« ZurückWeiter »
to every actual proprietor ; particularly to many widows and orphans, who being bound to depend upon the funds for their whole subsistence, could not possibly retreat from the approaching danger. But this evil, after many unsuccessful attempts of the legislature to conquer it, was, like many other, at length subdued by its own violence; and the reputable stock brokers seem now to have it in their power effectually to prevent its return, by not suffering the most distant approaches of it to take footing in their own practice, and by opposing every effort made for its recovery by the desperate sons of fortune, who, not having the courage of highwaymen, take 'Change Alley rather than the road, because though more injurious than highwaymen, they are less in danger of punishment by the loss either of liberty or life.
With respect to the other patrons to whose encouragement these tables have been recommended, the proprietors of the public funds, who are busy in the improvement of their fortunes, it is sufficient to say, that no motive can sanctify the accumulation of wealth, but an ardent desire to make the most honourable and virtuous use of it, by contributing to the support of good gove ernment, the increase of arts and industry, the rewards of genius and virtue, and the relief of wretchedness and want.
What Good, what True, what Fit we justly call,
Numb. 34. SATURDAY, March 8, 1753.
Has toties optata exegit gloria pænas. Juv.
TO THE ADVENTURER.
Fleetprison, Feb. 24. To a benevolent disposition, every state of life will afford some opportunities of contributing to the welfare of mankind. Opulence and splendour are enabled to dispel the cloud of adversity, to dry up the tears of the widow and the orphan, and to increase the felicity of all around them ; their example will animate virtue, and retard the progress of vice. And even indigence and obscurity, though without power to confer happiness, may at least prevent misery, and apprize those who are
* Five of these papers, Nos. 39, 67, 74, 81, and 128, are now restored to this edition of Dr. Johnson's works. They have hitherto been omitted probably owing to Sir John Hawkins having made use of some incorrect copy of the Adventarer from whence he selected what were written by Dr. Johnson. Mr. Boswell's account of this paper is in many respects erroneous. See BRITISH ESSAYISTS, Preface to the Adventurer, p. 30-35. VOL. III.
blinded by their passions, that they are on the brink of irremediable calamity.
Pleased, therefore, with the thought of recovering others from that folly which has imbittered my own days, I have presumed to address the Adventurer, from the dreary mansions of wretchedness and despair, of which the gates are so wonderfully constructed, as to fly open for the reception of strangers, though they are impervious as a rock of adamant to such as are within them ;
......... Facilis descensus Averni ;
The gates of hell are open night and day ;
Suffer me to acquaint you, sir, that I have glittered at the ball, and sparkled in the circle ; that I have had the happiness to be the unknown favourite of an unknown lady at the masquerade, have been the delight of tables of the first fashion, and the envy of my brother beaux ; and to descend a little lower, it is, I believe, still remembered, that Messrs. Velours and d'Espagne stand indebted for a great part of their present influence at Guildhall, to the elegance of my shape, and the graceful freedom of my carriage.
......... Sed quæ præclara et prospera tanti,
As I entered into the world very young, with an elegant person and a large estate, it was not long before I disentangled myself from the shackles of religion ; for I was determined to the pursuit of pleasure, which according to my notions consisted in the unrestrained and unlimited gratifications of every passion and every appetite ; and as this could not be obtained under the frowns of a perpetual dictator, I considered religion as my enemy ; and proceeding to treat her with contempt and derision, was not a little delighted, that the unfashionableness of her appearance, and the unanimated uniformity of her motions, afforded frequent opportunities for the sallies of my imagination.
Conceiving now that I was sufficiently qualified to laugh away scruples, I imparted my remarks to those among my female favourites, whose virtue I intended to attack ; for I was well assured, that pride would be able to make but a weak defence, when religion was subverted; nor was my success below my expectation ; the love of pleasure is too strongly implanted in the female breast, to suffer them scrupulously to examine the va. lidity of arguments designed to weaken restraint; all are easily led to believe, that whatever thwarts their inclina. tion must be wrong ; little more, therefore, was required, than by the addition of some circumstances, and the exaggeration of others, to make merriment supply the place of demonstration ; nor was I so senseless as to
offer arguments to such as could not attend to them, and with whom a repartee or catch would more effectually answer the same purpose. This being effected, there remained only “ the dread of the world ;” but Roxana soared too high, to think the opinion of others worthy her notice ; Lætitia seemed to think of it only to declare, that “ if all her hairs were worlds," she should reckon them “ well lost for love ;” and Pastorella fondly conceived, that she could dwell for ever by the side of a bubbling fountain, content with her swain and fleecy care ; without considering that stillness and solitude can afford satisfaction only to innocence.
It is not the desire of new acquisitions, but the glory of conquests, that fires the soldier's breast; as indeed the town is seldom worth much, when it has suffered the devastations of a siege ; so that though I did not openly declare the effects of my own prowess, which is forbidden by the laws of honour, it cannot be supposed that I was very solicitous to bury my reputation, or to hinder accidental discoveries. To have gained one victory, is an inducement to hazard a second engagement; and though the success of the general should be a reason for increasing the strength of the fortification, it becomes, with many, a pretence for an immediate surrender, under the notion that no power is able to withstand so formidable an adversary ; while others brave the danger, and think it mean to surrender, and dastardly to fly. Melissa, indeed, knew better ; and though she could not boast the apathy, steadiness, and inflexibility of a Cato, wanted not the more prudent virtue of Scipio, and gained the victory by declining the contest.