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frequents them, nor can the master be sure of having what was begun, finished at the convenient time.
An habit of frugality among the lower orders of mankind is much more beneficial to society than the unreflecting might imagine. The pawnbroker, the attorney, and other pests of society, might, by proper management, be turned into serviceable members; and, were their trades abolished, it is possible the same avarice that conducts the one, or the same chicanery that characterizes, the other, might, by proper regulations, be converted into frugality and commendable prudence.
But some who have made the eulogium of luxury, have represented it as the natural consequence of every country that is become rich. Did we not employ our extraordinary wealth in superfluities, say they, what other means would there be to employ it in? To which it may be answered, if frugality were established in the state, if our expenses were laid out rather in the necessaries than the superfluities of life, there might be fewer wants, and even fewer pleasures, but infinitely more happiness. The rich and the great would be better able to satisfy their creditors; they would be better able to marry their children, and, instead of one marriage at present, there might be two, if such regulations took place.
The imaginary calls of vanity, which, in reality, contribute nothing to our real felicity, would not then be attended to, while the real calls of Nature might be always and universally supplied. The difference of employment in the subject is what, in reality, produces the good of society. If the subject be engaged in providing only the luxuries, the necessaries must be deficient in proportion. If neglecting the produce of our own country, our minds are set upon the productions of another, we increase our wants, but not our means; and every new imported
delicacy for our tables, or ornament in our equipage, is a tax upon the poor.
The true interest of every government is to cultivate the necessaries, by which is always meant every happiness our own country can produce; and suppress all the luxuries, by which is meant, on the other hand, every happiness imported from abroad. Commerce has therefore its bounds; and every new import instead of receiving encouragement, should be first examined whether it be conducive to the interest of society.
Among the many publications with which the press is every day burdened, I have often wondered why we never had, as in other countries, an Economical Journal, which might at once direct to all the useful discoveries in other countries, and spread those of our own. As other journals serve to amuse the learned, or, what is more often the case, to make them quarrel, while they only serve to give us the history of the mischievous world, for so I call our warriors; or the idle world, for so may the learned be called; they never trouble their heads about the most useful part of mankind, our peasants and our artisans; were such a work carried into execution with proper management and just direction, it might serve as a repository for every useful improvement, and increase that knowledge which learning often serves to confound.
Sweden seems the only country where the science of economy seems to have fixed its empire. In other countries, it is cultivated only by a few admirers, or by societies which have not received sufficient sanction to become completely useful; but here there is founded a royal academy, destined to this purpose only, composed of the most learned and powerful members of the state; an academy which declines every thing which only terminates in amusement,
erudition, or curiosity; and admits only of observations tending to illustrate husbandry, agriculture, and every real physical improvement. In this country nothing is left to private rapacity, but every improvement is immediately diffused, and its inventor immediately recompensed by the state. Happy were it so in other countries; by this means every impostor would be prevented from ruining or deceiving the publick with pretended discoveries or nostrums, and every real inventor would not, by this means, suffer the inconveniences of suspicion.
In short, the economy, equally unknown to the prodigal and avaricious, seems to be a just mean between both extremes; and to a transgression of this at present decried virtue it is that we are to attribute a great part of the evils which infest society. A taste for superfluity, amusement, and pleasure bring effeminacy, idleness, and expense in their train. But a thirst of riches is always proportioned to our debauchery, and the greatest prodigal is too frequently found to be the greatest miser; so that the vices which seem the most opposite, are frequently found to produce each other; and, to avoid both, it is only necessary to be frugal.
Virtus est medium vitiorum et utrinque reductum.
SCARCELY a day passes in which we do not hear compliments paid to Dryden, Pope, and other writers of the last age, while not a month comes forward that is not loaded with invective against the
writers of this. Strange, that our critics should be fond of giving their favours to those who are insensible of the obligation, and their dislike to those who of all mankind are most apt to retaliate the injury.
Even though our present writers had not equal merit with their predecessors, it would be politic to use them with ceremony. Every compliment paid them would be more agreeable, in proportion as they least deserved it. Tell a lady with an handsome face that she is pretty, she only thinks it her due; it is what she has heard a thousand times before from others, and disregards the compliment: but assure a lady, the cut of whose visage is something more plain, that she looks killing to-day, she instantly bridles up and feels the force of the well-timed flattery the whole day after. Compliments, which we think are deserved, we accept only as debts with indifference; but those which conscience informs us we do not merit, we receive with the same gratitude that we do favours given away.
Our gentlemen, however, who preside at the distribution of literary fame, seem resolved to part with praise neither from motives of justice, nor generosity; one would think, when they take pen in hand, that it was only to blot reputations, and to put their seals to the pacquet which consigns every new-born effort to oblivion.
Yet, notwithstanding the republic of letters hangs at present so feebly together; though those friendships which once promoted literary fame seem now to be discontinued; though every writer who now draws the quill seems to aim at profit, as well as applause, many among them are probably laying in stores for immortality, and are provided with a sufficient stock of reputation to last the whole journey.
As I was indulging these reflections, in order to eke out the present page, I could not avoid pursu
ing the metaphor of going a journey in my imagination, and formed the following Reverie too wild for allegory, and too regular for a dream.
I fancied myself placed in the yard of a large inn, in which there were an infinite number of waggons and stage-coaches, attended by fellows who either invited the company to take their places, or were busied in packing their baggage. Each vehicle had its inscription shewing the place of its destination. On one I could read, The pleasure stage-coach; on another, The waggon of industry; on a third, The vanity whim; and on a fourth, The landau of riches. I had some inclination to step into each of these, one after another; but, I know not by what means, I passed them by, and at last fixed my eye upon a small carriage, Berlin fashion, which seemed the most convenient vehicle at a distance in the world; and, upon my nearer approach, found it to be The Fame machine.
I instantly made up to the coachman, whom I found to be an affable and seemingly good-natured fellow. He informed me, that he had but a few days ago returned from the temple of fame, to which he had been carrying Addison, Swift, Pope, Steele, Congreve, and Colley Cibber. That they made but indifferent company by the way, and that he once or twice was going to empty his berlin of the whole cargo: however, says he, I got them all safe home, with no other damage than a black eye, which Colley gave Mr. Pope, and am now returned for another coachful. "If that be all, friend," said I, "and if you are in want of company, I'll make one "with all my heart. Open the door; I hope the "machine rides easy." "Oh! for that, sir, extremely
easy." But still keeping the door shut, and measuring me with his eye, "Pray, Sir, have you no luggage? You seem to be a good-natured sort of "a gentleman; but I don't find you have got any