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them? When young men in public places betray in their deportment an abandoned resignation to their appetites, they give to sober minds a prospect of a despicable age, which, if not interrupted by death in the midst of their follies, must certainly come. When an old man bewails the loss of such gratifications which are passed, he discovers a monstrous inclination to that which it is not in the course of Providence to recall. The state of an old man, who is dissatisfied merely for his being such, is the most out of all measures of reason and good sense of any being we have any account of, from the highest angel to the lowest worm. How miserable is the contemplation to consider a libidinous old man (while all created things, besides himself and devils, are following the order of Providence) fretting at the course of things, and being almost the sole malcontent in the creation. But let us But let us a little reflect upon what he has lost by the number of years the passions which he had in youth are not to be obeyed as they were then, but reason is more powerful now without the disturbance of them. An old gentleman t'other day in discourse with a friend of his (reflecting upon some adventures they had in youth together), cried out, 'Oh, Jack, those were happy days!' 'That is true,' replied his friend, 'but methinks we go about our business more quietly than we did then.' One Iwould think it should be no small satisfaction to have gone so far in our journey that the heat of the day is over with us. When life itself is a fever, as it is in licentious youth, the pleasures of it are no other than the dreams of a man in that distemper; and it is as absurd to wish the return of that season of life, as for a man in health to be sorry

for the loss of gilded palaces, fairy walks, and flowery pastures, with which he remembers he was entertained in the troubled slumbers of a fit of sickness.

As to all the rational and worthy pleasures of our being, the conscience of a good fame, the contemplation of another life, the respect and commerce of honest men, our capacities for such enjoyments are enlarged by years. While health endures, the latter part of life, in the eye of reason, is certainly the more eligible. The memory of a well-spent youth gives a peaceable, unmixed, and elegant pleasure to the mind; and to such who are so unfortunate as not to be able to look back on youth with satisfaction, they may give themselves no little consolation that they are under no temptation to repeat their follies, and that they at present despise them. It was prettily said, 'He that would be long an old man must begin early to be one:' it is too late to resign a thing after a man is robbed of it; therefore it is necessary that before the arrival of age we bid. adieu to the pursuits of youth, otherwise sensual habits will live in our imaginations when our limbs cannot be subservient to them. The poor fellow who lost his arm last siege will tell you he feels the fingers that are buried in Flanders ache every cold morning at Chelsea.

The fond humour of appearing in the gay and fashionable world, and being applauded for trivial excellences, is what makes youth have age in contempt, and makes age resign with so ill a grace the qualifications of youth: but this in both sexes is inverting all things, and turning the natural course of our minds, which should build their approbations and dislikes upon what nature and reason dictate, into chimera and confusion.

Age in a virtuous person, of either sex, carries in

345 it an authority which makes it preferable to all the pleasures of youth. If to be saluted, attended, and consulted with deference, are instances of pleasure, they are such as never fail a virtuous old age. In the enumeration of the imperfections and advantages of the younger and later years of man, they are so near in their condition that, methinks, it should be incredible we see so little commerce of kindness between them. If we consider youth and age with Tully, regarding the affinity to death, youth has many more chances to be near it than age; what youth can say more than an old man, 'He shall live till night'? Youth catches distempers more easily, its sickness is more violent, and its recovery more doubtful. The youth, indeed, hopes for many more days, so cannot the old man: the youth's hopes are ill grounded; for what is more foolish than to place any confidence upon an uncertainty? But the old man has not room so much as for hope; he is still happier than the youth, he has already enjoyed what the other does but hope for: one wishes to live long, the other has lived long. But, alas, is there anything in human life the duration of which can be called long? There is nothing which must end to be valued for its continuance. If hours, days, months, and years pass away, it is no matter what hour, what day, what month, or what year we die. The applause of a good actor is due to him at whatever scene of the play he makes his exit. It is thus in the life of a man of sense: a short life is sufficient to manifest himself a man of honour and virtue; when he ceases to be such he has lived too long; and while he is such, it is of no consequence to him how long he shall be so, provided he is so to his life's end.


No. 154. Monday, August 27, 1711

Nemo repente fuit turpissimus




-Juv., Sat. ii. 33.

OU are frequent in the mention of matters which concern the feminine world, and take upon you to be very severe against men upon all those occasions: but all this while I am afraid you have been very little conversant with women, or you would know the generality of them are not so angry as you imagine at the general vices amongst us. I am apt to believe (begging your pardon) that you are still what I myself was once, a queer modest fellow; and, therefore, for your information, shall give you a short account of myself, and the reasons why I was forced to wench, drink, play, and do everything which are necessary to the character of a man of wit and pleasure, to be well with the ladies.

'You are to know then that I was bred a gentleman, and had the finishing part of my education under a man of great probity, wit, and learning in one of our universities. I will not deny but this made my behaviour and mien bear in it a figure of thought rather than action; and a man of a quite contrary character, who never thought in his life, rallied me one day upon it, and said he believed I was still a virgin. There was a young lady of virtue present; and I was not displeased to favour the insinuation. But it had a quite contrary effect from what I expected; I was ever after treated with

347 great coldness both by that lady and all the rest of my acquaintance. In a very little time I never came into a room but I could hear a whisper, "Here comes the maid." A girl of humour would on some occasion say, "Why, how do you know more than any of us?" An expression of that kind was generally followed by a loud laugh. In a word, for no other fault in the world than that they really thought me as innocent as themselves, I became of no consequence among them, and was received always upon the foot of a jest. This made so strong an impression upon me, that I resolved to be as agreeable as the best of the men who laughed at me; but I observed it was nonsense for me to be impudent at first among those who knew me. My character for modesty was so notorious wherever I had hitherto appeared, that I resolved to show my new face in new quarters of the world. My first step I chose with judgment, for I went to Astrop; and came down among a crowd of academics, at one dash, the impudentest fellow they had ever seen in their lives. Flushed with this success, I made love and was happy. Upon this conquest I thought it would be unlike a gentleman to stay long with my mistress, and crossed the country to Bury. I could give you a very good account of myself at that place also. At these two ended my first summer of gallantry. The winter following, you would wonder at it, but I relapsed into modesty upon coming among people of figure in London, yet not so much but that the ladies who had formerly laughed at me said, "Bless us! how wonderfully that gentleman is improved?'

1 A spa in Northamptonshire, near Oxfordshire.
2 Bury Fair' was the title of one of Shadwell's plays.

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