Page images
PDF
EPUB

next to a Miracle. Nature contents it self with a little Food, and less moistening the Clay. She takes more Pleasure in that which is plain, fimple or wholesome for the Body, than in all the full-fowing Bowls, magnificent Varieties, and nice Delicacies at voluptuous Feasts or vicious Banquets. Necesity can be no just plea for any Excess, either in Eating or Drinking against the Rules of Moderation, or good Health 'Tis true; the Body requires Nourishment, but no Superfluities. What satisfies Nature, upon the Craving, is sufficicnt. Necessaries of Life, thank God ! are very common. They grow almost under every Hedge in the Country, or Garden in the Town, ao bounding with Plenty. Corn is cheap; Herbs of the Field are cheaper, and Water is the cheapest of all, in the Comparison. A good Stomach, by Virtue of Contentment, can make a Feast of Bread and Water ; with Fruits, Roots, or other natural Productions, upon an urgent Necessity. Some Princes have been driven to greater Wants, Streights or Extremities, both of Thirst and Hunger; and yet have regal'd themselves with worse Things a great deal than costly Dimes, fumptuous Novelties, delicious Rarities, racy Wines, or even fáir Water: without doing the least Prejudice t5 their Honour, and Damage to their Health, either by the Courseness of their Diet, or the Cheapness of their Drink. However, when there happens to be Plenty enough, in a Family, without Profusion; not to pinch the Body on the one Hand, nor to pamper it on the other, must needs be the healthfullest Way of Living, like rational Creatures, as well as hospitable and liberal Entertainers of the

Needy. Needy. Such as these wise, frugal, generous House-Keepers, will always be the greatest Relievers of the poor Lazarus's of the World ! But pleasing of Palates with Niceties and Kickshaws, either of a Foreign or Domestick Mode, is only poyroning of Conftitutions, or surfeiting Nature !

·LET us therefore not repine; but make a right Use, Application and Advantage of our Poverty in all Cafes, according to the best Instruction of the Antient Sages or Moral Philofa. phers : and then we thall go near to remember our Misery no more; or think it no great Un. happiness, in the Main, to be poor. Poverty well apply'd, carries along with it abundance of Benefits and Blesings. It contains a World of Learning and Felicity. It is, as Diogenes said, a great Help to Philosophy. It teaches us Frugality, Sobriety, and several other Virtues, both religious and moral. Infomuch that the Fear of falling into Poverty, or Want, is reckon'd by the Wife, a most ridiculous and ground lefs Error in ludgmcnt. 'Tis like Children's crying out before the Evil comes; before ever they are hurt. It commonly anticipates the Punishment, or helps on the Rod of Correction apace. How highly absurd and unreasonable is it for the poor to think themselves less happy than the Rich ; either less fortunate in life, or less legitimate by Birth! Much more injurious is it to divino Providence, to believe themselves to be only the Bastards of ill Luck, or the By-Blows of blind Chance. They have the same Title equal with the richest Wordlings, or wealthiest Money. Changers, to all the glorious Felicities of the King. dom of Heaven. They often meet with fewer

Hin

f good Thing unmercenary be compa

Hindrances, Avocations or Interruptions, as well as less Difficulty and Disturbance upon Earth, in attaining to those blissful Mansions Above. They are blest with the same special Grace, if not often greater, by the Gift of Contentment; to advance their Contemplation of Celestial Things, and exalt their Meditation of Immortality (looner or latter) into full Fru.. ition. The Poor frequently have a better. Portion of good Things than the Rich, in this spiritualiz'd Sense and unmercenary Acceptation. For these Transitory cannot be comparable to those permanent Treasures. Riches are only the Chains and Racks and Torments of some People's Souls. They are Self-Tormenters in Deed; who make money their God, and are always punish'd by their own Idolatry! What Happiness can useless Wealth afford the covetous Miser above the meaner sort of poor People ; but Pride, Insolence and Oftentation, as Lactantius wisely observes ? Poverty will ever have the Preference of Covetousness, and the Preheminence of Riches, among the virtuous Despisers of this World. . BUT nothing can be more charmingly inftructive than the Descriptions, which the wise Moralists give us of the inexpressible Advantages of Poverty. She is the Mistress of Manners, says Aristophanes. She is the Nurse of Abstinence, says Archefilaus. She is the Companion of Wisdom and Contentation, says Euripides. Menander says, the Poor are under the Protection of God. Better is a little with joy, than a great deal of Pelf with Sorrow in the Possessim on. 'Tis but making a Virtue of Necessity; and any healthful industrious Man may live well enough, to his Heart's Content. Poverty is

'the

the School of Virtue, Knowledge and Diligence, in a Word. It desires no great Wealth, and therefore does not want it in Abundance. It gives to the Spirit, Alacrity ; to the Wit, Acuteness ; and to the Understanding, Vigour. It adds an uncommon Liveliness even to Life it self; when it is rightly usd in the Study of Philosophy, Temperance and Justice. In mort, it inriches à Man with the Treasures of Religion, Wisdom and Tranquillity in the Injoyment of a good Conscience. It renders him safe and secure in all Dangers, Difficulties or Disasters; while the Rich, on the other Hand, are not in their own Power, but in Fortune's Clutches, or at the Disposal of Chance : expos’d to all the sudden Accidents of Loss and Labour-in-Vain. Bion the Wise formerly introduc'd Poverty, disputing the Case, and arguing the Difference ingeniously with a Disciple of Philosophy, to this purport. 6. Have I roo" bed thee of any Thing? Have 1 done thee any Injury or Injustice? Have I depriv'd chee of « Prudence, Justice or Fortitude ? Have I taken " from thee any Necessaries of Life? Are not " the Ways full of Herbs, Fruits, and Fountains of Water Hast thou not as many Beds as " the Earth can contain, and as many Coverlets or Mattresses as there are Leaves ; besides Hay " and Straw? Have not 1 provided the best " Cook for thee; that is, Hunger ? Have not I

given thee a greater Pleasure in Drinking, when thou art a-thirsty ? Fear not any Want, my Philosopher ! Dost think a Man Mall die

for Hunger, because he has no Tarts at his Tao u ble; or of Thirst, because he has no delicate Wine cool'd with Snow in his power? Such *** Things are only unnecessary Niceties. In fire,

bow

« homo canst thou want a House or a Lodging ; « when there are so many goodly Churches and 6 stately Fabricks in our Cities and Suburbs ? This ingenuous Moral Expostulation seems to deserve our most serious Reflexion, and to be very worthy of an Answer in Favour of a wellstudy'd and cultivated Poverty. As for the glorious Examples of this Virtue, it would be tedious to recount them from History. 1° will be sufficient then here to mention the famous Testimonies of Aristides, the Just; who left not Money enough behind him for his Burial, by his upright Dealing : of Ženo, the Patient; who after all his great Losses became the greater Philosopher, by his Long-suffering : of Lycurgus, the Lineral ; who spent his All for the Good of his Country, by his Generosity: of Diogenes, the Contented; who thought himself happier in his Tub, than Alexander on the Throne, by his Equanimity: of Cleanthes, the Laborious who daily turn'd a Milftone about to get his Living, and support his Studies of Learning, by his Industry: of Pythagoras, the Abstemi. ous; who always liv'd upon a spare Diet, of Fruits and Herbs, instead of Bread, by his Temperance; and of Menedemus, the Indefatia gable, who wrought hard every Day to maintain his Lucubrations of Wisdom at Night, by: his Labour : All of them thus thriving and fourishing upon their Poverty, with the greate est Applause, Contentation and Felicity. What need I name any more illustrious Instances of Self. Denial in the mightiest, and Magnanimity in the meanest Circumstances ? All Discontentment, Deficiency, or Indigence, consists in the Delire only ; or in a fanciful Apprehension, and disturb’d imagination of future Contingencies,

out

ous is and Herbs. of Menedemery Day to ma by

Lois Lucubraught hard armus, the' ln by his

« PreviousContinue »