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Orpheus compared to the hammer of an Auctioneer!
I must, in the next place, request the reader's at. tention to the Polishing Puffers; a title by which I would be understood to speak of those venerable teachers and instructors, who are endowed with the happy faculty ofinstilling arts and sciences into their disciples, like fixed air into a yapid menstruum : these are the beatified spirits whom Virgil places in his poetical Elysium: foolish men amongst the Greeks, such as Socrates, Plato, and others, trained their pupils step by step in knowledge, and made a bugbear of instruction ; Pythagoras, in particular, kept his scholars five years in probationary si. lence, as if wisdom was not to be learned without labour; our modern polishers puff it into us in a morning ; the polish is laid on at a stroke, just as boys turn a brass buckle into a silver one with a little quicksilver and brick-dust; the polished buckle indeed soon repents of its transmutation, but it is to be hoped the allusion does not hold through, and that the polished mind or body does not relapse as soon to its primitive rusticity. Strange! that any body will be a clown, when the Graces invite us to their private hops with hand. bills and advertisements : why do not the whole court of Aldermen dance at my Lord Mayor's ball, instead of standing with their hands in their pockets, when grown gentlemen (let them grow to what size they may) are taught to walk a minuet gracefully in three lectures ? Amazing art! only to be equalled by the obstinacy that resists it. How are the times degenerated ! Orpheus fiddles and the brutes won't dance. Go to the courts of law, listen to the bel. lowing of the bar; mount the gallery of the senate, observe how this here and that there orator breaks poor Priscian's head for the good of his country; enter our theatres—does that gentleman speak to a ghost, as a ghost ought to be spoken to? Walk into a church, if you have any feeling for the sacred sublimity of our service, you will never walk into another where it is so mangled : every one of these parricides might be tanght not to murder his mother-tongue without mercy, if he would but believe an advertisement, and betake himself to the Polisher. Education at our public schools and universities is travelling in a waggon for expedition, when there is a bridle road will take you by a short cut to Parnassus, and the Polisher has got the key of it; he has elocution for all customers, lawyers, players, parsons, or senators ; ready-made talents for all professions, the bar, the stage, the pulpit or the parliament.
There is another class of Puffers, who speak strongly to the passions, and use many curious derices to allure the senses, fiting out their lottery. offices, like fowlers who catch birds by night with looking-glasses and candles, to entice us to their snare. Some of them hang out the goddess of goodfortune in person with money-bags in her hands, a tempting emblem; others recommend themselves under the auspices of some lucky name, confound. ing our heads with cabalistical numbers, unintelligible calculations, and mysterious predictions, whose absurdity is their recommendation, and whose ob$curity makes the temptation irresistible:
Omnia enim stolidi magis admirantur amantque,
Essences, cosmetics, and a hundred articles of pretended invention for the frivolous adorning of our persons engross a considerable share of our public papers: the puffs from this quarter are replete with all the gums and odours of Arabia ; the chy.
. Nỏ 20: mists of Laputa were not more subtle extractors of sunbeams than these artists, who can fetch powder of pearls out of rotten bones and mercury, odour of roses from a turnip, and the breath of zephyrs out of a cabbage-stalk ; they can furnish your dressing, room with the toilette of Juno, bring you bloomi from the checks of Hebe, and a nosegay from the bosom of Flora. These Puffers never fail to tell you, after a court birth-day, that their washes, powders, and odours, were the favourites of the drawing-room, and that the reigning beauties of the assembly bought their charms at their counters.
After these follow a rabble of raree-shew-men, with mermaids, man-tigers, ourang-outangs, and évery mönster and abortion in creation; columns of giants and light-infantry, companies of dwarfs ; eonjurers, rope dancers, and posture-masters; toothdrawers, oculists, and chiropodists; every one puffs himself off to the public in a style as proud as An. tient Pistol's ; every fellow who can twirl upon his toe, or ride a gallop on his head, pastes himself up in effigy on our public offices and churches, and takes all the courts in Europe to witness to the fame of his performances. If a rascal can shew a louse throngh a microscope, he expects all the heads in England to itch till they behold it'; if a son of the gallows can slide down a rope from the top of a steeple, he puffs off his flight in Pindarics, that would make a moderate man's head giddy to read ; nay, we have seen a gambling-house and a brothel thrown open to the town, and public lectures in obscenity audaciously advertised in a Christian city, which would not have been tolerated in Sodom or Gomorrah.
I cannot dismiss this subject without hinting to the proprietors of our Royal Theatres, that this expedient of puffing is pardonable only in a troop of strollers, or the master of a puppet-shew. Whilst the Muses keep possession of our theatre, and genius treads the stage, every friend to the national drama will condemn the practice, and hold them inexcusable, who are responsible for it, if they do not discontinue it. It is hardly possible that any cause can be profited by puffing; if any can, it must be a contemptible one; the interests of literature are amongst the last that can expect advantage from it, or that should condescend to so mean a resource: instead of attracting curiosity, it creates disgust : instead of answering the temporary object of pro. fit, it sinks the permanent fund of reputation. As to the impolicy of the measure, many reasons may be given, but these I shall forbear to mention, lesť whilst I ain stating dangers I should appear to suggest them. In conclusion, I have no doubt but the good sense of the proprietors will determine on a reform ; for I am persuaded they cannot be profited by houses of their own filling, nor any author flattered by applauses of his own bestowing,
SOCIETY in despotic governments is narrowed according to the degree of rigour, which the ruling tyrant exercises over his subjects. In some coun. tries it is in a manner annihilated. As despotism relaxes towards limited monarchy, society is dilated in the same proportion. If we consider freedom of condition in no other light than as it affects society, a monarchy limited by law, like this of ours, is per. haps the freest constitution upon earth ; because was it to diverge from the centre on which it now rests, either towards despotism on one hand, or de. mocracy on the other, the restraints upon social freedom would operate in the same degree, tho' not in the same mode ; for whether that restraint is pro. duced by the awe of a court, or the promiscuous licentiousness of a rabble, the barrier is in either case broken down; and whether it lets the cobbler or the king's messenger into our company, the ty. ranny is insupportable, and society is enslaved.
When an Englishman is admitted into what are called the best circles in Paris, he generally finds something captivating in them on a first acquaintance; for without speaking of their internal recommendations, it is apt to flatter a man's vanity to find himself in an exclusive party, and to surmount those difficulties, which others cannot. As soon as he has had time to examine the component parts -of this circle into which he so happily stept, he readily discovers that it is a circle, for he goes round and round without one excursion; the whole party follows the same stated revolution, their minds and bodies keep the same orbit, their opinions rise and set with the regularity of planets, and for what is passé ing without their sphere they know nothing of it. In this junto it rarely happens but some predomi. nant spirit takes the lead, and if he is ambitious of making a master-stroke indeed, he may go the length to declare, that he has the honour to profess himself an Atheist. The creed of this leading spirit is the creed of the junto ; there is no fear of controversy ; intestigation does not reach them, and that liberality of mind, which a collision of ideas only can produce, does not belong to them ; you must fall in with their sentiments, or keep out of their society; and hence - arises that over-ruling self-opinion so pcculiar to the