Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

So volens nolens, what he left, fell to this gentleman. But I had almost forgot to tell you, that his jealous temper, which must accompany

the coretous, let their avarice be fixed on what it will, made him bury a great part of his money and writings; so that a great deal was lost for want of the knowledge of the concealments.

Observation. A covetous desire is properly applicable to self, for, even when I seem to desire the advantage of another, there is something of self in the matter; and it must be allowed, that he, I wish well, is my friend; though another's being my enemy only makes him so; so, by my desire, I gratify my own inclination, in my friend's advantage, or please my anger, in my enemy's disadvantage. A covetous man's thoughts center in his own profit, and wbat good goes besides bim, he counts by Providence wrong applied; then it is idle to expect, that he, that covets all, should frustrate his vast design, by giving me a part; as covetousness is a selfish humour, it is impossible it should be diffusive.

[blocks in formation]

The Marriage of an old Man to a young Woman. THE mutual disappointments, that commonly thwart, and hinder the happiness expected by the marriage of an old man to a young woman, the following story sets forth. An ancient gentleman, whose head age had powdered like a beau's, who in his sprightly youth could at sight answer the expectations of the most lascivious female, as Doctor's-commons, and parish-books could wilness; he had lived a libertine life, and had never thoughts of marriage, till be was threescore and ten, when he happened into the company of a beautiful young woman, whose charms and behaviour blew away the ashes that covered the fire that remained in the brand's end; so that it made a faint blaze, which (of late unaccustomed) warmth made the (willing to be deceived) senior fancy that there was yet a great stock of vigour in his veins, that would answer the ends of marriage. Thus, when lechery had left his tail, and, agitated only by desire, he fancied mighty performances in his lustful brain, he courts this lady for his bride, who had not the charms to renew an old Æson's age; sensible that his expiring flame could not long last, he was impatient of delay. So, by con

tinual courtship, he tried to watch his mistress, like a hawk, into compliance. But it was persuasive money that made her consent to endure a Lenten penance, in expectation of an happy Easter after his death. In short, she for filthy lucre married him, and submitted herself to his feeble threescore and ten years attempts. After his fluttering all the wedding-day, they were put to bed (I think that word suitable to his age) and after sack-posset eat, and stocken thrown, the company withdrew, and left them to themselves. When he failed in performance, she was frustrated in her expectation, so that their marriage signified little or nothing.

Observation. The answer I make, to those that will say, · Every body knew this story before,' is, “That, though I pretend to write novels, I do not novelties, but to dress up something that for one meal may be pleasing, and of grateful gust; and, perhaps, some observation may be made from this story worthy self-application: But, , though the reader do not, I will, to continue the method I first designed

To attempt any thing, which nothing but (almost) a miracle can make successful, is folly and madness; and little less can move a man of threescore years and ten to do--to any purpose. An old man's marrying a young woman is like laying down a good joint of meat, to an almost consumed fire, which will blaze a while, but by the sudden decay, for want of fuel, will make it but lukewarm.

He is counted a blockhead that pretends to set up a trade, when he is past labour, unless he takes an able journeyman; and I believe, in this case, no man will willingly admit of a journeyman to manage his commodity, and without one (by effects may be judged) the marriage will signify little towards procreation. Disappointments must happen to the man from natural consequence, notwithstanding the mighty belief of his abilities. I have known, from powerful fancy, when a child has been tired with walking, yet, imagining he rode when he had a switch between his legs, would imitate the trot and gallop, for a small while, without complaining; but presently the weakness and imbecillity of his feet made him sensible his natural strength (though agitated by desire) could not carry him to his desired home: So the old, whose vigorous heat is spent, may imagine, if he get a cock-horse, how furiously he will ride; but, like the tired child, bis natural decay

The man being deceived, by consequence the woman must; and what sad effects do such disappointments cause, are evident from the future carriage of both man and woman. He grows jealous, unwilling another should feed, tho' he himself cannot make use of the dainties; then the poor abused woman is watched, perhaps confined, and her whole life made uneasy.

Like a poor man (cajolled by mighty promises) transported to the West Indies; when he comes there, finding himself a slave to the beck and rod of an imperious patron, being fast bound by con

will appear:

tract, has no hopes of liberty, but from the expiration of time: Such is the condition of a young woman, who, flattered with the belief of fond doating dalliance, and plenty, is betrayed into the slavery of marriage, with an old fellow, she has no hopes of deliverance from, but by the expiration of her disagreeable husband's life; her youthful heat, meeting with the icy coldness of his age, causes thunder in the house: Continual jars forbid all hopes of peace.

When waves swoln high by force of mighly wind,
They fiercely meet, and are in battle join'd;
The frothy salt, with motion, 's set on fire;
But, wash'd with native water, soon expire:
So toss'd by billows of remaining lust,
Which shumes up and down the aged dust,
Salt sparks are blown into a sudden flame,
But age's moisture soon does quench the same.
The old man's boasting promises, in love,
Do little signify, as women prove;
'Tis vapour all, and limber as my glove.
In vain the aged man hopes to receive
Blessings, which only sprightly youth can give;
In vain a woman does expect a trade,
From one whom stingy age has bankrupt made;
Such disappointments happen to them both,

Which makes the marriage prove of little worth. The reverse of this story, which is an old woman's marrying to a young fellow, is to the full as ridiculous, and signifies as little to a mutual content.

}

Endeavours to regulate Men's Manners by Preaching or Writing. THE present age is not so very virtuous, but that we may meet with examples in almost every company and conversation, that demonstrates the little efficacy the well designed writings and publick teaching of good men have had, towards reformation of manners, and the practice of virtue. But not being willing to expose particularly the insensibility that appears either in my own life, by not amending, and correcting my reproved actions, or in the general practice of my fellow countrymen; I bave pitched upon the history of Socrates, so far as it agrees with my design; that is, to shew how little the good documents he taught signified to the reform or benefit of the Athenians, and the odium they caused from those he endeavoured to amend.

Socrates, who was born in a small village called Halopex, under the Athenian jnrisdiction, is commonly called the Athenian, to distinguish him from several others, of that name, one of which wrote the history of Argos; another was a Bithynian, &c. This Socrates, the Athenian, was taught philosophy under Anaxagoras; he was a man of great temperance, of a strong constitution, one who inquired into the nature of sublime things, studied humanity, practised and publickly preached, to poor and rich, virtue and good manners; to be silent, and not reprove wicked men, he counted a crime against the gods; to discourse of virtue, he esteemed as a great happiness; and, employing himself almost constantly in instructing of the citizens, he neglected mightily his priyate affairs, so that he was poor, and told the Athenians, that he ought to be maintained out of the Prytaneum, or publick storehouse; that he ought to be rewarded more than a victor, for the conqueror could but make them appear to be happy, when, by his instructions in virtue, if practised, they would really be so, not only from present serenity of mind, but in futuro; for he believed an immortality of the soul, and, the very day he died, he employed in discoursing of, and, by convincive arguments to his friends, proved the soul's indivisibility, and, consequently, immortality. He taught, as he believed, that nothing of evil could happen to a good man, his concerns being taken care of by the gods; but, note withstanding his eloquent persuasive speeches upon so noble a subject, as virtue, which, for its own sake, ought to attract men's inclinations and affections, the Athenians were so far from reforming from their accustomed immoralities, that Miletus, Anytus, and others, accused him, as guilty of a capital crime, for instructing the people in the ways of virtue, and for reproving them, when they acted contrary to morality and good manners. They were so exasperated against him for his good endeavours to introduce honesty and piety, inconsistent with their practice, that, without a confronting witness, they condemned him to death ; which sentence was put in execution by a draught of poison. By which barbarous usage, it is apparent, that all his teaching signified little towards the reformation of the lives of his fellow citizens.

Observation. Though licentiousness is more agreeable and facile to the depraved nature of mankind, yet almost every age hath produced a preaching experienced Solomon, a Socrates, a Plato, or some such good men, who have endeavoured, by writing and teaching, backed with the inducing reasons of a present serenity of mind, that must, upon necessity, accompany virtuous actions, or the glorious prospect of an unconceivable reward hereafter ; to persuade men by arguments, conducing to self-interest (which, in all other cases, is prevalent) to practise piety, honesty, and civility. Yet, what poor crops have the stony soil produced, every age, against itself, is witness. The libertinism of an heathen I do not so much wonder at, because he has no thoughts of futurity to check bis mad career; but that men who are daily taught, and instructed in piety and morality, and who, upon a self query, will own that they really be. lieve to do good is for their advantage, should act directly contrary to their belief, is an extravagant madness not to be paralleled. Is there no remedy for so great and contagious an evil to be found?

VOL. X.

нь

Yes, an Heathen teaches me one, Trahimur exemplis plus quan præceptis; for, if those in power and greatness practised virtue, the underlings would imitate ; if it was customary, every one would be in the fashion. But, whilst vice and immorality are countenanced by the great, orders for keeping the sabbath, and against profaneness, are of little efficacy; for, when the great fish break the net, the little ones will go out at the rent. Though arguing for virtue, and good manners, is highly to be commended, yet the little reformation we find shews, ihat hitherto it has signified little or nothing.

He that would bar me of a coming joy,
And by strict rules my liberty destroy,
In trammels makes me pace away my life,
'Twixt nature and his rules is constant strife ;
So irksome and uneasy I must be,
By reason of their great antipathy;
This is the language of th' unthinking man,
Who, led by custom, loves to be profale ;
And will not change his road, whate'er you teach,
Scarce, tho' a Jonah once again should preach :
But still that monkey, man, would imitate,
And virtue practise, copy'd from the great.
Examples, wanting precepts, are but vain;
And moving arguments, in florid strain,
Won't make the blockish croud from ill refrain.

}

Being a Jacobite. ONE, whom, out of good manners, I must stile a gentleman, because he justly claims that title from his ancestors; and it must be allowed him now, even in his adversity, since his accounted crimes of omission, in not actually complying to the laws in force, proceed from the dictates of his conscience, and not from an obstinate spirit of contradiction ; for, though this gentleman's opinion will not permit him to comply in the active part, yet, out of submission to the laws of his country, without refractoriness, he is obedient in the passive. This gentleman, as many others, is at this time termed a Jacobite, as being the title customarily used, in opposition to Williamite; concluding, that he, that is not for me, is against me.'

Upon the revolution, in the year 1688 (which, by unfathomed Providence was brought about, so contrary to rational appearance, that after ages will hesitate at the belief of the heroick attempts of the present king, and the unaccountable manage of the last) this man was turned out of several considerable employs ; or, rather, he turned himself out, for it cannot be expected, that any will be master, unless by power, to those that will not serve them. Stripped of his incomes, he, for a while, handsomely subsisted. But, feeding constantly upon last year's crops, without sowing for another

« ForrigeFortsæt »