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seized at night a very large sum of money in the compting-house,and setting out he knew not whither, yras heard of no more.
The consequence ofhis flight was the ruin of Candidus i ruin surely undeserved and irreproachable, and, such as the laws of a just government ought either to prevent or repair: nothing is more inequitable than that one man should suffer for the crimes of another, for crimes which he neither prompted nor permitted, which he could neither foresee nor prevent. When we consider the weakness of human resolutions and the inconsistency of human conduct, it must appear absurd that one man shall engage for another, that he will not change his opinions or alter his conduct.
It is, I think, worthy of consideration, whether since no wager is binding without a possibility oflofs on each side, it is not equally reasonable, that no contract should be valid without reciprocal stipulations: but in this case, and others of the fame kind, what is stipulated on his side to whom the bond is given? he takes advantage of the security, neglects his affairs, omits his duty, suffers timorous wickedness to grow daring by degrees, permits appetite to call for new gratifications, and, perhaps, secretly longs for the time in which he shall have power to seize the forseiture: and is virtue or gratitude should prove too strong for temptation, and a young man persist in honesty, however instigated by his passions, what can secure him at last against a false accufa-' tion? I for my part always shall suspect, that he who can by such methods secure his property, will go one step farther to increase it: nor can I think that
man fasely trusted with the means of mischief, who, by his desire to have them in his hands, gives an evident proof how much less he values his neighbour's happiness than his own.
Another of our companions is LentuluSy a man whofe dignity of birth was very ill supported by his fortune. As some of the first offices in the kingdom were filled by his relations, he was early invited to court, and encouraged by caresses and promises to attendance and solicitation: a constant appearance in splendid company necessarily required magnificence of dress; and a frequent participation of fashionable amusements forced him into expence: but these measures were requisite to his success; since every body knows, that to be lost to sight is to be lost to remembrance, and that he who desires to fill a vacancy, must be always at hand, lest some man of greater vigilance should step in before him.
By this course of lise his little fortune was every day made less: but he received so many distinctions in public, and was known to resort so familiarly to the houses of the great, that every man looked on his preserment as certain, and believed that its value would compenfate for its siowness: he, therefore, sound no difficulty in obtaining credit for all that his rank or his vanity made necessary; and as ready payment was not expected, the bills were proportionably enlarged, and the value of the hazard or delay were adjusted solely by the equity of the creditor. At length death deprived Letitulus of one of his patrons, and a revolution in the ministry of another) so that all his profpects vanished at once, and thofe before encouraged his cxpcnccs, began to
perceive that their money was in danger: there was now no other contention but who should first seize upon his person, and, by forcing immediate payment, deliver him up naked to the vengeance of the rest. In pursuance of this scheme, one of them invited him to a tavern, and procured him to be arrested at the door; but Lentulus, instead of endeavouring secretly to pacisy him by payment, gave notice to the rest, and offered to divide amongst them the remnant of his fortune: they seasted fix hours at his expence, to deliberate on his propoffal; and at last determined, that; as he could not offer more than sive shillings in the pound, ic would be more prudent to keep him in prison, till he could procure from his relations the payment of his debts.
Lentulus is not the only man confined within these walls, on the fame account: the like procedure, upon the like motives, is common among men whom yet the law allows to partake the use of fire and water with the compassionate and the, just; who frequent the assemblies of commerce in open day, and talk with detestation and contempt of highwaymen or housebreakers: but, surely, that man must be consessedly robbed, who is compelled, by whatever means, to pay the debts which he does not owe; nor can I look with equal hatred upon him, who, at the hazard of his lise, holds out his pistol and demands my purse, as on him who plunders under shelter of the law, and, by detaining my son or my friend in prison, extorts from me the price of their liberty. No man can be more an enemy to society than he, by whose machinations our virtues are
turned turned to our difadvantage; he is less destructive to mankind that plunders cowardice, than he that preys upon compassion.
I believe, Mr. Adventurer; you will readily consess, that though not one of these, is tried before a commercial judicature, can be wholly acquitted from imprudence or temerity; yet that, in the eye of al) who can consider virtue as distinct from wealth, the fault of two of them, at least, is outweighed by the merit; and that of the third is so much extenuated by the circumstances of his lise, as not to deserve • perpetual prison: yet must these, with multitudes equally blameless, languish in confinement, till malevolence shall relent, or the law be changed.
I am, SIR,
Your humble servant,
Numb. 69. Tuesday, July 3, 1753.
Fere libenter homints idquad njolunt crcdunt. Cæsar.
Men willingly believe what they wish to be erue.
tr'ULLY has long ago observed, that no man, however weakened by long lise, is so conscious of his own decrepitude, as not to imagine that he may yet hold his station in the world for another year.
Of the truth of this remark every day furnishes new confirmation: there is no time of lise, in which men for the most part seem less to expect the stroke of death, than when every other eye sees it impending; or are more busy in providing for another year than when it is plain to all but themselves, that at another year they cannot arrive. Though every funeral that passes before their eyes evinces the deceitfulness of such expectations, since every man who is born to the grave thought himself equally certain of living at least to the next year; the survivor still continues to flatter himself, and is never at a lofs for some reason why his lise should be protracted, and the voracity of death continued to be pacified with some other prey.
But this is only one of the innumerable artifices
practised in the univerfal conspiracy of mankind
against themselves: every age and every condition
indulges some darling fallacy; every man amuses