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MEN BLIND TO THEIR HAPPINESS.
Qui fit, Mecenas, ut nemo, quam sibi sortem
est, Solos felices viventes clamat in urbe. Cætera de genere hoc (adeo sunt multa) loqua.
cem Delassare valent Fabium. Ne te morer audi Quo rem deducam. Si quis Deus, en ego, dicat, Jam faciam quod vultis : eris tu, qui modo,
miles, Mercator : tu consultus modo, rusticus. Hinc
Not to detain you longer, pray attend
The issue of all this; should Jove descend, And grant to every man his rash demand, To run his lengths with a neglectful hand : First, grant the harass'd warrior a release, Bid him go trade, and try the faithless seas, To purchase treasure and declining ease: Next call the pleader from his learned strife, To the calm blessings of a country life: And, with these separate demands dismiss Each suppliant to enjoy the promis'd bliss: Don't you believe they'd run? Not one will move, Though proffer'd to be happy from above.
IT is a celebrated thought of Socrates, that if all the
misfortunes of mankind were cast into a public stock, in order to be equally distributed among the whole species, those who now think themselves the most unhappy, would prefer the share they are already possessed of, before that which would fall to them by such a division. Horace has carried this thought a great deal further in the motto of my paper, which implies that the hardships or misfortunes we lie ander, are more easy to us than those of any other person would be, in case we could change conditions with him.
As I was ruminating on these two remarks, and seated in my elbow-chair, I insensibly fell asleep; when, on a sudden, methought there was a proclamation made by Jupiter, that every mortal should bring in his griefs and calamities, and throw them together in a heap. There was a large plain appointed for this purpose. I took my stand in the centre of it, and saw with a great deal of pleasure the whole human species marching one after another, and throwing down their several loads, which immediately grew up into a prodigious mountain, that seemed to rise above the clouds.
There was a certain lady of a thin airy shape, who was very active in this solemnity. She carried a mag. nifying glass in one of her hands, and was clothed in a
loose flowing robe, embroidered with several figures of fiends and spectres, that discovered themselves in a thousand chimerical shapes, as her garment hovered in the wind. There was something wild and distracted in her looks. Her name was Fancy. She led up every mortal to the appointed place, after having very ofliciously assisted him in making up his pack, and laying it upon his shoulders. My heart melted within me to see my fellow-creatores groaning under their respective burdens, and to consider that prodigious bulk of human calamities which lay before me.
There were however several persons who gave me great diversion upon this occasion. I observed one bringing in a fardel very carefully concealed under an old embroidered cloak, which, upon his throwing it into the heap, I discovered to be poverty. Another, after a great deal of puffing, threw down his luggage, which, upon examining, I found to be his wife.
There were multitudes of lovers saddled with very whimsical burdens composell of darts and fames: but what was very odd, though they sighed as if their hearts wonld break under these bandles of calamities, they could not persuade themselves to cast them into the heap, when they came up to it; but, after a few faint efforts, shook their heads and marched away, as heavy loaden as they came. I saw multitudes of old women throw down their wrinkles, and several young ones who stripped themselves of a tawny skin. There were very great heaps of red noses, large lips, and rusty teeth. The truth of it is, I was surprised to see the greatest part of the mountain made up of bodily deformities. Observing one advancing towards the heap, with a larger cargo than ordinary upon bis back, I found upon his near approach that it was only a na. tural hump, which he disposed of, with great joy of heart, among this collection of human miseries. There were likewise distempers of all sorts, though I could not but observe, that there were many more imaginary than real. One little packet I could not but take no
tice of, which was a complication of all the diseases in. cident to human nature, and was in the hand of a great many fine people: this was called the Spleen. But what most of all surprised me was a remark I made, that there was not a single vice or folly thrown into the whole heap: at which I was very much astovished, having concluded within myself, that every one would take this opportunity of getting rid of his passions, prejudices, and frailties.
I took notice in particular of a very profligate fel. low, who I did not question came loaded with his crimes; but upon searching into his bundle, I found that instead of throwing his guilt from him, he had only laid down his memory. He was followed by another worthless rogue, who flung away his modesty instead of his ignorance.
When the whole race of mankind had thus cast their burdens, the phantom which had been so busy on this occasion, seeing me an idle spectator of what had passed, approached towards me. I grew uneasy at her presence, when of a sudden she held her magnifying glass full before my eyes. I uo sooner saw my face in it, but was startled at the shortness of it, which now appeared to me in its utmost aggravation. The immoderate breadth of the features made me very much out of humour with my own countenance, upon which I threw it from me like a mask. It happened very luckily, that one who stood by me had just before thrown down his visage, which, it seems, was too long for him. It was indeed extended to a most shameful length; I believe the very chin was, modestly speaking, as long as my whole face. We had both of us an opportunity of mending ourselves; and all the contributions being now brought in, every man was at liberty to exchange his misfortunes for those of another person.
As we stood round the beap, and surveyed the se. veral materials of which it was composed, there was scarce a mortal in this vast multitude, who did not disa cover what he thought pleasures and blessings of life; and wondered how the owners of them ever came to look upon them as burdens and grievances.
As we were regarding very attentively this confusion of miseries, this chaos of calamity, Jupiter issued out a second proclamation, that every one was now at liberty to exchange his affliction, and to return to his habitation with any such other bundle as should be de livered to him.
Upon this, Fancy began again to bestir herself, and parcelling out the whole heap with incredible activity, recommending to every one bis particular packet. The harry and confusion at this time was not to be ex preesed. Some observations, which I made upon the occasion, I shall communicate to the public. A venerable grey-beaded man, who had laid down the cholic, and who, I found, wanted an heir to his estate, snatched up an undutiful son, that had been thrown into the beap 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 ont; so that the true father, who came to. wards 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 he had made. A poor galley-slave, who had thrown down his chains, took up the gout in their stead, but made sach 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, bunger 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 bairs 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 svou as she bad got it