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censoriousness, that gives no allowance to the failings of early life, that expects artfulness1 from childhood, and constancy from youth, that is peremptory in every command, and inexorable to every failure. There are many who live merely to hinder happiness, and whose descendants can only tell of long life, that it produces suspicion, malignity, peevishness, and persecution; and yet even these tyrants can talk of the ingratitude of the age, curse their heirs for impatience, and wonder that young men cannot take pleasure in their father's company.
He that would pass the latter part of life with honour and decency, must, when he is young, consider that he shall one day be old; and remember, when he is old, that he has once been young. In youth, he must lay up knowledge for his support, when his powers of acting shall forsake him; and in age forbear to animadvert with rigour on faults which experience only can correct.
"Learn to live well, or fairly make your will;
You've play'd, and lov'd, and eat, and drank your fill:
Comes titt'ring on, and shoves you from the stage;
Leave such to trifle with more grace and ease,
Whom folly pleases, and whose follies please."
Compare also the lines (305-8) of Johnson's Vanity of Human Wishes:
"Year chases year, decay pursues decay,
Still drops some joy from with'ring life away;
"J'ai reçu mon congé bien signifié par la nature et par les hommes," wrote Rousseau, Euvres, ed. 1782, xxiv. 412.
1 Johnson's first definition of artfulness is skill.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2, 1750.
Non intelligunt homines quam magnum vectigal sit .. parsimonia.-TULL.1
The world has not yet learned the riches of frugality.
To the RAMBLER.
AM always pleased when I see literature made useful, and scholars descending from that elevation, which as it raises them above common life, must likewise hinder them from beholding the ways of men otherwise than in a cloud of bustle and confusion. Having lived a life of business, and remarked how seldom any occurrences emerge for which great qualities are required, I have learned the necessity of regarding little things; and though I do not pretend to give laws to the legislators of mankind, or to limit the range of those powerful minds that carry light and heat through all the regions of knowledge, yet I have long thought, that the
1 Cicero, Paradoxa vi. Burke, speaking on Public Reform and Economy on Dec. 15, 1779, quoting this line, 'made a false quantity, rendering the second word, vectigal. Lord North, in a low tone, corrected the error when the orator with his usual presence of mind turned the mistake to advantage. The Noble Lord,' said he, 'hints that I have erred in the quantity of a principal word in my quotation; I rejoice at it, because it gives me an opportunity of repeating the inestimable adage'-and with increased energy he thundered forth-'magnum vec-ti-gal est parsimonia."-Prior's Life of Burke, ed. 1872, p. 184.
greatest part of those who lose themselves in studies by which I have not found that they grow much wiser, might, with more advantage both to the public and themselves, apply their understandings to domestic arts, and store their minds with axioms of humble prudence, and private economy.
Your late paper on frugality1 was very elegant and pleasing, but in my opinion not sufficiently adapted to common readers, who pay little regard to the music of periods, the artifice of connection, or the arrangement of the flowers of rhetoric; but require a few plain and cogent instructions, which may sink into the mind by their own weight.
Frugality is so necessary to the happiness of the world, so beneficial in its various forms to every rank of men, from the highest of human potentates, to the lowest labourer or artificer; and the miseries which the neglect of it produces are so numerous and so grievous, that it ought to be recommended with every variation of address, and adapted to every class of understanding.
Whether those who treat morals as a science will allow frugality to be numbered among the virtues, I have not thought it necessary to inquire. For I, who draw my opinions from a careful observation of the world, am satisfied with knowing what is abundantly sufficient for practice, that if it be not a virtue, it is, at least, a quality, which can seldom exist without some virtues, and without which few virtues can exist. Frugality may be termed the daughter of prudence, the sister 1 Rambler, No. 53.
of temperance, and the parent of liberty.1 He that is extravagant will quickly become poor, and poverty will enforce dependence, and invite corruption; it will almost always produce a passive compliance with the wickedness of others; and there are few who do not learn by degrees to practise those crimes which they cease to censure.2
If there are any who do not dread poverty as dangerous to virtue, yet mankind seem unanimous
1 Hume, in his Autobiography, writing of his early manhood, says: "I resolved to make a very rigid frugality supply my deficiency of fortune, to maintain unimpaired my independency, and to regard every object as contemptible, except the improvement of my talents in literature."
2 Goldsmith is earnest in his praise of that frugality which he never practised. Speaking of misers, he says:-"We find the sober and the industrious branded by the vain and the idle with this odious appellation. Men who by frugality and labour raise themselves above their equals, and contribute their share of industry to the common stock. Whatever the vain or the ignorant may say, well were it for society had we more of this character amongst us. In general these close men are found at last the true benefactors of society. With an avaricious man we seldom lose in our dealings, but too frequently in our commerce with prodigality."-The Bee. No. 3. In the fifth number he returns to the same subject. "There is not, perhaps, in the world a people less fond of this virtue than the English, and of consequence there is not a nation more restless, more exposed to the uneasiness of life, or less capable of providing for particular happiness." Writing to his brother, he says:-" Frugality, and even avarice in the lower orders of mankind are true ambition. These afford the only ladder for the poor to rise to preferment. Teach then, my dear Sir, to your son thrift and economy. Let his poor wandering uncle's example be placed before his eyes."-Prior's Life of Goldsmith, i. 300.
enough in abhorring it as destructive to happiness; and all to whom want is terrible, upon whatever principle, ought to think themselves obliged to learn the sage maxims of our parsimonious ancestors, and attain the salutary arts of contracting expence; for without frugality none can be rich, and with it very few would be poor.
To most other acts of virtue or exertions of wisdom, a concurrence of many circumstances is necessary, some previous knowledge must be attained, some uncommon gifts of nature possessed, or some opportunity produced by an extraordinary combination of things; but the mere power of saving what is already in our hands, must be easy of acquisition to every mind; and as the example of Bacon may shew, that the highest intellect cannot safely neglect it,1 a thousand instances will every day prove, that the meanest may practise it with success.
Riches cannot be within the reach of great numbers, because to be rich is to possess more than is commonly placed in a single hand; and,
1 Bacon wrote in his confession, "For extenuation I will use none concerning the matters themselves; only it may please your Lordships out of your nobleness to cast your eyes of compassion upon my person and estate. I was never noted for any avaritious man; and the Apostle saith that covetousness is the root of all evil. For my present estate it is so mean and poor as my care is now chiefly to satisfy my debts."-Bacon's Works, ed. 1803, iv. 546. He had laid down good rules of conduct. In his essay Of Expense, he says:-" Certainly who hath a state to repair may not despise small things; and, commonly, it is less dishonourable to abridge petty charges than to stoop to petty gettings."—Ib. ii. 322.