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Some, to make themselves considerable, pursue learning; others grasp at wealth; some aim at being thought witty; and others are only careful to make the most of a handsome person; but what is wit, or wealth, or form, or learning, when compared with virtue? It is true, we love the handsome, we applaud the learned, and we fear the rich and powerful; but we even worship and adore the virtuous. Nor is it strange; since men of virtue are so rare, so very rare to be found. If we were as industrious to become good as to make ourselves great, we should become really great by being good, and the number of valuable men would be much increased; but it is a grand mistake to think of being great without goodness; and I pronounce it as certain, that there was never yet a truly great man, that was not at the same time truly virtuous.
O Cretico! thou sour philosopher! thou cunning statesman! thou art crafty, but far from beingwise.' When wilt thou be esteemed, regarded, and beloved like Cato? When wilt thou, among thy creatures, meet with that unfeigned respect and warm good-will that all men have for him? Wilt thou never understand, that the cringing, mean, submissive deportment of thy dependants, is (like the worship paid by Indians to the devil) rather through fear of the harm thou mayest do them, than out of gratitude for the favors they have received of thee? Thou art not wholly void of virtue; there are many good things in thee, and many good actions reported of thee. Be advised by thy friend: neglect those musty authors; let them be covered with dust, and moulder on their proper shelves; and do thou apply thyself to a study much more profitable—the study of mankind and thyself.
This is to give notice, that the Busy-Body strictly forbids all persons, from this time forward, of what age, sex, rank, quality, degree, or denomination soever, on any pretence, to inquire who is the author of this paper, on pain of his displeasure (his own near and dear relations only excepted). It is to be observed, that if any bad characters happen to be drawn in these papers, they mean no particular person, if they are not particularly applied.
Likewise, that the author is no party-man, but a general meddler.
N. B. Cretico lives in a neighboring province.
THE BUSY-BODY.—NO. IV.
From Tuesday, February 18, to Tuesday, February 25, ,: ,. 1728—9.
Nc quid nimis.
In my first paper I invited the learned and the ingenious to join with me in this undertaking, and I now repeat that invitation. I would have such gentlemen take this opportunity (by trying their talent in writing) of diverting themselves and friends, and improving the taste of the town. And because I would encourage all wit of our own growth and produce, I hereby promise, that whoever shall send me a little essay on some moral or other subject, that is fit for public view in this manner, (and not basely borrowed from any other author) I shall receive it with candor, and take care to place it to the best advantage. It will be hard if we cannot muster up in the whole country a sufficient stock of sense to supply the Busy-Body at least for a twelvemonth. For my own part, I have already professed, that I have the good of my country wholly at heart in this design, without the least sinister view; my chief purpose being to inculcate the noble principles of virtue, and deprecate vice of every kind. But as I know the mob hate instruction, and the generality would never read beyond the first line of my lectures, if they were actually filled with nothing but wholesome precepts and advice, I must therefore sometimes humor them in their own way. There are a set of great names in the province, who are the common objects of popular dislike. If I can now and then overcome my reluctance, and prevail with myself to satirise a little one of these gentlemen, the expectation of meeting with such a gratification will induce many to read me through, who would otherwise proceed immediately to the foreign news. As I am very well assured the greatest men among us have a sincere love for their country, notwithstanding its ingratitude, and the insinuations of the envious and malicious to the contrary, so I doubt not but they will cheerfully tolerate me in the liberty I design to take for the end above mentioned.
As yet I have but few correspondents, though they begin now to increase. The following letter, left for me at the printer's, is one of the first I have received, which I regard the more for that it comes from one of the fair sex, and because I have myself oftentimes suffered under the grievance therein complained of.
TO THE BUSY-BODY.
"You having set yourself up for a censurer morum, (as I think you call it) which is said to mean a reformer of manners, I know no person more proper to be applied to for redress in all the grievances we suffer from want of manners in some people. You must know I am a single woman, and keep a shop in this town for a livelihood. There is a certain neighbor of mine, who is really agreeable company enough, and with whom I have had an intimacy of some time standing; but of late she makes her visits so exceedingly often, and stays so very long every visit, that I am tired out of all patience. I have no manner of time at all to myself; and you, who seem to be a wise man, must needs be sensible that every person has little secrets and privacies, that are not proper to be exposed even to the nearest friend. Now I cannot do the least thing in the world, but she must know about it; and it is a wonder I have found an opportunity to write you this letter. My misfortune is, that I respect her very well, and know not how to disoblige her so much as to tell her I should be glad to have less of her company; for if I should once hint such a thing, I am afraid she would resent it so as never to darken my door again. But alas, sir, 1 have not yet told you half my affliction. She has two children that are just big enough to run about and do pretty mischief: these are continually along with mamma, either in my room or shop, if I have ever so many customers or people with me about business. Sometimes they pull the goods off my low"shelves down to the ground, and perhaps where one of them has just been making water. My friend takes up the stuff, and cries, "Oh! thou little wicked/mischievous rogue! But, however, it has done no great damage; it is only wet a little:v and so puts it upon the shelf again. Sometimes they get to my cask of nails behind the counter, and divert themselves, to my great vexation, with mixing my ten-penny, and eight-penny, and • four-penny, together. I endeavor to conceal my uneasiness as much as possible, and with a grave look go to