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unsullied: like a piece of metal constantly kept smooth and bright, we look on it with more pleasure than on a new vessel that is cankered with rust.
I might observe farther, that as cleanliness renders us agreeable to others, so it makes us easy to ourselves; that it is an excellent preservative of health; and that several vices, destructive both to mind and body, are inconsistent with the habit of it. But these reflections I shall leave to the leisure of my readers, and shall observe, in the third place, that it bears a great analogy with purity of mind, and naturally inspires refined sentiments and passions.
We find from experience that, through the prevalence of custom, the most vicious actions Jose their horror by being made familiar to us. On the contrary, those who live in the neighbourhood of good examples, fly from the first appearances of what is shocking. It fares with us much after the same manner as our ideas. Our senses, which are the inlets to all the images conveyed to the mind, can only transmit the impression of such things as usually surround them. So that pure and unsullied thoughts are naturally suggested to the mind, by those objects that perpetually encompass us when they are beautiful and elegant in their kind.
In the east where the warmth of the climate makes cleanliness more immediately necessary than in colder countries, it is made one part of their religion: the Jewish law, and the Mahometan, which in some things copies after it, is filled with bathings, purifications, and other rites of the like nature. Though there is the above-named convenient reason to be assigned for these ceremonies, the chief intention undoubtedly was to ti
pify inward purity and cleanliness of heart by those outward washings. We read several injunctions of this kind in the book of Deuteronomy, which confirm this truth; and which are but ill accounted for by saying as some do, that they were only instituted for convenience in the desert, which otherwise could not have been habitable for so many years.
I shall conclude this essay with a story which I have somewhere read in an account of Mahometan superstitions.
A dervise of great sanctity one morning had the misfortune, as he took up a crystal cup which was consecrated to the prophet, to let it fall upon the ground and dash it in pieces. His son coming in some time after, he stretched out his hand to bless him, as his manner was every morning : but the youth going out stumbled over the threshold and broke his arm. As the old man wondered at these events, a caravan passed by in its way from Mecca; the dervise approached it to beg a blessing; but as he stroked one of the holy camels, he received a kick from the beast that sorely bruised him. His sorrow and amazement increased upon him until he recollected that through hurry and inadvertency, he had that morning come abroad without washing his hands.
No. 632. MONDAY, DEC. 13, 1714.
-Explebo numerum, reddarque tenebris.
-the number I'll complete, Then to obscurity well pleas'd retreat.
THE love of symmetry and order, which is natural to the mind of man, betrays him sometimes into very whimsical fancies. This noble principle,' says a French author, 'loves to amuse itself on the most trifling occasions. You may see a profound philosopher,' says he,' walk for an hour together in his chamber, and industriously treading, at every step, upon every other board in the flooring.' Every reader will recollect several instances of this nature without my assistance. I think it was Gregorio Leti, who had published as many books as he was years old;* which was a rule he had laid down and punctually observed to the year of his death. It was, perhaps, a thought of the like nature which determined Homer himself to divide cach of his poems into as many books as there are letters in the Greek alphabet. Herodotus has in the same manner adapted his books to the number of the muses, for which reason many a learned Iman hath wished there had been more than nine of that sisterhood.
Several epic poets have religiously followed Virgil as to the number of his books: and even
* This voluminous writer boasted that he had been the author of a book and the father of a child for 20 years successively. Swift counted the number of steps he had made from London to Chelsea. And it is said and demonstrated in the ParentaJia, that bishop Wren walked round the earth while a prisoner in the tower of London.
Milton is thought by many to have changed the number of his books from ten to twelve for no other reason; as Cowley tells us, it was his design, had he finished his Davideis, to have also imitated the Eneid in this particular. I believe every one will agree with me that a perfection of this nature hath no foundation in reason; and, with due respect to these great names, may be looked upon as something whimsical.
I mention these great examples in defence of my bookseller, who occasioned this eighth volume of Spectators, because, as he said, he thought seven a very odd number. On the other side several grave reasons were urged on this important subject; as, in particular, that seven was the precise number of the wise men, and that the most beautiful constellation in the heavens was composed of seven stars. This he allowed to be true, but still insisted that seven was an odd number: suggesting at the same time that, if he were provided with a sufficient stock of leading papers, he should find friends ready enough to carry on the work. Having by this means got his vessel launched and set afloat, he hath committed the steerage of it, from time to time, to such as he thought capable of conducting it.
The close of this volume which the town may now expect in a little time, may possibly ascribe each sheet to its proper author.
It were no hard task to continue this paper a considerable time longer by the help of large contributions sent from unknown hands.
I cannot give the town a better opinion of the Spectator's correspondents than by publishing the following letter, with a very fine copy of verses upon a subject perfectly new.
( MR. SPECTATOR,
Dublin, Nov. 30, 1714.
'You lately recommended to your female readers the good old custom of their grandmothers, who used to lay out a great part of their time in needle work. I entirely agree with you in your sentiments, and think it would not be of less advantage to themselves and their posterity, than to the reputation of many of their good neighbours, if they passed many of those hours in this innocent entertainment which are lost at the tea-table. I would, however, humbly offer to your consideration the case of the poetical ladies; who, though they may be willing to take any advice given them by the Spectator, yet cannot so easily quit their pen and ink as you may imagine. Pray allow them, at least now and then, to indulge themselves in other amusements of fancy when they are tired with stooping to their tapestry. There is a very particular kind of work, which of late several ladies here in our kingdom are very fond of, which seems very well adapted to a poetical genius it is the making of grottos. I know a lady who has a very beautiful one, composed by herself; nor is there one shell in it not stuck up by her own hands. I here send you a poem to the fair architect, which I would not offer to herself until I knew whether this method of a lady's passing her time were approved of by the British Spectator; which, with the poem, I submit to your censure, who am
Your constant reader
and humble servant,
"" ON HER GROTTO.
"A grotto so complete, with such design,