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People who live by Rule ; and had too much good Sense No. 493. and good Nature to let the Fellow starve, because he Thursday not fit to attend his Vivacities,
1712. I shall end this Discourse with a Letter of Recom mendation from Horace to Claudius Nero. You will see, in that Letter, a slowness to ask a Favour, a strong Reason for being unable to deny his good Word any longer, and that it is a Service to the Person to whom he recommends, to comply with what is asked: All which are necessary Circumstances, both in Justice and Good-breeding, if a Man would ask so as to have Reason to complain of a Denial; and indeed a Man should not in Strictness ask otherwise. In hopes the Authority of Horace, who perfectly understood how to live with great Men, may have a good Effect towards amending this Facility in People of Condition, and the Confidence of those who apply to them without Merit, I have translated the Epistle.
To CLAUDIUS NERO, Sir, Septimius, who waits upon you with this, is very well acquainted with the Place you are pleased to allow me in your Friendship. For when he beseeches me to recommend him to your Notice, in such a Manner as to be received by you, who are delicate in the Choice of your Friends and Domesticks, he knows our Intimacy, and understands my Ability to serve him better than I do my self. I have defended my self against his Ambition to be yours as long as I possibly could; but fearing the Imputation of hiding my Power in you out of mean and selfish Considerations, I am at last prevailed upon to give you this Trouble. Thus, to avoid the Appearance of a greater Fault
, I have put on this Confidence. If you can forgive this Transgression of Modesty in behalf of a Friend, receive this Gentleman into your Interests and Friend ship, and take it from me that he is an Honest and a Brave Man.'
No. 494 No. 494.
Friday, September 26. Sept. 26, 1712. Aegritudinem laudare, unam rem maxime detestabilem, quorum
est tandem philosophorum ?-Cic.
for every one that would be thought religious, to
Conversion: upon what Day of the Month, and Hour of No. 494. the Day it happened; how it was carried on, and when Friday, compleated? The whole Examination was summed up 1712.
Sept. 26, with one short Question, Namely, Whether he was prepared for Death? The Boy, who had been bred up by honest Parents, was frighted out of his Wits at the Solemnity of the Proceeding, and by the last dreadful Interrogatory; so that upon making his Escape out of this House of Mourning he could never be brought a second Time to the Examination, as not being able to go through the Terrors of it
Notwithstanding this general Form and Outside of Religion is pretty well worn out among us, there are many Persons, who, by a natural Unchearfulness of Heart, mistaken Notions of Piety, or Weakness of Understanding, love to indulge this uncomfortable Way of Life, and give up themselves a Prey to Grief and Melancholy. Superstitious Fears, and groundless Scruples, cut them off from the Pleasures of Conversation, and all those social Entertainments which are not only innocent but laudable; as, if Mirth was made for Reprobates, and Chearfulness of Heart denied those who are the only Persons that have a proper Title to it Sombrius is one of these Sons of Sorrow,
He thinks himself obliged in Duty to be sad and disconsolate. He looks on a sudden Fit of Laughter, as a Breach of his Baptismal Vow. An innocent Jest startles him like Blasphemy. Tell him of one who is advanced to a Title of Honour, he lifts up his Hands and Eyes; describe a Publick Ceremony, he shakes his Head; shew him a gay Equipage, he blesses himself. All the little Ornaments of Life are Pomps and Vanities. Mirth is wanton, and Wit profane. He is scandalized at Youth for being lively, and at Childhood for being playful. He sits at a Christen ing, or a Marriage Feast, as at a Funeral; sighs at the Conclusion of a merry Story, and grows devout when the Rest of the Company grow pleasant After all, Sombrius is a religious Man, and would have behaved himself very properly, had he lived when Christianity was under a general Persecution, I would by no Means presume to tax such Characters
No. 494. with Hypocrisie, as is done too frequently, that being a Friday, Vice which I think none but He, who knows the Secrets Sept. 26, of Men's Hearts, should pretend to discover in another, 1712.
where the Proofs of it do not amount to a Demonstration, On the contrary, as there are many excellent Persons, who are weighed down by this habitual Sorrow of Heart, they rather deserve our Compassion than our Reproaches. I think, however, they would do well to consider, whether such a Behaviour does not deterr Men from a religious Life, by Representing it as an unsociable State, that extinguishes all Joy and Gladness, darkens the Face of Nature, and destroys the Relish of Being it self.
I have, in former Papers, shewn how great a Tendency there is to Chearfulness in Religion, and how such a Frame of Mind is not only the most lovely, but the most commendable in a virtuous Person. In short, those who represent Religion in so unamiable a Light, are like the Spies sent by Moses to make a Discovery of the Land of Promise, when by their Reports they discouraged the People from entering upon it. Those who shew us the Joy, the Chearfulness, the good Humour, that naturally springs up in this happy State, are like the Spies bringing along with them the Clusters of Grapes, and delicious Fruits, that might invite their Companions into the pleasant Country which produced them.
An eminent Pagan Writer has made a Discourse, to shew that the Atheist, who denies a God, does him less Dishonour than the Man who owns his Being, but at the same Time believes him to be cruel, hard to please, and terrible to humane Nature. For my own Part, says he, I wou'd rather it shou'd be said of me, that there was never any such Man as Plutarch, than that Plutarch was ill-natured, capricious or inhumane.
If we may believe our Logicians, Man is distinguished from all other Creatures, by the Faculty of Laughter. He has an Heart capable of Mirth, and naturally disposed to it. It is not the Business of Virtue to extirpate the Affections of the Mind, but to regulate them. It may moderate and restrain, but was not designed to banish Gladness from the Heart of Man. Religion contracts the Circle of our Pleasures, but leaves it wide enough for her
| Votaries to expatiate in. The Contemplation of the No. 494. · Divine Being, and the Exercise of Virtue, are in their own Friday, Nature so far from excluding all Gladness of Heart, that Sept.26,
1712. they are perpetual Sources of it. In a Word, the true Spirit of Religion cheers, as well as composes the Soul: It banishes indeed all Levity of Behaviour, all vicious and
dissolute Mirth, but in Exchange fills the Mind with a i perpetual Serenity, uninterrupted Chearfulness, and an s habitual Inclination to please others, as well as to be
pleased in itself.
Saturday, September 27,
Ducit opes animumque ferro.---Hor.
look into all kinds of Men, there are none whom I consider with so much Pleasure, as those who have any Thing new or extraordinary in their Characters, or Ways of Living. For this Reason I have often amused my self with Speculations on the Race of People called Jews, many
of whom I have met with in most of the considerable : Towns which I have passed through in the Course of my 5 Travels, They are, indeed, so disseminated through
all the trading Parts of the World, that they are become the Instruments by which the most distant Nations converse with one another, and by which Mankind are knit together in a general Correspondence. They are like the Pegs and Nails in a great Building, which, though they are but little valued in themselves, are absolutely necessary to keep the whole Frame together,
That I may not fall into any common beaten Tracks of Observation, I shall consider this people in three Views; First, with Regard to their Number : Secondly, their Dispersion; and Thirdly their Adherence to their Religion; and afterwards endeavour to shew, first what natural Reasons, and secondly what providential Reasons may be assigned for these three remarkable Particulars.