Зображення сторінки

1 of a friend upon me. How the reading of me. But out of the black depths, could I be it casually in a book, as where Adams takes heard, I would cry out to all those who have his whiff in the chimney-corner of some but set a foot in the perilous flood. Could inn in Joseph Andrews, or Piscator in the the youth, to whom the flavour of his first Complete Angler breaks his fast upon a wine is delicious as the opening scenes of morning pipe in that delicate room Piscator- life or the entering upon some newly disibus Sacrum, has in a moment broken down covered paradise, look into my desolation, the resistance of weeks. How a pipe was and be made to understand what a dreary ever in my midnight path before me, till the thing it is when a man shall feel himself vision forced me to realise it, - how then going down a precipice with open eyes its ascending vapours curled, its fragrance and a passive will,—to see his destruction lulled, and the thousand delicious minister and have no power to stop it, and yet to feel ings conversant about it, employing every it all the way emanating from himself; to faculty, extracted the sense of pain. How perceive all goodness emptied out of him, from illuminating it came to darken, from a and yet not to be able to forget a time when quick solace it turned to a negative relief, it was otherwise ; to bear about the piteous thence to a restlessness and dissatisfaction, spectacle of his own self-ruins :—could he thence to a positive misery. How, even now, see my fevered eye, feverish with last night's when the whole secret stands confessed in drinking, and feverishly looking for this all its dreadful truth before me, I feel myself night's repetition of the folly ; could he feel linked to it beyond the power of revocation. the body of the death out of which I cry Bone of my bone

hourly with feebler and feebler outcry to be Persons not accustomed to examine the delivered,—it were enough to make him dash motives of their actions, to reckon up the the sparkling beverage to the earth in all countless nails that rivet the chains of habit, the pride of its mantling temptation ; to or perhaps being bound by none so obdurate make him clasp his teeth, as those I have confessed to, may recoil from this as from an overcharged picture. But what short of such a bondage is it, which in spite of protesting friends, a weeping wife, Yea, but (methinks I hear somebody and a reprobating world, chains down many object) if sobriety be that fine thing you a poor fellow, of no original indisposition to would have us to understand, if the comforts goodness, to his pipe and his pot ?

of a cool brain are to be preferred to that I have seen a print after Correggio, in state of heated excitement which you describe which three female figures are ministering and deplore, what hinders in your instance to a man who sits fast bound at the root of that you do not return to those habits from a tree. Sensuality is soothing him, Evil which you would induce others never to Habit is nailing him to a branch, and Repug- swerve? if the blessing be worth preserving, nance at the same instant of time is applying is it not worth recovering? a snake to his side. In his face is feeble Recovering !-O if a wish could transport delight, the recollection of past rather than me back to those days of youth, when a perception of present pleasures, languid draught from the next clear spring could enjoyment of evil with utter imbecility to slake any heats which summer suns and good, a Sybaritic effeminacy, a submission to youthful exercise had power to stir up in the bondage, the springs of the will gone down blood, how gladly would I return to thee, like a broken clock, the sin and the suffering pure element, the drink of children, and of co-instantaneous, or the latter forerunning child-like holy hermit! In my dreams I can the former, remorse preceding action-all sometimes fancy thy cool refreshment purling this represented in one point of time.—When over my burning tongue. But my waking I saw this, I admired the wonderful skill of stomach rejects it. That which refreshes the painter. But when I went away, I wept, innocence only makes me sick and faint. because I thought of my own condition. But is there no middle way betwixt total

Of that there is no hope that it should abstinence and the excess which kills you ? ever change. The waters have gone over -For your sake, reader, and that you may

and not undo 'em
To suffer WET DAMNATION to run thro' em,

never attain to my experience, with pain a song to welcome the new-born day. Now, I must utter the dreadful truth, that there the first feeling which besets me, after is none, none that I can find. In my stage stretching out the hours of recumbence to of habit (I speak not of habits less confirmed their last possible extent, is a forecast of the --for some of them I believe the advice to wearisome day that lies before me, with a be most prudential) in the stage which I have secret wish that I could have lain on still, reached, to stop short of that measure which or never awaked. is sufficient to draw on torpor and sleep, the Life itself, my waking life, has much of benumbing apoplectic sleep of the drunkard, the confusion, the trouble, and obscure peris to have taken none at all. The pain of plexity, of an ill dream. In the day time the self-denial is all one. And what that is, I stumble upon

dark mountains. I had rather the reader should believe on Business, which, though never very parmy credit, than know from his own trial. ticularly adapted to my nature, yet as someHe will come to know it, whenever he shall thing of necessity to be gone through, and arrive in that state, in which, paradoxical as therefore best undertaken with cheerfulness, it may appear, reason shall only visit him I used to enter upon with some degree of through intoxication : for it is a fearful truth, alacrity, now wearies, affrights, perplexes that the intellectual faculties by repeated me. I fancy all sorts of discouragements, acts of intemperance may be driven from and am ready to give up an occupation which their orderly sphere of action, their clear gives me bread, from a harassing conceit of daylight ministeries, until they shall be incapacity. The slightest commission given brought at last to depend, for the faint me by a friend, or any small duty which manifestation of their departing energies, I have to perform for myself, as giving orders upon the returning periods of the fatal to a tradesman, &c. haunts me as a labour madness to which they owe their devasta- impossible to be got through. So much the tion. The drinking man is never less himself springs of action are broken. than during his sober intervals. Evil is so The same cowardice attends me in all my far his good.*

intercourse with mankind. I dare not proBehold me then, in the robust period of mise that a friend's honour, or his cause, life, reduced to imbecility and decay. Hear would be safe in my keeping, if I were put me count my gains, and the profits which to the expense of any manly resolution in I have derived from the midnight cup. defending it. So much the springs of moral

Twelve years ago, I was possessed of a action are deadened within me. healthy frame of mind and body. I was My favourite occupations in times past never strong, but I think my constitution now cease to entertain. I can do nothing (for a weak one) was as happily exempt readily. Application for ever so short a time from the tendency to any malady as it was kills me. This poor abstract of my condition possible to be. I scarce knew what it was was penned at long intervals, with scarcely to ail anything. Now, except when I am any attempt at connexion of thought, which losing myself in a sea of drink, I am never is now difficult to me. free from those uneasy sensations in head The noble passages which formerly deand stomach, which are so much worse to lighted me in history or poetic fiction, now bear than any definite pains or aches. only draw a few weak tears, allied to dotage.

At that time I was seldom in bed after My broken and dispirited nature seems to six in the morning, summer and winter. sink before anything great and admirable. I awoke refreshed, and seldom without some I perpetually catch myself in tears, for any merry thoughts in my head, or some piece of cause, or none. It is inexpressible how much

this infirmity adds to a sense of shame, and poor M painted his last picture, with a a general feeling of deterioration. pencil in one trembling hand, and a glass of brandy and water in the other, his fingers owed the comparative

These are some of the instances, concerning steadiness with which they were enabled to go through which I can say with truth, that it was not their task in an imperfect manner, to a temporary firm- always so with me. ness derived from a repetition of practices, the general effect of which had shaken both them and him so

Shall I lift up the veil of my weakness terribly.

any further 1-or is this disclosure sufficient?

* When

I am a poor nameless egotist, who have no mend them to the reader's attention, if he vanity to consult by these Confessions. I find his own case any way touched. I have know not whether I shall be laughed at, or told him what I am come to. Let him stop heard seriously. Such as they are, I com- in time.


1.—THAT A BULLY IS ALWAYS A COWARD. eminence :-“Bully Dawson kicked by half

This axiom contains a principle of com- the town, and half the town kicked by pensation, which disposes us to admit the Bully Dawson.” This was true distributive truth of it. But there is no safe trusting to justice. dictionaries and definitions. We should more willingly fall in with this popular language, if we did not find brutality some- II.—THAT ILL-GOTTEN GAIN NEVER PROSPERS. times awkwardly coupled with valour in the The weakest part of mankind have this same vocabulary. The comic writers, with saying commonest in their mouth. It is the their poetical justice, have contributed not a trite consolation administered to the easy little to mislead us upon this point. To see dupe, when he has been tricked out of his a hectoring fellow exposed and beaten upon money or estate, that the acquisition of it the stage, has something in it wonderfully will do the owner no good. But the rogues diverting. Some people's share of animal of this world—the prudenter part of them, spirits is notoriously low and defective. It at least,-know better; and if the obserhas not strength to raise a vapour, or furnish vation had been as true as it is old, would out the wind of a tolerable bluster. These not have failed by this time to have love to be told that huffing is no part of discovered it. They have pretty sharp valour. The truest courage with them is distinctions of the fluctuating and the that which is the least noisy and obtrusive. permanent. “Lightly come, lightly go,” is But confront one of these silent heroes with a proverb, which they can very well afford the swaggerer of real life, and his confidence to leave, when they leave little else, to the in the theory quickly vanishes. Pretensions losers. They do not always find manors, got do not uniformly bespeak non-performance. by rapine or chicanery, insensibly to melt A modest, inoffensive deportment does not away, as the poets will have it; or that all necessarily imply valour ; neither does the gold glides, like thawing snow, from the absence of it justify us in denying that thief's hand that grasps it. Church land, quality. Hickman wanted modesty-we do alienated to lay uses, was formerly denounced not mean him of Clarissa—but who ever to have this slippery quality. But some doubted his courage ? Even the poets- portions of it somehow always stuck so fast, upon whom this equitable distribution of that the denunciators have been fain to qualities should be most binding-have postpone the prophecy of refundment to a thought it agreeable to nature to depart late posterity. from the rule upon occasion. Harapha, in the “ Agonistes,” is indeed a bully upon the received notions. Milton has made him at once a blusterer, a giant, and a dastard. But The severest exaction surely ever invented Almanzor, in Dryden, talks of driving armies upon the self-denial of poor human nature ! singly before him—and does it. Tom Brown This is to expect a gentleman to give a treat had a shrewder insight into this kind of without partaking of it; to sit esurient at character than either of his predecessors. his own table, and commend the flavour of He divides the palm more equably, and his venison upon the absurd strength of his allows his hero a sort of dimidiate pre- never touching it himself. On the contrary,



we love to see a wag taste his own joke to from the pews lined with satin. It is twice his party; to watch a quirk or a merry sitting upon velvet to a foolish squire to be conceit Alickering upon the lips some seconds told, that he—and not perverse nature, as the before the tongue is delivered of it. If it be homilies would make us imagine, is the true good, fresh, and racy—begotten of the cause of all the irregularities in his parish. occasion ; if he that utters it never thought This is striking at the root of free-will indeed, it before, he is naturally the first to be and denying the originality of sin in any tickled with it; and any suppression of such sense. But men are not such implicit sheep complacence we hold to be churlish and as this comes to. If the abstinence from evil insulting. What does it seem to imply but on the part of the upper classes is to derive that your company is weak or foolish enough itself from no higher principle than the to be moved by an image or a fancy, that apprehension of setting ill patterns to the shall stir you not at all, or but faintly ? lower, we beg leave to discharge them from This is exactly the humour of the fine all squeamishness on that score : they may gentleman in Mandeville, who, while he even take their fill of pleasures, where they dazzles his guests with the display of some can find them. The Genius of Poverty, costly toy, affects himself to “see nothing hampered and straitened as it is, is not so considerable in it."

barren of invention, but it can trade upon the staple of its own vice, without drawing

upon their capital. The poor are not quite IV.—THAT SUCH A ONE SHOWS HIS BREEDING. such servile imitators as they take them for.

-THAT IT IS EASY TO PERCEIVE HE IS Some of them are very clever artists in their NO GENTLEMAN.

way. Here and there we find an original. A SPEECH from the poorest sort of people, who taught the poor to steal, to pilfer ? which always indicates that the party They did not go to the great for schoolmasvituperated is a gentleman. The very fact ters in these faculties surely. It is well if in which they deny is that which galls and some vices they allow us to be—no copyists. exasperates them to use this language. The In no other sense is it true that the poor forbearance with which it is usually received copy them, than as servants may be said to is a proof what interpretation the by-stander take after their masters and mistresses, when sets upon it. Of a kin to this, and still less they succeed to their reversionary cold meats. politic, are the phrases with which, in their If the master, from indisposition or some street rhetoric, they ply one another more other cause, neglect his food, the servant grossly ;-He is a poor creature.He has not dines notwithstanding. a rag to cover - &c.; though this last, we O, but (some will say) the force of confess, is more frequently applied by females example is great." We knew a lady who to females. They do not perceive that the was so scrupulous on this head, that she satire glances upon themselves. A poor would put up with the calls of the most man, of all things in the world, should not impertinent visitor, rather than let her serupbraid an antagonist with poverty. Are vant say she was not at home, for fear of there no other topics—as, to tell him his teaching her maid to tell an untruth ; and father was hanged—his sister, &c. this in the very face of the fact, which she without exposing a secret which should be knew well enough, that the wench was one kept snug between them; and doing an of the greatest liars upon the earth without affront to the order to which they have the teaching ; so much so, that her mistress honour equally to belong? All this while possibly never heard two words of consecuthey do not see how the wealthier man tive truth from her in her life. But nature stands by and laughs in his sleeve at both. must go for nothing: example must be every

thing. This liar in grain, who never opened

her mouth without a lie, must be guarded V.--THAT THE POOR COPY

against a remote inference, which she (pretty

casuist !) might possibly draw from a form A SMOOTH text to the letter; and, preached of words - - literally false, but essentially from the pulpit, is sure of a docile audience deceiving no one that under some circum



stances a fib might not be so exceedingly true only in a wet season. This, and abundsinful—a fiction, too, not at all in her own ance of similar sage saws assuming to inculway, or one that she could be suspected of cate content, we verily believe to have been adopting, for few servant-wenches care to be the invention of some cunning borrower, who denied to visitors.

had designs upon the purse of his wealthier This word example reminds us of another neighbour, which he could only hope to carry fine word which is in use upon these occa- by force of these verbal jugglings. Translate sions—encouragement. “People in our sphere any one of these sayings out of the artful must not be thought to give encouragement metonymy which envelopes it, and the trick to such proceedings.” To such a frantic is apparent. Goodly legs and shoulders of height is this principle capable of being mutton, exhilarating cordials, books, pictures, carried, that we have known individuals who the opportunities of seeing foreign countries, have thought it within the scope of their independence, heart's ease, a man's own time influence to sanction despair, and give éclat to himself, are not muck-however we may to-suicide. A domestic in the family of a be pleased to scandalise with that appellacounty member lately deceased, from love, or tion the faithful metal that provides them some unknown cause, cut his throat, but not for us. successfully. The poor fellow was otherwise much loved and respected ; and great interest

VII.—OF TWO DISPUTANTS THE WARMEST IS was used in his behalf, upon his recovery,

GENERALLY IN THE WRONG. that he might be permitted to retain his place ; his word being first pledged, not

Our experience would lead us to quite an without some substantial sponsors to promise opposite conclusion. Temper, indeed, is no for him, that the like should never happen test of truth ; but warmth and earnestness again. His master was inclinable to keep are a proof at least of a man's own conviction him, but his mistress thought otherwise ; of the rectitude of that which he maintains. and John in the end was dismissed, her lady-Coolness is as often the result of an unprinship declaring that she could not think of cipled indifference to truth or falsehood, as encouraging any such doings in the county." of a sober confidence in a man's own side in

a dispute. Nothing is more insulting some

times than the appearance of this philosoVI.—THAT ENOUGH IS AS GOOD AS A FEAST.

phic temper. There is little Titubus, the Not a man, woman, or child, in ten miles stammering law-stationer in Lincoln’s-innround Guildhall, who really believes this we have seldom known this shrewd little saying. The inventor of it did not believe it fellow engaged in an argument where we himself. It was made in revenge by some were not convinced he had the best of it, if body, who was disappointed of a regale. It his tongue would but fairly have seconded is a vile cold-scrag-of-mutton sophism ; a lie him. When he has been spluttering excelpalmed upon the palate, which knows better lent broken sense for an hour together, things. If nothing else could be said for a writhing and labouring to be delivered of feast, this is sufficient, that from the super- the point of dispute—the very gist of the flux there is usually something left for the controversy knocking at his teeth, which like next day. Morally interpreted, it belongs to some obstinate iron-grating still obstructed a class of proverbs which have a tendency to its deliverance—his puny frame convulsed, make us undervalue money. Of this cast and face reddening all over at an unfairness are those notable observations, that money is in the logic which he wanted articulation to not health ; riches cannot purchase every- expose, it has moved our gall to see a smooth thing : the metaphor which makes gold to portly fellow of an adversary, that cared be mere muck, with the morality which not a button for the merits of the question, traces fine clothing to the sheep's back, and by merely laying his hand upon the head of denounces pearl as the unhandsome excre- the stationer, and desiring him to be calm tion of an oyster. Hence, too, the phrase (your tall disputants have always the advanwhich imputes dirt to acres—a sophistry so tage), with a provoking sneer carry the barefaced, that even the literal sense of it is argument clean from him in the opinion of

« НазадПродовжити »