« ПредишнаНапред »
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 part 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 a 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 :
The Will of a Virtuoso. I Nicholas Gimcrack, being in sound health of mind, but in great weakness of body, do by this my Jast will and testament bestow my worldly goods and chattels in manner following: Imprimis, To my dear wife,
One box of butterflies,
A dead cockatrice,
My receipt for preserving dead caterpillars,
And upon the birth of her first child, if she marries with her mother's consent,
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 grashoppers. 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. Having fully provided for my nephew Isaac, by making over to him some years since,
A horned scarabæus,
The mummy of an Egyptian king,
My eldest son John, having spoke 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, grashoppers, and vermin, not above specified ; as also all my monsters, both wel 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 de
cease. And I do hereby revoke all other wills whatsoever by me formerly made.
THE FLORIST. No. 218.
I CHANCED to rise very early one particular morning this summer, and took a walk into the country to divert myself among the fields and meadows, while the green was new, and the flowers in their blooni. at this season of the year every lane is a beautiful walk, and every hedge full of nosegays, I lost myself with a great deal of pleasure among several thickets and bushes that were filled with a great variety of birds and an agreeable confusion of notes, which formed the pleasantest scene in the world to one who had passed a whole winter in noise and smoke. The freshness of the dews that lay upon every thing about me, with the cool breath of the morning, which inspired the birds with so many delightful instincts, created in me the same kind of animal pleasure, and made my heart overflow with such secret emotions of joy and satisfaction as are not to be described or accounted for. On this occasion, I could not but reflect on the beautiful simile in Milton :
As one who long in populous city pent,
Or dairy, each rural sight, each rural sound.
authors receive an additional entertainment from the country, as it revives in their memories those charming descriptions with which such authors do frequently abound.
I was thinking of the foregoing beautiful simile in Milton, and applying it to myself, when I observed to the windward of mę a black cloud falling to the earth in long trails of rain, which made me betake myself for shelter to a house which I saw at a little distance from the place where I was walking. As I sat in the porch I heard the voices of two or three persons, who seemed very earnest in discourse. My curiosity was raised when I heard the names of Alexander the Great and Artaxerxes : and as their talk seemed to run on antient heroes, I concluded there could not be any secret in it; for which reason I thought I might very fairly listen to what they said.
After several parallels between great men, which ap, peared to me altogether groundless and chimerical, I was surprised to hear one say, that he valued the Black Prince more than the duke of Vendosme. How the duke of Vendosnie should become a rival of the Black Prince I could not conceive; and was more startled when I heard a second affirm with great vehemence, that if the emperor of Germany was not going off, he should like him better than either of them. He added that, though the season was so changeable, the duke of Marlborough was in blooming beauty. I was wondering to myself from whence they had received this odd intelligence; especially when I heard them mention, the pames of several other great generals, as the prince of Hesse and the king of Sweden, who, they said, were both running away. To which they added, what I en. tirely agreed with them in, that the crown of France was very weak, but that the marshal Vilars still kept his colours. At last one of them told the company,
if they would go along with him, he would show them a chimney-sweeper and a painted lady in the same bed, which he was sure would very much please them. The shower, which had driven them as well as myself into the house, was now over, and as they were passing by me into the garden, I asked them toʻlet me be one of their company.
The gentleman of the house told me, if I delighted in flowers it would be worth my while; for that he befieved he could show me such a blow of tulips as was not to be matched in the whole country.
I accepted the offer, and immediately found that they had been' talking in terms of gardening, and that the kings and generals they had mentioned were only so many tulips, to which the gardeners, according to their usual custom, had given such high titles and appellations of honour.
I was very much pleased and astonished at the glorious show of these gay vegetables, that arose in great profusion on all the banks about us. Sometimes I considered them with the eye of an ordinary spectator, as so many beautiful objects varnished over with a natural gloss, and stained with such a variety of colours as are not to be equalled in any artificial dyes or tinctures. Sometimes I considered every leaf as an elaborate piece of tissue, in which the threads and fibres
woven together into different configurations, which gave a different colouring to the light as it glanced on the several parts of the surface. Sometimes I considered the whole bed of tulips, according to the notion