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upon which he lay down, and indeed whined piteously.

“I was beginning to recover from my perplexity, and had just made an attempt to introduce a new subject of conversation, when, casting my eye downward, I was again thrown into extreme confusion, by seeing something hang from the fore-part of my chair, which I imagined to be a portion of my shirt; though indeed it was no other than the corner of a napkin on which I sat, and which, during the confusion produced by the fall of the screen, had been left in the chair.

My embarrassment was soon discovered, though the cause was mistaken; and the lady hoping to remove it by giving me an opportunity to display my abilities without the restraint of ceremony, requested that I would now give her the pleasure which she had impatiently expected, and read my play.

My play, therefore, I was obliged to produce, and having found an opportunity hastily to button up the corner of the napkin while the manuscript lay open in my lap, I began to read: and though my voice was at first languid, tremulous, and irresolute, yet my attention was at length drawn from


situation to my subject; I pronounced with greater emphasis and propriety, and I began to watch for the effects which I expected to produce upon my auditors; but I was extremely mortified to find that whenever I paused to give room for a remark or an encomium, the interval was filled with an ejaculation of pity for the dog, who still continued to whine. upon his cushion, and was lamented in these affectionate and pathetic terms -- Ah! poor, dear, pretty little creature.'

“It happened, however, that by some incidents in the fourth act, the passions were apparently interested, and I was just exulting in my success,

when the lady who sat next me unhappily opening her snuffbox, which was not effected without some difficulty, the dust that flew up threw me into a fit of sneezing, which instantly caused my upper lip to put me again out of countenance: I therefore hastily felt for my handkerchief, and as it was not with less emotion than if I had seen a ghost, that I discovered it had been picked out of my pocket. In the meantime, the opprobrious effusion descended like an icicle to my chin; and the eyes of the company, which this accident bad drawn upon me, were now turned away, with looks which showed that their pity was not proof against the ridicule of


distress. What I suffered at this moment can neither be expressed nor conceived; I turned my head this way and that in the anguish of my mind, without knowing what I sought; and at last, holding up my manuscript before my face, I was compelled to make use of the end of my neckcloth, which I again buttoned into my bosom. After many painful efforts, I proceeded in my lecture, and again fixed the attention of

my hearers. The fourth act was finished, and they expressed great impatience to hear the catastrophe : I therefore began the fifth with fresh confidence and vigour; but, before I had read a page, I was interrupted by two gentlemen of great quality, professors of Buckism, who came with a design to wait upon the ladies to an auction.

I rose up with the rest of the company when they came in; but what was my astonishment, to perceive the napkin, which I had unfortunately secured by one corner, hang down from my waist to the ground! From this dilemma, however, I was delivered by the noble buck who stood nearest to me: who, swearing an oath of astonishment, twitched the napkin from me, and throwing it to the servant, told him that he had redeemed it from the rats, who



were dragging it by degrees into a place where he would never have looked for it. The young ladies were scarce less confounded at this accident than I; and the noble matron herself was somewhat disconcerted: she saw my extreme confusion; and thought fit to apologize for her cousin's behaviour: He is a wild boy, sir,' says she,' he plays these tricks with every body; but it is his way, and nobody minds it.' When we were once more seated, the bucks, upon the peremptory refusal of the ladies to, go out, declared they would stay and hear the last 'act of my tragedy; I was therefore requested to go

But my spirits were quite exhausted by the violent agitation of my mind; and I was intimidated by the presence of two persons who appeared to consider me and my performances as objects only of merriment and sport. I would gladly have renounced all that in the morning had been the object of my hope, to recover the dignity which I had already lost in my own estimation; and had scarce any wish but to return without further disgrace into the quiet shade of obscurity. The ladies, however, would take no denial, and I was at length obliged to comply:

“I was much pleased and surprised at the attention with which my new auditors seemed to listen as I went on: the dog was now silent; I increased the pathos of my voice in proportion as I ascended the climax of distress, and Aattered myself that poetry and truth would still be victorious; but just at this crisis, the gentleman who had disengaged me from the napkin, desired me to stop half a moment: something, he said, had just started into his mind, which, if he did not communicate, he might forget: then, turning to his companion, Jack,' says he, “there was sold in Smithfield no longer ago than last Saturday, the largest ox that ever I beheld in my



life.' The ridicule of this malicious apostrophe was so striking that pity and decorum gave way, and my patroness herself burst into laughter: upon me, indeed, it produced a very different effect: for if í had been detected in an unsuceessful attempt to pick a pocket, I could not have felt more shame, confusion, and anguish. The laughter into which the company had been surprised, was, however, immediately suppressed, and a severe censure passed upon the person who produced it. To atone for the mortitication which I had suffered, the ladies expressed the utmost impatience to hear the conclusion, and I was encouraged by repeated encomiums to proceed; but, though I once more attempted to recollect myself, and again began the speech in which I had been interrupted, yet my thoughts were still distracted; my voice faltered, and I had scarce breath to finish the first period.

This was remarked by my tormentor the buck, who, suddenly snatching the manuscript out of my hands, declared that I did not do my play justice, and that he would finish it bimself.

He then began to read; but the affected gravity of his countenance, the unnatural tone of his voice, and the remembrance of his late anecdote of the ox, excited sensations that were incompatible both with pity and terror, and rendered me extremely wretched by keeping the company perpetually on the brink of laughter.

• In the action of my play, virtue had been sustained by her own dignity, and exulted in the enjoyment of intellectual and independent happiness, during a series of external calamities that terminated in death; and vice, by the success of her own projects, had been betrayed into shame, perplexity, and confusion. These events were indeed natural; and therefore I poetically inferred, with all the confidence of demonstration, that the torments

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of Tartarus, and the felicity of Elysium, were not necessary to the justification of the Gods; since whatever inequality might be pretended in the distribution of externals, peace is still the prerogative of virtue, and intellectual misery can be inflicted only by guilt.'

But the intellectual misery which I suffered, at the very moment when this favourite sentiment was read, produced an irresistible conviction that it was false : because, except the dread of that punishment which I had indirectly denied, I felt all the torment that could be inflicted by guilt. In the prosecution of an undertaking which I believed to be virtuous, peace had been driven from my heart by the concurrence of accident with the vices of others; and the misery that I suffered suddenly propagated itself: for not only enjoyment, but hope was now at an end; my play, upon which both had depended, was overturned from its foundation; and I was so much affected that I took my leave with the abrupt haste of distress and perplexity. I had no concern about what should be said of me when I was de. parted; and, perhaps, at the moment when I went out of the house, there was not in the world any

human being more wretched than myself. The next morning, when I reflected coolly upon these events, I would willingly have reconciled my experience with my principles, even at the expense morals. I would have supposed that my desire of approbation was inordinate, and that a virtuous indifference about the opinion of others would have prevented all my distress; but I was compelled to acknowledge, that to acquire this indifference was not possible, and that no man becomes vicious by not effecting impossibilities: there may be heights of virtue beyond our reach; but to be vicious, we must either do something from which we have

of my

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