The Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 eBook

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Verse the Fourth.  And finds Variety in one] Most of the Ancient Manuscripts have it in two.  Indeed so many of them concur in this last reading, that I am very much in doubt whether it ought not to take place.  There are but two Reasons which incline me to the Reading as I have published it; First, because the Rhime, and, Secondly, because the Sense is preserved by it.  It might likewise proceed from the Oscitancy of Transcribers, who, to dispatch their Work the sooner, use to write all Numbers in Cypher, and seeing the Figure 1 following by a little Dash of the Pen, as is customary in old Manuscripts, they perhaps mistook the Dash for a second Figure, and by casting up both together composed out of them the Figure 2.  But this I shall leave to the Learned, without determining any thing in a Matter of so great Uncertainty.


[Footnote 1:  [Song, which by the way is a beautiful Descant upon a single Thought, like the Compositions of the best Ancient Lyrick Poets, I say we will suppose this Song]]

* * * * *

No. 471.  Saturday, August 30, 1712.  Addison.

  [Greek:  ’En elpisin chrae tous sophous echein bion.]—­Euripid.

The Time present seldom affords sufficient Employment to the Mind of Man.  Objects of Pain or Pleasure, Love or Admiration, do not lie thick enough together in Life to keep the Soul in constant Action, and supply an immediate Exercise to its Faculties.  In order, therefore, to remedy this Defect, that the Mind may not want Business, but always have Materials for thinking, she is endowed with certain Powers, that can recall what is passed, and anticipate what is to come.

That wonderful Faculty, which we call the Memory, is perpetually looking back, when we have nothing present to entertain us.  It is like those Repositories in several Animals, that are filled with Stores of their former Food, on which they may ruminate when their present Pasture fails.

As the Memory relieves the Mind in her vacant Moments, and prevents any Chasms of Thought by Ideas of what is past, we have other Faculties that agitate and employ her upon what is to come.  These are the Passions of Hope and Fear.

By these two Passions we reach forward into Futurity, and bring up to our present Thoughts Objects that lie hid in the remotest Depths of Time.  We suffer Misery, and enjoy Happiness, before they are in Being; we can set the Sun and Stars forward, or lose sight of them by wandring into those retired Parts of Eternity, when the Heavens and Earth shall be no more.

By the way, who can imagine that the Existence of a Creature is to be circumscribed by Time, whose Thoughts are not?  But I shall, in this Paper, confine my self to that particular Passion which goes by the Name of Hope.

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