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No. 569. MONDAY, JULY 19, 1714.
Reges dicuntur multis urgere culullis,
HOR. Ars Poet. vers. 434.
No vices are so incurable as those which men are apt to glory in. One would wonder how drunkenness should have the good luck to be of this number. Anacharsis, being invited to a match of drinking at Corinth, demanded the prize very humorously, because he was drunk before any of the rest of the company; 'for,' says he, when we run a race, he who arrives at the goal first is entitled to the reward:' on the contrary, in this thirsty generation, the honour falls upon him who carries off the greatest quantity of liquor, and knocks down the rest of the company. I was the other day with honest Will Funnel, the West Saxon, who was reckoning up how much liquor had passed through him in the last twenty years of his life, which according to his computation, amounted to twenty-three hogsheads of October, four tun of port, half a kilderkin of small beer, nineteen barrels of cider, and three glasses of champaigne ; besides which he had assisted at four hundred bowls of punch, not to mention sips, drams, and whets without number. I question not but every reader's memory will suggest to him several ambitious young men who are as vain in this particular as Will Funnel, and can boast of as glorious exploits.
Our modern philosophers observe, that there is a general decay of moisture in the globe of the earth. This they chiefly ascribe to the growth of vegetables, which incorporate into their own substance many fluid bodies that never return again to their former nature: but, with submission, they ought to throw into their account those innumerable rational beings which fetch their nourishment chiefly out of liquids; especially when we consider that men, compared with their fellow creatures, drink much more than come to their share.
But, however highly this tribe of people may think of themselves, a drunken man is a greater monster than any that is to be found among all the creatures which God has made; as indeed there is no character which appears more despicable and deformed, in the eyes of all rational persons, than that of a drunkard. Bonosus, one of our own countrymen, who was addicted to this vice, having set up for a share in the Roman empire, and being defeated in a great battle, hanged himself. When he was seen by the army in this melancholy situation, notwithstanding he had behaved himself very bravely, the common jest was, that the thing they saw hanging upon the tree before them was not a man, but a bottle.
This vice has very fatal effects on the mind, the body, and fortune, of the person who is devoted to it.
In regard to the mind, it first of all discovers every flaw in it. The sober man, by the strength of reason may keep under and subdue every vice or folly to which he is most inclined; but wine makes every latent seed sprout up in the soul, and show itself; it gives fury to the passions, and force to those objects which are apt to produce
them. When a young fellow complained to an old philosopher that his wife was not handsome, 'Put less water in your wine,' says the philosopher, and you will quickly make her so.' Wine heightens indifference into love, love into jealousy, and jealousy into madness. It often turns the good natured man into an idiot, and the choleric into an assassin. It gives bitterness to resentment, it makes vanity insupportable, and displays every little spot of the soul in its utmost deformity.
Nor does this vice only betray the hidden faults of a man, and show them in the most cdious colours, but often occasions faults to which he is not naturally subject. There is more of turn than of truth in a saying of Seneca, that drunkenness does, not produce but discover faults. Common experience teaches the contrary. Wine throws a man out of himself, and infuses qualities into the mind which she is a stranger to in her sober moments. The person you converse with after the third bottle, is not the same man who at first sat down at table with you. Upon this maxim is founded one of the prettiest sayings I ever met with, which is ascribed to Publius Syrus, Qui ebrium ludificit, lædit absentem: He who jests upon a man that is drunk injures the absent.'
Thus does drunkenness act in a direct contradiction to reason, whose business it is to clear the mind of every vice which is crept into it, and to guard it against all the approaches of any that endeavours to make its entrance. But besides these ill effects which this vice produces in the person who is actually under its dominion, it has also a bad influence on the mind even in its sober moments, as it insensibly weakens the understanding, impairs the memory, and makes those faults habitual which are produced by frequent excesses.
I shall now proceed to show the ill effects which this vice has on the bodies and fortunes of men; but these I shall reserve for the subject of some future paper.
No. 570. WEDNESDAY, JULY 21, 1714.
HOR. Ars Poet. ver. 322.
THERE is scarcely a man living who is not actuated by ambition. When this principle meets with an honest mind and great abilities, it does infi. nite service to the world: on the contrary, when a man only thinks of distingushing himself without being thus qualified for it, he becomes a very pernicious or a very ridiculous creature. I shall here confine myself to that petty kind of ambition, by which some men grow eminent for odd accomplishments and trivial performances. How many are there whose whole reputation depends upon a pun or a quibble? You may often see an artist in the streets gain a circle of admirers by carrying a long pole upon his chin or forehead in a perpendicular posture. Ambition has taught some to write with their feet, and others to walk upon their hands. Some tumble into fame, othgrow immortal by throwing themselves through a hoop.
"Cætera de genere hoc, adeo sunt multa, loquacem.
HOR. 1. Sat. i. 16.
With thousands more of this ambitious race
I am led into this train of thought by an adventure I lately met with.
I was the other day at a tavern, where the master of the house* accommodated us himself with every thing we wanted, I accidentally fell into a discourse with him; and talking of a certain great man, who shall be nameless, he told me that he had sometimes the honour to treat him with a whistle; adding, (by way of parenthesis) for you must know, gentlemen, that I whistle the best of any man in Europe.' This naturally put me upon desiring him to give us a sample of his art; upon which he called for a case-knife, and applying the edge of it to his mouth, converted it into a musical instrument, and entertained me with an Italian solo. Upon laying down the knife, he took up a pair of clean tobacco pipes; and, after having slid the small end of them over the table in a most melodious trill, he fetched a tune out of them, whistling to them at the same time in concert. In short, the tobacco-pipes became musical pipes in the hands of our virtuosi, who confessed to me, ingenuously, he had broke such quantities of them, that he had almost broke himself before he had brought this piece of music to any tolerable perfection. I then told him I would bring a company of friends to dine with him next week, as an encouragement to his ingenuity; upon which he thanked me, saying that he would provide himself with a new frying-pan against that day. I replied, that it was no matter; roast and boiled would serve our turn. He smiled at my simplicity and told me that it was his design to give us a tune upon it. As I was surprised at such a promise,
* This man's name was Daintry. He was in the trained bands, and commonly known by the name of captain Daintry.