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NUMB. 101. Tuesday, March 5, 1751.

Mella jubes Hyblaa tibi vel Hymettia nasci,

Et thyma Cecropia Corfica ponis api.

Mart.

Alas! dear Sir, you try in vain,
Impossibilities to gain ;
No bee from Corsica's rank juice
Hyblæan honey can produce.

F. Lewis.

To the RAMBLER. SIR, HAVING by several years of continual study

treasured in my mind a great number of principles and ideas, and obtained by frequent exercise the power of applying them with propriety, and combining them with readiness, I resolved to quit the university, where I considered myself as a gem hidden in the mine, and to mingle in the crowd of publick life. I was naturally attracted by the company

of those who were of the same age with myself, and finding that my academical gravity contributed very little to my reputation, applied my faculties to jocularity and burlesque. Thus, in a short time, I had heated my imagination to such a state of activity and ebullition, that upon every occasion it fumed away in bursts of wit, and evaporations of gaiety. I became on a sudden the idol of the cof- . fee-house, was in one winter solicited to accept the presidentship of five clubs, was dragged by violence

to

to every new play, and quoted in every controversy upon theatrical merit; was in every publick place furrounded by a multitude of humble auditors, who retailed in other places of refort my máxims and my jests, and was boasted as their intimate and companion, by many, who had no other pretensions to my acquaintance, than that they had drank chocolate in the fame room.

You will not wonder, Mr. RAMBLER, that I men. tion my success with some appearance of triumph and elevation. Perhaps 'no kind of fuperiority is more flattering or alluring than that which is conferred by the powers of conversation, by extemporaneous {prightliness of fancy, copiousness of language, and fertility of sentiment. In other exertions of genius, the greater part of the praise is unknown and unenjoyed; the writer, indeed, spreads his reputation to a wider extent, but receives little pleasure or advantage from the diffufion of his name, and only obtains a kind of nominal sovereignty over regions which pay no tribute. The colloquial wit has always his own radiance reflected on himself, and enjoys all the pleasure which he bestows; he finds his power confessed by every one that approaches him, fees friendship kindling with rapture, and attention swelling into praise.

The desire which every man feels of importance and esteem, is so much gratified by finding an assembly, at his entrance, brightened with gladness and hushed with expectation, that the recollection of such distinctions can scarcely fail to be pleasing whenfoever it is innocent. And my conscience does not reproach me with any mean or criminal effects of vanity ; since I always employed my influence on the fide of virtue, and never sacrificed my understanding or my religion to the pleasure of applause.

There were many whom either the desire of enjoying my pleasantry, or the pride of being thought to enjoy it, brought often into my company; but I was caressed in a particular manner by Demochares, a gentleman of a large estate, and a liberal disposition. My fortune being by no means exuberant, inclined me to be pleased with a friend who was willing to be entertained at his own charge. I became by daily invitations habituated to his table, and, as he believed my acquaintance neceffary to the character of elegance, which he was defirous of establishing, I lived in all the luxury of affluence, without expence, or dependence, and passed my life in a perpetual reciprocation of pleasure, with men brought together by fimilitude of accomplishments, or desire of improvement.

But all power has its sphere of activity, beyond which it produces no effect. Domochares being calied by his affairs into the country, imagined that he should increase his popularity by coming among his neighbours accompanied by a man whose abilities were so generally allowed.

The report prefently spread through half the country that Demochares was arrived, and had brought with him the celebrated Hilarius, by whom such merriment would be excited, as had never been enjoyed or conceived before. I knew, indeed, the purpose for which I was invited, and, as men do not look diligently out for possible miscarriages, was pleased to find myself courted upon principles of interest, and considered

as to

as capable of reconciling fa&ions, composing feuds, and uniting a whole province in social happiness.

After a few days spent in adjusting his domestick regulations, Demochares invited all the gentlemen of his neighbourhood to dinner, and did not forget to hint how much my presence was expected to heighten the pleasure of the feast. He informed me what prejudices my reputation had raised in my favour, and represented the fatisfaction with which he should see me kindle up the blaze of merriment, and should remark the various effects that my fire would have upon such diversity of matter.

This declaration, by which he intended quicken my vivacity, filled me with folicitude. I felt an ambition of shining which I never knew before; and was therefore embarrassed with an unusual fear of disgrace. I pafled the night in planning out to myself the conversation of the coming day ; recollected all my topicks of raillery, proposed proper fubjeets of ridicule, prepared smart replies to a thousand questions, accommodated answers to imaginary repartees, and formed a magazine of remarks, apophthegms, tales, and illustrations.

The morning broke at last in the midst of these busy meditations. I rose with the palpitations of a champion on the day of combat ; and, notwithstanding all my efforts, found my spirits funk under the weight of expectation. The company soon after began to drop in, and every one, at his entrance, was introduced to Hilarius. What conception the inhabitants of this region had formed of a wit, I cannot yet discover ; but observed that they all seemed, after the regular exchange of compli

ments,

ments, to turn away disappointed ; and that while we waited for dinner, they cast their eyes

first upon me, and then upon each other, like a theatrical assembly waiting for a shew.

From the uneasiness of this situation, I was relieved by the dinner; and as every attention was taken up by the business of the hour, I sunk quietly to a level with the rest of the company. But no sooner were the dishes removed, than, instead of cheerful confidence and familiar prattle, an universal silence again shewed their expectation of some unusual performance. My friend endeavoured to rouse them by healths and questions, but they answered him with great brevity, and immediately relapsed into their former taciturnity.

I had waited in hope of some opportunity to divert them, but could find no pass opened for a single fally; and who can be merry without an object of mirth ? After a few faint efforts, which produced neither applause nor opposition, I was content to mingle with the mass, to put round the glass in silence, and solace myself with my own contemplations.

My friend looked round him; the guests stared at one another; and if now and then a few syllables were uttered with timidity and hesitation, there was. none ready to make any reply. All our faculties were frozen, and every minute took away from our capacity of pleasing, and disposition to be pleased. Thus passed the hours to which so much happiness was decreed; the hours which had, by a kind of open proclamation, been devoted to wit, to mirth, and to Hilarius.

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