Page images

sion upon seeing the gentleman and his lady en: new question relative to my son. In this manter; nor was their surprise, at finding such com- ner we spent the forenoon, till the bell summonpany and good cheer, less than ours.-" Gen- ed us to dinner, where we found the manager tlemen,” cried the real master of the house to of the strolling company that I mentioned beme and my companion, “ my wife and I are fore, who was come to dispose of tickets for the your most humble servants; but I protest this Fair Penitent, which was to be acted that evenis so unexpected a favour, that we almost sink ing; the part of Horatio by a young gentleman under the obligation.” However unexpected who had never appeared on any stage. He seemour company might be to them, theirs, I am ed to be very warm in the praise of the new persure, was still more so to us, and I was struck former, and averred, that he never saw any one dumb with the apprehensions of my own ab- who bid so fair for excellence. Acting, he obsurdity ; when, whom should I next see enter served, was not learned in a day. “ But this the room but my dear Miss Arabella Wilmot, gentleman," continued he,“ seems born to tread who was formerly designed to be married to my the stage. His voice, his figure, and attitudes, son George ; but whose match was broken off, are all admirable. We caught him up accidentas already related. As soon as she saw me, she ally, in our journey down." This account, in flew to my arms with the utmost joy. “My some measure, excited our curiosity ; and, at dear sir," cried she, “ to what happy accident the entreaty of the ladies, I was prevailed upon is it that we owe so unexpected a visit? I am to accompany them to the play-house, which sure my uncle and aunt will be in raptures was no other than a barn. As the company with when they find they have got the good Doctor which I went was incontestably the chief of the Primrose for their guest.” Upon hearing my place, we were received with the greatest rename, the old gentleman and lady very politely spect, and placed in the front seat of the theastepped up, and welcomed me with most cordial tre; where we sat for some time with no small hospitality. Nor could they forbear smiling on impatience to see Horatio make his appearance. being informed of the nature of iny present vi- The new performer advanced at last : and let sit ; but the unfortunate butler, whom they at parents think of my sensations by their own, first seemed disposed to turn away, was, at my when I found it was my unfortunate son! He intercession, forgiven.

was going to begin; when, turning his eyes upon Mr Arnold and his lady, to whom the house the audience, he perceived Miss Wilmot and me, belonged, now insisted upon having the pleasure and stood at once speechless and immoveable. of my stay for some days; and as their niece, The actors behind the scenes, who ascribed my charming pupil, whose mind, in some mea- this pause to his natural timidity, attempted to sure, had been formed under my own instruc- encourage him; but instead of going on, he burst tions, joined in their intreaties, I complied. into a flood of tears, and retired off the stage. That night I was shewn to a magnificent cham- I don't know what were my feelings on this ocber, and the next morning, early, Miss Wilmot casion ; for they succeeded with too much radesired to walk with me in the garden, which pidity for description ; but I was soon awaked was decorated in the modern manner. After from this disagreeable reverie by Miss Wilmot ; some time spent in pointing out the beauties of who, pale and with a trembling voice, desired the place, she inquired, with seeming uncon- me to conduct her back to her uncle's. When cern, when last I had heard from my son George. got home, Mr Arnold, who was as yet a stranger “ Alas! madam,” cried I," he has now been to our extraordinary behaviour, being informed near three years absent, without ever writing to that the new performer was my son, sent his his friends or me. Where he is, I know not; coach, and an invitation for him; and, as he perhaps I shall never see him or happiness more. persisted in his refusal to appear again upon the No, my dear madam, we shall never more see stage, the players put another in his place, and such pleasing hours as were once spent by our we soon had him with us. Mr Arnold gave him fire-side at Wakefield. My little family are now the kindest reception, and I received him with dispersing very fast, and poverty has brought my usual transport, for I could never counternot only want, but infamy upon us.” The good- feit a false resentment. Miss Wilmot's reception natured girl let fall a tear at this account; but, was mixed with seeming neglect, and yet I could as I saw her possessed of too much sensibility, perceive she acted a studied part. The tumult I forbore a more minute detail of our sufferings. in her mind seemed not yet abated ; she said It was, however, some consolation to me to find twenty giddy things that looked like joy, and that time had made no alteration in her affec- then laughed aloud at her own want of meaning. tions, and that she had rejected several offers At intervals she would take a sly peep at the that had been made her since our leaving her glass, as if happy in the consciousness of irrepart of the country. She led me round all the sistible beauty; and often would ask questions, extensive improvements of the place, pointing to without giving any manner of attention to the the several walks and arbours, and at the same answers. time catching from every object a hint for some

little. Have you been bred apprentice to the

business?'-No.-" Then you wont do for a CHAP. XX.

school. Can you dress the boys' hair?'-No.

- Then you won't do for a school. Have you The History of a Philosophic Vagabond, pursu- had the small-pox?'-No.-" Then you wont ing Novelty, but losing Content. do for a school. Can you lie three in a bed ?

-No.- Then you will never do for a school. After we had supped, Mrs Arnold politely Have you got a good stomach ?'-Yes.—' Then offered to send a couple of her footmen for my you will by no means do for a school. No, sir; son's baggage, which he at first seemed to de- if you are for a genteel, easy profession, bind cline; but upon her pressing the request, he was yourself seven years as an apprentice to turn a obliged to inform her, that a stick and a wallet cutler's wheel ; but avoid a school by any means. were all the moveable things upon this earth Yet come, continued he, ' I see you are a lad which he could boast of.“ Why, ay, my son," of spirit and some learning ; what do you think cried I, “ you left me but poor ; and poor, I of commencing author like me? You have read find, you are come back : and yet, I make no in books, no doubt, of men of genius starving at doubt you have seen a great deal of the world.” the trade; at present I'll shew you forty very

_“Yes, sir," replied my son; “ but travelling dull fellows about town that live by it in opuafter fortune is not the way to secure her; and, lence. All honest jog-trot men, who go on indeed, of late, I have desisted from the pur- smoothly and dully, and write history and posuit.” “I fancy, sir,” cried Mrs Arnold,“ that litics, and are praised. Men, sir, who, had they the account of your adventures would be amu- been bred cobblers, would all their lives have sing; the first part of them I have often heard only mended shoes, but never made them.' from my niece; but could the company prevail " Finding that there was no great degree of for the rest, it would be an additional obliga- gentility affixed to the character of an usher, I tion.”—“Madam," replied my son,“ I promise resolved to accept his proposal ; and having the you the pleasure you have in hearing will not highest respect for literature, hailed the Antiqua be half so great as my vanity in repeating them; Mater of Grub-street with reverence. I thought and yet in the whole narrative I can scarcely it my glory to pursue a track which Dryden and promise you one adventure, as my account is Otway trod before me. I considered the goddess rather of what I saw, than what I did. The first of this region as the parent of excellence; and, misfortune of my life, which you all know, was however an intercourse with the world might great ; but though it distressed, it could not sink give us good sense, the poverty she entailed I me. No person ever had a better knack at ho supposed to be the nurse of genius. Big with ping than 1. The less kind I found Fortune at these reflections, I sat down, and finding that one time, the more I expected from her at an- the best things remained to be said on the wrong other; and being now at the bottom of her side, I resolved to write a book that should be wheel, every new revolution might lift, but wholly new. I therefore dressed up three paracould not depress me. I proceeded, therefore, doxes with some ingenuity. They were false, towards London, in a fine morning, no way indeed, but they were new. The jewels of truth uneasy about to-morrow, but cheerful as the have been so often imported by others, that nobirds that carolled by the road ; and comforted thing was left for me to import but some splenmyself with reflecting that London was the mart did things that at a distance looked every bit as where abilities of every kind were sure of meet- well. Witness, you powers, what fancied iming distinction and reward.

portance sat perched upon my quill while I was « Upon my arrival in town, sir, my first care writing! The whole learned world, I made no was to deliver your letter of recommendation to doubt, would rise to oppose my systems; but our cousin, who was himself in little better cir- then I was prepared to oppose the whole learncumstances than I. My first scheme, you know, ed world. Like the porcupine, I sat self-collectsir, was to be usher at an academy, and I asked ed, with a quill pointed against every opposer." his advice on the affair. Our cousin received the “ Well said, my boy," cried I; " and what proposal with a true Sardonic grin. 'Ay,'cried subject did you treat upon ? I hope you did not he, this is indeed a very pretty career that pass over the importance of monogamy. But I has been chalked out for you. I have been an interrupt-go on. You published your parausher to a boarding-school myself; and may I doxes; well, and what did the learned world die by an anodyne necklace, but I had rather be say to your paradoxes ?" an under-turnkey in Newgate! I was up early « Sir," replied my son, “ the learned world and late-I was brow-beat by the master-ha- said nothing to my paradoxes ; nothing at all, ted for my ugly face by the mistress-worried sir. Every man of them was employed in praiby the boys within and never permitted to stir sing his friends and himself, or condemning his out to meet civility abroad. But are you sure enemies ; and unfortunately, as I had neither, you are fit for a school ? Let me examine you a I suffered the cruellest mortification-neglect.

" As I was meditating one day, in a coffee buried among the essays upon liberty, eastern house, on the fate of my paradoxes, a little man, tales, and cures for the bite of a mad dog ; while happening to enter the room, placed himself in Philautus, Philalethes, Philelutheros, and Phi. the box before me; and after some preliminary lanthropos, all wrote better, because they wrote discourse, finding me to be a scholar, drew out faster, than I. a bundle of proposals, begging me to subscribe “ Now, therefore, I began to associate with to a new edition he was going to give the world none but disappointed authors like myself, who of Propertius, with notes. This demand neces- praised, deplored, and despised each other. The sarily produced a reply, that I had no money; satisfaction we found in every celebrated wriand that concession led him to inquire into the ter's attempts was inversely as their merits. I nature of my expectations. Finding that my found that no genius in another could please expectations were just as great as my purse me. My unfortunate paradoxes had entirely

I see,' cried he, you are unacquainted with dried up that source of comfort. I could nei. the town. I'll teach you a part of it.--Look at ther read nor write with satisfaction ; for exthese proposals ; upon these very proposals I cellence in another was my aversion, and wrihave subsisted very comfortably for twelve years. ting was my trade. The moment a nobleman returns from his tra- “In the midst of these gloomy reflections, as vels, a Creolian arrives from Jamaica, or a dow- I was one day sitting on a bench in St James's ager from her country-seat, I strike for a sub- Park, a young gentleman of distinction, who scription. I first besiege their hearts with flat- had been my intimate acquaintance at the unitery, and then pour in my proposals at the versity, approached me. We saluted each other breach. If they subscribe readily the first time, with some hesitation--he almost ashamed of beI renew my request to beg a dedication fee ; if ing known to one who made so shabby an apa they let me have that, I smite them once more pearance, and I afraid of a repulse. But my for engraving their coat of arms at the top. suspicions soon vanished; for Ned Thornhill Thus,' continued he, ' I live by vanity, and was at the bottom a very good-natured fellow." laugh at it. But, between ourselves, I am now “ What did you say, George?" interrupted too well known ; I should be glad to borrow I." Thornhill! was not that his name? It your face a bit ; a nobleman of distinction has can certainly be no other than my landlord.”just returned from Italy; my face is familiar to “ Bless me!" cried Mrs Arnold, « is Mr Thornhis porter ; but if you bring this copy of verses, hill so near a neighbour of yours? He has long my life for it you succeed, and we divide the been a friend in our family, and we expect a spoil,'”

visit from him shortly." “ Bless us, George," cried I,“ and is this the “My friend's first care," continued my son, employment of poets now? Do men of their ex- « was to alter my appearance by a very fine alted talents thus stoop to beggary? Can they suit of his own clothes, and then I was admitso far disgrace their calling, as to make a vile ted to his table upon the footing of half friend, traffic of praise for bread?”

half underling. My business was to attend him “O no, sir," returned he ; " a true poet can at auctions, to put him in spirits when he sat never be so base ; for wherever there is genius for his picture, to take the left hand in his chathere is pride. The creatures I now describe are riot when not filled by another, and to assist at only beggars in rhyme. The real poet, as he tattering a kip, as the phrase was, when he had braves every hardship for fame, so is he equally a mind for a frolic. Besides this, I had twenty a coward to contempt; and none but those who other little employments in the family. I was are unworthy protection, condescend to solicit it. to do many small things without bidding; to

Having a mind too proud to stoop to such carry the cork-screw; to stand godfather to all indignities, and yet a fortune too humble to the butler's children; to sing when I was bid ; hazard a second attempt for fame, I was now to be never out of humour; always to be humobliged to take a middle course, and write for ble; and, if I could, to be very happy. bread. But I was unqualified for a profession “ In this honourable post, however, I was where mere industry alone was to ensure suc- not without a rival. A captain of marines, who cess. I could not suppress my lurking passion was formed for the place by nature, opposed me for applause; but usually consumed that time in my patron's affections. His mother had been in efforts after excellence which takes up but laundress to a man of quality, and thus he early little room, when it should have been more ad- acquired a taste for pimping and pedigree. As vantageously employed in the diffusive produc- this gentleman made it the study of his life to tions of fruitful mediocrity. My little piece be acquainted with lords, though he was diswould, therefore, come forth in the midst of pe- missed from several for his stupidity, yet he riodical publications, unnoticed and unknown. found many of them, who were as dull as himThe public were more importantly employed self, that permitted his assiduities. As flattery than to observe the easy simplicity of my style, was his trade, he practised it with the easiest or the harmony of my periods. Sheet after sheet address imaginable ; but it came awkward and was thrown off to oblivion. My essays were stiff from me; and as every day my patron's desire of flattery increased, so every hour, being bermaid. Another foot was heard soon after. better acquainted with his defects, I became This must be he! No, it was only the great more unwilling to give it.--Thus I was once man's valet-de-chambre. At last his lordship more fairly going to give up the field to the cap- actually made his appearance. Are you,' cried tain, when my friend found occasion for my as- he, the bearer of this here letter?' I answered sistance. This was nothing less than to fight a with a bow. I learn by this,' continued he, duel for him with a gentleman, whose sister it as how that—' But just at that instant a serwas pretended he had used ill. I readily com- vant delivered him a card; and, without taking plied with his request, and though I see you farther notice, he went out of the room, and arc displeased at my conduct, yet as it was a left me to digest my own happiness at leisure. debt indispensably due to friendship, I could I saw no more of him, till told by a footman not refuse. I undertook the affair, disarmed my that his lordship was going to his coach at the antagonist, and soon after had the pleasure of door. Down I immediately followed, and joinfinding that the lady was only a woman of the ed my voice to that of three or four more, who town, and the fellow her bully and a sharper. came like me to petition for favours. His lordThis piece of service was repaid with the warm- ship, however, went too fast for us, and was est professions of gratitude; but as my friend gaining his chariot-door with large strides, when was to leave town in a few days, he knew no I hallooed out to know if I was to have any reother method of serving me but by recommend- ply. He was by this time got in, and muttering me to his uncle, Sir William Thornbill, and ed an answer, half of which I only heard, the another nobleman of great distinction, who en- other half was lost in the rattling of his chariotjoyed a post under government. When he was wheels. I stood for some time with my neck gone, my first care was to carry his recommen- stretched out, in the posture of one that was datory letter to his uncle, a man whose charac- listening to catch the glorious sounds, till, lookter for every virtue was universal, yet just. 1 ing round me, I found myself alone at his lordwas received by his servants with the most hos- ship's gate. pitable smiles, for the looks of the domestics . My patience," continued my son, “ was ever transmit their master's benevolence. Being now quite exhausted. Stung with the thousand shewn into a grand apartment, where Sir Wil- indignities I had met with, I was willing to liam soon came to me, I delivered my message cast myself away, and only wanted the gulph to and letter, which he read, and after pausing receive me. I regarded myself as one of those vile some minutes Pray, sir,' cried he, 'inform things that Nature designed should be thrown me what you have done for my kinsman, to de- by into her lumber-room, there to perish in observe this warm recommendation ? But I sup- scurity. I had still, however, half-a-guinea left, pose, sir, I guess your merits; you have fought and of that I thought Fortune herself should not for him ; and so you would expect a reward deprive me; but, in order to be sure of this, I from me for being the instrument of his vices. was resolved to go instantly and spend it while I wish, sincerely wish, that my present refusal I had it, and then trust to occurrences for the may be some punishment for your guilt; but rest. As I was going along with this resolution, still more that it may be some inducement to it happened that Mr Crispe's office seemed inyour repentance. The severity of this rebuke I vitingly open to give me a welcome reception. bore patiently, because I knew it was just. My In this office Mr Crispe kindly offers all his whole expectations now, therefore, lay in my majesty's subjects a generous promise of 30l. aletter to the great man. As the doors of the year, for which promise all they give in return nobility are almost ever beset with beggars, all is their liberty for life, and permission to let ready to thrust in some sly petition, I found it him transport them to America as slaves. I was no easy matter to gain admittance. However, happy at finding a place where I could lose my after bribing the servants with half my worldly fears in desperation, and entered this cell, for it fortune, I was at last shewn into a spacious had the appearance of one, with the devotion of apartment, my letter being previously sent up for a monastic. Here I found a number of poor his lordship's inspection. During this anxious creatures, all in circumstances like myself, exinterval, I had full time to look around me. pecting the arrival of Mir Crispe, presenting a Every thing was grand and of happy contri- true epitome of English impatience. Each unvance; the paintings, the furniture, the gild- tractable soul at variance with fortune, wreaked ings, petrified me with awe, and raised my idea her injuries on their own hearts; but Mr Crispe of the owner. Ah! thought I to myself, how at last came down, and all our murmurs were very great must the possessor of all these things hushed. He deigned to regard me with an air be, who carries in his head the business of the of peculiar approbation, and indeed he was the state, and whose house displays half the wealth first man, who for a month past had talked to me of a kingdom ; sure his genius must be unfa- with smiles. After a few questions, he found I thomable! During these awful reflections, I was fit for every thing in the world. He paused heard a step come heavily forward. Ah, this is a while upon the properest means of providing the great man himself! No, it was only a cham- for me, and slapping his forchead, as if he had found it, assured me, that there was at that time to Louvain, and there live by teaching Greek; an embassy talked of from the synod of Penn- and in this design I was heartened by my brosylvania to the Chickasaw Indians, and that he ther-student, who threw out some hints that a would use his interest to get me made secretary. fortune might be got by it. I knew in my own heart the fellow lied, and yet “I set boldly forward the next morning. his promise gave me pleasure, there was some- Every day lessened the burthen of my movething so magnificent in the sound. I fairly, ables, like Æsop and his basket of bread; for therefore, divided my half-guinea, one half of I paid them for my lodging to the Dutch as which went to be added to his thirty thousand I travelled on. When I came to Louvain, I pounds, and with the other half I resolved to go was resolved not to go sneaking to the lower to the next tavern to be there more happy than professors, but openly tendered my talents to he.

the principal himself. I went, had admittance, " As I was going out with that resolution, I and offered him my service as a master of the was met at the door by the captain of a ship, Greek language, which I had been told was a with whom I had formerly some little acquaint- desideratum in his university. The principal ance, and he agreed to be my companion over a seemed, at first, to doubt of my abilities; but bowl of punch. As I never chose to make a se- of these I offered to convince him, by turning cret of my circumstances, he assured me that I a part of any Greek author he should fix upon was on the very point of ruin, in listening to into Latin. Finding me perfectly carnest in my the office-keeper's promises; for that he only proposal, he addressed me thus: “ You see me, designed to sell me to the plantations. “ But," young man: I never learned Greek, and I don't continued he, “ I fancy you might by a much find that I have ever missed it. I have had a shorter voyage be very easily put into a genteel doctor's cap and gown without Greek ; I have way of bread. Take my advice, my ship sails ten thousand florins a-year without Greek ; I to-morrow for Amsterdam ; what if you go in eat heartily without Greek; and, in short,her as a passenger? The moment you land, all continued he, “as I don't know Greek, I do you have to do is to teach the Dutchmen Eng, not believe there is any good in it." Iish, and I warrant you'll get pupils and money. “I was now too far from home to think of enough. I suppose you understand English,” returning, so I resolved to go forward. I had added he," by this time, or the deuce is in it.” some knowledge of music, with a tolerable voice; I confidently assured him of that; but express- I now turned what was once my amusement ined a doubt whether the Dutch would be willing to a present means of subsistence. I passed to learn English. He affirmed with an oath, among the harmless peasants of Flanders, and that they were fond of it to distraction; and among such of the French as were poor enough upon that affirmation I agreed with his propo- to be very merry; for I ever found them sprightsal, and embarked the next day to teach the ly in proportion to their wants. Whenever Dutch English in Holland. The wind was fair, I approached a peasant's house towards nightour voyage short, and after having paid my pas- fall, I played one of my most merry tunes, and sage with half my moveables, I found myself that procured me not only a lodging, but subfallen as from the skies, a stranger in one of sistence for the next day. I once or twice atthe principal streets of Amsterdam. In this si- tempted to play for people of fashion ; but they tuation I was unwilling to let any time pass always thought my performance odious, and unemployed in teaching. I addressed myself, never rewarded me even with a trifle. This was therefore, to two or three of those I met, whose to me the more extraordinary, as whenever I appearance seemed most promising ; but it was used in better days to play for company, when impossible to make ourselves mutually under- playing was my amusement, my music never stood. It was not till this very moment I re- failed to throw them into raptures, and the lacollected, that in order to teach Dutchmen Eng- dies especially; but, as it was now my only lish, it was necessary that they should first means, it was received with contempt,-a proof teach me Dutch. How I came to overlook so how ready the world is to under-rate those taobvious an objection, is to me amazing; but lents by which a man is supported. certain it is, I overlooked it.

“ In this manner I proceeded to Paris, with · “ This scheme thus blown up, I had some no design but just to look about me, and then thoughts of fairly shipping back to England to go forward. The people of Paris are much again; but dropping into company with an Irish fonder of strangers that have money than of student, who was returning from Louvain, our those that have wit. As I could not boast much conversation turning upon topics of literature, of either, I was no great favourite. After walk(for by the way, it may be observed, that I al- ing about the town four or five days, and seeways forgot the meanness of my circumstances ing the outsides of the best houses, I was prewhen I could converse on such subjects ;) from paring to leave this retreat of venal hospitality; him I learned, that there were not two men in when passing through one of the principal streets, his whole university who understood Greek. whom should I meet but our cousin, to whom This amazed me; I instantly resolved to travel you first recommended me. This meeting was

« PreviousContinue »