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No. 183 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

After this short Preface, which I have made up of such Materials as my Memory does at present suggest to me, before I present my Reader with a Fable of this Kind, which I design as the Entertainment of the present Paper, I must in a few Words open the Occasion of it.

In the Account which Plato gives us of the Conversation and Behaviour of Socrates, the Morning he was to die, he tells the following Circumstance.

When Socrates his Fetters were knocked off (as was usual to be done on the Day that the condemned Person was to be executed) being seated in the midst of his Disciples, and laying one of his Legs over the other, in a very unconcerned Posture, he began to rub it where it had been galled by the Iron; and whether it was to shew the Indifference with which he entertained \the Thoughts of his approaching Death, or (after his usual Manner) to take every Occasion of Philosophizing upon some useful Subject, he observed the Pleasure of that Sensation which now arose in those very Parts of his Leg, that just before had been so much pained by the Fetter. Upon this he reflected on the Nature of Pleasure and Pain in general, and how constantly they succeeded one another. To this he added, That if a Man of a good Genius for a Fable were to represent the Nature of Pleasure and Pain in that Way of Writing, he would probably join them together after such a manner, that it would be impossible for the one to come into any Place without being followed by the other. [5]

It is possible, that if Plato had thought it proper at such a Time to describe Socrates launching out into a Discourse [which [6]] was not of a piece with the Business of the Day, he would have enlarged upon this Hint, and have drawn it out into some beautiful Allegory or Fable. But since he has not done it, I shall attempt to write one myself in the Spirit of that Divine Author.

There were two Families which from the Beginning of the World were as opposite to each other as Light and Darkness. The one of them lived in Heaven, and the other in Hell. The youngest Descendant of the first Family was Pleasure, who was the Daughter of Happiness, who was the Child of Virtue, who was the Offspring of the Gods. These, as I said before, had their Habitation in Heaven. The youngest of the opposite Family was Pain, who was the Son of Misery, who was the Child of Vice, who was the Offspring of the Furies. The Habitation of this Race of Beings was in Hell.

The middle Station of Nature between these two opposite Extremes was the Earth, which was inhabited by Creatures of a middle Kind, neither so Virtuous as the one, nor so Vicious as the other, but partaking of the good and bad Qualities of these two opposite Families. Jupiter considering that this Species commonly called Man, was too virtuous to be miserable, and too vicious to be happy; that he might make a Distinction between the Good and the Bad, ordered the two youngest of the above-mentioned Families, Pleasure who was the Daughter of Happiness, and Pain who was the Son of Misery, to meet one another upon this Part of Nature which lay in the half-Way between them, having promised to settle it upon them both, provided they could agree upon the Division of it, so as to share Mankind between them.

Pleasure and Pain were no sooner met in their new Habitation, but they immediately agreed upon this Point, that Pleasure should take Possession of the Virtuous, and Pain of the Vicious Part of that Species which was given up to them. But upon examining to which of them any Individual they met with belonged, they found each of them had a Right to him; for that, contrary to what they had seen in their old Places of Residence, there was no Person so Vicious who had not some Good in him, nor any Person so Virtuous who had not in him some Evil. The Truth of it is, they generally found upon Search, that in the most vicious Man Pleasure might lay a Claim to an hundredth Part, and that in the most virtuous Man Pain might come in for at least two Thirds. This they saw would occasion endless Disputes between them, unless they could come to some Accommodation. To this end there was a Marriage proposed between them, and at length concluded: By this means it is that we find Pleasure and Pain are such constant Yoke-fellows, and that they either make their Visits together, or are never far asunder. If Pain comes into an Heart, he is quickly followed by Pleasure; and if Pleasure enters, you may be sure Pain is not far off.

But notwithstanding this Marriage was very convenient for the two Parties, it did not seem to answer the Intention of Jupiter in sending them among Mankind. To remedy therefore this Inconvenience, it was stipulated between them by Article, and confirmed by the Consent of each Family, that notwithstanding they here possessed the Species indifferently; upon the Death of every single Person, if he was found to have in him a certain Proportion of Evil, he should be dispatched into the infernal Regions by a Passport from Pain, there to dwell with Misery, Vice and the Furies. Or on the contrary, if he had in him a certain Proportion of Good, he should be dispatched into Heaven by a Passport from Pleasure, there to dwell with Happiness, Virtue and the Gods.


[Footnote 1: ‘Judges’ ix. 8–15.]

[Footnote 2: ‘2 Sam.’ xii. 1–4.]

[Footnote 3: ‘Livy,’ Bk. II. sec. 32.]

[Footnote 4: Xenophon’s ‘Memorabilia Socratis, Bk. II.]

[Footnote 5: ‘Phaedon’, Sec. 10.]

[Footnote 6: that]