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A Poor Man Post by :singh_punjabi Category :Essays Author :John Earle Date :September 2011 Read :2815

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A Poor Man

Is the most impotent man, though neither blind nor lame, as wanting the more necessary limbs of life, without which limbs are a burden. A man unfenced and unsheltered from the gusts of the world, which blow all in upon him, like an unroofed house; and the bitterest thing he suffers is his neighbours. All men put on to him a kind of churlisher fashion, and even more plausible natures are churlish to him, as who are nothing advantaged by his opinion. Whom men fall out with before-hand to prevent friendship, and his friends too to prevent engagements, or if they own him 'tis in private and a by-room, and on condition not to know them before company. All vice put together is not half so scandalous, nor sets off our acquaintance farther; and even those that are not friends for ends do not love any dearness with such men. The least courtesies are upbraided to him, and himself thanked for none, but his best services suspected as handsome sharking and tricks to get money. And we shall observe it in knaves themselves, that your beggarliest knaves are the greatest, or thought so at least, for those that have wit to thrive by it have art not to seem so. Now a poor man has not vizard enough to mask his vices, nor ornament enough to set forth his virtues, but both are naked and unhandsome; and though no man is necessitated to more ill, yet no man's ill is less excused, but it is thought a kind of impudence in him to be vicious, and a presumption above his fortune. His good parts lye dead upon his hands, for want of matter to employ them, and at the best are not commended but pitied, as virtues ill placed, and we may say of him, "Tis an honest man, but tis pity;" and yet those that call him so will trust a knave before him. He is a man that has the truest speculation of the world, because all men shew to him in their plainest and worst, as a man they have no plot on, by appearing good to; whereas rich men are entertained with a more holy-day behaviour, and see only the best we can dissemble. He is the only he that tries the true strength of wisdom, what it can do of itself without the help of fortune; that with a great deal of virtue conquers extremities, and with a great deal more his own impatience, and obtains of himself not to hate men.

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John Earle's essay: Poor Man

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