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cannot be dispensed with.” “They should have been supplied with more than is necessary," cried Asem; “ and yet I contradict my own opinion but a moment before: all is doubt, perplexity, and confusion. Even the want of ingratitude is no virtue here, since they never received a favor. They have, however, another excellence yet behind; the love of their country is still, I hope,
ne of their darling virtues.” “ Peace, Asem,” replied the Guardian, with a countenance not less severe than beautiful, forfeit all thy pretensions to wisdom; the same selfish motives, by which we prefer our own interest to that of others, induce us to regard our country preferably to that of another. Nothing less than universal benevolence is free from vice, and that you see is practised here.” “Strange!" cries the disappointed pilgrim, in an agony of distress; "what sort of a world am I now introduced to? There is scarcely a single virtue, but that of temperance, which they practise; and in that they are in no way superior to the very brute creation. There is scarcely an amusement which they enjoy; fortitude, liberality, friendship, wisdom, conversation, and love of country, are all virtues entirely unknown here: thus it seems, that to be unacquainted with vice is not to know virtue. Take me, O my Genius, back to that very world which I have despised: a world which has Alla for its contriver is much more wisely formed than that which has been projected by Mahomet. Ingratitude, contempt, and hatred, I can now suffer; for perhaps I have deserved them. When I arraigned the wisdom of Providence, I only showed my own ignorance; henceforth let me keep from vice myself, and pity it in others."
He had scarcely ended, when the Genius, assuming an air of terrible complacency, called all his thunders around him, and vanished in a whirlwind. Asem, astonished at the terror of the scene, looked for his imaginary world; when, casting his eyes
around, he perceived himself in the very situation, and in the very place, where he first began to repine and despair; his right foot had been just advanced to take the fatal plunge, nor had it been yet withdrawn; so instantly did Providence strike the series of truths just imprinted on his soul. He now departed from the water side in tranquillity, and leaving his horrid mansion, travelled to Segestan, his native city; where he diligently applied himself to commerce, and put in practice that wisdom he had learned in solitude. The frugality of a few years soon produced opulence; the number of his domestics increased; his friends came to see him from every part of the city; nor did he receive them with disdain: and a youth of misery was concluded with an old age of elegance, affluence, and ease.
A BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIR, SUPPOSED TO BE WRITTEN BY THE
ORDINARY OF NEWGATE.
Man is a most frail being, incapable of directing his steps, unacquainted with what is to happen in this life; and perhaps no man is a more manifest instance of the truth of this maxim, than Mr. The. Cibber, just now gone out of the world.* Such a variety of turns of fortune, yet such a persevering uniformity of conduct, appears in all that happened in his short span, that the whole may be looked upon as one regular confusion; every action
(Theophilus Cibber, son of Colley Cibber, and husband to the celebrated tragic actress. He lost his life, in 1757, on the coast of Scotland; where the vessel was shipwrecked in which he was going to Ireland. He was an actor, the writer of several dramatic pieces, and put his name to the “ Lives of the Poets," in five volumes, 12mo. 1757; but in this work his own share is supposed to have been very inconsiderable.)
of his life was matter of wonder and surprise, and his death was an astonishment.
This gentleman was born of creditable parents, who gave him a very good education, and a great deal of good learning, so that he could read and write before he was sixteen. However, he early discovered an inclination to follow lewd courses; he refused to take the advice of his parents, and pursued the bent of his in. clination; he played at cards on Sundays; called himself a gentleman;
fell out with his mother and laundress; and even in these early days his father was frequently heard to observe, that young The.--would be hanged.
As he advanced in years, he grew more fond of pleasure; he would eat an ortolan for dinner, though he begged the guinea that bought it; and was once known to give three pounds for a plate of green peas, which he had collected over night as charity for a friend in distress: he ran into debt with every body that would trust him, and none could build a sconce better than he; so that at last his creditors swore with one accord that The. would be hanged.
But as getting into debt, by a man who had no visible means but impudence for his subsistence, is a thing that every reader is not acquainted with, I must explain that point a little, and that to his satisfaction.
There are three ways of getting into debt; first, by pushing a face; as thus: “You, Mr. Lutestring, send me home six yards of that paduasoy, damme ;-but, harkee, don't think I ever intend to pay you for it, damme.” At this the miser laughs heartily, cuts off the paduasoy, and sends it home; nor is he, till too late, surprised to find the gentleman had said nothing but truth, and kept his word. The second method of running into debt is called fineering; which is getting goods made in such a fashion as to be unfit for every other purchaser; and if the tradesman refuses
to give them credit, then threaten to leave them upon his hands. But the third and best method is called, “ Being the good customer.” The gentleman first buys some trifle, and pays for it in ready money; he comes a few days after with nothing about him but bank bills, and buys, we will suppose, a sixpenny tweezercase; the bills are too great to be changed, so he promises to return punctually the day after and pay for what he has bought. In this promise he is punctual, and this is repeated for eight or ten times, till his face is well known, and has got at last the character of a good customer; by this means he gets credit for something considerable, and then never pays for it.
In all this the young man, who is the unhappy subject of our present reflections, was very expert; and could face, fineer, and bring custom to a shop with any man in England: none of his companions could exceed him in this; and his very companions at last said that The. --would be hanged.
As he grew old he grew never the better; he loved ortolans and green peas as before; he drank gravy soup when he could get it, and always thought his oysters tasted best when he got them for nothing, or, which was just the same, when he bought them upon tick: thus the old man kept up the vices of the youth, and what he wanted in power, he made up by inclination ; so that all the world thought that old The.—would be hanged.
And now, reader, I have brought him to his last scene; a scene where, perhaps, my duty should have obliged me to assist. You expect, perhaps, his dying words, and the tender farewell he took of his wife and children; you expect an account of his coffin and white gloves, his pious ejaculations, and the papers he left behind him. In this I cannot indulge your curiosity; for, oh! the mysteries of Fate, The.-was drowned.
“Reader," as Hervey saith, “ pause and ponder; and ponder and pause;
who knows what thy own end may be !"
Of all men who form gay illusions of distant happiness, per haps a poet is the most sanguine. Such is the ardor of his hopes, that they often are equal to actual enjoyment; and he feels more in expectance than actual fruition. I have often regarded a character of this kind with some degree of envy. A man possessed of such warm imagination commands all nature, and arrogates possessions of which the owner has a blunter relish. While life continues, the alluring prospect lies before him;
he travels in the pursuit with confidence, and resigns it only with his last breath.
It is this happy confidence which gives life its true relish, and keeps up our spirits amidst every distress and disappointment. How much less would be done, if a man knew how little he can do! How wretched a creature would he be, if he saw the end as well as the beginning of his projects! He would have nothing left but to sit down in torpid despair, and exchange employment for actual calamity.
I was led into this train of thinking upon lately visiting the beautiful Gardens of the late Mr. Shenstone; who was himself a poet, and possessed of that warm imagination, which made him ever foremost in the pursuit of flying happiness. Could he but have foreseen the end of all his schemes, for whom he was improving, and what changes his designs were to undergo, he
[This and the two following papers appeared first in the Westminster Magazine for 1773. They were next introduced into the volume of Essays published in 1797 by Mr. Isaac Reed, and subsequently, by Bishop Percy, into his edition of the Poet's works.)