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the great length of the first part of this duration, and of the great distance of that second duration, which is to succeed it. The mind, I say, might give itself up to that happiness which is at hand, considering that it is so very near, and that it would last so very long. But when the choice we actually have before us is this, whether we will chuse to be happy for the space of only threescore and ten years, nay, perhaps, of only twenty or ten years, I might say of only a day or an hour, and miserable to all eternity; or, on the contrary, miserable for this short term of years, and happy for a whole eternity; what words are sufficient to express that folly and want of consideration which in such a case makes a wrong choice!
I here put the case even at the worst, by supposing (what seldom happens) that a course of virtue makes us miserable in this life; but if we suppose (as it generally happens) that virtue will make us more happy, even in this life, than a contrary course of vice; how can we sufficiently admire the stupidity or madness of those persons who are capable of making so absurd a choice!
Every wise man, therefore, will consider this life only as it may conduce to the happiness of the other, and cheerfully sacrifice the pleasures of a few years to those of an eternity. Spectator.
42.-Luxury and Avarice.
MOST of the trades, professions, and ways of living among mankind, take their original either from the love of pleasure, or the fear of want. The former, when it becomes too violent, degenerates into Luxury, and the latter into Avarice.
When a government flourishes in conquests, and is secure from foreign attacks, it naturally falls into all the pleasures of luxury; and as these pleasures are very expensive, they put those who are addicted to them upon raising fresh supplies of money, by all the methods of rapaciousness and corruption; so that avarice and luxury very often become one complicated principle of nature in those whose hearts are wholly set upon ease, mag
nificence, and pleasure. The most elegant and correct of all the Latin historians observes, that, in his time, when the most formidable states of the world were subdued by the Romans, the republic sunk into these two vices of a quite different nature, luxury and avarice; and accordingly describes Cataline as one who coveted the wealth of other men, at the same time that he squandered away his own. This observation on the commonwealth, when it was in its height of power and riches, holds good of all governments that are settled in a state of ease and prosperity. At such times men naturally endeavour to outshine one another in pomp and splendour, and, having no fears to alarm them from abroad, indulge themselves in the enjoyment of all the pleasures they can get into their possession; which naturally produces avarice, and an immoderate pursuit after wealth
As I was humouring myself in the speculation of these two great principles of action, I could not forbear throwing my thoughts into a little kind of allegory or fable, with which I shall here present my reader.
There were two very powerful tyrants engaged in a perpetual war against each other: the name of the first was Luxury, and of the second Avarice. The aim of each of them was no less than universal monarchy over the hearts of mankind. Luxury had many generals under him, who did him great service, as Pleasure, Mirth, Pomp, and Fashion. Avarice was likewise very strong in his officers, being faithfully served by Hunger, Industry, Care, and Watchfulness; he had likewise a privy counsellor who was always at his elbow, and whispering something or other in his ear: the name of this privy counsellor was Poverty. As Avarice had conducted himself by the counsels of Poverty, his antagonist was entirely guided by the dictates and advice of Plenty, who was his first counsellor and minister of state, and concerted all his measures for him, and never departed out of his sight. While these two great rivals were thus contending for empire, their conquests were very various. Luxury got possession of one heart, and Avarice of another. The father of a family would often
range himself under the banners of Avarice, and the son under those of Luxury. The wife and husband would often declare themselves on the two different parties, the same person would very nay, often side with one in his youth, and revolt to the other in his old age. Indeed the wise men of the world stood neuter; but, alas! their numbers were not considerable. At length, when these two potentates had wearied themselves with waging war upon one another, they agreed upon an interview, at which neither of their counsellors were to be present. It is said that Luxury began the parley, and. after having represented the endless state of war in which they were engaged, told his enemy, with a frankness of heart which is natural to him, that he believed they two should be very good friends, were it not for the instigations of Poverty, that pernicious counsellor, who made an ill use of his ear, and filled him with groundless apprehensions and prejudices. To this Avarice replied, that he looked upon Plenty (the first minister of his antagonist) to be a much more destructive counsellor than Poverty, for that he was perpetually suggesting pleasures, banishing all the necessary cautions against want, and consequently undermining those principles on which the government of Avarice was founded. At last, in order to an accommodation, they agreed upon this preliminary, that each of them should immediately dismiss his privy counsellor. When things were thus far adjusted towards a peace, all other differences were soon accommodated, insomuch, that for the future they resolved to live as good friends and confederates, and to share between them whatever conquests were made on either side. For this reason, we now find Luxury and Avarice taking possession of the same heart, and the same person between them. To which I shall only add, that since the discarding of the counsellors above-mentioned, Avarice supplies Luxury in the room of Plenty, as Luxury prompts Avarice in the place of Poverty. Spectator.
43.-The Impudent and the Absurd.
NEVER was a man so much teazed, or suffered half the uneasiness, as I have done this evening between a couple of fellows with whom I was unfortunately engaged to sup, where there were also several others in company. One of them is the most invincibly impu dent, and the other as incorrigibly absurd. The conversation, where there were a thousand things said not worth repeating, made me consider with myself, how 'tis that men of these disagreeable characters often go great lengths in the world, and seldom fail of outstripping men of merit; nay, succeed so well, that with a load of imperfections on their heads, they go on in opposition to general disesteem, while they who are every way their superiors, languish away their days, though possessed of the approbation and good-will of all who know them.
If we would examine into the secret springs of action in the impudent and the absurd, we shall find, though they bear a great resemblance in their behaviour, that they move upon very different principles. The impudent are pressing, though they know they are disagreeable; the absurd are importunate, because they think they are acceptable: impudence is a vice, and absurdity a folly. Sir Francis Bacon talks very agreeably upon the subject of impudence. He takes notice, that the Orator being asked, what was the first, second, and third requisite to make a fine speaker? still answered, Action. This, said he, is the very outward form of speaking, and yet it is what with the generality has more force than the most consummate abilities. Impudence is to the rest of mankind of the same use which action is to orators.
The truth is, the gross of men are governed more by appearances than realities, and the impudent man in his air and behaviour undertakes for himself that he has ability and merit, while the modest or diffident gives himself up as one who is possessed of neither. For this reason, men of front carry things before them with little opposition, and make so skilful an use of their talent,
that they can grow out of humour like men of consequence, and be sour, and make their dissatisfaction do them the same service as desert. This way of thinking has often furnished me with an apology for great men who confer favours on the impudent. In carrying on the government of mankind, they are not to consider what men they themselves approve in their closets and private conversations, but what men will extend themselves farthest, and more generally pass upon the world for such as their patrons want in such and such stations, and consequently take so much work off the hands of those who employ them.
Far be it that I should attempt to lessen the acceptance which men of this character meet with in the world; but I humbly propose only, that they who have merit of a different kind, would accomplish themselves in some degree with this quality of which I am now treating. Nay, I allow these gentlemen to press as forward as they please in the advancements of their interests and fortunes, but not to intrude upon others in conversation also: let them do what they can with the rich and great, as far as they are suffered, but let them not interrupt the easy and agreeable. They may be useful as servants in ambition, but never as associates in pleasure. However, as I would still drive at something instructive in every lucubration, I must recommend it to all men who feel in themselves an impulse towards attempting laudable actions, to acquire such a degree of assurance, as never to lose the possession of themselves in public or private, so far as to be incapable of acting with a due decorum on any occasion they are called to. It is a mean want of fortitude in a good man, not to be able to do a virtuous action with as much confidence as an impudent fellow does an ill one. There is no way of mending such false modesty, but by laying it down for a rule, that there is nothing shameful but what is criminal. Tatler.
44.-On Grieving for the Dead.
WE sympathize even with the dead, and overlooking what is of real importance in their situation, that awful