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suspected something more than ordinary, when upon opening the letter I found that Will was fallen off from his former gaiety, having changed Dear Spec. which was his usual salute at the beginning of the letter, into My worthy Friend, and subscribed himself in the latter end of it at full length William Honeycomb. In short, the gay, the loud, the vain Will Honeycomb, who had made love to every great fortune that has appeared in town for above thirty years together, and boasted of favours from ladies whom he had never seen, is at length wedded to a plain country girl.
His letter gives us the picture of a converted rake. The sober character of the husband is dashed with the man of the town, and enlivened with those little cant-phrases which liave made my friend Will often thought very pretty company. But let us hear what he says for himself.
“My worthy Friend, "I question not but you, and the rest of my acquaintance, wonder that I who have lived in the smoke and gallantries of the town for thirty years together, should all on a sudden grow
fond of a country life. Had not my dog of a steward run away as he did, without making up his accounts, I had still been immersed in sin and sea-coal. But since my late forced visit to my estate, I am so pleased with it, that I am resolved to live and die upon it. I am every day abroad among my acres, and can scarce for. bear filling my letter with breezes, shades, flowers, meadows, and purling streams. The simplicity of manners, which I have heard you so often speak of, and which appears here in perfection, charms me wonderfully. As an instance of it, I must acquaint you, and by your means, the whole club, that I have lately married one of my tenant's daughters. She is born of honest parents, and though she has no portion, she has a great deal of vir. my
tue. The natural sweetness and innocence of her behaviour, the freshness of her complexion, the unaffected turn of her shape and person, shot me through and through every time I saw her, and did more execution upon me in grogram, than the greatest beauty in town or court had ever done in brocade. In short, she is such an one as promises me a good heir to my estate ; and if by her means I cannot leave to my children what are falsely called the gifts of birth, high titles and alliances, I hope to convey to them the more real and valuable gifts of birth, strong bodies, and healthy constitutions. As for your fine women, I need not tell thee that I know them. I have had share in their graces, but no more of that. It shall be my business hereafter to live the life of an honest man, and to act as becomes the master of a family. I question not but I shall draw upon me the raillery of the town, and be treated to the tune of 'The marriage-hater matched ;' but I am prepared for it. I have been as witty upon others in my time. To tell thee truly, I saw such a tribe of fashionable young fluttering coxcombs shot up, that I did not think my post of an homme de ruelle any longer tenable. I felt a certain stiffness in my limbs, which entirely destroyed that jauntiness of air I was once master of. Besides, for I may now confess my age to thee, I have been eight and forty above these twelve
my retirement into the country will make a vacancy in the club, I could wish you would fill up my place with my friend Tom Dapperwit. He has an infinite deal of fire, and knows the town. For my own part, as I have said before, I shall endeavour to live hereafter suitable to a man in my station, as a prudent head of a family, a good husband, a careful father, (when it shall so happen,)
“ Your most sincere friend,
“ And humble servant,
“ William HONEYCOMB." 0.
No. 531. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8.
Qui mare et terras variisque mundum
Temperat horis :
HOR. 1 Od. xii, 15.
That can be, is, or was.
SIMONIDES being asked by Dionysius the tyrant what God was, desired a day's time to consider of it before he made his reply. When the day was expired, he desired two days; and afterwards, instead of returning his answer, demanded still double the time to consider of it. This great poet and philosopher, the more he contemplated the nature of the Deity, found that he vaded but the more out of his depth; and that he lost himself in the thought, instead of finding an end of it.
If we consider the idea which wise men, by the light of reason, have framed of the Divine Being, it amounts to this : that he has in him all the perfection of a spiritual nature; and, since we have no notion of any kind of spiritual perfection, but what we discover in our own souls, we join infinitude to each kind of these perfections, and what is a faculty in a human soul, becomes an attribute in God. We exist in place and time; the Divine Being fills the immensity of space with his presence, and inhabits eteruity. We are possessed of a little power and a little knowledge; the Divine Being is Almighty and Omniscient. In short, by adding infinity to any kind of perfection we enjoy, and by joining all these different kinds of perfections in one Being, we form our idea of the great Sovereign of Nature.
Though every one who thinks, must have made this observation, I shall produce Mr. Locke's authority to the same purpose, out of his Essay on Human Understanding. “If we examine the idea we have of the incomprehensible Supreme Being, we shall find, that we come by it the same way; and that the complex ideas we have both of God and separate spirits, are made up of the simple ideas we receive from reflection : v. g. having, from what we experiment in ourselves, got the ideas of existence and duration, of knowledge and power, of pleasure and happiness, and of several other qualities and powers, which it is better to have, than to be without; when we would frame an idea the most suitable we can to the Supreme Being, we enlarge every one of these with our idea of infinity; and so putting them together, make our complex idea of God."
It is not impossible that there may be many kinds of spiritual perfection, besides those which are lodged in a human soul ; but it is impossible that we should have ideas of any kinds of perfection, except those of which we have some small rays and short imperfect strokes in ourselves. It would be, therefore, a very high presumption to determine whether the Supreme Being has not many more attributes than those which enter into our conceptions of him. This is certain, that if there be any kind of spiritual perfection which is not marked out in a human soul, it belongs in its fulness to the Divine Nature.
Several eminent philosophers have imagined that the soul, in her separate state, may have new faculties springing up in her, which she is not capable of exerting, during her present union with the body; and whether these faculties may not correspond with other attributes in the Divine Nature, and open to us hereafter new matter of wonder and adoration, we are altogether ignorant. This, as I have said before, we ought to acquiesce in, that the Sovereign Being, the Great Author of Nature, has in
him all possible perfection, as well in kind as in degree; to speak according to our methods of conceiving. I shall only add, under this head, that when we have raised our notion of this infinite Being as high as it is possible for the mind of man to go, it will fall infinitely short of what he really is. There is no end of his greatness :' the most exalted creature he has made, is only capable of adoring it; none but himself can comprenend it.
The advice of the son of Sirach is very just and sublime in this light. “By his word all things consist. We may speak much, and yet come short : wherefore in sum, he is all. How shall we be able to magnify him? for he is great above all his works. The Lord is terrible and very great; and marvellous in his power. When you glorify the Lord, exalt him as much as you can; for even yet will he far exceed.
And when you exalt bim, put forth all your strength, and be not weary; for you can never go far enough. Who hath seen him, that he might tell us ? and who can magnify him as he is ? there are yet hid greater things than these be, for we have seen but a few of his works.'
I have here only considered the Supreme Being by the light of reason and philosophy. If we would see him in all the wonders of his mercy, we must have recourse to revelation, which represents him to us, not only as infinitely Great and Glorious, but as infinitely Good and Just in his dispensations towards man. But as this is a theory which falls under every one's consideration, though indeed it can never be sufficiently considered, I shall here only take notice of that habitual worship and veneration which we ought to pay to this Almighty Being. We should often refresh our minds with the thoughts of him, and annihilate ourselves before him, in the contemplation of our own worthlessness, and of his transcendent excellency and perfection. This would imprint in our minds such a constant and uninterrupted