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But there is no need on these occasions for deep enquiries or laborious calculations; there is a far easier method of diftinguishing the hopes of folly from those of reason, of finding the difference between prospects that exist before the eyes, and those that are only painted on a fond imagination. Tom Drowsy had accustomed himself to compute the profit of a darling project, till he had no longer any doubt of its success; it was at last matured by close consideration, all the measures were accurately adjusted, and wanted only five hundred pounds to become master of a fortune that might be envied by a director of a trading company. Tom was generous and grateful, and was resolved to recompence this small allistance with an ample fortune : he, therefore, deliberated for a time, to whom amongst his friends he should declare his necessities; not that he suspected a refusal, but because he could not suddenly determine which of them would make the best use of riches, and was, therefore, moft worthy of his favour. At last his choice was settled; and knowing that in order to borrow he must shew the probability of re-payment, he prepared for a minute and copious explanation of his project. But here the golden dream was at an end: he soon discovered the imporsibility of imposing upon others the notions by which he had so long imposed upon himself; which way foever he turned his thoughts, impossibility and absurdity arose in opposition on every side; even credulity and prejudice were at last forced to give way, and he grew ashamed of crediting himself what Thame would not suffer him to communicate to another.

To this test let every man bring his imaginations, before they have been too long predominant in his mind. Whatever is true will bear to be related, whatever is rational will endure to be explained; but when we delight to brood in secret over future happiness, and silently to employ our meditations upon fcheines of which we are conscious that the bare mention would expole us to derision and contempt; we should then remember, that we are cheating ourselves by voluntary delusions; and giving up to the unreal inockeries of fancy, those hours in which solid advantages might be attained by sober thought and rational assiduity.

There is, indeed, so little certainty in human af. fairs, that the most cautious and severe examiner may be allowed to indulge fome hopes which he cannot prove to be much favoured by probability ; since after his utmost endeavours to ascertain events, he muft often leave the iflue in the hands of chance. And so fcanty is our present allowance of happiness, that in many situations life could scarcely be supported, if hope were not allowed to relieve the present hour by pleasures borrowed from futurity; and re-animate the languor of dejection to new efforts, by pointing co distant regions of felicity, which yet no resolution or perseverance shall ever reach.

But these, like all other cordials, though they may invigorate in a small quantity, intoxicate in a greater ; these pleasures, like the rest, are lawful only in certain circumstances, and to certain degrees; they may be useful in a due subserviency to nobler purposes, but become dangerous and destructive when once they gain the ascendant in the heart : to

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Soothe the mind to tranquillity by hope, even when that hope is likely to deceive us, may be sometimes useful; but to lull our faculties in a lethargy, is poor and despicable.

Vices and errors are differently modified, according to the state of the minds to which they are incident ; to indulge hope beyond the warrant of reason, is the failure alike of inean and elevated understandings ; but its foundation and its effects are totally different: the man of high courage and great abilities is

apt to place too much confidence in himself, and to expect from a vigorous exertion of his powers more than spirit or diligence can attain: between him and his wish he sees obstacles indeed, but he expects to overleap or break them; his mistaken ardour hurries him forward ; and though perhaps he misses his end, he nevertheless obtains some collateral good, and performs fomething useful to mankind and honourable to himself.

The drone of timidity presumes likewise to hope, but without ground and without consequence; the bliss with which he solaces his hours, he always ex. pects from others, though very often he knows not from whom ; he folds his arms about him, and fits in expectation of some revolution in the state that Mall raise him to greatness, or some golden shower that shall load him with wealth; he dozes away the day in musing upon the mosrow; and at the end of life is rouzed from his dream only to discover that the time of action is past, and that he can now thew his wisdom only by repentance,

NUMB. 84. SATURDAY, Augal! 25, 1753.

Tolle periculum,
Jam vaga profilie frenis natura remotis.

Hor,

But take the danger and the shame away,
And y.grant nature bounds upon her prey,

FRANCIS,

To the ADVENTURER.

I

SIR,
T has been observed, I think, by Sir II illiu 173

Temple, and after him by almost every other writer, that England affords a greater variety of chaLacters than the rest of the world. This is ascribed to the liberty prevailing amongst us, which gives every man the privilege of being wife or foolith his own way, and preserves him from the necessity of hypocrisy or the servility of imitation.

That the position itself is true, I am not completely satisfied. To be nearly acquainted with the people of different countries can happen to very few; and in life, as in every thing else beheld at a diitance, there appears an even uniformity: the petty difcriminations which diversify the natural chafacter, are not discoverable but by a close inspecrion; we, therefore, find their most at home, because there we have most opportunities of remarking thein. Much less am I convincei, that this pewar diverlification, if it be real, is the confequence of peculiar liberty; for where is the government to be found that superintends individuals with so much vigilance, as not to leave their private conduet without restraint? Can it enter into a reasonable mind to imagine, that men of every other nation are not equally masters of their own time or houses with ourselves, and equally at liberty to be parfimonious or profuse, frolick or sullen, abstinent or luxurious ? Liberty is certainly necessary to the full play of predominant humours; but such liberty is to be found alike under the government of the many or the few, in monarchies or in commonwealths.

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How readily the predominant passion snatches an interval of liberty, and how fast it expands itself when the weight of restraint is taken away, I had lately an opportunity to discover, as I took a journey into the country in a stage-coach; which, as every journey is a kind of adventure, may be

very properly related to you, though I can display no such extraordinary assembly as Cervantes has collected at Don Quixote's inn.

In a stage-coach the passengers are for the most part wholly unknown to one another, and without expectation of ever meeting again when their journey is at an end; one should therefore imagine, that it was of little importance to any of them, what conjectures the rest should form concerning him. Yet so it is, that as all think themselves secure from detection, all assume that character of which they are most desirous, and on no occasion is the general ambition of superiority more apparently indulged.

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