Imatges de pÓgina

opinion of my companions, and given them occasion to call my political principles in question, and well knowing that it was in vain to argue with men who were so very full of themselves, I threw down my reckoning, and retired to my own lodgings, reflecting on the absurd and ridiculous nature of national prejudice and prepossession.

Among all the famous sayings of antiquity, there is none that does greater honour to the author, or affords greater pleasure to the reader, (at least if he be a person of a generous and benevolent heart) than that of the philosopher, who, being asked what countryman he was, replied that he was a citizen of the world. How few are there to be found in modern times who can say the same, or whose conduct is consistent with such a profession! We are now become so much Englishmen, Frenchmen, Dutchmen, Spaniards, or Germans, that we are no longer citizens of the world; so much the natives of one particular spot, or members of one petty society, that we no longer consider ourselves as the general inhabitants of the globe, or members of that grand society which comprehends the whole human kind.

Did these prejudices prevail only among the meanest and lowest of the people, perhaps they might be excused, as they have few, if any, opportunities of correcting them by reading, travelling, or conversing with foreigners; but the misfortune is, that they infect the minds, and influence the conduct even of our gentlemen; of those, I mean, who have every title to this appellation but an exemption from prejudice, which, however, in my opinion, ought to be regarded as the characteristical mark of a gentleman: for let a man's birth be ever so high, his station ever so exalted, or his fortune ever so large, yet, if he is not free from the national and all other prejudices, I should make bold to tell him, that he had a low and vulgar mind, and had no just claim to the character of a gentleman. And, in fact, you will

always find, that those are most apt to boast of national merit, who have little or no merit of their own to depend on, than which, to be sure, nothing is more natural: the slender vine twists around the sturdy oak for no other reason in the world, but because it has not strength sufficient to support itself.

Should it be alleged in defence of national prejudice, that it is the natural and necessary growth of love to our country, and that therefore the former cannot be destroyed without hurting the latter; I answer, that this is a gross fallacy and delusion. That it is the growth of love to our country, I will allow; but that it is the natural and necessary growth of it, I absolutely deny. Superstition and enthusiasm too are the growth of religion; but who ever took it in his head to affirm, that they are the necessary growth of this noble principle? They are, if you will, the bastard sprouts of this heavenly plant; but not its natural and genuine branches, and may safely enough be lopt off, without doing any harm to the parent stock: nay, perhaps, till once they are lopt off, this goodly tree can never flourish in perfect health and vigour.

Is it not very possible that I may love my own country, without hating the natives of other countries? That I may exert the most heroic bravery, the most undaunted resolution, in defending its laws and liberty, without despising all the rest of the world as cowards and poltroons? Most certainly it is and if it were not-but what need I suppose what is absolutely impossible?—but if it were not, I must own I should prefer the title of the ancient philosopher, namely, a citizen of the world, to that of an Englishman, a Frenchman, an European, or to any other appellation what




I was much affected with the philosophical resignation of the honest soldier, who made his appearance in your number for June, and his story (1) made the deeper impression upon my mind, as his disposition forms a striking contrast with my own. I was the second son of a wealthy gentleman, who reserved the bulk of his fortune for my elder brother: so that the only provision I enjoyed, was a tolerable education and a lieutenant's commission in the army. During the late war I obtained a company, by dint of service, and at the peace was reduced upon half-pay. But this reduction was no great misfortune to me, who had learned to practise economy in an inferior station, and was so much master of my accounts, that I could live independently even to my wish, and could save something out of the appointments of a reformed captain.

My father having by this time resigned his breath, I had no parental home to which I could retire; therefore I set up my rest in a country town where I had been formerly quartered with the regiment, and made some agreeable acquaintances. There I passed my time according to my heart's desire. I fished, fowled, and hunted with the gentlemen of the neighbourhood, who entertained me in their houses with the most cordial hospitality. I walked, I chatted, I danced and played at cards with their wives and daughters. Delightful excursions, and amusing parties of pleasure, were planned and executed every day. The time stole away insensibly: I knew no care; I felt no disorder. I inherited from nature a vigorous constitution,


(1) [The ، Distresses of a Common Soldier;' which first appeared in the 'British Magazine,' and was afterwards introduced into the Citizen of the World :' see vol. ii. Letter 117.]

a happy serenity of temper, and was distinguished among my friends as the best-humoured fellow in the world.

In the midst of these enjoyments my heart was touched by the amiable qualities of a young lady, who was content to unite her fate with mine, contrary to the inclination and without the consent of her father, who possessed a very large fortune, and resented her marriage with such perseverance of indignation, that he never would admit her into his presence, nor even, at his death, forgive her for the step she had taken. His displeasure, however, affected us the less, as we found happiness in our mutual passion, and knew no wants; for my wife inherited from an aunt a legacy of eighteen hundred pounds, the interest of which, together with my half-pay, was sufficient to answer all our occasions.

We found great satisfaction in contriving plans for living snug upon our income, and enjoyed unspeakable pleasure in executing the scheme to which we had given the preference. Chance presented us with an opportunity to purchase a small, though neat and convenient house, with about twenty acres of land, in an agreeable rural situation; and there our time was parcelled out in a succession of tasks, for improving a large farm that we rented, and cultivating a sweet little garden laid out on a gentle slope, the foot of which was watered by a brawling rivulet of pure, transparent water. Although heaven had not thought proper to indulge us with children, we were favoured with every other substantial blessing; and every circumstance of rural economy proved a source of health and satisfaction.

The labours of the field, the little domestic cares of the barn-yard, the poultry-yard, and the dairy, were productive of such delights as none of your readers will conceive, except those who are enamoured of a country life. I cannot remember those peaceful scenes of innocence and tranquillity without regret; they often haunt my imagination, like the ghosts

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of departed happiness. Within the bosom of this charming retreat we lived, in a state of uninterrupted enjoyment, until our felicity was invaded by two unexpected events, at which, I am afraid, we shall always have cause to repine: my nephew, who had succeeded to my father's estate, died of the small-pox, and, a few weeks after this incident, my wife's only brother broke his neck in leaping a five-barred gate: so that we found ourselves, all at once, in possession of a very opulent fortune, and violently transported from that element for which our tempers had been so well adapted.

In the first flutter and agitation of mind, occasioned by this unhoped-for accession, we quitted our romantic solitude, and rushed into all the pageantry of high life. Thus irreresistibly sucked within the vortex of dissipation, we grew giddy in a rapid whirl of unnatural diversion: we became enamoured of tinsel liveries, equipage, and all the frippery of fashion. Instead of tranquillity, health, a continual flow of satisfaction, and a succession of rational delights, which we formerly derived from temperance, exercise, the study of nature, and practice of benevolence, we now tasted no pleasure but what consists in the gratification of idle vanity, tossed for ever on a sea of absurd amusements, by such loud storms of riot and tumult, as drowned the voice of reason and reflection, and overwhelmed all the best faculties of the soul. We deserted nature, sentiment, and true taste, to lead a weary life of affectation, folly, and intemperance; our senses became so depraved, that our eyes were captivated with glare and glitter, and our ears with noise and clamour; while our fancy dwelt with pleasure on every gewgaw of gothic extravagance. We entertained We entertained guests whom we despised, we visited friends whom we did not love, and invited company whom we could not esteem. We drank wines that we could not relish, and ate victuals that we could not digest. We frequented concerts which we did not under

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