« PředchozíPokračovat »
attempt to force a kiss, and no person shall offer to strike a woman in the assembly, under pain of future exclusion.»
Such are the statutes upon this occasion, which in their very appearance carry an air of ridicule and satire.
But politeness must enter every country by degrees; and these rules resemble the breeding of a clown, awkward but sincere.
SUPPOSED TO BE WRITTEN BY THE ORDINARY OF NEWGATE.
Man is a most frail being, incapable of directing his steps, unacquainted with what is to happen in this life; and perhaps no man is a more manifest instance of the truth of this maxim, than Mr. The. Cibber, just now gone out of the world. Such a variety of turns of fortune, yet such persevering uniformity of conduct, appears in all that happened in his short span, that the whole may be looked upon as one regular confusion: every action of his life was matter of wonder and surprise, and his death was an astonishment.
This gentleman was born of creditable parents, who gave him a very good education, and a great deal of good learning, so that he could read and write before he was sixteen. However, he early discovered an inclination to follow lewd courses; he refused to take the advice of his parents, and pursued the bent of his inclination; he played at cards on Sundays; called himself a gentleman ; fell out with his mother and laundress; and even in these early
days his father was frequently heard to observe, that young The.—would be hanged.
As he advanced in years, he grew more fond of pleasure; would eat an ortolan for dinner, though he begged the guinea that bought it; and was once known to give three pounds for a plate of green peas, which he had collected over-night as charity for a friend in distress: he ran into debt with every body that would trust him, and none could build a sconce better than he; so that at last his creditors swore with one accord, that The.-would be hanged.
But as getting into debt by a man who had no visible means but impudence for subsistence, is a thing that every reader is not acquainted with, I must explain that point a little, and that to his satisfaction.
There are three ways of getting into debt; first, by pushing a face; as thus : You, Mr. Lutestring, send me home six yards of that paduasoy, damme;—but, harkee, don't think I ever intend to pay you for it, damme.»
At this the mercer laughs heartily; cuts off the paduasoy, and sends it home; nor is he, till too late, surprised to find the gentleman had said nothing but truth, and kept his word.
The second method of running into debt is called fineering; which is getting goods made up in such a fashion as to be unfit for every other purchaser; and if the tradesman refuses to give them credit, then threaten to leave them upon his hands.
But the third and best method is called, « Being the good customer.» The gentleman first buys some trifle, and pays for it in ready money; he comes a few days after with nothing about him but bank bills, and buys, we will suppose, a sixpenny tweezer-case; the bills are too great to be changed, so he promises to return punctually the day after and pay for what he has bought. In this promise he is punctual, and this is repeated for eight or ten times, till his face is well known, and he has got at last the character of a good customer : by this means he gets credit for something considerable, and then never pays for it.
In all this, the young man who is the unhappy subject of our present reflections was very expert ; and could face, fineer, and bring custom to a shop with any man in England : none of his companions could exceed him in this ; and his very companions at last said, that The.would be hanged. As he
grew old he grew never the better; he loved ortolans and green peas as before; he drank gravy-soup when he could get it, and always thought his oysters tasted best when he got them for nothing, or which was just the same, when he bought them upon tick : thus the old man kept up the vices of the youth, and what he wanted in power he made up by inclination; so that all the world thought, that old The.—would be hanged.
And now, reader, I have brought him to his last scene; a scene where, perhaps, my duty should have obliged me to assist,
You expect, perhaps, his dying words, and the tender farewell he took of his wife and children ; you expect an account of his coffin and white gloves, his pious ejaculations, and the papers he left behind him. In this I cannot indulge your curiosity; for, oh! the mysteries of Fate, The.-was drowned !
« Reader,» as Hervey saith, «pause and ponder ; and ponder and pause; who knows what thy own end may be ! »
I take the liberty to communicate to the public a few loose thoughts upon a subject, which, though often handled, has not yet in my opinion been fully discussed: I mean national concord, or unanimity, which in this kingdom has been generally considered as a bare possibility, that existed nowhere but in speculation. Such a union is perhaps neither to be expected nor wished for in a country, whose liberty depends rather upon the genius of the people, than upon any precautions which they have taken in a constitutional way for the guard and preservation of this inestimable blessing.
There is a very honest gentleman, with whom I have been acquainted these thirty years, during which there has not been one speech uttered against the ministry in parliament, nor struggle at an election for a burgess to serve in the House of Commons, nor a pamphlet published in opposition to any measure of the administration, nor even a private censure passed in his hearing upon the misconduct of any person concerned in public affairs, but he is immediately alarmed, and loudly exclaims against such factious doings, in order to set the people by the ears together at such a delicate juncture.
« At any other time (says he) such opposition might not be improper, and I don't question the facts that are alleged; but at this crisis, sir, to inflame the nation!- the man deserves to be punished as a traltor to his country.» In a word, according to this gentleman's opinion, the nation has been in a violent crisis at any time these thirty years; and were it possible for him to live another century, he would never find any period, at which a man might with safety impugn the infallibility of a minister.
The case is no more than this: my honest friend has invested his whole fortune in the stocks, on Government security, and trembles at every whiff of popular discon
Were every British subject of the same tame and timid disposition Magna Charta (to use the coarse phrase of Oliver Cromwell) would be no more regarded by an ambitious prince than Magna F—ta, and the liberties of England expire without a groan. Opposition, when restrained within due bounds, is the salubrious gale that ventilates the opinions of the people, which might otherwise stagnate into the most abject submission. It may be said to purify the atmosphere of politics ; to dispel the gross vapours raised by the influence of ministerial artifice and corruption, until the constitution, like a mighty rock, stands full disclosed to the view of every individual who dwells within the shade of its protection. Even when this gale blows with augmented violence, it generally tends to the advantage of the commonwealth : it awakes the apprehension, and consequently arouses all the faculties of the pilot at the helm, who redoubles his vigilance and caution, exerts his utmost skill, and, becoming acquainted with the nature of the navigation, in a little time learns to suit his canvass to the roughness of the sea and the trim of the vessel. Without these intervening storms of opposition to exercise his faculties, he would become enervate, negligent, and presumptuous; and in the wantonness of his power, trusting to some deceitful calm, perhaps hazard a step that would wreck the constitution. Yet there is a measure in all things. A moderate frost will fertilize the glebe with nitrous particles, and destroy the eggs of pernicious insects that prey upon the infancy of the year: but if this frost in