The Tatler: By the Right Honourable Joseph Addison, Esq;.
Addison, Joseph, 1672-1719.
Page  11

No. 81. Saturday, October 15. 1709.

Hic manus ob partriam pugnando vulnera passi,
Quique pii Vates et Phoebo digna locuti,
Inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes,
Quique sui memores alios fecere merendo.

VIRG.

From my own apartment, October 14.

THERE are two kinds of immortality; that which the soul really enjoys after this life, and that imaginary existence by which men live in their fame and reputation. The best and greatest actions have proceeded from the prospect of the one or other of these; but my design is to treat only of those who have chiefly proposed to themselves the latter as the principal reward of their labours. It was for this rea∣son that I excluded from my tables of fame all the great founders and votaries of religion; and it is for this rea∣son also that I am more than ordinarily anxious to do justice to the persons of whom I am now going to speak; for since Fame was the only end of all their en∣terprizes and studies, a man cannot be too scrupulous in allotting them their due proportion of it. It was this consideration which made me call the whole body of the learned to my assistance; to many of whom I must own my obligations for the catalogues of illustri∣ous persons which they have sent me in upon this oc∣casion. I yesterday employed the whole afternoon in comparing them with each other; which made so strong an impression upon my imagination, that they broke my sleep for the first part of the following night, and at length threw me into a very agreeable vision, which I shall beg leave to describe in all its particulars.

I dreamed that I was conveyed into a wide and boundless plain, that was covered with prodigious mul∣titudes Page  12 of people, which no man could number. In the midst of it there stood a mountain, with its head above the clouds. The sides were extremely steep, and of such a particular structure, that no creature, which was not made in a human figure, could possibly ascend it. On a sudden there was heard from the top of it a sound like that of a trumpet; but so exceeding sweet and har∣monious, that it filled the hearts of those who heard it with raptures, and gave such high and delightful sensa∣tions, as seemed to animate and raise human nature a∣bove itself. This made me very much amazed to find so very few in that innumerable multitude, who had ears fine enough to hear or relish this music with pleasure: but my wonder abated, when, upon looking round me, I saw most of them attentive to three sirens clothed like goddesses, and distinguished by the names of Sloth, Ig∣norance, and Pleasure. They were seated on three rocks, amidst a beautiful variety of groves, meadows, and rivu∣lets that lay on the borders of the mountain. While the base and groveling multitude of different nations, ranks, and ages, were listening to these delusive deities, those of a more erect aspect and exalted spirit separated themselves from the rest, and marched in great bodies towards the mountain; from whence they heard the sound, which still grew sweeter the more they listened to it.

On a sudden, methought this select band sprang for∣ward, with a resolution to climb the ascent, and follow the call of that heavenly music. Every one took some∣thing with him that he thought might be of assistance to him in his march. Several had their swords drawn, some carried rolls of paper in their hands, some had compasses, others quadrants, others telescopes, and others pencils; some had laurels on their heads, and others buskings on their legs: in short, there was scarce any instrument of a mechanic art or a liberal science, which was not made use of on this occasion. My good Daemon, who stood at my right hand during the course Page  13 of this whole vision, observing in me a kind of burning desire to join that glorious company, told me he highly approved that generous ardor with which I seemed trans∣ported; but at the same time advised me to cover my face with a mask all the while I was to labour on the a∣scent. I took his counsel without inquiring into his reasons. The whole body now broke into different parties, and began to climb the precipice by ten thousand different paths. Several got into little allies, which did not reach far up the hill, before they ended and led no further: and I observed, that most of the arti∣zans, which considerably diminished our number, fell in∣to these paths.

We left another considerable body of adventurers be∣hind us, who thought they had discovered by-ways up the hill, which proved so very intricate and perplexed, that after having advanced in them a little, they were quite lost among the several turns and windings; and though they were as active as any in their motions, they made but little progress in the ascent. These, as my guide informed me, were men of subtle tempers, and puzzled politics, who would supply the place of real wisdom with cunning and artifice. Among those, who were far advanced in their way, there were some that by one false step fell backward, and lost more ground in a moment, than they had gained for many hours, or could be ever able to recover. We were now advanced very high, and observed, that all the different paths which ran about the sides of the mountain, began to meet in two great roads, which insensibly gathered the whole multitude of travellers into two great bodies. At a little distance from the enterance of each road, there stood an hideous phantom, that opposed our further passage. One of these apparitions had his right hand filled with darts, which he brandished in the face of all who came up that way. Crouds ran back at the ap∣pearance of it, and cried out Death. The spectre that guarded the other road, was Envy: she was not armed Page  14 with weapons of destruction like the former; but by dreadful hissings, noises of reproach, and a horrid di∣stracted laughter, she appeared more frightful than death itself, insomuch that abundance of our company were discouraged from passing any further, and some appear∣ed ashamed of having come so far. As for myself, I must confess my heart shrunk within me at the sight of these ghastly appearances: but on a sudden, the voice of the trumpet came more full upon us, so that we felt a new resolution reviving in us; and in proportion as this resolution grew, the terrors before us seemed to va∣nish. Most of the company, who had swords in their hands, marched on with great spirit, and an air of defi∣ance, up the road that was commanded by Death; while others, who had thought and contemplation in their looks, went forward in a more composed manner up the road possessed by Envy. The way above these apparations grew smooth and uniform, and was so de∣lightful, that the travellers went on with pleasure, and in a little time arrived as the top of the mountain. They here began to breathe a delicious kind of aether, and saw all the fields about them covered with a kind of purple light, that made them reflect with satisfaction on their past toils, and diffused a secret joy through the whole assembly, which shewed itself in every look and feature. In the midst of these happy fields, there stood a palace of a very glorious structure: it had four great folding∣doors, that faced the four several quarters of the world. On the top of it was enthroned the goddess of the mountain, who smiled upon her votaries, and sounded the silver trumpet which had called them up, and chear∣ed them in their passage to her palace. They had now formed themselves into several divisions, a band of hi∣storians taking their stations at each door, according to the persons whom they were to introduce.

On a sudden the trumpet, which had hitherto sound∣ed only a march or a point of war, now swelled all its notes into triumph and exultation: the whole fabric Page  15 shook, and the doors flew open. The first who stepped forward, was a beautiful and blooming hero, and as I heard by the murmurs round me, Alexander the Great. He was conducted by a croud of historians. The per∣son who immediately walked before him, was remark∣able for an embroidered garment, who not being well acquainted with the place, was conducting him to an a∣partment appointed for the reception of fabulous heroes. The name of this false guide was Quintus Curtius. But Arrian and Plutarch, who knew better the avenues of this palace, conducted him into the great hall, and placed him at the upper end of the first table. My good Dae∣mon, that I might see the whole ceremony, conveyed me to a corner of this room, where I might perceive all that passed, without being seen myself. The next who entered was a charming virgin, leading in a venerable old man that was blind. Under her left arm she bore a harp, and on her head a garland. Alexander, who was very well acquainted with Homer, stood up at his en∣terance, and placed him on his right hand. The vir∣gin, who it seems was one of the nine sisters that at∣tended on the goddess of Fame, smiled with an ineffable grace at their meeting, and retired.

Julius Caesar was now coming forward; and though most of the historians offered their service to introduce him, he left them at the door, and would have no con∣ductor but himself.

The next who advanced was a man of a homely but chearful aspect, and attended by persons of greater fi∣gure than any that appeared on this occasion. Plato was on his right hand, and Xenophon on his left. He bow∣ed to Homer, and sat down by him. It was expected that Plato would himself have taken a place next to his master Socrates; but on a sudden there was heard a great clamour of disputants at the door, who appeared with Aristotle at the head of them. That philosopher, with some rudeness, but great strength of reason, convinced Page  16 the whole table, that a title to the fifth place was his due, and took it accordingly.

He had scarce sat, down, when the same beautiful virgin that had introduced Homer brought in another, who hung back at the enterance, and would have excus∣himself, had not his modesty been overcome by the in∣vitation of all who sat at the table. His guide and be∣haviour made me easily conclude it was Virgil. Cicero next appeared, and took his place. He had inquired at the door for Lucceius to introduce him; but not find∣ing him there, he contented himself with the atten∣dance of many other writers, who all, except Sallust, ap∣peared highly pleased with the office.

We waited some time in expectation of the next wor∣thy, who came in with a great retinue of historians, whose names I could not learn, most of them being na∣tives of Carthage. The person thus conducted, who was Hannibal, seemed much disturbed, and could not forbear complaining to the board of the affronts he had met with among the Roman historians, who attempted, says he, to carry me into the subterraneous apartment; and perhaps would have done it, had it not been for the impartiality of this gentleman, pointing to Polybius, who was the only person, except my own countrymen, that was willing to conduct me hither.

The Carthaginian took his seat, and Pompey entered with great dignity in his own person, and preceded by several historians. Lucan the poet was at the head of them, who observing Homer and Virgil at the table, was going to sit down himself, had not the latter whis∣pered him, that whatever pretence he might otherwise have had, he forseited his claim to it, by coming in as one of the historians. Lucan was so exasperated with the repulse, that he muttered something to himself, and was heard to say, that since he could not have a seat a∣mong them himself, he would bring in one, who alone had more merit than their whole assembly: upon which he went to the door, and brought in Cato of Utica. That Page  17 great man approached the company with such an air, that shewed he contemned the honour which he laid a claim to. Observing the seat opposite to Caesar was va∣cant, he took possession of it; and spoke two or three smart sentences upon the nature of precedency, which, according to him, consisted not in place, but in intrin∣sic merit; to which he added, that the most virtuous man, where-ever he was seated, was always at the upper end of the table. Socrates, who had a great spirit of raillery with his wisdom, could not forbear smiling at a virtue which took so little pains to make itself agreeable. Cicero took the occasion to make a long discourse in praise of Cato, which he uttered with much vehemence. Caesar answered with a great deal of seeming temper: but as I stood at a great distance from them, I was not able to hear one word of what they said. But I could not forbear taking notice, that in all the discourse which passed at the table, a word or a nod from Homer decided the controversy.

After a short pause, Augustus appeared looking round him with a serene and affable countenance upon all the writers of his age, who strove among themselves which of them should show him the greatest marks of gratitude and respect. Virgil rose from the table to meet him; and though he was an acceptable guest to all, he appear∣ed more such to the learned, than the military worthies. The next man astonished the whole table with his ap∣pearance: he was slow, solemn, and silent in his beha∣viour, and wore a raiment curiously wrought with hie∣roglyphics. As he came into the middle of the room, he threw back the skirt of it, and discovered a golden thigh. Socrates, at the sight of it, declared against keeping company with any who were not made of flesh and blood; and therefore desired Diogenes the Laertian to lead him to the apartment allotted for fabulous he∣roes, and worthies of dubious existence. At his going out, he told them, that they did not know whom they dismissed; that he was now Pythagoras, the first of Page  18 philosophers, and that formerly he had been a brave man at the siege of Troy. That may be very true, said Socrates; but you forget that you have likewise been a ve∣ry great harlot in your time. This exclusion made way for Archimedes, who came forward with a scheme of ma∣thematical figures in his hand; among which, I ob∣served a cone or cylinder.

Seeing this table full, I desired my guide for variety to lead me to the fabulous apartment, the roof of which was painted with gorgons, chimera's and centaurs, with many other emblematical figures, which I wanted both time and skill to unriddle. The first table was almost full. At the upper end sat Hercules, leaning an arm upon his club. On his right hand were Achilles and Ulysses, and between them Aeneas. On his left were Hector, Theseus, and Jason. The lower end had Orpheus, Aesop, Phalaris, and Musaeus. The ushers seemed at a loss for a twelfth man, when me∣thought, to my great joy and surprize, I heard some at the lower end of the table mention Isaac Bickerstaff: but those of the upper end received it with disdain, and said, if they must have a British worthy, they would have Robin Hood.

'While I was transported with the honour that was done me, and burning with envy against my com∣petitor, I was awakened by the noise of the cannon which were then fired for the taking of Mons. I should have been very much troubled at being thrown out of so pleasing a vision on any other occasion; but thought it an agreeable change to have my thoughts diverted from the greatest among the dead and fabulous heroes, to the most famous among the real and the living.'