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WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES BY
GEORGE A. AITKEN
WITH EIGHT ORIGINAL PORTRAITS
AND EIGHT VIGNETTES
IN EIGHT VOLUMES
VOLUME THE SECOND
silent and unobserved in public meetings, you are admired by all that approach you as the life and genius of the conversation. What an happy conjunction of different talents meets in him whose whole discourse is at once animated by the strength and force of reason, and adorned with all the graces and embellishments of wit ?
When learning irradiates common life, it is then in its highest use and perfection ; and it is to such as your Lordship that the sciences owe the esteem which they have with the active part of mankind. Knowledge of books in recluse men, is like that sort of lanthorn which bides him who carries it, and serves only to pass through secret and gloomy paths of his own; but in the possession of a man of business, it is as a torch in the hand of one who is willing and able to show those who are bewildered, the
he resigned these posts in 1699, but in the following year he was made Baron Halifax of Halifax. In 1701 he was impeached by the House of Commons, but the impeachment was dismissed by the Lords. Halifax was one of the Commissioners for negotiating the Union with Scotland in 1706, but he did not again hold office until the accession of George I., when he again became first Lord of the Treasury, and was given the title of Earl of Halifax (1715). A few weeks later he died, after a short illness, of inflammation of the lungs. Halifax took much interest in science and literature, and
many writers of the day were indebted to him for patronage. Steele dedicated the fourth volume of the Tatler to Halifax, writing from The Hovel at Hampton Wick, where I have frequently had the honour of your Lordship’s company. Halifax had been an early patron of Addison's, and he was a member of the Kit-Cat Club. In 1710 he acted as godfather to Steele's son Richard.
above him, and insolent to those below him. I could not but remark, that it was the same baseness of spirit which worked in his behaviour in both fortunes: the same little mind was insolent in riches and shameless in poverty. This accident made me muse upon the circumstance of being in debt in general, and solve in my mind what tempers
were most apt to fall into this error of life, as well as the misfortune it must needs be to languish under such pressures. As for myself, my natural aversion to that sort of conversation which makes a figure with the generality of mankind, exempts me from any temptations to expense; and all my business lies within a very narrow compass, which is, only to give an honest man who takes care of my estate proper vouchers for his quarterly payments to me, and observe what linen my laundress brings and takes away with her once a week: my steward brings his receipt ready for my signing, and I have a pretty implement with the respective names of shirts, cravats, handkerchiefs, and stockings, with proper numbers to know how to reckon with my laundress. This being almost all the business I have in the world for the care of my own affairs, I am at full leisure to observe upon what others do, with relation to their equipage and economy.
When I walk the street, and observe the hurry about me in this town,
Where with like haste, though different ways, they run ;
Some to undo, and some to be undone ; 1 I say, when I behold this vast variety of persons and humours, with the pains they both take for the accomplishment of the ends mentioned in the above verses of Denham, I cannot much wonder at the endeavour after gain; but am extremely astonished that men can be so insensible of the danger of running into debt. One would think it impossible a man who is given to contract debts should know, that his creditor has from that moment in which he transgresses payment, so much as that demand comes to in his debtor's honour, liberty, and fortune. One would think he did not know that his creditor can say the worst thing imaginable of him, to wit, that he is unjust,' without defamation; and can seize his person, without being guilty of an assault. Yet such is the loose and abandoned turn of some men's minds, that they can live under these constant apprehensions, and still go on to increase the cause of them. Can there be a more low and servile condition, than to be ashamed, or afraid, to see any one man breathing? Yet he that is much in debt is in that condition with relation to twenty different people. There are indeed circumstances wherein men of honest natures may become liable to debts, by some unadvised behaviour in any great point of their life, or mortgaging a man's honesty as a security for that of another, and the like; but these instances are so particular and circumstantiated, that they cannot come within general considerations : for one such case as one of these, there are ten, where a man, to keep up a farce of retinue and grandeur within his own house, shall shrink at the expectation of surly demands at his doors. The debtor is the creditor's criminal, and all the officers of power and state whom we behold make so great a figure, are no other than so many persons in authority to make good his charge against him. Humane society depends upon his having the vengeance law allots him; and the debtor owes his liberty to his neighbour, as much as the murderer does his life to his prince.
1 Denham's Cooper's Hill.'
Our gentry are, generally speaking, in debt; and many families have put it into a kind of method of being so from generation to generation. The father mortgages when his son is very young; and the boy is to marry as soon as he is at age, to redeem it, and find portions for his sisters. This, forsooth, is no great inconvenience to him; for he may wench, keep a public table, or feed dogs, like a worthy English gentleman, till he has outrun half his estate, and leave the same encumbrance upon his firstborn; and so on, till one man of more vigour than ordinary goes quite through the estate, or some man of sense comes into it, and scorns to have an estate in partnership, that is to say, liable to the demand or insult of any man living. There is my friend Sir Andrew, though for many years a great and general trader, was never the defendant in a lawsuit, in all the
perplexity of business, and the iniquity of mankind at present: no one had any colour for the least complaint against his dealings with him.
dealings with him. This is certainly as uncommon, and in its proportion as laudable in a citizen, as it is in a general never to have suffered a disadvantage in fight. How different from this gentleman is Jack Truepenny, who has been an old acquaintance of Sir Andrew and myself from boys, but could never learn our caution. Jack has a whorish unresisting good nature, which makes him incapable of having a property in anything. His fortune, his reputation, his time, and his capacity, are at any man's service that comes first. When he was at school he was whipped thrice a week for faults he took upon him to excuse others; since he came into the business of the world, he has been arrested