« PreviousContinue »
it, and the kind Reception it procures us in the World, we must examine it by the following Rules.
FIRST, Whether it acts with Steddiness and Uni-.. formity in Sickness and in Health, in Prosperity and in Adversity; if otherwise, it is to be looked upon as ncthing else but an Irradiation of the Mind from some new Supply of Spirits, or a more kindly Circulation of the Blood. Sir Francis Bacon mentions a cunning Sollicitor, who would never ask a Favour of a great Man before Dinner; but took Care to prefer his Petition at a Time when the Party petitioned had bis Mind free from Care, and his Appetites in good Humour. Such a transient Temporary Good-Nature as this, is not that Philanthropie, that Love of Mankind, which deserves the Title of a Moral Virtue.
THE next way of a Man's bringing his Good-Na:ure to the Test, is, to consider whether it operates according to the Rules of Reason and Duty: For if, notwithstanding its general Benevolence to Mankind, it makes no Distina ction between its Objects, if it cxerts it self promiscuoufly towards the Deferving and the Undeserving, if it relieves alike the Idle and the Indigent, if it gives it felf up to the first Petitioner, and lights upon any other rather by Accident than Choice, it may pass for an amiable Instinct, but must not assume the Name of a Moral Virtue.
THE Third Tryal of Good-Nature will be, the exami: ning our felves, whether or no we are able to exert it to our own Disadvantage, and employ it on proper Objects, notwithstanding any litele Pain, Want, or inconvenience which may arise to our felves from it : In a Word, whe. ther we are willing to risque any part of our Fortune, our Reputation, our Health or Ease, for the Benefit of Mankind. Among all these Expressions of Good-Nature, I fhall single out that which goes under the general Name of Charity, as it consists in relieving the Indigent; that being a Tryal of this Kind which offers it self to us almost at all Times and in every Place.
I Mhould propose it as a Rule to every one, who is pros vided with any Competency of Fortune more than fufficient for the Necessaries of Life, to lay alide a certain
Proportion of his Income for the Use of the Poor. This I would look upon as an Offering to him who has a Right to the Whole, for the Use of those whom, in the passage hereafter mentioned, he has described as his own Representatives upon Earth. At the same Time we should manage our Charity with such Prudence and Caution, that we may not hurt our own Friends or Relations, whilft we are doing Good to those who are Strangers to us.
THIS may possibly be explained better by an Example than by a Rule.
EUGENIUS is a Man of an universal Good-Nature, and generous beyond the Extent of his Fortune; but withal so prudent in the Occonomy of his Affairs, that what goes out in Charity is made up by good Management. Eugenius has what the World calls Two hundred Pounds a Year; but never values himself above Ninescore, as not thinking he has a Right to the Tenth Part, which he al. ways appropriates to charitable Uses. To this Sum he frequently makes other voluntary Additions, infomuch that in a good Year, for such he accounts those in which he has been able to make greater Bounties than ordinary, he has given above twice that Sum to the Sickly and Indigent. Eugenius prescribes to himself many particular Days of Fasting and Abftinence, in order to encrease his private Bank of Charity, and fets aside wbat would be the current Expences of those Times for the Use of the Poor. He often goes a-foot where his Business calls him, and at the End of his Walk has given a Shilling, which in his ordinary Methods of Expence would have gone for CoachHire, to the first Necessitous Person that has fallen in his Way. I have known him, when he has been going to a Play or an Opera, divert the Money which was deligned for that Purpose, upon an Object of Charity whom lac has met with in the Street; and afterwards pass his Eve., ning in a Coffee-House, or at a Friend's Fire-side, with much greater Satisfaction to himself than he could have received from the most exquisite Entertainments of the Theatre, By these means he is generous without impoverishing himself, and enjoys his Estate by making it the Property of others.
THERE are few Men fo cramped in their private 'Affairs, who may not be charitable after this manner, without any Disadvantage to themselves, or Prejudice to their Families. It is but sometimes facrificing a Diverfion or Convenience to the Poor, and turning the usual Course of our Expences into a better Channel. This is, I think, not only the most prudent and convenient, but the most meritorious Piece of Charity, which we can put in Practice. By this Method we in some measure Share the Necessities of the Poor at the fame Time that we relieve them, and make our felves not only their Patrons, but their Fellow-Sufferers.
SIR Thomas Brown, in the last part of his Religio Medici, in which he describes his Charity in several Heroick Instances, and with a noble Heat of Sentiments, mentions that Verse in the Proverbs of Solomon, He that giveth to the Poor lendeth to the Lord: " There is more Rhetorick • in that one Sentence, says he, than in a Library of Sere • mons; and indeed if those Sentences were understood • by the Reader, with the fame Emphasis as they are de« livered by the Author, we needed not those Volumes of Instructions, but might be honest by an Epitome.
THIS Paslage in Scripture is indeed wonderfully perSwalive; but I think the fame Thought is carried much further in the New Testament, where our Saviour tells us in a most pathetick manner, that he shall hereafter regard the Cloathing of the Naked, the Feeding of the Hungry, and the Visiting of the Imprisoned, as Offices done to himself, and reward them accordingly. Pursuant to those Passages in Holy. Scripture, I have fomewhere met with the Epitaph of a charitable Man, which has very much pleased me. I cannot recollect the Words, but the sense of it is to this purpofe: What I spent I loft; what I possessed is left to others; what I gave away remains with me.
SINCE I am thus infenfibly engaged in Sacred. Writ, I cannot forbear making an Extract of several Passages which I have always read with great Delight in the Book of 706. It is the Account which that Holy Man gives of
his Bebaviour in the Days of bis Prosperity, and if con“ sidered only as a humane Composition, is a finer Picture of a charitable and good-natur'd Man than is to be met with in any other Author.
OH that I were as in Months past, as in the Days when God preserved me : When his candle soined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness: When the
Almighty was yet with me ; when my Children were about me: When I Washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured out rivers of oyl.
WHEN the Ear heard me, then it blessed me ; and when the Eye saw me it gave witness to me. Because I de livered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me, and I caused the Widow's heart to song for joy. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame; I was a father to the poor, and the cause which I knew not I searched out. Did I not weep for him that was in trouble, was not my Soul grieved for the poor? Let me be weighed in an even ballance, that God may know mine Integrity. If I did despise the cause of my man-fervant or of my maid-servänt when they contended with me: What then Mall I do when God riseth up ? and when he visiteth what mall I answer him ? Did not be that made me in the womb, make him ? and did not one fashion us in the womb ? If I have with held the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widom to fail, or have eaten my morsel my self alone, and the fatherless bath not eaten thereof: if í have seen any perish for want of cloathing, or any poor without covering : If his loyns have not blerfed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my Meep : If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless when I saw my help in the gate ; then let mine arm fall from my moulder-blade, and mine arms be broken from the bone. If I have rejoyced at the Destruction of him that hated me, or lift up my self when evil found him : (Neither have I suffered my mouth to fin, by wishing a curse to his soul.) The Stranger did not lodge in the street; but I opened my doors to the traveller. If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise thereof complain. If I have eaten the Fruits thereof, without money, or have caused the owners thereof
to lose their Life ; Let shiftles grow inflead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley.
No 178. Monday, September 24.
Hor? I Cannot defer taking Notice of this Letter.
Mr. SPECTATOR, 'I Am but too good a Judge of your Paper of the 15th *1 Instant, which is a Master-piece ; I mean that • of Jealousy : But I think it unworthy of you to speak ' of that Torture in the Breast of a Man, and not to "mention also the Pangs of it in the Heart of a Woman. ! You have very Judiciously, and with the greatest Pe• netration imaginable, considered it as Woman is the • Creature of whom the Diffidence is raised ;- but not a
Word of a Man, who is so unmerciful as to move, Jez• lousy in his wife, and not care whether she is so or ' nor. It is possible you may not believe there are such • Tyrants in the World ;. but alas I can tell you of a • Man who is ever out of Humour in his Wife's Com• pany, and the pleasantest Man in the World every • where else ; the greatest Sloven at home when he
appears to none but bis Family, and most exactly well• dressed in all other places. Alas, Sir, is it of Course, • that to deliver one's self wholly into a Man's Power • without Pollibility of Appeal to any other Jurisdiction • but to his own Reflections, is so little an Obligation • to a Gentleman, that he can be offended and fall into a • Rage, because my Heart swells Tears into my Eyes « when I see him in a cloudy Mood ? I pretend to 10 • Succour, and hope for no Relief but from himself ; • and yet he that has Sense and Justice in every thing
elle, never reflects, that to come home only to feep off an Intemperance, and spend all the Time he is