Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

remorse, but the repetition of his crime. It is possible I may talk of this person with too much indulgence, but I must repeat it, that I think this a character which is the most the object of pity of any one in the world. The man in the pangs of the stone, gout, or any acute distemper, is not in so deplorable a condition in the eye of right sense, as he that errs and repents, and repents and errs on. The fellow with broken limbs, justly deserves your alms for his impotent condition ; but he that can't use his own reason is in a much worse state, for you

fee him in miserable circumstances, with his remedy at the same time in his own possession, if he would or could use it. This is the cause that, of all ill characters, the rake has the best quarter in the world; for when he is himself, and unruffled with intemperance, you see his natural faculties exert themselves, and attract an eye of favour towards his infirmities.

But if we look round us here, how many dull rogues are there that would fain be what this poor man hates himself for ? All the noise towards six in the evening is caused by his mimicks and imitators, How ought men of sense to be careful of their actions, if it were merely from the indignation of seeing themselves ill drawn by such little pretenders ? Not to say, he that leads is guilty of all the actions of his followers ; and a rake has imitators whom you would never expect should prove so. Second-hand vice, fure, of all is the most nauseous. There is hardly a folly more absurd, or which seems lefs to be accounted for (though it is what we see every day), than that grave

and honest natures give into this way, and at the same time have good sense, if they thought fit to use it; but the fatality (under which most men labour) of desiring to be what they are not, makes them go out of a method, in which they might be received with applause, and would certainly excel, into one, wherein they will all their life have the air of strangers to what they aim at.

For this reason, I have not lamented the metamorphosis of any one I know so much as of Nobilis, who was born with sweetness of temper, just apprehension, and everything else that might make him a man fit for his order. But instead of the pursuit of fober studies and applications, in which he would certainly be capable of making a considerable figure

in the noblest assembly of men in the world ; I say, in spite of that good nature, which is his proper bent, he will say illnatured things aloud, put such as he was, and still should be, out of countenance, and drown all the natural good in him, to receive an artificial ill character, in which he will never fucceed, for Nobilis is no rake. He may guzzle as much wine as he pleases, talk by if he thinks fit; but he may as well drink water gruel, and go twice a day to church, for it will never do. I pronounce it again, Nobilis is no rake. To be of that order, he must be vicious against his will, and not so by study or application. All pretty fellows are also excluded to a man, as well as all inamoratos, or persons of the epicene gender, who gaze at one another in the presence of ladies. This class, of which I am giving you an account, is pretended to also by men of strong abilities in drinking, though they are such whom the liquor, not the conversation, keeps together. But blockheads may roar, fight, and stab, and be never the nearer-their labour is also loft—they want sense-they are no rakes.

As a rake among men is the man who lives in the constant abuse of his reason, fo a coquette among women is one who lives in continual misapplication of her beauty. The chief of all whom I have the honour to be acquainted with, is pretty Miss Tofs. She is ever in practice of something which disfigures her and takes from her charms, though all she does tends to a contrary effect. She has naturally a very agreeable voice and utterance, which she has changed for the prettiest lisp imaginable. She fees what she has a mind to see at half a mile distance; but peering with her eyes half shut at every one The passes by, she believes much more becoming The Cupid on her fan and she have their eyes full on each other, all the time in which they are not both in motion. Whenever her eye

is turned from that dear object, you may have a glance, and your bow, if she is in humour, returned as civilly as you make it; but that must not be in the presence of a man of greater quality, for Miss Toss is so thoroughly well-bred, that the chief person present has all her regards. And the who giggles at divine service and laughs at her very mother, can compose herself at the approach of a man of a good estate.

[graphic][merged small]

MR. BICKERSTAFF VISITS THE FAMILY OF AN EARLY FRIEND

-SCENE OF DOMESTIC FELICITY.

Interea dulces pendent circum ofcula nati,

Cafta pudicitiam fervat domus. VIRG. Mean time his darling fons hang on his lips, and a strict virtue

appears in the whole family.

HERE are several persons who have many pleasures

and entertainments in their possession which they do not enjoy; it is therefore a kind and good office to acquaint them with their own happiness

and turn their attention to such instances of their good fortune which they are apt to overlook. Persons in the married state often want such a monitor, and pine away their days by looking upon the same condition in anguish and murmur which carries with it, in the opinion of others, a complication of all the pleasures of life and a retreat from its inquietudes.

I am led into this thought by a visit I made an old friend who was formerly my schoolfellow. He came to town last week with his family for the winter, and yesterday morning sent me word his wife expected me to dinner. I am as it were at home at that house, and every member of it knows me for their well-wisher. I cannot indeed express the pleasure

it is to be met by the children with so much joy as I am when I go thither—the boys and girls strive who shall come first when they think it is I that am knocking at the door, and that child which loses the race to me runs back again to tell the father it is Mr. Bickerstaff. This day I was led in by a pretty girl that we all thought must have forgot me, for the family has been out of town these two years. Her knowing me again was a mighty subject with us, and took up our discourse at the first entrance. After which they began to rally me upon a thousand little stories they heard in the country about my marriage to one of my neighbour's daughters, upon which the gentleman, my friend, said, “ Nay, if Mr. Bickerstaff marries a child of any of his old companions, I hope mine shall have the preference; there's Mrs. Mary is now sixteen, and would make him as fine a widow as the best of them. But I know him too well; he is so enamoured with the very memory of those who flourished in our youth, that he will not so much as look upon the modern beauties. I remember, old gentleman, how often you went home in a day to refresh

your countenance and dress when Teraminta reigned in your

heart. As we came up in the coach, I repeated to my wife fome of your verses on her.” With such reflections on little passages which happened long ago, we passed our time during a cheerful and elegant meal. After dinner his lady left the room, as did also the children. As soon as we were alone he took me by the hand: “Well, my good friend,” says he, “I am heartily glad to see thee; I was afraid you would never have seen all the company that dined with you to-day again. Do not you think the good woman of the house a little altered since you followed her from the play-house to find out who she was for me?" I perceived a tear fall down his cheek as he spoke, which moved me not a little. But to turn the discourse, faid I, “She is not indeed quite that creature she was when the returned me the letter I carried from you, and told me she hoped, as I was a gentleman, I would be employed no more to trouble her who had never offended me, but would be so much the gentleman's friend as to dissuade him from a pursuit which he could never succeed in. You may remember I thought her in earnest, and you were forced to employ your cousin Will, who made his sister get acquainted with her for you. You cannot expect her to be for ever fifteen.”

« Fifteen !” replied my good friend: “Ah! you little understand, you that have lived a bachelor, how great, how exquisite a pleasure there is in being really beloved! It is impossible that the most beauteous face in nature should raise in me such pleasing ideas as when I look upon that excellent woman. That fading in her countenance is chiefly caused by her watching with me in my fever. This was followed by a fit of sickness which had like to have carried her off last winter. I tell you sincerely, I have so many obligations to her that I cannot with any sort of moderation think of her present state of health. But as to what you say of fifteen, she gives me every day pleasures beyond what I ever knew in the possefsion of her beauty when I was in the vigour of youth. Every moment of her life brings me fresh instances of her complacency to my inclinations and her prudence in regard to my fortune. Her face is to me much more beautiful than when I first saw it—there is no decay in any feature which I cannot trace from the

very instant it was occasioned by fome anxious concern for my welfare and interests. Thus at the same time, methinks, the love I conceive towards her, for what she was, is heightened by my gratitude for what The is. The love of a wife is as much above the idle passion commonly called by that name, as the loud laughter of buffoons is inferior to the elegant mirth of gentlemen. Oh! she is an inestimable jewel. In her examination of her household affairs, se shews a certain fearfulness to find a fault, which makes her servants obey her like children; and the meanest we have, has an ingenuous shame for an offence, not always to be seen in children in other families. I speak freely to you my old friend; ever since her sickness, things that gave me the quickest joy before, turn now to a certain anxiety. As the children play in the next room, I know the poor things by their steps, and am considering what they must do, should they lose their mother in their tender years. The pleasure I ufed to take in telling my boy stories of the battles, and asking my girl ques

« AnteriorContinuar »