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travagance or debauchery, “ let his bondsman look to that,” said he, “ I have taken care of myself.”
Thus the unhappy spendthrift proceeded from folly to folly, and from vice to vice, with the connivance, if not the encouragement, of his master; till in the heat of a noeturnal revel he committed such violences in the street as drew upou him a criminal prosecution. Guilty and unexperienced, he knew not what course to take; to confess his crime to Candidus, and solicit his interposition, was little less dreadful than to stand before the frown of a court of justice. Having, therefore, passed the day with anguish in his heart and distraction in his looks, he seized at night a very large sum of money in the compting-house, and setting out he knew not whither, was heard of po more.
The consequence of his flight was the ruin of Candidus; ruin surely undeserved and irreproachable, and such as the laws of a just government ought either to prevent or repair: nothing is more inequitable than that one should suffer for the crimes of another, for crimes which he neither prompted nor permitted, which he could neither foresee nor prevent.
When we consider the weakness of human resolutions and the inconsistency of human conduct, it must appear absurd that one man shall engage for another, that he will not change his opinions or alter bis eonduct.
It is, I think, worthy of consideration, whether, since no wager is binding without a possibility of loss on each side, it is not equally reasonable, that no contract should be valid without reciprocal stipulations; but in this case, and others of the same kind, what is stipulated on his side to whom the bond is given? he takes advantage of the security, neglects his affairs, omits his duty, suffers timorous wickedness to grow daring by degrees, permits appetite to call for new gratifications, and, perhaps, secretly longs for the time in which he shall have power to seize the forfeiture ; and if virtue or gratitude should prove too strong for temptation, and a young man persist in honesty,
however instigated by his passions, what can secure him at last against a false accusation? I for my part always shall suspect, that he who can by such methods secure his property, will go one step further to increase it; nor can I think that man safely trusted with the means of mischief, who, by his desire to have them in his hands, gives an evident proof how much less he values his neighbour's happiness than his own.
Another of our companions is Lentulus, a man whose dignity of birth was very ill supported by his fortune. As some of the first offices in the kingdom were filled by his relations, he was early invited to court, and encouraged by caresses and promises to attendance and solicitation; a constant appearance in splendid company necessarily required magnificence of dress; and a frequent participation of fashionable amusements forced him into expense: but these measures were requisite to his success; since
every body knows, that to be lost to sight is to be lost to remembrance, and that he who desires to fill a vacancy, must be always at hand, lest some man of greater vigilance should step in before him.
By this course of life his little fortune was every day made less : but he received so many distinctions in publick, and was known to resort so familiarly to the houses of the great, that every man looked on his preferment as certain, and believed that its value would compensate for its slowness: he, therefore, found no difficulty in obtaining credit for all that his rank or his vanity made necessary: and, as ready payment was not expected, the bills were proportionably enlarged, and the value of the hazard or delay was adjusted solely by the equity of the creditor. At length death deprived Lentulus of one of his patrons, and a revolution in the ministry of another; so that all his prospects vanished at once, and those that had before encouraged his expenses, began to perceive that their money was in danger; there was now no other contention but who should first seize upon his person, and, by forcing immediate payment, deliver him up naked to the vengeance of the rest. to pay
In pursuance of this scheme, one of them invited him to a tavern, and procured him to be arrested at the door; but Lentulus, instead of endeavouring secretly to pacify him by payment, gave notice to the rest, and offered to divide amongst them the remnant of his fortune : they feasted six hours at his expense, to deliberate on his proposal ; and at last determined, that as he could not offer more than five shillings in the pound, it would be more prudent to keep him in prison, till he could procure from his relations the payment of his debts.
Lentulus is not the only man confined within these walls, on the same account: the like procedure, upon the like motives, is common among men whom yet the law allows to partake the use of fire and water with the compassionate and the just; who frequent the assemblies of commerce in open day, and talk with detestation and contempt of highwaymen or housebreakers: but, surely, that man must be confessedly robbed, who is compelled, by whatever means,
the debts which he does not owe: nor can I look with equal hatred upon him, who, at the hazard of his life, holds out his pistol and demands my purse, as on him who plunders under shelter of the law, and by detaining my son or my friend in prison, extorts from me the price of their liberty. No man can be more an enemy to society than he, by whose machinations our virtues are turned to our disadvantage ; he is less destructive to mankind that plunders cowardice, than he that preys upon compassion.
I believe, Mr. Adventurer, you will readily confess, that though not one of these, if tried before a commercial judicature, can be wholly acquitted from imprudence or temerity; yet that, in the eye of all who can consider virtue as distinct from wealth, the fault of two of them, at least, is outweighed by the merit; and that of the third is so much extenuated by the circumstances of his life, as not to deserve a perpetual prison: yet must these, with multitudes equally blameless, languish in confinement, till malevolence shall relent, or the law be changed.
I am, Sir,
No. 67. TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 1753.
Virg. Æn. vi. 663.
Inventas- -vitam eicoluere per artes.
That familiarity produces neglect, has been long observed. The effect of all external objects, however great or splendid, ceases with their novelty ; the courtier stands without emotion in the royal presence; the rustick tramples under his foot the beauties of the spring with little attention to their colours or their fragrance; and the inhabitant of the coast darts his eye upon the immense diffusion of waters, without awe, wonder, or terrour.
Those who have past much of their lives in this great city, look upon its opulence and its multitudes, its extent and variety, with cold indifference; but an inhabitant of the remoter parts of the kingdom is immediately distinguished by a kind of dissipated curiosity, a busy endeavour to divide his attention amongst a thousand objects, and a wild confusion of astonishment and alarm.
The attention of a new comer is generally first struck by the multiplicity of cries that stun him in the streets, and the variety of merchandize and manufactures which the shopkeepers expose on every hand ; and he is apt, by unwary bursts of admiration, to excite the merriment and contempt of those who mistake the use of their eyes for effects of their understanding, and confound accidental knowledge with just reasoning.
But, surely, these are subjects on which any man may without reproach employ his meditations : the innumerable occupations, among which the thousands that swarm in the streets of London, are distributed, may furnish employment to minds of every cast, and capacities of every degree. He that contemplates the extent of this wonderful city, finds it difficult to conceive, by what method plenty is maintained in our markets, and how the inhabitants are regularly supplied with the necessaries of life ; but when he examines the shops and warehouses, sees the immense stores of every kind of merchandize piled up for sale, and runs over all the manufactures of art and products of nature, which are every where attracting his eye and soliciting his purse, he will be inclined to conclude, that such quantities cannot easily be exhausted, and that part of mankind must soon stand still for want of employment, till the wares already provided shall be worn out and destroyed.
As Socrates was passing through the fair at Athens, and casting his eyes over the shops and customers, “how many things are here," says he, “that I do not want !" The same sentiment is every moment rising in the mind of him that walks the streets of London, however inferior in philosophy to Socrates : he beholds a thousand shops crowded with goods, of which he can scarcely tell the use, and which, therefore, he is apt to consider as of no value: and indeed, many of the arts by which families are supported, and wealth is beaped together, are of that minute and superfluous kind, which nothing but experience could evince possible to be prosecuted with advantage, and which, as the world might easily want, it could scarcely be expected to encourage.
But so it is, that custom, curiosity, or wantonness, supplies every art with patrons, and finds purchasers for every manufacture; the world is so adjusted, that not only bread, but riches may be obtained without great abilities or arduous performances: the most upskilful hand and unenlightened mind have sufficient incitements to industry; for he that is resolutely busy, can scarcely be in want. There is, indeed, no employment, however despicable, from which a man may not promise himself more than competence, when he sees thousands and myriads raised to dignity, by no other merit than that of contributing to supply their neighbours with the means of sucking smoke through a tube of clay; and others raising contributions upon those, whose elegance disdains the grossness of smoky luxury, by grinding the same materials into a powder that may at once gratify and impair the smell.