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him towards the house, that we might be joined by some
“Quicquid agit Rufus, nihil est nisi Naevia Rufo;
XIII. THE SHAME OF POVERTY AND THE
DREAD OF IT.
Wednesday, July 11, 1711.
Paupertatis pudor et fuga.
ECONOMY in our affairs has the same effect upon our fortunes which good breeding has upon our conversations, There is a pretending behavior in both cases, which, instead of making men esteemed, renders them both 24 miserable and contemptible. We had yesterday at Sir Roger's, a set of country gentlemen who dined with him; and after dinner, the glass was taken by those who pleased
pretty plentifully. Among others, I observed a person of a tolerable good aspect, who seemed to be more greedy of liquor than any of the company; and yet, methought,
he did not taste it with delight. As he grew warm, he 5 was suspicious of everything that was said; and as he
advanced towards being fuddled, his humor grew worse. At the same time, his bitterness seemed to be rather an inward dissatisfaction in his own mind than any dislike
he had taken at the company. Upon hearing his name, 10 I knew him to be a gentleman of a considerable fortune in
this county, but greatly in debt. What gives the unhappy man this peevishness of spirit is, that his estate is dipped and is eating out with usury; and yet he has not the heart
to sell any part of it. His proud stomach, at the cost of 15 restless nights, constant inquietudes, danger of affronts,
and a thousand nameless inconveniences, preserves this canker in his fortune, rather than it shall be said he is a man of fewer hundreds a year than he has been commonly
reputed. Thus he endures the torment of poverty, to 20 avoid the name of being less rich. If you go to his house
you see great plenty, but served in a manner that shows it is all unnatural, and that the master's mind is not at home. There is a certain waste and carelessness in the
air of everything, and the whole appears but a covered 25 indigence, a magnificent poverty. That neatness and
cheerfulness which attends the table of him who lives within compass, is wanting, and exchanged for a libertine way of service in all about him.
This gentleman's conduct, though a very common way 30 of management, is as ridiculous as that officer's would be
who had but few men under his command, and should take the charge of an extent of country rather than of a small pass. To pay for, personate and keep in a man's
, hands a greater estate than he really has, is of all others
the most unpardonable vanity, and must in the end reduce
if that may be called by so soft
in a short time advance them to the condition which they pretend to.
Laertes has fifteen hundred pounds a year, which is moftgaged for six thousand pounds; but it is impossible 10 to convince him that if he sold as much as would
off that debt he would save four shillings in the pound, which he gives for the vanity of being the reputed master of it. Yet, if Laertes did this, he would perhaps be easier in his own fortune; but then, Irus, a fellow of yesterday, 15 who has but twelve hundred a year, would be his equal. Rather than this shall be, Laertes goes on to bring wellborn beggars into the world, and every twelvemonth charges his estate with at least one year's rent more by the birth of a child.
Laertes and Irus are neighbors, whose way of living are an abomination to each other. Trus is moved by the fear of poverty, and Laertes by the shame of it. Though the motive of action is of so near affinity in both, and
be resolved into this,
“ That to each of them poverty is the 25 greatest of all evils," yet are their
manners very widely different. Shame of poverty makes Laertes launch into unnecessary equipage, vain expense, and lavish entertainments; fear of poverty makes Irus allow himself only plain necessaries, appear without a servant, sell his own corn, 30 attend his laborers, and be himself a laborer. Shame
, of poverty makes Laertes go every day a step nearer to it, and fear of poverty stirs up Irus to make every day some further progress from it.
These different motives produce the excesses which men are guilty of in the negligence of and provision for themselves. Usury, stock-jobbing, extortion, and oppres
sion have their seed in the dread of want; and vanity, 5 riot, and prodigality, from the shame of it: but both these
excesses are infinitely below the pursuit of a reasonable creature. After we have taken care to command so much as is necessary for maintaining ourselves in the order of
men suitable to our character, the care of superfluities is 10 a vice no less extravagant than the neglect of necessaries would have been before.
Certain it is that they are both out of nature when she is followed with reason and good sense. It is from this
reflection that I always read Mr. Cowley with the greatest 15 pleasure. His magnanimity is as much above that of other
considerable men, as his understanding; and it is a true distinguishing spirit in the elegant author who published his works, to dwell so much upon the temper of his mind
and the moderation of his desires. By this means he has 20 rendered his friend as amiable as famous. That state of
life which bears the face of poverty with Mr. Cowley's “great vulgar.” is admirably described ; and it is no small satisfaction to those of the same turn of desire, that he
produces the authority of the wisest men of the best age 25 of the world, to strengthen his opinion of the ordinary pursuits of mankind.
It would, methinks, be no ill maxim of life, if, according to that ancestor of Sir Roger whom I lately mentioned,
levery man would point to himself what sum he would 30 resolve not to exceed. He might by this means cheat "himself into a tranquillity on this side of that expectation, or convert what he should get above it to nobler uses than his own pleasures or necessities.
This temper of mind would exempt a man from an
ignorant envy of restless men above him, and a more inexcusable contempt of happy men below him. This would be sailing by some compass, living with some design; but to be eternally bewildered in prospects of future gain, and putting on unnecessary armor against 5 improbable blows of fortune, is a mechanic being, which has not good sense for its direction, but is carried on by a sort of acquired instinct towards things below our consideration and unworthy our esteem.
It is possible that the tranquillity I now enjoy at Sir 10 Roger's may have created in me this way of thinking, which is so abstracted from the common relish of the world; but, as I am now in a pleasing arbor, surrounded with a beautiful landscape, I find no inclination so strong as to continue in these mansions, so remote from the 15 ostentatious scenes of life; and am, at this present writing, philosopher enough to conclude, with Mr. Cowley,–
“If e'er ambition did my fancy cheat,
XIV. LABOR AND EXERCISE.
Thursday, July 12, 1711.
Ut sit mens sana in corpore sano.
Juv. BODILY labor is of two kinds : either that which a man submits to for his livelihood, that which he undergoes for his pleasure. The latter of them generally changes the name of labor for that of exercise, but differs only 25 from ordinary labor as it rises, from another motive.
A country life abounds in both these kinds of labor, and for that reason gives a man a greater stock of health,