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could I perceive wrinkle into sympathy: I found it would not do: all my good-humor now became forced; my laughter was converted into hysteric grinning; and while I pretended spirits, my eye showed the agony of my heart: in short, the lady came with an intention to be displeased, and displeased she was; my fame expired; I am here, and—the tankard is no more !"
ON THE APPROACHING CORONATION.
That a time of war is a time of parsimony, is a maxim which patriots and senators have had often in their mouths, and which I do not remember ever to have been denied. I know not whether by the acute inquiries of the present age, this opinion has been discovered to be groundless, and is therefore thrown aside among obsolete follies; or whether it happened on this, as on other occasions, that conviction is on one side, and practice on the other; but so it is, that this war, whatever it has taken from the wealth, has added nothing to our frugality. Every place of splendid pleasure is filled with assemblies; every sale of expensive superfluities is crowded with buyers; and war has no other effect, than that of enabling us to show that we can be at once military and luxurious, and pay soldiers and fiddlers at the same time.
Among other changes which time has effected, a new species of profusion has been produced. We are now, with an emulation never known before, outbidding one another for a sight of the Coronation ; the annual rent of palaces is offered for a single room for a single day.*
[The coronation took place on the 22d of September, 1761. The front seats in the gallery of Westminster Abbey were let at ten guineas each, and those in the houses along the procession at the same price. Some of them cleared upwards of a thousand pounds. See Ann. Reg. vol. iv. p. 218.]
I am far from desiring to repress curiosity, to which we owe 50 great a part of our intellectual pleasures; nor am I hardy enough to oppose the general practice of mankind, so much as to think all pomp or magnificence useless or ridiculous. But all passions have their limits, which they cannot exceed without putting our happiness in danger; and although a fine show be a fine thing, yet, like other fine things, it may be purchased too dear. All pleasures are valuable in proportion to their greatness and duration : that the pleasure of a show is not of any long continuance, all know, who are now striving for places; for if a show was long, it would not be rare. This is not the worst, the pleasure while it lasts will be less than is expected. No human performance can rise up to human ideas. Grandeur is less grand, and finery less fine than it is painted by the fancy; and such is the difference between hope and possession, that, to a great part of the spectators, the show will cease as soon as it appears.
Let me yet not deceive my readers to their disadvantage, or represent the little pleasures of life as less than they are. Those who come to see come likewise to be seen, and will, for many hours before the procession, enjoy the eyes of innumerable gazers, Nor will this be the last or the longest gratification; those who have seen the coronation, will have whole years of triumph over those who saw it not. They will have an opportunity of amusing their humble friends and rustic acquaintances with narratives, often heard with envy, and often with wonder; and when they hear the youth of the next generation boasting the splendor of any future procession, they will talk with contemptuous superiority of the Coronation of George the Third.*
(" I am going to let London cool, and will not venture into it again this fortnight. 0! the buzz, the prattle, the crowds, the noise, the hurry! If i was to entitle ages, I would call this the century of crowds.' For the coro.
ON NATIONAL CONCORD.
As you seem by your writings to have a just regard and filial affection for your country, and as your monthly lucubrations are widely diffused over all the dominions of Great Britain, I take the liberty to communicate to the public, through your channel, a few loose thoughts upon a subject, which, though often handled, has not yet, in my opinion, been fully discussed; I mean national concord, or unanimity, which, in this kingdom, has been generally considered as a bare possibility, that existed nowhere but in speculation. Such a union is, perhaps, neither to be expected nor wished for, in a country whose liberty depends rather upon the genius of the people than upon any precautions which they have taken in a constitutional way, for the guard and preservation of this inestimable blessing.
There is a very honest gentleman with whom I have been acquainted these thirty years, during which there has not been one speech uttered against the ministry in parliament; nor a struggle at an election for a burgess to serve in the House of Commons; nor a pamphlet published in opposition to any measure of the administration; nor even a private censure passed in his hearing upon the misconduct of any person concerned in public affairs—but he is immediately alarmed, and loudly exclaims against such factious doings, in order to set the people by the ears together at such a delicate conjuncture. “At
nation, if a puppet-show could be worth a million, that is. The multitudes, balconies, guards, and processions, made Palace-yard the liveliest spectacle in the world: the hall was the most glorious. The blaze of lights, the richness and variety of habits, the ceremonial, the benches of peers and peeresses, frequent and full, was as awful as a pageant can be ; and yet, for the king's sake and my own, I never wish to see another."—Horace Walpole, Sept. 24, 1761.)
* (Written in December, 1760.]
other time," says he, “such opposition might not be improper, and I do not question the facts that are alleged; but at this crisis, sir, to inflame the nation !—the man deserves to be punished as a traitor to his country.” In a word, according to this gentleman's opinion, the nation has been in a violent crisis at any time these thirty years; and were it possible for him to live another century, he would never find any period at which a man might with safety impugn the infallibility of a minister.
The case is no more than this : my honest friend has invested his whole fortune in the stocks, on government security, and trembles at every whiff of popular discontent. Were every
British subject of the same tame and timid disposition, Magna Charta (to use the coarse phrase of Oliver Cromwell) would be no more regarded by an ambitious prince than magna fta, and the liberties of England expire without a groan. Opposition, when restrained within due bounds, is the salubrious gale that ventilates the opinions of the people, which might otherwise stagnate into the most abject submission. It may be said to purify the atmosphere of politics; to dispel the gross vapors raised by the influence of ministerial artifice and corruption, until the constitation, like a mighty rock, stands full disclosed to the view of every individual who dwells within the shade of its protection. Even when this gale blows with augmented violence, it generally tends to the advantage of the commonwealth; it awakes the apprehension, and consequently arouses all the faculties, of the pilot at the helm, who redoubles his vigilancc and caution, exerts his utmost skill, and becoming acquainted with the nature of the navigation, in a little time learns to suit his canvas to the roughnegs of the sea, and the trim of the vessel Without these intervening storms of opposition to exercise his faculties, he would become enervate, negligent, and presumptuous; and in the wan.
tonness of his power, trusting to some deceitful calm, perhaps hazard a step that would wreck the constitution. Yet there is a measure in all things: a moderate frost will fertilize the glebe with nitrous particles, and destroy the eggs of pernicious insects that prey upon the fancy of the year: but if this frost increases in severity and duration, it will chill the seeds, and even freeze up the roots of vegetables; it will check the bloom, nip the buds, and blast all the promise of the spring. The vernal breeze that drives the fogs before it, that brushes the cobwebs from the boughs, that fans the air and fosters vegetation, if augmented to a tempest, will strip the leaves, overthrow the tree, and desolate the garden. The auspicious gale before which the trim vessel ploughs the bosom of the sea, while the mariners are kept alert in duty and in spirits, if converted to a hurricane, overwhelms the crew with terror and confusion. The sails are rent, the cordage cracked, the masts give way; the master eyes the havoc with mute despair, and the vessel founders in the storm. Opposition, when confined within its proper channel, sweeps away those beds of soil and banks of sand which corruptive power had gathered ; but when it overflows its banks, and deluges the plain, its course is marked by ruin and devastation.
The opposition necessary in a free state like that of Great Britain, is not at all incompatible with that national concord which ought to unite the people on all emergencies in which the general safety is at stake. It is the jealousy of patriotism, not the rancor of party; the warmth of candor, not the virulence of hate; a transient dispute among friends, not an implacable feud that admits of no reconciliation. The history of all ages teems with the fatal effects of internal discord; and were history and tradition annihilated, common sense would plainly point out the mischiefs that must arise from want of harmony and national union. Every schoolboy can have recourse to the fable of the