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his profpects, and counted over the fums of which he fhould infallibly be mafter before the day of payment. Serenus in a fhort time began to find his danger, but could not prevail with himself to repent of beneficence; and therefore fuffered himself still to be amufed with projects which he durft not confider, for fear of finding them impracticable. The debtor, after he had tried every method of raising money which art or indigence could prompt, wanted either fidelity or refolution to furrender himself to prison, and left Serenus to take his place.
Serenus has often propofed to the creditor, to pay him whatever he shall appear to have loft by the flight of his friend; but however reasonable this propofal may be thought, avarice and brutality have been hitherto inexorable, and Serenus ftill continues to languish in prison.
In this place, however, where want makes almost every man selfish, or defperation gloomy, it is the good fortune of Serenus not to live without a friend: he paffes most of his hours in the converfation of Candidus, a man whom the fame virtuous ductility has with fome difference of circumstances made equally unhappy. Candidus, when he was young, helpless, and ignorant, found a patron that educated, protected, and fupported him: his patron being more vigilant for others than himself, left at his death an only fon, deftitute and friendless. Candidus was eager to repay the benefits he had received; and having maintained the youth for a few years at his own house, afterwards placed him with a merchant of eminence, and gave bonds to a great value as a fecurity for his conduct.
The young man, removed too early from the only eye of which he dreaded the observation, and deprived of the only inftruction which he heard with reverence, foon learned to confider virtue as restraint, and restraint as oppreffion; and to look with a longing eye at every expence to which he could not reach, and every pleafure which he could not partake by degrees he deviated from his first regularity, and unhappily mingling among young men bufy in diffipating the gains of their fathers industry, he forgot the precepts of Candidus, spent the evening in parties of pleafure, and the morning in expedients to fupport his riots. He was, however, dextrous and active in bufinefs; and his master, being fecured against any confequences of dishonesty, was very little folicitous to infpect his manners, or to enquire how he paffed thofe hours, which were not immediately devoted to the business of his profeffion when he was informed of the young man's extravagance or debauchery, "Let his bondfinan "look to that," faid he, " I have taken care of myfelf."
Thus the unhappy fpendthrift proceeded from folly to folly, and from vice to vice, with the connivance if not the encouragement of his master; till in the heat of a nocturnal revel he committed fuch violences in the ftrect as drew upon him a criminal profecution. Guilty and unexperienced, he knew not what courfe to take; to confefs his crime to Candidus, and folicit his interpofition, was little lefs dreadful than to ftand before the frown of a court of juftice. Having, therefore, paffed the day with anguifh in his heart and diftraction in his looks, he
feized at night a very large fum of money in the compting-house, and fetting out he knew not whither, was heard of no more.
The confequence of his flight was the ruin of Candidus; ruin furely undeferved and irreproachable, and fuch as the laws of a juft government ought either to prevent or repair: nothing is more inequitable than that one man fhould fuffer for the crimes of another, for crimes which he neither prompted nor permitted, which he could neither forefee nor prevent. When we confider the weakness of human refolutions and the inconfiftency of human conduct, it must appear abfurd that one man fhall engage for another, that he will not change his opinions or alter his conduct.
It is, think, worthy of confideration, whether fince no wager is binding without a poffibility of lofs on each fide, it is not equally reasonable, that no contract should be valid without reciprocal ftipulations but in this cafe, and others of the fame kind, what is ftipulated on his fide to whom the bond is given? he takes advantage of the fecurity, neglects his affairs, omits his duty, fuffers timorous wickednefs to grow daring by degrees, permits appetite to call for new gratifications, and, perhaps, fecretly longs for the time in which he shall have power to feize the forfeiture: and if virtue or gratitude fhould prove too strong for temptation, and a young man perfift in honesty, however instigated by his paffions, what can fecure him at laft against a falfe accufation? I for my part always fhall fufpect, that he who can by fuch methods fecure his property, will go one step farther to increase it: nor can I think that
man fafely trufted with the means of mifchief, who, by his defire to have them in his hands, gives an evident proof how much lefs he values his neighbour's happiness than his own.
Another of our companions is Lentulus, a man whofe dignity of birth was very ill fupported by his fortune. As fome of the firft offices in the kingdom were filled by his relations, he was early invited to court, and encouraged by careffes and promifes to attendance and folicitation: a conftant appearance in fplendid company neceffarily required magnificence of drefs; and a frequent participation of fashionable amufements forced him into expence : but these measures were requifite to his fuccefs; fince every body knows, that to be loft to fight is to be loft to remembrance, and that he who defires to fill a vacancy, must be always at hand, left fome man of greater vigilance fhould ftep in before him.
By this courfe of life his little fortune was every day made less but he received fo many diftinctions. in public, and was known to refort fo familiarly to the houfes of the great, that every man looked on his preferment as certain, and believed that its value would compenfate for its flownefs: he, therefore, found no difficulty in obtaining credit for all that his rank or his vanity made neceffary; and as ready payment was not expected, the bills were proportionably enlarged, and the value of the hazard or delay were adjusted folely by the equity of the creditor. At length death deprived Lentulus of one of his patrons, and a revolution in the miniftry of another; fo that all his profpets vanifhed at once, and thofe d before encouraged his expences, began to perceive
perceive that their money was in danger: there was now no other contention but who fhould first seize upon his person, and, by forcing immediate payment, deliver him up naked to the vengeance of the rest. In pursuance of this fcheme, one of them invited him to a tavern, and procured him to be arrested at the door; but Lentulus, inftead of endeavouring fecretly to pacify him by payment, gave notice to the reft, and offered to divide amongst them the remnant of his fortune: they feafted fix hours at his expence, to deliberate on his propofal; and at laft determined, that, as he could not offer more than five fhillings in the pound, it would be more prudent to keep him in prifon, 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 ufe of fire and water with the compaffionate and the juft; who frequent the affemblies of commerce in open day, and talk with deteftation and contempt of highwaymen or housebreakers: but, furely, that man must be confeffedly 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 life, holds out his piftol and demands my purse, as on him who plunders under shelter of the law, and, by detaining my fon or my friend in prison, extorts from me the price of their liberty. No man can be more an enemy to fociety than he, by whofe machinations our virtues are turned