Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

ciples, whatever party he is of, he cannot fail of being a good Englishman, and a lover of his country.

As for the persons concerned in this work, the names of all of them, or at least of such as desire it, shall be published hereafter: till which time I must entreat the curious reader to suspend his curiosity, and rather to consider what is written, than who they are that write it.

Having thus adjusted all necessary preliminaries with my reader, I shall not trouble him with any more prefatory discourses, but 10 proceed in my old method, and entertain him with speculations

on every useful subject that falls in my way.

POLITICAL PAPERS.

[Party politics, the vindication of this ministry or the incrimination of that, attacks upon individual statesmen and disclosures of administrative abuses, were judiciously forsworn by Addison and Steele when they commenced the Spectator. (See Introduction, p. xix.) However Addison did not think himself absolutely precluded from touching on political topics, as the first of the three following papers sufficiently shows. In fact this witty and ingenious essay has a very important political bearing, so much so that it is difficult to suppose that Addison's many Jacobite readers would have relished the Spectator so highly as they did, had there been many more papers in the same strain. The 'young man of twenty-two years of age who brandishes his sword at the Act of Settlement, is the son and heir of James II, commonly called the first Pretender; he naturally is desirous of cancelling the Act of Parliament by which he and his descendants are excluded from the throne. He is accompanied by the genius of a commonwealth,' or, as we should say, of Repubcanism, by which it is insinuated that in politics extremes meet, and that Jacobites, equally with Republicans, are enemies to the British Constitution. The 'spunge' in his left hand implies that if the Pretender succeeds in effecting a counter-revolution, he will repudiate the National Debt, a suggestion full of horror to the capitalists and merchants on 'Change. “Public Credit' therefore faints and collapses at the approach of James the Pretender ; but she revives and becomes radiant again when a person whom I had never seen,' that is, George the Electoral prince, son of the Princess Sophia, and afterwards George I, attended by the genius of Great Britain and all the other good powers which wait on prosperous states, enters the hall and approaches her throne.

The second paper in this section, though ostensibly an imaginative essay on the operations of commerce, appears chiefly designed to show what political benefits accrue to a nation from a large and unrestricted trade.

The third paper is a panegyric on the system of limited monarchy and popular government under which Englishmen are privileged to live.]

No. 3. The Bank of England: vision of 'Public Credit; her friends and enemies.

Et quoi quisque fere studio devinctus adhæret,
Aut quibus in rebus multum sumus ante morati,
Atque in qua ratione fuit contenta magis mens,
In somnis eadem plerumque videmur obire.—Lucr. iv. 959.

In one of my late rambles, or rather speculations, I looked into the great hall where the Bank is kept, and was not a little pleased

to see the directors, secretaries, and clerks, with all the other members of that wealthy corporation, ranged in their several stations, according to the parts they act in that just and regular oeconomy. This revived in my memory the many discourses which I had both read and heard concerning the decay of public credit, with the methods of restoring it, and which in my opinion have always been defective because they have been made with an eye to separate interests, and party-principles.

The thoughts of the day gave my mind employment for the 10 whole night, so that I fell insensibly into a kind of methodical

dream, which disposed all my contemplations into a vision or allegory, or what else the reader shall please to call it.

Methought I returned to the great hall, where I had been the morning before, but, to my surprise, instead of the company that I left there, I saw, towards the upper end of the hall, a beautiful virgin, seated on a throne of gold. Her name, as they told me, was Public Credit. The walls, instead of being adorned with pictures and maps, were hung with many acts of parliament

written in golden letters. At the upper end of the hall was the 20 Magna Charta with the Act of Uniformity on the right hand, and

the Act of Toleration on the left n. At the lower end of the hall was the Act of Settlement », which was placed full in the eye of the virgin that sat upon the throne. Both the sides of the hall were covered with such acts of parliament as had been made for the establishment of public funds. The lady seemed to set an unspeakable value upon these several pieces of furniture, insomuch that she often refreshed her eye with them, and often smiled with a secret pleasure, as she looked upon them; but, at

the same time, shewed a very particular uneasiness, if she saw 30 any thing approaching that might hurt them. She appeared

indeed infinitely timorous in all her behaviour: and, whether it was from the delicacy of her constitution, or that she was troubled with vapours, as I was afterwards told by one who I found was none of her well-wishers, she changed colour and startled at everything she heard. She was likewise, as I afterwards found, a greater valetudinarian than any I had ever met with, even in her own sex, and subject to such momentary consumptions, that in the twinkling of an eye, she would fall away

from the most florid complexion, and the most healthful state of 40 body, and wither into a skeleton. Her recoveries were often as

A POLITICAL VISION.

113

20

sudden as her decays, insomuch that she would revive in a moment out of a wasting distemper, into a habit of the highest health and vigour.

I had very soon an opportunity of observing these quick turns and changes in her constitution. There sat at her feet a couple of secretaries, who received every hour letters from all parts of the world, which the one or the other was perpetually reading to her; and, according to the news she heard, to which she was

exceedingly attentive, she changed colour, and discovered many 10 symptoms of health or sickness.

Behind the throne was a prodigious heap of bags of money, which were piled upon one another so high, that they touched the ceiling. The floor, on her right hand and on her left, was covered with vast sums of gold, that rose up in pyramids on either side of her. But this I did not so much wonder at, when I heard, upon inquiry, that she had the same virtue in her touch which the poets tell us a Lydian king was formerly possessed of, and that she could convert whatever she pleased into that precious metal.

After a little dizziness, and confused hurry of thought, which a man often meets with in a dream, methought the hall was alarmed, the doors flew open, and there entered half a dozen of the most hideous phantoms that I had ever seen, even in a dream, before that time. They came in two by two, though matched in the most dissociable manner, and mingled together in a kind of dance. It would be tedious to describe their habits and persons, for which reason I shall only inform my reader, that the first couple was Tyranny and Anarchy, the second was

Bigotry and Atheism, the third, the genius of a Commonwealth, 30 and a young man of about twenty-two years of age, whose name

I could not learnn. He had a sword in his right hand, which in the dance he often brandished at the Act of Settlement; and a citizen, who stood by me, whispered in my ear, that he saw a spunge in his left hand. The dance of so many jarring natures, put me in mind of the sun, moon, and earth, in the Rehearsal ”, that danced together for no other end but to eclipse one another.

The reader will easily suppose, by what has been before said, that the lady on the throne would have been almost frighted to 40 distraction, had she seen but any one of these spectres: what

then must have been her condition when she saw them all in a body? She fainted and died away at the sight.

Et neque jam color est misto candore rubori;
Nec vigor, et vires, et quæ modo visa placebant;
Nec corpus remanet.

Ovid. Met. iii. 491.

Her spirits faint,
Her blooming cheeks assume a pallid teint.
And scarce her form remains.

There was as great a change in the hill of money bags, and the heaps of money; the former shrinking, and falling into so many empty bags, that I now found not above a tenth part of them had been filled with money. The rest that took up the same space, and made the same figure as the bags that were really filled with money, had been blown up with air, and called into my memory

the bags full of wind, which Homer tells us his hero received as 10 a present from Æolus n. The great heaps of gold on either side

the throne now appeared to be only heaps of paper, or little piles of notched sticks , bound up together in bundles, like Bath faggots.

Whilst I was lamenting this sudden desolation that had been made before me, the whole scene vanished: in the room of the frightful spectres, there now entered a second dance of apparitions very agreeably matched together, and made up of very amiable phantoms. The first pair was Liberty with Monarchy at

her right hand: the second was Moderation leading in Religion; 20 and the third, a person whom I had never seen, with the genius

of Great Britain. At the first entrance the lady revived, the bags swelled to their former bulk, the piles of faggots and heaps of paper changed into pyramids of guineas: and, for my own part, I was so transported with joy that I awaked, though I must confess I would fain have fallen asleep again to have closed my vision, if I could have done it.

« ПредишнаНапред »