Imagens das páginas

ing at the root, which brings on unexpected, and seemingly unaccountable but certain decay. It is, therefore, a very unfortunate circumstance, when any gentleman, or lady, through a fault in their temper, or a defect in their education, think themselves too great to be personally acquainted with the state of alt their domestic concerns: a privilege to which nobody is born but the ideot. ,

2. A second cause of extravagance is a vain desire of shew and appearance. Persons who do not seek true happiness within themselves, derive an imaginary happiness from the opinion, of what they think to be the opinion, of other people. They suppose it impossible for them to be happy, unless they seem so : therefore they purchase this visionary happiness at an extravagant rate. No man or woman can say how far this fancy will carry them, or where it will end: for perhaps it will never be satisfied so long as a single competitor is left. It is too common in this age, for those who are less, to take their pattern from those who are greater. God made them to be rich; but they find a way of making themselves poor, by living after a fashion which is above their condition. Hence it is a just observation, and has been frequently made by those who know the world, that some of the poorest families in this kingdom, are those of middle fortunes who affect the style of the nobility. For, what is poverty? It is want ; and he, who is in want, is poor, whatever may be the value of his estate. He suffers the distress of poverty, with those additional evils of vexation and mortification, unknown to persons of humble life. Artificial appetites are observed to do- · mineer more than the natural ; and it is equally true, that artificial poverty is more pressing and more distressing than that poverty to which we are born. It

ought in justice to be so; because the one is innocent and the other sinful. Therefore, let not the poor repine, as if they were the only poor; many of their betters, who make a great shew in the world, are in the same condition with themselves, or a worse. Sup. pose a man of reasonable size should resolve to add even one inch more to his stature. This small ad. dition he cannot preserve but by being constantly upon the rack, and submitting to be in an agony, that he may appear greater than he is. What is worst of all to themselves, when they come to the knowledge of it, such people find they have made themselves contemptible to their superiors, and ridiculous to their equals. In his sphere, every man may be respectable; but no man can be so out of it; because he cannot get thither without having first made himself a fool. So great is this species of folly, ihat in many instances it approaches near, to madness. I remember an example of a gentleman, who was a wit in other respects, but so desirous of appearing great and splendid above himself, that he had laid out large sums in beautifying a seat which did not belong to him; and he was shewing a friend what waters and plantations he had added, and how much farther he intended to carry his improvements; while the officers of justice were then actually in the house, to apprehend him as a debtor.

Admirable is the sentence of the son of Sirach, on the abortive plans of extravagant people : he that buildeth an house with other men's money, that is, by running into debt, is like one who gathereth stones for the tomb of his burial. Ecclus. xxi. 8. The edifice raised on such terms, stands as a monument of the builder's economical death. Thus did the vanity of Absalom raise a pillar, to be a grand memorial of himself: not thinking that an ignominious death should


SERM. XIII. lay him under a rude heap of stones, a monument more suitable to his character and actions.

3. A third cause, by which many fortunes are dissipated, and ihe owners brought to beggary, is a passion for gaming. The employment, as an employment, is below a rational creature, and not well consistent with honesty, under the best acceptation of it. For, whence doth the gamester seck his happiness ? From the hope of depriving others of their property, without giving them any thing in licu, but chance; which is but a shadow, and to the loser is departed as such. Unless gaming is for a large stake, the passions of the avaricious are not sufficiently interested to make it an entertainment: and if it is, then gaining is equivalen to duelling, and is to be condemned on the same principle. The gamester does that for covetousness, which the duellist doth for revenge. The one stakes that life wantonly, which is the property of God, and due to his country: the other stakes that property which should maintain his family and pay his debts; and this, being a wicked act, is generally attended with ruinous consequences. Who are the persons that profess gaming? the profligate, who are either too proud or too idle to work. In low life, they are sharpers and cheats; the hawks and vultures of civil society, who are upon the watch to tear and scatter the plumage of the simple. And, it is to be feared, they are often not much better in higher life. Woe be to those who love their company, and fall under their rapacity; for this vice is not like some others which consume by slow degrees: it is not like blighting winds, over tiowing rains, or burning droughts, bringing scarcity in their rear: but like an earthquake, which swallows up houses and lands with instantaneous ruin. The love of play generally takes place, where

bodily labour, or thoughtfulness of mind, is wanting : it is the business of those who have no business; it is a spirit which rushes like wind into a vacuum:

4. A fourth cause, which drains many of their wealth, is that vain curiosity which is always wanting something, always seeking after novelty or rarity. It is weary of the last toy, and must buy a new one ; not considering that this must soon be succeeded by another, and that by another; because none of them are sought for their real, but for their fancied, worth ; and when fancy tires (which, being weak, it is very apt to do) they lose their value. Vain curiosity is an insatiable principle, because its objects are such as give no real satisfaction. It is analogous to that infirmity of the stomach, which covets and swallows every thing and digests nothing (revomuntur cibi) but is still empty, with all its feeding. It is the curse of some people that they are tormented with imaginary wants, till there is no supply left for such as are natural: the lean and hungry kine, never to be fattened or satisfied, eat up all those of better condition. This humour of wanting every thing for its novelty, and the ruin it brings with it, was censured by one of the Latins, with an equivocation, in which the wit is very just and severe-You buy every thing, says he, therefore you will sell every thing : and the world has frequent opportunities of seeing how often, and how soon, this taste for buying is followed by the necessity of selling. Sales are daily published, in which the superfluous articles, heaped together by ruined people, are dispersed abroad, and pass into the hands of others, who attend with a curiosity, which either knows nothing, or feels nothing, of the unhappy state of those who are thus stripped of their effects.

ist est mole 10: neari" 50 bad, if tre spirit of tzvjson Drive only woi, itself: but so many nitrogus iawn art nuti. mans relations and

**rum injurec in tner jus: expectations. who 1,*!. Is dit within the vorter o: ai extravagast man, 1:, Witte vugut surely to ne sont lesal restraint on 1:8 Mi.O are apparently a privileged swiccers) wwdermising and plunderincthcrs, while they are ruiming 116selves. There is a singdom of Europe, Mare, if it can be shewn by the reiations or parties C ened, that a man has sunk one-third of his capital ou liis estate, complaint mar bf made, and the $1 torney general, after dueinquesi, appoints guardians,

il le were a ininor, for the management of u bat l'emains ; und thus bis ruin, with the consequences of it w others, is prevented by the timer interposition of authority. Under such an establishment, I apprehend, there can be no such thing as gaming.

5. The two remaining causes of extravagance are, the love of fame, and the love of pleasure. Pride works more or less in all mankind: but as it shews itself in a desire of popularity, it was very prevalent among the heathens of Greece and Rome; who were lavish of their gifts to the populace, to obtain their interest or their applause, Pride is nerer so mean, as when it looks beneath itself, and pays its court to those over whom it wants to rule. It appeals, for its own merit, to those who have no judgment; and yet blinds their eyes with a gift, before it ventures to take their opinion. Popular interest is become a public commodity, for which there are so many candidates and competitors, that it is frequently purchased at an exorbitant rate, and brings the possessor to poverty. I do not mean to extend my observations to particu

« AnteriorContinuar »