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Pion. Therefore to make a sure purchase, employ fortune upon certainties, but do not sacrifice certainties to fortune.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 22, 1711.
Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se
JUV, SAT, iii. 152.
As I was walking in my chamber, the morning before I went last into the country, I heard the hawkers with great vehemence crying about a paper, intitled, The Ninety-Nine Plagues of an Empty Purse. I had indeed some time before observed, that the orators of Grubstreet had dealt very much in plagues. They have already published in the same month, the Plagues of Matrimony, the Plagues of a Single Life, the Nineteen Plagues of a Chambermaid, the Plagues of a Coachman, the Plagues of a lootman, and the Plague of Plagues, The success these several plagues met with, probably gave occasion to the above mentioned poem on an empty purse. However that be, the same noise so frequently repeated under my window, drew me insensibly to think
on some of those inconveniences and mortifications which usually attend on poverty, and in short, gave birth to the present speculation : for after my fancy had run over the most obvious and common calamities which mean fortunes are liable to, it descended to those little insults and contempts, which, though t.ey may seem to dwindle into nothing when a man offers to describe them, are perhaps in themselves more cutting and insupportable than the former. JUVENAL with a great deal of humour and reason tells us, that nothing bore harder upon a poor man in his time, than the continual ridicule which bis habit and dress afforded to the beaux of Rome.
Quid, quòd materiam præhet causasque jocorun
JUV. SAT. iii 147,
For the torn surtout and the tatter'd vest,
It is on this occasion that he afterwards adds the re. flection which I have chosen for my motto.
“ Want is the scorn of every wealthy fool,
It must be confessed that few things make a man appear more despicable, or more prejudice his hearers against what he is going to offer, than an aukward or pitiful dress; insomuch that I fancy, had Tully him
self pronounced one of his orations with a blanket about his shoulders, more people would have laughed at his dress than have adınired his eloquence. This last reflec.tion made me wonder at a set of men, who, without being subjected to it by the unkindness of their fortunes, are contented to draw upon themselves the ridicule of the world in this particular. I mean such as take it into their heads, that the first regular step to be a wit is to commence a sloven. It is certain nothing has so much debased that, which must have been otherwise so great a character; and I know not how to account for it, unless it may possibly be in complaisance to those narrow minds who can have no notion of the same person's possessing different accomplishments; or that it is a sort of sacrifice which some men are contented to make to calumny, by allowing it to fasten on one part of their character, while they are endeavouring to establish another. Yet however unaccountable this foolish custom is, I am afraid it could plead a long prescription; and probably gave too much occasion for the vulgar defini. tion still remaining among us of an heathen philosopher.
I have seen the speech of a terræ-filius, spoke in King CHARLES the second's reign; in which he describes two very eminent men, who were perhaps the greatest scholars of their age; and after having mentioned the entire friendship between them, concludes, that “they had but one mind, one purse, one chamber, and one hat.” The men of business were also infected with a sort of sin.. gularity little better than this. I have heard
father say, that a broad-brimmed hat, short hair, and unfolded handkerchief, were in his time absolutely necessary to denote a notable man; and that he had known two or three, who aspired to the character of very notable, wear shoe-strings with great success.
To the honour of our present age it must be allowed, that some of our greatest geniuses for wit and business
have almost entirely broke the neck of these absurdities.
Victor,* after having dispatched the most important affairs of the commonwealth, has appeared at an assembly, where all the ladies have declared him the genteelest man in the company; and in Articus, f though every way one of the greatest geniuses the age duced, one sees nothing particular in his dress or carriage to denote his pretensions ta wit and learning: so that at present a man may venture to cock up his hat, and wear a fashionable wig, without being taken for a rake or a fool.
The medium be een a fop and a sloven is what a man of sense should endeavour to keep; yet I remember Mr. OSBORN advises his son to appear in his habit rather above than below his fortune; and tells him that he will find an handsome suit of clothes always procures some additional respect. I have indeed myself observed that my banker ever bows lowest to me when I wear my full-bottomed wig; and writes me Mr. or Esq. accord. ingly as he sees me dressed.
I shall conclude this paper with an adventure which I was myself an eye-witness of very lately.
I happened the other day to call in at à celebrated coffee-house near the Temple. I had not been there long when there came in an elderly man' very meanly dressed, and sat down by me ; he had a thread-bare loose coat on, which it was plain he wore to keep himself warm, and not to favour his under suit, which seemed to have been at least its contemporary: his short wig and hat were both answerable to the rest of his apparel. He was no sooner seated than he called for a dish of tea; but as several gentlemen in the room wanted other things, the boys of the house did not think themselves at leisure to mind him. I could observe the old fellow was very uneasy at the affront, and at his being obliged
* The Duke of MARLBOROUGH.
+ Mr. ADDISON.
to repeat his commands several times to no purpose ;
Though I by no means approve either the impudence of the servants or the extravagance of the son, I cannot but think the old gentleman was in some measure justly served for walking in masquerade, I mean appearing in a dress so much beneath his quality and estate.