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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 behold 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 my 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 1 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 ain 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 insen. bread 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-lher 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 crųel
ty: a soldier does not exult more when he counts over the wounds he has received, than a female
veteran when she relates the wounds she has forLETTER XVIII.
merly given: exhaustless when she begins a narrative 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-be 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 agonswith 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 swallowel opium, which banished we should never behold such crowds of battered the stings of despised love-by 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.
pleasure, 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 to 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 had 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 the 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 brauty, 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, only 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 kent 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 ofl 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 gentleinen 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 infiexible 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 me out one good feature in her face, she talks inces- into the characters of the principal members of the santly of the beauties of the mind." Farewell. club, not even the host excepted; who, it seems,
was once an author himself, but preferred by a dispositions. Happy it were for mankind if all 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 poel, ness 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 bailitl's. 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 erreturn 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 proliarities, than a general picture of their manners or ceeded :
From the Same.
* Where the Red Lion flaring o'er the way, |ject, by wondering how any man could be so dull Invites each passing stranger that can pay; as to write poetry at present, since prose itself Where Calvert's butt, and Parson's black cham- would hardly pay: "Would you think it, gentlepaigne,
men,” continued he, “I have actually written last Regale the drabs and bloods of Drury-lane; week, sixteen prayers, twelve bawdy jests, and There, in a lonely room, from bailiffs snug, three sermons, all at the rate of sixpence a-piece; The muse found Scroggen stretch'd beneath a rug; and what is still more extraordinary, the bookseller A window patch'd with paper lent a ray, has lost by the bargain. Such sermons would That dimly show'd the state in which he lay; once have gained me a prebend's stall; but now, The sanded floor, that grits beneath the tread; alas! we have neither piety, taste, nor humour, The humid wall with paltry pictures spread; among us. Positively, if this season does not turn The royal game of goose was there in view, out better than it has begun, unless the ministry And the twelve rules the royal martyr drew; commit some blunders to furnish us with a new The seasons, framed with listing, found a place, topic of abuse, I shall resume my old business of And brave Prince William show'd his lamp-black working at the press, instead of finding it employface.
ment. The morn was cold, he views with keen desire The whole club seemed to join in condemning The rusty grate unconscious of a fire;
the season as one of the worst that had come for With beer and milk arrears the frieze was scored, some time: a gentleman particularly observed that And five crack'd tea-cups dress'd the chimney the nobility were never known to subscribe worse board;
than at present. "I know not how it happens," A night-cap deck'd his brows instead of bay, said he, " though I follow them up as close as posA cap by night-a stocking all the day!'' sible, yet I can hardly get a single subscription in
a week. The houses of the great are as inaccessiWith this last line he seemed so much elated, ble as a frontier garrison at midnight. I never see that he was unable to proceed. “There, gentle- a nobleman's door half-opened, that some surly men,” cries he, “there is a description for you; porter or footman does not stand full in the breach. Rabelais' bed-chamber is but a fool to it.
I was yesterday to wait with a subscription-propo
sal upon my Lord Squash the Creolin. I had A cap by night—a stocking all the day!
posted myself at his door the whole morning, and There is sound, and sense, and truth, and nature, just as he was getting into his
ch, thrust my in the trifling compass of ten syllables."
proposal snug into his hand, folded up in the form He was too much employed in self-admiration of a letter from myself. He just glanced at the to observe the company; who by nods, winks, superscription, and not knowing the hand, conshrugs, and stifled laughter, testified every mark signed it to his valet de chambre; this respectable of contempt. He turned severally to each for their personage, treated it as his master, and put it into opinion, and found all, however, ready to applaud. the hands of the porter ; the porter grasped my proOne swore it was inimitable; another said it was posal frowning; and measuring my figure from damn'd fine; and a third cried out in a rapture, top to toe, put it back into my own hands unCarissimo. At last, addressing himself to the opened." president, “And pray, Mr. Squint,” says he, “let “To the devil I pitch all the nobility," cries a litus have your opinion.” “Mine!". answered the tle man in a peculiar accent, “ I am sure they have president (taking the manuscript out of the au- of late used me most scurvily. You must know, thor's hand), "May this glass suffocate me, but I gentlemen, some time ago, upon the arrival of a think it equal to any thing I have seen ; and I fan- certain noble duke from his travels, I sat myself cy (continued he, doubling up the poem and forcing down, and vamped up a fine flaunting poetical it into the author's pocket) that you will get great panegyric, which I had written in sueh a strain, honour when it comes out; so I shall beg leave to that I fancied it would have even wheedled milk put it in. We will not intrude upon your good- from a mouse. In this I represented the whole kingnature, in desiring to hear more of it at present; dom welcoming his grace to his native soil, not ex ungue Herculem, we are satisfied, perfectly forgetting the loss France and Italy would sustain satisfiel.” The author made two or three attempts in their arts by his departure. I expected to to pul it out a second tinle, and the president made touch for a bank-bill at least; so folding up my as many to prevent him. Thus, though with re- verses in gilt paper, 1 gave my last half-crown to luctance, he was at last obliged to sit down, con- a genteel servant to be the bearer. My letter was tented with the commendations for which he had safely conveyed to his grace, and the servant, after paid.
four hours' absence, during which time I led the When this tempest of poetry and praise was life of a fiend, returned with a letter four times as blown over, one of the company changed the sub-Ibig as mine. Guess my ecstasy at the prospect of
so fine a return. I cagerly took the packet into ever, the wished-for moment of its stopping army hands, that trembled to receive it. I kept it rived: this for some time I impatiently expected, some time unopened before me, brooding over the and letting down the window in a transport, in expected treasure it contained; when, opening it, order to take a previous view of his lordship’s as I hope to be saved, gentlemen, his grace had magnificent palace and situation, 'I found, poisent me in payment for my poem, no bank-bills, son to my sight! I found myself, not in an but six copies of verse, each longer than mine, ad- elegant street, but a paltry lane ; not at a noble dressed to him upon the same occasion." man's door, but at the door of a sponging house: I
“A nobleman,'' cries a member, who had hith- found the coachiman had all this while been just erto been silent, “is created as much for the con- driving me to gaol; and I saw the bailiff, with a fusion of us authors, as the catch-pole. I'll tell devil's face, coming out to secure me." you a story, gentlemen, which is as true as that To a philosopher, no circumstance, however this pipe is made of clay. When I was delivered trifling, is too minute; he finds instruction and en. of my first book, I owed my tailor for a suit of tertainment in occurrences which are passed over clothes; but that is nothing new, you know, and by the rest of mankind as low, trite, and indiffermay be any man's case, as well as mine. Well, ent; it is from the number of these particulars, owing him for a suit of clothes, and hearing which to many appear insignificant, that he is at that my book took very well, he sent for his mo- last enabled to form general conclusions: this, ney, and insisted upon being paid immediately: therefore, must be my excuse for sending so far as though I was at that time rich in fame, for my China, accounts of manners and follies, which, book ran like wild-fire, yet I was very short in though minute in their own nature, serve more money, and being unable to satisfy his demand, truly to characterize this people than histories of prudently resolved to keep my chamber, preferring their public treaties, courts, ministers, negotiations, a prison of my own choosing at home, to one of and ambassadors. Adieu. my tailor's choosing abroad. In vain the bailiffs used all their arts to decoy me from my citadel ; in vain they sent to let me know that a gentleman wanted to speak with me at the next tavern; in vain
LETTER XXXI. they came with an urgent message from my aunt
From the Same. in the country; in vain I was told that a particular friend was at the point of death, and desired to The English have not yet brought the art of take his last farewell;—I was deaf, insensible, gardening to the same perfection with the Chinese, rock, adamant; the bailiffs could make no impres- but have lately begun to imitate them; nature is sion on my hard heart, for I effectually kept my now followed with greater assiduity than formerly; liberty by never stirring out of the room. the trees are suflered to shoot out into the utmost
“This was very well for a fortnight; when one luxuriance; the streams, no longer forced from their morning I received a most splendid message from native beds, are permitted to wind along the valthe Earl of Doomsday, importing, that he had read leys; spontaneous flowers take place of the finished my book, and was in raptures with every line of it; parterre, and the enamelled meadow of the shaven he impatiently longed to see the author, and had green. some designs which might turn out greatly to my Yet still the English are far behind us in this advantage. I paused upon the contents of this charming art ; their designers have not yet attained message, and found there could be no deceit, for a power of uniting instruction with beauty. A the card was gilt at the edges, and the bearer, I European will scarcely conceive my meaning, when was told, had quite the looks of a gentleman. I say that there is scarcely a garden in China Witness, ye powers, how my heart triumphed at which does not contain some fine moral, couched my own importance! I saw a long perspective of under the general design, where one is taught wisfelicity before me; I applauded the taste of the dom as he walks, and feels the force of some noble times which never saw genius forsaken; I had pre- truth, or delicate precept, resulting from the dispared a set introductory speech for the occasion; position of the groves, streams, or grottos. Permit five glaring compliments for his lordship, and two me to illustrate what I mean by a description of my more modest for myself. The next morning, gardens at Quamsi. My heart still hovers round therefore, in order to be punctual to my appoint- those scenes of former happiness with pleasure ; ment, I took coach, and ordered the fellow to drive and I find a satisfaction in enjoying them at this to the street and house mentioned in his lordship's distance, though but in imagination. address. I had the precaution to pull up the win- You descended from the house between two dow as I went along, to keep off the busy part of groves of trees, planted in such a manner, that mankind, and, big with expectation, fancied the they were impenetrable to the eye ; while on each coach never went fast enough. At length, how- hand the way was adorned with all that was beau