You must know, Sir, that I look upon the Pleasure which we take in a Garden, as one of the most innocent Delights in Human Life. A Garden was the Habitation of our first Parents before the Fall. It is naturally apt to fill the Mind with Calmness and Tranquillity, and to lay all its turbulent Passions at rest. It gives us a great insight into the Contrivance and Wisdom of Providence, and suggests innumerable Subjects for Meditation. I cannot but think the very Complacency and Satisfaction which a Man takes in these Works of Nature, to be a laudable, if not a virtuous Habit of Mind. For all which Reasons I hope you will pardon the Length of my present Letter. I am,
[Footnote 1: In No. 393.]
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No. 478. Monday, September 8, 1712. Steele.
Quem penes Arbitrium est, et Jus et Norma—’
It happened lately, that a Friend of mine, who had many things to buy for his Family, would oblige me to walk with him to the Shops. He was very nice in his way, and fond of having every thing shewn, which at first made me very uneasy; but as his Humour still continu’d, the things which I had been staring at along with him, began to fill my Head, and led me into a Set of amusing Thoughts concerning them.
I fancied it must be very surprizing to any one who enters into a detail of Fashions, to consider how far the Vanity of Mankind has laid it self out in Dress, what a prodigious number of People it maintains, and what a Circulation of Money it occasions. Providence in this Case makes use of the Folly which we will not give up, and it becomes instrumental to the Support of those who are willing to labour. Hence it is that Fringe-Makers, Lace-Men, Tire-Women, and a number of other Trades, which would be useless in a simple State of Nature, draw their Subsistence; tho’ it is seldom seen that such as these are extremely rich, because their original Fault of being founded upon Vanity, keeps them poor by the light Inconstancy of its Nature. The Variableness of Fashion turns the Stream of Business which flows from it now into one Channel, and anon into another; so that different Sets of People sink or flourish in their turns by it.
From the Shops we retir’d to the Tavern, where I found my Friend express so much satisfaction for the Bargains he had made, that my moral Reflections, (if I had told them) might have pass’d for a Reproof; so I chose rather to fall in with him, and let the Discourse run upon the use of Fashions.
Here we remembred how much Man is govern’d by his Senses, how lively he is struck by the Objects which appear to him in an agreeable manner, how much Clothes contribute to make us agreeable Objects,