Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri,
Quo me cunque rapit tempestas, deferor hospes.



NUMB. 35. TUESDAY July 17, 1750:

—Non pronuba Juno,
Non Hymenaeus adest, non illi Gratia lecto.



AS you have hitherto delayed the per­formance of the promise, by which you gave us reason to hope for ano­ther paper upon matrimony, I imagine you desirous of collecting more materials than your own experience, or observation, can supply; and I shall therefore lay candidly before you an account of my own entrance into the con­jugal state.

I WAS about eight and twenty years old, when, having tried the diversions of the town till I began to be weary, and being awakened into some attention to more serious business, [Page 2] by the failure of an attorney to whom I had implicitly trusted the conduct of my fortune, I resolved to take my estate into my own care, and methodise my whole life according to the strictest rules of oeconomical prudence.

IN persuance of this scheme, I took leave of my acquaintance, who dismissed me with numberless jests upon my new system; but first endeavoured to divert me from a design so lit­tle worthy of a man of wit, by ridiculous ac­counts of the ignorance and rusticity into which many had sunk in their retirement, af­ter having distinguished themselves for some years in taverns and play-houses, and given hopes of rising to uncommon eminence among the gay part of mankind.

WHEN I came first into the country, which, by a neglect not uncommon among young heirs, I had never seen since the death of my father, I found every thing in such confusion, that, being utterly without practice in busi­ness, I had great difficulties to encounter in disentangling the perplexity of my circumstan­ces; they however, at last, gave way to dili­gent application, and I soon perceived that the advantage of keeping my own accounts [Page 3] would very much over-balance the time which they could require.

I HAD now visited all my tenants, surveyed all my land, and repaired the old house, which, for some years, had been running to decay. These proofs of pecuniary wisdom began to re­commend me, as a sober, judicious, thriving gentleman, to all my graver neighbours of the country, who never failed to celebrate my management in opposition to Thriftless and Latterwit, two smart fellows, who had estates in the same part of the kingdom, which they visited now and then in a frolick, to take up their rents beforehand, debauch a milk-maid, make a feast for the village, and tell stories of their own intrigues, and then rode post back to town to spend their money.

IT was doubtful, however, for some time, whether I should be able to hold my resoluti­on; but a short perseverance removed all sus­picions. I rose every day in reputation, by the decency of my conversation, and the regu­larity of my conduct, and was mentioned with great regard at the assizes, as a man very fit to be put in commission for the peace.

[Page 4] DURING the confusion of my affairs, and the daily necessity of visiting farms, adjusting contracts, letting leases, and super-intending repairs, together with the civilities, which were at my first arrival to be paid or returned, I found very little vacuity in my life, and therefore had not many thoughts of marriage; but, in a little while, the tumult of business subsided, and the exact method which I had established, enabled me to dispatch my ac­counts with great facility; I had, therefore, now upon my hands, the task of finding means to spend my time, without falling back into the poor amusements which I had hither­to indulged, or changing them for the sports of the field, which I saw persued with so much eagerness by the gentlemen of the country, that they were indeed the only pleasures in which I could promise myself any partaker.

THE inconvenience of this situation natu­rally disposed me to wish for a companion, and the known value of my estate, with my reputation for frugality and prudence, easily gained me admission into every family; for I soon sound that no enquiry was made after any other virtue, nor any testimonial necessa­ry, [Page 5] but, of my freedom from incumbrances, and my care of what they termed the main chance. I confess I could not see, without some indignation, the eagerness with which the daughters, wherever I came, were set out to show; nor could I consider them in a state much different from prostitution, when I found them ordered to play their airs before me, and to exhibit, by some seeming chance, speci­mens of their musick, their work, or their housewifery. No sooner was I placed at table, than the young lady was called upon to pay me some civility or other; nor could I find means of escaping, from either father or mo­ther, some account of their daughter's excel­lencies, with a declaration, that they were now leaving the world, and had no business on this side the grave, but to see their children happily disposed of; that she whom I had been pleas­ed to compliment at table, was indeed the chief pleasure of their age, so good, so dutiful, so great a relief to her mamma in the care of the house, and so much her pappa's favourite for her chearfulness and wit, that it would be with the last reluctance that they should part; but to a worthy gentleman in the neighbour­hood, whom they might often visit, they would not so far consult their own gratification, [Page 6] as to refuse her; and their tenderness should be shewn in her fortune, when ever a suitable settlement was proposed.

AS I knew these overtures not to proceed from any preference of me before another e­qually rich, I could not but look with pity on young persons condemned to be set to auction, and made cheap by injudicious com­mendations; for how could they know them­selves offered and rejected a hundred times, without some loss of that soft elevation, and maiden dignity, so necessary to the completion of female excellence?

I SHALL not trouble you with a history of the stratagems practised upon my judgment, or the allurements tried upon my heart, which, if you have, in any part of your life, been ac­quainted with rural politicks, you will easily conceive. Their arts have no great variety, they think nothing worth their care but mo­ney, and supposing its influence the same upon all the world, seldom endeavour to deceive by any other means than false computations.

I WILL not deny that, by hearing myself loudly commended for my discretion, I began [Page 7] to set some value upon my character, and was unwilling to lose my credit by marrying for love. I therefore resolved to know the for­tune of the lady whom I should address, before I enquired after her wit, delicacy, or beauty.

THIS determination led me to Mitissa, the daughter of Chrysophilus, whose person was at least without deformity, and whose manners were free from reproach, as she had been bred up at a distance from all common temptations. To Mitissa, therefore, I obtained leave from her parents to pay my court, and was referred by her again to her father, whose direction she was resolved to follow. The question then was, only, what should be settled. The old gentleman made an enormous demand, with which I refused to comply. Mitissa was or­dered to exert her power; she told me, that if I could refuse her papa, I had no love for her; that she was an unhappy creature, and that I was a perfidious man: then she burst into tears, and fell into fits. All this, as I was no passionate lover, had little effect. She next refused to see me, and because I thought my­self obliged to write in terms of distress, they had once hopes of starving me into measures; but finding me inflexible, the father complied; [Page 8] with my proposal, and told me he liked me the more for being so good at a bargain.

I WAS now married to Mitissa, and was to experience the happiness of a match made without passion. Mitissa soon discovered, that she was equally prudent with myself, and had taken a husband only to be at her own command, and to have a chariot at her own call. She brought with her an old maid re­commended by her mother, who taught her all the arts of domestick management, and was, on every occasion, her chief agent and directress. They soon invented one reason or other, to quarrel with all my servants, and either prevailed on me to turn them away, or treated them so ill, they left me of themselves, and always supplied their places with some brought from her own relations. Thus they established a family, over which I had no au­thority, and which was in a perpetual conspi­racy against me; for Mitissa considered herself as having a separate interest, and thought no­thing her own, but what she laid up without my knowledge. For this reason she brought me false accounts of the expences of the house, joined with my tenants in complaints of hard times, and by means of a steward of [Page 9] her own, took rewards for soliciting abate­ments of the rent. Her great hope is to out­live me, that she may enjoy what she has thus accumulated, and therefore she is always con­triving some improvements of her jointure land, and once tried to procure an injunction to hinder me from felling timber upon it for repairs. Her father and mother assist her in her projects, and are frequently hinting that she is ill used, and reproaching me with the presents that other ladies receive from their husbands.

SUCH, Sir, was my situation for seven years, till at last my patience was exhausted, and ha­ving one day invited her father to my house, I laid the state of my affairs before him, detect­ed my wife in several of her frauds, turned out her steward, charged a constable with her maid, took my business in my own hands, re­duced her to a settled allowance, and now write this account to warn others against mar­rying those whom they have no reason to esteem.

I am, &c.

NUMB. 36, SATURDAY, July 21, 1750.


THERE is scarcely any species of poetry, that has allured more readers, or exci­ted more writers, than the pastoral. It is ge­nerally pleasing, because it entertains the mind with representations of scenes familiar to al­most every imagination, and of which all can equally judge whether they are well described. It exhibits a life, to which we have been al­ways accustomed to associate peace, and leisure, and innocence: and therefore we readily set open the heart, for the admission of its images, which contribute to drive away cares and per­turbations, and suffer ourselves, without re­sistance, to be transported to elysian regions, where we are to meet with nothing but joy, and plenty, and contentment; where every gale whispers pleasure, and every shade promi­ses repose.

IT has been maintained by some, who love to talk of what they do not know, that pasto­ral [Page 11] is the most antient poetry; and, indeed, since it is probable, that poetry is nearly of the same antiquity with rational nature, and since the life of the first men was certainly rural, we may reasonably conjecture, that, as their ideas would necessarily be borrowed from those objects with which they were acquainted, their composures, being filled chiefly with such thoughts on the visible creation as must occur to the first observers, were pastoral hymns, like those which Milton introduces the original pair singing, in the day of innocence, to the praise of their maker.

FOR the same reason that pastoral poetry was the first employment of the human imagi­nation, it is generally the first literary amuse­ment of our minds. We have seen fields, and meadows, and groves from the time that our eyes opened upon life; and are pleased with birds, and brooks, and breezes, much earlier than we engage among the actions and passions of mankind. We are therefore delighted with rural pictures, because we know the original at an age when our curiosity can be very little awakened, by descriptions of courts which we never beheld, or representati­ons of passion which we never felt.

[Page 12] THE satisfaction received from this kind of writing not only begins early, but lasts long; we do not throw it away among other childish amusements and pastimes as we advance into the intellectual world, but willingly return to it in any hour of indolence and relaxation. The images of true pastoral have always the power of exciting delight, because the works of nature, from which they are drawn, have always the same order and beauty, and conti­nue to force themselves upon our thoughts, being at once obvious to the most careless re­gard, and more than adequate to the strongest reason, and severest contemplation. Our in­clination to stillness and tranquillity is seldom much lessened by long knowledge of the busy and tumultuary part of the world. In child­hood we turn our thoughts to the country, as to the region of pleasure, we recur to it in old age as a port of rest, and perhaps with that secondary and adventitious gladness, which every man feels on reviewing those places, or recollecting those occurrences, that contribut­ed to his youthful enjoyments, and bring him back to the prime of life, when the world was gay with the bloom of novelty, when [Page 13] mirth wantoned at his side, and hope sparkled before him.

The sense of this universal pleasure has in­vited numbers without number to try their skill in pastoral performances, in which they have generally succeeded after the manner of other imitators, transmitting the same images in the same combination from one to another, till he that reads the title of a poem, may guess at the whole series of the composition; nor will a man, after the perusal of thousands of these performances, find his knowledge enlarged with a single view of nature not produced be­fore, or his imagination amused with any new application of those views to moral purposes.

THE range of pastoral is indeed narrow, for though nature itself, philosophically consi­dered, be inexhaustible, yet its general effects on the eye and on the ear are uniform, and incapable of much variety of description. Poetry cannot dwell upon the minuter distinc­tions, by which one species differs from ano­ther, without departing from that simplicity of grandeur which fills the imagination; nor diffect the latent qualities of things, without [Page 14] losing its general power of gratifying every mind by recalling its conceptions. However, as each age makes some discoveries, and those discoveries are by degrees generally known, as new plants or modes of culture are introdu­ced, and by little and little become common, pastoral might receive, from time to time, small augmentations, and exhibit once in a century a scene somewhat varied.

BUT pastoral subjects have been often, like others, taken into the hands of those that were not qualified to adorn them, men to whom the face of nature was so little known, that they have drawn it only after their own imagination, and changed or distorted her fea­tures, that their portraits might appear some­thing more than servile copies from their predecessors.

NOT only the images of rural life, but the occasions on which they can be properly pro­duced, are few and general. The state of a man confined to the employments and plea­sures of the country, is so little diversified, and exposed to so few of those accidents which produce perplexities, terrors and surprises, in more complicated transactions, that he can be [Page 15] shewn but seldom in such circumstances as at­tract curiosity. His ambition is without poli­cy, and his love without intrigue. He has no complaints to make of his rival, but that he is richer than himself; nor any disasters to la­ment, but a cruel mistress, or a bad harvest.

THE conviction of the necessity of some new source of pleasure induced Sannazarius to substitute fishermen for shepherds, to re­move the scene from the fields to the sea, and derive his sentiments from the piscatory life; for which he has been censured by succeeding criticks, because the sea is an object of terrour, and by no means proper to amuse the mind, and lay the passions asleep. Against this ob­jection he might be defended by the established maxim, that the poet has a right to select his images, and is no more obliged to shew the sea in a storm, than the land under an inun­dation; but may display all the pleasures, and conceal the dangers, of the water, as he may lay his shepherd under a shady beech, without giving him an ague, or letting a wild beast loose upon him.

THERE are however two defects in the pis­catory eclogue, which perhaps cannot be sup­plied. [Page 16] The sea, though in hot countries it is considered by those who live, like Sannazari­us, upon the coast, as a place of pleasure and diversion, has notwithstanding much less va­riety than the land, and therefore will be soon­er exhausted by a descriptive writer. When he has once shewn the sun rising or setting upon it, curled its waters with the vernal breeze, rolled the waves in gentle succession to the shore, and enumerated the fish sporting in the shallows, he has nothing remaining but what is common to all other poetry, the complaint of a nymph for a drowned lover, or the indignation of a fisher that his oysters are refused, and Mycon's accepted.

ANOTHER obstacle to the general reception of this kind of poetry, is the ignorance of maritime pleasures, in which the greater part of mankind must always live. To all the in­land inhabitants of every region, the sea is only known as an immense diffusion of wa­ters, over which men pass from one country to another, and in which life is frequently lost. They have, therefore, no opportunity of tracing, in their own thoughts, the descriptions of winding shores, and calm bays, nor can look on the poem in which they are mentio­ned, [Page 17] with other sensations, than on a sea-chart, or the metrical geography of Dionysius.

THIS defect Sannazarius was hindered from perceiving, by writing in a learned lan­guage to readers generally acquainted with the works of nature; but if he had made his attempt in any vulgar tongue, he would soon have discovered how vainly he had endeavour­ed to make that loved, which was not un­derstood.

I AM afraid it will not be found easy to im­prove the pastorals of antiquity, by any great additions or diversifications. Our descriptions may indeed differ from those of Virgil, as an English from an Italian summer, and, in some respects, as modern from antient life; but as nature is in both countries nearly the same, and as poetry has to do rather with the passions of men, which are uniform, than their cus­toms, which are changeable, the varieties, which time or place can furnish, will be in­considerable: and I shall endeavour to shew, in the next paper, how little the latter ages have contributed to the improvement of the rustick muse.

NUMB. 37. TUESDAY, July 24, 1750.

Canto quae solitus, si quando armenta vocabat,
Amphion Dircaeus.

IN writing or judging of pastoral poetry, neither the authors nor criticks of latter times seem to have paid sufficient regard to the originals left us by antiquity, but have en­tangled themselves with unnecessary difficul­ties, by advancing principles, which, having no foundation in the nature of things, are wholly to be rejected from a species of compo­sition in which, above all others, mere nature is to be regarded.

IT is, therefore, necessary to enquire af­ter some more distinct and exact idea of this kind of writing. This may, I think, be easi­ly found in the pastorals of Virgil, from whose opinion it will not appear very safe to depart, if we consider that every advantage of nature, and of fortune, concurred to complete his pro­ductions; that he was born with great accura­cy and severity of judgment, enlightened [Page 19] with all the learning of one of the brightest a­ges, and embellished with the elegance of the Roman court; that he employed his powers rather in improving, than inventing, and therefore must have endeavoured to recom­pense the want of novelty by exactness; that taking Theocritus for his original, he found pastoral far advanced towards perfection, and that having so great a rival, he must have pro­ceeded with uncommon caution.

IF we search the writings of Virgil, for the true definition of a pastoral, it will be found a poem in which any action or passion is represent­ed by its effects upon a country life. Whatsoe­ver therefore may, according to the common course of things, happen in the country, may afford a subject for a pastoral poet.

IN this definition, it will immediately occur to those who are versed in the writings of the modern criticks, that there is no mention of the golden age. I cannot indeed easily disco­ver why it is thought necessary to refer descrip­tions of a rural state to remote times, nor can I perceive that any writer has consistently pre­served the Arcadian manners and sentiments. The only reason, that I have read, on which [Page 20] this rule has been sounded, is, that, according to the customs of modern life, it is improba­ble that shepherds should be capable of harmo­nious numbers, or delicate sentiments; and therefore the reader must exalt his ideas of the pastoral character, by carrying his thoughts back to the age in which the care of herds and flocks was the employment of the wisest and greatest men.

THESE reasoners seem to have been led in­to their hypothesis, by considering pastoral, not in general, as a representation of rural na­ture, and consequently as exhibiting the ideas and sentiments of those, whoever they are, to whom the country affords, pleasure or em­ployment, but simply as a dialogue, or narra­tive of men actually tending sheep, and busied in the lowest and most laborious offices; from whence they very readily concluded, since characters must necessarily be preserved, that either the sentiments must sink to the level of the speakers, or the speakers must be raised to the height of the sentiments.

IN consequence of these original errors, a thousand precepts have been given, which have only contributed to perplex and to con­found. [Page 21] Some have thought it necessary that the imaginary manners of the golden age should be universally preserved, and have there­fore believed, that nothing more could be ad­mitted in pastoral, than lilies and roses, and rocks and streams, among which are heard the gentle whispers of chaste fondness, or the soft complaints of amorous impatience. In pastoral, as in other writings, chastity of sen­timent ought doubtless to be observed, and purity of manners to be represented; not be­cause the poet is confined to the images of the golden age, but because, having the subject in his own choice, he ought always to consult the interest of virtue.

THESE advocates for the golden age lay down other principles, not very consistent with their general plan; for they tell us, that, to support the character of the shepherd, it is proper that all refinement should be avoided, and that some slight instances of ignorance should be interspersed. Thus the shepherd in Virgil is supposed to have forgot the name of Anaximander, and in Pope the term Zodiack is too hard for a rustick apprehension. But if we place our shepherds in their primitive condition, we may give them learning among [Page 22] their other qualifications; and if we suffer them to allude at all to things of later exist­ence, which, perhaps, cannot with any great propriety be allowed, there can be no danger of making them speak with too much accu­racy, since they conversed with divinities, and transmitted to succeeding ages the arts of life.

OTHER writers, having the mean and de­spicable condition of a shepherd always before them, conceive it necessary to degrade the lan­guage of pastoral, by obsolete terms and rus­tick words, which they very learnedly call Dorick, without reflecting, that they thus be­come authors of a mingled dialect, which no human being ever could have spoken, that they may as well refine the speech as the sen­timents of their personages, and that none of the inconsistencies which they endeavour to avoid, is greater than that of joining elegance of thought with coarseness of diction. Spenser begins one of his pastorals with studied bar­barity;

Diggon Davie, I bid her good-day:
Or, Diggon her is, or I missay.
Dig. Her was her while it was day-light,
But now her is a most wretched wight.

[Page 23] What will the reader imagine to be the sub­ject on which speakers like these exercise their eloquence? Will he not be somewhat disap­pointed, when he finds them met together to condemn the corruptions of the church of Rome? Surely, at the same time that a shep­herd learns theology, he may gain some ac­quaintance with his native language.

PASTORAL admits of all ranks of persons, because persons of all ranks inhabit the coun­try. It excludes not, therefore, on account of the characters necessary to be introduced, any elevation or delicacy of sentiment; those ideas only are improper, which, not owing their original to rural objects, are not pastoral. Such is the exclamation in Virgil.

Nunc scio quid sit Amor, duris in cautibus illum
Ismarus, aut Rhodope, aut extremi Garamantes,
Nec generis nostri puerum nec sanguinis, edunt;

which Pope endeavouring to copy, was car­ried to still greater impropriety.

I know thee, Love, wild as the raging main,
More fierce than tigers on the Libyan plain;
Thou wert from Etna's burning entrails torn,
Begot in tempests, and in thunders born!

Sentiments like these, as they have no ground [Page 24] in nature, are indeed of little value in any poem, but in pastoral they are particularly li­able to censure, because they want that exalta­tion above common life, which in tragick or heroick writings often reconciles us to bold flights and daring figures.

PASTORAL being the representation of an action or passion, by its effects upon a country life, has nothing peculiar but its confinement to rural imagery, without which it ceases to be pastoral. This is its true characteristick, and this it cannot lose by any dignity of senti­ment, or beauty of diction. The Pollio of Virgil, with all its elevation, is a composition truly bucolic, though rejected by the criticks; for all the images are either taken from the country, or from the religion of the age com­mon to all parts of the empire.

The Silenus is indeed of a more disputable kind, because though the scene lies in the country, the song being religious and histori­cal, had been no less adapted to any other au­dience or place. Neither can it well be de­fended as a fiction, for the introduction of a God seems to imply the golden age, and yet [Page 25] he alludes to many subsequent transactions, and mentions Gallus the poet's contemporary.

IT seems necessary, to the perfection of this poem, that the occasion which is supposed to produce it, be at least not inconsistent with a country life, or less likely to interest those who have retired into places of solitude and quiet, than the more busy part of mankind. It is therefore improper to give the title of a pastoral to verses, in which the speakers, af­ter the slight mention of their flocks, fall to complaints of errors in the church, and cor­ruptions in the government, or to lamentati­ons of the death of some illustrious person, whom when once the poet has called a shep­herd, he has no longer any labour upon his hands, but can make the clouds weep, and lilies wither, and the sheep hang their heads, without art or learning, genius or study.

IT is part of Claudian's character of his rus­tick, that he computes his time not by the succession of consuls, but of harvests. Those who pass their days in retreats distant from the theatres of business, are always least likely to hurry their imagination with publick affairs.

[Page 26] THE facility of treating actions or events in the pastoral stile has incited many writers, from whom more judgment might have been expected, to put the sorrow or the joy which the occasion required into the mouth of Daphne or of Thyrsis, and as one absurdity must natu­rally be expected to make way for another, they have written with an utter disregard both of life and nature, and filled their productions with mythological allusions, with incredible fictions, and with sentiments which neither passion nor reason could have dictated, since the change which religion has made in the whole system of the world.

NUMB. 38. SATURDAY, July 28, 1750.

Auream quisquis mediocritatem
Diligit, tutus caret obsoleti
Sordibus tecti, caret invidendâ
Sobrius aulâ.

AMONG many fanciful parallels which men of more imagination than expe­rience have drawn between the natural and moral state of the world, it has been observed [Page 27] that happiness as well as virtue consists in me­diocrity; that it is necessary, even to him who has no other care than to pass through the pre­sent state with ease and safety, to avoid every extreme; and that the middle path is the road of security, on either side of which, are not only the pitfals of vice, but the precipices of ruin.

THUS the maxim of Cleobulus the Lindi­an, [...], Mediocrity is best, has been long considered as an universal principle, ex­tended through the whole compass of life and nature. The experience of every age seems to have given it new confirmation, and to shew that nothing, however specious or allu­ring, is to be persued with propriety, or en­joyed with safety, beyond certain limits.

EVEN the gifts of nature, which may truly be considered as the most solid and durable of all terrestrial advantages, are sound, when they exceed the middle point, to be no very certain causes of felicity, but to draw the pos­sessor into many calamities, easily avoided by others that have been less bountifully enriched or adorned. We see every day women pe­rishing with insamy, by having been too will­ing [Page 28] to set their beauty to show, and others, though not with equal guilt or misery, yet with very sharp remorse, languishing in decay, neglect, and obscurity, for having rated their youthful charms at too high a price. And, indeed, if the opinion of Bacon be thought to deserve much regard, very few sighs would be vented for eminent and superlative elegance of form; "for beautiful women," says he, "are seldom of any great accomplishments, because they, for the most part, study be­haviour rather than virtue."

HEALTH and vigour, and a happy consti­tution of the corporeal frame, are, to a com­mon degree, of absolute necessity to the en­joyment of the comforts, and to the perfor­mance of the duties of life, and requisite in yet a greater measure to the accomplishment of any thing illustrious or distinguished; yet even these, if we can judge by their apparent conse­quences, are sometimes not very beneficial to those on whom they are most liberally bestow­ed. They that frequent the chambers of the sick, will generally find the sharpest pains, and most stubborn maladies among them whom confidence of the force of nature for­merly betrayed to negligence and irregularity; [Page 29] and that superfluity of strength, which was at once their boast and their snare, has often, in the latter part of life, no other effect than that it continues them long in impotence and anguish.

THESE gifts of nature are, however, al­ways blessings in themselves, and to be ac­knowledged with gratitude to him that gives them; since they are, in their regular and le­gitimate effects, productive of happiness, and prove pernicious only by voluntary corruption, or idle negligence. And as there is little dan­ger of persuing them with too much ardour or anxiety, because no skill or diligence can hope to procure them, the uncertainty of their influence upon our lives is mentioned, not to depreciate their real value, but to re­press the discontent and envy to which the want of them often gives occasion in those who do not enough suspect their own frailty, nor consider how much less is the calamity of not possessing great powers, than of not using them aright.

OF all those things that make us superior to others, there is none so much within the reach of our endeavours as riches, nor any [Page 30] thing more eagerly or constantly desired. Poverty is an evil always in our view, an e­vil complicated with so many circumstances of uneasiness and vexation, that every man is studious to avoid it. Some degree of riches is therefore required, that we may be exempt from the gripe of necessity; when this pur­pose is once attained, we naturally wish for more, that the evil which is regarded with so much horror may be yet at a greater distance from us; as he that has once felt or dreaded the paw of a savage, will not be at rest till they are parted by some barrier, which may take away all possibility of a second attack.

TO this point, if fear be not unreasonably indulged, Cleobulus would, perhaps, not re­fuse to extend his mediocrity. But it almost always happens, that the man who grows rich changes his notions of poverty, states his wants by some new measure, and from flying the enemy that persued him, bends his endea­vours to overtake those whom he sees before him. The power of gratifying his appetites encreases their demands; a thousand wishes croud in upon him importunate to be satisfied, and vanity and ambition open prospects to de­sire, [Page 31] which still grow wider, as they are more contemplated.

THUS in time [...] enlarged without bounds; an eagerness for increase of posses­sions deluges the soul, and we sink into the gulphs of insatiability, only because we do not sufficiently consider, that all real need is very soon supplied, and all real danger of its invasion easily precluded; that the claims of vanity, being without limits, must be denied at last; and that, perhaps, the pain of repres­sing them is less pungent before they have been long accustomed to comphance.

WHOSOEVER shall look heedfully upon those who are eminent for their riches, will not think their condition such as that he should hazard his [...], and much less his virtue to obtain it. For all that great wealth generally gives above a moderate fortune, is more room for the freaks of caprice, and more privilege for ignorance and vice, a quicker succession of flatteries, and a larger circle of voluptuousness.

THERE is one reason seldom remarked which makes riches less desirable. Too much [Page 32] wealth is very frequently the occasion of po­verty. He whom the wantonness of abun­dance has once softened, very easily sinks into neglect of his affaris; and he that thinks he can afford to be negligent, is not far from be­ing poor. He will soon be involved in per­plexities, which his inexperience will render unsurmountable; he will fly for help to those whose interest it is that he should be more dis­tressed, and will be at last torn to pieces by the vulturs that always hover over fortunes in decay.

WHEN the plains of India were burnt up by a long continuance of drought, Hamet and Raschid, two neighbouring shepherds, faint with thirst, stood at the common boundary of their grounds, with their flocks and herds panting round them, and in extremity of dis­tress prayed for water. On a sudden the air was becalmed, the birds ceased to chirp, and the flocks to bleat. They turned their eyes every way, and saw a being of mighty stature advancing through the valley, whom they know upon his nearer approach to be the Ge­nius of distribution. In one hand he held the sheaves of plenty, and in the other the sabre of destruction. The shepherds stood trem­bling, [Page 33] and would have retired before him; but he called to them with a voice gentle as the breeze that plays in the evening among the spices of Sabaea; "Fly not from your bene­factor, children of the dust! I am come to offer you gifts, which only your own folly can make vain. You here pray for water, and water I will bestow; let me know with how much you will be satisfied: speak not rashly; consider, that of whatever can be enjoyed by the body, excess is no less dangerous than scarcity. When you re­member the pain of thirst, do not forget the danger of suffocation. Now, Hamet, tell me your request."

"O BEING, kind and beneficent," says Hamet, "let thine eye pardon my confusion. I entreat a little brook, which in summer shall never be dry, and in winter never overflow." "It is granted," replies the Genius; and immediately he opened the ground with his sabre, and a fountain bub­bling up under their feet scattered its rills over the meadows; the flowers renewed their fragrance, the trees spread a greener foliage, and the flocks and herds quenched their thirst.

[Page 34] THEN turning to Raschid, the Genius in­vited him likewise to offer his petition. "I request, says Raschid, that thou wilt turn the Ganges through my grounds, with all his waters, and all their inhabitants." Ha­met was struck with the greatness of his neigh­bour's sentiments, and secretly repined in his heart, that he had not made the same petition before him; when the Genius spoke, "Rash man, be not insatiable! remember, to thee that is nothing which thou canst not use; and how are thy wants greater than the wants of Hamet?" Raschid repeated his desire, and pleased himself with the mean ap­pearance that Hamet would make in the pre­sence of the proprietor of the Ganges. The Genius then retired towards the river, and the two shepherds stood waiting the event. As Ras­chid was looking with contempt upon his neighbour, on a sudden was heard the roar of torrents, and they found by the mighty stream that the mounds of the Ganges were broken. The flood rolled forward into the lands of Raschid, his plantations were torn up, his flocks overwhelmed, he was swept away be­fore it, and a crocodile devoured him.

NUMB. 39. TUESDAY, July 31, 1750.

‘Infelix—nulli bene nupta marito. ’AUSONIUS.

THE condition of the female sex has been frequently the subject of compassion to medical writers, because their constitution of body is such, that every state of life brings its peculiar diseases: they are placed, according to the proverb, between Scylla and Charybdis, with no other choice than of dangers equally formidable; and whether they embrace mar­riage, or determine upon a single life, are ex­posed, in consequence of their choice, to sick­ness, misery, and death.

IT were to be wished that so great a degree of natural infelicity might not be increased by adventitious and artificial miseries; and that beings whose beauty we cannot behold with­out admiration, and whose delicacy we can­not contemplate without tenderness, might be suffered to enjoy every alleviation of their sor­rows. But, however it has happened, the custom of the world seems to have been formed ed in a kind of a conspiracy against them, tho [Page 36] it does not appear but they had themselves an equal share in its establishment; and prescrip­tions which, by whomsoever they were be­gun, are now of very long continuance, and by consequence of great authority, seem to have almost excluded them from content, in whatsoever condition they shall pass their lives.

IF they refuse the society of men, and con­tinue in that state which is reasonably suppo­sed to place happiness most in their own pow­er, they seldom give those that observe their conduct, or frequent their conversation, any exalted notions of the blessing of liberty; for, whether it be that they are angry to see with what inconsiderate eagerness the rest of their sex rushes into slavery, or with what absurd va­nity the married ladies boast the change of their condition, and condemn the heroines who endeavour by their example to assert the natural dignity of their sex; whether they are conscious that like barren countries they are free, only because they were never thought to deserve the trouble of a conquest; or imagine that their sincerity is not always unsuspected, when they declare their contempt for men; it is certain that they generally appear to have [Page 37] some great and incessant cause of uneasiness, and that many of them have at last been per­suaded, by powerful rhetoricians, to try the life which they had so long contemned, and put on the bridal ornaments at a time when they least became them.

WHAT are the real causes of the discontent and impatience which the ladies always disco­ver in a virgin state, I shall perhaps take some other occasion to examine. That it is by no means to be envied for its happiness, appears from the solicitude with which it is generally avoided; from the opinion universally preva­lent among the sex, that no woman continues long in it but because she is not invited to for­sake it, and the disposition which they always shew to treat old maids as the refuse of the world; and from the willingness with which it is often quitted at last, by those whose expe­rience has enabled them to judge at leisure, and decide with authority.

YET such is the condition of life, that whatever is proposed, it is much easier to find reasons for avoiding than embracing. Mar­riage, though a certain security from the re­proach and solitude of antiquated virginity, [Page 38] has yet, as it is usually conducted, many dis­advantages, which take away much from the pleasure which society promises, and which it might afford, if pleasures and pains were ho­nestly shared, and mutual confidence inviola­bly preserved.

THE miseries, indeed, which many ladies suffer under conjugal vexations, are to be considered with great pity, because their hus­bands are often not taken by them as objects of affection, but forced upon them by authori­ty and violence, or by persuasion and impor­tunity, equally resistless when urged by those whom they have been always accustomed to reverence and obey; and it very seldom ap­pears, that those who are thus despotick in the disposal of their children, pay any regard to their domestick and personal felicity, or think it so much to be enquired whether they will be happy, as whether they will be rich.

IT may be urged, however, in extenuation of this crime, which parents, not in any other respect to be numbered with robbers and as­sassins, frequently commit, that, in their esti­mation, riches and happiness are equivalent terms, and that having passed their lives with [Page 39] no other wish than that of adding acre to acre, and filling one bag after another, they imagine themselves to have sufficiently consi­dered the advantage of a daughter, when they have secured her a large jointure, and given her reasonable expectations of living in the midst of those satisfactions, with which she had seen her father and mother solacing their age.

THERE is an oeconomical oracle received among the prudential and grave part of the world, which advises fathers to marry their daughters lest they should marry themselves; by which I suppose it is implied, that women left to their own conduct, generally unite themselves with such partners as can contri­bute very little to their felicity. Who was the author of this maxim, or with what inten­tion it was originally uttered, I have not yet discovered; but imagine that however solemn­ly it may be transmitted, or however implicit­ly received, it can confer no authority which nature has denied; it cannot license Titius to be unjust, lest Caia should be imprudent; nor give right to imprison for life, lest li­berty should be ill employed.

[Page 40] THAT the ladies have sometimes incurred imputations which might naturally produce edicts not much in their favour, must be con­fessed by their warmest advocates; and I have indeed seldom observed, that when the ten­derness or virtue of their parents has preserved them from forced marriage, and left them at large to chuse their own path in the labyrinth of life, they have made any great advantage of their liberty; for they have generally taken the opportunity of an independent fortune to trifle away their youth in the amusements of the town, and lose their bloom in a hurry of diversions, recurring in a succession too quick to leave room for any settled reflection; they have grown old without growing wise, have seen the world without gaining experience, and at last have regulated their choice by mo­tives trivial as those of a girl, or mercenary as those of a miser.

MELANTHIA came to town upon the death of her father, with a very large fortune, and with the reputation of a much larger: she was therefore followed and caressed by many men of rank, and by some of understanding; but having an insatiable desire of pleasure, she [Page 41] was not at leisure, from the park, the gar­dens, the theatres, visits, assemblies, and masquerades, to attend seriously to any pro­posal, but was still impatient for a new flatter­er, and neglected marriage as always in her power; till in time her admirers fell away, some wearied with treating, others disgusted with her folly, and others offended by her in­constancy; she heard of concerts to which she was not invited, and was more than once for­ced to sit still at an assembly, for want of a partner. In this distress, chance threw in her way Philotryphus, a man vain, glittering, and thoughtless as herself, who had spent a small fortune in equipage and dress, and was shining in the last suit for which his taylor would give him credit. He had been long endeavouring to retrieve his extravagance by marriage, and therefore soon paid his court to Melanthia, who after some weeks of insensibility at last saw him at a ball, and was wholly overcome by his performance in a minuet. They mar­ried; but a man cannot always dance, and Philotryphus had no other method of pleasing: however, as neither was in any great degree vitious, they live together with no greater un­happiness, than vacuity of mind, and that tastelessness of life, which proceeds from a sa­tiety [Page 42] of juvenile pleasures, and an utter inabi­lity to fill their place by nobler and more suita­ble employments. As they have known the fashionable world at the same time, they agree in their notions of all those subjects on which they ever speak, and being able to add nothing to the ideas of each other, they are much inclined to conversation, but very often join in one wish, "That they could dream more, and think less."

Argyris, after having refused a thousand of­fers from men equal in rank and fortune, at last consented to marry Cotylus, the younger brother of a duke, a man without elegance of mien, beauty of person, or force of under­standing; who, while he courted her, could not always forbear allusions to her birth, and hints how cheaply she would purchase an al­liance to so illustrious a family. His conduct from the hour of his marriage has been insuf­ferably tyrannical, nor has he any other regard to her than what arises from his desire that her appearance may not disgrace him. Upon this principle, however, he always orders that she should be gaily dressed, and splendidly at­tended; and she has, among all her mortifica­tions, the happiness, which she always desi­red, of taking place of her elder sister.

NUMB. 40, SATURDAY, August 4, 1750.

—Nec dicet, cur ego amicum
Offendam in nugis? Hae nugae seria ducent
In mala derisum semel.—

IT has been very frequently remarked, that authors are genus irritabile, a generation very easily put out of temper, and that they sel­dom fail of giving proofs of their irascibility, upon the slightest attack of criticism, or the most gentle or modest offer of advice and in­formation.

AS writers have generally been most ac­quainted with one another, they have repre­sented this character as chiefly prevailing among men of literature, which a more ex­tensive view of the world would have shewn them to be diffused through all human nature, to mingle itself with every species of ambition, and desire of praise, and to discover its effects with greater or less restraint, and under dis­guises more or less artful, in every place and in every condition.

[Page 44] THE quarrels of writers, indeed, are more observed, because they necessarily appeal to the decision of the publick. Their enmities are incited by applauses from their parties, and prolonged by treacherous encouragement for general diversion; and when the contest hap­pens to rise high between men of genius and learning, its memory is continued for the same reason as its vehemence was at first pro­moted, because it gratifies the malevolence or curiosity of readers, and relieves the vacan­cies of life with amusement and laughter. The personal disputes, therefore, of rivals in wit are sometimes transmitted to posterity, when the grudges and heart-burnings of men less conspicuous, though carried on with equal bitterness, and productive of greater evils, are exposed to the knowledge of those only whom they nearly affect, and suffered to pass off and be forgotten among common and casual trans­actions.

THE resentment which the discovery of a fault or folly produces, must bear a certain proportion to our pride, and will regularly be more acrimonious as pride is more immedi­ately the principle of action. In whatever [Page 45] therefore we wish or imagine ourselves to ex­cel, we shall always be displeased to have our claims to reputation disputed, and generally more displeased, if the accomplishment be such as can expect reputation only for its re­ward. For this reason it is common to find men break out into rage at any insinuations to the disadvantage of their wit, who have born with great patience reflections on their morals; and of women it has been always known, that no censure wounds so deeply, or rankles so long, as that which charges them with want of beauty.

AS men frequently fill their imaginations with trifling persuits, and please themselves most with things of small importance, I have often known very severe and lasting ma­levolence excited by unlucky censures, which would have fallen without any effect, had they not happened to wound a part remarkably tender. Gustulus, who valued himself upon the nicety of his palate, disinherited his eldest son for telling him that the wine, which he was then commending, was the same which he had sent away the day before as not fit to be drunk. Proculus withdrew his kindness from a nephew, whom he had always considered as [Page 46] the most promising genius of the age, for hap­pening to praise in his presence the graceful horsemanship of Marius. And Fortunio, when he was privy counsellor, procured a clerk to be dismissed from one of the publick offices, in which he was eminent for his skill and assidu­ity, because he had been heard to say over a bottle, that there was another man in the kingdom, on whose skill at billiards he would lay his money against Fortunio's.

FELICIA and Floretta had been bred up in one house, and shared all the pleasures and en­dearments of infancy together. They enter­ed upon life at the same time, and continued their confidence and friendship; consulted each other in every change of their dress, and every admission of a new lover; thought every di­version more entertaining whenever it hap­pened that both were present, and when sepa­rate justified the conduct, and celebrated the excellencies of one another. Such was their intimacy, and such their fidelity; till a birth­night approached, when Floretta took one morning an opportunity, as they were consul­ting upon new cloaths, to advise her friend not to dance at the ball, and informed her that her performance the year before had not [Page 47] answered the expectation which her other ac­complishments had raised. Felicia commend­ed her sincerity, and thanked her for the cau­tion; but told her that she danced to please herself, and was in very little concern what the men might take the liberty of saying, but that if her appearance gave her dear Floretta any uneasiness she would stay away. Floretta had now nothing left but to make new pro­testations of sincerity and affection, with which Felicia was so well satisfied, that they parted with more than usual fondness. They still continued to visit, with this only difference, that Felicia was more punctual than before, and often declared how high a value she put upon sincerity, how much she thought that goodness to be esteemed which would venture to admonish a friend of an error, and with what gratitude advice was to be received, even when it might happen to proceed from mistake.

IN a few months Felicia, with great seri­ousness, told Floretta, that though her beauty was such as gave charms to whatever she did, and her qualifications so extensive, that she could not fail of excellence in any attempt, yet she thought herself obliged by the duties of [Page 48] friendship to inform her, that if ever she be­trayed want of judgment, it was by too fre­quent compliance with solicitations to sing, for that her manner was somewhat ungraceful, and her voice had no great compass. It is true, says Floretta, when I sung three nights ago at lady Sprightly's, I was hoarse with a cold; but I sing for my own satisfaction, and am not in the least pain whether I am liked. However, my dear Felicia's kindness is not the less, and I shall always think myself hap­py in so true a friend.

FROM this time, they never saw each other without mutual professions of esteem, and declarations of confidence, but went soon af­ter into the country to visit their relations. When they came back, they were prevailed on, by the importunity of new acquaintance, to take lodgings in different parts of the town, and had frequent occasion when they met, to bewail the distance at which they were placed, and the uncertainty which each experienced of finding the other at home.

THUS are the fondest and firmest friend­ships dissolved, by such openness, and since­rity, as interrupt our enjoyment of our own [Page 49] approbation, or recalls us to the remembrance of those failings, which we are more willing to indulge than to correct.

IT is by no means necessary to imagine, that he who is offended at advice, was igno­rant of the fault, and resents the admonition as a false charge; for perhaps it is most natu­ral to be enraged, when there is the strongest conviction of our own guilt. While we can easily defend our character, we are no more disturbed at an accusation, than we are alarm­ed by an enemy whom we are sure to conquer; and whose attack, therefore, will bring us honour without danger. But when a man feels the reprehension of a friend seconded by his own heart, he is easily heated into resent­ment and revenge, either because he hoped, that the fault of which he was conscious had escaped the notice of others; or that his friend had looked upon it with tenderness and exte­nuation, and excused it for the sake of his o­ther virtues; or had considered him as too wise to need advice, or too delicate to be shocked with reproach: or, because we can­not feel without pain those reflections roused, which we have been endeavouring to lay a­sleep; and when pain has produced anger, [Page 50] who would not willingly believe, that it ought to be discharged on others, rather than on himself.

THE resentment produced by sincerity, whatever be its immediate cause, is so certain, and generally so keen, that very few have magnanimity sufficient for the practice of a duty, which, above most others, exposes its votaries to hardships and persecutions; yet friendship without it is of a very little value, since the great use of so close an intimacy is that our virtues may be guarded and encour­aged, and our vices repressed in their first ap­pearance by timely detection, and salutary re­monstrances.

IT is decreed by providence, that nothing truly valuable shall be obtained in our present state, but with difficulty and danger. He that hopes for that pleasure which is to be gained by an unrestrained communication of senti­ments, must dare to hazard, by unpleasing truths, that regard which he aspires to merit. The chief rule to be observed in the exercise of this dangerous office, is to preserve it pure from all mixture of interest or vanity; to for­bear admonition or reproof, when our con­sciences [Page 51] tell us that they are incited not by the hopes of reforming faults, but the desire of shewing our discernment, or gratifying our own pride by the mortification of another. It is not indeed certain that the most refined caution will find a proper time, for bringing a man to the knowledge of his own failings, or the most zealous benevolence reconcile him to that judgment, by which they are detected; but he who endeavours only the happiness of him whom he reproves, will always have either the satisfaction of obtaining or deserving kind­ness; if he succeeds, he benefits his friend, and if he fails, he has at least the consciousness that he suffers for only doing well.

NUMB. 41. TUESDAY, August 7, 1750.

Nulla recordanti lux est ingrata gravisque,
Nulla suit eujus non meminisse velit.
Ampliat aetatis spatium sibi vir bonus, hoe est
Vivere bis, vitâ posse priore srui.

SO few of the hours of life are filled up with objects adequate to the mind of man, and so frequently are we in want of pre­sent [Page 25] pleasure or employment, that we are for­ced to have recourse every moment to the past and future for supplemental satisfactions, and relieve the vacuities of our being, by recol­lection of former passages, or anticipation of events to come.

I CANNOT but consider this necessity of searching on every side for matter on which the attention may be employed, as a strong proof of the superior and celestial nature of the soul of man. We have no reason to believe that other creatures have higher faculties, or more extensive capacities, than the preservati­on of themselves, or of their species, requires; they seem always to be fully employed, or to be completely at ease without employ­ment, to feel few intellectual miseries or plea­sures, and to have no exuberance of under­standing to lay out upon curiosity or caprice, but to have their minds exactly adapted to their bodies, with few other ideas than such as corporal pain or pleasure impress upon them.

OF memory, which makes so large a part of the excellence of the human soul, and which has so much influence upon all its other [Page 53] powers, but a small portion has been allotted to the animal world. We do not find the grief, with which the dams lament the loss of their young, proportionate to the tenderness with which they caress, the assiduity with which they feed, or the vehemence with which they defend them. Their regard for their offspring, when it is before their eyes, is not, in appearance, less than that of a hu­man parent; but when it is taken away, it is very soon forgotten, and, after a short absence, if brought again, wholly disregarded.

THAT they have very little remembrance of any thing once out of the reach of their senses, and searce any power of comparing the present with the past, and regulating their conclusions from experience, may be gathered from this, that their intellects are produced in their full perfection. The sparrow that was hatched last spring makes her first nest the ensuing season, of the same materials, and with the same art, as in any following year; and the hen conducts and shelters her first brood of chickens with all the prudence that she ever attains.

IT has been asked by men who love to per­plex [Page 54] any thing that is plain to common under­standings, how reason differs from instinct; and Prior has with no great propriety made Solomon himself declare, that, to distinguish them is the fool's ignorance, and the pedant's pride. To give an accurate answer to a ques­tion, of which the terms are not compleatly understood, is impossible; we do not know in what either reason or instinct consist, and therefore cannot tell with exactness how they differ; but surely he that contemplates a ship and a bird's nest, will not be long without finding out, that the idea of the one was im­pressed at once, and continued through all the progressive descents of the species, without va­riation or improvement; and that the other is the result of experiments compared with ex­periments, has grown, by accumulated obser­vations, from less to greater excellence, and exhibits the collective knowledge of different ages, and various professions.

MEMORY is the purveyor of reason, the power which places those images before the mind upon which the judgment is to be exer­cised, and which treasures up the determinati­on, that are once passed, as the rules of future action, or grounds of subsequent conclusions.

[Page 55] IT is, indeed, the faculty of remembrance, which may be said to place us in the class of moral agents. If we were to act only in con­sequence of some immediate impulse, and re­ceive no direction from internal motives of choice, we should be pushed forward by an invincible fatality, without power or reason for the most part to prefer one thing to ano­ther, because we could make no comparison but of objects which might both happen to be present.

WE owe to memory not only the increase of our knowledge, and our progress in ratio­nal enquiries, but many other intellectual plea­sures. Indeed, almost all that we can be said to enjoy is past or future; the present is in perpetual motion, leaves us as soon as it ar­rives, ceases to be present before its presence is well perceived, and is only known to have ex­isted by the effects which it leaves behind. The greatest part of our ideas arises, there­fore, from the view before or behind us, and we are happy or miserable, according as we are affected by the survey of our life, or our prospect of future existence.

[Page 56] WITH regard to futurity, when events are at such a distance from us, that we cannot take the whole concatenation into our view, we have generally power enough over our ima­gination to turn it upon pleasing scenes, and can promise ourselves riches, honours, and delights, without intermingling those vexati­ons and anxieties, with which all human en­joyments are polluted. If fear breaks in on one side, and alarms us with dangers and disappointments, we can call in hope on the other, to solace us with rewards, and escapes, and victories; so that we are seldom without means of palliating remote evils, and can ge­nerally sooth ourselves to tranquillity, when­ever any troublesome presage happens to at­tack us.

IT is therefore, I believe, much more com­mon for the solitary and thoughtful, to amuse themselves with schemes of the future, than reviews of the past. For the future is pliant and ductile, and will be easily moulded by a strong fancy into any form. But the images which memory presents are of a stubborn and untractable nature, the objects of remem­brance have already existed, and left their sig­nature [Page 57] behind them impressed upon the mind, so as to defy all attempts of rasure, or of change.

AS the satisfactions, therefore, arising from memory are less arbitrary, they are more so­lid, and are, indeed, the only joys which we can call our own. Whatever we have once reposited, as Dryden expresses it, in the sacred treasure of the past, is out of the reach of ac­cident, or violence, nor can be lost either by our own weakness, or another's malice:

—Non tamen irritum
Quodcunque retro est efficiet, neque
Diffinget, infectumque reddet,
Quod sugiens semel hora vexit.

THERE is certainly no greater happiness, than to be able to look back on a life usefully and virtuously employed, to trace our own progress in existence, by such tokens as excite neither shame nor sorrow. Life, in which nothing has been done or suffered to distin­guish one day from another, is to him that has passed it, as if it had never been, except that he is conscious how ill he has husbanded the great deposit of his creator. Life, made me­morable by crimes, and diversified thro' its [Page 58] several periods by wickedness, is indeed easily reviewed, but reviewed only with horror and remorse.

THE great consideration which ought to in­fluence us in the use of the present moment, is to arise from the effect, which, as well or ill applied, it must have upon the time to come; for though its actual existence be in­conceivably short, yet its effects are unlimited, and there is not the smallest point of time but may extend its consequences, either to our hurt or our advantage, through all eternity, and give us reason to remember it for ever, with anguish or exultation.

THE time of life, in which memory seems particularly to claim predominance over the other faculties of the mind, is our declining age. It has been remarked by former writers, that old men are generally narrative, and fall easily into recitals of past transactions, and accounts of persons known to them in their youth. When we approach the verge of the grave it is more eminently true; ‘Vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat incloare longam.’ We have no longer any possibility of great vi­cissitudes [Page 59] in our favour; the changes which are to happen in the world will come too late for our accommodation; and those who have no hope before them, and to whom their pre­sent state is painful and irksome, must of ne­cessity turn their thoughts back to try what retrospect will afford. It ought, therefore, to be the care of those who wish to pass the last hours with comfort, to lay up such a treasure of pleasing ideas, as shall support the expenses of that time, which is to depend wholly upon the fund already acquired.

—Petite hine juvenesque senesque
Finem animo certum, miserisque viatica canis.

IN youth, however unhappy, we solace ourselves with the hope of better fortune, and, however vicious, appease our consciences with intentions of repentance; but the time comes at last, in which life has no more to promise, in which happiness can be drawn only from recollection, and virtue will be all that we can recollect with pleasure.

NUMB. 42. SATURDAY, August 11, 1750.

‘Mihi tarda fluunt ingrataque tempora. ’HOR.



I AM no great admirer of grave writings, and therefore very frequently lay your papers aside before I have read them through; yet I cannot but confess that, by slow degrees, you have raised my opinion of your under­standing, and, that, though I believe it will be long before I can be prevailed upon to re­gard you with much kindness, you have, how­ever, more of my esteem than those whom I sometimes make happy with opportunities to fill my tea-pot, or pick up my fan. I shall therefore chuse you for the confident of my distresses, and ask your counsel with regard to the means of conquering or escaping them, though I never expect from you any of that softness and pliancy, which constitutes the perfection of a companion for the ladies: as in the place where I now am, I have recourse [Page 61] to the mastiff for protection, though I have no intention of making him a lap-dog.

MY mamma is a very fine lady, who has more numerous, and more frequent assemblies at her house, than any other person in the same quarter of the town. I was bred from my earliest infancy in a perpetual tumult of pleasure, and remember to have heard of little else than messages, visits, play-houses, and balls, of the aukwardness of one woman, and the coquetry of another, the charming con­venience of some rising fashion, the difficulty of playing a new game, the incidents of a masquerade, and the dresses of a court night. I knew before I was ten years old all the rules of paying and receiving visits, and to how much civility every one of my acquaintance was entitled; and was able to return, with the proper degree of reserve, or of vivacity, the stated and established answer to every compliment; so that I was very soon celebra­ted as a wit, and a beauty, and had heard be­fore I was thirteen all that is ever said to a young lady. My mother was generous to so uncommon a degree as to be pleased with my advance into life, and allowed me, without envy or reproof, to enjoy the same happiness [Page 62] with herself; though most women about her own age were very angry to see young girls so forward, and many fine gentlemen told her how cruel it was to throw new chains upon mankind, and to tyrannize over them at the same time with her own charms, and those of her daughter.

I HAVE now lived two and twenty years, and have passed of each year nine months in town, and three at Richmond; so that my time has been spent uniformly in the same company, and the same amusements, except as fashion has introduced new diversions, or the revolutions of the gay world have afford­ed new successions of wits and beaus. How­ever my mother is so good an oeconomist of pleasure, that I have no spare hours upon my hands; for every morning brings some new appointment, and every night is hurried away by the necessity of making our appearance at different places, and of being with one lady at the opera, and with another at the card table.

WHEN the time came of settling our scheme of felicity for the summer, it was de­temined that I should pay a visit to a rich aunt [Page 63] in a remote county. As you know the chief conversation of all tea tables, in the spring, a­rises from a communication of the manner in which time is to be passed till winter, it was a great relief to the barrenness of our topics, to relate the pleasures that were in store for me, to describe my uncle's seat, with the park and gardens, the charming walks, and beautiful waterfalls; and every one told me how much she envied me, and what satisfacti­on she had once enjoyed in a situation of the same kind.

AS we are all credulous in our own favour, and willing to imagine some latent satisfaction in any thing which we have not experienced, I will confess to you, without restraint, that I had suffered my head to be filled with expectations of some nameless pleasure in a rural life, and that I hoped for the happy hour that should set me free from noise, and flutter, and ceremony, dismiss me to the peaceful shade, and lull me in content and tranquillity. To solace myself under the misery of delay, I sometimes heard a studious lady of my ac­quaintance read pastorals, I was delighted with scarce any talk but of leaving the town, [Page 64] and never went to bed without dreaming of groves, and meadows, and frisking lambs.

AT length I had all my cloaths in a trunk, and saw the coach at the door; I sprung in with ecstacy, quarrelled with my maid for be­ing too long in taking leave of the other ser­vants, and rejoiced as the ground grew less which lay between me and the completion of my wishes. A few days brought me to a large old house, encompassed on three sides with woody hills, and looking from the front on a gentle river, the sight of which renew­ed all my expectations of pleasure, and gave me some regret for having lived so long with­out the enjoyment which these delightful scenes were now to afford me. My aunt came out to receive me, but in a dress so far removed from the present fashion, that I could scarcely look upon her without laughter, which would have been no kind requital for the trouble which she had taken to make her­self fine against my arrival. The night and the next morning were driven along with en­quiries about our family; my aunt then ex­plained our pedigree, and told me stories of my great grandfather's bravery in the civil [Page 65] wars, nor was it less than three days before I could persuade her to leave me to myself.

AT last oeconomy prevailed, she went in the usual manner about her own affairs, and I was at liberty to range in the wilderness, and sit by the cascade. The novelty of the objects about me pleased me for a while, but after a few days they were new no longer, and I soon began to perceive that the country was not my element; that shades, and flowers, and lawns, and waters, had very soon exhaust­ed all their power of pleasing, and that I had not in myself any fund of satisfaction with which I could supply the loss of my customary amusements.

I UNHAPPILY told my aunt, in the first warmth of our embraces, that I had leave to stay with her ten weeks. Six only are yet gone, and how shall I live through the re­maining four? I go out and return; I pluck a flower, and throw it away; I catch an in­sect, and when I have examined its colours, set it at liberty; I fling a pebble into the wa­ter and see one circle spread after another. When it chances to rain, I walk in the great hall, and watch the minute-hand upon the dial [Page 66] or play with a litter of kittens, which the cat happens to have brought in a lucky time.

MY aunt is afraid I shall grow melancholy, and therefore encourages the neighbouring gentry to visit us. They came at first with great eagerness to see the fine lady from Lon­don, but when we meet, we had no common to pick on which we could converse; they had no curiosity after plays, operas, or musick: and I find as little satisfaction from their ac­counts of the quarrels, or alliances of families, whose names, when once I can escape, I shall never hear. The women have now seen me, know how my gown is made, and are satisfi­ed; the men are generally afraid of me, and say little because they think themselves not at liberty to talk rudely.

THUS am I condemned to solitude; the day moves slowly forward, and I see the dawn with uneasiness, because I consider the night is at a great distance. I have tried to sleep by a brook, but find its murmurs ineffectual; so that I am forced to be awake at least twelve hours, without visits, without cards, without laughter, and without flattery. I walk be­cause I am disgusted with sitting still, and sit [Page 67] down because I am weary with walking. I have no motive to action, nor any object of love, or hate, or fear, or inclination. I can­not dress with spirit, for I have neither rival nor admirer. I cannot dance without a part­ner, nor be kind, or cruel, without a lover.

SUCH is the life of Euphelia, and such it is likely to continue for a month to come. I have not yet declared against existence, nor called upon the destinies to cut my thread; but I have sincerely resolved not to condemn myself to such another summer, nor too has­tily to flatter myself with happiness. Yet I have heard, Mr Rambler, of those who never thought themselves so much at ease as in so­litude, and cannot but suspect it to be some way or other my own fault, that, without great pain, either of mind or body, I am thus weary of myself: that the current of youth stagnates, and that I am languishing in a dead calm, for want of some external im­pulse. I shall therefore think you a benefac­tor to our sex, if you will teach me the art of living alone; for I am confident that a thou­sand and a thousand and a thousand ladies, who affect to talk with ecstacies of the pleasures of the country, are in reality, like me, longing [Page 68] for the winter, and wishing to be delivered from themselves by company and diversion.

I am, SIR, Yours, EUPHELIA.

NUMB. 43. TUESDAY, August 14, 1750.

Flumine perpetuo torrens solet acrius ire,
Sed tamen haec brevis est, illa perennis aqua.

IT is observed by those who have written on the constitution of the human body, and the original of those diseases by which it is afflicted, that every man comes into the world morbid, that there is no temperature so exactly regulated but that some humour is fatally pre­dominant, and that we are generally impreg­nated, in our first entrance upon life, with the seeds of that malady, which, in time, shall bring us to the grave.

THIS remark has been extended by others to the intellectual faculties. Some that ima­gine themselves to have looked with more than common penetration into human nature, have [Page 69] endeavoured to persuade us, that each man is born with a mind formed peculiarly for certain purposes, and with desires unalterably deter­mined to particular objects, from which the attention cannot be long diverted, and which alone, as they are well or ill persued, must produce the praise or blame, the happiness or misery, of his future life.

THIS position has not, indeed, been hither­to proved with strength proportionate to the assurance with which it has been advan­ced, and, perhaps, will never gain much prevalence by a close examination.

IF the doctrine of innate ideas be itself dis­putable, there seems to be little hope of esta­blishing an opinion, which supposes that even complications of ideas have been given us at our birth, and that we are made by nature ambitious, or covetous, before we know the meaning of either power or money.

YET as every step in the progression of ex­istence changes our position with respect to the things about us, so as to lay us open to new assaults and particular dangers, and subjects us to inconveniences from which any other situ­ation [Page 70] is exempt; as a publick or a private life, youth and age, wealth and poverty, have all some evil closely adherent, which can­not wholly be escaped but by quitting the state to which it is annexed, and submitting to the incumbrances of some other condition: so it cannot be denied that every difference in the structure of the mind has its advantages and its wants; and that failures and defects being inseparable from humanity, however the pow­ers of understanding be extended or contract­ed, there will on one side or the other always be an avenue to error and miscarriage.

There seem to be some souls suited to great, and others to little employments; some for­med to soar aloft, and take in wide views, and others to grovel on the ground, and con­fine their regard to a narrow sphere. Of these the one is always in danger of becoming use­less by a daring negligence, the other by a scrupulous solicitude; the one collects many ideas, but confused and indistinct; the other is busied in minute accuracy, but without compass and without dignity.

THE general error of those who possess powerful and elevated understandings, is, that [Page 71] they form schemes of too great extent, and flatter themselves too hastily with success; they feel their own force to be great, and, by the complacency with which every man sur­veys himself, imagine it still greater: they therefore look out for undertakings worthy of their abilities, and engage in them with very little precaution, for they imagine that every obstruction will give way, and that, without any premeditated measures, they shall be able to find expedients in all difficulties. They are naturally apt to consider all prudential max­ims as below their regard, to treat with con­tempt those securities and resources which o­thers know themselves obliged to provide, and disdain to accomplish their purposes by esta­blished means, and common gradations.

THIS precipitation, which is incited by the pride of intellectual superiority, is very often fatal to great designs. The strength and reso­lution of the combat are seldom equal to the vehemence of the charge. He that meets with an opposit on which he did not expect, very quickly loses his courage, and too soon con­siders the enterprise as desperate, only because he had before concluded it easy. The vio­lence of his first onset is succeeded by a [Page 72] lasting and unconquerable languor; the mis­carriage seizes his faculties; his conviction of the unreasonable confidence, with which he had flattered his own desires, makes him fear­ful of giving way to new hopes; the contem­plation of an attempt, in which he has so far fallen below the expectations which he had in­dulged, is always painful and vexatious; he therefore naturally turns his attention to more pleasing objects, and habituates his imaginati­on to other entertainments, till, by slow de­grees, he quits his first persuit, and suffers some other project to take possession of his thoughts, in which the same ardour of mind promises him again certain success, and which disappointments of the same kind compel him to abandon.

THUS too much vigour in the beginning of an undertaking, often intercepts and prevents the steadiness and perseverance always necessa­ry in the conduct of any complicated scheme, where many interests are to be connected, ma­ny movements to be adjusted, and the joint effort of distinct and independent powers to be directed to a single point. In all important events which have been suddenly brought to pass, chance has been the agent rather than [Page 73] reason; and, therefore, however those, who seemed to preside in the transaction, may have been celebrated by such as loved or feared them, succeeding times have commonly considered them as fortunate rather than prudent. Every design in which the connexion is regularly traced from the first motion to the last, must be formed and executed by calm intrepidity, and requires not only courage which danger cannot turn aside, but constancy which fa­tigues cannot weary, and contrivance which impediments cannot exhaust.

ALL the performances of human art, at which we look with praise or wonder, are in­stances of the resistless force of perseverance: it is by this that the quarry becomes a pyramid, and that distant countries are united with ca­nals. If a man was to compare the effect of a single stroke of the pick-ax, or of one im­pression of the spade, with the general design and last consequence, he would be overwhelm­ed by the sense of their disproportion; yet those petty operations, incessantly continued, in time surmount the greatest difficulties, and mountains are levelled, and oceans bounded, by the slender force of human beings.

[Page 74] IT is therefore of the utmost importance that those who have any intention of deviating from the beaten roads of life, and acquiring a reputation superior to the common names which are hourly sinking into oblivion, and swept away by time among the refuse of fame, should add to their reason, and their spirit, the power of persisting in their purposes; acquire the art of sapping what they cannot batter, and the habit of vanquishing obstinate resistance by obstinate attacks.

THE student who would build his know­ledge on solid foundations, and proceed by just degrees to the pinacles of truth, is directed by the great philosopher of France to begin by doubting of his own existence. In like manner, whoever would complete any ardu­ous and intricate enterprise should, as soon as his imagination can cool after the first blaze of hope, place before his own eyes every possible embarrasment that may retard or defeat him. He should first question the probability of suc­cess, and then endeavour to remove the ob­jections that he has raised. It is proper, says old Markham, to exercise your horse on the more inconvenient side of the course, that if [Page 75] he should, in the race, be forced upon it, he may not be discouraged; and Horace advises his poetical friend to consider every day as the last which he shall enjoy, because that will al­ways give pleasure which we receive beyond our hopes. If we alarm ourselves beforehand with more difficulties than we really find, we shall be animated by unexpected facility with double spirit; and if we find our cautions and fears justified by the consequence, there will however happen nothing against which provi­sion has not been made, no sudden shock will be received, nor will the main scheme be disconcerted.

THERE is, indeed, some danger lest he that too scrupulously balances probabilities, and too perspicaciously foresees obstacles, should remain always in a state of inaction, without venturing upon attempts on which he will think it not unlikely that he may spend his la­bour without advantage. But previous de­spondence is not the fault of those for whom this essay is designed; they who require to be warned against precipitation, will not suffer more fear to intrude into their contemplations than is necessary to allay the effervescence of an agitated fancy. As Des Cartes has kindly [Page 76] shewn how a manmay prove to himself his own existence, if once he can be prevailed upon to question it, so the ardent and adventurous will not be long without finding some plausible extenuation of the greatest difficulties; and, indeed, such is the uncertainty of all human affairs, that security and despair are equal fol­lies, and as it is presumption and arrogance to anticipate triumphs, it is weakness and cow­ardice to prognosticate miscarriages. The numbers that have been stopped in their ca­reer of happiness are sufficient to shew the uncertainty of human foresight; but there are not wanting contrary instances of such success obtained against all appearances, as may warrant the boldest flights of genius, if they are supported by unshaken perseve­rance.

NUMB. 44. SATURDAY, August 18, 1750.




I Had lately a very remarkable dream, which made so strong an impression on me, that I remember it every word; and if you are not better employed, you may read the relation of it as follows.

METHOUGHT I was in the midst of a very entertaining set of company, and extremely delighted in attending to a lively conversation, when on a sudden I perceived one of the most shocking figures imagination can frame, ad­vancing towards me. She was drest in black, her skin was contracted into a thousand wrin­kles, her eyes deep sunk in her head, and her complexion pale and livid as the countenance of death. Her looks were filled with terror and unrelenting severity, and her hands armed with whips and scorpions. As soon as she came near, with a horrid frown, and a voice that chilled my very blood, she bid me follow [Page 78] her. I obeyed, and she led me through rug­ged paths, beset with briars and thorns, into a deep solitary valley. Wherever she passed the fading verdure withered beneath her steps; her pestilential breath infected the air with malignant vapours, obscured the lustre of the sun, and involved the fair face of heaven in universal gloom. Dismal howlings resounded through the forest, from every baleful tree the night-raven uttered his dreadful note, and the prospect was filled with desolation and horror. In the midst of this tremendous scene my ex­ecrable guide addressed me in the following manner.

"RETIRE with me, O rash unthinking mortal, from the vain allurements of a de­ceitful world, and learn that pleasure was not designed the portion of human life. Man was born to mourn and to be wretch­ed; this is the condition of all below the stars, and whoever endeavours to oppose it acts in contradiction to the will of heaven. Fly then from the fatal enchantments of youth and social delight, and here conse­crate thy solitary hours to lamentation and woe. Misery is the duty of all sublunary beings, and every enjoyment is an offence [Page 79] to the deity, who is to be worshipped only by the mortification of every sense of plea­sure, and the everlasting exercise of sighs and tears."

THIS melancholy picture of life quite sunk my spirits, and seemed to annihilate every principle of joy within me. I threw myself beneath a blasted yeugh, where the winds blew cold and dismal round my head, and dreadful apprehensions chilled my heart. Here I resol­ved to lie till the hand of death, which I im­patiently invoked, should put an end to the miseries of a life so deplorably wretched. In this sad situation I spied on one hand of me a deep muddy river, whose heavy waves rolled on in flow sullen murmurs. Here I determin­ed to plunge, and was just upon the brink, when I found myself suddenly drawn back. I turned about, and was surprised by the sight of the loveliest object I had ever beheld. The most engaging charms of youth and beauty appeared in all her form; effulgent glories sparkled in her eyes, and their awful splen­dours were softened by the gentlest looks of compassion and peace. At her approach, the frightful spectre, who had before tormented me, vanished away, and with her all the hor­rors [Page 80] she had caused. The gloomy clouds brightened into chearful sun-shine, the groves recovered their verdure, and the whole region looked gay and blooming as the garden of Eden. I was quite transported at this unex­pected change, and reviving pleasure began to glad my thoughts, when, with a look of inex­pressible sweetness, my beauteous deliverer thus uttered her divine instructions.

"My name is RELIGION. I am the off­spring of TRUTH and LOVE, and the pa­rent of BENEVOLENCE, HOPE and JOY. That monster from whose power I have freed you is called SUPERSTITION, she is the child of DISCONTENT, and her follow­ers are FEAR and SORROW. Thus different as we are, she has often the insolence to as­sume my name and character, and seduces unhappy mortals to think us the same, till she, at length, drives them to the borders of DESPAIR, that dreadful abyss into which you were just going to sink."

"LOOK round and survey the various beauties of this globe, which heaven has destined for the seat of human race, and consider whether a world thus exquisitely [Page 81] framed could be meant for the abode of misery and pain. For what end has the lavish hand of providence diffused such in­numerable objects of delight, but that all might rejoice in the privilege of existence, and be filled with gratitude to the beneficent author of it? Thus to enjoy the blessings he has sent, is virtue and obedience; and to reject them merely as means of plea­sure, is pitiable ignorance, or absurd per­verseness. Infinite goodness is the source of created existence; the proper tendency of every rational being, from the highest order of raptured seraphs, to the meanest rank of men, is to rise incessantly from lower degrees of happiness to higher. They have each faculties assigned them for vari­ous orders of delights."

"WHAT, cried I, is this the language of RELIGION? Does she lead her votaries through flowery paths, and bid them pass an unlaborious life? Where are the painful toils of virtue, the mortifications of peni­tents, the self-denying exercises of saints and heroes?"

"THE true enjoyments of a reasonable [Page 82] being," answered she mildly, "do not consist in unbounded indulgence, or luxu­rious ease, in the tumult of passions, the languor of indolence, or the flutter of light amusements. Yielding to immoral plea­sure corrupts the mind, living to animal and trifling ones debases it; both in their degree disqualify it for its genuine good, and consign it over to wretchedness. Whoever would be really happy must make the diligent and regular exercise of his su­perior powers his chief attention, adoring the perfections of his maker, expressing good-will to his fellow creatures, cultiva­ting inward rectitude. To his lower fa­culties he must allow such gratifications as will, by refreshing him, invigorate his no­bler persuits. In the regions inhabited by angelic natures, unmingled felicity for e­ver blooms, joy flows there with a perpetu­al and abundant stream, nor needs there any mound to check its course. Beings conscious of a frame of mind originally dis­eased, as all the human race has cause to be, must use the regimen of a stricter self-government. Whoever has been guilty of voluntary excesses must patiently submit both to the painful workings of nature, [Page 83] and needful severities of medicine in order to his cure. Still he is intitled to a mode­rate share of whatever alleviating accom­modations this fair mansion of his merci­ful parent affords, consistent with his reco­very. And in proportion as this recovery advances, the liveliest joy will spring from his secret sense of an amended and improving heart.—So far from the horrors of despair is the condition even of the guilty.—Shudder, poor mortal, at the thought of that gulph in­to which thou wast but now going to plunge."

"WHILE the most faulty have every en­couragement to amend, the more innocent soul will be supported with still sweeter consolations under all its experience of hu­man infirmities; supported by the gladden­ing assurances that every sincere endeavour to out-grow them, shall be assisted, accept­ed and rewarded. To such a one the low­liest self-abasement is but a deep-laid foun­dation for the most elevated hopes; since they who faithfully examine and acknow­ledge what they are, shall be enabled under my conduct to become what they desire. The christian and the heroe are inseparable; and to the aspirings of unassuming trust, [Page 84] and filial confidence, are set no bounds. To him who is animated with a view of obtain­ing approbation from the sovereign of the universe, no difficulty is insurmountable. Secure in this persuit of every needful aid, his conflict with the severest pains and tri­als, is little more than the vigorous exerci­ses of a mind in health. His patient de­pendence on that providence which looks through all eternity, his silent resignation, his ready accommodation of his thoughts and behaviour to its inscrutable ways, is at once the most excellent sort of self-denial, and a source of the most exalted transports. Society is the true sphere of human virtue. In social, active, life, difficulties will per­petually be met with; restraints of many kinds will be necessary; and studying to behave right in respect of these is a discipline of the human heart, useful to others, and improving to itself. Suffering is no duty but where it is necessary to avoid guilt, or to do good; nor pleasure a crime, but where it strengthens the influence of bad inclinati­ons, or lessens the generous activity of vir­tue. The happiness allotted to man in his present state, is indeed faint and low, compared with his immortal prospects, and [Page 85] noble capacities; but yet whatever portion of it the distributing hand of heaven offers to each individual, is a needful support and refreshment for the present moment, so far as it may not hinder the attaining his final destination."

"RETURN then with me from continual misery to moderate enjoyment, and grate­ful alacrity. Return from the contracted views of solitude to the proper duties of a relative and dependent being. Religion is not confined to cells and closets, nor re­strained to sullen retirement. These are the gloomy doctrines of SUPERSTITION, by which she endeavours to break those chains of benevolence and social affection, that link the welfare of every particular with that of the whole. Remember that the greatest honour you can pay to the au­thor of your being is by such a chearful be­haviour, as discovers a mind satisfied with his dispensations."

HERE my preceptress paused, and I was going to express my acknowledgments for her discourse, when a ring of bells from the neighbouring village, and a new-risen sun [Page 86] darting his beams through my windows, a­waked me.

I am, Yours, &c.

NUMB. 45. TUESDAY, August 21, 1750.




THOUGH, in the dissertations which you have given us on marriage, very just cautions are laid down against the com­mon causes of infelicity, and the necessity of having, in that important choice, the first re­gard to virtue is carefully inculcated; yet I cannot think the subject so much exhausted, but that a little reflection would present to the mind many questions in the discussion of which great numbers are interested, and many pre­cepts which deserve to be more particularly and forcibly impressed.

[Page 87] YOU seem, like most of the writers that have gone before you, to have allowed, as an uncon­tested principle, that Marriage is generally un­happy: but I know not whether a man who professes to think for himself, and draws his opinions from his own observations, does not depart from his character when he follows the croud thus implicitly, and receives maxims without recalling them to a new examination, especially when they comprise so wide a cir­cuit of life, and include such variety of cir­cumstances. As I have an equal right with others to give my opinion of the objects about me, and a better title to determine concerning that state which I have tried, than many who talk of it without experience, I am unwilling to be restrained by mere authority from ad­vancing, what, I believe, an accurate view of the world will confirm, that marriage is not commonly unhappy, otherwise than as life is unhappy; and that most of those who complain of connubial miseries, have as much satisfaction as their nature would have admitted, or their conduct procured in any other condition.

IT is, indeed, common to hear both sexes [Page 88] repine at their condition, relate the happiness of their earlier years, blame the folly and rashness of their own choice, and warn those whom they see coming into the world against the same precipitance and infatuation. But it is to be remembred, that the days which they so much wish to call back, are the days not only of celibacy but of youth, the days of novelty and improvement, of ardour and of hope, of health and vigour of body, of gaye­ty and lightness of heart. It is not easy to unite life with any circumstances in which youth will not be delightful; and I am afraid that whe­ther married or unmarried, we shall find the vesture of terrestrial existence more heavy and cumbrous, the longer it is worn.

THAT both censure themselves for the indiscretion of their choice, is not a sufficient proof that they have chosen ill, since we see the same discontent at every other part of life which we cannot change. Converse with almost any man, grown old in a pro­fession, and you will find him regretting that he did not enter into some different course, to which he too late finds his genius better adapted, or in which he discovers that wealth and honour are more easily attained. [Page 89] The merchant, says Horace, envies the soldier, and the soldier recounts the felicity of the merchant; the lawyer when his clients harrass him, calls out for the quiet of the country­man; and the countryman, when business calls him to town, proclaims that there is no happiness but amidst opulence and crouds. Every man recounts the inconveniencies of his own station, and always thinks those of any other less, because he has not felt them. Thus the married praise the ease and freedom of a single state, and the single fly to marriage from the weariness of solitude. From all our observations we may collect with certainty, that misery is the lot of man, but cannot dis­cover in what particular condition it will find most alleviations; or whether all external ap­pendages are not, as we use them well or ill, the causes either of pain or pleasure.

WHOEVER feels great pain naturally hopes for ease from change of posture; he changes it, and finds himself equally tormented: and of the same kind are the expedients by which we endeavour to obviate or elude those unea­sinesses, to which mortality will always be subject. It is not likely that the married state is eminently miserable, since we see such [Page 90] numbers, whom the death of their partners has set free from it, entering it again.

WIVES and husbands are, indeed, inces­santly complaining of each other; and there would be reason for imagining that almost every house was infested with perverseness or oppression beyond human sufferance, did we not know upon how small occasions some minds burst out into lamentations and re­proaches, and how naturally every animal re­venges his pain upon those who happen to be near, without any nice examination of its cause. We are always willing to fancy our­selves within a little of happiness, and when, with repeated efforts, we cannot reach it, persuade ourselves that it is intercepted by an ill-paired mate, since, if we could find any other obstacle, it would be our own fault that it was not removed.

ANATOMISTS have often remarked, that though our diseases are sufficiently numerous and severe, yet when we enquire into the struc­ture of the body, the tenderness of some parts, the minuteness of others, and the im­mense multiplicity of animal functions that must concur to the healthful and vigorous ex­ercise [Page 91] of all our powers, there appears reason to wonder rather that we are preserved so long, than that we perish so soon, and that our frame subsists for a single day, or hour, without dis­order, rather than that it should be broken or obstructed by violence of accidents, or length of time.

THE same reflection arises in my mind, upon observation of the manner in which marriage is frequently contracted. When I see the avaricious and crafty taking compani­ons to their tables, and their beds, without any enquiry, but after farms and money; or the giddy and thoughtless uniting themselves for life to those whom they have only seen by the light of tapers at a ball; when parents make articles for their children, without en­quiring after their consent; when some mar­ry for heirs to disappoint their brothers, and others throw themselves into the arms of those whom they do not love, because they have found themselves rejected where they were more solicitous to please; when some marry because their servants cheat them, some be­cause they squander their own money, some because their houses are pestered with compa­ny, some because they will live like other peo­ple, [Page 92] and some only because they are sick of them­selves, I am not so much inclined to wonder that marriage is sometimes unhappy, as that it appears generally so little loaded with cala­mity; and cannot but conclude that society has something in itself eminently agreable to human nature, when I find its pleasures so great that even the ill choice of a companion can hardly over-balance them.

BY the antient custom of the Muscovites the men and women never saw each other till they were joined beyond the power of parting. It may be suspected that by this method many unsuitable matches were produced, and many tempers associated that were very little qualifi­ed to give pleasure to each other. Yet, per­haps, among a people so little delicate, where the paucity of gratifications, and the unifor­mity of life gave no opportunity for imagina­tion to interpose its objections, there was not much danger of capricious dislike, and while they felt neither cold nor hunger they might live quietly together, without any thought of the defects of one another.

AMONGST us, whom knowledge has made Mice, and affluence wanton, there are, indeed, [Page 93] more cautions requisite to secure tranquillity; and yet if we observe the manner in which those converse, who have singled out each o­ther for marriage, we shall, perhaps, not think that the Russians lost much by their restraint. For the whole endeavour of both parties, dur­ing the time of courtship, is to hinder them­selves from being known, and to disguise their natural temper, and real desires, in hypo­critical imitation, studied compliance, and continued affection. From the time that their love is avowed, neither sees the other but in a mask, and the cheat is managed often on both sides with so much art, and disco­vered afterwards with so much abruptness, that each has reason to suspect that some trans­formation has happened on the wedding-night, and that by a strange imposture one has been courted, and another married.

I DESIRE you, therefore, Mr RAMBLER, to question all who shall hereafter come to you with matrimonial complaints, concerning their behaviour in the time of courtship, and inform them that they are neither to wonder nor repine, when a contract begun with fraud has ended in disappointment.

I am, &c.

NUMB. 46. SATURDAY, August 25, 1750.

—Genus, et proavos, et quae non fecimus ipsi,
Vix ea nostra voco.



SINCE I find that you have paid so much regard to my complaints, as to publish them, I am inclined by vanity, or gratitude, to continue our correspondence; and, indeed, without either of these motives, I am, at pre­sent, glad of an opportunity to write, for I am not much accustomed to keep in any thing that swells my heart, and have here none with whom I can very freely converse; and while I am thus employed, some of those tedious hours, which I have condemned my­self to pass in this place, will slip away. When I return to my usual amusement of watching the clock, I shall find that I have disburdened myself of part of the day, and that the time of my return from exile is less remote.

[Page 95] YOU perceive that I do not pretend to claim any great merit from my regard to your performances, or to write with much consi­deration of any thing but my own conveni­ence; and, not to conceal from you my real sentiments, the little time which I have here spent, against my will, in solitary meditation, has not much contributed to my veneration for authors. I have now sufficient reason to suspect that, with all your splendid professions of wisdom, and seeming regard for truth and virtue, you have very little sincerity; that you either write what you do not think, and willingly impose upon mankind, or that you take no care to think right, but while you set up yourself as a guide in the labyrinth of life, mislead your followers by credulity, or neg­ligence; that you take the liberty of produ­cing to the publick whatever notions you can speciously maintain, or elegantly express, without enquiring whether they are just; and that you are apt to think yourself qualified by books to treat on subjects which are on­ly to be understood by observation and expe­rience, and transcribe hereditary falshoods from old authors, perhaps as ignorant and careless as yourself.

[Page 96] YOU may, perhaps, wonder that I express myself with so much acrimony on a question in which women are supposed to have very lit­tle interest; and you are likely enough, for I have seen many instances of the sauciness of scholars, to tell me that I am more properly employed in playing with my kittens, than in giving myself airs of criticism, and censur­ing the learned. But you are mistaken if you imagine that I am to be intimidated by your contempt, or silenced by your reproofs. As I read, I have a right to judge, as I am injured, I have a right to complain; and these privile­ges, which I have purchased at so dear a rate. I shall not easily be persuaded to resign.

TO read has, indeed, never been my bu­siness; but as there are hours of leisure in the most active life, I have passed the superfluities of time, which the diversions of the town left upon my hands, in turning over a large collection of tragedies and romances, which chance threw early in my way, where, a­mongst other sentiments, common to all au­thors of this class, I have found almost every page filled with the charms and happiness of a country life; that life to which every statesman [Page 97] in the highestelevation of his prosperity is con­triving to retire; that life to which every tragick heroine in some scene or other wishes to have been born, and which is always re­presented as a certain refuge from folly and anxiety, from passion, and from guilt.

IT was impossible to read so many passionate exclamations, and soothing descriptions, without feeling some desire to enjoy the state in which all this felicity was to be enjoyed; and there­fore I received with raptures the invitation of my good aunt, and expected that by some unknown influence I should find all hopes and fears, all jealousies and competitions va­nish from my heart upon my first arrival at the seats of innocence and tranquillity; that I should sleep in halcyon bowers, and wander in elysian gardens, where I should meet with nothing but the softness of benevolence, the candour of simplicity, and the chearfulness of content; where I should see reason exerting her sovereignty over life, without any inter­ruption from envy, avarice, or ambition, and every day passing in such a manner as the se­verest wisdom should approve.

THIS, Mr RAMBLER, I tell you I expect­ed, [Page 98] and this I had by an hundred authors been taught to expect. By this expectation I was led hither, and here I live in a state of perpetual uneasiness, without any other com­fort than that of hoping to return to London. Having, since I wrote my former letter, been driven, by the mere necessity of escaping from absolute inactivity, to make myself more ac­quainted with the affairs and inhabitants of this place, I am now no longer an absolute stranger to rural conversation and employ­ments, but am very far from discovering in them more innocence or wisdom, than in the sentiments or conduct of those with whom I have passed more chearful and more fashiona­ble hours.

IT is common to reproach the tea-table, and the park, with giving opportunities and en­couragement to scandal. I cannot, indeed, wholly clear them from the charge; but must, however, observe in favour of the modish prattlers, that, if not by principle, we are at least by accident less guilty of defamation than the country ladies. For having greater num­bers to observe and censure, we are common­ly content to charge them only with their own faults or follies, and seldom give way to ma­levolence, [Page 99] but such as arises from some injury or affront, real or imaginary, offered to our­selves. But in these distant provinces, where the same families inhabit the same houses from age to age, they transmit and recount the faults of a whole succession. I have been in­formed how every estate in the neighbourhood was originally got, and find, if I may credit the accounts given me, that there is not a sin­gle acre in the hands of the right owner. I have been told of intrigues between beaus and toasts that have been now three centuries in their quiet graves, and am often entertained with traditionary scandal on persons of whose names there would have been no remem­brance, had they not committed somewhat that might disgrace their descendents.

IN one of my visits I happened to commend the air and dignity of a young lady, who had just left the company; upon which two grave matrons looked with great sliness at each other, and then the older of them asked whether I had ever seen the picture of Henry the eighth. You may imagine that I did not immediately perceive the propriety of the question, but af­ter having waited a while for information, I was told that the lady's grandmother had a [Page 100] great great grandmother that was maid of ho­nour to Anna Bullen, and supposed to have been too great a favourite of the king.

IF once there happens a quarrel between the principal persons of two families, the ma­lignity is continued without end, and it is common for two old maids to fall out about some election, in which their grandfathers were competitors; the heart-burnings of the civil war are not yet extinguished; there are two families in the neighbourhood who have destroyed each others game from the time of Philip and Mary; and when an account came of an inundation, which had injured the plan­tations of a worthy gentleman, one of the hearers remarked, with exultation, that he might now have some notion of the ravages committed by his ancestors in their retreat from Bosworth.

THUS malice and hatred descend here with an inheritance, and it is necessary to be well versed in history, that the various factions of this county may be understood. You cannot expect to be on good terms with two families, who are resolved to love nothing in common; and, in selecting your intimates, you are perhaps [Page 101] to consider which party you most favour in the barons wars. I have often lost the good opinion of my aunt's visitants by confounding the interests of York and Lancaster, and was once censured for sitting silent when William Rufus was called a tyrant. I have, however, now thrown aside all pretences to circumspec­tion, for I find it impossible in less than seven years to learn all the requisite cautions. At London, if you know your company, and their parents, you are safe; but you are here suspected of alluding to the slips of great grand­mothers, and of reviving contests which were decided in armour by the redoubted knights of ancient times. I hope therefore that you will not condemn my impatience, if I am weary of attending where nothing can be learned, and of quarrelling where there is no­thing to contest, and that you will contribute to divert me while I stay here by some faceti­ous performance.


NUMB. 47. TUESDAY, August 28, 1750.

‘Quanquam his solatiis acquiescam, debilitor & frangor eadem illa humanitate quae me, ut hoc ipsum permitterem, induxit, non ideo tamen velim durior fieri: nec ignoro alios hujusmodi casus nihil amplius vocare quam damnum; eo­que sibi magnos homines & sapientes videri. Qui an magni sapientesque sint, nescio: homi­nes non sunt. Hominis est enim affici dolore, sentire: resistere tamen, & solatia admittere, non solatiis non egere.’PLIN.

OF the passions with which the mind of man is agitated, it may be observed, that they naturally hasten towards their own extinction by inciting and quickening the at­tainment of their objects. Thus fear urges our flight, and desire animates our progress; and if there are some which perhaps may be indulged till they out-grow the good appro­priated to their satisfaction, as is frequently observed of avarice and ambition, yet their immediate tendency is to some means of hap­piness really existing, and generally within the prospect. The miser always imagines that [Page 103] there is a cer ain sum that will fill his heart to the brim; and the ambitious man, like king Pyrrhus, has an acquisition in his thoughts that is to terminate his labours, after which he shall pass the rest of his life in ease or gay­ety, in repose or devotion.

SORROW is perhaps the only affection of the breast that can be excepted from this gene­ral remark, and it therefore deserves the parti­cular attention of those who have assumed the arduous province of preserving the balance of our mental constitution, and of administering physick to the soul. The other passions are diseases indeed, but they necessarily direct us to their proper cure. A man at once feels the pain, and knows the medicine, to which he is carried with greater haste, as the evil which requires it is more excruciating, and cures himself by unerring instinct, as the wounded stags of Crete are related by Aelian to have re­course to vulnerary herbs. But for sorrow there is no remedy provided by nature, it is often occasioned by accidents irreparable, and dwells upon objects that have lost or changed their existence; it requires what it cannot hope, that the laws of nature should be re­pealed, [Page 104] that the dead should return, or the past should be recalled.

SORROW is not that regret for negligence or error which may animate us to future care or activity, or that repentance of crimes for which, however irrevocable, our creator has promised to accept it as an attonement; the pain which arises from these causes has very salutary effects, and is every hour extenuating itself by the reparation of those miscarriages that produce it. Sorrow is properly that state of the mind in which our desires are fixed upon the past, without looking forward to the fu­ture, an incessant wish that something were otherwise than it has been, a tormenting and harassing want of some enjoyment or possessi­on which we have lost, and which no endea­vours can possibly regain. Into such anguish many have sunk upon some sudden diminuti­on of their fortune, an unexpected blast of their reputation, or the loss of children or friends. They have suffered all sensibility of pleasure to be destroyed by a single blow, have given up for ever the hopes of substituting any other object in the room of that which they lament, have resigned the remaining part of their lives to gloom and solitude, com­plaints [Page 105] and despondency, worn themselves out in unavailing misery, and sunk down at last under their burthen.

YET so much is this passion the natural consequence of tenderness and endearment, that, however painful and however useless, it is justly reproachful not to feel it on some oc­casions; and so widely and constantly has it always prevailed, that the laws of some na­tions, and the customs of others, have limited a time for the external appearances of grief caused by the dissolution of close alliances, and the breach of domestic union.

IT seems determined, by the general suffrage of mankind, that sorrow is to a certain point laudable, as the offspring of love, or at least pardonable as the effect of weakness; but that it ought not to be suffered to increase by in­dulgence, but must give way, after a stated time, to social duties, and the common avo­cations of life. It is at first unavoidable, and therefore must be allowed, whether with or without our choice; it may afterwards be ad­mitted as a decent and affectionate testimony of kindness and esteem; something will be extorted by nature, and something may be giv­en [Page 106] to the world. But all beyond the bursts of passion, or the forms of solemnity, is not only useless, but culpable; for we have no righ to sacrifice, to the vain longings of affection, that time which providence allows us for the task of our station.

YET it too often happens that sorrow, thus lawfully entering, gains such a firm possession of the mind, that it is not afterwards to be ejected; the mournful ideas, first violently im­pressed, and afterwards willingly received, so much engross the attention, as to predominate in every meditation, to intrude uncalled, to darken gayety, and perplex ratiocination. An habitual sadness then seizes upon the soul, and the faculties are chained to a single object, which can never be contemplated but with hopeless uneasiness.

This is a state of dejection from which it is often very difficult to rise to chearfulness and alacrity, and therefore many who have laid down speculative rules of mental health, think preservatives easier than remedies, and teach us not to trust ourselves with favourite enjoyments, not to indulge the luxury of fond­ness, [Page 107] but to keep our minds always suspended in such a state of indifference, that we may change any of the objects about us without in­convenience or emotion.

AN exact compliance with this rule might, perhaps, contribute to tranquillity, but surely it would never produce happiness. He that regards none so much as to be afraid of losing them, must live for ever without the gentle pleasures of sympathy and confidence; he must feel no melting fondness, no warmth of benevolence, nor any of those honest joys which nature annexes to the power of plea­sing. And as no man can justly claim more tenderness than he pays, he must forfeit his share in all that officious and watchful kindness which love only can dictate, and all those le­nient endearments by which love only can soft­en life. He may justly be overlooked and ne­glected by such as have more warmth in their heart; for who would be the friend of him, whom, with whatever assiduity he may be courted, and with whatever services obliged, his principles will not suffer to make equal re­turns, and who, when you have exhausted all the instances of good will, can only be prevail­ed on not to be an enemy?

[Page 108] AN attempt to preserve life in a state of neutrality and indifference, is unreasonable and vain. If by excluding joy we could shut out grief, the scheme would deserve very se­rious attention; but since, however we may debar ourselves from happiness, misery will find its way at many inlets, and the assaults of pain will force our regards, though we may withhold it from the invitations of plea­sure, we may surely endeavour to raise life a­bove the middle point of apathy at one time, since it will necessarily sink below it at another.

BUT though it cannot be reasonable not to gain happiness for fear of losing it, yet it must be confessed, that in proportion to the pleasure of possession, will be for some time our sorrow for the loss; but it is the province of the moralist to enquire whether such pains may not quickly give way to mitigation. Some have thought, that the most certain way to clear the heart from its embarrassment is to drag it by force into scenes of merriment. Others imagine, that such a transition is too violent, and recommend rather to sooth it in­to tranquillity, by making it acquainted with miseries more dreadful and afflictive, and di­verting to the calamities of others the regard [Page 109] which we are inclined to fix too closely upon our own misfortunes.

IT may be doubted whether either of those remedies will be sufficiently powerful. The efficacy of mirth it is not always easy to try, and the indulgence of melancholy may be suspected to be one of those medicines, which will destroy, if it happens not to cure.

THE safe and general antidote against sor­row, is employment. It is commonly obser­ved, that among soldiers and seamen, though there is much kindness, there is little grief; they see their friend fall without any of that lamentation which is indulged in security and idleness, because they have no leisure to spare from the care of themselves; and whoever shall keep his thoughts equally busy, will find him­self equally unaffected with irretrievable losses.

TIME is observed generally to wear out sor­row, and its effects might doubtless be accele­rated by quickening the succession and enlarg­ing the variety of objects.

Si tempore longo
Leniri poterit luctus, tu sperne morari,
Qui sapiet sibi tempus erit.—

[Page 110] SORROW is a kind of rust of the soul, which every new idea contributes in its passage to scour away. It is the putrefaction of stagnant life, and is remedied by exercise and motion.

NUMB. 48. SATURDAY, Sept. 1, 1750.

‘Non est vivere, sed valere, vita. ’MART.

AMONG the innumerable follies, by which we lay up in our youth repen­tance and remorse for the succeeding part of our lives, there is scarce any thing against which warnings are of less efficacy, than the neglect of health. When the springs of mo­tion are in their full strength, when the heart bounds with vigour, and the eye sparkles with spirit, it is with difficulty, that we are taught to conceive the imbecillity and tenderness that every hour is bringing upon us, or to ima­gine, that the nerves which are now braced with so much strength, and the limbs which play with so much activity, will lose all their power under the gripe of time, relax with numbness, and totter with debility.

[Page 111] AMONG the arguments which have been used against complaints under the miseries of life, the philosophers have, I think, forgot to mention the incredulity of those to whom we tell our sufferings. But if the purpose of lamentation be to excite pity, and if pity must presuppose sympathy, it is surely superflu­ous for age and weakness to tell their plaintive stories; for a little attention will shew them, that those who do not feel pain, seldom think that it is felt; and a short recollection will in­form almost every man, that he is only repaid the insult which he has given, since he may remember how often he has treated infirmity with contempt, mocked its cautions, and censured its impatience.

THE valetudinarian race have made the care of health ridiculous by suffering it to pre­vail over all other considerations, as the miser has brought frugality into contempt, by per­mitting the love of money not to share but to engross his mind: they both err alike, by confounding the means with the end; they grasp at health only to be well, as at money only to be rich; and forget that every ter­restrial advantage is chiefly valuable, as it fur­nishes abilities for the exercise of virtue.

[Page 112] HEALTH is, indeed, so necessary to all the duties, as well as pleasures of life, that the crime of squandering it is equal to the folly; and he that for the sake of a few short gratifi­cations brings weakness and diseases upon himself, and for the pleasure of a few years passed in riot and noise, in the tumults of di­version, and clamours of merriment, con­demns the maturer and more experienced part of his life to the chamber and the couch, may be justly reproached, not only as a spendthrift of his own happiness, but as a robber of the publick; as a wretch that has voluntarily dis­qualified himself for the business of his station, and refused that part which providence assigns him in the general task of human nature.

THERE are perhaps very few conditions more to be pitied than that of an active and elevated mind, labouring under the weight of a distempered body; the time of such a man is always spent in forming schemes, which a change of wind hinders him from executing, his powers fume away in projects and in hope, and the day of action never arrives. He lies down delighted with the thoughts of [Page 113] to-morrow, pleases his ambition with the same he shall acquire, or his benevolence with the good he shall confer. But in the night the skies are overcast, the temper of the air is changed, he wakes in languor, impatience, and distraction, and has no longer any wish but for ease, nor any attention but to misery. It may be said that disease generally begins that equality which death completes; the distincti­ons which set one man so much above another are very little perceived in the gloom of a sick chamber, where it will be in vain to expect entertainment from the gay, or instruction from the wise, where all human glory is obli­terated, where the wit is clouded, the reason­ner embarrassed, and the hero subdued; where the highest and brightest of mortal beings finds nothing left him but the consciousness of in­nocence.

THERE is among the fragments of the Greek poets a short hymn to Health, in which her power of exalting the happiness of life, of heightening the gifts of fortune, and ad­ding enjoyment to possession, is inculcated with so much force and beauty, that no one, at least no one who has ever languished under the discomforts and infirmities of a lingering [Page 114] disease, can read it without feeling the images dance in his heart, and adding from his own experience new vigour to the wish, and from his own imagination new colours to the pic­ure. The particular occasion of this little com­position is not known, but it is probable that the author had been sick, and in the first rap­tures of returning vigour addressed Health in the following manner: [...] ‘HEALTH, most venerable of the powers of heaven! with thee may the remaining part of my life be passed, nor do thou refuse to bless me with thy residence. For whatever there is of beauty or of pleasure in wealth, in descendants, or in sovereign command the highest summit of hu­man enjoyment, or in those objects of desire which [Page 115] we endeavour to chase into the toils of love; whatever delight, or whatever solace is granted by the celestials to soften our fatigues, in thy pre­sence, thou parent of happiness, all those joys spread out and flourish; in thy presence blooms the spring of pleasure, and without thee there is no gladness.’

SUCH is the power of health, that with­out its cooperation every other comfort is tor­pid and lifeless, as the powers of vegetation without the sun. And yet this bliss is com­monly thrown away in thoughtless negligence, or in foolish experiments on our own strength; we let it perish without remembring its value, or waste it to shew how much we have to spare; it is sometimes given up to the ma­nagement of levity and chance, and some­times sold for the applause of jollity and de­bauchery.

HEALTH is equally neglected, and with equal impropriety, by the votaries of business and the followers of pleasure. Some men ru­in the fabrick of their bodies by incessant re­vels, and others by intemperate studies; some batter it by excess, and others sap it by inacti­vity. To the noisy rout of bacch analian rio­ters it will be to little purpose that advice is [Page 116] offered, though it requires no great abilities to prove, that he loses pleasure who loses health; their clamours are too loud for the whispers of caution, and they run the course of life with too much precipitance to stop at the call of wisdom. Nor perhaps will they that are busied in adding thousands to thousands, pay much regard to him that shall direct them to hasten more slowly to their wishes. Yet since lovers of money are generally cool, deliberate and thoughtful, they might surely consider, that the greater good ought not to be sacrifi­ced to the less. Health is certainly more va­luable than money, because it is by health that money is procured; but thousands and mil­lions are of small avail to alleviate the pro­tracted tortures of the gout, to repair the bro­ken organs of sense, or resuscitate the powers of digestion. Poverty is, indeed, an evil from which we naturally fly; but let us not run from one enemy to another, nor take shelter in the arms of sickness.

—Projecere animam! quàm vellent aethere in alto
Nunc & pauperiem, & duros tolerare labores!

THOSE who lose their health in an irregu­lar and impetuous persuit of literary accom­plishments are yet less to be excused; for as [Page 117] they profess argument and reflection, they ought to know that the body is not forced be­yond its strength, but with the loss of more vigour than is proportionate to the effect pro­duced; and that whoever takes up life before­hand, by depriving himself of rest and refresh­ment, must not only pay back the hours, but pay them back with usury; and for the gain of a few months but half enjoyed, must give up years to the listlesness of languor, and the implacability of pain; they whose endeavour is mental excellence, will learn at last, perhaps too late, how much it is endangered by dis­eases of the body, and find that knowledge may easily be lost in the starts of melancholy, the flights of impatience, and the peevishness of decrepitude.

NUMB. 49. TUESDAY, September 4, 1750.

Non omnis moriar, multaque pars mei
Vitabit Libitinam, usque ego posterâ
Crescam laude recens.

THE first motives of human actions are those appetites which providence has giv­en to most, in common with the rest of the in­habitants [Page 118] of the earth. Immediately after our birth, thirst and hunger incline us to the breast, whch we draw by instinct, like other young creatures, and, when we are satisfied, we express our uneasiness by importunate and incessant cries, till we have obtained a place or posture proper for repose.

THE next call that rouses us from a state of inactivity, is that of our passions; we quick­ly begin to be sensible of hope and fear, love and hatred, desire and aversion; these arising from the power of comparison and reflection extend their range wider, as our reason strengthens, and our knowledge enlarges. At first we have no thought of pain, but when we actually feel it; we afterwards begin to fear it, yet not before it approaches us very near­ly; but by degrees we discover it at a greater distance, and find it lurking in remote conse­quences. Our terror in time improves into caution, and we learn to look round with vi­gilance and solicitude, to stop all the avenues at which misery can enter, and to perform or endure many things in themselves toilsome and unpleasing, because we know by reason, or by experience, that our labour will be over-balanced by the reward, that it will either [Page 119] procure some positive good, or avert some evil greater than itself.

BUT as the soul advances to a fuller exer­cise of its powers, the animal appetites, and the passions immediately arising from them, are not sufficient to find it employment; the wants of nature are soon supplied, the fear of their return is easily precluded, and some­thing more is necessary to relieve the long in­tervals of inactivity, and to give those facul­ties, which cannot lie wholly quiescent, some particular direction. For this reason now de­sires and artificial passions are by degrees pro­duced; and, from having wishes only in con­sequence of our wants, we begin to feel wants in consequence of our wishes; we persuade ourselves to set a value upon things which are of no use, but because we have agreed to va­lue them; things which can neither satisfy hunger, nor mitigate pain, nor secure us from any real calamity, and which, therefore, we find of no esteem among those nations whose artless and barbarous manners keep them al­ways anxious for the necessaries of life.

THIS is the original of avarice, vanity, ambition, and generally of all those desires [Page 120] which arise from the comparison of our con­dition with that of others. He that thinks himself poor, because his neighbour is richer; he that like Caesar would rather be the first man of a village than the second in the capital of the world, has apparently kindled in him­self desires which he never received from na­ture, and acts upon principles established only by the authority of custom.

OF those adscititious passions, some, as a­varice and envy, are universally condemned; some, as friendship and curiosity, generally praised; but there are others about which the suffrages of the wise are divided, and of which it is doubted, whether they tend most to pro­mote the happiness, or increase the miseries of mankind.

OF this ambiguous and disputable kind is the love of fame, a desire of filling the minds of others with admiration, and of being cele­brated by generations to come with praises which we shall not hear. This ardour has been considered by some, as nothing better than splendid madness, as a flame kindled by pride, and fanned by folly; for what, say they, can be more remote from wisdom, than to di­rect [Page 121] all our actions by the hope of that which is not to exist till we ourselves are in the grave? To pant after that which can never be possessed, and of which the value thus wild­ly put upon it, arises from this particular con­dition, that, during life, it is not to be obtain­ed? To gain the favour, and hear the applauses of our contemporaries, is indeed equally desir­able with any other prerogative of superiori­ty, because fame may be of use to smooth the paths of life, to terrify opposition, and fortify tranquillity; but to what end shall we be the darlings of mankind, when we can no longer receive any benefits from their favour? It is more reasonable to wish for reputation while it may be yet enjoyed, as Anacreon calls upon his companions to give him for present use the wine and garlands which they purpose to be­stow upon his tomb.

THE advocates for the love of fame allege in its vindication, that it is a passion natural and universal; a flame lighted by heaven, and always burning with greatest vigour in the most enlarged and elevated minds. That the desire of being praised by posterity implies a resolution to deserve their praises, and that the folly charged upon it, is only a noble and [Page 122] disinterested generosity, which is not felt, and therefore not understood by those who have been always accustomed to refer every thing to themselves, and whose selfishness has con­tracted their understandings. That the soul of man, formed for eternal life, naturally springs forward beyond the limits of corporeal existence, and rejoices to consider herself as cooperating with future ages, and as coex­tended with endless duration. That the cen­sure urged with so much petulance, the re­proach of labouring for what cannot be en­joyed, is founded on an opinion which may with great probability be questioned; for since we suppose the powers of the soul to be en­larged by its separation, why should we con­clude that its knowledge of sublunary transac­tions is contracted or extinguished?

UPON an attentive and impartial review of the argument, it will appear that the love of fame is to be regulated, rather than extinguish­ed; and that men should be taught not to be wholly careless about their memory, but to endeavour that they may be remembered chiefly for their virtues, since no other repu­tation will be able to transmit any pleasure be­yond the grave.

[Page 123] IT is evident that fame, considered [...] as the immortality of a name, is not less like­ly to be the reward of bad actions than of good; and that therefore he has no certain principle for the regulation of his conduct, whose single aim is not to be forgotten; and his­tory will inform us, that this blind and undis­tinguishing appetite of renown has always been uncertain in its effects, and directed by acci­dent or opportunity, indifferently to the be­nefit or devastation of the world. When The­mistocles complained that the trophies of Mil­tiades hindered him from sleep, he was ani­mated by them to perform the same services in the same cause. But Caesar, when he wept at the sight of Alexander's picture, having no honest opportunities of action, let his ambiti­on break out to the ruin of his country.

IF, therefore, the love of same is so far in­dulged by the mind as to become independent and predominant, it is dangerous and irregular; but it may be usefully employed as an inferior and secondary motive, and will serve some­times to revive our activity when we begin to languish and lose sight of that more certain, more valuable, and more durable reward, which ought always to be our first hope and [Page 124] our last. But it must be strongly impressed upon our minds, that virtue is not to be per­sued as one of the means to fame, but fame to be accepted as the only recompence which mortals can bestow on virtue; to be accepted with complacence, but not sought with eager­ness. Simply to be remembered is no advan­tage; it is a privilege which satire as well as panegyric can confer, and is not more enjoy­ed by Titus or Constantine, than by Timocre­on of Rhodes, of whom we only know from his epitaph, that he had eaten many a meal, drank many a flaggon, and uttered many a re­proach. [...]

THE true satisfaction which is to be drawn from the consciousness that we shall share the attention of future times, must arise from the hope, that, with our name, our virtues will be propagated; and that those whom we can­not benefit in our lives, may receive instructi­on from our examples, and incitement from our renown.

NUMB. 50. SATURDAY, Sept, 8, 1750.

Credebant hoc grande nefas, et morte piandum,
Si juvenis vetulo non assurrexerat, atque
Barbato cuicunque puer, licet ipse videret
Plura demi fraga, et majores glandis acervos.

I HAVE always thought it the business of those who turn their speculations upon the living world, to admire and commend the virtues, as well as to expose and censure the faults of their contemporaries, and to confute a false as well as to support a just accusation; not only because it is peculiarly the business of a monitor to keep his own reputation with­out taint, lest those who can once charge him with partiality, should indulge themselves afterwards in disbelieving him at pleasure; but because he may find real crimes sufficient to give full employment to caution or repen­tance, without distracting the mind by need­less scruples and vain solicitudes.

THERE are certain fixed and stated reproach­es that one part of mankind has in all ages [Page 126] thrown upon another, which are regularly transmitted through continued successions, and which he that has once suffered them is cer­tain to use with the same undistinguishing ve­hemence, when he has changed his station, and gained the prescriptive right of imposing on others, what he had formerly endured himself.

TO these hereditary imputations, of which no man sees the justice, till it becomes his in­terest to see it, very little regard is to be shewn; since it does not appear that they are produced by ratiocination or enquiry, but re­ceived implicitly, or caught by a kind of in­stantaneous contagion, and supported rather by willingness to credit, than ability to prove them.

IT has been, in all ages of the world, the practice of those who are desirous to believe themselves made venerable by length of time, to censure the new comers into life, for want of respect to grey hairs and sage experience, for heady considence in their own understand­ings, for hasty conclusions upon partial views, for a contemptuous disregard of those salutary counsels, which their fathers and grandsires [Page 127] are always ready to afford them, and a rebelli­ous impatience of that subordination to which youth is condemned by nature, as necessary to its security from those evils into which it would be otherwise inevitably precipitated, by the rashness of passion, and the blindness of ignorance.

EVERY old man complains of the growing depravity of the world, of the petulance and insolence of the rising generation. He re­counts the decency and regularity of former times, and celebrates the discipline and sobriety of the age in which his youth was passed; a happy age which is now no more to be ex­pected, since confusion has broke in upon the world, and thrown down all the boundaries of civility, reverence, and obedience.

IT is not always sufficiently considered how much he assumes, who dares to claim the pri­vilege of complaining: for as every man has in his own opinion a full share of the mise­ries of life, he is inclined to consider all cla­morous uneasiness, as a proof of impatience rather than of affliction, and to ask, What me­rit has this man to show, by which he has ac­quired a right to repine at the distributions of [Page 128] nature? Or why does he imagine that exemp­tions should be granted him from the general condition of man? We find ourselves excited rather to captiousness than pity, and instead of being in haste to sooth his complaints by sym­pathy and tenderness, we enquire, whether the pain be proportionate to the lamentation, and whether, supposing his afflictions real, they are not the effect of vice and folly, rather than of calamity.

THE querulousness and indignation which is observed so often to disfigure the last scene of life, naturally leads us to enquiries like these. For surely it will be thought at the first view of things, that if age be thus con­temned and ridiculed, insulted and neglected, the crime must at least be equal on either part; since they who have had so many opportuni­ties of establishing their authority over minds ductile and unresisting, they who have been the protectors of helplessness, and the instruct­ors of ignorance, and who yet retain in their own hands the power of wealth, and the dig­nity of command, must defeat their influence by their own misconduct, and make use of all these advantages with very little skill, if they can­not secure to themselves an appearance of re­spect, [Page 129] and ward off open mockery, and declar­ed contempt.

THE general story of mankind will evince, that lawful and settled authority is very seldom resisted when it is well employed, and that gross corruption, or evident imbecillity is ne­cessary to the conquest of that prepossession with which the majority of mankind look upon their governors, on those whom they see sur­rounded by splendor, and fortified by power: for tho' men are drawn by their passions into forgetfulness of invisible rewards and punish­ments, yet they are easily kept obedient to those who have temporal dominion in their hands, till their veneration is dissipated by such wickedness and folly as can neither be de­fended, palliated nor concealed.

IT may, therefore, very reasonably be sus­pected that the old draw upon themselves the greatest part of those insults, which they so much lament, and that age is rarely despised but when it is contemptible. If men imagine that excess or debauchery can be made reve­rend by time, that knowledge is the conse­quence of long life however idly and thought­lesly employed, that priority of birth will sup­ply [Page 130] the want of steadiness or honesty, and that the regard will be paid to wrinkles, which is due only to wisdom, can it raise much won­der that their hopes are disappointed, and that they see their posterity rather willing to trust their own eyes in their progress into life, than enlist themselves under guides who have lost their way?

THERE are, indeed, many truths which time necessarily and certainly teaches, and which might, by those who have learned them from experience, be communicated to their successors at a cheaper rate: but dictates, though liberally enough bestowed, are gene­rally without effect, because they are seldom re­commended by sufficient authority; the teach­er gains few proselytes by instruction which his own behaviour contradicts; young men miss the benefit of counsel, because they want the more powerful attraction of exam­ple, and are not very ready to believe that those who fall below them in practice, can much excel them in theory. Thus the pro­gress of mankind in knowledge is retarded, the world is kept long in the same state, and every new race is to gain the prudence of their [Page 131] predecessors by commiting and redressing the same miscarriages.

TO secure to the old that influence which they are willing to claim, and which might so much contribute to the improvement of the arts of life, it is absolutely necessary that they give themselves up to the duties of declining years; and contentedly resign to youth its le­vity, its pleasures, its frolicks, and its soppe­ries. It is a lifeless endeavour to unite the con­trarieties of spring and winter, and unjust to claim the privileges of age, and retain the play-things of childhood. Young men al­ways form magnificent ideas of the wisdom and gravity of those, whom they consider as pla­ed at a distance from them in the ranks of ex­istence, and naturally look on those whom they find trissing with long beards, and luxurious and vain on the brink of the grave, with contempt and indignation, like that which women feel at the effeminacy of men. If dotards will contend with boys in those performances in which boys must always excel them; if they will dress crippled limbs in embroidery, and endeavour at gayety with faltering voices; if they will drag infirmity to the ball, and darken assemblies of pleasure with the ghastli­ness [Page 132] of disease, they may well expect that those who find their diversions obstructed will hoot them away; and that if they descend to competition with youth, they must bear the insolence of successful rivals.

Lusisti satis, edisti satis atque bibisti:
Tempus abire tibi est.

ANOTHER vice of age, by which the rising generation may be alienated from it, is severi­ty and censoriousness; a disposition of mind that gives no allowance to the failings of early life, that expects artfulness from childhood, and constancy from youth, that is peremptory in every command, and inexorable to every failure. There are many who live merely to hinder happiness, and whose descendants can only tell of long life, that it produces suspi­cion, malignity, peevishness and persecution: and yet even they can talk of the ingratitude of the age, curse their heirs for impatience, and wonder that young men cannot take plea­sure in their fathers' company.

He that would pass the latter part of life with honour and decency, must, when he is young, consider that he shall one day be old; [Page 133] and lay up knowledge for his support, when his powers of acting shall forsake him; and remember when he is old that he has once been young, and forbear to animadvert with unne­cessary rigour on faults which experience only can correct.

NUMB. 51. TUESDAY, Sept. 10, 1750.

‘—Stultus labor est ineptiarum. ’MART.



AS you have allowed a place in your pa­per to Euphelia's letters from the country, and appear to think no form of hu­man life unworthy of your attention, I have resolved, after many struggles with idleness and diffidence, to give you some account of my entertainment in this sober season of universal retreat, and to describe to you the employ­ments of those who look with contempt on the pleasures and diversions of polite life, and em­ploy all their powers of censure and invective [Page 134] upon the uselessness, vanity, and folly of dress, visits, and conversation.

WHEN a tiresome and vexatious journey of four days had brought me to the house, where an invitation, regularly sent for seven years to­gether, had at last induced me to pass the summer, I was surprised, after the civilities of my first reception, to find, instead of the leisure and tranquillity, which a rural life al­ways promises, and, if well conducted, might always afford, a confused wildness of care, and a tumultuous hurry of diligence, by which every face was clouded, and every motion agitated. The old lady, who is my father's relation, was, indeed, very full of the happi­ness which she received from my visit, and, according to the forms of obsolete breeding, insisted that I should recompense the long de­lay of my company with a promise not to leave her till winter. But, amidst all her kindness and caresses, she very frequently turned her head aside, and whispered, with an­xious earnestness, some order to her daughters which never failed to send them out with unpo­lite precipitation. Sometimes her impatience would not suffer her to stay behind; she beg­ged my pardon, she must leave me for a mo­ment; [Page 135] she went, and returned and sat down again, but was again disturbed by some new care, dismissed her daughters with the same trepidation, and followed them with the same countenance of business and solicitude.

HOWEVER I was alarmed at this show of eagerness and disturbance, and however my curiosity was excited by such busy preparations as naturally promised some great event, I was yet too much a stranger to gratify myself with enquiries; but finding none of the family in mourning, I pleased myself with imagining that I should rather see a wedding than a funeral.

AT last we sat down to supper, when I was informed that one of the young ladies, after whom I thought myself obliged to enquire, was under a necessity of attending some affair that could not be neglected: soon after my re­lation began to talk of the regularity of her family, and the inconvenience of London hours; and at last let me know that they had purposed that night to go to bed sooner than was usual, because they were to rise early in the morning to make cheesecakes. This hint sent me to my chamber, to which I was accompa­nied [Page 136] by all the ladies, who begged me to ex­cuse some large sieves of leaves and flowers that covered two thirds of the floor, for they intended to distil them when they were dry, and they had no other room that so conveni­ently received the rising sun.

THE scent of the plants hindered me from rest, and therefore I rose early in the morning with a resolution to explore my new habitati­on. I stole unperceived by my busy cousins into the garden, where I found nothing either more great or elegant, than in the same num­ber of acres cultivated for the market. Of the gardener I soon learned that his lady was the greatest manager in that part of the coun­try, and that I was come hither at the time in which I might learn to make more pickles and conserves, than could be seen at any other house a hundred miles round.

IT was not long before her ladyship gave me sufficient opportunities of knowing her cha­racter, for she was too much pleased with her own accomplishments to conceal them, and took occasion, from some sweetmeats which she set next day upon the table, to discourse for two long hours upon robs and gellies; [Page 137] laid down the best methods of conserving, re­serving, and preserving all sorts of fruit; told us with great contempt of the London lady in the neighbourhood, by whom these terms were very often confounded; and hinted how much she should be ashamed to set before com­pany, at her own house, sweetmeats of so dark a colour as she had often seen at mistress Sprightly's.

IT is, indeed, the great business of her life, to watch the skillet on the fire, to see it simmer with the due degree of heat, and to snatch it off at the moment of projection; and the employments to which she has bred her daughters, are to turn rose-leaves in the shade, to pick out the seeds of currants with a quill, to gather fruit without bruising it, and to ex­tract bean-flower water for the skin. Such are the tasks with which every day, since I came hither, has begun and ended, to which the early hours of life are sacrificed, and in which that time is passing away which never shall return.

BUT to reason or expostulate are hopeless attempts. The lady has settled her opinions, and maintains the dignity of her own perfor­mances [Page 138] with all the firmness of stupidity ac­customed to be flattered. Her daughters hav­ing never seen any house but their own, be­lieve their mother's excellence on her own word. Her husband is a mere sportsman, who is pleased to see his table well furnished, and thinks the day sufficiently successful, in which he brings home a leash of hares to be potted by his wife.

AFTER a few days I pretended to want books, but my lady soon told me that none of her books would suit my taste; for her part she never loved to see young women give their minds to such follies, by which they would only learn to use hard words; she bred up her daughters to understand a house, and who­ever should marry them, if they knew any thing of good cookery, would never repent it.

THERE are, however, some things in the culinary science too sublime for youthful in­tellects, mysteries into which they must not be initiated till the years of serious maturity, and which are referred to the day of marriage, as the supreme qualification for connubial life. She makes an orange pudding, which is the envy of all the neighbourhood, and [Page 139] which she has hitherto found means of mix­ing and baking with such secrecy, that the in­gredient to which it owes its flavour has ne­ver been discovered. She, indeed, conducts this great affair with all the caution that hu­man policy can suggest. It is never known beforehand when this pudding will be pro­duced; she takes the ingredients privately into her own closet, employs her maids and daugh­ters in different parts of the house, orders the oven to be heated for a pye, and places the pudding in it with her own hands, the mouth of the oven is then stopped, and all enquiries are vain.

THE composition of the pudding she has, however, promised Clarinda, that if she pleas­es her in marriage, she shall be told without reserve. But the art of making English capers she has not yet persuaded herself to discover, but seems resolved that secret shall perish with her, as some alchymists have obstinately suppressed the art of transmuting metals.

I ONCE ventured to lay my fingers on her book of receipts, which she left upon the table, having intelligence that a vessel of gooseberry wine had burst the hoops. But though the [Page 140] importance of the event sufficiently engrossed her care, to prevent any recollection of the danger to which her secrets were exposed, I was not able to make use of the golden mo­ments; for this treasure of hereditary know­ledge was so well concealed by the manner of spelling used by her grandmother, her mother, and herself, that I was totally unable to under­stand it, and lost the opportunity of consul­ting the oracle, for want of knowing the lan­guage in which its answers were returned.

IT is, indeed, necessary, if I have any re­gard to her ladyship's esteem, that I should apply myself to some of these oeconomical ac­complishments; for I overheard her, two days ago, warning her daughters, by my mournful example, against negligence of pas­try, and ignorance in carving: for you saw, said she, that, with all her pretensions to knowledge, she turned the partridge the wrong way when she attempted to cut it, and, I believe, scarcely knows the difference between paste raised, and paste in a dish.

THE reason, Mr Rambler, why I have laid Lady Bustle's character before you, is a desire to be informed whether, in your opini­on, [Page 141] it is worthy of imitation, and whether I shall throw away the books which I have hi­therto thought it my duty to read, for the la­dy's closet opened, the compleat servant-maid, and the court cook, and resign all curiosity after right and wrong, for the art of scalding da­mascenes without bursting them, and preser­ving the whiteness of pickled mushrooms.

LADY Bustle has, indeed, by this incessant application to fruits and flowers, contracted her cares into a narrow space, and set herself free from many perplexities with which other minds are disturbed. She has no curiosity af­ter the events of a war, or the fate of heroes in distress; she can hear, without the least e­motion, the ravage of a fire, or devastations of a storm; her neighbours grow rich or poor, come into the world or go out of it, without regard, while she is pressing the gelly-bag, or airing the store-room; but I cannot perceive that she is more free from disquiets than those whose understandings take a wider range. Her marigolds when they are almost cured, are often scattered by the wind, the rain some­times falls upon fruit when it ought to be ga­thered dry. While her artificial wines are fermenting, her spirits are disturbed with the [Page 142] utmost restlessness of anxiety. Her sweet-meats are not always bright, and the maid sometimes forgets the just proportions of salt and pepper, when venison is to be baked. Her conserves mould, her wines sour, and pickles mother; and, like all the rest of mankind, she is every day mortified with the defeat of her schemes, and the disappointment of her hopes.

WITH regard to vice and virtue she seems a kind of neutral being. She has no crime but luxury, nor any virtue but chastity; she has no desire to be praised but for her cookery, nor wishes any ill to the rest of mankind, but that whenever they aspire to a feast, their cus­tards may be wheyish, and their pye-crusts tough.

I AM now very impatient to know whether I am to look on these ladies as the great pat­terns of our sex, and to consider conserves and pickles as the business of my life; whe­ther the censures which I now suffer be just, and whether the brewers of wines, and the distillers of washes, have a right to look with insolence on the weakness of


NUMB. 52. SATURDAY, September 15, 1750.

—Quoties flenti Theseius heros
Siste modum, dixit, neque enim fortuna querenda
Sola tua est, similes aliorum respice casus,
Mitius ista feres.

AMONG the various methods of conso­lation, to which the miseries insepa­rable from our present state have given occasi­on, it has been, as I have already remark­ed, recommended by some writers to put the sufferer in mind of heavier pressures, and more excruciating calamities, than those of which he has himself reason to complain.

THIS has, in all ages, been directed and practised; and, in conformity to this custom, Lipsius, the great modern master of the Stoic philosophy, has, in his celebrated treatise on steadiness of mind, endeavoured to fortify the breast against too much sensibility of misfor­tune, by enumerating the great evils which have in former ages fallen upon the world, the devastation of wide-extended regions, the sack of cities, and the massacre of nations. [Page 144] And the common voice of the multitude un­instructed by precept, and unprejudiced by authority, which, in questions that relate to the heart of man, is, in my opinion, more decisive than the learning of Lipsius, seems to justify the efficacy of this procedure; for one of the first comforts which one neighbour ad­ministers to another, is a relation of the like infelicity, combined with circumstances of greater bitterness.

BUT this medicine of the mind is like ma­ny remedies applied to the body, of which, though we see the effects, most are unac­quainted with the manner of operation, and of which, therefore, some, who are unwilling to suppose any thing out of the reach of their own sagacity, have been inclined to doubt whether they have really those virtues for which they are celebrated, and whether their reputation is not the mere gift of fancy, pre­judice and credulity.

CONSOLATION, or comfort, are words which, in their proper acceptation, signify some alleviation of that pain to which it is not in our power to afford the proper and ad­equate remedy; they imply rather an aug­mentation [Page 145] of the power of bearing, than a diminution of the burthen. A prisoner is re­lieved by him that sets him at liberty, but re­ceives comfort from such as suggests consider­ations by which he is enabled to be more pa­tient under the inconvenience of confinement. To that grief which arises from a great loss he only brings the true remedy, who makes his friend's condition the same as before; but he may be properly termed a comforter, who by his counsel and persuasions extenuates the pain of poverty, and shews, in the style of He­siod, that half is more than the whole.

IT is, perhaps, not immediately obvious, how it can lull the memory of misfortune, or appease the throbbings of anguish, to hear that others are more miserable; others, per­haps, unknown or wholly indifferent, whose prosperity raises no envy, and whose fall can gratify no resentment. Some topics of com­fort arising, like that which gave hope and spirit to the captive of Sesostris, from the perpetual vicissitudes of life, and mutability of human affairs, may as properly raise the dejected as depress the proud, and have an im­mediate and necessary tendency to exhilarate and revive. But how can it avail the man [Page 146] who languishes in the gloom of sorrow, with­out prospect of emerging into the sunshine of chearfulness, to hear that others are sunk yet deeper in the dungeon of misery, shackled with heavier chains, and surrounded with darker desperation?

THE solace arising from this consideration seems, indeed, the weakest of all others, and is, perhaps, never properly applied, but in cases where there is no place for reflexions of more speedy and pleasing efficacy. But even from such calamities life is by no means free; a thousand ills incurable, a thousand losses ir­reparable, a thousand difficulties insurmount­able, are known, or will be known, by all the sons of men. Native deformity cannot be rectified, a dead friend cannot return, and the hours of youth trifled away in folly, or lost in sickness, cannot be restored.

UNDER the oppression of such melancholy it has been found useful to take a survey of the world, to contemplate the various scenes of distress in which mankind are struggling round us, and acquaint ourselves with the terribiles visu formae, the various shapes of misery, which make havock of terrestrial happiness, [Page 147] range all corners almost without restraint, trample down our hopes at the hour of harvest, and when we have built our schemes to the top, ruin their foundations.

THE first effect of this meditation is, that it furnishes a new employment for the mind, and engages the passions to remoter objects; as kings have sometimes freed themselves from the turbulence of a subject too haughty to be governed, and too powerful to be crushed, by posting him in a distant province, till his popularity has subsided, or his pride been re­pressed. The attention is dissipated by variety, and acts more weakly upon any single part, as that torrent may be drawn off to different channels, which, pouring down in one collected body, cannot be resisted. This species of comfort is, therefore, useless in severe pa­roxysms of corporal pain, when the mind is every instant called back to misery, and in the first shock of any sudden evil; but will cer­tainly be of use against encroaching melan­choly, and a settled habit of gloomy thoughts.

IT is further advantageous as it supplies us with opportunities of making comparisons in our own favour. We know that very little [Page 148] of the pain, or pleasure, which does not be­gin and end in our senses, is otherwise than relative; we are rich or poor, great or little, in proportion to the number that excel us, or fall beneath us, in any of these respects; and therefore, a man, whose uneasiness arises from reflection on any misfortune that throws him below those with whom he was once equal, is comforted by finding that he is not yet lowest.

BUT there is another kind of comparison, less tending towards the vice of envy, very well illustrated by an old poet, whose system will not afford many reasonable motives to content. 'It is,' says he, 'pleasing to look from shore upon the tumults of a storm, and to see a ship struggling with the billows; it is pleasing, not because the pain of ano­ther can give us delight, but because we have a stronger impression of the happiness of safety.' Thus when we look abroad, and behold the multitudes that are groaning under evils heavier than those which we have expe­rienced, we shrink back to our own state, and instead of repining that so much must be felt, learn to rejoice that we have not more to feel.

[Page 149] BY this observation of the miseries of others, fortitude is strengthened, and the mind brought to a more extensive knowledge of her own powers. As the heroes of action catch the flame from one another, so they to whom providence has allotted the harder task of suf­fering with calmness and dignity, may animate themselves by the remembrance of those evils which have been laid on others, perhaps natu­rally as weak as themselves, and bear up with vigour and resolution against their own op­pressions, when they see it yet possible that more severe afflictions may be born.

THERE is still another reason why, to many minds, the relation of other mens' infe­licity may give a lasting and continual relief. Some, not well instructed in the measures by which providence distributes happiness, are per­haps misled by divines, who, as Bellarmine makes temporal prosperity one of the charac­ters of the true church, have represented wealth and ease as the certain concomitants of virtue, and the unfailing result of the divine approbation. Such sufferers are dejected in their misfortunes, not so much for what they feel, as for what they dread; not because [Page 150] they cannot support the sorrows, or endure the wants, of their present condition, but because they consider them as only the begin­nings of more sharp and more lasting pains. To these mourners it is an act of the highest charity to represent the calamities which not only virtue has suffered, but virtue has incur­red; to inform them that one evidence of a future state is the uncertainty of any present reward for goodness; and to remind them, from the highest authority, of the distresses and penury of men of whom the world was not worthy.

NUMB. 53. TUESDAY, Sept. 18, 1750.

[...]Epigram. Vet.

THERE is scarcely, among those evils to which human life is exposed, any so generally dreaded as poverty. Every other species of misery, those, who are not much accustomed to disturb the present moment with reflexion, can easily forget, because it is not always forced upon their regard: but it is impossible to pass a day or an hour in the con­fluxes [Page 151] of men, without seeing how much in­digence is exposed to contumely, neglect and insult; and, in its lowest state, to hunger and nakedness; to injuries against which every passion is in arms, and to wants which nature cannot sustain.

AGAINST other evils the heart is often hardened by true or by false notions of digni­ty and reputation: thus we see dangers of eve­ry kind faced with willingness because bravery, in a good or bad cause, is never without its encomiasts and admirers. But in the prospect of poverty there is nothing but gloom and me­lancholy; the mind and body suffer together; its miseries bring no alleviations; it is a state in which every virtue is obscured, and in which no conduct can avoid reproach; a state in which chearfulness is insensibility, and de­jection sullenness, of which the hardships are without honour, and the labours without re­ward.

OF these calamities there seems not to be wanting a general conviction; we hear on every side the noise of trade, and see the streets thronged with numberless multitudes, whose faces are clouded with anxiety, and whose [Page 152] steps are hurried by precipitation, from no other motive than the hope of gain; and the whole world is put in motion, by the desire of that wealth, which is chiefly to be valued, as it secures us from poverty; for it is more use­ful for defence than acquisition, and is not so much able to procure good as to exclude evil.

YET there are always some whose passions or follies lead them to a conduct opposite to the general maxims and practice of mankind; some who seem to rush upon poverty, with the same eagerness with which others avoid it, who see their revenues hourly lessened, and the estates which they inherit from their ancestors mouldering away, without resolu­tion to change their course of life; and perse­vere against all remonstrances, and go for­ward with full career, though they see before them the precipice of destruction.

IT is not my purpose, in this paper, to ex­postulate with such as ruin their fortunes by expensive schemes of buildings and gardens, which they carry on with the same vanity that prompted them to begin, chusing, as it hap­pens in a thousand other cases, the remote evil before the lighter, and deferring the [Page 153] shame of repentance till they incur the mise­ries of distress. Those for whom I intend my present admonitions, are the thoughtless, the negligent, and the dissolute; who having, by the viciousness of their own inclinations, or the seducements of alluring companions, been engaged in habits of expence, and ac­customed to move in a certain round of plea­sures disproportioned to their condition, are without power to extricate themselves from the enchantments of custom, avoid thought because they know it will be painful, and continue, from day to day, and from month to month, to anticipate their revenues, and sink every hour deeper into the gulphs of usu­ry and extortion.

THIS folly has less claim to pity, because it cannot be imputed to the vehemence of sudden passion; nor can the mischief which it produces be extenuated as the effect of any single act, which rage, or desire, might exe­cute before there could be time for an appeal to reason. These men are advancing towards misery by soft approaches, and destroying themselves, not by the violence of a blow, which, when once given, can never be re­called, [Page 154] but by a slow poison, hourly repeated, and obstinately continued.

THIS conduct is so absurd when it is exa­mined by the unprejudiced eye of rational judgment, that nothing but experience could evince its possibility; yet absurd as it is, the sudden fall of some families, and the sudden rise of others, prove it to be common; and every year sees many wretches reduced to contempt and want, by their costly sacrifices to pleasure and vanity.

IT is the fate of almost every passion, when it has passed the bounds which nature pre­scribes, to counteract its own purpose. Too much rage hinders the warrior from circum­spection, too much eagerness of profit hurts the credit of the trader, too much ardor takes away from the lover that easiness of ad­dress with which ladies are delighted. Thus extravagance, though dictated by vanity, and incited by voluptuousness, seldom procures ultimately either applause or pleasure.

IF praise be justly estimated by the charac­ter of those from whom it is received, little satisfaction will be given to the spendthrift by [Page 155] the encomiums which he purchases. For who are they that animate him in his persuits, but young men, thoughtless and abandoned like himself, unacquainted with all on which the wisdom of nations has impressed the stamp of excellence, and devoid alike of knowledge and of virtue? By whom in his profusion praised, but by wretches who consider him as subservient to their purposes, Sirens that entice him to shipwreck, and Cyclops that are gaping to devour him?

EVERY man whose knowledge, or whose virtue, can give value to his opinion, looks with scorn, or pity, neither of which can af­ford much gratification to pride, on him whom the pandars of luxury have drawn into the circle of their influence, and whom he sees parcelled out among the different minis­ters of folly, and about to be torn to pieces by taylors and jockeys, vintners and attor­neys, by whom he is at once robbed and ri­diculed, and who are secretly triumphing over his weakness, when they present new incite­ments to his appetite, and heighten his de­sire by counterfeited applause.

SUCH is the praise that is purchased by pro­digality; [Page 156] even when it is yet not discovered to be false, it is the praise only of those whom it is reproachful to please, and whose sincerity is corrupted by their interest, men who live by the riots which they encourage, and who know that when ever their pupil grows wise, they shall lose their power. Yet with such flatteries, if they could last, might the cravings of vanity, which is seldom very delicate, be satisfied; but the time is always hastening forward when this triumph, poor as it is, shall vanish, and when those who now sur­round him with obsequiousness and compli­ments, fawn among his equipage, and ani­mate his rio [...]s, shall turn upon him with inso­lence, and reproach him with the vices pro­moted by themselves.

AND as little pretensions has the man, who squanders his estate by vain or vicious expen­ces, to greater degrees of pleasure than are ob­tained by others. To make any happiness sincere, it is necessary that we believe it to be lasting: since whatever we suppose ourselves in danger of losing, must be enjoyed with soli­citude and uneasiness, and the more value we set upon it, the more must the present posses­sion be imbittered. How can he then be en­vied [Page 157] for his felicity, who knows that its con­tinuance cannot be expected, and who is con­scious that a very short time will give him up to the gripe of poverty, which will be harder to be born, as he has given way to more ex­cesses, wantoned in greater abundance, and indulged his appetites with more profuseness?

IT appears evident that frugality is necessary even to complete the pleasure of expence; for it may be generally remarked of those who squander what they know their fortune not sufficient to allow, that in their most jovial expence, there always breaks out some proof of discontent and impatience; they either scatter with a kind of wild desperation, and affected lavishness, as criminals brave the gallows when they can­not escape it, or pay their money with a pee­vish anxiety, and endeavour at once to spend idly, and to save meanly, having neither firmness to deny their passions, nor courage to gratify them, but murmuring at their own enjoyments, and poisoning the bowl of plea­sure by reflexion on the cost.

AMONG these men there is often the voci­feration of merriment, but very seldom the tranquillity of chearfulness; they inflame their [Page 158] imaginations to a kind of momentary jollity, by the help of wine and riot, and consider it as the first business of the night to stupify re­collection, and lay that reason asleep which disturbs their gayety, and calls upon them to retreat from ruin.

BUT this poor broken satisfaction is of short continuance, and must be expiated by a long se­ries of misery and regret. In a short time the creditor grows impatient, the last acre is sold, the passions and appetites still continue their tyranny, with incessant calls for their usual gratifications, and the remainder of life passes away in vain repentance, or impotent desire.

NUMB. 54. SATURDAY, September 22, 1750.

Truditur dies die,
Novaeque pergunt interire lunae;
Tu secanda marmora
Locas sub ipsum funus, et sepulchri
Immemor struis domos.



I HAVE lately been called, from a ming­led life of business and amusement, to at­tend [Page 159] the last hours of an old friend; an office which has filled me, if not with melancholy, at least with serious reflexions, and turned my thoughts towards the contemplation of those subjects, which, though of the utmost importance, and of indubitable certainty, are generally secluded from our regard, by the jollity of health, the hurry of employment, and even by the calmer diversions of study and speculation; or if they become accidental to­pics of conversation and argument, yet rare­ly sink deep into the heart, but give occasion only to some subtilties of reasoning, or some elegancies of declamation, which are heard, applauded, and forgotten.

IT is, indeed, not hard to conceive how a man accustomed to extend his views through a long concatenation of causes and effects, to trace things from their origin to their period, and compare means with ends, may discover the weakness of human schemes; detect the fallacies by which we are deluded; shew the insufficiency of wealth, honours, and power, to real happiness; and please himself, and his auditors with learned lectures on the vanity of life.

[Page 160] BUT though the speculatist may see and shew the folly of terrestrial hopes, fears, and desires, every hour will give proofs that he never felt it. Trace him through the paths of life, and you will find him acting upon principles which he has in common with un­enlightened mortals, angry and pleased like the lowest of the vulgar, persuing, with the same ardor, the same designs, grasping, with all the eagerness of transport, those riches which he knows he cannot keep, and swelling with the applause which he has gained by Proving that applause is of no value.

THE only conviction which rushes upon the soul, and takes away from our appetites and passions the power of resistance, is to be found, where I have received it, at the bed of a dying friend. To enter the school of wisdom is not the peculiar privilege of geo­metricians; the most sublime and important precepts require no uncommon opportunities, nor laborious preparations, they are enforced without the aid of eloquence, and understood without skill in analytic science. Every tongue can utter them, and every understand­ing can conceive them. He that wishes in [Page 161] earnest to obtain just sentiments concerning his condition, he that would be intimately ac­quainted with the world, may find instruc­tions on every side; he that desires to enter behind the scene, which every art has been employed to decorate, and every passion la­bours to illuminate, and to see life stripped of those ornaments which make it glitter on the stage, and exposed in its natural meanness, impotence, and nakedness, may find all the delusion laid open in the chamber of disease; he will there find vanity divested of her robes, power deprived of her sceptre, and hypocrisy without her mask.

THE friend whom I have lost was a man eminent for genius, and, like others of the same class, sufficiently pleased with acceptance and applause. Being caressed by those who have preferments and riches in their disposal, he considered himself as in the direct road of advancement, and had caught the flame of ambition by approaches to its object. But in the midst of his hopes, his projects, and his gayeties, he was seized by a lingering disease, which, from its first stage, he knew to be in­curable. Here was an end of all his visions of greatness and happiness; from the first [Page 162] hour that his health declined, all his former pleasures grew tasteless. His friends expected to please him by those accounts of the growth of his reputation, which were formerly certain of being well received; but they soon found how little he was now affected by compli­ments, and how vainly they attempted, by flattery, to exhilarate the languor of weakness, and relieve the solicitude of approaching death. Whoever would know how much piety and virtue surpass all external goods, might here have seen them weighed against each other, where all that gives motion to the active, and elevation to the eminent, all that sparkles in the eye of hope, and pants in the bosom of suspicion, at once became dust in the balance, without weight and without regard. Riches, authority, and praise, lose all their influence when they are considered as riches which to­morrow shall be bestow'd upon another, au­thority which shall this night expire for ever, and praise which, however merited, or how­ever sincere, shall, after a few moments, be heard no more.

IN those hours of seriousness and wisdom, nothing appeared to raise his spirits, or glad­den his heart, but the recollection of acts of [Page 163] goodness, nor to excite his attention but some opportunity for the exercise of the duties of religion. Every thing that terminated on this side of the grave was received with coldness and indifference, and regarded rather in con­sequence of the habit of valuing it, than from any opinion that it deserved value; it had lit­tle more prevalence over his mind than a bub­ble that was now broken, a dream from which he was awake. His whole powers were engrossed by the consideration of another state, and all conversation was tedious, that had not some tendency to disengage him from human affairs, and open his prospects into e­ternity.

IT is now past, we have closed his eyes, and heard him breathe the groan of expiration. At the sight of this last conflict, I felt a sensa­tion never known to me before; a confusion of passions, an awful stilness of sorrow, a gloo­my terrour without a name. The thoughts that entered my soul were too strong to be di­verted, and too piercing to be endured; but such violence cannot be lasting, the storm sub­sided in a short time, I wept, retired, and grew calm.

[Page 164] I have from that time frequently revolved in my mind, the effects which the observation of death produces, in those who are not whol­ly without the power and use of reflexion; for by far the greater part it seems to be whol­ly unregarded. Their friends and their ene­mies sink into the grave without raising any uncommon emotion, or reminding them that they are themselves on the edge of the preci­pice, and that they must soon plunge into the gulph of eternity.

IT seems to me remarkable that death in­creases our veneration for the good, and exte­nuates our hatred of the bad. Those virtues which once we envied, as Horace observes, because they eclipsed our own, can now no longer obstruct our reputation, and we have therefore no interest to suppress their praise. That wickedness, which we feared for its ma­lignity, is now become impotent, and the man whose name filled us with alarm, and rage, and indignation, can at last be considered only with pity, or contempt.

WHEN a friend is carried to his grave, we at once find excuses for every weakness, and pal­liations [Page 165] of every fault; we recollect a thou­sand endearments, which before glided off our minds without impression, a thousand favours unrepaid, a thousand duties unperformed, and wish, vainly wish for his return, not so much that we may receive, as that we may bestow happiness, and recompense that kindness which before we never understood.

THERE is not, perhaps, to a mind well in­structed, a more painful occurrence, than the death of one whom we have injured without reparation. Our crime seems now irretrievea­ble, it is indelibly recorded, and the stamp of fate is fixed upon it. We consider, with the most afflictive anguish, the pain which we have given, and now cannot alleviate, and the losses which we have caused, and now cannot compensate.

OF the same kind are the emotions which the death of an emulator or competitor pro­duces. Whoever had qualities to alarm our jealousy, had excellence to deserve our fond­ness, and to whatever ardor opposition of inter­est may enflame us, no man ever outlived an enemy, whom he did not then wish to have made a friend. Those who are versed in li­terary [Page 166] history know that the elder Scaliger was the redoubted antagonist of Cardan and Eras­mus; yet at the death of each of his great ri­vals he relented, and complained that they were snatched away from him before their re­conciliation was completed.

Tu-ne etiam moreris? Ah! quid me linquis, Erasme,
Ante meus quam sit conciliatus amor?

SUCH are the sentiments with which we at last review the effects of passion, but which we sometimes delay till we can no longer rec­tify our errors. Let us therefore make haste to do what we shall certainly at last wish to have done; let us return the caresses of our friends, and endeavour by mutual endearments to heighten that tenderness which is the balm of life. Let us be quick to repent of injuries while repentance may not be a barren anguish, and let us open our eyes to every rival excel­lence, and pay early and willingly those ho­nours which justice will compel us to pay at last.


NUMB. 55. TUESDAY, Sept. 25. 1750.

Maturo propior desine funeri
Inter ludere virgines,
Et stellis maculam spargere candidis:
Non siquid Pholoen satis
Ee te, Chlori, decet.—



THOUGH I have been but a little time conversant in the world, yet I have already had frequent opportunities of obser­ving the little efficacy of remonstrance and complaint, which, however extorted by oppres­sion, or supported by reason, are detested by one part of the world as rebellion, censured by another as peevishness, by another heard with an appearance of compassion, only to betray any of those sallies of vehemence and resent­ment, which are apt to break out upon en­couragement, and by others passed over with indifference and neglect, as matters in which they have no concern, and which, if they should endeavour to examine or regulate, they might [...] mischief upon themselves.

[Page 189] YET since it is no less natural for those who think themselves injured to complain, than for others to neglect their complaints, I shall venture to lay my case before you, in hopes that you will enforce my opinion, if you think it just, or endeavour to rectify my sen­timents, if I am mistaken. I expect, at least, that you will divest yourself of partiality, and that whatever your age or solemnity may be, you will not, with the dotard's insolence, pronounce me ignorant and foolish, perverse and refractory, only because you perceive that I am young.

MY father dying when I was but ten years old, left me, and a brother two years younger than myself, to the care of my mother, a wo­man of birth and education, whose prudence or virtue he had no reason to distrust. She felt, for some time, all the sorrow which na­ture calls forth, upon the final separation of persons dear to one another; and as her grief was exhausted by its own violence, it subsided into tenderness for me and my brother, and the year of mourning was spent in caresses, consolations, and instruction, in celebration of my father's virtues, in professions of per­petual regard to his memory, and hourly in­stances [Page 169] of such fondness as gratitude will not easily suffer me to forget.

BUT when the term of this mournful felici­ty was expired, and my mother appeared again without the ensigns of sorrow, the ladies of her acquaintance began to tell her, upon what­ever motives, that it was time to live like the rest of the world; a powerful argument which is seldom used to a woman without ef­fect. Lady Giddy was incessantly relating the occurrences of the town, and Mrs Gravely told her privately, with great tenderness, that it began to be publickly observed how much she over-acted her part, and that most of her acquaintance suspected her hope of procuring another husband to be the true ground of all that appearance of tenderness and piety.

ALL the officiousness of kindness and folly was busied to change her conduct. She was at one time alarmed with censure, and at an­other fired with praise. She was told of balls, where others shone only because she was ab­sent; of new comedies to which all the town was crouding; and of many ingenious ironies, by which domestick diligence was made con­temptibie.

[Page 146] IT is difficult for virtue to stand alone against fear on one side, and pleasure on the other; especially when no actual crime is proposed, and prudence itself can suggest many reasons for relaxation and indulgence. My mamma was at last persuaded to accompany Miss Giddy to a play. She was received with a boundless profusion of compliment, and attended home by a very fine gentleman. Next day she was with less difficulty prevailed on to play at Mrs Gravely's, and came home gay and lively; for the distinctions that had been paid her a­wakened her vanity, and good luck had kept her principles of frugality from giving her distur­bance. She now made her second entrance into the world, and her friends were suffici­ently industrious to prevent any return to her former life; every morning brought messages of invitation, and every evening was passed in places of diversion, from which she for some time complained that she had rather be absent. In a short time she began to feel the happiness of acting without controul, of be­ing unaccountable for her hours, her expences, and her company; and learned, by degrees, to drop an expression of contempt, or pity, at the mention of ladies whose husbands were suspected of restraining their pleasures, or [Page 147] their play, and confessed that she loved to go and come as she pleased.

I WAS still favoured with some incidental precepts and transient endearments, and was now and then fondly kissed for smiling like my papa: but most part of her morning was spent in comparing the opinion of her maid and milliner, contriving some variation in her dress, visiting shops, and sending conpliments; and the rest of the day was too short for visits, cards, plays, and concerts.

SHE now began to discover that it was im­possible to educate children properly at home. Parents could not have them always in their sight; the society of servants was contagious; company produced boldness and spirit; emula­tion excited industry; and a large school was naturally the first step into the open world. A thousand other reasons she alleged, some of lit­tle force in themselves, but so well seconded by pleasure, vanity, and idleness, that they soon overcame all the remaining principles of kind­ness and piety, and both I and my brother were dispatched to boarding schools.

HOW my mamma spent her time when she [Page 172] was thus disburthened I am not able to inform you, but I have reason to believe that trifles and amusements took still faster hold of her heart. At first, she visited me at school, and afterwards wrote to me; but in a short time, both her visits and her letters were at an end, and no other notice was taken of me than to remit money for my support.

WHEN I came home, at the vacation, I found myself coldly received, with an obser­vation, "that this girl will presently be a woman." I was, after the usual stay, sent to school again, and overheard my mother say, as I was a going, "Well, now I shall recover."

IN fix months more I came again, and, with the usual childish alacrity, was running to my mother's embrace, when she stopped me with exclamations at the suddenness and enormity of my growth, having, she said, never seen any body shoot up so much at my age. She was sure no other girls spread at that rate, and she hated to have children look like women before their time. I was disconcerted, and retired without hearing any thing more than, "Nay if you are angry, madam Steeple, you may walk off."

[Page 173] WHEN once the forms of civility are viola­ted, there remains little hope of return to kind­ness or decency. My mamma made this ap­pearance of resentment a reason for continu­ing her malignity, and poor Miss Maypole, for that was my appellation, was never men­tioned or spoken to but with some expression of anger or dislike.

SHE had yet the pleasure of dressing me like a child, and I know not when I should have been thought fit to change my habit, had I not been rescued by a maiden sister of my father, who could not bear to see women in hanging sleeves, and therefore presented me with brocade for a gown, for which I should have thought myself under great obligations, had she not ac­companied her favour with some hints that my mamma might now consider her age, and give me her ear-rings, which she had shewn long enough in publick places.

I NOW left the school and came to live with my mamma, who considered me as an usurper that had seized the rights of a woman without a just claim, and was pushing her down the precipice of age that I might reign without [Page 174] a superior. While I am thus beheld with jea­lousy and suspicion, you will readily believe that it is difficult to please. Every word and look is an offence. I never speak, but I pre­tend to some qualities and excellences, which it is criminal to possess; if I am gay, she thinks it early enough to coquette; if I am grave, she hates a prude in bibs; if I venture into com­pany, I am in haste for a husband; if I retire to my chamber, such matron-like ladies are lovers of contemplation. I am on one pre­tence or other generally excluded from her as­semblies, nor am I ever suffered to visit at the same place with my mamma. Every one won­ders why she does not bring Miss more into the world, and when she comes home in va­pours I am certain that she has heard either of my beauty or my wit, and expect nothing for the ensuing week, but taunts and menaces, contradiction and reproaches.

THUS I live in a state of continual perse­cution, only because I was born ten years too soon, and cannot stop the course of nature or of time, but am unhappily a woman before my mother can willingly cease to be a girl. I believe you would contribute to the hap­piness of many families, if, by any arguments [Page 175] or persuasions, you could make mothers asham­ed of rivalling their children; if you could shew them, that though they may refuse to grow wise, they must inevitably grow old; and that the proper solaces of age are not musick and compliments, but wisdom and devotion; that those who are so unwilling to quit the world will soon be driven from it; and that it is therefore their interest to retire while there yet remain a few hours for nobler employ­ments.

NUMB. 56. SATURDAY, Sept. 29, 1750.

—Valeat res ludicra, si me
Palma negata macrum, donata reducit opimum.

NOTHING is more unpleasing than to find that others have received offence when none was intended, and that pain has been given to those who were not guilty of any provocation. As the great end of society is mutual beneficence, a good man is always uneasy when he finds himself acting in oppo­sition to the purposes of life; because tho' his conscience may easily acquit him of malice pre­pense, of settled hatred or contrivances of mis­chief, [Page 176] yet he seldom can be certain, that he has not failed by negligence, or indolence; that he has not been hindered from consulting the common interest by too much regard to his own ease, or too much indifference to the happiness of others.

NOR is it necessary, that, to feel this unca­siness, the mind should be extended to any great diffusion of generosity, or melted by any un­common warmth of benevolence; for that prudence which rises from observation of the world, and a quick sensibility of private inter­est, will easily direct us to shun needless enmi­ties; since there is no man whose kindness we may not some time want, or by whose ma­lice we may not some time suffer.

I HAVE therefore frequently looked with re­aentment and wonder, and now and then with pity, at the thoughtlessness and folly with which some alienate from themselves the affections of all whom chance, or business, or inclina­tion brings in their way. When we see a man pursuing some darling interest, without much regard to the opinion of the world, though we may justly consider him as corrupt and dangerous, we are not long in discover­ing [Page 177] his motives; we see him actuated by pas­sions which are hard to be resisted, and delu­ded by appearances which have dazzled stron­ger eyes. But the greatest part of those who set mankind at defiance by hourly irritation, and who live but to infuse malignity, and multiply enemies, have no hopes to foster, no designs to promote, nor any expectations of attaining power by insolence, or of climb­ing to greatness by trampling on others. They give up all the sweets of private kindness, and all the satisfaction of general regard, for the sake of peevishness, petulance, or gloom; by neglect of the common forms of civility, and breach of the established laws of conversation.

EVERY one must, in the walks of life, have met with men of whom all speak with censure, though they are not chargeable with any crime, and whom none can be perswaded to love, though no reason can be assigned why they should be hated; and who, if their good qualities and actions sometimes force a com­mendation, have their panegyrick always concluded with confessions of disgust; "he is a good man, but I cannot like him." Surely such persons have sold the esteem of the world at too low a price, since they have lost [Page 178] one of the rewards of virtue, without gaining the profits of wickedness.

THIS ill economy of fame is sometimes the effect of stupidity. Men whose perceptions are languid and sluggish, who lament nothing but losses, and feel nothing but a blow, are of­ten at a difficulty to guess by what means they have encompassed themselves with enemies, though they lived in total neglect of all those arts by which men are endeared to one ano­ther. They comfort themselves that they have lived irreproachably; that none can charge them with having endangered his life, or diminished his possessions; and therefore conclude that they suffer by some invincible fatality, or impute the malice of their neigh­bours to ignorance or envy. They wrap themselves up in their innocence, and enjoy the congratulations of their own hearts, with­out knowing or suspecting that they are every day deservedly incurring resentments, by withholding from those with whom they con­verse, that regard, or appearance of regard, to which every one is entitled by the customs of the world.

THERE are many injuries, which almost [Page 179] very man feels, though he does not complain and which, upon those whom virtue, ele­gance, or vanity have made delicate and ten­der, fix deep and lasting impressions; as there are many arts of graciousness and conciliation, which are to be practised without expence, and by which those may be made our friends, who have never received from us any real be­nefit. Such arts, when they include neither guilt nor meanness, it is surely reasonable to learn; for who would want that love which is so easily to be gained? And such injuries are to be avoided; for who would be hated without profit?

SOME, indeed, there are, for whom the excuse of ignorance or negligence cannot be alleged, because it is apparent that they are not only careless of pleasing but studious to offend; that they contrive to make all ap­proaches to them difficult and vexatious, and imagine that they aggrandize themselves by wasting the time of others in useless atten­dance, by mortifying them with slights, and teazing them with affronts.

Men of this kind, are generally to be found among those that have not mingled much with [Page 180] the general mass of the community, but spent their lives amidst the obsequiousness of depen­dants, and the flattery of parasites; and have by long consulting only their own inclination, forgotten that others have an equal claim to the same deference.

TYRANNY thus avowed, is indeed an ex­uberance of pride, by which all mankind is so much enraged, that it is never quietly en­dured, except in those who can reward the patience which they exact; and insolence is generally surrounded only by such whose base­ness inclines them to think nothing insupport­able that produces gain, and who can laugh at scurrility and rudeness with a luxurious ta­ble and an open purse.

BUT though all wanton provocations and contemptuous insolence are to be diligently avoided, there is no less danger in timid com­pliance and tame resignation. It is common, for soft and fearful tempers, to give themselve; up implicitly to the direction of the bold, the turbulent, and the overbearing; of those whom they do not believe wiser or better than them­selves; to recede from the best designs where [Page 181] opposition must be encountered, and to fall off from virtue for fear of censure.

SOME firmness and resolution is necessary to the discharge of duty; but it is a very un­happy state of life in which the necessity of such struggles frequently occurs; for no man is defeated without some resentment, which will be continued with obstinacy while he be­lieves himself in the right, and exerted with bitterness if even to his own conviction he is detected in the wrong; and, though no regard were to be had to the consequences of contra­riety and dispute, it must always be painful to a worthy mind to put others in pain, and there will be some danger lest the kindest na­ture may be vitiated by too long a custom of debate and contest.

I KNOW not whether I may not be taxed with insensibility by many of my correspon­dents, who believe their contributions unjust­ly neglected. And indeed when I sit before a pile of papers, of which each is the production of laborious study, and the offspring of a fond parent, I, who know the passions of an au­thor, cannot remember how long they have lain in my boxes unregarded, without imagining [Page 182] to myself the various changes of sorrow, im­patience, and resentment, which the writers must have felt in this tedious interval.

THESE reflexions are still more awakened, when, upon perusal, I find some of them call­ing for a place in the next paper, a place which they have never yet obtained; others writing in a style of superiority and haughti­ness, as secure of deference, and above all fear of criticism; others humbly offering their weak assistance with softness and submission, which they believe impossible to be resisted; some introducing their compositions with a menace of the contempt, which he that re­fuses them will incur; others applying pri­vately to the booksellers for their interest and solicitation; every one by different ways en­deavouring to secure the bliss of publication. I cannot but consider myself, as placed in a very incommodious situation, where I am for­ced to repress confidence, which it is pleasing to indulge, to repay civilities with appearances of neglect, and so frequently to offend those by whom I never was offended.

I KNOW well how rarely an author, fired with the beauties of his new composition, [Page 183] contains his raptures in his own bosom, and how naturally he imparts to his friends his ex­pectations of renown; and as I can easily con­ceive the eagerness with which a new paper is snatched up, by one who expects to [...] it filled with his own production, [...] perhaps has called his companions to [...] pleasure of a second [...], I [...] grieve for the disappointment [...] at the fatal inspection. [...] however do not yet forsake him; he is certain of giving lustre to the next day. The next day comes, and again he [...] with expectation, and having dreamed of [...] and Parnassus, cast his eyes upon the [...] page with which he is doomed never more to be delighted.

FOR such cruelty what atonement can be made? For such calamities what alleviation can be found? I am afraid that the mischief already done must be without reparation, and all that deserves [...] care is prevention for the future. Let therefore the next friendly con­tributor, whoever he be, observe the cautions of Swift, and [...] secretly in his own cham­ber, without communicating his design to his nearest friend, for the nearest friend will be pleased with an opportunity of laughing. [Page 184] Let him carry it to the post himself, and wait in silence for the event. If it is published and praised, he may then declare himself the au­thor; if it be suppressed, he may wonder in private without much vexation; and if it be censured, he may join in the cry, and lament the dulness of the writing generation.

NUMB. 57. TUESDAY, October 2, 1750.

‘Non intelligunt homines quam magnum vecti­gal sit parsimonia.’TULL.



I AM always pleased when I see literature made useful, and scholars descending from that elevation, which, as it raises them above common life, must likewise hinder them from beholding the ways of men otherwise than in a cloud of bustle and confusion. Having lived a life of business, and remarked how seldom any occurrences emerge for which great qualities are required, I have learned the necessity of regarding little things, and though I do not pretend to give laws to the legislators [Page 185] of mankind, or to limit the range of those powerful minds that carry light and heat through all the regions of knowledge, yet I have long thought, that the greatest part of those who lose themselves in studies, by which I have not found that they grow much wiser, might, with more advantage both to the pub­lick and themselves, apply their understandings to domestick arts, and store their minds with axioms of humble prudence, and private eco­nomy.

YOUR late paper on frugality was very ele­gant and pleasing, but, in my opinion, not sufficiently adapted to common readers, who pay little regard to the musick of periods, the artifice of connection, or the arrangement of the flowers of rhetoric; but require a few plain and cogent instructions, which may sink into the mind by their own weight.

FRUGALITY is so necessary to the happi­ness of the world, so beneficial in its various forms to every rank of men, from the highest of human potentates, to the lowest labourer or artificer; and the miseries which the ne­glect of it produces are so numerous and so grievous, that it ought to be recommended [Page 186] with every variation of address, and adapted to every class of understanding.

WHETHER those who treat morals as a sci­ence will allow frugality to be numbered a­mong the virtues, I have not thought it ne­cessary to enquire. For I, who draw my opinions from a careful observation of the world, am satisfied with knowing, what is a­bundantly sufficient for practice, that if it be not a virtue, it is, at least, a quality which can seldom exist without some virtues, and without which few virtues can exist. Fruga­lity may be termed the daughter of prudence, the sister of temperance, and the parent of li­berty. He that is extravagant will quickly become poor, and poverty will enforce depen­dence, and invite corruption; it will almost always produce a passive compliance with the wickedness of others; and there are few who do not learn by degrees to practise those crimes which they cease to censure.

IF there are any who do not dread poverty as dangerous to virtue, yet mankind seem una­nimous enough in abhorring it as destructive to happiness; and all to whom want is ter­rible, upon whatever principle, ought to [Page 187] think themselves obliged to learn the sage maxims of our parsimonious ancestors, and attain the salutary arts of contracting expence; for without frugality none can be rich, and with it very few would be poor.

TO most other acts of virtue or exertions of wisdom, a concurrence of many circum­stances is necessary, some previous knowledge must be attained, some uncommon gifts of na­ture possessed, or some opportunity produced by an extraordinary combination of things; but the mere power of saving what is already in our hands, must be easy of acquisition to every mind; and as the example of Bacon may shew, that the highest intellect cannot safely neglect it, a thousand instances will e­very day prove, that the meanest may prac­tise it with success.

RICHES cannot be within the reach of great numbers, because to be rich is to possess more than is commonly placed in a single hand; and, if many could obtain the sum which now makes a man wealthy, the name of wealth must then be transferred to still greater accu­mulations. But I am not certain that it is equally impossible to exempt the lower classes [Page 188] of mankind from poverty; because, though whatever be the wealth of the community, some will always have least, and he that has less than any other is comparatively poor; yet I do not see any coactive necessity that many should be without the indispensable conveni­encies of life; but am sometimes inclined to imagine, that, casual calamities excepted, there might, by universal prudence, be pro­cured an universal exemption from want; and that he who should happen to have least, might notwithstanding have enough.

BUT without entering too far into specula­tions which I do not remember that any poli­tical calculator has attempted, and in which the most perspicacious reasoner may be easily bewildered, it is certain that they to whom providence has allotted no other care but of their own fortune and their own virtue, which make far the greater part of mankind, have sufficient incitements to personal frugality; since, whatever might be its general effect up­on provinces or nations, by which it is never likely to be tried, it is certain that there is scarcely any individual entering the world, who, by prudent parsimony, may not reasona­bly [Page 189] promise himself a chearful competence in the decline of life.

THE prospect of penury in age is so gloo­my and terrifying, that every man who looks before him must resolve to avoid it; and it must be avoided generally by the science of sparing. For, though in every age there are some, who by bold adventures, or by favour­able accidents rise suddenly to riches, yet it is dangerous to indulge hopes of such rare e­vents: And the bulk of mankind must owe their affluence to finall and gradual profits, be­low which their expence must be resolutely reduced.

YOU must not therefore think me sinking below the dignity of a practical philosopher, when I recommend to the consideration of your readers, from the statesman to the appren­tice, a position replete with mercantile wis­dom, A penny saved is two-pence got; which may, I think, be accommodated to all condi­tions, by observing that not only they who pursue any lucrative employment will save time when they forbear expence, and that the time may be employed to the encrease of pro­sit; but they who are above such minute con­siderations, [Page 190] will find, by every victory over appetite or passion, new strength added to the mind, will gain the power of refusing those soli­citations by which the young and vivacious are hourly assaulted, and in time set themselves above the reach of extravagance and solly.

IT may, perhaps, be enquired by those who are willing rather to cavil than to learn, what is the just measure of frugality? and when ex­pence, not absolutely necessary, degenerates into profusion? To such questions no gene­ral answer can be returned; since the liberty of spending, or necessity of parsimony, may be varied without end by different circum­stances. It may, however, be laid down as a rule never to be broken, that a man's vo­luntary expence should not exceed his revenue. A maxim so obvious and incontrovertible, that the civil law ranks the prodigal with the mad-man, and debars them equally from the con­duct of their own affairs. Another precept arising from the former, and indeed included in it, is yet necessary to be distinctly impres­sed upon the warm, the fanciful, and the brave; Let no man anticipate uncertain profits. Let no man presume to spend upon hopes, to trust upon his own abilities for means of [Page 191] deliverance from penury, to give a loose to his present desires, and leave the reckoning to fortune or to virtue.

TO these cautions which, I suppose, are, at least among the graver part of mankind, un­disputed, I will add another, Let no man squan­der against his inclination. With this precept it may be, perhaps, imagined easy to comply; yet, if those whom profusion has buried in prisons, or driven into banishment, were ex­amined, it would be found that very few were ruined by their own choice, or purchased pleasure with the loss of their estates; but that they suffered themselves to be born away by the violence of those with whom they con­versed, and yielded reluctantly to a thousand prodigalities, either from a trivial emulation of wealth and spirit, or a mean fear of con­tempt and ridicule; an emulation for the prize of folly, or the dread of the laugh of fools.

I am, SIR, Your Humble Servant, SOPHRON.

NUMB. 58. SATURDAY, October 6, 1750.

Crescunt divitiae, tamen
Curtae nescio quid semper abest rei.

AS the love of money has been, in all ages, one of the passions that have gi­ven great disturbance to the tranquillity of the world, there is no topick more copiously treat­ed by the antient moralists than the folly of devoting the heart to the accumulation of riches; they who are acquainted with these au­thors need not be told how riches incite pity, contempt, or reproach, whenever they are mentioned; with what numbers of examples the danger of large possessions is illustrated; and how all the powers of reason and elo­quence have been exhausted in a fruitless en­deavour to eradicate a desire, which seems to have intrenched itself too strongly in the mind to be driven out by argument or ridicule, and which, perhaps, had not lost its power, even over those who declaimed most vehemently against it, but would have broken out in the poet or the sage, if it had been excited by op­portunity, [Page 193] and invigorated by the approxima­tion of its proper object.

THEIR arguments have been, indeed, so unsuccessful, that I know not whether it can be shown, that by all the wit and reason which this favourite cause has called forth, a single convert was ever made; that even one man has refused to be rich, when to be rich was in his power, from the conviction of the greater happiness of a narrow fortune; or disburthened himself of wealth, when he had tried its inquietudes, merely to enjoy the peace, and leisure, and security, of a mean and unenvied state.

IT is true, indeed, that many have neglect­ed opportunities of raising themselves to ho­nours and to wealth, and rejected the kind­est offers of fortune: but, however their mo­deration may be boasted by themselves, or ad­mired by such as only view them at a distance, it will be, perhaps, seldom found that they value riches less, but that they dread labour, or danger, more than others; they are unable to rouse themselves to action, to strain in the race of competition, or to stand the shock of contest; but though they, therefore, decline [Page 194] the toil of climbing, they, nevertheless, wish themselves aloft, and would willingly enjoy what they dare not seize.

OTHERS have retired from high stations, and voluntarily condemned themselves to pri­vacy and obscurity; but, even these will not afford many occasions of triumph to the phi­losopher; for they have commonly either quit­ted that only which they thought themselves unable to hold, and prevented disgrace by re­signation; or they have been induced to try new measures by general inconstancy, which always dreams of happiness in novelty, or by a gloomy disposition, which is disgusted in the same degree with every state, and wishes every scene of life to change as soon as it is beheld; such men found high and low stations equal­ly unable to satisfy the wishes of a distem­pered mind, and were unable to shelter them­selves in the closest retreat from disappoint­ment, solicitude, and misery.

Yet though these admonitions have been thus neglected by those, who either enjoyed riches, or were able to procure them, it is not rashly to be determined that they are alto­gether without use; for since far the greatest [Page 195] part of mankind must be confined to conditi­ons comparatively mean, and placed in situa­tions, from which they naturally look up with envy to the eminences before them, those writers cannot be thought ill employed that have administered remedies to discontent al­most universal, by showing, that what we cannot reach may very well be forborn, that the inequality of distribution, at which we murmur, is for the most part less than it seems, and that the greatness, which we admire at a distance, has much fewer advantages, and much less splendor, when we are suffered to approach it.

IT is the business of moralists to detect the frauds of fortune, and to show that she im­poses upon the careless eye, by a quick suc­cession of shadows, which will shrink to no­thing in the gripe; that she disguises life in extrinsick ornaments, which can be of use only for show, and are laid aside in the hours of solitude, and of pleasure; and that when greatness aspires either to felicity or to wis­dom, it shakes off, as vain or cumbrous, the chief part of those distinctions which are of use to dazzle the gazer, and to awe the sup­plicant.

[Page 196] IT may be remarked, that they whose con­dition has not afforded them the light of mo­ral or religious instruction, and who collect all their ideas by their own eyes, and digest them by their own understandings, seem to consider those who are placed in ranks of re­mote superiority, as almost another and high­er species of beings; and as themselves have known little other misery than the consequences of want, they are with difficulty persuaded that where there is wealth there can be sorrow, or that those who glitter in dignity, and glide along in affluence, can be acquainted with pains and cares like those which lie heavy up­on the rest of mankind.

THIS prejudice is, indeed, confined to the lowest meanness, and the darkest ignorance; but it is so confined only because others have been shown its folly, and its falsehood, be­cause it has been opposed in its progress by history and philosophy, and hindered from spreading its infection by powerful preser­vatives.

THE doctrine of the contempt of wealth though it has not been wholly able to extin­guish [Page 197] avarice or ambition, has certainly made them less importunate and over-bearing; and though it has not wholly suppressed that reluctance with which a man passes his days in a state of inferiority, it must, at least, have made the lower conditions less grating and wearisome, and has consequently contributed to the general security of life, by hindering a great part of that fraud and violence, rapine and circumvention, which must have been produced by an unbounded eagerness of wealth, arising from an unshaken conviction that to be rich is to be happy.

WHOEVER finds himself incited, by some violent impulse of passion, to pursue riches as the chief end of being, must, surely, be so much alarmed by the successive admonitions of those, whose experience and sagacity have recommended them as the guides of mankind, as to stop and consider whether he is about to engage in an undertaking that will reward his toil, and to examine before he rushes to wealth, through right and wrong, what it will confer when he has acquired it; and this ex­amination will seldom fail to repress his ar­dor, and retard his violence.

[Page 198] WEALTH is nothing in itself, it is not use­ful but when it departs from us, its value is found only in that which it can purchase, which, if we suppose it put to its best use by those that possess it, seems not much to deserve the desire or envy of a wise man. It is certain that, with regard to corporal enjoy­ment, money can neither open new avenues to pleasure, nor block up the passages of an­guish. Disease and infirmity still continue to torture and enfeeble, perhaps exasperated by luxury, or promoted by softness. With re­spect to the mind, it has rarely been observed, that wealth contributes much to quicken the discernment, enlarge the capacity, or elevate the imagination; but may, by hiring flattery, or laying diligence asleep, confirm error, and harden stupidity.

WEALTH cannot confer greatness, for no­nothing can make that great, which the de­cree of nature has ordained to be little. The bramble may be placed in a hot-bed, but can never become an oak. Even royalty itself is not able to give that dignity which it happens not to find, but oppresses feeble minds, though it may elevate the strong. The world has [Page 199] been governed in the name of kings, whose existence has scarcely been perceived by any real effects beyond their own palaces.

WHEN therefore the desire of wealth takes hold of the mind, let us look round and see how it operates upon those whose industry, or fortune, has obtained it. When we find them oppressed with their own abundance, luxurious without pleasure, idle without ease, impatient and querulous in themselves, and despised, or hated, by the rest of mankind, we shall soon be convinced that if the real wants of our condition are satisfied, there re­mains little to be sought with solicitude, or desired with eagerness.

NUMB. 59. TUESDAY, Oct. 9, 1750.

Est aliquid fatale malum per verba levare,
Hoc querulam Halcyonenque Prognen facit:
Hoc erat in solo quare Paeantias antro
Vox fatigaret Lemnia saxa sua.
Strangulat inclusus dolor atque exaestuat intus,
Cogitur et vires multiplicare suas.

IT is common to distinguish men by the names of animals which they are suppo­sed to resemble. Thus a hero is frequently termed a lion, and a statesman a fox, an ex­tortioner gains the appellation of vultur, and a fop the title of monkey. There is also a­mong the various anomalies of character, which a survey of the world exhibits, a spe­cies of beings in human form, which may be properly marked out as the screech-owls of mankind.

THESE screech-owls seem to be settled in an opinion that the great business of life is to complain, and that they were born for no o­ther purpose than to disturb the happiness of others, to lessen the little comforts, and shor­ten [Page 201] the short pleasures of our condition, by painful remembrances of the past, or melan­choly prognosticks of the future; their only care is to crush the rising hope, to damp the kindling transport, and allay the golden hours of gayety with the hateful dross of grief and suspicion.

TO those, whose weakness of spirits, or ti­midity of temper, subjects them to impressions from others, and who are apt to suffer by fas­cination, and catch the contagion of misery, it is extremely unhappy to live within the compass of a screech-owl's voice; for it will often fill their ears in the hour of dejection, terrify them with apprehensions, which their own thoughts would never have produced, and sadden, by intruded sorrows, the day which might have been passed in amusements, or in business; it will fill the heart with unne­cessary discontents, and weaken for a time that love of life which is necessary to the vigo­rous prosecution of any undertaking.

THOUGH I have, like the rest of mankind, many failings and weaknesses, I have never yet, by either friends or enemies, been charg­ed with superstition; I never count the com­pany [Page 202] which I enter, and I look at the new moon indifferently over either shoulder. I have, like most other philosophers, often heard the cuckoo without money in my pocket, and have been sometimes reproached as fool-hardy, for not turning down my eyes when a raven flew over my head. I never go home abruptly because a snake crosses my way, nor have any particular dread of a cli­macterical year; yet I confess that, with all my scorn of old women, and their tales, I consider it as an unhappy day when I happen to be greeted, in the morning, by Suspirius the screech owl.

I HAVE now known Suspirius fifty eight years and four months, and have never yet passed an hour with him in which he has not made some attack upon my quiet. When we were first acquainted, his great topick was the misery of youth without riches, and when­ever we walked out together he solaced me with a long enumeration of pleasures, which, as they were beyond the reach of my fortune, were without the verge of my desires, and which I should never have considered as the objects of a wish, had not his unseasonable representations placed them in my sight.

[Page 203] ANOTHER of his topicks is the neglect of merit, with which he never fails to amuse every man whom he sees not eminently for­tunate. If he meets with a young officer, he always, informs him of gentlemen whose per­sonal courage is unquestioned, and whose mi­litary skill qualifies them to command armies, that have, notwithstanding all their merit, grown old with subaltern commissions. For a genius in the church, he is always provided with a curacy for life. The lawyer he in­forms of many men of great parts and deep study, who have never had an opportunity to speak in the courts: And meeting Serenus the physician, "Ah doctor, says he, what a-foot still, when so many blockheads are rattling their chariots? I told you seven years ago that you would never meet with encouragement, and I hope you will now take more notice, when I tell you, that your Greek, and your diligence, and your honesty, will never enable you to live like yonder apothecary, who prescribes to his own shop, and laughs at the physician."

SUSPIRIUS has, in his time, intercepted fif­teen authors in their way to the stage; per­suaded [Page 204] nine and thirty merchants to retire from a prosperous trade for fear of bankrupcy, broke off an hundred and thirteen matches by prognostications of unhappiness, and ena­bled the small-pox to kill nineteen ladies, by perpetual alarms of the loss of beauty.

WHENEVER my evil stars bring us toge­ther, he never fails to represent to me the folly of my persuits, and informs me that we are much older than when we began our acquain­tance, that the infirmities of decrepitude are coming fast upon me, that whatever I now get I shall enjoy but a little time, that fame is to a man tottering on the edge of the grave of very little importance, and that the time is now at hand when I ought to look for no other pleasures than a good dinner and an ea­sy chair.

THUS he goes on in his unharmonious strain, displaying present miseries, and fore­boding more, [...], every syllable is loaded with misfortune, and death is always brought nearer to the view. Yet, what always raises my resentment and in­dignation, I do not perceive that his mournful meditations have much effect upon himself. [Page 205] He talks, and has long talked of calamities, without discovering, otherwise than by the tone of his voice, that he feels any of the evils which he bewails or threatens, but has the same habit of uttering lamentations, as others of telling stories, and falls into ex­pressions of condolence for past, or apprehen­sion of future mischiefs, as all men studious of their ease have recourse to those subjects upon which they can most fluently or copiously dis­course.

IT is reported of the Sybarites, that they destroyed all their cocks, that they might dream out their morning dreams without dis­turbance. Though I would not so far pro­mote effeminacy as to propose the Sybarites for an example, yet since there is no man so corrupt or foolish, but something useful may be learned from him, I could wish that, in imitation of a people not often to be copied, some regulations might be made to exclude screech-owls from all company as the enemies of mankind, and confine them to some proper receptacle, where they may mingle sighs at leisure, and thicken the gloom of one another.

Thou prophet of evil, says Homer's Agamem­non, [Page 206] thou never foretellest me good, but the joy of thy heart is to predict misfortunes. Whoever is of the same temper might there find the means of indulging his thoughts, and impro­ving his vein of denunciation, and the flock of screech-owls might hoot together without injury to the rest of the world.

YET, though I have so little kindness for this dark generation, I am very far from in­tending to debar the soft and tender mind from the privilege of complaining, when the sigh rises from the desire not of giving pain, but of gaining ease. To hear complaints with pa­tience, even when complaints are vain, is one of the duties of friendship; and though it must be allowed that he suffers most like a hero that hides his grief in silence, ‘Spem vultu simulat, promit altum corde do­lorem,’ yet, it cannot be denied that he who com­plains acts like a man, like a social being who looks for help from his fellow-creatures. Pity is to many of the unhappy a source of com­fort in hopeless distresses, as it contributes to recommend them to themselves, by proving that they have not lost the regard of others; and heaven seems to indicate the duty even of [Page 207] barren compassion, by inclining us to weep for evils which we cannot remedy.

NUMB. 60. SATURDAY, Oct. 13, 1750.

—Quid sit pulchrum, quid turpe, quid utile, quid non,
Plenius et melius Chrysippo et Crantore dicit.

ALL joy or sorrow for the happiness or calamities of others is produced by an act of the imagination, that realises the event however fictitious, or approximates it however remote, by placing us, for a time, in the con­dition of him whose fortune we contemplate; so that we feel, while the deception lasts' whatever motions would be excited by the same good or evil happening to ourselves.

OUR passions are therefore more strongly moved, in proportion as we can more readily adopt the pains or pleasure proposed to our minds, by recognising them as once our own, or considering them as naturally incident to our state of life. It is not easy for the most [Page 208] artful writer to give us an interest in happi­ness or misery, which we think ourselves ne­ver likely to feel, and with which we have never yet been made acquainted. Histories of the downfall of kingdoms, and revolutions of empires are read with great tranquilly; it the imperial tragedy pleases common audi­tors only by its pomp of ornament, and gran­deur of ideas; and the man whose faculties have been engrossed by business, and whose heart never fluttered but at the rise or fall of stocks, wonders how the attention can be seized, or the affection agitated by a tale of love.

THOSE parallel circumstances, and kindred images, to which we readily conform our minds, are, above all other writings, to be found in narratives of the lives of particular persons; and therefore no species of writing seems more worthy of cultivation than bio­graphy, since none can be more delightful or more useful, none can more certainly enchain the heart by irresistible interest, or more wide­ly diffuse instruction to every diversity of con­dition.

THE general and rapid narratives of histo­ry, [Page 209] which involve a thousand fortunes in the business of a day, and complicate innumerable incidents in one great transaction, afford few lessons applicable to private life, which derives its comforts and its wretchedness from the right or wrong management of things which nothing but their frequency makes consider­able, Parva si non fiant quotidie, says Pliny, and which can have no place in those relations which never descend below the consultation of senates, the motions of armies, and the schemes of conspirators.

I HAVE often thought that there has rarely passed a life of which a judicious and faithful narrative would not be useful. For, not only every man has, in the mighty mass of the world, great numbers in the same condition with himself, to whom his mistakes and mis­carriages, escapes and expedients, would be of immediate and apparent use; but there is such an uniformity in the state of man, if it be con­sidered apart from adventitious and separable decorations and disguises, that there is scarce any possibility of good or ill, but is common to humankind. A great part of the time of those who are placed at the greatest distance by fortune, or by temper, must unavoidably [Page 210] pass in the same manner; and though, when the claims of nature are satisfied, caprice, and vanity, and accident, begin to produce dis­criminations and peculiarities, yet the eye is not very heedful, or quick, which cannot dis­cover the same causes still terminating their influence in the same effects, though some­times accelerated, sometimes retarded, or per­plexed by multiplied combinations. We are all prompted by the same motives, all deceived by the same fallacies, all animated by hope, obstructed by danger, entangled by desire, and seduced by pleasure.

IT is frequently objected to relations of particular lives, that they are not distinguished by any striking or wonderful vicissitudes. The scholar who passes his life among his books, the merchant who conducted only his own affairs, the priest whose sphere of action was not extended beyond that of his duty, are considered as no proper objects of publick re­gard, however they might have excelled in their several stations, whatever might have been their learning, integrity, and piety. But this notion arises from false measures of excel­lence and dignity, and must be eradicated by considering, that, in the esteem of uncorrupt­ed [Page 211] reason, what is of most use is of most va­lue.

IT is, indeed, not improper to take honest advantages of prejudice, and to gain attenti­on by a celebrated name; but the business of the biographer is often to pass slightly over those performances and incidents, which pro­duce vulgar greatness, to lead the thoughts into domestick privacies, and display the mi­nute details of daily life, where exterior appen­dages are cast aside, and men excel each other only by prudence and by virtue. The ac­count of Thuanus is, with great propriety, said by its author to have been written, that it might lay open to posterity the private and familiar character of that man, cujus ingenium et candorem ex ipsius scriptis sunt olim semper miraturi, whose candour and genius will to the end of time be by his writings preserved in admiration.

THERE are many invisible circumstances which, whether we read as enquiries after na­tural or moral knowledge, whether we intend to enlarge our science, or increase our virtue, are more important than publick occurrences. Thus Salust, the great master, has not forgot, [Page 212] in his account of Catiline, to remark that his walk was now quick, and again slow, as indi­cations of a mind revolving something with violent commotion. Thus the story of Melanc­thon affords a striking lecture on the value of time, by informing us that when he made an appointment, he expected not only the hour, but the minute to be fixed, that the day might not run out in the idleness of suspense; and all the plans and enterprizes of De Wit are now of less importance to the world, than that part of his personal character which represents him as careful of his health, and negligent of his life.

BUT biography has often been allotted to writers who seem very little acquainted with the nature of their task, or very negligent a­bout the performance. They rarely afford a­ny other account than might be collected from publick papers, but imagine themselves wri­ting a life when they exhibit a chronological series of actions or preferments, and so little regard the manners or behaviour of their he­roes, that more knowledge may be gained of a man's real character, by a short conversation with one of his servants, than from a formal [Page 213] and studied narrative, begun with his pedi­gree, and ended with his funeral.

IF now and then they condescend to inform the world of particular facts, they are not al­ways so happy as to select those which are most important. I know not well what advantage posterity can receive from the only circum­stance by which Tickell has distinguished Ad­dison from the rest of mankind, the irregula­rity of his pulse: nor can I think myself o­verpaid for the time spent in reading the life of Malherb, by being enabled to relate, after the learned biographer, that Malherb had two predominant opinions; one, that the loose­ness of a single woman might destroy all her boast of ancient descent; the other, that the French beggars made use very improperly and barbarously of the phrase noble Gentlemen, be­cause either word included the sense of both.

THERE are, indeed, some natural reasons why these narratives are often written by such as were not likely to give much instruction or delight, and why most accounts of particular persons are barren and useless. If a life be de­layed till interest and envy are at an end, and all motives to calumny or flattery are suppres­sed, [Page 214] we may hope for impartiality, but must ex­pect little intelligence; for the incidents which give excellence to biography are of a volatile and evanescent kind, such as soon escape the memory, and are rarely transmitted by traditi­on. We know how few can portray a living acquaintance, except by his most prominent and observable particularities, and the grosser features of his mind; and it may be easily imagined how much of this little knowledge may be lost in imparting it, and how soon a succession of copies will lose all resemblance of the original.

IF the biographer writes from personal knowledge, and makes haste to gratify the publick curiosity, there is danger lest his in­terest, his fear, his gratitude, or his tender­ness, overpower his fidelity, and tempt him to conceal, if not to invent. There are many who think it an act of piety to hide the faults or sailings of their friends, even when they can no longer suffer by their detection; we therefore see whole ranks of characters adorn­ed with uniform panegyrick, and not to be known from one another, but by extrinsick and casual circumstances. "Let me remem­ber, says Hale, when I find myself incli­ned [Page 215] to pity a criminal, that there is like­wise a pity due to the country." If there is a regard due to the memory of the dead, there is yet more respect to be paid to know­ledge, to virtue, and to truth.

NUMB. 61. TUESDAY, Oct. 16. 1750.

Falsus honor juvat, et mendax infamia terret
Quem nisi mendosum et mendacem?



IT is extremely vexatious to a man of eager and thirsty curiosity to be placed at a great distance from the fountain of intelligence, and not only never to receive the current of report till it has satiated the greatest part of the nation, but at last to find it mudded in its course, and corrupted with some taints or mixtures from every channel through which it slowed.

ONE of the chief pleasures of my life is to hear what passes in the world, to know what [Page 216] are the schemes of the politick, the aims of the busy, and the hopes of the ambitious; what changes of publick measures are ap­proaching; who is likely to be crushed in the collision of parties; who is climbing to the top of power, and who is tottering on the preci­pice of disgrace. But as it is very common for us to desire most what we are least qualifi­ed to obtain, I have suffered this appetite of news to outgrow all the gratifications which my present situation can afford it; for being placed in a remote country, I am condemned always to confound the future with the past, to form prognostications of events no longer doubtful, and to consider the expediency of schemes already executed or defeated. I am perplexed with a perpetual deception in my prospects, like a man pointing his telescope at a remote star, which before the light reaches his eye has forsaken the place from which it was emitted.

THE mortification of being thus always be­hind the active world in my reflexions and dis­coveries, is exceedingly aggravated by the pe­tulance of those whose health, or business, or pleasure brings them hither from London. [Page 217] For, without considering the insuperable dis­advantages of my condition, and the unavoid­able ignorance which absence must produce, they often treat me with the utmost supercili­ousness of contempt, for not knowing what no human sagacity can discover; and some­times seem to consider me as a wretch scarce­ly worthy of human converse, when I happen to talk of the fortune of a bankrupt, or pro­pose the healths of the dead, when I warn them of mischiefs already incurred, or wish for measures that have been lately taken. They seem to attribute to the superiority of their intellects what they only owe to the ac­cident of their condition, and think them­selves indisputably entitled to airs of insolence and authority, when they find another igno­rant of facts, which because they echoed in the streets of London, they suppose equally publick in all other places, and known where they could neither be seen, related, nor con­jectured.

TO this haughtiness they are, indeed, too much encouraged by the respect which they receive amongst us, for no other reason than that they come from London. For no sooner is the arrival of one of these disseminators of [Page 218] knowledge known in the country, than we croud about him from every quarter, and by innumerable enquiries flatter him into an opi­nion of his own importance. He sees him­self surrounded by multitudes, who propose their doubts, and refer their controversies to him, as to a being descended from some nobler region, and he grows on a sudden oraculous and infallible, solves all difficulties, and sets all objections at defiance.

THERE is, in my opinion, great reason for suspecting, that they sometimes take advan­tage of this reverential modesty, and impose upon rustick understandings with a false show of universal intelligence; for I do not find that they are willing to own themselves igno­rant of any thing, or that they dismiss any enquirer with a positive and decisive answer. The court, the city, the park, and exchange, are to those men of unbounded observation equally familiar, and they are alike ready to tell the hour at which stocks will rise, or the ministry be changed.

A SHORT residence at London entitles a man to knowledge, to wit, to politeness, and to a despotick and dictatorial power of pre­scribing [Page 219] to the rude multitude, whom he con­descends to honour with a biennial visit; yet, I know not well upon what motives I have lately found myself inclined to cavil at this prescription, and to doubt whether it be not, on some occasions, proper to withold our ve­neration, till we are more authentically con­vinced of the merits of the claimant.

IT is well remember'd here, that, about seven years ago, one Frolick, a tall boy, with lank hair, remarkable for stealing eggs, and sucking them, was taken from the school in this parish, and sent up to London to study the law. As he had given amongst us no proofs of a genius, designed by nature for extraor­dinary performances, he was, from the time of his departure totally forgotten, nor was there any talk of his vices or virtues, his good or his ill fortune, till last summer a report burst upon us, that Mr Frolick was come down in the first post-chaise which this village had seen, having travelled with such rapidity that one of his postilions had broke his leg, and another narrowly escaped suffocation in a quicksand. But that Mr Frolick seemed totally unconcerned, for such things were ne­ver heeded at London.

[Page 220] Mr FROLICK next day appeared among the gentlemen at their weekly meeting on the bowling-green, and now were seen the effects of a London education. His dress, his lan­guage, his ideas, were all new, and he did not much endeavour to conceal his contempt of every thing that differed from the opinions, or practice, of the modish world. He shew­ed us the deformity of our skirts and sleeves, informed us where hats of the proper size were to be sold, and recommended to us the reformation of a thousand absurdities in our cloaths, our cookery, and our conversation. When any of his phrases were unintelligible, he could not suppress the joy of confessed su­periority, but frequently delayed the explana­tion that he might enjoy his triumph over our barbarity.

WHEN he is pleased to entertain us with a story, he takes care to croud into it names of streets, squares and buildings, with which he knows we are unacquainted. The favourite topicks of his discourse are the pranks of runkards, and the tricks put upon country gentlemen by porters and link-boys. When he is with ladies he tells them of the innumer­able [Page 221] pleasures to which he can introduce them; but never fails to hint, how much they will be deficient, at their first arrival, in the know­ledge of the town. What it is to know the town he has not indeed hitherto informed us, tho' there is no phrase so frequent in his mouth, nor any science which he appears to think of so great value, or so difficult attainment.

BUT my curiosity has been most engaged by the recital of his own adventures and atchieve­ments. I have heard of the union of various characters in single persons, but never met with such a constellation of great qualities as this man's narrative affords. Whatever has distinguished the hero; whatever has elevated the wit; whatever has indeared the lover, are all concentered in Mr Frolick, whose life has, for seven years, been a regular inter­change of intrigues, dangers, and waggeries, and who has distinguished himself in every cha­racter that can be feared, envied, or admired.

I QUESTION whether all the officers of the royal navy can bring together, from all their journals, a collection of so many wonderful escapes as this man has known upon the Thames, on which he has been a thousand [Page 222] and a thousand times on the point of perishing, sometimes by the terrors of foolish women in the same boat, sometimes by his own ac­knowledged imprudence in passing the river in the dark, and sometimes by shooting the bridge, under which he has rencountered mountainous waves, and dreadful cataracts.

NOR less has been his temerity by land, nor fewer his hazards. He has reeled with giddi­ness on the top of the monument; he has cros­sed the street amidst the rush of coaches; he has been surrounded by robbers with out num­ber; he has headed parties at the play-house, he has scaled the windows of every toast of whatever condition; he has been hunted for whole winters by his rivals; he has slept upon bulk,, he has cut chairs, he has bilked coach­men; he has rescued his friends from the bai­liffs, has knocked down the constable, has bul­lied the justice, and performed many other exploits, that have filled the town with won­der and with merriment.

BUT yet greater is the fame of his under­standing than his bravery; for he informs us, that he is, at London, the established arbitra­tor of all points of honour, and the decisive [Page 223] judge of all performance of genius; that no musical performer is in reputation till the opi­nion of Frolick has ratified his pretensions; that the theatres suspend their sentence till he begins the clap or hiss, in which all are proud to concur; that no publick entertainment has failed or succeeded, but because he opposed or favoured it; that all controversies at the gam­ing-table are referred to his determination; that he adjusts the ceremonial at every assem­bly, and prescribes every fashion of pleasure or of dress.

WITH every man whose name occurs in the papers of the day, he is intimately ac­quainted; and there are very few posts, either in the state or army, of which he has not more or less influenced the disposal. He has been very frequently consulted both upon war and peace; but the time is not yet come when the nation shall know how much it is indebted to the genius of Frolick.

YET, notwithstanding all these declarati­ons, I cannot hitherto persuade myself to see that Mr Frolick has more wit, or knowledge, or courage, than the rest of mankind, or that any uncommon enlargement of his faculties [Page 224] has happened in the time of his absence. For when he talks on subjects known to the rest of the company, he has no advantage over us, but by catches of interruption, briskness of interrogation, and pertness of contempt; and therefore if he has stunned the world with his name, and gained a place in the first ranks of humanity, I cannot but conclude, that ei­ther a little understanding confers eminence at London, or that Mr Frolick thinks us un­worthy of the exertion of his powers, or that his faculties are benumbed by rural stupidity, as the magnetick needle loses its animation in the polar climes.

I WOULD not, however, like many hasty philosophers, search after the cause till I am certain of the effect; and, therefore, I desire to be informed, whether you have yet heard the great name of Mr Frolick. If he is cele­brated by other tongues than his own, I shall willingly propagate his praise; but if he has swelled among us with empty boasts, and honours conferred only by himself, I shall treat him with rustick sincerity, and drive him as an impostor from this part of the kingdom to some region of more credulity.

I am, &c. RURICOLA.

NUMB. 62. SATURDAY, Oct. 20, 1750.

Nunc ego Triptolemi cuperom conscendere currus,
Misit in ignotam qui rude semen humum:
Nunc ego Medeae vellem fraenare dracones,
Quos habuit sugiens arva, Corinthe, tua;
Nunc ego jactandas optarem sumere pennas,
Sive tuas, Perseu; Daedale, sive tuas.



I AM a young woman of a very large for­tune, which, if my parents would have been persuaded to comply with the rules and customs of the polite part of mankind, might long since have raised me to the highest ho­nours of the female world; but so strangely have they hitherto contrived to waste my life, that I am now on the borders of twenty, without having ever danced but at our month­ly assembly, or been toasted but among a few gentlemen of the neighbourhood, or seen any company in which it was worth a wish to be distinguished.

[Page 226] MY father having impaired his patrimony in soliciting a place at court, at last grew wise enough to cease his persuit, and, to re­pair the consequences of expensive attendance and negligence of his affairs, married a lady much older than himself, who had lived in the fashionable world till she was considered as an encumbrance upon parties of pleasure, and, as I can collect from incidental informa­tions, retired from gay assemblies just time enough to escape the mortification of univer­sal neglect.

SHE was, however, still rich, and not yet wrinkled; my father was too distresfully em­barrassed by the difficulty of his circumstances to think much on any thing but the means of extrication, and though it is not likely that he wanted the delicacy which polite conversation will always produce in understandings not re­markably defective, yet he was contented with a match, by which he might be set free from inconveniencies, that would have destroyed all the pleasures of imagination, and taken from softness and beauty the power of delighting.

[Page 227] AS they were both somewhat disgusted with their treatment in the world, and mar­ried, though without any dislike of each o­ther, yet principally for the sake of setting themselves free from dependance on caprice or fashion, they soon retired into the country, and devoted their lives to rural business and diversions.

THEY had, indeed, not much reason to regret the change of their situation; for their vanity, which had so long been tormented by neglect and disappointment, was here gratifi­ed with every honour that could with proprie­ty be paid them. Their long familiarity with publick life made them the oracles of all those who aspired to intelligence, or politeness. My father dictated politicks, my mother pre­scribed the mode, and it was sufficient to enti­tle any family to some consideration, that they were known to visit at Mrs Courtly's.

IN this state they were, to speak in the style of novellists, made happy by the stile of novel­lists, made happy by the birth of your corre­spondent. My parents had no other child, I was therefore not brow-beaten by a [...]cy bro­ther, or lost in a multitude of coheiresses, [Page 228] whose fortunes being equal would probably have conferred equal merit, and procured equal regard; and as my mother was now too old to dread a rival in her daughter, my under­standing, and my person, had fair play, my enquiries were not check'd, my advances to­wards importance were not repressed, and I was soon suffered to tell my own opinions, and early accustomed to hear my own praises.

BY these accidental advantages I was so much exalted above the young ladies with whom I conversed, and was treated by them with so much deference, that I had all the gratifi­cations which pride can demand. I saw none who did not seem to confess my superiority, and to be held in awe by the splendour of my appearance; for the fondness of my father made himself pleased to see me dressed, and my mother had no vanity nor expences to hin­der her from concurring with his inclinations.

THUS, Mr Rambler, I lived without much desire after any thing beyond the circle of our visits; and here I should have quietly continu­ed to portion out my time among my books, and my needle, and my company, had not my curiosity been every moment excited by [Page 229] the conversation of my parents, who whenever they sit down to familiar prattle, and endea­vour the entertainment of each other, imme­diately transport themselves to London, and relate some adventure in a hackney coach, some frolick at a masquerade, some conversati­on in the park, or some quarrel at an assem­bly, display the magnificence of a birth-night, relate the conquests of maids of honour, or give a history of diversions, shows, and enter­tainments, which I had never known but from their accounts.

I AM so well versed in the history of the gay world, that I can relate, with great punctu­ality, the lives of all the last race of wits and beauties; can enumerate, with exact chrono­logy, the whole succession of celebrated sing­ers, musicians, tragedians, comedians, and harlequins; can tell to the last twenty years all the changes of fashions; and am, indeed, a complete antiquary with respect to hea-ddres­ses, dances, and operas.

YOU will easily imagine, Mr Rambler, that I could not hear these narratives, for sixteen years together, without suffering some impres­sion, and wishing myself nearer to those scenes [Page 230] of perpetual novelty, to places where every hour brings some new pleasure, and life is diversified with an unexhausted succession of felicity.

I INDEED often asked my mother why she left a place which she recollected with so much delight, and why she did not visit Lon­don once a year, like some other ladies, and initiate me in the world by showing me it amusements, its grandeur, and its variety. But she always told me that the days which she had seen were such as will never come again, that all diversion is now degenerated, that the conversation of the present age is in­sipid, that their fashions are unbecoming, their customs absurd, and their morals corrupt; that there is no ray left of the genius which enlightened the times that she remembers; that no one who had seen, or heard, the ancient performers, would be able to bear the bunglers of this despicable age, and that there is now neither politeness, nor plea­sure, nor virtue, in the world. She therefore assures me that she consults my happiness by keeping me at home, for I should now find nothing but vexation and disgust, and she [Page 231] should be ashamed to see me pleased with such fopperies and trifles, as take up the thoughts of the present set of young people.

WITH this answer I was kept quiet for several years, and thought it no great incon­venience to be confined to the country, till last summer a young gentleman and his sister came down to pass a few months with one of our neighbours. They had generally no great re­gard for the country ladies, but distinguished me by particular complaisance, and, as we grew intimate, gave me such a detail of the elegance, the splendour, the mirth, the hap­piness of the town, that I am resolved to be no longer buried in ignorance and obscurity, but to share with other wits the joy of being admired, and divide with other beauties the empire of the world.

I DO not find, Mr Rambler, upon a delibe­rate and impartial comparison, that I am excel­led by Belinda in beauty, in wit, in judge­ment, in knowledge, or in any thing, but a kind of gay, lively familiarity, by which she mingles with strangers as with persons long acquainted, and which enables her to display her powers without any obstruction, hesitati­on, [Page 232] or confusion. Yet she can relate a thou­sand civilities paid to her in publick, can pro­duce, from a hundred lovers, letters filled with praises, protestations, extasies and de­spair; has been handed by dukes to her chair; has been the occasion of innumerable quarrels; has paid twenty visits in an afternoon; been invited to sixballs in an evening, and been for­ced to retire to lodgings in the country from the importunity of courtship, and the fatigue of pleasure.

I TELL you, Mr Rambler, I will stay here no longer. I have at last prevailed upon my mother to send me to town, and shall set out in three weeks on the grand expedition. I in­tend to live in publick, and to croud into the winter every pleasure which money can pur­chase, and every honour which beauty can obtain.

BUT this tedious interval how shall I en­dure? Cannot you alleviate the misery of delay by some pleasing description of the entertain­ments of the town? I can read, I can talk, I can think of nothing else; and if you will not sooth my impatience, heighten my ideas, and animate my hopes, you may write for those [Page 233] who have more leisure, but are not to expect any longer the honour of being read by those eyes which are now intent only on conquest and destruction.


NUMB. 63. TUESDAY, October 22, 1750.

—Habebat saepe ducentos,
Saepe decem servos; modo reges atque tetrarchas,
Omnia magna loquens: modo, sit mihi mensa tripes, et
Concha falis puri, et toga, quae defendere frigus,
Quamvis crassa, queat.

IT has been remarked, perhaps, by every writer, who has lest behind him observa­tions upon life, that no man is pleased with his present state, which proves equally unsatis­factory, says Horace, whether fallen upon by chance, or chosen with deliberation; we are always disgusted with some circumstance or other of our situation, and imagine the condition of others more abundant in blessings, or less exposed to calamities.

[Page 234] THIS universal discontent has been generally mentioned with great severity of censure, as unreasonable in itself, since of two, equally envious of each other, both cannot have the larger share of happiness, and as tending to darken life with unnatural and unnecessary gloom, by withdrawing our minds from the contemplation and enjoyment of that happi­ness which our state affords us, and fixing our attention upon foreign objects, which we only behold to depress ourselves, and in­crease our misery by injurious comparisons.

WHEN this opinion of the happiness of others predominates in the heart, so as to ex­cite resolutions of obtaining, at whatever price, the condition to which such transcendent pri­vileges are supposed to be annexed; when it bursts into action and produces fraud, violence, and injustice, it is, without doubt, to be persued wiih all the rigour of legal punish­ments. But while it only operates upon the thoughts, and disturbs none but him who has happened to admit it, and, however it may interrupt content, makes no attack on piety or virtue, I cannot think it so far criminal [Page 235] or ridiculous, but that it may deserve some pity, and admit some excuse.

THAT all are equally happy, or miserable I suppose none is sufficiently enthusiastical to maintain; because, though, as it has been often objected, we cannot judge of the con­dition of others, yet every man has found frequent vicissitudes in his own state, and must therefore be convinced that life is susceptible of more or less felicity. What then shall forbid us to endeavour the alteration of that which we find capable of being improved, and to grasp at augmentations of good, when we know it possible to be increased, and believe that any particular change of situation will increase it?

IF he that finds himself uneasy may rea­sonably make efforts to rid himself from vex­ation, all mankind have a sufficient plea for some degree of restlessness, and the fault seems to be little more than too much temerity of conclusion, in favour of something not yet experienced, and too much readiness to believe' that the misery which our own passions and appetites produce, is brought upon us by ac­cidental causes, and external efficients.

[Page 236] IT is, indeed, frequently discovered by us, that we have complained too hastily of peculiar hardships, and have imagined ourselves distinguished by embarrassments, with which other classes of men are equally entangled. We often change a lighter for a greater evil, and wish ourselves restored again to the state from which we thought it desirable to be delivered. But this knowledge, though it is easily gained by the trial, is not always attainable any other way, and that error cannot justly be reproach­ed, which reason could not obviate, nor prudence avoid.

TO take a view at once distinct and com­prehensive of human life, with all its intricacies of combination, and varieties of connexion, is beyond the power of mortal intelligences. Of the state with which practice has not ac­quainted us, we snatch a glimpse, we discern a point, and regulate the rest by passion, and by fancy. In this enquiry every favourite prejudice, every innate desire, is busy to deceive us. We are unhappy, at least less happy than our nature seems to admit; we necessarily desire the melioration of our lot; what we desire, we very reasonably seek, and [Page 237] what we seeck we are naturally eager to believe that we have sound. Our confidence is, in­deed, often disappointed, but our reason is not convinced, and there is no man who does not hope for something which he has not, though, perhaps his wishes lie unactive, be­cause he foresees the difficulty of attainment. As among the numerous students of Hermetick philosophy, not one appears to have desisted from the task of transmutation, from convic­tion of its impossibility, but from weariness of toil, or impatience of delay, a broken body, or exhausted fortune.

IRRESOLUTION and mutability are often the faults of men, whose views are wide, and whose imagination is vigorous and excursive, because they cannot confine their thoughts within their own boundaries of action, but are continually ranging over all the seenes of human existence, and, consequently, are often apt to conceive that they fall upon new regions of pleasure, and start new possibilities of hap­piness. Thus they are too often busied with a perpetual succession of schemes, and pass their lives in alternate elation and sorrow, for want of that calm and immovable acquiescence in their condition, by which men of flower [Page 238] understandings are fixed for ever to a certain point, or led on in the plain beaten track, which their fathers, and grandsires, have trod before them.

OF two conditions of life equally inviting to the prospect, that will always have the dis­advantage which we have already tried; be­cause the evils which we have felt we cannot extenuate; and though we have, perhaps from nature, the power as well of aggravating the calamity which we fear, as of heightening the blessing we expect, yet in those meditations which we indulge by choice, and which are not forced upon the mind by necessity, we have always the art of fixing our regard upon the more pleasing images, and suffer hope to dispose the lights by which we look upon fu­turity.

THE good and ill of different modes of life are sometimes so equally opposed, that, per­haps no man ever yet made his choice between them upon a full conviction, and adequate knowledge; and therefore fluctuation of will is not more wonderful, when they are propo­sed to the election, than oscillations of a beam charged with equal weights. The mind no [Page 239] sooner imagines itself determined by some pre­valent advantage, than some convenience of equal weight is discovered on the other side, and the resolutions which are suggested by the nicest examination, are often repented as soon as they are taken.

EUMENES, a young man of great abilities, inherited a very large estate from a father, who had been long eminent in the most con­spicuous employments. His father, harrassed with frequent competitions, and perplexed with multiplicity of business, very earnestly re­commended to him the quiet and security of a private station, and impressed his persuasions with so much force, that Eumenes for some years resisted every motion of ambitious wishes; but being once provoked by the sight of oppression and injustice, which he could not redress, he began to think it the duty of an honest man to enable himself to protect others, and gradually felt a desire of greatness, ex­cited by a thousand projects of advantage to his country. His fortune immediately placed him in the senate, his knowledge and eloquence soon advanced him at court, and he possessed that authority and influence which he had re­solved to exert for the happiness of mankind.

[Page 240] HE now became acquainted with the em­barrassments of greatness, and was in a short time convinced, that in proportion as the power of doing well was enlarged, the temp­tations to do ill were multiplied and enforced. He felt himself every moment in danger of being either seduced or driven from his honest purposes. Sometimes a friend was to be gratified, and sometimes a rival to be crushed, by means which his conscience could not ap­prove. Sometimes he was forced to comply with the prejudices of the publick, and some­times with the schemes of the ministry. He was by degrees wearied with perpetual strug­gles to unite policy and virtue, and went back to retirement as the shelter of innocence, per­suaded that he could only hope to benefit mankind by a blameless example of private virtue. Here he spent some years in tran­quillity and beneficence; but finding that corruption increased, and false opinions in government prevailed, he thought himself again summoned to posts of publick trust, from which new evidence of his own weak­ness again determined him to retire.

THUS men may be made inconstant by [Page 241] virtue and by vice, by too much or too little thought; yet inconstancy, however dignified by its motives, is always to be avoided, be­cause life allows us but a small time for en­quiry and experiment, and he that steadily en­deavours at excellence, in whatever employ­ment, will more benefit mankind than he that hesitates in choosing his part till he is called to the performance. The traveller that resolutely follows a rough and winding path, will sooner reach the end of his journey, than he that is always changing his direction, and wastes the hours of day-light in looking for smoother ground, and shorter passages.

NUMB. 64. SATURDAY, Oct. 27, 1750.

‘Idem velle, et idem nolle, ea demum firma ami­citia est.’SALUST.

WHEN Socrates was building himself a house at Athens, being asked by one that observed the littleness of the design, why a man so eminent would not have an abode more suitable to his dignity? he replied, that he should think himself sufficiently accommo­dated, [Page 428] if he could see that narrow habitation filled with real friends. Such was the opinion of this great master of human life, concern­ing the infrequency of such an union of minds as might deserve the name of friend­ship, that, among the multitudes whom vani­ty or curiosity, civility or veneration, crouded about him, he did not expect, that very spa­cious apartments would be necessary to contain all that should regard him with sincere kind­ness, or adhere to him with steady fidelity.

SO many qualities are indeed requisite to the possibility of friendship, and so many accidents must concur to its rise and its continuance, that no wonder can be excited by observing, that the greatest part of mankind content themselves without it, and supply its place as they can, with interest and dependance.

MULTITUDES are unqualified for a con­stant and warm reciprocation of benevolence, as they are incapacitated for any other elevated excellence, by a perpetual attention to their interest, and an unresisting subjection to their passions. An inability may be superinduced by long habits of denying any desire, or of re­pressing, by superior motives, the importuni­ties [Page 243] of any immediate gratification, and an inveterate selfishness will imagine all advanta­ges diminished in proportion as they are com­municated.

BUT not only this hateful and confirmed corruption, but many varieties of disposition, not inconsistent with common degrees of vir­tue, may exclude friendship from the heart. Some ardent enough in their benevolence, and defective neither in officiousness, nor li­berality, are mutable and uncertain, soon at­tracted by new objects, disgusted without of­fence, and alienated without enmity. Others are soft and flexible, easily influenced by re­ports or whispers, ready to catch alarms from every dubious circumstance, and to listen to every suspicion which envy and flattery shall suggest, to follow the opinion of every con­fident adviser, and move by the impulse of the last breath. Some are impatient of con­tradiction, more willing to go wrong by their own judgment, than to be indebted for a better or a safer way to the sagacity of another, inclined to consider counsel as insult, and en­quiry as want of confidence, and to confer their regard on no other terms than unreserved submission, and implicit compliance. Some [Page 244] are dark and involved, equally careful to con­ceal good and bad purposes, and pleased with producing effects by invisible means, and shew­ing their design only in its execution. Others are universally communicative, alike open to every eye, and equally profuse of their own secrets and those of others, without the neces­sary vigilance of caution, or the honest arts of prudent integrity; ready to accuse without malice, and to betray without treachery. Any of these may be useful to the community, and pass through the world with the reputati­on of good purposes and uncorrupted morals, but they are unfit for close and tender intima­cies. He cannot properly be chosen for a friend, whose kindness is exhaled by its own warmth, or frozen by the first blast of slan­der; he cannot be a useful counsellor, who will hear no opinion but his own; he will not much invite confidence whose principal max­im is to suspect; nor can the candour and frankness of that man be much esteemed, who spreads his arms to human kind, and makes every man, without distinction, a denizon of his bosom.

THAT friendship may be at once fond and lasting, there must not only be equal virtue on [Page 245] each part, but virtue of the same kind; not only the same end must be proposed, but the same means must be approved by both. We are often, by superficial accomplishments and accidental endearments, induced to love those whom we cannot esteem; we are sometimes, by great abilities and incontestable evidences of virtue, compelled to esteem those whom we cannot love. But friendship, compounded of esteem and love, derives from one its ten­derness and its permanence from the other; and therefore requires not only that its candi­didates should gain the judgment, but that they should attract the affections; that they should not only be firm in the day of distress, but gay in the hour of jollity; not only useful in exigences, but pleasing in familiar life; their presence should give chearfulness as well as courage, and dispel alike the gloom of fear and of melancholy.

TO this mutual complacency is generally re­quisite an uniformity of opinions, at least of those active and conspicuous principles which discriminate parties in government, and sects in religion, and which every day operate more or less on the common business of life. For though great tenderness has, perhaps, been [Page 246] sometimes known to continue between men eminent in contrary factions; yet such friends are to be shewn rather as prodigies than exam­ples, and it is no more proper to regulate our conduct by such instances, than to leap a precipice, because some have fallen from it and escaped with life.

IT cannot but be extremely difficult to pre­serve private kindness in the midst of publick opposition, in which will necessarily be in­volved a thousand incidents, extending their influence to conversation and privacy. Men engaged, by moral or religious motives, in contrary parties, will generally look with dif­ferent eyes upon every man, and decide almost every question upon different principles. When such occasions of dispute happen, to comply is to betray our cause, and to maintain friendship by ceasing to deserve it; to be silent, is to lose the happiness and dignity of inde­pendence, to live in perpetual constraint, and to desert, if not to betray: and who shall de­termine which of two friends shall yield, where neither believes himself mistaken, and both confess the importance of the question? What then remains but contradiction and de­bate? [Page 247] and from those what can be expected, but acrimony and vehemence, the insolence of triumph, the vexation of defeat, and, in time, a weariness of contest, and an extincti­on of benevolence? Exchange of endearments and intercourse of civility may continue, in­deed, as boughs may for a while be verdant, when the root is wounded; but the poison of discord is infused, and though the counte­nance may preserve its smile, the heart is har­dening and contracting.

THAT man will not be long agreeable, whom we see only in times of seriousness and severity; and therefore, to maintain the soft­ness and serenity of benevolence, it is neces­sary that friends partake each others pleasures as well as cares, and be led to the same diver­sions by similitude of taste. This is, howe­ver, not to be considered as equally indispen­sable with conformity of principles, because any man may honestly, according to the pre­cepts of Horace, resign the gratifications of taste to the humour of another, and friendship may well deserve the sacrifice of pleasure, though not of conscience.

IT was once ingenuously confessed to me, [Page 248] by a painter, that no professor of his art ever loved another. This declaration is so far justi­fied by the knowledge of life, as to damp the hopes of warm and constant friendship, be­tween men whom their studies have made competitors, and whom every favourer and every censurer are hourly inciting against each other. The utmost expectation that experi­ence can warrant, is, that they should forbear open hostilities and secret machinations, and when the whole fraternity is attacked, be able to unite against a common soe. Some how­ever, though few, may perhaps be found, in whom emulation has not been able to over­power generosity, who are distinguished from lower beings by nobler motives than the love of fame, and can preserve the sacred flame of friendship from the gusts of pride, and the rubbish of interest.

FRIENDSHIP is seldom lasting but between equals, or where the superiority on one side is reduced by some equivalent advantage on the other. Benefits which cannot be repaid, and obligations which cannot be discharged, are not commonly sound to increase affection; they excite gratitude indeed, and heighten vencrati­on, [Page 249] but commonly take away that easy free­dom, and familiarity of intercourse, without which, though there may be fidelity, and zeal, and admiration, there cannot be friendship. Thus imperfect are all earthly blessings; the great effect of friendship is beneficence, yet by the first act of uncommon kindness it is en­dangered, like plants that bear their fruit and die. Yet this consideration ought not to re­strain bounty, or repress compassion; for du­ty is to be preferred before convenience, and he that loses part of the pleasures of friendship by his generosity, gains in its place the gratulation of his conscience.

NUMB. 65. TUESDAY, October 30, 1750.

—Garrit aniles
Ex refabellas.—

OBIDA, the son of Abensina, left the caravansera early in the morning, and persued his journey through the plains of Indostan. He was fresh and vigorous with rest; he was animated with hope; he was in­cited by desire; he walked swiftly forward [Page 250] over the vallies, and saw the hills gradually rising before him. As he passed along, his ears were delighted with the morning song of the bird of paradise, he was fanned by the last flutters of the sinking breeze, and sprink­led with dew by groves of spices; he sometimes contemplated the towering height of the oak, monarch of the hills; and sometimes caught the gentle fragrance of the primrose, eldest daughter of the spring: all his senses were gratified, and all care was banished from his heart.

THUS he went on till the sun approached his meridian, and the increasing heat preyed upon his strength; he then looked round about him for some more commodious path. He saw, on his right hand, a grove that seemed to wave its shades as a sign of invitation; he entered it, and found the coolness and verdure irresistibly pleasant. He did not, however, forget whither he was travelling, but found a narrow way bordered with flowers, which appeared to have the same direction with the main road, and was pleased that, by this hap­py experiment, he had found means to unite pleasure with business, and to gain the re­wards of diligence without suffering its fa­tigues. [Page 251] He, therefore, still continued to walk for a time, without the least remission of his ardour, except that he was sometimes tempted to stop by the musick of the birds, whom the heat had assembled in the shade; and some­times amused himself with plucking the flow­ers that covered the banks on either side, or the fruits that hung upon the branches. At last the green path began to decline from its first tendency, and to wind among hills and thickets, cooled with fountains, and mur­muring with water-falls. Here Obidah paus­ed for a time, and began to consider whether it were longer safe to forsake the known and common track; but remembering that the heat was now in its greatest violence, and that the plain was dusty and uneven, he re­solved to persue the new path, which he sup­posed only to make a few meanders, in com­pliance with the varieties of the ground, and to end at last in the common road.

HAVING thus calmed his solicitude, he re­newed his pace, though he suspected that he was not gaining ground. This uneasiness of his mind inclined him to lay hold on every new object, and give way to every sensation that might sooth or divert him. He listened [Page 252] to every echo, he mounted every hill for a fresh prospect, he turned aside to every cas­cade, and pleased himself with tracing the course of a gentle river that rolled among the trees, and watered a large region with innu­merable circumvolutions. In these amuse­ments the hours passed away uncounted, his deviations had perplexed his memory, and he knew not towards what point to travel. He stood pensive and confused, afraid to go for­ward lest he should go wrong, yet conscious that the time of loitering was now past. While he was thus tortured with uncertainty, the sky was over-spread with clouds, the day vanished from before him, and a sudden tem­pest gathered round his head. He was now roused by his danger to a quick and painful remembrance of his folly, he now saw how happiness is lost when ease is consulted; he lamented the unmanly impatience that prompt­ed him to seek shelter in the grove, and despi­sed the petty curiosity that led him on from trifle to trifle. While he was thus reflecting, the air grew blacker, and a clap of thunder broke his meditation.

HE now resolved to do what remained yet in his power, to tread back the ground which [Page 253] he had passed, and try to find some issue where the wood might open into the plain. He pro­strated himself on the ground, and commend­ed his life to the lord of nature. He rose with confidence and tranquillity, and pressed on with his sabre in his hand, for the beasts of the desart were in motion, and on every hand were heard the mingled howls of rage and fear, and ravage, and expiration; all the horrors of darkness and solitude surround­ed him; the winds roared in the woods, and the torrents tumbled from the hills, [...]

THUS forlorn and distressed, he wandered through the wild, without knowing whither he was going, or whteher he was every mo­ment drawing nearer to safety or to destruction. At length not fear but labour began to over­come him; his breath grew short, and his knees crembled, and he was on the point of lying down in resignation to his fate, when he beheld through the brambles the glimmer of a taper. He advanced towards the light, and finding that it proceeded from the cottage of a hermit, he called humbly at the door, [Page 254] and obtained admission. The old man set before him such provisions as he had collected for himself, on which Obidah fed with eager­ness and gratitude.

WHEN the repast was over, "Tell me, said the hermit, by what chance thou hast been brought hither; I have been now twenty years an inhabitant of the wilder­ness, in which I never saw a man before." Obidah then related the occurrences of his journey, without any concealment or pallia­tion.

"SON, said the hermit, let the errors and follies, the dangers and escape of this day, sink deep into thy heart. Remember, my son, that human life is the journey of a day. We rise in the morning of youth, full of vigour and full of expectation; we set forward with spirit and hope, with gaie­ty and with diligence, and travel on a while in the streight road of piety towards the mansions of rest. In a short time we remit our fervor, and endeavour to find some mitigation of our duty, and some more easy means of obtaining the same end. [Page 255] We then relax our vigour, and resolve no longer to be terrified with crimes at a di­stance, but rely upon our own constancy, and venture to approach what we resolve never to touch. We thus enter the bow­ers of ease, and repose in the shades of se­curity. Here the heart softens, and vigi­lance subsides; we are then willing to en­quire whether another advance cannot be made, and whether we may not, at least, turn our eyes upon the gardens of pleasure. We approach them with scruple and hesi­tation; we enter them, but enter timorous and trembling, and always hope to pass through them without losing the road of virtue, which we, for a while, keep in our sight, and to which we purpose to re­turn. But temptation succeeds temptation, and one compliance prepares us for ano­ther; we in time lose the happiness of in­nocence, and solace our disquiet with sen­sual gratifications. By degrees we let fall the remembrance of our original intention, and quit the only adequate object of ratio­nal desire. We entangle ourselves in busi­ness, immerge ourselves in luxury, and rove through the labyrinths of inconstancy till the darkness of old age begins to in­vade [Page 256] us, and disease and anxiety obstruct our way. We then look back upon our lives with horror, with sorrow, with re­pentance; and wish, but too often vainly wish, that we had not forsaken the ways of virtue. Happy are they, my son, who shall learn from thy example not to de­spair, but shall remember, that though the day is past, and their strength is wasted, there yet remains one effort to be made; that reformation is never hopeless, nor sincere endeavours ever unassisted, that the wanderer may at length return after all his errors, and that he who implores strength and courage from above, shall find danger and difficulty give way before him. Go now, my son, to thy repose, commit thy­self to the care of omnipotence, and when the morning calls again to toil, begin a new thy journey and thy life."

NUMB. 66. SATURDAY, November 3, 1750.

Pauci dignoscere possunt
Vera bona, atque illis multum diversa, remotâ
Erroris nebulâ.

THE folly of human wishes and persuits has always been a standing subject of mirth and declamation, and has been ridicul­ed and lamented from age to age; till perhaps the fruitless repetition of complaints and cen­sures may be justly numbered among the sub­jects of censure and complaint.

SOME of these instructors of mankind have not contented themselves with checking the overflows of passion, and lopping the exube­rance of desire, but have attempted to de­stroy the root as well as the branches; and not only to confine the mind within bounds, but to smooth it forever by a dead calm. They have employed their reason and their eloquence to persuade us, that nothing is worth the wish of a wise man, have represented all earthly good and evil as indifferent, and counted among vulgar errors the dread of pain, and the love of life.

[Page 258] IT is almost always the unhappiness of a vic­torious disputant, to destroy his own authori­ty by claiming too many consequences, or diffusing his proposition to an indefensible ex­tent. When we have heated our zeal in a cause, and elated our confidence with success, we are naturally inclined to persue the same train of reasoning, to establish some collateral truth, to remove some adjacent difficulty, and to take in the whole comprehension of our system. As a prince in the ardour of acqui­sition, is willing to secure his first conquest by the addition of another, add fortress to fortress, and city to city, till despair and op­portunity turn his enemies upon him, and he loses in a moment the glory of a reign.

THE philosophers having found an easy victory over those desires which we produce in ourselves, and which terminate in some imaginary state of happiness unknown and unattainable, proceeded to make further inroads upon the heart, and attacked at last our sen­ses and our instincts. They continued to war upon nature with arms, by which only folly could be conquered; they therefore lost the trophies of their former combats, and were [Page 259] considered no longer with reverence or re­gard.

YET it cannot be with justice denied, that these men have been very useful monitors, and have left many proofs of strong rea­son, deep penetration, and accurate attention to the affairs of life, which it is now our bu­siness to separate from the foam of a boiling imagination, and to apply judiciously to our own use. They have shewn that most of the conditions of life, which raise the envy of the timorous, and rouse the ambition of the daring, are empty shows of felicity, which, when they become familiar, lose their power of de­lighting; and that the most prosperous and exalted have very few advantages over a meaner and more obscure fortune, when their dangers and solicitudes are balanced against their equi­page, their banquets, and their palaces.

IT is natural for every man, uninstructed and unenlightened, to murmur at his condition, because, in the general infelicity of life, he feels his own miseries, without knowing that they are common to all the rest of the species; and therefore though he will not be less sensi­ble of pain by being told that others are equal­ly [Page 260] tormented, he will at least be freed from the temptation of seeking by perpetual chan­ges that ease which is no where to be found, and though his disease still continues, he e­scapes the hazard of exasperating it by remedies.

THE gratifications which affluence of wealth, extent of power, and eminence of reputation confer, must be always, by their own nature, confined to a very small number; and the life of the greater part of mankind must be lost in empty wishes and painful com­parisons, were not the balm of philosophy shed upon us, and our discontent at the ap­pearances of unequal distribution soothed and appeased.

IT seemed, perhaps, below the dignity of the great masters of moral learning, to de­scend to familiar life, and caution mankind against that petty ambition, which is known among us by the name of vanity; which yet had been an undertaking not unworthy of the longest beard, and most solemn austerity. For though the passions of little minds, act­ing in low stations, do not fill the world with bloodshed and devastations, or mark, by great events, the periods of time, yet they torture [Page 261] the breast which they happen to seize, infest those that are placed within the reach of their influence, destroy private quiet and private vir­tue, and undermine, insensibly, the happiness of the world.

THE desire of excellence is laudable, but is very frequently ill directed. We fall, by chance, into some class of mankind, and, with­out consulting nature or wisdom, resolve to gain their regard by those qualities which they happen to esteem. I once knew a man remarkably dimsighted, who, by conversing much with country gentlemen, found himself irresistibly determined to sylvan honours, and was very desirous to be thought a skilful sportsman. His great ambition was to shoot flying, and he therefore spent whole days in the woods persuing game; which, before he was near enough to see them, his approach al­ways frighted away.

WHEN it happens that the desire tends to ob­jects which produce no competition, it may be overlooked with some indulgence, because, however fruitless or absurd, it cannot have ill effects upon the morals. But most of our en­joyments owe their value to the peculiarity of [Page 262] possession, and when they are rated at too high a value, give occasion to stratagems of malig­nity, and incite opposition, hatred, and defa­mation. The contest of two rural beauties for preference and distinction, is often suffi­ciently keen and rancorous to fill their breasts with all those passions, which are gene­rally thought the curse only of senates, of armies, and of courts; and the rival dancers of an obscure assembly have their partisans and abettors, often not less exasperated against each other, than those who are promot­ing the interests of rival monarchs.

IT is common to consider those whom we find infected with an unreasonable regard for trifling accomplishments, as justly chargeable with all the consequences of their folly, and as the authors of their own unhappiness: but, perhaps, those whom we thus scorn or detest, have more claim to tenderness than has been yet allowed them. Before we permit our se­verity to break loose upon any fault or error, we ought surely to consider how much we have countenanced or promoted it. We see multitudes busy in the persuit of riches, at the expence of wisdom and of virtue; but we see the rest of mankind approving their conduct, [Page 263] and inciting their eagerness, by paying that re­gard and deference to wealth, which wisdom and virtue only can deserve. We see women universally jealous of the reputation of their beauty, and frequently look with contempt on the care with which they study their com­plexions, endeavour to preserve or to supply the bloom of youth, regulate every ornament, twist their hair into curls, and shade their fa­ces from the weather. We often recommend to them the care of their nobler part, and tell them how little addition is made by all their arts to the graces of the mind. But when was it known that female virtue or knowledge was able to attract that officiousness, or inspire that ardour which beauty produces whenever it ap­pears? And with what hope can we endeavour to persuade the ladies, that the time spent at the toilet is lost in vanity, when they have every moment some new conviction, that their interest is more effectually promoted by a rib­band well disposed, than by the brightest act of heroick virtue?

IN every instance of vanity it will be found, that the blame ought to be shared among more than it generally reaches; all who exalt trifles by immoderate praise, or instigate needless [Page 264] emulation by invidious incitements, are to be considered as perverters of reason, and cor­rupters of the world: and since every man is obliged to promote happiness and virtue, he should be careful not to mislead unwary minds, by appearing to set too high a value upon things by which no real excellence is conferred.

NUMB. 67. TUESDAY, November 6, 1750.


THERE is no temper so universally in­dulged as hope: other passions ope­rate by starts on particular occasions, or in certain parts of life; but hope begins with the first power of comparing our actual with our possible state, and attends us through every stage and period of our lives, always urging us forward to new acquisitions, and holding out some distant blessing to our view, promis­ing us either relief from pain, or increase of happiness.

HOPE is necessary in every condition. The miseries of poverty, of sickness, of cap­tivity, [Page 265] would, without this comfort, be insup­portable; nor does it appear that the happiest lot of terrestrial existence can set us above the want of this general blessing, or that life, when the gifts of nature and of fortune are accumulated upon it, would not still be wretched, were it not elevated and delighted by the expectation of some new possession, of some enjoyment yet behind, by which the wish shall be at last satisfied, and the heart filled up to its utmost extent.

HOPE is, indeed, very fallacious, and promises what it seldom gives; but its pro­mises are more valuable than the gifts of for­tune, and it seldom frustrates us without assu­ring us of recompensing the delay by a greater bounty.

I WAS musing on this strange inclination which every man feels to deceive himself, and considering the advantages and dangers pro­ceeding from this gay prospect of futurity, when, falling asleep, on a sudden I found myself placed in a garden, of which my sight could descry no limits. Every scene about me was gay and gladsome, light with sun­shine, and fragrant with perfumes; the ground [Page 266] was painted with all the variety of spring, and all the choir of nature was singing in the groves. When I had recovered from the first raptures, with which the confusion of pleasure had for a time entranced me, I began to take a particular and deliberate view of this delight­ful region. I then perceived that I had yet higher gratifications to expect, and that, at a small distance from me, there were brighter flowers, clearer fountains, and more losty groves, where the birds, which I yet heard but faintly, were exerting all the power of melody. The trees about me were beautiful with verdure, and fragrant with blossoms; but I was tempted to leave them by the sight of ripe fruits, which seemed to hang only to be plucked. I therefore walked hastily forwards, but found, as I proceeded, that the colours of the field faded at my approach, the fruit fell before I reached it, the birds flew still singing before me, and though I pressed onward with great celerity, I was still in sight of pleasures of which I could not yet gain the possession, and which seemed to mock my diligence, and to retire as I advanced.

THOUGH I was confounded with so many alternations of joy and grief, I yet persisted to [Page 267] go forward, in hopes that these fugitive de­lights would in time be overtaken. At length I saw an innumerable multitude of every age and sex, who seemed all to partake of some ge­neral felicity; for every cheek was flushed with confidence, and every eye sparkled with eagerness: yet each appeared to have some particular and secret pleasure, and very few were willing to communicate their intentions, or extend their concern beyond themselves. Most of them seemed, by the rapidity of their motion, too busy to gratify the curiosity of a stranger, and therefore I was content for a while to gaze upon them, without interrupting them with troublesome enquiries. At last I observed one man worn with time, and unable to struggle in the croud; and, therefore, sup­posing him more at leisure, I began to accost him: but he turned from me with anger, and told me he must not be disturbed, for the great hour of projection was now come, when Mercury should lose his wings, and slave­ry should no longer dig the mine for gold.

I LEFT hin, and attempted another, whose softness of mien, and easy movement, gave me reason to hope for a more agreeable re­ception: but he told me, with a low bow, [Page 268] that nothing would make him more happy than an opportunity of serving me, which he could not now want, for a place which he had been twenty years soliciting would be soon va­cant. From him I had recourse to the next, who was departing in haste to take possession of the estate of an uncle, who by the course of nature could not live long. He that follow­ed was preparing to dive for treasure in a new-invented bell; and another was on the point of discovering the longitude.

BEING thus rejected wheresoever I applied myself for information, I began to imagine it best to desist from enquiry, and try what my own observation would discover: but seeing a young man, gay and thoughtless, I resolved upon one more experiment, and was informed that I was in the garden of HOPE, the daughter of DESIRE, and that all those whom I saw thus tumultuously bustling round me, were incited by the promises of HOPE, and hastening to seize the gifts which she held in her hand.

I TURNED my sight upward, and saw a goddess in the bloom of youth, sitting on a throne: around her lay all the gifts of fortune, [Page 269] and all the blessings of life were spread abroad to view; she had a perpetual gayety of aspect, and every one imagined that her smile, which was impartial and general, was directed to himself, and triumphed in his own superiority to others, who had conceived the same confi­dence from the same mistake.

I THEN mounted an eminence, from which I had a more extensive view of the whole place, and could with less perplexity consider the different conduct of the crouds that filled it. From this station I observed, that the en­trance into the garden of HOPE was by two gates, one of which was kept by REASON, and the other by FANCY. REASON was sur­ly and scrupulous, and seldom turned the key without many interrogatories, and long hesi­tation; but FANCY was a kind and gentle por­tress, she held her gate wide open, and wel­comed all equally to the district under her superintendency; so that the passage was crouded by all those who either feared the ex­amination of REASON, or had been rejected by her.

FROM the gate of REASON there was a way to the throne of HOPE, by a craggy [Page 270] slippery, and winding path, called the Streight of Difficulty, which those who entered with the permission of the guard endeavoured to climb. But tho' they surveyed the way very chearful­ly before they began to rise, and marked out the several stages of their progress, they com­monly found unexpected obstacles, and were obliged frequently to stop on the sudden, where they imagined the way plain and even. A thousand intricacies embarrassed them, a thousand slips threw them back, and a thou­sand pitfals impeded their advance. So for­midable were the dangers, and so frequent the miscarriages, that many returned from the first attempt, and many fainted in the midst of the way, and only a very small number were led up to the summit of HOPE, by the hand of FORTITUDE. Of these few the greater part, when they had obtained the gift which HOPE had promised them, regretted the labour which it cost, and felt in their suc­cess the regret of disappointment; the rest re­tired with their prize, and were led by WIS­DOM to the bowers of CONTENT.

TURNING then towards the gate of FAN­CY, I could find no way to the seat of HOPE: but though she sat full in view, and held out [Page 271] her gifts with an air of invitation, which fill­ed every heart with rapture, the mountain was, on that side, inaccessibly steep, but so channelled and shaded, that none perceived the impossibility of ascending it, but each ima­gined himself to have discovered a way to which the rest were strangers. Many expe­dients were indeed tried by this industrious tribe, of whom some were making themselves wings, which others were contriving to actu­ate by the perpetual motion. But, with all their labour, and all their artifices, they never rose above the ground, or quickly fell back, nor ever approached the throne of HOPE, but continued still to gaze at a distance, and laughed at the slow progress of those whom they saw toiling in the Streight of Difficulty.

PART of the favourites of FANCY, when they had entered the garden, without mak­ing, like the rest, any attempt to climb the mountain, turned immediately to the vale of IDLENESS, a calm and undisturbed retirement, from whence they could always have HOPE in prospect, and to which they pleased them­selves with believing that she intended speedily to descend. These were indeed scorned by all the rest, but they seemed very little affect­ed [Page 272] by contempt, advice, or reproof, but were resolved to expect at ease the favour of the goddess.

AMONG this gay race I was wandering, and found them ready to answer all my questi­ons, and willing to communicate their mirth: but turning round I saw two dreadful monsters entring the vale, one of whom I knew to be AGE, and the other WANT. Sport and re­velling were now at an end, and an universal shrick of affright and distress burst out and awaked me.

NUMB. 68. SATURDAY, November 10, 1750.

Vivendum rectè, cum propter plurima, tunc his
Praecipue causis, ut linguas mancipiorum
Contemnas; nam lingua mali pars pessima servi.

THE younger Pliny has very justly ob­served, that of actions which deserve our attention, the most splendid are not al­ways the greatest. Fame, and wonder, and [Page 273] applause, are not excited but by external and adventitious circumstances, often distinct and separate from virtue and heroism. Eminence of station, greatness of effect, and all the favours of fortune, must concur to place ex­cellence in publick view; but fortitude, and diligence, and patience, divested of their show, glide unobserved through the croud of life, and suffer and act, though with the same vigour and constancy, yet without pity and without praise.

THIS remark may be extended to all parts of life. Nothing is to be estimated by its effect upon common eyes and common ears. A thousand miseries make silent and invisible inroads on mankind, and the heart feels innu­merable throbs, which never break into com­plaint. Perhaps, likewise, our pleasures are for the most part equally secret, and most are born up by some private satisfaction, some in­ternal consciousness, some latent hope, some peculiar prospect, which they never commu­nicate, but reserve for solitary hours, and clan­destine meditation.

THE main of life is, indeed, composed of small incidents, and petty occurrences; of [Page 274] wishes for objects not remote, and grief for disappointments of no fatal consequence; of insect vexations which sting us and fly away, impertinences which buzz a while about us, and are heard no more; of meteorous plea­sures which dance before us and are dissipated, of compliments which glide off the soul like other musick, and are forgotten by him that gave and him that received them.

SUCH is the general heap out of which e­very man is to cull his own condition: for, as the chymists tell us, that all bodies are re­solvable into the same elements, and that the bound less variety of things arises from the dif­ferent proportions of very few ingredients; so a few pains, and a few pleasures are all the materials of human life, and of these the pro­portions are partly allotted by providence, and partly left to the arrangement of reason and of choice.

AS these are well or ill disposed, man is for the most part happy or miserable. For very few are involved in great events, or have their thread of life entwisted with the chain of causes on which armies or nations are sus­pended; and even those who seem wholly [Page 275] busied in publick affairs, and elevated above low cares, or trivial pleasures, pass the chief part of their time in familiar and domestick scenes; from these they came into publick life, to these they are every hour recalled by passions not to be suppressed; in these they have the reward of their toils, and to these at last they retire.

THE great end of prudence is to give chearfulness to those hours, which splendour cannot gild, and acclamation cannot exhila­rate; those soft intervals of unbended amuse­ment, in which a man shrinks to his own natural dimensions, and throws aside the or­naments or disguises, which he feels in priva­cy to be useless incumbrances, and to lose all effect when they become familiar. To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tends, and of which every desire prompts the prosecution.

IT is, indeed, at home that every man must be known, by those who would make a just estimate either of his virtue or felicity; for smiles and embroidery are alike occasional, [Page 276] and the mind is often dressed for show in painted honour, and fictitious benevolence.

EVERY man must have found some whose lives, in every house but their own, was a continual series of hypocrisy, and who con­cealed under fair appearances bad qualities, which, whenever they thought themselves out of the reach of censure, broke out from their restraint, like winds imprisoned in their ca­verns, and whom every one had reason to love, but they whose love a wise man is chiefly solicitous to procure. And there are others who, without any show of general goodness, and without the attractions, by which popu­larity is conciliated, are received among their own families as bestowers of happiness, and reverenced as instructors, guardians, and be­nefactors.

THE most authentick witnesses of any man's character are those who know him in his own family, and see him without any re­straint, or rule of conduct, but such as he voluntarily prescribes to himself. If a man carries virtue with him into his private apart­ments, and takes no advantage of unlimited power, or probable secresy; if we trace him [Page 277] through the round of his time, and find that his character, with those allowances which mortal frailty must always want, is uniform and regular, we have all the evidence of his sincerity, that one man can have with regard to another; and, indeed, as hypocrisy cannot be its own reward, we may, without hesita­tion, determine that his heart is pure.

THE highest panegyrick, therefore, that private virtue can receive, is the praise of ser­vants. For, however vanity or insolence may look down with contempt on the suffrage of men, undignified by wealth, and unenlight­ened by education, it very seldom happens that they commend or blame without justice. Vice and virtue are easily distinguished. Op­pression, according to Harrington's aphorism, will be felt by those that cannot see it; and, perhaps, it falls out very often that, in moral questions, the philosophers in the gown, and in the livery, differ not so much in their sen­timents, as in their language, and have equal power of discerning right, though they can­not point it out to others with equal address.

THERE are very few faults to be commit­ted in solitude, or without some agents, part­ners, [Page 278] confederates, or witnesses; and, there­fore, the servant must commonly know the secrets of a master, who has any secrets to en­trust; and failings, merely personal, are so frequently exposed by that security which pride and folly generally produce, and so in­quisitively watched by that desire of reducing the inequalities of condition, which the low­er orders of the world will always feel, that the testimony of a menial domestick can sel­dom be considered as defective for want of knowledge. And though its impartiality may be sometimes suspected, it is at least as credible as that of equals, where rivalry instigates cen­sure, or friendship dictates palliations.

THE danger of betraying our weakness to our servants, and the impossibility of conceal­ing it from them, may be justly considered as one motive to a regular and irreproachable life. For no condition is more hateful or despica­ble, than his who has put himself in the pow­er of his servant; in the power of him whom, perhaps, he has first corrupted by making him subservient to his vices, and whose fidelity he therefore cannot enforce by any precepts of honesty or reason. It is seldom known that authority, thus acquired, is possessed without [Page 279] insolence, or that the master is not forced to confess, by his tameness or forbearance, that he has enslaved himself by some foolish confi­dence. And his crime is equally punished, whatever part he takes of the choice to which he is reduced; and he is, from that fatal hour, in which he sacrificed his dignity to his passions, in perpetual dread of insolence or defamation; of a controuler at home, or an accuser abroad. He is condemned to purchase, by continual bribes, that secresy which bribes never secured, and which, after a long course of submission, promises, and anxieties, he will find violated in a fit of rage, or in a fro­lick of drunkenness.

TO dread no eye, and to suspect no tongue, is the great prerogative of innocence; an ex­emption granted only to invariable virtue. But guilt has always its horrors and solicitudes; and, to make it yet more shameful and de­testable, is doomed often to stand in awe of those, to whom nothing could give influence or weight, but their power of betraying.

NUMB. 69. TUESDAY, November 13, 1750.

Flet quoque, ut in speculo rugas adspexit aniles,
Tyndaris; et secum, cur sit bis rapta, re­quirit.
Tempus edax rerum, tuque invidiosa vetustas
Omnia destruitis: vitiataque dentibus aevi
Paulatim lentâ consumitis omnia morte.

AN old Greek epigrammatist, intending to shew the miseries that attend the last stage of man, imprecates upon those who are so foolish as to wish for long life, the calamity of continuing to grow old from century to century. He thought that no adventitious or foreign pain was requisite, that decrepitude itself was an epitome of all that is dreadful, and that nothing could be added to the curse of age, but that it should be extended beyond its natural limits.

THE most indifferent or negligent specta­tor can indeed scarcely retire, without heavi­ness of heart, from a view of the last scenes of the tragedy of life, in which he finds those who in the former parts of the drama were [Page 281] distinguished by opposition of conduct, con­trariety of designs, and dissimilitude of perso­nal qualities, all involved in one common dis­tress, and all struggling with affliction which they cannot hope to overcome.

ALL the other miseries, which way-lay our passage through the world, wisdom may escape, and fortitude may conquer: by caution and circumspection we may steal along with very little to obstruct or incommode us; by spirit and vigour we may force a way, and reward the vexation of contest by the pleasures of vic­tory. But a time must come when all our policy and our bravery shall be equally useless; when we shall all sink into helplesness and sadness, without any power of receiving so­lace from the pleasures that have formerly de­lighted us, or any prospect of emerging into a second possession of the blessings that we have lost.

THE industry of man has, indeed, not been wanting in endeavours to procure com­forts for these hours of dejection and melan­choly, and to gild the dreadful gloom with artificial light. The most usual support of old age is wealth. He whose possessions are [Page 282] large, and whose chests are full, imagines himself always fortified against invasions on his authority, and secure, at least from open insult, and apparent contempt. If he has lost all other means of government, if his strength and his reason fail him, he can at least alter his will; and therefore all that have hopes must likewise have fears, and he may still continue to give laws to such as have not ceased to regard their own interest.

THIS is, indeed, too frequently the citadel of the dotard, the last fortress to which age retires, and in which he makes the stand against the upstart race, that is perpetually seiz­ing his domains, disputing his commands, and cancelling his prescriptions. But here, though there may be safety, there is no pleasure; and what remains is but a proof that more was once possessed.

NOTHING seems to have been more uni­versally dreaded by the ancients than orbity, or want of children; and indeed, to a man who has survived all the companions of his youth, all who have participated his pleasures and his cares, have been engaged in the same events, and filled their minds with the same [Page 283] conceptions, this full peopled world is a dis­mal solitude. He stands forlorn and silent, neglected or insulted, in the midst of mul­titudes, animated with hopes which he can­not share, and employed in business which he is no longer able to forward or retard; nor can he find any to whom his life or his death are of importance, unless he has secured some domestic gratifications, some tender employ­ments, and endeared himself to some whose interest and gratitude may unite them to him.

SO different are the colours of life, as we look forward to the future, or backward to the past; and so different the opinions and senti­ments which this contrariety of appearance naturally produces, that the conversation of the old and young ends generally with con­tempt or pity on either side. To a young man entering the world, with fulness of hope, and ardor of persuit, nothing is so unpleasing as the cold caution, the saint expectations, the scrupulous diffidence which experience and disappointments certainly infuse; and the old man wonders in his turn that the world never can grow wiser, that neither precepts, nor testimonies, can cure boys of their credulity and sufficiency; and that not one can be con­vinced [Page 284] that snares are laid for him, till he finds himself entangled.

THUS one generation is always the scorn and wonder of the other, and the notions of the old and young are like liquors of different gravity and texture which never can unite. The spirits of youth, sublimed by health, and volatilised by passion, soon leave behind them the phlegmatic sediment of wariness and deli­beration, and burst out in temerity and enter­prise. The tenderness therefore which nature infuses, and which long habits of beneficence confirm, is necessary to reconcile such opposi­tion; and an old man must be a father to bear with patience those follies and absurdities, which he will perpetually imagine himself to find in the schemes and expectations, the plea­sures and the sorrows, of those who have not yet been hardened by time, and chilled by frustration.

YET it may be doubted, whether the plea­sure of seeing children ripening into strength and importance, be not overbalanced by the pain of seeing some fall in the blossom, and others blasted in their growth; some shaken down by storms, some tainted with cankers, [Page 285] and some shrivelled in the shade; and whe­ther he that extends his care beyond himself, does not multiply his anxieties more than his pleasure, and weary himself to no purpose by superintending what he cannot regulate.

BUT though age be to every order of human being sufficiently terrible, it is particularly to be dreaded by fine ladies, who have had no other end or ambition, than to fill up the day and the night, with dress, diversions and flat­tery, and who having made no acquaintance with knowledge, or with business, have con­stantly caught all their ideas from the current prattle of the hour, and been indebted for all their happiness to compliments and treats. With these ladies, age begins early, and very often lasts long; it begins when their beauty fades, when their mirth loses its sprightliness, and their motion its case. From that time all that gave them joy vanishes from about them; they hear the praises bestowed on others, which used to swell their bosoms with exultation. They visit the seats of selicity, and endeavour to continue the habit of being delighted. But pleasure is only received when we believe that we give it in return; and neglect and petulance soon inform them that their power [Page 286] and their value are past; and what then re­mains but a tedious and comfortless uniformity of time, without any motion of the heart, or exercise of the reason?

YET, however age may discourage us by its appearance from considering it in prospect, we shall all by degrees certainly be old; and therefore we ought to enquire, what provision can be made against that time of distress? what happiness can be stored up against the winter of life? and how we may pass our latter years with serenity and chearfulness?

IF it has been found by the experience of mankind, that no season of life is able to sup­ply itself with sufficient gratifications, with­out anticipating uncertain felicities, it cannot surely be supposed, that old age, worn with labours, harrassed with anxieties, and tortured with diseases, should have any gladness of its own, or feel any satisfaction from the con­templation of the present. All the comfort that can now be expected must be recalled from the past, or borrowed from the future; the past is too often very soon exhausted, all the events or actions of which the memory can afford pleasure are quickly recollected; and [Page 287] the future lies beyond the grave, where it can be reached only by virtue and devotion.

PIETY, then, is the only proper and ade­quate relief of decaying man, since this world can give him no further prospects. He, there­fore, that grows old without religious hopes, as he declines into imbecillity, and feels pains and sorrows incessantly crowding upon him, falls into a gulph of bottomless misery, in which every reflection must plunge him deep­er, and where he finds only new gradations of anguish, and precipices of horrour.

NUMB. 70. SATURDAY, Novemb. 17, 1750.

—Argentea proles,
Auro doterior, fulvo pretiosior aere.

HESIOD, in his celebrated distribution of mankind, divides them into three orders of intellect. "The first place, says he, belongs to him that can by his own powers discern what is right and fit, and penetrate to the remoter motives of action. The second is claimed by him that is willing [Page 288] to hear instruction, and can perceive right and wrong when they are shewn him by another; but he that has neither acuteness nor docility, who can neither find the way by himself, nor will be led by others, is a wretch without use or value."

IF we survey the moral world, it will be found, that the same division may be made of men, with regard to their virtue. There are some whose principles are so firmly fixed, whose conviction is so constantly present to their minds, and who have raised in them­selves such ardent wishes for the approbation of God, and the happiness with which he has promised to reward obedience and perseve­rance, that they rise above all other cares and considerations, and uniformly examine every action and every desire, by comparing it with the divine commands. There are others in a kind of equipoise between good and ill; who are moved on one part by riches or pleasure, by the gratifications of passion, and the de­lights of sense; and, on the other, by laws of which they own the obligation, and rewards of which they believe the reality, and whom a very small addition of weight turns either way. The third class consists of beings im­mersed [Page 289] in pleasure, or abandoned to passion, without any desire of higher good, or any effort to extend their thoughts beyond imme­diate and gross satisfactions.

THE second class is so much more numerous than the first and last, that it may be consi­dered as comprising the whole body of man­kind. Those of the last are not very many, and of the first are very few; and neither the one nor the other fall much under the consi­deration of the moralist, whose precepts are intended chiefly for those who are endeavour­ing to go forward up the steeps of virtue, not for those who have already reached the sum­mit, or those who are resolved to stay for ever in their present situation.

TO a man not versed in the living world, but accustomed to judge of every thing only by speculative reason, it is scarcely credible that any one should be in this state of indif­ference, or stand undetermined and unenga­ged, ready to follow the first call to either side. It seems certain, that a man either must believe that virtue will make him happy, and resolve therefore to be virtuous, or think that he may be happy without virtue, and there­fore [Page 290] cast off all care but for his present inter­est. It seems impossible that conviction should be on one side, and practice on the other; and that he who has seen the right way, should voluntarily shut his eyes, that he may quit it with more tranquillity. Yet all these absurdities are every hour to be found; the wisest and best men deviate from known and acknowledged duties, by inadvertency or sur­prise; and most are good no longer than while temptation is away, than while their passions are without excitements, and their opinions are free from the counteraction of any other motive.

AMONG the sentiments which almost every man changes as he advances into years, is the expectation of uniformity of character. He that without acquaintance with the power of desire, the cogency of distress, the complica­tions of affairs, or the force of particular in­fluence, has filled his mind with the excel­lence of virtue; he who having never tried his resolution in any encounters with hope or fear, believes it able to stand firm whatever shall oppose it, will be always clamorous a­gainst the smallest failure, ready to exact the utmost punctualities of right, and to consider [Page 291] every man that fails in any part of his duty, as without conscience and without merit; un­worthy of trust, or love, or pity, or regard; as an enemy whom all should join to drive out of society, as a pest which all should avoid, or as a weed which all should trample.

IT is not but by experience, that we are taught the possibility of retaining some vir­tues, and rejecting others, or of being good or bad to a particular degree. For it is very easy to the solitary reasoner to prove that the same arguments by which the mind is fortifi­ed against one crime are of equal force against all, and the consequence very naturally fol­lows, that he whom they fail to move on any occasion, has either never considered them, or has by some fallacy taught himself to evade their validity; and that, therefore, when a man is known to be guilty of one crime, no farther evidence is needful of his depravity and corruption.

YET such is the state of all mortal virtue, that it is always uncertain and variable, some­times extending to the whole compass of du­ty, and sometimes shrinking into a narrow space, and fortifying only a few avenues of [Page 292] the heart, while all the rest is left open to the incursions of appetite, or given up to the do­minion of wickedness. Nothing therefore is more unjust than to judge of man by too short an acquintance, and too slight inspection; for it often happens, that in the loose, and thoughtless, and dissipated, there is a secret ra­dical worth, which may shoot out by proper cultivation; that the spark of heaven, though dimmed and obstructed, is yet not extinguished, but may by the breath of counsel and exhorta­tion be kindled into flame.

TO imagine that every one who is not com­pletely good is irrecoverably abandoned, is to suppose that all are capable of the same degrees of excellence; it is indeed to exact, from all, that prefection which none ever can attain. And since the purest virtue is consistent with some vice, and the virtue of the greatest number with almost an equal proportion of contrary qualities, let none too hastily con­clude that all goodness is lost, though it may for a time be clouded and overwhelmed; for most minds are the slaves of external cir­cumstances, and conform to any hand that undertakes to mould them, roll down any torrent of custom in which they happen to [Page 293] be caught, or bend to any importunity that bears hard against them.

IT may be particularly observed of women, that they are for the most part good or bad, as they fall among those who practice vice or virtue; and that neither education nor reason gives them much security against the influence of example. Whether it be that thay have less courage to stand against opposition, or that their desire of admiration makes them sacrifice their principles to the poor pleasure of worthless praise, it is certain, whatever be the cause, that female goodness seldom keeps its ground against laughter, flattery, or fashion.

FOR this reason, every one should consider himself as entrusted, not only with his own conduct, but with that of others; and as ac­countable, not only for the duties which he neglects, or the crimes that he commits, but for that negligence and irregularity which he may encourage or inculcate. Every man, in whatever station, has, or endeavours to have his followers, admirers, and imitators; has therefore the influence of his example to watch with care; he ought to avoid not only crimes but the appearance of crimes, and not [Page 294] only to practise virtue, but to applaud, coun­tenance, and support it. For it is possible that for want of attention we may teach others faults from which ourselves are free, or by a heedless negligence or cowardly desertion of a good cause, which we ourselves approve, may alienate those who fix their eyes upon us, and who, having no certain rule of their own to guide their course in the ocean of the world, are easily confounded by the aberrations of that example which they chuse for their direc­tion.


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