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THE SOLITARY PHILOSOPHER. AMONG all the variety of interesting pieces with which you wish to entertain your readers, none please me more than those anecdotes that relate to originality of character.
On the side of a large mountain about ten miles from this place, in a little hut of his own rearing, which has known no other possessor these fifty-five years, lives this strange and very singular person, though his general usefulness and communicative disposition require him often to associate with the surrounding rustics; yet having never had an inclination to travel farther than to the neighbouring village, and being totally unacquainted with the world, bis manners, conversation, and dress are strikingly noticeable. A little plot of ground that extends round his cottage is the narrow sphere to wbich be confines bimself, aud in his wild retreat, be appears to a stranger as one of the early inhabitants of the earth, ere polished by frequent intercourse or united in society. In his youth being deprived of the means of education, and till this hour a stran ger to reading, the most valuable treasures of time are utterly unknown to bim, so that what knowledge he has acquired seems to be from the jojot exertious of vigorous powers and an unwearied course of experiments. He is allowed by the whole inhabitants around him to excel all, and his genius seems universal, and he is at once, by na ture, botanist, philosopher, naturalist, and physician.
The place where he resides seems indeed peculiarly calcalated for assisting him in these favorite pursuits. With in a stone's throw of his hut a deep enormous chasm extends itself up the mountain for more than four miles, through the bottom of which a large body of water rages in loud and successive falls through the fractured channel, while its stupendous sides studded with rocks are overhung with bushes and trees, that meeting from opposite, sides, and mixing their branches entirely conceal at times the river from view, so that when a spectator stands above,
he sees nothing but a luxuriance of green branches and tops of trees, and hears at a dreadful distance below the brawling of the river. In this vale or glen innumerable rare and valuasle berbs are discovered, and in the harvest mooths this is his continual resort, be explores it with the most unwearied attention, climbs every cliff, even the most threatening, and from the perplexing profusion of plants, collects those herbs, of whose qualities and value he is well acquainted. For this purpose he has a large basket with a variety of divisions, in which he deposits every particular species by itself. With this he is often seen labouring home to his hut, after which they are suspended in large and numerous parcels from the roof, while the sage himself sits smiling amidst his simple stores. In cultivating his little plot of ground, he proceeds by methods entirely new to his neighbours. He has examined by numberless experiments the nature of the soil, watches
rv progressive advance of the grain, and so well is be provided for its defence against vermin, that they are no sooner seen than destroyed. By these means he has greatly enriched the ground which was by nature barren and ungenerous, while the crop nearly doubles that of his neighbours, the more superstitious of whom, from his lovely life and success in these affairs, scruple not to believe him in league with the devil. As a mechayic he is confined to no particular branch. He lives by himself, and seems in. clined to be dependent on none. He is his own shoe-maker, cutler, and tailor; builds his own barns and raises his own fences, thrashes his own córn and with very little as. sistance cuts it down. From his infancy he has enjoyed an uninterrupted flow of health, and there is scarce a neighbouring peasant around who has not, when wounded by accident or confined by sickness, experienced the salu. tary effects of his skill. In these cases his presence of mind is surprising, his application simple, his medicines within the reach of every cottager, and in effecting a cure he is seldom unsuccessfni. Nor is his assistance in physie and surgery confined to the human species alone; useful animals of every kind profit by his researches. In short, so fully persuaded are the rustics of his knowledge in the causes and cures of disorders to which their cattle are subject, that in every critical and alarming case he is immediately consulted and his prescriptions most carefully observed. I was the first that took any particular notice of this solitaire. He is known to many ingenious gentle. men in that place, and in the country, and has been often the subject of their conversation and wonder. Nor bas the Honourable Gentleman, whose tenant he is, suffered this rustic-original to pass unnoticed or unbefriended, but with his usual generosity, and a love of mankind that dignifies all his actions, has from time to time transmit ted to bim parcels of new and useful plants, roots, seeds, &c. a grateful sense of which the solitaire expresses by rearing them, and exhibiting them occasionally: .
About six montbs ago I went to pay him a visit along with an intimate friend inuch attached to natural curiosi ty. On arriving at his little hut, we found to our no smalt disappointment that he was from home. As my friend however, had never been in that part of the country before, I coaducted him to the glen to take a view of the beautiful romantic scenes and wild prospects which this place affords. We had not proceeded far along the bot. ion of the vale, when hearing a rustling among the bran." ches aboveour heads, I discovered our boary botanist with his basket, passing along the brow of a rock that hung al. most over the centre of the stream. Having pointed him out to my companion, we were at a loss for some time how to bring about a conversation with him. Having, bowever, a flate in my pocket, of which music he is exceedingly fond, I began a few airs, which by the sweetness. of tbe echoes, was beightened into the most enchanting melody. In a few minutes this had the desired effect; and our little old man stood beside us with his basket in his hand, On stopping at his approach, he desired us to proceed, complimenting us on the sweetness of our music, expressed the surprise he was in on hearing it, and leaning his basket on an old trunk, listened with all the enthusiasm of rapture. He then shewed the herbs he bad been collectiog, entertained us with a parrative of the discoveries he had made in his frequent searches through the vale, which,' said he, 'contains treasures that few know the value of.
He then began an account of the vegetables, reptiles, wild beasts, and insects, that frequented the place; and with much judgment explained their various properties. • Were it not,' said he, "for the innumerable millions of insects, that in the summer months swarm in the air, I believe dead carcases, and other putrid substances, might have dreadful effects; but no sooner does a carcase begin to grow putrid than these insects led by the smell, flock to the
place, and there deposit their eggs, wbich in a few days produce such a number of maggots that the carcase is soon consumed. While they are thus employed below, parent flies are no less busy in devouring the noxious vapours that incessantly ascend. Thus, the air by these insects, is kept sweet and pure, till the storms of winter render their existence unnecessary, and at once destroy them. And Heaven that has formed nothing in vaju exhibits these things to our contemplation, that we may adore that allbounteous Creator, who makes even the most minute and seemingly destructive creatures subservient to the good of man. In such a manner did this poor and illiterate peasant moralize on the common occurrences of nature, these glorious and invaluable truths did he deduce from vile reptiles, the unheeded insect, and simple herb that lies neglected, or is trodden under foot as useless and offensive. And what friend to mankind does not contemplating this hoary rustic's story, fondly wish with its writer, that learning had lent its aid'to polish a genius that might have one day surprised the world with the glorious blaze of a Locke or a Newton.
My apology is, if I have affordod your numerous respecto able readers in this quarter, to whom the solitaire is not unknown, and who value the truth, any entertainment, my trouble will be well repaid, and perhaps a further dis. covery will be transmitted to you by some more able hand. Paisley.
And warrior pride alike are past;
His cheek is withering in the blast.
The flush of courage stern and high ;
The storm has bleach'd its gallant dye.
That lid, half shewing the glazed ball,
Is this the one we loved? This all!
Can the dead give thee love for love?
The spirit wing'd its way above.
Wilt thou for dust aud ashes weep?
Away! thy husband lies not here:
On Earth! 'tis tenfold there.
Then to thy closet, to thy knee:-
Even here, to make him glad of thee.
STERI UTATION. OR, the act of sneezing, has been surprisingly comment. ed on by those who do not defy augury. St. Austin tells us that ihe ancients were wont to go to bed again, if they sneezed while they put on their shoe. Aristotle has a problem, “Why sneezing from noon to midnight was good, but from night to noon uulucky.” Eustatius upon Homer says, that sneezing to the left was unlucky, but prosperous to the right. Hippocrates, that sneezing cures the hiccup, is profitable to parturient women, in lethargies, apoplexies, &c. Pliny, Apulænius, Petronius, and a doo zen others, have all something to say about it; but Buxtorf (Lex Cbal.) tells us, that sneezing was a mortal sign, even from the first man; until it was taken off by the special supplication of Jacob. From whence, as a thankful acknowledgement, this salutation first hegan, and was after continued by the expression of lobincohiim, or vita bona, by standers by upon all occasions of sneezing.' To all which we may now add, that in the country, when an old woman who takes Scotch snuff happens to sneeze, any old fool that is near, cries out God bless you ! Among nations not over civilized, it becomes the cause of some ceremonial or other. When his majesty the king of Minomotopa sueezes, those who are near him salute him in so loud a tone, that the persons in the anti-chamber hearing it, join in the acclamation, In the adjoining apartments they do the same, till the noise reaches the street and becomes propagated through the city : so that at each royal sneeze, a most horrid cry results from the salutations of his many thousaud vassals. But it is different with the king of Senaar; for when his majesty sneezes, bis courtiers immediately turn their backs upon bim, (for that time only,) and give themselves a loud slap on their right thigh.
Jo a scarce tract, by Gerbier, master of the ceremonies to Charles the First; Oxford , 1655, he gives a rule of good.