The miscellaneous works of Oliver Goldsmith, M.B. Containing all his essays and poems
ESSAYS. SUBJECT OF EACH ESSAY.
- ESSAY I.
- Introduction Page 9
- ESSAY II.
- Story of Alcander and Septimius Page 11
- ESSAY III.
- Philoſophy does not contribute to happineſs Page 17
- ESSAY IV.
- Humourous account of clubs and ſocieties Page 21
- ESSAY V.
- Pity incompatible with friendſhip Page 30
- ESSAY VI.
- Juſticeſuperior to generoſity Page 35
- ESSAY VII.
- A treatiſe on education Page 39
- ESSAY VIII.
- Popular applauſe tranſitory Page 50
- ESSAY IX.
- Whimſical ſpecimen of a magazine Page 53
- ESSAY X.
- Adventure with an indigent beau Page 57
- ESSAY XI.
- Continued Page 60
- ESSAY XII.
- Advice to young men on entering life Page 65
- ESSAY XIII.
- On imaginary calamities, with a panegyric on dogs Page 68
- ESSAY XIV.
- Age increaſes our deſire of living Page 72
- ESSAY XV.
- On the abſurdities of dreſs Page 75
- ESSAY XVI.
- Story of Aſem the Manhater Page 80
- ESSAY XVII.
- On pulpit oratory Page 88
- ESSAY XVIII.
- On the advantages which might ariſe from ſending a philoſophic traveller to Aſia Page 93
- ESSAY XIX.
- Annals of the Boar's-head tavern in Eaſtcheap Page 97
- ESSAY XX.
- Portraits of two eminent quacks Page 110
- ESSAY XXI.
- Adventures of a ſtrolling player Page 114
- ESSAY XXII.
- Rules obſerved in a Ruſſian aſſembly Page 123
- ESSAY XXIII.
- Obſtructions to matrimony Page 125
- ESSAY XXIV.
- Habitual acquaintance with miſery teaches us to deſpiſe it Page 129
- ESSAY XXV.
- On the frailty of man. Suppoſed to be written by the ordinary of Newgate Page 135
- ESSAY XXVI.
- On friendſhip Page 137
- ESSAY XXVII.
- Folly of attempting to learn wiſdom in retirement Page 140
THE following Eſſays have already appeared at different times, and in different publications. The pamphlets in which they were inſerted being generally unſucceſsful, theſe ſhared the common fate, without aſſiſting the bookſeller's aims, or extending the writer's reputation. The public was too ſtrenuouſly employed with their own follies, to be aſſiduous in eſtimating mine; ſo that many of my beſt attempts in this way, have fallen victims to the tranſient topic of the times; the Ghoſt in Cock-lane, or the ſiege of Ticonderago.
But though they have paſt pretty ſilently in the world, I can by no means complain of their circulation. The magazines and papers of the day, have, indeed, been liberal enough in this [Page ii] reſpect. Moſt of theſe eſſays have been regularly reprinted twice or thrice a year, and conveyed to the public through the kennel of ſome engaging compilation. If there be a pride in multiplied editions, I have ſeen ſome of my labours ſixteen times reprinted, and claimed by different parents as their own. I have ſeen them flouriſhed at the beginning with praiſe, and ſigned at the end with the names of Philantos, Philalethes, Philaleutheros, and Philanthropos. Theſe gentlemen have kindly ſtood ſponſors to my productions, and to flatter me more, have always paſt them as their own.
It is time, however, at laſt, to vindicate my claims; and as theſe entertainers of the public, as they call themſelves, have partly lived upon me for ſome years, let me now now try if I cannot live a little upon myſelf. I would deſire in this caſe, to imitate that fat man whom I have ſomewhere heard of in a ſhipwreck, who, when the ſailors preſt by famine, were taking ſlices from his poſteriors, to ſatisfy their hunger, inſiſted with great juſtice on having the firſt cut for himſelf,
Yet after all, I cannot be angry with any who have taken it into their heads, to think that whatever I write is worth reprinting, particularly when I conſider how great a majority will think it ſcarce worth reading. Trifling and ſuperficial are terms of reproach that are eaſily objected, and [Page iii] that carry an air of penetration in the obſerver. Theſe faults have been objected to the following eſſays; and it muſt be owned, in ſome meaſure, that the charge is true. However, I could have made them more metaphyſical had I thought fit, but I would aſk whether in a ſhort eſſay it is not neceſſary to be ſuperficial? Before we have prepared to enter into the depths of a ſubject, in the uſual forms, we have got to the bottom of our ſcanty page, and thus loſe the honours of a victory by too tedious a preparation for the combat.
There is another fault in this collection of trifles, which I fear will not be ſo eaſily pardoned. It will be alledged that the humour of them (if any be found) is ſtale and hackneyed. This may be true enough as matters now ſtand, but I may with great truth aſſert, that the humour was new when I wrote it. Since that time indeed, many of the topics which were firſt ſtarted here, have been hunted down, and many of the thoughts blown upon. In fact, theſe eſſays were conſidered as quietly laid in the grave of oblivion, and our modern compilers, like ſextons and executioners, think it their undoubted right to pillage the dead.
However, whatever right I have to complain of the public, they can, as yet, have no juſt reaſon to complain of me. If I have written dull Eſſays, they have hitherto treated them as dull Eſſays. [Page iv] Thus far we are, at leaſt, upon par, and until they think fit to make me their humble debtor, by praiſe, I am reſolved not to loſe a ſingle inch of my ſelf-importance. Inſtead, therefore, of attempting to eſtabliſh a credit amongſt them, it will perhaps be wiſer to apply to ſome more diſtant correſpondent, and as my drafts are in ſome danger of being proteſted at home, it may not be imprudent upon this occaſion, to draw my bills upon poſterity. ‘"Mr Poſterity. Sir, Nine hundred and ninety-nine years after ſight hereof, pay the bearer, or order, a thouſand pound's worth of praiſe, free from all deductions whatſoever, it being a commodity that will then be very ſerviceable to him, and place it to the accompt of, &c."’
THERE is not, perhaps, a more whimſical figure in nature, than a man of real modeſty who aſſumes an air of impudence; who, while his heart beats with anxiety, ſtudies eaſe and affects good humour. In this ſituation, however, every unexperienced writer finds himſelf. Impreſſed with the terrors of the tribunal before which he is going to appear, his natural humour turns to pertneſs, and for real wit he is obliged to ſubſtitute vivacity.
For my part, as I was never diſtinguiſhed for addreſs, and have often even blundered in making my bow, I am at a loſs whether to be merry or ſad on this ſolemn occaſion. Should I modeſtly decline all merit, it is too probable the haſty reader may take me at my word. If, on the other hand, like labourers in the Magazine-trade, I humbly preſume to promiſe an epitome of all the good things that were ever ſaid or written, thoſe readers I moſt deſire to pleaſe may forſake me.
[Page 10] My bookſeller, in this dilemma, perceiving my embarraſment, inſtantly offered his aſſiſtance and advice: ‘"You muſt know, Sir,"’ ſays he, ‘"that the republic of letters is at preſent divided into ſeveral claſſes. One writer excels at a plan, or a title-page; another works away the body of the book; and a third is a dab at an index. Thus a Magazine is not the reſult of any ſingle man's induſtry; but goes through as many hands as a new pin, before it is fit for the public. I fancy, Sir,"’ continues he, ‘"I can provide an eminent hand, and upon moderate terms, to draw up a promiſing plan to ſmooth up our readers a little, and pay them, as Colonel Charters paid his ſeraglio, at the rate of three halfpence in hand, and three ſhillings more in promiſes."’
He was proceeding in his advice, which, however, I thought proper to decline, by aſſuring him, that, as I intended to purſue no fixed method, ſo it was impoſſible to form any regular plan; determined never to be tedious, in order to be logical; wherever pleaſure preſented, I was reſolved to follow.
It will be improper, therefore, to pall the reader's curioſity by leſſening his ſurprize, or anticipate any pleaſure I am able to procure him, by ſaying what ſhall come next. Happy could any effort of mine but repreſs one criminal pleaſure, or but for a moment fill up an interval of anxiety! How gladly would I lead mankind from the vain proſpects of life, to proſpects of innocence and eaſe, where every breeze breathes health, and every ſound is but the echo of tranquility!
But whatever may be the merit of his intentions, every writer is now convinced that he muſt be chiefly indebted to good fortune for finding readers willing to allow him any degree of reputation. It has been remarked, that almoſt every character which has excited either attention or pity, has owed part of its ſucceſs to merit, and part to an happy concurrence of circumſtances in its favour. Had Caeſar or Cromwell [Page 11] exchanged countries, the one might have been a ſerjeant, and the other an exciſeman. So it is with wit, which generally ſucceeds more from being happily addreſſed, than from its native poignancy. A jeſt calculated to ſpread at a gaming table, may be received with perfect indifference, ſhould it happen to drop in a mackarel-boat. We have all ſeen dunces triumph in ſome companies, where men of real humour were diſregarded, by a general combination in favour of ſtupidity. To drive the obſervation as far as it will go, ſhould the labours of a writer who deſigns his performances for readers of a more refined appetite, fall into the hands of a devourer of compilations, what can he expect but contempt and confuſion? If his merits are to be determined by judges who eſtimate the value of a book from its bulk, or its frontiſpiece, every rival muſt acquire an eaſy ſuperiority, who, with perſuaſive eloquence, promiſes four pages extraordinary of letter-preſs, or three beautiful prints, curiouſly coloured from nature.
Thus then, though I cannot promiſe as much entertainment or as much elegance as others have done, yet the reader may be aſſured he ſhall have as much of both as I can. He ſhall, at leaſt, find me alive while I ſtudy his entertainment; for I ſolemnly aſſure him, I was never yet poſſeſſed of the ſecret of writing and ſleeping.
During the courſe of this paper, therefore, all the wit and learning I have, are heartily at his ſervice; which if, after ſo candid a confeſſion, he ſhould notwithſtanding ſtill find intolerably dull, or low, or ſad ſtuff, this I proteſt is no more than I know. I have a clear conſcience, and am entirely out of the ſecret.
Yet I would not have him, upon the peruſal of a ſingle paper, pronounce me incorrigible; he may try a ſecond, which, as there is a ſtudied difference in ſubject and ſtyle, may be more ſuited to his taſte; if this alſo fails, I muſt refer him to a third, or even a fourth, in caſe of extremity: if he ſhould ſtill [Page 12] continue refractory, and find me dull to the laſt, I muſt inform him, with Bays in the Rehearſal, that I think him a very odd kind of a fellow, and deſire no more of his acquaintance. But ſtill if my readers impute the general tenor of my ſubject to me as a fault, I muſt beg leave to tell them a ſtory.
A traveller, in his way to Italy, found himſelf in a country where the inhabitants had each a large excreſcence depending from the chin; a deformity which, as it was endemic, and the people little uſed to ſtrangers, it had been the cuſtom, time immemorial, to look upon as the greateſt beauty. Ladies grew toaſts from the ſize of their chins, and no men were beauxs whoſe faces were not broadeſt at the bottom. It was Sunday; a country church was at hand; and our traveller was willing to perform the duties of the day. Upon his firſt appearance at the church-door, the eyes of all were naturally fixed upon the ſtranger; but what was their amazement, when they found that he actually wanted that emblem of beauty, a purſed chin. Stifled burſts of laughter, winks, and whiſpers, circulated from viſage to viſage; the priſmatic figure of the ſtranger's face was a fund of infinite gaiety. Our traveller could no longer patiently continue an object for deformity to point at. ‘"Good folks,"’ ſaid he, ‘"I perceive that I am a very ridiculous figure here, but I aſſure you I am reckoned no way deformed at HOME."’
ATHENS, long after the decline of the Roman empire, ſtill continued the ſeat of learning, politeneſs, and wiſdom. Theodoric, the Oſtrogoth, repaired the ſchools which barbarity was ſuffering to fall into decay, and continued thoſe penſions to men of learning, which avaricious governors had monopolized.
In this city, and about this period, Alcander and Septimius were fellow-ſtudents together. The one, the moſt ſubtle reaſoner of all the Lyceum; the other, the moſt eloquent ſpeaker in the Academic Grove. Mutual admiration ſoon begot a friendſhip. Their fortunes were nearly equal, and they were natives of the two moſt celebrated cities in the world: for Alcander was of Athens, Septimius came from Rome.
In this ſtate of harmony they lived for ſome time together, when Alcander, after paſſing the firſt part of his youth in the indolence of philoſophy, thought at length of entering into the buſy world; and, as a ſtep previous to this, placed his affections on Hypatia, a lady of exquiſite beauty. The day of their intended nuptials was fixed; the previous ceremonies were performed; and nothing now remained, but her being conducted in triumph to the apartment of the intended bridegroom.
Alcander's exultation in his own happineſs, or being unable to enjoy any ſatisfaction without making his friend Septimius a partner, prevailed upon him to introduce Hypatia [Page 14] to his fellow-ſtudent; which he did with all the gaiety of a man who found himſelf equally happy in friendſhip and love. But this was an interview fatal to the future peace of both; for Septimius no ſooner ſaw her, but he was ſmitten with an involuntary paſſion; and, though he uſed every effort to ſuppreſs deſires at once ſo imprudent and unjuſt, the emotions of his mind in a ſhort time became ſo ſtrong, that they brought on a fever, which the phyſicians judged incurable.
During this illneſs, Alcander watched him with all the anxiety of fondneſs, and brought his miſtreſs to join in thoſe amiable offices of friendſhip. The ſagacity of the phyſicians, by theſe means, ſoon diſcovered that the cauſe of their patient's diſorder was love; and Alcander being apprized of their diſcovery, at length extorted a confeſſion from the reluctant dying lover.
It would but delay the narrative to deſcribe the conflict between love and friendſhip in the breaſt of Alcander on this occaſion; it is enough to ſay, that the Athenians were at that time arrived at ſuch refinement in morals, that every virtue was carried to exceſs. In ſhort, forgetful of his own felicity, he gave up his intended bride, in all her charms, to the young Roman. They were married privately by his connivance, and this unlooked-for change of fortune wrought as unexpected a change in the conſtitution of the now happy Septimius. In a few days he was perfectly recovered, and ſet out with his fair partner for Rome. Here, by an exertion of thoſe talents which he was ſo eminently poſſeſſed of, Septimius, in a few years, arrived at the higheſt dignities of the ſtate, and was conſtituted the city-judge, or praetor.
In the mean time Alcander not only felt the pain of being ſeparated from his friend and his miſtreſs, but a proſecution was commenced againſt him by the relations of Hypatia, for having baſely given up his bride, as was ſuggeſted, for money. [Page 15] His innocence of the crime laid to his charge, and even his eloquence in his own defence, were not able to withſtand the influence of a powerful party. He was caſt and condemned to pay an enormous fine. However, being unable to raiſe ſo large a ſum at the time appointed, his poſſeſſions were conſiſcated, he himſelf was ſtripped of the habit of freedom, expoſed as a ſlave in the market-place, and ſold to the higheſt bidder.
A merchant of Thrace becoming his purchaſer, Alcander, with ſome other companions of diſtreſs, was carried into that region of deſolation and ſterility. His ſtated employment was to follow the herds of an imperious maſter, and his ſucceſs in hunting was all that was allowed him to ſupply his precarious ſubſiſtence. Every morning waked him to a renewal of famine or toil, and every change of ſeaſon ſerved but to aggravate his unſheltered diſtreſs. After ſome years of bondage, however, an opportunity of eſcaping offered; he embraced it with ardour; ſo that travelling by night, and lodging in caverns by day, to ſhorten a long ſtory, he at laſt arrived in Rome. The ſame day on which Alcander arrived, Septimius ſat adminiſtering juſtice in the Forum, whither our wanderer came, expecting to be inſtantly known, and publicly acknowledged by his former friend. Here he ſtood the whole day amongſt the crowd, watching the eyes of the judge, and expecting to be taken notice of; but he was ſo much altered by a long ſucceſſion of hardſhips, that he continued unnoted among the reſt; and, in the evening, when he was going up to the praetor's chair, he was brutally repulſed by the attending lictors. The attention of the poor is generally driven from one ungrateful object to another; for night coming on, he now found himſelf under a neceſſity of ſeeking a place to lie in, and yet knew not where to apply. [...] emaciated, and in rags as he was, none of the citizens would harbour ſo much wretchedneſs; and ſleeping in the ſtreets might be attended with interruption or danger: in ſhort, he [Page 16] was obliged to take up his lodging in one of the tombs without the city, the uſual retreat of guilt, poverty, and deſpair. In this manſion of horror, laying his head upon an inverted urn, he forgot his miſeries for a while in ſleep; and found on his flinty couch, more eaſe than beds of down can ſupply to the guilty.
As he continued here, about midnight, two robbers came to make this their retreat; but happening to diſagree about the diviſion of their plunder, one of them ſtabbed the other to the heart, and left him weltering in blood at the entrance. In theſe circumſtances he was found next morning dead at the mouth of the vault. This naturally inducing a further enquiry, an alarm was ſpread; the cave was examined; and Alcander was apprehended and accuſed of robbery and murder. The circumſtances againſt him were ſtrong, and the wretchedneſs of his appearance confirmed ſuſpicion. Miſfortune and he were now ſo long acquainted, that he at laſt became regardleſs of life. He deteſted a world where he had found only ingratitude, falſhood, and cruelty; he was determined to make no defence; and, thus lowering with reſolution, he was dragged, bound with cords, before the tribunal of Septimius. As the proofs were poſitive againſt him, and he offered nothing in his own vindication, the judge was proceeding to doom him to a moſt cruel and ignominious death, when the attention of the multitude was ſoon divided by another object. The robber, who had been really guilty, was apprehended ſelling his plunder, and, ſtruck with a panic, had confeſſed his crime. He was brought bound to the ſame tribunal, and acquitted every other perſon of any partnerſhip in his guilt. Alcander's innocence therefore appeared, but the ſullen raſhneſs of his conduct remained a wonder to the ſurrounding multitude; but their aſtoniſhment was ſtill farther increaſed when they ſaw their judge ſtart from his tribunal to embrace the ſuppoſed criminal: Septimus recollected his friend and former benefactor, and hung upon [Page 17] his neck with tears of pity and of joy. Need the ſequel be related? Alcander was acquitted; ſhared the friendſhip and honours of the principal citizens of Rome; lived afterwards in happineſs and eaſe; and left it to be engraved on his tomb, ‘"That no circumſtances are ſo deſperate which Providence may not relieve."’
WHEN I reflect on the unambitious retirement in which I paſſed the earlier part of my life in the country, I cannot avoid feeling ſome pain in thinking that thoſe happy days are never to return. In that retreat all nature ſeemed capable of affording pleaſure; I then made no refinements on happineſs, but could be pleaſed with the moſt aukward efforts of ruſtic mirth, thought croſs-purpoſes the higheſt ſtretch of human wit, and queſtions and commands the moſt rational way of ſpending the evening. Happy could ſo charming an illuſion ſtill continue! I find that age and knowledge only contribute to ſour our diſpoſitions. My preſent enjoyments may be more refined, but they are infinitely leſs pleaſing. The pleaſure the beſt actor gives, can no way compare to that I have received from a country-wag who imitated a quaker's ſermon. The muſic of the fineſt ſinger is diſſonance to what I felt when our old dairy-maid ſung me into tears with Johnny Armſtrong's Laſt Good night, or the Cruelty of Barbara Allen.
Writers of every age have endeavoured to ſhew that pleaſure is in us, and not in the objects offered for our amuſement. If the ſoul be happily diſpoſed, every thing becomes capable of affording entertainment, and diſtreſs will almoſt [Page 18] want a name. Every occurrence paſſes in review like the figures of a proceſſion; ſome may be aukward, others illdreſſed; but none but a fool is for this enraged with the maſter of the ceremonies.
I remember to have once ſeen a ſlave in a fortification in Flanders, who appeared no way touched with his ſituation. He was maimed, deformed, and chained; obliged to toil from the appearance of day till night-fall, and condemned to this for life; yet, with all theſe circumſtances of apparent wretchedneſs, he ſung, would have danced but that he wanted a leg, and appeared the merrieſt, happieſt man of all the garriſon. What a practical philoſopher was here! an happy conſtitution ſupplied philoſophy; and, though ſeemingly deſtitute of wiſdom, he was really wiſe. No reading or ſtudy had contributed to diſenchant the fairy-land around him. Every thing furniſhed him with an opportunity of mirth; and, though ſome thought him, from his inſenſibility, a fool, he was ſuch an ideot as philoſophers ſhould wiſh to imitate; for all philoſophy is only forcing the trade of happineſs, when nature ſeems to deny the means.
They who, like our ſlave, can place themſelves on that ſide of the world in which every thing appears in a pleaſing light, will find ſomething in every occurrence to excite their good humour. The moſt calamitous events, either to themſelves or others, can bring no new affliction; the whole world is to them a theatre, on which comedies only are acted. All the buſtle of heroiſm, or the rants of ambition, ſerve only to heighten the abſurdity of the ſcene, and make the humour more poignant. They feel, in ſhort, as little anguiſh at their own diſtreſs, or the complaints of others, as the undertaker, though dreſſed in black, feels ſorrow at a funeral.
Of all the men I ever read of, the famous Cardinal de Retz poſſeſſed this happineſs of temper in the higheſt degree. As he was a man of gallantry, and deſpiſed all that [Page 19] wore the pedantic appearance of philoſophy, wherever pleaſure was to be ſold, he was generally foremoſt to raiſe the auction. Being an univerſal admirer of the fair ſex, when he found one lady cruel, he generally fell in love with another, from whom he expected a more favourable reception: if ſhe too rejected his addreſſes, he never thought of retiring into deſarts, or pining in hopeleſs diſtreſs. He perſuaded himſelf, that, inſtead of loving the lady, he only fancied that he had loved her, and ſo all was well again. When fortune wore her angrieſt look, and he at laſt fell into the power of his moſt deadly enemy Cardinal Mazarine (being confined a cloſe priſoner in the caſtle of Valenciennes) he never attempted to ſupport his diſtreſs by wiſdom or philoſophy, for he pretended to neither. He only laughed at himſelf and his perſecutor, and ſeemed infinitely pleaſed at his new ſituation. In this manſion of diſtreſs, though ſecluded from his friends, though denied all the amuſements, and even the conveniences of life, he ſtill retained his good humour; laughed at all the little ſpite of his enemies; and carried the jeſt ſo far as to be revenged by writing the life of his goaler.
All that the wiſdom of the proud can teach, is to be ſtubborn or ſullen under misfortunes. The Cardinal's example will inſtruct us to be merry in circumſtances of the higheſt affliction. It matters not whether our good humour be conſtrued by others into inſenſibility, or even idiotiſm; it is happineſs to ourſelves, and none but a fool would meaſure his ſatisfaction by what the world thinks of it: for my own part, I never paſs by one of our priſons for debt, that I do not envy that felicity which is ſtill going forward among thoſe people who forget the cares of the world by being ſhut out from its ambition.
The happieſt ſilly fellow I ever knew, was of the number of thoſe good-natured creatures that are ſaid to do no harm to any but themſelves. Whenever he fell into any miſery, he uſually called it Seeing Life. If his head was broke by [Page 20] a chairman, or his pocket picked by a ſharper, he comforted himſelf by imitating the Hibernian dialect of the one, or the more faſhionable cant of the other. Nothing came amiſs to him. His inattention to money-matters had incenſed his father to ſuch a degree, that all the interceſſion of friends in his favour was fruitleſs. The old gentleman was on his deathbed. The whole family, and Dick among the number, gathered around him.—‘"I leave my ſecond ſon, Andrew,"’ ſaid the expiring miſer, ‘"my whole eſtate, and deſire him to be frugal."’ Andrew, in a ſorrowful tone, as is uſual on theſe occaſions, prayed heaven to prolong his life and health to enjoy it himſelf.—‘"I recommend Simon, my third ſon, to the care of his elder brother, and leave him beſide four thouſand pounds."’ ‘"Ah! father,"’ cried Simon, (in great affliction to be ſure) ‘"may heaven give you life and health to enjoy it yourſelf."’ At laſt, turning to poor Dick, ‘"As for you, you have always been a ſad dog; you'll never come to good; you'll never be rich; I'll leave you a ſhilling to buy a halter."’ ‘"Ah! father,"’ cries Dick, without any emotion, ‘"may heaven give you life and health to enjoy it yourſelf."’ This was all the trouble the loſs of fortune gave this thoughtleſs imprudent creature. However, the tenderneſs of an uncle recompenſed the neglect of a father; and my friend is now not only exceſſively good-humoured, but competently rich.
Yes, let the world cry out at a bankrupt who appears at a ball; at an author who laughs at the public which pronounces him a dunce; at a general who ſmiles at the reproach of the vulgar, or the lady who keeps her good humour in ſpite of ſcandal; but ſuch is the wiſeſt behaviour that any of us can poſſibly aſſume; it is certainly a better way to oppoſe calamity by diſſipation than to take up the arms of reaſon or reſolution to oppoſe it: by the firſt method, we forget our miſeries; by the laſt, we only conceal them from others; by ſtruggling with misfortunes, we are ſure to receive ſome [Page 21] wounds in the conflict; but a ſure method to come off victorious, is by running away.
I REMEMBER to have read in ſome philoſopher (I believe in Tom Brown's works) that, let a man's character, ſentiments, or complexion, be what they will, he can find company in London to match them. If he be ſplenetic, he may every day meet companions on the ſeats in St. James's Park, with whoſe groans he may mix his own, and pathetically talk of the weather. If he be paſſionate, he may vent his rage among the old orators at Slaughter's coffee-houſe, and damn the nation becauſe it keeps him from ſtarving. If he be phlegmatic, he may ſit in ſilence at the Hum-drum club in Ivey-lane; and, if actually mad, he may find very good company in Moor-fields, either at Bedlam, or the Foundery, ready to cultivate a nearer acquaintance.
But, although ſuch as have a knowledge of the town may eaſily claſs themſelves with tempers congenial to their own, a countryman who comes to live in London finds nothing more difficult. With regard to myſelf, none ever tried with more aſſiduity, or came off with ſuch indifferent ſucceſs. I ſpent a whole ſeaſon in the ſearch, during which time my name has been enrolled in ſocieties, lodges, convocations, and meetings without number. To ſome I was introduced by a friend, to others invited by an advertiſement: to theſe I introduced myſelf, and to thoſe I changed my name to gain admittance. In ſhort, no coquette was ever more ſolicitous to match her ribbons to her complexion, than I to ſuit my [Page 22] club to my temper, for I was too obſtinate to bring my temper to conform to it.
The firſt club I entered, upon coming to town, was that of the Choice Spirits. The name was entirely ſuited to my taſte; I was a lover of mirth, good-humour, and even ſometimes of fun, from my childhood.
As no other paſſport was requiſite but the payment of two ſhillings at the door, I introduced myſelf without farther ceremony to the members, who were already aſſembled, and had, for ſome time, begun upon buſineſs. The Grand, with a mallet in his hand, preſided at the head of the table. I could not avoid, upon my entrance, making uſe of all my ſkill in phyſiognomy, in order to diſcover that ſuperiority of genius in men, who had taken a title ſo ſuperior to the reſt of mankind. I expected to ſee the lines of every face marked with ſtrong thinking; but though I had ſome ſkill in this ſcience, I could for my life diſcover nothing but a pert ſimper, fat, or profound ſtupidity.
My ſpeculations were ſoon interrupted by the Grand, who had knocked down Mr. Spriggins for a ſong. I was, upon this, whiſpered by one of the company who ſat next me, that I ſhould now ſee ſomething touched off to a nicety, for Mr. Spriggins was going to give us Mad Tom in all its glory. Mr. Spriggins endeavoured to excuſe himſelf; for, as he was to act a mad-man and a king, it was impoſſible to go through the part properly without a crown and chains. His excuſes were over-ruled by a great majority, and with much vociferation. The Preſident ordered up the jack-chain, and, inſtead of a crown, our performer covered his brows with an inverted jordan. After he had rattled his chain, and ſhook his head, to the great delight of the whole company, he began his ſong. As I have heard few young fellows offer to ſing in company that did not expoſe themſelves, it was no great diſappointment to me to find Mr. Spriggins among the number; however, not to ſeem an odd fiſh, I roſe from my [Page 23] ſeat in rapture, cried out, Bravo! Encore! and ſlapped the table as loud as any of the reſt.
The gentleman who ſat next me ſeemed highly pleaſed with my taſte and the ardour of my approbation; and whiſpering told me, that I had ſuffered an immenſe loſs; for, had I come a few minutes ſooner, I might have heard Gee-ho Dobbin ſung in a tip-top manner by the pimple-noſed ſpirit at the Preſident's right elbow; but he was evaporated before I came.
As I was expreſſing my uneaſineſs at this diſappointment, I found the attention of the company employed upon a fat figure, who, with a voice more rough than the Staffordſhire giant's, was giving us the ‘"Softly ſweet, in Lydian meaſure,"’ of Alexander's Feaſt. After a ſhort pauſe of admiration, to this ſucceeded a Welch dialogue, with the humours of Teague and Taffy: after that came on Old Jackſon, with a ſtory between every ſtanza: next was ſung the Duſt-cart, and then Solomon's Song. The glaſs began now to circulate pretty freely; thoſe who were ſilent when ſober, would now be heard in their turn; every man had his ſong, and he ſaw no reaſon why he ſhould not be heard as well as any of the reſt: one begged to be heard while he gave Death and the Lady in high taſte; another ſung to a plate which he kept trundling on the edges; nothing was now heard but ſinging; voice roſe above voice, and the whole became one univerſal ſhout, when the landlord came to acquaint the company that the reckoning was drank out. Rabelais calls the moments in which a reckoning is mentioned, the moſt melancholy of our lives: never was ſo much noiſe ſo quickly quelled, as by this ſhort but pathetic oration of our landlord: Drank out! was echoed in a tone of diſcontent round the table: Drank out already! that was very odd! that ſo much punch could be drank out already! impoſſible! The landlord, however, ſeeming reſolved not to retreat from his firſt aſſurances, the company [Page 24] was diſſolved, and a Preſident choſen for the night enſuing.
A friend of mine, to whom I was complaining ſome time after of the entertainment I have been deſcribing, propoſed to bring me to the club that he frequented; which, he fancied, would ſuit the gravity of my temper exactly. ‘"We have, at the Muzzy Club,"’ ſays he, ‘"no riotous mirth nor aukward ribaldry; no confuſion or bawling; all is conducted with wiſdom and decency: beſides, ſome of our members are worth forty thouſand pounds; men of prudence and foreſight every one of them: theſe are the proper acquaintance, and to ſuch I will to-night introduce you."’ I was charmed at the propoſal: to be acquainted with men worth forty thouſand pounds, and to talk wiſdom the whole night, were offers that threw me into rapture.
At ſeven o'clock I was accordingly introduced by my friend, not indeed to the company; for, though I made my beſt bow, they ſeemed inſenſible of my approach, but to the table at which they were ſitting. Upon my entering the room, I could not avoid feeling a ſecret veneration from the ſolemnity of the ſcene before me; the members kept a profound ſilence, each with a pipe in his mouth and a pewterpot in his hand, and with faces which might eaſily be conſtrued into abſolute wiſdom. Happy ſociety, thought I to myſelf, where the members think before they ſpeak, deliver nothing raſhly, but convey their thoughts to each other pregnant with meaning, and matured by reflection.
In this pleaſing ſpeculation I continued a full half hour, expecting each moment that ſomebody would begin to open his mouth; every time the pipe was laid down I expected it was to ſpeak, but it was only to ſpit. At length, reſolving to break the charm myſelf, and overcome their extreme diffidence (for to this I imputed their ſilence) I rubbed my hands, and looking as wiſe as poſſible, obſerved that the nights began to grow a little cooliſh at this time of the year. [Page 25] This, as it was directed to none of the company in particular, none thought himſelf obliged to anſwer; wherefore I continued ſtill to rub my hands and look wiſe. My next effort was addreſſed to a gentleman who ſat next me, to whom I obſerved, that the beer was extreme good; my neighbour made no reply, but by a large puff of tobacco ſmoak.
I now began to be uneaſy in this dumb ſociety, till one of them a little relieved me by obſerving, that bread had not riſen theſe three weeks: ‘"Aye,"’ ſays another, ſtill keeping the pipe in his mouth, ‘"that puts me in mind of a pleaſant ſtory about that—hem—very well; you muſt know—but, before I begin—Sir, my ſervice to you—where was I?"’
My next club goes by the name of the Harmonical Society; probably from that love of order and friendſhip which every perſon commends in inſtitutions of this nature. The landlord was himſelf founder. The money ſpent is four-pence each; and they ſometimes whip for a double reckoning. To this club few recommendations are requiſite, except the introductory four-pence and my landlord's good word, which, as he gains by it, he never refuſes.
We all here talked and behaved as every body elſe uſually does on his club-night. We diſcuſſed the topic of the day, drank each others healths, ſnuffed the candles with our fingers, and filled our pipes from the ſame plate of tobacco. The company ſaluted each other in the common manner. Mr. Bellows-mender hoped Mr. Curry-comb-maker had not caught cold going home the laſt club-night; and he returned the compliment by hoping young Maſter Bellows-mender had got well again of the chin-cough. Doctor Twiſt told us a ſtory of a parliament-man with whom he was intimately acquainted; while the bug-man, at the ſame time, was telling a better ſtory of a noble lord with whom he could do any thing. A gentleman in a black wig and leather breeches, at t'other end of the table, was engaged in a long narrative [Page 26] of the Ghoſt in Cock-lane: he had read it in the papers of the day, and was telling it to ſome that ſat next him who could not read. Near him Mr. Dibbins was diſputing on the old ſubject of religion with a Jew pedlar, over the table; while the Preſident in vain knocked down Mr. Leatherſides for a ſong. Beſides the combinations of theſe voices, which I could hear altogether, and which formed an upper part to the concert, there were ſeveral others playing under-parts by themſelves, and endeavouring to faſten on ſome luckleſs neighbour's ear, who was himſelf bent upon the ſame deſign againſt ſome other.
We have often heard of the ſpeech of a corporation, and this induced me to tranſcribe a ſpeech of this club, taken in ſhort-hand, word for word, as it was ſpoken by every member of the company. It may be neceſſary to obſerve, that the man who told of the ghoſt had the loudeſt voice, and the longeſt ſtory to tell, ſo that his continuing narrative filled every chaſm in the converſation.
‘"So, Sir, d'ye perceive me, the ghoſt giving three loud raps at the bed-poſt—Says my lord to me, My dear Smokeum, you know there is no man upon the face of the yearth for whom I have ſo high—A damnable falſe heretical opinion of all ſound doctrine and good learning; for I'll tell it aloud, and ſpare not that—Silence for a ſong; Mr. Leatherſides for a ſong—As I was a walking upon the highway, I met a young damſel—Then what brings you here? ſays the parſon to the ghoſt—Sanconiathon, Manetho, and Beroſus—The whole way from Iſlington-turnpike to Doghouſe-bar—Dam—As for Abel Drugger, Sir, he's damn'd low in it; my 'prentice boy has more of the gentleman than he—For murder will out one time or another; and none but a ghoſt, you know, gentlemen, can—Damme if I don't; for my friend, whom you know, gentlemen, and who is a parliament man, a man of conſequence, a dear, honeſt creature, [Page 27] to be ſure; we were laughing laſt night at—Death and damnation upon all his poſterity by ſimply barely taſting—Sour grapes, as the fox ſaid once when he could not reach them; and I'll, and I'll tell you a ſtory about that that will make you burſt your ſides with laughing: A fox once—Will nobody liſten to the ſong—As I was a walking upon the highway, I met a young damſel both buxom and gay—No ghoſt, gentlemen, can be murdered; nor did I ever hear but of one ghoſt killed in all my life, and that was ſtabbed in the belly with a—My blood and ſoul if I don't—Mr. Bellows-mender, I have the honour of drinking your very good health—Blaſt me if I do—dam—blood—bugs—fire—whizz—blid—tit—rat—trip."’—The reſt all riot, nonſenſe, and rapid confuſion.
Were I to be angry at men for being fools, I could here find ample room for declamation; but, alas! I have been a fool myſelf; and why ſhould I be angry with them for being ſomething ſo natural to every child of humanity?
Fatigued with this ſociety, I was introduced, the following night, to a club of faſhion. On taking my place, I found the converſation ſufficiently eaſy, and tolerably good-natured; for my lord and Sir Paul were not yet arrived. I now thought myſelf completely fitted, and reſolving to ſeek no farther, determined to take up my reſidence here for the winter; while my temper began to open inſenſibly to the cheerfulneſs I ſaw diffuſed on every face in the room: but the deluſion ſoon vaniſhed, when the waiter came to apprize us, that his lordſhip and Sir Paul were juſt arrived.
From this moment all our felicity was at an end; our new gueſts buſtled into the room, and took their ſeats at the head of the table. Adieu now all confidence; every creature ſtrove who ſhould moſt recommend himſelf to our members of diſtinction. Each ſeemed quite regardleſs of pleaſing any but [Page 28] our new gueſts; and, what before wore the appearance of friendſhip, was now turned into rivalry.
Yet I could not obſerve that, amidſt all this flattery and obſequious attention, our great men took any notice of the reſt of the company. Their whole diſcourſe was addreſſed to each other. Sir Paul told his lordſhip a long ſtory of Moravia the Jew; and his lordſhip gave Sir Paul a very long account of his new method of managing ſilk-worms: he led him, and conſequently the reſt of the company, through all the ſtages of feeding, ſunning, and hatching; with an epiſode on mulberry-trees, a digreſſion upon graſs-ſeeds, and a long parentheſis about his new poſtilion. In this manner we travelled on, wiſhing every ſtory to be the laſt; but all in vain;
"Hills over hills, and Alps on Alps aroſe."
The laſt club in which I was inrolled a member, was a ſociety of moral philoſophers, as they called themſelves, who aſſembled twice a week, in order to ſhew the abſurdity of the preſent mode of religion, and eſtabliſh a new one in its ſtead.
I found the members very warmly diſputing when I arrived; not indeed about religion or ethics, but about who had neglected to lay down his preliminary ſix-pence upon entering the room. The Preſident ſwore that he had laid his own down, and ſo ſwore all the company.
During this conteſt, I had an opportunity of obſerving the laws, and alſo the members of the ſociety. The Preſident, who had been, as I was told, lately a bankrupt, was a tall, pale figure, with a long black wig; the next to him was dreſſed in a large white wig, and a black cravat; a third, by the brownneſs of his complexion, ſeemed a native of Jamaica; and a fourth, by his hue, appeared to be a blackſmith. But their rules will give the moſt juſt idea of their learning and principles.‘
I. We being a laudable ſociety of moral philoſophers, intends to diſpute twice a week about religion and prieſtcraft. [Page 29] Leaving behind us old wives tales, and following good learning and ſound ſenſe: and if ſo be, that any other perſons has a mind to be of the ſociety, they ſhall be intitled ſo to do, upon paying the ſum of three ſhillings, to be ſpent by the company in punch.
III. That, as members are ſometimes apt to go away without paying, every perſon ſhall pay ſix-pence upon his entering the room; and all diſputes ſhall be ſettled by a majority; and all fines ſhall be paid in punch.
IV. That ſix-pence ſhall be every night given to the Preſident, in order to buy books of learning for the good of the ſociety; the Preſident has already put himſelf to a good deal of expence in buying books for the club; particularly, the works of Tully, Socrates, and Cicero, which he will ſoon read to the ſociety.
V. All them who brings a new argument againſt religion, and who, being a philoſopher, and a man of learning, as the reſt of us is, ſhall be admitted to the freedom of the ſociety, upon paying ſix-pence only, to be ſpent in punch.
IT is uſually ſaid by grammarians, that the uſe of language is to expreſs our wants and deſires; but men who know the world hold, and I think with ſome ſhew of reaſon, that he who beſt knows how to keep his neceſſities private, is the moſt likely perſon to have them redreſſed; and that the true uſe of ſpeech is not ſo much to expreſs our wants, as to conceal them.
When we reflect on the manner in which mankind generally confer their favours, there appears ſomething ſo attractive in riches, that the large heap generally collects from the ſmaller: and the poor find as much pleaſure in increaſing the enormous maſs of the rich, as the miſer, who owns it, ſees happineſs in its increaſe. Nor is there in this any thing repugnant to the laws of morality. Seneca himſelf allows, that, in conferring benefits, the preſent ſhould always be ſuited to the dignity of the receiver. Thus the rich receive large preſents, and are thanked for accepting them. Men of middling ſtations are obliged to be content with preſents ſomething leſs; while the beggar, who may be truly ſaid to want indeed, is well paid if a farthing rewards his warmeſt ſolicitations.
Every man who has ſeen the world, and has had his ups and downs in life, as the expreſſion is, muſt have frequently experienced the truth of this doctrine; and muſt know, that to have much, or to ſeem to have it, is the only way to have more. Ovid finely compares a man of broken fortune to a falling column; the lower it ſinks, the greater weight it is obliged to ſuſtain. Thus, when a man's circumſtances are ſuch, that he has no occaſion to borrow, he finds numbers willing to lend him; but, ſhould his wants be ſuch that he ſues for a trifle, it is two to one whether he may be truſted with the ſmalleſt ſum.
[Page 31] A certain young fellow whom I knew, whenever he had occaſion to aſk his friend for a guinea, uſed to prelude his requeſt as if he wanted two hundred; and talked ſo familiarly of large ſums, that none could ever think he wanted a ſmall one. The ſame gentleman, whenever he wanted credit for a ſuit of cloaths, always made the propoſal in a laced coat; for he found by experience, that, if he appeared ſhabby on theſe occaſions, his taylor had taken an oath againſt truſting; or what was every whit as bad, his foreman was out of the way, and ſhould not be at home for ſome time.
There can be no inducement to reveal our wants, except to find pity, and by this means relief; but before a poor man opens his mind in ſuch circumſtances, he ſhould firſt conſider whether he is contented to loſe the eſteem of the perſon he ſolicits, and whether he is willing to give up friendſhip to excite compaſſion. Pity and friendſhip are paſſions incompatible with each other; and it is impoſſible that both can reſide in any breaſt, for the ſmalleſt ſpace, without impairing each other. Friendſhip is made up of eſteem and pleaſure; pity is compoſed of ſorrow and contempt; the mind may, for ſome time, fluctuate between them, but it can never entertain both at once.
In fact, pity, though it may often relieve, is but, at beſt, a ſhort-lived paſſion, and ſeldom affords diſtreſs more than tranſitory aſſiſtance: with ſome, it ſcarce laſts from the firſt impulſe till the hand can be put into the pocket; with others, it may continue for twice that ſpace; and on ſome of extraordinary ſenſibility, I have ſeen it operate for half an hour together: but ſtill, laſt as it may, it generally produces but beggarly effects; and where, from this motive, we give five farthings, from others, we give pounds: whatever be our feelings from the firſt impulſe of diſtreſs, when the ſame diſtreſs ſolicits a ſecond time, we then feel with diminiſhed ſenſibility; and like the repetition of an echo, every ſtroke becomes [Page 32] weaker; till at laſt, our ſenſations loſe all mixture of ſorrow, and degenerate into downright contempt.
Theſe ſpeculations bring to my mind the fate of a very good-natured fellow, who is now no more. He was bred in a counting-houſe, and his father dying juſt as he was out of his time, left him an handſome fortune, and many friends to adviſe with. The reſtraint in which my friend had been brought up, had thrown a gloom upon his temper, which ſome regarded as prudence; and, from ſuch conſiderations, he had every day repeated offers of friendſhip. Such as had money, were ready to offer him their aſſiſtance that way; and they who had daughters, frequently, in the warmth of affection, adviſed him to marry. My friend, however, was in good circumſtances; he wanted neither money, friends, nor a wife; and therefore modeſtly declined their propoſals.
Some errors, however, in the management of his affairs, and ſeveral loſſes in trade, ſoon brought him to a different way of thinking; and he at laſt conſidered, that it was his beſt way to let his friends know that their offers were at length acceptable. His firſt addreſs was to a ſcrivener, who had formerly made him frequent offers of money and friendſhip, at a time when, perhaps, he knew thoſe offers would have been refuſed. As a man, therefore, confident of not being refuſed, he requeſted the uſe of an hundred guineas for a few days, as he juſt then had occaſion for money. ‘"And pray, Sir,"’ replied the ſcrivener, ‘"do you want all this money?"’ ‘"Want it, Sir?"’ ſays the other, ‘"if I did not want it I ſhould not have aſked it."’ ‘"I am ſorry for that,"’ ſays the friend, ‘"for thoſe who want money when they borrow, will always want money when they ſhould come to pay. To ſay the truth, Sir, money is money now; and I believe it is all ſunk in the bottom of the ſea, for my part; he that has got a little is a fool if he does not keep what he has got."’
[Page 33] Not quite diſconcerted by this refuſal, our adventurer was reſolved to apply to another, whom he knew was the very beſt friend he had in the world. The gentleman whom he now addreſſed, received his propoſal with all the affability that could be expected from generous friendſhip. ‘"Let me ſee, you want an hundred guineas; and pray, dear Jack, would not fifty anſwer?"’ ‘"If you have but fifty to ſpare, Sir, I muſt be contented."’ ‘"Fifty to ſpare; I do not ſay that, for I believe I have but twenty about me."’ ‘"Then I muſt borrow the other thirty from ſome other friend."’ ‘"And pray,"’ replied the friend, ‘"would it not be the beſt way to borrow the whole money from that other friend, and then one note will ſerve for all, you know? You know, my dear Sir, that you need make no ceremony with me at any time; you know I'm your friend; and when you chuſe a bit of dinner, or ſo—You, Tom, ſee the gentleman down. You won't forget to dine with us now and then. Your very humble ſervant."’
Diſtreſſed, but not diſcouraged, at this treatment, he was at laſt reſolved to find that aſſiſtance from love, which he could not have from friendſhip. A young lady, a diſtant relation by the mother's ſide, had a fortune in her own hands; and, as ſhe had already made all the advances that her ſex's modeſty would permit, he made his propoſal with confidence. He ſoon, however, perceived, That no bankrupt ever found the fair one kind. She had lately fallen deeply in love with another, who had more money, and the whole neighbourhood thought it would be a match.
Every day now began to ſtrip my poor friend of his former finery; his cloaths flew, piece by piece, to the pawnbroker's, and he ſeemed at length equipped in the genuine livery of misfortune. But ſtill he thought himſelf ſecure from actual neceſſity; the numberleſs invitations he had received to dine, even after his loſſes, were yet unanſwered; he was therefore now reſolved to accept of a dinner, becauſe he wanted [Page 34] one; and in this manner he actually lived among his friends a whole week without being openly affronted. The laſt place I ſaw him in was at a reverend divine's. He had, as he fancied, juſt nicked the time of dinner, for he came in as the cloth was laying. He took a chair without being deſired, and talked for ſome time without being attended to. He aſſured the company, that nothing procured ſo good an appetite as a walk in the Park, where he had been that morning. He went on, and praiſed the figure of the damaſk tablecloth; talked of a feaſt where he had been the day before, but that the veniſon was over-done. But all this procured him no invitation: finding therefore the gentleman of the houſe inſenſible to all his fetches, he thought proper, at laſt, to retire, and mend his appetite by a ſecond walk in the Park.
You then, O ye beggars of my acquaintance, whether in rags or lace; whether in Kent-ſtreet or the Mall; whether at the Smyrna or St Giles's, might I be permitted to adviſe as a friend, never ſeem to want the favour which you ſolicit. Apply to every paſſion but human pity for redreſs: you may find permanent relief from vanity, from ſelf-intereſt, or from avarice, but from compaſſion never. The very eloquence of a poor man is diſguſting; and that mouth which is opened even by wiſdom, is ſeldom expected to cloſe without the horrors of a petition.
To ward off the gripe of poverty, you muſt pretend to be a ſtranger to her, and ſhe will at leaſt uſe you with ceremony. If you be caught dining upon a halfpenny porrenger of peaſeſoup and potatoes, praiſe the wholeſomneſs of your frugal repaſt. You may obſerve, that Dr Cheyne has preſcribed peaſe-broth for the gravel; hint that you are not one of thoſe who are always making a deity of your belly. If, again, you are obliged to wear a flimſy ſtuff in the midſt of winter, be the firſt to remark, that ſtuffs are very much worn at Paris; or, if there be found ſome irreparable defects in any part of [Page 35] your equipage, which cannot be concealed by all the arts of ſitting croſs-legged, coaxing, or derning, ſay, that neither you nor Sampſon Gideon were ever very fond of dreſs. If you be a philoſopher, hint that Plato or Seneca are the taylors you chooſe to employ; aſſure the company that man ought to be content with a bare covering, ſince what now is ſo much his pride, was formerly his ſhame. In ſhort, however caught, never give out; but aſcribe to the frugality of your diſpoſition what others might be apt to attribute to the narrowneſs of your circumſtances. To be poor, and to ſeem poor, is a certain method never to riſe: pride in the great is hateful: in the wiſe it is ridiculous; but beggarly pride is a rational vanity, which I have been taught to applaud and excuſe.
LYSIPPUS is a man whoſe greatneſs of ſoul the whole world admires. His generoſity is ſuch, that it prevents a demand, and ſaves the receiver the trouble and the confuſion of a requeſt. His liberality alſo does not oblige more by its greatneſs than by his inimitable grace in giving. Sometimes he even diſtributes his bounties to ſtrangers, and has been known to do good offices to thoſe who profeſſed themſelves his enemies. All the world are unanimous in the praiſe of his generoſity; there is only one ſort of people who complain of his conduct. Lyſippus does not pay his debts.
It is no difficult matter to account for a conduct ſo ſeemingly in ompatible with itſelf. There is greatneſs in being generous, and there is only ſimple juſtice in his ſatisfying creditors. Generoſity is the part of a ſoul raiſed above the vulgar. There is in it ſomething of what we admire in heroes, [Page 36] and praiſe with a degree of rapture. Juſtice, on the contrary, is a mere mechanic virtue, only fit for tradeſmen, and what is practiſed by every broker in Change-alley.
In paying his debts a man barely does his duty, and it is an action attended with no ſort of glory. Should Lyſippus ſatisfy his creditors, who would be at the pains of telling it to the world? Generoſity is a virtue of a very different complexion. It is raiſed above duty; and, from its elevation, attracts the attention and the praiſes of us little mortals below.
In this manner do men generally reaſon upon juſtice and generoſity. The firſt is deſpiſed, though a virtue eſſential to the good of ſociety, and the other attracts our eſteem, which too frequently proceeds from an impetuoſity of temper, rather directed by vanity than reaſon. Lyſippus is told that his banker aſks a debt of forty pounds, and that a diſtreſſed acquaintance petitions for the ſame ſum. He gives it without heſitating to the latter; for he demands as a favour what the former requires as a debt.
Mankind in general are not ſufficiently acquainted with the import of the word juſtice: it is commonly believed to conſiſt only in a performance of thoſe duties to which the laws of ſociety can oblige us. This, I allow, is ſometimes the import of the word; and in this ſenſe juſtice is diſtinguiſhed from equity; but there is a juſtice ſtill more extenſive, and which can be ſhewn to embrace all the virtues united.
Juſtice may be defined, that virtue which impels us to give to every perſon what is his due. In this extended ſenſe of the word, it comprehends the practice of every virtue which reaſon preſcribes, or ſociety ſhould expect. Our duty to our Maker, to each other, and to ourſelves, are fully anſwered, if we give them what we owe them. Thus juſtice, properly ſpeaking, is the only virtue: and all the reſt have their origin in it.
The qualities of candour, fortitude, charity, and generoſiy, for inſtance, are not in their own nature virtues; and, if [Page 37] ever they deſerve the title, it is owing only to juſtice, which impels and directs them. Without ſuch a moderator, candor might become indiſcretion; fortitude, obſtinacy; charity, imprudence; and generoſity, miſtaken profuſion.
A diſintereſted action, if it be not conducted by juſtice, is, at beſt, indifferent in its nature, and not unfrequently even turns to vice. The expences of ſociety, of preſents, of entertainments, and the other helps to chearfulneſs, are actions merely indifferent, when not repugnant to a better method of diſpoſing of our ſuperfluities; but they become vicious when they obſtruct or exhauſt our abilities from a more virtuous diſpoſition of our circumſtances.
True generoſity is a duty as indiſpenſibly neceſſary as thoſe impoſed upon us by law. It is a rule impoſed upon us by reaſon, which ſhould be the ſovereign law of a rational being. But this generoſity does not conſiſt in obeying every impulſe of humanity, in following blind paſſion for our guide, and impairing our circumſtances by preſent benefactions, ſo as to render us incapable of future ones.
Miſers are generally characterized as men without honour, or without humanity, who live only to accumulate, and to this paſſion ſacrifice every other happineſs. They have been deſcribed as madmen, who, in the midſt of abundance, baniſh every pleaſure, and make, from imaginary wants, real neceſſities. But few, very few, correſpond to this exaggerated picture; and perhaps, there is not one in whom all theſe circumſtances are found united. Inſtead of this, we find the ſober and the induſtrious branded by the vain and the idle with this odious appellation. Men who, by frugality and labour, raiſe themſelves above their equals, and contribute their ſhare of induſtry to the common ſtock.
Whatever the vain or the ignorant may ſay, well were it for ſociety, had we more of theſe characters amongſt us. In general, thoſe cloſe men are found at laſt the true benefactors of ſociety. With an avaricious man we ſeldom loſe [Page 38] in our dealings, but too frequently in our commerce with prodigality.
A French prieſt, whoſe name was Godinot, went for a long time by the name of the Griper. He refuſed to relieve the moſt apparent wretchedneſs, and, by a ſkilful management of his vineyard, had the good fortune to acquire immenſe ſums of money. The inhabitants of Rheims, who were his fellow-citzens, deteſted him; and the populace, who ſeldom love a miſer, wherever he went, followed him with ſhouts of contempt. He ſtill, however, continued his former ſimplicity of life, his amazing and unremitted frugality. He had long perceived the wants of the poor in the city, particularly in having no water but what they were obliged to buy at an advanced price; wherefore, that whole fortune which he had been amaſſing, he laid out in an aqueduct; by which, he did the poor more uſeful and laſting ſervice, than if he had diſtributed his whole income in charity every day at his door.
Among men long converſant with books, we too frequently find thoſe miſplaced virtues, of which I have been now complaining. We find the ſtudious animated with a ſtrong paſſion for the great virtues, as they are miſtakenly called, and utterly forgetful of the ordinary ones. The declamations of philoſophy are generally rather exhauſted on thoſe ſupererogatory duties, than on ſuch as are indiſpenſably neceſſary. A man, therefore, who has taken his ideas of mankind from ſtudy alone, generally comes into the world with an heart melting at fictitious diſtreſs. Thus he is induced, by miſplaced liberality, to put himſelf into the indigent circumſtances of the perſon he relieves.
I ſhall conclude this paper with the advice of one of the ancients to a young man whom he ſaw giving away all his ſubſtance to pretended diſtreſs. ‘"It is poſſible that the perſon you relieve may be an honeſt man; and I know that you, who relieve him, are ſuch. You ſee then, by your [Page 39] generoſity, that you rob a man, who is certainly deſerving, to beſtow it on one who may poſſibly be a rogue: and, while you are unjuſt in rewarding uncertain merit, you are doubly guilty by ſtripping yourſelf."’
As few ſubjects are more intereſting to ſociety, ſo few have been more frequently written upon, than the education of youth. Yet it is a little ſurpriſing, that it has been treated almoſt by all in a declamatory manner. They have inſiſted largely on the advantages that reſult from it, both to individuals and to ſociety; and have expatiated in the praiſe of what none have ever been ſo hardy as to call in queſtion.
Inſtead of giving us fine but empty harangues upon this ſubject; inſtead of indulging each his particular and whimſical ſyſtems it had been much better if the writers on this ſubject had treated it in a more ſcientific manner, repreſſed all the ſallies of imagination, and given us the reſult of their obſervations with didactic ſimplicity. Upon this ſubject, the ſmalleſt errors are of the moſt dangerous conſequence; and the author ſhould venture the imputation of ſtupidity upon a topic, where his ſlighteſt deviations may tend to injure the riſing generation. However, ſuch are the whimſical and erroneous productions written upon this ſubject. Their authors have ſtudied to be uncommon, not to be juſt; and, at preſent, we want a treatiſe upon education, not to tell us any [Page 40] thing new, but to explode the errors which have been introduced by the admirers of novelty. It is in this manner books become numerous; a deſire of novelty produces a book, and other books are required to deſtroy the former.
The manner in which our youth of London are at preſent educated, is, ſome in free-ſchools in the city, but the far greater number in boarding ſchools about town. The parent juſtly conſults the health of his child, and finds an education in the country tends to promote this, much more than a continuance in town. Thus far he is right; if there were a poſſibility of having even our free-ſchools kept a little out of town, it would certainly conduce to the health and vigour of, perhaps, the mind as well as the body. It may be thought whimſical, but it is truth; I have found, by experience, that they, who have ſpent all their lives in cities, contract, not only an effeminacy of habit, but even of thinking.
But when I have ſaid that the boarding-ſchools are preferable to free-ſchools, as being in the country, this is certainly the only advantage I can allow them: otherwiſe it is impoſſible to conceive the ignorance of thoſe who take upon them the important truſt of education. Is any man unfit for any of the profeſſions? he finds his laſt reſource in ſetting up a ſchool. Do any become bankrupts in trade? they ſtill ſet up a boarding-ſchool, and drive a trade this way, when all others fail: nay, I have been told of butchers and barbers, who have turned ſchool-maſters; and, more ſurprizing ſtill, made fortunes in their new profeſſion.
Could we think ourſelves in a country of civilized people; could it be conceived that we have any regard for poſterity, when ſuch are permitted to take the charge of the morals, [Page 41] genius, and health of thoſe dear little pledges, who may one day be the guardians of the liberties of Europe; and who may ſerve as the honour and bulwark of their aged parents? The care of our children, is it below the ſtate? Is it fit to indulge the caprice of the ignorant with the diſpoſal of their children in this particular? For the ſtate to take the charge of all its children, as in Perſia or Sparta, might at preſent be inconvenient; but ſurely, with great eaſe, it might caſt an eye to their inſtructors. Of all profeſſions in ſociety, I do not know a more uſeful, or a more honourable one, than a ſchool-maſter; at the ſame time that I do not ſee any more generally deſpiſed, or whoſe talents are ſo ill rewarded.
Were the ſalaries of ſchool-maſters to be augmented from a diminution of uſeleſs ſinecures, how might it turn to the advantage of this people! a people whom, without flattery, I may, in other reſpects, term the wiſeſt and greateſt upon earth. But while I would reward the deſerving, I would diſmiſs thoſe utterly unqualified for their employment: in ſhort, I would make the buſineſs of a ſchool-maſter every way more reſpectable, by increaſing their ſalaries, and admitting only men of proper abilities.
It is true, we have already ſchool-maſters appointed, and they have ſome ſmall ſalaries; but where at preſent there is only one ſchool-maſter appointed, there ſhould at leaſt be two; and wherever the ſalary is at preſent twenty pounds, it ſhould be an hundred. Do we give immoderate benefices to thoſe who inſtruct ourſelves, and ſhall we deny even ſubſiſtence to thoſe who inſtruct our children? Every member of ſociety ſhould be paid in proportion as he is neceſſary; and I will be bold enough to ſay, that ſchool-maſters in a ſtate, are more neceſſary than clergymen, as children ſtand in more need of inſtruction than their parents.
But inſtead of this, as I have already obſerved, we ſend them to board in the country to the moſt ignorant ſet of men that can be imagined. But, leſt the ignorance of the maſter [Page 42] be not ſufficient, the child is generally conſigned to the uſher. This is commonly ſome poor needy animal, little ſuperior to a footman either in learning or ſpirit, invited to his place by an advertiſement, and kept there merely from his being of a complying diſpoſition, and making the children fond of him. ‘"You give your child to be educated to a ſlave,"’ ſays a philoſopher to a rich man; ‘"inſtead of one ſlave, you will then have two."’
It were well, however, if parents, upon fixing their children in one of theſe houſes, would examine the abilities of the uſher, as well as the maſter; for, whatever they are told to the contrary, the uſher is generally the perſon moſt employed in their education. If then, a gentleman, upon putting out his ſon to one of theſe houſes, ſees the uſher diſregarded by the maſter, he may depend upon it, that he is equally diſregarded by the boys: the truth is, in ſpite of all their endeavours to pleaſe, they are generally the laughing-ſtock of the ſchool. Every trick is played upon the uſher; the oddity of his manners, his dreſs, or his language, are a fund of eternal ridicule; the maſter himſelf, now and then, cannot avoid joining in the laugh; and the poor wretch, eternally reſenting this ill uſage, ſeems to live in a ſtate of war with all the family. This is a very proper perſon, is it not, to give children a reliſh for learning? They muſt eſteem learning very much, when they ſee its profeſſors uſed with ſuch little ceremony. If the uſher be deſpiſed, the father may be aſſured his child will never be properly inſtructed.
But let me ſuppoſe, that there are ſome ſchools without theſe inconveniences, where the maſters and uſhers are men of learning, reputation, and aſſiduity. If there are to be found ſuch, they cannot be prized in a ſtate ſufficiently. A boy will learn more true wiſdom in a public ſchool in a year, than by a private education in five. It is not from maſters, but from their equals, youth learn a knowledge of the world; the little tricks they play each other, the puniſhment that frequently [Page 43] attends the commiſſion, is a juſt picture of the great world; and all the ways of men are practiſed in a public ſchool in miniature. It is true, a child is early made acquainted with ſome vices in a ſchool; but it is better to know theſe when a boy, than be firſt taught them when a man; for their novelty then may have irreſiſtible charms.
In a public education, boys early learn temperance; and if the parents and friends would give them leſs money upon their uſual viſits, it would be much to their advantage; ſince it may juſtly be ſaid, that a great part of their diſorders ariſe from ſurfeit, Plus occidit gula quam gladius. And now I am come to the article of health, it may not be amiſs to obſerve, that Mr. Locke, and ſome others, have adviſed that children ſhould be inured to cold, to fatigue, and hardſhip, from their youth; but Mr. Locke was but an indifferent phyſician. Habit, I grant, has great influence over our conſtitutions, but we have not preciſe ideas upon this ſubject.
We know, that among ſavages, and even among our peaſants, there are found children born with ſuch conſtitutions, that they croſs rivers by ſwimming, endure cold, thirſt, hunger, and want of ſleep, to a ſurpriſing degree; that, when they happen to fall ſick, they are cured without the help of medicine, by nature alone. Such examples are adduced to perſuade us to imitate their manner of education, and accuſtom ourſelves betimes to ſupport the ſame fatigues. But had theſe gentlemen conſidered firſt, how many lives are loſt in this aſcetic practice; had they conſidered, that thoſe ſavages and peaſants are generally not ſo long lived as they who have led a more indolent life; that the more laborious the life is, the leſs populous is the country: had they conſidered, that what phyſicians call the Stamina Vitae, by fatigue and labour become rigid, and thus anticipate old age: that the number who ſurvive thoſe rude trials, bears no proportion to thoſe who die in the experiment. Had theſe things been properly conſidered, they would not have thus extolled an education begun in [Page 44] fatigue and hardſhips. Peter the Great, willing to enure the children of his ſeamen to a life of hardſhip, ordered that they ſhould only drink ſea-water, but they unfortunately all died under the trial.
But while I would exclude all unneceſſary labours, yet ſtill I would recommend temperance in the higheſt degree. No luxurious diſhes with high ſeaſoning, nothing given children to force an appetite, as little ſugared or ſalted proviſions as poſſible, though ever ſo pleaſing; but milk, morning and night, ſhould be their conſtant food. This diet would make them more healthy than any of thoſe ſlops that are uſually cooked by the miſtreſs of a boarding-ſchool; beſides, it corrects any conſumptive habits, not unfrequently found amongſt the children of city parents.
As boys ſhould be educated with temperance, ſo the firſt greateſt leſſon that ſhould be taught them is, to admire frugality. It is by the exerciſe of this virtue alone, they can ever expect to be uſeful members of ſociety. It is true, lectures continually repeated upon this ſubject, may make ſome boys, when they grow up, run into an extreme, and become miſers; but it were well, had we more miſers than we have among us. I know few characters more uſeful in ſociety; for a man's having a larger or ſmaller ſhare of money lying uſeleſs by him, no way injures the commonwealth; ſince, ſhould every miſer now exhauſt his ſtores, this might make gold more plenty, but it would not increaſe the commodities or pleaſures of life; they would ſtill remain as they are at preſent: it matters not, therefore, whether men are miſers or not, if they be only frugal, laborious, and fill the ſtation they have choſen. If they deny themſelves the neceſſaries of life, ſociety is no way injured by their folly.
Inſtead, therefore, of romances, which praiſe young men of ſpirit, who go through a variety of adventures, and at laſt conclude a life of diſſipation, folly, and extravagance, in riches and matrimony, there ſhould be ſome men of wit employed to [Page 45] compoſe books that might equally intereſt the paſſions of our youth, where ſuch an one might be praiſed for having reſiſted allurements when young, and how he, at laſt, became lordmayor; how he was married to a lady of great ſenſe, fortune, and beauty: to be as explicit as poſſible, the old ſtory of Whittington, were his cat left out, might be more ſerviceable to the tender mind, than either Tom Jones, Joſeph Andrews, or an hundred others, where frugality is the only good quality the heroe is not poſſeſſed of. Were our ſchool-maſters, if any of them have ſenſe enough to draw up ſuch a work, thus employed, it would be much more ſerviceable to their pupils, than all the grammars and dictionaries they may publiſh theſe ten years.
Children ſhould early be inſtructed in the arts from which they may afterwards draw the greateſt advantages. When the wonders of nature are never expoſed to our view, we have no great deſire to become acquainted with thoſe parts of learning which pretend to account for the phaenomena. One of the ancients complains, that as ſoon as young men have left ſchool, and are obliged to converſe in the world, they fancy themſelves tranſported into a new region. ‘"Ut cum in forum venerint exiſtiment ſe in aliam terrarum orbem delatos."’ We ſhould early, therefore, inſtruct them in the experiments, if I may ſo expreſs it, of knowledge, and leave to maturer age the accounting for the cauſes. But, inſtead of that, when boys begin natural philoſophy in colleges, they have not the leaſt curioſity for thoſe parts of the ſcience which are propoſed for their inſtruction; they have never before ſeen the phaenomena, and conſequently have no curioſity to learn the reaſons. Might natural philoſophy, therefore, be made their paſtime in ſchool, by this means it would in college become their amuſement.
In ſeveral of the machines now in uſe, there would be ample field both for inſtruction and amuſement; the different ſorts of the phoſphorus, the artificial pyrites, magnetiſm, [Page 46] electricity, the experiments upon the rarefaction and weight of the air, and thoſe upon elaſtic bodies, might employ their idle hours, and none ſhould be called from play to ſee ſuch experiments but ſuch as thought proper. At firſt then it would be ſufficient if the inſtruments, and the effects of their combination, were only ſhewn; the cauſes ſhould be defferred to a maturer age, or to thoſe times when natural curioſity prompts us to diſcover the wonders of nature. Man is placed in this world as a ſpectator; when he is tired of wondering at all the novelties about him, and not till then, does he deſire to be made acquainted with the cauſes that create thoſe wonders.
What I have obſerved with regard to natural philoſophy, I would extend to every other ſcience whatſoever. We ſhould teach them as many of the facts as were poſſible, and defer the cauſes until they ſeemed of themſelves deſirous of knowing them. A mind thus leaving ſchool, ſtored with all the ſimple experiences of ſcience, would be the fitteſt in the world for the college courſe; and, though ſuch a youth might not appear ſo bright, or ſo talkative, as thoſe who had learned the real principles and cauſes of ſome of the ſciences, yet he would make a wiſer man, and would retain a more laſting paſſion for letters, than he who was early burdened with the diſagreeable inſtitution of effect and cauſe.
In hiſtory, ſuch ſtories alone ſhould be laid before them as might catch the imagination: inſtead of this, they are too frequently obliged to toil through the four empires, as they are called, where their memories are burdened by a number of diſguſting names, that deſtroy all their future reliſh for our beſt hiſtorians, who may be termed the trueſt teachers of wiſdom.
Every ſpecies of flattery ſhould be carefully avoided; a boy who happens to ſay a ſprightly thing is generally applauded ſo much, that he ſometimes continues a coxcomb all his life after. He is reputed a wit at fourteen, and becomes a blockhead at twenty. Nurſes, footmen, and ſuch, ſhould [Page 47] therefore be driven away as much as poſſible. I was even going to add, that the mother herſelf ſhould ſtifle her pleaſure, or her vanity, when little maſter happens to ſay a good or a ſmart thing. Thoſe modeſt lubberly boys, who ſeem to want ſpirit, generally go through their buſineſs with more eaſe to themſelves, and more ſatisfaction to their inſtructors.
There has of late a gentleman appeared, who thinks the ſtudy of rhetoric eſſential to a perfect education. That bold male eloquence, which often, without pleaſing, convinces, is generally deſtroyed by ſuch inſtitutions. Convincing eloquence is infinitely more ſerviceable to its poſſeſſor than the moſt florid harangue or the moſt pathetic tones that can be imagined; and the man who is thoroughly convinced himſelf, who underſtands his ſubject, and the language he ſpeaks in, will be more apt to ſilence oppoſition, than he who ſtudies the force of his periods, and fills our ears with ſounds, while our minds are deſtitute of conviction.
It was reckoned the fault of the orators at the decline of the Roman empire, when they had been long inſtructed by rhetoricians, that their periods were ſo harmonious, as that they could be ſung as well as ſpoken. What a ridiculous figure muſt one of theſe gentlemen cut, thus meaſuring ſyllables, and weighing words, when he ſhould plead the cauſe of his client! Two architects were once candidates for the building a certain temple at Athens; the firſt harangued the croud very learnedly upon the different orders of architecture, and ſhewed them in what manner the temple ſhould be built; the other, who got up after him, only obſerved, that what his brother had ſpoken he could do; and thus he at once gained his cauſe.
[Page 48] Another paſſion which the preſent age is apt to run into, is to make children learn all things; the languages, the ſciences, muſic, the exerciſes, and painting. Thus the child ſoon becomes a Talker in all, but a Maſter in none. He thus acquires a ſuperficial fondneſs for every thing, and only ſhews his ignorance when he attempts to exhibit his ſkill.
As I deliver my thoughts without method or connection, ſo the reader muſt not be ſurprized to find me once more addreſſing ſchool-maſters on the preſent method of teaching the learned languages, which is commonly by literal tranſlations. I would aſk ſuch, if they were to travel a journey, whether thoſe parts of the road in which they found the greateſt difficulties would not be longeſt remembered? Boys who, if I may continue the alluſion, gallop through one of the ancients with the aſſiſtance of a tranſlation, can have but a very ſlight acquaintance either with the author or his language. It is by the exerciſe of the mind alone that a language is learned; but a literal tranſlation, on the oppoſite page, leaves no exerciſe for the memory at all. The boy will not be at the fatigue of remembering, when his doubts are at once ſatisfied by a glance of the eye; whereas, were every word to be ſought from a dictionary, the learner would attempt to remember them, to ſave himſelf the trouble of looking out for it for the future.
To continue in the ſame pedantic ſtrain, of all the various grammars now taught in the ſchools about town, I would recommend only the old common one; I have forgot whether Lilly's, or an emendation of him. The others may be improvements; but ſuch improvements ſeem, to me, only mere grammatical niceties, no way influencing the learner, but perhaps loading him with trifling ſubtilties, which, at a proper age, he muſt be at ſome pains to forget.
Whatever pains a maſter may take to make the learning of the languages agreeable to his pupil, he may depend upon it, [Page 49] it, it will be at firſt extremely unpleaſant. The rudiments of every language, therefore, muſt be given as a taſk, not as an amuſement. Attempting to deceive children into inſtruction of this kind, is only deceiving ourſelves; and I know no paſſion capable of conquering a child's natural lazineſs, but fear. Solomon has ſaid it before me; nor is there any more certain, though perhaps more diſagreeable truth, than the proverb in verſe, too well known to repeat on the preſent occaſion. It is very probable that parents are told of ſome maſters who never uſe the rod, and conſequently are thought the propereſt inſtructors for their children; but, though tenderneſs is a requiſite quality in an inſtructor, yet there is too often the trueſt tenderneſs in well-timed correction.
Some have juſtly obſerved, that all paſſion ſhould be baniſhed on this terrible occaſion; but I know not how, there is a frailty attending human nature, that few maſters can keep their temper while they correct. I knew a good-natured man, who was ſenſible of his own weakneſs in this reſpect, and conſequently had recourſe to the following expedient to prevent his paſſions from being engaged, yet at the ſame time adminiſter juſtice with impartiality. Whenever any of his pupils committed a fault, he ſummoned a jury of his peers, I mean of the boys of his own or the next claſſes to him: his accuſers ſtood forth; he had liberty of pleading in his own defence, and one or two more had the liberty of pleading againſt him: when found guilty by the pannel, he was conſigned to the footman, who attended in the houſe, and had previous orders to puniſh, but with lenity. By this means the maſter took off the odium of puniſhment from himſelf; and the footman, between whom and the boys there could not be even the ſligheſt intimacy, was placed in ſuch a light as to be ſhunned by every boy in the ſchool.
AN alehouſe-keeper, near Iſlington, who had long lived at the ſign of the French King, upon the commencement of the laſt war with France, pulled down his old ſign, and put up that of the queen of Hungary. Under the influence of her red face and golden ſceptre, he continued to ſell ale, till ſhe was no longer the favourite of his cuſtomers; he changed her, therefore, ſome time ago, for the king of Pruſſia, who may probably be changed, in turn, for the next great man that ſhall be ſet up for vulgar admiration.
Our publican, in this, imitates the great exactly, who deal out their figures, one after the other, to the gazing croud. When we have ſufficiently wondered at one, that is taken in, and another exhibited in its room, which ſeldom holds its ſtation long; for the mob are ever pleaſed with variety.
I muſt own I have ſuch an indifferent opinion of the vulgar, that I am ever led to ſuſpect that merit which raiſes their ſhout; at leaſt I am certain to find thoſe great, and ſometimes good men, who find ſatisfaction in ſuch acclamations, made worſe by it; and hiſtory has too frequently taught me, that the head which has this day grown giddy with the roar of the million, has the very next been fixed upon a pole.
As Alexander VI. was entering a little town in the neighbourhood of Rome, which had been juſt evacuated by the enemy, he perceived the townſmen buſy in the market-place in pulling down from a gibbet a figure which had been deſigned to repreſent himſelf. There were ſome alſo knocking down a neighbouring ſtatue of one of the Orſini family, with whom he was at war, in order to put Alexander's effigy in [Page 51] its place. It is poſſible that a man who knew leſs of the world, would have condemned the adulation of thoſe barefaced flatterers; but Alexander ſeemed pleaſed at their zeal, and turning to Borgia, his ſon, ſaid with a ſmile, Vides, mi fili, quam leve diſcrim [...] palibulum inter et ſtatuum. ‘"You ſee, my ſon, the ſmall difference between a gibbet and a ſtatue."’ If the great could be taught any leſſon, this might ſerve to teach them upon how weak a foundation their glory ſtands, which is built upon popular applauſe; for, as ſuch praiſe what ſeems like merit, they as quickly condemn what has only the appearance of guilt.
Popular glory is a perfect coquette; her lovers muſt toil, feel every inquietude, indulge every caprice; and, perhaps, at laſt, be jilted into the bargain. True glory, on the other hand, reſembles a woman of ſenſe; her admirers muſt play no trick; they feel no great anxiety, for they are ſure, in the end, of being rewarded in proportion to their merit. When Swift uſed to appear in public, he generally had the mob ſhouting in his train. ‘"Pox take theſe fools,"’ he would ſay, ‘"how much joy might all this bawling give my lord-mayor."’
We have ſeen thoſe virtues which have, while living, retired from the public eye, generally tranſmitted to poſterity, as the trueſt objects of admiration and praiſe. Perhaps the character of the late Duke of Marlborough may one day be ſet up, even above that of his more talked of predeceſſor; ſince an aſſemblage of all the mild and amiable virtues are far ſuperior to thoſe vulgarly called the great ones. I muſt be pardoned for this ſhort tribute to the memory of a man, who, while living, would as much deteſt to receive any thing that wore the appearance of flattery, as I ſhould to offer it.
I know not how to turn ſo trite a ſubject out of the beaten road of common-place, except by illuſtrating it, rather by the aſſiſtance of my memory than judgment; and inſtead of making reflections, by telling a ſtory.
[Page 52] A Chineſe, who had long ſtudied the works of Confucius, who knew the characters of fourteen thouſand words, and could read a great part of every book that came in his way, once took it into his head to travel into Europe, and obſerve the cuſtoms of a people whom he thought not very much inferior, even to his own countrymen, in the arts of refining upon every pleaſure. Upon his arrival at Amſterdam, his paſſion for letters naturally led him to a bookſeller's ſhop; and, as he could ſpeak a little Dutch, he civilly aſked the bookſeller for the works of the immortal Xixofou. The bookſeller aſſured him he had never heard the book mentioned before. ‘"What, have you never heard of that immortal poet?"’ returned the other much ſurpriſed, ‘"that light of the eyes, that favourite of kings, that roſe of perfection! I ſuppoſe you know nothing of the immortal Fipſihihi, ſecond couſin to the moon?"’ ‘"Nothing at all, indeed, Sir,"’ returned the other. ‘"Alas!"’ cries our traveller, ‘"to what purpoſe, then, has one of theſe faſted to death, and the other offered himſelf up as a ſacrifice to the Tartar enemy, to gain a renown which has never travelled beyond the precincts of China!"’
There is ſcarce a village in Europe, and not one univerſity, that is not thus furniſhed with its little great men. The head of a petty corporation, who oppoſes the deſigns of a priince, who would tyrannically force his ſubjects to ſave their beſt cloaths for Sunday; the puny pedant, who finds one undiſcovered property in the polype, or deſcribes an unheeded proceſs in the ſkeleton of a mole, and whoſe mind, like his microſcope, perceives nature only in detail; the rhymer, who makes ſmooth verſes, and paints to our imagination, when he ſhould only ſpeak to our hearts; all equally fancy themſelves walking forward to imortality, and deſire the croud behind them to look on. The croud takes them at their word. Patriot, philoſopher, and poet, are ſhouted in their turn. ‘"Where was there ever ſo much merit [Page 53] ſeen? no times ſo important as our own; ages, yet unborn, ſhall gaze with wonder and applauſe!"’ To ſuch muſic, the important pigmy moves forward, buſtling and ſwelling, and aptly compared to a puddle in a ſtorm.
I have lived to ſee generals who once had crouds hallowing after them wherever they went, who were bepraiſed by newspapers and magazines, thoſe echoes of the voice of the vulgar, and yet they have long ſunk into merited obſcurity, with ſcarce even an epitaph left to flatter. A few years ago the herring-fiſhery employed all Grub-ſtreet; it was the topic in every coffee-houſe, and the burden of every ballad. We were to drag up oceans of gold from the bottom of the ſea; we were to ſupply all Europe with herrings upon our own terms. At preſent, we hear no more of all this. We have fiſhed up very little gold that I can learn; nor do we furniſh the world with herrings, as was expected. Let us wait but a few years longer, and we ſhall find all our expectations an herring-fiſhery.
WE eſſayiſts, who are allowed but one ſubject at a time, are by no means ſo fortunate as the writers of magazines, who write upon ſeveral. If a magaziner be dull upon the Spaniſh war, he ſoon has us up again with the ghoſt in Cock-lane; if the reader begins to doze upon that, he is quickly rouſed by an eaſtern tale; tales prepare us for poetry, and poetry for the meteorological hiſtory of the weather. It is the life and ſoul of a magazine never to be long dull upon one ſubject; and the reader, like the ſailor's horſe, has at leaſt the comfortable refreſhment of having the ſpur often changed.
[Page 54] As I ſee no reaſon why they ſhould carry off all the rewards of genius, I have ſome thoughts, for the future, of making this eſſay a magazine in miniature: I ſhall hop from ſubject to ſubject, and, if properly encouraged, I intend in time to adorn my feuille volant with pictures. But to begin, in the uſual form, with
THE public has been ſo often impoſed upon by the unperforming promiſes of others, that it is with the utmoſt modeſty, we aſſure them of our inviolable deſign of giving the very beſt collection that ever aſtoniſhed ſociety. The public we honour and regard, and therefore to inſtruct and entertain them is our higheſt ambition, with labours calculated as well to the head as the heart. If four extraordinary pages of letter-preſs be any recommendation of our wit, we may at leaſt boaſt the honour of vindicating our own abilities. To ſay more in favour of the INFERNAL MAGAZINE, would be unworthy the public; to ſay leſs, would be injurious to ourſelves. As we have no intereſted motives for this undertaking, being a ſociety of gentlemen of diſtinction, we diſdain to eat or write like hirelings; we are all gentlemen reſolved to ſell our ſixpenny magazine merely for our own amuſement.
May it pleaſe your Excellency,
As your taſte in the fine arts is univerſally allowed and and admired, permit the authors of the Infernal Magazine to lay the following ſheets humbly at your excellency's toe; and, ſhould our labours ever have the happineſs of one day adorning [Page 55] the courts of Fez, we doubt not that the influence wherewith we are honoured, ſhall be ever retained with the moſt warm ardour, by,
May it pleaſe your excellency,
Your moſt devoted humble ſervants, The Authors of the Infernal Magazine.
1.11.4. A SPEECH
SPOKEN BY THE INDIGENT PHILOSOPHER, TO PERSUADE HIS CLUB AT CATEATON TO DECLARE WAR AGAINST SPAIN.
MY honeſt friends and brother politicians; I perceive that the intended war with Spain makes many of you uneaſy. Yeſterday as we were told, the ſtocks roſe, and you were glad; to day they fell, and you are again miſerable. But, my dear friends, what is the riſing or the falling of the ſtocks to us, who have no money? Let Nathan Ben Funk, the Dutch Jew, be glad or ſorry for this; but, my good Mr Bellows-mender, what is all this to you or me? You muſt mend broken bellows, and I write bad proſe, as long as we live, whether we like a Spaniſh war or not. Believe me, my honeſt friends, whatever you may talk of liberty and your own reaſon, both that liberty and reaſon are conditionally reſigned by every poor man in every ſociety; and, as we are born to work, ſo others are born to watch over us while we are working. In the name of common-ſenſe then, my good friends, let the great keep watch over us, and let us mind our buſineſs, and perhaps we may at laſt get money ourſelves, and ſet beggars at work in our turn. I have a Latin ſentence that is worth its weight in gold, and which I ſhall beg leave to tranſlate for your inſtruction, An author, called Lily's Grammar, finely obſerves, that ‘"Aes in praeſenti perfectum format;"’ that is, ‘"Ready-money makes a perfect man."’ [Page 56] Let us then get ready-money, and let them that will, ſpend theirs by going to war with Spain.
IF you be a rich man, you may enter the room with three loud hems, march deliberately up to the chimney, and turn your back to the fire. If you be a poor man, I would adviſe you to ſhrink into the room as faſt as you can, and place yourſelf, as uſual, upon the corner of a chair in a remote corner.
1.11.6. RULES FOR RAISING THE DEVIL.
TRANSLATED FROM THE LATIN OF DANAEUS DE SORTIARIIS, A WRITER COTEMPORARY WITH CALVIN, AND ONE OF THE REFORMERS OF OUR CHURCH.
THE perſon who deſires to raiſe the devil, is to ſacrifice a dog, a cat, and a hen, all of his own property, to Beelzebub. He is to ſwear an eternal obedience, and then to receive a mark in ſome unſeen place, either under the [...] lid or in the roof of the mouth, inflicted by the devil himſelf. Upon this he has power given him over three ſpirits; one for earth, another for air, and a third for the ſea. Upon [Page 57] certain times the devil holds an aſſembly of magicians, in which each is to give an account of what evil he has done, and what he wiſhes to do. At this aſſembly he appears in the ſhape of an old man, or often like a goat with large horns. They, upon this occaſion, renew their vows of obedience; and then form a grand dance in honour of their falſe deity. The devil inſtructs them in every method of injuring mankind, in gathering poiſons, and of riding upon occaſion through the air. He ſhews them the whole method, upon examination, of giving evaſive anſwers; his ſpirits have power to aſſume the form of angels of light, and there is but one method of detecting them; viz. to aſk them, in proper form, What method is the moſt certain to propagate the faith over all the world? To this they are not permitted by the Superior Power to make a falſe reply, nor are they willing to give the true one, wherefore they continue ſilent, and are thus detected.
THOUGH naturally penſive, yet I am fond of gay company, and take every opportunity of thus diſmiſſing the mind from duty. From this motive I am often found in the centre of a crowd; and wherever pleaſure is to be ſold, am always a purchaſer. In thoſe places, without being remarked by any, I join in whatever goes forward, work my paſſions into a ſimilitude of frivolous earneſtneſs, ſhout as they ſhout, and condemn as they happen to diſapprove. A mind thus ſunk for a while below its natural ſtandard, is qualified for ſtronger flights, as thoſe firſt retire who would ſpring forward with great vigour.
[Page 58] Attracted by the ſerenity of the evening, a friend and I lately went to gaze upon the company in one of the public walks near the city. Here we ſauntered together for ſome time, either praiſing the beauty of ſuch as were handſome, or the dreſſes of ſuch as had nothing elſe to recommend them. We had gone thus deliberately forward for ſome time, when my friend ſtopping on a ſudden, caught me by the elbow, and led me out of the public walk; I could perceive, by the quickneſs of his pace, and by his frequently looking behind, that he was attempting to avoid ſomebody who followed; we now turned to the right, then to the left; as we went forward, he ſtill went faſter, but in vain; the perſon whom he attempted to eſcape, hunted us through every doubling, and gained upon us each moment; ſo that, at laſt, we fairly ſtood ſtill, reſolving to face what we could not avoid.
Our purſuer ſoon came up, and joined us with all the familiarity of an old acquaintance. ‘"My dear Charles,"’ cries he, ſhaking my friend's hand, ‘"where have you been hiding this half century? Poſitively I had fancied you were gone down to cultivate matrimony, and your eſtate in the country."’ During the reply, I had an opportunity of ſurveying the appearance of our new companion. His hat was pinched up with peculiar ſmartneſs; his looks were pale, thin, and ſharp; round his neck he wore a broad black ribbon, and in his boſom a buckle ſtudded with glaſs; his coat was trimmed with tarniſhed twiſt; he wore by his ſide a ſword with a black hilt; and his ſtockings of ſilk, though newly waſhed, were grown yellow by long ſervice. I was ſo much engaged with the peculiarity of his dreſs, that I attended only to the latter part of my friend's reply; in which he complimented Mr Tibbs on the taſte of his cloaths, and the bloom in his countenance. ‘"Pſha, pſha, Charles,"’ cried the figure, ‘"no more of that if you love me; you know I hate flattery; on my ſoul I do; and yet to be ſure an intimacy with the great will improve one's appearance, and a [Page 59] courſe of veniſon will fatten; and yet faith I deſpiſe the great as much as you do; but there are a great many damn'd honeſt fellows among them; and we muſt not quarrel with one half, becauſe the other wants breeding. If they were all ſuch as my lord Mudler, one of the moſt good-natured creatures that ever ſqueezed a lemon, I ſhould myſelf be among the number of their admirers. I was yeſterday to dine at the dutcheſs of Piccadilly's. My lord was there.’ ‘'Ned,'’ ſays he to me, ‘'Ned’ ſays he, ‘'I'll hold gold to ſilver I can tell where you were poaching laſt night.'’ ‘"Poaching, my lord, ſays I; faith you have miſſed already; for I ſtaid at home, and let the girls poach for me. That's my way; I take a fine woman as ſome animals to their prey; ſtand ſtill, and ſwoop, they fall into my mouth."’
‘"Ah, Tibbs thou art an happy fellow,"’ cried my companion with looks of infinite pity, ‘"I hope your fortune is as much improved as your underſtanding in ſuch company."’ ‘"Improved?"’ replied the other, ‘you ſhall know,—but let it go no further,—a great ſecret—five hundred a year to begin with. My lord's word for it.—His lordſhip took me down in his own chariot yeſterday, and we had a tete-a-tete dinner in the country; where we talked of nothing elſe."’ ‘"I fancy you forgot, ſir,"’ cried I, ‘"you told us but this moment of your dining yeſterday in town!"’ ‘"Did I ſay ſo?"’ replied he cooly, ‘"To be ſure if I did ſo it was ſo.—Dined in town? egad, now I do remember I did dine in town; but I dined in the country too: for you muſt know, my boys, I eat two dinners. By the by, I am grown as nice as the devil in my eating. I'll tell you a pleaſant affair about that: we were a ſelect party of us to dine at lady Grogram's, an affected piece, but let it go no farther; a ſecret: well, ſays I, I'll hold a thouſand guineas, and ſay done firſt, that—But, dear Charles, you are an honeſt creature, lend me half a crown for a minute [Page 60] or two, or ſo, juſt till—But hark'ee, aſk me for it the next time we meet, or it may be twenty to one but I forget to pay you."’
When he left us, our converſation naturally turned upon ſo extraordinary a character. ‘"His very dreſs,"’ cries my friend, ‘"is no leſs extraordinary than his conduct. If you meet him this day, you find him in rags; if the next, in embroidery. With thoſe perſons of diſtinction, of whom he talks ſo familiarly, he has ſcarce a coffee-houſe acquaintance. However both for the intereſt of ſociety, and perhaps for his own, heaven has made him poor; and, while all the world perceives his wants, he fancies them concealed from every eye. An agreeable companion, becauſe he underſtands flattery; and all muſt be pleaſed with the firſt part of his converſation, tho' all are ſure of its ending with a demand on their purſe. While his youth countenances the levity of his conduct, he may thus earn a precarious ſubſiſtence; but, when age comes on, the gravity of which is incompatible with buffoonery, then will he find himſelf forſaken by all; condemned in the decline of life to hang upon ſome rich family whom he once deſpiſed, there to undergo all the ingenuity of ſtudied contempt; to be employed only as a ſpy upon the ſervants, or a bug-bear to fright children into duty."’
THERE are ſome acquaintances whom it is no eaſy matter to ſhake off. My little beau yeſterday overtook me again in one of the public walks, and, ſlapping me on the ſhoulder, ſaluted me with an air of the moſt perfect familiarity. [Page 61] His dreſs was the ſame as uſual, except that he had more powder in his hair; wore a dirtier ſhirt, and had on a pair of temple ſpectacles, and his hat under his arm.
As I knew him to be an harmleſs amuſing little thing, I could not return his ſmiles with any degree of ſeverity; ſo we walked forward on terms of the utmoſt intimacy, and in a few minutes diſcuſſed all the uſual topics preliminary to particular converſation.
The oddities that marked his character, however, ſoon began to appear; he bowed to ſeveral well-dreſſed perſons, who, by their manner of returning the compliment, appeared perfect ſtrangers. At intervals he drew out a pocket-book, ſeeming to take memorandums before all the company with much importance and aſſiduity. In this manner he led me through the length of the whole Mall, fretting at his abſurdities, and fancying myſelf laughed at, as well as he, by every ſpectator.
When we were got to the end of our proceſſion, ‘"Blaſt me,"’ cries he, with an air of vivacity, ‘"I never ſaw the Park ſo thin in my life before; there's no company at all to-day. Not a ſingle face to be ſeen."’ ‘"No company!"’ interrupted I peeviſhly; ‘"no company where there is ſuch a crowd! Why, man, there is too much. What are the thouſands that have been laughing at us, but company!"’ ‘"Lord, my dear,"’ returned he, with the utmoſt good humour, ‘"you ſeem immenſely chagrined; but, blaſt me, when the world laughs at me, I laugh at the world, and ſo we are even. My lord Trip, Bill Squaſh, the Creolian, and I, ſometimes make a party at being ridiculous; and ſo we ſay and do a thouſand things for the joke's ſake. But I ſee you are grave; and if you are for a fine grave ſentimental companion, you ſhall dine with my wife to-day; I muſt inſiſt on't; I'll introduce you to Mrs Tibbs, a lady of as elegant qualifications as any in nature; ſhe was bred, but that's between ourſelves, under the inſpection of the counteſs of Shoreditch. A charming body of voice! But no more of [Page 62] that, ſhe ſhall give us a ſong. You ſhall ſee my little girl too, Carolina Wilhelma Amelia Tibbs, a ſweet pretty creature; I deſign her for my lord Drumſtick's eldeſt ſon; but that's in friendſhip, let it go no farther; ſhe's but ſix years old, and yet ſhe walks a minuet, and plays on the guittar immenſely already. I intend ſhe ſhall be as perfect as poſſible in every accompliſhment. In the firſt place, I'll make her a ſcholar; I'll teach her Greek myſelf, and I intend to learn that language purpoſely to inſtruct her, but let that be a ſecret."’
Thus ſaying, without waiting for a reply, he took me by the arm and hauled me along. We paſſed thro' many dark alleys and winding ways; for, from ſome motives to me unknown, he ſeemed to have a particular averſion to every frequented ſtreet: at laſt, however, we got to the door of a diſmal looking houſe in the outlets of the town, where he informed me he choſe to reſide for the benefit of the air.
We entered the lower door, which ſeemed ever to lie moſt hoſpitably open; and I began to aſcend an old and creaking ſtair-caſe; when, as he mounted to ſhew me the way, he demanded, whether I delighted in proſpects; to which anſwering in the affirmative, ‘"Then,"’ ſays he, ‘"I ſhall ſhew you one of the moſt charming out of my windows; we ſhall ſee the ſhips ſailing, and the whole country for twenty miles round, tip top, quite high. My lord Swamp would give ten thouſand guineas for ſuch a one; but, as I ſometimes pleaſantly tell him, I always love to keep my proſpects at home, that my friends may come to ſee me the oftener."’
By this time we were arrived as high as the ſtairs would permit us to aſcend, till we came to what he was facetiouſly pleaſed to call the firſt floor down the chimney; and knocking at the door, a voice, with a Scotch accent, from within, demanded, ‘"Wha's there?"’ My conducter anſwered, that it was him. But this not ſatisfying the queriſt, the voice again repeated the demand; to which he anſwered louder than before, [Page 63] and now the door was opened by an old maid-ſervant with cautious reluctance.
When we were got in, he welcomed me to his houſe with great ceremony, and turning to the old woman, aſked where her lady was. ‘"Good troth,"’ replied ſhe, in the northern dialect, ‘"ſhe's waſhing your twa ſhirts at the next door, becauſe they have taken an oath againſt lending out the tub any longer."’ ‘"My two ſhirts!’ cries he, in a tone that faultered with confuſion, ‘"what does the ideot mean?"’ ‘"I ken what I mean well enough,"’ replied the other; ‘"ſhe's waſhing your twa ſhirts at the next door, becauſe"’—‘"Fire and fury, no more of thy ſtupid explanations,"’ cried he,—‘"Go and inform her we have got company. Were that Scotch hag,"’ continued he, turning to me, ‘"to be for ever in my family, ſhe will never learn politeneſs, nor forget that abſurd poiſonous accent of her's, or teſtify the ſmalleſt ſpecimen of breeding or high-life; and yet it is very ſurpriſing too, as I had her from a parliament man, a friend of mine, from the Highlands, one of the politeſt men in the world; but that's a ſecret."’
We waited ſome time for Mrs. Tibbs' arrival, during which interval I had a full opportunity of ſurveying the chamber and all its furniture; which conſiſted of four chairs with old wrought bottoms, that he aſſured me were his wife's embroidery; a ſquare table that had been once japanned; a cradle in one corner, a lumbering cabinet in the other; a broken ſhepherdeſs, and a Mandarine without a head, were ſtuck over the chimney; and round the walls ſeveral paltry unframed pictures, which he obſerved were all of his own drawing. ‘"What do you think, Sir, of that head in the corner, done in the manner of Griſoni? There's the true keeping in it; it is my own face; and, though there happens to be no likeneſs, a counteſs offered me a hundred for its fellow: I refuſed her, for, hang it, that would be mechanical, you know."’
[Page 64] The wife, at laſt, made her appearance; at once a ſlattern and a coquette; much emaciated, but ſtill carrying the remains of beauty. She made twenty apologies for being ſeen in ſuch an odious diſhabille, but hoped to be excuſed, as ſhe had ſtaid out all night at Vauxhall Gardens with the counteſs, who was exceſſively fond of the horns. ‘"And, indeed, my dear,"’ added ſhe, turning to her huſband, ‘"his lordſhip drank your health in a bumper."’ ‘"Poor Jack,"’ cries he, ‘"a dear good-natured creature, I know he loves me; but I hope, my dear, you have given orders for dinner; you need make no great preparations neither, there are but three of us; ſomething elegant and little will do; a turbot, an ortolan, or a—"’ ‘"Or what do you think, my dear,"’ interrupts the wife, ‘"of a nice pretty bit of ox-cheek, piping hot, and dreſſed with a little of my own ſauce?"’—‘"The very thing,"’ replies he, ‘"it will eat beſt with ſome ſmart bottled beer; but be ſure to let's have the ſauce his grace was ſo fond of. I hate your immenſe loads of meat; that is country all over; extreme diſguſting to thoſe who are in the leaſt acquainted with high-life."’
By this time my curioſity began to abate, and my appetite to encreaſe; the company of fools may at firſt make us ſmile, but at laſt never fails of rendering us melancholy. I therefore pretended to recollect a prior engagement, and, after having ſhewn my reſpect to the houſe, by giving the old ſervant a piece of money at the door, I took my leave; Mr. Tibbs aſſuring me, that dinner, if I ſtaid, would be ready at leaſt in leſs than two hours.
As it has been obſerved that few are better qualified to give others advice, than thoſe who have taken the leaſt of it themſelves; ſo in this reſpect I find myſelf perfectly authoriſed to offer mine; and muſt take leave to throw together a few obſervations upon that part of a young man's conduct on his entering into life, as it is called.
The moſt uſual way among young men who have no reſolution of their own, is firſt to aſk one friend's advice, and folit for ſome time; then to aſk advice of another, and turn to that; ſo of a third, ſtill unſteady, always changing. However, every change of this nature is for the worſe; people may tell you of your being unfit for ſome peculiar occupations in life; but heed them not; whatever employment you follow with perſeverance and aſſiduity, will be found fit for you; it will be your ſupport in youth and comfort in age. In learning the uſeful part of every profeſſion very moderate abilities will ſuffice: great abilities are generally obnoxious to the poſſeſſors. Life has been compared to a race; but the alluſion ſtill improves, by obſerving, that the moſt ſwift are ever the moſt apt to ſtray from the courſe.
To know one profeſſion only, is enough for one man to know; and this, whatever the profeſſors may tell you to the contrary, is ſoon learned. Be contented, therefore, with one good employment; for if you underſtand two at a time, people will give you buſineſs in neither.
A conjurer and a taylor once happened to converſe together. ‘"Alas!"’ cries the taylor, ‘"what an unhappy poor poor creature am I! if people ever take it into their heads to live without cloaths, I am undone; I have no other trade to have recourſe to."’ ‘"Indeed, friend, I pity you [Page 66] ſincerely,"’ replies the conjurer, ‘"but, thank heaven, things are not quite ſo bad with me: for, if one trick ſhould fail, I have an hundred tricks for them yet. However, if at any time you are reduced to beggary, apply to me, and I will relieve you."’ A famine overſpread the land; the taylor made a ſhift to live, becauſe his cuſtomers could not be without cloaths; but the poor conjurer, with all his hundred tricks, could find none that had money to throw away: it was in vain that he promiſed to eat fire, or to vomit pins; no ſingle creature would relieve him, till he was at laſt obliged to beg from the very taylor whoſe calling he had formerly deſpiſed.
There are no obſtructions more fatal to fortune than pride and reſentment. If you muſt reſent injuries at all, at leaſt ſuppreſs your indignation till you become rich; and then ſhew away. The reſentment of a poor man is like the efforts of harmleſs inſect to ſting; it may get him cruſhed, but cannot defend him. Who values that anger which is conſumed only in empty menaces?
Once upon a time a gooſe fed its young by a pond-ſide; and a gooſe, in ſuch circumſtances, is always extremely proud, and exceſſively punctilious. If any other animal, without the leaſt deſign to offend, happened to paſs that way, the gooſe was immediately at it. The pond, ſhe ſaid, was hers, and ſhe would maintain her right in it, and ſupport her honour, while ſhe had a bill to hiſs, or a wing to flutter. In this manner ſhe drove away ducks, pigs, and chickens; nay, even the inſidious cat was ſeen to ſcamper. A lounging maſtiff, however, happened to paſs by, and thought it no harm if he ſhould lap a little of the water, as he was thirſty. The guardian gooſe flew at him like a fury, pecked at him with her beak, and ſlapped him with her feathers. The dog grew angry, and had twenty times a mind to give her a ſly ſnap; but ſuppreſſing his indignation, becauſe his maſter was nigh, ‘"A pox take thee,"’ cries he, [Page 67] ‘"for a fool, ſure thoſe who have neither ſtrength nor weapons to fight, at leaſt ſhould be civil."’ So ſaying, he went forward to the pond, quenched his thirſt, in ſpite of the gooſe, and followed his maſter.
Another obſtruction to the fortune of youth is, that, while they are willing to take offence from none, they are alſo equally deſirous of giving nobody offence. From hence they endeavour to pleaſe all, comply with every requeſt, and attempt to ſuit themſelves to every company; have no will of their own; but, like wax, catch every contiguous impreſſion. By thus attempting to give univerſal ſatisfaction, they at laſt find themſelves miſerably diſappointed; to bring the generality of admirers on our ſide, it is ſufficient to attempt pleaſing a very few.
A painter of eminence was once reſolved to finiſh a piece which ſhould pleaſe the whole world. When, therefore, he had drawn a picture, in which his utmoſt ſkill was exhauſted, it was expoſed in the public market-place, with directions at the bottom for every ſpectator to mark with a bruſh, that lay by, every limb and feature which ſeemed erroneous. The ſpectators came, and, in general, applauded; but each willing to ſhew his talent at criticiſm, ſtigmatized whatever he thought proper. At evening, when the painter came, he was mortified to find the picture one univerſal blot; not a ſingle ſtroke that had not the marks of diſapprobation. Not ſatisfied with this trial, the next day he was reſolved to try them in a different manner; and expoſing his picture as before, deſired that every ſpectator would mark thoſe beauties he approved or admired. The people complied, and the artiſt returning, found his picture covered with the marks of beauty; every ſtroke that had been yeſterday condemned, now received the character of approbation. ‘"Well,"’ cries the painter, ‘"I now find the beſt way to pleaſe all the world, is to attempt pleaſing one half of it."’
INDULGENT nature ſeems to have exempted this iſland from many of thoſe epidemic evils which are ſo fatal in other parts of the world. A want of rain for a few days beyond the expected ſeaſon, in ſome parts of the globe, ſpreads famine, deſolation, and terror, over the whole country; but, in this fortunate land of Britain, the inhabitant courts health in every breeze, and the huſbandman ever ſows in joyful expectation.
But, though the nation be exempt from real evils, it is not more happy on this account than others. The people are afflicted, it is true, with neither famine nor peſtilence; but then there is a diſorder peculiar to the country, which every ſeaſon makes ſtrange ravages among them; it ſpreads with peſtilential rapidity, and infects almoſt every rank of people; what is ſtill more ſtrange, the natives have no name for this peculiar malady, though well known to foreign phyſicians by the appellation of Epidemic Terror.
A ſeaſon is never known to paſs, in which the people are not viſited by this cruel calamity, in one ſhape or another, ſeemingly different, though ever the ſame; one year it iſſues from a baker's ſhop in the ſhape of a ſixpenny loaf, the next it takes the appearance of a comet with a fiery trial, the third it threatens like a flat-bottomed boat, and the fourth it carries conſternation in the bite of a mad dog. The people, when once infected, loſe their reliſh for happineſs, ſaunter about with looks of deſpondence, aſk after the calamities of the day, and receive no comfort but in heightening each other's diſtreſs. It is inſignificant how remote or near, how weak or powerful, the object of terror may be, when once they reſolve to fright and be frighted; the mereſt trifles ſow [Page 69] conſternation and diſmay; each proportions his fears, not to the object, but to the dread he diſcovers in the countenance of others; for, when once the fermentation is begun, it goes on of itſelf, though the original cauſe be diſcontinued which firſt ſet it in motion.
A dread of mad dogs is the epidemic terror which now prevails, and the whole nation is at preſent actually groaning under the malignity of its influence. The people fally from their houſes with that circumſpection which is prudent in ſuch as expect a mad dog at every turning. The phyſician publiſhes his preſcription, the beadle prepares his halter, and a few of unuſual bravery arm themſelves with boots and buff gloves, in order to face the enemy, if he ſhould offer to attack them. In ſhort, the whole people ſtand upon their defence, and ſeem, by their preſent ſpirit, to ſhew a reſolution of being tamely bit by mad dogs no longer.
Their manner of knowing whether a dog be mad or no, ſomewhat reſembles the ancient Gothic cuſtom of trying witches. The old woman ſuſpected was tied hand and foot, and thrown into the water. If ſhe ſwam, then ſhe was inſtantly carried off to be burnt for a witch; if ſhe ſunk, then indeed ſhe was acquitted of the charge, but drowned in the experiment. In the ſame manner a croud gather round a dog ſuſpected of madneſs, and they begin by teizing the devoted animal on every ſide. If he attempts to ſtand upon the defenſive, and bite, then he is unanimouſly found guilty, for ‘"A mad dog always ſnaps at every thing."’ If, on the contrary, he ſtrives to eſcape by running away, then he can expect no compaſſion, for ‘"Mad dogs always run ſtraight forward before them."’
It is pleaſant enough for a neutral being like me, who have no ſhare in thoſe ideal calamities, to mark the ſtages of this national diſeaſe. The terror at firſt feebly enters with a diſregarded ſtory of a little dog, that had gone through a neighbouring village, which was thought to be mad by ſeveral who [Page 70] had ſeen him. The next account comes, that a maſtiff ran through a certain town, and had bit five geeſe, which immediately ran mad, foamed at the bill, and died in great agonies ſoon after. Then comes an affecting hiſtory of a little boy bit in the leg, and gone down to be dipped in the ſalt water. When the people have ſufficiently ſhuddered at that, they are next congealed with a frightful account of a man who was ſaid lately to have died from a bite he had received ſome years before. This relation only prepares the way for another, ſtill more hideous; as how the maſter of a family, with ſeven ſmall children, were all bit by a mad lap-dog; and how the poor father firſt perceived the infection by calling for a draught of water, where he ſaw the lap-dog ſwimming in the cup.
When epidemic terror is thus once excited, every morning comes loaded with ſome new diſaſter; as in ſtories of ghoſts each loves to hear the account, though it only ſerves to make him uneaſy; ſo here each liſtens with eagerneſs, and adds to the tidings with new circumſtances of peculiar horror. A lady, for inſtance, in the country, of very weak nerves, has been frightened by the barking of a dog; and this, alas! too frequently happens. The ſtory ſoon is improved, and ſpreads, that a mad dog had frighted a lady of diſtinction. Theſe circumſtances begin to grow terrible before they have reached the neighbouring village; and there the report is, that a lady of quality was bit by a mad maſtiff. This account every moment gathers new ſtrength, and grows more diſmal as it approaches the capital; and, by the time it has arrived in town, the lady is deſcribed with wild eyes, foaming mouth, running mad upon all four, barking like a dog, biting her ſervants, and at laſt ſmothered between two beds by the advice of her doctors; while the mad maſtiff is, in the mean time, ranging the whole country over, ſlavering at the mouth, and ſeeking whom he may devour.
My landlady, a good-natured woman, but a little credulous, waked me ſome mornings ago, before the uſual hour, with [Page 71] horror and aſtoniſhment in her looks. She deſired me, if I had any regard for my ſafety, to keep within; for a few days ago, ſo diſmal an accident had happened, as to put all the world upon their guard. A mad dog, down in the country, ſhe aſſured me, had bit a farmer, who ſoon becoming mad, ran into his own yard, and bit a fine brindled cow; the cow quickly became as mad as the man, began to foam at the mouth, and raiſing herſelf up, walked about on her hind legs, ſometimes barking like a dog, and ſometimes attempting to talk like the farmer. Upon examining the grounds of this ſtory, I found my landlady had it from one neighbour, who had it from another neighbour, who heard it from very good authority.
Were moſt ſtories of this nature well examined, it would be found that numbers of ſuch as have been ſaid to ſuffer were no way injured, and that of thoſe who have been actually bitten, not one in a hundred was bit by a mad dog. Such accounts in general, therefore, only ſerve to make the people miſerable by falſe terrors, and ſometimes fright the patient into actual frenzy, by creating thoſe very ſymptoms they pretended to deplore.
But even allowing three or four to die in a ſeaſon of this terrible death (and four is probable too large a conceſſion) yet ſtill it is not conſidered, how many are preſerved in their health and in their property by this devoted animal's ſervices. The midnight robber is kept at a diſtance; the inſidious thief is often detected; the healthful chace repairs many a worn conſtitution; and the poor man finds in his dog a willing aſſiſtant, eager to leſſen his toil, and content with the ſmalleſt retribution.
‘"A dog,"’ ſays one of the Engliſh poets, ‘"is an honeſt creature, and I am a friend to dogs."’ Of all the beaſts that graze the lawn, or hunt the foreſt, a dog is the only animal, that, leaving his fellows, attempts to cultivate the friendſhip of man; to man he looks, in all his neceſſities, with a ſpeaking [Page 72] eye for aſſiſtance; exerts, for him, all the little ſervice in his power with chearfulneſs and pleaſure; for him bears famine and fatigue with patience and reſignation; no injuries can abate his fidelity; no diſtreſs induce him to forſake his benefactor; ſtudious to pleaſe, and fearing to offend, he is ſtill an humble, ſtedfaſt dependant; and in him alone fawning is not flattery. How unkind then to torture this faithful creature, who has left the foreſt to claim the protection of man! How ungrateful a return to the truſty animal for all its ſervices!
AGE, that leſſens the enjoyment of life, encreaſes our deſire of living. Thoſe dangers which, in the vigour of youth, we had learned to deſpiſe, aſſume new terrors as we grow old. Our caution encreaſing as our years encreaſe, fear becomes at at laſt the prevailing paſſion of the mind; and the ſmall remainder of life is taken up in uſeleſs efforts to keep off our end, or provide for a continued exiſtence.
Strange contradiction in our nature, and to which even the wiſe are liable! If I ſhould judge of that part of life which lies before me by that which I have already ſeen, the proſpect is hideous. Experience tells me, that my paſt enjoyments have brought no real felicity; and ſenſation aſſures me, that thoſe I have felt are ſtronger than thoſe which are yet to come. Yet experience and ſenſation in vain perſuade; hope, more powerful than either, dreſſes out the diſtant proſpect in fancied beauty; ſome happineſs, in long perſpective, ſtill beckons me to purſue; and, like a loſing gameſter, every new diſappointpointment encreaſes my ardour to continue the game.
[Page 73] Whence then is this encreaſed love of life, which grows upon us with our years? whence comes it, that we thus make great efforts to preſerve our exiſtence, at a period when it becomes ſcarce worth the keeping? Is it that nature, attentive to the preſervation of mankind, encreaſes our wiſhes to live, while ſhe leſſens our enjoyments; and, as ſhe robs the ſenſes of every pleaſure, equips imagination in the ſpoil? Life would be inſupportable to an old man, who, loaded with infirmities, feared death no more than when in the vigour of manhood; the numberleſs calamities of decaying nature, and the conſciouſneſs of ſurviving every pleaſure, would at once induce him, with his own hand, to terminate the ſcene of miſery; but happily the contempt of death forſakes him at a time when it could only be prejudicial; and life acquires an imaginary value, in proportion as its real value is no more.
Our attachment to every object around us encreaſes, in general, from the length of our acquaintance with it. ‘"I would not chooſe,"’ ſays a French philoſopher, ‘"to ſee an old poſt pulled up with which I had been long acquainted."’ A mind long habituated to a certain ſet of objects, inſenſibly becomes fond of ſeeing them; viſits them from habit, and parts from them with reluctance: from hence proceeds the avarice of the old in every kind of poſſeſſion; they love the world and all it produces; they love life and all its advantages; not becauſe it gives them pleaſure, but becauſe they have known it long.
Chinvang the Chaſte, aſcending the throne of China, commanded that all who were unjuſtly detained in priſon, during the preceding reigns, ſhould be ſet free. Among the number who came to thank their deliverer on this occaſion, there appeared a majeſtic old man, who, falling at the emperor's feet, addreſſed him as follows: ‘"Great father of China, behold a wretch, now eighty-five years old, who was ſhut up in a dungeon at the age of twenty-two. I was impriſoned, though a ſtranger to crime, or without being even confronted [Page 74] by my accuſers. I have now lived in ſolitude and darkneſs for more than fifty years, and I am grown familiar with diſtreſs. As yet dazzled with the ſplendor of that ſun to which you have reſtored me, I have been wandering the ſtreets to find out ſome friend that would aſſiſt, or relieve, or remember me; but my friends, my family, and relations, are all dead, and I am forgotten. Permit me then, O Chinvang, to wear out the wretched remains of life in my former priſon; the walls of my dungeon are to me more pleaſing than the moſt ſplendid palace: I have not long to live, and ſhall be unhappy except I ſpend the reſt of my days where my youth was paſſed; in that priſon from whence you were pleaſed to releaſe me."’
The old man's paſſion for confinement is ſimilar to that we all have for life. We are habituated to the priſon, we look round with diſcontent, are diſpleaſed with the abode, and yet the length of our captivity only encreaſes our fondneſs for the cell. The trees we have planted, the houſes we have built, or the poſterity we have begotten, all ſerve to bind us cloſer to earth, and embitter our parting. Life ſues the young like a new acquaintance; the companion, as yet unexhauſted, is at once inſtructive and amuſing; its company pleaſes; yet, for all this, it is but little regarded. To us, who are declined in years, life appears like an old friend; its jeſts have been anticipated in former converſation; it has no new ſtory to make us ſmile, no new improvement with which to ſurpriſe; yet ſtill we love it: deſtitute of every enjoyment, ſtill we love it; huſband the waſting treaſure with encreaſing frugality, and feel all the poignancy of anguiſh in the fatal ſeparation.
Sir Philip Mordaunt was young, beautiful, ſincere, brave, an Engliſhman. He had a complete fortune of his own, and the love of the king his maſter, which was equivalent to riches. Life opened all her treaſures before him, and promiſed a long ſucceſſion of future happineſs. He came, taſted of the entertainment, but was diſguſted even at the beginning. [Page 75] He profeſſed an averſion to living; was tired of walking round the ſame circle; had tried every enjoyment, and found them all grow weaker at every repetition. ‘"If life be, in youth, ſo diſpleaſing,"’ cried he to himſelf, ‘"what will it appear when age comes on? if it be at preſent indifferent, ſure it will then be execrable."’ This thought embittered every reflection; till, at laſt, with all the ſerenity of perverted reaſon, he ended the debate with a piſtol! Had this ſelf-deluded man been appriſed, that exiſtence grows more deſirable to us the longer we exiſt, he would have then faced old age without ſhrinking; he would have boldly dared to live; and ſerved that ſociety, by his future aſſiduity, which he baſely injured by his deſertion.
FOREIGNERS obſerve, that there are no ladies in the world more beautiful, or more ill dreſſed, than thoſe of England. Our country-women, have been compared to thoſe pictures, where the face is the work of a Raphael; but the draperies thrown out by ſome empty pretender, deſtitute of taſte, and entirely unacquainted with deſign.
If I were a poet, I might obſerve, on this occaſion, that ſo much beauty, ſet off with all the advantages of dreſs, would be too powerful an antagoniſt for the oppoſite ſex; and therefore it was wiſely ordered that our ladies ſhould want taſte, leſt their admirers ſhould entirely want reaſon.
But to confeſs a truth, I do not find they have a greater averſion to fine cloaths than the women of any other country whatſoever. I can't fancy that a ſhop-keeper's wife in Cheapſide has a greater tenderneſs for the fortune of her huſband [Page 76] than a citizen's wife in Paris; or that miſs in a boarding-ſchool is more an oeconomiſt in dreſs than mademoiſelle in a nunnery.
Although Paris may be accounted the ſoil in which almoſt every faſhion takes its riſe, its influence is never ſo general there as with us. They ſtudy there the happy method of uniting grace and faſhion, and never excuſe a woman for being aukwardly dreſſed, by ſaying, her cloaths are in the mode. A French woman is a perfect architect in dreſs; ſhe never, with Gothic ignorance, mixes the orders; ſhe never tricks out a ſquabby Doric ſhape with Corinthian finery; or, to ſpeak without metaphor, ſhe conforms to general faſhion only when it happens not to be repugnant to private beauty. The Engliſh ladies, on the contrary, ſeem to have no other ſtandard of grace but the run of the town. If faſhion gives the word, every diſtinction of beauty, complexion, or ſtature, ceaſes. Sweeping trains, Pruſſian bonnets, and trollopees, as like each other as if cut from the ſame piece, level all to one ſtandard. The Mall, the gardens and playhouſes, are filled with ladies in uniform; and their whole appearance ſhews as little variety of taſte as if their cloaths were beſpoke by the colonel of a marching regiment, or fancied by the artiſt who dreſſes the three battalions of guards.
But not only the ladies of every ſhape and complexion, but of every age too, are poſſeſſed of this unaccountable paſſion for levelling all diſtinction in dreſs. The lady of no quality travels faſt behind the lady of ſome quality; and a woman of ſixty is as gaudy as her grand-daughter. A friend of mine, a good-natured old man, amuſed me, the other day, with an account of his journey to the Mall. It ſeems in his walk thither, he, for ſome time, followed a lady, who, as he thought by her dreſs, was a girl of fifteen. It was airy, elegant, and youthful. My old friend had called up all his poetry on this occaſion, and fancied twenty cupids prepared for execution in every folding of her white negligee. He had prepared his imagination for an angel's face; but what was his mortification [Page 77] to find that the imaginary goddeſs was no other than his couſin Hannah, ſome years older than himſelf!
But to give it in his own words; ‘"After the tranſports of our firſt ſalute,"’ ſaid he, ‘"were over, I could not avoid running my eye over her whole appearance. Her gown was of cambric, cut ſhort before, in order to diſcover an high-heeled ſhoe, which was buckled almoſt at the toe. Her cap conſiſted of a few bits of cambric, and flowers of painted paper ſtuck on one ſide of her head. Her boſom, that had felt no hand but the hand of time theſe twenty years, roſe, ſuing to be preſſed. I could, indeed, have wiſhed her more than an handkerchief of Paris-net to ſhade her beauties; for, as Taſſo ſays of the roſe-buds, ‘"Quanto ſ [...]noſtra men tanto [...]piu bella."’ ‘"A female breaſt is generally thought moſt beautiful as it is more ſparingly diſcovered."’ ’
‘"As my couſin had not put on all this finery for nothing, ſhe was at that time ſallying out to the Park, when I had overtaken her. Perceiving, however, that I had on my beſt wig, ſhe offered, if I would 'ſquire her there, to ſend home the footman. Though I trembled for our reception in public, yet I could not with any civility refuſe; ſo, to be as gallant as poſſible, I took her hand in my arm, and thus we marched on together."’
‘"When we made our entry at the Park, two antiquated figures, ſo polite and ſo tender, ſoon attracted the eyes of the company. As we made our way among crouds who were out to ſhew their finery as well as we, wherever we came, I perceived we brought good-humour with us. The polite could not forbear ſmiling, and the vulgar burſt out into a horſe-laugh at our groteſque figures. Couſin Hannah, who was perfectly conſcious of the rectitude of her own appearance, attributed all this mirth to the oddity of mine; while I as cordially placed the whole to her account. Thus, from being two of the beſt-natured creatures alive, before we got half up the Mall, we began to grow peeviſh, and, like two mice in a ſtring, [Page 78] endeavoured to revenge the impertinence of others upon ourſelves. ‘"I am amazed, couſin Jeffery,"’ ſays miſs, ‘"that I can never get you to dreſs like a Chriſtian. I knew we ſhould have the eyes of the whole Park upon us, with your great wig, ſo frizzled, and yet ſo beggarly, and your monſtrous muff. I hate thoſe odious muffs."’ I could have patiently borne a criticiſm on all the reſt of my equipage; but, as I had always a peculiar veneration for my muff, I could not forbear being piqued a little; and throwing my eyes with a ſpiteful air on her boſom, ‘"I could heartily wiſh, madam,"’ replied I, ‘"that, for your ſake, my muff was cut into a tippet."’ ’
‘"As my couſin, by this time, was grown heartily aſhamed of her gentleman-uſher, and as I was never very fond of any kind of exhibition myſelf, it was mutually agreed to retire for a while to one of the ſeats, and from that retreat remark on others, as freely as they had remarked on us.’
‘"When ſeated we continued ſilent for ſome time, employed in very different ſpeculations. I regarded the whole company, now paſſing before me, as drawn out merely for my amuſement. For my entertainment the beauty had, all that morning, been improving her charms; the beau had put on lace, and the young doctor a big wig, merely to pleaſe me. But quite different were the ſentiments of couſin Hannah; ſhe regarded every well-dreſſed woman as a victorious rival; hated every face that ſeemed dreſſed in good-humour, or wore the appearance of greater happineſs than her own. I perceived her uneaſineſs, and attempted to leſſen it, by obſerving that there was no company in the Park to-day. To this ſhe readily aſſented; ‘"and yet,"’ ſays ſhe, ‘"it is full enough of ſcrubs of one kind or another."’ My ſmiling at this obſervation gave her ſpirits to purſue the bent of her inclination, and now ſhe began to exhibit her ſkill in ſecret hiſtory, as ſhe found me diſpoſed to liſten. ‘"Obſerve,"’ ſays ſhe to me,
"that old woman in taudry ſilk, and dreſſed out [Page 79] beyond the faſhion. That is Miſs Biddy Evergeen. Miſs Biddy, it ſeems, has money; and as ſhe conſiders that money was never ſo ſcarce as it is now, ſhe ſeems reſolved to keep what ſhe has to herſelf. She is ugly enough, you ſee; yet, I aſſure you, ſhe has refuſed ſeveral offers, to my own knowledge, within this twelvemonth. Let me ſee; three gentlemen from Ireland who ſtudy the law, two waiting captains, her doctor, and a Scotch preacher, who had like to have carried her off. All her time is paſſed between ſickneſs and finery. Thus ſhe ſpends the whole week in a cloſe chamber, with no other company but her monkey, her apothecary, and cat; and comes dreſſed out to the Park every Sunday, to ſhew her airs, to get new lovers, to catch a new cold, and to make new work for the doctor."’
"There goes Mrs. Roundabout, I mean the fat lady in the luteſtring trollopee. Between you and I, ſhe's but a cutler's wife. See how ſhe's dreſſed, as fine as hands and pins can make her, while her two marriageable daughters, like bunters, in ſtuff gowns, are now taking ſixpennyworth of tea at the White-conduit-houſe. Odious fuſs, how ſhe waddles along, with her train two yards behind her! She puts me in mind of my lord Bantam's Indian ſheep, which are obliged to have their monſtrous tails trundled along in a go-cart. For all her airs, it goes to her huſband's heart to ſee four yards of good luteſtring wearing againſt the ground, like one of his knives on a grind-ſtone. To ſpeak my mind, couſin Jeffery, I never liked thoſe tails; for, ſuppoſe a young fellow ſhould be rude, and the lady ſhould offer to ſtep back in the fright, inſtead of retiring, ſhe treads upon her train, and falls fairly on her back; and then you know, couſin,—her cloaths may be ſpoiled."
"Ah! Miſs Mazzard! I knew we ſhould not miſs her in the Park; ſhe in the monſtrous Pruſſian bonnet. Miſs, [Page 80] though ſo very fine, was bred a milliner, and might have had ſome cuſtom if ſhe had minded her buſineſs; but the girl was fond of finery, and, inſtead of dreſſing her cuſtomers, laid out all her goods in adorning herſelf. Every new gown ſhe put on impaired her credit; ſhe ſtill, however, went on, improving her appearances and leſſening her little fortune, and is now, you ſee, become a belle and a bankrupt."
‘"My couſin was proceeding in her remarks, which were interrupted by the approach of the very lady ſhe had been ſo freely deſcribing. Miſs had perceived her at a diſtance, and approached to ſalute her. I found, by the warmth of the two ladies proteſtations, that they had been long intimate eſteemed friends and acquaintance. Both were ſo pleaſed at this happy rencounter, that they were reſolved not to part for the day. So we all croſſed the Park together, and I ſaw them into a hackney-coach at St. James's."’
WHERE Tauris lifts its head above the ſtorm, and preſents nothing to the ſight of the diſtant traveller, but a proſpect of nodding rocks, falling torrents, and all the variety of tremendous nature; on the bleak boſom of this frightful mountain, ſecluded from ſociety, and deteſting the ways of men, lived Aſem the Manhater.
Aſem had ſpent his youth with men; had ſhared in their amuſements; and had been taught to love his fellow-creatures with the moſt ardent affection: but, from the tenderneſs of his diſpoſition, he exhauſted all his fortune in relieving the wants of the diſtreſſed. The petitioner never ſued [Page 81] in vain; the weary traveller never paſſed his door; he only deſiſted from doing good when he had no longer the power of relieving.
From a fortune thus ſpent in benevolence, he expected a grateful return from thoſe he had formerly relieved; and made his application with confidence of redreſs: the ungrateful world ſoon grew weary of his importunity; for pity is but a ſhort-lived paſſion. He ſoon, therefore, began to view mankind in a very different light from that in which he had before beheld them: he perceived a thouſand vices he had never before ſuſpected to exiſt: wherever he turned, ingratitude, diſſimulation, and treachery, contributed to increaſe his deteſtation of them. Reſolved therefore to continue no longer in a world which he hated, and which repaid his deteſtation with contempt, he retired to this region of ſterility, in order to brood over his reſentment in ſolitude, and converſe with the only honeſt heart he knew; namely, with his own.
A cave was his only ſhelter from the inclemency of the weather; fruits, gathered with difficulty from the mountain's ſide, his only food; and his drink was fetched with danger and toil from the headlong torrent. In this manner he lived, ſequeſtered from ſociety, paſſing the hours in meditation, and ſometimes exulting that he was able to live independently of his fellow-creatures.
At the foot of the mountain, an extenſive lake diſplayed its glaſſy boſom; reflecting, on its broad ſurface, the impending horrors of the mountain. To this capacious mirror he would ſometimes deſcend, and, reclining on its ſteep banks, caſt an eager look on the ſmooth expanſe that lay before him. ‘"How beautiful,"’ he often cried, ‘"is nature! how lovely, even in her wildeſt ſcenes! How finely contraſted is the level plain that lies beneath me, with yon awful pile that hides its tremendous head in clouds! But the beauty of theſe ſcenes is no way comparable with their utility; from [Page 82] hence an hundred rivers are ſupplied, which diſtribute health and verdure to the various countries through which they flow. Every part of the univerſe is beautiful, juſt, and wiſe; but man, vile man, is a ſoleciſm in nature; the only monſter in the creation. Tempeſts and whirlwinds have their uſe; but vicious ungrateful man is a blot in the fair page of univerſal beauty. Why was I born of that deteſted ſpecies, whoſe vices are almoſt a reproach to the wiſdom of the divine Creator! Were men entirely free from vice, all would be uniformity, harmony, and order. A world of moral rectitude, ſhould be the reſult of a perfectly moral agent. Why, why then, O Alla! muſt I be thus confined in darkneſs, doubt, and deſpair!"’
Juſt as he uttered the word Deſpair, he was going to plunge into the lake beneath him, at once to ſatisfy his doubts, and put a period to his anxiety; when he perceived a moſt majeſtic being walking on the ſurface of the water, and approaching the bank on which he ſtood. So unexpected an object at once checked his purpoſe; he ſtopped, contemplated, and fancied he ſaw ſomething awful and divine in his aſpect.
‘"Son of Adam,"’ cried the genius, ‘"ſtop thy raſh purpoſe; the father of the faithful has ſeen thy juſtice, thy integrity, thy miſeries, and hath ſent me to afford and adminiſter relief. Give me thine hand, and follow, without trembling, wherever I ſhall lead; in me behold the Genius of Conviction, kept by the great prophet, to turn from their errors thoſe who go aſtray, not from curioſity, but a rectitude of intention. Follow me, and be wiſe."’
Aſem immediately deſcended upon the lake, and his guide conducted him along the ſurface of the water; till, coming near the centre of the lake, they both began to ſink; the waters cloſed over their heads; they deſcended ſeveral hundred fathoms, till Aſem, juſt ready to give up his life as inevitably loſt, found himſelf with his celeſtial guide in another [Page 83] world, at the bottom of the waters, where human foot had never trod before. His aſtoniſhment was beyond deſcription, when he ſaw a ſun like that he had left, a ſerene ſky over his head, and blooming verdure under his feet.
‘"I plainly perceive your amazement,"’ ſaid the genius; ‘"but ſuſpend it for a while. This world was formed by Alla, at the requeſt, and under the inſpection, of our great prophet; who once entertained the ſame doubts which filled your mind when I found you, and from the conſequence of which you are ſo lately reſcued. The rational inhabitants of this world are formed agreeable to your own ideas; they are abſolutely without vice. In other reſpects it reſembles your earth, but differs from it in being wholly inhabited by men who never do wrong. If you find this world more agreeable than that you ſo lately left, you have free permiſſion to ſpend the remainder of your days in it; but permit me, for ſome time, to attend you, that I may ſilence your doubts, and make you better acquainted with your company and your new inhabitation."’
‘"A world without vice! Rational beings without immorality!"’ cried Aſem, in a rapture, ‘"I thank thee, O Alla, who haſt, at length, heard my petitions; this, this indeed will produce happineſs, extaſy, and eaſe. O for an immortality, to ſpend it among men who are incapable of ingratitude, injuſtice, fraud, violence, and a thouſand other crimes, that render ſociety miſerable!"’
‘"Ceaſe thine acclamations,"’ replied the genius. ‘"Look around thee; reflect on every object and action before us, and communicate to me the reſult of thine obſervations. Lead wherever you think proper, I ſhall be your attendant and inſtructor."’ Aſem and his companion travelled on in ſilence for ſome time, the former being entirely loſt in aſtoniſhment; but at laſt recovering his former ſerenity, he could not help obſerving, that the face of the country bore a near [Page 84] reſemblance to that he had left, except that this ſubterranean world ſtill ſeemed to retain its primaeval wildneſs.
‘"Here,"’ cried Aſem, ‘"I perceive animals of prey, and others that ſeem only deſigned for their ſubſiſtence; it is the very ſame in the world above our heads. But had I been permitted to inſtruct our prophet, I would have removed this defect, and formed no voracious or deſtructive animals which only prey on the other parts of the creation."’ ‘"Your tenderneſs for inferior animals is, I find, remarkable,"’ ſaid the genius, ſmiling, ‘"But with regard to meaner creatures, this world exactly reſembles the other; and, indeed, for obvious reaſons: for the earth can ſupport a more conſiderable number of animals, by their thus becoming food for each other, than if they had lived entirely on her vegetable productions. So that animals of different natures thus formed, inſtead of leſſening their multitude, ſubſiſt in the greateſt number poſſible. But let us haſten on to the inhabited country before us, and ſee what that offers for inſtruction.’
They ſoon gained the utmoſt verge of the foreſt, and entered the country inhabited by men without vice; and Aſem anticipated in idea the rational delight he hoped to experience in ſuch an innocent ſociety. But they had ſcarce left the con [...]ines of the wood, when they beheld one of the inhabitants [...]lying with haſty ſteps, and terror in his countenance, from an army of ſquirrels that cloſely purſued him. ‘"Heavens!"’ cried Aſem, ‘"why does he fly? What can he fear from animals ſo contemptible?"’ He had ſcarce ſpoken, when he perceived two dogs purſuing another of the human ſpecies, who, with equal terror and haſte, attempted to avoid them. ‘"This,"’ cried Aſem to his guide, ‘"is truly ſurpriſing; nor can I conceive the reaſon for ſo ſtrange an action."’ ‘"Every ſpecies of animals,"’ replied the genius, ‘"has of late grown very powerful in this country; for the inhabitants, at firſt, thinking it unjuſt to uſe either fraud or force [Page 85] in deſtroying them, they have inſenſibly increaſed, and now frequently ravage their harmleſs frontiers."’ ‘"But they ſhould have been deſtroyed,"’ cried Aſem, ‘"you ſee the conſequence of ſuch neglect."’ ‘"Where is then that tenderneſs you ſo lately expreſſed for ſubordinate animals?"’ replied the genius ſmiling: ‘"you ſeem to have forgot that branch of juſtice."’ ‘"I muſt acknowledge my miſtake,"’ returned Aſem; ‘"I am now convinced, that we muſt be guilty of tyranny and injuſtice to the brute creation, if we would enjoy the world ourſelves. But let us no longer obſerve the duty of man to theſe irrational creatures, but ſurvey their connections with one another."’
As they walked farther up the country, the more he was ſurpriſed to ſee no veſtiges of handſome houſes, no cities, nor any mark of elegant deſign. His conductor perceiving his ſurpriſe, obſerved, that the inhabitants of this new world were perfectly content with their ancient ſimplicity; each had an houſe, which, though homely, was ſufficient to lodge his little family; they were too good to build houſes, which could only increaſe their own pride, and the envy of the ſpectator; what they built was for convenience, and not for ſhew. ‘"At leaſt, then,"’ ſaid Aſem, ‘"they have neither architects, painters, or ſtatuaries, in their ſociety; but theſe are idle arts, and may be ſpared. However, before I ſpend much more time here, you ſhould have my thanks for introducing me into the ſociety of ſome of their wiſeſt men: there is ſcarce any pleſure to me equal to a refined converſation; there is nothing of which I am ſo enamoured as wiſdom."’ ‘"Wiſdom!"’ replied his inſtructor, ‘"how ridiculous! We have no wiſdom here, for we have no occaſion for it; true wiſdom is only a knowledge of our own duty, and the duty of others to us; but of what uſe is wiſdom here? each intuitively performs what is right in himſelf, and expects the ſame from others. If by wiſdom we ſhould mean vain curioſity, and empty ſpeculation, as ſuch pleaſures have [Page 86] their origin in vanity, luxury, or avarice, we are too good to purſue them."’ ‘"All this may be right,"’ ſays Aſem; ‘"but methinks I obſerve a ſolitary diſpoſition prevail among the people; each family keeps ſeparately within their own precincts, without ſociety, or without intercourſe."’ ‘"That, indeed, is true,"’ replied the other; ‘"here is no eſtabliſhed ſociety; nor ſhould there be any: all ſocieties are made either through fear or friendſhip; the people we are among, are too good to fear each other; and there are no motives to private friendſhip, where all are equally meritorious."’ ‘"Well then,"’ ſaid the ſceptic, ‘"as I am to ſpend my time here, if I am to have neither the polite arts, nor wiſdom, nor friendſhip, in ſuch a world, I ſhould be glad, at leaſt, of an eaſy companion, who may tell me his thoughts, and to whom I may communicate mine."’ ‘"And to what purpoſe ſhould either do this?"’ ſays the genius: ‘"flattery or curioſity are vicious motives, and never allowed of here; and wiſdom is out of the queſtion."’
‘"Still, however,"’ ſaid Aſem, ‘"the inhabitants muſt be happy; each is contented with his own poſſeſſions, nor avariciouſly endeavours to heap up more than is neceſſary for his own ſubſiſtence: each has therefore leiſure for pitying thoſe that ſtand in need of his compaſſion."’ He had ſcarce ſpoken when his ears were aſſaulted with the lamentations of a wretch who ſat by the way-ſide, and, in the moſt deplorable diſtreſs, ſeemed gently to murmur at his own miſery. Aſem immediately ran to his relief, and found him in the laſt ſtage of a conſumption. ‘"Strange,"’ cried the ſon of Adam, ‘"that men who are free from vice ſhould thus ſuffer ſo much miſery without relief!"’ ‘"Be not ſurpriſed,"’ ſaid the wretch who was dying; ‘"would it not be the utmoſt injuſtice for beings, who have only juſt ſufficient to ſupport themſelves, and are content with a bare ſubſiſtence, to take it from their own mouths to put into mine? They never are poſſeſſed of a ſingle meal more than is neceſſary; and [Page 87] what is barely neceſſary cannot be diſpenſed with."’ ‘"They ſhould have been ſupplied with more than is neceſſary,"’ cried Aſem; ‘"and yet I contradict my own opinion but a moment before: all is doubt, perplexity and confuſion. Even the want of ingratitude is no virtue here, ſince they never received a favour. They have, however, another excellence yet behind; the love of their country is ſtill, I hope, one of their darling virtues."’ ‘"Peace, Aſem,"’ replied the guardian, with a countenance not leſs ſevere than beautiful, ‘"nor forfeit all thy pretenſions to wiſdom; the ſame ſelfiſh motives by which we prefer our own intereſt to that of others, induce us to regard our country preferably to that of another. Nothing leſs than univerſal benevolence is free from vice, and that you ſee is practiſed here."’ ‘"Strange!"’ cries the diſappointed pilgrim, in an agony of diſtreſs; ‘"what ſort of a world am I now introduced to? There is ſcarce a ſingle virtue, but that of temperance, which they practiſe; and in that they are no way ſuperior to the very brute creation. There is ſcarce an amuſement which they enjoy; fortitude, liberality, friendſhip, wiſdom, converſation, and love of country, all are virtues entirely unknown here; thus it ſeems, that, to be unacquainted with vice is not to know virtue. Take me, O my genius, back to that very world which I have deſpiſed: a world which has Alla for its contriver, is much more wiſely formed than that which has been projected by Mahomet. Ingratitude, contempt, and hatred, I can now ſuffer, for perhaps I have deſerved them. When I arraigned the wiſdom of Providence, I only ſhewed my own ignorance; henceforth let me keep from vice myſelf, and pity it in others."’
He had ſcarce ended, when the genius, aſſuming an air of terrible complacency, called all his thunders around him, and vaniſhed in a whirlwind. Aſem, aſtoniſhed at the terror of the ſcene, looked for his imaginary world; when caſting his [Page 88] eyes around, he perceived himſelf in the very ſituation, and in the very place, where he firſt began to repine and deſpair; his right foot had been juſt advanced to take the fatal plunge, nor had it been yet withdrawn; ſo inſtantly did Providence ſtrike the ſeries of truths juſt imprinted on his ſoul. He now departed from the water-ſide in tranquility, and, leaving his horrid manſion, travelled to Segeſtan, his native city; where he diligently applied himſelf to commerce, and put in practice that wiſdom he had learned in ſolitude. The frugality of a few years ſoon produced opulence; the number of his domeſtics increaſed; his friends came to him from every part of the city; nor did he receive them with diſdain: and a youth of miſery was concluded with an old age of elegance, affluence, and eaſe.
IT is allowed on all hands, that our Engliſh divines receive a more liberal education, and improve that education, by frequent ſtudy, more than any others of this reverend profeſſion in Europe. In general, alſo, it may be obſerved, that a greater degree of gentility is affixed to the character of a ſtudent in England than elſewhere; by which means our clergy have an opportunity of ſeeing better company while young, and of ſooner wearing off thoſe prejudices which they are apt to imbibe even in the beſt regulated univerſities, and which may be juſtly termed the vulgar errors of the wiſe.
Yet, with all theſe advantages, it is very obvious, that the clergy are no where ſo little thought of, by the populace, as here; and, though our divines are foremoſt, with reſpect to abilities, yet they are found laſt in the effects of their miniſtry; [Page 89] the vulgar, in general, appearing no way impreſſed with a ſenſe of religious duty. I am not for whining at the depravity of the times, or for endeavouring to paint a proſpect more gloomy than in nature; but certain it is, no perſon who has travelled will contradict me, when I aver, that the lower orders of mankind, in other countries, teſtify, on every occaſion, the profoundeſt awe of religion; while in England they are ſcarcely awakened into a ſenſe of its duties, even in circumſtances of the greateſt diſtreſs.
This diſſolute and fearleſs conduct foreigners are apt to attribute to climate and conſtitution; may not the vulgar being pretty much neglected in our exhortations from the pulpit, be a conſpiring cauſe? Our divines ſeldom ſtoop to their mean capacities; and they who want inſtruction moſt, find leaſt in our religious aſſemblies.
Whatever may become of the higher orders of mankind, who are generally poſſeſſed of collateral motives to virtue, the vulgar ſhould be particularly regarded, whoſe behaviour in civil life is totally hinged upon their hopes and fears. Thoſe who conſtitute the baſis of the great fabric of ſociety, ſhould be particularly regarded; for, in policy, as in architecture, ruin is moſt fatal when it begins from the bottom.
Men of real ſenſe and underſtanding prefer a prudent mediocrity to a precarious popularity; and, fearing to outdo their duty, leave it half done. Their diſcourſes from the pulpit are generally dry, methodical, and unaffecting; delivered with the moſt inſipid calmneſs; inſomuch, that, ſhould the peaceful preacher lift his head over the cuſhion, which alone he ſeems to addreſs, he might diſcover his audience, inſtead of being awakened to remorſe, actually ſleeping over his methodical and laboured compoſition.
This method of preaching is, however, by ſome called an addreſs to reaſon, and not to the paſſions; this is ſtiled the making of converts from conviction: but ſuch are indifferently acquainted with human nature, who are not ſenſible, [Page 90] that men ſeldom reaſon about their debaucheries till they are committed; reaſon is but a weak antagoniſt when headlong paſſion dictates; in all ſuch caſes we ſhould arm one paſſion againſt another; it is with the human mind as in nature, from the mixture of two oppoſites the reſult is moſt frequently neutral tranquility. Thoſe who attempt to reaſon us out of our follies, begin at the wrong end, ſince the attempt naturally preſuppoſes us capable of reaſon; but to be made capable of this, is one great point of the cure.
There are but few talents requiſite to become a popular preacher, for the people are eaſily pleaſed if they ſee any endeavours in the orator to pleaſe them; the meaneſt qualifications will work this effect, if the preacher ſincerely ſets about it. Perhaps little, indeed very little more is required, than ſincerity and aſſurance; and a becoming ſincerity is always certain of producing a becoming aſſurance. ‘"Si vis me flere, dolendum eſt primum tibi ipſi,"’ is ſo trite a quotation, that it almoſt demands an apology to repeat it; yet, though all allow the juſtice of the remark, how few do we find put it in practice! Our orators, with the moſt faulty baſhfulneſs, ſeem impreſſed rather with an awe of their audience than with a juſt reſpect for the truths they are about to deliver; they, of all profeſſions, ſeem the moſt baſhful, who have the greateſt right to glory in their commiſſion.
The French preachers generally aſſume all that dignity which becomes men who are ambaſſadors from Chriſt: the Engliſh divines, like erroneous envoys, ſeem more ſolicitous not to offend the court to which they are ſent, than to drive home the intereſts of their employer. The biſhop of Maſillon, in the firſt ſermon he ever preached, found the whole audience, upon his getting into the pulpit, in a diſpoſition no way favourable to his intentions; their nods, whiſpers, or drowſy behaviour, ſhewed him that there was no great profit to be expected from his ſowing in a ſoil ſo improper; however, he ſoon changed the diſpoſition of his audience by the [Page 91] manner of his beginning: ‘"If,"’ ſays he, ‘"a cauſe, the moſt important that could be conceived, were to be tried at the bar before qualified judges; if this cauſe intereſted ourſelves in particular; if the eyes of the whole kingdom were fixed upon the event; if the moſt eminent counſel were employed on both ſides; and if we had heard from our infancy of this yet undetermined trial; would you not all ſit with due attention, and warm expectation, to the pleadings on each ſide? Would not all your hopes and fears be hinged upon the final deciſion? And yet, let me tell you, you have this moment a cauſe of much greater importance before you; a cauſe where not one nation, but all the world, are ſpectators; tried, not before a fallible tribunal, but the awful throne of Heaven, where not your temporal and tranſitory intereſts are the ſubject of debate, but your eternal happineſs or miſery, where the cauſe is ſtill undetermined; but, perhaps, the very moment I am ſpeaking may fix the irrevocable decree that ſhall laſt for ever; and yet, notwithſtanding all this, you can hardly ſit with patience, to hear the tidings of your own ſalvation; I plead the cauſe of Heaven, and yet I am ſcarcely attended to,"’ &c.
The ſtile, the abruptneſs of a beginning like this, in the cloſet would appear abſurd; but in the pulpit it is attended with the moſt laſting impreſſions: that ſtile which, in the cloſet, might juſtly be called flimſy, ſeems the true mode of eloquence here. I never read a fine compoſition, under the title of a ſermon, that I do not think the author has miſcalled his piece; for the talents to be uſed in writing well, entirely differ from thoſe of ſpeaking well. The qualifications for ſpeaking, as has been already obſerved, are eaſily acquired; they are accompliſhments which may be taken up by every candidate who will be at the pains of ſtooping. Impreſſed with a ſenſe of the truths he is about to deliver, a preacher diſregards the applauſe or the contempt of his audience, and [Page 92] he inſenſibly aſſumes a juſt and manly ſincerity. With this talent alone we ſee what crouds are drawn around enthuſiaſts, even deſtitute of common-ſenſe; what numbers converted to Chriſtianity. Folly may ſometimes ſet an example for wiſdom to practiſe, and our regular divines may borrow inſtruction from even methodiſts, who go their circuits, and preach prizes among the populace. Even Whitefield may be placed as a model to ſome of our young divines; let them join to their own good ſenſe his earneſt manner of delivery.
It will be perhaps be objected, that, by confining the excellencies of a preacher to proper aſſurance, earneſtneſs, and openneſs of ſtyle, I make the qualifications too trifling for eſtimation: there will be ſomething called oratory brought up on this occaſion; action, attitude, grace, elocution, may be repeated as abſolutely neceſſary to complete the character; but let us not be deceived; common-ſenſe is ſeldom ſwayed by fine tones, muſical periods, juſt attitudes, or the diſplay of a white handkerchief; oratorial behaviour, except in very able hands indeed, generally ſinks into aukward and paltry affectation.
It muſt be obſerved, however, that theſe rules are calculated only for him who would inſtruct the vulgar, who ſtand in moſt need of inſtruction; to addreſs philoſophers, and to obtain the character of a polite preacher among the polite—a much more uſeleſs, though more ſought-for character—requires a different method of proceeding. All I ſhall obſerve on this head is, to entreat the polemic divine, in his controverſy with the Deiſts, to act rather offenſively than to defend; to puſh home the grounds of his belief, and the impracticability of theirs, rather than to ſpend time in ſolving the objections of every opponent. ‘"It is ten to one,"’ ſays a late writer on the art of war, ‘"but that the aſſailant who attacks the enemy in his trenches is always victorious."’
Yet, upon the whole, our clergy might employ themſelves [Page 93] more to the benefit of ſociety, by declining all controverſy, than by exhibiting even the profoundeſt ſkill in polemic diſputes; their conteſts with each other often turn on ſpeculative trifles; and their diſputes with the Deiſts are almoſt at an end, ſince they can have no more than victory, and that they are already poſſeſſed of, as their antagoniſts have been driven into a confeſſion of the neceſſity of revelation, or an open avowal of atheiſm. To continue the diſpute longer would only endanger it; the ſceptic is ever expert at puzzling a debate which he finds himſelf unable to continue; ‘"and like an Olympic boxer, generally fights beſt when undermoſt."’
I HAVE frequently been amazed at the ignorance of almoſt all the European travellers, who have penetrated any conſiderable way eaſtward into Aſia. They all have been influenced either by motives of commerce or piety, and their accounts are ſuch as might reaſonably be expected from men of a very narrow or very prejudiced education, the dictates of ſuperſtition, or the reſult of ignorance. Is it not ſurpriſing, that, of ſuch a variety of adventurers, not one ſingle philoſopher ſhould be found among the number? For, as to the travels of Gemelli, the learned are long agreed that the whole is but an impoſture.
There is ſcarce any country, how rude or uncultivated ſoever, where the inhabitants are not poſſeſſed of ſome peculiar ſecrets, either in nature or art, which might be tranſplanted with ſucceſs: thus, for inſtance, in Siberian Tartary, the natives extract a ſtrong ſpirit from milk, which is a ſecret probably unknown to the chymiſts of Europe. In the moſt [Page 94] ſavage parts of India they are poſſeſſed of the ſecret of dying vegetable ſubſtances ſcarlet, and likewiſe that of refining lead into a metal, which, for hardneſs and colour, is little inferior to ſilver; not one of which ſecrets but would, in Europe, make a man's fortune. The power of the Aſiatics in producing winds, or bringing down rain, the Europeans are apt to treat as fabulous, becauſe they have no inſtances of the like nature among themſelves; but they would have treated the ſecrets of gunpowder, and the mariner's compaſs, in the ſame manner, had they been told the Chineſe uſed ſuch arts before the invention was common with themſelves at home.
Of all the Engliſh philoſophers, I moſt reverence Bacon, that great and hardy genius: he it is who, undaunted by the ſeeming difficulties that oppoſe, prompts human curioſity to examine every part of nature; and even exhorts man to try whether he cannot ſubject the tempeſt, the thunder, and even earthquakes, to human controul. Oh! had a man of his daring ſpirit, of his genius, penetration, and learning, travelled to thoſe countries which have been viſited only by the ſuperſtitious and mercenary, what might not mankind expect! How would he enlighten the regions to which he travelled! And what a variety of knowledge and uſeful improvement would he not bring back in exchange!
There is probably no country ſo barbarous, that would not diſcloſe all it knew, if it received equivalent information; and I am apt to think, that a perſon, who was ready to give more knowledge than he received, would be welcome whereever he came. All his care in travelling ſhould only be to ſuit his intellectual banquet to the people with whom he converſed: he ſhould not attempt to teach the unlettered Tartar aſtronomy, nor yet inſtruct the polite Chineſe in the arts of ſubſiſtence: he ſhould endeavour to improve the barbarian in the ſecrets of living comfortably; and the inhabitant of a more refined country in the ſpeculative pleaſures of ſcience. How much more nobly would a philoſopher, thus employed, ſpend [Page 95] his time, than by ſitting at home, earneſtly intent upon adding one ſtar more to his catalogue, or one monſter more to his collection? or ſtill, if poſſible, more triflingly ſedulous in the incatenation of fleas, or the ſculpture of cherry-ſtones.
I never conſider this ſubject, without being ſurpriſed that none of thoſe ſocieties, ſo laudably eſtabliſhed in England for the promotion of arts and learning, have ever thought of ſending one of their members into the moſt eaſtern parts of Aſia, to make what diſcoveries he was able. To be convinced of the utility of ſuch an undertaking, let them but read the relations of their own travellers. It will there be found, that they are as often deceived themſelves, as they attempt to deceive others. The merchants tells us, perhaps, the price of different commodities, the methods of baleing them up, and the propereſt manner for an European to preſerve his health in the country. The miſſioner, on the other hand, informs us with what pleaſure the country to which he was ſent embraced Chriſtianity: and the numbers he converted; what methods he took to keep Lent in a region where there was no fiſh, or the ſhifts he made to celebrate the rites of his religion, in places where there was neither bread nor wine; ſuch accounts, with the uſual appendage of marriages and funerals, inſcriptions, rivers, and mountains, make up the whole of an European traveller's diary; but as to all the ſecrets of which the inhabitants are poſſeſſed, thoſe are univerſally attributed to magic; and when the traveller can give no other account of the wonders he ſees performed, he very contentedly aſcribes them to the devil.
It was an uſual obſervation of Boyle, the Engliſh chymiſt, that, if every artiſt would but diſcover what new obſervations occured to him in the exerciſe of his trade, philoſophy would thence gain innumerable improvements. It may be obſerved, with ſtill greater juſtice, that, if the uſeful knowledge of every country, howſoever barbarous, was gleaned by a judicious obſerver, the advantages would be ineſtimable. Are [Page 96] there not, even in Europe, many uſeful inventions, known or practiſed but in one place? Their inſtrument, as an example, for cutting down corn in Germany, is much more handy and expeditious, in my opinion, than the ſickle uſed in England. The cheap and expeditious manner of making vinegar, without previous fermentation, is known only in a part of France. If ſuch diſcoveries therefore remain ſtill to be known at home, what funds of knowledge might not be collected in countries yet unexplored, or only paſſed through by ignorant travellers in haſty caravans?
The caution with which foreigners are received in Aſia, may be alledged as an objection to ſuch a deſign. But how readily have ſeveral European merchants found admiſſion into regions the moſt ſuſpicious, under the character of Sanjapins or northern pilgrims? To ſuch, not even China itſelf denies acceſs.
To ſend out a traveller properly qualified for theſe purpoſes, might be an object of national concern: it would, in ſome meaſure, repair the breaches made by ambition; and might ſhew that there were ſtill ſome who boaſted a greater name than that of patriots, who profeſſed themſelves lovers of men.
The only difficulty would remain in chuſing a proper perſon for ſo arduous an enterprize. He ſhould be a man of a philoſophical turn, one apt to deduce conſequences of general utility from particular occurrences, neither ſwoln with pride, nor hardened by prejudice; neither wedded to one particular ſyſtem, nor inſtructed only in one particular ſcience; neither wholly a botaniſt, nor quite an antiquarian: his mind ſhould be tinctured with miſcellaneous knowledge, and his manners humaniſed by an intercourſe with men. He ſhould be, in ſome meaſure, an enthuſiaſt to the deſign; fond of travelling, from a rapid imagination, and an innate love of change; furniſhed with a body capable of ſuſtaining every fatigue, and a heart not eaſily terrified at danger.
THE improvements we make in mental acquirements, only render us each day more ſenſible of the defects of our conſtitution: with this in view, therefore, let us often recur to the amuſements of youth; endeavour to forget age and wiſdom, and, as far as innocence goes, be as much a boy as the beſt of them.
Let idle declaimers mourn over the degeneracy of the age; but, in my opinion, every age is the ſame. This I am ſure of, that man, in every ſeaſon, is a poor fretful being, with no other means to eſcape the calamities of the times, but by endeavouring to forget them; for, if he attempts to reſiſt, he is certainly undone. If I feel poverty and pain, I am not ſo hardy as to quarrel with the executioner, even while under correction: I find myſelf no way diſpoſed to make fine ſpeeches, while I am making wry faces. In a word, let me drink when the fit is on, to make me inſenſible; and drink when it is over, for joy that I feel pain no longer.
The character of old Falſtaff, even with all his faults, gives me more conſolation than the moſt ſtudied efforts of wiſdom: I here behold an agreeable old fellow, forgetting age, and ſhewing me the way to be young at ſixty-five. Sure I am well able to be as merry, though not ſo comical, as he.—Is it not in my power to have, though not ſo much wit, at leaſt as much vivacity?—Age, care, wiſdom, reflection, begone!—I give you to the winds. Let's have t'other bottle: here's to the memory of Shakeſpear, Falſtaff, and all the merry men of Eaſt-cheap.
Such were the reflections that naturally aroſe while I ſat at the Boar's-head tavern, ſtill kept at Eaſt-cheap. Here, by a pleaſant fire, in the very room where old Sir John Falſtaff [Page 98] cracked his jokes, in the very chair which was ſometimes honoured by prince Henry, and ſometimes polluted by his immoral merry companions, I ſat and ruminated on the follies of youth; wiſhed to be young again; but was reſolved to make the beſt of life while it laſted, and now and then compared paſt and preſent times together. I conſidered myſelf as the only living repreſentative of the old knight, and tranſported my imagination back to the times when the prince and he gave life to the revel, and made even debauchery not diſguſting. The room alſo conſpired to throw my reflections back into antiquity: the oak floor, the Gothic windows, and the ponderous chimney-piece, had long withſtood the tooth of time: the watchman had gone twelve: my companions had all ſtolen off, and none now remained with me but the landlord. From him I could have wiſhed to know the hiſtory of a tavern that had ſuch a long ſucceſſion of cuſtomers: I could not help thinking that an account of this kind would be a pleaſing contraſt of the manners of different ages; but my landlord could give me no information. He continued to doze and ſot, and tell a tedious ſtory, as moſt other landlords uſually do; and, though he ſaid nothing, yet was never ſilent: one good joke followed another good joke; and the beſt joke of all was generally begun towards the end of a bottle. I found at laſt, however, his wine and his converſation operate by degrees: he inſenſibly began to alter his appearance. His cravat ſeemed quilled into a ruff, and his breeches ſwelled out into a fardingale. I now fancied him changing ſexes: and, as my eyes began to cloſe in ſlumber, I imagined my fat landlord actually converted into as fat a landlady. However, ſleep made but few changes in my ſituation: the tavern, the apartment, and the table, continued as before; nothing ſuffered [...]utation but my hoſt, who was fairly altered into a gentlewoman, whom I knew to be dame Quickly, miſtreſs of this tavern in the days of Sir John; and the liquor we were drinking, which ſeemed converted into ſack and ſugar.
[Page 99] ‘'My dear Mrs Quickly,'’ cried I, (for I knew her perfectly well at firſt ſight) ‘'I am heartily glad to ſee you. How have you left Falſtaff, Piſtol, and the reſt of our friends below ſtairs? Brave and hearty, I hope?’ ‘"In good ſooth,"’ replied ſhe, ‘"he did deſerve to live for ever; but he maketh foul work on't where he hath flitted. Queen Proſerpine and he have quarrelled for his attempting a rape upon her divinity; and were it not that ſhe ſtill had bowels of compaſſion, it more than ſeems probable he might have been now ſprawling in Tartarus."’
I now found that ſpirits ſtill preſerve the frailties of the fleſh; and that, according o the laws of criticiſm and dreaming, ghoſts have been known to be guilty of even more than platonic affection: wherefore, as I found her too much moved on ſuch a topic to proceed, I was reſolved to change the ſubject; and deſiring ſhe would pledge me in a bumper, obſerved, with a ſigh, that our ſack was nothing now to what it was in former days: ‘'Ah, Mrs Quickly, thoſe were merry times when you drew ſack for prince Henry: men were twice as ſtrong, and twice as wiſe, and much braver, and ten thouſand times more charitable than now. Thoſe were the times! The battle of Agincourt was a victory indeed! Ever ſince that we have only been degenerating; and I have lived to ſee the day when drinking is no longer faſhionable. When men wear clean ſhirts, and women ſhew their necks and arms, all are degenerated, Mrs Quickly; and we ſhall probably, in another century, be frittered away into beaus or monkeys. Had you been on earth to ſee what I have ſeen, it would congeal all the blood in your body (your ſoul, I mean.) Why, our very nobility now have the intolerable arrogance, in ſpite of what is every day remonſtrated from the preſs; our very nobility, I ſay, have the aſſurance to frequent aſſemblies, and preſume to be as merry as the vulgar. See, my very friends have ſcarce manhood enough to ſit to it till eleven; and I only am left to make a night on't. [Page 100] Pr'ythee do me the favour to conſole me a little for their abſence by the ſtory of your own adventures, or the hiſtory of the tavern where we are now ſitting: I fancy the narrative may have ſomething ſingular.'’
‘"Obſerve this apartment,"’ interrupted my companion; ‘"of neat device and excellent workmanſhip—In this room I have lived, child, woman and ghoſt, more than three hundred years: I am ordered by Pluto to keep an annual regiſter of every tranſaction that paſſeth here; and I have whilhom compiled three hundred tomes, which eftſoons may be ſubmitted to thy regards."’ ‘'None of your whilhoms or eftſoons's, Mrs Quickly, if you pleaſe,'’ I replied: ‘'I know you can talk every whit as well as I can; for, as you have lived here ſo long, it is but natural to ſuppoſe you ſhould learn the converſation of the company. Believe me, dame, at beſt, you have neither too much ſenſe, or too much language, to ſpare; ſo give me both as well as you can; but, firſt, my ſervice to you: old women ſhould water their clay a little now and then; and now to your ſtory.'’
‘"The ſtory of my own adventures,"’ replied the viſion, ‘"is but ſhort and unſatisfactory; for, believe me, a woman with a butt of ſack at her elbow, is never long-lived. Sir John's death afflicted me to ſuch a degree, that I ſincerely believe, to drown ſorrow, I drank more liquor myſelf than I drew for my cuſtomers: my grief was ſincere, and the ſack was excellent. The prior of a neighbouring convent (for our priors then had as much power as a Middleſex juſtice now) he, I ſay, it was who gave me a licence for keeping a diſorderly houſe; upon condition, that I ſhould never make hard bargains with the clergy, that he ſhould have a bottle of ſack every morning, and the liberty of confeſſing which of my girls he thought proper in private every night. I had continued, for ſeveral years, to pay this tribute; and he, it muſt be confeſſed, continued as rigorouſly to exact it. I grew old inſenſibly; my cuſtomers continued, however, to compliment [Page 101] my looks while I was by, but I could hear them ſay I was wearing when my back was turned. The prior, however, ſtill was conſtant, and ſo were half his convent: but one fatal morning he miſſed the uſual beverage; for I had incautiouſly drank over night the laſt bottle myſelf. What will you have on't?—The very next day Doll Tearſheet and I were ſent to the houſe of correction, and accuſed of keeping a low bawdy-houſe. In ſhort, we were ſo well purified there with ſtripes, mortification, and penance, that we were afterwards utterly unfit for worldly converſation: though ſack would have killed me, had I ſtuck to it, yet I ſoon died for want of a drop of ſomething comfortable, and fairly left my body to the care of the beadle.’
‘"Such is my own hiſtory; but that of the tavern, where I have ever ſince been ſtationed, affords greater variety. In the hiſtory of this, which is one of the oldeſt in London, you may view the different manners, pleaſures, and follies, of men at different periods. You will find mankind neither better nor worſe now than formerly: the vices of an uncivilized people are generally more deteſtable, though not ſo frequent, as thoſe in polite ſociety. It is the ſame luxury which formerly ſtuffed your alderman with plum-porridge, and now crams him with turtle. It is the ſame low ambition that formerly induced a courtier to give up his religion to pleaſe his king, and now perſuades him to give up his conſcience to pleaſe his miniſter. It is the ſame vanity that formerly ſtained our ladies cheeks and necks with woad, and now paints them with carmine. Your antient Briton formerly powdered his hair with red earth, like brick-duſt, in order to appear frightful: your modern Briton cuts his hair on the crown, and plaiſters it with hogs-lard and flour; and this to make him look killing. It is the ſame vanity, the ſame folly, and the ſame vice, only appearing different, as viewed through the glaſs of faſhion. In a word, all mankind are a—."’
‘'Sure the women is dreaming,'’ interrupted I. ‘'None of [Page 102] your reflections Mrs Quickly, if you love me; they only give me the ſpleen. Tell me your hiſtory at once. I love ſtories, but hate reaſoning.'’
‘"My body was no ſooner laid in the duſt, than the prior and ſeveral of his convent came to purify the tavern from the pollutions with which they ſaid I had filled it. Maſſes were ſaid in every room, reliques were expoſed upon every piece of furniture, and the whole houſe waſhed with a deluge of holy-water. My habitation was ſoon converted into a monaſtery; inſtead of cuſtomers now applying for ſack and ſugar, my rooms were crowded with images, reliques, ſaints, whores, and friars. Inſtead of being a ſcene of occaſional debauchery, it was now filled with continual lewdneſs. The prior led the faſhion, and the whole convent imitated his pious example. Matrons came hither to confeſs their ſins, and to commit new. Virgins came hither who ſeldom went virgins away. Nor was this a convent peculiarly wicked; every convent at that period was equally fond of pleaſure, and gave a boundleſs looſe to appetite. The laws allowed it; each prieſt had a right to a favourite companion, and a power of diſcarding her as often as he pleaſed. The laity grumbled, quarrelled with their wives and daughters, hated their confeſſors, and mantained them in opulence and eaſe. Theſe, theſe were happy times, Mr Rigmarole; theſe were times of piety, bravery, and ſimplicity!"’ ‘'Not ſo very happy, neither, good madam; pretty much like the preſent; theſe that labour, ſtarve; and thoſe that do nothing, wear fine cloaths and live in luxury.'’
‘"In this manner the fathers lived, for ſome years, without moleſtation; they tranſgreſſed, confeſſed themſelves to each other, and were forgiven. One evening, however, our prior keeping a lady of diſtinction ſomewhat too long at confeſſion, [Page 103] her huſband unexpectedly came in upon them, and teſtified all the indignation which was natural upon ſuch an occaſion. The prior aſſured the gentleman that it was the devil who had put it into his heart; and the lady was very certain, that ſhe was under the influence of magic, or ſhe could never have behaved in ſo unfaithful a manner. The huſband, however, was not to be put off by ſuch evaſions, but ſummoned both before the tribunal of juſtice. His proofs were flagrant, and he expected large damages. Such, indeed, he had a right to expect, were the tribunals of thoſe days conſtituted in the ſame manner as they are now. The cauſe of the prieſt was to be tried before an aſſembly of prieſts; and a layman was to expect redreſs only from their impartiality and candour. What plea then do you think the prior made to obviate this accuſation? He denied the fact, and charged the plaintiff to try the merits of their cauſe by ſingle combat. It was a little hard, you may be ſure, upon the poor gentleman, not only to be made a cuckold, but to be obliged to ſight a duel into the bargain; yet ſuch was the juſtice of the times. The prior threw down his glove, and the injured huſband was obliged to take it up, in token of his accepting the challenge.’
‘"Upon this, the prieſt ſupplied his champion, for it was not lawful for the clergy to fight; and the defendant and plaintiff, according to cuſtom, were put in priſon; both ordered to faſt and pray, every method being previouſly uſed to induce both to a confeſſion of the truth. After a month's impriſonment, the hair of each was cut, the bodies anointed with oil, the field of battle appointed and guarded by ſoldiers, while his majeſty preſided over the whole in perſon. Both the champions were ſworn not to ſeek victory either by fraud or magic. They prayed and confeſſed upon their knees; and after theſe ceremonies, the reſt was left to the courage and conduct of the combatants. As the champion whom the prior had pitched upon, had fought ſix or eight times upon ſimilar [Page 104] occaſions, it was no way extraordinary to find him victorious in the preſent combat. In ſhort, the huſband was diſcomfited; he was taken from the field of battle, ſtripped to his ſhirt, and, after one of his legs was cut off, as juſtice ordained in ſuch caſes, he was hanged as a terror to future offenders. Theſe, theſe were the times, Mr Rigmarole! you ſee how much more juſt, and wiſe, and valiant, our anceſtors were than us."’ ‘'I rather fancy, madam, that the times then were pretty much like our own; where a multiplicity of laws give a judge as much power as a want of law; ſince he is ever ſure to find among the number ſome to countenance his partiality.'’
‘"Our convent, victorious over their enemies, now give a looſe to every demonſtration of joy. The lady became a nun, the prior was made biſhop, and three Wickliffites were burned in the illuminations and fireworks that were made on the preſent occaſion. Our convent now began to enjoy a very high degree of reputation. There was not one in London that had the character of hating heretics ſo much as ours. Ladies of the firſt diſtinction choſe from our convent their confeſſors; in ſhort, it flouriſhed, and might have flouriſhed to this hour, but for a fatal accident which terminated in its overthrow. The lady whom the prior had placed in a nunnery, and whom he continued to viſit for ſome time with great punctuality, began at laſt to perceive that ſhe was quite forſaken. Secluded from converſation, as uſual, ſhe now entertained the viſions of a devotee; found herſelf ſtrangely diſturbed; but heſitated in determining whether ſhe was poſſeſſed by an angel or a daemon. She was not long in ſuſpence; for, upon vomiting a large quantity of crooked pins, and finding the palms of her hands turned outwards, ſhe quickly concluded that ſhe was poſſeſſed by the devil. She ſoon loſt entirely the uſe of ſpeech; and, when ſhe ſeemed to ſpeak, every body that was preſent perceived that her voice was not her own, but that of the devil [Page 105] within her. In ſhort, ſhe was bewitched; and all the difficulty lay in determining who it could be that bewitched her. The nuns and monks all demanded the magician's name, but the devil made no reply; for he knew they had no authority to aſk queſtions. By the rules of witchcraft, when an evil ſpirit has taken poſſeſſion, he may refuſe to anſwer any queſtions aſked him, unleſs they are put by a biſhop, and to theſe he is obliged to reply. A biſhop, therefore, was ſent for, and now the whole ſecret came out: the devil reluctantly owned that he was a ſervant of the prior; that, by his command, he reſided in his preſent habitation; and that, without his command, he was reſolved to keep in poſſeſſion. The biſhop was an able exorciſt; he drove the devil out by force of myſtical arms; the prior was arraigned for witchcraft; the witneſſes were ſtrong and numerous againſt him, not leſs than fourteen perſons being by, who had heard the devil talk Latin. There was no reſiſting ſuch a cloud of witneſſes; the prior was condemned; and he who had aſſiſted at ſo many burnings, was burned himſelf in turn. Theſe were times, Mr. Rigmarole; the people of thoſe times were not infidels, as now, but ſincere believers!"’ ‘'Equally faulty with ourſelves; they believed what the devil was pleaſed to tell them; and we ſeem reſolved, at laſt, to believe neither God nor devil.'’
‘"After ſuch a ſtain upon the convent, it was not to be ſuppoſed it could ſubſiſt any longer; the fathers were ordered to decamp, and the houſe was once again converted into a tavern. The king conferred it on one of his caſt miſtreſſes; ſhe was conſtituted landlady by royal authority; and, as the tavern was in the neighbourhood of the court, and the miſtreſs a very polite woman, it began to have more buſineſs than ever; and ſometimes took not leſs than four ſhillings a day.’
‘"But perhaps you are deſirous of knowing what were the peculiar qualifications of women of faſhion at that period; and in a deſcription of the preſent landlady, you will have a [Page 106] tolerable idea of all the reſt. This lady was the daughter of a nobleman, and received ſuch an education in the country as became her quality, beauty, and great expectations. She could make ſhifts and hoſe for herſelf and all the ſervants of the family, when ſhe was twelve years old. She knew the names of the four and twenty letters, ſo that it was impoſſible to bewitch her; and this was a greater piece of learning than any lady in the whole country could pretend to. She was always up early, and ſaw breakfaſt ſerved in the great hall by ſix o'clock. At this ſcene of feſtivity ſhe generally improved good-humour, by telling her dreams, relating ſtories of ſpirits, ſeveral of which ſhe herſelf had ſeen; and one of which ſhe was reported to have killed with a blackhafted knife. From hence ſhe uſually went to make paſtry in the larder, and here ſhe was followed by her ſweet-hearts, who were much helped on in converſation by ſtruggling with her for kiſſes. About ten, miſs generally went to play at hot-cockles and blindman's buff in the parlour; and when the young folks (for they ſeldom played at hot-cockles when grown old) were tired of ſuch amuſements, the gentlemen entertained miſs with the hiſtory of their greyhounds, bearbeatings, and victories at cudgel-playing. If the weather was fine, they ran at the ring, ſhot at butts, while miſs held in her hand a ribbon, with which ſhe adorned the conqueror. Her mental qualifications were exactly fitted to her external accompliſhments. Before ſhe was fifteen, ſhe could tell the ſtory of Jack the Giant Killer, could name every mountain that was inhabited by fairies, knew a witch at firſt ſight, and could repeat four Latin prayers without a prompter. Her dreſs was perfectly faſhionable; her arms and her hair were compleatly covered; a monſtrous ruff was put round her neck, ſo that her head ſeemed like that of John the Baptiſt in a charger. In ſhort, when compleatly equipped, her appearance was ſo very modeſt, that ſhe diſcovered little more than her noſe. Theſe were the times, Mr. Rigmarole; [Page 107] when every lady that had a good noſe might ſet up for a beauty; when every woman that could tell ſtories, might be cried up for a wit."’ ‘'I am as much diſpleaſed at thoſe dreſſes that conceal too much, as at thoſe which diſcover too much: I am equally an enemy to a female dunce, or a female pedant.'’
‘"You may be ſure that miſs choſe a huſband with qualifications reſembling her own; ſhe pitched upon a courtier, equally remarkable for hunting and drinking, who had given ſeveral proofs of his great virility among the daughters of his tenants and domeſtics. They fell in love at firſt ſight (for ſuch was the gallantry of the times), were married, came to court, and madam appeared with ſuperior qualifications. The king was ſtruck with her beauty. All property was at the king's command; the huſband was obliged to reſign all pretenſions in his wife to the ſovereign whom God had anointed to commit adultery where he thought proper. The king loved her for ſome time; but, at length, repenting of his miſdeeds, and inſtigated by his father-confeſſor, from a principle of conſcience removed her from his levee to the bar of this tavern, and took a new miſtreſs in her ſtead. Let it not ſurpriſe you to behold the miſtreſs of a king degraded to ſo humble an office. As the ladies had no mental accompliſhments, a good face was enough to raiſe them to the royal couch: and ſhe who was this day a royal miſtreſs, might, the next, when her beauty palled upon enjoyment, be doomed to infamy and want.’
‘"Under the care of this lady, the tavern grew into great reputation; the courtiers had not yet learned to game, but they paid it off by drinking; drunkenneſs is ever the vice of a barbarous, and gaming of a luxurious age. They had not ſuch frequent entertainments as the moderns have, but they were more expenſive and more luxurious in thoſe they had. All their fooleries were more elaborate and more admired by the great and the vulgar than now. A courtier has been known to ſpend his whole fortune at a ſingle feaſt, a [Page 108] king to mortgage his dominions to furniſh out the frippery of a tournament. There were certain days appointed for riot and debauchery, and to be ſober at ſuch times was reputed a crime. Kings themſelves ſet the example; and I have ſeen monarchs in this room drunk before the entertainment was half concluded. Theſe were the times, Sir, when kings kept miſtreſſes, and got drunk in public; they were too plain and ſimple in thoſe happy times to hide their vices, and act the hypocrite, as now."’—‘'Lord! Mrs. Quickly,'’ interrupting her, ‘'I expected to have heard a ſtory, and here you are going to tell me I know not what of times and vices; pr'ythee let me entreat thee once more to wave reflections, and give thy hiſtory without deviation.'’
‘"No lady upon earth,"’ continued my viſionary correſpondent, ‘"knew how to put off her damaged wine or women with more art than ſhe. When theſe grew flat, or thoſe paltry, it was but changing the names; the wine became excellent, and the girls agreeable. She was alſo poſſeſſed of the engaging leer, the chuck under the chin, winked at a doubleentendre, could nick the opportunity of calling for ſomething comfortable, and perfectly underſtood the diſcreet moments when to withdraw. The gallants of thoſe times pretty much reſembled the bloods of ours; they were fond of pleaſure, but quite ignorant of the art of refining upon it: thus a court-bawd of thoſe times reſembled the common low-lived harridan of a modern bagnio. Witneſs, ye powers of debauchery, how often I have been preſent at the various appearances of drunkenneſs, riot, guilt, and brutality! A tavern is a true picture of human infirmity; in hiſtory we find only one ſide of the age exhibited to our view; but in the accounts of a tavern we ſee every age equally abſurd and equally vicious.’
‘"Upon this lady's deceaſe the tavern was ſucceſſively occupied by adventurers, bullies, pimps, and gameſters. Towards the concluſion of the reign of Henry VII. gaming was [Page 109] more univerſally practiſed in England than now. Kings themſelves have been known to play off, at Primero, not only all the money and jewels they could part with, but the very images in churches. The laſt Henry played away, in this very room, not only the four great bells of St. Paul's cathedral, but the fine image of St. Paul, which ſtood upon the top of the ſpire, to Sir Miles Partridge, who took them down the next day, and ſold them by auction. Have you then any cauſe to regret being born in the times you now live? Or do you ſtill believe that human nature continues to run on declining every age? If we obſerve the actions of the buſy part of mankind, your anceſtors will be found infinitely more groſs, ſervile, and even diſhoneſt, than you. If, forſaking hiſtory, we only trace them in their hours of amuſement and diſſipation, we ſhall find them more ſenſual, more entirely devoted to pleaſure, and infinitely more ſelfiſh.’
‘"The laſt hoſteſs of note I find upon record was Jane Rouſe. She was born among the lower ranks of the people; and, by frugality and extreme complaiſance, contrived to acquire a moderate fortune; this ſhe might have enjoyed for many years, had ſhe not unfortunately quarrelled with one of her neighbours, a woman who was in high repute for ſanctity through the whole pariſh. In the times of which I ſpeak, two women ſeldom quarrelled, that one did not accuſe the other of witchcraft, and ſhe who firſt contrived to vomit crooked pins was ſure to come off victorious. The ſcandal of a modern tea-table differs widely from the ſcandal of former times; the faſcination of a lady's eyes, at preſent, is regarded as a compliment; but, if a lady, formerly, ſhould be accuſed of having witchcraft in her eyes, it were much better both for her ſoul and body, that ſhe had no eyes at all.’
‘"In ſhort, Jane Rouſe was accuſed of witchcraft; and tho' ſhe made the beſt defence ſhe could, it was all to no purpoſe; ſhe was taken from her own bar to the bar of the Old Bailey, [Page 110] condemned, and executed accordingly. Theſe were times indeed! when even women could not ſcold in ſafety.’
‘"Since her time the tavern underwent ſeveral revolutions, according to the ſpirit of the times, or the diſpoſition of the reigning monarch. It was this day a brothel, and the next a conventicle for enthuſiaſts. It was one year noted for harbouring whigs, and the next infamous for a retreat to tories. Some years ago it was in high vogue, but at preſent it ſeems declining. This only may be remarked in general, that, whenever taverns flouriſh moſt, the times are then moſt extravagant and luxurious."’—‘'Lord! Mrs Quickly,'’ interrupted I, ‘'you have really deceived me; I expected a romance, and here you have been this half hour giving me only a deſcription of the ſpirit of the times; if you have nothing but tedious remarks to communicate, ſeek ſome other hearer; I am determined to hearken only to ſtories.'’
I had ſcarce concluded, when my eyes and ears ſeemed opened to my landlord, who had been all this while giving an account of the repairs he had made in the houſe; and was now got into the ſtory of the cracked glaſs in the dining-room.
WHATEVER may be the merits of the Engliſh in other ſciences, they ſeem peculiarly excellent in the art of healing. There is ſcarcely a diſorder incident to humanity, againſt which our advertiſing doctors are not poſſeſſed with a moſt infalliable antidote. The profeſſors of other arts confeſs the inevitable intricacy of things; talk with doubt, and decide with heſitation; but doubting is entirely unknown in medicine; [Page 111] the advertiſing profeſſors here delight in caſes of difficulty: be the diſorder never ſo deſperate or radical, you will find numbers in every ſtreet, who, by levelling a pill at the part affected, promiſe a certain cure, without loſs of time, knowledge of a bed-fellow, or hinderance of buſineſs.
When I conſider the aſſiduity of this profeſſion, their benevolence amazes me. They not only in general, give their medicines for half value, but uſe the moſt perſuaſive remonſtrances to induce the ſick to come and be cured. Sure there muſt be ſomething ſtrangely obſtinate in an Engliſh patient, who refuſes ſo much health upon ſuch eaſy terms! Does he take a pride in being bloated with a dropſy? Does he find pleaſure in the alternations of an intermittent fever? Or feel as much ſatisfaction in nurſing up his gout, as he found pleaſure in acquiring it? He muſt, otherwiſe he would never reject ſuch repeated aſſurances of inſtant relief. What can be more convincing than the manner in which the ſick are invited to be well? The doctor firſt begs the moſt earneſt attention of the public to what he is going to propoſe; he ſolenmly affirms the pill was never found to want ſucceſs; he produces a liſt of thoſe who have been reſcued from the grave by taking it. Yet, notwithſtanding all this, there are many here who now and then think proper to be ſick: only ſick did I ſay? There are ſome who even think proper to die! Yes, by the head of Confucius, they die; though they might have purchaſed the health-reſtoring ſpecific for half a crown at every corner.
I can never enough admire the ſagacity of this country for the encouragement given to the profeſſors of this art; with what indulgence does ſhe foſter up thoſe of her own growth, and kindly cheriſh thoſe that come from abroad! Like a ſkilful gardener ſhe invites them from every foreign climate to herſelf. Here every great exotic ſtrikes root as ſoon as imported, and feels the genial beam of favour; while the mighty metropolis, like one vaſt munificent dunghill, receives them [Page 112] indiſcriminately to her breaſt, and ſupplies each with more than native nouriſhment.
In other countries, the phyſician pretends to cure diſorders in the lump; the ſame doctor who combats the gout in the toe, ſhall pretend to preſcribe for a pain in the head; and he who at one time cures a conſumption, ſhall at another give drugs for a dropſy. How abſurd and ridiculous! This is being a mere jack of all trades. Is the animal machine leſs complicated than a braſs pin? Not leſs than ten different hands are required to make a braſs pin; and ſhall the body be ſet right by one ſingle operator?
The Engliſh are ſenſible of the force of this reaſoning; they have therefore one doctor for the eyes, another for the toes; they have their ſciatic doctors, and inoculating doctors; they have one doctor who is modeſtly content with ſecuring them from bug-bites, and five hundred who preſcribe for the bite of mad dogs.
But as nothing pleaſes curioſity more than anecdotes of the great, however minute or trifling, I muſt preſent you, inadequate as my abilities are to the ſubject, with an account of one or two of thoſe perſonages who lead in this honourable profeſſion.
The firſt upon the liſt of glory is Doctor Richard Rock, F. U. N. This great man is ſhort of ſtature, is fat, and waddles as he walks. He always wears a white three-tailed wig, nicely combed, and frizzled upon each cheek. Sometimes he carries a cane, but a hat never; it is indeed very remarkable that this extraordinary perſonage ſhould never wear a hat; but ſo it is, an hat he never wears. He is uſually drawn, at the top of his own bills, ſitting in his armchair, holding a little bottle between his finger and thumb, and ſurrounded with rotten teeth, nippers, pills, pacquets, and gally-pots. No man can promiſe fairer or better than he; for, as he obſerves, ‘"Be your diſorder never ſo far gone, be under no uneaſineſs, make yourſelf quite eaſy, I can cure you."’
[Page 113] The next in fame, though by ſome reckoned of equal pretenſions, is Doctor Timothy Franks, F.O.G.H. living in the Old Bailey. As Rock is remarkably ſquab, his great rival Franks is as remarkably tall. He was born in the year of the Chriſtian Aera 1692, and is, while I now write, exactly ſixty-eight years, three months, and four days old. Age, however, has no ways impaired his uſual health and vivacity; I am told he generally walks with his breaſt open. This gentleman, who is of a mixed reputation, is particularly remarkable for a becoming aſſurance, which carries him gently through life; for, except Doctor Rock, none are more bleſſed with the advantages of face than Doctor Franks.
And yet the great have their foibles as well as the little. I am almoſt aſhamed to mention it.—Let the foibles of the great reſt in peace.—Yet I muſt impart the whole.—Theſe two great men are actually now at variance; like mere men, mere common mortals. Rock adviſes the world to beware of bog-trotting quacks; Franks retorts the wit and the ſarcaſm, by fixing on his rival the odious appellation of Dumpling Dick. He calls the ſerious Doctor Rock, Dumpling Dick! Head of Confucius, what profanation! Dumpling Dick! What a pity, ye powers, that the learned, who were born mutually to aſſi [...]t in enlightening the world ſhould thus differ among themſelves, and make even the profeſſion ridiculous! Sure the world is wide enough, at leaſt, for two great perſonages to figure in; men of ſcience ſhould leave controverſy to the little world below them; and then we might ſee Rock and Franks walking together, hand in hand, ſmiling onward to immortality.
I AM fond of amuſement in whatever company it is to be found; and wit, though dreſſed in rags, is ever pleaſing to me. I went ſome days ago to take a walk in St. James's Park, about the hour in which company leave it to go to dinner. There were but few in the walks, and thoſe who ſtayed, ſeemed by their looks rather more willing to forget that they had an appetite, than gain one. I ſat down on one of the benches, at the other end of which was ſeated a man in very ſhabby cloaths.
We continued to groan, to hem, and to cough, as uſual upon ſuch occaſions; and, at laſt, ventured upon converſation. ‘"I beg pardon, ſir,"’ cried I, ‘"but I think I have ſeen you before; your face is familiar to me."’ ‘"Yes ſir,"’ replied he, ‘"I have a good familiar face, as my friends tell me. I am as well known in every town in England as the dromedery, or live crocodile. You muſt underſtand, ſir, that I have been theſe ſixteen years Merry Andrew to a puppet-ſhew; laſt Bartholomew fair my maſter and I quarrelled, beat each other, and parted; he to ſell his puppets to the pin-cuſhionmakers in Roſemary-lane, and I to ſtarve in St. James's Park."’
‘"I am ſorry, ſir, that a perſon of your appearance ſhould labour under any difficulties."’ ‘"O, ſir,"’ returned he, ‘"my appearance is very much at your ſervice; but, though I cannot boaſt of eating much, yet there are few that are merrier: if I had twenty thouſand a year, I ſhould be very merry; and, thank the fates, though not worth a groat, I am very merry ſtill. If I have three pence in my pocket, I never refuſe to be my three halfpence; and, if I have no money, I never ſcorn to be treated by any that are kind enough to pay my reckoning. What think you, ſir, of a [Page 115] ſteak and a tankard? You ſhall treat me now, and I will treat you again when I find you in the Park in love with eating, and without money to pay for a dinner."’
As I never refuſe a ſmall expence for the ſake of a merry companion, we inſtantly adjourned to a neighbouring alehouſe; and, in a few moments, had a frothing tankard, and a ſmoaking ſteak ſpread on the table before us. It is impoſſible to expreſs how much the ſight of ſuch good cheer improved my companion's vivacity. ‘"I like this dinner, ſir,"’ ſays he, ‘"for three reaſons: firſt, becauſe I am naturally fond of beef; ſecondly, becauſe I am hungry; and, thirdly and laſtly, becauſe I get it for nothing: no meat eats ſo ſweet as that for which we do not pay."’
He therefore now fell to, and his appetite ſeemed to correſpond with his inclination. After dinner was over, he obſerved that the ſteak was tough; ‘"and yet ſir,"’ returns he, ‘"bad as it was, it ſeemed a rump-ſteak to me. O the delights of poverty and a good appetite! We beggars are the very fondlings of nature; the rich ſhe treats like an arrant ſtepmother; they are pleaſed with nothing; cut a ſteak from what part you will, and it is inſupportably tough; dreſs it up with pickles, and even pickles cannot procure them an appetite. But the whole creation is filled with good things for the beggar; Calvert's butt out-taſtes champagne, and Sedgeley's home-brewed excels tokay. Joy, joy, my blood, though our eſtates lie no where, we have fortunes whereever we go. If an inundation ſweeps away half the grounds of Cornwall, I am content; I have no lands there: if the ſtocks ſink, that gives me no uneaſineſs; I am no Jew."’ The fellow's vivacity, joined to his poverty, I own raiſed my curioſity to know ſomething of his life and circumſtances; and I entreated that he would indulge my deſire.—‘"That I will, ſir,"’ ſaid he, ‘"and welcome; only let us drink to prevent our ſleeping; let us have another tankard; for, ah, how charming a tankard looks when full!’
[Page 116] ‘"You muſt know, then, that I am very well deſcended; my anceſtors have made ſome noiſe in the world; for my mother cried oyſters, and my father beat a drum: I am told we have even had ſome trumpeters in our family. Many a nobleman cannot ſhew ſo reſpectful a genealogy: but that is neither here nor there. As I was their only child, my father deſigned to breed me up to his own employment, which was that of drummer to a puppet-ſhew. Thus the whole employment of my younger years was that of interpreter to Punch and king Solomon in all his glory. But, though my father was very fond of inſtructing me in beating all the marches and points of war, I made no very great progreſs, becauſe I naturally had no ear for muſic; ſo at the age of fifteen, I went and liſted for a ſoldier. As I had ever hated beating a drum, ſo I ſoon found that I diſliked carrying a muſquet alſo; neither the one trade nor the other were to my taſte, for I was by nature fond of being a gentleman: beſides, I was obliged to obey my captain; he has his will, I have mine, and you have yours: now I very reaſonably concluded, that it was much more comfortable for a man to obey his own will than another's.’
‘"The life of a ſoldier ſoon therefore gave me the ſpleen; I aſked leave to quit the ſervice; but, as I was tall and ſtrong, my captain thanked me for my kind intention, and ſaid, becauſe he had a regard for me, we ſhould not part. I wrote to my father a very diſmal penitent letter, and deſired that he would raiſe money to pay for my diſcharge; but the good man was as fond of drinking as I was (Sir, my ſervice to you) and thoſe who are fond of drinking never pay for other people's diſcharges: in ſhort, he never anſwered my letter. What could be done? If I have not money, ſaid I to myſelf, to pay for my diſcharge, I muſt find an equivalent ſome other way; and that muſt be by running away. I deſerted, and that anſwered my purpoſe every bit as well as if I had bought my diſcharge.’
[Page 117] ‘"Well, I was now fairly rid of my military employment; I ſold my ſoldier's cloaths, bought worſe, and, in order not to be overtaken, took the moſt unfrequented roads poſſible. One evening, as I was entering a village, I perceived a man, whom I afterwards found to be the curate of the pariſh, thrown from his horſe in a miry road, and almoſt ſmothered in the mud. He deſired my aſſiſtance; I gave it, and drew him out with ſome difficulty. He thanked me for my trouble, and was going off, but I followed him home, for I loved always to have a man thank me at his own door. The curate aſked an hundred queſtions; as whoſe ſon I was; from whence I came; and whether I would be faithful? I anſwered him greatly to his ſatisfaction; and gave myſelf one of the beſt characters in the world for ſobriety, (Sir, I have the honour of drinking your health) diſcretion, and fidelity. To make a long ſtory ſhort, he wanted a ſervant, and hired me. With him I lived but two months; we did not much like each other; I was fond of eating, and he gave me but little to eat: I loved a a pretty girl, and the old woman, my fellow-ſervant, was illnatured and ugly. As they endeavoured to ſtarve me between them, I made a pious reſolution to prevent their committing murder: I ſtole the eggs as ſoon as they were laid; I emptied every unfiniſhed bottle that I could lay my hands on; whatever eatable came in my way was ſure to diſappear: in ſhort, they found I would not do; ſo I was diſcharged one morning, and paid three ſhillings and ſix-pence for two months wages.’
‘"While my money was getting ready I employed myſelf in making preparations for my departure; two hens were hatching in an out-houſe, I went and took the eggs from habit, and, not to ſeparate the parents from the children, I lodged hens and all in my knapſack. After this piece of frugality, I returned to receive my money, and with my knapſack on my back, and a ſtaff in my hand, I bid adieu, with tears in my eyes, to my old benefactor. I had not gone far from the houſe, when I heard behind me the cry of Stop thief! but this [Page 118] only increaſed my diſpatch; it would have been fooliſh to ſtop, as I knew the voice could not be levelled at me. But hold, I think I paſſed thoſe months at the curate's without drinking; come, the times are dry, and may this be my poiſon if ever I ſpent two more pious, ſtupid months in all my life.’
‘"Well, after travelling ſome days, whom ſhould I light upon, but a company of ſtrolling players. The moment I ſaw them at a diſtance, my heart warmed to them; I had a ſort of natural love for every thing of the vagabond order: they were employed in ſettling their baggage, which had been overturned in a narrow way; I offered my aſſiſtance, which they accepted; and we ſoon became ſo well acquainted, that they took me as a ſervant. This was a paradiſe to me; they ſung, danced, drank, eat, and travelled, all at the ſame time. By the blood of the Mirabels, I thought I had never lived till then; I grew as merry as a grig, and laughed at every word that was ſpoken. They liked me as much as I liked them; I was a very good figure, as you ſee; and, though I was poor, I was not modeſt.’
‘"I love a ſtraggling life above all things in the world; ſometimes good, ſometimes bad; to be warm to-day, and cold to-morrow; to eat when one can get it, and drink when (the tankard is out) it ſtands before me. We arrived that evening at Tenterden, and took a large room at the Greyhound; where we reſolved to exhibit Romeo and Juliet, with the funeral proceſſion, the grave, and the garden ſcene. Romeo was to be performed by a gentleman from the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane; Juliet by a lady who had never appeared on any ſtage before; and I was to ſnuff the candles: all excellent in our way. We had figures enough, but the difficulty was to dreſs them. The ſame coat that ſerved Romeo, turned with the blue lining outwards, ſerved for his friend Mercutio; a large piece of crape ſufficed at once for Juliet's petticoat and pall: a peſtle and a mortar [Page 119] from a neighbouring apothecary's anſwered all the purpoſes of a bell; and our landlord's own family, wrapped in white ſheets, ſerved to fill up the proceſſion. In ſhort, there were but three figures among us that might be ſaid to be dreſſed with any propriety: I mean the nurſe, the ſtarved apothecary, and myſelf. Our performance gave univerſal ſatisfaction: the whole audience were enchanted with our powers.’
‘"There is one rule by which a ſtrolling-player may be ever ſecure of ſucceſs; that is, in our theatrical way of expreſſing it, to make a great deal of the character. To ſpeak and act as in common life, is not playing, nor is it what people come to ſee: natural ſpeaking, like ſweet wine, runs glibly over the palate, and ſcarce leaves any taſte behind it; but being high in a part reſembles vinegar, which grates upon the taſte, and one feels it while he is drinking. To pleaſe in town and country, the way is, to cry, wring, cringe into attitudes, mark the emphaſis, ſlap the pockets, and labour like one in the falling ſickneſs; that is the way to work for applauſe; that is the way to gain it.’
‘"As we received much reputation for our ſkill on this firſt exhibition, it was but natural for me to aſcribe part of the ſucceſs to myſelf; I ſnuffed the candles, and, let me tell you, that, without a candle-ſnuffer, the piece would loſe half its embelliſhments. In this manner we continued a fortnight, and drew tolerable houſes; but the evening before our intended departure, we gave out our very beſt piece, in which all our ſtrength was to be exerted. We had great expectations from this, and even doubled our prices, when behold one of the principal actors fell ill of a violent fever. This was a ſtroke like thunder to our little company: they were reſolved to go in a body, to ſcold the man for falling ſick at ſo inconvenient a time, and that too of a diſorder that threatened to be expenſive; I ſeized the moment, and offered to act the part myſelf in his ſtead. The caſe was deſperate; they accepted my offer; and I accordingly ſat down, [Page 120] with the part in my hand and a tankard before me (Sir, your health) and ſtudied the character, which was to be rehearſed the next day, and played ſoon after.’
‘"I found my memory exceſſively helped by drinking: I learned my part with aſtoniſhing rapidity, and bid adieu to ſnuffing candles ever after. I found that nature had deſigned me for nobler employments, and I was reſolved to take her when in the humour. We got together in order to rehearſe, and I informed my companions, maſters now no longer, of the ſurpriſing change I felt within me. ‘"Let the ſick man,"’ ſaid I, ‘"be under no uneaſineſs to get well again; I'll ſupply his place to univerſal ſatisfaction; he may even die if he thinks proper; I'll engage that he ſhall never be miſſed."’ I rehearſed before them, ſtrutted, ranted, and received applauſe. They ſoon gave out that a new actor of eminence was to appear, and immediately all the genteel places were beſpoke. Before I aſcended the ſtage, however, I concluded within myſelf, that, as I brought money to the houſe, I ought to have my ſhare in the profits. ‘"Gentlemen,"’ ſaid I, addreſſing our company, ‘"I don't pretend to direct you; far be it from me to treat you with ſo much ingratitude: you have publiſhed my name in the bills, with the utmoſt good-nature; and, as affairs ſtand, cannot act without me; ſo, gentlemen, to ſhew you my gratitude, I expect to be paid for my acting as much as any of you, otherwiſe I declare off. I'll brandiſh my ſnuffers, and clip candles as uſual."’ This was a very diſagreeable propoſal, but they found that it was impoſſible to refuſe it; it was irreſiſtable, it was adamant: they conſented, and I went on in king Bajazet: my frowning brows bound with a ſtocking ſtuffed into a turban, while on my captiv'd arms I brandiſhed a jack-chain.’
‘"Nature ſeemed to have fitted me for the part; I was tall, and had a loud voice; my very entrance excited univerſal applauſe; I looked round on the audience with a ſmile, and made a moſt low and graceful bow, for that is the rule among [Page 121] us. As it was a very paſſionate part, I invigorated my ſpirits with three full glaſſes (the tankard is almoſt out) of brandy. By Alla! it is almoſt inconceivable how I went through it; Tamerlane was but a fool to me; though he was ſometimes loud enough too; yet I was ſtill louder than he: but then, beſides, I had attitudes in abundance: in general I kept my arms folded up thus upon the pit of my ſtomach; it is the way at Drury-lane, and has always a fine effect. The tankard would ſink to the bottom before I could get thro' the whole of my merits: in ſhort, I came off like a prodigy; and, ſuch was my ſucceſs, that I could raviſh the laurels even from a ſirloin of beef. The principal gentlemen and ladies of the town came to me, after the play was over, to compliment me upon my ſucceſs; one praiſed my voice, another my perſon; ‘"Upon my word,"’ ſays the 'ſquire's lady, ‘"he will make one of the fineſt actors in Europe; I ſay it, and I think I am ſomething of a judge."’—Praiſe in the beginning is agreeable enough, and we receive it as a favour; but when it comes in great quantities we regard it only as a debt, which nothing but our merit could extort: inſtead of thanking them, I internally applauded myſelf. We were deſired to give our piece a ſecond time; we obeyed, and I was applauded even more than before.’
‘"At laſt we left the town, in order to be at a horſe-race at ſome diſtance from thence. I ſhall never think of Tenterden without tears of gratitude and reſpect. The ladies and gentlemen there, take my word for it, are very good judges of plays and actors. Come, let us drink their healths, if you pleaſe, ſir. We quitted the town, I ſay; and there was a wide difference between my coming in and going out; I entered the town a candle-ſnuffer, and I quitted it an hero!—Such is the world; little to-day, and great to-morrow. I could ſay a great deal more upon that ſubject, truly ſublime, upon the ups and downs of fortune; but it would give us both the ſpleen, and ſo I ſhall paſs it over.’
[Page 122] ‘"The races were ended before we arrived at the next town, which was no ſmall diſappointment to our company; however, we were reſolved to take all we could get. I played capital characters there too, and came off with my uſual brilliancy. I ſincerely believe that I ſhould have been the firſt actor in Europe, had my growing merit been properly cultivated; but there came an unkindly froſt, which nipped me in the bud, and levelled me once more down to the common ſtandard of humanity. I played Sir Harry Wildair; all the country ladies were charmed: if I but drew out my ſnuff-box, the whole houſe was in a roar of rapture; when I exerciſed my cudgel, I thought they would have fallen into convulſions.’
‘"There was here a lady who had received an education of nine months in London; and this gave her pretenſions to taſte, which rendered her the indiſputable miſtreſs of the ceremonies wherever ſhe came. She was informed of my merits; every body praiſed me; yet ſhe refuſed at firſt going to ſee me perform; ſhe could not conceive, ſhe ſaid, any thing but ſtuff from a ſtroller; talked ſomething in praiſe of Garrick, and amazed the ladies with her ſkill in enunciations, tones, and cadences; ſhe was at laſt, however, prevailed upon to go; and it was privately intimated to me what a judge was to be preſent at my next exhibition: however, no way intimidated, I came on in Sir Harry, one hand ſtuck in my breeches, and the other in my boſom, as uſual at Drury-lane; but, inſtead of looking at me, I perceived the whole audience had their eyes turned upon the lady who had been nine months in London; from her they expected the deciſion which was to ſecure the general's truncheon in my hand, or ſink me down into a theatrical letter-carrier. I opened my ſnuff-box, took ſnuff; the lady was ſolemn, and ſo were the reſt; I broke my cudgel on alderman Smuggler's back; ſtill gloomy, melancholy all, the lady groaned and ſhrugged her ſhoulders; I attempted, by laughing myſelf, to [Page 123] excite at leaſt a ſmile; but the devil a cheek could I perceive wrinkled into ſympathy: I found it would not do; all my good-humour now became forced; my laughter was converted into hyſteric grinning; and, while I pretended ſpirits, my eye ſhewed the agony of my heart: in ſhort, the lady came with an intention to be diſpleaſed, and diſpleaſed ſhe was; my fame expired; I am here; and (the tankard is no more!)"’
WHEN Catherina Alexowna was made empreſs of Ruſſia, the women were in an actual ſtate of bondage; but ſhe undertook to introduce mixed aſſemblies, as in other parts of Europe: ſhe altered the women's dreſs by ſubſtituting the faſhions of England; inſtead of furs, ſhe brought in the uſe of taffeta and damaſk; and cornets and commodes inſtead of caps of ſable. The women now found themſelves no longer ſhut up in ſeparate apartments, but ſaw company, viſited each other, and were preſent at every entertainment.
But, as the laws to this effect were directed to a ſavage people, it is amuſing enough, the manner in which the ordinances ran. Aſſemblies were quite unknown among them; the Czarina was ſatisfied with introducing them, for ſhe found it impoſſible to render them polite. An ordinance was therefore publiſhed according to their notions of breeding, which, as it is a curioſity, and has never before been printed that we know of, we ſhall give our readers.‘
"III. The maſter of the houſe ſhall not be obliged to meet his gueſts, or conduct them out, or keep them company; but, though he is exempt from all this, he is to find them chairs, candles, liquors, and all other neceſſaries that company may aſk for; he is likewiſe to provide them with cards, dice, and every neceſſary for gaming.
"V. Every one ſhall be free to ſit, walk, or game, as he pleaſes; nor ſhall any one go about to hinder him, or take exceptions at what he does, upon pain of emptying the great eagle (a pint-bowl full of brandy): it ſhall likewiſe be ſufficient, at entering or retiring, to ſalute the company.
"VI. Perſons of diſtinction, noblemen, ſuperior officers, merchants, and tradeſmen of note, head-workmen, eſpecially carpenters, and perſons employed in chancery, are to have liberty to enter the aſſemblies; as likewiſe their wives and children.
"IX. Ladies who play at forfeitures, queſtions and commands, &c. ſhall not be riotous: no gentleman ſhall attempt to force a kiſs, and no perſon ſhall offer to ſtrike a woman in the aſſembly, under pain of future excluſion."
Such are the ſtatutes upon this occaſion, which, in their very appearance, carry an air of ridicule and ſatire. But politeneſs muſt enter every country by degrees; and theſe rules reſemble the breeding of a clown, aukward but ſincere.
THE formalities, delays, and diſappointments, that precede a treaty of marriage here, are uſually as numerous as thoſe previous to a treaty of peace. The laws of this country are finely calculated to promote all commerce, but the commerce between the ſexes. Their encouragements for propagating hemp, madder, and tobacco, are indeed admirable! Marriages are the only commodity that meets with none.
Yet, from the vernal ſoftneſs of the air, the verdure of the fields, the tranſparency of the ſtreams, and the beauty of the women, I know few countries more proper to invite to courtſhip. Here love might ſport among painted lawns and warbling groves, and revel amidſt gales, wafting at once both fragrance and harmony. Yet it ſeems he has forſaken the iſland; and, when a couple are now to be married, mutual love, or an union of minds, is the laſt and moſt trifling conſideration. If their goods and chattels can be brought to unite, their ſympathetic ſouls are ever ready to guarantee the treaty. The gentleman's mortgaged lawn becomes enamoured of the ladies marriageable grove; the match is ſtruck up, and both parties are piouſly in love—according to act of parliament.
Thus they, who have fortune, are poſſeſſed at leaſt of ſomething that is lovely; but I actually pity thoſe that have none. I am told there was a time, when ladies, with no other merit but youth, virtue, and beauty, had a chance for huſbands, at leaſt, among the miniſters of the church, or the officers of the army. The bluſh and innocence of ſixteen was ſaid to have a powerful influence over theſe two profeſſions. But of late, all the little traffic of bluſhing, ogling, dimpling, [Page 126] and ſmiling, has been forbidden by an act in that caſe wiſely made and provided. A lady's whole cargo of ſmiles, ſighs, and whiſpers, is declared utterly contraband, till ſhe arrives in the warm latitudes of twenty-two, where commodities of this nature are too often found to decay. She is then permitted to dimple and ſmile, when the dimples and ſmiles begin to forſake her; and, when perhaps grown ugly, is charitably entruſted with an unlimited uſe of her charms. Her lovers, however, by this time, have forſaken her; the captain has changed for another miſtreſs; the prieſt himſelf leaves her in ſolitude, to bewail her virginity, and ſhe dies even without benefit of clergy.
Thus you find the Europeans diſcouraging love with as much earneſtneſs as the rudeſt ſavage of Sofala. The Genius is ſurely now no more. In every region I find enemies in arms to oppreſs him. Avarice in Europe, jealouſy in Perſia, ceremony in China, poverty among the Tartars, and luſt in Circaſſia, are all prepared to oppoſe his power. The Genius is certainly baniſhed from earth, though once adored under ſuch a variety of forms. He is no where to be found; and all that the ladies of each country can produce, are but a few trifling reliques, as inſtances of his former reſidence and favour.
‘"The Genius of Love,"’ ſays the Eaſtern Apologue, ‘"had long reſided in the happy plains of Abra, where every breeze was health, and every ſound produced tranquility. His temple at firſt was crowded, but every age leſſened the number of his votaries, or cooled their devotion. Perceiving therefore his altar at length quite deſerted, he was reſolved to remove to ſome more propitious region; and he apprized the fair ſex of every country, where he could hope for a proper reception, to aſſert their right to his preſence among them. In return to this proclamation, embaſſies were ſent from the ladies of every part of the world to invite him, and to diſplay the ſuperiority of their claims.’
[Page 127] ‘"And, firſt, the beauties of China appeared. No country could compare with them for modeſty, either of look, dreſs, or behaviour; their eyes were never lifted from the ground; their robes, of the moſt beautiful ſilk, hid their hands, boſom, and neck, while their faces only were left uncovered. They indulged no airs that might expreſs looſe deſire, and they ſeemed to ſtudy only the graces of inanimate beauty. Their black teeth and plucked eye-brows were, however, alledged by the Genius againſt them, but he ſet them entirely aſide when he came to examine their little feet.’
‘"The beauties of Circaſſia next made their appearance. They advanced, hand in hand, ſinging the moſt immodeſt airs, and leading up a dance in the moſt luxurious attitudes. Their dreſs was but half a covering; the neck, the left breaſt, and all the limbs, were expoſed to view; which, after ſome time, ſeemed rather to ſatiate than inflame deſire. The lily and the roſe contended in forming their complexions; and a ſoft ſleepineſs of eye added irreſiſtible poignance to their charms: but their beauties were obtruded, not offered to their admirers; they ſeemed to give rather than receive courtſhip; and the Genius of Love diſmiſſed them as unworthy his regard, ſince they exchanged the duties of love, and made themſelves not the purſued, but the purſuing ſex.’
‘"The kingdom of Kaſhmire next produced its charming deputies. This happy region ſeemed peculiarly ſequeſtered by nature for his abode. Shady mountains fenced it on one ſide from the ſcorching ſun; and ſea-born breezes, on the other, gave peculiar luxuriance to the air. Their complexions were of a bright yellow that appeared almoſt tranſparent, while the crimſon tulip ſeemed to bloſſom on their cheeks. Their features and limbs were delicate beyond the ſtatuary's power to expreſs; and their teeth whiter than their own ivory. He was almoſt perſuaded to reſide among them, [Page 128] when unfortunately one of the ladies talked of appointing his ſeraglio.’
‘"In this proceſſion the naked inhabitants of Southern America would not be left behind: their charms were found to ſurpaſs whatever the warmeſt imagination could conceive; and ſerved to ſhew, that beauty could be perfect, even with the ſeeming diſadvantage of a brown complexion. But their ſavage education rendered them utterly unqualified to make the proper uſe of their power, and they were rejected, as being incapable of uniting mental with ſenſual ſatisfaction. In this manner the deputies of other kingdoms had their ſuits rejected: the black beauties of Benin, and the tawny daughters of Borneo, the women of Wida with ſcarred faces, and the hideous virgins of Cafraria; the ſquab ladies of Lapland, three feet high, and the giant fair ones of Patagonia.’
‘"The beauties of Europe at laſt appeared: grace was in their ſteps, and ſenſibility ſat ſmiling in every eye. It was the univerſal opinion, while they were approaching, that they would prevail; and the Genius ſeemed to lend them his moſt favourable attention. They opened their pretenſions with the utmoſt modeſty; but unfortunately, as their orator proceeded, ſhe happened to let fall the words Houſe in town, Settlement, and Pin-money. Theſe ſeemingly harmleſs terms had inſtantly a ſurpriſing effect: the Genius, with ungovernable rage, burſt from amidſt the circle; and, waving his youthful pinions, left this earth, and flew back to thoſe ethereal manſions from whence he deſcended.’
‘"The whole aſſembly was ſtruck with amazement: they now juſtly apprehended that female power would be no more, ſince love had forſaken them. They continued ſome time thus in a ſtate of torpid deſpair, when it was propoſed by one of the number, that, ſince the real Genius of Love had left them, in order to continue their power, they ſhould ſet up an idol in his ſtead; and that the ladies of every [Page 129] country ſhould furniſh him with what each liked beſt. This propoſal was inſtantly reliſhed and agreed to. An idol of gold was formed by uniting the capricious gifts of all the aſſembly, though no way reſembling the departed Genius. The ladies of China furniſhed the monſter with wings; thoſe of Kaſhmire ſupplied him with horns; the dames of Europe clapped a purſe in his hand; and the virgins of Congo furniſhed him with a tail. Since that time, all the vows addreſſed to Love are in reality paid to the idol; and, as in other falſe religions, the adoration ſeems moſt ſervent, where the heart is leaſt ſincere."’
No obſervation is more common, and at the ſame time more true, than That one half of the world are ignorant ho [...] the other half lives. The misfortunes of the great are held up to engage our attention; are enlarged upon in tones of declamation; and the world is called upon to gaze at the noble ſufferers: the great, under the preſſure of calamity, are conſcious of ſeveral others ſympathizing with their diſtreſs; and have, at once, the comfort of admiration and pity.
There is nothing magnanimous in bearing misfortunes with fortitude, when the whole world is looking on: men in ſuch circumſtances will act bravely even from motives of vanity; but he who, in the vale of obſcurity, can brave adverſity; who, without friends to encourage, acquaintances to pity, or even without hope to alleviate his misfortunes, can behave with tranquility and indifference, is truely great: whether peaſant or courtier, he deſerves admiration, and ſhould be held up for our imitation and reſpect.
While the ſlighteſt inconveniences of the great are magnified into calamities; while tragedy mouths out their ſufferings [Page 130] in all the ſtrains of eloquence, the miſeries of the poor are entirely diſregarded; and yet ſome of the lower ranks of people undergo more real hardſhips in one day, than thoſe of a more exalted ſtation ſuffer in their whole lives. It is inconceiveable what difficulties the meaneſt of our common ſoldiers and ſailors indure without murmuring or regret, without paſſionately declaiming againſt Providence, or calling their fellows to be gazers on their interpidity. Every day is to them a day of miſery, and yet they entertain their hard fate without repining.
With what indignation do I hear an Ovid, a Cicero, or a Rabutin, complain of their misfortunes and hardſhips, whoſe greateſt calamity was that of being unable to viſit a certain ſpot of earth, to which they had fooliſhly attached an idea of happineſs. Their diſtreſſes were pleaſures, compared to what many of the adventuring poor every day endure without murmuring. They ate, drank, and ſlept; they had ſlaves to attend them, and were ſure of ſubſiſtence for life; while many of their fellow-creatures are obliged to wander without a friend to comfort or aſſiſt them, and even without a ſhelter from the ſeverity of the ſeaſon.
I have been led into theſe reflections from accidently meeting, ſome days ago, a poor fellow, whom I knew when a boy, dreſſed in a ſailor's jacket, and begging at one of the outlets of the town, with a wooden leg. I knew him to be honeſt and induſtrious when in the country, and was curious to learn what had reduced him to his preſent ſituation. Wherefore, after giving him what I thought proper, I deſired to know the hiſtory of his life and misfortunes, and the manner in which he was reduced to his preſent diſtreſs. The diſabled ſoldier, for ſuch he was, though dreſſed in a ſailor's habit, ſcratching his head, and leaning on his crutch, put himſelf into an attitude to comply with my requeſt, and gave me his hiſtory as follows:
‘"As for my misfortunes, maſter, I can't pretend to have [Page 131] gone through any more than other folks; for, except the loſs of my limb, and my being obliged to beg, I don't know any reaſon, thank heaven, that I have to complain; there is Bill Tibbs, of our regiment, he has loſt both his legs, and an eye to boot; but, thank heaven, it is not ſo bad with me yet.’
‘"I was born in Shropſhire, my father was a labourer, and died when I was five years old; ſo I was put upon the pariſh. As he had been a wandering ſort of a man, the pariſhioners were not able to tell to what pariſh I belonged, or where I was born, ſo they ſent me to another pariſh, and that pariſh ſent me to a third. I thought in my heart, they kept ſending me about ſo long, that they would not let me be born in any pariſh at all; but, at laſt, however, they fixed me. I had ſome diſpoſition to be a ſcholar, and was reſolved, at leaſt, to know my letters; but the maſter of the work-houſe put me to buſineſs as ſoon as I was able to handle a mallet; and here I lived an eaſy kind of a life for five years. I only wrought ten hours in the day, and had my meat and drink provided for my labour. It is true, I was not ſuffered to ſtir out of the houſe, for fear, as they ſaid, I ſhould run away; but what of that? I had the liberty of the whole houſe, and the yard before the door, and that was enough for me. I was then bound out to a farmer, where I was up both early and late; but I ate and drank well, and liked my buſineſs well enough, till he died, when I was obliged to provide for myſelf; ſo I was reſolved to go and ſeek my fortune.’
‘"In this manner I went from town to town, worked when I could get employment, and ſtarved when I could get none: when happening one day to go through a field belonging to a juſtice of peace, I ſpy'd a hare croſſing the path juſt before me; and I believe the devil put it in my head to fling my ſtick at it:—Well, what will you have on't? I killed the hare, and was bringing it away in triumph, when the juſtice himſelf met me: he called me a poacher and a villain; and collaring me, deſired I would give an account [Page 132] of myſelf: I fell upon my knees, begged his worſhip's pardon, and began to give a full account of all that I knew of my breed, feed, and generation; but, though I gave a very good account, the juſtice would not believe a ſyllable I had to ſay; ſo I was indicted at ſeſſions, found guilty of being poor, and ſent up to London to Newgate, in order to be tranſported as a vagabond.’
‘"People may ſay this and that of being in jail; but, for my part, I found Newgate as agreeable a place as ever I was in all my life. I had my belly full to eat and drink, and did not work at all. This kind of life was too good to laſt for ever; ſo I was taken out of priſon, after five months, put on board a ſhip, and ſent off, with two hundred more, to the plantations. We had but an indifferent paſſage, for, being all confined in the hold, more than a hundred of our people died for want of ſweet air; and thoſe that remained were ſickly enough, God knows. When we came aſhore we were ſold to the planters, and I was bound for ſeven years more. As I was no ſcholar, for I did not know my letters, I was obliged to work among the negroes; and I ſerved out my time, as in duty bound to do.’
‘"When my time was expired, I worked my paſſage home, and glad I was to ſee Old England again, becauſe I loved my country. I was afraid, however, that I ſhould be indicted for a vagabond once more, ſo did not much care to go down into the country, but kept about the town, and did little jobbs when I could get them.’
‘"I was very happy in this manner for ſome time, till one evening, coming home from work, two men knocked me down, and then deſired me to ſtand. They belonged to a preſs-gang: I was carried before the juſtice, and, as I could give no account of myſelf, I had my choice left, whether to go on board a man of war, or liſt for a ſoldier. I choſe the latter; and, in this poſt of a gentleman, I ſerved two campaigns in Flanders, was at the battles of Val and Fontenoy, and received [Page 133] but one wound, through the breaſt here; but the doctor of our regiment ſoon made me well again.’
‘"When the peace came on I was diſcharged; and, as I could not work, becauſe my wound was ſometimes troubleſome, I liſted for a landman in the Eaſt-India company's ſervice. I here fought the French in three pitched battles; and I verily believe, that, if I could read or write, our captain would have made me a corporal. But it was not my good fortune to have any promotion, for I ſoon fell ſick, and ſo got leave to return home again with forty pounds in my pocket. This was at the beginning of the preſent war, and I hoped to be ſet on ſhore, and to have the pleaſure of ſpending my money; but the government wanted men, and ſo I was preſſed for a ſailor before ever I could ſet foot on ſhore.’
‘"The boatſwain found me, as he ſaid, an obſtinate fellow: he ſwore he knew that I underſtood my buſineſs well, but that I ſhammed Abraham, merely to be idle; but, God knows, I knew nothing of ſea-buſineſs, and he beat me without conſidering what he was about. I had ſtill, however, my forty pounds, and that was ſome comfort to me under every beating; and the money I might have had to this day, but that our ſhip was taken by the French, and ſo I loſt all.’
‘"Our crew was carried into Breſt, and many of them died, becauſe they were not uſed to live in a jail: but, for my part, it was nothing to me, for I was ſeaſoned. One night, as I was ſleeping on the bed of boards, with a warm blanket about me, for I always loved to lie well, I was awakened by the boatſwain, who had a dark lanthorn in his hand; ‘'Jack,'’ ſays he to me, ‘'will you knock out the French centry's brains?'’ ‘"I don't care,"’ ſays I, ſtriving to keep myſelf awake, ‘"if I lend a hand."’ ‘'Then follow me,'’ ſays he, ‘'and I hope we ſhall do buſineſs.'’ So up I got, and tied my blanket, which was all the cloaths I had, about my middle, and went with him to fight the Frenchmen. I hate the French becauſe they are ſlaves, and wear wooden ſhoes.’
[Page 134] ‘"Though we had no arms, one Engliſhman is able to beat five French at any time; ſo we went down to the door, where both the centries were poſted, and ruſhing upon them, ſeized their arms in a moment, and knocked them down. From thence, nine of us ran together to the quay, and, ſeizing the firſt boat we met, got out of the harbour and put to ſea. We had not been here three days before we were taken up by the Dorſet privateer, who were glad of ſo many good hands; and we conſented to run our chance. However, we had not ſo much luck as we expected. In three days we fell in with the Pompadour privateer, of forty guns, while we had but twenty-three; ſo to it we went, yard-arm and yard-arm. The fight laſted for three hours, and I verily believe we ſhould have taken the Frenchman, had we but had ſome more men left behind; but, unfortunately, we loſt all our men juſt as we were going to get the victory.’
‘"I was once more in the power of the French, and I believe it would have gone hard with me, had I been brought back to Breſt: but by good fortune, we were taken by the Viper. I had almoſt forgot to tell you, that, in that engagement, I was wounded in two places; I loſt four fingers of the left hand, and my leg was ſhot off. If I had had the good fortune to have loſt my leg and uſe of my hand on board a king's ſhip, and not aboard a privateer, I ſhould have been entitled to cloathing and maintenance during the reſt of my life; but that was not my chance: one man is born with a ſilver ſpoon in his mouth, and another with a wooden ladle. However, bleſſed be God, I enjoy good health, and will for ever love liberty and Old England. Liberty, property, and Old England, for ever, huzza!"’
Thus ſaying, he limped off, leaving me in admiration at his intrepidity and content; nor could I avoid acknowledging, that an habitual acquaintance with miſery ſerves better than philoſophy to teach us to deſpiſe it.
MAN is a moſt frail being, incapable of directing his ſteps, unacquainted with what is to happen in this life; and perhaps no man is a more manifeſt inſtance of the truth of this maxim, than Mr THE. CIBBER, juſt now gone out of the world. Such a variety of turns of fortune, yet ſuch a perſevering uniformity of conduct, appears in all that happened in his ſhort ſpan, that the whole may be looked upon as one regular confuſion: every action of his life was matter of wonder and ſurpriſe, and his death was an aſtoniſhment.
This gentleman was born of creditable parents, who gave him a very good education, and a great deal of good learning, ſo that he could read and write before he was ſixteen. However, he early diſcovered an inclination to follow lewd courſes; he refuſed to take the advice of his parents, and purſued the bent of his inclination; he played at cards on Sundays; called himſelf a gentleman; fell out with his [...]ther and laundreſs; and, even in theſe early days, his father was frequently heard to obſerve, that young THE.—would be hanged.
As he advanced in years, he grew more fond of pleaſure; would eat an ortolan for dinner, though he begged the guinea that bought it; and was once known to give three pounds for a plate of green peaſe, which he had collected over-night as charity for a friend in diſtreſs: he ran into debt with every body that would truſt him, and none could build a ſconce better than he: ſo that, at laſt, his creditors ſwore with one accord, that THE.—would be hanged.
But, as getting into debt by a man who had no viſible means but impudence for ſubſiſtence, is a thing that every reader is [Page 136] not acquainted with, I muſt explain this point a little, and that to his ſatisfaction.
There are three ways of getting into debt; firſt, by puſhing a face; as thus: ‘"You, Mr Luteſtring, ſend me home ſix yards of that paduaſoy, dammee; but, harkee, don't think I ever intend to pay you for it, dammee."’ At this, the mercer laughs heartily; cuts off the paduaſoy, and ſends it home; nor is he, till too late, ſurpriſed to find the gentleman had ſaid nothing but truth, and kept his word.
The ſecond method of running into debt is called fineering; which is getting goods made up in ſuch a faſhion as to be unfit for every other purchaſer; and, if the tradeſman refuſes to give them upon credit, then threaten to leave them upon his hands.
But the third and beſt method is called, ‘"Being the good cuſtomer."’ The gentleman firſt buys ſome trifle, and pays for it in ready-money; he comes a few days after with nothing about him but bank-bills, and buys, we will ſuppoſe, a ſixpenny tweezer-caſe; the bills are too great to be changed, ſo he promiſes to return punctually the day after, and pay for what he has bought. In this promiſe he is punctual, and this is repeated for eight or ten times, till his face is well known, and he has got, at laſt, the character of a good cuſtomer. By this means he gets credit for ſomething conſiderable, and then never pays for it.
In all this, the young man who is the unhappy ſubject of our preſent reflections, was very expert; and could face, fineer, and bring cuſtom to a ſhop with any man in England: none of his companions could exceed him in this; and his very companions at laſt ſaid that THE.—would be hanged.
As he grew old, he grew never the better; he loved ortolans and green peaſe, as before; he drank gravy-ſoup when he could get it, and always thought his oyſters taſted beſt when he got them for nothing, or, which was juſt the ſame, when he bought them upon tick: thus the old man kept up the vices of the youth, and what he wanted in power, he made up [Page 137] by inclination; ſo that all the world thought that old THE.—would be hanged.
And now, reader, I have brought him to his laſt ſcene; a ſcene where, perhaps, my duty ſhould have obliged me to aſſiſt. You expect, perhaps, his dying words, and the tender farewell he took of his wife and children; you expect an account of his coffin and white gloves, his pious ejaculations, and the papers he left behind him. In this I cannot indulge your curioſity; for, oh! the myſteries of fate, THE.—was drown'd!
THERE are few ſubjects which have been more written upon, and leſs underſtood, than that of friendſhip; to follow the dictates of ſome, this virtue, inſtead of being the aſſuager of pain, becomes the ſource of every inconvenience. Such ſpeculatiſts, by expecting too much from friendſhip, diſſolve the connexion, and by drawing the bands too cloſely, at length break them. Almoſt all our romance and novel writers are of this kind; they perſuade us to friendſhips, which we find it impoſſible to ſuſtain to the laſt; ſo that this ſweetner of life under proper regulations, is, by their means, rendered inacceſſible or uneaſy. It is certain, the beſt method to cultivate this virtue is by letting it, in ſome meaſure, make itſelf; a ſimilitude of minds or ſtudies, and even ſometimes a diverſity of purſuits, will produce all the pleaſures that ariſe from it. The current of tenderneſs widens, as it proceeds; and two men imperceptibly find their hearts warm with goodnature for each other, when they were at firſt only in purſuit of mirth or relaxation.
Friendſhip is like a debt of honour; the moment it is talked [Page 138] of, it loſes its real name, and aſſumes the more ungrateful form of obligation. From hence we find, that thoſe who regularly undertake to cultivate friendſhip find ingratitude generally repays their endeavours. That circle of beings, which dependence gathers round us, is almoſt ever unfriendly; they ſecretly wiſh the term of their connexions more nearly equal; and, where they even have the moſt virtue, are prepared to reſerve all their affections for their patron, only in the hour of his decline. Increaſing the obligations which are laid upon ſuch minds only increaſes their burthen; they feel themſelves unable to repay the immenſity of their debt, and their bankrupt hearts are taught a latent reſentment at the hand that is ſtretched out with offers of ſervice and relief.
Plautinus was a man who thought that every good was to be bought from riches; and as he was poſſeſſed of great wealth, and had a mind naturally formed for virtue, he reſolved to gather a circle of the beſt men round him. Among the number of his dependants was Muſidorus, with a mind juſt as fond of virtue, yet not leſs proud than his patron. His circumſtances, however, were ſuch as forced him to ſtoop to the good offices of his ſuperior, and he ſaw himſelf daily among a number of others loaded with benefits and proteſtations of friendſhip. Theſe, in the uſual courſe of the world, he thought it prudent to accept; but, while he gave his eſteem, he could not give his heart. A want of affection breaks out in the moſt trifling inſtances, and Plautinus had ſkill enough to obſerve the minuteſt actions of the man he wiſhed to make his friend. In theſe he ever found his aim diſappointed; for Muſidorus claimed an exchange of hearts, which Plautinus, ſolicited by a variety of claims, could never think of beſtowing.
It may be eaſily ſuppoſed, that the reſerve of our poor proud man was ſoon conſtrued into ingratitude; and ſuch indeed in the common acceptation of the world it was. Wherever Muſidorus appeared, he was remarked as the ungrateful man; he had accepted favours, it was ſaid, and ſtill had the inſolence to pretend to independance. The event, however, juſtified [Page 139] his conduct. Plautinus, by miſplaced liberality, at length became poor, and it was then that Muſidorus firſt thought of making a friend of him. He flew to the man of fallen fortune, with an offer of all he had; wrought under his direction with aſſiduity; and by uniting their talents both were at length placed in that ſtate of life from which one of them had formerly fallen.
To this ſtory, taken from modern life, I ſhall add one more, taken from a Greek writer of antiquity:—Two Jewiſh ſoldiers, in the time of Veſpaſian, had made many campaigns together, and a participation of dangers at length, bred an union of hearts. They were remarked throughout the whole army, as the two friendly brothers; they felt and fought for each other. Their friendſhip might have continued, without interruption, till death, had not the good fortune of the one alarmed the pride of the other, which was in his promotion to be a Centurion under the famous John, who headed a particular party of the Jewiſh malecontents.
From this moment their former love was converted into the moſt inveterate enmity. They attached themſelves to oppoſite factions, and [...]ought each other's lives in the conflict of adverſe party. In this manner they continued for more than two years, vowing mutual revenge, and animated with an unconquerable ſpirit of averſion. At length, however, that party of the Jews, to which the mean ſoldier belonged, joining with the Romans, it became victorious, and drove John, with all his adherents, into the Temple. Hiſtory has given us more than one picture of the dreadful conflagration of that ſuperb edifice. The Roman ſoldiers were gathered round it; the whole temple was in flames, and thouſands were ſeen amidſt them, within its ſacred circuit. It was in this ſituation of things, that the now-ſucceſsful ſoldier ſaw his former friend, upon the battlements of the higheſt tower, looking round with horror, and juſt ready to be conſumed with flames. All his former tenderneſs now returned; he ſaw the man of his boſom juſt going to periſh; and, unable to withſtand the impulſe, [Page 140] he ran ſpreading his arms, and crying out to his friend, to leap down from the top, and find ſafety with him. The Centurion from above heard and obeyed, and, caſting himſelf from the top of the tower into his fellow ſoldier's arms, both fell a ſacrifice on the ſpot; one being cruſhed to death by the weight of his companion, and the other daſhed to pieces by the greatneſs of his fall.'
BOOKS, while they teach us to reſpect the intereſts of others, often make us unmindful of our own; while they inſtruct the youthful reader to graſp at ſocial happineſs, he grows miſerable in detail; and, attentive to univerſal harmony, often forgets that he himſelf has a part to ſuſtain in the concert. I diſlike therefore the philoſopher who deſcribes the inconveniencies of life in ſuch pleaſing colours that the pupil grows enamoured of diſtreſs, longs to try the charms of poverty, meets it without dread, nor fears its inconveniencies till he ſeverely feels them.
A youth, who has thus ſpent his life among books, new to the world, and unacquainted with man but by philoſophic information, may be conſidered as a being whoſe mind is filled with the vulgar errors of the wiſe; utterly unqualified for a journey through life, yet confident of his own ſkill in the direction, he ſets out with confidence, blunders on with vanity, and finds himſelf at laſt undone.
He firſt has learned from books, and then lays it down as a maxim, that all mankind are virtuous or vicious in exceſs; and he has been long taught to deteſt vice and love virtue: warm therefore in attachments, and ſtedfaſt in enmity, he treats every creature as a friend or foe; expects from thoſe he loves unerring integrity, and conſigns his enemies to the reproach of wanting every virtue. On this principle he proceeds; and here begins his diſappointments; upon a cloſer inſpection [Page 141] of human nature, he perceives, that he ſhould have moderated his friendſhip, and ſoftened his ſeverity; for he often finds the excellencies of one part of mankind clouded with vice, and the faults of the other brightened with virtue; he finds no character ſo ſanctified that has not its failings; none ſo infamous, but has ſomewhat to attract our eſteem; he beholds impiety in lawn, and fidelity in fetters.
He now therefore, but too late, perceives that his regards ſhould have been more cool, and his hatred leſs violent; that the truely wiſe ſeldom court romantic friendſhip with the good, and avoid, if poſſible, the reſentment even of the wicked: every moment gives him freſh inſtances that the bonds of friendſhip are broken if drawn too cloſely, and that thoſe whom he has treated with diſreſpect more than retaliate the injury; at length therefore he is obliged to confeſs, that he has declared war upon the vicious half of mankind, without being able to form an alliance among the virtuous to eſpouſe his quarrel.
Our book-taught philoſopher, however, is now too far advanced to recede; and though poverty be the juſt conſequence of the many enemies his conduct has created, yet he is reſolved to meet it without ſhrinking: philoſophers have deſcribed poverty in moſt charming colours; and even his vanity is touched in thinking, he ſhall ſhew the world in himſelf one more example of patience, fortitude, and reſignation: ‘"Come then, O Poverty! for what is there in thee dreadful to the wiſe! Temperance, health, and frugality walk in thy train; cheerfulneſs and liberty are ever thy companions. Shall any be aſhamed of thee of whom Cincinatus was not aſhamed? The running brook, the herbs of the field, can amply ſatisfy nature; man wants but little, nor that little long. Come then, O Poverty! while kings ſtand by and gaze with admiration at the true philoſopher's reſignation."’
The goddeſs appears; for Poverty ever comes at the call: but, alas! he finds her by no means the charming figure books [Page 142] and his own imagination had painted. As when an eaſtern bride, whom her friends and relations had long deſcribed as a model of perfection, pays her firſt viſit, the longing bridegroom lifts the veil to ſee a face he had never ſeen before; but inſtead of a countenance blazing with beauty like the ſun, he beholds deformity ſhooting icicles to his heart; ſuch appears Poverty to her new entertainer; all the fabric of enthuſiaſm is at once demoliſhed, and a thouſand miſeries riſe upon its ruins; while contempt, with pointing finger, is foremoſt in the hideous proceſſion.
The poor man now finds that he can get no kings to look at him while he is eating; he finds, that in proportion as he grows poor, the world turns its back upon him, and gives him leave to act the philoſopher in all the majeſty of ſolitude. It might be agreeable enough to play the philoſopher, while we are conſcious that mankind are ſpectators; but what ſignifies wearing the maſk of ſturdy contentment, and mounting the ſtage of reſtraint, when not one creature will aſſiſt at the exhibition? Thus is he forſaken of men, while his fortitude wants the ſatisfaction even of ſelf-applauſe; for either he does not feel his preſent calamities, and that is natural inſenſibility; or he diſguiſes his feelings, and that is diſſimulation.
It has been ſaid, that he who retires to ſolitude, is either a beaſt or an angel: the cenſure is too ſevere, and the praiſe unmerited; the diſcontented being, who retires from ſociety, is generally ſome good-natured man, who has begun life without experience, and knew not how to gain it in his intercourſe with mankind.
I AM ſenſible that the friendſhip between us can acquire no new force from the ceremonies of a Dedication; and, perhaps, it demands an excuſe thus to prefix your name to my attempts, which you decline giving with your own. But as a part of this poem was formerly written to you from Switzerland, the whole can now, with propriety, be only inſcribed to you. It will alſo throw a light upon many parts of it, when the reader underſtands, that it is addreſſed to a man, who, deſpiſing fame and fortune, has retired early to happineſs and obſcurity, with an income of forty pounds a year.
I now perceive, my dear brother, the wiſdom of your humble choice. You have entered upon a ſacred office, where the harveſt is great, and the labourers are but few; while you have left [Page 148] the field of ambition, where the labourers are many, and the harveſt not worth carrying away. But of all kinds of ambition, as things are now circumſtanced, perhaps that which purſues poetical fame is the wildeſt. What from the increaſed refinement of the times, from the diverſity of judgments produced by oppoſing ſyſtems of criticiſm, and from the more preval [...]t diviſions of opinion influenced by party, the ſtrongeſt and happieſt efforts can expect to pleaſe but in a very narrow circle.
Poetry makes a principal amuſement among unpoliſhed nations; but in a country verging to the extremes of refinement, Painting and Muſic come in for a ſhare. And as they offer the feeble mind a leſs laborious entertainment, they at firſt rival Poetry, and at length ſupplant her; they engroſs all favour to themſelves, and though but younger ſiſters, ſeize upon the elder's birthright.
Yet, however this art may be neglected by the powerful, it is ſtill in greater danger from the miſtaken efforts of the learned to improve it. What criticiſms have we not heard of late in favour of blank verſe, and Pindaric odes, choruſſes, anapeſts and iambics, alliterative care and happy negligence! Every abſurdity has now a champion to defend it, and as he is generally [Page 149] much in the wrong, ſo he has always much to ſay; for error is ever talkative.
But there is an enemy to this art ſtill more dangerous, I mean party. Party entirely diſtorts the judgment, and deſtroys the taſte. A mind capable of reliſhing general beauty, when once infected with this diſeaſe, can only find pleaſure in what contributes to increaſe the diſtemper. Like the tyger that ſeldom deſiſts from purſuing man after having once preyed upon human fleſh, the reader, who has once gratified his appetite with calumny, makes, ever after, the moſt agreeable feaſt upon murdered reputation. Such readers generally admire ſome half-witted thing, who wants to be thought a bold man, having loſt the character of a wiſe one. Him they dignify with the name of poet; his lampoons are called ſatires, his turbulence is ſaid to be force, and his phrenzy fire.
What reception a poem may find, which has neither abuſe, party, nor blank verſe to ſupport it, I cannot tell, nor am I much ſolicitous to know. My aims are right. Without eſpouſing the cauſe of any party, I have attempted to moderate the rage of all. I have endeavoured to ſhew, that there may be equal happineſs in other ſtates, though differently governed from our own; that each ſtate has a particular principle [Page 150] of happineſs, and that this principle in each ſtate, and in our own in particular, may be carried to a miſchievous exceſs. There are few can judge, better than yourſelf, how far theſe poſitions are illuſtrated in this poem.
I AM, SIR, YOUR MOST AFFECTIONATE BROTHER, OLIVER GOLDSMITH.
I CAN have no expectations in an addreſs of this kind, either to add to your reputation, or to eſtabliſh my own. You can gain nothing from my admiration, as I am ignorant of that art in which you are ſaid to excel; and I may loſe much by the ſeverity of your judgment, as few have a juſter taſte in poetry than you. Setting intereſt therefore aſide, to which I never paid much attention, I muſt be indulged at preſent in following my affections. The only dedication I ever made was to my brother, becauſe I loved him better than moſt other men. He is ſince dead. Permit me to inſcribe this Poem to you.
How far you may be pleaſed with the verſication and mere mechanical parts of this attempt, I don't pretend to enquire; but I know you will object (and indeed ſeveral of our beſt and wiſeſt friends concur in the opinion) that the depopulation it deplores is no where to be ſeen, and the diſorders it laments are only to be found in the poet's own imagination. To this I can ſcarce make any other anſwer than that I ſincerely believe what I have written; that I have taken all poſſible pains, in my country excurſions, for theſe four or five years paſt, to be certain of [Page 168] what I alledge, and that all my views and enquiries have led me to believe thoſe miſeries real, which I here attempt to diſplay. But this is not the place to enter into an enquiry whether the country be depopulating or not; the diſcuſſion would take up much room, and I ſhould prove myſelf, at beſt, an indifferent politician, to tire the reader with a long preface, when I want his unfatigued attention to a long poem.
In regretting the depopulation of the country, I inveigh againſt the increaſe of our luxuries; and here alſo I expect the ſhout of modern politicians againſt me. For twenty or thirty years paſt, it has been the faſhion to conſider luxury as one of the greateſt national advantages; and all the wiſdom of antiquity in that particular, as erroneous. Still, however, I muſt remain a profeſſed ancient on that head, and continue to think thoſe luxuries prejudicial to ſtates, by which ſo many vices are introduced, and ſo many kingdoms have been undone. Indeed, ſo much has been poured out of late on the other ſide of the queſtion, that, merely for the ſake of novelty and variety, one would ſometimes wiſh to be in the right.
I AM, DEAR SIR, YOUR SINCERE FRIEND, AND ARDENT ADMIRER, OLIVER GOLDSMITH.
THE title and nature of this POEM, ſhew that it owed its birth to ſome preceding circumſtances of feſtive merriment, which, from the wit of the company, and the very ingenious Author's peculiar oddities, were probably enlivened by ſome poignant ſtrokes of humour. This piece was only intended for the Doctor's private amuſement, and that of the particular friends who were its ſubject; and he unfortunately did not live to reviſe, or even finiſh it, in the manner which he intended.