[Footnote 1: Paradise Lost, Bk x., ll 898-908.]
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No. 360. Wednesday, April 23, 1712. Steele.
—De paupertate tacentes
Plus poscente ferent.
I have nothing to do with the Business of this Day, any further than affixing the piece of Latin on the Head of my Paper; which I think a Motto not unsuitable, since if Silence of our Poverty is a Recommendation, still more commendable is his Modesty who conceals it by a decent Dress.
There is an Evil under the Sun which has not yet come within your Speculation; and is, the Censure, Disesteem, and Contempt which some young Fellows meet with from particular Persons, for the reasonable Methods they take to avoid them in general. This is by appearing in a better Dress, than may seem to a Relation regularly consistent with a small Fortune; and therefore may occasion a Judgment of a suitable Extravagance in other Particulars: But the Disadvantage with which the Man of narrow Circumstances acts and speaks, is so feelingly set forth in a little Book called the Christian Hero,  that the appearing to be otherwise is not only pardonable but necessary. Every one knows the hurry of Conclusions that are made in contempt of a Person that appears to be calamitous, which makes it very excusable to prepare ones self for the Company of those that are of a superior Quality and Fortune, by appearing to be in a better Condition than one is, so far as such Appearance shall not make us really of worse.
It is a Justice due to the Character of one who suffers hard Reflections from any particular Person upon this Account, that such Persons would enquire into his manner of spending his Time; of which, tho no further Information can be had than that he remains so many Hours in his Chamber, yet if this is cleared, to imagine that a reasonable Creature wrung with a narrow Fortune does not make the best use of this Retirement, would be a Conclusion extremely uncharitable. From what has, or will be said, I hope no Consequence can be extorted, implying, that I would have any young Fellow spend more Time than the common Leisure which his Studies require, or more Money than his Fortune or Allowance may admit of, in the pursuit of an Acquaintance with his Betters: For as to his Time, the gross of that ought to be sacred to more substantial Acquisitions; for each irrevocable Moment of which he ought to believe he stands religiously Accountable. And as to his Dress, I shall engage myself no further than in the modest Defence of two plain Suits a Year: For being perfectly satisfied in Eutrapeluss Contrivance of making a Mohock of a Man, by presenting him with lacd and embroiderd Suits, I would by no means be thought to controvert that Conceit, by insinuating the Advantages of Foppery. It is