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of existence; and if he is content with his own character, must owe his satisfaction to insensibility.
Thus it appears that the satirist advised rightly, when he directed us to resign ourselves to the hands of Heaven, and to leave to superior powers the determination of our lot:
Permittes ipfis expendere Numinibus, quid
What state of life admits most happiness, is uncertain ; but that uncertainty ought to repress the petulance of comparison, and silence the murmurs of discontent.
NUMB. 115. TUESDAY, December 11, 1753.
Scribimus indocti doctique.
THEY who have attentively considered the
1 history of mankind, know that every age has its peculiar character. At one time, no desire is felt but for military honours; every summer affords battles and sieges, and the world is filled with ravage, bloodshed, and devastation: this fanguinary fury at length subfides, and nations are divided into factions, by controversies about points that will never be decided. Men then grow weary of debate and altercation, and apply themselves to the arts of profit; trading companies are formed, manufactures improved, and navigation extended; and nothing is any longer thought on, but the increase and preservation of property, the artifices of getting money, and the pleasures of spending it.
The present age, if we consider chiefly the state of our own country, may be stiled with great propriety The age of Authors; for, perhaps, there never was a time in which men of all degrees of ability, of every kind of education, of every profession and employment, were posting with ardour so general to the press. The province of writing was formerly left to
those, who by study, or appearance of study, were fupposed to have gained knowledge unattainable by the busy part of mankind; but in these enlightened days, every man is qualified to instruct every other man; and he that beats the anvil, or guides the plough, not content with supplying corporal neceflities, amuses himself in the hours of leisure with providing intellectual pleasures for his countrymen.
It may be observed, that of this, as of other evils, complaints have been made by every generation : but though it may, perhaps, be true, that at all times more have been willing than have been able to write, yet there is no reason for believing that the dogmatical legions of the present race were ever equalled in number by any former period; for so widely is spread the itch of literary praise, that almost every man is an author, either in act or in purpose; has either bestowed his favours on the publick, or withholds them, that they may be more feasonably offered, or made more worthy of acceptance.
In former times, the pen, like the sword, was considered as consigned by nature to the hands of men; the ladies contented themselves with private virtues and domestick excellence; and a female writer, like a female warrior, was considered as a kind of eccentric being, that deviated, however illustriously, from her due sphere of motion, and was, therefore, rather to be gazed at with wonder, than countenanced by imitation. But as the times paft are faid to have been a pation of Amazons,' who drew. the
bow and wielded the battle-axe, formed encampments and wasted nations; the revolution of years has now produced a generation of Amazons of the pen, who with the spirit of their predecessors have set masculine tyranny at defiance, asserted their claim to the regions of science, and seem resolved to contest the usurpations of virility.
Some, indeed, there are of both sexes, who are authors only in desire, but have not yet attained the power of executing their intentions; whole performances have not arrived at bulk sufficient to form a volume, or who have not the confidence, however impatient of nameless obscurity, to solicit openly the affiftance of the printer. Among these are the innumerable correspondents of publick papers, who are always offering assistance which no man will receive, and suggesting hints that are never taken, and who complain loudly of the perverseness and arro: gance of authors, lament their insensibility of their own interest, and fill the coffee-houses with dark ftories of performances by eminent hands, which have been offered and rejected.
To what cause this universal eagerness of writing can be properly ascribed, I have not yet been able to discover. It it said, that every art is propagated in proportion to the rewards conferred upon it; a position from which a stranger would naturally infer, that literature was now blessed with patronage far transcending the candour or munificence of the Augustine age, that the road to greatness was open to none bụt authors, and that by writing alone riches and honour were to be obtained,
But since it is true, that writers, like other competitors, are very little disposed to favour one another, it is not to be expected, that at a time, when every man writes, any man will patronize; and, accordingly, there is not one that I can recollect at present who professes the least regard for the votaries of science, invites the addresses of learned men, or seems to hope for reputation from any pen but his own.
The cause, therefore, of this epidemical conspiracy for the destruction of paper, must remain a secret: nor can I discover, whether we owe it to the influences of the constellations, or the intemperature of seasons: whether the long continuance of the wind at any single point, or intoxicating vapours exhaled from the earth, have turned our nobles and our peasants, our soldiers and traders, our men and women, all into wits, philosophers, and writers.
It is, indeed, of more importance to search out the cure than the cause of this intellectual malady; and he would deserve well of his country, who, instead of amusing himself with conjectural speculations, should find means of persuading the peer to inspect his steward's accounts, or repair the rural mansion of his ancestors, who could replace the tradesman behind his counter, and send back the farmer to the mattock and the flail.
General irregularities are known in time to remedy themselves. By the constitution of ancient Ægypt, the priesthood was continually increasing, till at length there was no people beside themselves; the