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answer did not seem at all satisfactory to the gentleman, who instantly drew his sword. In this the king was not much behind-hand with him, and to it they were going, when the guards by this time came up, and testified that surprise which was natural to see arms in the hand of a subject against his king. Imagine whether the gentle man was less surprised than they at his unpremeditated disobedience. His astonishment, however, was soon dissipated by the king, who taking him by the hand, assured him he was a brave fellow, and himself would take care he should be provided for. This promise was afterwards fulfilled, and I have been assured the king made him a captain.
HAPPINESS IN A GREAT MEASURE DEPENDENT ON
When I reflect on the unambitious retirement in which I passed the earlier part of my life in the country, I cannot avoid feeling some pain in thinking that those happy days are never to return. In that retreat all nature seemed capable of affording pleasure ; I then made no refinements on happiness, but could be pleased with the most awkward efforts of rustic mirth ; thought cross-purposes the highest stretch of human wit, and questions and commands the most rational amusement for spending the evening. Happy could so charming an illusion still continue ! I find that
I find that age and knowledge only contribute to sour our dispositions. My present enjoyments may be more refined, but they are infinitely less pleasing. The pleasure Garrick gives can no way compare to that I had received from a country wag, who imitated a Quaker's sermon. The music of Mattei (1) is
(1) ["Colomba Mattei was both a charming singer and a spirited and intelligent actress, and a great favourite as a prima donna. She retired from the stage in 1762.”- Burney.]
dissonance to what I felt when our old dairy-maid sung me into tears with Johnny Armstrong's Last Good Night, (1) or the Cruelty of Barbara Allen. (2)
Writers of every age have endeavoured to shew that pleasure is in us, and not in the objects offered for our amusement. If the soul be happily disposed, every thing becomes a subject of entertainment, and distress will almost want a name. Every occurrence passes in review like the figures of a procession; some may be awkward, others ill-dressed ; but none but a fool is for this enraged with a master of the ceremonies.
I remember to have once seen a slave in a fortification in Flanders, who appeared no way touched with his situation. He was maimed, deformed, and chained ; obliged to toil from the appearance of day till night-fall, and condemned to this for life ; yet, with all these circumstances of apparent wretchedness, he sung, would have danced but that he wanted a leg, and appeared the merriest, happiest man of all the garrison. What a practical philosopher was here !
(1) [" To-night is my departing night,
For here nae longer must I stay;
But wishes me away:
I never, never can recal ;
Good night and joy be with you all!"]
(2) [“ In Scarlet towne, where I was borne,
There was a fair maid dwellin,
Her name was Barbara Allen.
When green buds they were swellin,
For love of Barbara Allen,” &c.
The same train of thought as in the text occurs in Goldsmith's letter to his friend Hodson, Dec. 27, 1757 :-“If I go to the opera where Signora Co. lumba pours out all the mazes of melody, I sit and sigh for Lissoy's fire-side, and Johnny Armstrong's Last Good Night from Peggy Golden."— See Life, ch. vii.)
A happy constitution supplied philosophy, and though seemingly destitute of wisdom, he was really wise. No reading or study had contributed to disenchant the fairy land around him. Every thing furnished him with an opportunity of mirth ; and though some thought him from his insensibility a fool, he was such an idiot as philosophers might wish in vain to imitate. (1)
They who, like him, can place themselves on that side of the world in which everything appears in a ridiculous or pleasing light, will find something in every occurrence to excite their good-humour. The most calamitous events, either to themselves or others, can bring no new affliction ; the whole world is to them a theatre, on which comedies only are acted. All the bustle of heroism, or the rants of ambition, serve only to heighten the absurdity of the scene, and make the humour more poignant. They feel, in short, as little anguish at their own distress, or the complaints of others, as the undertaker, though dressed in black, feels sorrow at a funeral.
Of all the men I ever read of, the famous Cardinal De Retz possessed this happiness of temper in the highest degree. As he was a man of gallantry, and despised all that wore the pedantic appearance of philosophy, whereever pleasure was to be sold, he was generally foremost to raise the auction. Being an universal admirer of the fair sex, when he found one lady cruel, he generally fell in love with another, from whom he expected a more favourable reception ; if she too rejected his addresses, he never thought of retiring into deserts, or pining in hopeless distress. He persuaded himself, that instead of loving the lady, he only fancied he had loved her, and so all was well again. When
(1) (In the “Essays” published in 1765, is here added—“For all philosophy is only forcing the trade of happiness, when Nature seems to deny the means."]
fortune wore her angriest look, when he at last fell into the power of his most deadly enemy, Cardinal Mazarine, and was confined a close prisoner in the castle of Valenciennes, (1) he never attempted to support his distress by wisdom or philosophy, for he pretended to neither. He laughed at himself and his persecutor, and seemed infinitely pleased at his new situation. In this mansion of distress, though secluded from his friends, though denied all the amusements and even the conveniences of life, teazed every hour by the impertinence of wretches who were employed to guard him, he still retained his good-humour, laughed at all their little spite, and carried the jest so far as to be revenged, by writing the life of his gaoler.
All that the wisdom of the proud can teach, is to be stubborn or sullen under misfortunes. The Cardinal's example will instruct us to be merry in circumstances of the highest affliction. It matters not whether our good-humour be construed by others into insensibility, or even idiotism ; it is happiness to ourselves, and none but a fool would measure his satisfaction by what the world thinks of it. (2)
Dick Wildgoose was one of the happiest silly fellows I ever knew. He was of the number of those good-natured creatures that are said to do no harm to any but themselves. Whenever Dick fell into any misery, he usually called it seeing life. If his head was broke by a chairman, or his pocket picked by a sharper, he comforted himself by imitating the Hibernian dialect of the one, or the more fashionable cant of the other. Nothing came amiss to Dick. His in
(1) [The castle in which De Retz was confined was that of Vincennes ; from this he was removed to Nantes, and thence he at length contrived to escape into Spain.-See his Memoirs.]
(2) [In the “ Essays” is added—“ For my own part, I never pass by one of our prisons for debt, that I do not envy that felicity which is still going forward among those people, who forget the cares of the world by being shut out from its ambition."]
attention to money matters had incensed his father to such a degree, that all the intercession of friends in his favour was fruitless. The old gentleman was on his death-bed. The whole family, and Dick among the number, gathered round him. I leave my second son Andrew, said the expiring miser, my whole estate, and desire him to be frugal. Andrew, in a sorrowful tone, as is usual on these occasions, “ prayed heaven to prolong his life and health to enjoy it himself.” I recommend Simon, my third son, to the care of his elder brother, and leave him beside four thousand pounds. “ Ah ! father,” cried Simon, (in great affliction, to be sure) “ may heaven give you life and health to enjoy it yourself!" At last, turning to poor Dick ; “ as for you, you always have been a sad dog, you'll never come to good, you'll never be rich, I'll leave you a shilling to buy a halter.” “ Ah! father,” cries Dick, without any emotion, may heaven give you life and health to enjoy it yourself!” This was all the trouble the loss of fortune gave this thoughtless, imprudent creature. However, the tenderness of an uncle recompensed the neglect of a father ; and Dick is not only excessively good-humoured, but competently rich.
The world, in short, may cry out at a bankrupt who appears at a ball ; at an author who laughs at the public which pronounces him a dunce; at a general who smiles at the reproach of the vulgar, or the lady who keeps her goodhumour in spite of scandal ; but such is the wisest behaviour they can possibly assume ; it is certainly a better way to oppose calamity by dissipation, than to take up the arms of reason or resolution to oppose it: by the first method we forget our miseries, by the last we only conceal them from others; by struggling with misfortunes, we are sure to receive some wounds in the conflict. The only method to come off victorious, is by running away.