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had been as ignorant as most of the authors of the present age. Nor do I believe that all the imagination, fire, and judgement of Pitt, could have produced those orations that have made the senate of England, in these our times, a rival in eloquence to Greece and Rome, if he had not been so well read in the writings of Demosthenes and Cicero, as to have transferred their whole spirit into his speeches, and with their spirit, their knowledge too.
I would not here be understood to insist on the same fund of learning in any of my brethren, as Cicero persuades us is necessary to the composition of an orator. On the contrary, very little reading is, I conceive, necessary to the poet, less to the critic, and the least of all to the politician. For the first, perhaps, Byshe's Art of Poetry, and a few of our modern poets, may suffice; for the second, a moderate heap of plays; and, for the last, an indifferent collection of political journals.
To say the truth, I require no more than that a man should have some little knowledge of the subject on which he treats, according to the old maxim of law, Quam quisque nôrit artem in eû se exer. ceat. With this alone, a writer may sometimes do tolerably well; and indeed without this, all the other learning in the world will stand him in little stead.
For instance, let us suppose that Homer and Vir gil, Aristotle and Cicero, Thucydides and. Livy, could have met all together, and have clubbed their several talents to have composed a treatise on the art of dancing: I believe it will be readily agreed they could not have equalled the excellent treatise which Mr. Essex bath given us on that subject, en. titled, The Rudiments of genteel Education. And, indeed, should the excellent Mr. Broughton be pre vailed on to set fist to paper, and to complete the abovesaid rudiments, by delivering down the true principles of athletics, I question whether the world will have any cause to lament, that none of
the great writers, either ancient or modern, have ever treated about that noble and useful art.
To avoid a multiplicity of examples in so plain a case, and to come at once to my point, I am apt to conceive, that one reason why many English writers have totally failed in describing the manners of upper life, may possibly be, that, in reality, they know nothing of it.
This is a knowledge unhappily not in the power of many authors to arrive at. Books will give us a very imperfect idea of it; nor will the stage a much better: the fine gentleman, formed upon reading the former, will almost always turn out a pedant; and he who forms himself upon the latter, a cox
Nor are the characters drawn from these models better supported. Vanburgh and Congreve copied nature: but they who copy them draw as unlike the present age, as Hogarth would do if he was to paint a rout or a drum in the dresses of Titian and of Vandyke. In short, imitation here will not do the business. The picture must be after nature herself. A true knowledge of the world is gained only by conversation, and the manners of every rank must be seen in order to be known.
Now it happens that this higher order of mortals is not to be seen, like all the rest of the human species, for nothing, in the streets, shops, and coffee. houses: nor are they shown, like the upper rank of animals, for so much a-piece. In short, this is a sight to which no persons are admitted, without one or other of these qualifications, viz. either birth or fortune, or, what is equivalent to both, the honour. able profession of a gamester. And, very unluckily for the world, persons so qualified very seldom care to take upon themselves the bad trade of writing; which is generally entered upon by the lower and poorer sort, as it is a trade which many think requires no kind of stock to set up with.
Hence those strange monsters in lace and em
broidery, in silks and brocades, with vast wigs and hoops, which, under the names of lords and ladies, strut the stage, to the great delight of attorneys and their clerks in the pit, and of the citizens and their apprentices in the galleries; and which are no more to be found in real life, than the centaur, the chi mera, or any other creature of mere fiction. But, to let my reader into a secret, this knowledge of up. per life, though very necessary for preventing mistakes, is no very great resource to a writer whose province is comedy, or that kind of novels which, like this I am writing, is of the comic class.
What Mr. Pope says of women, is very applicable to most in this station, who are indeed so entirely made up of form and affectation, that they have no character at all, at least, none which appears. I will venture to say, the highest life is much the dullest, and affords very little humour or entertain. ment. The various callings in lower spheres pro, duce the great variety of humorous characters; whereas here, except among the few who are engaged in the pursuit of ambition, and the fewer still who have a relish for pleasure, all is vanity and servile imitation. Dressing and cards, eating and drink ing, bowing and curtsying, make up the business of their lives.
Some there are, however, of this rank, upon whom passion exercises its tyranny, and hurries them far beyond the bounds which decorum prescribes; of these, the ladies are as much distinguished by their noble intrepidity, and a certain superior contempt of reputation, from the frail ones of meaner degree, as a virtuous woman of quality is by the elegance and delicacy of her sentiments from the honest wife of a yeoman or shopkeeper. Lady Bellaston was of this intrepid character; but let not my country readers conclude from her, that this is the general conduct of women of fashion, or that we mean to represent them as such. They might as well suppose, that every clergyman was represented
by Thwackum, or every soldier by Ensign North.
There is not, indeed, a greater error, than that which universally prevails among the vulgar, who, borrowing their opinion from some ignorant satirists, have affixed the character of lewdness to these times. On the contrary, I am convinced there never was less of love intrigue carried on among persons of condition, than now. Our present women have been taught by their mothers to fix their thoughts only on ambition and vanity, and to despise the pleasures of love as unworthy their regard; and being after. wards, by the care of such mothers, married with. out having husbands, they seem pretty well confirm. ed in the justness of those sentiments; whence they content themselves, for the dull remainder of life, with the pursuit of more innocent, but, I am afraid, more childish amusements; the bare mention of which would ill suit with the dignity of this history. In my humble opinion, the true characteristic of the present beau monde is rather folly than vice, and the only epithet which it deserves is that of frivolous.
JONES had not been long at home, before he re
ceived the following letter:
"I was never more surprised than when I found you was gone. When you left the room, I little imagined you intended to have left the house without seeing me again. Your behaviour is all of a piece, and convinces me how much I ought to despise a heart which can doat upon an idiot; though I know not whether I should not admire her cun ning more than her simplicity; wonderful both! For though she understood not a word of what pass. ed between us, yet she had the skill, the assurance,
the what shall I call it? to deny to my face, that she knows you, or ever saw you before... Was this a scheme laid between you, and have you been base enough to betray me? O, how I despise her, you, and all the world, but chiefly myself! for
I dare not write what I should afterwards run mad to read; but remember, I can detest as violently as I have loved.'
Jones had but little time given him to reflect on this letter, before a second was brought him from the same hand; and this, likewise, we shall set down in the precise words:
When you consider the hurry of spirits in which I must have writ, you cannot be surprised at any expressions in my former note. Yet, perhaps, on reflection, they were rather too warm. At least I would, if possible, think all owing to the odious playhouse, and to the impertinence of a fool, which detained me beyond my appointment. How easy is it to think well of those we love? Perhaps you de sire I should think so. I have resolved to see you to-night; so come to me immediately.
P. S. I have ordered to be at home to none but yourself.
P. S. Mr. Jones will imagine I shall assist him in his defence; for I believe he cannot desire to impose on me more than I desire to impose on myself.
'P. S. Come immediately...
To the men of intrigue I refer the determination, whether the angry or the tender letter gave the greatest uneasiness to Jones. Certain it is, he had no violent inclination to pay any more visits that evening, unless to one single person. However, he thought his honour engaged; and had not this been motive sufficient, he would not have ventured to