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long morning, it occurred to me, that this absurdity in practice must have arisen from their not having adverted to the difference there is between the number of hours which intervene between those of six in the morning and three in the afternoon, and the hours which pass between mid-day and six in the evening. To be sensible, indeed, of the ill consequences which such an inverted disposition of the twenty-four hours must occasion to the vigour of our mental and corporeal faculties, requires a degree of reflection greater than that which common arithmetic supplies: they must, therefore, by every rule of calculation, be totally out of the reach of a generation who imagine, that, while they are acting inconsistently with the course of nature, they can gain any enjoyments comparable to those which Na. ture has in store for such as will not strive to counteract what they know it is impossible to transpose.
In restraining too the sallies of vanity and the extravagance of ostentation, the habit of computing the difference between real and apparent numbers would be of considerable use. How much would it reduce the exultation of the owner of a splendid equipage, were he to consider how large a proportion of those who gaze at his carriage, his horses, or his liveries, as he passes through the streets, are not wrapt in admiration, but are tacitly occupied in moralising on the manlier purposes to which that wealth might have been directed, or in inquiring if his estate be equal to his appearance, or if the merit of the man be proportionate to the bril. liancy of the rank he has assumed. In the balance of conversation, a little calculation is eminently useful; and nothing would tend more to sink the courage and reduce the mettle of the forward and loquacious. The attention which such characters excite, by being estimated only in the gross, is placed by themselves to the account of admiration; when, if a separate computation were made of those who are struck dumb by the presumption, or lost in wonder at the folly or the ignorance of the orator, but a small quotient would remain to flatter their conceit, or support their arrogance.
Diffidence is so constitutional in the other sex, that after all the pains taken to extirpate it from the breasts of our young females, by the modern mode of education, so much of it still remains, that any errors of the kind I am noticing, are rather to be ascribed in them to the deceitful flatteries of our sex, than attributed to any high conceit of their own charms: yet even here this exercise of computation may be introduced as an useful guard; and I recommend to my fair readers, when they feel conscious in their fluttering hearts of attracting the eye of every male in company, to spare one moment from their triumph, to consider how disproportionate to the whole number is that of those whose admiration is an honour that ought to flatter female pride, and be truly acceptable to virtuous sensibility ; to consider that a large number, struck only with their outward form, are total strangers to the more subtile and furtive graces of manner and expression, and strangers to the just value of that sensibility of heart, that delicacy of sentiment, and that fidelity of affection, which are the greatest attributes of woman's nature ; that the admiration of others is but the momentary effect of surprise, which soon gives place to uncandid criticisms on that beauty which they before deemed superior to censure ; while the honours of simplicity will be given to design, and the gifts of nature to meretricious decorations. Should they think, however, that they may reasonably count upon the admiration of their own sex a tribute at least sincere, let them reflect upon the various sentiments which excite praise in the bosoms of the fair; let them reflect that it is the lot of some females to owe their praise to their inability to alarm jealousy; let them, in short, allow fairly for the many invidious motives which govern both praise and censure ; and they will see reason to deduct largely from the number of apparent, when they would note the sum of real admirers, and be convinced, that the disinterested love which dwells in mine, is not to be found in the breast of EVERY LOOKER-ON.
As every one knows that commerce could not be carried on without it, it might seem only an affected extension of my subject to speak of calculation as useful to the mercantile and trading world, did not the numbers of those who stop payment in all parts of the island prove that there are, even in this description of my countrymen, many who at least err in their accounts; I cannot, therefore, forbear recommending a more careful attention to the harmony of numbers. It might help to clear obscurities that frequently occur in the books of such traders, whose business is chiefly centered in Guildhall
, were two or three new articles admitted into ledgers, such as entertainments, excursions to watering-places, and subscriptions to public amusements.
It is however a satisfaction to me to think, that our country is by no means destitute of those who are sensible of the advantages of computation. I am well informed, that there are some even of our nobility, who have by practice acquired a very commanding skill in the calculation of chances; and that their success induces others, whose rank adds still greater dignity to the pursuit, to apply to the
same study with a perseverance which neither natural infirmity, reiterated difficulties, nor repeated losses, can vanquish. I am happy to find too, that there are some of my own profession whose proficiency in calculation will help to refute that general charge of indolence, which is frequently and inconsiderately cast on the body of the clergy; since, though they may sometimes be mistaken in the estimate of a life, when, from their earnest desire to be employed in the duties of their calling, they purchase a next presentation, there are many instances, among both incumbents and curates, of extraordinary accuracy in computing the exact number of minutes within which they can contrive to read the church service, or ride from one parish to another.
Among the members of that august assembly by which laws are made for others to observe, we naturally expect to find the practice of every thing that is commendable; and I was not at all surprised at hearing, that the art, in recommendation of which I am now writing, is there so well cultivated, that some members can accurately declare what number will vote on one side of a question, and how many on the other, even before the reasonsfor determining it either
have been heard. But though in an assemblage of men selected from the nation at large, on account of their eminent qualities, partly by the royal adoption, partly by popular esteem, I could not be astonished to find that any thing praiseworthy was pursued; yet it was peculiarly gratifying to me to be informed that the science of numbers was thus studied among them; as I must confess, that what I had read in the public papers of debates on the revenue of the country, in which the orators of different parties undertook to demonstrate, by arithmetic, positions directly contrary to each other, had nearly fixed me in a very low opinion of the calculating powers of the politicians of my country.
I own I have observed how little, in most of their measures, they have considered by what means the happiness of the nation, which consists but in that of the component parts of it, could be gradually furthered; and I recollect but very few measures for the internal benefit of the country, taken up on a broad basis, and framed to extend its happy effects to future generations; although a little disinterested calculation might suggest several improvements in our national economy, which, from their importance, would secure lasting honour to the promoters of them, and make our politicians no longer appear like accountants, whose minds have been contracted by long confinement to the arithmetic of fractions.
As these moral calculations will often come happily in aid of experience to supply the deficiency of years, so will they contribute to reconcile and proximate the differences and contentions of youth and age. By a just estimate of the little lapse of time that has intervened since these passions and propensities were his own, the old man's severity is softened into compassion, and his rebuke into counsel, in contemplating the errors of youth ; while the florid cavalier, in the full tide of blood and spirits, by properly estimating the short interval interposed between this vigorous crisis and the season of decrepitude, or, to keep to the idea of cal. culation, by regarding through the same arithmetical series the decreasing quantity of his manhood, will feel a greater tenderness for those weaknesses which are so soon to be his own allotment, and consequently a kinder interest in administering conso