« AnteriorContinuar »
THE WAY OF THE WORLD.
WHEN we reflect on the manner in which mankind generally confer their favours, we shall find that they who seem to want them least are the very persons who most liberally receive them. Every man who has seen the world, and has had his ups and downs in life, as the expression is, must have frequently experienced the truth of this doctrine, and must know that to have much, or to seem to have it, is the only way to have more. Thus, when a man has no occasion to borrow, he finds numbers willing to lend to him.
Jack Spindle and I were old acquaintances; but he's gone. Jack was bred in a counting-house, and his father dying just as he was out of his time, left him a handsome fortune, and many friends to advise with. The restraint in which he had been brought up had thrown a gloom upon his temper, which some regarded as habitual prudence; and from such considerations he had every day repeated ofters of friendship. Those who had money were ready to offer him their assistance that way; and they who had daughters, frequently in the warmth of affection advised him to marry. Jack, however, was in good circumstances; he wanted neither money, friends, nor a wife, and therefore modestly declined their proposals.
Some errors in the management of his affairs, and several losses in trade, soon brought Jack to a different way of thinking; and he at last thought it the best way to let his friends know that their offers were at length acceptable. His first address was, therefore, to a scrivener, who had formerly made him frequent offers of money and friendship, at a time when, perhaps, he knew those offers would be refused.
Jack, therefore, thought he might use his old friend without any ceremony; and, as, a man confident of not being refused, requested the loan of a hundred guineas for a few
days, as he just then had an occasion for money. “And pray, ,
, Mr. Spindle," replied the scrivener,“ do you want all this money?" .
“Want it, sir !” says the other : “if I did not want it, I should not have asked it.” “I am sorry for that," says the friend; "for those who want money when they come to borrow will want when they should come to pay. To say the truth, Mr. Spindle, money is money now-a-days. I believe it is all sunk in the bottom of the sea, for my part ; and he that has got a little is a fool if he does not keep what he has got."
Not quite disconcerted by this refusal, our adventurer was resolved to apply to another, whom he knew to be the very best friend he had in the world. The gentleman whom he now addressed received his proposal with all the affability that could be expected from generous friendship. “ Let me see,--you want a hundred guineas; and
dear Jack, would not fifty answer?” “If you have but fifty to spare, sir, I must be contented.”
Fifty to spare ! I do not say that, for I believe I have but twenty about me.” “Then I must borrow the other thirty from some other friend.” “And pray," replied the friend, “would it not be the best way to borrow the whole money from that other friend, and then one note will serve for all, you know? Mr. Spindle, make no ceremony with me at any time; you know I'm your friend, when you choose a bit of dinner
You, Tom, see the gentleman down. You won't forget to dine with us now and then ? Your very humble servant."
Every day now began to strip Jack of his former finery; his clothes flew piece by piece to the pawnbroker's; and he seemed at length equipped in the genuine mourning of antiquity. But still he thought himself secure from starving; the numberless invitations he had received to dine, even after his losses, were yet unanswered; he was, therefore, now resolved to accept of a dinner, because he wanted one ; and in this manner he actually lived among his friends
a whole week without being openly affronted. The last place I saw poor Jack was at the Rev. Dr. Gosling's. He had,
I as he fancied, just nicked the time, for he came in as a servant was laying the cloth. He took a chair without being desired, and talked for some time without being attended to. He assured the company that nothing procured so good an appetite as a walk to White Conduit House, where he had been that morning. He looked at the table-cloth, and praised the figure of the damask, talked of a feast where he had been the day before, but that the venison was overdone. All this, however, procured the poor creature no invitation, and he was not yet sufficiently hardened to stay without being asked ; wherefore, finding the gentleman of the house insensible to all his fetches, he thought proper at last to retire, and mend his appetite by a walk in the Park.
THERE is a virtue which, like the philosopher's stone, turns all it touches into gold, and gives a lustre to all it shines upon. That virtue is sweet content; which, if it does not bring riches, does the same thing, by banishing the desire of them. If it cannot remove the ills of life, it makes a man easy under them. It extinguishes all murmuring, repining, and ingratitude towards that Being who has allotted to each one his part to act in this world, and has bound to each one's back the burden he is to carry from stage to stage through life. It gives sweetness to our conversation, and a perpetual serenity to all our thoughts.
Among the many methods which might be made use of for the acquiring of this virtue, I shall only mention the two following: First of all, a man should always consider how much he has more than he wants; and, secondly, how much more unfortunate he might be than he is.
First of all, a man should always consider how much more he has than he wants. I am wonderfully pleased with the reply which Aristippus made to one who condoled him upon the loss of his farm : Why,” said he, “I have three farms still, and you have but one ; so that I ought rather to be afflicted for you than you for me.". On the contrary, foolish men are more apt to consider what they have lost than what they possess, and to fix their eyes upon those who are richer than themselves rather than on those who are under greater difficulties. All the real pleasures and conveniences of life lie in a narrow compass.
The homely proverb, "Enough is as good as a feast," applies not only to food, but to all the means of supporting and enjoying life. He alone is truly rich who has more than he wants. - man's estate be as large as you please, he is a poor man if he does not live within it. On the other hand, however small a man's property may be, he is a rich man if it supplies all he wants. Content," says Socrates, “is natural wealth.”
In the second place, every one ought to reflect how much more unfortunate he might be than he really is. Whatever misfortune
have befallen us, it will be easy to compare our own lot with that of others still harder to bear, or to discover some happy circumstance in our adverse fortune. I like the story of the honest Dutchman, who, upon breaking his leg by a fall from the mainmast, told the standers-by it was a great mercy that it was not his neck.
Upon the whole a contented mind is the greatest blessing a man can enjoy, for it enables him to make the most of this world's good, and the least of its evil.