Page images


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

· Egyptian mummy was ever half so useful in physic,

as I should be to these feverish constitutions, to repress the violent sallies of youth, and give each " action its proper weight and repose.

• I can stifle any violent inclination, and oppose a (torrent of anger, or the solicitations of revenge, with success. But indolence is a stream which flows slowly on, but yet undermines the foundation of every virtue. A vice of a more lively nature were a more desirable tyrant than this rust of the mind, • which gives a tincture of its nature to every action of one's life. It were as little hazard to be tost in a storm, as to lie thus perpetually becalmed: and • it is to no purpose to have within one the seeds of a thousand good qualities, if we want the vigour and resolution necessary for the exerting them. Death " brings all persons back to an equality ; and this • image of it, this slumber of the mind, leaves no difference between the greatest genius and the meanest understanding: a faculty of doing things "remarkably praise-worthy thus concealed, is of no - more use to the owner, than a heap of gold to the who dares not use it.

(To-morrow is still the fatal time when all is to • be rectified : to-morrow comes, it goes, and still I ..please myself with the shadow, whilst I lose the reality ; unmindful that the present time alone is ours, the future is yet unborn, and the past is dead, 6 and can only live, as parents in their children, in the actions it has produced.

• The time we live ought not to be computed by the number of years, but by the use that has been 'made of it; thus it is not the extent of ground, but "the yearly rent which gives the value to the estate, "Wretched and thoughtless creatures, in the only -place where covetousness were a virtue we turn prodigals ! Nothing lies upon our hands with such . uneasiness, nor has there been so many devices for

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

any one thing, as to make it slide away impercep'tibly and to no purpose. A shilling shall be hoarded ' up with care, whilst that which is above the price

of an estate, is flung away with disregard and contempt. There is nothing now-a-days so much avoid• ed, as a solicitous improvement of every part of • time; it is a report must be shunned as one tenders • the name of a wit and a fine genius, and as one • fears the dreadful character of a laborious plodder: • but notwithstanding this, the greatest wits any age 'has produced thought far otherwise ; for who can " think either Socrates or Demosthenes lost any • reputation, by their continual pains both in overcoming the defects and improving the gifts of nature? All are acquainted with the labour and • assiduity with which Tully acquired his eloquence. · Seneca in his letters to Lucilius assures him, there ( was not a day in which he did not either write some• thing, or read and epitomize some good author; and " I remember Pliny in one of his letters, where he

gives an account of the various methods he used • to fill up every vacancy of time, after several em

ployments which he enumerates; sometimes, says "he, I hunt; but even then I carry with me a pocket• book, that whilst my servants are busied in dispos«ing of the nets and other matters, I may be em

ployed in something that may be useful to me in o studies; and that if I miss of my game,

I • the least bring home some of my own thoughts • with me, and not have the mortification of having caught nothing all day. • Thus, Sir, you see how many examples I recal to mind, and what arguments I use with myself, to regain my liberty : but as I am afraid it is no or• dinary persuasion that will be of service, I shall ex

pect your thoughts on this subject, with the greatest « impatience, especially since the good will not be (confined to me alone, but will be of universal use.

may at

[ocr errors]

For there is no hopes of amendment where men

are pleased with their ruin, and whilst they think <laziness is a desirable character: whether. it be 6 that they like the state itself, or that they think • it gives them a new lustre when they do exert

themselves, seemingly to be able to do that without • labour and application, which others attain to but s with the greatest diligence.

• I am, SIR,
' your most obliged humble servant,





• PERMISSION to love you is all that I desire, to conquer all the difficulties those about you place in my way, to surmount and acquire all those qualifications you expect in him who pretends to the honour of being,

' your most humble servant,


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


................. Fruges consumere nati.


..................... Born to drink and eat.


AUGUSTUS, a few moments before his death, asked his friends who stood about him, if they thought he had acted his part well; and upon receiving such an answer as was due to his extraordinary merit, “ Let me then," says he, “ go off the stage with

your applause ;” using the expression with which the Roman actors made their exit at the conclusion of a dramatic piece. I could wish that men, while they are in health, would consider well the nature of the part they are engaged in, and what figure it will make in the minds of those they leave behind them : whether it was worth coming into the world for; whether it be suitable to a reasonable being; in short, whether it appears graceful in this life, or will turn to an advantage in the next. Let the sycophant or buffoon, the satirist or the good companion, consider with himself, when his body shall be laid in the grave, and his soul pass into another state of existence, how much it would redound to his praise to have it said of him, that no man in England eat better, that he had an admirable talent at turning his friends into ridicule, that nobody out did him at an ill-natured jest, or that he never went to bed before he had dispatched his third bottle. however, very common funeral orations, and eulogiums on deceased persons who have acted among mankind with some figure and reputation.

But if we look into the bulk of our species, they are such as are not likely to be remembered a moment after their disappearance. They leave behind them no traces of their existence, but are forgotten


These are,

[ocr errors]

as though they had never been. They are neither wanted by the poor, regretted by the rich, nor celebrated by the learned. They are neither missed in the commonwealth, nor lamented by private persons Their actions are of no significancy to mankind, and might have been performed by creatures of much less dignity than those who are distinguished by the faculty of reason. An eminent French author speaks somewhere to the following purpose: I have often seen from my chamber window two noble creatures, both of them of an erect countenance and endowed with reason. These two intellectual beings are employed from morning to night, in rubbing two smooth stones one upon another; that is, as the vulgar phrase it, in polishing marble.

My friend, Sir Andrew Freeport, as we were sitting in the club last night, gave us an account of a sober citizen, who died a few days since. This honest man being of greater consequence in his own thoughts than in the eye of the world, had for some years past kept a journal of his life. Sir Andrew shewed us one week of it. Since the occurrences set down in it mark out such a road of action as that I have been speaking of, I shall present my reader with a faithful copy of it; after having first informed him, that the deceased person had in his youth been bred to trade, but finding himself not so well turned for business, he had for several years last past lived altogether upon a moderate annuity.

Monday, eight of the clock.... I put on my clothes, and walked into the parlour.

Nine of the clock ditto..... Tied my knee-strings, and washed


hands. Hours ten, eleven, and twelve.....Smoked three pipes of Virginia. Read the Supplement and Daily Courant. Things go ill in the north. Mr. Nisby's opinion thereupon.

« PreviousContinue »