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nuisance, and as we were making our way through the smothering cloud, remarked to Attalus that ornament must give place to use.
- I brought you hither,' says he, 'purposely to shew you how I am treated by a surly obstinate fellow in my neighbourhood, who has not another foot of land in the world, but this cursed patch of ground, and which the rascal keeps on purpose 'to spite me, though I have bidden three times the value of it: indeed it is indispensably necessary to me, as you may well believe by the annoyance it produces in his hands; I have tried all means to get it from him, rough and smooth, and if a prosecution would have laid against it, I would have driven him out of it by the expences of a suit ; but all to no purpose; I am so tormented by the fellow's obstinacy, and my comforts are so sacrificed by the nuisance, that I have no longer any enjoyment in my place; nay I have stopped most of my works and discharged my labourers, for what signifies carrying on improvements, when I can no longer live in my house with that cursed brick-kiln for ever in my eye, and with little intermission, in my nostrils also ?
A new theme of discontent was now started, which the unhappy Attalus pursued with heavy complaints as we travelled down a stream of smoke, which seemed as if maliciously to pursue us, determined not to quit its execrator, till he left off his execrations ; at last they both ceased in the same moment and parted by consent. As soon as Attalus desisted from his invectives I took up my reflections, and if a wish could have purchased his possessions, encumbered with the vexations of their owner, I would not have taken them at the price. Down sunk the vision of prosperity ; swifter than the shifting of a play-house scene vanished all the enchanting prospect; a naked lodge in a warren with content had been more enviable in my eye than his palace haunted with disgust; I saw Attalus, the veriest darling of fortune, sickening and surfeited with prosperity ; peevish with his servants, unsociable to his neighbours, a slave to fashions, which he obeyed and disapproved, unfeeling to the poor, tired with the splendour of a magnificent house and possessing an extensive territory, yet sighing after a small nook of land, the want of which poisoned all his comforts. And what then are riches ?. said I within myself. The disturbers of human happiness ; the corrupters of human nature. I remember this Attalus in his youth ; I knew him intimately at school and college; he was of a joyous, social temper; placid, accommodating, full of resource; always in good humour with himself and the world, he had a heart as liberal and compassionate as it was sincere and open; this great estate was then out of sight; it must be this estate then, which has wrought the unhappy change in his manners and disposition; and if riches operate thus upon a nature like his, where is the wonder if we meet so many wretches who derive their wants from their abundance.
How beautiful is the maxim of Menander ! Ψυχήν έχεις δει πλουσιαν – enrich your mind!
Riches,' says the same elegant and moral dramatist, are no better than an actor's wardrobe,' the paltry tinsel, that enables him to glitter for a few minutes in a counterfeited character
To fret and strut his hour upon the stage,
And then be heard no inore. In another place he says, 'they transform a man into a different kind of being from what he was originally'
Εις έτερον ήθος, εκ εν ώ' το πρόσθεν ην
and then concludes with that Attic simplicity, so neatly turned and elegantly expressed as to distance all translation.
Κρείττον γάρ έστω, αν σκοπη τις κατά λόγον,
Better to choose, if you would choose the best,
Omnes codem cogimur; omnium
Snaps like a thread betwixt the shears of Fate. I REMEMBER to have been told of a certain hu. mourist, who set up a very singular doctrine upon the subject of death, asserting that he had discovered it to be not a necessary and inevitable event, but an act of choice and volition ; he maintained that he had certain powers and resources within himself sufficient to support him in his resolution of holding out against the summons of death, till he became weary of life ; and he pledged himself to his friends, that he would in his own person give experimental proof of his hypothesis.
What particular address death made use of, when this ingenious gentleman was prevailed upon to step out of the world I cannot take upon myself to say, but certain it is, that in some weak moment he was over persuaded to lay his head calmly on the pillow and surrender up his breath.
Though an event, so contrary to the promise he had given, must have been a staggering circumstance to many, who were interested in the success of his experiment, yet I see good reason to suspect that his hypothesis is not totally discredited, and that he has yet some surviving disciples, who are acting such a part in this world as nobody would act but upon a strong presumption, that they shall not be compelled to go out of it, and enter upon another.
Mortality, it must be owned, hath means of providing for the event of death, though none have yet been discovered of preventing it. Religion and virtue are the great physicians of the soul : patience and resignation are the nursing-mothers of the human heart in sickness and in sorrow; conscience can smooth the pillow under an aching head, and Christian hope administers a cordial even in our last moments, that lulls the agonies of death. But where is the need of these, had this discovery been established ? Why call in physcians, and resort to cordials, if we can hold danger at a distance without their help? I am to presume, therefore, that every human being, who makes his own will his master, and goes all lengths in gratifying his guilty passions without restraint, must rely upon his own will for keeping him out of all danger of future trouble, or he would never commit himself so confidentially and entirely to a master, which can give him no security in return for his blind obedience and devotion : All persons of this description I accordingly set down in the lump, as converts to the doctrine of the learned gentleman who advanced the interesting discovery above-mentioned, but who unluckily missed some step in the proof, that was to have established it.
To what lengths of credulity they may really go, is hard to say, but some such hopes as these must buoy them up, because I cannot think that any man would be wilfully wicked, fraudulent, perfidious, avaricious, cruel, or whatever else is detestable in the eye of God, if he saw death, his mes-, senger, at the door ; and I am even unwilling to believe, that he would be wantonly guilty, was he only convinced, that when death shall come to the door, he must be obliged to admit him: for if this be so, and if admission may not be denied, then hath death a kind of visitorial power over us, which makes him not a guest to be invited at our pleasure, but a lord and master of the house, to enter it as his own, and (which is worst of all). without giving notice to us to provide for his entertainment. What man is such a fool in common life, as to take up his abode in a tenement, of which he is sure to be dispossessed, and yet neglect to prepare himself against a surprise, which he is subject to every moment of the day and night? We are not apt to overlook our own interests and safety in worldly concerns, and therefore when the soul is given up to sin, I must suspect some error in the brain.
What shall I say to persuade the inconsiderate that they exist upon the precarious sufferance of every moment that passes over them in succession? How shall I warn a giddy fool not to play his antick tricks, and caper on the very utmost edge of a precipice? Who will guide the reeling drunkard in his path, and teach him to avoid the grave-stones of his fellow-sots, set up by death as marks and signals to apprise him of his danger? If the voice of nas