Obrázky stránek

this !

undertake is dangerous ; the friends you have named, uncertain ; the time itself unsorted ; and your whole plot too light for the counterpoise of so great an opposition.”

Say you so, say you so—I say unto you again, you are a shallow cowardly hind, and you lie. What a lack-brain is

By the Lord, our plot is a good plot, as ever was laid ; our friends true and constant: a good plot, good friends, and full of expectation : an excellent plot, very good friends. What a frosty-spirited rogue is this !'.

THE SOLDIER. Bravo, Traveller !- your quotation is capital Shakspeare must have written it on purpose for us in anticipation. But might you not add the gallant Percy's exclamation towards the end. “Oh! I could divide myself and go to buffets for moving such a dish of skimmed milk with so honourable an action.”

THE PRESIDENT. Stop your dramatic recitations, gentlemen. We must dispose of this bundle of communications.

THE PROJECTOR. What is to be done with this article upon the state of Ireland ?

THE PRESIDENT. Why it may be suffered to lie upon the table ; as it throws little new light upon the subject. There is, however, a warm and spirited eulogium upon English liberality in raising so large a subscription in so short a time. The writer justly says, that her boundless benevolence is the brightest jewel in the crown of British glory; and, that even if her literature could perish, and her warlike achievements be forgotten, the splendour of her charities must still ennoble and endear her to the most distant generations.

THE MERCHANT. Yet some of the papers, I perceive, have endeavoured to cast a shade of suspicion upon the motives of the subscribers ; and insinuated, that there was more of ostentation, than charity, in their donations.

THE PRESIDENT. That, sir, is the grossest and most egregious stupidity.

In this world, while human nature continues to be what it is, we must be thankful when good is done, without investigating too minutely the secret springs, by which he who does it has been moved. Human motives, even in the best of human actions, are often bad; and almost always mixed and compounded of good and evil. Will our own actions always bear the scrutiny? Is it rational, or useful, to stop the stream of bounty by exposing the mean sources from which it rises? If the benefit is conferred, and the distress relieved, what matters it to the distressed person by what feelings his benefactor has been actuated ? Whatever may have been the motives, the benefit remains the same. In a word, it is not for man to inquire into motives. It would be folly, if his judgment was infallible; but must be weakness and wickedness in the extreme, while it is so perplexed by ignorance, so full of uncertainty, so liable to error. At best he makes but a lucky conjecture; he cannot see into the heart. Actions are between man and man; motives must be left between man and his Maker.

Are there any more communications to be noticed ?

THE PRESIDENT. There is a variety behind : and some that will call for your peculiar attention. But most of them are full of questions, which are as little to the purpose ; as if we should be asked, whether our Clergyman was in the habit of wearing a three-cornered hat.

No personalities, good President !

Are there no questions of more serious import?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes: I have some such here, which have been just handed to me by the Secretary. A correspondent enquires whether our arrangements are completed, or whether we can state any exact period, by which we shall be able to complete them : or whether we can define and circumscribe the whole shape and extent of our future operations. To these interrogatories we must, I fear, answer in the negative. Yet our labours, as you well know, have not

been light; and we have already put things into train. But as our functions increase so fast upon us,

it may

be well to establish a secret committee, composed of three or four members of our Council, to be occasionally relieved by others, in such a manner that all may have their share of the trouble in rotation-which may sit constantly upon the state of our affairs, give the last finishing to the plan, and fill up the blanks and deficiencies of the outline. The first report of their transactions can be published in the next Number, or kept concealed for a time, as may be thought expedient. What say you to this suggestion, gentlemen ?

SEVERAL MEMBERS. Let it be adopted unâ voce.

THE PRESIDENT. Well then, suppose we adjourn until to-morrow night : it grows late; and we have talked at least enough for this evening

[Exeunt omnes.

[blocks in formation]

PRESIDENT. The conversation of last night, gentlemen, turned chiefly upon

the communications, which have been forwarded to us: I should now be glad to know, from your personal knowledge, in what manner our Introductory Report has been received, and what opinions have been expressed upon it in your presence ? Clericus, what have you heard ?

CLERICUS. The fundamental objection, which has reached me, is, that the Members of our Council are no models of character; and that Urbanus, in particular-if I may repeat the words without offence is no better than he should be.

URBANUS. So far I bow with implicit deference to the public opinion.

THE SOLDIER. Models, by the powers ! models !—I have no notion, that the exhibition of models is the surest method for making improvements in morality, whatever may be the case in the Arts. Men must be warned, as well as edified; and if some of us have seen the dark as well as the bright side of human life, it may be better for others, although it has been worse for ourselves. We have bought the experience- let them borrow it.

CLERICUS. Would to heaven they were so disposed! But experience is the last thing which men are inclined to borrow.

THE SOLDIER. Well! with all our imperfections on our heads, we are still a set of very good fellows.

Pray, Merchant, what do they say of us in the City ?

THE MERCHANT. I think that we shall be very popular in a short time. We are already talked about. A member of the Common Council asked me the other day, whether I conceived it would be possible for him to become a Member of the Council of Ten. I told him I knew little about it: but believed it was rather of the nature of a Privy Council.

THE SOLDIER. We shall be very much in vogue, I take it, throughout the

army. We shall supply a fund of amusement and conversation to every mess-room in the kingdom. We shall be a standing-dish at all the clubs.

THE TRAVELLER. Our fame, if I can judge by appearances, will be spread through the Continent before Christmas.

THE POLITICAL ECONOMIST. I have heard a complaint that our plan is not entirely original.

THE PROJECTOR. As if there would be any thing entirely original in the five thousand, eight hundred and twenty-sixth year of the world. We might as well dream of a man's cutting a fresh tooth at the age of sixty. There is nothing new under the sun. And even in this remark we have been anticipated. Solomon made the same discovery some time ago. And if other men have hit occasionally upon our sentiments and expressions, we cannot help it. “ Pereant isti, qui ante nos nostra dixerunt.”

“ Perish they, “ Who've said before us which we meant to say,” Yet original we are: inasmuch as we have copied neither from our predecessors nor our contemporaries. Where have we descended to servile imitation? or where is a scheme to be found splendid and comprehensive as our own?

THE PRESIDENT. Most worthy Citizen of the World, you have been silent both last night and this evening. Let us know the colour of your words.

THE COSMOPOLITE. Your attention is too much confined to the British domi. nions. I shall take little interest in the project, until it is put into more extensive operation.

THE PRESIDENT. All in good time-- il faut commencer par le commencement;" our intents are charitable,” and must begin at home.

THE COSMOPOLITE. The fact is, that with regard to the reception of our plan, I am altogether in the dark. You had better ask our friend the Projector about it: he set it on foot, and must naturally feel most solicitude about it its progress.

THE PROJECTOR. I have been indeed anxious about the business. I have been every where; to the City, to the West End, on 'Change, in the Park, in private houses, in hotels, in parlours, in coffee-rooms; and I have been alternately vexed and pleased, amused and harassed, by the various answers, which have been returned to my inquiries. My ear has been sometimes refreshed by warm praise, and hearty encouragement; but too often it has been assailed by ribald sarcasms : too often there has been something wrong, .something harsh and grating to my feelings. One man had never heard of the work ; another asked if it was a poem ; a .third could give no opinion upon it, until he knew its


« PředchozíPokračovat »