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No. 163 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 163. Thursday, Sept. 6, 1711

‘… Si quid ego adjuero, curamve levasso,

Quae nunc te coquit, et versat sub pectore fixa,

Ecquid erit pretii?’

Enn. ap. Tullium.

Enquiries after Happiness, and Rules for attaining it, are not so necessary and useful to Mankind as the Arts of Consolation, and supporting [ones [1]] self under Affliction. The utmost we can hope for in this World is Contentment; if we aim at any thing higher, we shall meet with nothing but Grief and Disappointments. A Man should direct all his Studies and Endeavours at making himself easie now, and happy hereafter.

The Truth of it is, if all the Happiness that is dispersed through the whole Race of Mankind in this World were drawn together, and put into the Possession of any single Man, it would not make a very happy Being. Though on the contrary, if the Miseries of the whole Species were fixed in a single Person, they would make a very miserable one.

I am engaged in this Subject by the following Letter, which, though subscribed by a fictitious Name, I have reason to believe is not Imaginary.


‘I am one of your Disciples, and endeavour to live up to your Rules, which I hope will incline you to pity my Condition: I shall open it to you in a very few Words. About three Years since a Gentleman, whom, I am sure, you yourself would have approved, made his Addresses to me. He had every thing to recommend him but an Estate, so that my Friends, who all of them applauded his Person, would not for the sake of both of us favour his Passion. For my own part, I resigned my self up entirely to the Direction of those who knew the World much better than my self, but still lived in hopes that some Juncture or other would make me happy in the Man, whom, in my Heart, I preferred to all the World; being determined if I could not have him, to have no Body else. About three Months ago I received a Letter from him, acquainting me, that by the Death of an Uncle he had a considerable Estate left him, which he said was welcome to him upon no other Account, but as he hoped it would remove all Difficulties that lay in the Way to our mutual Happiness. You may well suppose, Sir, with how much Joy I received this Letter, which was followed by several others filled with those Expressions of Love and Joy, which I verily believe no Body felt more sincerely, nor knew better how to describe than the Gentleman I am speaking of. But Sir, how shall I be able to tell it you! by the last Week’s Post I received a letter from an intimate Friend of this unhappy Gentleman, acquainting me, that as he had just settled his Affairs, and was preparing for his Journey, he fell sick of a Fever and died. It is impossible to express to you the Distress I am in upon this Occasion. I can only have Recourse to my Devotions; and to the reading of good Books for my Consolation; and as I always take a particular Delight in those frequent Advices and Admonitions which you give to the Publick, it would be a very great piece of Charity in you to lend me your Assistance in this Conjuncture. If after the reading of this Letter you find your self in a Humour, rather to Rally and Ridicule, than to Comfort me, I desire you would throw it into the Fire, and think no more of it; but if you are touched with my Misfortune, which is greater than I know how to bear, your Counsels may very much Support, and will infinitely Oblige the afflicted LEONORA.’