Imagens da página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

shows, proposed a visit. Harley objected to it « because , said he , I think it an inhuv man practice to expose the greatest misery » with which our nature is afflicted, to every » idle visitant who can afford a trisling per

quisite to the keeper; especially as it is a » distress which the humane must see with » the painful reflection, that it is not in their » power to alleviate. » He was overpowered, however, by the solicitations of his friend, and the other persons of thë party (amongst whom were several ladies; and they went in a body to Moorfields.

· Their conductor led them first to the disa mal mansions of those who are in the most horrid state of incurable madness. The clanking of chains, the wildness of their cries, and the imprecations which some of them uttered, formed a scene inexpressibly shocking. Harley and his companions , especially the female part of them , begged their guide to return : he seemed surprised at their uneasiness, and was with difficulty prevailed on to leave that part of the house without showing them some others; who, as he expressed it in the phrase of those 'mat keep wild beasts for show, were much better worth seeing than any they had pass

T

ed, being ten times more fierce and unmanageable.

He led them next to that quarter where those reside , who, as they are not dangerous to themselves or others, enjoy a certain degree of freedom, according to the state of their distemper.

Harley had fallen behind his companions, looking at a man, who was making pendulums with bits of thread, and little balls of clay. IIe had delineated a segment of a circle on the wall with chalk, and marked their different vibrations, by intersecting it with cross lines. A decent-looking man came up, and smiling at the maniac , turned to Harley , and told him, that gentleman had once been a very celebrated mathematician. » He fell a sacrifice, said he , to the theory » of comets ; for having , with infinite la> bour, formed a table on the conjectures > of Sir Isaac Newton , he was disappointed » in the return of one of those luminaries, » and was very soon after obliged to be plac> ed here by his friends. If you please to > follow me, Sir , continued the stranger, » I believe I shall be able to give you a more » satisfactory account of the unfortunate * people you see here, than the man who

This ,

»

» attends your companions. » Harley bow» ed , and accepted his offer.

The next person they came up to had scrawled a variety of figures on a piece of slate. Harley had the curiosity to take a nearer view of them. They consisted of dif-ferent columns , on the top of which were marked South-sea annuities , India - stock, and three per cent. annuities consol. « » said Harley's instructor , was a gentleman » well known in Change-alley. He was v once worth fifty thousand pounds, and

actually agreed for the purchase of an » estate in the West , in order to realize his » money ; but he quarrelled with the pro>> prietor about the repairs of the garden» wall , and so returned to town, to follow

his old trade of stock-jobbing a little long» er ; when an unlucky fluctuation of » stock, in which he was engaged to an » immense extent , reduced him at once to » poverty and to madness. Poor wretch ! ► he told me t'other day, that against the » next payment of differences , he should » be some hundreds above a plum.

» It is a spondee, and I will maintain » it , interrupted a voice on his left hand, This assertion was followed by a very ra

pid recital of some verses from Homer. « That figure , said the gentleman, whose » clothes are bedaubed with snuff, was » a schoolmaster of some reputation : he » came hither to be resolved of some doubts » he entertained concerning the genuine » pronunciation of the Greek vowels. In » his highest fits, he makes frequent men» tion of one Mr. Bentley.

» But delusive ideas , Sir , are the motives » of the greatest part of mankind , and a » heated imagination the power by which w their actions are incited : the world, in w the eye of a philosopher , may be said to » be a large mad-house. It is true , answered

Harley, the passions of men are tempo» rary madnesses, and sometimes very fatal » in their effects,

» From Macedonia's inadman to the Swede.»

>> It was indeed, said the stranger, a very • mad thing in Charles , to think of adding

so vast a country as Russia to his domi» nions; that would have been fatal indeed; » the balance of the North would then have » been lost; but the Sultan and I would » never have allowed it. -Sir! said Harley, * with no small surprise on his countenance. » Why , yes , answered the other, the Sul» tan and I; do you know me? I am the » Chan of Tartary. »

Harley was a good deal struck by this discovery; he had prudence enough, however , to conceal his amazement, and bowing as low to the monarch as his dignity required , left him immediately, and joined his companions.

He found them in a quarter of the house set apart

for the insane of the other sex, several of whom had gathered about the female visitors, and were examining , with rather more accuracy than might have been expected, the particulars of their dress.

Separate from the rest stood one, whose appearance had something of superior diguity. Her face, though pale and wasted, was less squalid than those of the others , and showed a dejection of that decent kind, which moves our pity unmixed with horror: upon her, therefore, the eyes of all were immediately turned. The keeper, who accompanied them , observed it : « This, said » he, is a young lady , who was born to ride » in her coach and six. She was beloved, if » the story I have heard is true , by a young » gen:lemen, her equal in birth , though by

« AnteriorContinuar »