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Charity is therefore a habit of good will, or benevolence, in the soul, which disposes us to the love, assistance, and relief of mankind, especially of those who stand in need of it. The poor man who has this excellent frame of mind, is no less entitled to the reward of this virtue, than the man who founds a college. For my own part, I am charitable to an extravagance
never saw an indigent person in my life without reaching out to him some of this imaginary relief. I cannot but sympathize with every one I meet that is in affliction; and if my abilities were equal to my wishes, there should be neither pain nor poverty in the world.
To give my reader a right notion of myself in this particular, I shall present him with the secret history of one of the most remarkable parts of my
life. I was once engaged in search of the philosopher's stone. It is frequently observed of men who have been busied in this pursuit, that though they have failed in their principal design, they have, however, made such discoveries in their way to it, as have sufficiently recompensed their inquiries. In the same manner, though I cannot boast of
my success in that affair, I do not repent of my engaging in it, because it produced in my mind such an habitual exercise of charity, as made it much better than perhaps it would have been, had I never been lost in so pleasing a delusion.
As I did not question but I should soon have a new Indies in my possession, I was perpetually taken up in considering how to turn it to the benefit of mankind. In order to it I employed a whole day in walking about this great city, to find out proper places for the erection of hospitals. I had likewise entertained that project, which had since succeeded in another place, of building churches at the court end of the town, with this only difference, that instead of fifty, I intended to have built a hundred, and to have seen them all finished in less than one year.
I had with great pains and application got together a list of all the French Protestants; and by the best accounts I could come at, had calculated the value of all those estates and effects which every one of them had left in his own country for the sake of his religion, being fully determined to make it up to him, and return some of them the double of what they had lost.
As I was one day in my laboratory, my operator, who was
coffers for me, and used to foot it from the other end of the town every morning, complained of a sprain in his leg, that he had met with over against St. Clement's church. This so affected me, that, as a standing mark of my gratitude to him, and out of compassion to the rest of my fellow-citizens, I resolved to new pave every street within the liberties, and entered a memorandum in my pocket-book accordingly. About the same time I entertained some thoughts of mending all the highways on this side the Tweed, and of making all the rivers in England navigable.
But the project I had most at heart, was the settling upon every man in Great Britain three pounds a year, (in which sum may be comprised, according to Sir William Pettit's observations, all the necessities of life,) leaving to them whatever else they could get by their own industry, to lay out on superfluities.
I was above a week debating in myself what I should do in the matter of Impropriations; but at length came to a resolution to buy them all up, and restore them to the church.
As I was one day walking near St. Paul's, I took some time to survey that structure, and not being entirely satisfied with it, though I could not tell why, I had some thoughts of pulling it down, and building it up anew at my own ex. pense.
For my own part, as I have no pride in me, I intended to take
with a coach and six, half a dozen footmen, and live like a private gentleman.
It happtued about this time that public matters looked very gloomy, taxes came hard, the war went on heavily, people complained of the great burdens that were laid upon them; this made me resolve to set aside one morning, to consider seriously the state of the nation. I was the more ready to enter on it, because I was obliged, whether I would or no, to sit at home in my morning gown, having, after a most incredible expense, pawned a new suit of clothes, and a full-bottomed wig, for a sum of money which my operator assured me was the last he should want to bring all matters to bear.
After having considered many projects, I at length resolved to beat the common enemy at his own weapons, and laid & scheme which would have blown him up in a quarter of a year, had things succeeded to my wishes. As I was in this golden dream, somebody knocked at my door. I opened it, and found it was a messenger that brought me a letter from the laboratory. The fellow looked so miserably poor, that I was resolved to make his fortune before he delivered his message; but seeing he brought a letter from my operator, I concluded I was bound to it in honour, as much as a prince is to give a reward to one that brings him the first news of a victory. I knew this was the long-expected hour of projection, and which I had waited for, with great impatience, above half a year before. In short, I broke open my letter in a transport of joy, and found it as follows.
After having got out of you everything you can conveniently spare, I scorn to trespass upon your generous nature, and, therefore, must ingenuously confess to you, that I know no more of the philosopher's stone than you do. I shall only tell you for your comfort, that I never yet could bubble a blockhead out of his money. They must be men of wit and parts who are for my purpose. This made me apply myself to a person of your wealth and ingenuity. How I have succeeded, you yourself can best tell. "Your humble servant to command,
THOMAS WHITE.” “I have locked up the laboratory, and laid the key under the door.”
I was very much shocked at the unworthy treatment of this man, and not a little mortified at my disappointment,
, though not so much for what I myself, as what the public, suffered by it. I think, however, I ought to let the world know what I designed for them, and hope that such of my readers who find they had a share in my good intentions, will accept of the will for the deed.
No. 167. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22.
Fata viam invenient
The following story is lately translated out of an Arabian manuscript, which I think has very much the turn of an Oriental tale, and as it has never before been printed, I question not but it will be acceptable to my reader.
The name of Helim is still famous through all the eastern parts of the world. He is called among the Persians, even to this day, Helim the great physician. He was acquainted with all the powers of simples, understood all the influences of the stars, and knew the secrets that were engraved on the seal of Solomon the son of David. Helim was also governor of the Black Palace, and chief of the physicians to Alnareschin, the great king of Persia.
Alnareschin was the most dreadful tyrant that ever reigned in his country. He was of a fearful, suspicious, and cruel nature, having put to death upon very slight jealousies and surmises five and thirty of his queens, and above twenty sons, whom he suspected to have conspired against his life. Being at length wearied with the exercise of so many cruelties in his own family, and fearing lest the whole race of caliphs should be entirely lost, he one day sent for Helim, and spoke to him after this manner. “Helim, (said he,) I have long admired thy great wisdom, and retired way of living. I shall now show thee the entire confidence which I place in thee. I have only two sons remaining, who are yet but infants. It is my design that thou take them home with thee, and educate them as thy own. Train them up in the humble, unambitious pursuits after knowledge. By this means shall the line of caliphs be preserved, and
children succeed after me, without aspiring to my throne whilst I am
“ The words of my lord the king shall be obeyed,” said Helim. After which he bowed, and went out of the king's presence. He then received the children into his own house, and from that time bred them up with him in the studies of knowledge and virtue. The young princes loved and respected Helim as their father, and made such improvements under him, that by the age of one and twenty they
were instructed in all the learning of the East. The name of the eldest was Ibrahim, and of the youngest Abdallah. They lived together in such a perfect friendship, that to this day it is said of intimate friends that they live together like Ibrahim and Abdallah. Helim had an only child, who was a girl of a fine soul, and a most beautiful person. Her father omitted nothing in her education that might make her the most accomplished woman of her age. As the young princes were in a manner excluded from the rest of the world, they frequently conversed with this lovely virgin, who had been brought up by her father in the same course of knowledge and of virtue. Abdallah, whose mind was of a softer turn than that of his brother, grew by degrees so enamoured of her conversation, that he did not think he lived when he was not in company with his beloved Balsora, for that was the name of the maid. The fame of her beauty was so great, that at length it came to the ears of the king, who, pretending to visit the young princes his sons, demanded of Helim the sight of Balsora his fair daughter. The king was so inflamed with her beauty and behaviour, that he sent for Helim the next morning, and told him it was now his design to recompense him for all his faithful services : and that in order to it, he intended to make his daughter queen of Persia. Helim, who knew very well the fate of all those unhappy women who had thus been advanced, and could not but be privy to the secret love which Abdallah bore his daughter, “Far be it, (said he,) from the king of Persia to contaminate the blood of the caliphs, and join himself in marriage with the daughter of his physician.'
The king, however, was so impatient for such a bride, that without hearing any excuses, he immediately ordered' Balsora to be sent for into his presence, keeping the father with him, in order to make her sensible of the honour which he designed her. Balsora, who was too modest and humble to think her beauty had made such an impression on the king, was a few moments after brought into his presence as he had commanded.
She appeared in the king's eye as one of the virgins of Paradise. But, upon hearing the honour which he intended her, she fainted away, and fell down as dead at his feet. Helim wept, and, after having recovered her out of the trance into which she was fallen, represented to the king that so unex