Alwyn: or the gentleman comedian. In two volumes. ...: [pt.1]
WORKS of imagination have ever been the ornament of civilized nations. The progreſs from barbariſm to politeneſs is always accompanied by a ſimilar gradation in the perfection of literary amuſements. The eaſieſt, conſequently the earlieſt, of theſe amuſements was fable: among the various kinds of which, the narrative, as the moſt ſimple and natural, was the firſt. In the ruder ages men liſtened, with avidity, to tales of the utmoſt ſimplicity▪ the ſtory of the Belly and the Members could calm the rage of a mutinous people. [Page ii] Writers who wiſh, at preſent, to teach Morality by fiction, have greater difficulties to encounter: the ſhallow artifices of the wolf, the fox, and the lion are too eaſily diſcovered, and are only, now, devoted to the inſtruction and recreation of children. Character, incident, deſign, diction, probability, &c. are requiſite to attract the attention of readers, beyond a certain ſphere. It would be, perhaps, a uſeleſs, as well as a difficult taſk to diſcover, whether the ancients poſſeſſed any ſpecies of writing that may be claſſed with what is meant by the word Novel. The want of a quality which ſeems peculiar to modern Europe, and is diſtinguiſhed by the name of GALLANTRY, muſt have [Page iii] given ſuch compoſitions a turn very different from the productions of the preſent time.
IN the dark ages, when bigotry and zeal had, almoſt, obliterated every trace of ancient literature, the only writings, meant for amuſement, were the legends of ſaints; in which the marvellous was, alone, predominant. Secure from criticiſm, by the tremendous alliance between their works and THE FAITH, the more improbable the ſtory, the greater was its merit, with this ſpecies of writers. Their imaginations thus emancipated, their ſaints became warriors, the extravagant fables of the old poets were out-done, and the champions of Chriſtendom rivalled the worthies of Greece. [Page iv] They overcame monſters and giants; purſued necromancers through lakes of fire; till by their proweſs, and prayers, they ſent the inchanters, blaſpheming through the air, on the backs of fiery dragons, and made their caſtles vaniſh. Theſe authors ſeem to have had a confuſed idea of the Grecian fables: a ſimilarity to the Cyclops, Hydras, Minotaurs, Syrens and Circes, may eaſily be traced. The Phoenicians, Egyptians, Libyans, Grecians, Gauls, each had a Hercules, who performed wonderful, and impoſſible things. The monks invented one for the Chriſtians; only they called him St. George. But as he was, more particularly, the hero of England, by being its tutelary ſaint, each powerful [Page v] ſtate was allotted a champion. One of theſe, St. Dennis for France, Voltaire has made a principal perſonage in the machinery of his Henriade.
THESE miraculous tales were ſucceeded by romances of voluminous magnitude, in which the paſſion of love was drawn in the moſt hyperbolical manner; ſuch were Clelia, the grand Cyrus, &c. A ſameneſs of character, of incident, of language, pervaded the whole. Plot they had none, and but one moral diſtributed through the endleſs pages of endleſs volumes: yet theſe were the entertainment of the gay and the polite, and were held in eſtimation ſo late as at the end of the laſt century.
[Page vi] MODERN writers uſe the word Romance, to ſignify a fictitious hiſtory of detached and independent adventures; and, under that idea, call the Telemaque of Fenelon, and the Cyrus of Ramſay, Romances. Le S [...]ge's Gil Blas, and Smollet's Roderick Random, though of a different ſpecies, come under the ſame denomination. A Novel is another kind of work. Unity of deſign is its character. In a Romance, if the incidents be well marked and related with ſpirit, the intention is anſwered; and adventures paſs before the view for no other purpoſe than to amuſe by their peculiarity, without, perhaps, affecting the main ſtory, if there ſhould be one. But in a Novel, a combination of incidents, [Page vii] entertaining in themſelves, are made to form a whole; and an unneceſſary circumſtance becomes a blemiſh, by detaching from the ſimplicity which is requiſite to exhibit that whole to advantage. Thus, as in dramatic works, thoſe circumſtances which do not tend, either to the illuſtration, or forwarding the main ſtory, or, which do not mark ſome character, or perſon in the drama, are to be eſteemed unneceſſary.
HENCE it appears, the legitimate Novel is a work much more difficult than the Romance, and juſtly deſerves to be ranked with thoſe dramatic pieces whoſe utility is generally allowed. Novels have fallen into diſrepute. Love-ſick girls and boys [Page viii] are ſuppoſed to be the only perſons capable of being amuſed by them: and, while a poverty of ſtile, a want of knowledge of the human heart, of men and manners; while a puny tale of love and misfortune, croſs fathers, and unhappy children, unnatural rigour, and unaccountable reconciliation, without diſcrimination of character, without variety of incident, with but one ſet of phraſes, one languid, inanimate deſcription, with ſcarce a ſingle ray of imagination to comfort the diſconſolate reader, are their great characteriſtics, Novels ſhall continue to want admirers: but Tom Jones ſhall never want admirers.
- LETTER I. Mr. ALWYN, to Mr. HILKIRK, a Comedian at Carliſle. Alwyn relates the ill State of his Health, and the Diſorder of his Mind. Wiſhes to leave London, and join the Comedians, 1
- LETTER II. Mr. HILKIRK, to Mr. ALWYN. Hilkirk aſſerts his ſuperior Claim to Miſfortune. His Reſolution to ſet it at Defiance. Procures Alwyn an Engagement [Page x] in the Company, which he is upon the Point of leaving. Begins a Narration of his Adventures. His Country Education. Taken to London by Mr. Seldon. Falls in love with his Maſter's Niece. His Paſſion for Gaming. Mr. Turnbull's Conduct. Scene at a Spouting Club. Julia's Affection for him, and Perfidy, 6
- LETTER III. Mr. ALWYN, to Mr. STAMFORD, Junior. Alwyn arrives at Kendal. Reflections on the Change of Scene. Interrogated by the People [...] Maria, 29
- LETTER IV. Mr. HILKIRK, to Mr. ALWYN. Continuation of Adventures. The Billiard Table, and its Conſequences. Quits the [Page xi] Family of Seldon. Meets with Evans, and is introduced to Macloughlin, a popular Comedian. His Reception. Macloughlin's Character. Applies to Mr. Foote. Rehearſes Pierre. Advice to Actors, by a Maſter of the Art. Undertakes the Office of Prompter for the Dublin Theatre, at the Inſtigation of Macloughlin, 37
- LETTER V. Mr. STAMFORD, Junior, to Mr. ALWYN. State of the Family ſince Alwyn's Departure. Maria's Melancholy. Intelligence concerning Maitland, and Marriage. Condolence, 70
- LETTER VI. Mr. MAITLAND, to Mr. STAMFORD, Sen. A Mathematical Inveſtigation of the common Inducements to Matrimony, 78
- [Page xii] LETTER VII. Mr. HILKIRK, to Mr. ALWYN. Arrives at Dublin. A Specimen of the Brogue. Reflections. Character of the Manager. No Favourite. Macloughlin's ill Treatment of him. His Diſtreſs, Reſcue, and Departure. Storm at Sea. Marine Superſtition. Expedition to Leeds. Ditto to Hereford. Concludes his Narrative, 82
- LETTER VIII. Miſs STAMFORD, to Miſs GOWLAND. Friendſhip. Love. Its Origin. Alwyn's Poetry, 107
- LETTER IX. Mr. STAMFORD, Junior, to Mr. ALWYN. Traits of Maitland, Maria, and Julia Gowland. The Youthful Amuſements of [Page xii] ſome of the ſenior Perſonages. The Progreſſion of a warm Imagination inſtanced in the elder Mr. Maitland. 117
- LETTER X. Mr. ALWYN, to Mr. STAMFORD, Junior. Paſſionate Reflections. The Laws and Regulations of Travelling Comedians deſcribed, 128
- LETTER XI. TRUNCHEON STENTOR, to JEMMY DRUMSHANDRUGH. Vexatious Accidents. Trifles neceſſary for Stage Heroes. Alwyn occaſions Fears and Jealouſies. Stentor requeſts an Engagement in caſe of a Repulſe, 135
- [Page xiv] LETTER XII. DRUMSHANDRUGH, to STENTOR. Phoebe Tullaghan, Mr. Pot, and others. An Engagement for Mrs. Stentor, 143
- LETTER XIII. Mr. MAITLAND, Junior, to STAFFORD OSBORNE, Eſq Journey to Maitland Hall. Road Adventures. A Methodiſt, and a School-maſter, 150
- LETTER XIV. The SAME, to the SAME. An Apparition, or "Talk of the Devil, "and you'll ſee his Horns." A Method to prevent Travellers from overſleeping themſelves. Thunder, Lightning, and a [Page xv] Jack Aſs. Saints know how to turn the Penny, 158
- LETTER XV. Mr. ALWYN, to Mr. STAMFORD, Junior. Alwyn appears in the Character of Romeo. Is ſupported by Mr. Weſtwood. Acquires great Fame. A Song, 175
- LETTER XVI. Mr. STAMFORD, Junior, to Mr. ALWYN. Deſcription of Maitland-hall. Refined Speculations of Mr. Maitland, Senior. His Son no great Favourite with the elder Mr. Stamford, 185
I HAVE received a letter from our old ſchool-fellow Pendril, who ſaw you as he paſſed through Carliſle. I need not tell you it gave me great pleaſure to hear that you ſtill exiſt in health and ſpirits, after the chaſm which your abſence has occaſioned in [Page 2] our friendſhip; and though your ſituation, as a travelling comedian, is ſuch as ſome of your old acquaintance would not be over ready to recognize you under, yet, were I weak enough to be thus influenced, the affectation in me would not only be mean, but ridiculous. My hereditary hopes do not ſurpaſs your's; and, could certain conſiderations be removed, I don't know but it might be more agreeable to my ſentiments (call it pride if you pleaſe) to live by my own labour, than by that of the dead— I am not unacquainted with the natural hilarity and chearfulneſs of your temper, and I am of opinion that (no matter what the rank in life) while the mind is chearful, the man is happy.—Cincinnatus at the plough, it is moſt probable, was happier than Cincinnatus in the ſenate—I know you begin to ſuſpect this grave lecture: few, I believe, preach about [Page 3] happineſs, till they themſelves either are, or have been unhappy—I own to you I am altered. The ſmiles and pleaſures are fled; a gloom overhangs my youth, and has ſhut out the ſun; my health declines, and my worthy Patron—(Patron?—Friend! —Father!—all theſe cannot expreſs the ſenſe I have of his goodneſs) wiſhes me to reſide in the country for ſome time.— I wiſh it myſelf—I cannot be eaſy where I am—my diſorder will increaſe—Not that I am anxious about life—it is a comfort that, ſooner or later, all our cares ſhall end: and no ſentiment ever came with greater force to me than that which Macbeth, where the poet repreſents him torn and diſtracted with a thouſand fears, thus utters:
Theſe reflections are the cordials of my life. Enough of this.Better be with the deadThan on the torture of the mind to lieIn reſtleſs extaſy.—Duncan is in his grave—After life's fitful fever he ſleeps well.Treaſon has done his worſt, Nor ſteel nor poiſonCan touch him further.
You will be ſurprized, perhaps, when I tell you that I have an inclination to become an actor. Hear my reaſons: I muſt either find a means of ſubſiſtence, or live upon the bounty of others. The firſt is agreeable to me; the latter I can never conſent to, though Mr. Stamford would ſupply me with the greateſt chearfulneſs. As it is neceſſary I ſhould live ſome time in the country, I can think of no ſcheme ſo eligible as this; and ſhall be glad if you will enquire of your brother comedians, whether they are willing to admit me of the ſociety.
I DO not mean to inform my maſter of my intention; none but ſuch as I [Page 5] approve need know of my ſituation; which, I confeſs, I ſhall be almoſt aſhamed of: I ſhould, however, be more aſhamed to be idle; and the country affords no other ſource of employment to me. Our mutual and early friendſhip is another inducement.
SHOULD you perceive any thing improper, either in the application to your brother comedians, or from any other circumſtance, let not this be any reſtraint, but act agreeably to reaſon and your own feelings, which will be both approved and applauded by one who is perfectly conſcious of the delicacy and propriety of them, and who is proud to have the honour of ſubſcribing himſelf
Your ſincere and affectionate Friend, H. H. ALWYN.
I Received your letter, and, I believe, I need not take much pains to deſcribe to you the pleaſure I enjoy from this inſtance of the continuance of your attachment. The bitter has ſo far predominated over the ſweet, during my peregrination in this vile world, that I begin already to have a large proportion of cynical eſſence in my compoſition, though not enough to overpower the pleaſure I receive in Alwyn's friendſhip. You will readily believe this, when you recollect the avidity with which I always ſought your company, and the delight I took in it.
[Page 7] I AM ſorry to obſerve the air of melancholy ſo prevalent in your epiſtle—it is not natural to you. The lines of deſpair are marked ſtrongly in your mind —it is beneath you—you that have taſted friendſhip from all, ſmiles from all, love from all. 'Tis enough for wretches like me, outcaſts from ſociety, to indulge the gloom: but I am above it. Is the weather cloudy? I tune my pipe; no matter where, the cottage or the palace: 'tis hard if I don't find ſomebody to dance.—Does the ſun ſhine? let me enjoy the ſmiles of the ſeaſon while I can. My muſic is flown to the fields, I follow it; it warbles from the thorn, it tinkles in the tears of the wandering brook, it mourns in the plaintive ſong of the widowed linnet—Let it—'tis muſic ſtill, and muſic only will I bear. Does the ſleet of contempt batter my face, or the biting froſt of diſappointment [Page 8] aſſault my feelings?—I am prepared better than Moor, of Moor-hall, for the dragon—I have armour of iambics, a ſhield of raillery, and a ſword of ſatire, more powerful than the ſword of my old aſſociate harlequin. I ſend a herald in the form of a gooſe-quill, ‘to hurl defiance in their teeth.’ Tragic, comic, and farcical ſcenes are exhibited continually on the world's great theatre; their frequency has made them familiar, and I reſolve henceforth to be rather a ſpectator than an actor: I have played the fool in the farce too often.
I AM ſorry that I ſhall not have the pleaſure of ſeeing you, having agreed to take upon me the management of a company that travels in the weſt, and being to ſet off, the day after to-morrow, to Taunton, in Somerſetſhire, whither my [Page 9] baggage is already gone. I have ſpoken to our manager reſpecting your coming hither; and, from the deſcription I have given of your perſon and abilities, he is anxious to ſee you, and declares you are the very man he wants. The company go from hence to Kendal the next week, and he is deſirous of meeting you there, to open the houſe. Had I known your intention before I made this new engagement, I ſhould have been happy in an opportunity of renewing our friendſhip perſonally; as it is, I muſt content myſelf with the pleaſure of a frequent correſpondence, which I hope you will have no objection to.
'TIS long ſince I have had the pleaſure of your converſation; accident has continued to deprive me of it. To encourage you to a correſpondence, to [Page 10] which I have invited you, I will relate the hiſtory of my adventures, from a ſuppoſition that they will not prove entirely unintereſting.
JILTED by a girl, abandoned by my friend, my unprovided bark puſhed from the ſtrand by a violent paſſion for an unworthy object, whom yet I can ſcarce forbear to love, into dangerous and unknown ſeas, no wary pilot to direct my courſe, I ignorantly ran on lee ſhores, allured by promiſing appearances; and, to ſtretch my metaphor, preſently became a wreck among ſavages, in a ſtrange land.—‘By the waters of Babylon I ſat down and wept.’
IT is now near four years ſince I left London and my companions; at which period I was ſcarce twenty, and you not above eighteen; ſo that though we uſed [Page 11] to amuſe ourſelves in our converſation, long before, upon rational ſubjects, yet having little care about the future fortune of our lives, we did not enquire much into each others views. It is not the character of that age to be very ſolicitous about to-morrow. I ſhall therefore relate ſuch incidents as are neceſſary to form the connection of my little hiſtory, leſt it ſhould elſe be unintelligible.
THERE are ſeveral circumſtances in my life which, were they methodiſed, properly ſpun out, and interlarded with an epiſode or two between Mr. Somebody and Miſs Any-body, would furniſh the circulating libraries with two handſome pocket volumes. The firſt that I ſhall mention, and not the leaſt extraordinary, is, that I am utterly ignorant of my parents, or even whether I ever had a father or no. Excuſe this [Page 12] ſtale attempt at a joke, and ſuffer me to trifle with my miſeries. I remember little of my infantine ſtate, except being bred among fields, farm-houſes, and country peaſants. I was removed from theſe, at an early age, to a cheap ſchool in Yorkſhire, where I continued till my fourteenth year; at which period the maſter informed me he could keep me no longer, for that the perſon who had placed me with him was dead, and my board and education already ten months in arrear; but that a London gentleman had enquired if he had any boy of good intellects among his ſcholars who wanted a proviſion; that he, the ſchoolmaſter, had recommended me, and, upon his recommendation, the gentleman had agreed to take me, provided I conſented to go, which he adviſed me by all means to do. The idea of being freed from the fear of birch, of which our good [Page 13] governor, upon every trivial miſdemeanor, was as liberal as he was penurious in the articles of food and cloathing, together with the hope of ſeeing a city that I had heard ſo wonderfully deſcribed, operated ſufficiently on my fancy, to make me receive this propopoſal with joy. I had not, however, lived ſo many years with my play-mates, without having formed a few friendſhips among them; but theſe, though they coſt me ſome tears at parting, were preſently forgot in the overflowings of a rapid imagination.
I ARRIVED with Mr. Seldon, my new patron and maſter, in London, the latter end of October. You are not ignorant of the character of this worthy man. He took me to his houſe in Chancery-lane, where I underwent a long examination reſpecting my education. [Page 14] This was a ſource of flattery to me. I was univerſally allowed the beſt ſcholar in the ſeminary from whence I had been taken, and, for three years paſt, had been little obliged to my inſtructors. Excluſive of the claſſics, I had made a tolerable ſtride into mathematics, and had often ſurpriſed old Declenſion himſelf with philoſophical experiments, which I had learnt from two or three books, that, till I condeſcended to look at them, had been neglected, and thrown about the ſchool, among other lumber. I was the more powerfully induced to theſe exerciſes by the wonder they excited, and the fame I acquired. Mr. Seldon expreſſed much ſatisfaction at my progreſs; and, after paying me ſome compliments, told me he would now recommend other ſubjects to my notice. The ſtudy of juriſprudence, the knowledge of the natural and [Page 15] civil rights of mankind, and in what manner they are preſerved or injured by the laws exiſting in this country, he ſaid, would make me valuable to ſociety; and recommended me to the care of Mr. Turnbull, a man whom I am ſure you muſt have obſerved, during your intimacy at our houſe.
MR. SELDON was upwards of fifty, had no wife nor family, except Julia Gowland, an orphan niece, of about twelve years old, whom he had taken from a boarding-ſchool, where he had placed her, being not only diſſatisfied with the oeconomy of the houſe, but likewiſe deſirous of her company, and taking himſelf, in a great meaſure, the care of inuring her to proper habits. His turn of thinking reſpecting education and habit was ſingular, yet, in my opinion, juſt. Boys, he ſaid, ſhould [Page 16] be ſteeped in adverſity, caſe-hardened in miſery, during their youth; it gives them fortitude to ſupport every change of fortune; it makes them ſenſible of the ſimplicity with which man ought to live; and ſhews them the folly and real inutility of numberleſs things, which, by ſome, are deemed abſolutely neceſſary to exiſtence. It is the beſt ſchool of morality to a ſtrong mind. Girls ſhould be made ſenſible how much mildneſs and reſignation contribute to their happineſs; ſhould be taught to ſupport contradiction with chearfulneſs and ſmiles. This is the duty as much of man as woman; but it is the great ſource of pleaſure to the latter. Huſbands are enchanted by mildneſs and acquieſcence from their wives; they feel their own ſuperiority in point of ſtrength; they fancy it in point of underſtanding; their free commerce with the world, which is [Page 17] denied to the other ſex, together with the advantages of education, tend to confirm this opinion. Youths ſhould endure hardſhips, but not be ſuffered to ſink under them. Females ſhould be taught the virtue and neceſſity of a ſtill tongue, and a ſmiling countenance. Such were the ſentiments of a man, who proved his wiſdom by the conſiſtency of his conduct, and the order of his affairs.
THERE is in the boy and girl age a ſuſceptibility of attachment, which we afterwards loſe, though with ſome regret. I had not been long in Mr. Seldon's family, before Julia and I began reciprocally to feel a tender inclination; it did not immediately appear, though it inſenſibly increaſed. We delighted, as lovers do, in mutual offices of kindneſs; we began to ſigh, to languiſh, as our years increaſed; and, before I was [Page 18] eighteen, I was deeply in love. Mr. Seldon did not at firſt ſeem ſuſpicious of the conſequence, but was pleaſed with the ſimplicity of our affection. Young as I was, I had ſagacity enough to make this obſervation, and interpreted it to my own advantage. I am become a favourite, ſaid I, my maſter loves me, and intends to give me his niece. The ſequel will ſhew how wretchedly I deceived myſelf.
EXCLUSIVE of my paſſion for Julia, I was not exempted from other youthful foibles; I loved dreſs, but, what was worſe, I had addicted myſelf to a habit of frequenting a billiard-table. My delight in the game ſoon taught me to play tolerably; and the warmth of my temper not only engaged me to ſport far beyond diſcretion, but made me an eaſy prey to much inferior gameſters with [Page 19] cooler heads; to which add my fondneſs for theatrical diverſions, and my conſtant attendance at a ſpouting-club, and you will eaſily perceive the ſeeds of misfortune, which have ſince ſprung up ſo thick, and the improbability of my continuing to enjoy the favour and protection of Mr. Seldon.
MR. TURNBULL, the upper clerk, whom I mentioned, from my firſt entrance into the family appeared to have a particular partiality for me, and had taken almoſt as much pains in giving me proper advice as Mr. Seldon himſelf, without ſeeming to regard my little deviations from virtue with ſo ſevere an eye: but this man's conduct has been to me inexplicable. When any extravagancy had plunged me into a difficulty that affected my temper, and made it viſible, Turnbull would never let me [Page 20] reſt till I had acquainted him with the cauſe of my trouble, nor ever failed to aſſiſt me, but then, I had great reaſon, from ſeveral hints, more particularly from my maſter's behaviour, to believe that he ſometimes acquainted Mr. Seldon with it.
I HAVE ſaid that I frequented a ſpouting-club. This ſociety was held at a reputable public houſe, up one pair of ſtairs. After I had, in compliance with the uſual forms, paid for my ticket, and paſſed the bar, I ſaw one of my companions below, that prevented me from immediately going up: While he held me in converſation, I heard a voice, familiar [Page 21] enough to me, enquire if Mr. Hilkirk was there; the landlady anſwered in the affirmative; and, turning to look who the enquirer was, I ſaw the back of Mr. Turnbull, paſſing quick out of the door. I was rather alarmed. I dreaded leſt Mr. Seldon ſhould come to the knowledge of my tricks, and I ſuſpected Turnbull. This fear, however, preſently evaporated, and I joined the roarers above, whoſe tragic ſtarts, ſounding thro' the ceiling, operated ſtrongly on my imagination. It came to my turn to exhibit, and I choſe that ſcene in Macbeth, where the bloody dagger appears in the air. I was dreſt in a habit, made in imitation of Garrick's, with ſhaloon and tinſel.
Banquo and Fleance had made their exit, and I was proceeding, with infinite applauſe, through the ſoliloquy: Juſt as I came to that place, where the hero ſays [Page 22] to the ſuppoſed dagger, "I ſee thee ſtill," my aſtoniſhed eye caught the terrible form of Mr. Seldon; the effect this had upon me was evident from the audience; my knees knocked, my eyes were wild and rivetted, my voice faultered— I repeated,
The picture of terror was ſo perfect, that the room echoed with plaudits; but the ſcene was quickly changed.—I endeavoured to proceed—"There's no ſuch thing," ſaid I, ſtaring at Mr. Seldon, ‘It is the bloody buſineſs which informs thus to mine eyes.’—‘You are miſtaken young man,’ anſwered he, with the graveſt face imaginable, "it is no viſion." This immediately turned the eyes of the whole aſſembly upon my maſter, in a moment their ſerious praiſe was converted into the [Page 23] loudeſt laughs, while Mr. Seldon, with the ſame gravity, commanded me to pull off that merry Andrew's jacket, and quit enacting of the monarch, in order to retire to my truckle bed, under the deſk.— At this ſpeech, the rafters once more trembled with the roar of laughter, which from the complexion of the gentry there gathered together, would doubtleſs have been augmented with catcalls, ſhouts, and hiſſes, had not the deportment of Mr. Seldon, which in ſpite of impudence, commanded reſpect, in ſome degree over-awed their mirth.I ſee thee ſtill,And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood,Which was not ſo before.
MY ſituation was truly pitiable, I uncaſed, and my maſter, with a ſlow voice and bow, accompanied by the moſt ſerious look of ridicule and ſatire, wiſhed all the good company a very good night, while I ſkulked after him, more abaſhed than Therſites by the ſtern eye of Ulyſſes. [Page 24] The next morning Mr. Seldon ſpoke to me to the following effect:—‘By my behaviour to you laſt night, young man, you may be convinced I have ſome regard for you, I engaged in a very aukward affair, inconſiſtent to my character, and diſagreeable to my inclination, purpoſely to expoſe your abſurdity in ſo ſtrong a light, that you could not help feeling it. Theſe ſocieties, among which I underſtand you are become a leading man, have an idle, ridiculous, and vicious tendency, therefore, if you deſire to gain my eſteem, let me hear no more of your kingly antics.’
AT the moment this counſel was given, I thought I would obſerve it more religiouſly than if it had been a mandate delivered by an angel: I have only in excuſe, the plea of the converted infidel, [Page 25] ‘the fleſh was willing, but the ſpirit was weak.’
IT would be tedious, at leaſt, to any but lovers, to relate the progreſs of love. Let it be ſufficient to ſay, that our paſſion was arrived to that ſtage which produced mutual declarations, and vows of everlaſting fidelity. Convinced, as I thought, of her diſintereſtedneſs and ſincerity, enchanted by her beauty and the ſoftneſs and ſweetneſs of her manners, my affection became violent. After the above explanation, my purſuit of other pleaſures was, for ſome time, entirely abated: her ſociety was perfect happineſs, her company and converſation, I [Page 26] believed to be abſolutely neceſſary to my exiſtence; but, alas, I have proved the poſſibility of exiſting without them. Repeated aſſeverations of conſtancy, continual opportunities of indulging in all the languor of delicate and exceſſive love, which we did, as far as we could with innocence, and without diſcovering our paſſion, I had no dread of meeting oppoſition from any but Mr. Seldon.
WE had been ſo cautious, for ſome months after the avowal of our affection, that I had no reaſon to believe we were ſuſpected: whether I was deceived in this, or whether we became leſs guarded, I know not; but by accident, I over-heard Mr. Seldon ſaying ſomething to Mr. Turnbull, to the following effect:—‘I'll ſuffer it no longer; I am reſolved he [Page 27] ſhall quit this family. His temper irregular, his paſſions untamed, he is no way calculated to make either her, or himſelf happy; he would be fond for a week, captious and overbearing within a month, and become completely miſerable in a very ſhort time; to ſuffer him to marry with his preſent inexperience, raſhneſs, and want of proper habits, were more unmerciful, than to caſt him into the ſea.’— I hardly knew whether to apply the above diſcourſe to myſelf, or not; it deſcribed Mr. Seldon's friendſhip for me, in ſo lively a manner, that I had ſome reaſon to hope it true on the one hand, while on the other, it cut me off from every proſpect of felicity.
BUT what ſhall I ſay to the conduct of Julia, who, of a ſudden, and without aſſigning any reaſon, became diſtant and [Page 28] ceremonious, even to diſdain, as I imagined. Inſtead of contrivances to throw herſelf in my way, which, I had before obſerved with pleaſure, ſhe took every method to avoid me. If, by chance, I caught her alone, ſhe would break from me, and threaten to inform Mr. Seldon, if I perſiſted in detaining her. This might be prudent, but I am certain it was perfidious. It agreed but ill with her former proteſtations.
WHY ſhould I torture myſelf to relate more of this tale than is neceſſary? It upbraids me, it reminds me of my weakneſs. My preſent feelings convince me, I have not yet forgotten the traitreſs. I muſt quit the ſubject for this time. I have raiſed a train of images, that do not contribute to my tranquillity. Adieu,
IN obedience to your commands, I take the advantage of the firſt poſt-day, to inform you of my ſafe arrival at Kendal. To a mind perfectly at eaſe, the contraſt between Weſtmoreland and London muſt be very forcible. Notwithſtanding the little leiſure I, who am under the influence of an unconquerable paſſion can find, I yet cannot entirely forbear, to obſerve the ſudden change of ſcene. It ſeems ſcarce an hour, ſince the noiſe of London, with her ten thouſand carriages, rattled in my ears. I liſten, and find myſelf conveyed to the region of ſilence. The face of the country, likewiſe, is as different as the moſt romantic imagination can ſuppoſe. No beautiful green hedges interſecting the [Page 30] plain; no regular rows of ſtately elms, or ſpreading oaks, meet the eye, but uncouth ſtone-walls, vaſt wilds, and prodigious mountains. Nature appears bleak and unadorned, but grand and capacious. Here and there a ſtraggling peaſant is ſeen, with wooden ſhoes and lank hair, unconſcious of what we call grace and elegance, and cloathed only to defend him from the aſſaults of the ſeaſon. Here, ever object is bleached, as it were, by time and ſimplicity: in London, a ſatiriſt would add, every thing is ſullied by ſmoak, hypocriſy, and detraction. Not that I ſhould admire either the wit, or ſentiment of the expreſſion.
MEN are naturally much the ſame, and, conſidering the vaſt number of them who inhabit that great city, I am often aſtoniſhed at the order and tranquillity which are generally preſerved. If the [Page 31] people here are honeſter or happier, it is becauſe they have not ſo many temptations. The glittering of equipage, the blaze of tapers, the inchantments of muſic, routs, balls, operas, gaudy colours, lewd women, decorated in all the emblazonments of art, folly, and faſhion; ſuch allurements tempt not, inflame not the imagination of the inhabitants of the wilds in Weſtmoreland. A ſmall aſſembly among the gentry and opulent tradeſmen, and the players for about ſix or eight weeks, conſtitute their higheſt ideas of public luxury. Neither are thoſe wanting, who inveigh, with great warmth and acrimony, againſt theſe amuſements, eſpecially the latter. This is not wonderful, when we recollect, that great part of the inhabitants of Kendal are Quakers. They have an excellent faculty of ſtaring at a ſtranger; and I was queſtioned to-day, by ſome of [Page 32] the old dons, who are the only people here that think themſelves privileged to aſk impertinent queſtions, how ſuch a good looking young man as I, as they were pleaſed to call me, could think of becoming a player.
MY landlord tells me, he doubts I am a wild young dog. His wife ſays, ſhe is afraid my poor mother has many an aching heart upon my account; for ſhe is ſure I am ſome good body's ſon, who has had a world of trouble to bring me up. I told her that my mother is living; and ſhe became very importunate for me to return home, and ſave her from breaking her heart. This converſation happened laſt night, and I aſſure you, I went to bed quite low-ſpirited, with her good old-faſhioned exhortations. Indeed, I am ſo well convinced of my dear mother's tenderneſs, that I [Page 33] am afraid her conjectures are too true. I begin almoſt to repent of my journey. I know no right I have, to mingle wormwood in the bitter cup of old age. However, I wrote into Oxfordſhire by this poſt, and hope my fears are without foundation.
THERE are other reaſons, why I am not the moſt happy mortal in the world. Forgive me, dear Charles. You know my heart. I can conceal nothing from your friendſhip; I ſhould be unworthy of it if I could. Your ſiſter's image lives in my boſom. Oh Maria!—No change of time, of place, or object, can obliterate the memory of thy charms: on the barren mountain, in the fruitful valley, muſing on the gliding ſtream, or ſupine beneath the venerable oak, ſtill ſhall thy welcome recollection call forth the painful, pleaſing ſigh of melancholy; [Page 34] and cauſe to ſteal, unbid, the tear of ſorrow down my cheek.
PITY, but do not blame me. I know I have no pretenſions to ſo amiable, ſo beautiful an object; but who could live in the ſame houſe, and behold her angelic form, hear her enchanting voice, obſerve her benevolent, her ſoul-winning actions, and forbear to adore her? I am conſcious of my own unworthineſs. I know how much my kind patron has the happineſs of his cherubim, as he juſtly calls her, at his heart. I have heard of his intentions: it has been ſaid, there is one whom he wiſhes her to love. I am not to learn how dearly you, my friend, tender your father and ſiſter's tranquillity; and it were the utmoſt baſeneſs in me, to attempt to render thoſe miſerable, were it in my power, whom I have every [Page 35] reaſon to love and revere above all the world.
NO perſon but you, knows my real motive for retiring from my friends. My paſſion was inſupportable, and the peace of your family was concerned. It was painful to fly, but gratitude, friendſhip, and love demanded it. My preſent employment is unknown, and I would have it ſo. My health began to decline, and that was a fair pretence for going into the country. My predilection to the drama made this ſcheme preſent itſelf as the moſt probable one of diverting my ideas from the channel in which they ſo conſtantly flow; but, I am fearful, this, and every thing elſe, on this ſide the grave, will be ineffectual.
H. H. ALWYN.
I AM arrived at Taunton, and expect this will reach you at Kendal. I ſhall continue the relation of my adventures without any apology. I mean to draw an abſtract of my misfortunes, that after having compared them with your own, you may try whether it is not poſſible to ſtrike a balance in my favour. The world will ſay I have deſerved my fate. I grant it.
GOADED by deſpair, ſtung and diſtracted by the continual recollection of Julia's perfidy, I became regardleſs of future conſequences. Neglecting you and every rational friend, who, I imagined, had come to a knowledge of circumſtances that hurt my vanity, I [Page 38] ſought to drown my ſorrows in diſſipation. Drinking was my averſion, and the gaming-table became my reſource. My ideas of juſtice and honour, tho' too firmly rooted to be eaſily eradicated, could not entirely preſerve me from the contagion that reigns in theſe horrid receptacles of vice and infamy.—I found myſelf inſenſibly drawn into a familiarity with acknowledged raſcals. Launched into a ſea of guilt, I was borne away by the tide; and, though I beheld my danger, had not ſtrength to regain the ſhore of virtue.
IT had been a cuſtom with Mr. Seldon, from the time that I was ſixteen, to allow me a regular ſtipend, with which I defrayed my own expences of cloaths and other neceſſaries; the ſum was liberal, conſidering my ſituation, and had received an annual increaſe. He had juſt [Page 39] paid me a quarter's allowance, out of which my extravagance had brought me under an obligation to diſcharge a number of debts, beſides leaving ſeveral others unpaid. Conſcious of my weakneſs, as ſoon as I received the money, I put ten guineas in my pocket, with a reſolution to diſperſe them immediately among my creditors, without giving myſelf time to hear a billiard-ball, or lay a bett. As I was proceeding upon this virtuous errand, my evil genius threw a noted gambler in my way, known by the name of Long Jack, with whom I was acquainted. He enquired where I was going. I, to prove the ſtrength of my virtue, very candidly told him, that I was running with my ten guineas to pay my debts; and, as he was well apprized of my paſſion for play, aſked him if he did not think me wiſe for ſo doing: to which he replied in the affirmative, [Page 40] in ſo poſitive a manner, that his approbation appeared perfectly ſincere; aſking withal, how long it would be before he ſaw me at Jackſon's, meaning the gaming-houſe, to which I uſually reſorted. I told him, I ſhould hardly be there that evening, for that my preſent buſineſs would find me employment. Zounds, ſaid he, that's unlucky, I have made a match for you with One-eyed Harry, the odd game in eleven for five pounds, to meet at eight. I have been to Connor's, and two or three tables to look for you; if you don't play, I forfeit a guinea to the blinking raſcal. Why it is half paſt ſeven now, anſwered I. Aye, ſaid he, I know it, I loſt nine pounds this morning with him; however, it is no matter, b—ſt his odd eye, I'll have it out of him, one way or another.
I HAD ſeen too many of the tricks of [Page 41] theſe worthies, not to have my doubts concerning the reality of this pretended match; and putting on one of my penetrating looks, I aſked him if he was not deceiving me; but he confirmed the truth of his tale with ſuch violent imprecations, curſing both ſoul and body ſo liberally, and conſigning them over to the devil ſo entirely, if his guinea was not loſt unleſs I played, that, abandoned as I believed him, and all of them to be, I did not think it poſſible for any wretch to have ſo totally quitted all ſenſe of ſhame as to ſwear ſo horridly to a falſhood. He obſerved likewiſe, how much the match was in my favour; which, as he ſtated it, was actually the caſe; and that, though I might have a good opportunity of winning money upon my own play, yet, as it was entirely optional, I might ſport or let it alone.
[Page 42] You will think me very weak and irreſolute when I inform you that I could not reſiſt the impatient longing this fellow inſpired me with; but what will you ſay when I tell you that I had no ſooner began to play, than, contemning every recollection of future conſequence and ſhame, my money flew about the room, and I greedily ſnapt at every bait that was thrown out to me. Thoſe who have never fallen a ſacrifice to this infernal diſeaſe cannot have an adequate idea of its malignancy; of the pleaſure that it promiſes, or the torture it inflicts: and thoſe only who are acquainted with its tyranny, know how to pity their fellow-ſlaves.
I PLAYED with various fortune till ten o'clock, when I found myſelf pennyleſs. Stung with my egregious folly, driven to madneſs at the remembrance of thoſe [Page 43] to whom I was indebted, I could not be contented, but would play on upon credit. This, unfortunately for me, they willingly indulged me in, as I had ever paid debts of this kind with the utmoſt punctuality. Thus with my hand ſhaking, my mind diſtracted, my eyes dazzled and blinded by the diſorder of my brain, did I engage to play at a game that requires a cool head, a keen eye, and a ſteady hand, againſt men who knew how to take every advantage, and for ſums which I was conſcious of my inability to diſcharge.
WHILE I was in the heat of play, and, as if inſpired by the daemons of the place, abjuring every title to heaven and mercy, imprecating curſes on my ſoul, and miſery on my body, Mr. Turnbull came in. I was now arrived to that height of deſpair, which puts us beyond [Page 44] a certain degree of fear; and the ſight of him, which at another time, in ſuch a place, would have ſtruck a damp over me, was diſregarded. Some one who knew me, and had ſeen the manner of my proceeding, had kindly gone and informed Mr. Turnbull of it. He perceived my ſituation, and deſired me to put on my coat and come home; to which I anſwered in a reſolute tone, that I would not; while the raſcals that ſurrounded me, ſaid, with a deal of ſeeming pity, that they had adviſed the young gentleman to play no more, for they ſaw he could not win; and that they thought, he had better be perſuaded and leave off. This impudent lie heightened my madneſs to that degree, that I uttered a volley of curſes which aſtoniſhed Mr. Turnbull, and he immediately left the room; in which whiſpers, malicious grins of triumph, lolling [Page 45] of tongues, and winking of eyes, were exhibited with peculiar archneſs. I continued playing, ſwearing, and loſing for a few minutes, till I was interrupted by the return of Mr. Turnbull, accompanied by Mr. Seldon. Nothing could have added to the horrors I felt, but this. The mace dropt from my hand, the blood forſook my cheeks, and with my mouth open and eyes ſtaring, I ſtood for a moment ſtupid, when ſuddenly a fit of phrenzy ſeized me; I ſnatched up the billiard-balls that lay before me, and, with one in one hand, and the other in the other, ſtruck myſelf violently on each ſide of the head, and dropt motionleſs on the floor.
IN this manner did the ſcene ſhut on me for that night. With my ſenſes, I loſt the remembrance of my diſgrace, till the following morning; when I awoke, [Page 46] though to leſs wild, yet not leſs poignant griefs; and it was the greateſt care only, that could and did preſerve me from a fever.
THE folly I had committed, the diſgrace I had incurred, the impoſſibility of ever looking again on Mr. Seldon with confidence, added to the afflictions I endured from my unhappy love, made me reſolve to quit a family, where it was impoſſible I ſhould enjoy a moment's peace. Had not my own deſire prompted me to this courſe, I ſhould ſtill have been obliged to have taken it. Mr. Seldon had avoided ſeeing or ſpeaking to me ſince the ſin of the billiards; it was with him a mortal one, and not to be forgiven. Accordingly, when I was out of danger from the little illneſs I had ſuffered, he ſent Mr. Turnbull to me, who ſpoke to the following purport: [Page 47] —Mr. Seldon deſires me to acquaint you, that it is neceſſary you ſhould quit his houſe; it is a duty that he owes both to his peace and reputation, to harbour no one who diſturbs the one, or ſullies the other; he has ſent you twenty guineas, with which he adviſes you to ſeek your fortune, in ſome place where your character is not known; being certain, he ſays, that no man in his ſenſes will harbour a gambler, to the endangering, perhaps, of not only his property, but his life: he likewiſe adds, that you muſt expect no future favour from him of any kind whatever.
WHEN Turnbull had finiſhed, he laid the guineas, which I did not offer to receive, upon a table, and, with tears in his eyes, quitted the room. I was ſome time before I could recover myſelf enough to move from the place where [Page 48] I ſtood; for though I had every reaſon to expect ſomething of this kind, yet it did not deſtroy the effect. At laſt I recollected myſelf a little, and, taking pen and ink, wrote a long letter, directed to Mr. Seldon, and put it by the ſide of the money he had ſent me. This epiſtle contained an acknowledgment of my guilt, and an admiration of his lenity and goodneſs; many thanks for the favours I had ſo often received, and ſo ill deſerved; a refuſal of his laſt bounty, from the following motives▪ firſt, from a conviction of my unworthineſs; ſecondly, from a reſolution that, ſince my own indiſcretion had plunged me into diſtreſs, I alone would be the ſufferer; a puniſhment that I would not forego; and, laſtly, that I could not prevail upon myſelf to incur any more obligations, becauſe it was ſcarcely poſſible I ſhould diſcharge them. [Page 49] —I then collected ſuch of my cloaths as were paid for, and, with my bundle in my hand, ſhame on my countenance, and my heart ready to burſt, went, or rather ſlunk out of a houſe, in which I once thought myſelf univerſally beloved.
WITHOUT money, without a friend, that ſhame or pride would ſuffer me to diſcloſe my diſtreſs to, or a habitation of any kind to hide my head in, I found myſelf in the midſt of London ſtreets, forſaken and forlorn, an outcaſt and alien among mankind. I had heard of people whoſe employment it was to kidnap and decoy others on board of ſhips, that they might tranſport them to America. Never did a wretched fearful criminal more earneſtly wiſh for a reprieve, than, at this moment, I longed to meet with one of thoſe friendly kidnappers. [Page 50] My mind, incoherent, ſunk with grief and deſpondency, could think of no reſource from abſolute ſtarving. At laſt, as I was wandering at the diſcretion of my feet, my eye accidentally glanced upon a printed bill again the wall. This was an invitation to all thoſe ſpirited young fellows, who choſe to make their fortunes as common ſoldiers in the ſervice of the Eaſt-India company. I beheld it with more joy than the Jews did the grapes brought from the land of promiſe, and was poſting with all haſte to enroll my name among that honourable corps, when I was prevented by one Evans, whom I had known at the ſpouting-clubs. He, ſeeing my bundle and my rueful face, aſked me where I was going; to which I replied, that had he aſked me five minutes ſooner, I could not have informed him; but that, at preſent, I was for the wars. When I [Page 51] had explained myſelf he appeared greatly ſurprized, and told me he thought he could put me upon a better ſcheme than that, and one more ſuitable to my inclination likewiſe. He ſaid, one Macloughlin, a famous London actor, was going over to play in Dublin; that he had been enquiring of him concerning a young fellow, ſuch as me, and that, if I choſe, he would introduce me to him; obſerving, that it would be time enough to carry the knapſack if the ſock did not ſucceed. This propoſal was too agreeable to be heard with inattention. Accordingly, having thanked my quondam acquaintance, and, after accepting his offer, related the deplorable ſtate of my finances, at which he did not ſeem at all ſhocked or ſurprized, I, at his entreaty, accompanied him to his lodging, which was at a piece-broker's, in White-horſe-yard, Drury-lane, up [Page 52] three pair of ſtairs backwards, with a pleaſant proſpect of gardens in two-penny pots, ſmoked tiles, and right ancient chimnies.
HAVING come to a mutual explanation, I found my friend Evans but little better ſtocked with money than myſelf, the ſum total being two-pence halfpenny; ſo that, my watch and my ſmall wardrobe conſidered, I was much the richer man. He told me we need not be in want of caſh at preſent, for that lord North's office was always open to young gentlemen in diſtreſs, who carried a watch, or had a ſuperfluous ſhirt or ſuit of cloaths. Lord North's office was a cant phraſe for a neighbouring pawnbroker's of that name, whither, with my conſent, he conveyed ſuch of my apparel as I had leaſt need of, to be bruſhed and laid by, as his joke had it, [Page 53] and in return brought me the ſum of one guinea, which might be ſomething leſs than a third of its worth, and which I divided with him. As for the watch it was a new one, that I had lately had upon credit, and which, as I knew it was now out of my power to pay for, I was determined to return. This taſk I performed that very afternoon, in utter contradiction to the advice of Evans, who remarked with what elocution a gold tatler would plead its maſter's cauſe to the ears of the before-mentioned lord, and how carefully he always preſerved ſuch tokens of friendſhip, even to the condeſcending, ſometimes, to wear them in his own fob. I wrote likewiſe, for I had not effrontery enough to face them, to all my creditors, and of the ſmall hopes there were of their being paid at preſent, but with a promiſe that no opportunity ſhould ſlip, whenever I had it [Page 54] in my power; and this promiſe I have kept ſo faithfully, that I am now out of the dread of duns.
THE next day, as was propoſed, I was introduced to Mr. Macloughlin, by whom I found Evans was employed, as a kind of ſcout, to pick up youngſters who had promiſing geniuſes, it being one of this actor's paſſions to make actors of others; though perhaps, in ſome reſpects, the worſt qualified for it of any man in the world. He was ſeated upon his couch, which ſtood by the fire, and on which, when he found himſelf weary or ſleepy, he went to reſt, either by day or night, as it happened, and ſometimes did not go to bed for a fortnight together, according to the information of my conductor. As we went in we were followed by his wife, who brought him a baſon of tea and ſome [Page 55] toaſt, with each of which he found fifty faults, in the rudeſt manner. While I ſtaid he called to her ſeveral times, upon very frivolous occaſions, at each of which ſhe was dignified by the name and title of Beſs. His countenance was to me, of all I had ever beheld, the moſt forbidding; and age, which had deprived him of his teeth, had not added to its ſoftneſs. After having deſired me to ſit down, he eyed me pretty narrowly, and then aſked me What had put it into my head to turn actor. The abruptneſs of the queſtion diſconcerted me; and it was ſome time before I could anſwer, which I did in rather a confuſed manner, at laſt, by ſaying I had taken it into my head to ſuppoſe it was genius, but that it was very poſſible I might be miſtaken. Yes, ſaid he, that's poſſible enough; and, by G—d, Sir, you are not the firſt that I have known ſo miſtaken. [Page 56] I ſmiled at his ſatire, and he grinned ghaſtly with his leathern lips: a happy omen, for I perceived I had not added to the beauty of his viſage, when I repeated his words. While he was drinking his tea, we diſcourſed upon indifferent ſubjects, and as I did not happen to differ in opinion with him, but on the contrary, had opportunities of ſaying ſeveral things which corroborated his dogmas, he was pleaſed to allow I had the appearance of an ingenious young man. When his beverage was finiſhed, he deſired me to ſpeak a ſpeech out of ſome play, which having performed, he remarked that he had never in his life heard a young ſpouter ſpeak naturally, and therefore he was not ſurpriſed that I did not; however, as I ſeemed tractable and docile, if I would call on the morrow, he would hear and anſwer me further.
[Page 57] WHEN we had deſcended into the ſtreet, Evans ſaid he was ſure it would do, for that I had met with a very kind reception; which indeed was the caſe, it not being one of this perſon's foibles to over-ſweeten his behaviour, or converſation, with the mild honey of the graces. As I look upon him to be a very extraordinary man, I ſhall endeavour to give you the outlines of his picture, and though, upon the whole, he behaved exceedingly ill to me, I will be careful that the drawing ſhall not be out of nature.
THOUGH he was born in the laſt century, according to his own confeſſion, yet the faculties of his mind did not ſeem in the leaſt impaired. He is ſaid to have been bred in the interior parts of Ireland, and in ſuch utter ignorance that, we are told, from reſpectable [Page 58] authority, of his not being able to read at the age of forty; the progreſs, therefore, which he has made in language and literature, are aſtoniſhing teſtimonies of his genius and aſſiduity. His body, like his mind, is caſt in a mould as rough as it is durable. His aſpect and addreſs confound and confuſe his inferiors, and the delight he takes in making others fear and admire him, gives him an averſion to the company of thoſe whoſe knowledge exceeds his own; nor did I ever hear him acknowledge ſuperiority in any man. He has no reſpect to the timidity or pudency of youth or ſex, but will ſay the moſt diſcouraging, as well as the rudeſt things, and receives pleaſure in proportion to the pain he communicates. It is common with him to aſk his pupils, why they did not rather think of becoming brick-layers [Page 59] labourers than actors. He is impatient of contradiction to an extreme, and when he finds fault, if the culprit attempts to anſwer, he ſtops him without hearing him, with ‘Ha, you have always a reaſon for being in the wrong.’ This impatience goes ſtill further, it often renders him abuſive. He can pronounce ſcoundrel, b—h, and raſcal, with eaſe and familiarity, and without the leaſt annoyance to his nervous ſyſtem. He pretends to the ſtricteſt degree of impartial juſtice, and while his paſſions are unconcerned, preſerves it; but theſe are ſo exceedingly irritable, that the leaſt contradiction is an inſufferable inſult, and the want of capacity, or immediate comprehenſion in his pupils is, to him, ſufficient occaſion to indulge his anger, which is often exceedingly rancorous, and has the direct tendency of inciting [Page 60] deſpair inſtead of emulation, eſpecially if the ſcholar's feelings are quick and ſenſible. This is too ſevere a climate for the tender plant of genius ever to thrive in. Though his judgment is ſound, and his inſtructions, in general, thoſe of a maſter, yet, he may be, and is, ſometimes wrong; but, if the learner ſhould dare to think for himſelf, or offer the leaſt word in defence of a different opinion, it is high treaſon againſt this ſtage monarch; and he is more ſcurrilous and unmerciful than judge Jefferies. In ſhort, if I may eſtimate the ſenſations of others by my own, thoſe deſpots, who, we are told, ſhoot their attendants for their diverſion, are not glanced at with more awe, nor much more honour than Mr. Macloughlin by his pupils and domeſtics.
AFTER having finiſhed our viſit, we [Page 61] adjourned to the Black Lion, in Ruſſel-Street, whither many of the theatrical people reſort. Here I learnt that Mr. Foote was going to take a company to Edinburgh, after the cloſe of his ſummer ſeaſon. Being anxious to ſecure myſelf an engagement, and the manner of Mr. Macloughlin having neither prejudiced me much in his favour, nor given me any certain token of ſucceſs, I reſolved to make application to this other gentleman. Accordingly, after ſome ſlight excuſe to Evans, I poſted away into Suffolk-Street.
I HAD the good fortune to find the wit at breakfaſt with a young fellow, who he had employed partly on the ſtage, and partly as an amanuenſis. After being ſhewn into the room, and deſired to ſit down, "Well," ſaid he, ‘young gentleman, I gueſs your buſineſs by the [Page 62] ſheepiſhneſs of your manner; you have got the theatrical cacoethes, you have rubbed your ſhoulder againſt the ſcene, hey? is it not ſo?’—I replied in the affirmative; ‘Well, and what great hero ſhould you wiſh to perſonate? Hamlet, or Richard, or Othello, or who?’ I anſwered I diſtruſted my capability of performing any that he had mentioned; "Indeed!" ſaid he, ‘that's a wonderful ſign of grace. I have been teazed for theſe many years by all the ſpouters in London, of which honourable fraternity I dare ſay you are a member; for, I can perceive no ſtage varniſh, none of the true ſtrolling braſs lacker on your face’—"No indeed, Sir"—‘I thought ſo. Well Sir, I never ſaw a ſpouter before that did not want to ſurprize the town in Pierre, or Lothario, or ſome character that requires every [Page 63] requiſite and addreſs of a maſter in the art. But come, give us a touch of your quality; a ſpeech: here's a youngſter,’ pointing to his ſecretary, ‘will roar Jaffier againſt Pierre, the loudeſt take both.’ Accordingly he held the book, and at it we fell; the ſcene we choſe was the firſt of the before-mentioned gentlemen in Venice Preſerved. For a little while at the beginning, I took the roaring hint he had thrown out, and reſtrained my wrath, but it appeared ſo inſipid, and the ideas of rant and excellence were ſo ſtrongly connected in my mind, that when Jaffier began to exalt his voice, I could no longer contain my indignation, but as Nic Bottom ſays, * we roared ſo, that it would have done your heart good to have heard us. Foote ſmiled, and after enduring this vigorous attack upon [Page 64] his tympanum as long as he was able, interrupted us.
FAR from diſcouraging me, he told me that, with reſpect to giving the meaning of the words, I ſpoke much more correct than he expected; but, ſaid he, like other novices, you ſeem to imagine all excellence lays in the lungs; whereas, ſuch violent exertions ſhould be uſed but very ſparingly, and upon extraordinary occaſions; for beſides that theſe two gentlemen, inſtead of ſtraining their throats, are ſuppoſed to be in common converſation, if an actor makes no reſerve of his powers, how is he to riſe conſiſtent to the tone of the paſſion? He then read the ſcene we had rehearſed, and with ſo much propriety and eaſe, as well as force, that I was ſurprized, having always ſuppoſed riſibility the only emotion he could inſpire.
[Page 65] AFTER this, he demanded if I could ſing, to which I anſwered in the affirmative, and, that I had likewiſe ſome knowledge of muſic; for you know it is a ſcience that I, as well as you, always took great delight in. When he had heard me chant, he praiſed my voice, but told me, that, as I was entirely inexperienced with reſpect to the ſtage, if I was engaged with him, my ſalary at firſt would be very low. He ſaid it was impoſſible to judge with certainty of ſtage requiſites, till they had been proved; and that, if after having conſidered of it, I judged it expedient to accept of one pound per week, I might come to him again a day or two before the theatre in the Hay-market ſhut up; but that, if I could meet with a more flattering offer in the mean time, he begged this might be no obſtacle; for that, as I might ſuppoſe, it would be of no conſequence [Page 66] to him, and wiſhed me a good morning.
I CAME away from this great wit, delighted with the eaſineſs and frankneſs of his behaviour, and elated with my ſucceſs. However, as I had promiſed Macloughlin to call, I did not think proper to fail. Accordingly, at this my ſecond viſit, he gave me a part to read in a piece which he himſelf was the author of, and which had met with much ſucceſs. When I had finiſhed this taſk, with which he appeared tolerably ſatisfied, he paid my underſtanding a great compliment, by reading ſome ſcenes of a new comedy, which he was then writing. Not that I can ſuppoſe he expected me to make any remarks that could aſſiſt him, but from that kind of weakneſs, to which the ſtrongeſt minds are in ſome degree ſubject, a deſire of applauſe, [Page 67] and a hope that others will corroborate the vaſt opinion we, at certain moments, entertain of our own capacity. This is in ſome degree laudable, at leaſt excuſable; and, where genius is really concerned, muſt become extravagant to merit our cenſure. The ſcenes that I heard were characteriſtic and ſatirical, and met with my ſincere and hearty approbation, which I ſuppoſe did not a little contribute to prejudice Macloughlin in my favour.
I THOUGHT myſelf bound in honour not to act with duplicity; I therefore told him of the offer I had had from Foote, giving at the ſame time my reaſon for ſuch conduct, namely, the neceſſity I was under of getting into ſome employment, or ſtarving. He allowed the cogency of it, but ſaid he thought I might do better in Ireland. He aſked if I had any objection [Page 68] to become a prompter, adding that it was profitable, and an office, from the good hand I wrote, and other circumſtances, for which I might eaſily be qualified. I anſwered he was the beſt judge of that, and that I had no other diſlike to it, except that it would be more agreeable to my inclination to be an actor. This, he replied, might be indulged, and render me ſo much the more uſeful. Little parts would be frequently wanting; the going on for theſe would accuſtom me to face the audience and tread the ſtage, which would prepare me for better. I then demanded what ſalary I ſhould have annexed to this buſineſs; to which he anſwered, that as I had my trade to learn, I could not expect ſo much as a better workman; but that, ſince there was a deal of trouble in it, I could not have leſs than thirty ſhillings, eſpecially as [Page 69] I undertook to do ſmall parts occaſionally. He informed me that he was not manager himſelf, he only went as a performer; but that Mr. M—n, one of the managers was in town, with whom he would ſpeak concerning me, and in two or three days I might have a poſitive anſwer. In the mean time he deſired I would call on a morning, and he would give me inſtructions in the part I had read to him, for that he had ſome thoughts of letting me play it. I was ſenſible of his favours, and after making him every acknowledgment, departed much better pleaſed than at my firſt viſit.
I WAS happy in receiving your favour, which, though not to be called a ſhort one, I found deficient in many particulars—perhaps the impatience of my regard for you made me think ſo. This is finding fault, you'll ſay, and in truth I find myſelf a little diſpoſed to blame you, for giving no account of the heroes and demi-gods into whoſe ſociety you are, I preſume, by this time admitted. Your offer of correſpondence I accept with much pleaſure, but give you warning, that I ſhall expect a very minute account of all your tranſactions, which cannot fail of being important; and, on the other hand, as I [Page 71] am not ſo ſituated as to expect a ſeries of adventures, you muſt allow me to finiſh ſans ceremonie, when I have nothing to communicate. I ſhould be very much inclined to laugh at your plan of operations, if the circumſtances that engage my notice were of leſs conſequence to your happineſs. We have all been very dull ſince your departure. My father is frequently obſerving, that he miſſes his favourite Harry, and never mentions your name without ſome epithet expreſſive of his love or good opinion. Maria, poor girl, feels, I fear, too powerfully the effects of love. You often ſaid, when I remarked the tenderneſs of my ſiſter's behaviour to you, that it proceeded only from the ſweetneſs of her temper, and the benevolence of her diſpoſition, and not from my real partiality in your favour. That modeſty which makes you blind to your [Page 72] own merit, occaſioned your ſaying ſo; but I always thought otherwiſe, and your abſence confirms me in that opinion. Her chearfulneſs is fled, ſhe often complains ſhe is not well, and takes every opportunity of ſtealing from company. Her harpſichord is her only amuſement, where ſhe is continually ſinging that plaintive little ſong you wrote, and which, with the aſſiſtance of her muſic-maſter, ſhe ſet. I have often obſerved the tear ſtarting from her eye at the laſt ſtanza, which ſhe ſings with the moſt pathetic expreſſion, ſeeming to breathe forth her ſoul in the melody. This ſhe often apologizes for, with a forced ſmile. ‘I know brother,’ ſays ſhe, ‘you think me very fooliſh for being ſo affected with feigned ſorrows, but I cannot help it.’ I always tell her I love her for it, for tears of compaſſion are nature's [Page 73] marks of diſtinction, and the heart that never melts is leſs than human. Whenever your name is mentioned, her boſom heaves with a ſigh, that ſhe in vain endeavours to ſuppreſs; and when I told my father I had heard from you, ſhe could ſcarcely conceal her emotions.
SHE begged I would let you know, that ſhe miſſes your company and aſſiſtance at her ſtudies, and hoped you would recover your health, ſo as to enable you to return to town next winter. Beſides, ſaid ſhe, you may tell him I am quite at a loſs for a beau. As for a beau, replied my father, I take it you will ſoon be provided with one without waiting for our Harry; for Mr. Maitland acquaints me, that his ſon Tom is coming up to town next week, and who knows what may happen between this and Chriſtmas. The laſt [Page 74] ſentence was ſpoke in a kind of arch manner, that ſhewed his viſit was in conſequence of a previous agreement between old Maitland and him. Maria underſtood it ſo, and, making a half bow of acknowledgment, ſat very grave and ſilent during the reſt of the converſation.
"CHARLES," ſaid he, ‘I have, for ſome time, been conſidering about ſettling you and your ſiſter in life, as it would be the higheſt ſatisfaction to me to ſee my children reſpectably ſituated before I die. An idle man of property is a more uſeleſs being than the indolent in a [Page 75] lower ſituation. The man of great fortune and influence owes to the ſtate his advice and protection; and he whoſe ſituation does not immediately call him into life is, nevertheleſs, bound, in a great meaſure, to enter into ſociety; for indolence and inactivity are only for thoſe who have ſpent the former part of their lives in that reciprocation of [...] offices that the wants of manki [...] demand. Conſiderations of this nature induced me to bring you up in the mercantile line; and I know you regard my advice enough to continue in it after I am gone. I ſhall not, now, enlarge on the profeſſion, nor remind you in how many ways it will be in your power to aſſiſt and ſupport individuals, as well as your country, without injuring yourſelf; but am, at preſent, to acquaint you that I have determined to admit [Page 76] you into partnerſhip with me, and that the articles are now ready for executing.’ I was going to anſwer when he proceeded thus; ‘I ſhall continue in the houſe, if I live, four years; at the expiration of which term I ſhall quit the buſineſs in your favour, and retire to finiſh my days at my houſe in Kent. As for Maria,’ continued he, "this letter contains a propoſal which I think much to her advantage. It is from ‘my old friend Maitland, and I have anſwered it by to-night's poſt, informing him, that I intend to give her fifteen thouſand pounds; beſides which, ſhe is poſſeſſed of a little eſtate of about 200l. a year, left her by her aunt Conan; but that ſhe will have no more till after my deceaſe. I ſhall ſay nothing to Maria on the ſubject, till young Maitland arrives, but expect the marriage will be celebrated [Page 77] ſome time next winter, when his father [...]mes to town.’
I DARE ſay, my dear Harry, this will prove a heart-felt ſt [...]oke to you. I aſſure you that I fee [...] [...]o [...] you, as well as my ſiſter, who, I am convinced will be very unhappy, if the match takes place. My father is, I fear, too much a man of the world, ever to conſent to your wiſhes; which, for my part, I ſincerely deſire to ſee accompliſhed, though the preſent proſpect: affords no ground for hope; but whatever turn affairs may take, you may depend on having frequent accounts from me. I am,
Dear Harry, you ſincere Friend,
My Good Frie [...]d,Maitland-Hall.
[Page 79] I WAS prevented from coming to town laſt winter by an attempt to diſcover the cauſe of bubbles in ice by reducing it to an impalp [...] [...]owder; but ſhall certainly ſee you [...] winter, ſivis inertiae non [...]
I HAVE ſent for him from college, to try the experiment, and he will be with [Page 81] you next week. In the interim, you will pleaſe to calculate the value of the unknown quantity m, and ſend me the reſult, that I may complete the ſolution. I remain, my good friend,
Your's to command, HUMPHRY MAITLAND.
I RECEIVED your's from Kendal, by which I am informed of your ſafe arrival. I am glad that the relation of my adventures has afforded you pleaſure and, in compliance with your requeſt, ſhall here ſend you the remainder. It is a happineſs to me to be able to gratify or oblige my friend at ſo cheap a rate.
IT was not long before every thing was ſettled in the manner propoſed by Mr. Macloughlin, and I was informed it was neceſſary for me to ſet off for Dublin, it being the intention of the proprietors to open the theatre about the beginning of October. In conſequence [Page 83] of my deſire to appear in ſome [...]cter he had promiſed, not only to procure me ſuch an opportunity, but, likewiſe, to inſtruct and become my patron; and, upon my repreſenting to him my want of caſh for the journey, he lent me ſix guineas on the part of the managers, and gave me a letter to Mr. O'Neal, who would, out of reſpect to him, provide me with a lodging and do me other ſervices of the like nature which could not but be agreeable to a youngſter like me.
I REWARDED my friend Evans with a guinea, redeemed my cloaths with another, and left London, elated with the moſt flattering proſpects. Could I have forgot the name of Julia and the family of Seldon I ſhould, at this moment, have been a ſtranger to ſorrow: but that was impoſſible.
[Page 84] ABOUT the latter end of September I arrived in Dublin. The [...] ſcene, and the vaſt [...] the oeconomy and manners of the people, made a ſtrong impreſſion upon my imagination. The bar at the mouth of the Liffy renders the entrance up that river paſſable but to ſhips of ſmall burthen, and to them only when the tide ſerves. It was low water when we came to the mouth of it, and a boat came along ſide of our veſſel, into which moſt of the cabbin and ſteerage paſſengers went, rather than wait another tide, and I among the reſt. The river divides the city, and there were about a dozen who were ſet on ſhore on the quay; but I, as per letter, enquired for Capel-ſtreet, which was on the contrary ſide. Thither, accordingly, I was carried, and my trunk and myſelf landed in a beer-houſe. I was aſtoniſhed when the water-ruffians, with [Page 85] their red beards, black hair, and wild eyes, dem [...]d five and five-pence, together with a qua [...]t of three-penny, for my carriage from the packet; the more ſo, as I had ſeen the other paſſengers give but a ſhilling each, and one or two of the meaner among them only ſix-pence. I remonſtrated at the impoſition, and quoted the precedent of the ſhilling; to which one of theſe modeſt gentry replied, in the true Connaught accent, ‘ F'why, now blood and ouns, ſure we can ſee now that you are a ſweet honey of an Engliſh young Jontleman; and ſure, agrah, I always delight to ſee an Engliſh Jontleman ſit his foot on board my boat. Long life to 'em; they don't come like Spalpeens, wid a ſix-pence halfpenny in their hand, ſure f'why, to a poor man. And ſo as you are a ſtranger, f'why, we brought you to this beer-houſe, [Page 86] becaſe as f'why, the divel ſo honeſt a fillow is there in all [...] whole city of Dublin as my landlord [...]ere.’—— To this harangue the landlord, who pretended to be in my intereſt, replied, that ‘to be ſure, there was not two honeſter fillows brathing than Pat M'Cullogh and Brian O'Flanaghan; but howiver, the divel burn you Brian,’ added he, ‘you ſee the Jontleman is a ſtranger, and ſo you muſt take no more than four and four-pence; which, Sir, is juſt four Engliſh ſhillings, and the pot of three-penny.’
THE wildneſs of their looks, the ſmoothneſs of their tongues, and the poſſeſſion they had taken of my trunk, upon which one of them ſeated himſelf, while the other argued the caſe, occaſioned me to comply with their demands; [Page 87] but that which was the greateſt cauſe of admiration to me in the whole ſcene was, that the landlord, who ſwore by the holy Father to their honeſty, while I was paying them, no ſooner ſaw their backs turned, than, according to his own phraſeology, ‘he pitched them to the divel, for a couple of cut-throat, chating raſcals, that deſarved hanging worſe than a murderer.’
I AM ſorry to ſay that, during my ſhort ſtay in Ireland, I had but too many occaſions to obſerve a ſhocking depravity of morals, which I attribute, either to the laws, or the want of a due enforcement of them. The Iriſh are habitually, not naturally, licentious. They have all that warmth and generoſity which are the characteriſtics of the beſt diſpoſitions; and, when properly educated, are an honour to mankind. Hibernia [Page 88] has produced many firſt-rate geniuſes, and, in my opinion, nothing but the foregoing circumſtance has prevented her from producing many more. It is the legiſlature that forms the manners of a nation.
WHEN I ſet out from London, I was aſſured that the houſe would open at the beginning of October, but it was November before the ſeaſon commenced; ſo that my finances were once again exhauſted, and I was obliged to apply, on the credit of Macloughlin, to Mr. O'Neal, for a farther ſupply. Our acting manager was one O'Dogherty, alias Dawſon, a buſy, buſtling fellow, that pretended to carry the world before him. Void of principle, an enemy to truth, except when it ſerved his purpoſe better than falſhood; inured to flattery from the poor wretches whom [Page 89] he employed as ſervants about the houſe, and whom it was his cuſtom to kick with the utmoſt familiarity, whenever he found himſelf ſo diſpoſed, I preſently diſcovered there was an inſurmountable antipathy between his diſpoſition and mine. But the means of my exiſtence were at ſtake; I endeavoured, therefore, to accommodate myſelf as much to his temper as poſſible, and waited for the arrival of Macloughlin with the utmoſt impatience. I underſtood my engagement to have been permanently fixed at thirty ſhillings a week; but, when I went to the treaſury, I found it reduced to a guinea; and whenever I pleaded my agreement, received the moſt mortifying and inſulting anſwers. I perceived the utter improbability of my becoming a favourite. None were ſo but ſuch as could adminiſter the moſt groſs flattery, and who [Page 90] liſtened to whatever was ſaid in the theatre concerning this demagogue and his management, and repeated the gleanings of their induſtry in his private ear.—I vainly ſuppoſed the preſence of Macloughlin would put an end to all my grievances; I looked up to him as my patron, as one who had been the occaſion of my leaving England, who had pledged himſelf to be my friend, and was bound to protect me. Whether O'Dogherty had prejudiced him againſt me, or whether he obſerved my deficiency at adulation, I cannot determine, but I found him very cold in my intereſt, and far more diſpoſed to brow-beat than countenance me. He had promiſed to teach me a part, and bring me out in it; and when I ventured to remind him of it, I received only ſarcaſtic remarks on my inability. I perſiſted in aſſerting the poſitiveneſs of [Page 91] my agreement reſpecting my ſalary, concerning which Macloughlin had the meanneſs to equivocate; but I could only obtain an addition of four ſhillings per week. Inſtead of directing, or aſſiſting me in my buſineſs as a prompter, which he had engaged to do before I conſented to undertake it, he took every opportunity of venting his tenfold portion of ſpleen upon me.
INCAPABLE of extricating myſelf, I endured the mean inſults of ignorance and malice for five months, till the money which I had borrowed had been deducted from my ſtipend, and then O'Dogherty immediately diſcharged me. It would be no eaſy matter to deſcribe what I felt at this moment. I had not five ſhillings in the world, was in a ſtrange kingdom, and had no means, now that I was ſhut out from the theatre, [Page 92] of obtaining a ſubſiſtence. I beheld nothing but miſery and famine, and imprecated curſes on Macloughlin, for the perfidiouſneſs of his conduct toward [...] me. Of this I was ſo ſenſible, that, though the ſeverity of his manner had gained an entire aſcendency over me, I went to his houſe, and with the utmoſt firmneſs, after premiſing that I would rather ſtarve than incur a freſh obligation from him, diſplayed the impropriety and injuſtice with which he had treated, and the ſhocking neceſſity to which he had reduced me in ſuch animated terms, that all his accuſtomed ſternneſs fled, and the Cynic ſtood abaſhed before the boy.
THE money which had been deducted from my ſalary to diſcharge my debt was ſo conſiderable that I had not been able to pay my lodging. I had [Page 93] a bill againſt me there, of between three and four pounds. It is true, there was another theatre open in Smock-alley, under the direction of Moſſop; but he was inſolvent, and none of his people were paid. Here, however, as to a dernier reſort did I apply, and was engaged at the ſame nominal ſalary that I had had at Capel-ſtreet.
A FEW days after this event I was told, by an acquaintance, that a ſtranger had been making enquiries after me in a very circumſtantial and particular manner; and that he appeared much affected when he heard how I had been treated by O'Dogherty and Macloughlin. The deſcription of this ſtranger's perſon anſwered exactly to that of Mr. Turnbull. I received this intelligence at the theatre; and, when I returned home, I found a letter directed to me, and a ten pound [Page 94] bank bill encloſed. The contents informed me that the donor was an old friend who had a ſincere regard for me; and who, if I perſevered in my diſtreſs to preſerve my principles, did not doubt of ſeeing me, on ſome future day, as much favoured of fortune as I was, at preſent, perſecuted by her. The character of this epiſtle, though purpoſely diſguiſed, confirmed me in the opinion that Turnbull was the old friend alluded to.
THIS event called up a train of ideas of the moſt impaſſioned kind. My former companions, my patron's care, conſpicuous in its ſeverity, the friendship of Turnbull, which now appeared even romantic, for I could not place his journey to the account of buſineſs, Mr. Seldon having no connexions in Dublin, added to the fond remembrance of Julia, and contraſted with the forlorn [Page 95] condition in which I then beheld myſelf, gave me the moſt poignant ſenſe of the alteration. At one moment, all poſſibility of future happineſs vaniſhed; and at the next, a gleam of hope beamed in the prophecy which the letter contained. This, while it left a kind of riddle in my imagination, which I yet cannot tell how to ſolve, fortified me in my former reſolutions of preſerving my integrity.
IT ſoon appeared that there was no probability of being paid for my performance at Moſſop's theatre; I therefore very willingly quitted Dublin in March, and went on board the packet for Park-gate, reſolving that, if I muſt be miſerable, England ſhould be the ſcene of my ſufferings. The wind was fair till we had loſt ſight of the hill of Hoath; but preſently, after ſun-ſet, a [Page 96] hurricane came on, which, in this narrow and rocky ſea put our lives in imminent danger. Of this, however, the violence of the ſea-ſickneſs made me inſenſible. We were drove, during the ſtorm, conſiderably to the north, and ſuch was the ignorance of the maſter and his two or three ſuperannuated mariners, that he continued ſailing northward, having no knowledge of navigation, but what he had gained by coaſting between the two kingdoms. This, in the preſent conjuncture, was of no uſe to him; ſo that, in all likelihood, we ſhould have made the tour of Greenland, had not an intelligent Scotchman, among the paſſengers, known ſome of the headlands in his own country. The blockhead of a maſter would have conteſted the point, and proceeded to the land of bears, had not the company perceived his ſtupidity and joined the North Briton, who, [Page 97] with a degree of warmth expreſſive of his attachment to his bleak hills, called out, ‘What the de'el mon, d'ye think I dinna ken the craig of Elſey.’
THIS extraordinary voyage kept us eight days without putting into any port, except ſending the boat on ſhore on the evening of the ſeventh, at the Iſle of Man, to procure ſome proviſions for the paſſengers, who were almoſt ſtarved, having devoured the ſtock which is uſually provided for theſe kind of voyages in a day or two after the ſtorm had abated. The reaſon why we were ſo very long in making our port was, the extraordinary calm that had ſucceeded; which the mariners, who are the moſt ſuperſtitious of all human beings, attributed to there being ſome Jonas on board. This opinion they had inculcated among the poor devils who [Page 98] pay half a crown for their paſſage in the hold; who were as ignorant as themſelves, and far more miſchievous. Unhappily for me, I was the perſon on whom their ſuſpicions alighted the ſtrongeſt. They had diſcovered me to be a player, a profeſſion conſigned over, by the almoſt univerſal conſent of mankind, to the devil. For what reaſon I could never yet diſcover. This ridiculous belief, however, had nearly coſt me my life. The wild Iriſh in the hold were chiefly catholics, and the ſixth day from our departure happened to be Eaſter Sunday. I had ſauntered off the quarter-deck, with a volume of Hudibras in my hand, and walked to the other end of the veſſel, when I found myſelf encircled by two or three fellows with moſt ferocious countenances, who were ſtaring at me with looks expreſſive of loathing and revenge. Moſt [Page 99] of the paſſengers were at breakfaſt, and nobody upon deck but theſe ragamuffins, and a couple of the mariners, who joined them. The particularity of their manner attracted my notice, and one of them aſked me, with his lips quivering with paſſion, ‘If I had not better be getting a prayer-book, than be radeing plays upon that bliſſed day.’—I perceived the fellows were inebriated, and, like a raſh fool, inſtead of ſoothing, aſked them if they imagined there was as much harm in radeing a play as in getting drunk, and ſo early in the morning too. ‘By the holy fadther,’ replied the ſpokeſman, ‘I know you. You are the Jonas, and by Jaſus the ſhip will niver ſee land till you are toſſed over-board, you and your plays along wid you; and ſure it will be a grate dale better that ſuch a wicked wretch as you [Page 100] ſhould go to the bottom, than that all the poor innocent ſowls in the ſhip ſhould be loſt.’ This ſpeech entirely diſconcerted me. The reſolute tone of the raſcal, and the approbation which his companions diſcovered were alarming. I preſerved fortitude ſufficient to aſſure them, it was not a play-book that I was reading, and opened it to convince them, while I edged away towards the quarter-deck, which I gained almoſt in the ſame manner that a cat keeps curs at bay till ſhe ſteals into her hole.
I FEAR I tire you with theſe tedious accounts of myſelf: you ſay not; be it as it will, I have taken the liberty of a friend; and as you appear depreſſed with the peculiarity of your ſituation, my intention is only that you may compare notes, and ſee whether you [Page 101] have hitherto been equally unfortunate. I have little more to relate that is worth your hearing. I arrived at Cheſter, and reſolved to write to ſuch travelling companies as I could procure any intelligence of. My knowledge of muſic, my talents as a ſinger, and my recent arrival from Dublin, were recommendations that enſured me ſeveral engagements. I choſe one in a company that was then at Leeds in Yorkſhire. In this my ill ſtars were again predominant. I found them in a ſtate of anarchy, deſpiſed by the town, and quarrelling with one another, their manager calling them all raſcals, and they returning the compliment. Here I diſcovered, too, how neceſſary practice is to the player; and that, though ſome of them could ſcarce read, they could all ſpeak on the ſtage better than I could.
[Page 102] IN leſs than three weeks the greater part of the people ſeparated, and, no others coming to ſupply their places, the company no longer exiſted. A letter had followed me from Cheſter, inviting me to join another ſett, then at Hereford; but it had been wrote near a month, it was a hundred and ſixty miles acroſs the country, and I did not know, if I ſet out, whether I ſhould find them there; or if I did, whether they might then ſtand in need of my aſſiſtance. But my ten pound bill was, by this time, notwithſtanding all my oeconomy, reduced to eleven ſhillings and ſix-pence. With a heavy heart then, and a light purſe, did I begin another journey; and on the fifth day of my peregrination, entered an inn by the road-ſide, which was eight and twenty miles from Hereford, with the ſum of nine-pence in my pocket, and made [Page 103] my exit in the morning pennyleſs. The fatigue of my journey, and the penurious manner in which I had lived, had ſo reduced my ſpirits, that I found great difficulty in performing this laſt day's taſk upon an empty ſtomach; but there was no remedy. About four o'clock I aſcended the hill that looks down upon this ancient city, at ſight of which, a thouſand anxieties took poſſeſſion of my boſom. The players might be gone, and I, unknown to every living creature, had a ſpirit incapable of confeſſing the ſtarving condition to which I was reduced. I enquired of the firſt man I met, with an emotion that it is impoſſible to deſcribe, if the comedians had left Hereford; and leave you to imagine what I felt, when he anſwered in the negative. Faint, weary, and ready to drop with hunger, I traverſed the town to enquire for the manager; but it was one [Page 104] of the nights on which they did not perform, and he was not to be found. I was directed to his brother, who was a barber in the city; and upon their obſerving my weakneſs, and deſiring to know if I was not well, I collected courage enough to tell them that I was greatly fatigued, having come a long journey, and for the laſt day not having broke my faſt, except at the brook. I know not what kind of ſtuff ſome peoples hearts are made of, but I know that, notwithſtanding this confeſſion, in the making of which I had done great violence to my feelings, they heard it without offering me any aſſiſtance, or even ſo much as teſtifying either ſurprize or pity, and I quitted the houſe with the tears in my eyes.
WHEN the players underſtood a freſh member was come to join them, [Page 105] they, from ſympathy, ſoon diſcovered my diſeaſe; and when I gave them the anecdote of the barber, conſigned him over to the devil, in a moſt emphatical manner. Little, except common occurrences, has happened to me ſince that time.
I STAID with this company ſome time, till a difference with the manager occaſioned me to leave it. I have ſince been only with Santlo, and the one to which I have lately removed. The ſmalleſt trifles that any way affect the fortunes of a friend, I believe, are heard with pleaſure, or anxiety; and though I do not, by any means, think myſelf either the only, or the moſt unfortunate perſon in the world, I have offered theſe anecdotes of my life, both to amuſe and convince you, that in appearance, at leaſt, you have been far more happy [Page 106] than I. There is another motive, you know how delighted I am with your correſpondence. Though you are not in arrear with reſpect to tale, you are certainly deficient in weight; I therefore hope you will communicate with the utmoſt freedom, whatever futurity ſhall produce, and if you are not already wearied, I ſhall continue to trifle as occaſion may offer. Adieu.
My dear JULIA,
HOW long ſhall I wiſh, in vain, for the pleaſure of your company? Your laſt letter gave me reaſon to hope for it a fortnight ago. I have ever ſince been in expectation of ſeeing you, and long to communicate the ſecrets of my boſom. Oh, my Julia, I am very wretched. I have loſt my former chearfulneſs, and can think of nothing but my misfortunes.
I KNOW your tender and compaſſionate diſpoſition will ſympathize with me in deploring the effects of a paſſion that has taken poſſeſſion of my unguarded heart. Alas, I knew not it [Page 108] was love! Under the ſpecious diſguiſe of friendſhip I have deceived myſelf, and ſimply thought it in my power to limit my inclinations to eſteem and regard. Fatal experience has ſhewn the contrary. I ſigh for a happineſs that every hour removes farther from me.
WHEN my father was young, he was frequently employed on the Continent, in tranſacting buſineſs on account of my grandfather. On one of theſe occaſions he went on board a ſhip, up the Straits, in which one captain Alwyn was a paſſenger for Gibraltar, where his company then was. They became [Page 109] very intimate, and their friendſhip was confirmed by an accident, that happened during the voyage.
IT was at that time war with France, and the ſailors ſpied a ſhip, which they ſuppoſed to be a French man of war. My father went up the rope-ladders to look at it, and unfortunately ſlipped into the ſea, where he muſt have periſhed, if Alwyn had not inſtantly jumped after, and ſuſtained him by ſwimming, till a boat could be ſent to their aſſiſtance. I have often heard my father mention, with regret, that he never ſaw him ſince they parted at Gibraltar, he being ſlain in battle, a few years afterwards.
LONG after this, calling on Meſſrs. Brown and Co. army-agents, he there ſaw a lady of the name of Alwyn; and [Page 110] curioſity prompting him to make ſome enquiries, he found ſhe was the widow of his friend. She had with her an only ſon, whom ſhe had brought to town from ſchool, to place in ſome buſineſs; and my father, happy in an opportunity of ſhewing his attachment, as well as gratifying his own benevolent diſpoſition, begged ſhe would leave to him the care of providing for her Harry, for ſo he was called. He was in conſequence received into the counting-houſe, where, till lately, he has ever ſince remained.
I WAS then at ſchool, where I have paſſed ſo many happy hours with my dear Miſs Gowland. Hours of peaceful enjoyment that never will return! I had few opportunities of cultivating Mr. Alwyn's acquaintance till I entirely quitted Mrs. Carrington's, when I found [Page 111] him ſurpriſingly grown, and adorned with every quality that diſtinguiſhes the man of merit.
HIS education had been of the firſt ſtamp, to which he had added that poliſh which the finer accompliſhments are ſure to beſtow, where the underſtanding is good. His temper and addreſs were the moſt pleaſing in the world; and a conſciouſneſs of the obligations he owed my father, ſeemed to ſhew itſelf in all his actions. I do not know whether that conſciouſneſs made him diffident, but I thought ſo; and, as well to ſecond my father's good intentions as to ſhew my own ſenſe of his merit, I gave him every mark of eſteem and friendſhip in my power.
HE was made principal clerk about that time, for which reaſon his attendance [Page 112] was not ſo immediately required in the counting-houſe. My brother and he were therefore always together, and very often would accompany me on the harpſichord. Mr. Alwyn had a turn for poetry, which now and then appeared in a ſong; theſe were always ſet by my muſic-maſter, and formed a principal part of our entertainment. I have ſeveral by me, which I will ſhew you when we meet.
BY theſe means we ſoon became on the moſt intimate terms of friendſhip; and it was with great concern I obſerved his health decline for theſe ſix months paſt. I did not ſuſpect his love till he preſented me with the following ſong, which was ſo applicable to himſelf, that it could not eſcape my obſervation.‘ [Page 113]
I MUST confeſs the diſcovery gave me pleaſure; but I thought it beſt to make no alteration in my conduct towards him. Little did I then think my regard for him was capable of occaſioning [Page 114] ſo much uneaſineſs in my boſom. But his farewel, when he went into the country for the recovery of his health, was attended with a look, in which deſpair and reſignation were ſo blended, that I was quite melted, and was obliged to retire to conceal my tears.
ALAS! exclaimed I, it is true that I love him, and that he is unhappy! Perhaps his fatal paſſion may prove the bane of all his hopes. Perhaps the ſtruggle between love and gratitude, in a mind ſo truly ſuſceptible of every noble feeling, may overcome him, and he may pine under the hated load of life. But why perhaps? the work is already begun. Already his health and ſpirits are fled; and he wanders in vain, in ſearch of peace.
[Page 115] OPPRESSED with thoughts like theſe, and convinced by abſence how much I love him, I find it impoſſible to conceal the alteration in my diſpoſition. I continue whole days in my chamber, and avoid company, under pretence of illneſs. My brother, I believe, ſuſpects the real cauſe; for he found me the other morning in tears at my harpſichord, ſinging the little ſong I have ſent you. I made ſome ſilly excuſe, which, out of good-nature, he accepted of without further enquiry.
BUT the moſt afflicting circumſtance is, that my father is in treaty with a gentleman in the country, to conclude a marriage between me and his ſon, who is now in town expreſsly on that buſineſs. If I did not feel myſelf too much prejudiced in favour of Mr. Alwyn ever to love another, I am ſure he [Page 116] is very far from being the perſon I would paſs my life with. I do not believe it poſſible for him to be ſerious. He is for ever on ſome whim or project, as if he valued himſelf only in proportion to his capacity for promoting miſchief; and his want of delicacy is inſufferable, when I call to mind the tender and reſpectful attentions of poor Mr. Alwyn.
THINK, my dear Julia, on my ſituaation. I am ſure you'll pity me; but it does not admit of advice. If my father inſiſts I muſt ſubmit, for I can never think of diſobeying his commands; yet I tremble at the thoughts of becoming Maitland's wife.—Oh, my dear, I am diſtracted with a croud of thoughts. I beg you'll come to me, and am,
Your's moſt affectionately, MARIA STAMFORD.
I WROTE to you laſt week, in anſwer to your's; but have not ſince had the pleaſure of a line from you. Old Maitland's ſending my father a propoſal of marriage, in the form of a mathematical problem, is truly whimſical. What is ſtill more, my father aſſures me that there is no joke at all meant by it; but, that he ſeriouſly intends to make himſelf underſtood. If he intended quite the contrary, I think he could not have adopted a better method.
YOUNG Maitland is arrived, to try the experiment, as his father expreſſes it; but Maria does not ſeem diſpoſed to [Page 118] exert her attractive influence. She is conſtantly wrapt in thought, and takes very little notice of him, and he does not appear to care much about it. He is one of thoſe wild youths, who, though poſſeſſed of ſenſe and underſtanding, have too much vivacity to uſe them. I am afraid Maria, who is all meekneſs and delicacy, will be very unhappy with him if the match ſucceeds, and I ſee nothing at preſent, to hinder it, for ſhe will never diſpute her father's will; and young Maitland ſeems as if he thought it no affair of his, but leaves it to the management and direction of the old folks.
I HAVE agreed to accompany him to Maitland-hall, in a fortnight, where I promiſe myſelf a vaſt fund of entertainment from the oddities of his father. We ſhould have ſet out ſooner, but [Page 119] that it would be impolite to leave Miſs Gowland, who is now on a viſit to my ſiſter. You have often heard Maria mention her. They were at Mrs. Carrington's boarding-ſchool together, and contracted a friendſhip, which is founded in the moſt perfect union of diſpoſition and ſentiment.
MISS Gowland is rather above the middle ſtature, but perfectly well-ſhaped and genteel. She cannot be called handſome; but the tout enſemble of her countenance, is ſo expreſſive of every amiable trait of diſpoſition, that it is impoſſible to behold her without eſteem. I think ſhe differs from Maria, in a kind of volatility that I cannot deſcribe better, than by comparing her to the Allegro, and Maria to the Penſeroſo of Milton. Each for the time claims the preference.‘ [Page 120] Nec diverſa tamen: qualem decet eſſe ſororum.’
FOR me, I ſtill continue heart-whole. The deſtinies have not yet made a lover of me. The only concern that engroſſes my attention, is the fate of my dear friend, and poor Maria. I know ſhe will never love Maitland, and in any caſe but the preſent, I am ſure my father would not oppoſe her inclination. I never ſaw him ſo bent on any affair, as on this; and though old Maitland's letter had a great deal of frigidity in it, it is only owing to his ridiculous attempt to bring every thing to the teſt of mathematical demonſtration; for, they have both intended the match for ſome years. The nature of their attachment you will judge from the following narration. I had it from my [Page 121] father, one evening, as we were converſing on this ſubject.
BEING both in the ſame claſs at ſchool, the mutual aſſiſtance which they afforded each other in their ſtudies was the firſt ground of particular intimacy. Poſſeſſed of nearly the ſame diſpoſitions, and equally unacquainted with the world, they ſpent their early youth among the heroes of antiquity, and incited each other to emulate their virtues. But they were chiefly enamoured with thoſe pleaſing deſcriptions of retirement and ſolitude with which the poets abound, and from them formed the idea of a kind of life that ſeldom exiſts but in the imagination. Inſtead of wiſhing to cut a figure in the world, their deſires were fixed on ſome peaceful retreat, where their employment might be to tend their flocks, [Page 122] and repoſe on the verdant banks of a rivulet, ‘Far from the buſy world, and all its cares.’
THESE ideas were ſtill more enforced by the rural ſituation of the ſchool, which gave them an opportunity of forming grottoes, and other poetical edifices; and there was ſcarce a grove or ſtream in the neighbourhood that did not, at one time or other, afford them a ſubject for an ode.
AFTER paſſing two years in this ſweet deluſion, my father began to awake, and conſider himſelf as an inhabitant of this world; but it was not ſo with Maitland. He had, indeed, diſcovered, that the Heathen mythology was a fiction; for his maſter had not ſenſe to put him into the rational way of ſtudying it. It was therefore no longer the [Page 123] object of his attention; yet, with the poets, afforded him a temporary amuſement. But his inquiſitive diſpoſition was now fully employed in the mathematics and natural philoſophy; in which, at the time of his leaving the place, he was ſo totally immerſed, that he came into the world with leſs real knowledge of it, than a boy of ten years old, brought up in the capital, uſually has.
HIS father, poſſeſſed of a conſiderable fortune, acquired by his own induſtry, was very deſirous of putting his ſon in a line of employment that might tend to improve, rather than diminiſh it: and in conſequence, he was admitted on the firm of a very conſiderable houſe at Amſterdam; where he remained, till his father's death put [Page 124] him in poſſeſſion of the eſtate he now enjoys.
MY father, who came to town from ſchool nearly at the ſame time as Maitland, was immediately placed at the deſk in my grandfather's counting-houſe; and, by attention and aſſiduity, rendered himſelf ſo uſeful, that, ſome years before his death, he gave him a half ſhare of the buſineſs.
YOU do not know, perhaps, that at my grandfather's death an execution was laid in the houſe; for, as the affair was well ſettled, it was always kept a profound ſecret: however, ſo it was. Two ſhips from the Mediterranean, that he had underwrote for a vaſt amount, were taken; and he, not being able immediately to anſwer the demand, was under the neceſſity of taking up a conſiderable [Page 125] ſum, on bond and judgment. In fact, this loſs had almoſt ruined him; which the lender ſuſpecting, laid an execution, as ſoon as he heard he was dead.
THINK what a ſituation my father was then in. Mourning for the death of a dearly loved parent, yet obliged to apply all his attention to prevent the overthrow of a buſineſs, which, though lucrative, he knew to be then inſolvent. What could he do? He applied to Maitland; for their friendſhip, which as it had not remained uncultivated during this long interval, did not require ceremony. Maitland came immediately to town, elated with the opportunity of ſerving him, though he ſympathized in his loſſes; and not only advanced the ſum, but aſſiſted him in other reſpects ſo conſiderably, that it may almoſt be ſaid [Page 126] that my father is indebted to him for the large property he is now maſter of.
I OBSERVE, and poſſibly you may too by this time, that old Maitland, from a very abſtracted mode of thinking, forms concluſions and adopts maxims which he never takes the trouble to compare with perſons and things about him. Whence it is, that they are frequently inadequate, and always ſingular.
HE has read Locke with great attention, and being convinced that demonſtration is not confined to mathematical [Page 127] ſubjects alone, attempts to uſe it on all occaſions: witneſs the letter he ſent my father, which I ſcarce yet believe to be ſeriouſly written.
BUT I wander from the point. He has but one child, this youth is juſt come from college; and, by what I can collect, Maria was intended for him from her birth. Unpleaſing intelligence, indeed, for you; yet from what has been related, I cannot avoid being apprehenſive of the conſequences to one, whom I ſhould be as happy to ſerve, as I am proud to call by the ſacred name of friend.
I WISH I could make you ſenſible how forcibly I feel your generous and diſintereſted friendſhip. Your letter expreſſes an opinion of me which I fear I am not worthy of; yet, ſuch is the human heart, it attaches me ſo powerfully to you, that I believe, there is nothing ſo romantic, which I would not undertake to prove my gratitude.
YOUR account of Maria made my heart overflow. I hope you are miſtaken in the cauſe of—What do I ſay?—Is that my wiſh? Is there any thing on earth could give me ſo much delight as to be beloved by her?—Would it [Page 129] not rather give me torture?—It would make her as miſerable as myſelf!—Forbid it heaven!—Let me try to divert theſe reflections. They oppreſs me—I am convinced they do not give you pleaſure.
THE friendſhip of your father and Mr. Maitland, does them mutual honour.—It would ill become me to diſturb the happineſs of a family, to which I owe ſo many obligations.—It requires only a ſmall degree of virtue to be aſhamed of ingratitude.
WE have not yet began to play, our theatre will not be ready before Friday. We are to open with Romeo and Juliet; and I, for my firſt appearance, am to be the hero of the night. A good mental phyſician would not, I believe, have preſcribed ſo ſweet a doſe; the ſtudying [Page 130] this character has not contributed to my recovery. But I have undertaken it, and muſt proceed. My feelings are ſo ſimilar to thoſe put into the mouth of the young Montague that it muſt be ſtrange if I miſtake my part. The company have formed great expectations of me, I am told, from hearing me rehearſe; and the manager, who is a buſy talkative perſon, is puffing his performers among the town's-people, and me among the reſt. As I ſhall, perhaps, endeavour to amuſe you now and then with the adventures of the theatre, it may not be unneceſſary to inform you of the police and oeconomy of the ſociety of which I am a temporary member: that is, as far as I myſelf have learned.
A COMPANY of travelling comedians is a ſmall kingdom, of which the manager [Page 131] is the monarch. Their code of laws, from the little reading I have had upon the ſubject, ſeems to have exiſted, with few material variations, at, or perhaps, before the days of Shakeſpeare, who is, with great reaſon ‘the god of their idolatry.’ The perſon who is rich enough to furniſh a wardrobe and ſcenes, commences manager, and has his privileges and reſtrictions. The royal revenues are extenſive, being in the ratio of five to one.—As thus—If there are twenty perſons in the company, the manager included, the receipt of the houſe, after all incidental expences are deducted, is divided into four and twenty ſhares, four of which are called dead ſhares, and taken by the manager as a payment for the uſe of his cloaths and ſcenes; to theſe is added the ſhare which he is entitled to as a performer.
[Page 132] OUR monarch, to reſume my metaphor, through the fecundity of the queen conſort, ſweeps eleven ſhares into the royal pouch every night, having five ſons and daughters, who are ranked as performers. This is a continual ſubject of diſcontent to the reſt of the comedians, who are all, to a man, diſaffected to the government. For my part, I do not think it worth while to be diſſatisfied, having it in my own option to ſubmit to theſe laws, or leave them for more equitable ones. That is not the caſe with them, they being all in debt to the manager, and, of courſe, chained to his galley; which he does not fail to inform them of, when they are refractory. They appear to be a ſett of thoughtleſs, merry beings, who laugh in the midſt of poverty, and who never want a quotation, or a ſtory to recruit their ſpirits. When they get any money, [Page 133] they ſeem, like Ruſſian boors, in haſte to ſpend it, leſt ſome tyrant, in the ſhape of a dun, ſhould ſnatch it from them.—They have a circuit, or ſett of towns, to which they reſort, when the time comes round; ſo that there are but three or four in the company, who are not well known in Kendal. The town's-people, I obſerve, are continually railing at them; yet are very unhappy, I am told, if they fail to return at the appointed ſeaſon. It is a ſaying with the comedians that, a player's ſix-pence does not equal a town's-man's groat, and I find a great deal of truth in the apothegm; therefore, though theſe latter are continually abuſing the poor players for running in debt, they take good care to indemnify themſelves, and are no great loſers if they get ten ſhillings in the pound.
[Page 134] I SHALL continue my obſervations from time to time, according to your deſire, and ſhall be much miſtaken if they do not afford amuſement to a mind like your's. Permit me a concluding ſigh for friends, and a tear for—I am aſhamed of my weakneſs, yet cannot overcome it, at leaſt, not at the preſent.
ſincerely your's, H. H. ALWYN.
THERE is nothing but croſſes and vexations, and one damned thing or another, to be met with in this world.—Our landlady, like a good-for-nothing brim as ſhe is, ſtopt my box for thirteen and ſeven-pence at the laſt town; ſo that I and my wife, are arrived in Kendal without a property* to play in. My grey hairs, and my wife's tie wig; the coronet I wear in Lear, with the George and garter for Richard, Banquo's bloody throat, that you painted on fleſh-coloured callimanco; my ſhirt-ſhams, and new Baſil buſkins, never worn but one night in Mark Anthony; [Page 136] Mrs. Stentor's tate, her witch's high-crowned hat, and Hecate's ſpectacles; the boots and belt in which ſhe plays John Moody, together with the manager's Thunderbolt in Midas, and my laſt new ſett of teeth, for which I paid half a guinea to our French dancing dentiſt; the black ſtockings with ſpangled clocks, that I wear in all my kings; the remainder of my two dozen guineas, that coſt me ten-pence to put in my ſtage purſe, and a thouſand other things that I ſhall want every night, all ſtopt.—I'm in a pretty pickle. What the devil I ſhall do without my teeth I don't know; for to mend the matter I loſt my old ones, that I made ſhift with in common, on the road, and I can't ſpeak a word without liſping, worſe than if I had belonged to the tribe of Ephraim; and was ordered to ſay ſhibboleth at the paſs of Jordan, by the cruel baſtard of Gilead.
[Page 137] MISFORTUNES never come alone. I have ſeen the day, when our manager durſt not have refuſed to lend me thirteen and ſeven-pence if I wanted it; but he ſays I am no longer fit to play the love-ſick heroes, ſo has engaged one Alwyn, that nobody, except Hilkirk, knows any thing of.—It's d—d ſtrange if I can't play them better than that youngſter. I that have been the repreſentative of all the heroes ancient and modern, for almoſt theſe fifty years, and this is his firſt appearance, he ſays, though I'll ſwear he's a ſtager of five years ſtanding, at leaſt, by the manner of his rehearſing. Nay, and becauſe he is in poſſeſſion of a ſmooth face and a ſoft voice, its a guinea to a ſhilling, that all the young flirts fall in love with him.—He has made choice of Romeo (my favourite character above all others) to appear in.— I wiſh he may break his neck.—However, if he ſtays I'll go if I can.—I wiſh you [Page 138] would try to get an engagement for me and my wife with your manager.—I have encloſed our caſts*. My wife plays the queen's, is an excellent termagant, and goes into breeches. We neither of us claſh with you, except that my wife plays John Moody, and ſhe is allowed to be ſo excellent in that part, that if the great London SHUTER, or PARSONS that we hear ſo much of, were to come down, ſhe would not give it up.
I HAVE been interrupted in my letter by that Alwyn.—I don't know what ſcheme he is at, but he has been here with an oiled tongue, and ‘a hope that he did not offend me; but, hearing I was a little diſtreſſed for a trifle, he came to offer me his aſſiſtance.’ When he had finiſhed his preface, he put a [Page 139] guinea into my hand.—As he made his exit, he ‘begged a thouſand pardons, and hoped I would excuſe the abruptneſs, that his want of being better acquainted with me had forced him upon; but that he could not bear to hear of age being wedded to neceſſity.’
NOTWITHSTANDING this fine rhetorical flouriſh, I am deviliſhly deceived if I don't ſee through this generoſity. Men don't give their money away ſo freely without ſome view. Perhaps he meant it as a bribe, that I may patiently ſubmit to ſee him rob me of all my characters. Had he lent it me, I ſhould have ſuſpected Santlo the manager to have been at the bottom of all this; but he would not give a guinea to ſave his mother's ſoul from purgatory; ſo it can't be him.—My young politician [Page 140] ſhall find, however, I am not to be ſo eaſily bribed. If he mines, I'll countermine; and its a queſtion if the young cub digs ſo deep as the old fox. He ſhall be well earthed if I don't unkennel him.—I have provided a party that ſhall hiſs worſe than the head of Gorgon. Staunch friends, that won't eaſily ſee the veteran vanquiſhed.
GIVE our reſpects to your manager, and if he will agree to our playing thoſe parts, which are here ſubjoined, and will ſend three guineas and a half, two of which I owe to Santlo, and the reſt we ſhall want for our journey, we will join him immediately. Let him know how uſeful my wife is.—She is excellent in the old ſtateſmen, and looks them admirably.—Not that we are exceedingly anxious about the matter. We make no doubt of being able, by [Page 141] one means or other, to rout this whipſter, this Alwyn.
OUR compliments to all old friends, and let me know how you ſhare*, and whether your manager ever ſhews his book.—Our precious raſcal immures his more carefully than the Romans did the Sybil's prophecy. Your's,
I AM ſorry to hear of your miſforfortunes, becaſe as why, d'ye ſee, I have it not in my power to relave 'em at all at all; but howiver, I will give you ſome conſolation in this affair, which is this, d'ye ſee, now.—By Jaſus I have as miny misfortunes as yourſilf, or any other man alive; and ſo let that be your comfort. You know I had 500l. left me by my old aunt Phabe Tullaghan of Ballimagowran in the county of Cavan, and the province of Ulſter, about two years before her death. Pooh! I mane two years after her—Ahoo!—To the divel I pitch my maning, but I know [Page 144] it was whin I was one and forty years of age d'ye ſee, and now I am three and forty, as old Darby Coghran tells me; for as for myſilf, I niver mind of a handful of years d'ye ſee.—Well—An ſo—What now was I telling you about, agrah? —Oh! It was conſarning my miſfortunes, and my aunt Phabe. Well thin, it was about three twelve-months ſince ſhe died and left me the 500l.—To be ſure, ſhe always ſaid ſhe loved me, though, for my part, the divel the word did I believe of the matter, till ſhe was dead; for though ſhe knew viry will that I was as poor, and as miſerable as a Spalpeen*, and wanted her money for myſilf, ſorra the morſel of the mind ſhe had to die at all, nor the divel a bit could I perſuade her to it (though I wrote to her ſeveral times about the affair) till ſhe had not a drop of breath left [Page 145] in her body, and thin, you know, the divel may htank her for her kindneſs. To be ſure I was not much the richer for it, having ſpent it all ſeven years before I got it, and the reſt ſoon after I reſaved it, in paying my debts, and trating my frinds, for thin I had frinds enough, and ivery body was glad to ſhake hands with Jemmy Drumſhandrugh, and now there's Mr. Pot the taylor, to the divel I pitch Mr. Pot the taylor, for the ſon of a Spalſpeen whore's baſtard; this Mr. Pot the taylor, who has tipled out of my pot many a froſty morning, threatens to arriſt me if I don't pay him for the ſuit of cloaths that I had of him about five years agoe, and for all I tould him I could not pay ivery body, and keep a little for my own uſe, and thin, you know, as he always ſaid he was my frind, why I niver thought any thing about paying him at [Page 146] all at all.—Sorra the frindſhip that I can find out in linding a man a guinea, and deſiring one and twenty ſhillings in change. Howiver, my landlady, long life to the dare crater, whoſe huſband has had a ſtroke of the palſy, about five weeks agoe, that has taken away the uſe of his limbs, promiſes to lind me the money. —She is a good, hearty woman, about my own age, with a dale of rich thick blood in her vanes, and has had a child, ſhe tells me, every year ſince ſhe has been married. She is very induſtrious, and has gone through a dale of trouble, ſhe ſays. She took hould of my hand, and preſt it ſo tinderly, and let the ſalt tares fall on it, while ſhe tould me of her poor huſband's misfortune, who, ſhe ſays, before that accident, was an honeſt painstaking man; and ſo I am become a mighty favourite with her, and ſhe never lets the maid come up now, to make [Page 147] my bed, but makes it always with her own hands, and ginerally comes before breakfaſt, as ſhe ſays it gets her a ſtomach, and likewiſe brings the warming-pan of a night, to warm it, becaſe, ſhe ſays, it makes one ſleep will, thin ſhe trates me with oyſters, whin ſhe can get 'em, to my ſupper, and an egg to my tay of a morning, after the good ould Iriſh faſhion, and ſo, as I tould you, I am become a mighty favourite with her.
As for your coming to this company, d'ye ſee, why our manager ſays it won't do, for why, we play all the hairos, between us, ourſilves, and now that I ſpake good Engliſh, and have got rid of my brogue, I do Lord Townly inſtead of John Moody, and make nothing of it. But if I ſhould lave the company, why then there will be an opening for you, which I ſhall certainly do whin my [Page 148] landlady's huſband dies, becaſe why, there will be an opening, then, for me. She has a pretty income enough, and the poor woman is mightily grieved to ſee her huſband in his miſery, and ſo, as ſhe tells me, ſhe prays viry devoutly for the poor craters dith, to be ſure ſhe makes me love her the better, becaſe ſhe is ſo tinder hearted.
As for our ſharing, why I don't hear of any body among us that intinds to build churches, and riſpicting the ſtock book, and your manager's being a raſcal, why I don't wonder much at that, becaſe why, I niver knew one of them that was not a raſcal, and I niver heard but of one, neither did I believe that, not but we have pritty full houſes, and that the people may have enough for their money, d'ye ſee, why there is [Page 149] plenty of ſinging and dancing ivery night after the performance is over. Mrs. Stentor is a viry uſeful woman to be ſure, and juſt ſuch a one as we want, ſo if you think it worth while to live faſhionably, and niver ſee one another, why our manager ſays he will engage her with all his heart, d'ye ſee, now: and thin this is likely to be a good town, for why, the parſon praches againſt the players ivery Sunday, and, as he is not mightily beloved, why they are reſolved not to mind what he ſays; and ſo if you like of it, why let her ſet off before you reſave this, becaſe as why, the ſooner ſhe comes, the longer it will be before we ſee her.—And ſo give me lave to conclude yourſelf my friend to command,
THIS day week I left the ſober family of the Stamfords, and am now ſafely landed at Maitland-hall. I was like a fiſh out of water during my ſtay in London. Settled in as pretty a demure church-going family as you'd wiſh to ſee, and what's more, on the footing of a ſuitor to the young lady. Now there are two things you expect, one, that I ſhall reform in a hurry, and the other that I ſhall give you a ſketch of the queer creatures I have been ſhut up with for this fortnight, but you are confoundedly miſtaken, if you think I'll take the pains to do either the one or [Page 151] the other. I have not been out later than ten ſince my arrival in town, and was ſo loſt for want of a frolick, that I was reduced to the neceſſity of having one on the road. I wiſh you had been there, for I had it all to myſelf,—but you ſhall hear.
YOUNG Stamford and I left London on Tueſday morning, attended by our ſervants on horſeback. My man Sam, of whoſe dexterity and addreſs you have ſeen proofs before now, was with me, and we arrived at M— in the evening, juſt as the paſſengers were alighting from the ſtage-coach. I ſtood at the inn-door while they were unpacking their carcaſes from the cloſe ſtowage of the vehicle, and fancied, from their appearance, that they were a ſett of characters that might afford ſome diverſion. In conſequence of this ſuppoſition, I [Page 152] propoſed to Stamford to ſup with the paſſengers, which was agreed to. Sam went to reconnoitre the inn, and I applied myſelf to learn the diſpoſitions of our fellow-travellers.
THE company was compounded of a ſhort fat man about forty, with a cut of countenance not very inviting, for, arrogance and ſelf-conceit were painted in every line of it. His wig was of the conſtruction that cuſtom, or ſome other cauſe, has rendered one of the attributes of holineſs, and a blue grey ſuit of cloaths, of a moſt ſtiff and formal outline, put it out of doubt, that he was a ſon of mother church. I afterwards found he was a country ſchool-maſter, who had been to London to procure ſcholars, whom he found in all requiſites for ten pounds a year. Oppoſite him ſat a figure, whoſe calling and occupation were not ſo much [Page 153] within the reach of conjecture. Deceit ſeemed to be the very eſſence of his compoſition. I never ſaw a man that ſo immediately inſpired me with averſion. His aſpect was like that of a miſchievous animal that ſurveys you with fear, but with a fear mixed with an intention of hurting you, as ſoon as off your guard. His hair was lank and grey, his perſon tall and aukward, and his viſage pale, hollow, and illuminated with a pair of ſmall, ſunken eyes that might have given riſe to the fictions of witchery and incantations performed by an evil ſight. A ſett of habiliments, put together in a very peculiar ſtyle, would have tempted me to pronounce him an apothecary of the laſt century, if a pair of dirty bands had not indicated that his province was that of a ſpiritual man-midwife. He profeſſed to believe the new birth, and was himſelf a living proof of his doctrine; [Page 154] for, without a metaphor, it was neceſſary for a man to be born again to become like him.
NEAR him ſat a couple of females, who ſeemed to be mother and daughter. The mother, I ſoon diſcovered to be a diſciple of the reſpectable paſtor I have juſt deſcribed, but the daughter, a freſh girl about ſixteen, did not ſeem to have much of the devotee about her.
THE remaining paſſenger was a young fellow in regimentals, who was ſtanding by a window, with his back to the company, when I entered. He came up to me, and, after common compliments, we entered into converſation without regarding the others, of whoſe ſocial powers I had already entertained a very contemptible opinion. He acquainted me that he was an enſign in the 40th [Page 155] regiment, was going to head a recruiting party at Briſtol, and at the ſame time gave me a ſketch of the characters of his companions, as I have juſt now hinted.
WHEN ſupper was brought in the Methodiſt roſe up, and, inclining himſelf forward, not in the graceful attitude of an orator, but, rather, in that of a perſon labouring under the operation of an emetic, treated us with a grace of a quarter of an hour's duration. The ſchool-maſter appeared ſomewhat chagrined, whether on account of the uſurpation of his office as chaplain, or the venter famelicus qui aures non habet, or both, I ſhall not pretend to ſay; but I obſerved, during the courſe of the evening, that he and the Methodiſt were irreconcileable enemies to each other.
[Page 156] AFTER ſupper, and the circulation of a glaſs or two, he aroſe to put in practice the ſame manoeuvre, but was oppoſed by the ſchool-maſter, who objected to it as, not only unneceſſary, but, phariſaical. This produced a warm altercation, in which the Methodiſt had manifeſtly the advantage; for, being well read in ſcripture, he undertook, with great calmneſs, to prove, that the ſchool-maſter was a limb of the whore of Babylon: whereat the other was ſo enraged that he loſt all power of utterance, and ſtood gaſping like a cat in an air-pump.
WE joined the Methodiſt, (who proceeded in his quotations without regarding the mighty rage of his antagoniſt,) and by that means put him into ſo good a humour, that at the requeſt of the old lady, he conſented to give us [Page 157] an exhortation. For which, and its conſequences, you muſt wait till next poſt, for at preſent I'm quite tired.
Your's, &c. T. MAITLAND.
THE Methodiſt had planted himſelf on his knees, in a great arm chair, and was raving on in his exhortation, while I was curſing my ſtupid brains that had not yet hinted any propable ſcheme of diverſion, though with ſuch admirable ſubjects to practiſe on. "Who," ſaid he, ‘was St. Paul? Did he ride in a coach? No. Was he a biſhop? No. Did he preach in a great church? No, No, No. It was in the fields, [Page 159] my brethren. He caſt out devils, and healed the ſick. I once knew a poor woman, at Briſtol—a very poor woman,—but rich in faith,—and ſhe had experiences,—and was in a good way,—and ſhe ſought after us that teach the true way,—and the devil came,—and ſhe ſaw him,—and he appeared unto her,——even the roaring lion, and he roared,—and ſhe ran out of the houſe, and came to me,—and ſhe wept bitterly,—and I ſaid unto the devil’—
AT this inſtant, Sam and Stamford's ſervant, each with an extinguiſher put out the candles, and the devil ſtood confeſſed to the view of the affrighted preacher. He did not ſtop to recognize his Briſtol acquaintance, but, overſetting the chair, made his eſcape up the chimney. The ladies ſcreamed horribly, and the officer drew his ſword, [Page 160] and made a paſs at Monſ. le Diable, but, finding it had no effect, exclaimed, "Lord have mercy on my poor ſoul!" threw down his ſword, and, in endeavouring to remove himſelf farther from the object of terror, overſet the table, with the bottles and glaſſes that were on it. Stamford and I were not a little ſtartled at the preſence of ſo unexpected a viſitant; though we ſoon diſcovered it to be the effect of a magic lanthorn, which, it afterwards appeared, Sam had borrowed of a Jew, who was then in the tap-room of the inn.
DIRECTED by the rays of light, I perceived the inſtrument ſtanding on the chimney-piece, which was the occaſion of this phaenomenon, and removed it time enough to prevent a diſcovery. The ſervants immediately came in with lights, and, with ſome difficulty, got the Methodiſt down the chimney. [Page 161] Our ſchool-maſter, having left the room previous to the exhortation, eſcaped his part of the fright, but the ſhare he had in an adventure which followed left him no great cauſe for boaſting.
WORDS cannot deſcribe the figure the poor devil of a Methodiſt cut, when extracted from his ſooty hiding-place. The natural hollowneſs of his viſage was augmented by certain lights and ſhades, acquired during his reſidence in the chimney, and a ghaſtly and idiot ſtare the remaining fright had left on his countenance. He looked round the room with a ſort of timid caution, that demonſtrated how unwelcome a return of the apparition would be, and it was long before he could recollect any of his fellow-travellers. The ladies bore it very well, all things conſidered, and the officer was particularly ſerious on the [Page 162] occaſion; while Stamford looked at me with enquiring eyes, and I gave Sam credit for the whole contrivance.
'TWAS in vain to think of ſitting down again, as a company, and, therefore, I called Sam to ſhew me the bedrooms, which were on the ſame floor, opening every one into a long gallery that faced the court-yard.
THE ſuite of rooms conſiſted of four, in each of which were two beds. The old lady and her daughter took poſſeſſion of one, Stamford and I another, and the ſchool-maſter, entering a third, was followed by the Methodiſt, whoſe fears of another viſit from the prince of darkneſs had impelled him to make ſure of a companion. The officer, of courſe, had the remaining chamber to himſelf.
[Page 163] WHEN Stamford and I were alone we interrogated Sam about the trick he had played on the apoſtle, and received intelligence that another plot was in agitation, to prevent their over-ſleeping themſelves. Stamford objected to it, as cruel, and thought it might poſſibly hurt their underſtandings; but I overruled it, and, about midnight, he began his operations.
THEN it was that the clattering noiſe of ſome quadrupede animal was heard in the gallery, which ſeemed to ſhake with the burthen. Our preacher diſcovered, by an ejaculation or two, that his afflictions had kept him waking; but his companion manifeſted no other ſigns of life than a profound naſal trumpeting, which, at a diſtance, might have been miſtaken for a couple of ſawyers at work.
[Page 164] THE Methodiſt was not long in ſuſpence, for the ſound of hoofs approached his chamber, the door of which flew open and admitted the cauſe of his apprehenſions, who addreſſed him in theſe words, ‘O thou ſinful wretch, deceiver of the ſimple, calumniator of the good, and liar to the community, thy time is accompliſhed, and I, thy evil genius, am come to convey thee to the gloomy manſions of deſpair. I appear unto thee in the ſhape of an aſs, becauſe thou art an aſs, and command thee to ariſe, and mount on my back, which if thou delayeſt to perform, I will tear thee inſtantly to pieces.’ At this threat I heard the frighted wretch get out of bed, ſighing and groaning, and, the inſtant after, roaring with all his might. The apparition, on whoſe back he had mounted, began to bray, and iſſued out of the [Page 165] room with great impetuoſity, nor ſtopped till they arrived at the ſtairs-head, whence down they both tumbled together.
ALARMED at this circumſtance, Stamford and I hurried after them, and found the preacher lying on the ground, alone, in his ſhirt. Lifting him up, we perceived he had ſuſtained no other injury than a few bruiſes, and the fright, which had made him almoſt ſtupid. We conveyed him to bed, in the room where the officer had been, and ordered a ſervant to ſtay with him, while we went to enquire into the particulars of the adventure, from the ſchool-maſter.
THE knight of the ferula was covered over head and ears in bed, where he had lain during the whole confuſion, not having had courage to riſe. A violent perſpiration had wetted the bed-cloaths almoſt through, and, on his peeping [Page 166] forth, our noſes were informed that ſolids, as well as fluids, had eſcaped him, in his fright. He was ſo much cheared, at our appearance, that he found utterance for his ſurpriſe, which thus broke forth, and mingled with the potent effluvia:
‘OH, gentlemen! little did I think, when I left my native country and ventured up to London, that I ſhould have joined in the ſociety of the children of darkneſs. That fanatical wretch, who with theſe eyes, I ſaw riding to hell on the back of a fiery jack-aſs, has given me ſuch a ſhock, as, I fear, I ſhall never recover. Alas! even now I perceive my inteſtines are relaxed, and the contents of the viſcera are here and there diſperſed in the bed. I am become as lank and flaccid as a half blown bladder. My nervous ſyſtem is deſtroyed, and I queſtion if my members will ever [Page 167] regain their proper tone. Lend your kind aſſiſtance, that I may riſe and get ſome refreſhment. Nature abhors a vacuum, and my poor bowels approach but too near to that ſtate.’
WE could not refuſe our help; but, on raiſing him up, the fumes of the egeſta, here and there diſperſed, as he expreſſed it, became ſo powerful, that we let him down again, and covered him up, adviſing him to wait till we ſent a ſervant, with linen and other requiſites, to enable him to appear as became a man of his conſequence.
GOING down into the hall, we found every body in the inn dreſſed, and in full converſation on the event that had diſturbed their repoſe. Various were the conjectures formed on the occaſion, for, the parties concerned being abſent, no authentic intelligence could be gained. [Page 168] This continued till the arrival of the ſchool-maſter, who entered, tolerably cleanſed, and immediately fortified himſelf with a bumper of brandy. After which he proceeded to tell us that, being in his firſt ſleep, he was ſuddenly rouſed by a dreadful voice that exclaimed, ‘I am thy evil genius!’ on which he immediately ſtarted up, and, drawing his curtain, perceived the room was filled with a blue, ſulphureous flame, in the midſt of which appeared a ſpectre, larger than an elephant, with fiery horns, but in the ſhape of a jack-aſs. That the Methodiſt got out of bed, howling and weeping, and mounted on the back of the hobgoblin, which after diverſe friſks and nefarious gambols, roaring in the mean time moſt dreadfully, on a ſudden vaniſhed in a flaſh of lightning. In conſequence of which, and the intolerable ſtench of brimſtone, he, the narrator, [Page 169] was compelled to evacuate the whole quantity of aliment then in his body; which ſhot forth, neither more nor leſs, than as if exploded from a wind-gun. That moreover, he lay in a trance, f [...]om that inſtant, till the coming of the two gentlemen into the room, and concluded with aſſuring the company, that he had no doubt but that horrid wretch, the Methodiſt, was now receiving the reward of his miſdeeds.
IN the morning I viſited our Anti-Mahomet, who had almoſt rode to hell, inſtead of heaven, on an aſs; and, to my great ſurprize, found him ſitting by a table, with a leathern ink-horn in his hand and writing. After enquiring about his health, and expreſſing my admiration at the extraordinary occurrences of the laſt twelve hours, I begged he would, if poſſible, explain the cauſe of thoſe appearances.
[Page 170] "Last night," ſaid he, ‘after the viſitation of the Evil One, I ſat on my bed, ruminating, with inward anguiſh and manifold groanings of the ſpirit, on my backſlidings. It is written, 'Reſiſt the devil, and he will flee from you.' Inſtead whereof, I retired with ſome haſte, and gave place to the adverſary. Oh, wretched man, for this cauſe it was permitted unto him to ſcourge thee, even with whips of ſcorpions. While I thus wreſtled with the corruptions of my heart, lo, it thundered, the bed trembled beneath me, and one of the angels of perdition ſtood in my ſight. He had one eye that glittered like the moon, his noſtrils reſembled a glowing oven, and from his poſteriors came forth flaſhes of lightening. At firſt I was frightened, which the devil perceiving, ſnatched [Page 171] me up in his claws, and carried me through the air with amazing ſwiftneſs: but I ſoon recollected myſelf, and compelled him, by the force of my adjurations, not only to ſet me down, but alſo to diſcloſe many ſecrets of the inviſible world, which I intend to publiſh under the title of 'News from Tophet;' being a relation of the extraordinary dealings of the ſpirit with John Wiſely, and alſo of ſundry buffetings of Satan, ſuſtained by him in his miniſtry. Neceſſary to be read as a warning in theſe later days of iniquity. Recommended by the Reverend Mr. Filcher. Sir Rueland Howl will give it a good word in one of his ſermons, and, without doubt, it will be purchaſed in great numbers by the children of grace at the door of the tabernacle. Whence it ſhall come to paſs, that [Page 172] the truth will prevail mightily, and great gain ſhall ariſe therefrom. Moreover, it would cauſe me to rejoice in ſpirit, to behold your name in the liſt of my ſubſcribers.’
THOUGH this narration was a maſterpiece of lies and hypocriſy, and though I knew his publication would be a ſhameful impoſition on the credulous multitude, yet I could not forbear noticing his laſt requeſt, by ſlipping a couple of guineas into his hand. This unexpected benevolence ſurprized him ſo much, that he was at a loſs to expreſs his acknowledgments. He aſſured me, that his heart leaped within him at the proſpect of my approaching converſion; and that I might depend upon it, that this money was the beſt I had ever laid out in my life, as it had purchaſed me the reverſion of a ſeat among the celeſtials. [Page 173] I thanked him for the cheap bargain he had let me have, and left him to the compilation of his pamphlet.
THE whole of the aforeſaid dreadful adventure conſiſted of nothing more than Sam's driving an aſs into the preacher's room, behind which he ſtood, and, in a feigned voice, uttered the threats that obliged him to mount the creature, which carried him down ſtairs out of its own mere motion and private judgment. The thunder was the ninepin bowl trundled acroſs the room, and the lightening was manufactured from a pennyworth of roſin, and the end of a candle, ſtuck in a tobacco-pipe, and blown into the room at proper intervals, [Page 174] by Stamford's man, Sam's aſſiſtant. The other embelliſhments proceeded entirely from the active imaginations of the relators.
I DARE ſay you think it ſtrange that I have wrote two letters without mentioning my marriage that is to be. Miſs Stamford is a remarkably beautiful girl; but, was either indiſpoſed, during my ſtay, or, wants that vivacity that is ſo particularly engaging in her ſex. But ſhe has ſenſe and judgment, and will do well enough for a wife.
Your's, &c. T. MAITLAND.
MY little anxieties, which roſe in ſpite of me every time I recollected the facing of an audience, are, in a great meaſure, removed. I have played, and met with more applauſe than it was poſſible I could deſerve. Appearances at firſt, indeed, were not ſo favourable; the moment I went upon the ſtage I was ſaluted from a corner of the gallery with a piercing hiſs. It is impoſſible to deſcribe my feelings when I heard it, and, had not the greater and the more indulgent part of the ſpectators immediately overpowered this mark of diſapprobation, I ſhould certainly have been obliged to retire, or have ſunk to the floor, my trepedation was ſo great. I [Page 176] felt ten thouſand aukwardneſſes, the moiſture departed from my mouth, my knees knocked together, my lips quivered, my throat became parched, my heart fluttered, and a qualmiſh ſickneſs ſeized me. What gave me courage, ſufficient to proceed, was the behaviour of a young gentleman, of rank and fortune in this place, whoſe name was Weſtwood. Immediately, when the hiſs began, he jumped up from his ſeat, in the pit, for we have no boxes here, and, as ſoon as he could be heard, reproached the diſſatiſfied aloud, in a very ſpirited and pointed manner; and offered ten pounds to any man who would ſecure the next perſon that interrupted me; then addreſſing himſelf to me, ſaid ‘Bravo, Mr. Alwyn, take a little time, recollect yourſelf, Sir, and let me hear who dares inſult you again, damn me if I [Page 177] don't go up and twiſt the firſt fellow's neck round that attempts it.’
THIS apoſtrophe was the beſt cordial that could be adminiſtered. My powers returned enough to enable me to make a very reſpectful bow to the audience, and to young 'Squire Weſtwood in particular; which was anſwered by the ſpectators, with the loudeſt marks of approbation, three times repeated; and I heard ſeveral commendations on my perſon and deportment, before the houſe was quiet ſufficiently for me to proceed, which gave me great encouragement.
I SHOULD, perhaps, be vain upon the fame I acquired, and the plaudits I afterwards received, were it poſſible for me to enjoy pleaſure, and were I not conſcious that a vaſt deal, if not all, of theſe favours, may be placed to the account of [Page 178] good-nature, and the patronage of Mr. Weſtwood, who is univerſally beloved. After I had finiſhed my part, moſt of the people in the pit left the houſe, and did not ſtay to ſee the farce, which was played to the gallery. Several of the principal gentlemen came behind the ſcenes, and inſiſted upon my going to ſupper with them; but as they were in different parties, that they might not embarraſs me, and out of reſpect and gratitude to the behaviour of my young ſpirited patron, they permitted me to go with him, each laying me under the injunction of a viſit in turn. I received likewiſe an invitation to their aſſembly on Thurſday next, at which I perceived my brother comedians were a good deal chagrined; for, as I have ſince learnt, one of them, no longer ago than the laſt time that they were here, was inſulted for attempting to join with the gentry in [Page 179] this amuſement, and the comedian being a man of ſpirit, had his opponents been as valiant ſingly as they were conjointly, the affair might have been an unhappy one. I am not therefore determined, at preſent, what meaſures I ſhall purſue in this buſineſs.
I AM informed, that the hiſſing that was heard on my appearance, was the effect of a party raiſed againſt me by the chicanery and malice of a Mr. Truncheon Stentor, the perſon who uſed to play the character of Romeo, previous to my arrival in the company, and who, they ſay, notwithſtanding that he is become old and decrepit, is moſt tenaciouſly fond of appearing in youthful characters. I, however, do not believe this report, but attribute it to the detraction of the actors, who, I perceive, circulate a thouſand little, mean anecdotes, [Page 180] which place their brethren in ridiculous or unfavourable attitudes. Stentor, inſtead of ſeeming envious, attended me during every rehearſal, told me the entrances and exits; inſtructed me in ſeveral ſtage manoeuvres, that were, not only very ſerviceable, but, abſolutely eſſential to me; ſtood behind the ſcenes, gave me the greateſt encouragement at firſt, and encomiums afterwards; in ſhort, inſtead of manifeſting the leaſt rancour, or ill-nature, afforded me every aſſiſtance in his power, and was exceedingly pleaſed with my ſucceſs. I, therefore, ſuppoſe my own embarraſſment and aukwardneſs, which, perhaps, I was too ſenſible of, ſhewed me to a diſadvantage; and ſome, who wiſhed to paſs for critics, hiſſed more to prove their judgment than out of any malevolence to me, to whom it was impoſſible they ſhould have conceived any [Page 181] perſonal diſguſt, and who, it is not probable, were to be influenced to any ſuch meanneſs as the ſuppoſition contains.
I WAS received by the parents of Mr. Weſtwood, who were not at the play, with an affability that has given me a high idea of their ſuperiority and goodneſs; for indeed I know no title to ſuperiority but what is derived from goodneſs. He is their only child, and the reciprocal delight which they afford to each other is very apparent and pleaſing; they live upon the moſt friendly terms among the gentry of Kendal; ſeveral, therefore, who heard that I ſupped here, came in with the utmoſt familiarity, and behaved to me in ſuch a manner as could not fail to give me pleaſure. Mr. Weſtwood, and ſome of his friends, are great admirers of muſic. After ſupper we had a little concert, in [Page 182] which I aſſiſted alternately on the violin, the flute, and as a vocal performer. They have no elevated ideas of taſte, and appeared aſtoniſhed at the ſpecimens I afforded them. Muſic, indeed, is ſo much my delight, that if it were poſſible I ſhould excel in any thing, I believe it would be in that: but, however great the natural abilities of the people who were preſent might be, yet, as they have no opportunities of hearing good performers, I do not ſo much wonder at their ſurprize. It is in vain, dear Charles, that I endeavour to be chearful. I cannot remember the name of happineſs without recollecting your ſiſter. Maria and Maitland haunt my imagination. Tell me, Charles, will not his wild and excentric temper be very oppoſite to the mildneſs of my poor Maria. Tell me if you think ſhe can be happy with him. I am afraid not. [Page 183] I fear thoſe extravagant ſallies, into which his ungovernable fancy hurries him, will alarm her delicate mind with continual inquietudes. Yet why ſhould I fear? He muſt be inſenſibility itſelf, if he could bear to give ſuch an angel pain. Oh my friend! how bleſt, beyond all poſſibility of increaſe, muſt the man be who calls Maria his! But who is he that can ſay, with juſtice, he deſerves ſuch a bleſſing? What are riches, honours, titles or power? Can they afford the happineſs that may be found in the converſation, the ſmiles, the tender attentions of the lovely Maria? My only conſolation is, that I can never merit her. I ſhall never behold him who can. Where is there, in all the works of nature, an object ſo perfect as a beauteous female, when her paſſions are in uniſon with her features? Such is Maria.
Adieu my friend, H. H. ALWYN.
MAITLAND and I arrived here on Tueſday night, and though I cannot ſay without any adventures on the road, yet without any worth relating in a letter. Old Mr. Maitland received us with a chearful welcome, that prepoſſeſſed me in his favour, and has walked with me this morning over his farm. He is very different from the ſort of character I had previouſly formed in my mind. Not at all moroſe, or dogmatical; but, on the contrary, chearful and entertaining; his fancy, ſtored with the beauties of the claſſic writers, has ſhewn itſelf in the environs of his houſe. It is ſituated in a vale, that [Page 186] might vie with the celebrated Tempé. At ſome little diſtance runs a river, whoſe craggy and romantic banks engage the attention, while the foſſils in its bed afford an endleſs fund of amuſement for the naturaliſt. To the north, on a riſing hill, ſtands an elegant temple, on eight Corinthian columns of variegated marble. This is his obſervatory, and is well furniſhed with inſtruments, by the moſt capital makers. The view, from hence, is pleaſing beyond deſcription. Several natural openings, in the groves which ſurround the houſe, diſcover a variety of proſpects, each of which has its peculiar beauties; and grottoes, alcoves, with other little edifices diſperſed here and there, conſpire to lull the imagination into a delightful tranquillity.
Here could I ever ſtray, while the wrapt mindRecalls the long loſt tale of many a hero,Unwearied, watches Cynthia's ſilver courſe,When nightly, from the eaſt, ſlow riſing, ſheIllumes the azure heav'n with ſoften'd light.
As we walked together, through theſe pleaſant ſcenes, our converſation turned on a variety of ſubjects, but all of the literate kind. He was pleaſed to obſerve, I had a taſte for the ſciences; and I, on the other hand, was ſurprized at the refined judgment he diſplayed in matters of imagination, having expected to find him immerſed in mathematical ſpeculations. He certainly abſtracts too much, and expects to attain a ſtate of knowledge beyond what our faculties are capable of. The objects of taſte, ſays he, it muſt be allowed, conſtitute in themſelves the nobler exerciſes of the ſoul: the philoſophy of the paſſions is worthy the attention of mankind: the ſource, the ultimate baſis of morality [Page 188] is of the laſt conſequence to ſociety, and well deſerves to be enquired into.—But we loſe ourſelves in conjecture, inſtead of ſeeking for demonſtration. Would not you ſmile, Mr. Stamford, at the ſage, who, to explain the motion of a planet, ſhould ſay it proceeded from a motive faculty, inſtead of inveſtigating the reſpective momenta and directions of the projectile and centripetal forces? Is not certainty in the lower ſteps of ſcience an acquiſition more to be prized than the declamations of prejudice, or the endleſs maze of proofs founded on hypotheſis? Nay, rather, ought we not firſt to make ourſelves perfect in the rudiments of knowledge, before we pry into the arcana of the more ſubtle motions of intellectual ſubſtances? Demonſtration is not confined to quantity alone. Ideas of the great and beautiful in nature, in ſentiment, in ethics, and [Page 189] in all the branches of the ſentient faculty, are as perfect as thoſe of quantity, and their congruity with each other as perceptible. By the immediate application of two ideas an axiom may be formed. Definitions of terms ſhould be premiſed; and, by the intervention of a chain of immediately concordant ideas, we might connect the propoſition and conſequence. Whence demonſtration would be accompliſhed, and a man would no more doubt the beauty, order, or moral fitneſs of a well-grounded aſſertion, than the truth of a theorem in Euclid.
YOU will perceive the turn of his mind by this ſpecimen. The ſame mode of thinking accompanies him in his other purſuits. He is constantly employed in ſome reſearch, either in the intellectual or material world; and, [Page 190] his faculty of drawing concluſions from experiments, is admirable; though it ſometimes ſubjects him to errors, of which his ſon ſeldom fails to take advantage, he being poſſeſſed of capital talents for placing every object in the moſt ludicrous attitude. The country people are of opinion, that the old gentleman can conjure, and ſay that the little temple, on the hill, was built nobody knows how; but the pariſh clerk, who pretends to be very wiſe, ſays it was done by geometry, all in one night. Mr. Maitland is too rich to be a wizard; but I am informed, that an old woman, who lives in a hut, on the verge of his farm, has the reputation of doing all the miſchiefs that they are pleaſed to aſcribe to ſupernatural agents. This report is the more confirmed by ſeveral viſits he has lately [Page 191] made her, doubtleſs, with a view of relieving her neceſſities.
HIS houſe is of a moderate ſize, and elegantly finiſhed in the modern ſtile. The ſimplex munditiis is ſeen in every part of it, unleſs I may except certain apartments, which are conſecrated to philoſophical uſes. He has a variety of the beſt apparatus, which, according to the tenor of his prevailing ſtudy, is diſperſed on ſtands and tables appropriated for its reception. I promiſe myſelf much amuſement from hence, when the weather confines me at home; but am too great an admirer of the more obvious phaenomena of nature to ſtay within, when I can enjoy myſelf in the open air.
YOUNG Maitland makes the moſt of his time in hunting or ſhooting. We ſee [Page 192] very little of him, except when he has the complaiſance to aſſiſt at ſome philoſophical reſearch, in doing which he is ſo ingenious at finding means to exerciſe his riſible faculty that I wonder at his father's patience.—A propos of this youth, he is no favourite with my father, and ſtill leſs with Maria. I am convinced, if the intended match takes place, it will be more out of regard to his promiſe, and the ſteps he has taken in the affair, than to any wiſh he has to proceed.
I am, Dear Harry, your's ſincerely, C. STAMFORD.
[It may be neceſſary to inform the reader, that we have not annexed the liſt of parts, mentioned in the above letter, from a ſuppoſition, that mere names, though all the mankillers from Agamemnon to Marlborough were enumerated, would afford but ſmall amuſement. We will acknowledge, that a ſpecies of the ridiculous ran along the liſt, occaſioned by the avidity with which this veteran appropriated the repreſentation of all the great virtues and vices of the heroes of every country, young or old, Chriſtian or Heathen, Jew, Turk or Infidel to himſelf. Mrs. Truncheon Stentor, ſeemed no leſs capable and ambitious. To confeſs a truth, when we beheld along the lady's liſt of characters, Queen Margaret in one line, Lord Burleigh in the next, and Hecate in a third, we began to be in doubt either of the lady's gender, or the genuineneſs of the letter, eſpecially when we read the following remark: "In the Provoked Huſband, though John Moody is my wife's favourite part, yet ſhe can play Lady Townly, if wanted, but then ſhe chuſes to double them;" which means, according to our interpreter, to play them both on one night.—How uſeful would ſuch a lady as this be in a London theatre, where the great actreſſes are ſo liable to colds, and have ſuch tender and delicate conſtitutions, that a bad box book deprives them more effectually of the uſe of ſpeech, than a ſtroke of the palſy would.