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periments of a more ludicrous nature, by one of which I found that an English octavo was very often heavier than a French folio; and by another, that an old Greek or Latin author weighed down a whole library of moderns. Seeing one of my Spectators lying by me, I laid it into one of the scales, and flung a twopenny piece into the other. The reader will not inquire into the event, if he remembers the first trial which I have recorded in this paper. .
I afterwards threw both the sexes into the balance; but as it is not for my interest to disoblige either of them, I shall desire to be excused from telling the result of this experiment. Having an opportunity of this nature in my hands, I could not forbear throwing into one scale the principles of a tory, and in the other those of a whig; but as I have all along declared this to be a neutral paper, I shall likewise desire to be silent under this head also, though upon examining one of the weights, I saw the word TEKEL engraven on it in capital letters.
I made many other experiments, and though I have not room for them all in this day's speculation, I may perhaps reserve them for another. I shall only add, that upon my awaking I was sorry to find my golden scales vanished, but resolved for the future to learn this lesson from them, not to despise or value any things for their appearances, but to regulate my esteem and passions towards them according to their real and intrinsic value.
No. 464. FRIDAY, AUGUST 22.
Auream quisiquis mediocritatem
Hor. 2 Od. x. 5.
I am wonderfully pleased when I meet with any passage in an old Greek or Latin author, that is not blown upon," and which I have never met with in any quotation. Of this kind is a beautiful saying in Theognis; Vice is covered by wealth, and virtue by poverty ; ' or to give it in the verbal translation, ' Among men there are some who have their vices concealed by wealth, and others who have their virtues concealed by poverty. Every man's observation will supply him with instances of rich men, who have several faults and defects that are overlooked, if not entirely hidden, by means of their riches; and, I think, we cannot find a more natural description of a poor man, whose merits are lost in his poverty, than that in the words of the wise man.
There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he, by his wisdom, delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.
Then said I, wisdom is better than strength; nevertheless, the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.'
* Blown upor. A metaphor from flowers, which, being breathed and blown upon, lose at once their fragrance and lustre. It is prettily applied here to a beautiful saying (which is a flower of discourse) flattened and tarnished by the public broath, i. e. frequent quotation.-II.
Chremylus, who was an old and a good man, and withal exceeding poor, being desirous to leave some riches to his son, consults the oracle of Apollo upon the subject. The oracle bids him follow the first man he should see upon his going out of the temple. The person he chances to see was to appearance an old sordid blind man, but upon his following him from place to place, he at last found by his own confession, that he was Plutus the god of riches, and that he was just come out of the house of a miser. Plutus further told him, that when he was a boy he used to declare, that as soon as he came to age, he would distribute wealth to none but virtuous and just men; upon which Jupiter, considering the pernicious consequences of such a resolution, took his sight away from him, and left him to stroll about the world in the blind condition wherein Chremylus beheld him. With much ado Chremylus prevailed upon him to go to his house, where he met an old woman in a tattered raiment, who had been his guest for many years, and whose name was Poverty. The old woman refusing to turn out so easily as he would have her, he threatened to banish her not only from his own house, but out of all Greece, if she made any more words upon the matter. Poverty on this occasion pleads her cause very notably, and represents to her old landlord, that should she be driven out of the country, all their trades, arts, and sciences, would be driven out with her; and that if every one was rich, they would never be supplied with these pomps, ornaments, and conveniencies of life which made riches desirable. She likewise represented to him the several advantages which she bestowed upon her votaries, in regard to their shape, their health, and their activity, by preserving them from gouts, dropsies, unwieldiness, and intemperance. But whatever she had to say for herself, she was at last forced to troop off. Chremylus immediately considered how he might restore Plutus to his sight; and in order to it conveyed him to the temple of
Æsculapius, who was famous for cures and miracles of this nature. By this means the deity recovered his eyes, and began to make a right use of them, by enriching every one that was distinguished by piety towards the gods, and justice towards men; and at the same time by taking away his gifts from the impious and undeserving. This produces several merry incidents, 'till in the last act Mercury descends with great complaints from the gods, that since the good men were growing rich, they had received no sacrifices, which is confirmed by a priest of Jupiter, who enters with a remonstrance, that since this late innovation he was reduced to a starving condition, and could not live upon his office. Chremylus, who in the beginning of the play was religious in his poverty, concludes it with a proposal which was relished by all the good men who were now grown rich as well as himself, that they should carry Plutus in a solemn procession to the temple, and instal him in the place of Jupiter. This allegory instructed the Athenians in two points; first, as it vindicated the conduct of Providence in its ordinary distributions of wealth ; and in the next place, as it shewed the great tendency of riches to corrupt the morals of those who possessed them.