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No. 167. Tuesday, September 11, 1711 Steele
’Fuit haud ignobilis Argis, Qui se credebat miros audire tragoedos, In vacuo laetus sessor plausorque theatro; Caetera qui vitae servaret munia recto More; bonus sane vicinus, amabilis hospes, Comis in uxorem; posset qui ignoscere servis, Et signo laeso non insanire lagenae; Posset qui rupem et puteum vitare patentem. Hic ubi cognatorum opibus curisque refectus Expulit elleboro morbum bilemque meraco, Et redit ad sese: Pol me occidistis, amici, Non servastis, ait; cui sic extorta valuptas, Et demptus per vim mentis gratissimus Error.’
The unhappy Force of an Imagination, unguided by the Check of Reason and Judgment, was the Subject of a former Speculation. My Reader may remember that he has seen in one of my Papers a Complaint of an Unfortunate Gentleman, who was unable to contain himself, (when any ordinary matter was laid before him) from adding a few Circumstances to enliven plain Narrative. That Correspondent was a Person of too warm a Complexion to be satisfied with things merely as they stood in Nature, and therefore formed Incidents which should have happened to have pleased him in the Story. The same ungoverned Fancy which pushed that Correspondent on, in spite of himself, to relate publick and notorious Falsehoods, makes the Author of the following Letter do the same in Private; one is a Prating, the other a Silent Liar.
There is little pursued in the Errors of either of these Worthies, but mere present Amusement: But the Folly of him who lets his Fancy place him in distant Scenes untroubled and uninterrupted, is very much preferable to that of him who is ever forcing a Belief, and defending his Untruths with new Inventions. But I shall hasten to let this Liar in Soliloquy, who calls himself a CASTLE-BUILDER, describe himself with the same Unreservedness as formerly appeared in my Correspondent above-mentioned. If a Man were to be serious on this Subject, he might give very grave Admonitions to those who are following any thing in this Life, on which they think to place their Hearts, and tell them that they are really CASTLE-BUILDERS. Fame, Glory, Wealth, Honour, have in the Prospect pleasing Illusions; but they who come to possess any of them will find they are Ingredients towards Happiness, to be regarded only in the second Place; and that when they are valued in the first Degree, they are as dis-appointing as any of the Phantoms in the following Letter.
Sept. 6, 1711.