« PreviousContinue »
very reasonably be concluded, that if it were put into a due balance, according to the true state of the account, many who believe themselves in possession of a large share of dignity in the world, must give place to their inferiors. The greatest of all distinctions in civil life is that of debtor and creditor; and there needs no great progress in logic to know which, in that case, is the advantageous side. He who can say to another, Pray, master," or
pray, my lord, give me my own," can as justly tell him, • It is a fantastical distinction you take upon you, to pretend to pass upon the world for my master or lord, when, at the same time that I wear your livery, you owe me wages; or, while I wait at your door, you are ashamed to see me until you have paiil my bill."
The good old way among the gentry of England, to maintain their pre-eminence over the lower rank, was by their bounty, munificence, and hospitality; and it is a very unhappy change, if at present, by themselves or their agents, the luxury of the gentry is supported by the credit of the trader. This is what any corresporident pretends to prove out of his own books, and those of his whole neighbourhood. He has the confidence to say, that there is a mughouse near Long-acre, where you may every evening hear an exact account of distresses of this kind. One complains that such a lady's finery is the occasion that his own wife and daughter appear so long in the same gown. Another, that all the furniture of her visiting apartment are no more her's, than the scenery of a play are the proper goods of the actress. Nay, at the lower end of the same table, you may bear a butcher and poulterer say, that, at their proper charge, all that family has been maintained since they last came to town.
The free manner, in which people of fashion are discoursed on at such meetings, is but a just reproach of their failures in this kind; but ihe melancholy relations of the great necessities tradesmen are driven to, who support their credit in spite of the faithless promises which are made them, and the abatement which they suffer when paid by the extortion of upper servants, is what would stop the most thoughtless man in the career of his pleasures, if rightly represented to him.
If this matter be not very speedily amended, I shall think fit to print exact lists of all persons who are not at their own disposal, though above the age of twenty-one; and as the trader is made bankrupt for absence from his abode, so shall the gentleman for being at home, if, when Mr. Morphew calls, he cannot give an exact account of what passes in his own family. After this fair warning, no one ought to think bimself hardly dealt with, if I take upon me to pronounce bim no longer master of his estate, wife, or family, than he continues to improve, cherish, and maintain them upon the basis of his own property, without incursions upon his neighbour in any of these particulars.
According to that excellent philosopher Epictetus, we are all but acting parts in a play; and it is not a distinction in itself to be high or low, but to become the parts we are to perform. I am by my office prompter on this occasion; and shall give those who are a little out in their parts, such soft hints as may help them to proceed, without letting it be known to the audience they were out : but if they run quite cut of character, they must be called off the stage, and receive parts more suitable to their genius. Servile complaisance shall degrade a man from his honour and quality, and haughtiness be yet more debased. Fortune shall no longer ap
propriate distinctions, but nature direct us in the disposition both of respect and discountenance. As there are tempers made for command, and others for obedience; so there are men born for acquiring possessions, and others incapable of being other than miere lodgers in the houses of their ancestors, and have it not in their very composition to be proprietors of any thing. These men are moved only by the mere effects of impulse: their good-will and disesteem are to be regarded equally; for neither is the effect of their judgment. This loose temper is that which makes a man, what Sallust so well remarks to happen frequently in the same person, to be covetous of what is another's, and profuse of what is his own. This sort of men is usually amiable to ordinary eyes; but in the sight of reason, nothing is laudable but what is guided by ason. The covetous prodigal is of all others the worst man in society. If he would but take time to look into himself, he would find his soul all over gaslied with broken vows and promises ; and bis retrospect on his actions would not consist of reflections upon those good resolutions after mature thought, which are the true life of a reasonable creature, but the nauseous memory of imperfect pleasures, idle dreains, and occasional amusements. To follow such dissatisfying pursuits, is it possible to suffer the ignominy of being unjust? I remember in Tully's Epistle, in the recommendation of a mau to an affair which had no manner of relation to
money, it is said, “ You may. trust him, for he is a frugal man." It is certain, he, who has not regard to strict justice in the commerce of life, can be capable of no good action in any other kind; but he, who lives below his income, lays up every moment of life armour against a base world, that will cover
all his frailties while he is so tortified, and exaggerate them when he is naked and defenceless.
ADVERTISEMENT. A stage-coach sets out exactly at six from Nandos coffee-house to Mr. Tiptoe's dancing, school, and returns at eleven every evening, for one shilling and four-pence.
N. B. Dancing-shoes, not exceeding four inches height in the heels, and periwigs, not exceeding three feet in length, are carried in the coach-box gratis.
N° 181. TUESDAY, JUNE 6, 1710.
-Dies, ni fallor, adest, quem semper acerbum,
VIRG. Æn. v. 49.
From my own Apartment, June 5. THERE are those among mankind, who can enjoy no relish of their being, except the world is made acquainted with all that relates to them, and think every thing lost that passes unobserved; but others find a solid delight in stealing by the crowd, and modelling their life after such a manner, as is as much above the approbation as the practice of the vulgar. Life being too short to give instances great enough of true friendship or good-will, some' sages have thought it pious to preserve a certain reverence for the Manes of their deceased friends; and have withdrawn themselves from the rest of the world at certain seasons, to commemorate in their own thoughts such of their acquaintance who have gone before them out of this life. And indeed, when we are advanced in years, there is not a more pleasing entertainment, than to recollect in a gloomy moment the many we have parted with, that have been dear and agreeable to us, and to cast a melancholy thought or two after those with whom, perhaps, we have indulged ourselves in whole nights of mirth and jollity. With such inclinations in my heart I went to my closet yesterday in the evening, and resolved to be sorrowful ; upon which occasion I could not but look with disdain upon myself, that though all the reasons which I had to lament the loss of many of my friends are now as forcible as at the moment of their departure, yet did not my heart swell with the same sorrow which I felt at that time; but I could, without tears, reflect upon many pleasing adventures I have had with some, who have long been blended with common earth, Though it is by the benefit of nature, that length of time thus blots out the violence of afflictions; yet with tempers too much given to pleasure, it is almost necessary to revive the old places of grief in our memory; and ponder step by step on past life, to lead the mind into that sobriety of thought which poizes the heart, and makes it beat with due tiine, without being quickened with desire, or res tarded with despair, from its proper and equal motion. When we wind up a clock that is out of order, to make it go well for the future, we do not immediately set the hand to the present instant, but we make it strike the round of all its hours, before