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of diction, and familiarized them by long habits of attentive practice.
No man is a rhetorician or philosopher by chance. He who knows that he undertakes to write on questions which he has never studied, may without hesitation determine, that he is about to walte his own time and that of his reader, and expose himself to the derision of those whom he aspires to instruct: he that without forming his style by the study of the best models, haftens to obtrude his compositions on the publick, may be certain, that whatever hope or flattery may suggest, he Thall shock the learned ear with barbarisons, and contribute, wherever his work shall be received, to the depravation of taste and the corruption of language.
NUMB. 119. TUESDAY, December 25, 1753.
Latiùs regnes, avidum domando
HEN Socrates was asked, " which of
« mortal men was to be accounted nearest to as the gods in happiness?” he answered, “ that man, " who is in want of the fewest things.”
In this answer, Socrates left it to be guessed by his auditors, whether, by the exemption from want which was to constitute happiness, he meant amplitude of possessions or contraction of desire. And, indeed, there is so little difference between thein, that Alexander the Great confefled the inhabitant of a tub the next man to the master of the world; and left a declaration to future ages, that if he was not Alexander he should wish to be Diogenes.
These two states, however, though they resemble cach other in their consequence, differ widely with respect to the facility with which they may be atgained. To make great acquisitions can happen to
very few; and in the uncertainty of human affairs, to many it will be incident to labour without reward, and to lose what they already possess by endeavours to make it more ; fome will always want abilities, and others opportunities to accumulate wealth. It is therefore happy, that nature has allowed us a more certain and easy road to plenty; every man may grow rich by contracting his wishes, and by quiet acquiescence in what has been given him supply the absence of more.
Yet fo far is alınost every man from emulating the happineis of the gods, by any other means than grasping at their power; that it seems to be the great business of life to create wants as fast as they are fatisfied. It has been long observed by moralists, that every man squanders or lofes a great part of that life, of which every man knows and deplores the thortness: and it may be remarked with equal justncfs, that though every man laments his own insufficiency to his happiness, and knows hiinself a neceslitous and precarious being, incessantly soliciting the aflistance of others, and feeling wants which his own art or strength cannot fupply; yet there is no man, who does not, by the fuperaddition of unnatural cares, rendler himself still more dependent ; who does not create an artificial poverty, and suffer hinself to feel pain for the want of that, of which, when it is gained, he can have no enjoyment.
It must, indeed, be allowed, that as we lose part of our time because it steals away silent and invisible, and many an hour is passed before we recollect that it is pating; 10 unnatural defires insinuate themselves unoblerved into the mind, and we do not perceive
that they are gaining upon us, till the pain which they give us awakens us to notice. No man is sufficiently vigilant to take account of every minute of his life, or to watch every motion of his heart, Much of our time likewise is sacrificed to custom ; we trifle, because we see others trifle: in the same manner we catch from example the contagion of desire; we see all about us busied in pursuit of imaginary good, and begin to bustle in the same chace, leit greater activity should triumph over us.
It is true, that to man, as a member of society, many things become necessary, which, perhaps, in a state of nature are superfluous; and that many things, not absolutely necessary, are yet so useful and convenient, that they cannot easily be spared. I will make yet a more ample and liberal concession In opulent states and regular governments, the temptations to wealth and rank, and to the distinctions that follow them, are such as no force of understanding finds it easy to resist.
If, therefore, I saw the quiet of life disturbed only by endeavours after wealth and honour; by solicitude, which the world, whether justly or not, con
sidered as important; I should scarcely have had • courage to inculcate any precepts of moderation and forbearance. He that is engaged in a pursuit, in which all mankind profess to be his rivals, is supported by the authority of all mankind in the prosecution of his design, and will, therefore, scarcely stop to hear the lectures of a solitary philosopher. Nor am I certain, that the accuinulation of honeft gain ought to be hindered, or the ambition of just honours always to be represed. Whatever can enable the poffeffor to confer any benefit upon others, may be desired upon virtuous principles; and we ought not too rafhly to accuse any man of intending to confine the influence of his acquisitions to himfelf.
But if we look round upon mankind, whom shall we find among those that fortune permits to form their own manners, that is not tormenting himself witl. a wish for something, of which all the pleasure and all the benefit will cease at the moment of attainment? One man is beggaring his posterity to build a house, which when finished he never will inhabit; another is levelling mountains to open a profpect, which, when he has once enjoyed it, he can enjoy no more ; another is painting cielings, carving wainscot, and filling his apartments with costly furniture, only that some neighbouring house may not be richer or finer than his own.
That fplendor and elegance are not desirable, I am not so abstracted from life as to inculcate; but if we inquire closely into the reason for which they are citeemed, we shall find them valued principally as evidences of wealth. Nothing, therefore, can shew greater depravity of understanding, than to delight in the shew when the reality is wanting; or voluntarily to become poor, that strangers may for a time imagine us to be rich.
But there are yet minuter objects and more trilling anxieties. Men may be found, who are kept from fcep by the want of a fhell particularly variegated! who are wasting their lives, in stratagems to obtain a book in a language which they do not understand; who pine with envy at the flowers of another man's