Imatges de pÓgina

The case is very hard; and I fear the plea she is advised to make, from the similitude of a man who is in duresse, will not prevail. But though I despair of remedy as to the mother, the law gives the child his choice of his father, where the birth is thus legally ambiguous.


"The humble Petition of the Company of Linendrapers, residing within the liberty of Westminster,


"That there has of late prevailed among the ladies so great an affectation of nakedness, that they have not only left the bosom wholly bare, but lowered their stays some inches below the former mode.

"That, in particular, Mrs. Arabella Overdo has not the least appearance of linen; and our best customers shew but little above the small of their backs.

"That by this means your petitioners are in danger of losing the advantage of covering a ninth part of every woman of quality in Great-Britain.

"Your Petitioners humbly offer the premises to your Indulgence's consideration, and shall ever," &c.

Before I answer this petition, I am inclined to examine the offenders myself.

No. 216. SATURDAY, AUGUST 26, 1710.

· Nugis addere pondus.

Weight and importance some to trifles give.

HOR. EP. i. 19. 42.



NATURE is full of wonders; every atom is a standing miracle, and endowed with such qualities, as could not be impressed on it by a power and wisdom less than infinite. For this reason, I would not discourage any searches that are made into the most minute and trivial parts of the creation. However, since the world abounds in the noblest fields of speculation, it is, methinks, the mark of a little genius, to be wholly conversant among insects, reptiles, animalcules, and those trifling rarities that furnish out the apartment of a virtuoso.

There are some men whose heads are so oddly turned this way, that, though they are utter strangers to the common occurrences of life, they are able to discover the sex of a cockle, or describe the generation of a mite, in all its circumstances. They are so little versed in the world, that they scarce know a horse from an ox; but, at the same time, will tell you with a great deal of gravity, that a flea is a rhinoceros, and a snail a hermaphrodite. I have known one of these whimsical philosophers, who has set a greater value upon a collection of spi

ders that he would upon a flock of sheep, and has sold his coat off his back to purchase a tarantula.

I would not have a scholar wholly unacquainted with these secrets and curiosities of nature; but certainly the mind of man, that is capable of so much higher contemplations, should not be altogether fixed upon such mean and disproportioned objects. Observations of this kind are apt to alienate us too much from the knowledge of the world, and to make us serious upon trifles; by which means they expose philosophy to the ridicule of the witty and the contempt of the ignorant. In short, studies of this nature should be the diversions, relaxations, and amusements; not the care, business, and concern, of life.

It is, indeed, wonderful to consider, that there should be a sort of learned men, who are wholly employed in gathering together the refuse of nature, if I may call it so, and hoarding up in their chests and cabinets such creatures as others industriously avoid the sight of. One does not know how to mention some of the most precious parts of their treasure, without a kind of an apology for it. I have been shown a beetle valued at twenty crowns, and a toad at a hundred: but we must take this for a general rule, 'That whatever appears trivial or obscene in the common notions of the world, looks grave and philosophical in the eye of a virtuoso.'

To show this humour in its perfection, I shall present my reader with the legacy of a certain Virtuoso, who laid out a considerable estate in natural rarities and curiosities, which upon his death-bed he bequeathed to his relations and friends, in the following words:


'I Nicholas Gimcrack, being in sound health of mind, but in great weakness of body, do by this my

last will and testament bestow my worldly goods and chattels in manner following:

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Imprimis, To my dear wife,
"One box of butterflies,
'One drawer of shells,

'A female skeleton,

'A dried cockatrice.

Item, To my daughter Elizabeth,


My receipt for preserving dead caterpillars, As also my preparations of winter Maydew, and embryo-pickle.

" Item, To my little daughter Fanny,

Three crocodiles' eggs.


'And upon ries with her mother's consent,

the birth of her first child, if she mar

The nest of a humming-bird.


Item, To my eldest brother, as an acknowledgment for the lands he has vested in my son Charles, I bequeath


My last year's collection of grasshoppers.

Item, To his daughter Susanna, being his only child, I bequeath my


English weeds pasted on royal paper,
"With my large folio of Indian cabbage.

Item, To my learned and worthy friend doctor Johannes Elscrickius, professor in anatomy, and my associate in the studies of nature, as an eternal monument of my affection and friendship for him, I bequeath

'My rat's testicles, and
<Whale's pizzle,

to him and his issue male; and in default of such

issue in the said doctor Elscrickius, then to return to my executor and his heirs for ever.


Having fully provided for my nephew Isaac, by making over to him, some years since,


A horned Scarabæus,

< The skin of a rattle-snake, and

The mummy of an Egyptian King, 'I make no further provision for him in this my Will.

'My eldest son, John, having spoken disrespectfully of his little sister, whom I keep by me in spirits of wine, and in many other instances behaved himself undutifully towards me, I do disinherit, and wholly cut off from any part of this my personal estate, by giving him a single cockle-shell.

To my second son, Charles, I give and bequeath all my flowers, plants, minerals, mosses, shells, pebbles, fossils, beetles, butterflies, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and vermin, not above specified: as also all my monsters, both wet and dry; making the said Charles whole and sole executor of this my last will and testament; he paying, or causing to be paid, the aforesaid legacies within the space of six months after my decease. And I do hereby revoke all other wills whatsoever by me formerly made.'


** Whereas an ignorant upstart in astrology has publicly endeavoured to persuade the world that he is the late John Partridge, who died the 28th of March, 1708: These are to certify all whom it may concern, that the true John Partridge was not only dead at that time, but continues so to this present day.

Beware of counterfeits, for such are abroad.

« AnteriorContinua »