No. 379. Thursday, May 15, 1712. Budgell.

Scire tuum nihil est nisi te scire hoc sciat alter.'

I have often wondered at that ill-natur'd Position which has been sometimes maintained in the Schools, and is comprizd in an old Latin Verse, namely, that A Man's Knowledge is worth nothing, if he communicates what he knows to any one besides. [1] There is certainly no more sensible Pleasure to a good-natur'd Man, than if he can by any means gratify or inform the Mind of another. I might add, that this Virtue naturally carries its own reward along with it, since it is almost impossible it should be exercised without the Improvement of the Person who practices it. The reading of Books, and the daily Occurrences of Life, are continually furnishing us with Matter for Thought and Reflection. It is extremely natural for us to desire to see such our Thoughts put into the Dress of Words, without which indeed we can scarce have a clear and distinct Idea of them our selves: When they are thus clothed in Expressions, nothing so truly shews us whether they are just or false, as those Effects which they produce in the Minds of others.

I am apt to flatter my self, that in the Course of these my Speculations, I have treated of several Subjects, and laid down many such Rules for the Conduct of a Man's Life, which my Readers were either wholly ignorant of before, or which at least those few who were acquainted with them, looked upon as so many Secrets they have found out for the Conduct of themselves, but were resolved never to have made publick.

I am the more confirmed in this Opinion from my having received several Letters, wherein I am censur'd for having prostituted Learning to the Embraces of the Vulgar, and made her, as one of my Correspondents phrases it, a common Strumpet: I am charged by another with laying open the Arcana, or Secrets of Prudence, to the Eyes of every Reader.

The narrow Spirit which appears in the Letters of these my Correspondents is the less surprizing, as it has shewn itself in all Ages: There is still extant an Epistle written by Alexander the Great to his Tutor Aristotle, upon that Philosopher's publishing some part of his Writings; in which the Prince complains of his having made known to all the World, those Secrets in Learning which he had before communicated to him in private Lectures; concluding, That he had rather excel the rest of Mankind in Knowledge than in Power. [2]

Luisa de Padilla, a Lady of great Learning, and Countess of Aranda, was in like manner angry with the famous Gratian, [3] upon his publishing his Treatise of the Discrete; wherein she fancied that he had laid open those Maxims to common Readers, which ought only to have been reserved for the Knowledge of the Great.

These Objections are thought by many of so much weight, that they often defend the above-mentiond Authors, by affirming they have affected such an Obscurity in their Style and Manner of Writing, that tho every one may read their Works, there will be but very few who can comprehend their Meaning.

Persius, the Latin Satirist, affected Obscurity for another Reason; with which however Mr. Cowley is so offended, that writing to one of his Friends, You, says he, tell me, that you do not know whether Persius be a good Poet or no, because you cannot understand him; for which very Reason I affirm that he is not so.

However, this Art of writing unintelligibly has been very much improved, and follow'd by several of the Moderns, who observing the general Inclination of Mankind to dive into a Secret, and the Reputation many have acquired by concealing their Meaning under obscure Terms and Phrases, resolve, that they may be still more abstruse, to write without any Meaning at all. This Art, as it is at present practised by many eminent Authors, consists in throwing so many Words at a venture into different Periods, and leaving the curious Reader to find out the Meaning of them.

The Egyptians, who made use of Hieroglyphicks to signify several things, expressed a Man who confined his Knowledge and Discoveries altogether within himself, by the Figure of a Dark-Lanthorn closed on all sides, which, tho' it was illuminated within, afforded no manner of Light or Advantage to such as stood by it. For my own part, as I shall from time to time communicate to the Publick whatever Discoveries I happen to make, I should much rather be compared to an ordinary Lamp, which consumes and wastes it self for the benefit of every Passenger.

I shall conclude this Paper with the Story of Rosicrucius's Sepulchre. I suppose I need not inform my Readers that this Man was the Founder of the Rosicrusian Sect, and that his Disciples still pretend to new Discoveries, which they are never to communicate to the rest of Mankind. [4]

A certain Person having occasion to dig somewhat deep in the Ground where this Philosopher lay inter'd, met with a small Door having a Wall on each side of it. His Curiosity, and the Hopes of finding some hidden Treasure, soon prompted him to force open the Door. He was immediately surpriz'd by a sudden Blaze of Light, and discover'd a very fair Vault: At the upper end of it was a Statue of a Man in Armour sitting by a Table, and leaning on his Left Arm. He held a Truncheon in his right Hand, and had a Lamp burning before him. The Man had no sooner set one Foot within the Vault, than the Statue erecting it self from its leaning Posture, stood bolt upright; and upon the Fellow's advancing another Step, lifted up the Truncheon in his Right Hand. The Man still ventur'd a third Step, when the Statue with a furious Blow broke the Lamp into a thousand Pieces, and left his Guest in a sudden Darkness.

Upon the Report of this Adventure, the Country People soon came with Lights to the Sepulchre, and discovered that the Statue, which was made of Brass, was nothing more than a Piece of Clock-work; that the Floor of the Vault was all loose, and underlaid with several Springs, which, upon any Man's entering, naturally produced that which had happend.

Rosicrucius, says his Disciples, made use of this Method, to shew the World that he had re-invented the ever-burning Lamps of the Ancients, tho' he was resolvd no one should reap any Advantage from the Discovery.


[Footnote 1: Nil proprium ducas quod mutarier potest.]

[Footnote 2: Aulus Gellius. Noct. Att., Bk xx., ch. 5.]

[Footnote 3: Baltazar Grecian's Discreto has been mentioned before in the Spectator, being well-known in England through a French translation. See note on p. 303, ante [Footnote 1 of No. 293]. Gracian, in Spain, became especially popular as a foremost representative of his time in transferring the humour for conceits--cultismo, as it was called--from verse to prose. He began in 1630 with a prose tract, the Hero, laboured in short ingenious sentences, which went through six editions. He wrote also an Art of Poetry after the new style. His chief work was the Criticon, an allegory of the Spring, Autumn, and Winter of life. The Discreto was one of his minor works. All that he wrote was published, not by himself, but by a friend, and in the name of his brother Lorenzo, who was not an ecclesiastic.]

[Footnote 4: Rosicrucius had been made fashionable by the Abbé de Villars who was assassinated in 1675. His Comte de Gabalis was a popular little book in the Spectators time. I suppose I need not inform my readers that there never was a Rosicrucius or a Rosicrucian sect. The Rosicrucian pamphlets which appeared in Germany at the beginning of the 17th century, dating from the Discovery of the Brotherhood of the Honourable Order of the Rosy Cross, a pamphlet published in 1610, by a Lutheran clergyman, Valentine Andreä, were part of a hoax designed perhaps originally as means of establishing a sort of charitable masonic society of social reformers. Missing that aim, the Rosicrucian story lived to be adorned by superstitious fancy, with ideas of mystery and magic, which in the Comte de Gabalis were methodized into a consistent romance. It was from this romance that Pope got what he called the Rosicrucian machinery of his Rape of the Lock. The Abbé de Villars, professing to give very full particulars, had told how the Rosicrucians assigned sylphs to the air, gnomes to the earth, nymphs to the water, salamanders to the fire.]

Translation of motto:
PERS. Sat. i. 27.
'--Science is not science till reveal'd.'