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NUMB. 128. SATURDAY, June 8, 1751.
Αἰῶν δ ̓ ἀσφαλῆς
Οὐκ ἐγένετ, ἔτ ̓ Αἰακίδα παρὰ Πηλεί
Οὔτε πὰρ ἀντιθέῳ
Κάδμῳ λέγονταί γε μὰν βρότων
For not the brave, or wife, or great,
THE writers who have undertaken the task of reconciling mankind to their present state, and relieving the difcontent produced by the various diftribution of terreftrial advantages, frequently remind us that we judge too haftily of good and evil; that we view only the fuperficies of life, and determine of the whole by a very small part; and that in the condi. tion of men it frequently happens, that grief and anxiety lie hid under the golden robes of profperity, and the gloom of calamity is cheered by fecret radiations of hope and comfort; as in the works of nature the bog is fometimes covered with flowers, and the mine concealed in the barren crags.
None but those who have learned the art of fubjecting their fenfes as well as reafon to hypothetical fyftems, can be perfuaded by the most specious rhetorician
torician that the lots of life are equal; yet it cannot be denied that every one has his peculiar pleasures and vexations, that external accidents operate vari oufly upon different minds, and that no man can exactly judge from his own fenfations, what another would feel in the fame circumstances.
If the general difpofition of things be estimated by the reprefentation which every one makes of his own eftate, the world must be confidered as the abode of forrow and mifery; for how few can forbear to relate their troubles and diftreffes? If we judge by the account which may be obtained of every man's fortune from others, it may be concluded, that we all are placed in an elyfian region, overspread with the luxuriance of plenty, and fanned by the breezes of felicity; fince fcarcely any complaint is uttered without cenfure from thofe that hear it, and almost all are allowed to have obtained a provifion at least adequate to their virtue or their understanding, to poffefs either more than they deferve, or more than they enjoy.
We are either born with fuch diffimilitude of temper and inclination, or receive fo many of our ideas and opinions from the ftate of life in which we are engaged, that the griefs and cares of one part of mankind feem to the other hypocrify, folly, and affectation. Every clafs of fociety has its cant of lamentation, which is understood or regarded by none but themfelves; and every part of life has its uneafineffes, which thofe who do not feel them will not commiferate. An event which fpreads diftraction over half the commercial world, affembles
affembles the trading companies in councils and committees, and fhakes the nerves of a thousand flockjobbers, is read by the landlord and the farmer with frigid indifference. An affair of love, which fills the young breaft with inceffant alternations of hope and fear, and fteals away the night and day from every other pleasure or employment, is regarded by them whofe paffions time has extinguished, as an amusement, which can properly raise neither joy nor forrow, and, though it may be fuffered to fill the vacuity of an idle moment, fhould always give way to prudence or interest.
He that never had any other defire than to fill a cheft with money, or to add another manour to his estate, who never grieved but at a bad mortgage, or entered a company but to make a bargain, would be aftonifhed to hear of beings known among the polite and gay by the denomination of wits. How would he gape with curiofity, or grin with contempt, at the mention of beings who have no wish but to fpeak what was never spoken before; who, if they happen to inherit wealth, often exhaust their patrimonies in treating those who will hear them talk; and if they are poor, neglect opportunities of improving their fortunes, for the pleasure of making others laugh? How flowly would he believe that there are men who would rather lose a legacy than the reputation of a diftich; who think it lefs difgrace to want money than repartee; whom the vexation of having been foiled in a conteft of raillery is fometimes fufficient to deprive of fleep; and who would esteem
it a lighter evil to mifs a profitable bargain by fome accidental delay, than not to have thought of a smart reply till the time of producing it was paft? How little would he fufpect that this child of idleness and frolick enters every affembly with a beating bofom, like a litigant on the day of decifion, and revolves the probability of applause with the anxiety of a confpirator, whofe fate depends upon the next night; and at the hour of retirement he carries home, under a fhow of airy negligence, a heart lacerated with envy, or depreffed with dif appointment; and immures himself in his closet, that he may difencumber his memory at leifure, review the progrefs of the day, ftate with accuracy his lofs or gain of reputation, and examine the causes of his failure or fuccefs?
Yet more remote from common conceptions are the numerous and reftlefs anxieties, by which female happiness is particularly disturbed. A folitary phifopher would imagine ladies born with an exemption from care and forrow, lulled in perpetual quiet, and feasted with unmingled pleasure; for, what can interrupt the content of thofe, upon whom one age has laboured after another to confer honours, and accumulate immunities; thofe to whom rudeness is infamy, and infult is cowardice; whofe eye commands the brave, and whofe fimiles foften the fevere; whom the failor travels to adorn, the foldier bleeds to defend, and the poet wears out life to celebrate; who claim tribute from every art and science, and for whom all who approach them endeavour to multiply delights, without requiring from them any return but willingness to be pleased?
Surely, among these favourites of nature, thus unacquainted with toil and danger, felicity muft have fixed her refidence; they must know only the changes of more vivid or more gentle joys; their life must always move either to the flow or fprightly melody of the lyre of gladness; they can never affemble but to pleasure, or retire but to
Such would be the thoughts of every man who fhould hover at a distance round the world, and know it only by conjecture and fpeculation. But experience will foon difcover how eafily thofe are difgufted who have been made nice by plenty and tender by indulgence. He will foon fee to how many dangers power is expofed which has no other guard than youth and beauty, and how eafily that tranquillity is molefted which can only be foothed with the fongs of flattery. It is impoffible to fupply wants as faft as an idle imagination may be able to form them, or to remove all inconveniencies by which elegance refined into impatience may be offended. None are so hard to please, as those whom fatiety of pleafure makes weary of themselves; nor any fo readily provoked as those who have been always courted with an emulation of civility.
There are indeed fome ftrokes which the envy of fate aims immediately at the fair. The mistress of Catullus wept for her fparrow many centuries ago, and lapdogs will be fometimes fick in the present age. The most fashionable brocade is fubject to ftains; a pinner, the pride of Bruffels, may be torn by a careless washer; a picture may drop from a