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with hope. Thus, to the sojourner upon earth, it is of little moment, whether the path he treads be strewed with flowers or with thorns, if he perceives himself to approach those regions, in comparison of which the thorns and the flowers of this wilderness lose their distinction, and are both alike impotent to give pleasure or pain.
• What then has Eternal Wisdom unequally distributed ? That which can make every station happy, and without which every station must be wretched, is acquired by Virtue, and Virtue is possible to all. Remember, Almet, the vision which thou hast seen; and let my words be written on the tablet of thy heart, that thou mayest direet the wanderer to happiness, and justify God to men.'
While the voice of Azoran was yet sounding in my ear, the prospect vanished from before me, and I found myself again sitting at the porch of the temple. The sun was gone down, the multitude was retired to rest, and the solemn quiet of midnight concurred with the resolution of my
doubts to complete the tranquillity of my mind.
Such, my son, was the vision which the Prophet vouchsafed me, not for my sake only, but for thine. Thou hast sought felicity in temporal things; and, therefore, thou art disappointed. Let not instruction be lost upon thee, as the seal of Mahomet in the well of Aris: but go thy way, let thy flock clothe the naked, and thy table feed the hungry; deliver the poor from oppression, and let thy conversation be Above. Thus shalt thou • rejoice in Hope,' and look forward to the end of life as the consummation of thy felicity.
Almet, in whose breast devotion kindled as he spake, returned into the temple, and the stranger departed in peace.
N° 115. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 11, 1753.
Scribimus indocti doctique.
All dare to write, who can or cannot read.
They who have attentively considered the history of mankind, know that every age has its peculiarcharacter. At one time, no desire is felt but for military honours ; every summer affords battles and sieges, and the world is filled with ravage, bloodshed, and devastation : this sanguinary fury at length subsides, and nations are divided into factions, by controversies about points that will never be decided. Men then grow weary of debate and altercation, and apply themselves to the arts of profit; trading companies are formed, manufactures improved, and navigation extended : and nothing is any longer thought on, but the increase and preservation of property, the artifices of getting money, and the pleasures of spend
The present age, if we consider.chiefly the state of our own country, may be styled with great propriety The Age of Authors; for, perhaps, there never was a time, in which men of all degrees of ability, of every kind of education, of every profession and employment, were posting with ardour so general to the press. The province of writing was formerly left to those, who by study, or appearance of study, were supposed to have gained knowledge
unattainable by the busy part of mankind; but in these enlightened days, every man is qualified to instruct every other man ;
and he that beats the anvil, or guides the plough, not content with supplying corporal necessities, amuses himself in the hours of leisure, with providing intellectual pleasures for his countrymen. It
may be observed, that of this, as of other evils, complaints have been made by every generation ; but though it may, perhaps, be true, that at all times more have been willing than have been able to write, yet there is no reason for believing, that the dogmatical legions of the present race were ever equalled in number by any former period; for so widely is spread the itch of literary praise, that almost every man is an author, either in act or in purpose; has either bestowed his favours on the public, or withholds them, that they may be more seasonably offered, or made more worthy of acceptance.
In former times, the pen, like the sword, was considered as consigned by nature to the hands of men; the ladies contented themselves with private virtues and domestic excellence; and a female writer, like a female warrior, was considered as a kind of eccentric being, that deviated, however illustriously, from her due sphere of motion, and was, therefore, rather to be gazed at with wonder, than countenanced by imitation. But as the times past are said to have seen a nation of Amazons, who drew the bow and wielded the battle-ax, formed encampments and wasted nations; the revolution of years has now produced a generation of Amazons of the pen, who, with the spirit of their predecessors, have set masculine tyranny at defiance, asserted their claim to the regions of science, and seem resolved to contest the usurpations of virility.
Some, indeed, there are of both sexes, who are authors only in desire, but have not yet attained the power of executing their intentions; whose performances have not arrived at bulk sufficient to form a volume, or who have not the confidence, however impatient of nameless obscurity, to solicit openly the assistance of the printer. Among these, are the innumerable correspondents of public papers, who are always offering assistance which no man will receive, and suggesting hints that are never taken, and who complain loudly of the perverseness and
arrogance of authors, lament their insensibility of their own interest, and fill the coffee-houses with dark stories of performances by eminent hands, which have been offered, and rejected.
To what cause this universal eagerness of writing can be properly ascribed, I have not yet been able to discover. It is said, that every art is propagated in proportion to the rewards conferred upon it; a position from which a stranger would naturally infer, that literature was now blessed with patronage far transcending the candour or munificence of the Augustan age, that the road to greatness was open to none but authors, and that, by writing alone, riches and honour were to be obtained.
But since it is true, that writers, like other competitors, are very little disposed to favour one another, it is not to be expected, that, at a time when every man writes, any man will patronize; and, accordingly, there is not one that I can recollect at present, who professes the least regard for the votaries of science, invites the addresses of learned men, or seems to hope for reputation from any pen
but his own. The cause, therefore, of this epidemical conspiracy for the destruction of paper, must remain a secret: nor can I discover, whether we owe it te the influences of the constellations, or the intemperature of seasons: whether the long continuance of the wind at any single point, or intoxicating vapours exhaled from the earth, have turned our nobles and our peasants, our soldiers and traders, our men and women, all into wits, philosophers, and writers.
It is, indeed, of more importance to search out the cure than the cause of this intellectual malady; and he would deserve well of his country, who, in-) stead of amusing himself with conjectural specula-" tions, should find means of persuading the peer to inspect his steward's accounts, or repair the rural mansion of his ancestors, who could replace the tradesman behind his counter, and send back the farmer to the mattock and the flail.
General irregularities are known in time to remedy themselves. By the constitution of ancient Egypt, the priesthood was continually increasing, till at length there was no people beside themselves; the establishment was then dissolved, and the number of priests was reduced and limited. Thus among us, writers will, perhaps, be multiplied, till no readers will be found, and then the ambition of writing must necessarily cease.
But as it will be long before the cure is thus gta dually effected, and the evil should be stopped, if it be possible, before it rises to so great a height, 1 could wish that both sexes would fix their thoughts upon some salutary considerations, which might repress their ardour for that reputation which not one of many thousands is fated to obtain.
Let it be deeply impressed and frequently recollected, that he who has not obtained the proper qualifications of an author, can have no excuse for the arrogance of writing, but the power of imparting to mankind something necessary to be known. A man