페이지 이미지

they borrow, will always want money when they should come to pay. To say the truth, sir, money is money now; and I believe it is all sunk in the bottom of the sea, for my part; he that has got a lillle, is a fool if he does not keep what he has got.'

Not quite disconcerted by this refusal, our adventurer was resolved to apply to another, who he knew was the very best friend he had in the world. The gentleman whom he now addressed, received his proposal with all the affability that could be expected from generous friendship. 'Let me see ; you want a hundred guineas; and pray, dear Jack, would not fifty answer i'- If you have but fifty to spare, sir, I must be contented.'— Fifty to spare! I do not say that, for I believe I have but twenty about me.' Then I must borrow the other thirty from some other friend.'-Apd pray,' replied the friend, ' would it not be the best way to borrow the whole money from that other friend, and then one note will serve for all, you know? You know, my. dear sir, that you need make no ceremony with me at any time; you know I'm your friend; and when you chuse a bit of dinner or so-You, Tom, see the gentleman down. You won't forget to dine with us now and then. Your very humble servant.'

Distressed, but not discouraged, at this treatment, he was at last resolved to find that assistance from love, which he could not have from friendsbip. A; young lady, a distant relation by the mother's side, had a fortune in her own hands; and, as she had already made all the advances that her sex's modesty would permit, he made his proposal with confidence. He soon, however, perceived that vo bankrupt ever found the fair one kind. Sbe had lately fallen deeply in love with another, who had more money, and the whole neighbourhood thought it would be a match. Every day now began to strip, my poor friend of


his former finery; his clothes flew, piece by piece, to the pawnbroker's, and he seemed at length equipped in the genuine livery of misfortune. But still he thought hinself secure from actual peces. sity; the pumberless invitations he had received to dine, even after his losses, were yet unanswered; he was therefore now resolved to accept of a dirner, because he wanted one; and in this manner he actually lived among his friends a whole week without being openly affronted. The last place I saw him in was at a reverend divine's. He had, as he fancied, just nicked the time of dinner, for he came in as the cloth was laying. He took a chair without being desired, and talked for some time without being attended to. He assured the company, that nothing procured so good an appetite as a walk in the Park, where he had been that morning. He went on, and praised the figure of the damask tableeloth; talked of a feast where he had been the day before, but that the venison was over-done. But all this procured him no invitation: fipding, therefore, the gentleman of the house insensible to all his fetches, he thought proper, at last, to retire, and mend his appetite by a second walk in the Park. • You then, Oye beggars of my acquaintance, whether in rags or lace, whether in Kent-street or the Mall, whether at the Smyrna or St. Giles's, inight I be permitted to advise as a friend, never seern to want the favour which you solicit. Apply to every passion but hunian pity for redress: you may find permanent relief from vanity, from self. interest, or from avarice, but from compassion

The very eloquence of a poor man is diś. gusting; and that mouth which is opened even by wisdom, is seldom expected to close without the horrors of a petition.

To'ward off the gripe of Poverty, you must pretend to be a stranger to her, and she will at least use you with ceremony, If you be caught dining upon a halfpenny porrenger of peas-soup and po


tatoes, praise the wholesomeness of your frugal repast. You may observe that Dr. Cheyne has

pre. scribed peas-broth for the gravel; hint that

you are not one of those who are always making a deity of your belly. If, again, you are obliged to wear a flimsy stuff in the midst of winter, be the first to remark, that stuffs are very much worn at Paris; or, if there be found some irreparable defects in any part of your equipage, which cannot be concealed by all the arts of sitting cross-legged, coaxing, or darning, say, that neither you por sir Samson Gideon were ever very fond of dress. If you be a philosopher, hint that Plato or Seneca are the tailors you choose to employ; assure the company that man ought to be content with a bare covering, since what now is so much his pride, was formerly his shame. In short, however caught, never give out; but ascribe to the frugality of your disposition what others might be apt to attribute to the narrowness of your circumstances. To be poor, and to seem poor, is a certain method never to rise : pride in the great is hateful; in the wise it is ridiculous; but beggarly pride is a rational vanity which I have been taught to applaud and excuse.


LYSIPPUS is a man whose greatness of soul the

whole world admires. His generosity is such, that it prevents a demand, and saves the receiver the confusion of'a request. His liberality also does not oblige more by its greatness, than by his inimit. able grace in giving. Sometimes he even distributes his bounties to strangers, and has been known to do good offices to those who professed themselves his enemies. All the world are unanimous in the praise of his generosity; there is only one sort of people who complain of his conduct. Lysippus does not pay his debts.

It is no difficult matter to account for a conduct so seemingly incompatible with itself. There is greatness in being generous, and there is only simple justice in satisfying creditors. Generosity is the part of a soul raised above the vulgar. There is in it something of what we admire in heroes, and praise with a degree of rapture. Justice, on the contrary, is a mere mechanic virtue, only fit for tradesmen, and what is practised by every broker in Change-alley.

In paying his debts a man barely does his duty, and it is an action attended with no sort of glory. Should Lysippus satisfy his creditors, who would be at the pains of telling it to the world? Generosity is a virtue of a very different complexion. It is raised above duty, and, from its elevation, attracts the attention and the praises of us little mortals below.

In this manner do men generally reason upon justice and generosity. The first is despised, though a virtue essential to the good of society, and the other attracts our esteem, which too frequently proceeds from an impetuosity of temper, rather directed by vanity than reason, Lysippus is told that his banker asks a debt of forty pounds, and that a distressed acquaiutance petitions for the same sum. He gives it without hesitating to the latter, for he demands as a favour what the former requires as a debt.

Mankind in general are not sufficiently acquainted with the import of the word justice: it is commonly believed to consist only in a performance of those duties to which the laws of society can oblige us. This I allow is sometimes the import of the word, and in this sense justice is distinguished from equity; but there is a justice still more exten. sive, and which can be shown to embrace all the virtues united.

Justice may be defined, that virtue which impels us to give to every person what is his due. In this extended sense of the word, it comprehends the practice of every virtue which reason prescribes, or society should expect. Our duty to our Maker, to each other, and to ourselves, are fally answered, if we give them what we owe them. Thus justice, properly speaking, is the only virtue : and all the rest have their origin in it.

The qualities of candour, fortitude, charity, and generosity, for instance, are not in their own nature virtues; and, if ever they deserve the title, it is owing only to justice, which impels and directs them. Without such a moderator, candour might become indiscretion, fortitude obstinacy, charity imprudence, and generosity mistaken profusion.

A disinterested action, if it be not conducted by justice, is, at best, indifferent in its nature, and not unfrequently even turns to vice. The expenses of society, of presents, of entertainments, and the other helps to cheerfulness, are actions merely indiffer. ent, when not repugnant to a better method of disposing of our saperfiuities; but they become vi. cious when they obstruct or exhaust our abilities from a more virtuous disposition of our circum. stances.

True generosity is a duty as indispensably neces. sary as those imposed upon us by law. It is a rule imposed on us by reason, which should be the sovereign law of a rational being. But this genero. sity does not consist in obeying every impulse of humanity, in following blind passion for our guide, and impairing our circumstances by present benefactions, so as to render us incapable of future


Misers are generally characterised as men without

« 이전계속 »