Abbildungen der Seite

allow them to be Harpsichords, a kind of music which every one knows is a concert by itself.

As for your Passing-bells, who look upon mirth as criminal, and talk of nothing but what is melancholy in itself, and mortifying to human nature, I shall not mention them.

I shall likewise pass over in silence all the rabble of mankind, that crowd our streets, coffee-houses, feasts, and public tables. I cannot call their discourse conversation, but rather something that is practised in imitation of it. For which reason, if I would describe them by any musical instrument, it should be by those modern inventions of the Bladder and String, Tongs and Key, Marrow-bone and Cleaver.

My reader will doubtless observe that I have only touched here upun male instruments, having reserved my female concert to another occasion. If he has a mind to know where these several characters are to be met with, I could direct him to a whole club of Drums; not to mention another of Bag-pipes, which I have before given some account of in my description of our nightly meetings in Sheer-lane. The Lutes may often be met with in couples upon the banks of a crystal stream, or in the retreats of shady woods and flowery meadows; which, for different reasons, are likewise the great resort of your Hunting-horns. Bass-viols are frequently to be found over a glass of stale beer and a pipe of tobacco; whereas those who set up for Violins seldom fail to make their appearance at Will's once every evening. You may meet with a Trumpet any where on the other side of Charing-cross.

That we may draw something for our advantage in life out of the foregoing discourse, I must entreal my reader to make a narrow search into his life and can


versation, and, upon his leaving any company, to examine himself seriously, whether he has behaved him self in it like a Drum or a Trumpet, a Violin or a Bass-viol ; and accordingly endeavour to mend his music for the future. For my own part, I must confess, I was a Drum for many years ; nay, and a very noisy one, until, having polished myself a little in good company, I threw as much of the Trumpet into my conversation as was possible for a man of an impetuous temper : by which mixture of different musics, I look upon myself, during the course of many years, to have resembled a Tabor and Pipe. I have since very much endeavoured at the sweetness of the Lute; but; in spite of all my resolutions, I must confess, with great confusion, that I find myself daily degenerating into a Bag-pipe: whether it be the effect of my old age, or of the company I keep, I know not. All that I can do is to keep a watch over my conversation, and to silence the Drone as soon as I find it begin to hum in my discourse; being determined rather to hear the notes of others, than to play out of time, and incroach upon their parts in the concert by a noise of so tiresome an instrument.



There lived some years since, within my neighbourhood, a very grave person, an upholsterer, who seemed a man of more than ordinary application to business. He was a very early riser, and was often abroad two or three hours before any of his neighYOL, I,



bours. He had a particular carefulness in the knitting of his brows, and a kind of impatience in all his motions, that plainly discovered he was always intent on matters of importance. Upon my inquiry into his life and conversation, I found him to be the greatest newsmonger in our quarter ; that he rose before day to read The Postman; and that he would take two or three turns to the other end of the town before his neighbours were up, to see if there were any Dutch mails come in. He had a wife and several children ; but was much more inquisitive to know what passed in Poland than in his own family, and was in greater pain and anxiety of mind for king Augustus's welfare than that of his nearest relations. He looked extremely thin in a dearth of news, and never enjoyed himself in a westerly wind. This indefatigable kind of life was the ruin of his shop; for, about the time that his favourite prince left the crown of Poland, he broke and disappeared.

This man and his affairs had been long out of my mind, until about three days ago, as I was walking in St. James's park, I heard somebody at a distance hemming after me: and who should it be but my old neighbour the upholsterer ! I saw he was reduced to extreme poverty, by certain shabby superfluities in his dress; for, notwithstanding that it was a very sultry day for the time of the year, he wore a loose great coat and a muff, with a long campaign wig out of curl; to which he had added the ornament of a pair of black garters buckled under the knee. Upon his coming up to me, I was going to inquire into his present cir: cumstances; but was prevented by his asking me, with a whisper, whether the last letters brought any accounts that one might rely upon from Bender? I told

him, None that I heard of; and asked him, whethe he had yet married his eldest daughter? He told me, No. But pray, says he, tell me sincerely, what are your thoughts of the king of Sweden ? for, though his wife and children were starving, I found his chief concern at present was for this great monarch. I told him that I looked upon him as one of the first heroes of the age. But pray, says he, do you think there is any thing in the story of his wound? And finding me surprised at the question, Nay, says he, I only propose it to you. I answered, that I thought there was no reason to doubt of it. But why in the heel, says he, more than any other part of the body? Because, said I, the bullet chanced to light there.

This extraordinary dialogue was no sooner ended, but he began to launch out into a long dissertation upon the affairs of the North ; and, after having spent some time on them, he told me, he was in a great perplexity how to reconcile the Supplement with The English Post, and had been just now examining what the other papers say upon the same subject. The Daily Courant, says he, has these words, We have advices from very good hands, that a certain prince has some matters of great importance under consideration. This is very mysterious; but The Postboy leaves us more in the dark; for he tells us, that there are private intimations of measures taken by a certain prince, which time will bring to light.' Now The Postman, says he, who uses to be very clear, refers to the same news in these words : « The late conduct of a certain prince affords great matter of speculation. This certain prince, says the upholsterer, whom they are all so cautious of naming, I take to be

Upon which, though there was nobody near us, he whispered



something in niy ear, which I did not hear, or think worth ny while to make him repeat.

We were now got to the upper end of the Mall, where were three or four very odd fellows sitting together upon the bench. These I found were all of them politieians, who used to sun themselves in that place every day about dinner-time. Observing them to be curiosities in their kind, and my friend's acquaintance, I sat down among them.

The chief politician of the bench was a great asserter of paradoxes. He told us with a seeming concern, that by some news he had lately read from Muscovy, it appeared to him that there was a storm gathering in the Black Sea, which might in time do hurt to the naval forces of this nation. To this he added, that, for his part, he could not wish to see the Turk driven out of Europe, which he believed could not but be prejudicial to our woollen manufacture. He then told us, that he looked upon those extraordinary revolutions which had lately happened in those parts of the world, to have risen chiefly from two persons who were not much talked of; and those, says he, are prince Menzikoff, and the duchess of Mirandola. He backed his assertions with so many broken hints, and such a show of depth and wisdom, that we gave ourselves up to bis opinions.

The discourse at length fell upon a point which seldom escapes a knot of true-born Englishmen, Whether, in case of a religious war, tlie protestants would not be too strong for the papists? This we unanimously determined on the protestant side. One who bat on my right hand, and, as I found by his discourse, had been in the West Indies, assured us, that it would be a very easy matter for the protestants to beat the


« ZurückWeiter »