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off, dancing a rigadoon, and smelling to his own nosegay.
The person who after him appeared as candidate for a place in the stage came up with an air not quite so confident, but somewhat, however, theatrical; and, instead of entering, made the coachman a very low bow, which the other returned, and desired to see his baggage; upon which he instantly produced some farces, a tragedy, and other miscellany productions. The coachman, casting his eye upon the cargo, assured him, at present he could not possibly have a place, but hoped in time he might aspire to one, as he seemed to have read in the book of nature, without a careful perusal of which none ever found entrance at the Temple of Fame. "What!" replied the disappointed poet," shall my tragedy, in which I have vindicated the cause of liberty and virtue "Follow nature," returned the other, "and never expect to find lasting fame by topics which only please from their popularity. Had you been first in the cause of freedom, or praised in virtue more than an empty name, it is possible you might have gained admittance; but at present I beg, sir, you will stand aside for another gentleman whom I see approaching.
This was a very grave personage, whom at some distance I took for one of the most reserved, and even disagreeable, figures I had seen; but as he approached his appearance improved, and when I could distinguish him thoroughly, I perceived that, in spite of the severity of his brow, he had one of the most good-natured countenances that could be imagined. Upon coming to open the stage-door, he lifted a parcel of folios into the seat before him, but our inquisitorial coachman at once shoved them out again. "What! not take in my Dictionary?" exclaimed the other in a rage. "Be patient, sir," replied the coachman: "I have drove a coach, man and boy, these two thousand years; but I do not remember to have carried above one dictionary during the whole time. That little book which I perceive peeping from one of your pockets, may I presume to ask what it contains?"
A mere trifle," replied the author; "it
is called the Rambler."-"The Rambler!" says the coachman: "I beg, sir, you'll take your place; I have heard our ladies in the court of Apollo frequently mention it with rapture; and Clio, who happens to be a little grave, has been heard to prefer it to the Spectator; though others have observed, that the reflections, by being refined, sometimes become minute."
This grave gentleman was scarcely seated, when another, whose appearance was something more modern, seemed willing to enter, yet afraid to ask. He carried in his hand a bundle of essays, of which the coachman was curious enough to inquire the contents. "These,” replied the gentleman, "are rhapsodies against the religion of my country."-" And how can you expect to come into my coach, after thus choosing the wrong side of the question ?"-"Ay, but I am right," replied the other; and if you give me leave, I shall, in a few minutes, state the argument."- "Right or wrong," said the coachman, "he who disturbs religion is a blockhead, and he shall never travel in a coach of mine."-"If, then," said the gentleman, mustering up all his courage, 'if I am not to have admittance as an essayist, I hope I shall not be repulsed as an historian; the last volume of my history met with applause."—"Yes," replied the coachman, "but I have heard only the first approved at the Temple of Fame; and as I see you have it about you, enter, without farther ceremony." My attention was now diverted to a crowd who were pushing forward a person that seemed more inclined to the Stage-coach of Riches; but by their means he was driven forward to the same machine, which he, however, seemed heartily to despise. Impelled, however, by their solicitations, he steps up, flourish. ing a voluminous history, and demanding admittance. "Sir, I have formerly heard your name mentioned," says the coachman,
but never as an historian. Is there no other work upon which you may claim a place?"—"None,” replied the other,
except a romance; but this is a work of too trifling a nature to claim future attention."-"You mistake," says the inquisitor; 'a well-written romance is no such easy task as is generally imagined. I remember
formerly to have carried Cervantes and Segrais; and if you think fit, you may
Upon our three literary travellers coming into the same coach, I listened attentively to hear what might be che conversation that passed upon this extraordinary occasion; when, instead of agreeable or entertaining dialogue, I found them grumbling at each other, and each seemed discontented with his companions. Strange! thought I to myself, that they who are thus born to enlighten the world, should still preserve the narrow prejudices of childhood, and, by disagreeing, make even the highest merit ridiculous. Were the learned and the wise to unite against the dunces of society, instead of sometimes siding into opposite parties with them, they might throw a lustre upon each other's reputation, and teach every rank of subordinate merit, if not to admire, at least not to avow dislike.
In the midst of these reflections I perceived the coachman, unmindful of me, had now mounted the box. Several were approaching to be taken in whose pretensions I was sensible were very just; I therefore desired him to stop, and take in more passengers: but he replied, as he had now mounted the box, it would be improper to come down; but that he should take them all, one after the other, when he should return. So he drove away; and for myself, as I could not get in, I mounted behind, in order to hear the conversation on the way.
(To be continued.)
A WORD OR TWO ON THE LATE FARCE CALLED "HIGH LIFE BELOW STAIRS."
JUST as I had expected before I saw this farce, I found it formed on too narrow a plan to afford a pleasing variety. The sameness of the humour in every scene could not at last fail of being disagreeable. The poor affecting the manners of the rich might be carried on through one character, or two at the most, with great propriety; but to have almost every personage on the scene almost of the same character, and reflecting the follies of each other, was unartful in the poet to the last degree.
The scene was also almost a continuation
of the same absurdity, and my Lord Duke and Sir Harry (two footmen who assume these characters) have nothing else to do but to talk like their masters, and are only introduced to speak and to show themselves. Thus, as there is a sameness of character, there is a barrenness of incident, which, by a very small share of address, the poet might have easily avoided.
From a conformity to critic rules, which perhaps on the whole have done more harm than good, our author has sacrificed all the vivacity of the dialogue to nature; and though he makes his characters talk like servants, they are seldom absurd enough, or lively enough, to make us merry. Though he is always natural, he happens seldom to be humorous.
The satire was well intended, if we regard it as being masters ourselves; but probably a philosopher would rejoice in that liberty which Englishmen give their domestics; and for my own part, I cannot avoid being pleased at the happiness of those poor creatures, who in some measure contribute to mine. The Athenians, the politest and best-natured people upon earth, were the kindest to their slaves; and if a person may judge who has seen the world, our English servants are the best treated, because the generality of our English gentlemen are the politest under the sun.
But not to lift my feeble voice among the pack of critics, who probably have no other occupation but that of cutting up everything new, I must own there are one or two scenes that are fine satire, and sufficiently humorous; particularly the first interview between the two footmen, which at once ridicules the manners of the great, and the absurdity of their imitators.
Whatever defects there might be in the composition, there were none in the action; in this the performers showed more humour than I had fancied them capable of. Mr. Palmer and Mr. King were entirely what they desired to represent; and Mrs. Clive-(but what need I talk of her, since, without the least exaggeration, she has more true humour than any other actor or actress upon the English or any other stage I have seen)
she, I say, did the part all the justice it was capable of. And, upon the whole, a farce which has only this to recommend it, that the author took his plan from the volume of nature, by the sprightly manner in which it was performed, was, for one night, a tolerable entertainment. This much may be said in its vindication, that people of fashion seemed more pleased in the representation than the subordinate ranks of people.
UPON UNFORTUNATE MERIT.
EVERY age seems to have its favourite pursuits, which serve to amuse the idle and to relieve the attention of the industrious. Happy the man who is born excellent in the pursuit in vogue, and whose genius seems adapted to the times in which he lives. How many do we see who might have excelled in arts or sciences, and who seem furnished with talents equal to the greatest discoveries, had the road not been already beaten by their predecessors, and nothing left for them except trifles to discover, while others of very moderate abilities become famous, because happening to be first in the reigning pursuit !
Thus, at the renewal of letters in Europe the taste was not to compose new books, but to comment on the old ones. It was not to be expected that new books should be written, when there were so many of the ancients either not known or not understood. It was not reasonable to attempt new conquests, while they had such an extensive region lying waste for want of cultivation. At that period criticism and erudition were the reigning studies of the times, and he who had only an inventive genius might have languished in hopeless obscurity. When the writers of antiquity were sufficiently explained and known, the learned set about imitating them: hence proceeded the number of Latin orators, poets, and historians, in the reigns of Clement the Seventh and Alexander the Sixth. This passion for antiquity lasted for many years, to the utter exclusion of every other pursuit, till some began to find, that those works which were imitated from nature were more like the writings of
antiquity, than even those written in express imitation. It was then modern language began to be cultivated with assiduity, and our poets and orators poured forth their wonders upon the world.
As writers become more numerous, it is natural for readers to become more indolent; whence must necessarily arise a desire of attaining knowledge with the greatest possible ease. No science or art offers its instruction and amusement in so obvious a manner as statuary and painting. Hence we see that a desire of cultivating those arts generally attends the decline of science. Thus the finest statues and the most beautiful paintings of antiquity preceded but a little the absolute decay of every other science. The statues of Antoninus, Commodus, and their contemporaries are the finest productions of the chisel, and appeared but just before learning was destroyed by comment, criticism, and barbarous invasions.
What happened in Rome may probably be the case with us at home. Our nobility are now more solicitous in patronising painters and sculptors than those of any other polite profession; and from the lord, who has his gallery, down to the apprentice, who has his twopenny copperplate, all are admirers of this art. The great, by their caresses, seem insensible to all other merit but that of the pencil; and the vulgar buy every book rather from the excellence of the sculptor than the writer.
How happy were it now, if men of real excellence in that profession were to arise! Were the painters of Italy now to appear, who once wandered like beggars from one city to another, and produce their almost breathing figures, what rewards might they not expect! But many of them lived without rewards, and therefore rewards alone will never produce their equals. We have often found the great exert themselves, not only without promotion, but in spite of opposition. We have often found them flourishing, like medical plants, in a region of savageness and barbarity, their excellence unknown, and their virtues unheeded.
They who have seen the paintings of
Caravagio are sensible of the surprising impression they make,-bold, swelling, terrible to the last degree; all seems animated, and speaks him among the foremost of his profession; yet this man's fortune and his fame seemed ever in opposition to each other.
Unknowing how to flatter the great, he was driven from city to city in the utmost indigence, and might truly be said to paint for his bread.
Having one day insulted a person of distinction, who refused to pay him all the respect which he thought his due, he was obliged to leave Rome and travel on foot, his usual method of going his journeys, down into the country, without either money or friends to subsist him.
After he had travelled in this manner as long as his strength would permit, faint with famine and fatigue, he at last called at an obscure inn by the wayside. The host knew, by the appearance of his guest, his indifferent circumstances, and refused to furnish him a dinner without previous payment.
As Caravagio was entirely destitute of money, he took down the innkeeper's sign, and painted it anew for his dinner.
Thus refreshed, he proceeded on his journey, and left the innkeeper not quite satisfied with this method of payment. Some company of distinction, however, coming soon after, and struck with the beauty of the new sign, bought it at an advanced price, and astonished the innkeeper with their generosity: he was resolved, therefore, to get as many signs as possible drawn by the same artist, as he found he could sell them to good advantage; and accordingly set out after Caravagio, in order to bring him back. It was nightfall before he came up to the place where the unfortunate Caravagio lay dead by the roadside, overcome by fatigue, resentment, and despair.
No. VI.-Saturday, November 10, 1759. ON EDUCATION. To the Author of the Bee. SIR,-As few subjects are more interesting to society, so few have been more frequently written upon, than the education
of youth. Yet is it not a little surprising, that it should have been treated almost by all in a declamatory manner? They have insisted largely on the advantages that result from it, both to the individual and to society, and have expatiated in the praise of what no one has ever been so hardy as to call in question.
Instead of giving us fine but empty harangues upon this subject, instead of indulging each his particular and whimsical system, it had been much better if the writers on this subject had treated it in a more scientific manner, repressed all the sallies of imagination, and given us the result of their observations with didactic simplicity. Upon this subject the smallest errors are of the most dangerous consequence; and the author should venture the imputation of stupidity upon a topic, where his slightest deviations may tend to injure the rising generation.
I shall, therefore, throw out a few thoughts upon this subject, which have not been attended to by others, and shall dismiss all attempts to please, while I study only instruction.
The manner in which our youth of London are at present educated is, some in free schools in the city, but the far greater number in boarding schools about town. The parent justly consults the health of his child, and finds that an education in the country tends to promote this much more than a continuance in the town. Thus far they are right: if there were a possibility of having even our free schools kept a little out of town, it would certainly conduce to the health and vigour of perhaps the mind as well as of the body. It may be thought whimsical, but it is truth,-I have found by experience, that they who have spent all their lives in cities contract not only an effeminacy of habit, but even of thinking.
But when I have said that the boarding schools are preferable to free schools, as being in the country, this is certainly the only advantage I can allow them; otherwise it is impossible to conceive the ignorance of those who take upon them the important trust of education. Is any man unfit for any of the professions? he finds his last resource in setting up school.
Do any become bankrupts in trade? they still set up a boarding school, and drive a trade this way, when all others fail: nay, I have been told of butchers and barbers who have turned schoolmasters; and, more surprising still, made fortunes in their new professions.
Could we think ourselves in a country of civilized people-could it be conceived that we have any regard for posterity when such are permitted to take the charge of the morals, genius, and health of those dear little pledges, who may one day be the guardians of the liberties of Europe, and who may serve as the honour and bulwark of their aged parents? The care of our children, is it below the state? is it fit to indulge the caprice of the ignorant with the disposal of their children in this particular? For the state to take the charge of all its children, as in Persia or Sparta, might at present be inconvenient; but surely with great ease it might cast an eye to their instructors. Of all members of society, I do not know a more useful or a more honourable one than a schoolmaster; at the same time that I do not see any more generally despised, or whose talents are so ill rewarded.
Were the salaries of schoolmasters to be augmented from a diminution of useless sinecures, how might it turn to the advantage of this people-a people whom, without flattery, I may in other respects term the wisest and greatest upon earth! But, while I would reward the deserving, I would dismiss those utterly unqualified for their employment: in short, I would make the business of a schoolmaster every way more respectable, by increasing their salaries, and admitting only men of proper abilities.
There are already schoolmasters appointed, and they have some small salaries; but where at present there is but one schoolmaster appointed, there should at least be two; and wherever the salary is at present twenty pounds, it should be an hundred. Do we give immoderate benefices to those who instruct ourselves, and shall we deny even subsistence to those who instruct our children? Every member of society should be paid in proportion as
he is necessary: and I will be bold enough to say, that schoolmasters in a state are more necessary than clergymen, as children stand in more need of instruction than their parents.
But instead of this, as I have already observed, we send them to board in the country to the most ignorant set of men that can be imagined. But lest the ignorance of the master be not sufficient, the child is generally consigned to the usher. This is generally some poor needy animal, little superior to a footman either in learning or spirit, invited to his place by an advertisement, and kept there merely from his being of a complying disposition, and making the children fond of him. "You give your child to be educated to a slave," says a philosopher to a rich man: "instead of one slave, you will then have two."
It were well, however, if parents, upon fixing their children in one of these houses, would examine the abilities of the usher as well as of the master; for, whatever they are told to the contrary, the usher is generally the person most employed in their education. If, then, a gentleman upon putting out his son to one of these houses, sees the usher disregarded by the master, he may depend upon it, that he is equally disregarded by the boys; the truth is, in spite of all their endeavours to please, they are generally the laughing-stock of the school. Every trick is played upon the usher; the oddity of his manners, his dress, or his language, is a fund of eternal ridicule; the master himself now and then cannot avoid joining in the laugh, and the poor wretch, eternally resenting this ill usage, seems to live in a state of war with all the family. This is a very proper person, is it not, to give children a relish for learning? They must esteem learning very much when they see its professors used with such ceremony. If the usher be despised, the father may be assured his child will never be properly instructed.
But let me suppose that there are some schools without these inconveniences,where the master and ushers are men of learning, reputation, and assiduity. If there are to be found such, they cannot be prized in a state sufficiently. A boy will learn more true wisdom in a public school