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No. 343 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 343
Thursday, April 3, 1712. Addison.

–Errat et illinc
Huc venit, hinc illuc, et quoslibet occupat artus
Spiritus: eque feris humana in corpora transit,
Inque feras noster–

Pythag. ap. Ov.

Will. Honeycomb, who loves to shew upon occasion all the little Learning he has picked up, told us yesterday at the Club, that he thought there might be a great deal said for the Transmigration of Souls, and that the Eastern Parts of the World believed in that Doctrine to this day. Sir Paul Rycaut, [1] says he, gives us an Account of several well-disposed Mahometans that purchase the Freedom of any little Bird they see confined to a Cage, and think they merit as much by it, as we should do here by ransoming any of our Countrymen from their Captivity at Algiers. You must know, says WILL., the Reason is, because they consider every Animal as a Brother or Sister in disguise, and therefore think themselves obliged to extend their Charity to them, tho under such mean Circumstances. They’ll tell you, says WILL., that the Soul of a Man, when he dies, immediately passes into the Body of another Man, or of some Brute, which he resembled in his Humour, or his Fortune, when he was one of us.

As I was wondring what this profusion of Learning would end in, WILL. told us that Jack Freelove, who was a Fellow of Whim, made Love to one of those Ladies who throw away all their Fondness [on [2]] Parrots, Monkeys, and Lap-dogs. Upon going to pay her a Visit one Morning, he writ a very pretty Epistle upon this Hint. Jack, says he, was conducted into the Parlour, where he diverted himself for some time with her favourite Monkey, which was chained in one of the Windows; till at length observing a Pen and Ink lie by him, he writ the following Letter to his Mistress, in the Person of the Monkey; and upon her not coming down so soon as he expected, left it in the Window, and went about his Business.

The Lady soon after coming into the Parlour, and seeing her Monkey look upon a Paper with great Earnestness, took it up, and to this day is in some doubt, says WILL., whether it was written by Jack or the Monkey.


Not having the Gift of Speech, I have a long time waited in vain for an Opportunity of making myself known to you; and having at present the Conveniences of Pen, Ink, and Paper by me, I gladly take the occasion of giving you my History in Writing, which I could not do by word of Mouth. You must know, Madam, that about a thousand Years ago I was an Indian Brachman, and versed in all those mysterious Secrets which your European Philosopher, called Pythagoras, is said to have learned from our Fraternity. I had so ingratiated my self by my great Skill in the occult Sciences with a Daemon whom I used to converse with, that he promised to grant me whatever I should ask of him. I desired that my Soul might never pass into the Body of a brute Creature; but this he told me was not in his Power to grant me. I then begg’d that into whatever Creature I should chance to Transmigrate, I might still retain my Memory, and be conscious that I was the same Person who lived in different Animals. This he told me was within his Power, and accordingly promised on the word of a Daemon that he would grant me what I desired. From that time forth I lived so very unblameably, that I was made President of a College of Brachmans, an Office which I discharged with great Integrity till the day of my Death. I was then shuffled into another Human Body, and acted my Part so very well in it, that I became first Minister to a Prince who reigned upon the Banks of the Ganges. I here lived in great Honour for several Years, but by degrees lost all the Innocence of the Brachman, being obliged to rifle and oppress the People to enrich my Sovereign; till at length I became so odious that my Master, to recover his Credit with his Subjects, shot me thro the Heart with an Arrow, as I was one day addressing my self to him at the Head of his Army.