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parterre; who hover like vultures round the owner of a foffil, in hopes to plunder his cabinet at his death; and who would not much regret to see a street in flames, if a box of medals might be scattered in the tumult.
He that imagines me to speak of these fages in terms exaggerated and hyperbolical, has converfed but little with the race of virtuofos. A flight acquaintance with their ftudies, and a few vifits to their affemblies, would inform him, that nothing is fo worthlefs, but that prejudice and caprice can give it value; nor any thing of fo little ufe, but that by indulging an idle competition or unreasonable pride, a man may make it to himfelf one of the neceffaries of life.
Defires like thefe, I may furely, without incurring the cenfure of morofenefs, advife every man to repel when they invade his mind; or if he admits them, never to allow them any greater influence, than is necessary to give petty employments the power of pleafing, and diverfify the day with flight amufements.
An ardent wifh, whatever be its object, will always be able to interrupt tranquillity. What we believe ourselves to want, torments us not in proportion to its real value, but according to the eftimation by which we have rated it in our own minds: in fome diseases, the patient has been obferved to long for food, which fcarce any extremity of hunger would in health have compelled him to swallow; but while his organs were thus depraved the craving was irresistible, nor could any reft be obtained till it was appeafed by compliance. Of the fame nature are
the irregular appetites of the mind; though they are often excited by trifles, they are equally disquieting with real wants: the Roman, who wept at the death of his lamprey, felt the fame degree of forrow that extorts tears on other occafions.
Inordinate defires, of whatever kind, ought to be repreffed upon yet a higher confideration; they must be confidered as enemies not only to happinefs but to virtue. There are men among thofe commonly reckoned the learned and the wife, who spare no ftratagems to remove a competitor at an auction, who will fink the price of a rarity at the expence of truth, and whom it is not fafe to truft alone in a library or cabinet. Thefe are faults, which the fraternity feem to look upon as jocular mischiefs, or to think excufed by the violence of the temptation: but I fhall always fear that he, who accuftoms himfelf to fraud in little things, wants only opportunity to practife it in greater; "he that has hardened him"felf by killing a fheep," fays Pythagoras, "will "with lefs reluctance fhed the blood of a man.'
To prize every thing according to its real ufe, ought to be the aim of a rational being. There are few things which can much conduce to happiness, and, therefore, few things to be ardently defired. He that looks upon the bufinefs and bustle of the world, with the philofophy with which Socrates furveyed the fair at Athens, will turn away at laft with his exclamation, "How many things are here which "I do not want!"
NUMB. 120. SATURDAY, December 29, 1753.
But no frail man, however great or high,
HE numerous miferies of human life have ex
Ttorted in all ages an univerfal complaint. The
wifeft of men terminated all his experiments in fearch of happiness, by the mournful confeffion, that all is vanity;" and the antient patriarchs lamented, that "the days of their pilgrimage were "few and evil."
There is, indeed, no topick on which it is more fuperfluous to accumulate authorites, nor any affertion of which our own eyes will more easily discover, or our fenfations more frequently imprefs the truth, than, that mifery is the lot of man, that our prefent ftate is a state of danger and infelicity.
When we take the most diftant profpect of life, what does it prefent us but a chaos of unhappiness, a confused and tumultuous fcene of labour and contest, disappointment and defeat? If we view paft ages in the reflection of history, what do they offer to our meditation but crimes and calamities? One year is distinguished by a famine, another by an earthquake; VOL. IX. kingdoms
kingdoms are made defolate, fometimes by wars, and fometimes by peftilence; the peace of the world is interrupted at one time by the caprices of a tyrant, at another by the rage of a The memory a conqueror. The is ftored only with viciffitudes of evil; and the happinefs, fuch as it is, of one part of mankind, is found to arife commonly from fanguinary fuccefs, from victories which confer upon them the power, not fo much of improving life by any new enjoyment, as of inflicting mifery on others, and gratifying their own pride by comparative great
But by him that examines life with a more clofe attention, the happinefs of the world will be found ftill lefs than it appears. In fome intervals of publick profperity, or to ufe terms more proper, in fome intermiffions of calamity, a general diffusion of happiness may feem to overfpread a people; all is triumph and exultation, jollity and plenty; there are no publick fears and dangers, and "no complainings in the streets." But the condition of individuals is very little mended by this general calm: pain and malice and difcontent ftill continue their havock; the filent depredation goes inceffantly forward; and the grave continues to be filled by the victims of forrow.
He that enters a gay affembly, beholds the cheerfulness displayed in every countenance, and finds all fitting vacant and difengaged, with no other attention than to give or to receive pleafure; would naturally imagine, that he had reached at laft the metropolis of felicity, the place facred to gladnefs of
heart, from whence all fear and anxiety were irreverfibly excluded. Such, indeed, we may often find to be the opinion of thofe, who from a lower station look up to the pomp and gaiety which they cannot reach: but who is there of those who frequent thefe luxurious affemblies, that will not confefs his own uneasiness, or cannot recount the vexations and diftreffes that prey upon the lives of his gay companions?
The world, in its beft ftate, is nothing more than a larger affembly of beings, combining to counterfeit happiness which they do not feel, employing every art and contrivance to embellish life, and to hide their real condition from the eyes of one another.
The species of happiness most obvious to the ob. fervation of others, is that which depends upon the goods of fortune; yet even this is often fictitious. There is in the world more poverty than is generally imagined; not only because many whofe poffeffions are large have defires ftill larger, and many measure their wants by the gratifications which others enjoy; but great numbers are preffed by real neceffities which it is their chief ambition to conceal, and are forced to purchase the appearance of competence and cheerfulness at the expence of many comforts and con veniencies of life.
Many, however, are confeffedly rich, and many more are fufficiently removed from all danger of real poverty: but it has been long ago remarked, that money cannot purchase quiet; the higheft of mankind can promise themselves no exemption from