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On the day of our departure, in the twilight of the morning, I afcended the vehicle with three men and two women, my fellow-travellers. It was eafy to obferve the affected elevation of mien with which every one entered, and the fupercilious civility with which they paid their compliments to each other. When the first ceremony was difpatched, we fat filent for a long time, all employed in collecting importance into our faces, and endeavouring to strike reverence and fubmiffion into our companions.
It is always obfervable that filence propagates itfelf, and that the longer talk has been fufpended, the more difficult it is to find any thing to fay. We began now to wifh for converfation; but no one fecined inclined to defcend from his dignity, or first propofe a topick of difcourfe. At laft a corpulent gentleman, who had equipped himfelf for this expedition with a fcarlet furtout and a large hat with a broad lace, drew out his watch, looked on it in filence, and then held it dangling at his finger. This was, I fuppofe, understood by all the company as an invitation to ask the time of the day, but nobody appeared to heed his overture; and his defire to be talking fo far overcame his refentment, that he let us know of his own accord that it was past five, and that in two hours we fhould be at breakfast.
His condefcenfion was thrown away; we continued all obdurate; the ladies held up their heads; I amufed myself with watching their behaviour; and of the other two, one feemed to employ himself in counting the trees as we drove by them, the
other drew his hat over his eyes and counterfeited a flumber. The man of benevolence, to fhew that he was not depreffed by our neglect, hummed a tune and beat time upon his fnuff-box.
Thus univerfally displeased with one another, and not much delighted with ourselves, we came at last to the little inn appointed for our repast; and all began at once to recompenfe themfelves for the constraint of filence, by innumerable queftions and orders to the people that attended us. At last, what every one had called for was got, or declared impoffible to be got at that time, and we were perfuaded to fit round the fame table; when the gentleman in the red furtout looked again upon his watch, told us that we had half an hour to spare, but he was forry to fee fo little merriment among us; that all fellow-travellers were for the time upon the level, and that it was always his way to make himfelf one of the company. "I remember," fays he, "it was on juft fuch a morning as this, that I and
my Lord Mumble and the Duke of Tenterden "were out upon a ramble: we called at a little "houfe as it might be this; and my landlady, I "warrant you, not fufpecting to whom fhe was
talking, was fo jocular and facetious, and made "fo many merry anfwers to our queftions, that we "were all ready to burft with laughter. At laft the
good woman happening to overhear me whisper "the duke and call him by his title, was fo fur"prifed and confounded, that we could fcarcely "get a word from her; and the duke never met me from that day to this, but he talks of the "little
"little houfe, and quarrels with me for terrifying "the landlady."
He had fcarcely time to congratulate himself on the veneration which this narrative must have procured him from the company, when one of the ladies having reached out for a plate on a diftant part of the table, began to remark "the inconve"niences of travelling, and the difficulty which they who never fat at home without a great num"ber of attendants found in performing for them "felves fuch offices as the road required; but that "people of quality often travelled in difguife, and might be generally known from the vulgar by "their condefcenfion to poor inn-keepers, and the "allowance which they made for any defect in "their entertainment; that for her part, while peo"ple were civil and meant well, it was never her "cuftom to find fault, for one was not to expect upon "a journey all that one enjoyed at one's own houfe."
A general emulation feemed now to be excited. One of the men, who had hitherto faid nothing, called for the last news-paper; and having perufed it a while with deep penfivenefs, "It is impoffible," fays he, "for any man to guefs how to act with regard to the stocks: laft week it was the general opinion that, they would fall, and I fold out "twenty thousand pounds in order to a purchase: they have now rifen unexpectedly; and I make "no doubt but at my return to Lenden I fhall riik "thirty thousand pounds among them again."
A young man, who had hitherto diftinguished himfelf only by the vivacity of his looks, and a
frequent diverfion of his eyes from one object to another, upon this clofed his fnuff-box, and told us, that he had a hundred times talked with the "chancellor and the judges on the fubject of the
ftocks; that for his part he did not pretend to be "well acquainted with the principles on which they "were established, but had always heard them "reckoned pernicious to trade, uncertain in their "produce, and unfolid in their foundation; and
that he had been advised by three judges, his "moft intimate friends, never to venture his money "in the funds, but to put it out upon land-fecuIrity, till he could light upon an estate in his own #country."
It might be expected, that upon these glimpses of latent dignity, we fhould all have began to look round us with veneration; and have behaved like the princes of romance, when the enchantment that difguifes them is diffolved, and they difcover the dignity of each other: yet it happened, that none of these hints made much impreffion on the company; every one was apparently fufpected of endeavouring to impofe falfe appearances upon the reft; all continued their haughtiness in hopes to enforce their claims; and all grew every hour more fullen, because they found their representations of themselves without effect.
Thus we travelled on four days with malevolence perpetually increasing, and without any endeavour but to outvie each other in fupercilioufnefs and neglect, and when any two of us could feparate ourfelves for a moment, we vented our indignation at the faucinefs of the rest.
At length the journey was at an end; and time and chance, that ftrip off all difguifes, have difcovered, that the intimate of lords and dukes is a nobleman's butler, who has furnished a fhop with the money he has faved; the man who deals fo largely in the funds, is a clerk of a broker in 'Change-alley; the lady who fo carefully concealed her quality, keeps a cook-fhop behind the Exchange; and the young man, who is fo happy in the friendship of the judges, engroffes and tranfcribes for bread in a garret of the Temple. Of one of the women only I could make no difadvantageous detection, because she had affumed no character, but accommodated herself to the scene before her, without any ftruggle for diftinction or fuperiority.
I could not forbear to reflect on the folly of practifing a fraud, which, as the event fhewed, had been already practised too often to fucceed, and by the fuccefs of which no advantage could have been obtained; of affuming a character, which was to end with the day; and of claiming upon falfe pretences honours which must perifh with the breath that paid them.
But, Mr. Adventurer, let not thofe who laugh at me and my companions, think this folly confined to a ftage-coach. Every man in the journey of life takes the fame advantage of the ignorance of his fellow-travellers, difguifes himfelf in counterfeited merit, and hears thofe praifes with complacency which his confcience reproaches him for accepting. Every man deceives himfelf, while he thinks he is deceiving others; and forgets that the time is at hand when every illufion fhall ceafe, when fictitious Excellence