« AnteriorContinua »
for qualifying a person at present to give his voice in state affairs be ten times less than was
judged sufficient upon forming the constitution, it is evident that greater numbers of the rabble will thus be introduced into the political system, and they, ever moving in the vortex of the great, will follow where greatness shall
direct. In such a state, therefore, all that the middle order has left, is to preserve the prerogative and privileges of the one principal governor with the most sacred circumspection. For he divides the power of the rich, and calls off the great from falling with tenfold weight on the middle order, placed beneath them. The middle order may be compared to a town, of which the opulent are forming the siege, and of which the governor from without is hastening the relief. While the besiegers are in dread of an enemy over them, it is but natural to offer the townsmen the most specious terms; to flatter them with sounds, and amuse them with privileges ; but if they once defeat the governor from behind, the walls of the town will be but a small defence to its inhabitants. What they may then expect, may be seen by turning our eyes to Holland, Genoa, or Venice, where the laws govern the poor, and the rich govern the law. I am then for, and would die for monarchy, sacred monarchy : for if there be any thing sacred amongst men, it must be the anointed SOVEREIGN of his people ; and
every diminution of his power, in war or in peace, is an infringement upon the real liberties of the subject. The sounds of liberty, patriotism, and Britons, have already done much ; it is to be hoped that the true sons of freedom will prevent their ever doing more. I have known many of these pretended champions for liberty in my time, yet do I not remember one that was not in his heart and in his family a tyrant.”
My warmth, I found, had lengthened this harangue beyond the rules of good breeding ; but the impatience of
entertainer, who often strove to interrupt it, could be restrained no longer. “ What !” cried he “then I have been all this while entertaining a Jesuit in parson's clothes ! But, by all the coal mines of Cornwall, out he shall pack, if my name be Wilkinson.” I now found I had gone too far, and asked pardon for the warmth with which I had spoken. “Pardon!” returned he, in a fury : “ I think such principles demand ten thousand pardons. What ? give up liberty, property, and, as the Gazetteer says, lie down to be saddled with wooden shoes ! Sir, I insist upon your marching out of this house immediately, to prevent worse consequences : sir, I insist upon it.”. I was going to repeat my remonstrances ; but, just then, we heard a footman's rap at the door, and the two ladies cried out, “ As sure as death, there is our master and mistress come home!” It seems my entertainer was all this while only the butler, who, in his master's absence, had a mind to cut a figure, and be for a while the gentleman himself; and, to say the truth, he talked politics as well as most country gentlemen do. But nothing could now exceed my confusion upon seeing the gentleman and his lady enter ; nor was their surprise at finding such company and good cheer, less than ours. “ Gentlemen,” cried the real master of the house to me and my companion,
my wife and I are your most humble servants ; but I protest this is so unexpected a favour, that we almost sink under the obligation.” However unexpected our company might be to them, theirs, I am sure, was still more so to us, and I was struck dumb with the apprehensions of my own absurdity, when whom should I next see enter the room but my dear Miss Arabella Wilmot, who was formerly designed to be married to my son George, but whose match was broken off, as already related. As soon as she saw me, she flew to my arms with the utmost joy.
My dear sir," cried she, “ to what happy accident is it that we owe so unexpected a visit ? I am sure my uncle and aunt will be in raptures when they find they have the good Dr Primrose for their guest. Upon hearing my name, the old gentleman and lady very politely stepped up, and welcomed me with the most cordial hospitality. Nor could they forbear smiling, upon being informed of the nature of my present visit : but the unfortunate butler, whom they at first seemed disposed to turn away, was, at my intercession, forgiven.
Mr Arnold and his lady, to whom the house belonged, now insisted upon having the pleasure of my stay for some days; and as their niece, my charming pupil, whose mind in some measure had been formed under my own instructions, joined in their entreaties, I complied. That night I was shewn to a magnificent chamber; and the next morning, early, Miss Wilmot desired to walk with me in the garden, which was decorated in the modern manner. After some time spent in pointing out the beauties of the place, she inquired
with seeming unconcern, when last I had heard from my son George? “ Alas! madam,” cried I, “ he has now been nearly three years absent, without ever writing to his friends or me. Where he is I know not ; perhaps I shall never see him or happiness more. No, my dear madam, we shall never more see such pleasing hours as were once spent by our fireside at Wakefield. My little family are now dispersing very fast, and poverty has brought not only want, but infamy upon us.” The good-natured girl let fall a tear at this account; but as I saw her possessed of too much sensibility, I forebore a more minute detail of our sufferings. It was, however, some consolation to me, to find that time had made no alteration in her affections, and that she had rejected several offers that had been made her since our leaving her part of the country. She led me round all the extensive improvements of the place, pointing to the several walks and arbours, and at the same time catching from every object a hint for some new question relative to my son. In this manner we spent the forenoon, till the bell summoned us in to dinner, where we found the manager of the strolling company
that I mentioned before, who was come to dispose of tickets for the Fair Penitent, which was to be acted that evening : the part of Horatio by a young gentleman who had never appeared on any stage. He seemed to be very warm in the praise of the new performer, and averred that he never saw any who bid so fair for excellence. Acting, he observed, was not learned in a day ; " but this gentleman,” continued he, “ seems born to tread the stage. His voice, his figure, and attitudes, are all admirable. We caught him up accidentally in our journey down." This account in some measure excited our curiosity, and, at the entreaty of the ladies, I was prevailed upon to accompany them to the play-house, which was no other than a barn. As the company with which I went was incontestably the. chief of the place, we were received with the greatest respect, and placed in the front seat of the theatre, where we sat for some time with no small impatience to see Horatio make his appearance. The new performer advanced at last ; and let parents think of my sensations by their own, when I found it was my unfortunate son! He was going to begin ; when, turning his eyes upon the audience, he perceived Miss Wilmot and me, and stood at once speechless and immoveable,
The actors behind the scene, who ascribed this pause to his natural timidity, attempted to encourage him ; but instead of going on, he burst into a flood of tears, and retired off the stage. I don't know what were my feelings on this occasion, for they succeeded with too much rapidity for description ; but I was soon awaked from this disagreeable reverie by Miss Wilmot, who, pale, and with a trembling voice, desired me to conduct her back to her uncle's. When got home, Mr Arnold, who was as yet a stranger to our extraordinary behaviour, being informed that the new performer was my son, sent his coach and an invitation for him ; and as he persisted in his refusal to appear again upon the stage, the players put another in his place, and we soon had him with us. Mr Arnold gave him the kindest reception, and I received him with my usual transport ; for I could never counterfeit false resentment. Miss Wilmot's reception was mixed with seeming neglect, and yet I could perceive she acted a studied part. The tumult in her mind seemed not yet abated : she said twenty giddy things that looked like joy, and then laughed loud at her own want of meaning. At intervals she would take a sly peep at the glass, as if happy in the consciousness of irresistible beauty ; and often would ask questions without giving any manner of attention to the answers,
THE HISTORY OF A PHILOSOPHIC VAGABOND, PURSUING NOVELTY,
BUT LOSING CONTENT,
AFTER we had supped, Mrs Arnold politely offered to send a couple of her footmen for my son's baggage, which he at first seemed to decline ; but upon her pressing the request, he was obliged to inform her, that a stick and wallet were all the moveable things upon this earth that he could boast of, Why, ay, my son,” cried I,“
left me but poor,
you are come back : and yet I make no doubt
you have seen a great deal of the world.”—“ Yes, sir,” replied my son," but travelling after fortune is not the way to secure her ; and, indeed, of late I have desisted from the pursuit.” -“ I fancy, sir,” cried Mrs Arnold, “ that the account of your adventures would be amusing : the first part
of them I have often heard from my niece ; but could the company prevail for the rest, it would be an additional obligation.”- Madam," replied my son, “ I promise you the pleasure you have in hearing, will not be half so great as my vanity in repeating them ; yet in the whole narrative I can scarcely promise you one adventure, as my account is rather of what I saw than what I did. The first misfortune of my life, which you all know, was great ; but though it distressed, it could not sink me. No person ever had a better knack at hoping than I. The less kind I found Fortune at one time, the more I expected from her another; and being now at the bottom of her wheel, every new revolution might lift, but could not depress me. I proceeded, therefore, towards London in a fine morning, no way uneasy about to-morrow, but cheerful as the birds that carolled by the road; and comforted myself with reflecting, that London was the mart where abilities of every kind were sure of meeting distinction and reward.
Upon my arrival in town, sir, my first care was to deliver your letter of recommendation to our cousin, who was himself in little better circumstances than I. My first scheme, you know, sir, was to be usher at an academy, and I asked his advice on the affair. Our cousin received the proposal with a truě Sardonic grin. Ay,'. cried he, 'this is indeed a very pretty career that has been chalked out for you. I have been an usher at a boarding-school myself ; and may I die by an anodyne necklace, but I had rather be an under-turnkey in Newgate. I was up early and late : I was browbeat by the master, hated for my ugly face by the mistress, worried by the boys within, and never permitted to stir out to meet civility abroad. But are you sure you are fit for a school ? Let me examine you a little. Have you been bred apprentice to the business?' — No.'-_Then you won't do for a school. Can
you dress the boys' hair? —No.'_ Then you won't do for a school. Have you had the small-pox ?? —No:— Then you won't do for a school. Can you lie three in a bed? - No.'— Then you will never do for a school. Have you got a good stomach?'
Yes.'— Then you will by no means do for a school. No, sir : if you are for a genteel easy profession, bind yourself seven years an apprentice to turn a cutler's wheel ; but avoid a school by any means. Yet come,' continued he, : I see you are a lad of spirit and some learning; what do