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At last the night came on, and the necessity of parting freed us from the perfecutions of each other. I heard them, as they walked along the court, murmuring at the loss of the day, and inquiring whether any man would pay a second visit to a house haunted by a wit?
Demochares, whose benevolence is greater than his penetration, having flattered his hopes with the se. condary honour which he was to gain by my sprightliness and elegance, and the affection with which he should be followed for a perpetual banquet of gaiety, was not able to conceal his vexation and resentment, nor would easily be convinced, that I had not sacri. ficed his interest to sullenness and caprice, and studiously endeavoured to disgust his guests, and suppressed my powers of delighting, in obstinate and premeditated filence. I am informed that the reproach of their ill reception is divided by the gentlemen of the country between us; some being of opinion, that my friend is deluded by an impostor, who, though he has found some art of gaining his favour, is afraid to fpeak before men of more penetration ; and others concluding, that I think only Landon the proper thea. tre of my abilities, and disdain to exert my genius for the praise of rusticks.
I believe, Mr. RAMBLER, that it has fometimes happened to others, who have the good or ill fortune to be celebrated for wits, to fall under the same censures upon the like occasions.
the like occasions. I hope therefore that you will prevent any misrepresentations of such failures, by remarking that invention is not wholly at the command of its poffeffor ; that the power of pleas. ing is very often obstructed by the desire ; that all ex
pectation lessens surprise, yet fome surprise is necessary to gaiety; and that those who desire to partake of the pleasure of wit must contribute to its production, since the mind stagnates without external ventilation, and that effervescence of the fancy, which flashes into transport, can be raised only by the infufion of dissimilar ideas.
NUMB. 102. SATURDAY,
SATURDAY, March 9, 1751.
Ipfa quoque assiduo labuntur tempora motu
With constant motion as the moments glide,
“ LIFE,” says Seneca, “ is a voyage, in the pro
“ gress of which we are perpetually changing our scenes : we first leave childhood behind us, " then youth, then the years of ripened manhood, “ then the better and more pleasing part of old age.” The perusal of this passage having incited in me a train of reflections on the state of man, the inceffant fluctuation of his wishes, the gradual change of his
dispo disposition to all external objects, and the thoughtlessness with which he floats along the stream of time, I sunk into a flumber amidst my meditations, and, on a sudden, found my ears filled with the tumult of labour, the shouts of alacrity, the shrieks of alarm, the whistle of winds, and the dash of waters.
My astonishment for a time repressed my curiofity; but soon recovering myself so far as to inquire whither we were going, and what was the cause of such clamour and confusion, I was told that we were launching out into the ocean of life; that we had already passed the streights of infancy, in which multitudes had perished, some by the weakness and fragility of their vessels, and more by the folly, perverseness, or negligence, of those who undertook to fteer them; and that we were now on the main sea, abandoned to the winds and billows, without any other means of security than the care of the pilot, whom it was always in our power to choose among great numbers that offered their direction and aslist.
I then looked round with anxious eagerness; and first turning my eyes behind me, saw a stream flowing through flowery islands, which every one that sailed along seemed to behold with pleasure ; but no sooner touched, than the current, which, though not noisy or turbulent, was yet irresistible, bore him away. Beyond these islands all was darkness, nor could any of the passengers describe the shore at which he first embarked.
Before me, and on each side, was an expanse of waters violently agitated, and covered with fo thick a mist, that the most perspicacious eye could see but a little way.
It appeared to be full of rocks and whirlpools, for many funk unexpectedly while they were courting the gale with full fails, and insulting those whom they had left behind.
So numerous, indeed, were the dangers, and so thick the darkness, that no caution could confer security. Yet there were many, who, by false intelligence, betrayed their followers into whirlpools, or by violence pushed those whom they found in their way against the rocks.
The current was invariable and insurmountable ; but though it was impossible to fail against it, or to return to the place that was once passed, yet it was not so violent as to allow no opportunities for dexterity or courage, fince, though none could retreat back from danger, yet they might often avoid it by oblique direction.
It was, however, not very common to steer with much care or prudence ; for by some universal in. fatuation, every man appeared to think himself safe, though he saw his conforts every moment sinking round him; and no sooner had the waves closed over them, than their fate and their misconduct were forgotten; the voyage was pursued with the fame jocund confidence ; every man congratulated himself upon the foundness of his vessel, and believed himself able to ftem the whirlpool in which his friend was swallowed, or glide over the rocks on which he was dashed: nor was it often observed that the fight of a wreck made any man change his course: if he turned aside for a moment, he soon forgot the rudder, and left himself again to the disposal of chance.
This negligence did not proceed from indiffe- . rence, or from weariness of their present condition; for not one of those who thus rushed upon destruction, failed, when he was sinking, to call loudly upon his associates for that help which could not now be given him; and many spent their last moments in cautioning others against the folly by which they were intercepted in the midst of their course. Their benevolence was sometimes praised, but their admonitions were unregarded.
The vessels in which we had embarked being confefsedly unequal to the turbulence of the stream of life, were visibly impaired in the course of the voyage; so that every passenger was certain, that how long foever he might, by favourable accidents, or by incessant vigilance, be preserved, he must fink
This necessity of perishing might have been expected to fadden the gay, and intimidate the daring, at least to keep the melancholy and timorous in perpetual torments, and hinder them from any enjoyment of the varieties and gratifications which nature offered them as the solace of their labours : yet, in effect, none seemed less to expect destruction than those to whom it was most dreadful; they all had the art of concealing their danger from themselves; and those who knew their inability to bear the fight of the terrours that embarrassed their way, took care never to look forward, but found some amusement for the present moment, and generally entertained themselves by playing with Hope, who was the conftant associate of the voyage of life. .