There is a Saying among the Scotch, that an Ounce of Mother is worth a Pound of Clergy; I was sensible of the Truth of this Saying, when I saw the Difference between the Weight of Natural Parts, and that of Learning. The Observation which I made upon these two Weights opened to me a new Field of Discoveries, for notwithstanding the Weight of Natural Parts was much heavier than that of Learning; I observed that it weighed an hundred times heavier than it did before, when I put Learning into the same Scale with it. I made the same Observation upon Faith and Morality, for notwithstanding the latter out-weighed the former separately, it received a thousand times more additional Weight from its Conjunction with the former, than what it had by it self. This odd Phaenomenon shewed it self, in other Particulars, as in Wit and Judgment, Philosophy and Religion, Justice and Humanity, Zeal and Charity, Depth of Sense and Perspicuity of Style, with innumerable other Particulars too long to be mentioned in this Paper.
As a Dream seldom fails of dashing Seriousness with Impertinence, Mirth with Gravity, methought I made several other Experiments of a more ludicrous Nature, by one of which I found that an English Octavo was very often heavier than a French Folio; and by another, that an old Greek or Latin Author weighed down a whole Library of Moderns. Seeing one of my Spectators lying by me, I laid it into one of the Scales, and flung a two-penny Piece into the other. The Reader will not enquire into the Event, if he remembers the first Tryal which I have recorded in this Paper. I afterwards threw both the Sexes into the Ballance; but as it is not for my Interest to disoblige either of them, I shall desire to be excused from telling the Result of this Experiment. Having an Opportunity of this Nature in my Hands, I could not forbear throwing into one Scale the Principles of a Tory, and into the other those of a Whig; but as I have all along declared this to be a Neutral Paper, I shall likewise desire to be silent under this Head also, though upon examining one of the Weights, I saw the Word TEKEL Engraven on it in Capital Letters.
I made many other Experiments, and though I have not Room for them all in this Day’s Speculation, I may perhaps reserve them for another. I shall only add, that upon my awaking I was sorry to find my Golden Scales vanished, but resolved for the future to learn this Lesson from them, not to despise or value any Things for their Appearances, but to regulate my Esteem and Passions towards them according to their real and intrinsick Value.
[Footnote 1: Paradise Lost, end of Book IV.]
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No. 464. Friday, August 22, 1712. Addison.
’Auream quisquis mediocritatem
Diligit, tutus caret obsoleti
Sordibus tecti, caret invidenda