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that Heaven which made thee such, and join with me to implore its influence on our tender innocent hours, and beseech the author of love to bless the rites he has ordained, and mingle with our happiness a just sense of our transient condition, and a resignation to his will, which only can regulate our minds to a steady endeavour to please him and each other.
I am, for ever, your faithful servant.” "I will not trouble you with more letters at this time; but if you saw the poor withered hand which sends you these minutes, I am sure you will smile to think that there is one who is so gallant as to speak of it still as so welcome a present, after forty years possession of the woman whom he writes to. “ MADAM,
June 23, 1711. “ I HEARTily beg your pardon for my omission to write yesterday. It was no failure of my tender re• gard for you ; but having been very much perplexed in my thoughts on the subject of my last, made me determine to suspend speaking of it till I came myself. But, my lovely creature, know it is not in the power of age, or misfortune, or any other accident which hangs over human life, to take from me the pleasing esteem I have for you, or the memory of the bright figure you appeared in, when you gave your hand and heart to,
" and obedient servant.”. STEELE'.
1 All the letters in this paper are genuine. By the publication of “The Epistolary Correspondence of Sir Richard Steele,” we find that they were originally written by him, and sent, with but little variation, to Mrs. Scurlock, whom he afterwards married,
N° 143. TUESDAY, AUGUST 14, 1711.
Non est vivere sed valere vita.
MART. Epig. Ixx. I. 6.
To breathe is not to live; but to be well.
It is an unreasonable thing some men expect of their acquaintance. They are ever complaining that they are out of order, or displeased, or they know not how, and are so far from letting that be a reason for retiring to their own homes, that they make it their argument for coming into company. What has any body to do with accounts of a man's being indisposed but his physician? If a man laments in company, where the rest are in humour enough to enjoy themselves, he should not take it ill if a servant is ordered to present him with a porringer of caudle or posset-drink, by way of admonition that he go home to bed. That part of life which we ordinarily understand by the word conversation, is an indulgence to the sociable part of our make; and should incline us to bring our proportion of good-will or good-humour among the friends we meet with, and not to trouble them with relations which must of necessity oblige them to a real or feigned affliction. Cares, distresses, diseases, uneasinesses, and dislikes of our own, are by no means to be obtruded upon our friends. If we would consider how little of this vicissitude of motion and rest, which we call life, is spent with satisfaction, we should be more tender of our friends, than to bring them little sorrows which do not belong to them. There is no real life but cheerful life; therefore valetudinarians should be sworn before they enter into company, not to say a word of themselves till the meeting breaks up. It is not here pretended, that we should be always sitting with chaplets of flowers round our heads, or be crowned with roses, in order to make our entertainment agreeable to us; but if (as it is usually observed) they who resolve to be merry, seldom are so; it will be much more unlikely for us to be wellpleased, if they are admitted who are always complaining they are sad. Whatever we do, we should keep up the cheerfulness of our spirits, and never let them sink below an inclination at least to be wellpleased. The way to this, is to keep our bodies in exercise, our minds at ease. That insipid state wherein neither are in vigour, is not to be accounted any part of our portion of being. When we are in the satisfaction of some innocent pleasure, or pursuit of some laudable design, we are in the possession of life, of human life. Fortune will give us disappointments enough, and nature is attended with infirmities enough, without our adding to the unhappy side of our account by our spleen or ill-humour. Poor Cottilus', among so many real evils, a chronical distemper and a narrow fortune, is never heard to complain. That equal spirit of his, which any man may have, that, like him, will conquer pride, vanity and affectation, and follow nature, is not to be broken, because it has no points to contend for. To be anxious for nothing but what nature demands as necessary, if it is not the way to an estate, is the way to
"Probably Mr. Hen. Martyn, who resided at Blackheath, and of whom some account will be found in Ward's Lives of the Gresham Professors. See N° 181 and 555.
what men aim at by getting an estate. This temper will preserve health in the body, as well as tranquillity in the mind. Cottilus sees the world in an hurry, with the same scorn that a sober person sees a man drunk. Had he been contented with what he ought to have been, how could, says he, such a one have met with such a disappointment ? If another had valued his mistress for what he ought to have loved her, he had not been in her power. If her virtue had had a part of his passion, her levity had been his cure : she could not then have been false and amiable at the same time.
Since we cannot promise ourselves constant health, let us endeavour at such a temper as may be our best support in the decay of it. Uranius ' has arrived at that composure of soul, and wrought himself up to such a neglect of every thing with which the generality of mankind is inchanted, that nothing but acute pains can give him disturbance, and against those too he will tell his intimate friends he has a secret which gives him present ease. Uranius is so thoroughly persuaded of another life, and endeavours so sincerely to secure an interest in it, that he looks upon pain but as a quickening of his pace to an home, where he shall be better provided for than in his present apartment. Instead of the melancholy views which others are apt to give themselves, he will tell you that he has forgot he is mortal, nor will he think of himself as such. He thinks at the time of his birth he entered into an eternal being; and the short article of death he will not allow an interruption of life; since that moment is not of half the duration as is his ordinary sleep. Thus is his being one uniform
2 Supposed to be Mr. Hughes.
and consistent series of cheerful diversions and moderate cares, without fear or hope of futurity. Health to him is more than pleasure to another man, and sickness less affecting to him than indisposition is to others.
I must confess, if one does not regard life after this manner, none but idiots can pass it away with any tolerable patience. Take a fine lady who is of a delicate frame, and you may observe, from the hour she rises, a certain weariness of all that passes about her. I know more than one who is much too nice to be quite alive. They are sick of such strange frightful people that they meet; one is so aukward, and another so disagreeable, that it looks like a penance to breathe the same air with them. You see this is so very true, that a great part of ceremony and good-breeding among the ladies turns upon their uneasiness; and I will undertake, if the how-do-yeservants of our women were to make a weekly bill of sickness, as the parish-clerks do of mortality, you would not find, in an account of seven days, one in thirty that was not downright sick or indisposed, or but a very little better than she was, and so forth.
It is certain, that to enjoy life and health as a constant feast, we should not think pleasure necessary, but if possible, to arrive at an equality of mind. It is as mean to be overjoyed upon occasions of good fortune, as to be dejected in circumstances of distress. Laughter in one condition, is as unmanly as weeping in the other. We should not form our minds to expect transport on every occasion, but know how to make it enjoyment to be out of pain. Ambition, envy, vagrant desire, or impertinent mirth, will take up our minds, without we can possess ourselves in that sobriety of heart which is above all pleasures,