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as I went on : the dog was now silent; I increased the pathos of my voice in proportion as I ascended the climax of distress, and flattered myself that poetry and truth would still be victorious; but just at this crisis, the gentleman, who had disengaged me from the napkin, desired me to stop half a moment: something, he said, had just started into his mind, which, if he did not communicate, he might forget: then, turning to his companion, Jack,' says he, there was sold in Smithfield no longer ago than last Saturday, the largest ox that ever I be held in my life. The ridicule of this malicious apostrophe was so striking, that pity and decorum gave way, and my patroness herself burst inte laughter : upon me, indeed, it produced a very different effect: for if I had been detected in an unsuccessful attempt to pick a pocket, I could not have felt more shame, confusion, and anguish. The laughter into which the company had been surprised, was, however, immediately suppressed, and a severe censure passed upon
produced it. To atone for the mortification which I had suffered, the ladies expressed the utmost impatience to hear the conclusion, and I was encouraged by repeated encomiums to proceed; but, though I once more attempted to recollect myself, and again began the speech in which I had been interrupted, yet my thoughts were still distracted; my voice faltered, and I had scarce breath to finish the first period.
This was remarked by my tormentor the Buck, who, suddenly snatching the manuscript out of my hands, declared that I did not do my play justice, and that he would finish it himself. He then began to read; but the affected gravity of his countenance, the unnatural tone of his voice, and the remembrance of his late anecdote of the ox, excited
sensations that were incompatible both with pity and terror, and rendered me extremely wretched by keeping the company perpetually on the brink of laughter.
In the action of my play, virtue had been sustained by her own dignity, and exulted in the enjoyment of intellectual and independent happiness, during a series of external calamities that terminated in death ; and vice, by the success of her own projects, had been betrayed into shame, perplexity, and confusion. These events were indeed natural; and therefore I poetically inferred, with all the confidence of demonstration, that the torments of Tartarus, and the felicity of Elysium, were not necessary to the justification of the Gods ; since whatever inequality might be pretended in the distribution of externals
, peace is still the prerogative of virtue, and intellectual misery can be inflicted only by guilt.
But the intellectual misery which I suffered at the very moment when this favourite sentiment was read, produced an irresistible conviction that it was false : because, except the dread of that punishment which I had indirectly denied, I felt all the torment that could be inflicted by guilt. In the prosecution of an undertaking which I believed to be virtuous, peace had been driven from
my heart by the concurrence of accident with the vices of others, and the misery that I suffered, suddenly propagated itself: for not only enjoyment, but hope was now at an end; my play, upon which both had depended, was overturned from its foundation ; and I was so much affected that I took my leave with the abrupt haste of distress and perplexity. I had no concern about what should be said of me when I was departed; and, perhaps, at the moment when I went out of the house, there was not in the world any human being more wretched than myself. The next morning, when I reflected coolly upon these events, I would willingly have reconciled my experience with my principles, even at the expense of my morals. I would have supposed that my
desire of approbation was inordinate, and that a virtuous indifference about the opinion of others would have prevented all my distress; but I was compelled to acknowledge, that to acquire this indifference was not possible, and that no man becomes vicious by not effecting impossibilities: there may be heights of virtue beyond our reach; but to be vicious, we must either do something from which we have power to abstain, or neglect something which we have power to do: there remained, therefore, no expedient to recover any part of the credit I had lost, but setting a truth, which I had newly discovered by means so extraordinary, in a new light; and with this view I am a candidate for a place in the Adventurer.
I am, Sir, your's, &c.
N° 53. TUESDAY, MAY 8, 1753.
Quisque suos patimur Manes.
Each has his lot, and bears the fate he drew.
Fleet, May 6. In consequence of my engagements, I address you once more from the habitations of misery. In this place, from which business and pleasure are equally excluded, and in which our only employment and diversion is to hear the narratives of each other, I might much sooner have gathered materials for a letter, had I not hoped to have been reminded of my promise: but since I find myself placed in the regions of oblivion, where I am no less neglected by you than by the rest of mankind, I resolved no longer to wait for solicitation, but stole early this evening from between gloomy sullenness and riotous merriment, to give you an account of part of my companions.
One of the most eminent members of our club is Mr. Edward Scamper, a man of whose name the Olympic heroes would not have been ashamed. Ned was born to a small estate, which he determined to improve ; and therefore as soon as he became of age, mortgaged part of his land to buy a mare and stallion, and bred horses for the course. He was at first very successful, and gained several of the king's plates, as he is now every day boasting, at the expense of very little more than ten times their value. At last, however, he discovered, that victory brought him more honour than profit; resolving, therefore, to be rich as well as illustrious, he replenished his pockets by another mortgage, became on a sudden a daring Better, and resolving not to trust a jockey with his fortune, rode his horse himself, distanced two of his competitors, the first heat, and at last won the race, by forcing his horse on a descent to full speed, at the hazard of his neck. His estate was thus repaired, and some friends that had no souls advised him to give over ; but Ned now knew the way to riches, and therefore without caution increased his
From this hour he talked and dreamed of nothing but a horse-race; and rising soon to the summit of equestrian reputation, he was constantly expected on every course, divided all his time between lords and jockeys, and as the unexperienced regulated their bets by his example, gained a great deal of money by laying openly on one horse and secretly on the other. Ned was now so sure of growing rich, that he involved his estate in a third mortgage, borrowed money
of all his friends, and risked his whole fortune upon Bay Lincoln. He mounted with beating heart, started fair and won the first heat; but in the second, as he was pushing against the foremost of his rivals, his girth broke, his shoulder was dislocated, and before he was dismissed by the surgeon, two bailiffs fastened upon him, and he saw Newmarket no more. His daily amusement for four years has been to blow the signal for starting, to make imaginary matches, to repeat the pedigree of Bay Lincoln, and to form resolutions against trusting another groom with the choice of his girth.
The next in seniority is Mr. Timothy Snug, a man of deep contrivance and impenetrable secrecy. His father died with the reputation of more wealth than he possessed : Tim, therefore, entered the world with a reputed fortune of ten thousand pounds. Of this he very well knew that eight thousand was imaginary: but being a man of refined policy, and knowing how much honour is annexed to riches, he resolved never to detect his own poverty; but furnished his house with elegance, scattered his money with profusion, encouraged every scheme of costly pleasure, spoke of petty losses with negligence, and on the day before an execution entered his doors, had proclaimed at a public table his resolution to be jolted no longer in a hackney-coach.
Another of my companions is the magnanimous Jack Scatter, the son of a country gentleman, who