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Agamemnon, that was rapacious and imperial, into an eagle; and the soul of Thersites, who was a mimic and a buffoon, into a monkey.
Mr. Congreve, in a prologue to one of his comedies, has touched upon this doctrine with great humour.
Thus Aristotle's soul, of old that was,
Is doing painful penance in some beau. I shall fill up this paper with some letters, which my last Tuesday's speculation has produced. My following correspondents will shew, what I there observed, that the speculation of that day affects only the lower part of the sex.
“ From my house in the Strand, October 30, 1711.
“ MR. SPECTATOR, “ UPON reading your Tuesday's paper, I find by several symptoms in my constitution, that I am a bee. My shop, or if you please to call it so, my cell, is in that great hive of females which goes by the name of the New-Exchange ; where I am daily employed in gathering together a little stock of gain from the finest flowers about the town; I mean the ladies and the beaus. I have a numerous swarm of children, to whom I give the best education I am able ; but, sir, it is my misfortune to be married to a drone, who lives upon what I get, without bringing any thing into the common stock. Now, sir, as on the one hand I take care not to behave myself towards him like a wasp, so likewise I would not have him look upon me as a humble bee; for which reason I do all I can to put him upon laying up provisions for a bad day, and frequently represent to him the fatal effects his sloth and negligence may bring upon us in our old age. I must beg that you will join with me in your good advice upon this occasi
5* Your humble Servant, MELISSA."
Piccadilly, October 31, 1711.
“ I am joined in wedlock, for my sins, to one of those fillies who are described in the old poet with that hard name you gave us the other day. She has a flowing mane, and a skin
as soft as silk : but, sir, she passes half her life at her glass, and almost ruins me in ribbons. For my own part, I am a plain handicraft man, and in danger of breaking by her laziness and expensiveness. Pray, master, tell me in your next paper, whether I may not expect of her so much drudgery as to take care of her family, and curry her hide in case of refusal.
“ Your loving friend, BARNABY BRITTLE."
“ Cheapside, October 30. " MR. SPECTATOR, “ I am mightily pleased with the humour of the cat, be so kind as to enlarge upon that subject.
“ Yours till death, Josiah HENPECK."
“ P.S. You must know I am married to a Grimalkin."
Wapping, October 31, 1711. “ Ever since your Spectator of Tuesday last came into our family, my husband is pleased to call me his Oceana, because the foolish old poet that you have translated, says, That the souls of some women are made of sea-water. This, it seems, has encouraged my sauce. box to be witty upon me. When I am angry, he cries, Pr'ythee, my dear, · be calm ;' when I chide one of my servants, pr'ythe child, do not bluster.' He had the impudence about an hour ago to tell me, that he was a seafaring man, and must expect to divide his life between 'storm and sunshine.' When I bestir myself with any spirit in my family, it is high sea' in his house; and when I sit still without doing any thing, his affairs forsooth are 'wind-bound.' When I ask him whether it rains, he makes answer, it is no matter, so that it be • fair weather' within doors. In short, sir, I cannot speak
my mind freely to him, but I either “swell' or 'rage,' or do something that is not fit for a civil woman to hear. Pray Mr. SPECTATOR, since you are so sharp upon other women, let us know what materials your wife is made of, if you have one.
I suppose you would make us a parcel of poor-spirited tame insipid creatures ; but, sir, I would have you to know, we have as good passions in us as yourself, and that a woman was never designed to be a milksop.
6. MARTHA TEMPEST."
No. 213. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3.
-Mens sibi conscia recli.
It is the great art and secret of Christianity, if I may use that phrase, to manage our actions to the best advantage, and direct them
in such a manner, that every thing we do may turn to account at that great day, when every thing we have done will be set before us.
In order to give this consideration its full weight, we may cast all our actions under the divison of such as are in themselves either good, evil, or indifferent. If we divide our intentions after the same manner, and consider them with regard to our actions, we may discover that great art and secret of religion which I have here mentioned.
A good intention joined to a good action, gives it its proper force and efficacy; joined to an evil action, extenuates its malignity, and in some cases, may take it wholly away; and joined to an indifferent action, turns it to virtue, and makes it meritorious as far as human actions can be so.
In the next place, to consider in the same manner the influence of an evil intention upon our actions. An evil intention perverts the best of actions, and makes them in reality what the fathers with a witty kind of zeal have termed the virtues of the heathen world, so many shining sins.' It destroys the innocence of an indifferent action, and gives an evil action all possible blackness and horror, or in the emphatical language of sacred writ, makes sin exceeding sinful.'
If, in the last place, we consider the nature of an indifferent intention, we shall find that it destroys the merit of a good action; abates, but never takes away, the malignity of an evil action; and leaves an indifferent action in its natural state of indifference.
It is therefore of unspeakable advantage to possess our minds with an habitual good intention, and to aim all our thoughts, words, and actions, at some laudable end, whether it be the glory of our Maker, the good of mankind, or the benefit of our own souls.
This is a sort of thrift or good husbandry in moral life, which does not throw away any single action, but makes every one go as far as it can. It multiplies the means of salvation, increases the number of our virtues, and diminishes that of our vices.
There is something very devout, though not so solid, in Acosta's answer to Limborch, who objects to him the multiplicity of ceremonies in the Jewish religion, as washings, dresses, meats, purgations, and the like. The reply which the Jew makes upon this occasion, is, to the best of my remembrance, as follows: “ There are not duties enough (says he) in the essential parts of the law for a zealous and active obedience. Time, place, and person, are requisite, before you have an opportunity of putting a moral virtue into practice. We have therefore, says he, enlarged the sphere of our duty, and made many things, which are in themselves indifferent, a part of our religion, that we may have more occasion of shewing our love to God, and in all the circumstances of life be doing something to please him.
Monsieur St. Evremont has endeavoured to palliate the superstitions of the Roman Catholic religion with the same kind of apology, where he pretends to consider the different spirit of the papists and the calvinists, as to the great points wherein they disagree. He tells us, that the former are actuated by love, and the other by fear; and that in their expressions of duty and devotion towards the Supreme Being, the former seem particularly careful to do every thing which may possibly please him, and the other to abstain from every thing that may possibly displease him.
But notwithstanding this plausible reason with which both the Jew and the Roman Catholic would excuse their respective superstitions, it is certain there is something in them very pernicious to mankind, and destructive to religion; because the injunction of superfluous ceremonies make such actions duties, as were before indifferent, and by that means renders religion more burthensome and difficult than it is in its own nature, betrays many into sins of omission which they would not otherwise be guilty of, and fixes the minds of the vulgar to the shadowy unessential points, instead of the more weighty and more important matters of the law.
This zealous and active obedience, however, takes place in the great point we are recommending; for if; instead of prescribing to ourselves indifferent actions as duties, we apply, a good intention to all our most indifferent actions, we make our very existence one continued act of obedience, we turn our diversions and amusements to our eternal advantage, and are pleasing him (whom we are made to please) in all the circumstances and occurrences of life.
It is this excellent frame of mind, this holy officiousness,' (if I may be allowed to call it such) which is recommended to us by the apostle in that uncommon precept, wherein he directs us to propose to ourselves the glory of our Creator in all our most indifferent actions, whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do.'
A person therefore who is possessed with such an habitual good intention, as that which I have been here speaking of, enters upon no single circumstance of life, without considering it as well pleasing to the great Author of his Being, conformable to the dictates of reason, suitable to human nature in general, or to the particular station in which Providence has placed him. He