Abbildungen der Seite

having no other care than to leave him rich, considered that literature could not be had without expense; masters would not teach for nothing; and when a book was bought and read, it would sell for little. Jack was, therefore, taught to read and write by the butler; and when this acquisition was made, was left to pass his days in the kitchen and the stable, where he heard no crime censured but covetousness and distrust of poor honest servants, and where all the praise was bestowed on good housekeeping and a free heart. At the death of his father, Jack set himself to retrieve the honour of his family: he abandoned his cellar to the butler, ordered his groom to provide hay and corn at discretion, took his housekeeper's word for the expenses of the kitchen, allowed all his servants to do their work by deputies, permitted his domestics to keep his house open to their relations and acquaintance, and in ten years was conveyed hither, without having purchased by the loss of his patrimony either honour or pleasure, or obtained any other gratification than that of having corrupted the neighbouring villagers by luxury and idleness.

Dick Serge was a draper in Cornhill, and passed eight years in prosperous diligence, without any care but to keep his books, or any ambition but to be in time an alderman; but then, by some unaccountable revolution in his understanding, he became enamoured of wit and humour, despised the conversation of pedlars and stockjobbers, and rambled every night to the regions of_gaiety, in quest of company suited to his taste.

The wits at first flocked about him for sport, and afterwards for interest; some found their way into his books, and some into his pockets; the man of adventure was equipped from his shop for the pursuit of a

ance, tore

fortune; and he had sometimes the honour to have his security accepted when his friends were in distress. Elated with these associations, he soon learned to neglect his shop; and having drawn his money out of the funds, to avoid the necessity of teasing men of honour for trifling debts, he has been forced at last to retire hither, till his friends can procure

him a post at court. Another that joins in the same mess is Bob Cornice, whose life has been spent in fitting up a house. About ten years ago Bob purchased the country habitation of a bankrupt: the mere shell of a building, Bob holds no great matter, the inside is the test of elegance. Of this house he was no sooner master than he summoned twenty workmen to his assist


the floors and laid them anew, stripped off the wainscot, drew the windows from their frames, altered the disposition of doors and fireplaces, and cast the whole fabric into a new form: his next care was to have his ceilings painted, his pannels gilt, and his chimney-pieces carved : every thing was executed by the ablest hands: Bob's business was to follow the workmen with a microscope, and call them to retouch their performances, and heighten excellence to perfection. The reputation of his house now brings round him a daily confluence of visitants, and every one tells him of some elegance which he has hitherto overlooked, some convenience not yet procured, or some new mode in ornament or furniture. Bob, who had no wish but to be admired, nor any guide but the fashion, thought every thing beautiful in proportion as it was new, and considered his work as unfinished, while any observer could suggest an addition; some alteration was therefore every day made, without any other motive than the charms of novelty. A traveller at last suggested to him the convenience of a grotto : Bob immediately ordered the mount of his garden to be excavated; and having laid out a large sum in shells and minerals, was busy in regulating the disposition of the colours and lustres, when two gentlemen, who had asked permission to see his gardens, presented him a writ, and led him off to less elegant apartments.

I know not, Sir, whether among this fraternity of sorrow you

will think


much to be pitied; nor indeed do many of them appear to solicit compassion, for they generally applaud their own conduct, and despise those whom want of taste or spirit suffers to grow rich. It were happy if the prisons of the kingdom were filled only with characters like these, men whom prosperity could not make useful, and whom ruin cannot make wise: but there are among us many who raise different sensations,


that owe their present misery to the seductions of treachery, the strokes of casualty, or the tenderness of pity: many whose sufferings disgrace society, and whose virtues would adorn it: of these, when familiarity shall have enabled me to recount their stories without horror, you may expect another narrative from,

Sir, T.

Your most humble Servant,



[blocks in formation]

If a recluse moralist, who speculates in a cloister, should suppose every practice to be infamous in proportion as it is allowed to be criminal, no man would wonder; but every man who is acquainted with life, and is able to substitute the discoveries of experience for the deductions of reason, knows that he would be mistaken.

Lying is generally allowed to be less criminal than adultery; and yet it is known to render a man much more infamous and contemptible; for he who would modestly acquiesce in an imputation of adultery as a compliment, would resent that of a lie as an insult for which life only could atone. Thus are men tamely led hoodwinked by custom, the creature of their own folly; and while imaginary light flashes under the bandage which excludes the reality, they fondly believe that they behold the


Lying, however, does not incur more infamy than it deserves, though other vices incur less. I have before remarked, that there are some practices, which, though they degrade a man to the lowest class of moral characters, do yet imply some natural superiority; but lying is, on the contrary, always an implication of weakness and defect. Slander is the revenge of a coward, and dissimulation his defence; lying boasts are the stigina of impotent ambition, of obscurity without merit, and pride totally destitute of intellectual dignity: and even lies of apology imply indiscretion or rusticity, ignorance, folly, or indecorum,

But there is equal turpitude, and yet greater meanness, in those forms of speech which deceive without direct falsehood. The crime is committed with greater deliberation, as it requires more contrivance; and by the offenders the use of language is totally perverted: they conceal a meaning opposite to that which they express; their speech is a kind of riddle propounded for an evil purpose; and as they may, therefore, be properly distinguished by the name of Sphinxes, there would not perhaps be much cause for regret, if, like the first monster of the name, they should break their necks


the solution of their enigmas.

Indirect lies more effectually than others destroy that mutual confidence, which is said to be the band of society: they are more frequently repeated, because they are not prevented by the dread of detection: and he who has obtained a virtuous character is not always believed, because we know not but that he may have been persuaded by the sophistry of folly, that to deceive is not to lie, and that there is a certain manner in which truth may be violated without incurring either guilt or shame.

But lying, however practised, does, like every other vice, ultimately disappoint its own purpose: • A lying tongue is but for a moment.' Detraction, when it is discovered to be false, confers honour, and dissimulation provokes resentment; the

« ZurückWeiter »