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to be happy all the while this prodigious mafs of fand was consuming by this flow method until there was not a grain of it left, on condition you were to be miserable for ever after ? Or, fupposing that you might be happy for ever after on condition you would be miserable until the whole mass of sand were thus annihilated at the rate of one fand in a thousand years: which of these two cases would you make your choice?
It must be confessed in this case, so many thousands of years are to the imagination as a kind of eternity, though in reality they do not bear so great a proportion to that duration which is to follow them as an unit does to the greatest number which you can put together in figures, or as one of those fands to the supposed heap. Reason therefore tells us, without any manner of hesitation, which would be the better part in this choice. However, as I have before intimated, our reason might in such case be so overset by the imagination as to dispose some persons to sink under the consideration of the great length of the first part of this duration, and of the great distance of that second duration which is to succeed it. The mind, I say, might give itself up to that happiness which is at hand, considering that it is fo very near, and that it would last lo very long. But when the choice we actually have before us is this, whether we will choose to be happy for the space of only threescore and ten, nay, perhaps of only twenty or ten years, I might
lay fay of only a day or an hour, and miserable to all eternity; or, on the contrary, miserable for this short term of years, and happy for a whole eternity: what words are sufficient to express that folly and want of confideration which in such a case makes a wrong choice?
I here put the case even at the worst, by supposing, what seldom happens, that a course of virtue makes us miserable in this life: but if we suppose, as it generally happens, that virtue would make us more happy even in this life than a contrary course of vice; how can we fufficiently admire the stupidity or madness of those persons who are capable of making so absurd a choice?
Every wise man therefore will consider this life only as it may conduce to the happiness of the other, and cheerfully sacrifice the pleasures of a few years to those of an eternity.
N° 576. Wednesday, August 4, 1714.
Nitor in adversum ; nec me, qui cætera, vincit
Ovid. Met. ii. 72.
ADDISON. T Remember a young man of very lively parts, I and of a sprightly turn in conversation, who had only one fault, which was an inordinate * By ADDISON.
desire of appearing fashionable. This ran him into many amours, and consequently into many distempers. He never went to bed until two o'clock in the morning, because he would not be a queer fellow; and was every now and then knocked down by a constable, to signalize his vivacity. He was initiated into half a dozen clubs before he was one-and-twenty; and so improved in them his natural gaiety of temper, that you might frequently trace him to his lodging by a range of broken windows, and other the like monuments of wit and gallantry. To be short, after having fully established his reputation of being a very agreeable rake, he died of old age at five-and-twenty.
There is indeed nothing which betrays a man into fo many errors and inconveniences as the desire of not appearing fingular; for which reason it is very necessary to form a right idea of fingularity, that we may know when it is laudable, and when it is vicious. In the first place, every man of sense will agree with me, that singularity is laudable, when, in contradiction to a multitude, it adheres to the dictates of conscience, morality, and honour. In these cases we ought to consider that it is not custom, but duty, which is the rule of action ; and that we should be only fo far fociable as we are reasonable creatures. Truth is never the less so for not being attended to: and it is the nature of actions, not the number of actors, by which we ought to regulate our behaviour. Singularity in concerns of this kind is to be looked upon as heroic bravery, in which a man leaves the species only as he foars above it. What greater instance can there be of a weak and pulillanimous temper, than for a man to pass his whole life in opposition to his own sentiments? or not to dare to be what he thinks he ought to be?
Singularity, therefore, is only vicious when it makes men act contrary to reason, or when it puts them upon distinguishing themselves by trifles. As for the first of theie, who are singular in any thing that is irreligious, immoral, or dishonourable, I believe every one will easily give them up. I shall therefore speak of those only who are remarkable for their singularity in things of no importance; as in dress, behaviour, conversation, and all the little intercourses of life. In these cases there is a certain deference due to custom; and, notwithstanding there may be a colour of reason to deviate from the multitude in some particulars, a man ought to facrifice his private inclinations and opinions to the practice of the public. It must be confessed that good sense often makes an humourist; but then it unqualifies him for being of any moment in the world, and renders him ridiculous to perfons of a much inferior understanding.
I have heard of a gentleman in the north of England, who was a remarkable instance of this foolish singularity. He had lain it down as a rule within himself, to act in the most indifferent parts of life according to the most abstracted notions of reason and good sense,
without any regard to fashion and example. This humour broke out at first in many little oddnesses: he had never any stated hours for his dinner, supper, or sleep; because, said he, we ought to attend the calls of nature, and not set our appetites to our meals, but bring our meals to our appetites. In his conversation with country gentlemen he would not make use of a phrase that was not strictly true: he never told any of them that he was his humble servant, but that he was his well-wisher, and would rather be thought a malcontent than drink the king's health when he was not dry. He would thrust his head out of his chamber window every morning, and, after having gaped for fresh air about half an hour, repeat fifty verses as loud as he could bawl them, for the benefit of his lungs; to which end he generally took them out of Homer; the Greek tongue, especially in that author, being more deep and sonorous, and more conducive to expectoration, than any other. He had many other particularities, for which he gave found and philosophical reasons. As this humour still grew upon him, he chose to wear a turban instead of a perriwig; concluding very justly that a bandage of clean linen about his head was much more wholesome, as well as cleanly, than the caul of a wig, which is foiled with frequent perspirations. He afterwards judiciously observ- · ed, that the many ligatures in our English dress must naturally check the circulation of the blood; for which reason he made his Vol. VIII.