Page images
PDF
EPUB

gether in such an agreeable confusion. Every roeket ended in a constellation, and strowed the air with such a shower of silver spangles, as opened and enlightened the whole scene from time to time. It put me in mind of the lines in Edipus,

Why from the bleeding womb of monstrous night Burst forth such myriads of abortive stars ?' In short, the artist did his part to admiration, and was so encompassed with fire and smoke, that one would have thought nothing but a Salamander could have been safe in such a situation.

I was in company with two or three fanciful friends during this whole show. One of them being a critic, that is, a man who on all occasions is more attentive to what is wanting than what is present, began to exert his talent upon the several objects we had before us. • I am mightily pleased,' says he, with that burning cypher. There is no matter in the world so proper to write with as wild-fire, as no characters can be more legible than those which are read by their own light. But as for your cardinal virtues, I do not care for seeing them in such combustible figures. Who can imagine Chastity with a body of fire, or Temperance in a flame ? Justice indeed may be furnished out of this element as far as her sword goes, and Courage may be all over one continued blaze if the artist pleases.'

Our companion observing that we laughed at this unseasonable severity, let drop the critic, and proposed a subject for a firework, which he thought would be very amusing, if executed by sọ able an artist' as he who was at that time entertaining us. The plan he mentioned was a scene in Milton. He

• There were two artists on this occasion, colonel Hopkey, and colonel Boigard. See advert. ad finem.

would have a large piece of machinery represent the Pan-dæmonium, where

from the arched roof
Pendant by subtle magic, many a row
Of starry lamps, and blazing cressets, fed
With Naphtha and Asphaltus, yielded light

As from a skyThis might be finely represented by several illuminations disposed in a great frame of wood, with ten thousand beautiful exhalations of fire, which men versed in this art know very well how to raise. The evil spirits at the same time might very properly appear in vehicles of flame, and employ all the tricks of Art to terrify and surprise the spectator.

We were well enough pleased with this start of thought, but fancied there was something in it too serious, and perhaps too horrid, to be put in execution.

Upon this a friend of mine gave us an account of a fire-work described, if I am not mistaken, by Strada'. A prince of Italy, it seems, entertained his mistress with it upon a great lake. . In the midst of this lake was a huge floating mountain made by art. The mountain represented Ætna, being bored through the, top with a monstrous orifice. Upon a signal given the eruption began. Fire and smoke, mixed with several unusual prodigies and figures, made their appearance for some time. On a sudden there was heard a most dreadful rumbling noise within the entrails of the machine. After which the mountain burst, and discovered a vast cavity in that side which faced, the prince and his court. Within this hollow was Vulcan's shop full of fire, and clock-work. A column of blue flames issued out incessantly from the forge. Vulcan was employed in hammering, out

1 Strada Prol. Acad. l. ii. Prol. 6. Acad. ii.

thunderbolts, that every now and then flew up from the anvil with dreadful cracks and flashes. Venus stood by him in a figure of the brightest fire, with numberless Cupids on all sides of her, that shot out vollies of burning arrows.

Before her was an altar with hearts of fire flaming on it. I have forgot several other particulars no less curious, and have only mentioned these to show that there may be a sort of fable or design in a fire-work which may give an additional beauty to those surprising objects.

I seldom see any thing that raises wonder in me which does not give my thoughts a turn that makes my heart the better for it. As I was lying in my bed, and ruminating on what I have seen, I could not forbear reflecting on the insignificancy of human art, when set in comparison with the designs of Providence. In the pursuit of this thought I considered a comet, or, in the language of the vulgar, a blazingstar, as a sky-rocket discharged by an hand that is Almighty. Many of my readers saw that in the year 1680, and if they are not mathematicians, will be amazed to hear that it travelled in a much greater degree of swiftness than a cannon-ball, and drew after it a tail of fire that was fourscore millions of miles in length. What an amazing thought is it to consider this stupendous body traversing the immensity of the creation with such a rapidity, and at the same time wheeling about in that line which the Almighty has prescribed for it! that it should move in such inconceivable fury and combustion, and at the same time with such an exact regularity! How spacious must the universe be that gives such bodies as these their full play, without suffering the least disorder or confusion by it! What a glorious show are those beings entertained with, that can look into this great theatre of nature, and see myriads of such tremendous ob

jects wandering through those immeasurable depths of ether, and running their appointed courses! Our eyes may hereafter be strong enough to command this magnificent prospect, and our understandings able to find out the several uses of these great parts of the universe. In the mean time they are very proper objects for our imaginations to contemplate, that we may form more exalted notions of Infinite Wisdom and Power, and learn to think humbly of ourselves, and of all the little works of human invention,

There is now in hand, and will be speedily published an exact draught of the royal Fireworks which were yesterday performed by the directions of colonel Hopkey and colonel Boigard, on the river 'Thames, before Whitehall. Etched by Mr. James Thornhill. Guard. in Folio. No. 102. It is advertised as published that day, in Guardian, No. 120. July 29, 1713.

#t • Showers of rain," says the author of this paper, ' are to be met with in every water-work,' p. 99. The observation probably rose out of the advertisement of Winstanley's Water Theatre, at the end of this number in the Guardian, in fol. which is not different from similar advertisements given before.

[ocr errors]

No. 104. FRIDAY, JULY 10, 1713.*

Tacit.

.

Quæ è longinquo magis placent.
The further fetch'd the more they please.

On Tuesday last" I published two letters written by

* Addison's. * This paper No. 103, as well as the seven preceeding numbers, are distinguished by a hand, the mark of Addison's papers in the Guardian. It is likewise reprinted by Mr. Tickell, in his edit. of Addison's Works, 4to. vol. iv. p. 154.

" See Guard. No. 101. and note, which suggests a conjecture that George Berkeley, then fellow of Trinity college, Dublin, afterwards D.D. and bishop of Cloyne, was really, the author both of that and of this paper, of which Addison appears to have been only the publisher; nevertheless both these papers, Nos. 101 and 104. are reprinted by Mr. Tickell, in his. edition of Addison's Works, 4to. vol. iy. p. 149;, and p. 157, et seqq.

[ocr errors]

a gentleman in his travels. As they were applauded
by my best readers, I shall this day publish two more
from the same hand. The first of them contains a
matter of fact which is very curious, and may deserve
the attention of those who are versed in our British
antiquities.
SIR,

BECAUSE I am at present out of the road of news, I shall send you a story that was lately given me by a gentleman of this country, who is descended from one of the persons concerned in the relation, and very inquisitive to know if there be

any

of the family now in England.

• I shall only premise to it, that this story is preserved with great care among the writings of this gentleman's family, and that it has been given to two or three of our English nobility, when they were in these parts, who could not return any satisfactory answer to the gentleman, whether there be any of that family now remaining in Great Britain.

“ In the reign of king John there lived a nobleman called John de Sigonia, lord of that place in Touraine : his brothers were Philip and Briant. Briant, when very young, was made one of the French king's pages, and served him in that quality when he was taken prisoner by the English. The king of England chanced to see the youth, and being much pleased with his person and behaviour, begged him of the king his prisoner. It happened some years after this, that John the other brother, who in the course of the war had raised himself to a considerable post in the French army, was taken prisoner by Briant, who at that time was an officer in the king of England's guards. Briant knew nothing of his brother, and being naturally of an haughty temper, treated

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »