« PreviousContinue »
be murdered; nor did I ever hear but of one ghost killed in all my life, and that was stabbed in the belly with a'-'My blood and soul it I don't * Mr. Bellows-mender, I have the honour of drink. ing your very good health'— Blast me if I do' • Dam'- Blood'-' Bugs-Fir'Whizz-Blid'
Tit'— Rat'- Trip-The rest all riot, non. sense, and rapid 'confusion.
Were I to be angry at men for being fools, I could here find ample room for declamation ; but, alas! I have been a fool myself; and why should I be angry with them for being something so natural to every child of humanity ?
Fatigued with this society, I was introduced, the following night, to a club of fashion. On taking my place, I found the conversation sufficiently easy, and tolerably good-natured; for my lord and sir Paul were not yet arrived. I now thought myself completely fitted, and, resolving to seek no farther, determined to take up my residence here for the winter : while my temper began to open insensibly to the cheerfulness I saw diffused on every face in the room : but the delusion soon va. nished, when the waiter came to apprise us that bis Jordship and sir Paul were just arrived.
Trom this moment all our felicity was at an end; our new guests bustled into the room, and took their seats at the head of the table. Adieu now all confidence; every creature strove who should most recommend himself to our members of distinction. Each seemed qnite regardless of pleasing any but our new guests; and what before wore the appearance of friendship, was now turned into rivalry.
Yet I could not observe that, amidst all this flattery and obsequioas attention, our great men took any notice of the rest of the company. Their whole discourse was addressed to each other. Sir Paul told his lordship a long story of Moravia the Jew; and his lordship gave sir Paul a very long account of his new method of managing silk-worms; he led him, and consequently the rest of the company, through all the stages of feeding, sunning, and hatching; with an episode on mulberry-trees, a digression upon grass-seeds, and a long parenthesis about his new postillion. In this manner we travelled on, wishing every story to be the last ; but all in vain :
• Hills over hills, and Alps on Alps arose.' The last club in which I was enrolled a member, was a society of moral philosophers, as they called themselves, who assembled twice a week, in order to show the absurdity of the present mode of religion, and establish a new one in its stead.
I found the members very warmly disputing when I arrived; not indeed about religion, or ethics, but about who had neglected to lay down his prelimi. nary sixpence upon entering the room. sident swore that he had laid his own down, and so. swore all the company.
During this contest, I had an opportunity of observing the laws, and also the members, of Ibe society: The president, who had been, as I was told, lately a bankrupt, was a tall, pale figure, with a long black wig, the next to him was dressed in a. large wbite wig, and a black cravat; a third, by the brownness of his complexion, seemed a native of Jamaica ; and a fourth, by his hue, appeared to be a blacksmith. But their rules will give the most just idea of their learning and principles.
1. We, being a laudable society of moral philosophers, intend to dispute twice a week about religion and priestcraft; leaving behind us old wives' tales, and following good learning and sound sense : and if so be, that any other persons has a mind to be of the society, they shall be entitled so to do, upon paying the sum of three shillings, to be spent by the company in punch.
II. That no meinber get drunk before nine of the clock, upon pain of forfeiting three-pence, to be spent by the company in punch.
* III. That as members are sometimes apt to go away without paying, every person shall pay sixpence upon his entering the room; and all disputes shall be settled by a majority; and all fines shall be paid in punch.
• IV. That sixpence shall be every night given to the president, in order to buy books of learning for the good of the society ; the president has already put himself to a good deal of expense in buying books for the club; particularly the works of Tully, Socrates, and Cicero, which he will soon read to the society.
• All them who brings a new argument against religion, and who, being a philosopher, and a man of learning, as the rest of us is, shall be admitted to the freedom of the society, upon paying sixpence only, to be spent in punch.
• VI. Whenever we are to have an extraordinary meeting, it shall be advertised by some outlandish name in the newspapers.
SAUNDERS MAC WILD, president.
bis + mark.
ON THE POLICY OF CONCEALING OUR
WANTS OR POVERTY.
IT is usually said by grammarians, that the nse of
language is to express our wants and desires; but men who know the world, hold, and I think with some show of reason, that lie who best knows how to keep his necessities private, is the most likely person to have them redressed; and that the true use of speech is not so much to express our wants, as to conceal them.
When we reflect on the manner in which mankind generally confer their favours, there appears something so attractive in riches, that the large heap generally collects from the smaller: and the poor find as much pleasure in increasing the enor. mous mass of the rich, as the miser, who owns it, sees happiness in its increase. Nor is there in this any thing repugnant to the laws of morality. Seneca himself allows, that, in conferring benefits, the present should always be suited to the dignity of the receiver. Thus the rich receive large presents, and are thanked for accepting them. Men of middling stations are obliged to be content with presents something less ; while the beggar, who may be truly said to want indeed, is well paid if a fa rthing rewards his warmest solicitations.
Every man wbo has seen the world, and has had his ups and downs in life, as the expression is, must have frequently experienced the truth of this doctrine; and must know, that to have much, or to seem to have it, is the only way to have more. Ovid finely compares a man of broken fortune toi a falling column; the lower it sinks, the greater weight it is obliged to sustain. Thus, when a man's circumstances are such that he has no occasion to borrow, he finds numbers willing to lend him; but, should his wants be such, that he sues for a trifle, it is two to one whether he may be trusted with the smallest sum, A certain young fellow, whom I knew, whenever he had occasion to ask his friend for a guinea, used to prelude bis request as 'if he wanted two hundred; and talked so familiarly of large sums, that none could ever think he wanted a small one. The same gentleman, whenever he wanted credit for a suit of clothes, always made the proposal in a laced coat; for he found by experience, that, if he appeared shabby on these occasions, his tailor had taken an oath against trusting, or, what was every whit as bad, his foreman 'was out of the way, and would not be at home for some time.
There can be no inducement to reveal our wants, except to find pity, and by this means relief; but before a poor man opens his mind in such circumstances, he should first consider whether he is contented to lose the esteem of the person he solicits, and whether he is willing to give up friendship to escite compassion. Pity and friendship are passions incompatible with each other; and it is inipossible that both can reside in any breast, for the smallest space, without impairing each other. I'riendship is made up of esteem and pleasure pity is composed of sorrow and contempt: tie mind may, for some time, fluctuate between them, but it can never entertain both at once.
In fact, pity, though it may often relieve, is but, at best, a short-lived passion, and seldom affords distress more than a transitory assistance: with some