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thinking he has a right to the tenth part, which he always appropriates to charitable uses. To this sum he frequently makes other voluntary additions, insomuch that in a good year, for such he accounts those in which he has been able to make greater bounties than ordinary, he has given above twice the sum to the sickly and indigent. Eugenius prescribes to himself many particular days of fasting and abstinence, in order to increase his private bank of charity, and sets aside what would be the current expences of those times for the poor. He often goes afoot where his business calls him, and at the end of his walk has given a shilling, which in his ordinary methods of expence would have gone for coachhire, to the first necessitous person that has fallen in his way. I have known him, when he has been going to a play or an opera, divert the money which was designed for that purpose, upon an object of charity whom he has met with in the street, and afterwards pass his evening in a coffee-house, or at a friend's fireside, with much greater satisfaction to himself than he could have received from the most exquisite entertainments of the theatre. By these means he is generous without impoverishing himself, and enjoys his estate by making it the property of others.
There are few men so cramped in their private affairs, who may not be charitable after this manner, without any disadvantage to themselves, or prejudice to their families. It is but sometimes sacrificing a diversion or convenience to the poor, and turning the usual course of our expences into a better channel. This is, I think, not only the most prudent and convenient, but the most meritorious piece of charity, which we can put in practice. By this method we in some measure share the necessities of the poor at the same time that we relieve them, and make ourselves not only their patrons, but their fellow-sufferers.
Sir Thomas Brown, in the last part of his Religio Medici, in which he describes his charity in several heroic instances, and with a noble heat of sentiments mentions that verse in the Proverbs of Solomon, • He that giveth to the poor, lendeth to the Lord :' « There is more rhetoric in that one sentence,” says he, “ than in a library of sermons; and indeed if those sentences were understood by the reader with the same
emphasis as they are delivered by the author, we needed not those volumes of instructions, but might be honest by an epitome.”
This passage of scripture is indeed wonderfully persuasive;
but I think the same thought is carried much further in the New Testament, where our Saviour tells us in a most pathetic manner, that he shall hereafter regard the cloathing of the naked, the feeding of the hungry, and the visiting of the imprisoned, as offices done to himself, and reward them accordingly. Pursuant to those passages in holy scripture, I have somewhere met with the epitaph of a charitable man, which has very much pleased me. I cannot recollect the words, but the sense of it is to this purpose: What I spent I lost; what I possessed is left to others; what I gave away remains with me.'
Since I am thus insensibly engaged in sacred writ, I cannot forbear making an extract of several passages which I have always read with great delight in the book of Job. It is the account which that holy man gives of his behaviour in the days of his prosperity, and if considered only as a human composition, is a finer picture of a charitable and good-natured man than is to be met with in any other author.
• Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me; when his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness: when the Almighty was yet with me : when my children were about me: when I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured out rivers of oil.
When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me it gave witness to me. Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame; I was a father to the poor, and the cause which I knew not, I searched out. Did I not weep for him that was in trouble, was not my soul grieved for the poor? Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity. If I did despise the cause of my man-servant or of my maid. servant when they contended with me: what then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer hin? Did not he that made me in the womb, make him ? and did not one fashion us in the womb? If I have with-held the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail, or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof: If I have seen any perish for want of cloathing, or any poor without covering: If his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep: If I have lift up my hand against the fatherless when I saw my help in the gate; then let mine arm fall from my shoulder-blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone. If I have rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me or lift up myself when evil found him : (neither have I suffered my mouth to sin, by wishing a curse to his soul.) The stranger did not lodge in the street; but I opened my doors to the traveller. If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise thereof complain : If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money, or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life: let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley.'
No. 179. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25.
Centuria seniorum agitant expertia frugis:
I MAY cast my readers under two general divisions, the Mercurial and the Saturnine. The first are the gay part of my disciples, who require speculations of wit and humour; the others are those of a more solemn and sober turn, who find no pleasure but in papers of morality and sound sense. The former call every thing that is serious stupid; the latter look upon every thing as impertinent that is ludicrous. Were I always grave, one half of my readers would fall off from me: were I always merry, I should lose the other. I make it therefore
my endeavour to find out entertainments for both kinds, and by that means perhaps consult the good of both, more than I should do, did I always write to the particular taste of either. As they neither of them know what I proceed upon, the sprightly reader, who takes up my paper in order to be diverted, very often finds himself engaged unawares in a serious and profitable course of thinking; as on the contrary, the thoughtful man, who perhaps may hope to find something solid, and full of deep reflection, is very often insensibly betrayed into a fit of mirth. In a word, the reader sits down to my entertainment without knowing his bill of fare, and has therefore at least the pleasure of hoping there may be a dish to his palate.
I must confess, were I left to myself, I would rather aim at instructing than diverting ; but if we will be useful to the world, we must take it as we find it. Authors of professed severity discourage the looser part of mankind from having any thing to do with their writings. A man must have virtue in him, before he will enter upon the reading of a Seneca or an Epictetus. The
very title of a moral treatise has something in it austere and shocking to the careless and inconsiderate.
For this reason several unthinking persons fall in my way, who would give no attention to lectures delivered with a religious seriousness, or a philosophic gravity. They are insnared into sentiments of wisdom and virtue when they do not think of it; and if by that means they arrive only at such a degree of consideration as may dispose them to listen to more studied and elaborate discourses, I shall not think my speculations use: less. I might likewise observe, that the gloominess in which sometimes the minds of the best men are involy. ed, very often stands in need of such little incitements to mirth and laughter as are apt to disperse melancholy, and put our faculties in good humour. To which some will add, that the British climate more than any other makes entertainments of this nature in a manner necessary.
If what I have here said does not recommend, it will at least excuse, the variety of my speculations. I would not willingly laugh but in order to instruct, or if I some times fail in this point, when my mirth ceases to be instructive, it shall never cease to be innocent. A scrupulous conduct in this particular, has, perhaps, more merit in it than the generality of readers imagine; did they know how many thoughts occur in a point of hu. mour, which a discreet author in modesty suppresses ; how many strokes of raillery present themselves, which could not fail to please the ordinary taste of mankind, but are stifled in their birth by reason of some remote tendency which they carry in them to corrupt the minds of those who read them; did they know how many glances of ill-nature are industriously avoided for fear of doing injury to the reputation of another, they would be apt to think kindly of those writers who endeavour to make themselves diverting without being im. moral. One may apply to these authors that passage in Waller,
Poets lose half the praise they would have got,