« السابقةمتابعة »
On the day of our departure, in the twilight of the morning, I ascended the vehicle with three men and two women, my fellow-travellers. It was easy to observe the affected elevation of mien with which every one entered, and the supercilious civility with which they paid their compliments to each other. When the first ceremony was dirpatched, we sat silent for a long time, all employed in collecting importance into our faces, and endeavouring to strike reverence and submission into our companions.
It is always observable that silence propagates itfelt, and that the longer talk has been suspended, the more difficult it is to find any thing to fay, We began now to wish for conversation; but no one seeined inclined to descend froin his dignity, or first propose a topick of discourse. At last a corpulent gentleinan, who had equipped himself for this expedition with a scarlet surtout and a large hat with a broad lace, drew out his watch, looked on it in silence, and then held it dangling at his finger. This was, I suppose, understood by all the company as an invitation to ask the time of the day, but nobody appeared to heed his overture ; and his desire to be talking so far overcame his resentment, that he let us know of his own accord that it was past five, and that in two hours we should be at breakfast.
His condescension was thrown away; we continued all obdurate; the ladies held up their heads; I amused myself with watching their behaviour ; and of the other two, one seemed to employ himself in counting the trees as we drove by them, the
other other drew his hat over his eyes and counterfeited a Number. The man of benevolence, to shew that he was not depressed by our neglect, hummed a tune and beat time upon his snuff-box.
Thus universally displeased with one another, and not much delighted with ourselves, we came at last Lo the little inn appointed for our repast; and all began at once to recompense themselves for the constraint of silence, by innumerable questions 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 persuaded to fit round the same table; when the gentleman in the red surtout looked again upon his watch, told us that we had half an hour to spare, but he was forry to see so little inerriment among us; that all fellow-travellers were for the time upon the level, and that it was always his way to make himself one of the company. “I remember,” says he, « it was on just such a morning as this, that I and " my Lord Mumble and the Duke of Tenterden “ were out upon a rainble : we called at a little “ house as it might be this; and my landlady, I “ warrant you, not suspecting to whom she was “talking, was so jocular and facetious, and made “ so many merry answers to our questions, that we “ were all ready to burst with laughter. At last the “ good woman happening to oveshear me whisper “ the duke and call him by his title, was so sur“prised and confounded, that we could scarcely “ get a word from her; and the duke never met « me from that day to this, but he talks of the
« little house, and quarrels with me for terrifying " the landlady."
He had scarcely 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 distant part of the table, began to remark « the inconve« niences of travelling, and the difficulty which “they who never sat at home without a great num“ber of attendants found in perforining for them “ selves such offices as the road required; but that “ people of quality often travelled in disguise, and “ might be generally known from the vulgar by “ their condescension to poor inn-keepers, and the " allowance which they made for any defect in " their entertainmeni; that for her part, while peo, “ple were civil and meant well, it was never her "custom to find fault, for one was not to expect upon “ a journey all that one enjoyed at one's own house.”
A general emulation seemed now to be excited. One of the men, who had hitherto said nothing, called for the last news-paper; and having perused it a while with deep pensiveness, “It is impossible," says he, “ for any man to guess how to act with re“ gard to the stocks : last week it was the general “ opinion that they would fall; and I sold out “ twenty thousand pounds in order to a purchase : “ they have now risen unexpectedly; and I make “ no doubt but at my return to London I shall riik " thirty thousand pounds among them again.” .
A young man, who had hitherto distinguished himself only by the vivacity of his looks, and a
One was not to
frequent diversion of his eyes from one object to another, upon this closed his snuff-box, and told us, that “he had a hundred times talked with the « chancellor and the judges on the subject of the « ftocks; that for his part he did not pretend to be « well acquainted with the principles on which they as were established, but had always heard them « reckoned pernicious to trade, uncertain in their
e produce, and unlolid in their foundation; and " that he had been advised by three judges, his " most intimate friends, never to venture his money “ in the funds, but to put it out upon land-secu“rity, till he could light upon an estate in his own
It might be expected, that upon these glimpses of latent dignity, we should all have began to look round us with veneration; and have behaved like the princes of romance, when the enchantinent that disguises them is dissolved, and they discover the dignity of each other : yet it happened, that none of these hints made much impression on the company; every one was apparently suspected of endeavouring to impose false appearances upon the rest; all continued their haughtiness in hopes to enforce their claims; and all grew every hour more sullen, 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 superciliousness and neglect; and when any two of us could separate ourselves for a moment, we vented our indignation at the sauciness of the rest.
At length the journey was at an end ; and time and chance, that strip off all disguises, have discovered, that the intimate of lords and dukes is a nobleman's butler, who has furnished a shop with the money he has saved; the man who deals so largely in the funds, is a clerk of a broker in 'Change-alley ; the lady who so carefully concealed her quality, keeps a cook-shop behind the Exchange ; and the young man, who is so happy in the friendship of the judges, engrosses and transcribes for bread in a garret of the Temple. Of one of the women only I could make no diladvantageous detection, because she had assumed no character, but accommodated herself to the scene before her, without any struggle for distinction or superiority.
I could not forbear to reflect on the folly of prac, tising a fraud, which, as the event showed, had been already practised too often to succeed, and by the success of which no advantage could have been obtained; of assuming a character, which was to end with the day; and of claiming upon false pretences honours which must perish with the breath that paid them.
But, Mr. Adventurer, let not those who laugh at me and my companions, think this folly confined to a stage-coach. Every man in the journey of life takes the same advantage of the ignorance of his fellow-travellers, disguises himself in counterfeited merit, and hears those praises with complacency which his conscience reproaches him for accepting, Every man deceives himself, while he thinks he is deceiving others; and forgets that the time is at hand when every illusion thall cease, when fictitious