several gallantries he hourly used, before the coy female would consent to make him happy. When I saw in how many airy rings he was forced to pursue her; how sometimes she tripped before him in a pretty pitty-pat step, and scarce seemed to regard the cowering of his wings, and the many awkward and foppish contortions into which he put his body to do her homage, it made me reflect upon my own youth, and the caprices of the fair but fantastic Teraminta. Often have I wished that I understood the language of birds, when I have heard him exert an eager chuckle at her leaving him; and do not doubt, but what he muttered the same vows and reproaches which I often have ventured against that unrelenting maid.
The sight that gave me the most satisfaction was a flight of young birds, under the conduct of the father, and indulgent directions and assistance of the dam. I took particular notice of a beau goldfinch, who was picking his plumes, pruning his wings, and with great diligence adjusting all his gaudy garniture. When he had equipped himself with great trimness and nicety, he stretched his painted neck, which seemed to brighten with new glowings, and strained his throat into many wild notes and natural melody. He then flew about the nest in several circles and windings, and invited his wife and children into open air. It was very entertaining to see the trembling and the
fluttering little strangers at their first appearance in the world, and the different care of the male and female parent, so suitable to their several sexes. I could not take my eye quickly from so entertaining an object; nor could I help wishing, that creatures of a superior rank would so manifest their mutual affection, and so cheerfully concur in providing for their offspring.
shall conclude this tattle about the spring, which I usually call "the youth and health of the year," with some verses which I transcribe from a manuscript poem upon hunting. The author gives directions, that hounds should breed in the spring; whence he takes occasion, after the manner of the ancients, to make a digression in praise of that season. The verses here subjoined, are not all upon that subject; but the transitions slide so easily into one another, that I knew not how to leave off, until I had writ out the whole digression.
In spring, let loose thy males. Then all things prove
All nature smiles: Come now, nor fear, my love,
Hence foxes earth'd, and wolves abhorr'd the day,
Bold Nimrod first the lion's trophies wore,
The panther bound, and lanc'd the bristling boar;
He taught to turn the hare, to bay the deer,
N° 126. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 5, 1713.
Homo sum, humani nihil à me alienum puto.
TER. Heaut. act. i. sc. 1.
I am a man, and have a fellow-feeling of every thing belonging to a man. F we consider the whole scope of the creation that lies
within our view, the moral and intellectual, as well as the natural and corporeal, we shall perceive throughout, a certain correspondence of the parts, a similitude of operation, and unity of design, which plainly demonstrate the universe to be the work of one infinitely good and wise Being; and that the system of thinking beings is actuated by laws derived from the same divine power, which ordained those by which the corporeal system is upheld.
From the contemplation of the order, motion, and cohesion of natural bodies, philosophers are now agreed, that there is a mutual attraction between the most distant parts at least of this solar system. All those bodies that revolve round the sun, are drawn towards each other, and towards the sun, by some secret, uniform, and never-ceasing principle. Hence it is, that the earth (as well as the other planets), without flying off in a tangent line, constantly rolls about the sun, and the moon about the earth, without deserting her companion in so many thousand years. And as the larger systems of the universe are held together by this cause, so likewise the particular globes derive their cohesion and consistence from it.
Now if we carry our thoughts from the corporeal to the moral world, we may observe in the spirits or minds of men, a like principle of attraction, whereby they are drawn together in communities, clubs, families, friendships, and all the various species of society. As in bodies, where the quantity is the same, the attraction is strongest between those which are placed nearest to each other; so it is likewise in the mind of men, cæteris paribus, between those which are most nearly related. Bodies that are placed at the distance of many millions of miles, may nevertheless attract and constantly operate on each other, although this action do not shew itself by a union or approach of those distant bodies, so long as they are withheld by the contrary forces of other bodies, which, at the same time, attract them different ways; but would, on the supposed removal of all other bodies, mutually approach and unite with each other. The like holds, with regard to the human soul, whose affection towards the individuals of the same species, who are distantly related to it, is rendered inconspicuous by its more powerful attraction towards those who have a nearer relation to it. But as those are removed, the tendency which before lay concealed doth gradually disclose itself.
A man who has no family is more strongly attracted towards his friends and neighbours; and if absent from these, he naturally falls into an acquaintance with those of his own city or country who chance to be in the same place. Two Englishmen meeting at Rome or Constantinople, soon run into a familiarity. And in China or Japan, Europeans would think their being so, a good reason for their uniting in particular converse. Farther, in case we suppose ourselves translated into Jupiter or Saturn, and there to meet a Chinese or other more distant native of our own planet, we should look on him as a near relation, and readily commence a friendship with him. These are natural reflections, and such as may convince us that we are linked by an imperceptible chain to every individual of the human race.
The several great bodies which compose the solar system are kept from joining together at the common centre of gravity by the rectilinear motions the Author of nature has impressed on each of them; which concurring with the attractive principle, form their respective orbits round the sun;