Page images

prepare my cane for action, and walked in the shadow of a porter, that he might not perceive me soon enough to make his escape; but, in the very instant I had lifted up the instrument of correction, I found Tim Cropdale metamorphosed into a miserable blind wretch, feeling his way with a long stick from post to post, and rolling about two bald unlighted orbs, instead of eyes. I was exceedingly shocked at having so narrowly escaped the concern and disgrace that would have attended such a misapplication of vengeance; but next day Tim prevailed upon a friend of mine to come and solicit my forgiveness, and offer bis note, payable in six weeks, for the price of the pony. This gentleman gave me to understand, that the blind man was no other than Cropdale, who, having seen me advancing, and guessing my intent, had immediately converted himself into the object aforesaid. I was so diverted at the ingenuity of the evasion, that I agreed to pardon the offence, refusing his note, however, that I might keep a prosecution for felony hanging over his head, as a security for his future good behaviour ; but Timothy would by no means trust himself in my hands till the note was accepted. Then he made his appearance at my door as a blind beggar, and imposed in such a manner upon my man, who had been his old acquaintance and pot-companion, that the fellow threw the door in his face, and even threatened to give him the bastinado. Hearing a noise in the hall, I went thither, and, immediately recollecting the figure I had passed in the street, accosted him by his own name, to the unspeakable astonishment of the footman.”

Birkin declared he loved a joke as well as another; but asked if any of the company could tell where Mr. Cropdale lodged, that he might send him a proposal about restitution, before the boots should be made away with. “I would willingly give him a pair of new shoes,” said he, “and half a guinea into the bargain, for the boots, which fitted me like a glove, and I shan't be able to get the fellows of them till the good weather for riding is over.” The stuttering wit declared, that the only secret which Cropdale ever kept was the place of his lodgings; but he believed that, during the heats of summer, he commonly took his repose upon a bulk. “Confound him!” cried the bookseller, “he might as well have taken my whip and spurs: in that case, he might have been tempted to steal another horse, and then he would have rid to the devil of course."

After coffee, I took my leave of Mr. S- , with proper acknowledgments of his civility, and was extremely well pleased with the entertainment of the day, though not yet satisfied with respect to the nature of this connexion betwixt a man of character in the literary world and a parcel of authorlings, who, in all probability, would never be able to acquire any degree of reputation by their labours. On this head, I interrogated my conductor, Dick Ivy, who answered me to this effect: “One would imagine S- had some view to his own interest, in giving countenance and assistance to those people whom he knows to be bad men as well as bad writers; but, if he has any such view, he will find himself disappointed, for, if he is so vain as to imagine he can make them subservient to his schemes of profit or ambition, they are cunning enough to make him their property in the meantime. There is not one of the company you have seen to-day (myself excepted) who does not owe him particular obligations. One of them he bailed out of a spunging-house and afterwards paid the debt-another he translated into his family and clothed, when he was turned out half-naked from gaol, in consequence of an act for the relief of insolvent debtors—a third, who was reduced to a woollen nightcap, and lived upon sheep's trotters, up three pair of stairs backward, in Butcher Row, he took into present pay and free quarters, and enabled him to appear as a gentleman, without having the fear of sheriff's officers before his eyes. Those who are in distress he supplies with money when he has it, and with his credit when he is out of cash. When they want business, he either finds employment for them in his own service, or recommends them to booksellers, to execute some project he has formed for their subsistence. They are always welcome to his table (which, though plain, is plentiful), and to his good offices as far as they will go; and, when they see occasion, they make use of his name with the most petulant familarity, nay, they do not even scruple to arrogate to themselves the merit of some of his performances, and have been known to sell their own lucubrations as the produce of his brain. The Scotchman you saw at dinner once personated him at an alehouse in West Smithfield, and, in the character of s— had his head broke by a cow-keeper, for having spoke disrespectfully of the Christian religion; but he took the law of him in his own person, and the assailant was fain to give bim ten pounds to withdraw his action.” I have dwelt so long upon authors, that you will perhaps suspect I

intend to enrol myself among the fraternity ; but, if I were actually qualified for the profession, it is at best but a desperate resource against starving, as it affords no provision for old age and infirmity. Salmon, at the age of fourscore, is now in a garret, compiling matter at a guinea a sheet for a modern historian, who, in point of age, might be his grandchild; and Psalmanazar, after having drudged half a century in the literary world, in all the simplicity and abstinence of an Asiatic, subsists upon the charity of a few booksellers, just sufficient to keep him from the parish. I think Guy, who was himself a bookseller, ought to have appropriated one wing or ward of his hospital to the use of decayed authors; though, indeed, there is neither hospital, college, or workhouse, within the bills of mortality, large enough to contain the poor of this society, composed, as it is, from the refuse of every other profession.


CHALMERS. THE Reverend Thomas Chalmers, D.D., is one of the most eloquent, pious, and philosophical divines of the Scottish Church. He was born about 1780, and received his education at the University of Saint Andrews. As a preacher, few men ever attained such unbounded popularity. He visited London in 1817, and the effect he produced is thus recorded by Mr. Wilberforce in his Diary: “ Off early with Canning, Huskisson, and Lord Binning, to the Scotch Church, London Wall, to hear Dr. Chalmers. Vast crowds. So pleased with him that I went again, getting in at a window with Lady D., over iron palisades, on a bench. Chalmers most awful on carnal and spiritual man. .... I was surprised to see how greatly Canning was affected; at times he quite melted into tears. I should have thought he had been too much hardened in debate to show such signs of feeling." The range of Dr. Chalmers' knowledge is very various ; but perhaps the most original of his views are those connected with what may be termed the morals of political economy. The following extract is from his Bridgewater Treatise, 'The Adaptation of external Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Constitution of Man.'

There is a felt satisfaction in the thought of having done what we kuow to be right; and, in counterpart to this complacency of self

approbation, there is a felt discomfort, amounting often to bitter and remorseful agony, in the thought of having done what conscience tells us to be wrong. This implies a sense of the rectitude of what is virtuous. But, without thinking of its rectitude at all, without viewing it in reference either to the law of conscience or the law of God, with no regard to jurisprudence in the matter, there is, in the virtuous affection itself another and a distinct enjoyment. We ought to cherish and to exercise benevolence ; and there is a pleasure in the consciousness of doing what we ought: but beside this moral sentiment, and beside the peculiar pleasure appended to benevolence as moral, there is a sensation in the merely physical affection of benevolence; and that sensation, of itself, is in the highest degree pleasurable. The primary or instant gratification which there is in the direct and immediate feeling of benevolence is one thing: the second or reflex gratification which there is in the consciousness of benevolence as moral is another thing. The two are distinct of themselves; but the contingent union of them, in the case of every virtuous affection, gives a multiple force to the conclusion, that God is the lover, and, because so, the patron or the rewarder, of virtue. He hath so constituted our nature, that in the very flow and exercise of the good affections there shall be the oil of gladness. There is instant delight in the first conception of benevolence; there is sustained delight in its continued exercise; there is consummated delight in the happy, smiling, and prosperous result of it. Kindness, and honesty, and truth, are of themselves, and irrespective of their rightness, sweet unto the taste of the inner man. Malice, envy, falsehood, injustice, irrespective of their wrongness, have, of themselves, the bitterness of gall and wormwood. The Deity hath annexed a high mental enjoyment, not to the consciousness only of good affections, but to the very sense and feeling of good affections. However closely these may follow on each othernay, however implicated or blended together they may be at the same moment into one compound state of feeling-they are not the less distinct, on that account, of themselves. They form two pleasurable sensations, instead of one; and their opposition, in the case of every virtuous deed or virtuous desire, exhibits to us that very concurrence in the world of mind which obtains with such frequency and fulness in the world of matter, affording, in every new part that is added, not a simply repeated only, but a vastly multiplied evidence for design, throughout all its combinations. There is a pleasure in the very sensation of virtue; and there is a pleasure attendant on the sense of its rectitude. These two phenomena are independent of each other. Let there be a certain number of chances against the first in a random economy of things, and also a certain number of chances against the second. In the actual economy of things, where there is the conjunction of both phenomena, it is the product of these two numbers which represents the amount of evidence afforded by them, for a moral government in the world, and a moral governor over them.

In the calm satisfactions of virtue, this distinction may not be so palpable as in the pungent and more vividly felt disquietudes which are attendant on the wrong affections of our nature. The perpetual corrosion of that heart, for example, which frets in unhappy peevishness all the day long, is plainly distinct from the bitterness of that remorse which is felt, in the recollection of its harsh and injurious outbreakings on the innocent sufferers within its reach. It is saying much for the moral character of God, that he has placed a conscience within us, which administers painful rebuke on every indulgence of a wrong affection. But it is saying still more for such being the character of our Maker, so to have framed our mental constitution that, in the very working of these bad affections, there should be the painfulness of a felt discomfort and discordancy. Such is the make or mechanism of our nature, that it is thwarted and put out of sorts by rage, and envy, and hatred; and this irrespective of the adverse moral judgments which conscience passes upon them. Of themselves, they are unsavoury; and no sooner do they enter the heart, than they shed upon it an immediate distillation of bitterness. Just as the placid smile of benevolence bespeaks the felt comfort of benevolence; so, in the frown and tempest of an angry countenance, do we read the unhappiness of that man who is vexed and agitated by his own malignant affections, eating inwardly, as they do, on the vitals of his enjoyment. It is therefore that he is often styled, and truly, a self-tormentor, or his own worst enemy. The delight of virtue, in itself, is a separate thing from the delight of the conscience which approves it. And the pain of moral evil, in itself, is a separate thing from the pain inflicted by conscience in the act of condemning it. They offer to our notice two distinct ingredients, both of the present reward attendant upon virtue, and of the present penalty attendant upon vice, and so enhance the evidence that is before our eyes for the moral character of that administration under which the world has been

« PreviousContinue »