Thursday, November 8, 2007



171 Misella's description of the life of a prostitute.
172 The effect of sudden riches upon the manners.
173 Unreasonable fears of pedantry.
174 The mischiefs of unbounded raillery. History of Dicaculus
175 The majority are wicked.
176 Directions to authors attacked by criticks. The various
degrees of critical perspicacity.
177 An account of a club of antiquaries.
178 Many advantages not to be enjoyed together.
179 The awkward merriment of a student.
180 The study of life not to be neglected for the sake of books.
181 The history of an adventurer in lotteries.
182 The history of Leviculus, the fortune-hunter.
183 The influence of envy and interest compared.
184 The subject of essays often suggested by chance.
Chance equally prevalent in other affairs
185 The prohibition of revenge justifiable by reason. The
meanness of regulating our conduct by the opinions of men
186 Anningait and Ajut; a Greenland history
187 The history of Anningait and Ajut concluded
188 Favour often gained with little assistance from understanding.
189 The mischiefs of falsehood. The character of Turpicula.
190 The history of Abouzaid, the son of Morad.
191 The busy life of a young lady.
192 Love unsuccessful without riches.
193 The author's art of praising himself.
194 A young nobleman's progress in politeness..
195 A young nobleman's introduction to the knowledge of the town.
196 Human opinions mutable. The hopes of youth fallacious.
197 The history of a legacy-hunter.
198 The legacy-hunter's history concluded.
199 The virtues of Rabbi Abraham's magnet.
200 Asper's complaint of the insolence of Prospero
Unpoliteness not always the effect of pride.
201 The importance of punctuality.
202 The different acceptations of poverty. Cynicks and Monks not poor.
203 The pleasures of life to be sought in prospects of futurity.
Future fame uncertain.
204 The history of ten days of Seged, emperour of Ethiopia.
205 The history of Seged concluded.
206 The art of living at the cost of others.
207 The folly of continuing too long upon the stage.
208 The Rambler's reception. His design.
34 Folly of extravagance. The story of Misargyrus.
39 On sleep.
41 Sequel of the story of Misargyrus.
45 The difficulty of forming confederacies.
50 On lying.
53 Misargyrus' account of his companions in the Fleet.
58 Presumption of modern criticism censured.
Ancient poetry necessarily obscure. Examples from Horace.
62 Misargyrus' account of his companions concluded.
67 On the trades of Londo.
69 Idle hope.
74 Apology for neglecting officious advice.
81 Incitement to enterprise and emulation.
Some account of the admirable Crichton.
84 Folly of false pretences to importance. A journey in a stage coach.
85 Study, composition and converse equally necessary
to intellectual accomplishment.
92 Criticism on the Pastorals of Virgil.
95 Apology for apparent plagiarism. Sources of literary variety.
99 Projectors injudiciously censured and applauded.
102 Infelicities of retirement to men of business.
107 Different opinions equally plausible.
108 On the uncertainty of human things.
No. 171. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 1751
Toeet coeli convexa tueri. VIRG. AEn. iv. 451.
Dark is the sun, and loathsome is the day.
MISELLA now sits down to continue her
narrative. I am convinced that nothing would
more powerfully preserve youth from irregularity,
or guard inexperience from seduction, than a just
description of the condition into which the wanton
plunges herself; and therefore hope that my letter
may be a sufficient antidote to my example.
After the distraction, hesitation, and delays which
the timidity of guilt naturally produces, I was
removed to lodgings in a distant part of the town,
under one of the characters commonly assumed upon
such occasions. Here being by my circumstances
condemned to solitude, I passed most of my hours
in bitterness and anguish. The conversation of the
people with whom I was placed was not at all capable
of engaging my attention, or dispossessing the
reigning ideas. The books which I carried to my
retreat were such as heightened my abhorrence of
myself; for I was not so far abandoned as to sink
voluntarily into corruption, or endeavour to conceal
from my own mind the enormity of my crime.
My relation remitted none of his fondness, but
visited me so often, that I was sometimes afraid
lest his assiduity should expose him to suspicion.
Whenever he came he found me weeping, and was
therefore less delightfully entertained than he
expected. After frequent expostulations upon the
unreasonableness of my sorrow, and innumerable
protestations of everlasting regard, he at last found
that I was more affected with the loss of my
innocence, than the danger of my fame, and that he
might not be disturbed by my remorse, began to
lull my conscience with the opiates of irreligion.
His arguments were such as my course of life has
since exposed me often to the necessity of hearing,
vulgar, empty, and fallacious; yet they at first
confounded me by their novelty, filled me with doubt
and perplexity, and interrupted that peace which I
began to feel from the sincerity of my repentance,
without substituting any other support. I listened
a while to his impious gabble, but its influence was
soon overpowered by natural reason and early education,
and the convictions which this new attempt
gave me of his baseness completed my abhorrence.
I have heard of barbarians, who, when tempests
drive ships upon their coast, decoy them to the rocks
that they may plunder their lading, and have always
thought that wretches, thus merciless in their
depredations, ought to be destroyed by a general
insurrection of all social beings; yet how light is this
guilt to the crime of him, who, in the agitations of
remorse, cuts away the anchor of piety, and, when
he has drawn aside credulity from the paths of
virtue, hides the light of heaven which would direct
her to return. I had hitherto considered him as a man
equally betrayed with myself by the concurrence of
appetite and opportunity; but I now saw with horrour
that he was contriving to perpetuate his gratification,
and was desirous to fit me to his purpose,
by complete and radical corruption.
To escape, however, was not yet in my power. I
could support the expenses of my condition only
by the continuance of his favour. He provided all
that was necessary, and in a few weeks congratulated
me upon my escape from the danger which
we had both expected with so much anxiety. I
then began to remind him of his promise to restore
me with my fame uninjured to the world. He promised
me in general terms, that nothing should be
wanting which his power could add to my happiness,
but forbore to release me from my confinement.
I knew how much my reception in the world
depended upon my speedy return, and was therefore
outrageously impatient of his delays, which I
now perceived to be only artifices of lewdness. He
told me at last, with an appearance of sorrow, that
all hopes of restoration to my former state were for
ever precluded; that chance had discovered my
secret, and malice divulged it; and that nothing
now remained, but to seek a retreat more private,
where curiosity or hatred could never find us.
The rage, anguish, and resentment, which I felt
at this account are not to be expressed. I was in so
much dread of reproach and infamy, which he represented
as pursuing me with full cry, that I yielded
myself implicitly to his disposal and was removed,
with a thousand studied precautions, through byways
and dark passages to another house, where I
harassed him with perpetual solicitations for a small
annuity that might enable me to live in the country
in obscurity and innocence.
This demand he at first evaded with ardent
professions, but in time appeared offended at my
importunity and distrust; and having one day
endeavoured to sooth me with uncommon expressions
of tenderness, when he found my discontent
immoveable, left me with some inarticulate murmurs
of anger. I was pleased that he was at last roused
to sensibility, and expecting that at his next visit
he would comply with my request, lived with great
tranquillity upon the money in my hands, and was
so much pleased with this pause of persecution, that
I did not reflect how much his absence had exceeded
the usual intervals, till I was alarmed with
the danger of wanting subsistence. I then suddenly
contracted my expenses, but was unwilling to
supplicate for assistance. Necessity, however, soon
overcame my modesty or my pride, and I applied to
him by a letter, but had no answer. I writ in terms
more pressing, but without effect. I then sent an
agent to inquire after him, who informed me, that
he had quitted his house, and was gone with his
family to reside for some time on his estate in
However shocked at this abrupt departure, I was
yet unwilling to believe that he could wholly abandon
me, and therefore, by the sale of my clothes, I
supported myself, expecting that every post would
bring me relief. Thus I passed seven months
between hope and dejection, in a gradual approach to
poverty and distress, emaciated with discontent, and
bewildered with uncertainty. At last my landlady,
after many hints of the necessity of a new lover,
took the opportunity of my absence to search my
boxes, and missing some of my apparel, seized the
remainder for rent, and led me to the door.
To remonstrate against legal cruelty, was vain; to
supplicate obdurate brutality, was hopeless. I went
away I knew not whither, and wandered about without
any settled purpose, unacquainted with the usual
expedients of misery, unqualified for laborious
offices, afraid to meet an eye that had seen me
before, and hopeless of relief from those who were
strangers to my former condition. Night came on
in the midst of my distraction, and I still continued
to wander till the menaces of the watch obliged me
to shelter myself in a covered passage.
Next day, I procured a lodging in the backward
garret of a mean house, and employed my landlady
to inquire for a service. My applications were
generally rejected for want of a character. At length
I was received at a draper's, but when it was known
to my mistress that I had only one gown, and that
of silk, she was of opinion that I looked like a thief,
and without warning hurried me away. I then tried
to support myself by my needle; and, by my landlady's
recommendation obtained a little work from
a shop, and for three weeks lived without repining;
but when my punctuality had gained me so much
reputation, that I was trusted to make up a head of
some value, one of my fellow-lodgers stole the lace,
and I was obliged to fly from a prosecution.
Thus driven again into the streets, I lived upon
the least that could support me, and at night
accommodated myself under pent-houses as well as I
could. At length I became absolutely pennyless,
and having strolled all day without sustenance, was,
at the close of evening, accosted by an elderly man,
with an invitation to a tavern. I refused him with
hesitation; he seized me by the hand, and drew me
into a neigbouring house, where, when he saw my
face pale with hunger, and my eyes swelling with
tears, he spurned me from him, and bade me cant
and whine in some other place; he for his part would
take care of his pockets.
I still continued to stand in the way, having
scarcely strength to walk further, when another soon
addressed me in the same manner. When he saw
the same tokens of calamity, he considered that I
might be obtained at a cheap rate, and therefore
quickly made overtures, which I no longer had
firmness to reject. By this man I was maintained four
months in penurious wickedness, and then abandoned
to my former condition, from which I was
delivered by another keeper.
In this abject state I have now passed four years,
the drudge of extortion and the sport of drunkenness;
sometimes the property of one man, and
sometimes the common prey of accidental lewdness;
at one time tricked up for sale by the mistress of a
brothel, at another begging in the streets to be
relieved from hunger by wickedness; without any
hope in the day but of finding some whom folly or
excess may expose to my allurements, and without
any reflections at night, but such as guilt and terrour
impress upon me.
If those who pass their days in plenty and
security, could visit for an hour the dismal receptacles
to which the prostitute retires from her nocturnal
excursions, and see the wretches that lie crowded
together, mad with intemperance, ghastly with
famine, nauseous with filth, and noisome with disease;
it would not be easy for any degree of abhorrence
to harden them against compassion, or to
repress the desire which they must immediately feel
to rescue such numbers of human beings from a state
so dreadful.
It is said, that in France they annually evacuate
their streets, and ship their prostitutes and vagabonds
to their colonies. If the women that infest this city
had the same opportunity of escaping from their
miseries, I believe very little force would be
necessary; for who among them can dread any change?
Many of us indeed are wholly unqualified for any
but the most servile employments, and those perhaps
would require the care of a magistrate to hinder
them from following the same practices in another
country; but others are only precluded by infamy
from reformation, and would gladly be delivered on
any terms from the necessity of guilt, and the
tyranny of chance. No place but a populous city,
can afford opportunities for open prostitution; and
where the eye of justice can attend to individuals,
those who cannot be made good may be restrained
from mischief. For my part, I should exult at the
privilege of banishment, and think myself happy in
any region that should restore me once again to
honesty and peace.
I am, Sir, &c.
No. 172. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 1751
Saepe rogare soles, qualis sim, Prisce, futurus,
Si fiam locuples, simque repente potens.
Quemquam poss putas mores narrare futuros?
Dic mihi, si tu leo, qualis eris?
MART. Lib. xii. Ep. 93.
Priseus, you've often ask'd me how I'd live,
Should fate at once both wealth and honour give.
What soul his future conduct can foresee?
Tell me what sort of lion you would be. F. LEWIS.
NOTHING has been longer observed, than that
a change of fortune causes a change of manners;
and that it is difficult to conjecture from the
conduct of him whom we see in a low condition,
how he would act, if wealth and power were put
into his hands. But it is generally agreed, that few
men are made better by affluence or exaltation;
and that the powers of the mind, when they are
unbound and expanded by the sunshine of felicity,
more frequently luxuriate into follies, than blossom
into goodness.
Many observations have concurred to establish
this opinion, and it is not likely soon to become
obsolete, for want of new occasions to revive it. The
greater part of mankind are corrupt in every condition,
and differ in high and in low stations, only
as they have more or fewer opportunities of gratifying
their desires, or as they are more or less
restrained by human censures. Many vitiate their
principles in the acquisition of riches; and who can
wonder that what is gained by fraud and extortion
is enjoyed with tyranny and excess?
Yet I am willing to believe that the depravation
of the mind by external advantages, though certainly
not uncommon, yet approaches not so nearly
to universality, as some have asserted in the
bitterness of resentness, or heat of declamation.
Whoever rises above those who once pleased
themselves with equality, will have many malevolent
gazers at his eminence. To gain sooner than
others that which all pursue with the same ardour,
and to which all imagine themselves entitled, will
for ever be a crime. When those who started with
us in the race of life, leave us so far behind, that we
have little hope to overtake them, we revenge our
disappointment by remarks on the arts of supplantation
by which they gained the advantage, or on
the folly and arrogance with which they possess it.
Of them, whose rise we could not hinder, we solace
ourselves by prognosticating the fall.
It is impossible for human purity not to betray
to an eye, thus sharpened by malignity, some stains
which lay concealed and unregarded, while none
thought it their interest to discover them; nor can
the most circumspect attention, or steady rectitude,
escape blame from censors, who have no inclination
to approve. Riches therefore, perhaps, do not so
often produce crimes as incite accusers.
The common charge against those who rise above
their original condition, is that of pride. It is
certain that success naturally confirms us in a
favourable opinion of our own abilities. Scarce any man
is willing to allot to accident, friendship, and a
thousand causes, which concur in every event without
human contrivance or interposition, the part
which they may justly claim in his advancement.
We rate ourselves by our fortune rather than our
virtues, and exorbitant claims are quickly produced
by imaginary merit. But captiousness and jealousy
are likewise easily offended, and to him who
studiously looks for an affront, every mode of behaviour
will supply it; freedom will be rudeness, and reserve
sullenness; mirth will be negligence, and seriousness
formality; when he is received with ceremony, distance
and respect are inculcated; if he is treated
with familiarity, he concludes himself insulted by
It must however be confessed, that as all sudden
changes are dangerous, a quick transition from
poverty to abundance can seldom be made with safety.
He that has long lived within sight of pleasures
which he could not reach, will need more than
common moderation, not to lose his reason in unbounded
riot, when they are first put into his power.
Every possession is endeared by novelty; every
gratification is exaggerated by desire. It is difficult
not to estimate what is lately gained above its real
value; it is impossible not to annex greater happiness
to that condition from which we are unwillingly
excluded, than nature has qualified us to
obtain. For this reason, the remote inheritor of an
unexpected fortune, may be generally distinguished
from those who are enriched in the common course
of lineal descent, by his greater haste to enjoy his
wealth, by the finery of his dress, the pomp of
his equipage, the splendour of his furniture, and the
luxury of his table.
A thousand things which familiarity discovers to
be of little value, have power for a time to seize
the imagination. A Virginian king, when the Europeans
had fixed a lock on his door, was so delighted
to find his subjects admitted or excluded with such
facility, that it was from morning to evening his
whole employment to turn the key. We, among
whom locks and keys have been longer in use, are
inclined to laugh at this American amusement; yet
I doubt whether this paper will have a single reader
that may not apply the story to himself, and
recollect some hours of his life in which he has been
equally overpowered by the transitory charms of
trifling novelty.
Some indulgence is due to him whom a happy
gale of fortune has suddenly transported into new
regions, where unaccustomed lustre dazzles his eyes,
and untasted delicacies solicit his appetite. Let him
not be considered as lost in hopeless degeneracy,
though he for a while forgets the regard due to
others, to indulge the contemplation of himself,
and in the extravagance of his first raptures
expects that his eye should regulate the motions of
all that approach him, and his opinion be received
as decisive and oraculous. His intoxication will give
way to time; the madness of joy will fume
imperceptibly away; the sense of his insufficiency will
soon return; he will remember that the co-operation
of others is necessary to his happiness,
and learn to conciliate their regard by reciprocal
There is, at least, one consideration which ought
to alleviate our censures of the powerful and rich.
To imagine them chargeable with all the guilt and
folly of their own actions, is to be very little
acquainted with the world.
De l'absolu pouvoir vous ignorez l'yvresse,
Et du lache flateur la voix enchanteresse.
Thou hast not known the giddy whirls of fate,
Nor servile flatteries which enchant the great. MISS A. W.
He that can do much good or harm, will not find
many whom ambition or cowardice will suffer to
be sincere. While we live upon the level with the
rest of mankind, we are reminded of our duty by
the admonitions of friends and reproaches of
enemies; but men who stand in the highest ranks of
society, seldom hear of their faults; if by any
accident an opprobrious clamour reaches their ears,
flattery is always at hand to pour in her opiates, to
quiet conviction, and obtund remorse.
Favour is seldom gained but by conformity in
vice. Virtue can stand without assistance, and
considers herself as very little obliged by countenance
and approbation: but vice, spiritless and timorous,
seeks the shelter of crowds, and support of
confederacy. The sycophant, therefore, neglects the good
qualities of his patron, and employs all his art on
his weaknesses and follies, regales his reigning vanity,
or stimulates his prevalent desires.
Virtue is sufficiently difficult with any
circumstances, but the difficulty is increased when reproof
and advice are frighted away. In common life, reason
and conscience have only the appetites and
passions to encounter; but in higher stations, they
must oppose artifice and adulation. He, therefore,
that yields to such temptations, cannot give those
who look upon his miscarriage much reason for
exultation, since few can justly presume that from the
same snare they should have been able to escape.
Quo virtus, quo ferat error. HOR. De Ar. Poet. 308.
Now say, where virtue stops, and vice begins?
AS any action or posture, long continued, will
distort and disfigure the limbs; so the mind
likewise is crippled and contracted by perpetual
application to the same set of ideas. It is easy to guess
the trade of an artizan by his knees, his fingers, or
his shoulders: and there are few among men of
the more liberal professions, whose minds do not
carry the brand of their calling, or whose conversation
does not quickly discover to what class of the
community they belong.
These peculiarities have been of great use, in the
general hostility which every part of mankind exercises
against the rest, to furnish insults and sarcasms.
Every art has its dialect, uncouth and ungrateful to
all whom custom has not reconciled to its sound, and
which therefore becomes ridiculous by a slight
misapplication, or unnecessary repetition.
The general reproach with which ignorance
revenges the superciliousness of learning, is that of
pedantry; a censure which every man incurs, who
has at any time the misfortune to talk to those who
cannot understand him, and by which the modest
and timorous are sometimes frighted from the display
of their acquisitions, and the exertion of their
The name of a pedant is so formidable to young
men when they first sally from their colleges, and
is so liberally scattered by those who mean to boast
their elegance of education, easiness of manners,
and knowledge of the world, that it seems to require
particular consideration; since, perhaps, if it were
once understood, many a heart might be freed from
painful apprehensions, and many a tongue delivered
from restraint.
Pedantry is the unseasonable ostentation of
learning. It may be discovered either in the choice of a
subject, or in the manner of treating it. He is
undoubtedly guilty of pedantry, who, when he has
made himself master of some abstruse and uncultivated
part of knowledge, obtrudes his remarks and
discoveries upon those whom he believes unable to
judge of his proficiency, and from whom, as he
cannot fear contradiction, he cannot properly expect
To this error the student is sometimes betrayed
by the natural recurrence of the mind to its common
employment, by the pleasure which every man receives
from the recollection of pleasing images, and
the desire of dwelling upon topicks, on which he
knows himself able to speak with justness. But
because we are seldom so far prejudiced in favour of
each other, as to search out for palliations, this failure
of politeness is imputed always to vanity; and the
harmless collegiate, who, perhaps, intended
entertainment and instruction, or at worst only spoke
without sufficient reflection upon the character of
his hearers, is censured as arrogant or overbearing,
and eager to extend his renown, in contempt of the
convenience of society and the laws of conversation.
All discourse of which others cannot partake, is
not only an irksome usurpation of the time devoted
to pleasure and entertainment, but what never fails
to excite very keen resentment, an insolent assertion
of superiority, and a triumph over less enlightened
understandings. The pedant is, therefore, not only
heard with weariness, but malignity; and those who
conceive themselves insulted by his knowledge,
never fail to tell with acrimony how injudiciously
it was exerted.
To avoid this dangerous imputation, scholars
sometimes divest themselves with too much haste
of their academical formality, and in their
endeavours to accommodate their notions and their style
to common conceptions, talk rather of any thing
than of that which they understand, and sink into
insipidity of sentiment and meanness of expression.
There prevails among men of letters an opinion,
that all appearance of science is particularly hateful
to women; and that therefore, whoever desires to
be well received in female assemblies, must qualify
himself by a total rejection of all that is serious,
rational, or important; must consider argument or
criticism, as perpetually interdicted; and devote all
his attention to trifles, and all his eloquence to
Students often form their notions of the present
generation from the writings of the past, and are
not very early informed of those changes which the
gradual diffusion of knowledge, or the sudden
caprice of fashion, produces in the world. Whatever
might be the state of female literature in the last
century, there is now no longer any danger lest the
scholar should want an adequate audience at the
tea-table; and whoever thinks it necessary to
regulate his conversation by antiquated rules, will be
rather despised for his futility than caressed for his
To talk intentionally in a manner above the
comprehension of those whom we address, is unquestionable
pedantry; but surely complaisance requires,
that no man should, without proof, conclude his
company incapable of following him to the highest
elevation of his fancy, or the utmost extent of his
knowledge. It is always safer to err in favour of
others than of ourselves, and therefore we seldom
hazard much by endeavouring to excel.
It ought at least to be the care of learning, when
she quits her exaltation, to descend with dignity.
Nothing is more despicable than the airiness and
jocularity of a man bred to severe science, and
solitary meditation. To trifle agreeably is a secret
which schools cannot impart; that gay negligence
and vivacious levity, which charm down resistance
whenever they appear, are never attainable by him
who, having spent his first years among the dust
of libraries, enters late into the gay world with an
unpliant attention and established habits.
It is observed in the panegyrick on Fabricus the
mechanist, that, though forced by publick employments
into mingled conversation, he never lost the
modesty and seriousness of the convent, nor drew
ridicule upon himself by an affected imitation of
fashionable life. To the same praise every man
devoted to learning ought to aspire. If he attempts
the softer arts of pleasing, and endeavours to learn
the graceful bow and the familiar embrace, the
insinuating accent and the general smile, he will
lose the respect due to the character of learning,
without arriving at the envied honour of doing any
thing with elegance and facility.
Theophrastus was discovered not to be a native
of Athens, by so strict an adherence to the Attick
dialect, as shewed that he had learned it not by
custom, but by rule. A man not early formed to habitual
elegance, betrays, in like manner, the effects of his
education, by an unnecessary anxiety of behaviour.
It is as possible to become pedantick, by fear of
pedantry, as to be troublesome by ill-timed civility.
There is no kind of impertinence more justly
censurable than his who is always labouring to level
thoughts to intellects higher than his own; who
apologizes for every word which his own narrowness
of converse inclines him to think unusual;
keeps the exuberance of his faculties under visible
restraint; is solicitous to anticipate inquiries by
needless explanations; and endeavours to shade his
own abilities, lest weak eyes should be dazzled with
their lustre.
No. 174. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 1751
Faenum habet vn cornu, longe fuge; dummodo risum
Excutiat sibi, non hic cuiquam parcet amico.
HOR. Lib. i. Sat. iv. 34.
Yonder he drives--avoid that furious beast:
If he may have his jest, he never cares
At whose expense; nor friend nor patron spares. FRANCIS.
THE laws of social benevolence require, that
every man should endeavour to assist others
by his experience. He that has at last escaped into
port from the fluctuations of chances and the gusts
of opposition, ought to make some improvements
in the chart of life, by marking the rocks on which
he has been dashed, and the shallows where he has
been stranded.
The errour into which I was betrayed, when
custom first gave me up to my own direction, is very
frequently incident to the quick, the sprightly, the
fearless, and the gay; to all whose ardour hurries
them into precipitate execution of their designs,
and imprudent declaration of their opinions; who
seldom count the cost of pleasure, or examine the
distant consequences of any practice that flatters
them with immediate gratification.
I came forth into the crowded world with the
usual juvenile ambition, and desired nothing
beyond the title of a wit. Money I considered as
below my care; for I saw such multitudes grow rich
without understanding, that I could not forbear to
look on wealth as an acquisition easy to industry
directed by genius, and therefore threw it aside as
a secondary convenience, to be procured when my
principal wish should be satisfied, and the claim to
intellectual excellence universally acknowledged.
With this view I regulated my behaviour in
publick, and exercised my meditations in solitude. My
life was divided between the care of providing
topicks for the entertainment of my company, and
that of collecting company worthy to be entertained;
for I soon found, that wit, like every other
power, has its boundaries; that its success depends
upon the aptitude of others to receive impressions;
and that as some bodies, indissoluble by heat, can
set the furnace and crucible at defiance, there are
minds upon which the rays of fancy may be pointed
without effect, and which no fire of sentiment can
agitate or exalt.
It was, however, not long before I fitted myself
with a set of companions who knew how to laugh,
and to whom no other recommendation was necessary
than the power of striking out a jest. Among
those I fixed my residence, and for a time enjoyed
the felicity of disturbing the neighbours every night
with the obstreperous applause which my sallies
forced from the audience. The reputation of our club
every day increased, and as my flights and remarks
were circulated by my admirers, every day brought
new solicitations for admission into our society.
To support this perpetual fund of merriment, I
frequented every place of concourse, cultivated the
acquaintance of all the fashionable race, and passed
the day in a continual succession of visits, in which
I collected a treasure of pleasantry for the expenses
of the evening. Whatever errour of conduct I could
discover, whatever peculiarity of manner I could
observe, whatever weakness was betrayed by confidence,
whatever lapse was suffered by neglect, all
was drawn together for the diversion of my wild
companions, who when they had been taught the
art of ridicule, never failed to signalize themselves
by a zealous imitation, and filled the town on
the ensuing day with scandal and vexation, with
merriment and shame.
I can scarcely believe, when I recollect my own
practice, that I could have been so far deluded with
petty praise, as to divulge the secrets of trust, and
to expose the levities of frankness; to waylay the
walks of the cautious, and surprise the security of
the thoughtless. Yet it is certain, that for many
years I heard nothing but with design to tell it, and
saw nothing with any other curiosity than after some
failure that might furnish out a jest.
My heart, indeed, acquits me of deliberate
malignity, or interested insidiousness. I had no other
purpose than to heighten the pleasure of laughter by
communication, nor ever raised any pecuniary
advantage from the calamities of others. I led weakness
and negligence into difficulties, only that I might
divert myself with their perplexities and distresses;
and violated every law of friendship, with no other
hope than that of gaining the reputation of smartness
and waggery.
I would not be understood to charge myself with
any crimes of the atrocious or destructive kind. I
never betrayed an heir to gamesters, or a girl to
debauchees; never intercepted the kindness of a
patron, or sported away the reputation of innocence.
My delight was only in petty mischief, and momentary
vexations, and my acuteness was employed not
upon fraud and oppression, which it had been
meritorious to detect, but upon harmless ignorance or
absurdity, prejudice or mistake.
This inquiry I pursued with so much diligence
and sagacity, that I was able to relate, of every man
whom I knew, some blunder or miscarriage; to
betray the most circumspect of my friends into follies,
by a judicious flattery of his predominant passion;
or expose him to contempt, by placing him in
circumstances which put his prejudices into action,
brought to view his natural defects, or drew the
attention of the company on his airs of affectation.
The power had been possessed in vain if it had
never been exerted; and it was not my custom to
let any arts of jocularity remain unemployed. My
impatience of applause brought me always early to
the place of entertainment; and I seldom failed to
lay a scheme with the small knot that first gathered
round me, by which some of those whom we expected
might be made subservient to our sport.
Every man has some favourite topick of conversation,
on which, by a feigned seriousness of attention,
he may be drawn to expatiate without end. Every
man has some habitual contortion of body, or
established mode of expression, which never fails to raise
mirth if it be pointed out to notice. By premonitions
of these particularities I secured our pleasantry. Our
companion entered with his usual gaiety, and began
to partake of our noisy cheerfulness, when the
conversation was imperceptibly diverted to a subject
which pressed upon his tender part, and extorted
the expected shrug, the customary exclamation, or
the predicted remark. A general clamour of joy
then burst from all that were admitted to the
stratagem. Our mirth was often increased by the triumph
of him that occasioned it; for as we do not hastily
form conclusions against ourselves, seldom any one
suspected, that he had exhilarated us otherwise than
by wit.
You will hear, I believe, with very little surprise,
that by this conduct I had in a short time united
mankind against me, and that every tongue was
diligent in prevention or revenge. I soon perceived
myself regarded with malevolence or distrust, but
wondered what had been discovered in me either
terrible or hateful. I had invaded no man's property;
I had rivalled no man's claims: nor had ever engaged
in any of those attempts which provoke the jealousy
of ambition or the rage of faction. I had lived but
to laugh, and make others laugh; and believed that
I was loved by all who caressed, and favoured by
all who applauded me. I never imagined, that he
who, in the mirth of a nocturnal revel, concurred in
ridiculing his friend, would consider, in a cooler
hour, that the same trick might be played against
himself; or that even where there is no sense of
danger, the natural pride of human nature rises
against him, who, by general censures, lays claim to
general superiority.
I was convinced, by a total desertion, of the
impropriety of my conduct; every man avoided, and
cautioned others to avoid me. Wherever I came, I
found silence and dejection, coldness and terrour.
No one would venture to speak, lest he should lay
himself open to unfavourable representations; the
company, however numerous, dropped off at my
entrance upon various pretences; and, if I retired
to avoid the shame of being left, I heard confidence
and mirth revive at my departure.
If those whom I had thus offended could have
contented themselves with repaying one insult for
another, and kept up the war only by a reciprocation
of sarcasms, they might have perhaps vexed,
but would never have much hurt me; for no man
heartily hates him at whom he can laugh. But these
wounds which they give me as they fly, are without
cure; this alarm which they spread by their solicitude
to escape me, excludes me from all friendship
and from all pleasure. I am condemned to pass a
long interval of my life in solitude, as a man
suspected of infection is refused admission into cities;
and must linger in obscurity, till my conduct shall
convince the world, that I may be approached
without hazard.
I am, &c.
No. 175. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1751
Rari quippe boni, numerus vix est totidem quot
Thebarum portoe, vel divitis ostia Nili. JUV. Sat. xiii. 26.
Good men are scarce, the just are thinly sown:
They thrive but ill, nor can they last when grown.
And should we count them, and our store compile,
Yet Thebes more gates could shew, more mouths the Nile.
NONE of the axioms of wisdom which recommend
the ancient sages to veneration, seem to
have required less extent of knowledge or
perspicacity of penetration, than the remarks of Bias,
that oi pleones cacoioe, "The majority are wicked."
The depravity of mankind is so easily
discoverable, that nothing but the desert or the cell can
exclude it from notice. The knowledge of crimes
intrudes uncalled and undesired. They whom their
abstraction from common occurrences hinders from
seeing iniquity, will quickly have their attention
awakened by feeling it. Even he who ventures not
into the world, may learn its corruption in his closet.
For what are treatises of morality, but persuasives
to the practice of duties, for which no arguments
would be necessary, but that we are continually
tempted to violate or neglect them ? What are all
the records of history, but narratives of successive
villanies, of treasons and usurpations, massacres
and wars?
But, perhaps, the excellence of aphorisms
consists not so much in the expression of some rare
and abstruse sentiment, as in the comprehension of
some obvious and useful truths in a few words. We
frequently fall into errour and folly, not because
the true principles of action are not known, but
because, for a time, they are not remembered;
and he may therefore be justly numbered among
the benefactors of mankind, who contracts the great
rules of life into short sentences, that may be easily
impressed on the memory, and taught by frequent
recollection to recur habitually to the mind.
However those who have passed through half the
life of man, may now wonder that any should require
to be cautioned against corruption, they will
find that they have themselves purchased their
conviction by many disappointments and vexations
which an earlier knowledge would have spared them;
and may see, on every side, some entangling themselves
in perplexities, and some sinking into ruin,
by ignorance or neglect of the maxim of Bias.
Every day sends out, in quest of pleasure and
distinction, some heir fondled in ignorance, and
flattered into pride. He comes forth with all the
confidence of a spirit unacquainted with superiors, and
all the benevolence of a mind not yet irritated by
opposition, alarmed by fraud, or embittered by
cruelty. He loves all, because he imagines himself
the universal favourite. Every exchange of salutation
produces new acquaintance, and every acquaintance
kindles into friendship.
Every season brings a new flight of beauties into
the world, who have hitherto heard only of their own
charms, and imagine that the heart feels no passion
but that of love. They are soon surrounded by
admirers whom they credit, because they tell them
only what is heard with delight. Whoever gazes
upon them is a lover; and whoever forces a sigh, is
pining in despair.
He surely is a useful monitor, who inculcates to
these thoughtless strangers, that the MAJORITY ARE
WICKED; who informs them, that the train which
wealth and beauty draw after them, is lured only
by the scent of prey; and that, perhaps, among all
those who crowd about them with professions and
flatteries, there is not one who does not hope for
some opportunity to devour or betray them, to glut
himself by their destruction, or to share their spoils
with a stronger savage.
Virtue presented singly to the imagination or the
reason, is so well recommended by its own graces,
and so strongly supported by arguments, that a
good man wonders how any can be bad; and they
who are ignorant of the force of passion and interest,
who never observed the arts of seduction, the
contagion of example, the gradual descent from one
crime to another, or the insensible depravation
of the principles by loose conversation, naturally
expect to find integrity in every bosom, and
veracity on every tongue.
It is, indeed, impossible not to hear from those
who have lived longer, of wrongs and falsehoods,
of violence and circumvention; but such narratives
are commonly regarded by the young, the heady,
and the confident, as nothing more than the murmurs
of peevishness, or the dreams of dotage; and,
notwithstanding all the documents of hoary wisdom,
we commonly plunge into the world fearless and
credulous, without any foresight of danger, or
apprehension of deceit.
I have remarked, in a former paper, that credulity
is the common failing of unexperienced virtue; and
that he who is spontaneously suspicious, may be
justly charged with radical corruption; for, if he has
not known the prevalence of dishonesty by information,
nor had time to observe it with his own eyes,
whence can he take his measures of judgment but
from himself?
They who best deserve to escape the snares of
artifice, are most likely to be entangled. He that
endeavours to live for the good of others, must
always be exposed to the arts of them who live only
for themselves, unless he is taught by timely
precepts the caution required in common transactions,
and shewn at a distance the pitfalls of treachery.
To youth, therefore, it should be carefully
inculcated, that, to enter the road of life without caution
or reserve, in expectation of general fidelity and
justice, is to launch on the wide ocean without the
instruments of steerage, and to hope that every wind
will be prosperous, and that every coast will afford
a harbour.
To enumerate the various motives to deceit and
injury, would be to count all the desires that prevail
among the sons of men; since there is no ambition
however petty, no wish however absurd, that
by indulgence will not be enabled to overpower the
influence of virtue. Many there are, who openly and
almost professedly regulate all their conduct by their
love of money; who have no other reason for action
or forbearance, for compliance or refusal, than that
they hope to gain more by one than by the other.
These are indeed the meanest and cruellest of human
beings, a race with whom, as with some pestiferous
animals, the whole creation seems to be at war; but
who, however detested or scorned, long continue to
add heap to heap, and when they have reduced one
to beggary, are still permitted to fasten on another.
Others, yet less rationally wicked, pass their lives
in mischief, because they cannot bear the sight of
success, and mark out every man for hatred, whose
fame or fortune they believe increasing.
Many who have not advanced to these degrees
of guilt are yet wholly unqualified for friendship,
and unable to maintain any constant or regular
course of kindness. Happiness may be destroyed
not only by union with the man who is apparently
the slave of interest, but with whom a wild opinion
of the dignity of perseverance, in whatever cause,
disposes to pursue every injury with unwearied and
perpetual resentment; with him whose vanity inclines
him to consider every man as a rival in every
pretension; with him whose airy negligence puts
his friend's affairs or secrets in continual hazard,
and who thinks his forgetfulness of others excused
by his inattention to himself; and with him whose
inconstancy ranges without any settled rule of
choice through varieties of friendship, and who
adopts and dismisses favourites by the sudden
impulse of caprice.
Thus numerous are the dangers to which the
converse of mankind exposes us, and which can be
avoided only by prudent distrust. He therefore that,
remembering this salutary maxim, learns early to
withhold his fondness from fair appearances, will
have reason to pay some honours to Bias of Priene,
who enabled him to become wise without the cost
of experience.
No. 176. SATURDAY. NOVEMBER 23, 1751
--------Naso suspendis adunco.
HOR. Lib. i. Sat. vi. 5.
On me you turn the nose.--------
THERE are many vexatious accidents and uneasy
situations which raise little compassion for
the sufferer, and which no man but those whom
they immediately distress can regard with
seriousness. Petty mischiefs, that have no influence on
futurity, nor extend their effects to the rest of life,
are always seen with a kind of malicious pleasure.
A mistake or embarrassment, which for the present
moment fills the face with blushes, and the mind
with confusion, will have no other effect upon those
who observe it, than that of convulsing them with
irresistible laughter. Some circumstances of misery
are so powerfully ridiculous, that neither kindness
nor duty can withstand them; they bear down love,
interest, and reverence, and force the friend, the
dependent, or the child, to give way to instantaneous
motions of merriment.
Among the principal of comick calamities, may
be reckoned the pain which an author, not yet
hardened into insensibility, feels at the onset of a
furious critick, whose age, rank, or fortune, gives him
confidence to speak without reserve; who heaps
one objection upon another, and obtrudes his remarks,
and enforces his corrections, without tenderness or awe.
The author, full of the importance of his work,
and anxious for the justification of every syllable,
starts and kindles at the slightest attack; the
critick, eager to establish his superiority, triumphing
in every discovery of failure, and zealous to
impress the cogency of his arguments, pursues him
from line to line without cessation or remorse. The
critick, who hazards little, proceeds with vehemence,
impetuosity, and fearlessness; the author, whose
quiet and fame, and life and immortality, are
involved in the controversy, tries every art of
subterfuge and defence; maintains modestly what he
resolves never to yield, and yields unwillingly what
cannot be maintained. The critick's purpose is to
conquer, the author only hopes to escape; the critick
therefore knits his brow, and raises his voice,
and rejoices whenever he perceives any tokens of
pain excited by the pressure of his assertions, or the
point of his sarcasms. The author, whose endeavour
is at once to mollify and elude his persecutor,
composes his features and softens his accent, breaks the
force of assault by retreat, and rather steps aside
than flies or advances.
As it very seldom happens that the rage of
extemporary criticism inflicts fatal or lasting wounds,
I know not that the laws of benevolence entitle
this distress to much sympathy. The diversion of
baiting an author has the sanction of all ages and
nations, and is more lawful than the sport of teasing
other animals, because, for the most part, he
comes voluntarily to the stake, furnished, as he
imagines, by the patron powers of literature, with
resistless weapons, and impenetrable armour, with
the mail of the boar of Erymanth, and the paws of
the lion of Nemea.
But the works of genius are sometimes produced
by other motives than vanity; and he whom necessity
or duty enforces to write, is not always so well
satisfied with himself, as not to be discouraged by
censorious impudence. It may therefore be necessary
to consider, how they whom publication lays open
to the insults of such as their obscurity secures
against reprisals, may extricate themselves from
unexpected encounters.
Vida, a man of considerable skill in the politicks
of literature, directs his pupil wholly to abandon
his defence, and even when he can irrefragably refute
all objections, to suffer tamely the exultations
of his antagonist.
This rule may perhaps be just, when advice is
asked, and severity solicited, because no man tells
his opinion so freely as when he imagines it received
with implicit veneration; and criticks ought never
to be consulted, but while errours may yet be rectified
or insipidity suppressed. But when the book
has once been dismissed into the world, and can be
no more retouched, I know not whether a very different
conduct should not be prescribed, and whether
firmness and spirit may not sometimes be of use to
overpower arrogance and repel brutality. Softness,
diffidence, and moderation, will often be mistaken
for imbecility and dejection; they lure cowardice
to the attack by the hopes of easy victory, and it
will soon be found that he whom every man thinks
he can conquer, shall never be at peace.
The animadversions of criticks are commonly
such as may easily provoke the sedatest writer to
some quickness of resentment and asperity of reply.
A man, who by long consideration has familiarized
a subject to his own mind, carefully surveyed the
series of his thoughts, and planned all the parts of
his composition into a regular dependance on each
other, will often start at the sinistrous interpretations
or absurd remarks of haste and ignorance, and
wonder by what infatuation they have been led
away from the obvious sense, and upon what peculiar
principles of judgment they decide against him.
The eye of the intellect, like that of the body, is
not equally perfect in all, nor equally adapted in
any to all objects; the end of criticism is to supply
its defects; rules are the instruments of mental
vision, which may indeed assist our faculties when
properly used, but produce confusion and obscurity
by unskilful application.
Some seem always to read with the microscope
of criticism, and employ their whole attention upon
minute elegance, or faults scarcely visible to
common observation. The dissonance of a syllable, the
recurrence of the same sound, the repetition of a
particle, the smallest deviation from propriety, the
slightest defect in construction or arrangement,
swell before their eyes into enormities. As they
discern with great exactness, they comprehend but
a narrow compass, and know nothing of the justness
of the design, the general spirit of the performance,
the artifice of connection, or the harmony of the
parts; they never conceive how small a proportion
that which they are busy in contemplating bears to
the whole, or how the petty inaccuracies, with which
they are offended, are absorbed and lost in general
Others are furnished by criticism with a telescope.
They see with great clearness whatever is too remote
to be discovered by the rest of mankind, but are
totally blind to all that lies immediately before them.
They discover in every passage some secret meaning,
some remote allusion, some artful allegory,
or some occult imitation, which no other reader
ever suspected; but they have no perception of the
cogency of arguments, the force of pathetick sentiments,
the various colours of diction, or the flowery
embellishments of fancy; of all that engages the
attention of others they are totally insensible, while
they pry into worlds of conjecture, and amuse themselves
with phantoms in the clouds.
In criticism, as in every other art, we fail
sometimes by our weakness, but more frequently by our
fault. We are sometimes bewildered by ignorance,
and sometimes by prejudice, but we seldom deviate
far from the right, but when we deliver ourselves
up to the direction of vanity.
No. 177. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 1751
Turpe est difficiles habere nugas.
MART. Lib. ii. Ep. lxxxvi. 9.
Those things which now seem frivolous and slight,
Will be of serious consequence to you,
When they have made you once ridiculous. ROSCOMMON.
WHEN I was, at the usual time, about to enter
upon the profession to which my friends had
destined me, being summoned, by the death of
my father, into the country, I found myself master
of an unexpected sum of money, and of an estate,
which, though not large, was, in my opinion,
sufficient to support me in a condition far preferable
to the fatigue, dependance, and uncertainty of any
gainful occupation. I therefore resolved to devote
the rest of my life wholly to curiosity, and without
any confinement of my excursions, or termination of
my views, to wander over the boundless regions of
general knowledge.
This scheme of life seemed pregnant with
inexhaustible variety, and therefore I could not forbear
to congratulate myself upon the wisdom of my
choice. I furnished a large room with all
conveniencies for study; collected books of every kind;
quitted every science at the first perception of disgust;
returned to it again as soon as my former ardour
happened to revive; and having no rival to
depress me by comparison, nor any critick to alarm
me with objections, I spent day after day in profound
tranquillity, with only so much complaisance
in my own improvements, as served to excite and
animate my application.
Thus I lived for some years with complete
acquiescence in my own plan of conduct, rising early
to read, and dividing the latter part of the day
between economy, exercise, and reflection. But, in
time, I began to find my mind contracted and
stiffened by solitude. My ease and elegance were
sensibly impaired; I was no longer able to accommodate
myself with readiness to the accidental current
of conversation; my notions grew particular
and paradoxical, and my phraseology formal and
unfashionable; I spoke, on common occasions, the
language of books. My quickness of apprehension,
and celerity of reply, had entirely deserted me;
when I delivered my opinion, or detailed my knowledge,
I was bewildered by an unseasonable interrogatory,
disconcerted by any slight opposition, and
overwhelmed and lost in dejection, when the smallest
advantage was gained against me in dispute. I
became decisive and dogmatical, impatient of
contradiction, perpetually jealous of my character,
insolent to such as acknowledged my superiority, and
sullen and malignant to all who refused to receive
my dictates.
This I soon discovered to be one of those
intellectual diseases which a wise man should make haste
to cure. I therefore resolved for a time to shut my
books, and learn again the art of conversation; to
defecate and clear my mind by brisker motions, and
stronger impulses; and to unite myself once more
to the living generation.
For this purpose I hasted to London, and
entreated one of my academical acquaintances to
introduce me into some of the little societies of
literature which are formed in taverns and coffeehouses.
He was pleased with an opportunity of
shewing me to his friends, and soon obtained me
admission among a select company of curious men,
who met once a week to exhilarate their studies,
and compare their acquisitions.
The eldest and most venerable of this society was
Hirsutus, who, after the first civilities of my
reception, found means to introduce the mention of his
favourite studies, by a severe censure of those who
want the due regard for their native country. He
informed me, that he had early withdrawn his
attention from foreign trifles, and that since he began
to addict his mind to serious and manly studies, he
had very carefully amassed all the English books
that were printed in the black character. This search
he had pursued so diligently, that he was able to
shew the deficiencies of the best catalogues. He had
long since completed his Caxton, had three sheets
of Treveris unknown to the antiquaries, and wanted
to a perfect Pynson but two volumes, of which one
was promised him as a legacy by its present possessor,
and the other he was resolved to buy, at whatever
price, when Quisquilius's library should be sold.
Hirsutus had no other reason for the valuing or
slighting a book, than that it was printed in the
Roman or the Gothic letter, nor any ideas but such
as his favourite volumes had supplied; when he was
serious he expatiated on the narratives "of Johan
de Trevisa," and when he was merry, regaled us
with a quotation from the "Shippe of Foles."
While I was listening to this hoary student,
Ferratus entered in a hurry, and informed us with
the abruptness of ecstasy, that his set of halfpence
was now complete; he had just received in a handful
of change, the piece that he had so long been
seeking, and could now defy mankind to outgo his
collection of English copper.
Chartophylax then observed how fatally human
sagacity was sometimes baffled, and how often the
most valuable discoveries are made by chance. He
had employed himself and his emissaries seven years
at great expense to perfect his series of Gazettes,
but had long wanted a single paper, which, when
he despaired of obtaining it, was sent him wrapped
round a parcel of tobacco.
Cantilenus turned all his thoughts upon old
ballads, for he considered them as the genuine records
of the national taste. He offered to shew me a copy
of "The Children in the Wood," which he firmly
believed to be of the first edition, and, by the help
of which, the text might be freed from several
corruptions, if this age of barbarity had any claim to
such favours from him.
Many were admitted into this society as inferior
members, because they had collected old prints and
neglected pamphlets, or possessed some fragment
of antiquity, as the seal of an ancient corporation, the
charter of a religious house, the genealogy of a family
extinct, or a letter written in the reign of Elizabeth.
Every one of these virtuosos looked on all his
associates as wretches of depraved taste and narrow
notions. Their conversation was, therefore, fretful
and waspish, their behaviour brutal, their merriment
bluntly sarcastick, and their seriousness gloomy and
suspicious. They were totally ignorant of all that
passes, or has lately passed, in the world; unable to
discuss any question of religious, political, or military
knowledge; equally strangers to science and politer
learning, and without any wish to improve their
minds, or any other pleasure than that of displaying
rarities, of which they would not suffer others to
make the proper use.
Hirsutus graciously informed me, that the number
of their society was limited, but that I might
sometimes attend as an auditor. I was pleased to
find myself in no danger of an honour, which I could
not have willingly accepted, nor gracefully refused,
and left them without any intention of returning;
for I soon found that the suppression of those
habits with which I was vitiated, required association
with men very different from this solemn race.
I am, Sir, &c.
It is natural to feel grief or indignation when
any thing necessary or useful is wantonly wasted,
or negligently destroyed; and therefore my
correspondent cannot be blamed for looking with
uneasiness on the waste of life. Leisure and curiosity
might soon make great advances in useful knowledge,
were they not diverted by minute emulation
and laborious trifles. It may, however, somewhat
mollify his anger to reflect, that perhaps none of the
assembly which he describes, was capable of any
nobler employment, and that he who does his best,
however little, is always to be distinguished from
him who does nothing. Whatever busies the mind
without corrupting it, has at least this use, that it
rescues the day from idleness, and he that is never
idle will not often be vicious.
No. 178. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 1751
Pars sanitatis velle sanari fuit. SENECA.
To yield to remedies is half the cure.
PYTHAGORAS is reported to have required
from those whom he instructed in philosophy a
probationary silence of five years. Whether this
prohibition of speech extended to all the parts of
this time, as seems generally to be supposed, or
was to be observed only in the school or in the
presence of their master, as is more probable, it was
sufficient to discover the pupil's disposition; to try
whether he was willing to pay the price of learning,
or whether he was one of those whose ardour was
rather violent than lasting, and who expected to
grow wise on other terms than those of patience
and obedience.
Many of the blessings universally desired, are
very frequently wanted, because most men, when
they should labour, content themselves to complain,
and rather linger in a state in which they
cannot be at rest, than improve their condition by
vigour and resolution.
Providence has fixed the limits of human
enjoyment by immoveable boundaries, and has set
different gratifications at such a distance from each other,
that no art or power can bring them together. This
great law it is the business of every rational being
to understand, that life may not pass away in an
attempt to make contradictions consistent, to combine
opposite qualities, and to unite things which
the nature of their being must always keep asunder.
Of two objects tempting at a distance on
contrary sides, it is impossible to approach one but by
receding from the other; by long deliberation and
dilatory projects, they may be both lost, but can
never be both gained. It is, therefore, necessary to
compare them, and, when we have determined the
preference, to withdraw our eyes and our thoughts
at once from that which reason directs us to reject.
This is more necessary, if that which we are forsaking
has the power of delighting the senses, or firing
the fancy. He that once turns aside to the
allurements of unlawful pleasure, can have no security
that he shall ever regain the paths of virtue.
The philosophick goddess of Boethius, having
related the story of Orpheus, who, when he had
recovered his wife from the dominions of death, lost
her again by looking back upon her in the confines
of light, concludes with a very elegant and forcible
application. "Whoever you are that endeavour to
elevate your minds to the illuminations of Heaven,
consider yourselves as represented in this fable; for
he that is once so far overcome as to turn back his
eyes towards the infernal caverns, loses at the first
sight all that influence which attracted him on high:"
Vos haec fabula respicit,
Quicunque in superum diem
Mentem ducere quaeritis.
Nam qui Tartareum in specus
Victus lumina flexerit,
Quidquid praecipuum trahit,
Perdit, dum videt inferos.
It may be observed, in general, that the future is
purchased by the present. It is not possible to secure
instant or permanent happiness but by the forbearance
of some immediate gratification. This is
so evidently true with regard to the whole of our
existence, that all the precepts of theology have no
other tendency than to enforce a life of faith; a life
regulated not by our senses but our belief; a life in
which pleasures are to be refused for fear of
invisible punishments, and calamities sometimes to be
sought, and always endured, in hope of rewards
that shall be obtained in another state.
Even if we take into our view only that particle
of our duration which is terminated by the grave,
it will be found that we cannot enjoy one part of
life beyond the common limitations of pleasure,
but by anticipating some of the satisfaction which
should exhilarate the following years. The heat of
youth may spread happiness into wild luxuriance,
but the radical vigour requisite to make it perennial
is exhausted, and all that can be hoped afterwards
is languor and sterility.
The reigning errour of mankind is, that we are
not content with the conditions on which the goods
of life are granted. No man is insensible of the
value of knowledge, the advantages of health, or
the convenience of plenty, but every day shews us
those on whom the conviction is without effect.
Knowledge is praised and desired by multitudes
whom her charms could never rouse from the couch
of sloth; whom the faintest invitation of pleasure
draws away from their studies; to whom any other
method of wearing out the day is more eligible than
the use of books, and who are more easily engaged
by any conversation, than such as may rectify their
notions or enlarge their comprehension.
Every man that has felt pain, knows how little
all other comforts can gladden him to whom health
is denied. Yet who is there does not sometimes
hazard it for the enjoyment of an hour? All
assemblies of jollity, all places of public entertainment,
exhibit examples of strength wasting in riot, and
beauty withering in irregularity; nor is it easy to
enter a house in which part of the family is not
groaning in repentance of past intemperance, and
part admitting disease by negligence, or soliciting
it by luxury.
There is no pleasure which men of every age and
sect have more generally agreed to mention with
contempt, than the gratifications of the palate; an
entertainment so far removed from intellectual
happiness, that scarcely the most shameless of the
sensual herd have dared to defend it: yet even to
this, the lowest of our delights, to this, though
neither quick nor lasting, is health with all its
activity and sprightliness daily sacrificed; and for this
are half the miseries endured which urge impatience
to call on death.
The whole world is put in motion by the wish
for the riches and the dread of poverty. Who, then,
would not imagine that such conduct as will inevitably
destroy what all are thus labouring to acquire,
must generally be avoided? That he who spends
more than he receives, must in time become
indigent, cannot be doubted; but, how evident soever
this consequence may appear, the spendthrift moves
in the whirl of pleasure with too much rapidity to
keep it before his eyes, and, in the intoxication of
gaiety, grows every day poorer without any such
sense of approaching ruin as is sufficient to wake
him into caution.
Many complaints are made of the misery of life;
and indeed it must be confessed that we are subject
to calamities by which the good and bad, the
diligent and slothful, the vigilant and heedless, are
equally afflicted. But surely, though some
indulgence may be allowed to groans extorted by
inevitable misery, no man has a right to repine at evils
which, against warning, against experience, he
deliberately and leisurely brings upon his own
head; or to consider himself as debarred from
happiness by such obstacles as resolution may break
or dexterity may put aside.
Great numbers who quarrel with their condition,
have wanted not the power but the will to obtain a
better state. They have never contemplated the
difference between good and evil sufficiently to
quicken aversion, or invigorate desire; they have
indulged a drowsy thoughtlessness or giddy levity;
have committed the balance of choice to the
management of caprice; and when they have long
accustomed themselves to receive all that chance
offered them, without examination, lament at last
that they find themselves deceived.
No. 179. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 1751
Perpetuo risu pulmonem agitare solebat. JUV. Sat. x. 33.
Democritus would feed his spleen, and shake
His sides and shoulders till he felt them ake. DRYDEN.
EVERY man, says Tully, has two characters;
one which he partakes with all mankind, and
by which he is distinguished from brute animals;
another which discriminates him from the rest of
his own species, and impresses on him a manner and
temper peculiar to himself; this particular character,
if it be not repugnant to the laws of general
humanity, it is always his business to cultivate and
Every hour furnishes some confirmation of Tully's
precept. It seldom happens, that an assembly of
pleasure is so happily selected, but that some one
finds admission, with whom the rest are deservedly
offended; and it will appear, on a close inspection,
that scarce any man becomes eminently disagreeable,
but by a departure from his real character, and
an attempt at something for which nature or
education have left him unqualified.
Ignorance or dulness have indeed no power of
affording delight, but they never give disgust except
when they assume the dignity of knowledge, or ape
the sprightliness of wit. Awkwardness and inelegance
have none of those attractions by which ease
and politeness take possession of the heart; but
ridicule and censure seldom rise against them,
unless they appear associated with that confidence
which belongs only to long acquaintance with the
modes of life, and to consciousness of unfailing
propriety of behaviour. Deformity itself is regarded
with tenderness rather than aversion, when it does
not attempt to deceive the sight by dress and
decoration, and to seize upon fictitious claims the
prerogatives of beauty.
He that stands to contemplate the crowds that
fill the streets of a populous city, will see many
passengers whose air and motion it will be difficult
to behold without contempt and laughter; but if he
examines what are the appearances that thus
powerfully excite his risibility, he will find among them
neither poverty nor disease, nor any involuntary or
painful defect. The disposition to derision and insult
is awakened by the softness of foppery, the swell
of insolence, the liveliness of levity, or the solemnity
of grandeur; by the sprightly trip, the stately stalk,
the formal strut, the lofty mien; by gestures
intended to catch the eye, and by looks elaborately
formed as evidences of importance.
It has, I think, been sometimes urged in favour
of affectation, that it is only a mistake of the means
to a good end, and that the intention with which it
is practised is always to please. If all attempts to
innovate the constitutional or habitual character
have really proceeded from public spirit and love of
others, the world has hitherto been sufficiently
ungrateful, since no return but scorn has yet been
made to the most difficult of all enterprises, a
contest with nature; nor has any pity been shown to
the fatigues of labour which never succeeded, and
the uneasiness of disguise by which nothing was
It seems therefore to be determined by the
general suffrage of mankind, that he who decks
himself in adscititious qualities rather purposes to
command applause than impart pleasure: and he is
therefore treated as a man who, by an unreasonable
ambition, usurps the place in society to which he
has no right. Praise is seldom paid with willingness
even to incontestable merit, and it can be no wonder
that he who calls for it without desert is repulsed
with universal indignation.
Affectation naturally counterfeits those
excellencies which are placed at the greatest distance from
possibility of attainment. We are conscious of our
own defects, and eagerly endeavour to supply them
by artificial excellence; nor would such efforts be
wholly without excuse, were they not often excited
by ornamental trifles, which he, that thus anxiously
struggles for the reputation of possessing them,
would not have been known to want, had not his
industry quickened observation.
Gelasimus passed the first part of his life in
academical privacy and rural retirement, without any
other conversation than that of scholars, grave,
studious, and abstracted as himself. He cultivated
the mathematical sciences with indefatigable diligence,
discovered many useful theorems, discussed
with great accuracy the resistance of fluids, and,
though his priority was not generally acknowledged,
was the first who fully explained all the properties
of the catenarian curve.
Learning, when it rises to eminence, will be
observed in time, whatever mists may happen to
surround it. Gelasimus, in his forty-ninth year, was
distinguished by those who have the rewards of
knowledge in their hands, and called out to display
his acquisitions for the honour of his country, and
add dignity by his presence to philosophical
assemblies. As he did not suspect his unfitness for
common affairs, he felt no reluctance to obey the
invitation, and what he did not feel he had yet too
much honesty to feign. He entered into the world
as a larger and more populous college, where his
performances would be more publick, and his
renown further extended; and imagined that he should
find his reputation universally prevalent, and the
influence of learning every where the same.
His merit introduced him to splendid tables and
elegant acquaintance; but he did not find himself
always qualified to join in the conversation. He was
distressed by civilities, which he knew not how to
repay, and entangled in many ceremonial perplexities,
from which his books and diagrams could not
extricate him. He was sometimes unluckily
engaged in disputes with ladies, with whom algebraick
axioms had no great weight, and saw many whose
favour and esteem he could not but desire, to whom
he was very little recommended by his theories of
the tides, or his approximations to the quadrature
of the circle.
Gelasimus did not want penetration to discover,
that no charm was more generally irresistible than
that of easy facetiousness and flowing hilarity. He
saw that diversion was more frequently welcome
than improvement; that authority and seriousness
were rather feared than loved; and that the grave
scholar was a kind of imperious ally, hastily
dismissed when his assistance was no longer necessary.
He came to a sudden resolution of throwing off
those cumbrous ornaments of learning which
hindered his reception, and commenced a man of wit
and jocularity. Utterly unacquainted with every
topick of merriment, ignorant of the modes and
follies, the vices and virtues of mankind, and
unfurnished with any ideas but such as Pappas and
Archimedes had given him, he began to silence all inquiries
with a jest instead of a solution, extended his face
with a grin, which he mistook for a smile, and in the
place of scientifick discourse, retailed in a new
language, formed between the college and the tavern,
the intelligence of the newspaper.
Laughter, he knew, was a token of alacrity; and,
therefore, whatever he said or heard, he was careful
not to fail in that great duty of a wit. If he asked
or told the hour of the day, if he complained of
heat or cold, stirred the fire, or filled a glass,
removed his chair, or snuffed a candle, he always found
some occasion to laugh. The jest was indeed a secret
to all but himself; but habitual confidence in his
own discernment hindered him from suspecting any
weakness or mistake. He wondered that his wit was
so little understood, but expected that his audience
would comprehend it by degrees, and persisted all
his life to shew by gross buffoonery, how little the
strongest faculties can perform beyond the limits of
their own province.
No. 180. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7. 1751
Tat' eidwoes isqi, mathn d' 'Epicouron eason
Ho tooe cenn, caioe tines ai monades.
On life, on morals, be thy thoughts employ'd;
Leave to the schools their atoms and their void.
IT is somewhere related by Le Clerc, that a wealthy
trader of good understanding, having the common
ambition to breed his son a scholar, carried him to
an university, resolving to use his own judgment
in the choice of a tutor. He had been taught, by
whatever intelligence, the nearest way to the heart
of an academick, and at his arrival entertained all
who came about him with such profusion, that the
professors were lured by the smell of his table from
their books, and flocked round him with all the
cringes of awkward complaisance. This eagerness
answered the merchant's purpose: he glutted them
with delicacies, and softened them with caresses,
till he prevailed upon one after another to open his
bosom, and make a discovery of his competitions,
jealousies, and resentments. Having thus learned
each man's character, partly from himself, and partly
from his acquaintances, he resolved to find some
other education for his son, and went away convinced,
that a scholastick life has no other tendency
than to vitiate the morals and contract the
understanding: nor would he afterwards hear with patience
the praises of the ancient authors, being persuaded
that scholars of all ages must have been the same,
and that Xenophon and Cicero were professors of
some former university, and therefore mean and
selfish, ignorant and servile, like those whom he had
lately visited and forsaken.
Envy, curiosity, and a sense of the imperfection
of our present state, incline us to estimate the
advantages which are in the possession of others above
their real value. Every one must have remarked,
what powers and prerogatives the vulgar imagine
to be conferred by learning. A man of science is
expected to excel the unlettered and unenlightened
even on occasions where literature is of no use,
and among weak minds, loses part of his reverence,
by discovering no superiority in those parts
of life, in which all are unavoidably equal; as
when a monarch makes a progress to the remoter
provinces, the rustics are said sometimes to
wonder that they find him of the same size with
These demands of prejudice and folly can never be
satisfied; and therefore many of the imputations
which learning suffers from disappointed ignorance,
are without reproach. But there are some failures,
to which men of study are peculiarly exposed. Every
condition has its disadvantages. The circle of
knowledge is too wide for the most active and diligent
intellect, and while science is pursued, other
accomplishments are neglected; as a small garrison must
leave one part of an extensive fortress naked, when
an alarm calls them to another.
The learned, however, might generally support
their dignity with more success, if they suffered not
themselves to be misled by the desire of superfluous
attainments. Raphael, in return to Adam's inquiries
into the courses of the stars, and the revolutions of
heaven, counsels him to withdraw his mind from
idle speculations, and employ his faculties upon
nearer and more interesting objects, the survey
of his own life, the subjection of his passions, the
knowledge of duties which must daily be performed,
and the detection of dangers which must daily be
This angelick counsel every man of letters should
always have before him. He that devotes himself
to retired study naturally sinks from omission to
forgetfulness of social duties; he must be therefore
sometimes awakened and recalled to the general
condition of mankind.
I am far from any intention to limit curiosity, or
confine the labours of learning to arts of immediate
and necessary use. It is only from the various
essays of experimental industry, and the vague
excursions of minds sent out upon discovery, that
any advancement of knowledge can be expected;
and, though many must be disappointed in their
labours, yet they are not to be charged with having
spent their time in vain; their example contributed
to inspire emulation, and their miscarriages taught
others the way to success.
But the distant hope of being one day useful or
eminent, ought not to mislead us too far from that
study which is equally requisite to the great and
mean, to the celebrated and obscure; the art of
moderating the desires, of repressing the appetites,
and of conciliating or retaining the favour of
No man can imagine the course of his own life,
or the conduct of the world around him, unworthy
his attention; yet, among the sons of learning,
many seem to have thought of every thing rather
than of themselves, and to have observed every
thing but what passes before their eyes: many who
toil through the intricacy of complicated systems,
are insuperably embarrassed with the least perplexity
in common affairs; many who compare the
actions, and ascertain the characters of ancient
heroes, let their own days glide away without
examination, and suffer vicious habits to encroach upon
their minds without resistance or detection,
The most frequent reproach of the scholastick race
is the want of fortitude, not martial but philosophick.
Men bred in shades and silence, taught to immure
themselves at sunset, and accustomed to no
other weapon than syllogism, may be allowed to
feel terrour at personal danger, and to be
disconcerted by tumult and alarm. But why should he
whose life is spent in contemplation, and whose
business is only to discover truth, be unable to
rectify the fallacies of imagination, or contend
successfully against prejudice and passion? To what
end has he read and meditated, if he gives up his
understanding to false appearances, and suffers
himself to be enslaved by fear of evils to which
only folly or vanity can expose him, or elated
by advantages to which, as they are equally
conferred upon the good and the bad, no real dignity
is annexed.
Such, however, is the state of the world, that the
most obsequious of the slaves of pride, the most
rapturous of the gazers upon wealth, the most
officious of the whisperers of greatness, are collected
from seminaries appropriated to the study of wisdom
and of virtue, where it was intended that
appetite should learn to be content with little, and
that hope should aspire only to honours which no
human power can give or take away[a].
[a] "Such are a sort of sacrilegious ministers in the temple of
intellect. They profane its shew-bread to pamper the palate, its
everlasting lamp they use to light unholy fires within their
breast, and show them the way to the sensual chambers of sense
and worldliness." IRVING.
The student, when he comes forth into the world,
instead of congratulating himself upon his exemption
from the errours of those whose opinions have
been formed by accident or custom, and who live
without any certain principles of conduct, is
commonly in haste to mingle with the multitude, and
shew his sprightliness and ductility by an
expeditious compliance with fashions or vices. The first
smile of a man, whose fortune gives him power to
reward his dependants, commonly enchants him
beyond resistance; the glare of equipage, the sweets
of luxury, the liberality of general promises, the
softness of habitual affability, fill his imagination;
and he soon ceases to have any other wish than to
be well received, or any measure of right and wrong
but the opinion of his patron.
A man flattered and obeyed, learns to exact
grosser adulation, and enjoin lower submission.
Neither our virtues nor vices are all our own. If
there were no cowardice, there would be little
insolence; pride cannot rise to any great degree, but
by the concurrence of blandishment or the sufferance
of tameness. The wretch who would shrink
and crouch before one that should dart his eyes
upon him with the spirit of natural equality, becomes
capricious and tyrannical when he sees himself
approached with a downcast look, and hears the soft
address of awe and servility. To those who are willing
to purchase favour by cringes and compliance,
is to be imputed the haughtiness that leaves nothing
to be hoped by firmness and integrity.
If, instead of wandering after the meteors of
philosophy, which fill the world with splendour for
a while, and then sink and are forgotten, the
candidates of learning fixed their eyes upon the
permanent lustre of moral and religious truth, they would
find a more certain direction to happiness. A little
plausibility of discourse, and acquaintance with
unnecessary speculations, is dearly purchased, when
it excludes those instructions which fortify the heart
with resolution, and exalt the spirit to independence.
No. 181. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10, 1751
----Neu fluitem dubiae spe pendulus horae.
HOR. Lib. i. Ep. xviii. 110.
Nor let me float in fortune's ponv'r,
Dependent on the future hour. FRAXCIS.
AS I have passed much of my life in disquiet and
suspense, and lost many opportunities of advantage
by a passion which I have reason to believe
prevalent in different degrees over a great part of
mankind, I cannot but think myself well qualified
to warn those who are yet uncaptivated, of the
danger which they incur by placing themselves
within its influence.
I served an apprenticeship to a linen-draper, with
uncommon reputation for diligence and fidelity;
and at the age of three-and-twenty opened a shop
for myself with a large stock, and such credit
among all the merchants, who were acquainted with
my master, that I could command whatever was
imported curious or valuable. For five years I
proceeded with success proportionate to close application
and untainted integrity; was a daring bidder at every
sale; always paid my notes before they were due,
and advanced so fast in commercial reputation, that
I was proverbially marked out as the model of young
traders, and every one expected that a few years
would make me an alderman.
In this course of even prosperity, I was one day
persuaded to buy a ticket in the lottery. The sum
was inconsiderable, part was to be repaid though
fortune might fail to favour me, and therefore my
established maxims of frugality did not restrain me
from so trifling an experiment. The ticket lay
almost forgotten till the time at which every man's
fate was to be determined; nor did the affair even
then seem of any importance, till I discovered by
the publick papers that the numbers next to mine
had conferred the great prize.
My heart leaped at the thought of such an
approach to sudden riches, which I considered myself,
however contrarily to the laws of computation, as
having missed by a single chance; and I could not
forbear to revolve the consequences which such as
bounteous allotment would have produced, if it had
happened to me. This dream of felicity, by degrees,
took possession of my imagination. The great delight
of my solitary hours was to purchase an estate,
and form plantations with money which once might
have been mine, and I never met my friends but I
spoiled all their merriment by perpetual complaints
of my ill luck.
At length another lottery was opened, and I had
now so heated my imagination with the prospect
of a prize, that I should have pressed among the
first purchasers, had not my ardour been withheld
by deliberation upon the probability of success from
one ticket rather than another. I hesitated long
between even and odd; considered the square and
cubick numbers through the lottery; examined all
those to which good luck had been hitherto annexed;
and at last fixed upon one, which, by some
secret relation to the events of my life, I thought
predestined to make me happy. Delay in great
affairs is often mischievous; the ticket was sold,
and its possessor could not be found.
I returned to my conjectures, and after many arts
of prognostication, fixed upon another chance, but
with less confidence. Never did captive, heir, or
lover, feel so much vexation from the slow pace of
time, as I suffered between the purchase of my
ticket and the distribution of the prizes. I solaced
my uneasiness as well as I could, by frequent
contemplation of approaching happiness; when the sun
rose I knew it would set, and congratulated myself
at night that I was so much nearer to my wishes.
At last the day came, my ticket appeared, and
rewarded all my care and sagacity with a despicable
prize of fifty pounds.
My friends, who honestly rejoiced upon my
success, were very coldly received; I hid myself a
fortnight in the country, that my chagrin might
fume away without observation, and then returning
to my shop, began to listen after another lottery.
With the news of a lottery I was soon gratified,
and having now found the vanity of conjecture,
and inefficacy of computation, I resolved to take
the prize by violence, and therefore bought forty
tickets, not omitting, however, to divide them
between the even and odd numbers, that I might not
miss the lucky class. Many conclusions did I form,
and many experiments did I try, to determine from
which of those tickets I might most reasonably
expect riches. At last, being unable to satisfy myself
by any modes of reasoning, I wrote the numbers
upon dice, and allotted five hours every day to the
amusement of throwing them in a garret; and,
examining the event by an exact register, found, on
the evening before the lottery was drawn, that one
of my numbers had been turned up five times more
than any of the rest in three hundred and thirty
thousand throws.
This experiment was fallacious; the first day
presented the hopeful ticket, a detestable blank. The
rest came out with different fortune, and in conclusion
I lost thirty pounds by this great adventure.
I had now wholly changed the cast of my behaviour
and the conduct of my life. The shop was for
the most part abandoned to my servants, and if I
entered it, my thoughts were so engrossed by my
tickets, that I scarcely heard or answered a
question, but considered every customer as an intruder
upon my meditations, whom I was in haste to
despatch. I mistook the price of my goods,
committed blunders in my bills, forgot to file my
receipts, and neglected to regulate my books. My
acquaintances by degrees began to fall away; but I
perceived the decline of my business with little
emotion, because whatever deficience there might
be in my gains, I expected the next lottery to
Miscarriage naturally produces diffidence; I
began now to seek assistance against ill luck, by an
alliance with those that had been more successful.
I inquired diligently at what office any prize had
been sold, that I might purchase of a propitious
vender; solicited those who had been fortunate in
former lotteries, to partake with me in my new
tickets; and whenever I met with one that had in
any event of his life been eminently prosperous, I
invited him to take a larger share. I had, by this rule
of conduct, so diffused my interest, that I had a
fourth part of fifteen tickets, an eighth of forty, and
a sixteenth of ninety.
I waited for the decision of my fate with my
former palpitations, and looked upon the business
of my trade with the usual neglect. The wheel at
last was turned, and its revolutions brought me a
long succession of sorrows and disappointments. I
indeed often partook of a small prize, and the loss
of one day was generally balanced by the gain of
the next; but my desires yet remained unsatisfied,
and when one of my chances had failed, all
my expectation was suspended on those which
remained yet undetermined. At last a prize of five
thousand pounds was proclaimed; I caught fire at
the cry, and inquiring the number, found it to be
one of my own tickets, which I had divided among
those on whose luck I depended, and of which I
had retained only a sixteenth part.
You will easily judge with what detestation of
himself, a man thus intent upon gain reflected that
he had sold a prize which was once in his possession.
It was to no purpose, that I represented to
my mind the impossibility of recalling the past, or
the folly of condemning an act, which only its
event, an event which no human intelligence could
foresee, proved to be wrong. The prize which,
though put in my hands, had been suffered to slip
from me, filled me with anguish, and knowing that
complaint would only expose me to ridicule, I gave
myself up silently to grief, and lost by degrees my
appetite and my rest.
My indisposition soon became visible; I was
visited by my friends, among them by Eumathes, a
clergyman, whose piety and learning gave him such
an ascendant over me, that I could not refuse to
open my heart. There are, said he, few minds sufficiently
firm to be trusted in the hands of chance.
Whoever finds himself inclined to anticipate futurity,
and exalt possibility to certainty, should avoid
every kind of casual adventure, since his grief must
be always proportionate to his hope. You have long
wasted that time, which, by a proper application,
would have certainly, though moderately, increased
your fortune, in a laborious and anxious pursuit of
a species of gain, which no labour or anxiety, no art
or expedient, can secure or promote. You are now
fretting away your life in repentance of an act,
against which repentance can give no caution, but
to avoid the occasion of committing it. Rouse from
this lazy dream of fortuitous riches, which, if
obtained, you could scarcely have enjoyed, because
they could confer no consciousness of desert; return
to rational and manly industry, and consider the
mere gift of luck as below the care of a wise man.
No. 182. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14, 1751
----Dives qui fieri vult,
Et cito vult fieri.---- JUV. Sat. xiv. 176.
The lust of wealth can never bear delay.
IT has been observed in a late paper, that we are
unreasonably desirous to separate the goods of
life from those evils which Providence has
connected with them, and to catch advantages without
paying the price at which they are offered us. Every
man wishes to be rich, but very few have the powers
necessary to raise a sudden fortune, either by
new discoveries, or by superiority of skill, in any
necessary employment; and among lower
understandings, many want the firmness and industry
requisite to regular gain and gradual acquisitions.
From the hope of enjoying affluence by methods
more compendious than those of labour, and more
generally practicable than those of genius, proceeds
the common inclination to experiment and hazard,
and that willingness to snatch all opportunities of
growing rich by chance, which, when it has once
taken possession of the mind, is seldom driven out
either by time or argument, but continues to waste
life in perpetual delusion, and generally ends in
wretchedness and want.
The folly of untimely exultation and visionary
prosperity, is by no means peculiar to the purchasers
of tickets; there are multitudes whose life is
nothing but a continual lottery; who are always
within a few months of plenty and happiness, and
how often soever they are mocked with blanks,
expect a prize from the next adventure.
Among the most resolute and ardent of the
votaries of chance, may be numbered the mortals whose
hope is to raise themselves by a wealthy match;
who lay out all their industry on the assiduities of
courtship, and sleep and wake with no other ideas
than of treats, compliments, guardians and rivals.
One of the most indefatigable of this class, is my
old friend Leviculus, whom I have never known for
thirty years without some matrimonial project of
advantage. Leviculus was bred under a merchant,
and by the graces of his person, the sprightliness of
his prattle, and the neatness of his dress, so much
enamoured his master's second daughter, a girl of
sixteen, that she declared her resolution to have no
other husband. Her father, after having chidden her
for undutifulness, consented to the match, not much
to the satisfaction of Leviculus, who was sufficiently
elated with his conquest to think himself entitled
to a larger fortune. He was, however, soon rid of
his perplexity, for his mistress died before their
He was now so well satisfied with his own
accomplishments, that he determined to commence
fortune-hunter; and when his apprenticeship
expired, instead of beginning, as was expected, to
walk the Exchange with a face of importance, or
associating himself with those who were most
eminent for their knowledge of the stocks, he at once
threw off the solemnity of the counting-house,
equipped himself with a modish wig, listened to
wits in coffee-houses, passed his evenings behind the
scenes in the theatres, learned the names of beauties
of quality, hummed the last stanzas of fashionable
songs, talked with familiarity of high play, boasted
of his achievements upon drawers and coachmen,
was often brought to his lodgings at midnight in a
chair, told with negligence and jocularity of bilking
a tailor, and now and then let fly a shrewd jest at a
sober citizen.
Thus furnished with irresistible artillery, he turned
his batteries upon the female world, and, in the first
warmth of self-approbation, proposed no less than
the possession of riches and beauty united. He
therefore paid his civilities to Flavilla, the only
daughter of a wealthy shopkeeper, who not being
accustomed to amorous blandishments, or respectful
addresses, was delighted with the novelty of love,
and easily suffered him to conduct her to the play,
and to meet her where she visited. Leviculus did
not doubt but her father, however offended by a
clandestine marriage, would soon be reconciled by
the tears of his daughter, and the merit of his sonin-
law, and was in haste to conclude the affair. But
the lady liked better to be courted than married,
and kept him three years in uncertainty and
attendance. At last she fell in love with a young ensign
at a ball, and having danced with him all night,
married him in the morning.
Leviculus, to avoid the ridicule of his companions,
took a journey to a small estate in the country,
where, after his usual inquiries concerning the
nymphs in the neighbourhood, he found it proper
to fall in love with Altilia, a maiden lady, twenty
years older than himself, for whose favour fifteen
nephews and nieces were in perpetual contention.
They hovered round her with such jealous officiousness,
as scarcely left a moment vacant for a lover.
Leviculus, nevertheless, discovered his passion in a
letter, and Altilia could not withstand the pleasure
of hearing vows and sighs, and flatteries and
protestations. She admitted his visits, enjoyed for five
years the happiness of keeping all her expectants in
perpetual alarms, and amused herself with the various
stratagems which were practised to disengage
her affections. Sometimes she was advised with
great earnestness to travel for her health, and
sometimes entreated to keep her brother's house. Many
stories were spread to the disadvantage of Leviculus,
by which she commonly seemed affected for a
time, but took care soon afterwards to express her
conviction of their falsehood. But being at last
satiated with this ludicrous tyranny, she told her
lover, when he pressed for the reward of his services,
that she was very sensible of his merit, but was
resolved not to impoverish an ancient family.
He then returned to the town, and soon after his
arrival, became acquainted with Latronia, a lady
distinguished by the elegance of her equipage, and
the regularity of her conduct. Her wealth was
evident in her magnificence, and her prudence in her
economy, and therefore Leviculus, who had scarcely
confidence to solicit her favour, readily acquitted
fortune of her former debts, when he found himself
distinguished by her with such marks of preference
as a woman of modesty is allowed to give. He now
grew bolder, and ventured to breathe out his
impatience before her. She heard him without
resentment, in time permitted him to hope for happiness,
and at last fixed the nuptial day, without any
distrustful reserve of pin-money, or sordid stipulations
for jointure, and settlements.
Leviculus was triumphing on the eve of marriage,
when he heard on the stairs the voice of Latronia's
maid, whom frequent bribes had secured in his
service. She soon burst into his room, and told him
that she could not suffer him to be longer deceived;
that her mistress was now spending the last payment
of her fortune, and was only supported in her
expense by the credit of his estate. Leviculus
shuddered to see himself so near a precipice, and found
that he was indebted for his escape to the resentment
of the maid, who having assisted Latronia to
gain the conquest, quarrelled with her at last about
the plunder.
Leviculus was now hopeless and disconsolate, till
one Sunday he saw a lady in the Mall, whom her
dress declared a widow, and whom, by the jolting
prance of her gait, and the broad resplendence of
her countenance, he guessed to have lately buried
some prosperous citizen. He followed her home, and
found her to be no less than the relict of Prune the
grocer, who, having no children, had bequeathed to
her all his debts and dues, and his estates real and
personal. No formality was necessary in addressing
madam Prune, and therefore Leviculus went next
morning without an introductor. His declaration
was received with a loud laugh; she then collected
her countenance, wondered at his impudence, asked
if he knew to whom he was talking, then shewed
him the door, and again laughed to find him
confused. Leviculus discovered that this coarseness was
nothing more than the coquetry of Cornhill, and
next day returned to the attack. He soon grew
familiar to her dialect, and in a few weeks heard,
without any emotion, hints of gay clothes with
empty pockets; concurred in many sage remarks
on the regard due to people of property, and agreed
with her in detestation of the ladies at the other
end of the town, who pinched their bellies to buy
fine laces, and then pretended to laugh at the city.
He sometimes presumed to mention marriage;
but was always answered with a slap, a hoot, and a
flounce. At last he began to press her closer, and
thought himself more favourably received; but going
one morning, with a resolution to trifle no
longer, he found her gone to church with a young
journeyman from the neighbouring shop, of whom
she had become enamoured at her window.
In these, and a thousand intermediate
adventures, has Leviculus spent his time, till he is now
grown grey with age, fatigue, and disappointment.
He begins at last to find that success is not to be
expected, and being unfit for any employment that
might improve his fortune, and unfurnished with
any arts that might amuse his leisure, is condemned
to wear out a tasteless life in narratives which few
will hear, and complaints which none will pity.
No. 183. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1751
Nulla fides regni sociis, omnisque potestas
Impatiens consortis erit. LUCAN, Lib. i. 92.
No faith of partnership dominion owns;
Still discord hovers o'er divided thrones.
THE hostility perpetually exercised between
one man and another, is caused by the desire
of many for that which only few can possess.
Every man would be rich, powerful, and famous;
yet fame, power, and riches are only the names of
relative conditions, which imply the obscurity,
dependance, and poverty of greater numbers.
This universal and incessant competition
produces injury and malice by two motives, interest
and envy; the prospect of adding to our possessions
what we can take from others, and the hope of
alleviating the sense of our disparity by lessening
others, though we gain nothing to ourselves.
Of these two malignant and destructive powers,
it seems probable at the first view, that interest has
the strongest and most extensive influence. It is
easy to conceive that opportunities to seize what
has been long wanted, may excite desires almost
irresistible; but surely the same eagerness cannot
be kindled by an accidental power of destroying
that which gives happiness to another. It must be
more natural to rob for gain, than to ravage only
for mischief.
Yet I am inclined to believe, that the great law
of mutual benevolence is oftener violated by envy
than by interest, and that most of the misery which
the defamation of blameless actions, or the obstruction
of honest endeavours, brings upon the world,
is inflicted by men that propose no advantage to
themselves but the satisfaction of poisoning the
banquet which they cannot taste, and blasting the
harvest which they have no right to reap.
Interest can diffuse itself but to a narrow
compass. The number is never large of those who can
hope to fill the posts of degraded power, catch the
fragments of shattered fortune, or succeed to the
honours of depreciated beauty. But the empire of
envy has no limits, as it requires to its influence
very little help from external circumstances. Envy
may always be produced by idleness and pride, and
in what place will they not be found?
Interest requires some qualities not universally
bestowed. The ruin of another will produce no
profit to him who has not discernment to mark his
advantage, courage to seize, and activity to pursue
it; but the cold malignity of envy may be exerted
in a torpid and quiescent state, amidst the gloom
of stupidity, in the coverts of cowardice. He that
falls by the attacks of interest, is torn by hungry
tigers; he may discover and resist his enemies. He
that perishes in the ambushes of envy, is destroyed
by unknown and invisible assailants, and dies like
a man suffocated by a poisonous vapour, without
knowledge of his danger, or possibility of
Interest is seldom pursued but at some hazard.
He that hopes to gain much, has commonly something
to lose, and when he ventures to attack superiority,
if he fails to conquer, is irrecoverably
crushed. But envy may act without expense or
danger. To spread suspicion, to invent calumnies,
to propagate scandal, requires neither labour nor
courage. It is easy for the author of a lie, however
malignant, to escape detection, and infamy needs
very little industry to assist its circulation.
Envy is almost the only vice which is practicable
at all times, and in every place; the only passion
which can never lie quiet for want of irritation: its
effects therefore are every where discoverable, and
its attempts always to be dreaded.
It is impossible to mention a name which any
advantageous distinction has made eminent, but
some latent animosity will burst out. The wealthy
trader, however he may abstract himself from
publick affairs, will never want those who hint, with
Shylock, that ships are but boards. The beauty,
adorned only with the unambitious graces of innocence
and modesty, provokes, whenever she appears,
a thousand murmurs of detraction. The genius,
even when he endeavours only to entertain or
instruct, yet suffers persecution from innumerable
criticks, whose acrimony is excited merely by the
pain of seeing others pleased, and of hearing
applauses which another enjoys.
The frequency of envy makes it so familiar, that
it escapes our notice; nor do we often reflect upon
its turpitude or malignity, till we happen to feel its
influence. When he that has given no provocation
to malice, but by attempting to excel, finds himself
pursued by multitudes whom he never saw, with
all the implacability of personal resentment; when
he perceives clamour and malice let loose upon him
as a publick enemy, and incited by every stratagem
of defamation; when he hears the misfortunes of
his family, or the follies of his youth, exposed to
the world; and every failure of conduct, or defect
of nature, aggravated and ridiculed; he then learns
to abhor those artifices at which he only laughed
before, and discovers how much the happiness of
life would be advanced by the eradication of envy
from the human heart.
Envy is, indeed, a stubborn weed of the mind,
and seldom yields to the culture of philosophy. There
are, however, considerations, which, if carefully
implanted and diligently propagated, might in time
overpower and repress it, since no one can nurse it
for the sake of pleasure, as its effects are only shame,
anguish, and perturbation.
It is above all other vices inconsistent with the
character of a social being, because it sacrifices truth
and kindness to very weak temptations. He that
plunders a wealthy neighbour gains as much as he
takes away, and may improve his own condition in
the same proportion as he impairs another's; but he
that blasts a flourishing reputation, must be content
with a small dividend of additional fame, so small
as can afford very little consolation to balance the
guilt by which it is obtained.
I have hitherto avoided that dangerous and
empirical morality, which cures one vice by means of
another. But envy is so base and detestable, so vile
in its original, and so pernicious in its effects, that
the predominance of almost any other quality is to
be preferred. It is one of those lawless enemies of
society, against which poisoned arrows may honestly
be used. Let it therefore be constantly remembered,
that whoever envies another, confesses his superiority,
and let those be reformed by their pride who
have lost their virtue.
It is no slight aggravation of the injuries which
envy incites, that they are committed against those
who have given no intentional provocation; and that
the sufferer is often marked out for ruin, not because
he has failed in any duty, but because he has dared
to do more than was required.
Almost every other crime is practised by the help
of some quality which might have produced esteem
or love, if it had been well employed; but envy is
mere unmixed and genuine evil; it pursues a hateful
end by despicable means, and desires not so much
its own happiness as another's misery. To avoid
depravity like this, it is not necessary that any one
should aspire to heroism or sanctity, but only that
he should resolve not to quit the rank which nature
assigns him, and wish to maintain the dignity of a
human being.
No. 184. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21, 1751
Permittes ipsis expendere numinibus, quid
Conveniat nobis, rebusque sit utile nostris.
JUV. Sat. x. 347.
Intrust thy fortune to the pow'rs above;
Leave them to manage for thee, and to grant
What their unerring wisdom sees thee want. DRYDEN.
AS every scheme of life, so every form of writing,
has its advantages and inconveniences, though
not mingled in the same proportions. The writer of
essays escapes many embarrassments to which a
large work would have exposed him; he seldom
harasses his reason with long trains of consequences,
dims his eyes with the perusal of antiquated volumes,
or burthens his memory with great accumulations
of preparatory knowledge. A careless glance upon
a favourite author, or transient survey of the
varieties of life, is sufficient to supply the first hint
or seminal idea, which, enlarged by the gradual
accretion of matter stored in the mind, is by the
warmth of fancy easily expanded into flowers, and
sometimes ripened into fruit.
The most frequent difficulty by which the authors
of these petty compositions are distressed, arises
from the perpetual demand of novelty and change.
The compiler of a system of science lays his invention
at rest, and employs only his judgment, the
faculty exerted with least fatigue. Even the relator
of feigned adventures, when once the principal
characters are established, and the great events
regularly connected, finds incidents and episodes
crowding upon his mind; every change opens new
views, and the latter part of the story grows
without labour out of the former. But he that attempts
to entertain his reader with unconnected pieces, finds
the irksomeness of his task rather increased than
lessened by every production. The day calls afresh
upon him for a new topick, and he is again obliged
to choose, without any principle to regulate his
It is indeed true, that there is seldom any
necessity of looking far, or inquiring long for a proper
subject. Every diversity of art or nature, every
publick blessing or calamity, every domestick pain or
gratification, every sally of caprice, blunder of
absurdity, or stratagem of affectation, may supply
matter to him whose only rule is to avoid uniformity.
But it often happens, that the judgment is distracted
with boundless multiplicity, the imagination
ranges from one design to another, and the hours
pass imperceptibly away, till the composition can
be no longer delayed, and necessity enforces the use
of those thoughts which then happen to be at hand.
The mind, rejoicing at deliverance on any terms from
perplexity and suspense, applies herself vigorously
to the work before her, collects embellishments and
illustrations, and sometimes finishes, with great
elegance and happiness, what in a state of ease and
leisure she never had begun.
It is not commonly observed, how much, even of
actions, considered as particularly subject to choice,
is to be attributed to accident, or some cause out of
our own power, by whatever name it be distinguished.
To close tedious deliberations with hasty
resolves, and after long consultations with reason to
refer the question to caprice, is by no means peculiar
to the essayist. Let him that peruses this paper
review the series of his life, and inquire how he was
placed in his present condition. He will find, that
of the good or ill which he has experienced, a great
part came unexpected, without any visible gradations
of approach; that every event has been influenced
by causes acting without his intervention;
and that whenever he pretended to the prerogative
of foresight, he was mortified with new conviction
of the shortness of his views.
The busy, the ambitious, the inconstant, and the
adventurous, may be said to throw themselves by
design into the arms of fortune, and voluntarily to
quit the power of governing themselves; they engage
in a course of life in which little can be ascertained
by previous measures; nor is it any wonder that
their time is passed between elation and despondency,
hope and disappointment.
Some there are who appear to walk the road of
life with more circumspection, and make no step
till they think themselves secure from the hazard of a
precipice, when neither pleasure nor profit can tempt
them from the beaten path; who refuse to climb
lest they should fall, or to run lest they should
stumble, and move slowly forward without any
compliance with those passions by which the heady and
vehement are seduced and betrayed.
Yet even the timorous prudence of this judicious
class is far from exempting them from the dominion
of chance, a subtle and insidious power, who
will intrude upon privacy and embarrass caution.
No course of life is so prescribed and limited, but
that many actions must result from arbitrary
election. Every one must form the general plan
of his conduct by his own reflections; he must
resolve whether he will endeavour at riches or at
content; whether he will exercise private or publick
virtues; whether he will labour for the general benefit
of mankind, or contract his beneficence to his
family and dependants.
This question has long exercised the schools of
philosophy, but remains yet undecided; and what
hope is there that a young man, unacquainted with
the arguments on either side, should determine his
own destiny otherwise than by chance?
When chance has given him a partner of his bed,
whom he prefers to all other women, without any
proof of superior desert, chance must again direct
him in the education of his children; for, who was
ever able to convince himself by arguments, that
he had chosen for his son that mode of instruction
to which his understanding was best adapted, or
by which he would most easily be made wise or
Whoever shall inquire by what motives he was
determined on these important occasions, will find
them such as his pride will scarcely suffer him to
confess; some sudden ardour of desire, some
uncertain glimpse of advantage, some petty
competition, some inaccurate conclusion, or some example
implicitly reverenced. Such are often the first causes
of our resolves; for it is necessary to act, but
impossible to know the consequences of action, or to
discuss all the reasons which offer themselves on
every part to inquisitiveness and solicitude.
Since life itself is uncertain, nothing which has
life for its basis can boast much stability. Yet this
is but a small part of our perplexity. We set out on
a tempestuous sea in quest of some port, where we
expect to find rest, but where we are not sure of
admission, we are not only in danger of sinking in
the way, but of being misled by meteors mistaken
for stars, of being driven from our course by the
changes of the wind, and of losing it by unskilful
steerage; yet it sometimes happens, that cross winds
blow us to a safer coast, that meteors draw us aside
from whirlpools, and that negligence or errour
contributes to our escape from mischiefs to which a
direct course would have exposed us. Of those that,
by precipitate conclusions, involve themselves in
calamities without guilt, very few, however they
may reproach themselves, can be certain that other
measures would have been more successful.
In this state of universal uncertainty, where a
thousand dangers hover about us, and none can tell
whether the good that he pursues is not evil in
disguise, or whether the next step will lead him to
safety or destruction, nothing can afford any
rational tranquillity, but the conviction that,
however we amuse ourselves with unideal sounds,
nothing in reality is governed by chance, but that
the universe is under the perpetual superintendance
of Him who created it; that our being is in the
hands of omnipotent Goodness, by whom what
appears casual to us, is directed for ends ultimately
kind and merciful; and that nothing can finally
hurt him who debars not himself from the Divine
No. 185. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 24, 1751
At vindicta bonum vita jucundius ipsa,
Nempe hoc indocti.------------
Chrysippus non dicet idem, nec mite Thaletis
Ingenium, dulcique senex vicinus Hymetto,
Qui partem adceptae saeva inter vincla Cicutoe
Adcusatori nollet dare.----
----------------Quippe minuti
Semper et infirmi est animi exiguique voluptas
Ultio. JUV. Sat. xiii. 180.
Thus think the crowd; who, eager to engage,
Take quickly fire, and kindle into rage.
Not so mild Thales nor Chrysippus thought,
Nor that good man, who drank the poisonous draught
With mind serene; and could not wish to see
His vile accuser drink as deep as he:
Exalted Socrates! divinely brave!
Injur'd he fell, and dying he forgave!
Too noble for revenge; which still we find
The weakest frailty of a feeble mind. DRYDEN
NO vicious dispositions of the mind more
obstinately resist both the counsels of philosophy
and the injunctions of religion, than those which
are complicated with an opinion of dignity; and
which we cannot dismiss without leaving in the
hands of opposition some advantage iniquitously
obtained, or suffering from our own prejudices some
imputation of pusillanimity.
For this reason scarcely any law of our Redeemer
is more openly transgressed, or more industriously
evaded, than that by which he commands his followers
to forgive injuries, and prohibits, under the
sanction of eternal misery, the gratification of the
desire which every man feels to return pain upon
him that inflicts it. Many who could have conquered
their anger, are unable to combat pride, and pursue
offences to extremity of vengeance, lest they should
be insulted by the triumph of an enemy.
But certainly no precept could better become
him, at whose birth PEACE was proclaimed TO THE EARTH.
For, what would so soon destroy all the order of
society, and deform life with violence and ravage, as
a permission to every one to judge his own cause,
and to apportion his own recompense for imagined
It is difficult for a man of the strictest justice not
to favour himself too much, in the calmest moments
of solitary meditation. Every one wishes for the
distinctions for which thousands are wishing at the
same time, in their own opinion, with better claims.
He that, when his reason operates in its full force,
can thus, by the mere prevalence of self-love,
prefer himself to his fellow-beings, is very unlikely to
judge equitably when his passions are agitated by
a sense of wrong, and his attention wholly engrossed
by pain, interest, or danger. Whoever arrogates to
himself the right of vengeance, shews how little he
is qualified to decide his own claims, since he
certainly demands what he would think unfit to be
granted to another.
Nothing is more apparent than that, however
injured, or however provoked, some must at last be
contented to forgive. For it can never be hoped,
that he who first commits an injury, will contentedly
acquiesce in the penalty required: the same
haughtiness of contempt, or vehemence of desire,
that prompt the act of injustice, will more strongly
incite its justification; and resentment can never so
exactly balance the punishment with the fault, but
there will remain an overplus of vengeance which
even he who condemns his first action will think
himself entitled to retaliate. What then can ensue
but a continual exacerbation of hatred, an
unextinguishable feud, an incessant reciprocation of
mischief, a mutual vigilance to entrap, and eagerness to
Since then the imaginary right of vengeance must
be at last remitted, because it is impossible to live
in perpetual hostility, and equally impossible that
of two enemies, either should first think himself
obliged by justice to submission, it is surely eligible
to forgive early. Every passion is more easily
subdued before it has been long accustomed to possession
of the heart; every idea is obliterated with less
difficulty, as it has been more slightly impressed,
and less frequently renewed. He who has often
brooded over his wrongs, pleased himself with
schemes of malignity, and glutted his pride with
the fancied supplications of humbled enmity, will
not easily open his bosom to amity and reconciliation,
or indulge the gentle sentiments of benevolence and peace.
It is easiest to forgive, while there is yet little to
be forgiven. A single injury may be soon dismissed
from the memory; but a long succession of ill offices
by degrees associates itself with every idea; a
long contest involves so many circumstances, that
every place and action will recall it to the mind,
and fresh remembrance of vexation must still enkindle
rage, and irritate revenge.
A wise man will make haste to forgive, because
he knows the true value of time, and will not suffer
it to pass away in unnecessary pain. He that
willingly suffers the corrosions of inveterate hatred, and
gives up his days and nights to the gloom of malice,
and perturbations of stratagem, cannot surely be
said to consult his ease. Resentment is an union of
sorrow with malignity, a combination of a passion
which all endeavour to avoid, with a passion which
all concur to detest. The man who retires to
meditate mischief, and to exasperate his own rage; whose
thoughts are employed only on means of distress
and contrivances of ruin; whose mind never pauses
from the remembrance of his own sufferings, but to
indulge some hope of enjoying the calamities of
another, may justly be numbered among the most
miserable of human beings, among those who are
guilty without reward, who have neither the gladness
of prosperity, nor the calm of innocence.
Whoever considers the weakness both of himself
and others, will not long want persuasives to
forgiveness. We know not to what degree of malignity
any injury is to be imputed; or how much its guilt,
if we were to inspect the mind of him that committed
it, would be extenuated by mistake, precipitance,
or negligence; we cannot be certain how
much more we feel than was intended to be inflicted,
or how much we increase the mischief to ourselves
by voluntary aggravations. We may charge to design
the effects of accident; we may think the blow
violent only because we have made ourselves delicate
and tender; we are on every side in danger of errour
and of guilt; which we are certain to avoid only by
speedy forgiveness.
From this pacifick and harmless temper, thus
propitious to others and ourselves, to domestick
tranquillity and to social happiness, no man is
withheld but by pride, by the fear of being insulted
by his adversary, or despised by the world.
It may be laid down as an unfailing and universal
axiom, that "all pride is abject and mean." It is
always an ignorant, lazy, or cowardly acquiescence
in a false appearance of excellence, and proceeds
not from consciousness of our attainments, but
insensibility of our wants.
Nothing can be great which is not right. Nothing
which reason condemns can be suitable to the dignity
of the human mind. To be driven by external
motives from the path which our own heart approves,
to give way to any thing but conviction, to
suffer the opinion of others to rule our choice, or
overpower our resolves, is to submit tamely to the
lowest and most ignominious slavery, and to resign
the right of directing our own lives.
The utmost excellence at which humanity can
arrive, is a constant and determinate pursuit of
virtue, without regard to present dangers or
advantage; a continual reference of every action to
the divine will; an habitual appeal to everlasting
justice; and an unvaried elevation of the
intellectual eye to the reward which perseverance only can
obtain. But that pride which many, who presume
to boast of generous sentiments, allow to regulate
their measures, has nothing nobler in view than the
approbation of men, of beings whose superiority
we are under no obligation to acknowledge, and
who, when we have courted them with the utmost
assiduity, can confer no valuable or permanent
reward; of beings who ignorantly judge of what
they do not understand, or partially determine
what they never have examined; and whose sentence
is therefore of no weight till it has received
the ratification of our own conscience.
He that can descend to bribe suffrages like these,
at the price of his innocence: he that can suffer the
delight of such acclamations to withhold his attention
from the commands of the universal Sovereign,
has little reason to congratulate himself upon the
greatness of his mind; whenever he awakes to
seriousness and reflection, he must become despicable
in his own eyes, and shrink with shame from
the remembrance of his cowardice and folly.
Of him that hopes to be forgiven, it is
indispensably required that he forgive. It is therefore
superfluous to urge any other motive. On this great
duty eternity is suspended, and to him that refuses
to practise it, the Throne of mercy is inaccessible,
and the Saviour of the world has been born in vain.
No. 186. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28, 1751
Pone me, pigris ubi nulla campis
Arbor aestiva recreatur aura----
Dulce ridentem Lagagen amabo
Dulce loquentem. HOR. Lib. i. Ode xxii. 17.
Place me where never summer breeze
Unbinds the glebe, or warms the trees;
Where ever lowering clouds appear,
And angry Jove deforms th' inclement year:
Love and the nymph shall charm my toils,
The nymph, who sweetly speaks and sweetly smiles.
OF the happiness and misery of our present state,
part arises from our sensations, and part from
our opinions; part is distributed by nature, and part
is in a great measure apportioned by ourselves.
Positive pleasure we cannot always obtain, and positive
pain we often cannot remove. No man can give
to his own plantations the fragrance of the Indian
groves; nor will any precepts of philosophy enable
him to withdraw his attention from wounds or
diseases. But the negative infelicity which proceeds,
not from the pressure of sufferings, but the absence
of enjoyments, will always yield to the remedies
of reason.
One of the great arts of escaping superfluous
uneasiness, is to free our minds from the habit of
comparing our condition with that of others on whom
the blessings of life are more bountifully bestowed,
or with imaginary states of delight and security,
perhaps unattainable by mortals. Few are placed in
a situation so gloomy and distressful, as not to see
every day beings yet more forlorn and miserable,
from whom they may learn to rejoice in their own lot.
No inconvenience is less superable by art or
diligence than the inclemency of climates, and therefore
none affords more proper exercise for this philosophical
abstraction. A native of England, pinched
with the frosts of December, may lessen his affection
for his own country by suffering his imagination
to wander in the vales of Asia, and sport among
the woods that are always green, and streams that
always murmur; but if he turns his thought towards
the polar regions, and considers the nations to whom
a great portion of the year is darkness, and who
are condemned to pass weeks and months amidst
mountains of snow, he will soon recover his
tranquillity, and, while he stirs his fire, or throws his
cloak about him, reflect how much he owes to Providence,
that he is not placed in Greenland or Siberia.
The barrenness of the earth and the severity of
the skies in these dreary countries, are such as
might be expected to confine the mind wholly to the
contemplation of necessity and distress, so that the
care of escaping death from cold and hunger, should
leave no room for those passions which, in lands of
plenty, influence conduct, or diversify characters;
the summer should be spent only in providing for
the winter, and the winter in longing for the summer.
Yet learned curiosity is known to have found its
way into these abodes of poverty and gloom: Lapland
and Iceland have their historians, their criticks,
and their poets; and love, that extends his dominion
wherever humanity can be found, perhaps exerts
the same power in the Greenlander's hut as in the
palaces of eastern monarchs.
In one of the large caves to which the families of
Greenland retire together, to pass the cold months,
and which may be termed their villages or cities, a
youth and maid, who came from different parts of
the country, were so much distinguished for their
beauty, that they were called by the rest of the
inhabitants Anningait and Ajut, from a supposed
resemblance to their ancestors of the same names, who
had been transformed of old into the sun and moon.
Anningait for some time heard the praises of Ajut
with little emotion, but at last, by frequent
interviews, became sensible of her charms, and first made
a discovery of his affection, by inviting her with her
parents to a feast, where he placed before Ajut the
tail of a whale. Ajut seemed not much delighted by
this gallantry; yet, however, from that time was
observed rarely to appear, but in a vest made of
the skin of a white deer; she used frequently to
renew the black dye upon her hands and forehead,
to adorn her sleeves with coral and shells, and to
braid her hair with great exactness.
The elegance of her dress, and the judicious
disposition of her ornaments, had such an effect upon
Anningait, that he could no longer be restrained
from a declaration of his love. He therefore
composed a poem in her praise, in which, among other
heroick and tender sentiments, he protested, that
"she was beautiful as the vernal willow, and
fragrant as the thyme upon the mountains; that her
fingers were white as the teeth of the morse, and
her smile grateful as the dissolution of the ice; that
he would pursue her, though she should pass the
snows of the midland cliffs, or seek shelter in the
caves of the eastern cannibals: that he would tear
her from the embraces of the genius of the rocks,
snatch her from the paws of Amarock, and rescue
her from the ravine of Hafgufa." He concluded
with a wish, that "whoever shall attempt to hinder
his union with Ajut, might be buried without his
bow, and that, in the land of souls, his skull might
serve for no other use than to catch the droppings
of the starry lamps."
This ode being universally applauded, it was
expected that Ajut would soon yield to such fervour
and accomplishments; but Ajut, with the natural
haughtiness of beauty, expected all the forms of
courtship; and before she would confess herself
conquered, the sun returned, the ice broke, and the
season of labour called all to their employments.
Anningait and Ajut for a time always went out
in the same boat, and divided whatever was caught.
Anningait, in the sight of his mistress, lost no
opportunity of signalizing his courage: he attacked
the sea-horses on the ice; pursued the seals into the
water, and leaped upon the back of the whale, while
he was yet struggling with the remains of life. Nor
was his diligence less to accumulate all that could
be necessary to make winter comfortable: he dried
the roe of fishes and the flesh of seals; he entrapped
deer and foxes, and dressed their skins to adorn his
bride; he feasted her with eggs from the rocks, and
strewed her tent with flowers.
It happened that a tempest drove the fish to a
distant part of the coast, before Anningait had
completed his store; he therefore entreated Ajut,
that she would at last grant him her hand, and
accompany him to that part of the country whither
he was now summoned by necessity. Ajut thought
him not yet entitled to such condescension, but
proposed, as a trial of his constancy, that he should
return at the end of summer to the cavern where
their acquaintance commenced, and there expect
the reward of his assiduities. "O virgin, beautiful
as the sun shining on the water, consider,"
said Anningait, "what thou hast required. How
easily may my return be precluded by a sudden
frost or unexpected fogs! then must the night
be passed without my Ajut. We live not, my fair,
in those fabled countries, which lying strangers so
wantonly describe; where the whole year is divided
into short days and nights; where the same
habitation serves for summer and winter; where they
raise houses in rows above the ground, dwell
together from year to year, with flocks of tame
animals grazing in the fields about them; can travel at
any time from one place to another, through ways
inclosed with trees, or over walls raised upon the
inland waters; and direct their course through wide
countries by the sight of green hills or scattered
buildings. Even in summer we have no means of
crossing the mountains, whose snows are never
dissolved; nor can remove to any distant residence,
but in our boats coasting the bays. Consider, Ajut,
a few summer-days, and a few winter-nights, and
the life of man is at an end. Night is the time of
ease and festivity, of revels and gaiety; but what
will be the flaming lamp, the delicious seal, or the
soft oil, without the smile of Ajut?"
The eloquence of Anningait was vain; the maid
continued inexorable, and they parted with ardent
promises to meet again before the night of winter.
No. 187. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 1751
Non illuwm nostri possunt mutare labores;
Non si frigoribus mediis Hebrumque bibamus,
Sithoniasque nives hyemis subeamus aquosae:----
Omnia vincit amor. VIRG. Ec. x. 64.
Love alters not for us his hard decrees,
Not though beneath the Thracian clime we freeze,
Or the mild bliss of temperate skies forego,
And in mid winter tread Sithonian snow:----
Love conquers all.----
ANNINGAIT, however discomposed by the
dilatory coyness of Ajut, was yet resolved to
omit no tokens of amorous respect; and therefore
presented her at his departure with the skins of
seven white fawns, of five swans and eleven seals,
with three marble lamps, ten vessels of seal oil, and
a large kettle of brass, which he had purchased from
a ship, at the price of half a whale, and two horns
of sea-unicorns.
Ajut was so much affected by the fondness of
her lover, or so much overpowered by his magnificence,
that she followed him to the sea-side; and,
when she saw him enter the boat, wished aloud,
that he might return with plenty of skins and oil;
that neither the mermaids might snatch him into
the deeps, nor the spirits of the rocks confine him
in their caverns.
She stood a while to gaze upon the departing
vessel, and then returning to her hut, silent and
dejected, laid aside, from that hour, her white deer
skin, suffered her hair to spread unbraided on her
shoulders, and forbore to mix in the dances of the
maidens. She endeavoured to divert her thoughts,
by continual application to feminine employments,
gathered moss for the winter lamps, and dried
grass to line the boots of Anningait. Of the skins
which he had bestowed upon her, she made a fishingcoat,
a small boat, and tent, all of exquisite
manufacture; and while she was thus busied, solaced
her labours with a song, in which she prayed, "that
her lover might have hands stronger than the paws
of the bear, and feet swifter than the feet of reindeer;
that his dart might never err, and that his boat might
never leak; that he might never stumble on the ice,
nor faint in the water; that the seal might rush on
his harpoon, and the wounded whale might dash
the waves in vain."
The large boats in which the Greenlanders
transport their families, are always rowed by women;
for a man will not debase himself by work, which
requires neither skill nor courage. Anningait was
therefore exposed by idleness to the ravages of
passion. He went thrice to the stern of the boat, with
an intent to leap into the water, and swim back to
his mistress; but, recollecting the misery which they
must endure in the winter, without oil for the lamp,
or skins for the bed, he resolved to employ the
weeks of absence in provision for a night of plenty
and felicity. He then composed his emotions as he
could, and expressed, in wild numbers and uncouth
images, his hopes, his sorrows, and his fears. "O
life!" says he, "frail and uncertain! where shall
wretched man find thy resemblance, but in ice
floating on the ocean? It towers on high, It sparkles
from afar, while the storms drive and the waters
beat it, the sun melts it above, and the rocks shatter
it below. What art thou, deceitful pleasure! but a
sudden blaze streaming from the north, which plays
a moment on the eye, mocks the traveller with the
hopes of light, and then vanishes for ever? What,
love, art thou but a whirlpool, which we approach
without knowledge of our danger, drawn on by
imperceptible degrees, till we have lost all power of
resistance and escape? Till I fixed my eyes on the
graces of Ajut, while I had not yet called her to
the banquet, I was careless as the sleeping morse,
was merry as the singers in the stars. Why, Ajut,
did I gaze upon thy graces? why, my fair, did I call
thee to the banquet? Yet, be faithful, my love,
remember Anningait, and meet my return with the
smile of virginity. I will chase the deer, I will subdue
the whale, resistless as the frost of darkness, and unwearied
as the summer sun. In a few weeks I shall
return prosperous and wealthy; then shall the roefish
and the porpoise feast thy kindred; the fox and
hare shall cover thy couch; the tough hide of the
seal shall shelter thee from cold; and the fat of the
whale illuminate thy dwelling."
Anningait having with these sentiments consoled
his grief, and animated his industry, found that they
had now coasted the headland, and saw the whales
spouting at a distance. He therefore placed himself
in his fishing-boat, called his associates to their
several employments, plied his oar and harpoon with
incredible courage and dexterity; and, by dividing
his time between the chace and fishery, suspended
the miseries of absence and suspicion.
Ajut, in the mean time, notwithstanding her
neglected dress, happened, as she was drying some
skins in the sun, to catch the eye of Norngsuk, on
his return from hunting. Norngsuk was of birth
truly illustrious. His mother had died in child-birth,
and his father, the most expert fisher of Greenland,
had perished by too close pursuit of the whale. His
dignity was equalled by his riches; he was master
of four men's and two women's boats, had ninety
tubs of oil in his winter habitation, and five-andtwenty
seals buried in the snow against the season
of darkness. When he saw the beauty of Ajut, he
immediately threw over her the skin of a deer that
he had taken, and soon after presented her with a
branch of coral. Ajut refused his gifts, and determined
to admit no lover in the place of Anningait.
Norngsuk, thus rejected, had recourse to stratagem.
He knew that Ajut would consult an Angekkok,
or diviner, concerning the fate of her lover,
and the felicity of her future life. He therefore
applied himself to the most celebrated Angekkok
of that part of the country, and, by a present of
two seals and a marble kettle, obtained a promise,
that when Ajut should consult him, he would declare
that her lover was in the land of souls. Ajut,
in a short time, brought him a coat made by herself,
and inquired what events were to befall her,
with assurances of a much larger reward at the
return of Anningait, if the prediction should flatter
her desires. The Angekkok knew the way to riches,
and foretold that Anningait, having already caught
two whales, would soon return home with a large
boat laden with provisions.
This prognostication she was ordered to keep
secret; and Norngsuk depending upon his artifice,
renewed his addresses with greater confidence; but
finding his suit still unsuccessful, applied himself to
her parents with gifts and promises. The wealth of
Greenland is too powerful for the virtue of a
Greenlander; they forgot the merit and the presents of
Anningait, and decreed Ajut to the embraces of
Norngsuk. She entreated; she remonstrated; she
wept, and raved; but finding riches irresistible, fled
away into the uplands, and lived in a cave upon
such berries as she could gather, and the birds or
hares which she had the fortune to ensnare, taking
care, at an hour when she was not likely to be
found, to view the sea every day, that her lover
might not miss her at his return.
At last she saw the great boat in which Anningait
had departed, stealing slow and heavy laden
along the coast. She ran with all the impatience of
affection to catch her lover in her arms, and relate
her constancy and sufferings. When the company
reached the land, they informed her that Anningait,
after the fishery was ended, being unable to
support the slow passage of the vessel of carriage,
had set out before them in his fishing-boat, and
they expected at their arrival to have found him
on shore.
Ajut, distracted at this intelligence, was about to
fly into the hills, without knowing why, though
she was now in the hands of her parents, who forced
her back to their own hut, and endeavoured to
comfort her; but when at last they retired to rest,
Ajut went down to the beach; where, finding a
fishing-boat, she entered it without hesitation, and
telling those who wondered at her rashness, that
she was going in search of Anningait, rowed away
with great swiftness, and was seen no more.
The fate of these lovers gave occasion to various
fictions and conjectures. Some are of opinion, that
they were changed into stars; others imagine, that
Anningait was seized in his passage by the genius
of the rocks, and that Ajut was transformed into a
mermaid, and still continues to seek her lover in
the deserts of the sea. But the general persuasion
is, that they are both in that part of the land of
souls where the sun never sets, where oil is always
fresh, and provisions always warm. The virgins
sometimes throw a thimble and a needle into the
bay, from which the hapless maid departed; and
when a Greenlander would praise any couple for
virtuous affection, he declares that they love like
Anningait and Ajut.
No. 188. SATURDAY, JANUARY 4, 1751
----Si te colo, Sexte, non amabo.
MART. Lib. ii. Ep. iv. 33.
The more I honour thee, the less I love.
ONE of the desires dictated by vanity is more
general, or less blamable, than that of being
distinguished for the arts of conversation. Other
accomplishments may be possessed without opportunity
of exerting them, or wanted without danger
that the defect can often be remarked; but as no
man can live, otherwise than in an hermitage,
without hourly pleasure or vexation, from the fondness
or neglect of those about him, the faculty of giving
pleasure is of continual use. Few are more
frequently envied than those who have the power of
forcing attention wherever they come, whose entrance
is considered as a promise of felicity, and
whose departure is lamented, like the recess of the
sun from northern climates, as a privation of all
that enlivens fancy, or inspirits gaiety.
It is apparent, that to excellence in this valuable
art, some peculiar qualifications are necessary; for
every one's experience will inform him, that the
pleasure which men are able to give in conversation,
holds no stated proportion to their knowledge
or their virtue. Many find their way to the tables
and the parties of those who never consider them as
of the least importance in any other place; we have
all, at one time or other, been content to love those
whom we could not esteem, and been persuaded
to try the dangerous experiment of admitting him
for a companion, whom we knew to be too ignorant
for a counsellor, and too treacherous for a friend.
I question whether some abatement of character
is not necessary to general acceptance. Few spend
their time with much satisfaction under the eye of
uncontestable superiority; and therefore, among
those whose presence is courted at assemblies of
jollity, there are seldom found men eminently
distinguished for powers or acquisitions. The wit whose
vivacity condemns slower tongues to silence, the
scholar whose knowledge allows no man to fancy
that he instructs him, the critick who suffers no
fallacy to pass undetected, and the reasoner who
condemns the idle to thought, and the negligent
to attention, are generally praised and feared,
reverenced and avoided.
He that would please must rarely aim at such
excellence as depresses his hearers in their own
opinion, or debars them from the hope of contributing
reciprocally to the entertainment of the company.
Merriment, extorted by sallies of imagination,
sprightliness of remark, or quickness of reply, is too
often what the Latins call, the Sardinian laughter,
a distortion of the face without gladness of heart.
For this reason, no style of conversation is more
extensively acceptable than the narrative. He who
has stored his memory with slight anecdotes, private
incidents, and personal peculiarities, seldom
fails to find his audience favourable. Almost every
man listens with eagerness to contemporary history;
for almost every man has some real or imaginary
connexion with a celebrated character, some desire
to advance or oppose a rising name. Vanity often
co-operates with curiosity. He that is a hearer in
one place, qualifies himself to become a speaker in
another; for though he cannot comprehend a series
of argument, or transport the volatile spirit of wit
without evaporation, he yet thinks himself able to
treasure up the various incidents of a story, and
please his hopes with the information which he shall
give to some inferior society.
Narratives are for the most part heard without
envy, because they are not supposed to imply any
intellectual qualities above the common rate. To be
acquainted with facts not yet echoed by plebeian
mouths, may happen to one man as well as to
another; and to relate them when they are known,
has in appearance so little difficulty, that every one
concludes himself equal to the task.
But it is not easy, and in some situations of life
not possible, to accumulate such a stock of
materials as may support the expense of continual
narration; and it frequently happens, that they who
attempt this method of ingratiating themselves,
please only at the first interview; and, for want of
new supplies of intelligence, wear out their stories
by continual repetition.
There would be, therefore, little hope of
obtaining the praise of a good companion, were it not
to be gained by more compendious methods; but
such is the kindness of mankind to all, except
those who aspire to real merit and rational dignity,
that every understanding may find some way to
excite benevolence; and whoever is not envied may
learn the art of procuring love. We are willing to be
pleased, but are not willing to admire: we favour the
mirth or officiousness that solicits our regard, but
oppose the worth or spirit that enforces it.
The first place among those that please, because
they desire only to please, is due to the MERRY FELLOW,
whose laugh is loud, and whose voice is strong; who
is ready to echo every jest with obstreperous approbation,
and countenance every frolick with vociferations
of applause. It is not necessary to a merry
fellow to have in himself any fund of jocularity, or
force of conception; it is sufficient that he always
appears in the highest exaltation of gladness, for
the greater part of mankind are gay or serious by
infection, and follow without resistance the attraction
of example.
Next to the merry fellow is the GOOD-NATURED
MAN, a being generally without benevolence, or any
other virtue, than such as indolence and insensibility
confer. The characteristick of a good-natured
man is to bear a joke; to sit unmoved and unaffected
amidst noise and turbulence, profaneness and
obscenity; to hear every tale without contradiction;
to endure insult without reply; and to follow the
stream of folly, whatever course it shall happen to
take. The good-natured man is commonly the darling
of the petty wits, with whom they exercise
themselves in the rudiments of raillery; for he never
takes advantage of failings, nor disconcerts a puny
satirist with unexpected sarcasms; but while the
glass continues to circulate, contentedly bears the
expense of an uninterrupted laughter, and retires
rejoicing at his own importance.
The MODEST MAN is a companion of a yet lower
rank, whose only power of giving pleasure is not to
interrupt it. The modest man satisfies himself with
peaceful silence, which all his companions are candid
enough to consider as proceeding not from inability
to speak, but willingness to hear.
Many, without being able to attain any general
character of excellence, have some single art of
entertainment which serves them as a passport through
the world. One I have known for fifteen years the
darling of a weekly club, because every night,
precisely at eleven, he begins his favourite song, and
during the vocal performance, by corresponding
motions of his hand, chalks out a giant upon the
wall. Another has endeared himself to a long
succession of acquaintances by sitting among them
with his wig reversed; another by contriving to smut
the nose of any stranger who was to be initiated in
the club; another by purring like a cat, and then
pretending to be frighted; and another by yelping
like a hound, and calling to the drawers to drive out
the dog[b].
[b] Mrs. Piozzi, in her Anecdotes, informs us, that the man who
sung, and, by corresponding motions of his arm, chalked out a
giant on the wall, was one Richardson, an attorney: the ingenious
imitator of a cat, was one Busby, a proctor in the Commons: and
the father of Dr. Salter, of the Charter-House, a friend of
Johnson's, and a member of the Ivy-Lane Club, was the person who
yelped like a hound, and perplexed the distracted waiters.--Mr.
Chalmers, in his preface to the Rambler observes, that the
above-quoted lively writer was the only authority for these
assignments. She is certainly far too hasty and negligent to be
relied on, when unsupported by other testimony.--See Preface.
Such are the arts by which cheerfulness is
promoted, and sometimes friendship established; arts,
which those who despise them should not rigorously
blame, except when they are practised at the
expense of innocence; for it is always necessary to
be loved, but not always necessary to be reverenced.
No. 189. TUESDAY, JANUARY 7, 1752
Quod tam grande Sophos clamat tibi turba togata;
Non tu, Pomponi; caena diserta tua est.
MART. Lib. vi. Ep. xlviii.
Resounding plaudits though the crowd have rung
Thy treat is eloquent, and not thy tongue. F. Lewis.
THE world scarcely affords opportunities of
making any observation more frequently, than on
false claims to commendation. Almost every man
wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities
which he does not possess, and to gain applause
which he cannot keep; so that scarcely can two persons
casually meet, but one is offended or diverted
by the ostentation of the other,
Of these pretenders it is fit to distinguish those
who endeavour to deceive from them who are deceived;
those who by designed impostures promote
their interest, or gratify their pride, from them who
mean only to force into regard their latent excellencies
and neglected virtues; who believe themselves
qualified to instruct or please, and therefore invite
the notice of mankind.
The artful and fraudulent usurpers of distinction
deserve greater severities than ridicule and contempt,
since they are seldom content with empty
praise, but are instigated by passions more pernicious
than vanity. They consider the reputation which
they endeavour to establish as necessary to the
accomplishment of some subsequent design, and value
praise only as it may conduce to the success of avarice
or ambition.
The commercial world is very frequently put into
confusion by the bankruptcy of merchants, that
assumed the splendour of wealth only to obtain the
privilege of trading with the stock of other men, and
of contracting debts which nothing but lucky casualties
could enable them to pay; till after having
supported their appearance a while by tumultuous
magnifience of boundless traffick, they sink at once,
and drag down into poverty those whom their equipages
had induced to trust them.
Among wretches that place their happiness in the
favour of the great, of beings whom only high titles
or large estates set above themselves, nothing is
more common than to boast of confidence which they
do not enjoy; to sell promises which they know their
interest unable to perform; and to reimburse the
tribute which they pay to an imperious master, from
the contributions of meaner dependants, whom they
can amuse with tales of their influence, and hopes
of their solicitation.
Even among some, too thoughtless and volatile
for avarice or ambition, may be found a species of
falsehood more detestable than the levee or exchange
can shew. There are men that boast of debaucheries,
of which they never had address to be guilty; ruin,
by lewd tales, the characters of women to whom
they are scarcely known, or by whom they have
been rejected; destroy in a drunken frolick the
happiness of families; blast the bloom of beauty, and
intercept the reward of virtue.
Other artifices of falsehood, though utterly
unworthy of an ingenuous mind, are not yet to be
ranked with flagitious enormities, nor is it necessary
to incite sanguinary justice against them, since they
may be adequately punished by detection and laughter.
The traveller who describes cities which he has
never seen; the squire, who, at his return from
London, tells of his intimacy with nobles to whom he
has only bowed in the park or coffee-house; the
author who entertains his admirers with stories of the
assistance which he gives to wits of a higher rank;
the city dame who talks of her visits at great houses,
where she happens to know the cook-maid, are
surely such harmless animals as truth herself may
be content to despise without desiring to hurt them.
But of the multitudes who struggle in vain for
distinction, and display their own merits only to
feel more acutely the sting of neglect, a great part
are wholly innocent of deceit, and are betrayed, by
infatuation and credulity, to that scorn with which
the universal love of praise incites us all to drive
feeble competitors out of our way.
Few men survey themselves with so much severity,
as not to admit prejudices in their own favour,
which an artful flatterer may gradually strengthen,
till wishes for a particular qualification are improved
to hopes of attainment, and hopes of attainment to
belief of possession. Such flatterers every one will
find, who has power to reward their assiduities.
Wherever there is wealth there will be dependance
and expectation, and wherever there is dependance,
there will be an emulation of servility.
Many of the follies which provoke general
censure, are the effects of such vanity as, however it
might have wantoned in the imagination, would
scarcely have dared the publick eye, had it not been
animated and emboldened by flattery. Whatever
difficulty there may be in the knowledge of
ourselves, scarcely any one fails to suspect his own
imperfections, till he is elevated by others to
confidence. We are almost all naturally modest and
timorous; but fear and shame are uneasy sensations,
and whosoever helps to remove them is received
with kindness.
Turpicula was the heiress of a large estate, and
having lost her mother in infancy, was committed
to a governess, whom misfortunes had reduced to
suppleness and humility. The fondness of Turpicula's
father would not suffer him to trust her at a
publick school, but he hired domestick teachers,
and bestowed on her all the accomplishments that
wealth could purchase. But how many things are
necessary to happiness which money cannot obtain!
Thus secluded from all with whom she might converse
on terms of equality, she heard none of those
intimations of her defects, which envy, petulance,
or anger, produce among children, where they are
not afraid of telling what they think.
Turpicula saw nothing but obsequiousness, and
heard nothing but commendations. None are so
little acquainted with the heart, as not to know that
woman's first wish is to be handsome, and that
consequently the readiest method of obtaining her
kindness is to praise her beauty. Turpicula had a distorted
shape and a dark complexion; yet, when the impudence
of adulation had ventured to tell her of the
commanding dignity of her motion, and the soft
enchantment of her smile, she was easily convinced,
that she was the delight or torment of every eye,
and that all who gazed upon her felt the fire of
envy or love. She therefore neglected the culture
of an understanding which might have supplied the
defects of her form, and applied all her care to the
decoration of her person; for she considered that
more could judge of beauty than of wit, and was,
like the rest of human beings, in haste to be admired.
The desire of conquest naturally led her to
the lists in which beauty signalizes her power. She
glittered at court, fluttered in the park, and talked
aloud in the front box; but after a thousand experiments
of her charms, was at last convinced that she
had been flattered, and that her glass was honester
than her maid.
No. 190. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 11, 1752
Ploravere suis non respondere favorem
Speratum meritis.---- HOR. Lib. ii. Ep. i. 9.
Henry and Alfred----
Clos'd their long glories with a sigh, to find
Th' unwilling gratitude of base mankind. POPE.
AMONG the emirs and visiers, the sons of valour
and of wisdom, that stand at the corners
of the Indian throne, to assist the counsels or
conduct the wars of the posterity of Timur, the
first place was long held by Morad the son of
Hanuth. Morad, having signalized himself in many
battles and sieges, was rewarded with the government
of a province, from which the fame of his
wisdom and moderation was wafted to the pinnacles
of Agra, by the prayers of those whom his
administration made happy. The emperour called
him into his presence, and gave into his hand the
keys of riches, and the sabre of command. The
voice of Morad was heard from the cliffs of Taurus
to the Indian ocean, every tongue faltered in his
presence, and every eye was cast down before him.
Morad lived many years in prosperity; every
day increased his wealth, and extended his influence.
The sages repeated his maxims, the captains
of thousands waited his commands. Competition
withdrew into the cavern of envy, and discontent
trembled at his own murmurs. But human greatness
is short and transitory, as the odour of incense
in the fire. The sun grew weary of gilding the
palaces of Morad, the clouds of sorrow gathered
round his head, and the tempest of hatred roared
about his dwelling.
Morad saw ruin hastily approaching. The first
that forsook him were his poets; their example was
followed by all those whom he had rewarded for
contributing to his pleasures, and only a few, whose
virtue had entitled them to favour, were now to be seen
in his hall or chambers. He felt his danger, and
prostrated himself at the foot of the throne. His
accusers were confident and loud, his friends stood
contented with frigid neutrality, and the voice of truth
was overborne by clamour. He was divested of his
power, deprived of his acquisitions, and condemned
to pass the rest of his life on his hereditary estate.
Morad had been so long accustomed to crowds and
business, supplicants and flattery, that he knew not
how to fill up his hours in solitude; he saw with
regret the sun rise to force on his eye a new day for
which he had no use; and envied the savage that
wanders in the desert, because he has no time vacant
from the calls of nature, but is always chasing his
prey, or sleeping in his den.
His discontent in time vitiated his constitution,
and a slow disease siezed upon him. He refused
physick, neglected exercise, and lay down on his
couch peevish and restless, rather afraid to die than
desirous to live. His domesticks, for a time,
redoubled their assiduities; but finding that no
officiousness could soothe, nor exactness satisfy, they
soon gave way to negligence and sloth; and he that
once commanded nations, often languished in his
chamber without an attendant.
In this melancholy state, he commanded
messengers to recall his eldest son Abouzaid from the
army. Abouzaid was alarmed at the account of his
father's sickness, and hasted by long journeys to his
place of residence. Morad was yet living, and felt
his strength return at the embraces of his son; then
commanding him to sit down at his bedside, "Abouzaid,"
says he, "thy father has no more to hope or
fear from the inhabitants of the earth; the cold hand
of the angel of death is now upon him, and the
voracious grave is howling for his prey. Hear,
therefore, the precepts of ancient experience, let not my
last instructions issue forth in vain. Thou hast seen
me happy and calamitous, thou hast beheld my
exaltation and my fall. My power is in the hands of
my enemies, my treasures have rewarded my accusers;
but my inheritance the clemency of the
emperour has spared, and my wisdom his anger
could not take away. Cast thine eyes around thee;
whatever thou beholdest will, in a few hours, be
thine: apply thine ear to my dictates, and these
possessions will promote thy happiness. Aspire not to
public honours, enter not the palaces of kings; thy
wealth will set thee above insult, let thy moderation
keep thee below envy. Content thyself with private
dignity, diffuse thy riches among thy friends, let
every day extend thy beneficence, and suffer not
thy heart to be at rest till thou art loved by all to
whom thou art known. In the height of my power,
I said to defamation, Who will hear thee? and
to artifice, What canst thou perform? But, my
son, despise not thou the malice of the weakest,
remember that venom supplies the want of strength,
and that the lion may perish by the puncture of
an asp."
Morad expired in a few hours. Abouzaid, after
the months of mourning, determined to regulate
his conduct by his father's precepts, and cultivate
the love of mankind by every art of kindness and
endearment. He wisely considered, that domestick
happiness was first to be secured, and that none
have so much power of doing good or hurt, as
those who are present in the hour of negligence,
hear the bursts of thoughtless merriment, and
observe the starts of unguarded passion. He therefore
augmented the pay of all his attendants, and
requited every exertion of uncommon diligence by
supernumerary gratuities. While he congratulated
himself upon the fidelity and affection of his family,
he was in the night alarmed with robbers, who, being
pursued and taken, declared that they had been
admitted by one of his servants; the servant
immediately confessed, that he unbarred the door,
because another not more worthy of confidence was
entrusted with the keys.
Abouzaid was thus convinced that a dependant
could not easily be made a friend; and that while
many were soliciting for the first rank of favour,
all those would be alienated whom he disappointed.
He therefore resolved to associate with a few equal
companions selected from among the chief men of
the province. With these he lived happily for a time,
till familiarity set them free from restraint, and
every man thought himself at liberty to indulge
his own caprice, and advance his own opinions.
They then disturbed each other with contrariety
of inclinations, and difference of sentiments, and
Abouzaid was necessitated to offend one party by
concurrence, or both by indifference.
He afterwards determined to avoid a close union
with beings so discordant in their nature, and to
diffuse himself in a larger circle. He practised the
smile of universal courtesy, and invited all to his
table, but admitted none to his retirements. Many
who had been rejected in his choice of friendship,
now refused to accept his acquaintance; and of
those whom plenty and magnificence drew to his
table, every one pressed forward toward intimacy,
thought himself overlooked in the crowd, and
murmured because he was not distinguished above the
rest. By degrees all made advances, and all resented
repulse. The table was then covered with delicacies
in vain; the musick sounded in empty rooms; and
Abouzaid was left to form in solitude some new
scheme of pleasure or security.
Resolving now to try the force of gratitude, he
inquired for men of science, whose merit was
obscured by poverty. His house was soon crowded
with poets, sculptors, painters, and designers, who
wantoned in unexperienced plenty, and employed
their powers in celebration of their patron. But in
a short time they forgot the distress from which
they had been rescued, and began to consider their
deliverer as a wretch of narrow capacity, who was
growing great by works which he could not perform,
and whom they overpaid by condescending
to accept his bounties. Abouzaid heard their
murmurs and dismissed them, and from that hour
continued blind to colours, and deaf to panegyrick.
As the sons of art departed, muttering threats
of perpetual infamy, Abouzaid, who stood at the
gate, called to him Hamet the poet. "Hamet,"
said he, "thy ingratitude has put an end to my
hopes and experiments: I have now learned the
vanity of those labours that wish to be rewarded
by human benevolence; I shall henceforth do good,
and avoid evil, without respect to the opinion of
men; and resolve to solicit only the approbation of
that Being whom alone we are sure to please by
endeavouring to please him."
No. 191. TUESDAY, JANUARY 14, 1752
Cereus in vitium flecti, monitoribus asper.
HOR. Art. Poet. 163.
The youth----
Yielding like wax, th' impressive folly bears
Rough to reproof, and slow to future cares. FRANCIS.
I HAVE been four days confined to my chamber
by a cold, which has already kept me from three
plays, nine sales, five shows, and six card-tables,
and put me seventeen visits behind-hand; and the
doctor tells my mamma, that, if I fret and cry, it
will settle in my head, and I shall not be fit to be
seen these six weeks. But, dear Mr. Rambler, how
can I help it? At this very time Melissa is dancing
with the prettiest gentleman;--she will breakfast
with him to-morrow, and then run to two auctions,
and hear compliments, and have presents; then she
will be drest, and visit, and get a ticket to the play;
then go to cards and win, and come home with two
flambeaux before her chair. Dear Mr. Rambler, who
can bear it?
My aunt has just brought me a bundle of your
papers for my amusement. She says you are a philosopher,
and will teach me to moderate my desires, and
look upon the world with indifference. But, dear sir,
I do not wish nor intend to moderate my desires, nor
can I think it proper to look upon the world with
indifference, till the world looks with indifference on
me. I have been forced, however, to sit this morning
a whole quarter of an hour with your paper before
my face; but just as my aunt came in, Phyllida
had brought me a letter from Mr. Trip, which I put
within the leaves and read about ABSENCE and
ETERNAL CONSTANCY, while my aunt imagined that I
was puzzling myself with your philosophy, and often
cried out, when she saw me look confused, "If there
is any word that you do not understand, child. I will
explain it."
Dear soul! how old people that think themselves
wise may be imposed upon! But it is fit that they
should take their turn, for I am sure, while they can
keep poor girls close in the nursery, they tyrannize
over us in a very shameful manner, and fill our
imaginations with tales of terrour, only to make us
live in quiet subjection, and fancy that we can never
be safe but by their protection.
I have a mamma and two aunts, who have all been
formerly celebrated for wit and beauty, and are still
generally admired by those that value themselves
upon their understanding, and love to talk of vice
and virtue, nature and simplicity, and beauty and
propriety; but if there was not some hope of meeting
me, scarcely a creature would come near them
that wears a fashionable coat. These ladies, Mr.
Rambler, have had me under their government fifteen
years and a half, and have all that time been
endeavouring to deceive me by such representations
of life as I now find not to be true; but I know not
whether I ought to impute them to ignorance or
malice, as it is possible the world may be much
changed since they mingled in general conversation.
Being desirous that I should love books, they told
me, that nothing but knowledge could make me an
agreeable companion to men of sense, or qualify me
to distinguish the superficial glitter of vanity from
the solid merit of understanding; and that a habit
of reading would enable me to fill up the vacuities
of life without the help of silly or dangerous
amusements, and preserve me from the snares of idleness
and the inroads of temptation.
But their principal intention was to make me
afraid of men; in which they succeeded so well for
a time, that I durst not look in their faces, or be
left alone with them in a parlour; for they made me
fancy, that no man ever spoke but to deceive, or
looked but to allure; that the girl who suffered him
that had once squeezed her hand, to approach her a
second time, was on the brink of ruin; and that she
who answered a billet, without consulting her relations,
gave love such power over her, that she would
certainly become either poor or infamous.
From the time that my leading-strings were
taken off, I scarce heard any mention of my beauty
but from the milliner, the mantua-maker, and my
own maid; for my mamma never said more, when
she heard me commended, but "the girl is very
well," and then endeavoured to divert my attention
by some inquiry after my needle, or my book.
It is now three months since I have been suffered
to pay and receive visits, to dance at publick
assemblies, to have a place kept for me in the boxes,
and to play at lady Racker's rout; and you may
easily imagine what I think of those who have so
long cheated me with false expectations, disturbed
me with fictitious terrours, and concealed from me
all that I have found to make the happiness of
I am so far from perceiving the usefulness or
necessity of books, that if I had not dropped all
pretensions to learning, I should have lost Mr.
Trip, whom I once frighted into another box, by
retailing some of Dryden's remarks upon a tragedy;
for Mr. Trip declares, that he hates nothing like hard
words, and I am sure, there is not a better partner
to be found; his very walk is a dance. I have talked
once or twice among ladies about principles and
ideas, but they put their fans before their faces, and
told me I was too wise for them, who for their part
never pretended to read any thing but the play-bill,
and then asked me the price of my best head.
Those vacancies of time which are to be filled up
with books I have never yet obtained; for, consider,
Mr. Rambler, I go to bed late, and therefore cannot
rise early; as soon as I am up, I dress for the gardens;
then walk in the park; then always go to some sale
or show, or entertainment at the little theatre; then
must be dressed for dinner; then must pay my
visits; then walk in the park; then hurry to the
play; and from thence to the card-table. This is the
general course of the day, when there happens nothing
extraordinary; but sometimes I ramble into the
country, and come back again to a ball; sometimes
I am engaged for a whole day and part of the night.
If, at any time, I can gain an hour by not being at
home, I have so many things to do, so many orders
to give to the milliner, so many alterations to make
in my clothes, so many visitants' names to read over,
so many invitations to accept or refuse, so many
cards to write, and so many fashions to consider,
that I am lost in confusion, forced at last to let in
company or step into my chair, and leave half my
affairs to the direction of my maid.
This is the round of my day; and when shall I
either stop my course, or so change it as to want a
book? I suppose it cannot be imagined, that any
of these diversions will soon be at an end. There
will always be gardens, and a park, and auctions,
and shows, and playhouses, and cards; visits will
always be paid, and clothes always be worn; and how
can I have time unemployed upon my hands?
But I am most at a loss to guess for what
purpose they related such tragick stories of the cruelty,
perfidy, and artifices of men, who, if they ever were
so malicious and destructive, have certainly now
reformed their manners. I have not, since my entrance
into the world, found one who does not profess
himself devoted to my service, and ready to
live or die as I shall command him. They are so far
from intending to hurt me, that their only contention
is, who shall be allowed most closely to attend,
and most frequently to treat me; when different
places of entertainment, or schemes of pleasure are
mentioned, I can see the eye sparkle and the cheeks
glow of him whose proposals obtain my approbation;
he then leads me of in triumph, adores my
condescension, and congratulates himself that he
has lived to the hour of felicity. Are these, Mr.
Rambler, creatures to be feared? Is it likely that
an injury will be done me by those who can enjoy
life only while I favour them with my presence?
As little reason can I yet find to suspect them
of stratagems and fraud. When I play at cards, they
never take advantage of my mistakes, nor exact
from me a rigorous observation of the game. Even
Mr. Shuffle, a grave gentleman, who has daughters
older than myself, plays with me so negligently,
that I am sometimes inclined to believe he loses his
money by design, and yet he is so fond of play, that
he says, he will one day take me to his house in the
country, that we may try by ourselves who can conquer.
I have not yet promised him; but when the
town grows a little empty, I shall think upon it,
for I want some trinkets, like Letitia's, to my watch.
I do not doubt my luck, but must study some means
of amusing my relations.
For all these distinctions I find myself indebted
to that beauty which I was never suffered to hear
praised, and of which, therefore, I did not before
know the full value. The concealment was certainly
an intentional fraud, for my aunts have eyes like
other people, and I am every day told, that nothing
but blindness can escape the influence of my charms.
Their whole account of that world which they
pretend to know so well, has been only one fiction
entangled with another; and though the modes of life
oblige me to continue some appearances of respect,
I cannot think that they, who have been so clearly
detected in ignorance or imposture, have any right
to the esteem, veneration, or obedience of,
Sir, Yours,
No. 192. SATURDAY, JANUARY 18, 1752
Genos ouoedeoen eioes Erwta<.S>>
Sofih, tropos patetai<.S>>
Monon arguron Blepousin>.
'Apoloito prtos a "O tooen arguron filhsas.
Dtaoe toton ouoec aoedelfooes,
Dtaoe toton ouoe toces><.S>
Polemoi, fonoi dioe auoeton.
Tooe deoe Ceton, ooellumesqa>
Dtaoe touoeton oi filontes>. ANACREON. ODAI,
M. 5.
Vain the noblest birth would prove,
Nor worth or wit avail in love;
'Tis gold alone succeeds--by gold
The venal sex is bought and sold.
Accurs'd be he who first of yore
Discover'd the pernicious ore!
This sets a brother's heart on fire,
And arms the son against the sire;
And what, alas! is worse than all,
To this the lover owes his fall. F. LEWIS.
I AM the son of a gentleman, whose ancestors, for
many ages, held the first rank in the country;
till at last one of them, too desirous of popularity,
set his house open, kept a table covered with continual
profusion, and distributed his beef and ale to
such as chose rather to live upon the folly of others,
than their own labour, with such thoughtless liberality,
that he left a third part of his estate mortgaged.
His successor, a man of spirit, scorned to impair his
dignity by parsimonious retrenchments, or to admit,
by a sale of his lands, any participation of the rights
of his manour; he therefore made another mortgage
to pay the interest of the former, and pleased himself
with the reflection, that his son would have the
hereditary estate without the diminution of an acre.
Nearly resembling this was the practice of my
wise progenitors for many ages. Every man boasted
the antiquity of his family, resolved to support the
dignity of his birth, and lived in splendour and
plenty at the expense of his heir, who, sometimes
by a wealthy marriage, and sometimes by lucky
legacies, discharged part of the incumbrances, and
thought himself entitled to contract new debts,
and to leave to his children the same inheritance of
embarrassment and distress.
Thus the estate perpetually decayed; the woods
were felled by one, the park ploughed by another,
the fishery let to farmers by a third; at last the old
hall was pulled down to spare the cost of reparation,
and part of the materials sold to build a small
house with the rest. We were now openly degraded
from our original rank, and my father's brother was
allowed with less reluctance to serve an apprenticeship,
though we never reconciled ourselves heartily
to the sound of haberdasher, but always talked of
warehouses and a merchant, and when the wind
happened to blow loud, affected to pity the hazards
of commerce, and to sympathize with the solicitude
of my poor uncle, who had the true retailer's terrour
of adventure, and never exposed himself or his
property to any wider water than the Thames.
In time, however, by continual profit and small
expenses, he grew rich, and began to turn his thoughts
towards rank. He hung the arms of the family over
his parlour-chimney; pointed at a chariot decorated
only with a cypher; became of opinion that money
could not make a gentleman; resented the petulance
of upstarts; told stories of alderman Puff's
grandfather the porter; wondered that there was
no better method for regulating precedence; wished
for some dress peculiar to men of fashion; and
when his servant presented a letter, always inquired
whether it came from his brother the esquire.
My father was careful to send him game by every
carrier, which, though the conveyance often cost
more than the value, was well received, because it
gave him an opportunity of calling his friends
together, describing the beauty of his brother's seat,
and lamenting his own folly, whom no remonstrances
could withhold from polluting his fingers
with a shop-book.
The little presents which we sent were always
returned with great munificence. He was desirous
of being the second founder of his family, and
could not bear that we should be any longer
outshone by those whom we considered as climbers
upon our ruins, and usurpers of our fortune. He
furnished our house with all the elegance of
fashionable expense, and was careful to conceal his
bounties, lest the poverty of his family should be
At length it happened that, by misconduct like
our own, a large estate, which had been purchased
from us, was again exposed to the best bidder. My
uncle, delighted with an opportunity of reinstating
the family in their possessions, came down with
treasures scarcely to be imagined in a place where
commerce has not made large sums familiar, and at
once drove all the competitors away, expedited the
writings, and took possession. He now considered
himself as superior to trade, disposed of his stock,
and as soon as he had settled his economy, began
to shew his rural sovereignty, by breaking the
hedges of his tenants in hunting, and seizing the
guns or nets of those whose fortunes did not qualify
them for sportsmen. He soon afterwards solicited
the office of sheriff, from which all his neighbours
were glad to be reprieved, but which he regarded
as a resumption of ancestral claims, and a kind of
restoration to blood after the attainder of a trade.
My uncle, whose mind was so filled with this
change of his condition, that he found no want of
domestick entertainment, declared himself too old
to marry, and resolved to let the newly-purchased
estate fall into the regular channel of inheritance.
I was therefore considered as heir apparent, and
courted with officiousness and caresses, by the
gentlemen who had hitherto coldly allowed me that
rank which they could not refuse, depressed me with
studied neglect, and irritated me with ambiguous
I felt not much pleasure from the civilities for
which I knew myself indebted to my uncle's industry,
till, by one of the invitations which every
day now brought me, I was induced to spend a week
with Lucius, whose daughter Flavilla I had often
seen and admired like others, without any thought
of nearer approaches. The inequality which had
hitherto kept me at a distance being now levelled,
I was received with every evidence of respect: Lucius
told me the fortune which he intended for his favourite
daughter; many odd accidents obliged us to be
often together without company, and I soon began
to find that they were spreading for me the nets of
Flavilla was all softness and complaisance. I, who
had been excluded by a narrow fortune from much
acquaintance with the world, and never been honoured
before with the notice of so fine a lady, was
easily enamoured. Lucius either perceived my
passion, or Flavilla betrayed it; care was taken, that
our private meetings should be less frequent, and
my charmer confessed by her eyes how much pain
she suffered from our restraint. I renewed my visit
upon every pretence, but was not allowed one interview
without witness; at last I declared my passion
to Lucius, who received me as a lover worthy of his
daughter, and told me that nothing was wanting to
his consent, but that my uncle should settle his estate
upon me. I objected the indecency of encroaching
on his life, and the danger of provoking him by such
an unseasonable demand. Lucius seemed not to
think decency of much importance, but admitted
the danger of displeasing, and concluded that as he
was now old and sickly, we might without any in
convenience, wait for his death.
With this resolution I was better contented, as
it procured me the company of Flavilla, in which
the days passed away amidst continual rapture; but
in time I began to be ashamed of sitting idle, in
expectation of growing rich by the death of my
benefactor, and proposed to Lucius many schemes of
raising my own fortune by such assistance as I knew
my uncle willing to give me. Lucius, afraid lest I
should change my affection in absence, diverted me
from my design by dissuasives to which my passions
easily listened. At last my uncle died, and considering
himself as neglected by me, from the time that
Flavilla took possession of my heart, left his estate
to my younger brother, who was always hovering
about his bed, and relating stories of my pranks
and extravagance, my contempt of the commercial
dialect, and my impatience to be selling stock.
My condition was soon known, and I was no longer
admitted by the father of Flavilla. I repeated the
protestations of regard, which had been formerly
returned with so much ardour, in a letter which she
received privately, but returned by her father's
footman. Contempt has driven out my love, and I am
content to have purchased, by the loss of fortune,
an escape from a harpy, who has joined the artifices
of age to the allurements of youth. I am now going
to pursue my former projects with a legacy which
my uncle bequeathed me, and if I succeed, shall expect
to hear of the repentance of Flavilla.
I am, Sir, Yours, &c.
No. 193. TUESDAY, JANUARY 21, 1752
Laudis amore tumes? sunt certa piacula, quoe te
Ter pure lecto poterunt recreare libella.
HON. Lib. i. Ep. i. 36.
Or art thou vain? books yield a certain spell
To stop thy tumour; you shall cease to swell
When you have read them thrice, and studied well.
WHATEVER is universally desired, will be
sought by industry and artifice, by merit and
crimes, by means good and bad, rational and absurd,
according to the prevalence of virtue or vice, of
wisdom or folly. Some will always mistake the
degree of their own desert, and some will desire that
others may mistake it. The cunning will have
recourse to stratagem, and the powerful to violence,
for the attainment of their wishes; some will stoop
to theft, and others venture upon plunder.
Praise is so pleasing to the mind of man, that it
is the original motive of almost all our actions. The
desire of commendation, as of every thing else, is
varied indeed by innumerable differences of temper,
capacity, and knowledge; some have no higher wish
than for the applause of a club; some expect the
acclamations of a county; and some have hoped to fill
the mouths of all ages and nations with their names.
Every man pants for the highest eminence within
his view; none, however mean, ever sinks below the
hope of being distinguished by his fellow-beings,
and very few have by magnanimity or piety been so
raised above it, as to act wholly without regard to
censure or opinion.
To be praised, therefore, every man resolves;
but resolutions will not execute themselves. That
which all think too parsimoniously distributed to
their own claims, they will not gratuitously squander
upon others, and some expedient must be tried,
by which praise may be gained before it can be
Among the innumerable bidders for praise, some
are willing to purchase at the highest rate, and offer
ease and health, fortune and life. Yet even of these
only a small part have gained what they so earnestly
desired; the student wastes away in meditation, and
the soldier perishes on the ramparts, but unless some
accidental advantage co-operates with merit, neither
perseverance nor adventure attracts attention, and
learning and bravery sink into the grave, without
honour or remembrance.
But ambition and vanity generally expect to be
gratified on easier terms. It has been long observed,
that what is procured by skill or labour to the first
possessor, may be afterwards transferred for money;
and that the man of wealth may partake all the
acquisitions of courage without hazard, and all the
products of industry without fatigue. It was easily
discovered, that riches would obtain praise among
other conveniences, and that he whose pride was
unluckily associated with laziness, ignorance, or
cowardice, needed only to pay the hire of a panegyrist,
and he might be regaled with periodical eulogies;
might determine, at leisure, what virtue or science
he would be pleased to appropriate, and be lulled in
the evening with soothing serenades, or waked in the
morning by sprightly gratulations.
The happiness which mortals receive from the
celebration of beneficence which never relieved,
eloquence which never persuaded, or elegance which
never pleased, ought not to be envied or disturbed,
when they are known honestly to pay for their
entertainment. But there are unmerciful exactors of
adulation, who withhold the wages of venality; retain
their encomiast from year to year by general
promises and ambiguous blandishments; and when
he has run through the whole compass of flattery,
dismiss him with contempt, because his vein of fiction
is exhausted.
A continual feast of commendation is only to be
obtained by merit or by wealth; many are therefore
obliged to content themselves with single morsels,
and recompense the infrequency of their enjoyment
by excess and riot, whenever fortune sets the banquet
before them. Hunger is never delicate; they
who are seldom gorged to the full with praise, may
be safely fed with gross compliments; for the appetite
must be satisfied before it is disgusted.
It is easy to find the moment at which vanity is
eager for sustenance, and all that impudence or servility
can offer will be well received. When any one
complains of the want of what he is known to possess
in an uncommon degree, he certainly waits with
impatience to be contradicted. When the trader
pretends anxiety about the payment of his bills, or the
beauty remarks how frightfully she looks, then is
the lucky moment to talk of riches or of charms, of
the death of lovers, or the honour of a merchant.
Others there are yet more open and artless, who,
instead of suborning a flatterer, are content to supply
his place, and as some animals impregnate themselves,
swell with the praises which they hear from
their own tongues. Recte is dicitur laudare sese, cui
nemo alius contigit laudator. "It is right," says
Erasmus, "that he, whom no one else will commend,
should bestow commendations on himself." Of all
the sons of vanity, these are surely the happiest
and greatest; for what is greatness or happiness but
independence on external influences, exemption
from hope or fear, and the power of supplying every
want from the common stores of nature, which can
neither be exhausted nor prohibited? Such is the
wise man of the stoicks; such is the divinity of the
epicureans; and such is the flatterer of himself.
Every other enjoyment malice may destroy; every
other panegyrick envy may withhold; but no human
power can deprive the boaster of his own encomiums.
Infamy may hiss, or contempt may growl,
the hirelings of the great may follow fortune, and
the votaries of truth may attend on virtue; but
his pleasures still remain the same; he can always
listen with rapture to himself, and leave those who
dare not repose upon their own attestation, to
be elated or depressed by chance, and toil on in
the hopeless task of fixing caprice, and propitiating
This art of happiness has been long practised by
periodical writers, with little apparent violation of
decency. When we think our excellencies overlooked
by the world, or desire to recall the attention
of the publick to some particular performance,
we sit down with great composure and write a letter
to ourselves. The correspondent, whose character
we assume, always addresses us with the deference
due to a superior intelligence; proposes his doubts
with a proper sense of his own inability; offers an
objection with trembling diffidence; and at last has
no other pretensions to our notice than his profundity
of respect, and sincerity of admiration, his
submission to our dictates, and zeal for our success.
To such a reader, it is impossible to refuse regard,
nor can it easily be imagined with how much alacrity
we snatch up the pen which indignation or despair
had condemned to inactivity, when we find such candour
and judgment yet remaining in the world.
A letter of this kind I had lately the honour of
perusing, in which, though some of the periods were
negligently closed, and some expressions of familiarity
were used, which I thought might teach others
to address me with too little reverence, I was so
much delighted with the passages in which mention
was made of universal learning--unbounded genius--
soul of Homer, Pythagoras, and Plato--solidity
of thought--accuracy of distinction--elegance
of combination--vigour of fancy--strength of
reason--and regularity of composition--that I
had once determined to lay it before the publick.
Three times I sent it to the printer, and three times
I fetched it back. My modesty was on the point of
yielding, when reflecting that I was about to waste
panegyricks on myself, which might be more profitably
reserved for my patron, I locked it up for a
better hour, in compliance with the farmer's principle,
who never eats at home what he can carry to
the market.
No. 194. SATURDAY, JANUARY 25, 1752
Si damnosa senem juvat alea, ludit et heres
Bullatus, parvoque eadem movet arma fritillo.
JUV. Sat. xiv. 4.
If gaming does an aged sire entice,
Then my young master swiftly learns the vice,
And shakes in hanging sleeves the little box and dice.
J. DRYDEN, jun.
THAT vanity which keeps every man important
in his own eyes, inclines me to believe that
neither you nor your readers have yet forgotten the
name of Eumathes, who sent you a few months ago
an account of his arrival at London, with a young
nobleman his pupil. I shall therefore continue my
narrative without preface or recapitulation.
My pupil, in a very short time, by his mother's
countenance and direction, accomplished himself
with all those qualifications which constitute puerile
politeness. He became in a few days a perfect master
of his hat, which with a careless nicety he could put
off or on, without any need to adjust it by a second
motion. This was not attained but by frequent
consultations with his dancing-master, and constant
practice before the glass, for he had some rustick
habits to overcome; but, what will not time and
industry perform? A fortnight more furnished him
with all the airs and forms of familiar and respectful
salutation, from the clap on the shoulder to the
humble bow; he practises the stare of strangeness,
and the smile of condescension, the solemnity of
promise, and the graciousness of encouragement, as
if he had been nursed at a levee; and pronounces,
with no less propriety than his father, the
monosyllables of coldness, and sonorous periods of
respectful profession.
He immediately lost the reserve and timidity
which solitude and study are apt to impress upon
the most courtly genius; was able to enter a crowded
room with airy civility; to meet the glances of a
hundred eyes without perturbation; and address those
whom he never saw before with ease and confidence.
In less than a month his mother declared her satisfaction
at his proficiency by a triumphant observation,
The silence with which I was contented to hear
my pupil's praises, gave the lady reason to suspect
me not much delighted with his acquisitions; but
she attributed my discontent to the diminution of
my influence, and my fears of losing the patronage
of the family; and though she thinks favourably of
my learning and morals, she considers me as wholly
unacquainted with the customs of the polite part
of mankind; and therefore not qualified to form
the manners of a young nobleman, or communicate
the knowledge of the world. This knowledge she
comprises in the rules of visiting, the history of the
present hour, an early intelligence of the change of
fashions, an extensive acquaintance with the names
and faces of persons of rank, and a frequent appearance
in places of resort.
All this my pupil pursues with great application.
He is twice a day in the Mall, where he studies the
dress of every man splendid enough to attract his
notice, and never comes home without some observation
upon sleeves, button-holes, and embroidery.
At his return from the theatre, he can give an
account of the gallantries, glances, whispers, smiles,
sighs, flirts, and blushes of every box, so much to
his mother's satisfaction, that when I attempted to
resume my character, by inquiring his opinion of the
sentiments and diction of the tragedy, she at once
repressed my criticism, by telling me, "that she
hoped he did not go to lose his time in attending
to the creatures on the stage."
But his acuteness was most eminently signalized
at the masquerade, where he discovered his acquaintance
through their disguises, with such wonderful
facility, as has afforded the family an inexhaustible
topick of conversation. Every new visitor is
informed how one was detected by his gait, and
another by the swinging of his arms, a third by the
toss of his head, and another by his favourite phrase;
nor can you doubt but these performances receive
their just applause, and a genius thus hastening to
maturity is promoted by every art of cultivation.
Such have been his endeavours, and such his
assistances, that every trace of literature was soon
obliterated. He has changed his language with his dress,
and instead of endeavouring at purity or propriety,
has no other care than to catch the reigning phrase
and current exclamation, till, by copying whatever
is peculiar in the talk of all those whose birth or
fortune entitles them to imitation, he has collected every
fashionable barbarism of the present winter, and
speaks a dialect not to be understood among those
who form their style by poring upon authors.
To this copiousness of ideas, and felicity of
language, he has joined such eagerness to lead the
conversation, that he is celebrated among the ladies as
the prettiest gentleman that the age can boast of,
except that some who love to talk themselves, think
him too forward, and others lament that, with so
much wit and knowledge, he is not taller.
His mother listens to his observations with her
eyes sparkling and her heart beating, and can
scarcely contain, in the most numerous assemblies,
the expectations which she has formed for his future
eminence. Women, by whatever fate, always
judge absurdly of the intellects of boys. The vivacity
and confidence which attract female admiration,
are seldom produced in the early part of life,
but by ignorance at least, if not by stupidity; for
they proceed not from confidence of right, but
fearlessness of wrong. Whoever has a clear apprehension,
must have quick sensibility, and where he has
no sufficient reason to trust his own judgment, will
proceed with doubt and caution, because he perpetually
dreads the disgrace of errour. The pain of
miscarriage is naturally proportionate to the desire
of excellence; and, therefore, till men are hardened
by long familiarity with reproach, or have attained,
by frequent struggles, the art of suppressing their
emotions, diffidence is found the inseparable associate
of understanding.
But so little distrust has my pupil of his own
abilities, that he has for some time professed himself
a wit, and tortures his imagination on all occasions
for burlesque and jocularity. How he supports
a character which, perhaps, no man ever assumed
without repentance, may be easily conjectured.
Wit, you know, is the unexpected copulation of
ideas, the discovery of some occult relation between
images in appearance remote from each other; an
effusion of wit, therefore, presupposes an accumulation
of knowledge; a memory stored with notions,
which the imagination may cull out to compose
new assemblages. Whatever may be the native vigour
of the mind, she can never form many combinations
from few ideas, as many changes cannot be
rung upon a few bells. Accident may indeed
sometimes produce a lucky parallel or a striking contrast;
but these gifts of chance are not frequent, and he
that has nothing of his own, and yet condemns
himself to needless expenses, must live upon loans or
The indulgence which his youth has hitherto
obtained, and the respect which his rank secures, have
hitherto supplied the want of intellectual qualifications;
and he imagines that all admire who applaud,
and that all who laugh are pleased. He therefore
returns every day to the charge with increase of
courage, though not of strength, and practises all the
tricks by which wit is counterfeited. He lays trains
for a quibble; he contrives blunders for his footman;
he adapts old stories to present characters; he mistakes
the question, that he may return a smart answer;
he anticipates the argument, that he may
plausibly object; when he has nothing to reply, he
repeats the last words of his antagonist, then says,
"your humble servant," and concludes with a laugh
of triumph.
These mistakes I have honestly attempted to
correct; but what can be expected from reason
unsupported by fashion, splendour, or authority? He
hears me, indeed, or appears to hear me, but is soon
rescued from the lecture by more pleasing avocations;
and shows, diversions, and caresses, drive my
precepts from his remembrance.
He at last imagines himself qualified to enter the
world, and has met with adventures in his first sally,
which I shall, by your paper, communicate to the
I am, &c.
No. 195. TUESDAY, JANUARY 28, 1752
--------Nescit equo rudis
Haerere ingenuus puer,
Venarique timet doctior,
Seu Graeco jubeas trocho,
Seu malis vetita legibus alea. HOR. Lib. iii. Ode xxiv. 54.
Nor knows our youth, of noblest race,
To mount the manag'd steed, or urge the chace;
More skill'd in the mean arts of vice,
The whirling troque, or law-forbidden dice. FRANCIS.
FAVOURS of every kind are doubled when they
are speedily conferred. This is particularly true
of the gratification of curiosity. He that long delays
a story, and suffers his auditor to torment himself
with expectation, will seldom be able to recompense
the uneasiness, or equal the hope which he suffers
to be raised.
For this reason, I have already sent you the
continuation of my pupil's history, which, though it
contains no events very uncommon, may be of use
to young men who are in too much haste to trust
their own prudence, and quit the wing of protection
before they are able to shift for themselves.
When he first settled in London, he was so much
bewildered in the enormous extent of the town, so
confounded by incessant noise, and crowds, and
hurry, and so terrified by rural narratives of the arts
of sharpers, the rudeness of the populace, malignity
of porters, and treachery of coachmen, that he was
afraid to go beyond the door without an attendant,
and imagined his life in danger if he was obliged
to pass the streets at night in any vehicle but his
mother's chair.
He was therefore contented, for a time, that I
should accompany him in all his excursions. But his
fear abated as he grew more familiar with its objects;
and the contempt to which his rusticity exposed him
from such of his companions as had accidentally
known the town longer, obliged him to dissemble
his remaining terrours.
His desire of liberty made him now willing to
spare me the trouble of observing his motions; but
knowing how much his ignorance exposed him to
mischief, I thought it cruel to abandon him to the
fortune of the town. We went together every day
to a coffee-house, where he met wits, heirs, and fops,
airy, ignorant, and thoughtless as himself, with
whom he had become acquainted at card-tables, and
whom he considered as the only beings to be envied
or admired. What were their topicks of conversation,
I could never discover; for, so much was their
vivacity repressed by my intrusive seriousness, that
they seldom proceeded beyond the exchange of nods
and shrugs, an arch grin, or a broken hint, except
when they could retire, while I was looking on the
papers, to a corner of the room, where they seemed to
disburden their imaginations, and commonly vented
the superfluity of their sprightliness in a peal of
laughter. When they had tittered themselves into
negligence, I could sometimes overhear a few syllables,
such as--solemn rascal--academical airs--
smoke the tutor--company for gentlemen!--and
other broken phrases, by which I did not suffer my
quiet to be disturbed, for they never proceeded to
avowed indignities, but contented themselves to
murmur in secret, and, whenever I turned my eye
upon them, shrunk into stillness.
He was, however, desirous of withdrawing from
the subjection which he could not venture to break,
and made a secret appointment to assist his
companions in the persecution of a play. His footman
privately procured him a catcall, on which he
practised in a back-garret for two hours in the afternoon.
At the proper time a chair was called; he pretended
an engagement at lady Flutter's, and hastened to
the place where his critical associates had assembled.
They hurried away to the theatre, full of malignity
and denunciations against a man whose name they
had never heard, and a performance which they
could not understand; for they were resolved to
judge for themselves, and would not suffer the
town to be imposed upon by scribblers. In the pit,
they exerted themselves with great spirit and vivacity;
called out for the tunes of obscene songs, talked
loudly at intervals of Shakespeare and Jonson,
played on their catcalls a short prelude of terrour,
clamoured vehemently for a prologue, and clapped
with great dexterity at the first entrance of the
Two scenes they heard without attempting
interruption; but, being no longer able to restrain their
impatience, they then began to exert themselves in
groans and hisses, and plied their catcalls with
incessant diligence; so that they were soon considered by
the audience as disturbers of the house; and some
who sat near them, either provoked at the obstruction
of their entertainment, or desirous to preserve
the author from the mortification of seeing his hopes
destroyed by children, snatched away their instruments
of criticism, and, by the seasonable vibration
of a stick, subdued them instantaneously to decency
and silence.
To exhilarate themselves after this vexatious
defeat, they posted to a tavern, where they recovered
their alacrity, and, after two hours of obstreperous
jollity, burst out big with enterprize, and panting
for some occasion to signalize their prowess. They
proceeded vigorously through two streets, and with
very little opposition dispersed a rabble of drunkards
less daring than themselves, then rolled two watchmen
in the kennel, and broke the windows of a tavern
in which the fugitives took shelter. At last it was
determined to march up to a row of chairs, and
demolish them for standing on the pavement; the
chairmen formed a line of battle, and blows were
exchanged for a time with equal courage on both sides.
At last the assailants were overpowered, and the
chairmen, when they knew their captives, brought
them home by force.
The young gentleman, next morning, hung his
head, and was so much ashamed of his outrages and
defeat, that perhaps he might have been checked in
his first follies, had not his mother, partly in pity of
his dejection, and partly in approbation of his spirit,
relieved him from his perplexity by paying the damages
privately, and discouraging all animadversion
and reproof.
This indulgence could not wholly preserve him
from the remembrance of his disgrace, nor at once
restore his confidence and elation. He was for three
days silent, modest, and compliant, and thought
himself neither too wise for instruction, nor too
manly for restraint. But his levity overcame this
salutary sorrow; he began to talk with his former
raptures of masquerades, taverns, and frolicks;
blustered when his wig was not combed with exactness;
and threatened destruction to a tailor who had
mistaken his directions about the pocket.
I knew that he was now rising again above
control, and that his inflation of spirits would burst
out into some mischievous absurdity. I therefore
watched him with great attention; but one evening,
having attended his mother at a visit, he withdrew
himself, unsuspected, while the company was engaged
at cards. His vivacity and officiousness were
soon missed, and his return impatiently expected;
supper was delayed, and conversation suspended;
every coach that rattled through the street was
expected to bring him, and every servant that entered
the room was examined concerning his departure.
At last the lady returned home, and was with great
difficulty preserved from fits by spirits and cordials.
The family was despatched a thousand ways without
success, and the house was filled with distraction,
till, as we were deliberating what further measures
to take, he returned from a petty gaming-table,
with his coat torn and his head broken; without his
sword, snuff-box, sleeve-buttons, and watch.
Of this loss or robbery, he gave little account; but,
instead of sinking into his former shame, endeavoured
to support himself by surliness and asperity.
"He was not the first that had played away a few
trifles, and of what use were birth and fortune if
they would not admit some sallies and expenses?"
His mamma was so much provoked by the cost of
this prank, that she would neither palliate nor
conceal it; and his father, after some threats of
rustication which his fondness would not suffer him to
execute, reduce the allowance of his pocket, that
he might not be tempted by plenty to profusion.
This method would have succeeded in a place
where there are no panders to folly and
extravagance, but was now likely to have produced
pernicious consequences; for we have discovered a
treaty with a broker, whose daughter he seems
disposed to marry, on condition that he shall be supplied
with present money, for which he is to repay thrice
the value at the death of his father.
There was now no time to be lost. A domestick
consultation was immediately held, and he was
doomed to pass two years in the country; but his
mother, touched with his tears, declared, that she
thought him too much of a man to be any longer
confined to his book, and he therefore begins his
travels to-morrow under a French governour.
I am, &c.
No. 196. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1752
Multa ferunt anni venientes commoda secum,
Multa recedentes adimunt.---- HOR. De Ar. Poet. 175.
The blessings flowing in with life's full tide,
Down with our ebb of life decreasing glide. FRANCIS.
BAXTER, in the narrative of his own life, has
enumerated several opinions, which, though he
thought them evident and incontestable at his first
entrance into the world, time and experience
disposed him to change.
Whoever reviews the state of his own mind from
the dawn of manhood to its decline, and considers
what he pursued or dreaded, slighted or esteemed,
at different periods of his age, will have no reason
to imagine such changes of sentiment peculiar to
any station or character. Every man, however careless
and inattentive, has conviction forced upon
him; the lectures of time obtrude themselves upon
the most unwilling or dissipated auditor; and,
by comparing our past with our present thoughts,
we perceive that we have changed our minds,
though perhaps we cannot discover when the
alteration happened, or by what causes it was
This revolution of sentiments occasions a
perpetual contest between the old and young. They
who imagine themselves entitled to veneration by
the prerogative of longer life, are inclined to treat
the notions of those whose conduct they superintend
with superciliousness and contempt, for want of
considering that the future and the past have different
appearances; that the disproportion will always be
great between expectation and enjoyment, between
new possession and satiety; that the truth of many
maxims of age gives too little pleasure to be allowed
till it is felt; and that the miseries of life would be
increased beyond all human power of endurance, if
we were to enter the world with the same opinions
as we carry from it.
We naturally indulge those ideas that please us.
Hope will predominate in every mind, till it has
been suppressed by frequent disappointments. The
youth has not yet discovered how many evils are
continually hovering about us, and when he is set
free from the shackles of discipline, looks abroad
into the world with rapture; he sees an elysian
region open before him, so variegated with beauty,
and so stored with pleasure, that his care is rather
to accumulate good, than to shun evil; he stands
distracted by different forms of delight, and has no
other doubt, than which path to follow of those
which all lead equally to the bowers of happiness.
He who has seen only the superficies of life
believes everything to be what it appears, and rarely
suspects that external splendour conceals any latent
sorrow or vexation. He never imagines that there
may be greatness without safety, affluence without
content, jollity without friendship, and solitude without
peace. He fancies himself permitted to cull the
blessings of every condition, and to leave its
inconveniences to the idle and the ignorant. He is
inclined to believe no man miserable but by his own
fault, and seldom looks with much pity upon failings
or miscarriages, because he thinks them willingly
admitted, or negligently incurred.
It is impossible, without pity and contempt, to
hear a youth of generous sentiments and warm
imagination, declaring, in the moment of openness and
confidence, his designs and expectations; because
long life is possible, he considers it as certain, and
therefore promises himself all the changes of happiness,
and provides gratifications for every desire.
He is, for a time, to give himself wholly to frolick
and diversion, to range the world in search of
pleasure, to delight every eye, to gain every heart, and
to be celebrated equally for his pleasing levities and
solid attainments, his deep reflections and his sparkling
repartees. He then elevates his views to nobler
enjoyments, and finds all the scattered excellencies
of the female world united in a woman, who prefers
his addresses to wealth and titles; he is afterwards
to engage in business, to dissipate difficulty, and
overpower opposition: to climb, by the mere force
of merit, to fame and greatness; and reward all those
who countenanced his rise, or paid due regard to
his early excellence. At last he will retire in peace
and honour; contract his views to domestick pleasures;
form the manners of children like himself;
observe how every year expands the beauty of his
daughters, and how his sons catch ardour from their
father's history; he will give laws to the neighbourhood;
dictate axioms to posterity; and leave the
world an example of wisdom and happiness.
With hopes like these, he sallies jocund into life;
to little purpose is he told, that the condition of
humanity admits no pure and unmingled happiness;
that the exuberant gaiety of youth ends in poverty
or disease; that uncommon qualifications and
contrarieties of excellence, produce envy equally with
applause; that whatever admiration and fondness
may promise him, he must marry a wife like the
wives of others, with some virtues and some faults,
and be as often disgusted by her vices, as delighted
by her elegance; that if he adventures into the circle
of action, he must expect to encounter men as
artful, as daring, as resolute as himself; that of his
children, some may be deformed, and others vicious;
some may disgrace him by their follies, some offend
him by their insolence, and some exhaust him by
their profusion. He hears all this with obstinate
incredulity, and wonders by what malignity old age
is influenced, that it cannot forbear to fill his ears
with predictions of misery.
Among other pleasing errours of young minds,
is the opinion of their own importance. He that has
not yet remarked, how little attention his contemporaries
can spare from their own affairs, conceives
all eyes turned upon himself, and imagines every
one that approaches him to be an enemy or a
follower, an admirer or a spy. He therefore considers
his fame as involved in the event of every action.
Many of the virtues and vices of youth proceed
from this quick sense of reputation. This it is that
gives firmness and constancy, fidelity, and disinterestedness,
and it is this that kindles resentment for
slight injuries, and dictates all the principles of
sanguinary honour.
But as time brings him forward into the world,
he soon discovers that he only shares fame or reproach
with innumerable partners; that he is left
unmarked in the obscurity of the crowd; and that
what he does, whether good or bad, soon gives way
to new objects of regard. He then easily sets
himself free from the anxieties of reputation, and
considers praise or censure as a transient breath, which,
while he hears it, is passing away, without any
lasting mischief or advantage.
In youth, it is common to measure right and
wrong by the opinion of the world, and, in age, to
act without any measure but interest, and to lose
shame without substituting virtue.
Such is the condition of life, that something is
always wanting to happiness. In youth, we have
warm hopes, which are soon blasted by rashness and
negligence, and great designs, which are defeated
by inexperience. In age, we have knowledge and
prudence without spirit to exert, or motives to
prompt them; we are able to plan schemes and
regulate measures, but have not time remaining to
bring them to completion.
No. 197. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 1752
Cujus vulturis hoc erit cadaver? MART. Lib. vi. Ep. lxii. 4.
Say, to what vulture's share this carcase falls? F. LEWIS.
I BELONG to an order of mankind, considerable
at least for their number, to which your notice
has never been formally extended, though equally
entitled to regard with those triflers, who have
hitherto supplied you with topicks of amusement
or instruction. I am, Mr. Rambler, a legacy-hunter;
and, as every man is willing to think well of the
tribe in which his name is registered, you will
forgive my vanity, if I remind you that the legacyhunter,
however degraded by an ill-compounded
appellation in our barbarous language, was known, as
I am told, in ancient Rome, by the sonorous titles
of Captator and Haeredipeta.
My father was an attorney in the country, who
married his master's daughter in hopes of a fortune
which he did not obtain, having been, as he afterwards
discovered, chosen by her only because she
had no better offer, and was afraid of service. I was
the first offspring of a marriage, thus reciprocally
fraudulent, and therefore could not be expected to
inherit much dignity or generosity, and if I had
them not from nature, was not likely ever to attain
them; for, in the years which I spent at home, I
never heard any reason for action or forbearance, but
that we should gain money or lose it; nor was
taught any other style of commendation, than that
Mr. Sneaker is a warm man, Mr. Gripe has done
his business, and needs care for nobody.
My parents, though otherwise not great philosophers,
knew the force of early education, and took
care that the blank of my understanding should be
filled with impressions of the value of money. My
mother used, upon all occasions, to inculcate some
salutary axioms, such as might incite me to KEEP
WHAT I HAD, AND GET WHAT I COULD; she informed me
that we were in a world, where ALL MUST CATCH THAT
CATCH CAN; and as I grew up, stored my memory
with deeper observations; restrained me from the
usual puerile expenses, by remarking that MANY A
LITTLE MADE A MICKLE; and, when I envied the finery
of my neighbours, told me that BRAG WAS A GOOD
I was soon sagacious enough to discover that I
was not born to great wealth; and having heard no
other name for happiness, was sometimes inclined
to repine at my condition. But my mother always
relieved me, by saying, that there was money enough
in the family, that IT WAS GOOD TO BE OF KIN TO MEANS,
that I had nothing to do but to please my friends,
and I might come to hold up my head with the
best squire in the country.
These splendid expectations arose from our
alliance to three persons of considerable fortune. My
mother's aunt had attended on a lady, who, when
she died, rewarded her officiousness and fidelity
with a large legacy. My father had two relations,
of whom one had broken his indentures and run to
sea, from whence, after an absence of thirty years,
he returned with ten thousand pounds; and the
other had lured an heiress out of a window, who,
dying of her first child, had left him her estate, on
which he lived, without any other care than to
collect his rents, and preserve from poachers that
game which he could not kill himself.
These hoarders of money were visited and courted
by all who had any pretence to approach them, and
received presents and compliments from cousins
who could scarcely tell the degree of their relation.
But we had peculiar advantages, which encouraged
us to hope, that we should by degrees supplant our
competitors. My father, by his profession, made
himself necessary in their affairs, for the sailor and
the chambermaid, he inquired out mortgages and
securities, and wrote bonds and contracts; and had
endeared himself to the old woman, who once rashly
lent an hundred pounds without consulting him, by
informing her, that her debtor, was on the point
of bankruptcy, and posting so expeditiously with
an execution, that all the other creditors were
To the squire he was a kind of steward, and had
distinguished himself in his office by his address in
raising the rents, his inflexibility in distressing the
tardy tenants, and his acuteness in setting the parish
free from burdensome inhabitants, by shifting
them of to some other settlement.
Business made frequent attendance necessary;
trust soon produced intimacy; and success gave a
claim to kindness; so that we had opportunity to
practise all the arts of flattery and endearment.
My mother, who could not support the thoughts
of losing any thing, determined, that all their
fortunes should centre in me; and, in the prosecution
of her schemes, took care to inform me that NOTHING
COST LESS THAN GOOD WORDS, and that it is comfortable
to leap into an estate which another has got.
She trained me by these precepts to the utmost
ductility of obedience, and the closest attention to
profit. At an age when other boys are sporting in
the fields or murmuring in the school, I was
contriving some new method of paying my court;
inquiring the age of my future benefactors; or
considering how I should employ their legacies.
If our eagerness of money could have been
satisfied with the possessions of any one of my relations,
they might perhaps have been obtained; but as it
was impossible to be always present with all three,
our competitors were busy to efface any trace of
affection which we might have left behind; and
since there was not, on any part, such superiority
of merit as could enforce a constant and unshaken
preference, whoever was the last that flattered or
obliged, had, for a time, the ascendant.
My relations maintained a regular exchange of
courtesy, took care to miss no occasion of condolence
or congratulation, and sent presents at stated
times, but had in their hearts not much esteem for
one another. The seaman looked with contempt
upon the squire as a milksop and a landman, who
had lived without knowing the points of the compass,
or seeing any part of the world beyond the
county-town; and whenever they met, would talk
of longitude and latitude, and circles and tropicks,
would scarcely tell him the hour without some
mention of the horizon and meridian, nor shew him
the news without detecting his ignorance of the
situation of other countries.
The squire considered the sailor as a rude
uncultivated savage, with little more of human than his
form, and diverted himself with his ignorance of all
common objects and affairs; when he could persuade
him to go into the field, he always exposed him to
the sportsmen, by sending him to look for game in
improper places; and once prevailed upon him to
be present at the races, only that he might shew
the gentlemen how a sailor sat upon a horse.
The old gentlewoman thought herself wiser than
both, for she lived with no servant but a maid, and
saved her money. The others were indeed sufficiently
frugal; but the squire could not live without dogs
and horses, and the sailor never suffered the day to
pass but over a bowl of punch, to which, as he was
not critical in the choice of his company, every man
was welcome that could roar out a catch, or tell a
All these, however, I was to please; an arduous
task; but what will not youth and avarice undertake?
I had an unresisting suppleness of temper,
and an insatiable wish for riches; I was perpetually
instigated by the ambition of my parents, and assisted
occasionally by their instructions. What these
advantages enabled me to perform, shall be told in
the next letter of,
Yours, &c.
No. 198. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8. 1752
Nil mihi das das vivus: dicis, post; fata daturum.
Si non es stultus, scis, Maro, quid cupiam.
MART. Lib. xi. 67.
You've told me, Maro, whilst you live,
You'd not a single penny give,
But that whene'er you chance to die.
You'd leave a handsome legacy:
You must be mad beyond redress,
If my next wish you cannot guess. F. LEWIS.
YOU, who must have observed the inclination
which almost every man, however unactive or
insignificant, discovers of representing his life as
distinguished by extraordinary events, will not wonder
that Captator thinks his narrative important enough
to be continued. Nothing is more common than for
those to tease their companions with their history,
who have neither done nor suffered any thing that
can excite curiosity, or afford instruction.
As I was taught to flatter with the first essays
of speech, and had very early lost every other
passion in the desire of money, I began my pursuit
with omens of success; for I divided my officiousness
so judiciously among my relations, that I was equally
the favourite of all. When any of them entered the
door, I went to welcome him with raptures; when he
went away, I hung down my head, and sometimes
entreated to go with him with so much importunity,
that I very narrowly escaped a consent which I
dreaded in my heart. When at an annual entertainment
they were altogether, I had a harder task; but
plied them so impartially with caresses, that none
could charge me with neglect; and when they were
wearied with my fondness and civilities, I was always
dismissed with money to buy playthings.
Life cannot be kept at a stand: the years of
innocence and prattle were soon at an end, and other
qualifications were necessary to recommend me to
continuance of kindness. It luckily happened that
none of my friends had high notions of book-learning.
The sailor hated to see tall boys shut up in a
school, when they might more properly be seeing
the world, and making their fortunes; and was of
opinion, that when the first rules of arithmetick
were known, all that was necessary to make a man
complete might be learned on ship-board. The squire
only insisted, that so much scholarship was
indispensibly necessary, as might confer ability to draw
a lease and read the court hands; and the old
chambermaid declared loudly her contempt of books,
and her opinion that they only took the head off!
the main chance.
To unite, as well as we could, all their systems,
I was bred at home. Each was taught to believe,
that I followed his directions, and I gained likewise,
as my mother observed, this advantage, that
I was always in the way; for she had known many
favourite children sent to schools or academies, and
As I grew fitter to be trusted to my own
discretion, I was often despatched upon various
pretences to visit my relations, with directions from
my parents how to ingratiate myself, and drive
away competitors.
I was from my infancy, considered by the sailor
as a promising genius, because I liked punch better
than wine; and I took care to improve this
prepossession by continual inquiries about the art of
navigation, the degree of heat and cold in different
climates, the profits of trade, and the dangers of
shipwreck. I admired the courage of the seamen,
and gained his heart by importuning him for a recital
of his adventures, and a sight of his foreign curiosities.
I listened with an appearance of close attention
to stories which I could already repeat, and at the
close never failed to express my resolution to visit
distant countries, and my contempt of the cowards
and drones that spend all their lives in their native
parish; though I had in reality no desire of any thing
but money, nor ever felt the stimulations of curiosity
or ardour of adventure, but would contentedly
have passed the years of Nestor in receiving rents,
and lending upon mortgages.
The squire I was able to please with less
hypocrisy, for I really thought it pleasant enough to kill
the game and eat it. Some arts of falsehood, however,
the hunger of gold persuaded me to practise,
by which, though no other mischief was produced,
the purity of my thoughts was vitiated, and the
reverence for truth gradually destroyed. I sometimes
purchased fish, and pretended to have caught them;
I hired the countrymen to shew me partridges, and
then gave my uncle intelligence of their haunt; I
learned the seats of hares at night, and discovered
them in the morning with a sagacity that raised the
wonder and envy of old sportsmen. One only
obstruction to the advancement of my reputation I
could never fully surmount; I was naturally a coward,
and was therefore always left shamefully behind,
when there was a necessity to leap a hedge, to
swim a river, or force the horses to the utmost speed;
but as these exigencies did not frequently happen,
I maintained my honour with sufficient success, and
was never left out of a hunting party.
The old chambermaid was not so certainly, nor so
easily pleased, for she had no predominant passion
but avarice, and was therefore cold and inaccessible.
She had no conception of any virtue in a young man
but that of saving his money. When she heard of my
exploits in the field, she would shake her head,
inquire how much I should be the richer for all my
performances, and lament that such sums should be
spent upon dogs and horses. If the sailor told her of
my inclination to travel, she was sure there was no
place like England, and could not imagine why any
man that can live in his own country should leave
it. This sullen and frigid being I found means,
however, to propitiate by frequent commendations of
frugality, and perpetual care to avoid expense.
From the sailor was our first and most
considerable expectation; for he was richer than the
chambermaid and older than the squire. He was so
awkward and bashful among women, that we concluded
him secure from matrimony; and the noisy
fondness with which he used to welcome me to his
house, made us imagine that he would look out for
no other heir, and that we had nothing to do but
wait patiently for his death. But in the midst of our
triumph, my uncle saluted us one morning with a cry
of transport, and, clapping his hand hard on my shoulder,
told me, I was a happy fellow to have a friend
like him in the world, for he came to fit me out for
a voyage with one of his old acquaintances. I turned
pale, and trembled; my father told him, that he
believed my constitution not fitted to the sea; and my
mother, bursting into tears, cried out, that her heart
would break if she lost me. All this had no effect;
the sailor was wholly insusceptive of the softer
passions, and, without regard to tears or arguments,
persisted in his resolution to make me a man.
We were obliged to comply in appearance, and
preparations were accordingly made. I took leave of
my friends with great alacrity, proclaimed the
beneficence of my uncle with the highest strains of
gratitude, and rejoiced at the opportunity now put into
my hands of gratifying my thirst of knowledge.
But, a week before the day appointed for my departure,
I fell sick by my mother's direction, and
refused all food but what she privately brought me;
whenever my uncle visited me I was lethargick or
delirious, but took care in my raving fits to talk
incessantly of travel and merchandize. The room was
kept dark; the table was filled with vials and
gallipots; my mother was with difficulty persuaded not
to endanger her life with nocturnal attendance; my
father lamented the loss of the profits of the voyage;
and such superfluity of artifices was employed, as
perhaps might have discovered the cheat to a man
of penetration. But the sailor, unacquainted with
subtilties and stratagems, was easily deluded; and
as the ship could not stay for my recovery, sold
the cargo, and left me to re-establish my health at
I was sent to regain my flesh in a purer air, lest it
should appear never to have been wasted, and in
two months returned to deplore my disappointment.
My uncle pitied my dejection, and bid me prepare
myself against next year, for no land-lubber should
touch his money.
A reprieve however was obtained, and perhaps
some new stratagem might have succeeded another
spring; but my uncle unhappily made amorous
advances to my mother's maid, who, to promote so
advantageous a match, discovered the secret with
which only she had been entrusted. He stormed,
and raved, and declaring that he would have heirs
of his own, and not give his substance to cheats and
cowards, married the girl in two days, and has now
four children.
Cowardice is always scorned, and deceit universally
detested. I found my friends, if not wholly
alienated, at least cooled in their affection; the squire,
though he did not wholly discard me, was less fond,
and often inquired when I would go to sea. I was
obliged to bear his insults, and endeavoured to
rekindle his kindness by assiduity and respect; but all
my care was vain; he died without a will, and the
estate devolved to the legal heir.
Thus has the folly of my parents condemned me
to spend in flattery and attendance those years in
which I might have been qualified to place myself
above hope or fear. I am arrived at manhood without
any useful art, or generous sentiment; and, if
the old woman should likewise at last deceive me,
am in danger at once of beggary and ignorance.
I am, &c.
No. 199. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 1752
Decolor, obscurus, vilis. Non ille repexam
Caesariem Regum, nec candida virginis ornat
Colla, nec insigni splendet per cingula morsu.
Sed nova si nigri videas miracula saxi,
Tum pulcros superat cultus, et quidquid Eois
Indus litoribus rubra scrutatur in alga.
CLAUDIANUS, xlviii. 10.
Obscure, upris'd, and dark, the magnet lies,
Nor lures the search of avaricious eyes,
Nor binds the neck, nor sparkles in the hair,
Nor dignifies the great, nor decks the fair.
But search the wonders of the dusky stone,
And own all glories of the mine outdone,
Each grace of form, each ornament of state,
That decks the fair, or dignifies the great.
THOUGH you have seldom digressed from
moral subjects, I suppose you are not so rigorous
or cynical as to deny the value or usefulness
of natural philosophy; or to have lived in this age
of inquiry and experiment, without any attention to
the wonders every day produced by the pokers
of magnetism and the wheels of electricity. At
least, I may be allowed to hope that, since nothing
is more contrary to moral excellence than envy,
you will not refuse to promote the happiness of
others, merely because you cannot partake of their
In confidence, therefore, that your ignorance has
not made you an enemy to knowledge, I offer you
the honour of introducing to the notice of the
publick, an adept, who, having long laboured for the
benefit of mankind, is not willing, like too many of
his predecessors, to conceal his secrets in the grave.
Many have signalized themselves by melting their
estates in crucibles. I was born to no fortune, and
therefore had only my mind and body to devote to
knowledge, and the gratitude of posterity will attest,
that neither mind nor body have been spared.
I have sat whole weeks without sleep by the side
of an athanor, to watch the moment of projection;
I have made the first experiment in nineteen diving
engines of new construction; I have fallen eleven
times speechless under the shock of electricity; I
have twice dislocated my limbs, and once fractured
my skull, in essaying to fly[c]; and four times
endangered my life by submitting to the transfusion of
[c] In the sixth chapter of Rasselas we have an excellent story
of an experimentalist in the art of flying. Dr. Johnson sketched
perhaps from life, for we are informed that he once lodged in the
same house with a man who broke his legs in the daring attempt.
In the first period of my studies, I exerted the
powers of my body more than those of my mind,
and was not without hopes that fame might be
purchased by a few broken bones without the toil of
thinking; but having been shattered by some violent
experiments, and constrained to confine myself to
my books, I passed six and thirty years in searching
the treasures of ancient wisdom, but am at last amply
recompensed for all my perseverance.
The curiosity of the present race of philosophers,
having been long exercised upon electricity, has been
lately transformed to magnetism; the qualities of
the loadstone have been investigated, if not with
much advantage, yet with great applause; and as the
highest praise of art is to imitate nature, I hope no
man will think the makers of artificial magnets
celebrated or reverenced above their deserts.
I have for some time employed myself in the same
practice, but with deeper knowledge and more extensive
views. While my contemporaries were touching
needles and raising weights, or busying themselves
with inclination and variation, I have been
examining those qualities of magnetism which may be
applied to the accommodation and happiness of common
life. I have left to inferior understandings the
care of conducting the sailor through the hazards of
the ocean, and reserve to myself the more difficult
and illustrious province of preserving the connubial
compact from violation, and setting mankind free for
ever from the danger of suppositious children, and the
torment of fruitless vigilance and anxious suspicion.
To defraud any man of his due praise is unworthy
of a philosopher; I shall therefore openly confess,
that I owe the first hint of this inestimable secret
to the Rabbi Abraham Ben Hannase, who, in his
treatise of precious stones, has left this account of
the magnet: , &c. "The calamita, or
loadstone that attracts iron, produces many bad
fantasies in man. Women fly from this stone. If
therefore any husband be disturbed with jealousy, and fear
lest his wife converses with other men, let him lay
this stone upon her while she is asleep. If she be pure,
she will, when she wakes, clasp her husband fondly in
her arms; but if she be guilty, she will fall out of
bed, and run away."
When I first read this wonderful passage, I could
not easily conceive why it had remained hitherto
unregarded in such a zealous competition for
magnetical fame. I would surely be unjust to suspect
that any of the candidates are strangers to the name
or works of Rabbi Abraham, or to conclude, from
a late edict of the Royal Society in favour of the
English language, that philosophy and literature
are no longer to act in concert. Yet, how should a
quality so useful escape promulgation, but by the
obscurity of the language in which it was delivered?
Why are footmen and chambermaids paid on every
side for keeping secrets, which no caution nor expense
could secure from the all penetrating magnet?
Or, why are so many witnesses summoned, and so
many artifices practised, to discover what so easy an
experiment would infallibly reveal?
Full of this perplexity, I read the lines of Abraham
to a friend, who advised me not to expose my
life by a mad indulgence of the love of fame; he
warned me by the fate of Orpheus, that knowledge
or genius could give no protection to the invader of
female prerogatives; assured me that neither the
armour of Achilles, nor the antidote of Mithridates,
would be able to preserve me; and counselled me,
if I could not live without renown, to attempt the
acquisition of universal empire, in which the honour
would perhaps be equal, and the danger certainly
be less.
I, a solitary student, pretend not to much
knowledge of the world, but am unwilling to think it so
generally corrupt, as that a scheme for the detection
of incontinence should bring any danger upon
its inventor. My friend has indeed told me that all
the women will be my enemies, and that, however
I flatter myself with hopes of defence from the
men, I shall certainly find myself deserted in the
hour of danger. Of the young men, said he, some
will be afraid of sharing the disgrace of their mothers,
and some the danger of their mistresses; of those
who are married, part are already convinced of the
falsehood of their wives, and part shut their eyes to
avoid conviction; few ever sought for virtue in
marriage, and therefore few will try whether they
have found it. Almost every man is careless or
timorous, and to trust is easier and safer than to
These observations discouraged me, till I began
to consider what reception I was likely to find among
the ladies, whom I have reviewed under the three
classes of maids, wives, and widows, and cannot but
hope that I may obtain some countenance among
them. The single ladies I suppose universally ready
to patronise my method, by which connubial wickedness
may be detected, since no woman marries with
a previous design to be unfaithful to her husband.
And to keep them steady in my cause, I promise
never to sell one of my magnets to a man who
steals a girl from school; marries a woman of forty
years younger than himself; or employs the authority
of parents to obtain a wife without her own
Among the married ladies, notwithstanding the
insinuations of slander, yet I resolve to believe, that
the greater part are my friends, and am at least
convinced, that they who demand the test, and
appear on my side, will supply, by their spirit, the
deficiency of their numbers, and that their enemies
will shrink and quake at the sight of a magnet, as
the slaves of Scythia fled from the scourge.
The widows will be confederated in my favour by
their curiosity, if not by their virtue; for it may be
observed, that women who have outlived their husbands,
always think themselves entitled to superintend
the conduct of young wives; and as they are
themselves in no danger from this magnetick trial,
I shall expect them to be eminently and unanimously
zealous in recommending it.
With these hopes I shall, in a short time, offer to
sale magnets armed with a particular metallick
composition, which concentrates their virtue, and
determines their agency. It is known that the efficacy
of the magnet, in common operations, depends
much upon its armature, and it cannot be imagined,
that a stone, naked, or cased only in a common
manner, will discover the virtues ascribed to it by
Rabbi Abraham. The secret of this metal I shall
carefully conceal, and, therefore, am not afraid of
imitators, nor shall trouble the offices with
solicitations for a patent.
I shall sell them of different sizes, and various
degrees of strength. I have some of a bulk proper
to be hung at the bed's head, as scare-crows, and
some so small that they may be easily concealed.
Some I have ground into oral forms to be hung at
watches; and some, for the curious, I have set in
wedding rings, that ladies may never want an
attestation of their innocence. Some I can produce so
sluggish and inert, that they will not act before the
third failure; and others so vigorous and animated,
that they exert their influence against unlawful
wishes, if they have been willingly and deliberately
indulged. As it is my practice honestly to tell my
customers the properties of my magnets, I can
judge, by their choice, of the delicacy of their
sentiments. Many have been content to spare cost
by purchasing only the lowest degree of efficacy,
and all have started with terrour from those which
operate upon the thoughts. One young lady only
fitted on a ring of the strongest energy, and
declared that she scorned to separate her wishes from
her acts, or allow herself to think what she was
forbidden to practice.
I am, &c.
No. 200. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 1752.
Nemo petit, modicis quae mittebantur amicis
A Seneca, quae Piso bonus, quae Cotta solebat
Largiri; namque et titulis, es fascibus olim
Major habebatur dornandi gloria: solum
Poscimus, ut coenes civiliter. Hoc face, et esto,
Esto, ut nunc multi, dives tibi, pauper amicis. Juv. Sat. v.
No man expects (for who so much a sot
Who has the times he lives in so forgot?)
What Seneca, what Piso us'd to send,
To raise or to support a sinking friend.
Those godlike men, to wanting virtue kind,
Bounty well plac'd, preferr'd, and well design'd,
To all their titles, all that height of pow'r,
Which turns the brains of fools, and fools alone adore.
When your poor client is condemn'd t' attend,
'Tis all we ask, to receive him as a friend:
Descend to this, and then we ask no more;
Rich to yourself, to all beside be poor. BOWLES.
SUCH is the tenderness or infirmity of many
minds, that when any affliction oppresses them,
they have immediate recourse to lamentation and
complaint, which, though it can only be allowed
reasonable when evils admit of remedy, and then only
when addressed to those from whom the remedy is
expected, yet seems even in hopeless and incurable
distresses to be natural, since those by whom it is
not indulged, imagine that they give a proof of
extraordinary fortitude by suppressing it.
I am one of those who, with the Sancho of Cervantes,
leave to higher characters the merit of suffering
in silence, and give vent without scruple to
any sorrow that swells in my heart. It is therefore
to me a severe aggravation of a calamity, when it is
such as in the common opinion will not justify the
acerbity of exclamation, or support the solemnity of
vocal grief. Yet many pains are incident to a man of
delicacy, which the unfeeling world cannot be
persuaded to pity, and which, when they are separated
from their peculiar and personal circumstances, will
never be considered as important enough to claim
attention, or deserve redress.
Of this kind will appear to gross and vulgar
apprehensions, the miseries which I endured in a morning
visit to Prospero, a man lately raised to wealth by a
lucky project, and too much intoxicated by sudden
elevation, or too little polished by thought and
conversation, to enjoy his present fortune with elegance
and decency.
We set out in the world together; and for a long
time mutually assisted each other in our exigencies,
as either happened to have money or influence
beyond his immediate necessities. You know that
nothing generally endears men so much as participation
of dangers and misfortunes; I therefore always
considered Prospero as united with me in the
strongest league of kindness, and imagined that our
friendship was only to be broken by the hand of
death. I felt at his sudden shoot of success an honest
and disinterested joy; but as I want no part of his
superfluities, am not willing to descend from that
equality in which we hitherto have lived.
Our intimacy was regarded by me as a dispensation
from ceremonial visits; and it was so long before
I saw him at his new house, that he gently
complained of my neglect, and obliged me to come on
a day appointed. I kept my promise, but found that
the impatience of my friend arose not from any desire
to communicate his happiness, but to enjoy his
When I told my name at the door, the footman
went to see if his master was at home, and, by the
tardiness of his return, gave me reason to suspect
that time was taken to deliberate. He then informed
me, that Prospero desired my company, and shewed
the staircase carefully secured by mats from the
pollution of my feet. The best apartments were
ostentatiously set open, that I might have a distant view
of the magnificence which I was not permitted to
approach; and my old friend receiving me with all
the insolence of condescension at the top of the stairs,
conducted me to a back room, where he told me he
always breakfasted when he had not great company.
On the floor where we sat lay a carpet covered
with a cloth, of which Prospero ordered his servant
to lift up a corner, that I might contemplate the
brightness of the colours, and the elegance of the
texture, and asked me whether I had ever seen any
thing so fine before? I did not gratify his folly with
any outcries of admiration, but coldly bade the
footman let down the cloth.
We then sat down, and I began to hope that
pride was glutted with persecution, when Prospero
desired that I would give the servant leave to adjust
the cover of my chair, which was slipt a little
aside, to shew the damask; he informed me that he
had bespoke ordinary chairs for common use, but had
been disappointed by his tradesman. I put the chair
aside with my foot, and drew another so hastily,
that I was entreated not to rumple the carpet.
Breakfast was at last set, and as I was not willing
to indulge the peevishness that began to seize me,
I commended the tea: Prospero then told me, that
another time I should taste his finest sort, but that
he had only a very small quantity remaining, and
reserved it for those whom he thought himself
obliged to treat with particular respect.
While we were conversing upon such subjects as
imagination happened to suggest, he frequently
digressed into directions to the servant that waited,
or made a slight inquiry after the jeweller or
silversmith; and once, as I was pursuing an argument
with some degree of earnestness, he started from
his posture of attention, and ordered, that if lord
Lofty called on him that morning, he should be
shown into the best parlour.
My patience was yet not wholly subdued. I was
willing to promote his satisfaction, and therefore
observed that the figures on the china were
eminently pretty. Prospero had now an opportunity of
calling for his Dresden china, which, says he, I
always associate with my chased tea-kettle. The cups
were brought; I once resolved not to have looked
upon them, but my curiosity prevailed. When I had
examined them a little, Prospero desired me to set
them down, for they who were accustomed only to
common dishes, seldom handled china with much
care. You will, I hope, commend my philosophy,
when I tell you that I did not dash his baubles to
the ground.
He was now so much elevated with his own
greatness, that he thought some humility necessary to
avert the glance of envy, and therefore told me,
with an air of soft composure, that I was not to
estimate life by external appearance, that all these
shining acquisitions had added little to his happiness,
that he still remembered with pleasure the
days in which he and I were on the level, and had
often, in the moment of reflection, been doubtful,
whether he should lose much by changing his condition
for mine.
I began now to be afraid lest his pride should, by
silence and submission be emboldened to insults
that could not easily be borne, and therefore coolly
considered, how I should repress it without such
bitterness of reproof as I was yet unwilling to use.
But he interrupted my meditation, by asking leave
to be dressed, and told me, that he had promised
to attend some ladies in the park, and, if I was
going the same way, would take me in his chariot. I
had no inclination to any other favours, and therefore
left him without any intention of seeing him
again, unless some misfortune should restore his
I am, &c.
Though I am not wholly insensible of the
provocations which my correspondent has received, I
cannot altogether commend the keenness of his
resentment, nor encourage him to persist in his
resolution of breaking off all commerce with his old
acquaintance. One of the golden precepts of
Pythagoras directs, that A FRIEND SHOULD NOT BE HATED
FOR LITTLE FAULTS; and surely he, upon whom nothing
worse can be charged, than that he mats his stairs,
and covers his carpet, and sets out his finery to show
before those whom he does not admit to use it,
has yet committed nothing that should exclude him
from common degrees of kindness. Such improprieties
often proceed rather from stupidity than
malice. Those who thus shine only to dazzle, are
influenced merely by custom and example, and neither
examine, nor are qualified to examine, the motives
of their own practice, or to state the nice limits
between elegance and ostentation. They are often
innocent of the pain which their vanity produces,
and insult others when they have no worse purpose
than to please themselves.
He that too much refines his delicacy will always
endanger his quiet. Of those with whom nature
and virtue oblige us to converse, some are ignorant
of the art of pleasing, and offend when they design
to caress; some are negligent, and gratify themselves
without regard to the quiet of another; some,
perhaps, are malicious, and feel no greater satisfaction
in prosperity, than that of raising envy and
trampling inferiority. But, whatever be the motive
of insult, it is always best to overlook it, for folly
scarcely can deserve resentment, and malice is punished
by neglect[d].
[d] Garrick's little vanities are recognized by all in the
character of Prospero. Mr. Boswell informs us, that he never
forgave its pointed satire. On the same authority we are
assured, that though Johnson so dearly loved to ridicule his
pupil, yet he so habitually considered him as his own property,
that he would permit no one beside to hold up his weaknesses to
No. 201. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 1752
----Sanctus haberi
Justitiaeque tenax factis dictisque mereris,
Adnosco procerem. JUV. Sat. Lib. viii. 24.
Convince the world that you're devout and true;
Be just in all you say, and all you do;
Whatever be your birth, you're sure to be
A peer of the first magnitude to me. STEPNEY.
BOYLE has observed, that the excellency of
manufactures, and the facility of labour, would
be much promoted, if the various expedients and
contrivances which lie concealed in private hands,
were by reciprocal communications made generally
known; for there are few operations that are not
performed by one or other with some peculiar
advantages, which, though singly of little
importance, would, by conjunction and concurrence, open
new inlets to knowledge, and give new powers to
There are, in like manner, several moral
excellencies distributed among the different classes of a
community. It was said by Cujacius, that he never
read more than one book by which he was not
instructed; and he that shall inquire after virtue
with ardour and attention, will seldom find a man
by whose example or sentiments he may not be
Every profession has some essential and appropriate
virtue, without which there can be no hope
of honour or success, and which, as it is more or less
cultivated, confers within its sphere of activity
different degrees of merit and reputation. As the
astrologers range the subdivisions of mankind under
the planets which they suppose to influence their
lives, the moralist may distribute them according
to the virtues which they necessarily practise, and
consider them as distinguished by prudence or fortitude,
diligence or patience.
So much are the modes of excellence settled by
time and place, that men may be heard boasting in
one street of that which they would anxiously conceal
in another. The grounds of scorn and esteem,
the topicks of praise and satire, are varied according
to the several virtues or vices which the course of
life has disposed men to admire or abhor; but he who
is solicitous for his own improvement, must not be
limited by local reputation, but select from every
tribe of mortals their characteristical virtues, and
constellate in himself the scattered graces which
shine single in other men.
The chief praise to which a trader aspires is that
of punctuality, or an exact and rigorous observance
of commercial engagements; nor is there any vice of
which he so much dreads the imputation, as of
negligence and instability. This is a quality which the
interest of mankind requires to be diffused through
all the ranks of life, but which many seem to consider
as a vulgar and ignoble virtue, below the
ambition of greatness or attention of wit, scarcely
requisite among men of gaiety and spirit, and sold
at its highest rate when it is sacrificed to a frolick or
a jest.
Every man has daily occasion to remark what
vexations arise from this privilege of deceiving one
another. The active and vivacious have so long
disdained the restraints of truth, that promises and
appointments have lost their cogency, and both parties
neglect their stipulations, because each concludes
that they will be broken by the other.
Negligence is first admitted in small affairs, and
strengthened by petty indulgences. He that is not
yet hardened by custom, ventures not on the violation
of important engagements, but thinks himself
bound by his word in cases of property or danger,
though he allows himself to forget at what time he
is to meet ladies in the park, or at what tavern his
friends are expecting him.
This laxity of honour would be more tolerable, if
it could be restrained to the play-house, the
ballroom, or the card-table; yet even there it is
sufficiently troublesome, and darkens those moments
with expectation, suspense, and resentment, which
are set aside for pleasure, and from which we naturally
hope for unmingled enjoyment, and total relaxation.
But he that suffers the slightest breach in
his morality, can seldom tell what shall enter it, or
how wide it shall be made; when a passage is open,
the influx of corruption is every moment wearing
down opposition, and by slow degrees deluges the
Aliger entered the world a youth of lively
imagination, extensive views, and untainted principles.
His curiosity incited him to range from place to
place, and try all the varieties of conversation; his
elegance of address and fertility of ideas gained him
friends wherever he appeared; or at least he found
the general kindness of reception always shown to a
young man whose birth and fortune give him a
claim to notice, and who has neither by vice nor
folly destroyed his privileges. Aliger was pleased
with this general smile of mankind, and was industrious
to preserve it by compliance and officiousness,
but did not suffer his desire of pleasing to vitiate his
integrity. It was his established maxim, that a
promise is never to be broken; nor was it without
long reluctance that he once suffered himself to be
drawn away from a festal engagement by the
importunity of another company.
He spent the evening, as is usual in the rudiments
of vice, in perturbation and imperfect enjoyment,
and met his disappointed friends in the morning
with confusion and excuses. His companions, not
accustomed to such scrupulous anxiety, laughed at his
uneasiness, compounded the offence for a bottle,
gave him courage to break his word again, and again
levied the penalty. He ventured the same experiment
upon another society, and found them equally
ready to consider it as a venial fault, always incident
to a man of quickness and gaiety; till, by degrees,
he began to think himself at liberty to follow the
last invitation, and was no longer shocked at the
turpitude of falsehood. He made no difficulty to
promise his presence at distant places, and if
listlessness happened to creep upon him, he would sit at
home with great tranquillity, and has often sunk to
sleep in a chair, while he held ten tables in continual
expectations of his entrance.
It was so pleasant to live in perpetual vacancy,
that he soon dismissed his attention as an useless
incumbrance, and resigned himself to carelessness
and dissipation, without any regard to the future
or the past, or any other motive of action than the
impulse of a sudden desire, or the attraction of
immediate pleasure. The absent were immediately
forgotten, and the hopes or fears felt by others, had
no influence upon his conduct. He was in speculation
completely just, but never kept his promise to
a creditor; he was benevolent, but always deceived
those friends whom he undertook to patronise or
assist; he was prudent, but suffered his affairs to be
embarrassed for want of regulating his accounts at
stated times. He courted a young lady, and when
the settlements were drawn, took a ramble into the
country on the day appointed to sign them. He resolved
to travel, and sent his chests on shipboard,
but delayed to follow them till he lost his passage.
He was summoned as an evidence in a cause of great
importance, and loitered on the way till the trial
was past. It is said that when he had, with great
expense, formed an interest in a borough, his opponent
contrived, by some agents who knew his temper,
to lure him away on the day of election.
His benevolence draws him into the commission
of a thousand crimes, which others less kind or civil
would escape. His courtesy invites application; his
promises produce dependance; he has his pockets
filled with petitions, which he intends some time to
deliver and enforce, and his table covered with letters
of request, with which he purposes to comply; but
time slips imperceptibly away, while he is either idle
or busy; his friends lose their opportunities, and
charge upon him their miscarriages and calamities.
This character, however contemptible, is not
peculiar to Aliger. They whose activity of imagination
is often shifting the scenes of expectation, are
frequently subject to such sallies of caprice as make all
their actions fortuitous, destroy the value of their
friendship, obstruct the efficacy of their virtues, and
set them below the meanest of those that persist in
their resolutions, execute what they design, and
perform what they have promised.
No. 202. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 1752
Kaioe pantas auoeto catapronen upolambanei.
'O deoe metrioews prattwn periscelesteron
"Apanta t aoeniaraoe Dampria, peret. CALLIMACHUS.
From no affliction is the poor exempt,
He thinks each eye surveys him with contempt;
Unmanly poverty subdues the heart,
Cankers each wound, and sharpens ev'ry dart. F. LEWIS.
AMONG those who have endeavoured to promote
learning, and rectify judgment, it has
been long customary to complain of the abuse of
words, which are often admitted to signify things so
different, that, instead of assisting the understanding
as vehicles of knowledge, they produce errour,
dissention, and perplexity, because what is affirmed
in one sense, is received in another.
If this ambiguity sometimes embarrasses the most
solemn controversies, and obscures the demonstrations
of science, it may well be expected to infest
the pompous periods of declaimers, whose purpose
is often only to amuse with fallacies, and change the
colours of truth and falsehood; or the musical
compositions of poets, whose style is professedly figurative,
and whose art is imagined to consist in distorting
words from their original meaning.
There are few words of which the reader believes
himself better to know the import, than of POVERTY;
yet, whoever studies either the poets or philosophers,
will find such an account of the condition expressed
by that term as his experience or observation will
not easily discover to be true. Instead of the meanness,
distress, complaint, anxiety, and dependance,
which have hitherto been combined in his ideas of
poverty, he will read of content, innocence, and
cheerfulness, of health and safety, tranquillity and
freedom; of pleasures not known but to men
unencumbered with possessions; and of sleep that
sheds his balsamick anodynes only on the cottage.
Such are the blessings to be obtained by the
resignation of riches, that kings might descend from
their thrones, and generals retire from a triumph,
only to slumber undisturbed in the elysium of
If these authors do not deceive us, nothing can
be more absurd than that perpetual contest for
wealth which keeps the world in commotion; nor
any complaints more justly censured than those
which proceed from want of the gifts of fortune,
which we are taught by the great masters of moral
wisdom to consider as golden shackles, by which
the wearer is at once disabled and adorned; as
luscious poisons which may for a time please the
palate, but soon betray their malignity by langour and
by pain.
It is the great privilege of poverty to be happy
unenvied, to be healthful without physick, and
secure without a guard; to obtain from the bounty
of nature, what the great and wealthy are compelled
to procure by the help of artists and attendants,
of flatterers and spies.
But it will be found upon a nearer view, that
they who extol the happiness of poverty, do not
mean the same state with those who deplore its
miseries. Poets have their imaginations filled with
ideas of magnificence; and being accustomed to
contemplate the downfall of empires, or to contrive
forms of lamentations, for monarchs in distress,
rank all the classes of mankind in a state of poverty,
who make no approaches to the dignity of crowns.
To be poor, in the epick language, is only not to
command the wealth of nations, nor to have fleets
and armies in pay.
Vanity has perhaps contributed to this impropriety
of style. He that wishes to become a philosopher
at a cheap rate, easily gratifies his ambition by
submitting to poverty when he does not feel it,
and by boasting his contempt of riches when he has
already more than he enjoys. He who would shew
the extent of his views, and grandeur of his
conceptions, or discover his acquaintance with
splendour and magnificence, may talk like Cowley, of an
humble station and quiet obscurity, of the paucity
of nature's wants, and the inconveniences of superfluity,
and at last, like him, limit his desires to five
hundred pounds a year; a fortune, indeed, not
exuberant, when we compare it with the expenses of
pride and luxury, but to which it little becomes a
philosopher to affix the name of poverty, since no
man can, with any propriety, be termed poor, who
does not see the greater part of mankind richer
than himself.
As little is the general condition of human life
understood by the panegyrists and historians, who
amuse us with accounts of the poverty of heroes
and sages. Riches are of no value in themselves,
their use is discovered only in that which they
procure. They are not coveted, unless by narrow
understandings, which confound the means with the
end, but for the sake of power, influence, and
esteem; or, by some of less elevated and refined
sentiments, as necessary to sensual enjoyment.
The pleasures of luxury, many have, without
uncommon virtue, been able to despise, even when
affluence and idleness have concurred to tempt
them; and therefore he who feels nothing from
indigence but the want of gratifications which he
could not in any other condition make consistent
with innocence, has given no proof of eminent
patience. Esteem and influence every man desires,
but they are equally pleasing, and equally valuable,
by whatever means they are obtained; and whoever
has found the art of securing them without the help
of money, ought, in reality, to be accounted rich,
since he has all that riches can purchase to a wise
man. Cincinnatus, though he lived upon a few acres
cultivated by his own hand, was sufficiently removed
from all the evils generally comprehended
under the name of poverty, when his reputation
was such, that the voice of his country called him
from his farm to take absolute command into his
hand; nor was Diogenes much mortified by his
residence in a tub, where he was honoured with the
visit of Alexander the Great.
The same fallacy has conciliated veneration to the
religious orders. When we behold a man abdicating
the hope of terrestrial possessions, and precluding
himself, by an irrevocable vow, from the pursuit
and acquisition of all that his fellow-beings consider
as worthy of wishes and endeavours, we are
immediately struck with the purity, abstraction, and
firmness of his mind, and regard him as wholly
employed in securing the interests of futurity, and
devoid of any other care than to gain, at whatever
price, the surest passage to eternal rest.
Yet, what can the votary be justly said to have
lost of his present happiness? If he resides in a
convent, he converses only with men whose condition
is the same with his own; he has, from the munificence
of the founder, all the necessaries of life, and
is safe from that destitution, which Hooker declares
to be "such an impediment to virtue, as, till it be
removed, suffereth not the mind of man to admit
any other care." All temptations to envy and
competition are shut out from his retreat; he is not
pained with the sight of unattainable dignity, nor
insulted with the bluster of insolence, or the smile
of forced familiarity, If he wanders abroad, the
sanctity of his character amply compensates all other
distinctions; he is seldom seen but with reverence,
nor heard but with submission.
It has been remarked, that death, though often
defied in the field, seldom fails to terrify when it
approaches the bed of sickness in its natural horrour;
so poverty may easily be endured, while associated
with dignity and reputation, but will always be
shunned and dreaded, when it is accompanied with
ignominy and contempt.
No. 203. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 1752
Cum volet illa dies, quae nil nisi corporis hujus
Jus habett, incerti spatium mihi finiat oevi.
OVID. Met. xv. 873.
Come, soon or late, death's undetermin'd day,
This mortal being only can decay. WELSTED.
IT seems to be the fate of man to seek all his
consolations in futurity. The time present is seldom
able to fill desire or imagination with immediate
enjoyment, and we are forced to supply its
deficiencies by recollection or anticipation.
Every one has so often detected the fallaciousness
of hope, and the inconvenience of teaching
himself to expect what a thousand accidents may
preclude, that, when time has abated the confidence
with which youth rushes out to take possession of
the world, we endeavour, or wish, to find entertainment
in the review of life, and to repose upon
real facts, and certain experience. This is perhaps
one reason, among many, why age delights in
But so full is the world of calamity, that every
source of pleasure is polluted, and every retirement
of tranquillity disturbed. When time has supplied
us with events sufficient to employ our thoughts,
it has mingled them with so many disasters, that
we shrink from their remembrance, dread their
intrusion upon our minds, and fly from them as from
enemies that pursue us with torture.
No man past the middle point of life can sit down
to feast upon the pleasures of youth without finding
the banquet embittered by the cup of sorrow;
he may revive lucky accidents, and pleasing
extravagancies; many days of harmless frolick, or
nights of honest festivity, will perhaps recur; or, if
he has been engaged in scenes of action, and
acquainted with affairs of difficulty and vicissitudes
of fortune, he may enjoy the nobler pleasure of
looking back upon distress firmly supported, dangers
resolutely encountered, and opposition artfully
defeated. AEneas properly comforts his companions,
when, after the horrours of a storm, they have landed
on an unknown and desolate country, with the hope
that their miseries will be at some distant time
recounted with delight. There are few higher
gratifications, than that of reflection on surmounted evils,
when they are not incurred nor protracted by our
fault, and neither approach us with cowardice nor
But this felicity is almost always abated by the
reflection that they with whom we should be most
pleased to share it are now in the grave. A few years
make such havock in human generations, that we
soon see ourselves deprived of those with whom we
entered the world, and whom the participation of
pleasures or fatigues had endeared to our remembrance.
The man of enterprise recounts his adventures
and expedients, but is forced, at the close of
the relation, to pay a sigh to the names of those
that contributed to his success; he that passes his
life among the gayer part of mankind, has his
remembrance stored with remarks and repartees of
wits, whose sprightliness and merriment are now
lost in perpetual silence; the trader, whose industry
has supplied the want of inheritance, repines in
solitary plenty at the absence of companions, with whom
he had planned out amusements for his latter years;
and the scholar, whose merit, after a long series of
efforts, raises him from obscurity, looks round in
vain from his exaltation for his old friends or enemies,
whose applause or mortification would heighten his
Among Martial's requisites to happiness is, Res
non parta labore, sed relicta, "an estate not gained
by industry, but left by inheritance." It is necessary
to the completion of every good, that it be timely
obtained; for whatever comes at the close of life will
come too late to give much delight; yet all human
happiness has its defects. Of what we do not gain
for ourselves we have only a faint and imperfect
fruition, because we cannot compare the difference
between want and possession, or at least can derive
from it no conviction of our own abilities, nor any
increase of self-esteem; what we acquire by bravery
or science, by mental or corporal diligence, comes
at last when we cannot communicate, and therefore
cannot enjoy it.
Thus every period of life is obliged to borrow its
happiness from the time to come. In youth we have
nothing past to entertain us, and in age, we derive
little from retrospect but hopeless sorrow. Yet the
future likewise has its limits, which the imagination
dreads to approach, but which we see to be not far
distant. The loss of our friends and companions
impresses hourly upon us the necessity of our own
departure; we know that the schemes of man are
quickly at an end, that we must soon lie down in
the grave with the forgotten multitudes of former
ages, and yield our place to others, who, like us, shall
be driven a while by hope or fear about the surface
of the earth, and then like us be lost in the shades
of death.
Beyond this termination of our material existence,
we are therefore obliged to extend our hopes;
and almost every man indulges his imagination with
something, which is not to happen till he has changed
his manner of being: some amuse themselves with
entails and settlements, provide for the perpetuation
of families and honours, or contrive to obviate the
dissipation of the fortunes, which it has been their
business to accumulate; others, more refined or
exalted, congratulate their own hearts upon the
future extent of their reputation, the reverence of
distant nations, and the gratitude of unprejudiced
They whose souls are so chained down to coffers
and tenements, that they cannot conceive a state in
which they shall look upon them with less solicitude,
are seldom attentive or flexible to arguments; but
the votaries of fame are capable of reflection, and
therefore may be called to reconsider the probability
of their expectations.
Whether to be remembered in remote times be
worthy of a wise man's wish, has not yet been
satisfactorily decided; and, indeed, to be long
remembered, can happen to so small a number, that the
bulk of mankind has very little interest in the
question. There is never room in the world for more than
a certain quantity or measure of renown. The
necessary business of life, the immediate pleasures or
pains of every condition, leave us not leisure beyond
a fixed proportion for contemplations which do not
forcibly influence our present welfare. When this
vacuity is filled, no characters can be admitted into
the circulation of fame, but by occupying the place
of some that must be thrust into oblivion. The eye
of the mind, like that of the body, can only extend
its view to new objects, by losing sight of those
which are now before it.
Reputation is therefore a meteor, which blazes a
while and disappears for ever; and, if we except
a few transcendent and invincible names, which
no revolutions of opinion or length of time is able to
suppress; all those that engage our thoughts, or
diversify our conversation, are every moment hasting
to obscurity, as new favourites are adopted by
It is not therefore from this world, that any ray
of comfort can proceed, to cheer the gloom of the
last hour. But futurity has still its prospects; there
is yet happiness in reserve, which, if we transfer our
attention to it, will support us in the pains of disease,
and the langour of decay. This happiness we
may expect with confidence, because it is out of
the power of chance, and may be attained by all that
sincerely desire and earnestly pursue it. On this
therefore every mind ought finally to rest. Hope is
the chief blessing of man, and that hope only is
rational, of which we are certain that it cannot
deceive us.
No. 204. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 29, 1752
Nemo tam divos habuit favintis,
Crastinum ut possit sibi polliceri. SENECA.
Of heaven's protection who can be
So confident to utter this?--
To-morrow I will spend in bliss. F. LEWIS.
SEGED, lord of Ethiopia, to the inhabitants of
the world: To the sons of Presumption, humility
and fear; and to the daughters of Sorrow, content
and acquiescence.
Thus, in the twenty-seventh year of his reign,
spoke Seged, the monarch of forty nations, the
distributor of the waters of the Nile: "At length,
Seged, thy toils are at an end; thou hast reconciled
disaffection, thou hast suppressed rebellion, thou
hast pacified the jealousies of thy courtiers, thou
hast chased war from thy confines, and erected
fortresses in the lands of thine enemies. All who have
offended thee tremble in thy presence, and whereever
thy voice is heard, it is obeyed. Thy throne is
surrounded by armies, numerous as the locusts of
the summer, and resistless as the blasts of pestilence.
Thy magazines are stored with ammunition, thy
treasures overflow with the tribute of conquered
kingdoms. Plenty waves upon thy fields, and opulence
glitters in thy cities. Thy nod is as the earthquake
that shakes the mountains, and thy smile as
the dawn of the vernal day. In thy hand is the
strength of thousands, and thy health is the health
of millions. Thy palace is gladdened by the song of
praise, and thy path perfumed by the breath of
benediction. Thy subjects gaze upon thy greatness,
and think of danger or misery no more. Why,
Seged, wilt not thou partake the blessings thou
bestowest? Why shouldst thou only forbear to rejoice
in this general felicity? Why should thy face be
clouded with anxiety, when the meanest of those
who call thee sovereign, gives the day to festivity,
and the night to peace? At length, Seged, reflect
and be wise. What is the gift of conquest but safety?
Why are riches collected but to purchase happiness?"
Seged then ordered the house of pleasure, built
in an island of the lake of Dambea, to be prepared for
his reception. "I will retire," says he, "for ten days
from tumult and care, from counsels and decrees.
Long quiet is not the lot of the governours of nations,
but a cessation of ten days cannot be denied me.
This short interval of happiness may surely be secured
from the interruption of fear or perplexity, sorrow
or disappointment. I will exclude all trouble from
my abode, and remove from my thoughts whatever
may confuse the harmony of the concert, or abate the
sweetness of the banquet. I will fill the whole capacity
of my soul with enjoyment, and try what it is
to live without a wish unsatisfied."
In a few days the orders were performed, and
Seged hasted to the palace of Dambea, which stood
in an island cultivated only for pleasure, planted with
every flower that spreads its colours to the sun, and
every shrub that sheds fragrance in the air. In one
part of this extensive garden, were open walks for
excursions in the morning; in another, thick groves,
and silent arbours, and bubbling fountains for repose
at noon. All that could solace the sense, or flatter
the fancy, all that industry could extort from nature,
or wealth furnish to art, all that conquest could seize,
or beneficence attract, was collected together, and
every perception of delight was excited and gratified.
Into this delicious region Seged summoned all the
persons of his court, who seemed eminently qualified
to receive or communicate pleasure. His call was
readily obeyed; the young, the fair, the vivacious,
and the witty, were all in haste to be sated with
felicity. They sailed jocund over the lake, which
seemed to smooth its surface before them: their
passage was cheered with musick, and their hearts
dilated with expectation.
Seged, landing here with his band of pleasure,
determined from that hour to break off all acquaintance
with discontent, to give his heart for ten days
to ease and jollity, and then fall back to the common
state of man, and suffer his life to be diversified,
as before, with joy and sorrow.
He immediately entered his chamber, to consider
where he should begin his circle of happiness. He
had all the artists of delight before him, but knew
not whom to call, since he could not enjoy one, but
by delaying the performance of another. He chose
and rejected, he resolved and changed his resolution,
till his faculties were harassed, and his thoughts
confused; then returned to the apartment where his
presence was expected, with languid eyes and clouded
countenance, and spread the infection of uneasiness
over the whole assembly. He observed their depression,
and was offended, for he found his vexation
increased by those whom he expected to dissipate and
relieve it. He retired again to his private chamber,
and sought for consolation in his own mind; one
thought flowed in upon another; a long succession
of images seized his attention; the moments crept
imperceptibly away through the gloom of pensiveness,
till, having recovered his tranquillity, he lifted
his head, and saw the lake brightened by the setting
sun. "Such," said Seged, sighing, "is the longest
day of human existence: before we have learned to
use it, we find it at an end."
The regret which he felt for the loss of so great
a part of his first day, took from him all disposition
to enjoy the evening; and, after having endeavoured,
for the sake of his attendants, to force an air of gaiety,
and excite that mirth which he could not share, he
resolved to refer his hopes to the next morning,
and lay down to partake with the slaves of labour
and poverty the blessing of sleep.
He rose early the second morning, and resolved
now to be happy. He therefore fixed upon the gate
of the palace an edict, importing, that whoever,
during nine days, should appear in the presence of
the king with a dejected countenance, or utter any
expression of discontent or sorrow, should be driven
for ever from the palace of Dambea.
This edict was immediately made known in every
chamber of the court, and bower of the gardens.
Mirth was frighted away, and they who were before
dancing in the lawns, or singing in the shades, were at
once engaged in the care of regulating their looks,
that Seged might find his will punctually obeyed,
and see none among them liable to banishment.
Seged now met every face settled in a smile; but
a smile that betrayed solicitude, timidity, and
constraint. He accosted his favourites with familiarity
and softness; but they durst not speak without
premeditation, lest they should be convicted of
discontent or sorrow. He proposed diversions, to which
no objection was made, because objection would
have implied uneasiness; but they were regarded
with indifference by the courtiers, who had no other
desire than to signalize themselves by clamorous
exultation. He offered various topicks of conversation,
but obtained only forced jests, and laborious
laughter; and after many attempts to animate his
train to confidence and alacrity, was obliged to
confess to himself the impotence of command, and
resign another day to grief and disappointment.
He at last relieved his companions from their
terrours, and shut himself up in his chamber to ascertain,
by different measures, the felicity of the succeeding
days. At length he threw himself on the bed,
and closed his eyes, but imagined, in his sleep, that
his palace and gardens were overwhelmed by an
inundation, and waked with all the terrours of a man
struggling in the water. He composed himself again
to rest, but was affrighted by an imaginary irruption
into his kingdom; and striving, as is usual in dreams,
without ability to move, fancied himself betrayed
to his enemies, and again started up with horrour
and indignation.
It was now day, and fear was so strongly
impressed on his mind, that he could sleep no more.
He rose, but his thoughts were filled with the deluge
and invasion, nor was he able to disengage his attention,
or mingle with vacancy and ease in any amusement.
At length his perturbation gave way to reason,
and he resolved no longer to be harassed by visionary
miseries; but, before this resolution could be
completed, half the day had elapsed: he felt a new
conviction of the uncertainty of human schemes,
and could not forbear to bewail the weakness of that
being whose quiet was to be interrupted by vapours
of the fancy. Having been first disturbed by a dream,
he afterwards grieved that a dream could disturb
him. He at last discovered, that his terrours and
grief were equally vain, and that to lose the present
in lamenting the past, was voluntarily to protract a
melancholy vision. The third day was now declining,
and Seged again resolved to be happy on the morrow.
No. 205. TUESDAY, MARCH 3, 1752
Volat ambiguis
Mobilis alis hora, nec ulli
Praestat velox Fortuna fidem. SENECA. Hippol. 1141.
On fickle wings the minutes haste,
And fortune's favours never last. F. LEWIS.
ON the fourth morning Seged rose early, refreshed
with sleep, vigorous with health, and eager with
expectation. He entered the garden, attended by
the princes and ladies of his court, and seeing
nothing about him but airy cheerfulness, began to say to
his heart, "This day shall be a day of pleasure."
The sun played upon the water, the birds warbled
in the groves, and the gales quivered among the
branches. He roved from walk to walk as chance
directed him, and sometimes listened to the songs,
sometimes mingled with the dancers, sometimes let
loose his imagination in flights of merriment; and
sometimes uttered grave reflections, and sententious
maxims, and feasted on the admiration with which
they were received.
Thus the day rolled on, without any accident of
vexation, or intrusion of melancholy thoughts. All
that beheld him caught gladness from his looks, and
the sight of happiness conferred by himself filled
his heart with satisfaction: but having passed three
hours in this harmless luxury, he was alarmed on a
sudden by an universal scream among the women,
and turning back saw the whole assembly flying in
confusion. A young crocodile had risen out of the
lake, and was ranging the garden in wantonness or
hunger. Seged beheld him with indignation, as a
disturber of his felicity, and chased him back into
the lake, but could not persuade his retinue to stay,
or free their hearts from the terrour which had seized
upon them. The princesses inclosed themselves in
the palace, and could yet scarcely believe themselves
in safety. Every attention was fixed upon the late
danger and escape, and no mind was any longer at
leisure for gay sallies or careless prattle.
Seged had now no other employment than to
contemplate the innumerable casualties which lie in
ambush on every side to intercept the happiness of
man, and break in upon the hour of delight and
tranquillity. He had, however, the consolation of
thinking, that he had not been now disappointed
by his own fault, and that the accident which had
blasted the hopes of the day, might easily be
prevented by future caution.
That he might provide for the pleasure of the
next morning, he resolved to repeal his penal edict,
since he had already found that discontent and
melancholy were not to be frighted away by the
threats of authority, and that pleasure would only
reside where she was exempted from control. He
therefore invited all the companions of his retreat
to unbounded pleasantry, by proposing prizes for
those who should, on the following day, distinguish
themselves by any festive performances; the tables
of the antechamber were covered with gold and
pearls, and robes and garlands decreed the rewards
of those who could refine elegance or heighten
At this display of riches every eye immediately
sparkled, and every tongue was busied in celebrating
the bounty and magnificence of the emperour.
But when Seged entered, in hopes of uncommon
entertainment from universal emulation, he found
that any passion too strongly agitated, puts an end
to that tranquillity which is necessary to mirth, and
that the mind, that is to be moved by the gentle
ventilations of gaiety, must be first smoothed by a
total calm. Whatever we ardently wish to gain, we
must in the same degree be afraid to lose, and fear
and pleasure cannot dwell together.
All was now care and solicitude. Nothing was
done or spoken, but with so visible an endeavour at
perfection, as always failed to delight, though it
sometimes forced admiration: and Seged could not
but observe with sorrow, that his prizes had more
influence than himself. As the evening approached,
the contest grew more earnest, and those who were
forced to allow themselves excelled, began to
discover the malignity of defeat, first by angry glances,
and at last by contemptuous murmurs. Seged likewise
shared the anxiety of the day, for considering
himself as obliged to distribute with exact justice
the prizes which had been so zealously sought, he
durst never remit his attention, but passed his
time upon the rack of doubt, in balancing different
kinds of merit, and adjusting the claims of all the
At last, knowing that no exactness could satisfy
those whose hopes he should disappoint, and thinking
that on a day set apart for happiness, it would
be cruel to oppress any heart with sorrow, he declared
that all had pleased him alike, and dismissed
all with presents of equal value.
Seged soon saw that his caution had not been able
to avoid offence. They who had believed themselves
secure of the highest prizes, were not pleased to be
levelled with the crowd: and though, by the
liberality of the king, they received more than his
promise had entitled them to expect, they departed
unsatisfied, because they were honoured with no
distinction, and wanted an opportunity to triumph
in the mortification of their opponents. "Behold
here," said Seged, "the condition of him who places
his happiness in the happiness of others." He then
retired to meditate, and, while the courtiers were
repining at his distributions, saw the fifth sun go
down in discontent.
The next dawn renewed his resolution to be happy.
But having learned how little he could effect by
settled schemes or preparatory measures, he thought
it best to give up one day entirely to chance, and
left every one to please and be pleased his own way.
This relaxation of regularity diffused a general
complacence through the whole court, and the emperour
imagined that he had at last found the secret
of obtaining an interval of felicity. But as he was
roving in this careless assembly with equal carelessness,
he overheard one of his courtiers in a close arbour
murmuring alone: "What merit has Seged
above us, that we should thus fear and obey him, a
man, whom, whatever he may have formerly performed,
his luxury now shows to have the same
weakness with ourselves." This charge affected him
the more, as it was uttered by one whom he had
always observed among the most abject of his flatterers.
At first his indignation prompted him to severity;
but reflecting, that what was spoken without
intention to be heard, was to be considered as only
thought, and was perhaps but the sudden burst of
casual and temporary vexation, he invented some
decent pretence to send him away, that his retreat
might not be tainted with the breath of envy, and,
after the struggle of deliberation was past, and all
desire of revenge utterly suppressed, passed the evening
not only with tranquillity, but triumph, though none
but himself was conscious of the victory.
The remembrance of his clemency cheered the
beginning of the seventh day, and nothing happened
to disturb the pleasure of Seged, till, looking on the
tree that shaded him, he recollected, that, under a
tree of the same kind he had passed the night after
his defeat in the kingdom of Goiama. The reflection
on his loss, his dishonour, and the miseries which his
subjects suffered from the invader, filled him with
sadness. At last he shook of f the weight of sorrow,
and began to solace himself with his usual pleasures,
when his tranquillity was again disturbed by jealousies
which the late contest for the prizes had produced,
and which, having in vain tried to pacify
them by persuasion, he was forced to silence by
On the eighth morning Seged was awakened early
by an unusual hurry in the apartments, and inquiring
the cause, was told that the princess Balkis was
seized with sickness. He rose, and calling the
physicians, found that they had little hope of her
recovery. Here was an end of jollity: all his thoughts
were now upon his daughter, whose eyes he closed
on the tenth day.
Such were the days which Seged of Ethiopia had
appropriated to a short respiration from the fatigues
of war and the cares of government. This narrative
he has bequeathed to future generations, that no
man hereafter may presume to say, "This day shall
be a day of happiness."
No. 206. SATURDAY, MARCH 7, 1752
----Propositi nondum pudet, atque eadem est mens,
Ut bona summa putes, alienBut harden'd by affronts, and still the same,
Lost to all sense of honour and of fame,
Thou yet canst love to haunt the great man's board,
And think no supper good but with a lord. BOWLES.
WHEN Diogenes was once asked, what kind of
wine he liked best? he answered, "That
which is drunk at the cost of others."
Though the character of Diogenes has never
excited any general zeal of imitation, there are many
who resemble him in his taste of wine; many who
are frugal, though not abstemious; whose appetites,
though too powerful for reason, are kept under
restraint by avarice; and to whom all delicacies lose
their flavour, when they cannot be obtained but at
their own expense.
Nothing produces more singularity of manners
and inconstancy of life, than the conflict of opposite
vices in the same mind. He that uniformly pursues
any purpose, whether good or bad, has a settled
principle of action; and as he may always find
associates who are travelling the same way, is
countenanced by example, and sheltered in the multitude;
but a man, actuated at once by different desires,
must move in a direction peculiar to himself, and
suffer that reproach which we are naturally inclined
to bestow on those who deviate from the rest of the
world, even without inquiring whether they are
worse or better.
Yet this conflict of desires sometimes produces
wonderful efforts. To riot in far-fetched dishes, or
surfeit with unexhausted variety, and yet practise
the most rigid economy, is surely an art which may
justly draw the eyes of mankind upon them whose
industry or judgment has enabled them to attain it.
To him, indeed, who is content to break open the
chests, or mortgage the manours, of his ancestors,
that he may hire the ministers of excess at the highest
price, gluttony is an easy science; yet we often
hear the votaries of luxury boasting of the elegance
which they owe to the taste of others, relating with
rapture the succession of dishes with which their
cooks and caterers supply them; and expecting
their share of praise with the discoverers of arts and
the civilizers of nations. But to shorten the way to
convivial happiness, by eating without cost, is a
secret hitherto in few hands, but which certainly
deserves the curiosity of those whose principal
enjoyment is their dinner, and who see the sun rise
with no other hope than that they shall fill their
bellies before it sets.
Of them that have within my knowledge attempted
this scheme of happiness, the greater part
have been immediately obliged to desist; and some,
whom their first attempts flattered with success,
were reduced by degrees to a few tables, from which
they were at last chased to make way for others;
and having long habituated themselves to superfluous
plenty, growled away their latter years in
discontented competence.
None enter the regions of luxury with higher
expectations than men of wit, who imagine, that they
shall never want a welcome to that company whose
ideas they can enlarge, or whose imaginations they
can elevate, and believe themselves able to pay for
their wine with the mirth which it qualifies them
to produce. Full of this opinion, they crowd with
little invitation, wherever the smell of a feast allures
them, but are seldom encouraged to repeat their
visits, being dreaded by the pert as rivals, and hated
by the dull as disturbers of the company.
No man has been so happy in gaining and keeping
the privilege of living at luxurious houses as
Gulosulus, who, after thirty years of continual revelry,
has now established, by uncontroverted prescription,
his claim to partake of every entertainment,
and whose presence they who aspire to the praise
of a sumptuous table are careful to procure on a
day of importance, by sending the invitation a
fortnight before.
Gulosulus entered the world without any eminent
degree of merit; but was careful to frequent houses
where persons of rank resorted. By being often seen,
he became in time known; and, from sitting in the
same room, was suffered to mix in idle conversation,
or assisted to fill up a vacant hour, when better
amusement was not readily to be had. From the
coffee-house he was sometimes taken away to dinner;
and as no man refuses the acquaintance of him
whom he sees admitted to familiarity by others of
equal dignity, when he had been met at a few tables,
he with less difficulty found the way to more, till
at last he was regularly expected to appear wherever
preparations are made for a feast, within the
circuit of his acquaintance.
When he was thus by accident initiated in luxury,
he felt in himself no inclination to retire from
a life of so much pleasure, and therefore very
seriously considered how he might continue it. Great
qualities, or uncommon accomplishments, he did not
find necessary; for he had already seen that merit
rather enforces respect than attracts fondness; and
as he thought no folly greater than that of losing a
dinner for any other gratification, he often congratulated
himself, that he had none of that disgusting
excellence which impresses awe upon greatness, and
condemns its possessors to the society of those who
are wise or brave, and indigent as themselves.
Gulosulus, having never allotted much of his time
to books or meditation, had no opinion in philosophy
or politicks, and was not in danger of injuring his
interest by dogmatical positions or violent contradiction.
If a dispute arose, he took care to listen with
earnest attention; and, when either speaker grew
vehement and loud, turned towards him with eager
quickness, and uttered a short phrase of admiration,
as if surprised by such cogency of argument as he
had never known before. By this silent concession,
he generally preserved in either controvertist such
a conviction of his own superiority, as inclined him
rather to pity than irritate his adversary, and
prevented those outrages which are sometimes produced
by the rage of defeat, or petulance of triumph.
Gulosulus was never embarrassed but when he was
required to declare his sentiments before he had been
able to discover to which side the master of the
house inclined, for it was his invariable rule to adopt
the notions of those that invited him.
It will sometimes happen that the insolence of
wealth breaks into contemptuousness, or the turbulence
of wine requires a vent; and Gulosulus seldom
fails of being singled out on such emergencies, as
one on whom any experiment of ribaldry may be
safely tried. Sometimes his lordship finds himself
inclined to exhibit a specimen of raillery for the diversion
of his guests, and Gulosulus always supplies him
with a subject of merriment. But he has learned to
consider rudeness and indignities as familiarities that
entitle him to greater freedom: he comforts himself,
that those who treat and insult him pay for their
laughter, and that he keeps his money while they
enjoy their jest.
His chief policy consists in selecting some dish
from every course, and recommending it to the company,
with an air so decisive, that no one ventures
to contradict him. By this practice he acquires at a
feast a kind of dictatorial authority; his taste
becomes the standard of pickles and seasoning, and he
is venerated by the professors of epicurism, as the
only man who understands the niceties of cookery.
Whenever a new sauce is imported, or any
innovation made in the culinary system, he procures the
earliest intelligence, and the most authentick
receipt; and, by communicating his knowledge under
proper injunctions of secrecy, gains a right of tasting
his own dish whenever it is prepared, that he
may tell whether his directions have been fully
By this method of life Gulosulus has so impressed
on his imagination the dignity of feasting, that he
has no other topick of talk, or subject of meditation.
His calendar is a bill of fare; he measures the year
by successive dainties. The only common-places of
his memory are his meals; and if you ask him at what
time an event happened, he considers whether he
heard it after a dinner of turbot or venison. He
knows, indeed. that those who value themselves
upon sense, learning, or piety, speak of him with
contempt; but he considers them as wretches,
envious or ignorant, who do not know his happiness,
or wish to supplant him; and declares to his friends,
that he is fully satisfied with his own conduct, since
he has fed every day on twenty dishes, and yet
doubled his estate.
No. 207. TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 1752
Solve senescentem mature sanus equum, ne
Peccet ad extremum ridendus.---- HOR. Lib. i. Ep. i. 8.
The voice of reason cries with winning force,
Loose from the rapid car your aged horse,
Lest, in the race derided, left behind,
He drag his jaded limbs and burst his wind. FRANCIS.
SUCH is the emptiness of human enjoyment,
that we are always impatient of the present.
Attainment is followed by neglect, and possession
by disgust; and the malicious remark of the Greek
epigrammatist on marriage may be applied to every
other course of life, that its two days of happiness
are the first and the last.
Few moments are more pleasing than those in
which the mind is concerting measures for a new
undertaking. From the first hint that weakens the
fancy, till the hour of actual execution, all is
improvement and progress, triumph and felicity. Every
hour brings additions to the original scheme,
suggests some new expedient to secure success, or
discovers consequential advantages not hitherto
foreseen. While preparations are made, and materials
accumulated, day glides after day through elysian
prospects, and the heart dances to the song of hope.
Such is the pleasure of projecting, that many
content themselves with a succession of visionary
schemes, and wear out their allotted time in the calm
amusement of contriving what they never attempt
or hope to execute.
Others, not able to feast their imagination with
pure ideas, advance somewhat nearer to the grossness
of action, with great diligence collect whatever
is requisite to their design, and, after a thousand
researches and consultations, are snatched away by
death, as they stand in procinctu waiting for a proper
opportunity to begin.
If there were no other end of life, than to find
some adequate solace for every day, I know not
whether any condition could be preferred to that of
the man who involves himself in his own thoughts,
and never suffers experience to shew him the vanity
of speculation; for no sooner are notions reduced to
practice, than tranquillity and confidence forsake
the breast; every day brings its task, and often
without bringing abilities to perform it: difficulties
embarrass, uncertainty perplexes, opposition retards,
censure exasperates, or neglect depresses. We
proceed because we have begun; we complete our
design, that the labour already spent may not be
vain; but as expectation gradually dies away, the
gay smile of alacrity disappears, we are compelled
to implore severer powers, and trust the event to
patience and constancy.
When once our labour has begun, the comfort
that enables us to endure it is the prospect of its
end; for though in every long work there are some
joyous intervals of self-applause, when the attention
is recreated by unexpected facility, and the imagination
soothed by incidental excellencies; yet the toil
with which performance struggles after idea, is so
irksome and disgusting, and so frequent is the
necessity of resting below that perfection which we
imagined within our reach, that seldom any man
obtains more from his endeavours than a painful
conviction of his defects, and a continual resuscitation
of desires which he feels himself unable to
So certainly is weariness the concomitant of our
undertakings, that every man, in whatever he is
engaged, consoles himself with the hope of change; if
he has made his way by assiduity to publick
employment, he talks among his friends of the delight
of retreat; if by the necessity of solitary application
he is secluded from the world, he listens with a
beating heart to distant noises, longs to mingle with
living beings, and resolves to take hereafter his fill
of diversions, or display his abilities on the universal
theatre, and enjoy the pleasure of distinction and
Every desire, however innocent, grows dangerous,
as by long indulgence it becomes ascendant in the
mind. When we have been much accustomed to
consider any thing as capable of giving happiness, it
is not easy to restrain our ardour or forbear some
precipitation in our advances, and irregularity in our
pursuits. He that has cultivated the tree, watched the
swelling bud and opening blossom, and pleased himself
with computing how much every sun and shower
add to its growth, scarcely stays till the fruit has
obtained its maturity, but defeats his own cares by
eagerness to reward them. When we have diligently
laboured for any purpose, we are willing to believe
that we have attained it, and, because we have
already done much, too suddenly conclude that no
more is to be done.
All attraction is increased by the approach of the
attracting body. We never find ourselves so desirous
to finish, as in the latter part of our work, or so
impatient of delay, as when we know that delay cannot
be long. Thus unseasonable importunity of discontent
may be partly imputed to langour and weariness,
which must always oppress those more whose
toil has been longer continued; but the greater part
usually proceeds from frequent contemplation of
that ease which is now considered as within reach,
and which, when it has once flattered our hopes, we
cannot suffer to be withheld.
In some of the noblest compositions of wit, the
conclusion falls below the vigour and spirit of the
first books; and as a genius is not to be degraded
by the imputation of human failings, the cause of
this declension is commonly sought in the structure
of the work, and plausible reasons are given why in
the defective part less ornament was necessary, or
less could be admitted. But, perhaps, the author
would have confessed, that his fancy was tired, and
his perseverance broken; that he knew his design
to be unfinished, but that, when he saw the end so
near, he could no longer refuse to be at rest.
Against the instillations of this frigid opiate, the
heart should be secured by all the considerations
which once concurred to kindle the ardour of enterprise.
Whatever motive first incited action, has still
greater force to stimulate perseverance; since he
that might have lain still at first in blameless
obscurity, cannot afterwards desist but with infamy
and reproach. He, whom a doubtful promise of distant
good could encourage to set difficulties at
defiance, ought not to remit his vigour, when he has
almost obtained his recompense. To faint or loiter,
when only the last efforts are required, is to steer
the ship through tempests, and abandon it to the
winds in sight of land; it is to break the ground and
scatter the seed, and at last to neglect the harvest.
The masters of rhetorick direct, that the most
forcible arguments be produced in the latter part
of an oration, lest they should be effaced or perplexed
by supervenient images. This precept may be justly
extended to the series of life: nothing is ended with
honour, which does not conclude better than it began.
It is not sufficient to maintain the first vigour;
for excellence loses its effect upon the mind by
custom, as light after a time ceases to dazzle.
Admiration must be continued by that novelty which first
produced it, and how much soever is given, there
must always be reason to imagine that more remains.
We not only are most sensible of the last
impressions, but such is the unwillingness of mankind
to admit transcendant merit, that, though it be
difficult to obliterate the reproach of miscarriages by
any subsequent achievement, however illustrious,
yet the reputation raised by a long train of success
may be finally ruined by a single failure; for
weakness or errour will be always remembered by that
malice and envy which it gratifies.
For the prevention of that disgrace, which
lassitude and negligence may bring at last upon the
greatest performances, it is necessary to proportion
carefully our labour to our strength. If the design
comprises many parts, equally essential, and therefore
not to be separated, the only time for caution
is before we engage; the powers of the mind must
be then impartially estimated, and it must be
remembered that, not to complete the plan, is not to
have begun it; and that nothing is done, while any
thing is omitted.
But, if the task consists in the repetition of single
acts, no one of which derives its efficacy from the
rest, it may be attempted with less scruple, because
there is always opportunity to retreat with honour.
The danger is only, lest we expect from the world
the indulgence with which most are disposed to
treat themselves; and in the hour of listlessness
imagine, that the diligence of one day will atone
for the idleness of another, and that applause begun
by approbation will be continued by habit.
He that is himself weary will soon weary the
publick. Let him therefore lay down his employment,
whatever it be, who can no longer exert
his former activity or attention; let him not
endeavour to struggle with censure, or obstinately
infest the stage till a general hiss commands him
to depart.
No. 208. SATURDAY, MARCH 14, 1752
'Hr ti me catw elcet' a:.mousoi;
Ouc' umn eoeponoun, tos de m'
Eis eoemoioe anqrwpos trismurioi<.S> oi d' aoenariqmoi
Ouoedeis<.S> tat' auoed cai paraoe
Begone, ye blockheads, Herselitus cries,
And leave my labours to the learn'd and wise;
By wit, by knowledge, studious to be read,
I scorn the multitude, alive and dead.
TIME, which puts an end to all human pleasures
and sorrows, has likewise concluded the labours
of the Rambler. Having supported, for two years,
the anxious employment of a periodical writer, and
multiplied my essays to upwards of two hundred,
I have now determined to desist.
The reasons of this resolution it is of little
importance to declare, since justification is unnecessary
when no objection is made. I am far from
supposing, that the cessation of my performances
will raise any inquiry, for I have never been much
a favourite of the publick, nor can boast that, in
the progress of my undertaking, I have been animated
by the rewards of the liberal, the caresses of
the great, or the praises of the eminent.
But I have no design to gratify pride by
submission, or malice by lamentation; nor think it
reasonable to complain of neglect from those whose
regard I never solicited. If I have not been
distinguished by the distributors of literary honours, I
have seldom descended to the arts by which favour
is obtained. I have seen the meteors of fashions rise
and fall, without any attempt to add a moment to
their duration. I have never complied with temporary
curiosity, nor enabled my readers to discuss
the topick of the day; I have rarely exemplified
my assertions by living characters; in my papers,
no man could look for censures of his enemies, or
praises of himself; and they only were expected to
peruse them, whose passions left them leisure for
abstracted truth, and whom virtue could please by
its naked dignity.
To some, however, I am indebted for encouragement,
and to others for assistance. The number of
my friends was never great, but they have been
such as would not suffer me to think that I was
writing in vain, and I did not feel much dejection
from the want of popularity.
My obligations having not been frequent, my
acknowledgments may be soon despatched. I can
restore to all my correspondents their productions,
with little diminution of the bulk of my volumes,
though not without the loss of some pieces to
which particular honours have been paid.
The parts from which I claim no other praise
than that of having given them an opportunity of
appearing, are the four billets in the tenth paper,
the second letter in the fifteenth, the thirtieth, the
forty-fourth, the ninety-seventh, and the hundredth
papers, and the second letter in the hundred and
Having thus deprived myself of many excuses
which candour might have admitted for the
inequality of my compositions, being no longer able
to allege the necessity of gratifying correspondents,
the importunity with which publication was
solicited, or obstinacy with which correction was
rejected, I must remain accountable for all my faults,
and submit, without subterfuge, to the censures of
criticism, which, however, I shall not endeavour to
soften by a formal deprecation, or to overbear by the
influence of a patron. The supplications of an author
never yet reprieved him a moment from oblivion;
and, though greatness has sometimes sheltered guilt,
it can afford no protection to ignorance or dulness.
Having hitherto attempted only the propagation of
truth, I will not at last violate it by the confession
of terrours which I do not feel; having laboured to
maintain the dignity of virtue, I will not now
degrade it by the meanness of dedication.
The seeming vanity with which I have sometimes
spoken of myself, would perhaps require an apology,
were it not extenuated by the example of those who
have published essays before me, and by the privilege
which every nameless writer has been hitherto
allowed. "A mask," say Castiglione, "confers a
right of acting and speaking with less restraint, even
when the wearer happens to be known." He that
is discovered without his own consent, may claim
some indulgence, and cannot be rigorously called to
justify those sallies or frolicks which his disguise
must prove him desirous to conceal.
But I have been cautious lest this offense should
be frequently or grossly committed; for, as one of
the philosophers directs us to live with a friend, as
with one that is some time to become an enemy, I
have always thought it the duty of an anonymous
author to write, as if he expected to be hereafter
I am willing to flatter myself with hopes, that,
by collecting these papers, I am not preparing, for
my future life, either shame or repentance. That all
are happily imagined, or accurately polished, that
the same sentiments have not sometimes recurred, or
the same expressions been too frequently repeated,
I have not confidence in my abilities sufficient to
warrant. He that condemns himself to compose on
a stated day, will often bring to his task an attention
dissipated, a memory embarrassed, an imagination
overwhelmed, a mind distracted with anxieties,
a body languishing with disease: he will labour on
a barren topick, till it is too late to change it; or, in
the ardour of invention, diffuse his thoughts into
wild exuberance, which the pressing hour of publication
cannot suffer judgment to examine or reduce.
Whatever shall be the final sentence of mankind,
I have at least endeavoured to deserve their kindness.
I have laboured to refine our language to
grammatical purity, and to clear it from colloquial
barbarisms, licentious idioms, and irregular
combinations. Something, perhaps, I have added to the
elegance of its construction, and something to the
harmony of its cadence. When common words were
less pleasing to the ear, or less distinct in their
signification, I have familiarized the terms of
philosophy, by applying them to popular ideas, but have
rarely admitted any words not authorized by former
writers; for I believe that whoever knows the English
tongue in its present extent, will be able to express
his thoughts without further help from other nations.
As it has been my principal design to inculcate
wisdom or piety, I have allotted few papers to the
idle sports of imagination. Some, perhaps, may be
found, of which the highest excellence is harmless
merriment; but scarcely any man is so steadily
serious as not to complain, that the severity of
dictatorial instruction has been too seldom relieved, and
that he is driven by the sternness of the Rambler's
philosophy to more cheerful and airy companions.
Next to the excursions of fancy are the disquisitions
of criticism, which, in my opinion, is only to be
ranked among the subordinate and instrumental arts.
Arbitrary decision and general exclamation I have
carefully avoided, by asserting nothing without a
reason, and establishing all my principles of
judgment on unalterable and evident truth.
In the pictures of life I have never been so
studious of novelty or surprise, as to depart wholly
from all resemblance; a fault which writers
deservedly celebrated frequently commit, that they
may raise, as the occasion requires, either mirth or
abhorrence. Some enlargement may be allowed to
declamation, and some exaggeration to burlesque,
but as they deviate farther from reality, they become
less useful, because their lessons will fail of
application. The mind of the reader is carried away from
the contemplation of his own manner; he finds in
himself no likeness to the phantom before him; and
though he laughs or rages, is not reformed.
The essays professedly serious, if I have been able
to execute my own intentions, will be found exactly
conformable to the precepts of Christianity, without
any accommodation to the licentiousness and levity
of the present age. I therefore look back on this
part of my work with pleasure, which no blame or
praise of man shall diminish or augment. I shall
never envy the honours which wit and learning obtain
in any other cause, if I can be numbered among
the writers who have given ardour to virtue, and
confidence to truth.
Auoetn eoec macarwn aoentaxios eih aoemoib.
Celestial pow'rs! that piety regard,
From you my labours wait their last reward.
No. 34. SATURDAY, MARCH 3. 1753
Has toties optata exegit gloria poenas. JUV. Sat. x. 187.
Such fate pursues the votaries of praise.
Fleet Prison, Feb. 24.
TO a benevolent disposition, every state of life
will afford some opportunities of contributing to
the welfare of mankind. Opulence and splendour are
enabled to dispel the cloud of adversity, to dry up the
tears of the widow and the orphan, and to increase
the felicity of all around them: their example will
animate virtue, and retard the progress of vice. And
even indigence and obscurity, though without power
to confer happiness, may at least prevent misery,
and apprize those who are blinded by their passions,
that they are on the brink of irremediable calamity.
Pleased, therefore, with the thought of recovering
others from that folly which has embittered my
own days, I have presumed to address the ADVENTURER
from the dreary mansions of wretchedness
and despair, of which the gates are so wonderfully
constructed, as to fly open for the reception of
strangers, though they are impervious as a rock of
adamant to such as are within them:
----Facilis descensus Averni:
Noctes atque dies patet atri janua Ditis.
Sed revocare gradum, superasque evadere ad auras,
Hoc opus, hic labor est.-------- VIRG. AEn. vi. 126.
The gates of hell are open night and day;
Smooth the descent, and easy is the way:
But to return and view the cheerful skies;
In this the task and mighty labour lies. DRYDEN.
Suffer me to acquaint you, Sir, that I have
glittered at the ball, and sparkled in the circle; that I
have had the happiness to be the unknown favourite
of an unknown lady at the masquerade, have been
the delight of tables of the first fashion, and envy
of my brother beaux; and to descend a little lower,
it is, I believe, still remembered, that Messrs.
Velours and d'Espagne stand indebted for a great part
of their present influence at Guildhall, to the
elegance of my shape, and the graceful freedom of my
----Sed quae praeclara et prospera tanti,
Ut rebus laetis par sit mensura malorum? JUV. Sat. x. 97.
See the wild purchase of the bold and vain,
Where every bliss is bought with equal pain!
As I entered into the world very young, with an
elegant person and a large estate, it was not long
before I disentangled myself from the shackles of
religion; for I was determined to the pursuit of
pleasure, which according to my notions consisted
in the unrestrained and unlimited gratifications of
every passion and every appetite; and as this could
not be obtained under the frowns of a perpetual
dictator, I considered religion as my enemy; and
proceeding to treat her with contempt and derision,
was not a little delighted, that the unfashionableness
of her appearance, and the unanimated uniformity
of her motions, afforded frequent opportunities for
the sallies of my imagination.
Conceiving now that I was sufficiently qualified
to laugh away scruples, I imparted my remarks to
those among my female favourites, whose virtue I
intended to attack; for I was well assured, that pride
would be able to make but a weak defence, when
religion was subverted; nor was my success below
my expectation: the love of pleasure is too strongly
implanted in the female breast, to suffer them scrupulously
to examine the validity of arguments designed
to weaken restraint; all are easily led to
believe, that whatever thwarts their inclination must
be wrong: little more, therefore, was required, than
by the addition of some circumstances, and the
exaggeration of others, to make merriment supply the
place of demonstration; nor was I so senseless as to
offer arguments to such as could not attend to them,
and with whom a repartee or catch would more
effectually answer the same purpose. This being
effected, there remained only "the dread of the
world:" but Roxana soared too high, to think the
opinion of others worthy her notice; Laetitia seemed
to think of it only to declare, that "if all her hairs
were worlds," she should reckon them "well lost
for love;" and Pastorella fondly conceived, that she
could dwell for ever by the side of a bubbling fountain,
content with her swain and fleecy care; without
considering that stillness and solitude can afford
satisfaction only to innocence.
It is not the desire of new acquisitions, but the
glory of conquests, that fires the soldier's breast; as
indeed the town is seldom worth much, when it has
suffered the devastations of a siege; so that though
I did not openly declare the effects of my own
prowess, which is forbidden by the laws of honour, it
cannot be supposed that I was very solicitous to
bury my reputation, or to hinder accidental discoveries.
To have gained one victory, is an inducement
to hazard a second engagement: and though the
success of the general should be a reason for increasing
the strength of the fortification, it becomes, with
many, a pretence for an immediate surrender, under
the notion that no power is able to withstand so
formidable an adversary; while others brave the danger,
and think it mean to surrender, and dastardly to fly.
Melissa, indeed, knew better; and though she could
not boast the apathy, steadiness, and inflexibility of a
Cato, wanted not the more prudent virtue of Scipio,
and gained the victory by declining the contest.
You must not, however, imagine, that I was,
during this state of abandoned libertinism, so fully
convinced of the fitness of my own conduct, as to be
free from uneasiness. I knew very well, that I might
justly be deemed the pest of society, and that such
proceedings must terminate in the destruction of
my health and fortune; but to admit thoughts of this
kind was to live upon the rack: I fled, therefore, to
the regions of mirth and jollity, as they are called,
and endeavoured with Burgundy, and a continual
rotation of company, to free myself from the pangs
of reflection. From these orgies we frequently sallied
forth in quest of adventures, to the no small terrour
and consternation of all the sober stragglers that
came in our way: and though we never injured, like
our illustrious progenitors, the Mohocks, either life
or limbs; yet we have in the midst of Covent Garden
buried a tailor, who had been troublesome to
some of our fine gentlemen, beneath a heap of
cabbage-leaves and stalks, with this conceit,
Satia te caule quem semper cupisti.
Glut yourself with cabbage, of which you have always been
There can be no reason for mentioning the common
exploits of breaking windows and bruising the
watch; unless it be to tell you of the device of
producing before the justice broken lanterns, which have
been paid for an hundred times; or their appearances
with patches on their heads, under pretence of being
cut by the sword that was never drawn: nor need I
say any thing of the more formidable attack of
sturdy chairmen, armed with poles; by a slight stroke
of which, the pride of Ned Revel's face was at once
laid flat, and that effected in an instant, which its
most mortal foe had for years assayed in vain. I shall
pass over the accidents that attended attempts to
scale windows, and endeavours to dislodge signs
from their hooks: there are many "hair-breadth
'scapes," besides those in the "imminent deadly
breach;" but the rake's life, though it be equally
hazardous with that of the soldier, is neither
accompanied with present honour nor with pleasing
retrospect; such is, and such ought to be, the difference
between the enemy and the preserver of his country.
Amidst such giddy and thoughtless extravagance,
it will not seem strange, that I was often the
dupe of coarse flattery. When Mons. L'Allonge
assured me, that I thrust quart over arm better than
any man in England, what could I less than present
him with a sword that cost me thirty pieces? I was
bound for a hundred pounds for Tom Trippet,
because he had declared that he would dance a minuet
with any man in the three kingdoms except myself.
But I often parted with money against my inclination,
either because I wanted the resolution to refuse,
or dreaded the appellation of a niggardly fellow;
and I may be truly said to have squandered
my estate, without honour, without friends, and
without pleasure. The last may, perhaps, appear
strange to men unacquainted with the masquerade
of life: I deceived others, and I endeavoured to
deceive myself; and have worn the face of pleasantry
and gaiety, while my heart suffered the most
exquisite torture.
By the instigation and encouragement of my
friends, I became at length ambitious of a seat in
parliament; and accordingly set out for the town
of Wallop in the west, where my arrival was
welcomed by a thousand throats, and I was in three
days sure of a majority: but after drinking out one
hundred and fifty hogsheads of wine, and bribing
two-thirds of the corporation twice over, I had the
mortification to find that the borough had been
before sold to Mr. Courtly.
In a life of this kind, my fortune, though
considerable, was presently dissipated; and as the
attraction grows more strong the nearer any body
approaches the earth, when once a man begins to
sink into poverty, he falls with velocity always
increasing; every supply is purchased at a higher and
higher price, and every office of kindness obtained
with greater and greater difficulty. Having now
acquainted you with my state of elevation, I shall, if
you encourage the continuance of my correspondence,
shew you by what steps I descended from a
first floor in Pall-Mall to my present habitation[e].
I am, Sir,
Your humble servant,
[e] For an account of the disputes raised on this paper, and on
the other letters of Misargyrus, see Preface.
No. 39. TUESDAY, MARCH 20, 1753
--'Oduseuoes fulloisi caluyato' t d' ar' 'Aq
"Gpnon eoep' ', ina min pauseie tacista
Duspon.-------- HOM. E'. 491.
--Pallas pour'd sweet slumbers on his soul;
And balmy dreams, the gift of soft repose,
Calm'd all his pains, and banish'd all his woes. POPE.
IF every day did not produce fresh instances of
the ingratitude of mankind, we might, perhaps,
be at a loss, why so liberal and impartial a
benefactor as sleep, should meet with so few historians
or panegyrists. Writers are so totally absorbed by
the business of the day, as never to turn their
attention to that power, whose officious hand so
seasonably suspends the burthen of life; and without
whose interposition man would not be able to endure
the fatigue of labour, however rewarded, or
the struggle with opposition, however successful.
Night, though she divides to many the longest
part of life, and to almost all the most innocent and
happy, is yet unthankfully neglected, except by
those who pervert her gifts.
The astronomers, indeed, expect her with
impatience, and felicitate themselves upon her arrival:
Fontenelle has not failed to celebrate her praises;
and to chide the sun for hiding from his view the
worlds, which he imagines to appear in every
constellation. Nor have the poets been always deficient
in her praises: Milton has observed of the night,
that it is "the pleasant time, the cool, the silent."
These men may, indeed, well be expected to pay
particular homage to night; since they are indebted
to her, not only for cessation of pain, but increase
of pleasure; not only for slumber, but for knowledge.
But the greater part of her avowed votaries are the
sons of luxury; who appropriate to festivity the
hours designed for rest; who consider the reign of
pleasure as commencing when day begins to withdraw
her busy multitudes, and ceases to dissipate
attention by intrusive and unwelcome variety; who
begin to awake to joy when the rest of the world
sinks into insensibility; and revel in the soft affluence
of flattering and artifical lights, which "more shadowy
set off the face of things."
Without touching upon the fatal consequences of
a custom, which, as Ramazzini observes, will be for
ever condemned and for ever retained; it may be
observed, that however sleep may be put off from
time to time, yet the demand is of so importunate a
nature, as not to remain long unsatisfied: and if, as
some have done, we consider it as the tax of life, we
cannot but observe it as a tax that must be paid,
unless we could cease to be men; for Alexander
declared, that nothing convinced him that he was not a
divinity, but his not being able to live without sleep.
To live without sleep in our present fluctuating
state, however desirably it might seem to the lady in
Clelia, can surely be the wish only of the young or
the ignorant; to every one else, a perpetual vigil will
appear to be a state of wretchedness, second only
to that of the miserable beings, whom Swift has in
his travels so elegantly described, as "supremely
cursed with immortality."
Sleep is necessary to the happy to prevent satiety,
and to endear life by a short absence; and to the
miserable, to relieve them by intervals of quiet. Life
is to most, such as could not be endured without
frequent intermission of existence: Homer, therefore,
has thought it an office worthy of the goddess
of wisdom, to lay Ulysses asleep when landed on
It is related of Barretier, whose early advances in
literature scarce any human mind has equalled, that
he spent twelve hours of the four-and-twenty in
sleep: yet this appears from the bad state of his
health, and the shortness of his life, to have been
too small a respite for a mind so vigorously and
intensely employed: it is to be regretted, therefore,
that he did not exercise his mind less, and his body
more: since by this means, it is highly probable,
that though he would not then have astonished with
the blaze of a comet, he would yet have shone with
the permanent radiance of a fixed star.
Nor should it be objected, that there have been
many men who daily spend fifteen or sixteen hours
in study: for by some of whom this is reported it
has never been done; others have done it for a short
time only; and of the rest it appears, that they
employed their minds in such operations as required
neither celerity nor strength, in the low drudgery of
collating copies, comparing authorities, digesting
dictionaries, or accumulating compilations.
Men of study and imagination are frequently
upbraided by the industrious and plodding sons of care,
with passing too great a part of their life in a state
of inaction. But these defiers of sleep seem not to
remember that though it must be granted them that
they are crawling about before the break of day, it
can seldom be said that they are perfectly awake;
they exhaust no spirits, and require no repairs; but
lie torpid as a toad in marble, or at least are known
to live only by an inert and sluggish loco-motive
faculty, and may be said, like a wounded snake, to
"drag their slow length along."
Man has been long known among philosophers
by the appellation of the microcosm, or epitome of
the world: the resemblance between the great and
little world might, by a rational observer, be detailed
to many particulars; and to many more by a fanciful
speculatist. I know not in which of these two classes
I shall be ranged for observing, that as the total
quantity of light and darkness allotted in the course
of the year to every region of the earth is the same,
though distributed at various times and in different
portions; so, perhaps, to each individual of the
human species, nature has ordained the same quantity
of wakefulness and sleep; though divided by
some into a total quiescence and vigorous exertion
of their faculties, and, blended by others in a kind of
twilight of existence, in a state between dreaming
and reasoning, in which they either think without
action, or act without thought.
The poets are generally well affected to sleep: as
men who think with vigour, they require respite from
thought; and gladly resign themselves to that gentle
power, who not only bestows rest, but frequently
leads them to happier regions, where patrons are
always kind, and audiences are always candid; where
they are feasted in the bowers of imagination, and
crowned with flowers divested of their prickles, and
laurels of unfading verdure.
The more refined and penetrating part of
mankind, who take wide surveys of the wilds of life, who
see the innumerable terrours and distresses that are
perpetually preying on the heart of man, and discern
with unhappy perspicuity, calamities yet latent in
their causes, are glad to close their eyes upon the
gloomy prospect, and lose in a short insensibility
the remembrance of others' miseries and their own.
The hero has no higher hope, than that, after having
routed legions after legions, and added kingdom to
kingdom, he shall retire to milder happiness, and
close his days in social festivity. The wit or the sage
can expect no greater happiness, than that, after
having harassed his reason in deep researches, and
fatigued his fancy in boundless excursions, he shall
sink at night in the tranquillity of sleep.
The poets, among all those that enjoy the blessings
of sleep, have been least ashamed to acknowledge
their benefactor. How much Statius considered
the evils of life as assuaged and softened by the balm
of slumber, we may discover by that pathetick
invocation, which he poured out in his waking nights:
and that Cowley, among the other felicities of his
darling solitude, did not forget to number the
privilege of sleeping without disturbance, we may learn
from the rank that he assigns among the gifts of
nature to the poppy, "which is scattered," says he,
"over the fields of corn, that all the needs of man
may be easily satisfied, and that bread and sleep may
be found together."
Si quis invisum Cereri benignae
Me putat germen, vehementer errat;
Illa me in partem recipit libenter
Fertilis agri.
Meque frumentumque simul per omnes
Consulens mundo Dea spargit oras;
Creseite, O! dixit, duo magna sustentacula
Carpe, mortalis, mea dona laetus,
Carpe, nec plantas alias require,
Sed satur panis, satur et soporis,
Caetera sperne.
He wildly errs who thinks I yield
Precedence in the well-cloth'd field,
Tho' mix'd with wheat I grow:
Indulgent Ceres knew my worth,
And to adorn the teeming earth,
She bade the Poppy blow.
Nor vainly gay the sight to please,
But blest with pow'r mankind to ease,
The goddess saw me rise:
"Thrive with the life-supporting grain,"
She cried, "the solace of the swain,
The cordial of his eyes.
Seize, happy mortal, seize the good;
My hand supplies thy sleep and food,
And makes thee truly blest:
With plenteous meals enjoy the day,
In slumbers pass the night away,
And leave to fate the rest." C. B.
Sleep, therefore, as the chief of all earthly
blessings, is justly appropriated to industry and
temperance; the refreshing rest, and the peaceful night,
are the portion only of him who lies down weary
with honest labour, and free from the fumes of
indigested luxury; it is the just doom of laziness and
gluttony, to be inactive without ease, and drowsy
without tranquillity.
Sleep has often been mentioned as the image of
death[f]; "so like it," says Sir Thomas Brown, "that
I dare not trust it without my prayers:" their
resemblance is, indeed, apparent and striking; they
both, when they seize the body, leave the soul at
liberty: and wise is he that remembers of both, that
they can be safe and happy only by virtue.
[f] Lovely sleep! thou beautiful image of terrible death
Be thou my pillow-companion, my angel of rest!
Come, O sleep! for thine are the joys of living and dying:
Life without sorrow, and death with no anguish, no pain.
From the German of Schmidt.
No. 41. TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 1753
--------Si mutabile pectus
Est tibi, consiliis, non curribus, utere nostris;
Dum potes, et solidis etiam num sedibus adstas,
Dumque male optatos nondum premis inscius axes.
OVID. Met. ii. 143.
--------Th' attempt forsake,
And not my chariot but my counsel take;
While yet securely on the earth you stand;
Nor touch the horses with too rash a hand. ADDISON.
Fleet, March 24.
I NOW send you the sequel of my story, which had
not been so long delayed, if I could have brought
myself to imagine, that any real impatience was
felt for the fate of Misargyrus; who has travelled no
unbeaten track to misery, and consequently can
present the reader only with such incidents as occur
in daily life.
You have seen me, Sir, in the zenith of my glory,
not dispensing the kindly warmth of an all-cheering
sun: but, like another Phaevery thing round me. I shall proceed, therefore,
to finish my career, and pass as rapidly as possible
through the remaining vicissitudes of my life.
When I first began to be in want of money, I
made no doubt of an immediate supply. The newspapers
were perpetually offering directions to men,
who seemed to have no other business than to
gather heaps of gold for those who place their
supreme felicity in scattering it. I posted away,
therefore, to one of these advertisers, who by his proposals,
seemed to deal in thousands; and was not a little
chagrined to find, that this general benefactor would
have nothing to do with any larger sum than thirty
pounds, nor would venture that without a joint note
from myself and a reputable house keeper, or for a
longer time than three months.
It was yet not so bad with me, as that I needed
to solicit surety for thirty pounds: yet partly from
the greediness that extravagance always produces,
and partly from a desire of seeing the humour of a
petty usurer, a character of which I had hitherto
lived in ignorance, I condescended to listen to his
terms. He proceeded to inform me of my great
felicity in not falling into the hands of an
extortioner; and assured me, that I should find him
extremely moderate in his demands: he was not,
indeed, certain that he could furnish me with the
whole sum, for people were at this particular time
extremely pressing and importunate for money:
yet, as I had the appearance of a gentleman, he
would try what he could do, and give me his answer
in three days.
At the expiration of the time, I called upon him
again; and was again informed of the great demand
for money, and that, "money was money now:" he
then advised me to be punctual in my payment, as
that might induce him to befriend me hereafter;
and delivered me the money, deducting at the rate
of five and thirty per cent. with another panegyrick
upon his own moderation.
I will not tire you with the various practices of
usurious oppression; but cannot omit my transaction
with Squeeze on Tower-hill, who, finding me a
young man of considerable expectations, employed
an agent to persuade me to borrow five hundred
pounds, to be refunded by an annual payment of
twenty per cent. during the joint lives of his
daughter Nancy Squeeze and myself. The negociator
came prepared to enforce his proposal with all his
art; but, finding that I caught his offer with the
eagerness of necessity, he grew cold and languid;
"he had mentioned it out of kindness; he would
try to serve me: Mr. Squeeze was an honest man,
but extremely cautious." In three days he came
to tell me, that his endeavours had been ineffectual,
Mr. Squeeze having no good opinion of my
life; but that there was one expedient remaining:
Mrs. Squeeze could influence her husband, and
her good will might be gained by a compliment.
I waited that afternoon on Mrs. Squeeze, and
poured out before her the flatteries which usually
gain access to rank and beauty: I did not then
know, that there are places in which the only
compliment is a bribe. Having yet credit with a
jeweller, I afterwards procured a ring of thirty guineas,
which I humbly presented, and was soon admitted
to a treaty with Mr. Squeeze. He appeared peevish
and backward, and my old friend whispered me,
that he would never make a dry bargain: I therefore
invited him to a tavern. Nine times we met on
the affair; nine times I paid four pounds for the
supper and claret; and nine guineas I gave the
agent for good offices. I then obtained the money,
paying ten per cent. advance; and at the tenth
meeting gave another supper, and disbursed fifteen
pounds for the writings.
Others who styled themselves brokers, would
only trust their money upon goods: that I might,
therefore, try every art of expensive folly, I took a
house and furnished it. I amused myself with
despoiling my moveables of their glossy appearance,
for fear of alarming the lender with suspicions: and
in this I succeeded so well, that he favoured me
with one hundred and sixty pounds upon that
which was rated at seven hundred. I then found
that I was to maintain a guardian about me to
prevent the goods from being broken or removed.
This was, indeed, an unexpected tax; but it was too
late to recede: and I comforted myself, that I might
prevent a creditor, of whom I had some apprehensions,
from seizing, by having a prior execution always
in the house.
By such means I had so embarrassed myself, that
my whole attention was engaged in contriving excuses,
and raising small sums to quiet such as words
would no longer mollify. It cost me eighty pounds
in presents to Mr. Leech the attorney, for his
forbearance of one hundred, which he solicited me to
take when I had no need. I was perpetually harassed
with importunate demands, and insulted by
wretches, who a few months before would not have
dared to raise their eyes from the dust before me.
I lived in continual terrour, frighted by every noise
at the door, and terrified at the approach of every
step quicker than common. I never retired to rest
without feeling the justness of the Spanish proverb,
"Let him who sleeps too much, borrow the pillow
of a debtor:" my solicitude and vexation kept me
long waking; and when I had closed my eyes, I
was pursued or insulted by visionary bailiffs.
When I reflected upon the meanness of the shifts
I had reduced myself to, I could not but curse the
folly and extravagance that had overwhelmed me
in a sea of troubles, from which it was highly
improbable that I should ever emerge. I had some
time lived in hopes of an estate, at the death of
my uncle; but he disappointed me by marrying
his housekeeper; and, catching an opportunity soon
after of quarrelling with me, for settling twenty
pounds a year upon a girl whom I had seduced,
told me that he would take care to prevent his
fortune from being squandered upon prostitutes.
Nothing now remained, but the chance of
extricating myself by marriage; a scheme which, I
flattered myself, nothing but my present distress would
have made me think on with patience. I determined,
therefore, to look out for a tender novice, with a
large fortune, at her own disposal; and accordingly
fixed my eyes upon Miss Biddy Simper. I had now
paid her six or seven visits; and so fully convinced
her of my being a gentleman and a rake, that I
made no doubt that both her person and fortune
would soon be mine.
At this critical time, Miss Gripe called upon me,
in a chariot bought with my money, and loaded
with trinkets that I had, in my days of affluence,
lavished on her. Those days were now over; and
there was little hope that they would ever return.
She was not able to withstand the temptation of
ten pounds that Talon the bailiff offered her, but
brought him into my apartment disguised in a livery;
and taking my sword to the window, under pretence
of admiring the workmanship, beckoned him to
seize me.
Delay would have been expensive without use,
as the debt was too considerable for payment or
bail: I, therefore, suffered myself to be immediately
conducted to gaol.
Vestibulum ante ipsum, primisque in faucibus Orci,
Luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia cureae:
Pallentesque habitant morbi, tristisque senectus,
Et metus, et malesuada fames, et turpis egestas.
VIRG. AEn. vi. 273.
Just in the gate and in the jaws of hell,
Revengeful cares and sullen sorrows dwell;
And pale diseases, and repining age;
Want, fear, and famine's unresisted rage. DRYDEN.
Confinement of any kind is dreadful; a prison is
sometimes able to shock those, who endure it in a
good cause: let your imagination, therefore, acquaint
you with what I have not words to express, and
conceive, if possible, the horrours of imprisonment
attended with reproach and ignominy, of involuntary
association with the refuse of mankind, with
wretches who were before too abandoned for society,
but, being now freed from shame or fear, are hourly
improving their vices by consorting with each other.
There are, however, a few, whom, like myself,
imprisonment has rather mortified than hardened:
with these only I converse; and of these you may,
perhaps, hereafter receive some account from
Your humble servant,
No. 45. TUESDAY, APRIL 10, 1753
Nulla fides regni sociis, omnisque potestas
Impatiens consortis erit.--------
LUCAN. Lib. i. 92.
No faith of partnership dominion owns:
Still discord hovers o'er divided thrones.
IT is well known, that many things appear plausible
in speculation, which can never be reduced to
practice; and that of the numberless projects that
have flattered mankind with theoretical speciousness,
few had served any other purpose than to show
the ingenuity of their contrivers. A voyage to the
moon, however romantick and absurd the scheme
may now appear, since the properties of air have
been better understood, seemed highly probable
to many of the aspiring wits in the last century,
who began to dote upon their glossy plumes, and
fluttered with impatience for the hour of their
------------Pereunt vestigia mille
Ante fugam, absentemque ferit gravis ungula campum.
Hills, vales and floods appear already crost;
And, ere he starts, a thousand steps are lost. POPE.
Among the fallacies which only experience can
detect, there are some, of which scarcely experience
itself can destroy the influence; some which, by a
captivating show of indubitable certainty, are
perpetually gaining upon the human mind; and which,
though every trial ends in disappointment, obtain
new credit as the sense of miscarriage wears gradually
away, persuade us to try again what we have
tried already, and expose us by the same failure to
double vexation.
Of this tempting, this delusive kind, is the
expectation of great performances by confederated
strength. The speculatist, when he has carefully
observed how much may be performed by a single
hand, calculates by a very easy operation the force
of thousands, and goes on accumulating power till
resistance vanishes before it, then rejoices in the
success of his new scheme, and wonders at the folly or
idleness of former ages, who have lived in want
of what might so readily be procured, and suffered
themselves to be debarred from happiness by obstacles
which one united effort would have so easily
But this gigantick phantom of collective power
vanishes at once into air and emptiness, at the first
attempt to put it into action. The different apprehensions,
the discordant passions, the jarring interests of
men, will scarcely permit that many should unite in
one undertaking.
Of a great and complicated design, some will never
be brought to discern the end; and of the several
means by which it may be accomplished, the choice
will be a perpetual subject of debate, as every man
is swayed in his determination by his own knowledge
or convenience. In a long series of action some
will languish with fatigue, and some be drawn of
by present gratifications; some will loiter because
others labour, and some will cease to labour because
others loiter: and if once they come within prospect
of success and profit, some will be greedy and
others envious; some will undertake more than they
can perform, to enlarge their claims of advantage;
some will perform less than they undertake, lest
their labours should chiefly turn to the benefit of
The history of mankind informs us that a single
power is very seldom broken by a confederacy. States
of different interests, and aspects malevolent to each
other, may be united for a time by common distress;
and in the ardour of self-preservation fall unanimously
upon an enemy, by whom they are all equally
endangered. But if their first attack can be
withstood, time will never fail to dissolve their union:
success and miscarriage will be equally destructive:
after the conquest of a province, they will quarrel in
the division; after the loss of a battle, all will be
endeavouring to secure themselves by abandoning
the rest.
From the impossibility of confining numbers to
the constant and uniform prosecution of a common
interest, arises the difficulty of securing subjects
against the encroachment of governours. Power is
always gradually stealing away from the many to the
few, because the few are more vigilant and consistent;
it still contracts to a smaller number, till in time
it centres in a single person.
Thus all the forms of governments instituted
among mankind, perpetually tend towards monarchy;
and power, however diffused through the
whole community, is, by negligence or corruption,
commotion or distress, reposed at last in the chief
"There never appear," says Swift, "more than
five or six men of genius in an age; but if they were
united, the world could not stand before them."
It is happy, therefore, for mankind, that of this
union there is no probability. As men take in a
wider compass of intellectual survey, they are more
likely to choose different objects of pursuit; as they
see more ways to the same end, they will be less
easily persuaded to travel together; as each is better
qualified to form an independent scheme of private
greatness, he will reject with greater obstinacy the
project of another; as each is more able to distinguish
himself as the head of a party, he will less
readily be made a follower or an associate.
The reigning philosophy informs us, that the vast
bodies which constitute the universe, are regulated
in their progress through the ethereal spaces by the
perpetual agency of contrary forces; by one of which
they are restrained from deserting their orbits, and
losing themselves in the immensity of heaven;
and held off by the other from rushing together,
and clustering round their centre with everlasting
The same contrariety of impulse may be perhaps
discovered in the motions of men: we are formed
for society, not for combination; we are equally
unqualified to live in a close connexion with our
fellow-beings, and in total separation from them;
we are attracted towards each other by general
sympathy, but kept back from contact by private
Some philosophers have been foolish enough to
imagine, that improvements might be made in the
system of the universe, by a different arrangement
of the orbs of heaven; and politicians, equally
ignorant and equally presumptuous, may easily be led to
suppose, that the happiness of our world would be
promoted by a different tendency of the human
mind. It appears, indeed, to a slight and superficial
observer, that many things impracticable in our present
state, might be easily effected, if mankind were
better disposed to union and co-operation: but a little
reflection will discover, that if confederacies were
easily formed, they would lose their efficacy, since
numbers would be opposed to numbers, and unanimity
to unanimity; and instead of the present petty
competitions of individuals or single families,
multitudes would be supplanting multitudes, and
thousands plotting against thousands.
There is no class of the human species, of which
the union seems to have been more expected, than
of the learned: the rest of the world have almost always
agreed to shut scholars up together in colleges
and cloisters; surely not without hope, that they
would look for that happiness in concord, which they
were debarred from finding in variety; and that such
conjunctions of intellect would recompense the
munificence of founders and patrons, by performances
above the reach of any single mind.
But discord, who found means to roll her apple
into the banqueting chamber of the goddesses, has
had the address to scatter her laurels in the seminaries
of learning. The friendship of students and of
beauties is for the most part equally sincere, and
equally durable: as both depend for happiness on
the regard of others, on that of which the value
arises merely from comparison, they are both exposed
to perpetual jealousies, and both incessantly
employed in schemes to intercept the praises of each
I am, however, far from intending to inculcate
that this confinement of the studious to studious
companions, has been wholly without advantage to
the publick: neighbourhood, where it does not
conciliate friendship, incites competition; and he that
would contentedly rest in a lower degree of excellence,
where he had no rival to dread, will be urged
by his impatience of inferiority to incessant
endeavours after great attainments.
These stimulations of honest rivalry are, perhaps,
the chief effects of academies and societies; for
whatever be the bulk of their joint labours, every single
piece is always the production of an individual, that
owes nothing to his colleagues but the contagion of
diligence, a resolution to write, because the rest are
writing, and the scorn of obscurity while the rest are
[g] It may not be uninteresting to place in immediate comparison
with this finished paper its first rough draught as given in
Boswell, vol. i.
"Confederacies difficult; why.
"Seldom in war a match for single persons--nor in peace;
therefore kings make themselves absolute. Confederacies in
learning--every great work the work of one. Bruy. Scholars
friendship like ladies. Scribebamus, &c. Mart. The apple of
discord--the laurel of discord--the poverty of criticism.
Swift's opinion of the power of six geniuses united. That union
scarce possible. His remarks just;--man a social, not steady
nature. Drawn to man by words, repelled by passions. Orb drawn
by attraction, rep. [repelled] by centrifugal.
"Common danger unites by crushing other passions--but they
return. Equality hinders compliance. Superiority produces
insolence and envy. Too much regard in each to private
interest;--too little.
"The mischiefs of private and exclusive societies.--The fitness
of social attraction diffused through the whole. The mischiefs
of too partial love of our country. Contraction of moral duties.
> Oi filoi, o filos>.
"Every man moves upon his own centre, and therefore repels others
from too near a contact, though he may comply with some general
Of confederacy with superiors every one knows the inconvenience.
With equals no authority;--every man his own opinion--his own
"Man and wife hardly united;--scarce ever without children.
Computation, if two to one against two, how many against five?
If confederacies were easy--useless;--many oppresses many.--If
possible only to some, dangerous. Principum amicitias."
No. 50. SATURDAY, APRIL 28, 1753
Quincunque turpi fraude semel innotuit,
Etiamsi verum dicit, amittit fidem.
PHAED. Lib. i. Fab. x. 1.
The wretch that often has deceiv'd,
Though truth he speaks, is ne'er believ'd.
WHEN Aristotle was once asked, what a man
could gain by uttering falsehoods? he replied,
"Not to be credited when he shall tell the truth."
The character of a liar is at once so hateful and
contemptible, that even of those who have lost
their virtue it might be expected that from the
violation of truth they should be restrained by
their pride. Almost every other vice that disgraces
human nature, may be kept in countenance by
applause and association: the corrupter of virgin
innocence sees himself envied by the men, and at
least not detested by the women; the drunkard may
easily unite with beings, devoted like himself to
noisy merriments or silent insensibility, who will
celebrate his victories over the novices of intemperance,
boast themselves the companions of his prowess,
and tell with rapture of the multitudes whom
unsuccessful emulation has hurried to the grave;
even the robber and the cut-throat have their
followers, who admire their address and intrepidity,
their stratagems of rapine, and their fidelity to the
The liar, and only the liar, is invariably and
universally despised, abandoned, and disowned: he has
no domestick consolations, which he can oppose to
the censure of mankind; he can retire to no fraternity,
where his crimes may stand in the place of
virtues; but is given up to the hisses of the
multitude, without friend and without apologist. It is
the peculiar condition of falsehood, to be equally
detested by the good and bad: "The devils," says
Sir Thomas Brown, "do not tell lies to one another;
for truth is necessary to all societies: nor can the
society of hell subsist without it."
It is natural to expect, that a crime thus generally
detested should be generally avoided; at least, that
none should expose himself to unabated and
unpitied infamy, without an adequate temptation;
and that to guilt so easily detected, and so severely
punished, an adequate temptation would not readily
be found.
Yet so it is, that in defiance of censure and
contempt, truth is frequently violated; and scarcely the
most vigilant and unremitted circumspection will
secure him that mixes with mankind, from being
hourly deceived by men of whom it can scarcely
be imagined, that they mean any injury to him or
profit to themselves: even where the subject of
conversation could not have been expected to put
the passions in motion, or to have excited either
hope or fear, or zeal or malignity, sufficient to
induce any man to put his reputation in hazard,
however little he might value it, or to overpower the
love of truth, however weak might be its influence.
The casuists have very diligently distinguished lies
into their several classes, according to their various
degrees of malignity: but they have, I think,
generally omitted that which is most common, and
perhaps, not least mischievous; which, since the
moralists have not given it a name, I shall distinguish
To vanity may justly be imputed most of the
falsehoods which every man perceives hourly playing
upon his ear, and, perhaps, most of those that
are propagated with success. To the lie of
commerce, and the lie of malice, the motive is so
apparent, that they are seldom negligently or
implicitly received; suspicion is always watchful over
the practices of interest; and whatever the hope of
gain, or desire of mischief, can prompt one man to
assert, another is by reasons equally cogent incited
to refute. But vanity pleases herself with such slight
gratifications, and looks forward to pleasure so
remotely consequential, that her practices raise no
alarm, and her stratagems are not easily discovered.
Vanity is, indeed, often suffered to pass unpursued
by suspicion, because he that would watch her motions,
can never be at rest: fraud and malice are
bounded in their influence; some opportunity of
time and place is necessary to their agency; but
scarce any man is abstracted one moment from his
vanity; and he, to whom truth affords no gratifications,
is generally inclined to seek them in falsehoods.
It is remarked by Sir Kenelm Digby, "that every
man has a desire to appear superior to others, though
it were only in having seen what they have not seen."
Such an accidental advantage, since it neither
implies merit, nor confers dignity, one would think
should not be desired so much as to be counterfeited:
yet even this vanity, trifling as it is, produces
innumerable narratives, all equally false; but more or
less credible in proportion to the skill or confidence
of the relater. How many may a man of diffusive
conversation count among his acquaintances, whose
lives have been signalized by numberless escapes;
who never cross the river but in a storm, or take a
journey into the country without more adventures
than befel the knights-errant of ancient times in
pathless forests or enchanted castles! How many
must he know, to whom portents and prodigies are
of daily occurrence; and for whom nature is hourly
working wonders invisible to every other eye, only
to supply them with subjects of conversation.
Others there are that amuse themselves with the
dissemination of falsehood, at greater hazard of
detection and disgrace; men marked out by some lucky
planet for universal confidence and friendship, who
have been consulted in every difficulty, intrusted
with every secret, and summoned to every transaction:
it is the supreme felicity of these men, to
stun all companies with noisy information; to still
doubt, and overbear opposition, with certain knowledge
or authentick intelligence. A liar of this kind,
with a strong memory or brisk imagination, is often
the oracle of an obscure club, and, till time discovers
his impostures, dictates to his hearers with
uncontrouled authority; for if a publick question be
started, he was present at the debate; if a new
fashion be mentioned, he was at court the first day of
its appearance; if a new performance of literature
draws the attention of the publick, he has patronized
the author, and seen his work in manuscript;
if a criminal of eminence be condemned to die, he
often predicted his fate, and endeavoured his
reformation: and who that lives at a distance from
the scene of action, will dare to contradict a man,
who reports from his own eyes and ears, and to
whom all persons and affairs are thus intimately
This kind of falsehood is generally successful for
a time, because it is practised at first with timidity
and caution: but the prosperity of the liar is of short
duration; the reception of one story is always an
incitement to the forgery of another less probable;
and he goes on to triumph over tacit credulity, till
pride or reason rises up against him, and his
companions will no longer endure to see him wiser than
It is apparent, that the inventors of all these
fictions intend some exaltation of themselves, and are
led off by the pursuit of honour from their
attendance upon truth: their narratives always imply
some consequence in favour of their courage, their
sagacity, or their activity, their familiarity with the
learned, or their reception among the great; they
are always bribed by the present pleasure of seeing
themselves superior to those that surround them,
and receiving the homage of silent attention and
envious admiration.
But vanity is sometimes excited to fiction by less
visible gratifications: the present age abounds with
a race of liars who are content with the consciousness
of falsehood, and whose pride is to deceive others
without any gain or glory to themselves. Of this
tribe it is the supreme pleasure to remark a lady in the
playhouse or the park, and to publish, under the
character of a man suddenly enamoured, an advertisement
in the news of the next day, containing a
minute description of her person and her dress. From
this artifice, however, no other effect can be
expected, than perturbations which the writer can
never see, and conjectures of which he never can be
informed; some mischief, however, he hopes he has
done; and to have done mischief, is of some importance.
He sets his invention to work again, and produces
a narrative of a robbery or a murder, with all
the circumstances of time and place accurately
adjusted. This is a jest of greater effect and longer
duration: if he fixes his scene at a proper distance, he
may for several days keep a wife in terrour for her
husband, or a mother for her son; and please himself
with reflecting, that by his abilities and address some
addition is made to the miseries of life.
There is, I think, an ancient law of Scotland, by
which LEASING-MAKING was capitally punished. I am,
indeed, far from desiring to increase in this kingdom
the number of executions; yet I cannot but think,
that they who destroy the confidence of society,
weaken the credit of intelligence, and interrupt the
security of life; harass the delicate with shame, and
perplex the timorous with alarms; might very properly
be awakened to a sense of their crimes, by
denunciations of a whipping-post or pillory: since
many are so insensible of right and wrong, that they
have no standard of action but the law; nor feel
guilt, but as they dread punishment.
No. 53. TUESDAY, MAY 8, 1753
Quisque suos patimur manes. VIRG. AEn. Lib. vi. 743.
Each has his lot, and bears the fate he drew.
Fleet, May 6.
IN consequence of my engagements, I address you
once more from the habitations of misery. In this
place, from which business and pleasure are equally
excluded, and in which our only employment and
diversion is to hear the narratives of each other, I
might much sooner have gathered materials for a
letter, had I not hoped to have been reminded of
my promise; but since I find myself placed in the
regions of oblivion, where I am no less neglected by
you than by the rest of mankind, I resolved no
longer to wait for solicitation, but stole early this
evening from between gloomy sullenness and riotous
merriment, to give you an account of part of my
One of the most eminent members of our club is
Mr. Edward Scamper, a man of whose name the
Olympick heroes would not have been ashamed. Ned
was born to a small estate, which he determined to
improve; and therefore, as soon as he became of age,
mortgaged part of his land to buy a mare and stallion,
and bred horses for the course. He was at first
very successful, and gained several of the king's
plates, as he is now every day boasting, at the
expense of very little more than ten times their value.
At last, however, he discovered, that victory brought
him more honour than profit: resolving, therefore,
to be rich as well as illustrious, he replenished his
pockets by another mortgage, became on a sudden
a daring bettor, and resolving not to trust a jockey
with his fortune, rode his horse himself, distanced
two of his competitors the first heat, and at last
won the race by forcing his horse on a descent to full
speed at the hazard of his neck. His estate was thus
repaired, and some friends that had no souls advised
him to give over; but Ned now knew the way to
riches, and therefore without caution increased his
expenses. From this hour he talked and dreamed of
nothing but a horse-race; and rising soon to the summit
of equestrian reputation, he was constantly expected
on every course, divided all his time between
lords and jockeys, and, as the unexperienced
regulated their bets by his example, gained a great deal
of money by laying openly on one horse and secretly
on the other. Ned was now so sure of growing rich,
that he involved his estate in a third mortgage,
borrowed money of all his friends, and risked his whole
fortune upon Bay Lincoln. He mounted with beating
heart, started fair, and won the first heat; but in
the second, as he was pushing against the foremost
of his rivals, his girth broke, his shoulder was
dislocated, and before he was dismissed by the surgeon,
two bailiffs fastened upon him, and he saw
Newmarket no more. His daily amusement for four
years has been to blow the signal for starting, to
make imaginary matches, to repeat the pedigree
of Bay Lincoln, and to form resolutions against
trusting another groom with the choice of his girth.
The next in seniority is Mr. Timothy Snug, a
man of deep contrivance and impenetrable secrecy.
His father died with the reputation of more wealth
than he possessed: Tim, therefore, entered the world
with a reputed fortune of ten thousand pounds. Of
this he very well knew that eight thousand was
imaginary: but being a man of refined policy, and
knowing how much honour is annexed to riches,
he resolved never to detect his own poverty; but
furnished his house with elegance, scattered his
money with profusion, encouraged every scheme
of costly pleasure, spoke of petty losses with
negligence, and on the day before an execution entered
his doors, had proclaimed at a publick table his
resolution to be jolted no longer in a hackney coach.
Another of my companions is the magnanimous
Jack Scatter, the son of a country gentleman, who,
having no other care than to leave him rich,
considered that literature could not be had without
expense; masters would not teach for nothing; and
when a book was bought and read, it would sell for
little. Jack was, therefore, taught to read and write
by the butler; and when this acquisition was made,
was left to pass his days in the kitchen and stable,
where he heard no crime censured but covetousness
and distrust of poor honest servants, and where all
the praise was bestowed on good housekeeping,
and a free heart. At the death of his father, Jack
set himself to retrieve the honour of his family:
he abandoned his cellar to the butler, ordered his
groom to provide hay and corn at discretion, took
his housekeeper's word for the expenses of the
kitchen, allowed all his servants to do their work
by deputies, permitted his domesticks to keep his
house open to their relations and acquaintance, and
in ten years was conveyed hither, without having
purchased by the loss of his patrimony either honour
or pleasure, or obtained any other gratification
than that of having corrupted the neighbouring
villagers by luxury and idleness.
Dick Serge was a draper in Cornhill, and passed
eight years in prosperous diligence, without any
care but to keep his books, or any ambition but to
be in time an alderman: but then, by some
unaccountable revolution in his understanding, he
became enamoured of wit and humour, despised the
conversation of pedlars and stock-jobbers, and
rambled every night to the regions of gaiety, in quest
of company suited to his taste. The wits at first
flocked about him for sport, and afterwards for
interest; some found their way into his books, and
some into his pockets; the man of adventure was
equipped from his shop for the pursuit of a fortune;
and he had sometimes the honour to have his
security accepted when his friends were in distress.
Elated with these associations, he soon learned to
neglect his shop; and having drawn his money out
of the funds, to avoid the necessity of teasing men
of honour for trifling debts, he has been forced at
last to retire hither, till his friends can procure him
a post at court.
Another that joins in the same mess is Bob Cornice,
whose life has been spent in fitting up a house.
About ten years ago Bob purchased the country
habitation of a bankrupt: the mere shell of a building
Bob holds no great matter; the inside is the
test of elegance. Of this house he was no sooner
master than he summoned twenty workmen to his
assistance, tore up the floors and laid them anew,
stripped off the wainscot, drew the windows from
their frames, altered the disposition of doors and
fire-places, and cast the whole fabrick into a new
form: his next care was to have his ceilings painted,
his pannels gilt, and his chimney-pieces carved:
every thing was executed by the ablest hands:
Bob's business was to follow the workmen with a
microscope, and call upon them to retouch their
performances, and heighten excellence to perfection.
The reputation of his house now brings round him
a daily confluence of visitants, and every one tells
him of some elegance which he has hitherto
overlooked, some convenience not yet procured, or
some new mode in ornament or furniture. Bob, who
had no wish but to be admired, nor any guide but
the fashion, thought every thing beautiful in
proportion as it was new, and considered his work as
unfinished, while any observer could suggest an
addition, some alteration was therefore every day made,
without any other motive than the charms of novelty.
A traveller at last suggested to him the convenience
of a grotto: Bob immediately ordered the mount of
his garden to be excavated: and having laid out a
large sum in shells and minerals, was busy in regulating
the disposition of the colours and lustres, when
two gentlemen, who had asked permission to see
his gardens, presented him a writ, and led him off
to less elegant apartments.
I know not, Sir, whether among this fraternity
of sorrow you will think any much to be pitied; nor
indeed do many of them appear to solicit compassion,
for they generally applaud their own conduct,
and despise those whom want of taste or spirit suffers
to grow rich. It were happy if the prisons of the
kingdom were filled only with characters like these,
men whom prosperity could not make useful, and
whom ruin cannot make wise: but there are among us
many who raise different sensations, many that owe
their present misery to the seductions of treachery,
the strokes of casualty, or the tenderness of pity;
many whose sufferings disgrace society, and whose
virtues would adorn it: of these, when familiarity
shall have enabled me to recount their stories without
horrour, you may expect another narrative from
Sir, Your most humble servant,
No. 58. SATURDAY, MAY 25, 1753
Damnant guod non intelligunt. CIC.
They condemn what they do not understand.
EURIPIDES, having presented Socrates with
the writings of Heraclitus[h], a philosopher famed
for involution and obscurity, inquired afterwards his
opinion of their merit. "What I understand," said
Socrates, "I find to be excellent; and, therefore,
believe that to be of equal value which I cannot
[h] The obscurity of this philosopher's style is complained of
by Aristotle in his treatise on Rhetoric, iii. 5. We make the
reference with the view of recommending to attention the whole of
that book, which is interspersed with the most acute remarks, and
with rules of criticism founded deeply on the workings of the
human mind. It is undervalued only by those who have not
scholarship to read it, and surely merits this slight tribute of
admiration from an Editor of Johnson's works, with whom a
Translation of the Rhetoric was long a favourite project.
The reflection of every man who reads this passage
will suggest to him the difference between the practice
of Socrates, and that of modern criticks: Socrates,
who had, by long observation upon himself
and others, discovered the weakness of the strongest,
and the dimness of the most enlightened intellect,
was afraid to decide hastily in his own favour, or to
conclude that an author had written without meaning,
because he could not immediately catch his
ideas; he knew that the faults of books are often
more justly imputable to the reader, who sometimes
wants attention, and sometimes penetration; whose
understanding is often obstructed by prejudice, and
often dissipated by remissness; who comes sometimes
to a new study, unfurnished with knowledge
previously necessary; and finds difficulties insuperable,
for want of ardour sufficient to encounter them.
Obscurity and clearness are relative terms: to some
readers scarce any book is easy, to others not many
are difficult: and surely they, whom neither any
exuberant praise bestowed by others, nor any eminent
conquests over stubborn problems, have entitled to
exalt themselves above the common orders of mankind,
might condescend to imitate the candour of
Socrates; and where they find incontestable proofs
of superior genius, be content to think that there is
justness in the connexion which they cannot trace,
and cogency in the reasoning which they cannot
This diffidence is never more reasonable than in
the perusal of the authors of antiquity; of those
whose works have been the delight of ages, and
transmitted as the great inheritance of mankind
from one generation to another: surely, no man can,
without the utmost arrogance, imagine that he
brings any superiority of understanding to the perusal
of these books which have been preserved in the
devastations of cities, and snatched up from the
wreck of nations; which those who fled before
barbarians have been careful to carry off in a hurry of
migration, and of which barbarians have repented
the destruction. If in books thus made venerable by
the uniform attestation of successive ages, any
passages shall appear unworthy of that praise which they
have formerly received, let us not immediately
determine, that they owed their reputation to dulness
or bigotry; but suspect at least that our ancestors
had some reasons for their opinions, and that our
ignorance of those reasons makes us differ from them.
It often happens that an author's reputation is
endangered in succeeding times, by that which
raised the loudest applause among his contemporaries:
nothing is read with greater pleasure than allusions
to recent facts, reigning opinions, or present
controversies; but when facts are forgotten, and
controversies extinguished, these favourite touches
lose all their graces; and the author in his descent
to posterity must be left to the mercy of chance,
without any power of ascertaining the memory of
those things, to which he owed his luckiest thoughts
and his kindest reception.
On such occasions, every reader should remember
the diffidence of Socrates, and repair by his candour
the injuries of time: he should impute the seeming
defects of his author to some chasm of intelligence,
and suppose that the sense which is now weak was
once forcible, and the expression which is now dubious
formerly determinate.
How much the mutilation of ancient history has
taken away from the beauty of poetical performances,
may be conjectured from the light which a
lucky commentator sometimes effuses, by the
recovery of an incident that had been long forgotten:
thus, in the third book of Horace, Juno's denunciations
against those that should presume to raise
again the walls of Troy, could for many ages please
only by splendid images and swelling language, of
which no man discovered the use or propriety, till
Le Fevre, by showing on what occasion the Ode
was written, changed wonder to rational delight.
Many passages yet undoubtedly remain in the same
author, which an exacter knowledge of the incidents
of his time would clear from objections. Among
these I have always numbered the following lines:
Aurum per medios ire satellites,
Et perrumpere amat saxa, potentius
Ictu fulmineo. Concidit auguris
Argivi domus ob lucrum
Demersa exitio. Diffidit urbium
Portas vir Macedo, et subruit aemulos
Regis muneribus: Munera navium
Saevos illaqueant duces. HOR. Lib. iii. Ode xvi. 9.
Stronger than thunder's winged force,
All-powerful gold can spread its course,
Thro' watchful guards its passage make,
And loves thro' solid walls to break:
From gold the overwhelming woes
That crush'd the Grecian augur rose:
Philip with gold thro' cities broke,
And rival monarchs felt his yoke;
Captains of ships to gold are slaves,
Tho' fierce as their own winds and waves. FRANCIS.
The close of this passage, by which every reader is
now disappointed and offended, was probably the
delight of the Roman Court: it cannot be imagined,
that Horace, after having given to gold the force of
thunder, and told of its power to storm cities and to
conquer kings, would have concluded his account of
its efficacy with its influence over naval commanders,
had he not alluded to some fact then current in the
mouths of men, and therefore more interesting for
a time than the conquests of Philip. Of the like kind
may be reckoned another stanza in the same book:
--Jussa coram non sine conscio
Surgit marito, seu vocat institor,
Seu navis Hispanae magister,
Dedecorum pretiosus emptor. HOR. Lib. iii. Ode. vi. 29.
The conscious husband bids her rise,
When some rich factor courts her charms,
Who calls the wanton to his arms,
And, prodigal of wealth and fame,
Profusely buys the costly shame. FRANCIS.
He has little knowledge of Horace who imagines
that the FACTOR, or the SPANISH MERCHANT, are
mentioned by chance: there was undoubtedly some
popular story of an intrigue, which those names recalled
to the memory of his reader.
The flame of his genius in other parts, though
somewhat dimmed by time, is not totally eclipsed;
his address and judgment yet appear, though much
of the spirit and vigour of his sentiment is lost: this
has happened in the twentieth Ode of the first book:
Vile potabis modicis Sabinum
Cantharis, Graeca quod ego ipse testa
Conditum levi, datus in theatro
Cum tibi plausus,
Care Moecenas eques: ut paterni
Fluminis ripae, simul et jocosa
Redderet laudes tibi Vaticani
Montis imago.
A poet's beverage humbly cheap,
(Should great Maecenas be my guest,)
The vintage of the Sabine grape,
But yet in sober cups shall crown the feast:
'Twas rack'd into a Grecian cask,
Its rougher juice to melt away;
I seal'd it too--a pleasing task!
With annual joy to mark the glorious day,
When in applausive shouts thy name
Spread from the theatre around,
Floating on thy own Tiber's stream,
And Echo, playful nymph, return'd the sound. FRANCIS.
We here easily remark the intertexture of a happy
compliment with an humble invitation; but certainly
are less delighted than those, to whom the
mention of the applause bestowed upon Maecenas,
gave occasion to recount the actions or words that
produced it.
Two lines which have exercised the ingenuity of
modern criticks, may, I think, be reconciled to the
judgment, by an easy supposition: Horace thus
addresses Agrippa:
Scriberis Vario fortis, et hostium
Victor, Maeonii carminis alite. Hon. Lib. i. Ode vi. 1.
Varius, a swan of Homer's wing,
Shall brave Agrippa's conquests sing.
That Varius should be called "A bird of Homeric
song," appears so harsh to modern ears, that an
emendation of the text has been proposed: but
surely the learning of the ancients had been long ago
obliterated, had every man thought himself at liberty
to corrupt the lines which he did not understand.
If we imagine that Varius had been by any of
his contemporaries celebrated under the appellation
of Musarum ales, "the swan of the Muses," the
language of Horace becomes graceful and familiar;
and that such a compliment was at least possible,
we know from the transformation feigned by Horace
of himself.
The most elegant compliment that was paid to
Addison, is of this obscure and perishable kind;
When panting Virtue her last efforts made,
You brought your Clio to the virgin's aid.
These lines must please as long as they are understood;
but can be understood only by those that have
observed Addison's signatures in the Spectator.
The nicety of these minute allusions I shall
exemplify by another instance, which I take this
occasion to mention, because, as I am told, the
commentators have omitted it. Tibullus addressed
Cynthia in this manner:
Te spectem, suprema mihi cum venerit hora,
Te teneam moriens deficiente manu. Lib. i. El. i. 73.
Before my closing eyes dear Cynthia stand,
Held weakly by my fainting trembling hand.
To these lines Ovid thus refers in his Elegy on the
death of Tibullus:
Cynthia discedens, Felicius, inquit, amata
Sum tibi; vixisti dum tuus ignis eram.
Cui Nemesis, quid, ait, tibi sint mea damna dolori?
Me tenuit moriens deficiente manu. Am. Lib. iii. El. ix.
Blest was my reign, retiring Cynthia cry'd;
Not till he left my breast, Tibullus dy'd.
Forbear, said Nemesis, my loss to moan,
The beauty of this passage, which consists in the
appropriation made by Nemesis of the line originally
directed to Cynthia, had been wholly imperceptible
to succeeding ages, had chance, which has
destroyed so many greater volumes, deprived us
likewise of the poems of Tibullus.
No. 62. SATURDAY, JUNE 9, 1753
Of fortuna viris, invida fortibus
Quam non aequa bonis praemia diridis. SENECA.
Capricious Fortune ever joys,
With partial hand to deal the prize,
To crush the brave and cheat the wise.
Fleet, June 6.
TO the account of such of my companions as
are imprisoned without being miserable, or are
miserable without any claim to compassion, I promised
to add the histories of those, whose virtue
has made them unhappy or whose misfortunes
are at least without a crime. That this catalogue
should be very numerous, neither you nor your
readers ought to expect: rari quippe boni; "the
good are few." Virtue is uncommon in all the
classes of humanity; and I suppose it will scarcely
be imagined more frequent in a prison than in
other places.
Yet in these gloomy regions is to be found the
tenderness, the generosity, the philanthropy of
Serenus, who might have lived in competence and
ease, if he could have looked without emotion on
the miseries of another. Serenus was one of those
exalted minds, whom knowledge and sagacity could
not make suspicious; who poured out his soul in
boundless intimacy, and thought community of
possessions the law of friendship. The friend of
Serenus was arrested for debt, and after many endeavours
to soften his creditor, sent his wife to solicit
that assistance which never was refused. The tears
and importunity of female distress were more than
was necessary to move the heart of Serenus; he
hasted immediately away, and conferring a long
time with his friend, found him confident that if
the present pressure was taken off, he should soon
be able to re-establish his affairs. Serenus,
accustomed to believe, and afraid to aggravate distress,
did not attempt to detect the fallacies of hope, nor
reflect that every man overwhelmed with calamity
believes, that if that was removed he shall immediately
be happy: he, therefore, with little hesitation
offered himself as surety.
In the first raptures of escape all was joy, gratitude,
and confidence: the friend of Serenus displayed
his prospects, and counted over the sums of
which he should infallibly be master before the day
of payment. Serenus in a short time began to find
his danger, but could not prevail with himself to
repent of beneficence; and therefore suffered himself
still to be amused with projects which he durst
not consider, for fear of finding them impracticable.
The debtor, after he had tried every method of
raising money which art or indigence could prompt,
wanted either fidelity or resolution to surrender
himself to prison, and left Serenus to take his place.
Serenus has often proposed to the creditor, to pay
him whatever he shall appear to have lost by the
flight of his friend: but however reasonable this
proposal may be thought, avarice and brutality have
been hitherto inexorable, and Serenus still continues
to languish in prison.
In this place, however, where want makes almost
every man selfish, or desperation gloomy, it is the
good fortune of Serenus not to live without a friend:
he passes most of his hours in the conversation of
Candidus, a man whom the same virtuous ductility
has, with some difference of circumstances, made
equally unhappy. Candidus, when he was young,
helpless, and ignorant, found a patron that educated,
protected, and supported him, his patron being
more vigilant for others than himself, left at his
death an only son, destitute and friendless. Candidus
was eager to repay the benefits he had received; and
having maintained the youth for a few years at his
own house, afterwards placed him with a merchant
of eminence, and gave bonds to a great value as a
security for his conduct.
The young man, removed too early from the only
eye of which he dreaded the observation, and deprived
of the only instruction which he heard with
reverence, soon learned to consider virtue as restraint,
and restraint as oppression: and to look with a
longing eye at every expense to which he could not
reach, and every pleasure which he could not partake:
by degrees he deviated from his first regularity,
and unhappily mingling among young men busy
in dissipating the gains of their fathers' industry, he
forgot the precepts of Candidus, spent the evening
in parties of pleasure, and the morning in expedients
to support his riots. He was, however, dexterous and
active in business: and his master, being secured
against any consequences of dishonesty, was very
little solicitous to inspect his manners, or to inquire
how he passed those hours, which were not immediately
devoted to the business of his profession:
when he was informed of the young man's
extravagance or debauchery, "let his bondsman look to
that," said he, "I have taken care of myself."
Thus the unhappy spendthrift proceeded from
folly to folly, and from vice to vice, with the
connivance, if not the encouragement, of his master; till
in the heat of a nocturnal revel he committed such
violences in the street as drew upon him a criminal
prosecution. Guilty and unexperienced, he knew not
what course to take: to confess his crime to Candidus,
and solicit his interposition, was little less dreadful
than to stand before the frown of a court of justice.
Having, therefore, passed the day with anguish in
his heart and distraction in his looks, he seized at
night a very large sum of money in the comptinghouse,
and setting out he knew not whither, was
heard of no more.
The consequence of his flight was the ruin of
Candidus; ruin surely undeserved and irreproachable,
and such as the laws of a just government ought
either to prevent or repair: nothing is more inequitable
than that one man should suffer for the crimes
of another, for crimes which he neither prompted
nor permitted, which he could neither foresee nor
prevent. When we consider the weakness of human
resolutions and the inconsistency of human conduct,
it must appear absurd that one man shall engage for
another, that he will not change his opinions or alter
his conduct.
It is, I think, worthy of consideration, whether,
since no wager is binding without a possibility of loss
on each side, it is not equally reasonable, that no
contract should be valid without reciprocal stipulations;
but in this case, and others of the same kind, what
is stipulated on his side to whom the bond is given?
he takes advantage of the security, neglects his
affairs, omits his duty, suffers timorous wickedness to
grow daring by degrees, permits appetite to call for
new gratifications, and, perhaps, secretly longs for the
time in which he shall have power to seize the
forfeiture; and if virtue or gratitude should prove too
strong for temptation, and a young man persist in
honesty, however instigated by his passions, what
can secure him at last against a false accusation? I
for my part always shall suspect, that he who can
by such methods secure his property, will go one
step further to increase it; nor can I think that man
safely trusted with the means of mischief, who, by
his desire to have them in his hands, gives an
evident proof how much less he values his neighbour's
happiness than his own.
Another of our companions is Lentulus, a man
whose dignity of birth was very ill supported by
his fortune. As some of the first offices in the
kingdom were filled by his relations, he was early
invited to court, and encouraged by caresses and
promises to attendance and solicitation; a constant
appearance in splendid company necessarily
required magnificence of dress; and a frequent
participation of fashionable amusements forced him
into expense: but these measures were requisite
to his success; since every body knows, that to be
lost to sight is to be lost to remembrance, and that
he who desires to fill a vacancy, must be always at
hand, lest some man of greater vigilance should
step in before him.
By this course of life his little fortune was every
day made less: but he received so many distinctions
in publick, and was known to resort so familiarly
to the houses of the great, that every man looked
on his preferment as certain, and believed that its
value would compensate for its slowness: he, therefore,
found no difficulty in obtaining credit for all
that his rank or his vanity made necessary: and, as
ready payment was not expected, the bills were
proportionably enlarged, and the value of the hazard
or delay was adjusted solely by the equity of
the creditor. At length death deprived Lentulus
of one of his patrons, and a revolution in the
ministry of another; so that all his prospects vanished
at once, and those that had before encouraged his
expenses, began to perceive that their money was
in danger; there was now no other contention but
who should first seize upon his person, and, by
forcing immediate payment, deliver him up naked
to the vengeance of the rest. In pursuance of this
scheme, one of them invited him to a tavern, and
procured him to be arrested at the door; but Lentulus,
instead of endeavouring secretly to pacify him
by payment, gave notice to the rest, and offered to
divide amongst them the remnant of his fortune:
they feasted six hours at his expense, to deliberate
on his proposal; and at last determined, that as he
could not offer more than five shillings in the pound,
it would be more prudent to keep him in prison,
till he could procure from his relations the payment
of his debts.
Lentulus is not the only man confined within
these walls, on the same account: the like procedure,
upon the like motives, is common among men whom
yet the law allows to partake the use of fire and water
with the compassionate and the just; who frequent
the assemblies of commerce in open day, and talk
with detestation and contempt of highwaymen or
housebreakers: but, surely, that man must be confessedly
robbed, who is compelled, by whatever means,
to pay the debts which he does not owe: nor can I
look with equal hatred upon him, who, at the hazard
of his life, holds out his pistol and demands my
purse, as on him who plunders under shelter of the
law, and by detaining my son or my friend in prison,
extorts from me the price of their liberty. No
man can be more an enemy to society than he, by
whose machinations our virtues are turned to our
disadvantage; he is less destructive to mankind
that plunders cowardice, than he that preys upon
I believe, Mr. Adventurer, you will readily
confess, that though not one of these, if tried before a
commercial judicature, can be wholly acquitted from
imprudence or temerity; yet that, in the eye of all
who can consider virtue as distinct from wealth, the
fault of two of them, at least, is outweighed by the
merit; and that of the third is so much extenuated
by the circumstances of his life, as not to deserve a
perpetual prison: yet must these, with multitudes
equally blameless, languish in confinement, till
malevolence shall relent, or the law be changed.
I am, Sir,
Your humble servant,
No. 67. TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 1753
Inventas----vitam excoluere per artes.
VIRG. AEn. vi. 663.
They polish life by useful arts.
THAT familiarity produces neglect, has been
long observed. The effect of all external objects,
however great or splendid, ceases with their novelty;
the courtier stands without emotion in the royal
presence: the rustick tramples under his foot the
beauties of the spring with little attention to their
colours or their fragrance; and the inhabitant of the
coast darts his eye upon the immense diffusion of
waters, without awe, wonder, or terrour.
Those who have past much of their lives in this
great city, look upon its opulence and its multitudes,
its extent and variety, with cold indifference; but an
inhabitant of the remoter parts of the kingdom is
immediately distinguished by a kind of dissipated
curiosity, a busy endeavour to divide his attention
amongst a thousand objects, and a wild confusion of
astonishment and alarm.
The attention of a new comer is generally first
struck by the multiplicity of cries that stun him in
the streets, and the variety of merchandize and
manufactures which the shopkeepers expose on
every hand; and he is apt, by unwary bursts of
admiration, to excite the merriment and contempt
of those who mistake the use of their eyes for effects
of their understanding, and confound accidental
knowledge with just reasoning.
But, surely, these are subjects on which any man
may without reproach employ his meditations: the
innumerable occupations, among which the thousands
that swarm in the streets of London, are distributed,
may furnish employment to minds of every
cast, and capacities of every degree. He that
contemplates the extent of this wonderful city, finds it
difficult to conceive, by what method plenty is
maintained in our markets, and how the inhabitants are
regularly supplied with the necessaries of life; but
when he examines the shops and warehouses, sees
the immense stores of every kind of merchandize
piled up for sale, and runs over all the manufactures
of art and products of nature, which are every where
attracting his eye and soliciting his purse, he will be
inclined to conclude, that such quantities cannot
easily be exhausted, and that part of mankind must
soon stand still for want of employment, till the wares
already provided shall be worn out and destroyed.
As Socrates was passing through the fair at Athens,
and casting his eyes over the shops and customers,
"how many things are here," says he, "that
I do not want!" The same sentiment is every
moment rising in the mind of him that walks the streets
of London, however inferior in philosophy to
Socrates: he beholds a thousand shops crowded with
goods, of which he can scarcely tell the use, and
which, therefore, he is apt to consider as of no value:
and indeed, many of the arts by which families are
supported, and wealth is heaped together, are of that
minute and superfluous kind, which nothing but
experience could evince possible to be prosecuted with
advantage, and which, as the world might easily
want, it could scarcely be expected to encourage.
But so it is, that custom, curiosity, or
wantonness, supplies every art with patrons, and finds
purchasers for every manufacture; the world is so
adjusted, that not only bread, but riches may be
obtained without great abilities or arduous
performances: the most unskilful hand and unenlightened
mind have sufficient incitements to industry; for
he that is resolutely busy, can scarcely be in want.
There is, indeed, no employment, however despicable,
from which a man may not promise himself
more than competence, when he sees thousands and
myriads raised to dignity, by no other merit than
that of contributing to supply their neighbours with
the means of sucking smoke through a tube of clay;
and others raising contributions upon those, whose
elegance disdains the grossness of smoky luxury, by
grinding the same materials into a powder that may
at once gratify and impair the smell.
Not only by these popular and modish trifles,
but by a thousand unheeded and evanescent kinds
of business, are the multitudes of this city preserved
from idleness, and consequently from want. In the
endless variety of tastes and circumstances that
diversify mankind, nothing is so superfluous, but that
some one desires it: or so common, but that some
one is compelled to buy it. As nothing is useless
but because it is in improper hands, what is thrown
away by one is gathered up by another; and the
refuse of part of mankind furnishes a subordinate
class with the materials necessary to their support.
When I look round upon those who are thus
variously exerting their qualifications, I cannot but
admire the secret concatenation of society that links
together the great and the mean, the illustrious
and the obscure; and consider with benevolent
satisfaction, that no man, unless his body or mind be
totally disabled, has need to suffer the mortification
of seeing himself useless or burthensome to the
community: he that will diligently labour, in whatever
occupation, will deserve the sustenance which
he obtains, and the protection which he enjoys; and
may lie down every night with the pleasing
consciousness of having contributed something to the
happiness of life.
Contempt and admiration are equally incident to
narrow minds: he whose comprehension can take
in the whole subordination of mankind, and whose
perspicacity can pierce to the real state of things
through the thin veils of fortune or of fashion, will
discover meanness in the highest stations, and dignity
in the meanest; and find that no man can become
venerable but by virtue, or contemptible but
by wickedness.
In the midst of this universal hurry, no man
ought to be so little influenced by example, or so
void of honest emulation, as to stand a lazy spectator
of incessant labour; or please himself with the
mean happiness of a drone, while the active swarms
are buzzing about him: no man is without some
quality, by the due application of which he might
deserve well of the world; and whoever he be that
has but little in his power, should be in haste to do
that little, lest he be confounded with him that can
do nothing.
By this general concurrence of endeavours, arts
of every kind have been so long cultivated, that all
the wants of man may be immediately supplied;
idleness can scarcely form a wish which she may not
gratify by the toil of others, or curiosity dream of a
toy, which the shops are not ready to afford her.
Happiness is enjoyed only in proportion as it is
known; and such is the state or folly of man, that
it is known only by experience of its contrary: we
who have long lived amidst the conveniences of a
town immensely populous, have scarce an idea of a
place where desire cannot be gratified by money.
In order to have a just sense of this artificial plenty,
it is necessary to have passed some time in a distant
colony, or those parts of our island which are thinly
inhabited: he that has once known how many trades
every man in such situations is compelled to
exercise, with how much labour the products of nature
must be accommodated to human use, how long
the loss or defect of any common utensil must be
endured, or by what awkward expedients it must
be supplied, how far men may wander with money
in their hands before any can sell them what they
wish to buy, will know how to rate at its proper
value the plenty and ease of a great city.
But that the happiness of man may still remain
imperfect, as wants in this place are easily supplied,
new wants likewise are easily created; every man,
in surveying the shops of London, sees numberless
instruments and conveniences, of which, while he
did not know them, he never felt the need; and yet,
when use has made them familiar, wonders how life
could be supported without them. Thus it comes to
pass, that our desires always increase with our
possessions; the knowledge that something remains yet
unenjoyed, impairs our enjoyment of the good before us.
They who have been accustomed to the refinements
of science, and multiplications of contrivance,
soon lose their confidence in the unassisted powers
of nature, forget the paucity of our real necessities,
and overlook the easy methods by which they may
be supplied. It were a speculation worthy of a
philosophical mind, to examine how much is taken away
from our native abilities, as well as added to them,
by artificial expedients. We are so accustomed to
give and receive assistance, that each of us singly
can do little for himself; and there is scarce any one
among us, however contracted may be his form of
life, who does not enjoy the labour of a thousand
But a survey of the various nations that inhabit
the earth will inform us, that life may be supported
with less assistance; and that the dexterity, which
practice enforced by necessity produces, is able to
effect much by very scanty means. The nations of
Mexico and Peru erected cities and temples with
out the use of iron; and at this day the rude Indian
supplies himself with all the necessaries of life: sent
like the rest of mankind naked into the world, as
soon as his parents have nursed him up to strength,
he is to provide by his own labour for his own support.
His first care is to find a sharp flint among the
rocks; with this he undertakes to fell the trees of
the forest; he shapes his bow, heads his arrows,
builds his cottage, and hollows his canoe, and from
that time lives in a state of plenty and prosperity;
he is sheltered from the storms, he is fortified against
beasts of prey, he is enabled to pursue the fish of
the sea, and the deer of the mountains; and as he
does not know, does not envy the happiness of
polished nations, where gold can supply the want of
fortitude and skill, and he whose laborious ancestors
have made him rich, may lie stretched upon a couch,
and see all the treasures of all the elements poured
down before him.
This picture of a savage life if it shows how much
individuals may perform, shows likewise how much
society is to be desired. Though the perseverance
and address of the Indian excite our admiration,
they nevertheless cannot procure him the conveniences
which are enjoyed by the vagrant beggar of a
civilized country: he hunts like a wild beast to
satisfy his hunger; and when he lies down to rest after
a successful chase, cannot pronounce himself secure
against the danger of perishing in a few days: he is,
perhaps, content with his condition, because he
knows not that a better is attainable by man; as he
that is born blind does not long for the perception
of light, because he cannot conceive the advantages
which light would afford him; but hunger, wounds,
and weariness, are real evils, though he believes
them equally incident to all his fellow-creatures;
and when a tempest compels him to lie starving in
his hut, he cannot justly be concluded equally happy
with those whom art has exempted from the power
of chance, and who make the foregoing year provide
for the following.
To receive and to communicate assistance,
constitutes the happiness of human life: man may, indeed,
preserve his existence in solitude, but can enjoy it
only in society; the greatest understanding of an
individual, doomed to procure food and clothing
for himself, will barely supply him with expedients
to keep off death from day to day; but as one of a
large community performing only his share of the
common business, he gains leisure for intellectual
pleasures, and enjoys the happiness of reason and
No. 69. TUESDAY, JULY 3, 1753
Fereoe libenter homines id quod volunt credunt. CAESAR.
Men willingly believe what they wish to be true.
TULLY has long ago observed, that no man,
however weakened by long life, is so conscious
of his own decrepitude, as not to imagine that he
may yet hold his station in the world for another year.
Of the truth of this remark every day furnishes new
confirmation: there is no time of life, in which men
for the most part seem less to expect the stroke of
death, than when every other eye sees it impending;
or are more busy in providing for another year,
than when it is plain to all but themselves, that at
another year they cannot arrive. Though every
funeral that passes before their eyes evinces the
deceitfulness of such expectations, since every man who is
born to the grave thought himself equally certain of
living at least to the next year; the survivor still
continues to flatter himself, and is never at a loss for
some reason why his life should be protracted, and
the voracity of death continue to be pacified with
some other prey.
But this is only one of the innumerable artifices
practised in the universal conspiracy of mankind
against themselves: every age and every condition
indulges some darling fallacy; every man amuses
himself with projects which he knows to be improbable,
and which, therefore, he resolves to pursue
without daring to examine them. Whatever any man
ardently desires, he very readily believes that he shall
some time attain: he whose intemperance has
overwhelmed him with diseases, while he languishes in
the spring, expects vigour and recovery from the
summer sun; and while he melts away in the summer,
transfers his hopes to the frosts of winter: he
that gazes upon elegance or pleasure, which want of
money hinders him from imitating or partaking,
comforts himself that the time of distress will soon
be at an end, and that every day brings him nearer
to a state of happiness; though he knows it has passed
not only without acquisition of advantage, but perhaps
without endeavours after it, in the formation
of schemes that cannot be executed, and in the
contemplation of prospects which cannot be approached.
Such is the general dream in which we all slumber
out our time: every man thinks the day coming, in
which he shall be gratified with all his wishes, in
which he shall leave all those competitors behind,
who are now rejoicing like himself in the expectation
of victory; the day is always coming to the servile
in which they shall be powerful, to the obscure
in which they shall be eminent, and to the deformed
in which they shall be beautiful.
If any of my readers has looked with so little
attention on the world about him, as to imagine this
representation exaggerated beyond probability, let
him reflect a little upon his own life; let him
consider what were his hopes and prospects ten years
ago, and what additions he then expected to be made
by ten years to his happiness; those years are now
elapsed; have they made good the promise that was
extorted from them? have they advanced his fortune,
enlarged his knowledge, or reformed his conduct,
to the degree that was once expected? I am
afraid, every man that recollects his hopes must
confess his disappointment; and own that day has glided
unprofitably after day, and that he is still at the same
distance from the point of happiness.
With what consolations can those, who have thus
miscarried in their chief design, elude the memory
of their ill success? with what amusements can they
pacify their discontent, after the loss of so large a
portion of life? they can give themselves up again
to the same delusions, they can form new schemes
of airy gratifications, and fix another period of
felicity; they can again resolve to trust the promise
which they know will be broken, they can walk in a
circle with their eyes shut, and persuade themselves
to think that they go forward.
Of every great and complicated event, part
depends upon causes out of our power, and part must
be effected by vigour and perseverance. With regard
to that which is styled in common language the
work of chance, men will always find reasons for
confidence or distrust, according to their different
tempers or inclinations; and he that has been long
accustomed to please himself with possibilities of
fortuitous happiness, will not easily or willingly be
reclaimed from his mistake. But the effects of human
industry and skill are more easily subjected to
calculation: whatever can be completed in a year, is
divisible into parts, of which each may be performed
in the compass of a day; he, therefore, that has
passed the day without attention to the task assigned
him, may be certain, that the lapse of life
has brought him no nearer to his object; for
whatever idleness may expect from time, its produce
will be only in proportion to the diligence with
which it has been used. He that floats lazily down
the stream, in pursuit of something borne along by
the same current, will find himself indeed move
forward; but unless he lays his hand to the oar, and
increases his speed by his own labour, must be always
at the same distance from that which he is
There have happened in every age some
contingencies of unexpected and undeserved success, by
which those who are determined to believe whatever
favours their inclinations, have been encouraged
to delight themselves with future advantages; they
support confidence by considerations, of which the
only proper use is to chase away despair: it is equally
absurd to sit down in idleness because some have
been enriched without labour, as to leap a precipice
because some have fallen and escaped with life, or
to put to sea in a storm because some have been
driven from a wreck upon the coast to which they
are bound.
We are all ready to confess, that belief ought to
be proportioned to evidence or probability: let any
man, therefore, compare the number of those who
have been thus favoured by fortune, and of those
who have failed of their expectations, and he will
easily determine, with what justness he has registered
himself in the lucky catalogue.
But there is no need on these occasions for deep
inquiries or laborious calculations; there is a far
easier method of distinguishing the hopes of folly
from those of reason, of finding the difference
between prospects that exist before the eyes, and
those that are only painted on a fond imagination.
Tom Drowsy had accustomed himself to compute
the profit of a darling project till he had no longer
any doubt of its success; it was at last matured by
close consideration, all the measures were accurately
adjusted, and he wanted only five hundred pounds
to become master of a fortune that might be envied
by a director of a trading company. Tom was
generous and grateful, and was resolved to
recompense this small assistance with an ample fortune;
he, therefore, deliberated for a time, to whom
amongst his friends he should declare his necessities;
not that he suspected a refusal, but because
he could not suddenly determine which of them
would make the best use of riches, and was,
therefore, most worthy of his favour. At last his choice
was settled; and knowing that in order to borrow
he must shew the probability of repayment, he
prepared for a minute and copious explanation of his
project. But here the golden dream was at an end:
he soon discovered the impossibility of imposing
upon others the notions by which he had so long
imposed upon himself; which way soever he turned
his thoughts, impossibility and absurdity arose in
opposition on every side; even credulity and prejudice
were at last forced to give way, and he grew
ashamed of crediting himself what shame would
not suffer him to communicate to another.
To this test let every man bring his imaginations,
before they have been too long predominant in his
mind. Whatever is true will bear to be related,
whatever is rational will endure to be explained;
but when we delight to brood in secret over future
happiness, and silently to employ our meditations
upon schemes of which we are conscious that the
bare mention would expose us to derision and
contempt; we should then remember, that we are
cheating ourselves by voluntary delusions; and
giving up to the unreal mockeries of fancy, those hours
in which solid advantages might be attained by
sober thought and rational assiduity.
There is, indeed, so little certainty in human
affairs, that the most cautious and severe examiner
may be allowed to indulge some hopes which he
cannot prove to be much favoured by probability;
since, after his utmost endeavours to ascertain events,
he must often leave the issue in the hands of chance.
And so scanty is our present allowance of happiness,
that in many situations life could scarcely be
supported, if hope were not allowed to relieve the
present hour by pleasures borrowed from futurity;
and reanimate the languor of dejection to new
efforts, by pointing to distant regions of felicity, which
yet no resolution or perseverance shall ever reach.
But these, like all other cordials, though they may
invigorate in a small quantity, intoxicate in a greater;
these pleasures, like the rest, are lawful only in
certain circumstances, and to certain degrees; they may
be useful in a due subserviency to nobler purposes,
but become dangerous and destructive when once
they gain the ascendant in the heart: to soothe the
mind to tranquillity by hope, even when that hope
is likely to deceive us, may be sometimes useful;
but to lull our faculties in a lethargy is poor and
Vices and errours are differently modified,
according to the state of the minds to which they are
incident; to indulge hope beyond the warrant of
reason, is the failure alike of mean and elevated
understandings; but its foundation and its effects are
totally different: the man of high courage and great
abilities is apt to place too much confidence in
himself, and to expect, from a vigorous exertion of his
powers, more than spirit or diligence can attain:
between him and his wish he sees obstacles indeed, but
he expects to overleap or break them; his mistaken
ardour hurries him forward; and though, perhaps,
he misses his end, he nevertheless obtains some
collateral good, and performs something useful to
mankind, and honourable to himself.
The drone of timidity presumes likewise to hope,
but without ground and without consequence; the
bliss with which he solaces his hours he always
expects from others, though very often he knows not
from whom: he folds his arms about him, and sits
in expectation of some revolution in the state that
shall raise him to greatness, or some golden shower
that shall load him with wealth; he dozes away the
day in musing upon the morrow; and at the end of
life is roused from his dream only to discover that
the time of action is past, and that he can now shew
his wisdom only by repentance.
No. 74. SATURDAY, JULY 21, 1753
Insansientis dum sapientiae
Consultus erro.---- HOR. Lib. i. Od. xxxiv. 2.
I missed my end, and lost my way
By crack-brain'd wisdom led astray.
IT has long been charged by one part of mankind
upon the other, that they will not take advice;
that counsel and instruction are generally thrown
away; and that, in defiance both of admonition and
example, all claim the right to choose their own
measures, and to regulate their own lives.
That there is something in advice very useful and
salutary, seems to be equally confessed on all hands:
since even those that reject it, allow for the most
part that rejection to be wrong, but charge the fault
upon the unskilful manner in which it is given: they
admit the efficacy of the medicine, but abhor the
nauseousness of the vehicle.
Thus mankind have gone on from century to
century: some have been advising others how to act,
and some have been teaching the advisers how to
advise; yet very little alteration has been made in
the world. As we must all by the law of nature enter
life in ignorance, we must all make our way through
it by the light of our own experience; and for any
security that advice has been yet able to afford,
must endeavour after success at the hazard of
miscarriage, and learn to do right by venturing to do
By advice I would not be understood to mean,
the everlasting and invariable principles of moral and
religious truth, from which no change of external
circumstances can justify any deviation; but such
directions as respect merely the prudential part of
conduct, and which may be followed or neglected
without any violation of essential duties.
It is, indeed, not so frequently to make us good
as to make us wise, that our friends employ the
officiousness of counsel; and among the rejectors of
advice, who are mentioned by the grave and sententious
with so much acrimony, you will not so often
find the vicious and abandoned, as the pert and the
petulant, the vivacious and the giddy.
As the great end of female education is to get a
husband, this likewise is the general subject of
female advice: and the dreadful denunciation against
those volatile girls, who will not listen patiently to
the lectures of wrinkled wisdom, is, that they will
die unmarried, or throw themselves away upon some
worthless fellow, who will never be able to keep
them a coach.
I being naturally of a ductile and easy temper,
without strong desires or quick resentments, was
always a favourite amongst the elderly ladies, because
I never rebelled against seniority, nor could be
charged with thinking myself wise before my time;
but heard every opinion with submissive silence,
professed myself ready to learn from all who seemed
inclined to teach me, paid the same grateful acknowledgements
for precepts contradictory to each other,
and if any controversy arose, was careful to side with
her who presided in the company.
Of this compliance I very early found the advantage;
for my aunt Matilda left me a very large addition
to my fortune, for this reason chiefly, as she
herself declared, because I was not above hearing
good counsel, but would sit from morning till night
to be instructed, while my sister Sukey, who was a
year younger than myself, and was, therefore, in
greater want of information, was so much conceited
of her own knowledge, that whenever the good lady
in the ardour of benevolence reproved or instructed
her, she would pout or titter, interrupt her with
questions, or embarrass her with objections.
I had no design to supplant my sister by this
complaisant attention; nor, when the consequence of my
obsequiousness came to be known, did Sukey so
much envy as despise me: I was, however, very well
pleased with my success; and having received, from
the concurrent opinion of all mankind, a notion that
to be rich was to be great and happy, I thought I had
obtained my advantages at an easy rate, and resolved
to continue the same passive attention, since I found
myself so powerfully recommended by it to kindness
and esteem.
The desire of advising has a very extensive
prevalence; and since advice cannot be given but to those
that will hear it, a patient listener is necessary to the
accommodation of all those who desire to be confirmed
in the opinion of their own wisdom: a patient
listener, however, is not always to be had; the present
age, whatever age is present, is so vitiated and
disordered that young people are readier to talk than
to attend, and good counsel is only thrown away
upon those who are full of their own perfections.
I was, therefore, in this scarcity of good sense, a
general favourite; and seldom saw a day in which
some sober matron did not invite me to her house,
or take me out in her chariot, for the sake of instructing
me how to keep my character in this censorious
age, how to conduct myself in the time of courtship,
how to stipulate for a settlement, how to manage a
husband of every character, regulate my family, and
educate my children.
We are all naturally credulous in our own favour.
Having been so often caressed and applauded for
docility, I was willing to believe myself really
enlightened by instruction, and completely qualified for the
task of life. I did not doubt but I was entering the
world with a mind furnished against all exigencies,
with expedients to extricate myself from every
difficulty, and sagacity to provide against every danger;
I was, therefore, in haste to give some specimen of
my prudence, and to show that this liberality of
instruction had not been idly lavished upon a mind
incapable of improvement.
My purpose, for why should I deny it? was like
that of other women, to obtain a husband of rank
and fortune superior to my own; and in this I had
the concurrence of all those that had assumed the
province of directing me. That the woman was
undone who married below herself, was universally
agreed: and though some ventured to assert, that
the richer man ought invariably to be preferred, and
that money was a sufficient compensation for a
defective ancestry; yet the majority declared warmly
for a gentleman, and were of opinion that upstarts
should not be encouraged.
With regard to other qualifications I had an
irreconcilable variety of instructions. I was sometimes
told that deformity was no defect in a man; and
that he who was not encouraged to intrigue by an
opinion of his person, was more likely to value the
tenderness of his wife: but a grave widow directed
me to choose a man who might imagine himself
agreeable to me, for that the deformed were always
insupportably vigilant, and apt to sink into sullenness,
or burst into rage, if they found their wife's
eye wandering for a moment to a good face or a
handsome shape.
They were, however, all unanimous in warning
me, with repeated cautions, against all thoughts of
union with a wit, as a being with whom no happiness
could possibly be enjoyed: men of every other
kind I was taught to govern, but a wit was an
animal for whom no arts of taming had been yet
discovered: the woman whom he could once get within
his power, was considered as lost to all hope of
dominion or of quiet: for he would detect artifice and
defeat allurement; and if once he discovered any
failure of conduct, would believe his own eyes, in
defiance of tears, caresses, and protestations.
In pursuance of these sage principles, I proceeded
to form my schemes; and while I was yet in the
first bloom of youth, was taken out at an assembly
by Mr. Frisk. I am afraid my cheeks glowed, and
my eyes sparkled; for I observed the looks of all
my superintendants fixed anxiously upon me; and
I was next day cautioned against him from all hands,
as a man of the most dangerous and formidable kind,
who had writ verses to one lady, and then forsaken
her only because she could not read them, and had
lampooned another for no other fault than defaming
his sister.
Having been hitherto accustomed to obey, I
ventured to dismiss Mr. Frisk, who happily did not
think me worth the labour of a lampoon. I was then
addressed by Mr. Sturdy, and congratulated by all
my friends on the manors of which I was shortly
to be lady: but Sturdy's conversation was so gross,
that after the third visit I could endure him no
longer; and incurred, by dismissing him, the censure
of all my friends, who declared that my nicety
was greater than my prudence, and that they feared
it would be my fate at last to be wretched with a wit.
By a wit, however, I was never afterwards
attacked, but lovers of every other class, or pretended
lovers, I have often had; and, notwithstanding the
advice constantly given me, to have no regard in
my choice to my own inclinations, I could not
forbear to discard some for vice, and some for
rudeness. I was once loudly censured for refusing an old
gentleman who offered an enormous jointure, and
died of the phthisic a year after; and was so baited
with incessant importunities, that I should have
given my hand to Drone the stock-jobber, had not
the reduction of interest made him afraid of the
expenses of matrimony.
Some, indeed, I was permitted to encourage; but
miscarried of the main end, by treating them according
to the rules of art which had been prescribed
me. Altilis, an old maid, infused into me so
much haughtiness and reserve, that some of my
lovers withdrew themselves from my frown, and
returned no more; others were driven away, by the
demands of settlement which the widow Trapland
directed me to make; and I have learned, by many
experiments, that to ask advice is to lose opportunity.
I am, Sir,
Your humble servant,
No. 81. TUESDAY, AUGUST 14, 1753
Nil desperandum. HOR. Lib. i. Od. vii. 27.
Avaunt despair!
I HAVE sometimes heard it disputed in conversation,
whether it be more laudable or desirable,
that a man should think too highly or too meanly
of himself: it is on all hands agreed to be best, that
he should think rightly; but since a fallible being
will always make some deviations from exact rectitude,
it is not wholly useless to inquire towards
which side it is safer to decline.
The prejudices of mankind seem to favour him
who errs by under-rating his own powers: he is considered
as a modest and harmless member of society,
not likely to break the peace by competition, to
endeavour after such splendour of reputation as may
dim the lustre of others, or to interrupt any in the
enjoyment of themselves; he is no man's rival, and,
therefore, may be every man's friend.
The opinion which a man entertains of himself
ought to be distinguished, in order to an accurate
discussion of this question, as it relates to persons
or to things. To think highly of ourselves in
comparison with others, to assume by our own authority
that precedence which none is willing to grant, must
be always invidious and offensive; but to rate our
powers high in proportion to things, and imagine
ourselves equal to great undertakings, while we leave
others in possession of the same abilities, cannot
with equal justice provoke censure.
It must be confessed, that self-love may dispose
us to decide too hastily in our own favour: but who is
hurt by the mistake? If we are incited by this vain
opinion to attempt more than we can perform, ours
is the labour, and ours is the disgrace.
But he that dares to think well of himself, will
not always prove to be mistaken; and the good
effects of his confidence will then appear in great
attempts and great performances: if he should not
fully complete his design, he will at least advance
it so far as to leave an easier task for him that
succeeds him; and even though he should wholly fail,
he will fail with honour.
But from the opposite errour, from torpid
despondency, can come no advantage; it is the frost of
the soul, which binds up all its powers, and congeals
life in perpetual sterility. He that has no hopes of
success, will make no attempts; and where nothing
is attempted, nothing can be done.
Every man should, therefore, endeavour to
maintain in himself a favourable opinion of the powers
of the human mind; which are, perhaps, in every
man, greater than they appear, and might, by diligent
cultivation, be exalted to a degree beyond
what their possessor presumes to believe. There is
scarce any man but has found himself able, at the
instigation of necessity, to do what in a state of
leisure and deliberation he would have concluded
impossible; and some of our species have signalized
themselves by such achievements, as prove that
there are few things above human hope.
It has been the policy of all nations to preserve,
by some public monuments, the memory of those
who have served their country by great exploits:
there is the same reason for continuing or reviving
the names of those, whose extensive abilities have
dignified humanity. An honest emulation may be
alike excited; and the philosopher's curiosity may
be inflamed by a catalogue of the works of Boyle
or Bacon, as Themistocles was kept awake by the
trophies of Miltiades.
Among the favourites of nature that have from
time to time appeared in the world, enriched with
various endowments and contrarieties of excellence,
none seems to have been exalted above the common
rate of humanity, than the man known about two
centuries ago by the appellation of the Admirable
Crichton; of whose history, whatever we may suppress
as surpassing credibility, yet we shall, upon
incontestable authority, relate enough to rank him
among prodigies.
"Virtue," says Virgil, "is better accepted when
it comes in a pleasing form:" the person of Crichton
was eminently beautiful; but his beauty was
consistent with such activity and strength, that
in fencing he would spring at one bound the
length of twenty feet upon his antagonist; and he
used the sword in either hand with such force and
dexterity, that scarce any one had courage to engage him.
Having studied at St. Andrews in Scotland, he
went to Paris in his twenty-first year, and affixed on
the gate of the college of Navarre a kind of challenge
to the learned of that university to dispute with him
on a certain day: offering to his opponents, whoever
they should be, the choice of ten languages, and of
all faculties and sciences. On the day appointed three
thousand auditors assembled, when four doctors of
the church and fifty masters appeared against him;
and one of his antagonists confesses, that the doctors
were defeated; that he gave proofs of knowledge
above the reach of man; and that a hundred years
passed without food or sleep, would not be sufficient
for the attainment of his learning. After a disputation
of nine hours, he was presented by the president
and professors with a diamond and a purse of gold,
and dismissed with repeated acclamations.
From Paris he went away to Rome, where he made
the same challenge, and had in the presence of the
pope and cardinals the same success. Afterwards he
contracted at Venice an acquaintance with Aldus
Manutius, by whom he was introduced to the learned
of that city: then visited Padua, where he engaged
in another publick disputation, beginning his
performance with an extemporal poem in praise of the
city and the assembly then present, and concluding
with an oration equally unpremeditated in commendation
of ignorance.
He afterwards published another challenge, in
which he declared himself ready to detect the errours
of Aristotle and all his commentators, either
in the common forms of logick, or in any which his
antagonists should propose of a hundred different
kinds of verse.
These acquisitions of learning, however
stupendous, were not gained at the expense of any pleasure
which youth generally indulges, or by the omission
of any accomplishment in which it becomes a gentleman
to excel: he practised in great perfection the
arts of drawing and painting, he was an eminent
performer in both vocal and instrumental musick, he
danced with uncommon gracefulness, and, on the day
after his disputation at Paris, exhibited his skill in
horsemanship before the court of France, where at a
publick match of tilting, he bore away the ring upon
his lance fifteen times together.
He excelled likewise in domestic games of less
dignity and reputation: and in the interval between
his challenge and disputation at Paris, he spent so
much of his time at cards, dice, and tennis, that a
lampoon was fixed upon the gate of the Sorbonne,
directing those that would see this monster of
erudition, to look for him at the tavern.
So extensive was his acquaintance with life and
manners, that in an Italian comedy composed by
himself, and exhibited before the court of Mantua,
he is said to have personated fifteen different
characters; in all which he might succeed without great
difficulty, since he had such power of retention, that
once hearing an oration of an hour, he would repeat
it exactly, and in the recital follow the speaker
through all his variety of tone and gesticulation.
Nor was his skill in arms less than in learning, or
his courage inferior to his skill: there was a prizefighter
at Mantua, who travelling about the world,
according to the barbarous custom of that age, as a
general challenger, had defeated the most celebrated
masters in many parts of Europe; and in Mantua,
where he then resided, had killed three that appeared
against him. The duke repented that he had granted
him his protection; when Crichton, looking on his
sanguinary success with indignation, offered to stake
fifteen hundred pistoles, and mount the stage against
him. The duke with some reluctance consented, and
on the day fixed the combatants appeared: their
weapon seems to have been single rapier, which was
then newly introduced in Italy. The prize-fighter
advanced with great violence and fierceness, and
Crichton contended himself calmly to ward his
passes, and suffered him to exhaust his vigour by
his own fury. Crichton then became the assailant;
and pressed upon him with such force and agility,
that he thrust him thrice through the body, and
saw him expire: he then divided the prize he had
won among the widows whose husbands had been
The death of this wonderful man I should be
willing to conceal, did I not know that every reader
will inquire curiously after that fatal hour, which is
common to all human beings, however distinguished
from each other by nature or by fortune.
The duke of Mantua, having received so many
proofs of his various merit, made him tutor to his
son Vicentio di Gonzaga, a prince of loose manners
and turbulent disposition. On this occasion it was,
that he composed the comedy in which he exhibited
so many different characters with exact propriety.
But his honour was of short continuance; for
as he was one night in the time of Carnival
rambling about the streets, with his guitar in his hand,
he was attacked by six men masked. Neither his
courage nor skill in his exigence deserted him: he
opposed them with such activity and spirit, that
he soon dispersed them, and disarmed their leader,
who throwing off his mask, discovered himself to
be the prince his pupil. Crichton, falling on his knees,
took his own sword by the point, and presented it to
the prince; who immediately seized it, and instigated,
as some say, by jealousy, according to others,
only by drunken fury and brutal resentment, thrust
him through the heart.
Thus was the Admirable Crichton brought into
that state, in which he could excel the meanest of
mankind only by a few empty honours paid to his
memory: the court of Mantua testified their esteem
by a publick mourning, the contemporary wits were
profuse of their encomiums, and the palaces of Italy
were adorned with pictures, representing him on
horseback with a lance in one hand and a book
in the other[i].
[i] This paper is enumerated by Chalmers among those which
Johnson dictated, not to Bathurst, but to Hawkesworth. It is an
elegant summary of Crichton's life which is in Mackenzie's
Writers of the Scotch Nation. See a fuller account by the Earl
of Buchan and Dr. Kippis in the Biog. Brit. and the recently
published one by Mr. Frazer Tytler.
No. 84. SATURDAY, AUGUST 25, 1753
----------------Tolle periclum,
Jam vaga prosiliet frenis natura remotis.
HOR. Lib. ii. Sat. vii. 73.
But take the danger and the shame away,
And vagrant nature bounds upon her prey. FRANCIS.
IT has been observed, I think, by Sir William
Temple, and after him by almost every other
writer, that England affords a greater variety of
characters than the rest of the world. This is
ascribed to the liberty prevailing amongst us, which
gives every man the privilege of being wise or
foolish his own way, and preserves him from the
necessity of hypocrisy or the servility of imitation.
That the position itself is true, I am not
completely satisfied. To be nearly acquainted with the
people of different countries can happen to very few;
and in life, as in every thing else beheld at a
distance, there appears an even uniformity: the petty
discriminations which diversify the natural character,
are not discoverable but by a close inspection;
we, therefore, find them most at home, because there
we have most opportunities of remarking them.
Much less am I convinced, that this peculiar
diversification, if it be real, is the consequence of
peculiar liberty; for where is the government to be found
that superintends individuals with so much vigilance,
as not to leave their private conduct without
restraint? Can it enter into a reasonable mind to
imagine, that men of every other nation are not equally
masters of their own time or houses with ourselves,
and equally at liberty to be parsimonious or profuse,
frolick or sullen, abstinent or luxurious? Liberty is
certainly necessary to the full play of predominant
humours; but such liberty is to be found alike under
the government of the many or the few, in
monarchies or commonwealths.
How readily the predominant passion snatches an
interval of liberty, and how fast it expands itself
when the weight of restraint is taken away, I had
lately an opportunity to discover, as I took a journey
into the country in a stage-coach; which, as every
journey is a kind of adventure, may be very properly
related to you, though I can display no such
extraordinary assembly as Cervantes has collected
at Don Quixote's inn[j].
[j] Johnson has made impressive allusion to the immortal
work of Cervantes in his Second Rambler. Every reflecting man
must arise from its perusal with feelings of the deepest
melancholy, with the most tender commiseration for the weakness
and lot of humanity. To such a man its moral must ever be
"profoundly sad." Vulgar minds cannot know it. Hence it has
ever been the favorite with the intellectual class, while Gil
Blas has more generally won the applause of men of the world. An
amusing anecdote of the almost universal admiration for the chef
d 'oeuvre of Le Sage may be found in Butler's Reminiscences.
That bigotted, yet extraordinary man, Alva, predicted, with
prophetic precision, the effects which the satire on Chivalry
would produce in Spain. See Broad Stone of Honour, or Rules for
the Gentlemen of England.
In a stage coach, the passengers are for the most
part wholly unknown to one another, and without
expectation of ever meeting again when their
journey is at an end; one should therefore
imagine, that it was of little importance to any of
them, what conjectures the rest should form concerning
him. Yet so it is, that as all think themselves
secure from detection, all assume that character of
which they are most desirous, and on no occasion is
the general ambition of superiority more apparently
On the day of our departure, in the twilight of
the morning, I ascended the vehicle with three men
and two women, my fellow travellers. It was easy
to observe the affected elevation of mien with which
every one entered, and the supercilious servility with
which they paid their compliments to each other.
When the first ceremony was despatched, we sat
silent for a long time, all employed in collecting
importance into our faces, and endeavouring to strike
reverence and submission into our companions.
It is always observable that silence propagates
itself, and that the longer talk has been suspended, the
more difficult it is to find any thing to say. We began
now to wish for conversation; but no one seemed
inclined to descend from his dignity, or first propose
a topick of discourse. At last a corpulent gentleman,
who had equipped himself for this expedition with
a scarlet surtout and a large hat with a broad lace,
drew out his watch, looked on it in silence, and then
held it dangling at his finger. This was, I suppose,
understood by all the company as an invitation to
ask the time of the day, but nobody appeared to
heed his overture; and his desire to be talking so far
overcame his resentment, that he let us know of his
own accord it was past five, and that in two hours
we should be at breakfast.
His condescension was thrown away: we continued
all obdurate; the ladies held up their heads; I
amused myself with watching their behaviour; and
of the other two, one seemed to employ himself in
counting the trees as we drove by them, the other
drew his hat over his eyes, and counterfeited a
slumber. The man of benevolence, to shew that he was
not depressed by our neglect, hummed a tune, and
beat time upon his snuff-box.
Thus universally displeased with one another, and
not much delighted with ourselves, we came at last
to the little inn appointed for our repast; and all began
at once to recompense themselves for the constraint
of silence, by innumerable questions and
orders to the people that attended us. At last, what
every one had called for was got, or declared
impossible to be got at that time, and we were persuaded
to sit round the same table; when the gentleman in
the red surtout looked again upon his watch, told us
that we had half an hour to spare, but he was sorry
to see so little merriment among us; that all fellow
travellers were for the time upon the level, and that
it was always his way to make himself one of the
company. "I remember," says he, "it was on just
such a morning as this, that I and my Lord Mumble
and the Duke of Tenterden were out upon a ramble:
we called at a little house as it might be this; and
my landlady, I warrant you, not suspecting to whom
she was talking, was so jocular and facetious, and
made so many merry answers to our questions, that
we were all ready to burst with laughter. At last the
good woman happening to overhear me whisper the
duke and call him by his title, was so surprised and
confounded, that we could scarcely get a word from
her; and the duke never met me from that day to
this, but he talks of the little house, and quarrels
with me for terrifying the landlady."
He had scarcely time to congratulate himself on
the veneration which this narrative must have
procured for him from the company, when one of the
ladies having reached out for a plate on a distant part
of the table, began to remark, "the inconveniences
of travelling, and the difficulty which they who never
sat at home without a great number of attendants,
found in performing for themselves such offices as
the road required; but that people of quality often
travelled in disguise, and might be generally known
from the vulgar by their condescension to poor innkeepers,
and the allowance which they made for any
defect in their entertainment; that for her part,
while people were civil and meant well, it was never
her custom to find fault, for one was not to expect
upon a journey all that one enjoyed at one's own
A general emulation seemed now to be excited.
One of the men who had hitherto said nothing, called
for the last newspaper; and having perused it a while
with deep pensiveness, "It is impossible," says he,
"for any man to guess how to act with regard to
the stocks; last week it was the general opinion that
they would fall; and I sold out twenty thousand
pounds in order to a purchase: they have now risen
unexpectedly; and I make no doubt but at my
return to London I shall risk thirty thousand pounds
among them again."
A young man, who had hitherto distinguished
himself only by the vivacity of his looks, and a frequent
diversion of his eyes from one object to another,
upon this closed his snuff-box, and told us that "he
had a hundred times talked with the chancellor and
the judges on the subject of the stocks; that for his
part he did not pretend to be well acquainted with
the principles on which they were established, but
had always heard them reckoned pernicious to trade,
uncertain in their produce, and unsolid in their foundation;
and that he had been advised by three judges,
his most intimate friends, never to venture his money
in the funds, but to put it out upon land security,
till he could light upon an estate in his own country."
It might be expected, that upon these glimpses
of latent dignity, we should all have begun to look
round us with veneration; and have behaved like the
princes of romance, when the enchantment that
disguises them is dissolved, and they discover the
dignity of each other; yet it happened, that none of
these hints made much impression on the company;
every one was apparently suspected of endeavouring
to impose false appearances upon the rest; all
continued their haughtiness in hopes to enforce their
claims; and all grew every hour more sullen, because
they found their representations of themselves without
Thus we travelled on four days with malevolence
perpetually increasing, and without any endeavour
but to outvie each other in superciliousness and
neglect; and when any two of us could separate
ourselves for a moment we vented our indignation at
the sauciness of the rest.
At length the journey was at an end; and time and
chance, that strip off all disguises, have discovered
that the intimate of lords and dukes is a nobleman's
butler, who has furnished a shop with the money he
has saved; the man who deals so largely in the funds,
is the clerk of a broker in Change-alley; the lady who
so carefully concealed her quality, keeps a cook-shop
behind the Exchange; and the young man who is so
happy in the friendship of the judges, engrosses
and transcribes for bread in a garret of the Temple.
Of one of the women only I could make no
disadvantageous detection, because she had assumed no
character, but accommodated herself to the scene
before her, without any struggle for distinction or
I could not forbear to reflect on the folly of
practising a fraud, which, as the event showed, had been
already practised too often to succeed, and by the
success of which no advantage could have been
obtained; of assuming a character, which was to end
with the day; and of claiming upon false pretences
honours which must perish with the breath that paid
But, Mr. Adventurer, let not those who laugh at
me and my companions, think this folly confined to
a stage-coach. Every man in the journey of life takes
the same advantage of the ignorance of his fellow
travellers, disguises himself in counterfeited merit,
and hears those praises with complacency which his
conscience reproaches him for accepting. Every man
deceives himself while he thinks he is deceiving
others; and forgets that the time is at hand when
every illusion shall cease, when fictitious excellence
shall be torn away, and ALL must be shown to ALL in
their real state.
I am, Sir, your humble servant,
No. 85. TUESDAY, AUGUST 28, 1753
Qui studet optatam cursu contingere metam,
Multa tulit fecitque puer. Hon. De Ar. Poet. 412.
The youth, who hopes th' Olympic prize to gain,
All arts must try, and every toil sustain. FRANCIS.
IT is observed by Bacon, that "reading makes a
full man, conversation a ready man, and writing
an exact man."
As Bacon attained to degrees of knowledge
scarcely ever reached by any other man, the directions
which he gives for study have certainly a just
claim to our regard; for who can teach an art with
so great authority, as he that has practised it with
undisputed success?
Under the protection of so great a name, I shall,
therefore, venture to inculcate to my ingenious
contemporaries, the necessity of reading, the fitness of
consulting other understandings than their own, and
of considering the sentiments and opinions of those
who, however neglected in the present age, had in
their own times, and many of them a long time
afterwards, such reputation for knowledge and acuteness
as will scarcely ever be attained by those that
despise them.
An opinion has of late been, I know not how,
propagated among us, that libraries are filled only
with useless lumber; that men of parts stand in need
of no assistance; and that to spend life in poring upon
books, is only to imbibe prejudices, to obstruct and
embarrass the powers of nature, to cultivate memory
at the expense of judgment, and to bury reason
under a chaos of indigested learning.
Such is the talk of many who think themselves
wise, and of some who are thought wise by others;
of whom part probably believe their own tenets, and
part may be justly suspected of endeavouring to
shelter their ignorance in multitudes, and of wishing to
destroy that reputation which they have no hopes
to share. It will, I believe, be found invariably true,
that learning was never decried by any learned man;
and what credit can be given to those who venture
to condemn that which they do not know?
If reason has the power ascribed to it by its
advocates, if so much is to be discovered by attention
and meditation, it is hard to believe, that so many
millions, equally participating of the bounties of
nature with ourselves, have been for ages upon ages
meditating in vain: if the wits of the present time
expect the regard of posterity, which will then
inherit the reason which is now thought superior to
instruction, surely they may allow themselves to be
instructed by the reason of former generations.
When, therefore, an author declares, that he has
been able to learn nothing from the writings of his
predecessors, and such a declaration has been lately
made, nothing but a degree of arrogance unpardonable
in the greatest human understanding, can
hinder him from perceiving that he is raising
prejudices against his own performance; for with what
hopes of success can he attempt that in which
greater abilities have hitherto miscarried? or with
what peculiar force does he suppose himself invigorated,
that difficulties hitherto invincible should give
way before him?
Of those whom Providence has qualified to make
any additions to human knowledge, the number is
extremely small; and what can be added by each
single mind, even of this superior class, is very
little: the greatest part of mankind must owe all
their knowledge, and all must owe far the larger
part of it, to the information of others. To understand
the works of celebrated authors, to comprehend
their systems, and retain their reasonings, is a
task more than equal to common intellects; and
he is by no means to be accounted useless or idle,
who has stored his mind with acquired knowledge,
and can detail it occasionally to others who have
less leisure or weaker abilities.
Persius has justly observed, that knowledge is
nothing to him who is not known by others to
possess it[k]: to the scholar himself it is nothing
with respect either to honor or advantage, for the
world cannot reward those qualities which are
concealed from it; with respect to others it is nothing,
because it affords no help to ignorance or errour.
[k] Scire tuum nihil est, nisi te scire hoc sciat alter.
Sat. i. 27.
It is with justice, therefore, that in an
accomplished character, Horace unites just sentiments
with the power of expressing them; and he that
has once accumulated learning, is next to consider,
how he shall most widely diffuse and most agreeably
impart it.
A ready man is made by conversation. He that
buries himself among his manuscripts, "besprent,"
as Pope expresses it, "with learned dust," and
wears out his days and nights in perpetual research
and solitary meditation, is too apt to lose in his
elocution what he adds to his wisdom; and when
he comes into the world, to appear overloaded with
his own notions, like a man armed with weapons
which he cannot wield. He has no facility of
inculcating his speculations, of adapting himself to the
various degrees of intellect which the accidents of
conversation will present; but will talk to most
unintelligibly, and to all unpleasantly.
I was once present at the lectures of a profound
philosopher, a man really skilled in the science
which he professed, who having occasion to explain
the terms opacum and pellucidum, told us, after
some hesitation, that opacum was, as one might
say, opake, and that pellucidum signified pellucid.
Such was the dexterity with which this learned
reader facilitated to his auditors the intricacies of
science; and so true is it, that a man may know what
he cannot teach.
Boerhaave complains, that the writers who have
treated of chymistry before him, are useless to the
greater part of students, because they presuppose
their readers to have such degrees of skill as are not
often to be found. Into the same errour are all men
apt to fall, who have familiarized any subject to
themselves in solitude: they discourse, as if they
thought every other man had been employed in the
same inquiries; and expect that short hints and
obscure allusions will produce in others the same train
of ideas which they excite in themselves.
Nor is this the only inconvenience which the man
of study suffers from a recluse life. When he meets
with an opinion that pleases him, he catches it up
with eagerness; looks only after such arguments as
tend to his confirmation; or spares himself the
trouble of discussion, and adopts it with very little
proof; indulges it long without suspicion, and in
time unites it to the general body of his knowledge,
and treasures it up among incontestable truths:
but when he comes into the world among men who,
arguing upon dissimilar principles, have been led to
different conclusions, and being placed in various
situations, view the same object on many sides; he
finds his darling position attacked, and himself in
no condition to defend it: having thought always
in one train, he is in the state of a man who having
fenced always with the same master, is perplexed
and amazed by a new posture of his antagonist; he
is entangled in unexpected difficulties, he is harassed
by sudden objections, he is unprovided with solutions
or replies; his surprise impedes his natural
powers of reasoning, his thoughts are scattered and
confounded, and he gratifies the pride of airy
petulance with an easy victory.
It is difficult to imagine, with what obstinacy
truths which one mind perceives almost by intuition,
will be rejected by another; and how many
artifices must be practised, to procure admission for
the most evident propositions into understandings
frighted by their novelty, or hardened against them
by accidental prejudice; it can scarcely be conceived,
how frequently, in these extemporaneous controversies,
the dull will be subtle, and the acute absurd;
how often stupidity will elude the force of
argument, by involving itself in its own gloom; and
mistaken ingenuity will weave artful fallacies, which
reason can scarcely find means to disentangle.
In these encounters the learning of the recluse
usually fails him: nothing but long habit and frequent
experiments can confer the power of changing
a position into various forms, presenting it in
different points of view, connecting it with known
and granted truths, fortifying it with intelligible
arguments, and illustrating it by apt similitudes;
and he, therefore, that has collected his knowledge
in solitude, must learn its application by mixing
with mankind.
But while the various opportunities of conversation
invite us to try every mode of argument, and
every art of recommending our sentiments, we are
frequently betrayed to the use of such as are not in
themselves strictly defensible: a man heated in talk,
and eager of victory, takes advantage of the mistakes
or ignorance of his adversary, lays hold of
concessions to which he knows he has no right, and
urges proofs likely to prevail on his opponent, though
he knows himself that they have no force: thus the
severity of reason is relaxed, many topicks are
accumulated, but without just arrangement or
distinction; we learn to satisfy ourselves with such
ratiocination as silences others; and seldom recall to
a close examination, that discourse which has gratified
our vanity with victory and applause.
Some caution, therefore, must be used lest
copiousness and facility be made less valuable by inaccuracy
and confusion. To fix the thoughts by writing, and
subject them to frequent examinations and reviews,
is the best method of enabling the mind to detect its
own sophisms, and keep it on guard against the
fallacies which it practises on others: in conversation we
naturally diffuse our thoughts, and in writing we
contract them; method is the excellence of writing,
and unconstraint the grace of conversation.
To read, write, and converse in due proportions,
is, therefore, the business of a man of letters. For
all these there is not often equal opportunity;
excellence, therefore, is not often attainable; and most
men fail in one or other of the ends proposed, and
are full without readiness, or without exactness.
Some deficiency must be forgiven all, because all
are men; and more must be allowed to pass uncensured
in the greater part of the world, because none
can confer upon himself abilities, and few have the
choice of situations proper for the improvement of
those which nature has bestowed: it is, however,
reasonable to have PERFECTION in our eye; that we may
always advance towards it, though we know it never
can be reached.
No. 92. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 1753
Cum tabulis animum censoris sumet honesti.
HOR. Lib. ii. Ep. ii. 110.
Bold be the critick, zealous to his trust,
Like the firm judge inexorably just.
IN the papers of criticism which you have given to
the publick, I have remarked a spirit of candour
and love of truth equally remote from bigotry and
captiousness; a just distribution of praise amongst
the ancients and the moderns: a sober deference to
reputation long established, without a blind adoration
of antiquity; and a willingness to favour later
performances, without a light or puerile fondness
for novelty.
I shall, therefore, venture to lay before you, such
observations as have risen to my mind in the
consideration of Virgil's pastorals, without any inquiry
how far my sentiments deviate from established rules
or common opinions.
If we survey the ten pastorals in a general view,
it will be found that Virgil can derive from them
very little claim to the praise of an inventor. To
search into the antiquity of this kind of poetry is
not my present purpose; that it has long subsisted in
the east, the Sacred Writings sufficiently inform us;
and we may conjecture, with great probability, that
it was sometimes the devotion, and sometimes the
entertainment of the first generations of mankind.
Theocritus united elegance with simplicity; and
taught his shepherds to sing with so much ease and
harmony, that his countrymen, despairing to excel,
forbore to imitate him; and the Greeks, however
vain or ambitious, left him in quiet possession of the
garlands which the wood-nymphs had bestowed
upon him.
Virgil, however, taking advantage of another
language, ventured to copy or to rival the Sicilian bard:
he has written with greater splendour of diction, and
elevation of sentiment: but as the magnificence of
his performances was more, the simplicity was less;
and, perhaps, where he excels Theocritus, he sometimes
obtains his superiority by deviating from the
pastoral character, and performing what Theocritus
never attempted.
Yet, though I would willingly pay to Theocritus
the honour which is always due to an original author,
I am far from intending to depreciate Virgil: of
whom Horace justly declares, that the rural muses
have appropriated to him their elegance and sweetness,
and who, as he copied Theocritus in his design,
has resembled him likewise in his success; for,
if we except Calphurnius, an obscure author of the
lower ages, I know not that a single pastoral was
written after him by any poet, till the revival of
But though his general merit has been universally
acknowledged, I am far from thinking all the
productions of his rural Thalia equally excellent; there
is, indeed, in all his pastorals a strain of versification
which it is vain to seek in any other poet; but if we
except the first and the tenth, they seem liable either
wholly or in part to considerable objections.
The second, though we should forget the great
charge against it, which I am afraid can never be
refuted, might, I think, have perished, without any
diminution of the praise of its author; for I know
not that it contains one affecting sentiment or pleasing
description, or one passage that strikes the
imagination or awakens the passions.
The third contains a contest between two
shepherds, begun with a quarrel of which some particulars
might well be spared, carried on with sprightliness
and elegance, and terminated at last in a reconciliation:
but, surely, whether the invectives with which
they attack each other be true or false, they are too
much degraded from the dignity of pastoral innocence;
and instead of rejoicing that they are both
victorious, I should not have grieved could they
have been both defeated.
The poem to Pollio is, indeed, of another kind:
it is filled with images at once splendid and pleasing,
and is elevated with grandeur of language
worthy of the first of Roman poets; but I am not
able to reconcile myself to the disproportion between
the performance and the occasion that produced it:
that the golden age should return because Pollio
had a son, appears so wild a fiction, that I am ready
to suspect the poet of having written, for some
other purpose, what he took this opportunity of
producing to the publick.
The fifth contains a celebration of Daphnis, which
has stood to all succeeding ages as the model of
pastoral elegies. To deny praise to a performance
which so many thousands have laboured to imitate,
would be to judge with too little deference for the
opinion of mankind: yet whoever shall read it with
impartiality, will find that most of the images are of
the mythological kind, and therefore easily invented;
and that there are few sentiments of rational praise
or natural lamentation.
In the Silenus he again rises to the dignity of
philosophick sentiments, and heroick poetry. The
address to Varus is eminently beautiful: but since
the compliment paid to Gallus fixes the transaction
to his own time, the fiction of Silenus seems
injudicious: nor has any sufficient reason yet been found,
to justify his choice of those fables that make the
subject of the song.
The seventh exhibits another contest of the tuneful
shepherds: and, surely, it is not without some
reproach to his inventive power, that of ten
pastorals Virgil has written two upon the same plan.
One of the shepherds now gains an acknowledged
victory, but without any apparent superiority, and
the reader, when he sees the prize adjudged, is not
able to discover how it was deserved.
Of the eighth pastoral, so little is properly the
work of Virgil, that he has no claim to other praise
or blame than that of a translator.
Of the ninth, it is scarce possible to discover the
design or tendency; it is said, I know not upon
what authority, to have been composed from fragments
of other poems; and except a few lines in
which the author touches upon his own misfortunes,
there is nothing that seems appropriated to any time
or place, or of which any other use can be discovered
than to fill up the poem.
The first and the tenth pastorals, whatever be
determined of the rest, are sufficient to place their
author above the reach of rivalry. The complaint
of Gallus disappointed in his love, is full of such
sentiments as disappointed love naturally produces; his
wishes are wild, his resentment is tender, and his
purposes are inconstant. In the genuine language
of despair, he soothes himself awhile with the pity
that shall be paid him after his death.
--------Tamen cantabitis, arcades, inquit,
Montibus hoec vestris: soli cantare periti
Arcades. O mihi tum quam molliter ossa quiescant,
Vestra meos olim si fistula dicat amores! Virg. Ec. x. 31.
--------Yet, O Arcadian swains,
Ye best artificers of soothing strains!
Tune your soft reeds, and teach your rocks my woes,
So shall my shade in sweeter rest repose.
O that your birth and business had been mine;
To feed the flock, and prune the spreading vine! WARTON.
Discontented with his present condition, and
desirous to be any thing but what he is, he wishes
himself one of the shepherds. He then catches the
idea of rural tranquillity; but soon discovers how
much happier he should be in these happy regions,
with Lycoris at his side:
Hic gelidi fontes, hic mollia prata, Lycori:
Hic nemus, hic ipso tecum consumerer oevo.
Nunc insanus amor duri me Martis in armis
Tela inter media atque adversos detinet hostes.
Tu procul a patria (nec sit mihi credere) tantum
Alpinas, ah dura, nives, et frigora Rheni
Me sine sola vides. Ah te ne frigora laedant!
Ah tibi ne teneras glacies secet aspera plantas! Ec. x. 42.
Here cooling fountains roll through flow'ry meads,
Here woods, Lycoris, lift their verdant heads;
Here could I wear my careless life away,
And in thy arms insensibly decay.
Instead of that, me frantick love detains,
'Mid foes, and dreadful darts, and bloody plains:
While you--and can my soul the tale believe,
Far from your country, lonely wand'ring leave
Me, me your lover, barbarous fugitive!
Seek the rough Alps where snows eternal shine,
And joyless borders of the frozen Rhine.
Ah! may no cold e'er blast my dearest maid,
Nor pointed ice thy tender feet invade. WARTON.
He then turns his thoughts on every side, in quest
of something that may solace or amuse him: he proposes
happiness to himself, first in one scene and
then in another: and at last finds that nothing will
Jam neque Hamodryades rursum, nec carmina nobis
Ipsa placent: ipsoe rursum concedite sylvae.
Non illum nostri possunt mutare labores;
Nec si frigoribus mediis Hebrumque bibamus,
Sithoniasque nives hyemis subeamus aquosae:
Nec si, cum moriens alta liber aret in ulmo
AEthiopum versemus oves sub sidere Cancri.
Omnia vincit amor; et nos cedamus amori. Ec. x. 62.
But now again no more the woodland maids,
Nor pastoral songs delight--Farewell, ye shades--
No toils of ours the cruel god can change,
Tho' lost in frozen deserts we should range;
Tho' we should drink where chilling Hebrus flows,
Endure bleak winter blasts, and Thracian snows:
Or on hot India's plains our flocks should feed,
Where the parch'd elm declines his sickening head,
Beneath fierce-glowing Cancer's fiery beams,
Far from cool breezes and refreshing streams.
Love over all maintains resistless sway,
And let us love's all-conquering power obey. WARTON.
But notwithstanding the excellence of the tenth
pastoral, I cannot forbear to give the preference to
the first, which is equally natural and more diversified.
The complaint of the shepherd, who saw his old
companion at ease in the shade, while himself was
driving his little flock he knew not whither, is such
as, with variation of circumstances, misery always
utters at the sight of prosperity:
Nos patriae fines, et dulcia linquimus arva;
Nos patriam fugimus: Tu, Tityre, lentus in umbra
Formosam resonare doces Amaryllida sylvas. Ec. i. 3.
We leave our country's bounds, our much-lov'd plains;
We from our country fly, unhappy swains!
You, Tit'rus, in the groves at leisure laid,
Teach Amaryllis' name to every shade. WARTON.
His account of the difficulties of his journey, gives
a very tender image of pastoral distress:
------------En ipse capellas
Protenus aeger ago: hanc etiam vix, Tityre, duco:
Hic inter densas corylos modo namque gemellos,
Spem gregis, ah! silice in nuda connixa reliquit. Ec. i. 12.
And lo! sad partner of the general care.
Weary and faint I drive my goats afar!
While scarcely this my leading hand sustains,
Tired with the way, and recent from her pains;
For 'mid yon tangled hazels as we past,
On the bare flints her hapless twin she cast,
The hopes and promise of my ruin'd fold! WARTON.
The description of Virgil's happiness in his little
farm, combines almost all the images of rural pleasure;
and he, therefore, that can read it with indifference,
has no sense of pastoral poetry:
Fortunate senex! ergo tua rura manebunt,
Et tibi magna satis; quamvis lapis omnia nudus,
Limosoque palus obducat pascua junco:
Non insueta graves tentabunt pabula foetas,
Nec mala vicini pecoris contagia loedent.
Fortunate senex! hic inter flumina nota,
Et fontes sacros, frigus captabis opacum.
Hinc tibi, quae semper vicino ab limite sepes,
Hyblaeis apibus florem depasta salicti,
Saepe levi somnum suadebit inire susurro.
Hinc alta sub rupe canet frondator ad auras.
Nec tamen interea raucae, tua cura, palumbes,
Nec gemere aeria cessabit turtur ab ulmo. Ec. i. 47.
Happy old man! then still thy farms restored,
Enough for thee, shall bless thy frugal board.
What tho' rough stones the naked soil o'erspread,
Or marshy bulrush rear its wat'ry head,
No foreign food thy teeming ewes shall fear,
No touch contagious spread its influence here.
Happy old man! here 'mid th' accustom'd streams
And sacred springs, you'll shun the scorching beams;
While from yon willow-fence, thy picture's bound,
The bees that suck their flow'ry stores around,
Shall sweetly mingle with the whispering boughs
Their lulling murmurs, and invite repose:
While from steep rocks the pruner's song is heard;
Nor the soft-cooing dove, thy fav'rite bird,
Meanwhile shall cease to breathe her melting strain,
Nor turtles from th' aerial elm to 'plain. WARTON.
It may be observed, that these two poems were
produced by events that really happened; and may,
therefore, be of use to prove, that we can always feel
more than we can imagine, and that the most artful
fiction must give way to truth.
I am, Sir, Your humble servant,
No. 95. TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2, 1753
----Dulcique animos novitate tenebo. OVID. Met. iv. 284.
And with sweet novelty your soul detain.
IT is often charged upon writers, that with all their
pretensions to genius and discoveries, they do little
more than copy one another; and that compositions
obtruded upon the world with the pomp of novelty,
contain only tedious repetitions of common sentiments,
or at best exhibit a transposition of known
images, and give a new appearance of truth only by
some slight difference of dress and decoration.
The allegation of resemblance between authors is
indisputably true; but the charge of plagiarism,
which is raised upon it, is not to be allowed with
equal readiness. A coincidence of sentiment may
easily happen without any communication, since
there are many occasions in which all reasonable men
will nearly think alike. Writers of all ages have had
the same sentiments, because they have in all ages
had the same objects of speculation; the interests and
passions, the virtues and vices of mankind, have been
diversified in different times, only by unessential and
casual varieties: and we must, therefore, expect in
the works of all those who attempt to describe them,
such a likeness as we find in the pictures of the same
person drawn in different periods of his life.
It is necessary, therefore, that before an author be
charged with plagiarism, one of the most reproachful,
though, perhaps, not the most atrocious of literary
crimes, the subject on which he treats should
be carefully considered. We do not wonder, that
historians, relating the same facts, agree in their
narration; or that authors, delivering the elements of
science, advance the same theorems, and lay down
the same definitions: yet it is not wholly without
use to mankind, that books are multiplied, and that
different authors lay out their labours on the same
subject; for there will always be some reason why
one should on particular occasions, or to particular
persons, be preferable to another; some will be clear
where others are obscure, some will please by their
style and others by their method, some by their
embellishments and others by their simplicity, some by
closeness and others by diffusion.
The same indulgence is to be shown to the writers
of morality: right and wrong are immutable; and
those, therefore, who teach us to distinguish them, if
they all teach us right, must agree with one another.
The relations of social life, and the duties resulting
from them, must be the same at all times and in all
nations: some petty differences may be, indeed,
produced, by forms of government or arbitrary customs;
but the general doctrine can receive no alteration.
Yet it is not to be desired, that morality should be
considered as interdicted to all future writers: men
will always be tempted to deviate from their duty,
and will, therefore, always want a monitor to recall
them; and a new book often seizes the attention of
the publick, without any other claim than that it is
new. There is likewise in composition, as in other
things, a perpetual vicissitude of fashion; and truth
is recommended at one time to regard, by
appearances which at another would expose it to neglect;
the author, therefore, who has judgment to discern
the taste of his contemporaries, and skill to gratify
it, will have always an opportunity to deserve well
of mankind, by conveying instruction to them in a
grateful vehicle.
There are likewise many modes of composition,
by which a moralist may deserve the name of an
original writer: he may familiarize his system by
dialogues after the manner of the ancients, or subtilize
it into a series of syllogistick arguments: he may
enforce his doctrine by seriousness and solemnity,
or enliven it by sprightliness and gaiety: he may
deliver his sentiments in naked precepts, or illustrate
them by historical examples: he may detain the
studious by the artful concatenation of a continued
discourse, or relieve the busy by short strictures, and
unconnected essays.
To excel in any of these forms of writing will
require a particular cultivation of the genius: whoever
can attain to excellence, will be certain to engage
a set of readers, whom no other method would have
equally allured; and he that communicates truth
with success, must be numbered among the first
benefactors to mankind.
The same observation may be extended likewise
to the passions: their influence is uniform, and their
effects nearly the same in every human breast: a man
loves and hates, desires and avoids, exactly like his
neighbour; resentment and ambition, avarice and
indolence, discover themselves by the same symptoms
in minds distant a thousand years from one another.
Nothing, therefore, can be more unjust, than to
charge an author with plagiarism, merely because he
assigns to every cause its natural effect; and makes
his personages act, as others in like circumstances
have always done. There are conceptions in which
all men will agree, though each derives them from
his own observation: whoever has been in love, will
represent a lover impatient of every idea that
interrupts his meditations on his mistress, retiring to
shades and solitude, that he may muse without
disturbance on his approaching happiness, or associating
himself with some friend that flatters his passion,
and talking away the hours of absence upon his darling
subject. Whoever has been so unhappy as to have
felt the miseries of long-continued hatred, will,
without any assistance from ancient volumes, be able to
relate how the passions are kept in perpetual agitation,
by the recollection of injury and meditations of
revenge; how the blood boils at the name of the enemy,
and life is worn away in contrivances of mischief.
Every other passion is alike simple and limited,
if it be considered only with regard to the breast
which it inhabits; the anatomy of the mind, as that
of the body, must perpetually exhibit the same
appearances; and though by the continued industry
of successive inquirers, new movements will be from
time to time discovered, they can affect only the
minuter parts, and are commonly of more curiosity
than importance.
It will now be natural to inquire, by what arts are
the writers of the present and future ages to attract
the notice and favour of mankind. They are to
observe the alterations which time is always making
in the modes of life, that they may gratify every
generation with a picture of themselves. Thus love
is uniform, but courtship is perpetually varying: the
different arts of gallantry, which beauty has inspired,
would of themselves be sufficient to fill a volume;
sometimes balls and serenades, sometimes tournaments
and adventures, have been employed to melt
the hearts of ladies, who in another century have
been sensible of scarce any other merit than that of
riches, and listened only to jointures and pin-money.
Thus the ambitious man has at all times been eager
of wealth and power; but these hopes have been
gratified in some countries by supplicating the people,
and in others by flattering the prince: honour
in some states has been only the reward of military
achievements, in others it has been gained by noisy
turbulence and popular clamours. Avarice has worn
a different form, as she actuated the usurer of Rome,
and the stock-jobber of England; and idleness itself,
how little soever inclined to the trouble of invention,
has been forced from time to time to change its
amusements, and contrive different methods of wearing
out the day.
Here then is the fund, from which those who study
mankind may fill their compositions with an
inexhaustible variety of images and allusions: and he
must be confessed to look with little attention upon
scenes thus perpetually changing, who cannot catch
some of the figures before they are made vulgar by
reiterated descriptions.
It has been discovered by Sir Isaac Newton, that
the distinct and primogenial colours are only seven;
but every eye can witness, that from various mixtures,
in various proportions, infinite diversifications
of tints may be produced. In like manner, the
passions of the mind, which put the world in motion,
and produce all the bustle and eagerness of the busy
crowds that swarm upon the earth; the passions, from
whence arise all the pleasures and pains that we see
and hear of, if we analyze the mind of man, are very
few; but those few agitated and combined, as external
causes shall happen to operate, and modified by
prevailing opinions and accidental caprices, make
such frequent alterations on the surface of life, that
the show, while we are busied in delineating it,
vanishes from the view, and a new set of objects succeed,
doomed to the same shortness of duration with the
former: thus curiosity may always find employment,
and the busy part of mankind will furnish the
contemplative with the materials of speculation to the
end of time.
The complaint, therefore, that all topicks are
preoccupied, is nothing more than the murmur of
ignorance or idleness, by which some discourage others,
and some themselves; the mutability of mankind
will always furnish writers with new images, and the
luxuriance of fancy may always embellish them with
new decorations.
No. 99. TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 1753
----Magnis tamen excidit ausis. OVID. Met. Lib. ii. 328.
But in the glorious enterprise he died. ADDISON.
IT has always been the practice of mankind, to
judge of actions by the event. The same attempts,
conducted in the same manner, but terminated by
different success, produce different judgments: they
who attain their wishes, never want celebrators of
their wisdom and their virtue; and they that
miscarry, are quickly discovered to have been defective
not only in mental but in moral qualities. The world
will never be long without some good reason to hate
the unhappy; their real faults are immediately
detected; and if those are not sufficient to sink them
into infamy, an additional weight of calumny will be
superadded: he that fails in his endeavours after
wealth or power, will not long retain either honesty
or courage.
This species of injustice has so long prevailed in
universal practice, that it seems likewise to have
infected speculation: so few minds are able to separate
the ideas of greatness and prosperity, that even Sir
William Temple has determined, "that he who can
deserve the name of a hero, must not only be virtuous
but fortunate."
By this unreasonable distribution of praise and
blame, none have suffered oftener than projectors,
whose rapidity of imagination and vastness of design
raise such envy in their fellow mortals, that every
eye watches for their fall, and every heart exults at
their distresses: yet even a projector may gain favour
by success; and the tongue that was prepared to
hiss, then endeavours to excel others in loudness of
When Coriolanus, in Shakespeare, deserted to
Aufidius, the Volscian servants at first insulted him,
even while he stood under the protection of the
household gods: but when they saw that the project
took effect, and the stranger was seated at the head
of the table, one of them very judiciously observes,
"that he always thought there was more in him
than he could think."
Machiavel has justly animadverted on the
different notice taken by all succeeding times, of the two
great projectors, Cataline and Caesar. Both formed
the same project, and intended to raise themselves
to power, by subverting the commonwealth: they
pursued their design, perhaps, with equal abilities,
and with equal virtue; but Cataline perished in the
field, and Caesar returned from Pharsalia with
unlimited authority: and from that time, every
monarch of the earth has thought himself honoured by
a comparison with Caesar; and Cataline has been
never mentioned, but that his name might be
applied to traitors and incendiaries.
In an age more remote, Xerxes projected the
conquest of Greece, and brought down the power
of Asia against it: but after the world had been
filled with expectation and terrour, his army was
beaten, his fleet was destroyed, and Xerxes has been
never mentioned without contempt.
A few years afterwards, Greece likewise had her
turn of giving birth to a projector; who invading
Asia with a small army, went forward in search of
adventures, and by his escape from one danger,
gained only more rashness to rush into another: he
stormed city after city, over-ran kingdom after
kingdom, fought battles only for barren victory,
and invaded nations only that he might make his
way through them to new invasions: but having
been fortunate in the execution of his projects, he
died with the name of Alexander the Great.
These are, indeed, events of ancient times; but
human nature is always the same, and every age
will afford us instances of publick censures influenced
by events. The great business of the middle
centuries, was the holy war; which undoubtedly
was a noble project, and was for a long time
prosecuted with a spirit equal to that with which it had
been contrived; but the ardour of the European
heroes only hurried them to destruction; for a long
time they could not gain the territories for which
they fought, and, when at last gained, they could
not keep them: their expeditions, therefore, have
been the scoff of idleness and ignorance, their
understanding and their virtue have been equally
vilified, their conduct has been ridiculed, and their cause
has been defamed.
When Columbus had engaged king Ferdinand in
the discovery of the other hemisphere, the sailors,
with whom he embarked in the expedition, had so
little confidence in their commander, that after having
been long at sea looking for coasts which they
expected never to find, they raised a general mutiny,
and demanded to return. He found means to sooth
them into a permission to continue the same course
three days longer, and on the evening of the third
day descried land. Had the impatience of his crew
denied him a few hours of the time requested, what
had been his fate but to have come back with the
infamy of a vain projector, who had betrayed the
king's credulity to useless expenses, and risked his
life in seeking countries that had no existence? how
would those that had rejected his proposals have
triumphed in their acuteness! and when would his
name have been mentioned, but with the makers of
potable gold and malleable glass?
The last royal projectors with whom the world
has been troubled, were Charles of Sweden and the
Czar of Muscovy. Charles, if any judgment may be
formed of his designs by his measures and his
inquiries, had purposed first to dethrone the Czar,
then to lead his army through pathless deserts into
China, thence to make his way by the sword through
the whole circuit of Asia, and by the conquest of
Turkey to unite Sweden with his new dominions:
but this mighty project was crushed at Pultowa;
and Charles has since been considered as a madman
by those powers, who sent their ambassadors to
solicit his friendship, and their generals "to learn
under him the art of war."
The Czar found employment sufficient in his own
dominions, and amused himself in digging canals,
and building cities: murdering his subjects with
insufferable fatigues, and transplanting nations from
one corner of his dominions to another, without
regretting the thousands that perished on the
way: but he attained his end, he made his people
formidable, and is numbered by fame among the
I am far from intending to vindicate the sanguinary
projects of heroes and conquerors, and would
wish rather to diminish the reputation of their
success, than the infamy of their miscarriages: for I
cannot conceive, why he that has burned cities, wasted
nations, and filled the world with horrour and
desolation, should be more kindly regarded by mankind,
than he that died in the rudiments of wickedness;
why he that accomplished mischief should be glorious,
and he that only endeavoured it should be criminal.
I would wish Caesar and Catiline, Xerxes and
Alexander, Charles and Peter, huddled together in
obscurity or detestation.
But there is another species of projectors, to whom
I would willingly conciliate mankind; whose ends
are generally laudable, and whose labours are
innocent; who are searching out new powers of nature,
or contriving new works of art; but who are yet
persecuted with incessant obloquy, and whom the
universal contempt with which they are treated,
often debars from that success which their industry
would obtain, if it were permitted to act without
They who find themselves inclined to censure
new undertakings, only because they are new, should
consider, that the folly of projection is very seldom
the folly of a fool; it is commonly the ebullition
of a capacious mind, crowded with variety of
knowledge, and heated with intenseness of thought;
it proceeds often from the consciousness of uncommon
powers, from the confidence of those, who having
already done much, are easily persuaded that they
can do more. When Rowley had completed the orrery,
he attempted the perpetual motion; when Boyle
had exhausted the secrets of vulgar chymistry, he
turned his thoughts to the work of transmutation[l].
[l] Sir Richard Steele was infatuated with notions of
Alchemy, and wasted money in its visionary projects. He had a
laboratory at Poplar. Addisoniana, vol. i. p. 10.
The readers of Washington Irving's Brace-Bridge Hall will
recollect a pleasing and popular exposition of the alternately
splendid and benevolent, and always passionate reveries of the
Alchemist, in the affecting story of the Student of Salamanca.
A projector generally unites those qualities which
have the fairest claim to veneration, extent of
knowledge and greatness of design: it was said of Catiline,
"immoderata, incredibilia, nimis alta semper cupiebat."
Projectors of all kinds agree in their intellects,
though they differ in their morals; they all fail by
attempting things beyond their power, by despising
vulgar attainments, and aspiring to performances to
which, perhaps, nature has not proportioned the
force of man: when they fail, therefore, they fail not
by idleness or timidity, but by rash adventure and
fruitless diligence.
That the attempts of such men will often
miscarry, we may reasonably expect; yet from such
men, and such only, are we to hope for the cultivation
of those parts of nature which lie yet waste, and
the invention of those arts which are yet wanting
to the felicity of life. If they are, therefore,
universally discouraged, art and discovery can make no
advances. Whatever is attempted without previous
certainty of success, may be considered as a project,
and amongst narrow minds may, therefore, expose
its author to censure and contempt; and if the liberty
of laughing be once indulged, every man will laugh
at what he does not understand, every project will be
considered as madness, and every great or new
design will be censured as a project. Men unaccustomed
to reason and researches, think every enterprise
impracticable, which is extended beyond
common effects, or comprises many intermediate
operations. Many that presume to laugh at
projectors, would consider a flight through the air in a
winged chariot, and the movement of a mighty
engine by the steam of water as equally the dreams of
mechanick lunacy; and would hear, with equal
negligence, of the union of the Thames and Severn by
a canal, and the scheme of Albuquerque, the
viceroy of the Indies, who in the rage of hostility had
contrived to make Egypt a barren desert, by turning
the Nile into the Red Sea.
Those who have attempted much, have seldom
failed to perform more than those who never deviate
from the common roads of action: many valuable
preparations of chymistry are supposed to have risen
from unsuccessful inquiries after the grand elixir: it
is, therefore, just to encourage those who endeavour
to enlarge the power of art, since they often succeed
beyond expectation; and when they fail, may sometimes
benefit the world even by their miscarriages.
No. 102. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27, 1753
----Quid tam dextro pede concipis, ut te
Conatus non poeniteat votique peracti? JUV. Sat. x. 5.
What in the conduct of our life appears
So well design'd, so luckily begun,
But when we have our wish, we wish undone. DRYDEN.
I HAVE been for many years a trader in London.
My beginning was narrow, and my stock small;
I was, therefore, a long time brow-beaten and
despised by those, who, having more money, thought
they had more merit than myself. I did not,
however, suffer my resentment to instigate me to any
mean arts of supplantation, nor my eagerness of
riches to betray me to any indirect methods of gain;
I pursued my business with incessant assiduity,
supported by the hope of being one day richer than
those who contemned me; and had, upon every
annual review of my books, the satisfaction of
finding my fortune increased beyond my expectation.
In a few years my industry and probity were fully
recompensed, my wealth was really great, and my
reputation for wealth still greater. I had large
warehouses crowded with goods, and considerable sums
in the publick funds; I was caressed upon the
Exchange by the most eminent merchants; became
the oracle of the common council; was solicited to
engage in all commercial undertakings; was flattered
with the hopes of becoming in a short time one of
the directors of a wealthy company, and, to
complete my mercantile honours, enjoyed the expensive
happiness of fining for sheriff.
Riches, you know, easily produce riches; when I
had arrived to this degree of wealth, I had no longer
any obstruction or opposition to fear; new acquisitions
were hourly brought within my reach, and I
continued for some years longer to heap thousands
upon thousands.
At last I resolved to complete the circle of a
citizen's prosperity by the purchase of an estate in
the country, and to close my life in retirement.
From the hour that this design entered my
imagination, I found the fatigues of my employment
every day more oppressive, and persuaded myself
that I was no longer equal to perpetual attention,
and that my health would soon be destroyed by
the torment and distraction of extensive business.
I could imagine to myself no happiness, but in
vacant jollity, and uninterrupted leisure: nor
entertain my friends with any other topick than the
vexation and uncertainty of trade, and the happiness
of rural privacy.
But, notwithstanding these declarations, I could
not at once reconcile myself to the thoughts of
ceasing to get money; and though I was every day
inquiring for a purchase, I found some reason for
rejecting all that were offered me; and, indeed, had
accumulated so many beauties and conveniences in
my idea of the spot where I was finally to be
happy, that, perhaps, the world might have been
travelled over without discovery of a place which
would not have been defective in some particular.
Thus I went on, still talking of retirement, and
still refusing to retire; my friends began to laugh at
my delays, and I grew ashamed to trifle longer with
my own inclinations; an estate was at length
purchased, I transferred my stock to a prudent young
man who had married my daughter, went down into
the country, and commenced lord of a spacious
Here for some time I found happiness equal to my
expectation. I reformed the old house according to
the advice of the best architects, I threw down the
walls of the garden, and enclosed it with palisades,
planted long avenues of trees, filled a green-house
with exotick plants, dug a new canal, and threw the
earth into the old moat.
The fame of these expensive improvements brought
in all the country to see the show. I entertained my
visitors with great liberality, led them round my
gardens, showed them my apartments, laid before
them plans for new decorations, and was gratified by
the wonder of some and the envy of others.
I was envied: but how little can one man judge
of the condition of another! The time was now
coming, in which affluence and splendour could no longer
make me pleased with myself. I had built till the
imagination of the architect was exhausted; I had
added one convenience to another, till I knew not
what more to wish or to design; I had laid out my
gardens, planted my park, and completed my waterworks;
and what now remained to be done? what,
but to look up to turrets, of which when they were
once raised I had no further use, to range over
apartments where time was tarnishing the furniture, to
stand by the cascade of which I scarcely now
perceived the sound, and to watch the growth of woods
that must give their shade to a distant generation.
In this gloomy inactivity, is every day begun and
ended: the happiness that I have been so long
procuring is now at an end, because it has been procured;
I wander from room to room, till I am weary of
myself; I ride out to a neighbouring hill in the centre
of my estate, from whence all my lands lie in
prospect round me; I see nothing that I have not seen
before, and return home disappointed, though I knew
that I had nothing to expect.
In my happy days of business I had been
accustomed to rise early in the morning; and remember
the time when I grieved that the night came so soon
upon me, and obliged me for a few hours to shut out
affluence and prosperity. I now seldom see the rising
sun, but to "tell him," with the fallen angel, "how
I hate his beams[m]." I awake from sleep as to languor
or imprisonment, and have no employment for the
first hour but to consider by what art I shall rid
myself of the second. I protract the breakfast as long as
I can, because when it is ended I have no call for
my attention, till I can with some degree of decency
grow impatient for my dinner. If I could dine all my
life, I should be happy; I eat not because I am hungry,
but because I am idle: but, alas! the time quickly
comes when I can eat no longer; and so ill does my
constitution second my inclination, that I cannot bear
strong liquors: seven hours must then be endured
before I shall sup; but supper comes at last, the more
welcome as it is in a short time succeeded by sleep.
[m] Johnson was too apt to destroy the KEEPING of character
in his correspondences. A retired trader might desire a little
more slumber, "a little folding of the hands to sleep;" but the
lofty malignity of a fallen spirit sickening at the beams of day,
would not be among the feelings of an ordinary mind. Some good
remarks on this point may be seen in Miss Talbot's Letters to
Mrs. Carter.
Such, Mr. Adventurer, is the happiness, the hope
of which seduced me from the duties and pleasures
of a mercantile life. I shall be told by those who read
my narrative, that there are many means of innocent
amusement, and many schemes of useful employment,
which I do not appear ever to have known;
and that nature and art have provided pleasures, by
which, without the drudgery of settled business, the
active may be engaged, the solitary soothed, and
the social entertained.
These arts, Sir, I have tried. When first I took
possession of my estate, in conformity to the taste
of my neighbours, I bought guns and nets, filled my
kennel with dogs, and my stable with horses: but
a little experience showed me, that these instruments
of rural felicity would afford me few gratifications.
I never shot but to miss the mark, and, to
confess the truth, was afraid of the fire of my own
gun. I could discover no musick in the cry of the
dogs, nor could divest myself of pity for the animal
whose peaceful and inoffensive life was sacrificed to
our sport. I was not, indeed, always at leisure to
reflect upon her danger; for my horse, who had been
bred to the chase, did not always regard my choice
either of speed or way, but leaped hedges and
ditches at his own discretion, and hurried me along
with the dogs, to the great diversion of my brother
sportsmen. His eagerness of pursuit once incited
him to swim a river; and I had leisure to resolve in
the water, that I would never hazard my life again
for the destruction of a hare.
I then ordered books to be procured, and by the
direction of the vicar had in a few weeks a closet
elegantly furnished. You will, perhaps, be surprised
when I shall tell you, that when once I had ranged
them according to their sizes, and piled them up in
regular gradations, I had received all the pleasure
which they could give me. I am not able to excite
in myself any curiosity after events which have been
long passed, and in which I can, therefore, have no
interest; I am utterly unconcerned to know whether
Tully or Demosthenes excelled in oratory, whether
Hannibal lost Italy by his own negligence or the
corruption of his countrymen. I have no skill in
controversial learning, nor can conceive why so
many volumes should have been written upon questions,
which I have lived so long and so happily
without understanding. I once resolved to go
through the volumes relating to the office of justice
of the peace, but found them so crabbed and intricate,
that in less than a month I desisted in despair,
and resolved to supply my deficiencies by paying a
competent salary to a skilful clerk.
I am naturally inclined to hospitality, and for
some time kept up a constant intercourse of visits
with the neighbouring gentlemen; but though they
are easily brought about me by better wine than
they can find at any other house, I am not much
relieved by their conversation; they have no skill in
commerce or the stocks, and I have no knowledge
of the history of families or the factions of the
country; so that when the first civilities are over,
they usually talk to one another, and I am left alone
in the midst of the company. Though I cannot
drink myself, I am obliged to encourage the
circulation of the glass; their mirth grows more
turbulent and obstreperous; and before their merriment
is at end, I am sick with disgust, and, perhaps,
reproached with my sobriety, or by some sly
insinuations insulted as a cit.
Such, Mr. Adventurer, is the life to which I am
condemned by a foolish endeavour to be happy by
imitation; such is the happiness to which I pleased
myself with approaching, and which I considered
as the chief end of my cares and my labours. I
toiled year after year with cheerfulness, in
expectation of the happy hour in which I might be idle:
the privilege of idleness is attained, but has not
brought with it the blessing of tranquillity.
I am yours, &c. MERCATOR.
No. 107. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 1753
----Sub judice lis est. HOR. De Ar. Poet. 78.
And of their vain disputings find no end. FRANCIS.
IT has been sometimes asked by those who find
the appearance of wisdom more easily attained by
questions than solutions, how it comes to pass, that
the world is divided by such difference of opinion?
and why men, equally reasonable, and equally lovers
of truth, do not always think in the same manner?
With regard to simple propositions, where the
terms are understood, and the whole subject is
comprehended at once, there is such an uniformity of
sentiment among all human beings, that, for many
ages, a very numerous set of notions were supposed
to be innate, or necessarily co-existent with the
faculty of reason: it being imagined, that universal
agreement could proceed only from the invariable
dictates of the universal parent.
In questions diffuse and compounded, this
similarity of determination is no longer to be expected.
At our first sally into the intellectual world, we all
march together along one straight and open road;
but as we proceed further, and wider prospects open
to our view, every eye fixes upon a different scene;
we divide into various paths, and, as we move forward,
are still at a greater distance from each other.
As a question becomes more complicated and
involved, and extends to a greater number of relations,
disagreement of opinion will always be multiplied;
not because we are irrational, but because we are
finite beings, furnished with different kinds of knowledge,
exerting different degrees of attention, one
discovering consequences which escape another, none
taking in the whole concatenation of causes and
effects, and most comprehending but a very small part,
each comparing what he observes with a different
criterion, and each referring it to a different purpose.
Where, then, is the wonder, that they who see
only a small part should judge erroneously of the
whole? or that they, who see different and dissimilar
parts, should judge differently from each other?
Whatever has various respects, must have various
appearances of good and evil, beauty or deformity;
thus, the gardener tears up as a weed, the plant which
the physician gathers as a medicine; and "a general,"
says Sir Kenelm Digby, "will look with pleasure
over a plain, as a fit place on which the fate of
empires might be decided in battle, which the farmer
will despise as bleak and barren, neither fruitful of
pasturage, nor fit for tillage[n]."
[n] Livy has described the Achaean leader, Philopaemen, as
actually so exercising his thoughts whilst he wandered among the
rocky passes of the Morea, xxxv. 28. In the graphic page of the
Roman historian, as in the stanzas of the "Ariosto of the North:"
"From shingles grey the lances start,
"The bracken bush sends forth the dart,
"The rushes and the willow wand
"Are bristling into axe and brand."
Lady of the Lake. Canto v. 9.
Two men examining the same question proceed
commonly like the physician and gardener in selecting
herbs, or the farmer and hero looking on the plain;
they bring minds impressed with different notions,
and direct their inquiries to different ends; they
form, therefore, contrary conclusions, and each
wonders at the other's absurdity.
We have less reason to be surprised or offended
when we find others differ from us in opinion, because
we very often differ from ourselves. How often we
alter our minds, we do not always remark; because
the change is sometimes made imperceptibly and
gradually, and the last conviction effaces all memory
of the former: yet every man, accustomed from time
to time to take a survey of his own notions, will by
a slight retrospection be able to discover, that his
mind has suffered many revolutions that the same
things have in the several parts of his life been
condemned and approved, pursued and shunned: and
that on many occasions, even when his practice has
been steady, his mind has been wavering, and he
has persisted in a scheme of action, rather because
he feared the censure of inconstancy, than because
he was always pleased with his own choice.
Of the different faces shown by the same objects,
as they are viewed on opposite sides, and of the
different inclinations which they must constantly raise
in him that contemplates them, a more striking example
cannot easily be found than two Greek epigrammatists
will afford us in their accounts of
human life, which I shall lay before the reader in
English prose.
Posidippus, a comick poet, utters this complaint:
"Through which of the paths of life is it eligible to
pass? In public assemblies are debates and troublesome
affairs: domestick privacies are haunted with
anxieties; in the country is labour; on the sea is
terrour: in a foreign land, he that has money must
live in fear, he that wants it must pine in distress:
are you married? you are troubled with suspicions;
are you single? you languish in solitude; children
occasion toil, and a childless life is a state of
destitution: the time of youth is a time of folly, and
gray hairs are loaded with infirmity. This choice
only, therefore, can be made, either never to receive
being, or immediately to lose it[o]."
[o] "Count o'er the joys thine hours have seen,
"Count o'er thy days from anguish free,
"And know, whatever thou hast been,
" 'Tis something better not to be."
Lord Byron's Euthanasia.
Compare also the plaintive chorus in the OEdipus at Colonos, 1211.
Among the tragedies of Sophocles this stands forth a mass of feeling.
See Schlegel's remarks upon it in his Dramatic Literature.
Such and so gloomy is the prospect, which
Posidippus has laid before us. But we are not to
acquiesce too hastily in his determination against the
value of existence: for Metrodorus, a philosopher of
Athens, has shown, that life has pleasures as well
as pains; and having exhibited the present state of
man in brighter colours, draws with equal appearance
of reason, a contrary conclusion.
"You may pass well through any of the paths of
life. In publick assemblies are honours and
transactions of wisdom; in domestick privacy is stillness
and quiet: in the country are the beauties of nature;
on the sea is the hope of gain: in a foreign land, he
that is rich is honoured, he that is poor may keep
his poverty secret: are you married? you have a
cheerful house; are you single? you are unincumbered;
children are objects of affection, to be without
children is to be without care: the time of
youth is the time of vigour, and gray hairs are made
venerable by piety. It will, therefore, never be a wise
man's choice, either not to obtain existence, or to
lose it; for every state of life has its felicity."
In these epigrams are included most of the
questions which have engaged the speculations of the
inquirers after happiness, and though they will not
much assist our determinations, they may, perhaps,
equally promote our quiet, by showing that no
absolute determination ever can be formed.
Whether a publick station or private life be
desirable, has always been debated. We see here both
the allurements and discouragements of civil
employments; on one side there is trouble, on the
other honour; the management of affairs is
vexatious and difficult, but it is the only duty in which
wisdom can be conspicuously displayed: it must
then still be left to every man to choose either ease
or glory; nor can any general precept be given, since
no man can be happy by the prescription of another.
Thus, what is said of children by Posidippus,
"that they are occasions of fatigue," and by
Metrodorus, "that they are objects of affection," is
equally certain; but whether they will give most
pain or pleasure, must depend on their future
conduct and dispositions, on many causes over which
the parent can have little influence: there is,
therefore, room for all the caprices of imagination, and
desire must be proportioned to the hope or fear that
shall happen to predominate.
Such is the uncertainty in which we are always
likely to remain with regard to questions wherein
we have most interest, and which every day affords
us fresh opportunity to examine: we may examine,
indeed, but we never can decide, because our faculties
are unequal to the subject; we see a little, and
form an opinion; we see more, and change it.
This inconstancy and unsteadiness, to which we
must so often find ourselves liable, ought certainly
to teach us moderation and forbearance towards
those who cannot accommodate themselves to our
sentiments: if they are deceived, we have no right
to attribute their mistake to obstinacy or negligence,
because we likewise have been mistaken; we
may, perhaps, again change our own opinion: and
what excuse shall we be able to find for aversion and
malignity conceived against him, whom we shall then
find to have committed no fault, and who offended
us only by refusing to follow us into errour?
It may likewise contribute to soften that
resentment which pride naturally raises against
opposition, if we consider, that he who differs from us,
does not always contradict us; he has one view of
an object, and we have another; each describes
what he sees with equal fidelity, and each regulates
his steps by his own eyes: one man with Posidippus,
looks on celibacy as a state of gloomy
solitude, without a partner in joy, or a comforter in
sorrow; the other considers it, with Metrodorus, as
a state free from incumbrances, in which a man is
at liberty to choose his own gratifications, to
remove from place to place in quest of pleasure, and
to think of nothing but merriment and diversion:
full of these notions one hastens to choose a wife,
and the other laughs at his rashness, or pities his
ignorance; yet it is possible that each is right, but
that each is right only for himself.
Life is not the object of science: we see a little,
very little; and what is beyond we only can
conjecture. If we inquire of those who have gone
before us, we receive small satisfaction; some have
travelled life without observation, and some
willingly mislead us. The only thought, therefore, on
which we can repose with comfort, is that which
presents to us the care of Providence, whose eye
takes in the whole of things, and under whose
direction all involuntary errours will terminate in
No. 108. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1753
Nobis, quum semel occidit brevis lux,
Nox est perpetua una dormienda.
CATULLUS, Lib. v. El. v.
When once the short-liv'd mortal dies,
A night eternal seals his eyes. ADDISON.
IT may have been observed by every reader, that
there are certain topicks which never are
exhausted. Of some images and sentiments the mind
of man may be said to be enamoured; it meets
them, however often they occur, with the same
ardour which a lover feels at the sight of his
mistress, and parts from them with the same regret
when they can no longer be enjoyed.
Of this kind are many descriptions which the
poets have transcribed from each other, and their
successors will probably copy to the end of time;
which will continue to engage, or, as the French
term it, to flatter the imagination, as long as
human nature shall remain the same.
When a poet mentions the spring, we know that
the zephyrs are about to whisper, that the groves
are to recover their verdure, the linnets to warble
forth their notes of love, and the flocks and herds
to frisk over vales painted with flowers: yet, who is
there so insensible of the beauties of nature, so
little delighted with the renovation of the world,
as not to feel his heart bound at the mention of
the spring?
When night overshadows a romantick scene, all
is stillness, silence, and quiet; the poets of the grove
cease their melody, the moon towers over the world
in gentle majesty, men forget their labours and their
cares, and every passion and pursuit is for a while
suspended. All this we know already, yet we hear
it repeated without weariness; because such is
generally the life of man, that he is pleased to think on
the time when he shall pause from a sense of his
When a poetical grove invites us to its covert,
we know that we shall find what we have already
seen, a limpid brook murmuring over pebbles, a bank
diversified with flowers, a green arch that excludes
the sun, and a natural grot shaded with myrtles;
yet who can forbear to enter the pleasing gloom to
enjoy coolness and privacy, and gratify himself once
more by scenes with which nature has formed him
to be delighted?
Many moral sentiments likewise are so adapted to
our state, that they find approbation whenever
they solicit it, and are seldom read without
exciting a gentle emotion in the mind: such is the
comparison of the life of man with the duration of
a flower, a thought which perhaps every nation has
heard warbled in its own language, from the inspired
poets of the Hebrews to our own times; yet this
comparison must always please, because every heart
feels its justness, and every hour confirms it by
Such, likewise, is the precept that directs us to
use the present hour, and refer nothing to a distant
time, which we are uncertain whether we shall
reach: this every moralist may venture to inculcate,
because it will always be approved, and because
it is always forgotten.
This rule is, indeed, every day enforced, by
arguments more powerful than the dissertations of
moralists: we see men pleasing themselves with future
happiness, fixing a certain hour for the completion
of their wishes, and perishing, some at a greater and
some at a less distance from the happy time; all
compplaining of their disappointments, and lamenting
that they had suffered the years which heaven
allowed them, to pass without improvement, and
deferred the principal purpose of their lives to the
time when life itself was to forsake them.
It is not only uncertain, whether, through all the
casualties and dangers which beset the life of man,
we shall be able to reach the time appointed for
happiness or wisdom; but it is likely, that whatever
now hinders us from doing that which our reason
and conscience declare necessary to be done, will
equally obstruct us in times to come. It is easy for
the imagination, operating on things not yet existing,
to please itself with scenes of unmingled felicity,
or plan out courses of uniform virtue; but good
and evil are in real life inseparably united; habits
grow stronger by indulgence; and reason loses her
dignity, in proportion as she has oftener yielded to
temptation: "he that cannot live well to-day,"
says Martial, "will be less qualified to live well
Of the uncertainty of every human good, every
human being seems to be convinced; yet this
uncertainty is voluntarily increased by unnecessary
delay, whether we respect external causes, or consider
the nature of our own minds. He that now feels a
desire to do right, and wishes to regulate his life
according to his reason, is not sure that, at any future
time assignable, he shall be able to rekindle the same
ardour; he that has now an opportunity offered him
of breaking loose from vice and folly, cannot know,
but that he shall hereafter be more entangled, and
struggle for freedom without obtaining it.
We are so unwilling to believe anything to our
own disadvantage, that we will always imagine the
perspicacity of our judgment and the strength of
our resolution more likely to increase than to grow
less by time; and, therefore, conclude, that the will
to pursue laudable purposes, will be always seconded
by the power.
But, however we may be deceived in calculating
the strength of our faculties, we cannot doubt the
uncertainty of that life in which they must be
employed: we see every day the unexpected death of
our friends and our enemies, we see new graves
hourly opened for men older and younger than
ourselves, for the cautious and the careless, the
dissolute and the temperate, for men who like us were
providing to enjoy or improve hours now irreversibly
cut off: we see all this, and yet, instead of
living, let year glide after year in preparations to
Men are so frequently cut off in the midst of their
projections, that sudden death causes little emotion
in them that behold it, unless it be impressed upon
the attention by uncommon circumstances. I, like
every other man, have outlived multitudes, have
seen ambition sink in its triumphs, and beauty perish
in its bloom; but have been seldom so much affected
as by the fate of Euryalus, whom I lately lost as I
began to love him.
Euryalus had for some time flourished in a lucrative
profession; but having suffered his imagination
to be fired by an unextinguishable curiosity, he grew
weary of the same dull round of life, resolved to
harass himself no longer with the drudgery of getting
money, but to quit his business and his profit,
and enjoy for a few years the pleasures of travel.
His friends heard him proclaim his resolution without
suspecting that he intended to pursue it; but he
was constant to his purpose, and with great expedition
closed his accounts and sold his moveables,
passed a few days in bidding farewell to his
companions, and with all the eagerness of romantick
chivalry crossed the sea in search of happiness.
Whatever place was renowned in ancient or modern
history, whatever region art or nature had distinguished,
he determined to visit: full of design and
hope he landed on the continent; his friends expected
accounts from him of the new scenes that opened in
his progress, but were informed in a few days, that
Euryalus was dead.
Such was the end of Euryalus. He is entered that
state, whence none ever shall return; and can now
only benefit his friends, by remaining to their
memories a permanent and efficacious instance of the
blindness of desire, and the uncertainty of all terrestrial
good. But perhaps, every man has like me lost an
Euryalus, has known a friend die with happiness in
his grasp; and yet every man continues to think
himself secure of life, and defers to some future time
of leisure what he knows it will be fatal to have
finally omitted.
It is, indeed, with this as with other frailties
inherent in our nature; the desire of deferring to
another time, what cannot be done without endurance
of some pain, or forbearance of some pleasure, will,
perhaps, never be totally overcome or suppressed;
there will always be something that we shall wish
to have finished, and be nevertheless unwilling to
begin: but against this unwillingness it is our duty
to struggle, and every conquest over our passions
will make way for an easier conquest: custom is
equally forcible to bad and good; nature will always
be at variance with reason, but will rebel more feebly
as she is oftener subdued.
The common neglect of the present hour is more
shameful and criminal, as no man is betrayed to it
by errour, but admits it by negligence. Of the
instability of life, the weakest understanding never thinks
wrong, though the strongest often omits to think
justly: reason and experience are always ready to
inform us of our real state; but we refuse to listen
to their suggestions, because we feel our hearts
unwilling to obey them: but, surely, nothing is more
unworthy of a reasonable being, than to shut his
eyes, when he sees the road which he is commanded
to travel, that he may deviate with fewer reproaches
from himself: nor could any motive to tenderness,
except the consciousness that we have all been guilty
of the same fault, dispose us to pity those who thus
consign themselves to voluntary ruin.
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Greek letters are encoded in brackets, and the letters are
based on Adobe's Symbol font. The "markings" are not the correct
symbol but rather the closest equivalent "accented" character.
the encoded characters used include: AE, ae, oe, ', !,
, :, ^, OE, and .
Hebrew occurs once and is encoded in format with a mnemonic
that has not been standardized yet-- thus needs checked.
three flavors of hyphen are used in the .wp6 edition:
1) [Hard hyphen] '-'
2) [Soft hyphen] '-'
3) [Soft hyphen EOL] " (seen in reveal codes only)
(The [Soft hyphens EOL] are retained from the hardcopy
Two "tricks" are implemented in the .wp6 edition for ease in
to PVASCII for Gutenberg: 1) an extra space at the end of a
that occurs at the EOL position allows easier text "reflow" and
2) there
is a space just before a [Lft Tab] to "protect" those tabs from
converted to Gutenberg's space between paragraphs without
poetry and other indented text that should not be "reflowed" or
otherwise treated as a "paragraph". i.e. only [Hrt][Lft Tab] get
converted to [Hrt][Hrt] and not [Hrt] [Lft Tab] cases.
small caps have not been encoded in this etext.
"Emphasis" (whatever those are) italics have a * mark.
The ae and oe ligiture in the italics cases, MIGHT be and
probably are transposed! (i can't tell the difference)
Footnotes are moved to end of paragraphs cited.
editorial comments in curly {brackets}
************************** FYI **************************
"Larsen EB-11" encode scheme includes:
(taken, in part, from EB-11 guide to proofreaders)
Acute French Grave Italian cittUmlaut/Diaeresis German Circumflex French Hacek Czech haek
Macron Sanskrit stra
Breve Persian(?) Chm
Ring Swedish ngstrTilde Spanish seor
Dot Hebrew Abram
Cedilla French garon
Superscript E=mc<2S> (mass=energy eqn.)
Subscript H<2s>O (for water)
{bean- depag, quote marks, underscores; straightened up
footnotes. some encodes removed, left and alone except
for familiar encodes. I'd dump the greek, or start over with it.
I tried to get a copy of this, but THE RAMBLER is apparently in 2
volumes in other sets, and I got the wrong one. Did not read or
spell-check this.}

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