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once: the same passions, which make him wanton and expensive, render him also inattentive and careless; and so his affairs, instead of being inspected by himself, are left to others, who are secretly making a property of him ; feeding and enriching themselves, and their friends, without his knowledge. While his visible expences are great, and he gathers his fruits too fast with his own hand before they are ripe; there is an invisible worm working 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 all 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, or 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 visionT 4
ary happiness at an extravagant rate. No man or woman can say how far this fancy will carry thein, 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 domineer 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 wețe 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. Suppose a man of reasonable size should resolve to add even one inch more to his stature. This small addition 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, that 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 inprovements; while the officers of justice were then actually in the house, to apprehend him as a debtor.
AdAdmirable 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 oeconomical death. Thus did the vanity of Absalom raise a pillar, to be a grand memorial of himself: not thinking that an ignominious death should 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 the 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 seek his happiness ? From the hope of depriving others of their property, without giving them any thing in lieu, 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 entertaiment: and if it is, then gaming is equivalent to duelling, and is to be condemned
on the samé 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 blight. ing winds, overflowing 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.