A JOURNEY FROM THIS WORLD TO THE NEXT
By Henry Fielding
CHAPTER I. The author dies, meets with Mercury, and is by him conducted to the stage which sets out for the other world
CHAPTER II. In which the author first refutes some idle opinions concerning spirits, and then the passengers relate their several deaths.
CHAPTER III. The adventures we met with in the City of Diseases
CHAPTER IV. Discourses on the road, and a description of the palace of Death
CHAPTER V. The travelers proceed on their journey, and meet several spirits who are coming into the flesh
CHAPTER VI. An account of the wheel of fortune, with a method of preparing a spirit for this world
CHAPTER VII. The proceedings of judge Minos at the gate of Elysium
CHAPTER VIII. The adventures which the author met on his first entrance into Elysium
CHAPTER IX. More adventures in Elysium
CHAPTER X. The author is surprised at meeting Julian the apostate in Elysium; but is satisfied by him by what means he procured his entrance there. Julian relates his adventures in the character of a slave
CHAPTER XI. In which Julian relates his adventures in the character of an avaricious Jew
CHAPTER XII. What happened to Julian in the characters of a general, an heir, a carpenter, and a beau
CHAPTER XIII. Julian passes into a fop
CHAPTER XIV. Adventures in the person of a monk
CHAPTER XV. Julian passes into the character of a fiddler
CHAPTER XVI. The history of the wise man
CHAPTER XVII. Julian enters into the person of a king
CHAPTER XVIII. Julian passes into a fool
CHAPTER XIX. Julian appears in the character of a beggar
CHAPTER XX. Julian performs the part of a statesman
CHAPTER XXI. Julian's adventures in the post of a soldier
CHAPTER XXII. What happened to Julian in the person of a tailor
CHAPTER XXIII. The life of alderman Julian
CHAPTER XXIV. Julian recounts what happened to him while he was a poet
CHAPTER XXV. Julian performs the parts of a knight and a dancing-master
CHAPTER VII. Wherein Anna Boleyn relates the history of her life
A JOURNEY FROM THIS WORLD TO THE NEXT
Whether the ensuing pages were really the dream or vision of some very pious and holy person; or whether they were really written in the other world, and sent back to this, which is the opinion of many (though I think too much inclining to superstition); or lastly, whether, as infinitely the greatest part imagine, they were really the production of some choice inhabitant of New Bethlehem, is not necessary nor easy to determine. It will be abundantly sufficient if I give the reader an account by what means they came into my possession. Mr. Robert Powney, stationer, who dwells opposite to Catherine-street in the Strand, a very honest man and of great gravity of countenance; who, among other excellent stationery commodities, is particularly eminent for his pens, which I am abundantly bound to acknowledge, as I owe to their peculiar goodness that my manuscripts have by any means been legible: this gentleman, I say, furnished me some time since with a bundle of those pens, wrapped up with great care and caution, in a very large sheet of paper full of characters, written as it seemed in a very bad hand. Now, I have a surprising curiosity to read everything which is almost illegible; partly perhaps from the sweet remembrance of the dear Scrawls, Skrawls, or Skrales (for the word is variously spelled), which I have in my youth received from that lovely part of the creation for which I have the tenderest regard; and partly from that temper of mind which makes men set an immense value on old manuscripts so effaced, bustoes so maimed, and pictures so black that no one can tell what to make of them. I therefore perused this sheet with wonderful application, and in about a day's time discovered that I could not understand it. I immediately repaired to Mr. Powney, and inquired very eagerly whether he had not more of the same manuscript? He produced about one hundred pages, acquainting me that he had saved no more; but that the book was originally a huge folio, had been left in his garret by a gentleman who lodged there, and who had left him no other satisfaction for nine months' lodging. He proceeded to inform me that the manuscript had been hawked about (as he phrased it) among all the booksellers, who refused to meddle; some alleged that they could not read, others that they could not understand it. Some would haze it to be an atheistical book, and some that it was a libel on the government; for one or other of which reasons they all refused to print it. That it had been likewise shown to the R—l Society, but they shook their heads, saying, there was nothing in it wonderful enough for them. That, hearing the gentleman was gone to the West-Indies, and believing it to be good for nothing else, he had used it as waste paper. He said I was welcome to what remained, and he was heartily sorry for what was missing, as I seemed to set some value on it.
I desired him much to name a price: but he would receive no consideration farther than the payment of a small bill I owed him, which at that time he said he looked on as so much money given him.
I presently communicated this manuscript to my friend parson Abraham Adams, who, after a long and careful perusal, returned it me with his opinion that there was more in it than at first appeared; that the author seemed not entirely unacquainted with the writings of Plato; but he wished he had quoted him sometimes in his margin, that I might be sure (said he) he had read him in the original: for nothing, continued the parson, is commoner than for men now-a-days to pretend to have read Greek authors, who have met with them only in translations, and cannot conjugate a verb in mi.
To deliver my own sentiments on the occasion, I think the author discovers a philosophical turn of thinking, with some little knowledge of the world, and no very inadequate value of it. There are some indeed who, from the vivacity of their temper and the happiness of their station, are willing to consider its blessings as more substantial, and the whole to be a scene of more consequence than it is here represented: but, without controverting their opinions at present, the number of wise and good men who have thought with our author are sufficient to keep him in countenance: nor can this be attended with any ill inference, since he everywhere teaches this moral: That the greatest and truest happiness which this world affords, is to be found only in the possession of goodness and virtue; a doctrine which, as it is undoubtedly true, so hath it so noble and practical a tendency, that it can never be too often or too strongly inculcated on the minds of men.
The author dies, meets with Mercury, and is by him conducted to the stage which sets out for the other world.
On the first day of December 1741  I departed this life at my lodgings in Cheapside. My body had been some time dead before I was at liberty to quit it, lest it should by any accident return to life: this is an injunction imposed on all souls by the eternal law of fate, to prevent the inconveniences which would follow. As soon as the destined period was expired (being no longer than till the body is become perfectly cold and stiff) I began to move; but found myself under a difficulty of making my escape, for the mouth or door was shut, so that it was impossible for me to go out at it; and the windows, vulgarly called the eyes, were so closely pulled down by the fingers of a nurse, that I could by no means open them. At last I perceived a beam of light glimmering at the top of the house (for such I may call the body I had been inclosed in), whither ascending, I gently let myself down through a kind of chimney, and issued out at the nostrils.
No prisoner discharged from a long confinement ever tasted the sweets of liberty with a more exquisite relish than I enjoyed in this delivery from a dungeon wherein I had been detained upwards of forty years, and with much the same kind of regard I cast my eyes  backwards upon it.
My friends and relations had all quitted the room, being all (as I plainly overheard) very loudly quarreling below stairs about my will; there was only an old woman left above to guard the body, as I apprehend. She was in a fast sleep, occasioned, as from her savor it seemed, by a comfortable dose of gin. I had no pleasure in this company, and, therefore, as the window was wide open, I sallied forth into the open air: but, to my great astonishment, found myself unable to fly, which I had always during my habitation in the body conceived of spirits; however, I came so lightly to the ground that I did not hurt myself; and, though I had not the gift of flying (owing probably to my having neither feathers nor wings), I was capable of hopping such a prodigious way at once, that it served my turn almost as well. I had not hopped far before I perceived a tall young gentleman in a silk waistcoat, with a wing on his left heel, a garland on his head, and a caduceus in his right hand.  I thought I had seen this person before, but had not time to recollect where, when he called out to me and asked me how long I had been departed. I answered I was just come forth. "You must not stay here," replied he, "unless you had been murdered: in which case, indeed, you might have been suffered to walk some time; but if you died a natural death you must set out for the other world immediately." I desired to know the way. "O," cried the gentleman, "I will show you to the inn whence the stage proceeds; for I am the porter. Perhaps you never heard of me—my name is Mercury." "Sure, sir," said I, "I have seen you at the play-house." Upon which he smiled, and, without satisfying me as to that point, walked directly forward, bidding me hop after him. I obeyed him, and soon found myself in Warwick-lane; where Mercury, making a full stop, pointed at a particular house, where he bade me enquire for the stage, and, wishing me a good journey, took his leave, saying he must go seek after other customers.
I arrived just as the coach was setting out, and found I had no reason for inquiry; for every person seemed to know my business the moment I appeared at the door: the coachman told me his horses were to, but that he had no place left; however, though there were already six, the passengers offered to make room for me. I thanked them, and ascended without much ceremony. We immediately began our journey, being seven in number; for, as the women wore no hoops, three of them were but equal to two men. Perhaps, reader, thou mayest be pleased with an account of this whole equipage, as peradventure thou wilt not, while alive, see any such. The coach was made by an eminent toyman, who is well known to deal in immaterial substance, that being the matter of which it was compounded. The work was so extremely fine, that it was entirely invisible to the human eye. The horses which drew this extraordinary vehicle were all spiritual, as well as the passengers. They had, indeed, all died in the service of a certain postmaster; and as for the coachman, who was a very thin piece of immaterial substance, he had the honor while alive of driving the Great Peter, or Peter the Great, in whose service his soul, as well as body, was almost starved to death. Such was the vehicle in which I set out, and now, those who are not willing to travel on with me may, if they please, stop here; those who are, must proceed to the subsequent chapters, in which this journey is continued.
In which the author first refutes some idle opinions concerning spirits, and then the passengers relate their several deaths.
It is the common opinion that spirits, like owls, can see in the dark; nay, and can then most easily be perceived by others. For which reason, many persons of good understanding, to prevent being terrified with such objects, usually keep a candle burning by them, that the light may prevent their seeing. Mr. Locke, in direct opposition to this, hath not doubted to assert that you may see a spirit in open daylight full as well as in the darkest night.
It was very dark when we set out from the inn, nor could we see any more than if every soul of us had been alive. We had traveled a good way before any one offered to open his mouth; indeed, most of the company were fast asleep,  but, as I could not close my own eyes, and perceived the spirit who sat opposite to me to be likewise awake, I began to make overtures of conversation, by complaining HOW DARK IT WAS. "And extremely cold too," answered my fellow traveler; "though, I thank God, as I have no body, I feel no inconvenience from it: but you will believe, sir, that this frosty air must seem very sharp to one just issued forth out of an oven; for such was the inflamed habitation I am lately departed from." "How did you come to your end, sir?" said I. "I was murdered, sir," answered the gentleman. "I am surprised then," replied I, "that you did not divert yourself by walking up and down and playing some merry tricks with the murderer." "Oh, sir," returned he, "I had not that privilege, I was lawfully put to death. In short, a physician set me on fire, by giving me medicines to throw out my distemper. I died of a hot regimen, as they call it, in the small-pox."
One of the spirits at that word started up and cried out, "The small-pox! bless me! I hope I am not in company with that distemper, which I have all my life with such caution avoided, and have so happily escaped hitherto!" This fright set all the passengers who were awake into a loud laughter; and the gentleman, recollecting himself, with some confusion, and not without blushing, asked pardon, crying, "I protest I dreamed that I was alive." "Perhaps, sir," said I, "you died of that distemper, which therefore made so strong an impression on you." "No, sir," answered he, "I never had it in my life; but the continual and dreadful apprehension it kept me so long under cannot, I see, be so immediately eradicated. You must know, sir, I avoided coming to London for thirty years together, for fear of the small-pox, till the most urgent business brought me thither about five days ago. I was so dreadfully afraid of this disease that I refused the second night of my arrival to sup with a friend whose wife had recovered of it several months before, and the same evening got a surfeit by eating too many muscles, which brought me into this good company."
"I will lay a wager," cried the spirit who sat next him, "there is not one in the coach able to guess my distemper." I desired the favor of him to acquaint us with it, if it was so uncommon. "Why, sir," said he, "I died of honor."—"Of honor, sir!" repeated I, with some surprise. "Yes, sir," answered the spirit, "of honor, for I was killed in a duel."
"For my part," said a fair spirit, "I was inoculated last summer, and had the good fortune to escape with a very few marks on my face. I esteemed myself now perfectly happy, as I imagined I had no restraint to a full enjoyment of the diversions of the town; but within a few days after my coming up I caught cold by overdancing myself at a ball, and last night died of a violent fever."
After a short silence which now ensued, the fair spirit who spoke last, it being now daylight, addressed herself to a female who sat next her, and asked her to what chance they owed the happiness of her company. She answered, she apprehended to a consumption, but the physicians were not agreed concerning her distemper, for she left two of them in a very hot dispute about it when she came out of her body. "And pray, madam," said the same spirit to the sixth passenger, "How came you to leave the other world?" But that female spirit, screwing up her mouth, answered, she wondered at the curiosity of some people; that perhaps persons had already heard some reports of her death, which were far from being true; that, whatever was the occasion of it, she was glad at being delivered from a world in which she had no pleasure, and where there was nothing but nonsense and impertinence; particularly among her own sex, whose loose conduct she had long been entirely ashamed of.
The beauteous spirit, perceiving her question gave offense, pursued it no farther. She had indeed all the sweetness and good-humor which are so extremely amiable (when found) in that sex which tenderness most exquisitely becomes. Her countenance displayed all the cheerfulness, the good-nature, and the modesty, which diffuse such brightness round the beauty of Seraphina,  awing every beholder with respect, and, at the same time, ravishing him with admiration. Had it not been indeed for our conversation on the small-pox, I should have imagined we had been honored with her identical presence. This opinion might have been heightened by the good sense she uttered whenever she spoke, by the delicacy of her sentiments, and the complacence of her behavior, together with a certain dignity which attended every look, word, and gesture; qualities which could not fail making an impression on a heart  so capable of receiving it as mine, nor was she long in raising in me a very violent degree of seraphic love. I do not intend by this, that sort of love which men are very properly said to make to women in the lower world, and which seldom lasts any longer than while it is making. I mean by seraphic love an extreme delicacy and tenderness of friendship, of which, my worthy reader, if thou hast no conception, as it is probable thou mayest not, my endeavor to instruct thee would be as fruitless as it would be to explain the most difficult problems of Sir Isaac Newton to one ignorant of vulgar arithmetic.
To return therefore to matters comprehensible by all understandings: the discourse now turned on the vanity, folly, and misery of the lower world, from which every passenger in the coach expressed the highest satisfaction in being delivered; though it was very remarkable that, notwithstanding the joy we declared at our death, there was not one of us who did not mention the accident which occasioned it as a thing we would have avoided if we could. Nay, the very grave lady herself, who was the forwardest in testifying her delight, confessed inadvertently that she left a physician by her bedside; and the gentleman who died of honor very liberally cursed both his folly and his fencing. While we were entertaining ourselves with these matters, on a sudden a most offensive smell began to invade our nostrils. This very much resembled the savor which travelers in summer perceive at their approach to that beautiful village of the Hague, arising from those delicious canals which, as they consist of standing water, do at that time emit odors greatly agreeable to a Dutch taste, but not so pleasant to any other. Those perfumes, with the assistance of a fair wind, begin to affect persons of quick olfactory nerves at a league's distance, and increase gradually as you approach. In the same manner did the smell I have just mentioned, more and more invade us, till one of the spirits, looking out of the coach-window, declared we were just arrived at a very large city; and indeed he had scarce said so before we found ourselves in the suburbs, and, at the same time, the coachman, being asked by another, informed us that the name of this place was the City of Diseases. The road to it was extremely smooth, and, excepting the above-mentioned savor, delightfully pleasant. The streets of the suburbs were lined with bagnios, taverns, and cooks' shops: in the first we saw several beautiful women, but in tawdry dresses, looking out at the windows; and in the latter were visibly exposed all kinds of the richest dainties; but on our entering the city we found, contrary to all we had seen in the other world, that the suburbs were infinitely pleasanter than the city itself. It was indeed a very dull, dark, and melancholy place. Few people appeared in the streets, and these, for the most part, were old women, and here and there a formal grave gentleman, who seemed to be thinking, with large tie-wigs on, and amber-headed canes in their hands. We were all in hopes that our vehicle would not stop here; but, to our sorrow, the coach soon drove into an inn, and we were obliged to alight.
The adventures we met with in the City of Diseases.
We had not been long arrived in our inn, where it seems we were to spend the remainder of the day, before our host acquainted us that it was customary for all spirits, in their passage through that city, to pay their respects to that lady Disease, to whose assistance they had owed their deliverance from the lower world. We answered we should not fail in any complacence which was usual to others; upon which our host replied he would immediately send porters to conduct us. He had not long quitted the room before we were attended by some of those grave persons whom I have before described in large tie-wigs with amber-headed canes. These gentlemen are the ticket-porters in the city, and their canes are the insignia, or tickets, denoting their office. We informed them of the several ladies to whom we were obliged, and were preparing to follow them, when on a sudden they all stared at one another, and left us in a hurry, with a frown on every countenance. We were surprised at this behavior, and presently summoned the host, who was no sooner acquainted with it than he burst into an hearty laugh, and told us the reason was, because we did not fee the gentlemen the moment they came in, according to the custom of the place. We answered, with some confusion, we had brought nothing with us from the other world, which we had been all our lives informed was not lawful to do. "No, no, master," replied the host; "I am apprised of that, and indeed it was my fault. I should have first sent you to my lord Scrape,  who would have supplied you with what you want." "My lord Scrape supply us!" said I, with astonishment: "sure you must know we cannot give him security; and I am convinced he never lent a shilling without it in his life." "No, sir," answered the host, "and for that reason he is obliged to do it here, where he is sentenced to keep a bank, and to distribute money gratis to all passengers. This bank originally consisted of just that sum, which he had miserably hoarded up in the other world, and he is to perceive it decrease visibly one shilling a-day, till it is totally exhausted; after which he is to return to the other world, and perform the part of a miser for seventy years; then, being purified in the body of a hog, he is to enter the human species again, and take a second trial." "Sir," said I, "you tell me wonders: but if his bank be to decrease only a shilling a day, how can he furnish all passengers?" "The rest," answered the host, "is supplied again; but in a manner which I cannot easily explain to you." "I apprehend," said I, "this distribution of his money is inflicted on him as a punishment; but I do not see how it can answer that end, when he knows it is to be restored to him again. Would it not serve the purpose as well if he parted only with the single shilling, which it seems is all he is really to lose?" "Sir," cries the host, "when you observe the agonies with which he parts with every guinea, you will be of another opinion. No prisoner condemned to death ever begged so heartily for transportation as he, when he received his sentence, did to go to hell, provided he might carry his money with him. But you will know more of these things when you arrive at the upper world; and now, if you please, I will attend you to my lord's, who is obliged to supply you with whatever you desire."
We found his lordship sitting at the upper end of a table, on which was an immense sum of money, disposed in several heaps, every one of which would have purchased the honor of some patriots and the chastity of some prudes. The moment he saw us he turned pale, and sighed, as well apprehending our business. Mine host accosted him with a familiar air, which at first surprised me, who so well remembered the respect I had formerly seen paid this lord by men infinitely superior in quality to the person who now saluted him in the following manner: "Here, you lord, and be dam—d to your little sneaking soul, tell out your money, and supply your betters with what they want. Be quick, sirrah, or I'll fetch the beadle to you. Don't fancy yourself in the lower world again, with your privilege at your a—." He then shook a cane at his lordship, who immediately began to tell out his money, with the same miserable air and face which the miser on our stage wears while he delivers his bank-bills. This affected some of us so much that we had certainly returned with no more than what would have been sufficient to fee the porters, had not our host, perceiving our compassion, begged us not to spare a fellow who, in the midst of immense wealth, had always refused the least contribution to charity. Our hearts were hardened with this reflection, and we all filled our pockets with his money. I remarked a poetical spirit, in particular, who swore he would have a hearty gripe at him: "For," says he, "the rascal not only refused to subscribe to my works, but sent back my letter unanswered, though I am a better gentleman than himself." We now returned from this miserable object, greatly admiring the propriety as well as justice of his punishment, which consisted, as our host informed us, merely in the delivering forth his money; and, he observed, we could not wonder at the pain this gave him, since it was as reasonable that the bare parting with money should make him miserable as that the bare having money without using it should have made him happy. Other tie-wig porters (for those we had summoned before refused to visit us again) now attended us; and we having fee'd them the instant they entered the room, according to the instructions of our host, they bowed and smiled, and offered to introduce us to whatever disease we pleased.
We set out several ways, as we were all to pay our respects to different ladies. I directed my porter to show me to the Fever on the Spirits, being the disease which had delivered me from the flesh. My guide and I traversed many streets, and knocked at several doors, but to no purpose. At one, we were told, lived the Consumption; at another, the Maladie Alamode, a French lady; at the third, the Dropsy; at the fourth, the Rheumatism; at the fifth, Intemperance; at the sixth, Misfortune. I was tired, and had exhausted my patience, and almost my purse; for I gave my porter a new fee at every blunder he made: when my guide, with a solemn countenance, told me he could do no more; and marched off without any farther ceremony.
He was no sooner gone than I met another gentleman with a ticket, i. e., an amber-headed cane in his hand. I first fee'd him, and then acquainted him with the name of the disease. He cast himself for two or three minutes into a thoughtful posture, then pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket, on which he wrote something in one of the Oriental languages, I believe, for I could not read a syllable: he bade me carry it to such a particular shop, and, telling me it would do my business, he took his leave.
Secure, as I now thought myself, of my direction, I went to the shop, which very much resembled an apothecary's. The person who officiated, having read the paper, took down about twenty different jars, and, pouring something out of every one of them, made a mixture, which he delivered to me in a bottle, having first tied a paper round the neck of it, on which were written three or four words, the last containing eleven syllables. I mentioned the name of the disease I wanted to find out, but received no other answer than that he had done as he was ordered, and the drugs were excellent. I began now to be enraged, and, quitting the shop with some anger in my countenance, I intended to find out my inn, but, meeting in the way a porter whose countenance had in it something more pleasing than ordinary, I resolved to try once more, and clapped a fee into his hand. As soon as I mentioned the disease to him he laughed heartily, and told me I had been imposed on, for in reality no such disease was to be found in that city. He then inquired into the particulars of my case, and was no sooner acquainted with them than he informed me that the Maladie Alamode was the lady to whom I was obliged. I thanked him, and immediately went to pay my respects to her. The house, or rather palace, of this lady was one of the most beautiful and magnificent in the city. The avenue to it was planted with sycamore trees, with beds of flowers on each side; it was extremely pleasant but short. I was conducted through a magnificent hall, adorned with several statues and bustoes, most of them maimed, whence I concluded them all to be true antiques; but was informed they were the figures of several modern heroes, who had died martyrs to her ladyship's cause. I next mounted through a large painted staircase, where several persons were depicted in caricatura; and, upon inquiry, was told they were the portraits of those who had distinguished themselves against the lady in the lower world. I suppose I should have known the faces of many physicians and surgeons, had they not been so violently distorted by the painter. Indeed, he had exerted so much malice in his work, that I believe he had himself received some particular favors from the lady of this mansion: it is difficult to conceive a group of stranger figures. I then entered a long room, hung round with the pictures of women of such exact shapes and features that I should have thought myself in a gallery of beauties, had not a certain sallow paleness in their complexions given me a more distasteful idea. Through this I proceeded to a second apartment, adorned, if I may so call it, with the figures of old ladies. Upon my seeming to admire at this furniture, the servant told me with a smile that these had been very good friends of his lady, and had done her eminent service in the lower world. I immediately recollected the faces of one or two of my acquaintance, who had formerly kept bagnios; but was very much surprised to see the resemblance of a lady of great distinction in such company. The servant, upon my mentioning this, made no other answer than that his lady had pictures of all degrees. I was now introduced into the presence of the lady herself. She was a thin, or rather meager, person, very wan in the countenance, had no nose and many pimples in her face. She offered to rise at my entrance, but could not stand. After many compliments, much congratulation on her side, and the most fervent expressions of gratitude on mine, she asked me many questions concerning the situation of her affairs in the lower world; most of which I answered to her entire satisfaction. At last, with a kind of forced smile, she said, "I suppose the pill and drop go on swimmingly?" I told her they were reported to have done great cures. She replied she could apprehend no danger from any person who was not of regular practice; "for, however simple mankind are," said she, "or however afraid they are of death, they prefer dying in a regular manner to being cured by a nostrum." She then expressed great pleasure at the account I gave her of the beau monde. She said she had herself removed the hundreds of Drury to the hundreds of Charing-cross, and was very much delighted to find they had spread into St. James's; that she imputed this chiefly to several of her dear and worthy friends, who had lately published their excellent works, endeavoring to extirpate all notions of religion and virtue; and particularly to the deserving author of the Bachelor's Estimate; "to whom," said she, "if I had not reason to think he was a surgeon, and had therefore written from mercenary views, I could never sufficiently own my obligations." She spoke likewise greatly in approbation of the method, so generally used by parents, of marrying children very young, and without the least affection between the parties; and concluded by saying that, if these fashions continued to spread, she doubted not but she should shortly be the only disease who would ever receive a visit from any person of considerable rank.
While we were discoursing her three daughters entered the room. They were all called by hard names; the eldest was named Lepra, the second Chaeras, and the third Scorbutia.  They were all genteel, but ugly. I could not help observing the little respect they paid their parent, which the old lady remarking in my countenance, as soon as they quitted the room, which soon happened, acquainted me with her unhappiness in her offspring, every one of which had the confidence to deny themselves to be her children, though she said she had been a very indulgent mother and had plentifully provided for them all. As family complaints generally as much tire the hearer as they relieve him who makes them, when I found her launching farther into this subject I resolved to put an end to my visit, and, taking my leave with many thanks for the favor she had done me, I returned to the inn, where I found my fellow-travelers just mounting into their vehicle. I shook hands with my host and accompanied them into the coach, which immediately after proceeded on its journey.
Discourses on the road, and a description of the palace of Death.
We were all silent for some minutes, till, being well shaken into our several seats, I opened my mouth first, and related what had happened to me after our separation in the city we had just left.
The rest of the company, except the grave female spirit whom our reader may remember to have refused giving an account of the distemper which occasioned her dissolution, did the same. It might be tedious to relate these at large; we shall therefore only mention a very remarkable inveteracy which the Surfeit declared to all the other diseases, especially to the Fever, who, she said, by the roguery of the porters, received acknowledgments from numberless passengers which were due to herself. "Indeed," says she, "those cane-headed fellows" (for so she called them, alluding, I suppose, to their ticket) "are constantly making such mistakes; there is no gratitude in those fellows; for I am sure they have greater obligations to me than to any other disease, except the Vapors." These relations were no sooner over than one of the company informed us we were approaching to the most noble building he had ever beheld, and which we learned from our coachman was the palace of Death. Its outside, indeed, appeared extremely magnificent. Its structure was of the Gothic order; vast beyond imagination, the whole pile consisting of black marble. Rows of immense yews form an amphitheater round it of such height and thickness that no ray of the sun ever perforates this grove, where black eternal darkness would reign was it not excluded by innumerable lamps which are placed in pyramids round the grove; so that the distant reflection they cast on the palace, which is plentifully gilt with gold on the outside, is inconceivably solemn. To this I may add the hollow murmur of winds constantly heard from the grove, and the very remote sound of roaring waters. Indeed, every circumstance seems to conspire to fill the mind with horror and consternation as we approach to this palace, which we had scarce time to admire before our vehicle stopped at the gate, and we were desired to alight in order to pay our respects to his most mortal majesty (this being the title which it seems he assumes). The outward court was full of soldiers, and, indeed, the whole very much resembled the state of an earthly monarch, only more magnificent. We passed through several courts into a vast hall, which led to a spacious staircase, at the bottom of which stood two pages, with very grave countenances, whom I recollected afterwards to have formerly been very eminent undertakers, and were in reality the only dismal faces I saw here; for this palace, so awful and tremendous without, is all gay and sprightly within; so that we soon lost all those dismal and gloomy ideas we had contracted in approaching it. Indeed, the still silence maintained among the guards and attendants resembled rather the stately pomp of eastern courts; but there was on every face such symptoms of content and happiness that diffused an air of cheerfulness all round. We ascended the staircase and passed through many noble apartments whose walls were adorned with various battle-pieces in tapistry, and which we spent some time in observing. These brought to my mind those beautiful ones I had in my lifetime seen at Blenheim, nor could I prevent my curiosity from inquiring where the Duke of Marlborough's victories were placed (for I think they were almost the only battles of any eminence I had read of which I did not meet with); when the skeleton of a beef-eater, shaking his head, told me a certain gentleman, one Lewis XIV, who had great interest with his most mortal majesty, had prevented any such from being hung up there. "Besides," says he, "his majesty hath no great respect for that duke, for he never sent him a subject he could keep from him, nor did he ever get a single subject by his means but he lost 1000 others for him." We found the presence-chamber at our entrance very full, and a buzz ran through it, as in all assemblies, before the principal figure enters; for his majesty was not yet come out. At the bottom of the room were two persons in close conference, one with a square black cap on his head, and the other with a robe embroidered with flames of fire. These, I was informed, were a judge long since dead, and an inquisitor-general. I overheard them disputing with great eagerness whether the one had hanged or the other burned the most. While I was listening to this dispute, which seemed to be in no likelihood of a speedy decision, the emperor entered the room and placed himself between two figures, one of which was remarkable for the roughness, and the other for the beauty of his appearance. These were, it seems, Charles XII of Sweden and Alexander of Macedon. I was at too great a distance to hear any of the conversation, so could only satisfy my curiosity by contemplating the several personages present, of whose names I informed myself by a page, who looked as pale and meager as any court-page in the other world, but was somewhat more modest. He showed me here two or three Turkish emperors, to whom his most mortal majesty seemed to express much civility. Here were likewise several of the Roman emperors, among whom none seemed so much caressed as Caligula, on account, as the page told me, of his pious wish that he could send all the Romans hither at one blow. The reader may be perhaps surprised that I saw no physicians here; as indeed I was myself, till informed that they were all departed to the city of Diseases, where they were busy in an experiment to purge away the immortality of the soul.
It would be tedious to recollect the many individuals I saw here, but I cannot omit a fat figure, well dressed in the French fashion, who was received with extraordinary complacence by the emperor, and whom I imagined to be Lewis XIV himself; but the page acquainted me he was a celebrated French cook. We were at length introduced to the royal presence, and had the honor to kiss hands. His majesty asked us a few questions, not very material to relate, and soon after retired. When we returned into the yard we found our caravan ready to set out, at which we all declared ourselves well pleased; for we were sufficiently tired with the formality of a court, notwithstanding its outward splendor and magnificence.
The travelers proceed on their journey, and meet several spirits who are coming into the flesh.
We now came to the banks of the great river Cocytus, where we quitted our vehicle, and passed the water in a boat, after which we were obliged to travel on foot the rest of our journey; and now we met, for the first time, several passengers traveling to the world we had left, who informed us they were souls going into the flesh.
The two first we met were walking arm-in-arm, in very close and friendly conference; they informed us that one of them was intended for a duke, and the other for a hackney-coachman. As we had not yet arrived at the place where we were to deposit our passions, we were all surprised at the familiarity which subsisted between persons of such different degrees; nor could the grave lady help expressing her astonishment at it. The future coachman then replied, with a laugh, that they had exchanged lots; for that the duke had with his dukedom drawn a shrew for a wife, and the coachman only a single state.
As we proceeded on our journey we met a solemn spirit walking alone with great gravity in his countenance: our curiosity invited us, notwithstanding his reserve, to ask what lot he had drawn.
He answered, with a smile, he was to have the reputation of a wise man with L100,000 in his pocket, and was practicing the solemnity which he was to act in the other world. A little farther we met a company of very merry spirits, whom we imagined by their mirth to have drawn some mighty lot, but, on inquiry, they informed us they were to be beggars.
The farther we advanced, the greater numbers we met; and now we discovered two large roads leading different ways, and of very different appearance; the one all craggy with rocks, full as it seemed of boggy grounds, and everywhere beset with briars, so that it was impossible to pass through it without the utmost danger and difficulty; the other, the most delightful imaginable, leading through the most verdant meadows, painted and perfumed with all kinds of beautiful flowers; in short, the most wanton imagination could imagine nothing more lovely. Notwithstanding which, we were surprised to see great numbers crowding into the former, and only one or two solitary spirits choosing the latter.
On inquiry, we were acquainted that the bad road was the way to greatness, and the other to goodness. When we expressed our surprise at the preference given to the former we were acquainted that it was chosen for the sake of the music of drums and trumpets, and the perpetual acclamations of the mob, with which those who traveled this way were constantly saluted. We were told likewise that there were several noble palaces to be seen, and lodged in, on this road, by those who had passed through the difficulties of it (which indeed many were not able to surmount), and great quantities of all sorts of treasure to be found in it; whereas the other had little inviting more than the beauty of the way, scarce a handsome building, save one greatly resembling a certain house by the Bath, to be seen during that whole journey; and, lastly, that it was thought very scandalous and mean-spirited to travel through this, and as highly honorable and noble to pass by the other. We now heard a violent noise, when, casting our eyes forwards, we perceived a vast number of spirits advancing in pursuit of one whom they mocked and insulted with all kinds of scorn. I cannot give my reader a more adequate idea of this scene than by comparing it to an English mob conducting a pickpocket to the water; or by supposing that an incensed audience at a playhouse had unhappily possessed themselves of the miserable damned poet. Some laughed, some hissed, some squalled, some groaned, some bawled, some spit at him, some threw dirt at him. It was impossible not to ask who or what the wretched spirit was whom they treated in this barbarous manner; when, to our great surprise, we were informed that it was a king: we were likewise told that this manner of behavior was usual among the spirits to those who drew the lots of emperors, kings, and other great men, not from envy or anger, but mere derision and contempt of earthly grandeur; that nothing was more common than for those who had drawn these great prizes (as to us they seemed) to exchange them with tailors and cobblers; and that Alexander the Great and Diogenes had formerly done so; he that was afterwards Diogenes having originally fallen on the lot of Alexander. And now, on a sudden, the mockery ceased, and the king-spirit, having obtained a hearing, began to speak as follows; for we were now near enough to hear him distinctly:—
"GENTLEMEN,—I am justly surprised at your treating me in this manner, since whatever lot I have drawn, I did not choose: if, therefore, it be worthy of derision, you should compassionate me, for it might have fallen to any of your shares. I know in how low a light the station to which fate hath assigned me is considered here, and that, when ambition doth not support it, it becomes generally so intolerable, that there is scarce any other condition for which it is not gladly exchanged: for what portion, in the world to which we are going, is so miserable as that of care? Should I therefore consider myself as become by this lot essentially your superior, and of a higher order of being than the rest of my fellow-creatures; should I foolishly imagine myself without wisdom superior to the wise, without knowledge to the learned, without courage to the brave, and without goodness and virtue to the good and virtuous; surely so preposterous, so absurd a pride, would justly render me the object of ridicule. But far be it from me to entertain it. And yet, gentlemen, I prize the lot I have drawn, nor would I exchange it with any of yours, seeing it is in my eye so much greater than the rest. Ambition, which I own myself possessed of, teaches me this; ambition, which makes me covet praise, assures me that I shall enjoy a much larger proportion of it than can fall within your power either to deserve or obtain. I am then superior to you all, when I am able to do more good, and when I execute that power. What the father is to the son, the guardian to the orphan, or the patron to his client, that am I to you. You are my children, to whom I will be a father, a guardian, and a patron. Not one evening in my long reign (for so it is to be) will I repose myself to rest without the glorious, the heart-warming consideration, that thousands that night owe their sweetest rest to me. What a delicious fortune is it to him whose strongest appetite is doing good, to have every day the opportunity and the power of satisfying it! If such a man hath ambition, how happy is it for him to be seated so on high, that every act blazes abroad, and attracts to him praises tainted with neither sarcasm nor adulation, but such as the nicest and most delicate mind may relish! Thus, therefore, while you derive your good from me, I am your superior. If to my strict distribution of justice you owe the safety of your property from domestic enemies; if by my vigilance and valor you are protected from foreign foes; if by my encouragement of genuine industry, every science, every art which can embellish or sweeten life, is produced and flourishes among you; will any of you be so insensible or ungrateful as to deny praise and respect to him by whose care and conduct you enjoy these blessings? I wonder not at the censure which so frequently falls on those in my station; but I wonder that those in my station so frequently deserve it. What strange perverseness of nature! What wanton delight in mischief must taint his composition, who prefers dangers, difficulty, and disgrace, by doing evil, to safety, ease, and honor, by doing good! who refuses happiness in the other world, and heaven in this, for misery there and hell here! But, be assured, my intentions are different. I shall always endeavor the ease, the happiness, and the glory of my people, being confident that, by so doing, I take the most certain method of procuring them all to myself."—He then struck directly into the road of goodness, and received such a shout of applause as I never remember to have heard equaled. He was gone a little way when a spirit limped after him, swearing he would fetch him back.
This spirit, I was presently informed, was one who had drawn the lot of his prime minister.
An account of the wheel of fortune, with a method of preparing a spirit for this world.
We now proceeded on our journey, without staying to see whether he fulfilled his word or no; and without encountering anything worth mentioning, came to the place where the spirits on their passage to the other world were obliged to decide by lot the station in which every one was to act there. Here was a monstrous wheel, infinitely larger than those in which I had formerly seen lottery-tickets deposited. This was called the WHEEL OF FORTUNE.
The goddess herself was present. She was one of the most deformed females I ever beheld; nor could I help observing the frowns she expressed when any beautiful spirit of her own sex passed by her, nor the affability which smiled in her countenance on the approach of any handsome male spirits. Hence I accounted for the truth of an observation I had often made on earth, that nothing is more fortunate than handsome men, nor more unfortunate than handsome women. The reader may be perhaps pleased with an account of the whole method of equipping a spirit for his entrance into the flesh.
First, then, he receives from a very sage person, whose look much resembled that of an apothecary (his warehouse likewise bearing an affinity to an apothecary's shop), a small phial inscribed, THE PATHETIC POTION, to be taken just before you are born. This potion is a mixture of all the passions, but in no exact proportion, so that sometimes one predominates, and sometimes another; nay, often in the hurry of making up, one particular ingredient is, as we were informed, left out. The spirit receiveth at the same time another medicine called the NOUSPHORIC DECOCTION, of which he is to drink ad libitum. This decoction is an extract from the faculties of the mind, sometimes extremely strong and spirituous, and sometimes altogether as weak; for very little care is taken in the preparation. This decoction is so extremely bitter and unpleasant, that, notwithstanding its wholesomeness, several spirits will not be persuaded to swallow a drop of it, but throw it away, or give it to any other who will receive it; by which means some who were not disgusted by the nauseousness drank double and treble portions. I observed a beautiful young female, who, tasting it immediately from curiosity, screwed up her face and cast it from her with great disdain, whence advancing presently to the wheel, she drew a coronet, which she clapped up so eagerly that I could not distinguish the degree; and indeed I observed several of the same sex, after a very small sip, throw the bottles away. As soon as the spirit is dismissed by the operator, or apothecary, he is at liberty to approach the wheel, where he hath a right to extract a single lot: but those whom Fortune favors she permits sometimes secretly to draw three or four. I observed a comical kind of figure who drew forth a handful, which, when he opened, were a bishop, a general, a privy-counselor, a player, and a poet-laureate, and, returning the three first, he walked off, smiling, with the two last. Every single lot contained two more articles, which were generally disposed so as to render the lots as equal as possible to each other; on one was written, EARL, RICHES, HEALTH, DISQUIETUDE; on another, COBLER, SICKNESS, GOOD-HUMOR; on a third, POET, CONTEMPT, SELF-SATISFACTION; on a fourth, GENERAL, HONOR, DISCONTENT; on a fifth, COTTAGE, HAPPY LOVE; on a sixth, COACH AND SIX, IMPOTENT JEALOUS HUSBAND; on a seventh, PRIME MINISTER, DISGRACE; on an eighth, PATRIOT, GLORY; on a ninth, PHILOSOPHER, POVERTY, EASE; on a tenth, MERCHANT, RICHES, CARE. And indeed the whole seemed to contain such a mixture of good and evil, that it would have puzzled me which to choose. I must not omit here that in every lot was directed whether the drawer should marry or remain in celibacy, the married lots being all marked with a large pair of horns. We were obliged, before we quitted this place, to take each of us an emetic from the apothecary, which immediately purged us of all our earthly passions, and presently the cloud forsook our eyes, as it doth those of Aeneas in Virgil, when removed by Venus; and we discerned things in a much clearer light than before. We began to compassionate those spirits who were making their entry into the flesh, whom we had till then secretly envied, and to long eagerly for those delightful plains which now opened themselves to our eyes, and to which we now hastened with the utmost eagerness. On our way we met with several spirits with very dejected countenances; but our expedition would not suffer us to ask any questions. At length we arrived at the gate of Elysium. Here was a prodigious crowd of spirits waiting for admittance, some of whom were admitted, and some were rejected; for all were strictly examined by the porter, whom I soon discovered to be the celebrated judge Minos.
The proceedings of judge Minos at the gate of Elysium.
I now got near enough to the gate to hear the several claims of those who endeavored to pass. The first among other pretensions, set forth that he had been very liberal to an hospital; but Minos answered, "Ostentation," and repulsed him. The second exhibited that he had constantly frequented his church, been a rigid observer of fast-days: he likewise represented the great animosity he had shown to vice in others, which never escaped his severest censure; and as to his own behavior, he had never been once guilty of whoring, drinking, gluttony, or any other excess. He said he had disinherited his son for getting a bastard. "Have you so?" said Minos; "then pray return into the other world and beget another; for such an unnatural rascal shall never pass this gate." A dozen others, who had advanced with very confident countenances, seeing him rejected, turned about of their own accord, declaring, if he could not pass, they had no expectation, and accordingly they followed him back to earth; which was the fate of all who were repulsed, they being obliged to take a further purification, unless those who were guilty of some very heinous crimes, who were hustled in at a little back gate, whence they tumbled immediately into the bottomless pit.
The next spirit that came up declared he had done neither good nor evil in the world; for that since his arrival at man's estate he had spent his whole time in search of curiosities; and particularly in the study of butterflies, of which he had collected an immense number. Minos made him no answer, but with great scorn pushed him back. There now advanced a very beautiful spirit indeed. She began to ogle Minos the moment she saw him. She said she hoped there was some merit in refusing a great number of lovers, and dying a maid, though she had had the choice of a hundred. Minos told her she had not refused enow yet, and turned her back.
She was succeeded by a spirit who told the judge he believed his works would speak for him. "What works?" answered Minos. "My dramatic works," replied the other, "which have done so much good in recommending virtue and punishing vice." "Very well," said the judge; "if you please to stand by, the first person who passes the gate by your means shall carry you in with him; but, if you will take my advice, I think, for expedition sake, you had better return, and live another life upon earth." The bard grumbled at this, and replied that, besides his poetical works, he had done some other good things: for that he had once lent the whole profits of a benefit-night to a friend, and by that means had saved him and his family from destruction. Upon this the gate flew open, and Minos desired him to walk in, telling him, if he had mentioned this at first, he might have spared the remembrance of his plays. The poet answered, he believed, if Minos had read his works, he would set a higher value on them. He was then beginning to repeat, but Minos pushed him forward, and, turning his back to him, applied himself to the next passenger, a very genteel spirit, who made a very low bow to Minos, and then threw himself into an erect attitude, and imitated the motion of taking snuff with his right hand. Minos asked him what he had to say for himself. He answered, he would dance a minuet with any spirit in Elysium: that he could likewise perform all his other exercises very well, and hoped he had in his life deserved the character of a perfect fine gentleman. Minos replied it would be great pity to rob the world of so fine a gentleman, and therefore desired him to take the other trip. The beau bowed, thanked the judge, and said he desired no better.
Several spirits expressed much astonishment at this his satisfaction; but we were afterwards informed he had not taken the emetic above mentioned.
A miserable old spirit now crawled forwards, whose face I thought I had formerly seen near Westminster Abbey. He entertained Minos with a long harangue of what he had done when in the HOUSE; and then proceeded to inform him how much he was worth, without attempting to produce a single instance of any one good action. Minos stopped the career of his discourse, and acquainted him he must take a trip back again.
"What! to S—— house?" said the spirit in an ecstasy; but the judge, without making him any answer, turned to another, who with a very solemn air and great dignity, acquainted him he was a duke. "To the right-about, Mr. Duke," cried Minos, "you are infinitely too great a man for Elysium;" and then, giving him a kick on the b—ch, he addressed himself to a spirit who, with fear and trembling, begged he might not go to the bottomless pit: he said he hoped Minos would consider that, though he had gone astray, he had suffered for it—that it was necessity which drove him to the robbery of eighteenpence, which he had committed, and for which he was hanged—that he had done some good actions in his life—that he had supported an aged parent with his labor—that he had been a very tender husband and a kind father—and that he had ruined himself by being bail for his friend. At which words the gate opened, and Minos bade him enter, giving him a slap on the back as he passed by him. A great number of spirits now came forwards, who all declared they had the same claim, and that the captain should speak for them. He acquainted the judge that they had been all slain in the service of their country. Minos was going to admit them, but had the curiosity to ask who had been the invader, in order, as he said, to prepare the back gate for him. The captain answered they had been the invaders themselves—that they had entered the enemy's country, and burned and plundered several cities. "And for what reason?" said Minos. "By the command of him who paid us," said the captain; "that is the reason of a soldier. We are to execute whatever we are commanded, or we should be a disgrace to the army, and very little deserve our pay." "You are brave fellows indeed," said Minos; "but be pleased to face about, and obey my command for once, in returning back to the other world: for what should such fellows as you do where there are no cities to be burned, nor people to be destroyed? But let me advise you to have a stricter regard to truth for the future, and not call the depopulating other countries the service of your own." The captain answered, in a rage, "D—n me! do you give me the lie?" and was going to take Minos by the nose had not his guards prevented him, and immediately turned him and all his followers back the same road they came.
Four spirits informed the judge that they had been starved to death through poverty—being the father, mother, and two children; that they had been honest and as industrious as possible, till sickness had prevented the man from labor. "All that is very true," cried a grave spirit who stood by. "I know the fact; for these poor people were under my cure." "You was, I suppose, the parson of the parish," cries Minos; "I hope you had a good living, sir." "That was but a small one," replied the spirit; "but I had another a little better."—"Very well," said Minos; "let the poor people pass." At which the parson was stepping forwards with a stately gait before them; but Minos caught hold of him and pulled him back, saying, "Not so fast, doctor—you must take one step more into the other world first; for no man enters that gate without charity." A very stately figure now presented himself, and, informing Minos he was a patriot, began a very florid harangue on public virtue and the liberties of his country. Upon which Minos showed him the utmost respect, and ordered the gate to be opened. The patriot was not contented with this applause; he said he had behaved as well in place as he had done in the opposition; and that, though he was now obliged to embrace the court measures, yet he had behaved very honestly to his friends, and brought as many in as was possible. "Hold a moment," says Minos: "on second consideration, Mr. Patriot, I think a man of your great virtue and abilities will be so much missed by your country, that, if I might advise you, you should take a journey back again. I am sure you will not decline it; for I am certain you will, with great readiness, sacrifice your own happiness to the public good." The patriot smiled, and told Minos he believed he was in jest; and was offering to enter the gate, but the judge laid fast hold of him and insisted on his return, which the patriot still declining, he at last ordered his guards to seize him and conduct him back.
A spirit now advanced, and the gate was immediately thrown open to him before he had spoken a word. I heard some whisper, "That is our last lord mayor."
It now came to our company's turn. The fair spirit which I mentioned with so much applause in the beginning of my journey passed through very easily; but the grave lady was rejected on her first appearance, Minos declaring there was not a single prude in Elysium.
The judge then addressed himself to me, who little expected to pass this fiery trial. I confessed I had indulged myself very freely with wine and women in my youth, but had never done an injury to any man living, nor avoided an opportunity of doing good; that I pretended to very little virtue more than general philanthropy and private friendship. I was proceeding, when Minos bade me enter the gate, and not indulge myself with trumpeting forth my virtues. I accordingly passed forward with my lovely companion, and, embracing her with vast eagerness, but spiritual innocence, she returned my embrace in the same manner, and we both congratulated ourselves on our arrival in this happy region, whose beauty no painting of the imagination can describe.
The adventures which the author met on his first entrance into Elysium.
We pursued our way through a delicious grove of orange-trees, where I saw infinite numbers of spirits, every one of whom I knew, and was known by them (for spirits here know one another by intuition). I presently met a little daughter whom I had lost several years before. Good gods! what words can describe the raptures, the melting passionate tenderness, with which we kissed each other, continuing in our embrace, with the most ecstatic joy, a space which, if time had been measured here as on earth, could not be less than half a year.
The first spirit with whom I entered into discourse was the famous Leonidas of Sparta. I acquainted him with the honors which had been done him by a celebrated poet of our nation; to which he answered he was very much obliged to him. We were presently afterwards entertained with the most delicious voice I had ever heard, accompanied by a violin, equal to Signior Piantinida. I presently discovered the musician and songster to be Orpheus and Sappho.
Old Homer was present at this concert (if I may so call it), and Madam Dacier sat in his lap. He asked much after Mr. Pope, and said he was very desirous of seeing him; for that he had read his Iliad in his translation with almost as much delight as he believed he had given others in the original. I had the curiosity to inquire whether he had really writ that poem in detached pieces, and sung it about as ballads all over Greece, according to the report which went of him. He smiled at my question, and asked me whether there appeared any connection in the poem; for if there did he thought I might answer myself. I then importuned him to acquaint me in which of the cities which contended for the honor of his birth he was really born? To which he answered, "Upon my soul I can't tell."
Virgil then came up to me, with Mr. Addison under his arm. "Well, sir," said he, "how many translations have these few last years produced of my Aeneid?" I told him I believed several, but I could not possibly remember; for that I had never read any but Dr. Trapp's. "Ay," said he, "that is a curious piece indeed!" I then acquainted him with the discovery made by Mr. Warburton of the Elusinian mysteries couched in his sixth book. "What mysteries?" said Mr. Addison. "The Elusinian," answered Virgil, "which I have disclosed in my sixth book." "How!" replied Addison. "You never mentioned a word of any such mysteries to me in all our acquaintance." "I thought it was unnecessary," cried the other, "to a man of your infinite learning: besides, you always told me you perfectly understood my meaning." Upon this I thought the critic looked a little out of countenance, and turned aside to a very merry spirit, one Dick Steele, who embraced him, and told him he had been the greatest man upon earth; that he readily resigned up all the merit of his own works to him. Upon which Addison gave him a gracious smile, and, clapping him on the back with much solemnity, cried out, "Well said, Dick!"
I then observed Shakespeare standing between Betterton and Booth, and deciding a difference between those two great actors concerning the placing an accent in one of his lines: this was disputed on both sides with a warmth which surprised me in Elysium, till I discovered by intuition that every soul retained its principal characteristic, being, indeed, its very essence. The line was that celebrated one in Othello—
PUT OUT THE LIGHT, AND THEN PUT OUT THE LIGHT. according to Betterton. Mr. Booth contended to have it thus:—
Put out the light, and then put out THE light. I could not help offering my conjecture on this occasion, and suggested it might perhaps be—
Put out the light, and then put out THY light. Another hinted a reading very sophisticated in my opinion—
Put out the light, and then put out THEE, light, making light to be the vocative case. Another would have altered the last word, and read—
PUT OUT THY LIGHT, AND THEN PUT OUT THY SIGHT. But Betterton said, if the text was to be disturbed, he saw no reason why a word might not be changed as well as a letter, and, instead of "put out thy light," you may read "put out thy eyes." At last it was agreed on all sides to refer the matter to the decision of Shakespeare himself, who delivered his sentiments as follows: "Faith, gentlemen, it is so long since I wrote the line, I have forgot my meaning. This I know, could I have dreamed so much nonsense would have been talked and writ about it, I would have blotted it out of my works; for I am sure, if any of these be my meaning, it doth me very little honor."
He was then interrogated concerning some other ambiguous passages in his works; but he declined any satisfactory answer; saying, if Mr. Theobald had not writ about it sufficiently, there were three or four more new editions of his plays coming out, which he hoped would satisfy every one: concluding, "I marvel nothing so much as that men will gird themselves at discovering obscure beauties in an author. Certes the greatest and most pregnant beauties are ever the plainest and most evidently striking; and when two meanings of a passage can in the least balance our judgments which to prefer, I hold it matter of unquestionable certainty that neither of them is worth a farthing." From his works our conversation turned on his monument; upon which, Shakespeare, shaking his sides, and addressing himself to Milton, cried out, "On my word, brother Milton, they have brought a noble set of poets together; they would have been hanged erst have [ere they had] convened such a company at their tables when alive." "True, brother," answered Milton, "unless we had been as incapable of eating then as we are now."
More adventures in Elysium.
A crowd of spirits now joined us, whom I soon perceived to be the heroes, who here frequently pay their respects to the several bards the recorders of their actions. I now saw Achilles and Ulysses addressing themselves to Homer, and Aeneas and Julius Caesar to Virgil: Adam went up to Milton, upon which I whispered Mr. Dryden that I thought the devil should have paid his compliments there, according to his opinion. Dryden only answered, "I believe the devil was in me when I said so." Several applied themselves to Shakespeare, amongst whom Henry V made a very distinguishing appearance. While my eyes were fixed on that monarch a very small spirit came up to me, shook me heartily by the hand, and told me his name was THOMAS THUMB. I expressed great satisfaction in seeing him, nor could I help speaking my resentment against the historian, who had done such injustice to the stature of this great little man, which he represented to be no bigger than a span, whereas I plainly perceived at first sight he was full a foot and a half (and the 37th part of an inch more, as he himself informed me), being indeed little shorter than some considerable beaux of the present age. I asked this little hero concerning the truth of those stories related of him, viz., of the pudding, and the cow's belly. As to the former, he said it was a ridiculous legend, worthy to be laughed at; but as to the latter, he could not help owning there was some truth in it: nor had he any reason to be ashamed of it, as he was swallowed by surprise; adding, with great fierceness, that if he had had any weapon in his hand the cow should have as soon swallowed the devil.
He spoke the last word with so much fury, and seemed so confounded, that, perceiving the effect it had on him, I immediately waived the story, and, passing to other matters, we had much conversation touching giants. He said, so far from killing any, he had never seen one alive; that he believed those actions were by mistake recorded of him, instead of Jack the giant-killer, whom he knew very well, and who had, he fancied, extirpated the race. I assured him to the contrary, and told him I had myself seen a huge tame giant, who very complacently stayed in London a whole winter, at the special request of several gentlemen and ladies; though the affairs of his family called him home to Sweden.
I now beheld a stern-looking spirit leaning on the shoulder of another spirit, and presently discerned the former to be Oliver Cromwell, and the latter Charles Martel. I own I was a little surprised at seeing Cromwell here, for I had been taught by my grandmother that he was carried away by the devil himself in a tempest; but he assured me, on his honor, there was not the least truth in that story. However, he confessed he had narrowly escaped the bottomless pit; and, if the former part of his conduct had not been more to his honor than the latter, he had been certainly soused into it. He was, nevertheless, sent back to the upper world with this lot:—ARMY, CAVALIER, DISTRESS.
He was born, for the second time, the day of Charles II's restoration, into a family which had lost a very considerable fortune in the service of that prince and his father, for which they received the reward very often conferred by princes on real merit, viz.—000. At 16 his father bought a small commission for him in the army, in which he served without any promotion all the reigns of Charles II and of his brother. At the Revolution he quitted his regiment, and followed the fortunes of his former master, and was in his service dangerously wounded at the famous battle of the Boyne, where he fought in the capacity of a private soldier. He recovered of this wound, and retired after the unfortunate king to Paris, where he was reduced to support a wife and seven children (for his lot had horns in it) by cleaning shoes and snuffing candles at the opera. In which situation, after he had spent a few miserable years, he died half-starved and broken-hearted. He then revisited Minos, who, compassionating his sufferings by means of that family, to whom he had been in his former capacity so bitter an enemy, suffered him to enter here.
My curiosity would not refrain asking him one question, i. e., whether in reality he had any desire to obtain the crown? He smiled, and said, "No more than an ecclesiastic hath to the miter, when he cries Nolo episcopari." Indeed, he seemed to express some contempt at the question, and presently turned away.
A venerable spirit appeared next, whom I found to be the great historian Livy. Alexander the Great, who was just arrived from the palace of death, passed by him with a frown. The historian, observing it, said, "Ay, you may frown; but those troops which conquered the base Asiatic slaves would have made no figure against the Romans." We then privately lamented the loss of the most valuable part of his history; after which he took occasion to commend the judicious collection made by Mr. Hook, which, he said, was infinitely preferable to all others; and at my mentioning Echard's he gave a bounce, not unlike the going off of a squib, and was departing from me, when I begged him to satisfy my curiosity in one point—whether he was really superstitious or no? For I had always believed he was till Mr. Leibnitz had assured me to the contrary. He answered sullenly, "Doth Mr. Leibnitz know my mind better than myself?" and then walked away.
The author is surprised at meeting Julian the apostate in Elysium; but is satisfied by him by what means he procured his entrance there. Julian relates his adventures in the character of a slave.
As he was departing I heard him salute a spirit by the name of Mr. Julian the apostate. This exceedingly amazed me; for I had concluded that no man ever had a better title to the bottomless pit than he. But I soon found that this same Julian the apostate was also the very individual archbishop Latimer. He told me that several lies had been raised on him in his former capacity, nor was he so bad a man as he had been represented. However, he had been denied admittance, and forced to undergo several subsequent pilgrimages on earth, and to act in the different characters of a slave, a Jew, a general, an heir, a carpenter, a beau, a monk, a fiddler, a wise man, a king, a fool, a beggar, a prince, a statesman, a soldier, a tailor, an alderman, a poet, a knight, a dancing-master, and three times a bishop, before his martyrdom, which, together with his other behavior in this last character, satisfied the judge, and procured him a passage to the blessed regions.
I told him such various characters must have produced incidents extremely entertaining; and if he remembered all, as I supposed he did, and had leisure, I should be obliged to him for the recital. He answered he perfectly recollected every circumstance; and as to leisure, the only business of that happy place was to contribute to the happiness of each other. He therefore thanked me for adding to his, in proposing to him a method of increasing mine. I then took my little darling in one hand, and my favorite fellow-traveler in the other, and, going with him to a sunny bank of flowers, we all sat down, and he began as follows:—"I suppose you are sufficiently acquainted with my story during the time I acted the part of the emperor Julian, though I assure you all which hath been related of me is not true, particularly with regard to the many prodigies forerunning my death. However, they are now very little worth disputing; and if they can serve any purpose of the historian they are extremely at his service. My next entrance into the world was at Laodicea, in Syria, in a Roman family of no great note; and, being of a roving disposition, I came at the age of seventeen to Constantinople, where, after about a year's stay, I set out for Thrace, at the time when the emperor Valens admitted the Goths into that country. I was there so captivated with the beauty of a Gothic lady, the wife of one Rodoric, a captain, whose name, out of the most delicate tenderness for her lovely sex, I shall even at this distance conceal; since her behavior to me was more consistent with good-nature than with that virtue which women are obliged to preserve against every assailant. In order to procure an intimacy with this woman I sold myself a slave to her husband, who, being of a nation not over-inclined to jealousy, presented me to his wife, for those very reasons which would have induced one of a jealous complexion to have withheld me from her, namely, for that I was young and handsome.
"Matters succeeded so far according to my wish, and the sequel answered those hopes which this beginning had raised. I soon perceived my service was very acceptable to her; I often met her eyes, nor did she withdraw them without a confusion which is scarce consistent with entire purity of heart. Indeed, she gave me every day fresh encouragement; but the unhappy distance which circumstances had placed between us deterred me long from making any direct attack; and she was too strict an observer of decorum to violate the severe rules of modesty by advancing first; but passion at last got the better of my respect, and I resolved to make one bold attempt, whatever was the consequence. Accordingly, laying hold of the first kind opportunity, when she was alone and my master abroad, I stoutly assailed the citadel and carried it by storm. Well may I say by storm; for the resistance I met was extremely resolute, and indeed as much as the most perfect decency would require. She swore often she would cry out for help; but I answered it was in vain, seeing there was no person near to assist her; and probably she believed me, for she did not once actually cry out, which if she had, I might very likely have been prevented.
"When she found her virtue thus subdued against her will she patiently submitted to her fate, and quietly suffered me a long time to enjoy the most delicious fruits of my victory; but envious fortune resolved to make me pay a dear price for my pleasure. One day in the midst of our happiness we were suddenly surprised by the unexpected return of her husband, who, coming directly into his wife's apartment, just allowed me time to creep under the bed. The disorder in which he found his wife might have surprised a jealous temper; but his was so far otherwise, that possibly no mischief might have happened had he not by a cross accident discovered my legs, which were not well hid. He immediately drew me out by them, and then, turning to his wife with a stern countenance, began to handle a weapon he wore by his side, with which I am persuaded he would have instantly dispatched her, had I not very gallantly, and with many imprecations, asserted her innocence and my own guilt; which, however, I protested had hitherto gone no farther than design. She so well seconded my plea (for she was a woman of wonderful art), that he was at length imposed upon; and now all his rage was directed against me, threatening all manner of tortures, which the poor lady was in too great a fright and confusion to dissuade him from executing; and perhaps, if her concern for me had made her attempt it, it would have raised a jealousy in him not afterwards to be removed.
"After some hesitation Roderic cried out he had luckily hit on the most proper punishment for me in the world, by a method which would at once do severe justice on me for my criminal intention, and at the same time prevent me from any danger of executing my wicked purpose hereafter. This cruel resolution was immediately executed, and I was no longer worthy the name of a man.
"Having thus disqualified me from doing him any future injury, he still retained me in his family; but the lady, very probably repenting of what she had done, and looking on me as the author of her guilt, would never for the future give me either a kind word or look: and shortly after, a great exchange being made between the Romans and the Goths of dogs for men, my lady exchanged me with a Roman widow for a small lap-dog, giving a considerable sum of money to boot.
"In this widow's service I remained seven years, during all which time I was very barbarously treated. I was worked without the least mercy, and often severely beat by a swinging maid-servant, who never called me by any other names than those of the Thing and the Animal. Though I used my utmost industry to please, it never was in my power. Neither the lady nor her woman would eat anything I touched, saying they did not believe me wholesome. It is unnecessary to repeat particulars; in a word, you can imagine no kind of ill usage which I did not suffer in this family.
"At last an heathen priest, an acquaintance of my lady's, obtained me of her for a present. The scene was now totally changed, and I had as much reason to be satisfied with my present situation as I had to lament my former. I was so absolutely my master's favorite, that the rest of the slaves paid me almost as much regard as they showed to him, well knowing that it was entirely in my power to command and treat them as I pleased. I was intrusted with all my master's secrets, and used to assist him in privately conveying away by night the sacrifices from the altars, which the people believed the deities themselves devoured. Upon these we feasted very elegantly, nor could invention suggest a rarity which we did not pamper ourselves with. Perhaps you may admire at the close union between this priest and his slave, but we lived in an intimacy which the Christians thought criminal; but my master, who knew the will of the gods, with whom he told me he often conversed, assured me it was perfectly innocent.
"This happy life continued about four years, when my master's death, occasioned by a surfeit got by overfeeding on several exquisite dainties, put an end to it.
"I now fell into the hands of one of a very different disposition, and this was no other than the celebrated St. Chrysostom, who dieted me with sermons instead of sacrifices, and filled my ears with good things, but not my belly. Instead of high food to fatten and pamper my flesh, I had receipts to mortify and reduce it. With these I edified so well, that within a few months I became a skeleton. However, as he had converted me to his faith, I was well enough satisfied with this new manner of living, by which he taught me I might insure myself an eternal reward in a future state. The saint was a good-natured man, and never gave me an ill word but once, which was occasioned by my neglecting to place Aristophanes, which was his constant bedfellow, on his pillow. He was, indeed, extremely fond of that Greek poet, and frequently made me read his comedies to him. When I came to any of the loose passages he would smile, and say, 'It was pity his matter was not as pure as his style;' of which latter he was so immoderately fond that, notwithstanding the detestation he expressed for obscenity, he hath made me repeat those passages ten times over. The character of this good man hath been very unjustly attacked by his heathen contemporaries, particularly with regard to women; but his severe invectives against that sex are his sufficient justification.
"From the service of this saint, from whom I received manumission, I entered into the family of Timasius, a leader of great eminence in the imperial army, into whose favor I so far insinuated myself that he preferred me to a good command, and soon made me partaker of both his company and his secrets. I soon grew intoxicated with this preferment, and the more he loaded me with benefits the more he raised my opinion of my own merit, which, still outstripping the rewards he conferred on me, inspired me rather with dissatisfaction than gratitude. And thus, by preferring me beyond my merit or first expectation, he made me an envious aspiring enemy, whom perhaps a more moderate bounty would have preserved a dutiful servant.
"I fell now acquainted with one Lucilius, a creature of the prime minister Eutropius, who had by his favor been raised to the post of a tribune; a man of low morals, and eminent only in that meanest of qualities, cunning. This gentleman, imagining me a fit tool for the minister's purpose, having often sounded my principles of honor and honesty, both which he declared to me were words without meaning, and finding my ready concurrence in his sentiments, recommended me to Eutropius as very proper to execute some wicked purposes he had contrived against my frend Timasius. The minister embraced this recommendation, and I was accordingly acquainted by Lucilius (after some previous accounts of the great esteem Eutropius entertained of me, from the testimony he had borne of my parts) that he would introduce me to him; adding that he was a great encourager of merit, and that I might depend upon his favor.
"I was with little difficulty prevailed on to accept of this invitation. A late hour therefore the next evening being appointed, I attended my friend Lucilius to the minister's house.
"He received me with the utmost civility and cheerfulness, and affected so much regard to me, that I, who knew nothing of these high scenes of life, concluded I had in him a most disinterested friend, owing to the favorable report which Lucilius had made of me. I was however soon cured of this opinion; for immediately after supper our discourse turned on the injustice which the generality of the world were guilty of in their conduct to great men, expecting that they should reward their private merit, without ever endeavoring to apply it to their use. 'What avail,' said Eutropius, 'the learning, wit, courage, or any virtue which a man may be possessed of, to me, unless I receive some benefit from them? Hath he not more merit to me who doth my business and obeys my commands, without any of these qualities?' I gave such entire satisfaction in my answers on this head, that both the minister and his creature grew bolder, and after some preface began to accuse Timasius. At last, finding I did not attempt to defend him, Lucilius swore a great oath that he was not fit to live, and that he would destroy him. Eutropius answered that it would be too dangerous a task: 'Indeed,' says he, 'his crimes are of so black a dye, and so well known to the emperor, that his death must be a very acceptable service, and could not fail meeting a proper reward: but I question whether you are capable of executing it.' 'If he is not,' cried I, 'I am; and surely no man can have greater motives to destroy him than myself: for, besides his disloyalty to my prince, for whom I have so perfect a duty, I have private disobligations to him. I have had fellows put over my head, to the great scandal of the service in general, and to my own prejudice and disappointment in particular.' I will not repeat you my whole speech; but, to be as concise as possible, when we parted that evening the minister squeezed me heartily by the hand, and with great commendation of my honesty and assurances of his favor, he appointed me the next evening to come to him alone; when, finding me, after a little more scrutiny, ready for his purpose, he proposed to me to accuse Timasius of high treason, promising me the highest rewards if I would undertake it. The consequence to him, I suppose you know, was ruin; but what was it to me? Why, truly, when I waited on Eutropius for the fulfilling his promises, received me with great distance and coldness; and, on my dropping some hints of my expectations from him, he affected not to understand me; saying he thought impunity was the utmost I could hope for on discovering my accomplice, whose offense was only greater than mine, as he was in a higher station; and telling me he had great difficulty to obtain a pardon for me from the emperor, which he said, he had struggled very hardly for, as he had worked the discovery out of me. He turned away, and addressed himself to another person.
"I was so incensed at this treatment, that I resolved revenge, and should certainly have pursued it, had he not cautiously prevented me by taking effectual means to despatch me soon after out of the world.
"You will, I believe, now think I had a second good chance for the bottomless pit, and indeed Minos seemed inclined to tumble me in, till he was informed of the revenge taken on me by Roderic, and my seven years' subsequent servitude to the widow; which he thought sufficient to make atonement for all the crimes a single life could admit of, and so sent me back to try my fortune a third time."
In which Julian relates his adventures in the character of an avaricious Jew.
"The next character in which I was destined to appear in the flesh was that of an avaricious Jew. I was born in Alexandria in Egypt. My name was Balthazar. Nothing very remarkable happened to me till the year of the memorable tumult in which the Jews of that city are reported in history to have massacred more Christians than at that time dwelt in it. Indeed, the truth is, they did maul the dogs pretty handsomely; but I myself was not present, for as all our people were ordered to be armed, I took that opportunity of selling two swords, which probably I might otherwise never have disposed of, they being extremely old and rusty; so that, having no weapon left, I did not care to venture abroad. Besides, though I really thought it an act meriting salvation to murder the Nazarenes, as the fact was to be committed at midnight, at which time, to avoid suspicion, we were all to sally from our own houses, I could not persuade myself to consume so much oil in sitting up to that hour: for these reasons therefore I remained at home that evening.
"I was at this time greatly enamored with one Hypatia, the daughter of a philosopher; a young lady of the greatest beauty and merit: indeed, she had every imaginable ornament both of mind and body. She seemed not to dislike my person; but there were two obstructions to our marriage, viz., my religion and her poverty: both which might probably have been got over, had not those dogs the Christians murdered her; and, what is worse, afterwards burned her body: worse, I say, because I lost by that means a jewel of some value, which I had presented to her, designing, if our nuptials did not take place, to demand it of her back again.
"Being thus disappointed in my love, I soon after left Alexandria and went to the imperial city, where I apprehended I should find a good market for jewels on the approaching marriage of the emperor with Athenais. I disguised myself as a beggar on this journey, for these reasons: first, as I imagined I should thus carry my jewels with greater safety; and, secondly, to lessen my expenses; which latter expedient succeeded so well, that I begged two oboli on my way more than my traveling cost me, my diet being chiefly roots, and my drink water.
"But perhaps, it had been better for me if I had been more lavish and more expeditious; for the ceremony was over before I reached Constantinople; so that I lost that glorious opportunity of disposing of my jewels with which many of our people were greatly enriched.
"The life of a miser is very little worth relating, as it is one constant scheme of getting or saving money. I shall therefore repeat to you some few only of my adventures, without regard to any order.
"A Roman Jew, who was a great lover of Falernian wine, and who indulged himself very freely with it, came to dine at my house; when, knowing he should meet with little wine, and that of the cheaper sort, sent me in half-a-dozen jars of Falernian. Can you believe I would not give this man his own wine? Sir, I adulterated it so that I made six jars of [them] three, which he and his friend drank; the other three I afterwards sold to the very person who originally sent them me, knowing he would give a better price than any other.
"A noble Roman came one day to my house in the country, which I had purchased, for half the value, of a distressed person. My neighbors paid him the compliment of some music, on which account, when he departed, he left a piece of gold with me to be distributed among them. I pocketed this money, and ordered them a small vessel of sour wine, which I could not have sold for above two drachms, and afterwards made them pay in work three times the value of it.
"As I was not entirely void of religion, though I pretended to infinitely more than I had, so I endeavored to reconcile my transactions to my conscience as well as possible. Thus I never invited any one to eat with me, but those on whose pockets I had some design. After our collation it was constantly my method to set down in a book I kept for that purpose, what I thought they owed me for their meal. Indeed, this was generally a hundred times as much as they could have dined elsewhere for; but, however, it was quid pro quo, if not ad valorem. Now, whenever the opportunity offered of imposing on them I considered it only as paying myself what they owed me: indeed, I did not always confine myself strictly to what I had set down, however extravagant that was; but I reconciled taking the overplus to myself as usance.
"But I was not only too cunning for others—I sometimes overreached myself. I have contracted distempers for want of food and warmth, which have put me to the expense of a physician; nay, I once very narrowly escaped death by taking bad drugs, only to save one seven-eighth per cent in the price.
"By these and such like means, in the midst of poverty and every kind of distress, I saw myself master of an immense fortune, the casting up and ruminating on which was my daily and only pleasure. This was, however, obstructed and embittered by two considerations, which against my will often invaded my thoughts. One, which would have been intolerable (but that indeed seldom troubled me), was, that I must one day leave my darling treasure.