« PředchozíPokračovat »
are frequently not the consequences of vicious morals in a state, but the causes.
Hence we see how much greater benefit it would be to the state, rather to abridge than increase its laws. We every day find them increasing; acts and reports, which may be termed the acts of judges, are every day becoming more voluminous, and loading the subject with new penalties.
Laws ever increase in number and severity, until they at length are strained so tight as to break themselves. Such was the case of the latter empire, whose laws were at length become so strict, that the barbarous invaders did not bring servitude but liberty.
OF THE PRIDE AND LUXURY OF THE MIDDLING
CLASS OF PEOPLE.
Of all the follies and absurdities under which this great metropolis labours, there is not one, I believe, that at present appears in a more glaring and ridiculous light, than the pride and luxury of the middling class of people. Their eager desire of being seen in a sphere far above their capacities and circumstances, is daily, nay hourly, instanced, by the prodigious numbers of mechanics who flock to the races, gaming-tables, brothels, and all public diversions this fashionable town affords.
You shall see a grocer, or a tallow-chandler, sneak from behind the counter, clap on a laced coat and a bag, fly to the E O table, throw away fifty pieces with some sharping man of quality; while his industrious wife is selling a pennyworth of sugar, or a pound of candles, to support her fashionable spouse in his extravagances.
I was led into this reflection by an odd adventure, which happened to me the other day at Epsom races, whither I went, not through any desire, I do assure you, of laying bets or winning thousands, but at the earnest request of a friend, who had long indulged the curiosity of seeing the sport very natural for an Englishman. When we had arrived at the course, and had taken several turns to observe the different objects that made up this whimsical group, a figure suddenly darted by us, mounted and dressed in all the elegance of those polite gentry who come to show you they have a little money, and, rather than
pay their just debts at home, generously come abroad to bestow it on gamblers and pickpockets. As I had not an opportunity of viewing his face till his return, I gently walked after him, and met him as he came back, when, to my no small surprise, I beheld in this gay Narcissus the visage of Jack Varnish, a humble vender of prints. Disgusted at the sight, I pulled my friend by the sleeve, pressed him to return home, telling him all the way, that I was so enraged at the fellow's impudence that I was resolved never to lay out another penny with him.
And now, pray sir, let me beg of you to give this a place in your paper, that Mr Varnish may understand he mistakes the thing quite, if he imagines horse-racing recommendable in a tradesman; and that he who is revelling every night in the arms of a common strumpet (though blessed with an indulgent wife), when he ought to be minding his business, will never thrive in this world. He will find himself soon mistaken, his finances decrease, his friends shun him, customers fall off, and himself thrown into a gaol. I would earnestly recommend this adage to every mechanic in London, « Keep your shop, and your shop will keep you.» A strict observance of these words will, I am sure, in time gain them estates. Industry is the road to wealth, and honesty to happiness; and he who strenuously endeavours to pursue them both, may never fear the critic's lash, or the sharp cries of penury and want.
SABINUS AND OLINDA.
In a fair, rich, and flourishing country, whose cliffs are washed by the German Ocean, lived Sabinus, a youth formed by nature to make a conquest wherever he thought proper; but the constancy of his disposition fixed him only with Olinda. He was indeed superiour to her in fortune, but that defect on her side was so amply supplied by her merit, that none was thought more worthy of his regards than she. He loved her, he was beloved by her ; and in a short time, by joining hands publicly, they avowed the union of their hearts. But, alas! none, however fortunate, however happy, are exempt from the shafts of envy, and the malignant effects of ungoverned appetite. How unsafe, how detestable are they who have this fury for their guide! How certainly will it lead them from themselves, and plunge them in errors they would have shuddered at, even in apprehension! Ariana, a lady of many amiable qualities, very nearly allied to Sabinus, and highly esteemed by him, imagined herself slighted, and injuriously treated, since his marriage with Olinda. By incautiously suffering this jealousy to corrode in her breast, she began to give a loose to passion ; she forgot those many virtues for which she had been so long and so justly applauded. Causeless suspicion and mistaken resentment betrayed her into all the gloom of discontent; she sighed without ceasing; the happiness of others gave her intolerable pain; she thought of nothing but revenge. How unlike what she was, the cheerful, the prudent, the compassionate Ariana!
She continually laboured to disturb a union so firmly, so affectionately founded, and planned every scheme which she thought most likely to disturb it.
Fortune seemed willing to promote her unjust intentions; the circumstances of Sabinus had been long embarrassed by a tedious law-suit, and the court determining the cause unexpectedly in favour of his opponent, it sunk his fortune to the lowest pitch of penury from the highest affluence. From the nearness of relationship, Sabinus expected from Ariana those assistances his present situation required; but she was insensible to all his entreaties and the justice of every remonstrance, unless he first separated from Olinda, whom she regarded with detestation. Upon a compliance with her desires in this respect, she promised that her fortune, her interest, and her all, should be at his command. Sabinus was shocked at the proposal ; he loved his wife with inexpressible tenderness, and refused those offers with indignation which were to be purchased at so high a price. Ariana was no less displeased to find her offers rejected, and gave a loose to all that warmth which she had long endeavoured to suppress. Reproach generally produces recrimination; the quarrel rose to such a height, that Sabinus was marked for destruction, and the very next day, upon the strength of an old family debt, he was sent to gaol, with none but Olinda to comfort him in his miseries. In this mansion of distress they lived together with resignation, and even with comfort. She provided the frugal meal, and he read to her while employed in the little offices of domestic concern. Their fellow-prisoners admired their contentment, and whenever they had a desire of relaxing into mirth, and enjoying those little comforts that a prison affords, Sabinus and Olinda were sure to be of the party. Instead of reproaching each other for their mutual wretchedness, they both lightened it, by bearing each a share of the load imposed by Providence. Whenever Sabinus showed the least concern on his dear partner's account, she conjured him, by the love he bore her, by those tender ties which now united them for ever, not to discompose himself; that so long as his affection lasted, she defied all the ills of fortune and every loss of fame or friendship; that nothing could make her miserable but his seeming to want happiness ; nothing please but his sympathizing with her pleasure. A continuance in prison soon robbed them of the little they had left, and famine began to make its horrid appearance; yet still was neither found to murmur : they both looked upon their little boy, who, insensible of their or his own distress, was playing about the room, with inexpressible yet silent anguish, when a messenger came to inform them that Ariana was dead, and that her will in favour of a very distant relation, who was now in another country, might easily be procured and burnt; in which case all her large fortune would revert to him, as being the next heir at law.
A proposal of so base a nature filled our unhappy couple with horror; they ordered the messenger immediately out of the room, and falling upon each other's neck, indulged
for now even all hopes of relief were banished. The messenger who made the proposal, however, was only a spy sent by Ariana to sound the dispositions of a man she at once loved and persecuted. This