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no preparations? Nothing can be a greater disgrace to reason, than that men, who are persuaded of these two different states of being, should be perpetually employed in providing for a life of threescore and ten years, and neglecting to make provision for that which after many myriads of years will be still new, and still beginning; especially when we consider that our endeavours for making ourselves great, or rich, or honourable, or whatever else we place our happiness in, may after all prove unsuccessful; whereas, if we constantly and sincerely endeavour to make ourselves happy in the other life, we are sure that our endeavours will succeed, and that we shall not be disappointed of our hope.
you had it in your choice to be happy all the while this prodigious mass of sand was consuming by this slow method until there was not a grain of it left, on condition you were to be miserable for ever after? Or," supposing that you might be happy for ever after, on condition you would be miserable until the whole mass of sand were thus annihilated at the rate of one sand in a thousand years:—which of these two cases would you make your choice?
A LEWD young fellow seeing an aged hermit go by him barefoot, Father,' says he, you are in a very miserable condition, if there is not another world."True, son, said the hermit, but what is thy condition if there is?' Man is a creature designed for two different states of being, or rather for two different lives. His first life is short and transient; his second permanent and lasting. The question we are all concerned in is this, in which of these two lives it is our chief interest to make ourselves happy? Or, in other words, whether we should endeavour to secure to ourselves The following question is started by one the pleasures and gratifications of a life of the schoolmen.-Supposing the whole which is uncertain and precarious, and at body of the earth were a great ball or mass its utmost length of a very inconsiderable of the finest sand, and that a single grain or duration? or to secure to ourselves the particle of this sand should be annihilated pleasures of a life which is fixed and set-every thousand years? Supposing then that tled, and will never end? Every man, upon the first hearing of this question, knows very well which side of it he ought to close with. But however right we are in theory, it is plain that in practice we adhere to the wrong side of the question. We make provisions for this life as though it were never to have an end, and for the other life as though it were never to have a beginning. Should a spirit of superior rank, who is a stranger to human nature, accidentally alight upon the earth, and take a survey of its inhabitants, what would his notions of us be? Would not he think that we are a species of beings made for quite different ends and purposes than what we really are? Must not he imagine that we are placed in this world to get riches and honours? Would not he think that it was our duty to toil after wealth, and station, and title? Nay, would not he believe we were forbidden poverty by threats of eternal punishment, and enjoined to pursue our pleasures under pain of damnation? He would certainly imagine that we were influenced by a scheme of duties quite opposite to those which are indeed prescribed to us. And truly, according to such an imagination, he must conclude that we are a species of the most obedient creatures in the universe; that we are constant to our duty; and that we keep a steady eye to the end for which me were sent hither.
But how great would be his astonishment, when he learned that we were beings not designed to exist in this world above threescore and ten years; and that the greatest part of this busy species fall short even of that age? How would he be lost in horror and admiration, when he should know that this set of creatures, who lay out all their endeavours for this life, which scarce deserves the name of existence-when, I say, he should know that this set of creatures are to exist to all eternity in another life, for which they make
It must be confessed in this case, so many thousands of years are to the imagination as a kind of eternity, though in reality they do not bear so great a proportion to that duration which is to follow them as a unit does to the greatest number which you can put together in figures, or as one of those sands to the supposed heap. Reason therefore tells us, without any manner of hesi tation, which would be the better part in this choice. However, as I have before intimated, our reason might in such case be so overset by the imagination, as to dispose some persons to sink under the consideration of the great length of the first part of this duration, and of the great distance of that second duration, which is to succeed it. The mind, I say, might give itself up to that happiness which is at hand, considering that it is so very near, and that it would last so very long. But when the choice we actually have before us is this, whether we will choose to be happy for the space of only threescore and ten, nay, perhaps of only twenty or ten years, I might say of only a day or an hour, and miserable to all eternity: or, on the contrary, miserable for this short term of years, and happy for a whole eternity: what words are sufficient to express that folly and want of consideration, which in such a case makes a wrong choice?
I here put the case even at the worst, by supposing, what seldom happens, that a course of virtue makes us miserable in this
life: but if we suppose, as it generally hap- when it makes men act contrary to reason, pens, that virtue would make us more or when it puts them upon distinguishing happy even in this life than a contrary themselves by trifles. As for the first of course of vice; how can we sufficiently admire the stupidity or madness of those persons who are capable of making so absurd a choice?
Every wise man therefore will consider this life only as it may conduce to the happiness of the other, and cheerfully sacrifice the pleasures of a few years to those of an eternity.
No. 576.] Wednesday, August 4, 1714.
Nitor in adversum; nec me, qui cætera, vincit
I steer against their motions, nor am I
I REMEMBER a young man of very lively parts, and of a sprightly turn in conversation, who had only one fault, which was an inordinate desire of appearing fashionable. This ran him into many amours, and consequently into many distempers. He never went to bed until two o'clock in the morning, because he would not be a queer fellow; and was every now and then knocked down by a constable, to signalize his yivacity. He was initiated into half a dozen clubs before he was one-and-twenty; and so improved in them his natural gayety of temper, that you might frequently trace him to his lodging by a range of broken windows, and other the like monuments of wit and gallantry. To be short, after having fully established his reputation of being a very agreeable rake, he died of old age at five-and-twenty.
There is indeed nothing which betrays a man into so many errors and inconveniences as the desire of not appearing singular; for which reason it is very necessary to form a right idea of singularity, that we may know when it is laudable, and when it is vicious. In the first place, every man of sense will agree with me that singularity is laudable when, in contradiction to a multitude, it adheres to the dictates of conscience, morality, and honour. In these cases we ought to consider that it is not custom, but duty, which is the rule of action; and that we should be only so far sociable, as we are reasonable creatures. Truth is never the less so for not being attended to: and it is the nature of actions, not the number of actors, by which we ought to regulate our behaviour. Singularity in concerns of this kind is to be looked upon as heroic bravery, in which a man leaves the species only as he soars above it. What greater instance can there be of a weak and pusillanimous temper, than for a man to pass his whole life in opposition to his own sentiments? or not to dare to be what he thinks he ought to be?
Singularity, therefore, is only vicious
these, who are singular in any thing that is irreligious, immoral, or dishonourable, I believe every one will easily give them up. I shall therefore speak of those only who are remarkable for their singularity in things of no importance; as in dress, behaviour, conversation, and all the little intercourses of life. In these cases there is a certain deference due to custom; and, notwithstanding there may be a colour of reason to deviate from the multitude in some particulars, a man ought to sacrifice his private inclinations and opinions to the practice of the public. It must be confessed that good sense often makes a humourist; but then it unqualifies him for being of any moment in the world, and renders him ridiculous to persons of a much inferior understanding.
I have heard of a gentleman in the north of England who was a remarkable instance of this foolish singularity. He had laid it down as a rule within himself, to act in the most indifferent parts of life according to the most abstracted notions of reason and good sense, without any regard to fashion or example. This humour broke out at first in many little oddnesses: he had never any stated hours for his dinner, supper, or sleep; because, said he, we ought to attend the calls of nature, and not set our appetites to our meals, but bring our meals to our appetites. In his conversation with country gentlemen, he would not make use of a phrase that was not strictly true; he never told any of them that he was his humble servant, but that he was his well-wisher, and would rather be thought a mal-content, than drink the king's health when he was not dry. He would thrust his head out of his chamber window every morning, and after having gaped for fresh air about half an hour, repeat fifty verses as loud as he could bawl them, for the benefit of his lungs; to which end he generally took them out of Homer-the Greek tongue, especially in that author, being more deep and sonorous, and more conducive to expectoration than any other. He had many other particularities, for which he gave sound and philosophical reasons. As this humour still grew upon him, he chose to wear a turban instead of a periwig; concluding, very justly, that a bandage of clean linen about his head was much more wholesome, as well as cleanly, than the caul of a wig, which is soiled with frequent perspirations. He afterwards judiciously observed that the many ligatures in our English dress must naturally check the circulation of the blood; for which reason he made his breeches and his doublet of one continued piece of cloth, after the manner of the hussars. In short, by following the pure dictates of reason, he at length departed so much from the rest of his
countrymen, and indeed from his whole species, that his friends would have clapped him into Bedlam, and have begged his estate; but the judge, being informed he did no harm, contented himself with issuing out a commission of lunacy against him, and putting his estate into the hands of proper guardians.
The fate of this philosopher puts me in mind of a remark in Monsieur Fontenelle's Dialogues of the Dead. The ambitious and the covetous, says he, are madmen to all intents and purposes as much as those who are shut up in dark rooms; but they have the good luck to have numbers on their side; whereas the phrensy of one who is given up for a lunatic is a phrensy hors d'euvre; that is, in other words, something which is singular in its kind, and does not fall in with the madness of a multitude. down can bor
The subject of this essay was occasioned by a letter which I received not long since, and which, for want of room at present, I shall insert in my next paper!
'SIR,-You have so lately decried that custom, too much in use amongst most people, of making themselves the subjects of their writings and conversation, that I had some difficulty to persuade myself to give you this trouble until I had considered that though I should speak in the first person, yet I could not be justly charged with vanity, since I shall not add my name: as also, because what I shall write will not, to say the best, redound to my praise, but is only designed to remove a prejudice conceived against me, as I hope, with very little foundation. My short history is this.
"I have lived for some years last past altogether in London, until about a month ago an acquaintance of mine, for whom I have done some small services in town, invited me to pass part of the summer with him at his house in the country. I accepted his invitation, and found a very hearty welcome. My friend, an honest plain man, not being qualified to pass away his time without the reliefs of business, has grafted the farmer upon the gentleman, and brought himself to submit even to the servile parts of that employment, such as inspecting his plough and the like. This necessarily takes up some of his hours every day; and, as I have no relish for such diversion, I used at these times to retire either to my chamber, or a shady walk near the house, and entertain myself with some agreeable author. Now, you must know, Mr. Spectator, that
when I read, especially if it be poetry, it is very usual with me, when I meet with any passage or expression which strikes me much, to pronounce it aloud, with that tone of the voice which I think agreeable to the sentiments there expressed; and to this I generally add some motion or action of the body. It was not long before I was observed. by some of the family in one of these heroic fits, who thereupon received impressions very much to my disadvantage. This however I did not soon discover, nor should have done probably, had it not been for the following accident. I had one day shut myself up in my chamber, and was very deeply engaged in the second book of Milton's Paradise Lost. I walked to and fro with the book in my hand; and, to speak the truth, I fear I made no little noise; when presently coming to the following lines: -On a sudden open fly,
With impetuous recoil and jarring sound,
I in great transport threw open the door of my chamber, and found the greatest part of the family standing on the outside in a very great consternation. I was in no less confusion, and begged pardon for having disturbed them; addressing myself particularly to comfort one of the children who received an unlucky fall in this action, meditations through the key-hole. To be while he was too intently surveying my short, after this adventure, I easily observed that great part of the family, especially the women and children, looked upon me with some apprehensions of fear; and my friend himself, though he still continues his civilities to me, did not seem altogether easy: I took notice that the butler was never after this accident ordered to leave the bottle upon the table after dinner. Add to this, that I frequently overheard the servants mention me by the name of "the crazed gentleman, the gentleman a little touched, the mad Londoner," and the like. This made me think it high time for me to shift my quarters, which resolved to do the first handsome opportunity; and was confirmed in this resolution by a young lady in the neighbourhood who frequently visited us, and who one day, after having heard all the fine things I was able to say, was pleased with a scornful smile to bid me go to sleep."
The first minute I got to my lodgings in town I set pen to paper to desire your opinion, whether upon the evidence before you, I am mad or not. I can bring certificates that I behave myself soberly before company, and I hope there is at least some merit in withdrawing to be mad. Look you, sir, I am contented to be esteemed a little touched, as they phrase it, but should be sorry to be madder than my neighbours; therefore, pray let me be as much in my senses as you can afford. I know I could bring yourself as an instance of a man who
has confessed talking to himself; but yours the word person properly signifies a thinkis a particular case, and cannot justify me, ing intelligent being that has reason and who have not kept silence any part of my reflection, and can consider itself as itself, life. What if I should own myself in love? concludes, that it is consciousness alone, You know lovers are always allowed the and not an identity of substance, which comfort of soliloquy.-But I will say no makes this personal identity of sameness. more upon this subject, because I have longHad I the same consciousness,' says that since observed the ready way to be thought author, that I saw the ark and Noah's mad is to contend that you are not so: as flood, as that I saw an overflowing of the we generally conclude that man drunk who Thames last winter, or as that I now write; takes pains to be thought sober. I will I could no more doubt that I who write this therefore leave myself to your determina- now, that saw the Thames overflow last tion; but am the more desirous to be thought winter, and that viewed the flood at the in iny senses, that it may be no discredit to general deluge, was the same self, place you when I assure you that I have always that self in what substance you please, than been very much your admirer. that I who write this am the same myself now while I write, whether I consist of all the same substance, material or immaterial, or no, that I was yesterday; for as to this point of being the same self, it matters not whether this present self be made up of the same or other substances.'
'P. S. If I must be mad, I desire the young lady may believe it is for her.'
• The humble Petition of John-a-Nokes and
"SHOWETH,―That your petitioners have causes depending in Westminster-hall above five hundred years, and that we despair of ever seeing them brought to an issue: that your petitioners have not been involved in these law-suits out of any litigious temper of their own, but by the instigation of contentious persons; that the young lawyers in our inns of court are continually setting us together by the ears, and think they do us no hurt, because they plead for us without a fee; that many of the gentlemen of the robe have no other clients in the world besides us two; that when they have nothing else to do, they make us plaintiffs and defendants, though they were never retained by any of us: that they traduce, condemn, or acquit us, without any manner of regard to our reputations and good names in the world. Your petitioners therefore, being thereunto encouraged by the favourable reception which you lately gave to our kinsman Blank, do humbly pray, that you will put an end to the controversies which have been so long depending between us your said petitioners, and that our enmity may not endure from generation to generation; it being our resolution to live hereafter as it becometh men of peaceable dispositions.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, shall ever pray, &c.'
I was mightily pleased with a story in some measure applicable to this piece of philosophy, which I read the other day in the Persian Tales, as they are lately very well translated by Mr. Philips; and with an abridgement whereof I shall here present my readers.
I shall only premise that these stories are writ after the eastern manner, but somewhat more correct.
'Fadlallah, a prince of great virtues, succeeded his father Bin Ortoc in the kingdom of Mousel. He reigned over his faithful subjects for some time, and lived in great happiness with his beauteous consort queen Zemroude, when there appeared at his court a young dervis of so lively and entertaining a turn of wit, as won upon the affections of every one he conversed with. His reputation grew so fast every day, that it at last raised a curiosity in the prince himself to see and talk with him. He did so; and, far from finding that common fame had flattered him, he was soon convinced that every thing he had heard of him fell short of the truth.
'Fadlallah immediately lost all manner of relish for the conversation of other mcn; and, as he was every day more and more satisfied of the abilities of this stranger, offered him the first posts in his kingdom. The young dervis, after having thanked him with a very singular modesty, desired to be excused, as having made a vow never to accept of any employment, and preferring a free and independent state of life to all other conditions.
"The king was infinitely charmed with so great an example of moderation; and though he could not get him to engage in a life of business, made him however his chief companion and first favourite.
'As they were one day hunting together, and happened to be separated from the rest of the company, the dervis entertained Fadlallah with an account of his travels and adventures. After having related to him
several curiosities which he had seen in the Indies, "It was in this place," says he, "that I contracted an acquaintance with an old brachman, who was skilled in the most hidden powers of nature: he died within my arms, and with his parting breath communicated to me one of the most valuable secrets, on condition I should never reveal it to any man. The king immediately, reflecting on his young favourite's having refused the late offers of greatness he had made him, told him he presumed it was the power of making gold. No, sir," says the dervis, "it is somewhat more wonderful than that; it is the power of reanimating a dead body, by flinging my own soul into it."viskasd
'While he was yet speaking, a doe came bounding by them, and the king who had his bow ready, shot her through the heart; telling the dervis, that a fair opportunity now offered for him to show his art. The young man immediately left his own body breathless on the ground, while at the same instant that of the doe was reanimated. She came to the king, fawned upon him, and, after having played several wanton tricks, fell again upon the grass; at the same instant the body of the dervis recovered its life. The king was infinitely pleased at so uncommon an operation, and conjured his friend by every thing that was sacred to communicate it to him. The dervis at first made some scruple of violating his promise to the dying brachman; but told him at last that he found he could conceal nothing from So excellent a prince; after having obliged him therefore by an oath to secrecy, he taught him to repeat two cabalistic words, in pronouncing of which the whole secret consisted. The king, impatient to try the experiment, immediately repeated them as he had been taught, and in an instant found himself in the body of the doe. He had but a little time to contemplate himself in this new being; for the treacherous dervis, shooting his own soul into the royal corpse, and bending the princes own bow against him, had laid him dead on the spot, had not the king, who perceived his intent, fled swiftly to the woods.
'The dervis, now triumphing in his villany, returned to Mousel, and filled the throne and bed of the unhappy Fadlallah.
The first thing he took care of, in order to secure himself in the possession of his new acquired kingdom, was to issue out a proclamation, ordering his subjects to destroy all the deer in the realm. The king had perished among the rest had he not avoided his pursuers by reanimating the body of a nightingale which he saw lie dead at the foot of a tree. In this new shape he winged his way in safety to the palace; where, perching on a tree which stood near the queen's apartment, he filled the whole place with so many melodious and melancholy notes as drew her to the window. He had the mortification to see
that, instead of being pitied, he only moved the mirth of his princess, and of a young female slave who was with her. He continued however to serenade her every morning, until at last the queen, charmed with his harmony, sent for the birdcatchers, and ordered them to employ their utmost skill to put that little creature in her possession. The king, pleased with an opportunity of being once more near his beloved consort, easily suffered himself to be taken: and when he was presented to her, though he showed a fearfulness to be touched by any of the other ladies, flew of his own accord, and hid himself in the queen's bosom. Zemroude was highly pleased at the unexpected fondness of her new favourite, and ordered him to be kept in an open cage in her own apartment. He had there an opportunity of making his court to her every morning, by a thousand little actions which his shape allowed him. The queen passed away whole hours every day, in hearing and playing with him. Fadlallah could even have thought himself happy in this state of life, had he not frequently endured the inexpressible torment of seeing the dervis enter the apartment and caress his queen even in his presence.
The usurper, amidst his toying with his princess, would often endeavour to ingratiate himself with her nightingale; and while the enraged Fadlallah pecked at him with his bill, beat his wings, and showed all the marks of an impotent rage, it only afforded his rival and the queen new matter for their diversion.
Zemroude was likewise fond of a little lap-dog which she kept in her apartment, and which one night happened to die.
The kings immediately found himself inclined to quit the shape of the nightingale, and enliven his new body. He did so, and the next morning Zemroude saw her favourite bird lie dead in the cage. It is impossible to express her grief on this occasion: and when she called to mind all its little actions, which even appeared to have somewhat in them like reason, she was inconsolable for her loss.
'Her women immediately sent for the dervis to come and comfort her, who after having in vain represented to her the weakness of being grieved at such an accident, touched at last by her repeated complaints, "Well, madam," says he, "I will exert the utmost of my art to please you. Your nightingale shall again revive every morning, and serenade you as before." The queen beheld him with a look which easily showed she did not believe him; when, laying himself down on a sofa, he shot his soul into the nightingale, and Zemroude was amazed to see her bird revive.
The king, who was a spectator of all that passed, lying under the shape of a lapdog in one corner of the room, immedi