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beggar-men. He was beginning a third gality and matches might have continued, to the same purpose, when a sailor with a had not his attention been called off by wooden leg once more crossed our walks, another object more distressful than either desiring our pity, and blessing our limbs. of the former. A woman in rags, with I was for going on without taking any one child in her arms, and another on her notice, but my friend, looking wistfully back, was attempting to sing ballads, but upon the poor petitioner, bid me stop, and with such a mournful voice, that it was he would show me with how much ease difficult to determine whether she was he could at any time detect an impostor. singing or crying. A wretch, who in
He now, therefore, assumed a look of the deepest distress still aimed at goodimportance, and in an angry tone began humour, was an object my friend was by to examine the sailor, demanding in what no means capable of withstanding: his engagement he was thus disabled and vivacity and his discourse were instantly rendered unfit for service. The sailor re- interrupted; upon this occasion, his very plied, in a tone as angrily as he, that he dissimulation had forsaken him. Even had been an officer on board a private in my presence he immediately applied ship of war, and that he had lost his leg his hands to his pockets, in order to relieve abroad, in defence of those who did her; but guess his confusion when he nothing at home. At this reply, all my found he had already given away all the friend's importance vanished in a moment; money he carried about him to former obhe had not a single question more to ask; jects. The misery painted in the woman's he now only studied what method he visage was not half so strongly expressed should take to relieve him unobserved. as the agony in his. He continued to He had, however, no easy part to act, as search for some time, but to no purpose, he was obliged to preserve the appearance till, at length recollecting himself, with a of ill-nature before me, and yet relieve face of ineffable good-nature, as he had himself by relieving the sailor. Casting, no money, he put into her hands his therefore, a furious look upon some shilling's worth of matches. bundles of chips which the fellow carried in a string at his back, my friend demanded
LETTER XXVII. how he sold his matches; but, not waiting for a reply, desired, in a surly tone,
To the same. to have a shilling's worth. The sailor As there appeared something reluctantly seemed at first surprised at his demand, good in the character of my companion, but soon recollecting himself, and pre- I must own it surprised me what could be senting his whole bundle, “Here, master,” his motives for thus concealing virtues says he, “take all my cargo, and a blessing which others take such pains to display. into the bargain."
I was unable to repress my desire of It is impossible to describe with what knowing the history of a man who thus an air of triumph my friend marched off seemed to act under continual restraint, with his new purchase : he assured me, and whose benevolence was rather the that he was firmly of opinion that those effect of appetite than reason. fellows must have stolen their goods, who It was not, however, till after repeated could thus afford to sell them for half solicitations he thought proper to gratify value. He informed me of several dif- my curiosity. “ If you are fond,” says ferent uses to which those chips might be he, "of hearing hairbreadth 'scapes, my applied; he expatiated largely upon the history must certainly please; for I have savings that would result from lighting been for twenty years upon the very verge candles with a match, instead of thrusting of starving, without ever being starved. them into the fire. He averred, that he "My father, the younger son of a good would as soon have parted with a tooth family, was possessed of a small living in as his money to those vagabonds, unless the church. His education was above for some valuable consideration. I can. his fortune, and his generosity greater not tell how long this panegyric upon fru- than his education. Poor as he was, he had his flatterers, still poorer than himself; “The first opportunity he had of finding for every dinner he gave them they re- his expectations disappointed was in the turned an equivalent in praise, and this very middling figure I made in the univerwas all he wanted. The same ambition sity; he had flattered himself that he should that actuates a monarch at the head of an soon see me rising into the foremost rank army influenced my father at the head of in literary reputation, but was mortified his table: he told the story of the ivy-tree, to find me utterly unnoticed and unknown. and that was laughed at; he repeated the His disappointment might have been jest of the two scholars and one pair of partly ascribed to his having overrated breeches, and the company laughed at my talents, and partly to my dislike of that; but the story of Taffy in the sedan. mathematical reasonings, at a time when chair was sure to set the table in a roar: my imagination and memory, yet unsatisthus his pleasure increased in proportion to fied, were more eager after new objects the pleasure hegave; he loved all the world, than desirous of reasoning upon those I and he fancied all the world loved him. knew. This did not, however, please my
“As his fortune was but small, he lived tutor, who observed, indeed, that I was a up to the very extent of it; he had no little dull ; but at the same time allowed, intentions of leaving his children money, that I seemed to be very good-natured, for that was dross; he was resolved they and had no harm in me. should have learning; for learning, he used “After I had resided at college seven to observe, was better than silver or gold. years, my father died, and left me-his For this purpose, he undertook to instruct blessing. Thus shoved from shore withus himself; and took as much pains to out ill-nature to protect, or cunning to form our morals as to improve our under guide, or proper stores to subsist me in standing. We were told, that universal so dangerous a voyage, I was obliged to benevolence was what first cemented embark in the wide world at twenty-two. society: we were taught to consider all But, in order to settle in life, my friends the wants of mankind as our own; to re- advised (for they always advise when they gard the human face divine with affection begin to despise us), they advised me, and esteem; he wound us up to be mere I say, to go into orders. machines of pity, and rendered us inca- “To be obliged to wear a long wig, pable of withstanding the slightest im- when I liked a short one, or a black coat, pulse made either by real or fictitious when I generally dressed in brown, I distress: in a word, we were perfectly in- thought was such a restraint upon my structed in the art of giving away thou- liberty, that I absolutely rejected the prosands, before we were taught the more neces- posal. A priest in England is not the same sary qualifications of getting a farthing. mortified creature with a bonze in China:
I cannot avoid imagining, that thus with us, not he that fasts best, but eats refined by his lessons out of all my sus- best, is reckoned the best liver; yet I picion, and divested of even all the little rejected a life of luxury, indolence, and cunning which nature had given me, I ease, from no other consideration but resembled, upon my first entrance into that boyish one of dress. the busy and insidious world, one of those friends were now perfectly satisfied I was gladiators who were exposed without undone; and yet they thought it a pity armour in the amphitheatre at Rome. My for one who had not the least harm in him father, however, who had only seen the and was so very good-natured. world on one side, seemed to triumph in my “ Poverty naturally begets dependence, superior discernment; though my whole and I was admitted as flatterer to a great stock of wisdom consisted in being able man. At first, I was surprised that the to talk like himself upon subjects that once situation of a flatterer at a great man's were useful, because they were then topics table could be thought disagreeable: there of the busy world, but that now were was no great trouble in listening attentively utterly useless, because connected with when his lordship spoke, and laughing the busy world no longer.
when he looked round for applause. This
So that my
even good manners might have obliged me friends, and to them I was resolved to to perform. I found, however, too soon, apply. O friendship! thou fond soother that his lordship was a greater dunce than of the human breast, to thee we fly in myself; and from that very momento my every calamity; to thee the wretched seek power of flattery was at an end.
I now for succour ; on thee the care-tired son of rather aimed at setting him right, than at misery fondly relies : from thy kind assist. receiving his absurdities with submission : ance the unfortunate always hopes relief, to flatter those we do not know is an easy and may be ever sure of-disappointment. task; but to flatter our intimate acquaint- My first application was to a city scrivener, ances, all whose foibles are strongly in our who had frequently offered to lend me eye, is drudgery insupportable. Every money, when he knew I did not want it. time I now opened my lips in praise, my I informed him, that now was the time to I falsehood went to my conscience; his lord put his friendship to the test; that I ship soon perceived me to be unfit for wanted to borrow a couple of hundred service ; I was therefore discharged; my for a certain occasion, and was resolved patron at the same time being graciously to take it up from him.
*And pray, sir,' pleased to observe, that he believed I was cried my friend, 'do you want all this tolerably good-natured, and had not the money ?'— 'Indeed, I never wanted it least harm in me.
more,' returned I.— 'I am sorry for that,' Disappointed in ambition, I had re- cries the scrivener, 'with all my heart; course to love. A young lady, who lived for they who want money when they come with her aunt, and was possessed of a to borrow, will always want money when pretty fortune in her own disposal, had | they should come to pay.' given me, as I fancied, some reason to From him I flew, with indignation, to expect success. The symptoms by which one of the best friends I had in the world, I was guided were striking. She had and made the same request. 'Indeed, always laughed with me at her awkward Mr. Drybone,' cries my friend, 'I always acquaintance, and at her aunt among the thought it would come to this. You know, number ; she always observed, that a man sir, I would not advise you but for your of sense would make a better husband own good; but your conduct has hitherto than a fool, and I as constantly applied been ridiculous in the highest degree, the observation in my own favour. She and some of your acquaintance always continually talked, in my company, of thought you a very silly fellow. Let me friendship and the beauties of the mind, see-you want two hundred pounds. Do and spoke of Mr. Shrimp my rival's high- you only want two hundred, sir, exactly?' heeled shoes with detestation. These - 'To confess a truth,' returned I, “I shall circumstances which I thought strongly want three hundred; but then, I have in my favour; so, after resolving and another friend, from whom I can borrow resolving, I had courage enough to tell her the rest.'— 'Why, then,' replied my friend, my mind. Miss heard my proposal with if you would take my advice, (and you serenity, seeming at the same time to study know I should not presume to advise you the figures of her fan. Out at last it came. but for your own good,) I would recomThere was but one small objection to mend it to you to borrow the whole sum complete our happiness, which was no from that other friend ; and then one note more than---that she was married three will serve for all, you know.' months before to Mr. Shrimp, with high- Poverty now began to come fast upon heeled shoes! By way of consolation, me; yet instead of growing more provident however, she observed, that, though I was or cautious as I grew poor, I became every disappointed in her, my addresses to her day more indolent and simple. A friend aunt would probably kindle her into sen- was arrested for fifty pounds; I was unable sibility; as the old lady always allowed to extricate him, except by becoming his me to be very good-natured, and not to bail. When at liberty, he fled from his have the least share of harm in me. creditors, and left me to take his place.
“Yet still I had friends, numerous In prison I expected greater satisfactions
than I enjoyed at large. I hoped to I ever performed, and for which I shall converse with men in this new world, praise myself as long as I live, was the simple and believing like myself; but refusing half-a-crown to an old acquaintI found them as cunning and as cautious ance, at the time when he wanted it, and as those in the world I had left behind. I had it to spare: for this alone I deserve They spunged up my money while it to be decreed an ovation. lasted, borrowed my coals and never “I now therefore pursued a course of paid for them, and cheated me when I uninterrupted frugality, seldom wanted a played at cribbage. All this was done dinner, and was consequently invited to because they believed me to be very good- twenty. I soon began to get the charac natured, and knew that I had no harm ter of a saving hunks that had money, and
insensibly grew into esteem. Neighbours “Upon my first entrance into this man- have asked my advice in the disposal of sion, which is to some the abode of despair, their daughters ; and I have always taken I felt no sensations different from those care not to give any. I have contracted I experienced abroad. I was now on one a friendship with an alderman, only by side the door, and those who were uncon- observing, that if we take a farthing from fined were on the other: this was all the a thousand pounds, it will be a thousand difference between us. At first, indeed, I pounds no longer. I have been invited felt some uneasiness, in considering how I to a pawnbroker's table, by pretending to should be able to provide this week for the hate gravy; and am now actually upon wants of the week ensuing; but after some treaty of marriage with a rich widow, for time, if I found myself sure of eating one only having observed that the bread was day, I never troubled my head how I was rising. If ever I am asked a question, to be supplied another. I seized every whether I know it or not, instead of precarious meal with the utmost good- answering, I only smile and look wise. humour; indulged no rants of spleen at If a charity is proposed, I go about with my situation ; never called down Heaven the hat, but put nothing in myself. If and all the stars to behold me dining upon a wretch solicits my pity, I observe that a halfpenny-worth of radishes; my very the world is filled with impostors, and take companions were taught to believe that a certain method of not being deceived I liked salad better than mutton. I by never relieving. In short, I now find contented myself with thinking, that all the truest way of finding esteem, even from my life I should either eat white bread the indigent, is to give away nothing, and or brown; considered that all that hap- thus have much in our power to give." pened was best; laughed when I was not in pain, took the world as it went, and
LETTER XXVIII. read Tacitus osten for want of more books
To the same. and company.
“ How long I might have continued in LATELY, in company with my friend in this torpid state of simplicity I cannot tell, black, whose conversation is now both my had I not been roused by seeing an old amusement and instruction, I could not acquaintance, whom I knew to be a pru- avoid observing the great numbers of old dent blockhead, preferred to a place in the bachelors and maiden ladies with which government. I now found that I had this city seems to be overrun. “Sure, pursued a wrong track, and that the true marriage,” said I, “is not sufficiently enway of being able to relieve others was couraged, or we should never behold such first to aim at independence myself: my crowds of battered beaux and decayed immediate care, therefor was to leave coquettes, still attempting to drive a trade my present habitation and make an entire they have been so long unfit for, and reformation in my conduct and behaviour. swarming upon the gaiety of the age.
I For a free, open, undesigning deportment, behold an old bachelor in the most conI put on that of closeness, prudence, and temptible light, as an animal that lives economy. One of the most heroic actions upon the common stock without contri.
buting his share: he is a beast of prey, and the knight in gold lace, who died with a the laws should make use of as many single frown, and never rose again till stratagems, and as much force, to drive he was married to his maid ; of the squire the reluctant savage into the toils, as the who, being cruelly denied, in a rage flew to Indians when they hunt the hyæna or the the window, and lifting up the sash, threw rhinoceros. The mob should be permitted himself, in an agony-into his arm-chair ; after him, boys might play tricks on him of the parson, who, crossed in love, resowith impunity, every well-bred company lutely swallowed opium, which banished should laugh at him; and if, when turned the stings of despised love by-making of sixty, he offered to make love, his mis- him sleep. In short, she talks over her tress might spit in his face, or, what would former losses with pleasure, and, like be perhaps a greater punishment, should some tradesmen, finds consolation in the fairly grant the favour.
many bankruptcies she has suffered. As for old maids,” continued I, “they “For this reason, whenever I see a supershould not be treated with so much severity, annuated beauty still unmarried, I tacitly because I suppose none would be so if accuse her either of pride, avarice, coquetry, they could. No lady in her senses would or affectation. There's Miss Jenny Tinchoose to make a subordinate figure at derbox, I once remember her to have had christenings or lyings-in, when she might some beauty and a moderate fortune. be the principal herself ; nor curry favour Her elder sister happened to marry a man with a sister-in-law, when she might com- of quality, and this seemed as a statute of mand a husband; nor toil in preparing virginity against poor Jane. Because there custards, when she might lie a-bed, and was one lucky hit in the family, she was give directions how they ought to be made; resolved not to disgrace it by introducing nor stifle all her sensations in demure for a tradesman. By thus rejecting her equals, mality, when she might, with matrimonial and neglected or despised by her superiors, freedom, shake her acquaintance by the she now acts in the capacity of tutoress hand, and wink at a double entendre. No to her sister's children, and undergoes lady could be so very silly as to live single, the drudgery of three servants, without if she could help it. I consider an un- receiving the wages of one. married lady, declining into the vale of Miss Squeeze was a pawnbroker's years, as one of those charming countries daughter; her father had early taught her bordering on China, that lies waste for that money was a very good thing, and want of proper inhabitants. We are not left her a moderate fortune at his death. to accuse the country, but the ignorance She was so perfectly sensible of the value of its neighbours, who are insensible of its of what she had got, that she was resolved beauties, though at liberty to enter and never to part with a farthing without an cultivate the soil."
equality on the part of her suitor : she "Indeed, sir," replied my companion, thus refused several offers made her by you are very little acquainted with the people who wanted to better themselves, English ladies, to think they are old maids as the saying is, and grew old and illagainst their will. I dare venture to affirm, natured, without ever considering that she that you can hardly select one of them all, should have made an abatement in her but has had frequent offers of marriage, pretensions, from her face being pale, and which either pride or avarice has not made marked with the small-pox. her reject. Instead of thinking it a dis- “Lady Betty Tempest, on the contrary, grace, they take every occasion to boast had beauty, with fortune and family. But, of their former cruelty: a soldier does not fond of conquest, she passed from triumph exult more when he counts over the to triumph : she had read plays and ro. wounds he has received, than a female mances, and there had learned, that a plain veteran when she relates the wounds she man of common sense was no better than a has formerly given : exhaustless when she fool; such she refused, and sighed only for begins a narrative of the former death the gay, giddy, inconstant, and thoughtless. dealing power of her eyes. She tells of After she had thus rejected hundreds who