« AnteriorContinuar »
Bay-Lincoln, and to form resolutions against trusting another groom with the choice of his girth.
The next in seniority is Mr. Timothy Snug, a man of deep contrivance and impenetrable secrecy. His father died with the reputation of more wealth than he possessed: Tim, therefore, entered the world with a reputed fortune of ten thoufand pounds. Of this he very well knew that eight thoufand was imaginary: but being a man of refined policy, and knowing how much honour is annexed to riches, he resolved never to detect his own poverty; but furnished his house with elegance, scattered his money with profusion, encouraged every scheme of costly pleasure, spoke of petty losses with negligence, and on the day before an execution entered his doors, had proclaimed atapublick table his resolution to be jolted no longer in a hackney-coach.
Another of my companions is the magnanimous "Jack Scatter, the son of a country gentleman, who having no other care than to leave him rich, considered that literature could not be had without expence; masters would not teach for nothing; and when a book was bought and read, it would sell for little. Jack was, therefore, taught to read and write by the butler; and when this acquisition was made, was left to pass his days in the kitchen and the stable, where he heard no crime censured but covetousness and distrust of poor honest servants, and where all • the praise was bestowed on good housekeeping and a Jnc heart. At the death of his father, Jack set himself to retrieve the honour of his family: he abandoned his cellar to the butler, ordered his groom to
firovide hay and corn at discretion, took his housekeeper's word for the expences of the kitchen, allowed all his servants to do their work by deputies, permitted his domesticks to keep his house open to their relations and acquaintance, and in ten years was conveyed hither, without having purchased by the loss of his patrimony either honour or pleasure, or obtained any other gratification than that of having corrupted the neighbouring villagers by luxury and idleness.
Dick Serge was a draper in Cornhill, and passed eight years in profperous diligence, without any care but to keep his books, or any ambition but to be in time an alderman: but then, by some unaccountable revolution in his understanding, he became enamoured of wit and humour, despised the converfation of pedlars and stockjobbers, and rambled every night to the regions of gaiety, in quest of company suited to his taste. The wits at first flocked about him for sport, and asterwards for interest; some found their way into his books, and some into his pockets; the man of adventure was equipped from his shop for the pursuit of a fortune; and he had sometimes the honour to have his security accepted when his friends were in distress. Elated with these associations, he soon learned to neglect his shop; and having drawn his money out of the funds, toavoid the necessity of seizing men of honour for trifling debts* he has been forced at last to retire hither, till his friends can procure him a post at court.
Another that joins in the fame mess is Mob Cornicey whose lise has been spent in fitting up a house.
About ten years ago Bob purchased the country habitation of a bankrupt: the mere shell of a building, Bob holds no great matter; the inside is the test of elegance. Of this house he was no sooner master than he summoned twenty workmen to his assistance, tore up the floors and laid them anew, stripped off the wainscor, drew the windows from their frames, altered the dispofition of doors and fire-places, and cast the whole fabrick into a new form: his next care was to have his ceilings painted, his pannels gilt, and his chimney-pieces carved: every thing was executed by the ablest hands: Bob's business was to follow the workmen with a microfcope, and call upon them to retouch their persormances, and heighten excellence to persection. The reputation of his house now brings round him a daily confluence? of visitants, and every one tells him of some elegance which he has hitherto overlooked, some convenience not yet procured, or some new mode in ornament or furniture. Bob, who had no wish but to be admired, nor any guide but the fashion, thought every thing beautisul in proportion as it was new, and considered his work as unfinished, while' any observer could suggest an addition; some alteration was therefore every day made, without any other motive than the charms of novelty. A traveller at last suggested to him the convenience os a grotto: Bob immediately ordered the mount of hii garden to be excavated; and having laid out a large sum in shells and minerals, was busy in regulating the dispofition of the colours and lustres, when two gentlemen, who had asked permission to see his gardens, presented him a writ, and led him off to left elegant apartments.
I know not, Sir, whether among this fraternity of sorrow you will think any much to be pitied; nor indeed do many of them appear to solicit compassion, for they generally applaud their own conduct, and despise thofe whom want of taste or spirit suffers to grow rich. It were happy is the prisons of the kingdom were filled only with characters like these, men whom profperity could not make useful, and whom ruin cannot make wise: but there are among us many who raise different senfations, many that owe their present misery to the seductions of treachery, the strokes of casualty, or the rendernes* of pity; many whofe sufferings disgrace society, and whose virtues would adorn it: of these, when familiarity shall have enabled me to recount their stories without horror, you may expect another narrative from,
S I R,
Your most hurrible servant,
Damnanl queJ ntn inttlligunt. Qxc*
They condemn what they do not Understand.
TsURIPIDES, having presented Socrates with the writings of Heraclilus, a philosopher famed for involution and obscurity, enquired asterwards his opinion of their merit. '' What I understand," faid Socrates, " I find to be excellent; and, there"fore, believe that to be of equal value which I •* cannot understand."
The reflection of every man who reads this passage will suggest to him the difference between the practice of Socrates, and that of modern critics: Socrates, who had, by long observation upon himself and Others, discovered the weakness of the strongest, and the dimness of the most enlightened intellect, was afraid to decide hastily in his own favour, or to conclude that an author had written without meaning, because he could not immediately catch his ideas; he knew that the faults of books are often more justly imputable to the reader, who sometimes wants attention, and sometimes penetration; whose understanding is often obstructed by prejudice, and often dissipated by remiffhess; who comes sometimes to a new study, unsurnished with knowledge previously necessary; and finds difficulties insuperable,