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we believe ours lves to want, torments us not in | If we view past ages in the reflection of history proportion to its real value, but according to the what do they offer to our meditation but crimes estimation by which we have rated it in our own and calamities? One year is distinguished by a minds; in some diseases, the patient has been famine, another by an earthquake: kingdoms observed to long for food, which scarce any ex are made desolate, sometimes by wars, and some tremity of hunger would in health have com times by pestilence; the peace of the world is pelled him to swallow; but while his organs interrupted at one time by the caprices of a tywere thus depraved, the craving was irresisti- rant, at another by the rage of the conqueror, ble, nor could any rest be obtained till it was ap- The memory is stored only with vicissitudes of peased by compliance. Of the same nature are evil; and the happiness, such as it is, of one part the irregular appetites of the mind : though they of mankind, is found to arise commonly from are often excited by trifles, they are equally dis- sanguinary success, from victories which confer quieting with real wants; the Roman, who wept upon them the power, not so much of improving at the death of his lamprey, felt the same degree life by any new enjoyment, as of inflicting misery of sorrow that extorts tears on other occasions. on others, and gratifying their own pride by coin
Inordinate desires, of whatever kind, ought to parative greatness. be repressed upon a yet higher consideration ; But by him that examined life with a more they must be considered as enemies not only to close attention, the happiness of the world will happiness but to virtue. There are men, among be found still less than it appears. In some inthose commonly reckoned the learned and the tervals of public prosperity, or to use terms wise, who spare no stratagems to remove a com more proper, in some intermissions of calamity, petitor at an auction, who will sink the price of a general diffusion of happiness may seem to a rarity at the expense of truth, and whom it is overspread a people; all is triumph and exultanot saie to trust alone in a library or cabinet. tion, jollity and plenty; there are no public fears These are faults, which the fraternity seem to and dangers, and no complainings in the look upon as jocular mischiefs, or to think ex- streets.” But the condition of individuals is cused by the violence of temptation : but I shall very little mended by this general calm; pain always fear that he who accustoms himself to and malice and discontent still continue their fraud in little things, wants only opportunity to havoc; the silent depredation goes incessantly practise it in greater ;, “he that has hardened forward ; and the grave continues to be filled by himself by killing a sheep,” says Pythagoras, the victims of sorrow. “ will with less reluctance shed the blood of a He that enters a gay assembly, beholds the man.”
cheerfulness displayed in every countenance, To prize every thing according to its real use, and finds all sitting vacant and disengaged, with ought to be the aim of a rational being. There no other attention than to give or receive pleaare few things which can much conduce to hap- sure, would naturally imagine that he had reach. piness, and, therefore, few things to be ardently ed at last the metropolis of felicity, the place sadesired. He that looks upon the business and cred to gladness of heart, from whence all fear bustle of the world, with the philosophy with and anxiety were irreversibly excluded. Such, which Socrates surveyed the fair at Athens, indeed, we may often find to be the opinion of will turn away at last with his exclamation, those, who from a lower station look up to the “How many things are here which I do not pomp and gayety which they cannot reach, but want!”
who is there of those who frequent these luxurious assemblies, that will not confess his own uneasiness, or cannot recount the vexations and
distresses that prey upon the lives of his gay No. 120.] SATURDAY, Dec. 29, 1750
The world, in its best state, is nothing more Ultima semper
than a larger assembly of beings, combining to Erpectanda dics homini, dicique beatus Ante obitum nemo supremaque funera debet. Ovid.
counterfeit happiness which they do not feel,
employing every art and contrivance to embelBut no frail man, however great or high,
lish life, and to hide their real condition from the Can be concluded bless'd before he die. Addison. eyes of one another. The numerous miseries of human life have ex- observation of others, is that which depends upon
The species of happiness most obvious to the torted in all ages a universal complaint. The the goods of fortune ; yet even this is often fictiwisest of men terminated all his experiments in tious. There is in the world more poverty than search of happiness, by the mournful confession, is generally imagined ; not only because many that “all is vanity ;” and the ancient patriarchs whose possessions are large have desires still lamented, that the days of their pilgrimage larger, and many measure their wants by the were few and evil.”'
gratifications which others enjoy: but great There is, indeed, no topic on which it is more numbers are pressed by real necessities which it superfluous to accumulate authorities, nor any is their chief ambition to conceal, and are forced assertion of which our own eyes will more easily to purchase the appearance of competence and discover, or our sensations more frequently im- cheerfulness at the expense of many comforts press the truth, than, that misery is the lot of and conveniences of life. man, that our present state is a state of danger Many, however, are confessedly rich, and and infelicity.
many more are suíficiently removed from all When we take the most distant prospect of danger of real poverty: but it has been long ago life, what does it present us but a chaos of un-remarked, that money cannot purchase quiet; happiness, a confused and tumultuous scene of the highest of mankind can promise themselves lapour and contest, disappointment and defeat ?
no exemption from that discord or suspicion, by
which the sweetness of domestic retirement is be filled, and none shall be wretched but by his destroyed; and must always be even more ex own fault. posed, in the same degree as they are elevated In the mean time, it is by affliction chiefly that above others, to the treachery of dependents, the heart of man is purified, and that the thoughts the calumny of defamers, and the violence of are fixed upon a better state. Prosperity, allayopponents.
ed and imperfect as it is, has power to intoxicate Amiction is inseparable from our present the imagination, to fix the mind upon the present state; it adheres to all the inhabitants of this scene, to produce confidence and elation, and to world, in different proportions indeed, but with make him who enjoys affluence and honours foran allotment which seems very little regulated get the hand by which they were bestowed. It by our own conduct.
is seldom that we are otherwise, than by afflicIt has been the boast of some swelling moral- tion, awakened to a sense of our own imbecility, ists, that every man's fortune was in his own or taught to know how little all our acquisitions power, that prudence supplied the place of all can conduce to safety or to quiet; and how justly other divinities, and that happiness is the un we may ascribe to the superintendence of a highfailing consequence of virtue. But, surely, the er Power, those blessings which in the wantonquiver of Omnipotence is stored with prows, ness of success we considered as the attainments against which the shield of human virtue, how- of our policy or courage. ever adamantine it has been boasted, is held up Nothing confers so much ability to resist the in vain: we do not always suffer by our crimes; temptations that perpetually surround us, as an we are not always protected by our innocence. habitual consideration of the shortness of life,
A good man is by no means exempt from the and the uncertainty of those pleasures that sodanger of suffering by the crimes of others; even licit our pursuit; and this consideration can be his goodness may raise him enemies of implaca- inculcated only by affliction. “O Death ! how ble malice and restless perseverance: the good bitter is the remembrance of thee, to a man that man has never been warranted by Heaven from lives at ease in his possessions!" If our present the treachery of friends, the disobedience of chil- state were one continued succession of delights, dren, or the dishonesty of a wife; he may see his or one uniform flow of calmness and tranquillity, cares made useless by profusion, his instructions we shouid never willingly think upon its end; defeated by perverseness, and his kindness re- death would then surely surprise us as “a thief jected by ingratitude: he may languish under the in the night ;” and our task of duty would reinfamy of false accusations, or perish reproach- main unfinished, till “the night came when no fully by an unjust sentence.
man can work." A good man is subject, like other mortals, to While affliction thus prepares us for felicity, all the influences of natural evil; his harvest is we may console ourselves under its pressures, by not spared by the tempest, nor his cattle by the remembering, that they are no particular mark's murrain; his house flames like others in a con- of divine displeasure : since all the distresses of flagration; nor have his ships any peculiar power persecution have been suffered by those “ of of resisting hurricanes: his mind, however ele- whom the world was not worthy;" and the Revated, inhabits a body subject to innumerable deemer of mankind himself was a man of sorcasualties, of which he must always share the rows and acquainted with grief !” dangers and the pains; he bears about him the seeds of disease, and may linger away a great part of his life under the tortures of the gout or No. 126.] SATURDAY, JAN. 19, 1754. stone; at one time groaning with insufferable anguish, at another dissolved in listlessness and Steriles nec legit arenas languor.
Ut caneret paucis, mersitque hoc pulvere cerum. From this general and indiscriminate distribution of misery, the moralists have always derived Canst thou believe the vast eternal Mind one of their strongest moral arguments for a fu
Was e'er to Syrts and Lybian sands confined ?
That he would choose this waste, this barren ground, ture state ; for since the cummon events of the
To teach the thin inhabitants around, present life happey alike to the good and bad, it And leave his truth in wilds and deserts drown'd? follows from the justice of the Supreme Being, that there must be another state of existence, in There has always prevailed among that part of which a just retribution shall be made, and every mankind that addict their minds to speculation, man shall be happy and miserable according to a propensity to talk much of the delights of rehis works.
tirement: and some of the most pleasing comThe miseries of life may, perhaps, afford some positions produced in every age contain descripproof of a future state, compared as well with the tions of the peace and happiness of a country mercy as the justice of God. It is scarcely to be life. in.agined that Infinite Benevolence would create I know not whether those who thus ambitious. a being capable of enjoying so much more than ly repeat the praises of solitude, have always is here to be enjoyed, and qualified by nature to considered, how much they depreciate mankind prolong pain by remembrance, and anticipate it by declaring, that whatever is excellent or desirby terror, if he was not designed for something able is to be obtained by departing from them; nobler and better than a state, in which many that the assistance which we may derive from of his faculties can serve only for his torment: one another, is not equivalent to the evils which in which he is to be importuned by desires that we have to fear; that the kindness of a few is never can be satisfied, to feel many evils which overbalanced by the malice of many; and that he had no power to avoid, and to fear many the protection of society is too dearly purchased which he shall never feel : there will surely come by encountering is aangers and enduring its ojo a time, when every capacity of happiness shall pressions.
These specious representations of solitary hap-, portance, who having known nothing can find piness, however opprobrious to human nature, no entertainment in reviewing the past, and whọ have so far spread their influence over the world, intending nothing can form no hopes from pros. that almost every man delights his imagination pects of the future? He can, surely, take no wiser with the hopes of obtaining some time an oppor course than that of losing himself again in the tunity of retreat. Many, indeed, who enjoy re- crowd, and filling the vacuities of his mind with treat only in imagination, content themselves the news of the day. with believing, that another year will transport Others consider solitude as the parent of phithem to rural tranquillity, and die while they talk losophy, and retire in expectation of greater inof doing what, if they had lived longer, they timacies with science, as Numa repaired to the would never have done. But many likewise groves when he conferred with Egeria. These there are, either of greater resolution or more men have not always reason to repent. Some credulity, who in earnest try the state which studies require a continued prosecution of the they have been taught to think thus secure from same train of thought, such as is too often inter cares and dangers; and retire to privacy, either rupted by the petty avocations of common life. that they may improve their happiness, increase sometimes, likewise, it is necessary, that a multheir knowledge, or exalt their virtue.
tiplicityof objects be at once present to the mind; The greater part of the admirers of solitude, and every thing, therefore, must be kept at a as of all other classes of mankind, have no high- distance, which may perplex the memory, or diser or remoter view, than the present gratification sipate the attention. of their passions. Of these, some, haughty and But though learning may be conferred by soli impetuous, fly from society only because they tnde, its application must be attained by general cannot bear to repay to others the regard which converse. He has learned to no purpose, that is themselves exact; and think no state of life eli- not able to teach ; and he will always teach ungible, but that which places them out of the successfully, who cannot recommend his sentireach of censure or control, and affords them op-ments by his diction or address. portunities of living in a perpetual compliance Even the acquisition of knowledge is often with their own inclinations, without the neces- much facilitated by the advantages of society: he sity of regulating their actions by any other that never compares his notions with those of man's convenience or opinion.
others readily acquiesces in his first thoughts, There are others, of minds more delicate and and very seldom discovers the objections which tender, easily offended by every deviation from may be raised against his opinions: he, therefore, rectitude, soon disgusted by ignorance or imper- often thinks himself in possession of truth, when tinence, and always expecting from the conver he is only fondling an error long since exploded. sation of mankind more elegance, purity, and He that has neither companions nor rivals in his truth, than the mingled mass of life will easily studies, will always applaud his own progress, afford. Such men are in haste to retire from and think highly of his performances, because grossness, falsehood, and brutality; and hope to he knows not that others have equalled or excellfind in private habitations at least a negative fe- ed him. And I am afraid it may be added, that licity, an exemption from the shocks and pertur- the student who withdraws himself from the bations with which public scenes are continually world, will soon feel that ardour extinguished distressing them.
which praise and emulation had enkindled, and To neither of these votaries will solitude af- take the advantage of secrecy to sleep, rather ford that content, which she has been taught 80 than to labour. lavishly to promise. The man of arrogance will There remains yet another set of recluses, quickly discover, that by escaping from his op- whose intention entitles them to higher respect, ponents he has lost his flatterers, that greatness and whose motives deserve a more serious consiis nothing where it is not seen, and power no- deration. These retire from the world, not thing where it cannot be felt: and he whose fa- merely to bask in ease or gratify curiosity ; but culties are employed in too close an observation that being disengaged from common cares, they of failings and defects, will find his condition may employ more time in the duties of religion : very little mended by transferring his attention that they may regulate their actions with stricter from others to himself: he will probably soon vigilance, and purify their thoughts by more frecome back in quest of new objects, and be glad quient meditation. to keep his captiousness employed on any cha To men thus elevated above the mists of morracter rather than his own.
tality, I am far from presuming myself qualified Others are seduced into solitude merely by to give directions. On him that
to the authority of great names, and expect to find pass through things temporary," with no other those charms in tranquillity which have allured care than “not to lose finally the things eternal," statesmen and conquerors to the shades: these I lcok with such veneration as inclines me to aplikewise are apt to wonder at their disappoint- prove his conduct in the whole, without a minute ment, for want of considering, that those whom examination of its parts; yet I could never forthey aspire to imitate, carried with them to their bear to wish, that while vice is every day multicountry seats minds full fraught with subjects plying seducements, and stalking forth with more of reflection, the consciousness of great merit
, the hardened effrontery, virtue would not withdraw memory of illustrious actions, the knowledge the influence of her presence, or forbear to assert of important events, and the seeds of mighty de- her natural dignity by open and undaunted persigns to be ripened by future meditation. Soli- severance in the right. Piety practised in solitude was to such men a release from fatigue, and tude, like the flower that blooms in the deserts, an opportunity of usefulness. But what can re- may give its fragrance to the winds of heaven, Lrement confer upon him, who having done no- and delight those unbodied spirits that survey thing, can receive no support from his own im-l the works of God and the actions of men ; but is
Ves!.0've no assistance upon earthly beings, and idle; we see things coveted merely because they nowever free from taints
impurity, yet wants are rare, and pursued because they are fugitive; the sacred splendour of beneficence.
we see men conspire to fix an arbitrary value Our Maker, who though he gave us such va on that which is worthless in itself, and then consieties of teraper and such difference of powers, tend for the possession. One is a collector of get designed us all for happiness, undoubtedly fossils, of which he knows no other use than to intended, that we should obtain that happiness show them; and when he has stocked his own by different means. Some are unable to resist repository, grieves that the stones which he has she temptations of importunity, or the impetuosi- left behind him should be picked up by another. ly of their own passions incited by the force of The florist nurses a tulip, and repines that his present temptations: of these it is undoubtedly rival's beds enjoy the same showers and sunshine ihe duty to fly from enemies which they cannot with his own. This man is hurrying to a conconquer, and to cultivate, in the calm of solitude, cert, only lest others should have heard the new that virtue which is too tender to endure the tem- musician before him; another bursts from his pest of public life. But there are others, whose company to the play, because he fancies himself passions grow more strong and irregular in pri- the patron of an actress; some spend the mornvacy; and who cannot maintain a uniform te- ing in consultations with their tailor, and some nour of virtue, but hy exposing their manners to in directions to their cook; some are forming the public eye, and assisting the admonitions of parties for cards, and some laying wagers at a conscience with the fear of infamy: for such, it is horse-race. dangerous to exclude all witnesses of their con It cannot, I think, be denied, that some of duct till they have formed strong habits of virtue, these lives are passed in trifles, in occupations by and weakened their passions by frequent victo- which the busy neither benefit themselves nor ries. But there is a higher order of men so in others, and by which no man could be long enspired with ardour, and so fortified with resolu- gaged, who seriously considered what he was dotion, that the world passes before them without ing, or had knowledge enough to compare what influence or regard : these ought to consider he is with what he might be made. However, themselves as appointed the guardians of man as people who have the same inclination genekind: they are placed in an evil world, to ex- rally flock together, every trifler is kept in counhibit public examples of good life: and may be tenance by the sight of others as unprofitably said, when they withdraw to solitude, to desert active as himself; by kindling the heat of comthe station which Providence assigned them. petition, he in time thinks himself important, and
by having his mind intensely engaged, he is secured from weariness of himself.
Some degree of self approbation is always the No. 128.] SATURDAY, Jan. 26, 1754. reward of diligence; and I cannot, therefore, but
consider the laborious cultivation of petty pleaIlle sinistrorsum, hic dextrorsum abit; unus utrique sures, as a more happy and more virtuouis disError, sed varriis illudit partibus.
position, than that universal contempt and
haughty negligence, which is sometimes assoWhen in a wood we leave the certain way, One error fools us, though we various stray,
ciated with powerful faculties, but is often asSome to the left, and some to t'other side. FRANCIS. sumed by indolence when it disowns its name,
and aspires to the appellation of greatness of It is common among all the classes of mankind, mind. to charge each other with trifling away life: It has been long observed, that drollery and every man looks on the occupation or amuse- ridicule is the most easy kind of wit: let it be ment of his neighbour as something below the added, that contempt and arrogance is the easidignity of our nature, and unworthy of the at. est philosophy. To find some objection to every tention of a rational being.
thing, and to dissolve in perpetual laziness under A man who considers the paucity of the pretence that occasions are wanting to call forth wants of nature, and who, being acquainted with activity, to laugh at those who are ridiculously the various means by which all manual occupa- busy without setting an example of more rational tions are now facilitated, observes what numbers industry, is no less in the power of the meanest are supported by the labour of a few, would, than of the highest intellects. iadeed, be inclined to wonder, how the multi Our present state has placed us at once in such tudes who are exempted from the necessity of different relations, that every human employworking either for themselves or others, find ment, which is not a visible and immediate act business to fill up the vacuities of life. The of goodness, will be in some respect or other greater part of mankind neither card the fleece, subject to contempt: but it is true, likewise, dig the mine, fell the wood, nor gather in the that almost every act, which is not directly viharvest; they neither tend herds nor build cious, is in some respect beneficial and laudable. houses; in what then are they employed ? “I often,” says Bruyere,“ observe from my
This is certainly a question, which a distant window, two beings of erect form and amiable prospect of the world will not enable us to an- countenance, endowed with the powers of' rea
We find all ranks and ages mingled to son, able to clothe their thoughts in language, gether in a tumultuous confusion, with haste in and convey their notions to each other. They their motions, and eagerness in their looks; but rise early in the morning, and are every day what they have to pursue or avoid, a more mi- employed till sunset in rubbing two smooth nute observation must inform us.
stones together, or, in other terms, in polishing When we analyze the crowd into individuals, marble.” it soon appears that the passions and imagina “If lions could paint,” says the fable, “in the tions of men will not easily suffer them to be room of those pictures which exhibit men van
quishing lions, we should see lions feeding upon or miserable as he succeeds or miscarries: the mon.” If the stone-cutier could have written man of sedentary desire and unactive ambition like Bruyere, what would he have replied ? sits comparing his power with his wishes; and
“I look up,” says he, “every day from my makes his inability to perform things impossible, shop upon a man whom the idlers, who stand an excuse to himself for performing nothing. Man still to gaze upon my work, often celebrate as a
can only form a just estimate of his own actions, wit and a philosopher. I often perceive his face by making his power the test of his performance, clouded with care, and am told that his taper is by comparing what he does with what he can do. sometimes burning at midnight. The sight of a Whoever steadily perseveres in the exertion of man who works so much harder than myself, ex- all his faculties, does what is great with respect cited my curiosity. I heard no sound of tools in to himself; and what will not be despised by his apartment, and, therefore, could not imagine Him, who has given to all created beings their what he was doing; but was told at last, that he different abilities: he faithfully performs the task was writing descriptions of mankind, who when of life, within whatever limits his labours may be he had described them would live just as they confined, or how soon soever they may be forhad lived before ; that he sat up whole nights to gotten. change a sentence, because the sound of a letter
We can conceive so much more than we can was too often repeated : that he was often dis- accomplish, that whoever tries his own actions quicted with doubts, about the propriety of a by his imagination, may appear despicable in his word which every body understood ; that he own eyes. He that despises for its littleness any would hesitate between two expressions equally thing really useful, has no pretensions to applaud proper, till he could not fix his choice but by con- the grandeur of his conceptions; since nothing suiting his friends; that he will run from one but narrowness of mind hinders him from seecud of Paris to the other, for an opportunity of ing, that by pursuing the same principles every reading a period to a nice ear; that if a single thing limited will appear contemptible. line is heard with coldness and inattention, he He that neglects the care of his family, whi's returns home dejected and disconsolate; and his benevolence expands itself in scheming the that by all this care and labour, he hopes only to happiness of imaginary kingdoms, might with make a little book, which at last will teach no equal reason sit on a throne dreaming of univeruseful art, and which none who has it not will sal empire, and of the diffusion of blessings over perceive himself to want. I have often wonder- all the globe: yet even this globe is little, comed for what end such a being as this was sent into pared with the system of matter within our view; the world; and should be glad to see those who and that system barely something more than live thus foolishly, seized by an order of the go: nonentity, compared with the boundless regions vernment, and obliged to labour at some useful of space, to which neither eye nor imagination occupation."
can extend. Thus, by a partial and imperfect representa From conceptions, therefore, of what we might tion, may every thing be made equaliy ridicu- have been, and from wishes to be what we are lous. He that gazed with contempt on human not, conceptions that we know to be foolish, and beings rubbing stones together, might have pro-wishes which we feel to be vain, we must neceslonged the same amusement by walking through sarily descend to the consideration of what we the city, and seeing others with looks of import- are. We have powers very scanty in their utance heaping one brick upon another; or by most extent, but which in different men are diframbling into the country, where he might ob- ferently proportioned. Suitably to these powers serve other creatures of the same kind driving we have duties prescribed, which we must neiin pieces of sharp iron into the clay, or, in the ther decline for the sake of delighting ourselves language of men less enlightened, ploughing the with easier amusements, nor overlook in idle field.
contemplation of greater excellence or more exAs it is thus easy by a detail of minute circum- tensive comprehension. stances to make every thing little, so it is not In order to the right conduct of our lives, wel dificult by an aggregation of effects to make must remember that we are not born to please every thing great. The polisher of marble may ourselves. He that studies simply his own satisbe forming ornaments for the palaces of virtue, faction, will always find the proper business of and the schools of science: or providing tables his station too hard or to easy for him. But if on which the actions of heroes and the disco- we bear continually in mind, our relation to The veries of sages shall be recorded, for the incite- Father of Being, by whom we are placed in the ment and instruction of future generations. The world, and who has allotted us the part which mason is exercising one of the principal arts by we are to bear in the general system of life, we which reasoning beings are distinguished from shall be easily persuaded to resign our own in. the brute, the art to which life owes much of its clinations to Ünerring Wisdom, and do the work safety and all its convenience, by which we are decreed for us with cheerfulness and diligence. secured from the inclemency of the seasons, and fortified against the ravages of hostility; and the ploughınan is changing the face of nature, dif, No. 131.] Tuesday, Feb. 5, 1754. fusing plenty and happiness over kingdoms, and compelling the earth to give food to her inhabitants.
Ergo aliquid nostris de moribus. Greatness and littleness are terms merely com
And mingle something of our times to please. parative; and we err in our estimation of things,
DRYDEN, JUN because we measure them by some wrong standard. The trifler proposes to himself only to Fontenelle, in his panegyric on Sir Isaac New equal or excel some other trifler, and is happy ton, closes a long enumeration of that greai phi