صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

No LII. Saturday May 5. 1753.

He nugæ feria ducent
In mala derifum.


Trifles such as these To serious mischiefs lead.


To the ADVENTURER. SIR, Though there are many calamities to which all men are equally exposed, yet some species of intellectual distress are thought to be peculiar to the vicious. The various evils of disease and poverty, pain and forrow, are frequently derived from others; but shame and confusion are supposed to proceed from ourselves, and to be incurred only by the misconduct which they punish. This supposition is indeed specious; but I am convinced by the strongest evidence that it is not true : I can oppofe experience to theory; and as it will appear that I suffer considerable loss by, my testimony, it must be allowed to have the moit distinguishing characteristic of sincerity. That

every man is happy in proportion as he is vir. tuous, was once my favourite principle : I advanced and defended it in all companies; and as the last effort of my genius in its behalf, I contrived a feries of events by which it was illustrated and established : and that I might substitute action for narrative, and decorate sentiment with the beauties of poetry, I regulated my story by the rules of the drama, and with great application and labour wrought it into a tragedy.


When it was finished, I fate down like Hercules after his labours, exulting in the past, and enjoying the future by anticipation. I read it to every friend who favoured me with a visit, and when I went abroad, I always put it into my pocket. Thus it became known to a circle that was always increasing; and was at length mentioned with such commendation to a very great lady, that she was pleased to favour me. with a message, by which I was invited to breakfast at nine. the next morning, and acquainted that a select company would then expect the pleasure of hearing me read my play.

The delight that I received from the contemplation of my performance, the encomium of my friends, and especially this message, was in my opinion an experimental proof of my principles, and a reward of my merit. I reflected with great felf-complacence, upon the general complaint that genius was without patronage ; and concluded, that all who had been neglected were unworthy of notice. I believed that my own elevation was not only certain but near; and that the representation of my play would be secured by a mef. {age to the manager, which would render the mortifying drudgery of solicitation and attendance unneceffary:

Elated with these expectations, I rose early in the morning, and being dressed long before it was time to


set out, I amused myself by repeating the favourite palsages of my tragedy aloud, forming polite answers to the compliments that should be made, and adjusting the ceremony of my visit.

I observed the time appointed with such punctuality, that I knocked at the door while the clock was striking. Orders had been given for my admittance; and the porter being otherwise engaged, it happened that the servant whose place it was to introduce me, opened the door in his stead, and upon hearing my name, advanced directly before me into the room; fo that no discovery was made of an enormous queüe of brown paper, which fome' mischievous brat had with a crooked pin hung between the two locks of my major periwig: I followed the valet into a magnificent apartment, where, after. I had got within a very large Indian screen, I found five ladies and a gentleman.

I was a little disconcerted in my first address, by the respect that was shewn me, and the auriosity with which, I was regarded.:- however, I made my general obeilance, and addresling myfelf in particular to the elder of the ladies, whom I considered as my patroness, I ex. pressed my sense of the honour she had done me, in a. short speech which I had preconceived for the purpose ; but I was immediately informed, that the lady whose favour I had acknowledged was not yet come down: this mistake increased confusion; for as I could not again repeat the same words, I reflected, that I should be at last unprepared for the occafion on which they were to have been used. The company all his while continued standing : I therefore hastily turned about, to reconnoitre my chair; but the moment I was feated I perceived every one labouring to ftiße a laugh. I


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instantly suspected that I had committed some ridiculous indecorum, and I attempted to apologize for I knew not what offence ; but after fome hesitation, my extreme sensibility struck me speechless. The gentleman, however, kindly discovered the cause of their merriment, by exclaiming against the rude licentioufness of the vulgar, and at the same time taking from behind me the pendulous reproach to the honours of my head. This discovery afforded me inexpressible relief; my paper ramellie was thrown into the fire, and I joined in the laugh which it produced: but I was still embarrassed by the consequences of my mistake, and expected the lady by whom I had been invited, with folicitude and apprehension.

When she came in, the deference with which she was treated by persons who were so much my superiors, struck me with awe; my powers

of recollection were suspended, and I resolved to express my sentiments only by the lowness of my bow and the distance of my behaviour: I therefore hastily retreated backward; and at the same time bowing with the most profound reverence, unhappily overturned the screen, which in its fall threw down the breakfast table, broke all the china, and crippled the lap-dog. In the midst of this ruin I stood torpid in silence and amazement, stunned with the shrieks of the ladies, the yelling of the dog, and the clattering of the china : and while I considered myself as the author of such complicated mischief, I believe I felt as keen anguish as he, who with a halter about his neck looks up, while the other end of it is fastening to a gibbet.

The screen, however, was soon replaced, and the broken china removed ; and though the dog was the


principal object of attention, yet the lady sometimes adverted to me : fhe politely desired that I would consider the accident as of no consequence; the china, she faid, wat a trifle, and she hoped Pompey was more frighted than hurt. I made fome apology, but with great confusion and incoherence: at length, however, we were again feated, and breakfast was brought in.

I was extremely mortified to perceive, that the difcourse turned wholly upon the virtues of Pompey, and the confequences of his hurt: it was examined with great attention and folicitude, and found to be a razure of the skin the whole length of one of his fore-legs. After some topical application, his cushion was placed in the corner by his lady, 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 confufion, by feeing fomething 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 whicit I fat, and which, during the confusion produced by the fall of the screen, had been left on 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


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