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be more entangled, and struggle for freedom without obtaining it.
We are so unwilling to believe any thing to our own disadvantage, that we will always imagine the perspicacity of our judgment and the strength of our resolution more likely to increase than to grow less by time; and, therefore, conclude, that the will to pursue laudable purposes will be always seconded by the power.
But however we may be deceived in calculating the strength of our faculties, we cannot doubt the uncertainty of that life in which they must be employed: we see every day the unexpected death of our friends and our enemies, we see new graves hourly opened for men older and younger than ourselves, for the cautious and the careless, the dissolute and the temperate, for men who like us were providing to enjoy or improve hours now irreversibly cut off; we see all this, and yet, instead of living, let year glide after year in preparations to live.
Men are so frequently cut off in the midst of their projections, that sudden death causes little emotion in them that behold it, unless it be impressed upon the attention by uncommon circumstances. I, like every other man, have outlived multitudes, have seen ambition sink in its triumphs, and beauty perish in its bloom; but have been seldom so much affected as by the fate of Euryalus, whom I lately lost as I began to love him.
Euryalus had for some time flourished in a lucrative profession; but having suffered his imagination to be fired by an unextinguishable curiosity, he grew weary of the same dull round of life, resolved to harass himself no longer with the drudgery of getting money, but to quit his business and his profit, and enjoy for a few years the pleasures of travel. His friends heard him proclaim his resolution
without suspecting that he intended to pursue it; but he was constant to his purpose, and with great expedition closed his accounts and sold his moveables, passed a few days in bidding farewell to his companions, and with all the eagerness of romantic chivalry crossed the sea in search of happiness. Whatever place was renowned in ancient or modern history, whatever region art or nature had distinguished, he determined to visit: full of design and hope he landed on the continent; his friends expected accounts from him of the new scenes that opened in his progress, but were informed in a few days that Euryalus was dead.
Such was the end of Euryalus. He is entered that state, whence none ever shall return; and can now only benefit his friends, by remaining in their memories a permanent and efficacious instance of the blindness of desire, and the uncertainty of all terrestrial good. But, perhaps, every man has like me lost an Euryalus, has known a friend die with happiness in his grasp; and yet every man continues to think himself secure of life, and defers to some future time of leisure what he knows it will be fatal to have finally omitted.
It is, indeed, with this as with other frailties inherent in our nature; the desire of deferring to another time, what cannot be done without endurance of some pain, or forbearance of some pleasure, will, perhaps, never be totally overcome or suppressed; there will always be something that we shall wish to have finished, and be nevertheless unwilling to begin but against this unwillingness it is our duty to struggle, and every conquest over our passions will make way for an easier conquest; custom is equally forcible to bad and good; nature will always be at variance with reason, but will rebel more feebly as she is oftener subdued.
The common neglect of the present hour is more shameful and criminal, as no man is betrayed to it by error, but admits it by negligence. Of the instability of life, the weakest understanding never thinks wrong, though the strongest often omits to think justly reason and experience are always ready to inform us of our real state; but we refuse to listen to their suggestions, because we feel our hearts unwilling to obey them: but, surely, nothing is more unworthy of a reasonable being, than to shut his eyes, when he sees the road which he is commanded to travel, that he may deviate with fewer reproaches from himself; nor could any motive to tenderness, except the consciousness that we have all been guilty of the same fault, dispose us to pity those who thus consign themselves to voluntary ruin.
N° 109. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 1753.
Insanire putas solemnia me, neque rides.
You think me but as mad as all mankind.
TO THE ADVENTURER.
MONTESQUIEU wittily observes, that by building professed mad-houses, men tacitly insinuate, that all who are out of their senses are to be found only in those places. This remark having made some
Impression on my mind, produced last night the following vision.
I imagined that Bedlam had been ordered to be rebuilt upon a more extensive plan by act of parliament; and that Dean Swift, calling at my lodgings, offered to accompany me to see the new-erected edifice, which, he observed, was not half capacious enough before to contain the various species of madness that are to found in this kingdom. As we walked through the galleries, he gave me the following account of the several inhabitants.
The lady in the first apartment had prevailed upon her husband, a man of study and œconomy, to indulge her with a route twice a week at her own house. This soon multiplied her obligations to the company she kept, and in a fortnight she insisted upon two more. His lordship venturing to oppose her demand with steady resolution, but with equal tenderness, the lady complained, that the rights of quality and fortune were invaded, that her credit was lost with the fashionable world, and that ignorance and brutality had robbed her of the pleasures of a reasonable being, and rendered her the most unhappy wife in Great Britain. The cause of her complaints, however, still subsisted, and by perpetually brooding over it she at length turned her brain.
Next to her is a dramatic writer, whose comedy having been justly damned, he began to vent his spleen against the public, by weekly abuses of the present age; but as neither the play nor his defences of it were read, his indignation continually increased, till at length it terminated in madness.
He on the right hand is a philosopher, who has lost his reason in a fruitless attempt to discover the cause of electricity.
He on the left is a celebrated jockey of noble
birth, whose favourite mare, that had enjoyed three triumphs in former seasons, was distanced a few days ago at Newmarket.
Yonder meagre man has bewildered his understanding by closely studying the doctrine of chances, in order to qualify himself for a professorship which will be shortly established and amply endowed at an eminent chocolate-house, where lectures on this important subject are constantly to be read.
An unforeseen accident turned the head of the next unfortunate prisoner. She had for a long time passed for fifteen years younger than she was, and her lively behaviour and airy dress concurred to help forward the imposition; till one evening, being animated with an extraordinary flow of spirits, she danced out seven of her artificial teeth, which were immediately picked up, and delivered to her with great ceremony by her partner.
The merchant in the neighbouring cell had resolved to gain a plumb. He was possessed of seventy thousand pounds, and eagerly expected a ship that was to complete his wishes. But the ship was cast away in the channel, and the merchant is distracted for his loss.
That disconsolate lady had for many years assiduously attended an old gouty uncle, had assented to all his absurdities, and humoured all his foi bles, in full expectation of being made his executrix; when happening one day to affirm that his gruel had sack enough in it, contrary to his opinion, he altered his will immediately, and left all to her brother; which affords her no consolation, for avarice is able to subdue the tenderness of nature.
Behold the beautiful and virtuous Theodora ! Her fondness for an ungrateful husband was un