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tions, and is in many cases so impregnable a fence to virtue; what can more undermine morality than that politeness which reigns among the unthinking part of mankind, and treats as unfashionable the most ingenuous part of our behaviour; which recommends impudence as good-breeding, and keeps a man always in countenance, not because he is innocent, but because he is shameless?
Seneca thought modesty so great a check to vice, that he prescribes to us the practice of it in secret, and advises us to raise it in ourselves upon imaginary occasions, when such as are real do not offer themselves; for this is the meaning of his precept, That when we are by ourselves, and in our greatest solitudes, we should fancy that Cato stands before us and sees every thing we do. In short, if you banish Modesty out of the world, she carries away with her half the virtue that is in it.
After these reflections on modesty, as it is a virtue; I must observe, that there is a vicious modesty, which justly deserves to be ridiculed, and which those pessons very often discover who value themselves most upon a well-bred confidence. This happens when a man is ashamed to act up to his reason, and would not upon any consideration he surprised in the practice of those duties, for the performance of which he was sent into the world. Many an impudent libertine would blush to be caught in a serious discourse, and would scarce be able to shew his head, after having disclosed a religious thought. Decency of behaviour, all outward shew of virtue, and abhorrence of vice, are carefully avoided by this set of shame-faced people, as what would disparage their gaiety of temper, and infallibiy bring them to dishonour. This is such a poorness of spirit, such a despicable cowardice, such à degenerate abject state of mind, as one would
think human nature incapable of, did we not meet with frequent instances of it in ordinary conver. sation.
There is another kind of vicious modesty which makes a man ashamed of his person, his birth, bis profession, his poverty, or the like misfortunes, which it was not in his choice to prevent, and is not in his power to rectify. If a man appears ridi. culous by any of the afore-mentioned circumstances, he becomes much more so by being out of countenance for them. They should rather give him oc. casion to exert a noble spirit, and to palliate those imperfections which are not in his power, by those perfections which are; or to use a very witty allusion of an eminent author, he should imitate Cæsar, who, because his head was bald, covered that defect with laurels.
NO 232, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 1711.
Nihil largiundo gloriam adeptus est.
SALLUST. Bel. Cat.
By bestowing nothing he acquired glory.
My wise and good friend, Sir Andrew. Freeport, divides himself almost equally between the town and the country. His time in town is given up to the public, and the management of his private fora tune; and after every three or four days spent in this manner, he retires for as many to his seat within a few miles of the town, to the enjoyment of himself, his family, and his friend. Thus business and pleasure, or rather, in Sir Andrew, labour and rest, recommend each other. They take their turns with so quick a vicissitude, that neither becomes a habit, or takes possession of the whole man; nor is it pos. sible he should be surfeited with either. I often see him at our club in good humour, and yet sometimes too with an air of care in his looks: but in his country retreat he is always unbent, and such a companion as I could desire; and therefore I seldom fail to make one with him when he is pleased to invite me.
The other day, as soon as we were got into his chariot, two or three beggars on each side hung upon the doors, and solicited our charity with the usual rhetoric of a sick wife or husband at home, three or four helpless little children all starving with cold and hunger. We were forced to part with some money to get rid of their importunity; and then we proceeded on our journey with the blessings and acclamations of these people.
Well then,' says Sir Andrew,' we go off with the prayers and good wishes of the beggars, and perhaps too our healths will be drunk at the next ale-house: so all we shall be able to value ourselves upon, is, that we have promoted the trade of the victualler and the excises of the government. But how few ounces of wool do we see upon the backs of these poor creatures? And when they shall next fall in our way, they will hardly be better dressed; they must always live in rags to look like objects of compassion, 'If their families too are such as they are represented, 'tis certain they cannot be better clothed, and must be a great deal worse fed. One would think potatoes should be all their bread, and their drink the pure element; and then what goodly customers are the farmers like to have for their wool, corn and cattle? Such customers, and such a con
sumption, cannot choose but advance the landed interest, and hold up the rents of the gentlemen.
. But of all men living, we merchants who live by buying and selling, ought never to encourage beggars. The goods which we export are indeed the product of the lands, but much the greater part of their value is the labour of the people: but how much of these people's labour shall we export whilst we hire them to sit still? The very alms they receive from us, are the wages of idleness. I have often thought that no man should be permitted to take relief from the parish, or to ask it in the street, until he has first purchased as much as possible of his own livelihood by the labour of his own hands; and then the public ought only to be taxed to make good the deficiency. If this rule was strictly observed, we should see every where such a multitude of new labourers, as would in all probability, reduce the prices of all our manufactures. It is the very life of merchandise to buy cheap and sell dear. The merchant ought to make his out-set as cheap as possible, that he may find the greater profit upon his returns; and nothing will enable him to do this like the reduction of the price of labour upon all our manufactures. This too would be the ready way to increase the number of our foreign markets. The ahateinent of the price of the manufacture would pay for the carriage of it to more distant countries; and this consequence would be equally beneficial both to the landed and trading interests. As so great an addition of labouring hands would produce this happy consequence both to the merchant and the gentleman, our liberality to common , beggars, and every other obstruction to the increase of labourers, must be equally pernicious to both.'
Sir Andrew then went on to affirm, that the reduction of the price of our manufactures by the ad
dition of so many new hands, would be no inconvenience to any man: but observing I was something startled at the assertion, he made a short pause, and then resumed the discourse..! It may seem,' says he, "a paradox, that the price of labour should be reduced without an abatement of wages, or that wages can be abated without an inconvenience to the labourer, and yet nothing is more certain than that both these things may happen. The wages of the labourers make the greatest part of the price of every thing that is useful; and if in proportion with the wages the price of all other things should be abated, every labourer with less wages would still be able to purchase as many necessaries of life; where then would be the inconvenience? But the price of labour may be reduced by the addition of more hands to a manufacture, and yet the wages of per. sons remain as high as ever. The admirable Sir William Petty has given examples of this in some of his writings: 'one of them, as I remember, is that of a watch, which I shall endeavour to explain so as shall suit my present purpose. It is certain that a single watch could not be made so cheap in proportion by one only man, as a hundred watches by a hundred; for as there is vast variety in the work, no one person could equally suit himself to all the parts of it: the manufacture would be tedious, and at last but clumsily performed. But if a hundred watches were to be made by a hundred men, the cases may be assigned to one, the dials to another, the wheels to another, the springs to another, and every other part to a proper artist. As there would be no need of perplexing any one person with too much variety, every one would be able to perform his single part with greater skill and expedition; and the hundred watches would be finished in one-fourth part of the time of the first one, and every one of