[...] HOR.



NUMB. 1. TUESDAY, March 20, 1750.

Cur tamen hoc libeat potius decurrere campo,
Per quem magnus equos Auruncae flexit alumnus,
Si vacat, et placidi rationem admittitis, edam.

THE difficulty of the first address on any new occasion, is felt by every man in his transactions with the world, and confessed by the settled and regular forms of salutation which necessity has intro­duced into all languages. Judgment was wearied with the inextricable perplexity of being forced upon choice, where there was no motive to preference; and it was found convenient that some easy method of intro­duction should be established, which, if it wanted the allurement of novelty, might enjoy in its place the security of prescription.

PERHAPS few authors have presented them­selves [Page 2] before the publick, without wishing that such ceremonial modes of entrance had been anciently established, as might have freed them from the dangers which the too ardent desire of pleasing is certain to produce, and procluded the vain expedients of softening censure by apologies, and rousing attention by abruptness.

THE epic writers, indeed, have found the proemial part of the poem such an addition to their laborious undertaking, that they have almost unanimously adopted the first lines of Homer, and the reader needs only be informed of the subject to know in what manner the scene will open.

BUT this solemn repetition is hitherto the peculiar distinction of heroic poetry, and has never been legally extended to the lower or­ders of literature, but seems to be considered as an hereditary privilege, to be enjoyed only by those who can claim it from their alliance to the genius of Homer.

THE rules which an observation of the injudicious use of this prerogative suggested to Horace may, indeed, be applied to the di­rection [Page 3] of candidates for inferior fame; and it may be proper for all to remember, that they ought not to raise expectation which it is not in their power to satisfy, and that it is more pleasing to see smoke gradually brightening into flame, than flame sinking into smoke.

YET tho' this precept has been long recei­ved, both from regard to the authority of him that delivered it, and its conformity to the general opinion of the world, there have been some, as well since as before his time, who have thought it no deviation from modesty to recommend their own labours, and imagined themselves entitled by indisputable merit to an exemption from general restraints, and to elevations not allowed in common life. They, perhaps, believed that when, like Thucydides, they bequeathed to mankind [...], an estate for ever, it was an additional favour to inform them of its value.

IT may, indeed, be no less dangerous to claim, on certain occasions, too little than too much. There is something captivating in spirit and intrepidity, to which we often yield, as to a resistless power; nor can he reasonably expect [Page 4] the confidence of others, who, too apparently, distrusts himself.

PLUTARCH, in his enumeration of the various occasions, on which a man may, without just offence, proclaim his own excellencies, has omitted the case of an author entering the world; unless it may be comprehended under his general position, that a man may lawfully praise himself for those qualities which cannot be known but from his own mouth; as when he is among strangers, and can probably have no opportunity of an actual exertion of his powers. That the case of an author is pa­rallel will scarecely be granted, because he ne­cessarily discovers the degree of his merit to his judges, when he solicits their suffrages. But it should be remembered, that unless his judges be prejudiced in his favour, they will not be persuaded to hear the cause.

IN love, the state which fills the heart with a degree of solicitude next that of an author, it has been held a maxim, that success is most easily obtained by indirect and concealed approaches; he who too soon professes him­self a lover, raises obstacles to his own wishes and those whom disappointments have taught [Page 5] experience, endeavour to conceal their passion till they believe that their mistress wishes for the discovery. The same method, if it were practicable to writers, would save many com­plaints of the partiality of the world, the severity of the age, and the caprices of criticism. If a man could glide imperceptibly into the favour of the publick, and only proclaim his pretensions to literary honours when he is sure of not being rejected, he might commence author with better hopes, as his failings might escape contempt, though he shall never attain excellence sufficient to excite much regard.

BUT since the publick supposes every man that writes ambitious of applause, as some ladies have taught themselves to believe that every man intends love, who expresses civility, the miscarrige of any new endeavour in learn­ing raises an unbounded contempt, indulged by most minds without scruple, as an honest triumph over unjust claims, and exorbitant expectations. The artisices of those who put themselves in this hazardous state, have there­fore been multiplied in proportion to their fear as well as their ambition; and are to be looked upon with more indulgence, as they result from complicated passions, and are inci­ted [Page 6] at once by the two great movers of the human mind, the desire of good, and the fear of evil. For who can wonder that, thus allured on one side, and frightned on the other, some men should endeavour to gain favour by bribing the judge with an appearance of respect which they do not feel, to excite compassion by confessing weakness of which they are not convinced, or to attract regard by a shew of openness and magnanimity, by a daring profession of their own deserts, and a publick challenge of ho­nours and rewards.

THE ostentatious and haughty display of themselves has been the usual refuge of diurnal writers, in vindication of whose practice it may be said, that what it wants in prudence is supplied by sincerity, and who at least may plead, that if their boasts deceive any into the perusal of their performances, they defraud them of but little time.

—Quid enim? Concurritur—horae
Momento cita mors venit, aut victoria laeta.

The question concerning the merit of the day is soon decided, and we are not condem­ned [Page 7] to toil thro' half a folio, to be convinced that the writer has broke his promise.

IT is one among many reasons for which I purpose to endeavour the entertainment of my countrymen by a short essay on Tuesday and Saturday, that I hope not much to tire those whom I shall not happen to please; and if I am not commended for the beauty of my works, to be at least pardoned for their brevity: but whether my expectations are most fixed on pardon or praise, I think it not necessary to discover; for having accurately weighed the reasons for arrogance and submission I find them so nearly equiponderant, that my impati­ence to try the event of my first performance will not suffer me to attend any longer the trepidation of the balance.

THERE are, indeed, many conveniencies al­most peculiar to this method of publication, which may naturally flatter the author, whe­ther he be confident or timorous. The man to whom the extent of his knowledge, or the sprightliness of his imagination, has, in his own opinion, already secured the praises of the world, willingly takes that way of displaying his abilities which will soonest give him an op­portunity [Page 8] of hearing the voice of fame, and it heightens his alacrity to think in how many places he shall hear what he is now writing, read with ecstasies to morrow. He will often please himself with reflecting, that the author of a large treatise must proceed with anxiety, lest, before the completion of his work, the attention of the publick may have changed its object; but that he who is confined to no single subject, may follow the national taste through all its variations, and catch the Aura popularis, the gale of favour, from what point soever it shall blow.

NOR is the prospect less likely to ease the doubts of the cautious, and allay the terrours of the fearful, for to such the shortness of every single paper is a powerful encouragement. He that questions his abilities to arrange the dissi­milar parts of an extensive plan, or fears to be lost in a complicated system, may yet hope to adjust a few pages without perplexity; and if, when he turns over the repositories of his me­mory, he finds his collection too small for a volume, he may yet have enough to furnish out an essay. He that is afraid of laying out too much time upon an experiment of which he fears the event, persuades himself that a few [Page 9] days will shew him what he is to expect from his learning and his genius. If he thinks his own judgment not sufficiently enlightned, he may, by attending the remarks which every paper will produce, inform himself of his mis­takes, rectify his opinions, and extend his views. If he suspects that he may with too little premeditation encumber himself by an un­wieldy subject, he may quit it without con­fessing his ignorance, and pass to other topicks less dangerous, or more tractable. And if he finds, with all his industry, and all his artifi­ces, that he cannot deserve regard, or cannot attain it, he may let the design fall at once, and, without injury to others or himself, retire to amusements of greater pleasure, or to studies of better prospect.

NUMB. 2. SATURDAY, March 24, 1750.

Stare loco nescit, pereunt vestigia mille
Ante fugam, absentemque serit gravis ungula campum.

THAT the mind of man is never sa­tisfied with the objects before it, but is always breaking away from the present mo­ment, and losing itself in schemes of future selicity; that we forget the proper use of the time now in our power, to provide for the enjoyment of that which, perhaps, may never be granted us, has been frequently re­marked; and as this practice is a very com­modious subject of raillery to the gay, and of declamation to the serious, it has been ridi­culed with all the pleasantry of wit, and ex­aggerated with all the amplifications of rheto­ric. Every instance, by which its absurdity might appear most flagrant, has been studiously collected; it has been marked with every epithet of contempt, and all the tropes and figures have been called forth against it.

CENSURE is willingly indulged, because it [Page 11] always implies some superiority; men please themselves with imagining that they have made a deeper search, or wider survey, than others, and detected faults and follies, which escaped vulgar observation. And the pleasure of wantoning in common topicks is so tempt­ing to a writer, that he cannot easily resign it; a train of sentiments generally received enables him to shine without labour, and to conquer without a contest. It is so easy to laugh at the folly of him who lives only in idea, refuses immediate ease or distant pleasures, and, instead of enjoying the blessings of life, lets life glide away in preparations to enjoy them; it affords such opportunities of trium­phant exultations, to exemplify the uncer­tainty of human state, to rouse mortals from their dream, and inform them of the silent celerity of time, that we may reasonably be­lieve most authors willing rather to transmit than examine so advantageous a principle, and more inclined to pursue a track so smooth and so flowery, than attentively to consider whether it leads to truth.

THIS quality of looking forward into futu­rity seems the unavoidable and necessary con­dition [Page 12] of a being, whose motions are gradual, and whose life is progressive: as his powers are limited, he must use means for the attain­ment of his ends, and must intend first what he performs last; as, by continual advances from his first stage of existence, he is perpetu­ally varying the horizon of his prospects, he must always discover new motives of action, new excitements of fear, and allurements of desire.

THE end, therefore, which, at present, calls forth our efforts will be found, when it is once gained, to be only one of the means to some remoter end, and the natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to plea­sure, but from hope to hope.

HE that directs his steps to a certain point, must frequently turn his eyes to that place which he strives to reach; he that undergoes the fatigue of labour, must solace his weari­ness with the contemplation of its reward. In agriculture, one of the most simple and neces­sary employments, no man turns up the ground but because he thinks of the harvest, that har­vest which blights may intercept, which inun­dations [Page 13] may sweep away, or which death or calamity may hinder him from reaping.

YET as few maxims are widely received, or long retained, but for some conformity with truth and nature, it must be confessed, that this caution against keeping our view too intent upon remote advantages is not without its propriety or usefulness, though it may have been inclucated with too much levity, or in­forced with too little distinction: for, not to speak of that vehemence of desire which presses through right and wrong to its gratification, or that anxious inquietude which is justly chargeable with distrust of heaven, subjects too solemn for my present purpose; it very frequently happens that, by indulging too early the raptures of success, we forget the measures necessary to secure it, and suffer the imagination to riot in the fruition of some possible good, till the time of obtaining it has slipped away.

THERE would however, perhaps, be few enterprises, either of great labour or hazard, undertaken, if we had not the power of mag­nifying the advantages, which we persuade [Page 14] ourselves to expect from them; and when the knight of La Mancha gravely recounts to his companion the adventures by which he is to signalize himself in such a manner that he shall be summoned to the support of empires, sollicited to accept the heiress of the crown he has preserved, have honours and riches to scatter about him, and an island to bestow on his worthy squire, very few readers, amidst their mirth or their pity, can deny that they have admitted visions of the same kind; though they have not, perhaps, expected e­vents equally strange, nor by means equally inadequate. When we pity him, we reflect on our own disappointments, and when we laugh, our hearts inform us that he is not more ridiculous than ourselves, except that he tells what we only thought.

THE understanding of a man, naturally sanguine, may, indeed, be easily vitiated by too luxurious an indulgence of the pleasures of hope, however generally necessary to the production of every thing great or excellent, as some plants are destroyed by too open ex­posure to that sun which gives life and beauty to the vegetable world.

[Page 15] PERHAPS no class of the human species requires more to be cautioned against this an­ticipation of happiness, than those that aspire to the name of authors. A man of lively fancy no sooner finds a hint moving in his mind, than he makes momentaneous excur­sions to the press, and to the world, and, with a little encouragement from flattery, pushes forward into future ages, and prognosticates the honours to be paid him, when envy is ex­tinct, and faction is forgotten, and those, whom the partiality of the present generation suffers to obscure him, shall give way to other trifles of as short duration as themselves.

THOSE, who have proceeded so far as to appeal to the tribunal of succeeding times, are, indeed, not likely to be cured of their infatuation; but all endeavours ought to be used for the prevention of a disease, for which, when it has attained its height, per­haps no remedy will be found in the gardens of philosophy, however she may boast her physick of the mind, her catharticks of vice, or her antidotes to passion.

I SHALL, therefore, while I am yet but lightly touched with the symptoms of the [Page 16] writer's malady, endeavour to fortify myself against the infection, not without some weak hope, that my preservatives may extend their virtue to others, whose employment exposes them to the same danger:

Laudis amore tumes? Sunt certa piacula, quae te
Ter pure lecto poterunt recreare libello.

IT is the sage advice of Epictetus, that a man should accustom himself often to think of what is most shocking and terrible, that by such reflexions he may be preserved from too ardent wishes for seeming good, and from too much dejection in real evil.

THERE is nothing more dreadful to an author than neglect, compared with which re­proach, and hatred, and opposition, are names of happiness; yet this worst, this meanest fate every man who dares to write has reason to fear. ‘I nunc, et versus tecum meditare canoros.’

IT may not be unfit for him who makes a new entrance into the lettered world, so far to suspect his own powers as to believe that he possibly may deserve neglect; that nature may [Page 17] not have qualified him much to enlarge or embellish knowledge, nor sent him forth en­titled by indisputable superiority to regulate the conduct of the rest of mankind; that, though the world must be granted to be yet in ignorance, he is not destined to dispel the cloud, nor to shine out as one of the lumi­naries of life: for this suspicion, every cata­logue of authors will furnish sufficient reason; as he will find it crouded with names of men, who, though now forgotten, were once no less enterprising or confident than himself, equally pleased with their own productions, equally caressed by their patrons, and flattered by their friends.

BUT, though it should happen that an au­thor is capable of excelling in his province; yet his merit may pass without notice, hud­dled in the variety of things, and thrown into the general miscellany of life. He that en­deavours after fame by writing, solicits the regard of a multitude fluctuating in pleasures, or immersed in business, without time for intellectual amusements; he appeals to judges prepossessed by passions, or corrupted by pre­judices, which preclude their approbation of any new performance. Some are too indolent [Page 18] to read any thing, till its reputation is estab­lish'd; others too envious to promote that fame, which gives them pain by its increase. What is new is opposed, because most are un­willing to be taught; and what is known is rejected, because it is not sufficiently consider­ed, that men more frequently require to be reminded than informed. The learned are afraid to declare their opinion early, lest they should put their reputation in hazard; the ig­norant always imagine themselves giving some proof of delicacy, when they refuse to be pleased: and he, therefore, that finds his way to reputation, through all these obstructi­ons, must acknowledge that he is indebted to other causes besides his industry, his learning, or his wit.

NUMB. 3. TUESDAY, March 27, 1750.

VIRTUS, repulsae nescia sordidae,
Intaminatis fulget honoribus,
Nec sumit aut ponit secures
Arbitrio popularis aurae.

THE task of an author is, either to teach what is not known, or to re­commend known truths, by his manner of adorning them; either to let new light in up­on the mind, and open new scenes to the prospect, or to vary the dress and situation of common objects, so as to give them fresh grace and more powerful attractions, to spread such flowers over the regions through which the intellect has already made its progress, as may tempt it to return, and take a second view of things too hastily passed over, or too negligent­ly regarded.

EITHER of these labours is very difficult, because, that they may not be fruitless, men must not only be persuaded of their errors, but reconciled to their guide; they must not only confess their ignorance, but, what is still less pleasing, must allow that he from whom they [Page 20] are to learn is more knowing than themselves.

IT might be imagined that such an employ­ment was in itself sufficiently irksome and hazardous, and that none would be found so malevolent as wantonly to add weight to the stone of Sisyphus. It might be hoped that few endeavours would be used to obstruct those advances to reputation, which must be made at such an expence of time and thought, and by such slow degrees, with so great hazard in the miscarriage, and with so little advantage from the success.

YET there is a certain race of men, that either imagine it their duty, or make it their amusement, to hinder the reception of every work of learning or of genius, who stand as centinels in the avenues of fame, and value themselves upon giving IGNORANCE and ENVY the first notice of a new prey.

TO these men, who distinguish themselves by the appellation of CRITICKS, it is neces­sary for a new author to find some means of recommendation. It is probable, that the most malignant of these persecutors might be somewhat softened, and prevailed on, for a [Page 21] short time, to remit their fury. For this pur­pose, having considered many expedients, I find in the records of ancient times, that ARGUS was lulled by music, and CERBERUS quieted with a sop; and am, therefore, inclin­ed to believe that modern criticks, who, if they have not the eyes, have the watchfulness of ARGUS, and can bark as loud as CERBE­RUS, though, perhaps, they may not bite with equal force, might be subdued by methods of the same kind. I have heard how some have been pacified with claret and a supper, and o­thers laid asleep by the soft notes of flattery.

THOUGH the nature of my undertaking gives me sufficient reason to dread the united attacks of this virulent generation, yet I have not hitherto persuaded myself to take any measures for flight or treaty. For I am in doubt, whether they can act against me by lawful authority, whether they have not pre­sumed upon a forged commission, stiled them­selves the ministers of CRITICISM, without being able to produce any authentic evidence of delegation, and uttered their own determi­nations as the decrees of a higher judicature.

CRITICISM, from whom they derive their [Page 22] claim to decide the fate of writers, was the eldest daughter of LABOUR and of TRUTH: she was, at her birth, committed to the care of JUSTICE, and brought up by her in the palace of WISDOM. Being soon distinguish­ed by the celestials, for her uncommon qualities, she was appointed the governess of FANCY, and impowered to beat time to the chorus of the MUSES, when they sung before the throne of JUPITER.

WHEN the MUSES condescended to visit this lower world, they came accompanied by CRITICISM, to whom, upon her descent from her native regions, JUSTICE gave a scepter, to be carried aloft in her right hand, one end of which was tinctured with ambrosia, and in­wreathed with a golden foliage of amaranths and bays; the other end was incircled with cypress and poppies, and dipped in the waters of oblivion. In her left hand, she bore an unextinguishable torch, the manufacture of LABOUR, and lighted by TRUTH, of which it was the particular quality to diffuse its radi­ance in such a manner as immediately to shew every thing in its true form, however it might be disguised to common eyes. Whatever ART could complicate, or FOLLY could con­found, [Page 23] was, upon the first gleam of the torch of TRUTH, exhibited in its distinct parts and original simplicity; it darted through all the labyrinths of sophistry, and shewed at once all the absurdities to which they served for refuge; it pierced through the robes, which rheto­rick often sold to falsehood, and detected the disproportion of parts, which artificial veils had been contrived to cover.

THUS furnished for the execution of her office, CRITICISM camedown to survey the per­formances of those who professed themselves the votaries of the MUSES. Whatever was brought before her, she beheld by the steady light of the torch of TRUTH, and when her exami­nation had convinced her, that the laws of just writing had been observed, she touched it with the amaranthine end of the scepter, and consigned it over to immortality.

BUT it more frequently happened, that in the works, which required her inspection, there was some imposture attempted; that false colours were laboriously laid upon par­ticular parts; that some secret inequality was sound between the words and sentiments, or some dissimilitude of the ideas and the original [Page 24] objects; that incongruities were linked together, or that some parts were of no use but to en­large the appearance of the whole, without contributing to its beauty, its solidity, or its usefulness.

WHEREVER such discoveries were made, and they were made whenever these faults were committed, CRITICISM refused the touch which conferred the sanction of immor­tality, and, when the errors were frequent and gross, reversed the scepter, and let the drops of Lethe distil from the poppies and cypress, a fatal mildew, which immediately began to waste the work away, till it was at last totally destroyed.

THERE were frequently some compositions brought to the test, in which, when the strongest light was thrown upon them, their beauties and faults appeared so equally mingled, that CRTICISM stood with her scepter poised in her hand, in doubt whether to shed the drops of oblivion, or ambrosia, upon them. These, at last, increased to so great a number, that she was weary of attending such doubtful claims, and, for fear of using improperly the [Page 25] scepter of JUSTICE, referred the cause to be considered by TIME.

THE proceedings of TIME, though very dilatory, were, some few caprices excepted, conformable to JUSTICE: and many, who thought themselves secure by a short forbear­ance, have sunk under his scythe, as they were posting down with their volumes in tri­umph to futurity. It was observable that some were destroyed by little and little, and others crushed for ever by a single blow.

CRITICISM having long kept her eye fixt steadily upon TIME, was at last so well satis­fied with his conduct, that she withdrew from the earth with her patroness ASTREA, and left PREJUDICE and FALSE-TASTE to ravage at large with FRAUD and MISCHIEF; content­ing herself thenceforth to shed her influence from afar upon some select minds, sitted for its reception by learning and by virtue.

BEFORE her departure, she broke her scepter, of which the shivers, that formed the ambrosial end, were caught up by FLATTERY, and those that had been infected with the waters of [...], with equal haste, [...] by MA­LEVOLENCE. [Page 26] The followers of FLATTERY, to whom she distributed her part of the scepter, neither had nor desired light, but touched in­discriminately whatever POWER or INTEREST happened to exhibit. The companions of MALEVOLENCE were supplied by the FURIES with a torch, which had this quality peculiar to infernal lustre, that its light fell only upon faults.

No light, but rather darkness visible
Serv'd only to discover sights of woe.

WITH these fragments of authority, the slaves of FLATTERY and MALEVOLENCE marched out, at the command of their mis­tresses, to confer immortality, or condemn to oblivion. But the scepter had now lost its power; and TIME passes his sentence at leisure, without any regard to their determinations.

NUMB. 4. SATURDAY, March 31, 1750.

‘Simul et jucunda et idonea dicere Vitae.’HOR.

THE works of fiction, with which the present generation seems more parti­cularly delighted, are such as exhibit life in its true state, diversified only by the accidents that daily happen in the world, and influenced by those passions and qualities which are really to be found in conversing with mankind.

THIS kind of writing may be termed not im­properly the comedy of romance, and is to be conducted nearly by the rules of comic poetry Its province is to bring about natural event­by easy means, and to keep up curiosity with­out the help of wonder: it is therefore preclu­ded from the machines and expedients of the heroic romance, and can neither employ giants to snatch away a lady from the nuptial rites, nor knights to bring her back from captivity; it can neither bewilder its personages in desarts, nor lodge them in imaginary castles.

I REMEMBER a remark made by Scaliger upon Pontanus, that all his writings are filled [Page 28] with the same images; and that if you take from him his lillies and his roses, his satyrs and his dryads, he will have nothing left that can be called poetry. In like manner, almost all the fictions of the last age will vanish, if you deprive them of a hermit and a wood, a battle and a shipwreek.

WHY this wild strain of imagination found reception so long, in polite and learned ages, it is not easy to conceive; but we cannot wonder that, while readers could be procured, the authors were willing to continue it: for when a man had by practice gained some fluency of language, he had no farther care than to retire to his closet, let loose his inventi­on, and heat his mind with incredibilities; and a book was produced without fear of cri­ticism, without the toil of study, without knowledge of nature, or acquaintance with life.

THE task of our present writers is very dif­ferent; it requires, together with that learning which is to be gained from books, that expe­rience which can never be attained by solitary diligence, but must arise from general converse, and accurate observation of the living world. Their performances have, as Horace expresses [Page 29] it, plus oneris quantum veniae minus, little indul­gence, and therefore more difficulty. They are engaged in portraits of which every one knows the original, and can therefore detect any deviation from exactness of resemblance. Other writings are safe, except from the malice of learning, but these are in danger from every common reader; as the slipper ill executed was censured by a shoemaker who happened to stop in his way at the Venus of Apelles.

BUT the danger of not being approved as just copyers of human manners, is not the most important apprehension that an author of this sort ought to have before him. These books are writen chiefly to the young, the ig­norant, and the idle, to whom they serve as lectures of conduct, and introductions into life. They are the entertainment of minds unfurnished with ideas, and therefore easily susceptible of impressions; not fixed by princi­ples, and therefore easily following the current of fancy; not informed by experience, and consequently open to every false suggestion and partial account.

THAT the highest degree of reverence should be paid to youth, and that nothing in­decent [Page 30] or unseemly should be suffered to ap­proach their eyes or ears; are precepts extorted by sense and virtue from an ancient writer, by no means eminent for chastity of thought. The same kind, tho' not the same degree of caution, is required in every thing which is laid before them, to secure them from unjust prejudices, perverse opinions, and improper combinations of images.

IN the romances formerly written, every transaction and sentiment was so remote from all that passes among men, that the reader was in very little danger of making any applicati­ons to himself; the virtues and crimes were equally beyond his sphere of activity; and he amused himself with heroes and with traitors, deliverers and persecutors, as with beings of another species, whose actions were regulated upon motives of their own, and who had nei­ther faults nor excellencies in common with himself.

BUT when an adventurer is levelled with the rest of the world, and acts in such scenes of the universal drama, as may be the lot of any other man; young spectators fix their eyes upon him with closer attention, and hope by [Page 31] observing his behaviour and success to regu­late their own practices, when they shall be engaged in the like part.

FOR this reason these familiar histories may perhaps be made of greater use than the solem­nities of professed morality, and convey the knowledge of vice and virtue with more efficacy than axioms and definitions. But if the power of example is so great, as to take possession of the memory by a kind of violence, and pro­duce effects almost without the intervention of the will, care ought to be taken that, when the choice is unrestrained, the best examples only should be exhibited; and that which is likely to operate so strongly, should not be mischievous or uncertain in its effects.

THE chief advantage which these fictions have over real life is, that their authors are at liberty, tho' not to invent, yet to select objects, and to cull from the mass of mankind, those individuals upon which the attention ought most to be employ'd; as a diamond, though it cannot be made, may be polished by art, and placed in such a situation, as to display that lustre which before was buried among common stones.

[Page 32] IT is justly considered as the greatest excel­lency of art, to imitate nature; but it is ne­cessary to distinguish those parts of nature, which are most proper for imitation: greater care is still required in representing life, which is so often discoloured by passion, or deformed by wickedness. If the world be promiscuously described, I cannot see of what use it can be to read the account; or why it may not be as safe to turn the eye immediately upon mankind, as upon a mirror which shows all that presents itself without discrimination.

IT is therefore not a sufficient vindication of a character, that it is drawn as it appears, for many characters ought never to be drawn; nor of a narrative, that the train of events is agreeable to observation and experience, for that observation which is called knowledge of the world, will be found much more frequent­ly to make men cunning than good. The purpose of these writings is surely not only to show mankind, but to provide that they may be seen hereafter with less hazard; to teach the means of avoiding the snares which are laid by TREACHERY for INNOCENCE, without in­fusing any wish for that superiority with which [Page 33] the betrayer flatters his vanity; to give the power of counteracting fraud, without the temptation to practise it; to initiate youth by mock encounters in the art of necessary de­fence, and to increase prudence without impair­ing virtue.

MANY writers for the sake of following na­ture, so mingle good and bad qualities in their principal personages, that they are both equal­ly conspicuous; and as we accompany them through their adventures with delight, and are led by degrees to interest ourselves in their favour, we lose the abhorrence of their faults, because they do not hinder our pleasure, or, perhaps, regard them with some kindness for being united with so much merit.

THERE have been men indeed splendidly wicked, whose endowments throw a bright­ness on their crimes, and whom scarce any villainy made perfectly detestable, because they never could be wholly divested of their excellencies; but such have been in all ages the great corrupters of the world, and their resemblance ought no more to be preserved, than the art of murdering without pain.

[Page 34] SOME have advanced, without due attention to the consequences of this notion, that certain virtues have their correspondent faults, and therefore that to exhibit either apart is to de­viate from probability. Thus men are obser­ved by Swift to be grateful in the same degree as they are resentful. This principle, with others of the same kind, supposes man to act from a brute impulse, and persue a certain de­gree of inclination, without any choice of the object; for, otherwise, though it should be allowed that gratitude and resentment arise from the same constitution of the passions, it follows not that they will be equally indulged when reason is consulted; yet unless that con­sequence be admitted, this sagacious maxim be­comes an empty sound, without any relation to practice or to life.

NOR is it evident, that even the first motions to these effects are always in the same propor­tion. For pride, which produces quickness of resentment, will frequently obstruct grati­tude, by unwillingness to admit that inferiority which obligation necessarily implies; and it is surely very unlikely, that he who cannot think he receives a favour will ever acknow­ledge it.

[Page 35] IT is of the utmost importance to mankind, that positions of this tendency should be laid open and confuted; for while men consider good and evil as springing from the same root, they will spare the one for the sake of the other, and in judging, if not of others at least of themselves, will be apt to estimate their virtues by their vices. To this fatal error all those will contribute, who confound the colours of right and wrong, and instead of helping to settle their boundaries, mix them with so much art, that no common mind is able to disunite them.

IN narratives, where historical veracity has no place, I cannot discover why there should not be exhibited the most perfect idea of virtue; of virtue not angelical, nor above probability, for what we cannot credit we shall never imi­tate, but of the highest and purest kind that humanity can reach, which, when exercised in such trials as the various revolutions of things shall bring upon it, may, by conquering some calamites, and enduring others, teach us what we may hope, and what we can perform. Vice, for vice is necessary to be shewn, should always disgust; nor should the graces of gaiety, or the dignity of courage, be so united [Page 36] with it, as to reconcile it to the mind. Where­ever it appears, it should raise hatred by the malignity of its practices, and contempt by the meanness of its stratagems; for while it is supported by either parts or spirit, it will be seldom heartily abhorred. The Roman tyrant was content to be hated, if he was but feared; and there are thousands of the readers of ro­mances willing to be thought wicked, if they may be allowed to be wits. It is therefore to be steadily inculcated, that virtue is the high­est proof of a superior understanding, and the only solid basis of greatness; and that vice is the natural consequence of narrow thoughts, that it begins in mistake, and ends in ignominy.

NUMB. 5. TUESDAY, April 3, 1750.

Et nunc omnis ager, nunc omnis parturit arbos,
Nunc frondent silvae, nunc formosissimus annus.

EVERY man is sufficiently discontented with some circumstances of his present state, to suffer his imagination to range more or less in quest of future happiness, and to fix upon some point of time, in which he shall, by [Page 37] the removal of the inconvenience which now perplexes him, or the acquisition of advantage which he at present wants, find the condition of his life very much improved.

WHEN this time, which is too often ex­pected with great impatience, at last arrives, it generally comes without the blessing for which it was desired; but we solace ourselves with some new prospect, and press forward a­gain with equal eagerness.

IT is some advantage to a man, in whom this temper prevails in any great degree, when he turns his hopes upon things wholly out of his own power; since he forbears then to preci­pitate his affairs, for the sake of the great event that is to complete his felicity, and waits for the blissful hour, without neglecting such measures as are necessary to be taken in the mean time.

I HAVE long known a person of this tem­per, who indulged his dream of happiness with less hurt to himself than such chimerical wishes commonly produce, and adjusted his scheme with such address, that his hopes were in full bloom three parts of the year, and in [Page 38] the other part never wholly blasted. Many, perhaps, would be desirous of learning by what means he procured to himself such a cheap and lasting satisfaction. It was gained only by a constant practice of referring the re­moval of all his uneasiness to the coming of the next spring. If his affairs were disorder­ed, he could regulate them in the spring; if a regimen was prescribed him, the spring was the proper time of persuing it; if what he wanted was at a high price, it would fall its value in the spring.

THE spring, indeed, did often come with­out any of these effects, but he was always certain that the next would be more propitious; and was never convinced that the present spring would fail him until the middle of summer; for he always talked of the spring as coming 'till it was past, and when it was once past, every one agreed with him that it was coming.

BY long converse with this man, I am, per­haps, in some degree brought to feel the same immoderate pleasure in the contemplation of this delightful season; but I have the satis­faction of finding many, whom it can be no shame to resemble, infected with the same en­thusiasm; [Page 39] for there is, I believe, scarce any poet of eminence, who has not left some testimony of his fondness for the flowers, the zephyrs, and the warblers of the spring. Nor has the most luxuriant imagination been able to describe the serenity and happiness of the golden age, otherwise than by giving a per­petual spring, as the highest reward of un­corrupted innocence.

THERE is, indeed, something inexpressibly pleasing, in the annual renovation of the world, and the new display of the treasures of nature. The cold and darkness of winter, with the naked deformity of every object on which we turn our eyes, makes us necessarily rejoice at the succeeding season, as well for what we have escaped, as for what we may enjoy; and every budding flower, which a warm situation brings early to our view, is considered by us as a messenger to inform us of the approach of more joyous days.

THE SPRING affords to a mind, so free from the disturbance of cares or passions as to be vacant to calm amusements, almost every thing that our present state makes us capable of enjoying. The variegated verdure of the [Page 40] fields and woods, the succession of grateful odours, the voice of pleasure pouring out its notes on every side, with the observation of the gladness apparently conceived by every animal, from the growth of his food, and the clemency of the weather, throw over the whole earth an air of gaiety, which is very significantly expressed by the smile of nature.

THERE are men to whom these scenes are able to give no delight, and who hurry away from all the varieties of rural beauty, to lose their hours, and divert their thoughts by cards, or assemblies, a tavern dinner, or the prattle of the day.

IT may be laid down as a position which will seldom deceive, that when a man cannot bear his own company there is something wrong. He must fly from himself, either be­cause he feels a tediousness in life from the equipoise of an empty mind, which, having no tendency to one motion more than another but as it is impelled by some external power, must always have recourse to foreign objects; or he must be afraid of the intrusion of some unpleasing ideas, and, perhaps, is always struggling to escape from the remembrance of [Page 41] a loss, the fear of a calamity, or some other thought of greater horror.

THOSE, who are incapacitated to enjoy the pleasures of contemplation by their griefs, may, very properly, apply to such diversions, provided they are in [...], as lay strong hold on the attention; and those, whom fear of any [...] down to misery, must endeavour to obviate the danger.

MY considerations shall, on this occasion, be [...] such [...] are burthensome to them­selves merely because they want subjects for reflection, and to whom the volume of nature is thrown open without affording them pleasure or instruction, because they never learned to read the characters.

A FRENCH author has advanced this seem­ing paradox, that very few men know how to take a walk; and, indeed, it is very true, that few men know how to take a walk with a prospect of any other pleasure, than the same company would have afforded them in any other circumstances.

THERE are animals that borrow their colour [Page 42] from the neighbouring body, and, consequently, vary their hue as they happen to change their place. In like manner it ought to be the en­deavour of every man to derive his reflections from the objects about him; for it is to no purpose that he alters his position, if his at­tention continues fixed to the same point. The mind should be kept open to the access of every new idea, and so far disengaged from the predominance of particular thoughts, as to be able to accommodate itself to emergent occasions, and remark every thing that offers itself to present examination.

A MAN that has formed this habit of turn­ing every new object to his entertainment, finds in the productions of nature an inex­haustible stock of materials upon which he can employ himself, without any temptations to envy or malevolence; faults, perhaps, seldom totally avoided by those, whose judg­ment is much exercised upon the works of art. He has always a certain prospect of dis­covering new reasons for adoring the sovereign author of the universe, and probable hopes of making some discovery of benefit to others, or of profit to himself. There is no doubt but many vegetables and animals have qualities [Page 43] that might be of great use, to the knowledge of which there is not required much sagacity of penetration, or fatigue of study, but only frequent experiments, and close attention. What is said by the chymists of their darling mercury, is, perhaps, true of every body through the whole creation, that, if a thou­sand lives should be spent upon it, all its pro­perties would not be found out.

MANKIND must necessarily be diversified by various tastes, since life affords and requires such multiplicity of employments, and a nati­on of naturalists is therefore neither to be ho­ped, or desired; but it is surely not improper to point out a fresh amusement to those who languish in health, and repine in plenty, for want of some source of diversion that may be less easily exhausted, and to inform the multi­tudes of both sexes, who are burthened with every new day, that there are many shows which they have not seen.

HE that enlarges his curiosity after the works of nature, demonstrably multiplies the inlets to happiness; and, therefore, the younger part of my readers, to whom I dedicate this vernal speculation, must excuse me for calling [Page 44] upon them, to make use at once of the spring of the year, and the spring of life; to acquire, while their minds may be yet impressed with new images, a love of innocent pleasures, and an ardour for useful knowledge; and to re­member, that a blighted spring makes a barren year, and that the vernal flowers, however beautiful and gay, are only intended by nature as preparatives to autumnal fruits.

NUMB. 6. SATURDAY, April 7, 1750.

Strenua nos exercet inertia, navibus atque
Quadrigis petimus bene vivere: quod petis, hic est;
Est Ulubris, animus si te non deficit aequus.

THAT man should never suffer his hap­piness to depend upon external circum­stances, is one of the chief precepts of the Stoical philosophy; a precept, indeed, which that lofty sect has extended beyond the condi­tion of human life, and in which some of them seem to have comprised an utter exclu­sion of all corporeal pain and pleasure, from the regard or attention of a wise man.

[Page 45] SUCH sapientia insaniens, as Horace calls the doctrine of another sect, such extravagance of philosophy, can want neither authority nor argument for its confutation; the experience of every hour is sufficient to overthrow it, and the powers of nature rise up against it. But we may very properly inquire, how near to this exalted state it is in our power to approach, how far we can exempt ourselves from out­ward influences, and secure to our minds a state of tranquillity: For, as the boast of absolute independence is ridiculuos and vain, so a mean flexibilty to every impulse, and a patient submission to the tyranny of every casual trouble, is below the dignity of that mind, which, however depraved or weaken­ed, boasts its derivation from a celestial origi­nal, and hopes for an union with infinite good­ness, and unvariable felicity;

Ni vitiis pejora fovens
Proprium deserat ortum.

THE necessity of erecting ourselves to some degree of intellectual dignity, and of preserving [...]ome resource of pleasure, which may not be wholly at the mercy of accident, is never more apparent than when we turn our eyes upon [Page 46] those whom fortune has let loose to their own conduct; who not being chained down by their condition to a regular and stated allot­ment of their hours, are obliged to find them­selves business or diversion, and having no­thing within that can either entertain or em­ploy them, are compelled to try all the arts of destroying time.

THE numberless expedients practised by this class of mortals to alleviate the burthen of life, is not less shameful, nor, perhaps, much less pitiable, than those to which a trader on the edge of bankruptcy is reduced. I have seen melancholy overspread a whole family at the disappointment of a party for cards, and after the proposal of a thousand different schemes to supply the loss, and the dispatch of the footmen upon a hundred messages, they have submit­ted, with a gloomy resignation, to the inevita­ble misfortune of passing one evening in con­versation with each other: But on a sudden, such are the revolutions of the world, an un­expected visiter has brought them relief, ac­ceptable as provision to a starving city, and ena­bled them to hold out till the next day.

THE general remedy of those, who are uneasy [Page 47] without knowing the cause, is a change of place; they are always willing to imagine that their pain is the consequence of some local inconvenience, and endeavour to fly from it, as children from their shadows; always hoping for more satisfactory delight from every new scene of diversion, and always returning home with disappointment and complaints.

I CANNOT look upon this kind of infatuati­on, without reflecting on those that suffer under the dreadful symptom of canine madness, term­ed by physicians the hydrophobia, or dread of water. These miserable wretches, when they are unable to drink, though burning with thirst, are sometimes known to try various contortions, or inclinations of the body, flat­tering themselves that they can swallow in one posture that liquor, which they find in another to repel their lips.

YET such folly is not peculiar to the thoughtless, or the ignorant, but sometimes seizes those minds, which seem most exempted from it, by the variety of their attainments, the quickness of their penetration, or the se­verity of their judgment; and, indeed, the pride of wit and knowledge is often mortified [Page 48] by finding, that they can confer no security against the common errors, which mislead the weakest and meanest of mankind.

THESE reflexions arose in my mind upon the remembrance of a passage in Cowley's preface to his poems, where, however exalted by his genius, and enlarged by his acquisitions, he informs us of a scheme of happiness to which the imagination of a girl, upon the loss of her first lover, would have scarcely given way; but which he seems to have indulged till he had totally forgotten its absurdity, and would have, probably, put in execution, had he been hindered only by his reason.

'MY desire,' say she, 'has been for some years past, though the execution has been acciden­tally diverted, and does still vehemently con­tinue, to retire myself to some of our Ame­rican plantations, not to seek for gold, or enrich myself with the traffic of those parts, which is the end of most men that travel thither; but to forsake this world for ever, with all the vanities and vexations of it, and to bury my self there in some obscure retreat, but not without the consolation of letters and philosophy.'

[Page 49] SUCH was the chimerical provision which Cowley had made, in his own mind, for the quiet of his remaining life, and which he seems to recomend to posterity, since there is no other reason for his disclosing it. Surely no stronger instance can be given of a persuasion that content was the inhabitant of particular regions, and that a man might set sail with a fair wind, and leave behind him all his cares, incumbrances, and calamities.

IF he travelled so far with no other purpose than to bury himself in some obscure retreat, he might have found, in his own country, innu­merable coverts sufficiently obscure to have concealed the genius of Cowley; for, what­ever might be his own opinion of the impor­tunity with which he should be summoned back into public life, a short experience would have convinced him, that privation is much easier than acquisition, and that it would re­quire very little policy to free himself from the intrusion of the world. There is pride enough in the human heart to prevent much desire of acquaintance with a man by whom we are sure to be treated with neglect, however his reputation for science or virtue may excite [Page 50] our curiosity or esteem; so that the lover of retirement need not be much afraid lest the respect of strangers should overwhelm him with visits; and those to whom he has for­merly been known will very patiently support his absence, when they have tryed a little to live without him, and found new diversions for those moments which his company contribu­ted to exhilarate or relax.

IT was, perhaps, ordained by providence, to hinder us from tyrannising over one another, that no individual should be of so much impor­tance, as to cause by his retreat or death any chasm in the world. And Cowley had con­versed to little purpose with mankind, if he had not remarked, how soon the useful friend, the gay companion, and the favoured lover, when once they are removed from before the fight, give way to the succession of new objects.

THE privacy, therefore, of his hermitage might have been safe enough from violation, though he had chosen it within the limits of his native island; and he might have found here preservatives against the vanities and vexations of the world, not less efficacious than [Page 51] those, which the woods or fields of America could afford him: but having once his mind imbittered with disgust, he conceived it impos­sible to be far enough from the cause of his uneasiness; he was posting away with all the expedition of a coward, who, for want of ven­turing to look behind him, thinks the enemy perpetually at his heels.

WHEN he was interrupted by company, or fatigued with business, he so strongly imaged to himself the happiness of leisure and retreat, that he determined to enjoy them for the future without interuption, and to exclude for ever all that could deprive him of his darling satis­factions. He forgot, in the vehemence of his desire, that solitude and quiet owe their plea­sures to those miseries, which he was so studi­ous to obviate; for such are the vicissitudes of the world, through all its parts, that day and night, labour and rest, converse and retirement, endear each other; such are the changes that keep the mind in action; we desire, we per­sue, we obtain, we are satiated; we desire something else, and begin a new persuit.

IF he had proceeded in his project, and sixt his habitation in the most delightful part [Page 52] of the new world, it may be much doubted, whether his distance from the vanities of life would have enabled him to have kept away the vexations. It is common for a man, who feels pain, to fancy that he could bear it better in any other part. Cowley having known the troubles and perplexities of a particular condi­tion, very readily persuaded himself that no­thing worse was to be found, and that every alteration would bring some improvement; he never suspected that the cause of his unhap­piness was in himself, that his own passions were not sufficiently regulated, and that he was harrassed by his own impatience, which, as it could never be without something to awa­ken it, would torment him in any other coun­try, accompany him over the sea, and find its way to his American elysium. He would, upon the tryal, have been soon convinced, that the fountain of content must spring up in the mind; and that he, who has so little knowledge of human nature, as to seek hap­piness by changing any thing, but his own dispositions, will waste his life in fruitless efforts, and multiply the griefs which he pur­poses to remove.

NUMB. 7. TUESDAY, April 10, 1750.

O qui perpetuâ mundum ratione gubernas,
Terrarum coelique saton!—
Disjice terrenae nebulas & pondera molis,
Atque tuo splendore mica! Tu namque serenum,
Tu requies tranquilla piis. Te cernere, finis,
Principium, vector, dux, semita, terminus, idem.

THE love of RETIREMENT has, in all ages, adhered very closely to those minds, which have been most enlarged by knowledge, or elevated by genius. Those who have enjoyed every thing that is generally supposed to confer happiness, have been forced to seek it in the shades of privacy. Though they have possessed both power and riches, and been, therefore, surrounded by men, who considered it as their chief interest to remove from them every thing that might offend their ease, ruffle their tranquillity, or interrupt their pleasure, they have soon felt the languors of satiety, and found themselves unable to pursue the race of life except with frequent respirati­ons of intermediate solitude.

[Page 54] TO produce this disposition nothing appears requisite but a quick sensibility, and active imagination; for, without being devoted to the persuit of virtue, or the study of science, a man, whose faculties enable him to make rea­dy comparisons of the present with the past, will find such a constant recurrence of the same pleasures, the same troubles, the same expecta­tions, and the same disappointments, that he will gladly snatch an hour of retreat, to let his thoughts expatiate at large, and seek for that variety in his own ideas, which the objects of sense cannot afford him.

NOR will greatness, or abundance, contri­bute to exempt him from the importunities of this desire, since, if he is born to think, he cannot restrain himself from a thousand inqui­ries and speculations, which he must persue by his own reason, and which the splendour of his condition can only hinder; for those who are most exalted above dependance or controul, are yet condemned to pay so large a tribute of their time to custom, ceremony, and popu­larity, that, according to the Greek proverb, no man in the house is more a slave than the master.

[Page 55] WHEN a king asked Euclid the mathe­matician, whether he could not explain his art to him in a more compendious manner, he was answered, that there was no royal way to geometry. Other things may be seized by might, or purchased with money, but know­ledge is to be gained only by study, and study to be prosecuted only in retirement.

THESE are some of the motives which have had power to sequester kings and heroes from the crouds that soothed them with flat­teries, or inspirited them with acclamations; but their efficacy seems confined to superior abilities, and to operate little upon the com­mon classes of mankind, to whose conceptions the present assemblage of things is adequate, and who seldom range beyond those enter­tainments and vexations, which solicit their attention by pressing on their senses.

BUT there is an universal reason for some stated intervals of solitude, which the institu­tions of the church call upon me, now espe­cially, to mention; a reason, which extends as wide as moral duty, or the hopes of divine favour in a future state; and which ought to [Page 56] influence all ranks of life, and all degrees of intellect; since none can imagine themselves not comprehended in its obligation, but such as determine to set their maker at defiance by obstinate wickedness, or whose enthusiastick security of his approbation places them above external ordinances, and all human means of improvement.

THE great task of the man, who conducts his life by the precepts of religion, is to make the future predominant over the present, to impress upon his mind so strong a sense of the importance of obedience to the divine will, of the value of the reward promised to virtue, and the terrors of the punishment denounced against crimes, as may overbear all the temp­tations which temporal hope or fear can bring in his way, and enable him to bid equal de­fiance to joy and sorrow, to turn away at one time from the allurements of ambition, and push forward at another against the threats of calamity.

IT is not without reason that the apostle represents our passage through this stage of our existence by images drawn from the alarms and solicitude of a military life; for we are [Page 67] placed in such a state, that almost every thing about us conspires against our chief interest. We are in danger from whatever can get possession of our thoughts; all that can excite in us either pain or pleasure has a tendency to obstruct the way that leads to happiness, and either to turn us aside, or retard our pro­gress.

OUR senses, our appetites, and our passions, are our lawful and faithful guides, in most things that relate solely to this life; and, there­fore, by the hourly necessity of consulting them, we gradually sink into an implicit sub­mission, and habitual confidence. Every act of compliance with their motions facilitates a second compliance, every new step towards depravity is made with less reluctance than the former, and thus the descent to life merely sensual is perpetually accelerated.

THE senses have not only that advantage over conscience, which things necessary must always have over things chosen, but they have likewise a kind of prescription in their favour. We feared pain much earlier than we appre­hended guilt, and were delighted with the sen­sations of pleasure, before we had capacities [Page 58] to be charmed with the beauty of rectitude. To this power, thus early established, and in­cessantly increasing, it must be remembered, that almost every man has, in some part of his life, added new strength by a voluntary or negligent subjection of himself; for who is there that has not instigated his appetites by indulgence, or suffered them by an unresisting neutrality to enlarge their dominion, and mul­tiply their demands?

FROM the necessity of dispossessing the sen­sual faculties of the influence which they must naturally gain by this preoccupation of the soul, arises that conflict between opposite de­sires, in the first endeavours after a religious life; which, however enthusiastically it may have been described, however contemptuously ridiculed, will naturally be felt in some degree, though varied without end, by different tem­pers of mind, and innumerable circumstances of health or condition, greater or less fervour, more or fewer temptations to relapse.

FROM the perpetual necessity of consulting the animal faculties, in our provision for the present life, arises the difficulty of withstand­ing their impulses, even in cases where they [Page 59] ought to be of no weight; for the motions of sense are instantaneous, its objects strike un­sought, we are accustomed to follow its di­rections, and therefore often submit to the sentence without examining the authority of the judge.

THUS it appears upon a philosophical esti­mate, that, supposing the mind, at any cer­tain time, in an equipoise between the pleasures of this life, and the hopes of futuri­ty, present objects falling more frequently into the scale would in time preponderate, and that our regard for an invisible state would grow every moment weaker, till at last it would lose all its activity, and become abso­lutely without effect.

TO prevent this dreadful event, the balance is put into our own hands, and we have power to transfer the weight to either side. The motives to a life of holiness are infinite, not less than the favour or anger of omnipotence, not less than eternity of happiness or misery. But these can only influence our conduct as they gain our attention, which the business, or diversions, of the world are always calling off by contrary attractions.

[Page 60] THE great art therefore of piety, and the end for which all the rites of religion seem to be instituted, is the perpetual renovation of the motives to virtue, by a voluntary employ­ment of our mind in the contemplation of its excellence, its importance, and its necessity, which, in proportion as they are more fre­quently and more willingly revolved, gain a more forcible and permanent influence, 'till in time they become the reigning ideas, the stand­ing principles of action, and the test by which everything proposed to the judgment is rejected or approved.

TO facilitate this change of our affections, it is necessary that we weaken the temptations of the world, by retiring at certain seasons from it; for its influence arising only from its presence, is much lessened when it becomes the object of solitary meditation. A constant residence amidst noise and pleasure inevitably obliterates the impressions of piety, and a fre­quent abstraction of ourselves into a state, where this life, like the next, operates only upon the reason, will reinstate religion in its just authority, even without those irradiations from above, the hope of which I have yet no [Page 61] no intention to withdraw from the sincere and the diligent.

THIS is that conquest of the world and of ourselves, which has been always considered as the perfection of human nature; and this is only to be obtained by fervent prayer, steady resolutions, and frequent retirement from folly and vanity, from the cares of avarice, and the joys of intemperance, from the lulling sounds of deceitful flattery, and the tempting sight of prosperous wickedness.

NUMB. 8. SATURDAY, April 14, 1750.

—Patitur poenas peccandi sola voluntas;
Nam scelus intra se tacitum qui cogitat ullum,
Facti crimen habet.

IF the most active and industrious of man­kind was able, at the close of life, to recol­lect distinctly his past moments, and distribute them, in a regular account, according to the manner in which they have been spent, it is scarcely to be imagined how few would be marked out to the mind, by any permanent or visible effects, how small a proportion his [Page 62] real action would bear to his seeming possibi­lities of action, how many chasms he would find of perfect vacuity, and how many inter­stitial spaces unfilled, even in the most tumul­tuous hurries of business, and the most eager vehemence of persuit.

IT is observed by modern philosophers, that not only the great globes of matter are thinly scattered through the universe, but the hardest bodies are so porous, that, if all matter were compressed to perfect solidity, it might be contained in a cube of a few feet. In like manner, if all the employments of life were crowded into the time which it really occupi­ed, perhaps a few weeks, days, or hours, would be sufficient for its accomplishment, so far as the mind was engaged in the perfor­mance. For such is the inequality of our corporeal to our intellectual faculties, that we contrive in minutes what we execute in years, and the soul often stands an idle spectator of the labour of the hands, and expedition of the feet.

FOR this reason, the antient generals often found themselves at leisure to persue the study of philosophy in the camp; and Lucan, with [Page 63] historical veracity, makes Caesar relate of him­self, that his wars never hindered celestial ob­servations, and that he noted the revolutions of the stars in the midst of preparations for battle.

—Media inter praelia semper
Sideribus, caelique plagis, superisque vacavi.

THAT the soul always exerts her peculiar powers, with greater or less force, is very probable, though the common occasions of our present condition require but a small part of that incessant cogitation; and by the na­tural frame of our bodies, and general combi­nation of the world, we are, unavoidably, con­demned to so frequent inactivity, that, as through all our time we are thinking, for a great part of our time we can only think.

LEST so restless a power should be either unprofitably, or hurtfully employed, and the superfluities of intellect run to waste, it is no vain speculation to consider how we may go­vern our thoughts, restrain them from irregu­lar motions, or confine them from boundless dissipation.

HOW the understanding is best conducted to [Page 64] the knowledge of science, by what steps it is to be led forwards in its persuit, how it is to be cured of its defects, and habituated to new studies, has been the inquiry of many acute and learned men, whose observations I shall not, on this occasion, either adopt or censure; my purpose being to consider the moral dis­cipline of the mind, and to promote the in­crease of virtue rather than of learning.

THIS inquiry seems to have been neglected for want of remembering that all action has its origin in the mind, and that therefore to suffer the thoughts to be vitiated, is to poison the fountains of morality: Irregular desires will produce licentious practices; what men allow themselves to wish they will soon believe, and will be at last incited to execute what they please themselves with contriving.

FOR this reason the casuists of the Romish church, who gain, by confession, great oppor­tunities of knowing human nature, have, I think, generally determined that what it is a crime to do, it is a crime to think. Since by revolving with pleasure, the facility, safety or advantage of a wicked deed, a man soon be­gins to find his constancy relax, and his de­testation [Page 65] soften; the happiness of success is glittering before him, withdraws his attention from the atrociousness of the guilt, and acts-are at last confidently perpetrated, of which the first conception only crept into the mind, dis­guised in pleasing complications, and permit­ted rather than invited.

NO man has ever been drawn to crimes, by love or jealousy, envy or hatred, but he can tell how easily he might at first have repelled the temptation, how readily his mind would have obeyed a call to any other object, and how weak his passion has been after some casual a­vocation, 'till he has recalled it again to his heart, and revived the viper by too warm a fondness.

SUCH, therefore, is the importance of keep­ing our reason a constant guard over our ima­gination, that we have otherwise no security for our own virtue, but may corrupt our hearts in the most recluse solitude, with more perni­cious and tyrannical appetites and wishes, than the commerce of the world will generally produce; for we are easily shocked by crimes which appear at once in their full magnitude, but the gradual growth of our own wickedness, [Page 66] endeared by interest, and palliated by all the artifices of self-deceit, gives us time to form distinctions in our own favour, and reason by degrees submits to absurdity, as the eye is ac­commodated to darkness.

IN this disease of the soul, it is of the ut­most importance to apply remedies at the be­ginning; and, therefore, I shall endeavour to shew what thoughts are to be rejected or im­proved, as they regard the past, present, or fu­ture; in hopes that some may be awakened to caution and vigilance, who, perhaps, indulge themselves in dangerous dreams, so much the more dangerous, because being yet only dreams they are concluded innocent.

THE recollection of the past is only useful by way of provision for the future, and therer­fore, in reviewing all the occurrences that fall under a religious consideration, it is proper that a man stop at the first thoughts, to remark how he was led thither, and why he continues the reflection. If he is dwelling with de­light upon a stratagem of successful fraud, a night of licentious riot, or an intrigue of guilty pleasure, let him summon off his imagi­nation as from an unlawful persuit, expel those [Page 67] passages from his remembrance, of which, though he cannot seriously approve them, the pleasure overpowers the guilt, and refer them to a future hour, when they may be considered with greater safety. Such an hour will cer­tainly come; for the impressions of past plea­sure are always lessening, but the sense of guilt, which respects futurity, continues the same.

THE serious and impartial retrospect of our conduct is indisputably necessary to the confir­mation or recovery of virtue, and is, therefore, recommended under the name of self-examina­tion, by divines, as the first act previous to repentance. It is, indeed, of so great use, that without it we should always be to begin life, be seduced for ever by the same allurements, and misled by the same fallacies. But in order that we may not lose the advantage of our ex­perience, we must endeavour to see every thing in its proper form, and excite in ourselves those sentiments which the great author of nature has decreed the concomitants or followers of good or bad actions.

[Page 68] Let not sleep, says Pythagoras, fall upon thy eyes till thou hast thrice reviewed the transactions of the past day. Where have I turned aside from rectitude? What have I been doing? What have I left undone, which I ought to have done? Begin thus from the first act, and proceed; and in conclusion, at the ill which thou hast done be troubled, and rejoice for the good.

OUR thoughts on present things being de­termined by the objects before us, fall not un­der those indulgences, or excursions, which I am now considering. But I cannot forbear, under this head, to caution pious and tender minds, that are disturbed by the irruptions of wicked imaginations, against too great dejec­tion, and too anxious alarms; for thoughts are only criminal, when they are first chosen, and then voluntarily continued.

Evil into the mind of god or man
May come and go, so unapprov'd, and leave
No spot or stain behind.

IN futurity chiefly are the snares lodged, by which the imagination is intangled. Futurity is the proper abode of hope and fear, with all their train and progeny of subordinate appre­hensions and desires. In futurity events and [Page 69] chances are yet floating at large, without appa­rent connexion with their causes, and we therefore easily indulge the liberty of gratifying ourselves with a pleasing choice. To pick and cull among possible advantages is, as the civil law terms it, in vacuum venire, to take what belongs to nobody; but it has this ha­zard in it, that we shall be unwilling to quit what we have seized, though an owner should be found. It is easy to think on that which may be gained, till at last we resolve to gain it, and to imagine the happiness of particular con­ditions till we can be easy in no other. We ought, at least, to let our desires fix upon nothing in another's power for the sake of our quiet, or in another's possession for the sake of our inno­cence. When a man finds himself led, though by a train of honest sentiments, to a wish for that to which he has no right, he should start back as from a pitfal covered with flowers. He that fancies he should benefit the publick more in a great station than the man that fills it, will in time imagine it an act of virtue to supplant him; and, as opposition readily kin­dles into hatred, his eagerness to do that good, to which he is not called, will betray him to crimes, which in his original scheme were never purposed.

[Page 70] HE therefore that would govern his actions by the laws of virtue, must regulate his thoughts by those of reason; he must keep guilt from the recesses of his heart, and remem­ber that the pleasures of fancy, and the emo­tions of desire are more dangerous as they are more hidden, since they escape the awe of ob­servation, and operate equally in every situati­on, without the concurrence of external op­portunities.

NUMB. 9. TUESDAY, April 17, 1750.

‘Quod sis esse velis, nihilque malis. ’MART.

IT is justly remarked by Horace, that, how­soever every man may complain occasio­nally of the hardships of his condition, he is seldom willing to change it for any other on the same level: for whether it be that he, who follows an employment, made choice of it at first on account of its suitableness to his inclination; or that when accident, or the de­termination of others, have placed him in a particular station, he, by endeavouring to re­concile himself to it, gets the custom of view­ing [Page 71] it only on the fairest side; or whether eve­ry man thinks that class to which he belongs the most illustrious, merely because he has honoured it with his name; it is certain, that, whatever be the reason, most men have a very strong and active prejudice in favour of their own vocation, always working upon their minds, and influencing their behaviour.

THIS partiality is sufficiently visible in eve­ry rank of the human species; but it exerts itself more frequently and with greater force among those who have never learned to con­ceal their sentiments for reasons of policy, or to model their expressions by the laws of po­liteness; and therefore the chief contests of wit among artificers and handicraftsmen arise from a mutual endeavour to exalt one trade by de­preciating another.

FROM the same principle are derived many consolations to alleviate the inconveniences to which every calling is peculiarly exposed. A blacksmith was lately pleasing himself at his anvil, with observing that, though his trade was hot and sooty, laborious and unhealthy, yet he had the honour of living by his ham­mer, he got his bread like a man, and if his son [Page 72] should rise in the world, and keep his coach, no body could reproach him that his father was a taylor.

A MAN, truly zealous for his fraternity, is never so irresistibly flattered, as when some rival calling is mentioned with contempt. Upon this principle a linen-draper boasted that he had got a new customer, whom he could safely trust, for he could have no doubt of his honesty, since it was known, from unquesti­onable authority, that he was now filing a bill in chancery to delay payment for the cloaths which he had worn the last seven years; and he himself had heard him declare, in a publick coffee-house, that he looked upon the whole generation of woollen-drapers to be such despi­cable wretches, that no gentleman ought to pay them till the demand was doubled by law charges.

IT has been observed that physicians and lawyers are no friends to religion; and many conjectures have been formed to discover the reason of such a combination between men who agree in nothing else, and who seem less to be affected, in their own provinces, by re­ligious opinions, than any other part of the [Page 73] community. The truth is, very few of them have thought about religion; but they have all seen a parson, seen him in a habit different from their own, and therefore declared war against him. A young student from the inns of court, who has often attacked the curate of his father's parish with such arguments as his acquaintances could furnish, and returned to town without success, is now gone down with a resolution to destroy him; for he has learned at last how to manage a prig, and if he pretends to hold him again to syllogism, he has a catch in reserve, which neither logic nor metaphysics can resist.

I laugh to think how your unshaken Cato
Will look aghast, when unforeseen destruction
Pours in upon him thus.

THE malignity of soldiers and sailors against each other has been often experienced at the cost of their country; and, perhaps, no orders of men have an enmity of more acrimony, or longer continuance. When, upon our late successes at sea, some new regulations were concerted for establishing the rank of the naval com­manders, a captain of foot very acutely re­marked, that nothing was more absurd than to give any honorary rewards to seamen, "for [Page 74] honour, says he, ought only to be won by bravery, and all the world knows that there is no danger, and therefore no evidence of courage in a fight at sea."

BUT as this general desire of aggrandizing themselves by raising their profession, betrays men to a thousand ridiculous and mischievous acts of supplantation and detraction, so, as almost all passions have their good as well as bad effects, it likewise excites ingenuity, and sometimes raises an honest and useful emulation of diligence. It may be observed in general that no trade had ever reached the excellence to which it is now improved, had its professors looked upon it with the eyes of indifferent spectators; the advances, from the first rude essays, must have been made by men who valued themselves for performances, for which scarce any other would be persuaded to esteem them.

IT is pleasing to contemplate a manufacture rising gradually from its first mean state by the successive labours of innumerable minds; to consider the first hollow trunk of an oak, in which, perhaps, the shepherd could scarce venture to cross a brook swelled with a [Page 75] shower, enlarged at last into a ship of war, attacking fortresses, terrifying nations, setting storms and billows at defiance, and visiting the remotest parts of the globe. And it might contribute to dispose us to a kinder regard for the labours of one another, if we were to consider from what unpromising beginnings the most useful productions of art have pro­bably arisen. Who, when he saw the first sand or ashes, by a casual intenseness of heat melted into a metalline form, rugged with ex­crescences, and clouded with impurities, would have imagined, that in this shapeless lump lay concealed so many conveniencies of life, as would in time constitute a great part of the happiness of the world? Yet by some such fortuitous liquefaction was mankind taught to procure a body at once in a high degree solid and transparent, which might admit the light of the sun, and exclude the violence of the wind; which might extend the sight of the philosopher to new ranges of existence, and charm him at one time with the unbounded extent of the material creation, and at another with the endless subordination of animal life; and, what is yet of more importance, might supply the decays of nature, and succour old age with subsidiary sight. Thus was the first [Page 76] artificer in glass employed, though without his own knowledge or expectation. He was facilitating and prolonging the enjoyment of light, enlarging the avenues of science, and conferring the highest and most lasting plea­sures; he was enabling the student to con­template nature, and the beauty to behold herself.

This passion for the honour of a profession, like that for the grandeur of our own country, is to be regulated not extinguished. Every man, from the highest to the lowest station, ought to warm his heart and animate his en­deavours with the hopes of being useful to the world, by advancing the art which it is his lot to exercise; and for that end he must necessarily consider the whole extent of its application, and the whole weight of its importance. But let him not too readily imagine that another is ill employed, because, for want of fuller knowledge of his business, he is not able to comprehend its dignity. Every man ought to endeavour at eminence, not by pulling others down, but by raising himself, and en­joy the pleasure of his own superiority, whether imaginary or real, without interrupting others in the same felicity. The philosopher may [Page 77] very justly be delighted with the extent of his views, and the artificer with the readiness of his hands; but let the one remember, that, without mechanical performances, refined speculation is an empty dream, and the other, that, without theoretical reasoning, dexterity is little more than a brute instinct.

NUMB. 10. SATURDAY, April 21, 1750.

‘Posthabui tamen illorum mea seria ludo. ’VIRG.

THE number of correspondents which en­creases every day upon me, shows that my paper is at least distinguished from the common productions of the press. It is no less a proof of eminence to have many ene­mies than many friends, and I look upon every letter, whether it contains encomiums, or re­proaches, as an equal attestation of rising credit. The only pain, which I can feel from my cor­respondence, is the fear of disgusting those, whose letters I shall seem to neglect; and, therefore, I take this opportunity of reminding them, that in disapproving their attempts whenever it may happen, I only return the [Page 78] treatment, which I often receive. Besides, many particular motives influence a writer, known only to himself, or his private friends; and it may be justly concluded, that, not all letters which are postponed are rejected, nor all that are rejected, critically condemned.

HAVING thus eased my heart of the only apprehension that sat heavy on it, I can please myself with the candour of Benevolus, who encourages me to proceed, without sinking under the anger of Flirtilla, who quarrels with me for being old and ugly, and for wanting both activity of body, and sprightliness of mind; feeds her monkey with my lucubrati­ons, and refuses any mitigation, till I have appeared in vindication of masquerades. That she may not however imagine me without support, and left to rest wholly upon my own fortitude, I shall now publish some letters, which I have received from men as well dressed, and as handsome, as her favorite; and others from ladies, whom I sincerely believe as young, as rich, as gay, as pretty, as fashionable, and as often toasted and treated as herself.

A SET of candid readers send their re­spects to the Rambler, and acknow­ledge [Page 79] his merit in so well beginning a work that may be of publick benefit. But, supe­rior as his genius is to the impertinences of a trifling age, they cannot help a wish, that he would condescend to the weakness of minds softened by perpetual amusements, and now and then throw in, like his prede­cessor, some papers of a gay and humorous turn. Too fair a field now lies open, with too plentiful a harvest of follies! let the chearful Thalia put in her sickle, and, singing at her work, deck her hair with red and blue.

A LADY sends her compliments to the Rambler, and desires to know, by what other name she may direct to him; what are his set of friends, his amusements; what his way of thinking, with regard to the living world, and its ways; in short, whether he is a person now alive, and in town? If he be, she will do herself the honour to write to him pretty often, and hopes, from time to time, to be the better for his advice and animadversions; for his animadversions on her neighbours at least. But, if he is a mere essayist, and troubles not himself with the manners of the age, she [Page 80] is sorry to tell him, that even the genius and correctness of an Addison will not se­cure him from neglect.

NO man is so much abstracted from common life, as not to feel a particular pleasure from the regard of the female world; the candid writers of the first billet will not be offended, that my haste to satisfy a lady has hurried their address too soon out of my mind, and that I refer them for a reply to some future paper, in order to tell this curious inquirer after my other name, the answer of a philosopher to a man, who, meeting him in the street, desired to see what he carried under his cloak; I carry it there, says he, that you may not see it. But, though she is never to know my name, she may often see my face; for I am of her opinion, that a diurnal writer ought to view the world, and that he who neglects his contempo­raries, may be, with justice, neglected by them.

LADY Racket sends compliments to the Rambler, and lets him know, she shall have cards at her house, every Sunday, the remainder of the season, where he will be sure of meeting all the good company in town. By this means she hopes to see his papers [Page 81] interspersed with living characters. She longs to see the torch of truth produced at an assembly, and to admire the charm­ing lustre it will throw on the jewels, com­plexions, and behaviour of every dear crea­ture there.

IT is a rule with me to receive every offer with the same civility as it is made; and, therefore, though lady Racket may have had some reason to guess, that I seldom frequent card-tables on Sundays, I shall not insist upon an exception, which may to her appear of so little force. My business has been to view, as opportunity was offered, every place in which mankind was to be seen; but at card-tables, however brilliant, I have always thought my visit lost, for I could know nothing of the com­pany, but their cloaths and their faces. I saw their looks clouded at the beginning of every game with an uniform solicitude, now and then in its progress varied with a short triumph, at sometimes wrinkled with cunning, at others deadened with despondency, or by accident flushed with rage at the unskilful or unlucky play of a partner. From such as­semblies, in whatever humour I happened to enter them, I was quickly forced to retire; [Page 82] they were too trifling for me, when I was grave and too dull, when I was chearful.

YET I cannot but value myself upon this token of regard from a lady, who is not afraid to stand before the torch of truth. Let her not however consult her curiosity, more than her prudence; but reflect a moment on the fate of Semele, who might have lived the favorite of Jupiter, if she could have been content with­out his thunder. It is dangerous for mortal beauty, or terrestrial virtue, to be examined by too strong a light. The torch of truth shows much that we cannot, and all that we would not see. In a face dimpled with smiles, it has often discovered malevolence and envy, and detected, under jewels and brocade, the frightful forms of poverty and distress. A fine hand of cards have changed before it into a thousand spectres of sickness, misery, and vexation; and immense sums of money, while the winner counted them with transport, have at the first glimpse of this unwelcome lustre vanished from before him. If her ladyship therefore designs to continue her assembly, I would advise her to shun such dangerous ex­periments, to satisfy herself with common appearances, and to light up her apartments [Page 83] rather with myrtle candles than the torch of truth.

A MODEST young man sends his ser­vice to the author of the Rambler, and will be very willing to assist him in his work, but is sadly afraid of being dis­couraged by having his first essay rejected, a disgrace he has wofully experienced in every offer he had made of it to every new writer of every new paper; but he comforts himself by thinking, without vanity, that this has been from a peculiar favour of the muses, who saved his performance from be­ing buried in trash, and reserved it to appear with lustre in the Rambler.

I AM equally a friend to modesty and enter­prize; and, therefore shall think it an honour to correspond with a young man who possesses both in so eminent a degree. Youth is, indeed, the time in which these qualities ought chiefly to be found; modesty suits well with inexpe­rience, and enterprize with health and vigour, and an extensive prospect of life. One of my predecessors has justly observed, that, though modesty has an amiable and winning appear­ance, it ought not to hinder the exertion of [Page 84] the active powers, but that a man should show under his blushes a latent resolution. This point of perfection, nice as it is, my correspon­dent seems to have attained. That he is mo­dest, his own declaration may evince; and, I think, the latent resolution may be discovered in his letter by an acute observer. I will ad­vise him, since he so well deserves my precepts, not to be discouraged, though the Rambler should prove equally envious, or tasteless, with the rest of this fraternity. If his paper is refused, the press of England is open, let him try the judgment of the publick If, as it has some times happened, by a general com­bination against superior merit, he cannot persuade the world to buy his works, he may present them to his friends; and if his friends are seized with the epidemical infatuation, and cannot find his genius, or will not confess it, let him then refer his cause to posterity, and reserve his other labours for a wiser age.

THUS have I dispatched some of my cor­respondents, in the usual manner, with fair words, and general civility. But to Flirtilla, the gay Flirtilla, what shall I reply? Unable as I am to fly, at her command, over land and seas, or to supply her, from week to week, [Page 85] with the fashions of Paris, or the intrigues of Madrid, I am yet not willing to incur her farther displeasure, and would save my papers from her monkey on any reasonable terms. By what propitiation, therefore, may I atone for my former gravity, and open, without trembling, the future letters of this sprightly persecutor? To write in defence of masque­des is no easy task; yet something difficult and daring may well be required, as the price of so important an approbation. I therefore consulted, in this great emergency, a man of high reputation in gay life, who having added, to his other accomplishments, no mean pro­ficiency in the minute philosophy, after the fifth perusal of her letter, broke out with rap­ture into these words: 'And can you, Mr Rambler, stand out against this charm­ing creature? Let her know, at least, that from this moment Nigrinus devotes his life and his labours to her service. Is there any stubborn prejudice of education, that stands between thee and the most amiable of mankind? Behold, Flirtilla, at thy feet, a man grown grey in the study of those noble arts, by which right and wrong may be confounded; by which reason may be blinded, when we have a mind to escape [Page 86] from her inspection, and caprice and appetite instated in uncontroulled command, and boundless dominion! Such a casuist may surely engage, with certainty of success, in vindication of an entertainment, which in an instant gives confidence to the timorous, and kindles ardour in the cold; and enter­tainment where the vigilance of jealousy has so often been eluded, and the virgin is set free from the necessity of languishing in silence; where all the outworks of chastity are at once demolished; where the heart is laid open without a blush; where bashful­ness may survive virtue, and no wish is crush'd under the frown of modesty. Far weaker influence than Flirtilla's might gain over an advocate for such amusements. It was declared by Pompey, that, if the com­mon-wealth was violated, he could stamp with his foot, and raise an army out of the ground; if the rights of pleasure are again invaded, let but Flirtilla crack her fan, no pens, nor swords, shall be wanting at the summons; the wit and the colonel shall march out at her command, and neither law nor reason shall stand before us.'

NUMB. 11. TUESDAY, April 24, 1750.

Non Dindymene, non adytis quatit
Mentem sacerdotum incola Pythius,
Non Liber aeque, non acuta
Sic geminant Corybantes aera,
Tristes ut irae.—

THE maxim which Periander of Corinth, one of the seven sages of Greece, left as a memorial of his knowledge and benevolence was [...], Be master of thy anger. He considered anger as the great disturber of human life, the chief enemy both of publick happiness and private tranquillity, and therefore thought that he could not lay on posterity a stronger obligation to reverence his memory, than by leaving them a salutary caution against this outrageous passion.

TO what latitude Periander might extend the word, the brevity of his precept will scarce allow us to conjecture. From anger, in its full import, protracted into malevolence, and exerted in revenge, arise, indeed, many of the [Page 88] evils to which the life of man is exposed. By anger operating upon power are produced the subversion of cities, the desolation of coun­tries, the massacre of nations, and all those dreadful and astonishing calamities which fill the histories of the world, and which could not be read at any distant point of time, when the passions stand neutral, and every motive and principle is lest to its natural force, with­out some doubt of the veracity of the relation, did we not see the same causes still tending to the same effects, and only acting with less vigour for want of the same concurrent op­portunities.

BUT this gigantick and enormous species of anger falls not properly under the animadver­sion of a writer, whose chief end is the re­gulation of common life, and whose precepts are to recommend themselves by their general use. Nor is this essay intended to expose the tragical or fatal effects even of private malig­nity. The anger which I propose now for my subject is such as makes those who indulge it more troublesome than formidable, and ranks them rather with hornets and wasps, than with basilisks and lions. I have, there­fore; prefixed a motto, which characterises [Page 89] this passion, not so much by the mischief that it causes, as by the noise that it utters.

THERE is in the world a certain class of mortals, known, and contentedly known, by the appellation of passionate men, who imagine themselves entitled by that distinction to be provoked on every slight occasion, and to vent their rage in vehement and fierce vocifera­tions, in furious menaces and licentious re­proaches. Their rage, indeed, for the most part, fumes away in outcries of injury, and protestations of vengeance, and seldom pro­ceeds to actual violence, unless a drawer or link-boy falls in their way; but they interrupt the quiet of those that happen to be within the reach of their clamours, disturb the course of conversation, and interrupt the enjoyment of society.

MEN of this kind are sometimes not with­out understanding or virtue sufficient to re­commend them to love and regard, and are, therefore, not always treated with the severity which their neglect of the ease of all about them might justly provoke; they have ob­tained a kind of prescription for their folly, and being considered by their companions as [Page 90] under a predominant influence that leaves them no masters of their conduct or their language, as acting without thought, and rush­ing into mischief with a mist before their eyes, they are pitied rather than censured, and their sallies are passed over as the involun­tary blows of a man agitated by the spasms of a convulsion.

IT is surely not to be observed without in­dignation, that men are to be found of minds mean enough to be satisfied with this treatment; wretches who are proud to obtain the privilege of madmen, and can, without shame, and without regret, consider themselves as receiv­ing hourly pardons from their companions, and giving them continual opportunities of exercising their patience, and boasting their clemency.

PRIDE is undoubtedly the original of anger; but pride, like every other passion, if it once breaks loose from reason, counteracts its own purposes. A passionate man, upon the review of his day, will have very few gratifications to offer to his pride, when he has considered how his outrages were caused, why they were [Page 91] born, and in what they are likely to end at last.

THOSE sudden bursts of rage generally break out upon small occasions; for life, un­happy as it is, cannot supply great evils as frequently as the man of fire thinks fit to be enraged; and therefore the first reflection upon his violence must show him that he is mean enough to be driven from his post by every petty incident, that he is the mere slave of trivial chances, and that his reason and his virtue are in the power of the wind.

ONE motive there is of these loud extrava­gancies, which a man is generally careful to conceal from others, and, perhaps, does not always discover to himself. He that finds his knowledge narrow, and his arguments weak, and, by consequence, his suffrage not much regarded in questions accurately examined, and seriously debated, is sometimes in hope of gaining that attention by his clamours, which he cannot otherwise obtain, and is pleased with remembring that at least he made him­self heard, that he had the power to interrupt those whom he could not confute, and suspend the decision which he could not guide.

[Page 92] OF this kind is the fury to which many men give way among their servants and do­mesticks; they feel their own ignorance, they see their own insignificance, and, therefore, they endeavour, by their fury, to fright away contempt from before them, when they know it must follow them behind, and think them­selves eminently masters, when they see one folly tamely complied with, only for fear lest refusal or delay should provoke them to a greater.

THESE temptations cannot but be owned to have some force, and it is so little pleasing to any man to see himself wholly overlooked in the mass of things, that he may be allowed to try a few expedients for procuring some kind of supplemental dignity, and to endeavour to add weight by the violence of his temper, to the lightness of his other powers. But this has now been long practised, and found, upon the most exact estimate, not to pro­duce advantages equal to its inconveniences; for it has not appeared that a man has by up­roar, and tumult, and bluster, altered any one's opinion of his understanding, or been able to gain any influence except over those [Page 93] whom fortune or nature have made his depen­dents. He may by a steady perseverance in his ferocity fright his children, and harrass his servants, but all the rest of the world will look on and laugh; and he will have the comfort at last of thinking, that he lives only to raise contempt and hatred, emotions to which wisdom and virtue would be always unwilling to give occasion. He will find that he has contrived only to make those fear him, whom every reasonable being is endeavouring to endear by kindness, and must content himself with the pleasure of a triumph obtained by trampling on those who could not resist him. He must perceive that the apprehension which his presence causes is not the awe of his virtue, but the dread of his brutality, and that he has given up the felicity of being loved, without gaining the honour of being reverenced.

BUT this is not the only ill consequence of the frequent indulgence of this blustering passion, which a man, by often calling to his assistance, will teach, in a short time, to intrude before the summons, to rush upon him with resistless violence, and without any previous notice of its approach. He will find himself liable to be inflamed at the first touch of provocation, and [Page 94] unable to retain his resentment, till he has a full conviction of the offence, to proportion his anger to the cause, or to regulate it by pru­dence, or by duty. When a man has once suffered his mind to be thus vitiated, he be­comes one of the most hateful and unhappy beings. He can give no security to himself that he shall not, at the next interview, alienate by some sudden transport his dearest friend; or break out, upon some slight contradiction, into such terms of rudeness as can never be perfectly forgotten. Whoever converses with him lives with the suspicion and solicitude of a man that plays with a tame tiger, always under a necessity of watching the moment, in which the capricious savage shall begin to growl.

IT is told by Prior, in a panegyrick on lord Dorset, that his servants used to put themselves in his way when he was angry, because he was sure to recompense them for any indigni­ties which he made them suffer. This is the round of a passionate man's life; he contracts debts when he is furious, which his virtue, if he has virtue, obliges him to discharge at the return of reason. He spends his time in outrage and acknowledgement, injury and [Page 95] reparation. Or, if there be any who hardens himself in oppression, and justifies the wrong, because he has done it, his insensibility can make small part of his praise, or his happiness; he only adds deliberate to hasty folly, aggra­vates petulance by contumacy, and destroys the only plea that he can offer for the tender­ness and patience of mankind.

YET, even this degree of depravity we may be content to pity, because it seldom wants a punishment equal to its guilt. No­thing is more despicable or more miserable than the old age of a passionate man. When the vigour of youth fails him, and his amusements pall with frequent repetition, his occasional rage sinks by decay of strength into peevish­ness, that peevishness, for want of novelty and variety, becomes habitual; the world falls off from around him, and he is left, as Homer expresses it, [...], to devour his own heart in solitude and contempt.

NUMB. 12. SATURDAY, April 28, 1750.

—Miserum parvâ stipe focilat, ut pudibundos
Exercere sales inter convivia possit.—
—Tu mitis, & acri
Asperitate carens, positoque per omnia fastu,
Inter ut aequales unus numeraris amicos,
Obsequiumque doces, & amorem quaeris amando.
Lucanus ad Pisonem.



AS you seem to have devoted your labours to virtue, I cannot forbear to inform you of one species of cruelty, with which the life of a man of letters perhaps does not often make him acquainted, and which, as it seems to produce no other advantage to those that practise it than a short gratification of thoughtless vanity, may become less com­mon when it has been once exposed in its various forms, and its full magnitude.

I AM the daughter of a country gentleman, whose family is numerous, and whose estate, not at first sufficient to supply us with affluence, [Page 97] has been lately so much impaired by an unsuc­cessful lawsuit, that all the younger children are obliged to try such means as their educa­tion affords them, for procuring the necessaries of life. Distress and curiosity concurred to bring me to London, where I was received by a relation with the coldness which misfortune generally finds. A week, a long week, I lived with my cousin, before the most vigilant enquiry could procure us the least hopes of a place, in which time I was much better qua­lified to bear all the vexations of servitude. The first two days she was content to pity me, and only wish'd I had not been quite so well bred, but people must comply with their circumstances. This lenity, however, was soon at an end; and, for the remaining part of the week, I heard every hour of the pride of my family, the obstinacy of my father, and of people better born than myself that were com­mon servants.

AT last, on Saturday noon, she told me, with very visible satisfaction, that Mrs Bom­basine, the great silk-mercer's lady, wanted a maid, and a fine place it would be, for there would be nothing to do but to clean my mistress's room, get up her linen, dress the young ladies, wait at tea in the morning, [Page 8] take care of a little miss just come from nurse, and then sit down to my needle. But madam was a woman of great spirit, and would not be contradicted, and therefore I should take care, for good places were not easily to be got.

WITH these cautions, I waited on madam Bombasine, of whom the first sight gave me no ravishing ideas. She was two yards round the waist, her voice was at once loud and squeaking, and her face brought to my mind the picture of the full-moon. Are you the young woman, says she, that are come to offer yourself? It is strange when people of substance want a servant, how soon it is the town-talk. But they know they shall have a belly-full that live with me. Not like people at the other end of the town, we dine at one o'clock. But I never take any body without a character; what friends do you come of? I then told her that my father was a gentleman, and that we had been unfortunate.—A great misfortune, indeed, to come to me and have three meals a-day!—So your father was a gentleman, and you are a gentlewoman I sup­pose—such gentlewomen!—Madam, I did not mean to claim any exemptions, I only answered [Page 99] your enquiry.—Such gentlewomen! people should set their children to good trades, and keep them off the parish. Pray go to the o­ther end of the town, there are gentlewomen, if they would pay their debts: I am sure we have lost enough by gentlewomen. Upon this, her broad face grew broader with triumph, and I was afraid she would have taken me for the pleasure of continuing her insult; but happily the next word was, Pray, Mrs gentle­woman, troop down stairs. You may believe I obeyed her.

I RETURNED and met with a better recep­tion from my cousin than I expected; for while I was out, she had heard that Mrs Stan­dish, whose husband had lately been raised from a clerk in an office, to be commissioner of the excise, had taken a fine house, and wanted a maid.

TO Mrs Standish I went, and, after having waited six hours, was at last admitted to the top of the stairs, when she came out of her room, with two of her company. There was a smell of punch. So young woman, you want a place, whence do you come?—From the country, madam.—Yes, they all come out of [Page 100] the country. And what brought you to town, a bastard? Where do you lodge? At the Seven-Dials? What, you never heard of the foundling house? Upon this, they all laughed so obstreperously, that I took the opportunity of sneaking off in the tumult.

I THEN heard of a place at an elderly lady's. She was at cards; but in two hours, I was told, she would speak to me. She asked me if I could keep an account, and ordered me to write. I wrote two lines out of some book that lay by her. She wonder'd what people meant, to breed up poor girls to write at that rate. I suppose, Mrs Flirt, if I was to see your work, it would be fine stuff!—You may walk. I will not have love-letters written from my house to every young fellow in the street.

TWO days after, I went on the same persuit to lady Lofty, dressed, as I was directed, in what little ornaments I had, because she had lately got a place at court. Upon the first sight of me, she turns to the woman that showed me in, Is this the lady that wants a place? Pray what place wou'd you have, miss? a maid of honour's place? Servants now a­days!—Madam, I heard you wanted-Wanted [Page 101] what? Somebody finer than myself! A pretty servant indeed—I should be afraid to speak to her—I suppose, Mrs Minx, these fine hands cannot bear wetting—A servant indeed! Pray move off—I am resolved to be the head per­son in this house—You are ready dress'd, the taverns will be open.

I WENT to enquire for the next place in a clean linen gown, and heard the servant tell his lady, there was a young woman, but he saw she would not do. I was brought up however. Are you the trollop that has the impudence to come for my place? What, you have hired that nasty gown, and are come to steal a better.—Madam, I have another, but being obliged to walk—Then these are your manners, with your blushes and your courtesies, to come to me in your worst gown. Madam, give me leave to wait upon you in my other. Wait on me, you saucy slut! Then you are sure of coming—I could not let such a drab come near me—Here, you girl that came up with her, have you touch'd her? If you have, wash your hands before you dress me.—Such trollops! Get you down. What, whimpering? Pray walk.

[Page 102] I WENT away with tears; for my cousin had lost all patience. However she told me, that she had a respect for my relations, was willing to keep me out of the street, and would let me have another week.

THE first day of this week I saw two places. At one I was asked where I had lived? And upon my answer, was told by the lady, that people should qualify themselves in ordinary places, for she should never have done if she was to follow girls about. At the other house, I was a smirking hussy, and that sweet face I might make money of—For her part, it was a rule with her, never to take any creature that thought herself handsome.

THE three next days were spent in lady Bluff's entry, where I waited six hours every day for the pleasure of seeing the servants peep at me, and go away laughing—Madam will stretch her small shanks in the entry; she will know the house again—At sun-set the two first days I was told, that my lady would see me to-morrow; and on the third, that her wo­man staid.

[Page 103] MY week was now near its end, and I had no hopes of a place. My relation, who al­ways laid upon me the blame of every mis­carriage, told me that I must learn to humble myself, and that all great ladies had particular ways; that if I went on in that manner, she could not tell who would keep me; she had known many that had refused places, sell their cloaths, and beg in the streets.

IT was to no purpose that the refusal was declared by me to be never on my side; I was reasoning against interest, and against stupidity; and therefore I comforted myself with the hope of succeeding better in my next attempt, and went to Mrs Courtly, a very fine lady, who had routs at her house, and saw the best company in town.

I HAD not waited two hours before I was called up, and found Mr Courtly and his lady at piquet, in the height of good humour. This I looked on as a favourable sign, and stood at the lower end of the room in expectation of the common questions. At last Mr Courtly call'd out, after a whisper, Stand facing the light, that one may see you. I chang'd my [Page 104] place, and blush'd. They frequently turn'd their eyes upon me, and seem'd to discover many subjects of merriment; for at every look they whisper'd, and laugh'd with the most violent agitations of delight. At last Mr Courtly cried out, Is that colour your own, child? Yes, says the lady, if she has not robb'd the kitchen hearth. This was so happy a conceit, that it renew'd the storm of laugh­ter, and they threw down their cards in hopes of better sport. The lady then called me to her, and began with an affected gravity to enquire what I could do? But first turn about, and let us see your fine shape; Well, what are you fit for, Mrs Mum? You would find your tongue, I suppose, in the kitchen. No, no, says Mr Courtly, the girl's a good girl yet, but I am afraid a brisk young fellow, with fine tags on his shoulder—Come, child, hold up your head; what? you have stole nothing—Not yet, says the lady, but she hopes to steal your heart quickly.—Here was a laugh of happiness and triumph, prolonged by the confusion which I could no longer repress. At last the lady recollected herself: Stole? no—but if I had her, I should watch her; for that downcast eye—Why cannot you look people in the face? [Page 105] Steal! says her husband, she would steal no­thing but, perhaps, a few ribbands before they were left off by her lady. Sir, answer'd I, why should you, by supposing me a thief, insult one from whom you have received no injury? Insult, says the lady; are you come here to be a servant, you saucy baggage, and talk of insulting? What will this world come to, if a gentleman may not jest with a servant? Well, such servants! pray be gone, and see when you will have the honour to be so insulted again. Servants insulted—a fine time.—In­sulted! Get down stairs, you slut, or the foot­man shall insult you.

THE last day of the last week was now coming, and my kind cousin talked of sending me down in the waggon to preserve me from bad courses. But in the morning she came and told me that she had one trial more for me, Euphemia wanted a maid, and perhaps I might do for her; for, like me, she must fall her crest, being forced to lay down her chariot upon the loss of half her fortune by bad securities, and with her way of giving her money to every body that pretended to want it, she could have little beforehand; therefore I [Page 106] might serve her; for, with all her fine sense, she must not pretend to be nice.

I WENT immediately, and met at the door a young gentlewoman, who told me she had herself been hired that morning, but that she was order'd to bring any that offered up stairs. I was accordingly introduced to Euphemia, who, when I came in, laid down her book, and told me, that she sent for me not to gratify an idle curiosity, but lest my dis­appointment might be made still more gra­ting by incivility; that she was in pain to deny any thing, much more what was no favour; that she saw nothing in my appear­ance which did not make her wish for my company; but that another, whose claims might perhaps be equal, had come before me. The thought of being so near to such a place, and missing it, brought tears into my eyes, and my sobs hinder'd me from re­turning my acknowledgments. She rose up confused, and supposing by my concern that I was distressed, placed me by her, and made me tell her my story: which when she had heard, she put two guineas in my hand, ordering me to lodge near her, and make use of her table till she could provide [Page 107] for me. I am now under her protection, and know not how to shew my gratitude better than by giving this account to the RAMBLER.


NUMB. 13. TUESDAY, May 1, 1750.

‘Commissumqae teges & vino tortus & irâ. ’HOR.

IT is related by Quintus Curtius, that the Persians always conceived a lasting and invincible contempt of a man, who had viola­ted the laws of secrecy; for they thought, that, however he might be deficient in the qualities requisite to actual excellence, the ne­gative virtues at least were always in his power, and though he perhaps could not speak well if he was to try, it was still easy for him not to speak.

IN this opinion of the easiness of secrecy, they seem to have consider'd it as opposed, not to treachery, but loquacity, and to have conceived the man, whom they thus censured, not frighted by menaces to reveal, or bribed [Page 108] by promises to betray, but incited by the mere pleasure of talking, or some other motive equal­ly trivial, to lay open his heart without reflecti­on, and to let whatever he knew slip from him, only for want of power to retain it. Whe­ther, by their settled and avowed scorn of thoughtless talkers, the Persians were able to diffuse to any great extent the virtue of tacitur­nity, we are hindered by the distance of those times from being able to discover, there being very few memoirs remaining of the court of Persepolis, nor any distinct accounts handed down to us of their office clerks, their ladies of the bed-chamber, their attorneys, their cham­ber-maids, or their footmen.

IN these latter ages, though the old animosi­ty against a prattler is still retained, it appears wholly to have lost its effects upon the con­duct of mankind; for secrets are so seldom kept, that it may with some reason be doubted, whether the antients were not mistaken in their first postulate, whether the quality of re­tention be so generally bestowed, and whether a secret has not some subtle volatility, by which it escapes almost imperceptibly at the smallest vent; or some power of fermentation, by [Page 109] which it expands itself so as to burst the heart that will not give it way.

THOSE that study either the body or the mind of man, very often find the most specious and pleasing theory falling under the weight of contrary experience; and instead of grati­fying their vanity by inferring effects from cau­ses, they are always reduced at last to conjecture causes from effects. That it is easy to be secret the speculatist can demonstrate in his retreat, and therefore thinks himself justified in placing confidence; the man of the world knows, that, whether difficult or not, it is uncommon, and therefore finds himself rather inclined to search after the reason of this universal failure in one of the most important duties of society.

THE vanity of being known to be trusted with a secret is generally one of the chief mo­tives to disclose it; for however absurd it may be thought to boast an honour, by an act which shews that it was conferred without me­rit, yet most men seem rather inclined to con­fess the want of virtue than of importance, and more willingly shew their influence and their power, though at the expence of their probity, than glide through life with no other pleasure [Page 110] than the private consciousness of fidelity; which, while it is preserved, must be without praise, except from the single person who tries and knows it.

THERE are many ways of telling a secret, by which a man exempts himself from the reproaches of his conscience, and gratifies his pride without suffering himself to believe that he impairs his virtue. He tells the private af­fairs of his patron, or his friend, only to those from whom he would not conceal his own; he tells them to those, who have no temptation to betray their trust, or with a denunciation of a certain forfeiture of his friendship, if he disco­vers that they become public.

SECRETS are very frequently told in the first ardour of kindness, or of love, for the sake of proving, by so important a sacrifice, the sincerity of professions, or the warmth of ten­derness; but with this motive, though it be sometimes strong in itself, vanity generally concurs, since every man naturally desires to be most esteemed by those whom he loves, or with whom he converses, with whom he pas­ses his hours of pleasure, and to whom he re­tires from business and from care.

[Page 111] WHEN the discovery of secrets is under consideration, there is always a distinction carefully to be made between our own and those of another, those of which we are fully masters as they affect only our own interest, and those which are reposited with us in trust, and involve the happiness or convenience of such as we have no right to expose to hazard by experiments upon their lives, without their consent. To tell our own secrets is generally folly, but that folly is without guilt; to com­municate those with which we are intrusted is always treachery, and treachery for the most part combined with folly.

THERE have, indeed, been some enthusiastic and irrational zealots for friendship, who have maintained, and perhaps believed, that one friend has a right to all that is in possession of another; and that therefore it is a violation of kindness to exempt any secret from this bound­less confidence: Accordingly a late female mi­nister of state has been shameless enough to inform the world, that she used, when she wanted to extract any thing from her sovereign, to remind her of Montaigne's reasoning, who has determined, that to tell a secret to a friend [Page 112] is no breach of fidelity, because the number of persons trusted is not multiplied, a man and his friend being virtually the same.

THAT such a fallacy could be imposed upon any human understanding, or that an author could have been imagined to advance a positi­on so remote from truth and reason, any other­wise than as a declaimer, to shew to what ex­tent he could stretch his imagination, and with what strength he could press his principle, would scarcely have been credible, had not this lady kindly shewn us how far weakness may be deluded, or indolence amused. But since it appears, that even this sophistry has been able, with the help of a strong desire to repose in quiet upon the understanding of an­other, to mislead honest intentions, and an understanding not contemptible, it may not be superfluous to remark, that those things which are common among friends are only such as either possesses in his own right, and can alienate or destroy without injury to any other person. Without this limitation, con­fidence must run on without end, the second person may tell the secret to the third upon the same principle as he received it from the [Page 113] first, and the third may hand it forward to a fourth, till at last it is told in the round of friendship to them from whom it was the first intention chiefly to conceal it.

THE confidence which Caius has of the faithfulness of Titius is nothing more than an opinion which himself cannot know to be true, and which Claudius, who first tells his secret to Caius may know, at least may suspect to be false; and therefore the trust is transfer­red by Caius, if he reveal what has been told him, to one from whom the person originally concerned would probably have withheld it; and, whatever may be the event, Caius has hazarded the happiness of his friend, without necessity and without permission, and has put that trust in the hand of fortune which was given only to virtue.

ALL the arguments upon which a man who is telling the private affairs of another may ground his confidence of security, he must upon reflection know to be uncertain, because he finds them without effect upon himself. When he is imagining that Titius will be cau­tious from a regard to his interest, his reputati­on, or his duty, he ought to reflect that he is [Page 114] himself at that instant acting in opposition to all these reasons, and revealing what interest, reputation, and duty direct him to conceal.

EVERY one feels that he should consider the man incapable of trust, who believed him­self at liberty to tell whatever he knew to the first whom he should conclude deserving of his confidence; therefore Caius, in admitting Titius to the affairs imparted only to himself, violates his faith, since he acts contrary to the intention of Claudius, to whom that faith was given. For promises of friendship are, like all others, useless and vain, unless they are made in some known sense, adjusted and acknowledged by both parties.

I AM not ignorant that many questions may be started relating to the duty of secrecy, where the affairs are of publick concern; where subsequent reasons may arise to alter the appearance and nature of the trust; that the manner in which the secret was told may change the degree of obligation; and that the principles upon which a man is chosen for a confident may not always equally constrain him. But these scruples, if not too intricate, are of too extensive consideration for my present purpose, [Page 115] nor are they such as generally occur in common life; and though casuistical knowledge be useful in proper hands, yet it ought by no means to be carelesly exposed, since most will use it rather to lull than awaken their own consciences; and the threads of reasoning, on which truth is suspended, are frequently drawn to such subtility, that common eyes cannot per­ceive, and common sensibility cannot feel them.

THE whole doctrine as well as practice of secrecy, is so perplexing and dangerous, that, next to him who is compelled to trust, I think him unhappy who is chosen to be trusted; for he is often involved in scruples without the liberty of calling in the help of any other understanding, he is frequently drawn into guilt, under the appearance of friendship and honesty; and sometimes subjected to suspicion by the treachery of others, who are engaged without his knowledge in the same schemes, for he that has one confident has generally more, and when he is at last betrayed, is in doubt on whom he shall fix the crime.

THE rules therefore that I shall propose concerning secrecy, and from which I think it not safe to deviate, without long and exact [Page 116] deliberation, are—Never to solicit the know­ledge of a secret. Not willingly, nor without many limitations, to accept such confidence when it is offered. When a secret is once ad­mitted, to consider the trust as of a very high nature, important as society, and sacred as truth, and therefore not to be violated for any incidental convenience, or slight appearance of contrary fitness.

NUMB. 14. SATURDAY, May 14, 1750.

—Nil fuit unquam
Sic dispar sibi—

AMONG the many inconsistencies which folly produces, or infirmity suffers in the human mind, there has often been obser­ved a manifest and striking contrariety between the life of an author and his writings; and Milton, in a letter to a learned stranger, by whom he had been visited, with great reason congratulates himself upon the consciousness of being found equal to his own character, and having preserved in a private and familiar interview that reputation which his works had procured him.

[Page 117] THOSE whom the appearance of virtue, or the evidence of genius, have tempted to a nearer knowledge of the writer in whose per­formances they may be found, have, indeed, had frequent reason to repent their curiosity; the bubble that sparkled before them has be­come common water at the touch, and the phantom of perfection has vanished when they wished to press it to their bosom. They have lost the pleasure of imagining how far humani­ty may be exalted, and, perhaps, feel them­selves less inclined to toil up the sleeps of vir­tue, when they observe those who seem best able to point the way loitering below, as either afraid of the labour, or doubtful of the reward.

IT has been long the custom of the oriental monarchs to hide themselves in their gardens and their palaces, to avoid the conversation of mankind, and to be known to their subjects only by their edicts. The same policy is no less necessary to him that writes, than to him that governs; for men would, not more pa­tiently submit to be taught, than commanded, by one, who should be known to have the same follies and weaknesses with themselves.

[Page 118] Perhaps, a sudden intruder into the closet of an author would feel equal surprise and indignati­on with the officer, who having long solicited admission into the presence of Sardanapalus, saw him at last not consulting upon laws, en­quiring into grievances, planning fortificati­ons, or modelling armies, but employed in feminine amusements, and directing the ladies in their work.

IT is not difficult to conceive, however, that for many reasons a man writes much bet­ter than he lives. For, without entering into refined speculations, it is many degrees easier to design than to perform. A man proposes his schemes of life in a state of abstraction and disengagement, exempt from the enticements of hope, the solicitations of affection, the importunities of appetite, or the depressions of fear, and is in the same state with him that teaches, upon land, the art of navigation, to whom the sea is always smooth, and the wind is always prosperous.

THE mathematicians are well acquainted with the difference between pure science, which has to do only with ideas, and the ap­plication of its laws to the use of life, in which [Page 119] they are constrained to submit to the imper­fection of matter and the influence of acci­dents: thus, in moral discussions it is to be remembred that many impediments obstruct our practice, which very easily give way to theory. The speculatist is only in danger of error, but the man involved in life has his own passions, and those of others, to encounter, and is embarrassed with a thousand inconveni­ences on every side, which confound him with variety of impulse, and either perplex or obstruct his way. He is often forced to act without deliberation, and obliged to choose before he can examine; he is often surprised by sudden alterations of the state of things, and changes his measures according to superficial appearances; he is often led by others, either because he is indolent, or because he is timo­rous; he is sometimes afraid to know what is right, and sometimes finds others diligent to deceive him.

WE are, therefore, not to wonder that most fail, amidst tumult, and snares, and danger, in the observance of those precepts, which they laid down in solitude, safety, and tranquillity, with a mind unbiassed, and with liberty unobstructed. It is the condition of [Page 120] our present state to see more than we can attain, the exactest vigilance and caution can never maintain a single day of pure and unmingled innocence, much less can the utmost efforts of incorporated mind reach the summits of specu­lative virtue.

IT is, however, necessary for the idea of perfection to be proposed, that we may have some object to which our endeavours are to be directed; and he that is most deficient in the duties of life, makes some atonement for his faults, by warning others against his own fail­ings, and endeavouring by the salubrity of his admonitions to hinder the contagion of his example.

NOTHING is more unreasonable, however common, than to charge with hypocrisy him that expresses zeal for those virtues, which he neglects to practise; since he may be sincerely convinced of the advantages of conquering his passions, without having yet obtained the victo­ry, as a man may be confident of the advanta­ges of a voyage, or a journey, without having courage, or industry, to undertake it, and may honestly recommend to others, those attempts which he neglects himself.

[Page 121] THE interest which the corrupt part of mankind have in hardening themselves against every motive to amendment, has disposed them to give to these contradictions, when they can be produced against the cause of virtue, that weight which they will not allow them in any other case. They see men act in opposition to their interest, without supposing, on other oc­casions, that they do not know it; they see them give way to the sudden violence of passi­on, and forsake the most important persuits for trivial pleasures, without imagining that they have changed their sentiments, or ap­prove their own conduct. In moral or religi­ous questions alone, they resolve to determine the sentiments by the actions, and charge every man with endeavouring to impose upon the world, whose writings are not confirmed by his life. They never consider that they them­selves neglect, or practise something every day, inconsistently with their own settled opinion, nor discover that the conduct of the advocates for virtue can little increase, or lessen, the obligations of their dictates; argument is to be invalidated only by argument, and is in itself of the same force, whether or not it convinces him by whom it is proposed.

[Page 122] YET since this prejudice, however unreason­able, is always likely to have some prevalence, it is the duty of every man to take care lest he should hinder the efficacy of his own instructi­ons. When he desires to gain the belief of others, he should shew that he believes himself; and when he teaches the fitness of virtue by his reasonings, he should, by his example, prove its possibility: Thus much at least may be required of him, that he shall not act worse than others because he writes better, nor ima­gine that, by the merit of his genius, he may claim some indulgence beyond mortals of the lower classes, and be excused for want of pru­dence, or neglect of virtue.

BACON in his History of the winds, after having offered something to the imagination as desirable, often proposes lower advantages in its place to the reason as attainable. The same method may be sometimes pursued in moral endeavours, which this philosopher has obser­ved in natural enquiries; and having first set positive and absolute excellence before us, we may be pardoned though we sink down to humbler virtue, trying, however, to keep our point always in view, and struggling [Page 123] not to lose ground, though we cannot gain it.

IT is recorded of Sir Matthew Hale, that he, for a long time, concealed the consecration of himself to the stricter duties of religion, lest, by some flagitious and shameful action, he should bring piety into disgrace. For the same reason, it may be prudent for a writer, who apprehends that he shall not enforce his own maxims by his domestic character, to conceal his name that he may not injure them.

THERE are, indeed, a far greater number whose curiosity to gain a more familiar know­ledge of successful writers, is not so much prompted by an opinion of their power to improve as to delight, and who expect from them not arguments against vice, or disserta­tions on temperance or justice, but flights of wit, strains of humour, and sallies of pleasan­try, or, at least, acute remarks, nice distincti­ons, justness of sentiment, and elegance of diction.

THIS expectation is, indeed, specious and probable, and yet, such is the fate of all hu­man hopes, that it is very often frustrated, and [Page 124] those who raise admiration by their books, dis­gust by their company. A man of letters for the most part spends, in the privacies of study, that season of life in which the manners are to be softened into ease, and polished into elegance, and, when he has gained knowledge enough to be respected, has neglected the minuter acts by which he might have pleased. When he enters life, if of a weak and timorous temper, he is diffident and bashful, from the know­ledge of his defects; or if he was born with spirit and resolution, he is ferocious and arro­gant from the consciousness of his merit: he is either dissipated by the awe of superior com­pany, and unable to assemble his ideas, recol­lect his reading, and arrange his arguments; or he is hot, and dogmatical, quick in oppo­sition, and tenacious in defence, disabled by his own violence, and confused by his haste to triumph.

THE graces of writing and conversation are of different kinds, and though he who excels in one might have been with opportunity and application equally successful in the other, yet as many please by extemporary talk, though utterly unacquainted with the more accurate method, and more laboured beauties, which [Page 125] composition requires; so it is very possible that men, wholly accustomed to works of study, may want that readiness of conception, and affluence of language, always necessary to colloquial entertainment. They may want address to watch the hints which conversation offers for the display of their particular attain­ments, or they may be so much unfurnished with matter on common subjects, that discourse not professedly literary glides over them as heterogeneous bodies, without admitting their conceptions to mix in the circulation.

A TRANSITION from an author's books to his conversation, is too often like an entrance into a large city, after a distant prospect. Re­motely, we see nothing but spires of temples, and turrets of palaces, and imagine it the re­sidence of splendor, grandeur, and magnifi­cence; but, when we have passed the gates, we find it perplexed with narrow passages, disgraced with despicable cottages, embarrassed with obstructions, and clouded with smoke.

NUMB. 15. TUESDAY, May 8, 1750.

Et quando uberior vitiorum copia? Quando
Major avaritiae patuit sinus? Alca quando
Hos animes?

THERE is no grievance, publick or private, of which, since I took upon me the office of a periodical monitor, I have received so many, or so earnest complaints, as of the predominance of play; of a fatal passion for cards and dice, which seems to have overturned, not only the ambition of excellence, but the desire of pleasure, to have extinguished the flames of the lover, as well as of the patriot; and threatens, in its further progress, to destroy all distinctions, both of rank and sex, to crush all emulation, but that of fraud, to corrupt all those classes of our people, whose ancestors have, by their vir­tue, their industry, or their parfimony, given them the power of living in extravagance, idle­ness, and vice, and to leave them without knowledge, but of the modish games, and with­out wishes, but for lucky hands.

[Page 127] I HAVE found, by long experience, that there are few enterprises so hopeless as contests with the fashion, in which the opponents are not only made confident by their numbers, and strong by their union, but are hardened by contempt of their antagonist, whom they always look upon as a wretch of low notions, contracted views, mean conversation, and narrow fortune, who envies the elevations which he cannot reach, who would gladly imbitter the happiness which his obscurity, his inelegance, or his indigence deny him to partake, and who has no other end in his ad­vice, than to revenge his own mortifications by hindering those, whom their birth and taste have set above them, from the enjoyment of their superiority, and bringing them down to a level with himself.

THOUGH I have never found myself much affected by this formidable censure, which I have incurred often enough to be acquainted with its full force, yet I shall, in some mea­sure, obviate it on this occasion, by offering very little in my own name, either of argu­ment, or intreaty, since those who suffer by [Page 128] this general infatuation may be supposed best able to relate its effects.


THERE seems to be so little knowledge left in the world, and so little of that reflection practised, by which knowledge is to be gained, that I am in doubt, whether I shall be understood, when I complain of want of opportunity for thinking; or whether a condemnation, which at present seems irre­versible, to perpetual ignorance will raise any compassion, either in you, or your readers: yet I will venture to lay my state before you, because, I believe, it is natural, to most minds, to take some pleasure in complaining of evils, of which they have no reason to be ashamed.

I AM the daughter of a man of great fortune, whose diffidence of mankind, and, perhaps, the pleasure of continual accumulation incline him to reside upon his own estate, and to educate his children in his own house, where I was bred, if not with the most brilliant examples of virtue before my eyes, at least remote enough from any incitements to vice; and, wanting neither leisure, nor books, nor [Page 129] the acquaintance of some persons of learning in the neighbourhood, I endeavour'd to acquire such knowledge as might most recommend me to esteem, and thought myself able to support a conversation upon most of the subjects, which my sex, and my condition, made it proper for me to understand.

I HAD, besides my knowledge, as my mamma and my maid told me, a very fine face, and elegant shape, and with all these advantages had been seventeen months the reigning toast for twelve miles round, and never came to the monthly assembly, but I heard the old ladies that sat by, wishing that it might end well, and their daughters criticising my air, my features, or my dress.

YOU know, Mr Rambler, that ambition is natural to youth, and curiosity to understand­ing, and therefore, will hear, without wonder, that I was desirous to extend my victories over those, who might give more honour to the conqueror; and that I found in a country life a continual repetition of the same pleasures, which was not sufficient to fill up the mind for the present, or raise any expectations of the [Page 130] future; and, I will confess to you, that I was impatient for a sight of the town, and filled my thoughts with the discoveries which I should make, the triumphs that I should ob­tain, and the praises that I should receive.

AT last the time came. My aunt, whose husband has a seat in parliament, and a place at court, buried her only child, and sent for me to supply the loss. The hope that I should so far insinuate myself into their favour, as to obtain a considerable augmentation of my for­tune, procured me every convenience for my departure, with great expedition; and I could not amidst all my transports forbear some in­dignation to see with what readiness the na­tural guardians of my virtue sold me to a state, which they thought more hazardous than it really was, as soon as a new accession of fortune glittered in their eyes.

THREE days I was upon the road, and on the fourth morning my heart danced at the sight of London. I was set down at my aunt's, and entered upon the scene of action. I expected now, from the age and experience of my aunt, some lessons of prudential con­duct; [Page 131] but, after the first civilties and first tears were over, was told what pity it was to have kept so fine a girl so long in the country; for that people who did not begin young seldom dealt their cards handsomely, or played them tolerably.

YOUNG persons are commonly inclined to slight the remarks and counsels of their elders. I smiled, perhaps, with too much contempt, and was upon the point of telling her, that my time had not been past in such trivial attain­ments. But I soon found that things are to be estimated, not by the importance of their effects, but the frequency of their use.

A FEW days after, my aunt gave me notice, that some company, which she had been six weeks in collecting, was to meet that evening, and she expected a finer assembly than had been seen all the winter. She expressed this in the jargon of a gamester, and, when I asked an explication of her terms of art, wondered where I had lived. I had already found my aunt so incapable of any rational conclusion, and so ignorant of every thing, whether great or little, that I had lost all regard to her opinion, [Page 132] and dressed myself with great expectations of an opportunity to display my charms among rivals, whose competition would not dis­honour me. The company came in, and after the cursory compliments of salutation, alike easy to the lowest and the highest under­standing, what was the result? The cards were broke open, the parties were formed, the whole night passed in a game, upon which the young and old were equally employed; nor was I able to attract an eye, or gain an ear, but being compelled to play without skill, I perpetually embarrassed my partner, and soon perceived the contempt of the whole table ga­thering upon me.

I CANNOT but suspect, Sir, that this odious fashion is produced by a conspiracy of the old, the ugly, and the ignorant, against the young and beautiful, the witty and the gay, as a con­trivance to level all distinctions of nature and of art, to confound the world in a chaos of folly, to take from those, who could outshine them, all the advantages of mind and body, to withold youth from its natural pleasures, deprive wit of its influence, and beauty of its charms, to fix those hearts upon money, to [Page 133] which we have hitherto been entitled, to sink life into a tedious uniformity, and to allow it no other hopes, or fears, but those of rob­bing, and being robbed.

BE pleased, Sir, to inform those of my sex, who have minds capable of nobler sentiments, that, if they will unite in vindication of their pleasures and their prerogatives, they may fix a time, at which cards shall cease to be in fashion, or be left only to those who have neither beauty to be loved, nor spirit to be feared; neither knowledge to teach, nor mo­desty to learn; and who, having passed their youth in vice, are justly condemned to spend their age in folly.

I am, SIR, &c. CLEORA.

VEXATION will burst my heart, if I do not give it vent. As you publish a paper, I insist upon it, that you insert this in your next, as ever you hope for the kindness and encouragement of any women of taste, spirit, and virtue. I would have it published to the world, how deserving wives are used by impe­rious coxcombs, that henceforth no woman [Page 134] may marry, who has not the patience of Grizzel. Nay, if even Grizzel had been married to a gamester, her temper would never have held out. A wretch that loses his good humour and humanity along with his money, and will not allow enough from his own ex­travagances to support a woman of fashion in the necessary amusements of life!—Why does not he employ his wise head to make a figure in parliament, raise an estate, and get a title? That would be fitter for the master of a fami­ly, than rattling a noisy dice-box; and then he might indulge his wife in a few slight expences and elegant diversions.

WHAT if I was unfortunate at Brag?—should he not have stayed to see how luck would turn another time? Instead of that, what does he do, but picks a quarrel, up­braids me with loss of beauty, abuses my ac­quaintance, ridicules my play, and insults my understanding; says, forsooth, that women have not heads enough to play with any thing but dolls, and that they should be employed in things proportionable to their understanding, keep at home, and mind family affairs.

I DO stay at home, Sir, and all the town [Page 135] knows I am at home every Sunday. I have had six routs this winter, and sent out ten packs of cards in invitations to private parties. As for management, I am sure he cannot call me extravagant, or say I do not mind my family. The children are out at nurse in villages as cheap as any two little brats can be kept, nor have I ever seen them since; so he has no trouble about them. The servants live at board wages. My own dinners come from the Thatch'd house; and I have never paid a penny for any thing I have bought since I was married. As for play, I do think I may, indeed, indulge in that, now I am my own mistress. Papa made me drudge at whist 'till I was tired of it; and, far from wanting a head, Mr Hoyle, when he had not given me above forty lessons, said I was one of his best scho­lars. I thought then with myself, that, if once I was at liberty, I would leave play, and take to reading romances, things so forbidden at our house, and so railed at, that it was im­possible nor to fancy them very charming. Most fortunately, to save me from absolute undutifulness, just as I was married came dear Brag into fashion, and ever since it has been the joy of my life; so easy, so chearful and careless, so void of thought, and so genteel! [Page 136] Who can help loving it? Yet the perfidious thing has used me very ill of late, and to­morrow I should have changed it for Faro. But, oh! this detestable to-morrow, a thing always expected, and never found.—Within this few hours must I be dragged into the country. The wretch, Sir, left me in a sit, which his threatenings had occasioned, and unmercifully ordered a post-chaise. Stay I cannot, for money I have none, and credit I cannot get—But I will make the monkey play with me at picquet upon the road for all I want. I am almost sure to beat him, and his debts of honour I know he will pay. Then who can tell but I may still come back and conquer lady Packer? Sir, you need not print this last scheme, and, upon second thoughts, you may—Oh distraction! the post-chaise is at the door. Sir, publish what you will, only let it be printed without a name.

NUMB. 16. SATURDAY, May 12, 1750.

—Multis dicendi copia torrens,
Et sua mortifera est facundia—

I AM the modest young man whom you fa­voured with your advice, in a late paper; and, as I am very far from suspecting that you foresaw the numberless inconveniences which I have, by following it, brought upon myself, I will lay my condition open before you, for you seem bound to extricate me from the per­plexities, in which your counsel, however innocent in the intention, has contributed to involve me.

YOU told me, as you thought, to my comfort, that a writer might easily find means of in­troducing his genius to the world, for the press of England was open. This I have now fatally experienced; the press is, indeed, open,

—Facilis descensus Averni,
Noctes atque dies patet atri janua Ditis.

THE means of doing hurt to ourselves are [Page 138] always at hand. I immediately sent to a printer, and contracted with him for an im­pression of several thousands of my pamphlet. While it was at the press, I was seldom absent from the printing-house, and continually urged the workmen to haste, by solicitations, promi­ses, and rewards. From the day all other pleasures were excluded, by the delightful em­ployment of correcting the sheets; and from the night sleep was generally banished, by anticipations of the happiness, which every hour was bringing nearer.

AT last the time of publication approached, and my heart beat with the raptures of an author. I was above all little precautions, and, in defiance of envy, or of criticism, set my name upon the title, without sufficiently considering, that what has once passed the press is irrevocable, and that though the print­ing-house may properly be compared to the infernal regions, for the facility of its entrance, and the difficulty with which authors return from it; yet there is this difference, that a great genius can never return to his former state, by a happy draught of the waters of oblivion.

[Page 139] I AM now, Mr Rambler, known to be an author, and am condemned, irreversi­bly condemned, to all the miseries of high reputation. The first morning after pub­lication my friends assembled about me; I presented each, as is usual, with a copy of my book. They looked into the first pa­ges, but were hindered, by their admiration, from reading farther. The first pages are, in­deed, very elaborate. Some passages they particularly dwelt upon, as more eminently beautiful than the rest; and some more deli­cate strokes, and secret elegancies, I pointed out to them, which had escaped their observa­tion. I then begged of them to forbear their compliments, and invited them, I could not do less, to dine with me at a tavern. After dinner, the book was resumed; but their prai­ses very often so much overpowered my mo­desty, that I was forced to put about the glass, and had often no means of repressing the cla­mours of their admiration, but by thundering to the drawer for another bottle.

NEXT morning another set of my acquain­tance congratulated me upon my performance, with such importunity of praise, that I was [Page 140] again forced to obviate their civilities by a treat. On the third day I had yet a greater number of applauders to put to silence in the same manner; and, on the fourth, those whom I had entertained the first day came again, having, in the perusal of the remaining part of the book, discovered so many forcible sen­tences and masterly touches, that it was impos­sible for me to bear the repetition of their com­mendations. I, therefore, persuaded them once more to adjourn to the tavern, and choose some other subject, on which I might share in the conversation. But it was not in their power to withold their attention from my per­formance, which had so intirely taken pos­session of their minds, that no intreaties of mind could change their topick, and I was obliged to stifle, with claret, that praise, which neither my modesty could hinder, nor my uneasiness redress.

THE whole week was thus spent in a kind of literary revel, and I have now found that nothing is so expensive as great abilities, unless there is join'd with them an insatiable eager­ness of praise; for to escape from the pain of hearing myself exalted above the greatest names dead and living of the learned world, it has [Page 141] already cost me two hogsheads of port, fifteen gallons of arrack, ten dozen of claret, and five and forty bottles of champagne.

I WAS resolved to stay at home no longer, and, therefore, rose early and went to the coffee­house; but found that I had now made my­self too eminent for happiness, and that I was no longer to enjoy the pleasure of mixing, upon equal terms, with the rest of the world. As soon as I enter the room, I see part of the company raging with envy, which they endea­vour to conceal, sometimes with the appear­ance of laughter, and sometimes with that of contempt; but the disguise is such, that I can discover the secret rancour of their hearts, and as envy is deservedly its own punishment, I frequently indulge myself in tormenting them with my presence.

BUT though there may be some slight satis­faction received from the mortification of my enemies, yet my benevolence will not suffer me to take any pleasure in the terrors of my friends. I have been cautious, since the ap­pearance of my work, not to give myself more premeditated airs of superiority, than the most rigid humility might allow. It is, indeed, [Page 142] not impossible that I may sometimes have laid down my opinion, in a manner that shewed a consciousness of my ability to maintain it, or interrupted the conversation, when I saw its tendency, without suffering the speaker to waste his time in explaining his sentiments; and, indeed, I did indulge myself for two days in a custom of drumming with my fingers, when the company began to lose themselves in absurdities, or to encroach upon subjects which I knew them unqualified to discuss. But I generally acted with great appearance of respect, even to those whose stupidity I pitied in my heart. Yet, notwithstanding this ex­emplary moderation, so universal is the dread of uncommon powers, and such the unwil­lingness of mankind to be made wiser, that I have now for some days found myself shun­ned by all my acquaintance. If I knock at a door, no body is at home; if I enter a coffee­house, I have the box to myself. I live in the town like a lion in his desart, or an eagle on his rock, too great for friendship or society, and condemned to solitude, by unhappy eleva­tion, and dreaded ascendency.

NOR is my character only formidable to others, but burdensome to myself. I natural­ly [Page 143] love to talk without much thinking, to scatter my merriment at random, and to relax my thoughts with ludicrous remarks and fan­ciful images; but such is now the importance of my opinion, that I am afraid to offer it, lest, by being established too hastily into a maxim, it should be the occasion of error to half the nation; and such is the expectation with which I am attended, when I am going to speak, that I frequently pause to reflect whether what I am about to utter is worthy of myself.

THIS, Sir, is sufficiently miserable, but there are still greater calamities behind. You must have read how men of parts have had their closets rifled, and their cabinets broke open at the instigation of piratical booksellers, for the pro­fit of their works; and it is apparent, that there are many prints now sold in the shops, of men whom you cannot suspect of sitting for that purpose, and whose likenesses must have been certainly stolen when their names made their faces vendible. These considerations at first put me on my guard, and I have, indeed, found sufficient reason for my caution, for I have discovered many people examining my counte­nance, with a curiosity that shewed their in­tention [Page 144] to draw it; I immediately left the house, but find the same behaviour in another.

OTHERS may be persecuted, but I am hunted; I have good reason to believe that eleven painters are now dogging me, for they know that he who can get my face first will make his fortune. I often change my wig, and wear my hat over my eyes, by which I hope somewhat to confound them; for you know it is not fair to sell my face, without ad­mitting me to share the profit.

I AM, however, not so much in pain for my face as for my papers, which I dare neither carry with me nor leave behind. I have, in­deed, taken some measures for their preserva­tion, having put them in an iron chest, and fixed a padlock upon my closet. I change my lodgings five times a week, and always remove at the dead of night.

THUS I live, in consequence of having given too great proofs of a predominant genius, in the solitude of a hermit, with the anxiety of a miser, and the caution of an outlaw; afraid to shew my face, lest it should be copied; afraid to speak, lest I should injure my cha­racter, [Page 145] and to write lest my correspondents should publish my letters; always uneasy lest my servants should steal my papers for the sake of money, or my friends for that of the publick. This it is to soar above the rest of mankind; and this representation I lay before you, that I may be informed how to divest myself of the laurels which are so cumber­some to the wearer, and descend to the enjoy­ment of that quiet from which I find a writer of the first class so fatally debarred.


NUMB. 17. TUESDAY, May 15, 1750.

—Me non oracula certum,
Sed mors certa facit.

IT is recorded of some eastern monarch, that he kept an officer in his house, whose employment it was to remind him of his mor­tality, by calling out every morning, at a stated hour; Remember, prince, that thou shalt die. And the contemplation of the frailness and uncertainty of our present state appeared of so much importance to Solon of Athens, that he left this precept to future ages; Keep thine eye fixed upon the end of life.

[Page 146] A FREQUENT and attentive prospect of that hour, which must put a period to all our schemes, and deprive us of all our acquisitions, is, indeed, of the utmost efficacy to the just and rational disposition of our affairs, and the wise and happy regulation of our lives; nor would ever any thing wicked, or often any thing absurd, be undertaken or prosecuted by him who should begin every day with a serious reflection, that he is born to die.

THE disturbers of our happiness, in this world, are our desires, our griefs, and our fears, and to all these, the frequent consideration of death is a certain and adequate remedy. Think, says Epictetus, frequently on poverty, banishment, and death, and thou wilt then never indulge any violent desire, or give up thy heart to any mean sentiment, [...].

THAT the maxim of Epictetus is founded on just observation will easily be granted, when we reflect, how that vehemence of eagerness after the common objects of persuit is kindled in our minds. We represent to [Page 147] ourselves the pleasures of some future pos­session, and suffer our thoughts to dwell atten­tively upon it, till it has wholly ingrossed the imagination, and permits us not to conceive any other happiness than its attainment, or any other misery than its loss; every other satisfaction which the bounty of providence has scattered over life is neglected as inconsi­derable, in comparison of the great object which we have placed before us, thrown from us as incumbering our activity, or trampled under foot as standing in our way.

EVERY man has experienced, how much of this ardour has remitted, when a sharp or tedious sickness has set death before his eyes. The extensive influence of greatness, the glitter of wealth, the praises of admirers, and the attendance of supplicants, have appeared vain and empty things, when the last hour has seemed to be approaching; and the same ap­pearance they would always have, if the same thought was always predominant. We should then find the absurdity of stretching out our arms incessantly to grasp that which we cannot keep, and wearing out our lives in endeavours to add new turrets to the fabrick of ambition, when the foundation itself is shaking, and [Page 148] the ground on which it stands is mouldering away.

ALL envy is proportionate to desire; we are uneasy at the attainments of another, ac­cording as we think our own happiness would be advanced by the addition of that which he witholds from us; and, therefore whatever depresses immoderate wishes, will, at the same time, set the heart free from the corrosion of envy, and exempt us from that vice, which is, above most others, torment­ing to ourselves, hateful to the world, and productive of mean artifices, and sordid pro­jects. He that considers how soon he must close his life, will find nothing of so much im­portance as to close it well; and will, there­fore, look with indifference upon whatever is useless to that purpose. Whoever reflects fre­quently upon the uncertainty of his own du­ration, will easily find out, that the state of others is not more permanent, and that what can confer nothing on himself very desirable, cannot so much improve the condition of a rival, as to make him, in any great degree, superior to those from whom he has carried the prize, a prize too mean to excite a very obstinate opposition.

[Page 149] EVEN grief, that passion, to which the virtuous and tender mind is more particularly subject, will be obviated, or alleviated, by the same reflection. It will be obviated, if all the blessings of our condition are enjoyed with a constant sense of the uncertain tenure by which they are held: If we remember, that whatever we possess is to be in our hands but a very little time, and that the little, which our most lively hopes can promise us, may be made less, by ten thousand accidents, we shall not much repine at a loss, of which we cannot estimate the value, but of which, though we cannot tell the least amount, we know, with sufficient certainty, the greatest, and are convinced that the greatest is not much to be regretted.

BUT, if any passion has so much usurped our understanding, as not to suffer us to en­joy our advantages with the moderation pre­scribed by reason and by virtue, it is not too late to apply this remedy, when we find ourselves sinking under sorrow, and inclined to pine for that which is irrecoverably vanished. We may then usefully revolve the uncertainty of our own condition, and the folly of la­menting [Page 150] that from which, if it had stayed little longer, we should ourselves have been taken away.

WITH regard to the sharpest and most melting sorrow, that which arises from the loss of those whom we have loved with tenderness, it may be observed, that friendship between mortals can be contracted on no other terms, than that one must sometime mourn for the other's death: And this grief will always yield to the surviver one consolation proporti­onate to his affliction; for the pain, whatever it be, that he himself feels, his friend has escaped.

NOR is fear, the most overbearing and re­sistless of all our passions, less to be temperated by this universal medicine of the mind. The frequent contemplation of death, as it shows the vanity of all human good, discovers like­wise the lightness of all terrestrial evil, which, certainly, can last no longer than the subject upon which it acts, and, according to the old observation, must be shorter, as it is more vi­olent. The most cruel calamity, which mis­fortune can produce, must, by the necessity of nature, be quickly at an end. The soul cannot [Page 151] long be held in prison, but will fly away, and leave a lifeless body to human malice. ‘—Ridetque sui ludibria trunci.’

THE utmost that we can threaten to one ano­ther is that death, which, indeed, we may precipitate, but cannot retard, and from which, therefore, it cannot become a wise man to buy a reprieve at the expence of his virtue, since he knows not how small a porti­on of time he can purchase, which, whether short or long, will be made less valuable by the remembrance of the price by which it has been obtained. He is sure that he destroys his happiness, but is not sure that he lengthens his life.

THE known shortness of life, as it ought to moderate our passions, may likewise, with equal propriety, contract our designs. There is not time for the most forcible genius, and most active industry, to extend its effects beyond a certain sphere. To project the con­quest of the world, is the madness of some mighty princes; to hope for excellence in every science, has been the folly of some men of uncommon genius; and both have found, at last, that they have panted for a height of [Page 152] eminence denied to humanity, and have lost many opportunities of making themselves use­ful and happy, by a vain ambition of obtaining a species of honour, which the eternal laws of providence have placed beyond the reach of man.

THE miscarriages of the great designs of princes are recorded in the histories of the world, but when they are read, are of little use to the bulk of mankind, who seem very little interested in admonitions against errors which they cannot commit. But the fate of literary ambition is a proper subject for every scholar to consider; for who has not had occa­sion to regret the dissipation of great abilities in a boundless multiplicity of persuits, to la­ment the sudden desertion of many excellent designs, upon the offer of some other subject, made more inviting by its novelty, and to ob­serve the inaccuracy and deficiencies of works left unfinished by too great an extention of the plan?

IT is always pleasing to observe, how much more our minds can conceive, than our bodies can perform; yet it is our duty, while we continue in this complicated stato, to regulato [Page 153] one part of our composition by some regard to the other. We are not to indulge our cor­poreal appetites with pleasures that impair our intellectual vigour, nor gratify our minds with schemes which we know our lives must fail in attempting to execute. The uncertainty of our duration ought at once to set bounds to our designs, and add incitements to our industry; and when we find ourselves inclined either to immensity in our schemes, or sluggishness in our endeavours, we may either check, or ani­mate, ourselves, by recollecting, with the fa­ther of physic, that art is long, and life is short.

NUMB. 18, SATURDAY, May 19, 1750.

Illic matre carentibus
Privignis mulier temperat innocens,
Nec dotata regit virum
Conjux, nec nitido fidit adultero;
Dos est magna parentum
Virtus, et metuens alterius tori
Certo foedere castitas.

THERE is no observation more frequently made by such as employ themselves in surveying the conduct of mankind, than [Page 154] that marriage, though the dictate of nature, and the institution of providence, is yet very often the cause of misery, and that those who enter into that state can seldom forbear to express their repentance of the folly, and their envy of those whom either chance or caution has witheld from it.

THIS general unhappiness has given occasi­on to many sage maxims among the serious, and smart remarks among the gay; the mo­ralist and the writer of epigrams have equal­ly shown their abilities upon it; some have la­mented, and some have ridiculed it; but as the faculty of writing has been chiefly a masculine endowment, the reproach of making the world miserable has been always thrown upon the women, and the grave and the merry have equally thought themselves at liberty to conclude either with declamatory complaints, or satirical censures of female fol­ly or fickleness, ambition or cruelty, extrava­gance or lust.

LED by such a number of examples, and incited by my share in the common interest, sometimes venture to consider this universal grievance, having endeavoured to divest my [Page 155] heart of all partiality, and place myself as a kind of neutral being between the sexes, whose clamours, if we attend only to the world passing before us, being equally loud, and vented on both sides with all the vehe­mence of distress, all the apparent confidence of justice, and all the indignation of injured virtue, seem therefore entitled to equal regard. The men have, indeed, by their superiority of writing, been able to collect the evidence of many ages, and raise prejudices in their favour by the venerable testimonies of philosophers, historians and poets. But the pleas of the la­dies appeal to passions of more forcible opera­tion than the reverence of antiquity; if they have not so great names on their side, they have stronger arguments; it is to little pur­pose that Socrates, or Euripides, are produced against the sighs of softness, and the tears of beauty. The most frigid and inexorable judge would, at least, stand suspended between equal powers, as Lucan was perplexed in the deter­mination of the cause, where the deities were on one side, and Cato on the other.

BUT I, who have long studied the severest and most abstracted philosophy, have now, in the cool maturity of life, arrived to such com­mand [Page 156] over my passions, that I can hear the vo­ciferations of either sex without catching any of the fire from those that utter them. For I have found, by long experience, that a man will sometimes rage at his wife, when in reali­ty his mistress has offended him; and a lady complain of the cruelty of her husband, when she has no other enemy than bad cards. I do not suffer myself now to be any longer imposed upon by oaths on one side, or fits on the other; nor when the husband hastens to the tavern, and the lady retires to her closet, am I always confident that they are driven to to it by their miseries; since I have sometimes reason to be­lieve, that they purpose not so much to sooth their sorrows, as to animate their fury. But how little credit soever may be given to parti­cular accusations, the general accumulation of the charge shews, with too much evidence, that married persons are not very often advan­ced in felicity; and, therefore, it may be pro­per to examine at what avenues so many evils have made their way into the world. With this purpose, I have reviewed the lives of my friends, who have been least successful in con­nubial contracts, and attentively considered by what motives they were incited to marry, and by what principles they regulated their choice.

[Page 157] ONE of the first of my acquaintances that resolved to quit the unsettled thoughtless con­dition of a batchelor was Prudentius, a man of slow parts, but not without knowledge or judgment in things which he had leisure to consider gradually before he determined them. Whenever we met at a tavern, it was his pro­vince to settle the scheme of our entertain­ment, contract with the cook, and inform us when we had called for wine to the sum origi­nally proposed. This grave considerer found by deep meditation that a man was no loser by marrying early, even though he contented himself with a less fortune; for estimating the exact worth of annuities, he found that, con­sidering the constant diminution of the value of life, with the probable fall of the interest of money, it was not worse to have ten thousand pounds at the age of two and twenty years, than a much larger fortune at thirty; for ma­ny opportunities, says he, occur of improving money, which if a man misses, he may not afterwards recover.

FULL of these reflections he threw his eyes about him, not in search of beauty, or elegance, or dignity, or understanding, but of a woman [Page 158] with ten thousand pounds. Such a woman, in a wealthy part of the kingdom, it was not very difficult to find; and by artful manage­ment with her father, whose ambition was to make his daughter a gentlewoman, my friend got her, as he boasted to us in confi­dence two days after his marriage, for a set­tlement of seventy three pounds a year less than her fortune might have claimed, and less than he would himself have given, if the fools had been but wise enough to delay the bargain.

THUS, at once delighted with the superiori­ty of his parts, and the augmentation of his fortune, he carried Furia to his own house, in which he never afterwards enjoyed one hour of happiness. For Furia was a wretch of mean intellects, violent passions, a strong voice, and low education, without any sense of happiness but that which consisted in eating, and counting money. Furia was a scold. They agreed in the desire of wealth, but with this difference, that Prudentius was for grow­ing rich by gain, Furia by parsimony. Pru­dentius would venture his money with chan­ces very much in his favour; but Furia very wisely observing that what they had was, while they had it, their own, thought all trassick [Page 159] too great a hazard, and was for putting it out at low interest, upon good security. Pruden­tius ventured, however, to insure a ship, at a very unreasonable price, but happening to lose his money, was so tormented with the clamours of his wife, that he never durst try a second experiment. He has now grovelled seven and forty years under Furia's direction, who has never mentioned him, since his bad luck, by any other name than that of the insurer.

THE next that married from our society was Florentius. He happened to see Zephyretta in a chariot at a horse-race, danced with her at night, was confirmed in his first ardour, waited on her next morning, and declared himself her lover. Florentius had not know­ledge enough of the world, to distinguish be­tween the flutter of coquetry, and the spright­liness of wit, or between the smile of allure­ment, and that of chearfulness. He was soon waked from his rapture by conviction that his pleasure was but the pleasure of a day. Ze­phyretta had in four and twenty hours spent her stock of repartee, gone round the circle of her airs, and had nothing remaining for him but childish insipidity, or for herself, but the [Page 160] practice of the same artifices upon new men; by which she is every day bringing contempt upon them both.

MELISSUS was a man of parts, capable of enjoying, and of improving life. He had passed through the various scenes of gayety with that indifference and possession of him­self, natural to men who have something high­er and nobler in their prospect. Retiring to spend the summer in a village little frequented, he happened to lodge in the same house with Ianthe, and was unavoidably drawn to some acquaintance, which her wit and politeness soon invited him to improve. Having no opportu­nity of any other company, they were always together; and, as they owed their pleasures to each other, they began to forget that any plea­sure was enjoyed before their meeting. Me­lissus from being delighted with her company, quickly began to be uneasy in her absence, and being sufficiently convinced of the force of her understanding, and finding, as he imagi­ned, such a conformity of temper as declared them formed for each other, he addressed her as a lover, after no very long courtship obtained her for his wife, and brought her next winter to town in triumph.

[Page 161] Now began their inselicity. Melissus had only seen her in one scene, where there was no variety of objects, to produce the proper ex­citements to contrary desires. They had both loved solitude and reflection, where there was nothing but solitude and reflection to be lov­ed, but when they came into publick life, Ianthe discovered those passions which accident rather than hypocrisy had hitherto concealed. She was, indeed, not without the power of thinking, for that he would have detected, but was wholly without the exertion of that power, when either gayety, or splendour, played on her imagination. She was expen­sive in her diversions, vehement in her passi­ons, insatiate of pleasure however dangerous to her reputation, and eager of applause by whomsoever it might be given. This was the wife which Melissus the philosopher found in his retirement, and from whom he expect­ed an associate in his studies, and an assistant to his virtues.

PROSAPIUS, upon the death of his young­er brother, that the family might not be ex­tinct, married his housekeeper, and has ever since been complaining to his friends that mean [Page 162] notions are instilled into his children, that he is ashamed to sit at his own table, and that his house is uneasy to him for want of suitable companions.

AVARO, master of a very large estate, took a woman of bad reputation, recommended to him by a rich uncle, who made that mar­riage the condition on which he should be his heir. Avaro now wonders to perceive his own fortune, his wife's, and his uncle's, in­sufficient to give him that happiness which is to be found only with a woman of virtue.

I intend to treat in more papers on this im­portant article of life, to relate the reasons, which influenced not only others of my friends, but some ladies whom I have known, in the choice of an inseparable companion, and give account of more causes which have disap­pointed the hope of lovers. I shall, there­fore, make no reflexion upon these histories, except that all whom I have mentioned fail­ed to obtain happiness, for want of consider­ing that marriage is the strictest tye of perpe­tual friendship; that there can be no friend­ship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity; and that he must expect [Page 163] to be wretched, who pays to beauty, riches, or politeness, that regard which only virtue and piety can claim.

NUMB. 19. TUESDAY May 22, 1750.

Dum te causidicum, dum te modo rhetora singis,
Et non decernis, Taure, quid esse velis,
Peleos & Priami transit, vel Nestoris aetas,
Et serum suerat jam tibi desinere.—
Eja, age, rumpe moras, quo te spectabimus usque?
Dum quid sis dubitas, jam potes esse nihil.

IT is never without very melancholy reflexi­ons, that we can observe the misconduct, or miscarriage, of those men, who seem, by the force of understanding, or extent of know­ledge, exempted from the general frailties of human nature, and privileged from the com­mon infelicities of life. Though the world is crowded with scenes of calamity, we look, for the most part, upon the general mass of wretchedness with very little regard, and fix our eyes upon the state of particular persons, whom the eminence of their qualities marks [Page 164] out from the multitude; as, in reading an account of a battle, we seldom reflect on the vulgar heaps of slaughter, but follow the hero, with our whole attention, through all the va­rieties of his fortune, without a thought of the thousands that are falling round him.

WITH the same kind of anxious venera­tion I have for many years been making obser­vations on the life of Polyfilus, a man whom all his acquaintances have, from his first ap­pearance in the world, feared for the quickness of his discernment, and admired for the multi­plicity of his attainments, but whose progress in life, and usefulness to mankind has, perhaps, been hindered by the superfluity of his know­ledge, and the celerity of his mind.

POLYPHILUS was remarkable, at the school, for surpassing all his companions, without any visible application, and at the university was distinguished equally for his successful progress as well through the rough and thorny mazes of science, as the smooth and flowery path of po­liter literature, without any strict confinement to hours of study, or any remarkable forbear­ance of the common amusements of young men.

[Page 165] WHEN Polyphilus was at the age, in which men usually chuse their profession, and prepare to enter into a public character, every acade­mical eye was fixed upon him; all were curi­ous to inquire, what this universal genius would fix upon for the employment of his life; and no doubt was made but that he would leave all his contemporaries behind him, and mount to the highest honours of that class, in which he should inlist himself, without those delays and pauses which must be always endur­ed by meaner abilities.

POLYPHILUS, though by no means inso­lent or assuming, had been sufficiently encour­aged, by uninterrupted success, to place great confidence in his own parts; and was not be­low his companions in the indulgence of his hopes, and expectation of the astonishment with which the world would be struck, when first his lustre should break out upon it; nor could he forbear (for whom does not constant flattery intoxicate?) to join sometimes in the mirth of his friends, at the sudden disappear­ance of those, who, having shone awhile, and drawn the eyes of the public upon their feeble radiance, were now doomed to fade away before him.

[Page 166] IT is natural for a man to catch advantage­ous notions of the condition which those, with whom he converses, are striving to attain. Polyphilus, in a ramble to London, fell acci­dentally among the physicians, and was so much pleased with the prospect of turning philosophy to profit, and so highly delighted with a new theory of fevers which darted in­to his imagination, and which, after having considered it a few hours, he found himself able to maintain against all the advocates for the ancient system, that he resolved to apply himself to anatomy, botany, and chemistry, and to leave no part unconquered either of the animal, mineral, or vegetable king­doms.

HE therefore read authors, constructed systems, and tried experiments; but unhap­pily, as he was going to see a new plant in flower at Chelsea, he met, in crossing West­minster to take water, the chancellor's coach; he had the curiosity to follow him into the hall, where a remarkable cause happened to be tryed, and found himself able to produce so many ar­guments, which the lawyers had omitted on both sides, that he determined to quit physic [Page 167] for a profession, in which he found it would be so easy to excel, and which promised high­er honours, and larger profits, without melan­choly attendance upon misery, mean submissi­on to peevishness, and continual interruption of rest and pleasure.

HE immediately took chambers in the Tem­ple, bought a common-place-book, and con­fined himself for some months to the perusal of the statutes, year-books, pleadings, and re­ports; he was a constant hearer of the pro­ceedings in the courts, and began to put cases with reasonable accuracy. But he soon disco­vered, by considering the fortune of lawyers, that preferment was not to be got by acuteness, learning, and eloquence. He was perplexed by the absurdities of attorneys, and misrepre­sentations made by his clients of their own causes, by the useless anxiety of one, and the incessant importunity of another; he be­gan to repent of having devoted himself to a study, which was so narrow in its comprehen­sion that it could never carry his name to any other country, and thought it unworthy of a man of parts to sell his life only for money. The barrenness of his fellow-students forced him generally into other company at his hours [Page 168] of entertainment, and among the varieties of conversation, through which his curiosity was daily wandering, he, by chance, mingled at a tavern with some intelligent officers of the army. A man of letters was easily dazzled with the gaiety of their appearance, and sof­tened into kindness by the politeness of their address; he, therefore, cultivated this new ac­quaintance, and when he saw how readily they found in every place admission and regard, and how familiarly they mingled with every rank and order of men, he began to feel his heart beat for military honours, and wondered how the prejudices of the university should make him so long insensible of that ambition, which has fired so many hearts in every age, and negligent of that calling, which is, above all others, universally and invariably illustrious, and which gives, even to the exterior ap­pearance of its professors, a dignity and free­dom unknown to the rest of mankind.

THESE favourable impressions were made still deeper by his conversation with ladies, whose regard for soldiers he could not observe, without wishing himself one of that happy fraternity, to which the female world seemed to have devoted their charms and their kind­ness. [Page 169] The love of knowledge, which was still his predominant inclination, was gratified by the recital of adventures, and accounts of foreign countries; and, therefore, he thought there was no way of life, in which all his views could so compleatly concenter as in that of a soldier. In the art of war he thought it not difficult to excel, having observed his new friends not very much versed in the principles of tacticks or fortification; and, therefore, he studied all the military writers both antient and modern, and, in a short time, could tell how to have gained every remarkable battle that had been lost from the beginning of the world. He often shewed at table how Alex­ander should have been checked in his con­quests, what was the fatal error at Pharsalia, how Charles of Sweden might have escaped his ruin at Pultowa, and Marlborough might have been made to repent his temerity at Blen­heim. He entrenched armies upon paper so that no superiority of numbers could force them, and modelled in clay many impregna­ble fortresses, on which all the present arts of attack would be exhausted without effect.

POLYPHILUS, in a short time, obtained a commission; but before he could rub off the [Page 170] solemnity of a scholar, and gain the true air of military vivacity, a war was declared, and forces sent to the continent. Here Polyphilus unhappily found that study alone would not make a soldier; for being much accustomed to think, he let the sense of danger sink into his mind, and felt at the approach of any action that terror which a sentence of death would have brought upon him. He saw that, instead of conquering their fears, the endeavour of his gay friends was only to escape them; but his philosophy chained his mind to its object, and rather loaded him with shackles than fur­nished him with arms. He, however, sup­pressed his misery in silence, and passed through the campaign with honour, but found him­self utterly unable to support another.

HE then had recourse again to his books, and continued to range from one study to ano­ther. As I usually visit him once a month, and am admitted to him without previous notice, I have found him, within this last half year, decyphering the Chinese language, mak­ing a farce, collecting a vocabulary of the obsolete terms of the English law, writing an inquiry concerning the ancient Corinthian [Page 171] brass, and forming a new scheme of the vari­ations of the needle.

THUS is this powerful genius, which might have extended the sphere of any science­or benefited the world in any profession, dissi­pated in a boundless variety, without any pro­fit to others or himself. He makes sudden irruptions into the regions of knowledge, and sees all obstacles give way before him; but he never stays long enough to compleat his conquest, to establish laws, or bring away the spoils.

SUCH is often the folly of those men, whom nature has enabled to obtain skill and know­ledge, on terms so easy, that they have no sense of the value of the acquisition; who are qualified to make such speedy progress in learn­ing, that they think themselves at liberty to loiter in the way, and often, by turning aside after every new object, like Atalanta, lose the race to slower competitors, who press diligent­ly forward, and whose force is directed to a single point.

I HAVE often thought those happy that have been fixed, from the first dawn of [Page 172] thought, in a determination to some state of life, by the choice of one, whose authority may preclude caprice, and whose influence may prejudice them in favour of his opinion. The general precept of consulting the genius is of little use, unless we are told, how the genius can be known. If it is to be disco­vered only by experiment, life will be lost, before the resolution can be fixed; if any other indications are to be found, they may, perhaps, be very early discerned. At least, if to miscarry in an attempt, be a proof of having mistaken the direction of the genius, men appear not less frequently deceived with regard to themselves than to others; and, therefore, no one has much reason to complain that his life was planned out by his friends, or to be confident that he should have had either more honour, or happiness, by being abandoned to the chance of his own fancy.

IT was said of the learned bishop Sander­son, that, when he was preparing his lectures, he hesitated so much, and rejected so often, that, at the time of reading, he was often forced to produce, not what was best, but what happened to be at hand. This will be the state of every man, who, in the choice [Page 173] of his employment, balances all the argu­ments on every side; the complication is so intricate, the motives and objections so numer­ous, there is so much play for the imagination, and so much remains in the power of others, that reason is forced at last to rest in neutrality, the decision devolves into the hands of chance, and after a great part of life spent in inquiries which can never be resolved, the rest must of­ten pass in repenting the unnecessary delay, and can be useful to few other purposes than to warn others, against the same folly, and to show, that of two states of life equally con­sistent with religion and virtue, he who chu­ses earliest chuses best.

NUMB. 20, SATURDAY, May 26, 1750.

‘Ad populum phaleras, ego te intus, et in cute novi. ’PERSIUS.

AMONG the numerous stratagems, by which pride endeavours to recommend folly to regard, there is scarcely one that meets with less success than affectation, or a per­petual disguise of the real character, by ficti­tious appearances: whether it be, that every [Page 174] man hates falshood, from the natural con­gruity of truth to his faculties of reason, or that every man is jealous of the honour of his understanding, and thinks his discernment con­sequentially called in question, whenever any thing is exhibited under a borrowed form.

THIS aversion from all kinds of disguise, whatever be its cause, is universally diffused, and incessantly in action; nor is it necessary, that, to exasperate detestation, or excite con­tempt, any interest should be invaded, or any competition attempted; it is sufficient, that there is an intention to deceive, an intention which every heart swells to oppose, and every tongue is busy to detect.

THIS reflexion was awakened in my mind by a very common practice among my corre­spondents, of writing under characters which they cannot support, which are of no use to the explanation of that which they describe, or the enforcement of that which they recom­mend; and which, therefore, since they can be supposed to assume them only for the sake of displaying their abilities, I will advise them for the future to forbear as laborious without advantage,

[Page 175] IT is almost a general ambition of those, who favour me with their advice for the regu­lation of my conduct, or their contribution for the assistance of my understanding, to affect the style and the names of ladies. And I cannot always withold some expression of anger, like Hugh in the comedy, when I happen to find that a woman has a beard. I must, therefore, warn the gentle Phyllis, that she send me no more letters from the Horse-Guards; and require of Belinda, that she be content to resign her pretention to female e­legance, till she has lived three weeks with­out hearing the politicks of Batson's coffee-house. I must indulge myself in the liberty of observing, that there were some allusions in Chloris's production, sufficient to shew that Bracton and Plowden are her favourite authors; and that Euphelia has not been long enough at home, to wear out all the traces of the phrase­ology which she learned in the expedition to Carthagena.

AMONG all my female friends, there was none who gave me more trouble to decypher her true character, than Penthesilea, whose letter lay upon my desk three days, before I [Page 176] could fix upon the real writer. There was a confusion of images, and medley of barbarity, which held me long in suspense; till by per­severance, I disentangled the perplexity, and found, that Penthesilea is the son of a wealthy stock-jobber, who spends his morning under his father's eye, in 'Change-Alley, dines at a tavern in Covent-Garden, passes his evening in the playhouse, and part of the night at a gaming-table, and having learned the dialect of these various regions, has mingled them all in a studied composition.

WHEN Lee was once told by a critic, that it was very easy to write like a madman, he answered, that it was difficult to write like a madman, but easy enough to write like a fool; and, I hope to be excused by my kind contributors, if, in imitation of this great author, I presume to remind them, that it is much easier not to write like a man, than to write like a woman.

I HAVE, indeed, some ingenious well-wish­ers, who, without departing from their sex, have found very wonderful distinctions. A very smart letter has been sent me from a puny ensign, signed Ajax Telamonius; another, [Page 177] in recommendation of a new treatise upon cards, from a gamester, who calls himself Sesostris; and another upon the improvements of the fishery, from Dioclesian: but as these seem only to have picked up their appellations by chance, without endeavouring at any par­ticular imposture, their improprieties are rather instances of blunder, than of affectation, and are, therefore, not equally fitted to inflame the hostile passions; for it is not folly but pride, not error but deceit, which the world means to persecute, when it raises the full cry of nature to hunt down affectation.

THE hatred, which dissimulation always draws upon itself, is so great, that if I did not know how much cunning differs from wisdom, I should wonder that any men have so little knowledge of their own interest, as to aspire to wear a mask for life; to try to impose upon the world a character, to which they feel them­selves void of any just claim; and to hazard their quiet, their fame, and even their profit, by exposing themselves to the danger of that reproach, malevolence, and neglect, which such a discovery as they have always to fear will certainly bring upon them.

[Page 178] IT might be imagined, that the pleasure of reputation should consist in the satisfaction of having our opinion of our own merit confirmed by the suffrage of the publick; and that, to be extolled for a quality, which a man knows himself to want, should give him no other happiness than to be mistaken for the owner of an estate, over which he chances to be travel­ling. But he, who subsists upon affectation, knows nothing of this delicacy; like a despe­rate adventurer in commerce, he takes up re­putation upon trust, mortgages possessions which he never had, and enjoys, to the fatal hour of bankrupcy, though with a thousand terrors and anxieties, the unnecessary splendour of borrowed riches.

AFFECTATION is to be always distinguish­ed from hypocrisy, as being the art of coun­terfeiting those qualities, which we might, with innocence and safety, be known to want. Thus the man, who, to carry on any fraud, or to conceal any crime, pretends to rigours of devotion, and exactness of life, is guilty of hypocrisy; and his guilt is greater, as the end, for which he puts on the false appearance, is more pernicious. But he that, with an [Page 179] awkward address, and unpleasing countenance, boasts of the conquests made by him among the ladies, and counts over the thousands which he might have prossessed if he would have sub­mitted to the yoke of matrimony, is charge­able only with affectation. Hypocrisy is the necessary burthen of villainy, affectation part of the chosen trappings of folly; the one completes a villain, the other only finishes a fop. Contempt is the proper punishment of affectation, and detestation the just consequence of hypocrisy.

WITH the hypocrite it is not at present my intention to expostulate, though even he might be taught the excellency of virtue, by the necessity of seeming to be virtuous; but the man of affectation may, perhaps, be re­claimed, by finding how little he is likely to gain by perpetual constraint, and incessant vigilance, and how much more securely he might make his way to esteem, by cultivating real, than displaying counterfeit qualities.

EVERY thing future is to be estimated by a wise man, in proportion to the probability of attaining it, and its value when attained; and neither of these considerations will much con­tribute [Page 180] to the encouragement of affectation. For, if the pinacles of fame be, at best, slippery, how unsteady must his footing be who stands upon pinacles without foundation! If praise be made, by the inconstancy and malice of those who must confer it, a blessing which no man can promise himself from the most conspicuous merit, and vigorous industry, how faint must be the hope of gaining it, when the uncertainty is multiplied by the weakness of the pretensions! He that persues fame with just claims, trusts his happiness to the winds; but he that endeavours after it, by false merit, has to fear, not only the violence of the storm, but the leaks of his vessel. Though he should happen to keep above water for a time, by the help of a soft breeze, and a calm sea, at the first gust he must inevitably founder, with this melancholy reflexion, that, if he would have been con­tent with his natural station, he might have escaped his calamity. Affectation my possibly succeed for a time, and a man may, by great attention, persuade others, that he really has the qualities, which he presumes to boast; but the hour will come when he should exert them, and then whatever he enjoyed in praise, he must suffer in reproach.

[Page 181] APPLAUSE and admiration are by no means to be counted among the necessaries of life, and therefore any indirect arts to obtain them have very little claim to pardon or compassion. There is scarcely any man without some valuable or improvable qualities, by which he might always secure himself from contempt. And perhaps exemption from ignominy is the most eligible reputation, as freedom from pain is, among some philosophers, the definition of happiness.

IF we therefore compare the value of the praise obtained by fictitious excellence, even while the cheat is yet undiscovered, with that kindness which every man may win by his virtue, and that esteem which most men may gain by common understanding steadily and honestly applied, we shall find that when from the adscititious happiness all the deductions are made by fear and accident, there will remain nothing equiponderant to the security of truth. The state of the possessor of humble virtues, to the affecter of great excellencies, is that of a small well built cottage of stone, to the palace raised with ice by the empress of Russia; it was for a time splendid and luminous, but the first shunshine melted it to nothing.

NUMB. 21. TUESDAY, May 29, 1750.

Terra salutiferas herbas, eademque nocentes,
Nutrit; & urticae proxima saepe rosa est.

EVERY man is prompted by the love of himself to imagine, that he possesses some peculiar qualities, superior, either in kind or in degree, to those which he sees allotted to the rest of the world; and, whatever apparent dis­advantages he may suffer in the comparison with others, he has some invisible distinctions, some latent reserve of excellence, which he throws into the balance, and by which he ge­nerally fancies that it is turned in his favour.

THE studious and speculative part of man­kind have always seemed to consider their fra­ternity, as placed in a state of opposition to those who are engaged in the tumult of pub­lic business; and have pleased themselves, from age to age, with celebrating the felicity of their own condition, and with recounting the perplexity of politics, the dangers of greatness, the anxieties of ambition, and the miseries of riches.

[Page 183] AMONG the numerous topics of declamati­on, that their industry has discovered on this subject, there is none which they press with greater efforts, or on which they have more copiously laid out their reason and their imagination, than the instability of high stati­ons, and the uncertainty with which their profits and honours are possessed, that must be acquired with so much hazard, vigilance and labour.

THIS they appear to consider as an irrefra­gable argument against the choice of the states­man and the warrior; to this weapon they have always recourse in their rhetorical at­tacks; and swell with all the confidence of victory, thus furnished by the muses with the arms which never can be blunted, and which no art or strength of their adversaries can elude or resist.

IT was well known by experience to the nations which employed elephants in war, that, though by the terror of their bulk, and the violence of their impression, they often threw the enemy into disorder, yet there was always danger in the use of them, very nearly [Page 184] equivalent to the advantage; for, if their first charge could be supported, they were easily driven back upon their confederates, they then broke through the troops behind them, and made no less havock in the precipitation of their retreat, than in the fury of their onset.

I KNOW not whether those, who have so vehemently urged the inconveniences and dan­gers of an active life, have not made use of arguments that may be retorted with equal force upon themselves; and whether the hap­piness of a candidate for literary fame be not subject to the same uncertainty with that of him who governs provinces, or commands armies, presides in the senate, or dictates in the cabinet.

THAT eminence of learning is not to be gained without labour, at least equal to that which any other kind of greatness can require, will scarcely be denied by those who wish to elevate the character of a scholar; since they cannot but know, that every human acquisiti­on is valuable in proportion to the difficulty implied in its attainment. And that those, who have gained the esteem and veneration [Page 135] of the world, by their knowledge or their genius, are by no meanes exempt from the solicitude which any other kind of dignity produces, may be conjectured from the innu­merable artifices which they make use of to degrade a superior, to repress a rival, or ob­struct a follower; artifices so gross and mean, as to be an evident proof, how easily a man may excel in learning, without being either more wise or more virtuous than those whose igno­rance he pities or despises.

NOTHING therefore remains, by which the student can gratify his desire of appearing to have built his happiness on a more firm basis than his antagonist, except the certainty with which his honours are enjoyed. The garlands gained by the heroes of literature must be gathered from summits equally difficult to climb with those that bear the civic or tri­umphal wreaths, they must be worn with equal envy, and guarded with equal care from those hands that are always employed in efforts to tear them away; the only remaining hope is, that their verdure is more lasting, and that they are less likely to fade by time, or less ob­noxious to the blasts of accident.

[Page 186] EVEN this hope will receive very little en­couragement from the examination of the his­tory of learning, or observation of the fate of scholars in the present age. If we look back into past times, we find innumerable names of authors once in high reputation, read perhaps by the beautiful, quoted by the witty, and commented by the grave; but of whom we now know only that they once existed. If we consider the distribution of literary fame in our own time, we shall find it a possession of very uncertain tenure; sometimes bestowed by a sudden caprice of the publick, and again transferred to a new favourite, for no other reason than that he is new; sometimes refused to long labour and eminent desert, and some­times granted to very slight pretensions; lost sometimes by security and negligence, and sometimes by too diligent endeavours to retain it.

A SUCCESSFUL author is equally in danger of the diminution of his fame, whether he continues or ceases to write. The regard of the publick is not to be kept but by tribute, and the remembrance of past service will quickly languish unless successive performances [Page 187] frequently revive it. Yet in every new at­tempt there is new hazard, and there are few who do not, at some unlucky time, injure their own characters by attempting to enlarge them.

THERE are many possible causes of that inequality which we may so frequently observe in the performances of the same man, from the influence of which no ability or industry is sufficiently secured, and which have so often sullied the splendour of genius, that the wit, as well as the conqueror, may be properly cautioned not to indulge his pride with too early triumphs, but to defer to the end of life his estimate of happiness.

—Ultima semper
Expectanda dies homini, dicique beatus
Ante obitum nemo, supremaque funera debet.

AMONG the motives that urge an author to undertakings by which his reputation is impair­ed, one of the most frequent must be mention­ed with tenderness, because it is not to be counted among his follies, but his miseries. It very often happens that the works of learning or of wit are performed at the direction of those by whom they are to be rewarded; the [Page 188] writer has not always the choice of his sub­ject, but is compelled to accept any task which is thrown before him, without much considera­tion of his own convenience, and without time to prepare himself for the execution by previous studies.

Miscarriages of this kind are likewise fre­quently the consequences of that acquaintance with the great, which is generally considered as one of the chief privileges of literature and genius. A man, who has once learned to think himself exalted by familiarity with those, whom nothing but their birth, or their fortunes, or such stations as are seldom gained by moral excellence, set above him, will not be long without submitting his understanding to their conduct; he will suffer them to pre­scribe the course of his studies, and employ him for their own purposes either of diversion or interest. His desire of pleasing those whose favour he has weakly made necessary to him­self, will not suffer him always to consider how little he is qualified for the work imposed. Either his vanity will tempt him to conceal his deficiences, or that cowardice, which always encroaches fast upon such as spend their lives in the company of persons higher than them­selves, [Page 189] will not leave him resolution to assert the liberty of choice.

BUT though we suppose that a man by his fortune can avoid the necessity of dependance, and by his spirit can repel the usurpations of patronage, yet he may easily, by writing long, happen to write ill. There is a general suc­cession of effects, in which contraries are pro­duced by periodical vicissitudes; labour and care are rewarded with success, success produ­ces confidence, confidence relaxes industry, and negligence ruins that reputation which accuracy had raised.

He that happens not to be lulled by praise into supineness, may be animated by it to un­dertakings above his strength, or incited to fancy himself alike qualified for every kind of composition, and able to comply with the public taste through all its variations. By some opinion like this, many men have been engaged at an advanced age, in attempts which they had not time to complete, and, after a few weak efforts, sunk into the grave with vexation to see the rising generation gain ground upon them. That judgment which appears so penetrating, when it is employ­ed [Page 190] upon the works of others, very often fails in performances where interest or passion can exert their power. We are blinded in examin­ing our own labours by innumerable prejudi­ces. Our juvenile compositions please us, be­cause they bring to our minds the remembrance of youth; our later performances we are rea­dy to esteem, because we are unwilling to think that we have made no improvement; what flows easily from the pen charms us, be­cause we read with pleasure that which flatters our opinion of our own powers; what was composed with great struggles of the mind we are unwilling to reject, because we cannot bear that so much labour should be fruitless. But the reader has none of these prepossessions, and wonders that the author is so unlike him­self, without considering that the same soil will, with different culture, afford different products.

NUMB. 22. SATURDAY June 2, 1750.

—Ego nec studium sine divite venâ,
Nec rude quid prosit video ingenium, alterius sic
Altera poscit opem res, & conjurat amicé.

WIT and LEARNING were the children of Apollo, by different mothers; WIT was the offspring of Euphrosyne, and resembled her in chearfulness and vivacity; LEARNING was born of Sophia, and retained her seriousness and caution. As their mothers were rivals, they were bred up by them, from their birth, in habitual opposition, and all means were so incessantly employed to impress upon them a hatred and contempt of each other, that though Apollo, who foresaw the ill effects of their discord, endeavoured to soften them, by dividing his regard equally between them, yet his impartiality and kind­ness were without effect; the maternal ani­mosity was deeply rooted, having been inter­mingled with their first ideas, and was con­firmed every hour, as fresh opportunities occurred of exerting it. No sooner were they of age to be received into the apartments of [Page 192] the other celestials, than WIT began to enter­tain Venus at her toilet, by aping the solemnity of LEARNING, and LEARNING to divert Minerva at her loom, by exposing the blunders and ignorance of WIT.

THUS they grew up, with malice perpetually increasing, by the encouragement which each received from those whom their mothers had persuaded to patronise and support them; and each longed to be admitted to the table of Jupiter, not so much for the hope of gaining honour, as of excluding a rival from all pre­tensions to regard, and of putting an ever­lasting stop to the progress of that influence which each believed the other obtained by mean arts and false appearances.

AT last the day came, when they were both, with the usual solemnities, received into the class of superior deities, and allowed to take nectar from the hand of Hebe. But from that hour Concord lost her authority at the ta­ble of Jupiter. The rivals, animated by their new dignity, and incited by the alternate ap­plauses of the other powers, harrassed each other by incessant contests, with such a regular [Page 193] vicissitude of victory, that neither was depressed.

IT was observable, that at the beginning of every debate, the advantage was on the side of WIT; and that, at the first sallies, the whole assembly sparkled, according to Homer's ex­pression, with unextinguishable merriment. But LEARNING would reserve her strength till the burst of applause was over, and the languor, with which the violence of joy is alway suc­ceeded, began to promise more calm and patient attention. She then attempted her defence, and, by comparing one part of her antagonist's objections with another, com­monly made him confute himself; or, by shewing how small a part of the question he had taken into his view, proved that his opinion could have no weight. The audience began gradually to lay aside their prepossessions, and rose, at last, with great veneration for LEARNING, but with greater kindness for WIT.

THEIR conduct was, whenever they de­sired to recommend themselves to distinction, entirely opposite. WIT was daring and ad­venturous; LEARNING cautious and delibe­rate. [Page 149] WIT thought nothing reproachful but dulness; LEARNING was afraid of no impu­tation, but that of error. WIT answered be­fore he understood, lest his quickness of ap­prehension should be questioned; LEARNING paused, where there was no difficulty, lest any insidious sophism should lie undiscovered. WIT perplexed every debate by rapidity and confusion; LEARNING tired the hearers with endless distinctions, and prolonged the dispute without advantage, by proving that which never was denied. WIT, in hopes of shin­ing, would venture to produce what he had not considered, and often succeeded beyond his own expectation, by following the train of a lucky thought; LEARNING would reject every new notion, for fear of being intangled in consequences which she could not foresee, and was often hindered, by her caution, from pressing her advantages, and subduing her opponent.

BOTH had prejudices, which in some degree hindered their progress towards perfection, and left them open to attacks. Novelty was the darling of WIT, and antiquity of LEARNING. TO WIT, all that was new, was specious; to LEARNING, whatever was antient, was [Page 195] venerable. WIT, however, seldom failed to divert those whom he could not convince, and to convince was not often his ambition; LEARNING always supported her opinion with so many collateral truths, that, when the cause was decided against her, her arguments were remembered with admiration.

NOTHING was more common, on either side, than to quit their proper characters, and to hope for a compleat conquest by the use of the weapons which had been employed against them. WIT would sometimes labour a syllogism, and LEARNING distort her features with a jest; but they always suffered by the experiment, and betrayed themselves to con­futation or contempt. The seriousness of WIT was without dignity, and the merri­ment of LEARNING without vivacity.

THEIR contests, by long continuance, grew at last important, and the divinities broke into parties. WIT was taken into the protection of the laughter-loving Venus, had a retinue allowed him of SMILES and JESTS, and was often permitted to dance among the GRACES. LEARNING still continued the favourite of Minerva, and seldom went out of [Page 196] her palace, without a train of the severer virtues, chastity, temperance, fortitude, and labour. WIT, cohabiting with malice, had a son named SATYR, who followed him, carrying a quiver filled with poisoned arrows, which, where they once drew blood, could by no skill ever be extracted. These arrows he frequently shot at LEARNING, when she was most earnestly or usefully employed, en­gaged in abstruse inquiries, or giving instruc­tions to her followers. Minerva, therefore, deputed CRITICISM to her aid, who generally broke the point of SATYR'S arrows, turned them aside, or retorted them on himself.

JUPITER was at last angry, that the peace of the heavenly regions should be in perpetual danger of violation, and resolved to dismiss these troublesome antagonists to the lower world. Hither therefore they came, and carried on their antient quarrel among mortals, nor was either long without zealous votaries. WIT, by his gaiety, captivated the young; and LEARNING, by her authority, influenced the old. Their power quickly appeared by very eminent effects, theatres were built for the re­ception of wit, and colleges endowed for the residence of LEARNING. Each party endea­voured [Page 197] to outvy the other in cost and magnifi­cence, and to propagate an opinion, that it was necessary, from the first entrance into life, to enlist in one of the factions; and that none could hope for the regard of either divinity, who had once entered the temple of the rival power.

THERE were indeed a class of mortals, by whom WIT and LEARNING were equally disregarded: These were the devotees of Plutus, the god of riches; among these it seldom happened that the gaiety of WIT could raise a smile, or the eloquence of LEARNING procure attention. In revenge of this contempt, they agreed to incite their followers against them; but the forces that were sent on those expeditions frequently be­trayed their trust; and, in contempt of the orders which they had received, flattered the rich in public, while they scorned them in their hearts; and when, by this treachery, they had obtained the favour of Plutus, very frequently affected to look with an air of superiority on those who still remained in the service of WIT and LEARNING.

DISGUSTED with these desertions, the two [Page 198] rivals, at the same time, petitioned Jupiter for re-admission to their native habitations, Jupiter thundered on the right-hand, and they prepared to obey the happy summons. WIT readily spread his wings, and soared aloft, but not being able to see far, was be wildered in the pathless immensity of the ethereal spaces. LEARNING, who knew the way, shook her pinions; but for want of natural vigour could only take short flights: so, after many efforts, they both sunk again to the ground, and learned, from their mutual distress, the necessity of union. They therefore joined their hands, and renewed their flight: LEARNING was borne up by the vigour of WIT, and WIT guided by the perspicacity of LEARNING. They soon reached the dwellings of Jupiter, and were so endeared to each other, that they lived afterwards in perpetual concord. WIT persuaded LEARNING to converse with the GRACES, and LEARNING engaged WIT in the service of the VIRTUES. They were now the favourites of all the powers of heaven, and gladdened every banquet by their presence. They soon after married, at the command of Jupiter, and had a numerous progeny of ARTS and SCIENCES.

NUMB. 23. TUESDAY June 5, 1750.

Tres mihi convivae prope dissentire videntur;
Poscentur vario multum diversa palato.

THAT every man should regulate his acti­ons by his own conscience, without any regard to the opinions of the rest of the world, is one of the first precepts of moral prudence; justified not only by the suffrage of reason, which declares that none of the gifts of heaven are to lie useless, but by the voice likewise of experience, which will soon inform us that, if we make the praise or blame of others the rule or motive of our conduct, we shall be distracted by a boundless variety of irreconcileable judgments; be held in per­petual suspense between contrary impulses, and consult for ever without determination.

I KNOW not whether, for the same reason, it is not necessary for an author to place some confidence in his own skill, and to satisfy himself in the knowledge that he has not devi­ated from the established rules of compositi­on, without submitting his works to frequent examinations before he gives them to the pub­lick, [Page 200] or endeavouring to secure succses by a solicitous conformity to advice and criticism.

IT is, indeed, quickly discoverable, that consultation and compliance can conduce very little to the perfection of any literary perfor­mance; for whoever is so doubtful of his own abilities as to encourage the advice and remarks of others, will find himself every day embar­rassed with new difficulties, and will harrass his mind, in vain, with the hopeless labour of uniting heterogeneous ideas, digesting inde­pendent hints, and collecting into one point the several rays of borrowed light, emitted of­ten with contrary directions.

OF all authors, those who retail their la­bours in periodical sheets would be most un­happy, if they were much to regard the cen­sures or the admonitions of their readers; for, as their works are not sent into the world at once, but by small parts in gradual succession, it is always imagined, by those who think them­selves qualified to give instructions, that they may yet redeem their former failings by hear­kening to better judges, supply by new im­provements the deficiencies of their plan, and make every day advances towards perfection, [Page 201] by the help of the criticisms which are so li­berally afforded.

I HAVE had occasion to observe, sometimes with vexation, and sometimes with merri­ment, the different temper with which the same man reads a printed and manuscript per­formance. When a book is once in the hands of the public, it is considered as per­manent and unalterable; and the reader, if he be free from personal prejudices, takes it up with no other intention than of pleasing or in­structing himself; he, therefore, accomo­dates his mind to the author's design, and, ha­ving no interest in refusing the amusement that is offered him, never interrupts his own tranqullity by studied cavils, or destroys his satisfaction in that which is already well, by an anxious enquiry how it might be better; but is often contented without pleasure, and pleased without perfection.

BUT if the same man be called to consider the merit of a production yet unpublished, he brings an imagination heated with objections to passages, which he has yet never heard, he invokes all the powers of criticism, and stores his me­mory with Taste, and Grace, and Purity, and [Page 202] Delicacy, and Manners, and Unities, sounds which, having been once uttered by those that understood them, have been since re-echo­ed without meaning, and kept up to the dis­turbance of the world, by a constant reper­cussion from one coxcomb to another. He considers himself as obliged to shew, by some proof of his abilities, that he is not consulted to no purpose, and, therefore, watches every opening for objection, and looks round for every opportunity to propose some specious alteration. Such opportunities a very small degre of sagacity will enable him to find; for, in every work of imagination, the disposition of parts, the insertion of incidents, and use of decorations, may be varied a thousand ways with equal propriety; and as, in things near­ly equal, that will always seem best to every man which he himself produces, the critic, whose business is only to propose, without the care of execution, can never want the sa­tisfaction of believing that he has suggested very important improvements, nor the power of enforcing his advice by arguments, which, as they appear convincing to himself, either his kindness, or his vanity, will press obsti­nately and importunately, without suspicion that he may possibly judge too hastily in favour [Page 203] of his own advice, or inquiry whether the advantage of the new scheme be proportionate to the labour.

IT is observed, by the younger Pliny, that an orator ought not so much to select the best and strongest arguments which his cause ad­mits, as to employ all which his imagination can afford; for, in pleading, those reasons are of most value, which will most affect the judges; and the judges, says he, will be al­ways most touched with that which they had before conceived. Every man, who is called to give his opinion of a performance, decides upon the same principle; he first suffers him­self to form expectations, and then is angry at his disappointment. He lets his imaginati­on rove at large, and wonders that another, equally unconfined in the boundless ocean of possibility, takes a different course.

BUT, though the rule of Pliny be judiciously laid down, it is not applicable to the writer's cause, because there always lies an appeal from domestick criticism to a higher judicature, and the publick, which can never be corrupted, nor often deceived, is to pass the last sentence upon literary claims.

[Page 204] OF the great force of preconceived opinions I had many proofs, when I first entered upon this weekly labour. All my readers having, from the performances of my predecessors, established an idea of unconnected essays, to which they believed all future authors under a necessity of conforming, were impatient of the least deviation from their system, and nu­merous remonstrances were accordingly made by each, as he found his favourite topicks omitted or delayed. Some were angry that the RAMBLER did not, like the SPECTATOR, introduce himself to the acquaintance of the publick, by an account of his own birth and studies, an enumeration of his adventures, and a description of his physiognomy. Others soon began to remark that he was a solemn, serious, dictatorial writer, without sprightliness or gaiety, and called out with vehemence for mirth and humour. Another admonished him to have a special eye upon the various clubs of this great city, and informed him that much of the Spectator's vivacity was laid out upon such assemblies. He has been likewise censured for not imitating the politeness of o­ther writers of the same kind, for having hitherto neglected to take the ladies under his [Page 205] protection, and to give them rules for the just opposition of colours, and the proper dimensi­ons of ruffles and pinners. He has been re­quired by another to fix a particular censure upon those matrons who play at cards with spectacles. And another is very much offend­ed whenever he meets with a speculation, in which naked precepts are comprised, without being enlivened by examples and characters.

I MAKE not the least question that all these monitors intend the promotion of my design, and the pleasure and instruction of my readers; but they do not know, or do not reflect that an author has a rule of choice peculiar to him­self; and selects those subjects which he is best qualified to treat, by the course of his studies, or the accidents of his life; that ma­ny topicks of amusement are exhausted, and are now improper, because they have been alrea­dy treated with too much art to invite a com­petition; and that he who endeavours to gain many readers, must try many arts of invitati­on, essay every avenue of pleasure, and make frequent changes in his methods of ap­proach.

I CANNOT but consider myself amidst this [Page 206] tumult of criticism, as a ship in a poetical tempest, impelled at the same time by opposite winds, and dashed by the waves from every quarter, but held upright by the contrariety of the assailants, and secured, in some mea­sure, by the multiplicity of distress. Had the opinion of my censurers been unanimous, it might, perhaps, have overset my resolution; but since I find them at variance with each other, I can, without scruple, neglect them, and endeavour to gain the favour of the pub­lick, by following the direction of my own reason, and indulging the sallies of my own imagination.

NUMB. 24. SATURDAY June 9, 1750.

‘Nemo in sese tentat descendere. ’PERSIUS.

AMONG the precepts, or aphorisms, admitted by general consent, and in­culcated by frequent repetition, there is none more famous among the masters of antient wisdom, than that compendious lesson, [...], Be acquainted with thyself; ascri­bed by some to an oracle, and by others to Chilo of Lacedemon.

[Page 207] THIS is, indeed, a dictate, which, in the whole extent of its meaning, may be said to comprise all the speculation requisite to a mo­ral agent. For what more can be necessary to the regulation of life, than the knowledge of our original, our end, our duties, and our re­lation to other beings?

IT is however very improbable that the first author, whoever he was, intended to be un­derstood in this unlimited and complicated sense; for of the inquiries, which, in so large an acceptation, it would seem to recommend, some are too extensive for the powers of man, and some require light from above, which was not yet indulged to the heathen world.

WE might have had more satisfaction con­cerning the original import of this celebrated sentence, if history had informed us, whe­ther it was uttered as a general instruction to mankind, or as a particular caution to some private inquirer; whether it was applied to some single occasion, or laid down as the uni­versal rule of life.

THERE will occur, upon the slightest [Page 208] consideration many possible circumstances, in which this monition might very properly be inforced; for every error in human conduct must arise from ignorance in ourselves, either perpetual, or temporary; and prevail either because we do not know what is best and fit­test, or because knowledge is at the time of action not present to the mind.

WHEN a man employs himself upon remote and unnecessary subjects, and wastes his life upon questions, which cannot be resolved, and of which the solution would conduce very lit­tle to the advancement of happiness; when he bewilders his understanding in uncertain hy­potheses, and harrasses his faculties with need­less subtilties; when he lavishes his hours in calculating the weight of the terraqueous globe, or in adjusting successive systems of worlds be­yond the reach of the telescope; he may be very properly recalled from his excursions by this precept, and reminded that there is a being with which it is his duty, and his inte­rest to be more acquainted; and from which, though he cannot neglect it without the ut­most danger, his attention has hitherto been withheld, by his regard to studies, which he [Page 209] has no other motive to follow, than such as either vanity or curiosity produce.

THE great praise of Socrates is, that he drew the wits of Greece, by his instruction and example, from the vain persuit of natu­ral philosophy to moral inquiries, and turned their thoughts from stars and tides, and mat­ter and motion, upon the various modes of virtue, and relations of life. All his lectures were but commentaries upon this saying; if we suppose the knowledge of ourselves recom­mended by Chilo, in opposition to other in­quiries less suitable to the state of man.

THE great fault of men of learning is still, that they offend against this rule, and appear willing to study any thing rather than them­selves; for which reason they are too often despised by those, with whom they imagine themselves above comparison; despised, as use­less to all the common purposes of life, as un­able to conduct the most trivial affairs, and unqualified to perform those offices by which the concatenation of society is preserved, and mutual tenderness excited and maintained.

GELIDUS is a man of great penetration, [Page 210] and deep researches. Having a mind natural­ly formed for the abstruser sciences, he can comprehend intricate combinations without confusion, and being of a temper naturally cool and equal, he is seldom interrupted by his passions in the persuit of the longest chain of unexpected consequences. He has, there­fore, a long time indulged hopes, that the solution of some problems, by which the profes­sors of science have been hitherto baffled, is re­served for his genius and industry. He spends his time in the highest room of his house, into which none of his family are suffered to enter; and when he comes down to his dinner, or his rest, he walks about like a stranger that is there only for a day, without any tokens of regard or tenderness. He has totally divested him­self of all human sensations; he has neither eye for beauty, nor ear for complaint; he neither rejoices at the good fortune of his near­est friend, nor mourns for any publick or pri­vate calamity. Having once received a letter which appeared to have been sent by sea, and given it his servant to read, he was informed, that it was written by his brother, who, being ship-wrecked, had swum naked to land, and was destitute of necessaries in a foreign coun­try. Naked and destitute! says Gelidus, [Page 211] reach down the last volume of meteorological observations, extract from the letter an exact account of the wind, and note it carefully in the diary of the weather.

THE family of Gelidus once broke into his study, to shew him that a town at a small dis­tance was on fire, and in a few moments a servant came up to tell him, that the flame had caught so many houses on both sides, that the inhabitants were confounded, and began to think rather of escaping with their lives, than saving their dwellings. What you tell me, says Gelidus, is very probable, for fire natural­ly acts in a circle.

THUS lives this great philosopher, insen­sible to every spectacle of distress, and unmo­ved by the loudest call of social nature, for want of considering that men are designed for the succour and comfort of each other; that, though there are hours which may be laudably spent upon knowledge not immediately useful, yet the first attention is due to practical virtue; and that he may be justly driven out from the commerce of mankind, who has so far abstracted himself from the species, as to partake neither of the joys nor griefs of others, [Page 212] but neglects the endearments of his wife, and the caresses of his children, to count the drops of rain, note the changes of the wind, and cal­culate the eclipses of the moons of Jupiter.

I SHALL reserve to some future paper the more religious and important meanings of this epitome of wisdom, and only remark at pre­sent, that it may be applied to the gay and light, as well as to the grave and solemn parts of life; and that not only the philosopher may forfeit his pretences to real learning by neglect­ing this necessary study, but that the wit, and the beauty, may miscarry in their schemes, for want of this universal requisite, the know ledge of themselves.

IT is surely for no other reason, that we see such numbers, in every order of mankind, re­solutely struggling against nature, and contend­ing for that which they never can attain, en­deavouring to unite contradictions, and de­termined to excel in characters inconsistent with each other; that stock-jobbers affect dress, gaiety, and elegance, and that mathe­maticians labour to be wits; that the soldier teazes his acquaintance with questions in theo­logy, and the academick hopes to divert the [Page 213] ladies by a recital of his gallantries. That absurdity of pride could proceed only from ignorance of themselves, by which Garth at­tempted criticism, and Congreve waved his ti­tle to dramatick reputation, and desired to be considered only as a gentleman.

EUPHUES, with great parts, and extensive knowledge, has a clouded aspect, and ungra­cious form; yet it has been his ambition, from his first entrance into life, to distinguish him­self by particularities in his dress, to outvie beaus in embroidery, to import new trimmings, and to be foremost in the fashion. Euphues has turned on his exterior appearance, that attention, which would always have produced esteem had it been fixed upon his mind; and, though his real virtues, and acknowledged abi­lities, have preserved him from the contempt which he has so diligently solicited, he has, at least, raised one impediment to his reputation; since all can judge of his dress, but few of his understanding; and many who discern that he is a fop, are unwilling to believe that he can be wise, or learned.

THERE is one instance in which the ladies are particularly unwilling to observe the rule [Page 214] of Chilo. They are desirous to hide from themselves the advances of age, and endeavour too frequently to supply the sprightliness and bloom of youth by artificial beauty, and for­ced vivacity. They hope still to inflame the heart by glances which have lost their fire, or melt it by languor which is no longer delicate; they play over the airs which pleased at a time when they were expected only to please, and forget that airs ought in time to give place to virtues. They continue to trifle, because they could once trifle agreeably, till those who shared their early pleasures are withdrawn to more serious engagements; and are scarcely awakened from their dream of perpetual youth, but by frequent experience of the scorn of those whom they endeavour to rival.

NUMB. 25. TUESDAY, June 12, 1750.

‘Possunt quia posse videntur. ’VIRGIL.

THERE are some vices and errors, which, though often fatal to those in whom they are found, have yet, by the universal consent of mankind, been considered as entitled [Page 215] to some degree of respect, or have, at least, been exempted from contemptuous infamy, and condemned by the severest moralists with pity rather than detestation.

A CONSTANT and invariable example of this general partiality will be found in the dif­ferent regard which has always been shown to rashness and cowardice, two vices, of which, though they may be conceived equally distant from the middle point, where true fortitude is placed, and may equally injure any publick or private interest, yet the one is never mention­ed without some kind of veneration, and the other always considered as a topick of unli­mited and licentious censure, on which all the virulence of reproach may be lawfully exerted.

THE same distinction is made, by the com­mon suffrage, between profusion and avarice, and, perhaps, between many other opposite vices: and, as I have found reason to pay great regard to the voice of the people, in most cases where knowledge has been forced upon them by experience without long deduc­tions or deep researches, I am inclined to be­lieve that this distribution of respect, however [Page 216] unequal it may appear at first view, is not without some agreement with the nature of things; and that in the faults, which are thus invested with extraordinary privileges, there are generally some latent principles of merit, some possibilities of future virtue, which may, by degrees, break from obstruction, and by time and opportunity be brought into act.

IT may be laid down, as an acknowledged axiom, that it is more easy to take away super­fluities than to supply defects; and, therefore, he that is culpable, because he has passed the middle point of virtue, is always accounted a fairer object of hope, than he who fails by falling short. The one has all that perfection requires and more, but the excess may be easily retrenched; the other wants the quali­ties requisite to excellence, and who can tell how he shall obtain them? We are certain that the horse may be taught to keep pace with his fellows, whose fault is that he leaves them behind. We know that a few strokes of the axe will lop a cedar; but what arts of cultivation can elevate a shrub?

TO walk with circumspection and steadiness in the right path, at an equal distance between [Page 217] the extremes of error, ought to be the constant endeavour of every reasonable being; nor can I think those teachers of moral wisdom much to be honoured as benefactors to mankind, who are always enlarging upon the difficulty of our duties, and providing rather excuses for vice, than incentives to virtue.

BUT, since to most it will happen often, and to all sometimes, that there will be a deviation towards one side or the other, we ought always to employ our vigilance, with most attention, on that enemy from which there is greatest danger, and to stray, if we must stray, towards those parts, from whence it is probable that we shall quickly and easily return.

AMONG other opposite qualities of the mind, which may become dangerous, though in different degrees, I have often had occasion to consider the contrary effects of presumption and despondency; of heady confidence, which promises victory without contest, and heartless pusillanimity, which shrinks back from the thoughts of great undertakings, confounds difficulty with impossibility, and considers all advancement towards any new attainment as irreversibly prohibited.

[Page 218] PRESUMPTION will be easily corrected. Every experiment will teach caution, and mis­carriages will hourly shew, that attempts are not always rewarded with success. The most precipitate ardour will, in time, be taught the necessity of methodical gradation, and prepa­ratory measures; and the most daring confi­dence be convinced that neither merit, nor abi­lities, can command events.

IT is the advantage of vehemence and activi­ty, that they are always hastening to their own reformation; because they always incite us to try whether our expectations are well grounded, and therefore detect the deceits which they are apt to occasion. But timidity is a disease of the mind more obstinate and fatal; for he who is once persuaded, that any impediment is in­superable, has given it, with respect to him­self, that strength and weight which it had not before. He can scarcely strive with vigour and perseverance, when he has no hope of gaining the victory; and since he never will try his strength, can never discover the unreasonable­ness of his fears.

THERE is often to be found in men devoted [Page 219] to literature, a kind of intellectual cowardice, which whoever converses much among them may observe frequently to depress the alacrity of enterprise, and, by consequence, to retard the improvement of science. They have an­nexed to every species of knowledge some chimerical character of terror and inhibition, which they transmit, without much reflection, from one to another, and with which they first fright themselves, and then propagate the pa­nic to their scholars and acquaintance. One study is inconsistent with a lively imagination, another with a solid judgment; one is impro­per in the early parts of life, another requires so much time, that it is not to be attempted at an advanced age; one is dry and contracts the sentiments, another is diffuse and overbur­dens the memory; one is insufferable to taste and delicacy, and another wears out life in the study of words, and is useless to a wise man, who desires only the knowledge of things.

BUT of all the bugbears by which the In­fantes barbati, boys both young and old, have been hitherto frighted from digressing into new tracts of learning, none has been more mis­chievously efficacious than an opinion that e­very kind of knowledge requires a peculiar ge­nius, [Page 220] or mental constitution, framed for the reception of some ideas, and the exclusion of others; and that to him whose genius is not adapted to the study which he prosecutes, all labour shall be vain and fruitless, vain as an en­deavour to mingle oil and water, or, in the language of chemistry, to amalgamate bodies of heterogeneous principles.

THIS opinion we may reasonably suspect to have been propagated, by vanity, beyond the truth. It is natural for those who have raised a reputation by any science, to exalt themselves as endowed by heaven with peculiar powers, or marked out by an extraordinary designation for their profession; and to fright competitors away by representing the difficulties with which they must contend, and the necessity of qualities which are supposed to be not generally conferred, and which no man can know, but by experience, whether he enjoys.

TO this discouragement it may be possibly answered, that since a genius, whatever it be, is like fire in the flint, only to be produced by collision with a proper subject, it is the business of every man to try whether his faculties may not happily co-operate with his desires; and [Page 221] since they whose proficiency he admires, knew their own force only by the event, he needs but engage in the same undertaking, with equal spirit, and may reasonably hope for equal success.

THERE is another species of false intelli­gence, given by those who profess to shew the way to the summit of knowledge, of equal tendency to depress the mind with false distrust of itself, and weaken it by needless solicitude and dejection. When a scholar, whom they desire to animate, consults them at his entrance on some new study, it is common to make flat­tering representations of its pleasantness and facility. Thus they generally attain one of two ends almost equally desirable; they either incite his industry by elevating his hopes, or produce a high opinion of their own abilities, since they are supposed to relate only what they have found, and to have proceeded with no less ease than they promise to their fol­lowers.

THE student inflamed by this encourage­ment sets forward in the new path, and pro­ceeds a few steps with great alacrity, but he soon finds asperities and intricacies of which he has [Page 222] not been forewarned, and imagining that none ever were so entangled or fatigued before him, sinks suddenly into despair, and desists as from an expedition in which fate opposes him. Thus his terrors are multiplied by his hopes, and he is defeated without resistance, because he had no expectation of an enemy.

OF these treacherous instructors, the one de­stroys industry, by declaring that industry is vain, the other by representing it as needless; the one cuts away the root of hope, the other raises it only to be blasted. The one confines his pupil to the shore, by telling him that his wreck is certain, the other sends him to sea, without preparing him for tempests.

FALSE hopes and false terrors are equally to be avoided. Every man, who proposes to grow eminent by learning, should carry in his mind, at once, the difficulty of excellence and the force of industry; and remember that same is not conferred but as the recompense of labour, and that labour, vigorously continued, has not often failed of its reward.

NUMB. 26, SATURDAY, June 1, 1750.

Ingentes dominos, et clarae nomina famae,
Illustrique graves nobilitate domos
Devita, et longè cautus fuge; contrahe vela,
Et te littoribus cymba propinqua vehat.

IT is usual for men, engaged in the same persuits, to be inquisitive after the conduct and fortune of each other; and, therefore, I suppose it will not be unpleasing to you, to read an account of the various changes which have happened in part of a life devoted to literature. My narrative will not exhibit any great variety of events, or extraordinary revolutions; but may, perhaps, be not less useful, because I shall relate nothing which is not likely to happen to a thousand others.

I WAS born heir to a very small fortune, and left by my father, whom I cannot remember, to the care of an uncle, who, having no chil­dren, always treated me as his son, and find­ing in me those qualities which old men easily discover in sprightly children, when they hap­pen to love them, declared that a genius like [Page 224] mine should never be lost for want of cultivati­on. He therefore placed me, for the usual time, at a great school, and then sent me to the university, with a larger allowance than my own patrimony would have afforded, that I might not keep mean company, but learn to become my dignity when I should be made lord chancellor, which he often lamented, that the increase of his infirmities was very likely to preclude him from seeing.

THIS exuberance of money naturally dis­played itself in gayety of appearance, and wantonness of expence, and introduced me to the acquaintance of those whom the same superfluity of fortune betrayed to the same li­cence and ostentation: Young heirs, who pleased themselves with a remark very frequent in their mouths, that though they were sent by their fathers to the university, they were not under the necessity of living by their learn­ing.

AMONG men of this class I easily obtained the reputation of a great genius, and was per­suaded that, with such liveliness of imagina­tion, and delicacy of sentiment, I should ne­ver be able to submit to the drudgery of the [Page 225] law. I therefore gave myself wholly to the more airy and elegant parts of learning, and was often so much elated with my superiority to the youths with whom I conversed, that I began to listen, with great attention, to those that recommended to me a wider and more conspicuous theatre; and was particu­larly touched with an observation, made by one of my friends; That it was not by lin­gering in the university, that Prior became ambassador, or Addison secretary of state.

THIS desire was hourly increased by the solicitation of my companions, who removing one by one to London as the caprice of their relations allowed them, or as their legal dis­mission from the hands of their guardians put it in their power, never failed to send an account of the beauty and felicity of the new world, and to remonstrate how much was lost by every hour's continuance in a place of retirement and constraint.

My uncle in the mean time frequently har­rassed me with monitory letters, which I some­times neglected to open for a week after I re­ceived them, and generally read in a tavern with such comments as might shew how much [Page 226] I was superior to instruction or advice. I could not but wonder, how a man con­fined to the country, and unacquainted with the present system of things, should ima­gine himself qualified to instruct a rising geni­us, born to give laws to the age, refine its taste, and multiply its pleasures.

THE postman, however, still continued to bring me new remonstrances; for my uncle was very little depressed by the ridicule and reproach which he never heard. But men of parts have quick resentments; it was impossi­ble to bear his usurpations for ever; and I re­solved, once for all, to make him an example to those who imagine themselves wise because they are old, and to teach young men, who are too tame under representation, in what manner grey-bearded insolence ought to be treated. I, therefore, one evening took my pen in hand, and, after having animated my­self with a catch, wrote a general answer to all his precepts, with such vivacity of turn, such elegance of irony, and such asperity of sarcasm, that I convulsed a large company with universal laughter, disturbed the neigh­bourhood with vociserations of applause, and [Page 227] five days afterwards was answered, that I must be content to live upon my own estate.

THIS contraction of my income gave me no disturbance, for a genius like mine was out of the reach of want. I had friends that would be proud to open their purses at my call, and prospects of such advancement as would soon reconcile my uncle, whom, upon mature deliberation, I resolved to receive into favour, without insisting on any acknowledgment of his offence, when the splendour of my condi­tion should induce him to wish for my coun­tenance. I, therefore, went up to London, before I had shewn the alteration of my con­dition by any abatement of my way of living, and was received by all my academical ac­quaintance with triumph and congratulation. I was immediately introduced among the wits and men of spirit; and, in a short time, had divested myself of all my scholar's gravity, and obtained the reputation of a pretty fel­low.

YOU will easily believe that I had no great knowledge of the world; yet I had been hin­dered, by the general disinclination every man feels to confess poverty, from telling to any [Page 228] one the resolution of my uncle, and for some time subsisted upon the stock of money which I had brought with me, and contributed my share as before to all our entertainments. But my pocket was soon emptied, and I was obliged to ask my friends for a small sum. This was a favour, which we had often reciprocally re­ceived from one another; they supposed my wants only accidental, and therefore willing­ly supplied them. In a short time, I found a necessity of asking again, and was again treated with the same civility; but the third time they began to wonder what that old rogue my uncle could mean by sending a gentleman to town without money; and when they gave me what I asked for, advised me to stipulate for more regular remittances.

THIS somewhat disturbed my dream of constant affluence, but I was three days after completely awaked; for entering the tavern, where we met every evening, I found the waiters remitted their complaisance, and, in­stead of contending to light me up stairs, suf­fered me to wait for some minutes by the bar. When I came to my company I found them unusually grave and formal, and one of them took a hint to turn the conversation upon the [Page 229] misconduct of young men, and enlarged upon the folly of frequenting the company of men of fortune, without being able to support the expence, an observation which the rest con­tributed either to enforce by repetition, or to illustrate by examples. Only one of them tri­ed to divert the discourse, and endeavoured to direct my attention to remote questions, and common topicks.

A MAN guilty of poverty easily believes himself suspected, I went, however, next morn­ing to breakfast with him who appeared igno­rant of the drift of the conversation, and by a series of enquiries, drawing still nearer to the point, prevailed on him, not, perhaps, much against his will, to inform me, that Mr Dash, whose father was a wealthy attorney near my native place, had, the morning before, receiv­ed an account of my uncle's resentment, and communicated his intelligence with the utmost industry of groveling insolence.

IT was now no longer practicable to consort with my former friends, unless I would be content to be used as an inferior guest, who was to pay for his wine by mirth and flattery; a character, which, if I could not escape it, I [Page 230] resolved to endure only among those who had never known me in the pride of plenty. I therefore changed my lodgings, and frequented the coffee-houses in a different region of the town; where I was very quickly distinguished by several young gentlemen of high birth, and large estates, and began again to amuse my imagination with hopes of preferment, though not quite so confidently as when I had less experience.

THE first great conquest which this new scene enabled me to gain over myself, was, when I submitted to confess to a party, who invited me to an expensive diversion, that my revenues were not equal to such golden plea­sures; they would not suffer me, however, to stay behind, and with great reluctance I yield­ed to be treated. I took that opportunity of recommending myself to some office, or employment, which they unanimously promi­sed to procure me by their joint interest.

I HAD now entered into a state of depen­dence, and had hopes, or fears, from almost every man whom I saw. If it be unhappy to have one patron, what is his misery who has many? I was obliged to comply with a thou­sand [Page 231] caprices, to concur in a thousand follies, and to countenance a thousand errors. I en­dured innumerable mortifications, if not from cruelty, at least from negligence, which will creep in upon the kindest and most delicate minds, when they converse without the mutu­al awe of equal circumstances. I found the spirit and vigour of liberty every moment sink­ing in me, and a servile fear of displeasing, steal­ing by degrees upon all my behaviour, till no word, or look, or action, was my own. As the solicitude to please increased, the power of pleasing grew less, and I was always clouded with diffidence where it was most my interest and wish to shine.

MY patrons, considering me as belonging to the community, and, therefore, not the charge of any particular person, made no scruple of neglecting any opportunity of pro­moting me, since every one thought it more properly the business of another. An account of my expectations and disappointments, and the succeeding vicissitudes of my life, I shall give you in my following letter, which will be, I hope, of use to shew how ill he forms his schemes, who expects happiness without free­dom.

I am, &c.

NUMB. 27. TUESDAY, June 19, 1750.

—Pauperiem metuens potiore metallis
Libertate caret.—

AS it is natural for every man to think himself of importance, your know­ledge of the world will incline you to forgive me, if I imagine your curiosity so much excited, by the former part of my narration, as to make you desire that I should proceed without any unnecessary arts of con­nection. I shall, therefore, not keep you longer in such suspense, as, perhaps, my performance may not compensate.

IN the gay company with which I was now united, I found those allurements and delights, which the friendship of young men always affords; there was that openness which naturally produced confidence, that affability which, in some measure, softened dependence, and that ardour of prosession which incited hope. When our hearts were dilated with merriment, promises were poured out with [Page 233] unlimited profusion, and life and fortune were but a scanty sacrifice to friendship; but when the hour came, at which any effort was to be made, I had generally the vexation to find, that my interest weighed nothing against the slightest amusement, and that every petty avocation was sound a sufficient plea for con­tinuing me in uncertainty and want. Their kindness was, indeed, sincere; when they promised they had no intention to deceive, but the same juvenile warmth which kindled their benevolence, gave force in the same proportion to every other passion, and I was forgotten as soon as any new pleasure seized on their attention.

VAGARIO told me one evening, that all my perplexities should be soon at an end, and desired me, from that instant, to throw upon him all care of my fortune, for a post of con­siderable value was that day become vacant, and he knew his interest sufficient to procure it in the morning. He desired me, therefore, to call on him early, that he might be dressed soon enough to wait on the minister before any other application should be made. I came as he appointed, with all the flame of gratitude, and was told by his servant, that [Page 234] having found at his lodgings, when he came home, an acquaintance, who was going to travel, he had been persuaded to accompany him to Dover, and that they had taken post­horses two hours before day.

I WAS once very near to preferment, by the kindness of Charinus, who, at my request, went to beg a place, which he thought me likely to fill with great reputation, and in which I should have many opportunities of promoting his interest in return; and he pleased himself with imagining the mutual benefits that we should confer, and the advances that we should make by our united strength. Away therefore he went, equally warm with friendship and ambition, and left me to prepare acknowledgments against his return. At length he came, and told me that he had met in his way a party going to break­fast in the country, that the ladies importuned him too much to be refused, and that having passed the morning with them, he was come back to dress himself for a ball, to which he was invited for the evening.

I HAVE suffered several disappointments from taylors and perriwig-makers, who by [Page 235] neglecting to perform their work withheld my patrons from court; and once failed of an e­stablishment for life by the delay of a servant, sent to a neighbouring shop to replenish a snuff-box.

AT last I thought my solicitude at an end, for an office fell into the gift of Hippodamus's father, who being then in the country, could not very speedily fill it, and whose fondness would not have suffered him to re­fuse his son a less reasonable request. Hippo­damus therefore set forward with great ex­pedition, and I expected every hour an account of his success. A long time I waited with­out any intelligence, but at last received a letter from Newmarket, by which I was in­formed, that, as he had heard on the road, the races were begun, and I knew the vehemence of his passions too well to imagine that he could refuse himself his favourite amusement.

YOU will not wonder that I was at last weary of the patronage of young men, e­specially as I found them not generally to promise much greater fidelity as they advanced in life; for I observed that what they gained in steadiness they lost in benevolence, and [Page 236] grew colder to my interest as they became more diligent to promote their own. I was convinced that their liberality was only pro­fuseness, that, as chance directed, they were equally generous to vice and virtue, that they were warm but because they were thought­less, and counted the support of a friend only amongst other gratifications of passion.

MY resolution was now to ingratiate myself with men whose reputation was established, whose high stations enabled them to prefer me, and whose age exempted them from sudden changes of inclination. I was considered as a man of parts, and therefore easily found admission to the table of Hilarius, the celebrated orator renowned equally for the extent of his knowledge, the elegance of his diction, and the acuteness of his wit. Hilarius received me with an appearance of great satisfaction, pro­duced to me all his friends, and directed to me that part of his discourse in which he most endeavoured to display his imagination. I had now learned my own interest enough to supply him opportunities for smart remarks and gay sallies, which I never failed to ocho and ap­plaud. Thus I was gaining every hour on his affections, till unfortunately, when the as­sembly [Page 237] was more splendid than usual, his de­sire of admiration prompted him to turn his raillery upon me. I bore it for some time with great submission, and his success en­couraged him to redouble his attacks; at last my vanity prevailed over my prudence, I re­torted his irony with such success, that Hila­rius, unaccustomed to resistance, was discon­certed, and soon found means of convincing me that his purpose was not to encourage a rival, but to foster a parasite.

I WAS then taken into the familiarity of Ar­gutio, a nobleman eminent for judgment and criticism. He had contributed to my reputation, by the praises which he had often bestowed upon my writings, in which he always owned that there were proofs of a genius that might rise to high de­grees of excellence, when time, or information, had reduced its exuberance. He therefore always required me to consult him before the publication of any new performance, and commonly propos­ed innumerable alterations, without sufficient at­tention to the general design, and without any re­gard to my form of style, or mode of imagination. But these corrections he never failed to press as indispensably necessary, and thought the least delay of compliance an act of rebellion. [Page 238] The pride of an author made this treatment insufferable, and I thought any tyranny easier to be born than that which took from me the use of my understanding.

MY next patron was Eutyches the states­man, who was wholly engaged in publick affairs, and seemed to have no ambition but to be powerful and rich. I found his favour more permanent than that of the others, for there was always a certain price at which it might be bought; he allowed nothing to humour, or to affection, but was always ready to pay liberally for the service that he required. His demands were, indeed, very often such as virtue could not easily consent to gratify; but virtue is not to be consulted when men are to raise their fortunes by the favour of the great. His measures were censured; I wrote in his defence, and was rewarded with a place, of which the profits were never received by me without the pangs of remembering that they were the reward of wickedness, a reward which nothing but that necessity, which the consumption of my little estate in these wild persuits had brought upon me, hindered me from throwing back in the face of my cor­ruptor.

[Page 239] AT this time my uncle died without a will, and I became heir to a small fortune. I had resolution to throw off the splendour which reproached me to myself, and retire to an humbler state, in which I am now endea­vouring to recover the dignity of virtue, and hope to make some reparation for my crime and follies, by informing others, who may be led after the same pageants, that they are a­bout to engage in a course of life, in which they are to purchase, by a thousand miseries, the privilege of repentance.

I am, &c. EUBULUS.

NUMB. 28, SATURDAY June 23, 1750.

Illi mors gravis incubat,
Qui notus nimis omnibus,
Ignotus moritur sibi.

I HAVE endeavoured, in a late essay, to shew into what errors men are hourly be­trayed by a mistaken opinion of their own powers, and a negligent inspection of their own character. But as I then confined my [Page 240] observations to common occurrences, and fa­miliar scenes, I think it proper to enquire how far a nearer acquaintance with our­selves is necessary to our preservation from crimes as well as follies, and how much the attentive study of our own minds may con­tribute to secure to us the approbation of that being, to whom we are accountable both for our thoughts and our actions, and whose favour must finally constitute our total happi­ness.

IF it be reasonable to estimate the difficulty of any enterprise by the frequent miscarriages of those who undertake it, it may justly be concluded that it is not easy for a man to know himself; for wheresoever we turn our view, we shall find almost all with whom we converse so nearly as to know their sentiments, indulging more favourable conceptions of their own virtue than they have been able to impress upon others, and congratulating themselves upon degrees of excellence, which their fond­est admirers cannot allow them to have at­tained.

THOSE representations of imaginary vir­tue are, generally considered as arts of [Page 241] hypocrisy, and as snares laid for confidence and praise. But, I believe, that this suspicion is often unjust, and that those who thus propagate their own reputation, only ex­tend the fraud by which they have been them­selves deceived; for this failing is incident to numbers, who seem to live without designs, competitions, or persuits; it appears on occa­sions which promise no accession of honour or of profit, and to persons from whom very little is to be hoped or feared. It is, indeed, not easy to tell how far we may be blinded by the love of ourselves, when we reflect how much a secondary passion can cloud our judg­ment, and how few faults a man, in the first raptures of love, can discover in the person or conduct of his mistress.

TO lay open all the sources from which er­ror flows in upon him who contemplates his own character, would require more exact knowledge of the human heart, than, perhaps, the most acute and laborious observers have acquired. And, since falsehood may be diversi­fied without end, it is not unlikely that every man admits an imposture in some respect pecu­liar to himself, as his views have been accidental­ly directed, or his ideas particularly combined.

[Page 242] SOME fallacies, however, there are more frequently insidious, which it may, perhaps, not be useless to detect, because though they are gross they may be fatal, and because no­thing but attention is necessary to defeat them.

ONE sophism by which men persuade them­selves that they have those virtues which they really want, is formed by the substitution of single acts for habits. A miser who once re­lieved a friend from the danger of a prison, suffers his imagination to dwell for ever upon his own heroick generosity; he yields his heart up to indignation at those who are blind to merit, or insensible to misery, and who can please themselves with the enjoyment of that wealth, which they never permit others to partake. From any censures of the world, or reproaches of his conscience, he has an appeal to action and to knowledge; and though his whole life is a course of rapacity and avarice, he concludes himself to be tender and liberal, because he has once performed an act of libera­lity and tenderness.

AS a glass which magnifies objects by the approach of one end to the eye, lessens them [Page 243] by the application of the other, so vices are ex­tenuated by the inversion of that fallacy, by which virtues are augmented. Those faults which we cannot conceal from our own no­tice, are considered, however frequent, not as habitual corruptions, or settled practices, but as casual failures, and single lapses. A man who has, from year to year, set his country to sale, either for the gratification of his am­bition or resentment, confesses that the heat of party now and then betrays the severest vir­tue to measures that cannot be seriously de­fended. He that spends his days and nights in riot and debauchery, owns that his passions oftentimes overpower his resolution. But each comforts himself that his faults are not with­out precedent, for the best and the wisest men have given way to the violence of sudden temptations.

THERE are men who always confound the praise of goodness with the practice, and who believe themselves mild and moderate, chari­table and faithful, because they have exerted their eloquence in commendation of mildness, fidelity, and other virtues. This is an error almost universal among those that converse much with dependents, with such whose fear [Page 244] or interest disposes them to a seeming reve­rence for any declamation, however enthusi­astick, and submission to any boast, however arrogant. Having none to recall their attenti­on to their lives, they rate themselves by the goodness of their opinions, and forget how much more easily men may shew their virtue in their talk than in their actions.

THE tribe is likewise very numerous of those who regulate their lives, not by the stand­ard of religion, but the measure of other men's virtue; who lull their own remorse with the remembrance of crimes more atrocious than their own, and seem to believe that they are not bad while another can be sound worse.

FOR escaping these and a thousand other deceits, many expedients have been proposed. Some have recommended the frequent consul­tation of a wise friend, admitted to intimacy, and encouraged to sincerity. But this appears a remedy by no means adapted to general use: for in order to secure the virtue of one, it pre­supposes more virtue in two than will generally be found. In the first, such a desire of rectitude and amendment, as may incline him [Page 245] to hear his own accusation from the mouth of him whom he esteems, and by whom, there­fore, he will always hope that his faults are not discovered; and in the second such zeal and honesty, as will make him content for his friend's advantage to lose his kindness.

A LONG life may be passed without finding a friend in whose understanding and virtue we can equally conside, and whose opinion we can value at once for its justness and sincerity. A weak man, however honest, is not qualified to judge. A man of the world, however penetrating, is not fit to counsel. Friends are often chosen for similitude of manners, and therefore each palii­ates the other's sailings, because they are his own. Friends are tender and unwilling to give pain, or they are interested, and fearful to offend.

THESE objections have inclined others to advise, that he who would know [...] should consult his enemies, [...] the [...] proaches that are vented to his [...] for the censures that are uttered [...] For his great business is to know [...] and those malignity will discover, and resentment will reveal. But this precept may be often frustrated; for it seldom [...] [Page 246] rivals or opponents are suffered to come near enough to know our conduct with so much exactness as that conscience should allow and reflect the accusation. The charge of an enemy is sometimes false, and commonly so mingled with falsehood, that the mind takes advantage from the failure of one part to dis­credit the rest, and never suffers any disturbance afterward from such partial reports.

YET it seems that enemies have been always found by experience the most faithful moni­tors; for adversity has ever been considered as the state in which a man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, and this effect it must produce by withdrawing flatterers and dependents, whose business it is to hide our weaknesses and our errors from us, and by giving loose to malice, and licence to re­proach; or at least by cutting off those plea­sures which called us away from meditation on our conduct, and repressing that pride which too easily persuades us, that we merit whatever we enjoy.

PART of these benefits it is in every man's power to procure to himself, by assigning pro­per portions of his life to the recollection and [Page 247] examination of the rest, and by putting him­self frequently in such a situation by retirement and abstraction, as may weaken the influence of external objects. By this practice he may obtain the solitude of adversity without its melancholy, its instructions without its cen­sures, and its sensibility without its perturba­tions.

The apparent necessity of setting the would at a distance from us, when we are resolved to take a nearer survey of ourselves, has [...] many from high stations to the severities of a monastick life; and, indeed, every man deep­ly engaged in business, if all regard to another state be not extinguished, must have the con­viction, tho', perhaps, not the resolution of Valdesso, who, when he solicited Charles the fifth to dismiss him, being asked, whether he retired upon disgust, answered that he laid down his commission, for no other reason but because there ought to be some time for sober reflection between the life of a soldier and his death.

THERE are, certainly, few conditions which do not entangle us with sublunary hopes and fears; from these it is necessary to disencumber [Page 248] ourselves, by intervals of solitude, in which we may place ourselves in his presence who views effects in their causes, and actions in their motives; in which we may, as Chilling­worth expresses it, consider things as if there were no other beings in the world but God and ourselves; or, to use language yet more awful, may [...] with our [...], and be still.

DEATH, says Seneca, falls heavy upon him who is too much known to others, and too little to himself; and Pontanus, a man celebrated a­mong the early restorers of literature, thought the study of our own hearts of so much importance, that he has recommended it from his tomb. Sum Joann [...] Jovianus Pontanus, quem amave­runt bonae musae, suspexerunt viri probi, honesta­vent reges domini; jam scis qui sim, vel qui potius [...]; ego [...]. "I [...] Pontanus, beloved by the powers of literature, admired by men of worth, and dignified by the monarchs of the world. Th [...] knowest now who I am, or more properly who I was. For thee, stranger, I who am in darkness cannot know thee, but I intreat thee to know thyself."

[Page 249] I HOPE every reader of this paper will con­sider himself as engaged to the observation of a precept, which the wisdom and virtue of all ages have concurred to enforce, a precept dictated by philosophers, inculcated by poets, and ratified by saints.

NUMB. 29. TUESDAY, June 26, 1750.

Prudens futuri temporis exitum
Caliginosa nocto premit deus,
Ridetque si mortalis ultra
Fas trepidet—

THERE is nothing recommended with greater frequency among the gave-poets of antiquity, than the secure possession of the present hour, and the dismission of all the cares which intrude upon our quiet, or hinder, by importunate perturbations, the enjoyment of those delights which our con­dition happens to set before us.

THE ancient poets are, indeed, by no means unexceptionable teachers of morality; [Page 250] their precepts are to be always considered as the sallies of a genius, intent rather upon giving pleasure than instruction, eager to take every advantage of insinuation, and, pro­vided the passions can be engaged on its side, very little solicitous about the suffrage of reason.

THE darkness and uncertainty through which the heathens were compelled to wander in the persuit of happiness, may, indeed, be alleged as an excuse for many of their seducing invitations to immediate enjoyment, which the moderns, by whom they have been imitated, have not to plead. It is no wonder that such as had no promise of another state should eagerly turn their thoughts upon the improvement of that which was before them; but surely those who are acquainted with the hopes and fears of eternity, might think it necessary to put some restraint upon their imagination, and reflect that by echoing the songs of the ancient bacchanals, and transmitting the maxims of past debauchery, they not only prove that they want invention, but virtue, and submit to the servility of imitation only to copy that of which the writer, if he was to live now, would often be ashamed.

[Page 251] YET as the errors and follies of a great genius are seldom without some radiations of understanding, by which meaner minds may be enlightened, the incitements to pleasure are, in these authors, generally mingled with such reflections upon life, as well deserve to be considered distinctly from the pur­poses for which they are produced, and to be treasured up as the settled conclusions of extensive observation, acute sagacity, and mature experience.

IT is certainly not without just reflection that on these occasions they often warn their readers against enquiries into futurity, and solicitude about events which lie hid in causes yet unactive, and which time has not brought forward into the view of reason. For as an idle and thoughtless resignation to chance, without any struggle against calamity, or en­deavour after advantage, is below the dignity of a reasonable being, in whose power pro­vidence has put a great part even of his pre­sent happiness, so it shews an equal ignorance of our proper sphere, to harrass our thoughts with conjectures about things not yet in being. How can we regulate events, of which we [Page 252] yet know not whether they will ever happen. And why should we think, with painful anxiety, about that on which our thoughts can have no influence?

IT is a maxim commonly received, that a wise man is never surprised; and, perhaps, this exemption from astonishment may be ima­gined to proceed from such a prospect into fu­turity, as gave previous intimation of those evils which often fall unexpected upon others that have less foresight. But the truth is, that things to come, except when they ap­proach very nearly, are equally hidden from men of all degrees of understanding; and if a wise man is not amazed at sudden occurren­ces, it is not that he has thought more, but less upon futurity. He never considered things not yet existing as the proper objects of his attention; he never indulged dreams till he was deceived by their phantoms, nor ever rea­lized non-entities to his mind. He is not sur­prised because he is not disappointed, and he escapes disappointment because he never forms any expectations.

THE concern about things to come, that is to justly censured, is not the result of those ge­neral [Page 253] reflections, on the variableness of fortune, the uncertainty of life, and the universal in­security of all human acquisitions, which must always be suggested by the view of the world; but such a desponding anticipation of misfortune, as fixes the mind upon scenes of gloom and melancholy, and makes fear pre­dominate in every imagination.

ANXIETY of this kind is nearly of the same nature with jealousy in love, and suspicion in the general commerce of life; a temper which keeps the man always in alarms, dis­poses him to judge of every thing in a manner that least favours his own quiet, fills him with perpetual stratagems of counteraction, wears him out in schemes to obviate evils which never threatened him, and at length, perhaps, con­tributes to the production of those mischiefs of which it had raised such dreadful appre­hensions.

IT has been usual in all ages for moralists to repress the swellings of vain hope by represen­tations of the innumerable casualties to which life is subject, and by instances of the unex­pected defeat of the wisest schemes of policy, and sudden subversions of the highest eminen­ces [Page 254] of greatness. It has, perhaps, not been equally observed, that all these examples afford the proper antidote to fear as well as to hope, and may be applied with no less efficacy as consolations to the timorous, than as restraints to the proud.

EVIL is uncertain in the same degree as good, and for the reason that we ought not to hope too securely, we ought not to fear with too much dejection. The state of the world is continually changing, and none can tell the result of the next vicissitude. What­ever is afloat in the stream of time, may, when it is very near us, be driven away by an accidental blast, which shall happen to cross the general course of the current. The sudden accidents by which the powerful are depressed, may fall upon those whose malice we fear; and the greatness by which we expect to be overborn, may become another proof of the false flatteries of fortune. Our enemies may become weaker, or we grow strong before our encounter, or we may advance against each other without ever meeting. There are, indeed, natural evils which we can flatter our­selves with no hopes of escaping, and with little of delaying; but of the ills which are [Page 255] apprehended from human malignity, or the op­position of rival interests, we may always alle­viate the terror by considering that our perse­cutors are weak and ignorant, and mortal like ourselves. The misfortunes which arise from the concurrence of unhappy circumstances should never be suffered to disturb us before they happen; because, if the breast be once laid open to the dread of mere possibilities of misery, life must be given a prey to dismal solicitude, and quiet must be lost for ever.

IT is remarked by old Cornaro, that it is absurd to be afraid of the natural dissolution of the body; because it must certainly happen, and can, by no caution, or artifice, be avoid­ed. Whether this sentiment be entirely just, I shall not examine; but certainly, if it be improper to fear events which must happen, it is yet more evidently contrary to right reason to fear those which may never happen, and which, if they should come upon us, we cannot resist.

AS we ought not to give way to fear any more than indulgence to hope, because the objects both of fear and hope are yet uncer­tain, so we ought not to trust the representati­ons of one more than of the other, because [Page 256] they are both equally fallacious; as hope en­larges happiness, fear aggravates calamity. It is generally allowed, that no man ever found the happiness of possession proportionate to that expectation which incited his desire, and invigorated his persuit; nor has any man found the evils of life so formidable in reality, as they were described to him by his own ima­gination; every species of distress brings with it some peculiar supports, some unforeseen means of resisting, or power of enduring. For this reason, Taylor justly blames some pious persons, who indulged their own fancies too much, set themselves, by the force of ima­gination, in the place of the ancient martyrs and confessors, and question the validity of their own faith because they shrink at the thoughts of flames and tortures. It is, says he, sufficient that you are able to encounter the temptations which now assault you; when God sends trials, he may send strength.

ALL fear is in itself painful, and when it conduces not to safety is painful without use. Every consideration, therefore, by which groundless terrors may be removed, adds some­thing to human happiness. It is likewise not unworthy of remark, that in proportion as [Page 257] our cares are imployed upon the future, they are abstracted from the present, from the only time which we can call our own, and of which if we neglect the apparent duties, to make vain provision against visionary attacks, we shall cer­tainly counteract our own purpose; for he, doubtless, mistakes his true interest, who thinks that he can increase his safety, when he impairs his virtue.

NUMB. 30. SATURDAY, June 30, 1750.

—Vultus ubi tuus
Assulsit populo, gratior it dies,
Et soles melius nitent.

THERE are few tasks more ungrateful, than for persons of modesty to speak their own praises. In some cases, however, this must be done for the general good, and a generous spirit will on such occasions assert its merit, and vindicate itself with becoming warmth.

[Page 258] My circumstances, sir, are very hard and peculiar. Could the world be brought to treat me as I deserve, it would be a publick benefit. This makes me apply to you, that my case being fairly stated in a paper so gene­rally esteemed, I may suffer no longer from ignorant and childish prejudices.

MY elder brother was a Jew. A very respectable person, but somewhat austere in his manner: highly and deservedly valued by his near relations and intimates, but utterly unfit for mixing in a larger society, or gaining a general acquaintance among mankind. In a venerable old age he retired from the world, and I in the bloom of youth came into it, succeeding him in all his dignities, and formed, as I might reasonably flatter myself, to be the object of universal love and esteem. Joy and gladness were born with me; chearfulness, good humour and benevolence always attended and endeared my infancy. That time is long past. So long that idle imaginations are apt to fancy me wrinkled, old, and disagreeable; but, unless my looking-glass deceives me, I have not yet lost one charm, one beauty of my earliest years. However, thus far is too certain, I [Page 259] am to every body just what they chuse to think me; so that to very few I appear in my right shape; and though naturally I am the friend of human-kind, to few, very few compara­tively, am I useful or agreeable.

THIS is the more grievous, as it is utterly impossible for me to avoid being in all sorts of places and companies; and I am therefore liable to meet with perpetual affronts and injuries. Though I have as natural an antipathy to cards and dice, as some people have to a cat, many and many an assembly am I forced to endure; and though rest and composure are my peculiar joy, am worn out, and harrassed to death with journies by men and women of quality, who never take one, but when I can be of the party. Some, on a contrary extreme, will never receive me but in bed, where they spend at least half of the time I have to stay with them; and others are so monstrously ill­bred as to take physick on purpose when they have reason to expect me. Those who keep upon terms of more politeness with me, are generally so cold and constrained in their be­haviour, that I cannot but perceive myself an unwelcome guest; and even among persons deserving of esteem, and who certainly have [Page 260] a value for me, it is too evident that generally whenever I come I throw a dulness over the whole company, that I am entertained with a formal stiff civility, and that they are glad when I am fairly gone.

HOW bitter must this kind of reception be to one formed to inspire delight, admiration and love! To one capable of answering and rewarding the greatest warmth and delicacy of sentiments!

I WAS bred up among a set of excellent people, who affectionately loved me, and treated me with the utmost honour and re­spect. It would be tedious to relate the variety of my adventures, and strange vicissitudes of my fortune in many different countries. Here in England there was a time when I lived according to my heart's desire. When­ever I appeared, publick assemblies appointed for my reception were crowded with persons of quality and fashion, early drest as for a court, to pay me their devoirs. Chearful hospitality every where crowned my board, and I was looked upon in every country parish as a kind of social bond between the 'squire' the parson, and the tenants. The laborious [Page 261] poor every where blest my appearance: they do so still, and keep their best clothes to do me honour; though as much as I delight in the honest country folks, they do now and then throw a pot of ale at my head, and sometimes an unlucky boy will drive his cricket-ball full in my face.

EVEN in these my best days there were persons who thought me too demure and grave. I must forsooth by all means be instructed by foreign masters, and taught to dance and play. This method of education was so contrary to my genius, formed for much nobler entertain­ments, that it did not succeed at all.

I FELL next into the hands of a very different set. They were so excessively scandalized at the gayety of my appearance, as not only to despoil me of the foreign fop­peries, the paint and the patches that I had been tricked out with by my last misjudging tutors, but they robbed me of every innocent ornament I had from my infancy been used to gather in the fields and gardens; nay they blacked my face, and covered me all over with a habit of mourning, and that too very coarse and aukward. I was now obliged to [Page 262] spend my whole life in hearing sermons; nor permitted so much as to smile upon any occa­sion.

IN this melancholy disguise I became a perfect bugbear to all children and young folks. Wherever I came there was a general hush, an immediate stop to all pleasantness of look or discourse; and not being permitted to talk with them in my own language at that time, they took such a disgust to me in those tedious hours of yawning, that having trans­mitted it to their children, I cannot now be heard, though 'tis long since I have recovered my natural form, and pleasing tone of voice. Would they but receive my visits kindly, and listen to what I could tell them—let me say it without vanity—how charming a companion should I be! to every one could I talk on the subjects most interesting and most pleasing. With the great and ambitious, I would dis­course of honours and advancements, of dis­tinctions to which the whole world should be witness, of unenvied dignities and durable preferments. To the rich I would tell of inexhaustible treasures, and the sure method to attain them. I would teach them to put out their money on the best interest, and in­struct [Page 263] the lovers of pleasure how to secure and improve it to the highest degree. The beauty should learn of me how to preserve an everlasting bloom. To the afflicted I would administer comfort, and relaxation to the busy.

AS I dare promise myself you will attest the truth of all I have advanced, there is no doubt but many will be desirous of improving their acquaintance with me; and that I may not be thought too difficult, I will tell you, in short, how I wish to be received.

YOU must know I equally hate lazy idle­ness and hurry. I would every where be wel­comed at a tolerably early hour with decent good-humour and gratitude. I must be at­tended in the great halls peculiarly appropriated to me with respect; but I do not insist upon finery: propriety of appearance, and perfect neatness is all I require. I must at dinner be treated with a temperate, but a chearful social meal; both the neighbours, and the poor should be the better for me. Some time I must have tete a tete with my kind entertain­ers, and the rest of my visit should be spent in pleasant walks and airings among sets of agree­able [Page 264] people, in such discourse as I shall natu­rally dictate, or in reading some few selected out of those numberless books that are dedica­ted to me, and go by my name. A name that, alas! as the world stands at present, makes them oftener thrown aside than taken up. As those conversations and books should be both well chosen, to give some advice on that head may possibly furnish you with a fu­ture paper, and any thing you shall offer on my behalf will be of great service to,

Your Faithful Friend and Servant, SUNDAY.

NUMB. 31. TUESDAY, July 3, 1750.

Non ego mendosos ausim defendere mores,
Falsaque pro vitiis arma tenere meis.

THOUGH the fallibility of man's reason, and the narrowness of his knowledge, are very generally and liberally confessed, yet if an enquiry be made into the conduct of those who so willingly admit the weakness of human nature, there will appear some reason for imagining that this acknowledgment is not altogether sincere, at least, that most make it with a tacit reserve in favour of themselves, and that with whatever ease they give up the [Page 265] claims of their neighbours, they are desirous of being thought exempt from faults in their own conduct, and from error in their opinions.

THE certain and obstinate opposition, which we may observe made to confutation, however clear, and to reproof however tender, is an undoubted argument, that some dormant pri­vilege is thought to be attacked; for as no man can lose what he neither possesses, nor imagines himself to possess, nor be defrauded of that to which he has no right, it is reason­able to suppose that those who break out in­to fury at the first attacks of contradiction, or the slightest touches of censure, since they apparently conclude themselves injured, must fancy their honour impaired, some antient im­munity violated, or some natural prerogative invaded; to be mistaken, if they thought themselves liable to mistake, could not be con­sidered by them as either shameful or wonder­ful, and they would not surely receive with so much emotion intelligence which only inform­ed them of that which they knew before, nor struggle with so much earnestness against an attack that deprived them of nothing to which they held themselves entitled.

[Page 266] IT is related of one of the philosophers, that when an account was brought him of his son's death, he received it only with this re­flection, I knew that my son was mortal. He that is convinced of an error, if he had the same knowledge of his own weakness, would, instead of kindling with resentment, straining for artifices, and brooding malignity, only regard such oversights as the appendages of humanity, and pacify himself with considering that he had always known man to be a falli­ble being.

IF it be true that most of our passions are excited by the novelty of objects, there is little reason for doubting that to be considered as subject to fallacies of ratiocination, or imper­fection of knowledge, is to a very great part of mankind entirely new; for it is impossible to enter any place of general resort, or fall into any company where there is not some regular and established subordination, without finding rage and vehemence produced only by diffe­rence of sentiments about things very trifling, in which neither of the disputants have any other interest than what proceeds from their mutual unwillingness to give way to any opi­nion [Page 267] that may bring upon them the disgrace of being wrong.

I HAVE heard of men that, having advanced some erroneous doctrines in philosophy, have refused to see the experiments by which they were confuted: and the observation of every day will give new proofs with how much in­dustry subterfuges and evasions are sought to decline the pressure of resistless arguments, how often the state of the question is altered, how often the antagonist is wilfully misrepre­sented, and in how much perplexity the clearest positions are involved by those whom they happen to obstruct in the extension or propa­gation of a pleasing hypothesis.

OF all mortals none seem to have been more infected with this species of vanity, than the race of writers, whose reputation arising solely from their understanding, has given them a very delicate sensibility of any violence at­tempted on their literary honour. It is not unpleasing to remark with what solicitude men of acknowledged abilities will endeavour to palliate absurdities and reconcile contradictions, only to obviate criticisms to which all human performances must ever be exposed, and from [Page 268] which they can never suffer, but when they teach the world by a vain and ridiculous impa­tience to think them of importance.

DRYDEN, whose warmth of fancy, and haste of composition very frequently hurried him into inaccuracres, heard himself sometimes exposed to ridicule for having said in one of his tragedies, ‘I follow fate, which does too fast persue.’ That no man could at once follow and be fol­lowed was, it may be thought, too plain to be long disputed; and the truth is, that DRYDEN was apparently betrayed into the blunder by the double meaning of the word FATE, to which in the former part of the verse he had annexed the idea of FORTUNE, and in the latter that of DEATH; so that the sense only was, though persued by DEATH, I will not resign myself to despair, but will follow FORTUNE, and do and suffer what is appointed. This however was not completely expressed, and DRYDEN being determined not to give way to his critics, never confessed that he had been surprised by an ambiguity; but finding luckily in Virgil an account of a man moving in a circle, with this expression, Et se sequitur­que fugitque, "Here, says he, is the passage in [Page 269] imitation of which I wrote the line that my critics were pleased to condemn as nonsense; not but I may sometimes write nonsense, though they have not the fortune to find it."

EVERY one sees the folly of such mean doublings to escape the persuit of criticism; nor is there a single reader of this poet, who would not have paid him greater veneration, had he shewn consciousness enough of his own superiority to set such cavils at defiance, and owned that he sometimes slipped into errors by the tumult of his imagination, and the multi­tude of his ideas.

IT is however happy when this temper dis­covers itself only in little things, which may be right or wrong without any influence on the virtue or happiness of mankind. We may, with very little inquietude, see a man persist in a project, which he has found to be imprac­ticable, live in an inconvenient house because it was contrived by himself, or wear a coat of a particular cut, in hopes by perseverance to bring it into fashion. These are indeed follies, but they are only follies, and, how­ever [Page 270] wild or ridiculous, can very little af­fect others.

BUT such pride, once indulged, too fre­quently operates upon more important objects, and inclines men not only to vindicate their errors, but their vices; to persist in practices which their own hearts condemn, only lest they should seem to feel reproaches, or be made wiser by the advice of others; or to search for sophisms tending to the confusion of all principles, and the evacuation of all du­ties, that they may not appear to act what they are not able to defend.

LET every man, who finds vanity so far predominant, as to betray him to the danger of this last degree of corruption, pause a moment to consider what will be the consequences of the plea which he is about to offer for a practice to which he knows himself not led at first by rea­son, but to which he was impelled by the vio­lence of desire, surprized by the suddenness of passion, or seduced by the soft approaches of temptation, and by imperceptible gradations of guilt. Let him consider what he is going to commit by forcing his understanding to pa­tronise [Page 271] those appetites, which it is its chief business to hinder and reform.

THE cause of virtue requires so little art to defend it, and good and evil, when they have been once shewn, are so easily distinguished, that such apologists seldom gain proselytes to their party, nor have their fallacies power to deceives any but those whose desires have cloud­ed their discernment. All that the best fa­culties thus employed can perform is, to per­suade the hearers that the man is hopeless whom they only thought vitious, that corruption has passed from his manners to his principles, that all endeavours for his recovery are without prospect of success, and that nothing remains but to avoid him as infectious, or hunt him down as destructive.

BUT if it be supposed that he may impose on his audience by partial representations of con­sequences, intricate deductions of remote cau­ses, or perplexed combinations of ideas, which having various relations appear different as viewed on different sides; that he may some­times puzzle the weak and well-meaning, and now and then seduce, by the admiration of his abilities, a young mind still fluctuating [Page 272] in unsettled notions, and neither fortified by instruction nor enlightened by experience; yet what must be the event of such a triumph? A man cannot spend all this life in frolick: age, or disease, or solitude will bring some hours of serious consideration, and it will then afford no comfort to think, that he has extend­ed the dominion of vice, that he has loaded himself with the crimes of others, and can never know the extent of his own wickedness, or make reparation for the mischief that he has caused. There is not perhaps in all the stories of ideal anguish, a thought more pain­ful, than the consciousness of having propaga­ted corruption by vitiating principles, of ha­ving not only drawn others from the paths of virtue, but blocked up the way by which they should return, of having blinded them to eve­ry beauty but the paint of pleasure, and deaf­ened them to every call but the alluring voice of the syrens of destruction.

THERE is yet another danger in this prac­tice: men who cannot deceive others, are ve­ry often successful in deceiving themselves; they weave their sophistry till their own rea­son is entangled, and repeat their positions till they are credited by themselves; by often con­tending [Page 273] they grow sincere in the cause, and by long wishing for demonstrative arguments they at last bring themselves to fancy that they have found them. They are then at the utter­most verge of wickedness, and may die with­out having that light rekindled in their minds, which their own pride and contumacy have extinguished.

THE men who can be charged with fewest failings, either with respect to abilities or vir­tue, are generally most ready to allow them; for not to dwell on things of solemn and aw­ful consideration, the humility of confessors, the tears of saints, and the dying terrors of persons eminent for piety and innocence, it is well known that Caesar wrote an account of the errors committed by him in his wars of Gaul, and that Hippocrates a name perhaps in rational estimation greater than Caesar's, warned posterity against a mistake into which he had fallen. So much, says Celsus, does the open and artless confession of an error become a man consci­ous that he has enough remaining to support his character.

AS all error is meanness, it is incumbent on every man who consults his own dignity, to [Page 274] retract it as soon as he discovers it, without fearing any censure so much as that of his own mind. As justice requires that all injuries should be repaired, it is the duty of him who has seduced others by bad practices, or false notions, to endeavour that such as have adopt­ed his errors should know his retraction, and that those who have learned vice by his exam­ple, should by his example be taught amend­ment.

NUMB. 32. SATURDAY, July 7, 1750.


SO large a part of human life passes in a state contrary to our natural desires, that one of the principal topics of moral instruction is the art of bearing calamities. And such is the certainty of evil, that it is the duty of every man to furnish his mind with those principles that may enable him to act under it with de­cency and propriety.

THE sect of antient philosophers, that boasted to have carried this necessary science to [Page 275] the highest perfection, were the stoics, or scholars of Zeno, whose wild enthusiastick vir­tue pretended to an exemption from the sen­sibilities of unenlightened mortals, and who proclaimed themselves exalted, by the doc­trines of their sect, above the reach of those miseries, which embitter life to the rest of the world. They therefore removed pain, pover­ty, loss of friends, exile, and violent death, from the catalogue of evils; and passed, in their haughty stile, a kind of irreversible de­cree, by which they forbad them to be count­ed any longer among the objects of terror or anxiety, or to give any disturbance to the tran­quillity of a wise man.

THIS edict indeed was, I think, not uni­versally observed, for though one of the more resolute, when he was tortured by a violent disease cried out, that let pain harrass him to its utmost power, it should never force him to retract the doctrines of his sect, or to consider it as other than indifferent and neutral; yet all had not stubbornness to hold out against their senses: for one of Zeno's pupils is recorded to have confessed in the anguish of the gout, that he now found pain to be an evil.

[Page 276] IT may however be questioned, whether these philosophers can be very properly num­bered among the teachers of patience; for if pain be not an evil there seems no instruction requisite how it may be born, and therefore when they endeavour to arm their followers with arguments against it, they may be thought to have given up their first position. But such inconsistencies are to be expected from the greatest understandings, when they endeavour to grow eminent by singularity, and employ their strength in establishing opinions oppo­site to nature.

THE controversy about the reality of exter­nal evils is now at an end. That life has ma­ny miseries, and that those miseries are, some­times at least, equal to all the powers of forti­tude which can be raised against them, is now universally confessed; and therefore it is useful to consider not only how we may escape them, but by what means those which either the ac­cidents of affairs, or the infirmities of nature must bring upon us, may be mitigated and lightened; and how we may make those hours less wretched, which the condition of our pre­sent existence will not allow to be very happy.

[Page 277] THE cure for the greatest part of human miseries is not radical, but palliative. Infeli­city is involved in corporeal nature, and inter­woven with our being; all attempts therefore to decline it wholly are useless and vain: the ar­mies of pain send their arrows against us on every side, the choice is only between those which are more or less sharp, or tinged with poison of greater or less malignity; and the strongest armour which reason can supply, will only blunt their points, but cannot re­pel them.

THE great remedy which heaven has put in our hands is patience, by which, though we cannot lessen the torments of the body, we can in a great measure preserve the peace of the mind, and shall suffer only the natural and genuine force of an evil, without heightening its acrimony, or prolonging its effects.

THERE is indeed nothing more unsuitable to the nature of man in any calamity than rage and turbulence, which, without examin­ing whether they are not sometimes impious, are at least always offensive, and incline others rather to hate and despise than to pity and assist [Page 278] us. If what we suffer has been brought upon us by ourselves, it is observed by an antient poet, that patience is eminently our duty, since no one should be angry at feeling that which he has deserved. ‘Leniter ex merito quicquid patiare feren­dum est.’ And, surely, if we are not conscious that we have contributed to our own sufferings, if punishment fall upon innocence, or disappoint­ment happens to industry and prudence, pa­tience, whether more necessary or not, is much easier, since our pain is then without aggrava­tion, and we have not the bitterness of remorse to add to the asperity of misfortune.

IN those evils which are allotted to us by providence, such as deformity, privation of any of the senses, or old age, it is always to be remembred that impatience can have no present effect, but to deprive us of the conso­lations which our condition admits, by driving away from us those by whose conversation or advice we might be amused or helped; and that with regard to futurity it is yet less to be justified, since, without lessening the pain, it cuts off the hope of that reward, which he by [Page 279] whom it is inflicted will confer upon them that bear it well.

IN all evils which admit a remedy, impati­ence is to be avoided, because it wastes that time and attention in complaints, that, if pro­perly applied, might remove the cause. Tu­renne, among the acknowledgements which he used to pay in conversation to the memory of those by whom he had been instructed in the art of war, mentioned one with honour, who taught him not to spend his time in regretting any mistake which he had made, but to set himself immediately and vigorously to repair it.

PATIENCE and submission are very careful­ly to be distinguished from cowardice and in­dolence. We are not to repine, but we may lawfully struggle; for the calamities of life, like the necessities of nature, are calls to la­bour, and exercises of diligence. When we feel any pressure of distress, we are not to con­clude that we can only obey the will of heaven by languishing under it, any more than when we perceive the pain of thirst we are to ima­gine that water is prohibited. Of misfortune it never can be certainly known whether, as proceeding from the hand of GOD, it is an act [Page 280] of favour, or of punishment: but since all the ordinary dispensations of providence are to be interpreted according to the general ana­logy of things, we may conclude, that we have a right to remove one inconvenience as well as another; that we are only to take care lest we purchase ease with guilt; and that our maker's purpose, whether of reward or severi­ty, will be answered by the labours which he lays us under the necessity of performing.

THIS duty is not more difficult in any state, than in diseases intensely painful, which may indeed admit of such exacerbations as seem to strain the powers of life to their ut­most stretch, and leave very little of the atten­tion vacant to precept or reproof. In this state the nature of man requires some indul­gence, and every extravagance but impiety may be easily forgiven him. Yet, lest we should think ourselves too soon entitled to the mournful privileges of irresistible misery, it is proper to reflect that the utmost anguish which human wit can contrive, or human malice can inflict, has been born with constan­cy; and that if the pains of disease be, as I believe they are, sometimes greater than those of artificial torture, they are therefore in their [Page 281] own nature shorter, the vital frame is quickly broken, the union between soul and body is for a time suspended, and we soon cease to feel our maladies when they once become too vio­lent to be born. I think there is some reason for questioning whether the body and mind are not so proportioned, that the one can bear all which can be inflicted on the other, whe­ther virtue cannot stand its ground as long as life, and whether a soul well principled will not be separated sooner than subdued.

In calamities which operate chiefly on our passions, such as diminution of fortune, loss of friends, or declension of character, the chief danger of impatience is upon the first at­tack, and many expedients have been contri­ved, by which the blow may be broken. Of these the most general precept is, not to take pleasure in any thing, of which it is not in our power to secure the possession to ourselves.—This counsel, when we consider the enjoy­ment of any terrestrial advantage, as opposite to a constant and habitual solicitude for future felicity, is undoubtedly just, and delivered by that authority which cannot be disputed; but in any other sense, is it not like advice, not to walk lest we should stumble, or not to see [Page 282] lest our eyes should light upon deformity? It seems to me reasonable to enjoy blessings with confidence, as well as to lose them with sub­mission, and to hope for the continuance of good which we possess without insolence or voluptuousness, as for the restitution of that which we lose without despondency or mur­murs.

The chief security against the fruitless an­guish of impatience, must arise from the fre­quent reflection on the wisdom and goodness of the GOD of nature, in whose hands are riches and poverty, honour and disgrace, plea­sure and pain, and life and death. A settled conviction of the tendency of every thing to our good, and of the possibility of turning miseries into happiness, by receiving them rightly, will incline us to bless the name of the Lord, whether he gives or takes away.

NUMB. 33. TUESDAY, July 10, 1750.

‘Quod carct alternd Requie durabile non est. ’OVID.

IN the early ages of the world, as is well known to those who are versed in anti­ent traditions, when innocence was yet un­tainted, and simplicity unadulterated, man­kind was happy in the enjoyment of continual pleasure, and constant plenty, under the pro­tection of REST; a gentle divinity, who requi­red of her worshippers neither altars nor sa­crifices, and whose rites were only performed by prostrations upon tufts of flowers in shades of jasmine and myrtle, or by dances on the banks of rivers flowing with milk and nectar.

UNDER this easy government the first ge­nerations breathed the fragrance of perpetual spring, eat the fruits, which, without culture, fell ripe into their hands, and slept under bowers arched by nature, with the birds sing­ing over their heads, and the beasts sporting about them. But by degrees they began to lose their original integrity; each, though [Page 284] there was more than enough for all, was de­sirous of appropriating part to himself. Then entered violence and fraud, and theft and ra­pine. Soon after pride and envy broke into the world, and brought with them a new standard of wealth; for men, who till then thought themselves rich when they wanted no­thing, now rated their demands, not by the calls of nature, but by the plenty of others; and began to consider themselves as poor when they beheld their own possessions exceeded by those of their neighbours. Now only one could be happy, because only one could have most, and that one was always in danger, lest the same arts by which he had supplanted others should be practised upon himself.

AMIDST the prevalence of this corruption, the state of the earth was changed; the year was divided into seasons; part of the ground became barren, and the rest yielded only ber­ries, acorns, and herbs. The summer and autumn indeed furnished a coarse and inelegant sufficiency, but winter was without any relief; FAMINE, with a thousand diseases, which the inclemency of the air invited into the upper regions, made havock among men, and there [Page 285] appeared to be danger lest they should be de­stroyed before they were reformed.

TO oppose the devastations of FAMINE, who scattered the ground every where with carcases, LABOUR came down upon earth. LABOUR was the son of NECESSITY, the nurseling of HOPE, and the pupil of ART; he had the strength of his mother, the spirit of his nurse, and the dexterity of his governess. His face was wrinkled with the wind, and swarthy with the sun; he had the implements of husbandry in one hand, with which he turn­ed up the earth; in the other he had the tools of architecture, and raised walls and towers at his pleasure. He called out, with a rough voice, "Mortals! see here the power to whom you are consigned, and from whom you are to hope for all your pleasures, and all your safety. You have long languished un­der the dominion of REST, an impotent and deceitful goddess, who can neither protect nor relieve you, but resigns you to the first attacks of either FAMINE or DISEASE, and suffers her shades to be invaded by every enemy, and destroyed by every accident."

"AWAKE therefore to the call of LABOUR. [Page 286] I will teach you to remedy the sterility of the earth, and the severity of the sky; I will compel summer to find provisions for the winter; I will force the waters to give you their fish, the air its fowls, and the forest its beasts; I will teach you to pierce the bowels of the earth, and bring out from the caverns of the mountains metals which shall give strength to your hands, and secu­rity to your bodies, by which you may be covered from the assaults of the fiercest beasts, and with which you shall fell the oak, and divide rocks, and subject all na­ture to your use and pleasure."

ENCOURAGED by this magnificent invita­tion, the inhabitants of the globe considered LABOUR as their only friend, and hasted to his command. He led them out to the fields and mountains, and shewed them how to open mines, to level hills, to drain marsh­es, and change the course of rivers. The face of things was immediately transformed; the land was covered with towns and villages, encompassed with fields of corn, and plan­tations of fruit-trees; and nothing was seen but heaps of grain, and baskets of fruit, full tables, and crouded storehouses.

[Page 287] THUS LABOUR and his followers added e­very hour new acquisitions to their conquests, and saw FAMINE gradually dispossessed of his dominions; till at last, amidst their jollity and triumphs, they were depressed and amazed by the approach of LASSITUDE, who was known by her sunk eyes, and dejected countenance. She came forward trembling and groaning: at every groan the hearts of all those that be­held her lost their courage, their nerves slack­ened, their hands shook, and the instruments of labour fell from their grasp.

SHOCKED with this horrid phantom they reflected with regret on their easy compliance with the solicitations of LABOUR, and began to wish again for the golden hours which they remembered to have passed under the reign of REST, whom they resolved again to visit, and to whom they intended to dedicate the remaining part of their lives. REST had not left the world; they quickly found her, and to atone for their former desertion, invited her to the enjoyment of those acquisitions which LABOUR had procured them.

REST therefore took leave of the groves and [Page 288] vallies, which she had hitherto inhabited, and entered into palaces, reposed herself in alcoves, and slumbered away the winter upon beds of down, and the summer in artificial grottos with cascades playing before her. There was indeed always something wanting to complete her felicity, and she could never lull her re­turning fugitives to that serenity, which they knew before their engagements with LABOUR: Nor was her dominion entirely without con­troul, for she was obliged to share it with LUXURY, though she always looked upon her as a false friend, by whom her influence was in reality destroyed, while it seemed to be pro­moted.

THE two soft associates, however, reigned for some time without visible disagreement, till at last LUXURY betrayed her charge, and let in DISEASE to seize upon her worshippers. REST then flew away, and left the place to the usurpers; who employed all their arts to fortify themselves in their possession, and to strengthen the interest of each other.

REST had not always the same enemy: in some places she escaped the incursions of DIS­EASE; but had her residence invaded by a [Page 289] more slow and subtle intruder, for very fre­quently when every thing was composed and quiet, when there was neither pain within, nor danger without, when every flower was in bloom, and every gale freighted with perfumes, SATIETY would enter with a languishing and repining look, and throw herself upon the couch placed and adorned for the accommo­dation of REST. No sooner was she seated than a general gloom spread itself on every side, the groves immediately lost their verdure, and their inhabitants desisted from their melody, the breeze sunk in sighs, and the flowers con­tracted their leaves and shut up their odours. Nothing was seen on every side but multitudes wandering about they knew not whither, in quest they knew not of what; no voice was heard but of complaints that mentioned no pain, and murmurs that could tell of no mis­fortune.

REST had now lost her authority. Her followers again began to treat her with con­tempt; some of them united themselves more closely to LUXURY, who promised by her arts to drive SATIETY away, and others, that were more wise or had more fortitude, went back again to LABOUR, by whom they were [Page 290] indeed protected from SATIETY, but deli­vered up in time to LASSITUDE, and forced by her to the bowers of REST.

THUS REST and LABOUR equally perceiv­ed their reign of short duration and uncertain tenure, and their empire liable to inrodes from those who were alike enemies to both. They each sound their subjects unfaithful, and ready to desert them upon every opportunity. LABOUR saw the riches which he had given always carried away as an offering to REST, and REST found her votaries in every exigence flying from her to beg help of LABOUR. They, therefore, at last determined upon an interview, in which they agreed to divide the world between them, and govern it alternate­ly, allotting the dominion of the day to one, and that of the night to the other, and pro­mised to guard the frontiers of each other, so that, whenever hostilities were attempted, SATIETY should be intercepted by LABOUR, and LASSITUDE expelled by REST. Thus the antient quarrel was appeased, and as ha­tred is often succeeded by its contrary, REST afterwards became pregnant by LABOUR, and was delivered of HEALTH, a benevolent goddess, who consolidated the union of her [Page 291] parents, and contributed to the regular vicissi­tudes of their reign, by dispensing her gifts to those only who shared their lives in just propor­tions between REST and LABOUR.

NUMB. 34. SATURDAY, July 14, 1750.

—Non sine vano
Aur arum et siluae meut.—

I HAVE been censured for having hitherto de­dicated so few of my speculations to the la­dies; and indeed the moralist, whose instructi­ons are accommodated only to one half of the human species, must be confessed not suffici­ently to have extended his views. Yet it is to be considered, that masculine duties afford more room for counsels and observations, as they are less uniform, and connected with things more subject to vicissitude and accident; we therefore find that in philosophical discour­ses which teach by precept, or historical nar­ratives that instruct by example, the peculiar virtues or faults of women fill but a small part; perhaps generally too small, for so much of our domestic happiness is in their hands, and their [Page 292] influence is so great upon our earliest years, that the universal interest of the world re­quires them to be well instructed in their pro­vince; nor can it be thought proper that the qualities by which so much pain or pleasure may be given, should be left to the direction of chance.

I HAVE, therefore, willingly given a place in my paper to a letter, which perhaps may not be wholly useless to them whose chief am­bition is to please, as it shews how certainly the end is missed by absurd and injudicious endeavours at distinction.



I AM a young gentleman at my own disposal, with a considerableestate; and having pas­sed through the common forms of education, spent some time in foreign countries, and made myself distinguished since my return in the politest company, I am now arrived at that part of life in which every man is expected to settle, and provide for the continuation of his lineage. I withstood for some time the solicitations and remonstrances of my aunts [Page 293] and uncles, but at last was persuaded to visit Anthea, an heiress, whose land lies contiguous to mine, and whose birth and beauty are without objection. Our friends declared that we were born for each other, all those on both sides who had no interest in hindering our union, contributed to promote it, and were conspir­ing to hurry us into matrimony, before we had any opportunity of knowing one another. I was, however, too old to be given away without my own consent, and having happen­ed to pick up an opinion, which to many of my relations seemed extremely odd, that a man might be unhappy with a large estate, determined to obtain a nearer knowledge of the person with whom I was to pass the remain­der of my time. To protract the court­ship was by no means difficult, for Anthea had a wonderful facility of evading questions which I seldom repeated, and of barring ap­proaches which I had no great eagerness to press.

THUS the time passed away in visits and civilities, without any ardent professions of love, or formal offers of settlements. I often attended her to publick places, in which, as is well known, all behaviour is so much regulated [Page 294] by custom, that very little insight can be gain­ed into the private character, and therefore I was not yet able to inform myself of her hu­mour and inclinations.

AT last I ventured to propose to her to make one of a small party, and spend a day in viewing a seat and gardens a few miles dis­tant; and having, upon her compliance, col­lected the rest of the company, I brought, at the hour, a coach which I had borrowed from an acquaintance, having delayed to buy one my­self, till I should have an opportunity of ta­king the lady's opinion for whose use it was intended. Anthea came down, but as she was going to step into the coach, started back with great appearance of terror, and told us that she durst not enter, for the shocking colour of the lining had so much the air of the mourn­ing coach, in which she followed her aunt's funeral three years before, that she should ne­ver have her poor dear aunt out of her head.

I KNEW that it was not for lovers to argue with their mistresses; I therefore sent back the coach, and got another more gay. Into this we all entered, the coachman began to drive, and we were amusing ourselves with the [Page 295] expectation of what we should see, when, upon a small inclination of the carriage, An­thea screamed out, that we were overthrown. We were obliged to fix all our attention upon her, which she took care to keep up by renew­ing her outcries, at every corner where we had occasion to turn: at intervals she entertained us with fretful complaints of the uneasiness of the coach, and obliged me to call several times on the coachman to take care and drive without jolting. The poor fellow endeavour­ed to please us, and therefore moved very slowly, 'till Anthea found out that this pace would only keep us longer on the stones, and desired that I would order him to make more speed. He whipped his horses, the coach jolted again, and Anthea very complaisantly told us how much she repented that she made one of our company.

AT last we got into the smooth road, and began to think our difficulties at an end, when, on a sudden, Anthea saw a brook before us, which she could not venture to pass. We were, therefore, obliged to alight, that we might walk over the bridge; but when we came to it, we found it so narrow, that An­thea durst not set her foot upon it, and was [Page 296] content, after long consultation, to call the coach back, and with innumerable precauti­ons, terrors, and lamentations, crossed the brook.

IT was necessary, after this delay, to mend our pace, and directions were accordingly given to the coachman, when Anthea informed us, that it was common for the axle to catch fire with a quick motion, and begged of me to look out every minute, lest we should all be consumed. I was forced to obey, and give her from time to time the most solemn declara­tions that all was safe, and that I hoped we should reach the place without losing our lives either by fire or water.

THUS we passed on, over ways soft and hard, with more or with less speed, but al­ways with new vicissitudes of anxiety. If the ground was hard, we were jolted, if soft, we were sinking. If we went fast, we should be overturned, if slowly, we should never reach the place. At length she saw something which she called a cloud, and began to consi­der that at that time of the year it frequently thundered. This seemed to be the capital ter­rour, for after that the coach was suffered to [Page 297] move on; and no danger was thought too dreadful to be encountered, provided she could get into a house before the thunder.

THUS our whole conversation passed in dangers, and cares, and fears, and consolati­ons, and stories of ladies dragged in the mire, forced to spend all the night on a heath, drowned in rivers, or burnt with lightening; and no sooner had a hairbreadth escape set us free from one calamity, but we were threat­ened with another.

AT length we reached the house where we intended to regale ourselves, and I proposed to Anthea the choice of a great number of dishes, which the place, being well provided for entertainment, happened to afford. She made some objection to every thing that was offered; one thing she hated at that time of the year, another she could not bear since she had seen it spoiled at lady Feedwell's table; another she was sure they could not dress at this house, and another she could not touch without French sauce. At last she fixed her mind upon salmon, but there was no salmon in the house. It was however procured with great expedition, and when it came to the ta­ble, [Page 298] she found that her fright had taken away her stomach, which indeed she thought no great loss, for she could never believe that any thing at an inn could be cleanly got.

DINNER was now over, and the company proposed, for I was now past the condition of making overtures, that we should persue our original design of visiting the gardens. Anthea declared that she could not imagine what pleasure we expected from the sight of a few green trees and a little gravel, and two or three pits of clear water; that for her part she hated walking till the cool of the evening, and thought it very likely to rain, and again wished that she had staid at home. We then reconciled ourselves to our disap­pointment, and began to talk on common subjects, when Anthea told us that since we came to see gardens, she would not hinder our satisfaction. We all rose and walked through the enclosures for some time, with no other trouble than the necessity of watching lest a frog should hop across the way, which Anthea told us would certainly kill her, if she should happen to see him.

FROGS, as it fell out, there were none, but [Page 299] when we were within an acre of the gardens, Anthea saw some sheep, and heard the wether clink his bell, which she was certain was not hung upon him for nothing, and therefore no assurances nor intreaties should prevail upon her to go a step farther; she was sorry to dis­appoint the company, but her life was dearer to her than ceremony.

WE came back to the inn, and Anthea now discovered that there was no time to be lost in returning, for the night would come upon us, and a thousand misfortunes might happen in the dark. The horses were immediately har­nessed, and Anthea having wondered what could seduce her to stay so long was eager to set out. But we had now a new scene of ter­rour, every man we saw was a robber, and we were ordered sometimes to drive hard lest a traveller whom we saw behind should over­take us, and sometimes to stop, lest we should come up to him who was passing before us. She alarmed many an honest man by begging him to spare her life as he passed by the coach, and drew me into fifteen quarrels with persons who encreased her fright by kindly stopping to enquire whether they could assist us. At last [Page 300] we came home, and she told hercompany next day what a pleasant ride she had been taking.

I SUPPOSE, Sir, I need not enquire of you what deductions may be made from this nar­rative, nor what happiness can arise from the society of that woman, who mistakes cowar­dice for elegance, and imagines all delicacy to consist in refusing to be pleased.

I am, &c.

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