Imágenes de páginas

time, but to no purpose, till, at length recollecting "I can not avoid imagining, that thus refined by himself, with a face of ineffable good-nature, as he his lessons out of all my suspicion, and divested of had no money, he put into her hands his shilling's even all the little cunning which nature had given worth of matches.

me, I resembled, upon my first entrance into the busy and insidious world, one of those gladiators who were exposed without armour in the amphi

theatre at Rome. My father, however, who had LETTER XXVII.

only seen the world on one side, seemed to triumph

in my superior discernment; though my whole To the Same.

stock of wisdom consisted in being able to talk like As there appeared to be something reluctantly himself upon subjects that once were useful, begood in the character of my companion, I must cause they were then topics of the busy world, but own it surprised me what could be his motives for that now were utterly useless, because connected thus concealing virtues which others take such pains with the busy world no longer. to display. I was unable to repress my desire of “The first opportunity he bad of finding his exknowing the history of a man who thus seemed to pectations disappointed, was in the very middling act under continual restraint, and whose benevo- figure I made in the university; he had flattered lence was rather the effect of appetite than reason. himself that he should soon see me rising into the

It was not, however, till after repeated solicita- foremost rank in literary reputation, but was mortions he thought proper to gratify my curiosity. tified to find me utterly annoticed and unknown. "If you are fond,” says he, "of hearing hair- His disappointment might have been partly ascribbreath escapes, my history must certainly please ; ed to his having overrated my talents

, and partly for I have been for twenty years upon the very to my dislike of mathematical reasonings, at a time verge of starving, without ever being starved. when my imagination and memory, yet unsatisfied,

"My father, the younger son of a good family, were more eager after new objects, than desirous was possessed of a small living in the church. of reasoning upon those I knew. This did not, His education was above his fortune, and his ge- however, please my tutor, who observed, indeed, nerosity greater than his education. Poor as he that I was a little dull; but at the same time allowwas, he had his flatterers still poorer than himself; ed, that I seemed to be very good-natured, and had for every dinner he gave them, they returned an no harm in me. equivalent in praise, and this was all he wanted. “After I had resided at college seven years, my The same ambition that actuates a monarch at the father died, and left me-his blessing. Thus shoved head of an army, influenced my father at the head from shore without ill-nature to protect, or cunning of his table; he told the story of the ivy-tree, and to guide, or proper stores to subsist me in so danthat was laughed at; he repeated the jest of the gerous a voyage, I was obliged to embark in the two scholars and one pair of breeches, and the wide world at twenty-two. But, in order to settle company laughed at that; but the story of Taffy in life, my friends advised (for they always advise in the sedan-chair was sure to set the table in a when they begin to despise us), they advised me, roar: thus his pleasure increased in proportion to I say, to go into orders. the pleasure he gave; he loved all the world, and “To be obliged to wear a long wig, when I liked he fancied all the world loved him.

a short one, or a black coat, when I generally As his fortune was but small, he lived up to dressed in brown, I thought was such a restraint the very extent of it; he had no intentions of leav- upon my liberty, that I absolutely rejected the proing his children money, for that was dross; he was posal. A priest in England is not the same mor. resolved they should have learning; for learning, tified creature with a bonze in China : with us, not he used to observe, was better than silver or gold. he that fasts best, but eats best, is reckoned the For this purpose, he undertook to instruct us him- best liver; yet I rejected a life of luxury, indolence, self; and took as much pains to form our morals as and ease, from no other consideration but that to improve our understanding. We were told, that boyish one of dress. So that my friends were now universal benevolence was what first cemented so- perfectly satisfied I was undone; and yet they ciety; we were taught to consider all the wants of thought it a pity for one who had not the least inankind as our own; to regard the "human face harm in him, and was so very good-natured. divine" with affection and esteem; he wound us "Poverty naturally begels dependence, and I up to be mere machines of pity, and rendered us was admitted as flatterer to a great 'man. At first incapable of withstanding the slightest impulse I was surprised, that the situation of a flatterer at made either by real or fictitious distress ; in a word, a great man's table could be thought disagreeable: we were perfectly instructed in the art of giving there was no great trouble in listening attentively away thousands, before we were taught the more when his lordship spoke, and laughing when he necessary qualifications of getting a farthing. looked round for applause. This even good man

[ocr errors]

ners might have obliged me to perform. I found, sorry for that, cries the scrivener, with all my
however, too soon, that his lordship was a greater heart; for they who want money when they come
dunce than myself; and from that very moment to borrow, will always want money when they
flattery was at an end. I now rather aimed at set- should come to pay.
ting him right, than at receiving his absurdities “From him I flew with indignation to one of the
with submission : to flatter those we do not know, best friends I had in the world, and made the same
is an easy task; but to flatter our intimate acquaint- request. Indeed, Mr. Dry-bone, cries my friend,
ances, all whose foibles are strongly in our eye, is I always thought it would come to this. You know,
drudgery insupportable. Every time I now open- sir, I would not advise you but for your own good;
ed my lips ir praise, my falsehvod went to my con but your conduct has hitherto been ridiculous in
science: his lordship soon perceived me to be very the highest degree, and some of your acquaintance
unfit for service; I was therefore discharged; my always thought you a very silly fellow. Let me
patron at the same time being graciously pleased see, you want two hundred pounds. Do you only
to observe, that he believed I was tolerably good- want two hundred, sir, exactly? To confess a
natured, and had not the least harm in me. truth, returned I, I shall want three hundred; but

“ Disappointed in ambition, I had recourse to then I have another friend, from whom I can bor-
love. A young lady, who lived with her aunt, and row the rest. Why then, replied my friend, if you
was possessed of a pretty fortune in her own dis- would take my advice (and you know I should not
posal, had given me, as I fancied, some reason to presume to advise you but for your own good), I
expect success. The symptoms by which I was would recommend it to you to borrow the whole
guided were striking. She had always laugh- sum from that other friend; and then urle note will
ed with me at her awkward acquaintance, and at serve for all, you know.
der aurt among the number; she always observed "Poverty now began to come fast upon me; yet
that a man of sense would make a better husband instead of growing more provident or cautious, as
than a fool, and I as constantly applied the obser- I grew poor, I became every day more indolent and
vation in my own favour. She continually talked, simple. A friend was arrested for fifty pounds ; I
in my company, of friendship and the beauties of was unable to extricate him, except by becoming
the mind, and spoke of Mr. Shrimp my rival's his bail. When at liberty, he fled from his credi-
aigh-heeled shoes with detestation. These were tors, and left me to take his place. In prison I ex.
circumstances which I thought strongly in my fa- pected greater satisfactions than I had enjoyed at
your; so, after resolving, and re-resolving, I had large. I hoped to converse with men in this new
courage enough to tell her my mind. Miss heard world, simple and believing like myself, but I found
my proposal with serenity, seeming at the same them as cunning and as cautious as those in the
time to study the figures of her fan. Out at last world I had left behind. They sponged up my
it came. There was but one small objection to money whilst it lasted, borrowed my coals, and
complete our happiness, which was no more than never paid for them, and cheated me when I play.

that she was married three months before to ed at cribbage. All this was done because they Mr. Shrimp, with high-heeled shoes! By way of believed me to be very good-natured, and knew that consolation, however, she observed, that though I i had no harm in me. was disappointed in her, my addresses to her aunt “Upon my first entrance into this mansion, would probably kindle her into sensibility: as the which is to some the abode of despair, I felt no old lady always allowed me to be very good-natured sensations different from those I experienced abroad. and not to have the least share of harm in me. I was now on one side the door, and those who

“Yet still I had friends, numerous friends, and were unconfined were on the other: this was all to them I was resolved to apply. O Friendship! the difference between us. At first, indeed, I felt thou fond soother of the human breast, to thee we some uneasiness, in considering how I should be fily in every calamity; to thee the wretched seek for able to provide this week for the wants of the week succour; on thee the care-tired son of misery fond- ensuing; but, after some time, if I found myself ly relies; from thy kind assistance the unfortunate sure of eating one day, I never troubled my head always hopes relief, and may be ever sure of—dis- how I was to be supplied another. I seized every appointment! My first application was to a city- precarious meal with the utmost good-humour; scrivener, who had frequently offered to lend me indulged no rants of spleen at my situation ; never money, when he knew I did n^: want it. I in-called down Heaven and all the stars to behold me formed him, that now was the time to put his dining upon a halfpenny-worth of radishes; my friendship to the test ; that I wanted to borrow a very companions were taught to believe that I liked couple of hundreds for a certain occasion, and was salad better than mutton. I contented myself with resolved to take it up from híın. And pray, sir, thinking, that all my life I should either eat white cried my friend, do you want all this money! In- bread or brown; considered all that happened was deed I never wanted it more, returned I. I am best; laughed when I was not in pain, wok tho

[ocr errors]

the world as it went, and read Tacitus often, for drive a trade they have been so long unfit for, and want of more books and company.

swarming upon the gaiety of the age. I bebold an “How long I might have continued in this tor- old bachelor in the most contemptible light, as an pid state of simplicity, I can not tell, had I not been animal that lives upon the common stock without roused by seeing an old acquaintance, whom 1 contributing his share: he is a beast of prey, and knew to be a prudent blockhead, preferred to a the laws should make use of as many stratagems, place in the government. I now found that I had and as much force, to drive the reluctant savage pursued a wrong track, and that the true way of into the toils, as the Indians when they hunt the being able to relieve others, was first to aim at in- rhinoceros. The mob should be permitted to dependence myself: my immediate care, therefore, halloo after him, boys might play tricks on him was to leave iny present habitation, and make an with impunity, every well-bred company should entire reformation in my conduct and behaviour. laugh at him; and if, when turned of sixty, he ofFor a free, open, undesigning deportment, I put fered to make love, his mistress might spit in his on that of closeness, prudence, and economy. One face, or, what would be perhaps a greater punishof the most heroic actions I ever performed, and ment, should fairly grant the favour. for which I shall praise myself as long as I live, As for old maids, continued I, they should not was the refusing half-a-crown to an old acquaint- be treated with so much severity, because I supance, at the time when he wanted it, and I had it pose none would be so if they could. No lady in to spare : for this alone I deserve to be decreed an her senses would choose to make a subordinate ovation.

figure at christenings or lyings-in, when she might "I now therefore pursued a course of uninter- be the principal herself; nor curry favour with a rupted frugality, seldom wanted a dinner, and was sister-in-law, when she might command a husband; consequently invited to twenty. I soon began to nor toil in preparing custards, when she might lie get the character of a saving hunks that had money, a-bed, and give directions how they ought to be and insensibly grew into esteem. Neighbours made; nor stifle all her sensations in demure forhave asked my advice in the disposal of their mality, when she might with matrimonial freedaughters ; and I have always taken care not to dom, shake her acquaintance by the hand, and give any. I have contracted a friendship with an wink at a double entendre. No lady could be so alderman, only by observing, that if we take a far. very silly as to live single, if she could help it. I thing from a thousand pounds, it will be a thou- consider an unmarried lady, declining into the vale sand pounds no longer. I have been invited to a of years, as one of those charming countries borpawnbroker's table, by pretending to hate gravy; dering on China, that lies waste for want of proper and am now actually upon treaty of marriage with inhabitants. We are not to accuse the country, a rich widow, for only having observed that the but the ignorance of its neighbours, who are insenbread was rising. If ever I am asked a question, sible of its beauties, though at liberty to enter and whether I know it or not, instead of answering, 1 cultivate the soil. only smile and look wise. If a charity is proposed, "Indeed, sir,” replied my companion, "you are I go about with the hat, but put nothing in myself

. very little acquainted with the English ladies to If a wretch solicits my pity, I observe that the think they are old maids against their will. I dare world is filled with impostors, and take a certain venture to affirm, that you can hardly select one method of not being deceived, by never relieving. of them all, but has had frequent offers of marIn short, I now find the truest way of finding es- riage, which either pride or avarice has not made teem, even from the indigent, is to give away no her reject. Instead of thinking it a disgrace, they thing, and thus have much in our power to give." take every occasion to boast of their former cruel.

ty: a soldier does not exult more when he counts over the wounds he has received, than a femals

veteran when she relates the wounds she has forLETTER XVIII,

merly given: exhaustless when she begins a nar. rative of the former death-dealing power of her

eyes. She tells of the knight in gold lace, who died Lately, in company with my friend in black, with a single frown, and never rose again till-he whose conversation is now both my amusement was married to his maid; of the 'squire, who, being and instruction, I could not avoid observing the cruelly denied, in a rage flew to the window, and great numbers of old bachelors and maiden ladies lifting up the sash, threw himself in an agonywith which this city seems to be overrun. Sure, into his arm chair; of the parson, who, crossed in marriage, said I, is not sufficiently encouraged, or love, resolutely swallowed opium, which banished we should never behold such crowds of battered the stings of despised loveby making him sleep beaux, and decayed coquettes, still attempting to In short, she talks over her former losses with

To the Same.

From the Same,


plensure, and, like some tradesmen, finds consolation in the many bankruptcies she has suffered.

LETTER XXIX. “For this reason, whenever I see a superannuated beauty still unmarried, I tacitly accuse her either of pride, avarice, coquetry, or affectation. Were we lo estimate the learning of the English There's Miss Jenny Tinderbox, I once remember by the number of books that are every day pubher to have had some beauty, and a moderate for. lished among them, perhaps no country, not even tune. Her elder sister happened to marry a man China itself, could equal them in this particular. of quality, and this seemed as a statute of virginity I have reckoned not less than twenty-three new against poor Jane. Because there was one lucky books published in one day; which, upon compuhit in the family, she was resolved not to disgrace tation, makes eight thousand three hundred and it by introducing a tradesman. By thus rejecting ninety-five in one year. Most of these are not her equals, and neglected or despised by her su- confined to one single science, but embrace the periors, she now acts in the capacity of tutoress to whole circle. History, politics, poetry, matheher sister's children, and undergoes the drudgery matics, metaphysics, and the philosophy of nature, of three servants, without receiving the wages of are all comprised in a manual not larger than

that in which our children are taught the letters. “ Miss Squeeze was a pawnbroker's daughter; If then we suppose the learned of England to read her father bad early taught her that money was a but an eighth part of the works which daily come very good thing, and left her a moderate fortune at from the press (and surely none can pretend to his death. She was so perfectly sensible of the learning upon less easy terms), at this rate every value of what she had got, that she was resolved scholar will read a thousand books in one year. never to part with a farthing without an equality From such a calculation, you may conjecture what on the part of the suitor: she thus refused several an amazing fund of literature a man must be posoffers made her by people who wanted to better sessed of, who thus reads three new books every themselves, as the saying is; and grew old and ill- day, not one of which but contains all the good natured, without ever considering that she should things that ever were said or written. have made an abatement in her pretensions, from And yet I know not how it happens, but tho her face being pale, and marked with the small- English are not in reality so learned as would seem pox.

from this calculation. We meet but few who know “Lady Betty Tempest, on the contrary, had all arts and sciences to perfection; whether it is beauty, with fortune and family. But fond of that the generality are incapable of such extensive conquests, she passed from triumph to triumph; knowledge, or that the authors of those books are she had read plays and romances, and there had not adequate instructors. In China, the emperor learned, that a plain man of common sense was no himself takes cognizance of all the doctors in the better than a fool; such she refused, and sighed kingdom who profess authorship. In England, oniy for the gay, giddy, inconstant, and thought- every man may be an author that can write; for less: after she had thus rejected hundreds who they have by law a liberty not only of saying what liked her, and sighed for hundreds who despised they please, but of being also as dull as they please her, she found herself insensibly deserted; at pre- Yesterday, I testified my surprise to the man in sent she is company only for her aunts and cou. black, where writers could be found in sufficient sins, and sometimes makes one in a country dance, number to throw off the books I daily saw crowdwith only one of the chairs for a partner, casts off ing from the press. I at first imagined that their round a joint-tool, and sets to a corner cupboard. learned seminaries might take this method of inIn a word, she is treated with civil contempt from structing the world. But, to obviate this objection, every quarter, and placed, like a piece of old- my companion assured me, that the doctors of colfashioned lumber, merely to fill up a corner. leges never wrote, and that some of them had

"But Sophronia, the sagacious Sophronia, how actually forgot their reading ; but if you desire, shall I mention her? She was taught to love continued he, to see a collection of authors, I fancy Greek, and hate the men from her very infancy: I can introduce you this evening to a club, which she has rejected fine gentlemen because they were assembles every Saturday at seven, at the sign of not pedants, and pedants because they were not the broom, near Islington, to talk over the business fine gentlemen her exquisite sensibility has taught of the last, and the entertainment of the week her to discover every fault in every lover, and her ensuing. I accepted his invitation; we walked inflexible justice has prevented her pardoning together, and entered the house some time before them; thus she rejected several offers, till the the usual hour for the company assembling. wrinkles of age had overtaken her; and now, with- My friend took this opportunity of letting mo out one good feature in her face, she talks inces-into the characters of the principal members of the sanily of the bcauties of the mind." Farewell. Iclub, not even the host excepted; who, it seems was once an author himself, but preferred by a dispositions. Happy it were for mankind if el bookseller to this situation as a reward for his for- travellers would thus, instead of characterizing a mer services.

people in general terms, lead us into a detail of The first person, said he, of our society, is those minute circumstances which first influenced Doctor Nonentity, a metaphysician. Most people their opinion. The genius of a country should be think him a profound scholar; but as he seldom investigated with a kind of experimental inquiry: by speaks, I can not be positive in that particular: he this means, we should have more precise and just generally spreads himself before the fire, sucks his notions of foreign nations, and detect travellers pipe, talks little, drinks much, and is reckoned very themselves when they happened to form wrong good company. I'm told he writes indexes to per- conclusions. fection, he makes essays on the origin of evil, phi. My friend and I repeated our visit to the club of losophical inquiries upon any subject, and draws authors; where, upon our entrance, we found the up an answer to any book upon twenty-four hours' members all assembled, and engaged in a loud warning. You may distinguish him from the rest debate. of the company by his long gray wig, and the blue The poet, in shabby finery, holding a manuscript handkerchief round his neck.

in his hand, was earnestly endeavouring to persuade The next to him in merit and esteem is Tim the company to hear him read the first book of an Syllabub, a droll creature ; he sometimes shines as heroic poem, which he had composed the day a star of the first magnitude among the choice before. But against this all the members very spirits of the age: he is reckoned equally excellent warmly objected. They knew no reason why any at a rebus, a riddle, a bawdy song, and a hymn for member of the club should be indulged with a the Tabernacle. You will know him by his shab- particular hearing, when many of them had pubby finery, his powdered wig, dirty shirt, and broken lished whole volumes which had never been looked silk stockings.

in. They insisted, that the law should be observed After him succeeds Mr. Tibs, a very useful where reading in company was expressly noticed. hand; he writes receipts for the bite of a mad dog, It was in vain that the poet pleaded the peculiar and throws off an eastern tale to perfection: he merit of his piece; he spoke to an assembly inunderstands the business of an author as well as sensible to all his remonstrances: the book of laws any man, for no bookseller alive can cheat him. was opened, and read by the secretary, where it You may distinguish him by the peculiar clumsi- was expressly enacted, “That whatsoever poet, Dess of his figure, and the coarseness of his coat : speech-maker, critic, or historian, should presume however, though it be coarse (as he frequently tells to engage the company by reading his own works. the company) he has paid for it.

he was to lay down sixpence previous to opening Lawyer Squint is the politician of the society; the manuscript, and should be charged one shilling he makes speeches for Parliament, writes addresses an hour while he continued reading: the said to his fellow-subjects

, and letters to noble com- shilling to be equally distributed among the commanders; he gives the history of every new play, pany as a recompense for their trouble." and finds seasonable thoughts upon every occasion. Our poet seemed at first to shrink at the penalty, My companion was proceeding in his description hesitating for some time whether he should deposit when the host came running in with terror on his the fine, or shut up the poem; but looking round, countenance to tell us, that the door was beset with and perceiving two strangers in the room, his love bailiffs. If that be the case then, says my com- of fame outweighed his prudence, and, laying down panion, we had as good be going; for I am positive the sum by law established, he insisted on his prewe shall not see one of the company this night. rogative. Wherefore, disappointed, we were both obliged to A profound silence ensuing, he began by er. return home, he to enjoy the oddities which com- plaining his design. “Gentlemen,” says he, "the pose his character alone, and I to write as usual to present piece is not one of your common epic poems, my friend the occurrences of the day. Adieu. which come from the press like paper-kites in sum

mer: there are none of your Turnus's or Dido's in

it, it is an heroical description of Nature. I only LETTER XXX

beg you'll endeavour to make your souls in unison with mine, and hear with the same enthusiasm

with which I have written, The poem begins with By my last advices from Moscow, I find the the description of an author's bedchamber; the piccaravan has not yet departed for China: I still con- ture was sketched in my own apartment: for you tinue to write, expecting that you may receive a must know, gentlemen, that I am myself the hero." large number of my letters at once. In them you Then putting himself into the attitude of an orator, will find rather a minute detail of English pecu- with all the emphasis of voice and action, he pra Kirsities, than a general picture of their manners or ceeded :

From the Same.

« AnteriorContinuar »