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of that divine philosopher. It has been observed by many writers, that Socrates was so little moved at this piece of buffoonery, that he was several times present at its being acted upon the stage, and never expressed the least resentment of it. But with submission, I think the remark I have here made shows us, that this unworthy treatment made an impression upon his mind, though he had been too wise to discover it.
For my own part, I would never trust a man that I thought was capable of giving these secret wounds; and cannot but think that he would hurt the person, whose reputation he thus assaults, in his body or in his fortune, could he do it with the same security. There is indeed something very barbarous and inhuman in the ordinary scribblers of lampoons. An innocent young lady shall be exposed for an unhappy feature : a father of a family turned to ridicule for some domestic calamity : a wife be made uneasy all her life for a misinterpreted word or action : nay, a good, a temperate, and a just man shall be put out of countenance by the representation of those qualities that should do him honour :-so pernicious a thing is wit, when it is not tempered with virtue and humanity.
I have indeed heard of heedless inconsiderate writers, that without any malice have sacrificed the reputation of their friends and acquaintance to a certain levity of temper, and a silly ambition of distinguishing themselves by a spirit of raillery and satire : as if it were not infinitely more honourable to be a good-natured man than a wit. Where there is this little petulant humour in an author, he is often very mischievous without designing to be so. For which reason I always lay it down as a rule, than an indiscreet man is more hurtful than an ill-natured one; for as the one will only attack his enemies and those he wishes ill to, the other injures indifferently both friends and foes.
As this week is in a manner set apart and dedicated to serious thoughts, I shall indulge myself in such speculations as may not be altogether unsuitable to the season; and in the mean time, as the settling in ourselves a charitable frame of mind is a work very proper for the time, I have in this paper endeavoured to expose that particular breach of charity which has been generally overlooked by divines, because they are but few who can be guilty of it.
THURSDAY, March 29, 1711.
The fear of death often proves mortal, and sets people on methods to save their lives, which infallibly destroy them. This is a reflection made by some historians, upon observing that there are many more thousands killed in a flight than in a battle ; and may be applied to those inultitudes of imaginary sick persons that break their constitutions by physic, and throw themselves into the arms of death, by endeavouring to escape it. This method is not only dangerous, but below the practice of a reasonable creature. To consult the preservation of life, as the only end of it ; to make our health our business; to engage in no action that is not part of a regimen, or course of physic; are purposes so abject, so mean, so unworthy human nature, that a generous soul would rather die than submit to them. Besides, that a continual anxiety for life vitiates all the relishes of it, and casts a gloom over the whole face of nature; as it is impossible we should take delight in any thing that we are every moment afraid of losing.
* The week before Easter.
I do not mean, by what I have here said, that I think any one to blame for taking due care of their health. On the contrary, as cheerfulness of mind and capacity for business are in a great measure the effects of a welltempered constitution, a man cannot be at too much pains to cultivate and preserve it. But this care, which we are prompted to, not only by common sense, but by duty and instinct, should never engage us in groundless fears, melancholy apprehensions, and imaginary distempers, which are natural to every man who is more anxious to live than how to live. In short, the preservation of life should be only a secondary concern, and the direction of it our principal. If we have this frame of mind, we shall take the best means to preserve life, without being over solicitous about the event; and shall arrive at that point of felicity which Martial has mentioned as the perfection of happiness, of neither fearing nor wishing for death.
In answer to the gentleman, who tempers his health by ounces and by scruples, and instead of complying with those natural solicitations of hunger and thirst, drowsiness or love of exercise, governs himself by the prescriptions of his chair, I shall tell him a short fable. Jupiter, says the mythologist, to reward the piety of a certain countryman, promised to give him whatever he would ask. The countryman desired that he might have the management of the weather in his own estate. He obtained his request; and immediately distributed rain, snow, and sunshine among his several fields, as he thought the nature of the soil required. At the end of the year, when he expected to see a more than ordinary crop, his harvest fell infinitely short of that of his neighbours. Upon which (says the fable) he desired Jupiter to take the weather again into his own hands, or that otherwise he should utterly ruin himself.
SATURDAY, March 31, 1711.
THERE is scarce a thinking man in the world, who is involved in the business of it, but lives under a secret impatience of the hurry and fatigue he suffers, and has formed a resolution to fix himself, one time or other, in such a state as is suitable to the end of his being. You hear men every day in conversation profess that all the honour, power, and riches, which they propose to themselves, cannot give satisfaction enough to reward them for half the anxiety they undergo in the pursuit or possession of them. While men are in this temper (which happens very frequently), how inconsistent are they with themselves? They are wearied with the toil they bear, but cannot find in their hearts to relinquish it; retirement is what they want, but they cannot betake themselves to it. While they pant after shade and covert, they still affect to appear in the most glittering scenes of life. But sure this is but just as reasonable as if a man should call for more lights, when he has a mind to go to sleep.
Since then it is certain that our own hearts deceive us in the love of the world, and that we cannot command ourselves enough to resign it, though we every day wish ourselves disengaged from its allurements; let us not stand upon a formal taking of leave, but wean ourselves from them while we are in the midst of them.
It is certainly the general intention of the greater part of mankind to accomplish this work, and live according to their own approbation, as soon as they possibly can. But since the duration of life is so uncertain, and that has been a common topic of discourse ever since there was such a thing as life itself, how is it possible that we should defer a moment the beginning to live according to the rules of reason ?
The man of business has ever some one point to carry, and then he tells himself he will bid adieu to all the vanity of ambition,
but the ambitious man is entangled every moment in a fresh pursuit, and the lover sees new charms in the object he