« ПредишнаНапред »
every father remembered his own thoughts and inclinations when he was a son, and every son remembered what he expected from his father, when he himself was in a state of dependance, this one reflection would preserve men from being dissolute or rigid in these several capacities. The power and subjection between them, when broken, make them more emphatically tyrants and rebels against each other, with greater cruelty of heart, than the disruption of states and empires can possibly produce. I shall end this application to you with two letters which passed between a mother and son very lately, and are as follows:
'If the pleasures, which I have the grief to hear you pursue in town, do not take up all your time, do not deny your mother so much of it as to read seriously this letter. You said before Mr. Letacre, that an old woman might live very well in the country upon half my jointure, and that your father was a fond fool to give me a rent charge of eight hundred a year to the prejudice of his son. What Letacre said to you upon that occasion, you ought to have borne with inore decency, as he was your father's well-beloved servant, than to have called him country-put. In the first place, Frank, I must tell you, I will have my rent duly paid, for I will make up to your sisters for the partiality I was guilty of, in making your father do so much as he has done for you. I may, it seems, live upon half my jointure! I lived upon much less, Frank, when I carried you from place to place in these arms, and could neither eat, dress, or mind any thing for feeding and tending you a weakly child, and shedding tears when the convulsions you were then troubled with returned upon
you. By my care you outgrew them, to throw away the vigour of your youth in the arms of harlots, and deny your mother what is not yours to detain. Both your sisters are crying to see the passion which I smother; but if you please to go on thus like a gentleman of the town, and forget all regards to yourself and family, I shall immediately enter upon your estate for the arrear due to me, and without one tear more, contemn you for forgetting the fondness of your mother, as much as you have the example of your father. O Frank, do I live to omit writing myself
'I will bring down new hoods for my sisters. Pray
let all be forgotten.'
N° 264. WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 2, 1711-12.
Secretum iter et fallentis semita vitæ.
HOR. 1 Ep. xviii. 105.
In public walks let who will shine or stray,
IT has been from age to age an affectation to love the pleasure of solitude, among those who cannot possibly be supposed qualified for passing life in that manner. This people have taken up from reading the many agreeable things which have been written on that subject, for which we are beholden to excellent persons who delighted in being retired, and abstracted from the pleasures that enchant the generality of the world. This way of life is recommended indeed with great beauty, and in such a manner as disposes the reader for the time to a pleasing forgetfulness, or negligence of the particular hurry of life in which he is engaged, together with a longing for that state which he is charmed with in description. But when we consider the world itself, and how few there are capable of a religious, learned, or philosophic solitude, we shall be apt to change a regard to that sort of solitude, for being a little singular in enjoying time after the way a man himself likes best in the world, without going so far as wholly to withdraw from it. I have often observed, there is not a man breathing who does not differ from all other men, as much in the sentiments of his mind as the features of his face. The felicity is, when any one is so happy as to find out and follow what is the proper bent of his genius, and turn all his endeavours to exert himself according as that
prompts him. Instead of this, which is an innocent method of enjoying a man's self, and turning out of the general tracks wherein you have crowds of rivals, there are those who pursue their own way out of a sourness and spirit of contradiction. These men do every thing which they are able to support, as if guilt and impunity could not go together. They choose a thing only because another dislikes it; and affect forsooth an inviolable constancy in matters of no manner of moment. Thus sometimes an old fellow shall wear this or that sort of cut in his clothes with great integrity, while all the rest of the world are degenerated into buttons, pockets, and loops unknown to their ancestors. As insignificant as even this is, if it were searched to the bottom, you perhaps would find it not sincere, but that he is in the fashion in his heart, and holds out from mere obstinacy. But I am running from my intended purpose, which was to celebrate a certain particular manner of passing away life, in contradiction to no man, but with a resolution to contract none of the exorbitant desires by which others are enslaved. The best way of separating a man's self from the world, is to give up the desire of being known to it. After a man has preserved his innocence, and performed all duties incumbent upon him, his time spent in his own way is what makes his life differ from that of a slave. If they who affect show and pomp knew how many of their spectators derided their trivial taste, they would be very much less elated, and have an inclination to examine the merit of all they have to do with: they would soon find out that there are many who make a figure below what their fortune or merit entitles them to, out of mere choice, and an elegant desire of ease and disincumbrance. It would look like romance to tell you in this age, of an old man who is contented to
pass for an humourist, and one who does not understand the figure he ought to make in the world, while he lives in a lodging of ten shillings a week with only one servant; while he dresses himself according to the season in cloth or in stuff, and has no one necessary attention to any thing but the bell which calls to prayers twice a-day: I say it would look like a fable to report that this gentleman gives away all which is the overplus of a great fortune by secret methods to other men. If he has not the pomp of a numerous train, and of professors of service to him, he has every day he lives the conscience that the widow, the fatherless, the mourner, and the stranger bless his unseen hand in their prayers. This humourist gives up all the compliments which people of his own condition could make him, for the pleasure of helping the afflicted, supplying the needy, and befriending the neglected. This humourist keeps to himself much more than he wants, and gives a vast refuse of his superfluities to purchase heaven, and by freeing others from the temptations of worldly want, to carry. a retinue with him thither.
Of all men who affect living in a particular way, next to this admirable character, I am the most enamoured of Irus, whose condition will not admit of such largesses, and who perhaps would not be capable of making them if it were. Irus, though he is now turned of fifty, has not appeared in the world in his real character since five-and-twenty, at which age he ran out a small patrimony, and spent some time after with rakes who had lived upon him. A course of ten years time passed in all the little alleys, by-paths, and sometimes open taverns and streets of this town, gave Irus a perfect skill in judging of the inclinations of mankind, and acting accordingly. He seriously considered he was poor, and the general horror which most men have of all who are in that