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the whole heap with incredible activity, recommended to every one his particular packet. The hurry and confusion at this time was not to be expressed. Some observations which I made upon the occasion, I shall communicate to the public. A venerable gray-headed man, who had laid down the cholic, and who, I found, wanted an heir to his estate, snatched up an undutiful son, who had been thrown into the heap by his angry father. The graceless youth, in less than a quarter of an hour, pulled the old gentleman by the beard, and had like to have knocked his brains out; so that, meeting the true father, who came towards him with a fit of the gripes, he begged him to take his son again, and give him back his cholic; but they were incapable either of them to recede from the choice they had made. A poor galley slave, who had thrown down his chains, took up the gout instead, but made such wry faces, that one might easily perceive he was no great gainer by the bargain. It was pleasant enough to see the several exchanges that were made, for sickness against poverty, hunger against want of appetite, and care against pain.
The female world were very busy among themselves in bartering for features: one was trucking a lock of grey hairs for a carbuncle; another was making over a short waist for a pair of round shoulders; and a third cheapening a bad face for a lost reputation: but on all these occasions there was not one of them who did not think the new blemish, as soon as she got it into her possession, much more disagreeable than the old one. I made the same observation on every other misfortune or calamity which every one in the assembly brought upon himself in lieu of what he had parted with; whether it be that all the evils which befall us are in some measure suited and proportioned to our strength, or that every evil becomes more supportable by our being accustomed to it, I shall not determine.
I could not from my heart forbear pitying the poor hump-backed gentleman mentioned before, who went off a very well shaped person with a stone in his bladder; nor the fine gentleman who had struck up this bargain with him, that limped through a whole assembly of ladies, who used to admire him, with a pair of shoulders peeping over his
I must not omit my own particular adventure. My friend with a long visage had no sooner taken upon him my short face, but he made such a grotesque figure in it, that as I looked upon him I could not
forbear laughing at myself, insomuch that I put my own face out of countenance. The poor gentleman was so sensible of the ridicule, that I found he was ashamed of what he had done; on the other side, I found that I myself had no great reason to triumph, for as I went to touch my forehead, I missed the place, and clapped my finger upon my upper lip. Besides, as my nose was exceeding prominent, I gave it two or three unlucky knocks, as I was playing my hand about my face, and aiming at some other part of it. I saw two other gentlemen by me, who were in the same ridiculous circumstances. These had made a foolish swap between a couple of thick bandy legs and two long trapsticks that had no calves to them. One of these looked like a man walking upon stilts, and was so lifted up into the air, above his ordinary height, that his head turned round with it; while the other made such awkward circles, as he attempted to walk, that he scarcely knew how to move forward upon his new supporters. Observing him to be a pleasant kind of fellow, I stuck my cane in the ground, and told him I would lay him a bottle of wine that he did not march up to it on a line that I drew for him in a quarter of an hour.
The heap was at last distributed among the two sexes, who made a most piteous sight as they wandered up and down under the pressure of their several burdens. The whole plain was filled with murmurs and complaints, groans and lamentations. Jupiter at length taking compassion on the poor mortals, ordered them a second time to lay down their loads, with a design to give every one his own again. They discharged themselves with a great deal of pleasure: after which, the phantom who had led them into such gross delusions, was commanded to disappear. There was sent in her stead a goddess of a quite different figure; her motions were steady and composed, and her aspect serious but cheerful. She every now and then cast her eyes towards heaven, and fixed them upon Jupiter. Her name was Patience. She had no sooner placed herself by the mount of sorrows, but, what I thought very remarkable, the whole heap sunk to such a degree, that it did not appear a third part so big as it was before. She afterwards returned every man his own proper calamity, and teaching him how to bear it in the most commodious manner, he marched off with it contentedly, being very well pleased that he had not been left to his own choice as to the kind of evils which fell to his lot.
Besides the several pieces of morality to be drawn out of this vision,
I learnt from it never to repine at my own misfortunes, or to envy the happiness of another, since it is impossible for any man to form a right judgment of his neighbour's sufferings; for which reason also I have determined never to think too lightly of another's complaints, but to regard the sorrows of my fellow creatures with sentiments of humanity and compassion.
119.-OF IMPROVING BY GOOD EXAMPLES.
O. FELTHAM. [OWEN FELTHAM was one of the most popular writers of the seventeenth century. In the present day he is well nigh forgotten. His principal work, the tenth impression of which, dated 1677, a small folio, is before us, is entitled Resolves.' It is a collection of essays, distinguished by acute thought and playful fancy-great knowledge of the world, and genial kindness of heart-sincere piety, and a cheerful temper. Of the personal history of Owen Feltham very little is known. He appears, from his own account, to have possessed a moderate independence, for he says: I have necessaries and what is decent, and, when I desire it, something for pleasure." He is supposed to have been born about the last year of the reign of Elizabeth, and to have lived till 1680.]
There is no man, but for his own interest, hath an obligation to be honest. There may be sometimes temptations to be otherwise; but all cards cast up, he shall find it the greatest ease, the highest profit, the best pleasure, the most safety, and the noblest fame, to hold the horns of this altar, which, in all assays, can in himself protect him. And though in the march of human life, over the stage of this world, a man shall find presented sometimes examples of thriving vice, and several opportunities to invite him upon a seeming advantage to close with unhandsome practices; yet, every man ought so to improve his progress in what is just and right, as to be able to discern the fraud and feigned pleasurableness of the bad, and to choose and follow what is good and warrantable. If any man shall object that the world is far more bad than good, so that the good man shall be sure to be overpowered by the evil; the case is long since resolved by Antisthenes,
that 'tis better with a few good men to fight against an army of bad, than with swarms and shoals of bad men, to have a few good men his enemies. And surely this was it which raised up David to that bravery of spirit which made him profess, that though an host were pitched against him, yet should not his heart be afraid. He that is entirely and genuinely honest, is the figure and representation of the Deity, that will draw down a protection upon it against all the injuries of any that shall dare to abuse it. There is a kind of talismanical influence in the soul of such. A more immediate impress of the Divinity is printed on the spirits of these, than all the scattered herd of looser minds are capable of. The rays of heaven do more perpendicularly strike upon the minds of these, whereby they have both assimilation to God, propensity to good, and defence against injury. And it not only obligeth men not to do wrong, but to make amends if wrong be done; and to dispense with benefits to ourselves, if in the least they shall bring detriment to others. So that a man, ought not only to restore what is unduly gotten, or unawares let slip by others, but to seek out how we may do right. Thus if I find a treasure, and know not him that lost it, I owe my endeavour to search and find him out, that it may be again restored. It is truly said by St. Augustine, "Quod invenisti et non reddidisti, rapuisti." He steals the thing he finds, that labours not to restore it. If he does not restore it, 'tis enough that he does not do it, only because he cannot.
And although no man be privileged to swerve from what is honest; yet some men have by much more obligation to be so than others. They have tasted of higher dispensations, been more deterred by judg ments, more gained upon by mercies, or are illuminated with more radiant knowledge, whereby they better understand than others wherein to be so. And indeed without knowledge it is impossible to understand wherein to do right. Though the best knowledge a man hath, be a light so dimly burning that it hardly shows him to see clearly all the cobwebs and foul corners in his affairs; yet ignorance is an opacious thing, and if not a total darkness, yet such an eclipse as makes us apt to stumble, and puts us to grope out our way.
And besides all these, there are some that have more reason to be honest than others, as having found dealings from others, that, like fire brought nearer, warms their conscience more; and not only
would be evidence and conviction against them if they did wrong, but stirs them up to do right.
And truly I shall not blush to tell my reader, that in the number of these, I look upon myself as concerned. Should I fail of being honest when advantage should be in my hand, I should not only be upbraided, but condemned by two especial passages that happened to myself, which for the rarity, may beget my pardon that here I set them down to be known. One was:
An unknown porter brings to me, at my lodgings, a box sealed up, and on the outside directed to myself, I inquired from whom he had it; he told me, a gentleman that was a stranger to him, and whose name or residence he knew not, gave it him in the street, and gave him sixpence to deliver it safely; which now he had done, and having discharged his part, he could give me no farther account. I opened the box, where the first thing I met with was a note written in a hand I knew not, without any name subscribed, in these very following words:
"Mr. Owen Feltham,-It was my hap in some dealing with you to wrong you of five pounds, which I do now repay double, humbly intreat ing you to forgive me that great wrong, and to pray the Lord to forgive me this, and the rest of my sins."
And under this note, folded in another paper in the same box, were ten twenty-shilling pieces in gold: I cannot call to mind that ever I was deceived of such a sum as five pounds in any kind of dealing, nor to this hour can I so much as guess at the person from whom it came. But I believe he did it to disburthen a conscience. And surely, if I knew him, I should return him an esteem suitable to the merit of so pious an action. And since he would not let me know his name to value him as he deserved, I have presumed to recite the thing, that others from the sense of it may learn to be honest, and himself reap the benefit that may happen by so good an example.
This perhaps might be from some one that not only professed but practised piety and the rules of honest living. And though I could not expect so much should be found among those that pretend not so high in religion; yet to show that even in looser callings, and as well now as in our Saviour's time, some (reckoned among publicans and sinners) may go to Heaven before the captious and critical censurist;