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into her possession, much more disagreeable than the old one. I made the same observation on every other misfortnne or calamity, which every one in the assembly brought upon himself in lieu of wbat he had parted with; whether it be that all the evils which befal us are in some measure suited and proportioned to our strength, or that every evil becomes more supportable by our being accustomed to it, I sball not determine.
I could not from my heart forbear pitying the poor hump-backed gentleman, who went off a very well. shaped person with a stone in his bladder; nor the fine gentlepian who had struck up this bargain with him, that limped through a whole assembly of ladies, who used to admire him, with a pair of shoulders peeping over bis head.
I must not omit my own particular adventure. My friend with a long visage had no sooner taken upon him my short face, but he made such a grotesque figure in it, that as I looked upon him I could not for. bear laughing at myself, insomuch that I pat my own face ont of countenance. The poor gentleman was so sensible of the ridicule, that I found he was ashamed of what he had done: on the other side, I found that I myself had no great reason to triumph, for as I went to touch my forehead I missed the place, and clapped my finger upon my upper lip. Besides, as my nose was exceedingly prominent, I gave it two or three unlucky knocks as I was playing my hand aboat my face, and aiming at some other part of it. I saw two other gentlemen by me, who were in the same ridicu. lous circumstances. These had made a foolish swop between a couple of thick bandy legs, and iwo long trapsticks that bad no calves to them. One of these looked like a man walking upon stilts, and was 80 lifted up in the air, above his ordinary height, that his head turned round with it, while the other made snch awkward circles, as he attempted to walk, that he scarce knew how to move forward upon his new sapporters. Observing him to be a pleasant kind of fel
low, I stuck my cane in the ground, and told him I would lay him a bottle of wine that he did not march up to it on a line, that I drew for him, in a quarter of an hour.
The heap was at last distributed among the two sexes, who made a most piteous sight, as they wan. dered
up and down under the pressure of their several burdens. The whole plain was filled with murmurs and complaints, groans and lamentations. Jupiter at length taking compassion on the poor mortals, ordered them a second time to lay down their loads, with a design to give every one his own again. They discharged themselves with a great deal of pleasure; after which, the phantom, wbo had led them into such gross delusions, was commanded to disappear. There was sent in her stead a goddess of quite different figure: her motions were steady and composed, and her aspect serious but cheerful. She every now and then cast her eyes towards heaven, and fixed them upon Jupiter : her name was Patience She had no sooner placed herself by the Mount of Sorrows, but, what I thought very remarkable, the whole heap sunk to such a degree, that it did not appear a third part so big as it was before. She afterwards returned every man bis own proper calamity, and teaching him how to bear it in the most commodious manner, he marched off with it contentedly, being very well pleased that he had not been left to his own choice, as to the kind of evils which fell to his lot.
Besides the several pieces of morality to be drawn vut of this vision, I learnt from it, never to repine at my own misfortunes, or to envy the happiness of another, since it is iinpossible for any man to form a right judgment of his neighbour's snfferings; for which reason also I am determined never to think too lightly of another's complaints, but to regard the sorrows of my fellow-creatures with sentiments of humanity and compassion.
Non possidentem multa vocaveris
Muneribus sapienter uti,
But rather those that know,
For what kind fates bestow,
WAS once engaged in discourse with a Rosicrucian
about “ the great secret.” As this kind of men (I mean those of them who are not professed cheats) are over-run with enthusiasm and philosophy, it was very amusing to hear this religious adept descanting on his pretended discovery. He talked of the secret as of a spirit which lived within an emerald, and converted every thing that was near it to the highest perfection it is ca. pable of. “ It gives a lustre,” says he, “ to the sun, and water to the diamond. It irradiates every metal, and enriches lead with all the properties of gold. It heightens smoke into flame, flame into light, aud light into glory.” He further added, “ that a single ray of it dissipates pain, and care, and melancholy, from the person on whom it falls. In short,” says he, “ its presence naturally changes every place into a kind of heaven.” After he had gone on for some time in this unintelligible cant, I found that he jumbled natural and mural ideas together in the same discourse, and that his great secret was nothing else but content. This virtue does indeed produce, in some measure, all those effects which the alchymist usually ascribes to what he calls the philosopher's stone; and if it does not bring riches, it does the same thing, by banishing the desire of them. If it cannot remove the disquietndes arising out of a man's mind, body, or fortune, it makes him easy under them. It has indeed a kindly influence on the soul of man, in respect of every being to whom he stands related. It extinguishes all murmur, repining, and ingratitude towards that Being who has allotted him his part to act in this world. It de. stroys all inordinate ambition, and every tendency to corruption, with regard to the community wherein be is placed. It gives sweetness to his conversation, and a perpetual serenity to all his thoughts. ances.
Among the many methods which might be made use of for the acquiring of this virtue, I shall only mention the two following. First of all, a man should always consider how much hebas more than he wauts ; and, secondly, How much more unhappy he might be than he really is.
First of all, a man should always consider how much he has more than he wants. I am wonderfully pleased with the reply which Aristippus made to one who condoled him upon the loss of a farm: “ Why,” said he, “ I have three farms still, and you have but one; so that I ought rather to be afflicted for you, than yon for me.” On the contrary, foolish men are more apt to consider what they liave lost than what they possess; and to fix their eyes npon those who are richer than themselves, rather than on those who are under greater difficulties. All the real pleasures and conveniencies of life lie in a narrow compass; but it is the humour of mankind to be always looking for. ward, and straining after one who has got the start of them in wealth and honour. For this reason, as there are none can be properly called rich, who have not more than they want: there are few rich men in any of the politer nations but among the middle sort of people, who keep their wishes within their fortunes,
and have more wealth than they know how to enjoy. Persons of a higher rank live in a kind of splendid poverty, and are perpetually wanting, because, instead of acquiesciug in the solid pleasures of life, they endeavour to outvie one another in shadows and appear.
Men of sense have at all times beheld with a great deal of mirth this silly game that is playing over their heads, and by contracting their desires, enjoy all that secret satisfaction, which others are always in quest of. The truth is, this ridiculous chase after ima. ginary pleasures cannot be sufficiently exposed, as it is the great source of those evils which generally undo a nation. Let a man's estate be what it will, he is a poor man if he does not live within it, and naturally sets himself to sale to any one that can give him his price. When Pittacus, after the death of bis brother, who had left a good estate, was offered a great sum of money by the King of Lydia, he thanked him for his kindness, but told him he had more by half than he knew what to do with. In short, content is equiva·lent to wealth, and luxury to poverty; or, to give the thought a more agreeable turn, “ Content is natural wealth,” says Socrates: to which I shall add,“ Luxury is artificial poverty.” I shall therefore recommend to the consideration of those who are always aiming after superfluous and imaginary enjoyments, and will not be at the trouble of coutracting their desires, an excel. lent saying of Bion the philosopher; namely, no man has so much care, as he who endeavours after the most happiness.”
In the second place, every one onght to reflect how much more unhappy he might be than he really is. The former consideration took in all those who are sufficiently provided with the means to make them. selves easy; this regards such as actually lie under some pressure or misfortune. These may receive great alleviation from such a comparison as the unbappy person may make between himself and others, or be.