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a certain day, on a submarine voyage, and of his willingness to take in passengers for no more than double the price at which they might fail above water. His defire was granted, and he retired to a convenient stand, in expectation of filling his ship, and growing rich in a short time by the secrecy, safety, and expedition of the passage.
Another desired to advertise the curious, that he had, for the advancement of true knowledge, contrived an optical instrument, by which those who laid out their industry on memorials of the changes of the wind, might observe the direction of the weathercocks on the hitherside of the lunar world.
Another wished to be known as the author of an invention, by which cities or kingdoms might be made warm in winter by a single fire, a kettle, and pipe. Another had a vehicle by which a man might bid defiance to floods, and continue floating in an inundation, without any inconvenience, till the water should subside. JUSTICE considered these projects as of no importance but to their authors, and therefore scarcely condescended to examine them; but TRUTH refused to admit them into the register.
Twenty different pretenders came in one hour to give notice of an universal medicine, by which all diseases might be cured or prevented, and life protracted beyond the age of Nestor. But Justice informed them, that one universal medicine was sufficient, and she should delay the notification till she saw who could longest preserve his own life.
A thousand other claims and offers were exhibited and examined. I remarked, among this mighty multitude, that, of intellectual advantages, many
had great exuberance, and few confessed any want ; of
every art there were a hundred professors for a single pupil ; but of other attainments, such as riches, honours, and preferments, I found none that had too much, but thousands and ten thousands that thought themselves entitled to a larger dividend.
It often happened, that all misers, and women married at the close of life, advertised their want of children; nor was it uncommon for those who had a numerous offspring, to give notice of a son or daughter to be spared; but, though appearances promised well on both sides, the bargain feldom succeeded; for they foon lost their inclination to adopted children, and proclaimed their intentions to promote some scheme of publick charity : a thousand proposals were immediately made, among which they hesitated till death precluded the decision.
As I stood looking on this scene of confusion, TRUTH condescended to ask me, what was my business at her office? I was struck with the unexpected question, and awaked by my efforts to answer it,
SATURDAY, March 23, 1751.
Opinionum commenta delet dies, nature judicia confirmat. Cic. Time obliterates the fictions of opinion, and confirms the de
cisions of nature.
IT is necessary to the success of flattery, that it be
accommodated to particular circumstances or characters, and enter the heart on that side where the passions stand ready to receive it. A lady feldom listens with attention to any praise but that of her beauty; a merchant always expects to hear of his influence at the bank, his importance on the exchange, the height of his credit, and the extent of his traffick: and the author will scarcely be pleased without lamentations of the neglect of learning, the conspiracies against genius, and the flow progress of merit, or some praises of the magnanimity of those who encounter poverty and contempt in the cause of knowledge, and trust for the reward of their labours to the judgment and gratitude of posterity.
An assurance of unfading laurels, and immortal reputation, is the settled reciprocation of civility between amicable writers. To raise monuments more durable than brass, and more conspicuous than pyramids, has been long the common boast of literature ; but, among the innumerable architects that erect columns to themselves, far the greater part, either for want of durable materials, or of art to dispose them, see their edifices perish as they are towering to completion,
and those few that for a while attract the eye of mankind, are generally weak in the foundation, and soon fink by the saps of time.
No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes, than a publick library ; for who can see the wall crowded on every side by mighty volumes, the works of laborious meditation, and accurate inquiry, now scarcely known but by the catalogue, and preserved only to increase the pomp of learning, without cor.sidering how many hours have been wasted in vain endeavours, how often imagination has anticipated the praises of futurity, how many statues have risen to the eye of vanity, how many ideal converts have elevated zeal, how often wit has exulted in the eternal infamy of his antagonists, and dogmatism has delighted in the gradual advances of his authority, the immutability of his decrees, and the perpetuity of his power ?
Insulting chance ne'er calld with louder voice,
Of the innumerable authors whose performances are thus treasured up in magnificent obscurity, most are forgotten, because they never deserved to be remembered, and owed the honours which they once obtained, not to judgment or to genius, to labour or to art, but to the prejudice of faction, the stratagem of intrigue, or the servility of adulation.
Nothing Nothing is more common than to find men whose works are now totally neglected, mentioned with praises by their contemporaries, as the oracles of their
age, and the legislators of science. Curiosity is naturally excited, their volumes after long inquiry are found, but feldom reward the labour of the search. Every period of time has produced these bubbles of artificial fame, which are kept up a while 'by the breath of fashion, and then break at once, and are annihilated. The learned often bewail the loss of ancient writers whose characters have survived their works; but, perhaps, if we could now retrieve them, we should find them only the Granvilles, Montagues, Stepneys, and Sheffields of their time, and wonder by what infatuation or caprice they could be raised to notice.
It cannot, however, be denied, that many have funk into oblivion, whom it were unjust to number with this despicable class. Various kinds of literary fame seem destined to various measures of duration. Some spread into exuberance with a very speedy growth, but soon wither and decay; some rife more fowly, but last long. Parnasus has its flowers of transient fragrance, as well as its oaks of towering height, and its laurels of eternal verdure.
Among those whose reputation is exhausted in a hort time by its own luxuriance, are the writers who take advantage of present incidents or characters which strongly interest the passions, and engage universal attention. It is not difficult to obtain readers, when we discuss a question which every one is desirous to understand, which is debated in every assembly, and has divided the nation into parties ; or when