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most eager disputant will begin about midnight to desert his argument ; and, once in four and twenty hours, the gay and the gloomy, the witty and the dull, the clamorous and the silent, the busy and the idle, are all overpowered by the gentle tyrant, and all lie down in the equality of sleep.
Philosophy has often attempted to repress insolence. by asserting, that all conditions are levelled by death; a position which, however it may deject the happy, will seldom afford much comfort to the wretched. It is far more pleasing to consider that sleep is equally a leveller with death; that the time is never at a grea, distance when the balm of rest shall be diffused alike upon every head, when the diversities of life shall stop their operation, and the high and the low shall lie down together.
It is somewhere recorded of Alexander, that in the pride of conquest, anu intoxication of flattery, he declared that he only perceiveu himself to be a man by the necessity of sleep. Whether he considered sleep as necessary to his mind or body, it was indeed a sufficient evidence of human infirmity; the body which required such frequency of renovation gave but faint promises of immortality : and the mind which, from time to time, sunk gladly into insensibility, had made no very pear approaches to the felicity of the supreme and self-sufficient nature.
I know not what can tend more to repress all the passions that disturb the peace of the world, than the consideration that there is no height of bappiness or honour, from which man does not eagerly descend to a state of unconscious repose; that the best condition of life is such, that we contentedly quit its good to be disentangled from its evils; that in a few hour's splendor fades before the eye, and praise itself deadens in the ear; the senses withdraw from their objects, and reason favours the retreat.
What then are the hopes and prospects of covetousness, ambition, and rapacity? Let him that desires most have all his desires gratified, he never shall attain a state which he can, for a day and a night, contemplate with satisfaction, or from which, if he had the power of perpetual vigilance, he would not long for periodical separations.
All envy would be extinguished, if it were universally known that there are none to be envied; and surely none can be much envied who are not pleased with themselves. There is reason to suspect, that the distinctions of mankind have more show than value, when it is found that all agree to be weary alike of pleasures and of cares; that the powerful and
the weak, the celebrated and obscure, join in one common wish, and implore from nature's hand the nectar of oblivion.
Such is our desire of abstraction from ourselves, that very few are satisfied with the quantity of stupefaction which the needs of the body force upon the mind. Alexander himself added intemperance to sleep, and solaced with the fumes of wine the sovereignty of the world; and almost every man has some art, by which he steals his thoughts away from his present state.
It is not much of life that is spent in close attention to any important duty. Many hours of every day are suffered to fly away without any traces left upon the intellects. We suffer phantoms to rise up before us, and amuse ourselves with the dance of airy images, which, after a time, we dismiss for ever, and know not bow we have been busied.
Many have no happier moments than those that they pass in solitude, abandoned to their own imagination, which some times puts sceptres in their hands or mitres on their heads, shifts the scene of pleasure with endless variety, bids all the forms of beauty sparkle before them, and gluts them with every change of visionary luxury.
It is easy in these semi-slumbers to collect all the possibilities of happiness, to alter the course of the sun, to bring back the past, and anticipate the future, to unite all the beauties of all seasons, and all the blessings of all climates, to receive and bestow felicity, and forget that misery is the lot of man. All this is a voluntary dream, a temporary recession from the realities of life to airy fictions; and habitual subjection of reason to fancy.
Others are afraid to be alone, and amuse themselves by a perpetual succession of companions : but the difference is not great ; in solitude we have our dreams to ourselves, and in company we agree to dream in concert. The end sought in both is forgetfulness of ourselves.
No. 33. SATURDAY, December 2, 1758.
(I hope the Author of the following letter will excuse the
omission of some parts, and allow me to remark, that the Journal of the Citizen in the Spectator has almost preclud. ed the attempt of any future writer.]
-Non ita Romuli
Auspiciis, veterumque norma.
“SiR-You have often solicited correspondence. I have sent you the Journal of a Senior Fellow, or Genuine Idler, just transmitted from Cambridge by a facetious correspondent, and warranted to have been transcribed from the common place book of the journalist.
“Monday, Nine o'clock. Turned off my bod-maker for waking me at eight. Weather rainy. Consulted my weather glass. No hopes of a ride before dinner.
“ Ditto, Ten.-After breakfast, transcribed half a Sermon from Dr. Hickman. N. B. Never to transcribe any more from Calamy ; Mrs. Pilcocks, at my curacy, having one volume of that author lying in her parlour-window.
“Ditto, Eleven. Went down into my cellar. Mem. My Mountain will be fit to drink in a month's time. N. B. TO remove the five-year-old Port into the new bin on the left hand.
“Ditto, Twelve. Mended a pen. Looked at my weatherglass again. Quicksilver very low. Shaved. Barber's hand shakes.
“ Ditto, One.-Dined alone in my room on a soal. N. B. The shrimp sauce not so good as Mr. H. of Peterhouse and I ased to eat in London last winter at the Mitre in Fleet-strect, Sat down to a pint of Maderia. Mr. H. surprised me over it. We finished two bottles of Port together, and were very cheerful. Mem. To dine with Mr. H. at Peterhouse next Wednesday. One of the dishes a leg of pork and peaso, by my desire.
“ Ditto, Six.– Newspaper in the common-room.
“ Ditto, Seven. - Returned to my room. Made a tift of warm punch, and to bed before nine; did not fall asleep till ten, a young fellow-commoner being very noisy aver my head.
“ Tuesday, Nine.-Rose sqeamish. A fine morning. Weather-glass very high.
“ Ditto, Ten.—Ordered my horse, and rode to the fivemile stone on the New-Market road. Appetite gets better. A pack of hounds, in full cry, crossed the road, and startled
** Ditto, Twelve.-Drest. Found a letter on my table to be in London the 19th inst. Bespoke a new wig.
“ Ditto, One.—At dinner in the hall. Too much water in the soup. Dr. Dry always orders the beef to be salted too much for me.
“Ditto, Two.-In the common room. Dr. Dry gave us an instance of a gentleman who kept the gout out of his stomach by drinking old Maderia. Conversation chiefly on the expeditions. Company broke up at four. Dr. Dry and myself" played at Back-gammon for a brace of snipes.
· Ditto, Five.-At the Coffee-house. Met Mr. H. there. Could not get a sight of the Monitor.
Ditto, Seven.—Returned home, and stirred my fire. Went to the common-room, and supped on the snipes, with Dr. Dry.
* Ditto, Eight.-Began the evening in the common-room. Dr. Dry told several stories.
Were very merry.
Our new fellow, that studies physic, very talkative toward twelve. Pretends he will bring the youngest Miss — to drink tea with me soon. Impertinent blockhead!
• Wednesday, Nine.—Alarmed with a pain in my ancle. Q. The gout? Fear I can't dine at Peterhouse ; but I hope a ride will set all to rights. Weather-glass below fair.
“Ditto, Ten.-Mounted my borse, though the weather suspicious. Pain in my ancle entirely gone. Catched in a shower coming back. Convinced that my weather-glass is the best in Cambridge.
“ Ditto, Twelve.-Drest. Sauntered up to the Fish-monger's-hill. Met Mr. H. and went with him to Peterhouse. Cook made us wait thirty-six minutes beyond the time. The company, some of my Emanuel friends. For dinner, a pair of soals, a leg of Pork and pease, among other things. Mem. Pease-pudding not boiled enough. Cook reprimanded and sconced in my presence.
“ Ditto, after Dinner.- Pain in my ancle returns. Dull all the afternoon. Rallied for being no company. Mr. H's account of the accommodations on the road in his Bath journey.
“Ditto, Six.-Got into spirits. Never was more chatty. We sat late at Whist. Mr. H. and self agreed at parting to take a gentle ride, and dine at the old house on the London road to-morrow.
“ Thursday, Nine.—My seamstress. She has lost the measure of my wrist. Forced to be measured again. The baggage has got a trick of smiling.
“Ditto, Ten to Eleven. Made some rappee-snuff. Read the Magazines. Received a present of pickles from Miss Pilcocks. Mem. To send in return some collar'd eel, which I know both the old Lady and Miss are fond of.
* Ditto, Eleven.-Glass very high. Mounted at the gate with Mr. H. Horse skittish, and wants exercise. Arrive at the old house. All the provision bespoke by some rakish fellow-commoner in the next room, who had been on a scheme to New-Market. Could get nothing but mutton-chops off the worst end. Port very new. Agree to try some other house to-morrow.”
Here the journal breaks off'; for the next morning, as my friend informs me, our genial academic was waked with a severe fit of the gout; and, at present, enjoys all the dignity of that disease. But I believe we have lost nothing by this interruption : since a continuation of the remainder of the journal through the remainder of the week, would most probly have exhibited nothing more, than a repeated relation of the same circumstances of idling and luxury.
I hope it will not be concluded, from this specimen of academic life, that I have attempted to decry our universities. If literature is not the essential requisite of the modern academic, I am yet persuaded, that Cambridge and Oxford, however degenerated, surpass the fashionable academics of our metropolis, and the Gymnasia of foreign countries. The number of learned persons in these celebrated seats is still considerable, and more conveniences and opportunities for study still subsist in them, than in any other place. There is at least one very powerful incentive to learning ; I mean the genius of the place. It is a sort of inspiring deity, which every youth of quick sensibility and ingenuous disposition creates to himself by reflecting that he is placed under those venerable walls, where a Hooker and a Hammond, a Bacon, and a Newton, once pursued the same course of science, and from whence they soared to the most elevated heights of literary fame. This is that incitement which Tully, according to his own testimony experienced at Athens, when he contemplated the porticos where Socrates sat, and the laurelgroves where Plato disputed.' But there are other circum