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poftponed than virtues, and that greater lofs is fuffered by miffing an opportunity of doing good, than an hour of giddy frolick and noify merri

ment.

When Baxter had loft a thousand pounds, which he had laid up for the erection of a school, he used frequently to mention the misfortune as an incitement to be charitable while GOD gives the power of bestowing, and confidered himself as culpable in fome degree for having left a good action in the hands of chance, and fuffered his benevolence to be defeated for want of quickness and diligence.

It is lamented by Hearne, the learned antiquary of Oxford, that this general forgetfulness of the fragility of life, has remarkably infected the students of monuments and records; as their employment confifts firft in collecting, and afterwards in arranging or abstracting what libraries afford them, they ought to amafs no more than they can digeft; but when they have undertaken a work, they go on. fearching and tranfcribing, call for new fupplies, when they are already overburdened, and at last leave their work unfinished. It is, fays he, the bufinefs of a good antiquary, as of a good man, to have mortality always before him.

Thus, not only in the flumber of sloth, but in the diffipation of ill-directed industry, is the fhortnefs of life generally forgotten. As fome men lofe their hours in lazinefs, because they fuppofe, that there is time enough for the reparation of neglect; others bufy themfelves in providing that no length of life may want employment; and it often hap

pens,

pens, that fluggishness and activity are equally furprised by the last fummons, and perish not more differently from each other, than the fowl that received the shot in her flight, from her that is killed upon the bush.

Among the many improvements made by the last centuries in human knowledge, may be numbered the exact calculations of the value of life; but whatever may be their use in traffick, they feem very little to have advanced morality. They have hitherto been rather applied to the acquifition of money, than of wifdom; the computer refers none of his calculations to his own tenure, but perfifts, in contempt of probability, to foretel old age to himself, and believes that he is marked out to reach the utmost verge of human existence, and fee thousands and ten thoufands fall into the grave.

So deeply is this fallacy rooted in the heart, and fo strongly guarded by hope and fear against the approach of reason, that neither science nor experience can shake it, and we act as if life were without end, though we fee and confefs its uncertainty and fhort-nefs.

Divines have, with great ftrength and ardour, fhewn the abfurdity of delaying reformation and repentance; a degree of folly, indeed, which fets eternity to hazard. It is the fame weakness, in proportion to the importance of the neglect, to tranffer any care, which now claims our attention, to a future time; we fubject ourselves to needlefs dangers from accidents which early diligence would have obviated, or perplex our minds by vain precautions, and make provifion for the execution of defigns, of B 3 which

which the opportunity once opportunity once miffed never will

return.

As he that lives longeft lives but a little while, every man may be certain that he has no time to wafte. The duties of life are commenfurate to its duration, and every day brings its task, which if neglected is doubled on the morrow, But he that has already trifled away thofe months and years, in which he should have laboured, muft remember that he has now only a part of that of which the whole is little; and that fince the few moments remaining are to be confidered as the last truft of heaven, not one is to be loft.

NUMB. 72. SATURDAY, November 24, 1750.

Omnis Ariftippum decuit ftatus, et color, et res,
Tentantem majora, fere prefentibus æquum.

Yet Ariftippus ev'ry drefs became,
In ev'ry various change of life the fame ;
And though he aim'd at things of higher kind,
Yet to the prefent held an equal mind.

To the RAMBLER.

HOR.

I

FRANCIS.

SIR,

THOSE who exalt themselves into the chair of inftruction, without enquiring whether any will fubmit to their authority, have not fufficiently confidered how much of human life paffes in little incidents, curfory converfation, flight bufinefs, and cafual

cafual amusements; and therefore they have endeavoured only to inculcate the more awful virtues, without condefcending to regard those petty qualities, which grow important only by their frequency, and which, though they produce no fingle acts of heroifm, nor aftonish us by great events, yet are every moment exerting their influence upon us, and make the draught of life fweet or bitter by imperceptible inftillations. They operate unfeen and unregarded, as change of air makes us fick or healthy, though we breathe it without attention, and only know the particles that impregnate it by their falutary or malignant effects.

You have fhewn yourself not ignorant of the value of those fubaltern endowments, yet have hitherto neglected to recommend good-humour to the world, though a little reflection will fhew you that it is the balm of being, the quality to which all that adorns or elevates mankind muft owe its power of pleafing. Without good-humour, learning and bravery can only confer that fuperiority which fwells the heart of the lion in the defert, where he roars without reply, and ravages without refiftance. Without goodhumour, virtue may awe by its dignity, and amaze by its brightness; but muft always be viewed at a diftance, and will fcarcely gain a friend or attract an imitator.

Good-humour may be defined a habit of being pleased; a conftant and perennial foftnefs of manner, eafinefs of approach, and fuavity of difpofition; like that which every man perceives in himself, when the first transports of new felicity have fubfided, and his thoughts are only kept in motion by a flow fucB 4

ceffion

ceffion of foft impulfes. Good-humour is a ftate between gaiety and unconcern; the act or emanation of a mind at leifure to regard the gratification of another.

It is imagined by many, that whenever they aspire to please, they are required to be merry, and to fhew the gladness of their fouls by flights of pleasantry, and bursts of laughter.. But though these men may be for a time heard with applause and admiration, they feldom delight us long. We enjoy them a little, and then retire to eafiness and good-humour, as the eye gazes a while on eminences glittering with the fun, but foon turns aching away to verdure and to flowers.

Gaiety is to good-humour as animal perfumes to vegetable fragrance; the one overpowers weak fpirits, and the other recreates and revives them. Gaiety feldom fails to give fome pain; the hearers either strain their faculties to accompany its towerings, or are left behind in envy and despair. Goodhumour boasts no faculties which every one does not believe in his own power, and pleases principally by not offending.

It is well known that the moft certain way to give any man pleasure is to perfuade him that you receive pleasure from him, to encourage him to freedom and confidence, and to avoid any fuch appearance of fuperiority as may overbear and deprefs him. We see many that by this art only spend their days in the midst of careffes, invitations, and civilities; and without any extraordinary qualities or attainments, are the universal favourites of both fexes, and certainly find a friend in every place. The darlings of

the

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