« PreviousContinue »
THE PARADISE OF FOOLS.
Decipimur specie recti. HOR.
METHOUGHT I was transported to a bill, green,
flowery, and of an easy ascent. Upon the broad top of it resided squint-eyed Error, and popular Opi. nion with many heads; two tbat dealt in sorcery, and were famous for bewitching people with the love of themselves. To these repaired a multitude from every side, by two different posts wbich lead towards each of them. Some who had the most assuming air, went directly of themselves to Error, without expecting a conductor; others of a softer nature went first to po. pular Opinion, from whence, as she influenced and en. gaged them with their own praises, she delivered them over to his government.
When we had ascended to an open part of the summit where Opinion abode, we found her entertaining several who had arrived before us. Her voice was pleasing; she breathed odours as she spoke: she seemed to have a tongue for every one; every one thought be heard of something that was valuable in himself, and expected a paradise which she promised as the reward of his merit. Thus were we drawn to follow her, till she should bring us where it was to be bestowed: and it was observable, that all the way we went, the company was either praising themselves in their qualifications, or one another for those qualifications which they took to be conspicuous in their own characters, or dispraising others for wanting theirs, or vying in the degrees of them.
At last we approached a hower, at the entrance of which Error was seated. The trees were thick woven,
and the place where be sat artfully contrived to darken him a little. He was disguised in a whitish robe, which he had put on, that he might appear to us with a nearer resenıblance to Truth: and as she has a light whereby she manifests the beauties of nature to the eyes of her adorers, so he bad provided himself with a magical wand, that he might do something in imitation of it, and please with delusions. This he lifted so. lemnly, and muttering to himself, bid the glories which he kept under enchantment to appear before us. Immediately we cast our eyes on that part of the sky to which he pointed, and observed a thin blue prospect, which cleared as mountains in a summer morning when the mists go off, and the palace of Vanity appeared to sight.
The foundation hardly seeriad a foundation, but a set of carling clouds, which it stood upon by magical contrivance. The way by which we ascended was painted like a rainbow; and as we went, the breeze that played about us bewitched the senses. The walls were gilded all for show; the lowest set of pillars were of the slight five Corinthian order, and the top of the building being rounded, bore so far the resemblance of a bobble.
At the gate the travellers neither met with a porter, nor waited till one should appear; every one thonght hịs merits a sufficient passport, and pressed forward. In the hall we met with several phantoms, that roved among us, and ranged the company according to their sentiments. There was decreasing Honour, that had nothing to show in but an old coat of his ancestor's achievements. There was Ostentation, that made him. self his own constant subject, and Gallantry strutting upon his tip-toes. At the upper end of the hall stood a throne, whose canopy glittered with all the riches that gaiety could contrive to lavish on it; and between the gilded arms sat Vanity, decked in the peacock's feathers, and acknowledged for another Venus by her 1 votaries. The boy wbo stood beside her for a Cupid,
and who made the world to bow before her, was call. ed Self-Conceit. His eyes had every now and then a cast inwards, to the neglect of all objects about him ; and the arms which he made use of for conquest, were borrowed from those against whom he had a design. The arrow which he shot at the soldier, was fledged from his own plume of feathers; the dart he directed against the man of wit, was winged from the quills he writ with; and that which he sent against those who presumed upon their riches, was headed with gold out of their treasuries : he made nets for statesmen from their own contrivances; he took fire from the eyes of ladies, with which he melted. their hearts: and lightning from the tongnes of the eloquent, to inflaine them with their owu glories. At the foot of the throne sat three false graces : Flattery with a shell of paint, Affectation with a mirror to practise at, and Fashion ever changing the posture of her clothes. These applied themselves to secnre the conquests which SelfCenceit had gotten, and had each of them their particular polities. Flattery gave new colours and complexions to all things, Affectation new airs and appearances, which, as she said, were not vulgar, and Fashion both concealed some home defects, and added some foreign external beauties.
As I was refleciing upon what I saw, I heard a yoice in the crowd bemoaning the condition of mankind, which is thus managed by the breath of Opinion, deluded by Error, fired by Self-Conceit, and given up to be trained in all the courses of Vanity, till Scorn or Poverty come upon us. These expressions were no sooner handled about, but I immediately saw a general disorder, till at last there was a parting in one place, and a grave old inan, decent and resolute, was led forward to be punished for the words he had uttered. He appeared inclined to have spoken in his own defence, but I could not observe that any one was will ing to hear him. Vanity cast a scornful sinile at him: Self-Conceit was angry; Flattery, wbo knew biin for Plain-Dealing, put on a vizard, and turned away; Affectation tossed her fan, made mouths, and called him Envy or Slander; and Fashion would bave it, that at least be must be Ill-Manners. Thus slighted and despised by all, he was driven out for abusing people of merit and figure; and I heard it firmly resolved, that he should be used no better wherever they met with him hereafter.
I had already seen the meaning of most part of that warping which he bad given, and was considering how the latter words would be fulfilled, when a mighty noise was heard without, and the door was blackened by a numerous train of barpies crowding in upon us. Tolly and Broken-Credit were seen in the honse before they entered, Trouble, Shame, Infamy, Scorn, and Poverty, brought up the rear. Vanity, with her Cupid and Graces, disappeared; her subjects ran into holes and corners; but many of them were found and carried off (as I was told by one who stood near me) either to prisons or cellars, solitude or little company, the mean arts or the viler crafts of life. But these, added be, with a disdainful air, are such who would fonally live here, when their merits neither matched the lustre of the place, nor their riches its expenses. We have seen such scenes as these before now; the glory you saw will all return when the hurry is over. I thanked him for his information, and believing him so incorrigible as that he would stay till it was his turn to be taken, I made off to the door, and overtook some few, who, though they would not hearken to Plain-Dealing, were now terrified to good purpose by the example of others: but when they bad touched the threshold, it was a strange shock to them to find that the delusion of Error was gone, and they plainly discerned the building to hang a little up in the air without any real foundation. At first we saw nothing but a desperate leap remained for us, and I a thousand times blamed my unmeaning curiosity that had VOL. II.
brought me into so much danger. But as they began to sink lower in their own minds, methought the palace sunk along with us, till they were arrived at the due point of Esteem which they ought to have for themselves; then the part of the building in which they stood toucbed the earth, and, we departing out, it retired from our eyes. Now, whether they who stayed in the palace were sensible of this descent, I cannot tell; it was then my opinion that they were not. However it be, my dream broke up at it, and has given ine occasion all my life to reflect upon the fatal consequences of followivg the suggestions of Vanity.
PHYSIOGNOMY THE MIRROR OF
Heu quam difficile est crimen non prodere vultu!
OVID. How in the looks does conscious guilt appear!
THERE are several arts which all men are in some
measure masters of, without having been at the pains of learning them. Every one that speaks or reasons is a grammarian and a logician, though he may bè wholly unacquainted with the rules of grammar or logic, as they are delivered in books and systems. In the same manner, every one is in some degree a master of that art which is generally distinguished by the name of Physiognomy*; and naturally forms to him. self the character or fortune of a stranger, from the features and lineaments of his face. We are no sooner presented to any one we never saw before, but we are
• The English reader will find this subject very in. geniously discussed in Dr. Hunter's translation of Lavater.