Page images


Quamvis digressu veteris confusus amici,
Laudo tamen

Juv. Sat, iii. 1.
Though griev'd at the departure of my friend,
His purpose of retiring I commend.


*I BELIEVE most people begin the world with a resolution to withdraw from it into a serious kind of solitude or retirement, when they have made themselves easy in it. Our unhappiness is, that we find out some excuse or other for deferring such our good resolutions till our intended retreat is cut off by death. But among all kinds of people, there are none who are so hard to part with the world, as those who are grown old in the heaping up of riches. Their minds are so warped with their constant attention to gain, that it is very difficult for them to give their souls another bent, and convert them towards those objects, which, though they are proper for every stage of life, are so more especially for the last. Horace describes an old usurer as so charmed with the pleasures of a country life, that in order to make a purchase he called in all his money; but what was the event of it? why, in a very few days after he put it out again. I am engaged in this series of thought by a discourse which I had last week with my worthy friend Sir Andrew Freeport, a man of so much natural eloquence, good sense, and probity of mind, that I always hear him with a particular pleasure. As we were sitting together, being the sole remaining members of our club, Sir Andrew gave me an account of the many busy scenes of life in which he had been engaged, and at the same time reckoned up to me abundance of those lucky hits, which at another time he

* This paper is not so well written as might be expected from Mr. Addison, on so critical an occasion, as that of winding up the plot of tho Spectator. Yet, on the whole, it might possibly be his.-H.

would have called pieces of good fortune; but in the temper of mind he was then," he termed them mercies, favours of Provi. dence, and blessings upon an honest industry. “Now, (says he,) you must know, my good friend, I am so used to consider myself as creditor and debtor, that I often state my accounts after the same manner, with regard to heaven and my own soul. In this case, when I look upon the debtor-side, I find such innumerable articles, that I want arithmetic to cast them up; but when I look upon the creditor-side, I find little more than blank

paper Now, though I am very well satisfied that

is not in my power to balance accounts with my Maker, I am resolved, however, to turn all my future endeavours that


You must not therefore be surprised, my friend, if you hear that I am betaking my. self to a more thoughtful kind of life, and if I meet you no more in this place.'

I could not but approve so good a resolution, notwithstanding the loss I shall suffer by it. Sir Andrew has since explained himself to me more at large in the following letter, which is just


come to



“Good Mr. SPECTATOR, “ NotwitHSTANDING my friends at the club have always rallied me when I have talked of retiring from business, and repeated to me one of my own sayings, ' That a merchant has never enough till he has got a little more; ' I can now inform you, that there is one in the world who thinks he has enough, and is determined to pass the remainder of his life in the enjoyment of what he has. You know me so well, that I need not tell you, I mean, by the enjoyment of my possessions, the making of them

* In the temper of mind he was then. Elliptically expressed, for-in the temper of mind in whạch he was then.- We sometimes take this liberty in the familiar style.-H.

VOL. V].-25

useful to the public. As the greatest part of my estate has been hitherto of an unsteady and volatile nature, either tost upon seas or fluctuating in funds; it is now fixed and settled in substantial acres and tenements. I have removed it from the uncertainty of stocks, winds, and waves, and disposed of it in a considerable purchase. This will give me great opportunity of being charitable in my way, that is, in setting my poor neighbours to work, and giving them a comfortable subsistence out of their own industry. My gardens, my fish-ponds, my arable and pasture grounds shall be my several hospitals, or rather workhouses, in which I propose to maintain a great many indigent persons, who are now starving in my neighbourhood. I have got a fine spread of improvable lands, and in my own thoughts am already ploughing up some of them, fencing others; planting woods, and draining marshes. In fine, as I have my share in the surface of this island, I am resolved to make it as beautiful a spot as any in her Majesty's dominions; at least there is not an inch of it which shall not be cultivated to the best advantage, and do its utmost for its owner. As in my mercantile employ. ment, I so disposed of my affairs, that from whatever corner of the compass the wind blew, it was bringing home one or other of my ships; I hope, as a husbandman, to contrive it so, that not a shower of rain, or a glimpse of sunshine shall fall upon my estate without bettering some part of it, and contributing to the products of the season. You know that it has been hitherto my opinion of life, that it is thrown away when it is not some way useful to others. But when I am riding out by myself, in the fresh air on the open heath that lies by my house, I find several other thoughts growing up in me. I am now of opinion, that a man of my age may find business enough on himself, by setting his mind in order, preparing it for another world, and reconciling it to the thoughts of death. I must therefore acquaint you, that

besides those usual methods of charity, of which I have before spoken, I am at this very instant finding out a convenient place where I may build an almshouse, which I intend to endow very handsomely, for a dozen superannuated husbandmen. It will be a great pleasure to me to say my prayers twice a day with men of my own years, who all of them, as well as myself, may have their thoughts taken up how they shall die, rather than how they shall live. I remember an excellent saying that I learned at school, finis coronat opus.

You know best whether it be in Virgil or in Horace, it is my business to apply it. If your affairs will permit you to take the country air with me sometimes, you shall find an apartment fitted up for you, and shall be every day entertained with beef or mutton of my own feeding; fish out of my own ponds; and fruit out of my own gardens. You shall have free egress and regress about my house, without having any questions asked you, and, in a word, such a hearty welcome as you may expect from " Your most sincere friend and humble servant,


The club, of which I am a member, being entirely dispersed, I shall consult my reader next week, upon a project relating to the institution of a new one.



Quid dignum tanto feret hic promissor hiatu ?

Ilor. Ars Poct. 185.

In what will all this ostentation end ?


Since the late dissolution of the club," whereof I have often declared myself a member, there are very many persons who, by letters, petitions, and recommendations, put up for the next election. At the same time I must complain that several indirect and underhand practices have been made use of upon

this occasion. A certain country gentleman begun to tap upon the first information he received of Sir Roger's death ; when he sent me up word, that if I would get him chosen in the place of the deceased, he would present me with a barrel of the best October I had ever drank in


life. The ladies are in great pain to know whom I intend to elect in the room of Will Honeycomb. Some of them indeed are of opinion that Mr. Honeycomb did not take sufficient care of their interests in the club, and are therefore desirous of having in it hereafter a representative of their own sex. A citizen who subscribes himself Y. Z. tells me that he has one and twenty shares in the African company, and offers to bribe me with the odd one in case he may succeed Sir Andrew Freeport, which he thinks would raise the credit of that fund. I have several letters, dated from Jenny Man's, by gentlemen who are candidates for Captain Sentry's place, and as many from a coffeehouse in Paul's Church-yard of such who would fill up the

* It was very injudicious (and certainly, therefore, not Mr. Addison's advice) to continue this paper, after the dissolution of the club. The drama was naturally at an end, when the characters disappeared : and much of the grace and spirit of this work depended on the dramatic air which those characters bestowed upon it. What should we think of a supplemental act to a play, when the story was concluded 1-H.

In the place of the deceased. Better, into the place.-H. c Of such who. The correlative of such, is sometimes who, but more

« PreviousContinue »