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Before I answer this petition, I am inclined to examine the offenders myself.
NO. 216. SATURDAY, AUGUST 26, 1710.
-Nugis addere pondus.
Hor. Ep. 19. lib. 1. ver. 42.
Weight and importance some to trifles give.
From my own Apartment, August 25. NATURE is full of wonders ; every atom is a standing miracle, and endowed with such qualities, as could not be imprefled on it by a power and wisdom less than infinite. For this reason, I would not discourage any searches that are made into the most minute and trivial parts of the creation. However, since the world abounds in the noblest fields of speculation, it is, inethinks, the mark of a little genius to be wholly conversant among insects, reptiles, animalcules, and those trifling rarities that furnish out the apartment of a virtuofo.
There are some men whose heads are so oddly turned this way, that though they are utter strangers to the common occurrences of life, they are able to discover the sex of a cockle, or describe the generation of a mite, in all its circumstances. They are so little versed in the world, that they scarce know a horse from an ox; but at the same time, will tell you with a great deal of gravity, that a fea is a rhinoceros, and a snail an hermaphrodite. I have known one of these whimsical philosophers, who has fet a greater value upon a collection of spiders than he would upon a flock of sheep, and has sold his coat off his back to purchase a tarantula.
I would not have a scholar wholly unacquainted with these secrets and curiosities of nature ; but certainly the
mind of man, that is capable of so much higher contemplations, should not be altogether fixed upon such mean and disproportioned objects. Observations of this kind are apt to alienate us too inuch from the knowledge of the world, and to make us serious upon trifles; by which means they expose philosophy to the ridicule of the witty, and contempt of the ignorant. In short, studies of this nature should be the diversions, relaxations, and amusements ; not the care, business, and concern of life.
It is indeed wonderful to consider, that there should be a fort of learned men, who are wholly employed in gathering together the refuse of nature, if I may call it fo, and hoarding up in their chests and cabinets such creatures as others industriously avoid the fight of. One does not know how to mention some of the most precious parts of their treasure, without a kind of an apology for it. I have been hewn a beetle valued at twenty crowns, and a toad at an hundred: but we must take this for a general rule, that whatever appears trivial or obscene in the common notions of the world, looks grave and philofophical in the eye of a virtuofo.
To fhew this humour in its perfection, I shall present my reader with a legacy of a certain virtuoso, who laid out a confiderable estate in natural rarities and curiofities, which upon his death-bed he bequeathed to his relations and friends, in the following words:
The Will of a Virtuoso.
I NICHOLAS GIMCRACK, being in sound health of mind, but in great weakness of body, do by this my last will and testament bestow my worldly goods and chattels in manner following:
Imprimis, To my dear wife,
One box of butterflies,
Item, To my daughter Elizabeth,
My receipt for preserving dead caterpillars,
And upon the birth of her first child, if she marries with her mother's consent,
The nest of an humming-bird.
Item, To my eldest brother, as an acknowledgment for the lands he has vested in my son Charles, i bequeath
My last year's collection of grashoppers.
Item, To his daughter Susanna, being his only child, I bequeath my
Engliń weeds pasted on royal paper,
Item, To my learned and worthy friend doctor Johannes Ellcrickius, professor in anatomy, and my associate in the ftudies of naiure, as an eternal monument of my affection and friendthip for him, I bequeath
My rat's testicles, and
Whale's pizzle, to him and his issue male, and in default of such iffue in the said doctor Elscrickius, then to return to my executor and his heirs for ever.
Having fully provided for my nephew Isaac, by making over to him some years since,
A horned scarabæus,
The mummy of an Egyptian king,
My eldest son John, having spoke disrespectfully of his litde sister, whom I keep by me in spirits of vine, and in
many other instances behaved himself undutifully towards me, 'I do difinherit, and wholly cut off from any part of this my personal estate, by giving him a single cockleThell.
- To my second son Charles I give and bequeath all my flowers, plants, minerals, moffes, shells, pebbles, foffils, beetles, butterflies, caterpillars, grashoppers, and vermin, not above specified: as also all my monsters, both wet and dry; making the said Charles whole and sole executor of this my last will and testament, he paying, or causing to be paid, the aforesaid legacies within the space of fix months after my decease. And I do hereby revoke all other wills whatsoever by me formerly made.
"Whereas an ignorant upstart in astrology has publicly endeavoured to persuade the world, that he is the late John Partridge, who died the twenty-eighth of March 1708. These are to certify all whom it may concern, that the true John Partridge was not only dead at that time, but continues so to this present day:
Beware of counterfeits, for such are abroad.'
NO. 217. TUESDAY, AUGUST 29, 1710.
Atque deos atque aftra vocat crudelia mater.
VIRG. Ecl. 5. ver. 23. She sigh'd, the fobb’d, and, furious with despair, Accused all the gods, and every star. - DRYDEN.
From my own Apartment, August 28.
husband which gave me much disturbance, and put me in mind of a character which I wonder I have so long omitted, and that is, an outrageous species of the fair sex, which is distinguished by the term Scolds. The generality of women are by nature loquacious; therefore mere volubility of speech is not to be imputed to them, but should be con dered with pleasure when it is used to express such paffions as tend to sweeten or adorn conversation : but when through rage females are vehement in their elaquence, nothing in the world has so ill an effect upon the features ; for by the force of it I have seen the most amiable become the most deformed; and the that appeared one of the
graces, immediately turned into one of the furies: I humbly conceive, the great cause of this evil may proceed from a falle notion the ladies have of, what we call, a modest woman. They have too narrow a conception of this lovely character ; and believe they have not at all forfeited their pretenfions to it, provided they have no imputations on their chastity. But alas ! the young fellows know they pick out better women in the side-boxes, than many of those who pass upon the world and themselves for modest..
Modesty never rages, never murmurs, never pouts ; when it is ill treated, it pines, it beseeches, it languishes. The neighbour I mention is one of your common modeft women, that is to say, those who are ordinarily reckoned such. Her husband knows every pain in life with her, but jealousy. Now because she is clear in this particular, the man cannot say his soul is his own, but the cries, No modest woman is respected now-a-days. What adds to the comedy in this case is, that it is very ordinary with this fort of women to talk in the language of distress; they will complain of the forlorn wretchedness of their condition, and then the poor helpless creatures shall throw the next thing they can lay their hands on, at the person who offends them. Our neighbour was only saying to his wife she went a little too fine, when the immediately pulled his periwig off, and stamping it under her feet, wrung her hands, and said, Never modest woman was so used. These ladies of irresistible modesty are those who make virtue