Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

been able to make greater bounties than ordinary, he has given above twice that sum to the sickly and indigent. Eugenius prescribes to himself many particular days of fasting and abstinence, in order to increase his private bank of charity, and sets aside what would be the current expenses of those times for the use of the poor. He often goes afoot where his business calls him, and at the end of his walk has given a shilling, which in his ordinary methods of expense would have gone for coach-hire, to the first necessitous person that has fallen in his way. I have known him, when he has been going to a play or an opera, divert the money which was designed for that purpose upon an object of charity whom he has met with in the street; and afterwards pass his evening in a coffee-house, or at a friend's fire-side, with much greater satisfaction to himself than he could have received from the most exquisite entertainments of the theatre. By these means he is generous without impoverishing himself, and enjoys his estate by making it the property of others.

There are few men so cramped in their private affairs, who may not be charitable after this manner, without any disadvantage to themselves, or prejudice to their families. It is but sometimes sacrificing a diversion or convenience to the poor, and turning the usual course of our expenses into a better channel. This is, I think, not only the most prudent and convenient, but the most meritorious piece of charity which we can put in practice. By this method, we in some measure share the necessities of the poor at the same time that we relieve them, and make ourselves not only their patrons, but their fellow-sufferers.

Sir Thomas Brown, in the last part of his Religio Medici, in which he describes his charity in several heroic instances, and with a noble heat of senti

VOL. VII. o

ments, mentions that verse in the Proverbs of Solomon, 'He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord*:' There is more rhetoric in that one sentence, says he, than in a library of sermons; and indeed, if those sentences were understood by the reader, with the same emphasis as they are delivered by the author, we needed not those volumes of instructions, but might be honest by an epitome t.

This passage of scripture is, indeed, wonderfully persuasive; but I think the same thought is carried much further in the New Testament, where our Saviour tells us, in a most pathetic manner, that he shall hereafter regard the clothing of the naked, the feeding of the hungry, and the visiting of the imprisoned, as offices done to himself, and reward them accordingly J. Pursuant to those passages in holy scripture, I have somewhere met with the epitaph of a charitable man, which has very much pleased me. I cannot recollect the words, but the sense of it is to this purpose; What I spent I lost; what I possessed is left to others; what I gave away remains with me §.

Since I am thus insensibly engaged in sacred writ, I cannot forbear making an extract of several passages which I have always read with great delight in the book of Job. It is the account which that

• Prov. xix. 17.

t Brown's Rel. Medici, Part II. Sect. 13. f. 1659. p. 29. } Matt. xxv. 81. $ seqq.

§ The epitaph altuded to is (or was) in St. George's church, at Doncaster in Yorkshire, and runs in old English thus: How now, who is heare? That I spent, that I had: I Kobin of Doncastere That I gave, that I have:

And Margaret my feare That I left, that I lost.
A. D. 1579.

Quoth Hobertus Byrks, who in this world did reign three-score years and seven, and yet lived not one."

holy man gives of his behaviour in the days of his' prosperity; and, if considered only as a human composition, is a finer picture of a charitable and goodnatured man than is to be met with in any other author.

'Oh that I were as in months past, as in the clays when God preserved me: When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness: When the Almighty was ret with me; when my children were about me: When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil.

'When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me. Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow"s heart to sing for joy. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame; I was a father to the poor, and the cause which I knew not I searched out. Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was not my soul grieved for the poor? Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity. If I did despise the cause of my man-servant or of my maid-servant when they contended with me; what then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? Did not he that made me in the womb, make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb? If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail: Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof: If I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering: If his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep: If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate; then let mine arm fall from my shoulder-blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone. If I [kave] rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him: (Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin, by wishing a curse to his soul.) The stranger did not lodge in the street; but I opened my doors to the traveller. If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise therefore complain: If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money, or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life; let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley *.'

No. 178. MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 1711.

Comis in uxorem.

Hos. Emst. ii. 2. 133. Civil to his wife. mrt.

I Cannot defer taking notice of this letter.

"MR. SPECTATOR,

"I Am but too good a judge of your paper of the 15th instant, which is a master-piece; I mean that of jealousy; but I think it unworthy of you to speak of that torture in the breast of a man, and not to mention also the pangs of it in the heart of a woman. You have very judiciously, and with the greatest penetration imaginable, considered it as

* Job xxix. 2, &c. xxx. 35, &c. xxxL 6, &c.

woman is the creature of whom the diffidence is raised: but not a word of a man, who is so unmerciful as to move jealousv in his wife, and not care whether she is so or not. It is possible you may not believe there are such tyrants in the world; but, alas! I can tell you of a man who is ever out of humour in his wife's company, and the pleasantest man in the world every where else; the greatest sloven at home when he appears to none but his family, and most exactly well-dressed in all other places. Alas, Sir! is it of course, that to deliver one's self wholly into a man's power without possibility of appeal to any other jurisdiction but to his own reflections, is so little an obligation to a gentleman, that he can be offended and fall into a rage, because my heart swells tears into my eyes when I see him in a cloudy mood? I pretend to no succour, and hope for no relief but from himself; and yet he that has sense and justice in every thing else, never reflects, that to come home only to sleep off an intemperance, and spend all the time he is there as if it were a punishment, cannot but give the anguish of a jealous mind. He always leaves his home as if he were going to a court, and returns as if he were entering a jail. I could add to this, that from his company and his usual discourse, he does not scruple being thought an abandoned man, as to his morals. Your own imagination will say enough to you concerning the condition of me his wife; and I wish you would be so good as to represent to him, for he is not ill-natured, and reads you much, thatthemoment I hear the door shut after him, I throw myself upon my bed, and drown the child he is so fond of with my tears, and often frighten it with my cries; that I curse my being; that I run to my glass all over bathed in sorrows, and help the utterance of my inward anguish by beholding the gush of my own calamities as my tears fall from my eyds.

« AnteriorContinuar »