Part 7 out of 9
extorted by inevitable misery, no man has a right to repine at evils
which, against warning, against experience, he deliberately and
leisurely brings upon his own head; or to consider himself as debarred
from happiness by such obstacles as resolution may break or dexterity
may put aside.
Great numbers who quarrel with their condition, have wanted not the
power but the will to obtain a better state. They have never
contemplated the difference between good and evil sufficiently to
quicken aversion, or invigorate desire; they have indulged a drowsy
thoughtlessness or giddy levity; have committed the balance of choice to
the management of caprice; and when they have long accustomed themselves
to receive all that chance offered them, without examination, lament at
last that they find themselves deceived.
No. 179. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 1751.
_Perpetuo risu pulmonem agitare solebat_. JUV. Sat. x. 33.
Democritus would feed his spleen, and shake
His sides and shoulders till he felt them ake. DRYDEN
Every man, says Tully, has two characters; one which he partakes with
all mankind, and by which he is distinguished from brute animals;
another which discriminates him from the rest of his own species, and
impresses on him a manner and temper peculiar to himself; this
particular character, if it be not repugnant to the laws of general
humanity, it is always his business to cultivate and preserve.
Every hour furnishes some confirmation of Tully's precept. It seldom
happens, that an assembly of pleasure is so happily selected, but that
some one finds admission, with whom the rest are deservedly offended;
and it will appear, on a close inspection, that scarce any man becomes
eminently disagreeable, but by a departure from his real character, and
an attempt at something for which nature or education have left him
Ignorance or dulness have indeed no power of affording delight, but they
never give disgust except when they assume the dignity of knowledge, or
ape the sprightliness of wit. Awkwardness and inelegance have none of
those attractions by which ease and politeness take possession of the
heart; but ridicule and censure seldom rise against them, unless they
appear associated with that confidence which belongs only to long
acquaintance with the modes of life, and to consciousness of unfailing
propriety of behaviour. Deformity itself is regarded with tenderness
rather than aversion, when it does not attempt to deceive the sight by
dress and decoration, and to seize upon fictitious claims the
prerogatives of beauty.
He that stands to contemplate the crowds that fill the streets of a
populous city, will see many passengers whose air and motion it will be
difficult to behold without contempt and laughter; but if he examines
what are the appearances that thus powerfully excite his risibility, he
will find among them neither poverty nor disease, nor any involuntary or
painful defect. The disposition to derision and insult is awakened by
the softness of foppery, the swell of insolence, the liveliness of
levity, or the solemnity of grandeur; by the sprightly trip, the stately
stalk, the formal strut, the lofty mien; by gestures intended to catch
the eye, and by looks elaborately formed as evidences of importance.
It, has, I think, been sometimes urged in favour of affectation, that it
is only a mistake of the means to a good end, and that the intention
with which it is practised is always to please. If all attempts to
innovate the constitutional or habitual character have really proceeded
from publick spirit and love of others, the world has hitherto been
sufficiently ungrateful, since no return but scorn has yet been made to
the most difficult of all enterprises, a contest with nature; nor has
any pity been shown to the fatigues of labour which never succeeded, and
the uneasiness of disguise by which nothing was concealed.
It seems therefore to be determined by the general suffrage of mankind,
that he who decks himself in adscititious qualities rather purposes to
command applause than impart pleasure: and he is therefore treated as a
man who, by an unreasonable ambition, usurps the place in society to
which he has no right. Praise is seldom paid with willingness even to
incontestable merit, and it can be no wonder that he who calls for it
without desert is repulsed with universal indignation.
Affectation naturally counterfeits those excellencies which are placed
at the greatest distance from possibility of attainment. We are
conscious of our own defects, and eagerly endeavour to supply them by
artificial excellence; nor would such efforts be wholly without excuse,
were they not often excited by ornamental trifles, which he, that thus
anxiously struggles for the reputation of possessing them, would not
have been known to want, had not his industry quickened observation.
Gelasimus passed the first part of his life in academical privacy and
rural retirement, without any other conversation than that of scholars,
grave, studious, and abstracted as himself. He cultivated the
mathematical sciences with indefatigable diligence, discovered many
useful theorems, discussed with great accuracy the resistance of fluids,
and, though his priority was not generally acknowledged, was the first
who fully explained all the properties of the catenarian curve.
Learning, when if rises to eminence, will be observed in time, whatever
mists may happen to surround it. Gelasimus, in his forty-ninth year, was
distinguished by those who have the rewards of knowledge in their hands,
and called out to display his acquisitions for the honour of his
country, and add dignity by his presence to philosophical assemblies. As
he did not suspect his unfitness for common affairs, he fell no
reluctance to obey the invitation, and what he did not feel he had yet
too much honesty to feign. He entered into the world as a larger and
more populous college, where his performances would be more publick, and
his renown farther extended; and imagined that he should find his
reputation universally prevalent, and the influence of learning every
where the same.
His merit introduced him to splendid tables and elegant acquaintance;
but he did not find himself always qualified to join in the
conversation. He was distressed by civilities, which he knew not how to
repay, and entangled in many ceremonial perplexities, from which his
books and diagrams could not extricate him. He was sometimes unluckily
engaged in disputes with ladies, with whom algebraick axioms had no
great weight, and saw many whose favour and esteem he could not but
desire, to whom he was very little recommended by his theories of the
tides, or his approximations to the quadrature of the circle.
Gelasimus did not want penetration to discover, that no charm was more
generally irresistible than that of easy facetiousness and flowing
hilarity. He saw that diversion was more frequently welcome than
improvement; that authority and seriousness were rather feared than
loved; and that the grave scholar was a kind of imperious ally, hastily
dismissed when his assistance was no longer necessary. He came to a
sudden resolution of throwing off those cumbrous ornaments of learning
which hindered his reception, and commenced a man of wit and jocularity.
Utterly unacquainted with every topick of merriment, ignorant of the
modes and follies, the vices and virtues of mankind, and unfurnished
with any ideas but such as Pappas and Archimedes had given him, he began
to silence all inquiries with a jest instead of a solution, extended his
face with a grin, which he mistook for a smile, and in the place of
scientifick discourse, retailed in a new language, formed between the
college and the tavern, the intelligence of the newspaper.
Laughter, he knew, was a token of alacrity; and, therefore, whatever he
said or heard, he was careful not to fail in that great duty of a wit.
If he asked or told the hour of the day, if he complained of heat or
cold, stirred the fire, or filled a glass, removed his chair, or snuffed
a candle, he always found some occasion to laugh. The jest was indeed a
secret to all but himself; but habitual confidence in his own
discernment hindered him from suspecting any weakness or mistake. He
wondered that his wit was so little understood, but expected that his
audience would comprehend it by degrees, and persisted all his life to
shew by gross buffoonery, how little the strongest faculties can perform
beyond the limits of their own province.
No. 180. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7, 1751.
[Greek: Taut eidos sophos isthi, mataen d' Epikouron eason
Poy to kenon zaetein, kai tines ai monades.] AUTOMEDON.
On life, on morals, be thy thoughts employ'd;
Leave to the schools their atoms and their void.
It is somewhere related by Le Clerc, that a wealthy trader of good
understanding, having the common ambition to breed his son a scholar,
carried him to an university, resolving to use his own judgment in the
choice of a tutor. He had been taught, by whatever intelligence, the
nearest way to the heart of an academick, and at his arrival entertained
all who came about him with such profusion, that the professors were
lured by the smell of his table from their books, and flocked round him
with all the cringes of awkward complaisance. This eagerness answered
the merchant's purpose: he glutted them with delicacies, and softened
them with caresses, till he prevailed upon one after another to open his
bosom, and make a discovery of his competitions, jealousies, and
resentments. Having thus learned each man's character, partly from
himself, and partly from his acquaintances, he resolved to find some
other education for his son, and went away convinced, that a scholastick
life has no other tendency than to vitiate the morals and contract the
understanding: nor would he afterwards hear with patience the praises of
the ancient authors, being persuaded that scholars of all ages must have
been the same, and that Xenophon and Cicero were professors of some
former university, and therefore mean and selfish, ignorant and servile,
like those whom he had lately visited and forsaken.
Envy, curiosity, and a sense of the imperfection of our present state,
incline us to estimate the advantages which are in the possession of
others above their real value. Every one must have remarked, what powers
and prerogatives the vulgar imagine to be conferred by learning. A man
of science is expected to excel the unlettered and unenlightened even on
occasions where literature is of no use, and among weak minds, loses
part of his reverence, by discovering no superiority in those parts of
life, in which all are unavoidably equal; as when a monarch makes a
progress to the remoter provinces, the rustics are said sometimes to
wonder that they find him of the same size with themselves.
These demands of prejudice and folly can never be satisfied; and
therefore many of the imputations which learning suffers from
disappointed ignorance, are without reproach. But there are some
failures, to which men of study are peculiarly exposed. Every condition
has its disadvantages. The circle of knowledge is too wide for the most
active and diligent intellect, and while science is pursued, other
accomplishments are neglected; as a small garrison must leave one part
of an extensive fortress naked, when an alarm calls them to another.
The learned, however, might generally support their dignity with more
success, if they suffered not themselves to be misled by the desire of
superfluous attainments. Raphael, in return to Adam's inquiries into the
courses of the stars, and the revolutions of heaven, counsels him to
withdraw his mind from idle speculations, and employ his faculties upon
nearer and more interesting objects, the survey of his own life, the
subjection of his passions, the knowledge of duties which must daily be
performed, and the detection of dangers which must daily be incurred.
This angelick counsel every man of letters should always have before
him. He that devotes himself to retired study naturally sinks from
omission to forgetfulness of social duties; he must be therefore
sometimes awakened and recalled to the general condition of mankind.
I am far from any intention to limit curiosity, or confine the labours
of learning to arts of immediate and necessary use. It is only from the
various essays of experimental industry, and the vague excursions of
minds sent out upon discovery, that any advancement of knowledge can be
expected; and, though many must be disappointed in their labours, yet
they are not to be charged with having spent their time in vain; their
example contributed to inspire emulation, and their miscarriages taught
others the way to success.
But the distant hope of being one day useful or eminent, ought not to
mislead us too far from that study which is equally requisite to the
great and mean, to the celebrated and obscure; the art of moderating the
desires, of repressing the appetites, and of conciliating or retaining
the favour of mankind.
No man can imagine the course of his own life, or the conduct of the
world around him, unworthy his attention; yet, among the sons of
learning, many seem to have thought of every thing rather than of
themselves, and to have observed every thing but what passes before
their eyes: many who toil through the intricacy of complicated systems,
are insuperably embarrassed with the least perplexity in common affairs;
many who compare the actions, and ascertain the characters of ancient
heroes, let their own days glide away without examination, and suffer
vicious habits to encroach upon their minds without resistance or
The most frequent reproach of the scholastick race is the want of
fortitude, not martial but philosophick. Men bred in shades and silence,
taught to immure themselves at sunset, and accustomed to no other weapon
than syllogism, may be allowed to feel terrour at personal danger, and
to be disconcerted by tumult and alarm. But why should he whose life is
spent in contemplation, and whose business is only to discover truth, be
unable to rectify the fallacies of imagination, or contend successfully
against prejudice and passion? To what end has he read and meditated, if
he gives up his understanding to false appearances, and suffers himself
to be enslaved by fear of evils to which only folly or vanity can expose
him, or elated by advantages to which, as they are equally conferred
upon the good and bad, no real dignity is annexed.
Such, however, is the state of the world, that the most obsequious of
the slaves of pride, the most rapturous of the gazers upon wealth, the
most officious of the whisperers of greatness, are collected from
seminaries appropriated to the study of wisdom and of virtue, where it
was intended that appetite should learn to be content with little, and
that hope should aspire only to honours which no human power can give or
The student, when he comes forth into the world, instead of
congratulating himself upon his exemption from the errours of those
whose opinions have been formed by accident or custom, and who live
without any certain principles of conduct, is commonly in haste to
mingle with the multitude, and shew his sprightliness and ductility by
an expeditious compliance with fashions or vices. The first smile of a
man, whose fortune gives him power to reward his dependants, commonly
enchants him beyond resistance; the glare of equipage, the sweets of
luxury, the liberality of general promises, the softness of habitual
affability, fill his imagination; and he soon ceases to have any other
wish than to be well received, or any measure of right and wrong but the
opinion of his patron.
A man flattered and obeyed, learns to exact grosser adulation, and
enjoin lower submission. Neither our virtues nor vices are all our own.
If there were no cowardice, there would be little insolence; pride
cannot rise to any great degree, but by the concurrence of blandishment
or the sufferance of tameness. The wretch who would shrink and crouch
before one that should dart his eyes upon him with the spirit of natural
equality, becomes capricious and tyrannical when he sees himself
approached with a downcast look, and hears the soft address of awe and
servility. To those who are willing to purchase favour by cringes and
compliance, is to be imputed the haughtiness that leaves nothing to be
hoped by firmness and integrity.
If, instead of wandering after the meteors of philosophy, which fill the
world with splendour for a while, and then sink and are forgotten, the
candidates of learning fixed their eyes upon the permanent lustre of
moral and religious truth, they would find a more certain direction to
happiness. A little plausibility of discourse, and acquaintance with
unnecessary speculations, is dearly purchased, when it excludes those
instructions which fortify the heart with resolution, and exalt the
spirit to independence.
[Footnote j: "Such are a sort of sacrilegious ministers in the temple of
intellect. They profane its shew-bread to pamper the palate, its
everlasting lamp they use to light unholy fires within their breast, and
show them the way to the sensual chambers of sense and worldliness."
No. 181. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10, 1751.
_--Neu fluitem dubue spe pendulus horae_. HOR. Lib. i. Ep. xviii. 110.
Nor let me float in fortune's pow'r,
Dependent on the future hour. FRANCIS.
TO THE RAMBLER.
As I have passed much of my life in disquiet and suspense, and lost many
opportunities of advantage by a passion which I have reason to believe
prevalent in different degrees over a great part of mankind, I cannot
but think myself well qualified to warn those who are yet uncaptivated,
of the danger which they incur by placing themselves within its
I served an apprenticeship to a linen-draper, with uncommon reputation
for diligence and fidelity; and at the age of three-and-twenty opened a
shop for myself with a large stock, and such credit among all the
merchants, who were acquainted with my master, that I could command
whatever was imported curious or valuable. For five years I proceeded
with success proportionate to close application and untainted integrity;
was a daring bidder at every sale; always paid my notes before they were
due; and advanced so fast in commercial reputation, that I was
proverbially marked out as the model of young traders, and every one
expected that a few years would make me an alderman.
In this course of even prosperity, I was one day persuaded to buy a
ticket in the lottery. The sum was inconsiderable, part was to be repaid
though fortune might fail to favour me, and therefore my established
maxims of frugality did not restrain me from so trifling an experiment.
The ticket lay almost forgotten till the time at which every man's fate
was to be determined; nor did the affair even then seem of any
importance, till I discovered by the publick papers that the number next
to mine had conferred the great prize.
My heart leaped at the thought of such an approach to sudden riches,
which I considered myself, however contrarily to the laws of
computation, as having missed by a single chance; and I could not
forbear to revolve the consequences which such a bounteous allotment
would have produced, if it had happened to me. This dream of felicity,
by degrees, took possession of my imagination. The great delight of my
solitary hours was to purchase an estate, and form plantations with
money which once might have been mine, and I never met my friends but I
spoiled all their merriment by perpetual complaints of my ill luck.
At length another lottery was opened, and I had now so heated my
imagination with the prospect of a prize, that I should have pressed
among the first purchasers, had not my ardour been withheld by
deliberation upon the probability of success from one ticket rather than
another. I hesitated long between even and odd; considered the square
and cubick numbers through the lottery; examined all those to which good
luck had been hitherto annexed; and at last fixed upon one, which, by
some secret relation to the events of my life, I thought predestined to
make me happy. Delay in great affairs is often mischievous; the ticket
was sold, and its possessor could not be found.
I returned to my conjectures, and after many arts of prognostication,
fixed upon another chance, but with less confidence. Never did captive,
heir, or lover, feel so much vexation from the slow pace of time, as I
suffered between the purchase of my ticket and the distribution of the
prizes. I solaced my uneasiness as well as I could, by frequent
contemplation of approaching happiness; when the sun rose I knew it
would set, and congratulated myself at night that I was so much nearer
to my wishes. At last the day came, my ticket appeared, and rewarded all
my care and sagacity with a despicable prize of fifty pounds.
My friends, who honestly rejoiced upon my success, were very coldly
received; I hid myself a fortnight in the country, that my chagrin might
fume away without observation, and then returning to my shop, began to
listen after another lottery.
With the news of a lottery I was soon gratified, and having now found
the vanity of conjecture, and inefficacy of computation, I resolved to
take the prize by violence, and therefore bought forty tickets, not
omitting, however, to divide them between the even and odd numbers, that
I might not miss the lucky class. Many conclusions did I form, and many
experiments did I try, to determine from which of those tickets I might
most reasonably expect riches. At last, being unable to satisfy myself
by any modes of reasoning, I wrote the numbers upon dice, and allotted
five hours every day to the amusement of throwing them in a garret; and,
examining the event by an exact register, found, on the evening before
the lottery was drawn, that one of my numbers had been turned up five
times more than any of the rest in three hundred and thirty thousand
This experiment was fallacious; the first day presented the hopeful
ticket, a detestable blank. The rest came out with different fortune,
and in conclusion I lost thirty pounds by this great adventure.
I had now wholly changed the cast of my behaviour and the conduct of my
life. The shop was for the most part abandoned to my servants, and if I
entered it, my thoughts were so engrossed by my tickets, that I scarcely
heard or answered a question, but considered every customer as an
intruder upon my meditations, whom I was in haste to despatch. I mistook
the price of my goods, committed blunders in my bills, forgot to file my
receipts, and neglected to regulate my books. My acquaintances by
degrees began to fall away; but I perceived the decline of my business
with little emotion, because whatever deficience there might be in my
gains, I expected the next lottery to supply.
Miscarriage naturally produces diffidence; I began now to seek
assistance against ill luck, by an alliance with those that had been
more successful. I inquired diligently at what office any prize had been
sold, that I might purchase of a propitious vender; solicited those who
had been fortunate in former lotteries, to partake with me in my new
tickets; and whenever I met with one that had in any event of his life
been eminently prosperous, I invited him to take a larger share. I had,
by this rule of conduct, so diffused my interest, that I had a fourth
part of fifteen tickets, an eighth of forty, and a sixteenth of ninety.
I waited for the decision of my fate with my former palpitations, and
looked upon the business of my trade with the usual neglect. The wheel
at last was turned, and its revolutions brought me a long succession of
sorrows and disappointments. I indeed often partook of a small prize,
and the loss of one day was generally balanced by the gain of the next;
but my desires yet remained unsatisfied, and when one of my chances had
failed, all my expectation was suspended on those which remained yet
undetermined. At last a prize of five thousand pounds was proclaimed; I
caught fire at the cry, and inquiring the number, found it to be one of
my own tickets, which I had divided among those on whose luck I
depended, and of which I had retained only a sixteenth part.
You will easily judge with what detestation of himself, a man thus
intent upon gain reflected that he had sold a prize which was once in
his possession. It was to no purpose, that I represented to my mind the
impossibility of recalling the past, or the folly of condemning an act,
which only its event, an event which no human intelligence could
foresee, proved to be wrong. The prize which, though put in my hands,
had been suffered to slip from me, filled me with anguish, and knowing
that complaint would only expose me to ridicule, I gave myself up
silently to grief, and lost by degrees my appetite and my rest.
My indisposition soon became visible; I was visited by my friends, and
among them by Eumathes, a clergyman, whose piety and learning gave him
such an ascendant over me, that I could not refuse to open my heart.
There are, said he, few minds sufficiently firm to be trusted in the
hands of chance. Whoever finds himself inclined to anticipate futurity,
and exalt possibility to certainty, should avoid every kind of casual
adventure, since his grief must be always proportionate to his hope. You
have long wasted that time, which, by a proper application, would have
certainly, though moderately, increased your fortune, in a laborious and
anxious pursuit of a species of gain, which no labour or anxiety, no art
or expedient, can secure or promote. You are now fretting away your life
in repentance of an act, against which repentance can give no caution,
but to avoid the occasion of committing it. Rouse from this lazy dream
of fortuitous riches, which, if obtained, you could scarcely have
enjoyed, because they could confer no consciousness of desert; return to
rational and manly industry, and consider the mere gift of luck as below
the care of a wise man.
No. 182. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14, 1751.
_--Dives qui fieri vult,
Et cilo vult fieri.--_ JUV. Sat. xiv. 176
The lust of wealth can never bear delay.
It has been observed in a late paper, that we are unreasonably desirous
to separate the goods of life from those evils which Providence has
connected with them, and to catch advantages without paying the price at
which they are offered us. Every man wishes to be rich, but very few
have the powers necessary to raise a sudden fortune, either by new
discoveries, or by superiority of skill, in any necessary employment;
and among lower understandings, many want the firmness and industry
requisite to regular gain and gradual acquisitions.
From the hope of enjoying affluence by methods more compendious than
those of labour, and more generally practicable than those of genius,
proceeds the common inclination to experiment and hazard, and that
willingness to snatch all opportunities of growing rich by chance,
which, when it has once taken possession of the mind, is seldom driven
out either by time or argument, but continues to waste life in perpetual
delusion, and generally ends in wretchedness and want.
The folly of untimely exultation and visionary prosperity, is by no
means peculiar to the purchasers of tickets; there are multitudes whose
life is nothing but a continual lottery; who are always within a few
months of plenty and happiness, and how often soever they are mocked
with blanks, expect a prize from the next adventure.
Among the most resolute and ardent of the votaries of chance, may be
numbered the mortals whose hope is to raise themselves by a wealthy
match; who lay out all their industry on the assiduities of courtship,
and sleep and wake with no other ideas than of treats, compliments,
guardians and rivals.
One of the most indefatigable of this class, is my old friend Leviculus,
whom I have never known for thirty years without some matrimonial
project of advantage. Leviculus was bred under a merchant, and by the
graces of his person, the sprightliness of his prattle, and the neatness
of his dress, so much enamoured his master's second daughter, a girl of
sixteen, that she declared her resolution to have no other husband. Her
father, after having chidden her for undutifulness, consented to the
match, not much to the satisfaction of Leviculus, who was sufficiently
elated with his conquest to think himself entitled to a larger fortune.
He was, however, soon rid of his perplexity, for his mistress died
before their marriage.
He was now so well satisfied with his own accomplishments, that he
determined to commence fortune-hunter; and when his apprenticeship
expired, instead of beginning, as was expected, to walk the Exchange
with a face of importance, or associating himself with those who were
most eminent for their knowledge of the stocks, he at once threw off the
solemnity of the counting-house, equipped himself with a modish wig,
listened to wits in coffee-houses, passed his evenings behind the scenes
in the theatres, learned the names of beauties of quality, hummed the
last stanzas of fashionable songs, talked with familiarity of high play,
boasted of his achievements upon drawers and coachmen, was often brought
to his lodgings at midnight in a chair, told with negligence and
jocularity of bilking a tailor, and now and then let fly a shrewd jest
at a sober citizen.
Thus furnished with irresistible artillery, he turned his batteries upon
the female world, and, in the first warmth of self-approbation, proposed
no less than the possession of riches and beauty united. He therefore
paid his civilities to Flavilla, the only daughter of a wealthy
shop-keeper, who not being accustomed to amorous blandishments, or
respectful addresses, was delighted with the novelty of love, and easily
suffered him to conduct her to the play, and to meet her where she
visited. Leviculus did not doubt but her father, however offended by a
clandestine marriage, would soon be reconciled by the tears of his
daughter, and the merit of his son-in-law, and was in haste to conclude
the affair. But the lady liked better to be courted than married, and
kept him three years in uncertainty and attendance. At last she fell in
love with a young ensign at a ball, and having danced with him all
night, married him in the morning.
Leviculus, to avoid the ridicule of his companions, took a journey to a
small estate in the country, where, after his usual inquiries concerning
the nymphs in the neighbourhood, he found it proper to fall in love with
Altilia, a maiden lady, twenty years older than himself, for whose
favour fifteen nephews and nieces were in perpetual contention. They
hovered round her with such jealous officiousness, as scarcely left a
moment vacant for a lover. Leviculus, nevertheless, discovered his
passion in a letter, and Altilia could not withstand the pleasure of
hearing vows and sighs, and flatteries and protestations. She admitted
his visits, enjoyed for five years the happiness of keeping all her
expectants in perpetual alarms, and amused herself with the various
stratagems which were practised to disengage her affections. Sometimes
she was advised with great earnestness to travel for her health, and
sometimes entreated to keep her brother's house. Many stories were
spread to the disadvantage of Leviculus, by which she commonly seemed
affected for a time, but took care soon afterwards to express her
conviction of their falsehood. But being at last satiated with this
ludicrous tyranny, she told her lover, when he pressed for the reward of
his services, that she was very sensible of his merit, but was resolved
not to impoverish an ancient family.
He then returned to the town, and soon after his arrival, became
acquainted with Latronia, a lady distinguished by the elegance of her
equipage, and the regularity of her conduct. Her wealth was evident in
her magnificence, and her prudence in her economy, and therefore
Leviculus, who had scarcely confidence to solicit her favour, readily
acquitted fortune of her former debts, when he found himself
distinguished by her with such marks of preference as a woman of modesty
is allowed to give. He now grew bolder, and ventured to breathe out his
impatience before her. She heard him without resentment, in time
permitted him to hope for happiness, and at last fixed the nuptial day,
without any distrustful reserve of pin-money, or sordid stipulations for
jointure, and settlements.
Leviculus was triumphing on the eve of marriage, when he heard on the
stairs the voice of Latronia's maid, whom frequent bribes had secured in
his service. She soon burst into his room, and told him that she could
not suffer him to be longer deceived; that her mistress was now spending
the last payment of her fortune, and was only supported in her expense
by the credit of his estate. Leviculus shuddered to see himself so near
a precipice, and found that he was indebted for his escape to the
resentment of the maid, who having assisted Latronia to gain the
conquest, quarrelled with her at last about the plunder.
Leviculus was now hopeless and disconsolate, till one Sunday he saw a
lady in the Mall, whom her dress declared a widow, and whom, by the
jolting prance of her gait, and the broad resplendence of her
countenance, he guessed to have lately buried some prosperous citizen.
He followed her home, and found her to be no less than the relict of
Prune the grocer, who, having no children, had bequeathed to her all his
debts and dues, and his estates real and personal. No formality was
necessary in addressing madam Prune, and therefore Leviculus went next
morning without an introductor. His declaration was received with a loud
laugh; she then collected her countenance, wondered at his impudence,
asked if he knew to whom he was talking, then shewed him the door, and
again laughed to find him confused. Leviculus discovered that this
coarseness was nothing more than the coquetry of Cornhill, and next day
returned to the attack. He soon grew familiar to her dialect, and in a
few weeks heard, without any emotion, hints of gay clothes with empty
pockets; concurred in many sage remarks on the regard due to people of
property; and agreed with her in detestation of the ladies at the other
end of the town, who pinched their bellies to buy fine laces, and then
pretended to laugh at the city.
He sometimes presumed to mention marriage; but was always answered with
a slap, a hoot, and a flounce. At last he began to press her closer, and
thought himself more favourably received; but going one morning, with a
resolution to trifle no longer, he found her gone to church with a young
journeyman from the neighbouring shop, of whom she had become enamoured
at her window.
In these, and a thousand intermediate adventures, has Leviculus spent
his time, till he is now grown grey with age, fatigue, and
disappointment. He begins at last to find that success is not to be
expected, and being unfit for any employment that might improve his
fortune, and unfurnished with any arts that might amuse his leisure, is
condemned to wear out a tasteless life in narratives which few will
hear, and complaints which none will pity.
No. 183. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1751.
_Nidla fides regni sociis, omnisque potestas
Impatiens consortis erit_. LUCAN. Lib. i. 92.
No faith of partnership dominion owns;
Still discord hovers o'er divided thrones.
The hostility perpetually exercised between one man and another, is
caused by the desire of many for that which only few can possess. Every
man would be rich, powerful, and famous; yet fame, power, and riches are
only the names of relative conditions, which imply the obscurity,
dependance, and poverty of greater numbers. This universal and incessant
competition produces injury and malice by two motives, interest and
envy; the prospect of adding to our possessions what we can take from
others, and the hope of alleviating the sense of our disparity by
lessening others, though we gain nothing to ourselves.
Of these two malignant and destructive powers, it seems probable at the
first view, that interest has the strongest and most extensive
influence. It is easy to conceive that opportunities to seize what has
been long wanted, may excite desires almost irresistible; but surely the
same eagerness cannot be kindled by an accidental power of destroying
that which gives happiness to another. It must be more natural to rob
for gain, than to ravage only for mischief.
Yet I am inclined to believe, that the great law of mutual benevolence
is oftener violated by envy than by interest, and that most of the
misery which the defamation of blameless actions, or the obstruction of
honest endeavours, brings upon the world, is inflicted by men that
propose no advantage to themselves but the satisfaction of poisoning the
banquet which they cannot taste, and blasting the harvest which they
have no right to reap.
Interest can diffuse itself but to a narrow compass. The number is never
large of those who can hope to fill the posts of degraded power, catch
the fragments of shattered fortune, or succeed to the honours of
depreciated beauty. But the empire of envy has no limits, as it requires
to its influence very little help from external circumstances. Envy may
always be produced by idleness and pride, and in what place will they
not be found?
Interest requires some qualities not universally bestowed. The ruin of
another will produce no profit to him who has not discernment to mark
his advantage, courage to seize, and activity to pursue it; but the cold
malignity of envy may be exerted in a torpid and quiescent state, amidst
the gloom of stupidity, in the coverts of cowardice. He that falls by
the attacks of interest, is torn by hungry tigers; he may discover and
resist his enemies. He that perishes in the ambushes of envy, is
destroyed by unknown and invisible assailants, and dies like a man
suffocated by a poisonous vapour, without knowledge of his danger, or
possibility of contest.
Interest is seldom pursued but at some hazard. He that hopes to gain
much, has commonly something to lose, and when he ventures to attack
superiority, if he fails to conquer, is irrecoverably crushed. But envy
may act without expense or danger. To spread suspicion, to invent
calumnies, to propagate scandal, requires neither labour nor courage. It
is easy for the author of a lie, however malignant, to escape detection,
and infamy needs very little industry to assist its circulation.
Envy is almost the only vice which is practicable at all times, and in
every place; the only passion which can never lie quiet for want of
irritation: its effects therefore are every where discoverable, and its
attempts always to be dreaded.
It is impossible to mention a name which any advantageous distinction
has made eminent, but some latent animosity will burst out. The wealthy
trader, however he may abstract himself from publick affairs, will never
want those who hint, with Shylock, that ships are but boards. The
beauty, adorned only with the unambitious graces of innocence and
modesty, provokes, whenever she appears, a thousand murmurs of
detraction. The genius, even when he endeavours only to entertain or
instruct, yet suffers persecution from innumerable criticks, whose
acrimony is excited merely by the pain of seeing others pleased, and of
hearing applauses which another enjoys.
The frequency of envy makes it so familiar, that it escapes our notice;
nor do we often reflect upon its turpitude or malignity, till we happen
to feel its influence. When he that has given no provocation to malice,
but by attempting to excel, finds himself pursued by multitudes whom he
never saw, with all the implacability of personal resentment; when he
perceives clamour and malice let loose upon him as a publick enemy, and
incited by every stratagem of defamation; when he hears the misfortunes
of his family, or the follies of his youth, exposed to the world; and
every failure of conduct, or defect of nature, aggravated and ridiculed;
he then learns to abhor those artifices at which he only laughed before,
and discovers how much the happiness of life would be advanced by the
eradication of envy from the human heart.
Envy is, indeed, a stubborn weed of the mind, and seldom yields to the
culture of philosophy. There are, however, considerations, which, if
carefully implanted and diligently propagated, might in time overpower
and repress it, since no one can nurse it for the sake of pleasure, as
its effects are only shame, anguish, and perturbation. It is above all
other vices inconsistent with the character of a social being, because
it sacrifices truth and kindness to very weak temptations. He that
plunders a wealthy neighbour gains as much as he takes away, and may
improve his own condition in the same proportion as he impairs
another's; but he that blasts a flourishing reputation, must be content
with a small dividend of additional fame, so small as can afford very
little consolation to balance the guilt by which it is obtained.
I have hitherto avoided that dangerous and empirical morality, which
cures one vice by means of another. But envy is so base and detestable,
so vile in its original, and so pernicious in its effects, that the
predominance of almost any other quality is to be preferred. It is one
of those lawless enemies of society, against which poisoned arrows may
honestly be used. Let it therefore be constantly remembered, that
whoever envies another, confesses his superiority, and let those be
reformed by their pride who have lost their virtue.
It is no slight aggravation of the injuries which envy incites, that
they are committed against those who have given no intentional
provocation; and that the sufferer is often marked out for ruin, not
because he has failed in any duty, but because he has dared to do more
than was required.
Almost every other crime is practised by the help of some quality which
might have produced esteem or love, if it had been well employed; but
envy is mere unmixed and genuine evil; it pursues a hateful end by
despicable means, and desires not so much its own happiness as another's
misery. To avoid depravity like this, it is not necessary that any one
should aspire to heroism or sanctity, but only that he should resolve
not to quit the rank which nature assigns him, and wish to maintain the
dignity of a human being.
No. 184. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21, 1751.
_Permittes ipsis expendere numinibus, quid
Conveniat nobis, rebusque sit utile nostris_. JUV. Sat. x. 347.
Intrust thy fortune to the pow'rs above;
Leave them to manage for thee, and to grant
What their unerring wisdom sees thee want. DRYDEN.
As every scheme of life, so every form of writing, has its advantages
and inconveniencies, though not mingled in the same proportions. The
writer of essays escapes many embarrassments to which a large work would
have exposed him; he seldom harasses his reason with long trains of
consequences, dims his eyes with the perusal of antiquated volumes, or
burthens his memory with great accumulations of preparatory knowledge. A
careless glance upon a favourite author, or transient survey of the
varieties of life, is sufficient to supply the first hint or seminal
idea, which, enlarged by the gradual accretion of matter stored in the
mind, is by the warmth of fancy easily expanded into flowers, and
sometimes ripened into fruit.
The most frequent difficulty by which the authors of these petty
compositions are distressed, arises from the perpetual demand of novelty
and change. The compiler of a system of science lays his invention at
rest, and employs only his judgment, the faculty exerted with least
fatigue. Even the relator of feigned adventures, when once the principal
characters are established, and the great events regularly connected,
finds incidents and episodes crowding upon his mind; every change opens
new views, and the latter part of the story grows without labour out of
the former. But he that attempts to entertain his reader with
unconnected pieces, finds the irksomeness of his task rather increased
than lessened by every production. The day calls afresh upon him for a
new topick, and he is again obliged to choose, without any principle to
regulate his choice.
It is indeed true, that there is seldom any necessity of looking far, or
inquiring long for a proper subject. Every diversity of art or nature,
every publick blessing or calamity, every domestick pain or
gratification, every sally of caprice, blunder of absurdity, or
stratagem of affectation, may supply matter to him whose only rule is to
avoid uniformity. But it often happens, that the judgment is distracted
with boundless multiplicity, the imagination ranges from one design to
another, and the hours pass imperceptibly away, till the composition can
be no longer delayed, and necessity enforces the use of those thoughts
which then happen to be at hand. The mind, rejoicing at deliverance on
any terms from perplexity and suspense, applies herself vigorously to
the work before her, collects embellishments and illustrations, and
sometimes finishes, with great elegance and happiness, what in a state
of ease and leisure she never had begun.
It is not commonly observed, how much, even of actions, considered as
particularly subject to choice, is to be attributed to accident, or some
cause out of our own power, by whatever name it be distinguished. To
close tedious deliberations with hasty resolves, and after long
consultations with reason to refer the question to caprice, is by no
means peculiar to the essayist. Let him that peruses this paper review
the series of his life, and inquire how he was placed in his present
condition. He will find, that of the good or ill which he has
experienced, a great part came unexpected, without any visible
gradations of approach; that every event has been influenced by causes
acting without his intervention; and that whenever he pretended to the
prerogative of foresight, he was mortified with new conviction of the
shortness of his views.
The busy, the ambitious, the inconstant, and the adventurous, may be
said to throw themselves by design into the arms of fortune, and
voluntarily to quit the power of governing themselves; they engage in a
course of life in which little can be ascertained by previous measures;
nor is it any wonder that their time is passed between elation and
despondency, hope and disappointment.
Some there are who appear to walk the road of life with more
circumspection, and make no step till they think themselves secure from
the hazard of a precipice, when neither pleasure nor profit can tempt
them from the beaten path; who refuse to climb lest they should fall, or
to run lest they should stumble, and move slowly forward without any
compliance with those passions by which the heady and vehement are
seduced and betrayed.
Yet even the timorous prudence of this judicious class is far from
exempting them from the dominion of chance, a subtle and insidious
power, who will intrude upon privacy and embarrass caution. No course of
life is so prescribed and limited, but that many actions must result
from arbitrary election. Every one must form the general plan of his
conduct by his own reflections; he must resolve whether he will
endeavour at riches or at content; whether he will exercise private or
publick virtues; whether he will labour for the general benefit of
mankind, or contract his beneficence to his family and dependants.
This question has long exercised the schools of philosophy, but remains
yet undecided; and what hope is there that a young man, unacquainted
with the arguments on either side, should determine his own destiny
otherwise than by chance?
When chance has given him a partner of his bed, whom he prefers to all
other women, without any proof of superior desert, chance must again
direct him in the education of his children; for, who was ever able to
convince himself by arguments, that he had chosen for his son that mode
of instruction to which his understanding was best adapted, or by which
he would most easily be made wise or virtuous?
Whoever shall inquire by what motives he was determined on these
important occasions, will find them such as his pride will scarcely
suffer him to confess; some sudden ardour of desire, some uncertain
glimpse of advantage, some petty competition, some inaccurate
conclusion, or some example implicitly reverenced. Such are often the
first causes of our resolves; for it is necessary to act, but impossible
to know the consequences of action, or to discuss all the reasons which
offer themselves on every part to inquisitiveness and solicitude.
Since life itself is uncertain, nothing which has life for its basis can
boast much stability. Yet this is but a small part of our perplexity. We
set out on a tempestuous sea in quest of some port, where we expect to
find rest, but where we are not sure of admission, we are not only in
danger of sinking in the way, but of being misled by meteors mistaken
for stars, of being driven from our course by the changes of the wind,
and of losing it by unskilful steerage; yet it sometimes happens, that
cross winds blow us to a safer coast, that meteors draw us aside from
whirlpools, and that negligence or errour contributes to our escape from
mischiefs to which a direct course would have exposed us. Of those that,
by precipitate conclusions, involve themselves in calamities without
guilt, very few, however they may reproach themselves, can be certain
that other measures would have been more successful.
In this state of universal uncertainty, where a thousand dangers hover
about us, and none can tell whether the good that he pursues is not evil
in disguise, or whether the next step will lead him to safety or
destruction, nothing can afford any rational tranquillity, but the
conviction that, however we amuse ourselves with unideal sounds, nothing
in reality is governed by chance, but that the universe is under the
perpetual superintendance of Him who created it; that our being is in
the hands of omnipotent Goodness, by whom what appears casual to us, is
directed for ends ultimately kind and merciful; and that nothing can
finally hurt him who debars not himself from the Divine favour.
No. 185. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 24, 1751.
_At vindicta bonum vita jucundius ipsa,
Nempe hoc indocti.--
Chrysippus non dicet idem, nec mite Thaletis
Ingenium, dulcique senex vicinus Hymetto,
Qui partem adceptae saeva inter vincla Cicutae
Adcusatori nollet dare.--
Semper et infirmi est animi exiguique voluptas
Ultio_. JUV. Sat. xiii. 180.
_But O! revenge is sweet_.
Thus think the crowd; who, eager to engage,
Take quickly fire, and kindle into rage.
Not so mild Thales nor Chrysippus thought,
Nor that good man, who drank the poisonous draught.
With mind serene; and could not wish to see
His vile accuser drink as deep as he:
Exalted Socrates! divinely brave!
Injur'd he fell, and dying he forgave!
Too noble for revenge; which still we find
The weakest frailty of a feeble mind. DRYDEN.
No vicious dispositions of the mind more obstinately resist both the
counsels of philosophy and the injunctions of religion, than those which
are complicated with an opinion of dignity; and which we cannot dismiss
without leaving in the hands of opposition some advantage iniquitously
obtained, or suffering from our own prejudices some imputation of
For this reason scarcely any law of our Redeemer is more openly
transgressed, or more industriously evaded, than that by which he
commands his followers to forgive injuries, and prohibits, under the
sanction of eternal misery, the gratification of the desire which every
man feels to return pain upon him that inflicts it. Many who could have
conquered their anger, are unable to combat pride, and pursue offences
to extremity of vengeance, lest they should be insulted by the triumph
of an enemy.
But certainly no precept could better become him, at whose birth _peace_
was proclaimed _to the earth_. For, what would so soon destroy all the
order of society, and deform life with violence and ravage, as a
permission to every one to judge his own cause, and to apportion his own
recompense for imagined injuries?
It is difficult for a man of the strictest justice not to favour himself
too much, in the calmest moments of solitary meditation. Every one
wishes for the distinctions for which thousands are wishing at the same
time, in their own opinion, with better claims. He that, when his reason
operates in its full force, can thus, by the mere prevalence of
self-love, prefer himself to his fellow-beings, is very unlikely to
judge equitably when his passions are agitated by a sense of wrong, and
his attention wholly engrossed by pain, interest, or danger. Whoever
arrogates, to himself the right of vengeance, shews how little he is
qualified to decide his own claims, since he certainly demands what he
would think unfit to be granted to another.
Nothing is more apparent than that, however injured, or however
provoked, some must at last be contented to forgive. For it can never be
hoped, that he who first commits an injury, will contentedly acquiesce
in the penalty required: the same haughtiness of contempt, or vehemence
of desire, that prompt the act of injustice, will more strongly incite
its justification; and resentment can never so exactly balance the
punishment with the fault, but there will remain an overplus of
vengeance which even he who condemns his first action will think himself
entitled to retaliate. What then can ensue but a continual exacerbation
of hatred, an unextinguishable feud, an incessant reciprocation of
mischief, a mutual vigilance to entrap, and eagerness to destroy.
Since then the imaginary right of vengeance must be at last remitted,
because it is impossible to live in perpetual hostility, and equally
impossible that of two enemies, either should first think himself
obliged by justice to submission, it is surely eligible to forgive
early. Every passion is more easily subdued before it has been long
accustomed to possession of the heart; every idea is obliterated with
less difficulty, as it has been more slightly impressed, and less
frequently renewed. He who has often brooded over his wrongs, pleased
himself with schemes of malignity, and glutted his pride with the
fancied supplications of humbled enmity, will not easily open his bosom
to amity and reconciliation, or indulge the gentle sentiments of
benevolence and peace.
It is easiest to forgive, while there is yet little to be forgiven. A
single injury may be soon dismissed from the memory; but a long
succession of ill offices by degrees associates itself with every idea;
a long contest involves so many circumstances, that every place and
action will recall it to the mind, and fresh remembrance of vexation
must still enkindle rage, and irritate revenge.
A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows the true value
of time, and will not suffer it to pass away in unnecessary pain. He
that willingly suffers the corrosions of inveterate hatred, and gives up
his days and nights to the gloom of malice, and perturbations of
stratagem, cannot surely be said to consult his ease. Resentment is an
union of sorrow with malignity, a combination of a passion which all
endeavour to avoid, with a passion which all concur to detest. The man
who retires to meditate mischief, and to exasperate his own rage; whose
thoughts are employed only on means of distress and contrivances of
ruin; whose mind never pauses from the remembrance of his own
sufferings, but to indulge some hope of enjoying the calamities of
another, may justly be numbered among the most miserable of human
beings, among those who are guilty without reward, who have neither the
gladness of prosperity, nor the calm of innocence.
Whoever considers the weakness both of himself and others, will not long
want persuasives to forgiveness. We know not to what degree of malignity
any injury is to be imputed; or how much its guilt, if we were to
inspect the mind of him that committed it, would be extenuated by
mistake, precipitance, or negligence; we cannot be certain how much more
we feel than was intended to be inflicted, or how much we increase the
mischief to ourselves by voluntary aggravations. We may charge to design
the effects of accident; we may think the blow violent only because we
have made ourselves delicate and tender; we are on every side in danger
of errour and of guilt; which we are certain to avoid only by speedy
From this pacifick and harmless temper, thus propitious to others and
ourselves, to domestick tranquillity and to social happiness, no man is
withheld but by pride, by the fear of being insulted by his adversary,
or despised by the world.
It may be laid down as an unfailing and universal axiom, that "all pride
is abject and mean." It is always an ignorant, lazy, or cowardly
acquiescence in a false appearance of excellence, and proceeds not from
consciousness of our attainments, but insensibility of our wants.
Nothing can be great which is not right. Nothing which reason condemns
can be suitable to the dignity of the human mind. To be driven by
external motives from the path which our own heart approves, to give way
to any thing but conviction, to suffer the opinion of others to rule our
choice, or overpower our resolves, is to submit tamely to the lowest and
most ignominious slavery, and to resign the right of directing our own
The utmost excellence at which humanity can arrive, is a constant and
determinate pursuit of virtue, without regard to present dangers or
advantage; a continual reference of every action to the divine will; an
habitual appeal to everlasting justice; and an unvaried elevation of the
intellectual eye to the reward which perseverance only can obtain. But
that pride which many, who presume to boast of generous sentiments,
allow to regulate their measures, has nothing nobler in view than the
approbation of men, of beings whose superiority we are under no
obligation to acknowledge, and who, when we have courted them with the
utmost assiduity, can confer no valuable or permanent reward; of beings
who ignorantly judge of what they do not understand, or partially
determine what they never have examined; and whose sentence is therefore
of no weight till it has received the ratification of our own
He that can descend to bribe suffrages like these, at the price of his
innocence; he that can suffer the delight of such acclamations to
withhold his attention from the commands of the universal Sovereign, has
little reason to congratulate himself upon the greatness of his mind;
whenever he awakes to seriousness and reflection, he must become
despicable in his own eyes, and shrink with shame from the remembrance
of his cowardice and folly.
Of him that hopes to be forgiven, it is indispensably required that he
forgive. It is therefore superfluous to urge any other motive. On this
great duty eternity is suspended, and to him that refuses to practise
it, the Throne of mercy is inaccessible, and the Saviour of the world
has been born in vain.
No. 186. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28, 1751.
_Pone me, pigris ubi nulla campis
Arbor aestica recreatur aura--
Dulce ridentem Lalagen amabo,
Dulce loquentem_. HOR. Lib. i. Ode xxii. 17.
Place me where never summer breeze
Unbinds the glebe, or warms the trees;
Where ever lowering clouds appear,
And angry Jove deforms th' inclement year:
Love and the nymph shall charm my toils,
The nymph, who sweetly speaks and sweetly smiles. FRANCIS.
Of the happiness and misery of our present state, part arises from our
sensations, and part from our opinions; part is distributed by nature,
and part is in a great measure apportioned by ourselves. Positive
pleasure we cannot always obtain, and positive pain we often cannot
remove. No man can give to his own plantations the fragrance of the
Indian groves; nor will any precepts of philosophy enable him to
withdraw his attention from wounds or diseases. But the negative
infelicity which proceeds, not from the pressure of sufferings, but the
absence of enjoyments, will always yield to the remedies of reason.
One of the great arts of escaping superfluous uneasiness, is to free our
minds from the habit of comparing our condition with that of others on
whom the blessings of life are more bountifully bestowed, or with
imaginary states of delight and security, perhaps unattainable by
mortals. Few are placed in a situation so gloomy and distressful, as not
to see every day beings yet more forlorn and miserable, from whom they
may learn to rejoice in their own lot.
No inconvenience is less superable by art or diligence than the
inclemency of climates, and therefore none affords more proper exercise
for this philosophical abstraction. A native of England, pinched with
the frosts of December, may lessen his affection for his own country by
suffering his imagination to wander in the vales of Asia, and sport
among the woods that are always green, and streams that always murmur;
but if he turns his thought towards the polar regions, and considers the
nations to whom a great portion of the year is darkness, and who are
condemned to pass weeks and months amidst mountains of snow, he will
soon recover his tranquillity, and, while he stirs his fire, or throws
his cloak about him, reflect how much he owes to Providence, that he is
not placed in Greenland or Siberia.
The barrenness of the earth and the severity of the skies in these
dreary countries, are such as might be expected to confine the mind
wholly to the contemplation of necessity and distress, so that the care
of escaping death from cold and hunger, should leave no room for those
passions which, in lands of plenty, influence conduct, or diversify
characters; the summer should be spent only in providing for the winter,
and the winter in longing for the summer.
Yet learned curiosity is known to have found its way into these abodes
of poverty and gloom: Lapland and Iceland have their historians, their
criticks, and their poets; and love, that extends his dominion wherever
humanity can be found, perhaps exerts the same power in the
Greenlander's hut as in the palaces of eastern monarchs.
In one of the large caves to which the families of Greenland retire
together, to pass the cold months, and which may be termed their
villages or cities, a youth and maid, who came from different parts of
the country, were so much distinguished for their beauty, that they were
called by the rest of the inhabitants Anningait and Ajut, from a
supposed resemblance to their ancestors of the same names, who had been
transformed of old into the sun and moon.
Anningait for some time heard the praises of Ajut with little emotion,
but at last, by frequent interviews, became sensible of her charms, and
first made a discovery of his affection, by inviting her with her
parents to a feast, where he placed before Ajut the tail of a whale.
Ajut seemed not much delighted by this gallantry; yet, however, from
that time was observed rarely to appear, but in a vest made of the skin
of a white deer; she used frequently to renew the black dye upon her
hands and forehead, to adorn her sleeves with coral and shells, and to
braid her hair with great exactness.
The elegance of her dress, and the judicious disposition of her
ornaments, had such an effect upon Anningait, that he could no longer be
restrained from a declaration of his love. He therefore composed a poem
in her praise, in which, among other heroick and tender sentiments, he
protested, that "she was beautiful as the vernal willow, and fragrant as
the thyme upon the mountains; that her fingers were white as the teeth
of the morse, and her smile grateful as the dissolution of the ice; that
he would pursue her, though she should pass the snows of the midland
cliffs, or seek shelter in the caves of the eastern cannibals: that he
would tear her from the embraces of the genius of the rocks, snatch her
from the paws of Amarock, and rescue her from the ravine of Hafgufa." He
concluded with a wish, that "whoever shall attempt to hinder his union
with Ajut, might be buried without his bow, and that, in the land of
souls, his skull might serve for no other use than to catch the
droppings of the starry lamps."
This ode being universally applauded, it was expected that Ajut would
soon yield to such fervour and accomplishments; but Ajut, with the
natural haughtiness of beauty, expected all the forms of courtship; and
before she would confess herself conquered, the sun returned, the ice
broke, and the season of labour called all to their employments.
Anningait and Ajut for a time always went out in the same boat, and
divided whatever was caught. Anningait, in the sight of his mistress,
lost no opportunity of signalizing his courage: he attacked the
sea-horses on the ice; pursued the seals into the water, and leaped upon
the back of the whale, while he was yet struggling with the remains of
life. Nor was his diligence less to accumulate all that could be
necessary to make winter comfortable: he dried the roe of fishes and the
flesh of seals; he entrapped deer and foxes, and dressed their skins to
adorn his bride; he feasted her with eggs from the rocks, and strewed her
tent with flowers.
It happened that a tempest drove the fish to a distant part of the
coast, before Anningait had completed his store; he therefore entreated
Ajut, that she would at last grant him her hand, and accompany him to
that part of the country whither he was now summoned by necessity. Ajut
thought him not yet entitled to such condescension, but proposed, as a
trial of his constancy, that he should return at the end of summer to
the cavern where their acquaintance commenced, and there expect the
reward of his assiduities. "O virgin, beautiful as the sun shining on
the water, consider," said Anningait, "what thou hast required. How
easily may my return be precluded by a sudden frost or unexpected fogs!
then must the night be passed without my Ajut. We live not, my fair, in
those fabled countries, which lying strangers so wantonly describe;
where the whole year is divided into short days and nights; where the
same habitation serves for summer and winter; where they raise houses in
rows above the ground, dwell together from year to year, with flocks of
tame animals grazing in the fields about them; can travel at any time
from one place to another, through ways inclosed with trees, or over
walls raised upon the inland waters; and direct their course through
wide countries by the sight of green hills or scattered buildings. Even
in summer we have no means of crossing the mountains, whose snows are
never dissolved; nor can remove to any distant residence, but in our
boats coasting the bays. Consider, Ajut, a few summer-days, and a few
winter-nights, and the life of man is at an end. Night is the time of
ease and festivity, of revels and gaiety; but what will be the flaming
lamp, the delicious seal, or the soft oil, without the smile of Ajut?"
The eloquence of Anningait was vain; the maid continued inexorable, and
they parted with ardent promises to meet again before the night of
No. 187. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 1751.
_Non illum nostri possunt mutare labores;
Non si frigoribus mediis Hebrunique bibamus,
Sithoniasque nives hyemis subeamus aquosae:--
Ominia vincit amor. Vinc. Ec. x. 64_.
Love alters not for us his hard decrees,
Not though beneath the Thracian clime we freeze,
Or the mild bliss of temperate skies forego,
And in raid winter tread Sithonian snow:--
Love conquers all.--DRYDEN.
Anningait, however discomposed by the dilatory coyness of Ajut, was yet
resolved to omit no tokens of amorous respect; and therefore presented
her at his departure with the skins of seven white fawns, of five swans
and eleven seals, with three marble lamps, ten vessels of seal oil, and
a large kettle of brass, which he had purchased from a ship, at the
price of half a whale, and two horns of sea-unicorns.
Ajut was so much affected by the fondness of her lover, or so much
overpowered by his magnificence, that she followed him to the sea-side;
and, when she saw him enter the boat, wished aloud, that he might return
with plenty of skins and oil; that neither the mermaids might snatch him
into the deeps, nor the spirits of the rocks confine him in their
She stood a while to gaze upon the departing vessel, and then returning
to her hut, silent and dejected, laid aside, from that hour, her white
deer skin, suffered her hair to spread unbraided on her shoulders, and
forbore to mix in the dances of the maidens. She endeavoured to divert
her thoughts, by continual application to feminine employments, gathered
moss for the winter lamps, and dried grass to line the boots of
Anningait. Of the skins which he had bestowed upon her, she made a
fishing-coat, a small boat, and tent, all of exquisite manufacture; and
while she was thus busied, solaced her labours with a song, in which she
prayed, "that her lover might have hands stronger than the paws of the
bear, and feet swifter than the feet of the reindeer; that his dart
might never err, and that his boat might never leak; that he might never
stumble on the ice, nor faint in the water; that the seal might rush on
his harpoon, and the wounded whale might dash the waves in vain."
The large boats in which the Greenlanders transport their families, are
always rowed by women; for a man will not debase himself by work, which
requires neither skill nor courage. Anningait was therefore exposed by
idleness to the ravages of passion. He went thrice to the stern of the
boat, with an intent to leap into the water, and swim back to his
mistress; but, recollecting the misery which they must endure in the
winter, without oil for the lamp, or skins for the bed, he resolved to
employ the weeks of absence in provision for a night of plenty and
felicity. He then composed his emotions as he could, and expressed, in
wild numbers and uncouth images, his hopes, his sorrows, and his fears.
"O life!" says he, "frail and uncertain! where shall wretched man find
thy resemblance, but in ice floating on the ocean? It towers on high, it
sparkles from afar, while the storms drive and the waters beat it, the
sun melts it above, and the rocks shatter it below. What art thou,
deceitful pleasure! but a sudden blaze streaming from the north, which
plays a moment on the eye, mocks the traveller with the hopes of light,
and then vanishes for ever? What, love, art thou but a whirlpool, which
we approach without knowledge of our danger, drawn on by imperceptible
degrees, till we have lost all power of resistance and escape? Till I
fixed my eyes on the graces of Ajut, while I had not yet called her to
the banquet, I was careless as the sleeping morse, was merry as the
singers in the stars. Why, Ajut, did I gaze upon thy graces? why, my
fair, did I call thee to the banquet? Yet, be faithful, my love,
remember Anningait, and meet my return with the smile of virginity. I
will chase the deer, I will subdue the whale, resistless as the frost of
darkness, and unwearied as the summer sun. In a few weeks I shall return
prosperous and wealthy; then shall the roe-fish and the porpoise feast
thy kindred; the fox and hare shall cover thy couch; the tough hide of
the seal shall shelter thee from cold; and the fat of the whale
illuminate thy dwelling."
Anningait having with these sentiments consoled his grief, and animated
his industry, found that they had now coasted the headland, and saw the
whales spouting at a distance. He therefore placed himself in his
fishing-boat, called his associates to their several employments, plied
his oar and harpoon with incredible courage and dexterity; and, by
dividing his time between the chace and fishery, suspended the miseries
of absence and suspicion.
Ajut, in the mean time, notwithstanding her neglected dress, happened,
as she was drying some skins in the sun, to catch the eye of Norngsuk,
on his return from hunting. Norngsuk was of birth truly illustrious. His
mother had died in child-birth, and his father, the most expert fisher
of Greenland, had perished by too close pursuit of the whale. His
dignity was equalled by his riches; he was master of four men's and two
women's boats, had ninety tubs of oil in his winter habitation, and
five-and-twenty seals buried in the snow against the season of darkness.
When he saw the beauty of Ajut, he immediately threw over her the skin
of a deer that he had taken, and soon after presented her with a branch
of coral. Ajut refused his gifts, and determined to admit no lover in
the place of Anningait.
Norngsuk, thus rejected, had recourse to stratagem. He knew that Ajut
would consult an Angekkok, or diviner, concerning the fate of her lover,
and the felicity of her future life. He therefore applied himself to the
most celebrated Angekkok of that part of the country, and, by a present
of two seals and a marble kettle, obtained a promise, that when Ajut
should consult him, he would declare that her lover was in the land of
souls. Ajut, in a short time, brought him a coat made by herself, and
inquired what events were to befall her, with assurances of a much
larger reward at the return of Anningait, if the prediction should
flatter her desires. The Angekkok knew the way to riches, and foretold
that Anningait, having already caught two whales, would soon return home
with a large boat laden with provisions.
This prognostication she was ordered to keep secret; and Norngsuk
depending upon his artifice, renewed his addresses with greater
confidence; but finding his suit still unsuccessful, applied himself to
her parents with gifts and promises. The wealth of Greenland is too
powerful for the virtue of a Greenlander; they forgot the merit and the
presents of Anningait, and decreed Ajut to the embraces of Norngsuk. She
entreated; she remonstrated; she wept, and raved; but finding riches
irresistible, fled away into the uplands, and lived in a cave upon such
berries as she could gather, and the birds or hares which she had the
fortune to ensnare, taking care, at an hour when she was not likely to
be found, to view the sea every day, that her lover might not miss her
at his return.
At last she saw the great boat in which Anningait had departed, stealing
slow and heavy laden along the coast. She ran with all the impatience of
affection to catch her lover in her arms, and relate her constancy and
sufferings. When the company reached the land, they informed her that
Anningait, after the fishery was ended, being unable to support the slow
passage of the vessel of carriage, had set out before them in his
fishing-boat, and they expected at their arrival to have found him on
Ajut, distracted at this intelligence, was about to fly into the hills,
without knowing why, though she was now in the hands of her parents, who
forced her back to their own hut, and endeavoured to comfort her; but
when at last they retired to rest, Ajut went down to the beach; where,
finding a fishing-boat, she entered it without hesitation, and telling
those who wondered at her rashness, that she was going in search of
Anningait, rowed away with great swiftness, and was seen no more.
The fate of these lovers gave occasion to various fictions and
conjectures. Some are of opinion, that they were changed into stars;
others imagine, that Anningait was seized in his passage by the genius
of the rocks, and that Ajut was transformed into a mermaid, and still
continues to seek her lover in the deserts of the sea. But the general
persuasion is, that they are both in that part of the land of souls
where the sun never sets, where oil is always fresh, and provisions
always warm. The virgins sometimes throw a thimble and a needle into the
bay, from which the hapless maid departed; and when a Greenlander would
praise any couple for virtuous affection, he declares that they love
like Anningait and Ajut.
No. 188. SATURDAY, JANUARY 4, 1751.
--_Si te colo, Sexte, non amabo_. MART. Lib. ii. Ep. lv. 33.
The more I honour thee, the less I love.
None of the desires dictated by vanity is more general, or less
blamable, than that of being distinguished for the arts of conversation.
Other accomplishments may be possessed without opportunity of exerting
them, or wanted without danger that the defect can often be remarked;
but as no man can live, otherwise than in an hermitage, without hourly
pleasure or vexation, from the fondness or neglect of those about him,
the faculty of giving pleasure is of continual use. Few are more
frequently envied than those who have the power of forcing attention
wherever they come, whose entrance is considered as a promise of
felicity, and whose departure is lamented, like the recess of the sun
from northern climates, as a privation of all that enlivens fancy, or
It is apparent, that to excellence in this valuable art, some peculiar
qualifications are necessary; for every one's experience will inform
him, that the pleasure which men are able to give in conversation, holds
no stated proportion to their knowledge or their virtue. Many find their
way to the tables and the parties of those who never consider them as of
the least importance in any other place; we have all, at one time or
other, been content to love those whom we could not esteem, and been
persuaded to try the dangerous experiment of admitting him for a
companion, whom we knew to be too ignorant for a counsellor, and too
treacherous for a friend.
I question whether some abatement of character is not necessary to
general acceptance. Few spend their time with much satisfaction under
the eye of uncontestable superiority; and therefore, among those whose
presence is courted at assemblies of jollity, there are seldom found men
eminently distinguished for powers or acquisitions. The wit whose
vivacity condemns slower tongues to silence, the scholar whose knowledge
allows no man to fancy that he instructs him, the critick who suffers no
fallacy to pass undetected, and the reasoner who condemns the idle to
thought, and the negligent to attention, are generally praised and
feared, reverenced and avoided.
He that would please must rarely aim at such excellence as depresses his
hearers in their own opinion, or debars them from the hope of
contributing reciprocally to the entertainment of the company.
Merriment, extorted by sallies of imagination, sprightliness of remark,
or quickness of reply, is too often what the Latins call, the Sardinian
laughter, a distortion of the face without gladness of heart.
For this reason, no style of conversation is more extensively acceptable
than the narrative. He who has stored his memory with slight anecdotes,
private incidents, and personal peculiarities, seldom fails to find his
audience favourable. Almost every man listens with eagerness to
contemporary history; for almost every man has some real or imaginary
connexion with a celebrated character, some desire to advance or oppose
a rising name. Vanity often co-operates with curiosity. He that is a
hearer in one place, qualifies himself to become a speaker in another;
for though he cannot comprehend a series of argument, or transport the
volatile spirit of wit without evaporation, he yet thinks himself able
to treasure up the various incidents of a story, and please his hopes
with the information which he shall give to some inferior society.
Narratives are for the most part heard without envy, because they are
not supposed to imply any intellectual qualities above the common rate.
To be acquainted with facts not yet echoed by plebeian mouths, may
happen to one man as well as to another; and to relate them when they
are known, has in appearance so little difficulty, that every one
concludes himself equal to the task.
But it is not easy, and in some situations of life not possible, to
accumulate such a stock of materials as may support the expense of
continual narration; and it frequently happens, that they who attempt
this method of ingratiating themselves, please only at the first
interview; and, for want of new supplies of intelligence, wear out their
stories by continual repetition.
There would be, therefore, little hope of obtaining the praise of a good
companion, were it not to be gained by more compendious methods; but
such is the kindness of mankind to all, except those who aspire to real
merit and rational dignity, that every understanding may find some way
to excite benevolence; and whoever is not envied may learn the art of
procuring love. We are willing to be pleased, but are not willing to
admire: we favour the mirth or officiousness that solicits our regard,
but oppose the worth or spirit that enforces it.
The first place among those that please, because they desire only to
please, is due to the _merry fellow_, whose laugh is loud, and whose
voice is strong; who is ready to echo every jest with obstreperous
approbation, and countenance every frolick with vociferations of
applause. It is not necessary to a merry fellow to have in himself any
fund of jocularity, or force of conception; it is sufficient that he
always appears in the highest exaltation of gladness, for the greater
part of mankind are gay or serious by infection, and follow without
resistance the attraction of example.
Next to the merry fellow is the _good-natured man_, a being generally
without benevolence, or any other virtue, than such as indolence and
insensibility confer. The characteristick of a good-natured man is to
bear a joke; to sit unmoved and unaffected amidst noise and turbulence,
profaneness and obscenity; to hear every tale without contradiction; to
endure insult without reply; and to follow the stream of folly, whatever
course it shall happen to take. The good-natured man is commonly the
darling of the petty wits, with whom they exercise themselves in the
rudiments of raillery; for he never takes advantage of failings, nor
disconcerts a puny satirist with unexpected sarcasms; but while the
glass continues to circulate, contentedly bears the expense of an
uninterrupted laughter, and retires rejoicing at his own importance.
The _modest man_ is a companion of a yet lower rank, whose only power of
giving pleasure is not to interrupt it. The modest man satisfies himself
with peaceful silence, which all his companions are candid enough to
consider as proceeding not from inability to speak, but willingness to
Many, without being able to attain any general character of excellence,
have some single art of entertainment which serves them as a passport
through the world. One I have known for fifteen years the darling of a
weekly club, because every night, precisely at eleven, he begins his
favourite song, and during the vocal performance, by corresponding
motions of his hand, chalks out a giant upon the wall. Another has
endeared himself to a long succession of acquaintances by sitting among
them with his wig reversed; another by contriving to smut the nose of
any stranger who was to be initiated in the club; another by purring
like a cat, and then pretending to be frighted; and another by yelping
like a hound, and calling to the drawers to drive out the dog[k].
Such are the arts by which cheerfulness is promoted, and sometimes
friendship established; arts, which those who despise them should not
rigorously blame, except when they are practised at the expense of
innocence; for it is always necessary to be loved, but not always
necessary to be reverenced.
No. 189. TUESDAY, JANUARY 7, 1752.
_Quod tam grande Sophos clamat tibi turba togata;
Non tu, Pomponi; caena diserta tua est_. MART. Lib. vi. Ep. xlviii.
Resounding plaudits though the crowd have rung;
Thy treat is eloquent, and not thy tongue. F. LEWIS.
The world scarcely affords opportunities of making any
observation more frequently, than on false claims to commendation.
Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display
qualities which he does not possess, and to gain applause which he
cannot keep; so that scarcely can two persons casually meet, but one is
offended or diverted by the ostentation of the other.
Of these pretenders it is fit to distinguish those who endeavour to
deceive from them who are deceived; those who by designed impostures
promote their interest, or gratify their pride, from them who mean only
to force into regard their latent excellencies and neglected virtues;
who believe themselves qualified to instruct or please, and therefore
invite the notice of mankind.
The artful and fraudulent usurpers of distinction deserve greater
severities than ridicule and contempt, since they are seldom content
with empty praise, but are instigated by passions more pernicious than
vanity. They consider the reputation which they endeavour to establish
as necessary to the accomplishment of some subsequent design, and value
praise only as it may conduce to the success of avarice or ambition.
The commercial world is very frequently put into confusion by the
bankruptcy of merchants, that assumed the splendour of wealth only to
obtain the privilege of trading with the stock of other men, and of
contracting debts which nothing but lucky casualties could enable them
to pay; till after having supported their appearance a while by
tumultuous magnificence of boundless traffick, they sink at once, and
drag down into poverty those whom their equipages had induced to trust
Among wretches that place their happiness in the favour of the great, of
beings whom only high titles or large estates set above themselves,
nothing is more common than to boast of confidence which they do not
enjoy; to sell promises which they know their interest unable to
perform; and to reimburse the tribute which they pay to an imperious
master, from the contributions of meaner dependants, whom they can amuse
with tales of their influence, and hopes of their solicitation.
Even among some, too thoughtless and volatile for avarice or ambition,
may be found a species of falsehood more detestable than the levee or
exchange can shew. There are men that boast of debaucheries, of which
they never had address to be guilty; ruin, by lewd tales, the characters
of women to whom they are scarcely known, or by whom they have been
rejected; destroy in a drunken frolick the happiness of families; blast
the bloom of beauty, and intercept the reward of virtue.
Other artifices of falsehood, though utterly unworthy of an ingenuous
mind, are not yet to be ranked with flagitious enormities, nor is it
necessary to incite sanguinary justice against them, since they may be
adequately punished by detection and laughter. The traveller who
describes cities which he has never seen; the squire, who, at his return
from London, tells of his intimacy with nobles to whom he has only bowed
in the park or coffee-house; the author who entertains his admirers with
stories of the assistance which he gives to wits of a higher rank; the
city dame who talks of her visits at great houses, where she happens to
know the cook-maid, are surely such harmless animals as truth herself
may be content to despise without desiring to hurt them.
But of the multitudes who struggle in vain for distinction, and display
their own merits only to feel more acutely the sting of neglect, a great
part are wholly innocent of deceit, and are betrayed, by infatuation and
credulity, to that scorn with which the universal love of praise incites
us all to drive feeble competitors out of our way.
Few men survey themselves with so much severity, as not to admit
prejudices in their own favour, which an artful flatterer may gradually
strengthen, till wishes for a particular qualification are improved to
hopes of attainment, and hopes of attainment to belief of possession.
Such flatterers every one will find, who has power to reward their
assiduities. Wherever there is wealth there will be dependance and
expectation, and wherever there is dependance, there will be an
emulation of servility.
Many of the follies which provoke general censure, are the effects of
such vanity as, however it might have wantoned in the imagination, would
scarcely have dared the publick eye, had it not been animated and
emboldened by flattery. Whatever difficulty there may be in the
knowledge of ourselves, scarcely any one fails to suspect his own
imperfections, till he is elevated by others to confidence. We are
almost all naturally modest and timorous; but fear and shame are uneasy
sensations, and whosoever helps to remove them is received with
Turpicula was the heiress of a large estate, and having lost her mother
in her infancy, was committed to a governess, whom misfortunes had
reduced to suppleness and humility. The fondness of Turpicula's father
would not suffer him to trust her at a publick school, but he hired
domestick teachers, and bestowed on her all the accomplishments that
wealth could purchase. But how many things are necessary to happiness
which money cannot obtain! Thus secluded from all with whom she might
converse on terms of equality, she heard none of those intimations of
her defects, which envy, petulance, or anger, produce among children,
where they are not afraid of telling what they think.
Turpicula saw nothing but obsequiousness, and heard nothing but
commendations. None are so little acquainted with the heart, as not to
know that woman's first wish is to be handsome, and that consequently
the readiest method of obtaining her kindness is to praise her beauty.
Turpicula had a distorted shape and a dark complexion; yet, when the
impudence of adulation had ventured to tell her of the commanding
dignity of her motion, and the soft enchantment of her smile, she was
easily convinced, that she was the delight or torment of every eye, and
that all who gazed upon her felt the fire of envy or love. She therefore
neglected the culture of an understanding which might have supplied the
defects of her form, and applied all her care to the decoration of her
person; for she considered that more could judge of beauty than of wit,
and was, like the rest of human beings, in haste to be admired. The
desire of conquest naturally led her to the lists in which beauty
signalizes her power. She glittered at court, fluttered in the park, and
talked aloud in the front box; but after a thousand experiments of her
charms, was at last convinced that she had been flattered, and that her
glass was honester than her maid.
[Footnote k: Mrs. Piozzi, in her Anecdotes, informs us, that the man who
sung, and, by corresponding motions of his arm, chalked out a giant on
the wall, was one Richardson, an attorney: the ingenious imitator of a
cat, was one Busby, a proctor in the Commons: and the father of Dr.
Salter, of the Charter-House, a friend of Johnson's, and a member of the
Ivy-Lane Club, was the person who yelped like a hound, and perplexed the
distracted waiters.--Mr. Chalmers, in his preface to the Rambler,
observes, that the above-quoted lively writer was the only authority for
these assignments. She is certainly far too hasty and negligent to be
relied on, when unsupported by other testimony.--See Preface.]
No. 190. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 11, 1752.
_Ploravere suis non respondere favorem
Speratum meritis_.--HOR. Lib. ii. Ep. i. 9.
Henry and Alfred--
Clos'd their long glories with a sigh, to find
Th' unwilling gratitude of base mankind. POPE.
Among the emirs and visiers, the sons of valour and of wisdom, that
stand at the corners of the Indian throne, to assist the counsels or
conduct the wars of the posterity of Timur, the first place was long
held by Morad the son of Hanuth. Morad, having signalized himself in
many battles and sieges, was rewarded with the government of a province,
from which the fame of his wisdom and moderation was wafted to the
pinnacles of Agra, by the prayers of those whom his administration made
happy. The emperour called him into his presence, and gave into his hand
the keys of riches, and the sabre of command. The voice of Morad was
heard from the cliffs of Taurus to the Indian ocean, every tongue
faultered in his presence, and every eye was cast down before him.
Morad lived many years in prosperity; every day increased his wealth,
and extended his influence. The sages repeated his maxims, the captains
of thousands waited his commands. Competition withdrew into the cavern
of envy, and discontent trembled at his own murmurs. But human greatness
is short and transitory, as the odour of incense in the fire. The sun
grew weary of gilding the palaces of Morad, the clouds of sorrow
gathered round his head, and the tempest of hatred roared about his
Morad saw ruin hastily approaching. The first that forsook him were his
poets; their example was followed by all those whom he had rewarded for
contributing to his pleasures, and only a few, whose virtue had entitled
them to favour, were now to be seen in his hall or chambers. He felt his
danger, and prostrated himself at the foot of the throne. His accusers
were confident and loud, his friends stood contented with frigid
neutrality, and the voice of truth was overborne by clamour. He was
divested of his power, deprived of his acquisitions, and condemned to
pass the rest of his life on his hereditary estate.
Morad had been so long-accustomed to crowds and business, supplicants
and flattery, that he knew not how to fill up his hours in solitude; he
saw with regret the sun rise to force on his eye a new day for which he
had no use; and envied the savage that wanders in the desert, because he
has no time vacant from the calls of nature, but is always chasing his
prey, or sleeping in his den.
His discontent in time vitiated his constitution, and a slow disease
seized upon him. He refused physick, neglected exercise, and lay down on
his couch peevish and restless, rather afraid to die than desirous to
live. His domesticks, for a time, redoubled their assiduities; but
finding that no officiousness could soothe, nor exactness satisfy, they
soon gave way to negligence and sloth; and he that once commanded
nations, often languished in his chamber without an attendant.
In this melancholy state, he commanded messengers to recall his eldest
son Abouzaid from the army. Abouzaid was alarmed at the account of his
father's sickness, and hasted by long journeys to his place of
residence. Morad was yet living, and felt his strength return at the
embraces of his son; then commanding him to sit down at his bedside,
"Abouzaid," says he, "thy father has no more to hope or fear from the
inhabitants of the earth; the cold hand of the angel of death is now
upon him, and the voracious grave is howling for his prey. Hear,
therefore, the precepts of ancient experience, let not my last
instructions issue forth in vain. Thou hast seen me happy and
calamitous, thou hast beheld my exaltation and my fall. My power is in
the hands of my enemies, my treasures have rewarded my accusers; but my
inheritance, the clemency of the emperour has spared, and my wisdom his
anger could not take away. Cast thine eyes around thee; whatever thou
beholdest will, in a few hours, be thine: apply thine ear to my
dictates, and these possessions will promote thy happiness. Aspire not
to public honours, enter not the palaces of kings; thy wealth will set
thee above insult, let thy moderation keep thee below envy. Content
thyself with private dignity, diffuse thy riches among thy friends, let
every day extend thy beneficence, and suffer not thy heart to be at rest
till thou art loved by all to whom thou art known. In the height of my
power, I said to defamation, Who will hear thee? and to artifice, What
canst thou perform? But, my son, despise not thou the malice of the
weakest, remember that venom supplies the want of strength, and that the
lion may perish by the puncture of an asp."
Morad expired in a few hours. Abouzaid, after the months of mourning,
determined to regulate his conduct by his father's precepts, and
cultivate the love of mankind by every art of kindness and endearment.
He wisely considered, that domestick happiness was first to be secured,
and that none have so much power of doing good or hurt, as those who are
present in the hour of negligence, hear the bursts of thoughtless
merriment, and observe the starts of unguarded passion. He therefore
augmented the pay of all his attendants, and requited every exertion of
uncommon diligence by supernumerary gratuities. While he congratulated
himself upon the fidelity and affection of his family, he was in the
night alarmed with robbers, who, being pursued and taken, declared that
they had been admitted by one of his servants; the servant immediately
confessed, that he unbarred the door, because another not more worthy of
confidence was entrusted with the keys.
Abouzaid was thus convinced that a dependant could not easily be made a
friend; and that while many were soliciting for the first rank of
favour, all those would be alienated whom he disappointed. He therefore
resolved to associate with a few equal companions selected from among
the chief men of the province. With these he lived happily for a time,
till familiarity set them free from restraint, and every man thought
himself at liberty to indulge his own caprice, and advance his own
opinions. They then disturbed each other with contrariety of
inclinations, and difference of sentiments, and Abouzaid was
necessitated to offend one party by concurrence, or both by
He afterwards determined to avoid a close union with beings so
discordant in their nature, and to diffuse himself in a larger circle.
He practised the smile of universal courtesy, and invited all to his
table, but admitted none to his retirements. Many who had been rejected
in his choice of friendship, now refused to accept his acquaintance; and
of those whom plenty and magnificence drew to his table, every one
pressed forward toward intimacy, thought himself overlooked in the
crowd, and murmured because he was not distinguished above the rest. By
degrees all made advances, and all resented repulse. The table was then
covered with delicacies in vain; the musick sounded in empty rooms; and
Abouzaid was left to form in solitude some new scheme of pleasure or
Resolving now to try the force of gratitude, he inquired for men of
science, whose merit was obscured by poverty. His house was soon crowded
with poets, sculptors, painters, and designers, who wantoned in
unexperienced plenty, and employed their powers in celebration of their
patron. But in a short time they forgot the distress from which they had
been rescued, and began to consider their deliverer as a wretch of
narrow capacity, who was growing great by works which he could not
perform, and whom they overpaid by condescending to accept his bounties.
Abouzaid heard their murmurs and dismissed them, and from that hour
continued blind to colours, and deaf to panegyrick.
As the sons of art departed, muttering threats of perpetual infamy,
Abouzaid, who stood at the gate, called to him Hamet the poet. "Hamet,"
said he, "thy ingratitude has put an end to my hopes and experiments: I
have now learned the vanity of those labours that wish to be rewarded by
human benevolence; I shall henceforth do good, and avoid evil, without
respect to the opinion of men; and resolve to solicit only the
approbation of that Being whom alone we are sure to please by
endeavouring to please him."
No. 191. TUESDAY, JANUARY 14, 1752.
_Cereus in vitium flecli, monitoribus asper_. HOR. Art. Poet. 163.
Yielding like wax, th' impressive folly bears;
Rough to reproof, and slow to future cares. FRANCIS.
TO THE RAMBLER.
DEAR MR. RAMBLER,
I have been four days confined to my chamber by a cold, which has
already kept me from three plays, nine sales, five shows, and six
card-tables, and put me seventeen visits behind-hand; and the doctor
tells my mamma, that, if I fret and cry, it will settle in my head,
and I shall not be fit to be seen these six weeks. But, dear Mr. Rambler,
how can I help it? At this very time Melissa is dancing with the
prettiest gentleman;--she will breakfast with him to-morrow, and then run
to two auctions, and hear compliments, and have presents; then she will
be drest, and visit, and get a ticket to the play; then go to cards and
win, and come home with two flambeaux before her chair. Dear Mr.
Rambler, who can bear it?
My aunt has just brought me a bundle of your papers for my amusement.
She says you are a philosopher, and will teach me to moderate my
desires, and look upon the world with indifference. But, dear sir, I do
not wish nor intend to moderate my desires, nor can I think it proper to
look upon the world with indifference, till the world looks with
indifference on me. I have been forced, however, to sit this morning a
whole quarter of an hour with your paper before my face; but just as my
aunt came in, Phyllida had brought me a letter from Mr. Trip, which I
put within the leaves; and read about _absence_ and _inconsolableness_,
and _ardour_, and _irresistible passion_, and _eternal constancy_, while
my aunt imagined that I was puzzling myself with your philosophy, and
often cried out when she saw me look confused, "If there is any word
that you do not understand, child, I will explain it."
Dear soul! how old people that think themselves wise may be imposed
upon! But it is fit that they should take their turn, for I am sure,
while they can keep poor girls close in the nursery, they tyrannize over
us in a very shameful manner, and fill our imaginations with tales of
terrour, only to make us live in quiet subjection, and fancy that we can
never be safe but by their protection.
I have a mamma and two aunts, who have all been formerly celebrated for
wit and beauty, and are still generally admired by those that value
themselves upon their understanding, and love to talk of vice and
virtue, nature and simplicity, and beauty and propriety; but if there
was not some hope of meeting me, scarcely a creature would come near
them that wears a fashionable coat. These ladies, Mr. Rambler, have had
me under their government fifteen years and a half, and have all that
time been endeavouring to deceive me by such representations of life as
I now find not to be true; but I know not whether I ought to impute them
to ignorance or malice, as it is possible the world may be much changed
since they mingled in general conversation.
Being desirous that I should love books, they told me, that nothing but
knowledge could make me an agreeable companion to men of sense, or
qualify me to distinguish the superficial glitter of vanity from the
solid merit of understanding; and that a habit of reading would enable
me to fill up the vacuities of life without the help of silly or
dangerous amusements, and preserve me from the snares of idleness and
the inroads of temptation.
But their principal intention was to make me afraid of men; in which
they succeeded so well for a time, that I durst not look in their faces,
or be left alone with them in a parlour; for they made me fancy, that no
man ever spoke but to deceive, or looked but to allure; that the girl
who suffered him that had once squeezed her hand, to approach her a
second time, was on the brink of ruin; and that she who answered a
billet, without consulting her relations, gave love such power over her,
that she would certainly become either poor or infamous.
From the time that my leading-strings were taken off, I scarce heard any
mention of my beauty but from the milliner, the mantua-maker, and my own
maid; for my mamma never said more, when she heard me commended, but
"the girl is very well," and then endeavoured to divert my attention by
some inquiry after my needle, or my book.
It is now three months since I have been suffered to pay and receive
visits, to dance at publick assemblies, to have a place kept for me in
the boxes, and to play at lady Racket's rout; and you may easily imagine
what I think of those who have so long cheated me with false
expectations, disturbed me with fictitious terrours, and concealed from
me all that I have found to make the happiness of woman.
I am so far from perceiving the usefulness or necessity of books, that
if I had not dropped all pretensions to learning, I should have lost Mr.
Trip, whom I once frighted into another box, by retailing some of
Dryden's remarks upon a tragedy; for Mr. Trip declares, that he hates
nothing like hard words, and I am sure, there is not a better partner to
be found; his very walk is a dance. I have talked once or twice among
ladies about principles and ideas, but they put their fans before their
faces, and told me I was too wise for them, who for their part never
pretended to read any thing but the play-bill, and then asked me the
price of my best head.
Those vacancies of time which are to be filled up with books I have
never vet obtained; for, consider, Mr. Rambler, I go to bed late, and
therefore cannot rise early; as soon as I am up, I dress for the
gardens; then walk in the park; then always go to some sale or show, or
entertainment at the little theatre; then must be dressed for dinner;
then must pay my visits; then walk in the park; then hurry to the play;
and from thence to the card-table. This is the general course of the
day, when there happens nothing extraordinary; but sometimes I ramble
into the country, and come back again to a ball; sometimes I am engaged
for a whole day and part of the night. If, at any time, I can gain an
hour by not being at home, I have so many things to do, so many orders
to give to the milliner, so many alterations to make in my clothes, so
many visitants' names to read over, so many invitations to accept or
refuse, so many cards to write, and so many fashions to consider, that I
am lost in confusion, forced at last to let in company or step into my
chair, and leave half my affairs to the direction of my maid.
This is the round of my day; and when shall I either stop my course, or
so change it as to want a book? I suppose it cannot be imagined, that
any of these diversions will soon be at an end. There will always be
gardens, and a park, and auctions, and shows, and playhouses, and cards;
visits will always be paid, and clothes always be worn; and how can I
have time unemployed upon my hands?
But I am most at a loss to guess for what purpose they related such
tragick stories of the cruelty, perfidy, and artifices of men, who, if
they ever were so malicious and destructive, have certainly now reformed
their manners. I have not, since my entrance into the world, found one
who does not profess himself devoted to my service, and ready to live or
die as I shall command him. They are so far from intending to hurt me,
that their only contention is, who shall be allowed most closely to
attend, and most frequently to treat me; when different places of
entertainment, or schemes of pleasure are mentioned, I can see the eye
sparkle and the cheeks glow of him whose proposals obtain my
approbation; he then leads me off in triumph, adores my condescension,
and congratulates himself that he has lived to the hour of felicity. Are
these, Mr. Rambler, creatures to be feared? Is it likely that an injury
will be done me by those who can enjoy life only while I favour them
with my presence?
As little reason can I yet find to suspect them of stratagems and fraud.
When I play at cards, they never take advantage of my mistakes, nor
exact from me a rigorous observation of the game. Even Mr. Shuffle, a
grave gentleman, who has daughters older than myself, plays with me so
negligently, that I am sometimes inclined to believe he loses his money
by design, and yet he is so fond of play, that he says, he will one day
take me to his house in the country, that we may try by ourselves who
can conquer. I have not yet promised him; but when the town grows a
little empty, I shall think upon it, for I want some trinkets, like
Letitia's, to my watch. I do not doubt my luck, but must study some
means of amusing my relations.
For all these distinctions I find myself indebted to that beauty which I
was never suffered to hear praised, and of which, therefore, I did not
before know the full value. The concealment was certainly an intentional
fraud, for my aunts have eyes like other people, and I am every day
told, that nothing but blindness can escape the influence of my charms.
Their whole account of that world which they pretend to know so well,
has been only one fiction entangled with another; and though the modes
of life oblige me to continue some appearances of respect, I cannot
think that they, who have been so clearly detected in ignorance or
imposture, have any right to the esteem, veneration, or obedience of,
No. 192. SATURDAY, JANUARY 18, 1752.
Genos ouden eis Erota;
Sophiae, tropos pateitai;
Monon arguron blepousin.
Apoloito protos autos
Ho ton arguron philaesas.
Dia touton ou tokaees,
Dai touton ou tokaees;
Polemoi, phonoi di auton.
To de cheiron, ollymestha
Dia touton oi philountes.] ANACREON. [Greek: ODLI Ms.] 5.
Vain the noblest birth would prove,
Nor worth or wit avail in love;
'Tis gold alone succeeds--by gold
The venal sex is bought and sold.
Accurs'd be he who first of yore
Discover'd the pernicious ore!
This sets a brother's heart on fire,
And arms the son against the sire;
And what, alas! is worse than all,
To this the lover owes his fall. F. LEWIS.
TO THE RAMBLER.
I am the son of a gentleman, whose ancestors, for many ages, held the
first rank in the country; till at last one of them, too desirous of
popularity, set his house open, kept a table covered with continual
profusion, and distributed his beef and ale to such as chose rather to
live upon the folly of others, than their own labour, with such
thoughtless liberality, that he left a third part of his estate
mortgaged. His successor, a man of spirit, scorned to impair his dignity
by parsimonious retrenchments, or to admit, by a sale of his lands, any
participation of the rights of his manour; he therefore made another
mortgage to pay the interest of the former, and pleased himself with the
reflection, that his son would have the hereditary estate without the
diminution of an acre.
Nearly resembling this was the practice of my wise progenitors for many
ages. Every man boasted the antiquity of her family, resolved to support
the dignity of his birth, and lived in splendour and plenty at the
expense of his heir, who, sometimes by a wealthy marriage, and sometimes
by lucky legacies, discharged part of the incumbrances, and thought
himself entitled to contract new debts, and to leave to his children the
same inheritance of embarrassment and distress.
Thus the estate perpetually decayed; the woods were felled by one, the
park ploughed by another, the fishery let to farmers by a third; at last
the old hall was pulled down to spare the cost of reparation, and part
of the materials sold to build a small house with the rest. We were now
openly degraded from our original rank, and my father's brother was
allowed with less reluctance to serve an apprenticeship, though we never
reconciled ourselves heartily to the sound of haberdasher, but always
talked of warehouses and a merchant, and when the wind happened to blow
loud, affected to pity the hazards of commerce, and to sympathize with
the solicitude of my poor uncle, who had the true retailer's terrour of
adventure, and never exposed himself or his property to any wider water
than the Thames.
In time, however, by continual profit and small expenses, he grew rich,
and began to turn his thoughts towards rank. He hung the arms of the
family over his parlour-chimney; pointed at a chariot decorated only
with a cypher; became of opinion that money could not make a gentleman;
resented the petulance of upstarts; told stories of alderman Puff's
grandfather the porter; wondered that there was no better method for
regulating precedence; wished for some dress peculiar to men of fashion;
and when his servant presented a letter, always inquired whether it came
from his brother the esquire.
My father was careful to send him game by every carrier, which, though
the conveyance often cost more than the value, was well received,
because it gave him an opportunity of calling his friends together,
describing the beauty of his brother's seat, and lamenting his own
folly, whom no remonstrances could withhold from polluting his fingers
with a shop-book.
The little presents which we sent were always returned with great
munificence. He was desirous of being the second founder of his family,
and could not bear that we should be any longer outshone by those whom
we considered as climbers upon our ruins, and usurpers of our fortune.
He furnished our house with all the elegance of fashionable expense, and