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N° 624. WEDNESDAY, NOV. 24, 1714.
Audire, atque togam jubew componere, quisquis
Hor. 2 Sat. iii. 77.
Mankind is divided into two parts, the busy and the idle. The busy world may be divided into the virtuous and the vicious. The vicious again into the covetous, the ambitious, and the sensual. The idle part of mankind are in a state inferior to any one'of these. All the other are engaged in the pursuit of happiness, though often misplaced, and are therefore more likely to be attentive to such means as shall be proposed to them for that end. The idle, who are neither wise for this world nor the next, are emphatically called by doctor Tillotson · fools at large. They propose to themselves no end, but run adrift with every wind. Advice therefore would be but thrown away upon them, since they would scarce take the pains to read it. I shall not fatigue any of this worthless tribe with a long harangue; but will leave them with this short saying of Plato, that · labour is preferable to idleness, as brightness to rust.'
The pursuits of the active part of mankind are either in the paths of religion and virtue; or, on the other hand, in the roads to wealth, honours, or pleasure. I shall, therefore, compare the pursuits of avarice, ambition, and sensual delight, with their
opposite virtues; and shall consider which of these principles engages men in a course of the greatest labour, suffering, and assiduity. Most men in their cool reasonings are willing to allow that a course of virtue will in the end be rewarded the most amply; but represent the way to it as rugged and narrow. If therefore it can be made appear, that men struggle through as many troubles to be miserable, as they do to be happy, my readers may, perhaps, be persuaded to be good when they find they shall lose nothing by it.
First, for avarice. The miser is more industrious than the saint: the pains of getting, the fears of losing, and the inability of enjoying his wealth, have been the mark of satire in all ages. Were his repentance upon his neglect of a good bargain, his sorrow for being over-reached, his hope of improving a sum, and his fear of falling into want, directed to their proper objects, they would make so many different Christian graces and virtues. He may apply to himself a great part of saint Paul's catalogue of sufferings. In journeying often; in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils among false brethren. In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often.' At how much less expense might he' lay up to himself treasures in heaven!' Or, if I may in this place be allowed to add the saying of a great philosopher, he may provide such possessions as fear neither arms, nor men, nor Jove himself.'
In the second place, if we look upon the toils of ambition in the same light as we have considered those of avarice, we shall readily own that far less trouble is requisite to gain lasting glory than the power and reputation of a few years; or, in other words, we may with more ease deserve honour than
obtain it. The ambitious man should remember cardinal Wolsey's complaint, “Had I served God with the same application wherewith I served my king, he would not have forsaken me in my old age.' The cardinal here softens his ambition by the specious pretence of serving his king;' whereas his words, in the proper construction, imply, that, if instead of being acted* by ambition, he had been acted* by religion, he should have now felt the comforts of it, when the whole world turned its back upon him.
Thirdly, let us compare the pains of the sensual with those of the virtuous, and see which are heavier
in the balance. It may seem strange, at the first - view, that the men of pleasure should be advised to change their course, because they lead a painful life. Yet when we see them so active and vigilant in quest of delight; under so many disquiets, and the sport of such various passions ; let them answer, as they can, if the pains they undergo do not outweigh their enjoyments. The infidelities on the one part between the two sexes, and the caprices on the other, the debasement of reason, the pangs of expectation, the disappointments in possession, the stings of remorse, the vanities and vexations attending even the most refined delights that make up this business of life, render it so silly and uncomfortable, that no man is thought wise until he hath got over it, or happy, but in proportion as he hath cleared himself from it.
The sum of all is this. Man is made an active being. Whether he walks in the paths of virtue or vice, he is sure to meet with many difficulties to prove his patience and excite his industry. The same, if not greater labour, is required in the ser.
vice of vice and folly as of virtue and wisdom; and he hath this easy choice left him, whether, with the strength_he is master of, he will purchase happiness or repentance.
N° 625. FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 1714.
HoR. 3 Od. vi. 23.
The love-casuist hath referred to me the following letter of queries, with his answers to each question, for my approbation. I have accordingly considered the several matters therein contained, and hereby confirm and ratify his answers, and require the gentle querist to conform herself thereto.
I was thirteen the 9th of November last, and must now begin to think of settling myself in the world; and so I would humbly beg your advice, what I must do with Mr. Fondle, who makes his addresses to me, He is a very pretty man, and hath the blackest eyes and whitest teeth you ever saw. Though he is but a younger brother, he dresses like a man of quality, and nobody comes into a room like him. I know he hath refused great offers, and if he cannot marry me he will never have any body else. But my father hath forbid him the house, because he sent me a copy of verses; for he is one of the greatest wits in town. My eldest sister, who with her good will would
call me miss as long as I live, must be married before me, they say. She tells them that Mr. Fondle makes a fool of me, and will spoil the child, as she calls me, like a confident thing as she is. In short, I am resolved to marry Mr. Fondle, if it be but to spite her. But because I would do nothing that is imprudent, I beg of you to give me your answers to some questions I will write down, and desire you to get them printed in the Spectator, and I do not doubt but you will give such advice as, I am sure, I shall follow.
When Mr. Fondle looks upon me for half an hour together, and calls me Angel, is he not in love ?
May not I be certain he will be a kind husband, that has promised me half my portion in pin money, and to keep me a coach and six in the bargain?'
No. - Whether I, who have been acquainted with him this whole year almost, am not a better judge of his merit than my father and mother, who never heard him talk but at table ?'
• Whether I am not old enough to choose for myself?'.
? Whether it would not have been rude in me to refuse a lock of his hair ? No.
Should not I be a very barbarous creature, if I did not pity a man that is always sighing for my sake ? No.
Whether you would not advise me to run away with the poor man?'.