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III.-On Natural and Fantastical Pleasures.
IT is of great use to consider the Pleasures which constitute human happiness, as they are distinguished into Natural and Fantastical. Natural Pleasures I call those which, not depending on the fashion and caprice of any particular age or nation, are suited to human na ture in general, and were intended, by Providence, as rewards for using our faculties agreeably to the ends for which, they are given us. Fantastical Pleasures are those which, having no natural fitness to delight our minds, presuppose some particular whim or taste, accidentally prevailing in a set of people, to which it is owing that they please.
Now I take it, that the tranquillity and cheerfulness with which I have passed my life,are the effects of having, ever since I came to years of discretion, continued my inclinations to the former sort of pleasures. But as my experience can be a rule only to my own actions, it may probably be a stronger motive to induce others to the same scheme of life, if they would consider that we are prompted to natural pleasures, by an instinct impressed on our minds by the Author of our nature, who best understands our frames, and consequently best knows what those pleasures are, which will give us the least uneasiness in the pursuit,and the greatest satisfaction in the enjoyment of them. Hence it follows,that the object of our natural desires are cheap, and easy to be obtained; it being a maxim that holds throughout the whole system of created beings, "that nothing is made in vain," much less the instincts and appetites of ani mals, which the benevolence, as well as the wisdom of the Deity is concerned to provide for. Nor is the frui tion of those objects less pleasing, than the acquisition
easy; and the pleasure is heightened by the sense of having answered some natural end, and the consciousness of acting in concert with the Supreme Governor of the universe.
Under natural pleasures I comprehend those which are universally suited, as well to the rational as the sensual part of our nature. And of the pleasures which af
fect our senses, those only are to be esteemed natural, that are contained within the rules of reason, which is allowed to be as necessary an ingredient of human nature, as sense. And indeed, excesses of any kind are hardly to be esteemed pleasures, much less natural pleasures.
It is evident that a desire terminated in money is fantastical; so is the desire of outward distinctions, which bring no delight ofsense, nor recommend us as useful to mankind; and the desire of things, merely because they are new or foreign. Men who are indisposed to a due exertion of their higher parts, are driven to such pursuits as these, from the restlessness of the mind, and the sensitive appetites being easily satisfied. It is, in some sort, owing to the bounty of Providence, that, disdain. ing a cheap and vulgar happiness, they frame to themselves imaginary goods, in which there is nothing can raise desire, but the difficulty of obtaining them. Thus men become the contrivers of their own misery, as a punishment to themselves,for departing from the measures of nature. Having by an habitual reflection on these truths, made them familiar, the effect is,that I, among a number of persons who have debauched their natural taste,see things in a peculiar light, which I have arrived at not by any uncommon force of genius, or acquired knowledge, but only by unlearning the false notions instilled by custom and education.
The various objects that compose the world, were,by nature, formed to delight our senses; and as it is this alone that makes them desirable to an uncorrupted state a man may be said naturally to possess them, when he possesses those enjoyments which they are fitted by nature to yield. Hence it is usual with me to consider myself as having natural property in every object that ad ministers pleasure to me. When I am in the country, all the fine seats near the place of my residence, and to which i have access, I regard as mine. The same I think of the groves and fields where I walk,and muse on the folly of the civil landlord in London, who has the fantastical pleasure of draining dry rent into his coffers, but is a stranger to the fresh air and rural enjoy
ments. By these principles, I am possessed of half a dozen of the finest seats in England, which in the eye of the law belong to certain of my acquaintance, who, being men of business, choose to live near the court.
In some great families, where I choose to pass my time, a stranger would be apt to rank me with the other domestics; but, in my own thoughts and natural judg ment, I am master of the house, and he who goes by that name is my steward, who eases me of the care of providing for myself the conveniences and pleasures of life.
When I walk the streets, I use the foregoing natural maxim,viz. That he is the true possessor of a thing,who enjoys it, and not he that owns it without the enjoyment of it, to convince myself that I have a property in the gay part of all the gilt chariots that I meet, which I regard as amusements designed to delight my eyes, and the imagination of those kind peoplewho sit in them, gaily attired, only to please me; I have a real, they only an imaginary pleasure, from their exterior embellishments. Upon the same principle, I have discovered that I am the natural proprietor ofall the diamond necklaces, the crosses, stars, brocades and embroidered clothes, which I see at a play or birth night,as giving more natural delight to the spectator, than to those that wear them. And I look on the beaus and ladies as so many paroquets in an aviary, or tulips in a garden, designed purely for my diversion. A gallery of pictures, a cabinet or library, that I have free access to, I think my own. In a word, all that i desire is the use of things, let who will have the keeping of them; by which maxim I am grown one of the richest men in Great Britain; with this difference-that I am not a prey to my own cares, or the envy of others.
The same principles I find of great use in my private economy. As I cannot go to the price of history painting. I have purchased, at easy rates, several beautifully, designed pieces of landscape and perspective, which are much more pleasing to a natural taste, than unknown faces of Dutch gambols, though done by the best masters; my couches,beds and window curtains are of Irish
stuff, which those of that nation work very fine, and with a delightful mixture of colors. There is not a piece of china in my house; but I have glasses of all sorts, and some tinged with the finest colors; which are not the less pleasing because they are domestic, and cheaper than foreign toys. Every thing is neat, entire and clean, and fitted to the taste of one who would rather be happy, than be thought rich.
Every day numberless innocent and natural gratifica. tions occur to me, while I behold my fellow creatures Jaboring in a toilsome and absurd pursuit of trifles; one, that he may be called by a particular appellation; an other, that he may wear a particular ornament, which I regard as a piece of riband, that has an agreeable effect on my sight, but is so far from supplying the place of merit, where it is not, that it serves only to make the want of it more conspicuous. Fair weather is the joy of my soul; about noon, I behold a blue sky with rapture, and receive great consolation from the rosy dashes of light, which adorn the clouds both morning and evening. When I am lost among the green trees, I do not envy a great man, with a great crowd at his levee. And I often lay aside thoughts of going to an opera, that I may enjoy the silent pleasure of walking by moonlight, or viewing the stars sparkle in their azure ground; which I look upon as a part of my possessions, not without a secret indignation at the tastelessness of mortal men who, in their race through life, overlook the real enjoy. ments of it.
But the pleasure which naturally affects a human mind with the most lively and transporting touches, I take to be the sense thatwe act in the eye of infinite wisdom, power and goodness, that will crown our virtuous endeavors here, with a happiness hereafter, large as our desires, and lasting as our immortal souls. This is a perpetual spring of gladness in the mind. This lessens our calamites, and doubles our joys. Without this, the highest state of life is insipid; and with it, the lowest is a paradise.
IV The Folly and Madness of Ambition illustrated.
AMONG the variety of subjects with which you have entertained and instructed the public, I do not remember that you have any where touched upon the folly and madness of ambition; which, for the benefit of those who are dissatisfied with their present situations, I beg leave to illustrate, by giving the history of my own life.
I am the son of a younger brother, of a good family, who, at his decease, left me a little fortune of a hundred pounds a year. I was put early to Eton school, where I learnt Latin and Greek; from which I went to the university, where I learnt not totally to forget them. I came to my fortune while I was at college; and hav*ing no inclination to follow any profession, I removed myself to town, and lived for some time as most young gentlemen do, by spending four times my income. But it was my happiness, before it was too late, to fall in love, and to marry a very amiable young creature, whose fortune was just sufficient to repair the breach made in my own. With this agreeable companion I retreated to the country, and endeavored, as well as I was able to square my wishes to my circumstances. In this endeavor I succeeded so well, that, except a few private hankerings after a litle more than i possessed, and now and then a sigh, when a coach and six happened to drive by me in my walks, I was a very happy
I can truly assure you, Mr. Fitz Adam, that though our family economy was not much to be boasted of, and in consequence of it, we were frequently driven to greatstraits and difficulties. I experienced more real satisfaction in this humble situation, than i have ever done since, in more enviable circuinstances. We were sometimes a little in debt, but when money came in, the pleasure of discharging what we owed, was more than equivalent for the pain it put us to; and, though the nar-1 rowness of our circumstances subjected us to many cares and anxieties, it serves to keep the body in action, as well as the mind; for,as our garden was somewhat large, and required more hands to keep it in order, than we