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ately distinguished by a kind of dissipated curiosity, a busy endeavour to divide, his attention amongst a thousand objects, and a wild confusion of astonishment and alarm.
The attention of a new-comer is generally first struck by the multiplicity of cries that stun him in the streets, and the variety of merchandise and manufactures which the shopkeepers expose on every hand ; and he is apt, by unwary bursts of admiration to excite the merriment and contempt of those, who mistake the use of their eyes for effects of their understanding, and confound accidental knowledge with just reasoning. But, surely, these are subjects on which
any man may without reproach employ his meditations : the innumerable occupations, among which the thousands that swarm in the streets of London, are distributed, may furnish employment to minds of every cast, and capacities of every degree. He that contemplates the extent of this wonderful city, finds it difficult to conceive, by what method plenty is maintained in our markets, and how the inhabitants are regularly supplied with the necessaries of life ; but when he examines the shops and warehouses, sees the immense stores of every kind of merchandise piled up for sale, and runs over all the manufactures of art and products of nature, which are every where attracting his eye and foliciting his purse, he will be inclined to conclude, that such quantities cannot easily be exhausted, and that part of mankind must foon stand still for want of employment, till the wares already provided shall be worn out and destroyed.
As Socrates was passing through the fair at Athens, and casting his eyes over the shops and customers,
“how many things are here," says he," that I do not 5 want!” The same sentiment is every moment rifing in the mind of him that walks the streets of London, however inferior in philofophy to Socrates: he beholds a thoufand shops crowded with goods, of which he can scarcely tell the use, and which, therefore, he is apt to consider as of no value ; and, indeed, many of the arts by which families are supported, and wealth is heaped together, are of that minute and superfluous kind which nothing but experience could evince poffibly to be prosecuted with advantage, and which, as the world, might easily want, it could scarcely be expected to encourage.
But so it is, that custom, curiosity, or wantonness, supplies every art with patrons, and finds purchasers for every manufacture; the world is so adjusted, that not only bread, but riches may be obtained without great abilities, or arduous performances: the most unskilful hand and unenlightened mind have sufficient incitements to industry; for he that is resolutely busy, can scarcely be in want. There is, indeed, no employment, how- , ever despicable, from which a man may not promise himself more than compétence, when he sees thousands and myriads raised to dignity, by no other merit than that of contributing to supply their neighbours with the means of sucking smoke through a tube of clay; and others raising contributions upon thofe, whose ele. gance disdains the grofsness of smoky luxury, by grinding the same materials into a powder that may at once gratify and impair the smell.
Not only by these popular and modish trifles, but by. a thousand unheeded and evanefcent kinds of business, are the multitudes of this city preserved from idleness,
and consequently from want. In the endless variety of tastes and circumstances that diversify mankind, nothing is so fuperfluous, but that some one desires it; or so common, but that some one is compelled to buy it. As nothing is useless but because it is in improper hands, what is thrown away by one is gathered up by another; and the refuse of part of mankind furnishes a subordinate class with the materials necessary to their fupport.
When I look round upon those who are thus variously exerting their qualifications, I cannot but admire the secret concatenation of society, that links together the
great and the mean, the illustrious and the obscure ; and consider with benevolent satisfaction, that no man, unless his body or mind be totally disabled, has need to fuffer the mortification of seeing himself useless or burthensome to the community; he that will diligently labour, in whatever occupation, will deserve the fuftenance which he obtains, and the protection which he enjoys; and may lie down every night with the pleafing' consciousness, of having contributed something to the happiness of life.
Contempt and admiration are equally incident to narrow minds : he whose comprehension can take in the whole subordination of mankind, and whose perspicacity can pierce to the real state of things, through the thin veils of fortune or of fashion, will discover meanness in the highest stations, and dignity in the meanest; and find that no man can become venerable but by virtue, or contemptible but by wickednefs.
In the midst of this universal hurry, no man ought to be so little influenced by example, or so void of honest cmulation, as to ftand a lazy spectator of incessant
labour, or please himself with the mean happiness of a drone, while the active swarms are buzzing about him: no man is without some quality, by the due application of which he might deserve well of the world; and whoever he be that has but little in his power should be in haste to do that little, left he be confounded with him that can do nothing.
By this general concurrence of endeavours, arts of every kind have been so long cultivated, that all the wants of man may be immediately supplied ; idleness can scarcely form a wish which she may not gratify by the toil of others, or curiosity dream of a toy, which the shops are not ready to afford her.
Happiness is enjoyed only in proportion as it is known; and such is the state or folly of man, that it is known only by experience of its contrary: we who have long lived amidst the conveniences of a town immensely populous, have scarce an idea of a place where desire cannot be gratified by money. In order to have a just sense of this artificial plenty, it is necessary to have passed some time in a distant colony, or those parts of our island which are thinly inhabited : he that has once known how many
trades every man in such situations is compelled to exercise, with how much labour the products of nature must be accommodated to human ufe, how long the loss or defect of any common utensil must be endured, or by what aukward expedients it must be supplied, how far men may wander with money in their hands, before any can sell them what they wish to buy, will know how to rate at its proper value the plenty and ease of a great city.
But that the happiness of man may fill remain imperfect, as want sin this place are easily supplied, new
wants likewise are easily created : every man, in surveying the shops of London, fees numberlefs inftruments and conveniences, of which, while he did not know them, he never felt the need; and yet, when use has made them familiar, wonders how life could be supported without them. Thus it comes to pass, that our desires always increase with our poffeffions : the knowledge that something remains yet unenjoyed, impairs our enjoyment of the good before us.
They who have been accustomed to the refinements of science, and multiplications of contrivance, foon lose their confidence in the unaffifted powers of Nature, forget the paucity of our real necessities, and overlook the easy methods by which they may be supplied. It were a speculation worthy of a philosophical mind, to examine how much is taken away from our native abilities, as well as added to them, by artificial expedients. We are so accufomed to give and receive affistance, that each of us fingly can do little for himself; and there is scarce any one among us, however contracted may be his form of life, who does not enjoy the labour of a thousand artists.
But a survey of the various nations that inhabit the earth, will inform is, that life may be supported with lefs affiftance; and that the dexterity, which practice enforced by necessity produces, is able to effect much by very scanty means. The nations of Mexico and Peru erected cities and temples without the use of iron ; and at this day the rude Indian supplies himself with all the necessaries of life. Sent, like the rest of mankind, naked into the world, as soon as his parents have nursed him up to strength, he is to provide by his own labour for his own support, His first care You. II. K