Page images

tives and political obfervations; and the colonel afterwards detailed the adventures of a birth-night, told the claims and expectations of the courtiers, and gave an account of affemblies, gardens, and diverfions. I, indeed, effayed to fill up a pause in a parliamentary debate with a faint mention of trade and Spaniards; and once attempted, with fome warmth, to correct a grofs mistake about a filver breast-knot; but neither of my antagonists feemed to think a reply neceffary; they refumed their difcourse without emotion, and again engroffed the attention of the company; nor did one of the ladies appear defirous to know my opinion of her drefs, or to hear how long the carnation fhot with white, that was then new amongst them, had been antiquated in


As I knew that neither of these gentlemen had more money than myself, I could not difcover what had depreffed me in their prefence; nor why they were confidered by others as more worthy of attention and refpect; and therefore refolved, when we met again, to roufe my fpirit, and force myself into notice. I went very early to the next weekly meeting, and was entertaining a fmall circle very fuccefffully with a minute representation of my lord mayor's show, when the colonel entered careless and gay, fat down with a kind of unceremonious civility, and, without appearing to intend any interruption, drew my audience away to the other part of the room, to which I had not the courage to follow them. Soon after came in the lawyer, not indeed with the fame attraction of mien, but with greater powers of language; and by one or other the company was fo VOL. V. U


happily amufed, that I was neither heard nor feen, nor was able to give any other proof of my existence than that I put round the glafs, and was in my turn permitted to name the toast.

My mother indeed endeavoured to comfort me in my vexation, by telling me, that perhaps thefe fhowy talkers were hardly able to pay every one his own; that he who has money in his pocket need not care what any man fays of him; that, if I minded my trade, the time will come when lawyers and foldiers would be glad to borrow out of my purse; and that it is fine, when a man can set his hands to his fides, and say he is worth forty thousand pounds every day of the year. These and many more fuch confolations and encouragements I received from my good mother, which, however, did not much allay my uneafiness; for having by fome accident heard, that the country ladies defpifed her as a cit, I had therefore no longer much reverence for her opinions, but confidered her as one whofe ignorance and prejudice had hurried me, though without ill intentions, into a state of meanness and ignominy, from which I could not find any poffibility of rifing to the rank which my ancestors had always held.

I returned, however, to my master, and busied my. felf among thread, and filks, and laces, but without my former cheerfulness and alacrity. I had now no longer any felicity in contemplating the exact difpofition of my powdered curls, the equal plaits of my ruffles, or the gloffy blacknefs of my fhoes; heard with my former elevation thofe compliments which ladies fometimes condefcended to pay me upon my readiness in twisting a paper, or counting



out the change. The term of Young Man, with which I was fometimes honoured, as I carried a parcel to the door of a coach, tortured my imagination; I grew negligent of my person, and fullen in my temper; often miftook the demands of the cuf tomers, treated their caprices and objections with contempt, and received and dismissed them with furly


My mafter was afraid left the shop should fuffer by this change of my behaviour; and, therefore, after fome expoftulations, pofted me in the warehouse, and preserved me from the danger and reproach of defertion, to which my difcontent would certainly have urged me, had I continued any longer behind the counter.

In the fixth year of my fervitude my brother died of drunken joy, for having run down a fox that had baffled all the packs in the province. I was now heir, and with the hearty consent of my master commenced gentleman. The adventures in which my new character engaged me fhall be communicated in another letter, by, Sir,

Yours, &c.


NUMB. 117. TUESDAY, April 30, 1751.

Οσσαν ἐπ ̓ Οὐλύμπῳ μέμασαν θέμεν· αὐτὰς ἐπ ̓ Οσση
Πήλιον εινοσίφυλλον, ἵν ἐρανὸς ἀμβατὸς εἴη.

The gods they challenge, and affect the fkies:
Heav'd on Olympus tott'ring Offa ftood;
On Offa, Pelion nods with all his wood.





NOTHING has more retarded the advancement of learning than the difpofition of vulgar minds to ridicule and vilify what they cannot comprehend. All industry must be excited by hope; and as the student often propofes no other reward to himself than praife, he is eafily discouraged by contempt and infult. He who brings with him into a clamorous multitude the timidity of reclufe fpeculation, and has never hardened his front in publick life, or accustomed his paffions to the viciffitudes and accidents, the triumphs and defeats of mixed converfation, will blush at the ftare of petulant incredulity, and fuffer himself to be driven by a burst of laughter, from the fortreffes of demonftration. The mechanist will be afraid to affert before hardy contradiction, the poffibility of tearing down bulwarks with a filkworm's thread; and the aftronomer of relating the rapidity of light, the distance of the fixed ftars, and the height of the lunar mountains.


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

If I could by any efforts have fhaken off this cowardice, I had not fheltered myself under a borrowed name, nor applied to you for the means of communicating to the publick the theory of a garret; a subject which, except fome flight and tranfient ftrictures, has been hitherto neglected by thofe who were beft qualified to adorn it, either for want of leisure to profecute the various researches in which a nice difcuffion must engage them, or because it requires fuch diverfity of knowledge, and fuch extent of curiofity, as is fcarcely to be found in any fingle intellect; or perhaps others forefaw the tumults which would be raised against them, and confined their knowledge to their own breafts, and abandoned prejudice and folly to the direction of chance.

That the profeffors of literature generally refide in the highest stories, has been immemorially obferved. The wisdom of the ancients was well acquainted with the intellectual advantages of an elevated fituation why else were the Mufes ftationed on Olympus, or Parnaffus by thofe who could with equal right have raised them bowers in the vale of Tempe, or erected their altars among the flexures of Meander? Why was fove himself nursed upon a mountain? or why did the goddeffes, when the prize of beauty was contested, try the cause upon the top of Ida? Such were the fictions by which the great masters of the earlier ages endeavoured to inculcate to pofterity the importance of a garret, which, though they had been long obfcured by the negligence and ignorance of fucceeding times, were well enforced by the celebrated fymbol of Pythagoras, ἀνεμῶν πνεόντων τὴν ἠχω προσκύνει ; “when the wind blows, worship its echo." U 3


« PreviousContinue »