Goldsmith, Oliver, 1730?-1774. The Miscellaneous Works of Oliver Goldsmith, M.B. Containing all his Essays and Poems. London: printed for W. Griffin, Catherine-street, in the Strand, 1775. ,iv,,10-200p. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T146118; OTA K113624.000)
- THE MISCELLANEOUS WORKS OF OLIVER GOLDSMITH, M.B. CONTAINING ALL HIS ESSAYS AND POEMS.
- 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 re tirement Page 140
- The TRAVELLER Page 145
- The DESERTED VILLAGE Page 165
- EDWIN and ANGELINA Page 175
- The Double Transformation Page 189
- A new Simile, in the manner of Swift Page 192
- RETALIATION Page 195
- ESSAY II.
- ESSAY III.
- ESSAY IV.
- SAUNDERS MAC-WILD, PRESIDENT.
- ANTHONY BLEWIT, VICE-PRESIDENT, HIS † MARK.
- WILLIAM TURPIN, SECRETARY.
- ESSAY V.
- ESSAY VI.
- ESSAY VII.
- ESSAY VIII.
- ESSAY IX.
- ESSAY X.
- ESSAY XI.
- ESSAY XII.
- ESSAY XIII.
- ESSAY XIV.
- ESSAY XV.
- ESSAY XVI.
- ESSAY XVII.
- ESSAY XVIII.
- ESSAY XIX.
- ESSAY XX.
- ESSAY XXI.
- ESSAY XXII.
- ESSAY XXIII.
- ESSAY XXIV.
- ESSAY XXV.
- ESSAY XXVI.
- ESSAY XXVII.
- POETICAL PIECES: CONSISTING OFTHE TRAVELLER,THE DESERTED VILLAGE,EDWIN AND ANGELINA,RETALIATION,AND OTHER POEMS.
- THE TRAVELLER: OR, A PROSPECT OF SOCIETY.
- THE DESERTED VILLAGE.
- EDWIN AND ANGELINA. A BALLAD.
- THE DOUBLE TRANSFORMATION: A TALE.
- A NEW SIMILE, IN THE MANNER OF SWIFT.
- THE END.
THE MISCELLANEOUS WORKS OF OLIVER GOLDSMITH, M.B. CONTAINING ALL HIS ESSAYS AND POEMS.
LONDON: PRINTED FOR W. GRIFFIN, CATHERINE-STREET, IN THE STRAND. MDCCLXXV.
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 fol lies, to be assiduous in estimating mine; so that many of my best attempts in this way, have fal len victims to the transient topic of the times; the Ghost in Cock-lane, or the siege of Ticon derago.
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 regu larly reprinted twice or thrice a year, and con veyed to the public through the kennel of some engaging compilation. If there be a pride in multiplied editions, I have seen some of my la bours 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 al ways 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 can not 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, in sisted 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 what ever 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 com bat.
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 consider ed as quietly laid in the grave of oblivion, and our modern compilers, like sextons and executi oners, 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 at tempting 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 dan ger of being protested at home, it may not be imprudent upon this occasion, to draw my bills upon posterity. "Mr Posterity. Sir, Nine hun dred and ninety-nine years after sight hereof, pay the bearer, or order, a thousand pound's worth of praise, free from all deductions what soever, it being a commodity that will then be very serviceable to him, and place it to the ac compt 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 ap pear, 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 for sake me.[Page 10]
My bookseller, in this dilemma, perceiving my embarras ment, 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 ex cels 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 in dustry; 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 in tended 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 re solved to follow.
It will be improper, therefore, to pall the reader's curio sity 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 glad ly 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 de gree of reputation. It has been remarked, that almost eve ry character which has excited either attention or pity, has owed part of its success to merit, and part to an happy con currence of circumstances in its favour. Had Caesar or Cromwell[Page 11] exchanged countries, the one might have been a ser jeant, 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 fron tispiece, 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 entertain ment 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 entire ly 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 in form him, with Bays in the Rehearsal, that I think him a very odd kind of a fellow, and desire no more of his ac quaintance. But still if my readers impute the general te nor 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 coun try where the inhabitants had each a large excrescence de pending from the chin; a deformity which, as it was en demic, 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 ri diculous figure here, but I assure you I am reckoned no way deformed at HOME."
ESSAY II.THE STORY OF ALCANDER AND SEPTIMIUS.TAKEN FROM A BYZANTINE HISTORIAN.
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 bar barity 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 Septi mius were fellow-students together. The one, the most subtle reasoner of all the Lyceum; the other, the most e loquent 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 toge ther, 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 re mained, but her being conducted in triumph to the apart ment 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 ef fort 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 in curable.
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 physi cians, 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 re luctant 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 exer tion of those talents which he was so eminently possessed of, Septimius, in a few years, arrived at the highest digni ties 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 consis cated, he himself was stripped of the habit of freedom, ex posed 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 employ ment 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 pub licly 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 con tinued 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 gene rally driven from one ungrateful object to another; for night coming on, he now found himself under a necessity of seek ing 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 with out the city, the usual retreat of guilt, poverty, and des pair. 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 en quiry, an alarm was spread; the cave was examined; and Alcander was apprehended and accused of robbery and mur der. The circumstances against him were strong, and the wretchedness of his appearance confirmed suspicion. Mis fortune 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 deter mined to make no defence; and, thus lowering with reso lution, he was dragged, bound with cords, before the tribu nal 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 pa nic, had confessed his crime. He was brought bound to the same tribunal, and acquitted every other person of any part nership in his guilt. Alcander's innocence therefore appear ed, 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 re collected 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 Pro vidence 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 contri bute 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 plea sure is in us, and not in the objects offered for our amuse ment. 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 ill dressed; 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 want ed 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 des titute 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 imi tate; for all philosophy is only forcing the trade of happi ness, 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 them selves or others, can bring no new affliction; the whole world is to them a theatre, on which comedies only are act ed. 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 de gree. 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 de sarts, 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 pre tended to neither. He only laughed at himself and his per secutor, 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 afflic tion. 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 satisfac tion by what the world thinks of it: for my own part, I ne ver 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 fa ther to such a degree, that all the intercession of friends in his favour was fruitless. The old gentleman was on his death bed. The whole family, and Dick among the number, ga thered 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 ex cessively 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 cala mity by dissipation than to take up the arms of reason or re solution 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, senti ments, or complexion, be what they will, he can find com pany 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 tem per 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 some times 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 cere mony to the members, who were already assembled, and had, for some time, begun upon business. The Grand, with a mal let 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 ge nius 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 sim per, 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 glo ry. 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 whis pering 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 mea sure,"of Alexander's Feast. After a short pause of ad miration, to this succeeded a Welch dialogue, with the hu mours of Teague and Taffy: after that came on Old Jack son, 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 ac quaint the company that the reckoning was drank out. Ra belais 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 dis content round the table: Drank out already! that was very odd! that so much punch could be drank out alrea dy! 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 en suing.
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 pro found silence, each with a pipe in his mouth and a pewter pot in his hand, and with faces which might easily be con strued 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 con tinued 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 So ciety; 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 acquaint ed; 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 de sign 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 mem ber 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 — Sanconia thon, 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 par liament 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 drink ing 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 hu manity?
Fatigued with this society, I was introduced, the fol lowing 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 ar rived. I now thought myself completely fitted, and resolv ing to seek no farther, determined to take up my residence here for the winter; while my temper began to open insen sibly 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 di stinction. 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 ob sequious 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 Mora via the Jew; and his lordship gave Sir Paul a very long ac count 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 pa renthesis about his new postilion. In this manner we travel led on, wishing every story to be the last; but all in vain;
The last club in which I was inrolled a member, was a so ciety of moral philosophers, as they called themselves, who as sembled 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 arri ved; not indeed about religion or ethics, but about who had neglected to lay down his preliminary six-pence upon enter ing 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 brown ness 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 prin ciples.
I. We being a laudable society of moral philosophers, in tends to dispute twice a week about religion and priestcraft. [Page 29]Leaving behind us old wives tales, and following good learn ing 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, up on paying the sum of three shillings, to be spent by the com pany in punch.
II. That no member get drunk before nine of the clock, upon pain of forfeiting three-pence, to be spent by the com pany in punch.
III. That, as members are sometimes apt to go away with out paying, every person shall pay six-pence upon his enter ing 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 Presi dent, in order to buy books of learning for the good of the so ciety; 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.
VI. Whenever we are to have an extraordinary meeting, it shall be advertised by some outlandish name in the news papers.
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 con ceal them.
When we reflect on the manner in which mankind gene rally confer their favours, there appears something so attrac tive 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 re pugnant 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 pre sents, 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 fal ling column; the lower it sinks, the greater weight it is obli ged 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 re quest 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 ex cite compassion. Pity and friendship are passions incompati ble 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 extraor dinary sensibility, I have seen it operate for half an hour to gether: 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 di stress solicits a second time, we then feel with diminished sen sibility; 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 mo ney, were ready to offer him their assistance that way; and they who had daughters, frequently, in the warmth of affec tion, 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 friend ship, 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 bor row, 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 re lation 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 for mer finery; his cloaths flew, piece by piece, to the pawnbro ker's, and he seemed at length equipped in the genuine livery of misfortune. But still he thought himself secure from actu al 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 de sired, 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 mor ning. He went on, and praised the figure of the damask table cloth; 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. Ap ply to every passion but human pity for redress: you may find permanent relief from vanity, from self-interest, or from ava rice, 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 pease soup and potatoes, praise the wholesomness of your frugal re past. 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 cer tain method never to rise: pride in the great is hateful: in the wise it is ridiculous; but beggarly pride is a rational va nity, 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 de mand, 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 seem ingly in ompatible with itself. There is greatness in being generous, and there is only simple justice in his satisfying cre ditors. Generosity is the part of a soul raised above the vul gar. There is in it something of what we admire in heroes,[Page 36] and praise with a degree of rapture. Justice, on the contra ry, 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 satis fy 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 ac quaintance 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 so ciety can oblige us. This, I allow, is sometimes the import of the word; and in this sense justice is distinguished from e quity; 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 generosi y, 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, im prudence; 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 enter tainments, 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 rea son, 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 im pairing our circumstances by present benefactions, so as to ren der 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 neces sities. But few, very few, correspond to this exaggerated picture; and perhaps, there is not one in whom all these cir cumstances are found united. Instead of this, we find the so ber 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 bene factors 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 manage ment of his vineyard, had the good fortune to acquire im mense 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 aque duct; by which, he did the poor more useful and lasting service, than if he had distributed his whole income in cha rity every day at his door.
Among men long conversant with books, we too frequent ly 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 declama tions of philosophy are generally rather exhausted on those supererogatory duties, than on such as are indispensably ne cessary. 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 in duced, by misplaced liberality, to put himself into the indi gent 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 per son 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 deserv ing, 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."
N. B. This treatise was published before Rousseau's Emilius; if there be a similitude in any one instance, it is hoped that the author of the present Essay will not be deemed a plagiarist.
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 treat ed almost by all in a declamatory manner. They have insist ed largely on the advantages that result from it, both to indi viduals and to society; and have expatiated in the praise of what none have ever been so hardy as to call in ques tion.
Instead of giving us fine but empty harangues upon this subject; instead of indulging each his particular and whim sical 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 er roneous productions written upon this subject. Their authors have studied to be uncommon, not to be just; and, at pre sent, we want a treatise upon education, not to tell us any[Page 40] thing new, but to explode the errors which have been intro duced 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.
I shall, therefore, throw out a few thoughts upon this subject, which, though known, have not been attended to by others; and shall dismiss all attempts to please, while I study only instruction.
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 con tinuance 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 expe rience, 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 prefer able to free-schools, as being in the country, this is certainly the only advantage I can allow them: otherwise it is impos sible 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 inconve nient; 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 despi sed, 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 ad vantage 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 admit ting 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 phi losopher 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 ush er, 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 man ners, 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 learn ing? 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 pro perly 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. Ha bit, 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 pea sants, there are found children born with such constitutions, that they cross rivers by swimming, endure cold, thirst, hun ger, and want of sleep, to a surprising degree; that, when they happen to fall sick, they are cured without the help of medi cine, by nature alone. Such examples are adduced to per suade 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 as cetic 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 be come 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 consider ed, 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 pos sible, 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 chil dren of city parents.
As boys should be educated with temperance, so the first greatest lesson that should be taught them is, to admire fruga lity. It is by the exercise of this virtue alone, they can e ver 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 ha ving 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 fru gal, laborious, and fill the station they have chosen. If they deny themselves the necessaries of life, society is no way inju red by their folly.
Instead, therefore, of romances, which praise young men of spirit, who go through a variety of adventures, and at last con clude 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 lord mayor; 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 a ny 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 fan cy themselves transported into a new region. "Ut cum in forum venerint existiment se in aliam terrarum orbem de latos."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 deffer red to a maturer age, or to those times when natural curiosity prompts us to discover the wonders of nature. Man is plac ed 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 bur dened 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 re lish 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 applaud ed 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 plea sure, 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 elo quence 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 fi gure must one of these gentlemen cut, thus measuring syl lables, 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 archi tecture, 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.
To teach men to be orators, is little less than to teach them to be poets; and, for my part, I should have too great a regard for my child, to wish him a manor only in a book seller's shop.[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 transla tions. 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 re commend only the old common one; I have forgot whether Lilly's, or an emendation of him. The others may be im provements; 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 in struction of this kind, is only deceiving ourselves; and I know no passion capable of conquering a child's natural lazi ness, 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 ten derness 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 ba nished 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 pre vent 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 plead ing 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 vul gar, that I am ever led to suspect that merit which raises their shout; at least I am certain to find those great, and some times 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 neigh bourhood 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 de signed 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 bare faced 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, re tired 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 refin ing 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 men tioned before. "What, have you never heard of that im mortal 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 sac rifice 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 universi ty, 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 un heeded 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 imagi nation, 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 shout ed in their turn. "Where was there ever so much merit[Page 53] seen? no times so important as our own; ages, yet un born, 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 news papers and magazines, those echoes of the voice of the vul gar, 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 sub ject; 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 re wards 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
A MODEST ADDRESS TO THE PUBLIC.
THE public has been so often imposed upon by the un performing promises of others, that it is with the utmost mo desty, 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 let ter-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 our selves. As we have no interested motives for this under taking, 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.
Be careful to ask for the Infernal Magazine.
DEDICATION To that most ingenious of all Patrons, THE TRIPOLINE AMBASSADOR.
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 where with we are honoured, shall be ever retained with the most warm ardour, by,
A SPEECHSPOKEN 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 Bel lows-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 re signed 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.
RULES FOR BEHAVIOUR,DRAWN UP BY THE INDIGENT PHILOSOPHER.
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.
When you are desired to sing in company, I would advise you to refuse; for it is a thousand to one but that you tor ment us with affectation, or a bad voice,
If you be young, and live with an old man, I would ad vise you not to like gravy; I was disinherited myself for lik ing gravy.
Don't laugh much in public; the spectators that are not as merry as you, will hate you, either because they envy your happiness, or fancy themselves the subject of your mirth.
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 sacri fice 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 eye-lid or in the roof of the mouth, inflicted by the devil him self. 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 man kind, 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 will ing to give the true one, wherefore they continue silent, and are thus detected.
THOUGH naturally pensive, yet I am fond of gay com pany, 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 in to 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 for ward 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 for ward, 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 fami liarity 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 coun try."During the reply, I had an opportunity of survey ing 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 rib bon, 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 at tended 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 inti macy 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, 'Nedsays 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 ani mals to their prey; stand still, and swoop, they fall into my mouth."
"Ah, Tibbs thou art an happy fellow,"cried my com panion with looks of infinite pity, "I hope your fortune is as much improved as your understanding in such com pany." "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 remem ber 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 thou sand 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 for get 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 acquaint ance. However both for the interest of society, and per haps for his own, heaven has made him poor; and, while all the world perceives his wants, he fancies them conceal ed 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 em ployed 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 mat ter to shake off. My little beau yesterday overtook me a gain in one of the public walks, and, slapping me on the shoul der, saluted me with an air of the most perfect familiarity. [Page 61]His dress was the same as usual, except that he had more pow der 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 parti cular conversation.
The oddities that marked his character, however, soon be gan to appear; he bowed to several well-dressed persons, who, by their manner of returning the compliment, appeared per fect strangers. At intervals he drew out a pocket-book, seem ing 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 hu mour, "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 com panion, 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 be tween 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 crea ture; 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 un known, he seemed to have a particular aversion to every fre quented street: at last, however, we got to the door of a dismal looking house in the outlets of the town, where he in formed 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 de manded, whether I delighted in prospects; to which answer ing 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 some times 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 per mit us to ascend, till we came to what he was facetiously plea sed to call the first floor down the chimney; and knocking at the door, a voice, with a Scotch accent, from within, de manded, "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 con fusion, "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 for get 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 cham ber 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 slat tern 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 ac quainted 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 as suring 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 au thorised to offer mine; and must take leave to throw toge ther a few observations upon that part of a young man's con duct on his entering into life, as it is called.
The most usual way among young men who have no resolu tion of their own, is first to ask one friend's advice, and fol it for some time; then to ask advice of another, and turn to that; so of a third, still unsteady, always changing. How ever, every change of this nature is for the worse; people may tell you of your being unfit for some peculiar occupa tions 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 toge ther. "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. How ever, 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 sup port 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 fea thers. The dog grew angry, and had twenty times a mind to give her a sly snap; but suppressing his indignation, be cause his master was nigh, "A pox take thee,"cries he,[Page 67] "for a fool, sure those who have neither strength nor wea pons 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 e qually desirous of giving nobody offence. From hence they endeavour to please all, comply with every request, and at tempt to suit themselves to every company; have no will of their own; but, like wax, catch every contiguous impres sion. 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 ex hausted, it was exposed in the public market-place, with di rections at the bottom for every spectator to mark with a brush, that lay by, every limb and feature which seemed er roneous. 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 paint er came, he was mortified to find the picture one universal blot; not a single stroke that had not the marks of disap probation. 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 is sues 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 o ther'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 pub lishes 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 at tack them. In short, the whole people stand upon their de fence, 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 in stantly 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 de fensive, and bite, then he is unanimously found guilty, for "A mad dog always snaps at every thing."If, on the con trary, he strives to escape by running away, then he can ex pect no compassion, for "Mad dogs always run straight for ward 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 neigh bouring 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 immedi ately 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 be fore. 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 cir cumstances 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 mo ment gathers new strength, and grows more dismal as it ap proaches 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 becom ing 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 bit ten, not one in a hundred was bit by a mad dog. Such ac counts in general, therefore, only serve to make the people miserable by false terrors, and sometimes fright the patient in to actual frenzy, by creating those very symptoms they pre tended to deplore.
But even allowing three or four to die in a season of this ter rible 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 con stitution; and the poor man finds in his dog a willing assistant, eager to lessen his toil, and content with the smallest retri bution.
"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 a bate his fidelity; no distress induce him to forsake his bene factor; studious to please, and fearing to offend, he is still an humble, stedfast dependant; and in him alone fawn ing is not flattery. How unkind then to torture this faithful creature, who has left the forest to claim the pro tection of man! How ungrateful a return to the trusty animal for all its services!
AGE, that lessens the enjoyment of life, encreases our de sire 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 remain der 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 disappoint pointment 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 consci ousness of surviving every pleasure, would at once induce him, with his own hand, to terminate the scene of misery; but hap pily 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 ge neral, 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 advanta ges; not because it gives them pleasure, but because they have known it long.
Chinvang the Chaste, ascending the throne of China, com manded 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 ap peared 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 imprison ed, 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 rela tions, 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 an ticipated 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 pro mised 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 rea son, 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 with out shrinking; he would have boldly dared to live; and ser ved that society, by his future assiduity, which he basely in jured by his desertion.
FOREIGNERS observe, that there are no ladies in the world more beautiful, or more ill dressed, than those of Eng land. Our country-women, have been compared to those pictures, where the face is the work of a Raphael; but the dra peries 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 a version to fine cloaths than the women of any other country whatsoever. I can't fancy that a shop-keeper's wife in Cheap side 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 u niting 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 thi ther, 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 run ning 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."
"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 sixpenny worth 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 fair ly 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 cus tomers, laid out all her goods in adorning herself. Every new gown she put on impaired her credit; she still, how ever, went on, improving her appearances and lessening her little fortune, and is now, you see, become a belle and a bankrupt."
WHERE Tauris lifts its head above the storm, and pre sents nothing to the sight of the distant traveller, but a pros pect 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-crea tures with the most ardent affection: but, from the tender ness of his disposition, he exhausted all his fortune in reliev ing 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 ne ver before suspected to exist: wherever he turned, ingrati tude, 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 detes tation with contempt, he retired to this region of sterility, in order to brood over his resentment in solitude, and con verse 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 moun tain'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 medi tation, and sometimes exulting that he was able to live inde pendently of his fellow-creatures.
At the foot of the mountain, an extensive lake displayed its glassy bosom; reflecting, on its broad surface, the impend ing 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 per fectly 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, con templated, and fancied he saw something awful and divine in his aspect.
"Son of Adam,"cried the genius, "stop thy rash pur pose; the father of the faithful has seen thy justice, thy integrity, thy miseries, and hath sent me to afford and ad minister 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 hun dred fathoms, till Asem, just ready to give up his life as inevi tably 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 ra tional 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 late ly left, you have free permission to spend the remainder of your days in it; but permit me, for some time, to at tend you, that I may silence your doubts, and make you better acquainted with your company and your new inha bitation."
"A world without vice! Rational beings without immo rality!"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 o ther 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 asto nishment; 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 re moved this defect, and formed no voracious or destructive animals which only prey on the other parts of the crea tion." "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 sup port a more considerable number of animals, by their thus becoming food for each other, than if they had lived en tirely 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 en tered 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 ani mals 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 inhabi tants, 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 tender ness you so lately expressed for subordinate animals?"re plied 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 on ly 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 introdu cing 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 du ty 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 esta blished society; nor should there be any: all societies are made either through fear or friendship; the people we are a mong, are too good to fear each other; and there are no motives to private friendship, where all are equally merito rious." "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 a variciously endeavours to heap up more than is necessary for his own subsistence: each has therefore leisure for pity ing those that stand in need of his compassion."He had scarce spoken when his ears were assaulted with the lamentati ons of a wretch who sat by the way-side, and, in the most de plorable 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 injus tice 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 neces sary,"cried Asem; "and yet I contradict my own opinion but a moment before: all is doubt, perplexity and confusi on. Even the want of ingratitude is no virtue here, since they never received a favour. They have, however, ano ther excellence yet behind; the love of their country is still, I hope, one of their darling virtues." "Peace, A sem,"replied the guardian, with a countenance not less se vere than beautiful, "nor forfeit all thy pretensions to wis dom; 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 introdu ced to? There is scarce a single virtue, but that of temper ance, which they practise; and in that they are no way su perior to the very brute creation. There is scarce an a musement which they enjoy; fortitude, liberality, friend ship, wisdom, conversation, and love of country, all are vir tues entirely unknown here; thus it seems, that, to be un acquainted 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 Ma homet. Ingratitude, contempt, and hatred, I can now suffer, for perhaps I have deserved them. When I arraign ed the wisdom of Providence, I only shewed my own igno rance; 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 de parted from the water-side in tranquility, and, leaving his hor rid 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 domes tics 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 fre quent study, more than any others of this reverend profession in Europe. In general, also, it may be observed, that a great er 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 im bibe 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 depra vity 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 or ders of mankind, in other countries, testify, on every occasi on, the profoundest awe of religion; while in England they are scarcely awakened into a sense of its duties, even in cir cumstances of the greatest distress.
This dissolute and fearless conduct foreigners are apt to at tribute 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 me diocrity 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; deliver ed 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, in stead 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 indif ferently 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 natu rally presupposes us capable of reason; but to be made ca pable 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 en deavours in the orator to please them; the meanest qualifi cations will work this effect, if the preacher sincerely sets a bout it. Perhaps little, indeed very little more is required, than sincerity and assurance; and a becoming sincerity is al ways certain of producing a becoming assurance. "Si vis me flere, dolendum est primum tibi ipsi,"is so trite a quo tation, 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 au dience 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 Ma sillon, 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 pro fit to be expected from his sowing in a soil so improper; how ever, 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 salva tion; 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 elo quence 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 in struction 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 deli very.
It will be perhaps be objected, that, by confining the ex cellencies 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 calcu lated 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 — re quires a different method of proceeding. All I shall observe on this head is, to entreat the polemic divine, in his contro versy 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 dis putes; their contests with each other often turn on specula tive 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 under most."
I HAVE frequently been amazed at the ignorance of almost all the European travellers, who have penetrated any consi derable way eastward into Asia. They all have been in fluenced 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 philo sopher 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 pecu liar secrets, either in nature or art, which might be trans planted 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 in ferior to silver; not one of which secrets but would, in Eu rope, 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 dar ing spirit, of his genius, penetration, and learning, travelled to those countries which have been visited only by the supersti tious 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 where ever 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 astro nomy, nor yet instruct the polite Chinese in the arts of sub sistence: 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 add ing 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 send ing 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 re lations of their own travellers. It will there be found, that they are as often deceived themselves, as they attempt to de ceive 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 em braced 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 reli gion, 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 judi cious 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, with out 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 philo sophical 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 sys tem, 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; fur nished with a body capable of sustaining every fatigue, and a heart not easily terrified at danger.
THE improvements we make in mental acquirements, on ly render us each day more sensible of the defects of our con stitution: with this in view, therefore, let us often recur to the amusements of youth; endeavour to forget age and wis dom, 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 cor rection: 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 ho noured by prince Henry, and sometimes polluted by his im moral 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 pon derous 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 con trast 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 ge nerally 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 seem ed quilled into a ruff, and his breeches swelled out into a far dingale. 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 be low 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 com passion, 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 dream ing, 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 sub ject; 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 thou sand 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 pro bably, 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 vul gar. 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 ab sence 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 sub mitted to thy regards." 'None of your whilhoms or eft soons'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 lan guage, 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 be lieve, 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 disor derly 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 con tinued, 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 fa tal morning he missed the usual beverage; for I had incauti ously 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.
'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.'
"If you please then, Sir,"returned my companion, "I'll read you an abstract, which I made of the three hundred volumes I mentioned just now.
"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 de luge 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 de bauchery, it was now filled with continual lewdness. The prior led the fashion, and the whole convent imitated his pi ous example. Matrons came hither to confess their sins, and to commit new. Virgins came hither who seldom went vir gins 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 con fessors, 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, nei ther, good madam; pretty much like the present; these that labour, starve; and those that do nothing, wear fine cloaths and live in luxury.'
"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 or dered to fast and pray, every method being previously used to induce both to a confession of the truth. After a month's impri sonment, 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 cham pions were sworn not to seek victory either by fraud or ma gic. They prayed and confessed upon their knees; and af ter these ceremonies, the rest was left to the courage and con duct 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 victori ous in the present combat. In short, the husband was discom fited; 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 counte nance 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 Lon don 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 termi nated 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 per ceived that her voice was not her own, but that of the devil[Page 105] within her. In short, she was bewitched; and all the diffi culty 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 ques tions 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 reluctant ly owned that he was a servant of the prior; that, by his command, he resided in his present habitation; and that, with out 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 wit nesses 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 burn ings, 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 our selves; they believed what the devil was pleased to tell them; and we seem resolved, at last, to believe neither God nor devil.'
"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 impos sible 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 sto ries of spirits, several of which she herself had seen; and one of which she was reported to have killed with a black hafted 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, bear beatings, 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 conque ror. Her mental qualifications were exactly fitted to her ex ternal 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 promp ter. 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 equip ped, 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.'
"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 ad mired 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,'inter rupting 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 corre spondent, "knew how to put off her damaged wine or wo men with more art than she. When these grew flat, or those paltry, it was but changing the names; the wine became ex cellent, and the girls agreeable. She was also possessed of the engaging leer, the chuck under the chin, winked at a double entendre, 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 de bauchery, how often I have been present at the various ap pearances of drunkenness, riot, guilt, and brutality! A ta vern 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.
"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 har bouring 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 ex travagant and luxurious."— 'Lord! Mrs Quickly,'inter rupted 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 din ing-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 diffi culty: 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 bene volence amazes me. They not only in general, give their medicines for half value, but use the most persuasive remon strances 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 plea sure in acquiring it? He must, otherwise he would never re ject such repeated assurances of instant relief. What can be more convincing than the manner in which the sick are in vited to be well? The doctor first begs the most earnest at tention of the public to what he is going to propose; he so lenmly 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 skil ful gardener she invites them from every foreign climate to herself. Here every great exotic strikes root as soon as im ported, 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 be ing 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, inade quate 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. Some times 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 u sually drawn, at the top of his own bills, sitting in his arm chair, 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 un der no uneasiness, make yourself quite easy, I can cure you."[Page 113]
The next in fame, though by some reckoned of equal pre tensions, is Doctor Timothy Franks, F.O.G.H. living in the Old Bailey. As Rock is remarkably squab, his great ri val 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 gentle man, 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 appel lation 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 pro fession 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, a bout the hour in which company leave it to go to dinner. There were but few in the walks, and those who stayed, seem ed 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 up on 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-cushion makers 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 e nough 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 ale house; 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 corre spond with his inclination. After dinner was over, he obser ved 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 step mother; 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 where ever 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]
WHEN Catherina Alexowna was made empress of Russia, the women were in an actual state of bondage; but she un dertook 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 ordi nances 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 there fore 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.
"I. The person at whose house the assembly is to be kept shall signify the same by hanging out a bill, or by giving some other public notice, by way of advertisement, to persons of both sexes.[Page 124]
"II. The assembly shall not be open sooner than four or five o'clock in the afternoon, nor continue longer than ten at night.
"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 com pany may ask for; he is likewise to provide them with cards, dice, and every necessary for gaming.
"IV. There shall be no fixed hour for coming or going away; it is enough for a person to appear in the assembly.
"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 suffi cient, 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.
"VII. A particular place shall be assigned the footmen, except those of the house, that there may be room enough in the apartments designed for the assembly.
"VIII. No ladies are to get drunk upon any pretence whatsoever, nor shall gentlemen be drunk before nine.
"IX. Ladies who play at forfeitures, questions and com mands, &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 sin cere.
THE formalities, delays, and disappointments, that pre cede a treaty of marriage here, are usually as numerous as those previous to a treaty of peace. The laws of this coun try are finely calculated to promote all commerce, but the commerce between the sexes. Their encouragements for propagating hemp, madder, and tobacco, are indeed admir able! 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, mu tual 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 ena moured 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 o ther 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 for sake her; and, when perhaps grown ugly, is charitably en trusted 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 with out benefit of clergy.
Thus you find the Europeans discouraging love with as much earnestness as the rudest savage of Sofala. The Genius is sure ly now no more. In every region I find enemies in arms to oppress him. Avarice in Europe, jealousy in Persia, cere mony in China, poverty among the Tartars, and lust in Cir cassia, 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 fa vour.
"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 su periority of their claims.[Page 127]
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 de clamation; and the world is called upon to gaze at the noble sufferers: the great, under the pressure of calamity, are con scious 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 va nity; but he who, in the vale of obscurity, can brave adver sity; 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 magni fied 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 incon ceiveable what difficulties the meanest of our common soldiers and sailors indure without murmuring or regret, without pas sionately declaiming against Providence, or calling their fel lows 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 ma ny 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 meet ing, 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 in to an attitude to comply with my request, and gave me his history as follows:
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.
ESSAY XXV.SUPPOSED TO BE WRITTEN BY THE OR DINARY OF NEWGATE.
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 perse vering uniformity of conduct, appears in all that happened in his short span, that the whole may be looked upon as one re gular confusion: every action of his life was matter of won der 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. How ever, 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 bet ter than he: so that, at last, his creditors swore with one ac cord, 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 push ing 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 no thing 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 com panions at last said that THE. — would be hanged.
As he grew old, he grew never the better; he loved orto lans 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 as sist. You expect, perhaps, his dying words, and the tender farewell he took of his wife and children; you expect an ac count 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!
"Reader,"as Hervey saith, "pause and ponder; and pon der and pause; who knows what thy own end may be?"
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 wri ters are of this kind; they persuade us to friendships, which we find it impossible to sustain to the last; so that this sweet ner of life under proper regulations, is, by their means, ren dered 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 good nature 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 re gularly undertake to cultivate friendship find ingratitude ge nerally 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 them selves 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 ga ther 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 Musido rus 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 former ly fallen.
To this story, taken from modern life, I shall add one more, taken from a Greek writer of antiquity: — Two Jewish sol diers, 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 particu lar 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 ad verse 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, join ing 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 a midst 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 Centu rion 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 great ness of his fall. '
BOOKS, while they teach us to respect the interests of others, often make us unmindful of our own; while they in struct the youthful reader to grasp at social happiness, he grows miserable in detail; and, attentive to universal har mony, often forgets that he himself has a part to sustain in the concert. I dislike therefore the philosopher who de scribes 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 incon veniencies 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 fil led 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 pro ceeds; and here begins his disappointments; upon a closer inspection[Page 141] of human nature, he perceives, that he should have mo derated 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 be holds 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, with out being able to form an alliance among the virtuous to e spouse his quarrel.
Our book-taught philosopher, however, is now too far advanced to recede; and though poverty be the just conse quence of the many enemies his conduct has created, yet he is resolved to meet it without shrinking: philosophers have de scribed poverty in most charming colours; and even his va nity is touched in thinking, he shall shew the world in him self 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 compani ons. 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 bride groom 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 ap pears Poverty to her new entertainer; all the fabric of enthu siasm 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 sig nifies 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.
Spleen now begins to take up the man; not distinguishing in his resentments, he regards all mankind with detestation; and commencing man-hater, seeks solitude to be at liberty to rail.
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 with out experience, and knew not how to gain it in his intercourse with mankind.
END OF THE ESSAYS.