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very witty upon my choice, which he affected to talk of with great indifferency. I gave over thinking of him, being told that he was engaged with a pretty woman and a great fortune; it vexed me a little, but not enough to make me neglect the advice of my cousin Wishwell, that came to see me the day my lord went into the country with Russel: she told me experimentally, nothing put an unfaithful lover and a dear husband so soon out of one's head as a new one; and, at the same time, proposed to me a kinsman of hers. "You understand enough of the world," said she, "to know money is the most valuable consideration; he is very rich, and I am sure cannot live long; he has a cough that must carry him off soon." I knew afterwards she had given the self-same character of me to him; but however I was so much persuaded by her, I hastened on the match for fear he should die before the time came; he had the same fears, and was so pressing, I married him in a fortnight, resolving to keep it private a fortnight longer. During this fortnight Mr. Waitfort came to make me a visit; he told me he had waited on me sooner, but had that respect for me, he would not interrupt me in the first day of my affliction for my dead lord; that, as soon as he heard I was at liberty to make another choice, he had broke off a match very advantageous for his fortune, just upon the point of conclusion, and was forty times more in love with me than ever. I never received more pleasure in my life than from this declaration but I composed my face to a grave air, and said the news of his engagement had touched me to the heart, that in a rash jealous fit I had married a man I could never have thought on, if I had not lost all hopes of him. Good-natured Mr. Waitfort had like to have dropped down dead at hearing of this, but went from me with such an air as plainly shewed me he laid all the blame upon himself, and hated those friends that had advised him to the fatal application; he seemed as much touched by my misfortune as his own, for he had not the least doubt I was still passionately in love with him. The truth of this story is, my new husband gave me reason to repent I had not staid for him; he had married me for my money, and I soon found he loved money to distraction; there was nothing he would not do to get it; nothing he would not suffer to preserve it; the
smallest expence kept him awake whole nights; and when he paid a bill, it was with as many sighs, and after as many delays, as a man that endures the loss of a limb. I heard nothing but reproofs for extravagancy whatever I did. I saw very well that he would have starved me, but for losing my jointures; and he suffered agonies between the grief of seeing me have so good a stomach, and the fear that, if he made me fast, it might prejudice my health. I did not doubt he would have broke my heart, if I did not break his, which was allowable by the law of self-defence. The way was very easy. I resolved to spend as much money as I could; and, before he was aware of the stroke, appeared before him in a two thousand pounds diamond necklace: he said nothing, but went quietly to his chamber, and, as it is thought, composed himself with a dose of opium. I behaved myself so well upon the occasion, that to this day I believe he died of an apoplexy. Mr. Waitfort was resolved not to be too late this time, and I heard from him in two days. I am almost out of my weeds at this present writing, and very doubtful whether I will marry him or no. I do not think of a seventh, for the ridiculous reason you mention, but out of pure morality, that I think so much constancy should be rewarded, though I may not do it after all perhaps. I do not believe all the unreasonable malice of mankind can give a pretence why I should have been constant to the memory of any of the deceased, or have spent much time in grieving for an insolent, insignificant, negligent, extravagant, splenetic, or covetous husband; my first insulted me, my second was nothing to me, my third disgusted me, the fourth would have ruined me, the fifth tormented me, and the sixth would have starved me. If the other ladies you name would thus give in their husbands' pictures at length, you would see they have had as little reason as myself to lose their hours in weeping and wailing.'
No. 574. FRIDAY, JULY 30, 1714.
Non possidentem multa vocaveris
Muneribus sapienter uti,
HOR. Od. ix. 1. 4. ver. 45.
Believe not those that lands possess,
But rather those that know
WAS once engaged in discourse with a Rosicrucian about the great secret.' As this kind of men (I mean those of them who are not professed cheats) are overrun with enthusiasm and philosophy, it was very amusing to hear this religious adept descanting on his pretended discovery. He talked of the secret as of a spirit which lived within an emerald, and converted every thing that was near it to the highest perfection it was capable of. • It gives a lustre,' says he, to the sun, and water to the diamond. It irradiates every metal, and enriches lead with all the properties of gold. It heightens smoke into flame, flame into light, and light into glory.' He further added, that a single ray of it dissipates pain, and care, and melancholy, from the person on whom it falls. short,' says he, its presence naturally changes every place into a kind of heaven.' After he had gone on for some time in this unintelligible cant, I found that he jumbled natural and moral ideas together into the same discourse, and that his great secret was nothing else but Content.
This virtue does indeed produce, in some measure, all those effects which the alchymist usually ascribes to what he calls the philosopher's stone; and if it does not bring
riches, it does the same thing, by banishing the desire of them. If it cannot remove the disquietudes arising out of a man's mind, body, or fortune, it makes him easy under them. It has indeed a kindly influence on the soul of man, in respect of every being to whom he stands related. It extinguishes all murmur, repining, and ingra titude, towards that Being who has allotted him his part to act in this world. It destroys all inordinate ambition, and every tendency to corruption with regard to the community wherein he is placed. It gives sweetness to his conversation, and a perpetual serenity to all his thoughts.
Among the many methods which might be made use of for the acquiring of this virtue, I shall only mention the two following. First of all, a man should always consider how much he has more than he wants: and secondly, how much more unhappy he might be than he really is.
First of all, a man should always consider how much more he has than he wants. I am wonderfully pleased with the reply which Aristippus made to one who condoled him upon the loss of a farm: Why,' said he, I have three farms still, and you have but one; so that I ought rather to be afflicted for you than you for me.' On the contrary, foolish men are more apt to consider what they have lost than what they possess; and to fix their eyes upon those who are richer than themselves, rather than on those who are under greater difficulties. All the real pleasures and conveniencies of life lie in a narrow compass; but it is the humour of mankind to be always looking forward, and straining after one who has got the start of them in wealth and honour. For this reason, as there are none can be properly called rich who have not more than they want, there are few rich men in any of the politer nations but among the middle sort of people, who keep their wishes always within their fortunes, and have more wealth than they know how to enjoy. Persons of a higher rank live at best in a kind of splendid poverty, and are perpetually wanting; because, instead of acquiescing in the solid pleasures of life, they endeavour to outvie one another in shadows and appearances. Men of sense have at all times beheld with a great deal of mirth this silly game that is continually playing over their heads, and, by contract
ing their desires, enjoy all that secret satisfaction which others are always in quest of. The truth is, this ridiculous chace after imaginary pleasures cannot be sufficiently exposed, as it is the great source of those evils which generally undo a nation. Let a man's estate be what it will, he is a poor man if he does not live within it, and naturally sets himself to sale to any one that can give him his price. When Pittacus, after the death of his brother, who had left him a good estate, was offered a great sum of money by the king of Lydia, he thanked him for his kindness, but told him he had already more by half than he knew what to do with. In short, content is equivalent to wealth, and luxury to poverty; or, to give the thought a more agreeable turn, Content is natural wealth,' says Socrates; to which I shall add,
Luxury is artificial poverty.' I shall therefore recommend to the consideration of those who are always aiming after superfluous and imaginary enjoyments, and will not be at the trouble of contracting their desires, an excellent saying of Bion the philosopher; namely, that no man has so much care as he who endeavours after the most happiness.'
In the second place, every one ought to reflect how much more unhappy he might be than he really is. The former consideration took in all those who are sufficiently provided with the means to make themselves easy; this regards such as actually lie under some pressure or misfortune. These may receive great alleviation from such a comparison as the unhappy person may make between himself and others, or between the misfortunes which he suffers, and greater misfortunes which might have befallen him.
I like the story of the honest Dutchman, who, upon breaking his leg by a fall from the mainmast, told the standers-by, it was a great mercy that it was not his neck. To which, since I am got into quotations, give me leave to add the saying of an old philosopher, who, after having invited some of his friends to dine with him, was ruffled by his wife that came into the room in a passion, and threw down the table that stood before them: Every one,' says he, has his calamity, and he is a hap-. py man that has no greater than this.' We find an instance to the same purpose in the life of Doctor Ham