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without safety, affluence without content, jollity without friendship, and solitude without peace.
He fancies himself permitted to cull the blessings of every condition, and to leave its inconveniencies to the idle and the ignorant. He is inclined to believe no man miserable but by his own fault, and seldom looks with much pity upon
failings or miscarriages, because he thinks them willingly admitted, or negligently incurred.
It is impossible, without pity and contempt, to hear a youth of generous sentiments and warm imagination, declaring, in the moment of openness and confidence, his designs and expectations; because long life is possible, he considers it as certain, and therefore promises himself all the changes of happiness, and provides gratifications for every desire. He is, for a time, to give himself wholly to frolick and diversion, to range the world in search of pleasure, to delight every eye, to gain every heart, and to be celebrated equally for his pleasing levities and solid attainments, his deep reflections and his sparkling repartees. He then elevates his views to nobler enjoyments, and finds all the scattered excellencies of the female world united in a woman, who prefers his addresses to wealth and titles: he is afterwards to engage in business, to dissipate difficulty, and overpower opposition : to climb, by the mere force of merit, to fame and greatness; and reward all those who countenanced his rise, or paid due regard to his early excellence. At last he will retire in peace and honour; contract his views to domestick pleasures; form the manners of children like himself; observe how every year expands the beauty of his daughters, and how his sons catch ardour from their father's history; he will give laws to the neighbourhood; dictate axioms to posterity; and leave the world an example of wisdom and of happiness.
With hopes like these, he sallies jocund into life; to little purpose is he told, that the condition of humanity admite no nure and unmingled happiness: that the exu
uncommon qualifications and contrarieties of excellence, produce envy equally with applause ; that whatever admiration and fondness may promise him, he must marry a wife like the wives of others, with some virtues and some faults, and be as often disgusted by her vices, as delighted by her elegance; that if he adventures into the circle of action, he must expect to encounter men as artful, as daring, as resolute as himself; that of his children, some may be deformed, and others vicious; some may disgrace him by their follies, some offend him by their insolence, and some exhaust bim by their profusion. He hears all this with obstinate incredulity, and wonders by what malignity old age is influenced, that it cannot forbear to fill his ears with predictions of misery.
Among other pleasing errours of young minds, is the opinion of their own importance. He that has not yet remarked, how little attention his contemporaries can spare from their own affairs, conceives all eyes turned upon himself, and imagines every one that approaches him to be an enemy or a follower, an admirer or a spy. He therefore considers his fame as involved in the event of every action. Many of the virtues and vices of youth proceed from this quick sense of reputation. This it is that gives firmness and constancy, fidelity and disinterestedness, and it is this that kindles resentment for slight injuries, and dictates all the principles of sanguinary honour.
But as time brings him forward into the world, he soon discovers that he only shares fame or reproach with innumerable partners; that he is left unmarked in the obscurity of the crowd ; and that what he does, whether good or bad, soon gives way to new objects of regard. He then easily sets himself free from the anxieties of reputation, and considers praise or censure as a transient breath, which, while he hears it, is passing away, without ang lasting mischief or advantage.
In youth. it is common to measure right and wrong by
measure but interest, and to lose shame without substituting virtue.
Such is the condition of life, that something is always wanting to happiness. In youth, we have warm hopes, which are soon blasted by rashness and negligence, and great designs, which are defeated by inexperience. In age, we have knowledge and prudence without spirit to exert, or motives to prompt them; we are able to plan schemes and regulate measures, but have not time remaining to bring them to completion.
N° 197. TUESDAY, February 4, 1752.
Cujus vulturis hoc erit cadaver ?–MART.
TO THE RAMBLER.
SIR, I BELONG to an order of mankind, considerable at least for their number, to which your notice has never been formally extended, though equally entitled to regard with those triflers, who have bitherto supplied you with topicks of amusement or instruction. I am, Mr. Rambler, a legacy-hunter; and, as every man is willing to think well of the tribe in which his name is registered, you will forgive my vanity, if I remind you that the legacy-hunter, however degraded by an ill-compounded appellation in our barbarous language, was known, as I am told in ancient Rome, by the sonorous titles of Captator and Hæredipeta.
My father was an attorney in the country, who married his master's daughter in hopes of a fortune which he did not obtain, having been, as he afterwards discovered, chosen by her only because she had no better offer, and was afraid forvice I was the first offspring of a mar
be expected to inherit much dignity or generosity, and if I had them not from nature, was not likely ever to attain them; for, in the years which I spent at home, I never heard any reason for action or forbearance, but that we should gain money or lose it; nor was taught any other style of commendation, than that Mr. Sneaker is a warm man, Mr. Gripe has done his business, and needs care for nobody.
My parents, though otherwise not great philosophers, knew the force of early education, and took care that the blank of my understanding should be filled with impressions of the value of money. My mother used, upon all occasions, to inculcate some salutary axioms, such as might incite me to keep what I had, and get what I could; she informed me that we were in a world, where all must catch that catch can; and as I grew up, stored my memory with deeper observations; restrained me from the usual puerile expences, by remarking that many a little made a mickle; and, when I envied the finery of my neighbours, told me that brag was a good dog, but holdfast was a better.
I was soon sagacious enough to discover that I was not born to great wealth; and having heard no other name for happiness, was sometimes inclined to repine at my condition. But my mother always relieved me, by saying, that there was money enough in the family, that it was good to be of kin to means, that I had nothing to do but to please my friends, and I might come to hold up my head with the best squire in the country.
These splendid expectations arose from our alliance to three persons of considerable fortune. My mother's aunt had attended on a lady, who, when she died, rewarded her officiousness and fidelity with a large legacy. My father had two relations, of whom one had broken his indentures and run to sea, from whence, after an absence of thirty years, he returned with ten thousand pounds;
d the other had lured an heiress out of a window, who,
he lived, without any other care than to collect his rents, and preserve from poachers that game which he could not kill himself.
These hoarders of money were visited and courted by all who had any pretence to approach them, and received presents and compliments from cousins who could scarcely tell the degree of their relation. But we had peculiar advantages, which encouraged us to hope, that we should by degrees supplant our competitors. My father, by his profession, made himself necessary in their affairs; for the sailor and the chambermaid, he inquired out mortgages and securities, and wrote bonds and contracts; and had endeared himself to the old woman, who once rashly lent an hundred pounds without consulting him, by informing her, that her debtor was on the point of bankruptcy, and posting so expeditiously with an execution, that all the other creditors were defrauded.
To the squire he was a kind of steward, and had distinguished himself in his office by his address in raising the rents, his inflexibility in distressing the tardy tenants, and his acuteness in setting the parish free from burdensome inhabitants, by shifting them off to some other settlement.
Business made frequent attendance necessary; trust soon produced intimacy; and success gave a claim to kindness; so that we had opportunity to practise all the arts of flattery and endearment. My mother, who could not support the thoughts of losing any thing, determined, that all their fortunes should centre in me; and, in the prosecution of her schemes, took care to inform me that nothing cost less than good words, and that it is comfortable to leap into an estate which another has got.
. She trained me by these precepts to the utmost ductility of obedience, and the closest attention to profit. At an age when other boys are sporting in the fields or murmuring in the school, I was contriving some new method of paying my court: inquiring the age of my future bene