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He could command flatterers in a private station, as well as in his public capacity, and indulge at home every favourite inclination, uncenfured and unfeen by the people.
What real good then does an addition to a fortune, already fufficient, procure? Not any. Could the great man, by having his fortune increased, increase also his appetites, then precedence might be attended with real amufement.
Was he, by having his one thousand made two, thus enabled to enjoy two wives, or eat two dinners, then, indeed, he might be excused for undergoing fome pain, in order to extend the sphere of his enjoyments. But, on the contrary, he finds his defire for pleasure often leffen, as he takes pains to be able to improve it; and his capacity of enjoyment diminishes as his fortune happens to increase.
Inftead, therefore, of regarding the great with envy, I generally confider them with some share of compaffion. I look upon them as a set of good-natured, misguided people, who are indebted to us, and not to themselves, for all the happiness they enjoy. For our pleasure, and not their own, they fweat under a cumbrous heap of finery; for our pleasure, the lacquied train, the flow parading pageant, with all the gravity of grandeur, moves in review; a single coat, or a fingle footman, answers all the purposes of most indolent refinement as well; and those who have twenty, may be faid to keep one for their own pleasure, and the other nineteen merely for ours. So true is the observation of Confucius, that we take greater pains to perfuade others that we are happy, than in endeavouring to think fo ourselves.
But though this defire of being feen, of being made the fubject of difcourfe, and of fupporting the dignities of an exalted station, be troublesome enough to the ambitious, yet it is well for fociety, that there are men thus willing to exchange eafe and fafety for danger and a ribbon. We lofe nothing by their vanity, and it would be unkind to endeavour to deprive a child of his rattle. If a duke or duchefs are willing to carry a long train for our entertainment, fo much the worse for themselves; if they chuse to exhibit in public with an hundred lacquies and mameluks in their equipage for our own entertainment, ftill fo much the worse for themselves; it is the fpectators alone, who give and receive the pleasure, they only, the fweating figures, that fwell the pageant.
A Mandarine, who took much pride in appearing with a number of jewels on every part of his robe, was once accofted by an old fly Bonze, who following him through several streets, and bowing often to the ground, thanked him for his jewels. What does the man mean! cried the Mandarine. Friend, I never gave thee any of my jewels. No, replied the other; but you have let me look at them, and that is all the use you can make of them yourself: so there is no difference between us, except that you have the trouble of watching them, and that is an employment that I do not much defire. Adieu.
FROM THE SAME.
THOUGH not very fond of seeing a pageant myself,
yet I am generally pleased with being in the crowd which fees it; it is amufing to obferve the effect which fuch a fpectacle has upon the variety of faces, the pleasure it excites in fome, the envy in others, and the wishes it raises in all. With this defign I lately went to see the entry of a foreign ambassador, refolved to make one in the mob, to shout as they shouted, to fix with earnestness upon the fame frivolous objects, and participate for a while the pleasures and the wishes of the vulgar.
Struggling here for fome time, in order to be firft to fee the cavalcade as it paffed, fome one of the crowd unluckily happened to tread upon my fhoe, and tore it in such a manner, that I was utterly unqualified to march forward with the main body, and obliged to fall back in the rear. Thus rendered incapable of being a spectator of the show myself, I was at least willing to obferve the fpectators, and limped behind like one of the invalids which follow the march of an army.
In this plight, as I was confidering the eagerness that appeared on every face, how some buftled to get foremost and others contented themselves with taking a transient peep when they could; how fome praised the four black servants that were stuck behind one of the equipages, and fome the ribbons that decorated the horfes necks in another; my attention was called off to an object more extraordinary than any I had yet feen. A poor cobler
fat in his ftall by the way fide, and continued to work while the crowd paffed by, without teftifying the smallest fhare of curiofity. I own, his want of attention excited mine; and as I stood in need of his affiftance, I thought it beft to employ a philofophic cobler on this occasion: perceiving my business, therefore, he defired me to enter and fit down, took my fhoe in his lap, and began to mend it with his ufual indifference and taciturnity.
How, my friend, (faid I to him,) can you continue to work, while all those fine things are paffing by your door?"" Very fine they are, master, (returned the cobler) for those that like them, to be fure; but what are all those fine things to me? You do not know what it is to be a cobler, and fo much the better for yourself. Your bread is baked, you may go and see fights the whole day and eat a warm fupper when you come home at night; but for me, if I should run hunting after all these fine folk, what fhould I get by my journey but an appetite; and, God help me, I have too much of that at home already, without stirring out for it. Your people who may eat four meals a-day and a fupper at night, are but a bad example to such a one as I. No mafter, as God has called me into this world in order to mend old fhoes, I have no business with fine folk, and they no business with me." I here interrupted him with a smile. “See this laft, mafter, continues he, and this hammer; this laft and hammer are the two best friends I have in this world; nobody else will be my friend, because I want a friend. The great folks you faw pafs by juft now have five hundred friends, because they have no occasion for them; now, while I ftick to my good friends here, I am very contented; but when I ever fo little run after fights
and fine things, I begin to hate my work, I grow fad, and have no heart to mend fhoes any longer."
This difcourfe only ferved to raise my curiofity, to know more of a man whom nature had thus formed into a philofopher; I therefore infenfibly led him into an hiftory of his adventures: "I have lived, faid he, a wandering life, now five and fifty years, here to-day and gone to-morrow; for it was my misfortune, when I was young, to be fond of changing." You have been a traveller, then, I prefume, interrupted I. "I cannot boast much of travelling (continued he) for I have never left the parish in which I was born but three times in my life, that I can remember; but then there is not a street in the whole neighbourhood that I have not lived in at fome time or another. When I began to fettle and to take my business in one flreet, fome unforeseen misfortune, or a defire of trying my luck elsewhere, has removed me, perhaps, a whole mile away from my former cuftomers, while fome more lucky cobler would come into my place, and make a handsome fortune among friends of my making; there was one who actually died in a stall that I had left worth feven pounds seven shillings all in hard gold, which he had quilted into the waiftband of his breeches."
I could not but fmile at thefe migrations of a man by the fire-fide, and continued to ask if he had ever been married. Ay, that I have, mafter, (replied he) for fixteen long years; and a weary life I had of it, heaven knows. My wife took it into her head, that the only way to thrive in this world was to save money, so, though our comings-in was but about three shilling a week, all that ever fhe could lay her hands upon, the