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No. 317. TUESDAY, MARCH 4.
Fruges consumere nati,
AUGUSTUS, a few moments before his death, asked his friends who stood about him, if they thought he had acted his part well; and, upon receiving such an answer as was due to his extraordinary merit, "Let me then (says he) go off the stage with your applause;" using the expression with which the Roman actors made their erit at the conclusion of a dramatic piece. I could wish that men, while they are in health, would consider well the nature of the part they are engaged in, and what figure it will make in the minds of those they leave behind them; whether it was worth coming into the world for, whether it be suitable to a reasonable being; in short, whether it appears graceful in this life, or will turn to an advantage in the next. Let the sycophant, or buffoon, the satirist, or the good companion, consider with himself, when his body shall be laid in the grave, and his soul pass into another state of existence, how much it will redound to his praise, to have it said of him, that no man in England eat better, that he had an admirable talent at turning his friend into ridicule, that nobody outdid him at an ill-natured jest, or that he never went to bed before he had dispatched his third bottle. These are, however, very common funeral orations and eulogiums on deceased persons who have acted among mankind with some figure and reputation.
But if we look into the bulk of our species, they are such as are not likely to be remembered a moment after their disappearance. They leave behind them no traces of their existence, but are forgotten as though they had never been. They are neither wanted by the poor, regretted by the rich, nor cele
brated by the learned. They are neither missed in the commonwealth, nor lamented by private persons. Their actions are of no significancy to mankind, and might have been performed by creatures of much less dignity than those who are distinguished by the faculty of reason. An eminent French author speaks somewhere to the following purpose: I have often seen, from my chamber-window, two noble creatures, both of them of an erect countenance, and endowed with reason. These two intellectual beings are employed, from morning to night, in rubbing two smooth stones one upon another; that is, as the vulgar phrase it, in polishing marble.
My friend, Sir Andrew Freeport, as we were sitting in the club last night, gave us an account of a sober citizen, who died a few days since. This honest man being of greater consequence in his own thoughts, than in the eye of the world, had for some years past kept a journal of his life. Sir Andrew shewed us one week of it. Since the occurrences set down in it mark out such a road of action as that I have been speaking of, I shall present my reader with a faithful copy of it; after having first informed him, that the deceased person had in his youth been bred to trade, but finding himself not so well turned for business, he had for several years last past lived altogether upon a moderate annuity..
MONDAY, eight o'clock. I put on my clothes, and walked into my parlour.
Nine o'clock ditto. Tied my knee-strings, and washed my hands.
Hours ten, eleven, and twelve. Smoked three pipes of Virginia. Read the Supplement and Daily Courant. Things go ill in the north. Mr. Nisby's opinion thereupon.
One o'clock in the afternoon. Chid Ralph for mislaying my tobacco-box.
Two o'clock. Sat down to dinner. Mem. Too many plums, and no suet. From three to four. From four to six. S. S. E.
Took my afternoon's nap. Walked into the fields. Wind
From six to ten. At the club. Mr. Nisby's opinion about the peace.
Ten o'clock. Went to bed, slept sound.
TUESDAY, BEING HOLIDAY, eight o'clock. Rose as usual.
Nine o'clock. Washed hands and face, shaved, put on my double soaled shoes.
Ten, eleven, twelve. Took a walk to Islington.
Between two and three. Returned, dined on a knuckle of veal and bacon. Mem. Sprouts wanting. Three. Nap as usual.
From four to six. Coffee-house. Read the news. A dish of twist. Grand Vizier strangled. From six to ten. At the club. Mr. Nisby's account of the Great Turk..
Ten. Dream of the Grand Vizier. Broken sleep. shoe
WEDNESDAY, eight o'clock. Tongue of my buckle broke. Hands, but not face.
Nine. Paid off the butcher's bill. Mem. To be allowed for the last leg of mutton.
Ten, eleven. At the coffee-house.
More work in the north. Stranger in a black wig asked me how stocks went.
From twelve to one. Walked in the fields. Wind to the south.
From one to two. Smoked a pipe and a half.
Three. Nap broke by the falling of a pewter dish. Mem. Cook-maid in love, and grown careless.
From four to six. At the coffee-house. Advice from Smyrna, that the Grand Vizier was first of all strangled, and afterwards beheaded.
Six o'clock in the evening. Was half an hour in the club before any body else came. Mr. Nishy of opinion that the Grand Vizier was not strangled the sixth instant.
Ten at night. Went to bed. Slept without waking till nine next morning.
THURSDAY, nine o'clock. Staid within till two o'clock for Sir Timothy, who did not bring me my annuity according to his promise.
Two in the afternoon. Sat down to dinner. Loss of appetite. Small beer sour. Beef over-corned.
Three. Could not take my nap.
Four and five. Gave Ralph a box on the ear. Turned off my cook-maid. Sent a message to Sir Timothy. Mem. I did not go to the club to night. Went to bed at nine o'clock.
FRIDAY. Passed the morning in meditation upon Sir Timothy, who was with me a quarter before twelve.
Twelve o'clock. Bought a new head to my cane, and a tongue to my buckle. Drank a glass of purl to recover appetite. Two and three. From four to six. Went to the coffee-house. Met Mr. Nisby there. Smoked several pipes. Mr. Nisby of opinion that laced coffee is bad for the head,
Dined, and slept well.
Six o'clock. At the club as steward. Sat late. Twelve o'clock. Went to bed, dreamt that I drank small-beer with the Grand Vizier.
SATURDAY. Waked at eleven, walked in the fields, wind N. E.
Twelve. Caught in a shower.
One in the afternoon. Returned home, and dried myself.
Two. Mr. Nisby dined with me. First course marrow-bones, second ox-cheek, with a bottle of Brooks and Hellier.
Three o'clock. Overslept myself. Six. Went to the club. Like to have fallen into a gutter. Grand Vizier certainly dead, &c.
I question not but the reader will be surprised to find the above-mentioned journalist taking so much care of a life that was filled with such inconsiderable actions, and received so very small improvements;' and yet, if we look into the behaviour of many whom we daily converse with, we shall find that most of their hours are taken up in those three important articles of eating, drinking, and sleeping. I do not suppose that a man loses his time, who is not engaged in public affairs, or in an illustrious course of action. On the contrary, I believe our hours may very often be more profitably laid out in such transactions as make no figure in the world, than in such as are apt to draw upon them the attention of mankind. One may become wiser and better by several methods of employing one's self in secrecy and silence, and do what is laudible, without noise, or ostentation. I would, however, recommend to every one of my readers, the keeping a journal of their lives for one week, and setting down punctually their whole series of employments during that space of time. This kind of self-examination would give them a true state of themselves, and incline them to consider seriously what they are about. One day would rectify the omissions of another, and make a man weigh all those indifferent actions, which, though they are easily forgotten, must certainly be accounted for.