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-Mutato nomine de te
"The flory flily points at you."
RIDE is never more offenfive, than when it condefcends to be civil; whereas vanity, whenever it forgets itself, naturally affumes goodhumour. Nothing was ever more agreeable than Vaneffa t'other night, when I found her in a small circle over her fire-fide, where a certain gentleman had taken the whole task of talking on himself, and left Vanessa nothing else to do, but to fhew him juft as much attention as ferved to make him believe fhe was liftening, and left her at liberty to reft hér own imagination in the mean-time.
I found this gentleman at the clofe of a pathetic narrative he had been giving of fome adventure, which he had met with in his travels, and which he wound up with faying-"I am "afraid, ladies, this ftory has made you melan"choly." If he had faid weary, he had been nearer to the truth: Methought Vaneffa once in her life forgot her ufual politeness, when she answered him "Oh! no; not at all"- but
fhe was thinking of fomething elfe, and the ftory I should guefs had been very circumftantial; fo that I heartily forgave her. The talking gentleman however was not disposed to take her word, but stuck to his opinion, and ħad fo much confideration for the company, as to promise them another ftory, which fhould be altogether as diverting, as the former one had been mournful. There was an effort in the countenance of Vaneffa, which convinced me of her good-humour; fhe ftrove to welcome this promife with a smile; but it was a fmile, that coft her fome pains to produce, and if the talker had poffeffed but one grain of intuition, he must have discovered that all fuch promifes cut up performance, and that no ftory will endure a preface. I felt at that moment all the aukward embarrassment of his fituation, as if it had been my own; and it was a fenfible relief to me, when Vaneffa gave a little hitch to her chair, as if drawing nearer to the ftory-teller, and at the fame time ftooping forward, put herself into a liftening attitude. She never appeared fo amiable in my eyes, and I began to take heart -What pains and trouble, thought I, does this poor man take to make himself agreeable, when every struggle carries him further from his point! And how little does he know what an eafy thing G 3 it
it is to thofe, who have the fecret of fucceeding without any effort at all!—I use almost the very words of a contemporary author, and I am obliged to him for them.
As for the ftory, which now followed, there is no occafion to repeat it; if it had made its entrance without a herald; if it had grown out of the converfation naturally, and not been grafted in against nature; and if it had been lefs prolix, or told with more point, the ftory had not been amifs; it was a good one in its own country, but it was lamed in its journey, and Vanella did not feem exactly to know when it was finished, until the relater made á fecond apoftrophe, hoping he had now repaired all former damages, and reinftated the ladies in their ufual good fpirits. Vanella now found it necessary to say something, and well knowing, without doubt, that people like to be treated as if they had fenfibility, although they have none, the paffed a few compliments upon the frory very neatly turned; when an elderly gentleman (who, as I afterwards found out, was father to the talking gentleman) observed to him, that as he had made us grave, and made us merry, nothing now remained but to make us wife. And who fo fit for that pur"pofe," added he,
as the lady of the houfe
"herfelf?" Vaneffa very aptly replied, that she knew but one way to impofe that belief on. the company, and that was by keeping filence.
"And what is fo edifying," refumed he, << as to keep filence? What is fo good a leffon "of: wifdont, as to fee one, who can talk fo "well, forbear to do it, until other tongues "have run their courfe?"-I ftole a glance at the talkative gentleman, and to my utter furprize he was fo far from being fenfible of the rebuff, that he was actually preparing for another onfet." What you remark upon filence," cried he, "puts me in mind of an admirable "ftory.""That may well be," answered the old gentleman; "but give me leave first to tell "you a ftory, that may put you in mind of "filence."→→
"Jupiter and Apollo came down from Olym pus upon a vifit to king Midas: Mercury "had been dispatched to apprife him of the "guefts he was to entertain, and to fignify to "him, that it was the pleasure of the gods to "be received with no extraordinary honours, "but to be confidered only as travellers, who "came to pay a vifit to his court, and take "view of his capital. On the day appointed, "Jupiter, in the perfon of an elderly Athenian gentleman, and Apollo as his fon, prefented G 4 "themselves
"themfelves in the great faloon of the palace: "Midas, furrounded by his courtiers, and glit"tering in his richeft robes, received the gods "habited in this fimple attire, and unattended. "The injunctions of Mercury were neglected, "for the feaft was the moft fumptuous that art "and luxury could devife; and the gods were "difgufted with the vanity of their host, and "the profufion of his entertainment. When "Midas had thus contrived to display the wealth "and fplendor of his court to his celeftial "guests, his next ftudy was to impress them "with an opinion of his talents and accom"plishments: He difcourfed to Jupiter, without "ceafing, upon his maxims and rules of governСС ment; he treated him with innumerable anec"dotes and events, calculated to set off his own "wisdom, confequence, and good policy, and " of every tale he made himself the hero. The "courtiers kept filence through fear, the deities "through contempt; no voice was heard but "the voice of Midas. He had not the sense "to difcern the impropriety of his being an in"ceffant talker, when he ought only to have "been a refpectful hearer; and fo confummate CC was his vanity, that having poffeffed Jupiter "with impreffions, as he foolishly imagined, of "his wifdom and fcience, he flattered himself "nothing