Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

ment which the practice of physic finds prescription. I have heard of a port among us. Well-constituted governments who serves as a knight of the post und have always made the profession of a one of these operators, and, though he w physician both honourable and advanta- never sick in his life, has been cured of geous. Homer's Machaon and Virgil's the diseases in the Dispensary. These a Ïapsis were men of renown, heroes in war, the men whose sagacity has invented eli and made at least as much havoc among irs of all sorts, pills, and lozenges, and ta their enemies as among their friends. it as an affront if you come to them befo Those who have little or no faith in the you are given over by every body el abilities of a quack, will apply themselves Their medicines are infallible, and nev to him, either because he is willing to sell fail of success-that is, of enriching the do health at a reasonable profit, or because the tor, and setting the patient effectually at re patient, like a drowning man, catches at I lately dropt into a coffee-house every twig, and hopes for relief from the Westminster, where I found the room hu most ignorant, when the most able physi- round with ornaments of this nature. The cians give him none. Though imprudence were elixirs, tinctures, the Anodyne Fot and many words are as necessary to these English pills, electuaries, and, in short, mo itinerary Galens, as a laced hat to a merry-remedies than I believe there are disease Andrew, yet they would turn very little to the advantage of the owner, if there were not some inward disposition in the sick man to favour the pretensions of the mountebank. Love of life in the one, and of money in the other, creates a good correspondence between them.

At the sight of so many inventions, I cou not but imagine myself in a kind of arsen or magazine where store of arms was r posited against any sudden invasion. Shou you be attacked by the enemy sideway here was an infallible piece of defensiv armour to cure the pleurisy: should a di 'There is scarce a city in Great Britain temper beat up your head-quarters, her but has one of this tribe, who takes it into you might purchase an impenetrable he his protection, and on the market-day ha- met: or, in the language of the artist, rangues the good people of the place with cephalic tincture; if your main body be a aphorisms and receipts. You may depend saulted, here are various kinds of armou upon it he comes not there for his own pri- in case of various onsets. I began to con vate interest, but out of a particular affec- gratulate the present age upon the happ tion to the town. I remember one of these ness men might reasonably hope for in life public-spirited artists at Hammersmith, when death was thus in a manner defeated who told his audience, that he had been and when pain itself would be of so shor born and bred there; and that, having a a duration, that it would but just serve t special regard for the place of his nativity, enhance the value of pleasure. While he was determined to make a present of was in these thoughts, I unluckily called t five shillings to as many as would accept mind a story of an ingenious gentleman of of it. The whole crowd stood agape, and the last age, who, lying violently afflicted ready to take the doctor at his word; when with the gout, a person came and offere putting his hand into a long bag, as every his services to cure him by a method which one was expecting his crown-piece, he he assured him was infallible; the servan drew out a handful of little packets, each who received the message carried it up t of which he informed the spectators was his master, who, inquiring whether th constantly sold at five shillings and six-person came on foot or in a chariot, an pence, but that he would bate the odd five shillings to every inhabitant of that place: the whole assembly immediately closed with this generous offer, and took off all his physic, after the doctor had made them vouch for one another, that there were no foreigners among them, but that they were all Hammersmith men.

being informed that he was on foot: "Go, says he, "send the knave about his busi ness: was his method as infallible as h pretends, he would long before now hav been in his coach and six." In like manne I conclude that, had all these advertiser arrived to that skill they pretend to, the would have had no need for so many year There is another branch of pretenders to successively to publish to the world the this art, who, without either horse or pickle- place of their abode, and the virtues of herring, lie snug in a garret, and send down their medicines. One of these gentlemen notice to the world of their extraordinary indeed pretends to an effectual cure for parts and abilities by printed bills and ad- leanness: what effects it may have upon vertisements. These seem to have derived those who have tried it I cannot tell; but their custom from an eastern nation which am credibly informed, that the call for it Herodotus speaks of, among whom it was has been so great, that it has effectually a law, that, whenever any cure was per-cured the doctor himself of that distemper. formed, both the method of the cure, and an account of the distemper, should be fixed in some public place; but, as customs will corrupt, these our moderns provide themselves of persons to attest the cure before they publish or make an experiment of the

Could each of them produce so good an instance of the success of his medicines, they might soon persuade the world into an opi nion of them.

I observe that most of the bills agree in one expression, viz. that "with God's bless

ing" they perform such and such cures: | husband I was married to at fourteen, by my uncle and guardian, (as I afterwards discovered,) by way of sale, for the third part of my fortune. This fellow looked upon me as a mere child he might breed up after his own fancy: if he kissed my chambermaid before my face, I was supposed so ignorant, how could I think there was any hurt in it? When he came home roaring drunk at five in the morning, it was the custom of all men that live in the world. I was not to see a penny of money, for, poor

this expression is certainly very proper and emphatical, for that is all they have for it. And if ever a cure is performed on a patient where they are concerned, they can claim no greater share in it than Virgil's Iapis in the curing of Æneas; he tried his skill, was very assiduous about the wound, and indeed was the only visible means that relieved the hero; but the poet assures us it was the particular assistance of a deity that speeded the operation. An English reader may see the whole story in Mr. Dryden's transla-thing, how could I manage it? He took a

tion:

Propp'd on his lance the pensive hero stood,

And heard, and saw, unmov'd, the mourning crowd.
The fam'd physician tucks his robes around,
With ready hands, and hastens to the wound.
With gentle touches he performs his part,
This way and that soliciting the dart,
And exercises all his heavenly art.

All soft'ning simples, known of sov'reign use,
He presses out, and pours their noble juice;
These first infus'd, to lenify the pain,

He tugs with pincers, but he tugs in vain.
Then to the patron of his art he pray'd:
The patron of his art refus'd his aid.

But now the goddess mother, mov'd with grief,
And pierc'd with pity hastens her relief.

A branch of healing dittany she brought,

Which in the Cretan fields with care she sought;
Rough in the stem, which woolly leaves surround;
The leaves with flowers, the flow'rs with purple

crown'd;

Well known to wounded goats; a sure relief
To draw the pointed steel, and ease the grief.
This Venus brings, in clouds involv'd; and brews
Th' extracted liquor with Ambrosian dews,
And od'rous penance: unseen she stands,
Temp'ring the mixture with her heavenly hands;
And pours it in a bowl already crown'd

With juice of med'cinal herbs, prepar'd to bathe the

wound.

The leech, unknowing of superior art,

Which aids the cure, with this foments the part;
And in a moment ceas'd the raging smart.
Staunch'd in the blood and in the bottom stands
The steel, but scarcely touch'd with tender hands,
Moves up and follows of its own accord;

And health and vigour are at once restor❜d.
Lapis first perceiv'd the closing wound;
And first the footsteps of a god he found:

Arms, arms' he cries, the sword and shield prepare,
And send the willing chief, renew'd, to war.
This is no mortal work, no cure of mine,
Nor art's effect, but done by hands divine.'

Virg. Æn. Lib. xii. 391, &c.

[blocks in formation]

handsome cousin of his into the house (as he said,) to be my house-keeper, and to govern my servants; for how should I know how to rule a family? While she had what money she pleased, which was but reasonable for the trouble she was at for my good, I was not to be so censorious as to dislike familiarity and kindness between near relations. I was too great a coward to contend, but not so ignorant a child to be thus imposed upon. I resented his contempt as I ought to do, and as most poor passive blinded wives do, until it pleased heaven to take away my tyrant, who left me free possession of my own land, and a large jointure. My youth and money brought me many lovers, and several endeavoured to establish an interest in my heart while my husband was in his last sickness; the honourable Edward Waitfort was one of the first who addressed to me, advised to it by a cousin of his that was my intimate friend, and knew to a penny what I was worth. Mr. Waitfort is a very agreeable man, and every body would like him as well as he does himself, if they did not plainly see that his esteem and love is all taken up, and by such an object as it is impossible to get the better of; I mean himself. He made no doubt of marrying me within four or five months, and began to proceed with such an assured easy air, that piqued my pride not to banish him; quite contrary, out of pure malice, I heard his first declaration with so much innocent surprise, and blushed so prettily, I perceived it touched his very heart, and he thought me the best-natured silly poor thing on earth. When a man has such a notion of a woman, he loves her better than he thinks he does. I was overjoyed to be thus revenged on him for designing on my fortune; and finding it was in my power to make his heart ache, I resolved to complete my conquest, and entertained several other pretenders. The first impression of my undesigning innocence was so strong in his head, he attributed all my followers to the inevitable force of my charms; and, from several blushes and side glances, concluded himself the favourite; and when I used him like a dog for my diversion, he thought it was all prudence and fear; and pitied the violence I did my own inclinations to comply with my friends, when I married Sir Nicholas Fribble, of sixty years of age. You know, sir, the case of Mrs. Medlar.

[graphic]

I hope you would not have had me cry out | himself, and what a glory would it be f my eyes for such a husband. I shed tears me, and how I should be envied, made enough for my widowhood a week after accept of being third wife to my lord F my marriage; and when he was put in his day. proposed from my rank and grave, reckoning he had been two years dead, and myself a widow of that standing, I married three weeks afterwards John Sturdy, Esq. his next heir. I had indeed some thoughts of taking Mr. Waitfort, but I found he could stay; and besides, he thought it indecent to ask me to marry again until my year was out; so, privately resolving him for my fourth, I took Mr. Sturdy for the present. Would you believe it, sir, Mr. Sturdy was just five-and-twenty, about six foot high, and the stoutest foxhunter in the country, and I believe I wished ten thousand times for my old Fribble again; he was following his dogs all the day, and all the night keeping them up at table with him and his companions: however, I think myself obliged to them for leading him a chase in which he broke his neck. Mr. Waitfort began his addresses anew; and I verily believe I had married him now, but there was a young officer in the guards that had debauched two or three of my acquaintance, and I could not forbear being a little vain of his courtship. Mr. Waitfort heard of it, and read me such a lecture upon the conduct of women, I married the officer that very day, out of pure spite to him. Half an hour after I was married I received a penitential letter from the honourable Mr. Edward Waitfort, in which he begged pardon for his passion, as proceeding from the violence of his love. triumphed when I read it, and could not help, out of the pride of my heart, showing it to my new spouse; and we were very merry together upon it. Alas! my mirth lasted a short time; my young husband was very much in debt when I married him, and his first action afterwards was to set up a gilt chariot and six, in fine trappings before and behind. I had married so hastily, I had not the prudence to reserve my estate in my own hands; my ready money was lost in two nights at the Groom-porter's; and my diamond necklace, which was stole I did not know how, I met in the street upon Jenny Wheedle's neck. My plate vanished piece by piece: and I had been reduced to downright pewter, if my officer had not been deliciously killed in a duel, by a fellow that had cheated him of five hundred pounds, and afterwards, at his own request, satisfied him and me too, by running him through the body. Mr. Waitfort was still in love, and told me so again; and, to prevent all fears of ill usage, he desired me to reserve every thing in my own hands: but now my acquaintance began to wish me joy of his constancy, my charms were declining, and I could not resist the delight I took in showing the young flirts about town it was yet in my power to give pain to a man of sense; this, and some private hopes he would hang

estate, to live in all the joys of pride; b how was I mistaken! he was neither e travagant, nor ill-natured, nor debauche I suffered however more with him tha with all my others. He was splenetic. was forced to sit whole days hearkening his imaginary ails; it was impossible to t what would please him, what he liked wh the sun shined made him sick when rained: he had no distemper, but lived constant fear of them all. My good geni dictated to me to bring him acquainted wi Dr. Gruel; from that day he was alway contented, because he had names for a his complaints; the good doctor furnishe him with reasons for all his pains; and pr scriptions for every fancy that troubled hin in hot weather he lived upon juleps, an let blood to prevent fevers; when it gre cloudy, he generally apprehended a co sumption. To shorten the history of th wretched part of my life, he ruined a goo constitution by endeavouring to mend i and took several medicines, which ende in taking the grand remedy, which cure both him and me of all our uneasiness. Afte his death, I did not expect to hear any mor of Mr. Waitfort. I knew he had renounce me to all his friends, and been very witt upon my choice, which he affected to tal of with great indifferency. I gave ove thinking of him, being told that he was en gaged with a pretty woman and a grea fortune; it vexed me a little, but not enoug to make me neglect the advice of my cousi Wishwell, that came to see me the day m lord went into the country with Russel; sh told me experimentally, nothing put an un faithful lover and a dear husband so soo out one's head as a new one, and at th same time proposed to me a kinsman o her's. "You understand enough of th world," said she, "to know money is th most valuable consideration; he is ver rich, and I am sure cannot live long; he ha a cough that must carry him off soon. knew afterwards she had given the sel same character of me to him; but, howeve I was so much persuaded by her, I hastene on the match for fear he should die befor the time came; he had the same fears, an was so pressing, I married him in a fort night, resolving to keep it private a fort night longer. During this fortnight M Waitfort came to make me a visit: he tol me he had waited on me sooner, but ha that respect for me, he would not interrup me in the first day of my affliction for m dead lord; that, as soon as he heard I wa at liberty to make another choice, he ha broke off a match very advantageous fo his fortnne, just upon the point of conclu sion, and was forty times more in lov with me than ever. I never received mor

[ocr errors]

90

Non possidentem multa vocaveris
Recte beatum; rectius occupat
Nomen beati, qui Deorum
Muneribus sapienter uti,

Hor. Od. ix. Lib. 4. 45.

Believe not those that lands possess,
And shining heaps of useless ore,
The only lords of happiness:

But rather those that know

For what kind fates bestow,

And have the art to use the store:
That have the generous skill to bear
The hated weight of poverty.-Creech.

[ocr errors]

pleasure in my life than from this declara- No. 574.] Friday, July 30, 1714. tion; but I composed my face to a grave air, and said the news of his engagement had touched me to the heart, that in a rash jealous fit I had married a man I could never have thought on, if I had not lost all on Duramque callet pauperiem pati. hopes of him. Good-natured Mr. Waitfort had liked to have dropped down dead at hearing this, but went from me with such an air as plainly showed me he had laid all the blame upon himself, and hated those friends that had advised him to the fatal application; he seemed as much touched by my misfortune as his own, for he had not the least doubt I was still passionately I WAS once engaged in discourse with a in love with him. The truth of the story Rosicrucian about the great secret.' As is, my new husband gave me reason to re- this kind of men (I mean those of them who pent I had not staid for him; he had mar- are not professed cheats) are overrun with ried me for my money, and I soon found enthusiasm and philosophy, it was very he loved money to distraction; there was amusing to hear this religious adept des nothing he would not do to get it; nothing he canting on his pretended discovery. He would not suffer to preserve it; the smallest talked of the secret as of a spirit which expense kept him awake whole nights; and lived within an emerald, and converted when he paid a bill, it was with as many every thing that was near it to the highest sighs, and after as many delays, as a man perfection it is capable of. It gives a lusthat endures the loss of a limb. I heard tre,' says he, to the sun, and water to the nothing but reproofs for extravagancy what diamond. It irradiates every metal, and ever I did. I saw very well that he would enriches lead with all the properties of have starved me, but for losing my jointures; gold. It heightens smoke into flame, flame and he suffered agonies between the grief into light, and light into glory." He farther of seeing me have so good a stomach, and added, that a single ray of it dissipates the fear that, if he had made me fast, it pain, and care, and melancholy, from the might prejudice my health. I did not doubt person on whom it falls. In short,' says he, he would have broke my heart, if I did not its presence naturally changes every place break his, which was allowable by the law into a kind of heaven. After he had gone of self-defence. The way was very easy. on for some time in this unintelligible cant, I resolved to spend as much money as II found that he jumbled natural and moral could; and, before he was aware of the ideas together in the same discourse, and stroke, appeared before him in a two thou- that his great secret was nothing else but sand pounds diamond necklace: he said content. nothing, but went quietly to his chamber, This virtue does indeed produce, in som and, as it is thought, composed himself with measure, all those effects which the alchya dose of opium. I behaved myself so well mist usually ascribes to what he calls the upon the occasion, that to this day I be- philosopher's stone; and if it does not bring lieve he died of an apoplexy. Mr. Wait-riches, it does the same thing, by banishing fort was resolved not to be too late this the desire of them. If it cannot remove the time, and I heard from him in two days. I am almost out of my weeds at this present writing, and very doubtful whether I will marry him or no. I do not think of a seventh for the ridiculous reason you mention, but out of pure morality that I think so much constancy should be rewarded, though I may not do it after all perhaps. I do not believe all the unreasonable malice of mankind can give a pretence why I should have been constant to the memory of any of the deceased, or have spent much time in grieving for an insolent, insignificant, negligent, extravagant, splenetic, or covetous husband: my first insulted me, my second was nothing to me, my third disgusted me, the fourth would have ruined me, the fifth tormented me, and the sixth would have starved me. If the other ladies you u name would thus give in their husbands' pictures at length, you would see they have had as little reason as myself to lose their hours in weeping and wailing. VOL. II. 46

disquietudes arising out of man's mind, body, or fortune, it makes him easy under them. It has indeed a kindly influence on the soul of man, in respect of every being to whom he stands related. It extinguishes all murmur, repining, and ingratitude, towards that Being who has allotted him his part to act in this world. It destroys all inordinate ambition, and every tendency to corruption, with regard to the community wherein he is placed. It gives sweetness to his conversation, and a perpetual serenity to all his thoughts.

Among the many methods which might be made use of for the acquiring of this virtue, I shall only mention the two following. First of all, a man should always consider how much he has more than he wants: and, secondly, how much more unhappy he might be than he really is.

First of all, a man should always consider how much he has more than he wants. I am wonderfully pleased with the reply

which Aristippus made to one who condoled him upon the loss of a farm; 'Why,' said he, 'I have three farms still, and you have but one; so that I ought rather to be afflicted for you than you for me.' On the contrary, foolish men are more apt to consider what they have lost than what they possess; and to fix their eyes upon those who are richer than themselves, rather than on those who are under greater difficulties. All the real pleasures and conveniencies of life lie in a narrow compass; but it is the humour of mankind to be always looking forward, and straining after one who has got the start of them in wealth and honour. For this reason, as there are none can be properly called rich who have not more than they want, there are few rich men in any of the politer nations, but among the middle sort of people, who keep their wishes within their fortunes, and have more wealth than they know how to enjoy. Persons of a higher rank live in a kind of splendid poverty, and are perpetually wanting, because, instead of acquiescing in the solid pleasures of life, they endeavour to outvie one another in shadows and appearances. Men of sense have at all times beheld, with a great deal of mirth, this silly game that is playing over their heads, and, by contracting their desires, enjoy all that secret satisfaction which others are always in quest of. The truth is, this ridiculous chase after imaginary pleasures cannot be sufficiently exposed, as it is the great source of those evils which generally undo a nation. Let a man's estate be what it will, he is a poor man if he does not live within it, and naturally sets himself to sale to any one that can give him his price. When Pittacus, after the death of his brother, who had left nim a good estate, was offered a great sum of money by the king of Lydia, he thanked him for his kindness, but told him he had already more by half than he knew what to do with. In short, content is equivalent to wealth, and luxury to poverty; or, to give the thought a more agreeable turn, Content is natural wealth,' says Socrates; to which I shall add, Luxury is artificial poverty.' I shall therefore recommend to the consideration of those who are always aiming after superfluous and imaginary enjoyments, and will not be at the trouble of contracting their desires, an excellent saying of Bion the philosopher; namely, that no man has so much care as he who endeavours after the most happiness.'

In the second place, every one ought to reflect how much more unhappy he might be than he really is. The former consideration took in all those who are sufficiently provided with the means to make themselves easy; this regards such as actually lie under some pressure or misfortune. These may receive great alleviation from such a comparison as the unhappy person may make between himself and others, or

between the misfortunes which he suffers, and greater misfortunes which might have befallen him.

I like the story of the honest Dutchman, who upon breaking his leg by a fall from the mainmast, told the standers by, it was a great mercy that it was not his neck. To which, since I am got into quotations, give me leave to add the saying of an old philosopher, who, after having invited some of his friends to dine with him, was ruffled by his wife, that came into the room in a passion, and threw down the table that stood before them: Every one,' says he, has his calamity, and he is a happy man that has no greater than this. We find an instance to the same purpose in the life of doctor Hammond, written by bishop Fell. As this good man was troubled with a complication of distempers, when he had the gout upon him, he used to thank God that it was not the stone; and when he had the stone, that he had not both these distempers on him at the same time.

I cannot conclude this essay without observing that there never was any system besides that of Christianity, which could effectually produce in the mind of man the virtue I have been hitherto speaking of. In order to make us content with our present condition, many of the ancient philosophers tell us that our discontent only hurts ourselves, without being able to make any alteration in our circumstances; others, that whatever evil befalls us is derived to us by a fatal necessity, to which the gods them selves are subject; while others very gravely tell the man who is miserable, that it is necessary he should be so to keep up the harmony of the universe, and that the scheme of Providence would be troubled and perverted were he otherwise. These, and the like considerations, rather silence than satisfy a man. They may show him that his discontent is unreasonable, but are by no means sufficient to relieve it. They rather give despair than consolation. In a word, a man might reply to one of these comforters as Augustus did to his friend, who advised him not to grieve for the death of a person whom he loved, because his grief could not fetch him again; It is for that very reason,' said the emperor, that I grieve.'

On the contrary, religion bears a more tender regard to human nature. It prescribes to every miserable man the means of bettering his condition; nay, it shows him that the bearing of his afflictions as he ought to do will naturally end in the removal of them: it makes him easy here, because it can make him happy hereafter.

Upon the whole, a contented mind is the greatest blessing a man can enjoy in this world; and if in the present life his happiness arises from the subduing of his desires, it will arise in the next from the gratification of them.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »