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looking forward, and straining after one who has got the start of them in wealth and honor. For this reason, as there are none who can be properly called rich, who have not more than they want; there are few rich men in any of the politer nations but among the middle sort of people, who keep their wishes within their fortunes, and have more wealth than they know how to enjoy.
8. Persons in a higher rank live in a kind of splendid poverty; and are perpetually wanting, because, instead of acquiescing in the solid pleasures of life, they endeavour to outvie one another, in shadows and appearances. Men of sense have at all times beheld with a great deal of mirth this silly game that is playing over their heads, and by contracting their desires enjoy all that secret satisfaction which others are always in quest of.
9. The truth is, this ridiculous chase after imaginary pleasures cannot be sufficiently exposed, as it is the great source of those evils which generally undo a nation. Let a man's estate be what it will, he is a poor man if he does not live within it, and⚫ naturally sets himself to sale to any one who can give him his prices
10. When Pitticus, after the death of his brother, who had left him a good estate, was offered a great sum of money by the king of Lydia, he thanked him for his kindness, but told him he had already more by half than he knew what to do with. In short, content is equivalent to wealth and luxury to poverty; or, to give the thought a more agreeable turn, Content is natu ral wealth, says Socrates; to which I shall add,' 'Luxury is artificial poverty.'
11. I shall therefore recommend to the consideration of those who are always aiming after superfluous and imaginary enjoyments, and will not be at the trouble of contracting their desires, an excellent saying of Bion the philosopher; namely, That no man has so much care as he who endeavours after the most happiness.'
12. In the second place every one ought to reflect how much more unhappy he might be than he really is. The former consideration took in all those who are sufficiently provided with the means to make themselves easy; this regards such as actually lie under some pressure or misfortune.
13. These may receive a great alleviation from such a comparison as the unhappy person may make between himself and others, or between the misfortunes which he suffers and greater misfortunes which might have befallen him.
14. I like the story of the honest Dutchman, who upon break ing his leg by a fall from the main-mast, told the standers-by, it was a great mercy it was not his neck. To which, since I am got into quotations, give me leave to add the sayings of an old philosopher, who after having invited some of his friends to dipe
with him, was ruffled by his wife who came into the room in a passion and threw down the table that stood before them; 'Every one,' says he, has his calamity, and he is a happy man who has no greater than this.'
15. We find an instance to the same purpose in the life of Doctor Hammond written by Bishop Fell, As this good man was troubled with a complication of distempers, when he had the gout upon him, he used to thank God that it was not the stone; and when he had the stone, that he had not both these distempers on him at the same time.
16. I cannot conclude this essay without observing, that there was never any system besides that of christianity which could effectually produce in the mind of man the virtue I have been hitherto speaking of. In order to make us content with our present condition, many of the present philosophers tell us, that our discontent only hurts ourselves without being able to make any alteration in our circumstances; others, that whatever evil befals us, is derived to us by a fatal necessity, to which the gods themselves are subject; while others very gravely tells the man who is miserable, that it is necessary he should be so to keep up the harmony of the universe, and that the scheme of Providence would be troubled and perverted were he otherwise.
17. These, and the like considerations, rather silence than satisfy a man. They may shew him that his discontent is unreasonable, but are by no means sufficient to relieve it. They rather give despair than consolation. In a word, a man might reply to one of these comforters, as Augustus did to his friend who advised him not to grieve for the death of a person whom he loved, because his grief could not fetch him to life again; 'It is for that very reason,' said the emperor,' that I grieve.'
18. On the contrary, religion bears a more tender regard to human nature. It prescribes to a very miserable man the means of bettering his condition; nay, it shews him that the bearing of his afflictions as he ought to do, will naturally end in the removal of them: It makes him easy here, because it can make him happy hereafter.
19. Upon the whole, a contented mind is the greatest blessing a man can enjoy in this world; and if in the present life his happiness arises from the subduing his desire it would arise in the next from the gratification of them.
Human Miseries chiefly Imaginary.
T is a celebrated thought of Socrates, that if all the misfortunes of mankind were cast into a public stock, in order to be equally distributed among the whole species, those who now think themselves the most unhappy, would prefer the share they
are already possessed of, before that which would fall to them by such a division. Horace has carried his thought a great deal further; who says that the hardships or misfortunes we lie under, are more easy to us than those of any other person would be, in case we should change conditions with him."
2. As I was ruminating on these two remarks, and seated in my elbow chair, I insensibly fell asleep; when on a sudden, methought there was a proclamation, made by Jupiter, that every mortal should bring in his grief and calamities, and throw them together in a heap. There was a large plain appointed for this purpose. I took my stand in the centre of it, and saw, with a great deal of pleasure, the whole human species marching one after another, and throwing down their several loads, which immediately grew up into a prodigious mountain that seemed to rise above the clouds.
3. There was a certain lady of a thin airy shape, who was very active in this solemnity. She carried a magnifying glass in one of her hands, and was clothed in a loose flowing robe, embroidered with several figures of fiends and spectres, that discovcred themselves in a thousand chimerical shapes, as her garments hovered in the wind; there was something wild and distracted in her looks.
4. Her name was Fancy. She led up every mortal to the ap pointed place, after having very officiously assisted him in mar king up his pack, and laying it upon his shoulders. My heart melted within me to see my fellow-creatures groaning under their respective burthens, and to consider that prodigious bulk of human calamities which lay before me.
5. There were, however, several persons who gave me great diverson upon this occasion. I observed one bringing in a fardel very carefully concealed under an old embroidered cloak, which, upon his throwing it into the heap, I discovered to be poverty. Another, after a great deal of puffing, threw down his luggage, which, upon examining I found to be his wife,
6. There were multitudes of lovers saddled with very whimsical burthens, composed of darts and flames; but what was very odd, though they sighed as if their hearts would break under these bundles of calamities, they could not persuade themselves to cast them into the heap, when they came up to it; but after a few faint efforts, shook their heads and marched away, as heavy laden as they came.
7. I saw multitudes of old women throw down their wrinkles, and several young ones who stripped themselves of a tawny skin. There were very great heaps of red noses, large lips, and rusty teeth. The truth of it is, I was surprised to see the greatest part of the mountain made up of bodily deformities. Observ
ing one advancing towards the heap with a larger cargo than or dinary upon his back, I found, upon his nearer approach, that it was only a natural hump, which he disposed of with great joy of heart, among this collection of human miseries.
8. There were likewise distempers of all sorts, though I could not but observe, that there were many more imaginary than real. One little packet I could not but take notice of, which was a complication of the diseases incident to human nature, and was in the hands of a great many fine people: this was called the spleen. But what most of all surprised me was a remark I made, that there was not a single vice or folly thrown into the whole heap; at which I was very much astonished, having concluded within myself that every one would take this opportunity of getting rid of his passions, prejudices and frailties.
9. I took notice in particular of a very profligate fellow, who,, I did not question, came laden with his crimes, but upon searching into his bundle, I found, that instead of throwing his guilt from him, he had only laid down his memory. He was follow, ed by another worthless rogue, who flung away his modesty instead of his ignorance,
10. When the whole race of mankind had thus cast their burthens, the phantom, which had been so busy on this occasion, seeing me an idle spectator of what passed, approached towards me. I grew uneasy at her presence, when, on a sudden, she laid her magnifying glass full before my eyes. I no sooner saw my face in it, but was startled at the shortness of it, which now appeared to me in its utmost aggravation.
11. The immoderate breadth of my features made me very much out of humour with my own countenance, upon which I threw it from me like a mask. It happened very luckily, that one who stood by me had just before thrown down his visage, which, it seems, was too long for him. It was, indeed, extended to a most shameful length; I believe the very chin was, modestly speaking, as long as my whole face.
12. We had both of us an opportunity of mending ourselves, and all the contributions being now brought in, every man was at liberty to exchange his misfortune for those of another person. But as there arose many new incidents in the sequel of my vision, I shall pursue this subject further, as the moral which may be drawn from it, is applicable to persons of all degrees and stations in life,
13. I gave my reader a sight of that mountain of miseries, which was made up of those several calamities that afflict the minds of men. I saw with unspeakable pleasure, the whole species thus delivered from its sorrows; though, at the same time, as we stood round the heap, and surveyed the several mate
rials of which it was composed, there was scarce a mortal, in this vast multitude, who did not discover what he thought pleasures and blessings of life; and wondered how the owners of them ever came to look upon them as burthens and grievances.
14. As we were regarding very attentively this confusion of miseries, this chaos of calamity, Jupiter, issued out a second proclamation, that every one was now at liberty to exchange his affliction, and to return to his habitation with any such other bundle as should be delivered to him.
15. Upon this, Fancy bagan again to bestir herself, and par-: celling out the whole heap with incredible activity, recommended to every one his particular packet. The hurry and confusion at this time was not to be expressed. Some observations, which I made upon the occasion, I shall communicate to the reader, A venerable grey-headed man, who had laid down the cholic, and who found wanted an heir to his estate, snatched up an undutiful son, that had been thrown into the heap by his angry father.
- 16. The graceless youth, in less than a quarter of an hour, pulled the old gentleman by the beard, and had like to have knocked his brains out; so that meeting the true father, who came towards him in a fit of the gripes, he begged him to take his son again, and give him back his cholic; but they were incapable either of them to recede from the choice they had made.
17. A poor gally-slave, who had thrown down his chains, took up the gout in their stead, but made such wry faces, that one might easily perceive he was no great gainer by the bargain. It was pleasant enough to see the several exchanges that were made, for sickness against poverty, hunger against want of appetite, and care against pain.
18. The female world were very busy among themselves in bartering for features; one was trucking a lock of grey hairs for a carbuncle, another was making over a short waist for a pair of round shoulders, and a third cheapening a bad face for a lost reputation: but on all these occasions there was not one of them who did not think the new blemish, as soon as she had got it into her possession, much more disagreeable than the old one.
19. I made the same observation on every other misfortune or calamity, which every one in the assembly brought upon himself, in lieu of what he had parted with: whether it be that all the evils which befal us are in some measure suited and proportioned to our strength, or that every evil becomes more supportable by our being accustomed to it, I shall not determine.
20. I could not, for my heart, forbear pitying the poor humpback'd gentleman mentioned in the former paper, who went off a very well shaped person with a stone in his bladder; not the