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vail upon himself to perform ; and when reason has no settled rule, and our passions are striving to mislead us, it is surely the part of a wise man to err on the side of safety
NUMB. 82.' SATURDAY, December 29, 1750.
Omnia Castor emit, fic fiet ut omnia vendat.
Who buys without discretion, buys to sell.
To the RAMBLER.
will not be necessary to folicit your good-will by any formal preface, when I have informed you, that I have long been known as the most laborious and zealous virtuoso that the present age has had the honour of producing, and that inconveniencies have been brought upon me by an unextinguish. able ardour of curiosity, and an unshaken persever. ance in the acquisition of the productions of art and
It was observed, from my entrance into the world, that I had something uncommon in my disposition, and that there appeared in me very early tokens of superior genius. I was always an enemy to trifles ; the playthings which my mother bestowed upon me I immediately broke, that I might discover the me. thod of their structure, and the causes of their mo. tions ; of all the toys with which children are de
lighted lighted I valued only my coral, and as soon as I could speak, asked, like Pieresc, innumerable questions which the maids about me could not refolve. As I grew older I was more thoughtful and serious, and instead of amusing myself with puerile diversions, made collections of natural rarities, and never walked into the fields without bringing home stones of remarkable forms, or insects of some uncommon species. I never entered an old house, from which I did not take away the painted glass, and often lamented that I was not one of that happy generation who demo. lished the convents and monasteries, and broke windows by law.
Being thus early possessed by a taste for solid knowledge, I passed my youth with very little dif- . turbance from passions and appetites; and having no pleasure in the company of boys and girls, who talked of plays, politicks, fashions, or love, I care ried on my enquiries with incessant diligence, and had amassed more stones, iofses, and shells, than are to be found in many celebrated collections, at an age in which the greatest part of young men are study. ing under tutors, or endeavouring to recommend themselves to notice by their dress, their air, and their levities.
When I was two and twenty years old, I became, by the death of my father, possessed of a small estate in land, with a very large sum of money in the publick funds, and must confess that I did not much lament him, for he was a man of mean parts, bent rather upon growing rich than wise. He once fretted at the expence of only ten fhillings, which he happened to overhear me offering for the VOL. V.
sting sting of a hornet, though it was a cold moist summer, in which very few hornets had been seen. He often recommended to me the study of physick, in which, faid he, you may at once gratify your curiosity after natural history, and increase your fortune by benefita . ing mankind. I heard him, Mr. Rambler, with pity, and as there was no prospect of elevating a mind formed to grovel, suffered him to please himself with hoping that I should some time follow his advice. For you know that there are men with whom, when they have once settled a notion in their heads, it is to very little purpose to dispute.
Being now left wholly to my own inclinations, I very foon enlarged the bounds of my curiosity, and contented myself no longer with such rarities as required only judgment and industry, and when once found, might be had for nothing. I now turned my thoughts to Exoticks and Antiques, and became so well known for my generous patronage of ingenious men, that my levee was crowded with visitants, fome to see my museum, and others to increase its treasures, by selling me whatever they had brought from other countries.
I had always a contempt for that narrowness of conception, which contents itself with cultivating fome single corner of the field of science; I took the whole region into my view, and wished it of yet greater extent. But no man's power can be equal to his will. I was forced to proceed by slow degrees, and to purchase what chance or kindness happened to present. I did not however proceed without some defign, or imitate the indiscretion of those who be. gin a thousand collections, and finish none. Having been always a lover of geography, I determined to collect the maps drawn in the rude and barbarous times, before any regular surveys, or just observations; and have, at a great expence, brought toge. ther a volume, in which, perhaps, not a single country is laid down according to its true situation, and by which, he that desires to know the errors of the an. cient geographers may be amply informed.
But my ruling pafsion is patriotism : my chief care has been to procure the products of our own country; and as Alfred received the tribute of the W’elch in wolves' heads, I allowed my tenants to pay their rents in butterflies, till I had exhausted the papilio. naceous tribe. I then directed them to the pursuit of other animals, and obtained, by this easy method, most of the grubs and insects, which land, air, or water, can supply. I have three species of earthworms not known to the naturalists, have discovered a new ephemera, and can shew four wasps that were taken torpid in their winter quarters. I have, from my own ground, the longest blade of grass upon re. cord, and once accepted, as a lalf year's rent for a field of wheat, an ear containing more grains than had been seen before upon a singl! ftem.
One of my tenants so much neglected his own interest, as to supply me, in a whole fummer, with only two horse-flies, and those of little more than the common size; and I was upon the brink of seizing for arrears, when his good fortune threw a white mole in his way, for which he was not only forgiven but rewarded.
These, however, were petty acquisitions, and 'made at small expence ; nor should I have ventured to rank myself among the virtuosi without better claims. I have suffered nothing worthy the regard of a wise man to escape my notice: I have ranfacked the old and the new world, and been equally attentive to past ages and the present. For the illustration of ancient history, I can fhew a marble, of which the infcription, though it is not now legible, appears, from some broken remains of the letters, to have been Tuscan, and therefore probably engraved before the foundation of Rome. I have two pieces of porphyry found among the ruins of Ephesus, and three letters broken off by a learned traveller from the monuments of Persepolis ; a piece of stone which paved the Areopagus of Athens, and a plate without figures or characters, which was found at Corinth, and which I therefore believe to be that metal which was once valued before gold. I have fand gathered out of the Granicus ; a fragment of Trajan's bridge over the Danube ; some of the mortar which cemented the watercourse of Tarquin ; a horseshoe broken on the Flaminian way; and a turf with five daisies dug from the field of Pharsalia.
I do not wish to raise the envy of unsuccessful collectors, by too pompous a display of my scientifick wealth, but cannot forbear to observe, that there are few regions of the globe which are not honoured with some memorial in my cabinets. The Persian monarchs are said to have boasted the greatness of their empire, by being served at their tables with drink from the Ganges and the Danube : I can fhew one vial, of which the water was formerly an icicle on the crags of Caucasus, and another that con- . tains what once was snow on the top of Atlas ; in a