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observed therefore, with some hesitation indeed, but yet with something like resolution, that it was very
The lady, raising her eyes from vacancy, or which she seemed to have fixed them, turned to see who the stranger was who had been so rash as, without the license of acquaintance, to address her; but soon turned back again, with a look of most supercilious coldness, while I distinctly heard a lady who was twirling her fan in the next arm-chair, and had observed my attempt, exclaim to her neighbour, “ How forward and ill-bred! One of the tradespeople's sons of the town, I suppose.” On which the knight's lady, after coolly scanning me again with her glass, turned her back upon me still more decidedly. This left me in a most mortifying state of humiliation at this proof of my inferiority; while, to complete my disgrace, the Honourable Mr. Fitzstephen, walking up to the chairs with a most enviable confidence, the whispers of both ladies to him, and the laugh they all gave when he returned their whisper, after directing his eyes to me, , convinced me that it was at my expense. I can myself now laugh at the feeling of shame which this affront to my aspiring spirit occasioned, but indeed it was bitter, and I could willingly have challenged Fitzstephen to a boxing match, but was restrained by a sense of his superior rank, of which, much as I hated him for it, I could not divest myself. The effect was fatal to my peace for the rest of the evening. I I felt myself disgraced and degraded, because I was not admitted where I had no right or business to be. Instead of seeking Miss Betsy again, as I was expected
to do, I looked upon her as one of the proscribed as well as myself, and (shall I confess it?) felt unwilling to confirm the notion of the squirearchy as to my inferiority by dancing with her again, and actually quitted the assembly in a paroxysm of disgust.
It is inconceivable how long the derangement of mind occasioned by this ridiculous incident lasted. I was no longer the same lad whose good spirits made him every where so welcome. Indeed I did nothing but mope in holes and corners about the house, and neglected (for I hated) the shop and brown sleeves more than ever. Even a cousin Sukey, who lived with us, and whom, in my natural days, I had used to romp with, and regard with a degree of pleasure, became hateful to me too, on account of a vulgarity which had never struck me before. Indeed I had begun to be indifferent to her ever since I had read “ Evelina," but I was now completely estranged, and could not bear her to call me Dick Danvers, as she everlastingly did. I stole every moment I could from my father's
eye in the shop, and passed hours in reading in my bedroom, which faced the street, and allowed me to add to the spleen which devoured me, not merely from its solitude, but by showing me from the window every gentleman's carriage that passed, filling me with envy of those that were in them. In this
way of passing the time I was any thing but cured, when another incident, by laying still stronger hold of my vitiated mind, made me more unhappy than ever.
The account of this I shall reserve till I hear whether you think what I have already written
is worth reading; certainly, whether it falls in with the plan of your dreams for the improvement of the world. Adieu, then, till I receive your
verdict. Meantime I am proud to sign myself your friend,
I beg to say I highly approve of this communication from my old friend, and trust that it may be continued. The result cannot but be favourable to a knowledge of themselves, and do good to all mistaken young men.
“ Choked with ambition of the meaner sort."
SHAKSPEARE: 1 Hen. VI.
PERCEIVING that my last Number has not been displeasing to many of my readers, nay, has by some of them been highly approved, as conducing to an improvement of mind, particularly among the young, I proceed with my friend Danvers’ narrative, as he gave it in another letter, as follows.
*** Coll., Oxon. My dear Somnolent,
As you have so encouraged me, I will proceed with my story, though it will require not a little firmness to confess all the silly weakness which disgraced the earlier part of my life. .
I who, in my natural days of good spirits, and ignorance of the difference of ranks, had never cared what part of the house I was in, when at home, and thought the shop an amusing place, where I used to quiz the customers, had now come to loathe it. I could hardly tell why, and did not like to inquire. But it was too true that, after the assembly adventure, I never condescended to sit any where but in a room up stairs, dignified with the name of the “dining-room.”
As I have observed, my professional destination
(though my father inclined to trade) was not yet positively fixed, and my love of reading was so much indulged by my good parent, that I was allowed this sort of retreat, from which I now scarcely ever stirred. Here, though sometimes occupied with Plutarch, I more frequently watched from the window the gentlemen's carriages as they went by, sadly envying, I fear, their possessors, and thinking how well I should become one of them myself. This curiosity of mine produced my second great mortification, far greater, I fear, than the first. For, on one of those occasions, I was roused by the clattering of wheels and horses, and, running as usual to the window, saw the General of the district (it was during the war), attended by his staff and orderlies, proceeding to a review in what I thought nothing less than glory. This, indeed, I perhaps might have borne, but there followed in his wake his handsome post-chariot, which from some momentary embarrassment stopped exactly opposite my window, and I beheld the General's wife and daughter, arrayed for the review in such fashionable morning attire, and the daughter at least so lovely as well as so superior, that I felt (and was almost content to feel) a worm to be trodden under foot by such a sweet and silken sylph. Moreover, one of the aides-decamp, a man, as I thought, of inimitable grace, and inimitably beplumed, on a charger fit for Mars, was all the time the carriage stopped saying pretty things through the window to this elegant creature. She seemed to accept them, too, with the most smiling good-will, so that I thought him the most fortunate, superior, and happy