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whence the Romans afterwards borrowed their pentathlum, which was composed of running, wrestling, leaping, throwing, and boxing, though the prizes viere generally nothing but a crown of cypress or parsley, hats not being in fashion in those days: that there is an old statute, which obliges every man in England, having such an estate, to keep and exercise the long-bow; by which means our ancestors excelled all other nations in the use of that weapon, and we had all the real advantages, without the inconvenience, of a standing army: and that I once met with a book of projects, in which the author considering to what noble ends that spirit of emulation, which so remarkably shews itself among our common people in these wakes, might be directed, proposes that for the improvement of all our handicraft trades there should be annual prizes set up for such persons as were most excellent in their several arts. But laying aside all these political considerations, which might tempt me to pass the limits of my paper, I confess the greatest benefit and convenience that I can observe in these country festivals, is the bringing young people together, and giving them an opportunity of shewing themselves in the most advantageous light. A country fellow that throws his rival upon his back, has generally as good success with their common mistress; as nothing is more usual than for a nimble-footed wench to get a husband at the same time that she wins a smock. Love and marriages are the natural effects of these anni. versary assemblies. I must therefore very much approve the method by which my correspondent tells me each sex endeavours to recommend it. self to the other, since nothing seems more likely to promise a healthy offspring, or a happy coha. bitation. And I believe I may assure my country friend, that there has been many a court lady who would be contented to exchange her crazy young husband for Tom Short, and several men of quality who would have parted with a tender yoke-fellow for Black Kate.
I am the more pleased with having love made the principal end and design of these meetings, as it seems to be most agreeable to the intent for which they were at first instituted, as we are informed by the learned Dr. Kennet,* with whose words I shall conclude my present paper.
“These wakes, says he, were in imitation of the ancient dymas, or love-feasts; and were first established in England by Pope Gregory the Gieat, who, in an epistle to Miletus the abbot, gave orders that they should be kept in sheds or arbories made up with the branches or boughs of trees round the church.'
He adds, that this laudable custom of wakes prevailed for many ages, until the nice puritans began to exclaim against it as a remnant of popery; and by degrees the precise humour grew so popular, that at an Exeter assizes the Lord Chief Baron Walter made an order for the supe pression of all wakes; but on Bishop Laud's complaining of this innovating humour, the king commanded the order to be reversed.'
* In his Parochial Antiquities, ito. 1695, p. 610, 614.
No. 162. WEDNESDAY,SEPTEMBER 5,1711.
-Servetur ad imum,
Hor. Ars Poet. v. 126. Koep one consistent plan from end to end. NOTHING that is not a real crime makes a man appear so contemptible and little in the eyes of the world as inconstancy, especially when it regards religion or party. In either of these cases, though a man perhaps does but his duty in changing his side, he not only makes himself hated by those he left, but is seldom heartily esteemed by those he comes over to.
In these great articles of life therefore, a man's conviction ought to be very strong, and if possible so well timed, that worldly advantages may seem to have no share in it, or mankind will be ill-natured enough to think he does not change sides out of principle, but either out of levity of temper, or prospects of interest. Converts and renegadoes of all kinds should take particular care to let the world see they act upon honourable motives; or, whatever approbations they may receive from themselves, and applauses from those they converse with, they may very
well assured that they are the scorn of all good men, and the public marks of infamy and derision.
Irresolution on the schemes of life which offer themselves to our choice, and inconstancy in pursuing them, are the greatest and most universal causes of all our disquiet and unhappiness. When ambition pulls one way, interest another, inclination a third, and perhaps reason contrary to all, a man is likely to pass his time but ill who has so
many different parties to please. When the mind hovers among such a variety of allurements, one had better settle on a way of life that is not the very best we might have chosen, than grow old without determining our choice, and go out of the world as the greatest part of mankind do, before we have resolved how to live in it. There is but one method of setting ourselves at rest in this particular, and that is by adhering stedfastly to one great end as the chief and ultimate aim of all our pursuits. If we are firmly resolved to live up to the dictates of reason, without any regard to wealth, reputation, or the like considerations, any more than as they fall in with our principal design, we may go through life with steadiness and pleasure; but if we act by several broken views, and will not only be virtuous, but wealthy, popular, and every thing that has a value set upon it by the world, we shall live and die in misery and repent
One would take more than ordinary care to guard one's self against this particular imperfection, because it is that which our nature very strongly inclines us to; for if we examine ourselves thoroughly, we shall find that we are the most changeable beings in the universe. In respect of our understanding, we often embrace and reject the very same opinions; whereas beings above and beneath us have probably no opinions at all, or at least no wavering and uncertainties in those they have. Our superiors are guided by intuition, and our inferiors by instinct. In respect of our wills, we fall into crimes and recover out of them, are amiable or odious in the eyes of our great Judge, and pass our whole life in offending and asking pardon. On the contrary, the beings underneath us are not capable of sinning, nor
those above us of repenting. The one is out of the possibilities of duty, and the other fixed in an eternal course of sin, or an eternal course of virtue.
There is scarce a state of life, or stage in it, which does not produce changes and revolutions in the mind of man. Our schemes of thought in infancy are lost in those of youth; these too take a different turn in manhood, until old age often leads us back into our former infancy. A new title or an unexpected success throws us out of ourselves, and in a manner destroys our identity. A cloudy day, or a little sun-shine, have as great an influence on many constitutions, as the most real blessing or misfortunes. A dream varies our being, and changes our condition while it lasts; and every passion, not to mention health and sickness, and the greater alterations in body and mind, makes us appear almost different creatures. If a man is so distinguished among other beings by this infirmity, what can we think of such as make themselves remarkable for it even among their own species? It is a very trifling character to be one of the most variable beings of the most variable kind, especially if we consider that he who is the great standard of perfection has in him no shadow of change, but “is the same yesterday, today, and for ever.'
As this mutability of temper and inconsistency with ourselves is the greatest weakness of human nature, so it makes the person who is remarkable for it in a very particular manner more ridiculous than any other infirmity whatsover, as it sets him in a great variety of foolish lights, and distinguishes him from himself by an opposition of party-coloured characters. The most humorous