Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design
I fancied my self among the and, as it is natural in a Dream, seemed every moment to bound from one Summit to another, till at last, after having made this airy progress over the tops of several Mountains, I arrived at the very Centre of those broken Rocks and Precipices. I here, methought, saw a prodigious circuit of Hills, that reached above the clouds, and encompassed a large space of ground, which I had a great curiosity to look into. I thereupon continued my former way of travelling through a great variety of winter scenes, till I had gained the top of these white mountains, which seemed another of Snow. I looked down from hence into a spacious Plain, which was surrounded on all sides by this Mound of hills, and which presented me with the most agreeable prospect I had ever seen. There was a greater variety of colours in the embroidery of the meadows, a more lively green in the leaves and grass, a brighter chrystal in the streams, than what I ever met with in any other region. The light it self had something more shining and glorious in it than that of which the day is made in other places. I was wonderfully astonished at the discovery of such a Paradise amidst the wildness of those cold hoary Landskips which lay about it; but found at length, that this happy region was inhabited by the whose presence softened the rigours of the Climate, enriched the barrenness of the Soil, and more than supplied the absence of the Sun. The place was covered with a wonderful profusion of Flowers, that without being disposed into regular borders and parterres, grew promiscuously, and had a greater beauty in their natural luxuriancy and disorder, than they could have received from the checks and restraints of art. There was a river that arose out of the south-side of the mountain, that by an infinite number of turns and windings, seemed to visit every plant, and cherish the several beauties of the Spring, with which the fields abounded. After having run to and fro in a wonderful variety of Meanders, it at last throws it self into the hollow of a mountain, from whence it passes under a long range of Rocks, and at length rises in that part of the where the inhabitants think it the first source of the This river, after having made its progress through those Free Nations, stagnates in a huge Lake at the leaving of them, and no sooner enters into the regions of Slavery, but runs through them with an incredible rapidity, and takes its shortest way to the Sea.
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His solidity and elegance, improved by the reading of the finest Authors both of the learned and modern languages, discovered itself in all his productions. His Oratory was masculine and persuasive, free from every thing trivial and affected. His style in writing was chaste and pure, but at the same time full of spirit and politeness; and fit to convey the most intricate business to the understanding of the reader, with the utmost clearness and perspicuity. And here it is to be lamented, that this extraordinary person, out of his natural aversion to vain-glory, wrote several pieces as well as performed several actions, which he did not assume the honour of: though at the same time so many works of this nature have appeared, which every one has ascribed to him, that I believe no Author of the greatest eminence would deny my Lord to have been the best writer of the age in which he lived.
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Another manifest inconvenience which arises from this abuse of publick entertainments, is, that it naturally destroys the taste of an audience. I do not deny, but that several performances have been justly applauded for their wit, which have been written with an eye to this predominant humour of the town: but it is visible even in these, that it is not the excellence, but the application of the sentiment, that has raised applause. An Author is very much disappointed to find the best parts of his productions received with indifference, and to see the audience discovering beauties which he never intended. The Actors, in the midst of an innocent old Play, are often startled with unexpected claps or hisses; and do not know whether they have been talking like good subjects, or have spoken treason. In short, we seem to have such a relish for faction, as to have lost that of wit; and are so used to the bitterness of party rage, that we cannot be gratified with the highest entertainment that has not this kind of seasoning in it. But as no work must expect to live long which draws all its beauty from the colour of the times; so neither can that pleasure be of greater continuance, which arises from the prejudice or malice of its hearers.