« السابقةمتابعة »
merate: They are therefore, independent of the human will. They PART II. form the occafions on which a perfon may adopt a proper or im- CHAP. I. proper conduct; and for this he is accountable, although he is no ways accountable for the event that may follow from his best endeavours. Happily for mankind, in this distribution of their truft, it is observed, even to a proverb, that they are happy or miferable, not in proportion to the measure in which they possess or are deprived of external advantages, but in proportion to the temper of their own minds, the conduct which they themfelves have adopted, and the use which they make of the means with which they are furnished by providence.
To the perfon who abufes his health, it is no advantage; because he has taken occafion from it to give fcope to his folly or his vice. And if it has encouraged or fupported him in the practice of either, although to another it might be the occafion of good, to him it is at least the occafion of evil. To preferve, under the disadvantage of ill health, equanimity and a temper undisturbed; to fubmit with chearfulness to the restraints which disease may impofe, ferves to difarm this enemy, or render his presence an occasion of good to the person who can thus acquit himself properly.
The effects of difeafe in different perfons are no doubt unequal; and in some instances, whether owing to comparative weakness of mind, or intensity of fuffering, it is no doubt fufficient to deprive animal life of its value: But this is rarely the lot or condition of man; nor is it that, against which a perfon, who would avoid the evils of human life, is most concerned to be on his guard. "You
are afraid of sickness, poverty, and death," fays Epictetus; "but, "if you had been afraid of fear itself, you would have fhewn yourself better apprised of your real enemy." Disease of the VOL. II.
mind is more to be dreaded than that of the body: For one that is afflicted with a gangrene of the flesh, thousands incur the gangrene of envy and malice, or are bloated with vanity and folly.
Bodily strength, as well as health may be abused; and, to those who confider it as an article of vanity, is for the most part an occafion of brutality and extreme folly. Joined to strength of mind, it may qualify the hero to act his part in the field, or in fcenes of violence: But strength of mind without it can find many substitutes; and the heroic part may be acted as well on the fick man's litter as on the warrior's horfe.
Riches, it cannot be doubted, derive their value from the ufe to which they may be employed, in preserving, accommodating, or adorning the state of man, in profit to ourselves or beneficence to others. With riches, as well as birth, there is an affociation of perfonal excellence, tending to conftitute a fuperiority of estimation or rank; and, with poverty, there is an affociation of comparative defect or meannefs. The first accordingly is from a defire of preferment ardently coveted; the other, under a notion of degradation, is carefully fhunned.
Among rude nations, although property be acknowledged and unequally distributed, its principal ufe being to fecure the neceffaries of life, and this ufe being obtained, without being rich, it is difficult to perceive in what confists the advantage of wealth. "A Hottentot," fays Sparman, "is rich, in proportion to the number "of his cattle: But the richeft is cloathed, fed, and attended, no bet"ter than the poor; more trinkets of brafs, offhells, or beads; more fat "in dreffing his victuals, or in anointing his body: The honour
or advantage of being able to maintain more fervants and cow- PART II. "herds. And the divine pleasure of doing good to his fellow CHAP. II. creatures, is that which conftitutes the diftinction of rank " in this fimple race of men."
In the competitions of vanity, riches are more an object of oftentation than of enjoyment or ufe; but, in the breast of the miser, they are affociated with fafety more than with either of the former confiderations. Perfons of this description, we are told, even in the midst of plenty, are haunted with the fear of want, whilst they hoard up riches, they refrain from the use of them; and, instead of affecting the rank which their wealth might bestow, ftill cling to their fuppofed pledge of fecurity, under the aspect of meannefs and poverty. Enjoyment, however, is the charm with which riches are fuppofed to attract the wishes of ordinary men. It is the fpur, under which mankind have striven to improve and to extend all the arts which tend to the accumulation of wealth. It is that which causeth the poor to look up to the rich with fentiments of admiration or envy, and causeth the rich to look down on the poor with contempt or pity.
But with respect to enjoyment, there is good reason to believe, that habit reconciles mankind, or renders them indifferent nearly alike to their refpective fortunes. It is not doubted, that the meal of the peafant is equally relished with that of his lord; that fleep on a ftraw matrafs is no lefs undisturbed than on a bed of down, or under a canopy of ftate: Infomuch that contentment, or the want of it, indifferent conditions of life, are even to a proverb observed to be equal. If the poor be haunted with wishes for fomewhat beyond his prefent condition, fo alfo is the rich; and it is probable that the comforts of either G 2 would
PART II would be more felt in the privation than in the actual ufe. The ordinary course of life appears indifferent: They are pleased chiefly with acceffions that feem to exceed, or displeased with privations that impair the advantages to which they are accuftomed.
Occafional privations, at the fame time, even of what are thought the effential comforts of life, are endured with alacrity and cheerfulness in the midst of any ardent purfuit, whether of business or sport. The foldier is chearful in the midst of hardship or toil, or in the face of danger, encountered in discharging the honourable duties of his station. The huntsman incurs almoft equal danger with equal alacrity; and, whatever his hardships may be, has not any pretence for complaint, because they are voluntary. Compared to either, the ordinary life of a beggar, which is ever looked on with contempt or pity, is eafy, affluent, and fecure.
The enjoyments or fufferings, which we commonly ascribe to riches or poverty, are in reality, in a great measure, derived from the unequal degrees of confideration or esteem with which they are attended. The foldier and the gentleman hunter either gain, or do not lofe in point of rank, by the hardships or privations of ease to which they fubmit. The one is actually raised in his own, and in the esteem of others, by the danger he braves. The other too is no way degraded, or rather maintains his ftation by his contempt of repose, and by his parade of horfes and dogs, which makes a part of the distinction he enjoys among his neighbours.
Nothing is better established in reafon, than that the value of external circumstances depends on the degree in which they are
felt. Prosperity is of no value, to those who feel it not; or to PART II.
From thefe and other appearances, it fhould feem, that although providence has deftined human life to pass away in the practice of arts; in tranfactions and purfuits, which relate to the gifts of fortune, as to their immediate object; that nevertheless there is not any precife measure of thefe gifts required, to enable