« AnteriorContinuar »
Be they matter-of-fact fellows, who apprehend not a joke, I shew them my empty purse, which, Heaven knows, is no joke to me, while it is the best of all arguments to them. But be they men of pith and promise, friends whom I well esteem and would long preserve, I refuse them at once ; for these are companions whom I cannot afford to lose, and whom a loan would not long allow me to keep. Those who may be cooled by a refusal would have been alienated by an acquiescence. Friendship, to be permanent, must be perfectly independent; for such is the pride of the human heart, that it cannot receive a favour without a feeling of humiliation, and it will almost unconsciously harbour a constant wish to lower the value of the gift by diminishing that of the donor. Ingratitude is an effort to recover our own esteem by getting rid of our esteem for a benefactor; and when once self-love opposes our love of another, it soon vanquishes its adversary. We esteem benefactors as we do tooth-drawers, who have cured us of one pain by inflicting another. For the rich I am laying down no rules; they may afford to lose their friends as well as money, for they can command more of each; we who stand under the frown of Plutus must be economists of both, and it is for the benefit of such classes that I would have the whole brotherhood of mendicants, calling themselves borrowers, sentenced to the House of Correction--not till they had paid their debts, for that would be equivalent to perpetual imprisonment, but until they had sincerely forgiven their old friends for lending them money, and placed them
selves in a situation to acquire new ones by a promise never to borrow any more.
A fourth description of beggars, not less pestilent in their visitations, are the fellows who are constantly coming to beg that you will lend them a book, which they will faithfully return in eight or ten days, for which you may substitute
and be no nearer to the recovery of your property. It is above that period since some of my friends have begged the second volume of Tom Brown's Works, the first of Bayle's Dictionary, Phineas Fletcher's Purple Island, and various others, whose absence creates many a “hiatus valde deflendus” in my bookshelves, which, like so many open mouths, cry aloud to heaven against the purloiners of odd volumes and the decimators of sets. Books are a sort of feræ naturæ to these poachers that have “nulla vestigia retrorsum ;” they pretend to have forgotten where they borrowed them, and then claim them as strays and waifs. You may know the number of a man's friends by the vacancies in his library; and if he be one of the best fellows in the world, his shelves will assuredly be empty. Possession is held to be nine points in law, but with friends of this class unlawful possession is the best of all titles ; for print obliterates property, meum and tuum cannot be bound up in calf or morocco, and honour and honesty cease to be obligatory in all matters of odd volumes. Beggars of this quality might with great propriety be sent to the countinghouses of the different prisons and penitentiaries, where their literary abilities might be rendered avail
able by employing them as book-keepers, a business in which they have already exhibited so much proficiency. One day for every octavo, two far a quarto, and three for every folio, of which they could not give a satisfactory account, would probably be deemed an adequate punishment.
The last species of mendicants whom I should recommend to the new Suppression Society, and whom, judging by my own experience, I should pronounce the most importunate and unreasonable of any, are the young and old ladies, from the boarding-school Miss to the Dowager Blue-stocking, who, in the present rage for albums and autographs, ferret out all unfortunate writers, from the Great Unknown, whom every body knows, down to the illustrious obscure whom nobody knows, and beg them—just to write a few lines for insertion in their repository. If they will even throw out baits to induce so mere a minnow as myself to nibble at a line, what must they do for the Tritons and Leviathans of literature ! Friends, aunts, cousins, neighbours, all are put in requisition, and made successively bearers of the neat morocco-bound begging-book. Surely, Mr. Higginbotham, you will not refuse me, when I know you granted the same favour to Miss Barnacles, Miss Scroggs, Mrs. Scribbleton, and many others. Besides,
to compose a few stanzas !–Gadzooks! these folks seem to think one can write sense as fast as they talk nonsense--that poetry comes spontaneously to the mouth, as if we were born improvisatori, and could not help ourselves. I believe,
it is so easy
however, that few will take the trouble to read that which has not occasioned some trouble to write; and even if their supposition were true, we have the authority of Dr. Johnson for declaring that no one likes to give away that by which he lives :-“ You, Sir," said he, turning to Thrale, “ would rather give away money than beer.”
And to come a-begging of such impoverished wits as mine-Corpo di Bacco! it is robbing the Spittal-putting their hands in the poorbox-taking that “which naught enricheth them, and makes me poor indeed”-doing their best to create a vacuum, which Nature abhors: and as to assuming that compliance costs nothing, this is the worst mendicity of all, for it is even begging the question. No, I cannot recommend to the new Society any extension of indulgence towards offenders of this class. The ladies, old and young, should be condemned to Bridewell, (not that I mean any play upon the word,) there to be dieted upon bread and water until they had completely filled one another’s albums with poetry of their own composing ; after which process, I believe they might be turned loose upon society without danger of their resuming the trade of begging. Other mendicant nuisances occur to me, for whose suppression the proposed Institution would be held responsible ; but I have filled my limits for the present, and shall therefore leave them to form the subject of a future communication.
THE BOURSE AT PARIS.
ENGLAND AND FRANCE.-BUYING A BONNET.
Plant. Tut, tut, here is a mannerly forbearance;
The truth appears so naked on my side,
That any purblind eye may find it out.
So clear, so shining, and so evident,
ENTERING lately the temporary enclosure that runs round the new Exchange at Paris, I stood before the noble front on which the words “ Tribunal de Commerce” have been inscribed, deeply penetrated with the simple, I had almost said sublime, grandeur of the building, musing on the past time, when the Parthenon was not less fresh and perfect, and throwing my thoughts forward into the future, when the majestic and stupendous temple before me (for such, indeed, it seems) should be ruinous and dilapidated as that which is now mouldering away upon the Athenian Acropolis, when a brown-visaged keen-eyed Parisian, of that shabby-genteel class which abounds in this capital, having a ragged hat, long surtout, and the ribbon of the Legion d'Honneur in his button-hole, walked up to me with an easy courtesy, took off his superannuated hat, presented his snuffbox, and on the strength of this unceremonious intro