Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

but to load him with reproach. Our probable opin- | above their deserts; projectors in the republic of ions are now regarded as certainties; the difficul- letters, never. If wrong, every inferior dunce ties hitherto undiscovered as utterly inscrutable; thinks himself entitled to laugh at their disapand the last age inimitable, and therefore the pro-pointment; if right, men of superior talents think perest models of imitation. their honour engaged to oppose, since every new discovery is a tacit diminution of their own preeminence.

One might be almost induced to deplore the phi losophic spirit of the age, which, in proportion as it enlightens the mind, increases its timidity, and To aim at excellence, our reputation, our friends, represses the vigour of every undertaking. Men and our all must be ventured; by aiming only at are now content with being prudently in the right; mediocrity, we run no risk, and we do little service. which, though not the way to make new acquisi- Prudence and greatness are ever persuading us to tions, it must be owned, is the best method of se- contrary pursuits. The one instructs us to be curing what we have. Yet this is certain, that the content with our station, and to find happiness in writer who never deviates, who never hazards a new bounding every wish: the other impels us to suthought, or a new expression, though his friends periority, and calls nothing happiness but rapture. may compliment him upon his sagacity, though The one directs to follow mankind, and to act and criticism lifts her feeble voice in his praise, will think with the rest of the world: the other drives seldom arrive at any degree of perfection. The us from the crowd, and exposes us as a mark to all way to acquire lasting esteem, is not by the few-the shafts of envy or ignorance. ness of a writer's faults, but the greatness of his beauties; and our noblest works are generally most replete with both.

Nec minus periculum ex magna fama quam ex mala.

Tacit.

An author who would be sublime, often runs The rewards of mediocrity are immediately his thought into burlesque; yet I can readily pardon his mistaking ten times for once succeeding. paid, those attending excellence generally paid in True genius walks along a line; and perhaps our reversion. In a word, the little mind who loves greatest pleasure is in seeing it so often near fall- itself, will write and think with the vulgar, but the great mind will be bravely eccentric, and scorn the ing, without being ever actually down.

Every science has its hitherto undiscovered mys-beaten road, from universal benevolence. teries, after which men should travel undiscouraged

by the failure of former adventurers. Every new In this place our author introduces a paper, attempt serves perhaps to facilitate its future in- entitled a City Night Piece, with the following vention. We may not find the philosopher's motto from Martial.

stone, but we shall probably hit upon new inventions in pursuing it. We shall perhaps never be able to discover the longitude, yet perhaps we may arrive at new truths in the investigation.

Ille dolet vere, qui sine teste dolet.

This beautiful Essay forms the 117th letter in Were any of those sagacious minds among us the Citizen of the World; but Dr. Goldsmith has (and surely no nation, or no person, could ever there omitted the concluding paragraph, which, on compare with us in this particular); were any of account of its singular merit, we shall here prethose minds, I say, who now sit down contented serve.

But let me turn from a scene of such distress to

with exploring the intricacies of another's system, bravely to shake off admiration, and, undazzled with the splendour of another's reputation, to the sanctified hypocrite, who has been talking of chalk out a path to fame for themselves, and boldly virtue till the time of bed, and now steals out to cultivate untried experiment, what might not be give a loose to his vices under the protection of the result of their inquiries, should the same study midnight: vices more atrocious because he atthat has made them wise make them enterprising tempts to conceal them. See how he pants down also? What could not such qualities united pro- the dark alley; and, with hastening steps, fears an duce? But such is not the character of the Eng- acquaintance in every face. He has passed the lish: while our neighbours of the continent launch whole day in company he hates, and now goes to out into the ocean of science, without proper store prolong the night among company that as heartily for the voyage, we fear shipwreck in every breeze, hate him. May his vices be detected! may the and consume in port those powers which might morning rise upon his shame! Yet I wish to no probably have weathered every storm. purpose; villany, when detected, never gives up, Proiectors in a state are generally rewarded but boldly adds impudence to imposture.

THE BEE, No. V.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1759.

UPON POLITICAL FRUGALITY. FRUGALITY has ever been esteemed a virtue as well among Pagans as Christians: there have been even heroes who have practised it. However, we must acknowledge, that it is too modest a virtue, or, if you will, too obscure a one, to be essential to heroism; few heroes have been able to attain to such a height. Frugality agrees much better with politics; it seems to be the base, the support, and, in a word, seems to be the inseparable companion of a just administration.

disinterested, and laborious members of society; but does it not at present point out a different path? It teaches us to multiply our wants, by which means we become more eager to possess, in order to dissipate, a greater charge to ourselves, and more useless or obnoxious to society.

If a youth happens to be possessed of more genius than fortune, he is early informed, that he ought to think of his advancement in the world; that he should labour to make himself pleasing to his superiors; that he should shun low company (by which is meant the company of his equals); that he should rather live a little above than below his fortune; that he should think of becoming great: but he finds none to admonish him to become frugal, to persevere in one single design, to avoid every pleasure and all flattery which, however seeming to conciliate the favour of his supeHowever this be, there is not perhaps in the riors, never conciliate their esteem. There are world a people less fond of this virtue than the none to teach him, that the best way of becoming English; and of consequence, there is not a na- happy in himself, and useful to others, is to contion more restless, more exposed to the uneasiness tinue in the state in which fortune at first placed of life, or less capable of providing for particular him, without making too hasty strides to advancehappiness. We are taught to despise this virtue ment; that greatness may be attained, but should from our childhood, our education is improperly not be expected; and that they who most impadirected, and a man who has gone through the po- tiently expect advancement, are seldom possessed litest institutions, is generally the person who is of their wishes. He has few, I say, to teach him least acquainted with the wholesome precepts of this lesson, or to moderate his youthful passions; frugality. We every day hear the elegance of yet this experience may say, that a young man, taste, the magnificence of some, and the generosity who, but for six years of the early part of his life, of others, made the subject of our admiration and could seem divested of all his passions, would applause. All this we see represented, not as the certainly make, or considerably increase his forend and recompense of labour and desert, but as tune, and might indulge several of his favourthe actual result of genius, as the mark of a noble ite inclinations in manhood with the utmost seand exalted mind. curity.

The efficaciousness of these means is sufficiently known and acknowledged; but as we are apt to connect a low idea with all our notions of frugality, the person who would persuade us to it might be accused of preaching up avarice.

In the midst of these praises bestowed on luxury, for which elegance and taste are but another name, perhaps it may be thought improper to plead the cause of frugality. It may be thought low, or vainly declamatory, to exhort our youth from the follies of dress, and of every other superfluity; to Of all vices, however, against which morality accustom themselves, even with mechanic mean- dissuades, there is not one more undetermined ness, to the simple necessaries of life. Such sort than this of avarice. Misers are described by of instructions may appear antiquated; yet, how-some, as men divested of honour, sentiment, or huever, they seem the foundations of all our virtues, manity; but this is only an ideal picture, or the reand the most efficacious method of making man- semblance at least is found but in a few. In truth, kind useful members of society. Unhappily, how-they who are generally called misers, are some of ever, such discourses are not fashionable among the very best members of society. The sober, us, and the fashion seems every day growing still the laborious, the attentive, the frugal, are thus more obsolete, since the press, and every other styled by the gay, giddy, thoughtless, and extramethod of exhortation, seems disposed to talk of vagant. The first set of men do society all the the luxuries of life as harmless enjoyments. I re-good, and the latter all the evil that is felt. Even member, when a boy, to have remarked, that those the excesses of the first no way injure the comwho in school wore the finest clothes, were pointed monwealth; those of the latter are the most inat as being conceited and proud. At present, our jurious that can be conceived. little masters are taught to consider dress betimes, The ancient Romans, more rational than we in and they are regarded, even at school, with con- this particular, were very far from thus misplacing tempt, who do not appear as genteel as the rest. their admiration or praise; instead of regarding Education should teach us to become useful, sober, the practice of parsimony as low or vicious, they

made it synonymous even with probity. They es-turning them to some more durable indications of teemed those virtues so inseparable, that the known joy, more glorious for him, and more advantageous expression of Vir Frugi signified, at one and the to his people. same time, a sober and managing man, an honest man, and a man of substance.

After such instances of political frugality, can we then continue to blame the Dutch ambassador The Scriptures, in a thousand places, praise at a certain court, who, receiving at his departure economy; and it is every where distinguished from the portrait of the king, enriched with diamonds, avarice. But in spite of all its sacred dictates, a asked what this fine thing might be worth? Being taste for vain pleasures and foolish expense is the told that it might amount to about two thousand ruling passion of the present times. Passion, did pounds, "And why," cries he, "can not his majesI call it? rather the madness which at once possesses ty keep the picture and give the money?" The the great and the little, the rich and the poor: even simplicity may be ridiculed at first; but when we some are so intent upon acquiring the superfluities come to examine it more closely, men of sense will of life that they sacrifice its necessaries in this fool- at once confess that he had reason in what he said, ish pursuit. and that a purse of two thousand guineas is much more serviceable than a picture.

To attempt the entire abolition of luxury, as it would be impossible, so it is not my intent. The Should we follow the same method of state frugenerality of mankind are too weak, too much gality in other respects, what numberless savings slaves to custom and opinion, to resist the torrent might not be the result! How many possibilities of bad example. But if it be impossible to convert of saving in the administration of justice, which the multitude, those who have received a more ex- now burdens the subject, and enriches some memtended education, who are enlightened and judi-bers of society, who are useful only from its corcious, may find some hints on this subject useful. ruption!

They may see some abuses, the suppression of It were to be wished, that they who govern kingwhich would by no means endanger public liberty; doms would imitate artisans. When at London a they may be directed to the abolition of some un-new stuff has been invented, it is immediately necessary expenses, which have no tendency to counterfeited in France. How happy were it for promote happiness or virtue, and which might be society, if a first minister would be equally solicitdirected to better purposes. Our fire-works, ourous to transplant the useful laws of other countries public feasts and entertainments, our entries of am-into his own. We are arrived at a perfect imitabassadors, etc.; what mummery all this! what tion of porcelain; let us endeavour to imitate the childish pageants! what millions are sacrificed in paying tribute to custom! what an unnecessary charge at times when we are pressed with real want, which can not be satisfied without burdening the poor!

good to society that our neighbours are found to practise, and let our neighbours also imitate those parts of duty in which we excel.

There are some men, who in their garden attempt to raise those fruits which nature has adapted only to the sultry climates beneath the line. We have at our very doors a thousand laws and customs infinitely useful: these are the fruits we should endeavour to transplant; these the exotics that would speedily become naturalized to the soil. They might grow in every climate, and benefit every possessor.

Were such suppressed entirely, not a single creature in the state would have the least cause to mourn their suppression, and many might be cased of a load they now feel lying heavily upon them. If this were put in practice, it would agree with the advice of a sensible writer of Sweden, who, in the Gazette de France, 1753, thus expressed himself on that subject. "It were sincerely to be wished," The best and the most useful laws I have ever says he, "that the custom were established amongst seen, are generally practised in Holland. When us, that in all events which cause a public joy, we two men are determined to go to law with each made our exultations conspicuous only by acts use- other, they are first obliged to go before the reconful to society. We should then quickly see many ciling judges, called the peace-makers. If the useful monuments of our reason, which would parties come attended with an advocate, or a somuch better perpetuate the memory of things worthy licitor, they are obliged to retire, as we take fuel of being transmitted to posterity, and would be from the fire we are desirous of extinguishing. much more glorious to humanity, than all those The peace-makers then begin advising the partumultuous preparations of feasts, entertainments, ties, by assuring them, that it is the height of folly and other rejoicings used upon such occasions." to waste their substance, and make themselves The same proposal was long before confirmed by mutually miserable, by having recourse to the tria Chinese emperor, who lived in the last century,bunals of justice; follow but our direction, and we who, upon an occasion of extraordinary joy, forbade will accommodate matters without any expense to his subjects to make the usual illuminations, either either. If the rage of debate is too strong upon with a design of sparing their substance, or of either party, they are remitted back for another

day, in order that time may soften their tempers, and excess, and, either in a religious or political and produce a reconciliation. They are thus sent light, it would be our highest interest to have the for twice or thrice: if their folly happens to be in-greatest part of them suppressed. They should be curable, they are permitted to go to law, and as put under laws of not continuing open beyond a we give up to amputation such members as can not be cured by art, justice is permitted to take its

course.

certain hour, and harbouring only proper persons. These rules, it may be said, will diminish the necessary taxes; but this is false reasoning, since what was consumed in debauchery abroad, would, if such a regulation took place, be more justly, and perhaps more equitably for the workman's family, spent at home; and this cheaper to them, and without loss of time. On the other hand, our alehouses being ever open, interrupt business; the workman is never certain who frequents them, nor can the master be sure of having what was begun, finished at the convenient time.

It is unnecessary to make here long declamations, or calculate what society would save, were this law adopted. I am sensible, that the man who advises any reformation, only serves to make himself ridiculous. What! mankind will be apt to say, adopt the customs of countries that have not so much real liberty as our own! our present customs, what are they to any man? we are very happy under them: this must be a very pleasant fellow, who attempts to make us happier than we already are! Does he A habit of frugality among the lower orders of not know that abuses are the patrimony of a great mankind, is much more beneficial to society than part of the nation? Why deprive us of a malady the unreflecting might imagine. The pawnbroker, by which such numbers find their account? This, the attorney, and other pests of society, might, by I must own, is an argrment to which I have no- proper management, be turned into serviceable thing to reply. members; and, were their trades abolished, it is

What numberless savings might there not be possible the same avarice that conducts the one, or made in both arts and commerce, particularly in the same chicanery that characterizes the other, the liberty of exercising trade, without the neces- might, by proper regulations, be converted inte sary prerequisites of freedom! Such useless ob- frugality and commendable prudence. structions have crept into every state, from a spirit But some, who have made the eulogium of luxof monopoly, a narrow selfish spirit of gain, with-ury, have represented it as the natural consequence out the least attention to general society. Such a of every country that is become rich. Did we not clog upon industry frequently drives the poor from employ our extraordinary wealth in superfluities, labour, and reduces them by degrees to a state of say they, what other means would there be to emhopeless indigence. We have already a more than ploy it in? To which it may be answered, if frusufficient repugnance to labour; we should by no gality were established in the state, if our expenses means increase the obstacles, or make excuses in a were laid out rather in the necessaries than the state for idleness. Such faults have ever crept superfluities of life, there might be fewer wants, into a state, under wrong or needy administra- and even fewer pleasures, but infinitely more haptions.

piness. The rich and the great would be better able to satisfy their creditors; they would be better able to marry their children, and, instead of one marriage at present, there might be two, if such regulations took place.

Exclusive of the masters, there are numberless faulty expenses among the workmen; clubs, garnishes, freedoms, and such like impositions, which are not too minute even for law to take notice of, and which should be abolished without mercy, The imaginary calls of vanity, which in reality since they are ever the inlets to excess and idle- contribute nothing to our real felicity, would not ness, and are the parent of all those outrages which then be attended to, while the real calls of nature naturally fall upon the more useful part of society. might be always and universally supplied. The In the towns and countries I have seen, I never difference of employment in the subject is what, in saw a city or village yet, whose miseries were not reality, produces the good of society. If the subin proportion to the number of its public-houses. ject be engaged in providing only the luxuries, the In Rotterdam, you may go through eight or ten necessaries must be deficient in proportion. If, streets without finding a public-house. In Ant-neglecting the produce of our own country, our werp, almost every second house seems an ale- minds are set upon the productions of another, we house. In the one city, all wears the appearance increase our wants, but not our means; and every of happiness and warm affluence; in the other, the young fellows walk about the streets in shabby finery, their fathers sit at the door darning or knitting stockings, while their ports are filled with Junghills.

new imported delicacy for our tables, or ornament in our equipage, is a tax upon the poor.

The true interest of every government is to cultivate the necessaries, by which is always meant every happiness our own country can produce;

Alehouses are ever an occasion of debauchery and suppress all the luxuries, by which is meant,

on the other hand, every happiness imported from! abroad. Commerce has therefore its bounds; and every new import, instead of receiving encouragement, should be first examined whether it be conducive to the interest of society.

A REVERIE.

SCARCELY a day passes in which we do not hear compliments paid to Dryden, Pope, and other writers of the last age, while not a mouth comes forward that is not loaded with invectives against the writers of this. Strange, that our critics should be fond of giving their favours to those who are insensible of the obligation, and their dislike to those, who, of all mankind, are most apt to retaliate the injury.

Among the many publications with which the press is every day burdened, I have often wondered why we never had, as in other countries, an Economical Journal, which might at once direct to all the useful discoveries in other countries, and spread those of our own. As other journals serve to amuse the learned, or, what is more often the Even though our present writers had not equal case, to make them quarrel, while they only serve to give us the history of the mischievous world, for merit with their predecessors, it would be politic to use them with ceremony. Every compliment paid so I call our warriors; or the idle world, for so may the learned be called; they never trouble their them would be more agreeable, in proportion as they least deserved it. Tell a lady with a handheads about the most useful part of mankind, our some face that she is pretty, she only thinks it her peasants and our artisans;-were such a work carried into execution, with proper management, and due; it is what she has heard a thousand times before from others, and disregards the compliment: just direction, it might serve as a repository for but assure a lady, the cut of whose visage is someevery useful improvement, and increase that knowthing more plain, that she looks killing to-day, she ledge which learning often serves to confound. Sweden seems the only country where the sci- instantly bridles up, and feels the force of the welltimed flattery the whole day after. Compliments ence of economy seems to have fixed its empire. In other countries, it is cultivated only by a few which we think are deserved, we accept only as admirers, or by societies which have not received debts, with indifference; but those which conscience informs us we do not merit, we receive with sufficient sanction to become completely useful; but here there is founded a royal academy destined the same gratitude that we do favours given away, Our gentlemen, however, who preside at the disto this purpose only, composed of the most learned and powerful members of the state; an academy tribution of literary fame, scem resolved to part with which declines every thing which only terminates praise neither from motives of justice nor generosiin amusement, erudition, or curiosity; and admits ty: one would think, when they take pen in hand, only of observations tending to illustrate husbandry, that it was only to blot reputations, and to put agriculture, and every real physical improvement. In this country nothing is left to private rapacity; Yet, notwithstanding the republic of letters but every improvement is immediately diffused, and its inventor immediately recompensed by the hangs at present so feebly together; though those state. Happy were it so in other countries; by friendships which once promoted literary fame seem this means, every impostor would be prevented from now to be discontinued; though every writer who ruining or deceiving the public with pretended dis- now draws the quill seems to aim at profit, as well coveries or nostrums, and every real inventor would not, by this means, suffer the inconveniencies of suspicion.

their seals to the packet which consigns every newborn effort to oblivion.

as applause; many among them are probably laying in stores for immortality, and are provided with a sufficient stock of reputation to last the whole journey.

In short, the economy equally unknown to the As I was indulging these reflections, in order to prodigal and avaricious, seems to be a just mean eke out the present page, I could not avoid purbetween both extremes; and to a transgression of this at present decried virtue it is that we are to at-suing the metaphor of going a journey in my imatribute a great part of the evils which infest society. gination, and formed the following Reverie, too A taste for superfluity, amusement, and pleasure, wild for allegory and too regular for a dream. bring effeminacy, idleness, and expense in their train. But a thirst of riches is always proportioned to our debauchery, and the greatest prodigal is too frequently found to be the greatest miser; so that the vices which seem the most opposite, are frequently found to produce each other; and to avoid both, it is only necessary to be frugal.

Virtus est medium vitiorum et utrinque reductum.-Hor.

I fancied myself placed in the yard of a large inn, in which there were an infinite number of wagons and stage-coaches, attended by fellows who either invited the company to take their places, or were busied in packing their baggage. Each vehicle had its inscription, showing the place of its destination. On one I could read, The pleasure stagecoach; on another, The wagon of industry; on a third, The vanity whim; and on a fourth, The

« ПредишнаНапред »