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As I entered into the world very young, with an elegant person and a large estate, it was not long before I disentangled myself from the shackles of religion; for I was determined to the pursuit of pleasure, which according to my notions consisted in the unrestrained and unlimited gratifications of every passion and every appetite; and as this could not be obtained under the frowns of a perpetual dictator, I considered religion as my enemy; and proceeding to treat her with contempt and derision, was not a little delighted, that the unsashionablenefs of her appearance, and the unanimated unisormity of her motions, afforded frequent opportunities for the fallies of my imagination.
Conceiving now that I was sufficiently qualified to laugh away scruples, I imparted my remarks to thofe among my semale favourites, whofe virtue I intended to attack; for I was well assured, that pride would be able to make but a weak desence, when religion was subverted; nor was my success below my expectation: the love of pleasure is too strongly implanted in the semale breast, to suffer them scrupuloufly to examine the validity of arguments designed to weaken restraint; all are easily led to believe, that whatever thwarts their inclination must be wrong: little more, therefore, was required, than by the addition of some circumstances, and the exaggeration of others, to make merriment supply the place of demonstration; nor was I so senseless as to offer arguments to such as could not attend to them, and with whom a repartee or catch would more effectually answer the fame purpofe. This being effected, there remained only "the
B 2 "dread "dread of the world:" but Rcxana soared too high, to think the opinion of others worthy her notice; Lætilia seemed to think of it only t;o declare, that "is all her hairs were worlds," she should reckon them "well lost for love;" and Pastorella fondly conceived, that she could dwell for ever by the side of a bubbling fountain, content with her swain and fleecy care; without considering that stillness and solitude can afford fatisfaction only to innocence.
It is not the desire of new acquisitions, but the glory of conquests, that fires the soldier's breast; as iniked the town is seldom worth much, when ic has suffered the devastations of a siege; so that though I did not openly declare the effects of my own prowess, which is forbidden by the laws of honour, it cannot be suppofed that I was very solicitous to bury my reputation, or to hinder accidental discoveries. To have gained one victory, is an inducement to hazard a second engagement: and though the success of the general should be a reason for increasing the strength of the fortification, it becomes, with many, a pretence for an immediate surrender, under the notion that no power is able to withstand so formidable an adverfary; while others brave the danger, and think it mean to surrender, and dastardly to fly. Melijsa, indeed, knew better; and though she could not boast the apathy, steadiness, and inflexibility of a Cato, wanted not the more prudent virtue of Siipio, and gained the victory by declining the contest.
You must not, however, imagine, that I was, during this state of abandoned libertinism, so fully
convinced of the fitness of my own conduct, as to be free from uneasiness. I knew very well, that I might justjy be deemed the pest of society, and that such proceedings must terminate in the destruction of my health and fortune; but to admit thoughts of this kind was to live upon the rack: I fled, therefore, to the regions of mirth and jollity, as they are called, and endeavoured with burgundy, and a continual rotation of company, to free myself from the pangs of reflection. From these orgies we frequently fallied forth in quest of adventures, to the no small terror and consternation of all the sober straggler* that came in our way: and though we never injured, like our illustrious progenitors, the Mohocks, either lise or limbs; yet we have in the midst of Covent-Garden buried a taylor, who had beesi troublesome to some of our fine gentlemen, beneath a heap of cabbage-leaves and stalks, with this conceit,
Satia te cattle quern semper cupijli.
Glut yourself with cabbage, of which you have always been greedy.
There can be no reason for mentioning the common exploits of breaking windows and bruising the watch; unless it be to tell you of the device of producing before the justice broken lanthorns, which have been paid for a hundred times: or their appearances with patches on their heads, under pretence of being cut by the sword that was never drawn: nor need I fay any thing of the more formidable attack of sturdy chairmen, armed with poles; by a flight stroke of which, the pride of
B 3 Ned Ned Revel's face was at once laid flat, and that efsected in an instant, which its most mortal foe had for years assayed in vain. I shall pass over the accidents that attend attempts to scale windows, and endeavours to diflodge signs from their hooks; there are many "hair-breadth 'scapes," besides thofe in the " imminent deadly breach;" but the rake's lise, though it be equally hazardous with that of the soldier, is neither accompanied with present honour nor with pleasing retrofpect: such is, and such ought to be the difference, between the enemy and the preserver of his country.
Amidst such giddy and thoughtless extravagance, it will not seem strange, that I was often the dupe of coarse flattery. When Mons. L'Allor.gt assured me, that I thrust quart over arm better than any man in England, what could I less than present him with a sword that cost me thirty pieces? I was bound for a hundred pounds for 7ei» Trippct, because he had declared that he would dance a minuet with any man in the three kingdoms except myself. But I often parted with money against my inclination, either because I wanted the resolution to refuse, or dreaded the appellation of a niggardly sellow; and I may be truly faid to have squandered my estate, without honour, without friends, and without pleasure. The last may, perhaps, appear strange to men unacquainted with the masquerade of lise: I deceived others, and I endeavoured to deceive myself; and have worn the face of pleafantry and gaiety, while my heart suffered the most exquisite torture.
By the instigation and encouragement of my friends, I became at length ambitious of a seat in
parliament; and accordingly set out for the town of Wallop in the west, where my arrival was welcomed by a thoufand throats, and I was in three days sure of a majority: but after drinking out one hundred and fifty hogsheads of wine, and bribing two-thirds of the corporation twice over, I had the mortification to find, that the borough had been before fold to Mr. Courtly.
In a lise of this kind, my fortune, though considerable, was presently dissipated; and as the attraction grows more strong the nearer any body approaches the earth, when once a man begins to sink into poverty, he falls with velocity always increasing; every supply is purchased at a higher and higher price, and every office of kindness obtained with greater and greater difficulty. Having now acquainted you with my state of elevation, I shall, is you encourage the continuance of my corresponds ence, shew you by what steps I descended from a first floor in Pali-Mall to my present habitation.
I am, SIR,
Your humble servant,