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rice, the defendant, had thus grievously injured dame Earth, the plaintiff, fhe was hereby ordered to take that treasure, of which fhe had felonioufly robbed the faid plaintiff by ranfacking her bofom, and reftore it back to her without diminution or retention. From this fentence it will follow, fays Jupiter to the bye-standers, that in all future ages, the retainers of Avarice fhall bury and conceal their riches, and thereby restore to the earth what they take from her.
OF ESSAY WRITING.
THE elegant part of mankind, who are not immerfed in mere animal life, but employ themselves in the operations of the mind, may be divided into the learned and converfible. The learned are fuch as have chofen for their portion the higher and more difficult operations of the mind, which require leisure and folitude, and cannot be brought to perfection, without long preparation and severe labour. The converfible world join to a fociable difpofition, and a taste for pleasure, an inclination for the easier and more gentle exercises of the understanding, for obvious reflections on human affairs, and the duties of
common life, and for obfervation of the blemishes or perfections of the particular objects that furround them. Such fubjects of thought furnish not fufficient employment in folitude, but require the company and converfation of our fellow creatures, to render them a proper exercise for the mind; and this brings mankind together in fociety, where every one displays his thoughts and obfervations in the best manner he is able, and mutually gives and receives information, as well as pleasure.
The feparation of the learned from the converfible world feems to have been the great defect of the last age, and must have had a very bad influence both on books and company for what poffibility is there of finding topics of converfation fit for the entertainment of rational creatures, without having recourse fometimes to history, poetry, politics, and the more obvious principles, at least, of philofophy? Muft our whole discourse be a continued feries of goflipping stories and idle remarks? Muft the mind never rife higher, but be perpetually
Stun'd and worn out with endless chat,
This would be to render the time spent in company the most unentertaining, as well as the most unprofitable, part of our lives.
On the other hand, learning has been as great a
lofer by being fhut up in colleges and cells, and fecluded from the world and good company. By that means every part of what we call belles lettres became totally barbarous, being cultivated by men without any tafte for life or manners, and without that liberty and facility of thought and expreffion which can only be acquired by converfation. Even philofophy went to wreck by this moping reclufe method of ftudy, and became as chimerical in her conclufions, as she was unintelligible in her ftyle and manner of delivery: and, indeed, what could be expected from men who never confulted experience in any of their reafonings, or who never fearched for that experience, where alone it is to be found, in common life and converfation?
It is with great pleasure I obferve that men of letters in this age, have loft, in a great measure, that fhynefs and bafhfulness of temper, which kept them at a distance from mankind; and, at the fame time, that men of the world are proud of borrowing from books their moft agreeable topics of converfation. It is to be hoped, that this league between the learned and converfible worlds, which is fo happily begun, will be still farther improved to their mutual advantage; and to that end, I know nothing more advantageous than fuch Effays as thofe, with which I endeavour to entertain the public. In this view, I cannot but confider myself as a kind of refident or ambassador from the dominions of learning to thofe of converfation, and
fhall think it my conftant duty to promote a good correfpondence betwixt thefe two ftates, which have fo great a dependance on each other. I fhall give intelligence to the learned of whatever paffes in company, and fhall endeavour to import into company whatever commodities I find in my native country proper for their ufe and entertainment. The balance of trade we need not be jealous of, nor will there be any difficulty to preferve it on both fides. The materials of this commerce must chiefly be furnished by converfation and common life: the manufacturing of them alone belongs to learning.
As it would be an unpardonable negligence in an ambaffador not to pay his refpects to the fovereign of the state where he is commiffioned to refide; fo it would be altogether inexcufable in me not to addrefs myself with a particular respect to the fair fex, who are the fovereigns of the empire of converfation. I approach them with reverence; and were not my countrymen, the learned, a ftubborn independent race of mortals, extremely jealous of their liberty, and unaccustomed to fubjection, I fhould refign into their fair hands, the fovereign authority over the republic of letters. Asthecafeftands, my commiffion extends no farther than to defire a league, offenfive and defenfive, against our common enemies, against the enemies of reafon and beauty, people of dull heads and cold hearts. From this moment let us pursue them with the feverest vengeance: let no quarter be given, but to thofe of found under
ftandings and delicate affections; and thefe characters, it is to be prefumed, we fhall always find infeparable.
To be ferious, and to quit the allusion before it be worn thread bare, I am of opinion, that women, that is, women of sense and education (for to fuch alone I address myself) are much better judges of all polite writing than men of the fame degree of understanding; and that it is a vain panic, if they be fo far terrified with the common ridicule that is levelled against learned ladies, as utterly to abandon every kind of books and study to our sex. Let the dread of that ridicule have no other effect than to make them conceal their knowledge before fools, who are not worthy of it, nor of them. Such will still presume upon the vain title of the male fex to affect a fuperiority above them; but my fair readers may be affured, that all men of fenfe, who know the world, have a great deference for their judgment of fuch books as lye within the compafs of their knowledge, and repofe more confidence in the delicacy of their taste, though unguided by rules, than in all the dull labours of pedants and commentators. In a neighbouring nation, equally famous for good taste, and for gallantry, the ladies are, in a manner, the fovereigns of the learned world, as well as of the conversible; and no polite writer pretends to venture before the public, without the approbation of some celebrated judges of that fex. Their verdict is, indeed, fometimes complained of; and, in particular, I find, that the ad