« ZurückWeiter »
present thee with a voluine of examples of Wır. Whatever be thy humour, its sustents must please thee even in spite of thyself. Whatever be thy diseases of mind, thou wilt here find medicine for all of them--antidotes to bad weather, dull neighhourhoods, contrary winds, protracted remittances, chronic disorders, lawsuits, poat, scolding wives, drunken husbands, and all the numerous et cæteras in the catalogue of life's miseries. With this volume in thy hands, thou mayst always enjoy " the soul's calm sunshine," and be a stranger to ennui, hypochondria, the blue slevils, and devils of all colours, which would disturb thy repose and sense of wellweing.
Talk of the Philosopher's Stone, Fortunatus's Wishing-cap, and the diminutive Gianticide's Invisible Coat, these are mere baubles, when conipared with this book, for thou wilt be cheerful, merry, and without any wants, while thou hast in thy unch or pocket this unfailing and omnipotent talisman. “I would rather," said & profound philosopher, “have been born with a cheerful disposition, than heir to ten
22gesind a-year," and he might have said, twenty or fifty thousand; for what is * wealth without that healthful state of inind, which this golden volume will infallibly ssure! Tais BOOK IS TEEREFORE Worth TWENTY THOUSAND A-YEAR; and its possessor
look down with pity on the man, however wealthy, who nevertheless lacks this zensare. Before breakfast, it will create good spirits for the day; after dinner, it will zote digestion and healthful secretions; and after supper, it will so weary thy des, and exercise thy diaphragm, that repose, sound and sweet, will be the cer, cumpaanion of thy pillow.
Momus passed a few centuries in Greece, where he specially dispensed his favours to the lively sons of Attica. He thence crossed into Italy, where the monk's cowl so disgusted' him, that he quitted that country for France, and dwelt there till the return of the Bourbons, when, to escape the thraldrom of dulness, he took passage in a steam-boat for England. During the last seven years he has been frisking it between Bath, Cheltenham, Leamington, Brighton, Hastings, Buxton, Harrowgate, Sidmouth, and other favoured seats of British gaiety. In these jaunts, however, he passed through London, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Nottinghain, and other dens of care, and taking pity on the wretched inhabitants, his godship inspired two Editors of the genuine race of the Bulls to construct this work, to cheer and enliven the present gloomy existence of so many members of their family.
Having received their cominission, which authorized them to destroy the hags of melancholy, and to sink, burn, and overwhelm by suitable reaction all the forns of mental disease described by Haslam, or suffered by preaching and praying zealots, thrifty misers, swallowers of quack medicines, la vyers' clients, and other victims of misguided reason, they resolved to call a Council of Wits ; but Dr. Walcot being dead, they could hear of none except George Colman, whose stock was either exhausted, or forestalled by the purveyors of royal amusement. They therefore besought Momus to evoke a council of his deceased favourites from the Shades, and fixed upon Salisbury-plain for the place of rendezvous. The god, on hearing this, burst into a roar of laughter, telling them that the area of Stonehenge would more than suffice. To this lone place the wițs of other times one night were summoned temporarily invested with an unsubstantial garb, resembling in appearance theil inortal forms, and were brought into the presence of the Editors. The latter migh have felt alarmed, but the numbers in attendance were few, and instead of the usua groans of ghosts, incessant peals of mirth alone were heard. These at length sub siileil, when CERVANTES demanded "the business of the two knares who had brought AR back to this sorry world" One of the Editors then named the commission which he at
his colleague had received, on which the whole assembly burst into a provoking fit of laughter ; till Voltaire was heard inquiring, in a sarcastic tone, “What is that to us? We have bequeathed legacies, which mortals may use if they think proper." * True," said the second Editor, “but we want the test of true wit, and your several opinions of its essence and nature." Fresh peals of laughter followed this question, and a full bour elapsed ere silence could be obtained. Several of the pliantoms then exclaimed together, “Why trouble us on this subject ? why not consult our works?" “ But,” said STERNE, “we are sent by the gods at the request of Momus, and it is our duty to obey. I yield for one, but I can only quote my own Tristram ;" and so saying, he delivered, in his sprightly manner, the following passage:
" Men of least wit are reported to be men of most judgment, but it is no more than report, and a vile and malicious report into the bargain. · Will you give me leave to illustrate this affair of Wit and Judgment, by ibe two knobs on the back of my chair. Here stands witand there stands judgment. You see they are the bighest and roost ornamental parts of its frame--as wit and judgment are of ours, and like them too, indubitably both made and fitted to go together,--in order, as we say in all such cases of duplicaied embellishments-lo answer one another. Now, for the sake of an experiment, and for the clearer illustrating this matter, let us, for a moment, take off one of these two curious ornaments from the point or pinnacle of the chair it now stauds on. But did you ever, in the wbole course of your lives, see such a ridi, rulotes business as this now is ? Nay, let me ask you, whether this single knob, which stands here like a blockhead by itself, can serve any purpose, but to put one in mind of the want of the other? And rather than be as it is, would not the chair be ten times better without any knob at all? Now these two knobs, or top ornaments of the mind of man, which crown the whole entablature---being, as I said, wit and judgmeat, which of all others, as I have proved it, are the most needful-the most prized—the most calamitous to be without, and consequently, the hardest to come.al ;---for all these reasons put together, there is not a mortal among us so destitute of a love of fame or feeling-—-or so ignorant of what will do him good Chertia-who does not wish and steadfastly resolve in his own mind to be, or be thought at least, master of the one or the other, or indeed, both of them, if the thing seems any way feasible, or likely to be brought to pass Now, your graver gentry, having little or no kind of chance in aiming at the one, unless they land bold of the other--pray wlrat do you think would become of them ?-Why, sirs, in spite of all their greutas, they must e'en have been contented to have gone with their insides naked. This was not to be borce, but by an effort of philosophy not to be supposed in the case we are upon,--so that no one could vell have been angry with them, had they been satisfied with what little they could have snatched up and reted under their cloaks and periwigs, bad they not raised a hue and cry at the same time against the kwful owners
This opinion was warmly seconded by RoeneFOUCAULT, who observed, - Three are mistaken who imagine wit and judgment to be two distinct things Judgment is ouly the
perfection of wi., which penetrates into the recesses of thiuys, observes all that merits observation, and jerceives what seeris imperceptible. We must therefore agree that it is extensive wit which produces all the effects attributable to judgment.”
Swipt, who had listened to the preceding speakers with more than his wonted complacency, insisted on the necessary union of wit and knowledge, somewhat inelegantly asserting, that
“Wit without knowledge is a sort of cream which gathers in a night to the top, and by a skilful hand may be soon whipped into froth; but once skimmed away, what appears underneath will be fit for nothing but to be thrown to the hogs."
The Dean then proceeded to illustrate the difficulty of defining wit, in the following caution to the Editors :
" Nothing is so tender as a piece of wit, and which is apt to suffer so much in the carriage. Some things are extremely witty to-day, or fasting, or in this place, or over a bottle; any of which by the smallest transposal or misapplication is utterly annihilate. Thus wit has its walks and purlieus, out of which it may not stray the breadth of a hair upon peril of being lost.”
“I confess," said Pope, " that I am not a little disposed to cojucide with the opinion of those whom the last speaker has attacked. My idea of wit is that it
• Is naiure to advantage dress’d,
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressid ;' nor am I less persuaded of the truth of my assertion, that
wit and judgment ever are at strife.'” Here he was interrupted by DRYDEN, who observed, " that while he agreed in the sentiments of Pope, he must be allowed to say, that they appeared to be borrowed from the well-known couplet in his own works,
Great wits to madness sure are near allied,
And thin partitions do their bounds divide.' When Dryden had finished, Addisos expressed himself in the following elegant and perspicuous language:
* True wit consists in the resemblance of ideas, and false wit in the resemblance of wards, a prou and