Page images


upbraided myself for prizing so little their excellent company.

Such now is, and such for many years past has been, the tenor of my life. I could picture it out more fully by a variety of other particulars; but I must have already tired you, and I hasten to a conclusion.

It may perhaps be asked, To what purpose this so long detail? I answer, To caution others, who have not had my experience, against the errors I have committed. There is a certain delicacy of mind which is not incompatible with the highest ambi

but when that ambition receives a check in its early beginning, when that delicacy is hurt by some unexpected and sore misfortune, a person of such a character is apt to quarrel with the world, and to seek for happiness without its range. But let your readers, sir, particularly those of a warm and romantic cast, be assured, that happiness is not thus to be found. Men were born to live in society; and from society only can happiness be derived. The station of life requires activity and effort. For these was mankind formed; and those who do not contribute to the happiness of themselves and others by strenuous exertions of virtue, are unworthy of a place in the great theatre of the universe. Let not any one, therefore, in a moment of disgust, give up the ordinary cares and projects of the world, and indulge in ideas of that visionary bliss which exists only in romantic pictures and delusive representations of solitude and retirement. Let not one disappointment, nor even a series of disappointments, induce them to abandon the common road of life. 'Tis only a pettish child, when it is crossed, that is entitled to spurn from it its toy of happiness.

I remember to have read in a letter, of Shenstone's, if I mistake not, something to the following

[ocr errors]

purpose : You and I, my friend, left happiness when we deviated from the turnpike road of life. Wives, children, alliances, visits, the ordinary employments of the world, are necessary ingredients of happiness. A man with them may, from a variety of causes, be abundantly miserable ; but without them he cannot be happy. From long experience, I can bear a full testimony to the truth of this remark.— I am, &c. P.


No. 10. SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 1785.


SIR, SOMEWHAT more than thirty years ago, I retired to a family-seat in a remote part of Scotland, where I have passed my time ever since. There the management and improvement of my estate, the society of a few friends, and a good collection of books, enabled me to pass my days in a manner much to


satisfaction; and there I experienced more happiness than you, sir, accustomed to great cities, will perhaps readily believe.

Some weeks ago, a piece of important family business brought me to town. The morning after I arrived, I sent for a tailor, wishing to make a decent appearance in your city; which, by the way, I found so much changed since I had left it, that till I got into what is called the Old Town, I did not know where I was, and could not recognise the ancient dusky capital of Caledonia. As I was at no time

very attentive to dress, and as now I only wished to comply so far with the fashion of the times as not to offend those with whom I was to mingle in society, I desired my tailor to make me a plain suit of clothes, leaving the choice of the colour, &c. entirely to him. Next day, he brought me home a blue frock, a scarlet waistcoat, with gold buttons, and a pair of black silk breeches. I could not help observing, that I should have preferred a plain suit, all of a piece, to the party-coloured garment in which he had decked me. But he shut my mouth, by saying, that it was quite the fashion; that every body wore it; that he had made a suit of the same kind for Mr. one of his best customers, who informed him that at London nothing else was worn.

Being engaged to dine at the house of a gentleman high in office, I dressed myself in my new suit; and when I joined the company, which was numerous, I found that my tailor had done me justice, almost every body being precisely in the same dress; and some of the guests were of the first distinction.

After the usual compliments were over, the conversation turned upon the excellence of the present administration. Above all, the virtues and the talents of the first minister were mentioned in the warmest terms of approbation. One talked of his eloquence in public debate, and in that particular gave him the preference to all his contemporaries; another dwelt upon his wisdom and sagacity in counsel, so astonishing at his early years; a third expatiated upon


pure and unblemished character, and mentioned the happiness the country might expect from a minister who carried into office every virtue which could adorn private life. Although no politician or party-man, as a good citizen, and a well


wisher to my country, I felt a real satisfaction from
this flattering account of our present situation ; yet
I at length began to wish that the conversation would
take some other turn, and become a little more ge-
neral. There were in company men of distinguished
name in the literary world, and I longed to hear
them on some subject of literature. In this view,
though naturally shy in the company of strangers, I
endeavoured to introduce some topics of that kind:
but all my attempts proved fruitless, and the con-
versation immediately recurred to its original chan-
nel. In a word, sir, we parted as we met, resound-
ing the praises of the minister, and of the measures
of the present administration.
Next day I went to dine at the house of Lord

to whom I have the honour of being related. I found assembled a large company of ladies and gentlemen. Soon after I entered the room we were called to dinner; and at table I had the good fortune to be placed next to the beautiful and sprightly Lady - As upon the former day, so here, the conversation soon turned upon the present administration ; but, to my no small astonishment, the opinion of every person present was in every particular directly opposite to every opinion I had heard the day before. I was now told, that in the hands of a presumptuous boy (for so the minister was termed) the nation must go to ruin ;-that nothing could save us but placing at the head of affairs a man of distinguished abilities, of a bold and vigorous mind, capable of planning and of executing such measures as could alone restore the empire to its pristine glory. After canvassing the public character of the minister, they proceeded to an investigation of his private deportment, in which they did not seem disposed to allow him those virtues and good qualities which, on

the former day, I had heard so highly extolled. In this conversation the ladies boré a part, and seemed to be as warmly interested as the men.

I ventured to ask Lady -- what objection she had to Mr. Pitt? •O, I can't bear him, said she, - he does not like us; and the only mark of attention he ever paid us was imposing an odious burden upon our ruffs and aprons.' At that instant I happened to unbutton my coat, and Lady

immediately exclaimed, “ Lord, sir, are you a Pittite ? I took you for one of us.' I, though surprised at the question, answered gravely, that I was no more a Pittite than a Hittite. “Then, sir, why do you wear a red waistcoat? I am sick at the very sight of it. Why are you not in buff? I would not give a farthing for a man but in buff.'

This observation called my attention to the dress of the gentlemen at table, and I found that all of them were dressed in buff waistcoats, to which some of them, who appeared to be most zealous in their political principles, had added buff breeches. I then proceeded to examine the dress of the ladies, and found that most of them wore a fox's tail by way of decoration in their head-dress. My neighbour Lady

testified her attachment to the ex-minister by another piece of dress, which I own I found a little offensive. She wore a large muff, made of the skin of our common red fox, which, from some error, I presume, in the method of preparing it, had a perfume not the most agreeable in the world. I could not help remarking this to Lady -- who, with great good humour, admitted that my observation was just ; but added, twirling round her muff upon a beautiful well-turned arm, that were it ten times worse, she would wear it for the sake of her dear Carlo'

In short, sir, I now find that the good people of

« PreviousContinue »