Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

· N° 2. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 1752.

Palma negata macrum, donata reducit opimum.-Hor.
-To sink in shame, or swell with pride,

As the gay palın is granted or deuied.-Francis. The multitudes that support life by corporal labour, and eat their bread in the sweat of their brow, commonly regard inactivity as idleness; and have no conception that weariness can be contracted in an elbow-chair, by now and then peeping into a book, and musing the rest of the day : the sedentary and studious, therefore, raise their envy and contempt, as they appear either to possess the conveniences of life by the mere bounty of fortune, or to suffer the want of them by refusing to work.

It is, however, certain, that to think is to labour; and that as the body is affected by the exercise of the mind, the fatigue of the study is not less than that of the field or the manufactory.

But the labour of the mind, though it is equally wearisome with that of the body, is not attended with the same advantages. Exercise gives health, vigour, and cheerfulness, sound sleep, and a keen appetite: the effects of sedentary thoughtfulness are diseases that imbitter and shorten life, interrupted rest, tasteless meals, perpetual languor, and causeless anxiety.

No natural inability to perform manual operations, has been observed to proceed from disinclination ; the reluctance, if it cannot be removed, may be surmounted; and the artificer then proceeds in his work with as much dexterity and exactness as if no extraordinary effort had been made to begin it: but with respect to the productions of imagination and

wit, a mere determination of the will is not sufficient; there must be a disposition of the mind which no human being can procure, or the work will have the appearance of a forced plant, in the production of which the industry of art has been substituted for the vigour of nature.

Nor does this disposition always ensure success, though the want of it never fails to render application ineffectual; for the writer who sits down in the morning fired with his subject and teeming with ideas, often finds at night, that what delighted his imagination offends his judgment, and that he has lost the day by indulging a pleasing dream, in which he joined together a multitude of splendid images without perceiving their incongruity.

Thus the wit is condemned to pass his hours, those hours which return no more, in attempting that which he cannot effect, or in collecting materials which he afterward discovers to be unfit for use: but the mechanic and the husbandman know, that the work which they perform will always bear the same proportion to the time in which they are employed and the diligence which they exert.

Neither is the reward of intellectual equally cer, tain with that of corporal labour; the artificer, for the manufacture which he finishes in a day, receives a certain sum ; but the wit frequently gains no advantage from a performance at which he has toiled many months, either because the town is not disposed to judge of his merit, or because he has not suited the popular taste.

It has been often observed, that not the value of a man's income, but the proportion which it bears to his expenses, justly denominates him rich or poor, and that it is not so much the manner in which he lives, as the habit of life he has contracted, which renders him happy or wretched. For this reason, the labour of the mind, even when it is adequately rewarded, does not procure means of happiness in the same proportion as that of the body. They that sing at the loom, or whistle after the plough, wish not for intellectual entertainment; if they have plenty of wholesome food, they do not repine at the inelegance of their table, nor are they less happy because they are not treated with ceremonious respect, and served with silent celerity. The scholar is always considered as becoming a gentleman by his education; and the wit as conferring honour upon his company, however elevated by their rank or fortune: they are therefore frequently admitted to scenes of life very different from their own; they partake of pleasures which they cannot hope to purchase; and many superfluities become necessary, by the gratification of wants, which in a lower class they would never have known.

Thus, the peasant and the mechanic, when they have received the wages of the day, and procured their strong beer and supper, have scarce a wish unsatisfied ; but the man of nice discernment and quick sensations, who has acquired a high relish of the elegances and refinements of life, has seldom philosophy enough to be equally content with that which the reward of genius can purchase.

And yet there is scarce any character so much the object of envy as that of a successful writer. But those who only see him in company, or hear encomiums on his merit, form a very erroneous opinion of his happiness; they conceive him as perpetually enjoying the triumph of intellectual superiority ; as displaying the luxuriancy of his fancy, and the variety of his knowledge, to silent admiration; or listening in voluptuous indolence to the music of praise. But they know not that these lucid intervals are short and few; that much the greater part

of his life is passed in solitude and anxiety; that his hours glide away unnoticed, and the day like the night is contracted to a moment by the intense application of the mind to its object; locked up from every eye, and lost even to himself, he is reminded that he lives only by the necessities of life; he then starts as from a dream, and regrets that the day has passed unenjoyed, without affording means of happiness to the morrow.

Will Hardman the smith had three sons, Tom, Ned, and George. George, who was the youngest, he put apprentice to a tailor; the two elder were otherwise provided for: he had by some means the opportunity of sending them to school upon a foundation, and afterward to the University. Will thought that this opportunity to give his boys good learning, was not to be missed : Learning,' he said, was a portion which the D-v-l could not wrong them of: and when he had done what he ought for them, they must do for themselves.' · As he had not the same power to procure them livings, when they had finished their studies, they came to London. They were both scholars; but Tom was a genius, and Ned was a dunce: Ned became usher in a school at the yearly salary of twenty pounds, and Tom soon distinguished himself as an author: he wrote many pieces of great excellence ; but his reward was sometimes withheld by caprice, and sometimes intercepted by envy. He passed his time in penury and labour ; his mind was abstracted in the recollection of sentiment, and perplexed in the arrangement of his ideas and the choice of expression. • George in the mean time became a master in his trade, kept ten men constantly, at work upon the board, drank his beer out of a silver tankard, and boasted that he might be as well to pass in a few years as many of those for whom he had made laced

clothes, and who thought themselves his betters. Ned wished earnestly that he could change stations with George; but Tom in the pride of his heart disdained them both; and declared that he would rather perish upon a bulk with cold and hunger, than steal through life in obscurity, and be forgotten when he was dead.

N° 3. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 1752.

-Scenis decora alta futuris. Virg. The splendid ornament of future scenes.

TO THE ADVENTURER. "SIR, As the business of pantomimes is become a very serious concern, and the curiosity of mankind is perpetually thirsting after novelties, I have been at great pains to contrive an entertainment, in which every thing shall be united that is either the delight or astonishment of the present age: I have not only ransacked the fairs of Bartholomew and Southwark, but picked up every uncommon animal, every amazing prodigy of nature, and every surprising performer, that has lately appeared within the bills of mortality. As soon as I am provided with a theatre spacious enough for my purpose, I intend to exhibit a most sublime pantomime in the modern taste; but far more ostentatious in its feats of activity, its scenes, decorations, machinery, and monsters. A sketch of my design I shall lay before you; and you may possibly think it not inconsistent with the character of an Adventurer to recommend it to public notice.

« AnteriorContinuar »