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warm as theirs, and to treat them with the same marks of hospitality which I received.
But, sir, I now find that what I expected would have been one of the blessings of my situation has become one of its greatest misfortunes. My neighbours, having once found the way to my house, are now scarce ever out of it. When they are idle in the mornings, which is almost always the case, they direct their ride or their walk my way,
and friendly visit to their neighbour Dalton. I am by this means interrupted in my attention to my farm, and have not time left to give the necessary orders. It is vain to think of making use of my library: when I sit down to read, I am disturbed before I get the length of a few pages, and am obliged to break off in the midst of an interesting story, or an instructive piece of reasoning. I cannot deny myself, or order my servants to tell I am not at home. This is one of your privileges in town: but in the country, if one's horses are in the stable, or one's chaise in the coach-house, one is of necessity bound to receive all intruders. In this manner are my mornings constantly lost, and I am not allowed to have a single half hour to myself. This, however, is one of the slightest of my
distresses; the morning intrusions are nothing to the more formal visitations of the afternoons. Hardly a day passes without my being obliged to have a great dinner for the reception of my neighbours; and when they are not with me, good neighbourhood, I am told, requires I should be with them, and give them my visitations in return. Even of the very best company, where the
very best conversation takes place, a man is apt, at least I have felt this in myself, sometimes to tire, and to wish for the indulgence of that listlessness, that sort of dreaming indolence, which you, sir, are so well acquainted with, and which can
only be had alone. But to be constantly exposed to be in a crowd, a crowd selected from no other circumstance than from their residing within ten miles of you ;-the keeper of an inn is not, in point of company, in a worse situation.
But the merely being obliged to spend my mornings in the
I have described, and my afternoons in a constant crowd of promiscuous company, is not the only evil I have to complain of. The manner in which I am obliged to spend it in that company is still more disagreeable. Hospitality in this part of the country does not consist solely in keeping an open house, and receiving all your neighbours for many miles round; but one must fill them drunk, and get drunk with them one's self. Having no fund of conversation with which they can entertain their landlord or each other, they are obliged to have recourse to their glass to make up
other want, and deficiency of matter is supplied by repeated bumpers. It is a favourite maxim here, that conversation spoils good company: and this maxim is most invariably followed in practice, unless noise and vociferation, after the swallowing of more than one bottle, can be called conversation. Without injustice it may be said of most of my neighbours, that when sober they are silent, and when not sober, it were better they remained silent. I have frequently made efforts to check the riot and intemperance
of my guests, and to withhold the bottle from them, when I have thought they have drank fully as much as was good for them ; but I have always found myself unable to do it. I should hate to be called a stingy fellow; and I know, if I were to establish sobriety, I should be called stingy. When I cannot keep my guest sober, I sometimes try to escape the glass, and to be sober myself: but, when I do this, I find some of them look upon me with an evil eye,
as if I meant to be a spy upon the unguarded moments of my guests—others laugh at me for giving myself airs, as they call it; and I cannot bear to be laughed at.
But riot and drunkenness are not all the ills I have to submit to. After we have drank oceans of liquor, cards are commonly proposed; and gambling and drunkenness, though very unfit companions, are joined together. We do not play for a very deep stake, but still we play for something considerable. I do not like to lose, and yet it is equally disagreeable to win. I am commonly pretty lucky; and, in a run of luck, often suffer a good deal in gaining their guineas from people who I know well cannot afford to lose them. It is a mortifying spectacle, to see those who are frequently together, and seem to be the greatest friends when the bottle is going round, after they have drunk as much as they can hold, sit down to pilfer one another of sums which they cannot easily pay, and which, in their sober moments, they will feel the distress of paying.
Sometimes, to avoid play, I counterfeit sleepiness, and escape to bed. But this does not break up the party;they are only left more at their liberty; and the morning is far advanced before matters are brought to a conclusion. The evil consequences of this to my domestic economy are obvious. My family is disturbed with noise during the whole night, and my servants are prevented from going to bed. My house is thus rendered a scene of confusion, and every household concern is neglected. I wish to get up betimes in the morning, and to have breakfast at an early hour: but this cannot be accomplished; for when I ring for John to bring up the tea-kettle, I am told he has not been above an hour in bed.
The corruption of the higher orders of the family I find is spreading among the lower. Going into
the servants' hall one night at a late hour, when I had escaped from the gambling party in the drawing-room, I found the whole servants engaged at brag. I could hardly be angry at them; they were only doing on a smaller scale what was a-doing on a larger above stairs; and being forced to sit up all night, they were obliged to fill up their time with something
I have thus, sir, laid before you some of the distresses of my situation, all of which seem to proceed from my having a good neighbourhood. I have frequently resolved to exert myself manfully to put a stop to these grievances, to quarrel with all my neighbours, and to tell them, that for the future Í am to lock up my doors, and neither to give nor receive their visits. But my resolution has hitherto failed me.
One of the comforts I expected to have received from living in the country was, that I might live undisturbed; that the easiness of my temper should not be broke in upon; and that I should have no occasion for vigorous exertion. Desirous of being on a good footing with every body, and unable to bear either the censure or the derision of others, I have not been able, nor do I believe I ever shall be able, to summon up as much resolution as to expose myself to the scorn or to the hatred of those around me.
In this situation it has occurred to me, that if you think proper to publish this letter, it may possibly, without my taking any stronger measure, have a good effect : it may perhaps afford a hint to my neighbours, which
relieve me in some measure, without any further stir of mine. But if this shall not happen, and if my grievances shall still continue, I find" I shall be obliged, however unwillingly, to give up my habitation in the country, and to take a house in town, in order that I may sometimes enjoy
the pleasures of solitude and retirement, and escape the evils of a good neighbourhood. I am, &c.
GEORGE DALTON. s.
No. 44. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 3, 1785.
TO THE LOUNGER.
SIR, I have observed, that the greatest part of your correspondents have given a detail of grievances and complaints. In disclosing their misfortunes, they have no doubt conveyed to your readers some useful lessons for avoiding those errors of conduct which in general have been the cause of them: but the picture of happiness may
often prove as instructive as that of calamity or distress; and, in that view, while I gratify my own feelings by the following narrative, I Hatter myself it may not be unprofitable to others.
My father, sir, inherited an estate in one of the northern counties of this kingdom, a property once considerable, and which had been in his family for some generations; but which, during his life and that of my grandfather, had, from a certain easiness of temper, bordering upon improvidence, and their humane endeavours to assist their needy relations, been so greatly reduced, that at my father's death it was necessary to bring the estate to sale for the payment of his debts. A trifling reversion remained for the support of my mother, myself, and an only sister; and with this slender provision we betook ourselves to