’Your most humble Servant,
’P.S. Dear SPEC, if I get the
12 000 Pound, I’ll make thee a handsome
After having wished my Correspondent good Luck, and thanked him for his intended Kindness, I shall for this time dismiss the Subject of the Lottery, and only observe that the greatest Part of Mankind are in some degree guilty of my Friend Gossling’s Extravagance. We are apt to rely upon future Prospects, and become really expensive while we are only rich in Possibility. We live up to our Expectations, not to our Possessions, and make a Figure proportionable to what we may be, not what we are. We out-run our present Income, as not doubting to disburse our selves out of the Profits of some future Place, Project, or Reversion, that we have in view. It is through this Temper of Mind, which is so common among us, that we see Tradesmen break, who have met with no Misfortunes in their Business; and Men of Estates reduced to Poverty, who have never suffered from Losses or Repairs, Tenants, Taxes, or Law-suits. In short, it is this foolish sanguine Temper, this depending upon Contingent Futurities, that occasions Romantick Generosity, Chymerical Grandeur, Senseless Ostentation, and generally ends in Beggary and Ruin. The Man, who will live above his present Circumstances, is in great Danger of living in a little time much beneath them, or, as the Italian Proverb runs, The Man who lives by Hope will die by Hunger.
It should be an indispensable Rule in Life, to contract our Desires to our present Condition, and whatever may be our Expectations, to live within the compass of what we actually possess. It will be Time enough to enjoy an Estate when it comes into our Hands; but if we anticipate our good Fortune, we shall lose the Pleasure of it when it arrives, and may possibly never possess what we have so foolishly counted upon.
[Footnote 1: The number of the minority who were in 1704 for Tacking a Bill against Occasional Conformity to a Money Bill.]
[Footnote 2: “1666”, and in first reprint.]
* * * * *
No. 192. Wednesday, October 10, 1711. Steele.
Uni ore omnes omnia
Bona dicere, et Laudare fortunas meas,
Qui Gnatum haberem tali ingenio proeditum.’