Front Page Titles (by Subject) Tatler, No. 161 - Cato: A Tragedy and Selected Essays
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Tatler, No. 161 - Joseph Addison, Cato: A Tragedy and Selected Essays 
Cato: A Tragedy and Selected Essays, ed. by Christine Dunn Henderson and Mark E. Yellin, with a Foreword by Forrest McDonald (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2004).
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Tatler, No. 161
Thursday, April 20, 1710
———Nunquam libertas gratior exstat
Quam sub rege pio.1 ———
From my own Apartment, April 19.
I was walking two or three days ago in a very pleasing retirement, and amusing my self with the reading of that ancient and beautiful Allegory, called The Table of Cebes.2 I was at last so tired with my walk, that I sate down to rest my self upon a Bench that stood in the midst of an agreeable Shade. The musick of the Birds, that filled all the Trees about me, lulled me asleep before I was aware of it; which was followed by a Dream, that I impute in some measure to the foregoing Author, who had made an impression upon my Imagination, and put me into his own way of thinking.
I fancied my self among the Alpes, and, as it is natural in a Dream, seemed every moment to bound from one Summit to another, till at last, after having made this airy progress over the tops of several Mountains, I arrived at the very Centre of those broken Rocks and Precipices. I here, methought, saw a prodigious circuit of Hills, that reached above the clouds, and encompassed a large space of ground, which I had a great curiosity to look into. I thereupon continued my former way of travelling through a great variety of winter scenes, till I had gained the top of these white mountains, which seemed another Alpes of Snow. I looked down from hence into a spacious Plain, which was surrounded on all sides by this Mound of hills, and which presented me with the most agreeable prospect I had ever seen. There was a greater variety of colours in the embroidery of the meadows, a more lively green in the leaves and grass, a brighter chrystal in the streams, than what I ever met with in any other region. The light it self had something more shining and glorious in it than that of which the day is made in other places. I was wonderfully astonished at the discovery of such a Paradise amidst the wildness of those cold hoary Landskips which lay about it; but found at length, that this happy region was inhabited by the Goddess of Liberty; whose presence softened the rigours of the Climate, enriched the barrenness of the Soil, and more than supplied the absence of the Sun. The place was covered with a wonderful profusion of Flowers, that without being disposed into regular borders and parterres, grew promiscuously, and had a greater beauty in their natural luxuriancy and disorder, than they could have received from the checks and restraints of art. There was a river that arose out of the south-side of the mountain, that by an infinite number of turns and windings, seemed to visit every plant, and cherish the several beauties of the Spring, with which the fields abounded. After having run to and fro in a wonderful variety of Meanders, it at last throws it self into the hollow of a mountain, from whence it passes under a long range of Rocks, and at length rises in that part of the Alpes where the inhabitants think it the first source of the Rhone. This river, after having made its progress through those Free Nations, stagnates in a huge Lake at the leaving of them, and no sooner enters into the regions of Slavery, but runs through them with an incredible rapidity, and takes its shortest way to the Sea.
I descended into the happy fields that lay beneath me, and in the midst of them, beheld the Goddess sitting upon a Throne. She had nothing to enclose her but the bounds of her own Dominions, and nothing over her head but the Heavens. Every glance of her eye cast a track of light where it fell, that revived the spring, and made all things smile about her. My heart grew chearful at the sight of her, and as she looked upon me, I found a certain Confidence growing in me, and such an inward Resolution as I never felt before that time.
On the left hand of the Goddess sat the Genius of a Commonwealth, with the Cap of Liberty on her head, and in her hand a Wand, like that with which a Roman Citizen used to give his Slaves their freedom. There was something mean and vulgar, but at the same time exceeding bold and daring in her air; her eyes were full of fire, but had in them such casts of fierceness and cruelty, as made her appear to me rather dreadful than amiable. On her shoulders she wore a Mantle, on which there was wrought a great confusion of figures. As it flew in the wind, I could not discern the particular design of them, but saw wounds in the bodies of some, and agonies in the faces of others; and over one part of it could read in Letters of Blood, The Ides of March.
On the right hand of the Goddess was the Genius of Monarchy. She was cloathed in the whitest Ermin, and wore a Crown of the purest Gold upon her head. In her hand she held a Sceptre like that which is born by the British Monarchs. A couple of tame Lions lay crouching at her feet: Her countenance had in it a very great majesty without any mixture of terror: Her voice was like the voice of an Angel, filled with so much sweetness, accompanied with such an air of condescension, as tempered the awfulness of her appearance, and equally inspired love and veneration into the hearts of all that beheld her.
In the train of the Goddess of Liberty were the several Arts and Sciences, who all of them flourished underneath her eye. One of them in particular made a greater figure than any of the rest, who held a thunderbolt in her hand, which had the power of melting, piercing, or breaking every thing that stood in its way. The name of this Goddess was Eloquence.
There were two other dependent Goddesses, who made a very conspicuous figure in this blissful region. The first of them was seated upon an hill, that had every plant growing out of it, which the soil was in its own nature capable of producing. The other was seated in a little Island, that was covered with groves of Spices, Olives, and Orange-trees; and in a word, with the products of every foreign clime. The name of the first was Plenty, of the second, Commerce. The first leaned her right arm upon a Plough, and under her left held a huge Horn, out of which she poured a whole Autumn of Fruits. The other wore a Rostral Crown upon her head, and kept her eyes fixed upon a Compass.
I was wonderfully pleased in ranging through this delightful place, and the more so, because it was not incumbered with fences and enclosures; till at length, methoughts, I sprung from the ground, and pitched upon the top of an hill, that presented several objects to my sight which I had not before taken notice of. The winds that passed over this flowry Plain, and though the tops of trees which were full of blossoms, blew upon me in such a continued breeze of sweets, that I was wonderfully charmed with my situation. I here saw all the inner Declivities of that great circuit of mountains, whose outside was covered with Snow, overgrown with huge forests of Fir-trees, which indeed are very frequently found in other parts of the Alpes. These trees were inhabited by Storks, that came thither in great flights from very distant quarters of the world. Methought, I was pleased in my Dream to see what became of these birds, when, upon leaving the places to which they make an annual visit, they rise in great flocks so high till they are out of sight; and for that reason have been thought by some modern Philosophers to take a flight to the Moon. But my eyes were soon diverted from this prospect, when I observed two great gaps that led through this circuit of mountains, where guards and watches were posted day and night. Upon examination I found, that there were two formidable enemies encamped before each of these avenues, who kept the place in a perpetual alarm, and watched all opportunities of invading it.
Tyranny was at the head of one of these armies, dressed in an Eastern habit, and grasping in her hand an Iron Sceptre. Behind her was Barbarity, with the garb and complexion of an Aethiopian;Ignorance with a Turbant upon her head; and Persecution holding up a bloody flag, embroidered with Flower-de-luces. These were followed by Oppression,Poverty,Famine,Torture, and a dreadful train of appearances, that made me tremble to behold them. Among the Baggage of this army, I could discover Racks, Wheels, Chains, and Gibbets,3 with all the instruments Art could invent to make humane nature miserable.
Before the other avenue I saw Licentiousness, dressed in a garment not unlike the Polish Cassock, and leading up a whole army of Monsters, such as Clamour, with a hoarse voice and a hundred tongues; Confusion, with a mis-shapen body and a thousand heads; Impudence, with a forehead of Brass; and Rapine, with hands of Iron. The tumult, noise, and uproar in this quarter were so very great, that they disturbed my Imagination more than is consistent with sleep, and by that means awaked me.
[1. ]“Never does liberty appear in a more gracious form than under a pious king.” Claudian (a.d. 370–405), De Laudibus Stilichonis III.113.
[2. ]Cebes of Thebes was a disciple of Socrates and one of the characters in Plato’s Phaedo. The Table of Cebes is a dialogue about the different stages of the human life.