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No defire can be formed which riches do not affift to gratify. He that places his happiness in fplendid equipage or numerous dependants, in refined praise or popular acclamations, in the accumulation of curiofities or the revels of luxury, in fplendid edifices or wide plantations, must still, either by birth or acquifition, poffefs riches. They may be confidered as the elemental principles of pleasure, which may be combined with endless diversity; as the effential and neceffary substance, of which only the form is left to be adjusted by choice.
The neceffity of riches being thus apparent, it is not wonderful that almost every mind has been employed in endeavours to acquire them; that multitudes have vied in arts by which life is furnished with accommodations, and which therefore mankind may reasonably be expected to reward.
It had indeed been happy, if this predominant ap. petite had operated only in concurrence with virtue, by influencing none but those who were zealous to deserve what they were eager to poffefs, and had abilities to improve their own fortunes by contributing to the ease or happiness of others. To have riches and to have merit would then have been the fame, and fuccefs might reasonably have been confidered as a proof of excellence.
But we do not find that any of the wishes of men keep a stated proportion to their powers of attain ment. Many envy and defire wealth, who can never procure it by honeft industry or useful knowledge. They therefore turn their eyes about to examine what other methods can be found of gaining that which
none, however impotent or worthlefs, will be content to want.
A little inquiry will difcover that there are nearer ways to profit than through the intricacies of art, or up the steeps of labour; what wifdom and virtue scarcely receive at the clofe of life, as the recompence of long toil and repeated efforts, is brought within the reach of fubtilty and difhonefty by more expe ditious and compendious measures: the wealth of credulity is an open prey to falfehood; and the poffeffions of ignorance and imbecility are easily stolen away by the conveyancès of fecret artifice, or feized" by the gripe of unrefifted violence.
It is likewife not hard to difcover that riches always procure protection for themselves, that they dazzle the eyes of inquiry, divert the celerity of purfuit, or appease the ferocity of vengeance. When any man is incontestably known to have large poffeffions, very few think it requifite to inquire by what practices they were obtained; the refentment of mankind rages only against the struggles of feeble and timorous corruption, but when it has furmounted the firft oppofition, it is afterwards fupported by fa vour, and animated by applause."
The profpect of gaining speedily what is ardently defired, and the certainty of obtaining by every acceffion of advantage an addition of fecurity, have ́ fo far prevailed upon the paffions of mankind, that the peace of life is deftroyed by a general and inceffant struggle for riches. It is obferved of gold, by on old epigrammatift, that to have it is to be in fear, and to want it is to be in forrow. There is no condition which is not difquieted either with the care'' VOL. V. Cc of
of gaining or of keeping money; and the race of man may be divided in a political eftimate between those who are practising fraud, and those who are repelling it.
If we confider the present state of the world, it will be found, that all confidence is loft among mankind, that no man ventures to act, where money can be endangered upon the faith of another. It is impoffible to fee the long fcrolls in which every contract is included, with all their appendages of feals and attestation, without wondering at the depravity of thofe beings, who must be reftrained from violation of promise by fuch formal and publick evidences, and precluded from equivocation and fubterfuge by fuch punctilious minutenefs. Among all the fatires to which folly and wickedness have given occafion, none is equally fevere with a bond or a fettlement.
Of the various arts by which riches may be ob tained, the greater part are at the first view irreconcileable with the laws of virtue; fome are openly flagitious, and practifed not only in neglect, but in defiance of faith and juftice; and the rest are on every fide fo entangled with dubious tendencies, and fo befet with perpetual temptations, that very few, even of those who are not yet abandoned, are able to preserve their innocence, or can produce any other claim to pardon than that they have deviated from the right less than others, and have fooner and more diligently endeavoured to return.
One of the chief characteristicks of the golden age, of the age in which neither care nor danger had intruded on mankind, is the community of poffeffions:
ftrife and fraud were totally excluded, and every tur bulent paffion was ftilled by plenty and equality. Such were indeed happy times, but fuch times can return no more. Community of poffeffion must include spontaneity of production; for what is obtained by labour will be of right the property of him by whofe labour it is gained. And while a rightful claim to pleasure or to affluence must be procured either by flow industry or uncertain hazard, there will always be multitudes whom cowardice or impatience incite to more fafe and more fpeedy methods, who strive to pluck the fruit without cultivating the tree, and to share the advantages of victory without partaking the danger of the battle.
In later ages, the conviction of the danger to which virtue is expofed while the mind continues open to the influence of riches, has determined many to vows of perpetual poverty; they have fuppreffed defire by cutting off the poffibility of gratification, and fecured their peace by deftroying the enemy whom they had no hope of reducing to quiet fubjection. But, by debarring themselves from evil, they have refcinded many opportunities of good; they have too often funk into inactivity and ufeleffness; and, though they have forborne to injure fociety, have not fully paid their contributions to its happinefs.
While riches are fo neceffary to prefent convenience, and fo much more easily obtained by crimes than virtues, the mind can only be fecured from yielding to the continual impulse of covetoufnefs by the preponderation of unchangeable and eternal motives. Gold will turn the intellectual balance, when Cc 2 weighed
weighed only against reputation; but will be light and ineffectual when the oppofite fcale is charged with justice, veracity, and piety.
NUMB. 132. SATURDAY, June 22, 1751.
Turpibus ac pravis omnes fumus.
The mind of mortals in perverfeness strong,
To the RAMBLER.
I WAS bred a scholar, and after the ufual courfe of education, found it neceffary to employ for the fupport of life that learning which I had almost exhausted my little fortune in acquiring. The lucrative profeffions drew my regard with equal attraction; each presented ideas which excited my curiofity, and each impofed duties which terrified my apprehenfion.
There is no temper more unpropitious to intereft than defultory application and unlimited inquiry, by which the defires are held in a perpetual equipoife, and the mind fluctuates between different purposes without determination. I had books of every kind round me, among which I divided my time as caprice or accident directed. I often spent the first hours of the day, in confidering to what study I fhould