Page images
PDF
EPUB

companions as had accidentally known the town longer, obliged him to dissemble his remaining terrours.

His desire of liberty made him now willing to spare me the trouble of observing his motions; but knowing how much his ignorance exposed him to mischief, I thought it cruel to abandon him to the fortune of the town. We went together every day to a coffee-house, where he met wits, heirs, and fops, airy, ignorant, and thoughtless as himself, with whom he had become acquainted at cardtables, and whom he considered as the only beings to be envied or admired. What were their topicks of conversation, I could never discover; for, so much was their vivacity repressed by my intrusive seriousness, that they seldom proceeded beyond the exchange of nods and shrugs, an arch grin, or a broken hint, except when they could retire, while I was looking on

on the papers, to a corner of the room, where they seemed to disburden their imaginations, and commonly vented the superfluity of their sprightliness in a peal of laughter. When they had tittered themselves into negligence, I could sometimes overhear a few syllables, such as,-solemn rascal;—academical airs ;-smoke the tutor;-company for gentlemen!—and other broken phrases, by which I did not suffer my quiet to be disturbed, for they never proceeded to avowed indignities, but contented themselves to murmur in secret, and, whenever I turned my eye upon them, shrunk into stillness.

He was, however, desirous of withdrawing from the subjection which he could not venture to break, and made a secret appointment to assist his companions in the persecution of a play. His footman privately procured him a catcall, on which he practised in a back-garret for two hours in the afternoon. At the proper time a chair was called; he pretended an engagement at lady Flutter's, and hastened to the place where his critical associates had assembled. They hurried away to the theatre, full of malignity and denunciations against a man whose name

not understand; for they were resolved to judge for themselves, and would not suffer the town to be imposed upon by scribblers. In the pit, they exerted themselves with great spirit and vivacity; called out for the tunes of obscene songs, talked loudly at intervals of Shakspeare and Jonson, played on their catcalls a short prelude of terrour, clamoured vehemently for the prologue, and clapped with great dexterity at the first entrance of the players.

Two scenes they heard without attempting interruption; but, being no longer able to restrain their impatience, they then began to exert themselves in groans and hisses, and plied their catcalls with incessant diligence; so that they were soon considered by the audience as disturbers of the house, and some who sat near them, either provoked at the obstruction of their entertainment, or desirous to preserve the authour from the mortification of seeing his hopes destroyed by children, snatched away their instruments of criticism, and, by the seasonable vibration of a stick, subdued them instantaneously to decency and silence.

To exhilarate themselves after this vexatious defeat, they posted to a tavern, where they recovered their alacrity, and, after two hours of obstreperous jollity, burst out big with enterprize, and panting for some occasion to signalize their prowess. They proceeded vigorously through two streets, and with very little opposition dispersed a rabble of drunkards less daring than themselves, then rolled two watchmen in the kennel, and broke the windows of a tavern in which the fugitives took shelter. At last it was determined to march up to a row of chairs, and demolish them for standing on the pavement; the chairmen formed a line of battle, and blows were exchanged for a time with equal courage on both sides. At last the assailants were overpowered, and the chairmen, when they knew their captives, brought them home by force.

The young gentleman, next morning, hung his head.

perhaps he might have been checked in his first follies, had not his mother, partly in pity of his dejection, and partly in approbation of his spirit, relieved him from his perplexity by paying the damages privately, and discouraging all animadversion and reproof.

This indulgence could not wholly preserve him from the remembrance of his disgrace, nor at once restore his confidence and elation. He was for three days silent, modest, and compliant, and thought himself neither too wise for instruction, nor too manly for restraint. But his levity overcame this salutary sorrow; he began to talk with his former raptures of masquerades, taverns, and frolicks; blustered when his wig was not combed with exactness; and threatened destruction to a tailor who had mistaken his directions about the pocket.

I knew that he was now rising again above controul, and that his inflation of spirits would burst out into some mischievous absurdity. I therefore watched him with great attention; but one evening, having attended his mother at a visit, he withdrew himself, unsuspected, while the company was engaged at cards. His vivacity and officiousness were soon missed, and his return impatiently expected; supper was delayed, and conversation suspended; every coach that rattled through the street was expected to bring him, and every servant that entered the room was examined concerning his departure. At last the lady returned home, and was with great difficulty preserved from fits by spirits and cordials. The family was dispatched a thousand ways without success, and the house was filled with distraction, till, as we were deliberating what further measures to take, he returned from a petty gaming-table, with his coat torn and his head broken; without his sword, snuff-box, sleeve-buttons, and watch.

Of this loss or robbery, he gave little account; but, instead of sinking into his former shame, endeavoured to C:pport himself by surliness and asperity. “He was not

use were birth and fortune if they would not admit some sallies and expences ?” His mamma was so much provoked by the cost of this prank, that she would neither palliate nor conceal it; and his father, after some threats of rustication which his fondness would not suffer him to execute, reduced the allowance of his pocket, that he might not be tempted by plenty to profusion. This method would have succeeded in a place where there are no panders to folly and extravagance, but was now likely to have produced pernicious consequences; for we have discovered a treaty with a broker, whose daughter he seems disposed to marry, on condition that he shall be supplied with present money, for which he is to repay thrice the value at the death of his father.

There was now no time to be lost. A domestick consultation was immediately held, and he was doomed to pass two years in the country; but his mother, touched with his tears, declared, that she thought him too much of a man to be any longer confined to his book, and he therefore begins his travels to-morrow under a French governor.

I am, &c.

EUMATHES.

No 196. SATURDAY, February 1, 1752.

Multa ferunt anni venientes commoda secum,
Multa recedentes udimunt.--Hor.
The blessings flowing in with life's full tide,
Down with our ebb of life decreasing glide.- FRANCIS.

BAXTER, in the narrative of his own life, has enumerated several opinions, which, though he thought them evident and incontestable at his first entrance into the world, time and experience disposed him to change.

Whoever reviews the state of his own mind from the dawn of manhood to its decline, and considers what he pursued or dreaded, slighted or esteemed, at different

changes of sentiment peculiar to any station or character. Every man, however careless and inattentive, has conviction forced upon him; the lectures of time obtrude themselves upon the most unwilling or dissipated auditor; and, by comparing our past with our present thoughts, we perceive that we have changed our minds, though perhaps we cannot discover when the alteration happened, or by what causes it was produced.

This revolution of sentiments occasions a perpetual contest between the old and young. They who imagine themselves entitled to veneration by the prerogative of longer life, are inclined to treat the notions of those whose conduct they superintend with superciliousness and contempt, for want of considering that the future and the past have different appearances; that the disproportion will always be great between expectation and enjoyment, between new possession and satiety; that the truth of many maxims of age gives too little pleasure to be allowed till it is felt; and that the miseries of life would be increased beyond all human power of endurance, if we were to enter the world with the same opinions as we

carry from it.

We naturally indulge those ideas that please us. Hope will predominate in every mind, till it has been suppressed by frequent disappointments. The youth has not yet discovered how

many evils are continually hovering about us, and when he is set free from the shackles of discipline, looks abroad into the world with rapture; he sees an elysian region open before him, so variegated with beauty, and so stored with pleasure, that his care is rather to accumulate good, than to shun evil ; he stands distracted by different forms of delight, and has no other doubt, than which path to follow of those which all lead equally to the bowers of happiness.

He who has seen only the superficies of life believes every thing to be what it appears, and rarely suspects *at external splendour conceals any latent sorrow or

« PreviousContinue »