The Works of Samuel Johnson

Part 4 out of 7

in prosperity, than that of raising envy and
trampling inferiority. But, whatever be the motive
of insult, it is always best to overlook it, for folly
scarcely can deserve resentment, and malice is punished
by neglect[d].

[d] Garrick's little vanities are recognized by all in the
character of Prospero. Mr. Boswell informs us, that he never
forgave its pointed satire. On the same authority we are
assured, that though Johnson so dearly loved to ridicule his
pupil, yet he so habitually considered him as his own property,
that he would permit no one beside to hold up his weaknesses to

No. 201. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 1752

----Sanctus haberi
Justitiaeque tenax factis dictisque mereris,
Adnosco procerem. JUV. Sat. Lib. viii. 24.

Convince the world that you're devout and true;
Be just in all you say, and all you do;
Whatever be your birth, you're sure to be
A peer of the first magnitude to me. STEPNEY.

BOYLE has observed, that the excellency of
manufactures, and the facility of labour, would
be much promoted, if the various expedients and
contrivances which lie concealed in private hands,
were by reciprocal communications made generally
known; for there are few operations that are not
performed by one or other with some peculiar
advantages, which, though singly of little
importance, would, by conjunction and concurrence, open
new inlets to knowledge, and give new powers to

There are, in like manner, several moral
excellencies distributed among the different classes of a
community. It was said by Cujacius, that he never
read more than one book by which he was not
instructed; and he that shall inquire after virtue
with ardour and attention, will seldom find a man
by whose example or sentiments he may not be

Every profession has some essential and appropriate
virtue, without which there can be no hope
of honour or success, and which, as it is more or less
cultivated, confers within its sphere of activity
different degrees of merit and reputation. As the
astrologers range the subdivisions of mankind under
the planets which they suppose to influence their
lives, the moralist may distribute them according
to the virtues which they necessarily practise, and
consider them as distinguished by prudence or fortitude,
diligence or patience.

So much are the modes of excellence settled by
time and place, that men may be heard boasting in
one street of that which they would anxiously conceal
in another. The grounds of scorn and esteem,
the topicks of praise and satire, are varied according
to the several virtues or vices which the course of
life has disposed men to admire or abhor; but he who
is solicitous for his own improvement, must not be
limited by local reputation, but select from every
tribe of mortals their characteristical virtues, and
constellate in himself the scattered graces which
shine single in other men.

The chief praise to which a trader aspires is that
of punctuality, or an exact and rigorous observance
of commercial engagements; nor is there any vice of
which he so much dreads the imputation, as of
negligence and instability. This is a quality which the
interest of mankind requires to be diffused through
all the ranks of life, but which many seem to consider
as a vulgar and ignoble virtue, below the
ambition of greatness or attention of wit, scarcely
requisite among men of gaiety and spirit, and sold
at its highest rate when it is sacrificed to a frolick or
a jest.

Every man has daily occasion to remark what
vexations arise from this privilege of deceiving one
another. The active and vivacious have so long
disdained the restraints of truth, that promises and
appointments have lost their cogency, and both parties
neglect their stipulations, because each concludes
that they will be broken by the other.

Negligence is first admitted in small affairs, and
strengthened by petty indulgences. He that is not
yet hardened by custom, ventures not on the violation
of important engagements, but thinks himself
bound by his word in cases of property or danger,
though he allows himself to forget at what time he
is to meet ladies in the park, or at what tavern his
friends are expecting him.

This laxity of honour would be more tolerable, if
it could be restrained to the play-house, the
ballroom, or the card-table; yet even there it is
sufficiently troublesome, and darkens those moments
with expectation, suspense, and resentment, which
are set aside for pleasure, and from which we naturally
hope for unmingled enjoyment, and total relaxation.
But he that suffers the slightest breach in
his morality, can seldom tell what shall enter it, or
how wide it shall be made; when a passage is open,
the influx of corruption is every moment wearing
down opposition, and by slow degrees deluges the

Aliger entered the world a youth of lively
imagination, extensive views, and untainted principles.
His curiosity incited him to range from place to
place, and try all the varieties of conversation; his
elegance of address and fertility of ideas gained him
friends wherever he appeared; or at least he found
the general kindness of reception always shown to a
young man whose birth and fortune give him a
claim to notice, and who has neither by vice nor
folly destroyed his privileges. Aliger was pleased
with this general smile of mankind, and was industrious
to preserve it by compliance and officiousness,
but did not suffer his desire of pleasing to vitiate his
integrity. It was his established maxim, that a
promise is never to be broken; nor was it without
long reluctance that he once suffered himself to be
drawn away from a festal engagement by the
importunity of another company.

He spent the evening, as is usual in the rudiments
of vice, in perturbation and imperfect enjoyment,
and met his disappointed friends in the morning
with confusion and excuses. His companions, not
accustomed to such scrupulous anxiety, laughed at his
uneasiness, compounded the offence for a bottle,
gave him courage to break his word again, and again
levied the penalty. He ventured the same experiment
upon another society, and found them equally
ready to consider it as a venial fault, always incident
to a man of quickness and gaiety; till, by degrees,
he began to think himself at liberty to follow the
last invitation, and was no longer shocked at the
turpitude of falsehood. He made no difficulty to
promise his presence at distant places, and if
listlessness happened to creep upon him, he would sit at
home with great tranquillity, and has often sunk to
sleep in a chair, while he held ten tables in continual
expectations of his entrance.

It was so pleasant to live in perpetual vacancy,
that he soon dismissed his attention as an useless
incumbrance, and resigned himself to carelessness
and dissipation, without any regard to the future
or the past, or any other motive of action than the
impulse of a sudden desire, or the attraction of
immediate pleasure. The absent were immediately
forgotten, and the hopes or fears felt by others, had
no influence upon his conduct. He was in speculation
completely just, but never kept his promise to
a creditor; he was benevolent, but always deceived
those friends whom he undertook to patronise or
assist; he was prudent, but suffered his affairs to be
embarrassed for want of regulating his accounts at
stated times. He courted a young lady, and when
the settlements were drawn, took a ramble into the
country on the day appointed to sign them. He resolved
to travel, and sent his chests on shipboard,
but delayed to follow them till he lost his passage.
He was summoned as an evidence in a cause of great
importance, and loitered on the way till the trial
was past. It is said that when he had, with great
expense, formed an interest in a borough, his opponent
contrived, by some agents who knew his temper,
to lure him away on the day of election.

His benevolence draws him into the commission
of a thousand crimes, which others less kind or civil
would escape. His courtesy invites application; his
promises produce dependance; he has his pockets
filled with petitions, which he intends some time to
deliver and enforce, and his table covered with letters
of request, with which he purposes to comply; but
time slips imperceptibly away, while he is either idle
or busy; his friends lose their opportunities, and
charge upon him their miscarriages and calamities.

This character, however contemptible, is not
peculiar to Aliger. They whose activity of imagination
is often shifting the scenes of expectation, are
frequently subject to such sallies of caprice as make all
their actions fortuitous, destroy the value of their
friendship, obstruct the efficacy of their virtues, and
set them below the meanest of those that persist in
their resolutions, execute what they design, and
perform what they have promised.

No. 202. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 1752

Kaioe pantas auoeto catapronen upolambanei.
'O deoe metrioews prattwn periscelesteron
"Apanta t aoeniaraoe Dampria, peret. CALLIMACHUS.

From no affliction is the poor exempt,
He thinks each eye surveys him with contempt;
Unmanly poverty subdues the heart,
Cankers each wound, and sharpens ev'ry dart. F. LEWIS.

AMONG those who have endeavoured to promote
learning, and rectify judgment, it has
been long customary to complain of the abuse of
words, which are often admitted to signify things so
different, that, instead of assisting the understanding
as vehicles of knowledge, they produce errour,
dissention, and perplexity, because what is affirmed
in one sense, is received in another.

If this ambiguity sometimes embarrasses the most
solemn controversies, and obscures the demonstrations
of science, it may well be expected to infest
the pompous periods of declaimers, whose purpose
is often only to amuse with fallacies, and change the
colours of truth and falsehood; or the musical
compositions of poets, whose style is professedly figurative,
and whose art is imagined to consist in distorting
words from their original meaning.

There are few words of which the reader believes
himself better to know the import, than of POVERTY;
yet, whoever studies either the poets or philosophers,
will find such an account of the condition expressed
by that term as his experience or observation will
not easily discover to be true. Instead of the meanness,
distress, complaint, anxiety, and dependance,
which have hitherto been combined in his ideas of
poverty, he will read of content, innocence, and
cheerfulness, of health and safety, tranquillity and
freedom; of pleasures not known but to men
unencumbered with possessions; and of sleep that
sheds his balsamick anodynes only on the cottage.
Such are the blessings to be obtained by the
resignation of riches, that kings might descend from
their thrones, and generals retire from a triumph,
only to slumber undisturbed in the elysium of

If these authors do not deceive us, nothing can
be more absurd than that perpetual contest for
wealth which keeps the world in commotion; nor
any complaints more justly censured than those
which proceed from want of the gifts of fortune,
which we are taught by the great masters of moral
wisdom to consider as golden shackles, by which
the wearer is at once disabled and adorned; as
luscious poisons which may for a time please the
palate, but soon betray their malignity by langour and
by pain.

It is the great privilege of poverty to be happy
unenvied, to be healthful without physick, and
secure without a guard; to obtain from the bounty
of nature, what the great and wealthy are compelled
to procure by the help of artists and attendants,
of flatterers and spies.

But it will be found upon a nearer view, that
they who extol the happiness of poverty, do not
mean the same state with those who deplore its
miseries. Poets have their imaginations filled with
ideas of magnificence; and being accustomed to
contemplate the downfall of empires, or to contrive
forms of lamentations, for monarchs in distress,
rank all the classes of mankind in a state of poverty,
who make no approaches to the dignity of crowns.
To be poor, in the epick language, is only not to
command the wealth of nations, nor to have fleets
and armies in pay.

Vanity has perhaps contributed to this impropriety
of style. He that wishes to become a philosopher
at a cheap rate, easily gratifies his ambition by
submitting to poverty when he does not feel it,
and by boasting his contempt of riches when he has
already more than he enjoys. He who would shew
the extent of his views, and grandeur of his
conceptions, or discover his acquaintance with
splendour and magnificence, may talk like Cowley, of an
humble station and quiet obscurity, of the paucity
of nature's wants, and the inconveniences of superfluity,
and at last, like him, limit his desires to five
hundred pounds a year; a fortune, indeed, not
exuberant, when we compare it with the expenses of
pride and luxury, but to which it little becomes a
philosopher to affix the name of poverty, since no
man can, with any propriety, be termed poor, who
does not see the greater part of mankind richer
than himself.

As little is the general condition of human life
understood by the panegyrists and historians, who
amuse us with accounts of the poverty of heroes
and sages. Riches are of no value in themselves,
their use is discovered only in that which they
procure. They are not coveted, unless by narrow
understandings, which confound the means with the
end, but for the sake of power, influence, and
esteem; or, by some of less elevated and refined
sentiments, as necessary to sensual enjoyment.

The pleasures of luxury, many have, without
uncommon virtue, been able to despise, even when
affluence and idleness have concurred to tempt
them; and therefore he who feels nothing from
indigence but the want of gratifications which he
could not in any other condition make consistent
with innocence, has given no proof of eminent
patience. Esteem and influence every man desires,
but they are equally pleasing, and equally valuable,
by whatever means they are obtained; and whoever
has found the art of securing them without the help
of money, ought, in reality, to be accounted rich,
since he has all that riches can purchase to a wise
man. Cincinnatus, though he lived upon a few acres
cultivated by his own hand, was sufficiently removed
from all the evils generally comprehended
under the name of poverty, when his reputation
was such, that the voice of his country called him
from his farm to take absolute command into his
hand; nor was Diogenes much mortified by his
residence in a tub, where he was honoured with the
visit of Alexander the Great.

The same fallacy has conciliated veneration to the
religious orders. When we behold a man abdicating
the hope of terrestrial possessions, and precluding
himself, by an irrevocable vow, from the pursuit
and acquisition of all that his fellow-beings consider
as worthy of wishes and endeavours, we are
immediately struck with the purity, abstraction, and
firmness of his mind, and regard him as wholly
employed in securing the interests of futurity, and
devoid of any other care than to gain, at whatever
price, the surest passage to eternal rest.

Yet, what can the votary be justly said to have
lost of his present happiness? If he resides in a
convent, he converses only with men whose condition
is the same with his own; he has, from the munificence
of the founder, all the necessaries of life, and
is safe from that destitution, which Hooker declares
to be "such an impediment to virtue, as, till it be
removed, suffereth not the mind of man to admit
any other care." All temptations to envy and
competition are shut out from his retreat; he is not
pained with the sight of unattainable dignity, nor
insulted with the bluster of insolence, or the smile
of forced familiarity, If he wanders abroad, the
sanctity of his character amply compensates all other
distinctions; he is seldom seen but with reverence,
nor heard but with submission.

It has been remarked, that death, though often
defied in the field, seldom fails to terrify when it
approaches the bed of sickness in its natural horrour;
so poverty may easily be endured, while associated
with dignity and reputation, but will always be
shunned and dreaded, when it is accompanied with
ignominy and contempt.

No. 203. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 1752

Cum volet illa dies, quae nil nisi corporis hujus
Jus habett, incerti spatium mihi finiat oevi.

OVID. Met. xv. 873.

Come, soon or late, death's undetermin'd day,
This mortal being only can decay. WELSTED.
IT seems to be the fate of man to seek all his
consolations in futurity. The time present is seldom
able to fill desire or imagination with immediate
enjoyment, and we are forced to supply its
deficiencies by recollection or anticipation.

Every one has so often detected the fallaciousness
of hope, and the inconvenience of teaching
himself to expect what a thousand accidents may
preclude, that, when time has abated the confidence
with which youth rushes out to take possession of
the world, we endeavour, or wish, to find entertainment
in the review of life, and to repose upon
real facts, and certain experience. This is perhaps
one reason, among many, why age delights in

But so full is the world of calamity, that every
source of pleasure is polluted, and every retirement
of tranquillity disturbed. When time has supplied
us with events sufficient to employ our thoughts,
it has mingled them with so many disasters, that
we shrink from their remembrance, dread their
intrusion upon our minds, and fly from them as from
enemies that pursue us with torture.

No man past the middle point of life can sit down
to feast upon the pleasures of youth without finding
the banquet embittered by the cup of sorrow;
he may revive lucky accidents, and pleasing
extravagancies; many days of harmless frolick, or
nights of honest festivity, will perhaps recur; or, if
he has been engaged in scenes of action, and
acquainted with affairs of difficulty and vicissitudes
of fortune, he may enjoy the nobler pleasure of
looking back upon distress firmly supported, dangers
resolutely encountered, and opposition artfully
defeated. AEneas properly comforts his companions,
when, after the horrours of a storm, they have landed
on an unknown and desolate country, with the hope
that their miseries will be at some distant time
recounted with delight. There are few higher
gratifications, than that of reflection on surmounted evils,
when they are not incurred nor protracted by our
fault, and neither approach us with cowardice nor

But this felicity is almost always abated by the
reflection that they with whom we should be most
pleased to share it are now in the grave. A few years
make such havock in human generations, that we
soon see ourselves deprived of those with whom we
entered the world, and whom the participation of
pleasures or fatigues had endeared to our remembrance.
The man of enterprise recounts his adventures
and expedients, but is forced, at the close of
the relation, to pay a sigh to the names of those
that contributed to his success; he that passes his
life among the gayer part of mankind, has his
remembrance stored with remarks and repartees of
wits, whose sprightliness and merriment are now
lost in perpetual silence; the trader, whose industry
has supplied the want of inheritance, repines in
solitary plenty at the absence of companions, with whom
he had planned out amusements for his latter years;
and the scholar, whose merit, after a long series of
efforts, raises him from obscurity, looks round in
vain from his exaltation for his old friends or enemies,
whose applause or mortification would heighten his

Among Martial's requisites to happiness is, Res
non parta labore, sed relicta, "an estate not gained
by industry, but left by inheritance." It is necessary
to the completion of every good, that it be timely
obtained; for whatever comes at the close of life will
come too late to give much delight; yet all human
happiness has its defects. Of what we do not gain
for ourselves we have only a faint and imperfect
fruition, because we cannot compare the difference
between want and possession, or at least can derive
from it no conviction of our own abilities, nor any
increase of self-esteem; what we acquire by bravery
or science, by mental or corporal diligence, comes
at last when we cannot communicate, and therefore
cannot enjoy it.

Thus every period of life is obliged to borrow its
happiness from the time to come. In youth we have
nothing past to entertain us, and in age, we derive
little from retrospect but hopeless sorrow. Yet the
future likewise has its limits, which the imagination
dreads to approach, but which we see to be not far
distant. The loss of our friends and companions
impresses hourly upon us the necessity of our own
departure; we know that the schemes of man are
quickly at an end, that we must soon lie down in
the grave with the forgotten multitudes of former
ages, and yield our place to others, who, like us, shall
be driven a while by hope or fear about the surface
of the earth, and then like us be lost in the shades
of death.

Beyond this termination of our material existence,
we are therefore obliged to extend our hopes;
and almost every man indulges his imagination with
something, which is not to happen till he has changed
his manner of being: some amuse themselves with
entails and settlements, provide for the perpetuation
of families and honours, or contrive to obviate the
dissipation of the fortunes, which it has been their
business to accumulate; others, more refined or
exalted, congratulate their own hearts upon the
future extent of their reputation, the reverence of
distant nations, and the gratitude of unprejudiced

They whose souls are so chained down to coffers
and tenements, that they cannot conceive a state in
which they shall look upon them with less solicitude,
are seldom attentive or flexible to arguments; but
the votaries of fame are capable of reflection, and
therefore may be called to reconsider the probability
of their expectations.

Whether to be remembered in remote times be
worthy of a wise man's wish, has not yet been
satisfactorily decided; and, indeed, to be long
remembered, can happen to so small a number, that the
bulk of mankind has very little interest in the
question. There is never room in the world for more than
a certain quantity or measure of renown. The
necessary business of life, the immediate pleasures or
pains of every condition, leave us not leisure beyond
a fixed proportion for contemplations which do not
forcibly influence our present welfare. When this
vacuity is filled, no characters can be admitted into
the circulation of fame, but by occupying the place
of some that must be thrust into oblivion. The eye
of the mind, like that of the body, can only extend
its view to new objects, by losing sight of those
which are now before it.

Reputation is therefore a meteor, which blazes a
while and disappears for ever; and, if we except
a few transcendent and invincible names, which
no revolutions of opinion or length of time is able to
suppress; all those that engage our thoughts, or
diversify our conversation, are every moment hasting
to obscurity, as new favourites are adopted by

It is not therefore from this world, that any ray
of comfort can proceed, to cheer the gloom of the
last hour. But futurity has still its prospects; there
is yet happiness in reserve, which, if we transfer our
attention to it, will support us in the pains of disease,
and the langour of decay. This happiness we
may expect with confidence, because it is out of
the power of chance, and may be attained by all that
sincerely desire and earnestly pursue it. On this
therefore every mind ought finally to rest. Hope is
the chief blessing of man, and that hope only is
rational, of which we are certain that it cannot
deceive us.

No. 204. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 29, 1752

Nemo tam divos habuit favintis,
Crastinum ut possit sibi polliceri. SENECA.

Of heaven's protection who can be
So confident to utter this?--
To-morrow I will spend in bliss. F. LEWIS.

SEGED, lord of Ethiopia, to the inhabitants of
the world: To the sons of Presumption, humility
and fear; and to the daughters of Sorrow, content
and acquiescence.

Thus, in the twenty-seventh year of his reign,
spoke Seged, the monarch of forty nations, the
distributor of the waters of the Nile: "At length,
Seged, thy toils are at an end; thou hast reconciled
disaffection, thou hast suppressed rebellion, thou
hast pacified the jealousies of thy courtiers, thou
hast chased war from thy confines, and erected
fortresses in the lands of thine enemies. All who have
offended thee tremble in thy presence, and where-
ever thy voice is heard, it is obeyed. Thy throne is
surrounded by armies, numerous as the locusts of
the summer, and resistless as the blasts of pestilence.
Thy magazines are stored with ammunition, thy
treasures overflow with the tribute of conquered
kingdoms. Plenty waves upon thy fields, and opulence
glitters in thy cities. Thy nod is as the earthquake
that shakes the mountains, and thy smile as
the dawn of the vernal day. In thy hand is the
strength of thousands, and thy health is the health
of millions. Thy palace is gladdened by the song of
praise, and thy path perfumed by the breath of
benediction. Thy subjects gaze upon thy greatness,
and think of danger or misery no more. Why,
Seged, wilt not thou partake the blessings thou
bestowest? Why shouldst thou only forbear to rejoice
in this general felicity? Why should thy face be
clouded with anxiety, when the meanest of those
who call thee sovereign, gives the day to festivity,
and the night to peace? At length, Seged, reflect
and be wise. What is the gift of conquest but safety?
Why are riches collected but to purchase happiness?"

Seged then ordered the house of pleasure, built
in an island of the lake of Dambea, to be prepared for
his reception. "I will retire," says he, "for ten days
from tumult and care, from counsels and decrees.
Long quiet is not the lot of the governours of nations,
but a cessation of ten days cannot be denied me.
This short interval of happiness may surely be secured
from the interruption of fear or perplexity, sorrow
or disappointment. I will exclude all trouble from
my abode, and remove from my thoughts whatever
may confuse the harmony of the concert, or abate the
sweetness of the banquet. I will fill the whole capacity
of my soul with enjoyment, and try what it is
to live without a wish unsatisfied."

In a few days the orders were performed, and
Seged hasted to the palace of Dambea, which stood
in an island cultivated only for pleasure, planted with
every flower that spreads its colours to the sun, and
every shrub that sheds fragrance in the air. In one
part of this extensive garden, were open walks for
excursions in the morning; in another, thick groves,
and silent arbours, and bubbling fountains for repose
at noon. All that could solace the sense, or flatter
the fancy, all that industry could extort from nature,
or wealth furnish to art, all that conquest could seize,
or beneficence attract, was collected together, and
every perception of delight was excited and gratified.

Into this delicious region Seged summoned all the
persons of his court, who seemed eminently qualified
to receive or communicate pleasure. His call was
readily obeyed; the young, the fair, the vivacious,
and the witty, were all in haste to be sated with
felicity. They sailed jocund over the lake, which
seemed to smooth its surface before them: their
passage was cheered with musick, and their hearts
dilated with expectation.

Seged, landing here with his band of pleasure,
determined from that hour to break off all acquaintance
with discontent, to give his heart for ten days
to ease and jollity, and then fall back to the common
state of man, and suffer his life to be diversified,
as before, with joy and sorrow.

He immediately entered his chamber, to consider
where he should begin his circle of happiness. He
had all the artists of delight before him, but knew
not whom to call, since he could not enjoy one, but
by delaying the performance of another. He chose
and rejected, he resolved and changed his resolution,
till his faculties were harassed, and his thoughts
confused; then returned to the apartment where his
presence was expected, with languid eyes and clouded
countenance, and spread the infection of uneasiness
over the whole assembly. He observed their depression,
and was offended, for he found his vexation
increased by those whom he expected to dissipate and
relieve it. He retired again to his private chamber,
and sought for consolation in his own mind; one
thought flowed in upon another; a long succession
of images seized his attention; the moments crept
imperceptibly away through the gloom of pensiveness,
till, having recovered his tranquillity, he lifted
his head, and saw the lake brightened by the setting
sun. "Such," said Seged, sighing, "is the longest
day of human existence: before we have learned to
use it, we find it at an end."

The regret which he felt for the loss of so great
a part of his first day, took from him all disposition
to enjoy the evening; and, after having endeavoured,
for the sake of his attendants, to force an air of gaiety,
and excite that mirth which he could not share, he
resolved to refer his hopes to the next morning,
and lay down to partake with the slaves of labour
and poverty the blessing of sleep.

He rose early the second morning, and resolved
now to be happy. He therefore fixed upon the gate
of the palace an edict, importing, that whoever,
during nine days, should appear in the presence of
the king with a dejected countenance, or utter any
expression of discontent or sorrow, should be driven
for ever from the palace of Dambea.

This edict was immediately made known in every
chamber of the court, and bower of the gardens.
Mirth was frighted away, and they who were before
dancing in the lawns, or singing in the shades, were at
once engaged in the care of regulating their looks,
that Seged might find his will punctually obeyed,
and see none among them liable to banishment.

Seged now met every face settled in a smile; but
a smile that betrayed solicitude, timidity, and
constraint. He accosted his favourites with familiarity
and softness; but they durst not speak without
premeditation, lest they should be convicted of
discontent or sorrow. He proposed diversions, to which
no objection was made, because objection would
have implied uneasiness; but they were regarded
with indifference by the courtiers, who had no other
desire than to signalize themselves by clamorous
exultation. He offered various topicks of conversation,
but obtained only forced jests, and laborious
laughter; and after many attempts to animate his
train to confidence and alacrity, was obliged to
confess to himself the impotence of command, and
resign another day to grief and disappointment.

He at last relieved his companions from their
terrours, and shut himself up in his chamber to ascertain,
by different measures, the felicity of the succeeding
days. At length he threw himself on the bed,
and closed his eyes, but imagined, in his sleep, that
his palace and gardens were overwhelmed by an
inundation, and waked with all the terrours of a man
struggling in the water. He composed himself again
to rest, but was affrighted by an imaginary irruption
into his kingdom; and striving, as is usual in dreams,
without ability to move, fancied himself betrayed
to his enemies, and again started up with horrour
and indignation.

It was now day, and fear was so strongly
impressed on his mind, that he could sleep no more.
He rose, but his thoughts were filled with the deluge
and invasion, nor was he able to disengage his attention,
or mingle with vacancy and ease in any amusement.
At length his perturbation gave way to reason,
and he resolved no longer to be harassed by visionary
miseries; but, before this resolution could be
completed, half the day had elapsed: he felt a new
conviction of the uncertainty of human schemes,
and could not forbear to bewail the weakness of that
being whose quiet was to be interrupted by vapours
of the fancy. Having been first disturbed by a dream,
he afterwards grieved that a dream could disturb
him. He at last discovered, that his terrours and
grief were equally vain, and that to lose the present
in lamenting the past, was voluntarily to protract a
melancholy vision. The third day was now declining,
and Seged again resolved to be happy on the morrow.

No. 205. TUESDAY, MARCH 3, 1752

Volat ambiguis
Mobilis alis hora, nec ulli
Praestat velox Fortuna fidem. SENECA. Hippol. 1141.
On fickle wings the minutes haste,
And fortune's favours never last. F. LEWIS.

ON the fourth morning Seged rose early, refreshed
with sleep, vigorous with health, and eager with
expectation. He entered the garden, attended by
the princes and ladies of his court, and seeing
nothing about him but airy cheerfulness, began to say to
his heart, "This day shall be a day of pleasure."
The sun played upon the water, the birds warbled
in the groves, and the gales quivered among the
branches. He roved from walk to walk as chance
directed him, and sometimes listened to the songs,
sometimes mingled with the dancers, sometimes let
loose his imagination in flights of merriment; and
sometimes uttered grave reflections, and sententious
maxims, and feasted on the admiration with which
they were received.

Thus the day rolled on, without any accident of
vexation, or intrusion of melancholy thoughts. All
that beheld him caught gladness from his looks, and
the sight of happiness conferred by himself filled
his heart with satisfaction: but having passed three
hours in this harmless luxury, he was alarmed on a
sudden by an universal scream among the women,
and turning back saw the whole assembly flying in
confusion. A young crocodile had risen out of the
lake, and was ranging the garden in wantonness or
hunger. Seged beheld him with indignation, as a
disturber of his felicity, and chased him back into
the lake, but could not persuade his retinue to stay,
or free their hearts from the terrour which had seized
upon them. The princesses inclosed themselves in
the palace, and could yet scarcely believe themselves
in safety. Every attention was fixed upon the late
danger and escape, and no mind was any longer at
leisure for gay sallies or careless prattle.

Seged had now no other employment than to
contemplate the innumerable casualties which lie in
ambush on every side to intercept the happiness of
man, and break in upon the hour of delight and
tranquillity. He had, however, the consolation of
thinking, that he had not been now disappointed
by his own fault, and that the accident which had
blasted the hopes of the day, might easily be
prevented by future caution.

That he might provide for the pleasure of the
next morning, he resolved to repeal his penal edict,
since he had already found that discontent and
melancholy were not to be frighted away by the
threats of authority, and that pleasure would only
reside where she was exempted from control. He
therefore invited all the companions of his retreat
to unbounded pleasantry, by proposing prizes for
those who should, on the following day, distinguish
themselves by any festive performances; the tables
of the antechamber were covered with gold and
pearls, and robes and garlands decreed the rewards
of those who could refine elegance or heighten

At this display of riches every eye immediately
sparkled, and every tongue was busied in celebrating
the bounty and magnificence of the emperour.
But when Seged entered, in hopes of uncommon
entertainment from universal emulation, he found
that any passion too strongly agitated, puts an end
to that tranquillity which is necessary to mirth, and
that the mind, that is to be moved by the gentle
ventilations of gaiety, must be first smoothed by a
total calm. Whatever we ardently wish to gain, we
must in the same degree be afraid to lose, and fear
and pleasure cannot dwell together.

All was now care and solicitude. Nothing was
done or spoken, but with so visible an endeavour at
perfection, as always failed to delight, though it
sometimes forced admiration: and Seged could not
but observe with sorrow, that his prizes had more
influence than himself. As the evening approached,
the contest grew more earnest, and those who were
forced to allow themselves excelled, began to
discover the malignity of defeat, first by angry glances,
and at last by contemptuous murmurs. Seged likewise
shared the anxiety of the day, for considering
himself as obliged to distribute with exact justice
the prizes which had been so zealously sought, he
durst never remit his attention, but passed his
time upon the rack of doubt, in balancing different
kinds of merit, and adjusting the claims of all the

At last, knowing that no exactness could satisfy
those whose hopes he should disappoint, and thinking
that on a day set apart for happiness, it would
be cruel to oppress any heart with sorrow, he declared
that all had pleased him alike, and dismissed
all with presents of equal value.

Seged soon saw that his caution had not been able
to avoid offence. They who had believed themselves
secure of the highest prizes, were not pleased to be
levelled with the crowd: and though, by the
liberality of the king, they received more than his
promise had entitled them to expect, they departed
unsatisfied, because they were honoured with no
distinction, and wanted an opportunity to triumph
in the mortification of their opponents. "Behold
here," said Seged, "the condition of him who places
his happiness in the happiness of others." He then
retired to meditate, and, while the courtiers were
repining at his distributions, saw the fifth sun go
down in discontent.

The next dawn renewed his resolution to be happy.
But having learned how little he could effect by
settled schemes or preparatory measures, he thought
it best to give up one day entirely to chance, and
left every one to please and be pleased his own way.

This relaxation of regularity diffused a general
complacence through the whole court, and the emperour
imagined that he had at last found the secret
of obtaining an interval of felicity. But as he was
roving in this careless assembly with equal carelessness,
he overheard one of his courtiers in a close arbour
murmuring alone: "What merit has Seged
above us, that we should thus fear and obey him, a
man, whom, whatever he may have formerly performed,
his luxury now shows to have the same
weakness with ourselves." This charge affected him
the more, as it was uttered by one whom he had
always observed among the most abject of his flatterers.
At first his indignation prompted him to severity;
but reflecting, that what was spoken without
intention to be heard, was to be considered as only
thought, and was perhaps but the sudden burst of
casual and temporary vexation, he invented some
decent pretence to send him away, that his retreat
might not be tainted with the breath of envy, and,
after the struggle of deliberation was past, and all
desire of revenge utterly suppressed, passed the evening
not only with tranquillity, but triumph, though none
but himself was conscious of the victory.

The remembrance of his clemency cheered the
beginning of the seventh day, and nothing happened
to disturb the pleasure of Seged, till, looking on the
tree that shaded him, he recollected, that, under a
tree of the same kind he had passed the night after
his defeat in the kingdom of Goiama. The reflection
on his loss, his dishonour, and the miseries which his
subjects suffered from the invader, filled him with
sadness. At last he shook of f the weight of sorrow,
and began to solace himself with his usual pleasures,
when his tranquillity was again disturbed by jealousies
which the late contest for the prizes had produced,
and which, having in vain tried to pacify
them by persuasion, he was forced to silence by

On the eighth morning Seged was awakened early
by an unusual hurry in the apartments, and inquiring
the cause, was told that the princess Balkis was
seized with sickness. He rose, and calling the
physicians, found that they had little hope of her
recovery. Here was an end of jollity: all his thoughts
were now upon his daughter, whose eyes he closed
on the tenth day.

Such were the days which Seged of Ethiopia had
appropriated to a short respiration from the fatigues
of war and the cares of government. This narrative
he has bequeathed to future generations, that no
man hereafter may presume to say, "This day shall
be a day of happiness."

No. 206. SATURDAY, MARCH 7, 1752

----Propositi nondum pudet, atque eadem est mens,
Ut bona summa putes, alien
But harden'd by affronts, and still the same,
Lost to all sense of honour and of fame,
Thou yet canst love to haunt the great man's board,
And think no supper good but with a lord. BOWLES.

WHEN Diogenes was once asked, what kind of
wine he liked best? he answered, "That
which is drunk at the cost of others."

Though the character of Diogenes has never
excited any general zeal of imitation, there are many
who resemble him in his taste of wine; many who
are frugal, though not abstemious; whose appetites,
though too powerful for reason, are kept under
restraint by avarice; and to whom all delicacies lose
their flavour, when they cannot be obtained but at
their own expense.

Nothing produces more singularity of manners
and inconstancy of life, than the conflict of opposite
vices in the same mind. He that uniformly pursues
any purpose, whether good or bad, has a settled
principle of action; and as he may always find
associates who are travelling the same way, is
countenanced by example, and sheltered in the multitude;
but a man, actuated at once by different desires,
must move in a direction peculiar to himself, and
suffer that reproach which we are naturally inclined
to bestow on those who deviate from the rest of the
world, even without inquiring whether they are
worse or better.

Yet this conflict of desires sometimes produces
wonderful efforts. To riot in far-fetched dishes, or
surfeit with unexhausted variety, and yet practise
the most rigid economy, is surely an art which may
justly draw the eyes of mankind upon them whose
industry or judgment has enabled them to attain it.
To him, indeed, who is content to break open the
chests, or mortgage the manours, of his ancestors,
that he may hire the ministers of excess at the highest
price, gluttony is an easy science; yet we often
hear the votaries of luxury boasting of the elegance
which they owe to the taste of others, relating with
rapture the succession of dishes with which their
cooks and caterers supply them; and expecting
their share of praise with the discoverers of arts and
the civilizers of nations. But to shorten the way to
convivial happiness, by eating without cost, is a
secret hitherto in few hands, but which certainly
deserves the curiosity of those whose principal
enjoyment is their dinner, and who see the sun rise
with no other hope than that they shall fill their
bellies before it sets.

Of them that have within my knowledge attempted
this scheme of happiness, the greater part
have been immediately obliged to desist; and some,
whom their first attempts flattered with success,
were reduced by degrees to a few tables, from which
they were at last chased to make way for others;
and having long habituated themselves to superfluous
plenty, growled away their latter years in
discontented competence.

None enter the regions of luxury with higher
expectations than men of wit, who imagine, that they
shall never want a welcome to that company whose
ideas they can enlarge, or whose imaginations they
can elevate, and believe themselves able to pay for
their wine with the mirth which it qualifies them
to produce. Full of this opinion, they crowd with
little invitation, wherever the smell of a feast allures
them, but are seldom encouraged to repeat their
visits, being dreaded by the pert as rivals, and hated
by the dull as disturbers of the company.

No man has been so happy in gaining and keeping
the privilege of living at luxurious houses as
Gulosulus, who, after thirty years of continual revelry,
has now established, by uncontroverted prescription,
his claim to partake of every entertainment,
and whose presence they who aspire to the praise
of a sumptuous table are careful to procure on a
day of importance, by sending the invitation a
fortnight before.

Gulosulus entered the world without any eminent
degree of merit; but was careful to frequent houses
where persons of rank resorted. By being often seen,
he became in time known; and, from sitting in the
same room, was suffered to mix in idle conversation,
or assisted to fill up a vacant hour, when better
amusement was not readily to be had. From the
coffee-house he was sometimes taken away to dinner;
and as no man refuses the acquaintance of him
whom he sees admitted to familiarity by others of
equal dignity, when he had been met at a few tables,
he with less difficulty found the way to more, till
at last he was regularly expected to appear wherever
preparations are made for a feast, within the
circuit of his acquaintance.

When he was thus by accident initiated in luxury,
he felt in himself no inclination to retire from
a life of so much pleasure, and therefore very
seriously considered how he might continue it. Great
qualities, or uncommon accomplishments, he did not
find necessary; for he had already seen that merit
rather enforces respect than attracts fondness; and
as he thought no folly greater than that of losing a
dinner for any other gratification, he often congratulated
himself, that he had none of that disgusting
excellence which impresses awe upon greatness, and
condemns its possessors to the society of those who
are wise or brave, and indigent as themselves.

Gulosulus, having never allotted much of his time
to books or meditation, had no opinion in philosophy
or politicks, and was not in danger of injuring his
interest by dogmatical positions or violent contradiction.
If a dispute arose, he took care to listen with
earnest attention; and, when either speaker grew
vehement and loud, turned towards him with eager
quickness, and uttered a short phrase of admiration,
as if surprised by such cogency of argument as he
had never known before. By this silent concession,
he generally preserved in either controvertist such
a conviction of his own superiority, as inclined him
rather to pity than irritate his adversary, and
prevented those outrages which are sometimes produced
by the rage of defeat, or petulance of triumph.

Gulosulus was never embarrassed but when he was
required to declare his sentiments before he had been
able to discover to which side the master of the
house inclined, for it was his invariable rule to adopt
the notions of those that invited him.

It will sometimes happen that the insolence of
wealth breaks into contemptuousness, or the turbulence
of wine requires a vent; and Gulosulus seldom
fails of being singled out on such emergencies, as
one on whom any experiment of ribaldry may be
safely tried. Sometimes his lordship finds himself
inclined to exhibit a specimen of raillery for the diversion
of his guests, and Gulosulus always supplies him
with a subject of merriment. But he has learned to
consider rudeness and indignities as familiarities that
entitle him to greater freedom: he comforts himself,
that those who treat and insult him pay for their
laughter, and that he keeps his money while they
enjoy their jest.

His chief policy consists in selecting some dish
from every course, and recommending it to the company,
with an air so decisive, that no one ventures
to contradict him. By this practice he acquires at a
feast a kind of dictatorial authority; his taste
becomes the standard of pickles and seasoning, and he
is venerated by the professors of epicurism, as the
only man who understands the niceties of cookery.

Whenever a new sauce is imported, or any
innovation made in the culinary system, he procures the
earliest intelligence, and the most authentick
receipt; and, by communicating his knowledge under
proper injunctions of secrecy, gains a right of tasting
his own dish whenever it is prepared, that he
may tell whether his directions have been fully

By this method of life Gulosulus has so impressed
on his imagination the dignity of feasting, that he
has no other topick of talk, or subject of meditation.
His calendar is a bill of fare; he measures the year
by successive dainties. The only common-places of
his memory are his meals; and if you ask him at what
time an event happened, he considers whether he
heard it after a dinner of turbot or venison. He
knows, indeed. that those who value themselves
upon sense, learning, or piety, speak of him with
contempt; but he considers them as wretches,
envious or ignorant, who do not know his happiness,
or wish to supplant him; and declares to his friends,
that he is fully satisfied with his own conduct, since
he has fed every day on twenty dishes, and yet
doubled his estate.

No. 207. TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 1752

Solve senescentem mature sanus equum, ne
Peccet ad extremum ridendus.---- HOR. Lib. i. Ep. i. 8.

The voice of reason cries with winning force,
Loose from the rapid car your aged horse,
Lest, in the race derided, left behind,
He drag his jaded limbs and burst his wind. FRANCIS.

SUCH is the emptiness of human enjoyment,
that we are always impatient of the present.
Attainment is followed by neglect, and possession
by disgust; and the malicious remark of the Greek
epigrammatist on marriage may be applied to every
other course of life, that its two days of happiness
are the first and the last.

Few moments are more pleasing than those in
which the mind is concerting measures for a new
undertaking. From the first hint that weakens the
fancy, till the hour of actual execution, all is
improvement and progress, triumph and felicity. Every
hour brings additions to the original scheme,
suggests some new expedient to secure success, or
discovers consequential advantages not hitherto
foreseen. While preparations are made, and materials
accumulated, day glides after day through elysian
prospects, and the heart dances to the song of hope.

Such is the pleasure of projecting, that many
content themselves with a succession of visionary
schemes, and wear out their allotted time in the calm
amusement of contriving what they never attempt
or hope to execute.

Others, not able to feast their imagination with
pure ideas, advance somewhat nearer to the grossness
of action, with great diligence collect whatever
is requisite to their design, and, after a thousand
researches and consultations, are snatched away by
death, as they stand in procinctu waiting for a proper
opportunity to begin.

If there were no other end of life, than to find
some adequate solace for every day, I know not
whether any condition could be preferred to that of
the man who involves himself in his own thoughts,
and never suffers experience to shew him the vanity
of speculation; for no sooner are notions reduced to
practice, than tranquillity and confidence forsake
the breast; every day brings its task, and often
without bringing abilities to perform it: difficulties
embarrass, uncertainty perplexes, opposition retards,
censure exasperates, or neglect depresses. We
proceed because we have begun; we complete our
design, that the labour already spent may not be
vain; but as expectation gradually dies away, the
gay smile of alacrity disappears, we are compelled
to implore severer powers, and trust the event to
patience and constancy.

When once our labour has begun, the comfort
that enables us to endure it is the prospect of its
end; for though in every long work there are some
joyous intervals of self-applause, when the attention
is recreated by unexpected facility, and the imagination
soothed by incidental excellencies; yet the toil
with which performance struggles after idea, is so
irksome and disgusting, and so frequent is the
necessity of resting below that perfection which we
imagined within our reach, that seldom any man
obtains more from his endeavours than a painful
conviction of his defects, and a continual resuscitation
of desires which he feels himself unable to

So certainly is weariness the concomitant of our
undertakings, that every man, in whatever he is
engaged, consoles himself with the hope of change; if
he has made his way by assiduity to publick
employment, he talks among his friends of the delight
of retreat; if by the necessity of solitary application
he is secluded from the world, he listens with a
beating heart to distant noises, longs to mingle with
living beings, and resolves to take hereafter his fill
of diversions, or display his abilities on the universal
theatre, and enjoy the pleasure of distinction and

Every desire, however innocent, grows dangerous,
as by long indulgence it becomes ascendant in the
mind. When we have been much accustomed to
consider any thing as capable of giving happiness, it
is not easy to restrain our ardour or forbear some
precipitation in our advances, and irregularity in our
pursuits. He that has cultivated the tree, watched the
swelling bud and opening blossom, and pleased himself
with computing how much every sun and shower
add to its growth, scarcely stays till the fruit has
obtained its maturity, but defeats his own cares by
eagerness to reward them. When we have diligently
laboured for any purpose, we are willing to believe
that we have attained it, and, because we have
already done much, too suddenly conclude that no
more is to be done.

All attraction is increased by the approach of the
attracting body. We never find ourselves so desirous
to finish, as in the latter part of our work, or so
impatient of delay, as when we know that delay cannot
be long. Thus unseasonable importunity of discontent
may be partly imputed to langour and weariness,
which must always oppress those more whose
toil has been longer continued; but the greater part
usually proceeds from frequent contemplation of
that ease which is now considered as within reach,
and which, when it has once flattered our hopes, we
cannot suffer to be withheld.
In some of the noblest compositions of wit, the
conclusion falls below the vigour and spirit of the
first books; and as a genius is not to be degraded
by the imputation of human failings, the cause of
this declension is commonly sought in the structure
of the work, and plausible reasons are given why in
the defective part less ornament was necessary, or
less could be admitted. But, perhaps, the author
would have confessed, that his fancy was tired, and
his perseverance broken; that he knew his design
to be unfinished, but that, when he saw the end so
near, he could no longer refuse to be at rest.

Against the instillations of this frigid opiate, the
heart should be secured by all the considerations
which once concurred to kindle the ardour of enterprise.
Whatever motive first incited action, has still
greater force to stimulate perseverance; since he
that might have lain still at first in blameless
obscurity, cannot afterwards desist but with infamy
and reproach. He, whom a doubtful promise of distant
good could encourage to set difficulties at
defiance, ought not to remit his vigour, when he has
almost obtained his recompense. To faint or loiter,
when only the last efforts are required, is to steer
the ship through tempests, and abandon it to the
winds in sight of land; it is to break the ground and
scatter the seed, and at last to neglect the harvest.

The masters of rhetorick direct, that the most
forcible arguments be produced in the latter part
of an oration, lest they should be effaced or perplexed
by supervenient images. This precept may be justly
extended to the series of life: nothing is ended with
honour, which does not conclude better than it began.
It is not sufficient to maintain the first vigour;
for excellence loses its effect upon the mind by
custom, as light after a time ceases to dazzle.
Admiration must be continued by that novelty which first
produced it, and how much soever is given, there
must always be reason to imagine that more remains.

We not only are most sensible of the last
impressions, but such is the unwillingness of mankind
to admit transcendant merit, that, though it be
difficult to obliterate the reproach of miscarriages by
any subsequent achievement, however illustrious,
yet the reputation raised by a long train of success
may be finally ruined by a single failure; for
weakness or errour will be always remembered by that
malice and envy which it gratifies.

For the prevention of that disgrace, which
lassitude and negligence may bring at last upon the
greatest performances, it is necessary to proportion
carefully our labour to our strength. If the design
comprises many parts, equally essential, and therefore
not to be separated, the only time for caution
is before we engage; the powers of the mind must
be then impartially estimated, and it must be
remembered that, not to complete the plan, is not to
have begun it; and that nothing is done, while any
thing is omitted.

But, if the task consists in the repetition of single
acts, no one of which derives its efficacy from the
rest, it may be attempted with less scruple, because
there is always opportunity to retreat with honour.
The danger is only, lest we expect from the world
the indulgence with which most are disposed to
treat themselves; and in the hour of listlessness
imagine, that the diligence of one day will atone
for the idleness of another, and that applause begun
by approbation will be continued by habit.

He that is himself weary will soon weary the
publick. Let him therefore lay down his employment,
whatever it be, who can no longer exert
his former activity or attention; let him not
endeavour to struggle with censure, or obstinately
infest the stage till a general hiss commands him
to depart.

No. 208. SATURDAY, MARCH 14, 1752

'Hr ti me catw elcet' a:.mousoi;
Ouc' umn eoeponoun, tos de m'
Eis eoemoioe anqrwpos trismurioi<.S> oi d' aoenariqmoi
Ouoedeis<.S> tat' auoed cai paraoe



Begone, ye blockheads, Herselitus cries,
And leave my labours to the learn'd and wise;
By wit, by knowledge, studious to be read,
I scorn the multitude, alive and dead.

TIME, which puts an end to all human pleasures
and sorrows, has likewise concluded the labours
of the Rambler. Having supported, for two years,
the anxious employment of a periodical writer, and
multiplied my essays to upwards of two hundred,
I have now determined to desist.

The reasons of this resolution it is of little
importance to declare, since justification is unnecessary
when no objection is made. I am far from
supposing, that the cessation of my performances
will raise any inquiry, for I have never been much
a favourite of the publick, nor can boast that, in
the progress of my undertaking, I have been animated
by the rewards of the liberal, the caresses of
the great, or the praises of the eminent.

But I have no design to gratify pride by
submission, or malice by lamentation; nor think it
reasonable to complain of neglect from those whose
regard I never solicited. If I have not been
distinguished by the distributors of literary honours, I
have seldom descended to the arts by which favour
is obtained. I have seen the meteors of fashions rise
and fall, without any attempt to add a moment to
their duration. I have never complied with temporary
curiosity, nor enabled my readers to discuss
the topick of the day; I have rarely exemplified
my assertions by living characters; in my papers,
no man could look for censures of his enemies, or
praises of himself; and they only were expected to
peruse them, whose passions left them leisure for
abstracted truth, and whom virtue could please by
its naked dignity.

To some, however, I am indebted for encouragement,
and to others for assistance. The number of
my friends was never great, but they have been
such as would not suffer me to think that I was
writing in vain, and I did not feel much dejection
from the want of popularity.

My obligations having not been frequent, my
acknowledgments may be soon despatched. I can
restore to all my correspondents their productions,
with little diminution of the bulk of my volumes,
though not without the loss of some pieces to
which particular honours have been paid.

The parts from which I claim no other praise
than that of having given them an opportunity of
appearing, are the four billets in the tenth paper,
the second letter in the fifteenth, the thirtieth, the
forty-fourth, the ninety-seventh, and the hundredth
papers, and the second letter in the hundred and

Having thus deprived myself of many excuses
which candour might have admitted for the
inequality of my compositions, being no longer able
to allege the necessity of gratifying correspondents,
the importunity with which publication was
solicited, or obstinacy with which correction was
rejected, I must remain accountable for all my faults,
and submit, without subterfuge, to the censures of
criticism, which, however, I shall not endeavour to
soften by a formal deprecation, or to overbear by the
influence of a patron. The supplications of an author
never yet reprieved him a moment from oblivion;
and, though greatness has sometimes sheltered guilt,
it can afford no protection to ignorance or dulness.
Having hitherto attempted only the propagation of
truth, I will not at last violate it by the confession
of terrours which I do not feel; having laboured to
maintain the dignity of virtue, I will not now
degrade it by the meanness of dedication.

The seeming vanity with which I have sometimes
spoken of myself, would perhaps require an apology,
were it not extenuated by the example of those who
have published essays before me, and by the privilege
which every nameless writer has been hitherto
allowed. "A mask," say Castiglione, "confers a
right of acting and speaking with less restraint, even
when the wearer happens to be known." He that
is discovered without his own consent, may claim
some indulgence, and cannot be rigorously called to
justify those sallies or frolicks which his disguise
must prove him desirous to conceal.

But I have been cautious lest this offense should
be frequently or grossly committed; for, as one of
the philosophers directs us to live with a friend, as
with one that is some time to become an enemy, I
have always thought it the duty of an anonymous
author to write, as if he expected to be hereafter

I am willing to flatter myself with hopes, that,
by collecting these papers, I am not preparing, for
my future life, either shame or repentance. That all
are happily imagined, or accurately polished, that
the same sentiments have not sometimes recurred, or
the same expressions been too frequently repeated,
I have not confidence in my abilities sufficient to
warrant. He that condemns himself to compose on
a stated day, will often bring to his task an attention
dissipated, a memory embarrassed, an imagination
overwhelmed, a mind distracted with anxieties,
a body languishing with disease: he will labour on
a barren topick, till it is too late to change it; or, in
the ardour of invention, diffuse his thoughts into
wild exuberance, which the pressing hour of publication
cannot suffer judgment to examine or reduce.

Whatever shall be the final sentence of mankind,
I have at least endeavoured to deserve their kindness.
I have laboured to refine our language to
grammatical purity, and to clear it from colloquial
barbarisms, licentious idioms, and irregular
combinations. Something, perhaps, I have added to the
elegance of its construction, and something to the
harmony of its cadence. When common words were
less pleasing to the ear, or less distinct in their
signification, I have familiarized the terms of
philosophy, by applying them to popular ideas, but have
rarely admitted any words not authorized by former
writers; for I believe that whoever knows the English
tongue in its present extent, will be able to express
his thoughts without further help from other nations.

As it has been my principal design to inculcate
wisdom or piety, I have allotted few papers to the
idle sports of imagination. Some, perhaps, may be
found, of which the highest excellence is harmless
merriment; but scarcely any man is so steadily
serious as not to complain, that the severity of
dictatorial instruction has been too seldom relieved, and
that he is driven by the sternness of the Rambler's
philosophy to more cheerful and airy companions.

Next to the excursions of fancy are the disquisitions
of criticism, which, in my opinion, is only to be
ranked among the subordinate and instrumental arts.
Arbitrary decision and general exclamation I have
carefully avoided, by asserting nothing without a
reason, and establishing all my principles of
judgment on unalterable and evident truth.

In the pictures of life I have never been so
studious of novelty or surprise, as to depart wholly
from all resemblance; a fault which writers
deservedly celebrated frequently commit, that they
may raise, as the occasion requires, either mirth or
abhorrence. Some enlargement may be allowed to
declamation, and some exaggeration to burlesque,
but as they deviate farther from reality, they become
less useful, because their lessons will fail of
application. The mind of the reader is carried away from
the contemplation of his own manner; he finds in
himself no likeness to the phantom before him; and
though he laughs or rages, is not reformed.

The essays professedly serious, if I have been able
to execute my own intentions, will be found exactly
conformable to the precepts of Christianity, without
any accommodation to the licentiousness and levity
of the present age. I therefore look back on this
part of my work with pleasure, which no blame or
praise of man shall diminish or augment. I shall
never envy the honours which wit and learning obtain
in any other cause, if I can be numbered among
the writers who have given ardour to virtue, and
confidence to truth.

Auoetn eoec macarwn aoentaxios eih aoemoib.

Celestial pow'rs! that piety regard,
From you my labours wait their last reward.


No. 34. SATURDAY, MARCH 3. 1753

Has toties optata exegit gloria poenas. JUV. Sat. x. 187.

Such fate pursues the votaries of praise.



Fleet Prison, Feb. 24.

TO a benevolent disposition, every state of life
will afford some opportunities of contributing to
the welfare of mankind. Opulence and splendour are
enabled to dispel the cloud of adversity, to dry up the
tears of the widow and the orphan, and to increase
the felicity of all around them: their example will
animate virtue, and retard the progress of vice. And
even indigence and obscurity, though without power
to confer happiness, may at least prevent misery,
and apprize those who are blinded by their passions,
that they are on the brink of irremediable calamity.

Pleased, therefore, with the thought of recovering
others from that folly which has embittered my
own days, I have presumed to address the ADVENTURER
from the dreary mansions of wretchedness
and despair, of which the gates are so wonderfully
constructed, as to fly open for the reception of
strangers, though they are impervious as a rock of
adamant to such as are within them:

----Facilis descensus Averni:
Noctes atque dies patet atri janua Ditis.
Sed revocare gradum, superasque evadere ad auras,
Hoc opus, hic labor est.-------- VIRG. AEn. vi. 126.

The gates of hell are open night and day;
Smooth the descent, and easy is the way:
But to return and view the cheerful skies;
In this the task and mighty labour lies. DRYDEN.

Suffer me to acquaint you, Sir, that I have
glittered at the ball, and sparkled in the circle; that I
have had the happiness to be the unknown favourite
of an unknown lady at the masquerade, have been
the delight of tables of the first fashion, and envy
of my brother beaux; and to descend a little lower,
it is, I believe, still remembered, that Messrs.
Velours and d'Espagne stand indebted for a great part
of their present influence at Guildhall, to the
elegance of my shape, and the graceful freedom of my

----Sed quae praeclara et prospera tanti,
Ut rebus laetis par sit mensura malorum? JUV. Sat. x. 97.

See the wild purchase of the bold and vain,
Where every bliss is bought with equal pain!

As I entered into the world very young, with an
elegant person and a large estate, it was not long
before I disentangled myself from the shackles of
religion; for I was determined to the pursuit of
pleasure, which according to my notions consisted
in the unrestrained and unlimited gratifications of
every passion and every appetite; and as this could
not be obtained under the frowns of a perpetual
dictator, I considered religion as my enemy; and
proceeding to treat her with contempt and derision,
was not a little delighted, that the unfashionableness
of her appearance, and the unanimated uniformity
of her motions, afforded frequent opportunities for
the sallies of my imagination.

Conceiving now that I was sufficiently qualified
to laugh away scruples, I imparted my remarks to
those among my female favourites, whose virtue I
intended to attack; for I was well assured, that pride
would be able to make but a weak defence, when
religion was subverted; nor was my success below
my expectation: the love of pleasure is too strongly
implanted in the female breast, to suffer them scrupulously
to examine the validity of arguments designed
to weaken restraint; all are easily led to
believe, that whatever thwarts their inclination must
be wrong: little more, therefore, was required, than
by the addition of some circumstances, and the
exaggeration of others, to make merriment supply the
place of demonstration; nor was I so senseless as to
offer arguments to such as could not attend to them,
and with whom a repartee or catch would more
effectually answer the same purpose. This being
effected, there remained only "the dread of the
world:" but Roxana soared too high, to think the
opinion of others worthy her notice; Laetitia seemed
to think of it only to declare, that "if all her hairs
were worlds," she should reckon them "well lost
for love;" and Pastorella fondly conceived, that she
could dwell for ever by the side of a bubbling fountain,
content with her swain and fleecy care; without
considering that stillness and solitude can afford
satisfaction only to innocence.

It is not the desire of new acquisitions, but the
glory of conquests, that fires the soldier's breast; as
indeed the town is seldom worth much, when it has
suffered the devastations of a siege; so that though
I did not openly declare the effects of my own
prowess, which is forbidden by the laws of honour, it
cannot be supposed that I was very solicitous to
bury my reputation, or to hinder accidental discoveries.
To have gained one victory, is an inducement
to hazard a second engagement: and though the
success of the general should be a reason for increasing
the strength of the fortification, it becomes, with
many, a pretence for an immediate surrender, under
the notion that no power is able to withstand so
formidable an adversary; while others brave the danger,
and think it mean to surrender, and dastardly to fly.
Melissa, indeed, knew better; and though she could
not boast the apathy, steadiness, and inflexibility of a
Cato, wanted not the more prudent virtue of Scipio,
and gained the victory by declining the contest.

You must not, however, imagine, that I was,
during this state of abandoned libertinism, so fully
convinced of the fitness of my own conduct, as to be
free from uneasiness. I knew very well, that I might
justly be deemed the pest of society, and that such
proceedings must terminate in the destruction of
my health and fortune; but to admit thoughts of this
kind was to live upon the rack: I fled, therefore, to
the regions of mirth and jollity, as they are called,
and endeavoured with Burgundy, and a continual
rotation of company, to free myself from the pangs
of reflection. From these orgies we frequently sallied
forth in quest of adventures, to the no small terrour
and consternation of all the sober stragglers that
came in our way: and though we never injured, like
our illustrious progenitors, the Mohocks, either life
or limbs; yet we have in the midst of Covent Garden
buried a tailor, who had been troublesome to
some of our fine gentlemen, beneath a heap of
cabbage-leaves and stalks, with this conceit,

Satia te caule quem semper cupisti.

Glut yourself with cabbage, of which you have always been

There can be no reason for mentioning the common
exploits of breaking windows and bruising the
watch; unless it be to tell you of the device of
producing before the justice broken lanterns, which have
been paid for an hundred times; or their appearances
with patches on their heads, under pretence of being
cut by the sword that was never drawn: nor need I
say any thing of the more formidable attack of
sturdy chairmen, armed with poles; by a slight stroke
of which, the pride of Ned Revel's face was at once
laid flat, and that effected in an instant, which its
most mortal foe had for years assayed in vain. I shall
pass over the accidents that attended attempts to
scale windows, and endeavours to dislodge signs
from their hooks: there are many "hair-breadth
'scapes," besides those in the "imminent deadly
breach;" but the rake's life, though it be equally
hazardous with that of the soldier, is neither
accompanied with present honour nor with pleasing
retrospect; such is, and such ought to be, the difference
between the enemy and the preserver of his country.

Amidst such giddy and thoughtless extravagance,
it will not seem strange, that I was often the
dupe of coarse flattery. When Mons. L'Allonge
assured me, that I thrust quart over arm better than
any man in England, what could I less than present
him with a sword that cost me thirty pieces? I was
bound for a hundred pounds for Tom Trippet,
because he had declared that he would dance a minuet
with any man in the three kingdoms except myself.
But I often parted with money against my inclination,
either because I wanted the resolution to refuse,
or dreaded the appellation of a niggardly fellow;
and I may be truly said to have squandered
my estate, without honour, without friends, and
without pleasure. The last may, perhaps, appear
strange to men unacquainted with the masquerade
of life: I deceived others, and I endeavoured to
deceive myself; and have worn the face of pleasantry
and gaiety, while my heart suffered the most
exquisite torture.

By the instigation and encouragement of my
friends, I became at length ambitious of a seat in
parliament; and accordingly set out for the town
of Wallop in the west, where my arrival was
welcomed by a thousand throats, and I was in three
days sure of a majority: but after drinking out one
hundred and fifty hogsheads of wine, and bribing
two-thirds of the corporation twice over, I had the
mortification to find that the borough had been
before sold to Mr. Courtly.

In a life of this kind, my fortune, though
considerable, was presently dissipated; and as the
attraction grows more strong the nearer any body
approaches the earth, when once a man begins to
sink into poverty, he falls with velocity always
increasing; every supply is purchased at a higher and
higher price, and every office of kindness obtained
with greater and greater difficulty. Having now
acquainted you with my state of elevation, I shall, if
you encourage the continuance of my correspondence,
shew you by what steps I descended from a
first floor in Pall-Mall to my present habitation[e].

I am, Sir,

Your humble servant,


[e] For an account of the disputes raised on this paper, and on
the other letters of Misargyrus, see Preface.

No. 39. TUESDAY, MARCH 20, 1753

--'Oduseuoes fulloisi caluyato' t d' ar' 'Aq
"Gpnon eoep' ', ina min pauseie tacista
Duspon.-------- HOM. E'. 491.

--Pallas pour'd sweet slumbers on his soul;
And balmy dreams, the gift of soft repose,
Calm'd all his pains, and banish'd all his woes. POPE.

IF every day did not produce fresh instances of
the ingratitude of mankind, we might, perhaps,
be at a loss, why so liberal and impartial a
benefactor as sleep, should meet with so few historians
or panegyrists. Writers are so totally absorbed by
the business of the day, as never to turn their
attention to that power, whose officious hand so
seasonably suspends the burthen of life; and without
whose interposition man would not be able to endure
the fatigue of labour, however rewarded, or
the struggle with opposition, however successful.

Night, though she divides to many the longest
part of life, and to almost all the most innocent and
happy, is yet unthankfully neglected, except by
those who pervert her gifts.

The astronomers, indeed, expect her with
impatience, and felicitate themselves upon her arrival:
Fontenelle has not failed to celebrate her praises;
and to chide the sun for hiding from his view the
worlds, which he imagines to appear in every
constellation. Nor have the poets been always deficient
in her praises: Milton has observed of the night,
that it is "the pleasant time, the cool, the silent."

These men may, indeed, well be expected to pay
particular homage to night; since they are indebted
to her, not only for cessation of pain, but increase
of pleasure; not only for slumber, but for knowledge.
But the greater part of her avowed votaries are the
sons of luxury; who appropriate to festivity the
hours designed for rest; who consider the reign of
pleasure as commencing when day begins to withdraw
her busy multitudes, and ceases to dissipate
attention by intrusive and unwelcome variety; who
begin to awake to joy when the rest of the world
sinks into insensibility; and revel in the soft affluence
of flattering and artifical lights, which "more shadowy
set off the face of things."

Without touching upon the fatal consequences of
a custom, which, as Ramazzini observes, will be for
ever condemned and for ever retained; it may be
observed, that however sleep may be put off from
time to time, yet the demand is of so importunate a
nature, as not to remain long unsatisfied: and if, as
some have done, we consider it as the tax of life, we
cannot but observe it as a tax that must be paid,
unless we could cease to be men; for Alexander
declared, that nothing convinced him that he was not a
divinity, but his not being able to live without sleep.

To live without sleep in our present fluctuating
state, however desirably it might seem to the lady in
Clelia, can surely be the wish only of the young or
the ignorant; to every one else, a perpetual vigil will
appear to be a state of wretchedness, second only
to that of the miserable beings, whom Swift has in
his travels so elegantly described, as "supremely
cursed with immortality."

Sleep is necessary to the happy to prevent satiety,
and to endear life by a short absence; and to the
miserable, to relieve them by intervals of quiet. Life
is to most, such as could not be endured without
frequent intermission of existence: Homer, therefore,
has thought it an office worthy of the goddess
of wisdom, to lay Ulysses asleep when landed on

It is related of Barretier, whose early advances in
literature scarce any human mind has equalled, that
he spent twelve hours of the four-and-twenty in
sleep: yet this appears from the bad state of his
health, and the shortness of his life, to have been
too small a respite for a mind so vigorously and
intensely employed: it is to be regretted, therefore,
that he did not exercise his mind less, and his body
more: since by this means, it is highly probable,
that though he would not then have astonished with
the blaze of a comet, he would yet have shone with
the permanent radiance of a fixed star.

Nor should it be objected, that there have been
many men who daily spend fifteen or sixteen hours
in study: for by some of whom this is reported it
has never been done; others have done it for a short
time only; and of the rest it appears, that they
employed their minds in such operations as required
neither celerity nor strength, in the low drudgery of
collating copies, comparing authorities, digesting
dictionaries, or accumulating compilations.

Men of study and imagination are frequently
upbraided by the industrious and plodding sons of care,
with passing too great a part of their life in a state
of inaction. But these defiers of sleep seem not to
remember that though it must be granted them that
they are crawling about before the break of day, it
can seldom be said that they are perfectly awake;
they exhaust no spirits, and require no repairs; but
lie torpid as a toad in marble, or at least are known
to live only by an inert and sluggish loco-motive
faculty, and may be said, like a wounded snake, to
"drag their slow length along."

Man has been long known among philosophers
by the appellation of the microcosm, or epitome of
the world: the resemblance between the great and
little world might, by a rational observer, be detailed
to many particulars; and to many more by a fanciful
speculatist. I know not in which of these two classes
I shall be ranged for observing, that as the total
quantity of light and darkness allotted in the course
of the year to every region of the earth is the same,
though distributed at various times and in different
portions; so, perhaps, to each individual of the
human species, nature has ordained the same quantity
of wakefulness and sleep; though divided by
some into a total quiescence and vigorous exertion
of their faculties, and, blended by others in a kind of
twilight of existence, in a state between dreaming
and reasoning, in which they either think without
action, or act without thought.

The poets are generally well affected to sleep: as
men who think with vigour, they require respite from
thought; and gladly resign themselves to that gentle
power, who not only bestows rest, but frequently
leads them to happier regions, where patrons are
always kind, and audiences are always candid; where
they are feasted in the bowers of imagination, and
crowned with flowers divested of their prickles, and
laurels of unfading verdure.

The more refined and penetrating part of
mankind, who take wide surveys of the wilds of life, who
see the innumerable terrours and distresses that are
perpetually preying on the heart of man, and discern
with unhappy perspicuity, calamities yet latent in
their causes, are glad to close their eyes upon the
gloomy prospect, and lose in a short insensibility
the remembrance of others' miseries and their own.
The hero has no higher hope, than that, after having
routed legions after legions, and added kingdom to
kingdom, he shall retire to milder happiness, and
close his days in social festivity. The wit or the sage
can expect no greater happiness, than that, after
having harassed his reason in deep researches, and
fatigued his fancy in boundless excursions, he shall
sink at night in the tranquillity of sleep.

The poets, among all those that enjoy the blessings
of sleep, have been least ashamed to acknowledge
their benefactor. How much Statius considered
the evils of life as assuaged and softened by the balm
of slumber, we may discover by that pathetick
invocation, which he poured out in his waking nights:
and that Cowley, among the other felicities of his
darling solitude, did not forget to number the
privilege of sleeping without disturbance, we may learn
from the rank that he assigns among the gifts of
nature to the poppy, "which is scattered," says he,
"over the fields of corn, that all the needs of man
may be easily satisfied, and that bread and sleep may
be found together."

Si quis invisum Cereri benignae
Me putat germen, vehementer errat;
Illa me in partem recipit libenter
Fertilis agri.

Meque frumentumque simul per omnes
Consulens mundo Dea spargit oras;
Creseite, O! dixit, duo magna susten-
tacula vitae.

Carpe, mortalis, mea dona laetus,
Carpe, nec plantas alias require,
Sed satur panis, satur et soporis,
Caetera sperne.

He wildly errs who thinks I yield
Precedence in the well-cloth'd field,
Tho' mix'd with wheat I grow:
Indulgent Ceres knew my worth,
And to adorn the teeming earth,
She bade the Poppy blow.

Nor vainly gay the sight to please,
But blest with pow'r mankind to ease,
The goddess saw me rise:
"Thrive with the life-supporting grain,"
She cried, "the solace of the swain,
The cordial of his eyes.

Seize, happy mortal, seize the good;
My hand supplies thy sleep and food,
And makes thee truly blest:
With plenteous meals enjoy the day,
In slumbers pass the night away,
And leave to fate the rest." C. B.

Sleep, therefore, as the chief of all earthly
blessings, is justly appropriated to industry and
temperance; the refreshing rest, and the peaceful night,
are the portion only of him who lies down weary
with honest labour, and free from the fumes of
indigested luxury; it is the just doom of laziness and
gluttony, to be inactive without ease, and drowsy
without tranquillity.


Back to Full Books