« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
upon trust; and, instead of consulting their owu taste and inclinations, they blindly adopt whatever those with whom they chiefly converse are pleased to call by the name of pleasure; and a man of pleasure, in the vulgar acceptation of that phrase, means only a beastly drunkard, an abandoned whoremaster, and a profligate swearer and curser. As it may be of use to you, I am not unwilling, though at the same time ashamed, to own that the vices of my youth proceeded much more from my silly resolution of being what I heard called a man of pleasure, than from my own inclinations. I always naturally hated drinking; and yet I have often drunk, with disgust at the time, attended by great sickness the next day, only because I then considered drinking as a necessary qualification for a fine gentleman and a man of pleasure. [March 27, 1747.]
GAMBLING.–The same as to gaming. I did not want money, and consequently had no occasion to play for it; but I thought play another necessary ingredient in the composition of a man of pleasure, and accordingly I plunged into it, without desire at first; sacrificed a thousand real pleasures to it; and made myself solidly uneasy by it for thirty the best years of I was even absurd enough, for a little while, to swear, by way of adorning and completing the shining character which I affected ; but this folly I soon laid aside upon finding both the guilt and the indecency of it.
Thus seduced by fashion, and blindly adopting nominal pleasures, I lost real ones; and my fortune impaired, and my constitution shattered, are, I must confess, the just punishment of my errors.
Take warning then by them; choose your pleasures for yourself, and do not let them be imposed upon you. Follow nature, and not fashion ; weigh the present enjoyment of your pleasures against the necessary consequences of them, and then let your own common-sense determine your choice. [Same date.]
A LIFE OF REAL PLEASURE.-Were I to begin the world again, with the experience which I now have of it, I would lead a life of real, not of imaginary pleasure. I would enjoy the pleasures of the table and of wine; but stop short of the pains inseparably annexed to an excess in either. I would not, at twenty years, be a preaching missionary of abstemiousness and sobriety; and I should let other people do as they would, without formally and sententiously rebuking them for it; but I would be most firmly resolved not to destroy my own faculties and constitution, in complaisance to those who have no regard to their own. I would play to give me pleasure, but not to give me pain ; that is, I would play for trifles, in mixed companies, to amuse myself, and conform to custom ; but I would take care not to venture for sums which, if I won, I should not be the better for ; but which, if I lost, I should deeply regret. [Same date.]
COARSE AND VULGAR PLEASURES.-Does good company care to have a man reeling drunk among them? Or to see another tearing his hair and blaspheming, for having lost at play more than he is able to pay ? Or a whoremaster with half a nose, and crippled by coarse and infamous debauchery? No; those who practise, and much more those who brag of them, make no part of good company; and are most unwillingly, if ever, admitted into it.
FASHIONABLE VICES.-A real man of fashion and pleasure observes decency; at least, neither borrows nor affects vices; and, if he unfortunately has any, he gratifies them with choice, delicacy, and secrecy. I have not mentioned the pleasures of the mind (which are the solid and permanent ones), because they do not come un
der the head of what people commonly call pleasures; which they seem to confine to the
The pleasure of virtue, of charity, and of learning is true and lasting pleasure ; which I hope you will be well and long acquainted with. Adieu ! [March, 1747.]
A FINE EDITION.—If I am rightly informed, I am now writing to a fine gentleman, in a scarlet coat laced with gold, a brocade waistcoat, and all other suitable ornaments. The natural partiality of every author for his own works, makes me very glad to hear that Mr. Harte has thought this last edition of mine worth so fine a binding; and, as he has bound it in red, and
upon the back, I hope he will take care that it shall be lettered too. A showish binding attracts the eyes, and engages the attention of everybody; but with this difference, that women, and men who are like women, mind the binding more than the book, whereas men of sense and learning immediately examine the inside, and, if they find that it does not answer the finery on the outside, they throw it by with the greater indignation and contempt. I hope that when this edition of my works shall be opened and read, the best judges will find connection, consistency, solidity, and spirit in it. Mr. Harte may recensere and emendare as much as he pleases; but it will be to little purpose if you do not co-operate with him. The work will be imperfect. [April 3, O. S., 1747.]
Two KINDS OF SALT.-Swiss salt is, I dare say, very good, yet I am apt to suspect it falls a little short of the true Attic salt, in which there was a peculiar quickness and delicacy. The same Attic salt seasoned all Greece; a great deal of it was exported afterwards to Rome, where it was counterfeited by a composition called urbanity, which, in some time, was brought to very near the perfection of the original Attic salt. The more you are powdered with these two kinds of salt the better you will keep, and the more you will be relished. [April, 1747. ]
ONE THING AT TIME.-If at a ball, a supper, or a party of pleasure, a man were to be solving, in his own mind, a problem in Euclid, he would be a very bad companion, and make a very poor figure in that company; or if, in studying a problem in his closet, he were to think of a minuet, I am apt to believe that he would make a very poor mathematician. There is time enough for every thing in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once ; but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time. [Same date.]